The very first steps in planning your wedding and even before you set the date, decide the level of formality you wish to achieve, the size of your bridal party and the size of your guest list. These decisions will have a big effect on your budget. Start by downloading a FREE Wedding Day Check List.
An example, a formal evening wedding with a dinner reception and open bar is more expensive than a morning or early afternoon wedding and luncheon reception. Saturday is a premium day for weddings, other days of the week are less expensive. The bridal party may be responsible for their own attire, but you provide bouquets, a gift, plus meals at the rehearsal and reception. Wedding Traditions The size of your guest list determines not only food and beverage, but the cake, the number of invitations, postage, programs, place cards, table linens, center pieces, favors etc. Be sure to visit our Helpful Hints and Tips section.
Carefully think through all details and establish a firm budget. Then, with budget in hand start shopping for your wedding services as soon a possible. Weddings take a tremendous amount of planning and organization. Allow yourself enough time to explore every available option. The earlier you begin, the larger the selection of available services. Bridal Shows are a good place to start, with an array of wedding vendors under one roof, you can meet them personally, view their work and compare prices. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, surrounding yourself with well established wedding professionals will assure that your day runs smoothly. This is not the day you entrust to amateurs or well meaning friends. Required reading, Who Pays For What?
Great tool for any wedding on the beach or any wedding day. Complete sunrise & sunset data for one day. . .
Your first contact must be the church or ceremony location. Inquire if your selected date is available. Meet with the minister/officiant to discuss your plans and wishes, if you have specific requests, now is the time to address them. Expect to abide by their rules and regulations, which may include counseling sessions. Marriage Laws NOT until the wedding date and time is CONFIRMED by the church, are you free to pursue other wedding related services. If you are considering an outside ceremony, remember wind, rain and heat can play havoc with the best of plans, so have an alternate plan, just in case!
The next services to contact are those who can accommodate only one wedding per day. For example, a florist can make several bouquets, but a photographer usually photographs one wedding, therefore making this service a priority. Meet with at least two wedding vendors for each service you require, inform them of your budget limitations and your wishes. Ask for referrals! True wedding professionals take pride in every wedding they are associated with and will gladly provide names of previous clients. If they hesitate to do so, move on! Failure to conduct a thorough check can be the difference between a perfect day, or a day filled with unexpected mishaps and disappointment.
The suggested order to secure wedding services is as follows:
Never rely on verbal agreements, for the sake of all parties involved, everything must be in writing. Lastly, before signing any contract read it carefully, IF ANYTHING is unclear, ASK QUESTIONS, its imperative to fully understand what you have contracted for. If overtime is a possibility establish the fee up front, it may avoid surprises later.
Don't forget the honeymoon! A Honeymoon Gift Registry is a wonderful idea for a honeymoon long remembered. It works like any other gift registry, you pick your "wish list" and friends, family & guests can purchase parts of your honeymoon for you and little things that you could not afford will be welcomed gifts. It's FREE to register your honeymoon: Honeymoon Gift Registry
Good luck and happy planning.
First steps to planning your wedding, written by Shirly Copeland, a wedding expert and owner of her own Bridal Consulting Service for 20 years and author of "Be Your Own Wedding Consultant"
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