Category Archives: wedding planning

wedding reception with MR & MRS letters in front of a shiny background at a rainy wedding

Wedding Planning During COVID-19? 5 Wedding Planning Items You Can Tackle (Safely)

Wedding planning during COVID-19 is challenging, but it is still possible to plan the Milwaukee wedding of your dreams. We’ve put together this list of items you can check off your wedding planning checklist and get you one step closer—either virtually or by taking steps to keep you and your fiance safe.     

Finding a Venue

The wedding venue is an important wedding planning step because it creates a powerful first impression and provides a foundation for every other detail. Fortunately, Milwaukee has many beautiful elegant, modern, rustic, and historic wedding venues to choose from. If you have a favorite wedding vendor (i.e. caterer, photographer, etc.), look for a Milwaukee wedding venue with an open vendor policy.  

First step: Once you’ve set a list of criteria for your wedding venue (i.e. style, budget, location), make a list of wedding venues. Contact each wedding venue and ask these important wedding venue questions. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, schedule a wedding tour (with this wedding venue tour checklist). If you aren’t comfortable with an in-person tour, ask the venue for a virtual tour.

Choosing a Date

This wedding planning step can occur before or after choosing a wedding venue. Either way, it’s important to sit down with your fiancé and choose a date or season for your big day. If you’re having trouble settling on a date, consider your professional schedule, important family dates, or the availability of your favorite wedding vendor.

First step: If you have a wedding date in mind, you can contact wedding venues and ask if they are available on that date. If you don’t, you can contact a wedding venue and ask them what dates are available or use one of these other tips for choosing the right wedding date.

Setting a Wedding Budget

A wedding budget is a necessity of wedding planning, giving couples guidance and a chance to get on the same page before they say, “I do.” Fortunately, there are many tools and apps that can help couples set an amount for the important wedding details: dress, venue, food, etc.

First step: Setting a wedding budget starts with a conversation with your fiancé, and any friends or family that have expressed interest in helping cover expenses. If you have any of the latter, discuss the specifics of their gift, including what and how much they are willing to cover, to avoid any misunderstandings later.

Setting a Guest List

You don’t have to know exactly who you’re going to invite to your big day right away, but you should have a general estimate when you book your wedding venue. After you’ve chosen the right setting for your day, it’s time to compile an exact list that you can use for invites and the caterer. Unfortunately, being flexible is an integral part of wedding planning during COVID-19 so it’s important to realize now that you may need to trim the list if the venue capacity is limited by local health department guidelines.

First step: Decide whether you want to host a wedding with kids or an adults-only wedding. (For the latter, use these tips for an adults-only wedding.) Then break down what percentage of guests are added by the bride and groom, what percentage is added by parents, etc. From there, use these guest list tips to finalize the process.

Creating a Wedding Website

Communication is an essential part of wedding planning during COVID-19. With local guidelines for venues continually changing and evolving, it’s more important now than ever to communicate with guests about whether they need to wear masks and other specific guidelines for the big day.

First step: A wedding website can be on social media or with a website builder, and can be created as soon as you want. The website should contain pictures, wedding day details, a link to the wedding registry, parking information, and other key wedding website details.

floral centerpiece with tall gold vase and lilies

Hiring the Best Milwaukee Wedding Vendors: Wedding Vendor List, Questions & Tips

They say it takes a village to raise a child. When it comes to weddings, it takes a full line-up of our city’s best wedding vendors to make a special day happen—and be a beautiful one-of-a-kind occasion. Of course, the right line-up of wedding vendors is different for every couple, which is why we put together a guide to help you choose the best vendors for your special day.

Milwaukee Wedding Vendor List

Just like every couple is different, the exact line-up of wedding vendors is different for every wedding. To complicate matters, some wedding venues require couples to use a vendor or provide a list of wedding vendors to choose from. Other Milwaukee wedding venues have an open vendor policy that allows couples to bring in vendors of their choice.

