10 Random Tips and Tricks to Help Make Your Wedding Planning Go Smoother

Cover All Your Wedding Planning Bases With These Simple Tips and Tricks

When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and there are things you NEED to know.  First of all, you’re going to be stressed, and that’s normal! But, here are several simple tips to a smooth wedding that will lower your stress level and help you feel more organized.

1. Choosing Your Wedding Party

The wedding party is the front line of your wedding.  There are many aspects to choosing the perfect group to stand by you on your special day.  Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind before forming your wedding day “A-Team”.

Plan ahead before you ask.  There are things to be considered before asking your friends to take part in your bridal party.  Remember, Once you’ve asked someone to be in your wedding party, you can’t go back. So while it may be tempting to ask all of your favorite friends to be in your wedding party the minute you get engaged, don’t.  First, think of things like the size of the wedding party.  How many people do you want total?  Can you match your amount of people to the amount on your spouse’s side?

Family is Forever.  Siblings are always a great match for the bridal party.  For starters, you know for sure they will be around way past your ten year anniversary, and most likely time will only bring you closer. They typically play a special role in our lives, and in many cases, will be key fixtures involved in a couple’s wedding day.  Although, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to involve your siblings on your wedding day. And for many, friends truly have become their nearest and dearest, like family!  So like every other aspect of your wedding, do what feels right.

There isn’t any rules.  No, you do not have to invite someone into your wedding party, because you were in theirs.  You should choose the people you feel the absolute closest to in this period of your life.  People that when you look back at your wedding album in 5+ years, are still there for you.  Also if your bestfriend is a male figure, or even your brother, don’t be afraid to stray away from the tradition layout.  If you want that person standing next to you on your wedding day, then do it!

Choose someone who is dependable and responsible.  If you have a friend who can’t keep up with their schedule and has trouble committing, then it’s probably best to leave them out.  Being asked to be part of the wedding party isn’t just an act of kindness, it comes with responsibility. Is it important to you that they help address wedding invites, shop for your day-of attire with you and attend all of the prewedding parties?  If so, you want to choose a group you can rely on.

2. Number of Guests

Wedding planning sometimes isn’t so pleasnt. Figuring out the guest list is tough, especially with so many people involved.
Your guest list really depends on the environment and theme you are creating for your special day and your budget.  Here are some ways you can narrow it down to the just the correct amount for YOUR wedding.

First, get an idea of the type of wedding you want.  Do you want something small and personal, or have you always dreamed of a big white wedding everyone is talking about?  Do you want it to be 0-100 guests, or something more grand as in 200+? Do you want a small ceremony by the beach with a sit down dinner at a local restaurant? Do you want a church wedding with all your family and friends? A lavish reception at a large hotel?  These are all the things to figure out before going on to your guest list and desired budget.  Remember, the more guests the higher your budget must be.

Make a preliminary list with just your partner. Family at the top of the list.  Begin with your immediate families, then add those close family members you really want to have there.  If you make a list starting with the essentials and ending with the acquaintances, then if necessary to narrow your list you can start from the bottom.  Next of course, your closest friends.  The people you can’t imagine not having there on your wedding day. It’s important to have a starting list, because this gives you an idea of about how large your venue must be.  Know that your list will most likely close to double when plus-one’s and children are accounted for.

Know your budget.  Always remember, more guests equals more money. Most places sell wedding receptions as a package. You will most likely pay a flat rate per guest.   For each guest you invite, you will have to count in the following: wedding favors, programs, welcome baskets for hotel rooms, and any other extras you will be giving away.  Know how much you can spend on each guest before inviting people you don’t necessarily have a relationship with. Trimming your guest list by just 10 to 20 people can save you $1,000 on food, alcohol and rentals.

3. Saving Some Money

You don’t need to break the bank to make your day memorable.

The Basics.  Off-season wedding dates such as January and February, can offer you a discounted rate due the open availability compared to a high volume month such as June or July.  Another way to start off with a discount is to book your wedding day during the week.  Weekend weddings are always priced a bit higher, also due to the desire of a Saturday wedding.  So if possible to book a day in either of these categories you’re off to a great start in saving some extra money!

Picking a venue.   You won’t have to worry about the logistics and extra expense of transporting everyone from the ceremony site to the reception if you have them both at one venue. Ask each venue what’s included in the rental fee. Some will include items such as tables, chairs or linens, which can translate into hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in savings. Keep an eye out for the magic words “all inclusive”. Venues with all-inclusive packages provide lots of amenities and services in addition to the event spaces, like on-site coordination, catering, alcohol, staff, rentals, cake, guest accommodations, and more!

