wedding tips

Is it okay to have my bridesmaid pay for their dress?

Photo by  Omar Lopez  on  Unsplash

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

This week, we’re continuing the theme of talking bridal party, most particularly your bridesmaids.

A question I’ve received often from brides is whether or not they can have their bridesmaids pay for their dress. The answer to that is “Yes!” 

When you ask your friend to be a bridesmaid, it’s good to have the conversation early on what you intend for the bridesmaids to pay for.  I understand this can be an uncomfortable conversation, but trust me when I say they’ll appreciate knowing up front what they have to pay for rather than them finding out and being surprised and possibly upset later on. One of the most popular reasons someone will decline being a bridesmaid is because of money.  So being upfront with what your bridesmaids will have to pay for will prevent disgruntlement later on. 

Here are expected expenses for your wedding day, you and your bridesmaids will need to be aware of:

  • Dress for the wedding
  • Shoes for the wedding
  • Hair and make up
  • Accessories

Depending on if you want your bridesmaids to have the same “look” meaning same dress style, hair style, nail color, and shoes, you may want them to get their hair and makeup done by the same salon.  

If you like having a variety of looks but say one color scheme and you’re not particular on style then that gives your bridesmaids flexibility on hair, makeup, and shoes. 

And as the bride, it’s okay to have your bridesmaid pay for all of these items.  If your budget can afford you to pay for one of them say hair, makeup, or dress your bridesmaids will appreciate the gesture.  But if your budget doesn’t have room for this then let your bridesmaids know this as soon as possible because they may not have a flexible budget and will need to save up to pay for it.

Also, bridesmaids dresses don’t need to be ordered as early as your wedding dress; however, once you figure out what style of dress you want your ladies to wear, it’s helpful to tell them sooner rather than later, that way they can budget that into their life.  

As a bridesmaid, it’s wonderful to be asked to be a part of a wedding.  The role shows how special your relationship is with the bride, but the cost of being a bridesmaid can definitely add up.  Aside from the items needed for the wedding, you also want to keep in mind your friends are also contributing to your bachelorette as well as gifts for your bridal shower and wedding. So letting your ladies know what they’ll need to pay for, will help make their life and your life a little easier.  The last thing you want is someone backing out last minute because they can’t afford the expenses because they didn't have enough time to budget it in.  

Remember, wedding planning is suppose to be fun.  Yes, it can be stressful, but for the most part, it should be enjoyable.  The last thing you want is to have disagreements and end relationships because of money with your bridesmaids.  So let them know upfront what the cost expectations will be.  In the end, everyone, including yourself will be happy.

Have you chosen your bridesmaids' dresses yet?  Will you be paying for it for them or will they be paying for it themselves?  Have you had the money conversation yet with your bridesmaids?  Share with us below if you have and how the conversation went!

Tips for Creating Your Guest List

Planning your guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning.  Why is that?  Because everyone loves going to weddings.  Seriously.  Rarely do you find anyone not wanting to attend a wedding.

I have been to over 50 weddings in my life so far - weddings I’ve planned, coordinated and attended as a guest.  And to this time, I still don’t tire of them.  There’s something about weddings that make it a fun gathering that people want to be a part of. 

However, whether you are on a limited budget or you have limited space at your venue, deciding who will attend your wedding can be difficult.  Do you want it to be an adult-only wedding?  If you allow kids, should you put a limit as to how many families you invite?  Do you let your parents invite their friends?  Or your siblings invite their friends? Do you need to invite your coworkers?  How about your college friends? High school friends? Childhood friends?  Or how about, the friends whose weddings you've attended, but you haven’t been in contact with them in years?

Feeling overwhelmed yet?  There are so many questions and soo many people.  How do you get a grip on who to invite without wanting to tear your hair out?

Here are my tips for getting organized when it comes to your wedding:

Tip #1: Start a list. Take out a piece of paper and for the next week, you and your fiancé will write down every name of every person you may want to have attend your wedding.  You can open this up to your immediate family as well (especially if you are close to your siblings' friends or consider your parents' friends to be honorary aunts and uncles).  I say take a week because, at your initial writing, there are names you will most definitely forget.  

Tip #2: Know how many people you can invite. Then invite 10% more than that number because anywhere between 10-20% of your invited guests will decline.  

Tip #3: Go to excel or grab three sheets a paper.  I say excel because I like the convenience of it or you can start a sheet in Google docs and it can sort, alphabetize, add/subtract easily. But if you prefer paper and pen grab the three sheets of paper.  Label each sheet “List A - must have, List B - would be great to have, List C - no biggie if they’re not there.” 

Tip #4: Start placing names on each sheet.  This is definitely something for you and your fiancé to do together.  Don’t tackle this alone because you’ll end up putting all your people on List A and his people on List B or C. Haha just kidding.  Maybe not.  But it’s good to do this with your fiancé, especially if there are guests your immediate family want to have there but they end up on List B or C. 

Tip #5: Don't do it all at once. If you try to do it all in one sitting, I guarantee by the time you get to the bottom of the list, you're going to be so drained you won't care what list each person is put on.  So do a little bit, take a break, and come back to it when you can.  Of course, don't put it off for too long; the last thing you want to do is send your invitations last minute. 

