"Oh, they say when you marry in June, you're a bride all your life"¦" goes the old song, and summer weddings evoke images of gentle sunshine, glorious flowers and garden settings. Summer also adds a whole variety of choices to the many decisions a bride and groom must make when planning their wedding. Where is the best place to begin?
It's not the most romantic place to begin, but knowing your budget will avoid a lot of stress in the long run, says Shelley Dunlap, owner of Exclusively Yours Wedding Designs in Central Point. "It [financial pressure] takes a wonderfully happy event and makes it stressful," says Dunlap. "Everybody needs to sit down at the table and talk about how much money you are willing to invest." It's a decision that will guide every other aspect of your special day.
"Venue is your biggest contingent for a summer wedding," says Dunlap. There are a variety of venues available in the Rogue Valley, both outdoors and indoors, that can accommodate very intimate to very large weddings. Because many locations book up early, the further ahead you plan, the more likely you will be able to book your location of choice. "If you know that's where you want to be," says Dunlap, "get a deposit down for your peace of mind." She adds that destination weddings are wonderfully fun but recommends going through wedding consultants to be sure plans are in place when you arrive.
While most couples have a date in mind, in terms of planning: "Obviously, the more time the better," says Dunlap, to research options and spread out the costs. How much time? "Six months is a good number," says Sara Studebaker, owner of Heavenly Touch Weddings and Events in the valley. "But most of mine I do in three or four months." Dunlap and Studebaker both recommend six months to a year although the size and location of the wedding will play a part in the timing, too.
The Backup Plan
The weather can change quickly in southern Oregon, so Dunlap always encourages clients to have a backup plan. Being outdoors means natural settings and open air, but what will you do if unexpected rain starts to fall? On a sunny day, how will you keep the food and flowers from melting in the heat? "The same is true for the bride and bridesmaids, too," Studebaker says with a laugh. Addressing these issues, even if they're unlikely, says Dunlap, avoids "the add-on scenario" of wedding-day surprises that can make costs skyrocket. Hotels will often provide alternate indoor facilities, or tents, awnings and fans can be rented for outdoor locations.
Everything from the caterers, hairdresser, photographer, DJ and minister needs to be scheduled and met with to decide services and preferences. "I do my homework," says Studebaker. "We [the consultant and the couple] interview people until we find someone we like." Each vendor also needs to know your schedule and location so they are available and set up on time.
"Most [couples] come to us with an idea in mind," says Dunlap. She adds that this is an area where details can easily be overlooked, like a stack of chairs showing up in a wedding photo, or an "undressed" cake table. " From simply elegant to elaborately lavish, knowing your tastes and preferences will guide your décor choices.
If the planning is starting to feel overwhelming, a wedding consultant can be an invaluable guide. "People don't do weddings on a daily basis," points out Dunlap, and a consultant can be hired for all or a portion of the planning stages or wedding. Studebaker describes her role as keeping a wedding day "on task and on budget." The more details covered ahead of your big day, the less stress for you and your family and the fewer last-minute expenses that get tacked on.
All that will remain is for you and your guests to enjoy every moment of your unique and special wedding day, from "Here comes the bride" to the final dance as you begin your new life together.