Because of the difference in wedding venue policies, couples should first determine if there are any vendors they really want for their big day. (Also ask your fiancé these wedding planning questions.) If you have a favorite wedding vendor, look for a Milwaukee venue that allows that couples to bring vendors in (this wedding venue checklist can help with choosing the right wedding venue). Once the wedding venue is chosen, couples should contact this list of wedding vendors:

  • Equipment Rental (for chairs, tables, tableware, etc. if venue or caterer does not provide)
  • Wedding Planner (if desired, or choose a wedding venue with on-staff wedding planner)
  • Officiant
  • Caterer
  • Bakery (if caterer does not make cake)
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Musicians (for ceremony)
  • Band or DJ
  • Florist
  • Décor
  • Wedding Invite Company
  • Transportation (not needed if ceremony and reception are at the same venue)

How to Choose the Best Wedding Vendors

  • Discuss your preferences for your special day with your fiancé, including any vendors you really want for your special day. (Use this list of wedding planning questions to help with your conversation.)
  • Organize your wedding planning. Use a wedding planning checklist (and these wedding planning printables) or wedding planning app to help you meet deadlines. Always contact wedding planners earlier rather than later; procrastinators miss out on the best Milwaukee wedding vendors.
  • Always research wedding vendors before hiring them. Ask friends and family (or a wedding venue planner) for recommendations for quality wedding vendors or research wedding vendors online to ensure you are contacting reputable wedding vendors. Be cautious about hiring wedding vendors without a business address or phone number, or that have a poor online rating.
  • Meet in-person or virtually with wedding vendors. Always review the vendors’ contract carefully before signing on the dotted line.

Questions to Ask a Wedding Vendor

The exact questions may differ, depending on the wedding vendor. In general, ask each wedding vendor these questions:

  • Are you available on our wedding day?
  • What is included in your services? (Some vendors offer package deals, and services and staffing often vary among vendors.)
  • How long have you been in business? Can you provide references or proof of experience?
  • Does the cost include set-up and take-down? (This question applies to equipment vendors.)
  • Do you carry insurance?
  • What event attire do staff wear to weddings? (This question applies if vendors are attending the wedding day.)
  • Do you provide a back-up plan in case of an emergency?
  • What is your rate? Are there any additional fees (i.e. overtime fees, travel costs, etc.) I need to pay? What is the final cost?
  • How much is the deposit? What is your payment policy? When is the deposit due? (Be cautious about hiring vendors that ask for full payment up front.)
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • When can we meet? Can we meet virtually?

How to Avoid the Worst Wedding Budget Mistakes

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

Setting a wedding budget isn’t as much about the total number, but about divvying up the funds you have. It is possible—especially if you avoid these common wedding planning pitfalls that almost every couple makes.

Not asking the hard questions

A solid wedding budget starts with a conversation between you and your fiancé. Discuss the total fund amount, how much you each have to contribute, and where the funds are going to come from (plus these other important wedding planning questions).

Skipping this question—or all of these questions—is a far too common occurrence among couples. The conversation may be awkward, however the discussion is an important first step in discussing finances—and avoiding later conversations about wedding day debts.

Being unclear with friends and family willing to chip in

There are two parts to this common wedding planning mistake: 1) assuming that people want to contribute to your big day, and 2) not confirming the amount of the gift. Couples can avoid any misconceptions (and drama) by asking if the relative or friend wants to contribute (even if they have previously expressed interest in helping you out). Never assume—not even about your parents!

If your friend or family still wants to contribute, make sure expectations are set about the amount they want to contribute. You don’t want to book your dream venue for $2,000, only to find out that your friend or family was expecting a bill for half the amount.

Not using a wedding budget spreadsheet

A wedding binder (either paper or digital) is more than just an awesome place for all your wedding day ideas. It’s also a central spot for all the documents that keep you organized, including the wedding budget spreadsheet.

