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Monday, November 21, 2011

Planning Your Wedding: Where to begin

Congratulations, you have just become engaged to your soul-mate
! Once the excitement of that calms down a bit, the reality of the wedding planning details begin to overwhelm you. The question most commonly asked by the couple is, "Where do I begin?"
Hopefully, the information we have gathered and composed for you will serve as a helpful resource. Hiring a wedding planner is super important because we know how to handle all of the details, including the important ones that are not considered by the couple until it is too late. We may also be able to obtain some discounts for you that you would not ordinarily be able to get on your own. Most importantly, we think of EVERYTHING and handle ALL of the elements of the wedding day. One of the biggest mistakes brides say they make is NOT hiring a wedding coordinator to handle the many details and problems that occur on the day of, including vendors and guests calling for information and confirmation.
Information about your budget is listed below. But, it is VERY important to remember the following: EVERY ISLAND and EVERY VENDOR and EVERY LOCATION is priced differently. We cannot just give prices on the phone for everything, as there is just too much information to consider. To maintain our professionalism, we are happy to receive a detailed request and provide one estimate before we are hired. Professional coordinators work diligently with their contracted clients regarding ALL of the details, including information about the location options, professionals, suggestions, resources, ways to save money, etc. But, this is not something a professional coordinator provides at no cost to couples who are not yet contracted, as that information takes time to collect and update, and is a part of the service offered.
So, please consider the information on this page, create some sort of vision of your wedding in your mind, and come up with a budget that can be flexible. A wedding in Hawaii is not cheaper than a wedding on the mainland because it costs less; it is only cheaper for you because you typically have fewer guests and a less elaborate wedding on the islands than you would at home. It is our expertise that will guide you, our client, through the planning details and ways to work within your budget. For example, it is not realistic to plan a ceremony and reception for 40 guests at a private location, including officiant, location, coordination, flowers, entertainment, catering, decor, rentals, etc. on a budget of $5000. Does that mean you cannot get married in Hawaii? We say no. We say it means you need to adjust your wedding plans to accommodate your budget, or adjust your budget to accommodate the plans that you want. We hope the information is helpful! Happy reading!
HIRE A WEDDING COORDINATOR:. A Wedding Coordinator or Consultant will help you with the planning process. The coordinator will also facilitate and orchestrate the wedding day so that you can enjoy it!
Here is a list of some things to consider when beginning your wedding planning:
Your Wedding Style You must think very early in the process about what style of wedding you want, and how formal or informal an affair it will be. Although your wedding will be in Hawaii, do you want a Hawaiian wedding, a traditional wedding in Hawaii, or a combination of the two? Is this going to be a casual affair with Aloha wear and flip flops, or is this going to be a more formal affair with cocktail dresses and suits/tuxedos? This decision sets a tone for the entire wedding, and all decisions will be related to this choice. The tone of your wedding begins with your invitation, so it is important to decide how you want to convey your wedding style. The style and formality of the wedding will also influence your decisions about your attendants' attire, your wedding decor, and presentation. The time of day that you hold your wedding ceremony and reception may also affect the level of formality that you select. For example, a morning wedding and brunch reception will have a more casual style than an evening ceremony and reception. 
Type of Wedding Reception How casual or formal do you see your reception? Deciding your food service is important because it affects so many other decisions you will make regarding your reception, including the amount of staff you will need, the additional decor, the physical arrangement/floor plan, and more. Do you see tray-passed hors d'oeuvres and a plated meal , food stations, or a buffet? The next item to consider is if the wedding will be indoors or outdoors. If it is outdoors, it is important to have an indoor back up or tent the outside. The weather, especially in Hawaii, is highly unpredictable. Although it is clear one moment, a passing shower can destroy a wedding exposed to the elements. What type of entertainment do you want? Do you need a dance floor? Will children be included in the wedding festivities? These preferences dictate the type of setting you will choose for your reception and may increase or reduce certain limitations involved with the reception facility (whether or not they provide food, service, etc). Use the explanation below to assist you with determining the type of reception you desire.
If you have determined the time and style of your wedding, and considered the number of guests and size of your budget, you probably have a good idea of the type of wedding reception that will suit your needs and desired. Listed below are the various types of wedding receptions.

