When Should My Ceremony Start? There are an infinite number of ways to schedule the events throughout your ceremony and reception. If you have hired a planner or coordinator, they should be putting a timeline together for you, however, it's normally up to you to choose when you'd like the ceremony to start. There are several factors that should be taken into account when setting a ceremony start time. Before setting a time (and definitely before having invitations made), make sure you double check with a few people to make sure the start time works for them: Officiant/Minister- Are they available at the time you want? Occasionally officiants will perform two weddings on the same day. How long do their ceremonies typically last? Average is 15-20 minutes, but we've seen them last less than 10 minutes or as long as an hour. This is going to tie into both your venue and photographer considerations. Venue- If you only have your venue for a few hours, you may not have much choice, or they may set the time for you. If you have your venue all day, you probably have a lot of flexibility. Make sure your start time isn't going to make the reception go past the required ending time. For example, if you choose our package that includes the DJ, 5 hours of reception time is included. If you start your ceremony at 7, assuming you have a 30-minute ceremony, you're only going to end up with a 4.5 hour reception since we don't allow events to go past midnight. If you are very clear on the venue's policies, you may not need to contact them, just make sure you are within the parameters they set. Photographer- Talk to your photographer about how long they'll need to take photos after the ceremony. Yes, a sunset ceremony is beautiful, but if you're planning to do all of your pictures after the ceremony, keep in mind that it'll probably be dark when you're taking pictures. If your photographer would rather take photos with the natural light of the sun, you may need to schedule an earlier ceremony time. You'll still be able to get beautiful sunset photos, it just won't be during the ceremony. It's a good idea to allow about an hour after the ceremony for photos. Also keep in mind that the later the ceremony is, the later dinner is, and, let's be honest, people get hangry. han·gry [ˈhaNGɡrē] adjective 1. bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger If you're going to have a late meal, it's a good idea to have hors d'oeuvres for your guests to snack on while you're taking your pictures. Doesn't need to be anything fancy; a fruit and cheese tray does wonders! The time of year and day of the week may also be determining factors. If you're having an outdoor ceremony and/or reception in July or August, you probably don't want a ceremony at 3 or 4, when it's the hottest. If you're having a winter ceremony, you may want your outdoor ceremony to start earlier in the afternoon when it's a little warmer. It also doesn't get dark until 8:30 or so in the summer, but it's closer to 6 in the winter. If you're doing a ceremony on a Friday that isn't a holiday, you need to keep in mind that people are probably going to be coming from work and might miss a 4pm ceremony, but could probably make it to a 6:30pm ceremony. Similarly, if you're having a Sunday wedding, people are probably going to have to work the next day (unless it's a holiday), and won't want to stay out too late. If there are going to be a bunch of school-aged kids at the wedding, parents also aren't going to want them staying out too late on a school night. Obviously the bottom line is, it's your wedding and you can do what you want, these are just some things you might want to consider before settling on a time. Happy planning!

Grooms: This Is Your Day, Too!


Alright grooms, let’s have a little heart to heart really quick.  You bought the ring.  You popped the question.  Your job is done.  Now all you have to do is show up, right?  WRONG!  While traditionally, wedding planning is more focused on the bride and “her big day”, it is just as much your big day, too!





















Now, I know what you’re thinking: I just want her to be happy so whatever she picks is good with me.  Kudos to you for thinking that way, but you’re not getting off that easy!  Planning a wedding can be VERY stressful and quite overwhelming at times.  It’ll take a huge load off of your future wife if you are involved in the planning process.**


Think about this: in any major city, there are nearly a thousand (if not more) wedding photographers.  A quick search on The Knot brings up 919 in Houston; Google brings up 477,000 results for “Houston wedding photographer”.  Each has their own style, personality, packages, and price point.  Choosing one to take photos that will last a lifetime is not an easy decision.  Even if you don’t want to spend hours browsing the internet looking for that perfect photographer, at least give her some input as to what you might like to see.  Do you prefer natural light photos?  Candid shots versus posed portraits?  Would you really like two photographers so that you get different angles of every picture?  Anything that will help her narrow down the choices will help immensely!


You can even help with the florist!  Maybe you don’t care at all about the flowers.  Well, maybe she doesn’t either.  Or maybe she wants to make sure you don’t end up with a boutonnière you really don’t like.  Do you hate the way a particular flower smells or maybe you’re allergic?  Maybe you don’t want flowers in your boutonnière at all.  (There are tons of cute non-floral boutonnière ideas [fishing hooks, shotgun shells, etc.] on Pinterest!)





















