You're a week away from saying "I do"—and trust us, we know you're soready. But with seven days to go, there are a few seemingly small but important tasks that need to be checked off your list so they don't fall through the cracks. You don't want to be at the altar ready for your groom to break the glass and then realize that there's no glass, right?
1. Overcommunicate With Your VendorsTo make sure everyone is on the same page (so they don't need to call you or your point people on the day-of) call every single wedding vendor and confirm, then re-confirm each arrangement you have with them, including, but not limited to:
4. Schedule Any Beauty AppointmentsYour fingers will likely be texting all week, which makes it even more crucial to keep your nails fresh. Make any minor beauty appointments you want done that week. Think: a mani-pedi, waxing, massage, blowout and facial. This goes for your groom too—make sure his hair is trimmed and face is shaved (if that's the look he's after). Any experimental beauty treatments (like facial peels, lasering, hair coloring and drastic cuts) should be done a few months in advance, just in case they don't turn out as expected.
5. Arrange Help for Any Guests Who Need ItIf you have any ill or elderly guests coming to your wedding, it will be meaningful for them to know you're so glad they can attend. Show your love by making sure they have proper transportation to and from the airport and your wedding events and that they have a comfortable place to stay. You can ask family members, friends or attendants to help with any pick-ups and drop-offs.
6. Hand These Items OffGetting married also means having a lot of important things to distribute among your family and attendants.
8. Deliver Welcome BasketsWhether it's you or an attendant, deliver your welcome baskets for guests to the hotel concierge. Make a list of names, delivery instructions and any additional information you have to prevent any mix-ups.
What’s the difference between an event stylist and a wedding coordinator? We tapped a Maryland-based wedding planner for a rundown of every type of planning service you should know about (before you hire someone).
by Maggie Seaver
Think there’s only one type of wedding planner out there? Think again. From day-of coordinators to destination event designers, you have a wide range of pros and services to choose from to bring your celebration to life. If you’re overwhelmed by the abundance of vendor options, services, price points and unfamiliar terminology, relax—you’re in the right place. Here to clarify all your questions and offer helpful industry expertise is Danielle Couick, owner and principal planner of full-service event planning and design firm Magnolia Bluebird Design & Events based in Rockville, Maryland.
What are the various types of wedding planning pros a couple can choose to hire for their day?Planner: “This pro is organized, efficient, timely and logistically minded—budget development and tracking, timelines, floor plans, contracts, deadlines and production schedules are second nature to them,” Couick says. “They recommend, procure and manage your wedding team. They’re on-site from start to finish to coordinate and execute the logistics and all the finer details.”
Designer: “A designer is a creative, a dreamer, and aesthetics are their strength,” she says. “They see both big-picture and small details. They should listen to your needs and desires, assess the logistical parameters of your wedding, view your space and understand your ideal budget. They’ll develop a cohesive and stylish look, feel, mood and overall aesthetic of your wedding day in a realistic way.”
Event Stylist: “I find an event stylist’s point of view is that of a camera lens or magazine spread,” Couick says. “They can work independently or with your planner or designer to develop the overall aesthetic and create the mood of your wedding. On-site, an event stylist will style and stage your attire and accessories, invitation suite, tablescapes, props, bars and more for the most aesthetically pleasing photograph or guest experience.”
Couick also stresses how important is to factor in function along with style. “Just because it looks great in a photo doesn’t mean it’ll work realistically or logistically,” she says. If you’re set on hiring a stylist to stage those print-worthy shots, communicate this wish to your planner and photographer (and/or videographer. You might need to hire more shooters—or hire your photo team for an extra day—to capture both those styled detail shots and your organic real-life wedding moments. It’s a lot to snap in one day.
Coordinator or On-Site Event Manager: “This pro is organized and focused on logistics and will often step in closer to your wedding day (anywhere from four to eight weeks out). They review final vendor contracts; finalize day-of needs (such as your various details, payments due and gratuity distribution); schedule and conduct the final walk-through; finalize your day-of timeline, floor plans and guest count; manage your vendor team on-site; and execute both the wedding rehearsal and actual day,” she says.
How do types of services differ among various pros? And what’s the best way for a couple to decide if it’s the right fit?“As a planner and designer, I want to learn about you, your needs, goals and budget to determine if we (my company, our values, services, vision and skill set) are the right fit for you,” Couick says. “This should be mutual and true for the company you hire as well (you shouldn’t just hire a ‘yes man’). I’ve listed the five most common levels of planning service from least to most comprehensive.”
Styling ($–$$): “Consulting on the creation and design of the aesthetic and visuals of your wedding day or day-of details. Styling can be limited to full-scale creative design to on-site visual styling.”
Why you’d hire a stylist: “If you want to enhance your chances of having your wedding published. You obsess over the details. You want the extra-special finishing touches without the worry of making them happen.”
Month-of Coordination or Day-of Planning ($–$$): “Don't let the name fool you. Coordinating your wedding effectively and professionally requires experience, skill, time and some advanced planning, so month-of coordination usually starts four to eight weeks from your date,” she says. “You’ll plan and procure all your vendors, needs and details, then a coordinator steps in to finalize the outstanding elements, troubleshoot as necessary, manage your vendor team and execute your wedding rehearsal and wedding day.”
