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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part VI (2 Months)

Photo credit: Rebecca Moses (ColinCowieWeddings.com)

2 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Note from the Editor:  And the eight-week countdown commences!  Your wedding will be here before you know it.  Take some time to reflect.  You are about to go from “Ms.” to “Mrs.”!  Allow yourself to remember your single journey, embrace it, journal about it, and look forward to your shared future with intention and a heart full of faith, hope, and love.  

I hope you enjoy today’s post from planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown as we near the end of the Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series...  

Happy planning + much love!

Lauren

OK, my Brides and Grooms, we are coming to a close with no time to lose!  Here’s my rundown for the two-month marker from your big day!

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Messina, Flowers by Amy Osaba (Lonny.com)

Set Hair and Makeup Appointments, and Decide on Your Big Day Look!

  1. Bring along your headpiece and jewelry if available.

  2. If possible, make the final appointment for your hair and nails the day before the wedding or day-of, so your hairstyle and manicure are fresh.

  3. If a makeup artist is being used, set the appointment time and location and how many in your party will be utilizing that service.

Meet with Your Officiant, and Confirm Ceremony Details and Guidelines with Vendors & Participants

  1. Musicians and anyone having a part within the ceremony should be met with in order to confirm times, schedules/order, and responsibilities.

  2. Confirm delivery times for florist, bakery, photographer, and any other vendors.

  3. Check lighting with photographers and videographers and their positioning during ceremony.

  4. Know what time will guest be admitted and communicate to responsible parties.

  5. Know the answers to and communicate often forgotten logistics, such as:

    - Where will guestbook be located?

    - Do you have to provide a podium, tables, and other wedding supplies (candelabra, etc.), or does the venue take care of everything you’ll need?

    - What are cleanup/breakdown time factors for  any props?

    - Is there storage available if any items need to be left overnight for picky vendors?  If so, who will handle that at venue and Is there a fee?

Picture of marriage license

 

 

Apply for your Marriage License!

(Can’t be official without this)!

 

Have Completed Programs and Menus Printed

(Your caterer may do menus for you).

  

Plan Hospitality/Welcome Bags or Baskets for Out-of-Town Guests

Maybe you want to keep your theme or you and your intended’s story in mind to personalize the gifts.  Perhaps, you are getting married at a destination location and want to incorporate that somehow in your welcome gift.  Make them fun and inexpensive, but be creative!

Check back soon for the final part in this series!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part IV (6 Months)

6 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

We're halfway there in our Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series!  We hope you enjoy this entry of key to-do's at the 6-month point!

Send out Save-the-Dates!

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Photo credit: Project Wedding

 

Choose & Order Bridal Party Dresses

(Bridesmaids' dresses, flower girl dress, and look for accessories)

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Photo credit: Bride to Be (AU)

Realize that everyone is not always happy with your choice. They need to get over it, and realize the honor of being chosen! However, do your best to keep body shapes, height, and bridesmaids’ confidence in mind. A size 6, backless, off-the-shoulder may not look as good in a size 18, so consider slightly different designs, which most dressmakers will have.

Remember to get a swatch of dress colors for shoe shopping and vendors!

 

Book Honeymoon

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Catch a Falling Star Resort, Negril, Jamaica - Photo credit: GetWedforLess.com

Here are my honeymoon quick tips:

- Get travel and cancellation insurance.  (You NEVER know what may happen; it's better to be safe than sorry).

- Check for discounts via different airport departures.

- Confirm any immunizations or special documents needed if leaving the country.

- Book to leave for your honeymoon the day after the wedding or later - you’ll need the rest! 

- Check for all-inclusive couples resorts for great deals.

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part III (8 Months)

Thanks for joining us!  Today, we unveil what to check off your list at the 8-month mark from your wedding day.  One of our fave wedding planners and feature bloggers Jeffrey Brown gives advice on accommodation booking, we chat more about your wedding dress, and we start getting your wheels turning for unique wedding registries.  Enjoy!

8 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

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Photo credit: VESA Photography

If You Haven't Already... Buy Your Gown!

