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Jeffrey Brown is the Owner and Lead Planner of JaiLynn Events and a proud single father.  Having planned weddings for over thirteen years, his favorite part of the wedding day is still seeing the groom's face when he first sees his bride coming down the aisle.  Connect with Jeffrey Brown via http://www.jailynnevents.com.

Money-Saving Wedding Venue Tips - The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Savings

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You're engaged and checking around at the traditional venues in town.  You're most likely thinking, "Hmmm... can get a little expensive for a room." Sit back and give yourself a minute to think outside the box. There are many options available that might reflect your personal taste and style, cost less, and make a more memorable reception. 

Residential Communities

A lot of residential communities offer recreation/party rooms. In fact, I did a wedding reception in a apartment party room once in the Southwest Waterfront area of Washington, DC. The couple saved so much!  Let's start with their fee; it was just a few hundred dollars. The office included use of the attached kitchen, tables, and really beautiful chairs. To spruce it up a bit, I used white table cloths and went to the fabric store where I bought netting in three colors and used as overlays. I also used colored lights, made fat tulip bouquets for centerpieces, sprinkled contrasting colored petals around the rest of the table, and BAM! A few hundred dollars looked like thousands had been spent. It CAN be just that simple if the budget is really tight. 

Home Sweet Home

Also, consider a house/backyard reception - really! Don't rule out the option because you may be thinking it to be cheap or corny.  Even if not your own house, maybe a relative's or friend's whose backyard is spacious enough can be your wedding site. It does not have to be like in "Father of the Bride" (love the Steve Martin version). Think about it. What could be more personal and intimate? Dress it up by strategically placing floral designs, renting green plants, using simple, elegant dinnerware. These elements will truly transform the space when placed and coordinated just right.

Municipal and Community Treasures

Lastly, local fire house halls, VFW's, and similar type organizations often are available for rent - and are often diamonds in the rough. They can be easily transformed into beautiful settings. A lot of these venues have plenty of free parking for guests and often offer lower alcohol prices and extended hours. 

Faith-Based Buildings

If you are considering, perhaps, church halls, they now are not as strict as they once where. Some permit dancing and even a little wine and or bubbly. A word to the wise and something to consider: Be respectful as far as music at faith-based sites. While I love a little Trina and Two Chainz myself, church receptions won't be the right place for them; there are many acceptable alternate songs out there. (Smiling) Alcohol may be minimal - or nonexistent - here, but, WOW, your pockets would be a little heavier! (By the way, some of the best receptions I have done where ALCOHOL-FREE). Think creatively, think less is more, think it's your day, so it's all about creating something real that will last. 

Thinking outside the box can be challenging in finding your venue. However, it can create a meaningful, symbolic day no one will forget.

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Jeffrey Brown, JaiLynnEvents.com

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Four Reasons Not to DIY

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Photo credit: WorkingBrides.com
While you'll have plenty of projects to "DIY," your wedding day, one of the most important days of your life, may not be one of them. With 13 years in wedding planning, here are my top 4 reasons to enlist the help of a pro and forsake going it alone.
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The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline & Checklist - Part VII (The 2-Week Countdown)

 Photo credit: Photos by Shew Photography (via Nordstrom Weddings)

Note from the Editor:

Greetings, Friends!  

We have reached the finale of The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline series, a tremendously beneficial segment.  Enjoy today's post on the final two weeks leading up to your wedding.  We hope you’ve gleaned much wedding planning know-how during this series from Jeffrey Brown of JaiLynn Events.  The fun doesn’t stop here! We have some super cool posts coming down the pipeline from more bonafide pros in their arena!  Make sure to subscribe to this blog, so you never skip a beat.  Until next time…

Happy planning!

Lauren

P.S.  Jeff, thanks sincerely for partnering with us on this fun + informative series.

