Couples around the world are making the hard decision to delay their wedding date, and I absolutely understand the heartache that comes with such a choice. It’s okay to grieve what’s lost and take time for you, but remember that you’re not alone — lean on your friends, family, and vendors as you begin your journey to plan your new wedding date.
First thing’s first! You want to notify everyone of your decision. Start with your wedding party and family — they’ll be eager to support you and may help you send updates to the rest of your guests. Even if you don’t have a new date chosen, it’s important to notify all of your guests that the original plan has changed. They’ll be relieved to know they can safely celebrate your special day at another time.
Once your guests are set, call your vendors to confirm that your date is changing. Review your contracts to see what their policies are for rescheduling your wedding, then clarify this policy with each vendor. Many are waiving fees for rescheduled dates and want to help you celebrate your dream wedding — just make sure you get any contract updates in writing to keep everyone on the same page. Your wedding planner will be a huge help in this process.
Now that everyone knows the plan is changing, it’s time to get to planning. Decide which vendor is most important to you — this will likely be your venue, so call them first to discuss what dates are available. You may have a tough time getting a Saturday date, but it never hurts to ask! Once you’ve settled on a few options, it’s time to call the rest of your vendors and finalize a date. There’s a chance you won’t be able to keep all of your vendors. In this case, you likely won’t get your deposit back. Keep track of these additional fees and expenses so you can maintain an accurate budget as you plan.
After a lot of phone calls and organizing, you officially have a new wedding date — congratulations! You can send out your new invites and enjoy the coming months knowing that you still get to marry the love of your life, and you have even more time to prepare your perfect wedding.
-By Guest Writer Briana Marvell, for Zola.com. can be a great resource for change-the-date-cards and anything else you need to plan your wedding. You can see their full guide here.
Click below to download the Printable Change the Date Checklist
Click the video to view sample templates. Click below to download them.
Click below to download the "Questions to Ask" checklist.
Today is May 4, 2020. Currently, the Asheville area is under a Stay at Home order that allows only essential business and travel, and restricts gatherings of more than 10 people, even on private property, unless they are all members of the same family. Our Governor, Roy Cooper, is planning to begin to ease these restrictions in three phases over the next three months, as long as our infection rates continue to decline.
What does this mean for events? I have researched state and local government sites, and scanned the blogs of our national event planning organizations, including the Event Safety Alliance, NACE, the Natl Restaurant Association, the Convention Management Association, and others, to come up with an answers. Here is my summary of what the current thinking is nationally:
Phase 1: May. Events still restricted to 10 people or less. Attendees must wash hands, avoid physical contact, stay 6 feet apart, and face coverings highly recommended but not required. Some state, local, and federal parks may reopen. No food or drink service at events. Current restrictions on interstate travel still in effect, with travelers required to self-quarantine for 2 weeks if they have come from out of state or out of the country. Hotels and similar lodging may re-open under strict capacity guidelines. Elevators limited to 1 at a time. Strict sanitization with approved anti-viral products required before, during, and after event.
Phase 2: June. Gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed (in some cases, up to 25% of capacity). Restaurants and venues may reopen, but capacity is limited. Event permits may be required. Tables must be spaced 6 feet apart, with no more than 6 per table, chairs spread out, no bar service, no buffets, and all food and drink must be delivered table side by workers with gloves and masks, so plated or boxed meals are ideal. Use of disposable dishes, flatware, and glassware required. Bottled or canned beverages preferred over open containers. Trash cans must use liners, and be emptied frequently; Step cans preferred. Linens must be laundered in hot water after every event, and all surfaces, including chairs, cleaned. Workers must stay 6 feet apart in the kitchen and prep areas. Keep staff/guest contact to a minimum, e.g., once to deliver food to table, once to replenish, and once to bus, after guests have left. Elevators may carry up to 2 people. Ubers, limos, shuttles and buses must limit the number of riders. Guests should enter and exit events through different doors, or in phases. The same with suppliers, and vendors. Guest books, photo booths, bars, self-serve drink stations, and other activity stations where people might line up are discouraged, unless a line management system that keeps people 6 feet apart is used. A check-in station is strongly encouraged, with guests signing their name and contact information in case later tracing is needed. (Possibly: Have guests answer a few screening questions, and turn those away who are sick or who have travelled from a hot spot. Temperature checks optional for guests, but not for staff.) Have hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and masks for guests who want them. For ceremonies, participants should walk single-file. All venues and vendors involved with the event are encouraged to have general liability insurance in case of an outbreak traced to the event. (Some companies are dropping coverage for pandemics; read your policy carefully and shop around.) Hosts should likewise have event insurance that covers an outbreak.
