“Plan a wedding,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. Like many others, I do not have a single clue what I am doing when it comes to wedding planning. I’ve relied heavily on friends who know the ins and outs, and what I thought would be the most enjoyable part of the process has turned out to be the least. I’m talking venue hunting.
Seeing venues is fun, so I don’t mean to hint otherwise. The problems lie less in what you see, and more in what you don’t. While the limit does not exist for questions you should be asking when touring venues, here are some must-ask queries with answers that may surprise you.
1. Do You Have A Designated Ceremony Area?
If you plan on hosting your ceremony at a different location than your reception, you can skip this question. If you plan on hosting onsite, do a little digging about the venue offerings for a ceremony. For starters, can they host the ceremony? If they can, is there a designated area for the ceremony? I recently toured a venue, and when asking if I could host a ceremony on site the host replied “yes”. I asked to see the ceremonial site and they then pointed to a small patch of makeshift grass between two parking lots. While it took physical restraint to not gasp and/or laugh, it was seriously eye-opening that even the most beautiful venues aren’t always what they seem. The other kicker is the ceremonial fee, which is a self-explanatory fee for hosting your ceremony on site. According to WeddingWire, the average cost in the US is $600, but for big cities like NY and LA, expect something closer to $2,000.
2. Do You Have A Bridal And Groom Suite On Site?
I’ll be the first to say the bride is the *most* important on the wedding day (bridezilla in the making here), but I want my groom to be treated like a king as well. I was shocked to see how many venues only had one wedding suite, which meant only one of us could get ready on site. My fiancé is irrationally laid-back and would get ready in the parking lot if he had to, but not all couples are comfortable with a single-suite venue. While it may seem minor right now, it’s important to think about what getting ready offsite day-of means for the person who chooses to do so (renting a hotel suite, renting a large car or limo for wedding party, etc.).
3. Can I Bring A Hair And Makeup Team To The Bridal Suite?
THIS is a question I can’t believe I had to ask at venues. To me, a bridal suite was an obvious getting ready location for myself and my bridesmaids. However, I quickly learned this is not always the case. Some venues do NOT allow you to physically get ready in the suite. They must arrive with hair and makeup done, with no outside vendors allowed in to help prepare the wedding party. Personally, I am really looking forward to getting ready with my bridesmaids all together in the bridal suite, and then waltzing out the door and into the ceremony, so this was an important ask in my book.
4. What Are The Different Rates?
I semi knew this was a “thing” going into venue touring, but I was honestly shook at how drastic the price differences were between “on” and “off-peak” months, Friday/Saturday/Sunday, and time of day. Most venues break down their pricing first by month, with May, June, August, September, and October being the most popular (and therefore, the most expensive) months. From there, choosing your day of the week also dictates the price, with Saturday being the most expensive. AND FROM THERE, the time of day further influences the pricing. A daylight wedding (typically 12pm to 5pm) is often discounted, whereas an evening wedding tends to be more expensive (typically 6 or 7pm to 12 or 1am). So, be warned that Saturday night wedding at sunset in summer WILL impact your budget more than you want it to (I’m talking double the price of a Sunday daytime wedding in April).
5. Where Do The Extra Fees Go?
Venues with in-house catering will charge a per plate fee which covers the guests’ attendance and dinner/open bar. Venues who allow you to bring outside vendors will often charge a flat venue rate. But one thing common across the board is the added 20-25% “service charge”. What is this, you may ask? No, it’s not to compensate the waitstaff, the bartenders, or the cleanup crew. It actually typically goes towards any collateral damage (broken plates, carpet stains, etc.), and the rest goes into the owners’ pockets. If, on a venue tour, you ask what the fee goes to and you hear “it goes back into venue upkeep”, be aware of what this *really* means. It may bother you, or you may be fine with it. If you ask about the service fee going toward service and you’re told that the waitstaff makes “regular minimum wage” instead of “servers minimum wage”, just note that you will be tipping another 20% on top of your 20% service fee and 8.875% tax fee (and a potential cleaning fee). Just to put this in perspective, if your wedding is $50,000, with the fees, cleaning, and gratuity, you’ll actually be spending about $75,000. I know, I was just as shocked as you are rn!!
