10 Expert Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks

A bride and groom share a tender moment together on a bridge

Mardie Caldwell

February 21, 2023

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Venue Manager of the Rough & Ready Vineyards Tiffany Tullgren at a wedding fair

Venue Manager Tiffany Tullgren at a wedding fair

Planning a wedding is an exciting, wonderful experience but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating. Getting a few tips from a wedding planner can be a great help. After all, wedding planners know a lot about designing and arranging a wedding, from setting a budget and ensuring guests will be comfortable to staying organized and communicating with the wedding party.
But don’t stress if a full-service wedding planner isn’t in your budget. To help you kick off the planning process—and, more importantly, enjoy it!—I asked our Venue Manager, Tiffany Tullgren, to share her many years of experience and wisdom with you.
With these excellent tips from Tiffany, you will be off to a great start! From money-saving tricks to stress-reducing tips, here’s what you need to know.

Tip #1 – Determine Your Budget

The first task when planning a wedding is to determine your wedding budget. Whether you are funding your wedding yourself or family members are assisting, make sure you have your total budget determined. Your budget will be the basis for every decision you make from here on out.
Once you have a number, you can utilize this formula by The Knot to give you an idea of how you should spend your wedding budget:

  • 48 – 50% on reception (venue, catering, bar)
  • 10 – 12% on photography
  • 8 – 10% on flowers
  • 8 – 10% on wedding attire
  • 8 – 10% on entertainment
  • 2 – 3% on wedding party gifts
  • 8 – 10% for miscellaneous items
  • 5 – 10% for unexpected expenses

This formula gives you a general idea of how you should distribute your money, but you will adjust it according to your priorities. For example, if you have an outdoor wedding, you will not need as many flowers because the natural surroundings will provide the foliage you need.
In addition, you may have friends or family members who can help. For example, if you have a cousin who is a photographer, she might be able to gift you her services. Take your personal situation into account as you create your budget.
A young happy couple planning their wedding together in their kitchen

Tip #2 – Create a Planning System

Create a system to keep track of your plans for your wedding that works for you. You may prefer to track everything on your phone, and many apps, such as WeddingHappy®, will act as your personal assistant. Or, perhaps a wedding binder or bin will work better for you. You can store your collection of wedding ideas, swatches, and other wedding-related material in your binder or bin.
In addition, create a personalized wedding email to keep all your vendor details in one easily accessible place. Your wedding email will be handy when you go to wedding fairs and enter giveaways. If you plan to attend wedding fairs, print out labels with your name and email. Doing so will save you time because you won’t have to write your contact information down at each vendor and giveaway.
There is no right or wrong system as long as it works for you!
Simple, rustic place settings at an outdoor wedding

Tip #3 – Maximize Your Budget

There are some easy ways to maximize your budget. For example, there are endless invitation designs, which can be as ornate or simple as you desire.
A great way to save money with your invites is to choose one that is rectangular instead of square. Opting for a rectangular wedding invite will save you money on postage, and you can find gorgeous invitations in rectangular shapes. However, if your heart is set on a square wedding invitation design, you can save on postage by using the email response option for RSVPs.
Online florists are another way to save on your floral budget. You can view thousands of flowers and arrangements and order the flowers that will make your wedding décor shine.

Tip #4 – Share Likes and Dislikes

You are likely very excited to share your hopes and dreams when meeting with your vendors. You may share pictures of flowers you like with your florist, recipes that appeal to you with your caterer, and a list of songs you love with your DJ. Of course, you want to ensure all the things you like are included in your wedding.
It is also important to share anything you don’t like. What if you despise carnations, but your florist thinks they would go great with your central flower of choice? What if you can’t stand sesame seeds, or some songs bring back unpleasant memories? Your vendors cannot know what not to include if you don’t share with them.
A rustic sign welcomes guest to a wedding at the Rough & Ready Vineyards

Tip #5 – Schedule Your Tour

Be sure to schedule a tour or planning session in the month or season you will be getting married. This way, you can see the different trees, flowers, and plants in bloom and, likely, what weather to expect on your wedding day. Be sure to take pictures you can share with your florist, who can create arrangements to enhance the beauty of your surroundings.
If, for any reason, you cannot tour at the right time of year, ask your venue contact to supply some pictures of events that took place during the season you are getting married.

Tip #6 – Let Your Personalities Shine Through

It’s your wedding, and it should be uniquely you. Think of how you see yourselves as a couple. Are you playful and adventurous? Are you more country or more formal? You can incorporate details into your wedding day to show your guests who you are.
How about some miniature beer burrows for a sense of whimsy? The Drunken Burro is one of our most popular mobile bartending services. However, you may prefer a more retro look that Belle Aventur Mobile Bar Co. provides.
Do you love an outdoor BBQ? Bill’s Chuckwagon will be happy to pull up with their big grill and create a wedding BBQ meal your guests will rave about for years to come. However, if a more formal dinner is what you envision, Antonio Ayestraran may be the right choice for you.
Take a look at all the vendors we love, and you will be sure to find the vendors that suit your style and taste.
Wedding party holding parasols, photo by Darling Photography

Tip #7 – Make Sure Your Guests Will be Comfortable

While you will be familiar with your venue, your guests may not know how to prepare. For example, navigating a lawn in stiletto heels can be uncomfortable. In addition, if your wedding is outdoors, your guests may not think to put on sunscreen and bug repellant, so it is best to have some available.
The weather is another factor to prepare for to ensure your guests are comfortable. If it is going to be sunny, you may want to provide some parasols for those who prefer to stay out of the sun. If it is chilly, some nice throw blankets can help your guests stay warm and snuggly.
Some other items you may consider having on hand for your guests are hand sanitizer, mints, Band-Aids, and tissues, for those happy tears.

Tip #8 – Organize Before Your Wedding Day

Make sure anyone helping with your wedding knows when to arrive and their duties. Communication is key.
Next, organize all your wedding day décor in totes with a list and a picture of a sample table so all your helpers can pick up a tote and decorate as you have planned. Organizing your decor beforehand will save time and stress on your wedding day. In addition, it will make the setup easier for you and those assisting you.
A wedding guest fills her glass with water from a dispenser

Tip #9 – Have a Water Station

Provide a water station for your guests, that includes both a dispenser and bottled water. At the end of the night when your guests depart, they can take a bottled water with them. Hydration is important, especially if it is a warm day. Your guests will appreciate the gesture!

Tip #10 – It’s Your Special Day

Remember, this special day is about celebrating your lifelong commitment to each other. Don’t allow any small mishap or, for that matter, any large mishap to ruin your beautiful day.
Instead, celebrate your love and find joy and humor in all that happens on this magical day you will remember forever.

Mardie Caldwell

Written by Mardie Caldwell

Mardie has been a successful businesswoman since 1981. The Rough & Ready Vineyards was created out of Mardie’s desire to contribute to the community. Mardie’s vision to serve the community is rooted in her love of Nevada County, and it provided her with the opportunity to revitalize an old Ranch property into a breathtaking wedding venue.

Her innovative mind and commitment to environmental accountability contribute in a positive way to our community and the surrounding area. With the Rough & Ready Vineyards, Mardie seeks to create the best wedding experience for our clients and their guests, creating memories that will last for generations.

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