No matter where you are getting married in the U.S., I can help you with the many connections I have for great advice and qualified planners to assist you in their regions. From there, you can use their network of trusted pros to ensure you have a successful wedding with everyone involved.
(photo above by Adirondack-Albany Wedding Association Staff)
Below you will find top tips from wedding planners around the U.S. which we'll add to as we get more submissions. I'll start things off briefly with 4 of my top tips and advice from my area and in my experience as a Certified Wedding Planner, mobile entertainer and past venue manager.
1-Choose a venue that has a solid back up plan for rain/inclement weather. Many in our area do not. Contact me for my favorites! (another very important question to ask: Do they have a generator back up for the venue if power goes out?)
2-Choose a venue that has the bar in the same room as the reception, I call this a traditional space and it includes tents too. When guests have to go into another room or space for drinks, there is a huge disconnect from the dance floor (for your entertainment) and it removes people from the party. If your focus is a packed dance floor, this will help. Having your photo booth or video station in the same room also helps the energy, but don't try to pack things in if they don't fit either.
3-In our area, if you're looking at Lake George Village, stay away from the weekends of Memorial Day-the end of June...these are convention weekends, many of which have road closing parades. A nightmare for guests trying to get to your venue. Avoid the week after Labor Day as well due to another long running huge convention. In Queensbury, avoid Balloon Festival weekend in September. Not only is it hard to get rooms, but many people look forward to the festival each year. In Saratoga, avoid Traver's weekend in August...rooms are double the normal price and very hard to get for your guests.
4-Barn/Tent weddings: Choose your barn or tent location carefully! Many barns are small and have things spread all over the place. Make sure to have a wedding planner on hand to coordinate everything for you. Most barns and tents do not have climate control (without an additional fee) and your July wedding could end up being 95 degrees and no one will want to move. Many go home early due to heat. Older folks will not be comfortable and may not attend at the last minute if the weather is forecast to be hot. If it's one large barn, look at the roof and walls...are their holes in them? Many true rustic barns have slots between boards...now imagine a thunderstorm with driving rain. Water can blow into the barn, or seep along rafters, drip down onto tables, dance floor, culinary tables or even worse...on your DJ or entertainment and one drop...could end your reception. Most importantly for these venue types...is there back up power? Food for thought.
For great advice, planning assistance and our popular professional wedding program, please visit us at Adirondack-Albany Wedding Association. I have put together a network of pros who come prepared for most any situation and work together often. Here's some more tips now from pros around the country, enjoy and happy planning!
Aysha Armijo-CWP (Certified Wedding Planner, ABC)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Found hearts event planning in Los Lunas is a boutique wedding planning service offering wedding consulting and wedding design services that are as creative as they ... I am having the time of my life as a wedding planner! I am very blessed to have as many weddings as I do, but I know that I still have a lot to learn. I am also a Major is the Army reserves and that takes some of my time away from my business.
1-Albuquerque and Santa Fe are full of festivities and events year round so be sure to know what is going on around your wedding venue during certain months. For example, the International Balloon Festival occurs every October and finding a hotel in the Albuquerque area becomes very difficult. Many hotels will not allow room blocks for your guests during this month so be sure to shop around or book way in advance.
Galina Nemtsov Wohl-CWP (Certified Wedding Planner, ABC/Coordinator & Concierge)
Churchville in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Hi! I am the owner of Deserve Your Time LLC, Special Occasion Planning & Concierge Services. My extensive experience as a personal executive assistant, wedding planner and coordinator coupled with my passion for wedding planning, make my company and wedding services we offer valuable assets in helping today’s bridal couple to achieve their goal for a perfect stress-free wedding.
Here are some tips on how not to spend lots of money where you don’t need to for your wedding day:
You don't need to spend a fortune on the fancy linens. White linens will always stay classy and elegant. If you choose to go with white linens, you can upgrade on the color choice of your napkins. Pair them with a lush floral centerpiece and you have a beautiful table setting.
These days, you can't find an ugly wedding invitation. Consider picking just one upgrade for your invitations - like foil embossing or an envelope lining to make your suite stand out.
You and your guests don't need them. Guests like to be surprised; they don't need to know step by step what will come next. You can always write all the information on a framed sign and place it at the entrance of the ceremony before guests get seated.
4-The Champagne Toast
Most people don't even like champagne that much, so you don't have to do the toast with champagne. By the time the champagne toast comes around, guests already have their drinks and are ready to toast with what they are drinking instead of champagne.
