Your wedding day is meant to be filled with love, excitement, fun, intimacy, and memories that will last for a lifetime. The fact that you are inviting guests to come and watch you and your (soon-to-be) spouse make lifelong vows, means that you intend for your guests to share and remember moments from that night. If you are planning a wedding, follow these tips and make it memorable.
When Planning a Memorable Wedding, you can consider the following things
Successfully executing a wedding usually involves several hours of planning. The most basic wedding still requires communication and coordination with several parties, including guests, the bridal party, the venue manager, and other vendors. If you plan to add unique elements to your wedding, you will need even more time and bandwidth in order for everything to go smoothly. Here we explain some of the steps you should include in the planning process:
Start Wedding Planning Early
Since several parties are involved in the planning process, it is in your best interest to start wedding planning as early as possible. We generally recommend that couples find their venue first, as it gives realistic timelines and accurate booking information for the other vendors you wish to engage. After finding a venue, entertainment should be your next priority. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is waiting too long to book entertainment for their wedding.
Finding experienced wedding entertainers can be challenging, and the longer you wait to book them, especially if you plan to book more than one form of entertainment, the harder it will be to find top-tier talent. We’ve helped several couples avoid this issue by sharing this with them:
“The best bands, DJs, and performance acts are sometimes booked two to three years in advance, which means you are competing with other couples – some of which may be getting married on the same date. It’s best to consult with your wedding planner or the venue about their “Preferred Vendors List.”
If you’re looking for entertainment yourself, it’s easy to find a few on Google, but you can also use social media to view clips of local acts to get a feel for what you want in a band. Just don’t wait too long – it would be a drag to end up with terrible entertainment during your most important day just because you are waiting a few months too late.”
Ultimately, your planning should start early, and you should consider your overall vision for the wedding so you can incorporate different types of entertainment at various stages of the night.
Hire a group of string musicians
Most weddings include a ceremony, cocktail hour (to help guests and the bridal party transition from the ceremony), and a reception. Some couples opt to use a string quartet during the ceremony and cocktail hour, which is a great way to keep guests engaged and keep the flow of the event moving before a DJ or live band takes over during the reception hours. If you want to make your wedding memorable, consider hiring a string musician or a group of musicians to play music during your ceremony and cocktail hour. You can typically save money by hiring the same group of musicians since they will likely be there already. Professional string musicians are prepared to play classical and contemporary music to fit the needs of your wedding, and guests will surely take notice of a group of musicians dressed in tuxedos and dresses, beautifully playing old and new tunes.
Consider hiring live musicians
When it comes to bringing music to a wedding reception, most couples opt to hire a professional DJ or live band. Over the years, many clients have asked – should I hire a band or DJ for my wedding? In general, the flow of your event and your choice of music makes a difference. For instance, a wedding band is a well-rehearsed group of individuals that can bring a level of excitement and power to your wedding; however, a band is not a jukebox that will play a full set of songs you chose the day before the wedding. If you want hours of tunes that just came out last week, hiring a wedding DJ would be in your best interest.
In order to make the choice that best suits your needs, consider a few things:
- Affordability is at the top of the list when couples consider whether a DJ or band will fit their needs. In general, a DJ will be a little less expensive than a band because a DJ is usually one person (maybe a plus one if they need an assistant). In contrast, a band usually has a group of musicians that will be paid individually. If you are on a tight budget, this is more of a reason to start your search early enough to learn about pricing. You may end up needing to go with a DJ from a cost-savings perspective, or you may find that you can afford a band by spreading out payments over a more extended period of time.
It is important to note that while this is a general assessment, there are times when a DJ can be just as expensive, if not more, than a DJ. DJs can charge thousands of dollars for couples who want a DJ with a level of popularity that will appeal to their guests. If a DJ provides add-ons like additional uplighting, a disco ball, or serves as the sound engineer for the reception, the price can go up as well.
Over the years, we’ve seen many couples go into the booking process blindly and end up with an underwhelming or even bad experience. We don’t want that for you, so if you choose to hire a wedding DJ, avoid making these common mistakes:
- Going the cheap route
- Booking a DJ with a lack of experience
- Not securing your DJ early enough
- Booking a DJ without the right fit or feel
- Hiring a DJ that doesn’t discuss your desires
If you are set on hiring a live band, consider whether your wedding is equipped to host a live band first. Here are some of the questions you must be able to answer for the entertainment company or band leader:
- Is your venue’s location equipped for the band to load in?
