How to Get the Wedding You Really Want

Don’t rush into planning mode
Embrace the moment! So many couples rush into planning mode right away without taking the time to bask in the “just engaged glow.” Regardless of whether you're planning a 12-week or 12 month engagement, you have time. The beginnings only happen once, so breathe.
Start with the big-picture questions 
Do you want a big or small wedding? Outdoor or indoor? City or country? These overarching decisions will help drive the overall look and feel of your wedding and make determining your bridal style a little easier.

Set your budget early on
I know finance isn’t exactly the language of love, but when you do start the planning process, it's important that you have a sit-down with all parties involved and discuss the big picture, from budget to responsibilities. The biggest piece of advice I hear from couples every day is that communication and organization are key. Not only does this help everyone get on the same page, but also it avoids future conflicts. And getting all of the nitty gritty out of the way first means you can focus on all the fun stuff, like flowers and cake.

Splurge on the things that matter most to you, and figure out how to save on the things that don’t. Obsessing over a designer dress but don’t really care about tunes? See if a friend can make you an amazing playlist so you don’t have to pay for a DJ, and then head over to Marchesa. Make a list of the items that are important to you, rank them, and adjust your budget accordingly. I am also a big believer in working with your “team” to help trim your budget. For example, speak with your venue to understand what existing décor is available for use, or work with your florist to make your ceremony flowers usable beyond the “I dos.”
One tip I have learned along the way is that photographs last a lifetime, so finding the right person to capture your big day might be worth the splurge.
Focus on the big picture
I think managing expectations becomes one of the biggest challenges when planning a wedding, whether it’s pleasing your family or balancing your budget. There seems to be a disconnect between what is expected and what is realistic (what do you mean that gorgeous bouquet I love on Pinterest is $500?! My budget is $200!). Too many couples say they lose sight of what their big day is really about and get lost in all the details.

Don’t be afraid to break the rules
I love when couples take something that is traditional to weddings and add a twist. We just had this amazing couple share their wedding on Carats & Cake where, instead of covering the tables with floral arrangements, they opted to cover the ceiling. There were white flowers cascading into the room, intermingled with chandeliers to create this incredibly elegant yet whimsical feeling.
My favorite décor style at the moment is bringing the indoors outside. Think chandeliers under the stars and couches on the grass — basically, your traditional indoor design elements being used outside to create the ultimate relaxed, luxury feel.

With wedding gowns, I love the hint of color we are seeing, from blush tones to soft grays — they're still "bridal" but with a modern twist. We are also seeing a transition away from traditional bridesmaid attire, meaning wedding parties are no longer restricted to an identical dress or color palette. Some of the most popular bridesmaid dresses allow for variations on the same dress, and many brides are even letting their leading ladies choose their own dresses entirely. I don’t think the conventional notion of identical bridesmaids will ever disappear, but I do think that in 2014, we are going to see more and more brides opting to change it up.

I'm drawn to weddings that have some element of the unexpected that really captures the couple’s personality, from a black-tie barefoot beach wedding to something as simple as the place cards. But even better are the moments you simply can't plan for — the "stolen moments" that grab the couple in an intimate exchange and show them truly enjoying their wedding day.

Apple-Inspired Wedding Ideas

Nothing says fall quite like a trip to the apple orchard. To celebrate the season, we've pulled together some of our favorite ways to include apples in your wedding.
Create a bouquet out of red apples and fresh greenery, or add a few crab apples to a classic floral bouquet.
Photo Credits (left to right): April and Karen Yu; Mary Banducci Photography/via Apple Brides
Flower Girls & Ring Bearers
Have the smallest member of your wedding party carry an apple down the aisle.


emorable Vows from the Best TV and Movie Weddings : Brides

Who doesn't tear up at a good wedding vow? Centerpieces, stationery, and guest list aside, nothing compares to the giggles and happy tears that surface during a wedding ceremony. And nobody does wedding ceremonies quite like Hollywood.
So, let's all stop and give thanks to Youtube channel Burger Fiction for mashing up the most epic wedding ceremonies the movies have given us. In four minutes flat we go from Night at the Roxbury to one of our absolute favorites Princess Bride (don't tell us you don't think "mawiage" every time you think of that movie). With Hollywood in mind we did a little rounding up of our own. All jokes aside, the video inspired us to rehash our favorite wedding ceremonies from movies and TV that still get us every time.

