The Pros Know!

Got questions? Six top wedding professionals on everything from keeping bridesmaids sober to who wears the boutonnière.

Gaige Clark, owner, Spruce

You’ll need to know the number of guests and the size of the tables where they’ll be seated. For example, 300 guests might be broken down into 30 tables of 10 guests each. Arrangements should be scaled to fit the size of your tables. Your florist can help you with scale and the number of arrangements you’ll need. Traditionally the bride and bridesmaids are the only members of the wedding party to carry bouquets. But think about how many family members are attending and decide who is wearing corsages, boutonnières, and carrying other hand-held bouquets.

When interviewing potential florists make sure to ask specific questions about his or her work. Find out how many weddings your florist has produced and ask for testimonials from other brides. Once you’ve found someone you like, arrange a sit-down meeting and review his or her portfolio. Check out samples of arrangements from their previous events. And most importantly, ask the florist for a detailed proposal that includes the bridal party, the ceremony and reception.

I recommend you see a sample of your centerpieces and the types of flowers you will be using for your bridal party. Have the florist show you the flower combination of your bridal bouquet.

The cost of all this depends on how lavish your tastes are, but for a small wedding of around 100 guests the prices can range from $1,000 up to $7,000. For something larger, say 300 guests, flower arrangements can cost anywhere from $7,000 up to $30,000.

Chef Josie, restaurant consultant

Be clear with your caterer and make sure to specifically communicate any ideas you have. Your caterer needs to know how many people are attending and what your budget is before getting started. Talk about the type of gathering you’ve been imagining. Do you picture having a beach-side bonfire with a small group of friends or are you thinking about a swanky event with caviar, foie gras and champagne poppin’ all around?  To get you started thinking about a menu, a few of the classic dishes on the wedding circuit would have to be beef Wellington, filet au poivre, poached chicken breast with morels and creamy polenta, poached salmon with dill hollandaise and asparagus, and as crazy as it sounds, lasagna in all forms is still hanging in there.

As a caterer I can tell you it’s our job to make it happen. So make sure the caterer you’ve chosen agrees with this approach and has the confidence to make decisions. It is incredibly important to communicate about dietary restrictions, especially food allergies. All caterers can accommodate most requests with enough lead-time. Vegetarian menu options are standard but vegan, kosher, diabetic friendly, gluten-free, etc. needs to be squared away in advance. You don’t want your vegan guests stuck with salad and the crudités bar. It’s a good idea to keep your menu simple. Include a protein, a vegetable, some type of starch and sauce. That way most people can simply omit a component of the meal if they want to, “I’ll take the roast chicken, no stuffing and the steamed vegetables, sauce on the side.”

Anne Heap, owner, Pink Cake Box

Before ordering a wedding cake, you should meet with the baker, taste the cake, and see a portfolio of work.  Your next steps would be selecting a design and flavors that fit into the your budget. Cake toppers are definitely not necessary, especially if you adorn your cake with fresh or sugar flowers. Your baker should be able to provide these and some may even provide non-edible toppers like Crystal Monograms. Speaking of monograms, they are a great way to personalize your cake.

Some trends we’re seeing in wedding cakes are using the textiles and invitations as inspiration.  Examples would be incorporating a damask design, or an ornate monogram onto a cake.  Cupcakes are also very popular right now. They add whimsy and fun to a wedding. I always encourage my clients to choose a cake that reflects the couple’s personality while keeping the reception’s design in mind. It’s important for the cake to be a cohesive part of the event. I find inspiration in invitations, flowers, the location of the wedding and the decor of the room.

If the wedding is quite large or the couple would like to cut down on costs, they can purchase a tiered cake to feed say 150 people, and then a back-up sheet cake to feed the rest of the guests.  Grooms cakes are also extremely popular right now and can be used to serve additional guests. Once you are ready to get the ball rolling I would recommend giving your baker six month’s lead-time.

Funky Lala, clothing designer

More important than following tradition is focusing on who you are as a couple. I take into account style, tastes, what you imagine your wedding to be, as well as their personal style and favorite colors. It’s important for lesbian couples to think about their identity. Unless they have a strict butch-femme dynamic, the worst thing you can do is try to fit a queer/lesbian couple into clothes designed with straight couples in mind. Many couples have strong ideas about how they want to look. The hard part is finding attire that fits their idea. Suits are especially difficult because men’s suits are not cut for a woman’s body.

