CHOOSE THE LOCATION & SET THE DATE
Try to limit your ideas of ceremony and reception locations to a manageable number and then start visiting them. Ask about rates, availability and services included. Remember to get everything in writing pertaining to money, i.e., deposits, etc.
Keep notes on the number of guests each facility can accommodate and any restrictions they have.
Visit churches/synagogues and find out about their wedding policies, spiritual preparation requirements (i.e. pre-cana classes), ceremony options, fees, restrictions and availability.
You can choose your date based on the information you have gathered at each location. Once you have carefully reviewed your options for both the ceremony and reception, choose what fits your style and budget best and set the date. Make sure your date is appropriate for your honeymoon plans and work schedules.
CONSIDER THE OFF SEASON
Many reception halls have peak seasons and are willing to discount your fees if you choose a less hectic month or a Sunday reception instead of a Saturday night. Also, if you are planning a hotel wedding, consider going outside of the "big city" and investigate your options at local airport or suburban hotels. You may find you get more for your money.
Once you have chosen your date, you can start booking other services-photographer, florist, limousine, etc.
CHOOSING YOUR CATERER
If your wedding reception is at a hotel or banquet facility, the you will most likely not need a caterer. You will rely on their staff to provide the services you need. If you do require outside catering services, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be aware of your budget at all times-and stick to it!
- Know the approximate number of guests when you talk to caterers.
- Know your style and hire some one who will work hard to achieve it.
- Don't be afraid to challenge a caterer's ideas if they contradict yours.
- Review as many menu options as possible that stay within your budget and reflect your theme.
- Get recommendations from friends and recent brides. Also, check the caterer's references.
- Sample the caterer's food and visit an upcoming event.
- Ask questions-especially regarding the services included and details in the contract. Review the contract over and over again.
- Be involved in the choices to the degree that you want. Communicate your expectations and involvement up front.
- How flexible is your caterer? Can he/she trim costs if necessary? How good are they at "crisis management"?
- Shop around and get quotes.
- Make sure your personalities click.You will be spending a lot of time together, perhaps for many months.
- Always remember… this is your day,so get what you want.
You will need transportation services for the following:
From home to the ceremony for bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen.
From the ceremony to the reception for bride and groom and wedding party.
From the reception to the wedding night hotel for the bride and groom.
IDEAS FOR TRANSPORTATION
- Rented limousines or luxury cars.
- Horse and carriage.
- Vintage cars.
- Trolley or streetcar.
- Friends or family.
How can you find a good quality band or disk jockey? One good way is to ask friends for recommendations-someone you know has probably attended a wedding lately. You can also contact your local musicians' union. They can put you in touch with artists who will meet your needs. If possible, try to arrange to hear performers in advance-it's the best way to be sure of hiring musicians who play the style and repertoire you want.
- Vocalist, harpist, guitarist, adult/children's choir, trumpet, flute, piano, organ.
- Harpist, violinist, piano, flute, band/orchestra, disc jockey.
You may want to have one form of music during cocktail hour and another for after-dinner dancing.
When your wedding day is over, all you will have left are your memories and the photographs to keep for years to come. So make sure you have the best photographer you can afford.
Start by looking at albums of family and friends and ask around for references. Look for ads in local bridal magazines.
Before you select your photographer, do your homework and know what you want. The options are limitless:
- Black & white or color, or both?
- Posed shots vs. candids?
- Portraits in studio or at wedding?
- How many family and guest shots?
- What do you want your album to look like?
- Inside or outside shots?
Make sure your photographer is easy to work with and has a clear understanding of what you want. Find out all costs, including shooting time, proofs, packages, prints, retouching and specials.
Provide your photographer in advance with a "shot list". This will serve as a schedule for him to plan his day and will help ensure he gets all your requests on film.
In addition to your professional photographer, you can also ask friends to bring cameras. Sometimes the best shots are those taken by an amateur.
Another fun idea that is gaining popularity is having disposable cameras at each guest table. Your guests can have fun throughout your reception capturing the moments that your photographer can't.
YOUR WEDDING VIDEO
The beauty of video is that you can preserve your wedding-exactly as it happened-for years to come. It also allows you to see your wedding from a different perspective when you return from your honeymoon. You'll be surprised how much of your wedding was a blur until you see your video.
As with the photographer, be sure to see sample tapes and get references. Shop around and get costs up front for shooting time, editing and duplication.
Know the type of wedding video you want. You may prefer an entire "production", featuring childhood clips and special effects. Or you may just want simple highlights from the ceremony and reception. Be aware that the prices will vary widely for each of these. Your videographer should know exactly what your expectations are.