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‘Ring’ In The New Year With Our Wedding Planning Timeline

couple holding hands during beach proposal - engagement in Charleston, SC

Did You 'Ring' In The New Year?

We've Got You Covered With Everything That Comes Next

So you liked it, put a ring on it, but now you’re stressed because yes you really do need to start planning wedding details this far in advance… Let us help you with some pro tips from experienced catering planners so you can properly compartmentalize your anxiety for the next year+.

Dreaming Is A Form Of Planning

The moment you say ‘Yes,’ the planning begins even though for many of you out there the planning began years ago when you first started dreaming of your wedding day. Now is your chance to get it right and make sure everything is up to your standards. First big decision, who do you share that dream with? No, we don’t just mean your fiance, although they better be an equal partner in planning to form a strong foundation for the rest of your lives… we mean an actual wedding planner. You need to decide on the level of planning assistance you want – whether it’s full service or month-of coordination, booking a planner early on can be a game-changer. 

If you opt for a planner from start-to-finish, they’ll help you navigate everything and keep you on track, but the first big decision with a planner or not is always going to be your venue and ceremony sites. Can’t have the big day of your dreams if it isn’t in the right location or there’s no availability on the exact day you want. So lock in your venue early because your next big decision, catering, will require you to know a date and venue before you can book them. 

Quick Aside On Destination Weddings
If you’re considering a destination wedding, narrow down your choices to one or two locations. As former Yankee great Yogi Berra said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” In other words, the world may be your oyster when it comes to dreaming of your wedding, but reality may dictate that you can’t actually have it at the Sistine Chapel after all. Remember to research costs thoroughly as the price of catering, venues, bar services, and lodging will vary dramatically from location to location and season to season. Focus your inquiries on a select few locations to make informed decisions about your dream destination wedding. If you’re lucky enough to be a Lowcountry local, we strongly suggest sticking with a Charleston wedding. The city has earned its regular ranking among the top destination wedding locations.

12 months Out:

“No Man Can Be Wise On An Empty Stomach” - George Eliot

Want to keep your future spouse engaged in the planning process? The way to their heart just might be through their stomach (if they’re anything like ours). Research caterers and bar services well in advance of your date to say “I Do” as availability starts filling up 12 months out. It becomes almost impossible to book a caterer aligned with your vision and budget less than 6-months out, so don’t wait to complete this crucial step. To help reduce decision fatigue, if you work with a caterer who offers bar services in addition to food, you can streamline logistical steps of the planning process and realize some financial benefits to boot.

Another benefit of contracting with your local caterer early is food is one of the highest ticket and most important parts of any wedding so they’ve likely gotten time and attention from your venue team before, coordinated shared photo shoots with area photographers and florists, and can provide recommendations to compliment the perspective of your planner or supplement your own research into all those areas.

6 Months Out:

Time To Taste

Schedule your tasting 6 months out. We know it sounds further out than you might have thought necessary, but a majority of tastings are done in the off-season for the following wedding season. We can’t put the necessary love into prepping your tasting if we have to prioritize someone else’s wedding that same day. For that reason we strongly suggest you plan tastings for weekdays in Jan/Feb/March for weddings happening anytime June through December. Once you get a taste of everything and finalize the menu selections + craft cocktails or mocktails, it’s important to coordinate your rental selections with your food choices, floral arrangements and other decor. Your goal is to curate a tablescape that complements your menu. You never want it to feel like all your decisions were made in a vacuum.

3 Months Out:

Plan To Take A Break You Earned It

Get your maid of honor, best man, sister, mother, whoever you trust to plan and schedule your bridal shower and bachelorette/bachelor parties. While they’re planning those fun aspects you can focus on enjoying them, knowing there’s only a few more big decisions you have to make.

One such decision is the rehearsal dinner. Discuss the rehearsal plan with your planner and venue, and don’t forget to schedule the rehearsal dinner – your caterer can help handle this too. With proper preparation you can even compliment your wedding menu selections to set the stage for the big day from a culinary perspective. Similar to grouping bar services with catering planning, having your rehearsal dinner done by your caterer gives you one less decision to make and can offer some logistical and financial efficiencies.

2 Months Out:

Formal Invitations and Finalizing Menus

Send out your wedding invites, ensuring they include areas for guests to note allergies and indicate meal selections for plated dinners. If you want to avoid hearing from your great aunt that she wanted the fish not the chicken, make sure to capture all the necessary details in the RSVPs and get them back soon enough to coordinate with your caterer and move another step closer to finalizing your menu.

1 Month Out:

Crossing the T's and Dotting the I's

This is your final, final menu selection prompt. Confirm meal requirements based on RSVPs and compile a list of vendors for all your wedding services so the caterer knows who they’ll be working with. This process helps keep your special day from going off the rails when your focus will be on enjoying the day and your planner will be running around handling all the other day-of needs that arise.

14 Days Out:

Triple Check The Menu Selections

We lied, one more prompt to finalize the menu because it is that important. Finalize guest counts should be in by 14 days out, yes there will inevitably be someone who no shows or brings a plus one, your caterer can help you plan for these contingencies, but you have to make sure the details you got on RSVPs in terms of allergies and meal preferences are correctly counted and communicated to begin with. Share these same details with other vendors, so they can make the necessary adjustments as well.

7 Days Out:

Wrapping Up the Details

Ensure that all payments and details are wrapped up, allowing you a week of relative calm before the storm. Okay maybe storm is a bad choice of words because despite it being “good luck” nobody plans for rain on their wedding day. As they say though, plans are nothing; planning is everything. That’s why way back in the venue selection and choosing your caterer process 12 months or more ago, you talked to them about inclement weather contingency plans. You did do that right? 14 days out is too close to make those calls. Don’t add unnecessary stress trying to make last minute arrangements.

The Big Day:

Savoring Every Second

Enjoy every moment of your big day. You’ve selected the right team to make it perfect – from venue to catering, everything will fall into place. If it doesn’t line up perfectly with how you always dreamed it, those dreams will soon be replaced with memories of one of the happiest days of your life and stories you and your partner will laugh about years later (like when the DJ accidentally played “Get Low” as bridesmaids were walking down the aisle… be sure to ask our marketing manager Laurel about that one).

Be Crazy In Love, Not Crazy From Planning

Armed with this detailed timeline of planning pro tips and catering insider knowledge from the R&R team, you’re ready to commence your wedding planning journey. When they say love hurts, we’re not positive they were referring to the full gamut of wedding planning details, but they should have been… At least now you know the real work it’s gonna take to put Love On Top.

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