Photo by: Erin S.

When to Send Invites

Michelle Nicole, wedding and event planner, suggests sending out your wedding invites 2-3 months prior to your wedding and requiring RSVP’s 3.5 weeks before your wedding. This helps you to plan your seating chart, favors, meals, and alcohol numbers. To me, these are just suggestions and if you think it’ll be better for yourself or your guests to send out invites sooner than 2-3 months, go for it!

Here’s how my timeline on save the dates and invites personally have gone (remember my wedding is in California and probably 90% of our guests are coming from one of these places: New Zealand, London, Spain, Minnesota, or Arizona). I had several guests asking specifics (where to stay, what to do, when it was, how to get there, etc) so I chose to send my invites out as soon as I could along with a wedding website. Our invites and save the dates were also sent via email because of the distance between all our guests. We also have a “backup” list of people we really want there but don’t have the budget for as of now. I told my guests that our RSVP date is just preferred but I wasn’t strict on it because it’s so far in advance.

Burke wedding date: September 14th 2019

Burke wedding save the dates sent on: around October 27th-28th 2018

Burke wedding invites sent on: December 10th 2018

RSVP date: June 14th 2019 (three months prior – but most of our guests will know by then anyways)

Number of yes’s as of today: 29

Number of no’s as of today: 0

 

When sending invites here are a few things to not forget:

  1. Brides name goes FIRST and then grooms name.
  2. If parents are contributing, it is traditional to include them in the invite (sample below). Not needed especially if mentioned on your wedding website instead (which is what we did).
  3. Check postage cost before fully committing to a style of card
  4. Proofread – over and over again!
  5. Get a custom stamp with your names/address to save time
  6. If you’re not putting in the guest’s names on the RSVP card for them, number the RSVP and keep track of who you sent it to (small in the corner or somewhere that isn’t visible to guests). I have seen SO many times that guests forget to label who is attending and then you have no way of knowing who sent that RSVP.
  7. Include a stamp on all your RSVP cards so guests don’t have to.
  8. If you’re having a wedding website, include instructions / the link to go check it out. This can also be a great way for guests to RSVP.
  9. Print extra invites (one for a keepsake, one to be photographed at your wedding with all your other little details, some for extra guests if you have a backup list like us, etc).
  10. If you’re not printing invites, still print one for yourself, your grandparents, and your parents.
  11. Stick to the style of your save the dates / style of your wedding.
  12. Be specific about who is invited (plus ones, just the named guests, children, etc).
  13. If you’re not having a wedding website or other place for guests to find out more information, include all other applicable information such as meal choices, dietary restrictions, guest accommodation, bar situation (cash bar, open bar, no alcohol, BYO, etc), transportation, dress code, parking availability, if it’s accessible by uber/taxi/lyft, gift registry, location/address, map if needed, ceremony time, brief schedule if reception doesn’t follow the ceremony, contact information, things to do in the area, etc. Most of this will go on a separate “details” card you’ll need to order/provide.
  14. Purchase matching thank you cards ahead of time (one less thing to figure out later) unless you want your thank you cards to use your wedding photographs. 
 
Thanks to everyone who sent me their invites to use for this blog <3 If you have images you’d like me to use for future blogs (whether you’re a photographer, other vendor, or bride) please contact me! 
 
Cover image provided by: Erin S. 

 

Signing off, 

Mary Taylor <3

mary taylor weddings, burke wedding
Our Invite!
Photo by: Aisha R.
Photo by: Ari J.
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Why & When to Send Save the Dates

When planning a wedding, timing becomes one of the most important factors. Getting your save the dates out (if you’re choosing to send them) should go out between 8 and 10 months before your wedding. Factors that can change if or when you send them out include if you’re having a destination wedding, you have guests coming in from out of town, it’s a holiday weekend, it’s on a weekday, or it’s during a busy time of the year for other weddings.

Shutterfly did a post about called 11 Reasons to Send Save the Dates.

