The question was popped, the news of your engagement has spread amongst family and friends. Now the work begins: planning your wedding. Where does one begin? It may seem relatively simple, but any wedding planner will tell you planning a wedding can be complex and time consuming. To get the ball rolling here are some tips from Real Simple, a detailed wedding planning guide to refer to in the coming months.
Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist
To plan the perfect celebration, use this comprehensive wedding checklist, with a timeline based on the 16-month length of the average U.S. engagement.
Sixteen to Nine Months Before
Start a wedding folder or binder.
Begin leafing through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration.
There are so many great venues to have a wedding in Austin. Here are five noteworthy wedding ceremony venues.
Guests happily munched on a family-style dinner by Royal Fig Catering and enjoyed cake prepared by Simon Lee Bakery, which tasted just as great as it looked. It was nothing but a party for the rest of the night, with the bride and groom dancing away to music by Greenbelt DJ with their guests. Special thanks to ILD Lighting for illuminating the night with festoon lights. Becky from Pearl Events pulled it all together.
Take your wedding guests to Tuscany. Stand on this side of the archway and you’re on a limestone parking lot on a plateau that rises 900 feet above Austin. Step through that archway and you’re in Tuscany. Water falls to your left. Massive stone steps lead across a pool that is constantly changing color. Fire leaps atop the surface. Step through those tall, double doors. Old wooden shutters and windowboxes adorn windows high on the second floor. Grapevines twist through a huge iron chandelier. An overhead catwalk leads to a dazzling art gallery.
Chapel Dulcinea is a romantic, open-air Wedding Chapel located on the Wizard Academy campus. Donations continue to make it possible for the owners to offer the Chapel at no charge.
Barr Mansion is a family-owned business that has been in Austin for over 20 years. Get married in the intimate rose garden or the elegant Artisan Ballroom, of which the entire front is 40 feet of glass. Groups up to 75 can fit in the Victorian mansion, which was built in 1898 and features gingerbread porches.
The Inn at Rose Hall
This rustic outdoor wedding venue in South Austin was voted as a Best of Weddings 2008/2009 pick by The Knot, a leading wedding Web site. The venue is essentially a ranch home with a laid-back Hill Country vibe, and it features a rolling green lawn adorned with 100-year-old oak trees. After the ceremony, you can dance and eat either under the covered veranda or inside the roomy home. You can also spend your first evening as a married couple together in the bridal suite. You can also rent the home for the full weekend if you have guests in town, as it has five large bedrooms and three bathrooms. This is a great place if you want a wedding under the stars!
What is the deal with save the dates? You may wonder why you need them since formal invites are sent out later. Save the dates are a good idea because it helps to set the date for everyone and solidify the planning process; you’ll likely get more positive RSVPs. Guests can plan far in advance, since save the dates are sent out 6-9 months prior to the wedding date. And most guests enjoy receiving a save the date.
The cost of a wedding can induce sticker shock. It’s best to prepare, and hopefully avoid any financial surprises, by having a wedding spending plan. This handy wedding costs checklist will help you plan your affair whether large or small, elaborate or simple.
There are so many terms when it comes to describing weddings. Here are some of the trends over the last five years. Having a wedding that is personalized and inclusive of your values, personality and culture never goes out of style.
DIY: handmade details you made yourself
DIY is a broad term when applied to weddings. It can mean the style, theme, ambiance, decor, personal touches you choose to add.
According to Elle Magazine an alternative wedding is when “sweethearts put their own unique spin on the traditional ceremony, from exchanging vows in a yoga studio to celebrating on the streets of New York City.”
You could say these are alternatives to an expensive bash. Alternative weddings tend to include personalized and cultural elements. What are your thoughts?
photos by jessica oh photography, martina micko photo, and tami melissa photography | rufffled blog
Hipster: creative, quirky, personalized
There seems to be a few things hipster weddings have in common. Like DIY, the term hipster has been used broadly. You will see vintage and rustic elements in hipster weddings. Making the old new and embracing outdoor elements.
This hipster wedding definitely contains rustic elements.
Bohemian: Bohemian Wedding Theme is an eclectic mix of the hippie, nomad and gypsy lifestyle with an artistic flair. Wikipedia uses the terms of free love, adventures, frugality and individuals involved with music, artistic or literary interests.
