How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What! (Part I)

So you’re engaged… now what? That’s the beginning of the wedding planning process! A friend of The Wedding Lens recently got engaged and was asking questions about time frames. So here we go!

Because engagements take place for different lengths of time, I’m not going to specify how long before the wedding date you should do each action. But this is generally the ORDER of things. Where possible, I’ve linked to other related blog posts on the topic! (And here’s just a list of things to do for wedding planning, if you just want that) Also, be sure to check out our Cheap Wedding Tips and our Green Wedding Tips, both of which have great ideas to help you out during different stages of the planning process!

First Steps

  1. Create a budget! This means taking a list of everything that you know you’ll have to spend money on and deciding how much you can dedicate to each portion. Check out our Guide to Creating a Wedding Budget — which specifies which costs are fixed and which depend on the number of guests.
  2. Pick the wedding party. This seems early in the process right? True! But the wedding party can help you with the tasks that you’ll have to do. Pick early, they’ll help early!
  3. Divide tasks! After reading the rest of this blog post, you’ll get a full picture of everything there is to do: from marriage license to centerpieces.  Once you have that list, divide up the tasks however you see fit.

Things That Shouldn’t Wait

  1. Marriage license.  Every state has different rules on the time frame needed to apply for a license and to get married. Make sure you know what you need to do before you get too close to your wedding date!
  2. Find a venue, date, and officiant. This is sort of circular because you need the venue and the officiant to be available on the same date. But keep in mind that you may have to pick two venues — one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Just be sure they’re both available on the same date! Here’s how to pick a wedding date. Also, make sure you look at how to find a venue AND the questions you need to ask each venue. With officiants, think about whether you will have a religious officiant or a friend. Find out any state requirements if you want a friend or family member to officiate.
  3. Create the guest list. Sometimes it’s hard to limit the guest list, so consider having A lists, B lists, and C lists. Here are our tips for the guest list. Also, be sure to decide whether you want kids to attend or not.
  4. Themes/Styles/Colors. The earlier you select any themes, styles, or colors, the earlier you can get started with some of the other aspects of planning. After all those three aspects will impact the dress selections, the flowers selections, etc. Here’s some help on how to pick your color scheme.
  5. Wedding dress. The wedding dress should be purchased earlier in the planning process because it might need to be fitted several times. Depending on how long your engagement lasts, this should be done ASAP. Plus the bride will want her dress before the bridesmaids get theirs! Here’s how to choose  the right wedding dress and some ideas for colorful wedding dresses.
  6. Save the Date.  The save-the-date (or STD) should tell guests when & where you’re getting married. When should you send the save-the-dates? It depends on when you’re getting married, but generally, send them as soon as possible. If you are ordering save-the-dates that you want to look similar to your invitations, there are companies that give you package deals. Here is a timeline of when to send save-the-dates and when to send invitations. Here are some creative save the date ideas and how to address the save-the-dates.
  7. Order your online photo album from The Wedding Lens. By ordering your online photo album from The Wedding Lens early, you can start telling your guests where to upload photos AND you can include your engagement photos in the album or any other older photos to share your memories with your guests.
  8. Wedding website. Obviously put as much information on here as you can, but here’s what to include on your wedding website.
  9. Find vendors. This means finding vendors for everything you might want. Here is how to find the right vendors for you (and each category that follows links to a blog post that will help you narrow down what will be best for you in that area). Photographer (engagement photos and day of), videographer, florist (selecting flowers), caterer, DJ/band/music, bakery, wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Any other kind of vendors you might want (eg if you want to have wedding entertainment such as a photo booth, cigar bar, or silhouette artist) can usually wait a bit longer in the planning process.

