Planning

Hiring a Wedding Planner: Pros and Cons

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Wedding PlannerThere are a lot of moving parts that have to come together to make a perfect wedding day. You’re planning a ceremony and a party at the same time, both of which come with their own sets of challenges. How do you know you’re not overpaying for the venue? Do you really need those chair covers? How big of a cake do you actually need for the number of guests you have? Before you spend hours sifting through Yelp reviews of florists, or Googling “wedding day venue last minute,” you might want to secure the services of a professional. Here are a few things to consider when you think about hiring a wedding planner:

Pro: Experience

If you’re getting married for the first time, you haven’t had any experience planning a wedding. You don’t know which vendors to use and which to avoid; you don’t know what complications commonly arise; you don’t know the exact temperature at which a beautiful buttercream cake becomes a puddle of goo. That’s where the wedding planner comes in. If you choose your planner carefully, he or she will be better at planning than you are just by virtue of having done it many times before.

Con: Expense

Full service wedding planning doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay $2000-$5000 for the services of an experienced wedding planner. Wedding planners often get discounts from vendors, so you might save a little money on flowers, cake and the like, but don’t expect to save enough to cover the fee. It just depends on whether the peace of mind is worth the added cost.

Pro: You can outsource a lot of stress

When you have a wedding planner, any problem that arises during the planning on up to the ceremony is not, at least first and foremost, your problem. The wedding planner is a buffer between you and the chaos of putting the event together. It’s the planner’s job to make sure the flowers are arranged properly and the flower girl has her flower basket; all you have to do is show up and enjoy the day.

Con: Less Control

A wedding planner’s professional reputation rides on how good your wedding looks and how smoothly it proceeds. Odds are they’ll have strong opinions about decorations, colors, flowers–they’ll want to bring their experience to bear on every aspect of the wedding, which means you might have to fight for something if you don’t see eye-to-eye. If you need to be in control of every aspect of the process, a wedding planner might not be right for you.

Considerations: Choosing a Planner

Once you’ve decided you need a wedding planner, you should take the same care in choosing one that you would for any other vendor. Check reviews, get recommendations from friends, and when you sit down with a potential person, ask questions. Here are a few things you’ll want to ask:

  1. What are your fees?
  2. Do you receive commissions from any vendors, and if so, how much?
  3. When will payment be due to vendors, and who needs to sign the contracts?
  4. Will you be present through the entire festivities, or just the ceremony?

Wedding planning can be a logistical nightmare. If it were easy to do, there would be no such thing as a full-time wedding planner. If your budget and temperament allow, it’s definitely a good idea to look into hiring a wedding planner to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Two Weeks to the Wedding Day

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Wedding CountdownWith the clock ticking down and your bid day closing in, it can be very easy to have your stress levels soar. No matter how well you’ve planned your wedding and poured over each detail, you will likely find yourself double and triple checking everything up until you walk down the aisle. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of sleepless nights and added stress that won’t make your wedding day any more enjoyable, not to mention that you run the risk of looking tired or stressed out on your big day. The good news is that there are some techniques you can use to alleviate that stress and enter your wedding day with a relaxed attitude, and here are some of those things that you can do with very little effort.

Create a List

One of the simplest ways to stay on top of everything and keep your stress in check is to create a very comprehensive list of tasks that need to be completed leading up to your wedding. As you go down the list and cross things off, make sure you don’t revisit them. Sure, there are things that will need to be done at the last minute; but obsessing over details that are already taken care of can add unwanted stress and take time away from taking care of other tasks.

Assign Jobs

One of the easiest mistakes to make when you are a bride is to try to do everything yourself. Never forget that you have assembled a great team of bridesmaids that can help you with these tasks and make sure you assign jobs to each of them. Additionally, you’re friends and family will likely be more than happy to help out as well, so make sure you tap all the available resources and move as much responsibility as possible off of your own plate and onto others’.

Handle the Formalities

Whether you’re talking about changing your name or filing your marriage certificate, make sure you have your ducks in a row before your big day. There’s nothing worse after scrambling to pull off a great wedding than to move right to the next challenge, so making this stuff easy on you is always a great plan. Personally, I chose to sign the marriage certificate the night before the wedding ceremony to take some of the stress off on my big day, but that choice certainly isn’t for everyone.

Incoming Guests

Most weddings will have several guests that are traveling in from other states. If you wait until the last minute to plan for their arrival, this can create a whole new set of problems and challenges that can detract from other priorities. Make sure you have everything setup in advance such as accommodations and activities so you’re not scrambling to take care of them at the last second.

