Wedding Planner Chat with Jodi Moraru, Thursday, January 31 at 11 AM

Planning a wedding? Want free expert advice? We feature weekly online chats with four of the area’s most popular wedding planners—a different one every Thursday at 11 am. Submit your questions now, and you may be one of the first to get an answer when we

Event planner Jodi Moraru has been in the business almost 18 years. She started her current company, Jodi Moraru & Associates, ten years ago and is going strong, personally doing about ten events a year. Jodi and her colleagues have planned destination weddings, ecofriendly weddings, commitment ceremonies, and more.

Thanks for all your great questions and i answered as many as i had time for. I hope it was helpful and best of luck to you all!  Please visit us on the web at and let us know if we can assist you in planning the wedding of your dreams.


Jodi Moraru 

For the full archives of wedding chats, click here.

Severna Park, MD
What is appropriate for flowers for the mother of the bride and groom as well as any grandmothers?
There are no such things as “appropriate” flowers and I have many mothers and grandmothers opting out of them these days.  If you do want them, small understated posies are lovely.
Arlington, VA
Is lighting really necessary? Who do you recommend? What kind should I get?
Lighting is key.  If you don’t have the money for pinspotting and uplighting, find a way to do just the uplighting. It transforms a space and takes it to another level.
Boston, MA
My son is getting married in DC in May. Many family members are traveling into BWI (as the airfare is substantially less than Regan international). Is there reasonable ground transportation to and from the airport other than the metro? There is the Blue Van but it's $30 per person and there are 4 – 5 persons in some of the families. Any suggestions?
Blue Van would be my suggestion.  Affordable and on time.
Washington, DC
My mom and I are battling over the guest list. My mom has gotten into this mindset of "How can we invite X without inviting Y?" For example, my mom has two cousins. We are close with one of these cousins and her family, but not at all close with the other cousin – who lives in Texas. We have not seen her in 18 years. This scenario is repeated with family and friends many times. I think it is okay to make distinctions between these people when it comes to the guest list and only invite people we are close with. My mom thinks we have to give everyone on the family tree equal treatment based on the degree of their relationship to me. What do you think?
Tough issue with the guest list. My dad said to me when I was getting married “if you see these people in 6 months and you didn’t invite them to your wedding, how will you feel?”
Washington, DC
A stressed-out friend is trying to arrange every detail of her huge wedding. She doesn't seem to want such an extravagant wedding, but she's trying to make everyone else happy with the right food, the right music, the right place–everything down to the right napkins. Maybe I'm biased–my wife and I had a small wedding and we're glad we didn't overdo it–but I think my friend needs to scale things down. Of course, you'll say that she just needs to get a wedding planner and let someone else handle the details. I would agree except that I don't think she actually wants a wedding this big. It seems that everything she's doing is to make someone else happy. Just look at the things she has to consider: distant relatives who will feel slighted if not invited, parents' vacation time, lodging for guests, a lactose-intolerant best friend, another friend's quartet needing work… It's ridiculous! I think I should say something but I don't know exactly what to say or whether to say anything at all. If she drops any of the tiny details, someone will feel slighted. But still, I think she should just do what she wants and let everyone else just accept it. Any advice?
You are a very considerate friend and i agree with you 100%.  I truly feel that a wedding should be what the bride and groom want; big or small; lavish or casual, it doesn't matter. It should just reflect the couple otherwise they will end up looking back at the day with a tinge of regret because it wasn't what they wanted. I think all you can do is share your thoughts in a non-intrusive matter and in the end they will make the decision they need to make for whatever reasons.  And, by all means, do hire an Event Planner :)!
Arlington, VA
If you are invited to a wedding and you're bringing a guest, I know that changes the amount you should spend on a wedding gift. How do you know how much?
I answered a similar question a bit ago and what i feel is that you do what you can afford and if you can afford more then pick a more expensive item off the registry.  Whatever you do, please get the couple an item from their registry.
Arlington, VA
If you've got a lot of friends getting married and can't go to or afford every event, how do you know which of the "extras" you should do? As in engagement parties, bachelorette parties, showers? None of them will be in the area – they will range in driving times and flights. Are any of those a must?
I think none of them are a must unless you are a bridesmaid and in that case you will need to be present for the bachelorette and a shower if you can.  Save your money, the wedding weekend and gift will cost you enough and your friend will be thrilled that you are there.  If you are close and are invited to things you can’t make, send sweet notes in advance of every event.  The art of the handwritten letter has been going the wayside and I can assure you that a lovely handwritten note will be more appreciated than you know.
