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After getting engaged, many couples are eager to begin their wedding planning process. We are always asked about the invitation process and when they should be sent out and returned. We put together a little timeline of when you should send invitations for and leading up to the wedding.

Photo by Lindsey Morgan Photography


These should be sent out once you’ve found a venue, picked a date, and finalized a guest list. It will let your guests know as early as possible where and when your wedding will be.

You want to ensure your guest list is finalized before sending these out because, ideally, these will be sent to everyone invited to the wedding. Many couples are opting for alternative methods for save-the-dates.

  • Post Cards versus traditional save-the-dates in an envelope will save you money on stamps.

  • Social media announcements if you have a quick turnaround time and don’t have enough time between sending our save-the-dates and invitations. You can post a photo of you and your significant other and say can’t wait until x date.

  • Word of mouth is helpful if you plan on having a small gathering and can tell everyone what the date is ahead of time.

Engagement Party/Bridal Shower/Etc

The host should send these invitations 4-6 weeks before the event. Traditionally, the engagement party is thrown by the bride’s family but can be thrown by friends, family friends, or even the groom’s family. Traditionally the maid of honor will throw the bridal shower, with the help of other bridesmaids or family. Any other event leading up to the wedding, with the exception of the rehearsal dinner, should follow the same rule.

Wedding Invitations

Wedding invitations are typically sent out 3-4 months prior to the day. If this time period falls around the holidays you can send them a bit earlier to ensure they don’t get lost or are delivered late. In your invitation, you will typically include an insert that has information like hotel blocks, venue directions, and where you’re registered. You typically also include a pre-stamped response card.

Expert tip: make sure to mark the response cards with an invisible ink marker just in case your guest forgets to mark who it’s from. You can even opt to skip this step altogether and include a QR code directly to the RSVP section on your wedding website. This will save on postage, and you may gather responses quicker. You can also opt to exclude some info on the response card because you typically include a lot of that information on your wedding website. However, you may want to still send response cards to older guests.

RSVPs should typically be due back a month before your date. This will allow guests enough time to see if they will be able to make it, and will also give you enough time to follow up with anyone who doesn’t reply. You will typically get responses from some quickly after sending out your invitations. Then it will taper off with some coming in slowly in the weeks after sending out your invitation. You may get an influx closer to your date, but there are some guests who will not respond at all. You will have to reach out to them. You don’t want to assume they will not be in attendance and end up showing up unannounced. About 2 weeks before your wedding date your vendors will ask for your final guest count.

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal dinner invitations are typically sent out by the groom’s family and should be sent to everyone who will be walking down the aisle as well as their dates. These are usually sent out 2 months before the wedding. Some families opt to invite out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner, or you can host a welcome party to greet your out-of-town guests.

The etiquette behind invitations can be tedious and confusing, but we hope this shed some light on when you should be sending out invitations and asking for responses.

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Weddings are expensive. We came up with a few tips to help you have the wedding of your dreams without going into debt.

Photo by Robyn Pizzo Photography

Weddings can be expensive, we definitely understand that. Your wedding will probably be the biggest party you’ve ever hosted. You want to throw the most memorable party, but also not go into debt during the process. We highly recommend keeping your budget in check using a shared spreadsheet to prepare for unexpected costs and ensure you can make meaningful cuts in the event you do.

Step 1: Determine Your Bottom Dollar

Take into account all the places you will get the money from:

1. You and/or your fiancé’s individual savings

Take a look at your separate savings and decide how much you can put toward the wedding. This does not mean using ALL your savings toward the wedding. You will still need an emergency fund for possible unexpected expenses that may arise (not wedding-related) in the future. You want to always be prepared.

2. Amounts you can save from your current income

After calculating all your expenses month-to-month, see if you have any wiggle room or any money you can contribute to your wedding savings throughout your engagement period. Many couples will opt to have a longer engagement period so they have more time to contribute to their wedding fund, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and is even smart in most cases.

3. Contributions from parents or other loved ones

Never assume parents or loved ones are willing and able to help cover the cost of a wedding, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Your parents may even have been saving up themselves to assist with wedding-related costs.