Bonus Tip: Look at your List C.  Depending on your relationship with the people in this group, you can save yourself some potential headaches and tell them (in-person ideally) that you may not be able to invite them to the wedding. You can give an explanation like we don't have enough space, we're on a limited budget, etc. Give a reason that's genuine.  They'll understand. However, if they’re people that live far away or you’re not close to them, you don’t need to say anything, and just send them a wedding announcement after. 

Hopefully creating your guest list can now be stress-free!  Did you find these tips helpful?  Share with us below how you created your guest list? 

How do I choose a wedding date?

Photo by  La Caravan  on  Unsplash

Photo by La Caravan on Unsplash

It’s an exciting time when you start planning your wedding.  There are so many things to do it can feel overwhelming.  Make sure you check out our past article on 5 decision to make before you start wedding planning. One of the first things you will do when planning your wedding is choosing your wedding date.  This date needs to be made before you start meeting your vendors. For some couples, this is an easy decision, but for many of us, it can be difficult.  Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when choosing your wedding date:

Tip #1: Is there a significant date you would like to follow?  Maybe you started dating on a certain date, which was the same day your fiancé proposed or you want to choose a date that has a fun number combo like 09-02-18 (because you know 9 x 2 = 18 and that's just a fun way to remember your anniversary).  You can choose a date that’s in between your birthday and your fiance's birthday so you’ll have a date to celebrate in-between your birthdays.  Or your grandparents mean the world to you and you want to get married on their wedding anniversary.  This also could be dates you want to avoid as well (for example, you may not want to get married on the same date as your siblings, cousins, best friend's wedding, etc.)  The good thing is there are 365 days you can choose from.  Check with your fiance for any significant dates you want to reference for choosing your dates. 

Tip #2: Keep in mind the season.  This can vary depending on where you live, but typically wedding season can start in May and run through October.  During peak wedding times, prices can go up so if you’re on a budget and you’re open to getting married during the off-season, you may be able to find great deals with your vendors. 

Tip #3: Do you want to get married at a particular location?  You always imagined yourself walking down the same church as your parents or you grew up wanting to have your reception at a hotel overlooking the ocean. Popular venues can book up well over a year in advance so if you want to get married at a particular location, having a flexible wedding date can be helpful.  If the date isn't important to you, you can base your wedding date on your venue’s availability. 

Tip #4: Does weather matter?  If you live where it’s humid, you may want to avoid July and August.  If you live where it snows, you may want to avoid November-February.  This doesn’t mean you can’t get married during these times, but keep in mind that weather can affect your guest attendance and your wedding photos.  And while your wedding photos will look gorgeous no matter the weather (I've seen many great winter wedding photos), if you want to be the most comfortable, pick a time when the weather is most pleasant for you.   

Overall, your wedding date does not have to be a significant date prior to your wedding.  The fact that it will be your anniversary date is significant enough.  So when it comes to choosing a date, choose a day that feels good for you and your fiancé, no matter what, it will be your special day. 

Have you chosen your wedding date yet?  How did you decide on your date?  Share with us below!

When someone asks to be in your wedding that you didn’t intend to ask

Photo by  Zoriana Stakhniv  on  Unsplash

Have you chosen your bridesmaids yet?  Do you know who you want to ask?  Or have you had someone hint that they would like to be in your wedding but you hadn’t planned on asking them?

When I was a wedding planner, I had a bride ask for my opinion: the bride’s cousin (a cousin she’s grown up with) wants to be in her wedding but the bride didn’t want her as a bridesmaid. What should she do?!

This can be a tricky situation.  There are many relationships you have to navigate and I can tell you not everyone will be pleased with the outcome. Because she’s your cousin there’s the family aspect that can make any situation a little dicey. If you say no, your cousin may get hurt, your aunt, mom, and maybe even your grandma may get mad. This of course, being the worst case scenario, but this doesn’t mean you have to bite the bullet and agree to let your cousin be a bridesmaid.  Oh no, this is just the opposite of that, remember this is your wedding day.  Here are some tips to consider when someone asks to be in your wedding that you didn’t intend to ask:

Tip #1: Remember, it’s your wedding day.  This can be difficult to remember, especially if your parents or relatives are helping pay for things, which may allow them to think they have a say in the decision making.  Just remember, this is your day.  Your memories.  And when you look back on this day, you want to look back on it fondly and not think “why is my cousin in my wedding party.”

Tip #2: Get the opinion of the matriarchs in your family.  If your mom and grandma says it’s okay, you don’t have to have your cousin in your wedding, then know you’ll have their support and you can  decline your cousin’s request.  Just make sure you get their opinion before your say anything to your cousin.  

Tip #3: Deliver your answer with kindness.  You’ve decided not to let your cousin be in your wedding, but it doesn’t mean you have to be rude in your delivery.  Being kind and empathetic can go a long way in getting your cousin to understand her participation isn’t necessary, but thank you for offering.

Tip #4: Let your cousin know you already have your bridal party picked out. She may understand her participation isn't necessary if she were to know you have an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen and everyone has already agreed to be in your wedding.  No one wants to be the odd one out walking down the aisle without a partner. 

Tip #5: Offer your cousin another role. There's plenty of roles that can be designated to willing family members such as a reader for your ceremony, escorting your grandparent down the aisle, or singing a song during the reception.  She can even be the person in charge of the sign-in table, gift table, or dessert table.  By giving your cousin other opportunities to be involved, you can help take away the disappointment of not being a part of your bridal party.

