WTOP’s Wedding Week: How to start planning your big day

Wedding Week on WTOP is a 5-part series that explores wedding planning, budgeting and more on air and online. This story is part 1.

It's Wedding Week at WTOP!

If you’re recently engaged, you may have been banging your head against the wall, procrastinating the planning. But launching those plans can be easy.

You do not have to conform to the traditional tropes of the hourlong ceremony and tossing of the bouquet. Couples these days are ditching the traditional wedding and adding more unique touches.

“I haven’t seen a garter toss in years, even pre-pandemic,” wedding planner Alison Golt with Cherry Blossom Weddings and Events told WTOP.

Instead, couples are turning to add things that represent them into the party.

Golt talked about how one couple that loved pop culture.

“They mentioned ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘What We Do In The Shadows’, the TV show,” Golt said. “They wanted to pull elements from each one whether it’s colors or feel of the event.”

Katherine Baselice, a D.C. resident told WTOP she’s marrying her fiance in Loudoun County, Virginia, in September. The couple wanted a fire pit for their wedding.

“My fiance told me he loved me for the first time while we were sitting around a fire pit,” Baselice said. “So that was a really important feature to us.”

For my wedding, I opted for an hors d’oeuvres from my childhood roots not commonly seen at a wedding: boiled peanuts (it’s a Georgia thing, we are the Goober State).

My wife, Leslie, and I also wanted the focus to be on food, booze and boogying. We walked down the aisle to the unconventional Grateful Dead, and had a seven-minute ceremony so we could all get back to the party.

We also had been in plenty of weddings and were tired of the matching outfit of groomsmen and bridesmaid. We instead told our wedding part to wear whatever they wanted with no requirements, and the pictures with each turned out exceptionally.

One thing seemingly common among the clients of Cherry Blossom Weddings and Events is the expansive and thoughtful guest list.

“Every time you have a conversation or an interview with a couple, they’re like, ‘I want my friends and family to feel like they are the center of the event.’ Like, ‘I want them to feel special. I know the day is technically about us, but I want it to be about them,’” Golt said.

‘Too many cooks’

But with a lot of family and friends gathering for your big day, you will get a lot of input on what should go into your wedding.

“When there’s too many cooks in the kitchen, it becomes inefficient on getting things done,” said Alexandra Perry, owner of Cherry Blossom Weddings.

She said they try to work with one ultimate decision maker, or the happy couple.

If family is looking to be helpful, delegation often works, according to the planners.

“I think each person finds a passion in the planning as well,” Golt said.

This advice was particularly helpful for my wedding — my in-laws picked the wine, my mom picked the dining set and my wife the wedding registry.

Lukert receives some help pinning his boutonniere in place on his wedding day.
Lukert receives some help pinning his boutonniere in place on his wedding day. (Courtesy Zachary Dailey)

Meanwhile, Baselice has even had to weigh disagreements with her wedding planner.

“She’s been doing this for a very long time. So do I take that advice? Because she’s been doing it a long time, or do I hold on to the vision I had because it’s important for us,” said the prospective bride. “Ultimately, we went with what we want to do.”

Pick and choose the hill to die on, like I did when I was adamant about having a live band.

When to call in the professionals

While planning your own wedding can be fulfilling, it can also be time consuming and it may be better to call in the professionals.

Just married, Luke and Leslie Lukert grin at each other as they link arms.
Just married, Luke and Leslie Lukert grin at each other as they link arms.(Courtesy Zachary Dailey)

Cherry Blossom Weddings and Events recommends spending around 10% of your budget on a planner. One couple needed one right after they got engaged.

“Two attorneys getting married, they have absolutely no time and they need that planner right out of the gate,” Perry said.

Most couples, though, try to plan themselves but call a wedding planner after “realizing that it took the entire weekend” to plan one portion, he said.

If you do plan on booking a wedding planner, Perry’s best advice is to be vocal.

“I do tell my couples if there’s frustrations or something happening, and they’re afraid to speak up, I can fix this now,” Perry said. “But if you don’t tell me and communicate with me now, I can’t fix it after the wedding.”

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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