Entertain Your Guests With Wedding Activities

Let’s be honest, wedding guests can get antsy between activities.  To increase the fun factor at your wedding consider including a few of the following activities.  Let me be clear though, DO NOT do all of these, half of these or even a fourth of these.  Instead, choose only a few activities and do them well!  Too many activities will make your event about the games and not about your marriage.

Yard Games

There are so many options for yard games.  There is corn hole, ring toss, jenga, horseshoes, checkers, connect four, scrabble, beersbee, tic-tac-toe, lawn bowling, croquet, bocce ball and burlap sack races just to name a few.  Get creative and pick whichever ones you like the most. Here are even more ideas.

Interactive Games and Dances

  • The shoe game is a great way to give people as break from the dance floor for some laughs.  Bridal Guide describes it as follows, “Remove both of your shoes, then trade a shoe with your new spouse so that you’re holding one of each. Then, have a designated person ask a series of questions about the two of you and your relationship (i.e.. “Who will be doing most of the cooking?” “Who said ‘I love you’ first?”). After each question, hold up the shoe of the person you think is the best answer to the question.”  See their blog post for more details.
  • Get your guests involved in the shoe game by giving them something to hold up to weigh in on the questions.  Some people print the face of the bride and groom for their guests to hold up.
  • The dollar dance is a bit controversial to some, but it can be hysterical if you’re up for it.  Traditionally, guests contribute money to the bride and groom in order to dance with them.  The money can be for the honeymoon or whatever they want.  Luckily, The Knot wrote a post about etiquette for and alternatives to the dollar dance.
  • The anniversary dance gets guests of all ages on the dance floor.  Ask all married couples to come dance to a classic tune.  Then excuse couples in order of how many years they have been married starting with 1 year and working your way up.  This is a great way to celebrate lasting love!

Stations

Get your guests up and moving by creating stations spread around your venue with actives.

  • Have a table for guests to make their own party favor.  The can personalize their favor or select their favor from several options.
  • Food stations such as candy bars, s’mores bars and baked potato stations are always a hit.  Guests love options!    Here are more food station  and drink station ideas.
  • Depending on your crowd, you could do wine, craft beer or whiskey tasting stations.  We especially like the idea of a Kentucky Bourbon tastings here in Kentucky.
  • For the guys you could even do a cigar rolling station.

Photo Activities

Photographers capture the beauty of your day, but they don’t always get all the casual, candid and comical moments.  Photo activities can help you and your guests see your event from different angles in an entertaining way.

  • A traditional option is to hire a photo booth to set up at your event.  They provide all kinds of props and usually give you access to see all the photos afterward.  You can personalize your photo booth with a custom backdrop (ideas here).
  • Do a polaroid seating chart or guestbook to keep track of everyone that attends your event.
  • Print I Spy cards to encourage your guests to take certain pictures throughout the event.
  • Even without hiring a photo booth you can creative a fun photo backdrop for your guests to snag photos in front of.
  • I love the idea of doing a video booth to capture messages from your guests.  You can ask them to say something specific or let them be creative.

Table Activities

Consider table activities if you want to provide things for your guest to do that don’t require a lot of space or even for them to get up.  Mad lib sheets, advice booklets and icebreaker activities are always a hit if your guests are the type to give them a chance.  In the advice booklets you could ask for date ideas, anniversary ideas or even marriage advice.  Etsy has soooooo many options.

Creative Guestbooks

A standard guestbook is totally fine if that is your style, but their are so many way to jazz up this oftentimes dull task.  You can venture out from the norm by having one of the following as your guestbook.

  • Have guests sign pieces of a Jenga or puzzle set.
  • A Map or globe where people pin where they are from and sign their name.
  • Guests can leave a note on quilt square.
  • Ask guests to put their finger print on a canvas.  There are so many shape options for this and Etsy is a great place to see your options.
  • Have small pieces of paper for your guests to write a message to put in a bottle.  You could burry the bottle as a time capsule to be opened on 1st, 5th and/0r 10th anniversary.
  • Provide a giant color-in mural for guests to add to throughout the night, like a paint by numbers.  Guests can sign the portion they color.
  • Praise Wedding gives you 28 other guestbook ideas.

