Updated: Oct 11, 2021
When a bride and groom are planning their wedding day, they want every detail to be memorable, which is totally understandable. It is probably the biggest celebration you will ever throw, and the most people you will gather, to celebrate one of the most important moments in your life! This is a big deal!
So how do you plan the most memorable wedding while not breaking the bank? I’m glad you asked. There are five things that are of the utmost importance that when you look back you will remember and be grateful you prioritized the way you did. You can add to this list as you please, but if you are going for reasonable budget and successful day, these are the essentials.
**Before we get into our list, we want to clarify that your relationship with your future spouse is key to a perfect day. If you are not on the same page coming in, it is going to make the wedding unenjoyable for everyone, so have lots of communication before you get married!**
1. Structure/Organization. This one will cost you nothing but it can cost you everything if you don't do it! Downtime is the death of a party. Your DJ and/or wedding coordinator can help with this but you must let them know what your plans are and the exact timing of everything. It is essential to think through the day prior to the actual wedding day. After the ceremony there are always pictures of the bridal party to be taken, you must have something in this time slot for your guests. Horse Devours (as I like to call them) are always a crowd pleaser. Have yard games available if the weather is nice. I’m sure you know 2 people with corn hole boards, Kan Jam, lawn darts, ladder toss, etc. Have a photo booth with some cheap props for your guests to take some silly photos. Have stations where people can write down advice, recipes, or funny memories with you guys. Create a display of photos/souvenirs, or memorabilia from your relationship (include as many guests as you can in the display so they feel more connected to you). Have a candy table (that could also double as your party favor). Maybe have questions on the table for talking points amongst people. Just don't let people experience down time or else they will be ready to leave and you want to party ALL NIGHT LONG!
2. Venue. Now yes, we are a venue and you may find this bias, but the environment you have your wedding in is key. If you are having it in some run down place, you can still have a good time, but it does not elevate it or allow for the positive perspective of your guests coming in. You want your guests to marvel at the venue, and you ideally want a venue that doesn’t require a load of decorations to dress up the place, mainly so you aren’t breaking the bank on décor, but also so you don’t run the risk of making it look tacky or junky. Additionally, we have been to so many venues that are BEAUTIFUL in real life, but the lighting or the background made for awful photos. You will have photos from your wedding around your house for the rest of your marriage; you would hate for a lapse of judgment in venue selection ruin those photos. This brings me to the 3rd most important thing.
3. Photos/Video. You spent a lot on this day. You made one of the largest financial decisions of your life and it was a great one! Pictures allow for you to remember things so well and encapsulate so much more. You also get to see what your guests were doing when you were not around. It reminds you of the joy you had on that day and everything good about it. Also, getting the pictures you want is essential. Sit down with your photographer before the big day and give them a list and some examples of photos you would like them to capture. I know if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking, “Who am I to tell them how to do their job?!” Don’t think of it that way. Most, if not all photographers love taking photos and enjoy hearing new ideas. They are always looking for ways to improve. If you can give them suggestions and a list of the order of pictures, this will help the day go smoothly, you will get the pictures you desire, and you might help the photographer think outside the box. Also, as a kind gesture, offer to feed your photographer at the reception. They are likely providing you with hours of service. Here is an example of some guidance that you could tell your photographer:
Groom face as bride enters
Entire bridal party on stage
Pronouncement of couple
Family (think quick transitions and consider the elderly)
Bride’s immediate family
Bride’s extended family
Groom’s extended family
Groom’s immediate family
Couple with groomsmen
Couple with bridesmaids
Entire party serious
Entire party silly
Couple kissing, party cheering
Choose several poses and ask the photographer for suggestions
People having fun
4. Food. Food. Food. I say this three times because it is key to your happiness and your guests’ happiness. If your food is tasty then everyone is happy and ready to party! If your food is bad then it can ruin the day. Now the other two “foods” were for the quantity. You must have enough for everyone to be full. Nothing ruins a party like an empty belly. We have been to several weddings where there was not enough food and we had to go out to eat afterwards... no bueno. The food doesn't have to be anything super fancy, it just has to taste good and be plentiful.
5. DJ/Band/Dancing. You need a DJ who can keep the flow going and provide structure to the reception. They need to get people energized and excited to be there. You need someone who can read the room and know how to get people on the dance floor and keep them on the floor. If they only play songs that a few people know and those songs aren’t really “dancing” songs, you might as well go ahead and pack up your clothes because everyone is ready to send you off. Alternate between fast line dances, slow songs, great sing-a-long songs, back to more fun dancing. Do your research prior, and just like the photographer, ask for suggestions. Know your audience; and pick songs that you think will get them moving. Do not get stuck in the box that explicit club music is the only way to dance. You will
look back on the dancing as one of the best memories. If people are sweaty, you did it right!
Honorable Mention: Speeches. Again, this one is free and easily doable. A great speech is a game changer. Not everyone has to give the perfect speech, but one great speech can emotionally invoke a party and make everyone feel more connected to the couple. So have someone who can really give a speech and ask them to be sincere and have some humor. NO INSIDE JOKES! The more genuine it is the better people get to know you. Whoever is giving the speech is close to you so let them share about you and why they are happy for your new spouse.
If you can nail these 5 things you can guarantee a memorable wedding day for yourself and all those you love!