Planning a wedding is perhaps one of the biggest, most daunting tasks you will ever undertake. There are a million plates to spin, and only one of them has cake on it! If you’re a bride wondering where to begin, we’ve given you the top 3 things you need to do first to get your wedding on track.
You might find yourself thinking “yeah, I knew that already,” but think again! We’ve broken down not only the whats, but also the whys of each essential element of getting your wedding started. Between contracting the perfect coordinator, finding the best venue for your vision, and finding a photographer that is worth every penny, we have all the tips and tricks you’ll need to get ahead on your big day. If you think you don’t need a coordinator or a real photographer (Uncle Mike can do it… right?), think again! The people you bring along on this journey will be the most important part! So settle in, grab a cup of a tea and a notepad, and get ready for some serious wedding wisdom.
1.Hire a coordinator
Every bride in the history of wedding planning has been asked the age old question: “do you have a coordinator?” over Saturday brunch. While this may seem like a redundant and off-putting question (what, you don’t think I can do it all myself??) it is a valid question, and we are here to tell you why. Wedding coordinators know everything there is to know about putting together the perfect wedding for your vision, your season, and your wallet. You may think you want five bagpipers to play at your reception, but have you heard how loud just one bagpiper is? Well, don’t worry, your wedding coordinator has, and can now save you the $800 you would spend on the additional four bagpipers. In addition to having valuable experience with a wide variety of weddings, wedding coordinators also have vendor relationships that can make everyone’s life easier in the weeks leading up to the big day. Hiring someone who has strong relationships with vendors will save you headaches when something needs fixing the week before. Picture this: you’re at the spa with your bridal party, and the centerpieces need fixing. Do you want your phone buzzing beside you in the middle of your deep sea mineral mask, or do you want the expert to handle it so you can get some much deserved R&R? In addition to saving you stress, these relationships will also save you big money. While you and your boo are the shining stars of your wedding, the reality is that vendors see more couples than they can keep track of. Coordinators, on the other hand, are the constant faces that these vendors see and desire to please in order to secure future orders. While it may be tempting to save a buck on the coordinator, consider the cost of running around on your big day, tipping vendors and grabbing uncle Mike by the arm to help you flip the ceremony space for the reception. Your wedding day should be memorable for the vows that you take and the memories that you make, not for the time you spent trying to iron out all the little details between “I Do” and the Electric Slide. So, when someone asks you that very important question: “Do you have a coordinator?” We hope you have an equally important answer: “yes!”
2. Find the right venue
You might be reading this and thinking “Duh, I need to find a venue,” but you would be surprised at how often this very important decision falls through the cracks. The rings, the dress, the guest list, the catering, the vows, it all piles up! Sometimes, brides will choose their venue based on what they’ve always dreamed of, and while you do deserve that dream wedding, there are a few more factors to consider when finding that prime real estate for the most important promise you’ll ever make. When thinking venue, think about your guest list. Although your dream venue might be the most beautiful botanical garden in [insert your state here], if there isn’t enough room there for all of your guests (and all of the guests your parents will inevitably want to add), you will find yourself quite literally in a bind. In addition to the number of guests, think about the experience that you want guests to have. Is it close enough to nice hotels, restaurants, and entertainment for your non-local friends and family? If your venue is outdoors, is there ample shade, access to air conditioning, and water during those brutal summer months? If you’re opting for an indoor wedding, or a winter wonderland, how easy will it be for guests to get to your venue while staying warm and dry? The venue is about so much more than the photos presented on the website. During your visit, have these questions in mind. Ask the person who is giving you your tour what accommodations they have for varying weather and if they have any partnerships with local hotels that might save you some money when blocking rooms for guests. Another thing to consider when thinking about finding the “right” venue is finding the right venue for YOU. Social media provides an influx of ideas, and we’d all be lying if we said we’ve never seen a Pinterest wedding and said “That’s it! That’s MY wedding!” But the fact is this: You are not what you see online, and what you see online, although trendy, may not be you. Think about what is authentic to the two of you. What made you fall in love? Was it being outdoors, or do you love the look of outdoor weddings but really prefer the elegance of an indoor affair? These are all questions to be asking when you are mapping out the space for your big day.
3. Don’t price shop a photographer
Here’s a no brainer for you: weddings are not cheap. But here’s something many brides regret not knowing: your photographer should not be cheap. Now, don’t get it twisted, we are not saying to drain your bank account into one element of your wedding. However, we are saying that you do not want to wake up one day, look to that bedside table and the framed photo of your wedding and think to yourself “I paid that much money for this?” Even a “cheap” wedding photographer is still going to be fairly expensive. There is very rarely a case when you will get a full day’s worth of photos, plus 30+ hours of editing, plus album artwork and countless phone calls and emails for any amount of money that is considered “cheap.” Brides go wrong when they try to select their wedding photographer by finding the cheapest one, but the fact of the matter is that photographers should not be selected by price, but by quality. Before you look at the bottom line, look at their previous work and reviews. Every photographer has his or her own style, so find one that works for you. Often times, photographers take photos in a consistent style and lighting/color scheme. Find one that is consistent with the vision you have for your wedding. Ask family and friends for recommendations of photographers who they trust and enjoyed working with. When you’ve been given some recommendations, meet with a few of them and think critically about who made you feel the most comfortable and at ease. Who would you not mind being with for the whole day of your wedding? (For more information on what to look for when selecting a wedding photographer, check out our last blog: 3 Traits Brides Must Look for in Their Photographers!) Remember when you’re shopping photographers that you are not just paying them for 8 hours of work. Being a wedding photographer requires systematic planning, attention to detail, organization, hours upon hours of selecting and editing photos, and giving you an album that you will look at for the rest of your life. At the end of the day, your budget is your budget, and you may only have so much to work with. But if you remember nothing else, remember this: you get what you pay for.