Tip #6: Grin and bear it.  Embrace the situation.  You may not want your cousin in your wedding, but not having her be a bridesmaid may be more stress than it’s worth.   Just make sure you won't become resentful of her participation and if anything, assign some of your bridesmaids to keep her away from you or take her in hand if she isn’t as supportive as you’d like.  You never know, she could end up being the most supportive person in your wedding party.

Bonus Tip: Don't make the decision right away.  Tell your cousin you need to talk to your fiance and take the time to think of a plan on how you want to handle the situation.  The last thing you want to do is say "no" right away without thinking through the repercussions of turning your cousin down.  

What do you think of the tips listed above?  Were any of them helpful?  Have you chosen who will be in your bridal party?  Share with us below! 



Are save-the-date cards necessary?

Photo by  Charisse Kenion  on  Unsplash

You’ve chosen your wedding date (yay) and now you’re wondering what to do next.  You’ve heard people say that it’s important to send out save-the date cards but you’re on a budget and you’re not sure if they’re worth the expense.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when deciding if you are going to send out save-the date cards or not:

Tip #1: How will you announce your engagement?  Pre-internet, the only way to notify family and friends you were engaged was by calling each person or sending them a notice in the mail.  Sending save-the-dates was a way to notify guests of your engagement, there’s a wedding in the future, and they’re going to be invited to attend.  

Tip #2: How many months until your wedding?  Traditionally, you would want to send out your wedding invitations within 2-3 months from your wedding date.  So if you have a short engagement and your wedding date is a little bit longer than the 2-3 months, say about 4-5 months, it’s okay, you don’t need to send a save-the-date, your guests can get the notice when they receive your actual wedding invitation.  But if your wedding is a year out, sending save-the-date cards to your guests is a good reminder to look out for a wedding invitation in the future and to make sure to save the date so they can attend. 

Tip #3:  Where do your guests live?  If many of your guests are from out-of-town, where they’ll need to figure out hotel and transportation to get to your wedding, giving them a save-the-date will help them plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements so they can make it to your wedding.

Tip #4: You don’t need to send a save-the-date to everyone.  Your circle of friends knows you’re engaged as well as your immediate family.  They don’t need a save-the-date card mailed to them as they’ll be in the thick of helping you through your wedding planning.  You could send the save-the-date cards to those outside of your immediate circle or guests that live out of town. 

Tip #5: Think outside of the traditional save-the-date cards. With many couples being environmentally conscious, budget conscious, and so many great options on the internet, instead of sending out traditional cards, you can always send an email announcing your engagement and save the date.  This is a great way to let people know you are engaged and that a wedding invitation is forthcoming.  

So while save-the-date cards are super helpful in letting people know your wedding is coming up, this is one time that following a tradition isn’t necessary such that you don’t need to mail out cards.  Save yourself the cost of printing announcements and postage stamps and instead create an online announcement and send that to your loved ones.  

What do you think?  Are you planning on sending out save-the-date cards, creating an online announcement, or not sending anything at all?  Share with us below! 




What to do when a friend declines being a bridesmaid

Photo by  Andre Hunter  on  Unsplash

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

It doesn’t happen often, but there’s always a chance when you ask someone to be your bridesmaid, they will say “no.”  It’s easy to be overcome with hurt feelings and then maybe a little resentment, especially if you are close or you were in your friend’s wedding.  But when it comes to declining to be a bridesmaid, trust me when I say it can be a difficult decision to say “no.” 

So what do you do when your friend says “no?” How do you cope?  Here are some tips to consider when a friend declines your request:

Tip #1: Ask for the reason. There are many reasons why someone would decline, oftentimes the main factor being finances. Being a bridesmaids or groomsmen can add up financially.  Aside from participating and helping to plan for your bridal shower and bachelorette; there’s also the cost of the bridesmaid dress, shoes, hair, makeup, and jewelry for the day.  Not to mention gifts for each event.  Depending on where you live, being a bridesmaid can cost up to $1,000 or more.  And for many people, saving for the additional expenses may be difficult.

Knowing what the reason is for declining can make moving on easier and it'll help you understand their position better.  Just don't try to change their mind!

Tip #2: Is there another way they can be involved? Maybe they don’t have to be part of your bridal party, but it is possible for them to have an honorary role such as a reader for your ceremony or saying a speech during your reception. Or if they sing or play an instrument they can do a performance.  It’s a great way to have them be a part of the special day without them having to worry about the cost that comes with being an actual bridesmaid.

Tip #3: Accept their decision. Your friendship is hopefully long-lasting and even though it may hurt to have them not be a part of your wedding, take a few days to process their decision and then accept and move forward.  They’ll be there as a guest and can share in your good fortune in other ways.

Tip #4: Decide if you want to ask someone else. Now that you have your answer you have to decide if you want to have someone else fill the spot or if you will have a smaller bridal party than you originally intended.  Bridal parties can range in size, some small with just a maid of honor and others incredibly large.  The largest one I have seen was 9 bridesmaids!  And there were junior bridesmaids, flower girls, and sponsors walking down the aisle as well.  It was very elaborate and very large.  But that doesn't have to be you.  You can either ask someone else to replace the friend that has declined or you can just be short a bridesmaid. 

