The Most Common Wedding Questions of the Year So Far
If you're planning your nuptials, there's a chance you have some wedding questions. If so, you're in luck! March 1 is National Wedding Planning Day—our very own holiday that we created to signify the end of proposal season and the start of wedding planning season. We celebrated by having The Knot editors on call to answer all the wedding planning questions couples had in real-time.
Here, we recap the most popular wedding questions we received this year. We've also included common questions from previous years, because you can never be too prepared when it comes to planning your wedding. If you missed the fun (or you just want to see what other couples are asking), keep reading to learn everything you need to know, from finding your color palette to making your wedding budget. (Psst: For answers to specific questions about planning during the coronavirus pandemic, check out our COVID-19 wedding guide here.)
In this article:
- Wedding Planning Basics
- Staying On-Budget
- Hashtag Help
- Invitation Etiquette
- Wedding Styles & Themes
- Wedding Day Timeline
- Destination Weddings
Wedding Planning Basics
Q: How early is too early to start planning your wedding, trying on dresses, etc?
A: It's never too early to start planning! Getting a head start can help you avoid a lot of last-minute stress in the long run, and you'll also have a better chance of getting exactly what you want when it comes to your selection of wedding venues and vendors. If you'll be wearing a wedding dress, it can take up to six months for it to be ready after you purchase it, so go ahead and start shopping as soon as you've finalized your wedding date, overall style vision, and budget.
Q: How many rooms should I reserve in a hotel block? Does it need to be close to the venue?
A: If you're having out-of-town guests, offering a hotel block is a great way to get the group together and make your planning easier. (This could also be helpful for local guests looking to spend the night too.) To start, we recommend booking a smaller number of rooms and adding more later if needed. We teamed up with HotelPlanner to help you tackle all your hotel block needs. Fill out a simple information questionnaire and a local expert can help you every step of the way. If you're looking at hotels 20-30 minutes away, we also suggest providing transportation to shuttle guests to and from the hotel and venue.
Q: My fiancé and I wanted to skip the wedding party, but I wanted a maid of honor. Would it be weird to just have a maid of honor and no one else?
A: It's not weird at all! Your planning decisions are totally up to you, so do what makes you happiest. You should be surrounded by the people you love most, so it's perfectly fine to have only a maid of honor if that's what you want.
Q: Should I hire a videographer? Is it worth it?
A: We love the idea of having a videographer. You'll cherish your wedding video for years to come—it'll help you remember all the special moments from your big day. Here, we've outlined the average cost of a videographer to help factor it into your budget. If you want advice from real couples, check out this article.
Q: I want my wedding to be memorable. How can I make my wedding stand out without breaking the bank?
A: Having that "wow factor" will come from small, meaningful details. If your wedding is a personalized reflection of you and your fiancé, your guests will remember it for years to come. Here are some of our favorite ideas for a standout wedding.
Q: Is a formally-announced after-party better than a brunch send-off?
A: The choice is yours—one option isn't necessarily better than the other, it just comes down to what's most important to you. If you want to spend as much time as possible with your guests (especially those from out of town), a brunch may be better. That way, you won't miss anyone as they leave your reception. However, if you know your guests would enjoy an after-party, it might be a better option to keep the party going. Ultimately, it comes down to what you and your fiancé prefer most.
Q: What little things am I missing? What could I be forgetting?
A: We recommend using The Knot Checklist to keep track of your to-do list. After you add your wedding information, it'll create a customized timeline to help you stay on top of budget deadlines, sending stationery, signing contracts and everything else you need to complete. We also recommend using these timeline guides: 12-month planning timeline, ceremony site checklist, and comprehensive beauty timeline. Then, check out this roundup of smaller details not to miss (like signage, lighting ideas and creative favors) to ensure you've got all the bases covered.
Q: How do I have a nice wedding on a budget?
A: First, use The Knot Budget Tool to create a budget that works for you. It'll keep you on track as you make all of your wedding-related purchases. Then, check out this article for some great tips on creative ways to save money (without anyone even noticing).
Q: How do we ask family members for help paying for our wedding? And how should we divide payments?
A: Start by sitting down with your fiancé to set a realistic wedding budget of what you can afford on your own. Once you have a general amount in mind, share that plan with your parents (or additional family members) and ask if they'd like to contribute. (Not sure what to say? We give real examples of budget conversation starters here.) From there, create a plan to make their contributions equal—or, ask if they're interested in paying for specific things like the DJ, flowers, or rehearsal dinner expenses.
