7 Wedding Day Curve Balls (& How to Deal with Them)

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wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planningWedding emergencies. Even the best-planned wedding day can be hit with a series of fast pitches and curve balls that can throw even the most flexible bride and groom for a loop. We’ve seen it happen; that’s why we’ve put together a list of the most common wedding emergencies, what you can do about it, and how you can prepare so you’re not struck out by a wedding emergency.

Rain

Our Wisconsin weather is notoriously unpredictable; plan for the unexpected! Never plan an outdoor wedding without a plan B. If you want an outdoor ceremony, search for the ideal outdoor site while also looking for a wedding reception hall with space for the ceremony (just in case!). Be prepared for the possibility of soggy weather (you’ll need these rainy day wedding tips). Communicate with your venue and vendors accordingly so you can still have a beautiful wedding day even when the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Too Hot

Hot weather can put a real damper on a summer wedding. If your wedding day is anytime during late spring or summer, look for a wedding venue with traditional details and modern air conditioning. For events like photos or an outdoor ceremony, provide fans and cool drinks to cool your attendants and guests down. Schedule those events accordingly so they are not during the hottest times of the day (trust us, your guests and attendants appreciate the schedule!).

Dress ripped or stained

A guest steps on a wedding dress. A guest spills their drink all over a beautiful wedding gown. It happens, and it can be fixed. Pack a sewing kit (with Velcro for ripped straps!) and tape for fixing dresses that get stepped on or rip. For stains, pack a stain shot and cloth for cleaning off any spills.

Not feeling well

Keep a first aid kit and medications on hand so you (and your wedding party) feel your best on your wedding day. Think ibuprofen for headaches and antacids for a sour stomach. Snacks for when you realize you haven’t ate in the last four hours. Bandages, tweezers and ice packs in a first aid kit for illnesses or injuries (they do happen!).

Bad Hair Day

Even with a ton of bobby pins and hair spray, the most elegant wedding hair do’s can fall or get messed up. Make sure you get the best photos ALL day by adding extra bobby pins, hair spray, hair dryer, and clips to your emergency kit.

Smeared Make-Up

Don’t start the wedding day looking like a princess and end the day looking like a horror show. Pack extra make-up and ask a trusted friend to do touch-up throughout the day (especially before and after photos).

Cold

If the temperatures are resembling a roller coaster, adjust your wedding day schedule accordingly. Move outdoor festivities indoor (look for a venue with space for a ceremony and reception). Provide shrugs and jackets to bridesmaids for a fun photo opportunity.

If you haven’t noticed, a wedding emergency kit is a must for any couple. Pack a bag with the following items that can get you through any wedding curve balls:

  • Make-up
  • Shrugs & jackets
  • Umbrella
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair spray
  • Hair dryer
  • First Aid Kit (bandages, ice packs, etc.)
  • Tweezers
  • Prescription medication
  • Aspirin
  • Snacks
  • Antacids
  • Laundry pen
  • Sewing kit
  • Tape
  • Velcro
  • Water bottles
  • Hand-held fans
  • Small cloth (for cleaning dress)
  • Payments for vendors (sorted into appropriate envelopes, if needed)
  • Anything else

Complete Wedding Vendor List

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unique spring wedding idea: patterned black and white table coverings with purple pastel chair bowsThat old adage about taking a village to raise a child also applies to a wedding; any bride or groom can tell you that it took a city (or at least it felt like it!) to turn their wedding day vision into reality. Before you start searching for and contacting your city of wedding vendors, confirm the most vital details like your ceremony site and venue (after all, you have to give the caterer and photographer your location!).

Start by having a conversation with your fiancée (and any family contributing to the big day). Set a budget, estimated guest list (at least, a number), and an idea of the time of year. None of these details need to be final; an estimate is a good start. For the date, for example, have a season or month that you prefer. As you contact wedding venues and ceremony sites (which can be one and the same), give them the season or month and ask for open dates in that period. Tour wedding venues with open dates that fit your criteria, style, and budget. Ask if the venue has an open vendor policy or if the venue has a list of preferred vendors to choose from. Book the venue that checks off all the important boxes, and get ready for the next step: finding vendors that can make the perfect wedding dessert, take fantastic photos and video, serve a scrumptious wedding meal, provide wonderful wedding reception decor…

How to find the right wedding vendors

There are quite a few wedding vendors out there, and just as many different ways to find them. Be cautious about who you hire. Even though your friend or family member might recommend a vendor or the website looks great doesn’t mean they can provide the high-quality service you want. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask your venue staff for recommendations (or ask them to coordinate all the vendors as your wedding planner).

