Professional Wedding Planning Advice; What The Experts Want You to Know!
Congratulations on your engagement! Now to the planning! There are so many questions when it comes to planning a wedding from what dress you are going to pick out to the desserts at the reception.
We asked some of the top wedding & event planners in Dallas a few questions to get their advice. See what the experts had to share!
“Bringing two families together for a wedding can be very stressful on a couple. What advice do you have for any bride and groom to avoid family drama on the big day?”
Bringing two families together can be extremely stressful and difficult for all involved! One way to alleviate this stress is to bring both immediate families together before the wedding planning process even begins – this way the families are comfortable with each other as the process goes on and therefore less awkward on the wedding day. You can also make both sides feel included in the planning process by including them on important decisions like menu, floral or invitations.
– KC Cloud, Owner/Creative Director, Cloud Creative Events
My advice is to keep your eyes on the prize. Marriage is the goal for all involved parties – the marriage of the happy wedding couple. Nothing else should take priority over this goal, and the knowledge of this collective goal should act as a center for all involved who love and intend to celebrate any couple planning their wedding.
– Kindt Stevens Meyers, CWP, Kindt Events
As the wedding planner, my job is to minimize the stress as much as possible on the day of the wedding. I like to sit down with the bride and groom before the wedding to discuss any potential family drama situations that may arise on the day of the wedding. We can make a plan ahead of time to address their concerns. It’s important that the couple stand together. Ignoring potential issues is a recipe for disaster. Let’s address these problems before the big day! Are there divorced parents or family members that don’t get along? Let’s be sure to seat them apart during the ceremony and reception. Let’s talk to the photographer ahead of time to avoid awkward family pictures. I encourage couples to be open and honest with family members about the vision they have for the wedding day. Ultimately, it is their special day! Communication is vital. Setting everyone’s expectations ahead of time is also important. I give everyone in the wedding party, including parents and grandparents, a checklist of the things that they are responsible for leading up to the wedding and for the “Day-of”. I also give them a detailed timeline for the wedding day. This helps keep everyone on the same page which tends to help reduce stress and drama.
– Brandy July, Owner, Brandy Rose July / Wedding + Event Planner
Bringing two different families with different family traditions and opinions always causes some tension during wedding planning. To keep drama at a minimum, I always recommend lots of transparency and communication. Google docs or similar collaboration tools allow family members visibility into guest lists and planning documents. This keeps everyone in the know so they can express concerns prior to the big day; no one likes being blindsided! If your families are local, I also recommend planning a few fun outings (think Top Golf, bowling, etc.) before the wedding that will get everyone engaged. This will make your wedding day more fun, and will set the stage for a lifetime of positive relationships!
– Jessica Martin, Owner, J. Martin Events
The worst reactions we’ve seen from tense family situations always come from couples being too nervous or afraid to tell people in no uncertain terms that they Will See Each Other at Your Wedding. Couples make this mistake because they are afraid to hurt feelings or are having difficulty finding a way to talk about it with the parties involved. What they end up doing is waiting until late in the planning process to tell everyone – and then ALL parties involved become surprised, anxious, & often hurt in the little bit of time left leading up to the wedding day. Setting expectations early on can do a lot to diffuse family issues on a Wedding Day. If you know certain family members/ parents aren’t fond of one another and plan to invite both parties, make it clear as early as possible to everyone that they can expect to be in the same room with one another on your Big Day & that your expectation is that they will be civil. This way they have plenty of time to get used to the idea. We have seen some of the most toxic family members manage to hold themselves together for the sake of a couple they love when they have enough time to accept having to share air space with someone they loathe. It’s not the easiest part of navigating a wedding but with a little bravery and forethought it’s absolutely manageable.
– Amanda Travis, Owner & Lead Event Planner, Fete & Frivolity Events
In order to keep family drama to a minimum during the stress of bringing two families together for a wedding, make sure that everyone feels included. Run ideas by your own parents and your future in-laws. Bring your soon to be mom-in-law to pick out your wedding dress or ask her if she has a “something borrowed” you can use for the wedding. Weddings can be stressful for the whole family, but in the end, everyone just wants to be a part of your special day.
– Alexa Canipe, Etta June Events
Remember that your day is about you TWO. Not your family, not your kids- not what others think. It’s about your marriage, your covenant and your commitment. Keep the focus on your relationship- the dress, colors, flowers, music….. that is all gravy. Without the marriage, everything else is in vain. Protect each other. Love on one another and focus on you two. It’s what you want- no one else.
– Jennifer H Gormer, CEO, Events by JHP
The planning process doesn’t have to be stressful. Never lose sight that you are CELEBRATING (yes! ALL CAPS) your wedding, your love story and traditions.
