By Kelly Gillooley, Event Planner on Shelter Island

He liked it, so he put a ring on it… Now what? Consider this your East End Wedding Survival Guide…

As a wedding planner for nearly ten years and newlywed myself, I have searched high and low to find the best vendors, and just as importantly, the best deals!

Every woman has an idea of what they want for their wedding; but when the time comes, reality strikes and we have to come to terms with that ugly word- BUDGET.

Ladies, the budget shouldn’t crush your caviar dreams. It just means that you have to do your research. Or, in this case, take advantage of my research.

Before I could work on the reception I had to consider the ceremony. If you are like me and churches are not your thing, think outside the box. The beach is fabulous… unless of course you’ve got uncooperative weather, or your fellow beach-goers do not think that your nuptials should necessitate them wearing a top. Think outside the box- art galleries are perfect because they are often white and pristine when the art is removed- they become your own blank canvas. Also, talk to your reception site. Many offer a separate location on their grounds for your ceremony (bonus- no need to travel between your ceremony and reception site).

There is a misconception that a tented backyard wedding will save you big bucks. This is not the case. Now you need everything from bathrooms to salt & pepper shakers and everything in-between. That being said, you do get to pick every detail of your big day. It means more work, but also lots of fun.

Every wedding magazine will offer you a checklist of all the things that you have to think about, so I will not bore you with that. However, what they won’t tell you is where to spend your money and exhaust your creative side. I say that it is on those things that everyone will collectively experience:

Your escort cards: It is usually the first thing that everyone sees. These are a great DIY project so be creative or seek the advice of your florist. We headed to Michaels bought scrap book paper and a paper-cutter and made pendants hug from a clothes line.

Your menu: The Ram’s Head Inn shared in our locavore philosophy so we were able to serve just that- think local duck, bass, clams, etc. The added bonus is that locally sourced food often costs less and is much fresher. We opted to do a family style meal which encouraged our guests to chat and mingle and kept the seated meal from feeling too formal. And let’s face it, you cannot recover from serving a bad meal to 200 of your closest friends and family, so this is not the place to nickel and dime.

Your band: What’s a party with bad music? “Cracked Ice” did everything from Sam Cooke to Beyonce and never once attempted to get everyone to do the Macarena.

Your flowers: they can be eclectic or grandeous- but they are going on every table and really complete your look. Kim-Jon can also incorporate lighting and style your event from top to bottom.

Your photographer: Aside from your husband, the pictures are the only thing that will last forever. Find the photographer that gets your style, and be sure to include an album in your package- you will never find the time to do it yourself!

The most important thing that you should do is make sure the day reflects yours and your intended’s style. If you are into wine- have people sign a special bottle of wine instead of a guest book. Save the bottle for your 10th anniversary. Arrive by boat if you are avid sailors; have a photo booth with fun props- whatever it is, the small details that reflect your personality are what everyone walks away remembering.

Here are our picks for the best vendors on The East End:

McBurnie Tent Company- a mom and pop shop that has gorgeous tents at a fraction of the cost of other companies.

Island Portables- not the most pleasant part to think about for your wedding day, but trailer bathrooms keep guests from feeling like they are out camping. They are air-conditioned, have music and an attendant.

Party Rental- Head to the show room in Bridgehampton. They have LITERALLY everything that you need, from tables to salt & pepper shakers.

Kim-Jon Designs- they offer a personal approach to helping create the look for your day- and have some of the best prices on the east end

Reception and Caterers:
The Ram’s Head Inn- absolutely exquisite location only surpassed by its cuisine.

North Fork Express- offering buses of all sizes at great prices.

Todd Shapera- master of his craft. He can accomplish any style with ease and grace.

Cracked Ice- simply unbeatable!

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