Category: Wedding Tips

Planning your wedding

Planning Your Wedding in Annapolis

Planning a wedding means paying attention to all of the details, keeping a list and checking it twice. There are big decisions like choosing a venue, where your honeymoon will be, and who to invite. There are countless little things like what you’ll wear, your invitations, and how to get your dress just to fit just right. No matter the outcome, your day should be amazing and everything you’ve ever wanted. Here at the Annapolis Towne Centre, we have everything you need for decisions big and small. From choosing your wedding bands and dress to a complete registry experience and unique invitations there is a tenant at the Towne Centre ready to meet your needs!

Wren Bridal

Choosing a wedding dress is an experience that every little girl dreams about. It’s a different experience for each person, and at Wren Bridal, they are sure of it. After all, their motto is, “A tailor-made experience for the thoughtful bride”. Shopping at Wren Bridal at the Annapolis Towne Centre is more than just trying on dresses- there you can sip on champagne, tea, or coffee and other refreshments. It turns into an experience you will never forget. Best friends Erica and Christina handpick styles from all around the country, but always with the Annapolis bride in mind. Most of the dresses at Wren range from $1,600-$3,000 with options for price-points above and below both numbers. By appointment only. While Wren Bridal doesn’t do any alterations in-house, the Towne Centre has its very own tailor right around the corner! Be sure to check out ATC Tailor after you find that perfect dress.

Planning your wedding

A La Mode

While the dress might fit, it’s always important to have the appropriate undergarments for either the bride, matron of honor, or bridesmaid. Offering over 200 different sizes, A La Mode has something for everyone. Not only that, their lingerie options are sourced directly from Paris and New York fashion week, making the honeymoon loungewear and easy choice! From the slip-garter sets to high-end silk frocks with beautiful lace detail, you are guaranteed to check a few things off your to-do list here.

Planning your wedding

Bin 201

With over 10,000 varieties of wine in the world, narrowing down a white and red option for your guests might seem a little tricky. Not to fear, Bin 201 is able to help with that decision. Not only that, they work with caterers to provide your selection on your special day! Why stop there? If you’re looking for a last-minute bachelor/bachelorette party idea, Bin 201 offers a wine pairing class every Saturday that is great for large groups, or you’re sure to find the perfect souvenir for your wedding party. Rose bouquet, anyone?

Planning your wedding

SMYTH Jewelers

Did you know that there has been a wedding on the grounds of the Annapolis Towne Centre? That’s right, make your way to the gazebo near PF Changs to see the venue for yourself. If it’s the right fit, John from SMYTH Jewelers can even officiate! SMYTH Jewelers is an Annapolis Towne Centre staple. This family own business occupies a large store in near the center circle where you’re sure to find your engagement ring, wedding band, or other nuptial gifts.

Planning your wedding

Paper Source

There is a surprising variety of different paper types that can make up your save the dates, invitations, place cards, menus, and thank-you notes. Paper Source works with you to collaborate your vision, and its premiere designers make it come true with hand-drawn creations that focus on artisanal touches and detail. At Paper Source, they want the invitations to be a reflection of you and your marriage.

Bed Bath & Beyond®

Bed Bath & Beyond® can provide couples with a registry experience unique to each couple – they can register in-store, online, via the app… anytime anywhere. Some registry benefits include in-store experts to help you create the perfect wish list. Book an appointment to meet with an in-store registry consultant, reserve a spot at an upcoming event, or simply find information about the store on the second level of the Annapolis Towne Centre. There are so many incentives when choosing Bed Bath & Beyond® as your registry – get free gifts based on what your family and friends buy you, find a lower price somewhere else? Simple. They’ll match it! Visit any Bed Bath & Beyond® store and present the qualifying competitor’s ad or website to any associate. Or, if any items remain on your registry after your wedding, you can purchase them at a 20% discount.

For more information about the stores mentioned above, click HERE!

Waterfront Weddings

Planning the perfect wedding begins with choosing the right destination. With a huge range of venues and styles, it’s no wonder that countless couples have celebrated the start of their married lives in Annapolis & Anne Arundel County. From weddings in historic Annapolis to countryside receptions in South County or grand ballrooms in the BWI region, there are plenty of places to say ‘I do’. But what about couples who are looking for something a bit more nautical? In addition to Annapolis being the sailing capital of the world, Anne Arundel County’s rivers, streams, and coves form over 533 miles of shoreline. We claim the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, as our very own playground and picture-perfect wedding destination! See more below for all you need to know when planning your magical maritime wedding!

