Did you get engaged over Valentines Day? If so, congratulations! After seeing a few proposal pictures on social media this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think back on our engagement, and the year leading up to our February 23rd wedding (two years on Monday). Such an exciting time, but I remember not knowing where (or how) to begin. That’s why I’ve interviewed our beyond wonderful wedding planner, Heather Lowenthal of Posh Parties, to get some advice on beginning your journey in wedding planning.
Where do you recommend a bride and groom begin their planning process? What are the first decisions that must be made? Setting the date? Picking the venue?
“First and foremost, I think sitting down and discussing what is most important to you is a good place to start. Some couples are set on a specific date because it is an anniversary or has a special meaning to them. Once the date is set, you are able to easily narrow down your venue and vendors based on availability for that day. Some couples have their hearts set on a venue that they always dreamed of having their wedding at. You would then choose a date based on the venues availability and work around that. So as long as you and your fiancé stay on the same page with all of your decisions and your priorities, you will be headed in the right direction and everything will fall into place.”
When should the budget be decided? Do you have any ratios you recommend for couples to calculate how much the wedding will cost?
“The budget – or working budget, as I like to say – should be thought about prior to making any wedding arrangements. This will help determine everything from your venue to your music, food, decor/flowers and photographer. Typically your reception (food & beverage) will be about 50% of your total budget. From there you can piece out the rest of the budget and depending on what your priorities are, decide where the money is best spent. Some people want the best band or photographer, others wants to fill the room with flowers, so it is really up to you how you choose to spend the money in each category.”
After a date has been set, how far in advance of the wedding should a bride look at gowns, invitations, save the dates, etc?
“After a date is set, the next steps would be to book the key vendors that tend to book up far in advance: venue and band! If you are looking to purchase a designer wedding gown, you can start your search right away, as many of the custom designers take several months to get in. Save the Dates should be sent 6-9 months before the wedding and should include either accommodation information or a wedding website where guests can find additional information about your wedding weekend. Here is a simple planning guideline:
FROM THE BEGINNING
- Devise a “working” budget
- Book main vendors: venue, music, decor & photographer
- Choose Bridal Party
- Choose & Send Save the Dates
7-9 MONTHS BEFORE
- Start looking at wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses and tuxes
- Register for gifts (2-3 places is perfect)
- Have engagement photos taken
5-6 MONTHS BEFORE
- Gather inspiration ideas for décor and details
- Start planning Honeymoon!!
3-4 MONTHS BEFORE
- Hair & Makeup Trials & book who you want to use
- Order invitations
- Finalize invitation list
2 MONTHS BEFORE
- Send out invitations
- See sample centerpiece
- Finalize menus for rehearsal & wedding
- Decide on cake
- Buy wedding rings
- Get marriage license
- Order day of details: menu cards, place cards, ceremony programs, cocktail napkins, favors
- Finalize your seating chart
- Purchase items for welcome bags
- Finalize details: transportation, beauty, day of timeline”
I would’ve lost my sanity had I not had your help planning our wedding. When should a bride or couple start interviewing wedding planners? Can you explain the difference between a planner and a wedding coordinator?
“Thank you for saying that! It was such a pleasure to work with you and Frank on your wedding. I believe it is important to bring in a wedding planner at the very beginning of the process. Not only will they be able to help with with negotiating vendors and keep you within your budget, but they will truly get to know you and your fiancé and can treat the wedding weekend as if it was their own. For example, knowing the personalities and taste of the bride and groom can help a planner come up with ideas and details that would positively represent the couple. You are hiring a professional to be your eyes and ears so its best they know what is going on from day one so no detail is missed.
The difference between a wedding planner and a hotel wedding coordinator is that a coordinator is in charge of everything related to the wedding at their hotel. They may also offer recommendations for various vendors, but they do not negotiate contracts, call to check availability or attend meetings outside the hotel like an independent wedding planner would. Both the coordinator and wedding planner work together as a team to ensure your wedding day is flawless.”
Any other tips you can give to brides out there?
“The best tip I can give to couples planning their wedding is to ENJOY EVERY MOMENT!!! It truly will go by so fast and while the wedding itself is one of the most important days, keep it all in perspective that this is the kickoff party to spending the rest of your loves together!”
Thank you Heather, for sharing your expert knowledge on wedding planning with us!
Heather Lowenthal is a luxury wedding and event planner in Palm Beach, Florida. Heather brings her passion for the creative planning and management of celebratory events to her most discerning clientele. A consummate perfectionist when it comes to the little details, Heather is devoted to quality and brimming with endless brilliant ideas, so it is no wonder she is well-known for delivering benchmark celebrations that are remembered and raved about for years to come. Heather loves to entertain and in her spare time commits to exercising and spending time with her family and good friends. She has been married for almost 12 years and has two beautiful daughters, Jacqueline (8) and Madison (5).
I hope this interview helps all you newly engaged brides out there. Remember Heather’s advice, and enjoy every moment!
wedding photography by Nancy Cohn