Q. When to should we invite our wedding party members? A. Be sure to allow plenty of time to invite your wedding party members to take part in your day. This will allow them time to save for wedding related expenses and to free up their schedules for wedding related activities. We recommend that you invite your wedding party 8-10 months before the big day. For destination weddings, ask as soon as venue is booked….
Q. When to should we invite our wedding party members?
A. Be sure to allow plenty of time to invite your wedding party members to take part in your day. This will allow them time to save for wedding related expenses and to free up their schedules for wedding related activities.
We recommend that you invite your wedding party 8-10 months before the big day. For destination weddings, ask as soon as venue is booked. This will allow time for wedding party members to block their schedule, save and secure any documents if needed, such as passports.
You will also need to ensure you know how many members you can afford to invite before extending an invitation as well. While wedding party covers own expenses, such as attire and travel if coming from out of town, the couple will provide flowers, transportation to and from reception and ceremony, and gifts. Be sure to determine your wedding party budget before extending invitations.
While it’s important to ask in a timely manner, make sure to only pop the question when confident in your wedding party member selections. Visit our blog post, How To Choose Your Wedding Party, for more on selecting wedding party members!
Photography: Chard Photography
The length of your engagement, or the time from engagement to the big day, can affect your overall planning experience and success. Learn how to manage your budget, stress level and even crossing items off the list by determining the best planning length for you!
Take our quiz to see if you should have a short, average or long engagement length.
1.) When it comes to support planning my wedding:
A. I have lots of support-between me, my fiance and lots of family/friends
B. I have a little support between me, my fiance and a handful of others
C. I have little support-just me, my fiance and 1-2 others
2.) When making wedding related decisions:
A. I’m finding it difficult to sticking to decisions and frequently change my mind
B. On average, I have 1-3 options to choose from before committing to a decision
C. I have no/little problems with making a wedding related decision
3.) When finding financial resources for my wedding:
A. We are good to go and are not concerned with finding the financial resources for our wedding
B. We will need a little time to save towards wedding related expenses
C. We will need lots of time to save towards wedding related expenses and are not sure how we will pay for our day
4.) My wedding planning stress level:
A. I am not at all stressed at the wedding related to do items to cross off the list and have lots of time to plan
B. With careful planning, I can manage wedding the wedding related to do items off my list and schedule time to plan
C. I am incredibly overwhelmed with the wedding tasks to cross off the list and have limited time to plan
5.) In terms of wedding guests:
A. We prefer a small, intimate wedding
B. We would like a traditional, average sized wedding
C. We expect to have a large wedding
6.) In terms of out of town guests:
A. We plan to have a small amount of out of town guests traveling to our day, the majority of guests will not have to travel
B. We plan to have a handful of out of town guests that will travel to our day
C. We plan to have lots of out of town guests traveling to our day
If You Answered Mainly A:
Have a short engagement length!
Short engagement lengths are generally 6-8 months in length from engagement to the wedding day.
- You have lots of support planning and will have enough hands on deck to take on the to do tasks required to bring your day to life in a short time.
- You could benefit from having less time to change your mind on wedding related decisions. If you find that you have struggling to stick to decisions and are frequently changing your mind, having a short engagement means having to make decisions fast to avoid wasting time.
- You have the financial resources available and will not have to worry about finding the resources for vendor deposits or payments early in your planning journey.
- You have plenty of time to plan your wedding which will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with the time required to plan a wedding in a short time frame.
- You are more likely to have a small, intimate wedding as you are less likely to add last minute guests due to the short planning length.
- Your out of town guests will need time to prepare to travel to your day and may not be able to make necessary accommodations within a short time. Consider only moving forward with a short engagement length if it will not inconvenience a large number of guests.
If You Answered Mainly B:
Have an average engagement length!
Average engagement lengths are typically 12-18 months between the engagement and wedding day.
- Since you have some support planning, you can cross wedding related tasks off the list within a timely manner without drastically increasing your stress level
- You are able to narrow down your top wedding related decisions, such as saying yes to the dress, within the suggested time to cross off the list.
- You are capable of having some of the financial resources for wedding related expenses during the planning period opposed to needing lots of time to save.
