So you are engaged and looking forward to your dream wedding, but don’t know where to start and what to do! Some couples choose to hire a wedding planner and some decide to plan the wedding themselves. As a general rule, if you and your fiancé are busy with your work and cannot spare at least 12 hours/week (and more as the wedding date nears), then it is a good idea to hire a planner. Another reason to go with a planner is whether you have a big wedding in a venue that is not full-service (home, garden, museum, etc.). If you have the time, organization and creativity, you can choose to plan the wedding yourself. In either case, it is a good idea, for the wedding day, to have someone else take charge of the coordination, so you can enjoy your wedding!
As soon as you are engaged, there are important decisions to be made about the style of your wedding, size of guest list, budget and location. Sit together with your fiancé and go through each of these with thoughtfulness, realism, patience and an open mind.
Decisions such as hiring an Officiant, Photographer/Videographer, Musicians, Florist, Caterer, Sofreh Designer, etc. are just as important and require time and research. Remember, the work of these professionals will have a huge impact on how your wedding turns out, so take your time to carefully search and choose who you will work with. You can ask friends and family for referrals, attend bridal shows and get most of your information online, including availability, pricing and reviews from past clients. Of course you will want someone who is reliable, organized, detail-oriented and can bring your vision to life.
After you narrow down your options, you need to interview and decide who to hire. Make sure to carefully review each contract before signing an agreement. Here are some tips on hiring various vendors:
Officiant – The ceremony is at the center of your wedding and can really set the tone for the rest of the festivities, so look for an Officiant that you trust and who is willing to customize your service to reflect your wishes. Decide what kind of ceremony you want (religious, secular, traditional, modern), interview Officiants to determine whether their style and demeanor fits into your ceremony. Make sure to check reviews, references and video clips.
Photographer/Videographer – Remember that all your preparation, planning and expenses will be for one day, the day of your wedding. After that, the only thing that remains, besides wonderful memories, will be the photographs and video of the event, so take time and careful consideration to find someone who is right for you! You can get referrals from friends and family, or look online to see whether you like a particular photographer’s style. One of the most important considerations in choosing your photographer and videographer is whether you and your fiancé feel comfortable with him/her. Remember, the photographer/videographer will be with you the entire day of your wedding, so it’s important that they make you feel at ease.
Musicians – whether you choose to have live music or a DJ, it is best to attend an event where the band or DJ will be playing, so you see and hear them in action. You can also request a CD mix of their music, and ask whether you can provide a play-list for the wedding. Be sure to check references and online reviews. A good DJ will have the latest equipment and will know how to get everyone up and dancing at your wedding!
Florist – An ideal florist will offer in-season options, keeping in mind your style and color scheme. Flowers are usually ordered for bride and groom and the VIP’s, as well as the ceremony, reception center-pieces, cake and other areas. Make sure to read online reviews, see photos or arrangements and communicate your wishes clearly.
Caterer – Once you have decided whether to have a buffet or sit-down dinner, and have reviewed the menu options, you should schedule a tasting to make sure you are happy with a chosen menu. Depending on the venue, you may or may not have the option of bringing food from outside, although most venues, even those with in-house caterers, will allow one or two dishes if they are traditional wedding dishes in a particular culture (shirin polo).
Sofreh Designer – As you know, every Persian wedding ceremony will have, at its center, a beautifully decorated Sofreh Aghd, or ceremony spread. The spread will feature food and decorative items that are symbolic of well wishes for the couple’s life and marriage. There are many talented and professional Sofreh Designers whose work can be found online or through word-of-mouth. Once you have reviewed their photos and interviewed them, you can find one that fits with your style and budget.
These are just a few of the vendors you’ll be working with for your wedding! Stay tuned for more helpful tips in the next issue. And, as always, feel free to contact me for referrals, information or guidance!