From ‘Yes’ to ‘I do’: Ensuring your big day reflects you | Kitsap Week

Think about the tone you want to set for your wedding, and match the venue to your tone.   - Brad Camp / Olympic News Group
Think about the tone you want to set for your wedding, and match the venue to your tone.
— image credit: Brad Camp / Olympic News Group

Coordinating a wedding is a lot like conducting an orchestra. All the key individual players come together for a great masterpiece to kick off your new life together. It isn’t easy and it takes planning, but with expert tips from local professionals, you can orchestrate your day to perfection. Or at least close to perfection.

All of the experts gave this advice: Remember that this is your wedding. It’s not your mother’s or your best friend’s. You get the final say. Choose what you like and how you want the celebration.

Just because you’ve attended 15 weddings where the bridesmaids have all worn identical dresses, doesn’t mean that your bridesmaids need to do the same. You are an individual with style and personality. Let your day reflect it.

Once you are engaged and have texted, emailed, and called all of your friends and family with your great news, it’s time to focus and set a date and a venue. If your wedding ceremony will take place at a different location from your reception, it’s important to book the two venues at the same time. Nothing like booking your ideal reception, only to find out that the church isn’t available.

Think about the tone you want to set for your wedding day and match the venue to your tone. Anne Thatcher, co-owner of Farm Kitchen, has some good questions for you to think about when choosing the venue. How is access to the location for your guests? Are there enough restrooms and parking? How is the privacy? Will yours be the only wedding, or will there be others on site? Will you have the venue for the day, or a certain set amount of time? If you chose to have your wedding in a public setting, are you OK with the thought of onlookers watching?

Thatcher said in her experience, 80 percent of wedding receptions

serve the food buffet-style. Buffets are nice because they give guests a sense of choice. However, with buffets you have to order more food because you don’t want the selection to look picked over. Plated (sit-down) meals are easier to budget because each plate is proportioned out.

“You never know if Uncle Henry won’t realize there are 40 people behind him waiting in the food line,” Thatcher said. An important question to ask yourself is: “How polite are your friends and family?” Will they realize they should only take a reasonable amount of food? Or will they be stuffing their purses with smoked salmon?

Nancy Gelose with Kiana Lodge said another popular food-service choice is “family style.” Entree and side dishes are served on large platters and passed around the table, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Thatcher suggests thinking carefully how alcohol is used and served. Perhaps limit a guest’s choices to beer and wine instead of having full cocktail service. Think about groomsmen continuously walking around with a beer in hand.

“Seemingly insignificant beer drinking all day ends up with people not having great memories at the end of the day,” Thatcher said.

As the bride and groom, you will be in high-demand and will want to talk to as many guests as possible. Be sure to set aside time for the two of you to eat and enjoy the menu that you so carefully chose. If need be, designate a close friend to make you a plate. The last thing you want is to faint because you didn’t eat. While it may fetch you top prize on “America’s Funniest Videos,” you don’t want to be the bride who passed out into her wedding cake.

Lastly, Thatcher suggests planning end-of-the-day details. Who is taking the flowers? Who carts home the gifts? On your wedding day, you want to focus on the event, not the details.

“Choosing a photographer is one of the more important aspects of your wedding,” said Brad Camp of Olympic Photo Group. The photographer’s job is to capture your wedding day and give you an end product that you will enjoy for years to come.

To help guide your photographer selection, Camp recommends using the “Four P” method:

Portfolio: Do the photographer’s images match the style you want? The two main styles are photojournalism, which tells the story from start to finish, and traditional which is more focused around posed portraits. “No one style is better from the other,” Camp said, “but the couple needs to decide what style they want.”

Camp said to look beyond the photographer’s glossy brochure and look at an entire wedding documented from start to finish. You need to see the complete wedding day and how well the photographer captured it.

— Personality: Do you have a good rapport with the photographer? Could you spend the day with this person? Essentially the photographer joins your family for the day so it’s important to like the person.

— Packages: Does the photographer offer the services you need? What is the end product you want? Do the packages meet your goals?

— Price: What are you paying for? What is included? How are the photos delivered to you?

If the “Four P’s” align with a photographer, than you may have chosen the right one. Camp highly suggests talking to two or three different photographers so you can feel comfortable about your decision.

