5 Wedding Superstitions You Can Totally Ignore
Jealousy, evil spirits and bad luck omens? Puh-lease. Here are wedding day myths you can forget about—or put your own twist on.
by The Knot
There are a lot of wedding superstitions out there, both good and bad, but trying to keep up with them will only add to your wedding stress. Our advice? Forget about them. This list has all the silly superstitions that are perfectly okay to ignore—or to put your own twist on with a little creativity.
1. You can't see each other before the wedding.
The Superstition: Back in the day, couples weren't supposed to see each other until the last minute, so the groom didn't have the chance to change his mind. (We know—crazy, right?) This custom gradually morphed into the general idea that it was bad luck for a groom to see his bride on their wedding day.
Our Take: Today, some couples stick to tradition because they like the excitement and anticipation of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. But we say, do what makes you happy. We know lots of couples who've bucked tradition and stayed in the same room the night before, had breakfast together the morning of and (most conveniently) scheduled their joint photo session with their photographer before the ceremony. Nothing beats an emotional first look photo, and it'll help calm your nerves and up the excitement to have a moment together before your "I dos."
2. Steer clear of yellow roses (or you'll be green with envy).
The Superstition: During the Victorian era, The Language of Flowers—a book that assigned flowers different emotions and meanings—was popularized all over Europe. According to the volume, tulips stand for love and passion, and stephanotis means marital happiness. On the flip side, yellow roses were said to symbolize jealousy.
Our Take: If you love a flower, give it your own special meaning, especially if it has some significance to you, and don't worry a bit about what those Victorian florists would've said. We've seen some seriously gorgeous yellow floral arrangements (without a hint of jealousy in sight).
3. You're doomed if you drop the ring.
The Superstition: Get ready for this dramatic idea: As tradition goes, if someone dropped the ring during the ceremony, it meant that person would die.
Our Take: Obviously that's some grade A nonsense. But it does lead to another a good point—if you have a ring bearer handling your rings (especially one who's very young), make sure your wedding bands are tied tightly enough, and that you hand the ring pillow off to him at the last minute, just before he walks down the aisle. No, you're not doomed if the rings fall, but it could be a little awkward and stressful.
4. The bride has to be carried over the threshold.
The Superstition: Ancient Romans believed carrying the bride over the threshold of the couple's home protected her from evil spirits.
Our Take: Do it for fun when you get home from the honeymoon, if you want, as a nod to a harmless tradition. Or give it a contemporary twist: Walk hand in hand into your new home together instead. But we're pretty sure evil spirits have got nothing on you, so don't take this one too seriously.
5. Don't get married on a Saturday, in May or on the 13th of the month.
The Superstition: This actually refers to several superstitions. According to English folklore, Saturday is the unluckiest day of the week to marry, while Wednesday is supposed to be the best. But it looks like this myth hasn't affected anyone's preference for saying "I do" on a Saturday (it's by far the most popular day of the week to do it). The fear of marrying in May actually dates back to the Romans, who held their festival for the dead in May. There's even a nursery rhyme that reads, “Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day." And finally, there's the infamous unlucky number 13.
Our Take: Attempt to book your dream venue while following those calendar-related myths and you'll immediately understand why you should ignore them. Unless your family tradition dictates you find a lucky or auspicious wedding date, choose any beautiful wedding day that works for you, and don't look back.
The Top 20 Wedding Photography Mistakes Not to Make
Here's what not to do, according to the pros themselves.
by The Knot
Not to play favorites—because we love all vendors—but your photographer is one of the most important pros you'll have at your wedding. After all, they're solely responsible for the wonderful wedding photos you'll get to pore over, cherish and have as a keepsake forever.
And if you want those photos to be as perfect as possible, you're going to want to listen to what some professional photographers have to say. Read the biggest mistakes professional photographers have seen other couples make—so you can avoid them—below.
1. Not Finalizing the Wedding Day Schedule"
Talk to your photographer before finalizing the schedule for your wedding day. There's a lot to consider in terms of photographing and natural light. Certain times of day are more photogenic than others (midday sun casts harsh, unflattering shadows on the face while late-day sun casts a beautiful, warm glow on everyone).
2. Not Sticking to the Finalized Schedule"
Pay attention and respect the schedule you and your photographer to your wedding. Being an hour late can make or break your images. Don't just assume it only takes 10 minutes.
3. Letting Relatives Get in the Way"
We have a name in the industry for a guest who shows up with pro photo equipment and takes 'unofficial wedding photos'—we call him Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob may think he's doing you a favor by taking more shots for the couple, but usually he just gets in the way and makes us miss our shots. Tell Uncle Bob to leave the camera at home and just enjoy his time at the wedding without working."
