12 Wedding Trends to Look Forward To in 2016

2015 was all about fierce plunging necklines, champagne fountains and deep wine-colored hues throughout! With a year filled with such classy amazingness, how could you top that?! We think, however, that this year is going to be one for the books with predicted trends like metallic color schemes, wedding dress separates, furry sidekicks, and many more! Be prepared for 2016, ladies and gentlemen, because this year’s trends are about to be bolder and more dazzling than ever!

Metallics. This year is going to be filled with metallic color schemes everywhere. Rose gold and copper are said to be the “it” color of 2016. Incorporate metallics into any aspect of your wedding – invitations, bridesmaids dresses, or even table linens!

 

Sleeves. Gone are the days of strapless, sweetheart-neckline dresses. 2016 is going to be covered (pun intended) with gorgeous designer gowns with sleeves of all sorts! From cap, illusion, or tank… You name it, it will be done!

 

Furry sidekicks. Calling all you puppy lovers out there! It’s been said that a trend for this coming year is going to involve bringing your pup along on the special day. This is by far the best thing we have heard all year (even if it is just January). So ladies and gents, grab your little fluff ball, take him to the groomers, and get ready to have lots of kisses from not only the bride!

 

Pre-ceremony cocktails. Ready to party? Pre-ceremony chatting (empty-handed) will be no more! Couples are now wanting to greet their party-comers with a bubbly refreshment to get the party started. Who’s excited?!

 

Two-piece dresses. It started with prom and now has flooded into the wedding world, and we’re not mad about it. Two part wedding dresses and removable bottom pieces are going to be seen everywhere! Looking to be a chic and sexy bride? Well you’re in luck, because this is your year!

 

Vintage engagement rings. Word of advice: Ask mom! Trending now are heirloom engagement rings! Nothing is more special than saying yes to a beautiful piece from Grandma, trust me!

 

Boudoir beauties. Boudoir sessions are an easy gift to let your husband see a little more of your sexy side. Instead of having a whole day set apart for beautifully baring it all, brides are beginning to do it throughout the morning of their big day! Hooray for knocking out two birds with one stone!

 

Jewel tones. Deep purples, royal blues, and bright fuchsias… Oh my! Some brides are on the metallic train to their big day, but if you still want that splash of color, that’s okay too! Jewel tones are here to stay for 2016, ladies.

 

Long tables. Join the family! Separate round tables are out, and long tables for many guests to sit together are in and we love it. Pass the rolls, please!

 

Lighting. Great lighting is everything, and this year, it’s not going unnoticed! Using a plethora of candles or more chandeliers than you should (because they’re beautiful, right?) is totally okay!

 

Pattern. Adding pattern into your wedding is one quick way to being the most stylish bride of the year. Checkerboard, polka dot, or color blur your way to the top!

 

2016 wedding trends mix and match furniture

My Blonde Ambitions

Mix+Match. The bride wants glitter but the groom wants matte? Bride wants glamorous, groom wants traditional? Arguing over who has better wedding ideas is exhausting. So calm down, because this year you can both win with the new trend of mixing and matching (YAY)!


With this knowledge in hand, begin pinning away and planning, ladies!

The First Look: A Bride’s Perspective

It’s incredible how ‘anti-first look’ I was up until about 3 months before our wedding. “No way is he seeing me until I walk down the aisle,” I told everyone (even when they didn’t ask for my opinion on the subject). I adored that traditional aspect of a wedding. I wanted it to be this grand, unforgettable moment – walking down the aisle in a white dress I’ll only get to wear once, Corey crying like a baby as he sees me for the first time, and our guests surrounding us, witnessing all the feels and emotions (and if it’s really dramatic like I expected, maybe Corey’s reaction would end up on Pinterest).

Groom's reactions on Pinterest

However, it only took about 10 minutes of observing post-ceremony family portraits at Castleton to change my mind. Instead of spending the first 45 minutes or so of wedded bliss alone, this couple spent it posing and smiling with 30 other family members, trying to get the kiddos to look at the camera, and sending bridesmaids to find cousin Jimmy, who’s already introduced himself to the fruit and cheese display. After all of that, the two still had to take bride and groom pictures! Guests travel from near and far for YOU, and trust me, they get a bit antsy when you’re not around because the party truly doesn’t start until you walk in.