Why you’d hire a month-of coordinator: “Because you know the ship won’t steer itself on your wedding day. You want a pro to handle the details, troubleshoot any problems without you knowing and keep your timeline [flowing] for a stress-free and happy day.”
Partial Service—Two Ways ($$–$$$):1. You could hire a planner to tap them for vendor recs, but you would do the contacting, negotiating and managing. Your planner would be there to provide design support and on-site execution. “It feels like a win-win because you’ll get good referrals from a trusted source, plus your planner’s creative eye,” Couick says. “What it lacks is the professional, real-time guidance of someone managing and negotiating these elements on your behalf with big-picture focus.”
2. You could hire a planner to assist with coordinating a few, versus every, detail. “You get the professional support you need where you need it most, [but] it lacks a more cohesive bird's-eye view of your overall wedding,” Couick says.
Why you’d hire a partial planner: “You want a little more support beyond just your wedding day, and you know you need a pro to get you there.”
Full-Service ($$$–$$$$):“A full-service planner (also called a turnkey or bespoke planner) helps you plan everything from start to finish—for the wedding day only or for a weekend of events,” Couick says. “They help [craft your] budget, create and manage your planning timeline, recommend, procure and negotiate with vendors and review, facilitate and attend site selection and walk-throughs. They also help manage your guest list, timelines, floor plans, event design, etiquette and on-site management.”
Why you’d hiring a full-service planner: “You see the value in having a professional guide you through the process and handle all the details. You understand the myriad of moving parts, trust the process and know an experienced pro is the best way to plan wedding weekend without losing your mind.”
Destination ($$$–$$$$):“In addition to the full-service scope of planning, this pro can help you scout the perfect location, venue and vendors; support your guests with travel and accommodations; design trip itineraries; and navigate cultural differences, laws and regulations.”
Why you’d hire a destination planner: “Because getting married on a pristine shoreline or at a centuries-old manor across the pond is the most beautiful vision you can think of—but travel itineraries, customs, language and cultural barriers, and logistics for a weekend of events for your entire guest list is not. You want the entire experience to be as flawless as the wedding itself.”
Can one pro offer more than one type of service? “The short answer is yes—these roles are not mutually exclusive,” Couick says. “Planners can be designers, but not all designers are planners. Planners and designers can be stylists, but not all stylists are planners or designers. Planners can be coordinators, but not all coordinators are planners. Planners can be a designer, stylist and coordinator, but the reverse is not true.” We know it starts to sound a bit like a riddle—but all of this is due to the fact that the role of a planner is by nature a more comprehensive one than say, a stylist, whose services are very specific.
What are some common misconceptions couples have when looking for the right type of pro for their wedding?“Between Instagram and Pinterest, we live in a highly tailored and curated world—but remember, your wedding is real life, not a cropped studio shot,” Couick says. “Also, as the wedding market becomes more saturated with novice planners, designers, stylists and coordinators, I’m finding couples are buying into something that sounds good or checks the boxes, rather than relying on a trusted, experienced professional to guide and elevate their experience. There’s truth in the sayings ‘you get what you pay for’ and ‘time is money.’” So make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting.
This article originally posted on Brides.com
If it’s not your first time tying the knot, there are probably a number of questions running through your head. What can you do again? What should you do differently? And what just totally doesn’t fly? We asked our wedding experts to walk us through eight of the biggest questions that couples ask when planning a second wedding.
Whether it’s your first wedding and your partner’s second, vice versa, or you’ve both been down the aisle before, if one of you has previously tied the knot, there are definitely a few details that aren’t as cut and dry as they are the first time around. Thankfully, wedding planner Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events, has first-hand experience to help guide you. “I just got married for the first time, but it was my now-husband’s second marriage. These are the big things we took into consideration as we planned our wedding,” Nichols says.
Is it alright to have a big wedding?
It depends! Says Nichols, “If you both previously had larger weddings, and they were less than five years ago, it might not really be appropriate to have a large wedding now. However, if it is one of your's first weddings, then it might be OK.” Ultimately, it is up to the two of you to choose how big or formal your second wedding might be. “One thing to be sensitive to is if there are children from the previous marriage,” Nichols adds. “If they're young or may be uncomfortable in a large wedding setting, this might be something to take into consideration. For my recent wedding, my husband had two tween/teenage sons from a previous marriage and we chose to have a smaller wedding. We both felt it would be ‘easier’ on the kids if it wasn’t a big, over-the-top affair.”
Can we have a religious ceremony?
“This is something you ultimately should decide together as a couple and with your clergy person,” says Nichols. “Every religion is different in terms of what is considered respectful and acceptable when it comes to second marriages.” Know that some faiths may be opposed to having a religious ceremony for your second marriage—and may not allow you to hold the wedding in a house of worship.
Can the bride wear white?“
Sure! It is her wedding day, and if a bride wants to wear white, she should be able to wear whatever she'd like,” Nichols states.
Can we have a wedding shower or bachelor/bachelorette parties?
This is a trickier one. “In my opinion, if it is the bride's first wedding, yes, you can have a shower or a bachelorette party. If it is the bride's second wedding, in theory she would already have many of the things ‘needed’ for starting adult life in your own home, such as pots and pans, etc.—which are some of the most common shower gifts,” Nichols explains. Of course, many couples choose to get new housewares to reflect their new relationship and marriage. “Feel our friends and family out on this one,” says Nichols. “If someone is offering to host a celebration for you and everyone is enthusiastic about the idea, it’s okay to have a shower. I just would recommend keeping the guest list on the smaller side.”
