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Charlestown, OH Wedding Planning Consumer Guide, Ideas for Planning a Wedding

Charlestown, OH Wedding Guide

Wedding Guide

It is finally here!  You’ve dreamed of this day from the time you were a little girl.  You have your perfect man, the perfect ring and you’re ready to take the first step in your fairy tale toward a happily ever after.  Ensuring the big day is everything you hoped does require planning.  There will be a number of preparations and decisions to make and at times it may appear overwhelming, but hang in there.  This guide provides tips and information to keep stress levels down and ensure your day is the vision you’ve always dreamed of.

Try to remember throughout the process that wedding planning should also be fun.  This is a happy time and a joyful occasion—make sure your attitude reflects that fact.  So in the course of looking at a variety of different roses to find the exact one that matches your wedding colors, don’t forget to take the time to smell them.

Start Your Wedding Planning Early
Wedding Consultants

They say the early bird catches the worm and the same is true for the early bride.  The farther ahead you begin wedding planning, the better.  Some crucial components necessary to make your day ideal will need to be booked a year or more in advance such as churches, reception facilities, caterers, photographers, bands, etc.  Advanced planning provides you with a better selection and oftentimes, better pricing.

Typical engagements range anywhere from six months to a year or longer.  Setting the timetable should take into account the time of year you plan to marry, while ensuring sufficient time is given for the necessary preparation and planning.  Desiring a summer wedding after a Valentine’s Day engagement may create unwanted stress, turning your dream day into a nightmare.

Get Organized
Organizational Supplies

Planning a wedding is not something that can be accomplished in a single night or weekend.  You will need to juggle wedding planning on the way home from work, during lunch breaks, weekends and in between every day life.  Multiple tasks will be happening at once so develop a system that will keep it all organized.

calendarFind the filing system that works for you.  Keeping everything organized and in the right place ensures no balls are dropped and planning remains on track.  An expensive filing system is not required. Simple filing folders, accordion folders, or three ringed binders with pockets work great in allowing for multiple sections and keeping information together.  Create a folder or section for each planning aspect to keep ideas, notes, supplier quotes, contracts, etc. housed in one place.

If you are more of a technology planner, using your laptop or computer can also aid in organizational needs.  Create various spreadsheets and agendas, which can track your progress and even alert you when certain tasks are required.  Using a spreadsheet to keep track of the budget is also a useful tool to help manage spending and ensure you do not exceed your limits. 
There are various tools around the web to help you stay organized and this section provides a few as well.

Wedding Checklist
Now that a is system in place to keep everything organized, begin creating a wedding checklist.  This will be a “to do” list reminder of everything you need for the big day.  It can serve as your main list or the start of your own, depending on the elements required.  Keep a notebook – preferably with pockets – to house your “to-do” list, allowing you to write notes, jot down ideas, create reminders, and track information on the list.  This will be helpful as you begin meeting with vendors to keep track of what you will want to ask them and record their answers.

Download the Wedding Checklist.

Wedding Timeline
As a companion to the wedding checklist, this section provides a timeline to help you stay on track and get everything done before the big day.

It provides a time breakdown of the tasks you will need to complete to ensure you have ample time to customize any look, avoid vendor rush charges and most important—provide enough time to enjoy the wedding planning experience.  The timeline is coordinated month by month to begin, then changes to weeks and days the closer it gets to the actual wedding.  There are a number of tasks you will be responsible for.  A guideline of this type can provide a welcomed relief from getting too overwhelmed.

Download the Wedding Timeline.

Determine The Wedding Budget
Financial Institutions

Money for the wedding can come from a variety of sources and is ultimately where the wedding planning begins.  The budget determines almost every aspect of the wedding and no wedding details should be finalized without it.  The number one mistake couples make is failing to stick to their budget.  Therefore, it is imperative that a realistic budget is determined and great efforts are made not to exceed it.

