12 Essential Wedding Planning Tips + Tricks
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
In this blog post, we’ll share 12 tips and tricks to reduce your stress, and save your sanity throughout the wedding planning process!
1. Guests Before Venue
When deciding on your venue, it’s helpful to narrow down an approximate number of guests that you’d like to invite before making the final call. A general rule of thumb is that your venue space should allow 25 to 30 feet per guest to accommodate tables, waiters, musicians, and a dance floor.
2. Investigate Your Wedding Date
When selecting potential wedding dates, be sure to research your date and your venue's location! Conduct a Google search to see if there are any conferences, conventions, festivals, or local activities being held in town on/around your big day that could impact your venue's surrounding area, traffic, and hotel availability.
It’s also important to consider significant dates for those closest to you such as family and college reunions, holiday weekends, leap years, and religious holidays as these can potentially impact your guests' availability to attend your special day. Lastly, when selecting your wedding date keep in mind that Friday and Sunday weddings typically cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings!
3. Plan to Best Mother Nature’s Snafus
Weather can play a big factor on your wedding day! When planning for outdoor weddings and celebrations, it's better to plan for the unexpected than to be unprepared in a crunch. Whether it's establishing a rain plan, ordering a heated tent, or simply providing bug repellents - consider how your venue and weather will impact your guests' experience and do what you can to resolve potential issues before they arise.
4. Let One Vendor Lead You to Another
Asking for referrals from someone you trust is one of the best ways to find potential wedding vendors! Whether you consult your wedding planner or your cousin who got married last year, turn to people in your life who have recently thrown a wedding or celebration and ask them which vendor outshined the rest.
Also, ask about vendors they didn't love working with and what they would improve if they could plan their event again. Once you begin to book your vendors, ask them which vendors they would use if they were getting married and let one vendor lead you into another!
You can also visit different online wedding sites like The Knot, WeddingWire, and Wedding Chicks, which offer customer reviews for wedding vendors across various specialties.
5. Trim Your List, Save Your Pockets
Your guest list affects 80% of your wedding budget! From centerpieces to food, alcohol to the amount of ice, the average cost of a wedding guest is $100 per person. As almost half of your wedding expenses involve feeding and entertaining your guests, the easiest way to maximize your budget is to trim your guest list. If you’re spending $100 per guest, eliminating one table of 10 people can save you $1,000 — massively impacting your bottom line!
Your vendor count can also impact your budget and guest count. Typically, vendors who work six or more hours on your wedding day (wedding planner, photographers, videographers, DJ/band members, etc.) are provided with vendor meals.
Review your contracts to determine if you're required to provide meals for your vendors and if you're required to serve them the same meal as your guests. Keep those numbers in mind as you’re putting together your list, and it will keep you grounded as you navigate through the harder decisions.
6. It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask your venue and potential vendors in-depth about their services, price, and most importantly, customizations and additional add-ons! Remember that vendors are typically more willing to agree to specific package customizations and add-ons before you sign your contract, rather than saying no and risk losing your business.
In saying this, it is also crucial to consider all the work behind-the-scenes that your vendors do to bring your vision to life, as well as factoring in the average rates of professionals in your area. While you want to try to negotiate the best deal for your budget, you never want to insult your vendors and undermine their worth and experience. You never know what the outcome will be and the worst they can say is “no.”
7. Organization Is Key
Preparing for a wedding is unquestionably hectic, but it’s crucial that you set time aside to keep track of all essential wedding documents, contracts, and other relevant information. Whether you make a separate email strictly dedicated to wedding correspondence or simply keep track of these things using a wedding binder, find a method of organization that works for you and your partner to ensure nothing will be forgotten.
Keep track of all your correspondence with your vendors in one place, where you’ll be able to document changes in agreements, store tear-outs of ideas for vendors, or anything wedding related. Be sure to have any changes to your contracts documented in writing. Whether it’s an email saying, "just wanted to confirm our agreement to keep the venue open until 2 AM" or asking your vendor to send over an amended contract reflecting the changes - never assume things are set in stone unless you have the documents to prove it.