The dress.  The average wedding dress costs about $1500.  Consider taking another route when looking for the perfect gowns.  Check out places such as department stores, bridal consignment shops, or even the sample gowns.  What a lot of brides don’t know is, most wedding dresses are made to order, but brides can score a discount by buying a sample gown (the ones you try on in the store).

Casual Bites.  A traditional dinner is not necessary at your wedding. A buffet or family-style meal is typically easier on the wallet than a more formal, plated dinner. Everyone serves themselves and you forgo the cost of waited table service.  A new trend that can also help save money is having local food trucks set up, which can also allow variety!

DIY.  This is a great way to save money as well as make items more personal!  DIY projects can be used to replace purchased items such as invitations, programs, name plates, and even your bouquets or corsages.  If you have some extra time and enjoy doing crafty projects, this is the route for you!  Not so crafty, well that’s what you have a bridal party for.  Assign small projects to family and friends who are willing to help to lighten your load and save you some cash.

4. Photographer Time Frame

When you’re in thick of wedding planning, you’re sure to come across so many questions you never knew to ask.  How Long Should I Book My Photographer For?  Is all day too long?  Here are some things to consider while booking a photographer and figuring out what is necessary.

There are different hour packages for a wedding photographer.  There is typically an option from a 6 to 12 hour window.

6 hours

Just because this is usually the least expensive package offered by photographers doesn’t necessarily mean it is only for couples with tight budgets! Six hours of coverage is plenty for small weddings and elopements. There will still  be coverage of all of the important moments (portraits, ceremony, family photos, first dance, cake cutting), maybe even a little dancing as well!

8 hours

An 8-hour package is usually enough time for an average-size wedding (about 100-150 people), and the extra 2 hours of coverage will usually allow the photographer to capture the tail end of you getting ready, detail ed shots of the reception space, and the start of the dance party.  For some, this is the perfect amount of time captured and still fits in to most budgets.

10 hours

Since the photographers are on site for most of the day, there is enough time to get all of the detail and prep shots, plus plenty of extra time for a first look (if wanted). Also, nobody will have to rush through any of the wedding party and family portraits before getting to dining and dancing.

12 hours

Aside from it being more than enough time to capture all of the details of the day, this amount of coverage is almost necessary if there is a very large wedding party (bridal parties of 12 or more).  If you have the budget to do so, this time period is desired in orfer to capture all the detail you put into the planning of your day.  Things such as decor, food, cocktails, wedding puns, signs and more will be captured to add to your wedding day album.

The numbers of hours you will need your photographer depends on budget, size, logistics, venues and exactly what you want covered, so think carefully before you decide. A professional photographer can help you pick the arrangement that is just right for you.

5. Wedding Website: Is It Really Necessary?

Personal Wedding Websites are websites that engaged couples use to help in planning and communication for their wedding. The websites are used to communicate with guests of their wedding details and inform them of location, date, time, and a gift registry.  A wedding website isn’t necessary, but a majority of couples do participate in one.  Here are some “pro’s and con’s” of having a wedding website and ways to get away with not having one.

Privacy.  Some websites makes it available for non guests to see information about your special day such as location and request an invite.  Although, not all websites give a stranger this ability,  some couples don’t even realize others outside the guest lists can view their details (which can be creepy).   If you do make a wedding website, just don’t post it publicly.  There are ways of doing so, such as putting the website name on the back of your save the dates and those only go to people invited to your wedding. Another trend that’s starting is requiring a pin for people to see your page. Just give the pin to people you trust.

The Keep-up. People lose stuff.  Yes, even your beloved wedding invitation and the thousand inserts it came with.  So a wedding website like this makes it easy for guests to access the wedding reception ceremony, location, date, and time.  It’s even better to have a place to RSVP right on the website, to avoid waiting for everyone’s invitations to come back to you.  Maybe you’re worried about your grandmother who couldn’t use a computer if she tried.  Then maybe just send a few paper invitations to the older generation of your guest lists.  This way you’re still saving money, and keeping the remainder of the guests organized.

People crave details. And photos!  People like to know what to except when going to an event like this. Should guests expect formal or semi-formal attire?  Is the reception inside or outside?  Other things people like to see our pictures of the happy couple, and details such as where your engagement was, or plans for he future.  This is also a good platform for things like this.  After all, everyone is coming to celebrate your relationship, so why not share a little?  Although, if you and your spouse are all for the surprise factor, then maybe leave off most details about the actual wedding day.  Also, you can upload your wedding photos after the wedding here, so everyone doesn’t have to keep hounding you for the photos they’re in!

