When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, like that mermaid silhouettes are all the rage or that purple is making a comeback. Then, there are things you need to know — advice so essential that any bride who’s lucky enough to hear it thinks, “I’m so glad someone told me that!”
If you’re wondering whether there’s something you may have missed (or even if you’ve got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets.
Guests come first
Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you’ll invite before settling on a venue. This will ensure there’s ample space for your crew.
Investigate wedding blackout dates
Know ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability.
Lighten your list
The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it’s costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.
Prioritize your people
Pare down your guest list with the “tiers of priority” trick. Place immediate family, the bridal party and best friends on top of the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends you couldn’t imagine not being there. Under that, list your parents’ friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. If you need to make some cuts, start from the bottom.
Make a meal plan
Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, make sure you’re not required to serve the same meal to your vendors that guests will receive. Otherwise, you could be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Choose a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Your wedding vendors should be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning process. When working with them, you should feel free to really explore what it is you want — maybe it’s serving a late-night snack instead of a first course or doing a bridal portrait session rather than an engagement session. The bottom line is that you should feel like you can have an honest conversation with them about what it is you want.
Make a uniform kids policy
You have four choices: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an “adults only” wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child-care service to provide care either at the reception space, in a hotel room, or in a family member’s home. To prevent hurt feelings, it’s wise to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).