Theresa Aubin-Ahrens of Aubin Ahrens Photography stressed the importance of choosing a photographer with a business license and liability insurance. It’s also imperative to have a signed contract by both parties. Aubin-Ahrens has heard of bridal nightmares when a photographer skipped town or backed out of the event. In both cases, the couple didn’t have contracts and lost their deposits.

“When you are hiring people to work six months from now, you need to make sure their business is legitimate and will still be in business six months from now,” Aubin-Ahrens said.

Aubin-Ahrens said a popular trend is for brides and grooms to have “first look” photographs. Aubin-Ahrens estimated that 95 percent of her clients chose this feature. This is a time set aside before the wedding when the bride and groom can have a quiet moment and catch their breath before embarking down the aisle. The moment is photographed and it is a tender time, Aubin-Ahrens said.

As for the old wives’ tale of not seeing the bride before the wedding? Aubin-Ahrens said 99 percent of couples she has photographed in this setting are still together. Doing a “first look” also allows for family and bridal party photos. This way, immediately following the wedding ceremony, the couple can head to the reception and not have to wait for photos.

Bernadette Stephen-McRae of Diamond Custom Floral said brides are very savvy and usually have a specific floral vision. She said current trends seem to lean toward vintage bouquets with garden roses. Dana Kugler of Old Town Flowers, said she’s seen a lot of looser, more “wildflower-like” bouquets. Again, it is suggested to get three different referrals for florists and choose the one that most aligns with your vision.

Stephen-McRae believes once the floral budget is determined, you should give the greatest importance to the most photographed part of the wedding: your bridal party. The next priority should be flowers for the reception because the guests have a close-up view of the centerpieces. The last priority should be flowers for the ceremony.

Stephen-McRae said ceremony venues often have very strict rules on what you can and cannot use. Besides, all eyes will be on you and your beloved when you have your first kiss. Save the grander flowers for the reception.

Kugler said that centerpieces for the reception should be proportionate to the size of the tables. If the tables seat 10 or more people, having a taller center piece is fine, because guests cannot talk across a table that large. If your tables are smaller and seat six or eight, a lower center piece should be used to allow the guests to talk to each other.

Stephen-McRae said many brides like to incorporate a sentimental item into the bridal bouquet. Items like your aunt’s locket or your grandmother’s handkerchief provide a nice tie-in with the “something old” aspect of wedding traditions. A smaller “toss bouquet” can then be used during the bridal toss. Another benefit of not tossing your bridal bouquet is that you can save it and have it freeze dried to keep the flowers in your bouquet preserved for years to come.

Kugler said you can keep costs low by choosing in-season flowers. Thanks to airplanes, just about any flower can be obtained, but it will cost a pretty penny. She also cautioned against having your wedding near Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, when florists are extremely busy.

Kugler suggests limiting the number of people you bring to your floral consultation. “A lot of opinions get confusing and overwhelming,” she said.

Wedding rings provide a subtle “taken” message. More importantly, wedding rings symbolize ever-lasting love.

Megan Cooper of Blue Heron Jewelry said white metals such as white gold and platinum are still a popular choice for wedding bands. Palladium, which is part of the platinum family, offers different working properties. It is a good choice because it weighs less and costs less than platinum, but still gives a bright white, very polished look.

Square or round-shaped diamonds are the most favored. Cooper said the current trend is to have a clean, uncluttered look. Couples are also looking for interesting designs in the metal.

“Younger couples aren’t looking at jewelry as a lifelong investment. If their mood changes in the next five to ten years, they have no problem changing the ring,” Cooper said. “Older generations bought one ring and they stick with it, maintaining and repairing it. It symbolizes the point in time when they got married.”

In her opinion, the most important quality of a diamond is the cut. Not to be confused with the shape of the stone, the cut refers to how well the diamond cutter extracted the diamond. “If the diamond is cut well, it returns the light back to your eyes with power,” Cooper said.

Cooper recommends ordering wedding rings six to eight weeks in advance. She also stressed that couples should ask a lot of questions. “Go to the jewelry stores and look and touch. Connect with the rings. Don’t just rely on pictures,” she said.

Lynanne White, owner of American Rose Bridal, has a job that many girls dream about … she helps brides choose their wedding dress.

Surrounded by pretty dresses that would make Barbie drool, White sorts through the racks and helps brides find the “one.” Lately the trend has been for wedding dresses to be more casual, White said.

