Stress-Free Wedding Planning

Tips & Tricks for DIY Wedding Planning

Hey brides: want to “do-it-yourself” but have no experience planning a wedding? Feeling stressed with all the millions of wedding ideas from Pinterest, magazines, and blogs? Never fear: Chattanooga is filled with pro planners who can help you pull off the day of your dreams without a glitch. They’re sassy, they’re sweet, and they know just about every common pitfall of newbie planners. Here, 17 local wedding planners and caterers share some of their “top wedding planning tips” for brides. Read on to learn how to prevent those all-too-common “day-of” crises…and glean some inspiration at the same time!


Wedding Planner Secrets…

If you’re having a Saturday wedding, move the rehearsal dinner to Thursday. You’ll get weekday rates and you can relax the day before your wedding and take it all in instead of running here, running there.  Tara Plumlee, CEO/Owner, A Silverware Affair Catering, The Mill—Event Hall of Chattanooga and The Car Barn


All caterers should allow tasting, but you might want to also think about asking to attend another event that they’re catering. That way you can see the service, the interaction, how the food is presented, etc.  Kelsey Womble, Food Works Catering

On decorations, keep it simple and chic. You can make a big impact without going overboard. Consider sheer draping and accent lighting. It’s amazing how those two little things can absolutely transform a space. We transformed a whole gym that way. People were amazed. Veronica Seaman, Veo Weddings and Events

If your guests will be serving themselves hors d’oeuvres, use the smallest possible plates. If serving a buffet, use salad-sized plates. It’s human nature to fill every space on the plate that you are holding, and Southerners wrote the book on loading up plates! Your guests can always go back for seconds.  Faires Jorges-Hester, Fabulous by Faires

Fun Ideas…

Try a flying buffet—cocktail-style food passed by servers. It makes it feel like a cocktail party with mingling. That’s been our piece of advice so you don’t have people standing in a line waiting. Sarah Love, Owner, On The List Catering and Events

Think ahead for your guests who are coming in. I just did one wedding where the groom’s family came in from California. We made wedding baskets for them that included maps of Chattanooga, Little Debbies®, MoonPies®, and Coca-Cola® to help make them feel welcome. The family then showed them around Chattanooga and did a lot of tourist things to allow them to enjoy the whole weekend, instead of just focusing on the wedding. It’s such a unique town and there’s so much to enjoy when visitors come. Christy Huie, Posh Parties

Food stations are very trendy right now. If you have food stations, you can tell multiple stories. I have a groom who is from France, so we’re going to have different French food. They can help tell your story. Michelle Wells, Owner/Chef, Events with Taste Catering

Hand out props on the dance floor! Pick an item or two that goes along with a song montage, such as sunglasses and blow up guitars for an ‘80s theme, and have your coordinator or bridal party hand them out. Guests really love them and the pictures are amazing!  Morgan Holland, Soirées

For décor, a great way to save money is to use a simple item—like a wrapped vase or wine bottle—and use multiples of that idea for greater impact. There is a lot you can do with containers by grouping them together. For a wedding we just did, we used over 200 clear glass cylinders in various sizes with candles in them. We grouped them in front of large mirrors hanging in the venue, doubling the effect of the candles. Joe Jumper, Floral Designer and Event Stylist, The Clay Pot

Avoiding Pitfalls…

Early in the process, establish a design/theme for the event. Especially with Pinterest, girls get excited and have all these ideas that don’t work together. They become bogged down with DIY projects and get knee deep in things that don’t coordinate. Picking a theme will help with finding a venue, and you’ll have a direction to go in so that you’re consistent with flowers, catering, linens. Think of it as one big piece instead of lots of little pieces. Cheryl Hyland, Blissful Moments, Wedding and Event Planning

Have an emergency kit with makeup. With black and white pictures, don’t do super dark lipstick—it will show up black. Wear something bright. Also, have blotting pads for if you get shiny. You don’t want that in your pictures. Know that brown and beige can make you look washed out in photos. And always wear waterproof mascara!  Cheron J. Douglas, CWP, ABC Consultant, With Class LLC, Wedding Coordination and DJ Service

Stay in your budget. You don’t have to have a $20,000 dollar wedding. You don’t want one day of your dreams to cost you in your marriage. Be realistic about what you want and what you can afford. Sharon Green, Dreamcatcher Events

Take time to look for that special dress. As wedding planners, we know the “magic” that happens when a bride finds THE dress. We had a bride fall in love with a dress in a magazine, but when she tried it on, it was not it. It can look good in a book, but not be the one. Take people with you that are going to be honest, too.   Lisa Buch and Jamie Aman, A Beautiful Celebration

“May I Make a Suggestion?…”: Navigating Through Outside Opinions

It’s important for brides to know what’s important to them so that they know how and where to spend their budget. It will really help you in the beginning planning stages. You’ll want to spend time and energy there instead of on things that aren’t important to you. You’re going to get so many opinions about what you should do. It will help the vision stay clear. Trinity K. Pearson, The Finishing Touch Wedding & Event Planning

Your style of reception (buffet, food station, sit-down dinner, cocktail reception) is often determined by formality and venue. All styles can work well, but be sure your caterer is exceptional at which style you select. Seldom does a caterer excel in all formats. Lew Goss, America’s Favorite Catering

When choosing vendors, always meet in person—or at the very least, talk on the phone—before booking. Vendors can make or break your day and you want to make sure the people you are working with understand your vision and are invested in making your day special. Alisha Fox, Foxy Events

For the day of, make sure you have a timeline for all your vendors. Make sure your coordinator speaks with your photographer before creating the “day of” timeline. Photographer packages require different amounts of time coverage and you will want your professional coordinator to make sure you have the necessary time you paid the photographer for. Cherry Wilson, Event Coordinator, The Chatt Room Event Hall 

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