Getting the Most Out of a Wedding Planner

wedding planner

There are lots of expenses when it comes to planning a wedding. This is one reason why couples sit down in advance and determine what’s really important for the wedding planning process.

For some couples, that means hiring a wedding planner. For couples asking if it’s necessary to hire a wedding planner, there is no right or wrong answer. It boils down to a couple deciding what’s best for their wedding.

Here’s what is important: If you are going to hire a wedding planner, make sure you get your money’s worth. Remember, a wedding planner is a professional consultant who is hired to help you with many of the tasks associated with planning your wedding. A good wedding planner should have contacts and knowledge of certain wedding vendors.

The payment setup for wedding planners will vary. Some planners charge by the hour. Others charge a retainer up front and then give a specified amount of time for phone and in-person consultations. They may charge extra by the hour. The average wedding may take several conference calls to plan. Try to get as organized as possible before bringing in the wedding planner and have questions ready.

Every time you have a call or a meeting with the wedding planner, make notes. You can refer to those notes during future planning sessions and they may help with follow-up questions.

You don’t need to have a huge budget to hire a wedding planner. If two people are planning to walk down the aisle, but also have very schedules, a wedding planner can help organize things and come up with a strategic plan of what needs to get done and set a deadline for certain tasks.

Hiring a wedding planner can also be great if you are planning a destination wedding. You can find a wedding planner familiar with the area and the local vendors.

Make sure you are hiring a wedding planner for the right reasons. This will make the planning of your wedding a more enjoyable experience.

Start Sending Those Wedding Invitations

wedding invitation ideas

Sending out wedding invitations takes time and thought but it does not have to be a chore or another source of stress during an already busy time.

Enjoy the wedding invitation experience. It allows for creativity and can be a lifelong reminder of planning that special day.

Think about what’s important for your wedding day. What do you want to convey?

All wedding invitations should contain some basic, yet important, information:
• Your name and the name of your fiancée, including last names.
• The date, time and location of the wedding ceremony and reception location.
• Reply information.

Of course, one fairly important part of wedding planning is picking the actual wedding date. Then it’s time to think about how you want to get creative with the wedding invitations.

Try to get organized about a month before you plan on sending out the wedding invitations. This should be about six to eight weeks before the wedding. This will allow your guests time to respond and also help you determine a reasonable head count. That head count will help with planning with vendors.

Think about any special names or titles that should be included on the invitations. If one of the parents of the bride or groom is a doctor, it’s certainly acceptable to replace Mr. or Mrs. with Dr.

If you would prefer not to have children at the wedding, that can also be addressed outside of the invitations. Perhaps a phone call to those invited who have children.

Does your wedding have a theme? If so, try and make sure the theme is reflected in the invitation. If it is going to be a less-formal wedding ceremony and reception, this message can also be delivered in the invitation.

Understand what you want from your wedding and make the invitation to the ceremony and the reception the first message to your guest that you would love for them to be a part of your special day.

Choosing Those Wedding Invitations

wedding invitation
Spring is finally here and that means wedding season is upon us. If you’re planning a wedding now and already looking ahead to next spring, there is plenty to do between now and then.

One of the first things to decide upon will be the wedding announcements. They will serve as the official declaration of your upcoming nuptials. Choosing the invitations might not seem as important as choosing a wedding dress or a reception hall, but picking the right invitations will send the perfect early tone for your wedding.

So what decisions do you need to make when it comes to wedding invitations?

Determine how many invitations you will send. Of course, this depends greatly on the number of people you are inviting. Finalize a guest list and find out how many people will be coming. Break down the list by singles and couples. Couples should only be sent one invitation. This is important to remember. Inviting 150 people to the wedding is not the same as sending out 150 invitations.

Get those invitations out in the mail early. This allows your guests to have plenty of notification about the wedding date. Make the RSVP date about four to six weeks before the ceremony. This allows you to know who plans on showing up. The earlier you can get an accurate headcount, the better.

Know your style. Does your wedding have a theme? Make sure it’s reflected in the wedding invitations. This should not be done at the expense of important things like, say, the date of time of the wedding. Still, it’s great to add to a wedding’s theme by having the invitations reflect that theme.

What about color? Will certain colors (besides the traditional white) be highlighted at the ceremony? Then the same rule that applied for the wedding theme applies here. Make sure those colors are part of the wedding invitations.

Words matter. Choose your words wisely and make sure everything is spelled correctly.

Always keep some extra invitations. Just in case.

2014 Wedding Trends

save the date card
Spring means the spring wedding season begins in earnest. There are some developing wedding trends as we head into the spring of 2014.

One recent article did a great job of highlighting some of those current wedding trends.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

Social media is becoming more and more a part of weddings and wedding planning. Many couples are embracing the idea of tweets and Facebook posts during their special day. In fact, it’s more than just posts and tweets on the day of the wedding.

Some couples are creating blogs and Facebook pages specifically crafted around their weddings. And, if some of the guests can’t make it to the weddings, there are couples that are live-streaming the ceremonies on the web.

