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2021 Wedding: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Planning

As an engagement gift, the friend of a soon to be bride surprised her with a free trip to a wedding planner. They were supposed to go together, but on the day of the appointment, the friend couldn’t make it so the bride brought her mother along instead. While they were there, the planner said something which made the bride laugh but stuck with her mother all the way until the day of the wedding.

On that very day, disaster appeared to strike. It was almost time for her daughter to walk down the aisle, and the minister hadn’t shown up. The wedding was supposed to take place outside, yet it was somehow snowing in May. The snow on the road meant the minister, caterers, and almost a third of the guests hadn’t shown up yet. Everyone was waiting, and the bride was in tears.

“Oh mother, what will we do! My perfect day is ruined!” She bawled. Without missing a beat, the mother took her daughter in her arms, wiped away her tears, and remembered what the planner said.

“I will tell you what your wedding planner told us both months ago, I can see you didn’t take it seriously then, but now I’m sure you will. Do you remember what she said?”

The bride shook her head no.

“Something is going to go so wrong you might cry, remember that years from now you will laugh about it. What seems like a tragedy at the time will be nothing but a fond memory.” She took her daughter's face in her hands and smiled. “No matter what happens today, after it's all over you'll be spending the rest of your life with your best friend. So even if everything goes wrong, my dear, it can only end in happiness.”

And as she said that the doors opened and in came the missing minister, the vendors and all the missing guests. The mother and daughter looked to the new arrivals and then back to each other, and burst out into laughter.

The world we live in now might seem to be a tough place to plan a wedding, but in reality, it gives you and your partner the opportunity to break free of what society's idea of wedding is and has been for so long. We want to emphasise that everyone can and should tailor their ceremony specifically to make the event truly their own. We want to explore and explain in a simple but comprehensive guide all the wedding traditions we’ve found and loved at Lasting Love Bridal. Both the old and new, traditional and unconventional, we want to give you something to follow and inspire you on your wonderful journey to your wedding day! We’ll cover everything from budgeting and considering a wedding planner, to dress codes and cake types and when to send your invitations.

Your Special Day: Wedding Reception Table of Honor

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Planning Your Plan

a. BE REALISTIC
b. THE NEW ERA OF WEDDINGS
c. BUDGET
d. GUEST LIST

Chapter 2: First Steps

a. WEDDING PLANNER
b. BRIDE AND OUTFIT
c. RINGS
d. LOCATION OF WEDDING AND RECEPTION
e. CEREMONY STRUCTURE
f. INVITATIONS
g. SEATING ARRANGEMENTS
h. DRESS CODE
i. DATE OF THE WEDDING
j. REGISTRY
k. SAVE-THE-DATE
l. TRANSPORTATION

Chapter 3: Wedding Catering/Vendors

a. CAKE
b. PHOTOGRAPHER OR MEDIA
c. STYLIST
d. MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT
e. FLOWERS AND DECORATION
f. OFFICIANT
g. THE DAY OF THE WEDDING

Chapter 4: The Road Ahead

a. ADJUSTING BACK TO NORMAL LIFE
b. CONCLUSION

A Guide To Your Wedding Day: Elegant Indoor Wedding Reception with Formal Decorations

1. Planning Your Plan

BE REALISTIC

With everything from your budget, to how long until your special day, to how many guests you can invite or what flowers you can afford, remember to stay grounded and not get swept up in the process. It can be hectic and stressful but it prepares you for what is going to be the happiest day of your life. Keep that in mind as often as you can, and make sure you take care of yourself during such a crazy time! It can be especially stressful planning a wedding currently, having to research and remember safety guidelines for groups and finding venues that social distance etc. This on top of all the normal wedding responsibilities can seem daunting, but we’re here to help. Read further or check our table of contents to learn more on a wide variety of wedding-related topics, written for the modern era of our changing world.

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THE NEW ERA OF WEDDINGS

There are many paths and strategies couples and guests can take to keep everyone safe and comfortable without sacrificing any authenticity or closeness on your wedding day. One way we’ve seen to be extremely effective is having all your guests get their full vaccine at least two weeks prior to the event.

Testing all guests is something a lot of couples end up doing, as requiring proof of vaccinations can be difficult. It surely is an effective way to ensure the safety of your guests. That said, if you're having a small event where everyone can get the vaccine beforehand, that’s still probably your safest option. Another tried and true method for keeping your 2021 wedding safe is testing all your guests upon arrival.