Final Counts

Make sure you get an accurate tally of all the confirmed guests and give that number to your caterer. The last thing you want to have happen is to run out of food or cake during the reception, so make sure you have a good final head count to give to the caterer.

Guest Seating

Though you would ideally have this done well in advance, chances are there will be some last minute additions and subtractions with your guest list that will require you to change some seating arrangements. If seats open up at the most important tables where parents, grandparents, and other close family will be sitting, make sure you fill them in with the next logical choice and work backwards from there.

The last two weeks before your wedding are always a little hectic and stressful, but that doesn’t mean you need to enter your wedding day exhausted and grumpy. By following some of these pieces of advice and making sure you have everything planned out in advance, you can have a relaxing wedding day that goes off without a hitch.

Including Your Father in the Wedding Planning

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Father of the BrideDepending on what type of family you come from, including your father in the wedding planning can either be a great idea or the worst idea ever. The biggest problem is that your dad, being a guy, can’t see the wedding through the eyes of a woman; which is incredibly important if you want to get things right. It isn’t his fault, though, and he of course wants to help, so what are you supposed to do to get him involved in a way that makes him feel useful and doesn’t sabotage what you’re trying to achieve? Fortunately, you’re not alone in this quest because many other brides have had to figure this situation out too. Here are some tips to help with including your father in the wedding planning process that will make it fun for everyone.

In Charge of the Spreadsheet

We all know the old saying “I choose the channel, but I let your father hold the remote”, right? Well this is pretty much the same thing with your wedding planning. Let him be in charge of the spreadsheet of things that you need to get done for the wedding. As you get each thing done, he removes it from the list. As something new comes up, he adds it to the list. It may sound silly, but this will make your father feel like he’s contributing while staying out of the way of the actual planning duties. As a bonus, it’s one less thing that you have to keep track of and manage yourself.

Cater to His Strengths

Another idea to get him involved in the planning is to find out what he does well and let him go at it! If your father is a gardener, let him grow fresh flowers for your wedding. If he likes to bake, let him make cupcakes for your bridal shower. Whatever it is that he happens to be good at and enjoy, try to find a place for it in the wedding and everyone will be happy.

Quality Control

If your dad is anything like mine, and I’m sure he is, he likes to read endless reviews online and thoroughly check every detail about something before he buys. Men are very meticulous when it comes to making a purchase, and usually they will mull it over for a lot longer than a woman (at least in my case; I’m very compulsive!). So, you can put that trait to good use by having him scrutinize your potential wedding vendors. By putting him in charge of this task, he will feel that it is his “mission” to pick the best possible wedding vendors so nothing goes wrong on your big day. Not only does this mean he’ll have an important job to do for the wedding planning process, but your chances of having a drama-free wedding day will greatly improve.

Father/Bride Moments

Lastly, make sure you remind him of how much you’re looking forward to the different things you share with him on your wedding day. Discuss the traditional things such as the father/daughter dance and him walking you down the aisle and his face will light up like a light bulb. Also, it’s important to remember that he will be a very proud, and possibly goofy, man on your wedding day, so try to just let your dad be dad. With a little effort and a little patience, including your father in the wedding planning process can be both fun and rewarding for everyone.

Plan Your Wedding in Less than 6 Months

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6 MonthsThough the conditions may not seem ideal, planning your wedding on very short notice doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the quality of the event. There are a variety of reasons that planning your wedding in less than 6 months may be necessary such as a pregnancy, an ill grandparent, or even the bride or groom being deployed for military service. Regardless of the reasons that you are in a big rush to plan your wedding, there are some things you can do to maximize your time and come out looking like you spent years figuring out all the details. Breathe deep and settle in, because planning your wedding is full of unexpected treats; especially on short notice.

Hit the Ground Running

A traditional period of time to plan a wedding is at least a year before the big day, so you have some catching up to do if you want everything perfect in just 6 months. The good news is that couples (especially the bride) are the most motivated when the planning process begins because they aren’t fatigued from staring at dresses and paper doilies for months on end. That’s why it is so important to hit the ground running with your wedding planning, especially the first month. Try to cram as much of your planning into the first month as possible so you can hopefully slow down and plan at the normal speed when you get into the second month.

Be Open to Ideas

One of the best ways to get ahead when you already start out behind planning your wedding is to be open to ideas and think outside the box. Being stubborn can sometimes get you exactly what you want, but it can often lead additional stress and the constant feeling that there’s still more to do; especially planning your wedding. For instance, you may not have considered a beach wedding, but the opportunity presents itself; you should consider embracing the concept. Maybe your first choice of reception hall is booked out but another one that is comparable is available; don’t be picky and get it booked. By staying flexible and not stressing about the details too much, you can get your wedding booked quickly and turn it into your dream wedding with enough time to make it your own.

