In your corner

A team of professional wedding vendors explains what you should know before the big day

Photos/Matt Bieker

It can be tough to know where to start when it comes to planning a contemporary wedding. Your grandma might insist on a traditional ceremony when you’ve been fantasizing about your underwater theme for years. Yelp is stuffed full of scary reviews for local vendors, of which there are dozens in Reno alone, and it’s tempting to think, “I could save some money if I just picked all the flowers myself.” When it comes to getting the ball rolling, these professionals have some advice for couples preparing to take the plunge.

The rings

Doug Moore has been a jeweler for more than 20 years, and is the owner of D Street Designs in midtown. He said that over half of his orders are for custom wedding or engagement rings. Since the rings are a concrete reminder of the wedding day itself—and a lasting expression of you and your partner’s style—it’s worth it to consider investing in a custom set. Moore interviews his clients to get ideas about their perfect piece, from elaborate textures and settings to simple bands and stones. Time, he said, is one of the biggest factors in developing a custom ring.

“A month is ideal, max,” Moore said. “But here’s the thing, too. I’m often booked out. Our waiting list fluctuates anywhere between three to six months at any given time.”

The other biggest factor is, of course, budget. Moore said the majority of his work costs between $2,500 and $5,000, but the quality of the materials is inherent in the price. Moore uses ethically sourced gems and Nevada-mined gold. Certain stylistic concession can bring the price down substantially, however.

“Recently, it’s been rose gold and then a lot of rough uncut diamonds … it’ll have all the inclusions in it—that’s been the look,” Moore said, referring to recent trends he’s seen in wedding pieces. “Those diamonds are uncut. I mean they’re literally a fraction of the price.”

The dress

No matter the style, most brides have a vision of how they want to look on the day, and Michelle Depaoli, owner of Swoon Bridal Salon, has spent over 10, years making those visions a reality.

“We’re going to sit down with the bride and try to learn a bit about her story,” Depaoli said. “Then we go right to the mood of it. How do you want to feel on your wedding day? Give us an adjective.”

Depaoli said that the first step to picking a dress is to leave the Pinterest-perfect standards at the door.

“My main thing is to use Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration, but to not go down that rabbit hole of that kind of fantasy world that social media can sometimes present itself,” Depaoli said. “Often times we do have brides that spend hours and hours gathering all this information, and it just floats away within a matter of minutes once we get them into actual dresses.”

She recommends brides start shopping for their dresses nine months in advance, giving the designers time to hand-sew the pieces and leaving room for alterations. While dress shopping is supposed to be a fun time, Depaoli also warns against soliciting too many opinions.

“We’re seeing [brides] bring in these big crowds of people with them to do it, and it’s just not super constructive,” she said. “Bring the people with you who are so trusted, either emotionally or, like, you trust their style, whatever it is, but be mindful and thoughtful about who you invite into this process with you.”

Finally, the sticker shock for heirloom quality dresses can be a nasty surprise (many of Swoon’s start at $1,200). Depaoli has a way of helping brides conceive of their maximum budgets before they even set foot in the salon.

“We always want people to know what we would call their ’crazy,’” Depaoli said. “What’s your crazy? Like, what don’t you want to go over? What would make you not sleep at night?”

The venue

Unless you’re eloping to a secluded beach, the wedding venue is perhaps the most important decision couples will make as it affects everyone on the guest list. Gigi Werbeckes is the manager of the Grove, a private wedding venue in South Reno, and said that couples should do their homework before touring a venue in person.

“They will go first go to our website, then they’ll look at our Facebook. They’ll look at all the pictures, but when they call, or when they email me, we qualify them,” Werbeckes said. “Can we accommodate their guest count? That’s the first thing. Also, what time of year are they looking for?”

Private venues can take a lot of the guess work out of the day when it comes to variables like the weather or off-site vendors. Places like the Grove will also offer in-house catering, decorating, and set up and break down services, the convenience of which can easily be worth the added cost.

“We want them to enjoy the day and remember that dance on the floor,” Werbeckes said. “I want them to remember that funny toast. I don’t want them to not know because they were so busy in the kitchen trying to get something together where they miss that whole opportunity to be a guest at their own wedding.”

Average wedding pricing at the Grove can run between $10,000 and $15,000, and couples should be prepared to schedule it at least six months in advance. That kind of commitment can seem daunting, but Werbeckes said that couples are also purchasing a support system for that time period as well.

“I am their constant,” she said. “They talk to me on the phone. They are emailing me there. We’re shooting pictures back and forth to each other, ’Hey, what do you think of this?’ I’m meeting with them, and then, all of a sudden, the wedding’s over. The tears have been spent because we’ve seen such a great event.”