Please note this blog post is sponsored by Witchy Woman Weddings. To read more about that, click here. If you are a Salem, MA or north shore based business interested in working with me, please click here.
Good morning everyone, happy Monday and welcome back to the blog. Today I am super excited to talk about a very common topic I see across my social media and in my DM’s. Getting married in Salem! I worked with Tara McMullen-King from Witchy Woman Weddings on this blog post to come up with tips, information and everything you need to keep in mind when planning your wedding here. Tara’s skills and expertise as an officiant and planner combined with my skills and expertise as a professional photographer means this blog post is a must read when planning your Salem, MA wedding.
Witchy Woman Weddings by Tara McMullen-King
Tara is affectionately referred to as the “Wedding Witch of Salem”. She is a wedding officiant, coordinator and planner extraordinaire. Tara founded Witchy Woman Weddings in 2020 to help couples plan and execute custom celebrations of love and commitment that reflect their backgrounds, their passions, and their unique qualities and quirks. All of your ideas – no matter how big or small, no matter how “traditional” or wildly offbeat – are always heard and always celebrated! Tara’s job is to advise, empower, inspire, relieve stress, problem solve, and make sure that her clients walk away from their special day feeling nothing but pure joy and happiness…with no regrets, and none of those woulda-shoulda-couldas.
Tara is a Witch, a Wiccan Priestess, an ordained minister of American Marriage Ministries, a member of the International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants (IAPWO) and the Salem Chamber of Commerce. She has also undertaken extensive wedding planning studies and certifications, including coursework offered by the New York Institute of Art and Design and certified by the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), the world’s largest professional wedding planning organization.
So now let’s get into some wedding tips, info and things you definitely shouldn’t do when planning a witch city wedding.
Three things you shouldn’t do when planning your Salem, MA wedding
Don’t wait until the last moment, even for small events and elopements.
First and foremost, plan ahead. Waiting until the last moment to plan often leads to chaos that could have been avoided. Even if it’s a small event or an elopement with just you and your partner, plan ahead! This applies one thousand times over if you’re planning an October event (of any size) here in Salem. Can you pull it off last minute? Maybe. However, do you want to roll the dice on that? With peak crowds around Halloween reaching 100,000 people, reservations required for pretty much anything (including meals) and parking at a premium, it’s not worth it to try to throw something together on a whim. Not to mention that you will have a smaller range of options when selecting your vendors and ceremony location. Most venues and vendors book at least one year out, if not longer, so your choices will be slimmed down significantly just by that factor.
That being said, if you absolutely must do something last moment because of a unique circumstance, opportunity, etc. then Tara is a fantastic ally in this situation. With “boots on the ground” knowledge of Salem and resources she can help you plan and give you options you may not have thought of. Having a local ally (especially if you are coming from out of state) to help with suggestions and alternative options can be the difference between being able to pull it off or not.
Don’t be afraid to talk about money and contracts.
People often shy away from talking about money, contracts and other such things. When it comes to your wedding or event, don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk about your budget. Also be sure to get a contract that outlines everything expected of everyone involved.
When deciding on your overall wedding budget, be sure to consider how much you are willing to spend for various services and items. Once you know how much you’d like to allot to catering, to a photographer, to the venue, etc. it’s easier to keep it within range. You can do quite a bit with $10,000 to $20,000, you just need to know what your budget is and research to understand typical costs associated with wedding vendors and services.
Tara can find ways to cut costs in appropriate areas, if needed. The average wedding here in MA is $35,000 to $45,000 and Tara specializes in smaller weddings with 50 or less guests and a budget of approximately $20,000 or less. If you have budgeting needs and requests, she is a great resource for this so don’t be shy to speak up. She can help you allot funds, offer DIY alternatives when possible and can source items from her own collection of wedding goods if needed.
Be sure to also make note of preferred or required vendors that your venue may enforce. This isn’t necessarily a drawback or a negative, it just means you need to be aware that certain pieces of that budgeting pie may be decided for you in this case.
Now, when it comes to contracts, don’t be afraid to take a moment to read everything over. Be sure you understand everything outlined in the contract and that certain key pieces of information are included. Examples of this may include the following…
- Your names, addresses and personal details as well as the vendor’s information.
- The date of your wedding, ceremony time, ceremony location, reception location, etc.
- Any and all fees, rates, how they are to be paid and when they are due.
- Any deliverables (such as the photographs), how they will be delivered to you and when you can expect them.
- The time frame the vendor will be present for your event (ie: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm). This may also include any breaks required, lodging details if applicable and more.
- Specifics as they relate to back up plans, wedding cancelations, refunds and more. If (goodness forbid) something were to happen and you had to cancel your wedding, what would that mean? Does this vendor issue refunds to a certain extent? What happens if your outdoor wedding gets rain that day? Can this specific vendor still perform their services? If not, what happens? Consider these details as well when reviewing contracts with your wedding team.
Don’t try to do everything yourself
Last but not least, don’t try to do everything yourself. Rely on your wedding team and professional vendors – they have done this many times and can offer insight and personal experiences. Tara offers a la carte consultation support at an hourly rate. This means you can hire her to assist with certain tasks, book her time to pick her brain for resources, give suggestions, she can vet and suggest vendors for you and more. This is a great option for couples who may not want to pay for a full planning project but still want Tara’s expertise and knowledge. This service can be especially valuable for out of state couples or couples who have never been to Salem before.
Coordination is huge too. Even if you want to plan the whole thing yourselves, trying to run everything on the day of can be very stressful. Managing set up and break down, décor, wrangling vendors, making sure day of vendors are paid, answering and fielding questions from guests and more can be a lot to handle when you just want to enjoy your special day. Tara can be hired on to handle all of this day of coordination for you so you can focus on relaxing and soaking in the day.
Some additional pointers and tips for you are as follows…
Consider an “off season” wedding. Christmastime in Salem is absolutely magical and you’ll largely have the city to yourself. It quiets down significantly in the winter so you won’t have to worry about crowds and all of the chaos that a fall wedding in Salem can bring. This is also a great way to save some money. Hotels, venues, etc. will likely be significantly cheaper off season.
Be sure to read up on marriage license requirements in Salem and in Massachusetts. There is a three day waiting period after you submit the paperwork which needs to be planned for if you’re coming in from out of state. You may need to plan a few extra days on your visit or plan two trips – one to acquire the marriage license and the other for the actual wedding.
Lastly, be aware of any rules and regulations around holding your ceremony on certain sites or properties. Not everything is public property and some areas require permits, permission from the city, liability insurance from your vendors or other such items. Working with a local such as Tara is great in this situation as well because she is well versed in the ins and outs of ceremony sites around the city. She can help guide you, offer insight on requirements, connect you with the correct parties to arrange permission and more.
I hope all of this helped!! Be sure to follow Tara on Instagram @witchywomanweddings and reach out to her at email@example.com with any questions. She can also be found online at witchywomanweddings.com. If you book with Tara be sure to tell her I sent you!