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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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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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Troubleshoot That Event!

PC Huffington Post

PC Huffington Post

Story-time! A client was telling me this week about how things at her wedding years ago got a little too heated for her taste. Her father-in-law was taking photos, and was one of those really traditional character who wear dress shirts with gathered sleeve cuffs and a whole lot of buttons (a lot like the outfits poor Ron Weasley was haunted with by his overzealous mother at Christmas time)... As he took pictures, he got a little too close to a nearby candle, and in one puff, his sleeve was...toast. Just as he began to scream that he was on fire, the bride, without thinking, put the fire out by snuffing the burning cuff with her bare hands, only to sustain some very painful burns. For the rest of the night, her hands took turns being dunked into ice water. 

Not necessarily the most enjoyable wedding, but certainly a laughable story to tell the kids years later. As unusual as a fire fiasco at a wedding may be, general mishaps are not. In fact, I like to say that problems are an event's most-likely unwelcome guests, since they show up where they are least-expected, and definitely least needed. Catching one's ancient sleeves on fire might not be preventable with anything other than the wearer's own caution, but many other common mishaps are. So without further ado, here are the top fivw most-likely event mishaps, and how you can prevent them. 

#1: The cake falling

Prevention Tips

Have the bakery deliver the cake; they know how to transport it better than anybody.

- When signing your contract with your baker, make sure there's an agreement that if the cake falls upon delivery at the fault of the bakery, there is a satisfactory percentage of the price refunded.

- When the cake arrives, make sure the cake stays at room temperature or colder, according to the baker's recommendations. Some frostings can hold up better than others, but the frosting is the glue holding that cake together! Help it out!

- Don't let anyone touch the cake til it's time to cut it, and for goodness sake, be careful! Don't be the bride in the picture above.

- In anticipation of a cake disaster, have your planner scout out local bakeries ahead of time who's cupcakes can be purchased to replace the original within an hour of a mishap.

#2: Rain!

Prevention Tips

- If there's ANY significant chance of rain, get a tent, or get an indoor venue. It's not worth the risk of soaking wet guests and a ruined, possibly muddy dress.

- Find out what the venue's policy on rain is, and inquire about umbrellas. If they don't offer umbrellas, and if you don't have a tent, and won't consider one, PLEASE invest in renting umbrellas for your guests. They will be very grateful.

#3: Surprise Guests

Prevention Tips 

- Make sure you're clear about whether guests can bring their significant others as +1's.

- Delegate the job of following up with guests who have yet to RSVP to whoever will get the job done. Make every effort to contact silent invitees to ensure an accurate turnout at your wedding.

- Pay for a couple extra plates of food and have some extra seats at tables set, just in case. If nothing else, don't pack your tables too close, and have a few extra chairs available to fit into tables as necessary.

#4: A Tardy/No-Show Vendor 

Prevention Tips

- Find vendors--or hire a reliable planner who will find vendors for you--who are reliable and have good reviews.

- Have your planner create a schedule that allows buffer time. For example, if the catering needs to arrive to begin setting up by 4pm, tell them to arrive by 3:30pm instead. Better to give everyone extra time to set up than to have too little.

- So what happens if a vendor doesn't show up at all? If you've purchased wedding insurance, sometimes the cost of finding a last minute replacement is covered. Look into what your insurance offers coverage on.

- No matter what, have your planner create backup plans for every scenario. Catering doesn't show up? Your planner should have created Plan B, where a pre-decided restaurant can deliver emergency food, be it pizza or Chicken a la Carte. It can be done; it just takes a savvy planner. 

#5: Not Fitting into Your Dress

Prevention Tips

- First of all, DO NOT buy a dress in a size that does not fit you. It will cause you undue stress trying to fit into it as your wedding day draws nearer, and runs the risk of a new emergency dress being needed.

- If you want to lose weight for your wedding, buy/rent a dress in your current size, and as you get closer to your wedding day, if you've lost weight, get the dress altered to fit you. Dresses can be taken in, but there is very little that can be done to take a dress out to make it bigger. 

 

These are only some of the many things that can happen at a wedding. I imagine that almost anything you can think up has happened at some wedding in history. What are some wedding disasters that you've encountered, and how were they fixed? Were they preventable? Comment down below! 

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