#1 – Make sure you understand the wedding event logistics
Do you want an outdoor wedding? Indoor? Which banquet hall will suit your choice best?
What are your special accommodations? Do you need wheelchair access? You must think about ALL of the details before choosing your perfect wedding venue! It is easy to let the simple concepts slip by until you start making calls. Sit down and think through EVERYTHING! It will make your wedding planning SO much easier!
#2- Make sure and ask if the venue is full-service
#3 – Know the style of your wedding or event
Are you a true romantic? Or are you the fun laid-back type? Do you want your guests to feel at complete ease, or get them up dancing? Or both?
Once you have selected these options, it will be much easier for you to gain an understanding on how to set up the event space. Our banquet halls are easily manipulated to suit your style. This is what we are here for! To SERVE YOU!
#4 – Ask, ask, ask, ask, and ask again!
Too many questions are not enough. Make a list of EVERYTHING you can think of and then reach out to us about your wedding event. We are here to answer your questions and make everything simply perfect for you. However, it’s in your best interest to have prepped these event planning questions in advance so we can solidify that perfect experience with less stress.
Call us today at Signature Banquets! 219.696.7696
How To Have The Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget You Can Afford
You don’t have to break the bank to have a beautiful and memorable wedding day. Here’s how to save cash without looking cheap! First and most importantly — remember that you only truly need three things to have a successful wedding day: you, the person you love, and an officiant. Everything else is optional. Remembering this will help you make some tough financial decisions during the planning process.
Research to the 10th Power
Scour the Internet for checklists and ask all your friends that have been married for planning advice. For most couples, their wedding is the large event they have ever coordinated and being informed is your best weapon to saving. Educate yourself on the average cost for each element and look for creative alternatives.
Talk the Talk
After you’ve done the research, talk to your fiance and determine the “must-have” items that are important to each you. Once you have created your list, talk to the key decision makers about a realistic budget for the entire wedding.
When it comes to selecting your perfect wedding date, there are two ways to save. First, consider a non-Saturday, for even bigger deals, ask about Thursday and you will be astonished. Second, look for opportunities during non-peak months.
Save the Splurge
A common mistake made by those newly engaged is running out and splurging on their first wedding purchase. They haven’t yet realized that everything is 5x more expensive than they thought. Save the splurge for after you’ve had a chance to research costs for all major elements of your wedding.
Do The Math
When it comes to your guest list, it’s all about numbers. The more people you invite, the more people that will come. Multiply that by 2 and it starts to add up quickly. Especially, since most of your guests don’t actually live in Indiana and are looking for a reason to come visit. We know it’s hard, but keeping your guest list to only the most important people in your life will have a large impact on your overall budget.
Stay organized and record all of your wedding expenses!
One of the unabashed highlights of the run-up to the wedding is the bridal shower, a once in a lifetime opportunity for the bride and her closest friends to get together and celebrate the past and the future in one walloping great party. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, hold that thought, because when it comes right down to it planning a bridal shower can be a lot of work. Like any important event, there are a bevy of choices to be made and complicated questions to be answered.
There’s more to a successful bridal shower than just getting everyone together and popping open a bottle of bubbly. Much more. So, let’s talk a bit about the ins and outs of bridal showers, and try to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions in the process.
Who’s In Charge Here?
The first question to consider is who will be in charge of the festivities. Traditionally, the task of planning the bridal shower falls to the maid of honor, with ample help from the bridesmaids. That means deciding on the date and venue, handling all of the invitations, arranging for refreshments, and planning all of the entertainment and activities for the big bash. While there really are no set rules governing bridal showers, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind:
Only guests who have been invited to the wedding should be invited to the bridal shower
Choose the date carefully, and try to avoid any dates (holidays, summer vacations) when guests may not be able to attend
Plan ahead, and choose a date and time that works best for the bride (a month to two months prior to the wedding day is ideal)
Create a schedule for the party that includes plenty of time for laughter, games, a light meal, and (of course) the opening of presents
Choosing a Theme
While it’s not necessary to set a definite theme for the shower, it often helps to guide the planning process and to create a more festive atmosphere for all of the guests. Your bridal shower theme can be as simple or as complicated as you like, always keeping in mind that it should reflect the personality and interests of the bride herself.