Price.  Although some are, not all wedding websites are free.  So if you’re looking for a site with all the special features, just keep in mind that you’re only adding to your wedding budget.  If you need a wedding website, you really don’t need any “extras” anyway.  A basic, yet FREE wedding website is really all you need.  There are plenty of wedding website platforms that are beautifully designed, yet don’t cost a dime.

6. Best Places to Buy Your Dress.

A wedding dress can be a very large expense.  Although, it is very possible to find the dress of your dreams without breaking the bank as well. A wedding dress typically ranges from $280 to $1,650, but you can purchase a wedding dress for far above and below those prices.  So sometimes, it take a couple days, or even weeks, to do as much shopping around as possible.

Thrift Stores.  When I say thrift store, I’m not talking about the ones with corduroy overalls, or parachute pants.  There are hundreds of bridal thrift stores that specialize in second hand wedding attire.  You have to think, most of these dresses have only been worn one time!  Most are in perfect condition.  It’s like a new car, once it’s been driven off the lot, the price drastically drops.  Well, the same thing with a wedding dress.  So you can still get the PERFECT dress, just at a third of the original price!

Online.  We are in the day and age where you can find your perfect wedding dress without even leaving your couch!  There are so many websites with thousands of options to choose from.  They even have a system, where you can insert all your body measurements, and an online bridal stylist will help you find a dress that fits your body type.  My only advice is to jump on this process way in advance, just in case it’s necessary to send it back.  There can always be a chance you don’t like the dress as much in person.

Traditional.  If you like the idea of physically going into a shop and trying on dresses with your wedding party, and saying “yes to the dress” then do just that!  This is also something that can be done without spending the “traditional” wedding dress prices.  If your wedding allows it, places such as David’s Bridal would be fitting for you because they have every option and wedding professional imaginable.  If your budget is a little more tight, no worries!  There are plenty of budget-friendly shops in the Tampa area.

Rent the Runway.  Let’s be honest, you’re only going to wear it once.  Another option, is to rent your wedding dress.  Renting is a great way to save money on a pricier find!  There are website and stores who will rent you the wedding dress of your dreams.  This is a budget-friendly alternative that can start at as little as $30!  So if you’re not “married” to the idea of owning your dress, then maybe this is the route for you!

7. Band vs DJ

You want music that will keep the dance floor packed and spirits high all night long. But how do you determine if a band or a DJ is right for your wedding?

Wedding Bands: 

  • Live musicians can easily gauge when a crowd needs a tempo change, and can accommodate it subtly and effectively. A good bandleader will play the master of ceremonies at your reception, interacting with folks on the dance floor, paying attention to the “feel” of the room and selecting music accordingly.
  • It’s a sense of entertainment.  A band provides guests something to watch.  if they can’t dance or just need a break, guests can sit back enjoy the show over a slice of wedding cake.
  • Live bands are great for themed music, as they often specialize in genres of music such as 1930’s jazz, Motown and funk, or Latin salsa.
  • Wedding bands are, on average, significantly more expensive than DJs, typically running from $3,000 – $10,000+.
  • Bands require a lot more setting up space than a DJ, so make sure your venue can accommodate them


  • The songs played will sound exactly as you want them to, encouraging sing-alongs and improvisation.
  • Wedding DJs have a huge repertoire of music, which makes for a ton of musical variety.  You request it, they got it!
  • Breaks are less critical, and may not even be required. While we know your wedding DJ will be working hard, it’s not like he’s exhausted from blowing into a trumpet for hours on end. Plus, with the magic of technology, a DJ can pre-set a series of songs to play while s/he takes a break without an obvious disruption in the musical flow.
  • Wedding DJs are often significantly cheaper than their live counterparts, costing on average between $500 and $2,000+
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, a DJ with a less-than stellar personality can be a party killer

So it comes down to the vibe, space, budget and variety that you are looking for on your wedding day to decide which is the better decision for your day, DJ or wedding band?


8.  Get Organized

Create a list of wedding day priorities and stick to them! First things first: Planning a wedding can feel pretty overwhelming at times.  While couples often hire a professional to help manage their wedding plans, there are plenty of reasons why they might also opt to take on the majority of the responsibilities on their own, too.  Here are a few helpful tricks to help you and your spouse stay sane and organized prior and during your wedding day.

