Cue the confetti, the stars in your eyes, and the endless stream of well-wishes – you're engaged! Congratulations on this magical milestone that marks the beginning of your journey down the aisle. Now that the sparkle of that gorgeous ring has settled in, it's time to embark on the adventure of wedding planning. Fear not, dear brides and grooms-to-be, for we have your first-class ticket to the exciting world of "I Do's" right here. Let's dive into the first steps of turning your engagement bliss into a beautifully orchestrated wedding celebration!
1. **Soak in the Moment: Celebrate Your Love!**
- Revel in the joy of being engaged before diving into the planning frenzy. Once you start planning, it becomes a job. Take as much time as you want to just soak in all of the love as an engaged couple.
- Host an engagement party or intimate celebration with close family and friends. This is a great opportunity to ask your besties to be part of your wedding party! (If you need help curating a proposal box, we can help with that!)
2. **Dream a Little Dream: Define Your Vision**
- Sit down with your partner and discuss your dream wedding vision. You may think you both want the same things but until you talk about it all, you can't be sure.
- Consider themes, colors, and overall vibes that reflect your unique love story.
3. **Budget BFFs: Set a Realistic Wedding Budget **
- Determine a realistic budget that aligns with your vision and financial situation. No one should be going into debt over their wedding. It's a huge day in your lives, yes, but you don't want to start the next chapter together stressed over finances.
- Consider priorities and allocate funds accordingly. Think about weddings you've attended in the past, what stood out to you and what things didn't. This will help you prioritize your must haves vs. nice to haves.
4. **Ring in the Professionals: Research and Book Key Vendors**
- Start scouting for wedding professionals like a wedding planner, photographer, and venue. If you have particular vendors in mind, book them early. Wedding dates book up fast, so you'll want to score your dream team early on.
- Attend bridal shows, read reviews, and schedule consultations to find your crew. Be sure to ask the important questions when interviewing a potential vendor. They should be informative and professional and you should have good vibes about working with them. If someone rubs you the wrong way for any reason even if they check all the other boxes, keep searching.
5. **Lock Down the Date: Choose a Wedding Date**
- Consider meaningful dates or seasons that hold significance for you as a couple or decide if you're open to being flexible.
- Check the availability of key venues and vendors for your chosen date.
6. **Guest List Galore: Draft an Initial Guest List**
- Begin compiling a rough guest list to estimate the size of your celebration. It's helpful to break it down into your A List (closest friends/family that you couldn't imagine your day without), B List (more distant friends/family, coworkers, plus ones) and Courtesy invites (the guests that are unlikely to attend but still should be invited ie: elderly family or out of the country guests).
- Considerations for family, friends, and any must-invite guests.
7. **Venue Vibes: Select Your Dream Wedding Venue**
- Visit potential venues that match your vision and budget.
- Ask about available dates, capacity, and inclusions.
8. **Save the Date Magic: Announce Your Wedding**
- Create and send save-the-dates to give guests a heads up.
- Utilize creative and personalized designs that reflect your style. Need help designing? Keep It Sweet Studios can create custom stationary designs to fit your vision.
9. **Pinterest Paradise: Create a Wedding Inspiration Board**
- Dive into the world of Pinterest to gather inspiration for decor, dresses, and more. (Bonus points if you break it up into sections). This is so helpful for creating a cohesive vision and communicating your preferences to your vendors.
10. **Stay Organized: Set Up a Wedding Planning System**
- Choose a planning tool, whether it's a wedding planning app or a physical binder. (We offer organizational tools when you book our planning or coordination services.)
- Keep track of contracts, timelines, and to-dos to stay on top of the planning process.
With these initial steps, you're well on your way to transforming your engagement excitement into a well-coordinated wedding celebration. Enjoy every moment of this planning journey, and remember, it's not just about the destination – it's about the joyous adventure you embark upon together. Here's to love, laughter, and the happily ever after you're about to create! Cheers!