I usually ask for a synopsis of the day. You should collect images from magazines of things you like and don’t like. Once I have a collection of images of dresses, suits, settings and other details that a couple likes I start choosing fabric swatches and creating sketches. I often see a clean butch/femme dynamic and really those are the easiest people to dress since the roles are so clearly identified and there are a plethora of images that communicate that vibe. But there are many options to consider outside of a suit and gown. If one bride is more femme but wouldn’t choose a gown she might want to consider a suit with very feminine touches. Anything is possible.

As far as dressing the rest of the wedding party, it’s as simple as identifying the overall theme of the event. I personally think it is ultra passé to make all bridesmaids wear the same dress. They are almost always miserable. After everyone has decided exactly what they want, it comes down to doing many, many fittings.

Rony Tennenbaum, jewelry designer

Even though traditional is timeless, a custom design can easily become a classic. I’ve had as many different requests from lesbian couples as there are ring styles out there. I’ve made the most beautiful delicate and feminine diamond bands and big, bold and harsh rings with daggers and black diamonds. Finding the right ring is all about collecting the right information about the person. Do you like basic or trendy, modern or traditional, younger looking or more heirloom-like?

Consider the metal before you go any further. Do you want to wear gold or platinum, silver or palladium? Believe it or not, a person’s skin tone can affect the look of a white metal versus a yellow metal on their finger, or the way one diamond will reflect better than another. Next choose the stone. Do they want to wear diamonds, color gemstones or a combination? Do you prefer a band without stones? Finally, it is important to discuss budget, though I believe every design can be suited to fit anyone’s budget.

A decade ago, wedding jewelry was basic and quite conservative. It’s only recently that that we are seeing bold statements in wedding rings; I’ve even seen skulls and crossbones on engagement rings. One recently popular style is the Oxygen Diamond. It is made of two half moon diamonds; one half is set in each ring, together they create a whole diamond that the couple shares. By far the most exquisite trend right now is color diamonds. They are as rare and unique as it gets. Diamonds come in blues, greens, reds, chocolates, oranges, purples, black, pinks and more. They make a stunning impression on anyone’s finger, whether as a central stone or just accenting beautifully on the sides. I’d keep my eye on those.


Kathryn Hamm, president,

Your budget, venue and guest list are the most critical elements in your wedding plan. You can’t really choose a venue without knowing the size of your guest list, nor can you book a venue without knowing how much you can afford. These three elements
affect everything else including catering options, timing, booking additional vendors and so on. I try to pay attention to some of the undercurrent issues which might influence the planning process. It’s a good thing
to talk to a planner and learn as much as you can about the entire process. It will save you  from unecessary planning expenses.

I begin planning sessions by seeking to understand the most important elements of  each bride’s ideas about her ceremony and reception. Where there are disagreements, I help you develop a plan for working through them. Most couples begin their wedding planning once they have an idea or tentative vision of how they want to celebrate. For couples who are unsure of what they want to do but know that they are interested in going to a state where there is some legal recognition, I can point them to our national database of gay-friendly vendors.

You should work with any vendor, gay or straight, with whom you feel comfortable. It’s always best to go with a seasoned, friendly professional. A gay-friendly vendor, even one who has yet to do a lesbian wedding, can be as effective as someone in the LGBT community. Open communication and clear expectations are really the most important factors. Someone who has worked with same-sex couples in the past will have fewer questions about “how this works” but any expert worth his or her salt can help a couple tailor their wedding to fit both their dreams and their budget.

If one bride’s parents won’t be attending or if she has a smaller family, it will help balance a bride with a bring-the-whole-fam-damily approach. Bigger is not always better. A smaller wedding and reception can be incredibly intimate and fun. For couples who disagree about the size of the guest list, I suggest a smaller ceremony and reception which meets your dreams as a couple, but invite your extended family to host a larger reception. That way they can invite whomever they wish. In my case, the guest list for the reception my parents threw was larger than the guest list for our wedding and we were surprised with the amount of acknowledgement, from my grandparents’ friends to my first grade teacher and pediatrician! In summary, make your ceremony yours.

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