Keep in mind that once you announce your engagement, your family will be excited about you and with the excitement comes an overload of advices and cool ideas (cool?) from mostly every female family member. Hundreds of pictures and more “ideas” will start filling up your inboxes. Time for a deep breath!
To avoid receiving constant concepts that won’t have any cohesion and most likely will clash with your vision, give your opinionated family members something to do! If you are a DIY bride, give them chores to complete from your to-do list. Get organize, prioritize things-to-do and delegate, delegate, delegate.
– Nancy Pitrelli, Creative Director | Event Styling, All That Glam
We think the best way to avoid any issues on wedding day is to have an amazing timeline built by your planner and given to everyone who plays an important role on the day of. Then instead of everyone asking where they should be they will have the timeline to refer too. Having everyone in the place they need to be at the assigned time is paramount to everything running smoothly. Gold Dust definitely thinks that transportation plays an important role in this.
– Megan Koudelka, Gold Dust Vintage
Be open and honest about the issues at hand and try and tackle them well before your wedding day. Take the family member aside and explain to them how important it is to you for everyone to get along and offer their support to you during this happy but stressful time. If that doesn’t work, see tip #2.
# 2 Find People You Love and Trust to Run Interference.
Uninvited opinions, jealous bridesmaids and family members who are angry with your guest list or decisions can add unnecessary stress to your planning process. Seek out your support team! These might be mom, siblings, someone in your bridal party, or even a wedding planner. Help your support team to understand your expectations and desires of how you see your big day playing out. Explain to them family dynamics and any tensions that may be underlying. Have your team attempt to diffuse issues and conflicts before they have a chance to get to you.
#3 Plan, plan, plan
Knowing your top priorities and delegating the rest will go far in keeping disruptive family members occupied and focused on productive endeavors rather than creating drama. Also, something as simple as choosing smart table layouts can avoid a great deal of family drama on your special day. Get to know the layout of your wedding venue and seat your guests accordingly. AllSeated.com has multiple DFW wedding venue floor plans uploaded to their website for you to view and create your seating charts and layout.
Be sure to plan out an itinerary for the day and distribute it to everyone involved. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and there is no confusion.
– Rachel Merrill, Owner & Coordinator, Merrilly Ever After & Co
Always set your expectations BEFORE the wedding day. This prevents any unexpected drama from coming up. I have had a lot of brides ask how to handle mother’s (Bride AND Grooms) and I remind them that this day is about them and their fiancé, so it’s best to just voice the parents’ expectations months in advance, so no one gets their feeling hurt.
– Britni Weiss, Owner & lead Planner, Borrowed & Blue Occasions
I would say ONE, get a planner and be honest about the ‘Hot Button’ members. This will allow us to act as a buffer for the couple and be one step ahead.
SECOND, Include Don’t Exclude – most members just want to be included so delegate with a set timeline or allow them to help with design elements like flowers or invites. Every little bit helps.
– Tamorah Lopez, CWEP, Events by Tamorah
My advice to any couple to avoid family drama on their wedding day is to communicate and over communicate. Communication is key! Let everyone know where the boundaries are and set their expectations. As a bride and groom, show a united front to family members on anything involving a decision. And as always, communicate with your planner! Give us a heads up on any potential drama, so we can do our best to prevent any fires from starting on your big day. When all is said and done, your planner is there to ensure your first day of forever is flawless… that includes managing family drama, if need be!
– Amanda Justice, Owner & Event Planner, Events by Baron Estates
Regardless of the parties involved, whether they are family, friends or your fiancé, communication is always paramount in any relationship. This is even more heightened during wedding planning. Before you get into the throes of planning, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success:
Discuss, between the two of you, what your wishes and expectations so you are on the same page when you speak to your families.
Sit down with any financial contributors to express your wishes and come to an agreement about everyone’s roles in the process.
Hire vendors that take the stress away. When you hire a good team, they can take care of a lot of the things that typically cause stress and disagreement among you and your family.
Plan ahead. While this is the perfect time for me to mention wedding planners, even if you can’t swing having a planner or coordinator, you should take the time to plan your timeline, roles and exit plan at a minimum. This will help the day run more smoothly.
A few weeks or months before the big day, sit down with your family again to express your gratitude, concerns and expectations prior to the chaos of the week of your wedding. This is a perfect time to have open communication and make sure you are, again, all on the same page with roles and responsibilities, your vision and expectations.
In addition to good communication, I’d suggest planning a few simple gatherings to help your families get to know one another and celebrate with you throughout your engagement process. Try to do things and talk to them about things other than the wedding to really build those strong relationships. Above all, keep in mind that everyone is excited for your marriage and wanting to help you and give advice to your betterment. Even if it comes off as overbearing or overstepping, the heart behind anyone’s input is love for the two of you.
