12 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Officiant

Whether your wedding officiant is your life-long pastor or if you have to hire someone to perform your ceremony, there are 12 basic questions that you'll want to make sure you ask so your wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch!
  1. Is premarital counseling required? Many religious venues require a certain number of premarital counseling sessions with your officiant. Be sure you ask this question first and get them scheduled so you are sure you can complete all required session before your wedding date.   
  2. How long is the basic wedding ceremony? This is important to know for several reasons. If you are adding  personalization into your ceremony (readings, custom vows, or vocalists) this will add time to the length of the ceremony.  If your ceremony venue is a popular one, it may be booked for another wedding after yours. You also need to let your reception venue know when they can expect your guests to arrive.  
  3. Can a unity candle or unity sand be included as part of the ceremony? Most outdoor venues will recommend a unity sand ceremony so you don't have issues with the candle flames. If you will be including one of these traditions in your ceremony, find out if your officiant provides the verbiage or if you need to provide it.

  4. What is the fee or honorarium?  Many ceremony venues don't charge an extra fee for the officiant, but a donation may be appropriate. If you've had to hire an outside party to perform the ceremony, there will typically be a fee involved.
  5. Are additional fees expected? 
    Things like travel expenses, meals or even speaking at the rehearsal dinner may incur an additional cost. Be sure you ask!
  6. How many meetings will we have about the ceremony and who needs to attend each?
    Outside of any premarital counseling required, you may need to have one planning meeting with the officiant at the venue, plus the actual rehearsal itself the day before the wedding. Make sure you are clear on the meetings/rehearsal required and who needs to attend each.
  7. How many other weddings are you performing that day? 
    How do you handle it if one runs long? You'll want to know if your officiant is performing other weddings that day, especially if they are scheduled at a different venue. Consider asking if there is a backup plan in the event of an emergency, as well!
  8. How can we incorporate children into the wedding ceremony
    Whether they are your own or family members, very often children of different ages can be incorporated in different ways. Most officiants have performed hundreds of weddings, so use them as source for creative ideas!
  9. Do you allow pets to be part of the ceremony?If pets are part of your plan, be sure to discuss this with your officiant (and the venue) ahead of time. Also, make sure you assign an official pet handler for the day.
  10. Are there any apparel restrictions?Some traditional religious ceremony venues will not allow bare shoulders, very low cuts gowns, or short gowns. Be certain you are clear on any restrictions your venue or officiant enforces.
  11. Are there any decor restrictions?If you are planning on rose petals, bubbles, a dove release, candelabras, a personal aisle runner, pew floral arrangements, or any other decorative added touch, make sure you have cleared it with your officiant and the venue ahead of time. As an example, many ceremony venues don't allow fresh rose petals to be scattered because the oils can stain the floor.
  12. When do you sign the marriage license? Some officiants sign it before, while others prefer to sign it after the ceremony.  Some couples like to incorporate the signing of the marriage certificate into the actual ceremony!  This is your legal document, so whatever your preference, just make sure you've coordinated it. 

These are just a few of the many questions you will probably have for the person who will have the honor of performing your ceremony, but its a good start and it hits the important elements!

Good luck with planning your special day!

~ The WhereBridesGo.com Team
Take 15% off your entire order at WhereBridesGo.com with coupon code WHATBRIDESLOVE, plus get FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100.

Where brides go®  ... for what brides love! For a great selection of affordable bridesmaid giftswedding accessories, and wedding cake tops, check out WhereBridesGo.com!  

For more ideas, wedding favors and accessories, check out WhereBridesGo.com! 
Connect with WhereBridesGo.com online!

10 Considerations for Hiring the RIGHT Wedding Photographer

Of all the choices you make when planning your big day, be sure to spend the time to interview several photographers and make sure you select one who is a good fit for you! 

The images of your big day are one thing that can keep the wedding memories alive well into the future for you and your husband. 

Beware of Imposters!

As the prices of DSLR cameras continue to drop, more and more inexperienced wedding photographers are entering the marketplace and providing wedding photography at cut-rate prices. However, it takes more than owning a fancy camera to make a great photographer!

According to Darren Miles, a professional photographer in Naples, FL, "Wedding photographers' skills are honed and developed over years of training and experience. Experienced photographers understand lighting, composition, post processing, communication, workflow and organization. Ultimately, their skill level and experience will be the difference between a bunch of images that would otherwise be hard to differentiate from a point and shoot camera and photographic heirlooms that take your breath away and last a lifetime."

wedding photography
Know Your Style

Different photographers have different styles, so make sure you choose one that offers what you want. Wedding photography is trending away from the traditional "posed" images and has migrated to more of a photo-journalistic story telling style. 

There is definitely a place for traditional style images, however, so make sure you review each photographers portfolio (view an entire wedding) and ensure that the style he/she uses reflects your personal preferences.

