Tis the season for family, friends and celebrations. The perfect time for the ultimate gift… a marriage proposal! And there will be quite a few of those as always. Here in the popular wedding destination of Charleston, that means the race is on to find the perfect date, venue and vendors, adding stress to the already stressful task of planning a wedding.
Just a few steps to get you off on the right foot…
Step 1: Establish a general guest list. Having a sense of the size of your wedding will help you to know which venues are appropriate and what sort of budget is possible.
Step 2: Budget! Not anyone’s favorite topic with regards to this spirited time, but something to be established right off the bat. This will address expectations and have everyone on the same page before starting to book items that don’t make sense budget-wise.
Step 3: Venues… This is everyone’s first thought when beginning to plan and getting the right venue and date can be nerve racking. We recommend doing your homework the best you can and putting soft holds on those venues and dates that are of interest. Most venues will keep you penciled in for a couple of weeks or until there is a strong interest in your date. At that point you have to commit or walk away. Placing a few holds will give you enough time for step number 4 (be sure not to forget to respectfully call back those venues you decide against to release the holds later).
Step 4: Reach out to planners… Of course we will plug our services here, but let’s be honest, some sort of experienced planner/ coordinator on your side is a HUGE relief in ensuring you enjoy this affair you have put so much time and money into. It is worth the investment. Bringing in a knowledgeable planner prior to settling on a location can certainly help you choose the right spot. Bride’s fall in love with venues and choose based on heart quite often. There are many things to consider financially as well as logistically to ensure you start off on the right foot. When choosing a planner, you need to first decide what level of service your budget allows. Full service is best in order to touch on all aspects of the celebration based on a professional’s experience as well as to be introduced to options and ideas you may not have found on your own. However, many budgets do not allow for this service, so understanding what options are out there and which is the best service for your needs is important…
Full Service – unlimited planning and design of your event from square one. This is obviously everyone’s preferred option as all the details and legwork are left to the professional. They merely get a good idea of your priorities, style, budget, needs and vision overall as well as in each category of planning, then get to work bringing you the best options for you to choose from. A good full service planner will allow you to be as hands on or hands off as you need to be. Having them by your side at every turn will ensure a perfectly thought out and executed event and allow you peace of mind the entire process. (cost ranges from a percentage of the budget-minimums may apply, to negotiated flat rates which vary tremendously based on levels of experience)
Partial Planning – Sometimes called “Month of,” this service helps get you rolling with established venue/ vendor recommendations and then turns you loose to do the leg work your self. Often a set number of hours of planning that typically are applied during the full month prior to the wedding. This allows the professional to review your paper work and familiarize themselves with all the details you have planned. At that point they can pinpoint problems and oversights, and tighten up the timeline, layouts, budget payments, and vendor confirmations, allowing them more knowledge to successfully facilitate the celebration from ceremony rehearsal, set up to breakdown and everything in between. (costs are typically flat rates somewhere between $2,500 and $4,500 with the ability to increase hours during the process if need be).
Day of – I think everyone will agree that this is not the best service out there, but sometimes it is what is available. It is certainly better than nothing at all. Ensuring you have an established planner who can more quickly recognize and solve problems on the spot is important as there is less time for them to recognize any issues ahead of time. This usually includes a few phone conversations and a meeting or two in order to go over the details you have, then being a full presence for the ceremony rehearsal and full day of set up through breakdown on the day of allowing you to enjoy your day. (costs range as a flat rate roughly between $850 and $2,500)
Step 5: After you find your planner, allow them to help you choose the venue. Phew! Then you can rest assured you have a location to celebrate that will perfectly accommodate your needs.
Step 6: Go relax, grab a glass of wine and get ready for the fun!
Step 7: Vendors – It is important to recognize your priorities, and establish a budget with your planner that weights more heavily to these areas. Understanding a legitimate cost to budget for each area of the wedding is important when choosing your vendors. If photography is most important look at an elevated cost for a photographer and decide what area(s) could stand to cut back in order to get that perfect photographer. Once you establish the detailed budget estimates narrow your options to 2 or 3 per category, set up meetings, and get quotes from each and contract from there.
Step 8: Enjoy! Once you have everything booked you are far from finished, but you can relax and begin to enjoy being engaged. Details can be hashed out in the months approaching.
Congratulations to all the newly engaged couples for 2017! We wish you the best of luck and would love to be a part of your celebration!
Enjoy a sweet proposal / private engagement dinner for two shot by the incredible Evan Laettner.