10 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding!

Here's some advice on how to cut costs for your wedding!

1. Cut the guest list: You could be spending up to $100 a person including food, decor, favors etc. so make sure everyone you invite is special to you or your significant other somehow. Each set of parents will have a list of people they will want to invite, but how well do you really know their college roommate or church friends? 

2. Off-season: "Wedding season" is normally from May-October, so how about planning your wedding for November-April? Wedding venues/vendors may have off season prices and more availability.  

3. Skip Saturday, avoid holidays: Many venues (though not all) have cheaper prices for a Friday or Sunday wedding. If this is an option for you, be sure to ask the venue when you visit if they have flexible pricing. Also, be careful of holidays, many venues will charge more for a holiday weekend.

4. Shop off-season decor: Need black or pink decor? Check after Halloween or Valentine's day. Buying your own lights to string? Catch the after Christmas sales. Think about your color scheme or the type of decorations you want and see what sales will work for you.

5. Mix in greenery: Flowers are expensive, but adding some touches of greenery in place of flowers can look just as beautiful and save you tons. Use it for centerpieces, arch decorations or mixed in to your bridal bouquet. Ask your florist for suggestions!

6. Stick to one or two flowers: Another way to save money on flowers is to pick your one or two favorite kinds (roses, hydrangeas, lily's etc) and stick with those. Florist can save money if they can buy in bulk which can also save you money. Ask your florist what is in season around your date and go from there. Also, reuse your ceremony decorations, either on the cake table or bar or cocktail area. It will save you money from having to decorate two different places. 

7. Use non-floral decor: Cut out flowers all together by using non-floral centerpieces and decorations. There are a ton of fun ideas for centerpieces that can show off your personalities or highlight the season your getting married in that have nothing to do with flowers.

8. Cut down on the booze: Serve only beer and wine instead of a full bar. You can serve a signature cocktail also if you choose and have champagne to toast, though many people are skipping this and just having guests toast with whatever they are drinking at the time. This is a good way to not only save on alcohol costs but cut down on the "sloppy drunk" that tends to occur with a full bar.   

9. No wedding cake: Wedding cakes are becoming a thing of the past. You will always have a ton leftover cake you won't know what to do with. Try a fun dessert bar instead like donuts, make your own sundae station or a candy bar. Something fun and easy for the guests to eat while their on the dance floor or mingling during the reception. Don't want a ton of leftovers? Provide to-go boxes for your guests to take some treats home!

10. Favors: Instead of having one per person, make it per couple. Make it something they can use at the wedding, like a food item or drink or something they can make or grow at home. People have enough wine glasses and candles, be creative and have fun with the favors. Another great way to save on favors? Don't have them, people won't miss them.

Last Minute To-Dos before You Say I Do!

Here's 12 things to remember to do before you walk down the aisle!

1. You or your coordinator should confirm all the details of the day with the vendors. Make sure every vendor has a timeline of the day, what time they should arrive at the venue, who their contact person for the day is and the contact person's phone number. No one should be bothering you with questions or concerns the day of your wedding. Make sure there is a point person to handle the vendors at the wedding (another great reason a wedding coordinator comes in handy).

2. Organize all your tips for the vendors to be passed out at the wedding. Put them in envelopes with the vendors name on it and give them to someone (coordinator, parents, maid of honor/best man) at the rehearsal to pass out on the day of the wedding. Not sure how to tip each vendor? Check out our blog on tipping here, http://www.weddingconnection.net/blog/2016/1/28/tips-for-tipping-who-how-much-and-when

3. Make sure all vendors know the clean up rules of the venue. You can be charged extra if clean up isn't done correctly so make sure the vendors (especially the caterers) have a clear idea of what is expected. Many venues have clean up guidelines they can give you to give to your vendors.

4. Have your final dress fitting. Make sure you are comfortable in the dress, can sit down, move around and dance without issue. You want to be able to enjoy your day and won't if your dress is too tight or too long. Have the bridesmaids do a final fitting as well. You want them comfortable also.

5. Get a mani/pedi a day or two before the wedding. Don't forget to buy your shade of nail polish for last minute touch ups. Also buy your lipstick and other makeup you may need for touch ups throughout the night.

6. Write down and practice your vows and speeches for the day. It's helpful to be able to look at the vows while your standing at the alter in case you get nervous or emotional. It helps to plan out what you want to say to your guests later so you don't forget to thank anyone.

7. Gather all your decorations and accessories. Put them in boxes with labels of where they belong (aisle, guestbook table, cake table etc). You can include a picture in the box of how your want things set up. Also plan who will bring them to the venue. Check and see when you are allowed to drop things off. Some venues will let you bring things in the day before at the rehearsal, some not till the morning of. Ask someone to pack up the decorations and take them home at the end of the night.

8. Assign someone to take gifts and guestbook home at the end of the night, especially the cards with money in them. Usually this is one of the parents, but can be anyone you trust to take care of them.

9. Do the centerpieces need to be returned or can they be given away to guests at the end of the night? Assign someone (another good job for your coordinator) to either collect them so they don't get taken because you will be charged for them if they need to be returned or to pass them out to guests when the event ends.