Wedding budget spreadsheets are an excellent way to allocate funds to areas that make the most impact on guests: the venue, food, and entertainment. If you prefer digital tracking, there are several wedding budget apps that can do the same and track your expenses. The goal of both methods (paper and app) are the same: to keep your wedding costs within budget so you don’t have any post-wedding buyer’s remorse.

Throwing receipts away

Setting a wedding budget is the first step in the process; to many couples, that’s as far as wedding budgeting goes—and the chief reasons many couples go over budget. Don’t neglect the vital next step: tracking all the expenses and recording the expenses. It may seem like a lot of work, especially when all those wedding planning deadlines add up, but it’s well worth the effort when you have a healthy amount left over for the honeymoon.

Spending too much on the littlest details

Beautiful dresses and cute favors are an incredibly tempting splurge, but all those overages add up—often without impacting the overall experience. Instead, allocate the majority of funds for the “big ticket” items that guests love (and remember). At the top of that list is the wedding venue because it is a huge part of guests’ first impression and the stage for all those other details. (This wedding venue checklist helps narrow the options). After the venue, plan on investing the majority of your funds in items that play a big part in the overall experience, including the catering and entertainment. This budget checklist suggests that up to 50% of the overall budget go toward the reception.

Ignoring the fine print

“Who has time to read through all these contracts?” This mantra has been uttered by many couples, but it can also lead to hidden charges and additional fees. To avoid those unpleasant surprises, read through contracts from start to end. Avoid asking open-ended questions (“how much is the cost of your service?”) that don’t give you a full view of the cost. Instead, add questions like “how much time is included in the venue cost?” and “what other costs should we expect?” to your venue interview list (and vendor questions).

Another way to avoid unexpected charges is to book a venue that gives couples a full list of charges at the final planning meeting. This simple step allows couples to make adjustments to the final wedding reception plans that bring the overall cost into budget.

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

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

Your First 5 Wedding Planning Tasks: Where to Start

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planningEverybody has that one thing they really want in their wedding: unique wedding favors, a fantastic DJ, that must-have band, the one-of-a-kind cake or menu option.  Fact is, it’s easy to get caught up in all the details and miss out on a few—and important—wedding planning details.  It can make you miss out on the best site for your reception, the quality caterer, and all the other big details that leave an impression on your guests.  So where do you start wedding planning? Here are five big details that’ll get your wedding planning off on the right foot—and create the perfect foundation for your big day.

Fiance & Family Conversation

We know this first step isn’t technically a wedding detail, but it is vitally important to the wedding planning process.  Talk to your fiance about the guest list (specifically how many), budget, style, and any specific requests or wants they want (you may be surprised!).  If you have other family members that have expressed interest in helping you with planning, talk to them about any guests they want to invite, any financial contributions they may want to make, and any special requests they might have for your big day.

During your conversation, set a date or a time of year for your wedding so you can start to research and confirm the major details of your wedding.

Wedding Venue

It’s time to turn your vision into reality. Start with the one detail that sets the backdrop for your vision, and plays a major part in creating the right atmosphere for your big day.  Decide the area you want to hold your wedding in, and any special needs you might have (i.e. handicap accessibility, parking, close to hotels, etc.)

Contact venues that fit the location and any special needs you have, plus fit the style you and your fiance want for your big day.  For instance, if you’re looking for an elegant venue with character, look for historic venues in the city with plenty of parking.  When you contact the sites, make sure you ask for a list of fees (along with these other questions) to make sure your final cost fits with your wedding budget.


Not everyone can create a delicious spread that fits your atmosphere and delights the taste buds, so make sure you book a quality caterer right after you book the venue.  Some wedding venues require you to use a specific caterer; if you have a caterer you really want to use, ask your wedding venues if they have an open vendor policy.  Open vendor policies allow you to bring in whatever vendors you want and ask the staff for recommendations for others if you don’t know.


