wedding planning advice

Guest Post: How to Figure Out Your Wedding Catering & Food

Image: Leo Druker

Rebecca is back today with another wedding planning guest post – bringing you the tips, tricks, insight, and advice on how to choose the type of food to serve at your wedding. You will spend THE BIGGEST part of your budget on food (most likely), so it’s certainly one of the biggest decisions and can sometimes be one of the hardest. Unless you are dead set on a specific type of cuisine, I remember thinking only, “I just want something good that isn’t horribly fancy or expensive”. Not all that specific. So Rebecca is here to help you decide what to serve at your wedding!

How to Figuring Out Food for Your Wedding | By: Rebecca

If you are anything like me, food is an essential part of your daily life. For me, the best part of any vacation, party, or special occasion is whenever there’s something truly fantastic and delicious to eat. When you’re lucky enough to live in a city like D.C., you have access to some of the best food in the world. Don’t just take my word for it – ask Bon Appetit, who named us the Restaurant City of the Year in 2016!

It makes sense that food was at the top of both me and my fiancee’s “must have” list. It was important to both of us that our wedding have tasty food and plenty of it. We also knew that food would be a major part of our somewhat limited budget, so we wanted to find a solution that was both delicious and economical.

Here are a few things to consider when crafting your wedding menu:

  • What do you like to eat? You are going to be allocating a fair bit of your wedding funds to food (a good rule of thumb is 30%-40% of your budget) – you need to make sure this is food you’ll enjoy eating! Don’t worry too much about what the “traditional” wedding menu should be – if you and your partner enjoy eating it or it’s meaningful to the both of you, your guests will enjoy it as well!
  • Consider venue and time of day – Your reception time is going to dictate what will work best for menu. If you’re considering getting married earlier in the day, a brunch or luncheon style menu might work better than five course meal. Conversely, if you’re getting married later in the evening, you might forgo a buffet and stick with a cocktail-style reception. Also, your venue lay-out might lend itself best to food stations versus a sit-down dinner or have a great space for food trucks to park and serve.
  • Think about what’s seasonal and local. You’ll ultimately have fresher food at a better price point if you consider what will be in season when you get married and what’s local to the region. Talk to your food vendor about what their most popular items are – if it’s something they make and prepare regularly, it’s likely going to be priced economically.
  • Find a caterer/restaurant/chef you trust. This is true of every vendor you work with for your wedding but especially for catering. Make sure you’re working with a food vendor who is upfront about costs (including rentals and staffing), is willing to work with you as a team to craft your event, and is approved by your venue. We chose our caterer primarily because they were the first to actually read our initial email and make suggestions based on what we wanted, not on what they were trying to sell us.
  • To cake or not to cake? For some people, cake is a non-negotiable part of a wedding – but it can also be a costly addition. If you are going to have cake and worried about the cost, consider using a smaller cake for the cake-cutting and a sheet cake for serving to guests. You might consider doing a mini-cake bar with a selection of smaller cakes from your grocery store or Costco, to allow for more variety at a lower cost. And don’t be afraid to ditch the cake. There are so many wonderful dessert alternatives out there and your caterer will likely be able to help you find something that fits your style. For our wedding, that means doughnuts (District Doughnuts, of course!) and gelato!
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Tips & Advice On Building A Ritual-Free, Personalized Wedding Ceremony

Guys! Our Bride to Be guest blogger, Kelsey, will no longer be a bride-to-be in just 5 short days!!! Her big day is Saturday and I cannot wait to help it go off! I hope Kelsey will write more after, but for now, we share some of her last posts! First up, her thoughts on creating a custom & personalized wedding ceremony. Take it away Kelsey!

How to Create a Personalized & Custom Wedding Ceremony | By: Kelsey

When it comes to the ceremony, it’s kind of a big deal, even though it may be the shortest part of the evening. This part of the evening is important because it’s the actual act of getting hitched, wooo! But depending on your situation, it can also be a minefield to plan because people have a lot of feelings about rituals and ceremonies.

We aren’t getting married in a church and since moving to DC we don’t really have a consistent place of worship so the first order of business was to find an offiiciant.  The internet has a zillion options and we had a handful of friends who we talked about asking. Where to start?

