Do you have questions about your package, the venue or wedding planning in general?
Click the “Ask A Planner” button below to submit your questions and one of our planners will respond within 48 hours by posting the answer below.
This tool is totally anonymous so you can feel safe asking us anything and getting our sincere response that will hopefully help you as well as other couple’s who may have the same question.
You don’t know what you don’t know …so reading through the Q&A on this page can be super helpful and a way for all of our couples to collectively learn from each other.
BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION
If your question is about …
… then contact your planner directly.
This tool is for quick answers to general questions.
I know that some kinds of tables and chairs are included in my package but where can I see what those look like?
Different types of tables and chairs are included in different packages.
I put a quick summary below for each package and as well as a link to our Pinterest Board that illustrates the variety of tables available (either included in your package or something you can add as an upgrade).
Contact your planner if you need any additional clarification based on the package you selected.
I am going to be really busy with work for the next few months and my fiance will be traveling. Can we go ahead and order our cake now?
Sure! You can go ahead and order your wedding cake now if that works best for you. Just contact your planner directly and she will connect you with our bakery to order cake samples, which is the first step in the process.
How do I narrow down my guest list? My fiancé has a huge family and we’re not sure how to prioritize guests or what to expect in terms of turn out.
Creating your guest list can feel a bit overwhelming when you're first starting out. It can also be tricky when you are trying to balance the number of guests allotted for your side of the family vs. your fiancé's.
I suggest giving these two articles CJ shared on our blog a quick read, then giving our 1-2-3 Guest List Edit process a try this weekend. Good luck!
Has anyone let their bridesmaids choose their own dresses? I realized I care more about the colors of the bouquets than the dresses themselves and am thinking about letting my bridesmaids choose their own dresses in a neutral shade. Is this a good idea?
First, let me just say that I love that you know that your flowers are the bigger priority for you. If you really, truly don’t care about the color or style of the dress your ladies may choose, then I say go for it! BUT ...you do need to provide some guidance for them. CJ shared a bit more on the topic in a recent blog post that might give you some other factors to consider.
Ask CJ: Should I let my bridesmaids choose their own dresses?
The thought of doing a seating chart makes me a little stressed. Do I need to make place cards for each guest?
I know it feels a little stressful to make a seating chart. But it is 100% worth it to take the time to do this for your guests because it will actually relieve a TON of stress for your guests (more on that below).
First let me clarify that a seating chart and place cards are two separate things. A seating chart will tell your guests which table to go to while a place card is used to designate which seat at the table belongs to a specific guest. And the good news is, you only need to assign your guests to a table. You don't necessarily have to provide place cards as well unless you want to OR if you have a formal, plated dinner service.
There are two reasons why we are such big fans of a seating chart:
There is always a little bit of social anxiety at weddings or special occasions.
Folks are dressed up and they are around people they may not know that well and want to make a good impression. There is also a sense of etiquette that goes with weddings and people want to say and do the "right" thing. Table assignments help put your guests at ease right from the start. They know where to go and where they can put their jacket or purse. They can see who else will be at the table and relax because they don't have to worry all through the ceremony and how to scope out and find the best seat at the reception.
Another reason assigning your guests to a table is a huge benefit is that it can save you money.
If you allow guests to seat themselves, they will spread out and not make the most efficient use of the tables, chairs and place settings. This usually means you need to provide 10 - 15% more seating than your actual guest list, which is more tables, chairs, linens, china and centerpieces than you would otherwise need. There is an additional fee to do this here at CJ's Off the Square. Speak with your planner for details.
At CJ’s Off the Square, we are very conscious of space and always want to make the most of each floor plan. Having a seating chart for your guests will really help with the overall flow of the day and save you money in the long run. It’s a little bit of work on the front end, but 100% worth it on your wedding day.
I am really on the fence about having a first look with my fiancé before our ceremony. What do you think?
A "first look" is 100% your call. There is no right or wrong way to approach this. But I'd invite you to explore why having one or not having one is important to you.
Is it simply because not seeing each other is a tradition or you (or someone close to you) feel that is what you are supposed to do?
Or conversely, do you feel like everyone says you should do it nowadays, but it doesn't feel true to you?
Does your fiancé have a preference?
