Shhh! 12 Secrets From Wedding Pros on How to Have the BEST Wedding Day.
Have you ever wondered what essential things you should do to ensure you have the best wedding day ever?
Maybe you've asked questions like...
"How many guests should we have?"
Or, perhaps, "how much time should we spend shooting couple's portraits?"
Well, let's be honest: wedding planning is not an easy task, and sometimes, it's best to get a professional's opinion.
Below, we've compiled a list of the 12 most-asked questions asked by newly engaged couples when making decisions for their wedding... and 12 answers to those questions from wedding pros.
By the end of this blog post, you'll know exactly what you need to do to have the best wedding day ever.
1. "how many guests should we have?"
Pro tip, keep it small-medium. The most manageable guest count for most weddings is 75-120 people.
Okay, okay, I get it. Your Mom's first cousins have to be there, and so do your great aunts and uncles because their feelings would get hurt. Honestly, no their feelings will be totally fine. Actually, most of the time people obligated to come along when they hardly know you. You want the people there that are a part of your every day life, people you see regularly, who you catch up with when you're in your hometown, people you do life with. Not your great aunt's sister-in-law's son who you haven't seen since you were a child.
Most vendors agree that the perfect number is 75-120, even for a big wedding, 120 is the perfect number. Also, there are hundreds of studies that show that its nearly impossible to have more than 80 people in your immediate circle in life, including family, so inviting 400 people just might not be reasonable, unless it's a cultural wedding. In certain cultures where it's tradition to invite the entire family and more, maybe you can compromise with your parents if that doesn't sound like your first choice: an intimate ceremony + dinner, following a larger reception after your honeymoon? Plus, you don't want to spend your entire wedding making small talk with guests because the day just goes SO quick.
2. "My parents can be a bit... controlling. how do I set clear parental boundaries?"
Pro tip: set boundaries with your parents about who makes the decision. Remember, this is your wedding day!
This one is tricky, especially if you're parents are contributing financially to your wedding. And this definitely ties in with most points we'll go over in this post; But being honest with your parents about what you want for your wedding will ensure that YOU enjoy your day, and if you're enjoying your day, then your parents will too. Include them in some of the bigger decisions like picking your venue and take Mom along to your dress fitting, but when it comes to picking your flowers, your photographer, chatting with your planner, those details should be yours and yours alone (unless of course you'd prefer to choose your venue but your parents help with flowers... you get it!).
Ensure your parent's know their boundaries, emailing your vendors before or after the wedding isn't very acceptable, especially if it's already something you've discussed together. Technically, the couple is our client and we're only contractually allowed to discuss those details with you, even if your parents have contributed financially. So make it known to your parents that you want them to enjoy your day, and that you know how to make that happen! Sit them down and be honest if you feel a strain on boundaries. They made you and they love you, so they'll understand.
3. "I'm already overwhelmed thinking about the wedding day. How do i Delegate tasks so I don’t get overwhelmed?"
Pro tip: assign roles to different people on the day of. Your brother can be the MC, and your soon-to-be sister in law can handle the transition from ceremony to reception, etc.
Nothing is more frustrating than when people are asking the bride, on the day, where the napkins are.. The bride definitely has plenty on her plate as it is. If there's not a day-of-coordinator (which, please consider this investment as a lifesaver), assign one specific person to coordinate who knows what, and assign a couple of close friends and family outside of your bridal party to organise specific things: Your first cousin is in charge of decorations and making sure they're up, your Aunt is looking after the Timeline" etc.
People also love feeling important and giving them a small role on the day makes them feel a little more involved than just attending the wedding. This is also good if you struggle to decide with who you want in your bridal party. If you can't decide, choose who might be better playing coordinator and explain that when you let them know. Some people prefer to be a coordinator over a bridesmaid (trust me, I've been there!). Lastly, set your tone strong when someone asks you where something is, let them know you're not in charge and to talk to "...." about that. Meltdowns about corkscrews are not allowed.
