Top Secret Wedding Planning Tips from the New England Pros

 In How to, Interviews, Recommended Vendors

Wedding planning can be overwhelming – so many details, so many things that can (and do) go wrong; it’s no wonder couples and their families get stressed out in the months leading up to the big day. As a makeup artist, I frequently dish up advice for wedding day prep timing and other considerations, communicating with beauty pros, and – of course – how to choose a makeup artist… but for the real dirt on wedding planning (especially the stuff you might never think of on your own), I queried some of New England’s top professional wedding & event planners, coordinators, and designers.

Here are some of their best-kept secrets!

The budget


“When envisioning your ideal wedding, initially plan without considering your budget. Everyone has a budget; it’s much easier to start with a vision and then cut certain items to meet the budget, rather than stifling your creativity to align with what you can afford. This way, you can capture the essence of your dream wedding, but perhaps on a smaller scale.” – Paula Marrero, Marrero Events

“Planning a wedding is really TWO budgets: Finances and Time. Don’t solely focus on the cost, because your time may be worth a lot more than savings a few bucks.” – Christine Ringuette, Down the Aisle LLC

“The main thing people overlook when planning out their budget is including gratuity and taxes. Be sure to estimate these two costs while developing your budget so that when it comes time to pay vendors, you have already taken these elements into account.” – Ruthie McDonald, Eutopia Events

“Write three columns on a piece of paper: Must Have, Would Be Nice, and Do Not Want. Write everything down that you can think of, and try to get rid of the Would Be Nice column into one of the other two columns.” – Christine Ringuette, Down the Aisle LLC


The venue


“Consider having your wedding at a unique venue such as a private residence, museum, library, etc. where you bring in all of your vendors separately. Although such locations present more of a logistical challenge, they may also present some very cost-effective options such as being able to bring in your liquor on consignment, literally saving you thousands right from the start!” – Paula Marrero, Marrero Events


Planner vs. Coordinator


“Many people think they will save money by hiring a coordinator only for the day of. Bringing on an expert this late in the game will certainly give you peace of mind as far as the management of vendors, timeline, etc. However, it won’t prevent you from making costly mistakes earlier in the process. A good event planner should be able to save you the cost of their fee plus more for their services.” – Paula Marrero, Marrero Events


The guest list


“No one wants to offend anyone when it comes to determining the guest list. One great way to be fair and honest with your friends and family is to put them inside of wedding bubbles! Once you’ve determined where everyone on your potential list fits, count how many people are in each section. Once you hit your limit for venue capacity, eliminate all the outer bubbles.” – Leslie Barbini, The Wedding Belle

Honoring heritage


“Lots of couples today are looking for ways to bring in their heritage and honor their parents during their wedding celebration. Here are a few easy ideas:

  1. Take fabric from your mother’s gown and wrap your bridal bouquet with it instead of ribbon.
  2. Collect wedding portraits featuring your grandparents, parents, and other close relatives. Find a set of eclectic frames and arrange them together on a table at the reception.
  3. Take a piece of memorabilia from your parents’ wedding and give it new life! A handkerchief or jewelry can be turned into almost anything.” – Leslie Barbini, The Wedding Belle

The fashion


“Make sure to ask (and get in writing) how long it will take to have your gown delivered. Also make sure that it will be steamed/pressed and ready to wear – not every establishment offers this, you have to ask.” – Christine Ringuette, Down the Aisle LLC

“When it comes to bridesmaids’ dresses, it’s important to give them options to choose from. It doesn’t have to be between multiple dresses but having a small selection will save a lot of disagreements and give them a sense of control of what they are wearing.” – Trista Leonesio, Weddings by Trista


The photos


“If you’re open to doing a first look session, take all your formals before the ceremony – it will allow you to attend your own cocktail party and relieve a lot of stress!” – Tasha Bracken, Simple Details Events

“If you wish to incorporate social media into your ceremony, create a hashtag for all your guests to use so you can easily search for your photos after the wedding day is complete.” – Leslie Barbini, The Wedding Belle