Step 2: Track Your Spending With a Spreadsheet

Creating a wedding expense spreadsheet is easier than ever, and there are even several free downloadable templates you can use from Pinterest or other parts of the internet.

First determine each spending category you will encounter: venue, planner, decor, floral, catering, cake, etc. Then create a budgeted, modified, and actual column. The budgeted column will be what you are expecting to spend based on your research. The modified column your adjustments after receiving vendor estimates, and the actual will be what you will actually spend (you probably won’t be able to determine this amount until closer to your day when you have a better idea of your guest count).

Your venue will typically be the biggest expense, and a major factor in determining your guest count. Don’t forget to add a line for other expenses that you may forget during the planning process. This gives you an extra cushion to cover those unexpected expenses.

Pro Tip: Make sure your estimates from vendors include tax where applicable. Also, add a column for the estimated gratuity. SOME catering vendors will include the gratuity, while others do not. It is always a good idea to double-check whether this is already included in your total or not.

Step 3: Keep Your Guest Count in Check

Your guest count will ALWAYS drive your total spent on your wedding. It is helpful to create a first draft of a wedding guest list to determine if that amount of people is affordable. You can always make cuts where needed, and you certainly don’t have to invite everyone you have ever known to your wedding. Instead, focus on those people who are involved in your lives right now, and who you see being a part of your lives in the future.

More guests equal more space, more decor, more food, more desserts, and the list goes on and on. Additionally, there will sometimes be an uncharge for an additional amount of people. We also don’t recommend coming up with an A list and a B list. It is much easier (and hurts fewer feelings) when there is one solid list.

Step 4: Hire an Experienced Event Planner

A wedding planner is not always the perfect fit for everyone but can be very useful when finding ways to save you money. During our first meeting, we will typically ask if there is a certain budget you are looking to stay within so we can help keep you on the right track. We deal with the same local vendors month after month, we know the prices of things and can negotiate prices for you. We can also offer you options, or great alternatives if your ideas end up going over budget.

We not only save you time, but we save you money as well. Let us do all the research for you and deliver a report back with pricing and availability. We can help you save money by using fewer vendors, but getting the same result you want. For example, most caters will charge a cake-cutting fee. We will cut your cake at no additional fee. By using Bluegrass Event Planning, specifically, we can cut your costs on floral. We offer fresh floral at great prices by sourcing our floral from local wholesale vendors. You’d be surprised at how cost-efficient fresh floral is versus silk floral. We can also help you keep your budget in check.

Find Ways to Save

Over budget? Here are some ways to decrease your spending, but still make a positive impact.

Think about your venue: finding raw spaces like barns and backyards may seem like a steal, but you end up spending a lot to make them beautiful. Consider everything included in the wedding package, and think about things you may need to bring in (like tables, chairs, tents, decor, linens, etc). These expenses can add up quickly.

Go outside of peak season: some venues have a flat cost throughout the year, while others have peak-season or day pricing. Consider having a wedding outside of peak wedding season, or even having a Friday or Sunday wedding. This can make your wedding more unique to you all, and you can even incorporate fun ideas (like having brunch at your wedding on a Sunday afternoon!).

Host the ceremony and reception in the same place: depending on where you hold your ceremony and reception this can save you on transportation costs. Also, some of your ceremony decor could double as reception decor since it would make a seamless transition to move your pieces from one area to the next. You could also save on venue costs if you have to pay for your ceremony venue and reception venue.

Use a DJ instead of a band: Many brides are very decisive about whether they want to use a DJ or a band. You know your crowd better than anyone, and you can decide if a band is important to you and your guests. Bands do tend to be significantly more expensive than a DJ, and if they are from a different city will charge travel fees, and sometimes even lodging fees depending on how far they have to travel. If you insist on having a band, consider using a local one.

