HGTV's Ultimate Wedding Lookbook

From picking the venue to the attire, we'll be there every step of the way to help plan your dream wedding.

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August 23, 2019

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HGTV's Ultimate Wedding Guide

Bouquets, venues and signature cocktails — we've got everything you need to plan your big day.

PLAN LIKE A PRO: HGTV's Ultimate Wedding Guide

Wedding Planning

Above all, stay organized. Checklists, online planners and the help of your loved ones will help you stay stress-free. Don't be afraid to pass off tasks or hire help.

See More: Newly Engaged? Jump-Start Your Wedding Planning With These 7 Tips

Picking the Venue

Wedding venues are popping up everywhere these days, which makes choosing the perfect spot to tie the knot even harder. For more budget-friendly options, choose a locale that's not directly in the heart of the city. Popular, in-demand venues tend to have higher rates and heavier traffic. Don't be afraid to shop around for the perfect venue.

See More Photos: A Classic Black-Tie Wedding at Historic Nashville Estate

Garden-Style Venues

Let Mother Nature do the decorating with an outdoor venue or ceremony site, such as a greenhouse or botanical garden. Not only will this allow your guests to enjoy fresh air but also provides a backdrop of lush greenery and beautiful blooms for pictures. Just remember to have a backup plan in case of rain!

See More Photos: A Colorado Farm Wedding

National Park Venues

For lovers who also love the great outdoors, getting married in a national park can be a uniquely meaningful experience that's worth the extra planning. Facilities, amenities, permits and rules vary from park to park, so do your research well ahead of time.

See More Photos: 10 Stunning National Park Wedding Venues

Historic Landmarks

Personalize your wedding even more by finding a well-known landmark in your home state — or the state you met each other — to tie the knot at. Revisit on your anniversary each year to remember all the special memories it holds.

See More Photos: 15 Unique Places to Tie the Knot

Destination Venue

The beauty of a destination wedding is, of course, a gorgeous location. But it’s also a great way to entice guests to fly in for a mini vacation and allows for plenty of magical bonding opportunities with your guests and a way to extend your special day into a weekend or more.

See More: 8 Apps And Tools For Planning Your Destination Wedding

Or Choose Your Own Backyard

Because there's no place like home to say "I do." We’re here to say that having a high-style wedding at home is totally possible!

See More Photos: 21 Essentials for a High-Style Backyard Wedding

Money-Saving Must Know

Spring and fall months tend to be the most popular for weddings. Therefore, vendors and venues charge their peak prices during those months of the year. Choosing a wedding date in the winter can save you a bundle because there are fewer weddings scheduled during those months, leading many vendors to offer discounts on their services. The same is often true for choosing a weekday or a Sunday rather than a Saturday.

See More Photos: 15 Easy Ways to Cut Down on Wedding Costs

Engagement Photos

Let the world know you're tying the knot with a fun, personalized engagement photo. It's a great way to test out a photographer before the wedding and to include your furry friends in your wedding album if the venue doesn't allow pets.

See More: Wedding Save-the-Date and Engagement Announcement Ideas

Spring Weddings

Beat the summer wedding rush with a spring ceremony — your loved ones are usually less busy between March and May. Keep an eye on the weather, and have a rain and/or snow plan ready.

See More Photos: 45 Sweet + Sunny Spring Wedding Ideas

Summer Weddings

Summer's in the air — smells like wedding season! You can have your pick of a bounty of fresh flowers, produce, local cheese and everything in-between. The season's long days are perfect to keep your party going through the evening.

See More Photos: 25 Hot Summer Wedding Ideas

Fall Weddings

Fall creates a vibrant natural backdrop for your ceremony, so don't be afraid to go daring with your color palette with deep, saturated hues. The weather is usually ideal — the chance of rain is lower, plus you don't have to worry about the sweltering summer heat.

See More Photos: 45 Cozy + Romantic Fall Wedding Ideas

Winter Weddings

Winter weddings are naturally beautiful, but they can also be cost effective. Since spring and summer are typically the most popular times to get married, many vendors and venues have more flexibility and availability during the off-season.

