Wedding planners and event managers have seen it ALL, which is why we love getting their honest advice when it comes to planning your dream wedding. From where to find the right wedding vendors to the one detail couples shouldn’t overlook (but often do), these wedding experts are such an invaluable resource!
To help decipher the most important wedding planning do’s and don’ts, we spoke with wedding guru Emily Dolan-Leach, the Senior Event Manager at one of our favorite wedding venues, Brooklyn Winery. For couples looking for a unique urban wedding venue in an amazing location (it’s 10 minutes from Union Square via subway), this full-service wedding venue is such a great option. Not only do their wedding packages include their beautiful event spaces and your own personal event manager, but everything from the cocktail hour spread to passed appetizers, a family style meal, desserts, and a full open bar (with a selection of hard liquor and Brooklyn Winery’s small-batch wine) are included. For more on Brooklyn Winery, read our full wedding venue review here!
What’s the #1 planning detail that you think brides stress out about the most (but shouldn’t)?
Trying to make everyone happy. Everyone jokes about a Bridezilla, but more often than not brides tend to be OVER-accommodating, to the point that it creates some major stressors both before and during the wedding. I always advise brides to choose a menu that you want, play the music that you want to hear, book the vendors that make you happy. You can’t make everyone happy at every moment of the wedding, but honestly- that’s OK. Your friends and families will see that you’re happy, and that’s the only thing that matters.
What is the most overlooked detail?
I would have to say that the # 1 most forgotten item would be the rings! Assign someone responsible to get them to your venue! Aside from that, this is one of the main questions I get asked by brides and grooms, and it’s actually kind of tricky to answer. A wedding is one million details wrapped into one day, each one important in its own way. I think what couples want to hear is that everything is going to BE OK, and each detail is just that, a detail. So my advice would be to let go of all the small things on the big day, and leave the details to us!
In terms of a couple’s wedding budget, what’s your favorite money-saving tip?
Decide what is absolutely essential to you. Are wedding bands really important, but you couldn’t care less about florals and decor? Do you just want to have a fun party with your friends? Is it important to you to have a great honeymoon after your wedding? These things may differ from what is important to your partner, and that’s OK. What is important is that you are honoring both parties- and your budget will reflect that. Make a list of the most important things to each of you, and promise to respect that list throughout the planning process. All the little things truly add up to astronomical costs, so it’s important to lay out now what is non-negotiable to you. Sure, you may change your mind later in the game and decide you MUST have this or that, but always refer back to the list to remind yourselves what is truly important to you.
How should couples go about finding the best wedding vendors?
Meet them. Get to know them. Make sure they are hearing your vision and your personality. Because they are performing a professional role, on a very personal day- it’s important to establish a personal relationship with each vendor. Only book them if you like them. As people, as professionals, as someone you want to spend time interacting with on a very happy but also at times, stressful day for you. When you’ve booked a vendor you trust, they will move mountains for you on your wedding day.
As an Event Manager at Brooklyn Winery, I deal with so many things that most of my couples never know about – I’m talking to your parents everyday before the wedding, I’m calling my personal sound team in to fix your DJs speakers because your DJ didn’t have the right equipment. I’m dealing with a family emergency that you don’t know about, and with some dietary issues that you weren’t told about. I’m doing your flowers because your florist left early. I’m decorating your cake, because nobody thought of it. I’m postponing the ceremony, so that someone can run back to the hotel to find the rings. I’m fixing your bridesmaid’s shoe because it’s broken. And I’m figuring out where your friend can change a diaper during your wedding. This is just a regular Saturday for us wedding professionals, and if you have a good vendor, you won’t (and shouldn’t!), even know it’s all happening.
What makes a great wedding venue?
That’s a distinctly personal question- what makes a venue perfect will vary for each couple. There’s no hard and fast ‘must-have’ list that a great venue will include- but it should include your ‘must-haves.’ Again, it’s important to meet with your venue in person- you’ll get a very clear sense of what you can expect for your wedding day. A great venue creates the framework for your entire wedding, so the more elements they can include, the less you need to spend on little details. As with all of your vendors, you’re looking for people you trust to execute one of the biggest moments of your lives. When you start the planning process, you may have grand plans for a #DIYWedding and a bare event space. Then you realize that this is someone’s FULL-TIME JOB, and there are millions of details that you would never have even dreamed of. A great venue takes the stress off of you for producing a massive event, and leaves you focusing on exactly what you should be. A great venue is the background- the only person in the foreground should be your future spouse.
Any advice that you think brides SHOULD hear but most people don’t tell them?
Don’t dilly-dally after the wedding. While you may be tempted to hang around and say farewell to every single guest, in an attempt to fulfill the ‘polite quotient,’ or even to hang on to every second of your wedding day… resist the urge. If you stick around long enough, you’ll start to see everything you painstakingly planned start to unravel around you. The flowers get boxed up, the tables and chairs put away, the lights come down, and the music becomes an unrecognizable pile of wires and gaff tape. I can always see it in a couple’s eyes when they notice all of this, it’s an inevitable moment of ‘It’s over.’ The wedding day is done, and will never be again, so don’t wait for this to happen in front of you. Head off to your next adventure (even if it involves a bathrobe and a pillow), and start the rest of your lives together on a high note.
SEE MORE: How to Plan a Wedding in 1 Month