The Biggest Seating Chart Mistake!

The Biggest Seating Chart Mistake!

Wedding Seating Charts

They are hugely popular on Pinterest, and can allow you to get really creative with your wedding design. But I want to talk about the biggest seating chart mistake that couples make.  There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind before deciding to have a seating chart, however.  So make sure to check out this article here to learn more about the argument of place cards vs. seating chart

But that’s not what we’re talking about today.  What I’m hear to tell you about today is one of my biggest wedding related pet peeves, and it’s all about seating charts!  

So, you may have already started looking for images of seating charts, and I would bet that what I’m about to share went unnoticed.  Many of the most seating charts that you see on Pinterest or Instagram are laid out by table number.  It’s the most visually pleasing format, as it allows for relatively even groupings of 8-10 guest names per section. 

Don’t Make this Mistake!

But let me tell you why that is a big mistake, and one of my biggest frustrations on a wedding day!  Seating charts are ofter placed by the entrance into a reception room.  Doing this allows guests can find their table number as they are entering the space.  If they need to search though 10+ lists to find their name, it’s going to create a long bottleneck at the door, and throw your timeline off.  Plus, it’s just frustrating for your guests to not only have to wait in line to find their name, but search through all those table groupings once they get to the chart.   

 

Alphabetical is the Way to Go!

If you list them alphabetical by last name, they will be able to find their name very quickly.  This means the wait time will be reduced SIGNIFICANTLY.  I know, I know, it’s not as nice to look at with things aren’t perfectly lined up and symetrical.  I get it, it can definitely trigger my OCD sometimes too.  But I PROMISE you that you can still format it to look nice, and be the most functional at the same time.

One last thing to keep in mind as you are looking for your seating chart designer/printer.  Just because the image that you see on Etsy or Pinterest is shown with the groupings by table number, doesn’t mean that’s the only option.  Ask the designer if you they can do the same chart alphabetical by last name instead.  The will most likely be able to accommodate!

Oh Look! You can watch me rant in person about this!

When should I send out my Wedding Invitations

When should I send out my Wedding Invitations

When Do I Send out My Wedding Invitations?

It’s one of the most commeon wedding planning questions I get, so let’s get to the answer!  For the most part, it’s pretty straight forward, but we’ll explore some things to consider. 

If you’re looking for a quick visual, skip to the end, we have an infographic to pin to Pinterest 🙂 

Like many things in the wedding planning world, we’re going to start at the end and work our way backwards: 

  • 1 – 2 Weeks before the wedding – Your guest counts will be due to your venue, caterer, and other vendors
  • 2-3 Weeks before your counts are dueWhen your RSVP due date should be (make sure to give yourself 1-2 weeks “buffer” to follow up with those still missing
  • 4 Weeks before the RSVP due date – Mail out your wedding invitations 

Four weeks?! I know, that sounds like so much time, doesn’t it? But the post office isn’t called “snail mail” for nothing and in the last few years, the “snail” has gotten slower. So let’s figure a week for the invitations to get to your guests and another week for the response cards to be returned to you. Four weeks now doesn’t seem so long.

Other Questions about Mailing Wedding Invitations:

  1. Should I mail out international invitations earlier?

Yes – maybe a week or two earlier.  Please also make sure they you’ve determined what additional postage might be needed!

2.  Can I send my invites out earlier than 4 weeks before the RSVP due date?

Sure, but PLEASE don’t send them out more than 6 weeks before the RSVP day. If you send out your wedding invitations too early, your response rate is going to go down significantly.  The longer your guests have the invitations, the longer you are giving your guests to forget to return the response cards.

2.  What about a destination wedding? Should your invitations be mailed earlier for a destination wedding?

If you are having a destination wedding, I suggest that you send out save the dates at least 6 – 8 months before the wedding.  Then send out your invitations 8 weeks before the wedding. If you aren’t sending out save the dates, send your wedding invitations 6 – 8 weeks before a destination wedding. Everyone who is close enough to you to travel to a destination wedding knows when your wedding is and has already made plans. 

If you scrolled to the end for the fast answer, send out wedding invitations 8 weeks before your wedding date!

Here is a pinnable infographic to help you figure out your date! 

 

What Wedding Vendors do I Need

What Wedding Vendors do I Need

Once you have your venue and date secured, it’s time to start thinking about the rest of the team.   So how do you determine what wedding vendors you need?  

Most couples will have the following “core”members in addition to their venue:

Wedding Vendors You Need

 

Wedding Officiant 

A very important vendor, especially if your ceremony is NOT going to be at a religious institution.  Some couples opt to have family or friends take on this role, but it is also a professional position.  

Caterer/Bar

If your venue does not offer catering, you will need to hire an off-site catering company for food beverage services.  Some venues have strict requirements on who you can hire, others don’t have any restrictions. 