Your gown can take up to 6 months to receive depending on your salon and manufacturer/seamstress.  Alteration time should also be accounted for, so give yourself a comfortable, stress-free window for needed adjustments.  8 months is the minimum lead time recommended by most professional planners and bridal dress boutiques for ordering your wedding gown.

 

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Photo credit: Crystal City Marriott, VA

Block Hotel Rooms

Jeffrey Brown, owner and lead planner of JaiLynn Events in Washington, DC, lets his brides and grooms know that blocking hotel rooms and locking in prices for out-of-town guests are important tasks to complete at the 8-month mark.  

He also advises, “Book a suite for you and any bridal party members the night before if staying.  Also, remember to book a suite for you and your groom the night after your BIG day.  Have your room and bridal party separate from out of-town guests and away from the groom’s room if he is staying there, too.”

This would all be in vain if our folks don't book on-time, so be sure to let critical guests know what accommodations are available to them ASAP - and definitely in the wedding invitation and/or website.  

 

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Set up Your Gift Registry

Nowadays, there are a plethora of options for gift registries.  You may opt for the popular wedding registry route, utilizing registries from hot spots like Target or Macy’s, or you can mix it up a bit!  Today, brides and grooms are opting for honeymoon registries in which your guests contribute financially to your romantic getaway.  Some philanthropic couples have elected cause-based gifting by allowing guests to donate to a meaningful charity, mission, or other non-profit in lieu of (or in conjunction with) the couple’s personal gifts.  It’s your wedding - get creative!  

Regardless of the registry path you choose, I also recommend using a universal wedding registry system, like MyRegistry, that allows you to add gifts from any website - even big buying outlets like Amazon - in one convenient location.

Until next time... Happy planning!

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Engagement Session 411

Engagement Sessions are a great way to document this amazing milestone in yours and your future hubby's life! And there are always a ton of questions that come along with planning an engagement shoot, which is why I decided to write this blog today :) I hope you enjoy!
 
Engagement Session 411:

Congratulations, you are officially betrothed!  This is such an exciting time for my pre-newlyweds, and most love to document their new milestone with photos.  For many couples, setting up an engagement shoot proves to be a fun and meaningful journey into their upcoming wedding planning.  Of course, some may worry they can’t handle the stress of arranging for the perfect engagement shoot, what with the larger task of ‘The Wedding’ looming in the future.  Undoubtedly, it can seem like a lot to take on, but with the right tools and a committed photographer (ahem!) to help you along, the planning and shoot can be both simple and fun!  To get you started, here are a few of my personal tips on how to ensure your engagement session is absolutely awesome:

engagement photo dc

1. Location, Location, Location
One of the very first questions I get asked when preparing for an engagement session is, “Where should we go?”  Quite honestly, the answer to that inquiry is unique to each and every couple.  Usually I probe a couple’s history by asking leading questions; i.e., “Where was your first date?,” “Where was your first kiss?,” “Where was the proposal?”  I typically advise my couples that it is important to consider places that are meaningful to them.  And not to worry - most photographers are more than willing to work with you regarding location choice… for instance, one couple I know had their photos taken in front of the Eiffel Tower at King’s Dominion!

2. Wardrobe Considerations
Ladies, here’s your chance to tell the men, “Yes, clothes are important!”  Of course, this depends on your own sense of style, but my suggestions always include the following:
·    Nothing too busy that will take attention away from you - here we’re talking crazy florals, bold prints, zigzags, etc.
·    If it looks like it belongs under a black light, it’s generally a bad idea - no neon pinks or highlighter yellows.  Sticking to neutral and subtle tones will bring out your natural skin tone and eye color.  
·    Playing Matchy-Matchy can be cute when done properly, BUT you probably don’t want to show up in perfectly matching plaid flannel shirts… unless you have a lumberjack theme, in which case we could make that work!  
·    Variety is the spice of life!  Always bring a few extra tops and/or bottoms.  In this aspect, you can easily change your outfit, which will provide us with a larger variety of photos.
·    For the love of Pete, be comfortable.  If you don’t typically wear it in ‘real life,’ it’s probably not something you’ll want to go with here.  Comfy couples make happy couples and happy couples have fun on their engagement shoots - I promise.
 
