I am so excited to kick off a series of blog posts featuring the amazing Kathryn from Worries Away Event Planning. Kathryn is an expert in all things wedding & a seriously fantastic friend. We sat down together at my favorite Starbucks to start planning our post together. What we had originally planned to be a single article VERY quickly grew into multiple. Weddings are a lot of work -- which is why coordinators like Kathryn are such a blessing. Now, a wedding planner isn't for everyone, or for everyone's budget, so no worries friends! We aren't here to spam you with a billion reasons why you should hire Kathryn (although I seriously recommend it, because she's a hoot & has fantastic taste in people *AKA me*). So to kick things off we're going to start with the "Big Three". These are the three things you need to decide ASAP once you're ready to start planning. They are:
1. Your Budget
2. Your Date
3. Your Venue
Alright here we go, friends. Wedding budgeting. Here's the first piece of advice: Know realistic prices for vendors in your area! Every community has slightly differing pricing standards. Don't get it into your head that a vendor should only cost 'x' amount of money because that's what your cousin paid. Do some research & get a realistic picture of vendor costs before you start planning a glamorous 7 course meal with a live band. In general, throwing a wedding is more expensive than you plan initially. Unless you've thrown huge events before, you probably don't know off the top of your head catering costs or venue prices. Make sure to look around before you fall in love with an idea that won't work for your budget. Factor in not only what you can spend on a wedding, but what you feel comfortable with. My husband & I for instance didn't use our entire budget, because we knew right away we'd rather save a portion for a down payment on our home. Know that you don't have to go all out simply because that's what is "expected". At the end of the day, your day is YOUR day. Create a day you love & don't fret about cutting out extras if they don't work for you.
Kathryn & I both suggest buying a wedding planner to get started once you've decided on your budget. Amazon & Etsy have plenty of great options that will help keep you on track. They often have timelines to follow, pockets to keep contracts & receipts, plus lots of space for notes & doodles along the way. It's a ton of work putting together your big day, so even if you're not a super organized person (me), do your best to keep a handle on things.
Number two, your date. As soon as you can, settle on a date. Kathryn suggests when choosing a date that you pick a few & then discuss things with your most important people. A date that rocks for your in-laws might conflict with a family vacation on your side and vice versa. If you know the people you'd like to include in your wedding party, find low-key ways to ask them their availability. You don't want your Maid of Honor planning a trip to Mexico the date of your wedding. If you've already asked your parties, keep them involved in this process as well.
Once you've got a date that works well, let people know. A short text message is an easy way to get everyone on the same page quickly. This is especially important if you've got family traveling a good distance for the big day. Yes, you'll be sending invites, but it's always nice to let them know as in advance as possible. Travel arrangements can be tricky, it's better to have more time than less.
So, let's say you've settled on a date. Now you can start venue shopping! Take a peek back at your budget and decide between the two of you the largest amount you feel comfortable spending. Before you start, it's also a great idea to discuss your wants & needs in a venue. Wedding planning can be stressful business, so you most definitely want to check in as a couple before making big decisions, like your venue.
Kathryn's has a three big things she needs answered when she's helping a couple venue shop. The first is the couples budget, but the remaining two are questions couples might not know to ask when shopping around. First off, she wants to know the venues policy on catering. Some venues require couples to cater through them & them only. If you have your heart set on catering your favorite taco joint you need ensure your venue is ok. Some venues will accept outside caterers, but have a short list that they're willing to work with. If a venue does require you to use their catering, get price quotes for food as well You'll need to factor both of those things into your budget.
The final venue question Kathryn looks to answer is how a venue handles decorations. This was a question I didn't get answered before we fell in love with our venue & then had to change our game plan a bit. Most venues have decorating restrictions for liability purposes & they vary from place to place. Some common restrictions are open flame, ceiling decorations, like draped fabric, and restrictions on space, such as setting up a stage or bringing in a large item like an archway. A venue may even require that you work with a licensed decorator only & not allow you to decorate yourself.
The final thing you want to do when venue shopping according to Kathryn is to look at reviews. Facebook. Word of mouth. Doesn't matter where it comes from, make sure you hear from other couples who've enjoyed using the space. A beautiful venue with poor staff makes for a stressful wedding. You don't need any extra stress on your wedding day, so make sure to do your homework. One of your greatest resources are the professionals you choose to work with on your big day. If you happen to be working with a rockstar wedding coordinator, like Kathryn, or even know your photographer, caterer etc. ask them if they're familiar with a venue. They'll be able to give you the inside scoop to help fill in the blanks.
You still with me? Kathryn & I have two more posts to share with you throughout the week, so be sure to check back to see pt. 2 of this series. We'll be talking all things guest list, so you can narrow down to your perfect number. Plus, taking a look at your photographer & invitations. Talk soon!