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Katie and Shariff ~ Allied Art Guild Wedding

Last week I had the privilege of coordinating an absolutely STUNNING wedding at Menlo Park's Allied Arts Guild. A hidden gem in the middle of a lovely neighborhood, Allied Arts is an enormous garden with small artist shops in nooks and crannies throughout. What a beautiful day!

 The gift table. Engagement photo by www.typentecostphotography.com.

The gift table. Engagement photo by www.typentecostphotography.com.

 Sparkler Sendoff!

Sparkler Sendoff!

 The Ceremony Aisle (Merner Green).

The Ceremony Aisle (Merner Green).

 Look at the detail in this archway! Floral by www.bellevuefloralco.com.

Look at the detail in this archway! Floral by www.bellevuefloralco.com.

 Cocktail Hour.

Cocktail Hour.

 Reception tables (Sunset Patio).

Reception tables (Sunset Patio).

 Getting Ready. Videographer: www.cmslowmotion.com.

Getting Ready. Videographer: www.cmslowmotion.com.

 The wedding cake.

The wedding cake.

 Guests eating dinner on the patio.

Guests eating dinner on the patio.

 Signage by www.bellevuefloralco.com

Signage by www.bellevuefloralco.com

 The Dance Floor (Sunset Room).

The Dance Floor (Sunset Room).

 Reception Centerpieces (www.bellevuefloralco.com).

Reception Centerpieces (www.bellevuefloralco.com).

Looking forward to the next few weddings on my calendar this summer! Stay tuned for more.

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Spring Wedding Gallery

Last week was a dream! It was the first wedding I coordinated to kick off the season and it was so wonderful. My clients and I have been planning their wedding for nearly a year now, and to see it finally come together was beautiful.

Here are some of the photos captured by Tyler Rodrigues, the fabulous florist.

The Sweetheart Table

A Groomsman's Boutonnierre 

The Bride's Bouquet

The Bridal Party's Bouquets

The Banquet Table Setup

The Beautiful Ceremony Arbor

The Reception Banquet Room

My next wedding is in just a couple of weeks, and I am so excited to share more photos as soon as they are captured.

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Wedding Food Series: Cake and Dessert Options, Part 2

 PC Pink Cake Box

PC Pink Cake Box

Continuing the previous post on cakes and dessert options for your wedding, let's get right into icings to be considered.

Icings

There are many different types of icings to choose from, depending on what texture and look you want for your cake. Different icings vary in how they taste, pair with cakes, and dry on cake. Here are descriptions of the most common icings you will find on cakes. 

Buttercream

Made of real butter, eggs, and sugar, this icing is smooth and dries soft and shiny. Keep in mind that buttercream needs to be refrigerated, and easily melts, as its base is butter. It is not the ideal icing for an outdoor wedding where it will sit in the sun, but is instead a good choice for an indoor event where it will more likely be in an air-conditioned place where the integrity of its shape will be maintained. It is an incredibly versatile frosting choice, as its flavor is easily paired with nearly any cake, and can itself be flavored with choices like almond or mint. 

Fondant

Fondant icing is poured over a cake as a liquid to coat and dry on small cakes, or is rolled into a sheet, and molded around larger cakes like a dough. It tastes similar to marshmallows, and holds up well in heat, as it is very thick, and dries hard and smooth. Because it is thick, it can be shaped into decorative items like flowers, leaves, and other fun cake toppers.

 PC Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

PC Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

Marzipan

Marzipan is very sweet-tasting paste made from ground almonds and vanilla, which can be used similarly to fondant. 

Modelling Chocolate

Modelling chocolate be can white,milk or dark chocolate. It can also be applied like fondant, but is prone to melting in sensitive environments just as buttercream is. 

Royal Icing

This icing is made of eggs, icing sugar, and lemon juice. It's very sweet and hardens very quickly, but is a great choice for decorating with because it keeps it shape, and has a pretty, glossy look, like glass or porcelain. 

Meringue

Meringue is light and airy, with a mildly sweet taste. It dries hard, and holds up well in heat as long as it has time to set. It has a very mild taste that complements most cake flavors. It is also a good choice for decorating with.

 PC Tiny Prints Blog

PC Tiny Prints Blog

Decorative Icing

Icing  is not just frosted. It can be piped in hundreds of different shapes to create beautifully elaborate or elegantly simple patterns on your cake, similarly to the cake in the picture above!

Other Decorative Options

Flowers

If using flowers on your cake, go for flowers that match the ones in the bridal bouquet, and--if possible--in colors that match the wedding colors. Ask your confectioner about edible flower options. Inedible flowers can also be used so long as they have not been sprayed with pesticides and are removed before serving. Obviously, silk flowers are also an option. 

Ribbons

Ribbons are often used to call attention to the layers on a tiered cake. They can be made from silk or created from icing options such as fondant. 

 PC Lia Griffith

PC Lia Griffith

Toppers

Wedding cake toppers are best known as being a tiny replica of a bride and groom, but can also be 3D words sitting atop the cake, flowers, crystals, or nearly anything else!  Get creative! 

Other Cake Details To Be Aware Of

Signing the Contract

When you've decided on a confectioner and a cake option you like, it's time to sign the contract. Remember to read everything first before you sign it. Make sure what you're signing is what you agreed to when you talked to your confectioner! In the contract should be the following details... 

Pricing

The deposit and date the cake is to be paid for (often 50%), and when the remainder will be due should be laid out. Make sure this includes delivery fees and all rental costs (such as toppers, cake cutters, cake displays, etc).

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

The Date the Cake will be Prepared

Sometimes cakes take multiple days to prepare! The start and end date of the cake's preparation should be included. 

Cake Transportation

It is usually the confectioner's job to transport the cake to the venue. Make sure the date of the reception, it's location address, and arrival time are listed. 

Ingredients

Make sure a list of cake ingredients is included, as well as a list of acceptable ingredient substitutions for ingredients that may become unavailable when the cake must be baked (I.E. seasonal fruits).

Description

A complete description of the cake, including the number of tiers and layers, flavors and fillings and icing, as well as its decor should be listed. Sometimes pictures can be included to ensure design accuracy. 

Saving The Top Cake

It is traditional for the bride and groom to freeze the top tier of their cake and eat it on their 1st wedding anniversary. If you are serving cupcakes but have a small cake for this purpose, it is customary to cut from that cake to feed each other a bite during the reception, but to then wrap the rest up for freezing. Ask your confectioner to help wrap it up to avoid freezer burn.

Other Dessert Options

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Cupcakes

If you would prefer not to serve a wedding cake, you can choose cupcakes instead! A cupcake tree is a popular option, similar-looking to the picture above. 

Dessert Tables

If your not a cake fanatic, don't worry! Serving cake at your wedding isn't the only option at all. Pies are also good choices, as are chocolate fountains or s'mores. You can serve a candy bar or a build-your-own-sundae bar. Or, if you don't want to focus on anything specific, you can serve a dessert table filled with a variety of cookies, chocolates, cakes, pies, mouses, squares, the list goes on. Get creative!

 PC Luxury Wedding

PC Luxury Wedding

As you can see, while the variety of cake options is huge, the dessert sky is the limit! Forget about tradition, if that's your only reason for choosing cake. Choose the dessert you like the best! What is most important for your wedding dessert is that you're happy with it. Choose the dessert that best suits who you and your fiance are! Your guests will be sure to love it.

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Let's Put Our Hands Together for All-Inclusive Venues

 PC Le Bam Studio

PC Le Bam Studio

I've been on the hunt for a venue for some clients recently, and I've run into numerous all-inclusive venues with some tempting offers.