2 WEEKS from Your Wedding Day

Final Gown Fitting in Shoes, Headpiece, and Jewelry

  1. Be sure to learn how to bustle your gown.

  2. Make sure your fitting is paid for.

Give Picture List to Photographer of Moments You Must Have Captured

  1. Confirm your package.

  2. Confirm cost of extras.

  3. Do you have proof of availability date?

  4. Discuss final payment amount if there is a balance.

  5. Discuss and confirm start time, day, and location!

Final Steps for DJ:  Give Playlist & Special Songs List + My Tips

  1. Make sure you have heard his work (mixing beats and his ability to hype the guests).

  2. Your DJ can make or break a reception, so:

    1. Discuss the flow of dance music.

    2. Remind If floor clears on a song, he should fade out discreetly and move quickly to another.

    3. Confirm his arrival time and set-up location.

Finalize, Finalize, Finalize - and Re-confirm!

  1. Give final head counts to vendors and get final pricing.

  2. Finalize seating chart and floor plans.  Give copies to all parties concerned.

  3. Write out final checks to vendors.

  4. RE-CONFIRM contracted agreements and schedules with all VENDORS.

    - Remember to confirm your appointment for hair and nails to get done the day-of or before your wedding.

  5. RE-CONFIRM schedule and duties with all WEDDING PARTICIPANTS. (Reference Part II's entry).

  6. Have welcome baskets dropped at hotel for out-of-town guests.

Get Fabulous!

  1. Have a spa day for waxing, facials, etc.

  2. Pick up your wedding dress, and keep away from the Groom!

The Day Before Your Wedding - ONE MORE DAY!

Get Mani & Pedi

Have Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

  1. Give bridal party gifts out at the rehearsal dinner (or at the rehearsal if no dinner is being held).

  2. Give rings to Best Man and Maid or Matron of Honor.

Try Get Some Rest!

YOUR WEDDING DAY!!!

Congratulations!  

You’ve arrived at your big day!  All you probably have left to do in terms of preparation is get your hair done.  The last two items on the agenda?  

GET MARRIED & ENJOY YOUR DAY!

Thank you for going step-by-step with me on the wedding planning journey!  If I can help you plan your big day in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

- Jeffrey Brown

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part VI (2 Months)

Photo credit: Rebecca Moses (ColinCowieWeddings.com)

2 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Note from the Editor:  And the eight-week countdown commences!  Your wedding will be here before you know it.  Take some time to reflect.  You are about to go from “Ms.” to “Mrs.”!  Allow yourself to remember your single journey, embrace it, journal about it, and look forward to your shared future with intention and a heart full of faith, hope, and love.  

I hope you enjoy today’s post from planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown as we near the end of the Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series...  

Happy planning + much love!

Lauren

OK, my Brides and Grooms, we are coming to a close with no time to lose!  Here’s my rundown for the two-month marker from your big day!

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Messina, Flowers by Amy Osaba (Lonny.com)

Set Hair and Makeup Appointments, and Decide on Your Big Day Look!

  1. Bring along your headpiece and jewelry if available.

  2. If possible, make the final appointment for your hair and nails the day before the wedding or day-of, so your hairstyle and manicure are fresh.

  3. If a makeup artist is being used, set the appointment time and location and how many in your party will be utilizing that service.

Meet with Your Officiant, and Confirm Ceremony Details and Guidelines with Vendors & Participants

  1. Musicians and anyone having a part within the ceremony should be met with in order to confirm times, schedules/order, and responsibilities.

  2. Confirm delivery times for florist, bakery, photographer, and any other vendors.

  3. Check lighting with photographers and videographers and their positioning during ceremony.

  4. Know what time will guest be admitted and communicate to responsible parties.

  5. Know the answers to and communicate often forgotten logistics, such as:

    - Where will guestbook be located?

    - Do you have to provide a podium, tables, and other wedding supplies (candelabra, etc.), or does the venue take care of everything you’ll need?

    - What are cleanup/breakdown time factors for  any props?

    - Is there storage available if any items need to be left overnight for picky vendors?  If so, who will handle that at venue and Is there a fee?

Picture of marriage license

 

 

Apply for your Marriage License!

