Posts in the 'budget wedding ideas' Category
*This post is brought to you by our friends at Madison Reed*
You guys, I have a confession: I’m a bottle girl.
No no, not that kind (I hate waitressing as is. Add a nightclub to it and yeah … NOPE).
I’m talking the kind that you use when you color your hair. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a natural blonde, but here’s the thing: I want to be blonder. I want ALL THE BLONDE. But I’m frugal (duh), and it’s like pulling teeth for me to spend money on a trim (which happens like once a year). So, I want salon-quality, super easy and uber affordable. And I don’t want to have to mess with it too much. Easy request, right?
Actually: Yes, yes it is. Because: Madison Reed. This online subscription-delivery company takes alla dem hair-coloring worries (going to the store, trying to find the exact same shade previously purchased, figuring out if the instructions are actually speaking English, etc.) and gives ‘em the big ol’ middle finger.
Sure, Madison Reed‘s website offers pics of their various shades, but even more than that, they have consultants available to help.
But since I knew that I just wanted ALL THE BLONDE, I picked Roma. And then I was off!
The packaging is super pretty and it’s not just “color developer, tube with color, conditioner, gloves and crappy instructions that get ruined if they get wet at all.” Nope. There’s lotsa goodies, including:
- 2 pairs of gloves (one for coloring, one for the rinsing out process)
- a shower cap (so you can actually DO STUFF while the color develops, rather than walk around like a giraffe with a neck brace on)
- wipes to get the goop off your face
- cream to keep the goop from getting on your face
- a really rockin’ set of shampoo and conditioner (I love this stuff)
All this is in addition to the regular color and developer shizz. And the instructions? They’re printed on the packaging, so they’ll hold up even if there’s a color-splosion in the bathroom.
The process is pretty standard: Prep, mix, apply, saturate, wait, rinse, swoon.
Of the many things I really liked about this system was that there was a very obvious lack of strong chemical smell and the color lasts.
Since Madison Reed is a subscription-delivery service, you can set it to arrive at your doorstep however often you choose. And since you’re skipping a trip to the salon, it saves you beaucoup bucks.
If you’re thinking of giving your follicles a little color boost before your big day, try this shizz out. For serious.
In the short time I’ve been engaged, I feel like I’ve got a lot of the big stuff done. I’ve booked my venue (an awesome 1920′s theatre in downtown Greensboro), secured my photographer, found a DJ, my dress is hanging safely in my parent’s spare bedroom, and I’ve sent out my save-the-dates. My mom recommended I assemble a spreadsheet as to track my expenses. Now, to be honest with you, math and financial responsibility have never been my strong suits, so I was a little apprehensive.
She walked me through all the columns and rows, and everything looked good. I was well under budget and feeling pretty good about it. Then, today, I remembered the caterers (Apparently its in good taste to feed people when they’re coming 1,000 miles for your wedding). We’re having Carolina barbecue for our meal, which is damn tasty (and cheap). Since I don’t have to give them the final head count until 3 days before the wedding, I calculated as if every single one of our guests RSVP’d yes.
YIKES. If everyone shows up, I will officially have approximately $250 left for the following:
- Flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, etc)
- Any decorations
- Bridesmaid gifts
- Hair/make-up for myself
Now, I know every single person we invite will likely not show up, but it’s still enough to skyrocket my anxiety through the roof, and start freaking out a little about my budget. Before today, I was fairly confident that I wasn’t going to have too many problems staying in the lines.
It looks like it’s time to get creative, and I would love to enlist my fellow broke-ass brides in any tips, tricks, or things I can do to get my life together. Please help me!
Choosing a venue can be one of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning. And in San Diego, the options are endless. You can get married at the beach, on the bay, at the beach, at a winery, at the beach, on a ranch, at the beach, in the city, and also the beach. Did I mention THE BEACH? If you are sensing snark, your snark-sense is working. We are the furthest from beach-loving people as we could possibly be. Why? SAND. Also, sand fleas. I will not elaborate, lest you spend the rest of the day inadvertently scratching phantom itches.