4. "Should we write our own vows?"
Pro tip: write your own vows. It's a memory you'll never forget.
Your day goes by so quickly, and let's be honest, your whole wedding day is about your vows and the promises you're making to your spouse as you go into marriage. It's so special to write your own vows to each other and read from your heart. And if you don't like the attention, ask your officiant to break them down for you and read and repeat them like you would the standard vows. You'll remember your words and can really think about what you're promising to the other person before you get up there, and it really sets you up for a beautiful ceremony. If you don't want to get that personal in front of your audience, read those vows to them before the ceremony during a First Look or immediately after, privately and quietly.
5. When is the best time to take couple portraits? and How long should we spend doing them?
Pro tip: put aside sufficient time for sunset photos. It's when you'll look your best.
Your wedding photographer will likely tell you that this is the best thing you can do for photos, so don't skip out. Don't worry about missing time with your family and friends, you'll have plenty of time for that. What you DO need to ensure is that you have enough photos of you and your spouse from your wedding day, because those are the photos you hang on your walls and remember forever. You're not going to care about the getting ready photos the most when you're 75 and looking back on your images, you'll care about the photos of you and your loved one and how young and beautiful you are. This also means family photos, don't skip these. But also don't overdo it. Make sure it's intimate and immediately family you're including, otherwise you could spend way too long on something that can be done quickly. Your family will appreciate those photos for years to come
6. "I'm getting different advice from so many people about our wedding. How do I know what to listen to?"
Pro tip: Take advice from Pinterest lightly. Your vendors know what's best because they are pros.
There are some interesting articles out there, and some very interesting images on Pinterest telling you what you should and shouldn't do on your wedding day. I've seen some as crazy to say that 35% of your budget should be flowers (all the florists must love this one but can also agree thats bizarre) but realistically, that's insane. We've also seen the one that says your photographer should bring artificial lighting with them, and if not, they're not professional.... While there are definitely cases where those might make sense, the majority of these articles on Pinterest are very misinformed.
Your experienced vendors will have the BEST and most EDUCATED advice to give you so ensure you listen to them, you've chosen them because you trust them and that is the most important. Also, if your sweet relative is trying to tell you to that you shouldn't spend money on a cake because she can make enough cake for 200 people, that is generally a sign that you should hire someone. Vendors are professionals for a reason and we do this as our PROFESSION. Your sweet relative would probably fall over trying to make a beautiful cake big enough for that many people, and it could be a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe assign her the role of making something gluten free or some biscuits for those who don't like cake?
7. "How do I know If I can trust my vendors?"
Pro tip: Social media followings aren't always reflective of professionalism. Look at character, reviews, and word of mouth referrals before hiring based on a vendor's social following.
I cannot scream this loud enough to the world. Would you eat at a restaurant that has no reviews? You're likely going to eat at the one that someone told you to go to, even if you've never heard of it, because you trust those people in your life. The same should be when you're making the decision on who to hire for one of the biggest celebrations of your life. I've heard so many disappointed brides who have hired "big name" photographers through Instagram and have been heavily disappointed in their service and business practices. While this is not true for everyone, it does happen.
Social media is not proof of professionalism. The same goes for flower designers and venues and so many other vendors. Talk to your friends and family, people who have had weddings, ask what was important to them in choosing their vendors and what they loved: you might find that the things you're looking for now might not be the things you will appreciate on the day, or after. Also, don't be afraid to meet people. Grab coffee and get to know who you're hiring. You want to have a friend-experience with them, and not just know them professionally. These people are with you on the most intimate day of your life.
8. "the weather report said there might be a storm on our wedding day. how Should we prepare?"
Pro tip: be really freaking prepared for any sort of weather, especially if you're in the Northwest.