As you search for wedding vendors, be concerned about common red flags such as bad business reviews, no business address, or any hint that the company has a lack of experience (and back-ups, just in case!). Instead, look for favorable reviews, photos, videos, and satisfactory business ratings and customers (it doesn’t help if they are excellent at what they do if they can’t manage their appointments and finances).

Once you compile a list of prospective vendors for your big day, schedule face-to-face meetings. Be prepared to walk away from vendors who don’t have a business location to meet, seem inexperienced, don’t listen to you, have hidden fees that push the cost over budget, or want you to sign a contract with fine print that makes you uncomfortable.

Ask your vendors how you should communicate with them in the future. This is important so you don’t feel ignored and get the responsiveness you need as you plan your big day. Make sure they have a line of communication you’re comfortable with; you don’t want to choose a vendor who’s only comfortable with electronic communication and ignores your phone calls (or vice versa).

Wedding vendors to contact

___Wedding Attire (Dress & Tux)

___Invitation Printer (& online invites if applicable)

___Photographer

___Videographer

___Caterer

___Baker

___Entertainer (DJ or Band)

___Florist

___Table Décor

Bad Weather? Tips for a Fantastic Rainy Day Wedding

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wedding venue with candles, uplighting, and glittery snow back dropWe may not have a rainy season here, but the one thing you can count on in Wisconsin is that our weather is incredibly unpredictable. One day the weather can be sunny and warm, the next day it’s raining and, well, not-so-warm. For couples planning a wedding, unpredictable weather can be one of the most frustrating part of planning a weather. Every other wedding detail can be planned and carefully laid out; as for the weather, good luck.

Even if your wedding is indoors (hopefully at a beautiful wedding venue), your guests are still going to have to tramp through the rain and deal with very unpleasant (hot or cold) temperatures. Don’t let either situation rain on your big day—instead use these tips for an incredible wedding day (even when the weather is not incredible!).

Expect the best, make plans for the worst.

Weather forecasts can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, they give you a glimpse into the future so you can prepare…BUT they can also be wrong. If the weather forecast looks drear, plan accordingly for a rainy day. Make bad weather “chic” and fashionable. Choose waterproof make-up and buy rainboots (and a rain jacket?) and umbrellas (for the bridal party too!) for some really cute photo opportunities. Stock up on towels, which can be handy for drying off surfaces before you or your attendants sit on it.

Keep your guests comfortable.

Comfortable guests are happy, stay-on-the-dance-floor guests. Keep their rainy day comfort in mind as you plan. Look for wedding venues with close parking (or covered parking) so they don’t have to tramp through the mud. If there is any possibility the day could be cool, look for a wedding venue with a foyer where guests can warm up (perhaps by a fireplace?). For a hot rainy day, ask the venue if they have air conditioning or use these tips to keep guests cool and comfortable.

Pack an emergency kit.

In addition to umbrellas and towels, pack a wedding day survival kit for all those rainy day wedding emergencies. Pack hair products, a hair dryer, and make-up so you can touch up your hair and makeup—and don’t end up looking like a wet dog. Besides rain boots, carry a couple of pairs of dry and comfortable shoes so you don’t have to walk around in wet shoes.

Have a plan B.

When rain threatens your big day, be flexible with your plans and keep it all in perspective. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, make a plan B for a rainy day. Choose a wedding venue with space for a ceremony and a reception. When the weather forecast resembles a flood, activate your plan B for a beautiful indoor ceremony and communicate accordingly with venue staff, vendors, and guests. If your outdoor plans were only for outdoor photo opportunities, embrace the chance for some really and unique wedding rainy day photos. Keep everything in perspective. Remember your wedding day is what you make of it—even in the rain.

