wedding planning

How to Plan YOUR Dream Wedding

A common saying you may have already heard if you are planning your wedding is this “Their wedding, your marriage.” It is a common saying to help brides and grooms navigate the wedding planning process as it can often be challenging (to say the least!) with the various family, friends, etc. who want to have input in your wedding. You’ll never make everyone happy, so our advice? Brides and grooms should work together to plan the wedding of YOUR dreams - the wedding that will make the two of you happy and best reflect who you are as a couple.

Understanding that it is often easier said than done to ignore requests from key family members, we’ve pulled together a list of tips to help you plan YOUR dream wedding and (hopefully!) reducing the number of issues along the way.

Have a Clear Vision for Your Wedding Day

Once you get engaged, the questions will start immediately! When’s the big day? Where will you have it? Am I invited? As a couple, discuss your “have to haves” and “nice to haves” for your wedding to get on the same page prior to starting to look for a venue or location. Discuss particulars such as indoors our outdoors, tent or no tent, ballroom or barn, backyard or vineyard, mountains or beach.

Getting on the same page about the type of venue and location will help set the stage for the rest of the wedding. Do you want an intimate wedding with only close friends or family, or do you want to have a big wedding celebration with extended family and lots of friends? Do you want an informal outdoor ceremony or an elaborate ceremony in your family church? Without a clear vision, it will be easier for others to try and insert themselves and their opinions for your wedding.

Create a Sense of Ownership for Key Family Members

If you are finding yourself with an overly opinionated mother or mother-in-law to be, try delegating specific tasks so they feel a sense of ownership over the decisions. For instance, tradition states that the groom’s parents host the rehearsal dinner. Why not turn over all of the planning to your future mother-in-law? Chances are that she’ll love the autonomy to make decisions but will most likely ask for input too. You can also engage other key family members and friends with specific tasks along the way such as key vendor appointments like cake or food tastings, or help with hotel welcome bags or favors. By delegating tasks or asking for specific assistance, you’ll give each person a purpose and focus, which means they will be less likely to focus on other details.

Get on the Same Page

During the wedding planning process, it is so important that as a couple, you are both on the same page about the details for your wedding day. This helps reduce misunderstandings among family and friends. So, when requests or questions come up, such as why can’t kids come to the wedding or can Mary bring her boyfriend of 2 weeks, either one of you will be able to answer decisively. However, if something comes up and you aren’t sure what to do, be sure to discuss it with your fiance.

Choose Your Battles

Sometimes a request or suggestion will be shared with you, and honestly you don’t really have a strong opinion either way about including it within your wedding day. In those cases, learning to compromise and go with the flow will go a long way to make a key family member or friend feel their opinion was heard. For example, if your mother thinks printed programs are an absolute MUST but you could go either way, it is probably easier to print programs and let her win that battle. That way, if you are strongly opposed to another suggestion in the future, you’ll have your ammo saved up to fight and win.

Hire a Wedding Planner

Hiring a wedding planner can be the an excellent way to to have an unbiased third party in the mix to help you make key decisions for your wedding day. A wedding planner is a professional with years of experience planning weddings, so they have most likely seen it all when it comes to dealing with difficult family members or delicate situations. Lean on your wedding planner to help with communication to invested parties as necessary - let them be the bad guy!

The bottom line? There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to plan the wedding of YOUR dreams, as your wedding should be as unique as you are as a couple. By having a clear vision for your day and plan to make it happen, all you have to do is stay firm in your must-haves and learn to choose your battles wisely to ensure a smooth wedding planning process for everyone involved.

With over 15 years of weddings under our belt, we know that it can sometimes be challenging to navigate family dynamics. We work with our brides and grooms to ensure a flawless wedding day. Contact us to schedule a tour of the plantation today.

5 Tips to Set a Realistic Wedding Budget

Yes, we did it, we said the "B" word. And while its not THAT "B" word, some feel that a wedding budget is a bad word during the wedding planning process. However, when it comes to planning your wedding, you need to embrace your budget. Why? According to Borrowed and Blue, the average cost of a wedding in Richmond is $31,000, so you'll want to manage your budget and spending accordingly to stay sane during the planning process. Knowing that it can be difficult to discuss money, we've put together our top 5 tips to set and most importantly, KEEP, your wedding budget. 

