Last Minute To-Dos before You Say I Do!

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,

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.



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!

15 Unexpected Costs Couple's Forget!

Here are 15 costs most couple's forget to factor into their budgets!  

1. Pre-Wedding Costs: From using a cute, creative way to ask your bridal party to be in the wedding, to beauty treatments and parties, to most important, the marriage license, these are all costs that come up prior to the wedding people can forget about. Most bride's remember to budget for their day-of hair and makeup, but forget about trial hair and make-up appointments, mani/pedi and spa treatments. The most important pre-wedding expense to budget for is the marriage license, which can cost anywhere from $50-$100.   

2. Paper Goods: You know all about the save the dates, invitations and RSVP cards, but have you budgeted for your day-of stationary? Will you want programs outlining the timeline for the day? You'll need seating assignments for the guests to find their tables. Are you going to want menu cards? You will also need thank you cards for all those presents you'll hopefully receive and don't forget about postage!

3. Getting Ready: Will you be booking a hotel room to get ready in? You'll often need to book the room for two nights to be able to have it to get ready in the morning of the wedding, plus it can be a good place for you and your new spouse to stay the night of the wedding. You will need food for the day-of while your getting ready. Something simple, but filling, such as sandwiches, fruit or cheese and crackers and lots of water! Emergency bridal kits are big now, either the bride, one of the moms or the maid of honor can be in charge of these. Also, many people forget things the day-of, especially the boys! Keep that in mind when budgeting for the day just in case someone forgot to pack their shoes or cuff links!   

4. Fashion: Alterations, undergarments, accessories, bridal party day-of outfits, all things couple's tend to overlook when putting their budget together. Almost all members of the bridal party will need alterations on their outfits at some point, especially the bride and groom. You want your dress and suit to fit perfectly the day of, so make sure to set aside some money for any and all alterations you may need. You can have as many or as little accessories as you like, but common ones to remember are hair accessories, bridal shoes, jewelry, cuff links and garters. Wedding veils are also an extra expense. A classic trend is to have matching robes or tank tops for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready in the day-of. Great for photos and can also be used as your bridal party presents.  

5. Pre-Wedding Attire: You may need new outfits for all the pre-wedding festivities, like the bridal shower, your bachelorette party and the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. This is an optional cost, you may have some great outfits for all of these in your closet already, but it can be fun to buy new outfits for these specifically, so think about that when planning out your budget.   

6. Transportation for Guests: If your venue does not have ample parking, shuttling will be a necessary expense. If it does have ample parking, but your guests are staying at the same location it could be a good alternative to having them all drive to the venue. It's a good way to make sure your guests arrive on time plus will keep guests who indulge in the alcoholic beverages safe.

7. Unexpected Guests: Keep in mind that sometimes guests who RSVP no will show up unannounced or a single guest will bring a friend or date without telling you. This is annoying (and rude) yes, but should be anticipated by planning a few extra meals and place setting. Chat with your caterer about this possibility.  

8. Gifts for Family & Bridal Party: You will have lots of hard working and helpful family and friends (hopefully) helping you throughout the wedding planning process, so don't forget to budget in the expense of getting them a nice gift as a thank you for all their help.

9. Favors: Favors are not a requirement these day. Most guests won't even notice if you don't have them, but they should be factored into the budget in case you chose to include them in the wedding. On average a favor can cost $2-$8 or more per person. There are ways to save on favors though, including a DIY option if your crafty or having one favor per couple rather then per person. Another thing to remember is favors get left behind a lot so if you want to make it worth your money have a favor they can use at the wedding, like a food or beverage item. 

10. Day-of Coordination: If your venue does not come with a wedding planner or you haven't hired one separately to help with the planning, a day of coordinator is a must these days. No one wants to be stuck dealing with vendors and timelines the day of the wedding, so hire someone to take care of it. It can run you anywhere from $500-$2,000, so budget that in as well. 

11. Vendor Meals: Many vendors require you to feed them the day of, including the coordinator, DJ or band and photographer/videographer, so make sure you count them in the final head count for the caterer. Also do not forget to count yourselves in the final count as well, many couple's forget this.

12. Lighting: Whether it is required at your venue or just an extra touch you want to add, you will almost always need extra lighting. This can include lighting the dance floor, a chandelier over the alter or candles on the tables, keep this in mind when planning your budget for the day-of.  

13. Decor Other then Flowers: You will more then likely need some kind of signage at the wedding, including pointing people in the right direction of the venue or directing them to the different areas events of the day will occur. Other decor can include a bar menu, tulle on the ceremony chairs, non-floral centerpieces or cute signs on the head table.  

14. Back Up Plan: No matter what time of year you get married (though more commonly a problem January-April and September-December) there is always the chance you will need a back up plan. If your venue has no indoor options, this will include renting a tent or providing umbrellas. Tents can be very expensive, so make sure to look around for pricing and how far out you will need to think about reserving one.   

15. Gratuities/Taxes/Service Charges: Check over your contracts as they come in to see who adds on gratuities and what the taxes and services charges will be so you can plan ahead of time. Don't know who to tip and how much? Read through our previous blog for great advice on who/how much/when to tip vendors! 

Tips for Tipping, Who, How Much, and When?

Confused on who to tip and how much to tip them at your wedding? No worries, below is some great advice on which vendors you should tip and how much!

First a few tips on tipping:

1. If you're using a wedding planner, they are responsible for delivering the tips and final payments to the vendors. Not using a planner? Ask the best man or one of the father's to distribute them. All tips and payments should be calculated and separated into different envelopes.

2. All tips should be given in cash.

3. No single person should get more then $150.00.  

4. Tips should be given just before a vendor leaves, this way you can determine how much to give depending on how well they performed their service for you. 

Who to tip & how much to tip them:

Limousine Drivers: 10-15% of the bill, unless it is over $150.00. For example, if your bill is $2,000 then 10-15% of that bill would be $200-$300 and is not necessary.

Valet Parking Attendants: $1.00 per car, prearranged with a supervisor depending on how many cars should be arriving. Place a sign out letting guests know the tip has been taken care of.

Wait Staff: Most contracts include the tip, but if not, 15% of the total catering bill is tipped. Wait staff do the hardest physical on your wedding day. 

Bartenders: 10% of the total liquor bill, presented to the head bartender or divided equally among the total number of bartenders who worked the full evening. Make sure a tip hasn't been added to your contract already. 

Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist: 15-25%, depending on the quality of service

Wedding Planners: Wedding planners likely won't expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation. Non-monetary thank-yous like professional photos of the wedding for their portfolio can go a long way too. The amount of tip is really up to you and how you felt they performed. 

DJ: $50-$100, if you have multiply DJ's split it in separate envelopes. 

Photographer & Videographer: If they own the company, the tip is optional. If they are an employee then $50.00. 

Officiant: Tipping them is unnecessary and bad etiquette. If you wish to make a financial contribution to their church, you can do that separately. 

Florist: You don't need to tip the florist for making your arrangements but you can tip them an extra $5.00 per delivery location (3 locations=$15.00) or $10-$20 per stage member in one lump sum, for set up and delivery.  

Hopefully this gives you a general idea on who, when and how much to tip your vendors at your wedding. It is really up to you and how you feel they performed their services when deciding how much to tip.