Ahhhh, the good ole wedding day timeline. This single document has been know to stress out even the most even-keeled brides and grooms. Once your wedding day gets close, you will need a timeline. All of your vendors will need this as well. Your fiance, immediate family, and bridal party will need to see the finalized document. If you have a wedding planner, the planner will do this for you. However, they will need your input. If you don't have a planner, this is something you will need to create. But don't panic! By following the simple steps highlighted below, you will be able to create a flawless timeline for your big day.
1. The four big items.
Once you are ready to start your timeline, write down the times of the following:
By doing this you can see how much you need to cram in a five to seven hour window.
2. The Rehearsal
The ceremony rehearsal often gets overlooked, but should be added to your timeline. Some of your vendors will need to attend, as well as your entire bridal party and some family. Usually the rehearsal is held the night before the wedding, but sometimes it's held two days prior.
3. The morning of.
I can't stress how important it is to plan out the morning of your wedding. If you fall behind schedule in the morning, everything else will run behind. Think about where you will be waking up that morning. Will you be in your own house? Your parents house? A hotel? If you won't be at your own house, think and prepare several days before about what you need. Think about where and what you will be eating for breakfast (You need to eat!).
4. Hair and Makeup.
This goes hand-in-hand with your morning schedule. Are you going to a salon? Do you have a hair and makeup professional coming to you? Are you doing your own hair and makeup? Try to nail down the times for hair and makeup well before the big day. If you are driving to a salon, make to sure take into account the time it takes to get there, traffic, etc. Create a detailed schedule for hair and makeup by each person. For example, Bridesmaid A is getting hair done while Bridesmaid B is getting makeup done. Then Bridesmaid C gets hair done while Bridesmaid D gets makeup done. And most importantly- make sure you schedule yourself enough time to for yourself get hair and makeup done. Don't go last. Go somewhere in the middle. If you don't like how your hair or makeup looks, you will have enough time to fix it.
Chances are you will be with your bridal party for most of the day, usually several hours before your ceremony starts. Don't forget to plan ahead for lunch. The easiest thing is to get something delivered to you. You (or your mom) should not be stressing over what to cook everyone. Get a sandwich tray delivered. Veggie trays go a long way too.
6. Transportation and floral deliveries.
Your florist will most likely work with you ahead of time to figure out a delivery schedule for your florals. The florist will drop your bouquets off to you, deliver florals to the ceremony location, and centerpieces to the reception venue.
Wedding Planner Tip: Make sure you have your bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets with you by the time your photographer arrives.
And please don't forget about transportation. Confirm arrival times with your transportation company well before your wedding day. Make sure they know the distance between venues and start times of everything.
7. Your vendors.
You will need to figure out what times your vendors are arriving and what time they are leaving. If your photographer is arriving by noon, you should have your hair and makeup finished around 11:00. Make sure you are aware of the time your vendors are leaving as well. Some vendors like photographers and videographers leave an hour before your reception ends.
8. Ceremony logistics.
As a wedding planner, I find the ceremony often gets overlooked. Couples don't realize that you need to spend time planning for your ceremony. Your timeline should include what time groomsmen will arrive to the ceremony location, who will be handing out programs and escorting guests, who will be pinning boutineers on, etc. Plan what time the girls will be arriving and where they will go when they get there. This is especially important if the bride does not want anyone to see her prior to the ceremony.
9. After the ceremony.
Congratulations, you're married! Now what? Are you staying at your church for family pictures? Are you doing a receiving line? Are you heading out somewhere for pictures with your bridal party? Think about this and time it out accordingly.
Wedding Planner Tip: Don't hang around in the back of your church or ceremony area if you're short on time. You will get bombarded with hugs and kisses from well-meaning guests. They will all want to get a picture with you. This can be a big time-suck.
11. Cocktail Hour.
Do you want to attend Cocktail Hour, or did you want to make a grand entrance at your reception? Plan this out in your timeline.
12. The Reception.
This is where couples get a little stressed. During your reception, several items will need to happen. Here is a sample of what to include during your reception timeline:
Wedding Planner Tip: The cake should be cut an hour and half before your reception ends.
13. After the reception.
Your wedding is over. But you should still have a few things scheduled. Who is packing up your gifts? Are you coming back to your venue the next day to pick up your decor? Will your florist or rental company be coming back to pick up items? Are you having an after-party?