4. Not Explaining How You Like to Look in Photos
"Beauty is really very subjective. I ask my clients to send a photo of themselves before the wedding that they like and one that they don't."
5. Focusing Too Much on Taking Photos"
A good photojournalist can capture the story of their day and some artistic portraits while keeping time away from loved ones to a minimum."--
6. Not Getting a Second Shooter"
Sometimes couples want to save a little money or feel it's too obtrusive for more than one photographer to be present on the wedding day. But consider this: The second photographer offers another unique point of view throughout the entire day that you would not have had photographed [otherwise]."
7. Not Getting Help Organizing Your Guests"
Designate someone [trustworthy who] knows your family and friends to be in charge of organizing people for portraits. That person can gather the people needed, direct them on what shots they'll be in, and then release them when they're done. It keeps things moving quickly, smoothly and enjoyably."
8. Trying to Make Things "Perfect""
Just have fun. Whether it's getting a little cake on your face or some detail didn't turn out 100 percent like you'd hoped, go with it, have fun and keep smiling."
9. Skipping the First Look
"[In my opinion], a first look is so much better than trying to rush couple portraits after the ceremony—especially if your ceremony runs a bit late, which most do. You end up trying to rush to get to the party."
10. Trying to Pose"
A good photographer gives direction for a reason: to get the best moments and shots from the day. The best thing to do is relax and act natural. Be in the moment. Be hopelessly in love with each other—the pictures will turn out [amazing.]"
11. Waiting Too Long to Book Your Photographer"
If you find a great photographer, book them! Good photographers book a year or more out and won't be available forever. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing a wedding photographer and then finding out that they booked your date a week prior."
12. Looking at the Camera All the Time"
Some couples want candid photographs, but they always feel like they need to look up at the camera and stop what they're doing. It could be an instinct, but remember—unless the photographer asks you, try to act natural for the best journalistic shots."
13. Not Providing a List of "Don't Takes""
Let the photographer know before the wedding if there are certain photos you don't like. It can be anything from 'I don't like the photos you took of us not smiling' to 'I don't like wide-angle close-ups.' It totally throws off a photographer's creative approach when a bride or groom spills their feelings while you're in the zone."
14. Asking for Too Many Shots"
If clients have done their homework and choose an experienced, reputable wedding photographer, then chances are that photographer doesn't need a two-page spreadsheet of every combination for family portraits."
15. Not Choosing a Photographer You Connect With
"Make sure we get along. I work with clients for sometimes two years or more. If we don't get along, it's going to be a very long and bumpy ride."
16. Skipping the Engagement Session
"Engagement sessions increase the confidence and comfort level of the couple in front of the camera and allow them to practice having their photo taken in a fun, no-stakes atmosphere. Ultimately, an engagement session will let the couple see why the photographer might tell them to do something funny, and this leads to wedding day comfort and trust in the photographer."
17. Not Hiring a Professional Photographer"
Choose someone who's a professional, not just anyone with a digital camera and a website. Make sure the photographer you choose has an education as a photographer, has apprenticed or interned with other photographers and paid their dues, or has the experience and ability to consistently capture the moments of your wedding no matter what situations may arise."
18. Falling for Photography Trends
"Too many times, to-be-weds fall for something trendy in photography. It's critical your wedding images stand the test of time and are valued for each following generation. Trends are fun but rarely last. Look for a photographer with a [generally] classic shooting style, and be wary of too much Photoshop and digital tricks and manipulations."
19. Forgetting the Details"
Think about spending a few minutes to decide what other elements are important to photograph. Did your sister make special wedding favors? Are you carrying important heirlooms with you? Bring an extra invitation and try to keep those special elements easily accessible for photos."
20. Not Smiling—All the Time
"Tell all of the individuals walking down the aisle to look up and smile. If they're too nervous to smile, they should at least keep their head up and stare down the aisle. This helps keep the face from the [unflattering angle] that happens when you stare at the floor while walking."
Gay-Friendly Honeymoon Destinations
These idyllic destinations (from Napa to the Caribbean) all have two things in common—they’re gay-friendly and make for the perfect newlywed retreat.
by the knot
Honeymoon PlanningPlanningSame Sex CeremonyUnited StatesUS + CanadaLGBTQ+
Engagement Party Planning Basics
Whether you're the hosts or guests of honor, read our engagement party primer for everything you need to know.
by The Knot
What It's For
People will want to congratulate you on your engagement, and let's be real: A party's a lot more fun than a phone call! It's also a great time to introduce key people from your lives who are going to be seeing a lot of each other (and possibly helping plan your wedding together) over the next year or so. "It's the first time you’ll have different groups of friends and generations really getting to know each other in a more intimate way," says celebrity wedding planner Jung Lee of Fête NY.
