Wedding Planning Tips

Planning the Perfect Wedding

Without a doubt, your wedding day will be one of the biggest moments of your lives. Admittedly, however, getting there will seem overwhelming at times. I’ve compiled some wedding planning tips which will hopefully help make it easier for you two.

In this guide are tips, recommendations, and general advice to help you with planning. Things are intentionally high-level in order to help a broad range of couples. It’s best if you take each tidbit and prepare to tailor it to your needs. Everything in here is written from the perspective of a wedding photographer; other vendors in the industry may have their own opinions.

And of course, if you have any questions (or suggestions), feel free to email me at any point.

Get Organized to Start Wedding Planning

Connecticut wedding photographer Terrence Irving holds an Android phone with the Google Drive logo present.

Any list of wedding planning tips, I feel, must start with this: get organized and find yourselves a planning method/system. I’m a computer nerd. Therefore, when my wife and I were planning our wedding, we made extensive use of our phones and Google apps. This allowed us do to almost everything digitally on the planning end, up until we had our invitations printed and we mailed them. If you don’t like that approach, no problem! At least get yourselves a notebook that you label “Wedding Planning Book” or something.

Big wedding or small elopement, your nuptials will have a lot of moving pieces. Here are some rough ideas to consider at the beginning of planning your wedding:

  • The big picture: One or both of you have probably been dreaming about your wedding day for a long time. Right after your engagement is a good point at which to discuss what type of wedding you’d like to have.
  • The when and where: Some couples like to get married right away while others prefer to put it off for various reasons. As you would expect, your timeline affects your planning. So, try and nail that down, at least with a general timeframe.
  • Flexibility: Today, it’s a spring wedding at the top of a hill. Tomorrow, it’s a small fall gathering outside of city hall. Or, today it’s blue and orange and next month it becomes red and white. You get the idea: minds change when planning a wedding. Being flexible is one key to happiness.

Wedding planning can be stressful. Please, if you do only one thing on this list, get organized and have a plan from the outset.

Choose a Wedding Photographer

OK, brainstorm with me for a moment. You’ve got each other, your guests that you’ll be celebrating with, a venue, and all the other odds and ends for your wedding day. Now, how are you going to preserve the memories of that day and all its intricacies? That’s where your wedding photographer comes in! I wrote a post containing my tips for choosing a wedding photographer, so please check it out if you think it may be helpful to you.

Find a Wedding Venue

You’ve popped the question–or responded “yes”–to the one you’d like to spend your years with. Naturally, you two will start thinking about where to get married pretty early on in the wedding planning process. There’s quite a bit to consider on this front. Remember: whether you choose to get married in your backyard or in a grand ballroom, your day is about you two and your love story. So, choose a venue that compliments what you’re picturing for your wedding day.

Think About Portrait Locations

Each time you visit a prospective wedding venues, pay close attention to the portrait locations it offers. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholding couple! But make sure that you two are liking what you are seeing; you’ll have your photos for a lifetime, after all.

Before we move on:

  • Bonus tip 1: Sometimes it can make sense to go off site (i.e. leave the venue) for photos.
  • Bonus tip 2: You really want to try and schedule about 90 minutes into your wedding day timeline for all portraits.

Connecticut Wedding Venues

As for Connecticut wedding venue ideas, I have a whole page for that! Head there for an organized directory of some of the state’s best.

Have an Engagement Session

I highly encourage you to have an engagement session. Here’s why:

  1. They result in artwork that you can use to announce your engagement to friends and family, use for save-the-dates, and have as a pre-wedding keepsake.
  2. Other than their wedding day, many couples never take the time to invest in professional photos of just the two of them.
  3. The session gives you a chance to practice with your wedding photographer for your wedding day portraits.

Here are some things to consider about your engagement session:

  • When: Some couples like the cohesion of, for example, fall engagement photos to match their fall wedding. For others, it might be that the first date was on a winter night and they’d like engagement photos to commemorate that.
  • Where: Just like the when, the location of your engagement session may have significance to you and your partner. It’s perfectly understandable, however, if you simply want a pretty background with no specific sentiment attached.
  • How: More so than your wedding day, your engagement session affords you to a chance to really let your personalities shine. That’s because the engagement session is much less formal than your wedding day and it’s just the two of you plus your photographer. Have fun with it!

For Connecticut couples, southeastern Connecticut engagement sessions can be perfect, West Hartford’s Blue Back Square is great, the campus of UConn is a hidden gem, Haley Farm State Park is awesome, and few locations can compete with Harkness Memorial State Park.

Searching for your wedding photographer?