As a bride who’s been there, done that, these are just a few reasons why I would choose to do a first look again and again:

Sharing initial emotions. If we had waited for the initial reaction to happen during the ceremony, I wouldn’t have been able to hug and kiss him and tell him how much I was ready to marry him. I wouldn’t have been able to hear him say how excited he was or if he liked my dress. We would’ve missed out on that private, intimate moment together.

Aisle jitters and distractions. I can’t explain how nice it was to see Corey, for the first time, while it was just the two of us, instead of in front of every single guest we invited. Walking down the aisle, I was too busy worrying if I had lipstick on my teeth or how fast we were walking or oh! there’s Claire, so happy she could come! Don’t get me wrong, it was still an emotional experience – you’re walking towards your best friend, your forever teammate. I still almost cried (I’m not a big crier, folks), Corey still quivered his lips, and our guests still made comments about how sweet his reaction was. Having a first look, for us, didn’t ruin “the big moment” of walking down the aisle.

Seeing you for you. The first look was a chance for Corey to assess my dress and adjust to how much makeup I was wearing (I’m a mascara-and-go kind of girl). At the ceremony, since he had already taken in how I looked, he could see me for me – his bride, walking to him ready to begin our life together. It was able to be more of a “Wow, this is really happening” moment.

Post-ceremony privacy. Because we agreed on seeing each other before the ceremony, Corey and I were able to have a much more intimate moment immediately following our announcement as Mr. and Mrs. We were able to knock out our bridal party and family photos before the ceremony, so afterwards, we could escape and be together, just the two of us (and the photographers and videographers, of course).

However, all of that being said, choosing to do a first look is completely up to you! It’s what worked best for Corey and I, but that’s not to say it works best for everyone. Talk to your fiancé about it! He might surprise you by having an opinion. In the end, it’s about what YOU want, not what the Internet tells you to do.

Read Corey’s perspective on our first look here.

The First Look: A Groom’s Perspective

Your wedding day is a blur. People tell you that, but you just won’t understand until you experience it for yourself. The ten hours I spent on property seemed like ten minutes. But there was one moment where time moved slow. All day you are preparing to tie your life to this one person. The day belongs to you and her, this one special girl that means everything to you, ya know? But then they don’t even let you see her. You are being walked around with your eyes covered and being told, “Don’t come upstairs,” for fear you might see her. That is why the first look will forever be my most vivid memory of my big day. I just wanted to talk to her. Not even about the actual day, just to say hey or make a stupid joke that only we would laugh at like we normally would. Even reading our letters to each other around the corner wasn’t good enough. Hearing her voice wasn’t good enough. I just wanted to see her.

first look on wedding day

You tell yourself you won’t cry. You won’t be cliche. You’re not like the other guys. And then she taps you on the shoulder. You turn around, and in this moment, you know that your life is going to be better from this day on. You know that no guy could ever see her like you do. All of the tears, laughs, and inevitable things about love have brought you to this moment. And it’s here, while you’re wiping tears off your new overpriced tie, you understand why a wedding is beautiful.

first look on wedding day

Fifty years from now, I will never forget the smile I saw when I turned to see my bride during my first look. Hopefully it will feel just like it was yesterday.

 

Ben Finch Photography

Wedding Planning 101: Save the Date Cards

Wedding save the date cards

There’s a ring on your finger, a groom on your arm, and a date in the books! The next few months will be a whirlwind as you begin finessing all the details of your special day, from flowers to cake to accommodations to honeymoon… but, if you’d like guests to actually attend your wedding, one of the first things you should put your mind to is your Save the Date! Here are a few key points to consider when ordering your Save the Date cards:

Letterpress save the date cards

First Impression. This really will be the first thing that your guests see regarding your wedding. This means that as fun and wacky your Halloween picture is of you two dressed up as a hotdog and hamburger, this probably isn’t the best choice for your save the date. If you’re including a photograph, this may be the first picture some people are seeing of your spouse-to-be! And of course, a Save the Date doesn’t need to have a photo at all if you don’t have one you love— we’ve letterpressed many gorgeous save the dates as an elegant first impression.