Annapolis Maritime Museum

The Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park gives guests a real “Annapolis” feel. This unique waterfront venue boasts an interactive museum exhibit and much more. Ride the water taxi to and from your event – guests can arrive in style! This venue is perfect for the conscious couple looking to give back, all rental fees support the museum’s mission in serving 10,000 schoolchildren in Anne Arundel County through environmental education programs. Choose from 2 campuses: McNasby Campus – the “museum” with a waterfront tented deck situated right on Back Creek, a beachfront canoe and kayak launch, 3 piers, and 2,500 sq ft of climate-controlled interior reception space, and Ellen O. Moyer Nature Park – 12 wooded acres, 30’ x 30’ tent, indoor restrooms, a dinghy dock, on-site parking lot and waterfront on a secluded cove on Back Creek.

The Liberte

The Schooner Liberté is a 49-passenger sailboat offering private, personalized charters out of Annapolis from late April through June, then September through October. With the largest deck space and most comfortable seating of any vessel of her class on the Bay, the Liberté is the perfect venue for your waterfront wedding. The smooth ride allows you to move about the deck and mingle, truly sharing the adventure. A full beverage bar onboard and wonderful catering menu round out this venue option. Ondeck speakers allow you to enjoy your own music. We are conveniently located alongside the Chart House Restaurant on “Restaurant Row” in the charming neighborhood of Eastport and parking is free. A wedding on the Liberté offers a unique opportunity to see Annapolis from the water, making it a day or night you and your guests will never forget.

Chesapeake Bay Beach Club

Waterfront weddings at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club leave a lasting impression for couples and their guests. The ballrooms and spaces at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club provide the perfect setup for elegant waterfront weddings. The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club offers ceremony and reception venues with extraordinary sunset views overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Couples can access everything they need to get ready for their big day to include guest rooms, intimate venues for the Rehearsal Dinner and post-wedding brunch and a spa specializing in wedding hair and makeup services.  The Market offers “Market to the Room” where wedding parties can order food and beverages to their rooms while getting ready for the big day. Guests staying at The Inn can fill any downtime by dining at Knoxie’s Table, shopping in The Market, playing outdoor games and lounging by the pool. The catering team offers menu selections for both seated and buffet-style events, and have the option to handpick their menu selections to make their wedding day truly memorable. The gorgeous waterfront views, The Inn and Spa, dedicated staff, award-winning catering, and guidance for personalizing weddings make the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club a leading waterfront wedding destination.

Other venues include:

Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa

Michael’s on the South River



  • | Image courtesy of Annapolis Maritime Museum
  • | Image courtesy of Annapolis Maritime Museum
  • | Image courtesy of Annapolis Maritime Museum
  • | Image courtesy of Annapolis Maritime Museum
  • | Image courtesy of the Liberte
  • | Image courtesy of the Liberte
  • | Image courtesy of the Liberte
  • | Image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Beach Club
  • | Image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Beach Club
  • | Image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Beach Club
  • | Image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Beach Club
  • | Image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Beach Club

This was a stunningly gorgeous and fun Annapolis wedding to photograph. I fell in love with Brian & Grace as soon as they walked through my door. He is a handsome guy with a funny dry wit and she is a stylish but down to earth gal. They make each other giggle and you can tell that they balance out each other’s personalities.  

Grace had mentioned to me her dress would be “different” so when I saw the Gucci piece she had chosen I knew we were going to have a lot of fun. The burnt golden orange and flash of pink looked insanely gorgeous in the sunlight and next to corn husks with textured buildings. I liked the contrast between the very city chic attire and the natural elements of Harwood Hills. 

Harwood hills is a photography/wedding dream because it can be customized in so many ways and it is a HUGE plot of land. They started their day with a welcome cocktail hour in the barn. Their first look was in front of a gorgeous red barn and we played in the fields with their friends whom they chose to have as guests instead of as a wedding party.  Brian & Grace chose to be married at the peak of a hill with the forest behind them. Grace and her dad exchanged hugs, tears, and whispers as she walked through the field towards the ceremony. Her smile as she walked down the aisle towards Brian was beaming and the ceremony was filled with laughter. After their first kiss Brian high fived people on his first walk as a husband and Grace’s smile was even bigger. As the sunset, the guests walked through a cut out in the field leading to a magical reception in the woods. Twinkle lights hung over long tables covered with greens, antique tableware, and varied metal containers full of dahlias, hydrangeas, and a mix of summery flowers.  Guests ate an incredible meal prepared by Susan Gage Catering and listened to a live jazz band under the stars. It ended with an epic dance party and people stumbled back through the field guided by luminaries. 