All-inclusive venues can be known for taking advantage of clients by requiring that certain services--such as catering and alcohol--be purchased in addition to just the venue, else you pay some meal and corkage fees. They get a bad wrap for being expensive...but as I researched and compared pricing for independent vendors vs. all-inclusive venues, it began to appear that the all-inclusive venue might actually be the better deal...

1) Less Vendors to Keep Track Of

How convenient would it be to make a couple of large payments, rather than a dozen or more small ones to pull your wedding together? Imagine how much fewer emails you'll have to manage, consultations you'll have to attend, and wedding liability issues you'll avoid altogether if your venue is handling the food, the bar, the chairs and tables, your decor... All you'll have to do is bring in a photographer, officiant, DJ, and a few other vendors and you're be set!

2) Less Set-Up and Tear-Down to Manage

When your venue provides everything that involves any kind of set-up or tear-down, it means that they are responsible for doing just that. This means you won't have to rent your venue for the hours it would take to set up and tear down, and you or your coordinator won't have to be there for set-up and tear down. How convenient!

3) Less Staff To Pay

One of the reasons all-inclusive venues are on the pricier side is due to the fact that these venues have a larger staff to pay to be present for the duration of your event than a venue that doesn't offer extra services would. Because of this, you're not just paying for the use of a space, but the hourly wage of a dozen or so staff's time. How much staff would independent vendors also add up to, though? Rentals and catering alone require a group of people, as does floral decor... Additionally, the staff at this venue are trained and experienced to work at that particular location, and will most likely do a better job at solving and preventing common problems, ensuring things run smoothly, etc. 

In the end, how much more would your all-inclusive venue cost? Of course, in some cases, venues are just very pricey; but if you find the ones within your price-range, and compare them to the costs of paying independent vendors, you might be surprised at how little a difference there is in favor of the vendors. 

On a budget? That doesn't rule out all-inclusive venues, guys! Do some exploring, and you might be surprised at the great deals you'll find!

Oh, and my favorite venue site right now? https://www.wedding-spot.com/

You'll thank me later.

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Diary of a Wedding Planner, Part 2

 PC Engstrom Photography

PC Engstrom Photography

I'm so excited to kick off 2017 with a new, great, big business step forward! I'm going to launch a wedding product line! I can't give away the details just yeeeeet, but I've been conducting research, bouncing ideas off of my friends and family, and starting to gather items to be used for said products. Now that wedding season is officially over, and engagement season has begun, I have the time to re-brand myself a little bit in anticipation of this product line. Sheesh! Who knew that there was so much that went into making and selling stuff?

In other news, now that my December wedding is officially over (pictures coming as soon as the photographer releases them!) I am free to focus on the six other weddings I am in the midst of planning and coordinating. It's a lot of computer research, paperwork, and emails, which I really enjoy. I love the freedom of not having to pass my communication with clients and vendors by anyone else--such as a boss. It's just me! How crazy awesome it is to be able to call the shots. It saves so much time and keeps things organized, as information goes through less hands this way. 

I am also excited that as I work with more vendors, I am beginning to pull together a cohesive Preferred Vendors List, especially because it means there's a possibility of working with my favorite vendors more than once. I really love strengthening my relationships with great vendors, because it makes working with them during weddings organized, predictable, and enjoyable.

As a wedding planner, I sometimes feel as though other vendors worry I'm just there to tell them how to do their jobs. On the contrary, I don't want to have to do that--I have my own job to get done. Instead, I want to work with vendors who know how to do their jobs better than I even understand. Rather than worry they'll do it wrong, it's my dream (I'm serious, my DREAM!) to work with a group of vendors who can seamlessly work together to pull off a beautiful wedding. 

December is almost over! Uh, when did that happen? As this year inches near it's closing, I feel proud of what this business has accomplished in the seven months it's been around, and look forward to what 2017 will bring. Here's to growth in personal knowledge and experience, and to the happiness and success of all my clients' marriages. 

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A Beautiful May Wedding

Earlier this year I had the privilege of arranging the flowers for a friend's wedding with my mom, who has an eye for color and is very artistic. I'm so excited to throw it back this Friday to some pictures that the photographer recently shared with me! 

My mom and I arranged and created the five hair pieces worn by the bridesmaids and maid of honor uniquely--that is to say, we kept the same color scheme by using similar flowers for each hair piece, but didn't bother to replicate anything. Each one is a little different, which made them more fun for my mom and I to put together, and for the wedding party to choose which hair piece they wanted to wear. 

The wedding was at the groom's parents' house in the country, which made a for a beautiful outdoor wedding, and which made wild flowers a natural choice for the bouquets.

The couple, Spencer and Michaela, met in high school, and were best friends before they began dating. I love when couples get the opportunity to grow up together. It makes their love story that much sweeter to me because they know deeply not only who the other person is, but who they have been throughout their lives.

Besides the hair pieces, booutonnieres, corsages and bouquets, we also put together the ceremony and reception decor, which the bride wanted to keep simple with mason jars, twine, and individual flowers. It made for a very easy, but fun job!

It was a beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple, and I am proud to have been involved in it. Show out to Engstrom Photos for sharing the album with me!

 

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Weddings: You Get Exactly What You Pay For

 PC Skyline Trade Show Tips

PC Skyline Trade Show Tips

I don't mean to be a bummer here. I AM a budgeting specialist, after all. But in my (recent) experience, it has become exceedingly clear that you absolutely get what you pay for.

That being said...is it possible to find adorable Sweetheart Table Decor on sale at Target, Party City or on Amazon? Yes!

Is it possible to save money by DIY-ing wedding favors that would cost twice as much to pay a company to put together for you? Totally!

Is it even possible to catch the vendor you want to hire having a sale on the perfect package? If you're lucky! (Jump on that, by the way! That's great!)

BUT what you can't do is bargain-hunt your vendors. It's the difference between coupon-clipping at reputable stores who have the occasional sale, and regularly shopping at the Dollar Store. The stuff at the Dollar Store cost less, therefore, it is worth less. 

A great example can be made of a recent wedding that I had the pleasure of coordinating. The florist was a wonderful lady that I believe was honest and ethical, and who did more than her job to accommodate a bride who wanted more than she was willing to pay. The bouquets of roses were a little bruised on the tips, but looking at the pricing on the contract, I know it was due only to a severely limited budget. Even so, the bride was very upset that the vendor dared deliver such work, and tried to get a discount. The florist came to me later and explained how she felt her hands were tied behind her back. There was nothing she could do if she didn't want to pay more for the roses than the bride was paying her to make them.

I understand that when you're in the lower- or middle-class, the average wedding budget can seem like a lot more than it turns out to be when translated into Wedding. But unlike the bargains you can conger up on a shopping trip, vendors whose bills are paid by the people who book them cannot afford to let everyone who asks get 50% off. Especially considering that there are only so many weekends in a year, and only so many of those that they may be able to book, it is vital that vendors charge enough to live off of. Their work is valuable, and if you choose to hire a DJ or a Florist or a Photographer for your wedding, you're going to have to pay for the quality that you expect.

This is true because--of course--vendors with low prices do exist. But vendors with low prices don't charge low fees because they somehow need less to live off of. They charge what they charge because they are hobbyists, they are inexperienced, or because the products and services they are offering are low-quality, and don't cost them much time or money to produce. 

You get what you pay for. You pay a high price to a reputable hotel for an all-inclusive wedding? You get all-inclusive. Things will run smoothly, people will do their jobs well, and your good money will have been well-spent. But you pull together a team of vendors who charge next to nothing--and then you expect a wedding with all the bells and whistles--and you'll be disappointed. 