See More Photos: 34 Whimsical + Romantic Winter Wedding Ideas

Choose Your Team

Call on your wedding party to help make your special day run smooth. Even if it seems like a given, make sure to formally ask each member of your party.

See More: Wedding Etiquette 101: How to Be a Good Bridesmaid + Guest

The Invitations

Invitations are the first look into your big day. Design your invites to reflect the theme and overall feel you want your wedding to be. Find this and other gorgeous invitations in the gallery below.

See More Photos: 15 Eye-Catching Wedding Invitations to Obsess Over RN

Go Digital With Paperless Post

Digital cards, which emerge from animated envelopes and can include patterned liners, custom stamps and even wax seals, can all be created through an app. Track RSVPs, send guests messages and even share a photo gallery.

See More: Tech-Savvy Ways to Upgrade Your Wedding

The Hashtag

You'll probably be asking, "What's the hashtag?" long before you decide on a venue. Enlist your loved ones to help you think up something clever.

See More: 14 Tips for Crafting a One-of-A-Kind Wedding Hashtag

The Wedding Shower

A wedding shower is a great way to bring your closest friends and family together to celebrate you and your upcoming nuptials — and get a few gifts as well. Pass the party-planning duties on to the MOH or a close friend, and enjoy being showered with love.

See More Photos: Our 55 Best Bridal Shower Ideas

Don't Forget the Games

No wedding shower is complete without games. Plan a few fun and interactive games for your guests to participate in, and don't forget prizes for the winners!

See More Photos: 20 Bridal Shower Games and Activities

Thank You Cards

If you want to make the guest of honor’s life easier, make sure to use this tip. The last things you want to do when you are nose-deep in wedding planning or about to go on your honeymoon are track down everyone’s addresses, buy thank you cards, or go anywhere near a post office. Setting up a thank you card area at the shower will save you hours. When guests arrive, have them write their name and address on a blank envelope and add a stamp. As the guest of honor opens gifts, the host will note the gift and gift-giver on an index card. At the end of the party, the index cards are slipped into the corresponding envelopes along with a blank card for the soon-to-be newlyweds to take home.

Bachelorette + Bachelor Parties

From a weekend in the woods with your best pals to a joint party with your soon-to-be-spouse, the options are endless for celebrating your last fling before the ring. But most importantly, have fun!

See More Photos: 25 Fresh, Fabulous Bachelor and Bachelorette Party Ideas

The Dress

You spend months and months daydreaming about and searching for your perfect dress - make sure it accompanies the season, too. This long-sleeved, boho dress is perfect for a fall or winter wedding. GET INSPIRED BY THESE DARING WEDDING DRESSES.

Or Jumpsuit

We're totally here for non-traditional attire, too! Jumpsuits, skirts and pants are becoming more common for the modern bride - like Solange's iconic ivory jumpsuit. DARE TO BE DIFFERENT WITH INSPIRATION FROM THESE BRIDES.

Restore an Antique

This blushing bride wore her grandmother's wedding dress on her big day. Another option is to restore or incorporate pieces of a special gown in your own.

See More Photos: Tips on How To Restore a Vintage Wedding Dress

The Menswear

Let your dapper groom show off a little personality with accessories of his own — such as colorful bracelets or a watch.

Greeny + White Scheme

Taking the Pinterest world by storm lately is the wedding theme of colorful, lush greenery everywhere, and we love it! Here, gorgeous greenery vines and illuminating bistro lights hang from the tent ceiling to bring maximum chicness to an otherwise plain space.

Hues of Blues Scheme

Add color to your wedding in a soft and serene way with a palette of blues. From slate blue to navy blue, this scheme is guaranteed to add major style to your nuptials.

Black-Tie Affair Scheme

A black-tie affair is the most classic and luxurious wedding theme there is. Getting dressed to the nines, plated dinners and iconic grand exists are all definitely on the idea board.

Moody Jewel Tones Scheme

Deep, rich and full of warmth, jewel tones create instant luxe. Plum, emerald green, mustard yellow, midnight blue and amethyst burgundy are just a few color examples that make up this moody palette.

Rustic Chic Scheme

Brimming with wooden accents and wildflowers, a rustic wedding theme is perfect for a laid back, outdoor-loving couple.

