The Brides Guide to Smooth Sailing Wedding Planning

I posted this a long while ago on my photography blog, and I had lots of brides tell me my original post was extremely helpful, so I figured I would share it again, as well as some updated tips! This is a lengthy post, but hang in there! I promise, it's full of great information!

Go To Bridal Shows 
In Utah we have so many bridal shows going on through out the year and I am sure that is the case for any state. Go to as many as you can! I think we went to three. Expos are really helpful and really informative. There usually is a fee to get in, but you can easily find coupons, and some shows even offer free tickets if you get them in advance. 

At the show, sign up for everything that is available. Be willing to give out your email because more likely then not you will be glad you did! We won two free tux rentals, I got my veil for free, two make-overs, some free make-up products, and a $50 gift card to a floral shop. Just check online for a list of upcoming expos. You can easily find plenty of local places through a quick Google search

Explore Blogs 
You can easily find lots of blogs solely dedicated to weddings. They are always so adorable with the most amazing ideas, so inspirational!

A favorite of mine:
The Utah Bride Blog is fab! And it’s great that they are local!

Some other great blogs...

Do it yourself! Do it! It saves so much money! With the internet these days there are tutorials for pretty much anything! 

I had two bouquets. One from a local florist, and the other my mom put together. I really disliked the one from the "professional florist". But I loved the one my mom did for me. Guess how much is cost? $15 for two dozen pretty pink roses from Costco! The one from the florist was $50 and was only a dozen crappy roses that looked so sad! DIY! 

Brad and Julie's Wedding

But... Hire Catering

We did not hire catering. We did our own food, which I would not recommend. Every one I talked to said Cater Cater Cater. And now my parents and I are saying Cater Cater Cater! Yes, you save some money doing it yourself, but it is just so much work and headache. Our wedding food was great! But my parents said it themselves, they wished they had catered my wedding and plan to hire catering for my three younger sisters when they get married! 

Focus on the Details
In planning my wedding I was not very focused on the details and decor. I just wanted a nice photographer, a nice dress, and my family and friends. If I were to re-plan my wedding now it would be much more detail oriented. There are PLENTY of decor ideas out there that are easy, affordable yet elegant, you just have to get creative. I didn't know about Pinterest when I got married but man do I wish I did! There are so many amazing ideas out on the world wide web it's absolutely crazy, you have no excuse! Use your resources! 

And this goes for the Engagement session as well. The more details the better for a beautiful engagement session. Plan out every last outfit (at least 3). Choose a theme that plays off your personalities, or tells a story, your story. If possible, choose a location for your engagements that means a lot to the two of you; where you met, where he purposed, or your favorite place to spend time together. Be particular about your hair. I advise having at least your makeup done professionally by someone who knows how to do proper make up specifically for photography. 

Bargain Shop
Bargain shop! Find places willing to beat down their price to beat out their competition. If I remember right, my dress was originally selling for $900. I went to four different stores and got it down to $625! Most places were more than happy to try and beat out their competition. Do your homework. Be prepared. 

But Don't Be Cheap On Your Photographer
Please oh please oh please realize how big of a deal the photographer at your wedding is. And I am not just saying that because I am a photographer! Don’t try to save money and have Uncle Joe, or Neighbor Ned shoot your wedding just because he has a semi-nice camera and is willing to do it for free. Get a reliable, professional, which will cost you. 

So how should you go about finding and hiring a photographer?

-Ask around. If you have friends who have recently been married and you liked their wedding pictures talk with them in regards to their experience with their photographer.
-The photographer should have a few years under their belt. Do not hire someone who is willing to do it for cheap or free because they are trying to build their portfolio. 
-The photographer should be able and willing to provide references from previous clients.
- The photographer should be easy to contact and easy to work with.
-And they should require a deposit and have a clear contract. Someone who takes their business seriously will require a deposit and a contract to be signed. This ensures that you as the client won't back out and cause the photographer to lose money, and they are committed to be there to capture your big day. It gives you both peace of mind. 

     I once had a bride contact me but was reluctant about paying the deposit. She found a photographer who was more affordable and did not require a deposit. A week before her wedding the photographer backed out and said she would not be able to photograph the big day. The bride contacted me in a panic asking hoping I could shoot her wedding. Sadly, I was booked up. It made me sick to my stomach that I was unable to help this bride, but it made me realize there are people out there who don't value your wedding. Just because the photographer is affordable does not mean they are worth the money you may have saved. 

      Also I highly advise doing your engagements with the same photographer as your wedding. This will give you the chance to get to know your photographer, become more comfortable with them and get an idea of how they work in the field. This will also help them capture a more candid side of you on your big day.

Book a Groomals / "First Look" Session
I really recommend every one do groomals before their wedding since most couples who plan to do it after their wedding end up just getting caught up in life and not doing them! It is totally understandable that most brides like the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride in her dress until the ceremony. But for couples who are married in LDS temples where the photographer can't capture the grooms face upon seeing his bride, I highly recommend doing a "first look" moment during your groomals before the wedding day, this way you can still capture the grooms reaction his first time seeing his beautiful bride in her dress. Not all grooms react in a big way, but it's still a very sweet moment! 

Hire a Videographer 
According to one article in the Huffington Post, 98% of brides who exclude video from their wedding regret it.

I sure do!! Looking back, really the only thing I regret from our wedding is not hiring a videographer. Videos capture something photos cannot. I really feel that videography has changed and grown a lot in the past five years, and will grow even more. So for that reason I think this is something really important to be including in your budget. I can't say who to hire, or what to look for, but here a three of my favorite wedding videos that make me wish I had one of my own! 

I discovered Nathan Pickett shortly after getting married (*sob* *sob*, of course!) and have been obsessed with his work ever since! He did this maternity session video that I am head over heels for and am determined to do one like it once we have a bun in the oven!

I discovered Haugen Creative about a year ago thanks to Instagram. Their work is so fun, creative and unique! I am in love with everything they do! 

And who doesn't love Al Fox? If you don't know who she is, you are missing out! I love her. I'm not actually sure who did her wedding video, but it's one of my faves! 

Have a detailed schedule for the Big Day 
It is common that brides don't make a minute by minute plan to make sure the big day goes smoothly. If you are not hiring a wedding planner I strongly advise to have someone appointed specifically to keep track of time and make sure the reception is moving along. I offer 2 hours of reception coverage. That is plenty of time to take plenty of pictures and if you have someone running the show covering all of the classic reception events you can keep things within 2 hours. Not too long, not too short. Most guests won't stay longer then 2 hours at most anyways.
I recommend starting with about 30 minutes of greeting and eating time. 30 minutes in, this is the time the max of amount of guests will have arrived and this will be a good time to take 30 minutes for cake cutting, garter toss, bouquet toss, etc. The remaining time fill with dancing and socializing. Last 10 minutes; farewell to the bride and groom. 

Don’t be a Bride-Zilla 
Most people said I was the most laid back bride they had ever dealt with (not to toot my own horn or anything...). You want your wedding day to be nice, but you don’t have to be a brat about it! Keep your head above water. Stay calm. And remember that everything will be okay in the end.

It is stressful, but it can be fun too. Just remember what’s important; the start of a new life, with your love! It will all be alright. Don't make mountains out of molehills. Be happy! You’re getting married!

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