Of course, there are couples that just want more privacy and are going the other way by taking the day off from social media. In fact, guest at some weddings are being asked to drop off their smart phones at a device drop-off station when they arrive.

Then there is the invitation before the invitation. It’s called a save-the-date card. It’s not as formal as a wedding invitation but serves as a reminder for the people valued most by the bride and groom.

The save-the-date card is usually a fun postcard that couples send out to expected invitees, reminding them to keep the date open. Many of these informal cards provide guests information on wedding websites, blogs and Facebook addresses to check in for further details.

Then there’s the traditional wedding organ. For some couples, it’s an antiquated soundtrack for walking down the aisle. Instead, couples are turning to soloists or strong quartets and brass groups.

There are some things about weddings that will likely never change, like picking a great spot for a wedding reception. Trends come and go, so the most important thing for the bride and groom to decide is, what makes them happy.

A Stress-Free Wedding

wedding stress
Spring will be here next week and spring means that the wedding season is kicking into high gear. We know weddings are stressful. There is so much that goes into the planning of a wedding. It can be overwhelming.

There are plenty of ways to reduce the stress of a wedding. It just takes some planning. Here are some ideas:

Hire a planner. We know, we know. A wedding planner is not for everyone. Some couples will consider a wedding planner an intrusion. We understand, but don’t be so quick to dismiss a wedding planner. Wedding planners can be a great first vendor to contact. A good wedding planner can help set a budget, contact vendors and broker deals and find other discounts.
Stick to your budget. It won’t always be easy. You might be tempted to go a little over budget to splurge on something you just don’t think you can pass up. Remember, budgeting and managing finances are going to be a big part of married life. Might as well get in the habit now of using some financial discipline.
Decide what you want as a couple. This is your special day. You and your fiancé need to decide what are the most important parts of the ceremony are going to be. Come to an agreement about the kind of reception you want and make decisions on things like the size of the guest list. There will be some debate on some of those decisions but it’s best to come to agreement that won’t leave you or your fiancé feeling stressed.
Pick the venue. The perfect venue can help create the perfect wedding. It’s hard to achieve perfection but finding a great venue can relieve lots of stress and make sure you and your guests enjoy a terrific wedding reception.

Getting Ready for Golf Season

seasons at the tradition golf 1

For many golfers in the northeast, late winter is a time to think about getting those clubs out of winter hibernation and prepared for spring. There is plenty that needs to be done before hitting the links and taking those first few spring swings.

March is a great time of year to do some golf “housekeeping”:

Make sure your health is still good to go if you’ve had a physically inactive winter. If you have any nagging aches or pains that you might feel on the golf course, don’t take chances. Check with your doctor before your first day of golf this spring.
Check your equipment. Make sure any fitted equipment you use is up-to-date. Remember, this is a great time of year to check out local golf stores and athletic shops. There’s likely some great spring deals on things like shoes and gloves.
Get in your swings. If you haven’t picked up a golf club in months, you might be a little rusty. Before you put in your first day of 18 holes, it might be a good idea to head down to the local driving range. It may help you knock off the rust of your golf swing. If you can’t get to the driving range, or maybe before you go to the range, maybe try some air golf. Don’t laugh if you’ve never done it. Getting in a few air golf swings can help remind your body of your swing motion.
Twas’ the night before golf season. On the night before your first golf outing this spring, make sure all your stuff is ready. This means clean your clubs before and make sure your have a fresh/ample supply of golf balls.
Any deals? Check with local courses about any possible tee time deals as the new golf seasons.

Saying “I Do” to Wedding Savings

wedding savings
When it comes to weddings, there are a few beliefs that are rarely challenged. One is, anybody who is engaged wants a beautiful, perfect wedding. Another one is, nobody wants to end up in massive debt because of the wedding.

Look, most weddings are expensive. Maybe if you get married in your backyard, with your Uncle Phil serving as justice of the peace and serving up a wedding menu that consists of burgers on the grill, you’ll save some serious money. Most couples are going to aim a little higher, however.

So where are some areas where you can save money when it comes time to preparing for your wedding? Here are some tips we found from experts and people who make their living in the wedding business:

Prioritize. What’s really important? Is the open bar really important? Or is the 14-member band for the reception really important? Sit down with your future spouse and make a list of things you both want for the wedding. Then decide if there are areas where you can do some trimming.
Trim the guest list. This is not an easy one, we know. But smaller is cheaper, so you have to make some tough decisions. We are not saying you should omit close family and friends. Take a look at whittling down the number of co-workers who are invited. If you are working with a wedding hall or banquet facility, ask them if any special packages are connected to the number of guests you invite.
Consider an off-season wedding. Spring and fall weddings are great. If you can swing it, go for it. Just know going in, you likely going to get a better deal at a banquet facility if you plan a wedding for one of the following months: January, February, March or November.
Stick to your schedule. It’s easy to fall behind schedule on your wedding day. But there’s some financial incentive for watching the clock. Some bands and limo companies will charge extra if things run longer than planned.

