Insider Tips from Local Wedding Planners

Insider Tips from Local Wedding Planners

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Planning your wedding can be one of the most stressful things you will ever do. The simplest discussion can turn a catfight at a moments notice. The to-be-inlaws get too involved, the vendors aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, the bridesmaids aren’t speaking to each other…and all you want to do is stand before your family with the one person that will make you happy for the rest of your life and say, “I do”!

Well, Cincy Chic is here to save the day! We’ve pulled together three Cincinnati-based wedding planners to help you through the planning stages of your wedding. They shared some of their tips for how to get through some of the biggest problems brides-to-be face. Our panel of experts consists of Amy Boucher, Kerry Leedy and Alison Wenstrup.

Amy Boucher
, executive director of the In Style Event Group, says she has been helping with weddings since she was eight years old. It was only natural that she made a career out of it. She says she wants to help brides create “‘that’ moment – the one you wished wouldn’t end and have always remembered.”

Kerry Leedy
founded KL Wedding Designs in 2006 to do everything to help the bride and groom’s wedding day go smoothly.

Alison Wenstrup, owner of Aviva-Events, says her job is “to make things easier for the bride and everyone else.” She offers brides-to-be and their families a combination of coordinating and consulting.

Cincy Chic: How long does it usually take to put a fairytale wedding together?

  • Wenstrup: I’ve seen weddings planned in two months and in two years. But ideally, you need a year.
  • Leedy: I have planned a wedding in four months. I don’t recommend that for everyone. You’re not going to get the best vendors or venue.
  • Boucher: Places like Drees Pavilion have people camped outside the night before the release of available dates for the following year.

Cincy Chic: What should the bride do first?

  • Leedy: Your dress! It sets the tone for the ceremony and reception site.
  • Boucher: Secure a wedding coordinator! Reserve your ceremony and reception site, securing your officiate and setting a budget – just remember, your proposed budget and actual budget will probably be different.
  • Wenstrup: Your venue is important, but start working on whatever is most important to you. If that’s your dress, then do that first!

Cincy Chic: What are some things that most brides overlook until the big day?

  • Leedy: There are a lot of small touches that your guests will notice. Things like personalized cocktail napkins and a special thanks to the wedding party and family.
  • Wenstrup: The smaller details. Programs, place cards and what they are going to do with the gifts. Are the bride and groom going to take them back to the hotel or send them with someone else? You definitely don’t want to leave your gifts behind!

 Cincy Chic: What’s the best way for the bride’s girlfriends, mother, future mother-in-law or sisters to get involved – without taking over her wedding?

  • Boucher: Schedule a meeting, a luncheon or brunch would be a nice touch, and give each person a list of pre-set tasks. That way, there will be no confusion about who will be doing what, and keeps the bride in control of the helpers instead of the helpers controlling the bride.
  • Leedy: Have anyone who is interested help with things like assembling the invitations, folding the programs or getting the favors ready.
  • Wenstrup: For those who want to help with the wedding, but aren’t sure how, just let the bride know you want to help. Volunteer for the more mundane tasks and be specific about what you want to do.

Cincy Chic: What advice would you give to a bride who is having a Monster-in-Law problem?

  • Wenstrup: That’s a tricky question. Tell them you appreciate their suggestions, and you’ll take them to heart. Hopefully they will be happy with that.

Cincy Chic: How much can having a wedding coordinator help a bride on her big day?

  • Wenstrup: As little or as much as you want! An option a lot of people don’t know about is that some coordinators offer hourly consultations to check out what the bride has done so far and get suggestions. You can also often hire a coordinator just for the day or the week of the wedding.
  • Leedy: Just to have someone help set up is huge. It gives the bride peace of mind.
  • Wenstrup: It’s good to have someone with an objective opinion about things. We can also do things like review your contracts.

0208GIBBERMAN.gifCincy Chic: What’s something outrageous someone has had you do for her wedding?

  • Leedy: I don’t know if I’d call it outrageous, but there was a belly dancer at one of the weddings I helped with.

Cincy Chic: That must have been interesting!

  • Leedy: It was a lot of fun! Only the bride, who was Egyptian, and the groom knew about her. It was a surprise to everyone else. She came in through a secret door and performed on the dance floor. She got everybody up and moving!

To Do List
Here’s a more detailed to-do list, created by combining the lists from our wedding planners, to help all you brides out there have the smoothest wedding day possible:


12+ Months Before

  • Announce your engagement
  • Decide on a budget for the wedding
  • Set the theme for your wedding
  • Start planning your guest list and decide if children will be included (or if you will use a service such as Kid Quest Unlimited.)
  • Set your date and book your venues
  • Book your officiate
  • Set your bridal party
  • Have an engagement party
  • Start researching vendors
  • Interview coordinators (if you wish)


8-12 Months Before

  • Hire your photographer (and videographer if you wish)
  • Hire your entertainment (band/DJ)
  • Buy your dress
  • Block hotel rooms for out of town guests (Consider reserving a “block” of rooms for your out-of-town guests. Some hotels offer a discount!)
  • Start your gift registry
  • Choose caterer (if not provided by venue)
  • Send save-the-date cards

4-7 Months Before
  • Select and buy invitations
  • Look for bridesmaid’s dresses
  • Hire your florist
  • Arrange transportation
  • Select and order your cake
  • Start dress fittings for you and bridesmaids
  • Schedule hair/makeup artists
  • Start planning your honeymoon!


2-3 Months Before

  • Finalize menu
  • Finalize flowers
  • Purchase rings
  • Review your wishes/priorities with photographer and entertainment
  • Send invitations (6-8 weeks before the wedding date)


1 Month Before

  • Keep track of your RSVPs
  • Work on seating plan
  • Get your marriage license
  • Final dress fitting

Week of the Wedding
  • Confirm details with vendors
  • Create a timeline to send to bridal party
  • Set aside final payments and tips
  • Send final guest count to venue/caterer
  • Pack for your honeymoon

Post Wedding
  • Arrange for someone to return any rentals
  • Arrange for someone (usually maid of honor) to take the bridal gown for cleaning and preservation
  • Arrange for someone (usually best man) to return the groom’s tuxedo to the rental shop
  • Write and send thank-you notes to guests who sent or brought gifts and vendors who were especially helpful