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Your Guide to Planning a Wedding

Planning your wedding day, while exhilarating and full of excitement, can also feel quite overwhelming at times. From setting the date and identifying a budget that will include every last detail, to communicating with vendors and guests, there’s a lot that goes into planning your special day. At Delamar, our expert team of planners works closely with couples, vendors, and partners to curate bespoke wedding experiences that far surpass your expectations (and that of your guests).

Whether you envision a wedding location that is traditional or trend-setting, festive or formal, intimate or grand scale, staying organized and keeping track of important dates and deadlines is the key to successful wedding planning. So, where to begin?

 

Set Your Wedding Budget

From venue to vendors, to dinner menu and music, your budget will determine many of the decisions you make from this point forward. Be realistic – your union is just as important as your wedding day so be sure to start off your marriage on solid financial standing, rather than incurring wedding day debt. A few key considerations to make:

  • Who is paying for what? Sit down with your future spouse to lock down how you will be footing the bill and if family members will participate in the funding. If you have parents of family members helping with the wedding, get a clear idea of how much they will be contributing. 
  • Start saving now. Start putting money aside into a separate savings account each month until your wedding day. It will be fun to invest the money together as a lead up to the special day. Some ways to generate additional savings include cutting down on how much you spend eating out, subscription services and anything else that you use but may not need (like that Saturday Starbucks latte or that extra pair of shoes that just happened to be on sale). 
  • Build a 5-10% cushion into your budget for unexpected costs that will most likely arise. 

Setting a Date

Weekends for popular venues fill up quickly, (especially at DELAMAR) so decide as early as possible on where you want to say “I Do.”. Choose a few ideal dates for your wedding and try to be flexible, if at all possible. This will help ensure you’re not constrained by dates when booking your favorite wedding venue and vendors. This will also allow you to potentially select dates that are more cost effective and within your budget. 

Get Organized

When it comes to planning a wedding, organization is key. You will realize quickly that you and your partner can’t do it alone. Here are a few tips:

Involve Your Significant Other

We all know that marriage is a testament to partnership so don’t feel the need to take on all of the planning alone. Consult with your partner every step of the way so you can create a wedding experience that you both will enjoy and that takes into consideration each one’s vision of the big day. Plus, planning is much more fun when you’re both making the decisions together and creating life-long memories and bonds along the way.

If Possible, Hire a Wedding Planner

Planning a wedding may get overwhelming with the abundance of choices and options. If you can afford to, consider hiring a wedding planner to help guide you, keep you on track, coordinate with vendors, and relieve the stress that comes with planning your big day.

Enlist Help from Family and Friends

It’s more than likely that your friends and family would love to be involved in the family planning as well.  Ask a few close family members and friends to help out whenever possible. 

Buy a Wedding Planner

Wedding planning books include everything from interactive checklists, organization tools for budgets and timelines, and advice from wedding experts, to help you plan your wedding every step of the way. 

There are also some great online tools and apps out there that can keep you organized:

  • Mint – This free money management app will help you keep track of your finances and stay on budget. 
  • Google Drive – Google Drive allows you to create word documents, and excel spreadsheets and share for viewing and editing by anyone with a Gmail account.
  • Wedding Happy –  No wedding planner? No problem. This free wedding planning app allows you to stay organized, create to-do lists, set alerts for deadlines and more!

Choose a Sunday and lay out your vision for this wedding with a vision board. This vision will help you to make essential decisions on your venue and location, guest lists, vendors, menus and everything else going forward. Be sure you know what you want for each of the following:

  • Location (destination or local) 
  • Theme and Colors
  • Music
  • Flowers
  • Food
  • Activities
  • Size of the wedding and wedding party

Gather Your Venue Options

Selecting a wedding venue is one of (if not the most important steps) in planning a wedding. It sets the backdrop for all your wedding events, as well as the tone and theme. Here are a few considerations to make when researching venue options:

  • Budget – There’s nothing more disappointing than getting your heart set on a venue only to find out that it is outside of your budget. Gather estimates from a number of different venues before narrowing it down to 2-3. 
  • Wedding Theme – If you’re hoping for a barn wedding, a hotel by the ocean will most likely not work. Figure out the theme of your wedding and research wedding venues based on your theme. 
  • Guest Capacity – When choosing a venue, research if it can hold the number of guests you plan on inviting. Having a venue that is too large can make it feel empty. Having one that is too small will leave your guests bumping elbows at their dinner tables and out on the dance floor. 
  • Pre and Post Wedding Activities – Research the area surrounding the wedding for any activities you can do with your wedding party before and after the wedding as well as considering hotel accommodations for your out of town guests. 
  • Consider Accessibility – Be sure that the venue is easy to get to for your guests, near major cities and airports. 
  • In-House Catering vs. BYO Catering – The food is one of the most important aspects of having your wedding be a memorial experience.  Research if the venue has in-house catering with their own chefs and kitchen, or if it allows outside catering if you’d like more options. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your vendor choices, it’s time to lock one down. Check with the vendors for date availability and pick that one that works with your dates, budget and wedding theme. 

Start Booking Your Vendors

Once you’ve booked the venue, it’s time to book other key vendors instrumental in making your special day a memorable one. Here is a vendor checklist to keep you on track:

  • Caterer – If the venue has in-house catering, then you’re all set! But if not, it is imperative that you hire your caterer as soon as possible. Booking early will ensure that you’re able to lock down the caterer of your choice on the dates you have set. 
  • Photographer & Videographer –  Wedding photographs and videos are so important because they are the best way to immortalize your special day.Top wedding photographers and videographers book fast so hire one at least a year in advance.
  • Florist – Wedding florists help create beautiful arrangements that set the tone for your big day. Hire one at least 6 months in advance. 
  • Cake Baker – Everyone dreams of the perfect wedding cake and it is often a major part of any reception. A lot of planning goes into creating a custom cake so don’t leave it to the last minute. 
  • Wedding Invitations – Draft, print and send out your save the date cards as soon as you set the date and lock down a venue. But wedding invitations can be sent out 4-6 months prior to the wedding. 
  • Wedding Transportation – If you plan on arriving at your wedding in a limo, or a luxury car, be sure to lock that down at least 2-3 months in advance. 

Read every line of your vendor contacts carefully. Review every detail of any contracts with your wedding vendors, including date, location, times, deposits, fees, etc. Make sure it’s written correctly and address any issues upfront in order to protect yourself.

Choosing Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Bridesmaids and groomsmen play an important part in your wedding. Not only will they be there to provide emotional support throughout your planning journey, but they will also be at the front lines at your wedding. Here are some tips to pick your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

  • Figure out the size. More isn’t always merrier. Large wedding party means more dresses and tuxes, more details to figure out, more schedules to align. 
  • Ask yourself, who has been there for you through thick and thin? Ask only those really closest to you to also be by your side as it is an emotional day and you want to feel surrounded by loved ones. 
  • Start with siblings. If you have a brother or sister you’re particularly close to, you might be able to check off “Maid of Honor” and “Best Man” from your list.
  • Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Have a close best friend of the opposite sex? Include them! Guys can stand with the bride and women can stand with the groom.
  • If you can’t add someone to the wedding party, consider giving them other roles like the usher to make them feel included.

Shop for Your Wedding Clothes

Finding the perfect wedding dress is one of the best and overwhelming experiences. Here are a few tip:

  • Consider your wedding theme. Your wedding venue and them will help focus your search. A gown that looks like a cocktail dress will not work in a cathedral. An embellished gown will look out of place at a beach wedding. So make sure the style of your dress goes with your venue and wedding theme. 
  • Research to see what you like. Go through wedding magazines, pinterest boards, blogs and online boutiques to see what sort of dress style you like. Save the ones you like and bring them to your first appointment for inspiration. 
  • Shop around. Don’t feel the need to shop and buy at your first appointment. Make an appointment with a few bridal boutiques – you will know when you find the right one!  
  • Lock down your budget. This will help boutiques pick out dresses within your budget verse showing you ones that you fall in love with but can’t afford. 
  • Choose a shopping crew you can trust. Bringing along your family and friends can be extremely helpful. But too many opinions can be overwhelming. Narrow the group down to the two or three people whose opinions matter most to you. 
  • Shop early. Gowns can take months to create, alter and get fitted. Start shopping early so you’re not rushing to lock down a dress last minute. 

Bridesmaids Dresses

Bridesmaids dresses can create drama, if you’re not careful with the dresses you choose.