See More Photos: A Colorado Farm Wedding

Love Wins

If you're looking for an LGBT-friendly vendor, especially a religious venue, look for the Human Rights Campaign's blue and yellow equal sign logo on the vendor website. Some sites display a rainbow flag. That's a great way to know before you call when booking.

See More: 47 Wedding Ideas for Gay and Lesbian Couples

Signature Cocktails

Ditch the open bar (and save lots of $$) by serving just beer, wine and a signature cocktail or two instead. Customize your selections to you and your spouse's favorite bevvies.

See More Photos: 50 Signature Wedding Cocktails

Save on Champagne

You can often save money on champagne or wine by buying wholesale or in bulk at stores like Costco or Sam's Club.

Mocktails Are a Must

It's great to include a mocktail for those who don't imbibe or little ones in attendance.

See More Photos: 50 Signature Wedding Cocktails

The Bouquet

The season of your wedding will dictate which flowers are readily available. Out-of-season blooms typically will be more expensive (if even available) — so if you've got your heart set on a winter wedding with bouquets of summer sunflowers, be prepared to factor that into the overall costs.

See More Photos: 75 Ultra-Lush Wedding Bouquet Ideas

The Boutonniere

The men deserve a pretty flower as well! Here, white ranunculus blooms are accented with deep-green Italian ruscus for a pretty contrast.

See More Photos: 38 Fresh-Cut Wedding Boutonniere Ideas

Fresh Flower Alternative

A handcrafted felt wedding bouquet is a beautiful way to create flowers that will last a lifetime. You can choose your own flowers, your own colors and your own arrangement to create a unique bouquet that will be treasured for years to come.

See More Photos: 27 Floral Alternatives For Your Wedding

Getting Ready Photo Op

You'll both love looking back on special moments before the "I do's," so make sure your photographer is there to capture them.

See More Photos: 24 Can't-Miss Wedding Day Photo Ops

Involve Your Furry Friends

Say yes to the pets! From flower pup to ring bearer, couples are incorporating their pets on their big day in the sweetest ways.

See More Photos: The Do’s and Don’ts of Dogs in Weddings

First Touch

Couples holding on to the can't-see-the-bride-before-the-ceremony tradition will love this no-peeking photo opportunity.

First Look

There's nothing like a big reveal — make sure your photographer captures the moment. Many couples now take photos before the wedding so they can spend more time with their guests after the ceremony.

Order of Events

A large order of events board in the entrance of the venue is a perfect way to let guests know what's to come. One large board will also save you the hassle of buying and printing individual order-of-events cards for each guest. Feeling crafty? Learn how to make your own below.

Get the How-To: Write Like a Lettering Pro With This Faux Calligraphy Hack

Outdoor Arbor Adorned in Love

Add interest to a traditional, four-post wood arbor by draping the front and back in flowing white fabric. Make this simple altar truly wedding-worthy by wrapping one side in romantic silver dollar eucalyptus dripping in oversized heart-shaped ornaments and ornamental cabbage blooms.

See More Photos: 45 One-of-a-Kind Wedding Arbors, Altars + Aisles

Dress up the Aisle Chairs

Bring a little rustic flair to your ceremony with rows of wooden chairs for your guests. Decorate the aisle seats with bountiful bunches of silver dollar eucalyptus and hanging ribbons for a free-flowing, chic vibe.

See More Photos: 45 One-of-a-Kind Wedding Arbors, Altars + Aisles

Indoor Altar With Romantic Ambience

Lining the aisles and forming the altar, white rose petals pair with acrylic candle holders to create a romantic ambience for this indoor ceremony. To complement the chic, modern design, create a striking focal point by using a colorful floral arrangement to top the mantel.

See More Photos: 45 One-of-a-Kind Wedding Arbors, Altars + Aisles

Dinner Party Ceremony

Brides and Charlotte and Gina had a formal dinner party as their ceremony. The dinner tables are made romantic and dramatic with an abundance of different-height candles.

Cocktail Hour

If you're taking photos after the ceremony, serve your guests small appetizers to munch on while they wait. This is a great time to open the bar, too.

