Want tips for your Connecticut? Here’s all our best tips from both my wedding and my sister’s.
Our Connecticut wedding was a dream. It was the perfect place to have a wedding since we had family coming from New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylavania. We also chose to have our wedding in Connecticut because that’s where Mike and I met in high school.
We also loved having the wedding in Essex, Connecticut not only because of the New England charm, but it was a good weekend trip spot for people coming from hours away. There was more to do for everyone than just go to our wedding.
Here are my best personal tips for planning your Connecticut wedding. It includes advice from my sister’s own backyard wedding.
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1. Pick a Connecticut Wedding Venue First
Before you pick your hotel, band, photographer, etc., I highly recommend picking out your Connecticut wedding venue first. By choosing a venue location first, you’ll be able to choose vendors nearby to work with.
The Lace Factory
After checking out a handful of wedding venues in Connecticut, Mike and I personally chose to get married at the Lace Factory. We wanted something unique and the Lace Factory fit the bill.
As its name suggests, it’s an old lace factory so it has a really industrial feel to it. It’s not like the usual wedding mills that have two weddings going on at the same time but on different sides. You have the whole place to yourself.
We also chose the Lace Factory because we could have our ceremony across the street outdoors on the river. But don’t worry– if it’s wintertime or rainy season, then you can have a gorgeous ceremony indoors at the Lace Factory too.
Lastly, the owner of the Lace Factory lives in the building herself. She’s very hands-on and is a joy to be around with. You’ll love working with a true mom-and-pop wedding venue.
To save costs, my sister chose to have a backyard wedding at her husband’s relative’s home, and it was stunning and ONLY $1500.
She got married a few years after me, and I had wished that she got married before me so I could see that a wedding does not need to cost a lot to be beautiful. I had spent a lot of time nitpicking over small details when all that matter was having fun on the wedding day.
If you choose a backyard wedding in Connecticut, make sure it’s big enough to house everyone you want and somewhat aesthetic. My brother-in-law’s relative’s home had a huge backyard with hydrangea bushes everywhere.
2. Choose a Fun Hotel for Guests
Since my wedding was essentially a three-day affair with the rehearsal dinner and party for early guests, wedding and brunch day after, I wanted to pick a fun hotel that would make this weekend feel like a getaway for friends and family.
Because of this, we chose Griswold Inn in Essex, CT as our hotel.
Griswold Inn is a cluster of old homes and buildings made into one hotel covering the “downtown” area. It’s been in movies and tv shows, was the spot for protests for Women’s Rights, and housed guests and workers who made a stop at the river by Griswold Inn going from Hartford to New York on the steamboat.
Our guests loved the location of Griswold Inn since it’s a walkable area with cute shops like an ice cream store. They could also walk down to the pier and watch the boats.
It’s great for kids because there are lots of train activities to do nearby. This train even passed by while we shot photos with family.
We specifically loved this hotel for our wedding because:
- The hotel is not a traditional one. Rooms are split up into several buildings in downtown Essex so it feels like everyone is part of the town instead of in one building.
- The entire bridal party stayed in one building, which was super fun for them, whereas my family had their own standalone 2-floor suite, which was convenient for them.
- We had a little welcome party for guests the night before the wedding in the building where the bridal party stayed. This is also where we hung out after the wedding late night.
- We had both our rehearsal dinner and brunch at the hotel.
To get guests to and from the hotel to the ceremony, we hired a bus but unfortunately I do not have the name of this bus company anymore.
First Look at the Griswold Inn
Mike and I opted to have our first look before the wedding so we could spend more time eating and drinking than taking photos. I also wanted to look FRESH!
Because of this, we had our first look right at the Griswold Inn. Mike waited patiently at the dock while I ran 15 minutes late. He didn’t have a phone or anything on him so he had kept staring out into the water for 15 minutes– so sweet.
3. Hire This Connecticut Wedding Photographer and Band
Out of all the vendors we worked with, we really loved our photographer and band.