- You are able to remain on task with minimal stress, even with approaching and frequent deadlines.
- Your wedding will have an average guest count size of under 150 guests.
- You will have a handful of out of town guests that will appreciate having the standard 6-8 month save the date time-frame required to prepare for your wedding day.
If You Answered Mainly C:
Have a long engagement length!
Long engagement lengths are typically 18-months to 2 years or more between the engagement and wedding day.
- You have little assistance planning and will need lots of time to take on wedding related tasks. Stretching your planning journey will allow time to balance wedding planning with personal obligations without feeling as overwhelmed.
- You do not have difficulty staying true to your original vision, which will allow you to stay on course during a long planning length.
- You will need lots of time to save the money needed for vendor deposits, payments and wedding related needs. Stretching out the engagement will mean more time to save money for your wedding day.
- You are overwhelmed with the thought of planning your wedding and not sure how you will squeeze into your schedule. Stretching out your engagement length will allow more time to cross each task off the list, even with approaching and frequent deadlines.
- Your wedding will have a large guest count size of over 150 guests. More guests will require more invitations, guest RSVP’s and even a larger seating chart to create. A longer engagement length will allow more time to manage guest related details.
- If you have a large number of out of town guests, a longer engagement length will give them plenty of time to arrange their schedule and travel needs.
Photography: CMP Denver
The amount of guests that you invite to celebrate your day will impact your budget more than any other wedding category. Whether you plan to have an intimate celebration with your nearest and dearest family and friends or a large celebration, every single guest will come at a price. When you break down your wedding day expenses, consider that almost 50% of your budget will go towards guest related expenses.
This includes your actual venue spaces (to host your guests), the food and beverage (to feed your guests), and even the amount of decor, stationary, favors and seating you will need (which will increase based on the number of guests). We cannot stress enough that the more guests = the more wedding expenses. On the other hand, the smaller the guest count = the more you can ultimately control the amount of expenses needed for the day.
When it comes to creating your guest count, consider these 2 essential rules:
- Rule #1: Avoid the temptation to invite guests out of guilt, or you are not 100% certain you can afford.
Don’t be surprised if your first babysitter, first college roommate you vaguely remember or even social media friend you may or may not have met in real life inquires on an invitation for your big day. Weddings are exciting and people LOVE to attend. Not setting clear rules on who to invite to your wedding can quickly lead to going well over budget. Prevent this from happening by spending time considering first, how many guests you can afford to invite, then who you can’t imagine not having for your big day. Anyone else should be considered only after factoring in what your budget will allow for your primary guests that you can’t imagine not having.
- Rule #2: Be careful when it comes to splitting your guest count with family.
While you and your fiancé may have your guest count well under your goal number, you may find that your parents and even close family have their own dream guest list to invite to the big day. The general formula is for the bride and groom to take 50% of the guest count, leaving the remaining 50% to be split between both sets of parents. To avoid going over, calculate an actual number this should amount to so that both sets know exactly how many guests they are allowed to remain within budget. If siblings or other family have their own invites they would like to include, take from the percent allocated by parents.
Be sure to check out our post on managing your guest list like a pro for more on keeping your guest list under control!
We get asked all the time how we select rings for our uber popular feature Ring Of The Day. Follow these simple 8 steps as a checklist when taking your captures to increase your chances of getting selected!!
1. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR IMAGE IS CLEAR:
Blurry pictures will not show off your gorgeous ring in its best light. Be sure to take your picture with a steady hand and clean camera lens. Ensure that your camera is in focus so that your ring details are crystal clear.
2. GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL:
Make sure that your ring is front and center. Avoid taking a capture where your hand is so far off in the distance that the actual ring details are difficult to see.
3. SHOW OFF YOUR MANI:
Manicured nails, whether polished or unpolished, always add a special touch to your ring selfie. Be sure that polish is fresh and unpolished nails are neat.
4. GRAB A PROP OR FIND AN EYE CATCHING BACKDROP:
Fun props, such as mugs, signs or even your wedding invitation, are great ways to add a simple backdrop to your ring capture. Step outside and find colorful backdrops such as gardens or even local landmarks. Be sure that any props are either in focus equal to your ring or a blurred backdrop to your in focus ring. The backdrop should support your ring selfie, not replace it.
