Style Guide


The Engagement

The following questions are meant to help you prepare for the period between knowing you’re going to ask your man to marry you and your big day.

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The Ceremony

These questions and recommendations will help focus you on what matters most for your ceremony and making sure that you are as present as possible for the moment when you say: "I do!"

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The Reception

These pointers are intended to make sure you create the most memorable experience for you and your guests, focusing you on the fun of planning.

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The following questions are meant to help you prepare for the period between knowing you’re going to ask your man to marry you and your big day. These are intended to get you thinking about what really matters during this exciting time and to help you make the best choices for planning your wedding.

1. Popping the question

In what way could you ask each other to marry?

What would you like to offer each other as a symbol of your engagement?

What will it mean to you both for one of you to ask for the other’s parents’ blessing and pop the question “on bended knee?”

Does one of you want to do the asking?

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2. Announcing your engagement

Do you want to make a more formal announcement printing announcement cards and mailing them individually?

Should yours be more “light-hearted” and use a digital mailing service?

Is it worth the money for you to have dedicated photography (and “rehearse” your potential wedding photographer) and announce your engagement along with a photo?

Do you make an occasion of the announcement and invite your friends and family to a cocktail party?

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3. Getting aligned

How much do you truly understand each other’s vision and means for your wedding?

Have you appreciated the differences in ideas you have for your wedding?

On what are you each willing to compromise or create a new idea around where your visions differ?

How much can you spend on your wedding without incurring any debt that will allow you to host your guests in the way that best represents you as a couple?

Based on your budget, do you need to envision your wedding differently?

Are you fully aligned with each other on what you want and what you can create for your wedding? If not, keep talking.

At the end of your wedding, what do you want for yourselves and others to have remembered from it?

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4. Location or Destination options

Based on your vision for your wedding, where do you want to get married?

Based on your budget, where can you get married?

Based on whom you want to attend your wedding, where does it make most sense to host it?

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5. Selecting a date

In how much time do you think you can plan (and enjoy planning) your wedding?

Do you want to wait longer than planned to allow for a particular season, date or venue?

Will your work demands allow you the right amount of time to plan and take off for your selected date?

Is there a date more convenient for you, your guests or your budget?

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6. Determining your budget

Discuss in advance a few ground rules surrounding how much you’re willing to spend, and the type of wedding you would like to host. A completely DIY wedding can be just as memorable as a lavish, formal event.

Your wedding should be a reflection of your personalities and lifestyle, without the burden of incurring debt. Debt is not a lifestyle!

Who could you include to help make a preliminary budget for your wedding to help understand what your vision for the big day will cost?

Will your family share in some or all of the expense of the wedding?

Are there friends you could ask to contribute their skills – florists, bakers, musicians – as your wedding gift?

How will you hold each other accountable to your shared vision and agreed to budget for your wedding?

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7. Reserving a venue

What venue(s) most encapsulate(s) your personalities, history together or vision for your life as husbands?

Does that venue provide space for your ceremony and reception? Or will you have opportunity to select a second venue?

Does your venue allow outside vendors (catering, florals) or are you required to use the venue’s suppliers?

Were you to opt for outside partners, how accessible is your venue? Delivery and transportation costs can add up quickly if your venue is tucked away.

When considering an outdoor venue, consider all weather contingency plans.

When considering a destination venue, consider the impact it might have on your guests. For a destination wedding give your guests the most possible time to plan, accumulate miles and save up!

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8. Reserving hotel rooms

Does your wedding venue/destination allow you to provide your guests with the multiple options for lodging? Price-points, types of venues, even home stays?

What opportunities can you create for people to experience the destination you’ve selected beyond your wedding?

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9. A concept or style for the wedding

When thinking about a concept for your wedding, how do you typically entertain? Of the weddings and parties you have you enjoyed most, what did you most like of them? Which elements felt like you? When deciding about a theme for your wedding, consider your favorite colors, personal or decorating style, activity, destination, historical era or even fantasy! Each of these areas will help you hone in an concept against which you can make many of your experience decisions.

Like with everything to do with your wedding, share with each other the “why” for your ideas for concept and style, and align the ones that most resonate for you both. Keep talking until you hone in on the concept you both most like.

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10. Gift Registry

Discuss with one another how a registry may help your guests purchase something you want or need, and reduce the stress associated with selecting the perfect gift.

What gifts will provide you with lasting memories by becoming meaningful reminders of those you love?

People will want to give you a gift, so provide them a range of options. From different price points, to including their presence at your destination wedding, to helping create your wedding experience.