Photo Credit: Alexander Cross Photography            Bouquet: A Different Bloom


Personally, I am not a flower person.  Occasionally I’ll pick up a bouquet at the grocery store if the colors catch my eye, but other than that, I really don’t care about flowers too much.  We picked the florist for our wedding because a bouquet they had displayed at a bridal show really caught my husband’s eye.  It had a bunch of thin feathers sticking out of it and these “monkey tail” ferns that he thought were so cool.  Rather than sticking him with just a bunch of roses, he ended up with a really unique boutonnière because he was involved in the decision.


And then there’s the food and the cake.  Can you honestly tell me you don’t want to go eat free food and cake?!  This one should be a no-brainer.  While you may leave the design of the bride’s cake up to her, if you’re getting a groom’s cake (or other dessert), let your style shine!  Most bakers can do almost anything you want with fondant.  Want your cake to look like a Yeti cooler filled with Bud Light?  Done.  How about a fish mounted on a piece of wood?  Piece of cake (pun intended).



































So grooms, get out there and help plan your wedding!



**In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit my husband was one of those that was very involved in the planning process.  And I LOVED it.  We chose our cake baker, florist, and photographer from the bridal show we attended together.  It was so nice knowing that we chose vendors that we both liked.  That being said, not all brides are like me.  Some really DO want to do everything themselves.  It’s a quick and easy conversation to have and it’ll probably get you some MAJOR brownie points for even offering!




I’m engaged! Now what?!?


Congratulations!!  You’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and now you get to plan the wedding of your dreams.  Some people have been planning their wedding since they were 13 (e.g. me).  For others, the idea of planning such an event gives them hives (e.g. my best friend).  No matter where you fall on the wedding planning spectrum, there are a few things you need to figure out first.




The number one thing you want to do is figure out a budget.  Not exactly the most glamorous part of wedding planning, but an absolute necessity.  Most of us would love to have an over-the-top, extravagant wedding that our friends and family are talking about for years to come; but for many of us, that is not a reality.  While, traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for the bulk of the wedding, times have changed and now both sets of parents and even the couple themselves are pitching in.  Talk to your families and see what, if anything, they are willing to contribute.


Once you have a total budget, use an online budget calculator to help you estimate how much of your budget should be spent on each part of your wedding.  No budget calculator is exact and it can definitely be adjusted for what you care about the most.  As vendors are booked, make sure you continue to fill in your budget to see if you’re sticking with it or going over.


Keep in mind that it is EASY to go over your budget!  When filling out your budget, it’s a good idea to leave a miscellaneous or slush fund of about 5% of your total budget for any vendors you might go a little over on.  This way, you won’t destroy your entire budget because you found an amazing photographer that’s out of your price range.


Guest List


The next thing you’ll want to start working on is your guest list.  This doesn’t need to be a final list at this point, but you’ll need to have an estimate for when you begin looking at venues.  You don’t want to book the perfect venue, then realize that your guest list is far beyond its capacity.  On the other hand, if you’re planning a small wedding, keep in mind that some venues have minimums that you may have trouble reaching.


There are a few things to keep in mind with your guest list.  The more guests you invite, the higher your reception expenses tend to be.  More guests mean more food, favors, linens, etc.  Obviously not everyone you invite will come.  Take into account the time of year and if it’s a holiday weekend, but you can assume that, on average, 75-80% of the guests you invite will say they are coming.


First Vendor


Once you have your budget figured out and your guest list estimated, you can start in one of two places: planner or venue.  If you know that you want (and have the budget for) a planner/coordinator to help you throughout the entire process, you can start there.  They’ll be able to make recommendations for venues (and all of your other vendors) based on your budget, style, and guest count.


Even if you intend on hiring a planner, some venues are all-inclusive or include one in their packages, so you may not need to find your own.  A great place to start your search for venues is online.  There are tons of wedding planning websites (The Knot, WeddingWire, etc.) and blogs (Woodlands Bride, Rustic Bride, etc.) to help get your search started.  It’s also a good idea to talk to your married friends that have a similar style.  Even if you don’t want to get married at the same venue they did, they probably looked at several and can save you some time on your search.


If you find a venue you like, but they don’t have pricing on their website, e-mail or call and they should be able to give you at least estimated pricing so you know if it fits into your budget or not.  You don’t want to go visit a venue, fall in love, then realize it’s double (or more) what your budget is.


Get Planning


The venue you choose will typically propel your planning into full gear.  Now you know the space you need to fill and what vendors you still need to find.  Most venues can provide a list of vendors that they work with for anything they aren’t providing.  Even if they don’t, you can always go online and to your married friends.  It’s also a good idea to read reviews of vendors you are considering using.  If you can’t get word of mouth referrals from your friends or family, reviews from other brides are the next best thing.


Happy Planning!




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