BEFORE you book ANYTHING for your wedding remember this..

the best and biggest list for planning your wedding 

 Destination wedding photographer Lexia frank is a film photographer for luxury weddings and celebrity weddings worldwide 
  1.  Hire a wedding planner*. If you've already done this, forget reading the rest of this blog post and pat yourself on the back because you don't need this information. Your wedding planner will already be guiding you through all of these pitfalls with expertise. She will act as your mediator between you and your parents when you have differing ideas on what is 'good style'. She will help you find vendors that produce exceptional work and are good honest people, because she has established relationships with them and know how they work under pressure and in difficult situations. She will give you ideas that are on the cutting edge of weddings- not just recycled pinterest ideas that are 5 years old. She will handle all the behind-the-scenes disasters that happen on your wedding day and you will never even know about it.  She will act as the point of contact so that on the wedding day all of the wedding vendors you have hired to make this day happen are not ringing your cell phone with questions while you get your hair and make-up done. If you are positive you don't need a wedding planner... then i suggest you read on.
  2. If at all possible- have the entire wedding and reception at one venue. I realize this isn't an option for many weddings, but if it is at all possible it will save you thousands of dollars and a lot of stress and here is why:  You will not waste time for vendors you are paying hourly to drive from location to location. You will cut out the cost of transportation for yourself, your family, your wedding party, your photographer and your videographers. The time it takes to get from point A to point B is actually three times longer on a wedding day because of the number of people you are moving and the time you need to buffer in for emergencies and traffic jams on a day you definitely don't want to be late. You may be able to re-use decor and rentals from the ceremony to the reception. Vendors (like photographers, videographers, musicians etc) will not have to re-setup at the new venue, therefore saving time, money, and stress. Vendors (like planners, photographers, and videographers) will not have to hire additional support (like a second photographer) to cover the second location while you are at the first location. The timeline will be streamlined and relaxed. There will be no chance someone will forget an important item at a previous location. The wedding photography and videography will feel cohesive as a seamless storyline of your day, not a dis-jointed album of images from random locations all over the city. We're talking THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars saved, infinite amount of stress relieved, and a better more cohesive body of work from your photographer and videographer, no chance of missing rings from the bestman who forgot it at the hotel 30 miles away. This right here is a win-win people.
  3. Your wedding vendors don't have to be in the same local area that your wedding takes place. Many vendors travel for weddings- this includes bands, bar service, photographers, planners, etc.
  4.  Hire vendors that you feel close to like friends- specifically those vendors who you will be working with on the day of your wedding (like photographers and planners)
  5. Don't price shop on price alone.  Stick to a budget- but when comparing vendors to each other, it's not an even playing field. Everyone has different experience levels, ability levels, and products. One photographer may carry the highest quality luxury albums while another budget photographer may carry consumer grade press-printed albums (or maybe even none at all!). Also take into account how well you get along with those vendors (see above).
  6. DO NOT PURCHASE A SINGLE THING until you have a clear concept of the style and design you are going with for your wedding. That means no wedding dress, no venue, no anything. I can't tell you the number of brides I've talked to that say 'I bought my wedding dress the week I got engaged. I wish i would have waited... because now I'm getting married at X location and the style is X and this just doesn't fit. plus, now that I've seen all these other gowns.... I wish I would have done more research. I don't even like my wedding dress now".   Or this one: "I thought I wanted a barn wedding, but now I'm sick of 'country'. I hate barns. I don't even like mason jars" I'd rather see a bride save save save for 9 months and do visual research and planning (hello pinterest! hello wedding magazines and blogs!) and then go on a massive spending spree and purchase items that all feel cohesive and fit the venue and style of the wedding, rather than purchase random items piecemeal that we have to try to sort of fit together. Which brings me to my next point...
  7. Use pinterest for inspiration and organization, but do not copy.  Keep in mind that the things you see on pinterest are from weddings in the past. By the time the photographer finishes editing the photos, and they make their way around pinterest they are probably a year old. Additionally, if you consider that the original bride probably conceived of her 'pinterest idea' a year before the wedding date... that cool little thing you saw on pinterest is already 2 years old.  Take those ideas and make your own from them. Better yet, look at the photography of classic weddings of yesteryear for timeless style. Or, better yet.... hire a wedding planner who is already fluent with the wedding photography trends and can professionally advise you on wedding day style.  Which brings me to my next point...
  8. Stop obsessing over the details.  Are they pretty? yep. Is it fun? absolutely. Are they more important than your relationship and marriage vows? nope.
  9.  Keep the bridal party small, especially if you're on a budget.  Though you may not realize it, each bridal party member you add to your party is going to cost you hundreds of dollars. Think about the added time it will add to your wedding day timeline to move 40 people from place to place. Now imagine that those 40 people have had one or two drinks, and THEN try moving them from one venue to the next.  Now, think about the vendors that you are paying hourly and how much those hourly rates are. Finally, imagine how many times you want to be herding cats on your wedding day instead of focusing on yourself during one of the most important days of your life.