Nichols also wants brides who are marrying for the second time to know that some friends may opt to not buy a second shower gift—and may skip the wedding present, too—if they were there for the first wedding, and that is 100% okay on their part. “It’s also important to be sensitive to any female friends or relatives who have not gotten engaged or married yet,” Nichols continues. “It may sting a bit if you’re asking her to be a bridesmaid (again) or host a shower (again) when she hasn’t had her ‘turn’ yet.”
Should we invite our exes and their families?
In which instances?“Generally my advice would be no, unless situations are such that you are still very friendly and close with your former spouse and/or his or her family members,” says Nichols. “In the event that your second marriage is after the death of your previous spouse, I think inviting your deceased spouse’s family is a very nice gesture. Just know that it might be a hard situation for them, and that they may not attend.” Long story short, it depends on the nature of your relationship with your former spouse, as well as how long ago your previous marriage was. “For most couples, I think the answer here would be no,” Nichols concludes.
See More: How Real Brides Involved Their Children in the Wedding Ceremony
Can we have a registry?
You may have heard otherwise, but the answer is actually yes! “Even if you specify that you do not want gifts, there will still be family members or friends who want to buy you something to mark the occasion, so you might as well help them find something you’ll love and use,” Nichols says. “Focus on things you really need and want. If you’ve already established a home, skip the basics like bakeware or pots and pans. Use this as a time to select new china, new everyday dishes, or something else that is important to you.” Or you can go for an alternative registry, instead. “Sites like Zola allow you to register for experiences or larger-ticket items for ‘group gifting,’ and stores like REI and Home Depot also have registries.” So if you’re in the market for home improvement items or would love new gear for your camping honeymoon, think outside the big box stores!
We don’t need anything for our home—can we ask for money instead?“Whether it is your first wedding or your fourth, you should never ask for money,” says Nichols. “However, there are couples who truly only want to receive money. The best way to get this message across would be by word of mouth, or by using a cash fund registry site.”
Are there any wedding traditions we should skip?
This is totally up to you. “Some traditions might be really important to you, like toasts and a first dance,” Nichols says. “Others might feel trite, like a bouquet or garter toss. Include the traditions that feel meaningful to you, and skip the rest.”
This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com
We’ve come a long way since the Mad Men-esque era of the 50s and 60s, when financial security for women came exclusively in the form of a man.
At least that’s according to the findings of a new survey from Charlie. We surveyed 533 single (defined as never married) women ages 18 to 40 in to find out how they think about finances when it comes to finding “the one.” According to the results, women are waiting until well into their relationships to have the “money talk.” If they don’t like what they hear, bad news: most women view potential beaus or belles with a large amount of debt as more of a liability, than an anchor. The majority of single women these days don’t believe that marriage is necessarily the ticket to financial stability. But to understand where we’re at now, it’s important to take a look at where we came from.
A Brief History of Women’s Financial Rights
Back in the “good old days,” our grandmothers had little choice but to attach themselves to a man — for better or for worse — in order to gain financial security. Not surprisingly, these unions weren’t always the most compatible. Oftentimes, men controlled the paycheck and the checkbook, and that in turn controlled the women they supported.
Thankfully, things have changed over the years due to hard work from civil rights activists. Sweeping changes were made to make things fairer for everyone, including people of different races, religions, nationalities, ages, and — gender. Here are a few milestones:
Women are More Reluctant to Marry Debtors
One of the biggest standout statistics from our survey was that 58% of single women would be hesitant to marry a partner with a lot of debt.
Given the massive increase in student loan debt among college graduates these days, that’s a tough prospect. Take the graduates of the class of 2017, for example. Among students who had to take out loans (about two-thirds), the average debt burden after graduating was $28,650, according to The Institute for College Access and Success. And that’s before you add on credit card, mortgage, or other debt.
An important factor here is debt-to-income ratio. A doctor, for example, may pop out on the other side of med school with six-figure debt, but he or she may also be able to make a six-figure salary right out of the gate. Someone with $100k worth of debt after studying underwater basket weaving, however, may be a different story. Similarly, it’s important to take into account what type of debt someone has. Did they take out a student loan with the aims of getting a high-paying job? Or did they take out a series of payday loans to pay for a bad gambling habit? Or do they have credit card debt from splurging on habits they can’t afford?
Context is important and can help women suss out potential marriage partners who may still be very financially-responsible despite carrying a large amount of debt.
Women Don’t Like Having “The Talk” Early On In a Relationship
Understandably, learning the finer points someone’s debt situation can be a little tricky , even if it is important. We have so many emotions and tensions surrounding finances, and for good reason. Few of us were taught good skills and behavioral habits for managing our money, and even fewer of us were raised having open and healthy conversations about finances.
That’s why it’s no wonder that many women prefer to have the money talk later on in their relationship, once they’ve developed a lot of trust with their partner. In fact, according to our survey,
48% of single women said finances should only be discussed at all in a serious relationship.
Discussing finances early can save a lot of heartache later on. Some things may be easy to spot early on, like a penchant for buying pricey gifts on every date despite your beau (or belle) driving a beater. But other things, like past bankruptcies or foreclosures, are more difficult to catch.
