10 Crazy Amazing Wedding Gifts (And Where To Get Them)

As a wedding planner, I am always asked about wedding gifts. The bride wants to know something crazy amazing to get her groom. The groom wants to know what to get that isn’t jewelry. They both want to know what to get their wedding party and their parents. A lot of my couples start this search early because leaving it to the last minute is like leaving holiday shopping to Christmas Eve, which everyone hates. Well if you’re looking for such a gift, check out the list below of 10 crazy amazing wedding gifts and where to get them!

Check out these 10 crazy amazing wedding gifts and where to get them in our blog right now! Perfect ideas for brides and grooms looking for a unique way to surprise each other, their wedding party and their parents.

My couples know that when they work with me as their wedding planner, they have access to all of the advice they need. As their planner, they can trust the advice that I give them because it stems from real experience. The amount of surprise gifts I have helped plan with my brides and grooms is more than you could ever guess. 

Amazon is Amazing for Wedding Gifts

I am a firm believer in the art of gift giving and taking the time to find something amazing. Whether it’s the couple buying something for each other, gifts for the wedding party or their parents, it’s a way to say “thank you” to these people. But what can you buy that isn’t some version of something you’ve already bought before?

Amazon is the website that has it all. Seriously. Like, everything is there and yet none of my couples consider this resource (until I tell them). They even have those wedding gifts that are on a totally different level like…

1. Rolex for Him

Everyone knows that a watch is the classic gift for a bride to give her groom. Of course, if you’re me, your husband doesn’t wear a watch because “Why should I wear a watch when I have a cell phone?” So, this wasn’t something that I could’ve considered and if you’re in the same boat, there are other options in this list, don’t you worry. 

If you know the groom will love a watch as a wedding gift, but you don’t know how to compete with his already massive collection, this is your answer. First off, it’s a Rolex, and even those groom’s that already own a Rolex will want another one. Second, it’s likely to be different than anything else he already has, and a watch collector always appreciates diversity. This amazing wedding gift is one of a kind and will remind him that you are too.

2. Rolex for Her

If you’re that couple that first bonded over your love of watches, then obviously the perfect wedding gift is a watch. For the bride I am obsessed with this Rolex and the details like that pink dial.

This watch is perfect for any bride, whether or not she is a collector. It’s a classic piece that she can wear everywhere from the mall to the first wedding you attend as a married couple. What truly makes this an amazing wedding gift is that she can wear it everyday, which means she’ll be thinking of you just as much.

3. Personalized Frame for Mom and Dad

There is a reason that many of the most popular wedding gifts involve some level of personalizing. It shows time and thought went into the purchase of the gift and it also means that no one else has exactly that gift. Total home run for parents of the bride and groom, trust me.

This wedding gift can be given to mom and dad before the wedding or after as a birthday or holiday gift. If given before, you can include photos from a special day you had together. After the wedding, this can be given as a little extra thank you with your professional wedding photos that you know they want to display at their home. 

4. Tried and True Wedding Gift: Those Hangers

If you haven’t been in a wedding party and been given one these hangers, I know you have seen them before. Maybe on Pinterest, maybe in someone else’s wedding photos, but you have seen them. 

This wedding gift is a trend that I have loved as a wedding planner since the day it became “a thing”. The bridesmaids all need a hanger for their dresses and gifting them these hangers with their names is a beautiful sentiment. Bonus? They look great in photos, unlike whatever random hanger your girls bring on the day of. 

5. The Tote Every Bridesmaid Needs

Let’s be honest, ladies stuff their purses with plenty of stuff daily. This means on the wedding day, when they can’t fit everything into their dress pockets or itsy bitsy clutch, they will need something to hold their stuff

I always loved the idea of the bride presenting a few small gifts to her bridesmaids instead of one big ticket item. It’s a more thoughtful wedding gift when there are a few small items like this tote. If you’re the bride that wants to select the necklaces that your bridesmaids wear, you can even use this tote to act as the packaging. Surprise! More stuff!

6. Shave and a Haircut

Assuming the groomsmen have been in a wedding before, or are over the age of 21, it’s safe to assume they all have flasks already. Even if they don’t, unless you have some weird concealed alcohol bond with your guys, a flask is a wedding gift that is done and over.

This shaving kit is such an awesome wedding gift for your groomsmen and even the father of the groom and father of the bride. On the day of the wedding, while the ladies spend 17 hours getting ready, I recommend to my groom that he takes the men in the group for traditional shaves and haircuts. It always results in great pictures and amazing memories. This is the perfect wedding gift whether or not you decide to hit up the barbershop on the wedding day, and one your guys will appreciate.

7. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

Jewelry is the number one wedding gift from a groom to his bride, but after the hardship of selecting the perfect engagement ring, most grooms are done. No matter what your bride wears, if that engagement ring is a diamond, you can bet she’ll wear that same stone in her ears too.

The grooms I work with all want a piece of jewelry that their bride can wear down the aisle. Common concerns? That she won’t like it and then won’t wear it (or will wear it and be miserable). Grooms also worry that their jewelry wedding gift won’t work with the gown, or that the something borrowed will be worn instead. Diamond earrings are classic, so they go with any gown…just check in with mom to make sure you’re not competing with her wedding gift.

8. Spahhhhhh

Being a bride can be stressful, but being a bridesmaid can make any girl lose her mind. Between attending vendor appointments with the bride to paying more than they thought for the dress and that bachelorette party in Miami you just had to have, it’s not always easy being part of the squad.

Let your ladies know that you appreciate their efforts and you recognize things weren’t always easy with this super cute Revel and Glow wedding gift. It comes with fun bath bombs and anti-wrinkle under eye masks for those tired eyes. This product can check off boxes in the organic, natural and vegan categories too, which means it’s not just an amazing wedding gift, but a really thoughtful one too.

9. Tears of Joy

The one item that I have to replace in my emergency kit after every wedding are the tissues. While the bride and groom might cry, it’s the parents of the couple that tend to shed the most tears. Show how much you know your parents and present them with something they can hold onto all night to wipe away their tears of joy.

You can use the words provided, or you can use your own to be printed on this personalized handkerchief. It’s the perfect accessory for a parent of the bride or the groom, and something they will cherish long after the big day is over.

10. For the Romantic Marriage Ahead

When the wedding is over and the honeymoon has ended, many couples go through a stage of sadness as their is suddenly nothing left to plan. If you spent the better part of a year (or longer) planning your 5 hour party, there’s always a let down when it all comes to an end. This is why I love wedding gifts that can be used for your future.

This picnic bag is the perfect wedding gift for a bride to give her groom or vice versa. Complete with a wine bottle holder, plates, utensils and even a blanket to sit on, this bag has everything for the newlywed couple and the couple going on 20 years. Every time you use it, you’ll think back to your wedding day and be able to look back on how far you have come as a couple. 

What wedding gifts are you planning to give? I’d love to hear what creative ideas you all have so be sure to share in the comment section below!

 

Why You Totally Need an Engagement Photo Session

If you’ve ever been invited to a wedding, at some point in the process you probably received a “Save the Date” card in the mail. That card is sent out before the invitations, roughly 6-8 months prior to the wedding date. Many couples choose to be informal and use one of their engagement photos for the background along with general wedding details. But that’s not the only reason why you totally need an engagement photo session prior to your wedding…

Wedding Planner Tip: It's super important to schedule an engagement session with your photographer before the wedding. Read our blog to hear why this needs to be on your to-do list and get inspiration for your own photos!

**Please note there are affiliate links within this blog post which means I may receive a small percentage of the price at no additional cost to you. No worries though, as I never endorse anything I don’t absolutely love**

As a wedding planner, I am always encouraging my couples to schedule an engagement session with their wedding photographer. Besides the fact that you’ll receive great photos of the two of you, there are multiple other benefits to consider. There are also things to consider as well as some misconceptions that I am going to share in this blog. If you are engaged and on the fence about setting up an engagement session, not sure about the details or just totally clueless, then read on!

How To Create Your Wedding Day Guest List

As a wedding planner, I have personally witnessed couples lose their minds so much that eloping sounded like the best idea ever. These meltdows didn’t happen while looking for a venue or the perfect wedding gown though. In fact, that hard stuff is really nothing compared to the endless hours it takes most couples to figure out how to create their wedding day guest list.