(Can’t be official without this)!

 

Have Completed Programs and Menus Printed

(Your caterer may do menus for you).

  

Plan Hospitality/Welcome Bags or Baskets for Out-of-Town Guests

Maybe you want to keep your theme or you and your intended’s story in mind to personalize the gifts.  Perhaps, you are getting married at a destination location and want to incorporate that somehow in your welcome gift.  Make them fun and inexpensive, but be creative!

Check back soon for the final part in this series!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part V (4 Months)

4 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Note from the Editor:  It’s time for some more fun!!  In this entry, Jeff Brown of JaiLynn Events gives us the goods on the 4-month marker from your big day.  Discover his expert advice on cakes, rehearsal dinners, and the groom’s plus his men’s gear.

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Photo Credit: Lulu Custom Cake Boutique (Westchester County)

Choose and Order Your Cake!

  1. Taste, Taste Taste!

  2. Choose your icing wisely!  Fondants have come a long way, and many are quite tasty and pretty.  Traditional icings like butter cream are still classic and beautiful.  Nowadays, many great decorators can do the most smooth, clean designs using butter cream.

  3. If choosing cupcakes, think of how they will be displayed, who delivers them, the cost of delivery, who will set them up, and if carry-out boxes can be included for those who opt to take their cupcake home.

 

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Photo credit: Kristen Alexander Photography (Piedmont Room, Atlanta)

Plan the Rehearsal Dinner

  1. If budget is a concern, see if your venue offers a package meal.  You may consider a family-style restaurant for cost-effectiveness.

  2. Out of town guest should be invited but if finances are tight it’s not really considered rude to not invite them

  3. Consider a small limited menu  backyard barbeque hosted anywhere but where you will be staying if not at the hotel

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Photo Credit: Steve's Photo Session (Power Unit - AlLFA Design - Affordable Custom-Tailored Clothing)

Choosing Groom's & Groomsmen Attire

  1. Choosing from a large rental chain allows out-of-town groomsmen to get fitted in their hometown, and tuxes can be waiting upon arrival.

  2. When picking up, TRY ON EVERYTHING!  There's always a small size mix-up somewhere. Also, the tux is not usually in the store but close-by in a warehouse, so exchanges typically take a day.

  3. If due back the day after the wedding, designate one person to collect them, inventory each suit bag, and return them all at once.  With this designee's help, any cash deposits can be collected and returned at this time as well.

 

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Photo Credit: Style Me Pretty

Mail invitations!

Note from the Editor:  While it is an acceptable practice for invitations to be mailed 2 months before the wedding, I’d recommend getting them out sooner.  Yes, you may have already sent off the save-the-dates, but earlier notice of details is always best for out-of-town guests.   Make sure to include directionals, registry specs, and any other pertinent info!

Until next time... Happy planning!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part IV (6 Months)

6 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

We're halfway there in our Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series!  We hope you enjoy this entry of key to-do's at the 6-month point!

Send out Save-the-Dates!

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Photo credit: Project Wedding

 

Choose & Order Bridal Party Dresses

(Bridesmaids' dresses, flower girl dress, and look for accessories)

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Photo credit: Bride to Be (AU)

Realize that everyone is not always happy with your choice. They need to get over it, and realize the honor of being chosen! However, do your best to keep body shapes, height, and bridesmaids’ confidence in mind. A size 6, backless, off-the-shoulder may not look as good in a size 18, so consider slightly different designs, which most dressmakers will have.

Remember to get a swatch of dress colors for shoe shopping and vendors!

 

Book Honeymoon

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Catch a Falling Star Resort, Negril, Jamaica - Photo credit: GetWedforLess.com

Here are my honeymoon quick tips:

- Get travel and cancellation insurance.  (You NEVER know what may happen; it's better to be safe than sorry).

- Check for discounts via different airport departures.

- Confirm any immunizations or special documents needed if leaving the country.

- Book to leave for your honeymoon the day after the wedding or later - you’ll need the rest! 