After our engagement (and maybe a little before because at the end of the day, I am woman) we started browsing venue options. Our search continued until I said, “How about a brewery?” and Justin replied, “This is why I am marrying you.” I searched the most popular brewery site in San Diego – I won’t give it a name but I will tell you that it rhymes with “phone.” The food and beverage minimum for this site was literally more than I ever dreamed one would spend on a wedding which led to yet another WE CANNOT AFFORD ANYTHING emotional breakdown. Actually more like, “I would NEVER spend that much on a wedding WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE” breakdown.
Which led us to look up Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens. We were both very familiar with this site because it is down the street from where we live. One point for convenience! Beyond the uniqueness of the grounds, a few things really set KSBG apart from other venue options – most notably that it is all inclusive. There are no separate charges for parking, cake cutting, chairs, table setups, linens, you name it. Many of the other venues I glanced at made me appalled at the nitpicky, nickel-and-dime charges they come up with. And the bonus? They have their own bakery and DJ contracted already. Which means less work/decision making for us to do. Total score.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. The grounds and gardens are GORGEOUS. Hello, you are going to give me all of your beer and do half of the work for me AND be completely gorgeous? SOLD. Really, it was a no-brainer. And in the end we are proud to say that we looked at ONE venue. One singular venue that met every single one of our wedding desires. KSBG, our one true wedding venue love. Am I bragging? Yes, yes I am. Because this was a huge decision that we made incredibly simple and are more than confident in our choice. And I also just spent a good two hours looking at return address stamps so I needed to remind myself when the important decisions happened…
The one person who is not happy with our decision is my father. My Bud Light Lime loving father, whom we are forcing to drink “that fancy shit beer,” because obviously they only offer Karl Strauss products (which are a DELIGHT). We are trying to acclimate him; so far, we have not succeeded. Stay tuned for updates on our quest to teach my father the ways of fancy beer!
Real Bride Kate‘s Aussie fiance Daniel Gullotta used to work in fine jewelry and was kind enough to provide our readers with insider’s tips on how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to wedding jewelry. This guide is the next best thing to having him with you when you go shopping! And when it’s all said and done, don’t forget to get your ring insured. Often when you have an expensive piece of jewelry, you’ll need it listed separately on your insurance policy with proof of its purchase and value. For instance, your policy could cover $30,000 worth of losses, but generally only a few thousand of that can be jewelry, so if you have an expensive piece or family heirlooms, it would require a separate rider or an overall bump in your coverage. Check with your insurance provider to be certain! Although insurance money is a cold comfort in the face of the devastating emotional blow of loss/theft, it’s definitely better than starting again from scratch.
So gentlemen, you want to get engaged, huh? Well, first off congratulations! This is an exciting time in your lives and it’s something that should be celebrated. You guys are taking a big step together and getting engaged should be one of the more enjoyable things to do. Sadly, with the pressures of a century of jewellery companies and the influence of Nicholas Sparks novels and countless romantic comedies, getting engaged seems to have become a nightmare because of one little piece of jewellery: the engagement ring. In my previous life, while I was taking a break from my academic endeavours, for two years I was a jewellery salesperson for one of Australia’s leading jewellers. I worked for one of the major stores that many people used as a reference to begin their searches, so needless to say, I have suggested, designed, and sold a lot of engagement rings to a lot of different people. Some of these people came in well-prepared and very educated on what they believed was expected of them by their partners and others came in clueless and in desperate need of guidance. So if you are reading this, allow me to take you through some tricks of the trade, some tips on getting a good deal, and some advice about finding the right engagement ring for you and your partner.
As a side note, I would like to stress my use of inclusive language because I have sold plenty of engagement rings to LGBTI couples who want to formally commit to their relationship. Buying engagement rings is a practice not just for heterosexual couples. In fact, I have sold some utterly gorgeous rings to same-sex couples. And, as a man who is typing this article wearing an engagement ring given to him by his lovely partner, Kate, engagement rings are not just for women as well. Engagement and engagement rings are not just for women who are having their fairy tale dreams come true, they can be for anyone and everyone who desires to formally and symbolically pronounce their engagement.