Friends: Monica and Chandler
Even though the groom's presence at the wedding was touch-and-go the morning of, Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry)'s wedding vows showed that friendship can easily blossom into something more. Even if it includes a groom panic attack a few minutes before the big reveal.

Monica says, "Then three years ago, at another wedding, I turned to a friend for comfort. And instead, I found everything that I'd ever been looking for my whole life. And now here we are with our future before us, and I only want to spend it with you, my prince, my soul mate, my friend. Unless you don't want to. You go!"
Chandler says, "Monica, I thought this was going to be the most difficult thing I ever had to do. But when I saw you walking down that aisle, I realized how simple it was. I love you. You are the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with."
Runaway Bride: Maggie & Ike
Having a history of escaping the final moments before she was due down the aisle, Maggie (Julia Roberts)'s heartfelt vows were kept sacred during her final trip down the alter to Ike (Richard Gere).
Maggie says, "Look, I guarantee there'll be tough times. I guarantee...at some point one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But, I also guarantee that if I don't ask you to be mine, I'll regret it the rest of my life. Because I know in my heart...you're the only one for me."
See More: How to Find an Officiant That's Right for You.
Sex and the City 2: Anthony & Stanford
If opposites attract, these two couldn't be more different (but perfect) for each other. The gentlemen tied the knot in a glam wedding ceremony, complete with white swans, a choir, and Liza Minnelli of course. And their vows were nothing short of endearing.
Anthony says, "It was not exactly love at first sight. But it turns out, it was love. You are the first man to accept me...for the man that I actually am."
The Vow: Leo & Paige
The Vow is a tear jerker in its own right, but Paige (Rachel McAdams)'s and Leo (Channing Tatum)'s messages to each other are enough to make any romantic swoon.
Paige: "I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness and to have the patience that love demands, to speak when words are needed and to share the silence when they are not, to agree to disagree on red velvet cake, and to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home."
Leo: "I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now and forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love. And to always know in the deepest part of my soul that no matter what challenges might carry us apart, we will always find our way back to each other."
If those words don't have you reaching for the tissues, consider yourself a wedding Scrooge! If you're planning on writing your own, check out our tips to writing unforgettable vows.

Just Engaged? The First 5 Things You Should Do When You Start Wedding Planning : Brides

Planning a wedding is a huge task, and it's easy to get intimidated about all that needs to be done before you've even started. On the other hand, maybe you've been dreaming about this day for years and want to jump right in? Either way, the best way to set yourself up for success is to be smart about what you do first. So... where should you start? We asked wedding planner Danielle Ehrlich of Danielle Evans Events and Design about the first five things you should do when you start planning your wedding (after popping some champagne and spreading the news, of course!).
1. Discuss what type of wedding you both want.
Do you want to get married at a far-flung destination or somewhere local? Will it be small or large? In your backyard or a big ballroom? Do you want a ceremony in your childhood church, or to have a close friend officiate? Says Ehrlich, "All of these things will come up throughout the planning process, so it is good to start discussing your priorities beforehand. This way you'll both have input — and hopefully a few less surprises along the way!"
2. Figure out your budget.
"This is the hard part, but it will create a framework for everything else down the line," says Ehrlich. "It will determine which venues you look at, how many people you can invite, which vendors you'll hire. As a wedding planner, I don't encourage my clients to look at any venues or vendors until the budget is made. I know the excitement is high, but the last thing you want is to fall in love with something you can't afford!" She says to ask the following questions: Do you have an overall budget? Is it firm, or is there wiggle room? What does the budget include? (The dress, other wedding-weekend events, a planner, etc.)
See more: 5 Things You Should Know Before Committing to a Big Wedding
3. Draw up your guest list (including an A List and a B List).
It's hard to come up with a guest count until you start writing down names — you'll quickly realize there are people you want or need to invite who didn't immediately come to mind. On the A List, put people who will absolutely be invited. On the B List, put guests you would love to have, but who might not make the cut depending on budget and venue size. "Make sure to ask your parents for their A and B lists, as well — especially if they are footing the bill," says Ehrlich. Something to keep in mind: the best way to cut your budget is to cut your guest list. "It will affect everything from the catering cost to chair and glassware rentals. Having guests divided into an A and B list will make it easier to know where to draw the line. And as you get closer to the wedding, whether you have extra funds available or there's space for additional guests because some can't attend, you can send out a few extra invitations," Ehrlich says. She tells couples who plan to do this to have two RSVP cards made — one for the A list, with an earlier RSVP date, and one for the B list, with a later date closer to the wedding.

