Engagements mean weddings and weddings mean planning. Where does a soon-to-be bride begin? There are enough "how to" books on cakes, bouquets, dresses and more to twist prenuptial jitters into a crinoline clump of confusion!
At Here We Are, we'd like to offer a few easy and practical tips for planning a wonderful wedding or event that will help you cut the cake with a smile.
1. Don't send formal "Save the Date" announcements unless the event occurs during a holiday weekend or it is a destination wedding. If you are having an engagement party, announce the date and place during a toast. If you must send a "Save the Date" notice, anything mailed prior to four months is too far removed for most people's busy schedules. This will result in a waste of your time, energy, and money. HINT: An email notice may suffice under two circumstances: only for the most casual of weddings or a destination wedding where the email includes the appropriate links to the locale and travel arrangements. In either case, be sure to set up a "response" email so you know who received it.
2. Do register for gifts at a retailer with an online bridal registry as soon as you become engaged. This is helpful to you because you can easily add, change, or delete items AND it makes purchasing simple for your guests and well-wishers. Remember, retailers make a bundle on couples who add items that they will never use to their initial gift list. Does anyone ever really use a sausage grinder? Be sure to first select those things you truly need, then add a few extras from your wish list. HINT: In this current economic climate, include a number of different things at all price points. You never know what might go on sale making it more affordable for a guest who may be struggling financially.
3. Do take your time choosing the invitations because they set the tone for your entire event. From the style, font, and ink color to the paper stock, it tells your guests what to expect. Order them early in case of a printing error which sometimes occurs even after you've approved a correct proof.
To save money on pricey invites, figure out how many you need and then carefully scrutinize the guest list. Are you only inviting Aunt Babs in Australia out of courtesy knowing she doesn't fly and won't attend? How about your former co-worker who is now a missionary in Africa? Chances are she can't make it.
With this information in mind, check the "break points" of your particular paper supplier. If you must order in batches of 25, but need 77, [for example, 72 for potential attending guest, 2 for mistakes or last minute guest list additions, 1 to save, and 2 for known non-attendees], then order three batches of 25 for a total of 75. Go to your local stationary shop and have two courtesy invitations printed which include the details and an RSVP card (in comparison, this will only cost a few dollars). With expensive invitations, by not ordering the fourth batch of 25 invites you can save hundreds of dollars; plus, you eliminate the need to recycle the wasted 23.
4. Do put a code on the back of each RSVP card. You can use a letter, a number, or the invitee's initials. Be sure to mark each name on the master list with the code. Undoubtedly, you will receive responses that are unsigned. When this happens, just flip it over and you know who it belongs to. This will be very helpful for early seating arrangements and head count.
5. Do personalize the reception hall by using table names instead of the traditional table numbers. Select a topic that means something to you and your fiance. A musician? Name each table after a composer. Travelers? Select European cities. Do you both love to garden? Use flower names. Try to keep it to one name titles, e.g., Bach, Chopin, Paris, London, Astor, Violet, etc.; have them printed and delivered to the reception coordinator along with the final seating chart and guest cards.
6. Do recruit a handful of reliable friends and family members to each complete one task on the day of the event. Keep the task simple but detailed, put it in writing (email is fine), and confirm. For example, cousin Joanne is in charge of removing the alter candle after the ceremony, your friend Alan is to make sure the out of state guests follow him to the reception hall, your siblings are in charge of packing up the wedding gifts at the end of the night, etc. Having these types of tasks covered beforehand will free up your mind when the big day arrives. HINT: Don't be shy, people love to help and be part of the event. This tip is especially important if you don't have a wedding planner.
The most important tip of all - enjoy your day! Do you have a wedding or event planning tip that might help a bride-to-be plan her important day? Share with us ones you successfully used or ones that backfired!