Ask the Expert

Exclusive tips and expert tricks from Colorado’s wedding professionals. Get inside the heads of the top wedding planners, photographers, stylists and more to help make your wedding day unforgettable.

DJ Drake Dawson

Q: How many songs should the couple choose and how many should they leave to the discretion of the entertainer? 

A: Sometimes I only get the key songs for the ceremony pieces like the processional song, first dance, cake cutting, etc.  And then some nuptials send me a 3 page list of songs.  Hurt me why don’t cha!  I ask for a short list of artists and favorite songs to get a feel for the couple’s musical tastes.  Then I ask for a short list of songs they absolutely can’t stand.  By the time we have met  once or twice, discussed where the couples’ family and friends are traveling from for the wedding, I’ve got a pretty good idea on what they want to hear.  I really like to surprise the wedding party with songs that hit home that they may not have thought of; That’s doing my homework.  Most dance portions of the evening last 1-2.5 hours and each song is roughly 3 minutes long so that means we’ll be able to fit in 20 songs per hour if we are lucky.  Couples should keep that in mind when compiling a list.

dj drake 2

Emma and Grace Bridal Studio

Q: How would you suggest brides research their dress options before shopping for the dress? 

A: It is always great for brides to look around on Pinterest or through magazines to get an idea of what style they would like. However, when doing this, it is important to remember that dresses in pictures will look completely different on various body types. With that in mind, we suggest that brides stay open to different silhouettes and start by deciding how they would like to feel (i.e. romantic, boho, sophisticated, sexy), and then trust their bridal stylist to assist in picking dresses that will look best on their body type since dresses look completely different on the hanger.

Photo: Brumley & Wells Wedding Photography

Photo: Brumley & Wells Wedding Photography

Adrienne  Gardner of The Gardner Effect Event Planning

Q: What is the best advice you can give a bride who is tackling the wedding planning all on her own?

A: Start with your budget, take the time to break it down per category.  Vendors, decor, reception etc.  This needs to be done before you start looking for vendors.  Decide on what your priorities are.  The food? The entertainment? The look? Then budget accordingly.  

Photo: Connie Whitlock Photography

Photo: Connie Whitlock Photography

 

Jackie Zoeller of  Selah Photography

Q:  If the bride and groom don’t want to miss a big chunk of their reception, what timeline do you suggest for taking wedding photos?

A: A first look alleviates most of missing out on the reception but not all couples are interested in that. If they aren’t, I recommend keeping the family photo list short and simple alongside of making sure it’s organized and efficient. Inform the family ahead of time where we will be and let them know how important it is to be on time and ready. This will save a lot of time. We, in general, photograph quite efficiently. Unless the couple wants to go to many locations, missing part of the reception or cocktail hour doesn’t leave too large of a dent. If this is a big concern, talk with your photographers while interviewing them and ask about how they photograph on the day of the wedding. Everyone is different.

Photo: Jackie Zoeller, Selah Photography

Photo: Jackie Zoeller, Selah Photography

Sara Brown of Sara Brown Weddings

Q: What is the best thing a bride can do to keep from going crazy while planning her wedding?

A: There’s no denying that wedding planning can be a stressful and overwhelming time. Budgets, family dynamics, expectations and to-do lists have a funny way of all colliding shortly after a proposal. My advice on how to stay sane is to remember these two words: choose joy. Choose to be on the same team with your partner throughout the process. Compromise. Laugh. Celebrate wedding planning wins with drinks on some patio somewhere. Continue to date and enjoy time with your partner. Remember that when the confetti settles, your marriage is what will be left, so nurture your relationship. Make a conscious decision to choose joy and thankfulness throughout the process, and you’ll have a blast.

Photo: Lori Hedrick Photography

Photo: Lori Hedrick Photography

Gina Malefyt of Organically You Events

Q: When is it best to DIY and when should it be left to the professionals?

A: Ah, this is an important question. I totally understand wanting to make things and add your personal touch to the wedding. My general rule of thumb is, if you can have it finished 2 weeks before your wedding, then you can do it. If it is something that has to be done in the weeks or days before your wedding, or even on the wedding day, hire a professional to take care of that for you. It is never a good idea to have a family member or friend do photography, planning, food, video, DJ or decor. Everyone you love should be relaxed and enjoying your very special wedding day.

Organically You

Photo Credit: Sara Lynn Photographic

Alline Arguelles of  Alpenglow Beauty

Q: What are your best makeup tips?

A: Invest In Your Skin Care. 1 year to 6 months before your wedding is the best time to make sure your skin care routine is current and best for your skin care concerns. Taking the time to create a smooth canvas will make your wedding day cosmetics looks their best. Book a facial and review your skin care routine with an expert.

