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Tips of the Trade: Learn some wedding planning tricks from the pros

Planning a wedding can be…difficult. Pinterest can get you started, but when it comes to actually making plans for the big day, you may need some help. That’s where we come in. We asked wedding planners in the Baton Rouge area about need-to-know info for the most important day of your life. No pressure.

On Music

Music plays an integral role in setting the tone of any event, especially weddings. There are countless questions to consider: Will a string quartet put the guests to sleep? Is a live band in the wedding budget? Will a DJ be appropriate? Would Aunt Evelyn possibly dislocate her hip attempting the electric slide? With these dizzying considerations, we looked to the experts for some guidance on keeping the beat of the wedding in synch with your style and needs.

When deciding on music options for the reception, Leslie of Leslie Campbell Weddings and Events says, “Consider your crowd. Live music is usually the way to go, but good DJs are accessible and are usually a lot of fun, too.”

Angela DiVincenti with Angela Marie Events agrees and says, “Live music, no-brainer. Though here, down south, DJs aren’t as expensive if your budget doesn’t allow for live music.”

On must haves for a perfect reception

We’ve all been to at least one wedding reception that we wish ended a bit earlier. The key to a seamless wedding reception is understanding what’s supposed to happen, when, and for how long. We gathered a few tricks of the trade so your wedding reception will reflect just how much of a meticulous party planner you are.

Donna Brian with Love in Bloom says, “Uplighting is definitely necessary because it changes the entire mood of the room and helps photographers capture really stunning pictures. It’s also a budget-friendly way to change the look of a room – that and candlelight.”

Leslie with Leslie Campbell Weddings and Events says, “Photo booths are great because they’re instant wedding favors. It’s an activity, but also a keepsake. Dancefloor props are also essential — tambourines spice it up a bit and make it festive! If your budget permits, absolutely book a live painting. They come and set up before guests arrive to sketch the general area and when the reception is over, the painting is complete. It’s so original and one-of-a kind and makes an excellent wedding gift from the bride or groom’s parents.”

Angela with Angela Marie Events says, “Flowers and candles. It’s so traditional and essential, but some couples have different opinions. To me, your decorations are what people associate your wedding with — tablescapes, flatware, plates. People remember and appreciate small details like that.”

On selecting a time of year for a wedding

Let’s face it — southeast Louisiana conditions aren’t exactly ideal for outdoor summer weddings. We gathered a few tips on keeping your ceremony and reception void of mosquitoes and humidity.

Donna Brian with Love in Bloom says, “If you’re on a budget, Christmas is a great time to hold a wedding because most venues/churches are already decorated. You may pay a bit more for a band because that’s usually their busy season, though. Basically any time after Thanksgiving.”

Leslie with Leslie Campbell Weddings & Events says, “Look at what’s going on in the city around the time you want the wedding. Fall weddings are great, but you have to consider football season. Also, check with the city’s visitor’s bureau, conferences, NBA, festivals. You never know what may be going on around the time you want your wedding, especially in big cities like New Orleans.”

Angela with Angela Marie Events says, “Spring is very popular and more and more brides are choosing their wedding dates in February because of the weather we’ve seen over the last couple of years. Also, venues are often offered at discounted rates during February because it’s considered a “dead season”.

On save-the-dates and wedding invitations

Your save-the-date or wedding invitation is your opportunity to make your wedding’s first impression memorable and distinct. Is digital being too informal? Is old-school stationery too formal? To hire a calligraphist or graphic designer? So many options. Here are a few tips that might help:

Donna Brian with Love in Bloom says, “You should never, ever pay full price for wedding invitations. Go online. Your options are endless. I, myself, offer 30% off of wedding invitations. Invitations are marked up 100% to a vendor. 50% will be their cost, so if I give a 30% discount, I’m getting 20%. Shop around like you would for a car. Don’t settle.”

Leslie with Leslie Campbell Weddings and Events says, “Give guests a six month time frame for save-the-dates, and usually if they’re out of state. For the actual wedding invitations, mail those six to eight weeks out. It gives your guests enough time to book their hotel rooms, if necessary.”

Angela with Angela Marie Events says, “Minted.com is very popular with my brides. If you are more detail-oriented, consider hiring a calligraphist or typographer to give your invites a distinct touch.”

On wedding trends

If you’re a traditional southern bride, you may not concern yourself with what’s trending in the wedding industry. But for those non-traditional brides, trends may be important in your decision-making process.

Donna Brian with Love in Bloom says, “Mix up the reception tables with communal tables, highboys, long tables, round tables”

Angela with Angela Marie Events says, “Baton Rouge is so different than any other place when it comes to wedding trends. Girls down here are usually rooted in a southern, traditional wedding. I’ve been seeing a lot of organic, natural touches. Wooden tables, looser bouquets, hand-painted signs, watercolor graphics. For bridesmaids dresses, jumpsuits and two pieces are very popular.”

To booze or not to booze?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We usually go into wedding receptions with the presumption that there will be an open bar and banquet waiting for us. While this is usually the expectation of an ideal reception, there are alternatives that get the job done that adhere to a modest budget.

Donna Brian with Love in Bloom says, “Have a variety. Appease your guests who may have specific dietary needs. Go with a portable menu: tacos, easy pick up and go stuff.”

Leslie with Leslie Campbell Weddings and Events says, “Be honest with yourself and know your budget and guest list. Open bars are typically the way to go, but only if your budget permits.”

Angela with Angela Marie Events says, “Don’t ever make your guests pay for their drinks. Beer and wine is always a good choice, or a signature cocktail. When it comes to food, consider if you want an upscale, gourmet-feel or cajun. Heirloom Cuisine is great for nicer dishes and Bayou Bistro offers great cajun dishes. I always suggest going with a heavy pasta dish. Avoid seafood for those with allergies.”

Final words of advice

With all these tips and bits of advice, here are some takeaways you should keep in your back pocket for a rainy [wedding] day (Has anyone told Alanis Morissette rain on your wedding day is actually good luck? Very misleading).

Donna Brian with Love in Bloom says, “Stay calm and learn how to improvise in times of needs. Designate who makes the final decisions. Find out family dynamics – things can get awkward if you unknowingly seat the wrong family members at the reception tables. I went to the clerk of court and I’m now an ordained minister just incase the minister shows up drunk.
Invest in a wedding coordinator because we are qualified and are paid to stay up on trends. And make sure you hire photographers in teams – it usually doesn’t cost extra and you’ll have plenty of photos to choose from.”

Leslie with Leslie Campbell Weddings and Events says, “Know your budget before you start planning because it’s hard to backtrack. And keep in mind the direct correlation between your guest list and budget.”

Angela with Angela Marie Events says, “Have fun with it. It’s not as stressful as you think. Stay organized. Hire people you trust to make the right judgment calls on your behalf. When hiring a photographer, look at their entire gallery, not just the good ones they post on social media.”

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