How to plan a Cape Cod wedding

bride and groom on the wedding dayYour planning game plan for a wedding on Cape Cod

You got engaged! Congratulations! Let’s start planning the wedding and working through the steps to get there in the best way possible!

wedding planning

  1. Style

Style sets the tone of your wedding. Style reflects your personality. It says whether you are going for simple, classic, elegant, campy or adventurous. It should be a merging of your two personalities. It should reflect your ideal environment to be surrounded by while you say your vows.

Choose a color palette for all your decor/dresses/cakes to follow. If you can narrow your theme to 3-5 colors in the beginning it will make your decision making easier down the road.

You can also choose a few words to represent your style. Such as “clean, simple, elegant”. Or “rustic, natural, wild”. That way when you are going through options you only have to ask yourself does this match my color palate and does this fit into our style definition.

  1. Guest list

You should start by creating a list of people you would like to invite to your wedding. This will determine the size of the venue you will need. Generally 80% of the people you invite will attend your wedding.

One of the biggest questions you will have is how large of a guest list you will want. Defining the size of your wedding will dictate the rest of your choices down the road. Most of this will be tied to a budget but you could do a larger sized wedding inexpensively.

  1. Budget

The next thing you need to do is to come up with your wedding day budget. Also you need to figure out where the funds will be coming from. This will save you a lot of stress and irritation later on. Will you be borrowing money? What do you have in savings? Are parents contributing something?

Once the budget has been decided then we can start splitting it up by vendor and service accordingly. The individual vendor budgets will allow you to narrow your choices down further when researching local florists/photographers and venues. This way you waste a minimal amount of time by avoiding the back and forth only to realize that they are outside of your price point.

  1. Wedding Venue

Make sure to book your wedding venue. If you will have different venues for the reception and the ceremony, make sure that both of them are available for the date and the time you need it. Only after that you can start booking other vendors. Unless it is a wedding photographer that you absolutely must have!

Most of the time it is better to decide on a date range for the wedding and allow the venue some flexibility in scheduling to increase your odds of booking your dream place. Once the date is finalized with your venues then it is time to start moving forward with the rest of your vendors.

  1. Wedding Photographer

groomsmenFind a photographer that will match your style and the vision that you have for your wedding. You need to make sure that you click really well with your wedding photographer. You will spend a lot of time with him or her during the engagement photo session and during the whole wedding day. A wedding photographer is one of the few vendors that is with you almost every single minute of your wedding day so it is important that your personalities mesh.

A good wedding photographer is also a great resource for recommendations of other vendors/locations and services. Remember, most wedding photographers end up working with a lot of different vendors at various venues and have a great impartial insight on people they might have worked with in the past.

I love referring other vendors and have started listing local services and venues as an aid in your research going forward.

  1. Wedding dress

In some cases the style of your wedding dress can dictate the theme and the colors of the wedding. Make sure to start thinking about the dress sooner than later. Also some wedding dressdresses are made to order, and you need to allow for the time of any alterations and many dress fittings.

Look for something you feel comfortable in and remember to trust your own intuition. Keep your shopping party to a minimum so that you don’t get overwhelmed with too many opinions. Remember you are the one that will be wearing it and looking at photos of your dress for years to come so the customer to please is you and no one else. Don’t worry about fit initially when trying on dresses, as a good seamstress should be capable of making nay necessary adjustments.

  1. Music

Reserve music for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. Music will dictate the mood of your party for sure. You can go with a band, DJ or a string quartet. This is one of the most fun services to select because it means you get to go out to their live gigs as see how they perform in person. Look at their schedule and see if you can drop in on a reception or ask what would be the best way to see them live. You can also request videos of their past performances. This way you will get the best sense of the mood and atmosphere during your wedding reception.

  1. Officiant

You need someone to marry you. Well technically speaking. I have known of people that use a friend as an “officiant” at their ceremony and then go to the courthouse afterwards to make it official. There are definitely different ways to go about getting the legal side done.

Will you be having a religious wedding? Will the officiant need to be of a certain denomination? If you and your spouse are of different religious backgrounds you can also look into performing a blended or mixed religious ceremony where portions of each tradition or faith are merged together. That can end up being a very unique and beautiful expression of your shared devotion and respect for one another.

  1. Stationary

wedding invitationsSave the dates and invitations are the first things your guests will see. Those things set the tone for your wedding. Don’t forget to order stationary for you wedding day. It can include many different things in it, such as:

  • Save the dates 
  • Wedding invitation
  • Engagement party invitations
  • Bridal party invitations
  • RSVP cards
  • Reception card
  • Response card
  • Directions
  • Accommodation card
  • Weekend itinerary
  • Wedding events itinerary
  • Order of service/Ceremony booklet
  • Wedding program
  • Place cards
  • Escort Cards
  • Table Numbers
  • Menus
  • Inner envelope
  • Outer envelope
  • Belly bands (or invitation wrapper)
  • Postage
  • Thank you cards
  • Change of address card
  1. Flowers

There are a lot of options for florists these days and it seems the selections can span from simple to the extravagant. There are even wooden flowers you can get that look beautiful and last forever!

This is where your overall theming will come into play as you tie your style between the venue, dress, and decorations. Your style will determine which florist you go with as some specialize in tall, lush centerpieces and others in modern, minimalist arrangements.

  1. Wedding cake

wedding cakeYou need to decide on the cake style and type. Traditional cake, cupcake, signature desert, or maybe you want to have a sweets/candy table. There are many options out here.

You can have cookies and ice cream bar, cotton candy stand, berry parfait station, doughnuts, s’mores, cookies and milk, cake pops, cookie shots, and there are so many more ideas.


  1. Rings

If you are getting custom made wedding bands, make sure to order them in the timely manner. Jewelers need time to make them. And if your jeweler is popular and busy there also could be an extra wait time.

There are some gorgeous options out there now in brass, mahogany, copper, and sterling silver. It seems with the onset of Etsy that the at-home artisan market has increased exponentially allowing us amazing choices of custom beautiful rings from non-traditional materials.

Artificially made diamonds such as Moissanite are also an excellent choice as the cost is reasonable and they are literally made to be flawless. There is also a nice ethical bonus as you don’t have to worry about whether they were sourced from a conflict region or not.

  1. Decor

And now you get to choose your chairs, linens, backdrops and dinnerware. Again, by choosing your style in the beginning we now have a framework to follow when selecting our decor. We are also keeping in mind the budget that we decided in step 3. This is where a wedding planner would be helpful in curating some options for you so the choices don’t seem overwhelming.

  1. Hair and make up

And finally don’t forget to book your make up artist and hair dresser. They will come over to your bridal suite and pamper you on the morning of your wedding. This will make for a less stressful and less hectic preparation portion of your day.

This can also be a friend or a relative in the business who wants to help out of course, but make sure you make arrangements with plenty of notice as everybody has busy lives and there is nothing worse than a last minute emergency right before the day of your wedding.

By methodically working through these steps you can make sure to have the best chance at a memorable and exciting wedding with minimal stress. Always remember to thank your friends and family for their support and assistance as sometimes they do more than we realize.

And yes it is a momentous occasion,  but if you keep the spirit of fun in mind and remember nothing will ever be perfect ,you will set yourself up to enjoy your time and be in the moment!


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