Getting everyone tested on site is the most effective way to make sure you're keeping your ceremony and guests safe! Even with social distance, accidents can happen and the last thing you want on your wedding day is to accidentally endanger someone you care about. If you do have to do this due to some constraints, we recommend a small outdoor venue with plenty of space between seatings both during the ceremony and afterwards, to minimize contact.

A Whole New World: Wedding Flowers Spread Wide

Each state and country has varying rules for gatherings inside and out, so make sure you check your local county, state and federal rules. These can easily be found online, but they can change so make sure to stay updated on your area's rules.

Regardless of state/country guidelines, we recommend that you consider keeping your guest list short for your celebration. Now isn’t a time to be taking unnecessary risks and you can always have another celebration with everyone you'd like to invite when things calm down a little. Plus, you’ll save money this way and be able to spend time with each and every guest you invite. No matter what you decide to do, you will have to put extra thought into your guest list and your venue.

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BUDGET

To start off, generally don't pick any numbers; just have a frank discussion with your partner about what you want, why, and how it fits into your real lives. Once you both know what you want, finding a compromise can be easy for some and more of a process for others. We recommend using some sort of calculator or online tool to assist you if you're having trouble finding a number you both agree on or that makes sense to either of you.

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GUEST LIST

When you start planning your wedding, one of the first things you should do is sit down and come up with a ballpark estimate of the amount of people at your ceremony. You’ll need to know how many invitations to send, how many chairs to get, and the amount of people who attend will affect what venue you want to use. The amount of people you can invite is dependent on your budget, so make sure you’ve locked down all your financial plans before brainstorming your guest list. Sit down with your partner and decide what size wedding you want, don't worry about numbers, just focus on size. Once you have a good idea, start thinking about some rough estimates, and write down a list of important people as priorities.

Now that you have a starting number to work with, figure out what your budget is per guest. (i.e. if you have 30 guests and a budget of 15,000) that means you’ll have to figure out how much total you want to spend on food, tables, etc and then divide that by the number of invitations. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a good idea of what you can afford and what you should look at moving forward.

Focus on the ones that really matter. Your size really dictates everything, if you're having something small and personal you probably won't be inviting every member of your senior swim team. As we talked about before, there are many new rules and regulations relating to large gatherings like weddings in most states and countries around the world. Make sure to keep these in mind and follow them closely, they're put in place to keep you and the ones you care for safe.

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2. First Steps

WEDDING PLANNER

After making a guest list and coming to a general budget you might find that you need a little more help ironing out the details. A wedding planner takes the general details you want in a wedding and helps you make the reservations. If you don’t have a lot of ideas or know where to start that’s okay too! Wedding planners bring to the table a treasure trove of their own ideas. Wedding planners take a huge load off of couples by doing the deeper research for them. Couples who work a lot, or have a large wedding planned, benefit from the relief of stress during the planning stages.

Compile a list of wedding planners you'd like to call and talk to, and make sure you know what you want for your wedding. Feel free to meet with multiple planners over a few weeks till you get a good connection with one. Some magazines are generated directly for finding the best wedding planner. Magazines can even take the place of a wedding planner at times. Today lots of wedding magazines give you a list of ideas and ways to incorporate unique ideas into your wedding. Cut out the things you like and make a vision board. This can be helpful for your wedding planner as well.

Having your opinion heard is very important but understanding when to let the wedding planner do their thing is important too. You hired them for a reason! Allow the wedding planner to fully express what they have planned and what their vision is. If you have concerns, it's fine to voice them and tell the planner you are unsure but willing to proceed on a tentative basis to see if you change your mind. Finding a planner who's willing to work with you over little details helps to limit the amount of miscommunication.

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Your Dress: Brides and Bridesmaids with Bouquets of Flowers

BRIDE AND OUTFIT

Make sure to try on all wedding clothes far before as early as you can in case alterations are required. Be understanding that it takes weeks to sew a new hem or to take the outfits up and down in size. Seamstresses pride themselves on giving you the best alterations and this can be time consuming, so instead there are plenty of amazing options on LasingLoveBridal.com that you can buy Made to Order in your exact size, and in every style you can think of. We even have a stylist online who will be there to help with whatever you need when finding your dress! Come celebrate in our new Irvine Salon. In fact, there are whole collections of beautiful bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses for you to come and look through right now, here! We have it all, the newest in-season styles to bold vintage gowns that will make you fall in love! (Oh wait, you already did)

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Rings: Gold Wedding Rings on a Table with a Rose

RINGS

The rings symbolize the couple's bond and promise to each other made in their vows. It's worn as a daily reminder of commitment. It's worn on the left ring finger in most countries because it's believed to have an artery that leads directly to the heart. This traditional thought has now just become custom in most cases. The rings can be exchanged after vows or at any point in the ceremony after the couple makes some sort of promise to one another.