Smaller and older venues may not have elevators, a proper loading dock, or steps that can accommodate heavy equipment being moved in and out of the space before and after the wedding. When you tour the venue, ask the venue manager about their experience with live musicians performing at the band.
- Does your venue have enough space inside?
It may be your dream to have a live band for your wedding, but if your venue is on the smaller side, hiring a live band may not be a great idea. Guests may not appreciate being packed in a small venue with a 6-10 piece band, especially if they are seated at tables near the dance floor.
- Will your venue have the proper acoustics to make the band sound good?
A venue that is too small can create problems when it comes to sound. You want to ensure that you don’t book a large band for a small space because you could literally blow your guests away if the speakers and band play too loudly. On the contrary, a venue that is too large may dampen the guest experience if there is not enough equipment available to project the sound from the front to the back of the room. Coordinate with the bandleader and wedding planner to discuss the layout of the wedding reception hall to see if adjustments need to be made to accommodate tables, chairs, buffet and gift tables, and all of the elements, including the band set up and dance floor.
SPECIAL NOTE: Don’t forget about having outlets and running extension cords for the power needed to run the microphones, speakers, and amplifiers.
- Are there any local or regional noise ordinances?
Several venues have noise ordinances and demand that music and loud noises stop after a specific time period. This is a regular practice for wedding venues located near or inside residential areas. Venue managers are usually good about communicating these types of restrictions to clients when they book the venue. Still, it is always best to double-check by asking and researching to see if any local ordinances restrict loud music after a specific time of day or night too.
After asking yourself these questions, make sure you communicate and coordinate with the bandleader, wedding planner, and venue manager to create a workflow, map, and notate special directions to make the band’s performance and transition in and out of the venue seamless.
Don’t forget, band members can also serve as the musicians for your reception and cocktail hour if you do not decide to move forward with string musicians.
Plan according to your theme
Do you have a vision or theme in mind for your wedding? You may have always had the vision to have a wedding that is “magical” or “romantic.” Maybe you and your fiancee’ share a special love for an event or place and want to plan a wedding with a carnival-themed wedding. No matter what you decide, it is important to stick with your theme because this is your day. You may have many people in your ear telling you about what you should do (friends, in-laws, vendors), but planning a memorable wedding starts with two people first – the newly married couple.
Brides.com shares 18 Wedding Theme Ideas for any Style and offers this:
A wedding theme will set the tone for the big day and guide every aesthetic decision made from that point forward. For that same reason, this can be quite a daunting commitment to make. Do you want to go the romantic route, or keep things fresh and modern? With so many variations and wedding styles to choose from, the choice can be an overwhelming one. But it doesn’t need to be.
Consider what elements speak to you as a couple or as individuals. Perhaps certain colors or design aspects resonate on a deeper level, or maybe some iconic details have sentimental value. From there, you can allow your imagination to run wild and define the theme from those benchmarks.
Brides Tip: Just be sure to keep the venue and climate in mind. There’s even the possibility to elegantly combine major themes and create a custom-tailored, unique, and personalized experience.
Take this advice and run with it – keep your theme at the forefront of your mind while you’re planning every element of your wedding, and consider the weather alongside your vision.
Plan a destination wedding
A destination wedding is a wonderful way to make your wedding memorable. Guests will automatically get the chance to enjoy a vacation and your nuptials at the same time. Since destination weddings tend to take place at a location that is far enough where most guests have to travel abroad, there are usually fewer guests in attendance. This makes destination weddings very popular and very cost-effective. There are several websites and planners that specialize in helping couples plan the ultimate destination wedding.
Don’t forget to include your heritage or tradition in your wedding plans
One of the most endearing and thoughtful ways to make your wedding memorable is to include your heritage or family traditions in your wedding plans. As mentioned above, keep your theme in mind when planning your wedding, but if you can find ways to incorporate your family members into the plans, that is a beautiful way to create a bridge between what you want and moments your guests can enjoy.
Need a few ideas on how to include your heritage or family traditions into the plans? Woman Getting Married offers these seven ideas:
- Invitations: Use your wedding invitations to show your heritage. Minted offers a line of cultural invitations.
- Ceremony: You don’t have to center your ceremony around traditional elements, but you can add or modernize smaller parts of the ceremony to honor your heritage. Think “jumping the broom” like in the African American culture or “Breaking of the Glass” during a Jewish wedding.
- Decorations: Decorations are an easy and simple way to honor your heritage. You can incorporate specific colors or flowers into the decor, and those small details will symbolize how much you care about your family traditions.