5. NATURAL LIGHTING IS YOUR FRIEND:
Natural lighting is the best tool to capture perfectly clear ring captures. Attempt to take your capture outdoors where the natural light will give amazing results. If taking your capture indoors, step close to a window during daylight opposed to relying on indoor lighting.
6. TURN OFF THE FLASH:
Flash unfortunately can actually take from the details of your ring, hand and overall image. If you have to rely on flash, be sure that the details of your ring are still visible.
7. MAKE A FIST IF NEEDED:
We’ve had lots of brides share they would love to share their ring but are not comfortable sharing their hand. Try subtly hiding your hand by making a fist so that fingers are not extended.
8. KEEP RING ON YOUR HAND:
While we love creative images of just the ring, we only feature rings that are either on your ring finger or held by the hand. Our readers love to see how rings look on the ring finger for future inspiration. Sharing a variety of hand shapes and sizes is the best way to do so.
To submit your ring, you can either tag us under #ettdringoftheday on Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photography: Sarah Ainsworth
For most weddings, there’s an average of 10 wedding vendors that will play a huge role in bringing the day to life. From the wedding photographer, transportation and even hair stylist, each wedding vendor plays a crucial role the wedding day. While it’s important to book all vendors in a timely manner, there is one vendor that will have the most impact on your overall day.
Which wedding vendor do you think has the most impact on your overall day?
A.) The Photographer
B.) The Officiant
C.) The Venue Space
D.) The Wedding Planner
If you answered C, The Venue Space, you are correct!
While the photographer provides the one lasting memory from the day, the officiant will officiate the day and the wedding planner will help find vendors that work within your budget and even keep you on task, the venue space has the most impact on your day overall.
- Your Venue Space Is The Largest Wedding Related Expense:
On average, venue related expenses account for 48-50% of the overall wedding budget. Your venue space includes rental of the venue facility, food, bar and even staff. Once your venue space is booked, you will have a better understanding of your remaining budget for additional wedding expenses.
- Your Venue Space Determines Your Wedding Date:
Your venue space will determine your actual wedding date. While you may hope to host your wedding on a particular date, you may find there are no venue spaces within your budget or needs for your preferred wedding date. Once you lock in your venue space, you can move on to book additional vendors as they will have a confirmed date that your day will be held.
Avoid sending save the date invites or booking vendors until your day is set. Consider if you hope to have a summer wedding yet find that prices are significantly less in November. If you’ve already sent save the dates, you will have to update guests of the date change. If you’ve already booked vendors, you will have to confirm that they have your new date available and there are no penalties to change the date.
- Your Venue Space Determines Your Guest Count Size:
Avoid committing to your guest list until your venue space is booked. For instance, you may have a guest list of 200 guests but find that venue spaces to hold your desired guest number places you well out of budget.
- Your Venue Space Determines Your Wedding Style:
Hold off on setting your wedding decor style until your venue space is booked. You may envision small, minimal centerpieces prior to booking your venue only to find that they would be underwhelming in your reception space. Wait until your venue is booked to determine the best style for your wedding decor and even attire. For instance, you may realize that soft hues for your bridesmaids will blend seamlessly with your ceremony venue space or that bold, jewel tones are a better choice.
- Your Venue Space Determines Your Wedding Needs:
Wait to invest in wedding needs, such as decor, until your venue space is booked. You may find that amenities, such as draping and lighting, are included in your venue space or even various decor, such as candelabras, for centerpiece arrangements are included.
Photography: Justin Wright
During our post Top 8 Things Wedding Guests Complain About, we revealed top guest complaints ranging from bland food to underwhelming entertainment. When it comes to top complaints of planning brides, we are confident that uninvited guests and having to explain no invite will be extended would rank high on the list of complaints brides-to-be face.
Determining the types of guests that will receive an invitation to your big day is a huge challenge. While you may be certain of rules on friends and family, it may be more challenging to consider others, such as coworkers.
One great rule of thumb in terms of inviting coworkers is “If your work situation changed, would you still keep in touch?”
