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10 Tips to Help You Plan the Perfect Wedding

Celebrity wedding planner Yifat Oren shared her wisdom and these priceless wedding planning tips with us last year. But since now's the time to welcome all the newly engaged ladies to the bridal hood, I wanted to share the advice again. Keep these tips in mind as you journey toward the aisle, and your special day will surely be as magical as you've imagined!

1. Avoid Clichés, Do the Unexpected - Think outside the box and keep wedding guests on their toes by integrating new and original approaches to all aspects of your wedding. This includes everything from the type of food service you choose (plated courses, tasting menu portions, family style, stations, etc.), to the music and entertainment, and the flow of the evening. Who says your first dance has to happen as soon as you enter the reception? Or that your wedding dress has to be white?

2. Please the Palette - Bid adieu to boring hotel fare and choose a catering option that represents you and your groom. Give wedding guests a real taste of you by incorporating some of your favorite dishes, family recipes, and meals you love to cook as a couple. You'll find that most hotels and caterers are happy to get creative with you.

3. Surf for Inspiration - Take advantage of all the unique resources available online. To get your creative juices flowing, peruse some of the design blogs & online magazines out there (Remodelista, Cococozy wedding style, Lonny Mag), as well as top wedding blogs and apps that let you plan on the go. When I look for interesting props and special vintage or handmade touches, I often troll around Etsy and eBay.

4. Choose Local - Using local products whenever possible is a must these days. You’ll add an element of authenticity while supporting local businesses. Fill wedding guest welcome bags with locally produced treats, or place a handcrafted truffle or chocolate from a local artisan on each guest’s pillow at turndown. Such elements personalize the wedding experience and introduce the guests to their surroundings and the local delicacies.

5. Pick Memorable Music - Music will evoke emotions and memories for everyone, so choose wisely. Think about how you want to feel and what mood you want to create because the options are endless. Bluegrass, Dixie, Zydeco, string and wind ensembles, Latin guitar trio... Music also provides a great transition. For a destination wedding in Harbour Island Bahamas, we had a full blown Junkanoo lead guests from the ceremony to the reception. It was outrageous, authentic and totally unforgettable!

6. Include Guests in the Experience - Granted, your wedding is all about you (and your groom), but it’s nice to design and plan your wedding with the guest experience in mind. Provide a note with a complete itinerary for out of town guests, and include times and addresses for all applicable events. Perhaps even include some of your favorite places to visit and eat. When it comes to the ceremony, consider asking certain guests to offer short readings or blessings. This participatory atmosphere will make your wedding memorable for all.

7. Treasure Trove - Visit your local flea market for decor inspiration and to find unique items you won’t find anywhere else. Trust me, you don’t need to be a vintage-loving bride to reap the benefits of a flea-market find. I’ve left flea markets with treasures galore for bottom-line prices that add a groove factor to any wedding. I look for props to decorate tabletops, containers for eclectic centerpieces, mix-n-match vintage glassware, dessert and cake platters, even antique trunks to use as coffee tables in lounge set ups. What can I say? I’m a scavenger at heart.

8. A Late Night Treat - As the music winds down and the effects of three martinis have started to taper off, I realize it’s midnight and I am so hungry. What do you guys like to eat late night? Anything you love from the streets of NYC (hot dogs?), Chicago (deep dish pizza?), Paris (crepes?), or Los Angeles (Tacos!)? A little late-night satisfaction will be a treat to your small group of friends and family who are in it for the long haul.

9. Personalize with Paper - I have an outright paper fetish, and there is so much you can do with paper items beyond the invitation. In the past, we’ve used skeleton keys attached to vintage inspired tags, lavender bunches, Capiz shells, wood veneer paper, and Aspen Branch paper (for an Aspen wedding). And don’t forget the personal touches on reception menus, bar signs that list specialty cocktails, and programs. Every element should tie together in a beautiful way.

10. Floral Fantasies - Don’t be mundane! Try to forget every cliché rose centerpiece you’ve seen (not that I have anything against roses, but I prefer the English Garden variety) and use interesting elements. Wildflowers, blossoming branches (when in season), eco-chic succulents, fresh fruit (have you ever seen how stunning the inside of a kiwi is? So are pomegranates and blood oranges), cotton… Let your creativity run wild!

If this isn't your first time at the wedding rodeo, what tips for brides would you add to the list above? What's the most helpful piece of advice you received while wedding planning? Share it below!

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