Your ultimate source for wedding ideas is here. Browse our library of wedding galleries, from elegant to rustic, rooftop to mountain, and every wedding style in between. Then go beyond inspiration and hire the vendor dream teams behind the weddings you love.

726 Results
A Desert Wedding for Annie and Robert A Desert Wedding for Annie and Robert
A Desert Wedding for Annie and Robert
Tucson, Arizona
A Formal Wedding for Chelsea and Bob A Formal Wedding for Chelsea and Bob
A Formal Wedding for Chelsea and Bob
Sea Island, Georgia
A Glam Wedding for Sarah and Joseph A Glam Wedding for Sarah and Joseph
A Glam Wedding for Sarah and Joseph
Dallas, Texas
A Classic Wedding for Erika and Sean A Classic Wedding for Erika and Sean
A Classic Wedding for Erika and Sean
Palm Beach, Florida
A Glam Wedding for Caroline and Natan A Glam Wedding for Caroline and Natan
A Glam Wedding for Caroline and Natan
Brooklyn, New York
A Glam Wedding for Dinah and Alexander A Glam Wedding for Dinah and Alexander
A Glam Wedding for Dinah and Alexander
New York, New York
A Mountain Wedding for Alli and Luke A Mountain Wedding for Alli and Luke
A Mountain Wedding for Alli and Luke
Beaver Creek, Colorado
A Mountain Wedding for Victoria and Chase A Mountain Wedding for Victoria and Chase
A Mountain Wedding for Victoria and Chase
Alta, Utah
An Edgy Wedding for Courtney and Josh An Edgy Wedding for Courtney and Josh
An Edgy Wedding for Courtney and Josh
Atlanta, Georgia
A Mountain Wedding for Emily and Jordan A Mountain Wedding for Emily and Jordan
A Mountain Wedding for Emily and Jordan
Aspen, Colorado
A Vintage Wedding for Alex and Daniel A Vintage Wedding for Alex and Daniel
A Vintage Wedding for Alex and Daniel
Brooklyn, New York
An Intimate Wedding for Chelsy and Brian An Intimate Wedding for Chelsy and Brian
An Intimate Wedding for Chelsy and Brian
Ojai, California
A Mountain Wedding for Teissia and Todd A Mountain Wedding for Teissia and Todd
A Mountain Wedding for Teissia and Todd
Wanship, Utah
A Formal Wedding for Alisa and Adrian A Formal Wedding for Alisa and Adrian
A Formal Wedding for Alisa and Adrian
Louisville, Kentucky
An Industrial Wedding for Kendal and Zach An Industrial Wedding for Kendal and Zach
An Industrial Wedding for Kendal and Zach
San Francisco, California
A Formal Wedding for Jules and Stephen A Formal Wedding for Jules and Stephen
A Formal Wedding for Jules and Stephen
Houston, Texas
A Formal Wedding for Samantha and Evan A Formal Wedding for Samantha and Evan
A Formal Wedding for Samantha and Evan
West Hartford, Connecticut
A Formal Wedding for Kodi and Garritt A Formal Wedding for Kodi and Garritt
A Formal Wedding for Kodi and Garritt
Sarasota, Florida
A Glam Wedding for Amanda and Jordan A Glam Wedding for Amanda and Jordan
A Glam Wedding for Amanda and Jordan
New York, New York
An Intimate Wedding for Jasmin and Jon An Intimate Wedding for Jasmin and Jon
An Intimate Wedding for Jasmin and Jon
Rutherford, California
A Formal Wedding for Federika and Juliano A Formal Wedding for Federika and Juliano
A Formal Wedding for Federika and Juliano
Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
A Formal Wedding for Phoebe and Frank A Formal Wedding for Phoebe and Frank
A Formal Wedding for Phoebe and Frank
Paris, France
A Modern Wedding for Natalie and Sam A Modern Wedding for Natalie and Sam
A Modern Wedding for Natalie and Sam
Melbourne, Australia
A Boho Wedding for Traci and Andy A Boho Wedding for Traci and Andy
A Boho Wedding for Traci and Andy
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
An Industrial Wedding for Amy and Torrey An Industrial Wedding for Amy and Torrey
An Industrial Wedding for Amy and Torrey
Brooklyn, New York
A Glam Wedding for Nasim and Shawn A Glam Wedding for Nasim and Shawn
A Glam Wedding for Nasim and Shawn
Dallas, Texas
A Glam Wedding for Jessica and Rob A Glam Wedding for Jessica and Rob
A Glam Wedding for Jessica and Rob
Chicago, Illinois
A Formal Wedding for Lauren and Vincent A Formal Wedding for Lauren and Vincent
A Formal Wedding for Lauren and Vincent
West Orange, New Jersey
An Edgy Wedding for Demi and James An Edgy Wedding for Demi and James
An Edgy Wedding for Demi and James
Private Residence
An Intimate Wedding for Bri and Adrianna An Intimate Wedding for Bri and Adrianna
An Intimate Wedding for Bri and Adrianna
San Francisco, California
A Formal Wedding for Sally and Joel A Formal Wedding for Sally and Joel
A Formal Wedding for Sally and Joel
San Francisco, California
A Formal Wedding for Rachel and Justin A Formal Wedding for Rachel and Justin
A Formal Wedding for Rachel and Justin
New York, New York
A Beach Wedding for Maggie and Charles A Beach Wedding for Maggie and Charles
A Beach Wedding for Maggie and Charles
Bal Harbour, Florida
A Boho Wedding for Brooke and Dalton A Boho Wedding for Brooke and Dalton
A Boho Wedding for Brooke and Dalton
San Juan Capistrano, California
A Glam Wedding for Remy and Philip A Glam Wedding for Remy and Philip
A Glam Wedding for Remy and Philip
Chicago, Illinois
A Formal Wedding for Mckenzie and Chop A Formal Wedding for Mckenzie and Chop
A Formal Wedding for Mckenzie and Chop
Aspen, Colorado
A Modern Wedding for Leslie and Joey A Modern Wedding for Leslie and Joey
A Modern Wedding for Leslie and Joey
Santa Barbara, California
A Classic Wedding for Brooke and Eric A Classic Wedding for Brooke and Eric
A Classic Wedding for Brooke and Eric
New York, New York
A Formal Wedding for Dani and Ian A Formal Wedding for Dani and Ian
A Formal Wedding for Dani and Ian
Santa Monica, California
A Beach Wedding for Tana and Mass A Beach Wedding for Tana and Mass
A Beach Wedding for Tana and Mass
Tulum, Mexico