Certainly, low-budget weddings can and should exist. Everyone deserves to have a wedding! All I'm trying to point out is that you shouldn't expect your vendors to deliver products and services you clearly aren't paying enough for. If you have a low budget for flowers, then simply don't choose expensive, out-of-season flowers. If you have a low budget for food, invite less guests to maximize food costs, or consider a food truck. If you can't afford a DJ--maybe don't hire a DJ. Not every child's 12th birthday is the magnificent Bat Mitzvah with the three course dinner,  plethora of decorations and bouncy houses, and clown handing out balloons that you've heard of. It's the same with weddings. Throw the wedding that you can afford, instead of pretending--up until your wedding day, when it all becomes clear--that you're throwing the one you haven't actually financially invested in. 

I'm not trying to be harsh at all. It is just so vitally important to understand that prices on wedding services don't lie. You can't get it for less. You might be able to get something ELSE for less, but it will cost less because you will be getting less.

Anybody have relevant experiences to share in the comments below? I'd love your input! 

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Wedding Planning: What Not to Leave To the Last Minute

 PC Buhdoopspogspot.com

PC Buhdoopspogspot.com

As a wedding planning, hearing a client say, "I'm leaving X to the last minute" is my literal nightmare. The stakes are so high when you leave only time enough for something being done at the last minute to work the first time around. It puts pressure on everyone involved, and it means that I may be left to figure out how to fix "emergencies" that could've been calmly sorted through had they been done a month in advance. It's not a good idea. It's SO preventable. This is one of the best pieces of free advice anyone getting married can get. 

So, exactly what do you absolutely NOT leave to the last minute?

Uhm, everything??? Okay, okay, fine. I'll narrow it down to the following five things.

1) DIY Anything

This is the one I am going to make a blanket statement about. It's because projects look fun on Pinterest, but what you don't know is those fun Pinterest projects took HOURS. Day's, even. And you think the picture is of the first version of the thing they made? No, the first version of every project ever deemed Pinterest-Worthy was considered a learning curve and then thrown away. So will YOUR complicated paper-mache wedding card box that you're going to make the day before the rehearsal be any different? I am sorry my friend, but unless you're a paper-mache magician, you'll probably make the project, look at it, stress-cry, and then immediately Google wedding card boxes that have overnight shipping options. Do we want to go through that? No? Well I have good news. Do it two months before the wedding, and then perfect it again and again until it's your spirit animal and Pinterest-Worthy as ever. Without the stress-crying and expensive expedited shipping. 

In addition to preventing paper-mache disasters and unnecessary stress-crying, doing things ahead of time also means that it's okay if you run out of ribbon for your invites. You can always order more. It's okay if the hot glue used in your banquet table centerpieces isn't sticking anymore after your fiance accidentally watered one (how sweet of him!)... You have time to make another or re-glue the whole thing. Do you see a pattern here? Extra time will save your tush!

2) Vendor Bookings

You haven't booked your caterer and your wedding day is how many weeks away? Are you crazy? Sure, you've talked to them, and your wedding date was still available a month ago, but if someone else comes along also getting married on your wedding date and they're ready to sign that contract and make a payment, you're outta luck. And you now get to find someone else to cater gluten-free French Cuisine food to your 180 guests for $15 per person--including the wine. What if no one is available? What will you do? This wouldn't have happened if you'd just signed that contract four months ago.

Do you want this to be you? (Please, don't let it be you!) Get this stuff done in advance! You (and I!) will both look back together, laugh about how crazy it would have been if we had put it off, and then high-five. That sounds way more fun.

3) Delegating Wedding Party Tasks

Do you know who your ushers are going to be? Is your best man supposedly driving you and your new spouse to your hotel room after the reception? ...Did you tell him this? Who is going to take your wedding gifts to your house after the reception and you've gone off to your honeymoon? Who is helping clean up all of your DIY centerpieces and taking them from the reception to be stored in their garage so that the venue doesn't throw them away? Do your bridesmaids know that they're carpooling to the salon to get their hair done the day of the wedding at 8:15AM?

Because weddings involve people who aren't being paid to do a job, delegation and communication with the wedding party are sensitive issues to be handled with the utmost care. You love the people who you've chosen to involve in your wedding, and you absolutely want those relationships to continue afterwards! They require care and consideration. In some ways, the wedding party must volunteer to do the tasks listed above. Of course, some one needs to get them done, but it's a matter of who is appropriate for and able and willing to give of their time for each task. Don't put this off. Ask with enough time left that people are comfortable saying "no" if they need to. This way, the person who is best for the task can be utilized. 

4) Wedding Vows

These can take a long time to perfect, and you DO want your vows to be perfect. Spend the adequate time on them that they absolutely deserve. This is not something you'll have time for the morning of the ceremony, unlike what you might envision. The morning of the ceremony is full of feelings, full of people who have questions and concerns, and full of things that need to get done before the ceremony. Are you really going to have an hour to sit in some garden with a pen and notepad while you wait--with a clear, peaceful mind--for a wave of poetic inspiration to hit? Gurlll, you'll be Googling vows and speed-printing some blogger's words five minutes before your ceremony. And you know why those vows will be better than your scrambled ones? Because they were written MONTHS IN ADVANCE WHEN THAT LADY HAD TIME ON HER HANDS UNLIKE YOU. 

I'm only yelling because I want what's best for you, okay?

5) Wedding Attire

Can I not have to list this? Do NOT tell me your seamstress needs you to order fabric for the top of your dress when it's three weeks from your wedding date. Don't stress me out like that. More importantly, don't stress YOU out like that. Get those wedding shoes on your feet months in advance to lovingly break in. Order that garter! Order it in two sizes so you have time to return both and get one that fits perfectly! And get that dress figured out months in advance. Please. For our sanity. With every detail, pace yourself, leave time for error, and leave room for second thoughts.

 

....You might be thinking, "Wow, MaKenna, that's really harsh to expect all of these things to get done so far in advance." I understand that feeling. It's easy to think that 6 months until your wedding leaves you rich with time to spend leisurely considering twenty different things without actually committing to any. But 6 months will be 1 in so short a time that you just won't believe it. And then you'll realize that you have to make twenty big decisions in a week--and just watch, it'll be the week that your boss asks you to work overtime three days in a row for a big project, your car needs to go in for repairs, and the dog gets fleas. That's just life. You'll be sitting there at 2AM with your poor dog reading through contracts, wishing you'd just signed when you'd met with the caterer in person.

I don't write about this just because more on-top-of-it brides would make my job easier. The reality is that while I care about your wedding, nobody cares more than you. If your DIY origami name cards don't work out, I'll be able to objectively keep them off the banquet tables without much regret. If the fabric you ordered for the top of your dress comes in off-white, and you have to wear it, and a few people notice, you're going to care much more than I will. If you failed to sign the contract with the caterer you wanted in time, and have to settle for second best, I am not going to experience that sinking gut feeling, although I'll be sad on your behalf. In the end, these things impact you. The stress of the 11th hour may not be my favorite ever, but it's my job. It's YOUR wedding.

So take this with a grain of salt. This will ultimately help you. It will greatly improve the chances of your wedding's success! I know you can do it!

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11 Questions You Might Forget To Ask Your Venue (Before Booking)

This list doesn't need much description. Sometimes the venue search is too exciting to remember all of those important questions. Not to worry! The questions below are commonly forgotten, so if you go over these, and remember the basics, you should be golden.

 PC Belle The Magazine

PC Belle The Magazine

1) Do you have any discounts if I book on a day other than Saturday?

2) How many people can this location accommodate?

