Top Planning Tips for a Destination Wedding

Photo Credit:  Jessica Claire Photography

 

More couples today are turning to destination weddings from beach locations stateside to international locations such as Riviera Maya, Punta Cana, Montego Bay.  The majority of couples who choose destination weddings are doing so to find extra unique opportunities for themselves and their guests.  While many people assume the average duration is equivalent to a long weekend, most destination weddings average six days.

When choosing a venue it is important to keep your guests in mind.  Will the destination be affordable for guests to fly to and are there multiple hotel options at different price points.   Because of the extra expense of a destination wedding, you will find that your guest list will filter down to your core group of friends and family.

Most importantly it is important that you invest time and money to visit in person early in the planning process.   You will want to schedule venue site visits, do taste testings, and plan layouts and floor plans.  Depending on the size of your wedding, it may be easier to hire an event planner to help coordinate other vendors such as florists, photographers, DJs, etc.  And most importantly, if you are doing an international wedding in another county find out what the marriage license requirement are.  It might mean that you’ll have to tie the knot locally for it to be legal.

Know your destination and communicate information to your guests.  Share any special opportunities and travel ideas with them.   Communicate dress code and perhaps even send a basic vocabulary list in the local language.  Most important – have fun planning your special day.

Three Steps to a STRESS FREE Wedding

 

What is a wedding?  A wedding is a celebration of two people who unite their hearts and souls as one.  How do you want to celebrate your wedding?  What is important to you?  Is it important to have your entire family and a multitude of friends in a lavish, elegant venue with the best food and entertainment that will make you “the #1” wedding of the year, or – do you want something more intimate, more meaningful, a more casual celebration with close family and a few friends?   Or, is it something in between these two extremes?

The most important thing to remember is that it is your wedding and you need to follow your heart.  If you are choosing the lavish wedding the best advice for any future bride is to hire a wedding planner.  If you are looking for a more casual, intimate celebration here are a few tips to keep you stress free and truly enjoy your wedding.

  1. Cut the fat and get to the core.  Decide from the beginning what’s important in the day’s events for both of you.  You don’t have to do a garter or bouquet toss.  You don’t have to have a large, multiple tier cake, and you can choose a more relaxed menu like food stations.  There are no rules.
  2. Choose a venue that means something to you. Banquet halls or fancy hotel ballrooms are nice, but is it you?  What about a more non-typical wedding venue.  In St. Louis you could rent the Moto Museum (which has a neat display of antique motorcycles) or perhaps a small cabin or resort with a more relaxed atmosphere.
  3. Minimize the number of bridesmaids and groomsmen in your wedding party. It just adds a lot more complication to the entire planning process, plus when you have large groups your photography during the day takes a lot longer, just because you need to coordinate more people.

 

You want to remember this day as the best, most fun day of your life.  And most importantly, remember during the day to spend a few quiet moments with your groom.  So many couples are so busy during the day, that they never take the time to share their feelings, take a walk, or spend time together.  After all, without him, there would be no wedding.

5 Tips for Getting Into Your Wedding Dress & A Note About Your Getting Ready Room

 

I love the fun and excitement of getting ready that occurs in the girl’s getting ready room.  There are lots of special moments that unfold that beg to be captured by your photographer.  Perhaps it is your sister’s special hug or gift, or your best friend’s “something old” that she has given you – all these moments are so very special.  

Here is what I hate – bags, shoes, underwear, empty food containers, water bottles and a complete mess all around the room!  Your photographer will do their best to capture the events, but honestly, let’s have your girls pick up as they go – and a firm reminder from you, goes a long way.  The benefit is that your photos will not have the distractions of the messy environment, and those photos will emphasis the event and the emotion.  Remember you will be looking at these photos years from now!

And now for putting on the dress.

 

 

Tip #1:  Always go potty BEFORE you put on your dress.

Tip #2:  Be sure your photographer is there to capture the moment.  Don’t put on the dress before he/she arrives.

Tip #3:  Putting on your wedding dress can be an incredibly beautiful, fun and captivating moment.  Most photographers recommend that you pick one person to assist you, sometimes your mother or your maid of honor.  Having less people will make the moment more relaxed, let you enjoy it, and allow your photographer to capture more of you and your dress, rather than a sea of people.

Tip #4:  To keep your hair and makeup fresh, if you are putting the dress on over your head, raise your arms up and out to protect your hair and makeup.

Tip #5:  Put on your own jewelry.  A sea of people – adjusting your dress, adding your bracelet, one adding a necklace – just way to much going on at one time.  I see people looking like they are dressing a Barbie Doll, and the bride just trying to accommodate everyone!  It’s crazy.   Put on most of your own jewelry, but if you have one piece that’s important to you (or hard to get on) have ONE person help you with this.  Shoes do require help – who can see their feet in those big fluffy or tight dresses.

And one last, little thing.  Why do all girls hold onto their boobs?  Really?  Once the dress is on, let go!    Do you want all your photos to show you holding up your boobs? 

Finally, enjoy this part of the day.  It’s really special and it’s the moment that you have been waiting for, for a long time.  Take a deep breath, perhaps even have a few minutes to yourself, and then step out and have an absolutely amazing day!