Kid Friendly Fun

There are so many activity options for keeping the kiddos busy at your wedding.  Know your crowd and choose games that are appropriate for the age and taste of the kids.  Consider: board games, custom wedding coloring books, I Spy with disposable cameras, holla hoops and/or glow sticks.  BuzzFeed gives you even more ideas.

Get Social

  • Have a custom wedding hashtag so you can easily find all the images your guests and vendors are taking at your event.  Be sure to post the hashtag where everyone will see it.
  • You could even do a custom Snapchat filter to make your snaps extra special.

We also love these 31 Impossibly Fun Wedding Ideas from BuzzFeed, these 30 Unique Wedding Ideas from The Knot and these 10 Wedding Games That Your Guests Will Love.

10 Tips for Wedding Setup & Cleanup

Tips for wedding setup and cleanup, flowers by Fields in Bloom, photo by Brandi Potter Photography
Tips for wedding setup and cleanup, flowers by Fields in Bloom, photo by Brandi Potter Photography

Wedding setup and cleanup can be a major source of stress.  Even if you have excellent vendors and a solid team of helpers, someone still has to have a plan and execute that plan.  We have put together 10 tips for wedding setup and cleanup in an effort to keep all you soon-to-be brides sane as your wedding day approaches.

  1. Do as much as you can in advance.  Time to slip by since the wedding planning process is so lengthy, but if you plan on spreading out the tasks throughout your engagement you won’t be overwhelmed in the end.  If possible avoid doing any assembly, crafting or shopping the week of the wedding.
  2. Organize your STUFF.  It is really helpful to label boxes as to what they contain and where they go at the venue.  For example, use the general labels categories prep, ceremony and reception or use more specific labels like guestbook table, cake table, etc.  You can also print/draw pictures of exactly how you want things setup and/or inspiration images and put the images in the box so that anyone can handle the setup.
  3. Create an event floor plan.  It is much easier, for most point, to visualize the space from a floor plan with all the tables and chairs in place.  Putting lots of labels and descriptions on the floor plan can help eliminate a bunch of questions and thus save you time.
  4. Have a schedule.  Everything will take longer than you think so create a conservative schedule of what needs to be done when and who is responsible for doing it.  It is also a good idea to add an hour of cushion time for the unexpected. You want to leave plenty of time to relax and get ready before event starts.
  5. Be smart about delegating tasks.  Make sure you are assigning tasks that fit the person’s skills and abilities.  It is important not to ask too much of any one person since you want all your guests to be able to enjoy the celebration.
  6. Create an operations center.  Find a central location at the venue to keep commonly needed items (scissors, tools, tape, etc.), checklists, schedules and the floor plan.  All your helpers will know were to go to find what they need.
  7. Know the venue rules and expectations.  Read your venue contract, ask questions and get advice from the venue staff.  You don’t want to plan something only to find out that it won’t work at your venue or it isn’t allowed.  All venues have different rules on how the venue can be altered and how it is to be left at the end of the night.
  8. Don’t underestimate cleanup.  We find that our clients oftentimes don’t allot enough time to pack up all their belongs and don’t request enough help.  By the end of the night people are tired and the logistics of what goes where can be complicated.  Labeled boxes and checklists help with cleanup just as much as they do with setup.
  9. Coordinate the transportation of STUFF.  Plan how everything will be transported to and from the venue.  Provide adequate packing materials and overestimate the space you’ll need in order to prevent issues.  Remember, don’t count on your car if you are not staying to help clean up.  Also, you will have some items like flower arrangements and leftover food that came from vendors, but will need to have a place to go after the event.
  10. Take care of your team.  Food, fun and appreciation go a long way to show your vendors and helpers how thankful you are for their assistance.  Have snacks and water available throughout the day or even plan to feed them a meal while they’re working.  To keep the mood stress-free and upbeat play some tunes.  And last but not least, don’t forget to express your appreciation so how.