4. Pick a venue, then a date — in that order!
"I love when couples come to me without a date, because it means we'll have much more flexibility when it comes to looking at venues and booking one they really love," Ehrlich reveals. If you're hoping to give immediate family members a heads-up before the date is set, select a range of 4-8 weeks (say, June and July or October and November). This will also be helpful when you're looking at venues so that you can narrow down the season and see which dates are available.
5. Breathe.
"Have fun, relax, and enjoy being engaged," says Ehrlich. "The next few months are going to be stressful, exciting, and full of emotions, so try not to lose track of why you're doing this: because you're in love and are making a big, romantic commitment to one another!"


Top 10 Things To Consider When Setting Your Wedding Date

Congratulations! You’re officially a bride-in-planning! You’re probably either super excited to start planning or overwhelmed with all the information and not sure where to start. Well, let us help you with that. Here are the top 10 things you and your fiancee should consider when setting your wedding date.
1. Your schedule. Make sure your own schedules allow ample time for pre-wedding and post-wedding activities. There’s the rehearsal dinner, possible traveling for the wedding, and the honeymoon. When looking at your work schedule, take “busy season” into consideration. For example, if you’re an accountant, you probably don’t want to get married between January and April. And if you’re a student, you’ll want to avoid getting married during midterms and finals.
2. Budget. When considering your wedding date, your budget will be a key factor as you decide the month, day and flowers. If you want peonies, consider May as they are in peak season then. And if you’re on a tight budget, consider choosing a month in the off-season and possibly having a Friday or Sunday wedding. Tip: November is less expensive than June and Sundays are less expensive than Saturdays.
RELATED: Top 5 Wedding Planning and Budget Checklists
3. Venue availability. Believe it or not, venues can book up as early as 12 to 18 months in advance. Make sure you check the availability as early as possible. If you’re considering a non-traditional wedding venues, you may have more flexibility.
4. Wedding vendors’ availability. If you know who you want as your wedding photographer, planner, band, etc., check their availability ASAP! Popular photographers book fast and far in advance. Especially if they’re destination wedding photographers, their calendars are probably filled with many trips so get in contact with them as soon as possible. On the flip side, if you can’t book your favorite vendor due to availability, remember there are tons of fabulous wedding vendors out there.
5. Seasons and style. Consider the style you want for your wedding and choose the season that best suits it. For example, if you want an outdoor garden wedding, you’ll obviously want a spring or summer date. But if you’re considering a winter wonderland wedding, remember to factor in the holidays. The pros: family and friends will already be home for the holidays. The cons: venue prices tend to be higher during holidays. Also, keep in mind that the sun sets earlier in the winter so if you want an outdoor wedding, plan your date or start time accordingly.
6. Significant dates.  Special wedding dates like 11/12/13 and 12/13/14 are fun and easy to remember so they fill up super fast! Keep this in mind as you choose your date. Consider choosing a date that’s significant to you and your fiancee. For example, the anniversary of your first date–this can also be a cute story to share with your wedding guests.
7. Guests’ schedules. Make sure your VIP guests are available to attend. If your best friend’s wedding or cousin’s wedding is around the same time as yours, it’ll be harder on your guests as you’ll probably share a good chunk of the guest list.
8. Destination. Want a destination wedding? There are tons of factors to consider when choosing your date such as the peak seasons for the location and travel availability for your guests.
RELATED: The Fundamentals of Destination Weddings
9. Health. Whether you’re consider your own health or your family members, be flexible with the date and accommodate those who matter most to you. If you have a sick grandparent, you may want to push the date up a little earlier. Or if you have a pregnant sister, you probably don’t want to set the date around their expected due date.
10. Honeymoon. Consider your honeymoon destination’s peak seasons if you’re looking to jet set away immediately after your wedding. This will help you decide when to get married. Winter months are more crowded in the Carribeans so if you don’t want a honeymoon with all the world’s vacationers, you’ll want to keep these factors in mind when setting the date.