5 Tips to Set and Keep A Realistic Wedding Budget

1. Take Stock of Your Finances

If you and your fiancé are funding the entire wedding yourself, take a look at your current financial situation to determine what you can realistically afford for your wedding. If parents or other family are helping to finance the wedding, be sure to have a frank discussion about the budget and any expectations for the wedding.

2. Make an Initial Guest List

Nothing has a greater impact on your total budget like guest count. Why? Well, for starters, the bigger the guest count, the bigger the budget. All catering, plus cake, is all charged at a per person rate. And, only certain venues offer space for up to 250 guests, so you'll want to make sure you think through how many second cousins you put on the guest list.

3. Determine Your "Must Haves"

Once you've determined the amount you have for your wedding, the next step is to think about the "must-have" items on your list. Are you and your fiancé serious foodies? Have your eye on a couture wedding dress? Have you dreamt of a 7-tired cake confection? The items that are important to you and your fiancé should be appropriately prioritized within your wedding budget.

4. Consider Multiple Dates

Unless you are 100% set on a specific date, consider shopping for dates in what's typically considered the "off season" for many venues and vendors. The off season here on the east coast is typically January-March, with some dates in November, December and April that can be lower cost than the typical wedding season of May-October. There can be a lot of beauty in a winter wedding - just check out our winter wedding post for lots of great inspiration.

5. Resist the Urge to Splurge

It doesn't take more than a 5 minute look at "wedding inspiration" on Pinterest to see how easy it is to get caught up in all of the beauty available. Setting a realistic budget is the first step to keeping it. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning your wedding is to remember what's absolutely needed to have the wedding of your dreams - not someone else's. Resist the urge to splurge on extras that no one will notice but you, and instead, spend time investing on a once-in-a-lifetime experience you and your fiancé will always remember, rather than remembering the debt and/or stress for the fancy getaway car or custom ice sculpture. 

At Dellwood, we offer a variety of packages and pricing options to meet the needs of any wedding celebration and budget. Request information today and we'll send you our latest packages and availability. 

Best Wedding Websites for Wedding Planning Advice

Congratulations to all of the newly engaged couples! The holiday season is a busy one for engagements. In fact, according to WeddingWire, over 30% of all engagements occur November through January. We understand that starting to plan a wedding can be a very overwhelming task - and it can be difficult to know where to begin. So, that's why we thought we'd pull together the best wedding websites out there for wedding planning advice for brides to be so you can find a great place to start planning the wedding of your dreams.


Top 5 Best Wedding Websites for Wedding Planning Advice


1. Wedding Wire

WeddingWire is a one-stop-shop for brides to be! This easy to use and navigate website includes helpful features including a master wedding checklist, budget tracker, guest list manager, plus lots of inspiration from real weddings. Brides can also search for reputable, local wedding vendors to pull together a dream team for your wedding. 

Bonus Feature: The Hashtag Generator! Add in all of the pertinent information and hit submit to get your personalized wedding hashtag - a must for today's social savvy brides. 


Just like their website says, you can truly plan your wedding from start to finish using They have a wedding checklist, budget planner tool, free wedding websites and a mobile app to help with planning on the go. You can also find local wedding vendors along with reviews from real brides. 

Plus, they also have a very informative blog (although not much to look at) with valuable information such as Engagement Ring Insurance and answers to common etiquette questions. 

Bonus Feature: Sign up for local offers and receive emails from local wedding vendors with special offers and discounts on services.

3. Borrowed & Blue

For local Richmond brides, Borrowed & Blue is an excellent resource for local vendors. In addition, they focus content on real weddings held right here in Richmond to give inspiration and help you find the right vendors to pull of your unique vision. 

Bonus Feature: Sign up for their email list to get planning emails customized to you and your wedding date!