You will want to be reminded of the people who attended your wedding, but gifts might not be the only way. Consider charities, asking people to contribute to your honeymoon, asking people to share their memory of their time celebrating through a picture or a letter

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11. Design a Wedding Website

The site serves your guests and you equally. The more information you provide your guests, the less they will reach out to you.

Look at other couples’ sites to assess what information they included, what look they opted for (make sure your site relates to your concept!) and what platform they used (Wedding Wire, Squarespace). This will help you understand what you need to include and how complex programming it might be.

Consider using your site as the destination your friends, family and guests can turn to from the moment you get engaged.

Use photos from your engagement and your life together to bring your website to life.

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12. Determine the guest list

Your guest list is about two things: first enjoying the most memorable day of you life with those you love most and second, not blowing the budget.

Start by determining your list and building your budget or, vice versa; how many people does your budget allow you to invite.

Assemble your lists independently and share with each other why you’ve included the guests you have. Allow each other to appreciate why someone is important and together determine the parameters for including (or not) people among your guests.

Generously negotiate your lists. Consider how you can recognize, without including, everyone you’ve decided not to invite.

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13. Invitations

What value do you want to place on your invitations? Think about how they relate to your personalities, your theme and your budget, not to mention the fact that people will likely only refer to these once.

What tone should your invitation set for your wedding? Consider the design, wording and even medium for delivering it.

When ordering invitations, think about all of the printed material you are thinking of using: invitations, programs, thank you cards, menus, place cards, etc. How should they relate? Can one designer and printer supply all? Is an electronic version viable?

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14. Hiring a Wedding Planner?

What experience do you have in planning and coordinating an event of the scale of your wedding?

Based on your planning experience, where will you need most help? Do you have the right contacts to create your wedding? Do you have people willing to help in the areas where you’re less than expert or don’t have a trusted partner?

How much time do you have to plan your wedding? Now double that estimate (!) and now consider how much time you have relative to your work, other obligations and simply enjoying the experience of being engaged.

Based on your answers above, what value will having a wedding planner bring you? And, for how long might you need one? Perhaps you can handle a lot of the upfront work, but will want someone on the day to allow you to focus solely on your wedding experience.

Consider creating a team of people to help you and your planner, and especially to run interference for you on the actual day.

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These questions and recommendations will help focus you on what matters most for your ceremony and making sure that you are as present as possible for the moment when you say: "I do!"

1. Select an officiant for your ceremony

How much do you want to integrate faith or spirituality into your ceremony?

Who best represents your faith or spirituality? Is this person available to preside over your ceremony?

Make sure that the person you choose to pronounce you husband and husband is legally recognized to do so. Marriage laws differ state-by-state.

Consider spending meaningful time with your officiant – individually and as a couple – over the course of your engagement so he or she gets to really know you and make their words about you at your ceremony as resonant as possible.

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2. Select your wedding party

Whom would you like to include in your ceremony? Share with each other why you’ve included those you’ve included.

How would you like to include them: in your groom’s party, as readers, ring bearers, ushers, etc.?

Create an opportunity before your wedding to get together with your wedding party and share with them the significance of each person you’ve included. Take the time to enjoy this group outside of the wedding day when there will be many others you’ll want to spend time with.

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3. Start planning the ceremony

In what ways would you like to make your ceremony unique? Or, would you like yours to be a traditional ceremony? .

Spend time with your officiant to agree what you’d like said and read during the ceremony.

And, consider how the officiant words might compliment your vows.

What do you want to share with and pledge to your husband-to-be through your vows? Will you use traditional vows or write your own?

If writing your own, take as much time as you can to write and edit and rewrite and understand your vows. These are the most important words you will say to your husband. Think about how your partner has influenced and changed your life, and how your life will progress going forward. Think about what you, as a couple, will contribute to each other and your friends and family. Share intimate moments of your relationship that helped make you realize your husband-to-be was meant for you.

What are the readings and passages that most resonate with you as individuals and as a couple? These don’t have to be about love and marriage, necessarily. They could also be words that have guided you to this point, or that will going forward. Consider asking your readers for suggestions based on their experience of you.

What music most encapsulates you both as individuals and as a couple? Work with your planner or officiant to decide what to play when and determine if you want it played live or otherwise. Use your program to share with your guests how the music is relevant.

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4. Plan the rehearsal dinner

Like with your guest list, understand from each other who matters most to include at the rehearsal dinner. And, make sure you follow your same budgetary guidelines.

Consider asking selected people to toast you, and asking others to write their toast to you. This will help manage the duration of toasting. An MC for the evening can help keep the toasts moving swiftly and appropriately!

Allow yourselves ample time to greet all of your guests and, most importantly, introduce them to each other. This will help make for an even livelier reception.