Wake Up Fresh. Wash away all traces of your rehearsal dinner makeup and apply a thin layer of an aloe based face mask right before bed. We love Astara Golden Flame Hydration Mask. You will wake up with hydrated, plump and radiant skin.

Shop For Gloss. Lip gloss is the only product you really need on your wedding day. Your makeup artist will apply all your products with long-wear techniques. So find a lip gloss that you love and let one of your bridesmaids be in charge of touching up your pout every hour or so.

Definitely Do Lashes. Whether you go with lash extensions, a few temporary cluster lashes or a simple strip lash you will be so happy when you see your photos. The intensity of the lashes gives the perfect lush yet natural look that every bride desires.

Photo: Once Like a Spark

Photo: Once Like a Spark

 

Tricia Turpenoff of The Wedding Connection

Q: How would you prioritize planning? What should be done first and what can wait until later?

A: Step one is to build your guest list. Do NOT pick a date, choose your venue or buy a dress until you have built your guest list. Determining your guest list before choosing a date prevents you from scheduling your wedding on a day your loved ones cannot attend. Most importantly, building your guest list first determines your budget, which determines your venue. Activities that can wait until the last minute include guest gifts, table assignments, wedding party gifts, and alterations.

Photo courtesy of The Wedding Connection

Photo courtesy of The Wedding Connection

Gina Comminello, Denver Life contributing writer and owner of The Look Salon

Q: How can brides avoid smearing or having to re-apply makeup throughout the wedding festivities?

A: Primers are a must for shadows, lips and face for long wear. I also suggest waterproofing your eyes by applying gel liners (B.YOU! Custom Cosmetics makes a great one). For long-wearing lips, apply a coordinating lip-color gel lip liner then fill in the entire lip.  Then, place a light coat of lipstick blot with tissue. With tissue still on lips apply a light amount of loose powder with a powder brush on top. Remove tissue and apply a second layer of lipstick. Finally, I truly recommend eyelash extensions, they are a beautiful extension of one’s own eyelashes and a sure way to enhance the eyes!

Styling: Gina Comminello; Photo: Paul Miller

Styling: Gina Comminello; Photo: Paul Miller

Felicia Marti of Felicia Marti Photography 

Q: What is your favorite moment to capture at the wedding festivities that couples don’t expect?

A: One thing I continually hear from my clients is how much fun it is to see the reactions to festivities throughout their reception. Sometimes the moment is the look on the mother of the bride’s face as she watches the father-daughter dance; other times it’s the reactions of the bride and groom to their dear friend’s toasts! These moments are so unpredictable, unique and I absolutely love to wait at the ready for them.   Snapping these photos helps us remember exactly how we felt even after the words have started to fade.

Photo: Felicia Marti Photography

Photo: Felicia Marti Photography

Sarah Johnson of The Vintage Bride

Q: How should the bride choose a bouquet that compliments her dress?

A: Large bouquets can make a statement, but remember that you don’t want it to overpower your dress!  Choose a bouquet that speaks to the spirit or theme of your wedding and consider the size and how it will look in your wedding photos.  Remember that your bouquet is one of the key elements of your wedding that can be uniquely you. Including a locket with a special photo, pinning on your grandmothers brooch or even gifting  special charms for your bridesmaids to attach to their bouquets are some different ways to create lasting memories through your flowers.  You might even consider silk arrangements that last a lifetime so you can turn your bouquet into a centerpiece after your big day – this can also be a fun bridesmaid gift.

Photo: Krista Hoiland

Photo: Krista Hoiland

Meehan Fee of Telluride Unveiled

Q: How would you prioritize planning? What should be done first and what can wait until later? 

A: Create your budget and your guest list before all else!  It will dictate which venues you can consider, and which vendors can be a part of your day.   Book the vendors that can only take one wedding a day (planners, photographers, videographers and your venues) and then book the vendors that may be able to service multiple weddings in a day (pastry chefs, florists, hair and makeup).

Photo courtesy of Telluride Unveiled

Erika Thomas of High Point Creamery

Q: What do you think about a Groom’s alternative to wedding dessert?

A: If you want to do an alternative “groom’s cake” dessert, make sure it’s an alternative. Root beer floats, ice cream and sundae bars are great ways to show your personality and cool down your guests before they heat up the dance floor!

Photo: Stephanie Powell

Photo Credit: Stephanie Powell

Holli Owen of Telluride Ski Resort Weddings & Special Events

Q: What are the three most vital pieces of information the couple should ask the venue?

A:Doing your research prior to booking the venue would be my number one piece of advice. Make sure the venue that you choose is professional and read other couples reviews!