As you ponder what works best for you, here are some things to help you think through if a first look is or isn't right for your wedding day:
A first look can be a very special, private moment that is shared just between the two of you (and maybe your photographer). It can help you connect with each other, ease some of those wedding day nerves, celebrate how amazing you both look all dolled up for the big day, and give you a few moments to remind yourselves why you are getting married BEFORE all the guests arrive and the momentum of the day starts to take over.
Some of our clients have even exchanged private vows with each other during their first look, and then opting for more traditional vows for the ceremony in front of friends and family. This can be very romantic and personal, but not everyone's cup of tea.
Flow of the day/schedule
A first look can help you get to your reception faster. We would schedule this along with wedding party photos BEFORE your ceremony, and then only have family photos left to do after the ceremony. Which means, you get to relax and start celebrating sooner.
Not all traditions need to be observed
The tradition of not seeing the bride before the ceremony has pretty shady origins (especially for women). It's based on a time in history when pre-arranged marriages were common, women had few rights and men held all of the power in social and legal arrangements.
The father of the bride usually brokered the marriage contract with little to no input from his daughter. The couple would have rarely, if ever, met prior to their wedding day. The idea of not allowing the groom to see the bride before the ceremony was established to help prevent the groom from backing out of the deal if he didn't like the look of his bride. Ouch!
The concept of the bridal veil worn over the bride's face is also tied to this tradition of limiting the visibility of the women so as not to give the groom any reason not to move ahead with the marriage. Many very forward thinking brides still love the look of a veil. And while it's origins aren't exactly empowering for women, it has morphed into something that is very romantic, feminine and quintessentially bridal.
Likewise, you may feel like not seeing each other before the ceremony does have meaning for you that is in complete alignment with your values. So no judgement here. Just some food for thought!
Whatever you decide, we just want you to like your reasons. Let your planner know what works best and we will work it into your wedding day timeline for a seamless wedding day schedule that honors your personal priorities.
If you are leaning towards having a first look, here are some ideas for where to have it here at the venue:
Are you able to show a video/presentation outside where the guests at their tables will be able to see it?
We have lots of videos of the venue showing inside the house, our outdoor pavilion and the garden. Some of my favorites:
Visit our video page for more videos including some of our favorite featured weddings.
My friend is a professional photographer, but they've never photographed a wedding before, is it a good idea to hire them for my wedding?
I think you are asking a layered question. First, you're asking if it's a good idea to hire someone to shoot your wedding who is a professional, but doesn't have any experience in that field. Second, you also mention this person is a friend. I also want to share some thoughts about hiring friends so that no matter what you ultimately decide, you feel confident in your choice.
Let's start with if you should hire your friend, who is a professional photographer, to shoot your wedding, even though they have never shot a wedding before. If I were in your shoes, I would say no, it's not a good idea.
Just because someone has skill with a camera and may even shoot professionally, it does not mean that they understand the flow of a wedding day, the emotions involved, the traditions, or how to work alongside your other vendors. Weddings are a team effort with lots of moving pieces. You want to work with someone who knows what to expect, has a back up plan when plans change and isn't afraid to wrangle your wedding party and family into those group photos (trust me, that alone is a true gift!). They may have shot the cover of Vouge, but that doesn't mean that they can handle an 8+ hour day of being on their feet, jumping from one emotional moment to the next, loading their camera on the fly, backing up photos throughout the day. You want to work with someone who knows the ropes and will fit right in to ensure your day is captured in the way you want.
Wedding photography is a very specific niche within a broad profession. I'm not saying that your friend can't or won't do a good job, but I would not recommend taking chances. If your wedding photos aren't a big priority for you, then it might be worth it to you. But personally, it's a risk I wouldn't be willing to take with something as important as my wedding images.
So now let's talk about if it is wise to hire a friend as a vendor for your wedding, regardless of their profession.
Hiring friends is a mixed bag, especially when it comes to having them as part of your vendor team on your wedding day. A few things to consider:
Bottom line: tread carefully when it comes to working with personal friends in any sort of professional capacity on your wedding day if you genuinely want them to be a guest, or if the service that is being considered is a high priority to you. It's not worth risking a friendship just to get a "deal."
At CJ's Off the Square, you are welcome to work with the photographer of your choice. So ultimately, it's your decision on what is a good idea or not. But if you'd like to explore your options, we have a great network of excellent professional photographers who specialize in weddings and would be happy to refer you to a few different folks who might be the perfect fit.