Just remember, when it comes to your bridal party, you get to decide who will walk down the aisle with you.  And if you can’t have the people you desire, hopefully you can accept their decision, not take it personally, and don’t let it ruin your joy of wedding planning.

Have you asked your bridesmaids to be a part of your wedding yet?  Has anyone said no to you?  What did you do when they declined? Share with us below!

How to determine your wedding budget

Photo by  on  Unsplash

Photo by on Unsplash

You’ve said “YES!” and now you’re ready to plan your wedding.  What’s the first thing you do?  Sit down and discuss your budget!  Your wedding budget is going to be the basis on what all of your wedding decisions will be made. It's a very important conversation to have and definitely one of the first before you really start planning your wedding.  Because before you can book a vendor or if you want to add something, you will refer to your budget.  So how do you determine your wedding budget?  Read on below for tips on how to create your wedding budget. 

Tip #1: Start with a number you feel comfortable with.  You and your fiancé may have different ideas on what you each feel comfortable spending for your wedding.  You can each write down a number and then compare.  If you're within range of each other that's great news.  If your numbers differ quite a bit then you're going to have a long discussion ahead of you.  Also, you and your fiancé may have been saving for your wedding for years.  If that's the case, definitely give each other a kiss because that means you can start your planning!

If you don’t have any money set aside yet, then you and your fiancé need to talk about how much money you can put aside from your current paychecks to pay for the wedding.  And if your paychecks are already allocated, then you'll want to think of options for making extra money.  Some examples would be getting a temporary second job, putting various items on your credit card (although this could be a slippery slope as you'll need to pay the credit cards off), or you can go to our next tip. 

Tip #2: Find out if you will have outside help.  Many couples have family members that offer to help pay for the wedding (parents, grandparents, older siblings, etc.). Find out if you have family members that are able to help and how much they can contribute.  Sometimes a family member will say that they’ll pay for one of your vendors and then set an amount like ($5k for your flowers) so that’s an item you won’t have to worry about.  Other times family will say they can contribute a set amount or they will pay for your entire wedding.

If your family has offered to pay for your entire wedding, you will want to have the wedding budget conversation with them.  It's a wonderful gift they are giving you and your fiancé by paying for the entire wedding, but you want to make sure they give you an actual number so you know how extravagant you can be when booking your vendors. 

Tip #3: Don’t forget to budget in the gratuity.  Sometimes gratuity is include with your invoice (usually for venues) but most of the time it isn’t.  Oftentimes you'll allot a certain amount for your vendors completely forgetting to factor in gratuity.  And while gratuity isn't mandatory it is customary (and welcomed) by each of your vendors.  

Tip #4:  Have reserves. It's always a good idea to have a budget and then to have money set aside for wiggle room and incidentals.  You know, for when you fall in love with a dress that cost just a tiny bit more than you initially allotted for.  ;)

Bonus Tip: Check in with your fiancé weekly.  Once you have your budget set and you start wedding planning, it's easy to get caught up in hiring vendors and purchasing wedding items.  Before you know it, you may be reaching your set budget.  By having weekly money dates with your fiancé, you can check in with each other and review how much you have spent and for what and how much you have left. It ensures you are both on the same page throughout the entire wedding planning journey.  Also, this is a good habit to have, in general, with your fiancé that you can continue on after your big day into married life.  

Have you determined your wedding budget yet?  How did you and your fiancé decide how much to spend for your wedding? Share with us below! 


Should you have a themed wedding?

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

You love Harry Potter, the ocean, Alice in Wonderland, nature, Halloween, the Little Mermaid, you name it, it can be turned into a theme for your wedding.  And while themes are incredibly fun and they can help streamline a lot of your decisions, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning a themed wedding:

Tip #1: Choose a theme that’s timeless (to you). Not everyone will like a movie theme or a holiday theme so make sure the theme you choose is one that has a personal meaning for you and your fiancé.  

Tip #2: Don’t listen to the naysayers. Once you’ve chosen your theme, there will be many people in your inner circle that may not like your theme, disagree with it, or be flat out against it.  Throughout all their protests just remember, this is your wedding, not theirs, so choose what will make you happy.

Tip #3: Decide how much of the theme you want in your wedding. Do you want the entire wedding to be themed or have touches of it throughout your wedding? You can have bits and pieces of your theme spread throughout your wedding (like in your party favors) or you can have your entire wedding decked out in your theme (from your invitations to centerpieces to your wedding cake), it’s completely possible to do as little or as much as you want when it comes to sticking with a theme.

Tip #4: Make sure your theme doesn’t detract from your actual wedding. This may sound confusing, but a theme should be just that, a theme.  It shouldn’t be the main focus of your wedding.  The main focus of your wedding is you and your groom and if you spend all of your time and energy focusing on having the themed wedding cake, centerpieces, lighting, and party favors, you don’t want your guests so focused on your theme that they don’t focus on you and your groom.  

Don’t forget that the end goal is to make sure the theme you choose is something you won’t regret years from now.  Make sure it’s something you’ll love or can think fondly of when you look at your weddings photos years from your wedding day.  A theme can be fun and add to your wedding, but don't let it overtake the wedding, let it aid it.