10. Bring the bridal party and parent's gifts to the rehearsal and pass them out then. This will give you a good chance to thank them individually and is useful if the gift is something they can use at the wedding (flasks, robes, jewelry etc).

11. Check the weather about a week out from the wedding. Is it going to be really hot or is there a chance of rain? How cold will it get at night? Plan accordingly by ordering heaters and umbrellas or by providing fans or scarves for the guests. You don't want anyone leaving your wedding remembering how freezing or hot they were all day.

12. Get a good nights rest, eat, stay hydrated and make sure you have the best night of your life!

16 Ways to Make it Easier to Enjoy Your Wedding!

You want nothing more then to enjoy your wedding right? You've spent months (or even years) planning and thousands of dollars paying for this event and we want to make sure you enjoy it. Here's some great advice on how to make sure that happens!

1. Sleep & Food: Make sure you get a good night's sleep. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and don't drink to much the night before. It will be a very long day and you won't want to be yawning at the alter! Also, make sure to have a high protein breakfast and snacks along the way while getting ready. It will be a while till you are able to eat again and this will keep you full longer.

2. Time Management: Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. You want to be able to enjoy this moment with your bridesmaids and groomsmen and not be rushing through the day. You also don't want to forget anything. Things will slip your mind if you're stressed about whether you will make it to the wedding on time.

3. Getting Ready Attire: Make sure to wear a robe or button down shirt while getting ready. You don't want to wear a t-shirt or tank top that you have to pull off over your head and risk ruining your hair-do and make-up.

4. To Do Lists: The boys will need this for the day of. Your bridesmaids are great at knowing what to do and how to help, groomsmen not so much. Make out a list (and even a timeline if necessary) of things the boys need to take care of the day of the wedding. Not all venues have a space for the men to get ready in, so make sure they have a list of everything they will need to bring with them as well.

5. Shoes: You NEED to break in your wedding shoes before the big day. This goes for everyone, bride, groom and bridal party. You want to make sure they fit right, are comfortable and most importantly, you can walk in them. Be aware of the terrain at the venue, will you need heel protectors or will wedges work better? Make sure to give your guests a heads up as well and ALWAYS bring flats to change into for dancing.

6. Survival Kits: Wedding day survival kits can come in very handy. This is something your maid of honor can put together and can range depending on what you might think you will need. Sewing kits, advil, deodorant, stain remover and tissues are some of the more popular items to pack. 

7. Moments: Make sure you are taking mental snapshots of the day. Everyone says the day flies by and they are absolutely right. You've spent so much time and money on your wedding and POOF its over before you can blink. You will want to remember every moment you possibly can so stop, take a breath and take it all in once and awhile. Another good reason to hire a great photographer (and videographer if possible) so they can capture moments you may miss.

8. Dinner: Take time (even if it's just five minutes) to sit down and eat. You paid for this food and you should be able to enjoy it. Set up chairs across from you and invite guests to sit down and chat while you eat (because they will want to come and chat) or set aside some time to dine privately before making your entrance into the reception. This will give you some alone time and help keep your energy up for the rest of the night.

9. Late Night Snacks: Have your caterer or someone in the bridal party, pack some food to-go to take with you at the end of the night. You will need it after the long day. Make sure they include dessert!

10. Speech: Be sure to stand up and give a thank you speech as a couple. This is a great time to thank your guests for coming, thank your bridal party, parents and anyone else that helped make this day possible.

11. Candids: Ask your photographer to take lots of candid photographs throughout the night and grab some great group shots (your college roommates, your high school friends, the people you work with etc.). There will be many moments you'll miss and people you won't get to spend as much time with throughout the night.  

12. Alcohol:  Don't drink too much. I know it's been a stressful time and you are ready to let loose but you want to remember this night and no one likes a sloppy bride or groom.

13. Parents: Plan to spend some time with your parents throughout the night. Remember this is a big day for them too and they want to be able to enjoy it with you. Plan a special dance (other then the traditional mother/son, father/daughter dances), take photos and visit with them throughout the night.

14. Dancing: Give your DJ a list of songs you want to hear throughout the night and make sure you're on the dance floor when the DJ plays them.

15. Couple Time: This is your wedding day and you should be able to enjoy it together. Make sure you are taking time to reconnect throughout the night, even planning some special moments for alone time (private time post-ceremony, couple photos, eating privately pre-reception, dancing together etc.) You don't want to leave the wedding wondering why you barely saw each other all night.

16. Keep Calm: Let the small (and even some of the bigger) things go. Something will always go wrong the day of the wedding, that's just how they work. No one will notice (or care) if the rental company sends the wrong china or if the guest book table isn't in the exact right spot. They will remember if the bride is yelling at vendors or snapping at family. No one likes a brideszilla. Remember, no matter what, at the end of the day you will still be married to love of your life!

Seating Arrangements Tips and Ideas

Putting together the seating chart for a wedding can be one of the most frustrating and time consuming parts of wedding planning. Below are some tips and ideas to make it a little bit easier!

1. Put the names in alphabetical order. You want to make it as easy as possible for the guests to find their names. This will ensure there isn't a long line of people waiting to find their seats and holding up the rest of the reception.  

