10 Game-Changing Tips From a Professional Wedding Planner
Planning a wedding and don’t even know where to begin? Or maybe you’ve been planning your wedding for awhile and want to make sure you’ve checked absolutely everything off your list. This post of game-changing wedding planning tips is for you!
Pretty much every little girl grows up fantasizing about her wedding day. The color of the bridesmaids’ dresses, the style of her dream venue, the mountains of flowers surrounding her as she makes her way down the aisle toward her teary-eyed soulmate… It’s all a magical, dreamy fairytale, right?! Well, yes, except that Pinterest-perfect weddings are not always the reality. And weddings actually cost a lot of money. Oh, and they also take an average of 250 hours to plan (say what?!).
The initial bliss of engagement can quickly be shut down by the realities of planning a wedding in the 21st century. Things aren’t as simple (or inexpensive) as they used to be, and Hollywood movies such as Bride Wars, The Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses, and Bridesmaids don’t do us any favors in terms of our expectations. But before you send yourself into a tsunami of stress and sheer panic, allow me to introduce you to wedding planner extraordinaire Sarah Meduna!
Sarah is the owner and CEO of Styled in White Events, a premier wedding and event planning company providing luxury service to clients throughout the entire U.S.! When it comes to wedding planning, Sarah is going to be your new best friend. She has allllll of the insider tips and tricks from budgeting, to organization, to vendor communication, and more!
So, for those of you who are in the middle of planning your big day, here are 10 game-changing wedding planning tips from a professional wedding planner!!
1. Be realistic about what you can and cannot handle.
There are a few select people who are able to plan their wedding 100% on their own, but most need some level of help from a professional (even if it’s just on the day of). The average wedding takes 250+ hours to plan, and when you really break that down, that’s a lot of time that you are spending sending out emails, setting up consultations, reviewing contracts, negotiating prices, etc. Not to mention, you most likely have a career, family, friends, and personal life to balance with your new full-time “job” of wedding planning, so at some point, something’s gotta give (and we don’t want it to be your sanity!).
Before diving head-first into the planning process, ask yourself these questions: Do I have the time to commit to planning this all by myself? Do I have the energy? Do I have the knowledge or skill set? How much will this affect my mental health and relationships? Is it worth seeking a professional planner who can take this stress off of my shoulders so that I can simply enjoy being a bride?
If the answers are no, then start looking for a wedding planner! They are going to be your biggest asset if you’re looking to get some things off your plate. However, if you’d rather do things yourself (or an amazing planner comes with your venue) those are options too. It’s really about finding what works best for you and your bride style.
2. When delegating tasks, make sure that you are upfront with your desires and expectations
It is totally normal (and super helpful) to delegate parts of your “to-do” list to your fiancé, mom, sister, future in-laws, or bridesmaids. However, when you do this, it is vitally important that you are honest and firm with what you want and what you want for your big day! After all, this wedding is about you and your fiance, so your opinions are the ones that truly matter.
3. Get organized immediately
I cannot stress this enough – do not delay the process of getting organized for all that is wedding planning! I highly recommend purchasing a wedding planner or binder, creating a Google Drive where you and your fiance can share important lists and documents, and going through a checklist that will take you step by step through planning this event.
Once you have figured out everything that you need to do, separate those tasks by month (depending on how long your engagement is). This next step is very important, so listen carefully – only focus on this month’s tasks! I repeat – do not skip ahead and overwhelm yourself with trying to do absolutely everything within the first two weeks of being engaged! I know it’s easy to get excited, but you’ll thank me for this in the long run.
4. When it comes to budget, always aim for the lower end of the spectrum
Put simply, weddings are expensive. Figure out your budget first and foremost. But realize that, even if you are extremely organized and prepared, there will most likely be costs that pop up on the backend that you weren’t expecting. For that reason, it is always best to have a budget range in mind, and stick to the lower end if you can! And if you do end up with some leftover cash that you want to put toward the day, you can add small details (like a champagne wall, a lounge setup, or a late-night snack for your guests) that will totally elevate your event.
