If you are having a buffet, you don’t need assigned seats! You can totally get away with open seating (if that’s your style)!
If you are having a plated meal, you MUST assign guests to a seat. There should be either an seating chart or a table of ESCORT CARDS near the entrance of the reception. This is in addition to the PLACE CARDS at the guests seat, telling them which seat at the table is their’s. The catering staff will need to have the seating chart sent to them in advance, with notes on which guest will be served which meal and any food allergies.
On the PLACE CARD, there should be some symbol that illustrates which meal the guest has selected. In case the cards get mixed up in placement (or let’s be honest, a guest moves themselves to a different seat), the guest will still be served the correct meal.
A Place Card is the one that is at the place setting. An Escort Card is the one they pick up at the entry, telling them which table to find.
Escort Cards or Seating Charts should be arranged by ALPHABET, NOT TABLE NUMBER. None of your guests know what table number they will be sitting at until they find their name! It will create a huge line and back up the entire reception.
If you have a large guest list, your seating chart or escort card display should be accessible during the cocktail hour (after the ceremony). This will give your guests something to do during that time, other than drink. It will also help the transition to their dinner tables run smoothly and quickly.
There is a big difference between someone who takes good photos and a wedding photographer. There is limited time to get all the photos of your family, wedding party, and most importantly you and your new spouse. A professional knows how to organize all your guests to get the photos they need, in the small window of time allotted for photos.
Prepare a Must Have Photo List for your photographer. This should include a list of photos, descriptions and names of the people that should be in image. ie: Photo of Bride and Groom with Both Grandparents (Bride, Groom, Grandma Gladis, Grandpa Jim, Grandma Catherine, and Grandpa Gary.
Don’t forget to be a little flexible on your wedding day! There may not be enough time to walk to that spot you’ve been thinking of taking photos at, or it might not be the best lighting. Let go and trust your photographer. If you chose the photographer based on the amazing photos you know they can produce, then relax and let them take the reigns. You need to relax in order to look good in those photos anyway!
If your photographer has never been to your venue before, set up a site tour for them. You can walk the venue space together and discuss the best plan of action ahead of time, so there’s no guess work on the wedding day!
Remember to tell your photographer where you will be getting ready/getting into your dress. If it is not at your venue, they will need to build travel time into the time they are allotting for all the photos they have to take!
Meet with your photographer IN PERSON before you sign on the dotted line. This vendor is going to be with you more on your wedding day than anyone else. If you don’t like their personality at a meeting, you’re definitely not going to like them or feel comfortable with them on your wedding day when tensions are high! If they bug you or make you feel even the slightest bit of discomfort, don’t book them for your wedding!!!
Begin looking at invitation options about 6 months before the wedding day
Order proofs of your invitations to make sure they look and feel the way you envision them. Proofs are normally free. But make sure to allow for time for the company to print and ship the proofs to you, then time to make any adjustments needed, and still be able to place the big order on time!
Place the FINAL order for your invites 4 months before your wedding date. (If you are ordering them from a custom stationer, order them 5 months before the wedding).
Once you have the invitations in hand, set up a night with your family or your bridesmaids, to put together the invitation suite, stuff the envelopes, stamp, and address! Put the person with the best hand writing in charge of addressing, or print the addresses directly onto the envelopes with your inkjet printer.
Hand deliver the invitations to the post office. You can never be too careful! While you’re there, have them weigh one of the invites to make sure you don’t need any additional postage on the envelopes.
Invitations should be sent out no later than 8 weeks prior to the wedding! Allow more time if you opted not to send Save The Dates.
RSVP’s should be due 1 month before the wedding!!! This will give you 2 weeks to follow up with everyone that “forgot” to send back their RSVP. Your final guest count should be sent to your caterer and other vendors no later than 2 weeks before the event.
Stay tuned for some awesomely short articles, with some quick info on several planning topics:
Let’s talk guest list! Warning: This is likely going to be one of the toughest tasks of your wedding planning journey. But it is essential to the process and thereby, unavoidable! However, it doesn’t have to be super hard!
Eliminate ALL distractions! Designate a night, alone, with just you and your fiancé. No one else is invited to this meeting! If you hear yourself or your partner start to say something like,”my mom said….” or “my parents want to invite…” SHUT IT DOWN!!! Those people are not in the room this time for a reason! This first go through is strictly about what YOU (the couple) want. Write down your decisions to the following questions:
#1: BIG or small?