- Attire / Wedding Dress: Most cultures have traditional elements for wedding attire. You can either wear the symbolic garb at the wedding or coordinate a couple’s photoshoot before the wedding and display the photos as part of the decorations.
- Food: This is an easy one! Everyone loves food and will appreciate being able to try new foods or taste their favorite traditional cuisine. You can serve traditional food during the cocktail hour if you have passed hors d’oeuvres or offer them as a late-night snack.
- Wedding Favors: Wedding favors are common across cultures. You can include a small token and a printed fact sheet about your heritage, which can serve as a way to educate your guests about one facet of your heritage.
- Entertainment & Music: The most common way couples honor their heritage is by incorporating special dances and songs into their ceremony and reception. While you’re early on in the planning process, think about traditional songs and music that can be played by the band or DJ. You can create a special playlist that can be played if the band is taking a break or if the DJ needs help with a list of songs. Beyond music, if you hire additional entertainment vendors, like a photo booth operator, you can ask the operator to design the printed photos with traditional imagery and designs or ask the vendor to provide traditional props for guests to use when they take the photos.
Plan fun activities like a photo booth
While we are thinking about photo booth options, a photo booth is a great way to get guests to mix and mingle. Most people love being able to take silly group photos, and if you hire a photo booth operator that provides printed copies or sends the live photos to guests’ phones, guests will appreciate the thought and post the photos on social media.
There are other fun ways to entertain your guests. Consider a few of these options:
- Ask guests for song recommendations. They will be delighted to contribute to the soundtrack of your special night, and they may even include songs you forgot about including in your requests list.
- Incorporate games into the cocktail hour or reception plans. You can have GiantJenga & Bingo available for guests to play during the cocktail hour. You can also have a themed raffle and give guests prizes or host a karaoke section during the reception.
- Provide party buses for guests to get to and from the venue
Plan a Fabulous Wedding, But Don’t Overdo It
Most guests want to try to fit in as many fun and exciting activities into their wedding as possible. While this is understandable, sometimes this can cause disaster – the first disaster being that too many elements can make your wedding run late. We’ve seen couples try to fit eight hours of activities, presentations, speeches, and dances into what should be four hours of time. After seeing Pinterest Boards and Instagram posts with wedding inspiration, you may end up overplanning your wedding, which may eventually overwhelm you and your guests.
When it comes to wedding speeches, there should be 3-4 max speeches spread out over the wedding reception, but you can get creative and still allow everyone to offer words of love and support without making the night drag on. For example, if you want to give extended family and friends the opportunity to speak, you can have a videographer on-site to record their messages instead of letting everyone speak during the reception. You can keep it traditional and have the parents, maid of honor, and best man share their speeches, then watch the recorded messages from other guests later.
Consider adding other elements at different times of your wedding weekend as well. Instead of playing a super long list of traditional songs during the ceremony or reception, you can have a string trio play traditional music during the cocktail hour. People will hear the beautiful music in passing as they socialize.
We recommend making a list of all of the elements you want to incorporate into your wedding, then think about where you can place them all. If you cannot fit them into the timeframe of the wedding, keep them for your anniversary or wedding vow renewal in 20 years. Overall less is more – do what you can do and just do it well!
So, How Much Time Do You Need To Plan A Wedding?
We recommend taking as much time as possible to plan your wedding. Most couples plan their weddings 9-12 months in advance. Coordinating with your wedding vendors, budgeting to pay wedding costs, and informing guests about your wedding plans takes time. If you can find a way to avoid having to rush your planning, you can secure great vendors, spread out paying for the wedding, and manage all of the questions from your family and friends. Our advice – take all of the time you need.
What Do You Need To Know Before Planning A Wedding?
Here are a few things you should know before planning your wedding:
- Create a vision board to stay on track with your wedding vision.
- Consider places where you would be willing to be flexible in the event that cost or logistics require a change in your original plans.
- Work with a wedding planner. Most people feel that a wedding planner is optional, but if you plan to incorporate several vendors and a large bridal party. More people involved means more coordination and communication, and a wedding planner will help you to manage, streamline and make the best decisions on your behalf. On the day of the wedding, you need to have a liaison that communicates with vendors while you socialize with your wedding guests and enjoy your day.
Is Wedding Planning Hard?
Wedding planning will be challenging, but it will all be worth it in the end. Your guests will appreciate and remember your special day, but you and your spouse will cherish this day for the rest of your lives. Be sure to create time to enjoy it and savor the moment. Memories are secondary to taking it in on the actual wedding day. Congratulations in advance!
Photos courtesy of Canva