6. Do You Require Chair Rentals?
Add this to the list of questions I didn’t know I had to ask. For reasons unknown, I assumed with a wedding venue came chairs and tables and normal seating arrangements. For many venues (especially those with in-house catering) this is true, but not for all. Some venues require chair rentals for the space, and this is what I call annoying. Add it to the category of “fees I never thought I’d have to pay.”
7. Do You Require Preferred Vendor Use?
If you have specific vendors in mind ahead of time, this question is an important one for you. Most, if not all, venues have a list of preferred vendors—vendors they work with often, trust to work in their space, and recommend to their clients. Choosing these vendors often come with perks such as no plate fee for the vendors working the wedding, no insurance cost, and the obvious (and best) perk, discounts. That being said, some venues require you choose a vendor from their lists (this is especially true for flowers and DJs) and is something to confirm before falling in love with a venue or outside vendor.
8. How Many Hours Are Included In Rental Space?
This question is semi self-explanatory, but an important ask. How many hours are “included” is a polite way of asking can I come in early? Can I stay late? Will there be more fees for those extended hours outside of my actual party? How long is my actual party? Get those answers and avoid those fees!
9. Is Parking Available And Included?
Oh hey there, another fee. Parking on premises isn’t always included, but when it is, you can guarantee it comes with a fee. There are often different “levels” to this parking fee. Typically, couples can choose to play a lot flat fee which allows their guests to park for free, but park themselves. There’s also the option to have the guests pay for parking, which feels really reasonable to some and really jarring to others. But, if you’re feeling fancy, there’s also the option to have a valet service for all guests driving in, and this is where it gets pricy. Worth it? Only you reading this can be the judge of that.
10. Do You Offer A Planner?
While some people choose to go the route of planning their own wedding in full (me), others (people smarter than me) go the route of hiring a planner. Planners have pros and cons—pros being the fact that they know what they are doing, cons being that they often work with specific vendors and venues and may be biased with their recommendations. But, the most ideal situation (in my eyes) is finding a venue you love that assigns you a planner to help handle the rest of the arrangements. This person works specifically for your venue, so they know every single issue you may run into, and therefore are perhaps the most powerful point of contact throughout the entire process. It’s good to know if your venue offers a person to help, how far out they begin helping you, and if they are included in your package.
While there are an infinite amount of obvious questions to be asked, these are the questions you don’t want to forget about. Happy planning!
It’s undoubtedly the world’s most unanswerable question. Who should get a plus-one to your wedding? I’ll be honest, I never got what everyone was bitching about until I started planning my own wedding. On one hand, you don’t want complete strangers there, but you also don’t want your coworker sitting in a corner by herself moping because she doesn’t know anybody. It’s a hard code to crack, but I’m going to take one for the team and confront the plus-one dilemma head on. Here’s how to decide who gets a plus-one to your wedding.
The first thing you’ll want to do is come up with a rule that you apply to all guests across the board. Whether you decide that your guests and their plus-ones need to be dating for at least six months or you have to meet them before they attend your wedding, make a rule with your fiancé and don’t budge when random people start questioning you. You can’t really print this on your invitation without seeming like a bridezilla, so try to casually spread the word amongst your wedding party and beyond. If you have an aunt or friend with loose lips, make sure they know damn well what the plus-one rule is. For once you’ll be thankful for their inability to keep information to themselves. ping
When To Break Your Own Rule
So you’ve decided on the six-month rule and then realize that means every one of your college friends has a date except one friend who is single AF. Be firm, but don’t be heartless about your rule. Your sorority sister Julie shouldn’t be stuck fifth-wheeling all night; it’s not her fault guys are assholes. I hate to refer to this as a pity plus-one, but, it’s a pity plus-one. Remember, just because you offer someone a plus-one doesn’t mean they’ll bring one. Your wedding might be the perfect place for Julie to find a rebound. But if you’re inviting a coworker who doesn’t know many (or any) of the other guests, it’ll make them feel more comfortable to bring someone they know.
When To Stick To The Rule
At my wedding, you’ll be able to come alone, bring a Plus One, or choose a Minus One, where you can uninvite one person of your choosing, no questions asked
— Sean Holloway (@CoolSeanDotCom) November 12, 2017
If a big group of your friends are coming and more than two of them are single, they don’t need a plus-one. That’s when the single guys or gals can band together and
flirt be there for each other. You don’t need to give your fiancé’s frat brothers free reign to bring whatever girl they want to your wedding, trust me. There’s power in numbers, so when there’s a group of single friends, you can pass on extending an extra invitation to each of them.