The only way to know is by opening up and having a conversation about what’s important to you. After all, many people list whether they’re interested in kids, overseas travel, or expensive hobbies in their dating profiles. Yet, 74% of single women specifically would not want to see financial measuring sticks like credit scores or student loan debt in dating profiles.
Most Women Don’t See Marriage As The Ticket to Financial Stability
We know women don’t necessarily want to tie themselves down to a heavily-indebted spouse. And we also know women can do (virtually) all of the same things as men, like renting an apartment, having a meaningful career, travel, opening a bank account, or buying a house.
These two factors combined have led to a grand conclusion:
66% of single women don’t see marriage as the only path to financial security. And that’s a good thing.
There are so many things that can happen by putting all of your financial eggs in one basket. Your marriage could (sadly) end in divorce. Your spouse could develop new bad financial habits. Plus, it’s no secret that pensions are becoming a dying breed, making it more important than ever for everyone — men and women — to save for their own retirement.
Whether you’re currently married or not, it’s important for everyone to retain some semblance of financial independence. You can do this by considering a prenuptial agreementor considering whether combined — or separate — finances are right for you. Some experts even advise each spouse — even stay-at-home-moms — to keep a separate “freedom fund” to kick-start their newly-single life in case it’s ever called upon. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a relationship that’s not working because you can’t afford to leave.
Women’s Attitudes Towards Relationships and Money are Changing, and Often for the Better
It’s no secret that the relationship between money and marriage is changing, and for women this gives us insight on why they may be more hesitant to lock down a marriage partner. After all, if you can retain your own financial independence in a marriage, why else marry (or stay married) but for love? A lifetime of happiness — financial and otherwise — is something that we can definitely get on board with.
This is the moment you've been waiting for. Holy moley, you have an engagement ring and you're getting married! It's so surreal, yet definitely happening, and like it or not, the hours, days, and weeks following that proposal are guaranteed to be a whirlwind.
There are so many things to think about, so many people to contact and so much to get done. Don't be overwhelmed. You have plenty of time to plan the rest of your lives but if you're like most newly engaged people, you'll be itching to share the news with all your friends and dive into the actual wedding planning part headfirst.
Pinterest boards, bridal magazines, blogs, dress shopping, venue hunting...the list goes on and on. Years of watching wedding movies couldn't have prepared you for what's to come (trust us, it's totally different). While the average engagement lasts a year to a year-and-a-half, there are certain things you'll want to get done stat — no matter how long you plan on being a fiancé.
So where do you get started? There's no strict order to follow as long as you tackle the immediate to-dos. Committing the rest of your life to the love of your life is scary and amazing and the best kind of stress, however, it's a major, major milestone, and planning a wedding together is the icing on the cake — we promise!
Call Your Parents And your siblings and BFFs too (unless you are keeping your engagement under wraps for a while). The last place they should have to hear about your new status is on social media, so give them a ring personally and tell them the happy news. Chances are, mom and dad already know what's up and have been waiting by the phone patiently for your call.
Get a Manicure Your hands will be in the spotlight for the next couple of weeks, which means your manicure best be on fleek. Or, if you're going for the natural look, make sure your nails are clean and shaped. Otherwise, friends will be focusing more on your chipped nail polish than your gorgeous engagement ring. Not cool.
Post a Ring Selfie A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If you're ready to share with the world that you're engaged, open up that Instagram! Take a ring selfie or a sweet pic of you and your fiancé to share the love. Even better—if the actual proposal was caught on film, nothing is better than that look of surprise. And don't forget to make it Facebook official!
Cheers!Round up some of your best friends and family and go out for a celebratory drink, or have a special date night solo if that's more your style. You're engaged, and that's totally worth toasting.
Get Your Ring InsuredWe know, we know — it's not exactly the most romantic or exciting thing in the world, but it could wind up saving your butt in the long run. When added as an extension to your homeowner or renter's insurance policy, it's surprisingly inexpensive.
Take A BreatherDon't jump into wedding planning right away! Take a week or two to let the news really sink in and to just savor the moment. Trust us, you'll have enough stress over the next twelve (or so) months to last you a lifetime.
Get Your Ring SizedIf the ring fits, great, and if not, you'll want to take it to your jeweler stat to get it sized — especially if it's practically falling off your finger. After all, you'd hate to throw thousands of dollars down the drain mere moments after saying yes.
Think About A DateThe most desirable wedding dates and venues get booked far in advance so if you're hoping to get hitched in the next year or two, it's a wise idea to start thinking about dates now. Find out what works for both your families and if there are any potential conflicts.
Research Wedding VenuesRemember: You can't book a date until you've nailed down your dream venue! Do some research online first, or maybe you already have a place in mind and can call to get more information on pricing and availability.
Determine Your Wedding SizeWhether you're going big or keeping it small, being on the same page about this one is so important. Get your family's input if it matters to either of you or if they'll be footing the bill. Once you've agreed on a rough guest count and budget (we'll get to that next), you can commit to a venue.
Discuss a BudgetMoney talks, but unfortunately, no one likes to talk about money. It can be, well, awkward. However, before you can really move forward with any of your wedding plans, this is a discussion that has to be had, be it between you and your spouse, or you, your spouse, and the parents.