The best part about this is that the bride and groom have total control of their style and what they want for their day. Some people opt out of the gold band tradition and go for something a little more personal, such as engravings or a ring made from a different material like jade, tungsten, titanium, even lab grown diamonds! Some even get matching necklaces, or tattoos! But maybe you feel like all you need is each other professing the love you will always have for the most important person in your life in front of the people you care about most, and that’s totally okay too! There is no right or wrong way. After the last year we’re all trying to save some money and cut some corners to make life easier, so consider all your options before you get that gold band!

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LOCATION OF WEDDING AND RECEPTION

The first thing to take into account is the aesthetic of your wedding (modern, rustic, whimsical, etc). Decide on your ceremony guest list and how much room you'll need. Your caterers, entertainment and vendors will need room to set up as well. Catering and vendors will already have some sort of idea of how they’ll need to set up so they can give you a floor plan that matches your venue. Starting with a floor plan for music and entertainment is the easiest way to ensure that you have enough room for your guests and wedding party at the venue. If you have a big wedding party take in account both the bride and grooms sides of the altar and how people will be positioned. Such as in a church the bridal party stands on the stairs behind the couple. If your wedding is outdoors make sure no one ends up standing in mud. A little detail most overlook is the view down. The wedding photographer should have a clear view of the bride and groom. Consider the lighting, these pictures are one shot only.

Most receptions and ceremonies are held at the same venue in different areas. Consider the location of the ceremony and decide if you want to continue to be in the same setting or if you'd like a change after the ceremony. If you had an outdoor wedding perhaps an indoor tent reception would be a pleasant change for guests as well as for photographers. When making reservations for the reception, think about the tables, food, music placement. Consider walking space between tables.

Wedding Venue: Outdoor Wedding Venue for the Ceremony

If you choose a catering service consider the extra amount of people who need access to the reception area. When having a bar for the reception, consider if you want an open or cash bar. This is a really important detail to let guests know beforehand. Guests need to know if they are getting free drinks or if they should plan on paying throughout the night. It also matters how long the bartender is willing to be there/ or how to store the drinks to keep cold. Most receptions end at midnight in order to allow everyone an eventful day but timely arrival at home.

The season you choose to have your wedding in will affect if you choose to have an indoor or outdoor wedding. If any guests have major seasonal allergies they can appreciate the consideration. Check the weather for your venue in the weeks and days prior. Outside weddings can get unexpectedly cold or hot. Maybe give out throw blankets for everyone as a gift, but to warm up if necessary. Hot? Ice water with lemon on each table, or even passed in glasses (and keep it coming!), or bamboo fans for everyone together the day before, or if it’s raining, collapsible umbrellas.

If you need to add shade or heating there is a small window to plan for that. Understand that the weather might change without warning so always have a backup plan. Outdoor venues can offer a lot of space if you have a big guestlist. If you have a dress code take into account your setting. No one wants to wear a floor length dress in the mud.

Tent weddings are a great solution to social distancing during covid while having your dream indoor wedding. The tent allows those who want an indoor wedding to have all the same amenities and still have enough space between guests. Of course guests can be asked to wear masks. An outdoor wedding gives the most freedom to guests so that they can maintain distance. So perhaps choosing a warm season and a fully outdoor venue is the best option for you and your guests.

Most fully outdoor venues are still allowing couples to book dates with the only drawback is a limited number of guests allowed. But still higher than the amount of guests allowed by the few indoor venues still open. The pandemic brought back into style close and intimate weddings, meaning more nature involved venues are back in style. Research marriage licenses wherever you’re getting married! Call in the county clerk to figure out when the best time to come in and get yours is, then make a copy and give it to someone you trust before your wedding day just in case!

