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.

Red Flags to Watch for When Booking Your Wedding Venue

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elegant historic wedding venue

The road to confirming your wedding venue is a process. From asking the right wedding venue questions to touring the site, there are a lot of moments along the way that signify that this is the perfect site for your wedding day. On the flip side, there can also be a few red flags that should set off warning bells before you sign on the dotted line.

Overtime Fees

To be clear, there are usually many costs associated with renting a wedding venue, such as table and chair rental fees. This is fairly standard. What’s not common is additional costs, such as over time fees if your wedding reception runs over a certain length of time. When you first contact the venue, and in subsequent visits, ask for a full list of expenses and how long the rental fee covers.

Unreliable staff contacts

Booking a wedding venue is about more than just using the facility. It’s an experience with the wedding venue and venue staff. Most likely, you are going to have to contact the venue multiple times during the wedding planning process. If they don’t return your calls, respond to your messages, or promptly meet with you, listen to your inner voice. Don’t let your wedding planning process (or your wedding day!) be soured because the staff isn’t conscientious of your time.

Overwhelming Fine Print

Most wedding venues provide couples with a multi-page contract. Don’t shy away from the contract; reading the fine print can save you from unpleasant surprises later. However, if the contract is overly complicated and hard to understand, heed the warning bells. Never sign on the dotted line of a contract if you don’t understand what you’re signing or are worried about any language in the contract.

Lack of wedding experience

Proceed with caution if you rent a venue that doesn’t typically host weddings; the staff may not have the experience to assist you with planning and facility may not have all the spaces you need for your wedding day. There is some value in working with a venue with a knowledgeable staff that’s “been there”—especially if you need wedding planning assistance (many venues offer wedding planning-just ask!). Don’t check off a venue from your wedding venue checklist just because the site hosts weddings; instead embrace their knowledge and use it to make your day uniquely you.

How can I find the perfect wedding venue?

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bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

You’ve read all about how important a wedding venue is in wedding planning. You’re convinced. You’ve printed off the wedding venue checklist so you can find the right site for your wedding. Bring on the wedding venue tours.

But where do you start? How do you find the right wedding venue in your area?

Here’s where the wedding venue search doesn’t start

The search for the right wedding venue doesn’t start with calls to venues or getting out your calendar. Before you contact any venues, sit down with your fiancé, and any family or friends who are interested in investing in your big day. You’ll need to set these important points in stone for your wedding venue search:

  • Budget. What is your overall wedding budget? What is your budget for your wedding venue? Who is paying for what expense?
  • Date. You don’t have to the exact day and month to start your venue search, but you should have a general idea of the time of the year (use these tips to choose your perfect wedding date). For example, if you want a fall wedding, ask what dates are available for months of September and October.
  • Location. Consider what area suits your guests and you as a couple. Then take your planning a step further. Consider not only the geographical setting of your ceremony and distance to your reception site, but also the geography of your guests. If you have guests coming from out of town, consider a venue close to a hotel. If you’re having your ceremony and reception at the same place, consider the location of each event. Is there enough room for each? Will your guests need to wait for break down and set up? Visit your ideal venue to get your questions answered and a tour of the reception hall, ceremony site and dressing rooms.
  • Style. Do you want a rustic wedding? An elegant ball? A vintage wedding in a historic wedding venue with lot of architectural detail?
  • Guest list. Again, you don’t have to have the final guest list set in stone on your first day of planning, but you should have a general idea of your guest count. You’ll need this number to weed out venues that are too small (both for the safety and comfort of your guests).
  • Handicap accessibility. If you have a friend or family member that needs special accommodations, make sure you know this up front. Ask every venue if they are accessible for all your guests.

