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Wedding planners advise on what to do before 'I do'

Nancy Zalewski, owner of Kristen's Bridal, looks at a wedding dress Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Tess Williams/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
Nancy Zalewski, owner of Kristen's Bridal, looks at a wedding dress Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Tess Williams/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

Weddings take months of planning, and area event coordinators say couples can never start too early.

The three most popular months to get married are October, September and June, according to online wedding marketplace WeddingWire.

Sadie Gardner, owner of Sadie's Couture Floral and Event Planning in Grand Forks, recommends couples start planning or find someone to help them plan as soon as possible.

"Book as soon you can, as soon as you get engaged," Gardner said.

Emily Lewandowski and Kenzie Kartes of E & K Events in Grand Forks said if a couple is looking to hire an event coordinator, they should do so as early as possible.

Hiring an event coordinator or wedding planner less than three months before the wedding day may cause issues with items being out of stock or not getting shipped on time.

Gardner also recommends thoroughly researching any vendor.

"For any vendor someone is looking to book, you should really look at word of mouth referrals, how long they have been in business, their reliability and experience," Gardner said.

Gardner said if decor is important to a couple, meeting with a decorator before booking a venue can help get their dream look.

"If you have a look that you know you want, pick a venue that will work with it," Gardner said. "If you want a rustic wedding, some venues don't lend themselves to that look, some venues don't allow certain decor, like big drapes on the ceiling. Some venues only allow you to rent for one day and will take more than a day to decorate. A decorator can guide you through all these things."

Gardner said she doesn't typically recommend a certain portion for couples to spend from their wedding budget on flowers and decor, but national sites often advise spending 15 percent of the total budget on floral and decor.

Lewandowski and Kartes also advised it may be easier to stay on budget with an event planner. An event planner can help with finances by providing options within a couple's budget, while still sticking to the desired theme and vision. When planning a wedding or working with an event planner, the couple should prioritize what is most important to them. That ensures these things are taken care of on the big day.

Gardner agreed.

"Maybe food isn't important to you but having a great photographer is, then there are venues that are on lower expense level you can pick and then get that great photographer and stay on budget," Gardner said.

Finding the perfect dress should also be done as far in advance as possible.

Nancy Zalewski has owned Kristen's Bridal in Grand Forks for nearly 40 years. She recommends shopping for a wedding gown at least nine months in advance of the wedding.

Brides have come from places like International Falls, Minn., Montana and Illinois to shop at Kristen's Bridal for their wedding day look, she said.

"We get a lot of people this time of year shopping for the fall. September is a popular month."

When choosing a bridal shop, start by looking for stores that have been in business for a long time, Zalewski said.

Zalewski said she meets a lot of brides who know exactly what they want.

"A lot of brides come in and have looked at Pinterest or online and know what silhouette they want," Zalewski said.

And while it is helpful for a bride to be able to show a bridal shop what silhouette they would like, Zalewski said it is best for brides to be open to trying on other styles and silhouettes.

"A dress may not look the same on their body as it does on the rack or in person," Zalewski said. "It might not fit the way the you thought it would, or you might find something you like better."

Zalewski said she also sees many brides who may not know what they want. It is helpful to only bring an intimate group when shopping, because when a bride brings too many people, their opinions may overwhelm the bride when choosing a dress.

"I recommend bringing along a mother or best friend. When you get too many people you tend to get other people's ideas in your head," Zalewski said. "You don't want to get other people's ideas of the dream dress mixed up with your own."

And if a bride can't decide on a dress on the first go-round, Zalewski said that is totally normal.

"It's a big decision, it is definitely OK to make a second appointment," she said. "Everything takes time. Start early."

On the big day, it is important to have a trustworthy vendor, from the decor to the catering to the wedding photographer. This will eliminate stress on the wedding day.

"You've got to find someone you know you can trust," Gardner said.