Saturday, December 19, 2009

Now that you're Engaged... How to plan a Wedding!

Christmas is just a few days away now and thanks to very strong marketing measures by the jewelry industry, many people all across America will be start planning their weddings come the new year. If on Christmas morning you find an engagement ring under the tree with your name on it, you're in for a fantastic journey.

Over the years I've talked to literally tens of thousands of brides and grooms, photographed hundreds, and listened to one too many horror stories! So I'd like to put my two sense in and provide some pointers to those of you who will be filing your taxes jointly in 12012.

      1. Be prepared. I'm going to assume that your engagement was a while in the making and you've had time on your hands already to dreamily surf the internet looking at dresses and bouquets. Now is the time to step into the big leagues and do some serious research. The first thing you'll need to do is make a list of all the services you might need and then prioritize them according to when they need to be completed. Here's a sample list to get you started. When you do contact different vendors be prepared with a specific set of questions. Knowing what you want before you start searching saves everyone time and helps you from loosing your mind.
  • Venue- Book up to 2 years in advance or more depending on location
  • Catering (if not provided by the Venue) -12-18 months prior
  • Photography - 12-24 months in advance
  • DJ or other Musical entertainment- 12-14 months before the wedding
  • Invitations- 12 months prior
  • Wedding Dress- Start trying them on ASAP but be choosy about what you buy! Buy at least 8 months before the wedding to leave time for alterations.
  • Groom's Tux- 3-6 months before the big day
  • Bridesmaids Dresses- Same as wedding dress
  • Groomsmen's Tuxes- same as Groom's tux
  • Cake (if not provided by the Caterer or Venue)-3-6 months ahead
  • Florist (some Venues also provide this service)-3-9 months ahead
  • Transportation (Limo, Hotels for you and out of town guests)- 4-6 months ahead
  • Favors- depending on what you are planning this varies, keep in mind that custom items take longer to produce.
  • Additional items: Linens, chair and table rentals, decorations, etc.- 2-4 months before.

     2. Attending wedding shows can be a great place to start. Go prepared to meet vendors you've already researched, find new options you hadn't thought about, and end your day with sore feet. Too many brides attend wedding shows without a thought as to what they want to accomplish. Do yourself a favor and decide what your wants and needs are prior to attending, that way if you find what you've been looking for you can jump on it before some other bride does! Keep in mind that the most popular dates (Saturdays June-September) will book up fast. Vendors like myself specialize in providing quality to the customer so we have a select clientele. If a vendor you want is available at the wedding show put down a deposit! What's that saying again? Oh yah, "to the victor goes the spoils."  It's happened many times to me, I've met a potential client at a wedding show, they talked about booking decided to sleep on it, called a few days later only to find I booked their date in the intervening time.

     3. The thought of deposits brings me to my next point. Set a budget. This can be hard to do since most people have never planned a wedding and don't know how much things cost! On average Americans spend between $25,000-$30,000 on a wedding. That doesn't mean you'll be spending that exact amount, it is an average after all. Vendors are priced based upon that figure, their competition, and knowledge of what the market will bare. For example, I know that most brides spend 10% of their wedding budget on photography so I have an all inclusive package for $2500. For that price you'll get, 2 photographers, all day photography with unlimited time, a DVD of all the files, and online ordering. There are packages lower and higher then this one designed for all kinds of budgets.  Year after year, the package I just described has been my most popular. My suggestion? Take the list of services you created earlier and rank them in order of importance and then decide how much of your total budget you are willing to spend on that service. Try to avoid skimping on the venue, photography, and DJ since these three things will have the most lasting impact on how nice your wedding looks, and how smoothly it runs.

     4. Don't overlook the details. Save the date postcards may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things but they can make or break a guest list. Taste all the foods your caterer offers prior to finalizing the menu; same things goes for the cake. Consider what time the sun will set for outdoor weddings and/or receptions. Depending on the time of year and your location in the world this changes! Talk to your photographer and choose the time of day that will create the best images.

     5. Don't obsess either! There are things you won't be able to get done and others that won't go as planned. On the day of the wedding, have the maid of honor or another trusted person be "The Go to Guy or Gal" for any problem that may arise. This should be someone that knows what you would want done and how to execute it. Better yet, hire a coordinator, that is money well spent!

    6. Be considerate of your guests, family and friends. Yes, it is your day, but please don't loose sight of the fact that you and your new husband are the hostess and host! Take into consideration the needs and wants of others. Apply diplomacy liberally but know when to stand your ground. Be prepared to make concessions to please new In-laws and  avoid unnecessary contention. This will go a long way to creating a fun filled event for everyone.

To any bride reading this blog, congratulations! I hope you find these tips helpful, and just as importantly, please consider visiting my website and having me photograph your wedding! Irene Jones Photography Online has package listings, portfolio samples and more information about how I hard work to make your wedding day a success.

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