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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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The Work-Life Balance

PC officevibe.com

PC officevibe.com

As a business owner fairly new to the position of "my own boss", I must say that it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything. And...when I say that, I don't necessarily mean on top of the actual wedding planning, because I love that part, and always get that done with plenty of time to spare. What I mean is that it's hard to balance life when I am not given perimeters that would otherwise separate the work from the down-time for me. You know, keeping the peas on my dinner plate from rolling over into my nicely rounded mashed potatoes. I'm talking about that work-life balance! 

For example: when you have school, a job, and a personal life, and all of those things have their own locations, the given requirement to arrive at each location at a different time generally keeps them all separate and organized. Each thing gets its own part of you and your time; each thing has its own box. This makes it easy to be productive in the work place, attentive at school, and relaxed at home.

So what happens when you quit your job and work from home, take online classes--from home--and spend a huge amount of time doing all of these things that require different parts of you in the place that has always been designed for resting?

Simple: each thing fights for supremacy. It begins to determine what you "mostly" are. Are you mostly a student, or mostly a working stiff, or mostly a stay-at-home-whatever? Do you know what I mean?

I am not a college student--in that I am not working toward a degree--but I do take classes from time-to-time so that I am always learning. I would say that I most struggle to separate working from, well, living. There's always something to be done: updating my business Instagram, updating my advertising methods, broadening my network, filming a YouTube video, pinning on Pinterest, consulting with clients, coming up with fun things to blog about, the list goes on. Right alongside that, I have other things to do, such as schedule my hair appointment, or a dental checkup, or a coffee date, or make a run to the grocery store, take my spunky little dog on a walk, clean the kitchen, make lunch, run a load of laundry...

Being in a place where both types of things are possible (home), the tasks eventually begin to bleed together.  I find myself making lunch and then making a business phone call, and then filming a YouTube video following by a consultation, and then scheduling a quick appointment with a friend while I'm in the area. Walking the dog and then blogging and grocery shopping and then working on an Excel Spreadsheet... 

It's a beautiful mess of multitasking and hustlin' along to make life work (pun intended). Totally possible, but the constant switch wears on you after a while. It makes me really respect business owners who have successfully created the distinction between work and private life. 

The work-life balance isn't just a struggle for business owners though. It's also true for people in the midst of planning a huge wedding or event. It's a crazy jungle out there when your work-life balance is further confused by planning getting pushed into your private life! So exciting, but also...disruptive.

I understand the hustle. I think to some degree, we all struggle--from time to time--to keep life balanced. What are some things that you do to separate work from your personal life? I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments below. 

Keep hustlin'! You got this!

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Wedding Planning: What Not to Leave To the Last Minute

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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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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?

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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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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.

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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?

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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. 

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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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Troubleshoot That Event!

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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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