Saturday, October 6, 2012

Planning Your Dream Wedding: Where to Begin!

It is pretty common knowledge these days that planning a wedding is hard work! As we have mentioned in other blogs, there are many details that need to be addressed: venue, catering, finding your dress, hiring a planner, etc. With this crazy to-do list looming over you, you might be thinking "Where do I even begin?"

Of course, hiring a planner will help because they will create a detailed timeline for you of all the aspects of planning and when each should be started and completed but what about actually hiring a planner? How far in advance should that be done??

Many wedding websites offer free Wedding Planning Timeline templates but some are better than others. If you stumble across a timeline that includes many details you didn't even want to include in your wedding, it can make the process overwhelming and confusing! Here we have taken some of the basic wedding planning to-do's and outlined the best process for getting started (and finished) with them.

Hiring A Wedding Planner or Coordinator

This is the biggest one to think about because once you have a planner booked, they can help you with all the other details. In most cases, the best time to hire a planner is 8-12 months before your wedding. This gives enough time to space out all of the planning tasks so that you aren't stuck pulling everything together in the last two months. You can begin with tasks such as generating ideas for themes and decor and then move on the the more tangible tasks such as going on site visits or to tastings.

Finding and Ordering Your Dress

Choosing a wedding dress is one of the most fun parts of the wedding planning process and we see women in our shop come in as early as 1.5 years before their wedding and as last minute as a few months before. Wedding gown designers vary in production time but it is safe to assume 6 months for production and delivery and 1 month for alteration. That being said, the best time to order your dress is 7-8 before you need to wear it. If you plan on getting a bridal portrait done, make sure you order your dress in time for the portrait date, not just the wedding date. Keep in mind that you may need to shop around a little before you find THE dress, so start looking a few months to a few weeks before the date that you'll need to order.

Hiring a Caterer

You can begin scheduling tastings as far in advance as you like or as your engagement period permits. Ideally you'll want to have the caterer BOOKED 10-12 months before the wedding to be sure they won't become all booked for that day.  Remember that food is going to be one of the details of the wedding that your guests will remember the most so you want to be sure it is good! Some venues will require you to use their house caterer or one from their preferred vendors list. This can help to narrow down your choices, which can be a good thing, but if you have your heart set on a particular caterer that is not on the preferred list, check with your venue; sometimes they will allow outside caterers for a fee. It can't hurt to ask! In addition to choosing a caterer and menu items, you will need to decide what kind of set up you want; buffet or seated dinner, action stations or butler passed hors d'oeuvres, etc. As far as knowing how much food to order,  caterers usually allow you to change your guest count up to a month or so before the wedding, with a final head count given a few weeks before.

Choosing and Booking a Venue

 Venues are more busy during peak wedding months so if you are getting married between April and October, you will find that venues are booked several months or even over a year in advance.  It is best to have the venue booked as early as possible because other vendors will need to know the venue set up for their purposes, for example a caterer needs to see what kind of kitchen and prep area is available. If you can book 8 months before your wedding date, that is ideal but it is best not to wait any longer than 6 months before the date. Keep in mind that popular venues and dates will book very early so it may be necessary to book much earlier.

Hiring a Florist

You can begin thinking about the types and colors of flowers that you may want as soon as you begin your planning process. However, you do not need to meet with and book a florist until about 4-5 months before your wedding. If you plan on visiting several florists before you make your decision, allow yourself an additional month for choosing time. Be sure to ask if the florist is available for your wedding date before you even see them for a consultation. You don't want to be disappointed if you love their work but they already have 4 weddings on your chosen weekend! Like with any vendor, if a florist is very much in demand, they may be booked very far in advance.

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