 
3. Accessories
With the use of props becoming more and more popular, I suggest that if you like and want to use props that you bring items that, again, have meaning to both of you.  Will you be using these photos for your Save-the-Dates?  A cute heart shaped chalk board or a hand-made sign with your wedding date on it would be a great idea.  Other cute ideas include picnic set-ups, balloons, kites, bicycles, pets (yes, it’s totally OK to bring your furry loved ones along!), etc.

 
4. Hair and Make-up
If you are like me (hair and make-up challenged), I highly recommend having a professional do your hair and make-up before your engagement shoot.  Not only is it a great way to test a salon for your Big Day, this will also take the stress off of you having to do it yourself!  If you have budget issues, perhaps a friend or family member that does great hair will help you out.  Take the opportunity to have fun and experiment with different styles; my only further advice would be to keep things relatively natural.  The focus should be on you and not your make-up; too much make-up can sometimes be distracting.

 
5. Have fun!
This is a ‘no-brainer’!  It may take a couple of minutes to get warmed up, but once you get comfortable, photo shoots can be a very enjoyable experience.  Be yourselves.  Kiss each other when the time feels right, hold hands, jump up and down, crack jokes!  If you’re silly, be silly. A good photographer will want to capture you in that pure state of being head-over-heels in love, so pretend like we’re not even there!  Ignoring the camera and being relaxed is the best way to handle these shoots, you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re not constantly worried about what we’re doing.  Just have a good time, we’ll make sure you look awesome :).
 
>>Photography Credit:  Brittany Marie Photography<<
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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part II (10 Months)

10 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Start Shopping for YOUR Gown 

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Credit: Inviting Luxury

Here are my big tips  and considerations as you shop for YOUR dress

- LIMIT WHO GOES DRESS SHOPPING WITH YOU - You’re excited, and you want opinions, but too many voices can confuse and frustrate you.

- You may have an idea of what you want, but don’t close your mind!  Often, once trying on gowns, your taste and vision of what you really want will change.

- White, off-white, ivory, or splashes of color?  Try them all see what works for your skin tone. Also, keep the lighting of your venue and color scheme of wedding in mind - it does make a difference in your overall look.

- Chain stores have many sizes to try on different gown styles. More upscale boutiques often have similar or the wrong size gowns, and you don’t always get to try the different styles and colors, feel the weight of the gown, and see how the gown flows.  Even if you are not buying from a chain store, go and try on styles and colors.  Most likely, they will have a dress close to the dress you envision or saw at another shop but wasn’t available in your size.

- DO NOT BUY A DRESS BECAUSE YOU LIKE IT! Crazy right? Think again! When you find your wedding gown, you’ll know it because you will get emotional. TRUST ME, I KNOW after years of seeing it. If you don’t feel something from a slight warming or heart flutter to all out tears of joy, DON’T BUY IT! You will only end up buying another one - being stuck with the one you “liked” since it’s non-refundable.

- Discuss alterations, fittings, cost, and pressing of your gown. Also, check if special undergarments are needed.

- Ask for a swatch of fabric matching your bridesmaids' gown and yours (particularly if your gown is accented with any color). With it, you can match colors with your venue's decor, napkins, sashes, etc.

Let’s Choose our Bridal Party! 

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Credit: Boogietek Photo+Cinema

Your bridal party are the dependable, time-conscious friends and family who can handle any associated financial responsibility.

The general guideline is one bridesmaid and one groomsman per 50 guests. No one really wants to watch 20 people come down the aisle before you. It’s your day - keep it centered on you.

Don't forget your supporting cast! Choose at least 2 ushers. Females commonly serve as ushers. Select an MC for the reception. This is a fun, easy-going, and outgoing person who announces wedding party members and transition moments during your event. The MC also keeps speech-givers within designated time-frames. Guaranteed, someone always has something extra long to say!