How to find the right wedding venue

  • Let your fingers do the walking. Use your favorite search engine to look for wedding venues that fit your criteria. Once you have a list, call or e-mail each wedding venue with this list of wedding venue questions. Ask the venue if they have your date available (or what dates are available during your chosen time of the year), how many guests they can accommodate, the cost (what is included and how long that covers), if there are any extra fees, and these other wedding venue questions. If you find your wedding venue on the internet, don’t skimp on your wedding venue tour. See the venue in person to make sure that the venue fits with what you saw on their website or social media.
  • Ask friends and family. Have a friend whose entire social calendar is weddings? Do you have a family member who always is headed to the next wedding? Ask them about wedding venues they’ve visited that really stood out. From there, narrow down your options by contacting the venues and finding out which venues fit your criteria.
  • Contact your favorite vendors. If you booked your videographer, DJ, band, or caterer already, ask them if they’ve worked at a venue (in your preferred style) that was really incredible. Remember, some venues require that you use a certain caterer. If you want to bring in your favorite caterer, ask the venue if they have an open vendor policy that allows you to bring in the caterer of your choice.

‘Must Have’ Wedding Vendors You Need to Book

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beautiful wedding venue for romantic weddingAfter all the wonderful feelings of your engagement wears off, it’s time to face the wedding planning list—and hold the necessary conversations you need to have with your family and fiance. Once you’ve decided on the location, budget, guest count (tips for crafting your guest list here), and date (or season-use these tips to choose the right wedding date), it’s time to go down the list of wedding vendors and start booking the wedding vendors you need for your big day.

Venue

Your wedding venue is a key part of wedding planning, so make sure you book “the one.” Once you’ve decided on your venue style (rustic, historic, elegant?), it’s time to start searching for the venue that checks off all the boxes on your wedding venue checklist. Ask each wedding venue these important questions (“Is my date/season available? How many people can you accommodate? What is the cost? What does it include? Do you allow caterers to come in?” and these other questions) before you tour the site—and never skip the tour. Contact the wedding venue to set up a tour; don’t rely entirely on the venue’s website or social media pictures. Use your venue tour to look for spaces you need on your wedding day, such as a welcoming foyer, mingling areas, handicap access, changing areas, and a beautiful area for your dinner and dance.

Ceremony Site

If you want to hold your ceremony at your wedding venue, ask your venue if they have an area available for ceremonies (and don’t visit venues that can’t accommodate you). If you prefer to hold your ceremony at another site, visit the site and make sure that it logistically makes sense. You don’t want your guests to go from one end of the earth for your ceremony, only to have to drive forever to get to your reception.

Wedding Planner

bride and groom on steps of elegant historic wedding venueOverwhelmed by all those wedding planning details? Hire a wedding planner to help you wade through all the decisions (or to make the decisions for you). If you don’t want to make another call, contact your wedding venue to see if they offer wedding planning services. You can also ask your friends or family for recommendations for a wedding planner.

Caterer

Wedding food is a key part of your guests’ experience, which is why choosing and hiring a caterer is toward the top of your wedding checklist. Your wedding venue may require you to use their caterer (if they have an open vendor policy, they don’t). If they don’t, ask them for recommendations or poll your friends and family for a wedding caterer who makes delicious wedding dishes.

Entertainer

The best bands and DJs are in demand. Decide on what kind of entertainment you want at your wedding, and start contacting your preferred entertainment vendors. Now that you have secured your venue, you can give the information to your entertainer and start putting together a timeline for your special day.

Invitation Printer

Once you’ve got all your major details nailed down (where and when), it’s time to plan out your invitation strategy. Today’s couples have more options that couples of 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. Inviting your wedding guests is about more than just locating a printer and sending out invitations in the mail. Couples today can use many channels, and it’s your job to locate a vendor that can assist you with invitations and the graphics for your wedding website and social media sites.

Videographer/Photographer

wedding foodIt’s time to choose the wedding vendor that can help you capture all the special moments of your wedding day. Decide whether you want a videographer or photographer (or both), and start asking around for recommendations. You can also start by researching local videographers and photographers online, but make sure you choose a high-quality videographer and photographer. Don’t forget to read the fine print in the contract so both of you are satisfied after your wedding day is over.

Décor

Your wedding decorations are a great way customize your venue (though it doesn’t need to be a budget buster if you use these tips). Talk to your wedding venue for recommendations of décor vendors that can make your dream wedding a reality.

Cake Baker, Wedding attire, Flowers…

Once you have all your major wedding vendors booked, it’s time to fill in the blanks. Your caterer may be able to make your cake, or you can ask your event venue, friends, and family for suggestions. Use these tips for organized wedding planning and this wedding planning checklist to help you stay on deadline right up until your special day.