You and your fiancé will need to sit down and determine who will ultimately be paying for what.  Traditionally, it was the bride’s family that paid for a majority of the wedding but as times and financial roles have changed, more brides and grooms are shouldering a larger portion of their own wedding.  A more common practice today is to share expenses between the bride and groom’s families.  However, if tradition is something you are looking to follow or use as a guideline, the budget section provides a breakout of who traditionally pays for what.

Once you have determined the amount of money you can spend, allocate the budget proportionately for each aspect of planning.  This provides a guideline as to what you will spend for each element.  Again, tradition and experience can provide guidelines as to what percent of the budget each element of the wedding should represent.  Keep in mind however, these should be used as a guideline and depending on the items important to your overall wedding, you may want to shift percentages.  Be realistic.  You don’t want to over-allocate the flowers and then find you have to short change the photographer or the DJ.  Make sure to set the budget and review all planning elements prior to any purchasing.  Obtain quotes from various vendors prior to spending and then review them with the budget to make sure it is divided accurately.  See budget section for overall guideline breakdown.

Depending on the amount of time before the wedding, a few measures could be implemented to increase the overall amount you have to spend.  If you typically purchase coffee three times a week, cut back to only once a week and save the additional funding for the wedding.  It may seem small on its own, but saved over 20 to 30 weeks, the savings become significant.  This could cover the cost of shoes or other accessories.  If you go out to lunch three or four times a week, cut back to only one or two days and bring a sack lunch to work.  Again, the savings over time can really add up.  Perhaps you want to make a more significant impact. Consider taking a portion of each paycheck and placing it toward the wedding budget.  The more you can put away each week can really help to add elements to the wedding or allow for a higher quality vendor.  Again, it does not have to be a huge amount but added up over the months before the wedding it can represent a significant amount.

Determining The Wedding Date

This can actually be more difficult than one might think. Before deciding on the one date you’ll remember for the rest of your life, consider a few things. How much time is required to plan your ideal wedding? Do loved ones have any conflicting dates such as upcoming births, graduations, out of town travel, etc.? Is there only one ideal location, ideal band, or ideal caterer and do they have an existing booking on that day? Avoid any events happening locally that could make it challenging for guests to find hotels or rental cars.

Booking your wedding on holidays, weekends or other popular dates (such as 10/10/10 or 11/11/11) while trendy, could increase the overall cost of the wedding, as pricing for vendors and facilities increase on the most popular days or they may charge overtime rates. Loved ones and guests might have other holiday plans or have a hard time making travel reservations around the holidays.

If you look to plan the date around a religious or cultural holiday, be mindful of the beliefs of some of your guests, as well as a possibility that weddings may not be performed on that date. Some holidays could also be more costly than others. Finding the ideal roses or the quantity of roses you need for a Valentine’s Day wedding could become expensive, as well as trying to secure a venue on New Year’s Eve.

As you consider the above scenarios, remember that all wedding planning begins with choosing the date and nothing more can proceed until it is determined. Work with family, friends and "must have" vendors to find a date that works for everyone. Keep in mind that if budget is a concern, significant savings can be found in choosing a Friday evening or a day during the week, avoiding the popular Saturday and Sunday time frames. Consider holding the wedding earlier in the day, if Saturday or Sunday is your preference, and this will save the budget as well.

Choosing the Location
Wedding Banquet Halls & Reception Facilities, Wedding Chapels, Halls, Auditoriums & Ballrooms, Hotels, Restaurants, Churches, Country Clubs, Museums, Clubs, Theatres, Concert Halls, Resorts, Parks, Historical Landmarks

Once you have a date and budget, select the location of the ceremony and reception. Starting early is essential in securing the exact location you want for the wedding. Select a few options to choose from in case your first choice is booked, or you want to comparison shop.

Determine the priorities you have for the location and start to investigate a variety of venues. Each location will be different and choosing the right one can either add to the amount of additional planning, or significantly reduce it. Several locations such as hotels, event facilities, country clubs, etc., accommodate a large number of weddings each year. These locations provide a variety of services in-house which eliminate the need for a separate caterer, cake decorator, decorator, rental center, etc.