A Wedding Guest on a Budget

wedding guest budget 1
We all know planning and holding a wedding can be very expensive. Yet, attending a wedding can be very expensive as well. No one wants to disappoint family or friends by skipping a wedding because of the cost.

Fear not. There are ways you can save on the cost of attending a wedding. It just takes a little homework and creativity.

For the gentlemen guest, buying a tux one piece at a time can really pay off. Think about how much it generally costs to rent a tux. It’s usually between 100 (if you’re lucky) and 250 dollars. You might be better off searching the web for discount tuxedo sites and buying a tux, piece-by-piece. For instance, you might be able to buy the jacket and pants separately at a reduced price. In the short time, there may not be a huge savings in terms of price. Yet, you still may be able to “build” your own tux at a cheaper cost than the actual rental. Plus, there’s the added benefit of owning your own tux. That will come in handy and save you money when you attend future weddings.

For female guests, buying a new dress can bring along a hefty price tag. This is especially true for bridesmaids. Don’t be afraid to consider a used dress. There are websites where you can score great deals on popular used bridesmaids’ dresses.

Then there is travel. Let’s be honest. Some of us groan upon learning a friend or family member’s wedding is a “destination wedding”. Travel ain’t cheap. But it doesn’t need to break your bank account or put you into debt. There are lots of travel websites out there just waiting to give you a great deal. You should check out some of the sites and set up real-time price alerts. And book as early as possible. Plus, if you attend a destination wedding, you should not feel obligated to buy a gift as well. The wedding couple should be understanding.

Wedding couples will try and keep costs down. That’s why facilities offer off-season weddings. It’s important for wedding guests to know about the deals that can save them money the next time a wedding invitation arrives in the mail.

Worth a First Look?

We know, we know…weddings are all about tradition. It makes sense. The traditional wedding ceremony is beautiful and the memories last a lifetime. Still, it’s up to each couple to decide what traditions to keep and which ones to leave out of the ceremony.

first look wedding
One of those age-old traditions is that the bride and the groom should not see each other before the walk down the aisle and the meeting at the altar. At least one wedding photographer says this is a tradition couples should at least reconsider. And it has nothing to do with breaking tradition. It has to do with practicality.

The photographer says a “first look” can be very beneficial to couples on their wedding day. She brings up some interesting points we’d like to pass along:

Emotions: This is the idea that the first look is more emotional than the actual walk down the aisle. This might very well be true. The first time the bride and groom see each other on the day of the wedding is always going to be emotional. This could be a great time for a special picture.

Improving logistics: Romance and logistics don’t always go hand in hand, but they need to co-exist on a wedding day. The thought here is that a first look often makes for a smoother wedding day. The photographer recommends the couple get together for a first look two to three hours before the wedding ceremony. This also allows for more time to capture family and bridal shower pictures.

An opportunity to calm the nerves. At some point during the day, there is a very good chance at least one if not both members of the happy couple will start feeling the jitters. Seeing each other can help calm the nerves and jitters that otherwise might take place right before the start of the ceremony.

Of course, finding a great wedding venue is always a way to know your wedding ceremony and reception will be in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.

Valentine’s Day Dining

valentine's day dining

For many couples, Valentine’s Day means a guaranteed night out to dinner. For those who wait until the last minute to try and find a table, this can be tricky.  Restaurants are jam-packed on Valentine’s Day night and will likely be especially busy this year, since Valentine’s Day is on a Friday.

 

This is why it’s always a good idea to make those romantic dining reservations in advance. Trying to reserve a table the day before or on Valentine’s Day can lead to culinary heartbreak. And the early bird does not always get the worm (or a meal). If you don’t have reservations but think you can just show up early and get a table, you may be disappointed. Folks who love the early bird specials also love Valentine’s Day. You can always try picking a very early time (say 4pm) or a later time at a restaurant. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

 

If you do find yourself in a romantic dining pickle, you do have some options. You and your special someone could opt to dine out on another day. See if you can book a table at your favorite restaurant the day after Valentine’s Day. Since Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, maybe there will be a little less dining traffic on Saturday night.  The good news about dining out a day or two after Valentine’s Day is that some restaurants will feature a specials Valentine’s menu that lasts several days (or at least through the weekend).  Still, it’s a good idea to do a little research first.  Some restaurants may have price-fix menus for Valentine’s Day.

 

If you have your heart set on a special dining-out experience for Valentine’s Day, but are having trouble finding a table for dinner, consider dining out for another meal.  There’s no law saying you can’t enjoy a great Valentine’s Day lunch or brunch.

 

We want to remind you that Seasons at Oak Lane is a great spot for a delicious and romantic Valentine’s Day meal. Our restaurant at Seasons at Oak Lane will provide the romantic atmosphere and our Executive Chef will create delicious food. The restaurant is also open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.