Top Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Wedding Videographer

Many couples will tell you that hiring a wedding videographer was one of the best decisions they ever made. After all those months of planning, the wedding day goes by so fast you’ll want it all captured on video. But how do you decide which videographer is the perfect fit for your style and budget? Check out these top questions you should ask when interviewing your wedding videographer.
1. How long have you been a wedding videographer and how many weddings do you film per year?
Why you should ask: As you will watch your wedding video for years to come, you want to make sure your videographer captures every last detail. By choosing someone with more experience, you will have confidence knowing they will capture every detail and special moment.
2. How does your pricing work? What does your package include?
Why you should ask: Most videographers charge a flat rate that covers a certain amount of time. Others have preset package rates that also include other services such as a same-day video edit or a second shooter. Whatever the case, it’s important to run through the list of everything included and the price. If there are any specifics you wish to include such as a short trailer to share as a sneak peek or a hard drive containing raw footage, make sure you discuss this with your videographer and get it in writing beforehand.
3. Have you and my photographer worked together before? Do you know him or her?
Why you should ask: As your photographer and videographer will have to work closely throughout your wedding day to capture all of your precious moments, it’s great if they’ve worked together before as they will most likely work well again. However if they haven’t, ask them to meet at least once before the big day so they can discuss the format and plan out the shots together.
4. Have you filmed weddings at my ceremony/reception venue before?
Why you should ask: Experienced videographers know how to find the best lighting and angles to get the perfect shot in any location, but if they’ve filmed at your venue before, it’ll come even more naturally to them. Without additional planning, they will already know the best angles to capture every detail of your wedding like your beautiful first dance.
5. How would you describe your videography style? Documentary, cinematic or a mix of both?
Why you should ask: An experienced videographer should be able to clearly explain what kind of style they shoot and based on what you and your fiancee want, you can decide if they fit the style you’re looking for. Documentary (or journalistic) style videos capture the day more naturally, mimicking the actual timeline of events from your wedding day, and often you will hear snippets of the audio which adds a raw element to the video. Vintage-style videos may be filmed using 8mm tapes or can have filters added during post-production. Cinematic style videos are similar to a movie, including a trailer at the beginning and montages set to music, which require more editing and post-production work.
Keep in mind that the style will affect the way your videographer films your wedding. For example, in a cinematic video, you might see a shot of the bride’s veil blowing flawlessly through the breeze, but note it wasn’t just captured that way. The videographer had to position the bride and veil in order to get that shot. However, in a documentary style video, it’s the complete opposite. The videographer will just capture the events as they naturally occur.
Ask the videographer for samples of their work to see how they’ve filmed other weddings. If they describe their style differently than how you perceive it, this may be a problem.
6. Which parts of the wedding day do you film?
Why you should ask: Many couples complain that they didn’t see certain parts of their wedding day captured in their video so it’s important to discuss what you want with your videographer to avoid any disappointment or misunderstandings.
7. What input would you like from us? What would you prefer to have the final say on?
Why you should ask: Just as you may have a vision of how you want your wedding video, your videographer probably does too. Many videographers see each video as an artistic project that reflects their brand–they may be flexible with certain requests but may ask you to trust them on others. If you fully trust your videographer, leave it to them, but if there’s something you specifically want (e.g., a particular song), make sure you discuss it before signing the contract.
8. Will you be shooting any other weddings on the same weekend as mine? Will you be the videographer shooting my wedding?
Why you should ask: Ideally, you want your videographer for the entire wedding day so it’s important to ask if they have any other commitments. In any case, make sure they have enough time for yours. Also, larger studios often schedule multiple weddings per weekend so the person you are interviewing might not be the videographer who will actually be at yours. If that is the case, be sure to schedule a meeting with your assigned videographer to make sure your vision and styles align.
9. Will you bring a second shooter, a stationary camera or any other backup cameras for our wedding?
Why you should ask: It can be quite challenging for a one man team to capture every moment and detail of your wedding on camera. Oftentimes, a second shooter is included in a videography package so be sure to ask!
10. How do you handle music for our video?
Why you should ask: Music will set the tone for your video so be sure to share what kind of music you love/hate so your videographer can find music that matches your style. They should listen to your input but if you trust them, be open to their recommendation as they know what works best for editing. Also, be sure to ask if they will be using licensed music, especially if the video will be posted online.
11. When can I expect to receive the final video? 
Why you should ask: Wedding videos require a lot of editing (especially cinematic styles) so it may take a while before you receive the final video. Ask them so you know when to expect it by.
12. What does your camera and equipment look like?
Why you should ask: Nowadays, videographers can capture your wedding without all the bulky equipment–their camera is probably the same size as your photographer’s! However, you should ask so that you know what to expect.
Also, ask them how they will be capturing the audio. Great audio is just as important as capturing a beautiful picture. Will they use hand-held microphones at the ceremony or clip-ons? Be sure to discuss this important aspect with them.


