How to Know if Full Service Wedding Planning Is Right for You

What is Full Planning, and Should You Hire a Full-Service Wedding Planner?

When it comes to wedding planning, couples range anywhere from “I have no idea what I’m doing,” to “Maybe wedding planning was actually my true calling!” Naturally for brides who have no idea where to start, hiring a wedding planner seems like a no-brainer, but for those couples who feel like they kinda-sorta have it all together, is it really worth the investment to hire a planner? And if so, how is a full-service planner different from a day-of coordinator? We’ve gathered up a few sure ways to know bringing a pro on board is the right move for you.

What Full-Service Planning Means

Essentially, there are three types of wedding planners: Full-service, a la carte and day-of coordinators. A full-service planner will do everything start to finish. They’ll wear the hat of designer, budget manager, legal counsel, coordinator and even therapist. Full planning will include everything from budget creation, vendor recommendation and hiring, to event design and management. Your planner will attend vendor meetings, create the design for your event and, most notably, make sure you don’t go over budget in the process! Typically, you’ll hire your planner as soon as you’re ready to start laying wedding plans to take full advantage of your pro’s services. This option is great for couples hosting large affairs, a wedding not in the same city you live, or those who want a pro to guide them through every step of the process.

If These Things Sound Too Good to be True, Full Service Wedding Planning Might be Right for You

Someone to help with budget constraints and management

Wedding planners spend a significant amount of time understanding the vision you and your fiancé have for your big day. In doing this, they’ll also come to realize which areas aren’t quite as must-have as others and then be able to allocate spending in the best way. Not to mention, having somebody there to keep you in check and in budget is always a great idea!

Help coordinate the entire day, rather than just one aspect

A wedding that’s divided amongst multiple venues (like a church with a separate reception space) can get tricky quickly. Even if your venue comes with a venue coordinator, that person is only responsible for coordinating the aspects the venue itself is responsible for providing – such as catering, or the space itself. They probably won’t be helping you manage the little details that make your wedding day unique and special. The last thing you and your fiancé want to worry about doing is managing details.

At a hotel or venue, they’re hosting a wedding, or two, every weekend. Your wedding planner wants to make sure your wedding day is special because it’s unique to you. Having someone who understands you is so important.

Having someone who will fight for your wedding day vision

While many vendors take on multiple weddings per weekend, or even more than one per day, your wedding planner will only be focused on your special day. The wedding planning journey really is a long one and on your wedding day you want someone there who understands your vision and will fight to the last moment to make sure it happens the way you’ve planned.

Enjoy your wedding day

Think of your wedding planner as a safety net not only on your wedding day, but throughout the entire planning process. If anything goes wrong (and something always does) your planner will be there to have your back. They’ll be the one outside wiping down your ceremony seats because of the unexpected morning rain or making sure none of your family misses those special post-ceremony photos. Your planner will make sure your only wedding day job is to soak up those precious memories with your fiancé!

Now I hope you have a better idea whether or not you should factor a full-service wedding planner – or a wedding planner in general – into your wedding day plans. It’s time to relax and get married!

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Five Honeymoon Ideas We’re Loving

Looking for a fun-filled honeymoon idea to jet-set off to after your nuptials? We’re listing our top five favorite honeymoon ideas right here.

1. Country Hopping Through Europe

I’d be lying if I said two weeks country-hopping through Europe wasn’t at the top of my dream honeymoon list (and that’s exactly why it’s number one on this list). How amazing would it be to jet set to Paris, Italy, Barcelona and Greece? I don’t know about you, but if the time and budget will allow, why settle for just one dream location? We love the idea of picking a few of your bucket-list cities and planning out your itinerary to stop in each. Flights and train rides between cities in Europe are so affordable these days, you might as well make the most of that pretty-penny plane ticket across the pond (am-i-right?).

2. Backpacking

I get it, you’re most likely spending a huge chunk of money on your wedding, so your budget might not have room leftover for five-star hotels (or hotels at all). But maybe you and your new boo still want to take an adventure of a lifetime – and it’s totally doable. Backpacking from city to city isn’t for the weak, but it could be just the adventure you need to start off your marriage. Plus, what better way to kick off a lifetime of adventure?