The flowers


“If you have loved ones that are unable to attend the wedding and you want to give them a nice surprise, send a replica of your bridal bouquet to arrive on the day of your wedding, accompanied by a special ‘we are thinking of you’ note.” – Trista Leonesio, Weddings by Trista

“Florals are a waste if no one notices them. Be sure your florist is familiar with your venue/room layout (or do a site tour together) before finalizing your flower selection. For example, if you have a beige floor, white walls and white trim, all-white table arrangements may not show up well.” – Christine Ringuette, Down the Aisle LLC

“The bridal bouquet should be held at belly button height. (As the bride gets nervous her arms tend to creep up and it starts looking like she’s holding a microphone!)” – Trista Leonesio, Weddings by Trista


The food


“Always offer your cake and dessert on a station to allow guests to get up from their seated dinner early and begin to enjoy the party!” – Paula Marrero, Marrero Events

“Got dietary restrictions (gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, etc.) but don’t want to inflict them on your loved ones when dessert rolls around? Order a separate cake for the big photo op and a regular sheet cake for guests to enjoy. If the cakes have to come from separate bakeries, there’s no need to fret. Order the sheet cake with similar colors to your ceremonial cake, and rest assured, your guests won’t be able to tell if the frosting is ivory or cream. Besides, if everyone knows you as well as they should, they know about your dietary restrictions and will be happy you provided an alternate cake for them!” – Elizabeth Quill, Elegant Aura

“Plan for food while getting ready for your wedding (or at some point pre-ceremony). People are so concerned with getting ready that they forget to eat and drink. We encourage couples to recruit a trustworthy friend for this task (preferably not anyone in the wedding party as you don’t want a missing body while photos are being taken or hair and makeup need to happen in a timely fashion). Asking a family member or friend is a nice way of including someone who really has one of the most important jobs of the day: ensuring that you (or your wedding party members) don’t become cranky or, worse, pass out!” – Ruthie McDonald, Eutopia Events


The reception


“Take 5 minutes to see your reception room before everyone enters; it’s a good time to be alone with your new husband/wife and take it all in.” Tasha Bracken, Simple Details Events

“Amenity baskets in the bathroom are both thoughtful and cost-effective, and they always get used by men and women alike. As a wedding planner, I provide complimentary amenity baskets for clients, but if you are planning on your own, here are some things to include: pain relievers, hair ties, body spray, nice hand soap, Tums, trial-size deodorant, bobby pins, mints, gum, mouthwash, and hair spray.” – Tanya Costigan, Bowties & Butterflies Event Planning


Etiquette considerations


“Attention guests! Unless told otherwise, do not post any pictures of the couple on social media until they have done so first. Give them the chance to chose their first Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pictures.” – Trista Leonesio, Weddings by Trista

“For those that prefer to have an unplugged ceremony, here are some ways to accomplish it:

  1. Let your guests know that they will all have access to the professional photos after the wedding.
  2. Have a “cell phone check!” (Same idea as a coat check except guests deposit electronic devices into the buckets instead of coats.)
  3. On your ceremony program, ask your guests to please put all cameras and phones away during the ceremony, and have your officiant remind them at the start of your ceremony as well.
  4. Place a note in your welcome bags or on your wedding website politely explaining that this will be a technology-free wedding.” – Leslie Barbini, The Wedding Belle

The aftermath


“There are so many details that go into creating a beautiful wedding day but many forget the details that need to be ironed out at the end of the night. Once the music has stopped and all the guests have gone home, there are still many things left to think about, such as:

  1. What will you do with all of the décor?
  2. Who will pack up décor?
  3. What will you do with the flowers?
  4. Who will pack up the gifts, cards, etc. and where will they be taken (if the couple is going on their honeymoon the very next day)?
  5. Who will take the wedding dress home? Return the tux?
  6. How will you get to where you need to go at the end of the night?
  7. Who will take the top tier of your cake if you choose to keep it?” – Ruthie McDonald, Eutopia Events

“Instead of keeping all of your floral arrangements (or disposing of them), drop them off at local nursing homes. The residents always enjoy fresh-smelling flowers.” – Trista Leonesio, Weddings by Trista


Last but not least


“Don’t over think the planning process; have fun!” – Tasha Bracken, Simple Details Events



Recommended Posts