Ask the Experts: "What Are the Pros and Cons of a Morning Wedding?"

Welcome to our latest installment of "Ask the Experts," where our contributor team of wedding planners solves readers' most pressing wedding-planning dilemmas! This week, Aviva Samuels from Kiss the Planner gives us the scoop on the hottest new ways to entertain wedding guests. Do you have a question that you'd like to submit? Email ask@bridalguide.com and we'll do our best to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
Q. "My daughter wants to throw her wedding at 11 a.m. on a Saturday due to the cost savings. However, I'm concerned that this forces guests to arrive the night before and makes for a very early start for the wedding party, pictures, flower deliveries, etc. Can you please list the pros and cons of a morning wedding?" - Marien
Photo courtesy of Aviva Samuels

Aviva Answers:

"Hi, Marien. You make an excellent point about guests having to arrive the night before and getting an early start on the wedding day. I completely understand your concerns. Throwing a wedding is a delicate balancing act of making things comfortable for both the guests and host as well.
If your daughter and her fiancé are footing the bill and are on a tight budget, then a daytime wedding can usually make their funds stretch a lot further than a primetime Saturday night. Vendors are typically much more agreeable to offer more value when the timeframe doesn't compete with another potential wedding that they still have the opportunity to book. And a decorator's tear-down fees might also be lower since laborers don't have to work until the wee hours of the morning at a premium rate. Venues have far more availability, and menu costs are far less for brunch or lunch than they are for dinner.

Photo Credit: Leany Ruiz Photography
If your daughter is hosting her rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, then chances are her guests would have to travel in on Friday during the day, regardless of what time her wedding starts on Saturday. And although it isn't ideal that the photos and the party start fairly early in the day, the other benefit — besides being cost effective — is that the party ends early enough for guests to recuperate. They'll have a full day after the wedding is over to explore the hosted city or get back to their routine far sooner before having to return to work on Monday.
I'd also like to note some other perks as well. Daylight hours make for better photos than those taken with a flash after dark. A daytime wedding saves on decorative and functional lighting costs, which can be an expensive proposition. Lastly, daytime functions tend to be more casual than evening events. Therefore, not only are you providing a more intimate experience for your guests, but the setting calls for a simpler tablescape with low floral arrangements, allowing you an even greater cost savings.

The reality is that sharing in your daughter's joy is what her friends and family are traveling there to do. If they love and support her and want to be there with her, they will likely look at it as a small compromise that they are prepared to make. I'm sure their main desire is to share in her very special moments, no matter what time of day they happen to take place."

Etiquette Q&A: "We Already Live Together; Should Our Parents Still Pay for the Wedding?"

Q. "Does it affect the parents’ financial obligation if a couple has lived together prior to the wedding?"
A. Whether or not a couple has lived together before they marry has absolutely nothing to do with who pays for the wedding. And there is no rule stating that parents are obligated to pay. Yes, traditionally the bride’s parents were expected to pick up most of the tab while the groom’s parents usually just covered the cost of the rehearsal dinner. But today, more couples pay for the majority of the wedding themselves (nearly 62 percent according to a recent Bridal Guide survey).
Any financial assistance they receive from their parents is a gift, and how much they receive depends on their parents’ financial situation. Some parents can afford to pay for the entire wedding while others may only be able to contribute a certain amount to cover the cost for flowers, catering, music or photography. If the groom’s parents are better off financially, they may even offer to pay for more than the bride’s.
It’s best to find out early on if parents are able to contribute to the wedding expenses and, if so, how much they are comfortable spending. You’ll then have a better idea of what your budget is and can plan accordingly.