Everything You Need to Know

Planning your wedding should be a joyous process that allows you to creatively express your personality while sharing this special day with friends and family. But wedding planning can also be a challenging and even overwhelming process. Which is why we’re here to help with wedding ideas, expert advice, wedding designs and options for wedding vendors in your area. If you are looking for wedding inspiration, look no further: We make finding inspiration easier with our searchable library of wedding galleries which you can filter to find exactly the type of wedding ideas you’re looking for. The Carats & Cake website is your best source of comprehensive information on real weddings and the vendors who helped to make them possible. If you are looking for the latest wedding trends or the wedding decor pictures you need to come up with your own wedding table ideas, wedding design or wedding themes, our library of real weddings is the perfect place to start. 

In a ormal year, about 2.5 million weddings are performed in the United States. Which can make sifting through the inspiration overwhelming. By identifying popular trends in wedding design and getting a sense of what you do and don’t like, you’ll find it easier to make decisions when it comes to selecting a cake, caterer and color palette for your ideal wedding. Checking out photographs of real weddings is the perfect place to start for couples who are planning their own weddings or looking for wedding inspiration for their upcoming nuptials. And if you’re in need of a little wedding advice, learn from our community of industry experts who regularly share their wisdom to make your wedding planning process as stress-free as possible.

This guide will provide you with a helpful wedding planning checklist and some helpful hints on each step in the process. Whether you are exploring barn wedding ideas or looking for bridal shoes or groom suit ideas, we’ve compiled and curated all the key elements involved in bringing your wedding ideas to life. We’ll help you with:

  • Finding the perfect location
  • Planning your budget
  • Selecting your unique wedding style
  • Choosing a venue or a wedding planner
  • Finding the right photographer
  • Picking out your caterer, florist and musicians
  • Shopping for a wedding dress
  • Choosing your invitations and stationery products
  • Securing your preferred wedding officiant
  • Sampling and selecting a wedding cake
  • Assembling your wedding hair and makeup team
  • Designing your wedding decor

Our site is a great resource throughout all of these steps. We offer an inside look at real-world weddings to help you find the perfect vendors for all aspects of your dream wedding. We’ll provide you with the wedding ideas and wedding inspiration you need to make your own wedding a special and long-remembered event for your friends and family members in attendance. We make it easy to filter our extensive library of real weddings to find the information and photos you need. You can search our photos and wedding ideas to find vendors and venues in your area, or that meet certain specific style or venue criteria. This can help you to find the perfect wedding examples to reference for your own ceremony and reception. Browsing our curated photos of weddings sorted by wedding themes will inspire you with wedding decorations ideas and wedding table ideas for creating the perfect atmosphere for your big event.

