This week's "My turn" column is by Alison Crotts, director of catering at The Holiday Inn in Oneonta.
Whether you're recently engaged or already knee-deep in wedding planning, this is the article for you.
I personally know planning a wedding can be intimidating. I also know there are a lot of decisions to be made.
I hope what I've learned from working more than 100 weddings and planning my own can be beneficial to you.
I'm sure most of you know the basics of wedding planning, from visiting the many websites or by the abundance of bridal magazines published. What I'm about to offer you are a few of my own wedding tips that I've gathered along the way.
Let's begin with the biggest item: the budget. We all know weddings are expensive, but there are a few minor changes that can be made to lessen the cost.
The first thing I usually suggest to brides working with a tight budget is reviewing the bar options. A full open bar is a nice gesture for your guests, but it is not required.
Your friends and family will love you just the same even if they have to pay cash for their cocktails. Keep in mind that the bar option is not an al-or-nothing deal; some reception sites offer several bar packages, and you can find the one that fits your guests and budget.
Another way to cut back on costs is comparing the price differences between renting and buying. Local rental companies, reception sites and caterers have an abundance of wedding materials readily available for you to rent.
Had I known about renting when I was planning my wedding, I wouldn't have more than 200 votive candle holders sitting in my garage collecting dust.
Also, ask about the décor the reception site may provide at no additional costs. From strands of lights to elegant candelabras, most halls own decorative items they may have available for you to use.
For example, I sell packages that include hurricane vases. Brides use these vases to create centerpieces that reflect their personalities and theme. From stones and pillar candles to elaborate floral bouquets, the hurricanes are an affordable, customizable addition to any reception.
It is important to stay within your budget, but it is more important to create an event that fits your personality.
I have worked weddings ranging from hot dog and popcorn stations to white-glove-passed hors d'oeuvres, and each one is uniquely perfect.
From song choices to table layouts, brides are stepping away from the "typical" reception to create a day that is fun and memorable.
I've seen choreographed dances, props used during the removal of the garter, sunglasses during the first dance, piñatas above the dance floor and fireworks displays. I say let your nuptials show your individuality.
My last bit of advice is to find the right vendors. You can find good vendors through word-of-mouth from recently married friends or from the advice of other trusted vendors.
Vendors include bakers, caterers, florists, photographers, banquet-hall managers, disc jockeys and bridal retailers. You need them to make your wedding a reality. Fortunately, we have talented and experienced professionals in our area who have been in the business for many years. Seek those individuals out and book them immediately, because their calendars fill up quickly.
There is only one thing that really matters: you have the wedding you want. Don't get too caught up in the details. Your wedding will be mesmerizing _ no matter how big or small the budget, no matter how simple or elaborate the décor.
So whether your wedding is an over-the top 400-person formal affair or an intimate backyard barbecue, just remember to have fun.
To write for "My turn," contact Daily Star Publisher Tanya Shalor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 432-1000, ext. 214.