Have you chosen a theme?  Will you choose a theme?  Share with us below! 

How to DIY a candy or dessert bar

Photo by  Igor Ovsyannykov  on  Unsplash

A couple of years ago, candy and dessert bars became hugely popular.  They are a lot of fun and one of my favorite things to add on to a reception.  Instead of hiring a company to create a bar for you, here are some tips so you can do it yourself:

Tip #1: Decide on your budget.  How much do you want to spend?  Depending where you live and what you end up placing on the candy/dessert bar, your cost can start as low as $100.  

Tip #2: Decide if you want a candy-only bar or if you want to include desserts.  There are dessert bars that only have the couple's favorite desserts.  Then there are bars that have just different types of candies the couple loves.  And finally, there are bars that have a combination of both.  There are so many ways to go with this, have fun with it, but once you decide, stick with it so you don't stress out about it later. 

Tip #3: Start buying candy early.  The great thing about having candy on the table is that you can start stocking up on candy months in advance, which can help when planning your budget. Most candy lasts for awhile and if you're color-coordinating your table, stores in your area may have a limited supply so make sure you plan ahead and buy early.

Tip #4: Who will make your desserts? Will your local baker or your aunt make the desserts for your table.  If it's the local baker and if they're making your cake as well you may be able to get a deal for the desserts.  If it's a personal acquaintance, you'll want to make sure you discuss how much they need to bake.  Great Aunt Martha makes the best cookies but she's only use to baking a dozen at a time.  For a wedding, you're going to want to several dozen for your guests.  Not to mention variety.  So plan ahead and make sure your acquaintance knows how much work will be involved, your allotted budget for supplies, and they have enough time to make it.  

Tip #5: Who will bring the desserts and do they require a cooler?  Many venues will not let you use their refrigerator to store your goods so if it's an acquaintance supplying the desserts make sure they are either making goodies that don't need to be refrigerated or they are coming from a location (aka home) where they have a refrigerator and the desserts remain fresh. 

Tip #6: Make sure you have enough.  It's always a shame when you have a dessert bar and half of your guests don't get to try the goods on the table because there wasn't enough to go around.  Make sure you order enough items so the majority can get a taste.

Tip #7: Who will be in charge of the table?  Not just decorating the table but also resupplying it when the candy or desserts go low.  If you're DIY-ing you'll need to make sure you have containers for the candy and trays for the desserts.  You'll want to factor that into your budget and then who will be the person to set it up and restock it as the night progresses.  The last thing you want is at the end of the night you find bags of candy that you'll have to take home because no one refilled the table.  

Are you going to DIY your candy or dessert bar?  What kind of goodies are you going to put on it?  Share with us below! 

Should you hire an officiant or ask a friend?

Photo by  zelle duda  on  Unsplash

Photo by zelle duda on Unsplash

One of the most important parts of your wedding is your ceremony.  This is the moment where you and your partner are officially wedded and begin your lives together as a married couple.  But who will be the one to lead the ceremony? 

If you are religious this falls to the clergy-person of your faith and is an easy decision.  However, many people do not claim a religion, so they need to find an officiant to preside over the ceremony.

Through a quick google search and checking state regulations, a quick online class will allow you to become an ordained minister.  But the question is, do you hire someone or do you ask someone who knows you and your partner to officiate your wedding?  

Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing your officiant:

Tip #1: A hired officiant typically has lots of experience and will know what to say, when to say it, and can provide a solemnity to your ceremony that a nervous friend may not be able to do.  Also, officiants may have a certain way they like to organize things, which means you won't have to worry about the officiant missing any critical parts of your wedding and you can relax and know you're in good hands. 

Tip #2: If you ask a friend/family member, make sure they feel comfortable speaking in public.  If they tend to get nervous speaking in front of a crowd, you may want to ask someone else.  

Tip #3: A friend/family member knows you and your partner and can make the ceremony more personal. Just make sure they don't include too many stories that take away from the important part of the ceremony: your vows. 

Tip #4: If it's your friend/family member's first time officiating, you may need to find the script for them to follow and dictate the timeline for the ceremony.  You can find many scripts to use on the internet, but it is another item to add on your to-do list. 

Tip #4: A friend/family member may be willing to officiate the wedding for free if they are an attending guest; whereas you would have to pay for a hired officiant.  

Tip #5: Depending on the location of your ceremony, make sure you have a microphone available for your officiant and you and your partner.  You don't want your guests missing any part of the ceremony because they are not able to hear you.

Have you decided on your officiant yet?  Did you find these tips helpful?  Comment below! 

Help! My photographer isn't listening to me

Photo by  Tong Nguyen van  on  Unsplash

Recently I had a client ask me for some advice regarding her photographer.  She booked a package deal for both her engagement and wedding photos.  During the engagement shoot she noticed that her photographer wasn't really listening to the types of photos they had talked about during their consultation call.  And when she received the engagement photos she was incredibly disappointed with the results.  Because she already paid a portion of the balance she didn't want to change photographers, but had no idea how to make her photographer listen to her.

Here are some of the recommendations I gave her that can hopefully help you if you find yourself in the same situation:

Make a list. Write down what's bothering you and where you feel you and your photographer aren't seeing eye-to-eye.  Then leave the list alone for a day or two and then come back to the list and either edit things out or add more things in.  Giving yourself a day away from your list (which may have been written when your emotions were high) will allow you to take a step back and look at the situation more constructively.

