A picture of a groom kissing a bride while their friend happily throw rice into the air around them

Planning the biggest day of your life can be a very time consuming and daunting task. So in order to help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls associated with weddings, here are 20 wedding tips from Heath Stencel that should help you along the way. Over the years, Heath has managed hundreds of weddings at Longmeadow Game Resort and Event Center and he has some unique insights on how to make the most of your special day!

  1. Research, Research, Research – Make sure you do your research before deciding on the location of your wedding, especially if the goal is to get the best bang for your buck. Many people decide on the home wedding far too soon assuming that it will be much cheaper but find out too late that, not only was it more expensive, it ended up being a mountain of work and responsibility for everyone involved. Just renting a tent to keep your guests out of the weather can cost between $5,000 and $7,000 and that does not even include any sort of climate control. In most cases, you can book a very nice venue for that amount and get much more than just a tent.
  2. Save yourself the grief and skip the seating chart! – Assembling a seating chart for hundreds of people is like playing emotional Tetris. You will never get all of the pieces/people to fit together perfectly; and why should it be your responsibility to try? Seating charts almost always lead to mountains of stress, fights, tears and hard feelings. Always remember, this day is about YOU not about your crazy aunt Lily and the inappropriate things she might say. At the end of the day, a seat at a wedding is only the duration of a bad B movie, and how many of those have you suffered through.
  3. Plan the Day – Want to avoid unnecessary stress on your wedding day? Take the extra time to organize the details of the day. There are literally hundreds of tools available on the net and in stores that make it so easy to do. The best ones are tutorial, organization, checklist combo’s that walk you through the entire wedding planning process. Trust us, a little extra time up front will save you a lot of headaches in the end.
  4. A photo of a wedding toast with three glasses of champagneThe “Champagne Toast” doesn’t need to be with Champagne – In our experience, purchasing Champagne for everyone at your wedding is a waste of money because, at best, most of your guests will just take a sip and leave the rest. So save the money and spend it on something you know your guests will appreciate and consume.
  5. Kids Zone – Kids are the light of our lives, however, they can be the darkness of your wedding day if allowed to run wild. So, our recommendation, provide separate entertainment for the children that is near enough to the adults that they can easily be supervised but far enough away that they are not under foot. Bounce houses work great for this!
  6. Photo Fun – Want to get some really exciting and hilarious pictures at your wedding without breaking the bank on a photo both or extra photographers? Simply put some cheap or even disposable cameras on each table and scatter some props throughout the wedding space with which people can have some photo fun. You can even take it a step further and turn it into a sort of scavenger hunt by placing cards at each table asking guests for a certain type of photo, a photo of a certain person or a photo of someone doing something “specific”. You will be amazed at what you get back!Dancing couples during party or wedding celebration
  7. Don’t skimp on the DJ! – A good DJ is key in making your special day spectacular. Your DJ will be the MC and organizer of the evening’s events so take your time, do your research and pick a good one. A standout DJ should not only have great lighting, sound and music but should be professional, organized, entertaining and, most importantly, a master of ceremonies. So save a little extra coin to invest in that perfect DJ.
  8. Wedding Slider reception hall setupVenue, Venue, Venue – Unlike real estate, the physical location of your venue is not as important as it is that it fits you. Remember, this is your special day and, in most cases, the venue is the most important piece of the puzzle. So make sure to be true to yourself and choose the perfect venue for you. The people who truly care will be there regardless of the location.
  9. Be selfish – keep the wedding day focused on you and it will be much more enjoyable and far less stressful. Too often, people try to plan their wedding around other people’s wants and needs in mind. This approach makes planning YOUR special day miserable because you are trying to accomplish the impossible! You are trying to please everyone and it cannot be done. So, keep the focus where is should be, on you.
  10. A picture of a wedding planner fixing a bride's hairDon’t be stressed, be blessed with the help of a good wedding coordinator! – Wedding/Event Coordinators are invaluable. Even if you don’t want to go to the added expense of hiring a wedding coordinator, you can choose a venue who provides one. A good event coordinator can eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the stress on your wedding day. This small piece of the puzzle will make the day astoundingly more enjoyable for everyone involved.
  11. “Don’t sweat the little things.” – There are a million details in the day but you are the only one that knows them all so, for your sanity’s sake, try not to fixate on every little thing that doesn’t go as planned. In most cases, your guests will never know the difference. Sometimes the most memorable parts of your wedding day are the unexpected curves that the day throws at you.
  12. Personalize the event – Make the guests feel like part of the wedding by including pictures of them in the decor or as part of a running slide show during the reception. This helps remind everyone that they have played a special role in your life and have a special role to play in your wedding. Will help set the mood for the reception and also serve as great conversation starters.
  13. Do your research – When choosing a venue, always ask for references and/or research customer feedback. There are many beautiful facilities out there but very few have the “complete package” so make sure to take the time to do your research. Customer service, flexibility, staff and the personal touches are the things that usually make your day and are the things that are most often neglected but NOT at Longmeadow. Those things are what set us apart.
  14. Prioritize! – You want the whole day to be a celebration of the rest of your lives. You want people to walk away saying, ‘That was so much fun.’ And we were able to accomplish that. Choose the few things that are really important to you and then go from there. Be flexible on the other details and remember to have fun.
  15. Book Early – Most people get engaged over the holidays and most good venues book out 6-12 months. So, if you are looking to tie the knot in 2016 you better get started right away before all the good venues are booked for the season.
  16. Feed the Children – Consider adding a kids meal to your next wedding or event. Even if you have a buffet style service, most good caterers or venues will plate and serve a kids meal at your request. This not only simplifies and speeds up the dinner service but makes the entire meal cheaper for you and more convenient for parents and guests. Not to mention the kids get a meal that they will enjoy and can eat with little assistance from their parents.
  17. Lights! – A very simple, inexpensive and elegant way to dress up your wedding and eliminate tedious decorating is to ask your DJ or decorator about lighting options. Things like up-lighting on the walls, table lighting, and projections will make your reception hall look like you blew your budget on decorating when, in fact, you spent very little time or money to make the room look spectacular.
  18. Take your time when planning your wedding. – As long as you get started right away, the more time you allow to plan the day the less stressful and more enjoyable it will be. Additionally, the more time you have to plan the more time you have to save for those extra’s that will make the day that much more special.
  19. A picture of a wedding cake backlit by several strands of white lightsBe Flexible on Schedule – May through October is the most popular time to schedule a wedding, which also means these months are the most expensive. Caterers, reception halls and other vendors are much more likely to offer better pricing – or be willing to negotiate on costs – if you set the date during the slower months, such as January, March or November. You can also lower your costs by avoiding a wedding on a Saturday night, the busiest time for receptions. Why not pick an afternoon affair or a Friday night instead?
  20. Relax and Have Fun! – Remember this is your day. Put yourselves and your desires first. Don’t let concerns around friends and family stress you out. It’s your wedding, not theirs!