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Ask the Expert: Planning a Stress-Free Fall Wedding

With leaves turning golden warm colors, the weather growing cool and crisp and bold flavors of maple and spice taking over, it's no wonder fall is becoming the most popular time to get married. Whether you're actually planning a wedding or plotting your dream reception (no shame in that game!), we've got all the bases covered – what to splurge on (and what to skip), what's totally over, and which trends will still be big.

We've enlisted Wedding and Event Expert Francesco Bilotto to help us navigate the planning process, and give us some insight into what will still be popular for next autumn. As the event planner to some high-profile events, including planning Good Morning America's Ginger Zee's wedding, Francesco has the experience and expertise to help guide is in planning the perfect autumn wedding. No mason jars included. 


Planning a Fall Wedding: Overall Aesthetic


Image via Heather Roth Fine Art Photography


What are some big trends in fall weddings that you think will be around for 2015? Which ones are growing tired?

A trend I have noticed is the “more is more” look, especially when it comes to luxurious and lush floral centerpieces. Metallic-frosted wedding cakes are taking center stage, made of spice and liqueur-infused layers. Bold and colorful embossed invitations are warming up the landscape of white card stock we normally receive. Look for tassels and fringe to appear on linen selections as well.

What's Growing Tired: Anything involving a mason jar, a chalkboard and burlap!


What is the biggest mistake people make when planning their wedding decor? How can that be solved?

People tend to fight against what the venue is. Find a place that is at least halfway to your desired overall image of that day. Another big one is people going too crazy with Pinterest-inspired images and details. There is a huge difference between a professional photo shoot and real world execution. When you have selected your vendors, choose and get inspired by the work they have created.


Image via colincowieweddings.com


If a couple is going the DIY route, what are some fun decor ideas for fall that look great without breaking the bank?

A week before the wedding, head to the park or a backyard with friends and collect tons of leaves. Create a thick row as a runner on the table, add a few very tall candles (in glass cylinders to keep safe, I love tapers in glass vases too if you are able) and you have an instant seasonal, yet simple look.

Another favorite DIY idea for tables is to hit the local thrift stores (you could also ask to borrow from family, friends and your venue) for as many silver serving trays or chargers as possible. Place a tray on the center of each table with various size pillar candles in the center, add black (or any color of choice) fish tank gravel around the candles. Simple, chic and super affordable!


Overall Planning Process: Budget, Budget, Budget


What is one of the biggest mistakes people make during their entire wedding planning process? How can that be fixed?

The biggest mistake is when you don't track every dollar spent. You must start off with a total budget. Subtract that splurge item right away and see what you’re left with. Everything (and I mean everything) factors into the budget! A wedding is like a business; it’s one of the most expensive purchases you will ever be responsible for in your life.


Image via Jennifer Jeanne Events


What should you be splurging on and where can you pinch pennies?

Splurge on what you think is the most important to you. My personal approach is to splurge on the venues, but for some it may be photography, liquor selection, finding the perfect dress. Envision what will be the most important aspect for you for your big day, and set aside the biggest chunk of money for that. 

Pinch pennies on the bridesmaid’s dresses! Many gowns can be altered, sleeves removed, shortened, dyed, etc. An easy fix too is to have sashes made or you could incorporate a large ribbon on the waistline of all the dresses in the same color. One more penny pinch is to have and email address listed for your RSVP. This saves on card stock and postage cost.


What are some big details that brides and couples usually forget that are super important?

The word "no" seems to be forgotten during the planning process. Couples seem to be trying to please their parents and impress their friends with details that may not be that important to them, from religious traditions to guests lists. 

For the reception, make sure the bride and room are not seated in front of an exit sign or fire extinguisher. Nothing is worse than a million photos with the exit sign over the groom's head!


Do you have any helpful planning tricks to keep your wedding planning on track until the big day?

A wedding email address is very important, i.e.JonandJulieWedding2016@gmail.com. It helps keep your personal inbox in order, and it's an easy email account to delete when the wedding is all over. 

A wedding email also makes for an easy RSVP system (if you are going the digital route), and you can have a relative or wedding planner access the email account without compromising your personal accounts.


A Few More Wedding Tips from Francesco:

Maximize Your Rewards: If you are able to, make all your purchases on a credit card with the most reward points. Perhaps you can cash those in and put them towards your honeymoon .

Welcome Bags: Talk to your local favorite business and restaurants and see if they would like to include coupons, or free samples of their products in your hotel welcome bags. Guests arriving from out of town will be delighted!

Food Tasting: Be aware of any floral garnishes on menu dishes that may clash with your tablescape and decor. If you are doing a destination wedding, ask for a “virtual tasting” – have them prepare the dish and email you a photo of the meal and overall table setup. Recently I did a wedding with all white floral and thankfully I caught the pink orchid garnish on the virtual tasting. Sounds like nothing, but 50 plates on the table all with pink floral changes the entire tablescape of white I had been working on for months. I know – GASP! 


Main image via Bridal Guide magazine

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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