Find more tips on how to manage wedding weekend helpers in a previous blog post.

The D.I.Y. Dilemma

Weddings are complicated.  I know we’ve said it a million times, but it’s still true and until you have planned one you probably have no idea how much goes into this single day.  As a guest, you show up, have a good time then go home.  As a host, you plan for a year then work your tail off to make it a success.  Along the way you have to make the decision over and over again as to whether to do something yourself (D.I.Y.) or hire someone to complete the task for you.  The food, flowers, favors, photos and so much more can either be put on your to-do list, the list of family and friends or handed over to a hired professional.  Here are some considerations and cautions to think about as you decide who will do what for your event.

D.I.Y. Considerations

I’m sure you or someone close to you CAN do all the tasks associated with hosting a wedding.  That isn’t the question.  Instead, the question is whether you WANT or NEED to do it yourself.  It may be less expensive to do things yourself, but it does come at a cost.  I have seen first-hand the stress, exhaustion and sometimes even disappointment associated with doing everything yourself.  You and your guests should be able to enjoy your wedding day with as little stress as possible.  This is why I suggest hiring wedding professionals for as many tasks as you can.

Professionals in the wedding industry exist for a reason.  They offer a valuable service and must be good at what they do for their business to survive.  The product of an experienced and well trained vendor is usually higher quality, more reliable and less hassle than that of D.I.Y.ers.  Paid vendors can advise you on what choices you have based on your budget, venue, season and style so you can make educated decisions.  Their established supply chain can also provide more options or better prices for certain items.  You can trust that wedding professionals will provide what you ask for, when you ask for it.  That being said, there are still low risk tasks that you can delegate to family and friends.

If you’re thinking about asking a friend or family member to do something for your wedding be sure to consider the skills required, the scale of job and the importance of the outcome.  Match each task with those who have the skills, facilities, time and resources to do the job.

D.I.Y. Cautions

Somehow everything ends up being more complicated and taking longer than you thought it would.  Beware that when you do something yourself there may be last minute costs and stresses due to your lack experience.  Be realistic with your time and talents so that you don’t have to deal with the cost to fix a problem or repair damages.

You and everyone around you will want you to be happy with your wedding day, but unpaid helpers also have their own interests to consider.  They may not be as prompt, particular and professional as paid vendors who are passionate about their work and business.  If you decide to have a friend or family member do a task traditionally done by a professional, you may need to be flexible and adjust your expectations.

Show appreciation for your wedding helpers regardless of how much or how little you have asked of them.  I’m sure they aren’t helping you for a gift, but your helpers should feel appropriately appreciated.  You never want a friend or family member to feel used or annoyed by your lack of consideration for their time and energy.  Be sure to cover all the expenses related to their task and give them a thank you note at the very least.

4 Things To Leave To The Professional

From our experience, these four tasks should be done by professional if at all possible.

  • Catering  |  Catering isn’t just cooking.  It is planning, storing, preparing, transporting and cleaning up food on a large scale.  Professionals have the experience, equipment, and employees to make sure delicious food is safely prepared, served in a timely manner and presented beautifully.  This allows all your family and friends to enjoy the event without having to replenish trays or worry about washing dishes.
  • Photography  |  Good wedding photos preserve the memory of your wedding day in a beautiful way.  They capture the look and feel of the day for you to revisit and share with others for years to come.  Professional photographers catch once-in-a-lifetime moments and all the details that make your day unique and worth remembering.
  • Floral Design  |   Flowers play a huge role in the overall aesthetic of your event.  Florists have access to a larger variety of quality blooms at lower prices than the average person.  Good florist are also equipped to properly handle and arrange flowers, a perishable material, so they will look their best for your event.
  • Day of Coordination  |  It takes a very organized and authoritative person to manage an event.  When emotions are high and so many elements are coming together, a professional event coordinator is able to control the chaos.  It is a lot to ask of a friend or family member to take on this task. And we never, ever recommend that the bride be the point person for the wedding day.

3 Things to D.I.Y.

Any wedding task may end up being a D.I.Y. task, but it really depends on what skills you, your family and your friends have.  Here are the top three things we think you could consider doing yourself.