- Note from the Editor: Another option for an MC may be your DJ. DJs usually serve dual roles at a very nominal - or already included - rate. 

Choose Wedding Planning Pro! 

Now’s a great time to book your wedding wedding if you haven’t already. 

WHY:

1) They know the ins-and-outs to guide you through the planning details.

2) They often can negotiate with vendors better than you.

3) They have the time, knowledge, and skills to coordinate the details, vendors, handle concerns at venues, as well as receive packages, etc.

4) I can go on and on about the benefits of a professional, but I’ll sum it up:  

We keep you less stressed! 

You cannot effectively coordinate the day-of and be radiant and relaxed when you walk down the aisle.

Choose Your Officiant 

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Credit: Wedding 411

- Keep in mind, your officiant navigates the ceremony, so choose carefully and consult often. Utilize your officiant’s knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

- Discuss music, any readings, as well as any religious requirements (if applicable).

- Ask questions on vows. For instance, did you know it’s no longer required for you to say “love, honor and obey,” so some couples have substituted the phrase with “cherish?”

- Lastly, don’t leave questions until the last-minute.

Start Searching & Booking the Rest of Your Vendors

We already mentioned Venue, Officiant, DJ/MC, and Boutique, but let's not forget  your Florist, Baker, Caterer, Photographer (+ Photo Booth?), Videographer or Cinematographer, & any needed Event Rentals & Supplies.  Search through the vendor categories here under Online and Local on GetWedforLess.com to see if you forgot anything - or anyone!

Note from the Editor: Another fabulous entry from planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown! Make sure to check out Jeff's recent post: "There’s no such thing as a dumb question..."  It's a great reminder about why not to neglect to ask anything of wedding vendors, and it can save you money and headache later. Also, may I also recommend one of our most popular blogs? "The Right Dress For Your Body" by fashion blogger Lisa Tran of T. Rose International Bridal Shows has a wealth of helpful tips for your search!

Happy planning!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part I (12 Months)

Note from the Editor:  This has got to be the most helpful blog series on wedding planning timelines!  Jeffrey Brown has broken everything down into bite-sized pieces - from the necessary post-engagement conversations through to culmination - the wedding day!  Because each segment of the timeline accompanies wonderful detail, Jeff will share the goods piece-by-piece over the next couple of weeks.  Today, he unveils the what would ideally be completed a year before the big day.  Enjoy, take notes, and pass it on!  Thanks for joining!  - Lauren

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Credit: The Peninsula, NY - Salon de Ning

In this Ultimate Wedding Timeline, I’m sharing what I walk through with my brides and grooms.  We’ll use the timeline with key milestones to get you to wedding day ready!

12 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Guest List Drafted

- Parents on both sides always have people they want present. Within reason, accept who can you - especially if they are contributing financially.  

Credit: Simply Bridal

 

Money Talks

- Talk all the money details over with your intended to make sure you’re on the same page (see “I’m Engaged! Now What?" blog).  Meet with both sets of parents and other contributing parties to confirm who is contributing what before the bills descend like the monkeys from the Wizard of Oz on Dorothy!

Credit:  The Wizard of Oz, Warner Bros., 1939

Venue(s)? CHECK! 

-  Get your venues booked! While on the hunt, keep in mind that venues set the tone, size, and cost. Be sure they can accommodate your guest count.

More on Venues:

 - Venues can affect your color scheme. I recommend choosing 3 colors, 2 primary, and an accent that go well with your sites.

 - Your wedding day timeline (and wedding vendor travel) can be affected depending on the distance between your two venues.  Make sure the distance is not too much for you and your guests and that it won't increase your fees to vendors later.

 - If your venue is not for lodging, check with the venue on nearby hotels to accommodate out-of-town guests.  You may want reserve a block of rooms.

- Parking, public transportation, handicap accessibility, and security are important considerations for your guest. Check with the venue or your wedding planner on these items to make sure proper accommodations are made.

Stay tuned for the 10-month prep to help you stay on-track with your wedding date!