Determining a guest list for a wedding is one of the more annoying tasks in life. It’s right up there with filing your taxes and getting your passport renewed. You’d think it would be easy since it’s simply listing people you want to spend time with. But it’s so much more than that.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Timothy Glenn Photography

There are plenty of charts and guides to help you decide which people make the cut, but it’s not just about inviting someone because they invited you to their wedding. Regardless of your invite rules, there will always be exceptions to juggle.  Combine that with the people your parents would like to are making you invite, and pretty soon it’s a three ring circus.

But you can avoid flying through the air without a net by eliminating the guests with toxic behavioral traits. In my most recent YouTube vlog seen here, I talk about these guests, so make sure you check that out. Identifying people you know with these horrible traits (and not inviting them) is how to create your guest list for your wedding day. Sadly, sometimes that won’t be possible…

Below are the 10 types of people not to invite to your wedding, and what to do if they show up anyway (because sometimes that happens):

1. The Thunder Stealer

You probably already know the exact person in your life that would not think twice about making your wedding day about them. These are the guests that think nothing of proposing during your reception or taking a pregnancy test in the bathroom and asking your MC to announce the results. Maybe this doesn’t make your skin crawl, but I personally think it’s tacky and would’ve gone full on linebacker had this happened at my own wedding.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

While it might not be possible to keep this person off the invite list, you should make sure they aren’t in your wedding party. Nothing makes taking the spotlight away easier than standing next to the people who are in it all day. Assuming they are just a guest, make sure it’s known how you feel about those “bouquet and garter tosses turn wedding proposal” videos you’ve seen.

Then take it one step further and instruct whomever controls the microphone to not allow anyone to use it except for those you know about. In advance.

Oh you’re pregnant? Sorry, can’t hear you.

2. The Guest That Wants You To Fix Everything

This helpless soul makes you wonder how they survive getting through the day. Prior to the wedding, they might ask how they should get a hotel room when the block is full. Meanwhile, it’s full because they procrastinated and missed the cutoff date. During the wedding they could expect you to fix everything from an incorrect food order to your sister’s attitude problem.

There are several ways to prevent having to hold this person’s hand while simultaneously planning and/or enjoying (God Forbid) your wedding day. In the instance of a hotel block, make sure that your RSVP date coincides with the date that the hotel rooms will be released. You can read more about how to do that here in my wedding planning timeline blog.

From not securing their hotel room in the block you set up, to expecting you to handle their super specific vegan, gluten-free, no carbs entrée request, there is nothing they will not ask of you. This is why you make sure that they ask someone else. Discuss, in advance, whom is responsible for handling Aunt Sally’s complaints about everything under the sun.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

3. The Photographer

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how wedding guests lose all common sense when it comes to taking pictures at a wedding. I have seen wedding guests turn into Stretch Armstrong and reach across an aisle to take the picture of the couple’s first kiss. Meanwhile, they completely blocked the photographer and now he doesn’t have one of the shots you really wanted.

Thanks Aunt Sally.

It’s impossible to keep these people off your invite list (because it’s everybody), but you can take preventative measures. Consider having an “unplugged” wedding, where guests are asked to not take pictures. If that is too extreme, you should at least do this for your ceremony. You can guide your guests with signage, notes in the program and even announcements made by your officiant and MC.

[tweetshare tweet=”Most importantly, communicate to your guests that no pictures are to be posted onto social media until you and your spouse want them to be.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]This can mean no posting until the reception as long as they use your hashtag, to nothing posted until you get your professional photos back. Guests should respect your wishes here, but they need to know what those wishes are.

4. The Illiterate RSVPer

Somehow, sending back the RSVP card is basically the absolute hardest thing in the world for some people. When you create your guest list, this is a personality that will be tough to avoid. In fact, you probably can already guess which people will fail at RSVPing correctly. Now add 10 more people to that list to even come close to being accurate.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Justin Tinapay Photography

I have seen cards come back without names on them, with additional guests added (up to 5), questions handwritten to the couple and just missing information in general. Everytime I see a response card come back late and/or with missing and/or incorrect information, I am reminded why certain warning labels exist.

Be sure to develop a wedding website where guests can constantly access information and put the web address on your Save The Dates. The invitations should have all of the information needed but be designed in a way that is easy to read. If you’re having a black tie wedding without children, putting that in fine print buried under calligraphy is a great way to get people showing up in jeans with their little ones in tow.

Once you receive the responses, both the late ones and ones missing information, reach out to those people immediately. One week prior to your RSVP date, call every single person that you don’t have a response from yet. You’ll get the inevitable “but the RSVP date isn’t until….” nonsense, but you can’t wait until then to call so just ignore it.

5. The Passive Aggressive Guest

Maybe it’s just me, but nothing makes my head explode more than someone being passive aggressive. I’m a super direct person and it’s challenging to call these people out since their response is frequently “I didn’t mean it like that”.

When you know they did.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

A passive aggressive wedding guest will express themselves during your wedding planning by using words like “interesting” to describe your venue, your dress, your everthing. It’s not a negative comment but it’s also not positive and needs to exit stage left from your guest list.

When they aren’t commenting on how interesting everything is, they are side-stepping you by calling your mom to confide in her about how your lack of a “plus one” option has hurt their feelings. They always make sure to preface everything with “don’t tell” while full knowing that it will be told to you. Which, of course, wasn’t their intention…except it was.

If you can’t leave this person off the guest list, you have two options about how to deal with them. You can choose to appease them in their requests delivered third hand through your mom and just let it roll off your back. However, if you know this will start bothering you, anticipate the behavior and let mom (or whomever) know that you expect them to diffuse the situation and not take it you. It is very important that you have a support system while planning your wedding, so ask for one.

6. The Competitor

Know someone that just got married? Do they consider themselves a wedding expert? Are they always reminding you how fabulous their wedding was? Leave them off your wedding guest list.

Look, it’s fine to look back on your wedding day and how perfect it was. However, recent brides (and even some grooms) can take it to Level 11 by giving you a steady stream of unsolicited advice and then backing it up with evidence from their own flawless wedding day. If you’re able to roll your eyes and laugh with your fiance about this, then just ignore it. If not, you can limit your interaction leading up to the wedding day as well as on the actual day of.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

On the flip side of that is the bride that offers advice to you based on the mistakes she made that she doesn’t want you to make. I’m a big believer in not giving advice unless it’s asked for, so if this scenario bothers you, speak up. You don’t have to be a mean girl about it either, and a simple “thanks, we’re good so far but will let you know if we need anything” will suffice.

When designing your seating chart (a whole separate type of hell), place this person with people she either knows and that can handle her, or with people she doesn’t know at all. If she is with people she doesn’t know, she might think twice about talking about how fabulous her own wedding was while attending yours.

7a. The Guest That Doesn’t Care Where She Sits (Except She Does)

If you haven’t reached the point in your planning where you are designing your seating chart, it’s not possible for you to imagine how tortorous it can be. Somewhat of a juggling act, you’ll have to contend with people that don’t like each other, people that don’t know each other and people that will be offended if they aren’t sitting near you. Those are just three of the hurdles.

A little different than the passive aggressive wedding guest, this person is only concerned about one thing and it’s where she is sitting. Some of my couples have told me stories of guests asking where they would be sitting before the invitations were even sent out. Presumptious much?

Passively, this guest will tell you that it doesn’t matter one bit what table she is located at, but just in case you were curious, here are 40 places she would prefer not to be. Unlike the next example, she will sit where she is told, but best believe you will know she isn’t happy about it. This is also another reason not to have a receiving line aka an assembly line of complaints passed off as concerns by your guests.

It’s always a good idea to leave whiny brats off your guest list in general. If you find yourself contending with one and stuck in a conversation of where an appropriate seat for her would be, how you react will set the tone going forward. If you can brush it off, just do that and go about your business of wedding planning. If you can’t, depending on your relationship, you can either be upfront with how this discussion is stressing you out or you can use sarcasm and suggest a seat on her couch for the evening.

7b. The Guest That Plays Musical Chairs

While the guest mentioned above has a full understanding of sitting where you’re supposed to sit, this guest is YOLO about the situation. On many occassions, I have been approached by guests that when they walk over to me look like they are going into combat. As I hold the seating chart in my hands during the cocktail hour, many want to know where they are sitting, especially if they can’t find their escort cards.

