There is nothing more disheartening for the bride than when she comes in with her heart set on yellow peonies for an August wedding, only to find out that yellow peonies are just not naturally available in August. There are a ton of flowers available year-round, like roses, hydrangeas, carnations, callas and orchids, just to name a few. Knowing just this one piece of information can make your flower plan go much more smoothly.
Flower colors are never exact. Rely on your florist to help you understand the undertones of different varieties; for example, red ranunculus have orange undertones that stand out when paired with cool colors. Also remember that many of the photographs you see online or in magazines can be misleading; when the photographer is color-correcting for skin tone and lighting, it may adjust flower colors beyond what is realistic.
Your colors may be purple and white, but mixing two colors contrasting colors without any shading can look like polka dots in pictures. Instead you might want to add in lavender and gray green foliage to give it a softer look.
Never skimp on your bridal bouquet. It is the most important floral accent of the night because all eyes are on you during the walk down the isle. It is the one floral design that will be on your mantel, your bedside table, at your mother’s house, your in-laws’ house and on your desk at work in photos for the next 50 to 60 years—you had better like it!
If you are on a limited budget, go monochromatic for a bigger impact. A monochromatic color scheme looks more organized and really gives your ceremony and reception a pop of color that is sure to wow even in the smallest amounts.
One way to save money on your flowers is to make your flowers do double duty. You can design ceremony flowers in such a way that they can be redistributed for display at the reception. Including vases for the bouquets to decorate the head table is a great way to reuse the bouquets that you have already paid for. Once photos are completed the bouquets are often left lying about anyway.
The most difficult and least productive meetings are the ones where no budget is given. You wouldn’t go to buy a car without telling the salesman in advance if you are in the market for a Ferrari, BMW or a Toyota. We request in our very first phone conversation that a budget be provided at the meeting.
If you aren’t planning a traditional wedding, then your flowers certainly don’t have to be traditional either. And there’s no need to limit yourself to roses and peonies. I personally love succulents and work with them whenever possible. I also pull in fruit and vegetables like pomegranates, kale, apples—whatever speaks to the wedding and a bride’s vision.
If you are on a tight budget, remember, it’s your day—not your bridesmaids’. Make your bouquet perfect. Theirs can be smaller and simpler—and therefore less expensive. And keep your bridal party to about 4 people.
Make sure that you get a detailed proposal from every florist you meet with and if possible, ask them for the exact count of each flower that will be included. This helps you to understand what is driving the cost since flowers are expensive. Also, it eliminates disappointment on your wedding day when you expected a large, lush arrangement as described but instead got a minimal amount of blooms and lots of filler. If you don’t like or want greenery say so!
In the course of wedding planning, you’ll probably come across a guest or two whose inappropriate actions, odd requests or rude behavior seems appalling. Don’t be shocked—while you may know the ins and outs of wedding etiquette, some of your friends and family members may not be aware of what’s acceptable. What can you do? Be proactive. Here’s how.
What they did: Anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows the importance of a punctual RSVP—from plotting your seating chart to giving the caterer a final head count—it’s hard to proceed without a firm grasp of who’s coming. Unfortunately, some of your guests may treat the RSVP as a novelty rather than a necessity.
How to deal: Give it a week. After that, it’s time to give them a call. Recruit your maid of honor to help you with phone duties if you’re really struggling with missing RSVPs. Or, better yet, send out a group email (use a blind CC) saying you need to know by [insert deadline] if they’re planning on attending. Keep the tone nice, but firm. Then, you only have to call those who don’t reply to the email (which really is a double-duty foul).
Stop the cycle: Make the reply-by date as early as possible, say, two weeks from the date you intend to mail the invitations. That way, when your guests see the deadline is quickly approaching, they’ll (hopefully) stick the reply card in the mail right then and there.
What they did: The good news is the guest has returned the RSVP. The bad news is she’d love to attend—with a person you never invited, maybe never even heard of. Whether she believes every invite bestows the right to bring a date, or a child, adding a name to the RSVP puts everyone in an awkward position.
How to deal: To avoid potential hurt feelings, you need to establish a no-exceptions guest list policy (significant others only if engaged; no children under 18). Then, call the misguided guest to explain the circumstances. Apologize for the misunderstanding and tell her that unfortunately the limitations (a small reception space or a tight budget) require a strict guest list. The person most likely didn’t intend to thwart your list with the addition of another guest and will gladly come to the wedding solo.
Stop the cycle: Tell your parents, wedding party, and other close relatives and friends, so they can spread the word when asked. And, of course, address your invitations in a direct manner (don’t write “Smith Family” unless they really are all invited). The earlier a guest knows who’s actually invited, the less painful the conversation will be.
What they did: As soon as they received the invite to your wedding, the phone calls began. Guests are treating you like their personal concierge, with questions about transportation, accommodations and fun things to do while they’re in town.
How to deal: Make sure every guest has all the info they need by creating a wedding website. Include a link to the hotel where you’ve reserved a block of rooms, local museums and restaurants, and driving directions. Put together a welcome basket for out-of-towners with the weekend’s itinerary, so no one feels the need to ask you about the wedding game plan.
