Prospective brides, grooms and in-laws got a lesson in building the wedding of their dreams while navigating the hidden costs that come with such an event at a wedding planning "boot camp" Sunday afternoon in Wheaton.
The practical seminar was coordinated by Wendy Spencer of Yorkville-based Perfect Day Wedding Planners and featured a perfect example of a wedding reception venue as its own location -- Danada House in the Danada Forest Preserve.
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In addition to providing her own advice, Spencer brought in a volunteer vendor from nearly all the fields a wedding reception draws on -- including a DJ, photographer, dress designer, florist and even a travel agent.
Spencer started out telling the gathering of 45 people how a wedding planner differs from a wedding designer or coordinator. A planner handles every aspect of the event, while the others have more specific roles.
"A wedding planner is your advocate, to take the stress off you," Spencer said. "Find a planner you're comfortable with and with whom you can share what's important to you."
Even while creating an event that reflects the story and personalities of the bride and groom, every wedding should establish its budget first thing, she said.
As hard as it can be, controlling and even paring down a guest list is one of the most effective ways of controlling a wedding's cost, Spencer said.
Owner Jaysin Osterkamp and graphic designer Andrea Tyler of Night Owls Media in Elgin talked about the evolution of the wedding video. Osterkamp said he became a videographer in 1999, when most couples favored videos that were very "traditional" -- nearly as static as the wedding photos themselves.
But in recent years, that model has been turned on its head.
"Everything's about movement and the cinematic feel," Osterkamp explained. "I hide. I like to get the real moments."
One of his favorite ideas is to have the wedding party dressed to the nines in a somewhat grim-looking location. While it may sound strange, the juxtaposition makes for dynamic images, he said.
Among the couples at Sunday's event were Rebecca Carter and Marcus Cadena, who've just begun planning for a September 2013 wedding.
Though Spencer is already their planner, they said she encouraged them to come and see for themselves the range of resources available as they start making their decisions.