Phase 3: July. Gatherings of up to 50 people (or 50% of capacity) allowed, with the same restrictions as before. Special event permits may be required, not just for alcohol. Bars may reopen, but there should be more servers per guest (currently, one bartender per 50 people is recommended), no lines at the bar, strict cleanliness must be adhered to, servers must wear gloves, and bottled or canned drinks preferred over open containers. Self-service food or drinks still discouraged. Elevators may carry up to 4 people. More people allowed in buses and shuttles. Staff and vendor safety training mandated. With Covid-19 still active, hand washing, hand sanitizer, no physical contact, and social distancing still required. Salons may re-open. Air BnB/VRBO's may reopen. Hotels can take more guests. Fewer restrictions on interstate travel, except for those traveling from hot spots. International travel still discouraged.
Phase 4 (August - December) Gatherings of up to 100 people allowed, with same restrictions as in the first 3 phases. Hotels, restaurants and bars may go up to 75% capacity. Local authorities may require inspections or more conditions to issue permits for events, especially assurance that the venue is adhering to strict sanitation protocols. Reusable china, flatware and glassware may be used again, but MUST be run through a sanitizing dishwashing machine. Travel and lodging restrictions eased.
Phase 4 restrictions may be extended up to 2 years if there if the percentage of new infections does not decline sufficiently. A surge in the percent of new cases may trigger a return to an earlier phase.
Phase 5: The Future. (These is conjecture based on my research.) 100% capacity returns, but the concept of capacity changes. Safety inspections may move from the Fire Marshal's office to a new authority, who will determine capcacity based not only on safety in case of emergency, but also on preventing transmission of infectious diseases. Possibly, staff, vendors, and attendees must provide proof that they are Covid-19 free (based on an antibody test.) OSHA requires safety and health training for anyone who comes into contact with the public. Stricter Serv-Safe standards, and new standards for bartenders. Suppliers offer more anti-microbial products. Increased emphasis on healthy indoor air, with new types of filters for HVAC systems, humidity controls, and increased fresh air intake. Businesses closed on Sunday for Deep Clean Day. A number of lawsuits related to the Coranavirus Outbreak and the management of it surface. Supreme Court determines whether or not a pandemic is a fource majeure event or not. As a result, changes in event insurance and general liability occur. Vendors require clients to turn in head counts earlier, so they can assure numbers match what has been approved. Smaller events strongly encouraged, with discounts for weekday events and events under 50 people. Outdoor venues and those with lots of windows become even more popular. Stricter rules on tented events, with sides discouraged. Inspection may be required for tents. Handshakes, fist-bumps, kissing, hugs, and high-fives go the way of the dinosaurs :(
Please comment if you are aware of additional rules that are coming down the pipeline!
Some tips from our friends at Limos Charlotte, serving the Asheville and Charlotte areas. For more information, head over to www.limoscharlotte.com or call them at (704) 981-6704.
Are you planning a wedding? Hiring the right vendors is half the battle! Remember, transportation plays a huge role in events like weddings, whether you're looking to carry your wedding party or as a shuttle for guests. The timeliness and professionalism of your tranportation provider is more important than you think. Here are some pointers to reference when you're looking for the best wedding transportation.
It's vital to choose a company with experience. This means they have been to your destination in the past, know the route, and any other stops along the way like good wedding picture locations. You want to have the most efficient company at your wedding, and one that doesn't have to figure out where to park the bus, or turn around, or when to pick you up. Make sure to ask about their experience with your venue during your initial phone call or meeting to ensure you're making the best decision. And it never hurts to ask about the individual driver’s experience, and how they are vetted - whether through background checks and/or drug testing.
Another smart move is to plan on reserving a bigger vehicle than what you think you will need. We say this because transportation providers don't set the sizing capacities for vehicles; departments of transportation are responsible for that. The thing is, they only consider one seat to be around fourteen inches! Often times, adults take up much more space than this, especially if they are wearing dresses with fully-lined skirts. It's also a good idea to leave space for your photographer or videographer as well, because there are a lot of moments to be captured while en route to the wedding destination.
Whatever you do, make sure that you totally understand the contents of the contract that you will sign when you've locked down your transportation vendor. Each contract will vary from one company to the next. Is alcohol allowed? What happens if people are running late – at what point will you be charged overtime? Is the number of people final, or can you squeeze in a few more at the last minute? If the drivers are working all night, do they require meals? It's also good to be informed about what they consider to be damage so that you're on the same page!
Also make sure you are clear on the pricing. While one company might advertise a price that includes everything, another may say that they do, but add in fees for regular things like gas and mileage. And don’t forget your drivers. Some companies require a driver tip; for others it is optional. Either way, it is customary in this area to make sure they get at least 20% for their hard work. To make it easier, put the tip in cash in an envelope and give to your day of coordinator to hand out at the end of their run.
Keeping this information in mind will lead you to the best transportation solution for your wedding, and a seamless experience for your guests. And, lastly, remember to slow down and enjoy the process yourself!