Photography by: Wendy Hickock Photography

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Kelly & Mitchell | USNA Chapel

Kelly and Mitchell were married on a lovely June day in the United States Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis with their many friends and family members in attendance from all over the country. Afterward, we visited many locations around the Naval Academy campus for photos of the newlyweds, including a stop at the seawall where they frequently had lunch together while Mitchell was attending the Academy. Then it is was off to Chartwell Golf & Country Club in Severna Park, Maryland for cocktail hour and a fun-filled reception including a lively dance party.

Kelly and Mitchell met in the fall of 2013 while both were in college. Kelly was attending the University of Delaware, and Mitchell, of course, was at the Naval Academy. Mitchell and some of his friends visited the University of Delaware one weekend, and Kelly and Mitchell met by chance while both were out with friends. After that, they spent every weekend together that they could! After graduating from the Naval Academy, Mitchell went into the Marines and got stationed in North Carolina and Kelly made the move with him.

Then, in December 2017 on a trip back home for the holidays to visit with family, Mitchell decided to make a pitstop on the campus of the University of Delaware. He proposed to Kelly under the “kissing arches” on that campus, and they celebrated their engagement with their friends and family over the holiday break.

Photographer: Christa Rae Photography

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Weddings by Watermark

Watermark has been in the business of private yacht charters in the Chesapeake Bay area for over 45 years. Their luxury yachts offer a stunning and magical setting for everything from rehearsal dinners to large weddings. With ports in Annapolis City Dock, the Baltimore Inner Harbor, the Eastern Shore, Weddings on the Bay by Watermark has something for anyone in any region.

Take a peek inside a Q&A with one of their recent brides, and check out the gallery below to discover all of the different possibilities for your special day!

Q: How did you and the groom meet?

A: We met at work.

Q: How did the proposal happen?

A: He had our dog bring me the ring at home. It was so cute, the best way since I am a total dog lover, and I was completely surprised. Needless to say, there was a lot of laughter and happy tears!

Q: Why did you choose to get married on the water?

A: As soon as I started looking at wedding venues, I knew that it had to be near or on the water. Both of us being Marylanders and living on the eastern shore, we love the bay and have spent so much time on the water. It was just a natural choice for us and I knew that no matter what, it would be a beautiful backdrop for a wedding.

Q: What made you choose Watermark?

A: I came across the Watermark website while browsing wedding venues on the Chesapeake Bay. The idea of a yacht wedding sounded so much fun. We met at the office, took a site tour of the yacht, and I knew it was the right choice for our wedding. The Watermark staff is absolutely incredible.

Q: What do you love most about Annapolis?

A: Annapolis is one of the best things about Maryland. We love the history of Annapolis, the picturesque views, and the most amazing dining options. There are always plenty of new shops and restaurants to check out as well as diverse arts and entertainment options for everyone to enjoy. It’s a family friendly, dog friendly, hip place that all ages can enjoy.

  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark
  • | Courtesy of Watermark

Ask The Experts

Congratulations, you’re getting married!!  I bet by now you are starting to realize that the wedding industry is just that — an entire industry that exists solely to service your big day dreams.  WOW, it can be overwhelming. Most couples and their families are busy people, and the thought of running around trying to coordinate several vendors can seem daunting.   Where to start? What to ask? How much to pay? These are all great questions that I would love to help provide an answer for.    

I had the pleasure of speaking with some of our very seasoned and talented local pros that had some great information to share.


Reception Site

  1. Your Name, Company, Title:  William Grace, Westin Annapolis Director of Catering
  2. What line of Business are you / your company in? Hospitality
  3. One thing you would like Brides and Grooms to know about your vendor category in general that they don’t already know, that would help them when researching your vendor category.  Always hire a wedding planner. They will assist in all avenues to make sure that your day is stress free. Our hotel is the only hotel that has an open air kitchen concept in the ballroom. The Annapolis Ballroom is a contemporary feel space, with windows throughout. If you are looking for a space that is a restaurant feel but wanting a ballroom is a perfect fit.
  4. What is an average price range for your vendor category? $120 per person and above for plated meal before service charges and taxes
  5. Your favorite thing you’ve  seen at a wedding: My favorite item that I have seen at a wedding is when a bride and groom make the wedding theirs, and not your typical ABC wedding.
  6. Anything else you would like to share: Annapolis is a busy wedding destination.  Make sure you do not take too much time looking at venues if your heart is set on Annapolis.  



