Photo: Walking Eagle Photography
There are many do's and don'ts when it comes to wedding planning. To help recently engaged couples avoid them at all costs, we decided to reach out to the pros—and did they give us the low-down!
Find out what these six event planners had to say about a few wedding planning faux-pas:
Q: What is a common mistake couples make while wedding planning?
"Couples commonly make the mistake of not compiling their guest list first. This is the key to the rest of the planning from budgeting to venue selections to accommodations. Make the A List and then a B List of hopefuls before even searching for venues and setting a strict budget." - Laura Ritchie of Events in the City in Washington, DC
"Not making informed decisions—lots of couples make their planning decisions based on assumptions, other people’s advice, or other’s experiences. I always suggest my clients and potential clients to treat each decision with care and consider all of their options before moving forward." - Leanne Valdes of You Name It Events in Geneva, Illinois
"One mistake that couples make while wedding planning is not researching prices before buying. A lot of couples will go directly to one vendor and accept their offer without looking around for competitive prices. Also, they should listen to their planner’s list of preferred vendors. A good wedding planner will know who has the right price for a specific couple’s budget, and also knows the quality of work for that vendor." - The Confetti of Charleston Team of Confetti Events in Charleston, South Carolina
Q: What do you wish couples knew about the wedding planning?
"It is a process! It will take time and attention. Nothing can replicate the feeling of working hard to bring your vision to life and seeing your loved ones celebrating with you and your partner." - Melissa Barrad of I Do...Weddings & Events in San Diego, California
"A typical wedding vendor’s schedule. We’re usually in meetings in the evenings and at weddings on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If we take a day off it’s Monday. Take that into account when you email or call us and are waiting for a response." - TJ Stark of Blush Events in Hoboken, New Jersey
"Start EARLY! I truly believe the early bird gets the worm. If there is a specific venue that you love, or a photographer that you have always wanted to work with, book them early. They tend to book out at least a year in advance. Don't wait until last minute to find your key vendors because you may be stuck with someone whose quality of work may not be the best or fit your standards." - Shannel Aiken of Shannel Aiken Wedding and Events in Northport, Alabama
Q: What is something every couple should do before they start wedding planning?
"Take a breath! Getting engaged is so exciting, and as you start to share your news, people will ask right away the when’s, where’s, how’s of your day. I think couples enjoy the process more if they take a brief time to just enjoy their engagement before diving into the new to-do lists." - Leanne Valdes of You Name It Events in Geneva, Illinois
"Research and discuss. Every couple should research the prices and quality of work for multiple vendors in each respective category. Then, they should discuss with each other their personal budget and what they are willing to compromise on. This will save a lot of time and stress!" - The Confetti of Charleston Team of Confetti Events in Charleston, South Carolina
"Have the big talk with family. What are the event mandatories? Be sure to cover number of guests, potential budget, and any religious requirements." - Melissa Barrad of I Do...Weddings & Events in San Diego, California
Q: What are some misconceptions couples have about wedding planning?
"How much things cost. There is always sticker shock when I give them a realistic number they would have to spend. Usually the number in their head is so tight that they would have to cut their guest list by half!" - TJ Stark of Blush Events in Hoboken, New Jersey
"One of the biggest misconceptions about wedding planning is that it is easy! Sure, there are some brides who are super organized planners, and have no problem putting things together, but for most of us, knowing where to find vendors and what to look for and ask of your vendors is definitely a tedious task. When you have never planned a wedding, you may not understand corkage fees, and how many hours you need to hire a photographer, or even understand the cost of what you are paying for. Hiring a wedding planner is definitely a plus to help make it easier." - Shannel Aiken of Shannel Aiken Wedding and Events in Northport, Alabama
"That DIY saves money. It might seem like it saves money but if your expectations and dreams are realistic for your budget and headcount then hiring an experienced vendor whose devotion and time trumps any pennies saved is worth its weight in gold." - Laura Ritchie of Events in the City in Washington, DC
Q: What should a couple’s rule of thumb be for guests getting a plus one?
"Bridal party and immediate family members should get to bring a guest. For the remainder of guests, allow a plus one for those situations where you know who the plus one will be. If guests aren’t attached, it’s hard to determine their status for your big day." - Melissa Barrad of I Do...Weddings & Events in San Diego, California
"Married or long-term couples should be invited as a couple. Otherwise, it is up to them to determine who to invite with or without guests." - Leanne Valdes of You Name It Events in Geneva, Illinois
"Our personal rule of thumb is that if you have met the significant other more than once, they have been dating someone for a year or more, or they are engaged, then they should be allowed a plus one." - The Confetti of Charleston Team of Confetti Events in Charleston, South Carolina
Q: In your opinion, how late is too late to book a wedding vendor?
"Never too late. It's amazing how much people can get done with less planning time. We personally love a quick turnaround and have produced a wedding in three weeks before! As long as vendor is available, they will usually jump on a great event!" - Laura Ritchie of Events in the City in Washington, DC
"In order to get the vendors that you WANT, you should book them at least six months to a year out. However, if you are still planning up to the last minute, most vendors need at least a month or two to properly provide the services you are requesting. You may be able to hire rental and party supplies as close as two weeks from the event, but you also risk not getting the items you want to someone who already has them reserved." - Shannel Aiken of Shannel Aiken Wedding and Events in Northport, Alabama
"Ideally, no closer than three months out. However, I don’t like hiring professionals less than one month out. There isn’t always enough time to get them up to speed." - Melissa Barrad of I Do...Weddings & Events in San Diego, California
Q: Give us your three golden rules of wedding planning.
"Pick a budget and stick to it. Go for your must have items first. Hire a wedding planner, at least for the day of!" - The Confetti of Charleston Team of Confetti Events in Charleston, South Carolina
"Headcount, realistic expectations with your budget, and be a guest at your own event" - Laura Ritchie of Events in the City in Washington, DC
"Don't be afraid to hire a wedding planner to help you pull together your vision and your budget. Contracts are your best friend. Even if you have a family friend providing services for you on your big day at no charge, still get a contract from them that will outline the exact services they are to perform. Set a budget from the beginning and STICK TO IT! - Shannel Aiken of Shannel Aiken Wedding and Events in Northport, Alabama
Q: Is there any final pieces of advice you wish to share with couples?
"You may find it hard to articulate your wishes with your loved ones and event professionals. However, do your best! The more information your pros and loved ones have about what you truly envision, the more likely we are collectively able to ensure an amazing day!" - Melissa Barrad of I Do...Weddings & Events in San Diego, California
"Choose vendors you trust have your best interests at heart and get your vision, and you won’t have to worry about a thing!" - Leanne Valdes of You Name It Events in Geneva, Illinois
"I can’t say it enough—listen to your vendors! You’ve hired them because they’re experts in what they do. Ask them their opinion on what works and what doesn’t and follow their recommendations. Don’t set unrealistic goals for the day that you think are doable despite what they say. Listen to them and your day will go smoothly. " - TJ Stark of Blush Events in Hoboken, New Jersey