But then there are those guests that aren’t satisfied with the answer. Instead of looking at the escort board or cards on their own, they usually want to see the list I am holding which shows each table and the names of the guests at each one. Typically, I just ask this guest whom they are looking for, tell them the people at their own table and call it a day.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Justin Tinapay Photography

Whatever the approach, many guests have asked (rather, told) me to switch their seat. It never matters how hard the couple worked to create the seating chart or that it’s their wedding and their call. It also never seems to matter that this could affect the place settings, the food orders, or anything else. They just need to be moved and never tell me why.

Spoiler alert: I have never moved a guest. Ever.

Do not feel pressured to cave to this guest’s immature and unreasonable request. Should they approach you directly or through someone else, you say nothing more than “I will see what I can do.” Then do nothing. The bottom line is, this guest is an adult and they can find ways to avoid the table unless it’s time for dinner by visiting the dance floor or the bar.

Not your circus, not your monkeys.

8. The Really Bad Gift Giver

I’m probably going to catch a lot of flak for this, but let’s go there anyway.

When you are planning your wedding, part of the floor chart for your reception will include the placement of the gift table. This is typically a small table, anywhere from 30-48” (or if you’re a certain bride of mine, 6 feet and she’s lucky I adore her). On this table, you will place a card box/birdcage for guests to place their cards of well wishes.

Typically, this table is near the cake table and sweetheart table, and there is no room for large packages. However, some people think a card and a check is just unacceptable and that you would much prefer a hand cut, 450 pound, crystal Waterford vase that looks like something in your grandmother’s house that she got at her wedding. This box will also come wrapped in really tacky and usually reflective wrapping paper.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

Being that the gift table is only available during the reception (usually), there is no opportunity for guests to drop their cards until that time. This means they will carry it with them during the ceremony and the cocktail hour. Envelopes fit easily inside purses and suit pockets. Not so much in the case of the vase that you don’t need.

To avoid watching Aunt Betty (because let’s give Sally a break) walk around with a package that seems so heavy her hips might break, hide all of your wedding registries the day of your bridal shower.

Guests sometimes refer to these registries when they want to actually give you something and when they see they no longer exist one of two things will happen:

  1. They ask your mom (sorry moms) what happened and what to get you. Prepare mom to say something like “they’re all set really/honestly a check will be just fine.” Be prepared to say the exact same thing should you be asked directly. You might still get a gift, but at least you tried to avoid it and hopefully the receipt is included.

Or

  1. They shrug their shoulders and just go the check in card route.

Of course, there is also the option of having a registry for your honeymoon through sites like Honeyfund where guests can purchase excursions and such for you in advance. If you think your guest list is chock full of people that have to buy something because a check is so not personal (like my mother), consider setting up something like this so that everyone’s happy.

9. The Financial Analyst

Weddings are expensive and even though people never like to talk about money, that awkwardness about the subject seems to vaporize when people want to know what you spent on the big day. Whether it’s a direct question or beating around the bush, you will likely have a guest or two want to know what everything cost.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

Now, to be fair, many wedding guests want to know what you spent per plate so that they can cover that cost in their gift/check in card. However, with some venues starting at the $200 per person plus plus mark, it’s not likely that information will help as I know of few wedding guests cutting $400 and $500 checks.

For whatever reason, you will be seen as rude if you don’t answer “how much were these flowers?”. There isn’t one good reason to give an answer and you wouldn’t believe how offended some guests get when they found out what you spent. I mean, no one is questioning the amount of money Aunt Sally is spending on her sterling silver collection, so…

Dance around these questions with non-answers. If you’re still planning, then just say that the final bill hasn’t come out yet. Follow it up with a playful, “Why? Do you want to cover it?” That should shut it down moving forward.

When the questions come past the point of knowing what everything costs, say anything but a number. Phrases like “we got such a good deal”, “so much less than we thought” and “I can’t even remember anymore” are good pacifiers. But never ever give a number and remind yourself that it is inappropriate for anyone to ask in the first place.

10. The Drunk

It happens. It’s a wedding. Weddings have open bars (the good ones at least). You can’t keep this person off your guest list, but you can keep the wedding going without being kicked out. Assuming this drunk or the drunks are friendly and not bitter angry drunks that want to smash centerpieces, here are a few preventative measures to take:

  1. Give a head’s up about guests you’re worried about to your venue, the catering staff and anyone handling liquor such as the bartenders. Make sure you understand the shot policy and that they have the right to cut people off, and make sure they know you would like that strongly enforced.
  2. If there isn’t a “no shot” policy, make it one
  3. Don’t service any alcohol prior to your ceremony.
  4. Keep these people out of your wedding party if possible.
  5. Have a strict list of people that are allowed to use the microphone and give a copy to your MC, wedding planner and venue coordinator. No toasts unless you’re on the list.
  6. Ask a few people close to you to keep an eye on anyone you’re worried about and if they see things getting out of control to speak to the coordinators about how to handle the situation.

Designing your guest list can be a nightmare and should be one of the first items on your to-do list. If there are guests you are on the fence about, push them onto a B list or off the list completely. A great group of guests can make or break a wedding day and there are no do-overs. It’s perfectly fine to be cut-throat when making final guest list decisions.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

But if you can’t remove everyone you want to, now at least you’ll be able to handle them.

What guests are you worried about attending your wedding? Is there a type that I missed and you want to warn other couples? Need more advice? Leave me a comment and share your stories below!

 

 

Those Wedding Planning Checklists and Why They Suck

Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!
Justin Tinapay Photography

If you’re engaged, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably visited a wedding website or 50 and come across their version of a wedding planning checklist. What you don’t know is why those wedding planning checklists totally suck.

You know the type of checklists I’m talking about: what to do first through what to do last and when to do it. They all start the same way telling you to get that gown and venue somewhere between 9 and 12 months before your actual wedding date.

But what happens when you have a 6 month long engagement?

How can you secure your wedding venue and your wedding gown 12 months before your wedding when your wedding is only 6 months away?

It’s basic wedding math.

Actually, no, it’s just basic math. Because 12 is bigger than 6 and that’s just 1 reason why those wedding planning checklists suck for 2 people getting married.

And I’m going to tell you all the other reasons these checklists suck in this blog. So get ready to delete those sites you’ve bookmarked and remove all of those planning checklist pins. This is what you really need. Straight up, no chaser.

To make this easy to apply to any wedding, I have listed some basic wedding planning “to-do” items and when to do what. I am also sharing my secrets that you might never have thought about. Because, yes, despite what those self-proclaimed number one wedding websites say, it actually does matter when you get married.

Disclaimer: I am already going to assume that everyone reading this knows that figuring out your budget is the first step to any wedding planning ever. Know your numbers before you do anything.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Those Standard 12 Month Out To-Do Items

The Wedding Gown

Picking out the dress is almost always done first when planning a wedding. Of course, this is primarily because it’s basically shopping. However, it’s shopping for the most important piece of wardrobe you will likely ever own. Getting the gown makes the engagement feel “real” for many brides.

Ideally you should purchase the gown a full year prior to your wedding date. Many designers will need upwards of 9 months to create and send the gown to the store. Then you have to account for any time needed for alterations. Personally, I like to add in extra time in the off chance that my bride either has buyer’s remorse or something goes wrong with the order.

Something frequently ignored by these wedding timelines is the very real time it takes to actually get things done. In this case, it’s important to consider the time it takes to actually find that gown. I mean, if it takes over 20 years to find the groom, then it’s not going to take 20 seconds to find the dress you want to wear when you marry him.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

There are so many moving parts to consider when figuring out how much time you will need to shop for your wedding gown. First and foremost, weekend appointments book up quickly, and it can take up to a month to secure a date. You also have to consider the schedules of anyone you want to have with you when you shop. Lastly, if you think you’ll need multiple shops to visit, you’ll also need multiple days for said appointments.

These are just some of the reasons why the wedding gown should be ordered one year in advance. Obviously, that isn’t always possible if your engagement is shorter than 12 months.