 PC The Knot

PC The Knot

3) Do you require that I use your caterer?

4) Are there alcohol restrictions, or corkage fees?

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

5) What's the weather contingency plan (for outdoor venues)?

6) Are their music volume restrictions my DJ will need to be aware of?

 PC WeddingWire

PC WeddingWire

7) Is there ample parking?

8) Are there any hidden fees like service fees, gratuities, cleaning fees, or overtime fees?

 PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

9) Are there any decor limits? (Such as lit candles?)

10) Are there any photo restrictions?

 PC Brides

PC Brides

11) Who will be available during the event to direct us? 

Wanna know more about why these questions are important to ask? Check out the video below for my personal explanations.

Did you find these questions helpful? Have one to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 Eerily Beautiful Ideas for Your Halloween Wedding

Are you as in love with the idea of having a Halloween wedding as much as I am? You've stopped by the right place. There are thousands upon thousands of ideas out there on how to decorate for a perfectly spooky affair, I know, but I wanted to compile a few of my favorites here. Care to take a peek?

1) Bobbing For Apples

 Pc Pinterest

Pc Pinterest

Bobbing for apples has always been a game associated with fall and Halloween. Why not incorporate it into your wedding to dress up a bare corner? The blacker the water, the better. Cut out the tops of the apples and stick some battery-operated candles in there to make them glow!

2) Trick or Treat Bar 

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

A sweet bar with a little Halloween spin, this table decked with candy is sure to be a (trick or) treat!

3) Forest Tree Centerpieces

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Nothing like the idea of a dark, dangerous woods to freak your guests out just enough to keep them intrigued. This is a great option for weddings wanting only the suggestion of a darker Halloween theme.

4) Bat Chandelier

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

The phrase "Til Death Do Us Part" is a huge trend for Halloween weddings! (Maybe don't overdo it?) This picture, however, is tasteful with its simple nod to its origin--and come on, check out those painted wine bottles. Yes please? Yes PLEASE!

5) Red as a Theme Color

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Want to get a little gory with your wedding decor? Red will go a LONG way. Just look at this picture. What do you see? Blood stained napkins. That's what you see.

6) Skeleton Hand Napkin-Rings

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Need a hand with your napkins? Here is your literal answer.

7) Coffin Ring Box

 PC Etsy, Tellable Design

PC Etsy, Tellable Design

Nothing says "Til Death Do Us Part" like a ring carried around in a coffin. 

8) Dark Bouquets

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Remember that bit about the blood? It applies here.

9) Skull Wedding Cake

 PC Weddingomania

PC Weddingomania

If I'm honest, this cake is much more cute than it is frightening. It definitely suggests class, but with a whimsical edge. Your guests are sure to adore it in all of it's spook-tacular glory.

10) Black, White and Red Wedding Cake

 PC Cake Geek Magazine

PC Cake Geek Magazine

With Halloween weddings, it's important not to overdo it. Not everything has to be terrifying! A beautiful wedding cake with some darker colors is a good way to keep things balanced while cohesive.

11) A Non-White Wedding Dress

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Just a word--a Halloween wedding DOESN'T mean your dress must also be Halloween themed. At the end of the day, it's still a wedding, and you don't want to forfeit that wedding gown experience if you feel the alternative is too costume-y. You do you, boo. (See what I did there?)

...That being said--THIS. DRESS. 

12) Colored Smoke Bombs

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

From your engagement pictures to your reception photo booth, incorporating your wedding colors (especially if they're Halloween-related) into some smoke bomb fun is a great way to add some eerie mystery to the occasion.

13) Pumpkin Drink Bowl

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

These are great for the drink table or even as table centerpieces. Get creative! Pumpkins are cheap and simple decorations that can go a really long way.

14) Spiderweb Invitations

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Don't keep the Halloween fun limited to just October. Send out those bone-shivering invites any time of the year! Your guests will love it.

15) Skull and Poison Themed Centerpieces

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Get fun and edgy with those centerpieces. Your guests will be staring at them all throughout the meal, so keep the festive mood going!

16) Halloween-Themed Tableware

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Yeah, yeah, I know what I said about how trendy and unoriginal the phrase is, but come on. It's gonna get incorporated in there somehow! If your guests are being served a sit down meal, they won't notice this detail until their plates are empty!

Have a Halloween Wedding idea to share? I'd love to hear it in the comments below!

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Guest Post - All About Your Wedding Planner

I recently networked with a Wedding Planner in New York who was only too happy to share her insight into the business with me. I thought her answers to the questions listed below were an awesome resource for couples in the planning process of their weddings, and wanted to share.

Chantal Stephens is the owner of Events by Coco, located in New York.

 PC Silver Fox

PC Silver Fox

As a planner yourself, if you were hiring a planner/coordinator for your own wedding, what 3 things would you look for in that planner/coordinator?

"If I was planning the most important day of my life, I definitely would want a few particular things in a planner! She would need to be trustworthy, as I would want to make sure I feel comfortable trusting her with every detail in the planning process. She would need to have excellent communication skills, as I am the type of person that really likes when people are quick to respond. And she would need to be super friendly/caring as I would hope we would become friends because we will be together so much so I would want her to be someone I can easily get along with and have fun with!"

What's the most surprising thing you've learned about planning weddings?

"I have learned (quickly) that weddings involve a lot of details! They are very time consuming and take a lot of patience!! As a wedding guest, you are really missing ALL of the background noise and what it takes to make sure everything goes on without fail."

 PC Marrero Events

PC Marrero Events

Do you think having a Day-of Coordinator is absolutely necessary for a wedding to run smoothly?

"Yes, I absolutely do. As I mentioned above, weddings require many details, timelines, and it really gives a bride a much needed relief to not have to deal with all of that on their day. I love to be able to allow brides to enjoy the most important day of their lives!"

What's one thing you really want future couples to know about the wedding planning process?

"It doesn't have to be stressful!!! And there are so many ways to save money! It can be so much fun and enjoyable if you have the right planner guiding you through!"

What roles outside of a planner/coordinator does the wedding planner sometimes need to assume on the job?

"We are definitely a wearer of many, many hats. Whether it be planner, mediator, therapist, fashion adviser, quick thinker, problem solver, janitor, and so much more! Whatever we are faced with, we put that hat on and get to work!"

 PC The Balance

PC The Balance

What are the 5 top qualities you believe a good planner must have to be successful?

"Communication, compassion, strong planner/organizer, strong net-worker, creative eye!"

On the day of a wedding, what emergency items do you bring with you to solve potential issues? Why?

"I have a big emergency kit full of anything from tide, Advil, Pepto, wipes, water bottles, band aids, nail file, nail polish, tissues, mints, and so much more."

Any tips for couples looking to hire good planners/coordinators?

"When you first meet with them, you will feel whether they are right or not. The right planner will ask you the right questions, and you will truly feel like she could be your friend!"

Have anything to add? How would you answer the questions listed here? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Things To Do BEFORE Choosing Your Venue

 PC Karma Hill

PC Karma Hill

Everybody seems to think that the FIRST thing you do after getting engaged and begin the planning process is book your venue. While it certainly is smart to get it figured out right away, choosing it before deciding on anything is a huge mistake. Venue deposits generally aren't refundable, and generally represent a fairly large portion of your budget, so this isn't something you want to mess up on...

As a wedding planner, I've worked with clients who chose and booked their venue before understanding what they wanted the very essence of their wedding to be, and it forced them to adapt many of the big details they would've changed otherwise to match their venue. It makes me frustrated that couples who believe they need a planner don't think it's necessary to work with a planner to find their venue also. Trust me on this--there's a little more to it than just finding a space that you like that you can afford!

