Yay! You're planning a wedding! For most of you, this is your first time so a lot of questions come up. . . Some of you, ask your friend who has already had a wedding. . . Some of you, Google the answer and. . . My favorite! Some of you ask me - your wedding photographer! I love getting questions about planning or just weddings in general because it shows that my brides (and grooms) trust me! Doesn't everyone want to know they are trusted?
I put together the top 15 questions I get asked and. . . answered them! So. . . Let's get started!
How much is the average wedding?
Most couples spend $20,000 to $30,000 on their wedding. Although, there are some couples that had a budget of $10,000 and were able to stay within the budget.
How long is a reception?
How long do you want it to be? You can party all night long if you want to. . . But, on average, receptions usually last about 4 hours. That includes introductions, first dances, dinner, cake cutting, garter tosses and dancing.
Is a rehearsal dinner a must?
Of course not! The whole idea of a rehearsal is to make sure the wedding day goes smoothly. If you want to wing it and/or think everyone has got it under control, skip it! It’s totally up to you!
Who comes to the rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal is just to make practice perfect. It usually consists of everyone taking part in the ceremony. Bride, groom, wedding party, immediate family and any speakers. Some couples invite plus-ones, but that’s up to you!
Which side of the altar do we stand on?
Facing the altar, the bride (and bridesmaids) are on the left and the groom (and groomsmen) are on the right.
Do we have to offer plus-ones?
No, it’s your day! However, the proper etiquette is to offer plus-ones to those that are married, engaged or in a long-term relationship.
Do we provide meals for the vendors working the day of the wedding?
Yes. I’m not just saying this because I love food - haha! Most vendors actually have this in their contracts and you may not have noticed. It’s in mine! Many vendors, myself included, work all day on our feet. I’ve had one wedding in my whole career where I ate lunch. Dinner at the reception is usually the only time I can sit and eat. Mind you, I usually take about 10 minutes to eat so I can get back to work. So. . . yes. Feed your vendors. Especially those that have been there all day making your dream wedding come to life.
Also, if possible, feed your vendors with the first round of guests. This way, they can be done eating in time before the party starts again.
Do I tip the vendors? If so, how much?
Great question! My parents taught me when I was little that if tipping is ever a question, just do it. Now, when I was a wedding photographer in Philadelphia, pretty much every couple tipped. In Savannah, they don’t tip as frequently. If you think your vendors went above and beyond, I highly recommend tipping. Keep in mind, it is not mandatory. However, it is a nice surprise and sweet gesture. Not sure how much? Here is what I recommend:
Hair and Makeup: 15-20%
Officiant: Most don’t accept tips, but you can make a donation or give them a gift
Photographer and Videographer: Main videographer/photographer - $50 to $200
Second or third videographer/photographer - $50 to $100
Planner: Most don’t accept tips, but if they do. . . 10-20%
Florist: Most don’t accept tips, but if they do. . . 10-15%
How much is the average wedding dress?
You asked the right girl! Not many people (outside the wedding industry) know I used to be a bridal consultant. At that shop, we had dresses ranging from $100 to $2,300. The lower priced dresses were samples. That meant they were discontinued. What you saw on the rack (size and color) is the dress you bought. Which means, you could walk out with a dress. If you have a smaller budget, this is a great way to get a designer dress for a lower cost. On average, most brides spend about $1,500 - $1,750.
When should I buy my wedding dress?
Sooner than later. Most brides are shocked to hear that the average wedding dress takes 6 to 9 months to come in. Keep in mind, when you order a dress, they aren’t just pulling a dress off the warehouse shelf and shipping it to you - in most cases. They make the dress as close as they can to your size so you have minimal alterations. The dress is truly made for you - how sweet!
Now, if you procrastinate dress shopping or decide you want to get married in the next few weeks. . . Don’t stress. You have options. One option is the sample dress that I mentioned earlier. Buy a dress directly off the rack in a store and you can walk out with a dress. Another option is to find a boutique that has a quick turnaround. For example, Camellia has a designer that has ONE WEEK delivery. So. . . plan accordingly. This way, you don’t pay rush fees and you have time to find the perfect dress for your perfect day.
Does the bride have to wear a veil?
Of course not! It’s totally up to you! If a veil isn’t your style, don’t do it! Although, this is the one day of your life that you get to wear one. . . I think it’s the finishing touch.
When should we send Save the Dates?
Save the Dates are usually mailed 8 to 12 months prior to the wedding. If it is a destination wedding, you will want to be closer to 12 months to give your guests time to decide and prepare.
When should we send Invitations?
I usually recommend sending invitations out 6 to 8 weeks prior to your wedding. This allows enough time to be delivered and for you to receive RSVPs.
When should the RSVP reply card be due?
I usually recommend setting the date for 4+ weeks prior to the wedding. Most caterers require a head count 30 days in advance - you will have to ask your caterer their policy. This also gives you time to plan the seating chart and get place cards printed.
Do we have to do favors?
Of course not! But, it’s always a sweet way of saying thank you to your guests for taking the time, money and effort of coming. The coozies or edible favors tend to be the biggest hit amongst most guests. If there is an edible “essential” in the town that you are having your wedding, that’s always a fun way to personalize your wedding. For example, pralines are a big staple to Savannah and make a sweet (get it?!) wedding favor.
I hope this answered some of the questions you have about your big day! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment and I would LOVE to answer it for you! Chances are. . . If you have that question, so do other brides just like you!