When it comes to planning a wedding, nobody knows the tricks of the trade better than the paid professionals who have done it countless times before. And because, through trial and error, they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, wedding planners tend to have quite a few secrets. Some, they’re happy to share with their clients, while others that they prefer to keep to themselves—until now, that is. Herein, we present some of the best wedding planner secrets that will transform your big day from ordinary into extraordinary. Consider this your “something borrowed.”
You don’t need to splurge on a gown.
Since wedding planners want you to dole out as much dough as possible, few will ever actually encourage their clients to save money on their dresses for the big day. But thanks to companies like Borrowing Magnolia and Rent the Runway, you actually can cut down on your wedding dress costs without sacrificing style, simply by renting a dress instead of buying it.
Anyone can perform a wedding ceremony.
“The person officiating the wedding ceremony doesn’t have to be the same person that signs the marriage license,” explains wedding officiant Rev. Clint Hufft. “Anyone can perform a ceremony, [but] not everyone is authorized to sign a marriage license as the officiant/celebrant.” Basically, what this means is that, while your best friend can perform your wedding ceremony in front of all your loved ones, you will still need a registered officiant to sign your certificate and make your union legal.
Hammer out the big details first.
Brides-to-be love to obsess over the small details of their ceremony, like the colors of the bridesmaids’ dresses and the floral arrangements .But according to the experts, none of these things are of any importance until you know “the kind of wedding you want.”
“You need to envision the wedding—outdoors, cocktail reception, beach—and then work inward from there,” Kathi R. Evans, an event coordinator based in New Jersey, explained to Bridal Guide. And once you’ve figured out what kind of wedding you want, the other components of the wedding will naturally just come to you.
Don’t tell vendors you’re getting married.
Vendors know that happy couples will pay a premium for their big day, and so just uttering the word “wedding” instantly adds a few hundred dollars to everything you buy. Ask your baker to create a custom tiered cake without specifying the occasion, though, and you’ll find that your price estimate is suddenly much lower.
Read every single contract before signing it.
Don’t sign contracts with venues or vendors before reading the fine print. Nobody wants to think about their engagement potentially falling through, but on the off chance that it does, it’s important to know that you can get most, if not all, of your money back from your deposits—unless you’ve inadvertently signed something okaying otherwise.
Send your invitations out on a Wednesday.
Why Wednesday? If you send your invitations out in the dead-middle of the week, then they’ll arrive in your guest’s mailboxes over the weekend when they actually have time to respond to them.
Don’t forget to bring a snack.
With all the running around that brides and grooms have to do, there’s little time for them to actually sit down and enjoy a full meal on their big day. Because of that, Alisa Lewis, owner of Alisa Lewis Event Design, explained to Apple Brides that she advises all her clients to “pack a few protein bars in your bag a few days before. You will inevitably be famished by midday and wedding days hardly grant any time for brides to eat.”
DIY? Don’t even try.
Making your own wedding decor definitely saves money, but according to Lindsey Nickel, wedding planner and owner of Lovely Day Events, you’re better off spending the few extra dollars if you want your ceremony to be picture perfect. “The DIY décor never looks as good as the couple hopes it will,” says Nickel. “People always start out with the best of intentions for DIY items, but most of the time they end up looking sad and nothing like the Pinterest inspiration.”
Wedding planners hate Pinterest.
Though Pinterest can be a great resource for brides who can’t quite describe what their ideal wedding looks like, experts caution against over-utilizing the platform during the planning process. According to Jessica Chen, wedding expert for WeddingDresses.com, relying too much on a “dream wedding Pinterest board” makes wedding planners cringe “because that’s when they know they’ll be expected to pull off someone’s fantasy with half the budget.”
A little kindness goes a long way.
Given how many bridezillas there are out there, vendors are always extra appreciative when they get to work with brides who treat them with respect. And according to Chen, “vendors will gladly go above and beyond for couples that they really love by providing extra freebies,” so don’t forget to use your pleases and thank yous!
You can repurpose your flowers during the wedding.
“Many times the flowers that you use at your ceremony can be reused in other places in your wedding after the ceremony,” says Nickel. “For example, the flowers at the ends of the aisles can be moved and used to decorate the coffee table, and bridesmaids bouquets are wonderful for dressing up the cake table.” And after the wedding, bring your table toppers home to enjoy the 8 Amazing Benefits of Having Flowers in Your Home.
Be prepared for emergency situations.
No matter how much planning you do, something is bound to go wrong on your big day. But even though you can’t necessarily avoid an emergency situation, Chen says that you can prepare for one by prepping a well-stocked wedding day emergency kit, packed with “everything from beauty supplies such as bobby pins and makeup wipes to more practical lifesavers such as chargers and ibuprofen.”