In hopes of improving others' experiences with venues, I've written out the top 5 things to do BEFORE choosing your venue. These things are so important to work through FIRST that I can promise the couples who go through this list and do the work a much happier experience with their venue choices throughout the entire planning process. 

Ready?

 PC lesanella.com

PC lesanella.com

#1 - Decide on Your Wedding Theme

Why? It doesn't make sense to book a barn for your reception if you are still thinking about a beach-themed wedding. Barn screams rustic, country, romantic, while beach says luau, chill vibes, and BBQ. Choosing a theme dictates what the desired atmosphere of your venue should be, and understanding that desired atmosphere as you look through venues will make the task of choosing much easier. Either it fits, or it doesn't. The bonus of choosing a venue that matches your theme means that you won't have to over-decorate to make your venue and theme marry (gasp! wedding pun!). If they're the right match, they'll work together perfectly just as they are, and isn't that better?

 PC Your North Country

PC Your North Country

#2 - Create Your Guest List

Since invites don't generally go out before 6-8 weeks before the big day, it might not seem obvious that you should have the guest list hammered out now--but it is so important! Venue rooms have a guest limit, so if you book a venue that fits just 100 heads, you can't add another 50 to your guest list after your mother comes to you with more names! 

Here's your Handy Dandy Guideline:

- For the ceremony, you should have about 6 square feet per guest.

- For the banquet tables, there should be about 12 square feet per guest.

- For the dance-floor, there should be about 8 square feet per guest.

Follow these guidelines and you'll be golden!

 PC Coco Wedding Venues

PC Coco Wedding Venues

#3 - Understand Your Wedding Budget

This determines what you can spend on your venue! If you book a venue for $5,000 without realizing that your total wedding budget is $10,000, you just spent a (generally non-refundable) 50% of your budget on your location! That's not much wiggle room...

 PC Bridebox Wedding Albums

PC Bridebox Wedding Albums

#4 - Decide What Other Kinds of Vendors You Will Hire

This is important not only so you can understand where you stand with your budget, but to understand how to accommodate your vendors needs...

Are you booking a DJ? You need to know--is there room for his DJ booth? Are there ample electrical plugs near the dance-floor? Will that booth fit around other tables you'll need such as the cake table, the consumption bar, the gift table, etc.?

Are you booking a caterer? Do they need a commercial kitchen or will they set up shop outside? If they set up outside, does the venue permit this? Is there an area where they can do this without being right in everyone's view?

Are you booking a florist who will need to arrange flowers on-site? They will need a corner during the morning of the wedding to do this without disturbing anyone. Will they get early access to the room?

These are all questions to keep in mind as you consider venues! Don't do yourself or your vendors the disservice of overlooking these details.

 PC Harper's Bazaar

PC Harper's Bazaar

#5 - Create a Basic Outline of Your Wedding Week Schedule

You might know you're getting married on a specific Saturday, so that's obviously the day you'll book, but did you make sure the venue is also available the day before for your rehearsal? You'd be shocked at how few couples think about this! Additionally, think about whether you'll need to be at the venue any other times before the wedding, and confirm with the venue manager that this is okay. You should especially be aware of when your decor and rentals will need to be delivered and set up. The venue will need to accommodate these vendors. (Late set up presents a whole new host of problems!)

Your wedding day schedule is also important to be aware of as you look at the actual building layout of your venue. If you have your wedding at the same venue in two different areas for the ceremony and reception, consider whether moving the crowd from one room to another other will present any technical difficulties. If there are other weddings or events going on the same day, is it possible your guests might end up in the wrong reception room? Don't let it happen!

Have any tips to add? Don't hesitate! Add them in the comments below!

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More About That Wedding Dress!

I recently put the video embedded above up on YouTube. It is the first of three videos documenting the many hours of my life I spent sewing away at a wedding dress for a photo shoot. You can read more about that photo shoot here! I am very excited about getting my feet wet in the YouTubing world and hope that you will stop by sometime, watch a couple videos, and maybe like and subscribe. 

If you're remotely interested in sewing, clothing design, pattern making, or weddings in general, clicking on the video above is the perfect way to start!

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Three Things to Remember When Wedding Planning Gets Tough

 PC pinterest.com

PC pinterest.com

The wedding industry is one not just of weddings, but of (very loud) opinions. Certainly the abundance of strong opinions is not a quality isolated only to the wedding industry, but it is one that I, and presumably others too, were surprised to find when first poking our heads through the industry's door. It would appear that--pretty often--the romantic, carefree feelings associated with wedding bells are not as present as the tricky guest-list etiquette, pressure to follow new wedding trends, and family's eager vendor suggestions seem to be. Wedding planning easily becomes expensive, overwhelming, and even conflicted very quickly... I get it. But hey--it doesn't have to be that way!

This post is written in with deep empathy, and with the hope that the following three suggestions will empower and encourage those who feel cornered by wedding planning complications.

 PC prezi.com

PC prezi.com

1) Expect and embrace that there will be conflict.

Be ready for it. Everyone has an opinion, and there will be so many of them that are so diverse that even the most people-pleasing bride will have to choose between some. That's okay--let me repeat myself on this one--conflict is normal, and should not surprise you. Not everyone's tastes or experiences match yours, nor should they; and while you now know that after reading this, keep in mind that not everyone consciously registers that wedding ideals differ. Furthermore, remember that many people consciously have no idea what kind of pressure or expectations their opinions may put on those around them. Do give people the benefit of the doubt here.

Here's how you deal with it: don't let it pressure you. Take it in stride. Definitely don't try to appease others wishes by letting them design your wedding for you; be gracious, but be firm. Be willing to say when necessary, "That's a really lovely idea! Actually, my fiance[e] and I were thinking we'd do [different idea] instead. Here, let me show you a picture!" 

At the same time, keep in mind that these are relationships that will exist post-wedding, so it's not worth it to permanently cut ties over something as temporary as cupcake flavors or reception playlists. Should a relational issue come up that is not solvable with a bit of insistence, consider compromising for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes you'll have opportunities to meet halfway. For instance, let's say your cousin is allergic to chocolate, but your fiance[e]'s favorite cake flavor is chocolate. So serve chocolate cake in most of your cake layers, but have one layer in a flavor you know your cousin prefers. This compromise is a great way to show how much you appreciate your cousin and want him to enjoy the wedding as much as you do. 

Compromise is key, but you can't bend every time your new mother-in-law insists upon having something her way, because this relational pattern is bound to continue post-wedding. And post-wedding, the issues being insisted upon will likely be more important, and you may have an even greater difference of opinions on them. (For instance, parenting.) All things considered, perhaps establishing during wedding planning the kind of steadfastness you will need later on will improve your relationships for the long-haul. Handling delicate issues with this in mind will also put disagreements over things like cupcake flavors in perspective. 

 PC goodhousekeeping.co.uk

PC goodhousekeeping.co.uk

2) Forget about following trends.

Do you like the recent wedding trends? If so, go ahead and do them all! But if you don't, then please, please don't have a trendy wedding if it isn't you. This wedding you're planning should be the ultimate expression of who you and your special somebody are. Just because naked cakes like the one pictured above have been trending for the last couple of years doesn't mean you too must have one. Get the cake you want. This cake is for you, not Pinterest. Having a trendy wedding can get expensive fast, especially if your decor becomes competitive with magazine pictures--or the wedding your sister had last summer. Be mindful about why you make your wedding decisions and ask yourself the following questions:

1) "For whom/why am I making this decision?"

2) "Is that what is best, or is there a cheaper/easier/better/different way to do it?"