Congratulations! You've found the love of your life, and now it's time to plan the celebration of a lifetime – your wedding! While the excitement is palpable, the thought of budgeting might seem daunting. Fear not! We're here to guide you through the process step by step.
Setting the Stage: Before diving into the specifics, let's establish an overall budget. The average cost of a wedding can vary, but a good starting point is to determine what you're comfortable spending. Whether it's $10,000 or $100,000, knowing your limit helps set the stage for a budget that suits your style.
Having "The Talk": No, not about the birds and the bees; the talk about money(although, it can be equally awkward in it's own right). If it has not been clearly established who will be contributing to the wedding and how much, it's important to have those conversations in order to create realistic expectations from all parties involved. The bride's parents paying for the whole wedding is rarely how things go anymore. Often times parents or loved ones will gift a certain amount, or contribute towards specific vendors, but make sure to have an open and honest conversation everything before booking anyone. Some people feel that if they're paying, they have the right to a say in who you book. If that's not something you're ok with, it's better to set those boundaries early on or graciously decline their financial assistance.
The Breakdown: Now, let's break down the budget into bite-sized pieces. We've created a handy detailed spreadsheet that you can fill out found here. Below is a practical guide to help you allocate your funds:
Hey there, lovebirds! Planning your dream wedding is an exciting adventure, filled with joy, laughter, and a touch of magic. As you gear up for the big day, don't forget about the incredible team of vendors working behind the scenes to make your wedding dreams come true. Now, we know you're wrapped up in the whirlwind of wedding planning, but it's time to talk about spreading a little extra love – through tipping! In this guide, we'll break down the who, when, and how much, ensuring your wedding vendors feel appreciated and valued.
(Be sure to always check your contracts to see if gratuity is already included in the total cost.)
A few things to consider:
Forget the old rule about not tipping owners of a business. If you're happy with the service provided to you, you should tip regardless of whether they own their business or not. It’s not always about the money—it’s the praise and recognition that comes with even a modest tip. But the old practice of NOT tipping a business owner is outdated. Business owners often wear many hats and do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure they deliver a quality product to make your day perfect so they definitely deserve the extra thank you.
Can you give a gift or gift card instead of cash? Sure, tips in all forms are appreciated however vendors tend to prefer cash. They've likely been gifted a "Best Wedding Photographer Ever" water bottle already but that extra cash can help feed their families.
Saying "thank you" without spending more money? Wedding reviews are GOLD. Since these real-life recommendations can make or break the success of a company, a positive review will be appreciated more than you know.
You do NOT need to give 20% across the board.
You do NOT need to tip every wedding vendor.
Who distributes the tips?
Delegate this task to a trusted and reliable person. It can be a family member or a member of your wedding party or your Day of Coordinator (at Keep It Sweet Studios, we make sure all tips are distributed appropriately and collect signatures to confirm they received it). Make sure to clearly label your envelopes and seal them so no cash "goes missing" or falls out.
When should tips be distributed?
There's no one way to distribute tips. Some couples choose to distribute at the beginning of the night, split the tips between the beginning and the end, some wait until a week or two after their event and send tips separately. Most commonly, tips are given towards the end of the evening. You can distribute them any way you choose.
The VIPs - Who to Tip:
Congratulations, blushing bride (or groom)-to-be! As you twirl through the excitement of planning your dream day, it's time to put on your organizing shoes and dive into the world of wedding vendors. Feeling overwhelmed? Fear not, because we've got your back! Let's break down the timeline for booking these magical professionals and make your journey to "I do" as smooth as your dance moves.
12-18 Months Before: The Dream Team Assemble
As you embark on this adventure, start by locking down the essentials. Secure your venue and wedding date, and then snag your photographer and videographer. These shutterbugs capture the essence of your love story, freezing those special moments in time. Top-notch talent tends to book up early, so don't be shy – grab them while you can! Start to draft your guest list and separate it into an A List, B List, and Courtesy invites so you can get a realistic idea of how many guests to expect.
