First steps to planning your wedding

Planning Your Own Wedding

Whether you are working with a professional wedding planner or braving the planning process on your own, these three pillars or early wedding planning, large as they may be, truly are what becomes the difference in a well planned wedding day and weddings that have an atmosphere of stress looming over them. So let’s get into it!

Wedding Budgeting & Priority Mapping

First and foremost, if you have not read my post on the 5 Ways To Budget For Your Wedding I highly encourage you check it out for a deep dive into this wedding planning pillar. Understanding where the financing for your wedding day is coming from and having clear financial limitations are key parts to successful and realistic wedding planning. No matter if your budget is $50,000 or $500,000 there will always be a budget to work within and consider when making vendor and design decisions.

When you have worked out your wedding budget, the next step is to prioritize your wishes. Most wedding planning sites out there will tell you to budget a certain % for specific vendor categories (ie. 10% for your wedding planner) which is a great place to get a BROAD idea of what you may expect to spend. The problem here is that the number you get is purely based on your total budget. It does not guarantee that any particular vendor category will be feasible within that amount. Because of this we work with our couples to discuss what will matter most to them. I always ask “when you think about your wedding day what do you see, what are you doing, what details are you already so excited to start talking about?” The answers they give will tell me all I need to know to start ranking their vendor needs by priority. By ranking your vendors by priority we are able to allocate the needed funds to the areas that will matter most and make the most impact on a couples experience and memories of their wedding day rather than spreading their budget generically and allocating more to vendors that don’t resonate with them as much.

Understanding key wedding vendor roles and who you need.

Understanding the roles of your potential wedding vendors plays a huge role into intentionally sourcing and building a strong vendor team. When you fail to understand the nuanced differences you may assume more of one vendor than what they actually provide. This can leave you with noticeable holes in your day of logistics that lead to additional unexpected costs close to wedding day in order to ensure those needs are fulfilled.

To give you a surface level idea of some of the necessary and key vendor roles, lets look at them below, but be sure to follow us on instagram in the coming weeks as we deep dive on each and every one of these roles and how to effectively inquire with them:

  • Venue with food and beverage
    • When working with a venue that has in house food and beverage their role becomes one that hosts your wedding from a physical standpoint as well as where all food and bar services will be coming from as well. These venues often manage the responsibility of the setup and breakdown of all items included such as tables, base linens, flatware, and chairs.
  • Venue without in house food and beverage
    • A venue without food and beverage on site will require you to bring in an outside catering team. In many cases they will have a set list of catering companies for you to choose from that have been approved and provide the level of service the venue will expect of this vendor role. Often times any base inclusions, such as tables and chairs, will not be managed by the venue leaving you to ensure your catering team will indeed fill this need.
  • Catering
    • Catering companies can vary but we always highly recommend you look for what we call a “full service” catering company. Typically when a venue requires off site catering, even if they provide tables and chairs, it will fall on someone other than the venue to set these items up. A full service catering company will set up and break down these items as part of their overall services, they often assist in handling rental items that they may need depending on the venue and your vision. Think elevated linens, chargers, plates, and so on. 
  • Rentals
    • Most venues will have some sort of base inclusions that could include tables, chairs, house linen, and house flatware. All wonderful inclusions, however they leave you limited in your table-scape design. When looking for an elevated look you will need to bring in an outside rental company to do this. Some venues and catering teams will assist with this and require rentals come through them which makes it all the easier!
  • Specialty Rentals
    • Specialty rentals are what we consider to be large elements of your decor design. Think lounge sets, drapery, lighting, large signage or feature walls, specialty bars, you name it! Some larger rental companies will have these items, but sometimes they will be coming from companies that specialize in these items specifically. A great example that I LOVE working with here is VA is Paisley and Jade. These rental companies become the cherry on top of your design concept and may be required to go through your venue.
  • Florals
    • Florists are truly the artists of wedding day in my opinion. Your florist will handle all of the design specifics that their florals involve such as ceremony design, centerpieces, specialty adornments to large installments such as seating charts and bars. They are the ones responsible for bringing everything in, setting it up, and breaking it all down at the end of the night. It’s because of this we always recommend highly qualified florists that specialize in weddings. It is a very different ball game and florists that only dabble in weddings often underperform in the demand required of them for such an event. Additionally, florists are also your candle purveyors as well, so if you have a vision of minimal florals and heavy candle work know that your florists are still the route to go.
  • Baker
    • Your baker will be responsible for providing the cake and or other desserts for your wedding day. They will also be the vendor that you will be able to rent a cake stand and or display shelving through if offered.
  • Hair and Makeup artists
    • Hair and Makeup teams are the true MVP’s of wedding day setup as they are often the first vendor you will see on your wedding day (bright and early). As their category implies, they are responsible for providing hair and makeup for bridal party, and potential family the day of the wedding.
  • Stationer
    • Stationers play a very important role that is often looked over. A professional stationer will take your wedding day from save the date through day of signage and needs. Think beyond just paper with your stationer. When you choose to go the direction of a stock service such as Minted, it is extremely important that you understand that you do give up creative freedoms when taking this route so it may take you longer to find what you want, and you may have to compromise on your overall design.
  • Photographer
    • Photographers play a HUGE role in the flow and preservation of your wedding day. They are responsible for following the timeline your wedding planner has laid out for them, capturing all the key wedding details and moments in time.
  • Videographer
    • Your videographers role is to work along side your photographer capturing the same details, plus the movement, voices, and complete moments in time. Think about your first look. Your photographer will capture the moment in frames. Your videographer will capture the moment as it was.
  • DJ/Band
    • The entertainment direction you choose has a huge impact on the experience of the day. Their role is to manage the musical elements of the day as well as operate as the general MC. Just like every other vendor role it is important to ensure you are working with a wedding professional. A DJ or band from your local bar or restaurant that you love may be fun, but they may be horrible in the setting of a wedding, and whose mistakes are clearly and loudly made for all your guests to notice…. the stories I could tell.
  • Wedding Planner
    • Your wedding planner is the glue that holds your entire wedding planning process and wedding day together. Be it a base service level or a full planning and design service we are the ones walking along side you, pulling the logistics together, ensuring no small detail is overlooked, and acting as the point of contact for the many many MANY emails and meetings between engagement and wedding day. Hiring a wedding planner is genuinely the best insurance policy you could invest in for your wedding and will be what allows you to be the guest of honor at your wedding day rather than the host.
  • Venue Coordinator
    • Often mistaken as a wedding planner, your venue coordinator is there to ensure everything the venue is offering is properly aligned, and is beholden to the venue. Should an issue arise with the space (lets say a fuse blows) your venue coordinator will be the one to resolve this issue. If any detail, vendor, or need outside of what the venue immediately provides needs tweaking or adjusting your venue coordinator is not the responsible one. This is where your wedding planner comes in.
  • Insurance
    • Some venues will require you to hold your own liability insurance. This is to protect you, as well as the venue in the event of an emergency and is important to consider. It is also extremely important that your vendor team be licensed and insured. Most venues will require a copy of a vendors insurance with the venue listed as additionally insured and their business license be on file for them to be permitted on site to perform their services. Outside of this frequently found requirement, having licensed and insured vendors is a great way to ensure you are working with true professionals and not someone who is dabbling in weddings. You wouldn’t let your cousin build you a house because they watched a few YouTube videos and felt inspired… would you?

