This is Danielle, Tonya’s assistant, writing this blog post! Let me tell you a little bit about myself…I have been Tonya’s assistant since around the first of the year and prior to this I had no experience in the wedding industry. Tonya took a chance on me and it has really worked out! I may not be a pro, but from an insider perspective I would like to give any of those potential brides some wedding planning tips. These are coming from an unmarried, bystander’s perspective to the wedding planning process
Listen to the professionals. You are hiring people to make your wedding perfect for a reason. Take a step back and trust them! The brides that are laid-back still have the most perfect weddings. These professionals work in the industry every day and they know their craft. From photographers to flowers, listen to their advice. It is usually great!
Make your own guest list. I think it is easier to say this than actually put it into action. This is your wedding and that means YOUR guests. Everyone wants to please their entire family but take it from someone who has over 50 people in their immediate family, you simply cannot please everyone AND that is okay. If you are having trouble trimming the list, sit your family down and say “Choose your top 20” (count couples as two). This allows you to realize which guests your side and the groom’s side consider to be most important. Add who you want to your own list. Remember…you have to spend the whole day with these people AND have years of memories with them.
Book early. I can’t stress this point enough. If you want a certain date or vendors, book early!!! Choose what is most important to you, contact that professional, and plan everything else around that. I know Tonya has already booked half her clients for 2014 already…and we aren’t even half way through 2013! Venues certainly go quickly, photographers are next, but even DJ’s, florists, and cake specialists get booked super early now too.
Do what is right for you. You may have read that there is a specific etiquette for certain scenarios dealing with your wedding planning. Working for a photographer (and currently helping my best friend plan her wedding), I am gathering and reading LOTS of wedding magazines. They all have so much advice and rules to follow. I say nix it all. Do what YOU want! Every single family is different, every wedding is its own event, and every bride wants a specific result so do what is right for you! If you want to splurge on the wedding album because it is important to you, then do so! If you want a band, then get one! Don’t choose something because you are supposed to, do it because you want to.
Let the professionals be creative. You may have color choices for you flowers, a specific theme for your invites, or shots you would like to get of your wedding day but be sure to not block the creative flow of the people you hire. A professional that gets to exercise their creativity does better work because they are doing what they love, not just following a list.
Let’s discuss Pinterest. Now Pinterest is a GREAT tool for gathering ideas and keeping them organized. However, I’ve seen a few people send a board to Tonya before the wedding day and say they want EVERY picture on the board replicated for their own wedding collection. Pinterest boards give great ideas and inspiration but sometimes it can just turn out to be an excessive amount of shots. There is a lot of pressure to recreate photos that are someone else’s vision. If you ever want to stifle an artists “flow”, give them a strict list. If you want to see them excel in their craft and come up with amazing photos based on YOUR day, YOUR emotion and personalities, then let your photographer do what they do best without incredibly strict parameters. (Don’t shy away from Pinterest, just use sparingly)!
Hire a day-of coordinator. A lot of women have been planning their wedding since they were five years old. At every single wedding, there are people that stop and say congratulations and little girls that say, “Look at the princess!”…and that is where the dream starts. By the time wedding day rolls around, a lot of women have an idea about their decor, flowers, vendors, venue, etc…BUT who is going to be responsible for carrying out all your plans when you are busy getting married? That’s when a day-of coordinator can really come to the rescue. True story: Once Tonya was at a wedding with no coordinator and the couple was supposed to exit on their beach cruisers. They ran through a tunnel of sparklers only to find out there were no bikes at the end of the tunnel. The couple was standing there wondering what to do!! Tonya ran to the hotel to find out where the bikes were and straightened it all out. (PS- those are the types of vendors you want, the ones that will stop what they are doing to make your day better). Tonya has told me many stories about her own wedding day, and she regularly mentions her day-of coordinator because Tonya found out later SO much little stuff was going wrong (problems with hotel rooms for guests, a fight nearly broke out because of a crazy uncle, the sparklers didn’t work, etc) all of which Tonya never even knew was happening! The coordinator allowed Tonya and Brent to enjoy their day without stress. Not to mention, her coordinator set up a gorgeous hotel suite for them complete with leftovers from dinner AND wedding cake. (On your wedding day, you never have time to stop and eat…)
Get recommendations from vendors you’ve already chosen. The relationship between vendors is very important. If one professional is recommending another, then they do not take this lightly. They are putting their name on the line by choosing someone they trust! Now, don’t get caught up in the ‘who’s who’ of the industry. Once you find someone you mesh with, sign the contract, and ask them for recommendations! It is the best way to go because a vendor will take any recommendation they give very seriously.
Have a cocktail. I think this advice is good for pretty much any uncomfortable social situation but it never rings more true than on your wedding day. Take a minute to hang out with your bridesmaids and enjoy a cocktail before the wedding. Your day will be that much better and you will be able to allow yourself to relax.
Now, I may not be qualified to give this advice, but this is just what I see on a daily basis! And remember…photographs record your special day for a lifetime 🙂