Stuff That Can Wait a Little Bit

  1. Invitations! What goes inside, when to send, how to tell your guests that no kids can come, RSVP cards. Remember, there are specific rules on how to address invitations, so make sure you check those out (yes, there will be a blog post coming!)
  2. Attire: Groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen. Here’s everything related to helping you select wedding attire!
  3. Hair & makeup for the bride and bridesmaids, if you would like.
  4. Rings! Dont forget you both need to exchange rings on the day of the wedding. Here are some green tips on picking the rings.
  5. Decorating: flower arrangement (or alternatives to flower bouquets), centerpieces, plates/napkins/glassware, guestbook, favors, place cards, menu cards, cake toppers, chair rentals/chair covers, other entertainment)
  6. Guest-related: Accomodations, transportation, and out of town bags!
  7. Get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the perfect time in the planning process to get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens! When you share the information on accomodations & transporation with your guests, you can also share the link to the album and remind people to bring their digital cameras to your wedding. Plus people can start uploading old and new memories of you & your fiance(e)!
  8. Menu planning: buffet vs sit-down meal; alcohol – open bar, soft bar, signature drinks. Here are all things food & drink related to help guide you through this!

Final Steps

  1. RSVPs
  2. Ceremony planning: walking down the aisle, vows, readings — and whatever else you want to take place.
  3. Seating chart: who will sit where during the reception? Here’s how to create a seating chart!
  4. Music (song) selections for band or DJ, both during the ceremony and reception.
  5. Remind your guests to bring their cameras to your wedding day so they can capture memories for your online photo album.
  6. Planning the timeline: This means planning the timeline of who arrives where at what time, what order things occur, and who transports what where. It’s meant to be distributed so that everyone is on the same page about what’s going on.
  7. Programs: This lets your guests know what is going to happen & when! Here’s the information on writing your programs.

So that’s everything you have to do…. Next blog post will cover what comes up on the day of and any other last minute things and miscellaneous things you should be aware of! (Like gift registry, thank you cards, wedding insurance, things people forget, staying calm…. all coming up!) 

Good luck! Remember, if you have questions – email me!

~ Natasha

Creative Save-the-Dates!

A few days ago, one of the morning shows featured a Save-The-Date video that had “gone viral.” How funny to see your Save-The-Date on tv, when it’s supposed to only save-the-date for your friends and family! Anyway, it was such a clever video, it got me thinking about all the creative ways you can let people know that they should save that date for your wedding!

Save the Date with a personalized photo! This photo is from The Wedding Lens!

Remember: always include your names, the date, and the location on the STD. If possible, include your wedding website on there too so couples can be updated as needed.

1. Video: As I mentioned above, try sending out a video that you make at home. The one I saw on the morning show went WAY farther than you need to, so don’t use that as an example. (The STD was done was a movie trailer!) Consider just having you & your significant other talking in the camera. Or hold up signs. Or show photos of your favorite spots and include a shot of a card with the STD information on it.

2. One site suggests doing something creative (like using Scrabble letters to spell out the STD information) and then take a photo. Use that as a card that you can mail out.

3. Postcards! There are two ways to do this. a) One way is that you can create your own postcard. Use a photo of yourselves and insert the STD information. Or just provide the STD information. b) The second way is to use regular postcards (perhaps of the location of your wedding?) and write the STD information as the message on the back of the postcard.

4. Take photobooth photos together, while holding the Save the Date information. Then you can either affix it to a postcard, create a postcard from the photos, OR just scan it if you want to send digital STDs.

5. Go digital! In our continuing effort to encourate people to be more eco-friendly with wedding planning, try sending electronic Save-The-Dates! You can do any of the things above and email them. It even saves you postage!

Looking for more information on STDs? Check out our posts on How to Address Save the Dates, When to Send Save-The-Dates and Invitations, More Save the Date Ideas!

Do you have any creative Save-The-Date ideas you would like to share?

~ Natasha

Wedding Trends for 2010!

With a new year comes new trends and traditions, here are a few of the top wedding trends that may affect your wedding planning decisions – or not!

Turquoise bridesmaids dresses! Ahead of the 2010 trend... Photo from The Wedding Lens!

Color: The color of the year is turqoise! It’s flair & sophistication all in one color and it’s a color that can be incorporated into many parts of the wedding. Turquoise can add a touch of color in the form of earrings, necklaces, napkins, ribbons, and even printing colors for invitations and programs.

Style: The style trends are simple and homey. In this economy, people are looking to have simple, traditional weddings in smaller locations (even at home!). This is also consistent with the other latest style trend — to be as eco-friendly as possible. Simple, fewer guests, less travel, local/in season flowers, local organic food —  incorporate however many “green” things into your wedding as you’re comfortable doing.  Be rustic, vintage, simple, and green all in one.