See More Photos: 25 Easy Party Food Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

Upgrade the Chairs

If your budget allows, upgrading those basic white wedding chairs will make a big impact at your ceremony and reception. Here, gold chiavari chairs (contact your local rental company for pricing) add glitz and glam to the New Year's Eve nuptials about to take place. If the budget doesn't allow, consider upgrading only you and your spouse's chairs for an added personal touch.

Seating Chart

If you're planning on making a seating chart for your guests, do so in a stylish way. To avoid guests lining up and scrambling to find their seats, organize names in alphabetical order by last name instead of by table number. This will make the process a lot faster and easier for your loved ones.

See More Photos: A Classic Black-Tie Wedding at Historic Nashville Estate

Table Numbers

Table numbers are a great opportunity to bring big style to your reception tables. Here, mercury glass numbers are used to accent a soft, seaside-esque color palette.

See More Photos: An Ultra-Elegant Seaside Wedding

Polaroid Guest Book

Guest books are a special and memorable keepsake from your big day. Make it a fun and interactive experience for guests by setting up a polaroid station for them to partake in. Trust us, you’ll love looking back and reading this guest book for years to come.

See More Photos: 20 Creative DIY Wedding Guest Books

Vinyl Record Guest Book

Bring in a retro vibe to the reception with vinyl records for guests to sign. Metallic permanent markers such as gold and silver work best for readability. Enjoy listening to your favorite tunes from your autographed records or display them in a fun way in your home.

See More Photos: 20 Creative DIY Wedding Guest Books

Gardenesque Centerpiece

DIYing your centerpieces might be easier than you think. Whether you're looking for floral or non-floral ideas, we’ve got you covered below.

See More Photos: 63 Gorgeous DIY Wedding Centerpieces

Jewel Toned Centerpiece

Incorporate color into your tablescapes in a trendy way with a jewel-toned theme. Here, rich teal candlesticks and goblets complement the moody-hued florals in the centerpiece arrangement.

See More Photos: 63 Gorgeous DIY Wedding Centerpieces

Lantern + Greenery Centerpiece

Looking for something a little different? Skip the flowers, and welcome the soft, natural elegance of eucalyptus. Pair the gorgeous greenery with crisp white table linens, plenty of candles and subtle gold accents.

See More Photos: 63 Gorgeous DIY Wedding Centerpieces

Skip a Standard Vase

Skip a standard vase and use beautiful old containers instead. Antique tins, teapots, pitchers and storage containers, like this pressed-glass biscuit jar, make charming stand-ins for a modern vase while adding a hand-me-down touch of family history to your table.

See More Photos: Luxe for Less: Set a Timeless Table That Only Looks Expensive

Pretty Place Setting

Coordinating place settings add major style and flair to any tablescape. Here, rustic, nautical elements like grasses, linen and driftwood are right at home at the seaside ceremony.

SEE MORE: 23 Wedding Table Setting Ideas for Every Season

The Sweetheart Table

A designated spot for the newlyweds, a sweetheart table is the perfect place to share your first meal as a married couple with the best view of your family and friends.

See More Photos: A Look Inside an HGTV Producer's Rustic-Glam Wedding

Save Your Seat

If you’re looking for a decor DIY that’s quick, easy and inexpensive, this one’s for you. Grab some copper wire, and start bending. These stylish signs provide an adorably effective way to save your seats all night.

See More Photos: 16 Chair-Back Decor Ideas for Your Wedding

Romantic Lighting

When the sun goes down, lighting can add drama, sparkle, polish and fun to a wedding. From votives to chandeliers to string lights, the options are endless.

See More Photos: 20 Lovely Wedding Lighting Ideas

The Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are another avenue for self-expression on your big day, and we’re loving the uptick in artistic confectionaries — especially this gorgeous gold leaf creation.

See More Photos: 27 Beautiful & Unique Wedding Cake Design Ideas

Don't Forget the Topper

Wedding cake toppers are the perfect way to show off a little personality on your big day. From song lyrics to cartoon figures, check out all the options we've sourced below.

Or Choose Desserts

No one says you have to have a cake at your wedding. Choose a mix of pies, puddings or donuts instead. Here, a chalkboard sign states the delicious dessert options at this charming Southern wedding. Your guests will love sampling different desserts as the night goes on.

