Did you do a first look and all of your photos before?
Yes, to both! This was something that I knew I wanted to do years ago. I’ve been to too many weddings where there’s an awkward (and sometimes very lengthy) amount of time between the ceremony and reception, in order for the couple to take all of their photos. It’s a completely
personal decision, but being someone who hasn’t enjoyed that in the past, I didn’t want to have my guests experience that at our wedding. Not to mention, we wanted to enjoy as much of the party as we could!
I know that some people want to see their almost-spouse for the first time walking down the aisle, which I totally understand, but I’m so happy with the way that we did it. Having a first look allowed us to really soak in what was happening – we had a chance to talk and see each other before the whirlwind that is the wedding. It was really nice to spent some time just Mike and me (with our photographer/videographer). Once it came time for the ceremony, it was still really special to see Mike at the altar, as I walked towards him.
Videographer – worth the money?
We haven’t gotten our video back yet (our estimate was about 6 months), BUT I already know that, 100%, it was worth the money. There are so many details that I missed during the day. Even reminding myself to be as present as possible, there’s so much that goes on around you that you can’t possibly soak it all in. From seeing my bridesmaids walk down the aisle, to hearing Mike’s and my vows to each other again, to the details at the reception, I cannot wait to relive our day!
I’ve talked to several brides who did not have a videographer and say that was their biggest regret from the day.
Can you give me an idea of your floral budget? Did you provide any decor elements or rent everything?
Floral was provided through our event production/decor company, so it wasn’t a separate expense. We had the option to work with a small florist, but I wasn’t overly particular about the florals. I knew I wanted tons of greens and white flowers, but didn’t have much of an opinion beyond that. Our event production company was so, so, so good that I trusted Erin with everything (and basically my life).
We provided some of the things that were used that day. My mom (with the help of my cousins) built our altar, which is amazing! I love that we will get to put that in our backyard someday. We provided some furniture from the lake house that has sentimental value, as well. One of the doors from the old house was used as the table assignments, our massive table was used as the bar, and my Grandpa’s old workbench served as another bar. My mom is a lantern hoarder (😉), so we used some of her lanterns and vases around the property. Everything else was brought in by the production crew.
What are the benefits of working with a professional planner?
Being that I’ve never planned a wedding without one, this will be a bit biased. However, I was still pretty heavily involved in the whole process, so I got a glimpse into what it would have been like without a planner. To sum it up, there are so many benefits. Not only does she know what the heck she’s doing (assuming you hire a good one), but she has connections, contacts, and the experience to give you specific insight. Working with a well-known company in Chicago allowed me to easily get in touch with catering companies, videographers, DJ’s, etc. and set up meetings. Once we decided on a company to use, virtually everything else was handled by our planner. From small details to day-of events – when they should arrive, when everything took place, what will be there, etc. All of the logistics of the day and leading up to the day were taken care of by her, which was a huge weight off my shoulders. I was able to do the things that were really enjoyable to me, like making design decisions and keeping up our RSVP list, without the stress of communicating and coordinating with several different people at several different companies.
Outside of making sure everyone will be where they’re supposed to be on the day of, our planner had a minute-to-minute schedule for the day and completely ran the show. I (and my mom!) was simply a guest at my own wedding, which was amazing.
Can you provide a general breakdown of your budget?
Food and decor were the most expensive items, and they were about the same amount. I’d say they took up about 60% of our budget. In the grand scheme of things, the rest of the elements were about even, making up the other 40%. Photographer and videographer were almost the same, so they took up about 15%. Then it was the tent, DJ, and our planner fee that filled in the rest!
What is the most important thing to do FIRST on your planning list, besides picking a date?
Picking a venue! You may have to decide what’s more important to you – date or venue – because your desired venue may not be available on your ideal date. Before we decided on having it at our lake house, we looked at a couple possible venues and they were already completely booked up. Granted, we were looking at a Summer 2017 wedding in November 2016, so we were late to the game. Thankfully, we quickly realized that wouldn’t be an issue, so we picked the date of our choice! The next thing I did was set up a meeting with our wedding planner. Without knowing much about planning a wedding, I wanted to get her on board as soon as possible to make sure we were on track with everything.
Do you have any good ideas for bridesmaid gifts?
I have an entire blog post coming on that tomorrow! I’ll be sharing what I gifted my bridesmaids with on the day of the wedding, as well as great ideas for asking your bridesmaids!
What did you do to prep the week of the wedding?
Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot left to be done. My parents did a ton of work to get the house ready – landscaping and such. I did some small things like print out the table assignments, place cards, and put together welcome bags for our hotel guests. Beyond that, I started thinking through what to pack for our Honeymoon, since we were leaving just a day after our wedding. I had been gathering all the things I needed to remember to bring up to Wisconsin in one part of our apartment, so I went through all of that stuff to make sure I didn’t forget anything!
How did you make a timeline for the day of?
That was completely up to our wedding planner!
How did you stick with a style without it looking themey?
It’s a lot about picking and choosing where you want to infuse the overall style into your day. If you’re going for a rustic chic feel and you’re getting married in a barn, I’d keep the rest of the rustic touches to a minimum. A barn will give such a rustic feel on its own, so you don’t need everything to be distressed and rustic looking. Keep some things clean and theme-neutral, like your linens, and then include the chic touches with your floral, centerpieces, and menu cards, for example.
It can be very easy to get caught up in making decisions and adding things in to your decor and overall look, but try to keep in perspective all the things you have already chosen. If you go to a floral sample, take photos! When you visit the venue, take photos! Put them all together so that you can get a really good idea of the look of the day. That will make it much easier when it comes time to make decisions about adding an element.
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