White helps brides choose the dresses based on the scope of their wedding, their body shape and their budget. White said brides have to dig in and start trying on the dresses. Often, the idea they had when they walked into the store, is different from the dress they choose. Sometimes brides are set on a white dress, only to chose an ivory dress because ivory is better with their skin tone, she said.

White also helps with bridesmaids’ dresses. Lately, the trend has been for brides to choose a color scheme and for the bridesmaids to pick a dress in the color that suits them. If you have a wide-range of different sizes represented in your bridal party, they are going to look better in dresses styled for their shape, White said. Plus, if the bridesmaids get a say of what they wear, there is a better chance the dress will be worn again.

Jason Evans, owner of Defining Moments Salon, said the key to styling your hair for your wedding is to plan ahead. Evans suggest brides do a trial run with their hairstyle. This way, the hairstylist and bride can tweak the style to make it work best. Lately, Evans has seen the hairstyles be more natural and relaxed. He sees brides take their current style and amp it up a bit, but not go too wild. After all, you want to look like yourself.

As for bridal parties, Evans suggests the bridesmaids have a “cohesive style, but let their individuality shine through.”

Music provides the mood and entertainment for your reception. Music choices range from live music, to a disc jockey to using your own music. It depends on your taste and budget.

— Live Band: This is the most entertaining option, but also the most costly, said Sunny Saunders-Housen of Gordon Sound. A live band also limits your musical choices. A great band may have 200 songs in their repertoire but a DJ might have 10,000.

— DJ: A DJ is usually less expensive than a live band and may be able to appeal to a wider variety of listeners. A DJ is capable of playing songs to get your grandparents dancing, as well as the current hits that will attract the younger audience. And don’t forget about disco. DJ Don Sears said, “People will tell you they hate disco, but it gets people out on the dance floor.”

A DJ also acts as the emcee for the night. A DJ helps coordinate the first dance, the bridal bouquet toss and other reception activities. Plus, a good DJ can read the crowd and adjust the music accordingly. Certain songs get people dancing and an experienced DJ should be able to get your party rockin’.

— Rental equipment: The least expensive choice is to rent sound equipment and plug in your own music. Design your own playlist for the night. Chose a friend or family member to run the music for you.

Saunders-Housen said when it comes to music, it’s not all about the bride and groom. “If you only play what the bride and groom like, but everyone else hates it, people will leave early, and say ‘That was awful.’” She suggests thinking about your guests and what would appeal to both you and them.

Sears agreed and said some music styles just don’t work for wedding receptions. A successful party is when you can reach everybody, young and old. It’s usually not all at one, but rather continually throughout the night.

Sears also advised the bride and groom to chose their “first dance” song carefully. Do they want the crowd to join in on the dancing after a while? Or do they want to dance solo for the entire song? If so, keep the song length in mind. A long song can seem extra lengthy when you are the only couple on the dance floor.

Beautiful and tasty, the wedding cake is often a highlight of the reception.

Heidi Umphenour of Blackbird Bakery said local flavors that represent the region are popular wedding cake choices. Flavors like Triple Shot, Three Berry and Lemon Lavender are among couple’s favorites.

Umphenour also said that she’s been asked to bake pies instead of cake. “Some people just don’t like cake,” she said. Again, if a bride and groom adhere to the motto “It’s your day” and one of them prefers pie, why not? She’s also had requests to do dessert buffets, providing guests with choices.

Methia Gordon of Sweet Life Cakery said she likes it when couples think creatively and request interesting cake flavors such as chocolate with raspberry filling. She cautions couples who wish to do different flavors on different cake tiers. Often, guests assume “Great! I get to try both flavors” and instead of having one serving, they have two. This could lead to a cake shortage.

Cupcakes are also a well-liked wedding choice. Amie Lacher and Donna Wharton of Bella Bella Cupcakes said cupcakes are “budget friendly, both in price per serving and by the elimination of slicing and plating fees charged by most venues.” Their popular flavors include Very Vanilla and Vella Red Velvet.

No surprises: discuss if you are going to be a couple who smashes cake on each other’s face or not. Honor your new spouse’s request. You don’t want your first argument as husband and wife to be over smeared icing.

And lastly, remember with an event this involved, something always goes awry. Think of the blips as minor issues. They become your battle scars. They become great stories to tell years later. And really, the most important part of the day was when the two of you said “I do.”

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