Step 1: Choose Your Wedding Location

The very first item on your wedding planning list should be the location for your ceremony and reception. Do you want to get married close to home, or in an exotic, faraway wedding destination? Have you always dreamed of walking down the aisle in your hometown? You and your partner may have special memories associated with a vacation or other location in your area or far from home. Deciding on the area in which you want to hold your wedding first can help you to narrow down available venues and dates for your very special day.

You may also want to consider the various guests you’re inviting to your wedding. Do they live near or far from your chosen wedding destination? Will they have the resources available to travel to your wedding if it is far from them? Would more of your invited guests be able to attend if you select a centralized location? Or are you happy to have your wedding party be a smaller, more intimate, self-selecting group who would travel to the ends of the earth to celebrate you? Thinking through these questions can help you determine the right location for your upcoming event.

If you do decide to have a destination wedding, it’s important to manage your expectations that even some of your closest friends or family may not be able to travel to your ceremony because of health or budget challenges. Destination weddings can be pricey, and you may find that your nearest and dearest simply are unable to afford the trip. If you are able to provide accommodation for traveling guests, or reduce costs with a hotel room block, this can help ease the financial burden for your guests—but it also increases your own. Discussing your wedding plans with the people whose presence at your wedding matters most to you can help you troubleshoot in advance, and ensure that you are surrounded by your most cherished loved ones at your celebration.

Of course your own budget will also play a role in determining where you will celebrate your wedding. Be sure to include the cost of travel for yourself and your partner—not just for the wedding itself, but for any necessary trips throughout the planning process—when considering where to have your wedding. 

Step 2: Choose Your Wedding Budget Priorities

As a benchmark, it may be helpful to know that the average cost of a wedding in 2020 was $20,300. While that cost varies wildly depending on where you are based—and can come in somewhat below, or exponentially higher—establishing a detailed wedding budget and sticking to it can help you and your partner manage your finances most effectively. This will give you a better start on your new life together, while allowing you to enjoy the wedding you want.

As mentioned, weddings vary in cost significantly depending on the area in which they will be held. In 2020, for instance, Massachusetts was the most expensive state in which to get married with an average cost of $30,489. By contrast, weddings in Arkansas averaged only $12,426. By choosing your location carefully, you may be able to save a considerable amount of money on the cost of your dream wedding.

If your family members are footing a portion of the bill, it’s important to discuss your plans with them to make sure that their contributions and your wishes are compatible. It can be an awkward conversation to have, but an essential one. If you and your partner are taking on the entire cost on your own, you may find that you have more flexibility in how you approach your ceremony and your reception (with less input from others), despite carrying the entire fiscal responsibility.

The best way to begin planning a wedding budget is to sit down with your partner and to discuss your priorities. Weddings are very personal events that should reflect your personal style, but there may be ways to execute your wedding reception ideas no matter your budget.

Step 3: Choose Your Wedding Style

Now for the fun part—and one of the most overwhelming. Maybe you’ve been compiling wedding ideas since your childhood, or maybe you need a little help and inspiration. Either way, our extensive library of weddings is full of wedding decorations ideas, and wedding decor pictures from literally thousands of real weddings to provide you with filter-able wedding inspiration so that you can hone in on exactly what you like. Whether you are looking for rustic wedding ideas or are planning an outdoor wedding, Carats & Cake is your best source for customized ideas and the latest wedding trend round-ups to facilitate your planning process.

One of the first things you may want to think about is whether you want an indoor or an outdoor wedding. Outdoor weddings are popular choices for spring, summer and fall weddings (because of the weather), though in warmer states and tropical areas, getting married outside can be an option year-round. But the beauty of an outdoor wedding is that really any design style can come to life in the great outdoors. If you’re excited by barn wedding ideas, browse our selection of barn weddings and filter by outdoor or indoor locations to see how you can create a rustic look in either space. Country weddings are another increasingly popular style that typically offer a more relaxed and down-home feel for you, your partner and your guests. Or if you’re more into elevated, glam wedding style, all of the above come to life beautifully at outdoor wedding venues, from gardens to hotels and everything in between. 

If you are dreaming of getting married with your feet in the sand, definitely check out our collection of beach wedding ideas. From Mexico to Florida, and Massachusetts to the Mediterranean, beach weddings are one of the most popular types of outdoor weddings that is truly like no other—and a beach wedding can be modern, boho, or really any other design style. 