If you want excellent wedding entertainment, don’t wait to contact and book entertainers.  The best wedding entertainers’ (bands, DJs, etc.) calendars fill up fast, so make sure you don’t procrastinate.  As soon as you have your date and wedding venue, start contacting and booking the right wedding entertainer for your big day.  Many venues have limitations on how long your wedding entertainment can play, or sound restrictions, so make sure you ask your venue about entertainers before you sign on the dotted line.

Dress shopping

Once you have your backdrop set and have a set wedding atmosphere, it’s time to fill in all the details that make a coordinated wedding—including the dress!  Make sure you wait until after you book the venue to make sure you don’t have a mismatch, such as a traditional hall and a modern dress or a contemporary dress with a historic hall.  It’s time to make sure all your details fit together for a beautiful, coordinated day—and to have fun wedding planning!

What is the best month to get married?

circling wedding date on a calendarIt’s the million dollar question when wedding planning: June. September. October. Those may be the most popular months to get married in, but choosing the right wedding date is actually a very personal question with a different answer for every couple.

We’ve seen weddings during every season of the year, and while we can’t tell you what wedding date is right for you, we can give you some factors to consider that’ll help you choose the right wedding date:

Venue Availability. If you have a dream wedding venue or have located the perfect venue, contact the venue for a list of available dates.  Choose an open date that fits your, your fiancé, and your family’s schedule and you’ve got a date and a venue. (If you don’t have a venue for your wedding in mind, use these tips to find the right site for your wedding.)

Special Dates. Choose a date or dates (just in case) that has special meaning to you or your family, such as your grandparent’s anniversary or the day of your first kiss. If you have a specific date that you absolutely have to have, book your venue as soon as possible to make sure it’s available. 

Budget. To keep your wedding on budget, choose a wedding date that is considered off-season (not June or October, ask your venue what they consider off-season) or on a day of the week other than Saturday.

Work Schedule. If you or your fiance is in a profession that has a “busy season,” choose a season that allows you the time to get away for your wedding and honeymoon.  From there, pick a favorite date or ask your venue for a list of open dates that fall within that season.

Family. Ask your favorite family member for their availability and use that date to book a wedding venue that works for you, your fiance, and your special family member.

Season. If you love a certain season over another, such as a love for the fall season and colors or an appreciation for winter colors, open up your calendar to choose one or two months during your ideal season. Use your second (and incredibly important) decision wedding venue to narrow your pool of wedding dates.

Still uncertain? Here is a very short list of the pros and cons of choosing a wedding date around a particular season. If you want more opinions, contact a venue with seasoned event planners who can help you determine the right date for your big day.


floral bouquet on table with sparkling back drop: outdoor touch for spring weddingPro: Spring weddings can be full of beautiful floral décor and refreshing spring colors.

Con: Spring weather in Wisconsin can be unpredictable, so your chances for outdoor photos may be limited.  On very rare occasions, your date may be interrupted by unpredictable weather (like a May snow storm!).


outside rennaissance place a beautiful wedding venue on a hot summer dayPro: Summer is a beautiful time for weddings with lots of potential for outdoor photographs, bright colors, and a fun summer theme with unique summer wedding ideas.

Con: Wisconsin summers can be hot! Use these tips to keep your wedding cool and fun.


Pro: Fall weather can be beautiful, and so can the trees in your wedding photos if you time your date right.  A fall wedding is also an opportunity to incorporate beautiful autumn touches and colors in your wedding decor.

Con: Fall weather is unpredictable. It can be 60 degrees one day and 30 degrees the next, and we’re not even going to mention the wind.


wedding venue with candles, uplighting, and glittery snow back dropPro: Winter weddings can be a beautiful winter wonderland or celebration of the holiday season.  One of the many perks of a winter wedding is incorporating special tastes of the season that your guests appreciate, such as a hot cocoa bar or tasty sweet holiday treats table.  There are actually many ideas that can make a winter wedding extraordinary.  To save money, ask your venue if your winter date is considered off-season.

