Guidelines I used for picking the Bridesmaids
Picking your bridal party can be stressful. Agree on a certain number in your party before you start thinking of names and who you want in your party.
Here is my personal checklist I used to choose my bridesmaids
1. Are they trustworthy, reliable and organized?
2. Have they been there for you through tough times and always try to connect with you throughout the years?
3. Do they always care about your well-being and have been a true friend? Do they ask how you're doing or do they always mainly want to talk about themselves?
4. Do you think they'll complain about it? (Sorry, I had to add this one.)
5. Do they understand you to the core and do you feel the same?
Picking my Maid of Honor and Matron of Honor
I have decided on having a maid of honor and a matron of honor for my party. I used the first two people I thought of when people started asking me this. I didn't know it at the time but those thoughts are my gut instincts. Some brides just have one while others have two.
Make it fun!
We had 7 months of planning and it was just enough time! Check out the wedding checklist that's also on this page and the actual steps I took to complete my to-do list by date/order.
Here was my wedding checklist with some notes regarding some of the venues I picked. Feel free to use this as a guide for your own wedding.
1. Rehearsal Dinner - The groom's family usually pay for this. This was our case as well.
2. Bar Tab - Included in Reception budget
3. Reception - 75% of total cost
4. Outdoor Ceremony - Site + Officiant - We have found an officiant to perform our ceremony. If you are not religious or have different religions from each other, an officiant is a great option to help you with your vows.
5. Cake - Included in Reception package. We picked our cake and flavors 5 months before our wedding day. Check with your venue if they include the cake as well.
7. Decor & Flowers - We picked our flowers and signed the contract with the florist four months before my wedding. They were spectacular.
8. Gifts/Transportation/DJ Entertainment - Our DJ was found on Craigslist.org. I was satisfied with my decision on this one.
9. Photography/Videography - We only hired 1 photographer. He took our engagement photos and they turned out excellent! This photographer has moved away from Southern California. We were lucky to have him as our photographer.
10. Invitations - I ordered invitations from David's Bridals' website 4 months before our wedding with the goal to send the invitations 2.5 months before our wedding. I was happy with them so I suggest you look at the David's Bridal websites for the invitations before you go look somewhere else. I think it's a pretty good price range for the quality. They also let you get a free sample.
11. Party Favors - These cost me about $250 which includes us decorating them. I've had friends who did bottle toppers, shot glasses, candy, etc. and I think you shouldn't go overboard with it because more likely than not, they will be tossed out from their home in a couple of years.
12. Bridesmaids' gifts/groomsmen gifts - Don't forget about a gift to your bridal party!
13. Hair and make up - Make sure you have your hair and make up trial before you agree on having that person do your hair and make-up. Sometimes you might end up not liking the hairstyle you intended to have on yourself.
14. Rehearsal Dinner invitations - Don't forget this as it's a nice touch to your personal party group.
15. Menu Cards - This is a nice touch on each plate. (scroll down to the bottom to see my menu)
Sailor Girlfriend's Steps for Wedding Planning
Step 1: Budget and Synergy of Ideas (common ground)
Our first strategy to save money for the wedding is to shack up so we can save on rent. So we did!
Step 2: Calling and picking venues (6.5 months from wedding)
Since my husband was in the Navy, we checked out the navy bases for event options.
They offered quite a few options for catering and if you're in the
military, it is 10% off the tab and the service charge is 5% less so
that is 15% service charge instead of 20%. It's a not a bad deal and you
can have the ceremony there. Even if you're non-military, you can still have your events here. It would range between $500 - 750 to rent
the outdoor space for the military. The negative
thing is you can't hire outside caterers or bring outside food or
beverage if you rent their space. You have to buy food and beverages there however they don't tax so you can actually save thousands with that.
Another thought that we had was just rent a space some where and pick our own caterers and then have our friends help
out with bartending. We found a banquet venue for a 6 hour rental which
includes a dance floor, tables and 2 security guards for $1,800. It was cheap but it was far. Then, we figured it would be too much work for our visitors to try to find the event place at the military base since most of our friends and family are civilians, so we decided to not do it at the navy base either.
Three weeks later, we're still researching to find the right venue for our wedding. My fiance actually have a lot of input on our wedding plans so it's nice that the burden is just not on me. We were hoping our connections could help us lower the cost of the venue. It didn't. I suggest you look within your circle of friends to see if they have any catering or event planning hook ups because weddings are expensive to plan!
A little bit less than 6 months from wedding - My four bridesmaids helped me pick my wedding dress. We went to David's Bridal and it was the 8th dress I tried on. I didn't want to try on any more dresses. It costed me $400 because it was luckily on sale! Till this day, my friends still call me simple because I was so easy on picking out the dress. Comparing to my friends, whose dresses were all $1000 or more, I saved a lot of money on this so I had enough money to pay for all of my bridesmaids' makeup and hair on my expense on my wedding day. :)
Step 6: Less than 5 months from the wedding - We picked our cake from Flour Power who was included in our venue contract for our reception.
We tasted 13 different cakes and were allowed to choose up to 4 different flavors for our cake that came with our package/ We picked a yummy beach themed cake. The cake tasting experience was so welcoming and helpful. This was our actual cake on our wedding day below. It had edible seashells and clams and matched our wedding theme so well. Our venue was located right by the water and beach.
Step 7: Less than 4 months from our wedding - We met with our florist who was contracted with the our ceremony and reception venue in our package to do our floral spray for the ceremony and put petals down the aisle. I liked him so much, I hired him for and all of the bouquets, boutineres and reception centerpieces! Scroll down to Step 11 to see my floral spray and center pieces! They were fantastic!
Step 8: 3.5 months from our wedding - We picked our officiant, Cindie, who wonderfully performed our outdoor ceremony. She's a supporter of our military men and women and I highly recommend her if you're in San Diego! Cindie's website is: www.ceremoniesbycindie.com.
Step 11: 3 months before wedding date - I signed the official contract with my florist to do my all bouquets and center pieces, ceremony flowers for the wedding. I'm so ecstatic! They turned out great and better than many other weddings for an appropriate price. He also did me a favor and took down my floral spray that we used for the ceremony and put it on the sweetheart table. So it was very useful! It was beautiful. Here is the beach themed centerpiece we came up with together for the reception. My florist luckily had real conch seashells we put the fresh flowers in so I was able to just rent the seashells.