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When should we start planning?
You should start planning as soon as possible. Ten to 12 months before your ideal wedding date is the best time to begin. However, many venue book up more than 12 months in advance so if you have had your heart set on a particular or popular venue that is meaningful to you, you may need to start your planning process earlier.
Where should we start?
Establish your budget and preliminary guest list. These two things tie together. For example, you can’t invite 300 guests and have a budget of $10,000. If you want your wedding small and intimate, then the $10,000 budget may be reasonable. These two things also impact the venue you select as well. You don’t want to have a venue that hold 300 guests when you are only inviting 50 guests. Make sure you check with all family members involved in establishing the list, not forgetting your parents may want to have guests invited that may not be on your list.
When should we choose our venue? Vendors?
The venues are usually chosen first. Based on what they offer, the vendor list can be established after that selection is made. If you have a favorite vendor that you want to work with such as a florist or photographer, make sure you contact them shortly after your venue selection to confirm that they are available. Also, some venues have specified vendors for certain categories. Make sure you know what the venue policy is regarding vendors.
What is the average cost of photography, catering, flowers, and alcohol?
All of these costs are based on your selections and most are dictated by the number of wedding participants/guests. Most professionals have a variety of packages you may select from depending on your needs. For example, if you select flowers that are not in season, they will be more expensive. Work with your florist to select flowers that complement your colors and theme that are readily available in the timeframe of your wedding date.
When should the bride buy her dress?
After all, it is all about the dress, right? The dress should be purchased sometime after you have selected your venue. You don’t want a rustic lace gown with a sleek, modern venue. Keep in mind that your dress will most likely need to be ordered. This can take several months. Make sure that the dress you select can be delivered in adequate time for your date. Don’t forget you may need alterations so allow enough time for the dress to come in and alterations to be completed.
When should we send invitations?
Invitations should be sent out 8 to 12 weeks in advance of your wedding date. If you did not send out Save the Date cards and if you have a lot of out-of-town guests, you should send them out 12 weeks in advance. If you have mostly local guests, then 8 weeks is an adequate amount of time for your guests to receive their invitations.
Do we need to send Save the Dates? When?
No you don’t need to send Save the Dates. These cards are helpful if you select a holiday weekend or if you have a lot of out-of-town guests. If you do want to send Save the Date cards, they should be sent out about nine months before your date.
How long is the actual wedding day?
It is a very long day for the wedding participants – more for the bride and bridesmaids than others. Most of our wedding timelines are 15 hours long. That includes hair and make-up (bride, bridesmaids, mothers, etc.) and all the getting ready through until the venue lights are turned off at the end of the night.
What is the best way to greet guests if you don’t want a receiving line?
The best way to greet your guests is to walk around to each guest table after you have finished your meal. You will be served first, so you should be finished your meal while your guests continue to enjoy theirs. Just make sure you don’t take too long at any one table. If the conversation goes on too long, just let your guests know that you will catch up with them later in the evening.
Is it inappropriate to ask for cash rather than have a registry?
The traditional answer is yes. However, most couples have already established their households. You may want to set up a honeymoon fund or an account for a down payment for a house so that your guests have a place to give you monetary gifts. Some guests will still want to buy you gifts, so you may still want to establish a registry so you don’t receive that new set of pots and pans that you don’t want or need.
Who pays for what?
Etiquette rules used to dictate that the bride’s parents paid for the overall wedding event. The groom or his parents paid for the minister, ceremony musician(s), and bride’s bouquet, and groom’s attire. Depending on the reception, the groom/parents were responsible for the alcohol costs too.
These days, there are no hard and fast rules about who contributes to the wedding expenses. We have encountered numerous combinations distributing the expenses – bride’s parents; groom’s parents; bride and groom; both sets of parents; bride’s/groom’s parents and bride and groom. It is totally up to you to have the discussion with all parties involved. Keep in mind that when someone contributes to the wedding expenses, hi/she may want to be involved in the planning process as well. Be sure to discuss who will make the final decision when there is not a unanimous decision of the parties involved.
How many invited guests should we expect to actually attend? Percentage or average?
You should expect 80 to 85 percent of your guests to attend, and booking a weekday wedding doesn’t seem to affect the guest count as much as you would think. Also, all of those out-of-town guests you think won’t attend may make the wedding part of their vacation. Colorado is such a beautiful place with lots of things to do. The wedding gives them the perfect excuse to combine your wedding and their vacation.
Do you tip wedding vendors, and if so, who much?
Like any other service industry, it is nice to acknowledge superior service. Yes, you should tip your vendors. There are several on-line references that have suggested guidelines for tipping or you can check with your planner for these guides.
What fees do I pay clergy or wedding officiant?
Most clergy/officiants have an established fee. If you are having a friend perform the ceremony, covering their costs along with a tip may be sufficient.
How long do we have to write our Thank You notes?
Technically, you have one year to acknowledge your gifts. However, it is best if you send your Thank You notes within two to three months from the wedding date. Your guests will think you forgot about them or that you didn’t actually get the gift they sent if you take too long. A helpful hint – write a Thank You note as you receive gifts in advance of your wedding. With a registry, guests choose to send the gift to the couple before the actual wedding day so that they don’t have to bring it with them the day of the wedding. Also, check in with your contributions to any fund you may have established so that you can write those Thank You notes as well. Try to not let them pile up because it can quickly become overwhelming later.