It’s not hopeless if you’re engaged in January and getting married in June though. You should make finding your gown one of your three first priorities (the second one is next), but you don’t necessarily need a full year. Here are a few wedding planner secrets:

Purchase a sample or “off the rack”

When you go to try on wedding gowns, every gown you try on is considered a sample or “off the rack”. Many times these gowns will be available for purchase at a reduced cost. The three things every bride should be aware of are:

  1. These gowns are sample size i.e. 10-12 dress which translates to 6-8 real size. It’s a lot easier to shorten a gown and make it smaller than it is to add length and let it out. It’s also less expensive.
  2. Sample sales are typically final, so if you aren’t in love with it, don’t buy it.
  3. Since these gowns have been tried on, there will be imperfections and not all of those imperfections will be fixable. Sometimes this will be as minor as a hem needing to be re-stitched and other times it’s major like missing beading.

Set up your appointments on a weekday if possible or a weeknight as a second option.

I’ve already mentioned this, but weekend appointments are hard to come by since people, you know…have jobs. If you’re in a rush to say “yes to the dress”, a weekday appointment will be available sooner and you’ll likely not be rushed through the appointment and able to try on even more gowns.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Bring only 1 other person with you

I am 110% against entourages when shopping for any wedding wardrobe, but especially when looking for a wedding gown. Your bridesmaids aren’t “like that”…until they are. Opinions always fly and all they do is take up time during the appointment and delay your ability to make a decision. You also have to work around their schedules and pray you can find time when you’re all available. If you really need your crew (which many bridal salons don’t allow FYI) then bring them to show them what you’ve already chosen.

Look for designers that can turn a dress around quicker than average

Not every designer needs 9 months to deliver a wedding gown. Before you crack out on Pinterest and need to have a dress by a certain designer, find out what designers are available at your local salon and when their gowns come in by. Hint: Pronovias frequently can turn around a dress in under 6 months and I’ve also had luck with Moonlight Bridal.

Speak to the wedding salons about rush orders

If you’re really in a bind or fall in love with a designer that takes longer than you have, speak with the salons about paying to rush your order. Sometimes this can buy you as much as a month, but coupled with buying from a designer that’s quicker than the rest, you might be good to go.

Go vintage

Just like buying a sample, you can go the vintage route and pick up a pre-worn gown. I do not, like really do not, advocate buying your wedding gown online. However, you can find some really beautiful vintage wedding gowns at reputable small stores. In fact, there are stores literally dedicated to selling vintage gowns. If you’re wedding is incorporating this hot-never-going-to-die trend, then look around for a shop like this.

Attend trunk shows

Trunk shows are great for two reasons. The first reason is that you can get anywhere from 10-20% off of the gown’s full price. The second reason is that you can see an entire collection from a designer as opposed to the 3-10 pieces the salon currently has. This is perfect for the bride that wants a specific designer’s wedding gown as it takes away the need to bounce from store to store looking at options.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Your Wedding Venue

The second major priority when planning a wedding is finding the venue.

Duh.

Sometimes, 12 months isn’t enough time to get this done though. With wedding season spanning the months between May-November and peaking in September and October, your dream venue might be booked up to two years in advance. I cannot tell you how many couples I have worked with that had to make the decision whether or not to extend the length of their engagement solely to get their venue of choice.

If that’s not an option for you, then it’s best to be flexible with your venue choices. Not just normal flexible either. More like Gumbi flexible.

The venue is also going to set your wedding date. I know, you thought you had control over that one didn’t you?

Believe me, most couples contact me with a wedding date picked out and don’t have a venue locked down yet. Then they have to decide if they want to see venues that aren’t available on their “date” or if they are open to that date solely representing the time of year they want to be married.

Because the venue essentially sets your date, you should always venue shop and venue book before going dress shopping.

When you make appointments to go try on wedding gowns, the first question they will ask you (besides budget) is your wedding date. Don’t make the mistake of giving them a date you’ve selected, only to purchase a wedding gown and then have to scramble when the venue you want isn’t available for that date. You might find yourself needing a second gown (like a sample) because the first one isn’t coming in on time if you end up booking a venue for an earlier date than your original date.

You know…the date that wasn’t real because you didn’t have a venue yet…

If you have over a year to plan, don’t sleep on getting the venue. Just like it takes time to shop for wedding gowns, you will need all the time you can get to find a venue. Odds are, you will need to coordinate schedules with your fiancé and possibly both sets of parents. Weekend appointments book up first and some venues won’t tour if a wedding is taking place on the same day.

All of that adds up to needing a ton of time to find the venue for your wedding day. Of course, if you can schedule tours on weekdays and look at venues that are in close proximity, you’ll need less time than normal.

Also helpful is to do as much research on these venues before committing to an appointment. It’s not always possible to get pricing from a venue without setting an appointment. In fact, one of the many reasons to hire a wedding planner is that we tend to have that information already or we can get it without much struggle.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Wedding Planner

Before you do anything past establishing your overall budget, if you’re going to hire a wedding planner, that is your Step 1 in the planning process. So, if you have 1 month or 1 year, do this before the rest of the tasks. A few reasons why:

Reputable and professional wedding planners book up to if not over a year in advance, especially for peak wedding season dates. Many planners, myself included, will not take on more than one wedding or event per weekend.

Hiring a planner for full service means they can do all of the work for you including finding the perfect venue and vendors. That’s right, you basically just have to tell them what you want and just like magic, options will appear.

A full time planner can speak with venues and vendors at the hours that you can’t. You know, like 2pm on a Tuesday. This means that more planning gets done in a shorter amount of time because planners have the same hours as venues and vendors. No back and forth voicemails and emails needed here.

If you’re only looking for someone to handle “Month Of” Coordination, many planners will not book that package until you’re under the 6 month mark. To be blunt, most planners would rather hold out for a last minute full service client than to lock up a weekend with a smaller package. The good part here is if you are a couple with a short engagement only looking for this type of help, you could easily have some solid options to choose from.

All that said, the number one way to get your checklist all checked off? A professional wedding planner…as soon as possible and before anything else.

The Big Ticket Vendors: Photo/Video, Music and Florals

Photo and Video

Always listed on wedding planning checklists around the 6-8 month mark are your photographer, videographer, music and florist. On average, most couples will have at least 6 months to plan. However, just because they have 6 months, doesn’t mean getting these vendors booked will always happen at that time. Remember how venue and gown come first?Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Many photographers and videographers will only be available for one wedding per day unless they work like an agency. It’s very important to meet these people before hiring them. I know, you totally do not have time to do this, right?

Make time.

Invent it if you need to.

Your photo and video team will be with you almost the entire day of your wedding. If you’re not comfortable with them, it will show in those photos and videos you get back. There are no do-overs and it’s not enough to just love the work or the product.

In addition to meeting/interviewing these people, I always recommend an engagement session with your photographer because that’s basically practice for the real thing. The real thing being your wedding day.

As a planner, I like to book photo and video 9 months to one year in advance. I know, that’s totally not what the internet tells you to do, right? Silly them…

If you plan to do an engagement shoot (I mentioned you should and I meant it), odds are your photographer will have more availability on a weekday. Since weekdays are a problem for many couples, then you will need a weekend and guess what tends to be a problem for wedding photographers?

You guessed it: weekends.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

This means that you could be waiting months to take your engagement photos and if you want them outdoors, you’ll have to leave time for rescheduling in case it rains. You also won’t be able to shoot outdoor photos for a handful of months if you live in a state where winter exists. Pretty soon you’re taking your engagement photos 1 month prior to your wedding and that is no bueno.

If you have longer than one year, start this process at the 9 month to one year mark. This is especially important if you are getting married during peak season since you might get a lot of “sorry, already booked” responses. If you are pressed for time, then shop for both photo and video simultaneously (a general rule of thumb anyway) and line up appointments via Skype if that’s the only way you can schedule a weekday.

Music

It doesn’t matter if you have a band, DJ or both, sometimes 6-8 months isn’t enough time to book. Like the other vendors that you will need at your wedding, many bands and DJs book up peak season 9-12 months in advance. If you want something specific, such as an electric violinist or a DJ that can provide live musicians to accompany his music, then I recommend shopping 7-9 months prior to your wedding date.

While I know many people (and many planners) will probably disagree with me here, I am going to say that seeing these people in person is essential. If you want a live band, there is no better way to hear what they really sound like than to attend an in person showcase. Sometimes, there will only be showcases available once a month or every other month. If you’re not available on the one date they have, then you’ll be forced to wait until the next one.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

If you’re going with a DJ, an in person meeting or interview isn’t mandatory but I wouldn’t recommend booking without a least a Skype or phone call. Any DJ worth hiring will be passionate about music and even more passionate about selecting the right music for your wedding. It’s equally important to know how the DJ works and to make sure the way they work is in line with what you imagine for your wedding.