Build A Wedding WebsiteAt the very least, look at your options and decide whether you'd prefer to create your own from scratch or use one of the many wedding website templates out there. Check out the pros and cons, and then pick together.
Gather InspirationCreate a Pinterest board, Google Doc, save photos on Instagram, or create a folder on your computer to compile imagery of your favorite wedding elements. Keep it to yourself just for organizational purposes, or share with your wedding planner, mom, friends, fiancé, and whoever else to view and contribute.
Choose Who Will Be in the Bridal PartyHow many bridesmaids or groomsmen do each of you want? Are you cool with having odd numbers or is an even number a must? Does one of you (or both) want a bridesman or groomslady? Will you have a maid of honor or best man? No matter what, you need to discuss these things before one of you starts popping the question to friends.
Interview Planners and/or VendorsIf you're considering bringing a professional planner on board to help with logistics and décor, ask around for references and do a little online research, then set up some interviews. For the vendor referrals alone, a wedding planner is totally worth their weight in gold! Or, for smaller affairs, go directly to the source and check out a few vendors on your own.
Check Out Trunk Show SchedulesHave your eye on a specific wedding dress designer? You don't have to make a mad dash to try on dresses just yet, however, you may want to peep their trunk show schedule to see when they'll be in town (or where you'd have to travel to) and how much of a discount you can score on the new collection.
Plan An Engagement Party(If you want one at all.) Do you want to plan it or hand the reins over to parents or friends? Do you want to go low key and have it at your home or in a friend's backyard? Would you rather everyone meet at your favorite bar for drinks or rent a space for a catered dinner? Either way, just make sure to do whatever fits the vibe of your relationship!
Relax!Do something fun, just the two of you. Mini golf, bowling, ice skating, a trip to the beach — whatever floats your boat and brings out the kid in you both. Wedding planning can be insanely stressful from the get-go, so try to find the humor in things and take some time to laugh, reconnect, and remember why you're getting hitched in the first place.
30 Essential Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks
Cover all your wedding planning bases with these expert tips no to-be-wed should be without.
by The Knot
When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and there are things you need to know—advice so essential any bride who's lucky enough to hear it thinks, "I'm so glad someone told me that!" If you're wondering whether there's something you may have missed (or even if you've got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets below.
1. Guests Come First
Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you'll invite before settling on a venue. This will ensure there's ample space for your crew. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That may seem like a lot, but it's really not if you count the space you'll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.
2. Investigate Wedding Blackout Dates
Know ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability. Here's a handy list of potentially problematic wedding dates coming up in the calendar.
3. Listen to Mother Nature
Heed the weather and other potential annoyances. Guests have been known to skip out early from hotter-than-hot summer tent weddings and improperly heated winter loft receptions. Bugs (gnats, deer flies and mosquitos) also swarm in certain areas during certain seasons. Consider renting pest control tanks to alleviate the problem or including bug repellent in guests' gift bags. And if you want a sunset ceremony, make sure you know when to say your vows by checking SunriseSunset.com.
Oh—and always, always have a Plan B for unexpected weather snafus.
4. Check Your Credit
Take advantage of the high cost of weddings and sign up for a credit card with a rewards program. Whether it gives you airline miles or great shopping deals, consolidating all wedding-related purchases to this card will help you accumulate thousands of rewards points (which could be used for your honeymoon).
5. Pay It Forward
Let one vendor lead you to another. Your wedding photographer can tell you which florist's blooms really pop, and your reception manager should know which band consistently packs the dance floor.
6. Lighten Your List
The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it's costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.
7. Ask and You Might Receive
Request an extra hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most vendors would rather secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on (which might turn you off of them). Later on, though, they may be less inclined to meet you halfway.
8. Make a Meal Plan
Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, make sure you're not required to serve the same meal to your vendors that guests will receive. Otherwise, you could be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Choose a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead. You will have to let your wedding caterer
know a couple of days before the wedding exactly how many vendors you need to feed (don't forget photography assistants and band roadies) and what you want them to serve.
9. Get Organizationally FocusedIn a three-ring binder, compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes you make during meetings, and photos or tear sheets from magazines you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address dedicated to your wedding, and store important vendor numbers in your cell phone. For on-the-go planning that keeps everything in one place, download the The Knot All-In-One Wedding Planner app to keep all of your planning info digitally on-hand at all times.
10. Tend to Your BarTypically, you need one bartender per 50 guests to keep the line at a minimum. But if you're serving a signature cocktail that cannot be made ahead of time (or in large quantities), consider adding an extra server designated to this task.
11. Leave Some Room in Your WalletYour wedding budget should follow this formula: 48 to 50 percent of total budget to reception; 8 to 10 percent for flowers; 8 to 10 percent for attire; 8 to 10 percent for entertainment/music; 10 to 12 percent for photo/video; 2 to 3 percent for invites; 2 to 3 percent for gifts; and 8 percent for miscellaneous items like a wedding coordinator. It's essential to allocate an extra 5 to 10 percent of your money for surprise expenses like printing extra invites because of mistakes, additional tailoring needs, umbrellas for a rainy day and ribbons for the wedding programs.
