Planning Your Best Day Ever
Wedding planning. For some, this is a thrilling and exhilarating task. For others, it may be a more daunting, dreaded project. Planning an event such as a wedding requires organization and time management skills. Here are some tips to get you started!
Picking a Date
The first thing to consider when planning a wedding is setting your date. Pick a season, a month, and a few weekends that you have in mind that could potentially work. In addition to choosing a date, consider your venue options for your ceremony and reception. Some venues book up quickly so it’s best to make reservations as soon as you decide. Another important factor in wedding planning is creating a budget. Your budget is something you should establish early on in the planning process, that way you can allot enough money to various parts of your wedding such as the venue, catering and decorations.
Once you’ve locked down your date and dream venue, you can start thinking about your guest list. This may be the most intricate and time consuming part of planning a wedding. Getting an early start on the guest list will help things be more organized and less stressful in the long run. There are several factors to think about when it comes to your guests, such as invitations, flowers, food and alcohol. It is best to make a running list of invited guests to keep track of for catering purposes, for the venue, and for yourself. Take time to sit down with your fiance and create a mutual guest list.
Start shopping for invitations sooner than later! Especially if you're looking for something handmade or are shopping small. Hand made items are made to order for you and are going to take more time than your stock designs that simply print and ship with no assembly or customization. We generally run 4-8 weeks, depending on the time of the year, but some smaller shops can take up to 12 weeks for fully custom suites. Get quotes and plan ahead to see what fits in best with your timeline, budget and style. Your invitations will foreshadow your big day so it’s important to make choices that are a reflection of your wedding!
How far in advance should invitations be sent out to guests?
If you plan to send out save the dates, those are typically sent at least six months in advance to give your guests time to make arrangements to attend your wedding. A formal invitation should be sent six to eight weeks prior to your wedding. Make sure your RSVP date is set at least one month in advance to your big day to guarantee enough time to plan for your guests. This gives you time to coordinate with your vendors to ensure you have an accurate headcount for seating and meal purposes.
How to: Invitation Etiquette and Wording
Wedding invitations should be an accurate portrayal of your big day. Is your event formal and elegant? If so, you’ll likely spell out everything such as dates, times and state names. Maybe your wedding is more simple and casual. In that case, verbiage can be less formal.
In recent years, it has become more common to have an adult only wedding or reception. If you choose to have an adult only event, place it on your invitation and make sure you are polite about it. Another option is to write in how many guests are invited on each RSVP card such as “we have reserved 4 seats in your honor at our adult only wedding reception.” This is a way of ensuring that your guests don’t bring extra people that you didn’t account for while still being respectful.
You can get all our tips on wording your invitations here!
Wedding websites have gained popularity for their convenience and simplicity. If you have a wedding website, you can include that on your details card to limit the information and verbiage included on your inserts. If you choose to utilize a wedding website, it’s best to include the most important information on your invitation and allow your guests to find additional details on your website. Ideas of things to feature on your website: details about wedding events and accommodations, gift registry, engagement photos and information about your bridal party. Your website should be a visual representation of your wedding and invitation, so keep that in mind when creating your website!
Food & Drink
So, how do I choose food and drink options for my reception? Let’s start with alcohol. If you choose to include alcohol at your reception, you will first need to decide if you want to have an open bar, a partially open bar, or a cash bar. It’s a good idea to look over your guest list to figure out what types of alcohol would be best to have at your reception. A tip for calculating alcohol we used to give bride and grooms when I worked at a country club was: two drinks the first hour and one drink per hour after that.
Offering alcohol at your reception means you need to include food for your guests as well. You may choose to have only snacks, appetizers, dinner, or all three, but food is necessary when alcohol is in the picture. One thing to take into consideration when planning your catering needs includes the timeline of wedding events. If your reception falls at dinner time, it is assumed you will serve dinner. If you are NOT providing dinner, your reception needs to take place at the appropriate time. If you plan to serve your guests dinner, it's a good idea to indicate that on your invitation or details card with wording such as “dinner reception to follow.”
The two most common dinner options are Buffet and Plated. A buffet-style dinner is usually more affordable and best-suited for weddings with a significant number of guests. Plated dinners are usually more costly and fancy. Most of the time vendors cannot accommodate a large number of guests and ensure that everyone’s food comes out at the same time and is warm enough, so plated meals are not great for large weddings. If you choose to serve a plated meal, you will want to include dinner options on your RSVP card so that your guests can select a dinner dish of their choice.
Although wedding planning can be stressful, it's important to remember that all the hard work and effort will be worth it when you see your perfect big day come to life! Your to-do list may seem endless now, but keep in mind that you don't have to do everything at this very second. Make sure you prioritize what needs done right away and what can wait.
Whether you hire a wedding planner or not, getting a wedding binder to collect all your thoughts and ideas is a must. This FREE downloadable planner can help you get a head start and relieve some of your wedding planning burdens.
We created this free download to help brides like you get organized. It has tips and etiquette from years of experience in the wedding industry, as well as worksheets for you to get all your great ideas on paper. Did I mention it's free?