Spring Wedding Centerpiece Ideas that Inspire

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elegant wedding centerpieces with simple rose arrangementWhen we think of spring, we envision fields full of fresh flowers. A bright sunny day. Blooms. Greenery. (Especially in Wisconsin, where spring can take forever to come after a loooong winter.) So why shouldn’t your spring wedding reception be full of the blooms we fantasize about? Find inspiration for your spring wedding reception (that you can use to design spring wedding centerpieces that are completely and uniquely you) from some of our favorite floral spring centerpieces we’ve seen.

Greenery

Not every spring centerpiece has to be filled with flowers. Table centerpieces filled with greenery can make a HUGE impression, both color and statement-wise, on your guests. These centerpieces are modern and striking, eliciting visions of spring and breaking from the classic spring centerpieces full of blooms.

Floral garland
mandap with floral garland

On railing, around a mandap, or on tables, floral garland is a beautiful way to integrate flowers into a spring wedding reception. Choose a deep color for a striking impression or a neutral tone flower that plays into the wedding venue décor.

Vertical blooms

floral centerpiece with tall gold vase and lilies

A tall vase full of your favorite blooms adds height and an air of sophistication to your spring wedding reception. Talk to your wedding venue for other ways to highlight elegant architectural details, such as with additional uplighting and décor, that’ll leave your guests in awe.

Rosesrose bouquet in clear vase

Roses are one of the first flowers that come to mind, and a statement-maker at that. Use a floating bouquet that guests’ll admire—and adds a finishing touch to a romantic or vintage wedding.

Flair

wedding table with tall vase with neutral flowers, lavendar printed table covering and lavendar chair covers

To make a strong statement through wedding décor, coordinate the flowers and greenery with other wedding décor details. Choose chair and table coverings in the spring colors that we all look forward to after a white winter.

Colorful elegance

wedding reception table with white table covering, tall black vase and bright purple blooms

If subtle wedding décor is more your style, design floral centerpieces so they are a pop of color surrounded by a neutral décor. Ask a florist for blooms with the preferred hue, or discuss your preferences with a venue wedding planner that can make your chosen color into a beautiful spring centerpiece reality.

25 Ways to De-Stress Wedding Planning in Milwaukee

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wedding reception with MR & MRS letters after wedding planning has startedWedding planning is a different experience for every couple, and so are the terms they use. Fun. Long. Stressful. A whole other job. There’s no doubt: wedding planning can be an overwhelming experience that can make you (at some point) look at eloping as a wonderful alternative. If you’re starting to consider the latter, consider hiring an event planner at your wedding venue (they’ll help!). We’ve given you a few wedding planning de-stressing tips before; now we’re giving you a list of fun ideas specific to the Milwaukee area that you can use to break up the wedding planning checklist (and keep it fun!).

  1. Head out for a brewery tour (classic Wisconsin fun!)
  2. Host a DIY party (where you and your friends get together to make centerpieces or tackle another DIY project)
  3. Tour a museum (Milwaukee Public Museum, Art Museum, Harley-Davidson Museum, or one of the other fantastic museums we have)
  4. See a play
  5. Head out on a pedal car tour
  6. Go for a boat ride (on Lake Michigan or one of our other beautiful lakes)
  7. Paint a sign (with friends or as a couple!)
  8. Sign up for a 5K together (it’ll give you something else to focus on)
  9. Go for a hike (at a Wisconsin State Park or at a local county park)
  10. Head to an indoor pool or water park (it’ll break up the cold!)
  11. Make a date out of a wedding planning meeting (go to your meeting then head out to a fun restaurant or go on an outing)
  12. Go bowling (it’s a classic)
  13. Take in a concert (or go to Summerfest)
  14. Head to the spa together
  15. Catch a movie
  16. Pedal the stress away on one of our nice bike trails
  17. Cheer on the Milwaukee Brewers (or Bucks or Admirals or…)
  18. Go skiing or tubing
  19. Visit the Milwaukee Zoo
  20. Go skating at the Pettit National Ice Center (or roller skating)
  21. Visit the Mitchell Park Domes
  22. Go shopping at the Milwaukee Public Market or a local Farmer’s Market
  23. Visit a County Fair or the Wisconsin State Fair
  24. Work out at the local gym
  25. Hit the golf course

Tips for Planning a Fantastic Summer Wedding Reception

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floral bouquet on table with sparkling back drop: outdoor touch for summer weddingOctober may be the “new June” for weddings, but summer is still a top choice for engaged couples. In a climate where it’s cold nine months out of the year, summer is the only time in Wisconsin when you can practically guarantee that you won’t need a coat or shawl over your wedding dress or tux. Sometimes, that warm weather can also venture into hot and humid territory—which is why you should use these tips to make your summer wedding as fantastic as the weather (even on the hottest days!).