Being lovers of photography ourselves, we knew we wanted a photojournalistic style Connecticut wedding photographer. We also knew we didn’t want to skimp on a photographer because the photos and of course our memories were going to be the things that lasted forever from our wedding.
We also wanted a live band because we had gone to a wedding where we hardly knew anyone. Mike and I still had so much fun because of the live band! We noticed having a band makes a huge difference in how much people dance and get involved.
Connecticut Wedding Photographer
For our Connecticut wedding photographer, we went with Tony and Olga Yang of I Wanna Marry. All the photos you see in this blog post from my wedding are from them (photos of the wide fit bridal shoes and me later on are my own photos).
He did my cousin’s engagement and wedding photos and is amazing. He also took photos for a high school acquaintance’s wedding after they saw his work for my wedding.
What we loved about Tony and Olga, besides that they’re a couple in love themselves, is that they are not intrusive. They are like gentle wallflowers behind the scenes taking photos of YOUR important day.
They know the day is about you which unfortunately is not the memo our videographer got; there were so many videos of one of the groomsmen in our video…
Connecticut Wedding Band
For our Connecticut wedding band, we went with ETA music. Back in 2015, they cost $6,000, which was considered “cheap” considering our friend’s paid $18,000 for a band with a similar level of skill.
Budget Wedding Photography and Music Tips
Knowing how important wedding photos were but how much of a budget my sister was on, I took her photos for her and they came out great. Wedding photos do not have to cost thousands of dollars.
If you’re having a backyard wedding in Connecticut, go to Yale University for photos. It is a beautiful place with all the detailed architecture in the backyard.
As for the music, ask a friend or family member to create a Spotify playlist and blast that on speakers. You’ll have tons of fun with songs personally picked by loved ones.
4. Be Comfortable (in Clothing, Season and Menstrual Cycle)
There are three really important tips for brides to be comfortable during their wedding, and for me, it came down to my clothing, managing my allergies in the spring and dealing my period.
Choose a Lighter Dress (Plus Budget Dress Tip)
If you plan on wearing your dress through the ceremony and reception, choose a lighter dress. I had tried on multiple dresses and some were sooo heavy. It was much easier to have a lighter one that I could keep on all day.
To be honest, I was going to buy one from Aliexpress, which is exactly what I did for my sister. Her dress cost $50 and then she found someone to hem it for $250.
Budget Dress Tip: If you get a dress from Aliexpress like we did for my sister, make sure it has lace ties in the back so you don’t have to pay someone to take in the seams. You only need someone to hem it.
Get Comfortable Wedding Shoes
Most likely, you’re going to be on your feet for 5+ hours. Because of this, getting comfortable shoes is a must.
I highly recommend checking out Bella Bella bridal shoes. The two words most used to describe them are “stunning” and “comfortable” but even better, they have a wide range of wedding shoes from booties to flats.
You might like my post on wide fit bridal shoes.
Beware of Pollen Season
If you have allergies, you need to be aware of pollen season. Spring is such a beautiful time to get married but your allergies may be freaking out.
For my wedding, my doctor prescribed me a low dose of steroids (about 5 mg) to take for 3 days and they really helped. Steroids aren’t good for you so make this a one time occasion!
Wear a Menstrual Cup
On the day of my wedding, I knew I was supposed to get my period based on my menstrual cycle app and cramps, but they hadn’t come yet. Just in case, I wore a menstrual cup and later on as I was going to bed, I noticed I got my period and had no idea because of the menstrual cup!
I started using a menstrual cup in 2009 because I have a really heavy period and could not be bothered with the number of times I’d have to double up on a tampon and pad and still switch it out. Even with my heavy period, I did not have to take care of it at all during the ceremony or reception! I actually didn’t even realize I had my period yet.
I have been using the brand, DivaCup, since 2009. Get it DivaCup here.
5. Choose a Thoughtful Florist (Plus Budget Wedding Tip)
To save money on flowers, our florist, Alison, suggested that we spread one to two flowers in vintage bottles strewn across the table than have huge floral displays. She also told us to opt for a bamboo wedding arch instead of a wood one to save money as well.