Location: The new location: close by! People are cutting back on traveling, both because of expense and because of aspirations of being green. (Less travel means less gasoline means less toll on the earth!)

Cake: Buttercream is the cake of the year!

Photos & video: People will incorporate more video presentations, more digital photos. This also means using online photo sharing websites so people can share photos easily, without having to print them. And online photo sharing means couples won’t have to buy anti-eco-friendly disposable cameras – which requires printing a million photos just to get one clear shot and requires disposing of the camera. Lots of waste. Go digital!)

Any other trends you see coming up? Let us know!

Happy New Year (a little late!)

~ Natasha

Ideas for All Things White at Your Wedding!

In honor of winter (and hence snow), we’re going to share some of our white wedding photos to inspire you to have all kinds of white things at your wedding! Just to be clear, I’m skipping photos of white wedding dresses, ’cause that’s pretty well known.

But you know what’s not always used? A beautiful white hairclip!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

And white accessories: earrings and necklace!

Photo from The Wedding Lens

And then to get the bride and groom to the ceremony, about about transportation: the white limo!

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Then, to walk down the aisle, have the bridesmaids carry white flowers….

Photo from The Wedding Lens

And ask guests to sit on white chairs during the ceremony!

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

You can even decorate the white chairs with white flowers!

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Following the ceremony, a completely white decorated reception:

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

including… a white wedding cake WITH white flowers!

Photo from The Wedding Lens

and white name cards

Photo from The Wedding Lens

And finally, top off the wedding with white favors (or favors in white packages!)

Photo from The Wedding Lens

 Will you have white things at your wedding? Like what?

~ Natasha

Guest Post: Wedding Wall Decals!

This month’s guest blog post is all about wedding wall decals. Wall decals have taken the designing world by storm and for good reason. These pretty peel and stick designs can be used almost everywhere and are as easy to remove as to apply. Why not also use decals as part of your wedding décor? They make great backgrounds for playful pictures, just like photo booths, or prompts.   Plus no matter what style of wedding you are having there is a decal out there that will compliment the look you are going for.  And of course you can bring them home when the day is done.


I found these decals in our wedding expert , Globetrotting Bride’s wish list. You should check it out she has tons more ideas. 

I love the whimsical tree with swirling branches from Dali Decals. (top left) Dali Decals has tons of custom made decals, in an assortment of colors that you can use for any occasion or room. You can even get your personal monograms made into a decal. How perfect is that for the wedding?

The dandelion decal (top right) is from Etsy designer Leen the Graphics Queen and she and I share a passion for dandelions. This decal is an original design so it is only available on Etsy. It is soft and playful and it would compliment a summer or fall wedding.

Another Etsy find is (bottom left) the fancy chandelier. Looking to add a touch of the romantic and elegant to your wedding? This Decal does the trick. And it is much less costly than an actual chandelier.

The love birds are from Velocity and they are wall candy for the eyes (the sunflowers are not part of the decal) the bright pink and blues are just fun. 

So consider decorating your wedding with wall decals it’s creative, less costly than almost any other type of decoration, and the best part you can use them again. 

~ gift girl

Follow gift girl on twitter @gift_girl and @wishpot  or check out the Wishpot wedding blog for more wedding inspiration.

Cool Looking Cakes!

I’ve been perusing some photos on the web and have found some of the coolest looking cakes! I thought you’d appreciate them too.

I like this one because the colors match the wedding color theme: blue and brown/black! It looks so great and I’m guessing there was chocolate under there, so they really couldn’t go wrong!

photo from The Wedding Lens

photo from The Wedding Lens

 This next cake is… um… awesome! It’s Nintendo! It fits the personality of the couple and it’s cool looking too! And, from what I understand, it tasted AWESOME.

photo from deadling

photo from deadling

This one is along the same lines — a castle! It’s so cool looking and elegant.

photo by A.M. Kuchling

photo by A.M. Kuchling

And here’s a “simple” white cake — with a dash of pink, and stairs, and… wow…. How cool is this?!

photo by avlxyz

photo by avlxyz

Actually, I thought I was going to stop earlier, but I had to include this great cake. This is the tallest elegant, white cake I have seen!

picture by MaoMan

picture by MaoMan

Want your guests to share their photos with you?? Get ’em all in ONE album on The Wedding Lens!