See More Photos: 58 Simple (and Delicious!) Wedding Cakes and Desserts You Can Make Yourself

Savor the Moment

In addition to enjoying the cake with your new spouse on the day, try freezing a piece of your wedding cake and eating it on your anniversary.

Photo Booth Fun

Photo booths are the Instagram-worthy, all-the-rage accessory for any event, not just weddings. The good news is they're easy to set up and make for a lifetime of fun memories on your wedding day.

Make Your Own: Amazon Has Everything You Need for a DIY Wedding Photo Booth

Get Your Groove On

Dance the night away to a setlist of you and your spouse’s favorite tunes. Hiring a band or DJ will ensure the night runs smoothly from grand entrances to announcements but most importantly, keeping the music going.

Wedding Reception Songs Guaranteed to Get Your Guests on the Dance Floor

Fun and Games

Games add an extra element to your wedding that will keep the party going for hours. This bride crafted this corn hole set with the couple's initials.

See More Photos: DIY Cornhole Game

Edible Favors

Send your nearest and dearest home with a treat for the road. Caramel corn wedding favors make a yummy thank-you gift. Show off the scrumptious golden color by packaging the corn in clear boxes.

See More Photos: 88 DIY Wedding Favors Your Guests Will Love

Plantable Favors

Kick your nuptials off with a sunny start by sending friends home with bags of bright yellow sunflower seeds. Get the free printable label and instruction card below.

Get the How-To: DIY Plantable Party Favors

Kid-Friendly Favors

On your wedding day, don't forget the kiddos! Send little ones home with a personalized to-go box full of goodies.

Go Buffet Style

Transforming a casual course into a conversation starter, guests will love being able to pick their portions.

See More Photos: 25 Easy Party Food Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

Or Plated Style

For a more formal affair, a plated meal is a good choice to elevate the night. Let guests choose their course on the RSVP card to ensure everyone gets what they want.

See More: Wedding Menu Tips

When You Both Love Brunch

Brunch receptions call for a delicious spread of waffles, fruits, baked goods and more. Whether it's an early afternoon or night-time reception, you just can't go wrong with a brunch menu. Don't forget the mimosas!

See More Photos: Brunch Like a Boss With Our 20 Top Tips

Make It Kid-Friendly

If kids are on the guest list, a few simple activities should keep them busy. Try setting up a kids-only area with board games, coloring pages and snacks — though don't be surprised if you catch a few adults getting in on the fun!

See More Photos: 13 Easy Kids' Party Ideas

DIY Leafy Menu

Greenery is totally on-trend in the world of weddings, so why not incorporate it in a creative way? Using a paint pen and your prettiest handwriting (or a calligrapher), display your menu on a large leaf.

See More Photos: 24 DIY Wedding Decor Ideas to Wow Your Guests

DIY Floral Fans

Keep guests cool and comfortable throughout your outdoor ceremony by crafting romantic, floral fans for each seat. Shop basic white paper fans online, then use vibrant paint to create a custom design that mirrors your wedding theme and color palette. This whimsical design sports the hand-lettered names wrapped in a bold, fuchsia floral border. A pale pink tassel is secured at the base to give the fan a luxe, bohemian look that guests are sure to admire.

See More: 6 No-Sweat Tips for Cooling Down a Summer Wedding

DIY Copper Wedding Arbor

Save money and make your pictures pop by building your own wedding arbor out of copper pipes.

Get the How-To: How to Build a Copper Wedding Arbor

DIY Petal Toss Bar

Set up a small table where guests can collect a cone full of petals to toss on the newlyweds as they walk back down the aisle. The charming station will delight guests and add a pretty splash of color to your ceremony.

See More Photos: 24 DIY Wedding Decor Ideas to Wow Your Guests

DIY Paper Flowers

Pretty, inexpensive and long-lasting, paper flowers for your bouquets or centerpieces are perfect wedding mementos.

How to Make Paper Flowers for a Wedding Bouquet

Wedding Cake Hacks

Custom cakes are gorgeous, but can easily cost you hundreds of dollars. If a personalized cake is lower on your priority list, save money without sacrificing style by buying a plain white, store-bought cake and decorating it yourself.