A breakfast or brunch wedding reception is nice following a morning wedding ceremony at 9 or 10 a.m. This may be served buffet style, or guests may be seated at specified tables. If you choose buffet style, an assortment of fresh fruit, croissants, rolls and quiches, with a variety of cold cuts and cheeses are nice. Hot coffee, tea and fresh fruit juice should be served. With sit-down breakfast you may want to start with fresh juice and fruit, then serve an omelet or Eggs Benedict with toast or rolls for the entree. Hot coffee and tea are a must. Pastries or a wedding cake would be served. Serving alcoholic beverages is optional, but may include champagne, champagne punch, wine, screwdrivers or Bloody Marys.
These are similar to brunch wedding receptions and may be either sit-down or buffet style. They generally follow a late morning or high noon ceremony and are served between 12 and 2 p.m. Buffet luncheons may include a variety of salads, such as; potato, fruit, chicken, pasta or vegetables with dip. Poached salmon and shrimp are popular, but expensive. Sandwiches, cold cuts, and cheeses are often served, and are relatively inexpensive. Your reception coordinator or caterer will have suggestions, according to your budget.

Sit-down luncheons may be started by serving champagne, cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres while guests go through the receiving line. Once the guests are seated, a white wine may be served with soup or salad to start. Then boned breast of chicken, a chicken crepe or beef entrée with rice and vegetables is nice.

Serve coffee or tea with the wedding cake. Having espresso/cappuccino bar, or offering chocolate cups filled with cordials adds a nice touch.
Tea or cocktail
Tea receptions are generally held between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., usually starting no later than 3:30 p.m. Coffee, tea or punch, both with and without champagne or wine, are generally served. Tea sandwiches or other finger food, along with wedding cake, are the basic requirement.

This type of wedding reception is the least expensive to have, and perfect when there is a large guest list and a small budget. If held in a home or garden, this type of reception will cut down on rentals. Cocktail wedding receptions are held between 4:00 and 7:30 p.m. If only cocktails are being served, with no dinner to follow, the wedding reception should start by 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. at the latest.

Usually champagne, wine punch or beer are served and in many cases there is an open bar, depending on the budget. Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres may be passes or set out on buffet tables.
A dinner wedding reception is usually started sometime between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. In many cases cocktails and hors d'oeuvres are served in the first hour, with a sit-down or buffet dinner following. Such cocktail service will add to your expenses. (To keep expenses down, offer wine and beer rather than a full bar.) A cocktail hour of some kind gives people time to go through the receiving line and mingle with friends, especially when a sit-down dinner follows.
As mentioned before, and quite obviously, this is a party where guests are served at the table. It usually, but not always, has a more formal feeling, and most of the time is preceded by a cocktail hour so the guests can mingle. A sit down wedding reception provides for more organization. It is easier to get the guests attention when the traditional ceremonies, such as cutting the cake, are to begin. On the other hand some people feel the sit-down service tends to quiet a party down, and discourages people from mingling.
A buffet wedding reception is one in which the guests serve themselves. They may choose to sit at a table of their choice, or seats may be assigned. The buffet table is arranged with a variety of food and can be either round or oblong, with the food placed around the edge. It may also be rectangular with food served from behind one side, or with food displayed along both sides. The way the tables are arranged will be determined by the area available and the number of guests. Try to avoid making the guests wait in along line. For a larger number of guests have two buffet tables, one at each end of the room.
Food Station
Another idea which is unique and adds to the décor of the area, is what is called food stations. They are smaller buffet tables which are set up around the room, or in different areas of a garden. It is especially nice when each food station has a different theme and type of food. Decorate them with floral displays and unique serving pieces. They will not only look beautiful, but are a fun way for the guests to eat, and will increase the mingling of the guests. Try a beautiful display of cheeses with breads and fresh fruits displayed in baskets, or an ice-carved boat filled with jumbo shrimp and crab legs. Or you may add to this eating adventure a chef carving a roast, serving hot won tons from a wok, or a chicken crepe made right in front of the guests' eyes.