If you know you want to get married outside but are not yet sure which style is right for you, just filter our wedding library to view all of our outdoor wedding ideas (which may be overwhelming, so we recommend narrowing the results by location, if you have one!), and see how all different wedding styles can work en plein air. Or if you picture your ceremony in a grand, gothic church or an elegant hotel ballroom, view our indoor weddings to see the many options in your area.

Choosing your wedding color palette and wedding styles will make the rest of the wedding planning process much easier. For many couples, selecting wedding colors can be the first step in establishing an overall wedding design. This can make it easier to plan out other elements of your ceremony and reception, including wedding decoration themes, wedding invitation ideas and the general look of your events.

Wedding styles are as individual as the couples who create them. Working with the right wedding planner or designer with experience creating country weddings, modern weddings, or any other style you like, will go a long way in bringing your vision to life. 

Step 4: Choose Your Wedding Venue or Wedding Planner

The next step in the wedding planning process is typically to select a wedding venue for your ceremony and reception, or a planner to help with the overall process, depending on how many ideas you already have in mind. If you’re not even sure where to begin the search for a venue, consider speaking with wedding planners in your area who will be able to assist with wedding venue ideas as well as all the other aspects of your wedding. Note that many venues have in-house wedding coordinators who specialize in assisting couples who have chosen that facility for their wedding, so if you have a space in mind it’s worth checking to see what planning services they may offer first. 

Finding a Wedding Venue

Breathtaking, meaningful wedding venues can make your wedding and reception that much more memorable. But specifically what type of wedding venue that means will be unique to you and your partner. Knowing what to look for in a wedding venue, from size, to formality level, to type, will help you determine the best choice for your ceremony and reception. Do you like the idea of a formal wedding in an opulent estate or hotel ballroom? Or are you more drawn to a relaxed, boho wedding on the beach or in the desert? The sky’s the limit, but by focusing on what kinds of things and places you and your partner are drawn to, you’ll be able to narrow your search.

Taking a tour of the venues you are considering is a key part of determining whether each location is right for you. If you are looking for a venue for an outdoor wedding, it’s ideal to take a walk in the area you are considering at the same time of year you plan to get married so that you can see what the space will look and feel like. This can help you pinpoint whether there are any issues that may need to be resolved before deciding if the venue is suitable for your needs. 

If you are looking for wedding venue ideas, looking through Carats & Cake‘s extensive library of real weddings is an excellent place to start. Whether you’re looking for beach weddings, country weddings, modern weddings and every option in between, seeing how other couples’ big days have come together in each space can help you determine whether each location type or specific venue is right for you. 

Finding a Wedding Planner

If you are lucky enough to work with an amazing wedding planner, he or she can be one of the most invaluable wedding vendors you can hire. But assessing someone’s skill set and determining if they will be a good personality fit for you can be a challenging process. In many cases, making a list of questions to ask potential wedding planners can help you find the perfect person—or planning team—for your ceremony and reception. This industry expert will be responsible for handling the ideation and execution of most aspects of your ceremony and reception, including suggesting wedding styles, helping with wedding cake ideas, sourcing wedding vendors in your area, even setting up tables and chairs on your wedding day. Not only can wedding planners be wonderful sources of inspiration and insight, they will also handle much of the detailed set-up on your wedding day that you will not have time for. 

Now, there are a few different kinds of wedding planning professionals you can bring in for your event: wedding planners, wedding coordinators, and wedding designers. Wedding planners help with the ideating, planning, and sourcing, in the months leading up to your wedding day, and the execution of the day itself. 

Wedding coordinators are similar in that they provide hands-on help to manage the logistics and set-up of your wedding ceremony and reception, but they are typically brought in closer to the wedding date and are less involved with coming up with ideas and sourcing vendors in those earlier months The right wedding coordinator or planner can handle all the last-minute aspects of your event to allow you to relax and reduce any stress associated with the wedding planning process. Some venues offer in-house wedding coordinators or “day-of coordinators” who will help you with the logistics of deliveries and setup at the venue, but nothing beyond that, like invitations or your wedding dress. 

Then there are wedding designers who focus predominantly on the wedding decor and overall aesthetic, but are not likely to be involved in other logistics like vendor contracts and budgeting, transportation, or managing the rehearsal. If the overall wedding decor and aesthetic is your #1 priority, it’s worth considering wedding designers who will be exclusively devoted to bringing your vision to life. 

