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Pointers from a… Wedding Planner

Susie Weiss, founder and owner of Wonderful Weddings, has been planning Central Florida weddings for 21 years. Here she shares her top 10 tips with brides.

PREPARE A BUDGET

If you head out the door with an armful of bridal magazines and printouts from websites but no idea about your budget, you will be in for a lot of headaches and disappointments. Make a list of the components of the wedding, prioritize what is most and least important  and put them to paper. Be realistic. Find out costs and fees of the sites and vendors you would like to consider, and make sure that they fit your budget before you set appointments—no point in wasting your time, or anyone else’s, if there isn’t a fiscal fit!

STREAMLINE YOUR GUEST LIST

Give serious thought to each person you and your spouse-to-be are considering as a wedding guest. I often suggest, particularly when budget or space is an issue, that couples only invite those they would also invite to their homes for dinner. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, and in the cases of bosses and old friends of the family it isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s a helpful guideline.

CURB YOUR ENTOURAGE

When shopping for your wedding gown, limit the number of people you take with you. A close friend and your mother are all you need to advise you and offer critiques as you try on gowns. Any more than that and you may find yourself overwhelmed with opinions and trying to please everyone but yourself.

ENGAGE THE IN-LAWS

Forging a good relationship with your in-laws is an important step for a happy marriage. One way to build good will is to include your future mother-in-law in some small process of the wedding plans. You will be amazed how much mileage you will get from doing this.

GIVE WEDDING PARTY CAREFUL CONSIDERATION

Give careful thought to choosing your wedding party because the expenses and other demands could be hardships on some of your friends and family members. A friend who has small children, for example, may find it difficult to juggle the responsibilities of being a bridesmaid while looking after her kids. The financial obligations of being in the wedding party—costs that can include airline tickets, hotel stays, clothing, and hair and makeup—should be taken into consideration, too. And keep in mind that you don’t have to have the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

TELL BAND OR DJ YOUR MUSIC PREFERENCES

When selecting a band or DJ it is obviously a good idea to indicate songs that you DO NOT want played as well as favorites you definitely want to be played. But don’t involve yourself too much in programming the play list for the entire evening. The professionals in the wedding music business know what it takes to make a party work and to keep the momentum going.

SCHEDULE YOUR WEDDING DAY

Create a detailed schedule of your wedding day to help ensure a smooth sequence of events. Include on your schedule such items as start times of beauty appointments, delivery and set-up times of all vendor services, names of people tasked with seating the grandmothers and mothers, and names of people giving welcome speeches, toasts and blessings. The schedule should also include such typical reception activities as first dances, cake cutting, bouquet- and garter-tosses, fraternity or sorority involvement, ethnic customs and departure activities. In addition, put together a photography schedule that you can distribute at the rehearsal to those involved in the pre- and post-ceremony photos. This will ensure that the participants are where they are supposed to be and when, and that the photographer will capture every important photo that you desire.

APPOINT A POINT PERSON

The last thing you want to be on your wedding day is the person in charge! So select someone in your group to be the point person at the reception. Provide him or her with a copy of the schedule with the order of events and who is involved (the best man, the band, etc.) in each. Think about choosing someone who doesn’t drink.

ITEMIZE THE KEEPSAKE ITEMS

Make a list of all the items that you want returned after the wedding and ask a responsible friend to be in charge of rounding up everything on the list. Be sure to list all the keepsakes that a wedding generates (programs, toasting goblets, the cake-top ornament and serving knife, etc.) as well as any items you provided, such as framed photos. In some cases, you can also take leftover food and liquor. This is not a job for mom or dad, by the way.

SAY THANK YOU!

Write those thank-you notes as you receive gifts. If you wait until after you get back from your honeymoon it will be a monumental task! It is also a thoughtful gesture to communicate with your site and wedding vendors to let them know you were pleased with their services.

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