 

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So Diamonds Are Not a Guy's Best Friend... There's Still Hope for the Diamond Hunt

Recently, I asked a groom-to-be about how he felt about the diamond and engagement ring hunt.  His intial response was two words:  "A headache."  After a bout of laughter and shaking his head, he continued to talk with candor, giving advice to the fellas, "But if you are gonna search, understand women don't really know what they want, and in actuality they really don't care about some of the details. They care about the fact that you are taking that step."  

That was a great note on which to start our segment today.  Women care that you desire to take that next step with them!  Still, how do we help alleviate some of the "headache" that accompanies the ring-finding expedition for so many?  Here's our what, how, and where of the treasure hunt with focus on value + affordability.  Make sure to catch the end to know where to start your search - it's not the mall!

Credit: Gemological Institute of America

Here the quick-and-dirty on something you may have heard about - the 4Cs of diamonds.  The world's foremost authority on diamond ed - the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) - coined the phrase "the 4Cs," which represent Carats, Color, Clarity, and the ever-critical Cut.  A combination of these facets (along with the metal chosen) will determine the price of the ring.  

1)  Carats are the standard for measuring the weight of a diamond - bigger the diamond, typically the higher the price tag. Don't get caught up too much in the stone size, a diamond that may be just under a carat can look bigger pending on the cut and the quality of the stone itself is enhanced beyond size when other indicators of stone quality are in play...

Credit: JewelryDays.com

2)  Color. Unless you are clearing purchasing a canary yellow or a rose diamond - or some other color-identifiable stone, the term "color" means the absence of color.  The less yellow, the higher the quality of the stone. Good news!  The slight color variance is not generally visible to the naked eye, especially when buying stones from jewelers focused on delivering quality for price.  

GIA color grading scale

3)  Clarity tells you have clear a diamond is with the emphasis on the amount of imperfections, commonly known as "inclusions" and (outer) "blemishes."  A well-cut stone will be smooth outside, but many diamonds are "included."  The less inclusions, the higher the value and cost to you.

Diamond clarity chart

Credit: Isbell Jewelers

4)  We've come to the final C: Cut.  Most people mistakenly think the cut refers to the shape into which the diamond is "cut," but it really refers to the overall layout and proportion. The great indicator of a stellar cut is how much light enters the diamond.  A great cut delivers that "bling" effect and brilliance that really makes eyes widen.  Don't overlook the least understood of the 4Cs: it's the workmanship that makes the ring sing.

Diamond cut explanation

Credit: Isbell Jewelers

Where to Go Treasure Hunting & Buy Below Retail

Advice from my hubby?  "Never pay retail!"  Try these online spots for great gems at pricing that won't cause you to miss your mortgage payment: Apples of Gold (40% off retail, the site features a satisfaction guarantee) and Amazon.  Make sure to read up on guarantees as these sites have customer return policies.  Also, look into your city's best pawn shops - for real!  Many times, these places have antique rings (vintage is all the rage right now) and tremendous finds on some really great sets!  You typically can get bigger stone size and value at these spots for a substantially lower price since it's the goal to move inventory ASAP. 

TIP:  If you can't bring along one with a trained eye for diamonds, grab a professional eye loupe to take with you to the non-run-of-the-mill diamond storefront or to use on the diamond you order.  Eye loupes are scopes for checking diamond quality, and they're literally a couple of bucks.  These are helpful for seeing the inclusions and testing absence of color.

Image: Eye Loupe

TIP #2:  Protect that Bling!

Too often, our valuable possessions become lost or stolen.  Check with your home/renter's insurance agency to find out how loss of your purchase may be covered within your policy.  Consider other proactive measures, such as appraisal and diamond laser inscription.

Feel free to deliver any other 411 you feel will be helpful for those on the diamond hunt out there.  Remember:  It's not about finding the most expensive ring; it's about the two of you being the best for each other as you resolve to "take that next step."

Until next time... happy hunting + planning!

P.S. For inquiring minds, here are the most common diamond shapes...

diamond-shapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Deliver Me Diamonds

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