Make guest comfort a priority

elegant lighted globe centerpiecesThe same warm summer weather that makes summer an ideal time for a wedding is also the same weather that can make a wedding unbearable. Wisconsin summers can get hot and muggy, turning a joyous occasion into a pool of sweat. Plan accordingly; choose an indoor venue with air conditioning that can make your guests want to dance and mingle instead of gathering around a fan. For an outdoor wedding, rent fans that can improve circulation and keep your guests cool.

Dress accordingly

No matter what time of year you shop for dresses and tuxes, keep in mind that your summer wedding could be hot (very hot!). Choose breathable fabrics so your time outside (and your attendants’ time) isn’t unbearable.

Be creative with your wedding favors

Practical and fun wedding favors are almost a must at a summer wedding. At a hot summer wedding, provide misters, cool drinks, or hand fans so your guests can stay cool in the heat. Even if your guests just have to walk to their cars in the parking lot, they’ll appreciate the gesture.

Have a plan B in case of inclement weather

outside rennaissance place a beautiful wedding venueAn outdoor wedding ceremony can be a beautiful event; it can also be a very wet and soggy challenge if a summer storm moves in (or it rains for days before your wedding). Instead of scrambling at the last minute, search for a wedding venue that has ceremony and reception space just in case you need to move your ceremony because of the wet weather.

Schedule the day’s activities with the weather

Don’t suffer—and make your attendants and guests suffer—through the highest heat of the day. Instead, craft a wedding schedule that takes into account the hot summer temperatures. Schedule photos and other outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day so you can cool down inside during the hottest temperatures.

Cool your guests down with seasonal drinks

One of the most fun part of a summer wedding is the drinks. Cool your guests down with lemonade, tropical mixed drinks, and water served with fresh fruit. In addition to being stylish and delicious, summer drinks keep your guests hydrated so they can enjoy your summer wedding reception.

Bring the outdoors in

birch containers with elegant wedding centerpiece

If you want the (cool) comfort of an indoor reception but the feel of a beautiful summer day, bring the outdoors in. Use tree bark, potted plants, topiaries, fresh flowers, and seasonal treats to make your guests feel like an outdoor summer  wedding.

 

 

Make your last course a refreshing treat

Every detail plays a part in creating a wonderful summer wedding reception, including a late-night course that keeps your guests dancing. Choose a late-night course that complements your wedding atmosphere, complete with the summer drinks that keep your guests hydrated and having fun.

Tips from the Pros: 15 Tips (and Tricks!) that’ll Kick Start Your Wedding Planning

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newlyweds cutting white wedding cake at wedding venue with bloomsWhen you’re engaged, it can seem like everyone’s a wedding planning expert. From the day you announce your engagement, it can seem like everyone has some advice about your wedding venue, dinner, flowers…

We’ve guided a lot of couples through wedding planning over the years, and we know the process can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put some of our top tips (and tricks!) into a list that you can use as you plan your special day.

Wedding Venue

Wedding Budget

Wedding Vendors

How can I keep my wedding within budget?

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couple cutting cake on wedding date

A wedding budget is a precious thing. Whether you have a few thousand dollars or thousands of dollars, one of the biggest wedding planning challenges is spending those dollars without going over budget. We’ve assisted many couples with staying on financial track as they plan their special day; here are tips to help plan your dream wedding without busting the budget.

Set a budget.

It’s every couple’s worst nightmare: running out of money for big ticket items because they didn’t plan. To avoid this worst-case scenario, talk to your wedding fiancé before you start planning (ask and discuss these other questions before you plan as well). Ask other friends and family who have expressed interest in contributing to your wedding expenses if they still wish to do so (and the amount of that gift).