See More Photos: 3 Trendy + Easy Ways to Dress Up a Plain White Wedding Cake

Prop to Have on Hand for Pics

Make your wedding pictures unforgettable and extremely pin-worthy with a few extra props, such as your ring (duh), heirloom items and an extra flower bloom or two.

Read More: 10 Props to Have on Hand for Your Engagement + Wedding Photos

Dress up Dollar Store Finds

Add a sophisticated look to dollar store wedding bubbles by covering the bottom with stunning gold brush strokes.

See More Photos: 38 DIY Dollar Store Wedding Decor Hacks

Get Some Candid Shots

Make room for your photographer to get candid shots at the ceremony and reception — you won't regret it.

Write out Your Vows

Whether it be handwritten vows or a personal friend officiating the wedding, ceremonies are taking a turn from traditional to totally personal. Keep your vows forever by writing them down before the big day.

See More Photos: The Hottest Wedding Trends Right Now

Don't Expect Everyone to Follow the Rules

Yes, it sucks. Some people will be rude and inconsiderate on your wedding day — like taking pictures with their cell phones during an unplugged ceremony. Our biggest tip: Don't let them ruin your special day.

See More Photos: 21 Rude Things People Will Do at Your Wedding

Get Creative

Just because you don't see it on Pinterest doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Don't be afraid to be different or creative with your decor and tablescapes, such as this rainbow-themed vintage wedding table.

See More Photos: Love Wins: Wow Guests With a Rainbow-Themed Vintage Table Setting

Eco-Friendly Wedding

Plan a wedding that aligns with your values, and you'll probably save a little money in addition to saving the earth.

This Way

Directional signs like this one are great for outdoor weddings.

Sparkler Send Off

Sparklers make for great photo ops. Have plenty of lighters or matches on hand, and buy extra-long sparklers so they stay lit long enough to get the shot. Remember, you can never be too safe: supervise children around fireworks, and keep a bucket of water to drop the used sparklers into after the flame has burned out.

See More Photos: 17 Fun, Creative Wedding Exit Ideas

Cowbell Send Off

Is your style burlap? Quilts? Cowboy boots? Then cowbells would be the perfect ending to your big day.

See More Photos: 17 Fun, Creative Wedding Exit Ideas

Spirit Finger Send Off

Fun and free, high-fiving friends and family as you run through a tunnel of 'spirit fingers' makes for a great photo and farewell.

See More Photos: 17 Fun, Creative Wedding Exit Ideas

Classic Black-Tie Wedding Inspiration

This classic black-tie wedding is seriously what dreams are made of. See for yourself below.

See More Photos: A Classic Black-Tie Wedding at Historic Nashville Estate

Colorado Farm Wedding Inspiration

We're swooning over this vintage farm wedding that features easy, DIY personal touches, farm animals and all the love.

See More Photos: A Colorado Farm Wedding

Breezy Seaside Wedding Inspiration

Get ready for some serious wedding envy — styled by designer Katie Kalafat, this seaside soirée is upping the ante in a major way.

See More Photos: An Ultra-Elegant Seaside Wedding

An HGTV Producer's Wedding Inspiration

When the bride and groom both work in video production, the wedding is bound to be a work of art. Take a look behind the scenes and get inspired by their personality-packed wedding.

See More Photos: A Look Inside an HGTV Producer's Rustic-Glam Wedding

Glam Bohemian Wedding Inspiration

Llamas and teepees and crystals, oh my! Find ideas for your own boho outdoor wedding below.

See More Photos: A Glamorous Bohemian-Luxe Wedding

Rustic Fall Wedding Inspiration

Get ready to plan a rustic fall wedding with inspiration from this gorgeous Georgia wedding.

See More Photos: Romantic + Rustic Fall Wedding at a Georgia Plantation

'Good Bones' Wedding Inspiration

When it comes to throwing a wedding, Mina (now Mina Starsiak Hawk, officially) does it with style and aplomb. Check out her entire gallery below.

See More: Photos from 'Good Bones' Star Mina Starsiak's Dream Wedding

Country Farm Wedding Inspiration

This wedding was full of personal mementos, family heritage and homespun charm.

See More Photos: Ideas for a Country Wedding: Hitching Post

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