Alison also understood my want of using succulents as both place cards and gifts for the guest. She did a fantastic job with it.
To be honest, when I met her, I thought she was pretty snarky towards me in particular. But we went with her because she’s runs her florist in a down-to-earth manner and gave us lots of cost saving tips.
All the greenery and plants you see above are from Ashleigh’s Garden.
Budget Wedding Flowers Tip: Our flowers, succulents, wedding arch, bouquets and everything cost $2,900 back in 2015, but if this is out of your budget, I totally understand! You do not need a fancy Connecticut wedding florist to have beautiful flowers for your wedding.
My sister bought flowers from Trader Joe’s and I arranged them into nice bouquets and boutonnières for the men. We kept floral arrangements on each table quite light.
6. Take 15 minutes to Yourselves After the Ceremony
Our wedding was a hodge podge of various cultures. Because Mike is Jewish and I’m Korean, we had elements of Judaism and Korean traditions, but we also incorporated Buddhist and Irish Catholic poems into our ceremony, which we wrote ourselves.
Something that I absolutely love from Jewish tradition that I would recommend any couple doing is to take 15 minutes to yourself right after the ceremony.
Make sure to tell the ones closest to you so they know not to bother you or not let others bother you.
You are going to be surrounded by so many people at the reception that taking time to soak in that YOU JUST GOT MARRIED is a must.
You can also ask the venue to put out a platter of food just for you to snack on during this time! You’ll probably be hungry and you’ll have a little bit more time before dinner.
7. Put Out a ‘No Photos’ Sign During the Ceremony
We put out a ‘no photos please’ sign during the ceremony, which was amazing in so many ways:
- It was quiet during our ceremony. There wasn’t a constant wave of ‘click, click… click’ throughout the ceremony.
- Everyone was focused on us, not their phones or cameras.
- Our photographer was able to get clean shots without other peoples’ flashes or phones getting in the way.
I highly recommend asking guests to politely not use their phones or cameras and be in the moment with you!
How to Ask People Not to Take Photos During the Ceremony
You can ask people not to take photo during the ceremony in two ways:
- Add polite wording to the pamphlet.
- Put out a framed print out right at the guestbook.
See all your option for a no photo wedding sign here.
Other Questions About Our Connecticut Wedding
What did you do for your wedding to honor your deceased parents?
To save my in-laws money, I did a lot of DIY things like make my own wedding pamphlets. In the back of it, I wrote a letter to my mom and dad about my wedding day.
We had a memory table honoring my parents and also had a special bouquet of roses there for my mom as they were her favorite flowers.
Overall, I’m really lucky that I had my big brother there with me to walk me down the aisle.
If you have deceased parents or even grandparents, check out my post on how to remember loved ones at your wedding. I list out all the ways I honored my parents.
Where did you bridesmaid get their dresses?
I wanted my bridesmaids to save money so I had them get their custom bridesmaid dresses via this Etsy seller. The dresses range from $108 to $129 each.
What did you give them as gifts?
I gave each bridesmaid a heart-felt letter, a care package and a bridesmaid robe. They loved the robes and still use them ’till this day!
Where did Mike get his suit?
Mike got his suit at Brooks Brothers. We opted for something a bit more casual for our Connecticut wedding, which turned out to be handy.
His suit cost as much as my dress but he’s gotten way more use out of his suit as he’s worn it at many weddings after ours.
Where did you have your bachelor and bachelorette parties?
I had my bachelorette party in Savannah, GA. Mike had his in New Orleans, LA. We chose these places because they have good food and permit drinking outdoors.
Another lowk ey option for a bachelorette party is Philadelphia. You might be surprised by this but because of the great restaurants and manageable size of the city, it would be fun to have a bachelorette party here.
Where did you go for your honeymoon?
If you’re having a destination wedding abroad, check out this destination wedding packing list.
I hope this post helps you in planning your Connecticut wedding. Congrats and have a beautiful wedding day!
Thanks for stopping by. xo, Sarah