This week, our real brides come together to share three confessions about their weddings. Tweet us @bridalguidemag with the hashtag "#realbrides" to share yours!
Minutes after Michael popped the question, he took a moment to exclaim, “Now go nuts!” I gazed at him, still smiling, and gave him an inquisitive look. He replied, “You know, with planning. You’ve been wedding obsessed for a while now, so you can finally begin preparing for our big day. Let me know when you want to start visiting venues.”
I thought my hours of research (i.e. watching countless episodes of David Tutera’s “My Fair Wedding” and TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress”) would have prepared me for this moment. Making matters worse, as soon as we began telling family and friends our exciting news, we were bombarded with the same two questions: “When are you getting married? Where will the reception be?” Needless to say, I felt extremely unprepared and behind schedule.
So, what’s a girl to do? Get organized! BG brides, follow the helpful "BRIDE" acronym (Budget, Research, Ignore, Discover, Explore) to get off to a running start:
1. BUDGET: I was very lucky that Michael’s cousin Kim wed a year prior to our engagement. She offered us priceless guidance. Kim e-mailed us an Excel spreadsheet (see photo below) that she used throughout her planning. It included an extremely detailed list of various wedding related expenses. We plugged in our own numbers to figure out The Grand Total (as Mike likes to call it). Creating the budget prior to hiring vendors guided our planning and ensured that our wedding day didn’t break the bank. (Thanks Kim!)
2. RESEARCH: Once the budget was set, the fun began! Do your Google homework and search for top-rated venues in your surrounding areas (in my case, it was New York City and New Jersey), as well as reviews by real brides. I relied heavily on New York Wedding Guide Locations Directory and various advertisements in bridal magazines. Mike and I reviewed the following resources and made a list of about twelve venues we thought had potential.
3. IGNORE: Everyone has an opinion—Mike and I have probably heard most of them regarding wedding venues. Whenever I expressed interest in having a Manhattan wedding, several times people unintentionally tried to discourage me; “That’s going to be way too expensive!” and “Are you sure you can afford that?” I recommend ignoring outsiders' comments until you do your own research. Remember, when it comes to your wedding, only two opinions really matter.
Left: Wave Hill; Right: The Essex House
4. DISCOVER: Disregarding the words of naysayers, Mike and I ventured into Manhattan and New Jersey to review our list of options. During each outing, I brought along a camera and notepad so I could thoroughly document our findings. Much to my surprise, venues that I thought I’d love (Wave Hill and the Essex House, pictured above) didn’t make the cut, both being a little too stuffy and traditional for our taste. I highly recommend on site visits for the venues you are considering to help you determine your wedding day style.
5. EXAMINE: The outcome of our venue search resulted in four possible options: the W Hotel, The Loeb Central Park Boathouse, the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, and Bridgewater. The W Hotel was ruled out due to size (too small for us), while Bridgewater was cut due to décor. And then there were two…Michael and I reviewed our pictures, compared and contrasted the experiences we had at each venue and consulted our budget. Both venues offered incredible ambiance, but one venue fell short in two areas for us: food and service. (Let’s just say we were looking for a more impressive menu and prompt attention). After two months, our search was finally over. Mike and I were thrilled to book the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers (pictured below) for our upcoming nuptials.
Crista asks: What tools or advice have helped keep you organized for the big day?
P.S. If you would like a copy of the budget I spoke of to assist you during planning, please post your name and e-mail below.
Crista Camerlengo is a real bride and the co-founder of Style She Wrote, who will tie the knot in July 2012 with Michael, her fiancé of six years. This chic NYC couple describes their wedding style as “modern romance"—fitting for a pair who had their first date at a quaint seaport and became engaged in the same spot, overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. This fashion-forward blogger loves to infuse her traditional taste with unexpected contemporary accents.