BY KELSEY RICHARDSON AND LAYNE SALIBA
With the Gainesville Bridal Expo coming up Sunday, Jan. 27, we’ve put together 10 tips from two staffers at The Times to keep in mind as you get closer to your wedding.
Layne was married October 2018 in Gainesville. He’s from Hall County and grew up in North Hall. He met his wife in preschool.
Kelsey is getting married in September 2019 at Fernbank Natural History Museum in Atlanta. She’s from Athens and is a big fan of dinosaurs.
Don’t be afraid to draw a line when it comes to preparing a guest list
When making my first wedding guest list, I anticipated the process would prove fairly simple. The venue where I’m getting married, Fernbank Natural History Museum, can hold a maximum of 150 people in its outdoor balcony location.
Since my fiancé’s portion of the guest list only takes up a third of that, I felt relieved to have room to accomodate my large family. Before I could finish the list, my mom overtly pointed out the fact that I had not included all of her cousins and their children on the list. Many of these people I had never seen in my entire life. Some of them she promised I had met a handful of times during my childhood; however, I could not recall their faces nor their names.
After adding the extra people to the guest list, the amount of invites exceeded our maximum — and by a long way. When I told my mom that I wanted to be surrounded by people that I love and care about during my wedding, not by unfamiliar faces, she said that having strangers at weddings is perfectly normal. While I love my mom, I had to take a step back, draw a line in the guest list and remember that this is my wedding. Someone will inevitably feel left out, no matter how large the list.
Remember to budget for catering
I expected the venue would be the highest cost of the wedding, and after I secured a spot at Fernbank I felt relieved to have checked off that first box on the list. Like most venues, Fernbank had an approved food vendor list. As I called and researched each caterer, I soon found out that the food was nearly double the amount of the venue. I even negotiated the cheaper options with my preferred caterer, and the price still came to around $78 per head. If you intend on getting married at venue with an approved vendor list, be prepared to pay the amount of a decent used car.
Don’t procrastinate on locking down a venue
Within a month of getting engaged, I jumped on nabbing the perfect venue. Although my wedding was more than a year out, I wanted to make sure that I had a spot at Fernbank — my dream venue. After paying the deposit and making the reservation, I felt a huge burden lift off of my shoulders. Even though I had reached out to Fernbank more than a year before the wedding, most of September 2019 was already booked. I’m glad that I confirmed the space when I did, and I encourage all newly engaged couples to do the same before someone else steals your ideal venue.
Something will always go wrong
Anyone who has claimed to have experienced a flawless wedding, they’re either lying or had an amazing wedding planner who disguised all of the mishaps. One important detail that I’ve learned from all of my family members and friends who have gotten married is that something always goes wrong. Whether it’s caterers messing up a food order or rain arriving during an outdoor ceremony, people can’t predict the unpredictable. With my own wedding planning, I’ve already experienced a bit of drama within the bridal party and with figuring out my guest list. Flukes happen, so don’t set unreasonable expectations.
Make a checklist
I know that this may seem like an obvious step in the wedding planning process to some, but for me having a checklist is a tremendous help. I started off with a short list, which has increased over the months. Almost every time I talk with a married friend, they mention something that I have left out of the list. I had no idea that I would need wedding insurance nor the formality of sending out a “save the date” in addition to a wedding invitation. Through making a list, I have a clear path ahead of me and feel more confident that the event will at least resemble a wedding by the time I check off all of the boxes.
Get a reliable wedding planner who cares about the details of your wedding
Not everyone chooses to go with a wedding planner, and that’s OK. But my suggestion is to make room in your budget for one. A wedding planner — especially a good one who is involved in every decision — can make all the planning for the wedding much easier.
They sometimes think of things you never would have, and on the day of the wedding they’re in control of the details that might otherwise distract you, leaving you the time to actually enjoy the day. If something goes wrong, you likely won’t even know about it because the wedding planner will take care of it. It might be the best decision you’ll make. If you choose not to use one, you’ll quickly realize how valuable they are.
Book a two-space venue
One space for the ceremony, and another space, outdoors if the weather permits, for the reception. Having the ceremony room turn into a reception area is sometimes hard to do. If you have two rooms, everything can be set up and in order, ready to go for the actual reception ahead of time, leaving you with less to worry about. There’s much less room for mishaps or errors if the room is set up before the ceremony, leaving the bride and groom with less stress.
Create a detailed timeline for each vendor
Making sure everyone knows where to be and when to be there is essential on the wedding day, especially when you have a lot of vendors to deal with. Make sure you — or that wedding planner you’ll have because of tip No. 1 — make a detailed timeline that says when each vendor, whether it be the cake delivery, chair delivery, table settings coordinator, etc. should arrive at the venue. And if it’s something that needs to be set up and requires someone remain at the venue (like a bar), make sure that vendor knows when they must be set up in order to not disturb the ceremony.
Plan big things first, details last
This may seem self-explanatory, but check the big things off your list first: Date, venue, photographer, dress, suits. All of the small details can be handled later or by someone else. Oftentimes, even though it’s hard to hear, those small details go unnoticed anyway. So don’t waste valuable time on them when you could be dedicating that time to something much more worthwhile.
Secure a second photographer
Depending on how important photos are to you, this is essential. If it’s in your budget, book the second shooter. This allows photos to be taken in two places at the same time, leaving less chance a moment is missed. If you’re already paying for the photographer in the first place, the extra cash for another camera to capture your day is worth it.