Visually Cohesive. You want your save the date to feel like it belongs with your other printed pieces. If you’re having a formal, elegant wedding, you may want to consider choosing a more formal save the date design. Better yet, when we work with a bride, we start with the invitation and then work backwards towards the save the date. After the bride has selected fonts and styling for the invitation itself (the main event!), we then apply those same character traits to the save the date, with varying details, and print that piece first. It is important that all of your printed pieces look like they are part of the same ‘family’ and coordinate well together.

Time Frame. The general rule for time-frame on save the date mailing is 5-months to 1 year prior to the wedding. However, traditional wedding invitation mailing etiquette dictates that the invitations mail drop 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding. This means that if you’re mailing the save the date 5 months prior to the event, you’re then mailing the invitation just a few months later.  Personally, I like when save the dates are mailed 6-7 months prior to the wedding. This gives guests ample time to make travel arrangements and book hotel rooms if necessary, but doesn’t feel too close to the invitation mailing date, either.

Content. The save the date typically includes the bride and groom’s names, the date of the wedding, and the city and state of the wedding. You don’t need to mention time or specific venue until the wedding invitation. Also, this is a great place to put a wedding website if you have one and even accommodation information if many people will be traveling. The more information you can give people, the less you’ll be fielding questions from guests! One hard and fast etiquette rule: don’t put your registry information anywhere except your wedding website and shower invitations. Don’t print it on the save the date, rather, direct people to the website where they can glean all of the information they’ll need to know, including registry.

Congratulations! It is definitely time to get started!

Sarah from The Happy Envelope

Tennessee wedding save the date cards

Wedding Planning 101: Dos and Don’ts of Your Engagement Shoot

Engagement pictures

Yes! I personally believe everyone should take engagement pictures, and I personally believe they should be taken, at the most, 2 months after the proposal OR during an opposite season from your wedding (to have more picture options, of course!). Why so soon? This is the fun part! The giddiness that resulted from the proposal hasn’t worn off yet, and your pictures are going to reflect those feelings and emotions. Engagement shoots are also the best way to get to know your photographer, and vice versa, before the wedding. Not to mention, you’re going to want a professional picture with your new show-stopping sparkler for your send-the-dates, am I right?


*Pro tip: when choosing your photographer, make sure you find someone you can completely be yourself around. The more comfortable you are around your photographer, the more relaxed you’ll be. The more relaxed you are, the better you look on camera! Corey can be shy and hates having his picture taken, but of course I wanted the dreamy engagement pictures every girl longs for – where the fiancé is grinning from ear-to-ear and just looks “soOoOo in love” – so I definitely felt the pressure of choosing a photographer who could break him out of his shell. I chose someone with a similar personality so that Corey wouldn’t be too overwhelmed, and after our engagement shoot (a.k.a. an entire day of having his picture taken – nothing Corey hates more), all he could talk about was how much he loved our photographer. So ladies, find someone who your man will love too! This is another secret to better, “Pinterest worthy” pictures.


 

Summer engagement picture in a boat

 

1. Do your homework! Knowing your photographer’s previous work is an absolute must so that you aren’t unpleasantly surprised when the pictures come back. Check out their website portfolio and Instagram. Each photographer has their own style, so it’s important to find a style that matches yours.

 

CoreyKellyEngagement-6

 

2. Create a meaningful backdrop. When picking your location, incorporate a place that is significant to both of you. You want your photos to reflect your personalities and represent you as a couple. Corey and I both enjoy traveling, so our photographer came up with the creative idea of doing a road trip engagement shoot. We drove all around Athens, Tennessee, making various stops and taking pictures. Corey is a big hiker and basically lives in the mountains on the weekends, so we ended the day on the top of a mountain for sunset pictures. We also asked our photographer to snap a few shots of us in the third grade classroom where we met. Those ended up being my favorites because of the memories associated with the setting!

 

ChelseaStevenEngagement-93

 

3. Complement, don’t coordinate. Once you’ve chosen the location of the shoot, it’s time to ask what to wear. You aren’t your significant other’s twin, so don’t dress like it. However, you don’t want to completely clash, so if he’s dead-set on wearing a bright yellow striped shirt, you probably don’t want to wear neon purple polka dots. Try sticking with neutral colors and simple patterns. Avoid super trendy outfits. The last thing you want is to look back 5 years later and say, “What was I thinking?!” about your tie-dye popcorn shirt. Find an outfit you’re confident in, even if that means hopping on over to the mall and splurging on a new dress.