Before you cringe at this one, hear me out. If your wedding is outdoors and weather sensitive, or you're getting married in Portland OR in the winter outdoors with no indoor plan then you might want to reconsider. However, a little rain or storms or winds won't ruin your day. Just like turbulence on an airplane, ride with it, move with it and be open to it. Have a partially covered area if possible (most venues will have a wet weather plan) and just allocate people who can move things if the weather turns really bad.
Your vendors know how to work through crazy weather, and something like a freak rainstorm will be a memory to remember forever (and will probably only last 10 minutes). We've seen so many people dance like crazy through summer rainstorms, take their photos in a windstorm, weddings in heatwaves, all of it. Just be prepared and be ready to get married no matter what. And rain on your wedding day isn't bad luck at all.
9. "We're a bit un-traditional, and we want to do things differently. We're just not sure how our family will respond..."
Pro Tip: Don't be afraid to break the wedding rules. It's your day!
Don't want a first dance? Don't do it. Want to do your reception before your ceremony? Start planning. Want a picnic wedding? Start choosing those blankets. The best thing is that there are NO RULES. There's no cookie cutter wedding and no one is going to get mad if you don't cut a cake. Most of the time couples don't even understand those formalities so if you choose to cut them out of the day, it's your day.
Choose to do things that are more important to YOU. Want to walk down the aisle with your partner? Do it! Want to take bourbon shots instead of cut a cake? Honestly, the entire day is yours to make your own. As is your choice on the day, the location, and every single element. Wear a black dress if you want, get married in a cool industrial loft, get Elvis to marry you. You're going to have a more memorable day if you make it yours. Even if that means getting married at Disneyland, your family will be along for the ride (literally).
10. "When should we send our save-the-dates?"
Pro tip: keep people informed about the day.
This means keep your vendors updated on your timeline, your wet weather plan, your wants and needs if you need to hire them for an hour of overtime, let them know where they can sit for their meal etc. Again, if you have a planner they should do this for you. But you should also keep your guests in the loop. Send Save The Date's out early enough, make sure people know instructions on how to access the hiking trail you're getting married on, or where to park if you're on a private property.
Herding 100's of people around on a wedding day is not an easy task for anyone. If you're planning to take family photos with your family after, make sure that's announced and clear and understood. Your day will go by so quickly, you want everyone to be on task with what's happening. It's also important to note to your vendors if there are any uncomfortable or sensitive family dynamics to be aware of, this can make a big difference in our approach to certain elements of your day and how to approach things like family photos.
11. "What should we do at our reception? Greet people? Dance?"
Pro tip: do whatever you want. truly enjoy your reception. It's your party, after all!
Dance until your sound curfew, have a couple of drinks, drop it to Drake if you want, make sure you're getting out there and dancing. The atmosphere of the dance floor and the after celebrations literally depend on you. If you're not out there dancing, chances are your guests aren't either. Be the leader of the party, take shots on the dance floor, play music that you want to hear, even if it might not be everyones favorite music, they'll dance with you because you're having fun.
Dance with your grandparents to their favorite Frank Sinatra song and ask your Mom to dance with you too (she might feel left out if you dance with your Dad). Don't spend your reception saying hello and goodbye to guests because before you know it, your day will be over and you will still have so many songs you want to dance to. And compromise on music; keep the jazz for the first part of the night, the pop for the middle part and the rap and rnb for the end of the night.
12. "Should we have a honeymoon? we thought we might save money by not doing one right away..."
Pro tip: yes. have one.
This might sound crazy, but not everyone does this! I want to scream this to you on the rooftops. Even if your honeymoon isn't immediately after your wedding, make sure you have a plan to take a trip together. It will make the end of the wedding more exciting. Some brides who have spent months and years wedding planning get post-wedding depression if there's nothing to look forward to.
Make a tradition to go on a honeymoon every year or something that gives you incentive to continue planning if you're the planning type. Be spontaneous, go somewhere you've always wanted to go, even if that means staying in hostels to backpack Europe for a month, do whatever means necessary to make it happen, and make sure your work will give you the time off because you deserve it. Weddings are hard work.