3) "Does it match my and my fiance's personal tastes?"

4) "Will I look back and wish I had made a different decision?"

Move forward based on those answers, keeping potential conflict in consideration, and knowing that the more bells and whistles you throw in based on what's trending, the more expensive things will become. 

 PC brides.com

PC brides.com

3) Remember your guests.

I used to feel strongly that wedding decisions ought to be made based solely on the tastes of the marrying couple--that is until I started to read Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette. Early on in the book it expresses the opinion that the wedding reception is a celebration of the happy couple's marriage as well as their valued relationships with all of the guests. This idea struck me as very balancing, since I see a lot of complaints online about how couples have poorly hosted their guests, who--on some occasions--have traveled, booked hotel rooms, and taken time off of work to make it to the wedding. It seems appropriate to thank them for their investment in the couple. 

Before I go on, I want to clarify what I'm NOT saying: 

1) "Weddings are all about the guests."

2) "The bride and groom have to spend a lot of money on their guests."

We clear? So here's what I AM saying:

A reception is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to thank their guests for their involvement in their lives by hosting a reception designed in part to pamper their guests.

Try not to think of the wedding in terms of money. Or heads in a banquet hall. Try to think of it in terms of an party with your dearest friends and family--even when price tags tempt you to think otherwise. You absolutely don't have to choose the most expensive food options or fancy dance-floor lights in order to communicate your sincerity, either.

When creating your budget, it's important to figure out what you and your fiance[e]'s priorities are. You each can list out your top five priorities, and then each come up with two ways through which you can treat your guests in a way that says "thank you" for their support and involvement in your lives. From there, compare lists and see where your priorities match. Try to consolidate both lists to one smaller one listing 5-6 of your top priorities, and do the same with your guest thank you list. The things on those lists are your big ticket items, and the things you choose to treat your guests with are where you can focus your attention without spending every penny you have. 

For instance, instead of spending money on food, an expensive cake and dessert table, alcohol, a DJ, entertainment, and a massive dance floor setup, choosing to treat your guests mainly to a great dinner and a generous consumption bar will make for happy, comfortable guests. They won't mind a smaller cake and dance-floor as long as their bellies are well taken care of. HINT: drinks make for a cheerful crowd that will happily dance anywhere. 

 

Obviously, there are other tough issues that come up with wedding planning that these three points don't cover. But these three suggestions do have the potential to minimize stress and drama during the planning process. By being ready to handle conflict, being focused on designing the wedding you want--regardless of what the magazines say,--and keeping your guests' happiness in mind, you'll be well on your way to planning a wedding that has something in it for everyone. 

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Point Reyes Styled Shoot

For months I've been prepping this styled shoot, and feel that in the three hours it took to photograph, everything fell into place--and then was over. I guess I'm one to get sentimental over huge projects like this, because already I'm looking at the pictures wishing I could do it over again. 

I started working on this about two months ago, and while my vendors contributed immensely to the project, many of the props used were things I hunted for, purchased, or made from scratch myself. For this reason, I am doubly sentimental, thinking back on how I purchased the dress and completely re-designed it, made the square dummy cakes on the cake table, spent hours shopping for rings, mirrors, and other props, and meticulously planned different shots I wanted taken. All of these things are not part of my regular job-description as a planner, but when no one is actually getting married who can take care of these things...no one else is going to get them done! I ended up incredibly happy with the photos and very proud of myself and everyone involved for the hard work that was poured into this.

Without further ado, here are my favorite photos from the shoot!

style shoot-shoot-0047.jpg
style shoot-shoot-0132.jpg

Vendors Involved

Photography: Caleb Rippetoe, www.thesedecisivemoments.com

Flowers: Andrelina Siveira, www.fremontflowershoppe.com

Cupcakes: Emmie Luong, www.uhadmeatcake.com

Chalkboards: Rebecca Charlton, www.chalkwhimsy.com

Photo shoot coordinator, wedding gown designer, (square) cake designer: MaKenna Stevens, www.perfectlyplannedmoments.com

Models: Julia Nichols and Joseph Weibe

Location, Point Reyes, California

 

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Battling the Budget Part 3: Wedding Hacks

This week's post is the last one in my three-part budgeting series! This week, I will be covering several budget-friendly wedding hacks that are sure to please your wallet as well as your guests. I'm a big believer in "smarter, not harder", and I feel that these hacks represent that well. Keep in mind these are only 11 of the infinite ideas brilliant minds have invented overtime. Let's get to it!

 PC www.brides.com

PC www.brides.com

1) turn wedding programs into fans for outdoor weddings in warm weather. This will make your programs more interesting, and will give guests some relief on a particularly hot day.

 PC audioworks.in

PC audioworks.in

2) Before calling up rental companies, contact a few locations such as churches, hotels, theaters, etc. asking to rent their chairs and tables while they're not in use. These venues will likely be happy to make a profit by loaning out an otherwise unused product.

 PC chicvintagebrides.com

PC chicvintagebrides.com

3) Consider having your bridesmaids rent their dresses, based on the unlikelihood of them ever wearing them again. This can easily save them money, but should be an option discussed with everyone involved before making a decision; it's their money being spent, after all. Some bridesmaids might be sentimental and want to have a dress to keep after the wedding is over. Bridesmaid dresses can be rented from stores like www.vowtobechic.com.

 PC stylecaster.com

PC stylecaster.com

4) Instead of using a sticker or handwriting your address on thank you cards, get a personal stamp with your married names and home address engraved in it to save time post-wedding. This can also jazz up the envelopes, and who says you can't use this stamp to address every single letter mailed out from now on?

 PC moncheribridals.com

PC moncheribridals.com

5) Keep floating flowers buoyant by sticking the stems through small disks of bubble wrap! I personally think this is brilliant. Floating flowers and floating candles can compliment each other very well, and can create an incredibly economic centerpiece--even when used sparingly. 

 PC brit.co

PC brit.co

6) If your wedding theme is any variation of rustic, consider using a "well-loved" ladder as a shelving unit for your cocktail station. You're very likely to already be in possession of such a one, or know someone who might be willing to lend it for the occasion. 

 PC megany.loveitsomuch.com

PC megany.loveitsomuch.com

7) Make your table centerpieces double as wedding favors. This works if: your wedding favors directly correlate with your wedding theme, they are particularly nice to look at, and when you allow these favors to be displayed with some variation. Displaying succulents, for example, at different heights--with the help of candle stands or upside-down mason jars (hello vintage)--can make things a bit more exciting. Be sure to place as many favors on each table as there are guests seated, and indicate with a sign or a name tag that they are for guests to take home afterwards. 

 PC agardenpartyllc.com

PC agardenpartyllc.com

8) Make bridesmaids bouquets double as table centerpieces. This works best when your number of tables correlates with your number of bridesmaids, although it's also possible to use bouquets for every other table, and have something else (lanterns, medleys of candles, etc.) on the rest. The bride's bouquet can also be used to decorate the cake table, or one of the wedding party tables, along with the maid of honor's bouquet. All of these bouquets are likely to be put down during the reception, (save, perhaps, for the bouquet toss, if a throwaway is not used), so why not put them to good use? They'll be sitting in fresh water ready to be taken home until the reception is over.

 PC brit.co

PC brit.co

9) Again with the rustic tones, consider a palette photo booth backdrop. This is also a brilliant way to hide an ugly area in your outdoor venue. Palettes are often left on curbs or behind stores to be recycled. Make sure these palettes are hosed down and sanded before displaying them, since they'll likely be touched by guests, and may be dirty and splinter-prone when you find them. Consider staining the wood as well, to add a more finished look.

