We originally wrote this article in January 2018, but the fact still remains that wedding planning can be a daunting thing to start. We’ve compiled some step-by-step wedding planning tips that still apply today, and added a few new ones – like tips for a smooth bridal styling experience! Read on, and let us know how we can help you with your wedding or another private event in Columbia, South Carolina!
Newly engaged? Congratulations! What’s next?
Were the holidays a little more special for you this year? If the question was popped to you by your special someone, congratulations! Getting engaged is a very special event in your life, but quickly after that comes the daunting task of planning a wedding. It can certainly be stressful, however, it can also be a really fun and rewarding process. We have a Sales Representative that specifically works with all of our bridal events. He has put together a few tips on how to get your thought processes and planning procedures in order before you dive into planning your special day.
Where to Start Planning a Wedding
Budget – Set a budget. Weddings can be very expensive. Having some sort of budget in mind before you get started will allow you to use your time wisely and only view those venues that will fit your budget.
Season – You may not know the date yet, but go ahead and pick a season you are interested in. Winter, spring, summer, or fall? Each has amazing months to get married in. Be sure to ask if your venues/vendors that you are interested have ‘off peak’ seasons.
Day of the Week – While Saturdays are the traditional day for weddings think about if you’re open to a Friday or Sunday, especially if there may be a discount involved.
Guest Count – While we know that you won’t have your final guest list done, going ahead and getting a fairly accurate estimated guest count before you start to inquire to venues will save you a lot of time. No reason to look at a space that is way too small or way too big for your group. Also, having an estimated guest count will help your venue’s event sales staff give you the most appropriate pricing. If you are flexible, that is even better! For more intimate weddings, The Birdhouse is a scenic and charming venue.
Wedding Themes and Styles
Theme – Do you have a certain aesthetic you are going for? Garden party? Rustic? Classic? Traditional? Unique? Pinterest is a great place to find some ideas that catch your eye. Once you have your general theme down, start looking for venues that will compliment your style, but also don’t forget to be open. Many venues can be transformed to fit your vision. The Ndoki Lodge is furnished in rustic African style with massive exposed beams and banks of oversized windows overlooking the tropical forest foliage. The ARC, short for the Aquarium Reptile Complex, is an unusual and unique indoor venue with a stunning 55,000-gallon coral reef display hosting jellyfish, crocodiles and even sharks serving as its centerpiece.
Ceremony Location – If you would like to have your ceremony in the same location as your reception then you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at venues that have the space for that as well. The Magnolia Room, located in the midst of our spectacular botanical garden, and its romantic bricked terrace are the ultimate location for a dazzling ceremony and reception. Check out all of the Riverbanks Zoo’s beautifully exotic venue options here.
Tour our Unique Wedding Venue
Venue Tours – Once these items above have at least been talked about, start reaching out to venues that you may be interested in. Schedule a tour to view them in person. Sometimes photos can be deceiving. The Knot and Wedding Wire can be a great place to start finding venues in your area.
Book Venue – Locking down the venue should be your first, formal step in the wedding planning process. Without a venue, there is no need to book other vendors such as floral, cake, entertainment, etc. as many venues have specific policies about who you can use for these other services.
On-site Event Catering
Additional Vendors – After your venue is booked, start to do some research about other vendors you may want to use. Be sure to check in with your venue before you start this process. Do they have a preferred vendor list or mandatory vendors? If so, great, less work for you! If not, certainly ask them for their professional opinions.
Schedule Vendor Visits – Once you have a list of preferred vendors that you are interested in working with schedule cake tastings, floral shop visits, etc. to narrow down and book those vendors.
5 Things your Bridal Stylist wants you to know:
Finding the perfect gown can be exciting and fun, but it can also be overwhelming and a little daunting. We spoke to a former bridal stylist and bridal suite manager for some tips on how to make gown shopping go smoothly and sweetly.
Make an appointment. Most bridal shops operate by appointment, as they are usually smaller spaces with often only a single sample of each dress. To ensure that you have a stylist’s attention, a fitting room and couch space available, and the gowns you hope to try on, be sure and book ahead. If you have folks coming in from out of town, limited availability, or are looking to shop on a busy weekend, be sure to plan in advance, as there may only a be a few appointments available a day.
Limit your entourage. It can be tempting to bring your whole gang of friends, everyone who is “Team Bride” and make a party of the try-on experience, but for several reasons, we suggest winnowing that group down to only the folks who matter the most. Too many opinions and voices can be confusing and lead you to decisions that might not be yours. Keep in mind that as noted above, many bridal shops are small, and will have limited space available for guests. Keep in mind that you might be sharing the space with other brides and their families as well.
Do your research. It’s fully okay to go into an appointment not knowing what you want, and trying on a few very different options, but if you’re looking for something particular, bring an inspiration photo, and ask if they have something like it when you book your appointment. Questions to ask when booking your appointment may be: Average price point? Designers carried? What sizes are their samples? How private is the fitting area? Do they limit the number of guests? How long will the appointment last? Do they provide tailoring?
Be honest about your budget and don’t go outside of it, unless you’re willing to spend it. Be honest with both your self and your stylist with what your budget is. Keep in mind that alterations are not often included in the gown price, and can be an additional several hundred dollars, depending on what needs to be done. Then – stay within your budget! If you fall in love with something outside your budget, you’ll almost never find a “look for less” as good as the original, and you’ll spend forever looking, or comparing other gowns to the “gown on a pedestal.”
Come prepared. Think about what you’re looking for, and dress accordingly! Wear undergarments appropriate for the gown you’re shopping for – strapless, backless, nude, shaping, etc. Keep in mind that your bridal stylist might be in the fitting room with you helping you into the gown. Do your hair and put on a little makeup so you have an idea of what you’ll look like on that day. If you have something special that you plan to wear with your gown (grandmother’s pearls, a special sweater, or vintage gloves), bring it with you to see how it plays. Be on time, or be aware that you might have less time to try on.
And Remember: There are no wrong answers for your choice.
- If you wear it to your wedding, it’s your wedding gown! (Or pantsuit, or t-shirt, or whatever!)
- No one else will know what you didn’t choose! (Have you ever been to a wedding and thought “I wish the bride had worn a different gown?” NOPE.)
- AND: If you got married during your wedding, your wedding was a success. Anything can happen, go wrong, not be as expected, or even be a disaster — but if you get married, at the end of the day that’s all that matters isn’t it?