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The Chattanooga Wedding Planning Ultimate Guide

Updated: May 10


Sunny day looking over downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee River

If you're planning a wedding in Chattanooga, you'll want to read this guide! It includes everything from finding the right venue to choosing the perfect dress. We've also got tips for hiring vendors and planning your ceremony and reception. So whether you're just starting to plan your wedding or you're already well into the process, this guide will help you make sure everything goes smoothly.


1. Budget

One of the first things you'll need to do before planning your wedding in Chattanooga is to establish a budget. This will help allocate money throughout the planning process, and it will give you an idea of what you can or cannot afford (like that dream venue or luxurious honeymoon suite). There are many different places online where you can get a rough estimate of what your wedding should cost, depending on where it takes place and how many guests you have.


2. Location

Once you have established a budget, you should decide on a location in Chattanooga. When it comes to finding the perfect venue, keep these things in mind: How many people are you expecting? Is there enough parking? What is your guest limit? You don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or overcrowded with a venue that is too small. The average guest count for a wedding in the United States is around 150-300. How much does each location cost? Is there an alternate site if it rains (many venues will not allow ceremony or reception to take place outdoors if there is rain). Where is it located? How many guests will that location hold? Where are the different locations for your ceremony, reception, and guests staying if you have a hotel block set up?

Choosing a location for your wedding reception and/or ceremony is very important. Most weddings either take place in a church, manor house, or hotel (which can also be decorated to reflect the season or theme of the wedding). Consider the distance that guests will have to travel, parking availability, and whether there are any restrictions such as noise levels. Also, make a list of everything you would like to have available at your event and decide what is important to you. Some brides want ice sculptures, while others prefer a candy bar or photo booth.


3.Date/Time

Once you have a budget and a location, it's time to pick a date and time of day. It's important to double-check with the location and be aware of any blackout dates (holidays, etc.) that may come up. Also, depending on the location, you may be limited to certain days of the week. For example, many chapels only allow weddings on Fridays and Saturdays. And if you are planning an evening wedding, make sure it doesn't conflict with other events that will take place at the venue (such as a popular restaurant or concert). Also, depending on where you are having your wedding, you may have to factor in travel time. Travel time can be compared to the "rush hour" traffic of wedding guests. If you are having your wedding far away from guests' homes, they will most likely leave earlier to make sure they arrive on time and don't miss anything important (such as the ceremony or reception).


4. Ceremony

Most weddings include a ceremony typically held at a "venue." A venue could be a church, synagogue, chapel, or other romantic location. This will depend completely on what type of wedding you are planning and your affiliations with any religious institutions. Once the location has been decided on, it's time to think about the wedding ceremony. How long do you want it to be? What parts of the ceremony will you include? Will the wedding be formal or informal? There are many different types of ceremonies that range from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on your preference and affiliations with any religious institution.


5. Season

When planning your wedding, one of the most important things you will have to consider is the time of year when it will take place. Many brides want their wedding to be in the spring or summer because it's considered "wedding season." If your goal is to have a larger guest list that includes people from out of town, you may find that people are more willing to travel during the spring and summer months. Although winter weddings also have their advantages – it's easier to get a venue without any scheduling conflicts, and wedding guests will be more likely to clear their schedules for such an occasion. Some of the most popular times for weddings include Spring (March-May), Summer (June-August), Fall (September-November), and Winter/Holiday (December).


6. Theme/Style

This is where you get to have some fun! Your family traditions or religious affiliations will likely influence the "theme" of the wedding, but many different styles can be used regardless of your background. This is also where you get to include little details about yourself and what you love. Some popular styles of weddings include:

Traditional – This style will most likely consist of the bride wearing a white wedding dress and is considered "formal." Other elements could include bridesmaids (in matching dresses, not white) and the use of religious artifacts such as crosses or Torahs.

Modern – A modern wedding can be anything from casual to formal, depending on the time of day and what you include in your ceremony. This can include anything from a cocktail or beach-style reception to an outdoor/garden party.

Elegant – Elegance is always classy, but this style can range from dressy casual to very traditional. Like "traditional" weddings, brides often wear white wedding dresses.

Casual – Casual weddings are generally shorter in length and typically fall into two categories: outdoor/garden or beach-themed weddings. Casual weddings are generally referred to as "intimate."


7. Dress

Choosing your bridal gown is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process! Many brides choose their dress first and then begin to plan the rest of their wedding around it. Not all brides want s white dress. Whether you are wearing white, cream, ivory, or any other color, the important thing is to feel beautiful and comfortable on your special day! You can also choose to wear more than one dress throughout the wedding events (i.e., wearing a different dress for your ceremony than you do for the reception).


8. Flowers

Choosing the flowers for your wedding is another important decision that you will have to make. There are a wide variety of both seasonal and non-seasonal flowers that you can choose from, depending on what will look best in your pictures and at your venue. Some popular seasonal flower choices include Spring – Daffodils, Dandelions, Tulips, Forsythia, and Hyacinths.

Summer – Peonies, Water Melon. Sunflowers

Fall – Chrysanthemums, Mums, Pumpkins/Gourds

Winter/Holiday - Poinsettias There are many non-seasonal flowers that can be used year-round, such as Roses, Calla Lavenders, Orchids, Hydrangeas


9. Invitations/Stationery

Your invitations are your first glimpse at your big day! This is where the information will be included about who, what, when, and where so that all of your wedding guests have everything they need to know. Your stationery can include everything from your invitations and wedding programs to your thank you notes. It is often smart to hire a professional calligrapher or wedding invitation designer to help you create the perfect design that will also fit your wedding theme.


10. Music/Entertainment

Music is arguably the most important element in any ceremony and reception. You will want to choose your entertainment based on the tone of your wedding. For example, if you are celebrating a formal, traditional wedding with lots of religious traditions, priests or rabbis may be present, so playing instrumental versions of popular songs could be greatly frowned upon. Also, consider whether or not your location will have sound systems already in place. You might not want to bring a band or DJ if a sound system is already set up. If you are choosing a live musician, consider hiring members from the same musical genre as the music you will be playing at your ceremony and reception.


11. Menu

The menu is another very important decision that you will have to make; however, you can always make changes throughout the planning process if your guest list or venue has changed. Some bridal couples prefer buffet-style dining (this allows guests to go back for second servings); others choose family-style dining (food is served at each table), and a few choose a combination of both. You can also choose to hire a caterer or opt for a potluck meal with family and friends! Consider the dietary restrictions of your wedding party, guests, and venue when choosing your menu.


12. Food and Cake

Next, you will need to decide on your menu. You should consider how many courses you want and what food options will be available. Once the menu has been set, it's time to book a venue for the reception. Don't forget about the dietary restrictions of guests! Travel distances can again affect the overall cost of creating a wedding menu. Next, you will need to book a caterer and find out pricing, including how many servings they will provide for the number of guests you'll be having. Most venues will include basic staples such as hors d'oeuvres or chafing dishes if they do not provide full catering.

After the menu has been decided on, it's time to book a cake (if you are planning on having one). Most couples will want to book their wedding cake about 6-8 months before the ceremony.


13.Decorations & Details

Your wedding decorations can really bring your theme together. This is a popular choice for brides who do not want to add too much stress to their big day. One important detail that should not be overlooked is table numbers or escort cards- you'll need plenty of these at the reception! Candles, candles and more candles are a great way to decorate. If you are planning to have an outdoor ceremony, hanging flowers or lights will complete the look. Decorations for the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and place settings are another important detail to remember.


14. Your Wedding Attire & Accessories

Pick out your wedding attire first! Your groom will want to see what you are wearing before he makes his choice. When selecting attire, keep in mind that you don't have to stick with the traditional white or ivory wedding dress. You can also choose to be creative! Think about including your bridesmaids, flower girls, and even the mothers in your wedding outfits if you are choosing dresses with a color scheme that works for everyone. Don't forget accessories - headpieces, jewelry, shoes, veils, and purses should all be included on your list.


15. Photographer & Videographer

Hire a professional wedding photographer and videographer if you don't want to use the free photo booths or disposable cameras that are available for your guests. These professionals can really capture your day in all of its glory! Your options include hiring an individual, working with an agency (a cheaper option), or asking one of your friends to photograph and/or videotape the big day. Make sure to check references and portfolios.


16. Cake Designer

Cake designers can help you create a beautiful wedding cake that is also unique. Many bakeries offer customizable options for cakes, but if you are looking for a designer to make a custom creation, look online or ask friends and family who they recommend. The success of the cake will be dependent on the quality of ingredients used, so make sure to find a bakery or designer that uses top-of-the-line ingredients.


17. Wedding Party.

You will need to find out who is willing to be at your wedding party, so ask early on. This decision should be based on the size of your family and friends. You may also want to decide which roles each person will have. You will also want to consider what type of attire you would like for each member of the wedding party and any special details they might have. It's also a good idea to coordinate with the bridal party members so that they are dressed in a similar manner.


