With catering, flowers, music, and a myriad of other details to arrange, planning your wedding can be both exhilarating and anxiety-provoking. Discover the latest trends and follow these tips to reduce stress and survive the months leading up to your big day.
Your Ceremony and Reception Site
Weekday ceremonies are increasing in popularity in the U.S. This is especially true for those who’ve been married before. Off-day weddings can substantially reduce your overall costs. Whatever day you choose, unlimited options are available for your ceremony and reception sites so long as you plan well in advance.
If you belong to a church, you can ask your minister to be your wedding officiant and also inquire about the use of the church for your ceremony. If you prefer a more secular ceremony, contact your city hall for a list of judges who perform weddings.
Before you commit to a site or officiant, ask about their rules on the ceremony and wording of vows. Find out what fees the facility and officiant charge, how many guests may attend, and what decorations are supplied.
When planning your reception, keep in mind facilities often book a year in advance, particularly for Saturdays. Choose a reception location near your ceremony with plenty of parking space, an adequate dance floor, and plenty of lighting, outlets, and power. Also, ask about facility restrictions and whether you can use your own caterer, florist, and entertainment.
Ethnic cuisines have been growing in popularity for receptions, and there are plenty of choices sure to please your wedding party and guests. Traditional Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Italian are all excellent choices.
Another trend is for couples to create a multicultural menu that combines traditional dishes from both of their family’s home countries. Done right, this makes for a delightful feast.
How about brunch? Because daytime weddings are less expensive than later in the day or evening, this has become quite popular. It could result in savings on your menu as well.
Before meeting with a caterer, decide the dishes you’d like to serve. When you meet, ask to see photos of the food.
Don’t rule out a plate dinner either until you discuss the cost. The price difference between that and a buffet is often nominal.
Also, discuss with the caterer how the food will be served and what the servers will wear. Then get a written quote that includes costs of the food, beverages, alcohol, service, decorating, set up and clean up, and the number of people to be served.
The Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes are more delicious than ever with a broader array of fillings and frostings to choose from. The hottest trend is statement cakes. Rather than serving multiple desserts, splurge on one big cake that is a focal point.
Still, many couples are opting for more simple one-tiered cakes, offering their guests an array of tasty desserts to choose from.
Designs that are currently quite popular include cakes decorated with rosettes, metallics, ruffles, monograms, geometric designs, and even painted cakes.
Take photos with you of some of your favorite designs when you meet with your cake maker. Ask to see pictures of the baker’s designs as well. Be sure to discuss your budget and the number of guests with the baker. Also, schedule a tasting to determine the combinations you like best and ask if the baker will deliver your cake.
Theme music for wedding receptions has become very popular, ranging from ethnic to movie soundtracks. Ballroom dancing is also on the rise, as is classic music from a particular genre or era.
A particularly hot trend is performance acts. Performances run from about 20–30 minutes during the set break or with the band performing in the background. Acts range from a choreographed dance show to acrobats to fire dancers.
Don’t forget the music for your wedding ceremony, too.
Before making your selections, check on facility regulations. Also, ask to hear the musicians perform to ensure they’ll meet your expectations. Discuss attire, breaks, and costs, including overtime fees.
Finally, on your wedding day, make sure the sound system is adjusted to avoid music that blares or is too low.
Bold colors continue to be a popular choice. But also trending are rich, moody color palettes that set a romantic, emotional tone for the big day. Berry colors mixed with white are also being seen this year.
For bridal bouquets, minimalism is in. A single flower with a lovely display of greenery and small bouquets are quite popular.
Before you meet with your florist, visit the library and flip through floral and garden books. Make a list of your flower preferences as well as your dislikes. Then compile a list of your floral needs. This will include bridal bouquet, boutonnières, hair flowers, bridesmaid bouquets, corsages, and wedding and reception arrangements. Also, determine the quantity you’ll need of each.
When you visit your florist, discuss colors and make sure bridesmaids’ bouquets will complement, but not match, their dresses. Ask about substitution policies, freshness guarantees, and the charges for consultations, flowers, decorations, and delivery fees.
Photographers and Videographers
Photojournalism is quite popular in wedding photography. So your first step is to decide between traditional posed photographs and candid shots by a photojournalist. You may also want to consider having your special moment captured on video.
Whatever you choose, make sure your contract includes the number of hours for shooting or filming and the number of shots and rolls of film to be taken. It should also include package details, including the number and sizes of photos, and the costs. Also, check with your wedding facility for any restrictions on photography.
Then, a few days before your wedding, send your photographer a list of the wedding party, close family and friends, and specific photos you want to be taken.
Many couples today are designing their invitations with computer software. If this isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You’ll be able to choose among a variety of templates and styles provided by your stationer.
When you visit your stationer, ask to see samples of paper types, invitation styles, and the ink colors available. Make your selection according to the formality of your wedding.
Also, ask if the stationer can print maps and directions and do the folding and inserting. Then decide whether you’ll include your reception details on enclosures or the ceremony invitation and whether to include response cards.
Finally, before placing your order, make sure your guest list is complete. Also, have both of your families review your order to avoid errors.
Polka dots are the latest trend in wedding dresses. Features that are especially hot right now include regal capes, large bows, off-the-shoulder necklines and sleeves, body-hugging silhouettes, and minimal embellishments.
Your search for a wedding gown is likely to be your most significant journey. It’ll take you to department stores, bridal salons, designer boutiques, consignment shops, seamstresses, trunk shows, and bridal warehouses.
When you try on gowns, make sure you can stretch your arms, sit, and walk comfortably.
The contract for your order should include the store’s alteration policy and cost, delivery date, and gown details, including color, fabric, and the designer and style number of the dress.
Don’t forget your veil or headpiece, shoes, jewelry, purse, gloves, and lingerie, too.
As for bridesmaid’s dresses, these are becoming less of a burden for the bride-to-be. Bridesmaids still wear the same color gowns, but current trends allow each bridesmaid to choose her style. Tea-length dresses are particularly popular right now as well as two-piece ensembles.
Grooms are also becoming more involved in planning their weddings and choosing their tuxedos or suits. Offer your assistance to your fiancé, but allow him to make the final decision on his attire.
When you register for gifts, don’t forget to take along the groom-to-be. This is now the standard.
If you register in a fine shop, be sure to register at a moderately priced store as well to accommodate all of your guests. Keep out-of-town guests in mind also when choosing where to register.
When the Big Day Arrives
As your wedding day draws near, expect the unexpected, and don’t let surprises upset your day. In all the hustle and bustle, remember the most important part of your wedding isn’t the details of the ceremony or celebration but the commitment you and your fiancé make to each other. Keeping that in mind on your wedding day will ensure you see it as a success whatever bumps you might run into.