The key to planning a brilliant wedding celebration is creating an experience for guests paired with a beautiful aesthetic.
For my local Milwaukee and Toronto wedding couples*, their joys lie in selecting local venues that represents their style and traditions, infusing venues with life, energy, and a unique welcoming experience. The couples successful in planning their wedding realize that to pull off an amazing wedding, there needs to be ambiance and emotions.
I have a lot of time at weddings to ponder things, particularly at the reception. Clients become more and more autonomous on their wedding day as the evening goes on. Years ago, I started asking excited wedding guests what it was about the celebration that made it so great. Recently a guest expressed it perfectly to me, she said, “This was a dream event for the [the couple] and for the guests. The whole day felt like something out of a fairytale that all the guests were a part of. I’ll never forget the personal touches, how included I felt as a guest, and how utterly beautiful decor. I loved being here.”
Now it’s your turn to achieve this. How do you do it?
With so many considerations before you, the key to kicking off your wedding is simple, start with a solid foundation. With a thought-through base, you can layer elements to build your day into a cohesive, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Let’s dig in.
How TO PLAN A WEDDING IN MILWAUKEE
Pick your style
Your primary vendors are all heavily based in a particular style. Determine the aesthetic and atmosphere you would like for your wedding in order to select the most stylistically suitable planner, venue, and photographer.
PRO TIP: Use words like elegant, intimate, airy, high end, classy, luxury, experiential, warm, romantic, bright, memorable, and the like, to evoke an atmosphere you will strive to create.
Set your budget
Determine an estimated budget for your wedding after doing some preliminary research online. This will be a starting point for you and your primary vendors.
PRO TIP: Couples often find that their budgets go farther with destination weddings. For the same or a smaller budget destination weddings are more stylistically infused, more intimate, and more of an experience for the couple and guests. Consider places like Dalmatia, Paris, Ireland, Tuscany, Hawaii, and the Tropics. Decide what type of location you’d like – dreamy and distant or familiar and close to home.
Count up your guests
Your initial count will guide your decision in venue size. Count up those most important to you only. Focus on the guests you want to invest in. You can always add additional guests later if your budget and venue allow.
PRO TIP: More than ever before, weddings have no boundaries or rules. This extends to your guest list. Invite those you cannot imagine a wedding without. By inviting those most important, the atmosphere remains intimate no matter the size. Diluting your guests with courtesy invites can inhibit the creation of the atmosphere you are ultimately striving to create.
Using online and in-print wedding publications, research vendors you would consider working with. Read reviews and familiarize yourself with professionals that deliver impeccable service through a wonderful customer experience. Meet with vendors in-person or via video to get to know them. Feel free to ask for other vendor referrals, as well. Get to know your team. Invest your time in your research.
PRO TIP: Personalities are a critical element when putting together your team of vendors. Ensure you respect their work as well as their disposition for a good fit that leads to a great experience.
Consult a photographer
The key to a well executed wedding lies in a great team of vendors and thoughtful choices. By this point you will have started to create a vision in your head of what you would like for your wedding. Consulting with a photographer on a location you have your eye on will give you information on lighting throughout the day and will give you a look into wedding-day logistics. This information can help inform you on possibilities of outdoor ceremonies, ambiance for spaces relying on natural light, and timelines based on photos which is greatly impacted by the number of guests, family members, and the number of individuals in the wedding party.
PRO TIP: A great photographer will be able to look at the venue layout online and advise on these critical elements when partnered with a wedding date. Reach out to a photographer whose work you admire and ask their opinion on your venue.
Book your planner
Your wedding planner will work with all of your vendors to create a seamless day, remembering all the important details and necessities. Wedding planners are an absolute brilliant investment when you choose a professional who specializes in your chosen style.
PRO TIP: Your wedding planner may have incredible vendor packages to offer you which you can tap into by asking. For example, some planers have floral design services that are part of their businesses. Additionally, many planners procure exclusive rates with venues that you can benefit from.
Book your venue
You are now ready to make an informed decision about venue selection. Ensure you inquire about the venue rules and limitations such as exclusive use, set-up and clean-up timeframes, use of open flames, approved caterers/vendors, allowances with ceiling anchors for draping and floral installations, and flat surface use (some historic venues have policies agains the use of surfaces like marble or wood table tops). These may impact your plans.
PRO TIP: Ask your venue for a former client or vendor reference. Reach out to this reference and discuss what it was like to host an event at the venue you’re considering.
Book your photographer
Your photographer is the director of the day. With my clients, I am with them from the time they start getting ready through to the mid point of their reception. Each part of the wedding day includes photographic coverage, so it is imperative to design your timeline with your photographer involved or in-mind. When selecting a photographer, ensure a timeline session is part of the service offering so that each part of your wedding has ample time logistically to be captured on camera to your liking.
PRO TIP: Timeline sessions are created in the first stages of wedding planning. Based on the number of family members, size of the wedding party, location, and decision on when the couple sees each other for the first time, the day can be calculated down to the minute. This timeline can then be used with all of your vendors and in your wedding planning from day one through the wedding day itself.
Psst – Not a couple planning a wedding, but going as a guest? If so, check out this great post by our friends at Elevate Events that lays out all the options for wedding guest attire.
You made it through the list.
From this point on it becomes about layering in little details. Your secondary vendors (only called this because they can take on more than one client per day – but they are just as important!) can then build on the designs and decisions you’ve laid out with your core and primary team of wedding professionals. Look out for a post on this second layer of vendors in the future. Or give me a call to discuss you wedding photography and I’ll give you the full scoop right away!
Questions? Shoot me an email or find my team on Instagram!
*I had someone recently ask me what destination weddings couples do and want that’s different than a local couple. They look for destination landscapes – new cultures, breathtaking views, a full weekend of celebration and a place to relax. But while some of the specifics and logistics are different, they do have the same veins of importance – ambiance, emotions and a welcoming atmosphere.
Thank you so much for inviting me into your planning. I truly hope this information serves you in your wedding journey. If I can be of help in your photography or for consulting services, please reach out to me. Until then, best wishes.