Con: A winter weather is a bit of a gamble, with a chance of snow, bitter cold, or a blizzard.

Wedding Planning Tips from the Pros: Ways to Save Money on Your Big Day

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancingCall it experience, call it history.  We guess it’s fitting that the staff of a historical wedding venue would give out tips on how to save funds during wedding planning; we’ve been part of the planning of a wedding or two (or three or 40 or…) and can give you tips on how to stay within your wedding budget while still planning the day of your dreams (we’ve done it before!).

Look for beauty and budget-friendly when choosing your wedding venue.

When you start planning your wedding, sit down with your fiance and create a wedding day budget.  This helps you fall into the trap of 1) spending without a plan; 2) paying too much for one area of your wedding, such as your wedding venue, and not having enough funds for other areas.  That doesn’t mean you have to hold your wedding in a dirty wedding hall; don’t make assumptions about the cost of a beautiful wedding venue before you contact the wedding hall.  Believe it or not, beautiful, budget-friendly wedding venues do exist.  There are several in Milwaukee, such as 1451 Renaissance Place, which is located near hotels for guests and is an elegant, affordable wedding venue.

Set a unique wedding date when other couples don’t.

wedding planningLate fall, winter, or early spring are considered off-season, which means that many wedding venues and vendors give discounts to couples who choose a wedding date during these times of year.

Choose a wedding venue where you can choose your vendors—and your savings.

If you want to add up all the savings from an off-season wedding date, or just want to choose the vendors that can give you the biggest savings, look for a wedding venue that lets you select the vendors (called an open vendor policy).  Not every wedding venue has an open vendor policy, so add this to your list of questions to ask your wedding venue.

Plan a Friday evening, Sunday brunch or holiday date for your wedding date.

If you want to hold your wedding during “peak season,” but want to shave dollars off your wedding budget, ask your wedding venue if there are discounts for holding your wedding on a holiday, weekday, or Sunday. Again, these non-typical days are often open because they are less popular wedding dates.

Hold your ceremony and reception in the same wedding venue.

cookies for wedding guestsIf you want to eliminate costs associated with transportation from the ceremony to reception, choose a wedding venue with space for both.  Make sure you ask about specific spaces for each part of your wedding day so your guests don’t have to stand in the middle of the clean-up being done by venue employees.

Take it easy with wedding favors.

As wonderful as wedding favors are (we’ve even given you 50 ideas for the perfect wedding favor for your big day), resist the temptation to order too many.  It’s one of the most common mistakes made by couples: ordering way too many favors and wasting money that doesn’t get used.

Ask for ideas.

Many wedding venue and vendors have had experience with helping couples stay within their wedding budget.  Don’t be afraid to ask them for ideas.  Staff members can make recommendations that help you make budget-friendly wedding decisions that keep you on track and give you the day of your dreams. Some wedding venues, such as 1451 Renaissance Place, even offer a final wedding planning meeting that allows you to see the wedding venue costs before your wedding day, allowing you to make final changes that keep you within your wedding budget.

7 Ways to Choose the Perfect Wedding Date

couple cutting cake on wedding dateEvery bride and groom’s path to choosing their big day is different.  For a friend of ours, it was a fall wedding she stood up in—and loved the colors and weather.  After she got engaged, she called venues to determine their open fall dates.  Once she chose her ideal venue, the date was set, and all the fun wedding planning began.

We’ve seen many wedding dates set at our venue (and many weddings and wedding receptions happen!) so we thought we’d give you some tips on how to set the perfect wedding date.


If you’ve had visions of a soft sparkling white winter wedding reception with hints of cranberry and evergreen, or need to set a summer wedding date because of your busy season at work, you have some flexibility when choosing your wedding date.  Open up your calendar to choose one or two months during your ideal season, and use your second—and incredibly important—decision, your wedding venue, to narrow your pool of wedding dates.

