Couples Who Trusted the Pros

Real-life brides share their practical tips for painlessly planning your wedding with the help of professional wedding planners and vendors.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThe Couple: Chelsey Coyle and Jordan Bowen; The Location: The bride's parents' home in New Market, Tenn.

All About

Chelsey's Story: "Jordan and I met at church and began dating in 2003. Two years later, he proposed to me at my parent's home because he knew that I'd always dreamed of being married there. To accomplish my vision of an elegant outdoor affair, my family worked overtime to prepare for the big day. The day of the wedding, we had vendors on-hand to take care of practically everything so my family could relax and enjoy this special event. The ceremony and reception were held under a beautiful tent set in our horse paddock overlooking the neighboring pastures. Some of the most touching moments were our grandfathers performing the ceremony and Jordan's father and sister singing 'The Prayer.'"


Her Tips:

Check and double-check with your vendors: "A week before the wedding I called each vendor to make sure they knew what time to arrive, what they needed to bring and what we needed to have on site for them. You'll still have surprises, but prior planning can reduce the stress of the big day. If working with a rental company, ask to see photos of events they've completed, also ask for their suggestions when selecting items. Most rental companies have a ton of options and it can be hard to decide, so it's helpful to see photos and get their recommendations so you can narrow down your choices. Think of everything you'll have to provide for your vendors and guests. If you're planning an outdoor wedding, don't forget things that are not exactly pretty, but very necessary, like the port-a-potties. Read over the contract carefully to be sure everything you've asked for is listed and at the agreed upon price. Also, be clear on what condition the rented items need to be returned."

Be clear with your vendors about your expectations: "Also, discuss when they should be paid. If they'll be paid the day of the wedding, which most are, then have a designated person who will handle getting the money to the vendors."

Be organized: "This is a huge event and organization is absolutely necessary to pull it off. Constantly communicate with your vendors and assign tasks to reliable people for the day of the wedding. That way you can relax and enjoy the day. I was amazed at how smoothly the day went, but I owe it all to researching and selecting great vendors and having an organized plan for the day."

The photographs are forever, so select your photographer carefully: "Before selecting a photographer, really do your research. Look at several photographers' portfolios, websites and examples. Make a list of the poses you want and give it to the photographer before the wedding. Also, designate a friend to help corral family members and the wedding party for the formal pictures; it helps the photography process go much more quickly."