I’m going to tell you something very important about the ceremony: ask your parents. Sure you can make your own choices about dinner, music, even your dress, but the ceremony carries this weird importance that us unmarried people don’t understand. I had no idea how much importance my parents put on my ceremony, and I’m glad they told me, because I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Now, you’re crafting the ceremony. The officiant is all ‘what rituals do you plan on doing?’ and automatically my mind goes –

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to pour sand into a glass or light a candle and call it magical. I don’t want to release butterflies or doves, because it’s just messy. It’s not my thing. Getting married is my thing, that’s what I’m here to do. So be honest with yourself and your officiant and say what you want. If you want to read your own vows, do it! If you want your dog to walk you down the aisle, do it! If you want to tie your hands in some sort of Houdini slash Irish tradition, well, do it!

Listen, I’m learning in planning this thing that you are going to make more decisions and think about the tiniest things ever you never thought mattered. Let this 20 minutes of the day matter. They’re important. They’re why you’re doing this. When the wine stops pouring, the dances are over, you’re going to remember looking into your love’s eyes when you said ‘I do.’

What I’ve Learned From the First Few Months of Wedding Planning

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Image: Capitol Romance Wedding Planner Download

We have a new wedding-planning guest blogger joining the blog today, Rebecca! Kelsey gets married in less than 2 weeks, so she will be retiring her bride-to-be crown (I hope she stays on as a newlywed guest blogger though … nudge nudge, hint hint). Rebecca wanted to share a little about herself for today, and the 3 things she’s learned from her first few months of wedding planning. Take it away Rebecca!

The Three Things I Learned Early in My Wedding Planning Journey | By: Rebecca G.

I am so excited to be guest blogging for Capitol Romance!  CR was recommended to me very early in our wedding-planning process and it has already become my go-to resource for everything DC-wedding related.  It’s so fun to get to share our wedding planning experience!

My name is Rebecca and I am a newly-engaged DC tour guide.  My fiancee and I have taken a somewhat less traditional route in our journey to happily-ever-after.  We basically skipped the surprise proposal/engagement ring-combo in lieu of secretly jumping into wedding planning when we were ready to make our forever love official.  We started telling people slowly (family and close friends first) and made the official announcement after we had already shot our engagement photo session!  While this path may not be for everyone, I believe that it made the first few months of our wedding planning a lot simpler by having only our closest people helping to weigh in with their opinions and ideas.

We’re getting married in September 2017 and we have all the big stuff figured out (venue, food, booze, dancing – the stuff that was most important to us) but there are still so many decisions to make!  I’ll be using my blog posts to share what we’ve learned and hopefully provide in a calming, pragmatic voice in the Industrial Wedding Complex insanity.

So what have I learned in our first few months of wedding planning?  Three very important things:

1. Sticker shock is real – No matter how modest your budget, no matter how low-key you aim to make your wedding, it will cost money.  Like, real, grown-up money.  Despite all the ladies’ brunches I’ve been to where brides-to-be divulged what they were spending and all the blog posts I’d perused, I was still taken aback by what the wedding basics cost.  There are ways to stick to a budget (and you should!) but be prepared.

One of the best pieces of financial wedding advice I read was called the “Olive Garden Theory.”  It’s simple – if you were to take your closest family and friends to the Olive Garden to celebrate your nuptials, even with the unlimited breadsticks, soup, and salad, you’ll spend about $50 for every guest to have an entree, dessert, and glass of wine.  This was an eye-opener for us – even keeping it simple and tossing out some of the more traditional elements that didn’t fit us, finding a space and feeding people is going to cost some money.  Once you accept this fact, you can get to work on figuring out what works for you financially.

2. Know your priorities – ideally early in the process – When we first started planning, my fiancee and I sat down and figured out the three elements that most important to each of us for our wedding day.  This gave us a great baseline for what really mattered (and where to allocate our precious, limited money!)  After each venue visit or chat with a vendor, we went back to the list of the key elements.  It helped keep us focused, even when overwhelmed by wedding possibilities.

3. To thine own self to be true – By complete stroke of luck, I happened to read Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please just a couple of months before we began wedding planning.  In it, Amy shares what should be the motto of every modern, awesome woman – “Good for her, not for me.”  Although Amy isn’t referring to weddings specifically here, it applies beautifully to the process.  Whether it’s pushy vendors (which, run as fast as you can from that) or a well-intentioned friend, once you are engaged, everyone will want to share advice.  You will have so many wonderful people in your life who will want to make suggestions and share ideas and that’s GREAT – but remember, what was good for one bride may not be good for you.  It’s also easy to want to compare your wedding to every other wedding you’ve attended (or the ones you see in perfect Instagram posts or bridal magazine spreads) but when all is said and done, it’s YOUR wedding day – you have to do what’s right for you and your partner, not for anyone else.