  10. Negotiate.... but don't 'negotiate'.  most respectable wedding vendors wont just lower their prices if you say "how about you give me your top package... but for half the price".   Prices are priced what they are because that is what we need to produce the quality of work that we offer, not to get rich. However, informed negotiation DOES work. Perhaps you just want to work the package around differently to fit your unique wedding needs? wedding vendors are no stranger to unique requests- every wedding day is different. If it doesn't work out for the vendor, they will let you know. For me, switching out an engagement session for rehearsal dinner coverage is a common question, but one swap I wont do... and after giving an explanation to my clients they understand the reasoning.  However, if they don't ask, they would never know.  Moral of the story... communicate your desires to your wedding vendor, and see if you can both come up with a reasonable solution to your unique situation.
  11. Read your contracts. if you don't, you could end up with half of what you thought you were getting. I don't let anyone book with me without going through the contract in full with them... but I think I may be in the minority. Are there policies in place that deal with natural disasters? that deal with the emergency rescheduling of your event? if they are sick or can not perform their duties? Figure this stuff out now, before the emergency event occurs.
  12. There is a lot of etiquette to throwing a wedding- for your guests and for your vendors. Do you need to feed them during the wedding day? Should you tip? are you responsible for their dinner AND their lunch? Don't be afraid to ask what is common and what is expected. 
  13. Absolutely without question- hire professionals. If you are going to throw a party for hundreds of people, consider it an absolute necessary non-negotiable cost. If you can not afford it, then have a smaller wedding. I feel your pain, because I was in that position years ago- new baby, young couple, big visions.... NO money.  So, instead of hiring craigslist flakes or shouldering a massive amount of responsibility on close friends and family, we decided to elope. The thing is... when you hire friends or family, things can go downhill quickly. They may not have insurance for the inevitable disaster, they may not live up to your expectations and your relationship can be ruined, they may secretly loathe working a wedding they would have otherwise attended as a guest, not to mention the quality of work they will do will most likely be significantly less than what a professional can offer. 
  14. Be wary of those who call themselves professionals.  There are lots of amateurs out there with business licenses. Use referrals, find vendors who have been published multiple times with consistent quality work, and ask to talk to past brides about their experiences. or, you know, just hire a good wedding planner (have i convinced you they are worth their weight in gold yet?)
  15. Know that sticker shock is going to happen. However, wedding professionals don't charge exorbitant rates just because the word 'wedding' is in the name of their business. Unfortunately, it's the opposite. The wedding industry is FLOODED with vendors- our industry is completely over saturated. Entry level wedding vendors are popping up in the market every day, undercutting the professionals.  Experienced and reputable wedding professionals charge what they do because that is their profession and how they put food on the table. They charge what they do because that is what it takes to put on an event on such a scale.
  16. When inquiring with wedding vendors, remember you're talking to real humans on the other end. If you send an email that says: "wedding date august 24th.  send pricing"  You may not receive many emails back. You will be working with many wedding vendors for months- if not years- from the time you contact them... this is the beginning of your relationship. There have been many times I have made a few exceptions on budget or policies because i felt I truly connected with a client and deeply wanted to photograph their wedding.  Moral of the story....it pays to be kind.
  17. The number of guests controls the ultimate budget, and it's one thing you have full control over. Keep that in mind as you start tallying up your list.  Plated food, beverages, extra rentals, extra linens, extra tables, extra centerpieces, more serve ware and china and glassware, extra favors, bigger venue to accommodate extra people, extra servers/vendor assistants, more transportation.... you can see how it snowballs out of control.
  18. Dont just say 'i'm on a budget'.  Vendors are not out to steal your money or charge you the highest price they can get away with. Some of my favorite weddings of all time were some of the smallest budget weddings I've photographed.  If you can tell us what your real budget is we can help guide you to what might be the best fit.  'On a budget' can mean 50,000 or 500 dollars, so give us a little idea of a number, and we will be on your side and help you.
  19. Be kind to your wedding vendors. the truth is, we love what we do and we work harder for those clients that love our work back. When I know someone is just as excited as I am about the work I'm doing on their wedding, I put in a little extra - I go out of my way - to make sure they have an incredible experience. it's just human nature.

 

* i have no dog in this fight. i promise no wedding planner pays me to write these things, nor do i benefit when a bride has a planner.  Except for the inevitable- my brides that have planners are happy and stress-free and are therefore happy and stress-free in their photos, which makes us both happy.  Happiness all around. If you need reputable recommendations for good, honest, lovely wedding planners with impeccable style (the kind that makes Martha Stewart drool) that will become like a second sister (or brother) to you... I have a list. Shoot me an email and I'll give you their info.