Then you’ve come to the right place! Just click the link to head to my contact page and drop me a line. After , I’ll respond with answers to your questions, specifics about my wedding photography, and we’ll go from there.

Find Your Other Wedding Vendors

Yup, I’ve already tooted my own horn about how important your wedding photographer choice is. The truth is, your entire wedding vendor team is key. We work together to make sure that your wedding day is the one of your dreams.

After your wedding photographer, your wedding DJ is one of the next most important picks you’ll make. Here’s a guide that I wrote on the topic.

I’ve had the chance to work with some great vendors. Here are some recommendations:

Caterer/Baker

  1. Matthew’s Catering (Plainfield, CT)
  2. Chocolate Rose Bake Shop (Griswold, CT)

DJ

  1. After Hours Events of New England (East Windsor, CT)
  2. Welcome Entertainment (Winsted, CT)

Dress Shop or Tux/Suit Rental

  1. Bridal Affection (Hamden, CT)
  2. The Wedding Embassy (Oakville, CT)
  3. The Black Tux (online; nearest physical studio is in Natick, MA)

Facilities

If you happen to be considering a backyard wedding (or a wedding at a venue that requires you to find all/most of your own services), you’ll have to make sure that you hire the right facility wedding vendors. These include considerations like furniture rentals, restrooms, tents, etc. In my planning a backyard wedding guide, I go over this in a lot of detail.

Florist

  1. Honey Bee Florist (Torrington, CT)
  2. McKenna’s Flower Shop (Norwich, CT)

Makeup Artist

  1. Blush and Wave (Litchfield, CT)
  2. Lorna Pulver, LE (Stonington, CT)

Officiant

  1. April Smith (North Stonington, CT)
  2. Marie Tyler Wiley (Stonington, CT)

Planner

  1. Plan-It Vicki (Avon, CT)
  2. Pink Olive Events (Cheshire, CT)

Transportation

  1. First Student Charter Bus Rental
  2. Party Bus Meriden

Establish Your Wedding Day Timeline

Whether you’re having a small or big wedding, your day-of schedule is vitally important. This aspect of your day–when everything is supposed to happen–deserves a fair amount of attention from you and your partner. It’s also something that you’ll need to discuss with your vendors, of course.

When a new couple inquires with me, I start out by asking questions about what they have decided so far. Once they book, I draft a suggested timeline for them in a pretty, easy-to-read format. Discussing with them and their planner, if they have one, is also something I strive to do.

There are some things you might not think of when considering your wedding day timeline. For example, you really should try and schedule 90 total minutes for portraits (this shows up in the cocktail hour portion in the example timeline below).

Generally speaking, here’s what a typical eight-hour wedding day might look like, assuming you don’t have a First Look:

Getting Ready Timeline

  • 8:30 AM: Breakfast, morning routines and preparation
  • 9:00 AM: Getting ready and dressed, with hair, makeup, barber, stylist, etc. appointments for each partner and wedding party members
  • 2:00 PM: Both partners are dressed, individual formal photographs, separate family and wedding party photographs, pre-ceremony down time
  • 2:10 PM: Each partner reads their love letter / opens their gift / First Touch (a First Look would be good here, too)

Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Timeline

  • 3:00 PM: Guests begin to find their seats for ceremony
  • 3:15 PM: Wedding party in position for ceremony
  • 3:30 PM: Ceremony starts
  • 4:00 PM: Ceremony ends, cocktail hour and mingling begins, formal group photographs, formal couple photographs
  • 5:30 PM: Formal photographs end, cocktail hour and mingling ends, guests find their reception seats

Reception Timeline

  • 5:40 PM: Wedding party and couple intros
  • 5:45 PM: Couple’s first dance, individual partner and loved one first dances
  • 6:00 PM: Dinner service begins
  • 6:15 PM: Speeches
  • 6:30 PM: Party time
  • 6:35 PM: Quick couple sunset formal photographs
  • 7:50 PM: Cake cutting
  • 8:15 PM: Sparkler exit
  • 9:30 PM: Reception ends

For my couples, I work closely with them to nail down the details and revise the schedule along the way, finalizing it a week or two before their big day.

Think Ahead to After Your Wedding

The fun doesn’t end after your reception! No list of wedding planning tips is complete without mentioning what you should be doing after your wedding day. Here are some things you won’t want to forget to do:

  1. Plan your honeymoon. Ironically, this can be one of the best parts about getting married, yet it happens afterwards.
  2. Return rented items on time, such as your suit(s)/tux(es), dress(es)/gown(s), furniture, floral arrangements, etc.
  3. Open gifts and make a list.
  4. Send thank-you notes.
  5. Call the town hall and figure out how you’re going to receive your marriage license.
  6. Handle name changes.
  7. Update financial stuff, insurance, and other benefits. Remember to save physical pieces of mail for proof of address.
  8. Download and back up your professional wedding photos.
  9. Ask friends and family for cell phone photos and videos, collect and save everything in a single spot.
  10. Share wedding photos with family and friends.
  11. Write reviews for your awesome wedding vendors.
  12. Make sure that your wedding photographer knows how to reach you for print delivery, etc.