Who ALWAYS Gets A Plus-One
Everyone in the wedding party. This is non-negotiable, basic etiquette. Even if you know the best man will never in a million years find a girl to date by the time you tie the knot, he still gets a plus-one. Even if your bridesmaid has made a goal for herself to find a date to your wedding, no matter who it is, you have to give her a plus-one. Hopefully your wedding party has more common sense than that and won’t bring a total rando for the hell of it, but you never know.
Help Me, I’m Poor
If at some point a guest confronts you about why they didn’t get a plus-one or if they’re asking for one, just blame it on the budget or capacity limit. Explain that your budget didn’t allow wiggle room for extra guests or that the venue manager made you cut your list because you were over capacity. Anything you can say to take the burden off you is a solid approach.
I wish for our sanity as brides-to-be that there was one simple answer to this daunting question. All I can say is good luck, and godspeed to you as you embark on your personal plus-one journey.
Images: Kendra Allen / Unsplash; Giphy; coolseandotcom / Twitter
Congratulations! You’re engaged! That shiny rock is shimmering on your finger, your manicure is rockin’, your status has officially been changed on social media, and now it’s time to start planning your wedding! YAY! Or, is that, “yay…”? For some of you, your S.O. is completely on board with the planning process, and is excited to take responsibility for their portion of the wedding planning. For others, it’s pretty common to have one partner much more involved than the other. So how the f*ck are you supposed to find and adhere to an appropriate balance of duties? It’s not easy, but there are a sh*tload of tools to help you and your partner break it down so that you can avoid a breakdown.
This happens with ALL couples, and across gender lines. But, whether it’s due to societal gender influences or just personal preferences, I see it more frequently in heterosexual partnerships; the bride is the one bearing the brunt of the “project management” work. Oftentimes, the bride is put in the position of pestering her fiancé to complete the tasks he promised to do. And it sucks! And it’s bullsh*t! Outside of the wedding world, this actually has a name: emotional labor. Originally a reference to the workplace, emotional labor recently evolved to reference the weight and effort of acting as project manager in the home―especially the seemingly invisible jobs no one else seems to track or recognize. Sound familiar?
If you’ve listened to my podcast or read my blog, then you know that I preach perspective. I am a firm believer in that how you and your S.O. plan your wedding (together) sets the tone for the beginning of your marriage. So, get your marriage started on the right foot by evenly distributing the emotional labor of the wedding planning process. Communicate with each other! Connect with each other! Use technology to your benefit to help reduce potential friction, so that you can stay sane during your wedding planning and actually get closer to your partner along the way. How? I’ll give you six ways.
1. Communication Is Key
Talk to each other! Have a level-setting conversation. Before you begin the wedding planning process (um, they don’t call it a process for nothing), talk about what each partner wants the wedding day to look and feel like. Discuss what’s most important to each of you, and how you can plan on incorporating those personal touches into your day. Then help your partner understand the enormity of the wedding planning process. It’s a f*cking undertaking! And, with a full-time job and other responsibilities, it’s a process made for two! Dude doesn’t have to be excited about the flowers, or color scheme, or fine china. He just has to be excited to marry you, and help with the logistics.
2. Keep Your Friends Close, And Wedding Tech Closer
Make wedding tech your friend! We use technology every. single. day. So, why stop now? Technology has the ability to be your ultimate project manager/wedding planner. For example, this cool-ass wedding tool, Coda, is amazing! All you have to do is enter your wedding date, a few key details, and POOF! It creates a timeline and sets (loose) deadlines for you. Coda blends documents and spreadsheets that can go everywhere with you; it’s like an app, but so much better. Check out this template. It breaks down big wedding tasks like the guest list and mailing invitations into a series of smalls tasks. It includes automated email reminders for your S.O. to keep things on track, among other cool planning tools. Plus, it’s completely customizable. So use it, bride!
3. Divide And Conquer
Remember that term, emotional labor? Talk about it. This comic cracked me up, and pretty much nails the definition. Discuss what it would look like to have a balanced wedding planning process, and once you have your task list, divide ownership. Make it clear that it’s important to you that your S.O. puts in the work. There will be many instances in your future where each partner is going to need to work on something that they don’t really want to do or go somewhere they don’t want to go, etc. Welcome to marriage. Here’s your head start!