10-12 Months Before
Now that you've got the foundation laid, it's time to bloom with your florist. Work with these creative geniuses to craft the perfect arrangements, bringing your vision to life with a burst of color and fragrance. Locking in your florist early ensures your big day is awash in the hues that express your unique love story. You'll also want to decide on an officiant, if it's going to be a friend/family member, a priest, rabbi etc. now's the time to start reaching out. It's a great time to invite your favorite people to be part of your wedding party! If you really want to make a special impact, we can custom curate proposal boxes for your I Do Crew! Before those save the dates get sent, you'll probably want to snag some engagement photos, now is a great opportunity.
8-10 Months Before
The beat of your heart meets the melody of your love – time to book your DJ or live band! These maestros set the tone for your celebration, so choose wisely. And while you're at it, consult with your caterer to create a menu that will make your taste buds tango. Early booking means you'll have time for those all-important tastings and tweaks. If you haven't already done so, dress shopping is a must. Most dresses take about 6-8 months to come in so you'll want to give yourself enough time to have alterations done. In demand hair and makeup artists book fast, if there's someone's style you love, lock them in before they book up.
6-8 Months Before
Now that the rhythm is building, let's talk fashion and stationery. It's time to lock in your bridal party's attire. Simultaneously, work with a stationer to design invitations that set the stage for the celebration of a lifetime. These pieces of art will be the first glimpse your guests have into the joyous journey ahead. It's also a great time to start sending out your save the dates to give your guests ample time to make arrangements. If you have a lot of guests who are traveling, send them out a bit on the earlier side. Now is a good time to start booking your honeymoon. (Pro tip- speak with a travel agent to have them take that task off your plate.)
4-6 Months Before
It's time to indulge in the sweet side of love – your cake! Book your baker and dive into delicious tastings to find the perfect confection. Meanwhile, schedule your trial with your hair and makeup team to ensure you'll be glowing with bridal radiance. These artists will have you looking like a vision as you glide down the aisle. Make sure the guys are all suited up with their groomsman attire. If ordering from an online service, make sure they do an at home trial so they know exactly what to order before the big day. You should start looking at ordering your wedding bands at this time.
2-4 Months Before
With the big pieces in place, turn your attention to the smaller details that make your day uniquely yours. Book your rentals, plan your transportation, and consider adding a photo booth for extra fun and memories. These little touches make a big impact, turning your wedding into an unforgettable experience for you and your guests. Ensure that transportation is available (if needed) from your hotel to your venue.
1-2 Months Before
As the big day approaches, dot those i's and cross those t's. Apply for your marriage license, get your signage made/printed, confirm final details with your vendors, create a day-of timeline, and schedule your rehearsal to ensure everyone is ready to hit their marks. Be sure to buy any extra accessories and break in those wedding shoes so you can party all night. With the finish line in sight, you can almost hear the wedding bells ringing!
Enjoy your last single weeks with your besties and enjoy your bachelor/bachelorette parties! Ensure your wedding attire alterations are done to your liking and finalize music selections, head count and seating arrangements. Set aside marked envelopes for vendor tips that are clearly labeled. Make sure to pack up all of your decor with labels, pack up your emergency kit and get ready to party!
The Value of a Professional Planner: Your Secret Weapon
If this list seems like a lot, well... it is. This is an over view of all of the tasks but there are still more tiny details in between. While you're the star of the show, a professional planner can be your behind-the-scenes superhero, ensuring every detail falls into place seamlessly. From vendor coordination to timeline management, the experts turn your vision into reality, allowing you to savor every moment of your special day stress-free.
What's the difference between a Day of Coordinator and a Full Wedding Planner?