3. National Park Adventures

On a similar note, exploring the beauty we have right here in our own backyard can make for an amazing experience. I’m a perfect example of someone who got a passport in their hand and all of a sudden needed to see the world. I get it, I really do. But soon after leaving the country for the first time, I took my first trip to a National Park – to Yosemite National Park in California. It was hands-down the most incredible place I’ve experienced to date. Maybe leaving the USA isn’t in the cards for you and your new spouse. Plan a trip to one, or maybe even hit a few, National Parks. I promise you’ll have an amazing time!

4. All-Inclusive Resorts

So maybe adventure isn’t quite what you have in mind for your dream honeymoon. That’s totally alright! If one plane ride, on resort, and maybe even one beach lounger is what you’re looking for, an all-inclusive resort just might be your perfect trip. Destinations such as Punta Cana, Cozumel, or an island such as St. Lucia will make for a relaxing trip with your new spouse – does in the sand and endless margaritas included. Check out our post on our favorite tropical destinations when making your decision.

5. Cruising

Lastly, but definitely not least, is cruising. Are you looking for a tropical, beach-filled destination, but maybe you don’t want to stay in just one place? Cruising might be the perfect fit for you. My favorite thing about cruising is the endless opportunities to customize your trip to perfectly fit you. From endless dining options, planned excursions in different destinations, to the option to never leave the ship (and lets me honest, you don’t need to!), cruising truly has something for everyone. As an added bonus, you can practically customize your destinations and choose a ship that has everything you ever dreamed of. Warning: Once your cruise once, you just might become addicted to setting sail.

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Who Doesn’t Need A Plus One and Who are You Obligated to Give One

Just as you thought your guest list trade-offs couldn’t get any trickier, it’s time to consider who gets a plus-one and who you’re not obligated to oblige.

Who Gets A Plus-One?

We totally understand just how difficult it can be to plan your Pinterest-worthy-wedding within that oh-so-important budget.  The first step in keeping in budget is analyzing how many guests both your venue and budget can hold.  Start by realizing this: Each guest costs money, plus-ones included.  So who exactly should get a plus one?  We’re here to help you navigate the waters (or at least your guest list).

Anyone Who’s Married

It’s easy to cut out the spouse of a friend who you’ve never met off the bat, but it’s important to invite both parties in a married couple.  Think about it this way, would you want to attend a wedding without your husband/wife?  We didn’t think so.  It’s also just important to respect the duo as a union – plus, you’ll be in those shoes sooner than you know.

Anyone Who’s Engaged, Lives Together, or is In A Long-term Relationship

As with your married friend, it’s important to respect and honor their commitment.  We live in an age where many couples live together before getting married – if marriage is the end goal at all – so honoring that relationship is the right thing to do.  Now that’s not to say there aren’t situations that will require your personal judgement – your 15 year old cousin and his girlfriend for example – but the rule of thumb should be if they’ve dated for over a year, they get a plus-one.

Your Wedding Party

It’s easy to forget about your wedding party when it comes to plus-ones.  You’ve spent months with these people, they’ve gotten to know each other, plus you’ll be spending the entire day together on wedding day.  But, these people have spent countless hours helping you plan details, spending money on that bridesmaid dress without a complaint, made phone calls when your cake was late, held your dress while you peed – the list is endless.  These friends have been there for you the whole way, so it’s a courteous gesture to extend a plus-one to each of your wedding party members – who knows, they might not even accept.

An A-List Guest Who Won’t Know Anyone

Your childhood bestie moved half way across the country is a guest of honor, but single.  Sure, she might know your parents and maybe even your future hubby, but none of you are going to have time to spend with her at your wedding.  These important guests who mean the world to you get a plus-one, no questions asked.

Who Doesn’t Get A Plus-One?

Guests Who Aren’t Married, Engaged, or In A Serious Relationship

Think Cousin Brad who has a new “significant other” every few months.  While you love him and respect where he’s at in his own love life adventures, it’s not necessary to give him a plus-one to your wedding.  Now that’s not to say it’s not a nice gesture to extend if your budget allows but use your personal judgement on this one.

Office Coworkers

The subject of coworkers is a tricky group to begin with, even before considering the subject of plus-ones.  We think the easiest way to avoid the issue is to skip out on inviting coworkers all together, but we also realize you might have a work bestie or two you’d love to share in your big day.  In this case, just invite that person or two you’re close with, without feeling obligated to invite the entire office.  Make an effort to keep wedding talk to a minimum, not to hurt anybody’s feelings at work.  If you’re only inviting one friend from the office and they won’t know anybody else, give them a plus-one, but if you’re inviting two or more work friends, we think it’s a-okay to skip the plus-ones with this group.  Now for your boss, if you choose to invite him or her make sure to add a plus-one to the invite.  Chances are they’ll acknowledge the thoughtfulness, politely decline and send a gift to match the gesture.