#2: Kids or no kids?
#3 Local or far away?
During this (↑) meeting, start writing down everyone that you BOTH know together. Start with CLOSE family members. Build to extended family members/childhood friends. Then discuss friends you know now who know you both, and see you regularly!
Once you have this list (↑) written down, count how many people that is. Does it match your big or small answer? Big is typically categorized as over 100, Small is under 100.
Does it not match? If you have too many names, consider a destination wedding. Want to have a local wedding anyway, choose a venue that only allows a limited number of guests. Still have some room in the guest list? Ask your parents for some names of people they would like to have included. (see how this suggestion only comes after you’ve established who YOU want to be there!)
Remember to consider your budget! You’re buying everyone their dinner and drinks, more people = more money!!!
Keep it all organized! When you’re ready to make your scribble marks official, Use a Guest List Organizer to keep your wedding plans organized. Make sure to include Names of EACH guest, Mailing address, email, phone number, number in party, if the invite has been sent (and what number you put on the back of the RSVP card to keep it organized), how many will attend, meal choices (if applicable), and Food restrictions or allergies.
To Make it easy, you can download this one (↓) that I give to each of my full planning clients! Enjoy!
So every once in a while I have a church ceremony that ends way earlier than the guests are supposed to arrive at the reception venue for cocktail hour. You know, the ceremony time at the church is from 2-3, but the bar doesn’t open at the venue until 5pm. For me and most other planners, its an immediate panic attack, cause we just KNOW that the guests are just going to go straight to the venue, and be trapped outside, cause we can’t let them in, nor is the venue even done being set up by 3pm (cause as far as the venue is concerned, it’s not supposed to be done till 5pm!) So my brain goes straight to panic mode AHAHAAAAAAH! Because my set up rule ALWAYS is to not allow any guests to see any set up happening EVER. Now sometimes, we have absolutely no control over this. I can’t control Aunt Carol from showing up 2 hours before the start time of the ceremony, just cause she doesn’t want to be late! I get that, and no matter what is happening or what is going wrong, we try our darndest to keep our cool around Aunt Carol so that she doesn’t feel like she needs to help in any way! But if all 100 guests are done with the ceremony, and they have no where else to go except straight to the venue, you better make sure to move up the start time of your venue to include that gap hour. Or have a really smart coordinator who knows ways to detour the crowd. Now I’m going to tell you best thing that I’ve learned to do, when there is a gap of time between the 2 big events.
I make these cards, and it usually buys me some time to get everything set up by the time the guests arrive.
I ask my clients what other things they enjoy doing in the area. Is there a restaurant they frequent? A place nearby that is significant to their relationship? These are awesome suggestions to give to your guests. Maybe they get to see for themselves the spot that he proposed. Or a place that like to go to on a regular date night. Give them an added glimpse into your lives together. They will want to go, and it will buy some time so that they aren’t bored and at the venue for way longer than they need to be, getting tired and hungry!
My top things to do are these, if you need some help thinking of ideas for your guests to do:
1. A restaurant, brewery, or bar close to where the second venue is, so there is limited driving or a very short shared UBER ride. A popular one in Carlsbad is the Karl Strauss Brewery. Or in Coronado there is the Coronado Brewing Company. Maybe it’s a place to get amazing wings, or a good brew, or good wine. But either way, they have something to do.
2. Always include a kid friendly option, for the parents in the group, or those who just need some good wholesome fun in their day! There’s plenty of time to eat and drink later, right! Is there a park on the way? Is there a restaurant with a good arcade near by? In Point Loma, you have the Corvette Diner, they can go in, get a milkshake, and spend some time playing their awesome arcade games!
3. Is there a fun ice cream or frozen yogurt shop in the area? Or maybe a bakery? Your guests will enjoy being able to satisfy their sweet tooth and feel a little naughty by eating dessert before dinner! In Kearny Mesa, there’s Bing Haus, and awesome and super swanky rolled ice cream shop. Super fun, simple, and a pure slice of heaven!
4. A quick little stroll on the beach? A quick trip to a iconic landmark? Is there a beach or good view point some where between your ceremony and your venue? Have them go take a selfie with a view of downtown or beautiful La Jolla cove in the background, and #yourwedding!
