The ins and outs of planning a wedding can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve never done it before. There are many things to consider, and a lot of moving parts. It’s always great to get advice from people who have tackled this task before, and at Howe Farms, we’ve successfully helped hundreds of couples pull off amazing weddings at our extensive property. So, we’ve rounded up 15 wedding planning tips for your Chattanooga wedding– things you may not have thought about before– to help you as you dot your Is and cross your Ts. We hope these tips prove helpful during your planning process.

1– Start with the guest list.

Don’t jump the gun on planning. Before you do much else, you’ll need to get an idea of approximately how many guests you’ll want to have at your wedding. This number will inform a lot of your decisions regarding details. If you skip over it at first, you might find yourself with space issues or other problems to contend with later.

2– Consider the weather.

When you set a date, the other details start falling into place. So be strategic about time of year based on things like weather, temperature, and even bugs. And remember, it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B on deck in case your special day doles out thunderstorms!

3– Give yourself some credit.

Let’s not play. Weddings are expensive. So take advantage of your credit options by opening a credit card with a rewards program. Maybe it’s airline miles or maybe it’s money back on purchases, but putting it all on a card is a great way to keep your wedding expenses organized and also get some kind of return on your wedding day investment.

4– Don’t be afraid to ask.

You probably won’t get what you don’t ask for. Just remember that earlier on in your relationships with vendors, they are more likely to give you more of what you ask for to secure the gig with you. So don’t be afraid to ask for things like an extra hour with your DJ. The odds are, they’ll be less inclined to bargain after you sign on the dotted line.

5– Don’t be afraid to get cut throat.

Your guest list is YOUR guest list. The easiest way to trim your wedding budget is to revisit that guest list and cut some names. Approximately half of your wedding budget is going to be allotted to food and drink for your guests, so fewer mouths means dollar savings. Think of it this way, if you have 10 guests to a table, at $100 a head, cutting one table saves you $1,000. Does your dad’s receptionist’s daughter really need to be invited? We say take that up with him.

6– Listen to your vendors.

Your wedding vendors know what they’re doing. So lean into that, and benefit from their experience and expertise. Maybe your photographer can recommend a fantastic DJ, or your caterer also knows an incredible florist. You can also ask them questions about how to run things the day of. If you’re working with a wedding coordinator, that person will also help get all the vendors on the same page. Afterall, they’re all there for you!

7– Get organized.

It’s a great idea to keep all your wedding and vendor related information– from notes and brochures to contracts– all in one, centralized location. Keep a wedding binder with everything compiled so you can easily come back and find what you need anytime. Also be sure to store vendor cell phone numbers in your phone early on so you can always contact them with ease in the days leading up to the event, as well as on the day of if needed.

8– Decide on a kids policy.

When it comes to kids at your wedding, you have options– you can welcome all the littles, you can have an adults-only wedding, or you can include children of family members only. Things can get tricky if you include the children of some guests while excluding others. But remember, it’s your day, and your way. Just be clear on what you decide with guests from the get go.

9– Give your guests accurate directions.

There are few things more frustrating than getting lost or confused trying to find a wedding venue. So make sure you give really great, detailed driving directions to your guests and vendors, and if you have a wedding website (which you should), make sure the directions are clearly included for easy reference.

10– Be realistic about your timeline.

Wedding timelines are paramount, but it’s also imperative that they are realistic. If you work with a coordinator, that person will help tremendously with this piece of the puzzle. But the last thing you want is to be scrambling on the day of your wedding, trying to get everything done. Work with your vendors about how long each item on your timeline will realistically take, and try your best to stick to that timeline.

Our team at Howe Farms hopes you find these wedding planning tips useful, and that your planning process is both smooth-going and lots of fun. Just remember, this day is about you! It’s your chance to have things your way, and curate a celebration of love that speaks to your personality while also being a total blast for your friends and family. Happy planning!