While inviting coworkers to your wedding is a thoughtful gesture, it also comes with a price. Unless you are confident that you would remain in close touch with your coworkers if there were any changes of employment, we suggest only inviting coworkers you have an outside of work relationship with.
If you work in a small office or department of 10-12 or less employees, it is best to have an all or nothing invite rule to avoid excluding anyone. This avoids excluding coworkers, such as leaving 1-2 out yet inviting everyone else. If you work in a larger office or department, you can invite only those that you have an outside work relationship with. For instance, if you work in a department of 30, it is fine to only extend an invitation to the 6-7 coworkers that you have an out of work relationship with. If coworkers are invited, it is also recommended to extend an invitation to your direct manager or supervisor.
If Unable To Extend A Wedding Invitation:
If faced with the challenge of informing a coworker that you are unable to extend a wedding invitation, try the following:
“Unfortunately we will be unable to extend an invitation due to (select the best option: budget limitations, exceeding our guest list, venue space capacity). Not being able to invite everyone that we would love to have has been incredibly challenging for us and we hope that you understand.”
Photography: K & K Photography
When it comes to tough conversations, we must say that during our Wediquette Wednesday feature, many planning brides have express that their toughest task has been working with overbearing parents while planning their dream day.
Parents often have a great deal of excitement in the planning process, from details they would love to see to guests they have on their list to invite. This can be challenging for couples that have ideas for their day that differ from their parents. For example, consider if the parents would like a large black tie wedding held in a banquet hall while the couple would like an intimate, relaxed and informal beach wedding.
Check out our 4 steps to follow to handle overbearing parents:
Have An Honest Conversation:
Attempt to gently explain your vision for the day, delicately expressing that while you appreciate their input, the direction you picture for the day will not seamlessly translate with their vision.
Give Up Decisions:
When an honest conversation doesn’t work, try giving up decisions that you have to make to your parents. Hand over tasks that you are not passionate about, such as selecting table settings or transportation to ensure that your parents are involved, yet on exactly where you prefer.
- Keep them busy:
Selecting specific decisions focuses on a few tasks at a time, opposed to attempting to inject input on every wedding decision. Give up a few tasks for parents to make the final decision on to keep them busy.
- Makes their opinion matter:
Telling your parents “no” over every wedding decision may make them feel that you are not taking their ideas to heart. Allowing them to make the final decision on specific tasks ensures that their opinion is valued and incorporated into the day.
Hold Onto What Matters Most:
If parents are still injecting their opinion in every area of the wedding, even after you attempt to assign specific tasks, express decisions that you would like to reserve the final say on. Express that you have specific decisions that are close to your heart and you can’t imagine having any other way. Ask that they help you select from your top options, or simply leave the decision process to you. Consider selecting 1-3 areas that you would like to remain the deciding factor on and that are most important to you. Consider using your Top 3 Must Haves as 3 decisions you would like to make the yay or nay on. For instance, if your top 3 must haves were the gown, photographer and decor, mention to parents that you would like to infuse your vision into these areas and make the final decision. This allows you to keep control of what matters most while still keeping parents involved.
Pay For The Day:
If the prior 3 steps don’t work, the last option would be to fully remove control by paying for the day. Hosts of the day traditionally are obligated to make decisions. For instance, if parents are contributing, they are obligated to inject their opinion and wants for the day. If the couple fully hosts their day, or funds their wedding expenses, they are then fully responsible for all wedding related decisions. This option fully removes anyone but the couple in making decisions for the day. If fully funding the day is not possible, consider funding specific areas that matter most. For instance, if your Mom expresses she wants to see you in a princess style gown yet you imagine a glamorous mermaid style gown, consider purchasing your gown to ensure that the final decision is yours to make.
Before taking financial contributions from family, spend time discussing expectations in terms of making decisions for the day. Express your vision to determine if they are on board or have a completely opposite vision for the day. If opinions differ, ask if they are open to the couple making the final decision of if they expect to also have a say. Based on your comfort level, work to create an understanding to ensure you are not in the uncomfortable position of incorporating decisions that you are not comfortable with.
Photography: Kesh Lambert
Recall that during our Sound Like A Pro: Wedding Terms You Need To Know post, we defined peak and off peak seasons as wedding months that are most in demand and wedding months least in demand.
