Do I need a wedding consultant?

Remember “Fraunk” or was it “Frank” in Steve Martin’s “Father of the Bride”? He was a little extravagant, but made the wedding and coordination come off perfect (with exception of the minor parking problem, the cheaper chicken and a few other details).

Do you need a consultant for your wedding? Many brides are considering consultants to help plan the perfect wedding, make arrangements, deal with all the extensive details, relieve the stresses, and make suggestions. Depending on how much time, energy and money have and can devote, a consultant may be, or may not be what you need.

Here are some things a consultant can do for you:

A consultant will help you plan and carry out your wedding goals, offer suggestions, and devise a plan to reach the goal.

Many consultants that have worked in an area a long time know the right people, price ranges, and how to get what you want. They may network with providers and be better and able to get you special discounts.

They are the “director” of the wedding and coordinate all the last minute details to make them go-off without a hitch.

Granted, a wedding consultant costs money, they may be able to save more in time spent for you to do all the same tasks. A consultant may have cost-cutting ideas, should work within your budget, and may know the people and services that cost less.

Where do you find a consultant?

Ask wedding professionals, dress shops, family, friends, the yellow pages and recent brides. Talk with the consultant and get references, ask to see any photos or videos of weddings they worked on. Get a resume. Find out what wedding professionals they have worked with and contact those professionals. If they are a good, the references will let you know.

I Do Again – Remarrying

Second marriages are becoming more common in today’s society. On the average a women will remarry within four years of her divorce. If you are remarrying again because of a divorce or you are widowed, here’s what you may need to know.

Announcement of your engagement should be to your children first. This may be a traumatic experience for children, and they may have a lot of questions or need extra time understanding things. Give them some time for the adjustment. You will also want to inform your ex-spouse, if you are not on friendly terms, write them a note.

If you have been recently divorced or widowed, it is customary to announce your marriage after the wedding has taken place. If some time has elapsed since the divorce, it is okay to place the announcement in the paper before the ceremony.

Etiquette allows for your parents to announce the marriage or for you and your fiancé to announce it.

Having a private ceremony is okay. If you wish to have a large reception, you will want to send out formal reception cards to guests. Even though it may be your second marriage, guests may wish to give gifts. Make sure to note in your reception cards if you wish guests not to give a gift.

An example: “We ask you share our friendship and request no gifts.”

If you wish for gifts, make sure you register to make gift giving easier.

Your wedding attire can be lavish or simple. Informal gowns (no train) are more reserved for second time marriages. The train and veil traditionally represent virginity and are the prerogative of first-time brides. White is the traditional color of all weddings, and is just as appropriate for a second time bride.

The ceremony itself can be as big or smaller than your first wedding. Use your knowledge from your first wedding to plan a more unique and personal ceremony, or simple one as to both of your tastes and style.

If you can, incorporate roles for your children into the wedding. Depending on their ages, they can be bridesmaids, ushers, ring-bearer, and flower girl. They can even fill the role of your maid/matron of honor or best man.

Marrying at 30, 40, and beyond

Many brides and grooms today are launching a career before they commit to marriage. It is not uncommon for a bride to wait until her thirties or forties to tie the knot. This sometimes brings questions about her wedding. Here are just a few adjustments you might consider:

The wedding budget may be partially or fully contributed by the bride and groom. You and your groom may wish to take on full responsibility if you are financially sound. Your parents can still be listed as the hosts, or you may wish to do the announcing yourself.

You might request just your friends and guests attend, and ask for no gifts if you already have a home established. You may also consider registering for finer lines such as china and silver. Books, sporting goods, furniture and electronics are all registry items. If you would rather receive money, be discreet. Have close friends and family spread the word orally. It is incorrect to request monetary gifts in an invitation.

Wedding attire can be very formal or understated. Some brides opt for a formal lavish affair and some choose a small informal wedding. It’s up to you.

Preparing your wedding budget

After deciding on a wedding style, and who will pay for what, you need to work on a budget that everyone agrees on.