Washington, DC
if i want to get married at home how much should i budget for a tent?
It’s not just the tent you are budgeting for, it’s also what needs to come with the tent; perhaps heating or airconditioning, lighting, generators, flooring, restrooms…The only way to get a clear picture of costs is to have a professional tent company come to your home.
Bethesda, MD
We really want a "Washington" wedding. One idea is a wedding near one of the monuments. I have heard you can get a permit for this. How is this done, or are there sites you can recommend?
You can have your ceremony near the Jefferson and you do have to get permits, which is a fairly detailed process through the DC system.  The first thing I say to clients who want an “outdoor Washington” wedding is that this is Washington DC and there are no weather guarantees so make sure that back up plan B is set securely in place with venue, accessibility of information and ease of transportation for guests.  A great option is to pick a Historic DC property to host your wedding instead.  It will be beautiful and significant.  Another fun idea is to take your guests on a “Monuments by Moonlight Tour”.
washington dc
a friend of mine is in a wedding, and the bride just settled on dresses. at the place where the bride found them, the dresses are a certain price, but my friend found the same dress elsewhere for less. for some reason, the bride is dead-set on having the bridesmaids only purchase the dresses from the store where she found it, but my friend is fresh out of college and could stand to save the money. is there a tactful way for her to approach the bride about this?
Approach the bride with enthusiasm.  Remember this is her day and unless she is a bridezilla she just wants for everyone to be happy for her.  So, tell her how much you love the dress, how excited you are to be in the wedding and that it would make it much more affordable for you to buy it at this other shop. In turn, make sure it is the same dress, style and color.
Arlington, VA
What is the appropriate amount, do you think, to spend on a wedding gift for someone you sort of know or even someone you know very well? I've heard the old adage that you should spend what the bride and groom are paying per person for the food, but how would a guest know that? Any advice on what you typically see?
The age old question of how much to spend. Spend what you can afford to spend and please, pick a gift off the registry.  People register for a reason – because they want those items.
Washington, DC
If I decide to hire a wedding planner, what do they typically do and not do?
Great question!  There is no typically what an event planner will and will not do, but i do think it's important for you to interview at least three to find out how they each work and if their style and personality is a good match for you. Ask good questions and set clear expectations as well.  On the other hand,  the event planner should be asking you good questions and setting clear expectations.
Washington, DC
If you're going to a wedding but it requires a longer (and therefore more expensive) flight, does that lessen the amount you need to spend on a gift, even by a little?
How much less would you really be spending?  Again, i think you do what you can afford and do it in a very nice and thoughtful manner.
Arlington, VA
I'm looking to keep my reception affordable by having a large BBQ/Picnic reception. Do you know of any parks that could be a good place for this? We'd also like to be able to have alcohol served (sometimes an issue in parks). Also, what kind of things should we keep in mind in case of rain?
I see that you live in Arlington, Virginia.  Have you checked out Fairfax Country Park and Recreation?  Also Montgomery Park and Recreation has some great facilities too.  I personally think the Lodge at Senecca Creek is quite charming. Depending on your numbers, see if there is a pavillion you can use, or perhaps bring a tent to the property.  Ask lots of questions to the facilities manager and get your answers in writing. 
Arlington, VA
I am recently engaged and am in the very beginning stages of planning my wedding. I would really like to get married in September. Does that give me enough time to book a venue + caterer (depending on the venue), get a wedding dress, book a florist, photographer, band, etc.? Is this realistic? Thanks!
Absolutely!  I have planned a complete wedding in less than three months.  You've got plenty of time to do this without feeling stressed as well and give yourself a chance to enjoy the process. Give us a call!
Kinsey (Bethesda)
Do you get alot of repeat clients? Do you find yourself developing long term friendships with clients?
Yes we do get a lot of repeat clients and we have long term relationships on various levels with many. It's fun because you go in knowing the family and there is such a warm feeling.   We view planning a wedding as a very important relationship between us and our clients.
Bethesda, MD
Who do you recommend as far as photographers? What questions should I ask? Do you recommend they bring a second shooter or assistant?

I recommend a variety of photographers and it all depends on several factors:

1.    The clients budget

2.    The photography style a client leans towards

3.    A personality fit

I feel that not only must you love a photographers work but you must feel comfortable with that person as they are in your intimate space, capturing your wedding story and if you are comfortable with them then you will be relaxed and your pictures will be wonderful.