All very surface level descriptions, but understanding even just this much can shed some light on your vendor procurement process. Every expectation you have for your wedding day will have a specific vendor that is responsible for curating and executing that element. If you choose to forego a professional vendor for any reason it is important to know that that does not mean the role disappears and it does not mean that another vendor will fill the void out of the kindness of their heart.

Curating your Wedding Design Concept

With endless inspiration out there it can be near impossible to not find yourself swept up in the thrill of it all. We LOVE to see the wedding inspiration our couples come to us with. However, inspiration from someone else’s wedding or a styled shoot will only get you so far.

Creating a general design concept will be the most important step in ensuring an intentional and cohesive wedding design. Although a simple surface level design document, it is one that gives all of your creative vendors clear direction, colors, aesthetic, and parameters to take into consideration when creating for your wedding day.

When building a general wedding design concept for my couples I break things into three key elements:

  • A full custom color palette with color weight broken down
    • This allows all of your vendors to understand what colors are most important, the underlying tone of your vision, and ensures a creative vendor doesn’t latch onto one color and unintentionally make it the primary focus of their designs when that is not your intent.
  • An aesthetic inspiration board to convey the overall feel and look we will be achieving come wedding day.
    • Pulling together photos of varying types to convey an overall aesthetic for your vision will help your vendor team understand the atmosphere we are working to curate. This along with your color palette really drive home the complete tone of your vision.
  • Written descriptions breaking down each of the two main elements as well as noting creative considerations for pointed vendors.
    • With a color palette and aesthetic inspiration board in place, using written descriptions for the day, creative considerations, and your back story will be the final touch that will help your vendor team understand the full vision and nuanced depth of your story.

Once you have finalized your general design concept you can then distribute it to your creative vendors and watch them work their magic and curate proposals that are far more custom and accurate than they would be without this pointed design direction.

So where does this leave you?

Wedding planning is no small endeavor and has a reputation of being stressful. This is such an intimate and intentional time in your early relationship and with the right guidance, strong vendor team, and clear vision you will quickly see that the stressful connotation is simply a result inexperienced couples underestimating the sheer amount of work, knowledge, and skill that planning a luxury event like this demands. By taking the time to slow down and plant yourself firmly in these three foundational pillars you are setting yourself up for a more intentional planning process. Take your wedding planning journey one step at a time, build on your foundation until you reach the top of the mountain and when you look back you will find you enjoyed every moment of it along the way!

Sincerely Jane Team
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