Most importantly, get the word out. Have this hand out printed for your Ushers to hand out at the ceremony while they seat people. Have your wedding party or coordinator handing them out and talking it up before/after the ceremony. Make sure to mention that the BAR Don’t Open till 5pm!!! That should keep people away, haha!
Include a copy on your wedding website, so people know ahead of time!!! And can make plans ahead of time if they want to!
Hope this helps close the time gap!
Why does a wedding cost so much?
I get asked this question ALL THE TIME! Mostly from family members, parents, and friends of a newly wedded couple who spent a small (sometimes large) fortune on the wedding of their dreams. Most engaged couples have already done their research before they get around to booking a planner, so I don’t hear it much from them. Until they are asked to sign contracts and put down huge down payments, then it becomes real. And rightfully so!
In 2015, the average cost of a wedding in San Diego was around $36,000 (based on The Wedding Report, Inc.). That’s as much as a down payment on a starter home!
Let’s look at real life equivalents for a sec. If you walked into a crowded restaurant of 100-200 individuals, and shouted at the top of your lungs, “hey everyone, drinks and food are on us! Have the kind of night you’ll remember forever!” first, I hope that I am sitting at one of those tables. But for real, you’re not going home with a just couple hundred out of your account. More like $10,000 or even more, depending on how much they drink, and how good the food is! But wait, you don’t want to get married in a crowded restaurant, cause you want to party! So you want to add that party atmosphere by setting up your own decor, in your own style. Basically creating the dining room of your dreams. Whether that be in a hotel ballroom, or a private estate, you are still looking at a space rental ($2500-$6000). But you don’t just need the space, you need it to be set up for you… add in rental companies and staff members to set up/clean up/and manage your event. And that is just dinner…
Average cost of a ceremony (complete with space rental, musicians, professional officiant, flowers, chairs, arch/chuppah) is about $2500.
Average cost of a florist (centerpieces, bridal bouquet, wedding party & family flowers, boutonniere, light ceremony decor) about $2000.
Average cost of a wedding photographer in San Diego ranges anywhere from $3000-$5000.
Videographer average in San Diego is $2000-$4000
Average cost of a DJ/MC is $1200
Wedding Cake: $500-$700
Wedding Dress: $1300
And you are looking at a grand total of: your first born child or $30,000+. I wish it weren’t true, but it adds up real quick!
So what can I do to NOT spend than much?
For starters, Throw out the Pinterest expectations! I’m not saying that you can’t have a beautifully styled wedding! But be realistic about what things cost. There are some blog images that cost 1000’s of dollars to create just one table. So be realistic about what you can afford. DIYing crafts will help you, but it still doesn’t mean that your $10,000 budget is going to get you what you see on the front page of Style Me Pretty! Be okay with it looking different than the picture, and put your own spin on everything (it’s YOUR wedding after all, right?)!
Look for discounts. Here in San Diego, we LOVE our Military! So if you are in, or marrying into the armed forces, start throwing that weight around and take advantage of the saved cash! If you aren’t that fortunate, sign up for newsletters, LIKE your vendors pages on social media, and look on their Yelp pages for special offers.
Coupons are awesome, whether you’re getting married or stocking up on dish soap!
Cut the guest list! If your parents start complaining, just tell them that if they want to invite aunt X, Y, and baby Z, then they need to pay for those additional guests. To put it into perspective, about 60% of your budget is based off of per person amounts. More people = More money, it’s as simple as that!
For more tips and tricks to save you money on your wedding, just keep reading! I do my best to help stretch your budget as far as it can go… I love saving money!
Mid-Century Modern meets Organic Elegance for this super intimate Elopement Photo Shoot
Planned, Designed, Styled, and Coordinated by Simply Elegant Weddings 2016 Interns: Jacqueline Wurzer and Kaylie Gutierrez
This year, the interns of Simply Elegant Weddings had a very large project to put together, and we couldn’t be more proud of the outcome! Together, Jackie and Kaylie split the duties, helped each other where needed, reached out to vendors, and put together an entire styled shoot basically by themselves!
Jackie designed and planned the majority of the details. She had a clear vision from the beginning. Came up with the Mid-Century Modern theme, figured out how to incorporate more organic elements to fit the venue’s surroundings (Venue: The Bradford Ranch, San Diego), and styled the details and decor to perfection.