 

TylerRachel-127

 

4. Avoid the clutter. Props are adorable but can also be distracting. Don’t drown yourself in paper photo booth props, picnic props, and picture frames. Keep it simple, and keep most of the props at home. You want to be the focus, not your things.

 

CoreyKellyEngagement-26

 

5. Act natural. Don’t overdo it, wondering if you look awkward or forcing your fiancé to kiss you a certain way. Fake laughing can be cute sometimes, but if the perfect laughing pictures you see on Pinterest are all you dream of, choose a photographer who is light-hearted and can make you genuinely laugh – even if you are a bit uncomfortable! Hug, kiss, flirt, and smile – you’re getting married after all!!! It’s okay to love on each other. The more relaxed you are and the more you interact with each other, the better your pictures are going to turn out.

 

ChelseaStevenEngagement-47

 

6. Quality, not quantity. Pinterest has created monsters out of us women. When I was planning, I ended each day by searching Pinterest, re-pinning and saving images for my vendors. Of course I had a board for engagement pictures and expected every picture to turn out exactly like the ones I re-pinned. A photographer described this pressure as being “in a race to give [couples] 40,50,100 engagement photos all with different ideas and concepts at a million locations with 3 or 4 outfits.” Sounds AWESOME…if that was realistic. You do not need 200 flawless images. I promise there are not enough walls in your house to hang every single one of those (in addition to your wedding photos), and none of your Facebook friends are going to sift through that entire album. It’s okay to think you look silly in a few of the pictures you get back! Laugh about it and be happy with the beautiful images you DID get!

Most of all, enjoy it. How often is someone going to take (professional) pictures to show you how adorable and in love you are?!

| all photos by Ben Finch |

Check out my previous posts from the Wedding Planning 101 series:

Bridesmaids Proposals

Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Saying Yes to the Dress

Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Choosing Your Date

How He Asks: All About the Proposal

An Introduction

Wedding Planning 101: Bridesmaids Proposals

With the rise in creative marriage proposals, we’ve also seen a rise in creative ways to “propose” to your bridesmaids. Pinterest is overflowing with ideas, whether it be with a simple scratch off card (almost used that one), a custom illustration of the two of you (a personal fave), or an elaborate DIY box filled with wedding goodies. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of these ideas! Take into consideration how special your bridesmaids are to you and how much time and effort (and money!) they’re about to put into your wedding day. Asking your bridesmaids in a thoughtful way will make them feel appreciated and loved (and maybe a little more willing to wear the purple polkadot dress you picked out for them).

asking bridesmaids to be in the wedding

Asking bridesmaids with scratch off card

Asking bridesmaids with DIY boxes

Of course I wanted my boxes to be overflowing with goodies for my bridesmaids, but sometimes the budget gets in the way, so I opted for a “homemade” gift package. I included a small painting, my favorite picture of us, wedding color swatches, an inspiration photo of their dresses (which I obviously ended up completely changing…about 20 times), and my favorite, a long handwritten note. Handwritten notes are my number one love language. I would so much rather write out what their friendship means to me than give them an Essie nail polish, BUT that’s just me! If your love language is gifts, speak that language, girlfriend!

However you choose to pop the question, your girls are sure to be honored to say yes and stand with you on your big day.

Asking bridesmaids with gifts

Watercolor illustration for asking bridesmaids

Asking bridesmaids with a gift card

 

If you missed my last post on choosing your bridesmaids, read it here!

Other previous posts:

Saying Yes to the Dress

Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Choosing Your Perfect Date

How He Asks: All About the Proposal

Wedding Planning 101: Meet Kelly

Wedding Planning 101: Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Choosing your bridesmaids and bridal party

Ahhh choosing your bridesmaids – one of my least favorite parts of the entire planning process. I’m a people pleaser, so of course I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’ve also been blessed to know so many awesome girls who have played a huge role in my life, and of course I wanted them all standing with me! But I knew that personally, I couldn’t handle a bridal party of 14. Remember: with girls comes drama. The more hormones floating around, the more drama, and you don’t need that on your wedding day. So, even though Darla tried her best to convince me to choose only 3 or 4, I chose 6 bridesmaids. However, that number is totally a personal preference! I’m not here to tell you how many bridesmaids you should or shouldn’t have – just here to warn you of making a rash decision because this is a big deal!