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CEREMONY STRUCTURE

One of the most important pieces of this all is scheduling the day itself. We recommend giving yourself more time than you expect for each block of your day, as coordinating everyone can sometimes take longer than expected. Decide how long you want the actual ceremony to be, when an appropriate time for guests to start leaving is, and, of course, a time that the wedding is over and it's time for everyone to go home.

The ceremony itself is highly customizable, and if you and your partner aren't sure what you’d like to do, ask your planner or officiate or parents what they would recommend, what they think fits you the best. Some people lean more towards the religious side of the marriage, intermingling prayer and reading scripture during the ceremony. Some just want it to get right to rings, and the vows, it all depends on you.

Figure out the initial length of your ceremony. Don't get too specific just give it a general idea like short-5 minutes or traditional (30). Choose what parts of the ceremony you want to include. The most important thing is personalization. Depending on which pieces of the ceremony you choose to include, add in personal anecdotes or an inside joke. Some couples choose to skip right to the expressions of intent and then the kiss, others choose to have a longer ceremony with everything from a reading of their favorite poem, a group prayer or passage, or a short quote read by a loved one.

Figure out a general tone and topic. “We've waited so long for our special day and now it is finally here.” “No matter what we’ve gone through together, we’re still here and stronger for it” “There are so many things we’re excited to do together in our new life, and it begins today.”

Decide which pieces of the ceremony to have. Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Opening ('Welcome All')
  • Readings (poem, scripture, etc)
  • Expression of Intent ('I do')
  • Vows
  • Ceremony of Rings
  • Pronouncement ('You may now kiss the bride')
  • Kiss

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INVITATIONS

Now as for telling everyone to come, you’ve probably got a lot of questions: How many invitations do you need? What will they look like? How will they be sent? Where will everyone sit during the wedding and afterwards at the reception? How will you ensure social distancing guidelines for your guests or that everyone is tested? What is the Kids policy - will you allow children at your wedding? If so, what system will you set up for them? Entertainment, food, etc? Let’s take a look together.

Now that you have your guest list, your venue picked out, and the ceremony planned, it's time to start sending out invitations. Using the list of addresses for the Save-The-Dates, send your invitations 6 - 8 weeks before your wedding. It’s far enough out so that most people should be able to make it work in their schedule, but not too long for anyone to forget. In 2021, we advise using online invitations to help keep everyone safe and healthy. There are tons of great websites online that make the process super easy and approachable, or you can create one yourself from scratch using something like Photoshop.

Important info to have on the invites are as follows: You and your parents names and the date, time and location of the ceremony, the name of your venue and the street address, as well as any other info regarding parking, transport to the venue, etc. You’ll also want to fill everyone in on the dress code to make sure guests show up dressed as you expect them to. Lastly of course, create a message with your partner that fits your wedding and the two of you. Something short and heartfelt will do the trick.

“Molly and Adam invite you and your family to celebrate their marriage on Sunday, June 8th at the Sunset Valley Church.”

Wedding Invitation Template Example Full

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SEATING ARRANGEMENTS

Plan flexibility for your guests: Sometimes people can’t come last minute and guests are left sitting with 3 people at a lonely table for 10. Ask the caterer (or whoever you designate) to check the set up of how the seating ends up on the day of the wedding. You should be prepared to have a spare smaller table with an appropriate sized table cloth. Vice-versa it applies as well; if you have too many extra people showing from what you were expecting, you need to have an extra table and chairs as back up. Decide if you will assign seats or not.

Seating: Wedding Venue in a Forest for the Ceremony

Obviously you put people where they will be happy and comfortable with the people around them, but there are some issues we often don’t think of. If it’s a bigger party with kids and young people, place them near the dancefloor/band/music; it’s great to have a place for them to hang out and get energy out if possible. Elderly guests tend to have trouble being too close to sound/noise, and should be seated near bathrooms and food so they can easily get up and move around.

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DRESS CODE

What is the dress code for the guests, bridesmaids, grooms party, etc. Is there a theme? Is it formal? Relaxed? What are the best places for your guests to get their dresses for the event? Is there somewhere to get all bridesmaids dresses together? If you decide to have a dress code, here are a few things to consider: How formal do you want the occasion to be? What will the environment be like (indoor, outdoor, chilly, sunny, etc) and what you and your partner choose to wear? Unsure of what dress codes there are? Here are some of the most common explained:

Black Tie: Most common with evening weddings, the Black Tie is considered one of the most formal dress codes. Men are required to wear a tuxedo with a black bowtie, cumberbun or necktie, while the women dress in formal floor length gowns and dresses. It can be difficult to adhere to for some though, as not everyone possesses a tuxedo or gown.

