Tips for a Blissful Walk Down the Aisle
Once the initial thrill of being engaged starts to wear off, it’s time to buckle down and start planning the big day. No specific guidelines exist as to the amount of time that it takes to plan a wedding, but you will want to give yourself enough time to put together the day of your dreams. The time frame depend on the details, such as when and where, and who is available to be hired for that date and location. Keep costs in mind as well.
From “Yes” to “I Do”
It takes a typical couple 12 to 18 months to go from engaged to married. The length of time usually depends on a number of factors, such as the season in which you prefer to get married, the availability of your chosen venue, and the dates to be avoided, such as holidays or family events. If you get engaged in June and want an August wedding, for example, you will have to wait about 14 months before you can walk down the aisle.
A longer lead time also can be beneficial when booking your vendors. If you absolutely must have a certain caterer or photographer, for example, he or she may be booked solid for the next year. Check the availability of all your desired vendors before finalizing any dates.
You can plan a wedding in three to six months if you’re in a rush, but in that case, think simple and small. The more details you incorporate, the longer it takes to plan. If you’re flexible on the venue, caterer, photographer and band, then you may be able to pull off a beautiful wedding in a short amount of time.
Manage the Chaos
One of the most exciting, yet chaotic, times in your life is the planning stage of your wedding. Getting a few key details under control from the beginning can help you more easily manage the entire process. The first task is to establish your budget, which will influence everything from the venue choice to the food you serve, to the number of guests you can afford to invite.
Don’t forget about the photographer and florist. Talented wedding photographers get booked up early as well. You’ll want to hire someone who specializes in weddings who can take the best pictures and video without any of your guests even noticing. Flowers are another large expense, but you can keep costs down by choosing flowers that are in season. A florist who is experienced in big events can help you make smart choices for your bouquet, the centerpieces and the overall decorations.
Choose your bridal party early, so the bridesmaids have plenty of time to prepare, especially financially. It can cost $1,000 to $2,000 to be a bridesmaid, depending on the extravagance of the wedding events. Most often, bridesmaids are expected to pay for their dress, shoes, jewelry, travel, accommodations, gifts and the wedding shower. All that can add up quickly, and you need to make sure that your close friends and relatives are up for the task. Find out early in the planning phase if money is a problem for one or more of your bridesmaids. If that happens, consider choosing a less-expensive bridesmaid dress or figure out a way for her to save money on travel and hotel.
Watch That Budget
Not everyone has 10s of thousands of dollars to spend on their wedding, but rest assured, you can still have a beautiful affair even on a budget. The key is to know where to save. Start with cutting down your guest list since food and drink are often the biggest expense. Next, opt for a low-cost venue, such as your parents’ backyard, a state park, a friend’s barn or a beach.
Avoid the prime wedding days and times, such as Saturday night, to get lower prices from vendors. Instead, have a Saturday morning brunch or Sunday noon lunch wedding, which will save money on the venue as well as the food. Recruit your wedding party to make the centerpieces and decorations. Limit the drinks to beer, wine and one signature cocktail to keep the alcohol tab down.
Be aware of hidden or forgotten expenses, including tips for vendors, service fees, stamps for RSVP cards, your hair trial, changes made to your food or floral orders, and overtime for all the vendors if the wedding runs late. Have your guests RSVP by email to save cash. You can even set up an email account for this purpose, such as “seanandjen@gmaildotcom.” Keep a close eye on the clock to avoid overtime and nix any changes to orders already made.
Warm Sun and Tropical Air
Nothing says romantic like getting married on a tropical island. However, planning a wedding from a distance can be tricky. Keeping it simple can save you numerous headaches. The location should be a combination of romantic, personally meaningful and logistically capable for your guests. Make sure an affordable hotel is close to the wedding venue where everyone can stay, or your guest list will be incredibly short.
Match the décor of the venue and reception to the island, which will save money and the chaos of having to import flowers and food not native to the area. Travel to the destination to see the venue and meet all the vendors in person. You may get a great recommendation for a wedding cake baker, but you won’t really know for sure if it’s good unless you taste it yourself.
Remember to take the weather into consideration when deciding bridesmaid’s dresses and hair and makeup choices. If the local climate is particularly hot and humid, for example, make sure you have a makeup artist and hairstylist who know how to deal with these kinds of challenges.
The easiest part of planning a wedding will likely be throwing the engagement party, which is usually done by the bride’s parents, though friends are usually welcome to help. The party is typically held at someone’s home or at a local restaurant or bar. Keep it simple by serving cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, which allows everyone to mingle and get better acquainted.