We spoke to 5 wedding planners from our Vendor Guide about what they wished more couples knew before they started planning their wedding. That’s right, you’ve reached the SOURCE! You might be surprised to find most of these tips hidden in plain sight, but I’ll be honest, there are things I’ve never even considered after 10 years of talking about real weddings!
Now we’d always recommend hiring a planner from the get-go… after all, their job is to deliver the day of your dreams while connecting you with vendors you might have never met, guiding you through those sometimes choppy waters of budgets + contracts, and ultimately lifting that stress load from your shoulders so you can enjoy this season of your life. Period. But there are some big things to consider before you even get started with them.
1. Pick your perfect partner
Chemistry doesn’t start and end with your partner in life. You’ll be working closely with wedding vendors in every category to make your dream day a reality, so you’ll want an advocate on your side who you can be honest with, but also trust. Riley Loves Lulu tells us, “When you are picking your vendors, especially your wedding planner, make sure you are choosing someone you get along with! It sounds obvious, but so many couples get caught up in published work or experience at the venue, that they may overlook someone that could be their perfect match (sounds a bit like dating, right?). Of course those things can be important, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. We make the argument that an experienced planner can work anywhere, they may even bring a fresh perspective to a space because they haven’t been there done that! The relationship and how you vibe should be your number one deciding factor when choosing the perfect planner. (Just like dating!)
2. Venue hunt with intention
Your time is valuable, don’t forget it! And wedding planning can sometimes suck up all your energy if you’re not mindful of where you’re spending those planning hours. Nicole George recommends taking stock of this from the beginning, starting with your location scouting! “Before jumping into a venue site-tour extravaganza, narrow it down! Although your wedding planner should help filter down your venue choices, we suggest narrowing down your list to your top 3-4 venues to visit from the get-go. The venue search is one of the most important wedding planning decisions and instead of rushing it with a bunch of site-tours with “maybe” venues, be efficient with your (and your partner’s) time and only the ones that appeal to your realistic needs and wants. This is the fastest way to focus your attention and avoid burnout.”
3. Start from the top and work your way down
You’ll make a lot of important decisions in the beginning – budget being one of the biggest priorities. And even if you’re unsure of how you want to allocate your spend, it’s not the end of the world. Taylor Dawn Design spills, “In regards to budget, you definitely want to be mindful of the restrictions you’ve set. I always love to lead my brides when chatting with vendors to start off asking for anything and everything they could want for their day. This helps us get a proposal from a vendor and see the cost all at once. From there, we are able to narrow down what pieces may not be quite as important. This works for florals, rentals, and even specialty linen.
4. Consider splurges in smaller or more creative doses
In similar fashion, Riley Loves Lulu advises balance by making a list of your top 2-3 items at the wedding and going from there. “If catering is your number 1, go ahead and plan that plated filet and lobster dinner. Dreaming of that floral chandelier over the dance floor, consider a taco bar or food truck style reception and splurge on those flowers. If you are considering a splurge item think about doing it in smaller doses – for example a mix of farm tables and rounds will allow you to have that natural wood table feel, but at much less. Want to really pack a big impact but don’t have a huge flower budget? Play with floral patterns on your linens to really bring in the color and texture without having to import thousands of out of season peonies. Being creative will often not only save you a bunch, but the end result can sometimes be much more impactful!”
5. Don’t follow the trends
What??? Trends are an awesome way to see what couples have been leaning towards in recent months, and sometimes they can be a great fit for you that you might not have thought of otherwise? The kicker is that you shouldn’t let them define your entire wedding. Don’t lose yourself in the chaos of trends because, well, they change. And if you’re doing it for the sake of having a photo that looks exactly like someone else’, you’re not being true to you. Nicole George Events, “Instead of following trends, listen to what speaks to you and your partner, your relationship, your personalities, and your individual style. Your wedding should be an unbelievably personal experience and involving your guests in what means most to you is what is going to make your wedding that much more memorable and creative. Sentimental details, whether it is a specific menu or cocktails, catch-phrases the couple uses, hobbies sprinkled into signage & decor, funky music selections, are what creates a “uniquely yours” experience that all couples should explore while planning.”
6. Add personalization anywhere you can
Pardon our parallelism, but customization is worth another mention! Beyond the decor elements + experiences + fashion statements that you choose to incorporate because they scream your name, your guests will appreciate those details that are meaningful and personalized to them as well. Heartfelt surprises are such an easy way to thank your guests for traveling all that way, showering you with gifts for your home/honeymoon/couple’s fund and celebrating with you in the best kind of way. Plus, it’s one detail they’ll never forget! Calluna Events dishes, “At our wedding our escort cards doubled as thank you notes. We hand wrote individual notes to each of our guests and placed them in envelopes. Each note was a personal thank you of why it meant so much to us that they were there with us that day, celebrating our wedding with us.”
7. Prepare your guests
Speaking of elevating that guest experience, you can never over communicate with your guests! If loved ones are traveling from other destinations, and they aren’t as familiar with the terrain, weather, altitude, local hot spots… share your knowledge with them! You don’t want your guests to arrive unprepared for an evening chill that leaves them sitting at the reception, thinking only about how cold they are… Event of the Season recommends “making sure your guests dress accordingly. When sending dress code details, let your guests know of the proper attire for your chosen venue. For example, if you’re planning to wed at a ranch, let your guests know that flat shoes or wide heels are preferred, and if you’re tying the knot at an outdoor venue, let them know to prepare for high or low temperatures.”
8. Make it legal!
Surprisingly, this one gets forgotten! A marriage isn’t official without the right paperwork, which differs from city to city. Be especially mindful of these requirements if you’re having a destination wedding, and don’t wait till the last minute to figure it out either. Event of the Season says, “Once your date and venue are set, research the marriage license application process and guidelines in the city you are getting married. If you have specific questions reach out to the county clerks office or your officiant for guidance.”
Now that you’re equipped with some extra wedding planning know-how, get yourself over to our Vendor Guide and check out all the amazing wedding planners all over the world that will help you craft your dream day without the stress and time suck you might feel otherwise. There are a lot more tips where these come from, based on first-hand experiences too! If you have any tips of your own, we’d love to hear in the comments below.