5. Divide your priorities into must-haves vs. nice-to-haves
Before you go spending all of your money on live painters and a Rolls-Royce getaway car, make sure that you have the basics figured out (you know, food, venue, photographer, planner, those kinds of things!). I always help my clients split everything that they want into “must-have” and “nice-to-have” columns. Then, we prioritize and go through those columns and order them from most to least important. If photography is the most important thing to you, great! Let’s start with that and make sure that we get exactly what you want before moving on to the things you don’t care quite as much about.
By doing this, I find that, more often than not, my clients are able to have just about everything that they originally put on their list! The only difference is that they have allocated more of their budget to what is important, and then we get creative with the fun, extra stuff.
6. Don’t DIY yourself into hating your wedding
A little louder for the people in the back! Trust me, I get it. I love a good DIY as much as the next girl (and to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a little do-it-yourself here and there!). But what a DIY will save you in money, it will cost you tenfold in energy and stress (this includes hiring what I call “friendors” or assigning large tasks to family members). Again, I recommend writing everything down in order of importance, and be sure that you hire a professional for the things at the top of your list.
7. Cut the cake BEFORE serving dinner
This is such a game-changer in terms of flow (and the amount of leftovers you’ll have at the end of the night!). Right after your grand entrance to the reception, head over to the cake table with your new hubby (or wifey!) instead of sitting down at the head table. Have your DJ announce that you will be doing your cake cutting for anyone who wants to watch, and get right down to it! Cutting your cake before serving dinner means that the guests will be able to eat the cake sooner, which means that they won’t be waiting around for it and forgetting about it later, which means that the guest experience will be *chef’s kiss.* Plus, you won’t be taking home seven whole boxes of cake at the end of the night because you cut the cake too late and nobody ate it.
8. Number your RSVP cards.
Whoever came up with this trick is a true genius. As you are sending out your invitation suites, write a number on the back/bottom corner of the RSVP card. Then, make a Google Doc or Excel sheet with corresponding names to those numbers! That way, if someone forgets to write their name on the RSVP card (or if you can’t read their handwriting), you’re not left trying to guess who is and isn’t coming to the wedding.
9. Do your bouquet and garter toss (if you’re doing one) at the beginning of the reception vs. halfway through.
Yet another game-changer in terms of flow and guest experience! No one wants the vibe of the best dance party in history to be killed by the garter toss, and the DJ has worked hard to get that energy and atmosphere going! So, if you’re going to do one, instead of interrupting the party and clearing the dance floor halfway through the night, get the bouquet and garter toss over with right after the dedication dances at the very beginning of the reception.
Bonus!! If you are looking for more ways to shorten up the awkward, wait-for-the-dance-floor-to-open timeframe, combine your mother/son and father/daughter dedication dances into one. And always have your DJ or band shorten the mother/son and father/daughter dances to around 1 minute, no longer.
10. Do a fake “grand exit.”
Let’s say you want to do a classic sparkler exit with all of your family and friends surrounding you, but you only have your photographer and videographer for eight hours, and the reception doesn’t end until midnight. Instead of trying to capture that special moment on someone’s phone with your 15 (probably drunk) college friends left partying at the end of the night, stage a fake “grand exit” earlier in the evening!
Once the sun goes down, have your DJ announce that you will be doing a fake exit for photos, but that the party will resume immediately after. By doing this, you are going to save yourself hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in extended hourly fees from vendors, your photos will look more full because very few guests have left the reception, and everyone will probably still be relatively sober, which makes for much better footage of a very special moment.
I hope that these tips have helped you get organized and prepare for your wedding planning experience! There’s a lot more where these tips came from, so if you have any questions or would be interested in working with us, don’t hesitate to reach out via our contact form on our website!