  1. Name : My Flower Box Events
  2. Business: Event Floral Design Company specializing in Weddings and Grand Openings
  3. One thing you should know : You do not need to have picked everything out to come see a florist. Our creative consultation appointments  are ones of exploration and education on floral selection and design options.
  4. Average Price:. In the state of Maryland we advise couples to reserve 10 percent of their overall wedding budget for floral decor which includes ceremony and reception “ 
  5. Favorite thing:  Floating lotus pond as escort table



  1. Your Name, Company, Title – Christina Hamilton / Hamilton Photography / owner,photographer
  2. What line of Business are you / your company in? Photography (we specialize in weddings)
  3. One thing you would like Brides and Grooms to know about your vendor category in general that they don’t already know, that would help them when researching your vendor category. On top of high quality photography, make sure the company has superior customer service for both the ‘Pre’ AND ‘Post’ needs of your wedding!   It amazes me how many photographers only provide great customer service until the contract gets signed! You want great service from beginning to end! 
  4. What is an average price range for your vendor category?  It varies depending on quality, experience and what comes with the package but broadly speaking $3000-$6000. At Hamilton Photography, the average price a couple spends is $4000-$5000.
  5. Your favorite thing you’ve seen at a wedding? I love seeing weddings that have amazing family bonds.  When the siblings and parents are super excited for the couple and you can just tell that they have a great family life. It gets me every time.  
  6. Anything else you would like to share? Smile, laugh and be yourself around the camera. Capturing the joy and emotions of the day is what we do. Have fun, it’s your wedding day! 



  1. Name : Jennifer Reitmeyer: MyDeejay, President
  2. Business: Wedding entertainment
  3. One thing you should know : There’s definitely a “sweet spot” between respecting your music tastes and helping you to create the kind of celebration you want to have. A good DJ will partner with you to build a playlist that you love, and that will also result in the atmosphere and energy you want for your reception. That way, your dance floor will stay packed, while the soundtrack is one that makes you smile.
  4. Average Price: An average price range for professional DJs, depending on experience and quality, would be $1000-2000 for four hours.
  5. Favorite thing:  My favorite moments are anything that include an element of sentimental surprise – for example, when a bride has our DJ create a custom mix of special songs she can dance to with her dad, or when members of the wedding party plan an unexpected performance just for the happy couple. We’ve assisted with everything from flash mobs to choreographed toasts complete with original songs and dance routines, and the shock and joy on the newlyweds’ faces never gets old.
  6. Anything else you would like to share? I’d love for every couple to know that, in every vendor category out there, there are professionals who share their tastes and vision, and who will be so wonderful to work with that the couple will consider them a friend by the time the wedding is done. There are so many talented wedding pros, most of whom have tons of awards and great reviews – that personal connection and compatibility, on the other hand, can be much harder to find. Taking the time to get to know your vendors to be sure they’re a great fit for you can make all the difference, not only in how smoothly your wedding is executed, but also in how much you enjoy the planning.



  1. Name : Select Event Group – a full service party equipment rental, tent and event production and design company.
  2. One thing you should know : Planning a wedding can be a long and often confusing process.  Finding a reputable company that has the products you like is crucial, but establishing a relationship with a company that delivers outstanding service is paramount.  Selection, quality, and service will vary from vendor to vendor.  To ensure you understand the quality of product you are renting, visit their showrooms. 
  3. Average Price: With every rental equipment company there will be a range of prices.  The best sales consultants will help guide you towards making the most impact within your budget. There are many necessities but also extravagant extras that make your wedding pop, and it’s important to know where to cut back without losing your vision.  Working with a planner or a sales consultant helps!
  4. Favorite thing: When planning your reception, set aside a place for casual seating around the dance floor.  A couch or two will encourage guests to get up after dinner, mingle and join the party!
  5. Anything else you would like to share? The biggest change I have seen over many years in wedding planning is that there are no more “rules!”  Couples should make their wedding personal to reflect their style and vision.  Lean towards elegance, trendy touches are great, mix it up, make it romantic, and make it fun!