However, if you choose a unique location like an old movie theatre, a roof top ballroom, or your mother's backyard, you will need to start from scratch and hire a full list of vendors. Make sure the budget can accommodate this scenario or look for a more full service location to conserve budget. Requiring the service of several individual vendors will increase costs.

Contact each venue and discuss the options and amenities available. This will help narrow the search. Greater detail regarding specific needs and considerations for both the ceremony and the reception are found within their appropriate sections. Please refer to these sections for additional information.

Sharing Your Day

Choose your nearest friends and relatives to share in your special day.  This is a time to show your respect and admiration to those who mean the most to you by extending an offer to participate in the wedding.  Keep in mind however, that with the invitation, there is a financial and time commitment they are agreeing to as well.  Be thoughtful and respectful of their efforts and ensure they are included in your plans.  Make sure they know how much you appreciate them and be mindful that they enjoy the experience.

There are traditional roles and responsibilities of the wedding party to keep in mind, to ensure you can count on their support when required.  Below is a list of the traditional responsibilities for each member of the wedding party.  Depending on the level of formality for the wedding, you may not need to follow all rules or need all members of the party.

The Best Man

  • Helps to organize tuxedo fittings for himself and groomsmen
  • Responsible for payment of own wedding attire
  • Plans groom’s bachelor party
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Manages groomsmen on day of wedding
  • Ensures groom arrives to ceremony site on time
  • Helps groom dress and prepare for ceremony
  • Assists groom with ceremony and reception needs
  • Holds bride’s wedding ring
  • Performs the first toast during wedding reception
  • Invites others to make toasts
  • Ensures reception vendors receive payments
  • Organizes newlyweds’ departure from the reception
  • Serves as witness for the signing of the marriage license
  • Manages return of formal wear

Maid/Matron of Honor

  • Supports bride in shopping and choosing wedding attire
  • Assists bride in addressing envelopes and mailing invitations
  • Helps to organize fittings for herself and bridesmaids
  • Responsible for payment of own wedding attire
  • Organizes bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Manages bridesmaids on day of wedding
  • Assists bride with ceremony and reception needs
  • Holds groom’s wedding ring
  • Holds bridal bouquet during ring ceremony
  • Serves as witness for the signing of the marriage license
  • Manages activities at reception – bouquet toss, etc.
  • Assists bride in her departure from reception


  • Helps best man organize bachelor party
  • Responsible for payment of own wedding attire
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Lays down carpet runner for the aisle
  • Passes out programs and reception maps as
    guests arrive
  • Ushers guests to their seats at the ceremony
  • Ushers special guests to their seats at the
    ceremony (grandmothers of couple, groom’s mother, bride’s mother)
  • Escorts bridesmaids out of ceremony area at the completion of the ceremony
  • Gathers the wedding party for photographs
  • Greets guests as they arrive at the reception


  • Helps maid/matron of honor in any necessary tasks
  • Helps maid/matron of honor plan bridal shower and bachelorette party as asked
  • Responsible for payment of own wedding attire
  • Assists the bride in selection of the bridesmaid’s dress
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Assists in decoration of ceremony and/or reception as needed

Ring Bearer

  • Parents typically responsible for payment of wedding attire
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Arrives at ceremony on time and dressed
  • Walks down aisle carrying satin pillow with fake or real wedding rings, depending on the couples choice
  • Takes part in wedding pictures as specified by wedding couple

Flower Girl

  • Parents typically responsible for payment of wedding attire
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Arrives at ceremony on time and dressed
  • Walks down aisle carrying basket of flowers or flower petals
  • Releases flowers or petals as they walk down the aisle
  • Takes part in wedding pictures as specified by wedding couple

Mother of the Bride

  • Provides assistance in investigating possible reception sites
  • Assists bride in choosing wedding attire and accessories
  • Compiles list of guests and helps in sending out invitations
  • Helps bride plan wedding ceremony and reception
  • Chooses own dress, staying within style and colors outlined for the wedding - working closely with mother of the groom
  • Attends bridal shower and helps where needed
  • Organizes lodging for out of town guests of the bride
  • Attends rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Seated last before start of ceremony processional