In other words, if the guest of honor would like nothing more than a night of bowling don’t plan an overly elegant cocktail soiree (and vice a versa). Discuss possible themes with the bridesmaids until you settle on one that suits the bride to a T.
Here are a few popular bridal shower themes to give you some ideas:
Wine Tasting Shower – A wine expert will attend the event with a selection of fine wines for tasting. This can make for a delightful evening, but beware if there will be underage guests.
Honeymoon Inspired Theme – Set the shower’s theme according to the couples honeymoon destination, with food and entertainment inspired by that destination.
A Couple’s Shower – Showers today don’t just have to be for the bride. Include the groom and invite everyone, regardless of gender, to the festivities.
The Spa/Makeover Shower – Treat the bride and her guests to spa treatments and enjoy a glass of wine or two while being pampered and getting some beauty tips for the wedding.
Bridal showers have always included games, and that’s one tradition that thankfully hasn’t gone by the wayside. After a couple of cocktails your guests should be ready to let their hair down and have a laugh or two, and nothing promotes conversations and laughter than a well chosen game or two.
Again, keep the tastes and personality of the bride in mind, and choose your games accordingly. A couple of examples should give you an idea of the fun that can be had with the right diversion:
Telephone Toast – This whispering game relies on the garbling of whispered messages to conjure up laughs and potential embarrassment (in a good way of course).
Finish That Thought – A wedding themed version of Mad Libs. Guests write down their marital advice on cards, and guests have to match the silly and serious assertions to their authors. (Best played with a drink in hand).
Shower Gift Bingo – Guests are given cards printed with a list of shower gifts. As the bride opens her presents, guests mark off each gift on their cards until they score ‘bingo’. This is a great way to keep everyone involved in the gift opening ceremonies.
Finally, it’s time to talk about refreshments. Choices here will largely depend on the size of the shower and the number of attending guests. If you’re planning a sizable party for an evening’s entertainment, it may be best to opt for a proper sit down meal catered by a local eatery. This takes some of the pressure off of the planning committee, and ensures that everyone enjoys a stellar meal. Showers with a smaller guest list might be better served by a light buffet or cocktail service with hors d’oeuvres, or even a light brunch if you’re planning the party for earlier in the day (just don’t forget the mimosas).
Planning a bridal shower should never be seen as a chore, but it can be a complicated business. If you been honored to be chosen as a maid of honor, then it’s your responsibility to see that the bride has a merry and memorable shower before she ties the knot. Having said that, there’s no need to stress. Just take your time, plan early, and allow these simple tips to guide your way.
SIT DOWN DINNER
Who should choose it: Couples celebrating at a catering facility, club, or ballroom, as well as oenophiles who want to pair each course with wine.
Who should avoid it: Party animals. Dinners take time―spent eating, not dancing or clinking glasses with anyone beyond your table.
What to ask: The real price difference between seated dinners and buffets. You may assume plated dinners are pricier, but often they are not, because the caterer knows exactly how much food to order and prepare, whereas buffets have to accommodate multiple trippers.
Who should choose it: Those who want to offer several entrées. Planning a day wedding? Brunch dishes like muffins and fruit platters look lovely on a buffet, and omelets can be made to order.
Who should avoid it: Couples with a 100-plus guest list (lines will form).
What to ask: How long the food will sit out. Typically, buffets have a shelf life of about 2 to 2½ hours―for both taste and health reasons. Also ask how the waitstaff will direct buffet traffic (it’s best to invite tables to head to the buffet one at a time) and clear dirty plates.
Who should choose it: Duos on a budget. You can offer hors d’oeuvres for less money than a sit-down meal. (Just be sure to keep the party under three hours. If you go longer, the cost difference between the two parties is negligible.) This may also appeal to couples with a 300-plus guest list and second-time-arounders.
Who should avoid it: Brides seeking the spotlight. Cocktail parties tend to skip introductions of the couple, first dances, and dances with parents.