Here are a few of their points:

  1. Save the dates are not for you. (What they mean is it’s not to get you excited for your wedding but to get your guests excited as well!)
  2. Share your engagement photography (What a beautiful way to show off those gorgeous professional photographs you have!)
  3. Introduce your wedding theme (Another way to get your guests excited and prepared for what’s to come! Also, a way to secure your ideas on theme and style) – On this note, for myself, I didn’t quite make my save the dates the way I wish I had. I loved the idea but in the end feel they didn’t completely match our theme. Check ours out below!
  4. Let guests make arrangements. (This is the most important part! Especially if you’re having guests from out of town and you really want them to attend)
  5. Gather addresses (Yay! This is a great excuse to gather addresses so that when it’s time to send out your invites, you’re all set to go)

 

Some ways to save money on save the dates:

  1. Email your guests the save the dates (obviously not ideal but if you cannot afford to ship them, it’s better than nothing)
  2. Just send them to people who are from out of town/will have to travel in order to attend your wedding
  3. Look for coupons through online printers such as shutterfly. Use these links for discounts. 10 FREE cards click here. 40% Tiny Prints click here.
  4. Make sure you’re printing cards that are easy and inexpensive to ship (check with your post office before spending hundreds of dollars on cards that will cost a ton to ship)! Especially if you’re going to send something heavy (a magnet, etc)
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How to Save Money Online Shopping

Money Saving Tips for online Shopping!

Okay brides (and grooms), I’ve got a few tips for saving money on your wedding shopping. First, I’d like to say that as a vendor and bride myself, I have firsthand seen people suggest to lie to your vendors about the type of event your having. I want to be clear that this doesn’t usually work in your favor (I will have another post about this coming up) so please do not lie to your vendors to try to save a few bucks. We all know this is one of the most important and expensive days of your lives so you want to do it to the best of your ability while not spending so much that you could buy a new car.

  1. Ebates. I honestly thought that Ebates was a scam but after doing research and signing up, I have earned more than $35 and my partner (who has his own account) has more than $20. It’s free and simple to use. They give you CASH BACK on purchases that you’re already making online. Some of my favorite stores that they work with are Aliexpress, Shutterfly (if you haven’t used Shutterfly before you can even get a free 8×8 book which would be perfect to show off your engagement photos), Macy’s, Amazon, Clinique, and many more! I have downloaded the plug in for my browser which makes it so much easier to us.
  2. Aliexpress! Honestly, I should do a whole blog about the things I have gotten from Aliexpess because so much of my wedding (and household items) have been purchased off them. I have never had any issues with the quality of things I have received (some even custom made). However, be prepared that shipping does take a while. My fiancé likes to say, “They make you wait until you forget about it so when you do get it in the mail you’re wondering what it is!”
  3. The Amazon credit card (especially great for Prime members but beneficial either way). This credit card is completely free, has no international fees, and gives you 5% back on all Prime purchases plus 5% back at wholefoods. They also give 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. 1% back on everything else. I personally have and use this card and have earned hundreds of dollars back on Amazon purchases. Amazon Prime is also great for those that want to purchase things last minute!
  4. Alibaba. This platform was a bit daunting to me in the beginning because it is more of wholesale type company. We purchased two hundred custom designed (by me) favors for our guests (keeping it a secret as of now but trust me, they’re incredible). Each item came out to less than US$2.50 each (to give you some perspective, if I were to buy these at another store – not customized – they would have been around US$8-15 each).
  5. Etsy. Etsy is great for handmade gifts, clothes, and especially, signage for your wedding. I will have another blog on all of the Etsy recommendations I have! I found printable signs for less than $1!
  6. MarryMe (which also has Ebates discounts) is a great site that was recommended to a group that I am in on Facebook. They have really inexpensive wedding related decorations and essentials!

I hope this helps you to save a bit of money in your wedding planning process! If you have any other suggestions for myself or other brides, please comment below!

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Who to Invite?!

You’ve got your date and your venue and now you need to decide who to invite! Is it feeling more real yet?

Depending on your budget/personal preference you may be having a small wedding or a large wedding. Budget to some extent inevitably determines how many people you can invite. Sit down with your partner and each write out a list of who you need to be there (these are your “for sures”). This could include your immediate family members, someone else who helped raise you, grandparents, and your best friends. Then, write another list of wants. Who do you really want to be there but if your budget / venue can’t handle this many, you would still be able to carry on. This could include extended family, other friends, and family friends. Lastly, write a list of those you’d like there but wouldn’t mind if you didn’t have the room/budget for them. This could include your parents friends, coworkers, and other friends that you’re not as close with.