For the couples with shorter engagements, it’s a good idea to get a hold of videos of past performances of bands and DJs. Showcases might not always be possible and you might not have the time to sit down and interview DJs. However, even if it’s 11pm at night, you should make the time to watch and listen to any recordings the music vendors can provide to you. Also consider looking into any bands or DJs you heard at weddings you attended and fell in love with.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Florists

As a wedding planner, I insist that my clients meet florists that I recommend before signing a contract. While it doesn’t matter so much that you’re vibing on a personal level, it is important to know that they understand what you want. It’s just as important that you are confident in their ability to create it.

You will never get that from an email exchange. Period.

However, most florists will only be available to meet on weekdays, which can make setting anything up totally impossible. If you don’t have 7-9 months before your wedding date (which is when I recommend securing a florist), then doing your homework prior to a meeting or in place of one is essential.

Before you go sending your 597 pins of centerpiece inspiration out to every florist within a 50 mile radius of your venue, narrow those pictures down. Way down. It’s more important for a florist to know your colors and the feel of your wedding. It’s less important for them to know the exact height you picture for each centerpiece and how if you don’t have peonies you’ll throw yourself off a bridge.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Another way to save time is to look at websites of florists and see if their work is similar to what your style is. If you find yourself drooling over a website but don’t see your style displayed, you can reach out to the florist and ask them for additional examples.

For instance, if you have a vision of greenery suspended from a tent, but don’t see it on a florist’s website, there is no harm in asking if they have done that before and if they have, could they share pictures. If you’re tight on time and having trouble choosing between florists, consider paying for a sample centerpiece to help make your decision easier.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? There’s a lot to this wedding planning stuff and knowing when to do everything can be a lot to digest. In order to avoid throwing anyone into a meltdown and running off to elope, I’ll continue the rest of this timeline in the next blog.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so you’ll know when to come back for the rest of the to-do list and when you want to get started on those items. In the meantime, share below if you’re on the fast track to the wedding day and what you’re doing to check stuff off your list!

5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Wedding Invitations Stand Out

Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. That said, if I say I love something, I really truly love it.

Many of my engaged couples are looking for beautiful wedding invitations at a low cost. The truth is, custom invitations start at $12 a piece and most average between $20-$30 each. If you are inviting 300 people, that’s 150 invitations and a minimum of $3,000. Now while I love me some custom stationery, I also love being able to afford things like food.Romantic and rustic, this wedding invitation suite is perfect for an outdoor or tented affair

What is wonderful about custom wedding invitations, besides being gorgeous, is that they are one of a kind. This means you will sit down with a real person who will design your invitations from colors to font to enclosures. And no one will have seen it before.

But for my brides and grooms that think their guests will trash the invitations, I need to offer an alternative. As a wedding planner, I recommend purchasing invitations online and creating custom stationery for the day of. Then again, if paper just isn’t a priority, many websites offer things like menus and table numbers that match your wedding invitation.

One thing I love about these websites is how far they have come since first becoming a thing. There are countless ways to customize your invitations and there are real designers involved as well. While you won’t be sitting down with anyone flipping through swatches, you will have plenty of options to choose from.

Here are 5 affordable ways to make your wedding invitation stand out without going the custom route:

This foil press wedding invitation with gold lettering is both chic and elegant

Foil Press

A great option for the bride and groom that love shine but not glitter is the foil press invitation. The background can be any color, but darker jewel tones like navy blue, deep purple or even black will really make the words stand out. This look is chic and elegant but is appropriate for a black tie wedding just as much as a laid back wedding on the farm.

This invitation sample is from Minted and like many others can be customized with various colors. The foil is a rose gold which is perfect for a romantic wedding at any location. Foil is available in rose gold, standard gold and of course silver.

Letterpress

Letterpress invitations are probably the most formal of all and perfect for a black tie wedding.This letter press wedding invitation from Minted is perfect for a formal and elegant wedding Not that you couldn’t use this type of invitation for a backyard bash, but that’s not where you see it most. Since it is the style used for those upscale and luxury weddings you see regularly on reality shows, it is also typically pricey.

Online wedding invitation sites absolutely offer more affordable options than a custom designer would, but letterpress will be the most expensive on the site. If you are having a formal wedding, this raised printing will let guests know that jeans are not an option. The printing isn’t just about the wording either. Letterpress can be used for any design on your invitation as well. [tweetshare tweet=”A word of caution though: stick to one or two colors with this style so that it looks clean and upscale.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

Envelope LinersTake your wedding invitations to the next level by adding envelope liners in glitter!

Gone are the days of boring off-white envelopes that are simply used to hold the pretty wedding invitation. I love when the whole wedding “look” comes together and envelope liners are another way to get that job done. If you are all about the details then you will love this as much as I do.

Depending on your invitation colors and design, the liner to the envelope is available in everything from solids to sparkle. My favorite type of liner is a floral pattern in deeper colors, but you can really do anything. Sometimes when you receive your order, you will have to DIY the liners and put them onto the envelopes yourself. Before you decide to jump on this trend for your wedding, find out if it’s an arts and crafts project for you first.

Belly Bands

This is such a cute trend and there are about 459 different ways to do it. If you’ve never heard of belly bands, it’s basically stuff wrapped around the invitation suite. Add a belly band around your wedding invitation to keep all of the enclosures together and really be unique!That “stuff” can be anything from paper to ribbon, and it bands around the belly of the enclosures. Get it? [tweetshare tweet=”The belly band is seen as an accessory to the invitation and it really does enhance the entire look.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

The reason I love this so much is because it works for all types of weddings. I’ve seen these done in nothing but glitter just as much as I’ve seen florals, solids and monograms. It’s also a nice way to present an invitation so when it’s taken out of the envelope, it doesn’t fall apart. Think about it, you’re sending an invitation along with a RSVP card, direction enclosures, RSVP envelope and sometimes more. All of that put into one envelope can be a mess, but a belly band will keep it all together.

Lasercut

My absolute obsession is lasercut anything. Unique and fun lasercut wedding invitations for the edgy bride and groomSuch a hot trend for over a year now, we are seeing laser cut cake toppers, laser cut signage, laser cut drink stirrers and of course, laser cut wedding invitations. You. Guys. Lasercut is amazing. Join me on my little freakout moment, won’t you?

This style is fun and funky but make no mistake, this is totally perfect for a black tie wedding too. It reminds me of those snowflakes you would make in kindergarten where you would fold a piece of paper and go crazy with the scissors. No? You know what I’m talking about right? Well that’s what this is and it looks awesome. So if you want your guests to say “oh that’s cool” when they open that envelope, go for lasercut and don’t look back.

Those are my top 5 ways to create a unique but affordable wedding invitation. If you are a bride or groom that doesn’t want to spend a lot on the paper part of your wedding day, check out sites like Wedding Paper Divas and get 20% off if you order before March 31, 2017!

I always say that it’s best to see invitations in person, so make sure you order a sample before committing to “the one”. Follow the link to get your three free (told you this was an affordable blog) samples from our friends at Minted.

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments what your favorite style is for your wedding invitation!

 

Wedding Contracts Shouldn’t Be Complicated

On the blog, Part 2 of why you should read wedding contracts and the details you might be missing. Pin me now and read later for tips you won't get anywhere else!
Justin Tinapay Photography

I recently wrote a blog about wedding contracts and the importance of reading every last word. If you didn’t catch the details, make sure you read all of them before continuing here. This blog will cover the vendors I didn’t talk about yet and how their wedding contracts can affect your wedding plans.

Side note: This isn’t meant to freak anyone out or send brides and grooms on a scavenger hunt looking for the “traps” in wedding contracts. We’re all friends here and as a friend (and a wedding planner), I want to make sure you know what you’re signing before you sign it.

Moving down the list of vendors you’ll typically encounter when planning your wedding…

The Stationery Contracts

On the blog, Part 2 of why you should read wedding contracts and the details you might be missing. Pin me now and read later for tips you won't get anywhere else!
Alicia King Photography

Doesn’t matter if you are the type to get custom invitations or order simple stuff on the web. You sign a contract either way, whether it’s handed to you by a person, or you simply check off that you agree to all of the terms. And if you didn’t read those terms, then it will catch up with you down the road. What could I possibly be talking about?