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the first official celebration, then, the groom's parents can throw their own party. A less traditional, but perhaps more appealing option, is to have both sets of parents come together to cohost an event. However, these days, more couples are tossing tradition aside altogether and throwing the engagement party themselves (just keep in mind that if you're doing the inviting, it's your responsibility to foot the bill too). Friends of the couple can also host (and may even volunteer to), but before you ask, be conscious of the financial implications.
When to Have It
The engagement party should fall within a few months of the proposal—otherwise known as the sweet spot between carefree, just-engaged life and the start of serious wedding planning. You'll want to give guests about a month's notice, so we suggest getting those invites out a couple months after the proposal.
Whose Turf to Have It On
The location really depends on who throws the party. If your hosts are local, you will likely be celebrating in your city, but if they live out of state, you may want to have it in their city. It comes down to discussing it with the hosts and figuring out the logistics to make it easier on everyone involved. Say you live in New York, but most of your family and friends live in Chicago: You may decide to have your party in your hometown (and enlist someone local to help you plan), host it in your current locale or even throw two parties. Just beware of tiring out your guests and bridal party with too many invitations before the wedding day is even close. Also, when picking the party location, consider where you plan to have your wedding—you may not want to ask guests to travel twice. “More of my clients are having multiple engagement celebrations because their friends and family are spread all around the country, but everybody wants to honor them," Lee says.
Where to Have It
Depending on how many people you want to invite, you can make an engagement party work almost anywhere—it's really up to the hosts. When choosing the venue, think about the vibe you want to create: If you like the idea of having a more elegant affair, you might want to rent out a private room at a restaurant, country club or wine bar. For something more low-key, a house, backyard or favorite local dive might be a better choice.
Whom to Invite
Etiquette used to state that you weren't to invite anyone to the engagement party whom you weren't inviting to the wedding, case closed. But now more couples live and/or host their nuptials far from their families and friends, and the formality of engagement parties is evolving, so expectations have changed. Engagement parties can now often include people who aren't invited to the wedding. If your friends want to plan an informal party at a neighborhood bar and email the invites a few weeks before, it's totally fine to include people you aren't sure will end up making the wedding guest list (coworkers, newer friends). And if your parents' good friends want to host a cocktail party at their home in your honor, let your parents invite mutual friends and business associates you might not have room for at your wedding.
However, if you two or your parents are hosting, the old rule sticks: When the wedding hosts send the engagement party invitation, it's considered part of the official wedding parties and guests assume they're invited to the wedding too. To avoid a sticky situation later, start working on your wedding guest list now. Then trim the engagement party list down to your wedding party, immediate family and closest friends.
How to Invite
Feel free to keep the invitations simple. You can even make them yourselves or send out a digital invite. If you've chosen your invitation designer already, see if they'll give you a special rate on engagement party invites. Don't worry if you haven't settled on a color palette or don't have a wedding date in mind yet—your engagement party invitations don't have to match the rest of your stationery. Also, make sure you have most of your wedding website done before the engagement party invitations are sent out so you can include the URL. The website is the easiest, and most subtle, way to spread word about your registry in case guests want to bring you a gift. You don’t have to have the whole site complete—just a link to your registry, a few photos and the story of your proposal (don’t forget to submit it to How He Asked!) will do.
What to Serve
There's no need to plan a five-course meal with a four-hour open bar. Anything from passed appetizers or tasting menu stations to a family-style buffet or casual cookout will work. Or get creative and serve up dishes that share something about you. "I had a bride and groom known for having Sunday Mexican dinners, so they had margaritas, mini fish tacos and great guacamole—it just made sense and was a genuine touch," Lee says. As for dessert, serve it if you'd like, but it doesn't have to be cake. Consider gourmet ice cream sandwiches, assorted baked goods or seasonal treats like candy apples or cotton candy.
How to Set the Scene
While of course it's fine for the décor and details to reflect your wedding colors and theme, like your invites, don't feel like you have to rush to choose them just so your engagement party can match. You might even consider picking a style and theme that are completely different from your wedding day to mix things up. If you're planning a formal ballroom wedding, go for a laid-back backyard party with vibrant colors and an outdoor setting to celebrate your engagement. Just a few small arrangements from your local florist can dress up any space (and it's a great way to try out a potential florist for the wedding). However, the real trick is not to upstage the wedding. So if you're envisioning a casual beach wedding with simple décor, a fancy cocktail party at a swanky hotel with over-the-top centerpieces might make that beach bash feel like a bit of a letdown.