What to ask: The best time to schedule it. An 8 p.m. reception clues in guests to grab a bite before, whereas a 5 p.m. start time signals supper.
Who should choose it: Couples with close-knit friends and families who would enjoy the informality of a backyard, a barn, or a park wedding.
Who should avoid it: Control freaks. If your friends are firing up the park grill themselves, burgers may be burned, food may go cold, and wayward Frisbees might come your way. You could hire a caterer, but staff may be trampling through your kitchen if you host the barbecue at your home.
What to ask: Will the caterer have to bring in a cook tent? Even if you have access to a great gourmet kitchen, it might not be up to catering standards.
Unlike the work of your other wedding vendors (music, flower arrangements, cake), photographs aren’t things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first—you don’t really know what you’re getting until after the fact. That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanor are extra-important when choosing your photographer.
STEP 1: SETTLE ON A STYLE
Before you begin researching photographers, you’ll need to first decide what type of photography style you prefer, as that will help determine which kind of photographer you’ll want shooting your wedding. Do any of the following appeal to you?
Documentary: Instead of a series of posed photos, these are candid or spontaneous pictures (read: not styled) of people, decor and the action. Typical shots might include the lavish raw bar before guests start digging in, your motley crew of cousins dancing, or you and your bridesmaids laughing, champagne in hand. With a purely photojournalistic photographer, you’ll very rarely see people staring at the camera—the photos capture the moments exactly as they happened, and together they tell a story.
Portraiture: If you prefer classic portraits (think: your parents’ wedding album), go with a traditional photographer who specializes in portraiture. These are posed shots of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops. That’s not to say there isn’t room for creativity in this category. While some photographers will pose subjects in more traditional spots (like at the ceremony altar or out on the lawn of the country club) and in more formal poses (standing as a group together), other photographers take portraiture further into the creative realm with a more dramatic composition (the couple sitting on a lounge chair at their hip hotel reception venue, or the couple holding hands in the middle of a nearby dirt road with the mountains in the background).
Fine Art: Though it’s similar to documentary photography, this style gives the shooter greater artistic license to infuse their particular point of view and style into your photographs. So while the shots reflect reality, it’s the photographer’s reality. The photos are dramatic and gorgeous, but are—or look as though they were—shot on film with a grainier, dreamier, more muted appearance. Usually the object (or couple) is in focus and the background appears to blur. Motion also looks very natural in this style of photography. The few wedding photographers in the world who shoot only on film tend to fall into this category, and typically they shoot in black and white, though some will do a mix of both. That said, a photographer using a digital camera can still capture this style with the right gear and camera lens. And some photographers will alternate between digital and film. Not all photographers who take a fine-art approach shoot portraits, so if it’s really important to your mom to have posed family shots, look for someone who does both, or consider hiring a second shooter for the portrait sessions.
Edgy-Bold: This style of photography, an offshoot of fine art, is marked by outside-the-box, tilted angles (called “Dutch angles”) and unconventional framing. So instead of a straight-on shot of the couple exchanging vows at the altar, the photo might look tilted, with an object like an altar arrangement or a candle in the foreground. Or the photo of the bride having her makeup done might be shot from above, with an emphasis on the eye shadow brush rather than on her face. Even a single portrait of a bridesmaid might be shot so that her face takes over only the bottom right of the photo and the rest of the space is filled with the wall or whatever’s behind her.
Many wedding photographers can do a blend of portraiture and documentary-style shots, and will do a mix of black-and-white and color images, but if there’s a special style you love, make sure to focus on photographers who specialize in it.
STEP 2: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Start your search by reading reviews from recent brides and browsing hundreds of local listings. Carefully review potential photographers’ websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they’ve shot, which will give you an idea of their style. The design of the website may also give you clues about the photographer’s personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if possible. Is the feedback from clients positive? How does the photographer
STEP 3: SET UP INTERVIEWS
This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their sites—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they’re available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, your wedding style and what you envision for your photos.
