Wedding Planning Q&A Session-Follow-up: Notes from our "Girl's Night In"

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This past summer, we hosted our first “Girl’s Night In” at the Venue. We invited some of the best vendors in West Tennessee to be a part of this event, and it was open to the public.

We spent an evening discussing wedding planning tips, answers to frequently asked questions from engaged couples, and ways to make wedding planning less stressful! Our wedding industry professionals shared a lot of helpful advice based on their experience working hundreds of weddings over the years.

If you weren’t able to attend the event, I wanted to share the top 10 tips that the attendees were able to hear that evening.

Wedding Planning

Top 10 Tips

  1. Hire a professional wedding planner: This was the number one tip that was consistently mentioned at the Q&A event. Every single vendor on the panel said this was CRUCIAL to any wedding. To a lot of brides, it may seem like a luxury item, but as a former planner turned venue owner, I can assure it will be money well spent. I have been on both sides of the wedding industry as a planner and as a venue owner, and having a planner is one of the BEST investments you will make for your wedding. I will be writing a more in-depth blog post soon on the importance of this, but let’s just say a wedding is a complicated event with multiple moving parts. You can’t afford NOT to have a professional planner.

  2. Don’t skimp on wedding photography: Lots of people own DSLR cameras and it can be tempting to want to save money on your wedding by allowing a family friend to take your pictures. But, in 5, 10, even 20 years, the one thing you will still have to remind you of your wedding day will be your photographs! A wedding photographer is a crucial part of your wedding day, and you do not want to try to allow just anyone to take your pictures. Interview a few photographers, ask them to show samples of their work to you, and at the very least schedule a phone call or Skype/Google Hangout with them. They will see you at your most intimate moments on your wedding day, and you definitely want your personalities to mesh! Hiring a qualified photographer is an extremely important decision as you look at your wedding planning process.

  3. As a venue owner, I hear this a lot-”I’ll just have a playlist playing at my ceremony and reception to save money.” During the Q&A session, we discussed how important it is to hire a professional DJ/musician who will be there to orchestrate your wedding and reception. Professionals are skilled at making sure the timing is accurate at an event. If you just used a playlist and let’s say the flower girl had stage fright and wasn’t quite ready to walk down the aisle, the music would just keep playing. A DJ or musician who is responsible for orchestrating ceremony music would be ready to handle those “hiccups” that happen. Or, let’s say you thought your crowd would like country music but no one is on the dance floor. Professional DJs and musicians are skilled at making sure people are on the dance floor, and they can quickly make changes to their music selection to ensure that’s happening. They can make changes on the fly, and are crucial at keeping your ceremony/reception running smoothly.

  4. Choose flowers that are in season: Ladies, we know you are probably spending a lot of time pinning images on Pinterest and designing swoon-worthy Wedding Boards. Wedding florals are such a huge part of your overall look, and we want to make sure you stay in budget! One of the biggest things you can do is to make sure to ask your florist if the flowers you’re showing them are in season. If they aren’t, be ready to possibly break the bank on those peonies or proteas that you are dying to have. For some budgets, this might be perfectly okay to splurge on flowers. If you are having to watch where you spend your money, make sure the flowers you are asking your florist for are in season for your wedding!

  5. Linens: All of us vendors hear this a lot: “Oh, I’ll just buy some linens on Amazon-they’re super cheap there.” If you’ve never washed or ironed a 120” round linen, then this might seem like a good idea. But, even if you save a few dollars buying them on Amazon, be prepared for you and your family to spend hours washing the linens and pressing them. They usually come shipped from overseas in shrink wrap, and are a wrinkly mess. It’s no easy task getting them ready for your reception, and couples usually don’t realize the time that is involved with table linens. Trust us when we say rent from a local reputable company who specializes in linens! It is well worth the money you’ll spend to have them pressed and ready for your reception.

  6. Extra rentals/decor: During the Q&A we discussed renting from a reputable rental company decor items, chairs, furniture, drapery, lighting, etc. There’s a misconception that it’s cheaper to have a family member build things or to buy items from Amazon and install them yourself. Here’s what you need to consider before going down that DIY route. Let’s say you want your family member to build you a stage or an arbor versus renting it. Make sure to consider the cost of materials, labor and time involved to create it, as well as the liability when it comes to putting it up and taking it down. Reputable rental companies have done hundreds of installations for weddings, they are licensed and insured, and they are responsible for the set-up and tear down. Investing in decor and items from a rental company is money well spent for any wedding ceremony and/or reception.

  7. Misconception: I’ll just book my honeymoon online-it will be cheaper and easier. We had 2 different travel agents talk during our Q&A, and they dispelled this myth. They both discussed the importance of using a travel agent who has experience visiting the islands and resorts that are popular with honeymooners. They have knowledge regarding things like: how far from the airport it is, what airports you should fly out from, and where you can get a great honeymoon experience on a budget. They know these resorts first-hand, so they are extremely knowledgeable. Also, by using them, you aren’t paying anymore than if you booked online. The resorts pay them directly, so the couple does not incur any additional costs!

  8. Saving money: Here are a few tips several different vendors shared for saving money on your wedding budget: Limit your guest count (every guest you add increases your catering bill, the amount of chairs/tables you’ll need, the amount of cake you need, etc); limit the size of your bridal party-the bigger the bridal party, the more you’ll spend on your floral budget; and here’s a wedding cake tip-have a 3 or 4-tiered cake for display and pictures and keep a sheet cake cut in the back for additional servings for guests.

  9. Determine your budget before you even get started on your wedding planning: Before you choose a venue, photographer, caterer, florist, etc you want to make sure you know what your budget is and who is paying for what part of the wedding. In the past, the bride’s family historically paid for everything related to the wedding, and the groom’s family paid for the rehearsal dinner. However, that is not always the case, and often times couples are paying for their own wedding. It’s extremely important for you to identify what your budget is so that you know how much money you have allocated to your wedding.

  10. Determine your guest count before you start hiring vendors: As a venue owner, that’s one of the first questions I ask couples when they tour. It’s important when you book a venue, you know your guest count. It’s also important to know that when you meet with vendors like the caterer and wedding cake baker. Knowing your approximate guest count prior to starting the planning process will help you make better decisions and get more accurate quotes from wedding vendors.

    I hope you enjoyed this quick recap from our Bridal Q&A night with wedding industry professionals.

    Until next time,


Stephanie AlexanderComment