Pro Wedding Planning Advice

Advice Our Favorite Wedding Pros Share With Their Just-Engaged Besties

After you get engaged, expect to get bombarded with unsolicited advice. Aunt Martha suddenly has strong opinions on types of food that should be served. Your cousin Jared “knows a great guy” who can DJ. Your BFF is already making outfit demands. Those first few weeks are … noisy.

Unless of course, your close circle is made up of wedding pros. So let’s take a moment to pretend that’s the case, shall we? We asked some of our favorites what their advice is to their friends when they first get engaged, and we got some actually great responses that are worth writing down.

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First I would tell them to take a breath! Everyone is going to be asking you the what, where, when questions, and, of course, what are your colors! It’s okay to take some time to just enjoy being engaged. Show off your ring(s) and just celebrate! — Cathy O’Connell, COJ Events

My suggestion after you and your partner discuss a firm max budget, is nailing down the five vendors that fill up the quickest that make the biggest difference in the personalization of your wedding. Book a Planner, Venue, Caterer, Photographer, and Florist ASAP. — Conley Morris, Urban Allure Events

One thing that I have always said to couples is “When you book your venue, book your officiant.”  I know that there are many sites out there that say you don’t need to book your officiant at the beginning but honestly, without an officiant you are just having a big, expensive party! — Lori Prashker-Thomas, Ceremonies by Lori

If you’re planning your dream wedding but haven’t yet decided on a date, be open to Fridays, Sundays, and even weekdays. The guests who want to support you will still come, and you’re actually much more likely to find available vendors that you love. — Kathryn Cooper, Kathryn Cooper Weddings

You’re engaged! What is the wedding party going to wear? The suits or tuxedos are often neglected until the latter stages of planning. “Where do I start?”, “how do I organize the looks for everyone?” and “can I keep the price for groomsmen reasonable enough without having to rent?” are common questions.Organizing special custom suits that everyone can keep and wear again and again doesn’t have to be a daunting process or overly expensive. Sartoro makes the process simple, fun and reasonably priced. So while you may be just embarking on your planning journey, find out if Sartoro can make ticking one thing off your to-do list that little bit easier and a lot more stylish. — Jordan Allen, Sartoro

I think couples often overlook guest comfort in certain areas and it’s been my experience that this backfires into impacting the couple themselves. Sometimes, a couple can select “their favorite” idea, food, or thing. When really, it may not work for a group as a whole. Ultimately, what works for the group as a whole keeps the party going longer and the couple is much happier. There are plenty of ways to infuse personal touches and ensure all are comfortable and happy! — Amber Anderson, Refine for Wedding Planners

You don’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations of what a wedding should look like.  Allow yourself the freedom to plan a celebration that uniquely reflects you and your partner and the love that you share. — Kat Braman, Kat Braman Photography

As a couple, you may want to find your own area to keep information up-to-date for your potential guests, i.e. a wedding website! In this centralized location, you can add as many or as little details as you are planning. Your friends and family might want to hear the whole story on how you met, how you got engaged and more! Plus, you can add images of yourselves and your future family/wedding party details as it comes. You can keep this as private or as public as you want as you get settled into the wedding planning zone! — Jennifer Sulak, Pink Light Images

Focus on what parts of your wedding experience are most important to you. Do you want to spend more money on the band or flowers or photographer? Keep a spreadsheet and make lists as you go. — Tajlei Levis, The Wilburton

A wedding planner should be your first booking! He/she/they will guide you through the entire planning process starting from beginning to end. You can reap the most benefits of your working relationship by bringing them on from the start of planning. Many have unadvertised venues in their back pockets and negotiated discounted rates with vendors so the sooner you book, the sooner you save not only money but also your sanity! — Nora Sheils, Rock Paper Coin

Have a solid plan for how you are going to make wedding decisions together. The wedding planning process is full of so many choices and options. The couple needs to figure out how to really listen to each other, find a way to be honest about their feelings and figure out how to compromise. — Shannon Tarrant, Wedding Venue Map

There’s a reason those planning timelines have been around forever. It’s because they work! Even if you’re planning on short notice, following the order of booking vendors makes it much easier to pull your wedding together. If planning becomes overwhelming, think about the three things that are most important to you as a couple when it comes to your wedding day and vendors. Put your time, energy, and resources into them and the rest will come together. — Simeon Traupe, Meadows Event Center

Begin with the Energetic Guest List. Before you begin writing names of all the people who you might invite, first consider the energy that you want to be surrounded with on your wedding day. Once you write down a single name, your mind is clouded with a mix of their expectations and what you’ve seen before. First think and feel about what a private wedding (just the two of you) would feel like. Then, an elopement (the two of you and a few select others), then a family wedding (which includes bio+chosen family). Next, consider intimate (that’s your inner circle). Finally, consider how a community wedding would feel, which is our typical image of a 100+ person guest list. — Maureen Cotton, The Soulful Wedding

Venue selection drives everything else – date, budget, ambiance, vendors, guest accommodations, and many other factors. Do NOT sign a venue contract without having done a rough evaluation of how your other priorities would be accommodated there (both logistically and cost wise). — Sarah Davidson, HUE by Sarah Davidson

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