  • Hair & Makeup  |  You may not need to hire a hair and makeup artist if you are a bride wanting a simple, natural look.  Everyone has family or a friend that is obsessed with hair and makeup and would love to help out.  Just make sure you do a trial run a few weeks before the wedding so that you look exactly how you want on your wedding day.
  • Music  |  For some people music at their wedding is a big deal, but for others, it isn’t.  If you fall into the latter category then maybe you could get away with not hiring a DJ.  There are plenty of places that rent sound equipment and tell you how to use it.  All you’ll need is a playlist and someone you trust to control the microphone and timing. Particularly for the ceremony.
  • Cake  |  Right now it is common for couples to have a small cake to cut then serve other desserts (cupcakes, sheet cake, cookies, etc.) to their guests.  I think it is a great idea to have a D.I.Y. cake if you want something simple and small.  Go with a professional though if you want a bigger, more elaborate tiered cake.

We love hearing from you!  Comment below with other D.I.Y. tips.  If you’re planning a wedding with the help of lots of family and friends, you may also find it helpful to read our post on Wedding Weekend Helpers.

*Feature image by Cassie Lopez Photography

Wedding Weekend Helpers

Bridal Party at Southern Farm Wedding, Photo by Christy Lee Photography
Bridal Party at Southern Farm Wedding, Photo by Christy Lee Photography
How to organize your wedding weekend helpers, Photo by Becky Willard Photography
How to organize your wedding weekend helpers

Tips for Making the Most of Wedding Helpers

Weddings are complicated. Emotions are high and there are just so many elements and people that have to come together to make the event a success. It is easy to get lost in the details, but always remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. If hiring everything done isn’t in the budget, don’t worry! Friends and family will be more than willing to step in to help if you are organized, considerate and appreciative.  Here are some pointers to help you make the most of your time with your wedding weekend helpers!

Get organized

  • Make descriptive to-do lists that give clear directions.  Be sure to include who, when, where and how to complete each task as well as a realistic estimate of the time it will take to finish.
  • Make sure someone is in charge.  Hire an event coordinator if possible, but if not find someone who is good at managing people and understands the vision you have for your wedding day.
  • Post your event timeline, to-do lists and the contact information for whoever is in charge in a public place so everyone can see who is doing what and what still needs to be done. We recommend getting everyone on Google Docs in advance and then having a command center at the venue.
  • Provide the proper resources and tools for your helpers to complete their task.  It is always helpful to include pictures or sketches so people can visualize what you’re asking of them.

Be considerate

  • Allow your volunteers to pick how to contribute to your wedding. It may be best to make suggestions based on their skills, but ultimately let them decide. AKA don’t give uncle Bobby the power lifter the job of tieing tiny ribbons on favor bags.
  • Let people know in advance what they’ll be doing and practical details about their task, like what to wear, what time to arrive and how long they’ll be working.
  • Respect your helpers’ time by not having too many or too few helpers. No one wants to just sit around because there isn’t enough work and no one wants to be stressed that they won’t be able to finish their job. But, for your sake error on the side of too many helpers.
  • Make it fun for your helpers.  Play music or have contests to keep the mood light and stress-free.
  • Have drinks and snacks available for your volunteers. They are probably coming early for setup and staying late for cleanup so keep them hydrated and happy NOT hangry!

Show appreciation

  • There are so many ways to show your appreciation for the work your helpers did.  You’re probably going to know the most appropriate and fitting option, but you could:
    • Mention your helpers in speech or on the program
    • Give them a special gift (doesn’t have to be anything big)
    • Reserve prominent seats for them at your reception
    • Host a dinner party after the event
  • Don’t forget to return the favor or pay it forward.  Be the first to volunteer to help when a friend or family member is planning an event or in need of help in any way.

Your goal should be for you and your helpers to stay as calm and stress-free as possible.  You will want to be able to relax and enjoy your day.  So, make the effort to be organized, considerate and appreciative before, during and after your event.