Our summer intern, Joesci McIntosh, a student at UNC-Greensboro in their Community, Recreation, and Special Events Department, was an active participant in over a dozen weddings, and in the planning of many more. We asked her to evaluate these events and to summarize her observations as someone new to the business.
Yay, you’re engaged! What an amazing and exciting time for you. But first, you have to plan everything and prepare for this magical day. First things first, HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER!!! Yes, finding a dress and a venue are important, but having a planner is absolutely vital. The planner stays on you and makes sure you’re meeting deadlines and staying on track of the timeline of things to get done before your big day. Planners can also help direct you to the best vendors based on your style and budget. Planners are the ones who makes sure everything is in place and take an enormous amount of stress away during the planning and during the actual event. It’s always better to hire a professional planner who knows the business instead of getting a friend or family member to do it, when they should be enjoying your celebration with you.
My second tip to you new brides is something you need to remember throughout the whole planning process: IT IS YOUR DAY!!! It is about what YOU and YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER want, not about anyone else at all!! I’ve seen a few brides who say “I don’t want this but my mom does” or “I really don’t want to have green as my color but my sister says it’ll look best.” Don’t ever get in this situation because it’s your day, it’s your memories you’re creating and will have to look back on. In addition to that, don’t let anyone knock your dream or vision. If you have ideas, be outspoken about them. If you and your honey love an idea and your soon-to-be mother-in-law frowns upon it, or thinks it won’t turn out nice, thank her kindkly for her input, then forge ahead, because she doesn’t know (unless she is a wedding planner) and no one can know until you try it. Get ideas and suggestions, but let it be known that ultimately it’s not about the wants of anyone but the bride and groom. Just confirming this alone can take off a lot of stress you may have had about trying to please everyone.
My third piece of advice is to continually communicate with your vendors. Also, make sure you try to meet them in person and have several conversations with them before booking them as your vendor to ensure they fit your event and that they will be a quality vendor. Not having a quality vendor, whether it be in their attitude or the delivery o their services, can greatly impact the flow of your event. Make sure the vendors know what you want and how you want things to look. Don’t just tell the florist your colors and leave it at that -- tell him or her about the flowers you like, and be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell the DJ you want your first dance to be Stand by Me by Ben E. King, tell them the version you like best, how long you want to dance to it, and where you want the song to end. Try your best not to leave anything up to interpretation or to be assumed. You want to make sure your day is how you want it and you can’t be mad at a vendor when something doesn’t go how you thought it would because you didn’t tell them. Having a planner will help with this because if your planner is a good one, he/she will lead you to ask the right questions, and will follow up with the vendors themselves. In addition, make sure that you communicate ANY changes, big or small, to your planner. This way you will be on the same page and he/she can notify the other vendors of the changes.
Number four, make sure you read over the timelines given to you by your planner. The timeline is like your wedding day bible. You need to know it like the back of your hand so that you know what’s going on and how long it should be going on for. The timeline helps you to understand the flow of your event. It is something your planner puts together and sends over to you for approval. If you don’t even take a look at it or think it’s too much to read, you won't know what to expect on your wedding day. On the other hand, make sure not to fret about time too much because the timeline is just an idea of how long you should take on certain task, but it is okay if you get a little off track. If your planner put it together correctly, he/she will build in extra time for things like bathroom breaks, traffic, and other potential delays.
Finally, my last piece of advice to all the soon-to-be wives is that this is one of the greatest days of your life. You can either look back on this day and say it was nice but I was so mad the napkins weren’t folded nicely, or you can look back and say everything was so beautiful and know you truly enjoyed your love day. My point in saying this is that during the planning process you focus on the details and every aspect of your event you can. However, the day of your wedding is about looking at the big picture and not focusing on little things or worrying over things you can’t control. The day of your event you are supposed to enjoy every moment of it and take in all the love, laughs, and good vibes of the day because it is just one day and it is going to come and go. Not only do you want to be relaxed and enjoy your event, but you want to ensure that you actually get to spend time with your friends, family, and guests, and most especially, your new husband. Plan a "sneak-away" time for a private moment where you and your new hubby can just talk, laugh, and share the bliss of your love day. A lot of time weddings can be so eventful, that you barely get time to soak it all in. Plan some time to "breathe." This day will be the day you feel the most love, so take all of that in, forget all your worries, and just enjoy.
All in all, my advice from seeing over a dozen weddings take place, is to have fun and enjoy every moment of the celebration. Pay attention to details during the planning and make sure you’re reaching the vision of your event. But once the planning is done, step back. This is a big moment in your life and an even bigger one for you and your love as you begin your life. Love those around you, laugh as much as you can, and create memories that are worth remembering.