18. Transportation for Your Wedding Party

One of the most important details to remember is wedding transportation for your bridal party and/or guests. Arrangements will need to be made for getting everyone around in a timely manner, so think about renting a shuttle bus or limousine service. Another option is to provide public transportation such as cabs or buses for guests that do not live locally. But do keep in mind that these all need to be booked at least a few months ahead of time.


19. Welcome Bags

This is a very nice touch that you can include for your guests. Welcome bags are a great way to make your guests feel special from the moment they arrive at the venue, and they also ensure that they will have all of the essentials they need during their stay. You can include things like maps of the area, pamphlets from local attractions, and overnight discounts at certain hotels in the bag that they will receive when arriving at their hotel room. You will want to think about what types of items you would like to include in the bags, but it is also up to you if you would like to do custom items or commercially available ones.


20. Reception invitations

The wedding invitation sets the tone for the entire guest list. It's important to think about what you would like your guests to experience when they open their invitation, so give this some thought ahead of time. Make sure to include the names of all members of the wedding party and any children who will be involved in the ceremony or reception. You can choose to use one invitation or split up the information by separating it into two cards - one for the wedding ceremony and one for the reception.


21. Hair & Makeup

Your bridal party will need to get their hair and makeup professionally done the morning of your wedding. Make sure to choose a makeup artist who specializes in weddings. The last thing you want is for someone's lipstick or eye shadow color to clash with her outfit, so ask around for recommendations from friends and family members who have had this service performed before.


22. Decorations

Decorations are another detail that needs to be planned ahead of time. You will want to hire a professional decorator who can set up the venue the way you want it, but make sure they are available on your wedding day. If you choose to do the decorations yourself, then pick out items inside and outside the venue that go together. If you are staying within a certain color palette, make sure to stick to it for your venue choice of decorations.

Most venues also require that you book the table decor and things like lighting and projection equipment for special effects 6-12 months in advance. You should also start thinking about any other little details that might be included with your big day!


23. Bridesmaid & Flower Girl Gifts

It's a nice gesture to give your bridal party and other involved children gifts that they can have to commemorate their involvement in your big day. This is an easy way to say thank you for all of the hard work they put into helping you with the wedding, so it doesn't have to be anything extravagant. You can simply give them a gift certificate to their favorite store, an item that they've been wanting, or even a gift card for taking photos on the big day!


24. Thank You Cards

You will want to send your guests a thank you note after the wedding, but make sure to do it in a timely manner. One good idea is to include pictures of the couple from the wedding day with the thank you card that they receive along with their present or something else that can serve as an added bonus. This way, your guests will have something to put on their wall or keep in a scrapbook that they can look back on.


25. The after party

After the wedding, it's time for everybody to let their hair down. Look into hiring a private event space that has enough room for a big group of people since the whole point is to have a memorable time! You can always hire a themed entertainment company to provide music and other services if you want the party to have a set schedule. This is a great way to keep people entertained all night long and make sure they don't leave early!


26. Make a toast

Before you go out partying with your friends, make sure that everybody will go around and toast to the new couple. Also, make a speech of your own, thanking all of the people who have been a part of this incredible journey from start to finish! Even though you might be tired from partying late into the night, it's important that you do not go to bed as the bride and groom until everybody else has left. You should expect a big day ahead of you the next morning and will need to meet with all of your vendors, so be sure everyone leaves at a decent hour.


27. After party cleanup

Once the last guest has left, it's time for some well-deserved rest! However, before going to bed, you'll want to make sure that you clean up everything that was left behind at the venue. This includes everything from flowers that haven't been picked up off of the ground to food scraps and garbage. You should also make sure that you turn in any forms or other documents that were required for your wedding. Finally, you will want to put all of your rented items back where they belong to ensure that you can get them another time if needed!


28. Honeymoon

Finally, the wedding is behind you, and now it's time to have some fun on your honeymoon! Give yourself plenty of time to plan this destination event since flights book up fast. Some good ideas are somewhere tropical where you can enjoy a beautiful beach vacation during the day and then head out for nightlife in an exciting city at night. Also, don't forget to consider things like guidebooks for your destination and whether or not you're going to need travel insurance.

Planning a wedding in Chattanooga is no easy task, but it's definitely worth it in the end! Make sure to start planning as early as possible and take advantage of all of the wonderful resources available to you. The best piece of advice we can give is to enjoy the process - it goes by quickly!
























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