Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Party

Chicago Wedding Planner SouthWind Events bride and bridesmaids in gold sequin gowns. Photograph taken by J Lauryn Photography on the rooftop of the Ivy Hotel Chicago.Photo credit: J Lauryn Photography

Eenie, meenie, minee, moe, catch a piggy by the toe….

Maybe I’m aging myself here, but as a child, this was one of the ways we picked teams when playing outside with our friends.  It seemed to keep it fair & random, with the least chance of someone getting their feelings hurt (although there was always one person who seemed to find an issue because they didn’t get picked).

While that childhood trick worked for choosing teams, it’s not the best idea for choosing your wedding party, your team for your big day.   Instead, here are a few tips for choosing your crew of guys or gals to serve as your bridesmaids, groomsmen, or attendants and strive to reach your #SquadGoals.

Size really does matter!

Can you image attending a wedding with 50 guests and the wedding party has 10 people on each side?  That’s 22 people in the wedding party….almost half the guest list! Half the guests are seated; the other half standing upfront. Crazy visual right? You also have to consider your venue.  If you’ve chosen a small venue, you have to consider how it will look to have a large wedding party all standing across the front on your space.  As amazing as those dresses or suits might be, there will be a point when it will be too crowded to appreciate them, and you will just be another speck in the clutter, rather than the center of attention.

Start with your siblings

If you & your spouse-to-be have siblings, especially ones that you’re close to, consider allowing them to stand with you.  Chances are, these are the people who have known you the longest, and maybe, even know you the best. And, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixing it up. Ladies, let your brother be bridesman. Guys, let your sister be a groomslady.Chicago Wedding Planner SouthWind Events bride and bridemaids in blue robes. Photograph taken by J Lauryn Photography.                                                                                                     Photo credit: J Lauryn Photography

Think first, ask later

You’ve known each other forever.  Been there through thick & thin.  Love each like family.   They’re a shoe-in, right?  Well….you know they desperately want to be married, like to make things about themselves and tend to be overly selfish.  They interject their opinion whether requested or not and always want to have their way.   You know they can be fickle and sometimes just don’t show up when they say they will, but when they do show up, they are a great time! The point here is, you know your friends/family.  You know their strengths and weaknesses, pain points and struggles.  Your wedding will not make these go away.  So after you’ve made your list, take some time to think it over and make sure you are ok with dealing with all their quirks during (what can be) a very stressful time.  Because once you ask and they say yes, it’s really hard to go back and undo that.

Know who/what you’re working with

Before you send out those proposal boxes, look at your list and consider each person’s personality.  How well will they get along?  Certainly, they don’t have to be besties, but if one person on your list has a much stronger, even abrasive, personality and tends to rub people the wrong way, it’s a potential set up for drama & stress – neither of which you want, and should absolutely avoid if you can.Chicago Wedding Planner SouthWind Events groom and groomsmen in blue suits. Photograph taken by J Lauryn Photography on the rooftop of the Ivy Hotel Chicago.                                                                                                      Photo credit: J Lauryn Photography

Consider what you need going in

What do you think a wedding party is supposed to do? What are they responsible for?  Do you need/expect them to provide emotional support, attend every event you plan, host huge showers/parties for you, go shopping, venue/vendor scouting, or wherever else with you, spend an undetermined amount of money?  If you’re a DIY person & want help from your squad, are they crafty?   Will you be able to pay for their attire, hair, makeup, shoes, & jewelry?  Or will they have to incur some/all of that cost?   Think about what you need & want from your party, and be sure to communicate these expectations (up front) to those you invite to stand with you – allowing them to make a fully informed decision.

Chicago Wedding Planner SouthWind Events bridal party wedding party in blue suits and gold sequin dresses. Photograph taken by J Lauryn Photography.Photo credit: J Lauryn Photography

Remember these not hard & fast rules. At the end of the day, you choose who takes this wedding planning journey with you, and ultimately stands who beside you on your big day.  None of these are hard and fast rules.  So be mindful, be honest, and remember….this is YOUR DAY!

Happy Planning!

For details on the wedding featured above, check out our blog post here.

Check out our blog 5 Things to Discuss Before You Get Married for insight on how to start your marriage off right, or check out our blog home page for more tips, tricks & insight from your #WeddingPlanningCoach.
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3 Things That Will Affect Your Wedding Budget

Your budget is one of the first things that you should sit down and discuss when planning your wedding. It also has the potential to cause the most stress during the planning process. Below are 3 things that could significantly affect your wedding budget and add to your wedding planning stress – location, time of year, and guest count.