7 Different Ways to Add a Unique Touch to Your Wedding

7 Different Ways to Add a Unique Touch to Your Wedding using locally sourced flowers and floral elements.

Flowers are a key component to any wedding décor.  The Color, Texture, and Smell – all combine to add to the intimacy of the day.   Yes, you and your bridesmaids will carry bouquets, but there are so many additional ways to add the romantic feel of flowers and nature to your event.  To keep the costs in line, look around you.  What is naturally growing in the park.  What is native to our area?  Moss and vines, river rock, ferns, berries and foliage in winter combined with other flowers and décor elements, can be super elegant and beautiful.  Here are some ideas that you might wish to incorporate in your décor.

  • Create a signature drink and add a small floral bloom.
  • Incorporate Garlands with draping and simple white bows to define an area.
  • Centerpieces can be more than just flower arrangements.  Add a touch of wood and/or light with lanterns to add a bit of glamour.
  • Make a Floral Backdrop for an outdoor wedding.
  • Use a floral garland to decorate your cake.
  • Decorate Your Head Table with a beautiful garland of flowers and candles.
  • Decorate a trellis to create a beautiful ceremony site. (This is great for outdoor weddings!)
  • And, one more, decorate the back of the Mr. & Mrs. Chair with more than a bow.

Good local flowers include Gerber Daisies, Roses, Peonies, Baby Breath, Statice, Asters, Mums and Sunflowers.  Be creative and let your imagination soar!

How to Choose your Wedding Photographer

The photographs from your wedding day will be a timeless memento of a truly special day. Wedding photographers can be very expensive, focus on a number of different styles, and offer a variety of levels of service. All the bridal magazines say to look at some basics like does the photographer work more classic style with a shot list or more in a photojournalistic style where they take just a few posed pictures, trying to tell the story of your wedding in a normal naturalistic style.   About 90% of the photographers today, do the more photojournalistic approach….so there needs to be more than just that to make your decision.

The PPA (Professional’s Photographer Association) recommends that you interview several photographers.  Look at samples – complete weddings if possible.  Do they specialize in a specific style – more artsy, more funk, more black & white?  Do they have a variety of shots – far away, full body shots, close ups; do they provide just basic “typical” shots like cutting the cake or do they also shoot special moments and emotions?

Do you feel comfortable with that photographer?  They will be spending most of the day with you and you want to develop good communication skills and feel comfortable with them.

One note – photography and videography are two distinctly different fields, both requiring extensive training to produce high-quality results.  Depending on your budget, you may want both photo and video coverage of your wedding – totally separate services.

So – here’s my question to you past brides and current future brides.  How much of your decision is based on price, reputation, or experience?  How did you find your photographer?  Family, friends, google search?   If you hired your photographer for your upcoming wedding or if your wedding has occurred, why did you hire him/her as a photographer?   Share with us your thought and ideas.  Send to bride@bridestlouis.com.

7 Tips to Make Your Wedding Day Stress Free

I’ve seen a fairly large number of weddings, and I can guarantee you that there has never been a perfect wedding.     Here are seven things you might want to put on your checklist when you are planning your big day.

 

  1. Don’t forget the marriage license.  Yes, it’s true.  It happens and it happens quite often. Make one of you responsible for bringing the license.
  2. Make the rehearsal dinner different from the reception.   The purpose of the rehearsal dinner is for close family and friends of the bride and groom to mingle and be at ease with one another.  If the rehearsal dinner was a great four course meal, dancing, and the works – the next night might seem like a “repeat” of the first, but with more guests.  A rehearsal dinner should leave the participants psyched up for the “big” event.  Create a rehearsal dinner that’s different – maybe an outdoor steak/hamburger grill, barbeque or a picnic style event with relaxed dress attire.
  3. Here’s the crazy thing about most weddings.  You and your partner will share very little time together on the most important day of your lives!  First, you get ready for the ceremony, then have the ceremony, and finally spent a lot of the reception dancing with parents and friends and thanking guests for coming.  I highly recommend that you PLAN some alone time for you and your spouse immediately after the ceremony.  Take a walk, go to a room alone, or just find some place where the two of you can really share time just with one another.
  4. Don’t try to do everything yourself!  The night before the wedding you don’t want to be making place cards, finishing centerpieces or arranging bouquets.  Delegate and use your family and friends.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen are there as well to assist you, so don’t hesitate to ask them to take responsibility for a last minute task.
  5. Don’t invite too many wedding guests.  Sure, I’ve seen empty spaces at tables where guests have RSVP’d and then failed to arrive.  However, if you have invited 300 guests, received 290 “yes” responses, but the reception venue can only legally accommodate 275, you might have to turn 10 people away.  That’s really bad.  I’ve seen it happen.  And I think most couples don’t realize this.
  6. Don’t blow the budget!  Make a budget and keep track of your expenditures.  Don’t forget the hidden extras like tips and delivery fees.  I’ve heard of grooms who had to make a trip to the bank to get money to pay the DJ, or else there would be no music!   It costs a lot of money to have a wedding, so make sure you have all the major items budgeted for.
  7. Tension between families is inevitable.  Remember that this is a celebration of the beginning of your life together….and leave all the family issues at the door.  Don’t let issues ruin your day.

Have a Great Time at Your Wedding!