Frequently asked questions
How can I save time planning my event?
Time can be a benefit or a burden when it comes to planning your special day. If possible, start planning your wedding at least 1 year in advance by securing your necessities such as the venue and vendors. Keep in mind that the best professional’s book at least a year to 9 months in advance so get started early to get the best selection. Not every detail needs to be agreed upon prior to selecting your necessities. Knowing the date and approximate times of your event is a great starting point to get basic pricing.
TIP: Most couples think that the date is priority #1. In some cases, it is sentimental, so that would hold true. But if your heart is set on a location (venue), you may want to rethink that theory. Contact the venue first and request the dates available as far in advance as possible. Then secure a date that works for you and reduce your stress from the start.
How do I decide on a venue?
Almost all venues work on a first come - first served basis, so deciding on rustic, modern, industrial, etc. is key to having the most choices for your special day. Then you need to determine if you are having your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception at the same location. In most cases, venues offer to handle all three events which reduces your stress and allows your guest to travel to one location versus two or more when having the ceremony at a separate venue.
TIP: Most venues capitalize on the main wedding day of the week, which is Saturday, so be prepared to pay more if Saturday is the only option for you. If you are flexible or watching your budget, making Friday or Sunday a possibility could save you thousands of dollars. Always ask the venue if they offer discounts for off season or non-peak days of the week.
What do I do if the venue I want my event is booked for my special day?
There are more and more alternative venues popping up in the area such as lakeside locations, banquet facilities, state or township buildings. Most locations will allow you to have tents erected in most outdoor areas in case of inclement weather. Contact your state or township parks & recreation bureau and ask if they have locations available for weddings. Most of these options are very scenic and quite affordable compared the obvious choices.
TIP: Keep in mind that most, if not all these alternatives are not found in the major wedding publications, so you must do your homework to get the best deals. Most state and township parks offer facilities at a reduced rate but have limitations. Ask specific questions such as, is alcohol allowed, is there a noise ordinance, what are the hours of operation & can we set up tents....
Do you have a Plan B?
If you are planning for any part of your wedding to be outdoors, always, always have a Plan B. If an outdoor ceremony is what you are seeking, find out from the venue if they have options for inclement weather. Depending on the time of year, plan b could be as simple as having a tent erected to protect guest from direct sunlight or the occasional sprinkle. Most tent companies offer side curtains that can be opened to allow a nice breeze or fresh air but can be closed to avoid shear rain or chilly temps in the early spring or fall. If the entire event is to be outside, then factor into the budget the use of a tent or tents to reduce the amount of stress if the weather forecast doesn’t look so bright.
TIP: An outdoor ceremony is one of the most sought after events for a wedding. It is also one of the easiest to postpone if a slight chance of rain is forecasted. Unlike the reception which can be up to 6 hours long, the ceremony is usually 1 hour including the prelude (guest seating time). Most venues allow for guest to relax in the reception area until the shower passes. Then wipe off the chairs and start the music...
How do I pick the proper professionals?
Once you have your date and venue chosen it’s now time to pick your pros. Settle on the start and a tentative completion time of each of your events for your special day. Then you are ready to start the selection process. If possible, allow for some flexibility in the budget if you choose to use the local wedding publications or websites to assist in your search.
Always remember that vendors pay a hefty fee to advertise with these outfits and the money must come from somewhere. Ask plenty of questions when screening your vendors so you can determine if the vendor truly has your best interest in mind or is feeding you a “sales pitch” hoping you will say yes.
TIP: Experience matters but working well with others is paramount to a successful special say. Example: Your DJ of choice should be open and willing to assist in the coordination of the event. When done properly, each vendor works hand-in-hand with the other professionals to produce the best results for their client.
How to create an agenda vs. timeline?