I would recommend couples absolutely visit their venues prior to booking.  It is important to really have a sense of the space and make sure it feels really comfortable and perfect from the get go.  When connecting with venues, your first impression is key.  If the venue takes forever in getting back to you, then this is probably a good representation of the experience you will have throughout the planning process.  All planning materials should be straight forward and the pricing should be clear and easy to understand.

Make sure to ask about hidden fees and any surprises that they could be hit with down the road.  Take the contracting process seriously and make sure you read venue contracts thoroughly!  Make sure you include all service fees and taxes in your overall budget – these can be up to 40% of the final bill so don’t miss this in the budgeting process!

Photo Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort

Photo Credit: Ben Eng

Elizabeth Marberry of Wedding Dance Coach

Q: What tips can you give the bride and groom for their first dance?

A: Most importantly, try to keep your wedding dance around 3 minutes.  The key is to keep your guests engaged and entertained the entire time, so keep it short, sweet and impressive! I also think it’s critical to have your song picked out by your first lesson.  Or if you are not sure, bring in your top 2 or 3 songs and your instructor can help guide you to the song that would work best for dance.  Another tip that couples sometimes don’t think of is to bring your wedding shoes to your lessons.  This is especially important for the ladies!  Dancing in heels is totally different than dancing in flats and you don’t want any surprises on your big day, so bring your shoes or comparable shoes if you are worried about marking them up.  Men can also benefit from rehearsing in their dress shoes.  We find that many men’s shoes are slippery on a wood floor, so it’s always a good idea to take them for a test drive.

 

Photo Courtesy of Wedding Dance Coach

Photo Courtesy of Wedding Dance Coach

Mark Christopher of Mark Christopher Weddings and Events

Q: If you want your wedding reception to be adults-only, how do you tell your guests not to bring their children?

A: Doing so tactfully is important. Being direct is usually the most effective, but some guests may feel put-off by stating the reception is for the adults. Invitation etiquette would state to only address the invite to the adults. This should indicate to folks that the children are not invited. Providing childcare can help get the point across that children will be cared for separately. We like being subtle, and then if an RSVP comes in with kids, reaching out to those folks by phone to let them know the invitation was addressed only to the adults on purpose.

Photo Credit: Autumn Burke Photography

Photo Credit: Autumn Burke Photography

 

 

Felicia Marti of Felicia Marti Photography

Q: Any special tips on wedding photos or how to find the right photographer for you?

A:Carve out time in your busy schedule to have an engagement session before the wedding! You will not regret having the experience of working with them before, and you’ll know if it’s the right fit for your wedding day. Look at the photos from your session and give your photographer feedback on what you loved, and what you didn’t care for. I know I love that chance to work with my couples before hand, because it gives them that reassurance of how smooth and fun photography is going to be on their wedding day.

Photo Credit: Felicia Marti Photography

Photo Credit: Felicia Marti Photography

 

 

Elise Seagren of Revel & Bloom

Q: What should couples keep in mind when choosing their venue?

A: First and foremost be sure your venue meets your logistical needs, such as capacity and availability. Then focus on how the venue will contribute to the overall feel of your wedding. For example, if you want a black tie affair for your special day, steer clear of a more rustic venue and look at swanky restaurants, hotels, and other private venues that will compliment your style. Also pay attention to how much you will need to add to the space to make it tailored to your style; the venue should be something that will easily reflect your vision for your wedding day!

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Poussot Photography

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Poussot Photography

 

 

Cydney Johnson of Stiletto Events

Q: If you must, how do you trim your invite list?

A: Make an A list and a B list and in some cases a C list. Those who go on the A list are immediate family and those you’ve spoken with and/or seen within the last 6 months. B list should consist of those a couple have spoken with or seen in the last 6-12 months and C list would be those who you haven’t seen or spoken to in over a year.

Photo Credit: Vanessa Kruse Photography

Photo Credit: Vanessa Kruse Photography

 

 

Sarah Ansley of Ansley Event Design

Q:What is the biggest mistake most brides make?

A: Planning their wedding for someone else, whether that be a mother, friend or another guest. This is your and your fiance’s day so make it unique to you through your decorations, ceremony readings and music played at your reception. That person who wants your wedding to go a certain way may not love your wedding but at the end of the day you will and that’s what is important.

Photo Credit: Kara Mullane Photography

Photo Credit: Kara Mullane Photography

 

 

Jody Zorn of Zorn Photography

Q:What is your favorite moment to capture at weddings?

A:I actually love the getting ready photos. Being married myself I remember what it felt like to be putting the dress on for the real moment, and not just another fitting. That’s when my wedding day became “real” for me. And of course I love capturing the couple all by themselves right after the wedding. The pressure of making it down the aisle without tripping is off and you’re married! It’s so fun walking around and capturing the couple just having fun together before getting to the reception.

Photo Credit: Zorn Photography

Photo Credit: Zorn Photography