Friday, January 29, 2010

Need a Useful Wedding Budget?

Need a Useful Wedding Budget?

Hey, let's face it. Everyone's got a budget. That's ok. Really.

It's our job to make sure you stay within your budget. The worst thing is to go into your marriage with a debt from one day. After helping over 100 brides, we've figured out what elements of the wedding budget are "keepers" and which are excessive. Here, you'll find the budget line items necessary for your big day to be everything you envisioned.

Please let us know what elements you're keeping and which you're adding to this list.

Can't wait to hear YOUR wedding story!

In service,

Wedding Budget -

Friday, January 22, 2010

Common Misconceptions About Wedding Planners

Do you need a Wedding Planner?

Common Misconceptions about Hiring a Wedding Planner:

We’ve all heard that is Time = Money! Let’s face it, we all live fast paced lives but still need to make every dollar count. It only seems reasonable when planning one of your most important events in life, you should be ever so efficient. I am here to address a couple of misconceptions about what it means to hire a wedding planner. I asked several close friends of mine who have been recently engaged over the holidays if they would hire a wedding planner and what their thoughts on the idea of it were. I am addressing any misconceptions they may have had below.

Misconception #1:
Wedding Planners are Expensive

With the economy the way it is, making money is important, but using time wisely is important too. The time that needs to be put into planning a wedding is easily 30+ hours (and that is only allocating 2 hours per vendor plus some time for follow ups). There are some websites that say it can be 400 to 500+ hours of planning. Not counting the tons of time you are online searching for ideas and inspiration, along with coordinating your theme and colors with every aspect. The first thought to consider is if you are willing to make every decision without any professional opinions working in your best interest. A wedding planner is available for an endless amount of services. The average starting price of a wedding planner is affordable for any budget. The time you will save, and the pricing that can be negotiated with an experienced planner is well worth the small investment fee.

The purpose of hiring a wedding planner is to bring ease to your life. We all know that weddings are wonderful events to attend, but it takes effort for them to go smoothly. Think about all of the moving parts that make a wedding memorable: the food is delicious, the dances are danced flawlessly, the toasts were tear-jerking, and the cake is gorgeous. These things don’t just happen. A wedding planner makes sure all of the pieces of the puzzle are ready to be viewed and will be remembered in the best light. So what if the caterer is late? As a bride, do you want to be fielding phone calls from the caterer trying to get directions to your reception venue? That’s what a wedding planner is for. You should be able to feel like a guest, and have every chance to take in each special moment the day will bring.

Misconception #2:
Part of being engaged is planning, so if I hire a Wedding Planner, she will take all of the planning out of my hands and I won’t get to make any decisions.

If you want the wedding planner to do that for you, then sure, it is possible. A wedding planner would rather have as much input as possible from a bride. It is all about being a team, for one end goal: getting you down the aisle and for you to experience the best night of your life. For the bride who wants to do everything on her own, but does not want any hassle on the day of or be forced to ask family members to help out, then a planner can be hired for the day of.

Misconception #3:
My venue has a “wedding coordinator” on staff. That’s all I need.

I have heard from many brides-to-be that they are seeking venues that have on-site coordinators. It seems like a great thing, especially if included in the “total package,” but be careful. Is the on-sire coordinator really working for your best interest? Some may actually be, but their job is making sure the lights are turned on in their venue, that vendors load in the right order, and that nothing gets broken at their property. Their job isn’t really to line up speakers for toasts, make sure the DJ is playing the right song, the cake is placed centered on a table, or the guests are outside for the departure of the bride and groom. This is where a wedding planner can be beneficial. A wedding planner is your advocate.

Misconception #4:
I’m having a small wedding so I don’t need a Wedding Planner.

No matter how large your guest list or how elaborate in detail it is, every wedding has the same number of moving parts. Every bride wants their wedding to appear flawless. If you are having a small wedding because of a small budget, for instance under $5,000, then you really do not need to hire a wedding planner. A small guest list still needs the careful attention to all aspects. The allure of having a small wedding is to have an intimate feel and be able to interact with each and every guest. This is the same for destination weddings. It’s all about soaking in every moment, and not having to worry about or be interrupted by a phone call for directions from a vendor.

Bottom Line: By hiring a professional, you get what you pay for. You should not have to feel stress for your big day. When looking for the right fit, you want someone who has the experience and the right connections, along with someone who you could see as a best friend. You have to be comfortable with someone, and know that the planner has your best interest in mind.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tipping... Who and How Much??

**Back by popular demand** 

One of the most common questions I get from Brides and her parents is
"Who do we tip and how much is appropriate?"
The general rule of thumb is to tip the vendors who stay for the entire wedding.
Example: Clergy, Musicians, Caterer, Wedding Planner, Photographer, Videographer.

So what about the florist, baker, etc.? They've put as much time as those who stay for the entire wedding day, right? My answer: Absolutely. If you are thrilled with their work, give a tip to your wedding planner and tell her it's for the baker/florist/etc. Your wedding planner will mail that vendor their gift.

First, let's look at the entire budget. The average bride spends about $29,000 on her wedding. So if your thought is, "I've already spent $13,000 on catering. Why should I tip on top of that?" let's look at your catering contract. If there is a 20% service charge in addition to labor fees and sales tax, that's normal. That 20% goes toward the staff's gratuity at the end of the night. The caterer is responsible for handing out that money to the staff.

HOWEVER (and I'm not sure I can write that in bigger, more note-worthy font so I'll say it again) HOWEVER, if you have amazing service, an additional tip is always appreciated. Typically you will have a dedicated server - someone whose only job that night is to make sure your glass never goes empty, that you are alternating between an alcoholic beverage and water, and to make sure you have everything you need. (For example, if your favorite fruit is grapes and your VIP Server sifts through the fruit tray and brings you only grapes, that counts as amazing service.) A good tip for a VIP Server is $50-$100. If the entire service staff rocked, I'd recommend $50 per server.

Keep in mind, most of these vendors have been working with you for upwards of 4-6 months or longer and are charging a flat fee. There is no "service charge" in your photographer's contract. So if he/she does a fabulous job, makes you feel comfortable all night, and falls in easily with your guests, he/she is *working* continuously through the day.

Here's an easy breakdown:
Clergy: $25 - $100

Baker: not necessary, but always appreciated in any amount

Caterer: $50 - $100 for VIP Server or $50 per server

Florist: not necessary, but always appreciated in any amount

Photographer: $50 - $100

Videographer: $50 - $100 (I recommend sending this after you get your DVD!)

Wedding Planner: $50 -$100
Band: $50-$100 per member
DJ: $50-$100

Here are a list of vendors who will get their gratuity at the end of the night regardless of if you slip them some cash.
Venue: (it's not necessary to tip the hotel)
Limo Driver: (his/her gratuity is built in to the fee and will not be split among others as in the case of servers and caterers)
Site Contact: (the person at your venue who shows up to make sure the lights are on / the Church Lady)

Remember, the BEST gratuity you can give a vendor is a letter thanking them for their amazing service. That vendor can post your letter and picture on their website and get more business because of your props. If you've been married for a couple of months, take a walk down memory lane and think about your vendors. If one sticks out in your mind as *phenomenal*, tell them about it. It's not too late. They'll appreciate it.

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