 PC alowcountrywedding.com

PC alowcountrywedding.com

10) Speaking of hiding ugly or boring areas at your venue--consider  a thick backdrop of balloons! This is an affordable, beautiful option for spiffing up boring corners of a room.

 PC thebrokeassbride.com

PC thebrokeassbride.com

11) Spray-paint various dishes in your wedding colors to create cohesion for decorations while things vary in size and design. This makes shopping for those decorative details an optimum level of EASY, since the color and medium of items doesn't matter! You'll paint those babies to perfection. The Broke-ass Bride has a tutorial here

 

That's it for this series! But it's definitely not the end of my thoughts on budgeting. In fact, I blog so much on how to manage wedding and event expenses that's it's worth subscribing if that's the only thing that interests you here.

Remember to post questions or other budget-friendly tips below!

 

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Battling the Budget Part 2: Inexpensive Alternatives

Nothing ruins wedding vibes like price-tags that say "no." In the same way, price-tags that scream "YES!" can really make a difference in the planning process, which is why I love my job. I have kind of an obsession with finding good prices and using creativity to come up with lovely alternatives to things such as standard wedding fare. (Don't believe me? I once developed a month-long meal-plan for myself that priced out everything with recipes, shopping lists, and all organic ingredients for three square meals a day with a budget of $100.) 

In the previous blog-post, I pinpointed the five common large expenses that nearly all weddings struggle to escape. In this blogpost, I'm going to return to those same five things and and share my ideas on how to avoid the price-tag with some creativity and extra thought. Ready to learn how to keep your wallet from emptying?

 PC Venuesafari.com

PC Venuesafari.com

1. Ways to Save Money on Your Venue(s)

a) Just rent out ONE venue. Think about it: renting one area at a ceremony location costs, say $1,000. Later on, you decide you want to rent a second area at that same location for the reception as well. However, instead of that second area also costing $1,000, it costs $500, because you've already rented another part of the venue. So you're at $1,500. Now, let's suppose you rented a second location instead of an extension of the first location. Is that second location going to cost just $500? Probably not, because many venues have a minimum rental requirement, or they simply charge a higher minimum for rental of any area at their venue. So it's likely that the second venue will also cost around $1,000. So now you're at $2,000, instead of the $1,500, for the SAME purpose! Renting two different venues is also a lot more trouble, because sometimes you have to take into account the transportation of your guests, which might also come out of your pocket. 

b) Get hitched on a weekday. Most weddings are on Saturdays or Sundays because it's most convenient for guests to attend. However, because of their popularity, venues generally hike up the prices of venues on weekends, a lot like how airfares are three to four times the price on holiday weekends. They do it because they can. On weekdays, however, very few venues get weddings booked, so their prices generally go down. If your guests can get off work a few hours early, consider having your wedding on a weekday, such as Monday, to save some bank.

c) Have your wedding at a private venue, such as a friend's property or large house. This can save you thousands of dollars, and often does not compromise the quality of the location. It really does pay to know certain people!

 PC theweddingspecialists.net

PC theweddingspecialists.net

2. Ways to Save Money on Catering

a) Plan your wedding around a lighter meal, such as brunch or lunch. Serving coffee, fruit salad, muffins, and deviled eggs for a light brunch is much more cost-effective than almost any dinner will be. Even a lunch of fruit, veggies, and tea sandwiches is cheaper than the dinner plates that most caterers will offer for evening meals. Including a brunch or lunch will change a wedding schedule around entirely though, and will only work if your vision includes a day wedding. 

b) Have a Potluck Wedding. This is more styled toward country weddings, or small church weddings where this kind of meal is common. It can certainly save a lot of money, though. 

c) Have the family provide the meal. This is similar to a potluck wedding, but it puts the provisional responsibility on the bride and groom's family members instead of on the guests. It is best suited for more intimate weddings, and is very convenient for weddings located at a house. 

 PC romanticdecorationnow.blogspot.com

PC romanticdecorationnow.blogspot.com

3. Ways to Save Money on Guest Seating and Details

a) Move those chairs! When you have a ceremony as well as a sit-down dinner, you need twice the amount of chairs--unless you MOVE the ceremony chairs during the cocktail hour to the banquet hall! This can cut your chair bill IN HALF, and won't be noticed if your guests are distracted during cocktail hour.

b) If it is appropriate, consider paper napkins and plates, and plastic cutlery. Especially if your meal is potluck style, this won't be surprising or distasteful, and will save money the caterer or venue would otherwise charge for dish usage. It also eliminates the possibility of paying for damaged dishes, which is almost guaranteed to happen at least a couple of times at a wedding.  

c) Consider DIY wedding favors, such as cute baggies of Jordan almonds, prettily-packaged flower seeds with a reference to "growing love", tiny jars of homemade seasoned salt, infused olive oil, jam, or honey, servings of wedding cake, boxed truffles or bonbons, miniature s'mores kits, or homemade bath salts. Pinterest has about a million ideas!

 PC britishschoolalex.org

PC britishschoolalex.org

4. Ways to Save on Your Wedding Gown

a) Make your own wedding gown (if you know how to sew), or hire a friend or relative who knows how to sew. This gives you complete control over how you want it to look, but is a very time-consuming process. My mom did this, and saved plenty of money on the labor and alteration costs that she instead did herself. Fabric will be your largest cost--and it WILL cost something. But only a couple hundred dollars, as opposed to the thousand or so you'd pay otherwise.

b) Alter your wedding gown to fit you and your tastes. Whether it's your mother's gown or one you found at a thrift-shop, altering a gown allows you to keep the parts of it you love and jazz up the areas you're not so excited about. It's a money-saving, much less overwhelming process than creating a whole dress out of nothing but fabric yardage can be. 

c) Find a used wedding gown. Online stores such as www.preownedweddingdresses.com have dresses in all sizes, styles, and price-ranges that have been cherished by brides already, yet are still in tiptop condition. They are marked down considerably, and are a very lovely option that won't compromise your tastes at all. 

 PC portlandweddinglounge.com

PC portlandweddinglounge.com

5. Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

a) Replace a DJ with an iTunes playlist. You can make this yourself, hook it up to a speaker and have your wedding party members tweak it from time to time during the night. Have someone from the wedding party MC the evening instead of hiring a DJ to do this for you. 

b) Ask a friend who DJ's on the side to DJ as your wedding gift, or offer to pay him a fee. Be tactful about this, as you don't want to insult your friend or his side-business. If his business is too big, this might not be a good option. However, if he is a close friend and is invited to the wedding anyway, he may volunteer to DJ, or offer it as a wedding gift anyway. If you do pay an amature to do it, it is very likely that he won't charge commercial prices. 

 

No matter what your wedding budget is, at least a few of these fifteen suggestions can be applied to your wedding to free up money that can be put toward the most important details so that you get the day you've already imagined.

Have a money-saving tip of your own? Post a comment below!

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Battling the Budget Part 1: Bulky Wedding Expenses

 PC bettertogetherweddings.co.uk

PC bettertogetherweddings.co.uk

When planning a wedding, money is often seen as the enemy; there just never seems to be enough of it! In today's wedding industry, $20k is generally shrugged at as merely a "doable" budget, and $10k is reacted to with disappointment and head-shaking. Today's weddings are expensive, but it is my firm belief that they don't have to be. 

Almost no other celebrations are allotted $10k-20k in expenditures, and any celebrations that are are sure by nearly anyone's standards to be incredible successes. Why is it that weddings seem to cost so much for so little in exchange? In this series, I will pinpoint the most expensive aspects of weddings, explain how they can be substituted with affordable alternatives, and highlight some useful wedding hacks that can save you money and make your wedding more personal at the same time. 