Wedding coordinators and planners can be booked months or even years in advance. By looking early in your planning process, you can ensure that you have the right support throughout every stage, from selecting wedding vendors, to planning outdoor weddings and all other aspects of your special day. Even if your wedding venue does not have an in-house wedding coordinator, they may have trusted planners they have worked with in the past who they would recommend. Recommendations from friends are also incredibly valuable. But if you don’t know where to start,  search our library of real weddings by location and style to find weddings you like that took place in your area, then see who the wedding planners were and directly get in touch.

Whether you choose to go with a wedding coordinator associated with a specific venue or to interview wedding planners in your area, finding the right planning team can help you create an unforgettable wedding for yourself, your future spouse and your friends and family. 

Step 5: Choose Your Wedding Photographer

While it can be hard to prioritize one wedding vendor over another, remember that your wedding photographer is the person who is going to capture the rest of your vendor team’s months of hard work (and yours!), and make it last a lifetime. So finding a wedding photographer whose style you love—and whose personality you click with—is essential.

Like wedding designers and planners, photographers can often be booked solid for months and years into the future. Finding and securing the services of popular photographers early in the wedding planning process is key to making sure that you are as happy as possible with the person you end up with—and the photos you will cherish for years to come. Many photographers will gladly travel to your wedding  location, so you’re not necessarily limited to those based in the area (however, you will be expected to cover travel and accommodation for any vendors traveling for your event, including your photographer and his or her team.)

While you may not have initially considered the need for a wedding videographer, there’s nothing like having a customized film that enables you to relive the magic of your wedding day over and over again. If you do decide that you would like to have a videographer, it is ideal to choose someone who your wedding photographer has worked with, as they will be more likely to know how to play off of each other’s shot lists and schedule, as well as avoiding getting in the way of each other's shots. If you choose someone new, be sure to notify your photographer that there will be multiple people documenting the ceremony and reception so that they can collaborate beforehand.

Many wedding planners have existing relationships with photographers and videographers, which can make it much simpler to find the right professionals for your event. Personality is important because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your photographer and videographer on a very big day, and you want to look at ease, so it’s important to meet with the person and ideally do an engagement shoot as a test run. 

But ultimately it’s most important that you are happy with how your photographer/videographer captures different wedding styles and the emotion of the day. Viewing their work at other real weddings on Carats & Cake can help give you an idea of their use of light, framing, architecture, and wedding color palettes, as well as their ability to get people to relax for wedding portraits. This can help you to narrow down your choices to a few photographers and videographers who have documented wedding styles and venues similar to yours.

Step 6: Choose Your Wedding Caterer, Florist and Musicians

During your wedding planning process, you will select an array of wedding vendors to bring your wedding ideas to life, some of whom are more behind the scenes, and others who truly transform your guests’ experience. Three of these important guest-facing vendors are the caterers, florists and musicians who are enormous contributors to making your event a success implementing wedding themes in the most 360-way possible.. These in-demand professionals also tend to be popular and have limited availability so once you have your venue, date and planner locked in, start researching options for catering, flowers and music, and prioritize the vendors depending on what matters most to you. 

Catering for Weddings

Determining the right wedding catering option for you depends on the type of wedding you want to have (formal, relaxed, destination, etc.), which can dictate the types of food and format, in addition to the wedding decorations ideas you may have for your reception. If your venue doesn’t have in-house catering (like a resort, hotel or country club), they may have preferred caterers who have worked with the location before. Be sure to check with your venue to determine if they offer in-house catering services or have an approved list of caterers you should choose from. 

Your wedding planner can also be a great source for caterer recommendations, wedding menu ideas, and wedding table decorations. He or she can often provide you with guidance on the appropriate types of food and drinks for your chosen wedding style. Modern weddings, for example, may be best suited to an individually plated meal and an avant-garde selection of hors d'oeuvres. If you are looking at barn wedding ideas, you may want a hearty meal and prefer the less formal buffet format for your wedding dinner. Certain caterers will be a better fit for one style versus the other, so this is helpful to have in mind as you do your research.  Making sure your wedding menu ideas are in line with the environment in which the food and drinks will be served—as well as the catering company you’ve chosen to serve them—can help to make your event a success.

Before deciding on a caterer, you may want to review the latest trends in wedding catering as well as photos of their culinary presentation and food options to ensure that your wedding menu ideas feel fresh and exciting. If you already have locked-in wedding design and wedding reception ideas, you should also let your potential caterers know to make sure that the menu and presentation coordinate with the overall theme and atmosphere of the evening. And if you have specific wedding menu ideas, like a favorite hors d'oeuvre or a traditional family dish, be sure to discuss them with any caterers you are considering to confirm that they can be incorporated into your overall catering plan. 