4. Style Me Pretty

If you are looking for mostly inspiration with a side of helpful, Style Me Pretty is an absolute must for this list of the best wedding websites. Style Me Pretty includes daily posts of inspiration from classic to modern and romanic to vintage - and everything in between for the modern bride to be. 

Bonus Feature: The Vault! Think of Pinterest with only the most beautifully curated wedding inspiration photos and the vendors that made them possible. 

5. Intimate Weddings

A new trend is emerging with weddings - intimate weddings of 75 guests or less. Couples looking for an intimate gathering with family and close friends are opting for smaller affairs. Intimate Weddings is the source for inspiration, venues, DIY projects and real wedding inspiration for brides to plan the intimate wedding that fits your vision. 

Bonus Feature: The DIY project gallery features hundreds of projects and tutorials for the do-it-herself bride.

Do you have any other wedding websites to add to our best list? Let us know in the comments!

How to Create Your Own Wedding Timeline

When planning a wedding yourself, it is easy to overlook the tiny details of your wedding day. Sure, you've got the big things down like ceremony start time and when its time to start getting your hair and make-up done, but what about what time does the photographer need to arrive prior to the ceremony based on the length of your contract? So, in an effort to help DIY brides, we've pulled together a list of questions to help you start to pull together a day-of timeline for your wedding to ensure all things go smoothly. 

How to Build Your Wedding Day Timeline

First, check your venue contract and find out: 

What time can you have access to the venue for decorating?

Some venues, such as wineries and other locations, have reception start times for a reason, as they have other customers there during the day. Be sure to check on how early you can arrive to decorate and/or gain access for the caterer and florist to begin set-up.

Who will be setting up items such as the guest book, favors, table decor, etc.?

If you have a day-of wedding coordinator, this will fall under their responsibilities. However, you might have a friend or family member (it might even be your Mom) who will be responsible for setting up small details at the venue. Be sure to plan plenty of time for that person to be able to complete set-up and get ready for the wedding.

Photo Courtesy Daniel Min Photography

Photo Courtesy Daniel Min Photography

Will you be getting ready there? What time can you arrive?

If your ceremony and reception are at the same venue, chances are you may be getting ready there. If so, you can probably gain access to the bridal suite hours before your ceremony starts. Be sure to check on that time and coordinate with your hair and make-up person so things go as planned. 

If you are not getting ready at the venue, how will you and the bridal party get to the venue?

Sometimes, you may choose to get ready at home or at a hotel suite for everyone to be together. If so, you'll need to plan for transportation for you and the bridal party to get to the venue. You may want to call a car or limo service to make things easier and have extra space, especially considering you'll be in your dress.

If your ceremony is at a church, what time does the ceremony start? Who is responsible for decorations at the church?

Some churches have a coordinator to help, however, you will most likely have to designate someone to ensure flowers, programs, etc. are in the right places.

How long do you have the venue for in your contract?

Typical contract length is 4 hours for the reception, 5 hours for ceremony and reception if both are held in the same place. Based on your timeline, you might also want to consider if you need another hour at the  venue and potentially plan for an additional charge.

Based on the above answers, review your other vendor contracts to determine the following:

What time will the florist be delivering the flowers to the church and/or venue?

One common item most brides forget is to have their bouquets delivered to the location where you are getting ready to have them with you for pre-ceremony photos, your first look if you are doing one, etc.

What time is the cake being delivered to the venue?

Most times you'll get a window, so you'll want to be sure someone will be at the venue for them to get in.

How long have you contracted your photographer?

Based on the length of time, be sure to plan for the photographer to arrive in plenty of time to take pre-ceremony getting ready photos and then stay to the end, especially if you have a special exit planned.  

How early will the caterer need to arrive?

Be sure to coordinate with the venue to be sure someone will be there and the caterer can gain access at the appropriate time to begin set-up.

Once you've thought through everything pre-ceremony, you have to think about the order of events of the ceremony and reception. Be sure to think about the following:

Photo Courtesy Kathryn Ivy Photography

Photo Courtesy Kathryn Ivy Photography

What music will be playing during the various parts of the ceremony and reception?

