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Wedding TipsPage 5 of 19Prev   Next

Should You Hire a Wedding Planner?

Publish On 2014-07-09 , 1:57 PM

A common question that comes up in the early stages of planning a wedding is “should I hire a wedding planner?” If you are planning a fairly sizable wedding, have time constraints of your own, or would simply prefer to delegate some of the work to a professional to handle, a wedding planner may be a great fit for you.



While there will of course be a fee for your coordinator’s services, wedding planners can often negotiate discounts from the vendors they work with regularly. If negotiating is not your cup of tea, why not let someone do it for you? In fact, they money saved on reduced vendor rates can sometimes outweigh your planner’s fee and actually end up saving you money in the end.

If you do decide to hire a wedding planner, here are some questions you might ask him or her:


  • How long have you been working as a wedding coordinator?
  • How many weddings do you plan throughout a typical year?
  • What do your services include? Can you help me secure vendors and contracts, and then be there on my wedding day to coordinate everything? Can you offer creative wedding ideas based on my vision for the day?
  • Do you have a portfolio of past weddings or events that I can look at?
  • Ask around for recommendations from any recently married friends, or talk with hotel or catering managers for names of wedding planners in your area.


Depending on your particular requirements, coordinators may charge a flat fee or an hourly fee for their services, and some may charge a percentage of the total budget for the wedding.

Full-service wedding planners will be with you every step of the way, contracting vendors, providing advice and pulling everything together, where as “day-of coordinators” will just be there on your wedding day to oversee the event. As a third option, you may want to just hire a wedding consultant for a few hours or more to get help with creating a budget, developing a timeline of events and to answer all of your miscellaneous wedding planning questions over a meeting or two.


Helpful Tips

Some hotels and other wedding venues will provide a wedding coordinator to work with you at no additional cost. While you may be a bit more limited in terms of the specific vendors you can book through them, this can save you some money and you should inquire about this service when you sign the rental contract for your venue. Your ceremony venue (if separate) may provide some type of coordinator as well.


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Planning the Rehearsal Dinner

Publish On 2014-07-21 , 2:26 PM

Of all of the potential pre-wedding events that couples typically plan, the rehearsal dinner is arguably the most common get together associated with the big day. Its function is twofold: to celebrate the following day’s wedding with a more intimate gathering of just the closest family and friends, and, as a nice tie-in event to follow the ceremony rehearsal which normally takes place the day before the wedding.

The rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents, but it is also common for both sets of parents to host the event, or for the bride and groom to do so themselves. Whatever the decision, the rehearsal dinner event should be planned just like any other pre-wedding party – with attention to the little things and with an organized plan so as not to leave out any important details.


Rehearsal dinner venue

Once the date and time of the rehearsal dinner is known, the next key decision you’ll need to make is venue. Many couples and families opt to hold the dinner at a favorite restaurant in the area, but you might also consider a less traditional option such as a dinner cruise, festive cookout at home, or any other type of themed event that holds special meaning for you or your family.

If you are considering more than one venue as you narrow down your choices, be sure to jot down some key information on each option including the contact person’s name, phone number, email address, and website, as well as whether the venue has a private dining room, any special decor options, or other requirements you may need (for example, a projection screen if you plan to feature a video or slide show during the event.)

Some final planning ideas

Depending on how formal you decide to make the rehearsal dinner, you may want to consider sending formal invitations out to your invited guests, being sure to include a reply card for RSVPs, any meal choices, and other enclosures including one for venue address and directions. For less formal events, an invitation via email is perfectly acceptable.

Other final items to consider are whether you anticipate needing a formal seating plan for the dinner (which should be planned ahead of time), any planned speeches from the bride or groom’s parents or other family members, and whether you will be distributing any gifts to loved ones during the dinner (this is a common time at which to present gifts to your parents, bridesmaids or groomsmen.)


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6 Wedding Tips for Parents of the Happy Couple

Publish On 2014-07-24 , 2:11 PM

Ways to Make Wedding Planning Easier for Your Kids

Planning a wedding, though wonderful and romantic, can be a very straining process and there are some small things you as a parent can do to make things a little bit easier on the bride and groom. Here we set aside the Emily Post etiquette in favor of an honest look at what the bride and groom really wish their parents would do.

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1. Be up front about finances.

Let me be clear: parents are under absolutely no obligation to contribute cash to their children's wedding. These days, brides and grooms tend to be more financially established and better able to cover the costs of their own weddings. However, parents should feel obligated to initiate the conversation about any contributions they might make to the big day. It is much more awkward to ask for money than to offer it, so your son or daughter might be afraid to bring it up. Early in the engagement, let the couple know if you will contribute, how much, and if it is a gift or a loan.

