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@theweddinglens.com.

~ 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

Thanksgiving Weekend Wedding Ideas

A friend of mine is going to a wedding this weekend — Thanksgiving weekend! It sounded really odd to me at first, but then I started thinking about all the great things that a Thanksgiving wedding weekend could have! So if you are contemplating dates, here are some great reasons to have a Thanksgiving theme!

A great wedding party photo from The Wedding Lens! Wouldn't it be great to have everyone together for Thanksgiving too?

First, of course: FOOD! Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce…. YUM! It’s all delicious, and it’s all pretty reasonably priced if you want to cook it yourself.

Second: family and friends! Thanksgiving is all about surrounding yourself with great family and wonderful friends. What’s a better time to show your gratitude? Get everyone together, eat a lot, drink a lot and celebrate! Plus, if friends and family were going to be traveling to your vicinity (or somewhere else), it’s a little more green to have their travel do double duty, right? Right.

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Third: colors and decorations. I’m a sucker for all things orange, so the fall season is particularly appealing to me. Everything is orange! Pumpkins, persimmons, sweet potatoes (not my fav, but orange!). All of these can combine for easy color decorating and natural decorations, especially if you’re in an area where leaves are changing. Nice, right?  Plus, with all these biodegradable decorations, well again, it’s just being green (but orange at the same time)!

I’d LOVE to see photos from a Thanksgiving weekend wedding! What do you think of the idea?

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Natasha

Colorful Wedding Dresses!

Obviously there’s a stereotype that the bride’s dress needs to be white. But guess what? It doesn’t! There are a lot of dresses out there that are colorful and add just a little bit to the traditional day. The bride gets to add some of her personality to the dress — and they often look better than the plain white counterpart.

For example, consider this lovely blue wedding gown:

photo by yakobusan

photo by yakobusan

Or, there are a lot of dresses that add just a little bit of color to the white gown… Here’s an example of a dress that has a bit of yellow/gold in it. It’s really nice!

photo from The Wedding Lens

photo from The Wedding Lens

Or, if you’re a nontraditional kind of bride, maybe a bright green will be your best option! You’ll look great and hey, you can wear the dress again!

photo by justlgi

photo by justlgi

So what do you think? Do you like the other colors? Check out the pictures of ALL the real wedding dresses!

Colorful Choices – The Color Scheme

The color scheme is one of the early decisions that you have to make when planning your wedding.  It comes up in so many aspects of the planning — attire, linens, flowers, and many other planning parts.

There are unlimited options, of course! You can pick one color (or color pair) or a color scheme (like Fall colors) or you can just pick out random colors.

Recently, some of the most popular color schemes include: pink & brown; pink & black; blue, turquoise, & chartreuse; aqua and red (or poppy, as Martha Stewart apparently calls it); mustard & blue.

Having trouble deciding? Here are 3 good sources:

First, The Wedding Bee tells us about the Pantone Mood Selector which matches your mood to colors and might give you some good ideas.  Pantone Mood Selector is located HERE.

Second, there is Multicolrwhich gives you images of various wedding things based on the colors you select. Multicolr is located HERE.

Third, Snippet & Ink is a fabulous blog that discusses all kinds of color ideas! Snippet & Ink is located HERE.

Fourth, you can check out photos from weddings in all different colors and see what you like: real, colorful wedding photos!

How did you pick YOUR wedding colors? Let us know!

~ Natasha