Wedding Planning 101: How to Work With Vendors + Stay Organized

TV personality Jamie Stelter shares tips on successful wedding planning.

By: Jamie Stelter

I am extremely organized, and even I was overwhelmed at times by all the details that go into planning a wedding. It can be a logistical nightmare, but it doesn't have to be. There are so many vendors, so many opinions, and so many personalities – so how do you deal with the torrent of information? Easy.



Photo by Daniel Krieger

©Daniel Krieger

Daniel Krieger


Not just in terms of telling each of them what you want, but also by being responsive. Each vendor – the florist, caterer, band leader, wedding planner – thinks that their part is most important so it's best to keep an honest, open line of communication. For me, that's preferably via email. I gave each my email in the beginning and told them to contact me whenever they needed something. I happen to be good at keeping up with email, but I also didn't want them calling or texting me at all hours of the day. Don’t set yourself up to be inundated or annoyed. You are the boss of your own day, so let them know how you prefer to be contacted.



It also makes it a lot easier when you know what you want, or at the very least, have a good idea of what you want. Pinterest boards for brides may be cliche, but there's a reason why they're so popular: they're easy to use and share. I sent the florist a link to my page and she was able to gauge color, type, size, style, everything from the pictures I had pinned. It makes their job easier, which makes your life easier. And it gives you a reference point in case of any conflict or questions.




If your parents, siblings or best friends are around and interested in helping, use them as barriers and delegates. Put them to work! They will love it. I made my mom the main point of contact with the wedding planner so she could serve as a buffer: ask me about details that I would care about and make other decisions on her own that we had already discussed. When one of my friends went to book a room at the hotel and the block of rooms had filled up, I simply forwarded my friend's email to my dad and asked him to please help get to the bottom of it. Done.

Everyone asks how we got a wedding together in four months and honestly, it was mostly because of my parents and their willingness and excitement to be a part of the planning. They helped pick all of the people involved that we would be working with -- people who we could trust, who were responsive, knowledgeable and pleasant. We wanted this experience to be easy and fun and because of all of them, it was.

As the wedding day approached I told everyone that as long as my groom, my band and the alcohol showed up that I didn't care about anything else. Everyone told me I didn't have to worry about any of those things and guess what? They were right. Everything comes together and everyone shows up. And anyone who doesn't? It's their loss.

Jamie Shupak Stelter and Brian Stelter know TV: She's the traffic reporter for NY1 in New York City and he's CNN's senior media correspondent.

Learn How Jamie Restored Her Mother's Wedding Dress

See All Photos

The Dress Today

Wearing my mom's wedding dress made my most-special day that much more personal and beautiful and honestly, it was so much easier than I expected to make it my own. All you need is a bit of optimism — and a few thousand dollars.

©Daniel Krieger

The Dress in 1975

My parents (Neil and Helen) were married on May 17, 1975 — almost 39 years ago. After I got engaged in October I came home to Philadelphia, and my mom and I dug out the box with the dress inside. When we pulled it out for examination, it was a wrinkly yellow mess with purply-brown wine stains on one of the sleeves and torso.

Before Alterations

Luckily my best friend Jess works in fashion and is intimately familiar with the proper care and cleaning of couture. She recommended I take the dress to Madame Paulette, "the only people we trust at work with our gowns." I immediately called and made an appointment. There, the woman told me that it would go through a month-long cleaning and whitening process. She couldn't promise me anything except that "it will definitely be whiter than it is now." She also told me that since the fabric is a strong one, it would most likely hold up well during the process. There was hope! Still, I was a bit nervous that it would only become ivory when I wanted white. If I hated it, I'd be out $750 and I wouldn't have much time — only three months — to find a wedding dress. (Did I mention we were planning a wedding in four months?)

Step 1: Cleaning

When I returned in December, I was ecstatic: The dress was sparkling white and the wine residue was gone. If Madame Paulette isn’t viable for you, I’d look for a cleaner that specializes in couture and/or wedding gowns. This is important so they understand the proper care for the fabric. I was lucky that my mom's dress was thick and sturdy; other delicate lace dresses don't hold up as well.

Step 2: Alterations

But our work wasn't done yet; the dress still needed to be altered. Enter Jess, once again, who recommended I take it to Lars Nord, a tailor to the stars. His work isn’t cheap -- we wound up paying him over $3,000 — but damn if it isn't the best. He told me we could do whatever I wanted to make it my own — but suggested slicing off the arms and adding tiny lace cap sleeves to make it more modern. He pulled in the bodice to make it slimmer all the way down and added a small train in the back for more drama.

Rockin' That Dress

There are tailors who will do it for less, but I didn't have the luxury of time to shop around... plus I knew Lars would do the best job. Again, make sure you are clear about your wants and expectations for the dress and that this tailor has altered wedding gowns before.

©Daniel Krieger


Mine turned out even better than I ever could have imagined; it transformed from 1975 beauty to 2014 perfection.

Jamie Shupak Stelter and Brian Stelter know TV: She's the traffic reporter for NY1 in New York City and he's CNN's senior media correspondent. Now the two are bringing their talent to ulive with two original series: TV Dinner with Friends and TV Weddings .

©Daniel Krieger

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