  • | Joy Michelle Photography
  • | The ShutterBee Effect
  • | Drawn to the Image
  • | Krista A. Jones Photography
  • | Tunji Sarumi
  • | Tunji Sarumi
  • | Kate Fine Art
  • | Rachel Kendall Events
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
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  • | Meghan Elizabeth Photography
  • | Audra Wrisley Photography
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  • | Kate Fine Art Photography
  • | Audra Wrisley Photography
  • | Hannah Lane Photography
  • | Wendy Hickok Photography
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  • | Wendy Hickok Photography
  • | Nicole Barr Photography

12 Days of Wedding Planning

Here are my 12 days of wedding planning — 12 steps to help keep you full of the joy you and your family experienced when you said YES!

  1. Lead with love, and the rest will fall in place, you’ll see! It’s easy to be said but more difficult to practice. If you simply keep this mantra in the forefront of planning, your relationships with family, vendors and guests will be stress-free.
  2. It’s all about compromising. After all, it’s about love. Love means compromise. I’ve planned weddings with budgets close to a million dollars and budgets of just a few thousand. No one party in wedding planning completely gets their way. If you can accept this as inevitable, it will make it that much easier when you get to those moments. If she wants the aisle covered in rose petals (very expensive for a complete covering) what about a lush line along the side of the aisles or even a cool pattern in the aisle? If she wants to rent furniture to put outside on the lawn for a lounge feel, create a lounge vibe by using standard tables and chairs but cluster them near a tree where you could hang a cool candelabra or a neat IKEA light. If he wants a 12-piece band, then maybe drop that fourth app or nix the premium bar. And if he wants chocolate and you want vanilla — well, they have four tiers!
  3. It’s important to know what type of event the couple would like to host. Garden? Ballroom? Intimate? Everyone? Grand? Simple? Be it strong or sublime; it’s important to write it down, and refer back to it during the planning process.
  4. It’s time to have a frank conversation about budgeting. No one can successfully set forth on a project without knowing an amount to spend. I believe any dream can be accomplished on any budget, it just takes some thought and compromise, as noted above.
  5. Ask yourself: how many can we feed? Fifty percent of your wedding budget pertains to food, beverages and site fees. Once you set an overall budget limit, you should do some preliminary research (internet and email) on some possible sites and caterers to get a ballpark idea of pricing.
  6. Refer back to one and two. This is where your planning experience has the most chance of going from fun to “Now I know what they were talking about when they said it was a nightmare.” Refer back to points one and two. You can do it!
  7. Let’s create a plan we can set forth and succeed. It’s important to put it in writing – a simple spreadsheet with line items for ceremony site, reception site (to include food and beverage), entertainment, décor, photography/videography, fashion (including day-of prep), cake, stationary and auxiliary events (bridal tea, etc.) And because these are very general categories, you should reserve 10 to 20 percent for “miscellaneous.” This can be the line item you debit for non-budgeted line items (transportation, etc.) or item overages.
  8. How are you feeling about your plan? Marriage is a commitment, and so is a budget. Everyone involved in the planning needs to review the plan/budget and feel about an eight out of ten on the happiness scale.
  9. Channel in number two again. I can’t stress enough that these days, albeit very difficult, are the most important. Any great accomplishment has had a well thought out plan. If you invest your first week in this diligent research and hard work, you have set yourself up for a tremendously less stressful next few months or even years. Do yourself a favor and get the hard conversations out right out of the gate.
  10. It’s appointment time. Now that you have a plan, make some appointments to see some ceremony and reception sites that interested you from the budgeting period. Because of your research, you’ll ask informed questions and have a mental Rolodex of material to compare the site coordinator’s answers with. I also suggest meeting with photographers and entertainment companies, as they often book up quickly and have limited date availability.
  11. Let’s make some reservations for vendors with glee. You’ve created your plan, done the research in meeting potential vendors, now it’s time to book, book, book! Obviously, I don’t think you will book all of your vendors within 11 days of beginning the planning process, but it is acceptable to expect a ceremony and reception facility to be secured with a deposit within one to three months after commencement of planning.
  12. Just enjoy the process. You are planning your forever!

These two were so fun, affectionate, full of laughter and photogenic! They really made the cold weather enjoyable!