Whatever you do, do not ask your bridesmaids right after you get engaged! Think it over. Think it over again. And again. The last thing you want is to regret who you chose to stand beside you on one of the most important days of your life. Wait and ask your bridesmaids about 6-8 months out. This will give you time to make a thoughtful decision, while still giving them enough time to order their dresses, make travel arrangements, coordinate a bachelorette party, and whatever else their duties may include.

*Kel tip: shipping for most bridesmaids’ dresses is 3-4 months, so start shopping earlier rather than later!

Choosing sister as maid of honor

Maid of honor was an easy decision for me because I have an older sister and usually, sisters trump friends. In my case, I’m very lucky that my sister is my best friend, so that was a no-brainer. Otherwise, I would advise choosing your most loyal friend, not necessarily the one you’ve known the longest (also, having organizational skills is a big bonus). Your maid of honor is your right-hand girl throughout the planning process and on the day-of. She’s typically the one planning your bridal shower and bachelorette party, attending vendor meetings with you, preparing a toast for the rehearsal dinner (or reception), straightening and fluffing your dress on the day-of, and answering ALL of your late night phone calls, prepared to come help you whatever the task.

Choosing bridesmaids and bridal party

When it comes to bridesmaids, choose girls who you know will be in your life for the rest of your “firsts.” First house, first married fight, first baby. Choose a friend who you know will be honest with you to tell you that dress you love is super unflattering or that you’ve had food stuck in your teeth all day. Choose a friend who has, selflessly, listened to you ramble on and on about all of your boy problems. Choose a friend who isn’t afraid to tear up the dance floor with you, even if she isn’t the most coordinated. Choose a friend who will happily start writing when you throw 75 blank recipe cards her way and tell her they need to be done that night (I might be guilty of this…). Choose a friend who is, as I heard somewhere, your “marriage godparent,” someone who has had and will always have a personal relationship with you and your husband-to-be. Choose girls who know you and your insecurities, your emotions and what causes you to come unglued, your stress levels and how to calm you down.

If you’re still having trouble deciding, I love this point system Glamour came up with. Where was this when I was choosing my bridesmaids?!

In the next few days, I’ll be sharing a fun little post about how I asked my bridesmaids! Until then, I want to know! How did you decide who to ask? What’s your advice on the subject?

P.S. Sarah, Amy, Stephanie, LeighEllen, Becca, or Ashlyn, if you’re reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you for being the absolute best (and for staying up until 1 a.m. handwriting 75+ recipe cards).


If you’re not to this stage in the planning process yet, maybe my previous posts will help a little more!

Saying Yes to the Dress

Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Choosing the Perfect Date

How He Asks: All About the Proposal

Wedding Planning 101: Meet Kelly

 

Wedding Planning 101: Saying Yes to the Dress

Lace wedding dress

My wedding dress…ah. I was never the girl who got caught day-dreaming about what I would wear on my wedding day, and I definitely didn’t scour Pinterest throughout the wee hours of the morning (which might sound odd to all of you who know I graduated with a degree in Apparel Merchandising). I was also in an interesting situation because at the time Corey proposed, I was interning at a wedding dress boutique in Knoxville – but was still never fully into the wedding dress thing like most brides. One morning, we had some down time at the shop, so we decided to play! I tried on maybe a total of six dresses. I only felt truly comfortable in one (something you should note: I am the most indecisive person alive, so this was a miracle that I only loved one). It was whimsical, flowy, and a unique kind of vintage (not to mention, customizable – two thumbs up). Days passed, and every time I would walk by “the” dress in the shop, I would spend a few extra seconds staring at it. However, I noticed another dress in the shop that girls kept trying on and looking FAB in, so I decided I would try too. And wow, I felt like a babe in it. It sparkled and hugged my curves all the right ways. If ‘Hollywood Glam’ had a picture beside it in the dictionary, it would be of this dress.

So I was stuck. Do I choose the dress that makes me feel like a stone cold fox or do I choose the dress that makes me feel exquisite and lovely?