  1. Invitations, menus, programs and all other paper products have one thing in common: wording. You will have to get the correct wording to the person (or computer application) designing all of this stuff. This basically means getting slightly important details like your wedding date, time and location, all 100% correct. There will also be a deadline as to when this information is needed by. If you delay on doing your work, then the stationery designer will have to delay on doing theirs. Signing a contract here implies that you understand what happens when you don’t get the information sent in on time.
  2. Another agreement you make when you sign this wedding contract is getting what you pay for. Revisions can be made but there’s always a limit unless you’re willing to open your checkbook. Don’t ignore the lines in the contract that tell you how many revisions you are entitled to. Otherwise, you’re bound to get pretty angry when you’re asked for additional funds because you can’t make a decision.

The Hair and Make Up Stylist Contracts

Quite often, brides will hire a professional team of hair and make up stylists for the big day. The stylists usually take care of the bridesmaids and mom figures as well. I book stylists for my clients at least 7 months prior to their wedding. This means they have to know how many people are getting hair and make up done way far in advance. I’ve seen brides ignore this contract entirely. Not good and here are two reasons why:

On the blog, Part 2 of why you should read wedding contracts and the details you might be missing. Pin me now and read later for tips you won't get anywhere else!
Timothy Glenn Photography
  1. Every contract is different, but the information the stylist asks for, helps them create the quote and proposal as well as prepare for the day. Odds are, you will have to commit to the amount of people being booked and what services you will need. Right down to airbrush versus traditional and false eyelashes versus mascara, decisions need to be made in advance. Is there flexibility for a changed mind on the wedding day? Potentially. But it’s not owed to you since you signed off months earlier.
  2. Prep details are included in the wedding contracts and these helpful hints often end up in the trash. Believe it or not, there is a reason that stylists want you and your ladies to read what they wrote. Included in these guidelines are mentions of how hair cannot be wet, that flatirons should not be used prior to hair services, and that anything more than moisturizer on a face is no bueno. [tweetshare tweet=”You’d think that much of this would be common sense, but I’ve seen things, let me tell you… ” username=”RothweilerEvent”] I’ve also seen a bridesmaid lose her mind when she was charged a fee for showing up without blow drying her hair. Yup.

The Hotel Block Contracts

If you’re setting up rooms at a hotel local to your wedding venue, you will enter into a contract that is duller than a book on tax law. Doesn’t matter because why? You need to read it anyway. Not only does this wedding contract affect you, but it also affects your guests. And this just in: guests tend to complain about wedding issues. Don’t give them ammo by ignoring this contract and especially these points:

  1. It will be very clear in the contract when the rooms are no longer available. This doesn’t mean that your guests can’t still get a reservation, it just means that there are no guarantees anymore. So if a hotel releases the block of rooms to the public and Uncle Sal calls after the release date (that you agreed to), he might be out of luck. Trust and believe that you will hear about this and then expected to fix the situation. That will also happen less than a month before your wedding and ZOMG do you really want that kind of stress? Memorize that date and share it in your invitations so that you can ask Uncle Sal why he didn’t read everything, instead of him asking you.
  2. Believe it or not, a majority of hotels will put in their wedding contract that outside alcohol is prohibited. That means no poppin’ bottles post reception in your penthouse suite. Nope. Not allowed. Can you get around this? Of course. Don’t make a bunch of noise on the balcony and party like it’s 1999 and things will probably be cool. The reason things go left is because the couple didn’t read that fine print and guests are calling the front desk to report the noise. Read the fine print to know what rules you’re about to break.

    Gabelli Studios

The Photobooth Contracts

Most times when working with a DJ, there will be a photobooth add-on option. There are also companies that exclusively handle your photobooth needs. Between the two, you really can have anything you want in terms of set up and photos delivered. Photobooths seem simple though so what could possibly be in a contract that even matters?

  1. Remember in the last blog when I said that the wedding contracts affect each other? Here is a classic example: the photobooth. Just as you might think this contract is no big deal, this vendor is viewed as lower on the totem pole by industry people. Probably because everyone and their mom has one now and it’s not considered an essential wedding item like you know, food. That doesn’t make the contract any less legally binding, so read it and pay attention to anything regarding a power source and table. Odds are, you will be asked to make sure there is a certain amount of electricity and that it’s only 20 feet away from their set up location. Photobooth vendors always ask for a small table as well, and it’s your responsibility (because you agreed to do it when you signed their contract) to make sure it’s there.
  2. Photos from a photobooth can be delivered hundreds of ways. You will have the option to decide on the size of the photos, how many copies are printed, and if you want them all on a flash drive at the end of the night delivered via giraffe…Kidding, I just put that in there to see if you were still reading.. Before you even decide which company to book, you need to know what your options are. Once you agree and sign, there is no “Oh I thought everyone got a copy” on the day of the wedding when you and your 20 bridesmaids pile into the booth. Wording can be tricky here so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification until you’re all on the same page.

Those are the vendors involved in most weddings and some highlights of their wedding contracts. Depending on the details of your wedding you might hire others including an officiant if you’re outside a religious house for your wedding. The contract with an officiant is generally simple, but just as important as the rest. [tweetshare tweet=”Because if the officiant doesn’t show up because you moved your ceremony time and didn’t tell him, then ain’t no one getting married that day.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

Jessica Janae Photography

For anyone getting married at a location that doesn’t provide catering, those couples will enter into a wedding contract with a catering company to handle food and beverage. Yes, this does also mean alcohol, so read that contract twice. Common things brides and grooms have said “but I didn’t know that” about on their actual wedding day? Oh, just little details like how they were supposed to provide ice, or that they were responsible for getting the food orders from their guests before the wedding day.

No matter the vendor or how long and boring the wedding contract is, read it and read it again before signing on the dotted line. Nothing is worse than arguing with a vendor and having them quote the contract that you didn’t read. It’s a pain in the ass and watching paint dry is more entertaining, but if the booze is warm, the DJ doesn’t have enough electricity to play music and the venue refuses to let a vendor in because they have no insurance, you will remember your wedding day for all the wrong reasons.

And since we really are all friends here, be sure to share that time you signed a contract without reading it? What about those of you that did read the contract but were surprised by what you read? Share in the comments below and let’s see even more reasons why reading a wedding contract is mandatory.

 

Why You Should Read Wedding Contracts

Why You Should Read Every Last Word of the Contracts You Sign While Wedding Planning. Check Out Things You Might Miss That Could Destroy Your Wedding and Your Budget!
Justin Tinapay Photography

Be honest. You have signed a contract before that you didn’t read. Or maybe you read most of it, but then figured it was just standard legal stuff to ignore. Too often contracts are treated like those annoying “terms of service” boxes where you just scroll down, click OK and get on with your life. But the simple reason behind why you want to not only read, but understand the contracts you sign while wedding planning, is because they all affect one another

I cannot tell you how many times I have been hired in the middle of the wedding planning process. A couple has picked the date and the venue and perhaps a handful of vendors. Maybe they were getting overwhelmed or just tired of planning, but quite often I have been asked to put on my planner hat halfway down the aisle.

The first thing I ask for when working with partial planning couples is to see a copy of every contract they have entered into. I can’t change what has already been agreed to, but I need to have a foundation for the house I’m trying to build. Too often, I have said to couples, “Did you read this?”

And I already knew their answer.

So if you’re getting ready to plan the details of your wedding day, then this is mandatory reading material. No, you won’t have to sign anything and there won’t be a quiz at the end. But you can bet your sweet little white dress that once you realize why reading is important, you’ll be more likely to actually do just that. I’ve broken this up into two parts, so make sure you read both in order to be fully prepared to do battle…or…um….plan your wedding.

Here we go!

