A Guide to Your Happily Ever After

From photography to the reception and of course the honeymoon, there is a lot to consider when planning your wedding. Take the stress out of the big day and let our helpful guide assist you in your happily after ever.

Photography | Jennifer Robison
Makeup & Hair | Carol Hines
Wedding Gowns |
Happily Ever After
Flowers | Eufloria
Venue | 601 Spring 
Mattresses and Furniture | Ivan Smith Furniture


‘Princess and the Pea’ by Jennifer Robison Photography. Bedding styled by Ivan Smith Furniture.

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou are engaged, but now what? Planning is essential in making your wedding as special as possible. Take the worry and stress out of it all by following a few simple steps, provided by SB Magazine, that will make your day a dream come true.

Most women have dreamed of this special day since they were little girls and now it is your moment. You are engaged, and it is time to start planning, but where to start? First things first: Set a budget. Whether you or your family is paying for the wedding, this is essential to know how much you can spend.


Once you have a budget, then you can break it down and decide how much you want to spend on each area of the big day. Many times, the largest portion of wedding budgets is spent on the reception and flowers.

Untitled-1The reception budget will depend on how many people you invite, time of day and what food and beverages you want served. If you are planning an outdoor wedding with an after party under tents, then the price can range from hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the tents alone. If the venue you choose has a reception hall or party room, then that cost may be included in the venue price. But make sure.

Then, depending on the time of day and the setting, you may serve hors d’oeuvres, punch and cake, or a full course meal with an open bar. Whatever you plan, make it special but make it affordable. Some venues may provide catering, but be sure to allow for the additional cost. There may also be extras built in for paying the wait staff and for the use of dinnerware, silver, napkins and table clothes.


Next, but probably most important, is setting the date at the venue. Choosing the date at the location is something to address now. It is never too early to book. If you are planning a wedding in your church, then speak to the clergy and find out if they are available to perform the ceremony on the date you are planning. Most churches may require only a small fee for the use of their worship center and for the pastoral staff performing the ceremony.


The bridal suite at the 601 Spring Event Center.

If you are planning to have your wedding at another location, whether indoors or outdoors, heed that cost to be considerably more. There are many gorgeous settings that require little or no décor to reflect your style. Parks, gardens, vineyards and even backyards make stunning backdrops for weddings but consider the weather. If you plan a summer wedding be prepared for heat and in the winter brace yourselves for the cold. Make sure there is a plan B for guests to take shelter if needed or for the ceremony to carry on regardless of the weather conditions.


‘New Orleans Wedding’ Photography by Jennifer Robison

Ballrooms, hotels and even barns are popular indoor venues. These places may come with a heftier price tag. Also, booking your date and time is key too. There may also be time restraints on how long you can have the area for your wedding and/or reception. So make sure you book enough time for decorating, the wedding and the reception if you plan to have it at the same location. There may be hidden or additional costs in these extras. Be sure to ask before signing a contract or booking the venue.

Some couples also choose destination weddings. These are also costly, so take into account travel and hotel expenses in addition to the date, time, location, rentals (chairs, etc.) and reception.


After a budget has been established and the venue (including date and time) has been set, then decide your theme. There are various styles, which include modern, contemporary, shabby chic, vintage and rustic. The style and colors should reflect that theme.


Photography by Jennifer Robison

Once you have colors and style picked out, then you are well on your way to decorating. There are so many ideas you can find online through popular websites such as Pinterest and Instagram or just by searching online. According to www.bridalguide.com the most popular colors in 2015 were bold and bright shades such as hot pink and hot orange. Last year also saw the popularity of Mason jars, burlap and lots of signage. Honestly, you can’t go wrong on your choice of style because it is a reflection of the couple. So have fun!


The colors and style can then be mirrored in your invitations and response cards. Some couples like to design and print their own invitations. There are many affordable card shops online, such as www.vistaprint.com, www.weddingpaperdivas.com and www.davidsbridal.com, but using local printers/office supply stores to print invites can help cut the cost and help you achieve a more customized look.



Invitations are traditionally sent out six to eight weeks before the affair. This gives guests time to clear their calendar for the day and make travel arrangements.

Cards may be included, with postage paid, for RSVPs to help plan for seating and catering. More often though, couples are using online RSVP to cut down on costs and stay organized. A free and fun way to respond for a wedding can be done through www.mywedding.com, www.ewedding.com, www.theknot.com and www.weddingwindow.com. These websites are a great tool for couples to build a wedding page unique to them and share their story as well as add photographs. These sites also have advice and etiquette tabs and lots of other information on vendors and more.

Another good tip, is adding the names of a few stores you have registered at for wedding gifts. Although you may have a wedding or bridal shower prior to your wedding, there may be some guests who want to bring a gift. Registration is also an online option.