*Feature Photo by The King’s Daughter Photography

Wedding Cakes Worth Celebrating

See 20 Beautiful Weddings Cakes
See the Warrenwood Manor blog for 20 beautiful wedding cakes

Warning:  Viewing these beautiful wedding cakes may cause intense sweet treat cravings.  You’ve been warned, but I promise it will be worth it because these cakes are gorgeous.  Enjoy!

d Wedding Cake with ivory ranuculus
Three-tier textured ivory wedding cake with eucalyptus and roses
Three-tier ivory wedding cake with navy ribbon and bright florals
Textured three-tier ivory wedding cake with soft pink flowers
Rosette textured single-tier wedding cake with wood laser cut cake topper
Pale pink and ivory two-tier wedding cake with spray roses
Two-tier naked layered wedding cake with laser cut topper and berries
Two-tier naked layered wedding cake with farm fresh flowers
Two-tiered textured ivory wedding cake with pennant banner cake topper
Two-tier ivory cake with love birds on top
Single-tier textured wedding cake on wood slice with copper wire cake topper
Three-tier ivory wedding cake with light pink ribbon, laser cut cake topper and roses
Three-tier ivory wedding cake with pink spray roses and greenery on a gold cake stand
Three-tier ivory textured wedding cake with burgundy flowers on gold cake stand
Ivory two-tier textured wedding cake with laser cut cake topper and pink flowers
Ivory three-tier textured wedding cake with laser cut cake topper on sliver cake stand
Ivory naked layered wedding cake on wood slice
Ivory three-tier wedding cake with silver initial cake topper and silver cake stand
Blush and Ivory four-tier wedding cake with rosette texture on silver cake stand
Ivory three-tier wedding cake with gold topper and cake stand with lots of flowers
Rustic ivory two-tier wedding cake with flowers

The central Kentucky area has so many talented bakers.  Sweets by Cindy, Martine’s Pastries, Sweet LiLu’s, Tinker’s Cake Shop and Confused Confections Bakehouse have all provide cakes, cupcakes and/or desserts at Warrenwood Manor.  I know we have not given every baker proper credit for their above cake(s) so if you made one of these cakes please comment below with your information.  We want to make sure to support all the vendors that make our events possible.

Cake photos were taken by the following photographers (top to bottom, left to right):

Food for Thought: Working With a Caterer

Tips for Catering your Wedding Reception
Choosing the food for your wedding can be overwhelming, but these tips can help you and your caterer plan for a tasty success.

There are so many options when it comes to deciding what food you will serve at your wedding.  Selecting a caterer can be overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time and you’ll be fine.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your caterer as you make decisions about your wedding food.

What food will you serve?

You can serve whatever food you want at your wedding reception regardless of what tradition says. Remember it’s your day! Whether you want barbecue, tacos or southern classics, there is a caterer out there that can make it happen. Just keep in mind that you are not the only person eating so think about what your guests would like too.

How much food will you serve?

Consider the time of day, your budget, the size of your guest list and your food preferences as you and your caterer determine what and how much food will be served at your reception.  You can do appetizers (aka heavy hors d’oeuvres in the catering biz), a full meal via buffet or plated meal, desserts or whatever you can think of.  Designate on your invitations whether you will be having a cocktail, dessert of dinner reception and time your event so that people know what to expect in the way of food.  No one can enjoy your event if they’re hungry. Trust your caterer when it comes to determining exactly how much food should be served, after all, the idea is to hire a professional caterer you trust!

Kentucky Wedding Caterer- Antipasto buffet for Cocktail Hour
Catering by Mickster’s Mobile Food and photography by Cassie Lopez Photography

How will the food be served?

Your options for food service are:

  • A pre-selected plated meal served by waiters
  • A buffet-style setup with all the food in one spot
  • Groupings of related food items at stations dispersed throughout the event space
  • A family-style meal with food passed around the table
  • A cocktail-style reception with waiters circulating the space serving food
  • Food served from food trucks

Each of these come in at a different price point and should be discussed with your caterer.  Also, different venues lend themselves better to certain styles of food service so talk to your venue about what they suggest specifically for your event.  Consider the general atmosphere you want your event to have.  Opt to have your dinner served by waiters if you want your event to feel very formal, but go for a buffet or food stations if you would prefer your guest be up mingling.