Things to remember:

  1. If your parents are paying for or contributing to the wedding, confirm with them their expectations of how many people they would like to invite.
  2. This is your wedding! If there are certain people you don’t want there, stand your ground.
  3. Find out your venue’s minimum and maximum number of guest requirements.
  4. Do you want this to be a kid free, all kids, or some kids wedding? For example: Our wedding is kid free minus our niece, two nephews, and a friend traveling from England who is bringing their two year old son. I will address different ways to make it clear to your guests who is and is not invited in another blog.
  5. People that are married or in long term relationships should both be invited. It is not required that others receive a plus one. It is personal preference and depends on the size/budget of your wedding. 
  6. Do you want to allow everyone to bring a plus one or only allow named guests that you have invited?
  7. If certain people stress you out or give you anxiety and you think they may be trouble at your wedding, don’t invite them (unless you genuinely want them there). Some may think this one sounds obvious but the amount of posts I’ve read about this topic is astonishing.
  8. You don’t have to invite everyone all at once. You can send out your “for sures” first. Then, after you get some replies, see if you have enough no’s to invite more guests. This is a great way to stick to your budget.
  9. It doesn’t matter if your partner is inviting more people than you as long as you’re both happy with who you’ve both invited.
  10. Depending of who you are inviting, a lot may say no so be prepared to have a lot less than you invited. For those having a smaller wedding (under 50 guests), you may know that all those guests will show up and this may not be the case. Our wedding has a limit of 85 people and we are 99% about most of those guests – even the ones that haven’t RSVPed yet because they are almost all family members or long time friends that we know will do anything to be there!

Photo by Annie Gray on Unsplash

Mary_Taylor_Photography_104

Venue Picking

Hello fiancées and fiancés (did you know there is actually a difference? I just realized this a few days ago!),

Welcome back to my blog if you’ve already read a few of my posts but if not welcome for the first time! I am Mary.

Let’s talk about venues! Maybe you already have your heart set on a particular venue or have no idea of where to begin but because my readers are from all around the world, I can’t give you specific suggestions on locations. However, I can tell you some things to look out for and questions to ask.

I want what I write to be easy to remember and easy to save if you need to so I am just going to write out a list for you!

  1. Can they hold your ceremony AND reception there? If so, are they willing to just host one (in case you want two different locations)?
  2. Is it close to possible accommodations for guests/yourselves for before/after the wedding?
  3. How many guests can this venue hold? Is there a minimum number of guests?
  4. Does the venue include food, bar packages, getting ready rooms, any decorations, set up/clean up, linens, tables, chairs, dance floor, or anything else you should know about? What are the additional costs?
  5. Is there a minimum pricing?
  6. Is pricing per person? Are there any additional fees that would be added (taxes, tips/gratuity, credit card processing fees, etc)?
  7. Is it or can be BYO for alcohol? For food?
  8. What insurance is needed for outside vendors (photographers, videographers, DJ, florist, wedding coordinator, etc)?
  9. Are use of candles permitted?
  10. Do they have any signage that you can use free of charge?
  11. Can guests leave their cars there overnight without fees or towing in case they need to?
  12. Is a wedding coordinator required? If so, does it have to be someone who works for the venue?
  13. What is the deposit and how does the payment plan work?
  14. What happens if you have to cancel?
  15. What happens if they cancel?
  16. Do they have a wet weather plan?
  17. Will you get the entire venue for the day?
  18. How long does the “rental” last? (This is extra important if the venue isn’t doing the set up and clean up)
  19. Do they have a recommended vendor list? Do you have to hire vendors solely off that list? If you choose to use someone from this list, will it contribute to your overall minimum purchase/price requirement?
  20. Is the use of confetti and/sparklers allowed?

Other things to keep in mind:

  1. Does the venue have beautiful places where you can get your pictures taken?
  2. What will the venue look like at the time of your ceremony (lighting wise)?

Sign up / sign in and comment below if you have any other suggestions for future brides and grooms! What else should they be asking?