According to the wedding blog bloomed to last, boho weddings contain 5 elements:
1) Headbands & Flower Wreaths
2) Flowing and relaxed Wedding Dress
3) Mix & Match flowers, centerpieces, dishware, etc.
4) Lots of the outdoor & nature inspiration
5) A touch of whimsy
Which style fits you? What elements do you want to incorporate into your wedding day? Whatever you decide know that you don’t have to stick to any label. Have fun, make it yours and enjoy your special day and the years to come.
As a successful wedding professional, I get the unique chance to become associated with top-notch providers in every event category. This allows me to reach out to a one vendor each month and ask them the tough questions you are wanting the answers to.
This week I feature Kathlee Akers, CEO of Beau Tied Events in a candid discussion of how creativity and experience plays a major role in producing a success event. We tap into the importance of inspiration and love for your job. Also, expanding into how trends influence both brides and planners, as sites like Pinterest and Etsy have allowed brides to express themselves more openly.
Thomas McGregor: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions today!
Kathlee Akers: Thanks for asking!
TM: So I know you love what you do, it shows. So tell me, where did the inspiration come from to start planning weddings and events?
KA: I planned my own wedding, which I think is a common theme I hear a lot. I guess because you don’t really get a chance to plan weddings until you do your own, it never even really occurred to me I could do it, though I had always been interested. When I did my own, I became compulsive about learning as much as I could, and about the design behind it all. I was definitely interested in doing it long term, from the beginning, and started taking classes right after I got engaged.
TM: Was there something specific that sparked your interested, after doing your own wedding?
KA: The design aspect, first and foremost, and then the rigid organization and planning. I’m very detail-oriented, so that fit me to a ‘T’.
TM: Have you always been detailed-oriented?
KA: It was something I had to reign in as I got older. I was always a really creative kid, always putting on plays and writing stories, and I would lose myself in my projects and my imagination, often to the chagrin of my parents. When I went to college and was able to focus intently on things that I felt passionate about– design, literature, etc., I saw that side really come out. I really wanted to be successful, so I became very focused on any and all details that would add to that.
TM: And would you deem that hyper-focusness a requirement for success in the category of event planning?
KA: Absolutely. And I don’t think you can fake it. You have to be 100% focused and in love with this job to make it work, because you have to care as much about the details as your bride would.
TM: And as a result, would you agree there is a personal reward to the results you produce?
KA: Yes. I get very close to my brides over the course of a year, I often become their confidantes and friends and therapists, even. So when their wedding day comes, and they give me a hug and tell me how thankful they are I was there for them, it’s hugely rewarding. It’s sometimes hard to part with them after the fact and maybe sometimes… I don’t… haha we remain pen pals.
TM: Well then that would be a bitter-sweet reward of your job, which is arguably the best kind.
TM: Now, as many of the readers may not know; there is a constant shifting in trends in the wedding industry. Can you elaborate as to how you have need to adjust to the changing trends throughout the years? What has changed in style, tastes and the way you have approached each event?
KA: I really try to stay away from anything too topical or too trendy, because I feel like it dates weddings within 5 years. Obviously, there’s a huge DIY shift that’s happened in the wedding industry since, and undoubtedly due to the recession, which I found has creatively really inspired brides to see something they love and do it themselves instead of hiring someone. It also has given me a bit more creative freedom with design. Also with Pinterest that DIY wedding aspect has exploded.
TM: So, the shift has taken place mainly via the online collaboration through sites like Pinterest and Etsy?
KA: I think it’s been two-fold. I think that sites like Pinterest and Etsy saw an opportunity with the explosion of DIY culture, and that culture then has propelled Pinterest and Etsy into simple crafting and inspiration sites to wedding planning staples. All my brides use them for either planning or decor purposes.
TM: Very interesting! And would you say that has enabled your brides to be more hands through the designing process?
KA: I think that brides, since forever, have secretly or quietly done DIY projects themselves because it’s more affordable–not everybody has the money to buy the most expensive invitations, for example, but you can certainly fake it–but it’s now become “cool” to DIY your own wedding. I think with the recession, a lot of brides knew that they were going to have to do a lot themselves, and did so proudly. That’s why I love DIY brides, it’s a very can-do tough attitude, with a whole lot of love, and they’re a joy to work with. I was–and am– a DIY bride so I get it.