5-The most important thing is making your wedding authentic to both the bride and the groom and having the wedding in a style that matches your personalities. Your guests would want to see a happy couple get married and celebrate with you, whether it's over a four-course meal or a piece of cake.
6-I’m very fortunate to live 20 minutes away from one of the most favorite getaways in Bucks County PA, Peddler’s Village. This place is magical with a picturesque setting, perfect for any occasion, especially weddings. If you would like to have your wedding there, you need to keep in mind that there are lots of different events going on throughout the year; festivals are very popular at Peddler’s Village. My tip to bridal couples would be, to stay away from the festival weekends in order to avoid the crowds. Also, you wouldn’t be able to get the hotel reservations for you and your guests or book your wedding date during the festival months, May through December every year. Book your wedding date at least 2 years ahead of time. A professional wedding planner will be able to assist you in picking your wedding date and helping you to plan your wedding stress free.
JoAnn Moore- MWP, CWC, CGWP (Master Wedding Planner, ABC-Assoc. of Bridal Consultants, Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, ACPWC- Assoc. of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, Certified Green Wedding Planner-Wedding Planning Institute)
Northern Nevada/California regions, Lake Tahoe
Owner, JoAnn Moore has designed and directed events in the Vail Valley and Colorado High Country since 1981 and now producing wonderful events in the Northern Nevada/California regions, Lake Tahoe. Many of the wedding’s JoAnn has designed have been featured in various publications including The Knot Colorado Magazine, Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine, The Reign Magazine, Vail Valley Wedding Guide, Premier Bride Magazine, Colorado Weddings Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, Beaver Creek Magazine, MarthaStewartweddings.com, elegantwedding.com and featured on American Bride TV. She has appeared as the “Wedding Expert” on TV8 in Vail, Colorado and has been seated as an expert panelist on various wedding professional events including Wedding Wire Professional Panelist. JoAnn was voted “2007 Wedding Planner of the Year” by Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine and was a finalist for the Vail Valley Success Awards 2009 Small Business of the Year Award. She has been awarded Wedding Wire’s Brides Choice Award for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2011, 2013 and 2014, 2015 and Hall of Fame for 2016 from the Knot. JoAnn was presented with the Vail Resorts “Iconic Weddings” award for 2014. Recently, JoAnn was a guest speaker at the 2014 Association of Bridal Consultants International Wedding Industry conference at a Sandals property in Whitehouse, Jamaica.
JoAnn is the mother of five kids, all grown with two in college. Her husband Charlie of 23 years is a Fire Chief serving the county of Washoe, in Northern Nevada. JoAnn travels from Colorado to Tahoe Regions for wedding celebrations.
What could be more picturesque than a mountain winter scene with amazing ski slopes, champagne powder snow and one of the many charming resort towns? But what you may not know is one of the best kept secrets in Colorado is the summer scene where destination weddings are breaking out in a big way. Couples choose a Mountain wedding in Colorado, Wyoming, California and Utah to name a few ideas, to embrace a celebration filled with adventures and activities for an entire weekend. Many wedding guests visit for the wedding weekend and make it a vacation for the week.
Imagine yourself on top of the world, standing at 10,000 feet above sea level reciting your vows. Many of the mountain resorts have embraced destination weddings by constructing wedding decks that capture exquisite views of mountain ranges surrounding you and your guests. Add some turquoise sky, vast forests complete with meadows of wildflowers and views of a crystal clear lake and you quickly realize you are in full mountain paradise.
Couples choose a destination wedding for several reasons. Some couples desire a smaller more intimate wedding. These couples may have memories of family vacations in Colorado and still other couples have enjoyed winter ski or summer hiking trips together choosing to share their love for Colorado with their family and friends. Geographically speaking, the Western Mountain Regions are close to the center of the country allowing for both the east and west coast guests to travel in a short amount of time.
Here are a few things I recommend to couples before planning their wedding in Colorado.
1-Resort towns can be more expensive than your hometown wedding. Know your budget and consult with a wedding planner before the invitations go out to ensure you can make all your ideas happen. Cutting back on guest numbers is a great way to stretch your budget.
2-Educate your guests as to the effects of high altitude. Dehydration comes on quickly and the sun at high altitude is more intense. Provide your guests this information on your wedding website and again when they arrive. Guests with health issues should speak with their doctor before traveling to high altitude for a visit.
3-Reserve your venue sites for your ceremony and reception early as the best venues and vendors book up as much as one to two years out. Plan for an appropriate number of guests when considering these venues.
