I’m now a few months into my engagement and thanks to my Becoming a Bride series, I’ve had the chance to collect advice from a few different wedding planners. For most, a full-time wedding planner is out of the budget (including myself) so read below for these very essential tips from the professionals at a price that will fit anyone’s budget … free!
10. Get It Insured!
Weddings can add up so it’s important to make sure that, like your valuables, if something goes wrong you’re taken care of. Tamera insists you make sure every vendor is insured and bonded. They might not tell you so you’ll need to ask. Many venues require an insurance policy, which can cost about $150-200, but this will protect you and your venue. It may even cover your dress and your vendors in case of disaster – like it doesn’t fit or they cancel!
9. Let Your Family Help … A Little.
Whether it’s your overexcited sister, your overbearing mother, or your overwhelming aunts, you’re bound do have some family member that can’t wait to help you plan your wedding. In fact, they might take over if you’re not careful! Tamera explains that you can find ways to let them have a voice in the parts of the wedding that aren’t as important to you. If you don’t care about the cake or centerpieces, assign it to someone as a special task to make them feel involved. But most importantly, she says, “You need to have a voice in it before you let them have a voice.”
8. Don’t Spoil the Surprise.
When people ask you about your wedding planning, you can just respond, “I’m just starting,” says Tamera. If you share your ideas with everyone, you give them an invitation to give their opinion on what you should and shouldn’t do. And when it comes to weddings, I’ve learned everyone has an opinion. “Learn to shut out those extra voices early. They will learn to respect you early,” she says. Besides, if everyone knows what you’re planning, they won’t be surprised on the big day!
7. A Taste Test is a Must.
DeaNeia told me to never trust a caterer if they won’t set up a tasting before you’ve booked with them. Schedule a time to try several options for menu items. If you’re comparing several caterers, try to do all of the tastings in the same day so it’ll be easier to compare says Tamera.
6. Videographers Are Not Essential.
This has been heavily debated by many people I’ve talked too—married and professionals alike. I’ve talked to those who didn’t have videographers who regretted it and those who did fork over the cash and have never watched their videos. DeNeia backed up my personal idea that photographs will help capture the essence of the moment and are more easily shared and viewed again. Photos are classic and will last forever. She says, “If I have enough in my budget, I’ll do it. I pray that video falls 8 to 10 out of 10 (in the list of priorities) because it’s so expensive.”
5. Your Engagement Session is Your Photographer’s Test Run.
I was debating whether getting engagement photos was worth the price and hassle. DeaNeia explained that they’re important to help you get a sense of the photographer’s style and build a connection. Your photographer is the second most intimate person at your wedding and will be there for all of the most special moments—from getting ready to your first dance. You want your engagement session photos to make you feel like you were there. If you get the photos back and don’t like them, you have time to find another wedding photographer. If you don’t have the test run, it might be too late.
4. Step Away From the Pinterest.
Every wedding professional I’ve talked to has a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. DeNeia explains, “You want all of it, but you can’t have it all. You can’t have cake pops, cake, and a candy bar.” Tamera explains that Pinterest should help inspire you and help you ask the right questions. Don’t show someone a pin and say, “I want my wedding to look like this.” It won’t and it shouldn’t because that’s not your wedding!
Flattery goes a long way. “If there is a vendor you LOVE, but know you cant afford, tell them and see if they are willing to work out a deal. Knowing your budget will help you be a better negotiator, but be realistic,” explained Fallon. Don’t forget to factor in taxes (and gratuity) to a quoted price – a vendor or service could easily become out of budget. You can also ask if there is a discount if you pay in cash or in full. DeNeia also mentioned that a wedding planner can help you negotiate a better rate.
2. Limit Your Choices.
This particular piece of advice has been one of the most helpful to me. There are SO many options to choose from out there that it can become overwhelming and make it difficult to make a decision. Tamera says to look at no more than six venues and arrange to look at them back to back, making them easier to compare. Consider 2-3 florists, no more than 3 photographers, no more than 3 bands, and no more than 2 DJs. And book in this order: venue, planner, catering, photographer.
1. Plan YOUR perfect wedding.
Tamera asks her new brides to tell her about their favorite shoes, their favorite wardrobe ensemble, their favorite color and their favorite restaurant. She doesn’t ask about their color pallet or what they want on their tables. These personal questions will bring out your style. Your wedding should reflect you as people and you as a couple, not a bridal magazine.
See more of my Becoming a Bride series here and keep checking in for more ideas and advice that I gather along the way!