  • Keep costs in mind. Since the bridesmaids traditionally pay for their own dresses, be considerate of the prices of the dresses you choose. You could also consider renting instead of buying to keep costs at a minimum. 
  • Bring them along when shopping. Get everyone’s opinion before you lock down the dress since they are the ones who will be wearing them. Pick dresses that are universally flattering on all body types and work with your wedding style. 
  • Let them accessorize. Besides the dress itself, let your bridesmaids pick their accessories and shoes and make the dress their own. 

Groom’s Attire

While the bride and her bridesmaids usually are the spotlight on the big day, the groom and groomsmen’s attire is just as important. Choosing the right attire for the groom is a lot easier once you’ve considered some of the details, particularly, the season and time of day, the venue, and your wedding’s theme or style. A few tips:

  • The process of planning the outfit should start 5-6 months before the wedding.
  • Consider renting. Suits and tuxedos can be expensive, especially if they won’t get much use after the wedding. But, if you’d like a custom tailor-made suit and you know you’ll use it again after the wedding, buying is the way to go. 
  • Tux or suit? That depends on how formal the wedding is. A formal wedding almost always calls for the groom and groomsmen to wear tuxedos. But for a semiformal wedding, a dark suit should work. Khaki or white suits are good choices for summer or destination weddings.
  • Choose the fabric, color and the wedding suit according to the season, and wedding theme. A dark wool suit will not work at a beach wedding, just as a bright linen suit will not work at a winter wedding.

Groomsmen Attire

Once the groom has selected his outfit, it’s time to dress the groomsmen. Here’s a few things to think about when deciding on your groomsmen’s attire:

  • Keep costs in mind. Your friends’ financial situations vary a lot. Choose an outfit that is accessible and easy to buy. You could also consider renting instead of buying to keep costs at a minimum.
  • Match the formality of the wedding. As with the groom, groomsmen’s outfits should match the formality of the wedding and the venue.

Be cohesive. The groom and groomsmen don’t need to dress the same. But everyone should at least look cohesive and adhere to a dress code. The groomsmen wearing white suits will look odd next to a groom wearing a black tuxedo.

Building a Wedding Registry

Creating a newlywed wish list is one of the most anticipated aspects of planning a wedding. Here are a few tips:

  • Start early. This will give guests ample time to purchase gifts for the big day.
  • Balance expensive gifts with affordable pieces. Wedding gifts can be a big financial undertaking for guests. So give your guests options with a wide variety for them to choose from.
  • Work together. Pick your registry items with your partner to make sure it’s something that you will both enjoy during your married life.  
  • Write thank you notes immediately so it becomes less burdensome than doing them all at once. 
  • Don’t just choose pots and pans. Yes, fine china is great. But consider things that tailor to your hobbies as part of your registry and start your life together with the items that you will use all the time and truly enjoy.  

Purchase Wedding Bands

While engagement rings usually get most of the attention, don’t forget about your wedding bands. Shop around at local shops with your fiance to try out different styles and metals, and pick out the ones that you both love. 

PS: If you haven’t already, consider getting an insurance policy for your engagement ring and wedding bands, or adding it to your existing policy if you have one. 

Don’t Forget to Make it Legal

In the midst of all of the wedding planning chaos, don’t forget to get your marriage license. 

In most cases, you need to obtain a marriage license from your county clerk with a small fee. As long as you and your spouse meet the requirements for your state, your marriage license should be granted. After the ceremony, your officiant must file your marriage certificate with the applicable recording agency in your county. Once that is done, you will receive a certified copy of the marriage certificate. 

DELAMAR’s wedding venues are beautifully designed with everything you need for your special day. Our dedicated staff is expertly trained in cultivating bespoke wedding experiences that surpass our client’s expectations. Let our experienced catering team guide you through every detail of your special day, from the ceremony to the last dance.

We take great pride in being one of New England’s premier luxury boutique hotels. Our wedding amenities include:

  • A dedicated Catering Sales Manager to assist with the detailing of your menu floor plan, day-of timeline, and onsite ceremony
  • Day of Banquet Manager to assist with the set up of décor, execution of timeline, and dinner service.
  • Private event spaces available for both Rehearsal Dinner and Post-Wedding Brunches
  • … more!