Opt for edible gifts.
If you’re planning a destination wedding, then Calder Clark, owner and creative director of event design firm Calder Clark, recommends making your party favors something edible. As she explained to Martha Stewart Weddings, using food as favors means that “guests don’t have to squeeze them into a suitcase.”
Know the neighborhood.
One of the things that every soon-to-be-married couple should do before tying the knot is drive around the neighborhood that their wedding venue is located in. That way, if any last-minute emergencies arise on the big day, you’ll already know where the closest drugstore, stationary store, and liquor store is so you can solve your issue as quickly as possible.
Always bring an umbrella.
Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, you should always have a nice umbrella on hand just in case. That way, you’ll still be able to take some of your wedding photos outside without ruining your nicely curated outfits and ‘dos.
Double-check that your directions make sense.
“Before you send out the invitations, recruit a friend to drive the MapQuest or venue-provided directions to make sure they really work,” Xochitl Gonzalez, wedding planner and co-founder of Always a Bridesmaid Wedding Consultants, told Brides. If the directions don’t make sense, you’ll have time to fix them before the invites go out.
Need your bridal party at the venue at 4:30? Tell them 4:00.
Don’t rely on your bridal party showing up to things on time. Instead, make sure that everyone is where they need to be when they need to be by subtracting 25 or 30 minutes from the actual time of the event. For instance, if your wedding photos are scheduled for 5:00 p.m., then tell your bridal party that the photos start at 4:30 p.m. on the dot. Every minute counts on your wedding day, and nobody is going to fault you for telling a little white lie to keep things moving.
Your mother’s input is not helping.
Your mom might have good intentions, but that doesn’t make her micromanaging any less aggravating. Wedding planners are just trying to do their jobs, and that is made extremely difficult when the mother of the bride or groom is questioning every decision that they make. If your mom is one of those over-involved parents, try to let her know in the nicest way possible that while her input is appreciated, you’d prefer to leave the planning to the professional. (Your wedding planner would love to say this, but he or she isn’t trying to get fired.)
Invest in a planner.
Your Google calendar might do the trick when it comes to scheduling your work meetings, but for wedding planning, it’s better to invest in a real paper planner or desk calendar. The days leading up to your wedding are going to be packed with tastings and appointments, and you’re going to want—if not need—a separate planner just to keep track of all of your meetings.
Feed your vendors, too.
“Your vendors need to eat,” explains wedding planner Alyssa Griffith. “They love you, and they’re there for you, but without food they tend to forget how much they love you—[so] please, please, please make sure that there is enough food and enough time for everyone (yourself included) to eat.”
Your dream wedding is not unique.
Every bride wants their big day to be one-of-a-kid—but usually their vision for the perfect wedding is the same vision that thousands of other brides have had before. “Brides say they want their wedding to be different—and in the same breath they also say they want a ‘shabby chic’ or ‘vintage’ wedding with Mason jars, wildflowers and old barn doors as props. That style is so overdone,” Heather Dwight, owner of Calluna Events, told Woman’s Day. “It’s beautiful and fitting for many venues, but it’s not unique. If you want something different, don’t mimic every idea you’ve seen in wedding magazines or on blogs.”
Save money with a smaller cake.
There’s no need to order a cake to match your guest count. Caterers tend to keep the slices small, for one, and most guests aren’t even at the table by the time the cake is served, so there’s no reason to buy a cake that serves 200 guests when a cake for 175 will suffice. As a rule of thumb, ordering for about 15 percent under your guest count should be fine.
Don’t pick a venue until you have a guest list.
Until you know how many guests you plan on inviting, you should steer clear of booking a wedding venue. The last thing any couple wants is to be stuck with a venue that isn’t big enough to house all of their guests (especially if the deposit is non-refundable).
Save money by planning last-minute.
Though it’s not necessarily ideal, the experts over at The Knot suggest holding off on booking your wedding venue until around two months before your desired date. Since most couples book in advance, doing so can save you up to 25 percent—and that extra money can go a long way toward your other wedding and honeymoon costs.
Make sure the bar is properly staffed.
One thing you should confirm with your venue before the wedding is that the bar has enough bartenders to ensure that nobody will ever be waiting impatiently to get back out on the dance floor. As wedding expert Tara Guerand explained to HGTV, the perfect wedding should have “great service, good music, and no line at the bar.”
Never ship your wedding dress.
There’s no wedding without the wedding dress, so don’t leave the fate of the garment in the hands of the postal service. Even if your wedding is destination, it’s better to bring your dress with you on the plane and risk it getting wrinkled than it is to ship it and risk it getting lost forever.
If your parents or in-laws are paying…
Then your wedding planner is going to listen to their wants and needs over yours, even though it’s your big day. Sorry—it’s just business!