What to Wear
Your wardrobe will depend on the setting of the party. For brides-to-be, aside from the obvious (don’t wear an evening gown to a backyard barbecue), keep it simple enough that you don’t outdo your wedding look, but special enough that you still stand out. As for the grooms, while you don’t have to wear a suit and tie or a tux, you should match your partner in formality. And if you have a specific dress code for guests, make a note of it on the invitation.
Why Your Photographer Won’t Hand Over RAW Files
Almost every photographer has been asked for RAW files by their customers at one point or another.
For some, it can be hard to understand why their photographer has refused to part ways with their RAW files, but know that your photographer is not trying to be difficult. They have several good reasons why they don’t just hand over all the photos that were taken during your shoot.
When you’re working with a photographer during a shoot, you’ll notice that they’re constantly snapping away. This is because not all of the images come out perfectly. Sometimes a specific pose or scenario needs to be shot multiple times just to get one good shot. A professional photographer spends a lot of time sorting through all of the images that were taken during a shoot to select the best shots.
Once the best photos have been chosen, they are brought to life through post process editing with professional editing software. This stage which takes a lot of time and results in the beautiful end product that is handed over to you. If your photographer had to give you the RAW files you wouldn’t be seeing the end result.
You’d also be surprised at how many people want the RAW files in order to alter the photos themselves. If that individual then chose to share those photos after making their own adjustments, the integrity of your photographer’s work is put at risk.
Something else to keep in mind is that RAW files are huge and you need a lot of memory to store them. You might also find that you don’t have the proper software available at home to view this type of file, so again you would be sitting with megabytes of files that you can’t do anything with.
When you hire a professional photographer you’re putting your trust in their abilities. You need to trust that the photos they hand over to you are a result of their hard work, experience and eye for the perfect shot.
20 Secrets to a Fun Wedding ReceptionOkay, they're not really secrets—just awesome ideas we encourage you to steal.
by The KnotWhile your wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it's when you'll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn't want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance. Get inpsired by our favorite reception ideas, from simple planning tricks to wow-worthy entertainment below, and by taking our fun Style Quiz. Then start planning your party here.
Just Engaged and Completely Overwhelmed? Read This Now!
Simply put, the key to a glitch-free wedding is smart planning. Spare yourself multiple headaches by making a plan and sticking with it—and our helpful wedding planning tips, tools and apps are perfect for staying organized and minimizing stress.
by The Knot
First of all, congratulations! If you haven't started basking in the glow of being engaged yet, we highly recommend it. And while family members and friends will definitely want to know all the details and plans (you know, the ones you haven't made yet), don't be afraid to tell them you're just enjoying this special time together for now. And when you're finally ready to start wedding planning, let us help. Not to brag or anything, but we're kind of pros at this. So, first things first...
Stay OrganizedThis one's pretty obvious. The more organized you are, the less likely something will go wrong. That means your first to-do is to check out our All-In-One Wedding Planner app, where we'll keep track of anything and everything, from defining your wedding style to managing RSVPs and all the details in between. Start by taking our fun Style Quiz, then search and book amazing vendors, manage your budget, guest list and registry, and even create a detailed, day-of timeline (although you don't need to worry about that detail quite yet)—and that's just the tip of the iceberg. If you're someone who likes to handwrite your plans, pick up The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer. Keep all your wedding information in it: receipts, contracts, ideas, dates, times, locations—you name it. Bottom line: We're here to keep you sane and organized every step of the way.
Start Your Personalized ChecklistOnce you determine your wedding date, create your personalized wedding checklist on The Knot to figure out what your to-dos are on a month-by-month basis. Don't stress yourself out in the beginning by setting deadlines that might prove to be unrealistic—let us guide you on which essential tasks to do when. And we know that it may seem a little scary to try and get as much done as possible in the first few months, but that way, the last few months won't be as hectic. You'll thank yourselves later—promise.
Set Aside Weekly Time to PlanChoose a day or two during the week when you'll focus on wedding planning (or choose a time to do one or two things every day if you're pressed for time). It's also good to sit down together and plan. This eliminates confusion—i.e., one of you thinking you're supposed to call and check on hall rentals when the other's already narrowed it down to what will suit their needs. Even if you're just perusing The Knot Real Weddings page and Pinterest boards for real inspiration, finding local vendors or booking a venue with our Venue Concierge team (it's free!), clearly allocating time for wedding details can only help you in the long run.
Divide and Conquer (While Communicating)This is the best way to get things done. You and your partner should both be involved every step of the way. Make a list of details to be taken care of, then divide the list in half and choose what you each want to do—your partner may not be concerned with exactly which flowers you carry, and maybe you're not picky about what your partner's wedding party wears, but even though you have your checklist, it's good to over-communicate. If you're sharing duties, you should also be sharing the details. It's okay to take care of certain things by yourself, but don't neglect to tell each other about it so the caterer isn't contacted twice. And when the planning gets tough, take a break from contracts and seating charts to create your official wedding website. It's free and a fun thing to do if you can't look at any more cakes for the day.