Music (ceremony and reception) 

Most couples go right to the question of band vs. DJ when they think about music, but don’t forget the ceremony and cocktail hour!  Many bands and DJs can provide this service, but it’s also a great time to add in a jazz trio or string quartet!

Photographer 

This one’s pretty obvious, you’re gonna want a photographer!

Florist 

If you are doing your own flowers, please remember these projects can’t be done more than a day or so in advance. This is already a busy time with final appointments and wrapping up other details. Adding in floral arranging can make those few days before the wedding unnecessarily stressful.  

Baker 

Similar to your caterer, this might be something that your venue already handles.  If not, make sure to ask if they have any required bakers that you must use, or if they must be a licensed bakery

Hair & Makeup 

Most brides choose to have professionals do their hair and makeup for their wedding day.  Before you can secure them, you’ll need to decide on where you will go (in salon vs. house/hotel), and how many in the wedding party will need services. Don’t forget those outside of the wedding party that might want to participate, like moms, grandmas, or siblings.  

Stationer (invites and other paper products) 

What’s the point of having a party if you don’t tell anyone about it, right?!?

What Wedding Vendors are “Optional” 

Wedding planner 

I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I truly believe that having a professional wedding planner on your team is the best sort of insurance you can have for your wedding.  Having a planner involved from the beginning (before securing any venues or vendors) can ensure that you are looking at the right options for your style and budget.  

Many of our full service clients hire us AFTER booking their venue, and are locked into pricing that may work with their overall budget.  A good planner will save you money in the long run, and will save you from many stressful moments and planning headaches.  If you are thinking of hiring a full service planner, they should be the very first thing that you book! 

”Day Of” coordinator

While nothing beats the personal attention that you get from a full service planner, I highly recommend you have at least a “Day Of Coordinator”.   The name is deceiving though, as no professional can simply show up on the wedding day and be able to execute things seemlessly.  

Most planners begin their Day Of services a month or two before the wedding.  They will go through the details and suggest any adjustments or things that you may have overlooked.  They will connect with all of your vendors, and make sure all of the details are taken care of before the wedding day.  On the actual day, they will help to run the event, working with all of your vendors to bring it all together.  

I often refer to us as the “Team Captain” of the wedding vendors.  Our role is to make sure everyone has what they need to make the day absolutely perfect! 

Note on Venue Coordinators-

Many locations have in-house coordinators, some even calling themselves Day Of Coordinators.  Do not mistake this for having an outside planner involved in the wedding day.  The venue coordinator is there as the point person for any venue and catering details for that day.  They will most likely NOT be involved with the other vendors, wedding party, or other specific details that an outside planner would be there to cover for you.  Many times they are covering other events happening at the venue that day, and will be taking other appointments and tours while they are there.

          Generally speaking, their focus will be divided that day, whereas an outside planner will be dedicated to your wedding alone, making sure nothing is missed!  

Videographer

I often hear that couples would love to have a videographer, but it’s just not in the budget.  While I totally understand this, there’s nothing like hearing your vows, or relive your first dance on your anniversary.  Hiring a professional videographer is an investment, but please do give it some consideration.

Transportation 

This is typically pretty cut and dry, and very dependant on the venues you’ve booked.  If everything is in one location, you’re lucky enough to skip this category!  Many times, however, the ceremony and reception are in different locations, or maybe you want to take photos at on offsite location.  In this case, you will most likely have to arrange for a limo or shuttle for at least the wedding party.  Additionally, if you have a significant number of guests that live out of town, it’s often a nice consideration to arrange for them to get from the hotel to the venue locations, as they are most likely not familiar with the area.  

Rentals 

This is another category that is dependant on the venue that you’ve booked with.  Most will have what we refer to as “house” items, meaning the tables, chairs, and linens that come with the space.  If you’re at a more bare bones venue, you might be required to rent all of these items.  Alternatively, some couples simply don’t like the house options, and will choose to rent items that fit their design or look better.  

Outside of the necessary tables, chairs, and linens, so other common items that couples will rent are charger plates, lounge furniture, dance floors, and draping.  These are all optional, but can really change the overall feel of the event.  Many rental companies will offer special rates if things are booked together, or at the very least, you’ll save on delivery/set up costs if you book rental items together.  

Lighting 

If you’d really like to transform the look of your space, lighting can make a huge difference.  Dance floor lighting and uplights are the most common,  butchat with your lighting company about additional options.  Bistro lights, pinspotting, truss lighting, and stage lighting are not as common, but can also make a huge impact on the event design.

Photo booth 

While the traditional booths are still popular, there are now many other alternatives to consider.  This includes “open” concepts, live streaming, or other fun twists on the initial concept that include posting to social media.  Another fun throwback that’s been trending recently is a “DIY” photo station with poloroid cameras.  This allows your guests to take their own photos anywhere at the event, and they can incorporate these into a keepsake guest book.