TM: So this shift in trends to more of a DIY approach as allowed brides to feel more empowered to do what they have always done, due to economic reasons?
KA: Yeah, I think so.
TM: As a result, what has been some of the strangest requests you have been asked by brides, mothers or second cousins?
KA: Haha! This will be tough, I certainly don’t want to offend anyone.
TM: We are all friends here.
KA: Oh! I have a good one– and this bride is totally lovely and it ended up being one of my favorite (albeit strangest) requests. I had a bride who wanted to do her wedding backwards! She had cocktail hour, and greeted guests in her dress as they came in, and then they ate dinner, did toasts, and then got married at sunset, around 8:15 PM. Then they had their first dance. It was so cool; casual, and relaxed. There was no pressure, no jitters… it was fun!
TM: Considering the way you just described it, maybe you’ll set a trend of weddings performed backwards.
KA: I hope so, I’d love to do it again!
TM: So we are reaching the end of our time, but I want to ask you one final question regarding your experience thus far with event planning. In hindsight, what would you have loved to know as a planner setting out on her first wedding?
KA: Bring more safety pins? Haha. No, true, but I’m kidding. I think I would want to relax a bit more. I think I was so stiff the first wedding I did, I was so laser-focused on making sure everything was perfect, that when things did go wrong, I let it bother me more than it should have. Now, I expect the unexpected as part of the job. I’ve realized it’s not my fault, but that it’s my opportunity to make things right. Knowing that things are going to go wrong that are out of your control is a huge part of this industry, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts and ability to fix problems that come up, so I don’t fear it anymore. Oh, and to LAUGH and enjoy yourself in the midst of it!
TM: So you have developed a sense of fearlessness founded on the knowledge that anything can happen and it’s up to you to turn the debacle into a opportunity for success?
KA: More or less. I take a lot of pride in solving problems, and have solved a LOT of problems, but I also know that some things may be completely out of my control. Essentially, it’s taking pride in knowing that I do my best every wedding, and I try to make the best out of every situation. If I can save the day, I will!
TM: That perspective is refreshing, as many might disintegrate under stress.
TM: As a bonus, tell us your plans for the future!
KA: I’m taking a more one-on-one creative approach with brides in the next year. I no longer plan on doing month-ofs, I really feel a huge benefit from working with a bride over the course of the entire engagement, both for creative and technical purposes.
TM: Would you consider that a unique approach in the planning space?
KA: I’m not sure, there are a lot of planning companies that do
design, but the main focus of their business is to do many weddings over the course of a year, and work out logistics, make sure everything’s on track, etc. I’ve never really had that approach– I really enjoy working one-on-one with fewer clients over the course of a year, with more of a design focus. I, of course, would work out details and logistics too, but I really enjoy helping brides find vendors, choose florals, pick out invites, I just feel the event is more cohesive and flows more smoothly.
TM: Well, I can speak freely when I say just like your approach to stress is refreshing, so is your approach to client service. It seems that you are services oriented, detailed and creative-focused, with an open mind to requests(even if it means doing a wedding in reverse) of each bride per their individually unique styles?
KA: Yes, that’s right.
TM: I want to thank you for taking time to speak with me today!
Wedding planning can be complicated and time consuming. Try to avoid putting it off because you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re rushed making decisions. With the help of this 12 month wedding planning schedule you’ll have it planned the way you want it in no time.
Planning Tip # 1: Planning Tip # 1: Haven’t quite stowed away $20,000 for your dream wedding? Start saving now. Open a savings account with your fiance that can directly deposit a set amount, perhaps 10-20% of your income into the account each month.
Planning Tip # 2: Create a collage of wedding dress style you like before you go shopping (Pinterest is a great tool for this). Do your make up and hair similar to how you’ll want it for the big day so you will get a better idea of what you will look like walking down the aisle.
Planning Tip # 3: If your chosen venue doesn’t provide everything needed for the celebration, check out the International Special Events Society. You can search more than 5,000 professionals and you’ll find experts in every area.
Planning Tip # 4: If you aren’t sure of the proper way to word your invitations, or are dealing with a situation like divorced or deceased parents, consult Crane’s Wedding Blue Book for invitation guidelines.