I always look to the opinion of others for big decisions like this, and literally everyone told me the same thing: even though I couldn’t go wrong with the Hollywood Glam dress, the first dress I loved was simply more me. It perfectly complemented my personality and resembled what I wear on a daily basis. Plus there was never a time when I tried it on and thought, “Nah, maybe not.” So that’s the one I ordered and the moment it arrived – my dress, the dress I would wear standing in front of everyone, saying ‘I do’ to my best friend – I became a girl who would daydream about what I would wear on my wedding day. I fell in love…hard. Wearing something that made me feel so beautiful and graceful was a serious dream! I wish that experience on every single one of you because it’s something no one should miss!

Bride admiring wedding dress

Ben Finch Photography


 

I tried to wrap that up quickly so I could share just a few things with you:

• Go for the dress that fits your personality. If you’re a simple, Plain Jane kind of girl, don’t buy the top-to-bottom beaded ballgown if you’re not completely comfortable in it. You’re going to look great in most every dress you try on because they’re designed to be flattering and attractive. It’s about how you feel in the dress, not necessarily how you look (but of course, looking great definitely helps!).

• SO IMPORTANT: It’s okay if you don’t cry when you think you’ve found “the one!!” Television has kind of set that expectation up for brides, so it’s easy to think there’s something better out there if the tears aren’t flowing – which is so not true!

• If you’re indecisive like me, don’t shop at every single wedding boutique in the Southeast. That gives you way too many options, and chances are, it will take you twice as long to make a decision.

• When you’re first shopping, try on every style, even if you think you’re going to hate ballgown. Most of the time, girls end up walking out with the dress they said they’d never try on!

• Start shopping a year in advance and be prepared to buy AT LEAST 6 months before the wedding, but preferably 8 months before to ensure time for delivery and alterations. Girls don’t realize how long the wedding dress process takes!

• Take a few friends or family members with you, but not an entire entourage. Too many opinions get thrown around, and you risk your feelings getting hurt and/or not being able to make a clear decision.

• Most of the time, the dresses you’re re-pinning cost $6,000+ and it’s unrealistic to even find some them. So if your budget is $1,500, don’t expect to get the exact dress you’re showing your bridal consultant with all the same features. Definitely keep an open mind!


Since I’ve spent so much time at the bridal boutique, I’ve learned SO much about wedding dresses and the process, so please feel free to use me as a resource for questions and concerns!

P.S. A huge thank you to Lea-Ann Belter for my PERFECT wedding gown!!

Wedding Planning 101: Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Wedding budgets are intimidating, I won’t lie to you. When you make a list of how much things are going to cost versus how much you’ve allotted, it can be upsetting. Pinterest has kind of ruined the wedding industry because it makes us girls believe we can have a Vera Wang gown and an explosion of seeded eucalyptus and peonies, with no price tag attached. However, have no fear! There are ways to cut wedding costs and still have your dream wedding!

Wedding inspiration on Pinterest website

In the beginning, it’s important to prioritize three things you wouldn’t mind splurging on. For me, it was photography, videography, and invitations (and of course, Froufrou Chic silk ribbon for my bouquet). My personal advice: I think photography should be on the top of everyone’s list simply because when the day is over and done, the only tangible memories you have left are the pictures. We got our wedding photos back two weeks ago and still pull up the link every day to browse through them. However, you know yourself better than I do, so if you know you really don’t care about the pictures, add something else to the list. Maybe the food is really important to you, or a beautiful, detailed 5-tier cake or a bouquet overflowing with peonies. The only person who can decide that for yourself is you!

Okay, now I’m going to tell you something no bride wants to hear but needs to. By the way, I help plan weddings on a daily basis, but I never fully understood this concept until I was a bride myself. You cannot have the high-end wedding you’re dreaming of on a $10,000 budget and expect to have 400 of your closest friends attend. Weddings, unfortunately, do not work that way. Think about it: inviting one more guest is ordering one more invitation suite (not to mention the $6 per envelope calligraphy which is all-too popular these days), one more chair (which leads to more tables and floral arrangements), one more plate of food, one more piece of cake, one more wedding favor, etc. On average, you’re paying $100 for each guest to show at your wedding, so let’s do the math. If you only cut 10 people off your list and your groom does the same, you’re saving approximately $2000. So, let’s prioritize again and think about who we really want to attend. Ask yourself: when is the last time I had an actual conversation with this person? Do I know their boyfriend/girlfriend well enough to give them a plus one? Does this person have a clue as to what’s going on in my life? Where do I see our relationship in five years? You’ll be able to start narrowing it down as you answer these questions.

