I can sit here and tell you all of the things that I wish I had known before I became a wedding planner. So now I want to share my experiences in hopes that they will make your day just a little more special.
Set a Budget
The most important thing you can do is set a budget and try the best you can to stick to it. But a word of caution: be realistic. If you are watching WEtv and want a “fairytale wedding” just like the one featured in the program for $10,000, you are going to be very disappointed.
You and your fiance must sit down and calculate the cost. Here is a great site that can help you see how to prioritize your spending. If you just have to have that $5000 gown, that is fine, just know that you will have to cut somewhere else (or have Grandma buy it for you).
In my experience I have learned that there are three things not to go cheap on:
1. The Wedding Photographer
2. The Bride’s Flowers
3. The Wedding Night DJ
The Wedding Photographer
You have spent countless hours planning your dream wedding and the pictures taken by your photographer will be the pictures you have for the rest of your life! When you look back on your family history, what do you look at? PICTURES! Pictures of what? WEDDINGS! You could go to Craigslist and hire someone to take pictures, but it is unlikely to find one who creates quality images.
A good photographer is invested in his trade, which means he or she is invested in YOU! And although price is a factor, don’t just look at dollar signs, look beyond. Look at the quality of the photos. Does the style of photography appeal to you? Does your personality click with the photographers? Does the photographer understand your vision? During your consultation with the photographer, ask him or her to go through the details of the day, how the photographer goes about planning coverage, what equipment he or she plans to use, what backup equipment he or she keeps on hand at the wedding, what training he or she has, and his or her professional affiliations. You will soon understand that when you find a photographer invested in creating beautiful images, you’re getting more for your money than you think.
The Bride’s Flowers
Secondly, consider the flowers. When you see a couple’s wedding pictures, what do you see in every picture? Your bouquet. Your bouquet is the wrong place to try and save money. Instead, save money by scaling down on the bridesmaid’s bouquets and focus on your flowers. Remember, it will be a picture of you and your husband that will be hanging on your wall thirty years from now, and what will be in that picture? Your wedding bouquet!
Flowers are a living product so you have to trust your florist. If something goes wrong, will they be there for you? If an hour after receiving your Calla lilies you notice they are wilting, what will the florist do? Make sure your florist has your back. The floral people we work with have redone bouquets, or upgraded bouquets if something goes wrong on the day of the wedding.
It is important to know prior to the wedding if your florist will be there for you. Talk with your florist about what you want. Tell them about your dream bouquet, can you afford it? If not, can you substitute a more economical flower to make the bouquet more affordable, keeping the look you want? When you share the types of flowers you want with your florist, listen carefully to their advice.
Your florist has countless hours invested in knowing how flowers respond in different seasons and situations, draw upon their experience. Outside wedding in August and you want tulips? Really? Make sure you are comfortable with any person you with whom you work.
The Wedding Night DJ
Third, your DJ and/or entertainment are very important to the success of your wedding day. Your DJ can make or break the reception. Not only do they need to have a great personality and fresh ideas, they need to have a back up system. Ask the DJ about his or her experience. How many weddings have they done? What will they do if people stop dancing, can he or she motivate the crowd to return to the party?
A DJ should also understand the type of music you enjoy. What type of crowd is he or she trying to entertain? Your DJ should also ask about your customs and family traditions. Knowing what is appropriate for you and your guests will make sure that everybody has a fun time during your reception. Price should not be the determining factor for finding a DJ. Quality of service and presentation should. Talk to your DJ about what he or she does. Ask him or her why they became a DJ. I will say it again, when a good DJ is invested in his or her trade, he or she will be invested in you and your wedding.
Planning & Coordination
Weddings are a complicated orchestration of vendors: caterers, bakers, florists, photographers, entertainers – the list goes on. Your time is valuable and you have other commitments, whether work or personal. Thus, you may not have time to make numerous phone calls, set up appointments, and drive all over town looking for the perfect site. Do you need a planner? That is up to you, but I can tell you that you will save time and money by asking a professional for help.
Whatever you decide remember that you could get married in a garage under a light bulb, the rest of this is fluff. Keep things in perspective. You are beginning a new life, a life with someone you love. Congratulations! Hindsight is 20/20. I hope that this will give you a measure of insight so the day after your wedding you do not say, “I wish we had only known.”
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.