9 Surprising Things That'll Happen on Your Wedding Day

You've booked all of your vendors. You've found the gown of your dreams. But how do you prepare emotionally for everything the big day will have in store for you? Here, check out the surprises that catch most brides off guard. 
1. At some point, you'll feel like you're running late.
You may not actually be running late — but let's face it, you probably are. Even if you're a master planner, things happen — your hair takes twice as long as you budgeted for; your bridesmaid gets lost on her way to your house; you can't find your grandfather for family photos during the cocktail hour. Or, you may just feel like you're rushing through everything because you have so much on your to-do list. After you've plotted out your wedding-day schedule, add an extra hour in the morning. It's worth it to wake up a little earlier to avoid that frantic, stressed-out feeling on your wedding morning.
2. You won't eat.Whether you're too excited, too nervous, or just too busy, sitting down for an actual meal requires serious planning — and we're not just talking about dinner. Make sure you at least eat a hearty breakfast and lunch so that you're not running on empty as you bounce around your wedding reception. (But seriously, try to eat a solid dinner, too — you're paying a lot of money for that meal!).
3. You'll feel a little bit like a superhero.
No one can say "no" to the bride on her wedding day... but with great power comes great responsibility. Use it to your advantage, but don't abuse it. 
4. Something will go wrong.
Maybe it's something minor that no one else will notice — like that the flower arrangement you received for your escort card table is so not what you ordered. Or maybe it's something you'll laugh about later, like flubbing your vows. Whatever the case may be, try to take it in stride and remember that no one is paying as much attention to the details as you are.
5. You'll probably cry.
And they may not be happy tears. Tears of frustration, tears of sadness, and tears of relief (the nightmarish reality of planning a wedding is finally over!) are all equally common. Take a timeout if you feel the tears coming on, and prepare yourself ahead of time by waterproofing your makeup and remembering to pat — not rub — your tears away.
6. You won't spend as much time with your new spouse as you'd think.
On your wedding day, you may not see each other until you walk down the aisle, and after that, you're both going to be torn in about 50 different directions — greeting your own friends and family members, dancing with the other important people in your lives, taking pictures with your crew... and before you know it, it's been hours since you've even spoken to your new spouse. Work it into your schedule to spend at least 30 minutes alone together right after your ceremony. Lock yourselves in the bridal suite, or get your own transportation from the ceremony to the reception rather than riding in the party bus with your bridal party. Take a moment to reflect on the amazing commitment you've just made to each other and celebrate together — there will be plenty of time to celebrate with your loved ones after.
7. You'll be wonderfully overwhelmed by the love surrounding you.
It's not often that you get to see all of your family members and closest friends in the same room at the same time, and they're all there to celebrate you. Make sure you spend a few moments with each of your loved ones — have a receiving line after your ceremony, or make sure to visit each table during the dinner service.
8. The day will fly by.
After months and months of planning, it's amazing how quickly the day whizzes by. Try to soak it in as much as you can.
9. Sex may not be in the cards.Whether it's your first time or your 50th, Hollywood leads us to believe that consummating the marriage is magical, wonderful and, most importantly, critical. But some things are better left on the big screen. You may be too tired, too drunk, too whatever to do it that night. It's okay to save your first time as husband and wife for the following night if you're just not in the mood.
Recent brides, what would you add to our list?