14. The next day.
If you are having a ton of guests in from out of town, it might be nice to plan a brunch the next day. Sometimes parents host out of town guests at their house. If you are planning something, make sure your guests know so they can plan accordingly.
A wedding planner can help you create a timeline. But there are also resources available to help you. Timeline Genius is a great website that creates timelines for you. I personally use Excel to help my couples stay on track. Once your timeline is finalized, make sure all of your vendors get a copy.
Wedding Planning can be a very stressful time, not only for the engaged couple, but for their families as well. Most people have never planned a wedding before, so they are trying to learn the process, and also realizing for the first time how much weddings cost. During this blog post we will give you some helpful tips and tricks to stay sane during one of the most stressful times of your life!
Talk with your family.
One of the first things you need to do to keep your sanity is to have frank conversations with anyone involved in your wedding. You need to talk to your fiance and family about what type of wedding you want, a budget and who is paying for what, and expectations. This can be a very difficult conversation to have, and this needs to be done early in the wedding planning process. You should know before you book your venue if your parents are contributing financially to your wedding. Also, have a set budget. Some couples open a separate bank account that is only used to pay for wedding-related items. This can help keep you from going over-budget.
Communicate with your vendors.
When you are interviewing and selecting vendors, make sure they are aware of your expectations. Don't be afraid to ask questions about the services they can perform. It's better to be upfront about what you want rather than to assume the vendor knows what you want.
Make sure you read each contract from your wedding vendors. This is so important, especially when it comes to venue contracts and catering contracts. If you have questions about what is included in your contract, call the vendor before you sign. They will be happy to explain their contract to you. This will eliminate any confusion moving forward.
Find resources that work for you.
If you are planning a wedding, you need something to keep you organized. Maybe it's a large binder that you keep all of your important documents in. Maybe it's an online organizer that keeps you on schedule. Whatever method you prefer, find something that works for you. Wedding planning is like taking on a part-time job. One secret I use for creating seating assignments and keeping track of meals is AllSeated. This is a free service and can be shared with your wedding vendors.
Limit the time you spend wedding planning.
Yes you read that correctly. It's so easy nowadays to get caught up on Pinterest and Etsy, and before you know it, five hours of your day just flew by. Limit the time each day you spend wedding planning. I tell all of my couples that you just need to carve out one hour each day to set aside for wedding planning. When you start to get stressed, plan a "wedding free" weekend where you do not do any wedding planning at all! Spend this time doing something that you enjoy doing--something you can do with your fiance. Maybe you used to go hiking on Saturday mornings. Grab your fiance and go for a hike! The wedding plans can wait.
Outsource certain tasks.
I realize not everyone has a million dollar wedding budget and you might not be able to completely outsource a lot of wedding planning tasks. But I do encourage you take take advantage of the resources right in front of you-- your friends and family. Believe it or not, your future mother-in-law might be dying for the chance to help out! Put her in charge of finding a florist. And don't let your fiance off the hook! Put him or her in charge of selecting your song playlist or have them come up with your 'signature drink' name. And your friend who just took a calligraphy course? Ask her to write out your escort cards or make a wedding sign. Family and friends love to feel like they were a part of making your big day so special. Don't feel that everything falls on you.
I know this is much easier said than done. But try not to fight with your fiance. Chances are, they are just as stressed as you. At the end of the day, remember that you are both on the same team.
Don't constantly talk about your wedding.
Are you the girl at work who updates her co-workers daily about her wedding? Don't be. Limit how much you talk about your wedding. Unless someone specifically asks you how your wedding plans are coming along, don't give a daily download. No one wants to hear about how you found your dream wedding dress but it doesn't come in 'off white'.
Realize that you are not an expert.
So you have a subscription to Brides magazine and you watch Say Yes to the Dress on the regular. You were a bridesmaid in three weddings and you have eleven Pinterest boards for your dream wedding. This does not make you an expert wedding planner, florist, photographer, caterer, or stationer. Your vendors have been in the event planning business for several years and have seen all types of weddings. They have seen what can go wrong when things are not done properly, or when there is no backup plan. Trust that your vendors know more about weddings than you do. Your photographer will know what time of day the sun will set, and your florist will know which flowers will look better in pictures based on the color of your bridesmaid dresses.