Consider using apps such as Trello or Google Keep to create to-do lists and to remind you of tasks that need to be completed. Websites such as CaratsandCake, WeddingWire, and Joy also offer online wedding tools to help streamline your planning.
8. Allocate Your Budget
Below is an example of a standard wedding budget. However, our BTLE team knows that nothing about our couples or their celebrations is average, so use this budget breakdown as a guide but be sure to customize it to fit your priorities and individual needs.
Venue — 19%
Photo & Video — 15%
Surprise/Miscellaneous Expenses — 10%
Catering — 15%
Florals — 9%
Apparel, Jewelry & Accessories — 5%
Rentals — 5%
Wedding Coordinator — 5%
Music / DJ — 4%
Liquor & Spirits — 3%
Dessert — 3%
Stationary — 3%
Hair, Makeup & Grooming — 1%
Browse through the categories listed and once you're done, assign a number to each—one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes!
Pro Tip: Start your budget planning by downloading our free Wedding Budget Planning Sheet! Get yours today by entering your email for your free download linked here!
9. There’s No Wrong Way
Your vendors are there to help you bring your celebration to life! As you plan your big day, think of your vendor team as your support system; their role is to assist and guide you as you navigate the planning process.
Communicate your honest thoughts and opinions, provide photos as visual aids to help convey your vision, and ask questions to clarify what you don't understand. You should be able to have an open and honest conversation with your wedding team and feel free to explore your ideas until you’re able to finalize what it is that you want. It’s your day and there is no right or wrong way - customize to fit your needs, your love story, and your personalities!
10. Set Your Policies & Stick to Them
When it comes to whether or not to invite kids to your celebration, you have five basic options. You can either: welcome guests and their children with open arms, decide if you’d prefer to have an adults-only celebration, invite the children who are included in your immediate family or wedding party, set an age limit, or hire someone to watch and entertain the kids during your festivities.
As a general rule, to help avoid hurting feelings about whose kids get an invite and whose don’t, set a standard policy when it comes to inviting kids and stick to it!
11. Prioritize Your Guest’s Presence
When trying to narrow down who you should and shouldn’t invite to join you in your celebration, try organizing your potential guests into tiers based on the priority of their attendance. Immediate family, best friends, and your wedding party are placed in the top tier. Your extended family such as aunts, uncles, and cousins are placed in the second tier, along with close friends you couldn’t imagine celebrating without.
Under them, come your parents' friends, old college friends you haven’t spoken to in years, neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else whose presence isn’t critical. The tiers come in handy when you need to begin making cuts to your guest list. You start from the bottom tier and cut until you reach your ideal guest count.
If your guest list is bursting at the seams, then you know it's time to assess your plus-one scenario. When you're making your guest list, create a faux seating chart in your mind, and imagine who you think your single friend would most enjoy sitting with.
If it's a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you're all set. If it's a table of couples where she would be the odd one out or if it's a table of singles where she won't quite fit in, you may need to consider bending the rules.
If any of your single friends ask why they aren't allowed to bring a plus-one, know that limited venue space, budget constraints, or your parents' never-ending guest list are always good excuses!
12. Take It One Step At a Time
Put together a wedding planning schedule and tackle the list one task at a time. Moving in a logical order will help you rank the importance of your tasks. For example, don't hire any vendors before you've confirmed your date and don't book a band before you've settled on a space.
Tackling your wedding planning agenda in a logical hierarchy will save you unnecessary stress and ensure that nothing is booked too hastily. It is critical that you are being realistic with your time, as for most of us it's extremely limited.
When you're a month out from your wedding, look at your to-do list and cut three things. Yes, either cut three things or assign them to someone you trust as long as it isn't you or your fiancé. Don't cut crucial things that you just don't feel like doing. Eliminate only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting "Just Married" signs, or baking cookies for all of the welcome bags. Cross them off and make a pledge not to think about them again!