When looking for wedding menu ideas, it is important to consider the potential allergies or preferences of your guests. Investigating vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free wedding dessert ideas and grooms cake ideas can help you to make sure that there are suitable desserts for everyone on your guest list. This can also narrow down some of your wedding cake ideas to make the process of choosing a wedding cake easier for you and your partner.

Browsing our library of weddings in the area to see photos of some of the food—and the presentation of it—created by local caterers can give you a sense of what you could expect at your reception (as well as some great wedding menu ideas). This will help you come up with a short list of favorites to reach out to and schedule a tasting—one of the best parts of wedding planning!

Florists for Weddings

Flowers are one of the most traditional—and yet one of the most breathtaking parts of wedding decor. And while it may be traditional for brides to carry a bouquet of flowers down the aisle, or to adorn the aisle, altar, and wedding table decorations with luscious arrangements, that doesn’t mean the flower design needs to be traditional. Quite to the contrary, flower design options can vary as much as the styles of weddings they’re created for. From sculptural orchids for modern weddings to pampas plumes at boho style receptions, the right wedding florist can create unforgettable arrangements that complement your wedding decoration themes to perfection.

A top florist will also be on the cusp of the latest trends, from royal-inspired wedding flowers (especially in years when a royal wedding has taken place!), to the increasingly popular dried flower bouquets, which provide a beautiful keepsake for you and your bridal party. And don’t feel limited to only incorporating flowers into the decor: Flowers can also serve as hair decorations to replace a veil or to adorn it with a splash of color. 

Whomever is leading your wedding design (ie, your wedding planner or designer) will likely have florist recommendations, but it is good to meet with a few options. In many cases, knowing what questions to ask your wedding florist can also provide you with added confidence that your floral ideas will come to fruition on your big day. 

But if you’re feeling at a loss for how to figure out how to determine what wedding flower ideas you like, and how to find a great florist to create them, the Carats & Cake library of photos from real weddings will help you find innovative and beautiful wedding bouquet ideas from top florists in your area. Not only is this a great resource for  wedding bouquet ideas and wedding decor pictures that you can filter by season to understand what flowers will be in bloom in your area when you are getting married, but once you’ve found some favorites, you can get in touch directly with the florists who created them. Or start with a local wedding florist search and click to see examples of their work. 

Musicians and DJs for Weddings

Your wedding musicians set the tone for your big day, beginning with your ceremony and going all the way to the very last song on the dance floor. Your choices are ultimately specific ceremony musicians (such as a string quartet) who may continue to play for cocktail hour, followed by a live band or wedding DJ for your reception. 

One of the best ways to choose wedding musicians you will love is by thinking back to weddings you have attended and trying to recall any receptions where the music was particularly noteworthy. Your friends and family members may also have suggestions for live wedding bands or DJs who specialize in weddings—or may want to consider inviting a talented family member or friend to sing or play for your ceremony or reception. If you do decide on a DJ for your reception, you should know that asking the right questions when interviewing a wedding DJ can often help you to determine whether their services are right for your event.

While there is no substitute for hearing a band or DJ for yourself in person, Carats & Cake’s library of weddings in your area with complete vendor lists—and photos of guests enjoying themselves at real weddings—can be a helpful place to start your musical entertainment research. If you cannot arrange to see the band, musicians or DJ in person, you can request recordings or check out their websites to determine if their song lists and styles are in line with your own wedding idea and overall aesthetic.

Step 7: Choose Your Wedding Dress

Whether you would call yourself a “Fashion Bride” or see yourself as more traditional, choosing a wedding dress that is perfect for you is a big decision. From movies to runways to celebrity wedding dresses, inspiration is truly everywhere, which can feel incredibly overwhelming. 

A great place to start is by thinking about your wedding venue and the kind of ambiance it will create on your wedding day, which may be better suited to some dress styles more than others. A stiff ball gown would feel out of place on a beach in the way that a simple, understated slip-dress could feel underwhelming at a grand estate. Barn wedding ideas may be more compatible with wedding dress ideas that are more rustic and casual than those set in a more formal indoor environment. It’s good to start thinking about what styles you like once you have your wedding venue set. For curated wedding dress ideas that are specific to your wedding styles, check out the Carats & Cake site to see what other couples wore to get married at your wedding venue and to view dresses that other brides chose for weddings in a similar style or location. 

In general, you will need to order your wedding dress at least eight months before the wedding—and don’t forget to allow time to hunt for the perfect dress! Eight months allows enough time for custom production as well as any fittings or alterations. If you already have bridal accessories, hair, or wedding bouquet ideas that you know you want to incorporate, it is a good idea to keep those preferences in mind when shopping for your wedding dress. And, of course, think about what will be most flattering on you!

