Special treat for you all today! I have Antoinette & Lauren from A & L Events here sharing their expertise in wedding planning. I’ll let them take it away!

Wedding Planning Tips + Tricks: Perfecting an Imperfect Process - The 5 C’s

Hey there, friends!

We’re glad you’re here on the talented Kathryn Hyslop Photography’s blog. We love our dear Katie, so when she asked us to contribute a feature, we of course told her to count us in!

Allow us to introduce ourselves. Our names are Antoinette Yelenic and Lauren Virgin. First and foremost, we are (and have been) best friends, who happened to take a chance on what was initially thought to be a wild dream to become wedding + event planners and designers. Well, turns out we’re making that wild dream into a wonderful reality. We are the co-owners and principle planners of A & L Events, a Pittsburgh based wedding + event planning and design boutique. If you are interested in learning more about us, feel welcome to give us some internet love here: www.aandlevents.com.

Ok, ok. Enough about us, right? You’re reading this to gain insight on a subject the majority of people seem to dread. DUN DUN DUN -- wedding planning! Really, it’s not so scary and we’re here to share our tips & tricks on how to streamline and perfect this seemingly daunting process. Without further adieu..


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You’re engaged, congratulations! Brides, this doesn’t mean that you take full reigns and hit the ground running. We say this in the sweetest way possible: remember your hubby-to-be too. While some grooms say they’re fine with their lady taking charge of the process, we say that it should be a team effort. Always consolidate with your partner about what they desire from their big day.  Yes, sometimes this means compromise, but hello you’re on your way to the altar, a life of compromise is ahead so you might as well learn to master the craft while you’re ahead! In all seriousness though, we really believe the basis of an enjoyable wedding planning process is teaming up with your love and remembering this day is solely about the both of you and the lifetime vows you commit to one another. At the end of the day, no one is going to critique your choice of linen or bouquet style (this means a lot coming from the mouths -or, fingers - of planners), and by the end of your wedding day, you may not care too much about it either because guess what? You just won big - you married the love of your life!


Once you committed on C numero uno, it’s time to get those brains working. During this phase, it is imperative to lay out exactly what you want and envision for your wedding day. And better yet, sometimes, it’s extremely helpful to lay out exactly what you do NOT want. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What feeling do we want to project with our wedding day?

  • What aspects of our personality do we want to evoke through our wedding day?

  • Is there a theme or aesthetic we want to encompass?

  • What are the top 3 aspects we care about most?

  • What are the top 3 aspects we care about least?

  • In what ways do we want to accommodate and take care of our guests?

  • What is the budget we plan to stick to? (Pro tip: whatever you budget, add a $10k buffer to allow for unforeseen costs)

  • How do we best allocate that budget to maximize the most from areas we want to spend more on?

  • Do we plan on DIY planning or partnering with a professional?

Once you have a solid ground basis on how you’d answer the questions above, you can begin to move forward and be better able to approach the next step.


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Just when you thought your college research skills were done and over with! This is a crucial step to the planning process. In a nutshell, gather all necessary information possible. No biggie right? This is the phase when couples seek the expertise + assistance from a planning pro. We often see couples get intimidated by all the different vendors, venues, caterers, rentals and endless event options offered in today’s market. One of our main roles as your wedding planner is to research, receive and review the information you’re inquisitive about or interested in booking for your big day. The key: collect as much material as possible, and then compare. We recommend doing this for your ‘high profile vendors’ - which in our opinion are your venue, caterer, photographer and floral designer. If you nail those four vendors, then the chances you’ll have a magical wedding with beautiful images to forever reminisce on our high.

One more thing to touch on when you compare vendor information, do not just compare the price. While this is hard for most people (even us at times), we truly believe you get what you pay for. So, take into account more than just the cost  - consider the quality of work, the provided staffing, the package inclusions, the services, etc. Are you in the midst of this now and looking for professional involvement? Check out our services here: http://www.aandlevents.com/services-1.


At this point, you either brought in a pro planning team or have decided to venture on solo - and if you’ve decided to venture on solo, you may start to consider a wedding coordinator, but don’t wait too long! This is where wedding planning gets a bad rap. But, with the proper organization it can become somewhat invigorating. Or are we the only weirdos that think so?

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Firstly, we suggest that you create different email threads for each of your booked vendors. In example: Smith + Jones Wedding | Floral Designer or Smith + Jones Wedding | Catering. This way, when you are conducting correspondence, you can keep all communication streamlined and in one place. In addition to this method, we recommend using the same thread subject to create a spreadsheet or notebook with all directly related information such as; contracts, contacts, order details, invoices, payment schedules, timelines, etc. This way, it can be easily found and referenced when working out the specifics of coordination.

Speaking of timeline, it is helpful to get an understanding of the day’s flow - time stamps won’t be 100% finalized until a week or so prior to the wedding, but don’t let that make you nervous - this is actually quite normal. All in all, communication is key. Whether it is our job as your planner or your job as self-employed planner, keep all vendors in the loop and update them when necessary, occasional check-ins are always good too to keep lines open. A successful wedding coordination does not happen without successful communication.


You can see the end-zone. You’re almost there. Now it’s time to let all of that hard work come together to create what you’ve been tirelessly putting your efforts towards. So, here’s what we say to this: Capture the moment, capture the feeling. Start living in the moment. Remember the road that led you here. Savor the delicious fact that you get to do life with the one you love. A final check in with all vendors to ensure there are all set for your big day is recommended about one week from your wedding. Make sure your appointed day-of contact is named (whether your planner or VIP guest that you trust and are comfortable with giving this responsibility) and their information is given to all vendors.

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A pro piece of advice: don’t let the title of this feature fool you. Nothing is perfect. But it can be if you remember that. Does that make sense? Say it in your head one more time. When you allow yourself to realize that perfection does not exist, suddenly the pressure of perfection fades away and what you see is perfect (regardless if a boutonniere is out of place or if a table is missing a piece of flatware - if you hire a planner, these small issues will most likely not happen (JUST SAYIN’). Now, take a breath and let the celebration begin.

Wedding planning doesn’t sound so bad huh? These 5 C’s are keys to success and they can be yours too! (Of course, they can be even more successful with a little help...hint hint!) Now go enjoy the process and your big day! Cheers!

With Love,

A & L

Antoinette Yelenic & Lauren Virgin
Instagram: @aandlevents
Facebook: A & L Events