-Jennifer Pochobradsky, Owner & Creative Director, Harper Hadley Events LLC
There are a couple of things to try to avoid drama with family; it can be as simple as a good seating chart, make sure you put people that you know won’t do well with each other at different tables, also I would suggest at some point before the wedding to talk to each side of the family, to remind them that this is your special day, and you would like everyone to put aside their differences and try to get along for one day.
-Katrina Knight, Owner, Firework Event Planning
“Weddings require a lot of careful planning. What are some of the more common aspects of a wedding that brides and grooms forget to prepare for?”
Brides and Grooms commonly forget to consider meals for vendors like the photographer, videographer, and planner. I have also noticed that toasting glasses are often not considered and I have even made a quick trip to Michaels or Hobby Lobby for a set. Now I have two sets that I keep in my emergency kit. The last thing I noticed Brides and Grooms commonly forget are “thank you” cards. I have my Brides write thank you cards for gifts as they receive them and then follow up with them after the wedding to ensure “thank you” cards are done. I provide them with printed labels and stamps to help with the process.
– Venetta Petties, Pop & Go Weddings
As a newly excited engaged couple, we see a lot of wedding planning begin blindly without first setting a budget and making realistic plans that will fit into a couple’s budget. While hiring a planner can actually save you money in the long run, we understand that one will not fit into every bride’s budget. We encourage these couples to sit down together (and with their families if they are contributing) and determine how much can be spent on the wedding. Once the budget is determined a couple should share their wedding vision both as individuals and as a couple. Once the vision and budget are established, the planning will go so much smoother eliminating the stress of finances. Using more candles in place of florals still gives a romantic touch without added expense. Booking the dream wedding venue that offers all your amenities can save you having to spend more in the long run by renting linens and dishes that a less expensive venue won’t have. Wedding planners are often the voice of reason and can manage your budget and help you stay on track financially as well as making sure every area is prepared for. If couples choose to plan alone, keep organized and focused. Utilize wedding planning websites or magazines and don’t make binding commitments until you know they are cohesive to your wedding plans!
– Kimberly & Beth, Owners, Two Girls in Pearls Events
Not to be biased lol, but hiring a wedding planner or coordinator! While there are some brides who have great organizational, researching and planning skills, they often forget that that is only a quarter of what a planner or coordinator does. Planners have a vast network of professional vendors that they work with and have trusted over the years. These vendors also provide certain concessions directly to their clients. While a bride may be an awesome planner, they sometimes overlook hiring a coordinator for the wedding day. Who should the caterer call if they need directions to the venue or need to be informed of running late? Who should the DJ call if they need to figure out where to setup? Who does the bartender go to when they are running out of drinks? As a bride, you definitely don’t want to place that stress on yourself or any of your family members for that matter who is supposed to be enjoying themselves at your wedding.
Many times, couples forget to contract staffing needs to the caterer. I see this a lot with couples who get married at a “bring your own everything” venue. So, you’ve rented all these dinnerware, but who’s going to set them up on the table? Or you have a situation where after dinner is served, the caterer ups and leaves and the reception tables are a hot mess because there was no discussion or agreement for the catering company to provide enough staff to buss the tables. Be sure to talk to your catering company about providing the extra staffing, otherwise, the venue or your wedding planner will charge you if they have to take over that responsibility.
Most couples pay their photographer or videographer to cover the wedding day for 8 hours, but your wedding ceremony starts at 3pm, cocktails at 4pm and reception starts at 5pm and is over at 11pm; you think that takes care of the 8 hours you need, right? Well who will capture the most crucial part of the day when you and your girls are getting ready, getting hair and makeup done, or your mom helping you put on your wedding dress and you taking the “something borrowed” from her.
Timing!!! Without having a wedding coordinator on the day of the event to keep the timeline on track, you will easily run hours late for your ceremony which will push everything back. For example, if you have 10 bridesmaids that needs to get hair and makeup done, plan to hire 2 artists and stylists, otherwise be prepared for your girls to get up at the crack of dawn to start getting ready; especially if you have an early ceremony.
Last but not the least, most couples forget to enjoy being ENGAGED!!! The stress and tension of planning a wedding could bring a couple together or separate them, especially when it comes to discussing the financial part of the planning. Remember to take a break from wedding planning every now and then and enjoy being an engaged couple. Go on dates, Netflix and chill, have fun when you think the planning process is starting to get overwhelming.
Here are just a few tips to remember as you plan your wedding. The great thing is that if you’ve hired a good wedding planner, most of these things will be cared for; but if you choose to plan yourself, take note that you don’t overlook these important things.
– Jewel Odeyemi, Owner & CEO, Touch of Jewel Events