Venue Availability

Found a venue that you just can’t wait to get married in? Have you been dreaming of a venue you saw online?  Once you’ve visited the wedding site to confirm it’s as beautiful in person as it is online (this is a must)—and you’ve gotten engaged—contact the venue for a list of available dates.  Choose an open date that fits you and your fiancé’s schedule and—boom!—you’ve got two items checked off on your wedding planning checklist: date and venue. (If you don’t have a venue for your wedding in mind, use these tips to find the right site for your wedding.)

Special Dates

Your grandparents’ wedding date.  The day you met.  The day of your first date.  Your parents’ wedding date.  The day you became engaged.  If you have a specific date with sentimental meaning, try to book your wedding venue as soon as possible to make sure your ideal date at the perfect venue is available.


We’ll just say it: weddings are expensive (that’s why we’ve given you tips on how to save money while planning your wedding while planning your wedding).  If you want to save money with numerous vendors, choose a wedding date that is considered off-season (ask your vendors what they consider off-season) or on a day other than a Saturday (again this varies between vendors so ask them for what days they consider off season).

Wedding Vendors

Do you have a wedding photographer or caterer you really, really want to use?  Contact them for available dates, and choose an open date for your wedding day.  If you have a wedding caterer you’ve always wanted, you are going to need to coordinate two schedules: the caterer and a venue with an open vendor policy.  Many venues require you to use their caterer, so this should be one of the first questions (of many-a full list of questions to ask your wedding venue is here) when you contact your venues.

Work Schedule

If you want to have lots of time to take care of last minute wedding planning tasks, your wedding, and a honeymoon—without rushing into the office during and after—contact prospective wedding venues for dates during your professional “off time.”  For example, if you are a teacher, a summer wedding gives you time to “get away” for your wedding (use these tips for keeping your guests cool at your summer nuptials).  Landscapers, farmers, builders, and any other professionals dependent on the weather: this tip for choosing a wedding date may apply to you.


Is there just one thing that could make your big day the most special day of your life—having a very important family member at your wedding ceremony and reception?  Ask your VIP family member for their availability and use that date to book a wedding venue on a date that works for you, your fiance, and your special family member.

How long does it take to plan a wedding? Where do I start my wedding planning?

10632619_10152731218526803_2716563146322134270_nThere is no standard answer to this question; if you ask Google “how long does it take to plan a wedding?” the search engine’s answer is six months. The truth is somewhere in the middle: wedding planning can be done in a short amount of time or as long as years depending on your schedule as a couple.

More important than the amount of time you have is the amount you can accomplish; wedding planning is a process that does take time. Once you get through the initial excitement of your engagement, it’s time to jump in and kick start your wedding planning.

Where to start

Before you go dress shopping, before you order your cake, sit down with your fiancé (and any other family members involved with the wedding planning) and discuss your vision, style, budget, options and needs. Even if your fiancé seems uninterested in wedding planning, find out if he or she has any preferences for your big day. If your parents or other family members have expressed interest in helping pay for your big day, talk to them now and find out how much they are offering, or what expenses they want to cover. Set your budget higher than you expect—incidental costs often come in higher than you anticipate.

Next set a date, which can be three months or three years out—again it’s all dependent on your schedule as a couple. Setting a date does not mean focusing on a single day, though you can if you want to get married on an anniversary, holiday, birthday, or other special day.

If you are on a time crunch, consider holding your wedding on a non-traditional day, such as a Thursday, Friday or Sunday, when wedding halls, caterers, photographers and other wedding vendors tend to be available. Also try to choose wedding venues where many of the details are set, such as a venue where the wait staff and coat check is included. Schedule appointments with potential wedding venues so you can narrow down your options.

For couples who have longer to plan their wedding, start with a date, month and year, or series of dates. Set in stone the major details of your wedding: wedding venue, date, and any specific vendors you want on your special day. Contact venues to find out what dates they have available, and make appointments with the halls to view your options.

