Planning Your Wedding - 9 Months Out
Photo credit Camille Wilson Photography
In our first post in the series (which you can find here), we covered the initial steps in wedding planning - most of which are exciting to work on. We can only warn you that this most may not be as "fun" but they are definitely critical items to work on. Just keep your focus on the wedding day and you can make it through it!
1. Select your bridal party. Bridal parties can range from one important person on each side to 10, 12, etc. Consider brothers and sisters on each side and if they will be included in the bridal party. Who are your closest friends? These may be friends you've known since grade school and kept in touch with, or more recent friends that you can't imagine your life without. Talk with your fiance about who they will have on their side. Good news - you don't have to place equal numbers on each side!
After you have determined the list, make sure you ask them! You can go with a simple heartfelt conversation or a handwritten note to let them know you want them next to you on your big day. Or have fun with personalized gifts, small parties or cute cookies like the ones below from Be Sweet Omaha.
2. Gather addresses for all your guest. This can be one of the more daunting tasks (especially if your guest list has edged up to 200, 300 or more guests). You will need these for Save the Dates and Invitations. Work with your fiance and parents to split up the list and start calling, texting, emailing to get the addresses. You can also check out services such as Postable that will create a link which you can email everyone, they fill out their address and it compiles it into one list for you!
P.S. Don't forget to send invitations to your bridal party, officiant, vendors, etc. This makes sure you have them in your final guest count!
3. Start reviewing invitations, save the dates and other stationery needs. Save the Dates should be sent 4 - 6 months before your wedding date and invitations 8 - 12 weeks before your wedding. Your invitations are the first introduction to your wedding style, so keep them consistent with the style decisions you made earlier. Your choices for invitations can seem endless. You can go through a big supplier like Minted, design your own or go fully custom with artists like The Brumby Nest, Typo Boutique, or Yonder Design.
P.S. If you are choosing your invitation with Minted, drop your email in the comments below and we'll send you a promo code to save on your invitations!
Photo credit Ben Brinker Photography
4. Go wedding dress shopping. Ok, now we're getting to some fun stuff! You can find details on some of our favorite boutiques here. Be sure to try on several different styles - you may be surprised at one that fits you perfectly. It's great to have someone with you to help you with your decision, but be careful about making it too big of an outing (we've all seen how that can turn out on Say Yes to the Dress!)
5. Start your wedding registry. Here's another fun item that has several options for you. Many couples already have the basic home essentials and may not need to start from scratch like our parents may have. My husband and I both had a full set of household items when we got married. We used it as an opportunity to replace items we'd had for a few years, upgrade some things and come up with cohesive sets of silverware, etc. You can choose to visit brick and mortar stores to create your list or create it online.
Feel free to get creative on registries - honeymoon funds, furniture or tool registries are great ideas!
Photo credit Cynthia Sparks Photography
6. Book your photographer and videographer. Photographers book up quickly as they typically only do one wedding a day. When choosing your photographer, look through their editing style and the types of pictures they take. Make sure you meet with them before booking to make sure your personalities click! Find out more on how to work with your photographer to get wedding photos you dream of at our post here.
7. Book your florist. Your florist can play a large part in the overall design of your wedding day. The sooner you have them onboard the more they can help you create a cohesive design.
Photo credit Camille Wilson Photography
8. Research guest accommodations and transportation. Ok, one last guest related task. Research accommodations for your out of town guests. Your venue can often help with recommendations. Think outside of the typical hotel and consider if there are cabins or guest houses near by. This makes it easier for guests to spend time together outside of the wedding not crammed into hotel rooms or lobbies!
Check into shuttles if you have large groups of out of town guests. This makes sure everyone arrives on time, removes the stress of finding a new place in an unfamiliar area and lets them get back safely after enjoying the party!
We know we gave you quite a few tasks this time! Work on it in small pieces and mix in the fun with the "not so fun" items to get you through it. Leave us a comment below if you have any questions we can help with! (And don't forget to leave your email address if you are interested in our savings code for Minted)
Next steps for 6 months before your wedding.
Previous post for first steps to planning your wedding.
Planning Your Wedding - First Steps
Photo credit Camille Wilson Photography
Hooray, you’re engaged! You may have already been planning your dream wedding on Pinterest or you may have no idea where to even start. We’re starting a short series today to walk you through the steps to plan your wedding!
1. Discuss possible wedding dates. Is there a special time of year that you love? Here in North Georgia, Fall is the most sought after season for cooler weather and color. Are there dates you need to avoid for school or work? If you’re an accountant, an early Spring wedding probably isn’t for you! If you have siblings or close friends also planning a wedding, their chosen date may influence your choice. Having some flexibility on specific dates can help you with venue options. If you do have a set date, start looking for your venue as early as possible.
2. Budget and guest count. I’m placing these together as they have a direct connection. It will be very difficult to have a wedding for 200 guests with a $5,000 budget. Sit down with the budget decision makers to determine what your total budget will be. From there, you can start to determine what your max guest count can be. Your venue, tables, chairs, linens, catering, cake, bar and flowers are all directly affected by your guest count. There are several helpful calculators online to figure out pricing guidelines for your area. Try this one as a starting point - Cost of Wedding.
Read more about what makes up your budget at our post here.
Photo credit Gina Cellino Photography
3. Start to discuss wedding style. Do you want an outdoor ceremony or a ballroom setting? Are you looking for a chic space in the city or more relaxed setting? Is a historic mansion your dream space? Or are you looking for an experience? Something like our Farm to Table approach that celebrates the seasons and supports small, local businesses.