15 Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Week

Photo Credit: Sonia Tapia - Enchanted Bliss
1. Finalize your wedding itinerary. "Your wedding timeline needs to be realistic and have room for error. If you don't have a planner, ask your photographer and on-site coordinator for guidance; they've done this many times and can help you avoid any red flags," says Gina Jokilehto-Schigel from Shi Shi Events. Complete this task at the beginning of your wedding week so that you can confirm all of your vendors. Then, distribute copies of the timeline to your bridal party and family members at the rehearsal dinner so that everyone is on the same page about who needs to be where and when.
2. Make sure your wedding gown fits properly. "I've had brides put their wedding dress on only to find that their alterations weren't complete, and there were still pins in it," says Joni Scalzo from Your Special Day by Joni. Also, when you take your dress home, be sure to take the garment bag off so that it has time to "breathe" and settle.
3. Break in your wedding shoes. Don't let aching feet put a damper on your big day! Stretch out your heels in advance by wearing a thick pair of socks and aiming a hair dryer at the tighter spots (keep them on while they cool). You could also try placing a bag of water in each heel and freezing them overnight. Better yet, bring a change of shoes that you can slip on while shooting photos outdoors or after the first dance.
4. Drop off necessary ceremony and reception items to your wedding venue. For example, your sign-in book, unity candles, bathroom amenity baskets, menus, table numbers, escort cards, card box, etc. Organize everything into bins and include notes with any special instructions about what goes where. Give your venue coordinator a list of items that need to be returned to you post-celebration like framed photos or your cake topper.
5. If you can avoid it, don't plan your rehearsal dinner the night before your wedding. "Schedule it two days prior, instead, to avoid being over-scheduled before your wedding," says Shannon Dexter from All You Need is Love Events. She tells us that some of her brides and grooms often choose to have dinner alone the night before their wedding so they can spend some quality time together and relax.
6. Create a ceremony diagram. Strategize the order of how the attendants will stand, and list who and in what order the family will sit in the reserved rows. That way, you won't forget to seat your favorite uncle in the right place.
7. Delegate, delegate, delegate. You won't be able to do everything by yourself, no matter how much you are willing to try. "We always encourage our brides to outsource the delivery of the welcome bags to a good friend or family member who has offered to help, or even a courier service. It is a time-consuming project that collides with such a busy period of your wedding weekend," says Augusta Cole from Easton Events. Another huge time-saver is designating someone to meet and greet out-of-town guests at the airport. "You may want to pick up everyone yourself because you are so excited to see them but don't stress yourself out," says Diane Kolanović-Šolaja from Dee Kay Events.
8. Designate a go-to person who knows just as much about the wedding as you do. In most cases, this is a maid of honor or sister. "She knows when you need a sandwich (hold the red onions) and can help calm your mom down. Most importantly, she'll relieve you from being the go-to person for every wedding question," says Lindsey Nickel from Lovely Day Events. For example, she can help your photographer identify missing family members to help move along the portraits portion of the day. You may also want to turn your cell phone over to her for the day. "If you don't, you will find yourself acting as a 'help desk' for your friends and relatives," Cole cautions.
9. Soliciting the help of a wedding coordinator can be a huge relief. They can confirm your vendors, coordinate your welcome dinner, make weather-related decisions, assist with seating assignments and finish crossing off any other last-minute tasks. "Even if nothing were to go wrong, just knowing that they are there as an insurance policy will help you keep any jitteriness to a minimum," says Aviva Samuels from Kiss the Planner.
10. Plan some fun outings with guests who will be in town. The wedding day passes by in a blur — prolong the excitement with activities leading up to the grand finale. That way, you not only get to spend time with everyone you love but also introduce your guests to one another. Just limit yourself to a few activities and avoid over-scheduling.
11. Make your final payments before they're due. "You don't want to be burdened with trying to locate your checkbook on the wedding day," says Lisa Gorjestani from Details Event Planning. Write out a list of gratuities that you plan to give each vendor and put the tip money into separate envelopes with their names, which you'll need to keep in a safe place. Depending on your preference, you could designate a parent to distribute tips, so you don't have to worry about it at the end of the night. (Bring some extra envelopes in case you’d like to adjust accordingly at the end of the event.)
12. Take good care of yourself. Eat healthy, balanced meals and don't skimp; after all, you'll need every ounce of energy you've got. "It's not fun to be a 'hangry' bride or be around one!" Nickel says. Get away from the hustle and bustle of preparations to go for a run, take a yoga class, read a book or another decompressing activity.
13. Indulge in well-deserved pampering with your wedding VIPs. After you've finalized everything, you're officially in relaxation mode and can enjoy getting your nails done! Dexter shares that one of her clients booked a mini spa getaway two weeks before the big day. "It allowed her to be calm and spend some time with her mother, whom she lived with before she married her husband and moved out," she says.
14. Get a good night's sleep. Although it may be tempting to stay up until 2 a.m., getting enough Zzzs will ensure that you're glowing in your wedding photos and have the stamina to dance your wedding night away. If you're throwing a multi-day wedding celebration, Cole tells us it's important to have a graceful exit strategy. "Establish a departure time and rally a friend or family member to ensure you leave the event to get your rest," she advises.
15. Remember why you're celebrating in the first place. Do your best to cherish this once-in-a-lifetime event. "Weddings are a joyous occasion. But with all the meticulous planning, high expectations and umpteen hours that go into them, there are bound to be some stressful moments in the final weeks," Samuels says. "Don't obsess about perfection to the point where you make yourself miserable in the process," she cautions. Take a moment to look around at the people that mean the world to you and your partner. "The dresses, cake, flowers, food, and drinks have little importance to the success of your marriage. Because, let's be honest — in the end, love is all you need," Dexter says.