The Venue Contract

The venue will have the longest contract and is almost always the first item checked off the list when planning a wedding. After all, you can’t really give anyone a date if you aren’t even sure what is available. [tweetshare tweet=”As easy as it would be to assume it’s allowed if it’s not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]I’ve worked at and researched thousands of venues both locally and internationally, and regardless of location, many contracts are similar. Here are a few major details to look for in a venue contract and the reasons why you need to know them:

  1. How many other events might take place before, during and/or after your wedding? Most brides don’t want another wedding going on while they are having their own, but they almost never think to ask about what happens before that. If a venue can host an event prior to your own, they are likely to do so unless you purchase a “buy-out” of the entire space. If an event doesn’t get booked for the earlier the same day, there is still a chance that your venue will not be open until the 2 hour mark before your wedding begins. This means that not one vendor, including your florist, will be able to set up until that time. So if you’re going crazy and pinning elaborate floral displays, slow your roll since there might not be enough time to get that done. If a buy-out isn’t in the budget, keep reading. Regardless, make sure you know how much time you really have. As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
  2. Speaking of vendors, the rules that a venue has always come first. Sometimes that grand entrance complete with dry ice isn’t going to be allowed. If you have your heart set on anything that will take place at the venue, look and see what the contract says. As easy as it would be to assume it’s allowed if it’s not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first. It’s also worth mentioning that the answer from the venue is the final answer. Even if you hear from someone that got married there or a vendor that has worked there in the past, and they say that what you want can be done…if the venue said “no”, then take them at their word. A few things that are “pin-worthy” but not always venue friendly: dry-ice/smoke, hanging anything from the ceiling, candles that aren’t covered, and wish lanterns.
  3. Another issue that tends to come up when I get brought on mid-planning is the set up for the day. Your florist is responsible for their stuff, but for items like pictures you want to display or any signage, it’s important to discuss if the venue will handle that or not. If the venue will take care of things like placing 250 chair covers, double and triple check if a labor fee will be added on with your final bill.
  4. While it varies in terms of amount needed and which vendors need to provide what, the venue will always ask that insurance is provided. At a minimum, your florist, photographer, cinematographer, all music and your photobooth will have to provide what is called a “Certificate of Insurance”. If you’re bringing in outside food and beverage, they are in the same boat and lately, many venues are asking that all outside vendors provide this document. It sounds scarier than it is as every professional vendor already carries this. Just make sure you know what the venue’s requirements are and ask for this document as soon as you book your vendors.

The Photographer/Cinematographer Contract

Selecting someone to capture the details of your wedding isn’t always easy. There are countless photographers available at the click of a google search, and separating the professionals from the wanna-bes can leave you too tired to read the details of a contract. Even though you now know better than to skim and sign, here are things to look for first:

 As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Jessica Janae Photography
  1. The amount of hours that a photographer and/or cinematographer is on-site can be anywhere from 6 to 14. While it’s not always possible to decide the exact amount of time you will need until you’re closer to the wedding date, you want to factor in for possible overtime costs. 8-10 hours usually is just fine, but if you can land a package of 10 hours, I’d suggest doing just that. Always confirm if travel time is included and what the actual per hour (or half hour) overtime fee is.
  2. While your BFF may say to not sign with any photographer that won’t hand over all raw images and the rights to your photos, that is something you won’t always get. In fact, many photographers refuse to deliver raw images to their clients as they don’t want any modifications made including 500 different Instagram filters. Don’t even ask about owning the rights. Listen very carefully to what is included and then read about it twice.
  3. Pay close attention to how your photographer is your only photographer for the day. There are variations with this clause, but the main point is that there will be no one else taking photos or shooting video. Couples generally glaze over this because they cannot imagine how this would be an issue. Let me tell you where the issue is/why photographers put this into their contract: DJs. You’ve been to the weddings where photographs from earlier in the day are shown on big ass flat screens, right? Well, sometimes the DJ brings a “photographer” for those images. This is a whole different subject to delve into, but just know that this is why the issue exists. Respect it and handle it before you sign a contract with your DJ.
  4. Like any other vendor present during your reception (wedding planner, music vendor and photobooth usually), the photo and video crew will get hungry. These people are human (except for a few I’ve dealt with) and the human body requires food and water. Most contracts will state that a vendor meal must be provided and even if it’s not written it still has to happen. Because common decency. Yes, it’s an extra cost, but it’s for food not a brand new Prada shirt, and plenty of vendors will bounce from your reception to pick up pizza if you don’t feed them…and it will say so in their contract.

The Florist Contract

Picking a florist is usually a fun task for my couples and usually they go with one that has similar floral designs on their website as the ones they want for their wedding.  As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.However, there is more to think about than if someone is good with peonies or not. While a contract will not be the first piece of paper you receive from a florist, it will be second only to the proposal. That proposal will be put together after a consultation where you will discuss what you want and the rough quantity needed. [tweetshare tweet=”It’s important to know from the florist if they can accomplish your vision and if they will need extra staff (AKA: more money) to do it.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]A common misconception is that the first appointment will include a sample centerpiece, so don’t go into that meeting expecting to see one. Here is what you can expect to see in their contracts though:

  1. The payments you will make will be broken up, but that last payment could end up being a full 2-3 weeks prior to your wedding date. Flowers get ordered at different times, and many florists need 14 days to make sure the order comes in correctly. Some florists will let the final payment go until the wedding day, whereas others will want the money before they make the order. Either practice is fine, but make sure you know when your payments are due.
  2. Going back to the venue dilemma and having limited set up time, make sure you clear with your florists during the consultation exactly what they are working with. If the venue has a set of rules for florists, make sure to provide that along with any timing restrictions. It’s important to know from the florist if they can accomplish your vision and if they will need extra staff (AKA: more money) to do it.

The DJ, Band or Both Contract(s)

No matter if you have a DJ to handle all of the music, or a band to handle the reception with a bunch of violins for the aisle walk, these contracts are just as important to review before signing. Just like the vendors mentioned above, all of these people will have to provide insurance documents, guaranteed. There are differences between their contracts, but here are two similarities to look for and talk about:

  1. A major reason that insurance is required from your music vendors is that they could potentially use a ton of electricity. Once you are under contract and in the music planning stages, there will be a discussion of where the band/DJ is placed and where the closest power source is.  As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.Even if you are in a standard banquet hall, it’s really important to look over the contract in regard to how close your music vendor needs to be and what happens if they are too far away. Bands and DJs do not bring extension cords or generators with them, and adding stuff on like that last minute is going to cost you.
  2. Pay careful attention to what is actually included and what will cost you more. As a planner, I know what will be needed and what the right questions are. Brides, however, do not. A question to ask here (should it not be outlined in the contract) is: what microphones do you include? It’s a thought that doesn’t cross a mind until no one can hear the vows or any of the toasts, but by then, it’s too late. Don’t wonder or assume anything about microphones. Check the fine print because it might be addressed while you weren’t looking.

The Transportation Contract

If you need shuttles for guests or a bunch of limos and party buses, you will probably work with one transportation company. A big “however” here though, is if you are setting up a hotel block (addressed in the next blog) and they provide a shuttle service. There probably won’t be a contract here, but an invoice and some fine print is typically what you would receive. Whatever you book, read what you are given and look out for this:

 As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Justin Tinapay Photography
  1. Overtime hours and costs associated with any transportation provided outside of the standard 3-3.5 hours should be considered. You might not think that this will be an issue, but when you’re running late or sitting in traffic or take more time with photos than expected or….or…or….. No one likes paying bills after a wedding because that’s like dealing with student loans. The party is over, the bills should go away, right? Make that happen by putting together a package for the time that you need and be realistic about it.[tweetshare tweet=”Ask about this before you book as it won’t come up (probably) and then it will be buried deep in the invoice…so deep that you won’t see it. ” username=”RothweilerEvent”]
  2. You won’t ask because everyone assumes, but 9 times out of 10 you cant eat or drink in the limos you book. That’s right, no champagne on that party bus is a total possibility. The thing with this is that no one realizes the reality of this situation until the bride is jumping into the limo with her bridesmaids and a bottle of bubbly and the limo driver says “no drinks allowed”. Ask about this before you book as it won’t come up (probably) and then it will be buried deep in the invoice…so deep that you won’t see it.

The contracts I spoke about above are ones that pretty much go with every wedding, no matter the guest count, location or style. In “Part 2” you’ll see the other things to look out for including a deadline in stationery contracts that most couples never read. Until then, please share your thoughts in the comments section! Did you ever sign a contract without reading it and, if so, what happened? What language in your venue and vendor contracts are you glad you saw before you signed? Tell your story and come back for more in the next blog!

 As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Justin Tinapay Photography

 

 

Alexa and Michael’s Fairytale Wedding

with-amWhen I first met with Alexa and Michael, we sat in my office for over two hours.