Other than food, what else do I want my caterer to provide?

Your caterer can provide a lot more than just food.  Caterers can, for example, cut and serve your cake, replenish tables of food not provided by the caterer (ex. candy bar), clear tables, remove trash and provide bar service.  Many caterers can also provide linens, flatware, dinnerware, serving dishes, drink dispensers and so much more.  Additional fees apply of course and please don’t assume that those services are included.  The key is making sure the caterer knows in advance exactly what products and services you are wanting them to handle so they price their services appropriately and come prepared on the day of your event.  We suggest getting everything in writing on an itemized invoice instead of assuming anything about what your caterer will do the day of your event.

Kentucky wedding caterer for barn reception
Catering by Sassy Spoon Catering and photography by Honey Heart Photography.

What am I forgetting to talk to my caterer about?

  • Discuss in detail the schedule of events as they relate to your caterer.  What time will they arrive and depart?  When and how do you want food and beverages served?
  • Talk about the event setup since the caterer will have various table and linen requirements based on what’s being served.
  • Determine how each food item will be displayed.  A beautiful food display is not guaranteed. Don’t forget about the drinks and desserts.  It’s also helpful to have labels for your food items. Will the caterer provide those labels?
  • Be sure to discuss all venue rules and restrictions in order to prevent issues the day of your event.
  • Let your caterer know if you or any of your guests have food restrictions, food allergies and/or food sensitivities.
Kentucky Wedding Caterer for Barn Reception- Lemonade stand, naked cake and cupcakes
Photography by Daring Tales of Darling Bones

Enjoy the process of finding your caterer and deciding on the food you want at your wedding.  Caterers love food and usually are more than happy to get creative with you.  Know that caterers are very busy people doing a very difficult job.  I think it is the hardest job in the wedding industry.  So, respect them, their time and their opinions.  Respect and planning will get you a long way toward having delicious food and exceptional service at your wedding!

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Tips for Your Wedding Budget

One of the most challenging aspects of planning a wedding is setting the budget.  Money is a touchy subject and no one wants to think about the limitations that money can place on their decisions.  The good thing is that you aren’t alone; almost every bride and groom start out not knowing a thing about how much a bouquet costs or whether they can afford a three tiered cake.  Luckily, the wedding industry is notoriously good at helping you understand the cost of different options and customizing their services to fit your budgetary needs.  In this post, we’ll give you some ideas on how to set and manage your wedding budget.

Show Me the Money

Start by determining how much money you have to work with.  Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for the wedding while the groom’s family paid for the rehearsal dinner.  But, now-a-days there really isn’t a norm so you’ll want to to have a conversation with all those involved in paying for your wedding.  The numbers and dates need to be crystal clear so everyone can adhere to their commitment.  Be understanding and realistic with your expectations.  It should also be noted that just because you have money for your wedding, doesn’t mean you have to spend it all.

Set the Tone Early

Big fancy events cost a big fancy lot so be realistic about what style and tone you want from the start.  Think about formal versus casual, traditional versus modern and elaborate versus simple.  Make decisions based on your style and your budget, but recognize that all your decisions need to come together to create a cohesive look and feel.  For example, if you splurge on a big hotel ballroom for your reception you’ll have to fill that ballroom with lots of people, large centerpieces and expensive in-house catering.  One splurge can lead to another in order to fit the look of your large fancy venue.  So don’t forget to consider the bigger picture of your event when making decisions that set the tone and style for your event.

Choose Vendors Within Your Price Range

Different vendors operate at different price points.  Vendors listed on The Knot and Wedding Wire are given a $-$$$ designation based on their cost.  Using this tool will help you narrow down what vendors to contact for quotes.  Be sure to get quotes from several vendors for each service so you can recognize the one providing the best value and customer service for the price.  Ask about any additional fees not included in the quote such as delivery, installation and service fees.  Before you sign any contract have a clear understanding of how much money will be due when.