Like most couples who have never been in front of the camera before, they arrived feeling a little anxious. Well, Casey did. Alex gets credit for being the calming influence in their relationship. But within minutes they were enjoying a romantic moment and laughing all the awkwardness away!

Casey has a naturally elegant pose, and Alex was more than willing to nuzzle just to keep his nose warm! These two were such a delight to work with, and Annapolis offered a more than perfect location for this engagement shoot. Historic brick facade, store fronts, a waterfront pier and just enough fall foliage. I could have spent hours more exploring the city with this sweet happy couple.

Congrats, and I can’t wait for your wedding next Fall!

  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography
  • | Robyn Brown Photography

Top Five Wedding Mistakes

It’s this time of year clients start to second guess themselves about the decisions they have made.  My advice is trust your gut, and trust your instincts! In my 14 years of service — I have learned the client is always right.  However this topic made me think, What do clients regret? And, what do vendors see that they want clients to know? I asked some of my most favorite clients and vendors for some great advice I could share with you and came up with at “top five” list of “wedding mistakes.”   With that being said, this list is more general guidelines and very unscientific! The goal is to only get you thinking, and in the end — remember — it’s about love. In the end — you’re married! and that is what counts. Which leads us to number 1…


  1. Sweating the small stuff

Remember it’s about you and your Fiance committing to one another for a lifetime.  This helps you to not sweat the small stuff. Mom insisting you have a chocolate layer of cake?  Just do it. Your groom has to have the bartenders wear Philadelphia Eagles bowties? (true story) Why not?  Your Maid of Honor doesn’t feel comfortable giving a toast? Let her off the hook. The happiest Brides and Grooms I work with let the small stuff roll off their backs and remember, in the end, they are getting married!  That is the real purpose of the gathering.

  1. Trying to please everyone — it’s impossible

If you are thinking this might be contradictory to #1 on the list –you are right.  There is a fine line. And only you can decide what is sweating the small stuff and what is trying to please everyone!  One great example is many couples struggle with picking the “right” wedding date. Can Aunt Millie Make it? Cousin Sarah is due around that time!  My college roommate can only come in the summer months! How do you pick? My advice: There is a 100% chance that not everyone you invite will be able to make your wedding date.  So speak to those that are nearest and dearest to you, as well as coordinate with your personal schedule, and pick a date that suits most. Know that not everyone will be able to make it — but if your nearest and dearest will make it — then your day will be a good one.

  1. Not spending enough for an important-to-you vendor category

I meet with clients all day long and each one almost always has a category that is important to them.  Flowers, to photography, food and beverage. Whatever your passion is, I encourage you to find it and fund it.  I had one of my most favorite brides tell me she wished she spent more on the flowers and the arrangements were bigger.  Another bride told me they loved their photographer’s personality but didn’t love their photos but went with them anyways– and they regretted it.  While I hate to hear of regrets — I think one thing rings true. If it is important to you, don’t be afraid to splurge and cut out something else that might not be as important. Or, find a way to get the best, but in a limited fashion.  For example, go for the high end photographer, but maybe only reserve a 6 hour package. Or, love the dramatic flower look? Get a fabulous florist and do amazing arrangements on ½ of the tables and do a glorious candle arrangement on the other half.  Fell in love with a 10 piece band? Why not seek out a great 5 piece band at ½ the price without compromising with a DJ? Love a high end DJ? Then skip the photo booth. Life is about choices and I encourage you to spend where you love but do so sensibly.

  1. Not taking the good advice of your qualified vendor team

I heard from many vendors –and the biggest complaint was couples who invested in their services but then did not listen to their advice.  This too, is a fine line, as I believe the client knows their audience best but if several vendors are telling you the same thing — you should strongly consider taking their advice.  I had a client that was having an outdoor wedding and all the vendors told the client they needed more lighting than just lights around the perimeter of the tent. They chose to only go with basic lighting and all the reception photos after sunset were in the dark.  I also had a photographer that was trying to tell the client they needed time to get to the reception site before guests arrive to take room shots (set up of the room before guests arrived). They had invested heavily in florals and linens and the room was stunning! The client did not want to spend more for a second shooter and was unwilling to do photos before the ceremony.  While we got many lovely photos during the reception, we were unable to get many shots with the beautiful table settings that the Bride had so carefully planned over the 16 months of planning.

