Congratulations to all the couples that have become newly engaged over the holidays! This is such a FUN and EXCITING season of life, but I know as a past bride myself, it can also be stressful! Unless you have an event planning background, designing and executing a Pinterest-worthy wedding can be overwhelming, so I wanted to share a few tips with you today on what to tackle first (after you're done celebrating of course!) The very best advice I can give is to first go get a manicure; lots of people are going to want to see your new bling!!
1. Choose a date, month or season for the wedding.
Some couples want to choose an exact date first, because it may have sentimental value, or be close to your parents wedding anniversary, for example, and that's wonderful! If possible though, I would recommend simply choosing a month or even season and then mostly leaving the date TBD before your venue search (excluding any major holidays, planned travel dates, etc)! You would be really surprised to find out how quickly some wedding venues book up for certain times of the year or weekends, and if you have your heart set on a particular venue, you don't want to already be locked into a date that they don't have available! The season and venue will both also dictate the theme you decide on for your wedding; for example a wedding in mid-December could have "wintry" touches, like Christmas ornament favors, romantic lighting and the incorporation of seasonal (read amazing smelling) greenery!
2. Choose a venue.
Here in Virginia, we have TONS of amazing wedding venues to choose from, that will fit any wedding theme, time of year or budget! A few of my favorites that I have worked at are: Trump Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia, Half Moone Celebration Center in Norfolk, Virginia, Ashton Creek Vineyard near Richmond, Virginia, and Early Mountain Vineyards, near Charlottesville, Virignia. After you have narrowed down a date, month or season, go check out some venues you like! Keep in mind that even if the venue is booked up for Saturdays, Fridays and Sundays are great alternatives, and you will most likely receive a discount! Try to visit the venue during the season you are thinking about getting married in- if it's an outdoor venue, it could look very different in March vs October! It's nice to be able to envision how the immediate surroundings will look on YOUR special day!
3. Choose a photographer and/or wedding planner.
After you have selected your venue, it's now time to choose your wedding photographer and/or wedding planner! These vendors typically can only take on one wedding a day, (your wedding photographer can't be two places at once), so start researching and chatting with vendors that you like! Bonus: if you choose a full-service wedding planner (to help you throughout the entire planning process), they can assist you with selecting a venue, photographer and more! Most photographers and wedding planners should have an online portfolio of their work, positive wedding reviews, and extensive information about their business processes. Contact vendors that you feel a good connection with, instead of price-shopping; it really does make a difference to have your wedding photos or planning in the hands of someone you TRUST instead of a random person you just found on Craiglist that has never shot a wedding before! If you need any vendor recommendations, let me know! I would be happy to pass a few names along of people I love to work with!!!
4. Begin to explore wedding themes, color palettes and design elements and secure design vendors.
Once you have some of your essential details secured, like photographer, planner and venue, you can begin to focus on the fun stuff!! Selecting a color palette, personalized design elements and seasonally-inspired floral options are all part of creating your wedding design! Sometimes a wedding planner will assist you with this, but you can also bring on a wedding designer and/or floral designer to help you curate a customized celebration. In my area of Virginia, wedding floral designers are booked for weddings between 6-9 months prior to the date, so if you have been following along with someone on Instagram or you received a word-of-mouth referral, be sure to contact that florist quickly! I know I'm biased when I say this, but flowers are truly the center of your wedding design, aesthetically speaking, so it's important to select someone you feel listens to your wishes and gives you personalized ideas and design tips. If you need some advice on what to ask a florist you are considering to design your wedding, check out one of my other blog posts here, where I share some advice on how to prepare for your initial consultation!Obviously, securing a floral designer for your wedding is important, but there are other design-related vendors that you should consider hiring as well! Custom stationery, calligraphy, linens, cake artist, welcome bags and more all influence the look and feel of your wedding, and each of those vendors can help you really define your customized wedding design!
I hope these tips were helpful to you as you begin to think about your own wedding planning process! Feel free to email me directly with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in working with CIE for your 2017 wedding, head over to THIS page to check your date!
Top stock image: SC Stockshop / Bottom grid images: Audrey Rose Photography