Wisconsin wedding planning tips from an expert
01. Your wedding website
No need to fuss over the creation of a fully-functional wedding website, but do make sure you have a URL and landing page before you send out those save the date cards. Not only should your wedding website URL be somewhere on your save the date card; but the site itself should have essential event information for guests to reference. Perhaps even the hotel blocks linked, if you were able to get those rolling. Which reminds me…
02. Booking hotel blocks
If you're having guests from out of town, make sure to set up a block of rooms at at least 2 hotels (meeting varying price points). Typically, hotels will work with you on group rates if it’s 12 months or sooner to your date. I recommend reaching out right at that 1 year mark to ensure guests have ample opportunity to stay where they’re comfortable.
03. Correct USPS postage
USPS does what it wants - thems the rules. Not only does the weight matter, but the size as well when it comes to your wedding invitations through USPS. Square envelopes and certain embellishments, like wax seals, can carry an additional charge, too. If you try and risk it, you could wind up with your invitations lost or thrown out, so don’t! Instead, pop into your local post office and get the envelope weighed properly to determine appropriate postage.
04. Set aside time + money for attire alterations
Regardless of what makes up your wedding attire, you need to budget in both time and funds for alterations. Off the rack or made to order dresses and suiting still need work - whether it’s adding a bustle, buttons etc. And that work ain’t free, so set aside some cash for alternation expenses.
I’m going to tell you what I tell all of my clients: your wedding guests are adults, and they can arrange their own transportation. Yes - truthfully, my opinion on this is…unless your wedding ceremony and reception are in two different places, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on transportation for your guests. UBER and Lyft codes are a really nice way to meet in the middle if you’re grappling with this.
With that being said, don’t forget transportation for your wedding party or immediate family - if desired. This might be a 36-passenger motor coach or something even smaller. Transportation can be arranged + reserved much earlier on, so don’t hesitate to do so.
06. Plan B
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of a venue or setting, and forget about coming up with a contingency plan. Wisconsin weather is notoriously unpredictable, and you need to have a backup plan if Mother Nature does you wrong on the day. Even if you’re just having cocktail hour outside, think through the contingency plans for inclement weather.
07. Day-of signage
Save the date cards and wedding invitations get a lot of attention, but some couples forget all the signage required for their wedding day itself. Naturally, you’ll decide on escort cards, seating charts and table numbers. However, signs that oftentimes slip through the cracks are for guest book, gifts, signature drinks, bar offerings and welcome/directionals. And keeping these designs cohesive is always worth it, in my opinion.
08. Designate a photo wrangler
In the weeks leading up to your wedding, you’ll provide a family shot list to your photographer. Don’t forget to designate a sister, brother, cousin, aunt, etc. who can wrangle family they’re familiar with. This wrangler can help grab family with ease for photos so you can stay on track with timing.
09. Golden hour
Sunset is a golden hour for photographs, and it might be a time your wedding photographer would like to pull you outside for some magically lit photos. If you know what time the sun will be setting, you can make sure you'll be available. I like to include this in all of my day-of timelines just in case the couple is interested in the photo opp.
10. You need to RSVP
Almost every couple forgets to include themselves into their final guest count and reception meal selections. You need to RSVP, too! Which reminds me…
11. Vendor meals
Vendor meals can be easily forgotten if there isn't a wedding planner to coordinate it. If you look, many vendors require meals in their contract and some, like bands, require a separate break room altogether. If you’re not sure what vendors require/want a meal at the reception, ask your planner - or the vendors themselves. Typically, this includes the photo/video team, DJ/band and venue coordinator.
12. Cash for tips
Many of your final payments will be due between 30 days and 2 weeks before the wedding. This can be a major blow to your bank account. And, not to kick you while you’re down but, you’ll have to set aside some cash for vendor gratuities on the wedding day, too. When it’s all said and done, you could be divvying out $1,000+ in tips for your wedding vendors. Set it aside early so you’re not panicking during the reception.
While tipping is certainly not required, it is appreciated if someone has gone above + beyond. I encourage clients to prepare in advance with cash tips in envelopes, and designate someone to distribute them.
13. What’s happening with gifts, cards and personal items?
At the end of your amazing wedding night, you’ll be heading home, to the after party or hotel room. You will not have the capacity to bring along your: box of cards, pile of gifts, wedding veil, change of shoes, bouquet, guest book and leftover cake. Before 11:59 PM on the night of your wedding, make arrangements for these personal items; as well as what you’d like to do (if anything) with your wedding flowers.
During dancing, I’ll pop over to my clients’ home or hotel to drop off their cards/gifts and other personal decor so they don't have to worry about it.
14. Where are you going?
Where are you going after your wedding? So often this detail is missed, because you’re busy making so many other plans + forget about yourselves! Maybe it’s an UBER, or you drop off a car at the venue earlier in the day. Regardless of the plan, make arrangements for your transportation after the wedding. Unless you’re OK with popping into a dive bar in full wedding attire. 'Cause that’s a cool move, honestly.
15. Eating at your wedding
This is the most cliché piece of advice - but you must remember to eat during your wedding! Of course, I mean during cocktail hour and dinner…but also breakfast and lunch. Most of your photos will begin right around lunchtime, so don’t forget to snack beforehand; and have a beefy brunch to kick everything off.