It just happens that one of our coordinators was a wedding planning advice columnist in Alaska in a past life. Really! She was kind enough to share some of her past columns with our readers. Please feel free to comment or tweet your questions so Miss Ellie and Miss Sam can help you, too!
Do we really need to feed our photographer and DJ at the reception?
Although they may not be guests, the people you have contracted to work at your wedding are performing a job during a time they would normally eat. You certainly don’t have to, but it’s a nice gesture, and would almost certainly promote better service from them. However read the fine print, as many wedding professionals have the provision that they must be fed written into their contract, so be prepared. If you still can’t stomach the idea of offering a $50+ plate of food to your DJ, coordinate a less expensive meal for them with your caterer. But under no circumstances are you obliged to offer them free alcoholic drinks. After all they’re on the clock, working for you. And nobody likes a drunken DJ, anyway.
How do I graciously decline the “donated” help of extended family members? I have one family member who likes to do amateur flower arranging as a hobby and wants to do my wedding flowers. I don’t want amateur flowers but I don’t want to hurt her feelings either.
It’s always difficult to tactfully turn down help, especially when you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. My suggestion is to thank them profusely, but say you and your fiancé have already contracted with a similar vendor based on your needs and budget. Ask if you can count on them to help you select the flowers at your local professional florist. This will make them feel appreciated without ever knowing your true feelings.
We plan to have an open bar at our wedding reception. Can we be held responsible if someone drives home drunk and has an accident?
You are off the hook. In Alaska, the person who is serving the drinks is liable for any situation that results in a drunk driving accident. Keep in mind that this scenario is rare because all servers and bartenders are required to pass an exam that teaches them the signs of inebriation and have been instructed on what to do if someone is getting intoxicated. Worth mentioning is the fact that some facilities offer free cab rides home in severe circumstances because it’s in their best interest to make sure that nothing happens to you or your guests. If these thoughts still keep you up at night, another alternative would be to provide your guests with a few bottles of wine on the table. It’s enough to celebrate the moment, but not enough for things to go south.
My bridesmaids are all different sizes and have very different opinions about dress styles. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make everyone happy?
So many brides think they have to dress their maids in the same dress, and with everyone having different body types, you will inevitably have one or two crying in their pillow at night or cursing you under their breath. One option is to take all your maids shopping at the same time and hope they all agree on the same style. If that doesn’t work, another solution is to go to a fabric store and select material that you absolutely love. Then send each maid five yards and instruct them to find a dress pattern they like that is appropriate for your ceremony (casual, formal or somewhere in-between). Once found, have them take it to a reputable seamstress. In the end the cost should be around the same as if you bought it off the rack (or possibly even less) and your girls will feel beautiful in a dress that’s flattering to them. It’s a win – win.
Do I really need a wedding planner? My mother says yes, but I have friends who say they can help. Who do I listen to?
Listen to your mother, especially if she’s offering to pay for one. Wedding planers are worth their weight in gold, whether you hire one from the very beginning or just for the day of your wedding. They can alleviate many decorating and logistic issues that need handling, take all the calls the day of the wedding and think of things you haven’t. If you choose a friend to help you with the details, they may not be able to enjoy the wedding due to all the responsibilities heaped upon them or, worse, may not live up to your expectations.
My fiancé wants to have an open bar at our reception and I think it’s too expensive. Is there a way to estimate how much it will cost?
Industry standard dictates that on average, guests will drink two drinks the first hour and one drink every hour after. So if you invited 100 guests and 80 percent drank, you would spend around $2,000 in alcohol alone. Also don’t forget: With hosted bars, there is usually an automatic 20-percent service charge with every drink poured. If a hosted bar is too scary of an idea, another option would be to purchase a set amount of beer or wine, and when it runs out, guests would start paying for their own drinks. Having a semi-hosted bar would ensure there wouldn’t be any bar tab surprises.
My fiancé and I come from two different spiritual belief systems. What kind of service should we have?
It’s always difficult to blend two cultures together and keep two families happy. Especially if they are polar opposites. The best plan is to sit down with your partner and talk about what is most important to each of you. Then try to combine what’s important in the ceremony. Another option is two ceremonies. This is often done to satisfy the families more than the couple but can help to keep the peace.
Recorded at the Wedding Festival on Saturday, February 4 at the US Cellular Center in Asheville.
Hello I'm Eleanor Campbell with Events for You. I’ve been a wedding planner in Asheville for over 23 years. I've worked most of the venues in the area and have encountered all kinds of situations, good and bad, and worked with every type of wedding from a small budget to a large budget. I am here to answer your questions – anything to do with weddings. No question is too dumb! Who’s got a question for me??
Q: Where do I start?
Answer: Great question! The first thing to start with is the venue, because a lot of venues book up quickly. Asheville is a very popular destination for weddings right now, and certain times of the year – spring and fall – are also very popular. So, first look at venues. There are some great ones here today. Then take a look at your budget. Now, both of these require knowing how many people are coming. So, next, work on your guest list. Once you know how many people, and how much you have to spend, that will help you narrow down the venue.
Q. Speaking of budget, how do I set a budget? What is a reasonable budget?
A. Another great question! I’ve worked with budgets anywhere from 5000 to 25,000. In this area, I'd say the average is about 10-15,000. Can you do a wedding for 100 bucks? Maybe. Can you do it for thousand? Yes! How can you do that? Get married at a church and have a small reception in the reception hall with cake and punch and that’s it. It goes up from there as you add more things. So how do you create a budget? Look at what you and your fiancé want to spend -- how much cash do you have? Do you want to take out a credit card or a loan to add to that? No? Then talk to both sets of parents -- see what they're willing to contribute. Grandparents, maybe? After that, that's your budget. Budget still tight? The best way to stay within that budget is to limit the size of your guest list.
Q. I have a niece who is nine years old -- should she be a flower girl or is she a junior bridesmaid? What is the age cut off?
A. Generally flower girls are ages 4 to 8 and junior bridesmaids 8-14, so she's right in the middle. A lot of it depends on her age and maturity level. So if she is a shy nine-year-old she might do better as a junior bridesmaid -- that way she's just walking in the line with the other girls. If she is a real ham and loves to be the center of attention -- flower girl. (Speaking of which, she might steal the show from you – so think about if that would bother you beforehand!) The flower girl’s job is to spread flower petals for the bride to walk on. No need to make it too complicated. Anyone over six, you can ask them if they would like to be a flower girl or a bridesmaid and they can probably tell you. If they say yes, great, go with it. But if they say no, you've got to accept their answer -- bugging them about it every time you see them or having their mom force them to do it just because you think you have to have a ring bearer never works. Lots of tears. What are ring bearers anyway? Why do we have ring bearers? You know, in the old days, it was a custom to have little boys carry the train of the bride. They walked behind her, carrying her train. They were “train bearers”. As trains got shorter, they came up with the idea of having them carry the rings. I don't know how many of you would trust your five year old nephew with your wedding rings, right? [Laughter] So the ring bearer thing is kind of going away. What I see more now is a young man carrying a sign that says “here comes the bride” -- again – no need to make it too complicated. What about doggy ringbearers? Anyone thinking of having their dog as a ringbearer? [show of hands] That is a great idea, too. Just remember, with dogs, as with young children, they are a little hard to control – so they may get to that date and they may not want to walk down the aisle. Always have a backup plan -- whether it’s their mom or a bridesmaid or a groomsman stepping in to take their hand.
OK next question
Q. Someone asked about day of coordinators. What do day of coordinators do?
A. In the old days we were called wedding planners. That was the first person you called after you got engaged. They would guide you through the process of selecting vendors and venues and flowers et cetera, et cetera. In the ‘80s, people like Martha Stewart starting putting out books and magazines about wedding planning, and then came the internet, so most people now have all the tools and resources they needed to plan their own weddings. Thanks, Martha, you just about put us out of business! [laughter] So, you may not need a planner anymore, but you still need someone to help you that day. Because the venue is only focused on their part of things, the caterer is only focused on the food, the photographer only cares about the photos, et cetera, et cetera, so who is looking out for you? Because, after all, that day you should be off getting ready and hanging with your friends -- it's really hard for you to do your own set up and make up at the same time! And it's really not fair to ask your mom or your aunt to do it, because they need to get ready for the wedding, too. A day of coordinator is concerned with making sure things go right -- making sure your vendors get set up in the right place, making sure your decorations get put in the right place, making sure the first dance and cake cutting happen at the right time. The day-of takes your place that day and directs things and keep things running smoothly. A lot of the venues are now requiring a day of coordinator. Because people are bringing in more decorations and games and corn hole and giant guestbook boards et cetera et cetera, and that is way more than their staff can set up and still get all their stuff set up. The day of coordinator also handles any emergencies, and I can tell you that comes up a lot! Your Aunt Betty may be a great organizer, but can she handle it if the flowers don't show up -- can she run to the grocery store and makes some quickie flower arrangements for you? What if the musicians get lost? Does she have a violinist on speed dial? There’s all kinds of things that come up. What if the heat or air conditioning goes out at the venue? That's not something you want to be worrying about when you're out there dancing!
Q. What does a day of Coordinator cost?
A. You know, the price varies depending on how many hours they're going to be there and how big your wedding is. If you’re having a big wedding, they're going to need more than one person there. It also depends whether they do any planning with you ahead of time. I would say in this town it's anywhere from $500-$1500.
Q. Do we need wedding insurance?
A. That's a great question. Wedding insurance is a little bit different from your car or renters insurance. That’s insuring property if something bad happens. But wedding insurance is insuring you if something bad happens. But that is a good place to start. Ask your current agent, or have your parents ask theirs if they are throwing the wedding, are we covered if something happens? What if there’s an accident at the wedding or after the wedding because of alcohol? Now, wedding insurance covers that and more - We had a situation recently where a very popular wedding venue burned down – we got those clients relocated, but we still don't know if they're going to get their deposits back – so wedding insurance covers things like that. You lose your rings, your little sister plays dress up in the mud in your wedding dress, there’s a hurricane in Florida and your honeymoon city gets evacuated…It's very easy to get online. It costs between 100 and 200 dollars and it's well worth it.
Q. We’re doing our own food and bar and the venue says we need a licensed bartender, where do I find one?
A. Yes, even if they didn’t require it, you need a professional bartender for the same reasons we talked about with insurance. What if something happens? There's not really a bartending license but there are tests they can take that show that they know the alcohol laws. You want someone with experience. You really don't want to put your friend in a situation of having to tell someone that they've had too much to drink. But what you really do want to do is protect yourself. We’ve had situations where someone was overserved at a wedding and later had an accident -- the hosts are getting sued, the couple is getting sued, the caterer is getting sued -- so you really don't want to put yourself in that situation. Look for an event staffing service – there are a couple here – or a mobile bartending service. Perfect Mix Mobile Bartending is here at the show – go see Dave over there and ask him about it. Professional bartenders can also tell you how many bartenders to have, help you figure out how much alcohol to order, help you create some really cool signature cocktails – all kinds of things. They can make the party fun while still keeping things safe.
So I think that is about all the time we have for now, Please feel free to come by and see me in booth 303, Events for You, if you have any more questions. And enjoy the rest of the show!
If you are on a budget and need to save some money, here are five things you can do without, no matter what the magazines, websites and/or your Aunt say.
1. Save the dates - Just send an email, create an FB page, tweet an engagement photo, or Instagram a photo of a mock save the date. You don't need to mail out a fancy piece of paper to tell people you're getting hitched in this day of social media. Save it for the invitations.
2. Favors - Favors have been done to death. Most of your guests have loads of these trinkets by now. And if they are traveling, they may not have a way to get them home. Even the "donation in lieu of" misses the point. You've given them a lovely evening and a great meal; you don't need to give them anything else. The point of a favor is to thank each guest for coming. Be sure to take the time to thank each guest in person at the event, and again in your thank you notes.
3. Fancy shoes. Except for that one photo in your album, no one is going to see your shoes. You'll probably want to kick them off when the dancing starts anyway. And by the end of the night they're usually trashed. Buy the plain white satin ones from Payless -- and save yourself a couple hundred $$. (p.s. The same might be said for veils.)
4. Appetizers. I've seen people spend so much on food before dinner, that no one is hungry at dinner. Still, you do need to provide some nibbles, especially if people are drinking. Don't be afraid to stick with the old fruit and cheese tray, and some pretzels, popcorn, or nuts. You might ask the caterer if you can pick these up at Sam's to save some $$ and put a little extra into dinner itself.
5. Pew markers. These are the flowers, bows, or lanterns that line your ceremony aisle. They provide a brief wow as your guests arrive, make an appearance in a couple of photos, and 30 minutes later they're gone. You might think they're worth it because you'll reuse them at the reception. But, honestly, by the time the guests have left and your coordinator has packed them up and moved them, the guests are already at the reception. (And moving those hot candles can be perilous). Better to spend a little more on reception flowers and keep the ceremony decor as simple as possible.
Thanks for reading. If you have some other good "do withouts", post a comment so I can share it with other brides on a budget.
So many brides today are opting to DIY (Do-It-Yourself) at least part of their wedding -- whether it's flowers, decorations, favors, or accessories. And there are so many great ideas out there! Check any wedding magazine, website, blog, or Pinterest. It all looks soooo easy! And I’m all for it. It lends a true, personal touch to your event, and it can be a fun project for you and your fiancé or friends to bond over. Might even save a little money. But as the person who usually ends up setting up these DIY creations, let me share a few words of advice.
Keep it Minimal Every bride starts off saying, “We're going to keep it simple.” Nine months later, they’ve got 20 things to set up on each and every table. Consider that it takes 3 to 5 minutes to set each element. So for table runner, centerpiece, and candles, that's 12 to 15 minutes per table. If you've got 20 tables, that's going to take a while. Once you’ve found a great idea, check the wedding boards on The Knot or search wedding blogs to see if someone else has done it and read their advice. Send a message to that Pinterest user to get more information. Email the product seller and get specifics about equipment required and set up instructions. Just remember, that the more you add, the more help will be required.