Be Flexible and FairSo, you really didn't want the ushers in tails and top hats. And maybe your partner doesn't want the wedding cake to be lemon with pecan icing. Each of you is going to want things the other doesn't care for (or care about), but flexibility is a must, so be willing to bend. If you really object to something, let your objection be duly heard and noted—and have a good reason for it. This may come up the most when you start deciding on your guest list and budget, but with our Wedding Guest List Manager and Wedding Budget Calculator, it's easy to keep track of each choice you make and make adjustments along the way.
Details, Contracts and NegotiationsWhen dealing with wedding professionals (caterers, florists and so on), be sure to clarify all the details and your expectations during the initial discussions. Make sure you always, always get a contract specifically stating dates, times and locations—in other words, spell everything out. It's not about nitpicking, it's about paying for and receiving exactly what you want to make your day spectacular. Try to negotiate the best deal for goods and services, but don't sell yourself short on important things just to get a better price.
Most importantly, be sure to read the fine print on every contract before you sign it, and make sure you're aware of cancellation policies and fees. Also ask if there's a grace period to cancel just in case you change your mind about the service or vendor, or something happens and you need to postpone the wedding (better safe than sorry).
Wedding Budget 101Whether you have $100,000, $10,000 or $1,000 to spend, here's how to budget for the wedding of your dreams.
by The Knot
Talk with your families about who will pay for what: Some brides' families still pick up the entire tab, but more and more groom's families are participating too. How do you bring up the conversation? For many couples, talking to each family separately is the best way to have truly open discussions. When you do talk, here are strategies for determining your initial budget.
Ask both of your folks if they're planning to contribute to the cost of the wedding. If so, ask them to commit to a specific dollar amount, and then add up all the contributions to create your budget.
Alternatively, it may be easier to ask each set of parents to finance a particular aspect of the wedding (such as the ceremony, honeymoon, or catering) instead of just committing to a dollar amount.
Decide how much you two can contribute between now and the wedding. (43 percent of the couples we polled in the The Knot 2014 Real Weddings Study say they're planning to contribute financially to their wedding.)
If you're planning on a formal candlelit dinner in the grand ballroom of that amazing hotel downtown, your budget is clearly going to have to be much bigger than if you've sketched out an afternoon tea and dessert party in your parents' pretty backyard. In general, there are several major factors that will really affect what you'll need to set aside.
Guest List Size
There's a per-head cost for food and liquor, and these two are typically the biggest expense in the whole wedding, so changing the guest list size is the surest way to increase or decrease your costs. On top of that, the smaller the guest list the more you'll save on all your other details, including décor, stationery, favors, and rentals, because you won't need as much of everything.
Some cities and towns are just more expensive than others. New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are the obvious culprits, but small towns and remote destinations can entail greater costs if things like flowers and talent have to come from afar. Tourist towns can also up your wedding price tag during peak season. Likewise, certain venues are more expensive than others. Some—such as a city park—come with no (or low) fees, while others, like a grand ballroom, might cost you the equivalent of a year's college tuition. Also, be aware that many popular locations have head count minimums, meaning they won't host a wedding that's too small, and some may also have a per-head minimum that requires your event to be a certain size.
Date and Time
Highly sought-after seasons and days of the week are pricier for obvious reasons. An evening reception is usually more expensive than a brunch or afternoon reception, not only because of higher catering costs for dinner, but also because people tend to drink less during the daytime, and many couples choose to go more low-key on elements like lighting, music and décor.
The more formal the affair, the more expensive, because you'll have to match the site, food, and musical entertainment to the overall upscale tone. The outlay for a full six-course meal is typically greater than for a cocktail soiree with mostly hors d'oeuvres; the fee for a twelve-piece band is greater than that for a DJ or a quartet; all-out décor like lighting, specialty linens, and dramatic floral displays also will run up the bill. Plus, fancier affairs tend to be larger.
How Much Do You Actually Need?
Just like buying shoes, an apartment, or a pair of jeans, when it comes to financing a wedding, you should figure out how much you need to spend to get what you want. Set your expectations accordingly. Knot Note: The average wedding cost is $31,213.
Here's a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay:
Reception: 48-50 percent
Ceremony: 2-3 percent
Attire: 8-10 percent
Flowers: 8-10 percent
Entertainment/Music: 8-10 percent
Photography/Videography: 10-12 percent
Stationery: 2-3 percent
Wedding Rings: 2-3 percent
Parking/Transportation: 2-3 percent
Gifts: 2-3 percent
Miscellaneous: 8 percent
To avoid stress, allot 5 percent of your budget for a "just-in-case" fund.
