5 mistakes to avoid when planning your Birmingham wedding according to Michelle Langdon, Iron City’s magic maker

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Did you really get married in Birmingham if you didn’t take photos in front of an iconic mural?Photo via Kerry Brooks

Are you in the throes of planning your perfect Birmingham wedding? Or maybe you’re still adding pins to your “Wedding Inspo” Pinterest board… (Hey, no shame in getting a head start!) Either way, you probably already have a never-ending to-do list. So be warned, this article is NOT that.

This is your wedding planning what-not-to-do list straight from Iron City’s Private Event Manager, Michelle Langdon herself.

Michelle Langford, Iron City’s Private Event Manager. Photo via Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

With 6 years of experience planning all events (except concerts) at the downtown Birmingham venue, Michelle’s pretty much an expert on nailing down and executing all of the details when it comes to wedding planning. Seriously, just read some of the reviews on The Knot. We asked Michelle about the top 5 mistakes to avoid when planning your day, and here’s what we got:

A couple on stage at Iron City during their reception! Photo via Laura at Jett Walker Photography

1. Overspending on one vendor category

At the beginning of your wedding planning journey, it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement and maybe overspend on one aspect, like the amazing photographer you’ve been eyeing for months or the venue of your dreams. But, according to Michelle, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

“A lot of people do this with the first things they check off their list like hiring a photographer or picking a venue, but if they have a $30k wedding budget and they spend $8k on a venue, it doesn’t leave them enough money to get all of the other vendors they need like transportation, videography, entertainment, etc.”

Michelle Langdon
At Iron City, they completely transform the stage. It’s unreal. Photo via Rock Sandretto Photography

Make sure you’ve accounted for everything you’ll need before you splurge on something you really want. There are some guidelines out there on what percentage should go towards each category. Check out this wedding budget guide from local wedding planner Ashley Stork, owner of Magnolia Vine Events, or this budget breakdown from Martha Stewart Weddings.

2. Not comparing venues apples to apples

Picture this: you’re comparing venue prices. You find two venues that seem to work. They both have enough room for the guests, work aesthetically with your theme and have plenty of space for your entertainment. Except, one is $2k and the other is $6k. Obviously, you’ll want the $2k venue, but Michelle is here to warn you about only comparing price tags instead of comparing venues apples to apples. Here’s Michelle herself to explain her apples-to-apples philosophy.

3. Booking a venue that can’t host your band

If entertainment is at the top of your list, you’ll want to put a music-friendly venue right beside it. Thinking about these two things together is critical because you don’t want to end up booking a venue that can’t host your band or doesn’t make sense when it comes to sound. And, Birminghamians love their music.

Iron City already being a live music venue is such a plus. Photo via Be Light Photography

“Why would you invest a lot of money in a band, and put it in a room where it doesn’t make sense? If you want a big band and the party experience, book a venue that can accommodate that well.”

Things to consider for entertainment and venues:

  • The acoustics of the venue. Does it echo or bounce off the walls?
  • Lighting. Is there a spotlight? Fun party colored lights?
  • Stage and Dance Floor. Are they large enough for the band/ group size?
  • Equipment and hardware. Does the venue have enough power sources and a good sound system?
  • Read the rider, or set of requests, the band you want to book has. Can your venue accommodate all of their needs, or will you have to spend more money to provide those things?
There’s definitely plenty of space to party! Photo viaKellen Jacob Photography

That’s one reason why Iron City as a Birmingham wedding venue is so unique: it’s built for entertainment. You don’t have to worry about sound, lights or a dance floor, which is a huge relief when you have so many other things on your to-do list.

4. Choosing day-of planning instead of a full planning package

According to Michelle, any kind of wedding planning service is never a bad option.

Exposed brick, natural light— Honestly this is a dream. Photo via Emily Dean Photography

“I would recommend a wedding planner over no planner all day, every day.”

But if you have the option and can afford a full planning package, Michelle recommends investing in a planner that can be there throughout the whole process.

“Every planner is different, but if you only start talking 30 days out, all they can do is put Band-Aids on things and stitch things together. They’ll help you organize everything into a timeline and be there to help you that day, but they can’t prevent you from making a lot of mistakes during the early stages of planning.”

Mixing and mingling! Photo via Anne Simone Photography

“There’s a lot more value in doing the full planning package—you just get a lot more out of it.”

At Iron City, Michelle’s job isn’t to be the wedding planner, but she will be there to make sure everything is running smoothly and help tie everything together on the big day. She recommends making sure you know what services the event planners at your venue offer before deciding on hiring a wedding planner or not, and deciding between “full planning” and a “day of” planning package.

5. Purchasing linens online or borrowing them from a friend

You might not think of linens much, or at all, during your planning process. Maybe your friend bought linens for their wedding and said you can borrow them, or maybe you found some very cheap online. But what seems like a small decision now, could turn out to be a big hassle on your wedding day.

Noted: Linens. Big Deal. Photo via Robert Norris Photography

According to Michelle, borrowing or buying cheap linens is never a good idea:

  • If you’re borrowing, they might still be dirty or have stains.
  • They are probably wrinkled, and steaming is a multi-week job. Plus, doing it right requires some professional equipment.
  • They weigh A TON. So, you’ll get a nice workout on the ‘morning of’ when you’re dragging them all in to set up. And don’t forget packing them up at the end too.
  • If you’re buying them for cheap, the quality probably won’t be great and they might be scratchy and see-through.

The best way to go about finding linens according to Michelle is finding a vendor or a venue that offers quality linens.

Yeah, these linens were definitely not wrinkled. Photo via Rebecca Long Photography

“You don’t need to get all of the nicest linens, but you can definitely find a vendor that has decent quality linens, maintains them well and steams them. There are some vendors, not all, that that will come in, set them up, remove them, and take them home for you at the end of the night. So, there’s nothing you have to worry about. It is worth every dollar.”

Why You Need to Consider Iron City as a Venue

Other than the obvious “great for entertainment” reasons, Iron City is one of the most unique wedding venues in Birmingham. The Iron City Grill is attached to the venue and provides turn-key catering for events. The catering menu offers southern style cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients and homemade dishes from Chef Ian Barker.

YUM. Photo via Ann Simone Photography

Bonus: They also offer a variety of options when it comes to desserts—all handmade in house by pastry chef, Ashley Thompson. They offer miniature trios, great options for receptions; signature desserts, great for a seated meal or buffet; and dessert stations great for adding an interactive element to your big day.

I’ll take them all. Photo via Nick Frontiero Productions

Want to know more about Iron City as a venue or book an event? Check out their website or their YouTube channel.

Best of lucking planning your perfect Birmingham wedding!  We can’t think of a better city to get hitched.

Have your own wedding planning tips? Share them with us on social @BhamNow!

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