You will need to collect some information from area service providers via the telephone on estimated costs. Then it is suggested to add 20% to the cost for over-run or unexpected charges.

Overspending and overpaying are two areas you need to keep under control in any wedding. Here are a few things to watch for.

Research: get recommendations, compare and price check all service providers, sites, and apparel stores. What you will learn is that all service providers and stores offer different pricing, levels of service and quality. You will also learn the going rate in your area, which can be helpful in bartering a better deal or finding out who offers the best value for your money.

Shopping for your apparel and accessories can be just the same. Compare prices. One dress shop can be priced higher, but the price may include alterations, storage bag and steaming. Where as the lesser-priced store may add this cost on. Shop online, it can save you time and money.

Use your phone and the yellow pages, the web, and recommendations from other brides and service providers. Ask the same questions to each of the vendors so you are comparing them all evenly, apples to apples.

Once you find your photographer, ask her or him for recommendations. If your photographer has been in your area a number of years, they have worked with a lot of service providers. A wedding photographer gets to work with every aspect of your wedding and see the end result of many service providers’ work. They may be able to recommend the best people in the area.

Visit Them

Make appointments with the shops/service providers you are more interested in before you visit. This will help insure you will get better service if they know you are coming, many small shops and service providers run with small staffs.

If you will be renting items from them, ask to see the equipment. Is the equipment clean, workable and untarnished? Seeing the items will give you some insight as to how well the company is run. If staff and equipment is disorganized, broken and incomplete then you may want to reconsider them as a potential provider.

If the provider seems like the one you want and the date is open, ask for some literature and sample of their contract, policies and prices to review. Do not get pressured into signing something that you can’t get out of, or that ties you to something you do not want or is may be overpriced.

In the comfort of your home, review the information and pricing. Decide on what you want, contact the providers with any questions, and sign the contracts when you are ready. Keep in mind, some providers only handle one wedding at a time, so do not take too long or you might be disappointed.

Possible money savings:

Before you sign any contract or make a purchase, ask the retailer or service provider about quantity discounts, specials or sale prices. The salesperson may have overlooked a sale price or quantity discount. Some service providers may add in a couple “extras” at no cost.

The closer your work with your provider and the more you purchase everything from one source, the more likely they will work extra hard for you.

Who pays for What?

This question has become a hot topic among brides, grooms, and their families. It can often create unnecessary feuds and tension. A wedding is a public announcement and celebration, and is not meant to impose financial strain on you or your family.

Traditionally, the bride and her family paid for most everything associated in a wedding. Today, relationships and roles of the traditional marriage have changed, as a result who pays for what is not set in stone and can be taken care of by a number of people.

Family incomes, long distance weddings, divorced parents, second marriages, all these come into play. You need to discuss with everyone involved. That means bride, groom, and both sets of parent’s need to talk about the wedding style, plans, budget, and who is paying for what.

Some parents will want to finance the entire wedding, and some will give the bride and groom a set amount.

In today’s world, more and more brides and grooms opt to pay for the entire wedding themselves. Couples who choose to live together before they “tie the knot” often pay for more wedding expenses them selves. Those marrying for a second time or more usually pay for the wedding themselves. If parents are living on a fixed income and do not have the means to help, the bride and groom may fund the wedding.

Diplomatically, ask each side of your families if they will be able to help with the cost of the wedding. Tell them your plans and ask if them if there is anything special they would like during the ceremony or reception. They may tell you of a traditional family ceremony you may want to include.

Have your parents give you a good idea on the number of guests that they would like to invite. Keep in mind, your wedding is a big social event for parents!

Splitting the expenses might also be an option. A three or more way split with the bride’s family, groom’s family, and you may be a solution. All three parties would then contribute funds towards the total wedding budget or each party can pay for a percentage depending on guests.

Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for:

• Wedding dress, veil, accessories
• Invitations, announcements, enclosures, personal stationary
• Trousseau and lingerie
• Bouquet/corsages for attendants
• Flowers for ceremony and reception site
• Rental fee for church or chapel
• Engagement and wedding photography
• Fees for the sexton, organist, and soloist
• Rental fees for aisle carpet and other equipment
• Transportation for all bridal party to the ceremony and reception sites
• The Complete reception: Food, beverage, music, decorations, gratuities and other services
• Groom’s ring
• Wedding gift for the groom
• Gift’s for bride’s attendants
• Hotel lodging for attendants and out of town friends
• Gratuities to police directing traffic and/or parking
• Bride’s luncheon
• Rehearsal dinner (optional)
• Corsages for mothers, grandparents, special guests

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for:

• Bride’s engagement and wedding ring
• Marriage license
• Ceremony officials fee
• Bride’s flowers (bouquet and going away flowers)
• Wedding gift for bride
• Gifts for best man, grooms men, ushers
• Hotel lodging for out-of-town grooms men/ushers
• Wedding attire (grooms)
• Rehearsal dinner (optional)
• Honeymoon
• Blood tests (if required)
• Gloves, ties, ascots for men in wedding party

Traditionally attendants pay for:

• Personal wedding attire (except flowers)
• Traveling expense (except hotel)

Getting parents involved

Enlist the help of your families in your wedding plans. If parents have never met, get them acquainted.

To help break the ice between parents that have never met, invite them all out to dinner. If they live far apart, give your parents a call and introduce them over the phone. They will want to exchange congratulations and invite each other to meet before the wedding date. If they have an engagement party for you, make sure the other half is invited.

You will want to discuss with your families the type of wedding you are planning. You will also want to discuss finances as one may dictate the other. Get your families input. There may be a wedding tradition one of the families you may want to include. While your preferences should take precedence, it’s not likely everything will go your way, be prepared to give and take.

Money is a main determining factor in every wedding. You will need to spend considerable time on determining a budget and who is paying for what.

Old tradition dictated that the bride’s family pays for the bulk of a wedding. Today however, this is not always the case with many weddings being financed by the bride and groom.

Your fiancé’s parents may also want to help with expenses.

If you are counting on your parent’s to pay for certain expenses, you will need to discuss this with them. They may need to decide on what they can afford, and what their budget will allow.

If the subject of “who will pay for what” still has not come about, you may want to approach them. “John and I are going to be taking care of the flowers, his folks want to pay for the DJ. Can you help us pay for the wedding photographer?” Have a good estimate on what you are looking at spending.

Keep his parents informed also, such as guest list size and when you will need a list. Your moms will also want talk to each other about the type of dress they are going purchase for the wedding. It might be a good idea for them to go shopping together to help coordinate styles. This can also be a great way for them to get to know each other better.

Month-by-Month To-Do List

Planning your wedding can be a long or short affair. The planning may begin a year or more in advance, while it is possible to plan in a much shorter amount of time.

Just remember that peak wedding dates may require extra time to reserve your service providers. Once you are sure on your date, set it in stone by reserving your locations and service providers.

Keep in mind; this list covers many planning objectives but not all. You will want to add any special planning tasks to it.

Bride’s list: 12-18 months prior

*Select and set wedding date *Reserve church and reception locations *Choose attendants *Select and reserve service providers *Start looking for wedding attire

Nine months prior

*Meet with officiant. Begin pre-wedding counseling if required. *Start compiling guest list *Finalize and order wedding gown, veil, bridesmaid’s attire, and flower girl’s dress *Begin registering for gifts *Discuss and plan honeymoon

Six months prior

*Begin reception planning, select menu *Select and order invitations *Have engagement photos taken *Begin shopping for grooms and men’s formal wear *Work with florist on wedding flowers *Help mom’s select attire *Select cake decorator and cake

Three months prior

*Begin to finalize guest list *Shop for honeymoon clothes *Shop and order wedding rings *Check your state regulation and get blood tests if you need them *Reserve a block of hotel rooms for guests *Work with DJ on selecting music for reception, first dance, etc. *Finish guest list

Two months prior

*Begin bridal gown and bridesmaids dress fittings *Address and main invitations *Purchase gifts for attendants *Submit announcement to newspapers *Work with hairdresser and veil to get the look you want *Plan rehearsal dinner

Three weeks prior

*Confirm honeymoon and travel arrangements *Get marriage license *Confirm in writing poses and special requests with photographer, videographer, D.J., caterer, reception hall, etc. *Get haircut or touch-ups *Purchase Groom’s gift

One-week prior

*Supply caterer with final head count *Pack for honeymoon *Confirm with all service providers on date, times, details and any changes *Purchase travelers checks *Have Fun!