Kaylie helped with finding our models, coordinated the timeline, organized the logistics from behind the scenes, and helped with direction during the shoot. This all helped the day to run smoothly, allowed the couple to feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera, and made sure that we got all the shots we could possibly need!
They both reached out to several vendors, hunted down the people they thought would be the best fit for the shoot, and executed planning and coordinating with the vendors like absolute pros. The both grew tremendously from this experience, and are ready to take on more of what the event planning world has to throw their way! They survived over 10 weddings each this season with Simply Elegant Weddings. They have learned what it takes to work as a team with other vendors, coordinate behind the scenes set up, clean up, and everything in between, and have learned to think on their feet faster than ever before; because as an event planner you have to do all of this and more without missing a step!
The beautiful photos were done by Christopher Simon, from PicSergs Photography. The amazing florals: the bouquet, boutonniere, centerpiece, and garlands were created by the very talented Fatima Kelley from San Diego Floral Design. The rentals of the amazing geo print picnic rug and the chairs came from To Be Designed Event Rentals. And the Linens are from The Linen Lady event rentals.
The theme behind the styled shoot, is that it is a romantic intimate elopement between just the couple, with a casual picnic and toast just between the two of them. The stationary from Yours Truly Calligraphy, represents the announcements they would send to their friends and family to announce their marriage.
As their mentor, I am so proud of what they have learned and accomplished this season! This styled shoot is months of brainstorming, planning, and work. Congratulations on the amazing outcome ladies!!!
Before you dash off to Snap and Insta to debut your new ring; Before you log in to your dream wedding Pinterest page to start DIYing yourself to wedding bliss; There are just a few questions that you need to discuss with your soon to be betrothed.
Write down your decisions, and stick to them. These 6 answers will keep you honest to what both of you have decided on together. Making sure that you stick to what you both want and decide will be a huge factor in making sure that your Wedding Day is exactly what you want, and not swayed by your friends/family members/most popular Pinterest posts/and even your vendors!
1. What do you want your wedding to feel like?
2. How do you want your wedding guests to feel?
3. How do you and your partner want to feel on your wedding day?
4. How many guests?
How many guests will determine your budget quite a bit. Over half of your wedding expenses are determined by per person cost. For more help with defining your budget, visit our post about how to properly create a wedding budget.
5. When-ish? Where-ish?
Remember not to officially set a date for now! However, you can plan for what season, month, or series of dates work best for you and your closest family. For more on this you can read our article on How to go about officially setting a date.
When I say Where, I am not talking about your soon to be task of finding a venue. Discuss your options! Many couples decide on Destination Weddings. Some for the reason of a combined vacation and adventure for their family and friends. And some come to this decision to take away the burden of traveling far distances for some of their family members who live elsewhere. While it still is most popular to host your wedding wherever you and your partner feel Home is, make sure that which ever Country/State/or City you end up is the best representation of what you and your partner want for your wedding! And if it’s San Diego you decide, Welcome!
6. Planner or DIY?
This question is best discussed up front. There are so many benefits to working with your wedding planner from the very beginning. The decision-making is not going to stop after this conversation. A planner can help guide you through the process! Not to mention, the expertise, connections, and knowledge a good planner brings to the table. If you decide on a Destination Wedding, hiring a full planner who is local to the area is very important. And if you are staying local for your wedding, but you are in school or working full time, a full planner is definitely a good idea. Even if you are super organized, type A, or a little OCD (hi, sister!), planning your own wedding is going to be a lot of work no matter what! Finding someone who knows what their doing and can help guide you through the process and assume most of the stress, is going to make everything better! And that my friends, is a Wedding Planner!
But above all else, remember to stay true to both of you. It is your wedding, it should be the best reflection of Your Relationship!
As always, Happy Planning! xo,
Halloween is just around the corner has me thinking about the scariest parts about planning your wedding! Here’s the top 6 I could think of. If you have more, I’d love to read them in the comments below!!!
- The moment you realize it’s real!
