MOH duties

MOH Series - #2 Where do we start with the planning?

Hey there my little wedding planners. Hope that you enjoyed the first post in this series, where I got you to start brainstorming with your soon-to-be-spouse on what's important to you.

Once you've got your priorities, your "feeling," and those guide posts in place, there are different paths you can take to get to your destination. Remember, wedding planning is just a huge scavenger hunt. The first step is booking a venue and setting a date, so start by understanding what’s most important for you, and then the decisions thereafter will just follow. Here are some example paths that you can take.

Priority: Must love setting

If the environment is what’s most important, think about the 5 adjectives you set, and what venue will help to set the tone. Scour through wedding blogs and filter based on aesthetic keywords like modern, rustic, ranch, beach, etc. to get ideas:

  • Make a list of all the venues that caught your eye. Check out not only their website, but try to find REAL weddings that were done there. Remember, some photographs of weddings may just be styled photoshoots and not an actual wedding. Look for photographers who have worked there before and check out their portfolio.
  • Maybe your perfect venue is out of state. Make sure you hire either a planner that's local to you who have done a wedding at that venue before, or specializes in destination weddings. They'll likely have contacts that are out of state so they can help you coordinate all the vendors
  • If venue has a required caterer, make sure that the price per head is reasonable, so you can make room in the budget
  • Understand their rental policies. Décor does a lot to set the scene, so ask if they lock you into a rental company or if you're able to bring in furniture, props, etc as you want.
  • Hire a great photographer to capture your perfect setting. Refer back to photographers who have shot there before, or one that has a lighting style that you're looking for
  • Your date is the availability of your venue + photographer!

Priority: Food. Food. Food.

Feeding guests is a big part of the wedding, and if this is your priority it helps to filter a lot of things. This was our case actually, and "good food" even made it to the 5 adjectives that are important for our wedding. So what does that mean? Here are some ways to get started:

  • Many venues force a caterer onto you. If this is a deal-breaker, and you have a particular caterer you wanted to work with and bring in, this will filter out the venues super quickly
  • If you're open to the caterer at a venue, make sure from the get-go that the venue gives tastings. Believe it or not, not all venues provide this option and some make it super hard for you to taste their stuff
  • Ensure that the venue has kitchen facilities to accomodate an outside caterer; if they have to build something out, that could get expensive depending on what you want to serve
  • Meet with a lot of caterers! You'll be surprised too how many restaurants would actually do a wedding. If you have a local eatery you both love, try hitting them up
  • Consider serving your food family style or buffet food stations. That way, you can offer lots of different options for you guests instead of locking them into a course
  • Your date is the availability of your venue + caterer!

Priority: Gotta get the date right

Is there an auspitious date you want to hit? Venue availability is going to be the first thing you want to nail down, and Saturdays go fast. So move on the venue quickly:

  • When calling venues to book a tour, be up-front about the date
  • Not only do venues book up quickly on Saturdays, some are only open for weddings certain months so make sure the date is available
  • Research a lot of vendors in each category, and don’t even meet them unless the date is available
  • Let your family and friends know early what date you're looking at, even before booking. You're going to be heartbroken if grandma can't go because she had a trip planned, or your MOH is expecting a baby that weekend.
  • Once you find a venue, you got your date!

Priority: Including everyone

Do you have a large family and a huge circle of friends who you want to share the day with? Ok, this means that your head count will be dictating your wedding, and use that as a filter:

  • Look for venues that can accomodate the size. If it's an outdoor venue, make sure that they have a weather contingency area that is still big enough for your guest count
  • When speaking to your caterer, make sure that the price per head is reasonable; this is going to add up real quick when you have a large party
  • For the same reason, really look at costs like favors, cake cutting, open bar, etc. that are calculated per head. What's a must-have, and what can you do without to spend more money elsewhere?
  • When you're walking the venue, think about the openness of space and whether there are any gooseneck areas that could potentially be an issue when your guests travel
  • Bathroom. Bathroom. Make sure there are plenty of them, and even consider if they have some upscale porta potty rental options for you
  • The availability of your venue is your date!

Priority: We're not made of money

Look, I get it. A wedding is just ONE DAY, and if you're really just looking to do this kind of low-key, so you can save for the future, but just want a really fun day out of it, it's totally possible.

  • Consider shaving your guest list. This will make the largest impact on your budget, because one of the biggest costs of the wedding is food, and that is dependent on the headcount. Think real hard about who NEEDS to be there
  • Think outside the box for the venue, and don't just search "wedding venues" but look at event spaces in general. There are lots of funky warehouses, factories, and the like that are opening up for weddings. With places like this, rental can be a cost that adds up, so make sure that the venue manager has great contacts
  • Do your guests have flexible schedules? Look at days during the week for any cost savings. Many venues offer a huge discount when you do an event like say, on a Thursday, and it may be doable if you let your guests know beforehand. They could make a long weekend out of it!
  • It's super tempting to cut out a planner from your budget because it's 10%, but definitely keep it on there. It's the best thing you could do for yourself, and they'll help you make sure you're on budget. If it's just not possible for you, then consider just hiring someone for day-of coordination
  • When it comes to food, think about serving it buffet style, as it could save costs of having to hire servers. Or consider a food truck. Just one note htere though, make sure to get at least a couple trucks to make sure there's no traffic jams and delay to get food
  • DIY or DIE. Ok not really, but yes, doing things that you can do on your own will cut costs dramatically. Or, enlist family members who are crafty. Know an aunt who has fresh flowers at her home all the time? She could be your florist. Are you and your bridesmaids handy and enjoy craft days? Make décor together and make a thing of it.


Hope that helps! Whatever course you take, know that you've GOT THIS. 