4-If possible, be flexible with your wedding date. A wedding during the week can be more affordable at venues allowing your guests to enjoy the rest of the week and weekend to explore that entire mountain resorts have to offer.
5-The time of year can make a difference in availability of venues and vendors as well. The busier summer months run the end of June to the end of July. Early fall weddings add the colorful changing aspen leaves and venues are usually more available at the end of September and into October. Again, consult with your wedding planner to assist you with picking the right date for you.
6-Plan at least one trip to the mountain resort you’ve selected if possible early on in the planning process. Visit your venues, meet your vendors, taste the menu and work with your wedding planner to assist with bringing your vision of design, details and timing to life. Your wedding planner will have vendor recommendations that fit your design ideas and budget.
7-Plan a few hosted or non-hosted events for you and your guests. If you want to arrange for a white-water rafting trip for everyone but the price tag is too expensive for your budget to pay for all your guests, then offer the trip as a non-hosted event. You can make the arrangements but make it clear your guests will be paying for the excursion on their own if they choose to participate. Make suggestions and provide the information about other activities such as horseback riding, kayak lessons, golf courses, shopping, spa visits, nature walks, and Zip-Line adventures and be sure to inform your guests of baby-sitting services.
8-Understand the ever-changing mountain weather. Summer afternoon thunderstorms can be a common occurrence. If your ceremony is outdoors, always have a back-up plan and a way to inform your guests of a change in location. I have planned and directed hundreds of weddings in the Mountain- High Country. I have had to use a back-up plan less than a dozen times - but I always have one!
9-Ask your wedding planner about other activities and special events in the Mountains Resort towns for your wedding weekend. Most resorts have ongoing special events you and your guests will enjoy which include art shows, mountain-man competitions, bicycle and running races, concerts, fishing tournaments and even rodeos.
10-Don’t forget about the night life which includes fabulous award winning restaurants, breweries, night clubs and star gazing. There is a little something for everyone.
If your wedding celebration is intended to provide your guests with an amazing experience that includes panoramic views combined with a rich and elegant western culture, you won’t have any problems bringing your vision to life. With the assistance of a professional wedding planner, your wedding celebration will succeed beyond your expectations. Congratulations and happy planning!
Kathi Evans – AWP (Accredited Wedding Planner, ABC)
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
Kathi Evans, AWP ™ is the owner and lead planner of All the Best Weddings & Celebrations. She is a Certified Sandals Sales Specialist, a member of The Knot Hall of Fame and has won numerous other awards including NJ Bride Love It and Wedding Wire Couples Choice. Kathi and her husband will have 2 children each with a spouse and twin grandsons. When not planning events you’ll find Kathi in her kitchen baking or out in her garden, or taking care of her rented chickens in the spring through fall. All the Best was started in the fall of 2004 and it became a full time job in February 2005. Event planning isn’t a job to Kathi – it’s her passion. She says she was born to do this!
1-Plan B for ceremony: Here at the Jersey Shore outdoor weddings are big – especially at the beach. When planning outdoor events it’s (highly) recommended to have a detailed Plan B in place BEFORE the event date so that last minute decisions based on weather can be made without panic. Include an extra insert with your invitation that indicates the Plan B location (“In case of inclement weather our ceremony will be held at The Holiday Inn at 6:00pm instead of 2:00pm at the beach. Any changes will be posted on our website www.ourweddingwebsite.com no later than noon on the day of the wedding or you can call 732-555-1234 for updated information”). Make sure the phone# given is to a phone that no one is using before the ceremony. Don’t forget to put a plan in place to notify your ceremony professionals too (photographer, Officiant, musicians, videographer, florist, etc).
2-Marriage Licenses: That Plan B might include your wedding ceremony taking place in a different location than what’s on your marriage license. In NJ that means you have to apply for 2 different licenses and return the unused one to the appropriate municipality on the next business day after the wedding. If neither the bride nor groom lives in NJ that means a visit to both appropriate town halls to apply for and explain why you need 2 licenses.
3-Plan B Options: The Plan B could be as easy as putting up a tent (that you’ve already got on reserve) at the original location. You will probably have to put a non-refundable deposit down on the tent. OR it could mean moving the ceremony to an indoor space such as the dance floor of your reception venue. This may result in your venue charging an additional fee. It might also mean the time of the ceremony has changed. If you allocated 2 hrs. between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception and you move the ceremony to the reception venue that means guests will go right from ceremony to cocktail hour.