Formal/Black Tie Optional: A step down from the previous selection, the major difference here is that men aren’t required to wear a tux, they can instead come dressed in a dark suit of some kind. For the women at the event, the code stays almost the same, though ankle height dresses are acceptable at these events. We’d recommend using this for a smaller, more personal event.

Cocktail: One of the most frequently used, this dress code blends comfort and style. Women can arrive in knee-length dresses, while the men are asked to wear a suit and tie. A great choice for a large group, as the small few who don't have something to wear can easily find something simple before the wedding.

Dress Code: Bride in White and Her Bridesmaids in Red Dresses

Semi-Formal: Perfect for an outdoor wedding in summer, or a simple ceremony at home. Men are encouraged to wear a dress shirt with slacks, and can choose to come with a tie, while the women can wear a formal shirt and top or a variety of dresses. Make sure to think/specify color before, as an outdoor ceremony at noon might call for some lighter colors and thinner clothes than in the evening when the sun is going down.

Festive: This is a newer item on the list, and one we think you should look into. While not encouraging formal attire, this dress code encourages the guests to play with their look and show up dressed in a way unique to them. There is still an expectation to wear cocktail-style outfits, but there is an emphasis on individualism and creativity. Women might wear colorful, intricate jewelry or dress in more striking colors, while the men can accessorize their look with a playful tie, colorful pocket square, or bold shoes.

Casual: The casual dress is much more relaxed than the other codes on this list, allowing guests to show up in a myriad of styles. Most men sport some type of collared shirt with khakis or dress pants, while the women usually will wear a simple dress.

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Outdoor Wedding Tent Reception at Night with String Lights

DATE OF THE WEDDING

If you can, coordinate with your most important guests about when they’ll be most able to come to your wedding, and try to plan around that. We recommend trying to avoid religious and cultural holidays like Easter, Passover, Kwanzaa, or Ramadan.

You might want to also avoid any major sporting events like the Super Bowl, and national holidays like Independence Day or Thanksgiving. Maybe plan to avoid dates like close family members birthdays, or anniversaries. We recommend asking first if you want to share dates, because some people are very protective over their days.

Once you’ve found your wedding date, start making arrangements for your guests to stay somewhere nearby. Many hotels will charge a reduced fee for wedding parties, so call before. Try to make reservations in advance at hotels nearby your venue and make sure to mention the fact there will be a wedding. As the wedding comes closer, you’ll know the people that are coming and you can include some kind of note with the invitation saying you have rooms at a specific hotel. Make sure to remember some might stay over the next night so don’t have the reservations expire the night after the wedding.

The season obviously will affect the mood and atmosphere of your wedding, having a winter wedding versus a summer wedding can feel super different. This is regardless of venue, and simply due to sun setting at different times, temperature and weather fluctuations, and your guests' physical sensations. These clearly affect their mood and ability to concentrate, especially in elderly people and children.

This goes the same for the time of day you choose to have your ceremony. An early morning wedding can be nice because you have all day to celebrate after, but it can be difficult for family and friends that work late hours or have been traveling out to you. An evening wedding sets a certain mood and ambience that is impossible to recreate at noon, but then you have to plan festivities into the night which can be difficult for those leaving that day or the next to return home, or your younger/older guests.

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REGISTRY

Make sure you get to this fast! Many couples push it off forever and then have to rush through it a few months or even weeks before their wedding. We recommend starting immediately! Some common questions we get asked are:

What should I ask for on my wedding registry?

  • Things you'll use every day and won’t wear out: Examples include: Cutlery, dishware, appliances like a microwave, a blender, and a lawnmower, furniture sets or novelty items like hammocks, bean bag chairs, and outdoor speakers, or a smart home tech like Amazon Alexa or a Ring Doorbell.
  • Things that reflect you: Examples include: a themed towel set for your bathroom with your favorite movie characters, a little garden kit for your kitchen window, a sculpture or piece of art for your home.

How to know how many items to add to my registry?

  • We say guest list x2 (plus a few more) is a safe rule of thumb.

What shouldn't I add to my wedding registry?