Recruit Helpers

Many brides think they are Supergirl and can do everything themselves, but this is a tall order under normal circumstances; much less when planning your wedding in less than 6 months! Set aside your ego and ask for help from the bridal party and your parents. They are more than likely going to be very excited about helping, and you may find that having outside ideas can actually make the planning process better. You will find things that you never would have thought of otherwise if you open your wedding planning to the people around you who care most, so attempt to embrace their help rather than fight for having everything your way. The less that is on your plate, the more focus you can put into the things that are and make your wedding the best it can possibly be.

Unique Ways to Personalize Your Wedding

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Muscle Wedding CarPlanning your wedding is a very personal experience, so finding unique ways to express who you are as a couple is very important. Every element from the music to the decorations is a great opportunity to personalize your wedding, so it is very important to take advantage of every part. With everything you need to do to plan your wedding, it can seem a little overwhelming trying to find ways to make it more personal, but its really not to difficult with some planning. Here are some tips to help you find unique ways to personalize your wedding without making things too stressful or expensive.

Invitations

When you put together your invitations, try to find a way that makes them more personal to you as a couples. A good idea is to include a small card that explains the story of how you met or some of the dreams you share together. You can also choose graphics that your friends and family will recognize as being inherently “you”.

Menu

The food you serve is a fun and easy way to personalize your wedding reception. Think of a dish that really sums up who you are as a couple or that everyone knows is your favorite. You can also do the same with the appetizers and wedding cake if you’re feeling up to the challenge.

Transportation

Rather than going with the traditional limo for your wedding car, you can think outside the box and choose something that really illustrates your personal style. If you are a big fun of pickup trucks, you could rent a big-tired mudding truck. If you really love classic cars, you could rent an American muscle car with all the power you could dream of under the hood. What ever strikes your fancy, you can use it to personalize your wedding even further.

Pictures

Pictures can tell the story of your romance better than almost anything else, so why not frame some up and set them around your reception hall? Your guests will love the personal touch that candid photos will provide, plus they will act as a great conversation piece. Another hidden benefit of putting lots of photos around at your reception is that it will save on decorating costs while still being romantic and fun.

Formal Wear

Your wedding dress and tuxedo will be some of the most visual examples of who you are, so make sure you choose items that express who you are in great detail. A popular way to do this is to choose a specific historical time period that you both enjoy such as the renaissance period or the roaring twenties and model your outfits accordingly. Don’t be afraid to personalize every part of your wedding and make the day as unique as possible because you will probably only get one wedding day.

Planning a Military Wedding

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Military WeddingWeddings are a very special and memorable day in general, but this is even more true when it is a military wedding. The service men and women who have sacrificed their time and effort for the betterment of our country are even more deserving of a perfect wedding day, so planning out every detail correctly has never been more important. It is important to keep in mind when planning a military wedding that there are many things that are unique and special to a military wedding that you won’t find in any other type of celebration. While this does not necessarily mean it will be more difficult to plan, it can mean that you need to take certain things into consideration. Below, we will cover a few of the things that set a military wedding apart for an ordinary wedding to help you plan everything accordingly.

How Formal?

Just because someone is in the military doesn’t mean it needs to be overly formal. On the other hand, some members of the military are very proud of their service and their uniform represents their commitment. Whether or not you want a formal military wedding or something more casual is completely a personal choice, but determining the answer early will help you with planning the other aspects of the celebration. Most of the other elements will hinge completely on how formal the event is going to be, so it should be one of the first things you decide.

Seating

Seating at a military wedding is a very important thing to consider. If you are having generals, admirals, or another type of high ranking officer at your wedding, they should be seated accordingly based on their rank near the head table. The proper arrangement for their seating can be tricky depending on what branch of the military they are part of, so you should do your research to get it right. If you have non-commissioned officers in attendance of the same rank, they should be seated along with the commissioned officers.

Saber Arch

The saber arch is a really unique part of a military wedding that is also very specific to the branch of the military. The Navy has a saber arch that happens right after the blessing, and the Army and Air Force have optional saber arch ceremonies of their own. The arch usually starts as the couple exits the church and heads down the stairs. As the couple moves through the different series of sabers, they drop behind them. When they get to the end of the arch and the final sabers have dropped, the couple is supposed to kiss and they continue on to the reception hall.