Expert Advice: The Knot NJ Spring/Summer Issue

Engagement season is upon us. You are not seeing things. You will probably be setting an uptick of friends and family (and maybe you) with a newly minted ring on their finger. We mark engagement season from late November to February. In my opinion, the coziest and most romantic time of the year.  The Knot Magazine recently interviewed me for their Spring/Summer NJ edition Expert Advice which will be the time when most of these newly engagement couples will be saying “I do”. A few of my answers are in the magazine, but I thought many of the answers might be helpful to you, the newly engaged, so here you go! Pull up a chair.

How many months in advance should a couple book a wedding planner to ensure they get the one they want?

I think they should book a wedding planner as soon as they book their date and venue so the planning starts off on the right foot. This may be a year to a year and a half in advance. If you are interested in full planning, then start to contact wedding planners after you have enjoyed the glow of your engagement so they can help you set a date and book your venue.

Most couples have likely never planned a wedding before. What are the common mistakes or myths about the process?

Let’s set the record straight.
I think one of the common myths is that wedding planning is supposed to be overwhelming and stressful. If it is stressing you out, then something needs to change. Delegate more, look into hiring a planner or prioritize what is most important. I also think that many couples think that a wedding planner is not for them or it will be out of their budget. Yet what what you might spend monetarily, you will gain in time and sanity.

What are the first three things couples should do immediately after getting engaged?

• Celebrate! This is a very exciting time in your life so take some time to enjoy it. The wedding planning will still be there in a few weeks.
• Sit down and have a conversation about budget and guest count. This will help you as you start to research venues and speak to prospective vendors.
• Book your key vendors that you couldn’t imagine having your wedding without and then take a little wedding planning break.

What traditions or etiquette would you to like to see retire when it comes to weddings?

I would be happy to see traditions for the sake of tradition retire. I think if it doesn’t speak to you, don’t do it! Favors are a good example of this. I always tell my couples that guests are not interested in a favor for the sake of a favor. However if there is something really special about your relationship (like a mix of your favorite songs or a cupcake that you shared on your first date) that you would like to give to your guests as a thank you, do it. If not, don’t feel the pressure.

Describe a recent example of how you’ve put an inventive twist on an old tradition.

Your guests need to get from point A to point B so why not make it fun. For one of our weddings, the bride wanted to honor her father’s love for bluegrass and her new husband’s roots in Texas so we created a moment where all the guests promenaded from the church to the venue while a bluegrass band played. It was such a great way to kick off the party!

If couples are on a budget, what vendors or add-ons do you recommend cutting?

My best advice is to prioritize your top 3 “must haves” and allocate the bulk of your budget to those areas. If you are on a budget, you might just have to cut some of the details that are not that important to you. Think about the “long lasting” effects. Guests will probably not notice (or care) if you skip favors, or ceremony programs so do not fret if every single detail doesn’t make the cut. Your guests are there to witness your love for each other and have a good time.

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2019, what wedding design trends are you seeing?

The trend for the last few seasons has been focused on a muted romantic wedding palette, but I am seeing more and more couples adding color for their Spring and Summer weddings. I am loving it especially unexpected citrus colors.

Looking even further ahead to Fall/Winter 2019, what design trends are you predicting?

In contrast to the bright color palettes of the spring and summer, I am predicting that fall and winter 2019 will be clean and streamlined. I love the idea of a more modern approach with intentional details and bringing back silver!

What’s a detail you’ve always wanted to design/incorporate into a wedding but haven’t gotten the chance to yet?

It might sound unusual, but I have been inspired by children’s books lately. I would love to design a wedding with a nod to the whimsicality of storybook illustrations in a sophisticated way.

Share three pro tips you’d like all couples to know about wedding planning/design.

• Wedding planning shouldn’t be a full time job for a bride or groom. Make sure you enjoy this phase of your engagement.
• Put yourselves first. I know that it is hard to not listen to advice of friends and family, but do what makes you happy and reflective of your relationship.
• Do not sweat the small stuff. Just about every wedding has a small hiccup or two, but it is how you deal with it that makes the difference.