If you're paying for your honeymoon yourselves, remember to budget for that as well.
How Much Can You Save?
As soon as you're engaged, start putting aside as much of your income as you can for the wedding. Saving 20 percent of your monthly income is a good—though lofty—goal. The longer your engagement, the more you'll be able to sock away.
Ways to save: Limit your spending on small stuff (watching Netflix instead of going out, curb your Starbucks habits and so on). These changes will hardly affect your quality of life, but after a year, the extra cash will cover some wedding essentials.
Make the most of your money: Instead of stashing your money in a low-interest savings account, consider buying CDs or opening a money-market account. The interest rate can be double that of a savings account. Just check the fine print to avoid penalties.
Staying on BudgetNow that you've established your budget, you'll spend the next few months keeping track and allocating your funds. Follow these four points to make sure your spending is where it should be.
Step 1: Get a System
Put your accounting skills to the test by deciding on a budgeting system to track all the money coming in and out.
The easiest way? The Knot Wedding Budget Calculator, which automatically tells you how much you should be spending on everything from music to mother-in-law gifts, and allows you to track all your payments and their due dates.
Otherwise, you can put all your info in an old-fashioned spreadsheet. Just make sure you record every payment you make and who you owe what.
Step 2: Explore Hidden Costs and Extras
Knowing all the costs up front will guarantee that your budget can actually cover it all.
Avoid overtime. If the party's hopping, those extra 45 minutes may whiz by, but you'll probably pay dearly in overtime costs for everyone from the photographer to the venue manager. If you suspect the wedding may go long, work overtime costs into your budget—if you don't use it, it'll be a nice surprise chunk of cash.
Factor in tips. From the sexton who cleans the church to the hotel steward who delivers your welcome bags, even conservative tipping can add hundreds to your wedding cost. Make sure to account for these costs in your initial budget.
Ask about service fees. The "service charge" is not a tip for the event staff—it's actually an additional fee that venues charge to cover their own cost of hiring servers, coat checkers, and bathroom and parking attendants, which typically amounts to 20 to 25 percent of the event's total food and drink fee.
Remember that trials aren't always free. A florist's demo may be gratis the first time, but if you make repeated changes, you risk being billed. And you'll definitely want to factor in your hair trial with your stylist into your overall hair budget.
Don't forget the little things. Things like stamps for the RSVP cards, ribbons for the favors, and marriage license fees seem so small that you can shrug them off, but like any costs, they add up. Going "just over budget" in a couple different categories with a vague plan of making it up somewhere else can push you past your limit.
Budget for gratuities. You should also set aside at least $800 for gratuities (the additional amount given to your vendors for their hard work). As with a waiter or your hairdresser, tips are generally expected unless you're unhappy with the service.
Step 3: Plan to Go Over
If you account for budget overages, then you never actually blow your budget. Try to earmark 5 percent of your budget for unforeseen costs.
Here are three areas where you might go over.
Flowers: A last-minute realization that something previously unconsidered needs to be decorated, or a request that an additional family member wear a boutonniere or corsage.
Weather-related expenses: Umbrellas for a rainy day, space heaters for an unseasonably cool day or additional shade for a particularly hot or humid one.
Small accidents: Gown needs last-minute spot removal, something breaks in the days before the ceremony or menus get damp and need to get reprinted.
Step 4: Be Smart
Take advantage of budgeting and money management tricks along the way.
Put all your wedding money in one separate account, so you can easily track additions and withdrawals without getting it confused with the rest of your day-to-day funds.
Pay for as many of your expenses as possible on a credit card that gives you benefits like mileage, rewards, or cash back. Make sure everyone making purchases (your fiancé, your mom and so on) are all on the same card system, allowing you to benefit from the rewards and also from the easy tracking of your purchases. To avoid credit card fees, pay the bill off in full each month.
10 Ways to SaveWhatever your budget, you don't have to resort to DIY bouquets to come in on target. Follow these 10 tips to have a chic wedding without sacrificing one iota of style.
1. Decide What's Most Important
Pick your top three priorities and allocate a little extra money for them (like your gown, catering, and band). Next, pick the three things that come lowest on your priority list (maybe flowers, cake and invitations), and budget accordingly.
2. Cut the Guest List
We know it's tough, but one of the fastest and most effective ways to lower your wedding cost is to pare down the invitees. Get out that red pen! At $100 a head, taking 10 guests off the guest list saves $1,000! Also consider the size of your wedding party: Gifts and transportation are cheaper for two than for ten.
