Venue: You Said Yes. Now It's Time to Plan
There was a proposal and you said yes! Now comes the fun part — planning one of the most exciting and memorable days of your life.
If you aren’t one of those people who has been dreaming about your wedding since you were in grade school, sit down with your partner and talk about these things:
Vibe – Formal or casual? Elegant or rustic? Elaborate or simple? Your wedding is a very personal event and one that should be a reflection of you…it’s your party, and you can have pink champagne flutes, a horse-drawn carriage, a pig roast, and a steel drum band if you want them!
Location – Which venue will provide the best space for your vibe? Indoors or out? Somewhere special to the both of you? Travel time for loved ones a consideration? Hotel proximity? Will the venue be a “one stop shop” for rentals, catering, and related wedding inclusions or will you choose a wedding venue even if you have to bring everything in?
Date – What season? Any significant dates pop into mind? Will your wedding span a weekend or will all activities take place on one date?
BUDGET – Notice it’s in all caps. It’s not worth going into debt for a wedding. Period. You may have great visions of an elaborate affair but the bottom line is: After the wedding, you’re back in reality with existing bills and maybe more bills in the future if kids are in the plan. Set a budget that’s within your means and won’t stress your household finances. If you’re fortunate enough to have family help, have a conversation about any expectations surrounding their contribution. At the end of the day, it’s YOUR DAY, so any contributions will hopefully be given without any expectations attached.
Food & Drink – Clearly this will complement your “vibe” but it’s an important piece of the puzzle. Will you serve cocktail-style fare? Host a sit-down dinner? BBQ or classic Maine Lobster Bake? Pig roast? Buffet style? Open bar or signature drinks? Champagne toasts? There are a ton of great options out there but keep in mind, there is no volume discount for wedding food and drink. The higher guest count number, the higher the cost.
Entertainment – What’s the best way to celebrate? Dancing to a great 80’s cover band or a DJ with something for everyone? Something a bit more elegant like a string quartet? Once selected, consider what their needs are in terms of a stage and electricity. With entertainment and dancing comes the need for a dance floor. Does your venue offer one or will you need to bring one in? If an outdoor wedding, will you have games or fun stuff for guests to do? Ladder ball? Corn hole? (For those corn hole lovers out there, a custom corn hole set makes a great gift for your spouse!)
Wedding Planner – Having a wedding planner was important to me. Yes, I wanted to be a part of all the planning, but I wanted to enjoy my day, too. You can work with a planner from Day One, who will be there through every step, or do most of the planning yourself and hire someone for “day of" execution. Both are great options and well worth the spend.
Get Started! – Once you’ve made some decisions surrounding these details, it’s time to take action. We’ve compiled some of the best checklists we could find on Pinterest. Click through to find some printable lists that will be a real help.
Hindsight is 20/20
Let me share a few things I would have done differently if I had a “do over” for my wedding at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. It was a HOT summer day and the vibe and execution of the details totally reflected my husband and me. Overall, it was a great time. Looking back, though, I would have changed a couple of things:
Budget – My destination Maine wedding was beautiful (more on that in a future post), but I could have cut my guest list a bit and spent less money. It was a big chunk of change that would have come in handy with current house projects.
Savor the Day – I ran around all day saying hello to my guests, instead of savoring my day with my new husband. I can’t stress enough — please, please, please let your guests come to YOU and try to eat, drink, and be merry with your spouse at your side.
Choose (and Stick to) a Shot List – Work with your photographer to create a list of important photos to capture. We didn’t and I wish we had. This is probably one of the few times you will have multiple generations together, college roommates together, all of your loved ones together! Take lots of photos of you looking your prettiest with your people. The “first look” concept is a good one and allows you, your spouse-to-be, and your wedding party to get those photos out of the way so you can take other key photos right after the ceremony and then, ENJOY!
Step Back for the Big Picture – Think about what your day will look like and how entertainment will fit into that picture. We had rented Adirondack chairs that we spread out around the grassy courtyard in different areas. We had ladder ball and corn hole. We had a great band under a tent. People were so spread out that there wasn’t as much dancing and there really wasn’t a focal point to the event. It was fun and people celebrated at their own pace, but there wasn’t a large, centralized gathering place – which ultimately changed the shape of the day.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, however your day plays out… enjoy!