Not able to make a contribution? Your son or daughter will understand, and are probably already aware of whatever reasons mean you cannot contribute. Simply explain that, although you'd really like to help make their wedding day special, you are not able to contribute money because of x, y, z. You can offer to help make their day special in other ways, perhaps by making the wedding cake if you're a dab hand at baking, hosting the welcome drinks at your home, or simply volunteering to help in whatever way the bride and groom would like. (Keep it general and offer several options to make sure the couple don't feel obligated to take up your offer, for example if they would actually prefer professional baking or another drinks venue.)

2. Offer to help. Regularly.
Weddings are celebrations of love and two people's lives coming together... but they are also hugely stressful, with loads of details to manage and guests to keep happy. It is a lot for two people to handle. Check in regularly with the happy couple to see if they could do with a hand, and especially in the final weeks when the couple will be at their most frazzled. Again, keep it general. A simple "Is there anything you need a hand with?" will be much preferred to a narrower "Let me arrange the invitations for you!," as you're bound to have different tastes, and the couple might already have that area under control.

3. It's not about you.
Yes, this may sound contradictory: offer to help, let the couple know if you can contribute financially, but beyond that? Stay out of it. Even if you are paying for the entire wedding, it is not your day. It is quite likely that you've already had a wedding day of your own that you got to plan your way, so let your children have that opportunity of their own. If you don't feel like you got to have the day you wanted because your own parents or in-laws interfered, do you want your children to similarly resent your involvement? Believe it or not, the bride and groom have thought through every aspect and arrived at the decision they feel as best for them. As mentioned, wedding planning is already stressful enough; do not make what should (in theory) be a lovely experience any more negative by meddling.

Listen carefully when speaking to the bride and groom about their wedding preparations to hear if they are actually asking for your opinion; if they are not, don't give it. When your child shows you something for the wedding with a grin and says "So what do you think?," the correct answer is "It's wonderful!" When they ask with a skeptical look on their face, "No, really -- what do you think?," then give your opinion (though be considerate about it).

4. Avoid family politics.
Do not drag the couple into the middle of family politics, and -- if anything -- keep them well away from it. If your daughter has asked her birth father to give her away rather than her step-father, respect that decision -- she would have already given this a lot of thought before arriving at her decision. Feuding aunts? Keep the couple out of it, though discreetly advise them to seat those aunts apart. Don't get along with your ex, or your ex's new partner? Put your differences aside for one day and make an effort to get along -- no one wins when there's a fight at a wedding.

Also, during the wedding preparations and especially on the wedding day (and hopefully beyond the wedding day), make an active effort to get along with your child's new in-laws. There is nothing the happy couple would like to see more than all their parents getting along on their special day.

5. Get outfit approval.
Before you decide on wedding day attire, run your outfit by the happy couple -- especially the bride. There are online wedding forums out there full of brides wondering how to tell their mothers that they don't actually want her wearing a white outfit to the wedding, or it could be that the couple are aiming for a particular dress code that you as star guests of the wedding should make sure to follow. Certain the suit you wore for your own wedding will be fine to wear? Still check in first. Fathers, feel free to ask if you should feel free to wear a tie in a particular color -- it's a good question for opening up if the couple want the fathers in coordinating ties, buttonholes or whole outfits, or have more casual plans and don't want you in suit and tie at all.

6. Don't embarrass them.
Remember the film The Wedding Planner where Jennifer Lopez's coordinator character had to hide the bride's mother's "lucky microphone" to prevent her from singing (terribly) at the reception? Yeah, don't be that parent. Weddings bring together all types of people from the bride and groom's lives, including school friends and colleagues (maybe even bosses), and -- no matter how easygoing or fun-loving your child is -- there are certain things they definitely do not want shared in front of these people.

If you are asked to give a speech during the wedding reception, try not to embarrass the bride or groom -- or anyone else for that matter. Debating whether or not to include a particular joke or anecdote? Ask the bride or groom. Yes, the bride and groom -- not your partner, not the best man, but the happy couple themselves. (Though if you do actually need to ask, that should be a pretty big hint that it could be something better to edit out.) Keep it clean, keep it inoffensive, and keep it swearing-free. Similarly, keep an eye on your alcohol intake, and not just ahead of your speech. Smashed parents is not a good look for the wedding.


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Paper or Digital for Wedding Planning?

Publish On 2014-07-30 , 3:09 PM

When full-time wedding planning starts to kick in (and you’ll know when it does!), having a plan in place to organize all of the information that’s coming your way will be key to your wedding planning success, particularly if you’re planning the wedding yourself. Bridal show materials have sufficiently piled up, business cards are everywhere, and your guest list has taken on a life of its own.


How do you possibly go about taming this beast that is wedding planning?