Maybe it's the 'wedding planner nerd' in me, but I absolutely love to put together Welcome Bags for guests. This task is normally done towards the end of the planning, when the wedding is just weeks, or days away. Welcome Bags are typically dropped off at the hotels where your guests will be staying. The hotel staff will give the bags to your guests when they check into the hotel.
I get a lot of questions from my clients around Welcome Bags. Putting these together should not cause any stress, and should not cost a lot of money. Throughout this blog I will go over a few simple rules to follow on how to put together the perfect Welcome Bag.
What do I need to include?
There are a few things that you really should include. Once you include these items, then you can get a little creative with other items to add. You need to include important information regarding the day's events. Is there a shuttle picking up guests from the hotel and taking them to the venue? Include that information, especially the times that the shuttle is coming, and how many trips it will be making. You can include a small map with directions from the hotel to the venue-- and don't forget to put the address of the venue and times that things start. Do you have a Day of Coordinator? You can include this persons name and phone number in case guests get lost. You don't want your guests to contact the bride, groom, or immediate family if they are lost. These people will most likely be very busy.
You can include a brochure of things to do or see in the area. Or you can type up some sightseeing ideas on a piece of cardstock. If you have a AAA membership you can stop by a local AAA store and pick up free brochures, or contact the local visitor center.
If you are having a breakfast the next day for guests, include this information as well. If there is a local taxi service, or if you have an Uber or LYFT code for guests, include that information.
And don't forget to include a welcome note from the couple. This adds a nice personal touch. The note can be as simple as "Welcome! Thank you for making the trip and sharing our special day with us."
What else should I include?
This is where you can get really creative. I always suggest including two bottles of water, and Tylenol or something for headaches. Travel size Tylenol will work just fine. Snacks are a great idea too. Try to include local snacks. Example: if you're getting married in Philadelphia include a Philly pretzel or tastycakes. If you're getting married down the shore, you can do a "beach theme" Welcome Bag, or you can include "something salty."
Some other ideas of what to include: breath mints, kleenex, band aids, chap stick, stain remover, sunscreen, sunglasses, a mini bottle of alcohol, a personalized 'do not disturb' sign for the door, an energy bar, a beer koozie. Again, just get travel size items. The dollar store is a great place to look for these items, or the travel section of Target or Walmart.
Does it have to be a bag?
Nope! I have seen Welcome Bags, Welcome Boxes, Welcome Baskets, Welcome Beach Bags, etc. Again, use your creativity! This should be something fun that reflects you as a couple, or goes with the theme of your wedding.
How can I make my Welcome Bags stand out?
Personalization is key! Your Welcome Bags should give guests a 'sneak peak' into your wedding- what the colors are, what the theme is, etc. I always suggest tying the bags or boxes with a cute personalized ribbon, or monogram.
Another cute idea is to name your Welcome Bags. A big trend right now is the "In Sickness and In Health" Bag, loaded with hangover cures like Tylenol, breath mints, and Visine.
The more personalization you can add, the better. I have seen really cute maps and itinerary's added to Welcome Bags. Go to WeddingMapper.com for a free, personalized wedding map. You can print these out on nice card stock and add to your Welcome Bag. Pinterest and Etsy are also great resources to look for inspiration.
Drop off the Welcome Bags at the hotel well before any of your guests will check in. Also, if possible, provide your hotel with a list of guests that are staying at the hotel. Make sure the staff knows to hand the bags to any guests that are attending your wedding. If you can, outsource this task to your Planner or a family member. And remember to have fun!
Eco-friendly weddings are becoming more and more popular, especially among millenials. Couples are having 'green' bridal showers and using recycled décor, and are constantly looking for more ways to be environmentally conscious when it comes to their wedding day. And why shouldn't they? The average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2!
Throughout this blog we will give you some tips for having an eco-friendly wedding, that your guests (and the environment) will thank you for.
The biggest eco-friendly impact to the environment would be conscious of where you hold your wedding. If all of your guests have to fly cross-country to see you get married, well, then your wedding is not eco-friendly. And getting married outdoors is the most environmentally-friendly option since the sun will provide your lighting and you will not use much electricity. You can also ask your venue if they recycle or compost.