Use this cheat sheet guide to understand peak season dates like a pro!
Off-Peak Season Weddings:
Off-peak seasons generally fall within the months of December, January, February and March. During these months, wedding rates may be available at discounted rates.
Traditionally winter months come with unfavorable weather conditions that can pose challenges to wedding plans. Winter weddings can come with unseasonably colder weather, even posing challenges for guests to travel to the day, and may also remove the possibility of hosting an outdoor wedding. As a result, many couples opt to have their day once the winter months pass, resulting in less booked weddings during off season months. Vendors are likely to discount their rates as an incentive for couples to book their day, resulting in savings for the couple for selecting to have an off season wedding.
While the months of December, January and February fall within off-peak months, be aware that weddings hosted on popular holidays such as Christmas, New Years Eve and Valentines day may boast the highest rates of the year.
Off-season dates may not only save the bride and groom money, but also guests. Guests traveling during off peak months, such as February, may find costs for flights are more affordable than during summer months, such as July. Consider the average cost for flights and lodging based on your location when considering your wedding dates. Keep in mind that weddings set around the holidays may see a spike in prices for not only wedding related expenses, but also guests travel and lodging.
Peak Season Weddings:
Peak season months are the most in demand months of the year, and often command the highest rates. For most locations, peak season months are generally June, July, August, September and October.
In most locations, peak season months boast ideal weather conditions, making them desirable dates to host a wedding. Due to the popularity of dates, vendors often see a spike in bookings. Rates may be locked in and non-negotiable as vendors may not find difficulty in filling up their calendar. The increase in bookings can also result in couples finding less dates available during peak season months as other couples are selecting the same dates for their big day. This means that if you hope to host on a peak season, you will need to book your vendors right away.
Peak season months may come at a discounted rate in certain locations, such as the south. Rates may actually drop due to extreme, sticky heat during summer months of July and August.
Consider the average costs for travel and lodging during peak season months. Rates for airfare and hotels may be priced higher during peak season months, especially if your city is a popular destination for summer vacations.
Consider your guests schedules and wedding restrictions. For instance, if you plan to have an adults only wedding, consider guests with kids will have to arrange childcare .
Photography: Lin and Jirsa
When considering your wedding date, consider the following pros and cons for the best day of the week to host your day to save!
Some vendors offer discounted rates to host a Monday wedding as it is a weekday.
- Possibly no change in vendor rates:
Discounted rates are not always granted on Monday’s as some vendors use the day to recover from busy wedding weekend schedules.
- Vendor choices at discounted rates:
Vendors that are booked on popular dates, such as Saturday, may have clear schedules for weekdays, such as Tuesday. Vendors that only work with weddings may offer lower rates during the week as an incentive to fill up their calendar with more than just weekend dates. Hotels and flights may also be available at discounted rates.
- Vendors may have non-wedding events scheduled:
Vendors that book non-wedding events may have filled calendars during the week. For instance, during the week hotels may host business conferences, hair stylists may work in a salon and photographers may shoot family portraits.
- Scheduling conflicts:
Hosting a wedding on a weekday, such as Tuesday, may pose scheduling conflicts for guests. Weekday weddings may require guests traveling from out of town to take time off from work. If children are taking part of the wedding, parents may have to keep kids out of school to prepare for the wedding. Guests that work evenings may have to take time off to get ready for the wedding and even beat rush hour commutes.
If hosting during the week, consider if the time of day and location may cause conflict for guests. If there are special attire requests, such as formal attire, keep in mind this may pose a challenge for guests to easily change into wedding attire after work.
- Vendor Discounts and Availability:
Wednesday weddings may come at a discounted rate as they are weekdays. Vendors may have additional dates on the calendar that are not available on weekends. Hotels and flights may also be available at discounted rates.
- Scheduling Conflicts:
Hosting on a Wednesday may also pose scheduling conflicts for guests. Guests traveling from out of town may have to take off Tuesday to fly in for the day and fly out Thursday, meaning they would need to take 3 days from work. Be sure to consider your out of town guests when hosting mid week.