12. Don't Be Afraid to AskYour wedding vendors should be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning process. When working with them, you should feel free to really explore what it is you want—maybe it's serving a late-night snack instead of a first course or doing a bridal portrait session rather than an engagement session. The bottom line is that you should feel like you can have an honest conversation with them about what it is you want. Their job will be to tell you what you can and can't make work given your wedding budget.
13. Wait for a DateSometimes, last-minute planning can work in your favor. The closer your date, the more bargaining power you have. Since most people book their wedding venues at least six months in advance, calling for open dates two months prior to your desired time can save you up to 25 percent. And, Friday and Sunday weddings should cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings.
14. Manage the MailOf course you want the perfect stamps for your wedding invitations. But not all stamps are widely available at every post office, especially in large quantities. Save yourself scouting time by ordering them online at USPS.com. And be sure to weigh your invitation and all the additional paper products before you send them out so you can attach the right amount of postage. Ask your stationer about the need for additional postage for oddly shaped envelopes.
15. Prepare for RejectionKnow that as a rule, about 10 to 20 percent of the people you invite won't attend. Naturally, this depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are on your list, and the timing of the event (some guests may have annual holiday plans).
16. Make a Uniform Kids PolicyYou have four choices: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an "adults only" wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child care service to provide day care either at the reception space, in a hotel room or at a family member's home. To prevent hurt feelings, it's wise to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).
17. Prioritize Your PeoplePare down your guest list with the "tiers of priority" trick. Place immediate family, the bridal party and best friends on top of the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends you can't imagine celebrating without. Under that, list your parents' friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. If you need to make some cuts, start from the bottom until you reach your ideal number.
18. Take It One Step at a TimePut together a wedding planning schedule and do things one by one, in a logical order, so you don't take on too much too fast and end up with everything snowballing around you. Don't hire any vendors before you've confirmed your date; don't design your cake before you've envisioned your flowers; and don't book a band before you've settled on a space.
19. No Ring, No BringIf your guest list is bursting at the seams, assess the plus-one scenario. Do a faux seating chart in your mind, and imagine whom your single pal would sit with. If it's a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you're all set. If it's a table of couples (making her the odd one out) or if it's a table of singles where she won't know anyone, consider bending the rules. If asked why you're not allowing single friends to bring guests, size or budget constraints or your parents' never-ending guest list are always good reasons.
20. Release RoomsAs soon as you've picked a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a special wedding block and a reduced rate. You can then release any unbooked rooms a month prior to your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no—you don't want to be responsible for rooms you can't fill.
21. Provide Accurate Driving DirectionsMake sure guests know where they're going. As easy as online map programs are to use, sometimes the directions are wrong or there's a quicker, less traffic-prone route to take. Ask your ceremony and reception sites for printouts or digital copies of recommended driving directions and even test out the routes yourself. Then include the best directions on your wedding website or email them to your guests to print out if they'd like.
22. Keep a Paper TrailGet any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying, "Hello, just confirming that you'll keep the venue open until 2 a.m. versus midnight." Don't just assume everything's all set—sometimes, by the time the actual day rolls around, your contact for a certain may no longer be working there to vouch for you.
23. Schedule the SetupYou must make sure there's ample time for setup. If you're renting a venue and bringing in outside help, ask what time people can come in to start setting. See if they can do it the day before, or at the very least the entire wedding day, before the event starts.
24. Learn About Marriage LicensesYou can check your state's license requirements online, but confirm with a call to the county clerk's office to see when they're open. Even if it's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they may issue marriage licenses only during slower times like, say, Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Give a copy of your marriage license to your mom or your maid of honor (just in case you lose yours during the final days before your wedding).
25. Go Over Ground RulesBe prepared—ask the manager of the house of worship or site where you'll be married for the list of restrictions (if any). For instance, is flash photography or bare shoulders prohibited? Or, if you're exchanging vows outdoors, are you allowed to plant tent stakes in the lawn (which is often not allowed)?
26. Classify Your CashWedding budgets are all about balance. Start your budget planning by making a checklist of the crucial details, like the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers and the photographer, and assign a number to each—one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. (But everything can't fall into the number one category!) For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you may have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.
27. Help Guests Pay AttentionMake sure your guests can both see and hear from their seats. If people are seated farther than 15 rows back from your ceremony altar or podium, consider renting a mic and a riser. This could range anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on the equipment used. You'll need to coordinate the delivery and setup with your ceremony space, so put your wedding planner or best man in charge of this task.
28. Write Down Your DigitsKeep an emergency contact sheet or phone with your vendor contacts on you on your wedding day—it may come in handy in case your limo driver gets lost or you decide you'd like your photographer to take some behind-the-scenes shots.
29. Call the Fashion PoliceDon't go dress shopping on your own—all the gowns will start to look the same after a while and it will be harder to recall which style you really loved. But be careful about who you do bring. If your mom or sibling can't make the trip, ask a friend who is truly honest. This is the time when you really need to know which dress looks best.
30. Be Realistic With Your TimeWhen it comes down to the last month of your planning (and when you're particularly harried) look at your mile long to-do list and cut three things. Yes, cut three things. Not crucial things you just don't feel like doing, such as picking a processional song or confirming final details with all of your vendors. Eliminate only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting "Just Married" signs, or baking cookies for all of the welcome bags. Cross them off and make a pledge not to think about them again.