Keep it Light Heavy accessories like glass jars, wood discs, stones, and corn hole games are hard to transport, set up, and pack up. Consider how you're going to move these things in and out. They also require more time to set up. Make sure the venue has hand carts, and that they will allow you extra time to load in and out. If they will let you bring the heavy stuff ahead of time, even better. And if you are depending on someone who is in the wedding to do this, they are going to need time to go home and shower after. It’s hard to look you best after moving 150 bricks! Hiring some extra labor works best.
Keep It Low If you plan to make and hang banners, garlands, lanterns, or lights, be warned that these are major installations that take a lot of extra time. First, check with your venue before ordering. I can't tell you how many times brides have come with bunches of hanging items only to find that staple guns or nails are not allowed. Or there are no ladders, scissors, or hammers to be found. Perhaps the desired effect could be accomplished with something easier -- just one cluster of lanterns hung from a center chandelier, or canned lights that are easily plugged into a wall to project light or color onto the ceiling. This is one area where a rental or décor company might be the best – and safest option. Hungover groomsmen on ladders=bad idea.
DIY Flowers You went to the florist and returned with a bit of sticker shock. So you decided to do the flowers yourself. After all, there are fresh flowers available in the grocery store, the farmer’s market, even online. How hard could it be? Well, it’s not hard, if you have time. And space to work. And tools to work with. It’s not as simple as just plopping some flowers in a mason jar. The flowers need to be sorted, cut, and arranged in a pleasing way. I’ve found that it takes 15-20 minutes to do one arrangement. Bouquets and boutonnieres take even longer. Flowers are perishable, so you can’t do them too far ahead. And sometimes the beautiful pink roses you saw at Sam’s in January just aren’t there in July. (BTW, the quality of grocery store flowers is also undependable.) Then there’s the cleanup. Who is going to remove all the water, vases, and flowers at the end of the night? That being said, it can be fun to have a flower arranging party with your girls the day before the wedding. Western North Carolina is blessed with some great cut-your-own flower farms. But if Aunt Betsy has planned a bridal shower for Friday, you may not have time to do both. You definitely won’t have time day of. Does it really save money? Well, to be honest with you, by the time you order all the supplies (at full retail price), DIY flower projects can be costly. So be sure you are taking this on because you love, love, love the idea, and not just to save money. And consider using a florist for at least part of the décor, and DIY the rest. Most are happy to compromise.
Free Favors or Favor Free? The whole favor thing is sometimes blown out of proportion. Remember, a favor is simply a small token of thanks to the guest for coming to your wedding. It does not have to be big, or practical, or useful. It's no thanks to require your guest to carry some heavy jar, plant, or, God forbid, fish, home with them. If you must create this type or favor, don’t make one for every guest. Wedding guests are favored out – many just won’t take them. It’s better to make simple favors, like a fabric square filled with candy, or a chocolate bar with a personalized wrapper. The time and money spent to create and set up 100 favors might be better spent on décor. Just be sure to thank your guests in person at the event, and in your thank you notes.
The Y in DIY Remember that on the day of the wedding you will be busy getting ready, getting your hair done, getting dressed, getting photos, and, hopefully, getting to hang out with your friends and family. You cannot be the You in Do-it-Yourself on the big day. Relying on family or friends to do it is not fair to them, either. You'll need a day of coordinator or a team of hired hands to do it for you.
One Last Piece of Advice My friend Beth Stickle, florist and owner of Bloomin’ Art, tells a funny story about DIY from her own wedding. She and her fiancé decided to save some money on rental costs by picking up and setting up the ceremony chairs themselves. Because they would not have time to do this the day of the wedding, they asked their friends to stay after the rehearsal to help. So they set up the folding chairs in a lovely spot by a lake and took off. Next morning they returned to find a flock of geese had enjoyed the new “roosts” overnight. And the friends? Too hung over to make it to the early morning set up session. “So instead of spending my morning decorating for my wedding and getting dressed, I spent it cleaning goose sh** off 200 chairs. Not pretty.” Something to think about!
One of the first things a bride must choose is a wedding dress…store. Wedding dress shopping is different than regular dress shopping. First of all, most wedding dress stores are specialty stores selling only formal wear, although many department stores and places like J. Crew do have bridal departments. Unlike dress shops, bridal stores often show samples, and they are not ready-to-wear. So don’t expect to find the dress you like, in the color and size you like, in stock. It will usually have to be ordered, and that can take up to 4-6 months. Therefore, you are trying on for style and look rather than fit. Find a place that has a variety of styles and brands to choose from. Then there is the price. This is a major purchase – wedding dresses can cost up to $4,000, with an average price of $1000 – so you want to buy from someone you can trust. (No wonder they are called gowns instead of dresses!) Finally, trying on wedding dresses can be a strenuous process – some of these things weigh up to 50 lbs -- so you need time and a place that is comfortable to try them on. For a preview of an ideal wedding dress shopping experience, I highly recommend watching a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. This reality series, which airs on TLC, (with back episodes on Amazon), shows real brides and an entourage of family and friends, as they seek to find the perfect wedding dress. For a more Southern style, watch the Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta version. The show’s website features a lot of videos from the show, as well a ton of helpful advice about choosing a dress.