4. Now, you can start to look for a venue! Once you understand your ideal dates, budget, guest count and style you can start to narrow down venues to tour. Where do you find these venues? A simple Google search will often provide lots of options. Sites such as Here Comes The Guide, Wedding Wire, Wedding Spot or The Knot let you filter options on several venues. As you look through your options, discuss the different offerings of each venue with your fiancé. Do you want an all-inclusive option to streamline planning, are you ok with food and beverage minimums, do you prefer your wedding be the only focus of the day for the venue or are you ok with a venue that hosts multiple events each day? After you have narrowed down your options, set up tours. Seeing the venue in person and talking with the staff will help you know which space fits you best.
Photo credit Kaptured Photography
5. Talk through the ceremony. Are there certain traditions you want to include? Unity candles, tree planting ceremonies, communion and other options all add to your ceremony. Decide if you will be writing you own vows or using traditional vows. (If you want more info on creating your vows, check out our post here.) Will you have special music during the ceremony? One of our recent brides had her daughter sing a couple songs during the ceremony and it was beautiful!
What about religious requirements? Make sure you understand from your priest, rabbi, etc. what is required and how that impacts the ceremony.
Photo credit Kaptured Photography
6. Start to think through your floral preferences and needs. How many bouquets will you need for the bridal party? Do you want floral centerpieces and what style? Are you dreaming of an elaborate installation for the ceremony or reception space? If you want to highlight flowers that are in season and locally grown, you may need to talk with the farmer florist in plenty of time for them to plant flowers in your style and color or discuss what may be available. We love growing flowers specifically for our brides on their wedding day! It’s one more way we can serve them with love.
Photo credit Shannon Ford Photography
7. Last one for now - food! Start thinking about what type of food you want at your reception. A seated dinner with a full meal for everyone? Cocktail reception with lots of variety? Do you want a buffet or plates dinner option? One of our favorites for smaller weddings is a family style service that encourages community and conversation with guests.
Don’t forget your cake! Or will it be pie, cupcakes, donuts - there are a ton of fun options.
Now that I’ve loaded you up with plenty to think through and talk about, I’ll leave you to it! Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions!
Next steps for 9 months before your wedding.
Seating Chart Tips
Photo Andy Calvert Photography
Seating charts can be a great tool to welcome your guests and make sure everyone can easily find a seat. A few easy steps will make sure you have the perfect seating chart for your wedding!
1. Know your final guest count and table layout. If your guests haven't sent their RSVP by the requested date, reach out to them and get their final reply. You'll need this count for your vendors also!
With your final count, work with your venue, planner or decorator to set the final table layout. This will let you know how many can sit at each table and where the best tables are.
2. Determine who is sitting with you! Is it just you and your new spouse at a sweetheart table? Or will you have the bridal party sit with you? With or without their dates? This will determine the size of your head table or estate table. If your bridal party doesn't sit with you, you can either give them a reserved table with their dates or sit them at other tables with guests they know.
3. Figure out the family table. Who will sit with your parents and your new spouse's parents? The best thing to do is ask! Do they want to sit with grandparents, aunts and uncles? Or do they want some of their friends included at their table?
4. Start to group guests together. How do you know everyone on your guest list? Extended family, college friends, co-workers, etc. As you start to form these groups, you will create groups of guests that most likely know each other and will enjoy conversation over dinner.
5. Think through where you place any single guests. It can be awkward to be the only one without a plus one at a table of couples - especially if they don't know most of the couples well. Place them with a group they will enjoy and they won't notice their single stats as much. Also, make sure your tables are set up with just the number of chairs needed. Nothing yells "Single!" louder than an empty chair next to someone.
Work with your venue, planner or decorator to make adjustments to the table layout as needed once you have your seating chart decided. Flexible arrangements with communal tables, estate tables, different size rounds or other unique elements will help your seating chart fit your guests and make everyone comfortable!
Cale and I are more “skip-a-generation” farmers than second generation farmers. Second generation farmers aren’t something you find often in the Metro-Atlanta area. He grew up visiting his Papa’s farm – feeding cattle, gathering eggs, and helping with other farm chores were highlights of those visits. But growing up in Smyrna, GA, farming wasn’t viewed as an occupation – farm land was what had been turned into subdivisions and highways during our parent’s generation. My mom grew up in Roswell, GA and can remember when there used to be horse farms where GA 400 is now.
My parents and grandparents always kept a small vegetable garden every summer. My Papa had grown up on a small farm and filled his backyard with tomatoes, okra, corn and more each summer – which my mom and her sisters helped weed, water, harvest and can each year. Family dinners during the summer always included a platter of fresh sliced tomatoes from the garden – it’s a flavor you can’t find in a grocery store!
As the Metro-Atlanta area continues to grow, backyard space for small gardens is becoming more scarce. Many people work long hours added onto long commutes, so time for tending a garden is difficult to find also. But for those of us who grew up reaping the benefits of our parents’ and grandparents’ knowledge – we know we are missing out!
Our goal with Pleasant Union Farm is to reconnect people with farm fresh goods and provide farm experiences within driving distance of where they live and work (an hour drive to our farm from Atlanta is often less then most weekday commutes and a much prettier drive!) We currently offer the farm for weddings, Farm to Table dinners and U-pick days. We’d love to add on other ways to experience Farm Life with us – like Goat Milking and Lotion making classes, Farm Tours, plant sales and more.
Pleasant Union Farm is a family owned wedding venue in North Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta.