I've survived the hubbub of Valentine's & am so happy to bring you the second installment of our wedding planning series in combination with Kathryn the wedding planner extraordinaire! Kathryn & I spent a few hours chatting over coffee to come up with a general lists of all the ins & outs of wedding planning, as well as some insider tips. If you missed part 1 of this series, check it out here.
Part 1 focused on the Big Threes: Budget, Date & Venue, so now that we've established a good starting place we can move on to all the extra details that bring together your BIG day. Once you've booked your venue you are ready to start hiring the rest of the vendors you'll need to complete your dream wedding. Let's start with your biggest budgeted vendors:
Just like booking a venue, your photographer should be booked as far in advance as possible. Full-time wedding photographers often book months, if not years, ahead. They know exactly how many weddings they feel comfortable taking on & what weekends they're free. Before you start contacting anyone however, you need to figure out one important aspect: your style preference. Just like any artist, each photographer has a different style they create that is unique to them alone. If you love bright & white, don't book someone who's specialty is moody boho. It's not fair to you or the photographer.
Settle on your style & THEN start reaching out. Make sure you include your date in the initial contact. It stinks for me as a photographer to fall in love with a potential couple & their vibe only to learn I'm booked up for their weekend. Kathryn also suggests to ask for a breakdown of what is included in their session. Some photographers release only the digital images, some do prints, some create slideshows etc. Know what you're looking for in a package as well. If your chosen photographer can't accomplish everything you're looking for you will need to know how you'll outsource those projects. If you want more information on choosing a photographer who's the perfect fit for your day, please check out our article here.
Up next, catering. Kathryn's biggest suggestion when working with vendors is to keep everyone in the loop. Before you book a vendor, it's worthwhile to check in with your venue's policy. They may require certain requirements or have a short list of approved vendors they will work with. You don't want to step on anyone's toes throughout the process, so double check with the venue staff before moving forward with any additional vendors. When you begin shopping for catering Kathryn says most couples are surprised at the pricing. If you've never catered a large event before, you might not have a realistic idea of what a "cost per head" is for your area. In general, buffets are cheaper than plated dinners, but Kathryn also encourages couples to think outside of the box. Do you have a favorite pizza place? Chinese restaurant? Or love grilled cheese more than anything? It's perfectly fine & actually really fun to go outside of the norm with catering.
Schedule a time to look at pricing options & to do a taste test with your potential caterer. If you love them, make sure to talk about the logistics of the day. What time will they set up? Who handles tear down? Do they provide serving staff or do you need to bring your own? You'll also want to discuss who's responsible for dishes. And once again, remember that when you settle on a game plan, let your venue know. It's always a great idea to share contact information between all your vendors. That way they're able to quickly chat with each other to answer simple questions, rather than constantly reaching out to you as the middle man.
All of the above suggestions apply to your cake artist as well. If your caterer doesn't also create cakes, you'll want to take the same steps with a cake decorator. Kathryn again suggest however, to think outside of the box. We both love the idea of a s'more bar or a wall of donuts instead of a traditional cake.
Alrighty, now let's talk about a florist. It a widespread misconception that fake flowers are cheaper than real. This is far from the truth. Both Kathryn & I feel pretty strongly on choosing real flowers over fake. Silk or plastic flowers often have harsh, unrealistic coloring & no movement. Unless you've spent a huge amount of money of great faux florals, your guests aren't going to be fooled. What Kathryn suggest instead of faux is working with a florist to create spread in your budget. Your florist is an expert on pricing & options, so let them know your end goal & then step back & let the magic happen. Be aware that some blooms become outrageously expensive during off seasons or are always expensive depending on how well they ship, so your florist will likely recommend a few different options that give a similar look & feel without the crazy price tag.
It's also important to remember that florals aren't your only option for decor! Both Kathryn & I used antiques, books & candles to fill out our centerpieces. Brides on a budget have so many creative options to fill space without breaking the bank. Ask your florist how to add just a bit of greenery or small blooms to your centerpieces. You'll achieve the custom, lively look your going for, but still keep your check book in line. Again, establish a timeline with for your big day. You'll need to know who is dropping the flowers off, if they're being setup by you or the florist & also what happens afterwards. If you aren't planning to save all your florals, I would highly suggest donating them to a local hospital or retirement community! No need to let beautiful blooms go to waste!
Kathryn & I have one more piece to wrap up this series. Be sure to check back with us so we can finish discussing your remaining vendors, the dress & all the little things that tend to fall through the cracks. Kathryn has some great tips to make sure no little detail is missed! Talk soon, lovelies!