Every photographer has a different "package" so you need to see what they offer or what they can add.  Do you want  an album?  A CD? Images on line?  Engagement sitting?  Pictures at the Monuments?   Prior to the wedding sit with your photographer and give them a clear list of whom it is important to photograph; what individuals and groups and have someone from your family available to assist the photographer in locating these people.  As far as an assistant, yes, i do think it's important unless you are having a very small wedding. 

Potomac, MD
I am getting married August of this year, and am looking for referrals for makeup? I am also not sure how to handle the days schedule for the bridal party and hair/makeup. There are 10 girls total (including me, the moms & bridal party) and we are doing all of our pictures aheard of time. Can you give me some advice on putting together my schedule? and how long do we need for pictures.
Let me begin with the latter part of your question.  How long you need to give for pictures depends on your photographer and his/her style.  So check with them to see how much time you will need.  Make sure all hair and makeup will be complete at least 1/2 hour prior to pictures to give everyone enough time to get dressed…If you have 10 girls getting their hair and makeup done, let your hair and makeup artists know so they can bring an assistant if needed.  The hair stylist wiil need to know updo's vs. blow outs because that makes a difference in timing. I work with a lot of very talented makeup and hair people and i recommend based on my individual clients needs, personality and budget.
Baltimore, Maryland
Things have changed so since I was married in 1977! At a rehersal dinner, of course the participants are invited to the dinner, but are all out of town guests as well? Most guests for my daughters wedding will be from out of town! We would have 200 people at a rehersal dinner! What should we do?

This is not an uncommon issue these days. Here are a couple of suggestions:

1.    Find a venue/restaurant/hotel big enough to accomodate the 200 guests and give everyone a chance to meet one another. You can make it casual and relaxed.

2.    If budget is an issue invite only the immediate family and bridal party and then perhaps host a dessert gathering or a "Sweet Suite" in the host hotel later on in the evening for everyone. 

washington, dc
Dear Jodi, I'm looking for a venue in the Washington DC area (that will allow me to bring in my own cater and alcohol without charging me a fortune on the rental space. Any thoughts for a great location for about 150 people – indoor wedding (fall/winter time frame)? Thanks for your time.
Hi!  Not knowing what you mean by a fortune or knowing your overall budget or what kind of a feel and flow you want it's hard for me to make a clear recommendation. There are a lot of great venues in and around DC that allow you to bring in your own caterer.  Your guest list of 150 is also a nice number and gives you a lot of options because you aren't too big.  
mclean, va
How set are event venues with their prices? What's the best way to negoitate with them? What's the cheapest time of year to have a wedding in the DC area.
Some venues are set with their prices and some are a bit more negotiable.  It is a case by case, space by space situation.  The least expensive time of year to have an event in DC is Jan., Feb., and the earlier parts of March.  It used to be that July and August were also less expensive but in recent years they've become very popular months.  Again, if a venue is not booked closer in and they want to fill the date then there may be more flexibility. 
Ellen W
Hi! My fiance and I are trying to plan an wedding on a budget and, naturally, trying to come up with ways to save some money. Neither of us are music-lovers, and we thought we could hire a DJ instead of band. Yet we have heard from our parents that a DJ is frequently less fun for guests. Thoughts? Do you agree?
I disagree with your parents (though respectfully).  There are many good DJ's in the area now who really understand how to play to a crowd and make it fun for everyone giving you and your guests the types of music you want to hear and dance too. Be clear as to the music that you'd like played and also let them feel your crowd out for any changes in the music to keep the party going strong.
Arlington VA
I am in need of a rehersal dinner location. I want something fun and comfortable b/c the wedding is so formal and elegant. Any suggestions?

Not knowing the numbers of guests that would be attending or your budget it's hard to answer but there are some great, fun places to hold a rehearsal dinner:

 1.    Mie N Yu

 2.    Japanese Steak House of some sort. Fun food and entertaining.

 3.     Lebanese Taverna

 4.    Think International and a fun place with flair!! So many to choose from. 

Washington, DC
I'm getting married at the National Cathedral and want to keep a classic and traditional Washington, DC theme for the reception. Do you have any recommendations for a reception site for 400 people that is distinctive to Washington, DC?
Have you tried the Mellon Auditorium or the Building Museum? Both gorgeous and for your numbers – a great fit!