Don’t just agree to a lump sum; break your budget down into categories so you can ensure that you allocate dollars where they are needed the most (use this wedding budget worksheet from Real Simple). Usually, the largest expenses are the parts of the wedding day that make the largest impact: wedding venue, catering, and bar expenses.

Track your expenses.

Don’t set a budget and walk away from it. Ask for estimates from key vendors (i.e. caterers, venue, photographers, videographers). Make sure the estimates fall within the budget numbers you set. Once you start getting estimates in, determine whether your guest list count jives with your allocations in your wedding budget.

Look for red flags as you plan.

Overtime fees, hidden supply fees, staffing charges. Interview every vendor you contact to determine the quality of their product or service and if the costs they quote you are the final estimate (no unpleasant surprises later!).

Be smart about all those little charges.

There are a lot of line items on a wedding budget worksheet. Small overages can add up in a big way by the time you’re done planning every detail; prioritize each expense to avoid busting your budget. As tempting as it might be to spend another hundred here and another hundred there, decide what smaller charges you really, really want (and not just really want!).

Remember, too, that the lowest price does not always equal the best option. A cheap (or free) wedding venue might seem like the low-cost leader; however if your venue is vanilla, the additional costs of decorations and supplies can push the total cost over an inclusive wedding venue.

Double check your numbers at your final planning meeting.

An unexpectedly high bill can be a real downer on what’s supposed to be the most important day of your life. That being said, avoid pre-paying vendors in full until the product or service is delivered. The middle road is to choose a venue that offers a final planning meeting with a full list of charges that can be adjusted to fit your final budget. If the invoice is lower than expected, you can add in extras they wanted but were concerned about the cost. If the invoice is higher than the budget, there is still time to scale back the final wedding details to an amount that falls within your wedding budget.

What should I look for in my wedding venue tour?

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wedding venue Milwaukee WI

There are a lot of emotions that wash over you when you visit a wedding venue. Awe. Satisfied. That sweet feeling of finding the “one.” This is the backdrop for your wedding day, after all. This is also a decision that shouldn’t be dictated solely by emotion.

Your wedding venue is more than a beautiful backdrop. It’s also a logistical and practical investment that both you and your guests appreciate. No one wants to be trekking for miles because there’s no nearby parking in their best shoes. Or cramped because the venue isn’t big enough to hold all the guests that were invited. Your attendants certainly don’t want to be locking their valuables in the trunk or changing in their car. The list of wedding venue faux pas can go on and on…which is why it makes cents (literally) to pay attention to more than just aesthetics during your wedding venue tour.

Space

Like the old fairy tale, the right wedding venue is not too big and not too small. For that reason, come up with a tentative guest list count (use these wedding guest list tips) before you contact a wedding venue. Ask every wedding venue how many guests they can accommodate and make sure that every space in the venue (i.e. bar, dance floor, foyer) looks like just the right size.

Rooms

Just as important as adequate wedding venue square footage is the right wedding spaces. Ask your wedding venue about rooms you need for your big day, such as a dance floor, (large) room for changing, a secure area for your belongings, catering space, and restrooms (yes, for your guests’ sake, you even have to visit the restrooms).

Ceremony site

If you need a wedding ceremony site, look for the perfect location for that as well. Use one note of caution, however; if the wedding ceremony site is outside, look for a indoor Plan B site just in case there is inclement weather (or extreme temperatures) on your big day (this is Wisconsin, our temps can be unpredictable!).

Photo opportunities

bride and groom on steps of elegant historic wedding venueYou don’t have to be a pro to look for unique wedding photo opportunities. Keep an eye out for areas that would look terrific in your wedding album—but still give your wedding photographer the liberty to find (and take!) great photos. Look around for unique architectural details, such as stained glass windows, beautiful doorways, and a unique entrance.

Parking (please!)

While you can get dropped off on your big day, not all your guests have that same option. Ask to see the venue’s options for parking—and make sure that it is as close as the staff member says. “Yes, it’s just around the corner” just won’t cut it. Once you have verified parking, make sure that it’s not going to cost your guests an arm and a leg. If there is a small fee, let your guests know by adding the information to your wedding invite and website.