4. Speak Up But Not Out
Don’t lose your voice! If there’s an imbalance, don’t be afraid to call it outーbitchlessly. If your S.O. is dragging their feet on a responsibility they said they would own, avoid the temptation to bluntly criticize or nag them (I know this is SUPER hard, but resist). Instead, keep it solution-oriented. Tell them how you feel when you are overburdened with wedding planning responsibilities. Hopefully they’ll respond with empathy and compassion. And, if not, then table the discussion for a time when you both have a minute to chill out.
5. Make Sure You’re On Track
Check in often with each other, and with that tech tool you’ve been using. Treat planning your wedding like a second job, because it is. Like any good one-on-one meeting with a manager at work, these check-ins should not be a run-through of outstanding action items (ugh). They should be a time to talk about how the division of work feels, what’s going well, and what could go better. Point out progress that you’ve made as well as your S.O.’s progress. And be a good listener. If you hear something you don’t like, stay receptive and absorb your partner’s feedback without being defensive or feeling like it’s a personal attack. Seeking to understand your partner is a great way to feel reconnected with them and get back on track.
6. Look At The Bigger Picture
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Keep it in perspective. Odds are, you’re still going to notice an imbalance of duties. Usually, planning and project execution is one person’s forte much more than the other. That doesn’t mean they’re any less suited to be your partner. Try to keep things in perspective and recognize that wedding planningーjust like marriageーwill be full of ups, downs, and compromises. This is just one event (one very, very important event) in the grand scheme of your lives together, and your relationship with your partner will always be evolving.
When your partner does get it right, don’t forget to acknowledge and appreciate them. That’s good advice for married life, too. Got it? Good.
Images: Morgan McDonald / Unsplash; betchesbrides / Instagram (3)
Every once in a while, when something horrible and unexpected happens like you end up catching feelings or your boyfriend suddenly “has a birthday,” you may be required to plan a date. And while you are very specific in the types of dates you will accept from men, when it comes to planning dates of your own you’re like “…idk…do you like shots?” And look, caring about what is going on with other people has never been your strong suit, but if you’re planning a date you must actually like this person (insane but okay), so it is worth not fucking up. As a woman living in a world of fuckboys, you know what a bad date looks like—too long, too involved, and not enough alcohol. But what does a good date actually look like? I mean, as far as likelihoods go, having an enjoyable date with another man is right up there with seeing Kylie Jenner with a newspaper. So how does one end up enjoying a date? Well, alcohol, mostly. But you already know that. Here are five tips for ensuring that the first date you plan is not also the last thing you do before he ghosts you forever.
Don’t Get Too Fancy
Not only will this save you money, it’ll also keep things chill and relaxed. Like, sure, you want to go to NYC’s hottest restaurant in theory, but once you show up for your reservation and realize that your table is sandwiched between some sports guy you vaguely recognize and Ivanka Trump, you’ll be second guessing your choice of crop top, and your date will def wish he’d left his RompHim at home. (Sidebar: If your date shows up wearing a RompHim, call the police.) Try going to a place that everybody likes, but is also chill, like Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn. It makes the top 10 of every Brooklyn eatery list, but it’s still pizza, aka the chillest of all foods.
Group Activities Are For Children
As tempting as an adult trampolining class may seem, avoid group activities like the plague. Getting to know one person is difficult enough without adding a gaggle of randos whose chill level you cannot vouch for into the picture. Just think about how many strangers you develop an intense hatred for on a daily basis. Chances are, at least one of these will be in your group, and then you’ll be faced with a very difficult decision. Do you roast this person and show your potential bae your bitchy side before it’s time? Or do you stand there with a smile pretend you give a fuck about Kyle from Wisconsin’s Grandmother’s Cheese Soda recipe? Both seem unbearable.
Screw Being Original
Look, I’ve seen rom coms. I know that “magical” dates are supposed to be original and personal and involve flower petals. But honestly, fuck all that noise. If you know of a date that sounds good or works, do that. Like, if your best friend and her fiancé sealed the deal on one of those NYC hour-long wine cruises, why reinvent the wheel? I mean, realistically your entire personal style, Instagram captions, and political views are all stolen from somewhere, so why not also steal your date ideas? At least this low level thievery might get you laid.