  • Personal things for only one of the two of you: get things to share you can both benefit from.
  • Extremely expensive items: anything normally out of your budget shouldn’t be on your registry: a jetski, a hottub, etc
  • Things that seem cool or fun but you will end up living without and not using: It's easy to get sucked into the registry process and add all sorts of cool gizmos, but make sure to choose things you will truly use and cherish, not just what catches your eye in the catalogue.

Have fun with it! Make sure to think outside the box, as there are so many neat new items to furnish your home with these days! With the creation of smart toasters, autonomous vacuums, and touchscreen coffee machines, there are plenty of amazing inventions out there that won't break the bank and will make your life so much simpler. We recommend getting something in each walk of your life you share together. Some pillows for your living space, towels or soap dispenser for your bathroom, a pressure cooker and dishwasher for your kitchen, and bike rack for your car! Make sure to really give thought to what you're missing and what will make the life you build together even easier!

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SAVE-THE-DATE

What is a save-the-date? A little reminder for everyone to know when and where you will be having your ceremony to keep your family and friends in the loop. How early do you send them out? What do they look like? And how do you send them? Remember, these are different from invitations.

You send these out way in advance to anyone you plan on inviting so they know not to schedule anything for the day of your wedding. These can be emails or actual invites, though we suggest sending them electronically to cut down on paper waste and to keep your loved ones safe. Order these 6 months to a year before the date. Make sure to get them all sent out 4 - 6 months before your wedding, giving guests ample time to clear their schedule and prepare for your special day.

These don’t require too much information, just your name, location of the wedding (something general like the general area/city and state will do), and of course a message that the date must be saved! You can always add a little more info like a wedding website if you’ve made one. It’s a wonderful way to send a really cute picture of yourself as a couple to all your friends and family.

Save-the-Date Template Example Full

Save-the-Date Template Example Full 2

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TRANSPORTATION

Depending on where your wedding takes place, you could have a hard time finding parking spots for your guests. This can happen if there's a large group all coming to the same area with not enough space for everyone's vehicles, or if your venue is somewhere secluded without parking. An easy work around for this is to hire a shuttle or van to bring people back and forth from a designated parking area to the venue. There are many services that do this, and some venues offer in-house shuttle services. If people will be driving to the ceremony, make sure to create an informative, easy to follow guide to send everybody to make sure no one gets lost or shows up late.

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3. Wedding Catering/Vendors

Will you have a catered event, and if so what kind of food? And how many people? Always remember to take into account food allergies and intolerance in your guests. If there isn’t a catering service but there will be food at your wedding, where will it come from and how will you get it there? Bigger ceremonies require lots of moving parts, passing out food and cake, moving tables and chairs, outdoor heaters, etc. You may even need help from a third party designated to help with the move (such as friends and family or your wedding planner).

Catering: Wedding Buffet Food

Remember the vendor tips (18-20% typically), and make sure you’re not required to serve the caterers/vendors the same food as the guests in their contract, or else you’ll find yourself paying for 15 extra salmon filets! It could break the bank a little. Utilize the vendors you have and know to get you connected with other services you still need. Ask your videographer if he knows any good bands for weddings, ask your florist for cake shop recommendations. Those who work in this business are very connected, and a trusted source is best. Making sure you have the right food and arrangements multiple times, keep checking, be annoying about it!

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Cake: Four-Tiered Wedding Cake with Gold

CAKE

The cake can actually be one of the most important parts of a wedding reception because of course who doesn’t love cake! First, decide what kind of cake you want. Do you want a single layer, two, or even three? And the flavor? Or is it flavors? Attend a few days of testing at local bakeries and cake decorating services to get a feel of what you might want for your cake. If you’re hosting a theme wedding it’s important to have an idea how to incorporate the theme into your cake. Luckily fondant and frosting decorations are getting more and more elaborate every year. Bakers are able to recreate landscapes, movie scenes, and even people. This gives the bride and groom a huge range of options to add for cake decorations.

If you decide that you aren’t having a themed wedding the next most common cake decorating style would be to follow your flower or color combination. Simple cake ideas can be incorporated through the same flowers from the decorations or adding edible jewels.

If cake isn’t your thing at all some people choose pies, cookies, or an open desert bar. Making sure you have enough dessert for all your guests is generally easy to keep track of with a set guest list. If you allow an open reception where guests who didn't attend the wedding can come, it's important to consider any extra plates you'll have at the afterparty.