The rule of thumb in finding a good wedding photographer is to go with recommendations, suggestions from your local chamber of commerce or many times just cold calling a business. Whatever you do, research the photographer. This is your big day and you want to capture it on film forever. So make sure you find a reliable person to handle this event and don’t be afraid to tell them particular shots you want photographed. When consulting with the photographer, look through their portfolio and see the work they have done before signing the dotted line on a contract. The same goes for a videographer – know what you are getting first. This is your special moment, so capture it.

Makeup & Hair by Carol Hines

Makeup & Hair by Carol Hines

Music is another important element of a wedding and should reflect the couple’s taste. If you decide to go with recorded music, or a live band, make sure they know when you want them to play particular tunes. Another note is to make sure there is sound equipment available and if not, then find out the cost. If you hire a band and they don’t have a microphone or amplifiers then that can be a last minute problem. Some venues may have sound equipment available for rent, so consider that when lining up music.


Every woman loves flowers and having a special blend of your favorite buds in your wedding bouquet makes you feel pretty. Many times brides will try to cut cost by using artificial versus live flowers. Both may be beautiful but will it be cost effective in the long run? Weigh your options and once you have decided, coordinate the flowers with your color and style.


Photography by Jennifer Robison


Photography by Jennifer Robison

When ordering flowers, keep in mind the season your wedding will take place and make sure the florist can incorporate all your favorites. Find out if there is a delivery fee for the flowers and make sure you order in enough time.


Photography by Jennifer Robison


Photography by Jennifer Robison

There are various shapes of bridal bouquets including cascading (large-scale of flowers wired together to create an extended look), hand-tied (which is the most popular for brides), pomander, round (flowers are arranged to create a ball), and toss (a small-scale grouping of flowers which is a version of the bride’s bouquet to be used for the bride to toss away at the end of the reception). Don’t forget to include your grandmother’s corsage or a small bouquet.

Other special flowers to remember are the boutonnieres for the groom and his groomsmen, along with boutonnieres for the father of the bride and groom, grandfather, pastor and other special members of the wedding party.


There are so many flavors, colors and designs to choose from when it comes to the wedding and groom’s cake. Make an appointment with a bakery and set aside some time to do a tasting with the groom. You both can consider flavors for both cakes and then the design. It is a good idea to have a cake design and color in mind when meeting with the baker.


Photography by Jennifer Robison


‘Audubon Tearoom Wedding’ by Jennifer Robison Photography

Does the design and colors go with your overall theme? Be sure to coordinate with the baker on the delivery of your cake and the location. Also, make sure you have a server that will be available to cut the cake after the cake-cutting ceremony with the bride and groom.


Ah, the dress. This is the part we all love. Do you want to go with a traditional or more modern look? Do you want to wear a veil, headband, heirloom clips or combs or flowers? These are all questions you should know going in for a fitting. Call the dress shop ahead of time and make sure no appointment is necessary. You also want to keep in mind the dress may need alterations and this can be done by the business, but must be done ahead of time. There are additional fees for alterations, so allow for that in the dress budget too.

'Princess and the Pea' by Jennifer Robison Photography. Bedding styled by Ivan Smith Furniture.

Wedding gown styled by Happily Ever After, Hayley Paige Bridal. Flower bouquet designed by Eufloria.

The bride’s body shape will help in determining the type of dress that wins you over. There are a variety of dress styles, which include A-line, ball gown, empire, mermaid, sheath, short or trumpet. Color is also something to be considered. There are various shades of dresses and some brides choose to go with a colored dress or flares of color dress rather than the traditional shade of white. Other things to keep in mind are the type of fabric or neckline, waistline, sleeve length and train you desire for your gown. Does the dress compliment jewelry you plan to wear?

Don’t forget the shoes. If you are planning to wear heels or flats, wear them to the fitting so you can see how the dress looks. Whatever you decide pick something that you are going to be comfortable in and that falls within your spending range.


The honeymoon is usually a task left for the groom but can be something both compromise on. Is it in your budget? It is a good idea to talk about your destination so you will know what to pack and how many days you will need to clear on your calendar. This is important even if he is planning a surprise get-a-way. Your friends and family can help you pack in that case. Remember this is your first real vacation together as a married couple, so make memories, have fun, and plan. Do you need plane tickets or passports? Don’t wait until the last minute to make these plans either. Book your hotel, bed and breakfast, or vacation home in plenty of time.



‘New Orleans Luxury’ by Jennifer Robison

It truly is all in the details when planning a wedding. Watch out for additional costs, make sure you ask questions and prepare checklists if necessary to make the planning process goes as smooth as possible. There will be many people involved in helping to make your day special and they should not be forgotten. Make sure you remember wedding party gifts, favors for guests, thank you cards, and any other special tokens you want to give all of those who made things possible.