Start with what you like. Start with the photos you do like.  What do you like about them?  What part of working with the photographer are you enjoying? 

Then discuss what isn't working for you. What didn't you like about the photos?  What aspects of the session were not to your liking? Was it the poses?  How long it was taking to get a shot?  What was it about the photographer that wasn't working for you?

Move to a constructive conversation. How can you work together? Where can the compromise come in? What can you do so that you not only get the photographs you want, but also enjoy yourself in the process.  

Take a stand.  You don't need to be mean or rude but you can definitely get your point across.  Remember this is your wedding day.  You can always double check your contract and see what it says about a refund or if there's another photographer at the studio, maybe you can switch photographers.  And if you have a wedding coordinator, they can definitely run interference for you with your photographer on your wedding day to help move things along and be an additional voice to support you in getting your vision and the photos you want. 

And above all, make sure you talk to your photographer.  Holding this in or venting to anyone who will listen isn't constructive and won't help you get the perfect photos for your wedding day.  Make sure you talk to your photographer and explain how you are feeling.  It could be a simple misunderstanding that can easily be resolved with a conversation.

Do you have any other tips?  Comment below! 


Should You Have an Adult-Only Wedding?

One question I am asked from brides is whether or not they should have an adult-only wedding. For some couples, this can be a difficult answer while for others an easy one.  Here are some tips I give couples when it comes to making decisions on whether they should have an adult-only wedding or not. 

Tip #1: Is there room in your guest list for kids? Sometimes this question can easily be answered based on logistics.  Does your venue have room to include all of your guests plus their children?  

Tip #2: How many family members/friends have kids? If only a few of your guests have kids then it may be easier to have an adult-only wedding.  This allows your guests with kids to have a kid-free evening.  And as your invitation is sent out weeks, sometimes months in advance, that gives your guests plenty of time to find a sitter. But if the majority of your guests have kids, it may be easier to invite their kids and then you can plan activities to keep the kids entertained and still allow their parents to have a good time.

Tip #3: What kind of atmosphere do you want your reception to convey? If you want your guests to get dressed up and feel formal, then allowing guests to bring their kids, may detract from the classy reception you are hoping for.  If you want a party-celebration feeling, then inviting kids can definitely add to a more relaxed vibe. 

Tip #4: Do you have activities planned to keep the kids entertained? This isn't mandatory, but is always a nice gesture for parents of kids when activity books, coloring books, or even a play section is set up so that the kids can be entertained during the reception. 

Tip #5: Will your guests be offended if their kids are not invited? This doesn't come up often, but it does come up so I feel I should mention that sometimes, particularly among family, feelings can be hurt if kids are not invited.  To help navigate through this, you may want to ask a parent, a grandparent, or an elder of the family to make sure what the overall family feelings are regarding kids and not inviting them to weddings.

Overall, whether you choose to have a an adult-only wedding or not, you want to make sure you are creating the wedding of your dreams.  I hope these tips help you in making a decision.  Comment below and share with us if you have chosen to have an adult-only wedding or not!



6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Booking Your Reception Venue

You've decided what date you want to get married and you're ready to start looking at venues for your reception.  Here are 6 tips to keep in mind as you search for a venue:

Tip #1: Is location important?  Do you want it to be close to your home?  Or are you looking for a more central place near your parents, in-laws, friends, and relatives?  Is there a particular place you have in mind?  Or view you want to see?  I live in Southern California and a popular wedding location is near the beach; however, for many guests that live more inland to get to the beach will take an hour or two drive.  For SoCal residents, commuting is second nature and we don't usually blink an eye at the idea of driving an hour one-way, but for many people driving for 30 minutes or more isn't desirable.

Tip #2: Are you okay if other events are happening at the same time? It is more common to find hotels with ballrooms that are very affordable for your reception.  However, there may be several events happening at the same time as yours.  Will this bother you?  During wedding season (May-July) a hotel can have every ballroom booked, which means 2-3 events happening at the same time, some even being next door to your own.  Would you prefer to have your own venue where your wedding is the only event happening?  Single-event venues aren't as common as hotels with ballrooms so they tend to book quickly.  If you prefer a single-event venue, you may need to be flexible with your wedding day or plan on booking a year in advance. 

Tip #3: Are you flexible with your wedding date?  Your fiancé asked you out on the same date as he proposed and you want to get married on the same date.  If your wedding date is significant, you may need to be flexible to where your wedding reception is held.  Remember, single-event venues tend to book early. 

Tip #4: Are you open to a day other than Saturday? Maybe you want to have your reception be at a specific location or on a specific date and the only availability is mid-week or a Friday night or Sunday morning, would you take it?  Many weddings are usually held on a Saturday or Sunday night, but Friday, even Thursday nights should be considered as well.  Oftentimes you'll find more availability and booking the venue can be cheaper as well.  And when you have a day wedding, you can always have a get-together at your home or your parents home after for visiting relatives and friends.  It'll be a day long party celebrating your wedding!

Tip #5: Is the venue big enough to fit all your guests comfortably? You've invited 200 guests and the venue says they can fit that many people but there won't be much space in-between tables, are you okay with that? Or will you need to cut your guest list to accommodate the space in the venue?  Is it more important to be able to fit all of your guests or have the reception at a particular place?