Single Guests Who Aren’t A-Listers, You’re Not Super Close to, or Who Will Know Other Guests

Here we’re talking about your fiancé’s second cousin he or she hasn’t seen in 10 years.  Maybe your future mother-in-law insists they need an invite and to avoid an argument you oblige.  We understand that your budget might not allow for every guest to have a plus-one to begin with, so this is a perfect situation of a guest who will know other people so a plus-one just isn’t necessary.  We suggest tackling these situations on a case-by-case basis, but make sure to refer back to those ‘hard rules’ we talked about earlier to have your back.

We hope this post helped you gain a better grasp on who should and shouldn’t get a plus one at your wedding.  If you’re still in need of a little more guidance on your guest list, check out our post on how to construct an A-list and B-list to maximize your wedding budget.

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Things to Consider When Planning for A Large Guest List

Does your guest list have more than 200 people on it?  Maybe it’s even grown to that sometimes-scary 300 number?  We’re here to give you our best tips on how to plan for a large guest list.

Make Your Best Effort to See Everyone

If your guests list is large, it can seem almost impossible to see each of your guests during your reception (we totally get it).  But with a careful curation of time and events, we know you can do it.  Consider nixing the receiving line, because this can take a large chunk of time for larger weddings.  Instead, consider doing a ‘first look’ so you can take the majority of photos before the wedding.  This will allow you to attend your own cocktail hour and ultimately spend more time mingling with your guests.  If a first look doesn’t seem right for you and your future-spouse, plan a welcome dinner or invite out of town guests to your rehearsal dinner.  This way you’ll get to spend more time with these guests throughout the weekend, freeing up some extra time throughout the reception.  Make a plan to visit each reception table, as well, this way it’s easier to keep straight who you’ve seen and who’s left to visit with.

Make Sure Your Venue of Choice Comfortable Fits Everyone

There’s nothing worse than attending a wedding reception and being crammed like sardines into a tiny room, or under a not-large-enough tent (am-I-right?).  I’ve been there, you’ve probably been there, too.  Whether you anticipate a large guest list or not, your guest list should be the first thing you work on when it comes to wedding planning.  I realize it’s not the most glamorous or as fun as the many tasks to come, but it’s the foundation for everything else you’ll do.  From budget, to the nitty gritty numbers, it’s just the largest factor and will give you an idea of what’s available to you.

With that being said, don’t assume everyone won’t show up.  On average, only 10 percent of wedding guests decline.  That means if you invite 200 people, only 20 won’t show – and that’s simply an average.  Pro tip: Make sure your venue of choice can accommodate slightly more than your guest count.  This way you’ll have room for those little extras, because we don’t want you to have to give up your dreamed of photo booth to accommodate all of your guests!

Trade Out Party Favors for Something Practical + Keep Guests Up and Moving

When considering a large guest list, party favors are likely the first obvious area to save extra room in your budget.  We love the idea of replacing an item you’d already be spending on – such as drinking classes – and turning it into your party favor.  Recently I went to a wedding where they used mason jars you could personalize as the bar glasses.  This was a great way to cut down on drinkware, plus each guest got to take theirs’s home at the end of the night – it’s a win-win!  Another favorite

Ultimately, when you are planning for a large guest count, it’s important to keep the party flowing.  Getting guests up out of their seats and moving can do a lot for the party vibes.  Consider a photobooth or caricature drawing station to combine a fun experience that keeps guests entertained.  Need more ideas on party favor ideas?  Check out our post outlining our favorites.

Consider the Mess of That Make-Your-Own Station

We get it, you absolutely loved the make-your-own mojito bar at your bridal shower and you’re dying to recreate it for all of your guests to enjoy – all 257 of them, that is.  But hold up, pump the breaks and consider just how much of a mess you know it will become.  Think sticky, germy mess.  Fruit and alcohol all over the tables.  We’re not here to totally rain on your fruit-filled alcohol dreams but consider doing fun pitchers of drinks instead.  Maybe mojitos aren’t for everybody anyways.  Choose your three favorite cocktails and make them pitcher-sized for your guests to enjoy.

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