Planning Tip # 5: The groom can wear anything of his choice as long as he can be distinguished from the groomsmen. The three most common choices are a tuxedo for formal late afternoon, a morning suit with cutaway jacket, or a standard business suit in black gray or brown. (And I would add military dress uniform for military weddings).
Planning Tip # 6: If you are writing your own vows use a tone that fits you. Don’t include deep passages just because you think it’s how it’s supposed to sound. Feel free to add a touch of human “I vow to become less cranky in the morning.”
Planning Tip # 7: When you have your final fitting, bring along your undergarments, shoes, jewelry, veil and any other accessories you plan to wear. If you’re deciding between a few different sets of accessories bring along a camera as well.
Planning Tip # 8: To ensure your photographer gets the best shot, give him good and bad photos of both of you prior to the wedding so he or she knows which angles work for you and which don’t. (And I would add: do an engagement shoot with your wedding photographer).
Planning Tip # 9: You and your fiance should sit down and select not only the first dance song but the tone of the party with all your favorite tunes. Make sure to include a “do not play” list so the “Electric Slide” doesn’t pop out of nowhere.
Planning Tip # 10: Ideas for figuring out the order of your wedding party without causing any tension: by height, by alphabetical order, by how long you have known them without regard to how close you are, or leave the decision up to the wedding coordinator and have nothing to do with it!
Planning Tip # 11: The rehearsal dinner can be less formal than the wedding reception, so have fun with it! Invite your close family, your wedding party, their dates as well as out-of-town guests who have traveled a long way to be with you. It’s a great way to introduce everyone before the actual ceremony.
Planning Tip # 12: After a year of planning and prepping the little details won’t seem to matter because by the end of it you married the person you love. Try to take in and remember how you felt over everything else.
When it comes to wedding spending, bridal couples are tightening their sashes and cummerbunds. Since it peaked in 2007, the cost of the average American wedding has fallen by nearly a third, from $29,000 to $20,000, according to the Wedding Report.
Fortunately, couples are discovering that it’s easy to cut wedding costs without skimping on food or subjecting guests to cash bars. Here are their top strategies:
Don’t Say ‘Wedding’
When getting quotes from reception venues, bakeries, florists and other vendors, tell the manager that you’re planning a party or an event, but leave out the “w” word. “If you don’t mention the word ‘wedding,’ the price is often 25 (percent) to 30 percent cheaper,” says Alan Fields, co-author of “Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Planning a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget.”
He notes that one Boston television station had reporters call 11 venues and get quotes for a wedding reception. Later, they asked for the price for a retirement party on the same date. Eight out of 11 had a “marriage markup” — in one case from $65 to $90 per person. “In their defense, catering managers say that people don’t drink as much at corporate parties, but I’m not so sure that accounts for all the difference,” says Fields. Fields notes that many reception halls have several different menu packages, so he recommends requesting all of them to get the range.
Florists and bakeries also have discretion with pricing. “We have had florists admit that when they see people wearing a large engagement ring and driving a BMW, they start suggesting the exotic orchids that need to be flown in from Hawaii. But if you don’t look like you’re having a wedding, they won’t go over the top,” says Fields.
Have your reception in a restaurant
When you have dinner at your favorite restaurant, the bill doesn’t come with a rental fee for the table, chairs, napkins and wine glasses. There is no surcharge for the candlelight and flowers on the table. It’s all covered in the price of the meal. The same principle applies when you’re buying dinner for 200 — the price of all those soup spoons and salad forks is included, and there is no fee for transportation and setup — everything is already there. Plus, free parking!
“During the recession, many restaurants have tried to focus on special events, and many will hold private functions and do it very affordably — even if you rent the entire restaurant,” says Fields.
Lynn Truong, managing editor of the frugal-living blog Wise Bread, treated her 200 wedding guests to a 10-course meal at a Chinese restaurant. The cost: $55 per person — with no extra charges like cake-cutting or corkage fees. “There’s no beating the price for a Chinese wedding banquet, and the food is delicious,” she says.
If you can’t afford a band or disc jockey — or simply want to spend the money on your honeymoon — make a playlist on your MP3 player and rock the house for free!
Event planner Sara Gaum, owner of vendorbar.com in Boston, recommends appointing a friend or relative to monitor the music and cue up the first dance and other highlights. The playlist should have a good mix of music that will appeal to all generations, and the music should be timed properly, with lower-key cocktail music during the first couple of hours. “No one will want to hear Lady Gaga while you’re still eating dinner,” says Gaum.
