This is my first “Wise Wedding Words” blog, so I was thinking, “What do I really want to say to folks?” Weddings represent the most money that most people ever spend on a party, so you want to spend it wisely, and get the most “bang for your buck”, especially in these days.
So here are a few things to know about the wedding industry:
1. Wedding magazines tend to feature businesses because they advertise with them, not because they’re necessarily the best in their fields.
2. Be sure you “click” with your photographer personality wise (no pun intended.) You’ll be with this person your entire wedding and reception and if they have something that annoys you a little when you first meet them, imagine how much that will annoy you when you’re nervous. Austin is blessed with many wonderful photographers, doing all sorts of work. Don’t work with a prima donna- there are nice people doing that work, too. You’re doing the photographer a favor by employing him or her, the photographer isn’t doing you a favor by taking your money and shooting your wedding.:) Be SURE your wedding photographer has shot some weddings professionally, and ask to see the photos and to talk to a couple of clients. (You want to know how the photographer does at the wedding.) Ask, too, how the photographer will dress at the wedding. If everyone is formally dressed, you don’t want your photog in pants and a white shirt, or wearing shoes that click across the floor with every step he or she makes. Ask if the photog has shot in that or a similar venue before.
3. If you’re hiring an independent wedding coordinator, be sure of what you need before you sign a contract. At many churches, you’re required to use their wedding director for the rehearsal and wedding, so you may not need to pay for a person to be there for those. Be sure, too, that your coordinator knows what he or she is doing. Ask how many weddings they’ve done PROFESSIONALLY as a coordinator. Ask their background- you’re hiring a very important professional, you need one who is not only on the same page as you, but one who can handle crises. Ask about problems that have occurred in the past and how they were handled. If they tell you they’ve never had a crises, run, don’t walk, away. They either haven’t go enough experience, or they’re not telling the truth. Something unexpected happens at just about all weddings, and you need to know how they can handle it.
4. Don’t let anyone push you around, but do be considerate of others. If you’ve got a pushy bridesmaid, sister, mother, etc. sit them down and remind them this is you and your fiancé’s wedding, not theirs, but do it in a nice way.
5. There is no one you “HAVE to have in your wedding. If you’re not close to siblings, they don’t have to be your attendants. If your father abandoned you years ago, he also abandoned the right to walk you down the aisle. He doesn’t have an automatic right to this. That said, if one of your parents is remarried, even if you can’t stand the person, honor your parent and do that that step parent a flower- it can be smaller, but don’t put your parent in the position of being pulled in two directions unless you just have to. (Say, the new wife is the reason for the divorce, well, things are different then!)
6. Get the nicest gown you can afford, but don’t go into debt for it. There are some terrific seamstresses here who can make a wedding gown for you, too, often for much less than the big name designers. Don’t let anyone talk you into a gown you don’t like or in which you don’t feel comfortable.
7. Think about sustainability. You can get invitations that are made from repurposed paper now. Ask about your flowers being recycled- either to hospitals (there are services for that) or even into a compost pile. Don’t let them just go into a dumpster!
8. Invitations: Get nice ones, they should project the “feel” of your wedding. If you’re having a very formal wedding, then go for formal invitations, if it is a fun out at the ranch one, the less formal, brighter colors are great. www.Alegras.com
has beautiful invitations and they’re very helpful.
9. Have the nicest wedding you can afford, but don’t go into debt for it. Conversely, don’t invite more than you can afford. There are some things you really do need professionals for- photography is one of those. People who take great photos who are friends are NOT wedding photographers. They are not used to working under the tight time constraints that happen at weddings. Your friends usually will get to talking and drinking, and then important photos get missed. Good photographers range for ~$800 and on up to as much as you like. Some are bare bones- shoot and hand you a disk and some shoot, touch up shots and create incredible albums for you that become a family heirloom.
10. Videography- this is definitely the icing on the cake. We love to watch our video on our anniversary, and we made copies of our video to send to relatives who couldn’t attend. Our little girl LOVES watching our video. Even if your budget it too tight to afford a professional videographer, at least set up a video to shoot the entire wedding and important parts of the reception. You won’t have a beautiful video, but you’ll at least have a video recording of an important family occasion.
11. Flowers- Martha Stewart “taught” everyone that any fool could do flowers, and it is true that just about anyone can take a bunch of flowers and drop them in a vase and make them look OK. Wedding flowers, however, are specialized. You want the flowers open to the perfect stage, bouquets and personal flowers that are perfect. And, of course, you want your manicure to look great at your wedding. If you do the flowers, then prepare for your hands to be a mess for your wedding- flowers are hard on hands! When I do a wedding, I bring most flowers in on Monday, and then recut and reprocess every day until they are at the perfect point of openness, and then they go into my floral cooler, to hold them there at that point. Cut back on the number of flowers and let a professional do them. You’ll be happier and WAY less stressed. If you want to do something, make the bows for pew markers. Ask about problems they’ve had and how they’ve handled them- again, if they say they’ve never had a problem, don’t believe them, and don’t hire them! If you give your floral designer a color palate, along with the flowers you love and the ones you hate, and then leave it to your designer, you’ll have prettier bouquets than if you dictate every single kind of flower that needs to be in the bouquets.
12. Party Favors are nice, and if you’ve got the budget, by all means, go for them. They range from lovely things to eat (chocolate covered pecans, anyone?) to silver picture frames to fans (a necessity if you’re got an outside wedding anytime from April-October in Texas) to candles and on and on- the list is endless. (www.favorsyoukeep.com is a good source.) If you’re on an extremely limited budget, either dispense with the favors, or do something very inexpensive you can do well in advance, like making up little baggies of Hershey’s “hugs” and “kisses.”
13. Cakes-If you’re doing a bride’s and a groom’s cake- get enough servings for 1 ½ times the number of people expected. Many cake bakers try to get you to do enough for everyone to have a piece of both, but very few people do that, and then you end up with a lot of (expensive) cake left over. On the top layer- freeze it but eat it on your one MONTH anniversary. By one year, no cake tastes good. Order a small cake of the same flavor for your first anniversary.
14. Music: Live music is best for the ceremony- that way, it is easy for musicians to phrase off, instead of someone abruptly cutting off recorded music. For the reception, DJ’s are usually less expensive than a band. If using a DJ, decide on how many “bells and whistles” you want- the more, the more $$.
15. Food: Depending on the time of day, you may serve anything from light snacking to a full dinner. Check with your venue about catering- can you bring your own in, or are you required particular ones. If they require only certain ones, ask if they get a commission or other fee from them. You need to know if folks are referred because they’re really good, or because they’re paying the venue folks to refer them.
16. Wedding Night- instead of a big expensive hotel, look for a vacation rental in your town (www.VRBO.com) has great homes all over the world. That way, you have all the privacy you want. Spend a night or two there, relaxing, before leaving for your honeymoon. That way, too, you can attend a brunch the next day after your wedding with all our out of town friends and relatives you’ve not seen in a while.
17. LISTEN to your wedding professionals! They’ve seen it all, and what may sound wonderfully romantic may be something with which they’ve had experience and can give another perspective on that idea that may turn out to be such a great idea.
After 30+ years of working in the Wedding Industry, I could go on and on about things to watch for, but I think this is a good basic list. I hope to update my blog weekly, so be sure to check back. If you’ve got questions you’d like for me to answer, send them to me at kathi@KathiThomasDesign.com and I’ll answer in my blog.