Credits: Photos Jessa Schifilliti
Florals Blue Jasmine
Video Between Sleep and Awake
Photobooth VW Booth Bus
Invitations and Calligraphy Mary Kate Moon
Rentals The Tabletop Company and Party Rental Ltd.
Cake The Vintage Cake
Paper Flowers Harley Rose Studio
Hair Boho Salon
Makeup Shimmer and Spice

Please Save the Date: Tips for Sending Wedding Save the Dates

Does this sound familiar? You get engaged. Call all your family and friends. Post on social media.  Then think, “Now what? I guess I better get started planning.”  Every engaged person I talk to immediately feels the pressure to start the wedding planning process right away.  I agree that it is exciting and you may even feel like everything will be “gone” if you don’t start touring venues the next morning. My advice though is take a breath.  Give yourself some time to enjoy this moment in your life.  After you have basked in the glow for whatever amount of time feels comfortable for you,  then you can let the fun to begin! First step of course is securing your date and venue.  Then you will need to let your guests know about this shindig.  So let’s start thinking about Save the Dates and tips for sending wedding Save the Dates.


The general rule of thumb is that Save the Dates should be distributed 6-8 months prior to your wedding date.  For me, it is a personal preference on whether you want to send on the earlier or later side. Some factors that might help you make the decision are if you are having a destination wedding (send earlier) or if you are hoping to cut back your guest list (send later). If you send within that time frame you are good to go.

Photo Christina Lilly Photography
Save the Date Design & Calligraphy Mary Kate Moon
Architectural Sketch TS Portraits


Save the Dates are pretty straightforward.  However they do set the stage for the type of wedding you are going to host.  Is it formal? Will it be at a camp?  On a boat? In Mexico? When your guests receive the card, you want to portray the style of wedding you hope to have.  Keep that in mind and infuse your personality and get creative.

Many couples opt to use their engagement photos for the Save the Dates.  This is a great way to showcase those photos and make your announcement personal.  I know for a fact that your family and friends love to see your smiling and in-love faces.

Whatever you decide, I recommend keeping the whole scope of the invitation suite in mind and have an idea of your design before choosing your Save the Dates.


The first step before choosing your venue and sending out Save the Dates is to get a good estimate for your head count.  Your venue will need to know your estimated guest count.  Plus you need to know the venue’s capacity and any limitations while venue searching.  You should have a very good idea of who will be invited by the time you send out your Save the Dates. To answer the question presented, anyone you’re sure you’re going to invite to the wedding. If your guest list is not entirely finalized, refrain from sending save-the-date cards to guests on your B-list.  Once someone receives a save the date, you’re obligated to send them a wedding invitation, too.

Photography Off Beet Productions
Save the Date design Little Black Dress Paperie

There are some guidelines on when to include a “plus one” on Save the Dates.

  1. Anyone who is married or in a serious relationship at the time of the mailing
  2. Anyone who is in your bridal party
  3. You need to hit a certain guest count quota for your venue
  4. You have feel you have the flexibility on your budget if EVERYONE decides to come.

I recommend trying to name the guest whenever possible. This makes the invite more personal and doesn’t leave the invitee up to interpretation.


The content on your Save the Date is pretty basic. Just the essentials. These details are reserved for your invitation. On your Save the Date, remember to include your names, wedding location, date, and website (if desired).  The line “formal invitation to follow” is customary, so your guests know that more information will be coming.

With the inception of welcome receptions, after parties, post-wedding brunch, room blocks, and transportation timelines, that is  A LOT of information to get out to your guests. Make life easier and include it all in one place.   The less people contacting you for every little detail, the better. I highly recommend including a wedding website.  Some of my favorites are intuitive and pretty easily customizable. Try Minted, Zola, or Squarespace.  My advice is to splurge on a custom url that is easy to remember and looks cleaner on your Save the Dates.

Looking for assistance for wording for your Save the Date? Take a look at some suggestions on Minted here or even at past Save the Dates you have received. I bet you may have more than one in your kitchen at any given time.

Check back some tips on sending out wedding invitations and please reach out if you have any questions- I am here to help!