Again, having a local wedding that is close to your guests will cut down on gas emissions. But your guests will still have to travel to attend your wedding. If you are providing a transportation service for your guests, use an eco-friendly car service like DrivenEco or Eco-Limo.
For the couple, how about arriving in style in a horse-drawn carriage? Not only is this a super-stylish way to make an entrance, but you will not be using gas!
Ask your caterers if they can provide vegetarian and organic entrees. More and more couples want local, farm-to-table food served at their wedding. Also consider what you are dining on. If your location doesn't provide dishes, consider renting them to avoid using disposable plates.
Couples spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on stationary. Everything from bridal shower invitations to Save-the-Dates to wedding rehearsal invitations to wedding invitations. And don't forget about envelopes and postage. You can do electronic invitations for some of these events- just make sure you have all of your guests correct email addresses. And follow up with a phone call to any guests who may not be tech-savvy.
If you must print, use recycled paper. It's an easy way to create green invitations or ceremony programs. Ask your stationary vendor if they can print on recycled paper or recycle the leftover scraps. You can also create a wedding Web site where your guests can find directions, reply, and find out hotel information. This will cut down on the information you will need to provide with your invitations.
For your flowers, choose a local, organic florist to arrange your centerpieces and bouquets. For a summer wedding, use farmers' market finds to create bouquet and table arrangements. A huge trend right now is to donate your floral centerpieces after your wedding. There are non-profit organizations who will come to your venue, pick up your florals, and take them to a nursing home or hospital to brighten up someone's day. This is a great way to get the most shelf life out of your florals.
Still have your mom's or a loved ones wedding gown? Maybe it's not your style. But you can have it to have remade into a new, trendy dress. Or, you can use elements of the dress for your accessories. You can use your mom's fabric from her dress to make your belt. Or you can wear your grandmother's veil instead of buying a new one. I used fabric from my mom's wedding dress to hold my bouquet of flowers together.
After the wedding is over, are you ever going to wear that wedding dress again? If not, recycle it! If you want to donate it to a worthy organization, think about donating the dress to Brides for a Cause. Brides for a Cause is a non-profit that collects and resells wedding dressing for various charitable organizations. You can also donate to Brides Across America, which gives free wedding dresses to military brides who are facing deployment or financial hardships.
Choosing local vendors is a great way to keep the transportation emissions low, and support your local community. Ask your wedding vendors what they can do to be more environmentally conscious for you. Caterers can make the most impact with the services they provide. Also some wedding professionals are certified in green weddings.
Did you know that there are a ton of environmentally-friendly hotels? Also, make sure that you block off hotel rooms that are close to your venue-- this will cut down on travel.
This is where you can get really creative. Donations made to your favorite charity in lieu of favors is a big trend right now. Or you can give seeds to be planted, or small potted plants or succulents.
Decor is another area where you can get really creative. Vases can be filled with discarded wine corks. This looks chic, and it will go with most color schemes. You can put eco-friendly floral arrangements or terrariums in household items, like clear, used light bulbs. When making signs, use repurposed wood.
When it comes to choosing a ring, make sure to use jewelers that are green-friendly. More and more, jewelers are using recycled gold and fair-labor gemstones. To make sure you are not purchasing a "blood diamond," ask your jeweler about the origin of the stone.
Pay close attention to where items are made and what materials are sourced. Consider items like organic bedding, cloth shopping bags, reusable bamboo plates and natural kitchen and bath products. If you'd rather forego a traditional registry altogether, consider asking for a charitable donation to go towards a green organization or register for part of your honeymoon in lieu of traditional gifts. Ask guests to not wrap gifts.
When you're planning your honeymoon, keep in mind the practice of ecotourism, which is defined by The International Ecotourism Society as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." Check out their Web site for ideas and sources to plan an eco-friendly honeymoon.
If your wedding isn't 100% eco-friendly, don't get discouraged! Take pride in knowing that you are doing your best to protect the environment. If you get stuck or need some more ideas on how to have a green wedding, contact a wedding planner! And don't forget to have fun!
According to recent research, couples will spend close to 900 hours planning a wedding. However, when I start to work with a couple, I often find that their ceremony is lacking any type of thought or detail. I hear a lot of "we're just having a quick 20 minute ceremony" or "we're not religious". Religious or not, you need to fill that "quick 20 minute ceremony" with some substance.