Both options are coordinated through a professional wedding planner. When you don’t know where to begin and don’t want to do much thinking through the whole wedding process, definitely go for the full wedding planning package. We will make it as easy as possible for you. We'll help create your timeline, decide on a theme, find vendors like catering, bakery, band or musician and a photographer. They make sure everyone is where they are suppose to be when they're suppose to be there. Professional planners also have a great contact list of preferred vendors to help narrow down your search and ensure that everyone is reliable and professional.
Hey there, lovebirds and soon-to-be-wed couples! As you dive into the whirlwind of wedding planning, don't forget about one of the most important details: accommodations for your guests. Let's talk hotel blocks!
1. What Exactly is a Hotel Block? A hotel block, also known as a room block, is a set of rooms reserved at a specific hotel for a particular event, such as your wedding. These rooms are earmarked for your guests, often at a discounted rate, ensuring they have convenient lodging close to your venue.
2. Why Should I Consider Booking a Hotel Block? Well, aside from being a total lifesaver for your out-of-town guests, booking a hotel block ensures everyone has a comfy spot to crash after boogying down at your reception. Plus, who doesn't love scoring a deal? Discounted rates make it easier for your squad to join in the celebration without breaking the bank. It also makes things much easier if planning on providing transportation if everyone's in one place
3. When Should I Start Booking Hotel Blocks? It's advisable to start the process as soon as you've confirmed your wedding date and venue. Trust us, the early bird catches the worm (or, in this case, the best room blocks). Peak wedding seasons can be a frenzy, so get ahead of the game and secure those rooms ASAP.
4. How Many Rooms Should I Reserve? The number of rooms you reserve depends on your guest list and the percentage of out-of-town guests you anticipate. A general rule is to estimate the number of guests needing accommodations and reserve a few extra rooms to accommodate unforeseen circumstances.
5. What is Attrition, and How Does it Affect My Booking? Now, let's tackle the elephant in the room: attrition. Attrition refers to the difference between the number of rooms booked within your block and the number of rooms actually occupied. Many hotels include an attrition clause in their contracts, stipulating that if a certain percentage of rooms within the block are not booked, you may be responsible for paying for those unoccupied rooms.
6. How Can I Mitigate Attrition Risks? To mitigate the risk of attrition, ensure clear communication with your guests about the hotel block and encourage them to book their rooms early. Negotiate with the hotel to minimize attrition penalties or consider options such as a sliding scale, where the penalty decreases as the occupancy rate within the block increases.
7. What Happens if Not All Rooms in the Block Are Reserved? Most hotels have a cutoff date by which guests must book their rooms to receive the discounted rate within the block. Any rooms remaining unreserved after this date may be released back to the hotel's general inventory. Communicate the cutoff date clearly to your guests to encourage timely bookings.
8. Can I Customize the Booking Process for My Guests? Many hotels offer customizable booking options, such as personalized booking links or codes for your guests. This simplifies the booking process and ensures that their reservations are counted towards your room block. Most hotels will also distribute your welcome bags to your guests (Keep It Sweet Studios can help you design one of a kind welcome bags filled with goodies for your crew!)
Booking hotel blocks for your wedding is a thoughtful gesture that enhances the experience for your guests. By understanding the FAQs and considering factors like attrition, you can navigate this aspect of wedding planning with confidence, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable stay for all. Cheers to love, laughter, and happily ever after! 🥂💕
Pro tip: Don't feel like doing the research yourself? No problem! Kleinfeld's hotel block service is completely free and does all the legwork for you. They use their relationships with top hotel companies to get you and your guests the best prices.
Ah, the quest for the perfect wedding venue that sets the stage for the most magical day of your life! As you embark on this journey, the choices may seem endless, but fear not! We're here to guide you through the enchanting world of venues, helping you find the one that will make your heart skip a beat.
Reflecting Your Style: Where Personality Meets Place
Nestled in the heart of Cooperstown, New York, the Shadow Brook Campground witnessed a truly enchanting wedding that seamlessly blended the families of Ellen & Gary. This unique celebration, meticulously crafted from the ground up unfolded as a picturesque weekend filled with love, laughter, and unforgettable moments.