Mary Jacobs - owner/lead coordinator
Mary Jacobs (owner/lead coordinator) has spent the last 21 years in the special events field, with a uniquely varied background giving her a perspective not always found in event coordinators.
With extensive experience in all phases of event planning, catering, decor and concept building with some of the most prestigious companies, chefs and venues in the area, Mary offers an understanding of events from every angle that is all her own.
1-If you are having a church wedding, always contact the church you intend to be married in to inquire about dates, availability and requirements BEFORE you book a venue or any other vendors. Doing the reverse will often cause issues or can even lead to your church turning you away.
2-KNOW YOUR BUDGET! Understanding what you have to spend (or not spend) will help you to write your guest list, select vendors, venues, attire and anything else you can imagine.
3-After you have your budget established and have decided on how many guests you can afford to attend, only visit venues which are within your budget and can accommodate your guest list. There is nothing worse than visiting a property and falling in love with it, only to find out it is thousands of dollars out of your price range or can't hold enough people.
4-The same applies to bridal attire! If you have $1,500.00 to spend on a dress, don't try on dresses that are $4,000.00! All it will do is leave you thinking about the dress you fell in love with but couldn't have.
5-For barn or outdoor weddings, remember...it's not just the food, the space rental and the booze that cost money...know what you need to rent! Rentals (i.e. table ware, tents, restrooms, kitchen equipment, dance floors, tables, chairs) can BLOW your budget out of the water!
6-Also for barn or outdoor weddings, who is going to run your event? Does the property have a coordinator who is there on the day of your wedding? Who will run your ceremony? Who handles the logistics? Never assume that this will just be handled...have a plan!
7-Meet your vendors face to face! All couples have their own style, personality and ideas. So it would stand to reason that every vendor (i.e. caterer, DJ, photographer) does as well. Just like in your everyday life, there are personalities that "click" and those that don’t; such is the truth with event professionals. Not every pro will be a perfect fit for every couple. You want to find this out now and not on your wedding day.
Mark's Note: I have worked for many years with Mary in different capacities and she is one of my tops choices in our area due to her experience in different fields, her straight forward approach and whimsical personality. She over-delivers every single time.
Meagan Phillips- AWP (Accredited Wedding Planner, ABC)
Meagan Phillips is a wedding planner, designer, and founder of Southern Glam Weddings & Events. Based in Tampa, Florida, Meagan plans a limited number of once-in-a-lifetime weddings and events each year.
She loves the details that go into planning a wedding or event. This Georgia-born lady holds on to her Southern roots by way of her hospitality and manners, but also loves luxury, glamour and just about anything that sparkles in the light. Meagan earned a degree in Marketing from the University of South Florida and holds a Meeting & Event Planning certificate from USF as well. She was trained by the Association of Bridal Consultants, earned ABC's Accredited Wedding Planner designation, and is distinguished graduate of ABC’s Professional Development Program.
1-Consider Wedding Insurance
Even weddings with perfect planning can be subject to an uncontrollable situation taking place. What happens if something pops up that threatens to alter, cancel, or postpone your wedding? For instance, what would you do if a hurricane was predicted to hit the day of your wedding? What if the photographer never provided photos after tying the knot? A sudden illness or accident strikes before you can say “I do” and you need to postpone, what do you do? Wedding insurance ensures your big day goes as planned and protects your finances if an unfortunate situation arises. It is recommended that all couples consider purchasing a policy, just in case, because we all know that Murphy’s Law is the most notorious wedding crasher.
2-Read Your Contracts
All too often couples fail to read the contracts they are receiving from prospective vendors before signing on the dotted line. It’s no surprise when they end up disappointed and confused after the wedding. While contracts do exist to protect the business, these documents should also be mutually protective of the client too. Before applying your signature to any wedding related legal document, read it. Ask questions. Be sure you fully understand the terms you are legally entering into with that business.
3-Prioritize Your Budget and Align Expectations
Every wedding has a budget and sticking to that budget can be a feat. Once establishing a realistic budget that works for you, then it’s time to research and educate yourself. What does a photographer actually cost in your area? How about entertainment, wedding planners, caterers, and florists? Sure, you will get varying degrees of pricing and experience, but generally, the more experience and quality, the higher the fee. If a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Prioritize your budget, align your expectations, and be confident in your vendor decisions.
If you are a wedding planner and located in different areas other than the pros who contributed above and would like to be added to this blog, please email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to have more of you here with us!