Weddings by Edward Reagoso, General Manager – The Wilshire Grand Hotel, West Orange, NJ
In an effort to help the many lucky (yes, I said lucky) people considering have a wedding celebration, I think the two most important elements of a successful wedding are the executing of a planning process and knowing your budget. There are a plethora of vendors eager to assist the future bride & groom but planning for a wedding taking place in eighteen months vs. a wedding in six months are two very different timelines, each with its own peculiar anomalies. Rather than writing an article from a typical “buyer beware” perspective, I am writing from my years of hotel career experience, as well as my own personal experience.
Today so much wedding information is available on the internet it’s intoxicating but it’s a great place to start and ultimately, even end up. Rather than be guided and have others suggest what you want or need for your day, make a list, two columns. Do this with your future spouse and list the things you want and the things you need to have for your wedding. Once you two have agreed on these basic and sometimes costly details, you now have a general idea on how you want your day to go. How much do you want to spend? Do you need a wedding planner? Will you have a live band? How many invitations? Will the service be at a church, synagogue, or would you like to have the service at the location you’ve decided on for your reception? Include even small details on this list so your sweetheart feels that all your hopes and wishes are out in the open and clear. Don’t worry. This list will change as you move forward. Be a bit flexible with each other, but it’s your day and for the purpose of the first list the sky is the limit. You will probably come back to reality when the list becomes a bit pie-in-the-sky, but depending on your budget, maybe not. Share your wishes with each other now so there are no surprises later. Surprises during the wedding process are never good in my opinion.
Oh, and don’t do what I did! I gave my wife less than two months’ notice of the date I wanted. It was over a Labor Day Monday when the hotel I was managing at the time was very slow. Being in the business, it is not often I get time off or have slow business periods. It is somewhat typical that one in my industry chooses a holiday for their wedding. We did it and we pulled it off, mostly because my wife is a terrifically forgiving. On the bright side we had a great time with our family and friends at a price much less than one might have paid for another weekend that season. This falls under the bonus of having your wedding on what we call a low demand period. That wasn’t a goal. It was a nice side benefit however and many of these holiday periods remain a buyers’ market today simply because hotels and catering houses will reduce pricing to hold events during their slower periods. On the down side, I am sometimes reminded how I did not give my wife enough time to properly plan a wedding…p.s. She’s right! wedding ( I guess this is a good time to mention the day I gave her the date, she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and UPS went on strike two days after she ordered her dress.)
I suggest anyone planning a wedding develop a timeline. Some great examples are found for free online, but don’t forget, these timelines are suggestions. You can tailor these timelines to fit your needs.
Start considering things such as budget, family, friends, music, food and a celebration worthy of your goals. Use sites such as MarthaStewartWeddings.com, Frugalbride.com, and TheKnot.com, which I personally feel is one of the best because it includes everything that one must consider including some fun extras such as developing your own inexpensive wedding website! These sites each offer great wedding planning guides and more and can be truly helpful during the process.
I will offer just a few basic do’s and don’ts but I will start with Don’ts:
- Don’t plan your wedding without your future spouse
- Don’t plan for what others want
- Don’t forget to buy each other a wedding gift
- Don’t forget to reserve a block of rooms for family, friends and out of town guests
- Do begin the planning process immediately regardless of the window of time
- Do create your own time schedule for tasks that must be done
- Do shop around
- Do enjoy the day when it finally comes, it goes really fast!
While shopping, be on the lookout for full service facilities that offer more than just a place for your ceremony and reception. There’s nothing like being shuffled out of a catering center and off property when the party’s over! I suggest choosing a venue with ample free parking, plenty of banquet space, experienced chefs, and sales staff who will be with you throughout the process. Choose a place that features a restaurant and bar, where family and friends can congregate and continue festivities pre and post reception. There’s a good chance many family members and friends will choose to stay overnight rather than drive home, so when you choose a hotel don’t forget the goody bags for those staying over! Be sure that the friends and family staying over after the celebration are offered a hearty breakfast prior to their departure whether it’s a hotel feature or an added on breakfast or brunch.
Why not consider choosing The Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, New Jersey. We feature more than 22,000 square feet of upscale and meticulous banquet space, years of culinary experience, ample free parking for your guests with valet service, 89 Superior Guestrooms including Honeymoon Suites, Complimentary Full Buffet Breakfast with our own fresh baked muffins & breads and much more, Free WiFi at the fastest speeds around, 42 inch Panasonic HD and Satellite TV with more than 55 High Definition channels, Fitness Center, Fresh lobby popcorn and homemade cookies daily. We also feature Zagat Rated Primavera Restaurant, Bar, & Room Service available for pre and post wedding parties.
And if you are in the decision making process, see our in house partners all under our roof!
Jason Craig Entertainment for music from DJ’s to 17 piece bands, photography, and videography
American Yoga Academy & Studio often chosen for wedding party relaxation therapy www.americanyogaacademy.com
Swirled Bakery for specialized cookies and theme www.swirledbakery.com
Anthony Ferraz Floral For superb design and execution