expert advice : Sassafras Flowers on wedding planning

Mary Dougherty

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Today I’m excited to bring you a guest post by Maura of SasSaFras Flowers in Rochester New York. Having worked with her several times I’ve come to appreciate her experience and perspective and today she shares her advice on planning wedding. It’s a topic that never gets old and it’s great to hear her thoughts on where to start when planning and how to ensure the day is cohesive.

Often brides arrive at my store with an entourage (mothers, fiancées, sisters, friends) to discuss flowers and by the end of our time together, most of it has been spent discussing the pros and cons of the wedding planning process. Everyone comes to the table with a different perspective and having worked with hundreds of couples I can almost say I’ve seen it all. Now, many years after my own wedding (eleven to be exact) I have refined my wedding advice to 5 tips that I wish I had known about when planning my event.

Find your style, vision and voice.

Most Brides and Grooms don’t where to start, what comes first the dress or finding the perfect reception site? I have found that discovering your style and voice before all else. Here is some a wonderful place to start your journey, together making some early decisions.
• Go out and buy a stack of wedding magazines / pull up your favorite wedding blogs
• Each of you should start with your own magazine and without looking at what each other is looking at, rip out pictures that either have a style or look that resonates with what you.  Or, set a timer and spend 30 min on a blog looking through real weddings + ideas and save your favorites to evernote.
• After completing this task, trade magazines / switch blogs and continue to pull ideas
• Now it’s sharing time. Explain to your partner what you like about the pictures in your stack and why and see if there are similarities between what each of you dislikes or likes.
• This is going to get a good conversation going between you and your honey and it will also get some of the ideas you didn’t even know you had out onto “the table” yes, literally and figuratively!

Think about the wedding from a guests’ perspective

Ask yourself/yourselves “what experience do I want my friends and family to have, and how will they describe my wedding looking back?”
• Start brainstorming & write down the words that come to mind. Deciding on such basic words like fun, romantic, formal or relaxed will inform a large part of your decision making and words that describe the “feeling” or the “look” or the “sense,” will give you more detailed guidance.
• Take some time to narrow down your list and compare your words with the inspiration you pulled from magazines & blogs. Make a small list of these adjectives and put it in your purse, pocket or somewhere that is easily accessible and refer to it each and every time you decide on a part of your wedding planning and ask yourself if you’ve kept to the feeling that you hoped to accomplish.

Create an Inspiration Board

• Gather all the ideas that you’ve compiled and attach them to a board or scan them or post them online in an inspiration board.
• Notice if you have looks or items that keep coming up again and again, those are the things that will “must have” looks or styles.

Divide and Conquer

Today, I find that 80% of my clients are paying for their own weddings. The financial side of the wedding can be very stressful if you don’t plan ahead.
• Take your overall budget and start to divide the money into categories (Dress, Ceremony, Reception, Photographer, Florist, Music, Invitations, etc.)
• Determine which areas of the wedding are the most important categories for you and your Fiancée. For instance, Flowers and Photography were the most important things for my Husband and I so we knew we would splurge on those two items. Then we needed to choose a DJ over a hiring a Band to make up for the splurge.

Vendors, Vendors, Vendors

Now you are ready! The fun begins! Finally, with your vision and budget in hand you are ready to start setting up meetings to find the professional people to help you arrange for the perfect day of your dreams!!!
• Ask around and contact friends who have recently planned their wedding. See if you make a list of at least three recommended people in each category.
• Get to know your vendors. Read through their website, blog, etc… or arrange for meeting times, asking each vendor how much time the meeting will take, so that you don’t cut meetings short or overbook yourself.
• Choose vendors that you get a good vibe from. You need to feel connected to the vendors because you are hiring them to make your life easier, not harder! Great people are out there, they just take some finding!

Best of Luck and Best Wishes!!!! The main thing is to remember that while yes, a wonderful wedding day is “in the details,” you are celebrating the love that you have for one another and this is just the beginning to wedded bliss!

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