- Check for all-inclusive couples resorts for great deals.

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part II (10 Months)

10 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Start Shopping for YOUR Gown 

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Credit: Inviting Luxury

Here are my big tips  and considerations as you shop for YOUR dress

- LIMIT WHO GOES DRESS SHOPPING WITH YOU - You’re excited, and you want opinions, but too many voices can confuse and frustrate you.

- You may have an idea of what you want, but don’t close your mind!  Often, once trying on gowns, your taste and vision of what you really want will change.

- White, off-white, ivory, or splashes of color?  Try them all see what works for your skin tone. Also, keep the lighting of your venue and color scheme of wedding in mind - it does make a difference in your overall look.

- Chain stores have many sizes to try on different gown styles. More upscale boutiques often have similar or the wrong size gowns, and you don’t always get to try the different styles and colors, feel the weight of the gown, and see how the gown flows.  Even if you are not buying from a chain store, go and try on styles and colors.  Most likely, they will have a dress close to the dress you envision or saw at another shop but wasn’t available in your size.

- DO NOT BUY A DRESS BECAUSE YOU LIKE IT! Crazy right? Think again! When you find your wedding gown, you’ll know it because you will get emotional. TRUST ME, I KNOW after years of seeing it. If you don’t feel something from a slight warming or heart flutter to all out tears of joy, DON’T BUY IT! You will only end up buying another one - being stuck with the one you “liked” since it’s non-refundable.

- Discuss alterations, fittings, cost, and pressing of your gown. Also, check if special undergarments are needed.

- Ask for a swatch of fabric matching your bridesmaids' gown and yours (particularly if your gown is accented with any color). With it, you can match colors with your venue's decor, napkins, sashes, etc.

Let’s Choose our Bridal Party! 

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Credit: Boogietek Photo+Cinema

Your bridal party are the dependable, time-conscious friends and family who can handle any associated financial responsibility.

The general guideline is one bridesmaid and one groomsman per 50 guests. No one really wants to watch 20 people come down the aisle before you. It’s your day - keep it centered on you.

Don't forget your supporting cast! Choose at least 2 ushers. Females commonly serve as ushers. Select an MC for the reception. This is a fun, easy-going, and outgoing person who announces wedding party members and transition moments during your event. The MC also keeps speech-givers within designated time-frames. Guaranteed, someone always has something extra long to say!

- Note from the Editor: Another option for an MC may be your DJ. DJs usually serve dual roles at a very nominal - or already included - rate. 

Choose Wedding Planning Pro! 

Now’s a great time to book your wedding wedding if you haven’t already. 

WHY:

1) They know the ins-and-outs to guide you through the planning details.

2) They often can negotiate with vendors better than you.

3) They have the time, knowledge, and skills to coordinate the details, vendors, handle concerns at venues, as well as receive packages, etc.

4) I can go on and on about the benefits of a professional, but I’ll sum it up:  

We keep you less stressed! 

You cannot effectively coordinate the day-of and be radiant and relaxed when you walk down the aisle.

Choose Your Officiant 

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Credit: Wedding 411

- Keep in mind, your officiant navigates the ceremony, so choose carefully and consult often. Utilize your officiant’s knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

- Discuss music, any readings, as well as any religious requirements (if applicable).

- Ask questions on vows. For instance, did you know it’s no longer required for you to say “love, honor and obey,” so some couples have substituted the phrase with “cherish?”

- Lastly, don’t leave questions until the last-minute.

Start Searching & Booking the Rest of Your Vendors

We already mentioned Venue, Officiant, DJ/MC, and Boutique, but let's not forget  your Florist, Baker, Caterer, Photographer (+ Photo Booth?), Videographer or Cinematographer, & any needed Event Rentals & Supplies.  Search through the vendor categories here under Online and Local on GetWedforLess.com to see if you forgot anything - or anyone!

