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The Sweet 15

In 15 years as Phoenix’s top wedding magazine, we’ve had the opportunity to work with world-class event professionals and countless couples who have shared insight and perspectives with us along the way. In addition to our new favorite mantra of “no cell phones at the ceremony,” here are our top tips for your wedding-planning journey. Fifteen of them to be exact.

1 Don’t forget the big picture, advises event planner Cara Morrison of A Day to Cherish “So many brides get caught in the minutia and forget, at the end of the day you will be MARRIED and that is what matters.”

2 enjoy the engagement! Natalie Hall at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge reminds couples to “Slow down . . . your special someone just asked for your hand in marriage and you’ll be spending the rest of your lives together. Take the time as fiancées to enjoy!”

3 First impressions count. Design your invitation suite carefully. What may seem like a simple piece of paper sets the tone for the entire celebration, according to designer Rene Showalter of Celebrations in Paper.

4 “The best advice we can give to a bride when planning her wedding to relieve some stress and save some time in the long run, is to put in some work from the very beginning to build the foundation of her wedding,” says event planner Trista Guzman of BTS Event Management. She suggests couples create a workable budget, walk the event space to understand the layout and communicate as many details regarding the wedding day as they can.

5 Plan something for your Young Guests. A wedding is an understandably adult affair but if the kids aren’t happy, the adults won’t be able to enjoy themselves. Special entertainment, simple crafts, and child-friendly meals will go a long way to ensuring the kids let the parents out on the dance floor.

6 Expect the Unexpected. No matter how perfectly planned your wedding day is, know that something is bound to go differently than you hoped, perhaps your bridesmaid’s hair didn’t turn out perfectly, or someone got lost on their way to the ceremony. Jennifer Starr of J. Starr Stylized Weddings & Events hopes couples will not let these things ruin their day. If something goes wrong, she says, “Embrace it, laugh it off, and just know it’s part of your story. When you’re dealing with 100+ humans, situations can occur that you’re not expecting.”

7 Be Prepared to Change Plans Lorraine Cooper of Brady’s Floral Gallery knows a thing or two about being flexible when plans change. “Even with our fabulous climate there is always a chance the weather will not cooperate, so always be prepared for your outdoor plans to be re-located indoors. That way the back up plan will be ready and put into action without any stress or anxiety on such a happy day.”

8 Save the Best for (almost) Last. “It is usually best to have all of your other main wedding decisions made before sitting down with you cake designer,” says Kevin Kossman of Piece of Cake Desserts. “Venue, florals, linens, and wedding dress can all lend elements to the wedding cake and having those decisions made will help you design a gorgeous and cohesive wedding cake.”

9 ”Consciously enjoy your wedding,” says event planner Victoria Canada. ”This is a great way to relieve stress. Remember if everything is important nothing is important. So pick some items that are really important. This is a celebration, so act like it!”
“Spin on the dance floor. Eat! Make funny faces at the flower girl as she looks at you like you are the most beautiful bride in the world. Smile--a really genuine grin-- in your photos. Thank your parents. Cry and Laugh.”

10 Celebrate your Heritage. Many cultures have wonderful traditions when it comes to weddings. Show off your background! A little research could yield some great traditions worth sharing. Some couples even provide explanations in their programs so guests can follow along.

11 From the “why didn’t we think of that” file comes this bridal hair styling advice from Sabrina Miller-Castillo of Babydoll Weddings: “When standing at the altar during the ceremony, your right side faces your guests, so you’ll want make sure your accent or hair accessory is on your right side.”

12 Don’t Fence Them in. Amanda Johnson of Butterfly Petals offers this bit of advice that applies to many wedding vendors.
“Give your florist a little bit of freedom. If you fall in love with a specific bloom and won't accept any alternatives, you may limit yourself in budget and availability. Giving your florist a guideline for the overall look and feel you're going for and then letting them run wild means they can use your budget to select the best in-season blooms that fit your colors but also your personality and overall event decor.”

13 Take a Moment. You’ll feel the pressure to play host all day and night but if you can really stop, take it all in, and feel the love, the reward is huge. “In my work with newlyweds,” says Phoenix Bride & Groom’s social media writer Kelly Gill, “I hear couples often saying their favorite moment of the day was when they stopped and really recognized everything unfolding around them. When couples actually take a moment, they seem to remember it forever.”

14 Don’t “DIY” Yourself into a Corner. While there are many fun things you can make for your special day, limit yourself to a few key projects. Likewise, think very carefully before having friends or family take over major duties such as catering or floral design unless they are professionals in these labor-intensive fields.

15 Our final Of piece advice dates back to 1600, when William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet: This above all:
— to thine ownself be true;

When planning your wedding, as in life—be yourself and let your genuine personality shine through. From your attire to your entertainment, do what makes you happy! There is no greater compliment afterward than, “Their wedding was so them!”

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