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

The last blog post I wrote was all about how to plan your wedding — from moment of engagement until the final steps. What I didn’t include were things to know for the day of and miscellaneous things that come up whilst planning your wedding. That’s what I’m going to do here!

For the Day

  1. Put other people in charge! Your wedding party and friends and family should be able to help you with some last minute things that need to happen. Also, be sure that you don’t forget any of the top 5 things people forget! This means that you should make sure you have things like safety pins, bandaids, and tissues. But also make sure someone takes care of your personal stuff (like your camera).
  2. Someone will need to: set-up the guestbook, give money to vendors (and be sure to tip the vendors!), transport flowers, hold emergency items, put out the favors, and place cards with the info on your online photo album website!
  3. Remember to EAT during the reception!
  4. Clean-up & Recycling. Make sure you put people in charge of cleaning up and/or recycling. This should be planned for in advance, but someone in the wedding party should make sure it gets done — especially if it’s not something the venue does for you. By the way, consider donating leftovers to a foodbank.
  5. Stay calm, have fun, and enjoy the moments! Here are some tips for staying calm & tips to make sure you enjoy every moment.

Miscellaneous Wedding Planning

I referred to some of these aspects of wedding planning in the Part I, but here’s everything compiled:

  1. Children-free weddings:
    1. whether to have children or not
    2. how to tell your guests that their children may not attend.
  2. Registries:
    1. what to do about wedding gifts (generally – for both you & the guests)
    2. tips on the gift registry
    3. how to tell people where you’re registered
    4. how to ask for gift cards or money instead of gifts
    5. how to deal with anonymous or unlabeled gifts
    6. what to do if you need to return or exchange a gift
  3. Wedding insurance
    1. All about wedding insurance
  4. Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Rehearsal dinners, Afterparty, Honeymoon: While this blog focuses on wedding planning, it’s important to think about these aspects of the pre- and post-wedding. Some families and friends assume that all five will take place. Others don’t find them necessary! You should do what YOU want!
  5. Staying together the night before: Consider whether you want to stay together the night before the wedding or not. Tradition says you should stay separately, but some couples find it more soothing to be with the love of their lives on one of the most stressful nights.
  6. Thank you notes
    1. when to send thanks especially when gifts come before the wedding date
    2. tips on writing thank you notes!
  7. Being charitable: How to get married AND be charitable at the same time!
  8. Wedding photos: Many times, the best part of the post-wedding is seeing the candid shots that your friends and family took. But a lot of times they’re all over the place on different websites. Make sure all your guests’ upload their photos into ONE online photo album! Give out the website info at the wedding, sign up in advance so The Wedding Lens can send reminder emails, and write the info into your thank you notes! Either way, make sure your photos are easily accessible, viewable, and downloadable!

Remember to check out our Green Wedding Tips and our Cheap Wedding Tips to help save your wallet & save the environment!

Still have questions? Email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com

~ Natasha

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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

How To Pick Vendors for Your Wedding

So you’ve picked your venue and your wedding date and NOW you have to figure out the vendors… For what, you ask? Vendors for food, flowers, music, and any other miscellaneous things you might want (like a photobooth!). How do you even begin to pick your vendors?

vendor

Step One: Find options

  • Ask friends for suggestions.
  • The internet makes finding vendors pretty easy. There are tons of websites with suggestions. And most vendors have websites that give you an idea of what they do.
  • Look at ads on the web. One of my friends found her photographer through a Facebook ad… which led her to look at his website. And they loved him!

Step Two: Find reviews

  • Search any potential vendor on the web. There are so many sites with reviews (like www.yelp.com) that can provide valuable feedback and advice for a particular vendor.

Step Three: Find out their rates

  • Contact the vendor to find out what they charge AND whether that cost is within your budget.

Step Four: Find a time to meet

  • There’s no replacement for meeting people in person. You’ll have to work with them and the best way to judge that is in person! Find some time to meet and see how it goes.

Step Five: Check references

  • Ask the vendor for references and check them out! No harm in finding out what the real deal is.  Of course, you may not need to do this if a friend referred you to the vendor.

How did you find your vendors?

~ Natasha

Learn more about The Wedding Lens & our FREE photo albums!

To Tip the Vendors, or Not to Tip?

One of the tact questions (and, let’s be honest, budgetary questions) that arises in wedding planning is tipping! I know, you budgeted perfectly and what’s this about a tip?

Tipping a vendor is not required, but it does show the vendor that they have done a good job.  Even if they are charging you a service charge, it doesn’t include a tip for the people who are doing the actual work. So, how much do you tip? (Before I start on this, most people are horrified by the idea of you putting out a tip jar so that your guests can tip.)

 WeddingLenox Blog has an interesting formula for figuring it out. They suggest creating an excel spreadsheet that includes a list of all the vendors you are using and the cost of each of those services. For some services you can tip per person and some you can tip a certain percentage of the total fee. Then, if your total far exceeds what you expected to pay, you can adjust (and Excel — as WeddingLenox points out — is fabulous because it recalculates the total for you). Okay, so for example – you can pay your musicians something like $25 per person and you can pay the photographer 10% of their fee. Some websites indicate that the tip should be somewhere between 5%  & 10%, although others say that it should be like tipping at a restaurant – with about a 15-22% tip.

ElizabethAnnDesigns Blog has another list of tips so you are tipping correctly. For example, they suggest tipping the waiters or the delivery person, not the catering company or the florist.  (That said, they also suggest that you tip the person you contracted with so that they can distribute the money…. I’m not sure how you handle that, though!) If you calculate the tip based on the percentage (eg 10%) then you should subtract the cost of equipment rentals, service charges, and sales taxes.  You do NOT need to tip your day of coordinator.

If you want more specific numbers and percentages for each services, HERE is a list of the service and how much ($ or percentage) is expected).  And HERE is another list.

Other tips (get it?): Get a family member or coordinator to distribute the tips. Put them each in a separate envelope for easy distribution. Send THANK YOU notes to your vendors afterwards!

Do you have advice? What did you do?

~ Natasha