While you may think its only a few songs, there are potentially multiple songs needed for various parts of the ceremony and reception. Here's a list:

  • Processional - Seating of the grandparents and parents, groom's entrance, and bridesmaids entrance. This can be the same song or different songs. 
  • Bridal Processional - The song for the bride to come down the aisle.
  • Recessional - The song for the bride and groom to walk back down the aisle as husband and wife.
  • Ceremony Entrance Music - The song for everyone to be announced at the reception.
  • First Dance - The song to play during your first dance as husband and wife.
  • Father-Daughter Dance/Mother-Son Dance - Songs to play during the special dances at the reception.

How long will you take photos after the ceremony?

Work with your photographer on how much time he or she needs to take the formal family photos and your portraits after the ceremony prior to the reception. This is why most couples plan a cocktail hour to get guests into the celebration while waiting for the bride and groom to take photos. 

What is the order of events at the reception?

Once you are announced, do you want to do your first dance right away or do you want to start eating? When will you cut the cake and do toasts? What time will you plan your exit to ensure guests are still there?

Who will be responsible for gathering gifts and any remaining decor items?

Most venues require that all personal items are removed and that the venue is fully cleaned at the end of the night. You and your groom will be long gone after your planned exit, so be sure to plan for someone to gather gifts, all remaining decor items, any remaining items from the bridal suite, etc.

Whew! We know that is a lot to think about, however, those details are the important details to think about ahead of time to ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly and you can enjoy the party that you've spent months planning - rather than answering questions on the fly during the event. 

At Dellwood Plantation, we have over 15 years of experience running smooth weddings. All of our packages come with a mistress of ceremonies to ensure that your wedding will run smoothly once you start your walk down the aisle to your new husband. We invite you visit the plantation and learn more about our comprehensive wedding packages. 

Why You Need a Day Of Wedding Coordinator

Planning a wedding is no small task! While there are plenty of items you can do yourself to plan such a large event, there is one budget item that many brides overlook and often regret later - a day of wedding coordinator. While pricing and packages may vary, the roles and responsibilities of a day of wedding coordinator at the highest level includes making sure your wedding day runs smoothly. She is the keeper of the timeline, the master problem-solver (but there won't be any problems right?!) and the magician behind the scenes to ensure you, the bride, don't have a care in the world on the day of your wedding. Here's a brief list of the reasons why you need a day-of wedding to help make your wedding the best day ever!

Top 3 Reasons Why You Need a Day Of Wedding Coordinator

She's The Keeper of the Timeline

On the day of your wedding, the last thing you want to worry about is ensuring the caterer puts the food for the cocktail hour out on time, that the officiant is in place on time, and that the toast and cake cutting happens at the right time during the reception. Your main goal on your wedding day should be to enjoy it! 

She's The Ultimate Decision Maker

During the day, there are bound to be a few questions and last minute decisions that come up that you shouldn't have to worry about - such as where should the cake table go now that the gift table can't be moved, etc. You've hired her to act on your behalf for the day to ensure that everything goes smoothly. And, if the DJ set up is a bit larger than anticipated, she'll work with the right folks to create a solution with your ultimate vision in mind.

She's A Seasoned Problem Solver

This isn't her first rodeo or trip down the aisle with a bride - she has years of experience coordinating weddings to perfection. While we plan to ensure problems don't arise on your wedding day, she's there just in case and ready to put a solution in place to make you and guests non the wiser that something has not gone as planned. Did the boutonnieres arrive one short? A serving utensil short? A couple of cases of beer short? She's been there, done that, and knows where the closest place to buy beer is located near the reception.

It is important to note that you should begin searching for a day of wedding coordinator once you have a date and venue in mind to ensure they are available, as their schedule gets booked up fast! That way, as you plan your wedding, you will have someone available to ask questions and seek guidance throughout the months leading up to your wedding. Also, ask about available packages and details about what's included to ensure you get the right package to meet your individual needs. 

At Dellwood Plantation, while other venues offer only an empty space to fill, we offer comprehensive wedding packages that includes way more than the basics. We invite you to schedule a visit today.