2. If you do choose to have them displayed by table number, make sure the board (or whatever you choose to write it on) is easy and big enough to read. Once again, keep it as uncomplicated as possible.

DO

DON'T

3. Avoid writing the chart on any reflective or see-through surface such as mirrors or windows, especially at an outdoor wedding. This will make it difficult for the guests to read and cause confusion.

4. There are lots of fun options for seating assignments or table names. Tie it into the wedding theme or make it about you as a couple. Your favorite cities, your favorite sport teams, Disney couples etc. You can put photos of you both at the age of the table number or your favorite songs. The ideas are endless!

Rehearsal Dinner Tips and Ideas!

Need to know how to throw the perfect rehearsal dinner? Here's some tips and fun ideas!

Rehearsal Dinner 101:

1. When? Normally this takes place the day before the wedding, after the rehearsal at the venue, but these days it's really up to you when to have it. Check with the bridal party and out of town family and friends to see when they are arriving to plan to hold it when they are in town.

2. Host? Traditionally it is the groom's family that hosts the rehearsal dinner, but again this is up to you and your families. Maybe an uncle would love to host it or a grandparent or even if you want to pay for it yourselves. Chat with both sides of the family to see who would be interested in hosting and plan out a budget.

3. Where? The options are pretty unlimited on where you can hold a rehearsal dinner these days. We will delve further into that later on. Mostly it should be a private (or semi private) space so your group is not interrupted.

4. Invited? Both sides of the families, bridal party plus spouses (and kids if you would like), your officiant if they are close with the family and any out of town guests.

5. What Happens? Mostly this is used as a get to know you dinner for the families, but a few formalities usually occur at the dinner. For one, there are toasts. The host of the event usually will toast the soon to be newlyweds. The couple themselves should also use this time to thank their bridal party and parents for their involvement. The rehearsal dinner is the time to hand out bridal party and parent's gifts. Make sure to use this time for any announcements you need to make to your bridal parties and families, including when to arrive for pictures the day of the wedding.

6. When to Invite? Make sure the people you're inviting to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner have plenty of notice. Most people put a separate invite to the rehearsal dinner inside the wedding invitation for the people invited to both. Make sure you include two different RSVP cards, one for the wedding and one for the rehearsal dinner. You can also send them out separate from the wedding invitation.  

Rehearsal Dinner Tips & Ideas:

1. Make sure the atmosphere, food and decor differ from the actual wedding. You don't want people to attend two of the same parties so switch it up for the rehearsal dinner. Using soft tones for the wedding? Go big, bold colors for the rehearsal dinner. Serving steak and chicken at the wedding? Go for pizza at the rehearsal. Make it uniquely it's own event.

2. Knock some of the toasts out at the rehearsal dinner. Have to many family and friends who are dying to toast you? Use the rehearsal dinner to give them their chance to speak. You don't want to get bogged down with too many toasts at the wedding, remember you have a timeline to keep, so this offers them a wonderful chance to say something in a much more intimate setting. 

3. The rehearsal dinner is a great place for the two families and close friends to get to know each other. Use name tags with how each person knows or is related to the couple so people won't have to worry about remembering so many names and will have some great ice breakers. "You met Brandy in college? I would love to hear some stories about her back then!"

4. This is also a great chance for people to get to know your bridal party. A fun idea is having a "Meet the Maids/Men" display with photos and information on each person and how you know them. This is something you can also display at your wedding the next day for all your guests to see. It's a nice way of letting them know you appreciate them being apart of your special day.

5. Don't drink/party to hard at the rehearsal dinner, especially if your holding it the day/night before the wedding. You don't want everyone to be hungover and exhausted the day of the wedding. If possible, start the dinner early in the evening so it doesn't last super late into the night.

6. I know, I know it's called a rehearsal DINNER, but actually it can be whatever you want it to be. There are tons of fun alternatives to the normal sit down dinner of the past. Let's talk about a few:

Brunch: A great way to make sure people get a good night sleep and don't over indulge the day before the wedding. You can have fun stations like a make your own omelet bar or fun waffle toppings. Also popular are mimosa bars with different flavored juices and fruits to add to your champagne.

Cocktails & Desserts: Don't want to hold a whole other dinner? Host a cocktails and dessert party instead. Put together an assortment of your favorite pies or have an ice cream sundae bar. Just make sure people know to eat dinner on their own beforehand. 

Backyard or Beach BBQ: Go ultra casual and hold the dinner in a family friends backyard or your favorite beach. Bring games and coolers full of drinks and snacks and hang out in the sun. Dessert time fun? Roast marshmallows and make smores!

Game Day: Are you a sports loving couple? Are your family and friends competitive? A game day rehearsal party may be the perfect option for you. Pick teams, think of a number of sports/games (flag football, croquet, corn hole, kick-ball etc) and have prizes for the winning teams. Wanna kick it up a notch? Have matching t-shirts made ("bride's team", "groom's team" etc).

Just like your wedding, your rehearsal dinner should be an expression of you as a couple. More importantly, it should be a day of fun and love for you and your families and friends!