Are there any priorities that aren't listed above that you're curious about? Know any other tips from your own wedding or those of your family? Let us know in the comments!

MOH Series - #1 Understanding your wedding priorities

Wedding Planning. Been there, done that, and I still remember that feeling of absolute bliss that fateful day in December of 2014 when my husband proposed. We had been together for 10 years, so you could say that I'd been waiting for that moment for a while. You could even say I was DYING for that moment. After managing a Wedding Pinterest board for years, it was finally here.

But when it actually happens, it seems a bit surreal, and you're in this cloud of FALALALA land. Until the realization of wedding planning sets in, and you go "shit."

The secret no one will tell you is, wedding planning is not THAT BAD. With the disclaimer of course, that it's what you make of it.

Yes there are decisions to be made, fights to be had, but honestly, for me it was more of a thing I liked to complain about in glee than something that was actually stressing and eating me away. It's like, happy stress, the kind where you fan yourself and say shit like "OMG I'm like, sooooo stressed about the wedding!" all whilst glowing like a mofo.

I'm sure some of y'all will admit to this.

It's okay, this is a safe place.

I went back to that place this past April, when my baby sister got engaged in effin Paris (way to win, right?). So now, as the unofficial MOH I get to relive that crazy fun journey that is wedding planning. And thought this would make a great chronicle for anyone who's feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start, as my sister is right now. Yes you've got the pins and the image of what the day would be, but how do you get THERE from here? It could feel daunting, but let me just repeat some things I say to her as a part of this blog series, where I've appointed myself as YOUR unofficial MOH too.

Don't worry, you got this. I'm here for you.

The first steps are the hardest, but think of this journey like a scavenger hunt. You solve one puzzle, which will lead to the next clue, and it goes on and on. Totally doable, right? So what's the first clue, you ask?

Let's brainstorm here

Pick a night, make a date out of it, and talk to your fiancé about some of the prompts below. It'll help to set ground rules, the dealbreakers, and get both of you aligned on what you will be looking for.

What's the headcount?

This doesn't need to be an exact number (because trust me, doing your guest list will be a whole another thing), but knowing the ballpark will help with nearly all the decisions you need to make about your wedding. Is it under 100? 100-150? 151-175, or 200+?


If you were to describe your wedding in 5 adjectives, what would they be?
What's the feeling you want your guests to walk away with after the wedding?

This is a question that I ask with my business branding clients too, and for good reason. When you're planning a wedding, you are going to be presented with lots of choices. And I mean like, a lot of them. You will be weighing out pros and cons until your brain hurts. But the thing is, there is always going to those choices where you feel stuck, and all the alternatives seem equal, so you're in a lock. When that happens, having an idea of your goal really helps to make that call.

The 5 adjectives and the feeling are like your North Star. It's the goal you have in mind, meant to guide every decision you make. For me, it was Affordable, Stress-Free, Pretty, Good Food, Casual, and I wanted guests to feel loved, taken care of, and thank them for being in our lives for the past 10 years and for the rest of our lives. This meant things like forgoing the dream venue because it was too far, or saving money on décor so we could splurge on dinner.

The thing is, there's never a RIGHT answer for your decisions, which is what makes them so hard. But as long as you know what your priorities are, the RIGHT FOR YOU answers will reveal themselves. 


What's the max budget for your wedding where you'd still feel okay with your life?

The question is worded this way for a reason. A wedding could be as expensive as you want it to be. Before planning my own wedding, I couldn't even wrap my head around how a wedding could cost $100k... and now, I can totally plan myself a $400k wedding, no problem. And you'd be surprised how easy it is, it's really just a tad nicer for here, and there, and you will get to that number super fast.

Even if you're not planning to budget line item per line item, having a ceiling set for yourself will safeguard you from having that oh shit moment, where you realize you ate through your savings for a one-day party. Again, this is a completely relative, subjective, personal answer. Don't EVER, and I repeat, EVER EVER feel bad about how much you are or you're not spending on a wedding. This is your day, and as long as both you and your partner are on the same page about it, that's the magic number you go with.


Is there a time of year you MUST or CANNOT get married?

If you're like me, timing is everything. Maybe you have a crap ton of relatives born in October so you don't want to compete with that, or your mom works at an accountant's office so April is the worst thing ever. Maybe your flower is only in bloom at a certain time of year, maybe you want to match your anniversary to your dating one. Whatever the case, having at least a season or a 3-month range of when you'd like to get married will help.


Is there a venue you're DYING to get married in?

My advice for all couples is to book their venue or their planner first, or even concurrently. They're the two most important pieces of the puzzle because the venue will dictate and set your date, and it's usually the most expensive thing, while the planner is your new partner in crime and will help to bring your vision to life. So if there is a dream venue, it helps to find a planner who has done a wedding there or somewhere similar before, or of course to go and book that venue. 


What vendors are your must-haves? What could you live without?

Your vendors are going to be the ensemble cast for your wedding, so it's important to know who you want to bring on this journey with you. For anyone, I absolutely recommend getting a wedding planner, if not a full planner than at least a day-of coordinator. It's sometimes hard to find value in their service because it's kind of like insurance or a ninja, where if they're doing their job right, then they're supposed to be invisible. But please, for the love of all things sacred, get one. 

Other vendors are a mix of common and unique, like Photographer, Videographer, Florist, Live Band, DJ, Photobooth, Paper Goods, Calligrapher, Rentals, Caterer, Entertainment, Hair and Makeup, and the list goes on. Knowing who you need to book and who you could cut from the budget if needed, is invaluable.


What are Your wedding deal-breakers?

Maybe it's a wedding you both went to and you didn't enjoy it, maybe it's a horror story you heard. Whatever it is, knowing both of your never-in-a-million-years is just as important, if not more, than the must-haves. 


Now go talk about it!