As our wedding date is getting closer I wanted to share some tips that I’ve learned through the process! To some of you this might come as a surprise, but Beau and I decided on ALL of our vendors on 90% personality and 10% how they work and their work. We wanted the PEOPLE working and being there to make the day happen to be people that we LIKE and TRUST vs. how good they do their job. We weren’t going to hire our stationary artist just because she did beautiful work, but also because we got our vision and was one of the nicest people we’ve ever met.
We wanted the planning process to be fun and stress free. So here’s a few more hints;)
Five Wedding Tasks To Finish Early
By THE STREET
1. Guest list
Last year the amount spent on the average wedding jumped 23%, from $19,581 in 2009 to $24,066, according to The Wedding Report. During the same time, the average numbers of guests at weddings rose to 141 from 128. It’s no coincidence: More folks are willing to part with a discount store blender to get some free chicken piccata and booze.
“Most people think their budget determines their guest list when, really, it’s the other way around,” says Sharon Naylor, a wedding expert who’s written roughly 35 wedding advice books, including Your Wedding, Your Way. “Talking with each other and with parents to find out how big of a wedding it’s going to be … will determine your location.”
Of course, if a couple is feeling independent enough and wants to start a budget early in the process and keep it — as the Real Wedding survey says 34% of couples did last year — they’re well within their rights to pick a venue that suits their needs and put a cap on the invitations. If parents or other relatives are kicking in, as 45% of the bride’s parents and 12% of the groom’s parents did last year, it gets a bit more complicated.
Couples should also plan for their worst nightmare: the off chance their whole list of invitees, including buffer friends and courtesy extended-family invites, responds “Yes.” The national average may have been 141 wedding guests last year, but 34% of couples ended up with weddings of 150 people or more.
Custom wedding dresses take months to design, photographers can book up in more than a year in advance and bands and DJs also book their gigs well ahead of time. Which to pick first?
Naylor suggests tackling all of them by having a couple write out lists of their five top priorities, meshing them and addressing them in order. She also suggests making similar five-item lists of features they don’t care about and delegating them to someone who does.
“If the couple doesn’t care about it, give it to the bride’s or groom’s parents and let them work on it,” Naylor says. “Parents are more often just paying for only the stuff they work on anyway, so if it’s something couples don’t want, but the parents feel strongly about it, let them pay for it.”
Naylor also notes that more family members are giving wedding items as gifts and suggests letting a grandmother buy a couple’s invitations instead of their set of luggage. While that’s one way to knock items off the to-do list, WeddingChannel’s Eisinger also suggests interviewing and checking the portfolios of photographers early; couples in the Real Weddings survey began researching photographers an average of eight months before the wedding and booking them roughly seven months before the event. Perhaps no item should get higher priority than the wedding dress, which most brides start looking at an average of nine months before the big day but should really be looking at well before that if they want it ready for the ceremony without going off-the-rack.
The priority lists may seem like a lot of minor items thrown together, but they can all create major headaches for couples. Couples who underestimate the amount of time it takes to alter a dress, order and get invitations and have wedding rings even as seemingly simple as men’s wedding bands made to order can lose out on their first choices months before the first wedding song is played.
The geographical location of one’s wedding may seem a bit arbitrary, but it’s a big deal for couples with a lot of folks flying in for the affair. Only 24% of couples last year had what they considered “destination” weddings, as much of the country kept it closer to home — and spent a lot of time doing so.
“It used to be that brides and grooms would tour four or five locations,” Naylor says. “Since the biggest factor in wedding planning now is a lot more time, we’re seeing brides and grooms touring eight or 10 locations.”
If a couple’s wedding ends up in a “home” state that hasn’t been home for some time or in a location closest to their far-flung relatives, Naylor suggests talking to people who had their weddings in these areas, even if they’re outside your circle of friends. A site such as WeddingMapper, for example, can offer wedding profiles, photos, vendors and couples’ reviews of an area before couples literally go treading into unfamiliar territory.
It’s No. 4 on our list, but it’s No. 1 in most couple’s minds; the reception site alone was easily the biggest-ticket item on couples’ lists last year — they cost an average of more than $12,000 for food, drinks, bar service, site fees and rentals. If couples think they can save by having a wedding at home and cutting out transportation and excess decor, their plan will work only if they can keep the party to a dull roar.
“The problem is that the one location could require a lot of rentals,” Naylor says. “It’s not just portable restrooms, but generators, heaters, coolers and a tent for the caterers — it’s very detailed.”
As 1-800Registry’s Kerestic points out, however, the venue is also the first big domino to fall and sets the rest of the vendors in motion. Once the venue and date are squared away, seemingly major details such as florists, music and even photographers from a venue’s vendor list all fall in line afterward, especially if the venue handles catering on-site.
5. Wedding coordinator
Only 19% of couples hired a wedding planner last year, according to the Real Weddings survey, but The Wedding Report says use of wedding planners is up 22% from 2009. They don’t come cheap, as survey couples paid an average of nearly $1,700 for their services last year, but they can be worth the investment for couples who still haven’t registered for a backbone.
“If you’re a shy person who has a problem saying no to authority figures, which happens a lot, a wedding coordinator can step in,” Naylor says. “If you don’t want something but don’t want to offend the vendor, the coordinator will make that call for you.”
Of the couples who hired a wedding planner last year, only 38% went with the full-time, full-service, bridezilla-taming planner that’s become somewhat of an archetype in wedding folklore (a la Jennifer Lopez inThe Wedding Planner). The majority of couples (52%) go with a day-of-event coordinator who keeps in touch in the days leading up to the ceremony and whose main job is to take heat off the couple and prevent disasters.
“A lot of things can go wrong on the day of the wedding,” Eisinger says. “I like to think of a coordinator as insurance if you’re not going to be purchasing wedding insurance for if it rains, if the flowers don’t come on time or if the groom is stuck in traffic.”