How to Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams

Photo Credit: Yvette Roman
Many brides tell me that they’ve been “dreaming of this day all my life” — yet, whether you’ve already filled a binder with details for every event from the engagement party through the honeymoon or you’re starting with a blank slate, there will be only about 13 months to plan your wedding and reception. Where to begin?
Set the Date
This is a great way to get the planning started as it can help steer you in a particular direction — outdoors vs. indoors, for example. Additionally, popular venues and vendors can book up well in advance, as can photographers, bands and DJs. Working backward from the date to prioritize which things need to be taken care of right away will help keep things progressing and keep you from panicking.
Choose Your Colors
Here’s another decision that sets other important planning wheels in motion, including invites, flowers and bridal-party gowns. The wedding color palettes I’m seeing for spring and summer are beautiful muted pastels — think Caribbean Sea or pale, pale pistachio green. For a fall/winter wedding, think about deep, dark green or my favorite combo: dahlia red paired with slate grey. I’m also loving all the beiges like taupe, mushroom and cream. An easy way to envision your colors is to grab a few paint swatches from your local hardware store.
Hint: Determining both your wedding date and your color palette are two of the best ways to get your planning up and running.
Determine Your Overall Vision
Modern? Traditional? Romantic? Vintage? Just like setting the colors, once you have a clear vision, it will help you design your invitations, choose décor and select personal touches.
Pick the venue that most reflects you and your fiancé. Whether it’s a formal ballroom or outside among nature, in a vineyard or beachside, look to an environment that reflects your personal style.
The Gown
Once your date is set, start shopping. Finding “the one” (and going for follow-up fittings) takes time, so you’ll want to get this important element crossed off your to-do list early. A trend I love is a gown with a dramatically low back — even more gorgeous when adorned with long, back-hanging necklaces.
Create a Beauty Plan
You’ve chosen the gown, now start considering the perfect hair and makeup to complete your look. Get hair and makeup artist recommendations from friends and start exploring: updo or down? For a picture-perfect smile, tooth-whitening is popular with brides. Many of my brides are now taking it to the next level with treatments like Invisalign clear aligners, which discreetly straighten teeth without most people even noticing, letting you smile freely for every event leading up to the big day and beyond. Try a new fitness class or two. A new workout regime can be a great motivator if you’re trying to drop a few pounds.
Go Snail Mail
It’s traditional, classic and classy. No matter how tech savvy or environmentally conscious you are, make an effort to send all your guests a physical invitation. (And as the wedding gifts come in, be sure to follow up with written thank-you notes.)
Photos are Forever
So it’s key to find someone who will be comfortable shooting in the photographic style you seek. A major trend in wedding photography right now is less formal, more journalistic, capturing not only the bridal party, but also unique details such as rings, shoes, buttons or lace on the gown. Up-close shots featuring natural expressions are very popular too. And make sure you and your smile are camera-ready, as “selfies” and instant social-media sharing are sure to be part of your wedding day.
Don’t skimp here. Your guests will appreciate a great DJ, band or other fun activities. Entertainment is one area that brings people together and creates experiences that everyone will remember long after the celebration.
Hire Help
Even if you have planned every detail (whew!), handing off the day-of logistics to a coordinator on the day itself will ensure your vision is carried out and allow you to take in the day and enjoy your guests. Cheers!
Based out of Beverly Hills, Mindy Weiss is a full-service event planner who has planned the weddings of notable brides including Jessica Simpson and Ellen DeGeneres.