Number of Guests To Invite
This is always the tricky part. If you are like most couples, you are avoiding a large wedding by hosting a destination wedding in Hawaii. Already you have some leverage with your list because people will surely understand your limitations. However, you will still need to draft an A list and a B list. The A list is comprised of the first choice guests, and the B list is comprised of people you want to invite, but can only invite when people from the A list are unable to attend. It is important to know the estimated guest count when selecting your wedding site. Since Hawaii is a desirable place, many of your invited guests will try to turn your wedding into an excuse for a wonderful tropical vacation. So, it is safe to predict at least 50% of your guest list will attend. Since most couples have financial control of their destination weddings, they have a lot of control of the guest list. Typically, however, family members divide the guest list based on the following percentages: the parents of the bride and groom each invite one-third, and the bride and groom invite one-third. Or perhaps one-third each for the bride and the groom, and the parents can invite the rest.
The Dreaded Budget
Once it is determined who will pay for what part of the wedding, the bride & groom can create a budget and allocate the money as they see fit. It is good to have a realistic overall budget, and expect to go a little bit over it. This is one of the areas where your wedding planner will prove to be very helpful. Your wedding coordinator will be able to assist with suggestions that can help you stay within your budget by providing alternative, less-expensive options. You may want to have a credit card that is only used for the wedding costs. This will help you to easily place deposits for your wedding, as well as keep track of your wedding costs.
Some couples find it challenging to determine "who pays for what." Traditionally, the following people are responsible for the costs, but this is all flexible when hosting destination weddings:

The Bride and
Her Family:

  • The Bride's wedding attire, accessories, shoes, and lingerie
  • Bridesmaids' luncheon
  • Wedding coordination fees
  • Wedding location fees
  • Flowers (except for those listed in the groom's section)
  • The Groom's engagement gift and wedding ring
  • Invitation, announcements, enclosures, personal stationery, wedding programs, thank-you cards
  • Guest book
  • Guests' favors
  • Special bags of goodies for the out-of-town guests (includes everyone for a destination wedding)
  • Decor for the ceremony and reception
  • Ceremony and reception entertainment
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Food, beverages, and wedding cake
  • Transportation to and from the wedding location(s)
  • Wedding gift from the bride to the groom
  • The appreciation gifts for the female attendants
  • Bride's garter and tossing garter
The Groom and His Family:
  • Bride's engagement and wedding ring
  • The Groom's wedding attire
  • The cost of the marriage license
  • The cost of the officiant and any church donation
  • Bride's bouquet, all boutonnieres and corsages (or leis that replace those), and going-away corsage
  • The appreciation gifts for the male attendants
  • The boutonnieres for the groom and male attendants
  • The rehearsal/out-of-town guest dinner
  • Honeymoon expense
  • Their wedding attire shoes, accessories, and alterations (you may wish to give the accessories to them as a gift)
  • Their transportation to and from the wedding location
  • Their gifts to the couple
  • A shower for the bride or couple
  • Bachelor and bachelorette parties
Guest's expenses include:
The groom's parents pay for their own transportation and lodgings as do out-of-town guests. Parents of the bride and groom may help in securing accommodations for the bridesmaids and ushers in the home of friends, or they may offer to pay any expenses they may care to assume.
Time of Year
This decision is especially important when planning your destination wedding because of costs and weather. It is more expensive to visit Hawaii during the holidays. In addition, the islands are more crowded during popular vacation times, like during the summer when most families are able to travel together. If you are dreaming of an outdoor wedding, then it is important to select a time of year when the weather will me more conducive for that. One of the benefits of a Hawaiian wedding is that an outdoor wedding in Hawaii can happen any time of the year! The time of year will influence your color theme of your wedding. For example, rich fall colors will be more appropriate during the autumn months, even in Hawaii.  
These are the elements of your wedding to consider when beginning your wedding planning. The most important decisions to make once you have established your decisions to these basics, reserve your ceremony and reception sites. It will be difficult to hire any professionals until the location(s) is/are determined. There are many other decisions to make along the way, but this will get you started and eliminate some of the overwhelming feelings you may be currently experiencing.
Article written by Tori Rogers, Hawaiian Island Wedding Planners, 12-20-05 and adjusted 3-25-08


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