Step 8: Choose Your Wedding Invitations

Your wedding stationery is often the first impression that guests will have of your wedding themes, wedding colors and the overall wedding design. But when looking for wedding invitation ideas, it is important to keep in mind that your invitation will also be the primary source of information for your guests: the location and time of the ceremony and reception, the type of attire expected and the environment in which it will take place. Taking the time to look for wedding invitation ideas that complement your wedding themes and wedding colors can help you establish an overall wedding design that will make the most positive impression on your invited guests.

We often think about wedding stationery as limited to the invivitations themselves, but any save-the-date announcements, welcome bag enclosures, place cards, menus and ceremony programs will also be part of your stationery order and design. A talented wedding stationer or illustrator will create a cohesive visual design that aligns with your wedding theme and evolves with each additional component that guests receive. Look for a stationer who will understand how to incorporate all of your wedding invitation ideas with their own artistic style and abilities. Together with your planner, this expert will help you navigate wedding invitation wording and etiquette, and all the many questions that come along with it.

You may want to check with your printer in advance to make sure there are no delays or supply chain issues expected when ordering these printed materials for weddings. If you have any examples of unique wedding invitations to share, your printer will be able to take your inspiration and transform it into a wedding suite that suits your style perfectly. For wedding invitation ideas based on your wedding style or color palette, browse the Carats & Cake wedding library and filter by style, color, or season to find the most on-trend and on-theme wedding invitations for your day.

Step 9: Choose Your Wedding Officiant

While considering your wedding decor ideas and checking out the latest wedding trends, you should also take time to be thoughtful about selecting an officiant for your wedding. A wedding officiant is the person who leads the ceremony and will officially marry you and your partner on your wedding day, which can be a member of the clergy, a justice of the peace, certain tiers of government officials (such as a mayor or governor), and any other person who is authorized by the state to perform marriage ceremonies. The laws regarding who can perform a marriage in the US varies by state (as do most other specific marriage laws), so be sure to check the state and/or clerk’s office in the location where your wedding is taking place for the most accurate and relevant marriage laws.

So how do you find and choose a wedding officiant? The first step in this process is to determine whether you and your partner would prefer a religious or a secular service. Some religious officiants may require that your ceremony take place in a specific place of worship. If that is not what you had in mind, it may be helpful to view other weddings that took place at your venue on Carats & Cake, and see if there are any religious officiants who have performed ceremonies there.

Your venue may also be a great resource for finding officiants who have performed ceremonies there in the past. This can be especially helpful if you are getting married in an area with which you are not familiar. It is important to touch base with your preferred officiant well before the date of your wedding. For religious officiants, you may be asked to undergo premarital counseling, which can take several weeks or months, so be sure to factor that into your timeline. 

If you prefer to have a secular service, you may want to consider having a close friend or family member be ordained to perform your ceremony personally. This is one of the most increasingly popular wedding trends, and is a way to ensure that your family and friends are involved in the ceremony in a meaningful way.

Step 10: Choose Your Wedding Cake

Whether you are looking for the latest wedding cake trends or are more inspired by traditional, royal wedding cakes, there are endless options for how to incorporate your design—and also make sure that it’s delicious! In order to create a cohesive look for weddings and receptions, wedding cakes should reflect the wedding colors and incorporate elements from the overall wedding design. 

When looking for a wedding cake bakery to create this special dessert for your big day, it’s helpful to go into the search understanding what wedding cakes cost on average, and how that fits into your overall budget. Wedding cake prices average about $350-$500 in the US. This price can go up significantly, however, depending on the type and size of cake you choose. In general, cakes are priced by the slice for weddings. Your wedding planner or venue coordinator may be able to provide you with some information on the latest wedding trends for cakes in your area.

What determines the cost of a wedding cake? In general, the size, the intricacy of the design, the chosen ingredients, and the caliber and specific pricing of the bakery are the biggest factors. Delivery and service on the day of the wedding and reception may also be charged at a flat fee or as a percentage of the overall cost of weddings. Depending on the location of the bakery and its distance to your venue, you may also be required to pay for travel and accommodations for the service team.