STEP 4: SEE A FEW FULL WEDDING ALBUMS
Don’t base your decision solely on what you see in a photographer’s highlights gallery or album. For good reason, photographers show prospective clients a portfolio of their best pictures, all from different weddings, so you’re seeing the best of the best. The problem with that is you won’t get a well-rounded idea of their work. Ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they’ve shot (not someone else at their company) so you can get a better idea of what your complete collection of photos might look like after the wedding. If you see that the full gallery photos are just about as good as the ones chosen in the highlight gallery (that is, they’re all so good it’s impossible to choose!), you’re on the right track. And ask to see at least one or two complete albums of weddings that are in similar settings to yours. For example, if you’re planning an indoor affair with dark lighting, don’t just look at weddings shot outdoors in natural sunlight. And if you’re planning to say “I do” on a beach at sunset, you’ll want to see examples of that.
STEP 5: REVIEW ALBUMS WITH A CRITICAL EYE
When reviewing a photographer’s album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that’s the style you’re after). It’s also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people’s emotions; make sure the photographer’s subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are, of course, important, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.
STEP 6: MAKE SURE YOUR PERSONALITIES MESH
Don’t underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn’t irritate you in any way. Remember: They’ll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don’t want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.
STEP 7: CONFIRM YOUR SHOOTER(S)
Many larger photo studios have more than one photographer on staff, and unless you specify it in your contract, the lead photographer may not be the one shooting your day. Since every professional has a different style, technique and personality, you need to make sure that the one you interview and “click” with will be the same one who works your wedding. Also, include specific stipulations in the contract about who will cover for the photographer should something happen on the actual day. Check whether the photographer will bring any assistants to your wedding, and if so, how many? If you have room in your budget, consider hiring a second shooter. Many top-notch photographers include a second shooter in the contract, but if this isn’t a part of the deal, you may want to ask about the possibility. The main benefit to having two shooters is that you, of course, get twice as much coverage. For example, during your formal photo session, one photographer can capture the formal photos, while the second one can get behind-the-scenes, photojournalistic photos, like your guests mingling. If you’re having a larger wedding (250 guests or more), you might even want to ask about having three shooters so your photography team can be sure to capture the event from all angles.
STEP 8: COMPARE PACKAGES
You won’t be able to nail down an exact dollar amount until you’re sure of what you want, how many albums you need and where your photographer is based, and packages range from $2,500 all the way up to $15,000-plus on the higher end of the spectrum. When interviewing candidates, ask for a general range based on the photographer’s standard “shooting fee” and package, plus their standard rates for the type of album you think you’ll want and the amount of coverage you’re hoping to book them for (day of, full weekend). It’s important to find out what’s included in the standard package, plus the basic range for any extras you may want, like an engagement shoot, special effects or additional coverage, so you can compare rates. In particular, find out exactly how many hours of coverage are included. Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day—from when you start getting ready until after you make your grand exit from the reception. While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from preceremony events (getting ready with your bridesmaids or first-look photos) to the end of the reception. It’s usually better to pay for more coverage if there’s a chance you’ll run over and you definitely want your photographer there until the end (overtime is usually charged at a higher hourly rate). Also consider whether you’ll want to do an engagement shoot or have your photographer shoot other events during your wedding weekend (the guys’ golf outing, the bridesmaid lunch).
STEP 9: ASK ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even use them in ads). That also means that you can’t just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you’ll have to buy the rights to the images.
STEP 10: GET THE POST PRODUCTION DETAILS
It usually takes at least a month to get all those photo proofs back from your photographer. Why? Your photographer is shooting enormous raw files far bigger than your typical JPG. Shooting raw files gives your photographer greater ability to correct the photo, but it also takes a longer time to upload, process and edit all those files (in order to correct color levels and so on). It varies, but many photographers say that they spend an additional 40 hours editing images from a single wedding, so it can take up to six to eight weeks (or longer, depending on the photographer and how busy they are) to get proofs back. Here’s what to ask: How many images should I expect? Will they be high resolution or low resolution? Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images? Will the proofs I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want? Speaking of retouching, ask about retouching options and special effects (which can range from simple white balancing to beauty retouching and stylized art effects like super-saturated colors) and the additional cost for both.