By Ashli Campbell, Event Producer, Blue Elephant Events and Catering
You’re engaged; now what? First thing’s first: Breathe. Now let’s talk!
Many recently engaged couples tell us that they aren’t sure where to begin. It’s not like you plan a wedding every day, so know that you’re not alone if you feel slightly overwhelmed. With 26+ years of experience in the industry, Blue Elephant knows exactly where to start when planning your wedding details. Here are 16 steps (in order!) to help you plan your perfect day.
1. Venue: It could be said that the venue is the most important piece of someone’s wedding day, because without it the party can’t go on. Choosing your venue is almost like buying a house. It should be truly special to the both of you, and if you’re not crazy about it upon your initial visit then you definitely won’t be crazy about it on your wedding day. With hundreds of venues in Maine, there are plenty to choose from.
2. Catering: This is the second biggest item on your wedding to-do list. There are different types of dinner services to choose from and endless food options. Once you have determined your menu and the type of dinner service you’d like, you can create your rental list. You may need a tent, tables, chairs, china, flatware, glassware, and more, including decor and props.
3. Photography/videography: A visual record of your day is very important. Your photos and/or videos will last for years to come and will be seen by your children’s children. Photography works best when you click with the person taking your photos; they will see you when you’re vulnerable, when you’re crying, and when you’re in your underwear! You certainly don’t have to be friends with your photographer, but you should know them well enough that you are not shy in front of them.
4. Wedding planning: Your wedding should be the most enjoyable experience ever. Planning the entire thing yourself can be tiring and worrisome, especially since you probably have a job and a life to worry about already. Choosing a company that offers planning in house will help save costs, and the planning will pay for itself anyway, because this person can tell you where you should really put your money. They will also remember everything to the last detail, including who is going to set up and break down all of your tables, who’s going to fill your monogrammed champagne flutes, and who is going to make sure that the bridal party gets down the aisle on time! The right vendors are important because they will make your wedding vision a reality, and your wedding planner will know which ones can make it happen the way you want it to. (Hint: Blue Elephant offers event coordination on top of catering!)
5. Florals: Floral arrangements and centerpieces never leave the tables, so make them beautiful and be sure to select a florist who will listen to your vision.
6. Dresses and tuxedos: Choosing your wedding attire can be one of the most fun pieces of your planning. Have someone come with you to try on wedding dresses (this is a great mother daughter thing). Make a day of choosing your bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen tuxedos. Separate in the morning and meet for lunch when you’re done!
7. Music: We can all agree that music makes a party and that people love to dance, but the big dilemma lies in deciding between a DJ or a band. If you prefer to hear songs in their original format, then hire a DJ. If you like interpretation, then hire a band. Either way, make sure that whoever you choose is experienced and has good reviews under their belt.
8. Lighting: Whether it’s soft, glowing yellows or wild purples, lighting adds elements to a room that can completely change the look. Have your event planner pick the lighting company and help lead you in the right direction.
9. Wedding cake: Who doesn’t like cake? It is the last thing your guests will eat, and one of the last things they will remember about your special day. Be sure to have a tasting and don’t feel as though you have to go too big. A lot of couples purchase a small cake for the cake-cutting and have sheet cakes cut for their guests. Ask your caterer or planner for recommendations — after all, they get to try them all! If cake isn’t your thing, try cupcakes, a candy bar, or ice cream.
10. Transportation: At weddings, we see antique cars, limousines, convertibles, and buses. The right company should have a backup in case of a breakdown or flat tire — make sure to include that in your list of questions for the transportation companies.
11. Officiant: The person who’s marrying you could be your brother, sister, your friend, or a total stranger. Make sure you enjoy standing next to this person, because they will be standing in front of you during the ceremony and will be in all of your photos!
12. Bar: Unless you have a caterer with a license, choosing the right bar service is a must. Maine has a lot of hoops to jump through if you buy your own alcohol. Always go with a company that is fully licensed and insured. Different types of bars include cash, open, cocktail hour only, and consumption bars.
13. Invitations: Your invitations should be special as they are a keepsake. From vintage to modern, choose something that is a reflection of your day.
14. Favors: Let’s do away with them and save the money for something else! If you want them, go for it; but we often find that many get left behind.
15. Bridal party gifts: It is always fun to give something to the people that you’ve chosen to be part of your day. There is no need to go all out for these, as they can be meaningful without breaking the bank. Even if it’s a rock from your favorite beach as kids, that will mean more than a monogrammed flask!
16. After party: Wedding after parties have become a new trend, especially for people in Maine getting married near the Old Port. Spending some time at the hotel bar where you’re staying is a great way to ensure safety for your party-goers. With a little research, even the after party can kick butt!
17. The most important step of all: Don’t forget to enjoy each moment of your wedding day!
Cover photo credit: Brea McDonald Photography
Blue Elephant Events & Catering
12 Pepperell Square
Saco, ME 04072