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Whatever You Want: White Wedding Cake with Flower Frosting

PHOTOGRAPHER OR MEDIA

How do you want to capture your special day? Do you want all guests to be able to take pictures or would you prefer to only have professional photos? Some common options are: one cameraman, a subtle team to capture different angles, or maybe even a videographer to record special moments from the event. And of course, you’re not limited to picking just one. As contractors, these teams or individuals are here to capture your moment. Most accommodate single and group pictures as well as just random photos requests.

If the bride and groom choose to do a set up photo shoot after the ceremony, it should be made clear to the photographer what they want. If the bride and groom just want good pictures, they may choose to let the photographer guide the shoot completely. Consider the style of the photos the photographer takes and what types of editing and lighting you want in your pictures. While pictures from guests' phones are just as special, they can lack the quality of professional photos. If on a tight budget, the bride and groom might opt to ask guests or family members if they have any knowledge and are willing to participate.

Not all couples get a wedding videographer but this can be an amazing memento for the bride and groom to remember the day. A candid and intimate look at the day from the perspective of the bride, groom, and guests. From the first look to “I do”s the couple can rewatch the experience after. Videos capture things that simple photos can't: the wedding vows, or the band in the background of the first dance - the bride's laughter during the groom's speech, or the groom's soft sniffles as his bride walks down the aisle. These moments are magical and well worth capturing. With social distancing kept in mind, a video might better suit a socially distranced gathering, with no need to gather people together for photos.

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Your Special Day: Hanging Wedding Decorations and Lights

STYLIST

Who will get the bride ready on her wedding day? While stylists aren't a rare option, it's common that the bride will have her hair and makeup done by a family member or member of the wedding party. If this is the case, then the bridal party is usually responsible for their own styling. It's a cost effective way to get everyone looking their best and gives everyone control over what they feel comfortable with.

If the bride opts to get her makeup done rather than do it herself, she needs to consider the time it will take to find a stylist and do a consultation. Stylists have their own areas where they strive and perform the best. Talk to the stylist about how much experience they have and where they feel most comfortable. Most brides do a test look before the wedding so both client and stylist have a good idea of what is getting done. This is the time for brides to express any color preferences or even full specific looks they want done. The role of hair usually also falls to the makeup artist. Have an idea before you get to the appointment, have reference pictures, and explore your options.

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MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT

Will you have live music, if so, what kind? Do you want to use a DJ service or do you want to set up a sound system yourself with a playlist? A playlist can be a bit less intimate, but allowing guests to play songs they want is a fun thing to let them do. If you use a DJ service, consider where they're going to have to set up and when they'll have access to the venue to set up beforehand.

To limit the amount of extra people at the venue, some couples started using personal sound systems more this year. As far as the type of music, it depends on the mixture of the families: play neutral songs or a wide variety if the range of tastes is very broad.

If you’re going to be hosting an after party, consider what types of games or activities you’re going to have for your guests to do. For many years, lawn games and indoor small table games have been a common form of entertainment for the after party. These things are also great for social distancing during Covid as they don’t have to be played in close quarters. Obviously speeches and toasts will be made throughout the night, usually in celebration of the bride and groom.

These things don’t normally need to be planned for but you can carve out a timeframe to host an open mic where people can relay their feelings and thoughts for the bride and groom. Decide if you’re going to take time to clear the dance floor for special dances between the brides and groom with each other and family members. If this is the case you will have to consider how you will announce these activities.

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Decorations: Wedding Reception Tables Set for Guests with Centerpieces

FLOWERS AND DECORATION

What will the theme of your wedding be, if you have one? Will you be using uniform colors? What designs and materials speak to you? What kind of flowers would you like and what do they mean? What about having some fun things people might not think of or see typically?

Not all weddings have a theme; some follow a color pattern. If you are picking a theme, consider the amount of extra work and the budget you set. Themed weddings have specific details that need to be taken into account when looking at venues, talking to a wedding planner, choosing caterers, and one of the most important parts: the cake. Think about you and your partner's style and how you can incorporate it into your wedding. If you share a favorite movie, hobby, or past time, these are a great source of inspiration for colors, bridal party outfits, and dress code.