Tip #6: Does the cost meet your budget?  It's not just the meal that can determine the cost of the venue, but the location as well.  A reception at a beach hotel will probably cost more than a reception at a hotel that's more inland.  Why is that?  Well, you're paying for the view and the popularity of the venue.  Make sure your budget will fit where you will have your reception.  

These six questions are just the starting off point for when you plan your wedding.  Many more questions can arise when it comes to your venue alone.  What questions do you have regarding your reception? Share with us below!



Should You Have a Cash or Open Bar?

One question I receive from my brides is whether or not they should have an open (aka host) bar or a cash bar.  A cash bar is when your guests have to pay for drinks (usually excluding water and coffee as that's typically provided by the venue).  An open/host bar is when the cost of drinks (alcohol and soda) are paid for by the bride and groom.  It may not seem like a difficult answer but sometimes, brides can worry what their guests may think if they choose to have a cash bar only.  Here are my tips for deciding whether to have an open bar or a cash bar at your wedding reception: 

Tip #1: What's your budget look like? This is probably the deciding factor on whether you can have a cash bar or an open bar.  Do you have room in your budget to pay for your guest drinks?

Tip #2: You can limit how long you have an open/host bar.  Oftentimes a good compromise is to have an open bar for the duration of the cocktail hour, which can run between 1-2 hours and then after the grand entrance the bar turns into a cash bar.

Tip #3: You can limit what is served.  You and your groom are beer drinkers and to stay true to that you only have the bar serve your favorite type of beer all night long.  This is usually done as a host bar but can also be a cash bar option. 

Tip #4: You can host specific drinks.  You can host beer and wine and sodas all night long.  And if your guests want something stronger, they can pay for it themselves.

Tip #5: You can create a signature drink that is served all night long but all other drinks are paid for by your guests.

Tip #6: Some venues will you bring in the alcohol and charge you for a bartender.  See if this is an option for your venue.

Bonus Tip: Don't forget your guests that do not drink alcohol.  Sodas are not typically provided by the venue as part of your dinner service.  Don't forget to provide options for your guests that are underage or do not drink. 

Did any of these tips help?  Have you decided to have a car bar or an open bar?  Share with us below! 

How to Organize Your Seating Chart

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

You've decided on a sit down meal, you have all of your RSVP cards, and you've given your venue your final headcount.  Now it's time to assign seats, a task many couples dread.  Here are a couple of tips to help make your seat assignments as painless as possible:

Tip #1: Create a chart. Whether you do it through a spreadsheet or you create a model of your venue, put each table number and how many seats at each table. 

Tip #2: Prioritize your list.  Just like you created your A, B, and C guest list for your invitations, create a similar list but base it around your dance floor.  Your A list guest are immediate family and close friends.  People you want to be able to look out and see from your sweetheart table and people you want to have a good view of all the wedding activities. 

Tip #3: Group guests together. Within your main list, group coworkers, college friends, high school friends, close cousins, secondary cousins, etc.  You don't have to worry how many people will be at each table yet.  For now, you want to group individuals in each list together based on their commonalities. 

Tip #3: Create subcategories. Take the groups and create subcategories with your list.  So list A will have immediate family and close friends.  List B will have college friends and close cousins and Group C will have coworkers.  However many groups you have, start placing them into subcategories. 

Tip #4: Start placing groups at each table.  Whether you are placing 8, 10, or even 12 guests at a table, you want to start placing groups at tables.  This is where it can get tricky and you have to remember family dynamics and table positioning.  I can promise you for the most part, most guests won't mind where they are sitting.  However, we all have that one relative who is a little sensitive and and may take offense so don't forget to take that into account. 

Tip #5: Put away your guest list.  After spending a couple of hours trying to place each of your guest your head will start to spin and you may find yourself getting a headache.  At this point, save your work on your computer and turn it off or put your model away in the closet and don't look at it for a couple of days.  You need to clear your head and in a few days you can take it out and look at it again from a fresh perspective. 

Throughout all of this just remember that you want your guests to have a good time and try not to put too much stress and attention on your seating chart.  At the end of the day, everyone is here to celebrate you and your groom.  Comment below if you used a different technique in creating your seating chart!

Buffet or Sit Down?

One question I get from brides is if they should choose a sit down meal or buffet?  There are pros for both.  If you are on the fence, here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you decide:

Sit Down:

  • Guests know what they are eating beforehand. 
  • You can have guests choose between meat, seafood, or both.  Also make sure to have a vegetarian option available. 
  • Sit down meal tends to feel more formal and refined.
  • Know your timeline.  The most difficult part in having a sit down meal is that food should go out by a certain time.  If your schedule falls behind, make sure someone in the kitchen knows.  The last thing you want is for the meals you paid for to be overcooked because they were ready to go at 7 but your grand entrance won't be until 730.  No matter how hungry your guests are, if the meat is overcooked, they probably won't eat it. 


  • Lots of variety for your guests to choose from.
  • The cost can be a lot more affordable than a sit down.  I'm not sure why this is but buffets usually run cheaper than sit down meals.
  • Buffet often conveys a more relaxed reception and provides ample opportunity for guests to mingle as they wait for their table to be called and when they wait in line. 
  • Depending on how many guests you have, it could be awhile before everyone is fed.  Buffet lines can move slowly so make sure you have a great MC that can keep waiting (and hungry) guests entertained until it is their turn. 
  • Seconds anyone?  The great thing about buffets is that everyone leaves well fed. 