I knew there was something special about this couple the minute we met. Their conversation flowed like they were already married and they had a connection that brought a huge smile to my face.

Huge Disney fans, they wanted to create a magical wedding at The Ashford Estate. Alexa had several hundred pins on her Pinterest page (seriously more than I’ve ever seen from a bride like ever), and we got to work right away.

carriageDetails and design are my favorite part of the job, but they can get crazy really fast. The thing that my couples struggle with the most is how to bring their vision to life without it looking like a Pinterest fail. A lot of my brides love different styles that just won’t work together, so it’s about making decisions and eliminating any inspiration that just won’t fit.

Alexa and Michael had their colors set and they were working with whites, creams, antique blue, purples and lots of greens. Carroll’s Florist did such an amazing job with their engagement party, that they were the obvious choice for their wedding.

am_12Golds, pearls and crystals were incorporated into the design and there were three different style centerpieces for the 23 tables at the reception. The Ashford Estate has these incredible high ceilings, so skyscraping centerpieces were totally in order. In fact, when it came time to schedule the sample appointment, Chad of Carroll’s Florist suggested that we take it outside since my office ceilings were “too low” to accommodate what he was putting together. That was a first for me, but he wasn’t kidding!

The florals selected for this wedding are the ones that I have dreams about but rarely get to work with. They included amnesia roses and antique blue hydrangea. One of the wonderful things about working with this couple was their willingness to get creative and not be afraid to take the design up a level (or 20).

I’m a strong believer that your décor and design should be present in every room your guests enter. This includes each area they will be in both inside and outside. The Ashford Estate has multiple rooms within the main building, as well as a barn on site and the ballroom is actually separated and in its own space. This meant walking all of the spaces and discussing the details and what we could do.

fountainWhat I mean when I say that we have to make your design “present” in every room, I mean things like florals in the fountains. Because why not?  Alexa and Michael (especially Alexa) loved flowers and when I think “Disney” I think about flowers being everywhere.

We didn’t stop at the fountains though, because that would be ridiculous. Each mantle was adorned with different florals as well, and the couple included pieces they had either purchased or made. The tables held the centerpieces and a floral bunch was placed at each setting on top of the napkins we rented.

But design isn’t just florals, and Alexa and Michael had secured Papertree Studio to handle all of their stationery from invitations to programs. A beautiful invitation, worthy of a royal ball, was sent out to all of the guests but we were stuck on what to do for escort cards.

Foregoing the escort board option (because hello huge guest list and early RSVP date that would be necessary), Alexa had the idea to name each table after famous Disney couples. She wanted to have each table “number” be a book, so we came up with the idea of using “bookmarks” for escort cards. Then they added a quote from each story at the bottom.

am2The font had to all be the same to create a specific look, and their logo was no exception. Playing with lighting colors right up until the month before the wedding, Alexa and Michael chose a blue-purple hue to illuminate the reception space and placed their logo above the mantle. Candles were used inside the fireplace and throughout the room to up the romance factor.

Each table was draped in white linens and lavender napkins. I love drawing attention to the sweetheart, gift, escort and cake tables by putting different linens on them. Working with the placement of the tables is really important because it’s essential that the linens don’t “clash”.

Their “card box” was a Cinderella’s carriage that Alexa had painted gold, and that Carroll’s adorned with flowers. Because of it’s size, we needed a 6 foot table and it would have to be placed behind the sweetheart table. This means that the sweetheart table, card table and cake table would be very close to each other.

Going through a book of swatches, we selected linens with the couple that would be different from each other, highlight anything being placed on the tables, and that would work well together. A combination of sparkles and solids were selected and the newly married couple sat in vintage chairs that I stumbled upon months earlier. (Actually, I was at a floral meeting for another wedding I was working on, when I spotted them in the building and immediately snapped a picture and texted them to Alexa with nothing more than “how about these?” The rest was history and not only were they beautiful, but damn comfortable too!)

I loved working with Alexa and Michael and it was such a beautiful wedding that truly reflected their style. It is really hard for me to pick a favorite detail or moment from this one. Their cake, designed by Michael’s sister was just stunning, the music was sensational and their wedding party was so friendly that I felt like I was in a movie. This was also the wedding where I heard what is (and probably always will be) the best father of the bride toast ever. Seriously, other couples should hire Alexa’s dad to toast at their weddings.

Congratulations to Alexa and Michael and thank you for working with me! I am so happy we met and know that you will live Happily Ever After….

(yes…this was the only font that didn’t “go” with the rest…but it was a good call….)

happily

 

 

Rustic and Romantic Styled Shoot

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Alicia King Photography

I am always searching for the newest “off the beaten path” venue. You know the ones: the barns, the farms, the estates, and the vineyards. Those beautiful locations that no one ever thought to have weddings at…until recently.

I was born and raised in New Jersey and to many people that means that I must wear lots of animal prints and sequins. Truth be told, I own one or two pairs of leopard print heels and only break them out every once in awhile.

Being a non-traditional bride myself, I wasn’t “typical Jersey” when I was planning my own wedding. New Jersey has countless ballrooms to choose from and they all have the bling everyone sees on the Jersey based reality shows. The menus are standard Italian and there is always way too much food. Not knocking what some brides and grooms want, but it was never what I was looking for.

My style has been described to me (because I don’t really know what to call it myself) as very “California”. I love boho chic, but I’d hang a chandelier in a tree in a heartbeat. I’ve done the barns and farms before they were what everyone suddenly wanted and thus, I am over the burlap, lace and mason jars filled with “wildflowers”. What can I say? I’m just not basic ballroom bling.

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Alicia King Photography

I love vintage furniture and have a pretty sweet collection that includes dressers, couches and plenty of china. I rent the pieces out when I can, but not many couples realize what the expense will be (hint: a lot). Therefore, anytime I can use the pieces, I jump at the chance.

Over the summer I designed a styled shoot in New York State. For those of you that don’t know what a styled shoot is, it’s basically a bunch of creatives in the wedding industry getting together and showing off their talents. This shoot incorporated plenty of vintage pieces from my collection as well as a horse or two.

It wasn’t my intention, but while designing the colors and theme for the shoot, I kept going back to Pantone’s “color of the year”. 2016 was all about the watercolors of rose quartz and some light blue color. Honestly, I was never crazy about the colors or the combination for wedding inspiration, but I loved (seriously L-O-V-E-D) using them for this shoot.

We were fortunate enough to have not just photography but a videography team in place too. In fact, you can check out their amazing video right here: Video Coverage

The location was the highest point in Duchess County, New York, which made dealing with the light a little difficult. It was basically full on sun for the entire day. There were a good amount of reflectors and flashes being used to battle the summer sun and zero clouds.

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Alicia King Photography

For any farm or barn wedding, if there are animals around, I always want to incorporate them. I mean…come. on. How gorgeous does this model look draped over this stunning horse? This wedding dress was an airy ballgown with a crystal bodice and we designed a eucalyptus wreath for the horse.

As a designer, I fully believe in complimenting your surroundings and not competing with them. It would’ve looked ridiculous to have used bold and dark colors and over the top tall centerpieces.

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Alicia King Photography

In order to keep the natural feel without being too nature, nature, nature, we worked with long gray-brown farmhouse tables and a simple deep blue runner. I wanted to keep the rest of the table exposed to showcase the vintage china. Place settings are a huge deal to me and if you can work it into your budget, I highly recommend a floral and/or custom menu on each plate. It really is that extra touch and it “finishes” the look of the table, much in the way a charger would.

The runner was scrunched to give that “I woke up like this” look and the flowers were placed in a vintage silver holder. In keeping with that natural but beautiful wedding vibe I was going for, figs and artichokes were included in the design. Remember, if you’re on a farm, a great way to work with what you have is to use what they have.

We luckily had the entire day to shoot and were able to use the barn on site as well as the entire grounds. Even though the sun never hid from us, the light changed enough to give some serious contrast to the photos. You can also see some behind the scenes fun over on our YouTube Channel here: Behind The Scenes

Styled shoots are a crazy amount of work, but the end result is always amazing. When you’re looking for wedding inspiration, you’re most likely going to be pinning pictures from more styled shoots than actual weddings. It’s a great chance to see what vendors can really do and just how creative they can be. For more wedding inspiration from this shoot, make sure to visit our Pinterest page: Romantic Wedding Inspiration