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Here are some tips to help you choose a venue for your ceremony and reception, hire a photographer, hire a videographer, decide on your florist, order a wedding cake, hire a DJ, and choose your invitations.

Ceremony and Reception Venue ^top
There are many choices for your wedding venue, which include churches, gardens, golf and country clubs, banquet halls, yachts and hotels. One way to decide is to think of the setting, style and ambiance you want create and select a venue to suit your preferences. The availability of the venue can alter the date of your wedding as some places are booked months in advance, especially on long weekends. It is advisable to start booking your venue once you become engaged. Important things to consider and enquire about in deciding on a wedding venue are:

  • Cost (Will venue staff work within your budget?)
  • Booking & Cancellation Policies
  • Location
  • Seating Capacity for Ceremony & Reception
  • Adequate Parking for Guests
  • In-House Catering (try to book a time for a sampling of menu choices)
  • Licensed to Serve Alcohol
  • Corkage Fee for Supplying Own Wine
  • Changing Room for the Bride
  • Audio & Visual System
  • Dance Floor Capacity
  • On-Site Wedding Coordinator
  • Facility Restrictions (on lighting candles, decorating, throwing rice, allowing outside caterers)

Photography ^top
Choosing a photographer will be one of the most important decisions in the wedding planning process. You will want a photographer who is able to capture and provide a lasting collection of cherished, fun and memorable moments, so take time and care in selecting one. Professional photographers and their packages do not come cheap, but they are worth the investment if they can photograph and preserve moods of romance, sentiment and emotion on your wedding day. Try to book a photographer as soon as your wedding date is finalized as some photographers are booked a year in advance.

Start your research by seeking referrals from family, married friends and co-workers. Attend wedding fairs and check out booths advertising professional photography services. There, you will get an opportunity to look through wedding albums displaying a photographer's work and get a feel of his or her creative style. You may also want to visit a few photography studios to compare prices and services. Make sure you are comfortable communicating with the photographer you choose since he or she will be working closely with you on your special day. Some questions you may ask are:

  • Do you have an assistant?
  • How many years of wedding photography experience do you have?
  • What types of wedding packages do you offer?
  • Have you photographed at my wedding venue?
  • Are you willing to work within my budget?
  • What are your payment and cancellation policies?
  • Do you guarantee your work in writing?
  • What is your backup plan if it is raining on our wedding day?
  • Do I get to keep the proofs and negatives?
  • How much time will it take to produce the wedding album after I view the proofs?
  • Can you work in harmony with the videographer?

Videography ^top
Many couples are choosing to have a video or DVD produced to relive moments of their wedding day and share it with family and friends. Videographers using the latest video and multimedia technology and editing techniques can record all of your wedding day activities from the procession into the church, sharing of vows, speeches from the groom and best man, to the first dance and tossing of the bouquet.

Deciding on a professional videographer can be daunting at first. You can start your homework by looking into personal references and videography services at wedding fairs. Ask a videographer to give you demonstration of their work. You may want to check if he or she is a member of the B.C. Professional Videographers Association (www.bcpva.com). Taking the time to do your research will help you choose a videographer that will meet your needs, cost and style. Here are some questions for a potential videographer:

  • How long have you been a wedding videographer?
  • How many cameramen will you need on my wedding day?
  • What is your cost per hour/day and what does your service include?
  • How much time do you need to set up your equipment?
  • What are your payment and cancellation policies?
  • Do you guarantee your work in writing?
  • What kind of editing technology do you use to edit the recorded video?
  • Do I get to keep the negatives?
  • How much time will it take to produce the wedding day DVD?

Flowers ^top
Flowers will add a beautiful touch to many aspects of a wedding, but will require careful planning. Like choosing other wedding vendors, plan ahead by getting references from people you know on suppliers they have dealt with. See if the florist you choose offers a variety of bouquet styles and floral arrangement ideas for the season in which you are getting married. Most florists have catalogues with sample floral presentations for customers to view.

Be sure to ask about the terms for deposit, final payment and cancellation. Flowers will certainly take up a big part of your wedding budget since their uses can include the following:

  • Arrangements for Ceremony and Reception
  • Bouquet for the Bride, Matron of Honor, Bridesmaid(s) and Flower Girl
  • Throw-A-Way Bouquet for the Bride
  • Boutonnieres for the Groom, Best Man, Groomsmen, Ushers and Ring Bearer
  • Corsages for the Bride's and Groom's Mother and Grandmother
  • Boutonnieres for the Bride's and Groom's Father and Grandfather
  • Corsages and Boutonnieres for Immediate Family Members, Guest Book Attendants, Scripture Reader, Soloist and Helpers
  • Other Guests of Honor
  • Table Centerpieces
  • Cake Table
  • Wreaths and Aisle Decorations
  • Rose Petals

The Wedding Cake ^top
No wedding reception is complete without the wedding cake. Check out bakeries or cake shops that specialize in wedding cakes. Try to make arrangements to order your cake 5-6 months prior to your wedding day. You can book a consultation with a few cake vendors to get a sampling and to discuss size, shape, flavours and cost. By giving yourself plenty of time to shop around and compare prices, you will be able to select a cake specialist that will create a custom-designed cake to reflect your wedding theme. Here are some questions to ask during the consultation:

  • How many wedding cakes do you do per year?
  • Can you custom-design a cake to reflect my wedding theme?
  • Can you replicate a cake from a photograph?
  • Do you use natural ingredients?
  • May I have a free sampling of the cake and frosting?
  • Who will deliver and set up the cake? Is free delivery included in the total cost?
  • Are the stands, pillars and columns included in the total cost?
  • What are the terms for payment and cancellation?
  • What is your emergency plan in case of a "cake accident"?
  • Do you supply a knife? Can you suggest the best way to cut the cake?

Choosing a DJ ^top
You can liven up your reception by having a DJ play background dinner music and dancing music. Unlike photographers, florists and videographers, DJs don't have albums, catalogues or a visual product for display to promote their services. Therefore, choosing a DJ can be difficult. Try to get referrals from friends who have hired a DJ for their wedding. Enquire if a potential DJ is willing to meet with you and help you arrange a list of appropriate songs to play during the dinner and dancing portion of your reception. Some important questions to ask a potential DJ are:

  • Are you available on my wedding date?
  • Will you be the DJ for our reception?
  • How many weddings have you provided music for?
  • What kind of sound and light equipment do you have? Do you have backup equipment?
  • Can you arrive prior to the reception to set up?
  • How much do you charge per hour?
  • What are your policies for payment and cancellation?
  • Do you take song requests and have wide selection of songs from different decades?

Invitations ^top
Your wedding invitation will give your guests an impression of what the theme of your wedding and tone will be, whether it is formal, semi-formal or casual. The possibilities for creating your own invitation are endless, each varying in cost, appearance and production time. Here are six types of wedding invitations:

  • Engraved Invitations - Selected for the most formal and grandest of weddings. They are the most expensive of all types of invitations and required at least six weeks for production.
  • Thermographed Invitations - A less expensive and popular alternative to the engraved method.
  • Printed Invitations - Many printing companies offer different designs for you to choose from and good turn-around time.
  • Calligraphy - Handwritten in a script lettering style using ink.
  • Hand Coloured Invitations - Designs are created, coloured or painted by hand.
  • Box Set Invitations - Come in a variety of generic styles and packaged with invite cards and envelopes for adding your own information. Box set invites are not expensive and are sold at office supply stores.


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