When it comes to a successful event, having a flexible agenda vs a strict timeline reduces the “day-of” stress for all involved. For instance, the caterer needs to know when the approximate time for service is so they can have the food ready to serve. Your photographer is looking to catch the perfect sunset photo of you and your spouse. So, planning your day with built in flexibility is imperative to its success. It is not uncommon for photos to take a little longer as the photographer has one chance to get the perfect shot. So, allow for some breathing room and concentrate on the flow of the event rather than each minute.
TIP: Your DJ should be well versed in the Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) portion of his/her profession. Focusing on the flow of your event and making sure that all professionals are aware of the upcoming formalities is key.
Example: Making sure the parents and the guest of honor are present and ready for the special dances at least 5-10 minutes prior and updating the photographer so they are ready as well.
What to do if I want to serve alcohol at my event?
This is always a touchy subject when planning your event. Most guest are quite responsible about their alcohol intake and will pace themselves so they can enjoy the event. But we all know a few folks that don’t quite follow the rules. If there is to be alcohol at your occasion, keep in mind that you and your spouse are the responsible persons should something happen. Limiting the amount of, or the time for service are just two ways of increasing the success of your event. It is common to have an open bar for a set amount of me, then switch to a Cash Bar to help reduce the stress associated with this portion of your event. Some venues offer “drink tickets” to assist in this process as well as closing the bar during the introductions, dinner and special dancing portion of the event.
TIP: The trend now is to have your event earlier in the day along with extremely limited amounts of alcohol if any. Then once the event is over, having a limousine (bus) take you and your selected guest on a tour of the local establishments for an afterparty. This saves you $$$ plus in most cases your guest then winds up buying your drinks for the remainder of the night. It’s a Win Win...
How should I plan the flow of my event?
Understanding the “flow” of your event will determine its success. Years ago, it was common to break up the festivities throughout the event, but that created disruption in the flow and caused many guests to miss out on certain portions of the event. In the last few years, more and more professionals are grasping the idea of concentrating the formalities around the dinner hour to assure that the guest stay focused and involved. Consider this, the dinner portion of your event is when everyone comes together to enjoy the meal. This is the perfect time to keep their attention and save time in the process. If you chose the typical 4-hour reception, then prepare for the dinner to consume at least 1 hour of that time. Then add in your introductions, first dance, parents’ dances and any other formality, and you start to realize that time can get away from you rather quickly.
TIP: Limiting the amount of toast/speeches at your event is one of many ways to regain some time. Cake cutting should be placed about 3/4’s of the way through the dinner hour so that the cake is cut and ready for dessert when the guest finish their meals. Once the dance floor is open, it is best to keep the excitement going by reducing the need to stop the party for “another formality”.
How to plan for kids at your big day?
Weddings are considered a family event. This means that most weddings will have children attending and enjoying the festivities. Make sure the venue has age appropriate seating for the little ones such as highchairs and booster seats. In most cases, your caterer has child friendly foods that can be offered at a reduced cost. Kids love to dance so maybe allow your DJ to play a few well-known songs for the kids during dinner to keep them occupied so that the parents can enjoy the meal.
TIP: Even though this may sound like a great idea at first, avoid placing all the children together at one table. When left unsupervised or with parent supervision, children unknowingly can get rather rowdy and create unforeseen stress. In most cases, keeping the child at the parent table with maybe a few attention getters like coloring books could avoid a possible parental meltdown.
How do I entertain all of my party guests?
At almost all weddings there seems to be 3 types of guest. Type 1 is the happy-go-lucky that just needs the beat of the music and they are having a great time. Then there is type 2 which can be quite shy and usually needs some “liquid encouragement” to join the dance floor. Finally, type 3 are the folks still sitting while the others are having a great time on the dance floor. So that all guest can feel a part of the event, consider having additional entertainment such as a photo booth can enhance the guest experience and allow for all to enjoy the day.
TIP: When choosing a photo booth, make sure to consider an “open air” type to allow for the maximum amount of fun. Most “box style” only allow a few guests in each photo vs up to 15 people in an open-air type. Take advantage of the new digital upload package that sends the photo via text or email. Choose a booth with lots of smile educing props to increase the fun....