08/31/2012 11:43 am ET

Wedding Planning: 3 Big Day Myths Busted

By Holly Lefevre, The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book
This article first appeared on

When it comes to wedding planning the first thing to know is that unless you're a professional wedding planner -- there's a lot to learn! Here are some common wedding planning myths... busted!

MYTH: I know exactly what it takes to pull off a wedding, and I will not go over budget.

TRUTH: There is a good chance you probably will. Many brides "forget" to include some necessary expenses and/or incur additional costs at the last minute. Some brides also "fall in love" with certain items and must have them whether or not they were originally budgeted for. Work with a trusted professional wedding planner to detail out a budget for you based on your needs. Professional planners deal with budgets all the time and know what costs are involved in a wedding.

As a final precaution, take 5-10 percent off of your budget total and hold it back for those unexpected expenses -- if you need it, it will not push you over the edge, and if you don't you will have some extra cash for your honeymoon... or bank account!

MYTH: You can cut floral costs by purchasing your own candles and/or containers for floral arrangements, instead of having the florist or event designer provide them. DIY is always more sensible and will save you money.

TRUTH: I love DIY in many cases, but sometimes you should think over the pros and cons, not just about the cash savings. Beyond cost, consider the following: where are you going to store these containers (until the day before the wedding), what are you going to do with them after (do you need 20 candelabras?), how are you going to transport them (will 20 candelabras fit in your 4-door sedan...not likely!), are you sure the florist can use them, and do you want to be responsible for them on the wedding night? Chances are the florist will not transport them back to his or her studio and store them until after the honeymoon... they are yours!

In actuality, these are not the items that the florist is making their big money on. What you end up with instead is a string of problems ranging from containers that cannot stand up to the complexities of the floral arrangements you desire, mismatched containers, and storage/transportation issues.

In terms of candles, you need to be sure to buy tempered votive holders and hurricanes, as well as ones that meet current fire code for the city in which your venue is located. Again... who is going to haul them to and from the sites -- think about it!

Also, scented candles can irritate the senses and distract from the meal service -- just imagine the lovely scent of Gardenia and Filet Mignon. Or you buy candles at the dollar store and they burn out two hours into the evening. Many brides also like to purchase their own twinkle lights, and miscalculate the number they need, forget adapters and extension cords, and worse yet, for the battery-operated strands, forget the batteries -- by the way battery operated ones don't really last all that long!

MYTH: I do not need a seating plan. I have no time for it and no one cares anyway.

TRUTH: If you are serving a meal (i.e. the guest will need to find a place to sit and eat), a seating plan falls just short of being considered a necessity. A seating plan is a courtesy that simply alleviates any uneasy feeling or uncomfortable moments as guest find a seat at the reception. If you’re planning a cocktail party, or not planning to serve a full meal, a seating plan isn’t necessary, but you should have enough tables and chairs to accommodate all of your guests.
I won't lie, seating plans can be complicated and chances are not everyone is going to be happy, you just have to do your best at matching and mixing up the guests. Once the responses are in and accounted for, try these tips to get you going:

• Get a floor plan from the venue. The floorplan will outline the layout of the room (dance floor, bar, guest book, gift table, etc.).

• Know how many guests can be seated at each table. A good rule to follow is eight to 10 guests at a 60-inch round table.

• Decide where you will be sitting, and where your family and bridal party will be sitting. Also determine what the seating arrangement will be for the wedding party and yourself -- a head table, sweetheart table, feasting table, etc.

• Ask for input from your families when determining who should sit where.

• Determine if there are any guests with special needs. For example, grandparents who wouldn't want to be sitting next to the college "party" crowd, or guests with young children being seated right next to the band's speakers. Additionally, be sure to account for any guests with a disability.

• Match guests up by families, where you know them from, or by similar interests. From here you will be playing a card game of sorts, mixing and matching until you have the right guests at the “right” seats. Try to avoid playing matchmaker with the single guests; it could be uncomfortable. I have seen brides work with all sorts of "tools" for placing the guests at tables, like post it notes with the guest's names, spread sheets, dry erase boards (think football coach)... you have to decide how you can best visualize the seating arrangements -- there is no right or wrong answer.

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Holly Lefevre loves all things weddings. As a wedding expert, she has served as editor for a local bridal magazine, spoke at wedding seminars, and appeared on national television. She is the author of 7 books, including The Everything Wedding Checklist Book . She shares her creative and wedding whims at and is a contributor for