Now that we’ve discussed WHAT wedding vendors you need, take a look at this post to learn more about how to hire your wedding vendors!

 

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Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

 

 

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

One of the most common questions I get is what wedding vendors should we tip.  There are many different variables that can come into play, but I can share some general advice and suggestions for what to consider when putting together your vendor gratuities.  

There are some vendors that require a gratuity for their staff.  Most often, this is written into your contract and added to the final balance.  These vendors typically include your caterer and/or reception venue, transportation, and beauty team.  So, make sure to check your contracts with these vendors to see if your gratuity has already been included, or if there is a required amount you are responsible for. 

After that, gratuities can be considered for those vendors who have helped make your day special.  The unwritten rule is that if the vendor works for someone else (for example, a photographer shooting for a larger company), it is more common to give them a gratuity.  On the other hand, ff they are the owner of the company, it is less common to give them a gratuity.  My personal opinion, if you’re grateful for that persons role in your big day, it’s never a bad thing to show your appreciation!  If you have had issues or concerns, don’t feel the need to give them a gratuity.

If you’re unsure if you want to give a wedding vendor a tip, you can certainly hold off until after the wedding.  You can always mail a gratuity or thank you card or gift after the wedding 

What Wedding Vendors Expect a Tip?

  • Catering/Bartenders/Wait staff
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Transportation
  • Officiant/Church
  • Ceremony Musician

What Wedding Vendors are Optional? 

  • Photo/Video
  • DJ/Band
  • Planner
  • Baker
  • Florist
  • Photobooth/Entertainers
  • Rental Companies
  • Venue Coordinator  

How much do you tip vendors? 

The only real “protocol” would be the standard 15-20% that you would consider in the rest of the hospitality world.  However, if you paid $4,000 for a photographer, they are definitely not expecting a $600-800 gratuity.  I typically recommend you consider how much this vendor helped you throughout the planning, and anywhere between $50-200 would be appropriate. 

Alternatives to a cash tip?

However, your budget might not allow for you to tip all the vendors you would like.  There are alternative ways you can  show your appreciation.  For instance, if you know your DJ loves a certain kind of beer, or your photographer loves a good glass of wine, pick up a case or bottle for them.

Another way to show your appreciation is to leave them a review on sites like WeddingWire and TheKnot.  You can also make sure to “tag” them in your post-wedding social media pics, and make sure to recommend them to friends and family.  That can go A LOT further than even the most generous tip!

One last tip!

On a similar note, I have a recommendation for handling any final payments that will be due on the wedding day.  While most of your vendors will require final payment in full well before the wedding day, some will will be due  the day of.

 I strongly recommend that you take care of these payments beforehand anyway.  It’s very easy for you, or the designated person for this task, to get distracted and forget.  You don’t want to be in the awkward position of having a limo driver or DJ asking for money in front of your wedding party or guests!  Therefore, it’s much easier to just take care of it beforehand to avoid any inconvenient or embarrassing moments on the wedding day.

 

Wedding First Look – Why I Love Them

Wedding First Look – Why I Love Them

 

 

Wedding First Looks –

 

Why I love them

  

While planning a wedding, couples will have the conversation about whether or not to see each other before the ceremony.   

This is called the “Wedding First Look”. Some couples are superstitious about seeing each other before the ceremony.  Additionally, they want the element of surprise when they see their spouse-to-be for the first time walking down the aisle. Although holding tradition is important for many couples, there are many advantages to having a first look.

 

 

 

 

Why have a first look

1) The Timeline – The primary reason I advocate for a first look is the principle of time. It gives your photographer more time to take photos rather than capture the perfect shot with the distractions of walking down the aisle. It can be beautifully staged in a setting that is intimate, so the photographer to capture the raw emotion.

Many timelines don’t have much time between the ceremony and reception.  A first look will give the photographer dedicated time for your photosession before the ceremony.  This also means that you can attend cocktail hour! 

2) Your Enjoyment –  Most people get nervous to be the center of attention, and for the anticipation of the long awaited moment of the wedding day.  Beacause of this, I’ve noticed that couples that opt to have a wedding first look are able to relax, and enjoy the actual ceremony much more.  

By seeing your significant other before the ceremony in a private and intimate space, it allows you to get a few of the initial butterflies out of the way, which allows for you to be much more present during the ceremony and fully absorb the significance of the day.

Sticking with tradition

If you decide to be traditional and not do a first look, the moment can be just as beautiful and emotional. Remember to soak it all in because it is easy to let your emotions run the show and force you to rush. Take your time and look around to see all your loved ones who came to celebrate with you.  And make sure to talk to your photographer about when you can fit some photos of just the two of you into your day. 

 

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