Or at least, keep it indoor/outdoor. IDK if you’ve seen the sorry excuse for summer we’ve been having lately, but you should always account for the fact that it may start raining and suddenly your very sweet Prospect Park picnic has turned into a backyard mud wrestling event, and it’s not even the sexy kind that guys like. Obviously rooftop bars and the aforementioned hour-long booze cruises are all good, but maybe save the hiking for your third or fourth date. Or never. Never is also a really good option.
If All Else Fails, Groupon
Listen, when it comes to planning a good date, you’re going to have to relinquish some of your pride (I know it’s hard, and you have a lot, but hear me out) and just get a fucking Groupon for something cool. Whatever. You don’t have time to be original. Honestly, this dude is lucky that you’re even planning a date for him in the first place, given how many Netflix and Chills you’ve dealt with in your life. The fact that you just dropped $29 on a hookah/drinks/appetizer package (a legit deal that I just found) should honestly make you wife material instantly.
If there’s anything betches hate, it’s planning ahead. Most of the time, this means we lead the kind of carefree, Instagrammable lifestyle that lands us in whacky-yet-fun situations at 4am on a Saturday night. Every once in a while, though, it has its drawbacks—the kind where you were supposed to leave for the airport 15 minutes ago, the Uber is 30 seconds away, and you still have no idea what to pack for your trip, you beautiful human disaster. Two days later, you’re unpacking at a hostel in Bora Bora and realize you left your toothbrush at home, along with your sunglasses, underwear, and most importantly, your new bikini. What’s the point of vacay if you’re going to come back with last season’s tan line?
I hate to say it, but traveling does require a teensy amount of foresight (ugh). Otherwise, you’ll end up spending your partying budget on shit you should have brought with you, and that, my friends, is a tragedy. Here’s what to toss in a bag next time you’re scrambling to pack before a flight.
1. New Clothes
Social media was basically made for bragging about traveling, so pack at least one new outfit—or at least one that’s new to Instagram. There’s nothing more embarrassing than repeating an outfit you’ve worn in the last six months for the whole world to see/ridicule.
A good rule of thumb with your other outfits, BTW, is to bring at least one pair of jeans, shorts, and a bathing suit, then a couple different shirts. Don’t forget a dress that can double between day and evening, on the off chance that you meet some handsome young oil magnate on the plane who offers to take you to dinner that night. Weirder things have happened.
2. Two Pairs Of Shoes
You might think shoes are worth all the space they take up in your bag, but you would be wrong. Narrow your shoes down to two pairs: fancy shoes for when you go out and a pair of comfy flats for when you’re staggering through the airport with a suitcase heavy enough to have its own gravitational pull.
3. Skincare And Makeup
Considering how much makeup the average betch owns, bringing along your entire kit might require its own suitcase. The absolute essentials are deodorant, face wash (in a tiny container), tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, a neutral eyeshadow palette, mascara, and lip balm. Emphasis on the lip balm—airplanes turn your skin into a peeling, desiccated disaster if you’re not careful.
4. Too Much Underwear
Intentionally going commando is one thing, but if you forget to pack enough underwear, your chances of flashing everyone as you’re leaving the club skyrocket. When a Hollywood starlet does this, it’s risqué, but for those of us who aren’t C-list actresses, it’s just sloppy. Usually, I’ll just pack a pair of underwear for every day I’ll be gone, then throw in two more—one that’s sexy, just in case, and one that’s comfy and graying, also just in case. The Red Tide doesn’t give a fuck about convenient timing.
5. Cheap Toothbrush
Only pack your regular toothbrush under the direst circumstances—you know you’re just going to lose it if you bring it along. Instead, buy one of those flimsy $1 toothbrushes from CVS and keep it in your bag all the time, so you don’t have the chance to forget to pack it. How many toothbrushes have you left strewn in hotel rooms across the globe by now?
Don’t you want to be able to check out the guys who buy you drinks? Remember your fucking glasses.
7. Empty Flask
You never know when it’ll come in handy. Actually, I do know—it’s when you remember how much you spent on your plane ticket and have to sneak alcohol into a bar to save money.
8. Phone Charger
Obviously, you’re going to be documenting your every move while you’re traveling, and no phone is equipped to make it through more than a few hours of constant Snapchatting. Bring your phone charger. If you have more than one, pick the longer cord so you can sit as far away as possible from the crowd of smelly, cranky travelers clustered around the airport outlet.
Note: If, god forbid, you own a selfie stick, deposit it in the trash can on your way out the door. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.