Decide who is going to take your wedding planning from there

wedding planningSome couples want to handle every step, every detail of their wedding planning. If that’s who you are as a couple, set a schedule of tasks that need to be done as your selected date draws near. If you are splitting up the wedding planning to-do’s before you say I do, be very clear about who is doing what and what deadlines need to be met.

If you as a couple don’t have the time, have a lot of professional obligations, or just feel overwhelmed by all the wedding planning, look for a wedding planner or a wedding venue with event planners on staff. An event planner can book your important details, such as your wedding venue and food, and coordinate all the small details so your wedding matches your vision, no matter how long or how short of a time you have for wedding planning.

Enjoy the results

Wedding planning is a labor of love so keep your eye on the goal: a memorable wedding that fits the two of you as a couple. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask your wedding venue staff, wedding planner, friends and family.   Wedding planning is a team effort, and the result, your special day, is worth the effort.

Wedding Planning Tasks to Get Done Over the Holidays

wedding planningThe holidays are crazy busy, but they are also an opportunity for couples wedding planning. We can hear you: “Seriously?! I’ve got too much to do!” Whether you just got engaged over the holidays, or you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on your wedding planning, the holidays are your chance to “get the ball rolling” and start checking off boxes from your wedding checklist.

So why are the holidays the right time to get started? Depending on your occupation, you and your fiancé may have less professional obligations. If you have family coming into town, this is your chance to involve them in the wedding planning process.

Booking your venue

wedding day venueBefore you design the invitations, or plan the flowers, you’ll need to start by choosing the right wedding venue for your special day. While choosing the right venue sounds easy, reserving the perfect site is a lot like Goldilocks in the story about the three bears. You need to find a site that’s not too big and not too small. Fortunately, you don’t have to eat porridge to find the “just right” venue, but finding the place that’s perfect does require a conversation with your fiancé about all the factors you both need to consider when selecting the perfect wedding venue such as your style as a couple, your needs, expected amount of guests, date, and budget. We’ve written in depth about how to choose the perfect venue in a past blog post.

Once you’ve set your wedding venue criteria, set up appointments to visit halls. If you can’t personally visit the hall, send someone you trust. Make sure you ask questions and confirm every detail, and enjoy your storybook transformation from Goldilocks finding the right place to one of those fabled princesses or princes who finally finds true love.

Dress shopping

The holidays are an ideal time for dress shopping when your friends and family are in town and off of work. Remember, wedding and bridesmaid dresses should be ordered 6-12 months before the wedding day. If you can, make an appointment at your preferred dress shops. An advanced heads-up ensures enough staff to give you personal service.

When you go dress shopping, use this piece of advice: select who comes along with you carefully. While your friend or family member may be an enthusiastic dress shopper, you don’t need a “Negative Nancy” when choosing your special dress. You don’t need a full entourage either, no matter what you see on those TV shows. Use caution when choosing friends and family to come along for a less stressful, and fun, experience.


wedding foodThe food at your wedding is a huge part of your big day and a decision that should not be made lightly. If you have a caterer in mind, be sure to ask the question, “can I use my preferred caterer at your venue?” when researching wedding venues. Some venues only allow certain caterers, or have an in-house caterer that you are required to use. On the other hand, venues with open vendor policies allow any licensed caterer to serve at their location.

If you do have a choice of caterer, make sure you ask caterers you are seriously considering for a taste test and information about their services. Be very clear about what you want at your wedding, so your caterer can give you accurate pricing information.

These items are by no means an end-all list (you can find that full planning list here); feel free to book your entertainment (once you’ve booked your hall), select and draft your invitations and save the dates, book your photographer or videographer, and choose a florist. If you don’t have the time, or just feel overwhelmed by it all, add another criteria to your wedding venue list: a wedding venue with event planners on staff. An event planner can book your important details, such as your wedding venue and food, and coordinate all the small details so your wedding planning doesn’t feel as crazy busy as the holidays.