Designing the Dream: Two years in the making, the foundation of this extraordinary wedding was laid with thoughtful planning and creative design. Ellen told me at our first meeting that she and Gary were buying a campground and it was their dream to get married there to celebrate all aspects of their new chapter. We were given a truly blank canvas of an open field overlooking their pond. We said, "say no more" and we hit the ground running with design and logistics. We worked closely with the couple to create a personalized experience that reflected their individuality and honored their backgrounds. From the hand crafted chuppah for their ceremony to the elegant tented reception every detail was carefully curated to ensure a magical atmosphere.
Uniting Traditions: While the groom is not jewish, one of the standout features of this wedding was the harmonious integration of Jewish customs and the the blending of the two families. The ceremony beautifully combined elements such as the breaking of the glass and singing of jewish blessings. The chuppah (that the groom built himself!) was draped in passed family members' tallits and adorned with stunning florals from Rose Is A Rose. This seamless blending of traditions showcased the couple's commitment to honoring their respective heritages and families.
A Family Affair: The bride's three children played an integral role in the celebration, adding a heartwarming touch to the proceedings. Beyond being the wedding party, they took center stage during the officiation, contributing to the vows and exchanging heartfelt promises with the couple. Additionally, the children graced the celebration with a touching rendition of the couple's processional and first dance songs, making it an unforgettable family affair without a dry eye in the house.
A Weekend of Celebration: When you own the venue, why keep it to one day? The festivities extended beyond the wedding day, turning the occasion into a full-fledged wedding weekend. We orchestrated a series of events, beginning with a warm welcome BBQ from Tickled Pink BBQ, complete with live performances by the Rylee Lum Band and a campfire singalong by Dennis Winge. This laid-back gathering created the perfect backdrop to allow guests to mingle, eat and get to know one another. The big day was no less exciting, with a fabulous disco inspired reception (complete with a disco ball) that had everyone shaking their groove thang!
Food for Thought: On the wedding day itself, a grab and go breakfast station was set up to fuel up their guests before they enjoyed their morning and early afternoon exploring Cooperstown. Upon their return, guests were greeted with a pre-ceremony "Happy Hour" with light bites and raspberry kissed champagne. During the reception guests enjoyed a gourmet meal provided by Chef Deanna and her team before burning it off on the dance floor. The celebrations concluded with a heartfelt farewell brunch provided by Rooster On The Run, offering the perfect opportunity for guests to bid adieu and share their well-wishes with the newlyweds.
Congratulations Ellen & Gary: The wedding at Shadowbrook Campground stands as a testament to the power of thoughtful planning and the magic that unfolds when traditions are blended with creativity. From the tented ceremony to the heartwarming involvement of the bride's children and the well-planned weekend of events, this celebration was a true reflection of love, unity, and artistry. As the sun set over Cooperstown, the newlyweds embarked on their journey together, surrounded by the warmth of family and friends who had witnessed the creation of a truly magical wedding weekend. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds!
The Dream Team
Planning, Design & Coordination: Keep It Sweet Studios
Venue: Cooperstown Shadow Brook Campground
Tent & Rentals: Morris Tent Rentals
Entertainment: Rylee Lum Band, Dennis Winge, La Valley Group (DJ)
Catering: Chef Deanna, Rooster On The Run, Tickled Pink BBQ
Bartending: Sunrise Specialty Catering
Photography: Paul Saunders Photography
Florals: Rose Is A Rose Florist
Cake: Keep It Sweet Studios
Dessert Table: Kelly Banks Cakes
As of January 2023, Keep It Sweet Studios LLC is officially a registered business! As a solo operation, this was a huge step forward. I'm excited to see where this venture goes. I'd love to hear what you want to see offered. Shoot me a message with your ideas!