8 additional things to consider to get the most out of your wedding photographer:

  1. Check References
    Ask each photographer for references, and ask if you can actually speak with recent brides whose wedding they photographed.
  2. Determine How the Photographer Charges
    Some photographers charge by the hour. Most wedding photographers will have set packages available, with options to add extra time or services by the hour. Make sure you understand the fees and make sure you have them in writing. 
    Plan to allow any where from 10%-30% of your budget on wedding photography.
  3. Consider How You "Feel" Around the PhotographerAs important as the skill of the photographer, is the way you feel when you are around him/her. You will be spending a lot of time with this person on your wedding day ... up close and personal! Having someone that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed naturally will have an impact on how your images turn out and how you look in them.
  4. Find Out if a Must Have Shot List is Accepted
    Most photographers have a list of "must have" shots for a wedding, but theirs may not match yours. Create a list of the must have images from your wedding and provide it to your photographer ahead of time. Photographers know the obvious shots, but they may not know you have four generations of women at your wedding (Great-Grandma, Grandma, Mom, and you). You'll want a photograph of the four of you for sure! Is a photo of you signing the marriage license important? You only get one shot at it, so let your photographer know! Think about extended family members, groups of friends, pets and settings you may want to include, as well.
    Is signing the marriage license a "must have" photo? You only get one shot, so let your photographer know!
  5. Find out When the Proofs will be Available
    Ask this question ahead of time so you are on the same page. You'll also want to find out how the proofs are shared. Will there be a link available to send out to family and friends to review proofs, as well? Most wedding photographers provide this, but never assume. Always ask.
  6. Ask if there is a Back-Up PlanNo one plans to be ill or have a family emergency but it happens.  Don't be left in a lurch. Find out if there is a back up photographer(s) available on stand by or how that situation would be handled. Also find out if there a cancellation policy, in the event you have an emergency of your own. Again, make sure these policies are provided in writing.
  7. Request a List of Print Packages and Options in Advance
    Share these with parents and anyone else who may want to order prints from the wedding. Save money by ordering all together.

  8. Make Sure You Have a Signed Contract Make sure you know exactly what you're getting and make sure it's ALL in the contract. This should include things like the number images included in your package, how many hours of photography are included, extra fees for additional time or additional photographers, specifically WHO will be the actual photographer at your wedding, and the photographers arrival time, date, and location. Take nothing for granted and leave nothing to chance. Make sure everything is in the contract.

"Vintage" Disposable Wedding Reception Camera
In addition to the professional photos, having disposable wedding cameras sitting around on tables is a fun idea! Guests taking candid shots often offers some of the best pics you will end up with. The advantage to putting these out on the tables is that the images will be YOURS. You don't have to rely on guests to send you the images from their phones or personal cameras. After the wedding, this tends to be a low priority for them and almost never happens.

Assign someone from the wedding party to drop the disposable wedding cameras off at Walgreens, CVS, or your local drug store and get the images put on a disc. When you get back from your honeymoon, these will be a BLAST to share and we guarantee you'll get some photos you would NEVER expect!

Make Your Mementos Picture Perfect!

The photography at your wedding is one of the most important aspects of the day. The day itself will be a whirlwind for you, so you want to select the BEST photographer to capture it all. Take our 10 suggestions for selecting the RIGHT photographer and you'll be well on your way to finding the best fit for your wedding, style, and budget.

Best of luck to you in planning your special day!

~ The WhereBridesGo.com Team
Take 15% off your entire order at WhereBridesGo.com with coupon code LOVEMYBRIDESMAIDS, plus get FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100.

Where brides go®  ... for what brides love! For a great selection of affordable bridesmaid giftswedding accessories, and wedding cake tops, check out WhereBridesGo.com!  

For more ideas, wedding favors and accessories, check out WhereBridesGo.com! 
Connect with WhereBridesGo.com online!

11 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Wedding Cake Baker

Ask these eleven questions of your prospective wedding cake baker to ensure there are no unwelcome surprises on the day of the wedding (or after).

  1. Do you have a portfolio that I can review?
    This can give you a quick feel to see if you like their style.
  2. How do you price your cakes?
    Some bakers calculate the pricing per slice...others charge based  on the time to design the cake.  Also, some charge extras for embellishments, and most bakers charge extra for premium flavors and frosting.
  3. Are there additional rental fees?
    Make sure you understand all fees upfront before booking the baker!
  4. What are my options for personalizing the design?
    Check to see if they can create a custom design based on photos you provide of other cakes you admire, or details from your dress.
  5. What are my options for flavors, frosting, filling?
    Make sure you get specific pricing for each.
  6. Can you create cakes for special dietary needs?
    Can they make cakes that are kosher, vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free?
  7. When is the cake prepared?
    The fresher the cake the better!
  8. How will my cake be delivered?
    Have your cake delivered by the professional, even if there is an extra fee!  They will be on the hook for ensuring the cake is perfect  when it arrives
  9. What is your return policy for the cake stand(s)?
    Make sure you know the date these items need to be returned by, then assign this job to someone to take care of while you are away on your honeymoon.
  10. What is the deposit required and when is the balance due?
    Make sure you find out if the deposit is refundable in the event of a change.
  11. Do you preserve the top tier for my first anniversary? 
    If not, do you provide the box so I can preserve it? Some bakers will provide you with a FRESH duplicate of your cake top for your 1st anniversary (so much better than frozen!)
As with any other wedding service, make certain that  you have a written, signed contract with your service professional that details the agreed upon price and any other extra charges that might come into play.

Check out the gorgeous wedding cake tops at WherebridesGo.com!
~ The WhereBridesGo.com Team

 Take 15% off your wedding cake accessories AND your entire order at WhereBridesGo.com with coupon code WHATBRIDESLOVE, plus get FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100.
Where brides go®  ... for what brides love! For a great selection of affordable bridesmaid giftswedding accessories, and wedding cake tops, check out WhereBridesGo.com!  
For more ideas, wedding favors and accessories, check out WhereBridesGo.com! 
Connect with WhereBridesGo.com online!