So let's get to those bulky wedding expenses! Here's one thing I'd like to mention about the expenses of weddings. A bride's outgoing wedding expenses are her vendors' paychecks. They deserve to charge their fees because that's how they make their living. The wedding industry is an incredibly big, lucrative business, but it's almost never a business's intention to take advantage of their client by charging much more than they are worth. Cupcakes a delicious morsels that can sometimes be gone in three bites, but they cost what they do (between $2-10 apiece) because they took money to create as well as time to mix, bake, decorate, and sometimes transport. That little cupcake is a labor of love--labor that deserves to be paid fairly for. 

As a budgeting specialist, I must clarify that I by no means am encouraging that vendors be taken advantage of for their services. Instead, I am recommending that the budgeting bride and groom engage with vendors for the most important details of the wedding, and the compensate for other services that are less important when the budget says "no". I am an expert at finding creative alternatives, not at conning vendors into providing products and services for next to nothing. 

That being said, let's get down to it: The most expensive aspects of today's wedding.

 PC partiesbyme.com

PC partiesbyme.com

1. The Venue(s)

Whether it's a church or a 5 star hotel, venues have high prices, prices that directly correlate with the location, the event date, the time of day or night the event is being held, the length of the event, and how many services will be used. Typically, if your wedding's ceremony and reception are located at different venues, the cost will also increase.

 PC byrkristi.wordpress.com

PC byrkristi.wordpress.com

2. Catering

Food gets expensive when you take into account that its preparation and service presentation also have steep price-tags--not to mention expected service tips! Knowing the guest-count is vital to nailing down the exact catering bill, and knowing that it will prove very challenging to adequately feed each guest on less than $12/head is key as you budget for the meal. At $12/head for 100 guests, you're already at $1200!

 PC weddinglocation.com

PC weddinglocation.com

3. Guest Seating and Details

Chairs are often an extra charge if the venue does not provide them, or charges an extra fee for their use. Cost per chair ranges from $1.50-$10, and if your reception and ceremony are at different locations, sometimes you'll be buying two chairs per guest! Other details that come at a cost are things like table linens, glassware, and favors. 

 PC the weddingspecialists.net

PC the weddingspecialists.net

4. The Wedding Gown

Finding the dream wedding gown at a "reasonable" price is THE task, and while possible, takes a lot of hunting, and possibly self-alteration. Expect to shell out at least $1,000 for your gown if you're shopping at regular wedding gown stores. 

 PC metrospectevents.com

PC metrospectevents.com

5. Entertainment

Commercial DJ's, singers, bands, and other entertainment you may want to spice up your ceremony or reception charge hefty prices that should be planned for early on in your budget. Often, their charge includes their travel fees and equipment usage. Keep in mind that these sometimes "starving musicians" are trying to make a living with these prices, and their intention is not to empty your pockets.

Speaking of emptying pockets, weddings sure do it, don't they? Next week we will go over alternatives to these five expensive aspects of the wedding industry that will clue you in on how to save BIG time--without taking advantage of any vendors, and without compromising on the unique and beautiful ambiance of the wedding you're dreaming up. 

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Great Gatsby Party Decor Tutorial

Last weekend I had the opportunity to help plan and decorate for a Roaring 20's birthday party at a client's home that I took lots of deliciously Great Gatsby-esque pictures of! I didn't have a chance to take step-by-step pictures of each decor item, but directions for all are listed below and most are straightforward, simply, and affordable. I had a wonderful time crafting each item, and while I generally don't consider myself artistically-inclined, I felt like I had some Roaring 20's stylistic intuition this time around!

 Coffee Table

Coffee Table

This coffee table was dressed up with a gold table-runner, some star-shaped confetti, and sitting on a mirror is a candle-holder that I stuck some fluffy ostrich feathers through. Around the top I looped some plastic strings of pearls, and some more pearls and gold plastic "grass" underneath.

 Coffee Table Centerpiece

Coffee Table Centerpiece

Here's a close-up!

 Fireplace Room

Fireplace Room

Near the coffee table is a fireplace we decked out with some sheer white curtains and some wine bottles wrapped in gold wrapping paper.

 Fireplace

Fireplace

I did some line-contrasting with the pearls against the shapes in the fireplace cover.

 Fireplace Cover

Fireplace Cover

Just LOOK at it!

 Wine Bottle Candle Holder

Wine Bottle Candle Holder

The empty wine-bottles have been spiffed up with some gold and white ribbon, strings of pearls, and topped off with a white taper candle. If you stick the taper into the open bottle with a bit of force, they should stay upright. 

 Feather Candlestick Holder

Feather Candlestick Holder

With other candlestick holders, a simple golden bow with an ostrich feather stuck in at an angle is era-appropriate while also ridiculously easy and affordable. If you hunt online, such as on eBay, for these feathers, you can find 100+ for $10 or so.

 Feather Centerpiece

Feather Centerpiece

Speaking of feathers, I used about 30 stuck in at angles in a Styrofoam cone to make a beautiful feather centerpiece that is absolutely picture-worthy! My client had a peacock feather on hand that we stuck in at the top to add some extra color.

 TV Stand

TV Stand

We stuck these babies on each side of this TV, and some extra pearls, a gold napkin, and a $1 store feather boa was all this so conveniently antique TV stand needed. 

 Cup Holder Stand

Cup Holder Stand

Here's some simple confetti and a string of pearls we plopped here to add a sprinkle of Great Gatsby glamour. A little goes a long way with this stuff!

 Palm Tree

Palm Tree

Here's another example of where a little goes a long way--3 pearl necklaces managed to make this palm tree a part of the party atmosphere.

 Porch Candelabra 

Porch Candelabra 

On the porch entrance of my client's house I looped some pearls around the handles of this candelabra.

 Kitchen

Kitchen

The kitchen chandeliers got similar pearl-attention, alongside some white balloons fastened to the ceiling with fishing string to create a floating effect. Some $1 store plastic gold swirls were also tacked from the ceiling for some extra bling.

 Chandelier

Chandelier

Both white and silver pearls were used, all at different lengths, to create interest and a casually-luxurious feel.

 Pearls and Balloons

Pearls and Balloons

I love working with strings of pearls because they don't require anything to fasten them with as long as you are looping them. If you twist them together, they'll snap together without a hitch.

 Photo-booth

Photo-booth

We also created a photo-booth using "Happy Birthday" wrapping paper, black paper under the gold fringe, and two sheer white curtains tacked up and tied with a gold tassel we had on hand.

 Stairway

Stairway

Speaking of gold fringe, I really went to town with this stairway that we taped yards and yards of the stuff too along with pearls and white streamers. At the top of the stairway, we covered a handrail with a lace tablecloth and a $1 feather boa.

 Entrance Way

Entrance Way

It dressed up the party area and complimented the entrance very nicely. On this entrance-way table are more of those feathered candlestick holders, a feather boa, and some more--you guessed it!--pearls.

 Piano Room

Piano Room

A nearby, surprisingly era-appropriate upright piano got similar attention. Notice more wine-bottle tapers on the corners!

 Chandelier

Chandelier

Last--my absolute favorite item!--here is the gold fringe chandelier we fashioned with tape, fishing string, a hoola hoop, and a two-tiered hanging plant-holder we suspended from a chandelier chain already attached to the ceiling. Imagine that!

I had a blast working on the decor for this party, and hope my pictures and simple instructions can inspire you guys to dream up and execute your own 1920's decor.  A little party never killed nobody, right?

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