Which Flowers are in Season for a Wedding

One of the most green things you can do for your wedding  is use flowers and food that are in season and local.  To help you out, I decided to create this guide for what flowers are available when. Unlike other guides, I decided to organize this based on the time of the year and the COLOR of the flower — just because that’s how I think! 🙂

photo from The Wedding Lens

photo from The Wedding Lens

Year Round Flowers

  • White: Baby’s breath, Bachelor’s button, Calla lily, Carnations, Delphinium, Gardenia, Gladiolus, Lily of the Valley, Orchid, Rose, Scaboisa
  • Red: Bachelor’s button, Carnations, Roses
  • Orange: Carnations, Roses
  • Yellow: Carnations, Roses
  • Blue: Bachelor’s button, Carnations, Delphinium, Eucalyptus, Roses
  • Purple: Delphinium, Orchid, Roses, Scaboisa
  • Pink: Bachelor’s button, Heather, Lily of the Valley, Orchid, Roses
  • Silver: Eucalyptus

Summer Flowers

  • White: Chrysanthemum, Freesia, Gerber Daisy, Hydrangea, Iris, Larkspur, Lily-asiatic, Lily-oriental, Lisianthus, Monte Casino Asters, Queen Anne’s Lace, Snapdragons, Stephanotis, Stock, Tuberose, Yarrow
  • Red: Gerber Daisy, Zinnia
  • Orange: Alstromeria, Chrysanthemum, Gerber Daisy, Lily-asiatic, Snapdragons, Zinnia
  • Yellow: Alstromeria, Chrysanthemum, Freesia, Gerber Daisy, Lily-asiatic, Snapdragons, Solidaster, Sunflower, Yarrow
  • Blue: Forget-me-not, Freesia, Hydrangea, Iris, Larkspur
  • Green: Bells of Ireland
  • Purple: English lavender, Freesia, Hydrangea, Iris, Larkspur, Liatris, Lisianthus, Matsumoto Asters, Monte Casino Asters, Statice
  • Pink: Alstromeria, Crysanthemum, Freesia, Gerber Daisy, Hydrangea, Larkspur, Lily-asiatic, Lily-oriental, Lisianthus, Matsumoto Asters, Snapdragons, Yarrow, Zinnia
  • Cream: Alstromeria

Fall Flowers

  • White: Aster, Crysanthemum, Dahlia
  • Red: Marigold, Zinnia
  • Orange: Crysanthemum, Dahlia, Marigold, Zinnia
  • Yellow: Crysanthemum, Dahlia, Marigold
  • Green: Dried leaves
  • Purple: Statice
  • Pink: Aster, Crysanthemum, Zinnia

Winter Flowers

  • White: Amaryllis, Anenome, Camellias, Casa Blanca Lily, Cosmos, Jasmine, Narcissus, Poinsettia, Ranunculus, Star Gazer Lily, Star of Bethlehem, Sweetpea, Tulip, Waxflower
  • Red: Amaryllis, Anenome, Holly (w red berries), Poinsettia, Ranunculus, Sweetpea, Tulip
  • Orange: Ranunculus
  • Yellow: Daffodil, Narcissus, Ranunculus, Tulip
  • Green: Bells of Ireland, Holly
  • Blue: Anenome, Forget-me-nots
  • Purple: Sweetpea, Tulip
  • Pink: Anenome, Camellias, Cosmos, Ranunculus, Star Gazer Lily, Sweetpea, Tulip, Waxflower
  • Brown: Cosmos

Spring Flowers

  • White: Anenome, Casa Blanca lily, Delphinium, Hyacinth, Lilacs, Narcissus, Peony, Ranunculus, Star Gazer Lily, Sweetpea, Tulip, Waxflower
  • Red: Anenome, Ranunculus, Sweetpea, Tulip
  • Orange: Ranunculus
  • Yellow: Daffodil, Ranunculus, Tulip
  • Green: Bells of Ireland
  • Blue: Anenome, Delphinium
  • Purple: Hyacinth, Lilacs, Sweetpea, Tulip, Waxflower
  • Pink: Anenome, Boronia, Hyacinth, Peony, Ranunculus, Star Gazer Lily, Tulip

Did I miss any?? Let me know!

~ Natasha