Determine your personal work style

First of all, a question: do you work better writing things down and keeping track of names and numbers on paper? Or do you like keeping things organized in electronic format – in your inbox, your calendar or on your smartphone?

For many, it’s a bit of both. You may love technology for all the time it saves – from sending out an email quickly to searching for exactly what you’re looking for on your computer or mobile device (and with any luck, finding it!)

But you might also love the feel of simply taking pen to paper, organizing your various lists over a cup of coffee, and brainstorming to really get things rolling. Sometimes it’s hard to get into that same brainstorming “zone” in front of a computer screen.

These days, couples are highly successful with planning using both methods.

Because there will be quite a bit of data that will become more difficult to keep track of as the months progress, using wedding planning software or an app, or simply creating a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs can definitely help. For example, compiling guest addresses and keeping track of RSVPs on the computer means not having to continually worry about keeping this information current on paper. And after the wedding, you can even print out address labels for your thank you cards from the addresses you’ve captured.

If you aren’t using software or a spreadsheet, you may want to at least start a word processing file for all of your vendor contact info (email addresses, phone numbers, etc.) – when the big day gets close, you can send this file around to all of your vendors so that everyone’s on the same page.

With all of your wedding information contained in just one or two central locations, you’re well on your way to a smooth, stress-free day.


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Wedding Planning: 8 Wedding Planning Tips to Get Organized

Publish On 2014-08-19 , 2:11 PM

Ask any newlywed couple -- even couples that have been married for a long time -- and they'll all say the same thing: The key to a planning successful wedding (read: a wedding that goes smoothly, without any major glitches) is in the planning. Small things go wrong at every wedding. But keep in mind that you can save yourself from migraine headaches and crying spells by making a plan and simply sticking with it. These simple wedding planning tips will help you take some of the stress away (or at least minimize it!).


1. Lose the Laziness

One mistake that many couples make is basking in the glow of their engagement until 4-6 months before their wedding date. Then they try to cram all of the planning into a too-short period of time. Of course you should just sit back and be thrilled about your engagement for a while, but then you've gotta get cracking!

2. Buy a Calendar or Datebook
Once you determine your wedding date, set specific dates by which you want to get things accomplished. For example, you got engaged in June, and your wedding date is April 24. On August 31, mark in that you want to have the ceremony location and reception hall reserved. Try to get as much done as possible in the first few months so that the last few months won't be hectic.

3. Set Aside Time
Choose a day of the week when you'll focus on the wedding details, or several days if you're pressed for time. Sit down together and plan. This eliminates confusion -- i.e., the groom thinking he's supposed to call and check on hall rentals when the bride already has it narrowed down to what will suit their needs.

4. Share Duties
This is the best way to get things done. You both should be involved every step of the way. Make a list of details to be taken care of, then divide the list in half. Each of you choose what you want to do. This will make grooms want to be involved, instead of making them feel like they have to help. Sure, your sweetie probably isn't concerned with exactly which flowers you carry. And maybe you're not picky about what tuxedos he and the guys wear (or maybe you are!). But involving your husband-to-be will make him feel that it's his wedding, too -- something he helped plan, not just something he has to show up at. Which brings us to...

5. Talk, Talk, Talk
We can't stress this enough. Be sure that if you're sharing duties that you're also sharing the details. It's okay to take care of certain things by yourself, just make sure you're telling each other about it so the caterer isn't contracted with twice!

6. Be Flexible
Okay. So you really didn't want the groom/ushers in those tails and top hats. And maybe he doesn't want the cake to be lemon with pecan icing (!). Each of you is going to want things that the other doesn't care for, but flexibility is a must. Be willing to bend. If you really object to something, let your objection be duly heard and noted. Just give the other person a chance to explain why he/she really wants to arrive at the reception in a hot tub in the back of the limo.

7. Details, Contracts, and Negotiations
When dealing with wedding professionals (caterers, florists, etc.), be sure to clarify all the details and your expectations during the initial discussions. Make sure you get a contract specifically stating dates, times, and locations. Be sure to include what you feel is appropriate dress, and what you feel isn't. Spell out everything. Try to negotiate the best deal for goods and services, but don't sell yourself short on important things just to get a better price. 
Most importantly, be sure to read the fine print on every contract before you sign it, and make sure you're aware of cancellation policies and fees. Also ask if there's a grace period to cancel just in case you change your mind or something happens and you need to postpone the wedding (you never know).

8. Stay Organized
This one's pretty obvious! The more organized you are, the less chance there is that something will go wrong. Buy a notebook, and keep all your wedding information in it. Receipts, contracts, ideas -- everything. You might also want to get notebooks for your maid of honor/bridesmaids and the best man. Put info such as dates, times, locations, and duties. This will keep everyone organized as well, and minimize the chance of someone missing a fitting date or rehearsal time.


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