4a. Not helping your vendors help you

This was something many vendors contacted me about, and something we occasionally experience at Wedding Savvy as well.   You’ve gone and hired a fantastic DJ — everyone says they rock!! But if you don’t get them your music choices with enough notice — they will be flying blind.  One DJ reached out to me to tell me about a client who e-mailed him his parent dances while he was in the shower getting ready for the gig. He was (as all professionals do) able to download the songs, but it turns out he downloaded the right song by the wrong artist.  He didn’t have time to check with the Bride and Groom before the event because he was given the information too late. At Wedding Savvy – we ask for a copy of all contracts two months before the wedding so we can confirm all the right details. When clients don’t give us the cake contract or the floral contract — we normally track it down from the vendor.  But in some circumstances –for example — a friend is doing the flowers and they don’t get back to us — we are flying blind. We have no idea if the flowers on the table are what you ordered. Do your vendors a favor and provide the details they ask for. It is for your best interest, and will help to provide your vendors with the tools to make your wedding –AWESOME!

  1. Not setting a budget before you set expectations, book vendors, and invite guests.

200 guests for $10,000?  completely possible for a casual BBQ party.  Expecting a plated dinner with china and steak?  Think again. Many clients decide on the guest list before they figure out what they can afford with their budget.   Talk with your family and figure out the type of event you are comfortable hosting and then be sure your budget can handle it for your guest count.  Often times, before clients book us they reserve a fantastic reception site but when they add up the amount of guests they want to have there and then add in a photographer, DJ, florals — they are over budget.  Take the time to research reception sites and plug those numbers in a budget for the amount of guests you are expecting. Then, research Entertainment, florals, and photographers to see if you can afford all your top choices.  If not, are you willing to splurge on a reception site and scale back on entertainment? If not, maybe look into another site that is more in line with your budget that allows you to get all the top notch vendors you’ve been dreaming of.  We had a client that was in love with a garden site at the tune of $6000, but that means she couldn’t have the DJ, photographer, and decor that she was in love with. In the end, she chose a less expensive site at $2000 and was able to get all the vendors she loved … and she was over the moon happy!

Things Brides Forget to Plan

  • Weather Accessories
    • handkerchiefs for men in hot weather (to wipe sweat)
    • Shawls or wraps for the ladies in the colder months
    • Cute umbrellas (black always work) for fun rain pictures — or even fun matching rain boots for the ladies (so cute!)
    • extra hairspray and bobby pins for windy days
  • Food for you, food for him
    • It sounds simple, but often times guys and gals will be running late or worried about fitting into clothing and don’t have time / choose to eat.  Or even worse, time for a pre- wedding dinner snack was not budgeted into your event timeline. We always suggest the groomsmen meet for a meal before getting dressed, and the ladies have lunch or refreshments during hair and makeup.  Plan a cooler and/or snack basket for your limo, trolley or party bus after the ceremony with water and snacks if you plan on taking photos / may miss your cocktail hour so your bridal party doesn’t show up starving.
  • Extra time: During hair and makeup, travel time
    • I cannot stress enough how important it is to have extra time in your day.  Plan for an extra hour to hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of your bridal party for hair and makeup completion time.  If you are done on time, you can use the extra time to relax with your bridesmaids and have a snack.
    • Transportation is another category where people often cut it too close.   It is better to arrive 15 minutes early than be 30 minutes late! Of course, please be mindful of your restrictions at the church/ reception site and don’t arrive obscenely early… but a little extra time to sip champagne in the limo at the church parking lot is better than sweating in your dress stressing about getting past a traffic jam!
  • What happens at the end of the night – your exit plans
    • I always encourage couples to plan their final moments and make an exit before the guests.  This allows the couple to bring the event to a close on a high note. The couple can always make plans to meet up with everyone after the event in a hotel lobby, downtown, etc!  Sparkler exits are very popular and well earned – it’s a very fun way to send the couple off with a BANG (or actually more like a sizzle!) I love the idea of all the guests coming together as a final capstone of the night to say goodbye.  Other options could be bubbles, or a classic car exit. All these options signal to the guests the event has ended and the couple has departed.

What I don’t suggest is the Bride and Groom lingering as the lights come up and the reception staff is cleaning up around them.  It’s hard for the couple to make an exit if they haven’t already and often times are the last ones there as they feel obligated to say a goodbye to each guest.  After a long day or night, this makes it even longer. AND it is anticlimactic. You can always meet up with guests at an after party!


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