3. Pass on Pricey Details
Glamorous details on items that you're indifferent about spike costs without adding any fun to your day. Free yourself of the pressure to upgrade and instead make honest choices based on what you want. As a general rule, before you sign a contract, look through the itemized list of what you're buying and, ask yourself, "Will anyone notice if we don't do this?"
4. Consider Printing Costs
Having two shades of ink on your invitation might match your color scheme, but it can also add massive printing costs; square invites also requires extra postage.
5. Get a Smaller Car
Town Cars will shuttle your wedding party to the reception just as effectively as a Hummer stretch limo.
6. Skip the Special Effects
If you're happy with simple wedding pictures, pass on options like sepia tones, multiple exposures and split frames.
7. Substitute Less Expensive Flowers
Choose flowers that are in season, and pick locally grown flowers rather than blooms that need to be flown in from afar to reduce costs. For example, if you exchange Black Magic roses for more reasonably priced, deeply colored dahlias in all your bouquets and table arrangements, you'll save about $4 a stem. If you were planning on having five roses per bouquet and 10 per centerpiece, and have a wedding party of five ladies and guest list of 150 people, you could save $700.
8. Simplify Your Menu
Reduce the number of overall dinner courses (making three courses fabulous costs less than serving five individual courses) and keep your menu simple. Stick with the specialties of the season and region.
9. Save the Good Stuff for Later
Have the caterers bring out the fancy Dom Perignon for the toast, but pour a less expensive champagne the rest of the night—no one will ever see the bottle or know the difference.
10. Pare Down the Cake Extras
Order a small, fabulous cake that's exactly what you want and, in the kitchen, have several sheet cakes of the same flavor cut for your guests. And stay away from tiers and (time-consuming) handmade sugar flowers, fancy fillings and special molded shapes. Have your caterer decorate each plate with a flavored sauce instead. Buttercream frosting is also tastier and less expensive than fondant.
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30 Essential Wedding Planning Tips and TricksCover all your wedding planning bases with these expert tips no soon-to-be-wed should be without.
by The Knot
When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and then there are things you need to know—advice so essential that 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 FirstGet 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 not if you count the space you'll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.
2. Investigate Wedding Blackout DatesKnow 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 NatureHeed 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.
4. Check Your CreditTake 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 ForwardLet 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 packs the dance floor.
6. Lighten Your ListThe 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 ReceiveRequest 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 PlanAnother 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, 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 that 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.
Wedding Dates to Avoid in 2018, 2019 and 2020
Ready to set a date?
Check this list of dates you might want to steer clear of when booking your wedding.
by The Knot
One of the first things you do when planning a wedding is picking out a date—or multiple date options, to avoid pigeon-holing yourself. Use our guide below to make sure you pick the right one (and once that's done, check out our All-In-One Wedding Planner app to get some extra help with the rest of those wedding planning duties).
Personally Significant DaysCheck your own calendar for college reunions, family weddings, anniversaries or other events, like big conventions or festivals in your city (call your local chamber of commerce), and any annual occasions that involve your family or close friends.
Holiday WeekendsHoliday weekend weddings where you have Monday off from work have pros and cons. You've got an extra day for the festivities (and recovery!), plus you can have your wedding on a Sunday, which is often less expensive than a Saturday one. But costs of travel and hotels may be higher. And if you're looking to marry around Valentine's Day, be wary of your floral bill, especially if you've got your heart set on red roses—they'll likely be more expensive than at any other time of the year. Likewise, reception sites often charge a higher fee for a New Year's Eve wedding. Also, don't forget to consider the impact of a holiday weekend on your guest list—some families have standing plans or traditions they'd prefer not to miss.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (always a Monday)
Weekend of January 13–15, 2018
Weekend of January 19–21, 2019
Weekend of January 18–20, 2020
Presidents' Day (always a Monday)
Weekend of February 17–19, 2018
Weekend of February 16–18, 2019
Weekend of February 15–17, 2020
Mother's Day (always a Sunday)
Make sure your moms are okay sharing this weekend with your wedding. And ask yourself: Do you want your anniversary to fall on the same weekend as Mother's Day if or when you become a mom?
Weekend of May 12–13, 2018
Weekend of May 11–12, 2019
Weekend of May 9–10, 2020
Memorial Day (always a Monday)
Weekend of May 26–28, 2018
Weekend of May 25–27, 2019
Weekend of May 23–25, 2020
Father's Day (always a Sunday)
As you would with your moms, check with your dads about doubling up on this day. And grooms, make sure you're okay with celebrating your anniversary the same weekend as Father's Day if you decide to have kids.