Create a Timeline.   To ensure you are able to dedicate enough time to each part of your wedding, create a timeline at the beginning of your planning process. Include all important dates and deadlines regarding your dress, food, venue, and decorations. Write down every thing wedding related on a calendar!  There are so many minor details to wedding planning that can easily be forgotten.

Know your budget. If any family members will be contributing, chat with them about what they’re comfortable spending. If you’re taking it all on yourself, it’s time to take a hard look at your finances. Once you’ve got that magic number, stick to it!  There are options for saving money on every aspect of your wedding, even if it calls for a little DIY projects.  Make it fit your budget!

Don’t forget to make it legal.  It is very easy to get wrapped up in the planning of the décor and layout of the day, but don’t forget what this day is really about:  Your MARRIAGE! In the midst of all the crazy planning and endless small details, don’t forget to actually plan time to get your marriage license! Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early on.

Honeymoon.  If you have the time and the money to plan both your wedding AND honeymoon at the same time then by all means DO IT!  It’s a good idea to start planning in enough advance that when the wedding is approaching you can solely focus on that and already have the aftermath figured out. Planning your wedding and your dream honeymoon at the exact same time can be not only expensive but also very time consuming. Especially if the two of you are doing everything yourselves, it may be a good idea to postpone honeymoon planning just a bit.


9. Take Some Time Off—Together

Leading up to. Include your spouse in the wedding planning, it’s their day too.  Don’t forget to also take some time away from it all.  For the sake of your own sanity, make sure you schedule some time for the two of you to just be together and do anything but wedding plan.  Whether it’s a relaxing weekend at home or a mini-getaway out of town. Trust me, you’ll need the break! If you can, taking the week off from work before your actual wedding date helps to ensure that all last-minute details are completed and makes the days leading up to the wedding that much less stressful.  Don’t forget what it’s all about.  Take some time together to really remember what all the chaos if for, and what this day means to the two of you.

Day of.  While you certainly have the rest of your life to spend time with your new spouse, it is certainly fair to want to be with your beloved on the day the two of you are celebrating your love for each other. While you should be sure to get some face time with all your friends and family that made time to attend your nuptials, we also want to provide some advice to keep you and your sweetheart from being separated the whole night. Use every slow song as an opportunity to dance with your new spouse, and include each other when spending time with your friends.

Honeymoon. Your honeymoon sets the tone for your new life.  A honeymoon provides your first memorable moments as a couple.  So enjoy your time together as a couple!  Let all the wedding stresses go and enjoy each others company.  YOU DESERVE IT!

10.  Venue

Be sure to investigate prices, packages, and any restrictions (including minimum budget spend) from several different potential wedding and reception venues before you sign on the dotted line. Your party space has the ability to set your wedding’s tone, which is why choosing your site wisely is absolutely imperative.  Some things to know prior to selecting your potential venue…

Location.  Obviously you want to love the location, but you also want to make sure it is accessible to your guests.  Also, will directions be straightforward enough for out-of-town guests (who are unfamiliar with the area!) to make sense of?

Budget.  When you start your search for the perfect venue, keep in mind you may have to put some money down. The deposit varies, but you should be prepared to put something down—in some cases, you might have to pay as much as 50 percent of the total just to reserve your date.  This is a similar case with many factors of the wedding, so it’s smart to start saving as soon as your engagement happens.

Packages.  It’s important to shop around to get the best deal possible.  A venue can be the biggest expense of your wedding, if not enough research is done.  If your venue package includes the works, expect to put forward about 40-50% of your budget to cover all costs. Nearly every wedding venue has a list of different functions package they send out to potential customers. This is mostly an attempt to give couples a chance to read through a great deal of information so they can decide if the venue is worth a visit.

Décor/Rentals.   Are we allowed to bring in our own decorations? Do you have an inventory of décor (lighting, candle holders, vases, etc.) we can borrow from? Do you provide heaters and/or umbrellas for the outdoor spaces? Can we use candles/confetti/sparklers/fireworks/animals/lawn games/bounce houses/food trucks/insert your own fun-but- potentially-dangerous liability here?  These are all good questions to keep in mind while touring your potential venue.

The most important piece of your wedding venue is the personal satisfaction that it gives you and your bride/groom. Nothing is more satisfying that entering your venue and knowing that have you have found the most beautiful, memorable spot for you and the love of your life to get married.

If you are in search of a venue for your wedding please give The White Oak Cottage some consideration! For more information please call Melanie at 813-380-1493, send an email to info@thewhiteoakcottage.com or visit TheWhiteOakCottage.com/tour to schedule a tour.