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This post is for all you lovely ladies and gents out there who are single, dating, engaged and will one day be planning the wedding of your dreams! As a newly married Mrs. I can tell you there are infinite options out there bombarding you during your wedding planning process and that is why I am writing this post! To help you weed through those options and choose the most special and unique ones to you and your soon to be spouse. The greatest help to me in the process was through referrals from friends and family and reading loads of pinterest and blog posts! So here goes…
10. Umbrellas, program fans, & water/lemonade station
If you’re having a summer wedding in Maryland, there are certain things that are essential for keeping your guests cool and happy. For us, this list included 4 large umbrellas over our ceremony seating, program fans, and a water and lemonade station.
|Ceremony programs that double as fans makes for happier, cooler guests.|
|Photo credit: Krista A. Jones Photography|
|Photo credit: onelove-photography
A water station is critical to happy, hydrated guests. And lemonade provides a sugar boost if needed!
I have a new outlook on weddings. Actually, let’s call it a new term: celebrations…weekend celebrations! Everyone always says, “My wedding day flew by. It was too fast. It was over in the blink of an eye. I didn’t even see that person. They were there?” Yikes, not cool, right? I am here to tell you that can change. My husband and I attended several weddings in the last few years, and the best thing we took away was a multi-day/weekend celebration. That’s right, folks! A weekend celebration! Doesn’t it sound like a vacation? Well, it is…unless you’re the bride. I’m half kidding lol! It was certainly enjoyable, but also stressful and overwhelming at times…to be expected. Bringing your family and friends together in one location prior to the wedding extends the celebration from just a few hours, to a few days! You give guests the opportunity to get to know others they may not already know. And it gives guests who live out of town the opportunity to get settled and enjoy their surroundings, rather than flying in the day of, rushing to get ready, only to crash when they get to the hotel, and wake up super early to hop back on a plane home. Jet lag much? If this sounds like a great idea to you, but you are thinking it is not something you are capable of doing (be it financially, emotionally, organizationally–is that even a word?), the key is to keep it small. You will be so glad you spent a few meaningful days with the people you love most, instead of a few hours with your 2nd cousin and her on/off boyfriend of 5 years. Seriously, think long and hard about this and you will thank yourself. : )
|Photo credit: Christian Giannelli|
8. 8 Hours of Photography
I am sure you are seeing the dollar signs $$$! Read on my friend…
Photos from your wedding day are the only thing you have to remember the special moments years down the road. That is, unless you have a videographer, but we did not. It was not something we felt strongly about, but many people encouraged us to have one, so we chose to use WeddingMix. It was our way of having some sort of video that we would not be disappointed in if it didn’t turn out perfectly while also saving some pennies. I don’t have any pros or cons for you on this yet. When we get our video in the coming months, I will definitely update you!
Back to wedding day photography…8 hours of photography means your photographer will show up at some point in the morning or afternoon, depending on the time of your ceremony. This gives him/her time to set up, scope out good lighting and locations for portraits and candid shots at your venue, as well as take some shots of you getting ready or relaxing prior to the ceremony. When I first read the timeline for our wedding day photography, I freaked out, “What do you mean you won’t be here past 9:30pm?” (Our reception was not over until 11pm.) But, I soon realized it was more important to me to have beautiful shots of my husband and I, the bridal party, our beautiful surroundings, and all of our family and friends…before all the homebrew beer was gone! Do you really want 200 photos of your drunk friends doing the worm, or the sprinkler? I think not. I am so happy I did not ask Alicia to arrive later in the day in order for her to stay later into the night. We now have plenty of beautiful photos with our friends and family in various beautiful surroundings on the grounds of our venue AND plenty of drunk dancing photos! Trust me, 10 drunk dancing photos is equivalent to 50 stunning sunset photos. Lastly, if you get a wonderful photographer like Alicia Lacey, you’ll get an engagement session in your package too! You can check out ours here.
|Goofing off in the lavender fields! It is so important to find a
photographer who jives with your personalities and keeps you relaxed!
|With our gorgeous, talented photographer, Alicia!|
This is key if you are having a destination wedding, a ceremony and reception at different venues, or accommodations off site. Our immediate families and bridal parties stayed at the wedding/reception venue site for several days leading up to the wedding and the night of the wedding, so we did not need to worry about transportation for them. For all of our other guests, we provided suggestions for accommodations within a mile or two from our venue. We did not want any of our guests to worry about a thing on our big day, so we arranged for the “Osprey Flyer” (a small trolley in the town of Rock Hall, MD running to and from bars and bed and breakfasts) to pick up and drop off our guests from their various inns coming to and from the wedding. ***Sidenote on this one: arranging transportation was not an easy task; however, it made for stress free guests who were ready to have a good time and it went off without a hitch! Totally worth it!