Q: I'm not sure how paying for an open bar works. How do I choose a vendor for drinks?
A: When it comes to your open bar, that depends on your venue. Some venues, like vineyards, only allow beer and wine, while others, like ballrooms, have restrictions on ways liquor is served. If the bar package isn't managed in-house, they might be able to recommend a vendor who has done a great job at a prior wedding, and one who'll abide by the space's rules.
Q: We want to save as much money as possible on our wedding. How do we keep it small and plan a cost-effective wedding?
A: Outline the priorities that are most important to you. That way, you have a list of items that are non-negotiable (like a live band, amazing decor or a late-night food truck). Check out this article to find creative ways to save money. Then, use The Knot Budget Tool to help keep yourself on track!
Q: What are some affordable party favors?
A: There are tons of options. Check out The Knot Shop, Etsy or Amazon. Some ideas include fans, lip balm, tea, coffee, candy, beer koozies, candle tins, matches, bubbles, water bottles or plants (yes, really!). We have a roundup of eco-friendly wedding favors if you're into that too. Looking for a way to make it personal? Consider baking your favorite family cookie recipe or buying some local goodies to pay homage to your wedding destination. For even more help, check out our roundup of amazing wedding favors under $1.
Q: Do we need a wedding hashtag?
A: We recommend having a wedding hashtag, especially if you want guests to capture photos and videos throughout your wedding. This is a great way to get them engaged from the moment they arrive—consider investing in signage that displays your hashtag so they know what to use. You and your S.O. will have so much fun scrolling through the hashtag posts after your big day to see special memories from your guests' point of view. Plus, this is a great way to help them feel connected if you're hosting a virtual wedding or minimony due to COVID.
Q: I don't have any hashtag ideas! How can we create something that's personal and fits with our names?
A: Making the perfect wedding hashtag takes some creative thinking. You could go for alliteration, a cute pun or a play on words that involves your first or last names—the options are truly limitless. We've outlined everything you need to know about making a wedding hashtag here. We share the most common wedding hashtags, expert advice, and creative examples to steal from real couples.
Q: When should I send out save-the-dates and formal invitations?
A: When it comes to sending invitations, earlier is always better (especially to help your out-of-town guests make travel arrangements). Typically, save-the-dates should go out six to eight months before the wedding, while formal invites should be sent, at latest, six to eight weeks before the date. If guests will be purchasing plane tickets, consider sending out formal invitations at least three months in advance.
Q: Do people still send formal wedding invitations with traditional wording?
A: While some people still do use traditional wording, it's ultimately up to you to decide what to write on your invites! Check out this article for plenty of wording tips and templates.
Q: Do I have to invite someone to my wedding if I've asked for their address?
A: First, consider the type of relationship you have with this person. If you're somewhat close, you might want to extend the invitation. But if you're not in touch as frequently or you don't see them often, it may be okay to not send the invitation. Ultimately, it is your wedding so you get final say on your guest list. But, keep in mind that not inviting them could lead to an awkward conversation. Be prepared to explain your choice if you do decide to skip inviting them!
Q: How should I handle guest list reductions if my venue can't accommodate my original number due to COVID?
A: Guest list etiquette in the time of COVID can be confusing, especially if you've already sent out invitations and need to downsize. It's always best to be honest with your guests—they'll understand why you need to pivot your plans. We outline everything you need to know about shifting your guest list size due to COVID here. Plus, check out this first-person account from a real bride about how she downsized her guest list from 120 people to 30. If you do find yourself in an awkward position where someone asks if they're invited, here's how to politely tell them no.
Wedding Styles & Themes
Q: How do I choose a color scheme for my wedding? I want something that's unique and will stand out to my guests.
A: Check out our roundup of 2021 wedding color trends for fresh ideas. Some of our favorite wedding colors for 2021 are papaya orange, lavender and retro brights.
Q: How do you decide on exactly what style you're going for? What's the first step after securing a venue?
A: Take our Style & Vision Quiz. After answering a series of questions you'll get a vision board of inspirational photos and tips to help get you started.
Q: What things can you save money on by DYing and what things should you leave to the experts?
