Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Media: Distinctive Occasions Interviewed for Buffalo Brides Magazine

We were pleased to be asked to contribute to a recent article on wedding planning in Buffalo Brides Magazine - here is the article!

The wedding planning puzzle

Fitting the pieces together to create your perfect day

By Erin Morris
Wedding Planner BuffaloPlanning a wedding is no easy feat. The joy of being newly engaged can be soon eclipsed by dread as you realize the
enormous task before you. A plan of action makes the process easier, but with so many details to handle and so many decisions to make, the challenge is knowing where to begin.
It’s the age-old “what comes first” question.  Is it setting the date? Creating the guest list? Choosing your venue? Or establishing your budget?
Local wedding planner Dawn Schregel, owner of Distinctive Occasions LLC in Amherst, suggests starting with the big picture and working your way down to the details.
First, establish your overall “vision.”
“Discuss the style and feel, what you’re looking to get out of the day and what aspects are most important to you,” said Schregel. 
Your vision will include things like whether you see it as a day or evening celebration; whether you want something large and festive or small and intimate; and the level of formality (casual beach wedding or black-tie dinner)?
Once you’ve established the overall feel, Schregel said that budgeting is the next step.
Newlywed Christina Warren of Tonawanda agrees. “The budget definitely puts things into perspective for any couple planning a wedding,” she said. “You can narrow down what seems like an endless amount of choices to a few that are manageable.”
It may not seem romantic, but creating a budget will ensure that you start off on the right foot financially.
“You really need to know where the funds are coming from, who will pay for what, the division of expenses,” said Schregel.  “That’s something you want to figure out before you start thinking about how many guests you’re going to have, or going to visit venues.”
Once you know what you have to work with, the next step is setting your priorities.
“I sometimes tell couples to make a list of non-negotiables,“ said Schregel. Discuss what elements of the wedding are most important to you. For some couples, it’s the music – they wouldn’t dream of getting married without their favorite 10-piece band.  For others it’s a certain restaurant or menu.
Then – if your heart is set on serving surf-and-turf and top-shelf liquor – you can start making adjustments to accommodate your budget, like forgoing the designer gown or high-profile photographer.
“In the planning stages it is very easy to get carried away with all of the excitement,” said Warren. By setting a budget up front, “you will be able to figure out what you are willing or able to spend, and what accommodations or changes you need to make [in order] to have your dream wedding.”
Establishing a budget early on will also help you make other big decisions – like how many guests you’ll invite. For most couples, food and beverage costs are the largest single wedding expense – so the more guests you invite, the greater your costs.  The size of your guest list will also help you narrow down your venue choices. If you decide on 300 guests, for instance, you’ve ruled out a lot of possibilities right off the bat. 
It’s at this point when you’ll want to start considering the date.  If you lock it in too early, keep in mind that you may lose out on the ceremony site or reception location you want.
And remember to always keep Plan B in mind.
“Usually things don’t go terribly wrong,” said Schregel, “but sometimes dates are already booked, venues close or vendors go out of business, these things happen.”
Don’t “throw away all of your research once the big decisions are made,” added Warren. “You never know what will happen.”
There is no right or wrong way to plan a wedding, but oftentimes, when certain decisions are made before others, plans can go awry.
Sometimes brides and grooms “get a little bit ahead of themselves,” said Schregel. “Booking vendors before you set a budget, choosing a date before finalizing a location, doing things like that can make the planning more difficult than it needs to be.“
No matter what roadblocks you may hit or how stressful the planning process may seem, the most important thing is to not get overwhelmed. Once the big decisions are made, everything else will fall into place.
Above all, Schregel advises to “make it fun. It’s all about you as a couple. Keep in perspective what this day is, it’s your wedding and should be all about the celebration of you as a couple. If you take it slowly and don’t stress about the little things, the planning will be much more enjoyable.”