6. Multiple Dessert Flavors or Options
I think these photos speak for themselves. Can we say options? When you are bringing together a group of 50+ people, I can guarantee you every person will not like the same cake flavor or icing. By having 5 different cake options, our guests were certain to find something they liked. And sure enough, they did. We had ~8 pieces left! That’s unheard of people!
Ya’ll, I have the best bridesmaids EVER! My maid and matron of honor (my two older sisters) and my girlfriends came up with the idea to hire a yoga instructor to come onsite and conduct a yoga class the morning of our wedding. This is exactly what I needed! After spending almost 3 days with friends and family at the site of our wedding (Inn at Huntingfield Creek, a beautiful bed and breakfast in Rock Hall, MD), yoga gave me some much needed peace and quiet, and brought me the mindfulness I lost amidst all the stress of planning and making sure everyone else was happy. I think Fletcher was reading my mind! Her bridal yoga class was the perfect combination of stress relief, relaxation, breathing, and mindfulness. It changed my entire outlook for the wedding day and I am forever grateful! Check out River Warrior Yoga if you are in the Eastern Shore area! If I could give one piece of advice to future bridesmaids, it would be to hire a private instructor for bridal yoga the morning of the wedding. Your bride will thank you!
|From left to right: my dear friend, Serena, my bridesmaid, Ashley, my sister and maid of honor, Tracy, my coworker and good friend, Brittany, muah, my bridesmaid, Emily, and my sister and matron of honor, Lindsay.|
4. Lawn games
Lawn games are a great way to keep your guests entertained before the ceremony, during the cocktail hour, and even during the reception (if you’re having a day wedding). They are all the new rage with cost effective DIY options so you can bring them to your big day!
|We made this lawn games sign with a piece of scrap wood from our garage, some stencils from Target, and leftover navy paint from another project. So simple!|
Learn to make your own giant jenga game here. FYI-it’s super easy!
Learn to make your own cornhole game here. A little more
complicated, but still totally do-able!
The lawn dice set is from Target. You can get it here.
We framed directions for a few different games to give people ideas!
You can get a bocceball set like this here. My olive buckets are from the amazing Decor Steals site (but you could use any type of bucket, crate, basket)! I bought them as a pair, and when I started writing this post they had a single bucket listed, but it’s since sold out! Keep your eyes peeled on their site or set up daily emails so you know as soon as they get them back in stock! They are very popular!
3. Homebrew beer
My husband (so fun to say it) and I started homebrewing over the last year or two. When I say my husband and I started, I really mean he started, and I just helped from time to time. My number one job is to taste test. : ) When the wedding planning began, we knew instantly it was something unique to us as a couple that we wanted to share with our wedding guests. We even came up with fun beer names with good friends and our homebrew mentor during a dinner party a week or two prior to the wedding!
|Lucy Lite was named after our sweet dog, Lucy. Forever “wit” You was a Belgian style Witbier. Carly’s Pale was a pale ale named for my pale skin color (I don’t take myself too seriously : )). “Shugga” Daddy was a copycat of Lagunitas Brown Shugga Ale, one of my husbands’ favorites.|
2. First Look
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, a first look is a moment set up or staged by the photographer for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony. I don’t like the terms staged and set up because it feels so much more authentic and candid! Sure, the photographer gets both of you in the same place at the same time, but no one is posing when he/she is shooting those first few moments. This is one of my favorite things we did on our wedding day because it gave us more time to spend with our guests during cocktail hour and the reception. Isn’t that what its’ all about?! It also gave us the best shots in our wedding attire prior to sweating all the goodness away or getting tipsy from too much champagne! Lastly, it ensures we took all the shots we wanted. If we forgot about important poses or people, we could get the photo taken sometime later in the evening.
1. Hire a Wedding Planner
I know what you’re probably thinking…”Carly, wedding planners are so expensive and definitely out of our budget!” But I am here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. It saves you time which we can all agree is equivalent to money, right? It saves you money because any established planner will have a relationship and rapport with vendors which can help you get discounts. If a vendor prefers cash payment, your planner will know. If you offer to pay with cash, many vendors will be willing to negotiate. If you are having a destination wedding, your planner can be at the destination prior to the wedding for any planning, vendor meetings, etc. For us, our wedding was almost an hour away (without traffic), so it was extremely helpful to have our planner in the area of our venue. Your planner can help bring your vision to reality. If you have many ideas but are struggling to pull together a cohesive theme, your planner is there to help. Last but certainly not least, your planner will be working the entire day of your wedding, ensuring all of your vendors are working together and following the timeline. And, should a glitch occur (yea, right?), your planner will literally extinguish it in order for you to have a beautiful, enjoyable, and stress free day! If you are looking for a planner in Maryland or the Delmarva region, I can tell you without pause, Kari Rider Events is the only way to go! I had the pleasure of working with both Kari and Meagan, who both did an amazing job planning and executing our BEST DAY EVER!
|Meagan and I|
I hope this helps you plan YOUR BEST DAY EVER! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy Wedding Planning!