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5. Select your wedding rings

Will your engagement ring serve as your wedding band or will you have a separate one for each occasion?

It is solely up to you if you’d like matching or individual bands, custom made or jewelry store-bought. Have fun exploring all of the options.

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6. Decide what to wear

In what clothes do you feel your best? In what clothes do you most enjoy seeing your husband? Do these styles match your wedding? Is it OK if they don't?

Are your styles such that you want to wear the same look? If not, what could you each wear to complement each other?

In what clothes would you like your guests to be present at your wedding?

How will you feel looking back on these outfits in 30 years? Should you consider a different style to ensure your photos are timeless?

How much effort do you want to put into getting “camera ready” shape?

Is there someone you could recruit to help you select your wedding outfits – friend, sibling, personal shopper, tailor?

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7. Select a photographer

Make a shortlist of your favorite photographers. Spend some time getting to know them as you want to select them based on their style of photography, but also on the simpatico among you. Ask yourselves if you want this photogrpaher as a guest at your wedding?

What do you like most about your favorite photos: of yourself, of yourselves, of other weddings? Share these photos and opinions with your photographer.

Consider everyone on your guest list and with whom you’d like your photographer to capture a moment among you.

All of the above applies to any videographers you might be considering.

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These pointers are intended to make sure you create the most memorable experience for you and your guests, focusing you on the fun of planning.

1. Select a location for the wedding reception

How could your reception venue add to or complement your overall wedding experience?

Are you asking too much of your venue by making it something it is not?

Make sure the venue does not inadvertently complicate the experience for your vendors by being difficult to reach, limiting the use of outside vendors, requiring additional infrastructure such as power, facilities or otherwise.

Does the value of the venue exceed the cost? Could you deliver the same experience somewhere else?

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2. Determine the reception or dinner menu

How does the experience you want to have for you and your guests influence the menu and serving style? Is a casual buffet or family-style platters more aligned? Or, is a plated dinner more in keeping with your idea for the reception?

Plan your reception prior to dinner to allow guests to mix and mingle and most importantly offer their congratulations, not to mention take the selfies.

Have fun and take your time exploring caterers and menus. And, don’t forget to work with your bartenders to create cocktails or mocktails to create an added element of uniqueness to your reception.

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3. Select your wedding cake

Like with your ceremony, how much does tradition matter to you when it comes to the cake, cake toppers and cake cutting?

Are there other desserts that more accurately reflect who you are?

Schedule tastings at least three recommended bakers.

Keep in mind that while a cake may be beautiful in pictures, it’s the flavor everyone remembers.

Coordinate the design, frosting and décor of the cake with your style and colors.

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4. Select your florist

What appeals to you about flowers? The color, a particular bloom, a scent? Start there when deciding the initial direction for your flowers.

Get recommendations for local florists that are known for their quality and design esthetic.

Provide the florist with photographs and examples of flowers and designs you love. And, do not hesitate to ask the florist to create an actual samples: of the centerpieces, boutonnieres, bouquets (if someone will be carrying one), etc. Learn what different flowers cost and the value that florals will bring to your wedding.

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5. Select décor for the event

What more does your experience require beyond the venue, menu, florals?

What personal touches could you add to your concept to make it even more personal?

Lighting is perhaps the most significant way to create a unique atmosphere for your event.

Can you make your décor a gift to your guests by allowing them to take elements of it such as the flowers, candles or other tokens?

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6. Determine entertainment and music

How do you like hearing your favorite songs played? As they were originally recorded or played live? This will help determine if you prefer a DJ or a band.

Could your budget support you having live music during your reception and dinner, and a DJ for dancing? Or vice-versa?

How might your playlist include all of your guests’ musical preferences? Make sure everyone has a song to sing along or dance to throughout the night.

Tell your band or DJ the exact songs you want played.

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7. Prepare the seating chart

Does your venue allow for you to place more and smaller tables such to create more intimate groups? Or, is a long, family-style set up more appropriate for your experience?

For each table, determine whom you’d like to see connecting with each other, whether its people that already know each other, all share a common interest or folks you think will enjoy meeting for the first time.

Do you have the time to assign individual seats or is assigning groups to table more manageable for you? No matter, work on seating over time to allow new and old connections among people to come clear to you.

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8. Prepare toasts for your reception

Whose toast deserves pride of place during the reception? Do you want people other than the best men or women and your parents to participate?

If you are to toast, make sure you prepare this gesture as thoroughly as you did your vows. Now is a time to meaningfully recognize all who have played, and will play, a role in your marriage.

Consider having an MC to keep toasts short and moving swiftly.

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