Stop the cycle: Some technophobes might still pester you with questions. Go over the guest list with both sets of parents, and decide which key invitees, if any, are not likely to check your website. Print out a copy of the info listed on the site and mail it to them.
What they did: Some guests feel that buying a present from the registry is impersonal. Instead, they go and purchase a gift with a little more, er, imagination.
How to deal: Shopping off the registry can result in a pleasant surprise, or leave a couple cringing. But you cannot be anything but gracious for any gift you’re given. While they’re typically expected, wedding gifts are technically not required from a guest. If someone has eschewed the registry and bought you a present you know you won’t use, check whether they sent it with the receipt. If so, they may have realized their gift might not be your style, and it’s fine to return the present. Otherwise, write a thank-you note for the thoughtful gesture, and keep the gift for as long as you can stand having it around.
Stop the cycle: Register at an off-the-beaten path store, like a local museum shop or a boutique home store, that offers unique gift options. That way, the guest can get you something a bit more personal that you’ll actually love.
What they did: You know how some people show up late to movies because they know there’ll be 20 minutes of trailers? Some guests may have a similar notion for your ceremony. (We’ve all seen at least one late guest stroll in directly behind the bride walking down the aisle!)
How to deal: For those who are really late, ask an usher or your day-of coordinator to hang out near the rear of the ceremony site so they can make sure your processional goes undisturbed, and to have them help any late guest quickly and quietly find a seat.
Stop the cycle: Give yourself a slight buffer for your friends and family who are never quite on time. If your invites say the ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m., plan on walking down the aisle about 15 minutes after that.
What they did: It doesn’t sound so bad: Someone brought a huge gift to the wedding. While you really can’t complain about receiving presents at your reception—or at all for that matter—it can be a pain to lug them home.
How to deal: Ask one of your attendants to store all the gifts in one place—preferably a locked, separate room in your reception space—so nothing gets left behind. At the end of the evening, that attendant can account for all the gifts and then take them to the most convenient location (probably someone’s home rather than your honeymoon suite).
Stop the cycle: Online registries have made it easier than ever to send gifts wherever you want. Promote this gifting tool by including links to your online registries on your wedding website.
What they did: Weddings can be emotional events, and the toasts are an opportunity for your closest friends and family members to share sentiments with the rest of your guests. Those same emotions (and maybe too much alcohol) can do funny things to an otherwise reliable guest, and some may feel compelled to grab the mic when they weren’t asked to toast. Embarrassing stories, offensive anecdotes and rambling rants have all worked their way into wedding toasts.
How to deal: Unfortunately, you need to just grin and bear it. If the toast seems like it will never end, have the best man signal the band or DJ to carefully cut in. The other guests will appreciate the gesture too.
Stop the cycle: Head off unexpected toasts by making sure the emcee of the evening (your DJ or bandleader) has a list of approved toasters. Tell them not to give the mic to anyone who’s not scheduled to speak, no matter how persistent their plea for the microphone.
What they did: You’ve worked with your band or DJ to put together the perfect soundtrack for your evening. All of a sudden, your ambiance is interrupted by the sounds of “Y.M.C.A.” and it seems that your Aunt Margie is behind it.
How to deal: Requests from your guests may be inevitable, and if your band or DJ thinks it’s appropriate for the atmosphere, they might give requested songs a play. And it might be okay—you can’t control everything about your wedding or reception. But if you’re still fuming from the faux pas, talk to the bandleader or DJ immediately afterward and tell them that you would prefer to avoid group dance songs.
Stop the cycle: To avoid any playlist pitfalls, give your band or DJ a list of songs that you absolutely don’t want to hear at the reception. If you’re worried your strictly Motown playlist will be disrupted by someone’s insistence on hearing his favorite Bon Jovi tune, it’s okay to let your band or DJ know that guests’ song requests should be politely declined.
What they did: A few too many signature cocktails turned one of your guests from the life of the party into a bit of a mess.
How to deal: While it’s not your responsibility to babysit your guests, you can’t turn a blind eye to someone who’s had way too much to drink. If there’s any risk that the guest will try to drive, ask your planner, a responsible attendant, friend or family member to call a cab, and to make sure they take the ride. It’s not much fun to send someone home early, but making sure everyone gets home safely is incredibly important.
Stop the cycle: You can’t limit the number of drinks each guest consumes, but you can grant the bartender permission to cut off anyone that’s has had one too many. Other than that, make sure there’s plenty of water on the tables and enough delicious bites to satisfy any guest—big drinker or not.
What they did: In the middle of your perfect party, you notice a few unfamiliar faces in the crowd, and wonder, “Who invited them?” Your wedding has been crashed.
How to deal: Don’t freak out! With tasty food, fun music and free drinks, it’s no wonder some fun-loving people might want to get in on the action. But as long as they’re not indulging in these perks, or causing any conflict, try to ignore them. Otherwise, have the site manager discreetly escort the crashers out.
Stop the cycle: If you’re marrying at a hotel or club that hosts multiple parties in one night, there might be wedding wanderers. Unless you hire a security guard (which is a bit extreme), there’s no way to prevent it. If you’re really worried, tell the catering manager (and the waitstaff) to keep an eye out for possible crashers.