If you recently got engaged and now are thinking “Oh shit – where do I start?” don’t worry you’re not the only one. TV and movies make wedding planning look like a blissful experience, but if you are a bride on budget like me, I’m here to tell you it’s not. Wedding planning can be stressful and you may ask your finace’ a million times “Can we just elope, who cares that we already paid the venue!” I get it sis. How much would you love me if I told you I can plan your entire wedding (well, most of it) in this one blog post? I’m not joking from your venue, to photography, to makeup. I have you covered! So, lets jump right in!
Venue: The Inn at Middletown
Picking your venue (and date) is one of the first things you should do after getting engaged. Venues book up very fast, especially during the “hot season”, which are late Spring, Summer, and Fall. Another thing to take into account are Saturday nights, which are extremely popular. How Justin and I saved some money while looking for a venue is by settling on a Friday night wedding and an “off season” date.
The Inn at Middletown is a beautiful classic place to get married. Also, what is better than partying the night away and then being able to walk to your hotel room? The Inn also has other special offers which include late night menus, room block deals, and breakfast the morning after.
The Inn has lots of great indoor and outdoor places for photos before or after your wedding. The exterior of the Inn is just as gorgeous as the inside which has a beautiful spiral staircase – perfect photo op!
Coordinator: Kelly at Top Knot Occasions
Once you’ve picked your date and venue and you truly feel lost on where to start, a wedding coordinator is the next piece of your puzzle. Wedding coordinators are wonderful human beings. They can hold your hand through the entire wedding process or they can help you fine tune the details of your wedding as you are coming to the end.
I meet Kelly in November of last year. Her enthusiasm about weddings was contagious and her ability to juggle many things and keep organized shone. Also a bride to be, she knows the ins and outs of the wedding industry.
Photographer: Courtney at Live Lovely Photography
Just like venues, photographers book up quick! It’s important to narrow down some photographers that take photos in a style that you are looking for. Every photographer has their own style, so make sure to check their website and Instagram to see how they shoot their photos. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can meet with these photographers to discuss packages and pricing. A lot of photographers will include engagement photos in with your wedding package – this a wonderful thing!
I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney (in real life) also in November of last year. She is a fellow CT blogger and I have followed her for some time on Instagram. Please check out the extremely creative Christmas cards her and her husband create, they are amazing! Courtney is wonderful to work with and takes beautiful photos. All these photos in this post – yah they’re hers!!
Wedding Dress: Bliss Bridal
Ok – so you have a venue, coordinator, and photographer. The next important item on your list is your wedding dress. Now, I am going to give you the same advice that everyone is going to give you and you are going to push it away. However, this is VERY important. Ready? Repeat after me – “I will be open to all dress styes.” Again. “I will be open to all dress styles.” Yes, we all have the same 90s wedding magazine under our bed with the dress circled since we were 10. BUT, you will be shocked that when you put on your dream dress and you actually don’t like it. I kid you not. I always thought I was a boho, lace, gal. I put on those dresses and they just weren’t me. Still feeling lost? Here are some things you should know before you go wedding dress shopping.
Ok, I’m done ranting. Let’s talk about Bliss Bridal. Located in Cheshire, CT, this bridal shop honestly has it all to make you feel amazing on your wedding day. (When I was playing around in their dresses, it wasn’t even my wedding day and I felt like a star.) They have a wide variety and selection of dresses (including prices!). They are appointment only shop – so call before you stop in!
Can I talk about appointment only shops for a sec? One thing, thank you. Appointment only shop means individualized attention from an expert. Dress shopping is overwhelming and having someone there to talk with and walk you through, styles, prices, designers, etc. is crucial.
Bridesmaid Dresses: Dynamite Designs
Bridesmaid dress shopping is the wild, wild west. I speak from experience on this. Different colors, different designers, different styles, but this designer only makes dresses in this color palette, and that style dress only comes in two colors – oh I could go on! Some people choose their dress for their girls or have ideas in what they would like them to wear to guide them. I however told my bridesmaids to saddle up and handed them some lassos.
Here is another secret – I’m full of them today. Bridesmaid dress shopping doesn’t have to be that difficult. Let me introduce you to Kristen from Dynamite Designs. Dynamite Designs features a wide variety of designs that cater to prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and mother of the bride dresses. Kristen was amazing to work with, she was like our own personal cheerleader during our shoot day. Fluffing dresses, fixing hair, just an overall amazing personality!
Makeup: Lauren Page
I don’t mean to scare you, because I feel like I might be with all this “they book up quick” talk. But, let me let you in on a… you guessed it A LITTLE SECRET. If you have found a make up artist you like… book ’em! Now, if you are planning a 1 year engagement or a 6 month engagement I don’t want you to think the pickings for amazing wedding vendors will be slim, they won’t. There are a ton of amazing people to hire for your wedding day. So don’t stress, believe me there are a million things to stress about for you wedding, your time will come.
Now, let chat about Lauren. Do you ever just connect with someone? Well, I totally did with Lauren. We had amazing conversations and both connected on how we became obsessed with make up and beauty by watching YouTube videos. Because Lauren and I were working on a styled shoot together she had makeup directions from the coordinator, but took time to ask us how we like our make up done and tried to make both visions work.
I won’t lie I was extremely nervous when she pulled out the airbrush machine. I have never had airbrush done, but Lauren changed my life that day! She also made my lashes look bomb!
Wedding Accessories: DV Couture Bridal
Don’t forget to add sparkle to your wedding day – even if you aren’t a sparkle gal. A little shimmer on a veil or beautiful handcrafted hair clip can add such a special touch.
DV Couture Bridal located in Hartford, Connecticut offers a variety of one of a kind, hand made items special for your wedding day. If you are looking to add a little shimmer, try a belt, hair piece or veil. Hair pieces are perfect day of gifts for your bridesmaids to add something special to their hair.
Calligraphy: Tara at TS Calligraphy
If you are looking for signs for your wedding or personalized invites Tara is your gal. A master calligraphist her work is amazing! Handmade signs at your wedding add such a personal touch! Tara creates amazing pieces and she isn’s just for hire for weddings. She is available for any invite or personal signs needed, a quick brainstorming session with Tara and your vision can become a reality.
Tara is such a nice person and a joy to be around. She is easy to work with and can help make your vision a reality. Thats the wonderful thing about working with a small business owner. The colors, the style, and the material can all be customized. It’s so fun getting to work with someone who is so willing to help create your vision!
Cake: Sofy Cakes
Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake , everybody – cake! Did you know its bad luck to not eat your own cake on your wedding day. I know your thinking – heck?! Of course I am going to eat my own cake on my wedding day… crazier things have happened.
Choosing a cake can be hard, its got to look good and taste good. Sofy Cakes nails both! I am coming to you from first hand experience, I’ve eaten a Sofy Cake and it was so good. Located in Wethersfield, CT Sofy Cakes makes beautiful on of a kind cakes!
Flowers: Amber Works Floral Design
Are you guys still with me? I know we’ve been on quite a journey through out this post, but I did say at the beginning I was going to plan your entire wedding. Now, last but certainly not least – flowers! If you want jaw dropping florals on your wedding day then you need to check out Amber Works Floral Design.
Pops of colors, elegant style, sturdy – these flowers are gorgeous. Amber can help you with all your floral needs for your wedding. From her bouquets to her center pieces she will be able to help your floral vision become a reality!
Yay – we did it! Congrats on your new planned wedding! Send me an invite, k?
I would also like to give credit to the two amazing models I worked with and who were also featured in this blog post: Michelle and Paul.