Grooms list: 12-18 months prior

*Purchase bride’s engagement ring *Select and set wedding date *Reserve church and reception locations *Choose attendants *Select and reserve service providers

Nine months prior

*Meet with officiant. Begin pre-wedding counseling if required. *Start compiling guest list *Begin registering for gifts *Discuss and plan honeymoon

Six months prior

*Begin reception planning, select menu *Select and order invitations with bride *Have engagement photos taken *Begin shopping for grooms and men’s formal wear *Make honeymoon reservations, plane tickets, etc. *Make arrangements for passports, visa, and inoculations for travel *Reserve Honeymoon/wedding night suite

Three months prior

*Begin to finalize guest list *Shop for honeymoon clothes *Shop and order wedding rings *Check your state regulation and get blood tests if you need them *Reserve a block of hotel rooms for guests *Make sure groomsmen are measured for formal wear *Plan with parents the rehearsal dinner and finish guest list

Two months prior

*Check in to what requirements are for marriage license *Purchase gifts for attendants *Submit announcement to newspapers *Reserve rehearsal dinner location and other details

Three weeks prior

*Confirm honeymoon and travel arrangements *Get marriage license *Get haircut or touch-up *Send out rehearsal dinner invitations *Double check with formal wear provider to make sure all measurements are in and tuxes ordered *Purchase Bride’s gift

One-week prior

*Check with and remind groomsmen and ushers on rehearsal dinnertime and place *Pack for honeymoon *Confirm with all service providers on date, times, details and any changes *Purchase travelers checks *Prepare officiant fees, entrust it to best man and give him instructions on paying the officiant. Prepare and present musicians, vocalists and others with appropriate monetary gifts *Make sure all wearing tuxedos inspect and try on formal wear

2-3 days prior to wedding

*Instruct ushers on special seating arrangements. *Have Fun!

Newspaper Wedding Announcements

Word of your engagement will travel fast and far among friends, however, word of mouth only travels so far. Once you have told family and friends, it’s time to announce your engagement in writing. Newspapers, club newsletters and company newsletters are just a few places to start.

Newspapers are the most common used place for announcements. Most papers run announcements under the Lifestyle section about once a week. You will want to contact the paper for deadlines and requirements of photos and text. Ask for any forms you may need to fill out. Inquire if there are any fees for placement.

You will want to contact newspapers where you live and work, also where your parents live. If you are well known in other communities, you may want to run the announcement there also.

To make sure of proper communication, type your announcement, double-spaced, on a sheet of paper and attach your photo.

You should include career information about you and your groom, your parents and where they live, and what school(s) you attended. If you are keeping your name, you may want to note this as, “The bride will keep her name” so friends, family and business associates will know how to address you in the future. The month you will be married may be mentioned along with the city/town.

You should word the announcement as follows in the traditional way:

Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Smith announce the engagement of their daughter, Diane Sue, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. A June wedding is planned in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa…

In some cases, you may need to word your announcement differently. When the bride’s parents are divorced, you should word it for the parent who raised you and also mention your other parent as follows:

Mrs. Judy Smith of Burlington, Iowa announces the engagement of her daughter, Diane Sue, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. Miss Smith is also the daughter of Kenneth Smith of Palms Spring.