Once you’ve nailed down your wedding cake budget, it’s time to brainstorm what style and flavors you might like, and who the best bakery will be to bring your vision to life. Are you drawn to ornate, embellished cakes? Do you want a wedding cake topper? Looking at pictures of real weddings is a great way to decide what you do and don’t like, and Carats & Cake is a great place to start your research. Our extensive wedding library is full of photos of extravagant wedding cakes, rustic styles, and modern versions as well. Filter the galleries by your location and wedding style for curated wedding cake inspiration that aligns with your overall wedding theme, then get in touch with the bakeries who created your favorites to schedule a tasting—another highlight of wedding planning! 

Step 11: Choose Your Wedding Hair and Makeup Team

Your wedding is one of the most special days of your life, and there are a couple reasons to consider bringing in a professional wedding hair and makeup team for the event. First of all, they can ensure that you will not only look but feel your best on your wedding day—and in the photos you’ll cherish from the day for years to come. And secondly, if ever there was a day to treat yourself to some extra pampering, this is it! 

Choosing a hairstylist and makeup artist for your is an important step—because you want to look like the best version of yourself, so finding the team who understands what that is is key. Whether you want to emulate the latest trends in hair accessories or the most popular wedding makeup looks, it’s helpful to share photos of yourself that you feel are at your best so that they can understand your personal preferences. But also share all your wedding ideas too, of course! 

Knowing how to work with a makeup artist can help you to communicate what you are looking for and incorporate your favorite wedding ideas into your look. Your makeup artist will work with you to provide options that complement your overall wedding themes, but in a subtle way—like a red lip color for a holiday-timed wedding reception. Your professional makeup artist can also provide you with exclusive wedding makeup ideas that will enhance your radiance and beauty.

Even if you have honed in on exactly which wedding hair ideas and wedding makeup ideas you want, it is important to schedule a test of these styles before the day arrives. This will ensure that your ideas will flatter your face and overall bridal look, and confirm that the beauty pros you have chosen are the right ones to execute your vision. If you are considering wedding hair ideas that include veils and hair accessories, updos or anything super specific, be sure to bring those accessories, or at least photos, to show your hairstylist at your test. 

If you’re unsure where to begin, start by looking through our library of photographs of real weddings to see the latest wedding makeup ideas and hair styles. Filter the galleries by location to find photos of brides who got married in your area who you think look particularly stunning, then get in touch with the wedding hair and makeup team who they worked with.

Step 12: Choose Your Wedding Decor

In the final months leading up to your wedding, once most of your weddings have been brought in, your wedding theme and vision have been honed, and the wheels are turning to put it into motion, that’s when the real fun begins and the final touches of your wedding decor come to life.

In the process of coming up with your wedding design, as you researched wedding themes, you likely came across numerous examples of wedding decor that exemplified the styles you love. If you’re early in the wedding planning process, it’s a great idea to save these ideas as you come across them when looking at wedding venues, photographers, etc. so that you can revisit them as each wedding vendor partner is brought on board. Looking through the Carats & Cake wedding photo library and searching by style is a great place to start collecting examples of wedding decor you love, from wedding table ideas to lounge furniture and signage. Or filter by your chosen wedding colors to see all the wedding decor ideas that could work for your event. 

In general your wedding decor will include your table settings, any centerpieces, chairs, tables and other furniture for your ceremony and reception including lounge areas and bars, tents for outdoor weddings, lighting, and that’s only just the beginning. The possibilities are truly endless when you’ve got big wedding decoration ideas and the right team in place. For a truly over-the-top experience, one of the most popular wedding trends is the addition of full-on artistic installations for your wedding decor that can turn your wedding design into an interactive work of art. This wedding idea can be carried through to the wedding cake design and flower arrangements to coordinate with your wedding themes perfectly.

Once you’ve compiled photos of your favorite wedding decor ideas, share them with your planner or wedding designer who will ensure that the design is cohesive from your flowers to your wedding paper, and that the overall vision is executed. You can also browse wedding rental companies and see how their pieces have been featured as part of the decor of real weddings on our site. The Carats & Cake wedding library is full of wedding table ideas and photos of wedding table decorations along with other wedding reception ideas, with a complete list of rental companies, tent providers, and lighting designers so that you can try to recreate your favorite design elements.  We can help you find the wedding decor providers you need to make your ceremony and reception truly special for yourself, your partner and all those who attend.

Carats & Cake Is Here for All Your Wedding Planning Needs

At Carats & Cake, we offer photos of real weddings that provide inspiration for weddings and receptions all over the world. We offer insights into wedding trends, expert advice from industry pros, and practical wedding inspiration that can help you and your partner find exquisite wedding ideas sure to make your big day truly memorable for you and your new spouse. Browse our searchable library of weddings to find inspiration from weddings in your area, then get in touch with the local wedding vendors behind your favorites.