Expert Wedding Planning Tips – from Your Invitations to the Menu

Learn inside tips and trends for your big day from some of the nation's top wedding professionals.

From the invitations, to keeping track of RSVPs, to the ceremony décor, as well as adorning your reception with beautiful and personalized elements, your checklist is full of to-dos from the moment you start planning. Get tips here.

wedding reception head table flower print vinyl on lacquer head table candles hydrangea orchid
Photo: Jacqui Cole Photography

As you're planning the details of your wedding day, you've likely realized that there is a lot to consider. From the invitations, to keeping track of RSVPs, to the ceremony décor, as well as adorning your reception with beautiful and personalized elements, your checklist is full of to-dos from the moment you start planning. If you're hiring a wedding planner, they will certainly be able to help you keep everything organized. However, whether or not you have a team of professionals by your side, we've compiled some advice from top planners, invitationers, photographers, and more to share their insider tips with you.

Take a look at expert tips and tricks from some of our Editors Circle members below: 

"Invitations are often the first opportunity for a couple to show off their style to their guests. Branding your celebration is the most exciting trend in weddings and we are finding all kinds of ways to do it! Of course, we love to design unique monograms for our couples, but my favorite way to brand an event is to paint a one-of-a-kind watercolor that captures the happy couple's vibe for their new life together. Lately, we have been elevating these watercolors with holographic foils and printing on acrylic." - Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York

Ceci New York custom illustration for wedding couple branding

Photo courtesy of Ceci New York

"Inevitably someone will forget to write their name and meal selection on the RSVP card. Avoid playing detective by using this clever trick. Before sending out your invitations, buy an invisible ink pen and write the initials of the recipient on the back of each card. Then, when you receive a response from a mystery guest, use the black light tool to see their initials." - Tessa Brand of Tessa Lyn Events

"If you're opting to have a 'first look,' bring your groom's wedding band with you. After the initial greeting, slip the ring on his finger for the remainder of the photo session. Even though you're not 'technically' married, this small little detail will make an impact on the final result as most of your posed portraits together will be taken at this time." - Amy Anaiz of Amy Anaiz Photography

"Aisle runners in dramatic dark fabrics with bold metallic designs are becoming very popular. Our brides love to see their gorgeous white gowns pop against the dark runner and, of course, they are perfect for disguising busy ballroom carpets. Grounding the ceremony décor with a dark aisle runner also allows for fantastic florals and colorful event lighting to take center stage – not to mention the lovely dramatic contrast seen in photos!" - Julie Goldman of The Original Runner Company

Dark aisle runner at ceremony from The Original Runner Company

Photo by Peardon Carrillo; Aisle Runner by The Original Runner Company

"Add a cheerful element to an elegantly designed spring or summer affair by incorporating a floral print. Subtly carry the pattern throughout a few different details of your wedding design, such as envelope liners or flowers on your wedding cake. Be sure to balance busy prints with simple surroundings, clean lines, and neutral tones to uphold a timeless overall wedding-day scheme." - Callista Osborn of Callista & Company

"Before your guests are invited into the dinner area, take a few minutes to take a spin on the dance floor to practice your first dance with your new spouse. You probably haven't practiced in your wedding-day attire, and this will ease any nerves you might have!" - Hope Weis of Hope Weis Consulting

"Give your guests an experience by inviting them to participate in the little details of the evening, such as a deconstructed menu item. Example: gazpacho soup served with a 'menu' of instructions on how to create and enjoy the first course. We find our clients are moving away from the traditional served meal, to include action stations and other experiential elements in their food and beverage selections." - Kaitlyn Hostetler for Evoke Design & Creative

Wedding menu ideas deconstructed menu item wedding tips

Photo by Abby Jiu Photography; Menu Design by Emily Baird; Planning & Design by Evoke Design & Creative

"Flower walls: we have loved them for the last few years, and we love saying goodbye to them in 2018! Our couples are turning their attention back toward incredibly detailed tabletop designs to pack the most punch. From unique candle displays to over-the-top statement centerpieces, turning the focus to where guests spend the majority of their evening is the best way to maximize your budget. When there is a little extra room in the floral spend, we love creating custom stage backdrops, as the band is the focal point of the room – besides the bride and groom, of course! Setting the stage with abundant falling flowers or incredibly adorned drapery are some of our favorite looks this year." - Brooke Osborn for The Hidden Garden

And lastly, if you'll be providing your guests with welcome bags, here's a handy checklist from Jordan Payne of Jordan Payne Events and The Welcome Bag Committee:
1. Select products that represent you and your fiancé!
2. Coordinate products with your color palette.
3. Opt for a foundation piece like a bag or box, items that are both sweet and salty, bath and body products, and a fun item such as a customized tumbler.
4. Hire a company that has a reputable background in design, so the end result are bags which are custom, creative, and unique.

The Welcome Bag Committee wedding welcome bag ideas tips

Photo courtesy of The Welcome Bag Committee

For more expert advice, discover what to do once you get engaged, read more planning tips from top wedding professionals, and view the most popular real weddings of 2018.