Even Mindy Weiss, celebrity event planner, was recently quoted in an interview saying that the number one mistake couples make is not putting enough thought into their ceremony.
Couples think that an officiant will magically come up with meaningful material to make their ceremony beautiful. Often times, the officiant does not know the couple very well and struggles to come up with the right words to fit the couples personality. Couples wait until the last minute to pick readings, and to ask family or friends to be a part of their ceremony. Ceremony programs are usually an after-thought.
As a wedding planner, I encourage all couples to put just as much thought into your ceremony as you put into your reception. I see couples spend hours researching the best Photobooth company, yet they have no clue who will be escorting their mother down the aisle.
Set aside several hours during your wedding planning process to plan out your ceremony. Meet with your priest or officiant months before your wedding to learn what their process is and what they require from you.
Start to visualize how you want your ceremony to flow. Who can you ask to be a reader? What type of readings do you want spoken at your ceremony? And vows? Writing your own vows takes a lot of time and practice.
Spend some time thinking about the music for your ceremony. How do you want to exit your ceremony? Recently, I worked with a couple who had each wedding guest release butterflies as they were announced Mr. and Mrs. It was absolutely beautiful, and it was a reflection of who they were as a couple.
Your ceremony is a reflection of you and your soon-to-be-spouse. Even if you are not religious, a ceremony is a joining together of two people, and two families. So put some effort into your ceremony, and if you get stuck reach out to a planner for some expert help.
There is a lot of weird stuff that takes place at a wedding. Ever stop to wonder why people throw rice, why the cake cutting is such a big deal, or why there is a bouquet toss? Here we try to explain the meaning behind some common wedding traditions.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Ever hear of this popular saying before? A bride is supposed to walk down the aisle in "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue". This saying has been around since Victorian times. The "something old" represents the link to the bride's family and her old life; "something new" represents the couple's new life together and their future hope for happiness, prosperity and success; "something borrowed" from a happily married woman is meant to impart similar happiness to the bride; and "something blue" represents fidelity and constancy.
White Bridal Dresses
Wearing white also dates back to Victorian times when Queen Victoria abandoned the usual royal tradition of wearing a silver gown, instead choosing to wear white. Before that time brides simply wore their best gown, rather than a special bridal gown. The popularity of white can also be attributed to it symbolizing purity and virginity. White was also thought to ward off evil spirits. Here is a traditional rhyme about wedding colors:
Marry in white, you have chosen right
Marry in blue, your lover is true.
Marry in pearl, you'll live in a whirl.
Marry in brown, you'll live out of town.
Marry in red and you will wish yourself dead.
Marry in yellow, you are ashamed of your fellow.
Marry in green, you should be ashamed to be seen.
Marry in pink and your fortunes will sink.
Marry in gray and you will travel far away.
Marry in black, you will wish yourself back.
Showering the couple with rice is an ancient tradition. As rice is considered a "life giving" seed it is thought that by throwing in on the couple they will be bestowed with fertility and have many children. Many churches now forbid throwing rice, so modern couples are opting for bubbles or confetti.
Weddings cakes were a symbol of fertility dating back to Roman times. When a couple cuts their first slice of cake together it symbolizes a fruitful marriage. Centuries ago, the cake was broken over the bride's head while guests scrambled to get pieces that were thought to be lucky. An old wives tale is that unmarried girls should sleep with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow if they wished to dream of their future husband.
Wedding and engagement rings are traditionally worn on the third finger on the left hand. Any other finger is considered unlucky. Egyptians and early Greeks believed that an artery ran from this finger to the heart. The symbol of the circular ring symbolizes unity for lovers.
Some say that wedding veils date back to Roman times to ward off evil sports. Another thought is that during arranged marriages, a bride's face was covered until after the wedding vows in case the groom did not like what he saw and changed his mind.
In Saxon times, Best Men were thought to be partners in crime, helping the groom to kidnap his bride. The role of bridesmaids was to protect the bride from evil and to help her dress when she was at her most vulnerable. Bridesmaid dresses used to mirror the brides dress to confuse the evil spirits so they could not be sure which was the real bride.