If divorced parents remain friendly, they may jointly want to announce the engagement as follows:

Mr. Kenneth Smith of Palms Spring and Mrs. Judy Smith of Burlington, announce the engagement of their daughter…

If the bride’s mother has remarried, use your mother’s surname in the announcement:

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Murphy announce the engagement of Mrs. Murphy’s daughter, Diane Sue Smith, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. Miss Smith is also the daughter of Kenneth Smith of Palms Spring.

If one of the bride’s parents is deceased:

The bride’s mother announces the engagement of Miss Diane Smith, daughter of Mrs. Judy Smith and the late Kenneth Smith, to Mr. John Smith, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami.

If both the bride’s parents are deceased, an honored family member or friend can do the announcing:

Miss. Jamie Smith of Burlington announces the engagement of her sister, Diane Sue, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. Miss Smith is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Smith.

If the groom’s parents are divorced or deceased, you will want to follow the same general format.

If the bride and groom are hosting their own wedding, you can do one of two things. Let your parents have the honor of announcing your engagement, or announce it yourself. If you wish to announce it yourself consider the following to word your announcement:

Miss. Diane Smith of Burlington, Iowa is to be married in June to John Smith of Miami, Florida. Miss Smith is the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Smith of Burlington. Mr. Smith is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami.

Second marriages keep the wording traditional just as a first marriage. However, the bride will want to use her current, legal surname, even if it differs from your parents:

Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Smith announce the engagement of their daughter, Diane Sue Schultz, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. A June wedding is planned in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa…

You may use the above as examples to start with. You may also wish to look at your local paper and see what many of the couples are using for a format.

Setting your Wedding Date

The first step in any wedding is to firm up a wedding date. While it sounds easy, there are many factors that may force you to pick a different date, such as work, school, weather, holidays, area events, etc.

You will need to start by finding out availability of your church, synagogue and reception site. Many sites can be booked a year or two in advance of your date, so check as soon as possible to insure the date is open or look for alternative dates or times. Some churches will handle two to three weddings back to back and some reception sites may handle two or more receptions at a time. Find out all your options.

You will also want to consider how much time you will need for planning your wedding. Many weddings take a year or more of planning depending on how big the event.

Different times of year can also play a big part of your wedding date. Seasons, area events, major holidays, religious holidays, work or military service can hinder your plans. Guests may find it difficult also to attend around major holidays.

Check with your parents and attendants, your best man may have guard duty or parents may have a planned vacation over that date. Other anniversaries, birthdays and graduations may collide.

Many brides also consider their menstrual cycle when planning the wedding date. In some traditions, sexual consummation of the marriage takes place on the wedding night, so careful planning of the date is important. Planning a date around this six to twelve months in advance can be difficult.

Once you have your date nailed down, let all the key people know so they may start planning their schedules accordingly.

How to announce your engagement: Announcing Your Engagement


Going public with the news of your engagement can be exciting. How do you get the word out? First off, start by telling your family, followed by close friends and co-workers.

The tradition of asking a bride’s father for her hand in marriage is not dead, just overlooked. Your fiancé may wish to speak with him privately, with both parents and/or stepparents.

News as important as this should be delivered in person! You and your fiancé should make plans as soon as you decide you want to announce your engagement to visit with your parents first. If you live far away and can’t wait, call them with your great news! If you think your family may have reservations, speak to them about it. It may put them more at ease if they can spend time together with your fiancé. If he/she has children, make sure they are involved with their potential new grandparents.

If either of you have children make sure you tell them as soon as possible. Marriage can mean a dramatic change for some children. It may mean the end of one lifestyle and the start of a new. They may have questions. Take the time to talk with them about their concerns, your wedding and what it means to all of you.

Good news travels fast, so make sure to call grandparents, relatives and close friends. Have a tentative date or time of year in mind so friends can start thinking about plans if they will be traveling from a far, or let them know you will be getting back soon with a date. You will also want to let co-workers and your boss/supervisor know the wedding date and time needed off. If you will be relocating after the marriage let them know this so they can plan ahead for your departure.

Last, but not least, if you are divorced or have children with another, make sure you share this information with them. If not on friendly terms, write them a letter or note.