Wedding date, wedding planner, mary taylor weddings

Date For Your Special Day

Hello beautiful brides (and handsome grooms),

How is everyone doing?! Are you all excited to get started and dive into the planning process?! I know I am!

Let’s chat about picking a date. This should be one of the easier topics because normally (but not always) you’ll either have a date in mind or know of a rough season when you would like to get married. Here is why picking a date matters (besides the obvious fact that without a date you can’t get married) and some other things to think about:

 

  • Do you have a special date like an anniversary that you’d like to get married on? Is it a weekend day or a week day? If it’s a weekday and you’re set on a weekend date can you have it the weekend before or after the anniversary or original date you were thinking of?
  • Are you open to weekday wedding (which could help you save money)? Keep in mind that probably less guests will be able to attend during the week unless it is a holiday.
  • If it’s a holiday or holiday weekend this may make travel for guests out of town more expensive, hotels may be booked up far in advance, and still, guests might not be able to come (due to other plans or the expense).
  • Is your date in Fall, Spring, Summer, or Winter? The location of your wedding (city, state, country) may be wet / rainy / snowy depending on the season. Please keep this in mind and know if you’ll need a wet plan if it rains. The season may also affect your color schemes, available flowers, and available food (if you’re very set on seasonable food that may not be available all year round).
  • Do you have enough time between now and your wanted date to plan and save for your wedding? Do not put extra stress on yourself and this experience if you can choose a different date or wait until the next year.
  • Is this date anyone in your family’s birthday (or a close friend’s birthday)?
  • Depending on the season, some venues will either not be open at all or even offer a discount for booking your wedding during a specific season. If you have your eye on a certain venue, ask them those questions.

I hope that helps you with picking your wedding date. If you have any other tips or tricks for other brides feel free to submit them to me.

Wedding Budgeting

Let’s Get Down To Budgeting

Hello future bride (and groom)!

First of all, congratulations! You’re engaged and ready to start planning – or at least looking into the basics. Today I want to touch on setting a budget for your wedding. The last thing I want to do is throw a bunch of budgets at you or scare you about what the cost of your wedding might end up being. Here are some general statistics based on a few different countries:

 

  • The average wedding cost in the United States for 2017 was $25,764. Couples, on average, spend between $19,323 and $32,205 but, 50% of couples spend less than $15,000. This does not incude their honeymoon. Check out the sources to see where this information came from. Cost of Wedding also has a calculator you can use.
  • Many New Zealand sites confirm that the average cost of a wedding here is about $35,000 but I personally have seen several people online state their budget for their NZ wedding was $5,000-$10,000.
  • This is Insider states that the average wedding in the UK comes in at $35,005 (£27,161). That’s according to a 2017 Hitched survey of about 4,000 brides.
  • Honey Nine says that Australian weddings in 2018 were usually around $51,245.
  • Our budget: We are having our wedding in California (USA) and have our budgets worked out in NZ dollars (where we live and make money) and US dollars (of course this changes based on exchange rates at the time of purchase). At the end of our wedding, I will let everyone know how much we spent in total. Currently our budget is NZ$20,000 which is about US$13,000. This is the cheapest we found we could do it in order to have the wedding we wanted.

 

The most important thing about setting a budget is feeling comfortable. You should never go into debt to have a wedding. Sit down with your partner and discuss when/where you think you’d like to have your wedding, how much you have in savings that could go towards your wedding, and how much you can save per week / month by your wedding day. Although it can be a tough question, if you think either of your parents are planning to contribute to paying for you and your partner’s wedding, it is important to factor in those amounts before you start planning. Also make sure that you know if they plan to give you the money as a gift after the wedding or before to help pay for things upfront (I am saying this from personal experience). Keep in mind that many, if not all, vendors will require a deposit or even your full payment before the wedding day.