Time it Right
If you get married during the off season — from Nov. 1 to March 31 — you’ll be able to get better rates for venues, photographers, officiates, bands and the like. You’ll also pay less if you steer clear of Saturday night.
Mariesa Stokes of Birmingham, Ala., cut her costs by a third by getting married on a Sunday. “Since it was a holiday weekend, our guests had Monday to travel,” she says.
Use nontraditional retailers
Buy your wedding rings at Costco? Fields says that warehouse stores sell more than just pallets of canned tuna and paper towels; they are also a great source for rings, cakes, favors and flowers. “It doesn’t sound very romantic to buy an engagement ring at Costco, but who cares? It’s a diamond engagement ring. It looks very nice, and it’s 30 percent less than it would be a retail jewelry store,” he says.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are micro-vendors, artisans and craftspeople who sell their rings, headpieces and invitations directly to couples through sites like Etsy, often at a fraction of what major retailers charge.
Once again, the key is to avoid stores that cater to bridal couples. Many brides have discovered that buying their wedding dress from everyday retailers like Ann Taylor and J.Crew means paying hundreds, rather than thousands, for the garment. One Seattle bride bought an ivory dress at a shop that catered to bridesmaids and mothers — it was across the street from a high-end bridal shop — and paid less than $200. “Add a veil and you’d never know it was not a wedding gown!” she says.
Why do couples do an engagement photo shoot? There are lots of reasons. First, the engagement shoot is a good way to become familiar with being in front of the camera before one’s wedding day. By having an engagement photo shoot the wedding photographer gets to familiarize herself with the best angles and poses for the couple. The couple and wedding photographer get to know each other which puts the couple at ease because they know what to expect during their wedding day. Another reason for an engagement session is to have images for Save the Date announcements and other keepsakes.
I’ve compiled a list of the top ten engagement photo ideas from some talented photographers. Themed engagements
You can get really creative with your engagement pictures. Some talented couples have created engagement photos based on their favorite movie or love story. How about the Notebook? Or Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
photo by axioo Personalized
Adding a personalized element to an engagement session is sure to make the moment memorable. Maybe you enjoy picnics in the park or hanging out in an old pickup truck. These are great things to include in your photos.
photo by eric boneske Quirky
It’s fun to add quirky and off-beat elements to an engagement photo. It could be anything from a love of stuffed animals to video games or something random like giant bears.
photo by ann-kathrin koch Adventurous
The more images showing the happy couple in action doing things they love the better! Playing in the snow, hiking, and enjoying a carnival ride are a few ideas.
Nothing beats the adventure of a nice location. Fun and authentic location ideas are a carnival, a pier, a city or state landmark, and a winery.
photo by eric bonske photography Include best furry friends
It’s so much fun to include one’s pets in engagement photos. Pets seem to bring out the best in everyone.
photo by justin battenfield
You can incorporate your school spirit by wearing t-shirts with your alma mater’s logo or getting some shots on campus at certain landmarks like a lecture hall.
photo by erin j. photography
You may want to channel your inner Elvis and Priscilla by taking a trip to the 50’s. Adding vintage elements is a fun way to bring some attitude to your photos. Popular vintage themes are eras like the 40’s and 50’s. Incorporating colors, fashion and accessories to reflect the vintage theme is a good start.
photo by leah moss photography Chalk Art
Incorporating art in your engagement photos is a nice touch. Art adds variety so your photos are unexpected and fun. Chalk is fun because you can use it to draw on almost anything and wipe it off when you’re done. It’s a great way to get creative!
Save the Date
What is the deal with save the dates? You may wonder why you need them since formal invites are sent out later. Save the dates are a good idea because it helps to set the date for everyone and solidify the planning process; you’ll likely get more positive RSVP’s. Guests can plan far in advance, since save the dates are sent out 6-9 months prior to the wedding date. And most guests enjoy receiving a save the date.
Learning this song by the great pop-rock group, Coldplay was so much fun! The connection for me was that the song already has strings in it. This allow for there to be a solid string platform to step off from and then carry the vocal line into the piece.
I look forward to learning more Coldplay in the future!