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Ask the Experts: Spring/Summer 2019

For your big day, consult the people who know best.
Claire Swinarski

Decisions, decisions! Sophisticated city setting or rustic rural venue? How to decide which food to serve or music to play? Go to the people who know best: the vendors who help make these choices every day.

When it comes to wedding planning, there’s plenty of advice floating around. But instead of checking out blogs or perusing Pinterest, it’s often most helpful to reach out to the experts. Wedding vendors frequently tackle up to 20 to 30 weddings a year, making them an incredible source of knowledge.

Here are five wedding experts and their advice for your big day.

Get Your Best Photos

Heather Cook Elliott, Heather Cook Elliott Photography:
For your dress to be as flattering as possible, have your fitting close to the wedding day. Almost every bride loses a little weight due to nerves and excitement in the week before, and we too often find that the bride spends a lot of the wedding day tugging at her dress. Similarly, make sure to go to your final fitting with all of your undergarments—it will make a difference, and you don’t want any surprise panty lines on the wedding day.

Resist the urge to use the bridesmaid and bride bouquets as head table décor. By the time those flowers get to the reception, they’ve been out of water for hours, in the sun, and often set down in many different locations—they won’t photograph well.

Speaking of head tables, consider a round head table placed in the middle of the floor. If the bride and groom are against a glass wall or a wall with doors, guests can’t see as well due to backlighting, and although your photographer can work around it, Grandma might not be able to. Also, a head table in the middle of the room allows photographers to shoot through candlelight, flowers, and the architecture to really capture the feeling of your reception.

Putting It All Together

Melissa Shaw, MKSocial:
Hire a planner—there are so many moving parts, people to manage and things to set up. So many couples say hiring a planner was the best decision they made for their wedding day, even if they thought they didn’t need one at first.

Be detailed. Your planner only knows as much as you tell them. Most can think creatively on the fly, but the fewer surprises before your wedding, the better.

Take time on the wedding day to be alone with your future spouse. Whether that’s during a first look, right after the ceremony, a private meal or a ride together at the end of the night, it’s important to simply look at each other and soak in the feeling of being married.

Song and Dance

Geoffrey Sandler, Celebrations Entertainment:
Understand that your guests have a wide range of musical tastes. Choosing the right DJ who knows how to read a crowd and play the perfect song at the perfect time instead of clinging to a playlist will make the most difference in the success of your reception.

This is your wedding day, and words speak volumes. Any vendor that describes your reception as a “show” or “gig” does not grasp the importance of the day, and likely won’t create the personalization for your event to be unique. Choose vendors who are in it for the right reasons and understand how important your wedding day is.

The prices you pay for your wedding vendors are a direct reflection of the service and quality you receive. Just like anything else, “cheap” and “great” don’t usually go together. The right vendor will spend time, energy and resources to make sure everything is perfect, and that will be reflected in the cost.

Moving Pictures

Cindy Johnson, Sweet Pea Cinema:
Prioritize experience over things. Cameras really focus on moments—big and small, happy and sad, fun and serious. Your wedding is a day for family and friends to gather, often from faraway places. Moments mean so much more than any image of a pretty table setting.

Be realistic about time. Being strategic about your timeline, whether that’s having a first look or keeping video portrait locations nearby, is essential. It’s all about enjoying every moment and spending as much time as possible with all the people you love.

Don’t forget about audio. It’s the biggest distinguishing factor among videographers. How many participants will they mike for the ceremony? Do they have extra sources of “audio capture” in case of a problem with the main feed? If a prospective videographer can’t answer these questions, that’s a red flag.

Florals and More

Sally Vander Wyst, Milwaukee Flower Co.:
Couples should think about décor as one budget. Flowers, lighting, and linens make a huge impact on the vibe of the space. They can transform the look and feel of your wedding day.

Think about your guest experience. How do you want guests to feel when they walk into a space? What do you envision for your guest experience? The answer can help florists create that feeling they’re trying to achieve with floral arrangements.

Hire experts when it comes to wedding vendors and let them run with your vision. A knowledgeable, professional florist will execute beyond your wildest dreams, and a little trust goes a long way.

The Food of Love

Dan Nowak, Tall Guy and a Grill:
Before you meet with any caterer, make a list of favorite local restaurants that you and your fiancé frequent, as well as any family food traditions you’d like to incorporate into the menu. Food is one of the best ways to express yourself at your wedding, so take the time to make sure it’s exactly what you want.

Talk to your wedding party and immediate family members to determine if any of them have special dietary restrictions. Your caterer needs to know about these in advance. Your venue may well lack a fully stocked kitchen, and the caterer only has the food you ordered with them.

Be sure to ask your caterer and bartender if they are fully insured and licensed; the same goes for wedding venues and bar service. Also ask them if it’s legal to serve alcohol at their venue, if they have a liquor license, and if there are any on-site restrictions that vendors need to be aware of.

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