INTRO & TAKEAWAYS BY Nadine Kohler, South Sound Wedding & Event Magazine

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Kier Smith, Firstlight Photography

Avoiding the pitfalls of wedding planning and coming up with the best ideas can be challenging when preparing for your big day. Getting advice from your married friends can be helpful, but let’s get real. They have a very limited view of what works and what doesn’t. Our wedding experts see the good, the bad, and the ugly year-round and can share some seriously valuable do’s and don’ts. We asked some of our best local wedding and event experts to chime in on a few fun questions for wedding planning. Here is what they had to say:


1. What is the first thing you recommend a couple do when planning their wedding?

As a wedding photographer you’d likely expect the answer, “hire a good photographer,” but having been to hundreds of weddings the thing that I have seen over and over that helps the most is having a wedding planner. A good planner will help reduce stress levels, keep things organized for you, make sure things flow on your wedding day and take care of any lest second issues, allowing you to focus on your love and all of the little amazing moments on your wedding day.

Kier, Firstlight Photography


Make a serious budget, not a vague “we want to keep everything as cheap as possible” plan. We all know you want to save money on your wedding but think about where you are OK spending more money and what is NOT as important to you. What are the core things you want the best quality out of? Are you a foodie and not willing to sacrifice on the hors d’oeuvres grazing station? Then maybe embossed invitations get the boot!

— Tara, Specialty Floral Design


Hire a Wedding Planner! This will make any couple’s life a lot easier and stress-free when it comes to planning their big day.

— Lori, Elegant Affairs


2. What is the biggest mistake you see couples make on the DAY of their wedding?

Not eating a proper breakfast or lunch before the wedding and not drinking enough water (especially on hot days). Snacks are so important during the day too.

— Lori, Elegant Affairs


Trying to manage too much of the event coordination themselves or committing their time the night before or morning of the wedding to last minute DIY projects. Thinking you might whip out a reception playlist or create five bouquets, seven boutonnieres, and two wrist corsages before heading to the salon for hair and makeup? DON’T DO IT. Get a planner! Can’t afford a full wedding coordinator? How about a day-of coordinator?

 — Courtney, Weddings With Joy


3. Are wedding garters still in style?

Brides don ’t seem to be planning for this anymore, but yet they often receive one as a gift (hint, hint bridesmaids).

— Courtney, Weddings With Joy


Garters, like all traditions, are always in style for those who love them. I encourage couples in adapting the traditions and crafting new options that are meaningful to them. We talk about some of these in our consultation so that on the day of their wedding I can capture those amazing moments that will last a lifetime.

— Kier, Firstlight Photography


4. Wedding favors… yay or nay?

Nay. Although I am not a fan of wedding favors, the best favor I saw in 2019 was homemade jams and honeys. It was a great way to showcase how talented your family and friends are with their tasty treats.

— Lori, Elegant Affairs


I’ve seen many well -intended wedding favors that end up not even being taken home. When people choose to have a photo booth at their wedding it gives your guests a great way to have interactive experiences. An added benefit is the couple gets to see all of the photos and get a behind the scenes look at what was going on

during the reception.

— Kier, Firstlight Photography


5. Big NO-NOs for wedding planning:

Not having a seating chart. Trust me when I say a seating chart will save your life and your wallet!

 — Lori, Elegant Affairs


Don ’t tell your florist you want ALL greenery for your florals because you think it is the cheapest. Trust the experts! Tell your florist what you love and be open to the expert helping you select the best options for the season and for the price.

— Tara, Specialty Floral Design


Forget the big party at the bridal dress appointment! Big groups come with big opinions. We recommend you bring only a few people whose opinions you value the most. We’ve found the more people who attend the appointment, the more challenging it is, since it’s easier to lose focus on what is important to you. Remember, this is about YOUR big day!

 — Courtney, Weddings With Joy



Talk to a wedding planner. A first meeting can’t hurt and may just save you from a lot of stress and overspending. Your budget is important, but experienced wedding professionals can help you work within your budget and save in ways you wouldn’t even know!


If you are planning some DIY projects for your big day, just make sure you do it long BEFORE the big day arrives. Make it about the journey and don’t cram it in at the end thinking it will make your event better.


Plan traditions that mean something to you or create a new one because you can. IT IS YOUR DAY!


Have a lovely favor you truly want guests to take home? Great! Otherwise, think about putting those dollars into making memories that they can take home instead.


Our biggest takeaway? Find wedding professionals you love and then TRUST THE EXPERTS. They’ve got your back!


Thank you to our participating experts:

Kier, Firstlight Photography


Courtney, Weddings With Joy


Tara, Specialty Floral Design


Lori, Elegant Affairs

Published on October 15, 2020.

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