Today is the rehearsal for a wedding happening tomorrow, which is super exciting, but also crazy busy for me. So today, instead of a regular blog post, I am instead going to show you the third and final YouTube video on altering a wedding gown that I used for a photo shoot earlier this year. If you haven't seen the previous videos, you can check them out here and here. Enjoy!
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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!
A lot of you probably know that this summer I underwent a project involving seriously altering a wedding gown. It was time-consuming. It was mentally challenging. It was emotionally grueling. Buuuuut it was fun! And I documented the whole thing. Up above is Part Two! You can find Part One here.
Enjoy it? Don't forget to like and subscribe!
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!
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Story time! I'm excited to announce that I am planning a styled event that's happening in August! The process for this has proven to be very complex, since a styled event--while not a real wedding--still requires a venue, a photographer, a cake provider, a florist, models, and of course a wedding gown. Early on, I found and purchased a used wedding gown that perfectly fit the model I'd contracted with. However, due to some conflicting events, the model fell through, and there I was, stuck with a gown that fit an incredibly unique hour-glass figure that I couldn't seem to match with anyone else.
After some initial frustration, I realized that if I chose to alter the gown myself, I would not only have a much easier time finding a model, but I would also have the opportunity to fashion the rather generic gown into exactly the style I dreamed of. And so after some ferocious sketches and overzealous designing, I made a plan and am currently living in a sewing-lab that once looked like my bedroom.
This project has caused me to spend a lot of time pondering the wedding gown alteration process. It's lengthy and time-consuming and there are about a million things going on at once that require careful consideration. It is my hope that the suggestions listed below can simplify the process for you, whether you're hiring someone to alter your wedding gown for you, or are (bravely!) altering it yourself.
1. Don't buy your dress too small.
There are many brides who feel that their set-in-stone wedding date is the perfect motivation to diet toward their weight-goal. This is often accompanied by brides buying their dress in the size they plan to fit into by their wedding date. While in a perfect world this might be a good idea, it tempts disaster, since things don't always happen the way we want them to. The last thing a bride needs to worry about a week before her wedding is the fact that she cannot will her body to fit into the beautiful gown she spent a pretty penny on. And when it comes to altering too-small gowns to fit, options are limited; seams can only be taken out so much, after all. Do yourself a favor: buy your dress as close to your size as possible. Go ahead and diet away! If you do end up losing weight, your dress can always be altered to fit a smaller size.
2. Don't buy a dress more than two sizes too big.
Not too small, not too big...sheesh, can't I give you any slack? Sorry ladies, but as a seamstress, I know firsthand that the larger a garment is, the harder it is to alter to a smaller size. This is not to say it is impossible. But it does mean that it will take longer, and therefore cost more money, since more parts of the gown must be seam-ripped, sized appropriately, and then resewn. Getting your gown in a size as close to your own as possible will ensure that you're not wasting extra money on alteration costs.
3. Make a plan.
If you're altering your dress yourself--bravo. You're in for quite the project, but it can be so fun if you plan ahead and prevent those hiccups! Draw out detailed designs of what your altered gown will look like, and make sure you have all the necessary items for the task. If you're changing the design in any way, know that you will need to make a pattern, or buy one that works for you.
Sewing Tip #1: Make patterns with paper bags, not just tissue paper. I do use tissue paper--typically when I'm cutting out very tedious pieces of fabric that need to be pinned to their pattern with impressive exactness--but tissue paper can also be a pill to draw on. Ideally, charcoal pencils are used because they write so effortlessly, however, I don't have any, so I always cut up a few Trader Joe's paper bags and draw out rough patterns using a ruler and sharpies. My great grandmother taught me this method, and it's never let me down.
Sewing Tip #2: Practice sewing complex parts of your dress pattern with cotton first. It is very cheap material that is easy to work with, and it will give you an idea of what the shape of your gown will turn out to be. This way, before any permanent alterations are made on your gown, you can be absolutely sure that the pattern you've created will give you the look you're going for.
Sewing Tip #3: Prevent your machine from snagging your gown's delicate fabric by pinning tissue paper to the exposed seams before sewing them. It's very easy to tear away the paper once it's all sewn together.
Sewing Tip #4: Hand-stitch the delicate parts of your dress. By all means don't hand-sew the whole thing. You'd be celebrating your anniversary by the time you finished it... But lace, appliques, ribbon, beading, buttons, etc., should be hand-sewn to ensure they are not damaged by your machine.
Sewing Tip #5: This feels obvious to list, but it's very important that you don't make any unnecessary trims on the gown while you're sewing until you're absolutely sure that it is perfect. Fabric that is cut cannot be uncut, and you may do serious damage to your gown by making premature alterations! I know it's exciting, but let's not toss caution to the wind just because we're getting married, alright?
Oh, and don't forget--
Sewing Tip #6: Get excited! You're going to have a great time.