Entertainment Needs

If you want your wedding entertainment to be a big hit, make sure the venue has the electrical system that fits your band or DJ’s needs (and any uplighting they offer). You might feel like you don’t have the expertise even if you did see the outlets or electrical panel; in that case, ask the venue staff if they have had bands, DJs, and lighting at the venue in the past.

Access (for everyone)

Many wedding venues were built in a time or for a function (such as barns) that didn’t suit the needs of people with mobility issues. Ask if the wedding venue is handicap accessible (especially if there are a lot of stairs) and if you can see the alternative entrances. This simple step ensures that all of your guests can attend and enjoy themselves or if you need to make arrangements that can assist those guests. ALL of your guests’ll appreciate your due diligence.

7 Things to Know BEFORE You Contact a Wedding Venue

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wedding venue with dramatic backlighting and candlesTime is of the essence when you’re searching for the right wedding venue for a lot of reasons. Obviously, you want to book the right wedding venue (before it’s reserved!). Choosing your wedding venue is also the first of a series of wedding planning decisions—and one that you don’t want to spend a lot of time on (after all, you have a lot more to do on your wedding planning checklist!).

To get started (and finished) with this important first step of wedding planning(without touring a million different venues), sit down with your fiancé and make these major decisions BEFORE you start browsing websites and sending social media messages.

Location

To be clear, you don’t have to nail down exact location and numbers (i.e. date, guest count, etc.), but you should have an idea of where you want to hold your big day (a general idea of a city or town). If you have already reserved a ceremony site, find a wedding reception venue nearby; your guests don’t want to have to make a several hour (or even hour) drive to get from your ceremony to reception.

Your style

Every part of your wedding should reflect who you are as a couple, including your wedding venue. Once you’ve decided on the area you want to have your wedding in, think about what style wedding venue screams you. If you want to have a vintage wedding, a wedding venue with historic details can be the perfect backdrop for your wedding décor. For a couple who loves the country, look for a rustic barn. Want an elegant wedding? Search for venues with the architectural details that’ll make an impression on your guests.

Date (or month)

Again, you don’t have to nail down an exact date, but it would be helpful to have an idea of the time of year or month of your wedding. If you have your heart set on a particular wedding venue, ask for a list of dates available during the time of year or month of your wedding. But if you’re completely clueless about a wedding date, use these tips to choose the date of your wedding day.

Approximate guest count

There’ll be time later to make an exact guest list later, but almost every wedding vendor is going to ask for an estimated guest count. Don’t tackle crafting your wedding guest list alone, instead use these guest list tips to avoid hurt feelings from your fiancé and family.

Budget

A wedding budget is like a marathon. You don’t want to run out of energy at the end. When it comes to your wedding, you don’t want to have to skimp on important details because you ran out of funds. Use this template to create a wedding budget that you can stick to—and that gives you the amount you can spend on a wedding venue.

Once you have that amount, make sure you don’t go over the amount you have specified for the wedding venue. Don’t just ask for the rental fee; some venues charge overtime fees if the reception runs over a certain length of time and have additional costs that can push you over budget. Ask for the amount of the rental fee, how much time it covers, and what is included (i.e. tables, coat check staff, linens, etc.)

Wedding needs

If you have any special requests, ask them on your first phone call or message. You don’t want to cancel your reservation on a wedding venue and have to pay a cancellation fee. Add your special request to this list of wedding venue questions when you call or message them. Be wary of wedding venues that don’t respond promptly to your inquiries; if they don’t now, they may not get back to you later when you need information.

Any favorite vendors

An awesome caterer. A fantastic photographer. An over-the-top fabulous videographer. It’s normal to have a favorite wedding vendor that you want to include in your wedding day. Not every wedding venue allows any vendor into their facility; some venues only allow vendors from an approved list. If you have a favorite vendor that you absolutely want to include in your special day, don’t delay. Ask the wedding venue when you contact them, so you don’t spend your time touring a venue that you won’t consider later. When you do tour, ask questions from this list so you can make sure that wedding venue is the right one—and so you can move on to the next wedding planning step.