Whether you’re in the middle of planning your wedding, newly engaged or just beginning to discuss marriage with your partner, it’s never too soon to be on the same page about your finances. Marital discord is often attributed to disagreements about money, whether it’s a partner’s spending habits, accumulated debt, or financial philosophies. It’s important to discuss financial goals with your partner to help prevent conflict throughout the marriage.
According to a Suntrust survey, only 51 percent of Americans actually discussed how they would handle finances before getting married. In fact, nearly 60 percent of couples reported they didn’t disclose their own salaries before marriage, and only 36 percent revealed their debt.
When you begin considering getting married or before you walk down the aisle, set aside intentional time with your future spouse to create a financial plan to position your wedded union for success.
Be open and honest about personal debtIn your vows, promising a lifelong devotion to each other, such as for richer or poorer, means all of you – even debts like credit card bills or hefty student loans. It’s important to be sure your partner knows all about your finances and financial values before the big day.
Because most romantic partnerships are built on trust, it’s important to be open and honest with your future wife or husband about your personal finances, including any debts you may have.
Consolidate your debts
Most likely, you both have some consumer debt from credit cards, medical bills, or student loans; debt consolidation can help you get your finances in order. Sit down together and make a list of all your personal debts, then decide if you should consolidate your debts individually or jointly with a personal loan. This process involves combining several debts into one, which can help you reduce your monthly payments and pay less in interest, ultimately helping you pay off your debts faster.
Personal loans are ideal for persons who have moderate debt and good credit scores who want to simplify or accelerate repaying their debts. If you or your partner qualify for a personal loan with manageable rates and have an active plan to control your spending and reduce your debt, you can quickly knock out high-interest debt by consolidating your debt with a personal loan.
Borrowed from a bank, credit union, or online lender, a personal loan is borrowed money that doesn’t require collateral and can be repaid in fixed monthly payments. Personal loan rates are largely determined by your credit score, though your annual reported income and the amount you want to borrow are other factors that determine the final loan amount.
Between gathering documents, checking credit scores, and signing paperwork, consolidating your debts can be a lengthy process. As you and your spouse make preparations, be sure to get an accurate report of yours and your partner’s credit scores and evaluate your debt to income ratio.
Evaluate your credit standing
If one of you have a low credit score (300 to 629), take steps to build the credit; don’t consolidate debts into a joint account, as it can lower the higher credit score.
One way to build credit is with a credit-builder loan, which is a forced savings program that reports your timely payments to credit bureaus. Other ways to increase your credit score include reducing and managing debt, receiving credit for paying rent on time, and research payment options and protections for repaying student loans.
Calculate your debt to income ratio
Calculating your debt to income ratio as a couple is key to making a financial plan moving forward. It is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income. Lenders use this percentage to decide how well you manage your monthly debts and if you are able to afford a loan repayment.
This ratio is often used by lenders when applying for a mortgage, car loan, or home equity loan, so it’s important to keep it below 36 percent. For example, if your total annual income for you and your spouse is $55,000 and you have $22,000 in credit card and student loan debt, a lender may deny your application.
Choosing between joint or separate accounts
You might be sharing a closet and the television remote now, but you don’t necessarily have to share a bank account. Together, you and your partner should decide if you want to combine your finances or keep them separate.
Should you and your partner decide you want to pay bills from a joint account but have individual spending and savings accounts, you’ll want to be sure to move the money to the joint account as soon as your direct deposit hits so you aren’t scrambling at the end of the month when the electricity bill is due and the joint checking account is low.
To reduce monthly recurring expenses and eliminate overlapping bills, like gym memberships and cell phone bills, consider selecting a family plan that provides savings when more than one person is on the account or contract.
If you and your partner do decide to combine your finances, be sure to sit down with a trusted financial advisor who can help you and your partner determine which assets to hold jointly or separately.
To prenup, or not to prenup
Considering a prenup can be a tricky conversation to have with a spouse. But a prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a legal document that sets expectations for the division of assets should a couple divorce – and it can be very beneficial for some couples. For persons with substantial premarital assets, an expected inheritance or family wealth, or massive debt, a prenup can protect an individual from financial ruin in the event of permanent separation. To be valid, each partner will need to have their own attorney to draft a prenup.
Though the agreement has been historically rare, millennials are increasingly drawing up these contracts to protect their wealth. Now that couples are getting married later (according to a United States census, women were getting married at age 27 in 2010 compared to age 21 in 1950), individuals are accumulating more assets and debt than ever before.
A prenup can include protection against a spouse’s debt, protections for family property and estate planning, and detailed spousal responsibilities. A prenup cannot include custody arrangements, waivers of rights to alimony, or deeply personal (rather than financial) information. Prenups can be created based on how long a couple has been married and can be nullified if the original document states the prenup will expire after a certain amount of years have passed.
Financing the big day
Discussing how you and your partner will pay for the wedding is another conversation and expense to consider ahead of time. It may be tempting to splurge on floral bouquets or to treat your guests to an open bar with signature drinks, but wedding costs can add up faster than you can say “I do.” The average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2018 was $33,931, according to a survey on TheKnot.com. The table below highlights the average costs of a few major wedding expenses:
Average wedding costs
Flowers and decor$2,411
Many couples who don’t have enough savings allocated for wedding expenses opt for a personal loan to cover the cost of tying the knot. The key to sticking to your original budget – whether big or small – is saving every penny you can and setting priorities. Some couples delay their wedding by having a longer engagement period, which gives them more time to stash away cash for the big day.