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So, this is where I am so far.  With 271 days to go, the excitement is growing but so is my to-do list!  Looking forward to sharing some of our craziness and joy with y’all!

Guest Post: How to Create a Rational & Practical Wedding Registry

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We had friends in town over the weekend and we ate our way through DC and survived the crappy weather! I am almost certainly catching the cold that is going around DC (figures) and only just sent out our holiday cards yesterday. I’m not used to feeling so behind on E V E R Y T H I N G but maybe I need to just accept this as my new normal. At any rate, I am hoping to get posts up the rest of the week, but will likely be quest through the New Year as we are headed north to beautiful Vermont for the week between Xmas and New Years.

For today we have our FAVORITE guest blogger, Kelsey, sharing her insights into creating a rational registry for your wedding. Take it away girl!

How to Create a Rational & Practical Wedding Registry | By: Kelsey

Here’s the thing about a wedding registry: it’s awesome. But it’s also stressful. Especially if you live in 700 square feet with another person and a dog. I’ve also lived with this person for six years so we’ve got a bunch of stuff. The trouble is new stuff is better.

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You’ve got to evaluate. What do you need? What should you probably replace because you’ve had it since freshman year? And finally, what do you want? Yeah, you get to get stuff you want too. Lucky for me, my fiancé loves to research everything. Like oh, you wanted to make marinated goat cheese as a gift for friends this holiday? You should consider vacuum sealing them to make them last longer. (Thirty minutes later) Did you know you improper canning may give people botulism? Seriously, this was a conversation we had today.

So we identified the pieces we wanted: pots and pans, knives, etc. and he got to work on finding the very best ones that would work for us. While I would love to have holiday china (this is a thing) I don’t have the space for it. While I would love to have a set of guest pillows and sheets, I don’t have space for it. Perhaps Joey says it best.

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In addition to the stuff, we also did a honeymoon registry. There are a ton of sites out there to host your honeymoon registry, for us, Zola worked best. We were able to create various experiences for our honeymoon at certain price points for guests to feel like they were contributing to something personal and not just giving cash.

I will leave you with one other nugget of knowledge. Some people, no matter how much time and energy you spend on your registry will go rogue. They will. They think they know better and that you absolutely must have an egg cuber or an authentic southern sweet tea brewer. Remember things can be returned and thank you notes must be written. Always.

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Wedding Planning Advice: Tell Your Guests the Right Ceremony Start Time

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Image: MelBee Photography

It’s been a while since I’ve written a long form blog post with some wedding planning knowledge, as I’ve mostly been including short tips into our monthly newsblasts, however, this one has crept up on me twice this year, and I’ve felt compelled to write a full post on it, because it’s important. So here it goes.

Dear wedding planning couples, do NOT write a time on your wedding invitations, other than the time that you want your wedding ceremony to actually start. The game of “oh but guests will be late” doesn’t work because they will be no matter what time you put. Here are some things to consider: if your wedding invitation says the ceremony starts at 5pm, some of your guests (especially ones that aren’t especially city-friendly) will be sure to leave plenty of time, to be on time. At every single one of my weddings, I have at LEAST one guest show up an hour before the ceremony start.

There are two main issues that come of telling your guests an earlier time on your invitation:

1. The ceremony space might not yet be ready for guests, as industry standard gives vendors 2-hours to load in AND set up your entire wedding space. Vendors need those two hours (which are almost ALWAYS cut short by early guests). Sometimes there is no where for guests to go while we are finishing the ceremony setup – so please don’t have your guests arriving any earlier than they need to be.

2. If you put an earlier time on your invites you will likely have some guests waiting for OVER AN HOUR for your wedding ceremony to start. That is not the best way to kick off your wedding day – especially if there is nothing for guests to do other than sit … and wait ….

Personally, as a day of coordinator, I get heartburn when this happens mostly because of reason 1, and slightly because of reason 2 (I am not happy if the guests aren’t happy ~ and bored, impatient guests are not happy), but there’s another factor for me: it gives my coordination team/brand a bad rep. Guests don’t know you put the wrong time on purpose, so instead guests think: oh this day-of coordinator can’t run things on time. If engaged guests are at your wedding, why would they look to hire the company that can’t get the ceremony to start on time? (They likely won’t).

You’ll be less stressed during wedding planning if you can come to terms early, that you cannot control your wedding guests opinions – so don’t even try. Treat your guests like adults and expect that if they want to get to your wedding ceremony on-time, they will. Believe me, it’ll make us ALL happier in the end.

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