Mother of the Groom

  • Supplies list of guest for the groom's side - staying within the number outlined by bride and groom
  • Offers assistance to mother of the bride or bride in any task
  • Chooses own attire, staying within style and colors outlined for the wedding - working closely with
    mother of the bride
  • Attends bridal shower and purchases gift for bride
  • Informs groom's side of the family regarding where couple is registered
  • Organizes lodging for out of town guests of the groom
  • Maintains RSVP counts for groom's side and offers to contact her side for any eleventh-hour responses
  • Plans and hosts rehearsal dinner along with groom's father

Establishing the Guest List

Determining the number of guests to invite is dependent on a number of factors.  Budget will play the biggest role in defining how large or small the list can be.  While it may be difficult to limit attendees based on budget, costs can quickly get out of control if more than only the necessary attendees are included.  You will also need to consider the venues you have chosen for the ceremony and reception.  Squeezing 250 people a small church could get crowded really quick.

Consider requests and lists from parents– especially if they are picking up a portion of the cost – and discuss the final number to ensure it is appropriate for the budget and venues.  If an equal division of the budget is provided by parents and the bride and groom, perhaps an equal three way division of the guest list should be considered as well.

Approaching the final number can happen one of two ways.  Either begin by deciding that the wedding of your dreams is more important, or including as many guests as possible is a higher priority.  If the former is preferred, the final count will be dictated by budget and location.  The quality of elements will come first when allocating the budget and what is remaining will tell you how many people you can afford to invite.  If the latter is more desired, the amount of wedding coordination will be determined by the budget remaining after accommodating the desired number of guests.

After determining the budget based on guests, determine how much will be left for flowers, bands, favors, decorations, etc.

As lists are compiled, you may need to trim based on budget constraints.  Compile two lists simultaneously.  The first list contains individuals who MUST be invited and the second contains individuals who you would LIKE to invite.  Once budget has been allocated to accommodate the first list, then as much of the second list as possible can be added.  This will make the process run smoother and eliminate hurt feelings.

As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t spoken to a potential guest in a number of years and you need to cut, they may be first on the chopping block.  The same could be true for friends of your parents.  Throughout their lifetime, they have no doubt come to know many people and they should work to keep the list trimmed to only those most important.

Consider whether it may be beneficial to eliminate some newer significant others from the list.  If a cousin who is single has only been dating her boyfriend for three weeks, do you really want to have him in the wedding pictures when you’re not sure how long they’ll be together?  Determine if relationships can survive this type of delicate discussion and if the savings are worth it in the end.

Selecting a Wedding Style

The style you choose for your wedding is a reflection of who you are as a couple.  Let your personalities shine!  Location choice will have the strongest impact on how bright your personalities can shine.  Weddings in a church or grand ballroom will inherently take on a more traditional feel, while things can be down to earth in a backyard or beach setting.  Determine, together, where you would like to have the wedding by considering where you currently live, where either of you grew up, or perhaps a destination wedding is more your style, then investigate which venue is most appropriate for your styles and personalities. 

Choosing Your Wedding Color Scheme
The colors you choose will play a large role in setting the mood and the romantic style of your wedding.  For some, the decision on colors may be easy and for others it may prove to be more difficult.  Perhaps you have always had a favorite color and everything you own is a shade of that color.  That could work out fine if the location and season of the year also align with that color.  If they clash however, it could be quite a mess.  For instance, what if your favorite color is royal blue but the hotel ballroom has velvet red carpet and gold chandeliers?  Or your favorite color is pale pink and you’ve chosen a fall or winter month to get married?

When choosing colors, it is critical to consider a few things before finalizing a color palette.  Luckily, some simple guidelines can aid your decision.

