bride and groom under wooden arch in rustic 5eleven wedding venue in pensacola
5 layer cake in 5 eleven wedding venue in pensacola

Planning a Wedding in Pensacola

Are you planning a wedding in Pensacola, Florida? Whether you're an out-of-towner looking for a destination wedding that you and your guests won't soon forget, or a local ready to celebrate your day with friends and family, the planning portion for a wedding can be overwhelming. I would like to help you simplify the planning. So, let's start with the post-engagement planning. As a local Pensacola resident and photographer, I can help guide you a little as you begin to plan. 

For outdoor venue ideas, check this post out! 

Pensacola Wedding Tip #1: Figure out your budget.

Before you begin planning your wedding, start by deciding how much money you will spend on the event. This may mean talking with parents and having those uncomfortable money conversations with your significant other, but you need to have a rough budget figured out before you take the next step in planning. The wedding budget doesn't need to be set in stone, but a rough estimate of the total number is a good place to start. 

What is the next step? 

Tip #2: Prioritize.

Once you have that rough budget, it's time to think about what is most important to you on your wedding day. If you can decide which elements are the most important to you both, then you'll have a clear picture of where you should budget a healthy portion of the overall number. 

Think hard about photography. Make it a priority. ;) Fantastic photos will be something you can hang onto and show off for many years to come and is the only thing you will have to look back on. 

For many brides, the dress, photography, and location are the most important elements of their wedding. Whatever is important to you, write it down and keep it on hand as you begin to inquire about wedding venues and more. 

Tip #3: Pick an approximate date.

A little flexibility in your date choice can go a long way. In Pensacola, many venues are booking a year or more in advance. Usually, I hear from the bride right after she has booked her venue, and she's booking me for a year in advance. This is a typical timeline. So, don't wait to get started.

If you have some flexibility in your date, then you might even be able to save a little bit of money by having the event on a Friday night, a Saturday morning, or on a Sunday. Check with the venue of your choice because this is where you'll find savings by choosing a day and time that is not as in demand. 

For venue suggestions, check out my post here

Tip #4: Cheaper is not always better. 

Beware of discounts. I know I just said you might be able to save money on a venue if you choose a less popular booking time, but I'm talking about outright discounts as in their starting prices are hundreds or thousands of dollars less than all of the other industry professionals you've called. You did not just find the deal of the century. There is a reason their prices are lower. 

For example, hobby photographers will charge much less than their highly experienced/specialized competition. Why? Because it isn't their livelihood. And that will show in the images they capture. The same can be said for a florist or caterer or anything else. If they are priced considerably lower than the competition, then they may not be professionals who do this every day for a living. Make sure your day goes smoothly by choosing professionals who act (and charge) like professionals. 

The Fish House wedding catering in 5eleven wedding venue in downtown pensacola
Metal "Eat" sign at 5eleven wedding venue in downtown pensacola
fish house wedding catering in 5eleven wedding venue in downtown pensacola

Tip #5: Talk to a caterer.

Caterers book quickly. Many venues will hand you a list of approved caterers that they frequently work with. They do this because they want a caterer that knows their event space and will treat the kitchen kindly while providing you with a wonderful experience to accompany your day. So, because of this, most often caterers and venues book at the same time. 

Tip #6: Stop to smell the flowers. 

No, really! Go check out a few florists. Go to a farmer's market where you might find a variety of fresh flowers. Get an idea of what you're envisioning for your wedding, and then discuss it with a florist whose style you love. 

In Pensacola, a couple of my favorite florists are Supposey and Fiore. It's so important that you take a look at their style to decide if they can do what you'd like. 

Fiore of Pensacola wedding flowers in 5eleven downtown pensacola
Fiore of Pensacola florist

Tip #7: A great reputation doesn't mean it's a good fit.

Everyone has different taste. There are many Pensacola professionals who offer catering (check out The Fish House because they're yummy), photography, floral arrangements, and more. These professionals come with great reviews and testimonials. But, they may not be the right fit for you. 

Check out what they have to offer. Do your due diligence. Choosing a professional whose style aligns with your expectations will mean that you will be more satisfied with the end result. 

It's like choosing a dress. You wouldn't choose a dress that doesn't fit your body type or sense of style just because it was highly recommended, right? The same goes for every other element of your wedding.

There are lots of options in Pensacola. Check them out!

Tip #8: Music.

In the beginning stages of planning, don't forget about the music. Whether you'd like a DJ or a live band, when you're booking the venue is also when you should be checking availability of DJs and bands. Music pulls the whole reception together. Make sure you find a DJ or band that will add the appropriate soundtrack to your special day and that work with the team during the reception.

For more DJ tips, read this post!

Tip #9: It's only as important as you think it is.

What does that mean? It means that it's your day! Make sure you are prioritizing the things that are most important to you. If on your list of priorities, you've realized that photography is one of the elements of your wedding that is most important to you, then don't lose sight of that. If hiring a very specific photographer is very important to you, then make that the first phone call you make. Make everything else work around the dates that the photographer has available. 

Tip #10: Don't forget the small stuff.

You already have plenty of things to remember, I know. But there's one more that's really important, especially if you're a Florida native. What is that one thing?

The marriage license.

In Escambia County, Florida, the county clerk's office can be found on the second floor of the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building located at 190 W. Government St. near the waterfront in Pensacola. If you or your soon-to-be-spouse lives in Florida, then there's a three-day waiting period from the time the license is issued to the time that you can officially be married. 

So, go to the clerk's office about a month before the event. Pay the nice people $93.50 (plus 3.5% if you're using a credit card), and then don't forget where you put the marriage license. You'll need it the day of the wedding. It's important! 

Tip #11: Let the professionals do their job.

Hire professionals to handle the catering, photography, music, and so forth. Choose the companies and individuals who presented themselves as experienced and professional so that on your day you don't have to worry about them, trust them.

You can enjoy the moment without a last-minute scramble to find someone to somehow replace a melting wedding cake, or without asking your cousin Lenny to bring his DSLR because your photographer didn't show up!

Plan for the perfect day by hiring those you know will do a great job. Check reviews, check references, portfolios, and trust your gut.

I'm Tahiry (Tahiti - Like the island) and I specialize in outdoor weddings for my off-beat couples. The ones that aren't afraid to dance in the rain or walk to the beat of their own drum (while getting some good shots of it, too). Sound like you? Let's connect ❤️

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