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Connecticut Weddings

Last updated 1/22/22

A bowl of custom hand sanitizer bottles and a plate of masks site on a countertop under a tent at a Connecticut wedding.

Yep, the omicron variant is still here. We’ve all heard about how confusing the CDC’s guidance has become. In Connecticut, I’m unaware of any new mandates other than those at the city/town level. And as always, please keep in mind that wedding venues may still have their own rules in place.

Disclaimer: This information is mostly derived from various pages within the Connecticut Covid-19 Response portal developed by the State of Connecticut, as well as the state’s Department of Public Health website. It is not intended to be direction from me; only the state can provide that. Therefore, and because the situation continues to evolve, I recommend that you click the links I provide throughout this section so that you can read the info at its source.

The Biden administration is making a huge attempt to make at-home Covid-19 testing more accessible to Americans. This includes requiring major insurance carriers to reimburse health insurance-carrying people for test purchases. It also includes an option to order Covid-19 tests online via the United States Postal Service here.

To get vaccinated, boosted, or tested in person in Connecticut, here are some resources:

Effective May 19, 2021, here is the State of Connecticut’s guidance on masks:

  • Outdoors, no one is required by state guidelines to wear a mask (but check on venue and/or locality rules on your own)
  • Indoors, unvaccinated individuals are required by state guidelines to wear a mask
  • Indoors, vaccinated individuals are not required by state guidelines to wear a mask

The Biden administration has finally taken measures to distribute good masks throughout the country to combat the spread of Covid-19. As of right now, the plan seems to be for the federal government to distribute the masks to pharmacies and health centers, where adults can enter and request up to three N95 masks for free.

And do remember:

  1. CDC: “To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, get vaccinated as soon as you can and wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
  2. Cleveland Clinic: “‘Masks are absolutely still an effective way to protect yourself from Covid-19, even with the delta variant.'”
  3. Also keep in mind that unless you’re having a backyard wedding, someone else owns your wedding venue and sets its rules. Therefore, your venue’s management may set their own mask rules.
  4. Lastly, also keep in mind that it’s your wedding, so you can expect your guests and vendors to mask up. Just be sure to tell them about this expectation before your date!

Wedding venues and vendors which fail to comply with the governor of the State of Connecticut’s executive orders can be reported! Please keep this in mind before requesting that anyone bend the rules for your wedding, or if you are being met with any resistance.

No matter your wedding plans, I highly recommend reminding your guests of the State of Connecticut’s rules at the time of your wedding, as well as your expectations. While planning your wedding, you might also look into distributing masks, hand sanitizer, and personal space indicator wristbands.

Yes. As long as they are not breaking the law, the management of your venue can set their own Covid-19 precautions, such as mask wearing and social distancing.

As of May 19, 2021, there are no longer any wedding curfews in effect.

Old info:

  • Indoor and outdoor events at commercial venues must end at 11:00 PM
  • Entertainment/recreation venues must close by 11:00 PM
  • Restaurants must close by 11:00 PM
  • Effective May 1, 2021: these curfews will change to 12:00 AM (midnight)

Effective May 19, 2021, there are no longer any wedding capacity rules in effect. Then, as far as the state is concerned, your wedding venue can operate at whatever their normal approved capacity is, if they so choose.

Old info:

  • Indoor private social/recreational gatherings at commercial venues are capped at 100 people or 50% venue capacity (whichever is smaller)
  • Outdoor private social/recreational gatherings at commercial venues are capped at 200 people
  • Indoor private social/recreational gatherings at private residences are capped at 25 people
  • Outdoor private social/recreational gatherings at private residences are capped at 100 people
  • Indoor and outdoor religious gatherings are allowed as many people as possible as long as six feet of space is maintained
  • Restaurants are allowed a maximum of eight people/table and must have six feet of space between tables (or non-porous barriers must be in place)
  • Indoor performing arts theaters are allowed up to 50% capacity with six feet of space between people
  • Outdoor “event venues”, such as amphitheaters and race tracks, hosting private events are allowed up to 50% capacity or 10,000 people (for those of you with huge wedding plans!)

Want to talk with a wedding photographer?

I can help with that! Just click below for more info or my contact page.