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What the Pros Know: Expert Wedding Advice

Tips for making your big day the best ever.
Alysha Witwicki

Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life (no pressure!), so it’s no surprise that advice runneth over. These days, your choices are limitless. From themes and color schemes to desserts and dresses, there’s tons of information out there to help make your wedding uniquely yours. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled all the tips and trends from top experts across the state to make your wedding planning easier and a lot more fun.

Wedding Planning

“We recommend clients schedule a 10- to 15-minute period of downtime after their ceremony, as the day goes by so quickly. Having a quiet moment to soak it all in is always wonderful.” —Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker, planners/owners, Cherry Blossom Events, Madison

“While we love Pinterest, don’t use it to completely plan your wedding. Take inspiration from your own unique style and plan a wedding that reflects what you love about your relationship. Who knows, maybe your wedding could be the fresh inspiration for someone else!” —Elizabeth Webber, designer and chief style officer, Coqui Paperie, Brookfield

“Don’t jump into a date or a venue. Talk with many professionals (especially ones you know you want to work with) beforehand.” —Alliey Kline-Weichelt, planner/owner, sash&bow, Green Bay

“We are over very rustic looks like mason jars and wood slices. While we still love touches of rustic, we prefer to mix it with modern elements for a more eclectic aesthetic. We are also over the ombré trend when used in a very obvious way, but still love working with multiple shades of the same color.” —Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker


“When you’re thinking about food for your wedding, it’s good to be aware of the many options you have. It’s helpful to have a vision and know the practical parts of it, like how many people you’re expecting and what meal style/theme you’re interested in. Are you looking to create something casual or more formal? Take the time to think about the experience you want to provide for your guests.” —Tracy Darling, president, Heirloom Kitchen Company, Brillion

“A lot of people say the caterer is the thing you should book last. This is the biggest chunk of the bill, so you should plan this earlier—not necessarily because you will lose out on the date, but it helps tremendously when you are planning your budget.” —David Porto, owner and director of sales, Blue Plate Catering, Madison


“Be mindful of who you are bringing with you [when dress shopping]. Too many opinions are sometimes too many opinions. At the end of the day, it’s your dress and experience. Bringing too many guests can take away from that experience.” —Christina Alexander Wegner, founder and owner, White Dress Bridal Boutique, Milwaukee

“Come in with some ideas, but also come in with an open mind—50 to 60 percent of clients leave the store with something they didn’t expect. Brides don’t really know what they want until they start trying things on.” —Tammy Linaberry, sales manager, Vera’s House of Bridals, Madison

“Find a nice subtle way to tie the groom to the bridesmaids and groomsmen, but make sure the groom stands out from the pack. One easy way to tie everyone together is to have the groom wear a pocket square in his coat matching the wedding party [colors].” —Dave Stotesbery, store manager, Nedrebo’s Formal Wear, various Wisconsin locations

“You only have one day in your life to wear a veil. Wear a veil.” —Christina Alexander Wegner


“Guest table décor makes the biggest statement and is the best way to spend your budget. Do not get carried away with accent table décor—those tables are often on the outside of the room and have the least foot traffic. Reception spaces with the biggest impact have arrangements at varying heights. Even adding just a few tall arrangements can make the space feel twice as grand. P.S. Don’t forget the candles.”—Sally Vander Wyst, owner, Milwaukee Flower Co., Milwaukee

“Trust your vendors! Most of the time you’re going to get the best and most beautiful product by giving them a little bit of design freedom. We love to find that one little piece of magic that wasn’t necessarily in the floral plan but totally makes the floral palette.” —Katie Cubberley & Kayla Falk, managers, daffodil * parker, Madison


“The most stylish events pull together many pieces that, at first glance or alone, don’t seem to pair perfectly—but when grouped together, they feed off each other to create a dramatic and inspiring feel. In other words, unexpected yet carefully curated pieces create a cohesive event, and make all the difference. These custom and unique details help create the guest experience.” —Jan Oelke, owner and founder, Relics Vintage Rentals, Milwaukee

“So often we hear after weddings that couples wish they had rented more of their décor for the day. Buy pieces you want to keep in your life, but rent the rest.” —Sarah Mullins, co-founder, A La Crate Vintage Rentals, Monona


“Your invitation should reflect your wedding [theme], so it stays cohesive from start to finish. If you’re going for a barn wedding, you don’t want to have a classic engraved invitation. If you’re having a classic wedding, you don’t want fireflies on your invitation. You don’t want it to be confusing for your guests.” —Debbie Pape, owner, Paper Envy, Elm Grove

“Handmade paper is my favorite trend. It’s so luxurious and can be used in so many ways for anything, from traditional to rustic to glam weddings. While we absolutely love handmade paper letter-pressed, it can also be printed digitally and can have watercolor or foil elements added.” —Elizabeth Webber, designer and chief style officer, Coqui Paperie, Brookfield


“Don’t pick too many slow songs, and if you have more eclectic taste in music, keep in mind that your guests may not. One idea that has become more popular lately is to ask your guests for a song request in the invitation. If you do this, when you get these back, compile their suggestions, pick out the songs that are most danceable and pass them along to your DJ. Also, trust your DJ to advise and help you. They should be a knowledgeable professional.” —Alton Olson, owner, SoundFire DJ, Green Bay

“Do online research and read reviews to get a general sense of who a DJ is. Pick your top three and, if you can, meet them in person. Those meetings tell you about the company, the vibe, the style and who is behind the operations.” —Torie Gamez, director of operations, Sound By Design, Shorewood


“All-inclusive destination weddings are a huge trend. When I was starting 11 years ago, I maybe had one or two destinations weddings, and the average group size traveling was about 15 people. Nowadays I average 15 to 20 weddings a year with some group sizes of 200 or more, all traveling to a sunny beach to vacation with the wedding couple.” —Shannon Rae Grunewald, travel specialist, Blissful Honeymoons & Destination Weddings, Madison

“When couples decide to go to a honeymoon location that is new to both of them, they are able to experience new things together. It’s a great bonding experience and a great way to start something new as Mr. and Mrs. As far as where to go, focus on whether you want to be more active or relaxed or a combination of both. That will help you narrow down a destination.” —Alyssa Dial, brand manager, Lovin’ Away, a division of LaMacchia Travel Agency, Kenosha

“Your wedding day is a special and memorable time in your life, so why shouldn’t your honeymoon be treated the same? If you Google ‘Where should I go on my honeymoon?’ you most likely find an ‘internet slot machine’ of options. Work with a romance travel specialist who will learn your personalities and honeymoon vision. If you’re not sure what your vision is, a travel specialist has the expertise to help you figure it out. From there they’ll be able to make customized recommendations based on your honeymoon vision and budget.” —Shannon Rae Grunewald

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