1. Where you wed. The location of your wedding and reception will play a huge role in the creation of your wedding budget. Well-known venues or those that are located in popular areas will generally charge more than smaller venues or those outside of major cities. Venues also have different packages and policies that you’ll need to consider. For example, some venues might require you to use their vendors, some of which might not fit into your budget. Many venues also have minimum headcount requirements for catering that may exceed your guest list. It’s important to look at the average cost of the cities and venues in your area before you make a final decision on where you want to celebrate your marriage.

2. Time of the year. Wedding seasons make a huge difference in cost. Planning to get married on a Saturday in the summer? There’s a good chances are you’re going to end up paying a lot more for your wedding. Review your budget and see how it fits within the venue and location you have in mind. Then, consider hosting your wedding in another season or on another day of the week to save on costs. Fridays & Sundays have become more popular, cost saving options. Vendors might also be able to offer you discounts for off-peak days and seasons.

3. Guest count. This is the one area that can easily get out of hand. Between both of your families, your friends, coworkers, and parents’ “suggestions”, your guest count can skyrocket before you know it. The fact is, your guest count is going to consume the largest part of your wedding budget. So it pays to be strategic about who you’re inviting. Most venues will charge you for everything from food, drinks, & cake even to the chair your guest will be sitting on. So think twice about inviting that aunt you haven’t seen in 3 years or that friend from high school you haven’t spoken to in 10. Sit down with you’re your spouse-to-be and agree on how many guests you want to invite and stick to it!

If you truly want to hold firm to your wedding budget and not be knee deep in debt when you get back from your honeymoon, carefully plan your finances before you even begin planning your wedding. Working with a wedding planner can also be an asset, as they should be able to help you find more cost effective options and keep you on track financially.

Check out our blog You’re Engaged, Now What? for more tips on what to do before you start planning your big day. For even more, check out our blog home page.

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5 Things to Discuss Before You Get Married

5 Things to Discuss Before You Get Married

If there’s one thing you should know about SouthWind Events, it’s that we care about marriage – healthy, successful, long-term marriage. Yes, the wedding is a beautiful experience where we celebrate the joining of two lives, but it’s just one day. The marriage, however, is expected to be “until death separates” you. As such, we believe that more effort should be put into planning the marriage than planning the wedding.

It’s no secret that marriage can be challenging. There will be good days & not so good days. One of the keys to success, though, is open and honest communication. This communication, though, can’t wait to start after the wedding. As a couple, it’s imperative that you talk about certain things before the wedding to make sure that you’re starting your life together on the same page, on a united front. Some choose to go to premarital counseling to address these things; others don’t. Regardless of where it happens, there are a few topics every couple should discuss before saying I Do. So let’s discuss a few of them (in no particular order).

MONEY

I know this is the probably the hardest of all those we will discuss, but it’s likely the most important. You & your partner should discuss income, spending habits, existing debt, and credit scores (including why your score is what it is). You should also discuss financial goals & strategies, such as budgeting, savings, and joint or separate bank accounts. This is not a time to be ashamed or to only share partial truths. This is also not a time to be judgmental, condescending, or non-supportive. Whatever financial state you’re in, you & your partner should support each other and be prepared to work to build a future together using two basic steps: (1) identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses to help maximize your financial success, and (2) establish a plan for how your bills will be paid and how you will support your plans and goals for the future. You’ve each managed your money, your way until now, but these two simple steps will set you several steps ahead of the game, even before you’ve officially been united as one.

PLANS & DESIRES

We often have goals and plans for our lives that we carry in our hearts but don’t always articulate. Not sharing these can lead to unmet expectations and resentment. But…if you never share these desires with your partner, it’s unfair to hold them accountable for not meeting them. So take some time and talk about these types of questions: Do you want children? If so, how many? Do you have any desire to live in another city, state, or country? Do want to own a home or condo or do you simply want to rent? What are your professional goals? Do you want to travel – domestically or internationally? What do you enjoy sexually? What are your fantasies (or what do you want to try)? How frequently do you want/need to have sex? Depending on your personality, some of these might make you a little uncomfortable, but if you can’t be uncomfortable & vulnerable with your future spouse, with whom else can you be?

ROLES

Gender and spousal roles are another one of those things we carry in our heart that can lead to unmet expectations…..and unnecessary conflict. Talk about who should take out the trash, who will cook most often, who will care for the kids. How do you plan to offer support to your future spouse as it relates to caring for your home & family? What do you expect your spouse to do? What seems obvious to you, or like a “given”, may be dramatically different than what your partner expects. So think about it, do some self reflection and share it with your partner.