Weekend of June 16–17, 2018
Weekend of June 15–16, 2019
Weekend of June 20–21, 2020
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Thursday, July 4, 2019
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Labor Day (always a Monday)
Weekend of September 1–3, 2018
Weekend of August 31–September 2, 2019
Weekend of September 5–7, 2020
Columbus Day (always a Monday)
Weekend of October 6–8, 2018
Weekend of October 12–14, 2019
Weekend of October 10–12, 2020
Avoid it if you're terrified that someone might actually show up in costume (and embrace it if you want them to!).
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Thanksgiving (always a Thursday)
November 22, 2018
November 28, 2019
November 26, 2020
New Year's Eve
Monday, December 31, 2018
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Religious and Cultural HolidaysBe mindful of religious and cultural holidays (your own and those of your guests) when planning your wedding. There may even be restrictions at your house of worship as to whether you're allowed to marry at these times.
March 25, 2018
April 14, 2019
April 5, 2020
April 1, 2018
April 21, 2019
April 12, 2020
Passover (begins at sunset)
Friday, March 30, 2018
Friday, April 19, 2019
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Tisha B'Av (begins at sunset)
Saturday, July 21, 2018
Saturday, August 10, 2019
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Rosh Hashanah (begins at sunset)
Sunday, September 9, 2018 until nightfall on Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Sunday, September 29, 2019 until nightfall on Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Friday, September 18, 2020 until nightfall on Sunday, September 20, 2020
Yom Kippur (begins at sunset)
Tuesday, September 18, 2018 until nightfall on Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 until nightfall on Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Sunday, September 27, 2020 until nightfall on Monday, September 28, 2020
Hanukkah (begins at sunset)
Sunday, December 2, 2018 until nightfall on Monday, December 10, 2018
Sunday, December 22, 2019 until nightfall on Monday, December 30, 2019
Thursday, December 10, 2020 until nightfall on Friday, December 18, 2020
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Friday, December 25, 2020
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 until Monday, January 1, 2018
Wednesday, December 26, 2018 until Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Thursday, December 26, 2019 until Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Ramadan (dates may vary based on the lunar calendar)
Tuesday, May 15 until Thursday, June 14, 2018
Sunday, May 5 until Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Thursday, April 23 until Saturday, May 23, 2020
Eid al-Fitr (dates may vary based on the lunar calendar)
Thursday, June 14 until Friday, June 15, 2018
Tuesday, June 4 until Friday, June 7, 2019
Saturday, May 23 until Sunday, May 24, 2020
Eid al-Adha (dates may vary based on how each family observes; the holiday lasts for about four days)
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Sunday, August 11, 2019
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Monday, March 26, 2018
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Monday, September 3, 2018
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Days of RemembranceWe're talking about historically significant days (like the anniversary of September 11) that may be off-limits if you come from a big military family. Or, that could make them all the more meaningful—it's up to you to decide.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Friday, September 11, 2020
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Friday, December 7, 2018
Saturday, December 7, 2019
Monday, December 7, 2020
Major Sporting EventsIf you're die-hard sports fans—or if you're worried your guests might have a hard time choosing between your wedding and the big game—avoid getting married during popular sporting events. And if a lot of your guests come from the same alma mater, watch out for homecoming weekends and bowl games that might conflict.
Super Bowl Sunday
February 4, 2018, in Minneapolis, MN
February 3, 2019, in Atlanta, GA
February 2, 2020, in Miami, FL
Final Four During March Madness
Saturday, March 31, 2018 and Monday, April 2, 2018, in San Antonio, TX
Saturday, April 6, 2019 and Monday, April 8, 2019, in Minneapolis, MN
Saturday, April 4, 2020 and Monday, April 6, 2020 in Atlanta, GA
Unlucky DatesIf you're superstitious, you might want to watch out for these historically inauspicious dates from across several cultures.
The Ides of March
For ancient Romans, an "ides" was simply a date that marked the middle of the month—until Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15 in 44 BC. Since then, "Beware the Ides of March" has become the mantra of this superstitiously unlucky date.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Friday, March 15, 2019
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Friday the 13th
The unluckiest date of the year has questionable origins. Some historians say it comes from the 13 diners who were present at the last supper, but the famous Babylon's Code of Hammurabi doesn't include a 13th law, which suggests this superstition is as old as 1700 BC. And it wasn't until a successful novel titled Friday, the Thirteenth was published in the early 1900s that Friday became part of the unlucky equation.
April 13, 2018
July 13, 2018
September 13, 2019
December 13, 2019
March 13, 2020
November 13, 2020
Greeks and Romans thought starting any new life event—from getting married to baptizing a child—in a leap year would bring bad luck.
Next Leap Year: 2020
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Following Leap Year: 2024
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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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