Tis the season to be… ENGAGED! Top 10 Tips From A Wedding Planner (and 8 from a photographer!)

Love is in the air!  The Christmas and New Year Holidays are always a prime time for engagements!  Time off from school and work, lots of time with family, and a great time to do some planning.

This is the busiest time of the year for brides to ask for information, so I thought I’d share a special treat with my website visitors today!

Planning a wedding is a huge task!  For most brides, it is also something you’ve never done.  How do you decide what is most important?  How can you set up a budget if you don’t know how much things cost?  WHERE DO YOU EVEN START??!

There is a reason that professional wedding planners exist.  Planning a wedding can turn into what seems like a full time job!  There is a common misconception with brides that wedding planners take all the fun out of wedding planning.  You have been dreaming of your wedding for months (yeah right… more like years!) and you want to experience the whole process of planning.  You might think that hiring a wedding planner will take away from your planning experience.  I mean, the last thing you want is someone bossing you around and making decisions about YOUR wedding right?

My number one piece of advice for brides:  Hire a wedding planner. Even if you don’t hire a wedding planner… AT LEAST set up a consultation and talk with a planner in the early stages.  Most planners will offer different options and will be willing to sit down with you and discuss your vision, and give you some ideas about what they can do to help you, even if you don’t hire them for the whole planning process.  Over the years after attending well over 100 weddings, I’ve always noticed brides with wedding planners are the happiest!

Speaking of that… let me tell you about one of my favorite wedding planners in Columbia, SC… Meagan Warren!

I’ve worked with Meagan at several weddings, and have always been impressed with her work!  She is young and up to date on all the current wedding trends, and she loves incorporating personality and details into weddings!  Read more about her on her website here.  I asked Meagan to share her top 10 tips for newly engaged brides-to-be, and she wrote up an awesome list!

  • Always start with a budget – it’s the most important item to keep you organized as well as getting you started on whom to contact for vendors!
  • Anything goes nowadays… grooms don’t have to wear black, vows do not have to be traditional, you don’t have to cut a cake… be creative.

  • Videography – this is the first item to get cut or the last item to get added. Hiring a videographer is definitely worth it. You’ll be able to look back at your video and photographs and remember every second of your wedding day. There are so many things that happen and you just don’t get a chance to see them all!
  • Don’t invite everyone you know to your wedding. If a person hasn’t gone out of their way to contact you and say hello in the past 6 months to a year… cut them from the list. You only want your closest friends and family members.
  • Add little details to your day to make it extra special… whether it’s your grandmother’s veil on the cake table, Krispy Kreme doughnuts substituted for a wedding cake (if that’s your favorite food on earth!), or the groom carrying something that belonged to his father or grandfather for good luck. It’s all in the details…

  • Sometimes simpler is better.
  • As the bride and groom, try to enjoy your wedding day and not be stressed. Let the wedding planner stress for you… and if you can’t afford to pay for help, recruit an aunt, cousin or friend to orchestrate the logistics and be the ‘point-person’ on the wedding day for all vendors. The bride (or groom) doesn’t need to be getting phone calls from the band or caterer!

  • For inspiration, start with your favorite color, a beautiful painting, a favored food, a chosen hobby, a vintage cocktail, or a collectible found in an antique store.
  • From the first save-the-date to the last placecard, all of these pieces need to be consistent. Make sure you keep with the same font, color palette, textures, design, etc.
  • It will all come together! Try not to stress over the little details, in the end – your day will be absolutely beautiful and memorable no matter what happens. So sit back, relax and try to enjoy every second as you and your groom become man and wife!

Now thats some awesome advice!  Don’t you already want to sit down and talk with Meagan about your wedding 😉

I also thought I’d incorporate some of my own wedding advice into this post, so here are a few tips from a photographers point of view!

  • Plan ahead.  Venues and photographers are almost always the first thing to book up, sometimes over a year in advance!
  • Schedule PLENTY of time for everything.  The whole days is yours, so feel free to take your time and plan EXTRA time for everything.  That way you don’t have to stress about being late.
  • Consider the light.  So many people don’t take light into consideration for their wedding.  Of course everyone wants a beautiful wedding and beautiful photos, and what really makes that happen is having perfect lighting.  If you are getting married in a church, have someone who knows what they are doing adjust the lights for you (consult your photographer too!).   If you are getting married outside, the time of day and direction you are facing make a HUGE difference in how your photos turn out.  At your reception, consider having special lighting set up by a professional.  If in doubt, ask your photographer, who should be a student of light since photography literally means “the science of light.”

  • Make sure to consider all your guests.  So many people tell me it is important to get photos of the people at their wedding.  I totally agree.  However, I don’t usually take photos of people eating, or standing around talking.  Make sure there is something for everyone to do to feel involved.  Talk to your DJ to make sure there is music for all age groups.  Consider having a photo booth to let your guests have some fun and have their photos made.
  • Try to get ready in a room that isn’t cluttered.  Avoid nurserys, bathrooms, and very small rooms if you have the choice.  Hotel rooms are much better for getting ready than church classrooms.

  • Be inspired!  Check out pinterest (here is a board to get you started), bridal shows, Wedding 101, and wedding blogs.  These will give you ideas you may have never considered.
  • Talk to recent brides.  Ask them if they would do anything different.  Ask them what they loved most about their wedding.

I’m sure there is more, and I’ll try to update the blog as new thoughts come up!  Just remember… your wedding is all about you!  Make sure you take time to enjoy the day and don’t spend all your time worrying about making other people happy.

Don’t forget why you are having a wedding in the first place!  To celebrate your marriage and your love for one another!  Happy Planning!

Are you a recent bride, a wedding planner or wedding vendor?  What tips would you give to newly engaged couples planning a wedding?  Leave a comment below if you have a great tip!

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