-Location:  Consider the location you are planning for the ceremony or reception.  What large or dramatic elements permanently exist that could affect the color palette?  A dominant color could help you choose your color palette or you will need to find a way to incorporate it into your existing palette.  Your location shouldn’t dictate your colors, but it shouldn’t compete with them either.  Most likely, the location should have some pictures that you could view to see how others have utilized the color palettes. This might provide some ideas.  If you really can’t work with it, but you love the location, consider covering it up.  There are a number of decorative elements you could use to hide what you don’t like.  Even carpet can be temporarily covered with another type of flooring.

-Seasonality:  The time of year of the wedding also has a strong effect on the ultimate color choice.  Traditionally, lighter and more pastel colors are used in the spring and summer, while the richer and darker hues are saved for the fall and winter seasons.

-Mood:  What type of mood are you looking for the celebration to create?  Are you hoping to create a more peaceful, contemporary mood, a traditional-romantic mood or a lively-energetic mood?  If a theme wedding is preferred, such as Medieval or Renaissance, this will also affect the color palette, as colors should be appropriate for the theme.

Once you have considered the above elements, focus on one or two primary colors as the palette foundation.  If you mix in too many dominate colors it will muddy the look, which will ultimately create chaos.  In addition to a single dominate color, adding three to five colors will provide complement and contrast to the final palette.

Perhaps you have already chosen the bridesmaids dress, or a favorite flower, that will ultimately determine the color scheme of the wedding and you are looking for a way to build around it.  Or if you haven’t chosen a palette and are in need of some inspiration, there are a variety of resources available for you to turn to.

Start by looking through bridal publications for ideas and examples.  Cut out and keep the photos that you liked the most, or that really caught your eye.  From these, you can start to create a mood theme that may uncover a dominate hue or mood that you are ultimately attracted to.

Round out the palette by turning to the standard color wheel or leveraging some online color palette generators.  Some tools create the palette by using a dominate color from the color wheel and then showing their complements.  Others allow you to upload an existing photograph to generate a palette based on the incorporated colors.  These are great tools that allow you to play with a variety of options and shades until you find the exact palette that is right for you.   Below are some sites to consider:

Palette Generators based on color:

Image based palette generators: 
-Big Huge Labs
-Color Hunter

Also, keep in mind that the final palette will need to be incorporated throughout the entire wedding; bridesmaids' dresses, tuxedo vests, flowers, cake, invitations, favors, etc.  While many wedding accessories come in a variety of colors, the dominate colors should be something that can easily be matched.  Don’t order dresses until you know they are available in the appropriate shade. 

Ultimately, the final wedding colors should be your choice and based on what you love.  These colors will be infused throughout the entire event and allow you to leave a lasting impression on every element of the wedding.

Announcing Your Engagement
Invitations & Announcements

Shortly after slipping that ring on your finger, you will want to announce it to everyone you know.  The first priority should be those who mean the most in your life – immediate family – and you will want to tell them in person.  After that, any immediate family not living close should be called on the phone.  Close friends and possible attendants should then be notified.  A photograph should also be sent or taken down to your local newspaper to have them run your engagement notice.

Throwing an Engagement Party:  Traditionally, it is the bride’s parents that offer to host an engagement party.  However, the groom’s parents can choose to throw a party of their own, or both parents can work together to plan the event.  Whoever decides to host, engagement parties provide an opportunity for those closest to the couple to celebrate the event and for both sides of the family to get to know each other.  This party can be as formal or informal as the host decides.  They should consider the anticipated style of the wedding and make sure they do not compete with the blessed event.

The party should reflect the couple's personality and play off special events in their lives.  For instance, if their first date was over sushi, plan the party at their favorite sushi bar or host a backyard dinner and hire a sushi chef.  Or, if sailing is their favorite activity together, host the party near or on the water.  The opportunities are endless but the style and theme of the party should be entirely different from the wedding itself.