Non-traditional options to save money
If you and your spouse would rather spend your earnings and savings on a honeymoon to the Maldives or a down payment on a new home, there are several ways to cut wedding costs.
Sending electronic invitations instead of paper invitations, using in-season blooms, and selecting a store-bought cake are some of the ways you and your partner can create savings. You can also implement non-traditional approaches, like having your wedding on a Thursday afternoon or hosting it in a brewery or beach house, to keep costs low.
Happily ever after
Now that you and your partner have made big decisions about consolidating debt, combining finances, creating a prenup agreement, and allocating dollars to wedding expenses, you may get the impression that your financial preparation is complete. But the wedded bliss – and joint financial decisions – is just getting started.
Together, you’ll want to decide how to conquer large or unexpected expenses and choose what to save for, such as a home, car, or the next vacation. To ensure you and your partner are financially protected, create a family budget and consider setting up an emergency savings account and a plan for unforeseen expenses like unemployment, natural disasters, or medical bills.
With a financial plan in place, your money habit and philosophies and the melodic tune of the wedding bells can chime in perfect harmony.
Pros of Having a First Look Contemplating a first look?
By The Knot
More couples are doing first looks—45 percent, to be exact, according to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study. Although nearly half of couples decide to sneak a peek at each other before walking down the aisle, the choice usually comes after a fair amount of deliberation. So what's the best decision for you?
Pro: You save time by taking the bulk of your photos together before the ceremony.Pair your first look with couple portraits (and wedding party shots) before your ceremony to translate that romantic feeling in photos and free up more time to enjoy cocktail hour with guests. Just make sure that whatever secluded spot you choose, it's one that's away from any guests to prevent them from seeing you.
Pro: A first look could ease any nerves before the ceremony. If you're an especially emotional person, or you know you're going to be jittery or nervous, a pre ceremony glimpse may be the way to go.
Besides doing your first look photos, you can also maximize this time to sneak in a few moments alone with each other that you may not get later on.
Pro: If you're worried about crying at the altar, you can get your tears out of the way before. It's every bride's dream not to sob at the altar with mascara all over her face (one glistening tear hardly ever happens), so if you know you'll likely turn on the waterworks during the ceremony, a first look could help get some of your feelings out beforehand. Your first look photos will be that much more emotional and moving, and you'll have plenty of time for makeup touch-ups before the ceremony.
Simple Tricks for Looking Thinner in Photos
We have all seen photos of ourselves where we simply weren’t happy about how we looked. It’s easy to be your own worst critic but it’s even easier to make small changes in how you pose for photos in order to look slimmer and more confident.
Wedding Planner Jove Meyer Shares How to Create the Most Personalized Wedding EverJove Meyer, go-to planner for LGBTQ+ couples, reveals pro tips for a one-of-a-kind wedding that’s truly your own.
by The Knot
We sat down with wedding planner Jove Meyer, Brooklyn, New York–based owner and creative director of Jove Meyer Events—and the brains behind The Knot Dream Wedding couple Elena Della Donne and Amanda Clifton's fall 2017 nuptials—to talk about his experience as a tastemaker in the industry of love. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about planning LGBTQ+ weddings that speak directly to couples and bring their loftiest visions to life. From totally tossing tradition to creating special ones of your own, here’s how to make your wedding day one of a kind and truly yours.
It’s easy for couples to get caught up in the idea of what they "should" do on their wedding day. What advice do you have for those hoping to put a personal spin on traditions?"There are no real rules when it comes to LGBTQ+ weddings, so I encourage all couples to invent their own. That being said, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re taking part in a specific tradition. Does it hold any personal meaning for you and your fiancé, or are you doing it simply because it’s expected? Your wedding shouldn’t be filled with antiquated customs or meaningless moments—every detail should feel authentically you."
What are some unique ways LGBTQ+ couples can put a personal stamp on their ceremony?"LGBTQ+ weddings are still so new that couples can do whatever they want to celebrate their union. Play with where the ceremony takes place, how it unfolds and who is involved. Host a ceremony in the round with four aisles, or invite guests to a standing ceremony sans aisle and chairs."
What’s an example of how you’ve helped a couple bend the rules?"I recently worked with two grooms that flipped their processional on its head by gathering guests in the venue's foyer prior to the start of the ceremony. Rather than walking down the aisle with all eyes on them, the couple invited friends and family to walk down the aisle toward the altar, where they waited with their officiant."
When researching potential wedding pros, what’s the easiest way to determine if a vendor or venue is LGBTQ+ friendly? "Your planner should be able to vouch for other equality-minded businesses. You can also look at the vendor’s website to see if any photos or information shows support for LGBTQ+ couples. If you love their work but fail to see obvious support of marriage equality on their online bio or gallery, send an email inquiring about their services."
Read more about finding LGBTQ-friendly pros here.
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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What Our Clients Are Saying
Crystal was a great photographer for our wedding! She's definitely LGBT friendly and has some cool rainbow umbrellas to use as props in your pictures - if that's your style. Our friends and family were all very impressed with the number of photos she took and shared with us - and they're all great shots! We would absolutely recommend her to others. - Kelsey and Shannon - Baltimore, Maryland