A: DIY some of your decor. Things like making your own signage place cards and table decor can end up saving you some cash down the line. We recommend sticking to the pros for bigger stuff (think: food, photos, music, flowers), as they're experts in their fields.
Wedding Day Timeline
Q: What's the best wedding day timeline?
A: We recommend using this step-by-step guide to creating a wedding day timeline. We outline how much time traditional activities take so you can allot for each in your schedule. You'll also find sample timelines provided by real planners that you can use as a template for your own wedding day. There's not one universal timeline that fits every couple, so use this guide as a starting point and customize it to your needs.
Q: What should my timeline look like for a COVID minimony?
A: The timeline for a COVID minimony will be similar to a traditional wedding day schedule. Check out this wedding day timeline guide—we outline all the traditional wedding day activities along with how much time they generally take. Use this to determine the most important elements you want included in your minimony. You might only need one hour for formal portraits, or you can skip cocktail hour and go straight to dinner. You could also opt to replace traditional "dance floor" time with speeches and mingling with guests in-person or over Zoom. Use this opportunity to include the activities that matter most to you and your S.O.
Q: How much time should you build into your day for pictures and when is the best time to do them?
A: Every photographer is different, as is your day-of timeline. While there's not a specific amount of time you should set aside, two hours is a good starting point. You'll want to consider travel time, the size of your bridal party and amount of family members tagging along, as well as what works best with your photographer. Doing a first look before the ceremony could minimize time spent taking photos later, but generally couples will take photos after the ceremony and before the reception, during cocktail hour.
Q: How close to the wedding should I schedule dress fittings and alterations?
A: Wedding dresses usually require three to four fittings: one or two after you buy the dress, one about a month out from your date and one two weeks before your wedding. But if you're worried about the fit, work with your consultant, tailor or seamstress to figure out a plan that works best for you.
Q: Is a second wedding reception dress necessary, or is it recommended to party in your bridal dress?
A: The choice is up to you. Wearing a reception wedding dress would allow you to experiment with your style or try a bold trend you're loving. But if you absolutely love your wedding dress, there's no need to get a second one if you don't want to. It all comes down to what makes you feel your best.
Q: What are great pieces of accessories for bridesmaids to have matching besides just color with their dresses?
Q: Is it okay to request that guests wear a certain color?
A: Absolutely! Make a note of your requested attire on your formal invites or a reception card if you'll be sending one. (Monochrome weddings are a huge trend this year, and you can definitely ask guests to wear one specific color.) It's also a great idea to put this on your wedding website in case guests have any other dress code questions.
Q: Any tips for those planning destination weddings?
A: Give yourself and your guests time! Make sure that you send out your save-the-dates and your invitations earlier than usual. (For save-the-dates, aim to send them eight months to a year before the date. For invites, shoot for three months prior). Make sure you're clear on the legal requirements of the place you're exchanging vows at and plan for the extra cost of travel. Be prepared for the possibility of people not being able to make the trip—it's not personal! Lastly, consider hiring a destination wedding planner. They know the area inside and out, so they can help you with everything under the sun.
Q: Do you have any advice on hiring a wedding planner abroad?
A: Check out any domestic or local planners who may have worked at your destination. If you can't find any, ask pros you've booked in your destination for their recommendations. They'll probably be helpful! Beyond that, check reviews and past work—and when in doubt, use this guide to communicate with your planner, regardless of location.
Q: I'm having a "destination" wedding over 3 hours away. Do I need to have a welcome party, open bar, and a brunch for my guests over the course of the weekend or can I just pick one?
A: While you most certainly don't need to have all of those (the last thing you want to do is go over your budget), pick one or two of the most important "extras" to accommodate those traveling from afar. If you want to spend more time with your guests (especially those coming from out of town) you might want to consider doing a welcome party or brunch. Or, stick with an open bar if that's a priority for you. Ultimately, work with your fiancé to figure out the most important (and cost-effective) option.
Q: How do I vet vendors when I'm doing a destination wedding? What do you recommend as the best way to handle this?
A: We recommend starting by looking at reviews. Check out the planner's website, portfolio and social media. Speak with local vendors as well to see who they recommend or what they have to say about potential planners. Once you've got a few options, hop on a phone call with them and interview them. We even suggest asking them if you can contact any former clients who would be willing to share about their experience with the pro.