 

When asking other brides how they came up with their budget they said things like:

  • Do research for venues and vendors in your area to get an idea of roughly how much things will cost
  • See how much you can set aside weekly or monthly up until your wedding
  • Get a detailed budgeting worksheet/to-do list that includes all the little details you may forget about (speaking about this one here’s what I am using for my wedding and I created myself because I couldn’t find a list that “had it all” – All You’ll Need Wedding Planner / To – Do List)
  • Make sure you’re being realistic with what you can afford and save – Don’t budget as if you’re not going to do anything that costs money in the coming months
  • Number of guests you’d like to invite
  • Time of year / time of the week (weekday or weekend)
  • If you’d like to provide alcohol or not
  • Factor in your honeymoon if you’re going to travel right after your wedding
  • Cut out any unnecessary expenses that you currently have (subscriptions, eating out often, trips, etc.) in order to save

 

Many brides and grooms go over their anticipated budget so it’s important to know if you really can do that financially or if you’ll need to cut out some of your “wants” that might not be necessary. Look out for another blog post about the wants versus the needs when it comes to planning your wedding!

 

I hope this has helped you get a few ideas of how to start the budgeting process! There will be more blogs about other money and budgeting related topics.

 

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

 

Sources: https://www.costofwedding.com/, https://www.thisisinsider.com/weddings-cost-around-the-world-2018-8, https://honey.nine.com.au/2018/02/14/15/21/average-wedding-cost-australia-2018,

https://www.etsy.com/listing/653461942/all-youll-need-wedding-planner-check?ref=shop_home_active_1

 

Photo by Susannah Lynn Photography

Welcome

Hi brides (and grooms)!

My name is Mary. I am a photographer, editor, lover of cooking, and most importantly for you, I am a current bride. First, I want you to know a little about me, my story, and my bridal journey so that the posts I make about my personal experiences you feel that you can connect those stories to a real person.

I started this website and blog because I absolutely love weddings. Growing up I wanted to be a wedding planner but found a passion in photography instead. Now that I have been planning my own wedding for almost a YEAR, I have gained a true understanding of the questions, problems, and stress that brides go through in order to create their dream wedding.

 

About us! My fiancé and my story is a whirlwind. Growing up and imagining how my “timeline” of life would work included seeing myself date a partner for five to seven years before getting married. When I met my fiancé, I had no idea we would end up getting engaged less a year from the day we first laid eyes on each other.

 

It started in London with a very traumatic experience for me to the point that I almost left London immediately. But a friend convinced me to stay. On my second night, after more complications, I decided even if I was going to be leaving the next day that I wanted to go to a pub crawl first. In my mind, it was the last time I would likely ever be in London and I had to live it up. Long story short, that night I met my now fiancé, Robbie. We immediately hit it off. When asked what I wanted to do while in London I mentioned the zoo and he said, “I have been wanting to go to the London Zoo since I moved here two years ago. Do you want to go with me tomorrow?” Our first date at the zoo was absolutely wonderful. We sat along the waters edge in “little Italy” and talked about our lives, our goals, our families, our businesses, and so much more. Fast forward a month later and Robbie was in Madrid visiting me again and meeting my sister and her partner.

 

Timing has always proved to be our friend. Everything in the world told me to leave London and I didn’t. I almost missed the pub crawl because they were about to leave and I had JUST arrived. And now, Robbie was telling me that the week after I had to return home to California, his Visa in London was expiring and he could stop in California for a few weeks while on his way home to New Zealand. We road tripped throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona. The three weeks flew by. At this point, we had told each other we loved each other. We had no idea how a long distance relationship would work while being countries away from each other but we weren’t worried. A couple months after Robbie left California, I went to New Zealand for two months. We road tripped the whole of New Zealand (both islands) and took a trip to Australia. On our 6 month anniversary of knowing each other, I told Robbie that after a lot of thought, I wanted to move to New Zealand. A few months after I left New Zealand, Robbie came back to the United States for a couple months which is when Robbie proposed in May (pictures below). In September 2018, I moved to New Zealand!

 

I can’t wait to share more about what I’ve learned and all the experiences I have had so far. My goal for this site is to provide brides (and grooms, wedding planners, vendors, etc) information, advice, and opinions in different forms (blogging/reading, podcasts, and more) from a bride herself who has spent many hours researching, reading, and taking part in discussion boards. I want this to be a central place you can come to getting everything you need to know about wedding planning. I also want to be able to provide ways for those that prefer not to read a way to absorb information and learn about the wedding process without just reading a blog, book, or magazine.

 

Thank you so much for being apart of my story, my journey, and my passion! I look forward to helping you plan your wedding!

 

Sources: Photo by Susannah Lynn Photography