- Convenient For Destination Weddings:
Weddings hosted on Thursdays allow guests attending destination weddings an opportunity to have an extended weekend. Guests can enjoy a few days at the destination before heading home without having to use time from work if they have traditional Monday-Friday work hours.
- Discounted Rates:
Thursday’s are often the last weekday that offers discounted rates for vendors, hotels and even flights.
- Scheduling Conflicts:
Thursdays can also pose potential scheduling conflicts for guests traveling in for the day, as they would potentially have to fly in on Wednesday. Flying out on Friday, Saturday or even Sunday may pose higher weekend rates. Hotel booking rates may also reflect higher rates as their stay may extend into the weekend.
- Extended Weekend For Guests:
Guests traveling in for your wedding can enjoy the weekend in the city of the wedding, allowing for an extended vacation. This is most ideal for destination weddings where guests can enjoy the full weekend.
- The Couple Can Spend More Time With Guests:
Hosting on a Friday allows the couple to spend the full weekend with guests. This is incredibly beneficial when a large number of guests are traveling in for the day.
- Potential Weekend Rates:
Friday weddings are not always priced at lower rates than Monday-Thursday weekdays. The reason is that many vendors utilize Fridays to prepare for weekend weddings.
- Higher Airfare and Lodging Expenses:
Guests traveling in for your wedding may experience pricey weekend airfare rates if they have to depart on Saturday or Sunday. Prices can be even higher if your wedding location is in the midst of peak season.
- Convenient For Guests:
Saturday’s are typically the most convenient day of the week for guests. Guests with traditional work schedules do not have to take time from work to attend your day. For instance, guests traveling in from out of town for your day can arrive Friday after work or even Saturday morning and depart on Sunday.
- Incredibly Popular:
Saturday is the most popular day of the week to host a wedding and traditionally the most convenient day of the week for guests. Due to it’s popularity, Saturday’s are also the most expensive day of the week to host your day. This means that venue’s and vendors may be less likely to lower their rates as Saturday’s are generally not difficult to book.
- Potentially Lower Rates:
Sunday weddings have become a popular alternative to Saturday weddings. Prices are often lower than Saturday’s, allowing for a more budget friendly rate to host a weekend wedding. Departing flights for guests leaving on Monday may also be less for guests traveling in for your day as well.
- Caution Over Time Of Wedding:
Late weddings may be a challenge for guests that intend to go to work the next day or that have family obligations. You risk guests heading out early to prepare for the next day opposed to staying until the end. Be mindful of the time that your day will end to ensure guests are likely to stay the full duration of your wedding.
When considering the best time of the week to host your day:
- Research average prices for your preferred wedding date before locking it in:
Before setting your wedding date, research the average cost for flights, lodging, and vendors to determine if your wedding day will work for not only your price point but guests. Take a glance at your guest list and search the average price of flights from destinations of guests to gauge if there are lower rates during specific times of the year or days of the week. Use tools such as Google Flights that allow an overview of average flight rates throughout the year.
Photography: London Light Photography
“When should I start wedding planning?”
We get asked this question all the time and stand by the answer that it is NEVER too soon to start planning once you get engaged. We recently shared why you should avoid procrastinating for the big day. Now it’s time to take on the advantages of getting a head start in planning.
Check out 2 huge benefits below:
To Save Money:
It’s never too soon to start saving money towards wedding related expenses. Many of our followers expressed that they began saving money for their wedding prior to their engagement because they knew that it was coming. On average, expect to set aside at least 20% of your income towards wedding expenses.
A huge benefit of saving money for your wedding immediately after your engagement is that you will have money ready for vendor deposits that are required to book. Remember that wedding-related expenses will be required throughout your journey, not at the end. The sooner you start saving, the more you have set aside for deposits to book vendors. Resources will be required at the start of your journey to book key vendors, such as your venue space and photographer. Start saving immediately after your engagement to ensure you have money available to secure your vendors with deposits.
For Vendor Availability:
It’s not uncommon for top vendors calendars to have dates on the books months, even a year or more in advance. Some vendors also only take a specific number of bookings a year. For instance, your dream photographer may only take 7 weddings a year. Begin reaching out to vendors immediately after you get engaged to get a feel for available calendar dates for potential vendors.