It can be tempting to enlist of the help of family and friends to save money on wedding services, but it really is best to hire experienced, professional vendors in order to prevent unexpected expenses.  It’s so nice that Aunt Suzie can do your flowers, but Aunt Suzie doesn’t have experience figuring out how many of each flower you will need or how much it will cost for example.  In the larger scheme of things, wilting flowers, a last minute trip to the florist or a table without a centerpiece isn’t a big deal, but it creates unnecessary stress on an already stressful day.  Professionals usually get it right and are on time and on budget without all the stress.

Spend Money Where It Counts

No matter what your budget is, you can make the most of it by spending money on the things you care most about and that will have the greatest impact on your guests.  Think about what is most import to you about your wedding day and prioritize spending on those things.  Your vendors should be able to help you make decisions about what is essential and what your options are for budget conscious upgrades. My advice to every couple: Sit down and decide what your top three priorities are and then budget accordingly. Not all wedding vendors agree with me on this approach, but I truly believe that if you budget based on what’s important to you, in the end, you’ll be happy you did.

Control the Guest Count

Your guest count is one of the major factors determining the overall cost of your wedding.  Remember that the cost for every guest includes food was well as drinks, cake, chair and table rentals, centerpieces, invitations, favors and other miscellaneous expenses.  Your guest count may also limit your venue options as larger venues cost more money.  So choose your guests wisely.  The hubs and I didn’t want to offend anyone on our wedding day, but we also wanted a small wedding, so we decided that unless we both knew the person really well, they weren’t invited. But, that approach may or may not work for you and your mamaw may end up inviting everyone from her church anyway. Just sayin’.

Budget for the Little Stuff

Big ticket items, like catering, often overshadow the numerous small purchases made for a wedding, but the small costs shouldn’t be forgotten in the budgeting process.  Favors, postage, bridal accessories, gifts, thank you notes and vendor gratuities are just of few of the small costs that should be budgeted for from the start. Basically, you really need to reign in the trips to Hobby Lobby and late night online shopping. I know, it’s hard!

Plan for the Unexpected

Weather happens, accidents happen, changes need to be made and sometimes we forget things.  All of these situations can cost you more money than you were anticipating. Allocate 5-10% of your budget to an emergency fund.  Touch this money only if you have to deal with something unexpected.

Track Your Spending

It’s so easy to loose track of what you’ve paid for, who’s paid for what and so on.  There is so much going on and so many people involved it can get overwhelming if you let it.  So put a system in place in the very beginning to prevent this.  I suggest creating a calendar (in GoogleDocs or ICal) and spreadsheet (in Excel or GoogleDocs) to track all payments and payment due dates.  If you use an expense tracking app, like Mint, try creating a custom category for all wedding expenses so they can be easily found.  Some couples even open a separate bank account to keep their wedding funds separate from their everyday transactions.  It may also be helpful to use one method of payment for all wedding related transactions.  A credit card will allow you to rack up some reward points for use on your honeymoon! *DISCLAIMER: Plan to pay your complete credit card balance off every single month! You do not want to start your marriage off in crazy debt, just trust me on this one.

Additional Budget Resources

Tips for Your Wedding Budget

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Outdoor Wedding: Planning is Key to Success

Outdoor Wedding Planning Tips

The first time I wrote about outdoor weddings the article was in the inaugural issue of Bridal Bliss Magazine. I’ve spoken on the same topic once before for couples at Simply Love Studio and will do so again this week. I’m sure there are many wedding planners and wedding venue owners that have more experience in the outdoor wedding department, but let’s be honest, I’m very familiar with outdoor weddings and can offer some pretty good advice if I do say so myself.

Chances are you’ve spent a bit of time on Pinterest, daydreaming about your big day. While Pinterest is a wonderful hub of ideas, it can create a false sense of security after looking at all the beautiful images of outdoor ceremonies and receptions. On Pinterest, and even within this blog, you’ll see beautiful images of outdoor weddings, but what you don’t see is what you need to plan for. And as a public service, I’m writing this to help anyone who may be planning an outdoor wedding, not just those who are having their wedding at Warrenwood Manor.