What are some other factors in choosing a wedding dress store?
Since your dress will most likely need to be altered after it arrives, choose a store where the seamstresses or fitters, rather than the salespeople, get good reviews.
The types of stores range from small, locally-owned salons, to thrift shops, to giant chain stores like David’s. Think about where you are most comfortable shopping in general – the mall, a local mom and pop, or online – and start there.
Think about the kind of atmosphere you are comfortable in. Some stores are true salons, with carpet and plush seating; some are more like warehouses. The warehouse might be cheaper. Do you mind crowds and cold floors if you are getting a good deal?
Don’t feel like you have to make a trip to the big city to visit marquee stores like Kleinfelds, Vera Wang, or Filene’s Basement. Many local stores can order the same gowns. On the other hand, if you are in the South, both Charlotte and Atlanta have an abundance of stores to visit, including some of the big names.
Don’t wait until you lose a few pounds to find a store and start trying on dresses. Even though you see it on the show all the time, you cannot wait until the month before! It takes time to get your gown in, and it may need to be altered not once, but several times, and that takes time, too. A talented seamstress can handle any changes in weight, or size, that may need to be made, later.
Wherever you shop, do call ahead to make an appointment, and allow a couple of hours at each store. Don’t try to hit several stores in one day. The same is true if you are shopping online. It takes time to click through hundreds of styles, figure out what size you need, and place your order, so don’t think it’s something you can get done on your lunch break.
More dress advice in a future column…
For more information:
You, too, can shop at the store featured on Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta. Bridals by Lori is located off I-285 in Atlanta. Phone: 404.252.8767. Web http://bridalsbylori.com. Appts are highly recommended. They are closed on Wednesdays.
Want to be on a Say Yes to the Dress Show??
Q: Everyone says I need an emergency kit for the day of the wedding. But what really needs to go in it?
A: We always bring a stocked emergency kit to weddings we coordinate. We also bring a tool kit. But if your day of coordinator or venue does not provide one, here’s what you really need.
A wedding emergency kit could include any number of things, but focus on things that you, the bride, might need to get ready. Think makeup, hairspray, deodorant, body powder, rollers, hairpins, curling iron, shaving cream and razor, snack, mints, water, and your pain reliever of choice. For getting dressed, an iron (emptied of water-don’t want to drip on the dress), safety pins, body tape (prevents wardrobe malfunctions), strapless bra tape, moleskin or Band-Aids (in case of loose shoes or blisters), and scissors.
Another type of emergency kit is the one that you carry with you that day, in your purse. But since you probably don't want to carry a purse all day, these are things that you put in a little bag to give to your maid of honor or your wedding coordinator to hold for you. Things I would include in your personal emergency kit are: lipstick and powder for quick makeup touchups (you’ll be surprised how shiny you get and how faded your lipstick gets during the day), tissues or a pretty hanky (those are tears of joy, I’m sure), mints, maybe even a mini toothbrush and toothpaste (it's a long night). I like to include a shout wipe for quick stain removal, an emory board, and a piece of white chalk that can also be used to cover stains on shoes.
(In some parts of the country, brides need to carry a purse to accept monetary gifts directly from the guests. That’s pretty uncommon in the South. Most guests will put their cash or checks in a card and leave on the gift table.)
Another type of emergency is the honeymoon kit. Remember that everything you need for your honeymoon – clothes, make-up etc. -- needs to be packed and ready to go at the end of the day. You may not have time to go back to the dressing room or hotel that night, so either pack that the day before and just drop in the makeup that you need, or have a duplicate set. If the honeymoon bag is packed and ready to go, someone can just grab it and throw it in the getaway vehicle and you are on your way.
As for everyone else, I think it’s sweet when the bride gives the groom a handkerchief monogrammed with their new initials to carry that day. That’s also a nice gift for moms and mothers in law. Tins of mints with your initials are also readily available from places like Oriental Trading, and are fun to share with the rest of the wedding party. They might appreciate some snacks, too. But you don’t have to get fancy with that. Granola bars and bottles of water will suffice.
Other than that, all you really need is a smile! Because no matter what happens -- if things don't go exactly as planned, if you forget something, or if there is an actual emergency -- your smile will let everyone know that it's all okay.
Miss Ellie is the perfectly proper wedding planner to whom we all turn for wedding planning advice. To ask a question, just click the email button at the top of the page, or leave a comment and she will respond.