Order and address all your own paper items: Using local vendors is definitely ideal, but can be costly. Technology (like Canva) allows you to design your own invitations to send for print. Also, websites like run awesome monthly sales (like 50% off invitations) where you can customize and use their templates. Addressing your own invitations also can save you a ton of money. A Calligrapher is expensive because addressing invitations is so time-consuming. Consider addressing your own invitations, or find a website (like Zazzle) that will allow you to print your guests’ addresses right on the envelope.

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Finding your wedding aesthetic early on is important because it drives your day's overall look and feel. It also helps your planner flawlessly design the wedding day of your dreams.

Photo by Lily Miller Photography

So you just got engaged, and you’ve already hashed out the engagement details with your friends and family. I’m sure you’re ready to get planning. One of the first things you’ll want to explore is your wedding aesthetic. This will drive the overall look and feel of your wedding.

If you’re anything like us, looking back at your wedding Pinterest board is super cringy. Trying to go through years of wedding inspiration can be overwhelming. A few examples of common wedding aesthetics are modern, classic, and bohemian. Even further, selecting colors and an overall style can help planners (like us) create a perfectly designed event that captures your vision.

Maybe you already have an idea of what your aesthetic will be, and if so you’re ahead of the game. If not, don’t worry, we put together a couple of tips to help you find the perfect aesthetic for you.

1. Ditch your trusty old wedding Pinterest board, and start fresh.

If you’ve been posting on that board for years, chances are those aesthetics are not at all what you’re looking for now, years later. Creating a new board allows you to drop all your current ideas in one concise location, and Pinterest even now allows you to create sub-boards so you could organize your pins within your wedding board (e.g. bouquets, reception decor, ceremony decor, etc.). There are tons of ways to search for your desired aesthetic, and no shortage of ideas. The good thing about Pinterest is their algorithm will adjust to your likes and will start showing you more pins related to the aesthetic you like thus making it easier than ever to find inspiration.

2. Browse real weddings

There are tons of blogs and social media accounts that feature real wedding photos. Many times one of the easiest ways to find your aesthetic is to look at real weddings. If you live in our area, there are quite a few places to pick up wedding inspiration — Kentucky Bride Magazine and Kentucky Bride Blog. Using another couple’s big day can inspire you while planning for your big day.

3. Understand your preferences

Weddings come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your wedding. While real weddings and Pinterest ideas can help with finding your wedding aesthetic you by no means have to do everything you see. Mix it up a bit. Take note of what you like and don’t like about each wedding to get a feel for your preferences. Use your home decor for inspiration to get a feel for your general aesthetic. Maybe you like loud prints, bright colors, or even neutrals or greenery. Gaining inspiration from things you already like can be really helpful.

4. Turn to TikTok

TikTok contains endless tips, tricks, and style inspiration. Wedding TikTok is truly an asset while wedding planning. Not only do previous and current brides provide you with awesome tips and tricks to help you during the planning process, but many will show you style ideas of what they did or are planning to do, and how to achieve that look. We have many brides show us videos they have found, and asked if it is possible to recreate what they saw. It absolutely is possible, and we can even put a spin on it to make the idea uniquely yours. TikTok is also the perfect place to find the upcoming wedding trends and colors of the year if you would like to base your decision on that.

5. Consider your venue

If you have already selected your venue, instead of spending money and time trying to make the venue into something it isn't try playing off some of the features it already has. Maybe you are getting married in an ultra-modern space or more of a rustic barn. These work hand-in-hand while picking your aesthetic, and can provide ample inspiration. Take note of the existing decor within your venue as well as the space surrounding your venue. If you are still on the hunt for a venue, keep your aesthetic in mind while trying to find a space. Your venue is the foundation that your aesthetic is built on.

6. Look at the seasons

If worse comes to worst and you are having a really hard time deciding your wedding aesthetic consider the seasons. Lean into the season you want to get married in. For example, many spring weddings are bright and colorful with all the spring flowers coming into bloom, while fall brings warmer-toned colors when the weather starts to turn cooler. White floral and greenery are always a timeless classic and acceptable any time of the year.

Finding your wedding day aesthetic is one of the fun parts of wedding planning. Enjoy it while it lasts!

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