PARENTING

How to raise children can cause almost as much conflict in a marriage as money. Everything from when & how to discipline, to food choices, to schools/education, appropriate age to start dating, and even religion… all these things (and more) are areas where parents need to be on one accord. Talk about how you were each raised and what you want to replicate or dismiss. If either of you comes into the marriage with children from a previous relationship, it is especially important for you to discuss what “permissions” your new spouse will have. Can they discipline your child? Can they reward your child? Should your child go to your spouse with issues that they would have previously come to you with? What should your child call your new spouse? How’s your relationship with the child’s other biological parent & how will that relationship extend to and impact your new spouse? What’s their relationship with each other? The decisions made in this conversation will need to be communicated to your child(ren). This way, the entire family unit has a clear understanding of the new family dynamics.

VALUES

This is a very broad topic, but it is essential to discuss those things that you hold as intrinsic beliefs, morals and values. When choosing to start a life together, it’s important to understand (and ideally agree on) those values that you & your partner hold dear. What’s your view on faith/religion? How do you view and treat people of different races, social classes, and sexual preferences? Do you generally operate with integrity? Do you treat people with compassion & respect? Do you dismiss people that are “beneath” you? What about politics? How do you react when you get angry? Stressed? Sad/depressed? The scope is broad, but necessary…and certainly not limited to this short list. There’s a quote that reads “values reflect what is important to the way you live and work.” As you begin your new journey together, make sure that your values align in such a way that you can both live & work together to build a peaceful & meaningful life.

I know there’s a lot to chew on here, and there may be some things that you will have to reflect on and evaluate individually first; other things may be easy. Either way, your marital success is directly tied to your ability to communicate – clearly, honestly, & candidly. Remember, too, that you’re two people with two different perspectives and life experiences. So as much as you much communicate, you will also need to COMPROMISE. You both can’t get your way all the time, and you both can’t be right. However, working together, you can find a middle ground that you will work for you as a couple to make your marriage a success. So, be open. Be honest. Be flexible. Be willing to compromise.

Until next time…..

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You’re Engaged!!! Now What??


CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!

How exciting is it to start this journey toward married life? And of course, planning your big day! The days, weeks & months to come will be filled with tons of ideas, countless social media images, and non-stop suggestions from well-intentioned loved ones. BUT….before you get caught up in the whirlwind of it all, there are a few things you & your future spouse should do first.

1. STOP, BREATHE & TAKE IT ALL IN
Getting engaged is such an exciting moment that often comes with a flood of emotions. After the initial joy of “yes”, a new wave of joy and excitement comes each time you share the news with family and friends. The days and weeks following your engagement are a time for you both to take in all the love & positive energy around you & bask in the glow of the next phase of your relationship, because the truth is, -ish is about to get real! So take your time. Don’t rush and start planning right away. Take a few weeks to breathe & relish in the realization that you’re getting married!!

2. SET A BUDGET
Once you’re settled in your excitement, the next step is to shift to the practical, and sometimes challenging, discussion about finances. Before you look at a single color palette, dress, tux, venue or flower, look at your money! Your wedding is an incredible moment in your life. You want it to be perfect and all that you’ve dreamt of. However, every piece of that dream comes with a price tag. So before you start planning, work with your partner (and anyone else who may be contributing) to figure out what you can reasonably afford. Be honest with yourself. Be realistic about your income, savings & spending habits. The truth is, your wedding is just one day, but your marriage is meant to be a lifetime. So set a manageable max spending limit that doesn’t put you into debt. You don’t want to spend so much for your wedding that you’re still paying for it 5 or 10 years into your marriage. As a couple, your goal should be to build a life, not just a day.

3. IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES – MUST HAVES & NON-NEGOTIABLES
Every wedding with a budget (regardless of the size of that budget) has to make choices in the context of their monetary limitations. With those limits comes the need to prioritize your purchases. Are pictures/video most important? Ambiance? The food? The party? Identify your top 3-4 must haves. Once you come to an agreement (with compromise, as necessary), you’ll have created guidelines for where to allocate your funds moving forward. For example, if you have a choice between spending $3000 on a cake or that same $3000 on a DJ, and you’ve agreed that a great party is a must have, then your decision is easy and you invest accordingly. Now, your priorities can change as you progress through the planning process, but both parties should agree on the changes. Unilateral changes to a mutual agreement could lead to more significant issues later (but that’s a whole other topic). So stick to the original agreement, unless you both want to make a change, and let this drive the how you invest the funds within your budget to make your day perfect.

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