Another option is also having a meal served family style.  This is completely different and primarily within the Asian culture (but I've seen it a few times for an Italian and Greek wedding as well) and it's a lot of fun.  You have a set menu but all the dishes are placed on the table and everyone serves themselves.  It's a great way for people to interact with one another as they pass each dish around the table. 

And finally, whether you choose sit down, buffet, or family style meal, be sure you are aware of special dietary needs of your guests and convey that to the venue.  The last thing you want to do is to not have options for guests with food allergies.  Make sure the venue staff is aware of the indicators for guests with allergies.  You don't want everyone at a table to be eating but the guest with a seafood and nut allergy is still waiting for their dinner to be served because the kitchen wasn't told about the food allergy. 

Have you decided to do a sit down dinner or buffet?  Comment below! 


Timing Your Reception

The wedding reception is one of the most memorable parts of a wedding.  However, depending on the time of your ceremony, guests can go for hours without eating, and we all know what happens when we get "hangry."  Watch the video below for a tip to keep in mind when planning the timeline for your wedding reception. 

What did you think of the video?  Comment below on how you plan to schedule your reception. 

Choosing Your Wedding Dress


Welcome to Part 2 of delving into your wedding dress process! 

Did you find Part 1 helpful?  If you didn't have a chance to read Part 1, you can read it here

Now that you have your entourage of supporters and you know how you will react and process their opinions whether they are in agreement with you or not, let's dive into choosing your wedding dress.  

Whether you are trying on a dress you specifically want to try or you are trying on dresses your consultant, family, and friends think will look good on you, ask yourself these questions: 

How does this dress make you feel? Do you feel beautiful in the dress? Does it light you up inside?  Do you feel it highlights your best features? Can you see this as the dress you wear as you walk down the aisle to your fiancé?

How much is the dress? Does it fall within your budget?  Is it the right price? Or is it higher or lower than your budget?  How does the cost make you feel?

Listen to your intuition.  Why do you love the dress?  Do you love it or do you like it because everyone else loves it? Does your instinct say you should get the dress?  Does everything feel right about the dress?  

Finally, and most importantly, what makes you happy?  Everyone will always have an opinion but at the end of the day, don't forget this is your wedding.  Does wearing this dress make you feel happy?  Is this the dress you may want to pass down to your daughter one day?  Will you be able to look at this dress in the future and have wonderful memories of wearing the dress and how it made you feel? 

I can tell you, no matter what the naysayers say, when you are walking down the aisle on your wedding day, everyone will say you look beautiful.  This is your wedding day and the memories that you make are all yours.  So choose the dress you feel the most good in and as long as you remember that and all will be well. 

Let me know below what you think of these tips.  Were they helpful?  Did they work for you?  

Image from Nic Photography

When No One Likes Your Wedding Dress

One of the questions I am often asked when shopping for a wedding dress, is how many people should I bring with me?  Thanks to shows like Say Yes to the Dressbrides-to-be think that dress shopping means bringing an entourage of women with them.  And while we know that isn't always necessary, having group support can be great affirmation.  This week's blog, is Part 1 of a two-part series, in which we delve into the wedding dress process and what do you do when you fall in love with a dress that no one else likes?

Before you invite anyone to dress shop with you, here are a few questions to as yourself to help set your wedding dress experience for success:

  • Who do I want to bring?  
  • How much do their opinions matters to me?  
  • If they disagree with me, how will I feel?  
  • If they force me to try on a dress I don't like, what will I do? How will I feel?
  • If they criticize rather than compliment, how will I respond?  How will I feel?
  • Will they try and take the attention away from me? Or will they be supportive? 

These are just a few questions to start.  Depending on how you answer these questions, follow them up with:

  • If these individuals are not with me, will I be okay?  
  • Is there presence a requirement for my happiness? 
  • Should I bring them on this first trip or wait until I narrow down my search?

The next set of questions to ask yourself are similar to the first; however, you'll be digging deeper into how you feel when it comes to their opinions.  At this stage, you'll want to think of past situations in which you wanted their opinion on something they may not have agreed with.  Try to remember a situation and see how you felt at that time and if you think it could come up again when it comes to dress shopping.

  • Will they be honest with their opinions or will they tailor their responses based on mine?
  • How much of their responses will matter to me?  
  • Will I be swayed by what they say even if I'm in disagreement?
  • If they don't like the dress I love, how will I feel?
  • Would I be okay getting a dress they love, but I don't?  

If you notice, almost after every question, you are asking yourself ends with, How will I feel?  Like many aspects of wedding planning and life, you want to make a decision based on how the action makes you feel.  Do you feel expansive or do you feel contracted?  In other words, does your body feel tight and tense or do you feel uplifted and relaxed?  

By paying attention to how your body responds as you ask yourself the questions can help you decide who you want to bring with you as you search for your wedding dress.  

What do you think of this process? Comment below if you have tried something similar or if you tried asking yourself these questions and if they worked for you. And stay tuned for next week's blog on Part 2 of wedding dress shopping.