Consider starting the process by hiring a wedding planner or working with a complimentary planning service like Simply Love Studio. Next, find your venue. Some venues offer complete planning services and day of coordination, while others just turn the keys over. Be sure to determine what’s included with your rental package and what services you can add. Along those same lines, think about these four biggies as you select your venue:

Season

Your number one concern when planning an outdoor event should be the weather. Not your heels sinking in the grass, not your hair, not your whatever, I’m telling you, it’s the weather. Outdoor wedding season in Kentucky is considered to be April through October, mainly due to weather concerns. Confirm a venue specific inclement weather plan BEFORE booking the venue. Some venues offer free backup options, but you’ll need to make sure it accommodates your guest count. If you plan on reserving a tent, do so very early in the planning process and check with the venue concerning tent restrictions and fees. While planning for rain, be sure to consider the extreme summer heat too. For those outdoor, summer weddings in Kentucky try to set up in the shade, rent fans and make sure there’s plenty of water for everyone before, during and after the event.

Location

Not just a real estate adage, “location, location, location,” has wedding planning implications as well. While some venues offer breathtaking scenery, it’s important to consider the logistics of getting yourself, your vendors and your guests safely to and from the venue of your choice. Consider venues that will be easy for your guests to find. Or, maybe budget for shuttles so that your guests don’t have to worry about finding your venue down an unfamiliar, curvy road. Consider the venue’s proximity to local amenities and accommodations. I can’t think of a single wedding that didn’t require a quick trip to Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart.  Thankfully, Warrenwood is within three miles of multiple hotels, Hobby Lobby AND Wal-Mart…what more could a bride possibly need? Oh, Liquor Barn, yes, it’s within three miles as well.

Accessibility and Comfort

While your big day is all about you and what you want, it’s still the right thing to do to consider your guests and their needs on your wedding day. There are countless stunning backdrops for pictures in Kentucky, but sometimes those places really lack when it comes to the logistics necessary for a successful event. We’ve talked about how you want to accommodate your guests in inclement weather, but it’s also important to think about boring things like electric, running water, restrooms, lighting, handicap accessibility and the list goes on and on! Don’t get discouraged though. Almost all obstacles associated with barn and outdoor venues can be easily overcome, but please remember that doing so may come at a price.

Seating for outdoor weddings is something that you should take into consideration because certain chairs work better in grass than others. You’ll want to select chairs that down have thin legs so that they don’t sink in the grass. Oh and speaking of grass, we spray for mosquitos every 22 days at Warrenwood. I’ve never seen a good lookin’ bug bite!

Over 43% of U.S. couples have an outdoor wedding ceremony! That’s a lot of outdoor weddings! Special request for you outdoor wedding planning people: please make sure guests can actually hear what’s being said at your ceremony! Talk with your DJ about how to best amplify the ceremony. I recommend that at the very least the officiant has a mic. And here’s another little tip for you. Talk to your DJ and officiant about trying to add a mic either in the binder or iPad the officiant is holding in order to pick up on your voices.

Parking

Parking…sounds so simple, right? Unfortunately, there are many things to consider when it comes to parking for your outdoor wedding! Ample parking is not uncommon with primarily outdoor venues (farm and barn venues in particular). But, what if it rains for two days straight before your wedding and your parking was planned for a field that’s now better suited as a mud-wrestling pit? What about lighting for people to be able to find their vehicles after the reception? Is there enough parking based on your guest count? Is there parking within close proximity of the event or do you need to consider shuttles? Oh and don’t forget about all those fun people who were hanging out at your open bar all night. How will they get home?  Are they allowed to leave their vehicle overnight? So many questions! Warrenwood Manor provides a gravel parking lot that is lit up like the sun for you, your guests and vendors. We also encourage people to leave vehicles overnight if necessary. It’s my understanding that not all venues operate this way so just be sure to ask and plan accordingly.

Now, calm down, I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be just fine. Do not stress. Instead, plan.

Tips for your outdoor wedding

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