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how much you’re completely in love with your partner! There is a moment that hits all of us like a brick in your stomach, that this is ACTUALLY HAPPENING!!! You may not be the one that questions if he or she is the right one (although it is perfectly ok and normal to do so), but you will have the Holy Guacamole feeling that you are actually getting married, and will be starting a permanent life tied to someone else! It’s a BFD, Big Freakin’ Deal! It’s ok to feel whatever you feel in this moment! For me, I was uncontrollably crying at everything for a good 24 hours and I couldn’t sleep! I was excited and overwhelmed with gratitude and anxiety all at the same time! Tip for making it through: Think of all the amazing couples you know. They once felt exactly the same way, but they did it and are still doing it!!! Then, picture your life together in 5, 10, and 50 years from now! Make some relationship goals. Don’t write them down or speak them out loud, just Day Dream! Someday, you’ll remember those day dreams and know that the crazy emotions you felt back then were just that, crazy emotions!
2. Analyzing your financial situation
Especially if you don’t already live together, this is going to get nuts! Going through and analyzing what you make each month and how much you spend each month normally is likely to be stressful. But it’s a chance to be transparent, open, and honest with yourself and your partner, and will help you to start your life together. This is great practice for when you are actually married and fully financially bound to each other. Build your relationship at this moment with teamwork and a sense that you’re in this together! Figure out what you each have in savings already and how much you can realistically put aside each month to pay for the wedding.
3. Asking family for money
Asking someone for money is never easy. But especially when you realized just how much weddings cost, and how much you’re going to be asking of other family members to pitch in, is a scary thought! Some couples get extremely lucky, and their parents/relatives will come to them with a lump sum dollar amount. If you are among the majority of couples that this doesn’t happen to, you’ll likely have to bring the conversation up yourselves. This can be awkward! My best advice: schedule a sit down talk with each set of parents. Do it over a meal (whether you take them out or cook them dinner in your home). Food makes everything easier! Begin talking about your (reasonable) ideas for the wedding. Keep it general! Ask them for their ideas on what is important to THEM be included at your wedding. Then ask them if they can pitch in to pay for or help pay for those specific things that are important to them! If they come back to you and say they would love to invite a few of their friends, say we would love that, but we will need some help paying for the extra per person costs like food/bigger venue space/etc.. Or if it’s important that you have a traditional wedding cake, ask them to pitch in for that, since you were thinking of only doing a lite dessert buffet to keep costs down.
4. Putting down your first deposit
This is for REAL! You are now monetarily bound to hosting a wedding event! For most couples, the first deposit and contract signed is going to be your venue. Venue’s are rarely the cheapest thing on your list of stuff to pay for. So get ready and prepare yourself for the spending to begin. After all, not all the money is spent at the end of your engagement, about 30-50% of you budget will be upfront costs. The remaining amount will be due at the end. My advice: go to a local credit union, and search for a wedding account or low interest credit card to put your deposits on. Often times, credit accounts will give you access to checks too, in case a vendor only accepts check.
5. Standing up for what YOU want
Even though you may need to ask family members to pitch in for what is important to them, it is even more important to remember that you have the ultimate Veto power! It is You and Your Fiancé’s wedding day after all! This WILL NOT be evident without a fight or two. One: It is important to have each other’s back! When mom says something to offend your fiancé, you need to stand up for your partner. When someone is pushing too hard for something that you or your partner do NOT want as a part of your day, you need to stand up and say no. Being engaged is where creating boundaries between your extended family and your newly created family begins! If you want a small and intimate ceremony, make that known in the beginning, and DO NOT waiver. Become a united front to defend your wedding dreams!
6. The dreaded Seating Chart
Uh, this is probably one of the most difficult and stressful things to have to plan. It has to be done in the last two weeks of planning, because you have to wait for the final RSVPs to roll in. My advice: get a buffet menu, so you don’t have to assign individual seats. Assign tables and let people figure it out from there. Or just say screw it, and let people find their own seats. I know that’s not very etiquette-friendly of me to say, but seriously! If people don’t want to sit next to each other, they will make sure not to sit next to each other! If they do, then they will! If people walk to a table, and there aren’t enough seats, it’s a party, people will make room. If you’re already over budget and over stressed, just don’t worry about it. If you want to organize it and not stress out to the max with only one week to spare before your big day, assign people tables and make an escort display to post at the entrance of the reception. Done! If you’re having assigned seats with assigned meal selections, hire a planner to walk you through the process- I wish you the best of luck!!!
What has been the scariest thing for you in your planning journey? Leave me a comment below 😉
If you need some help keeping stress levels down, let’s meet over coffee and sugar to chat! Just go to the contact tab, and send me a quick email with your questions!