Wedding in a field with guests

Ben Finch Photography

Friends at a wedding having fun

Ben Finch Photography

Honestly, creating a realistic guest list was the hardest part for Corey and I. Of course we both wanted ALL of our friends and family to come, but our budget had other plans… Be patient with each other throughout the process! Your fiancé might not understand when you first tell him, “Babe, you have [#] of people you can invite,” because guys typically don’t understand any of the wedding planning process, but with lots of thought and patience, you’ll be able to create your perfect guest list.


A few other ways to cut costs:

• Timing is everything! Think about having your wedding on an off-day, like a Friday or Sunday. You might be surprised at how much vendors will discount their services for non-Saturday events, which is why Corey and I decided to have a Sunday wedding.

• Skip the plated meal and add food buffets to your ‘must-have’ list. Plated meals require more servers, which adds to your catering costs.

• Only about 75% of your guests will eat the cake, so no need to buy the 4-tier cake for your 150 guest count. A way we cut the cost of cake was to have family and friends bake their favorite cake recipes.


 

Have other ideas? Leave a comment and let us know how you’re cutting your wedding costs!

Wedding Planning: Choosing Your Date

Watercolor monthly planner

“When’s the wedding?!” – the most asked question after your engagement announcement. I think I was even asked this question the night of the proposal! Your friends and family want to reserve your spot on their calendar as soon as possible, so be prepared to give them an answer in a timely manner. However, choosing a wedding date takes quite a bit of consideration.

The first and most important step is to set a budget. If your parents are helping you pay, take them out to dinner one night and discuss what they’re comfortable gifting to you. If you and your fiancé are financially responsible for the wedding, treat yourself to a night out and set a limit for what you want to spend. Make sure you and your partner are both on the same page, as money is one of the biggest stressors of a wedding. It’s important to start off on the right foot!

Setting a budget will help guide you when creating your guest list and choosing a venue, catering, etc. Creating your guest list is an entirely different story, so we’ll discuss that in our next post, along with ways to cut costs.

Once you have a budget you’re comfortable with, it’s time to choose your perfect day to say “I do.” Here are just a few things to consider when you’re making the decision:


 

Seasons: Think about it. If your ideal location is the beach, you’re not going to want to host your wedding during hurricane season or the dead of winter. You’ll need to consider your wedding style and what season would complement it best. Also think about how holidays will impact your wedding. For example, choosing a Christmas wedding could highly affect your guest count and vendor availability.

Symbolism: It might be super romantic to choose a date that’s significant to the two of you, such as the day you went out on your first date or your parents’ wedding anniversary. It wasn’t the determining factor, but Corey and I got married on the day after his birthday, so at least he has no excuse to forget our anniversary! – I hope!

Pricing: Your budget may be the #1 determinant of your date. Going back to seasons, you can actually cut costs by choosing to get married in the off-season (December thru March). Most venues and vendors will discount their services in these months since they’re in lower demand. Still set on being a summer bride? Days of the week also matter! Again, you can easily find venues and vendors who will discount non-Saturday weddings. Don’t immediately cross those days off your list – send out your invitations early enough so that guests can ask off of work and make travel plans.

Vendor Availability: Finally, if a certain venue or photographer is vital for you to have as part of your wedding day, check their availability! Don’t choose a date, then reach out to them and expect to be open. This is where you have to be very careful about short engagements. Venues are usually booked at least a year in advance. Dresses take, on average, 4-5 months just to come in, which doesn’t include the time for alterations. These are all things to keep in mind! There’s almost nothing worse than having your heart set on something, during the planning process, just to have it fall through. But have no fear – I promise it all works out in the end.


 

As for me, Corey and I chose our wedding date based off of a few things. First of all, Corey proposed in May and chose to have a short engagement, so we knew it would be within the same year. Then I considered our personalities. My friends will tell you that being cozy is mine and Corey’s ideal “state of mind,” so I wanted our wedding to feel warm and homey. It helps that our absolute favorite season is autumn because of the colorful, changing leaves, so it was never a question that we would get married in October.

Autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Instagram photo by @coreywolfenbarger

Think of who you are as a couple and what would reflect your personalities best! That’s how you’ll end up with the perfect wedding date.