Engagement Announcements:  If a large majority of your friends and relatives a distance away, or you want to add a special touch to your engagement, formal announcements can be sent out.  These announcements can be simple, yet elegant.  It is a great way to highlight the couple, while providing advance notice for those who may want to travel out for the wedding.  Today’s bride is opting to send out creative “save the date” announcements that can be a single piece of heavy paper, a magnet, a postcard, designed like a passport or on a specific object like a writing pen or paper weight.  These are fun ways to highlight the date and ensure they keep it around as a constant reminder.

Enlisting Help

Because your wedding day will be one on a short list of the most important events in your life, it is crucial it be as perfect as possible.  The number of wedding planning tasks could cause you to become overwhelmed.  Luckily, a number of resources are available to ensure the day is everything you dreamed.

Bridal Magazines:  If looking for ideas or the latest trends on colors, flowers, cakes, wedding attire, hairstyles, etc., bridal magazines are an excellent resource.  There are a number available that serve as a great source for ideas and help determine the ideal style for the wedding.

Internet:  The online world also provides a number of websites and tools to help plan your wedding.  Along with those available on this site, there are a number of downloadable tools and information on any wedding topic.  These provide excellent resources to discover how other brides have planned their weddings and learn from their experiences.  Some sites also offer the ability to chat with other brides to ask questions and receive advice.  The Valley Yellow Pages Online is an excellent one-stop resource for putting you in contact with the top vendors available in your area.  This site is designed to help make your special day the best it can be and provide instant access to service providers who are ready to help you.  These are all local vendors located right in your neighborhood. Through their extensive experience planning weddings, they can provide the services you need to make your dream day a reality.

Friends and Family:  There are key people you rely on at critical moments and now is the time to get them engaged.  Those close to you will be more than willing to help to take some of the stress off the planning.  Choose those who will truly support your vision and not bog down the process offering too many ideas and opinions of their own.

Remember this is your day and your dream.  They are there to help make it happen.  Talk to married friends and ask what they did.  What went well?  What would they have done different?  Which vendors were great to work with?  What do they wish they had known?  Inquiring as much as you can will be a valuable resource in avoiding mistakes.

Bridal Shows:  Take advantage of great ideas and inspiration that can be found at local bridal shows.  There will be several aisles of vendors illustrating their unique offerings and services.  This is one of the only times that vendors will be together in the same location. Take good notes and make sure to wear comfortable shoes.  Additional information can be found in our section entitled bridal shows.

Choosing Quality Vendors

Selecting the right vendor will require patience and research.  There are a number to choose from and doing homework will ensure the vendor selected is best for you.  You may be tempted to evaluate vendors based on budget, but don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of the budget.  While it is important, you will find that you can have both.  Obtaining quotes from a number of vendors will increase the chances of finding the perfect vendor within your budget, at the quality standard you desire.  Also, you can cut back slightly on the amount purchased from a quality vendor to conserve cost.  In the long run, it is better to sacrifice a little quantity for optimal quality. 

Schedule appointments with vendors and take the time to sit down with them and ask a variety of questions.  Use these appointments to find vendors who really know their business and have the expertise you are looking for.  Seek out people who show a genuine interest and take the time to listen and work with customers.  Many businesses have several people on staff.  Specifically ask for the person who will be working on your wedding and work with them directly.  Ask to see samples of their work to ensure you are comfortable with their particular skills.  What brought you to this vendor could have been the work of someone else in the shop and you’ll want to avoid discovering this before it is too late.

When you’ve found the right vendor, make sure you get everything in writing and secure it with a contract.  Completely read the contract and go back to the vendor with any questions.  The contract should include all information, in detail, that will be critical for your day.  Ensure that dates, times, locations, costs, detailed services required and names of those doing the work are all included.  It is wise to include a maximum spending level to avoid any unexpected overages.  Review their refund policy and include protection should the vendor not fulfill their original agreement.  The more you secure up front, the more protection you will have and ensure budget is not wasted.  Keep all contracts in folders so you can reference them often or go back and make changes, if necessary.

Each section on this site breaks down the specifics you should look for when choosing a particular service provider.  The sections also provide links to online yellow pages headings to find the vendor that's right for you and who can help make your day a success.


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