Note from the Editor: Another fabulous entry from planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown! Make sure to check out Jeff's recent post: "There’s no such thing as a dumb question..."  It's a great reminder about why not to neglect to ask anything of wedding vendors, and it can save you money and headache later. Also, may I also recommend one of our most popular blogs? "The Right Dress For Your Body" by fashion blogger Lisa Tran of T. Rose International Bridal Shows has a wealth of helpful tips for your search!

Happy planning!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part I (12 Months)

Note from the Editor:  This has got to be the most helpful blog series on wedding planning timelines!  Jeffrey Brown has broken everything down into bite-sized pieces - from the necessary post-engagement conversations through to culmination - the wedding day!  Because each segment of the timeline accompanies wonderful detail, Jeff will share the goods piece-by-piece over the next couple of weeks.  Today, he unveils the what would ideally be completed a year before the big day.  Enjoy, take notes, and pass it on!  Thanks for joining!  - Lauren

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Credit: The Peninsula, NY - Salon de Ning

In this Ultimate Wedding Timeline, I’m sharing what I walk through with my brides and grooms.  We’ll use the timeline with key milestones to get you to wedding day ready!

12 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Guest List Drafted

- Parents on both sides always have people they want present. Within reason, accept who can you - especially if they are contributing financially.  

Credit: Simply Bridal

 

Money Talks

- Talk all the money details over with your intended to make sure you’re on the same page (see “I’m Engaged! Now What?" blog).  Meet with both sets of parents and other contributing parties to confirm who is contributing what before the bills descend like the monkeys from the Wizard of Oz on Dorothy!

Credit:  The Wizard of Oz, Warner Bros., 1939

Venue(s)? CHECK! 

-  Get your venues booked! While on the hunt, keep in mind that venues set the tone, size, and cost. Be sure they can accommodate your guest count.

More on Venues:

 - Venues can affect your color scheme. I recommend choosing 3 colors, 2 primary, and an accent that go well with your sites.

 - Your wedding day timeline (and wedding vendor travel) can be affected depending on the distance between your two venues.  Make sure the distance is not too much for you and your guests and that it won't increase your fees to vendors later.

 - If your venue is not for lodging, check with the venue on nearby hotels to accommodate out-of-town guests.  You may want reserve a block of rooms.

- Parking, public transportation, handicap accessibility, and security are important considerations for your guest. Check with the venue or your wedding planner on these items to make sure proper accommodations are made.

Stay tuned for the 10-month prep to help you stay on-track with your wedding date!

 

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I'm Engaged! Now What? - First Steps for Newly Engaged Couples

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CONGRATULATIONS!

As a wedding planner for some thirteen years, I'd recommend the first thing you and your fiancee do is determine is the type and size of the ceremony and reception you both desire and can afford.  A big mistake I see is assuming that the groom has no ideas.  Often the groom's input is not expected - or accepted.  Times have changed - more grooms are taking an active role in wedding planning.

Set a time to sit down and discuss these key preliminary items:

  1. The Timing:  How long of an engagement will you have?  When do you want to get married?
  2. The Budget:  What can you realistically afford -- without going into debt?  Note from the Editor:  Check back next week for step-by-step budget creation!
  3. The Tab:  Who is actually going to pay for what?  It's no longer considered to be the parents of the bride's sole responsibility; although, they do often contribute along with the groom's family.
  4. The List:  Who is really important to you that you must have as a part of your day?  Make a physical list of names. 
  5. The Must-Haves:  What are must-haves for your wedding day?  Are there specific flowers?  Perhaps a certain type of limousine?  Remember:  This day is all about you two!

After the financial aspect is agreed upon and your budget is set, it's time to meet with a wedding planner.  Of course, you can do much of the task on your own; however, most wedding planners often have connections for discounts on venues and many other vendors and can assure you of quality products and services.  Even more, keeping you as stress-free as possible is a top priority!  Honestly, while a wedding seems simple and easy to plan the details, coordination of vendors & TIMING is everything.

Keep in mind your "perfect day" is about your declaration of love and your expressions in front of those honored loved ones you desire to share the day with!

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