Wedding Flowers Roses Bouquet

Covid has allowed couples to focus more on personally themed weddings since most weddings have been less than 50 people. If you don't have a theme and you want to just choose colors, consider your venue, the season, or colors significant to you and your partner. Have a general idea of the types of flowers or combinations of flowers you want for bouquets, boutineers, and for decoration. Lots of weddings use the bride bouquet as an outline of what to match, so it’s a good place to start. 2020 saw the trends of unconventional bouquets using feathers or beads instead because of the lack of fresh flowers being shipped.

When looking for a florist it is a good idea to look at the website or portfolio they have first to see if they have ever worked with the idea you have or the ascetic you are trying to achieve. Getting a good plan of what you want is important. Take into consideration several florists. It's not uncommon to have a local florist do the wedding party's flowers and to find a bigger provider to supply the actual decorative flowers.

The other trend this year is opting for reusable centerpieces. With social distancing, a new trend is using bowls of floating lights or flowers as a centerpiece since guests no longer take them. Your local flower shop is likely to have a florist in store who is willing to sit down and walk through these ideas with you. The smaller guest lists give couples the opportunity to spend a bit bigger portions of the budget on making the wedding personalized and unique. In 2020, mismatched chairs and couches as seating for the ceremony made a huge hit as couples spent more on their seating. Thrift furniture and decorations are also a hot way to make a fun and interesting setting. We love looking at Pinterest for ideas. (Check out our profile: LastingLoveBridal)

Don’t be scared to be adventurous and try something you see that fascinates you or even create something totally your own with your partner: hanging plants from the ceiling around where you’ll be seated, neon lights with you and your partners names, bouquets made of the favorite flowers of all your cherished ones - anything that feels right!

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OFFICIANT

Will your ceremony be religious or spiritual? If so, you’ll need to decide together on a set of morals and beliefs that you’d like your officiant to have. Then, go over the ceremony with each other and decide what you want. Now, if you and your partner are not particularly religious, there is a large group of officiants that are more connected spiritually. Some officials focus on how energy brings us together, or fate. Others stay away from the common “meant to be” and focus more on the crazy life journey that happened to introduce the bride and groom.

These are easy details to talk about and most couples don't have a hard time finding an officiant willing to comply with their wants for the ceremony. Most officiants are willing to let the bride and groom have total control over what the ceremony looks like while others have a predetermined route that they like to follow.

You can also get registered online to marry someone, so a close friend or family member who goes through the correct process to become officiated could be another good option. This has been a practice for years but became popular with covid due to the lack of officicants willing to be booked. Becoming an officiant in most states costs less than $50 and can be completed with just a few online reading materials and a quiz. After that the individual receives a certificate confirming that they have been ordained.

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THE DAY OF THE WEDDING

The only advice we have to say for this is make the best of it. Soak up every little moment. And make sure to relax. You’re doing this for yourself and your partner and you both want to spend the rest of your lives together. What more could you need? Enjoy it.

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4. The Road Ahead

ADJUSTING BACK TO NORMAL LIFE

Now you're back home, relaxed, and the last weeks and months seem to have flown by. The ceremony is over, the honeymoon has drawn to a close and now you’re getting back into the swing of things but wait, you’re not quite done yet! There are a few key things newlyweds should do after their wedding: sending thank you notes to everyone who attended, reconnecting with vendors to make sure their payments went through, and tucking your dress away somewhere special to look back on your magical day over the years.

If you changed your name, make sure to go through all your accounts and social media and change it there too! Repurpose decorations and supplies form the wedding, plant the flowers in your garden, and make sure to finish your registry! Some companies will even give you discounts on the remaining items on your list, but make sure to go get them within the first month because most companies only offer such discounts for up to 30 days post-ceremony.

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CONCLUSION

We know this guide is long but so is the path ahead. It’s filled with important decisions and possibilities and some unknowns. We hope this guide has made you think about new questions to ask yourself and helps make your special day absolutely perfect. Remember, Lasting Love Bridal is here for you. We are ready to help with our expert stylists and made to order dresses. We even have some ready to ship dresses for last minute bridesmaids. We’re here every step of the way.

We began by telling you to be realistic, and now, after reading all this, we want to emphasize it even more. Things will get crazy, and you can't predict everything coming your way in the next few months. Relax and enjoy the wonderful experience as it unfolds before you. No matter what, when it's all over, you will be together with the love of your life, and you will have shared something unique and incredible, something you made together.

Now go check out some of our amazing dresses!