Let Your Desires Be Known
This is the first piece of advice I always give to people whenever I hear young people expressing that they want to get their partner an engagement ring. Does your partner know your desire to get engaged? Do they have a clue that you are planning? Do they know how much you intend to spend on the ring? Are you sure they are going to say “yes” if you propose? The reason why I inquire about this is because it answers a lot of questions straight away, and it also helps with piece of mind. If you are going to get engaged, this means you are about to begin sharing your finances and financial commitments with another person – maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but eventually you are going to have to start budgeting for your wedding and other expenses. So, while you may be able to afford an $8000 ring, how much do you imagine spending on the wedding and how soon will you need that money for the wedding? Now, you do not have to let your partner know how much you are going to spend on the ring, but in my experience, partners have a way of finding this out. I think it is good to ask, “Honey, if I was going to buy you an engagement ring, how much do you think is a reasonable amount to spend?” Once I assisted a young man who thought he was going to have to spend close to $5000 on an engagement ring for his partner, but seeing how stressed and pale it made him, I advised him to discuss that with his partner. He came back a few days later very relieved and he informed me that his partner said, “If you spend that much on a ring, you are an idiot.” So, it pays (or rather saves) to communicate. Perhaps I am not being romantic about this, and I am ruining the grand and lovely surprise of it all, but honestly, if your engagement comes as a complete and utter shock, I think you two may need to start communicating a little better.
The other reason why I stress this is because of the chance of rejection and how that will affect your purchase. The worst scenario I have seen was a man who bought his partner an engagement ring which he was going to give to her on their anniversary trip to Bali, being almost two months away. He returned months later with the receipt, the box, the bag, and the ring and asked if he could get his money back because his partner was unhappy with their relationship. She had wanted to talk about it for a long time and with their tickets and hotel booked for Bali, she had wanted to wait until they got home. The engagement ring was a shock and too much and she let her true feelings be known. As sad as that was, my store had polices to follow, and the ring was long out of its return period and had even left the country. We could not give him his money back, and this created one of the biggest stresses in my career as a jewellery salesman. After weeks of back-and-forth dialogue from our legal team and him, the best we could offer him was a gift card for our store which he used to buy a luxury watch, and even then, he was still not happy at all. Yet, I have heard worse, far worse, and people have walked away with even less than that. So please, let your intentions be known and start talking to your partner about the future.
Their Style, Not What’s in Style
The other reason why I say it’s good to talk to one another about this is so you can get their style and desires right. Yellow gold or white gold? Diamonds or rubies or emeralds? How many stones? What sort of cut? What sort of design? The amount of choices can be overwhelming and this is where an important choice has to be made, even before you get into the jewellery store. To look at rings together or go in solo? Both choices are right, and it really depends the couple. Going in solo will take determination and research, but it shows great initiative and allows you the element of surprise. However, bringing your partner in with you can save you a lot of stress and time; plus sometimes their expectations from magazines and movies are not the same once they try it in the store. From my own experience, I am very glad I talked to Kate about rings and took her into various jewellery stores to get a better sense of what her style was. If I had it my way, I would have gone with a single solitaire round set in white gold with six claw prongs. Simple, classic, and timeless I thought, but to Kate, it was overused, dull, and simply not her. While Kate wanted a round stone and white gold (I got that much right), she wanted a few more stones to help the ring stand out a little and be special, and thus I started look at rings I had never originally intended to look at. From Kate’s own perspective, she had always imagined getting a ruby for an engagement ring stone, but when she saw how they had very little shine and no sparkle, her mind was quickly changed.
The Six Cs: Cut, Colour, Clarity, Carat-Weight, Compromise and Cost
When it comes to the actual science and art of selecting a stone, the most important thing to know is the four Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat-weight. Most jewelry stores, if not all, will have flyers or stands with this information and will demonstrate where the stone you are looking at fits into these categories. The fifth and sixth Cs that no one talks about are compromise and cost. Undoubtedly, these are what will define what you exit the store with. However, one of the most common questions I get is which c is the most important? What is the one that really matters? It’s a good question, but there is no universal answer – it really depends on the person, and you must remember that all of these factors work together in producing what your stone is going to be. So there is no perfect way to determine what is more important: that is up to you and your wallet.
The cut of the stone, before we get into the science of it, will determine how the stone looks, and getting this right is the most important thing because it’s what your partner will wear. If they wanted a square cut stone (a princess cut) and you present them with a round stone (a brilliant cut), that is a big mistake. However, the cut is important because it speaks to the proportions of the stone and that in turn affects the dispersion of light through the stone. Simply put, the cut determines how much sparkle and fire your stone can get on its best days in the best lights. This ranges from excellent to very good to good around the crown, girdle, and pavilion, each with its own grading. A stone with an excellent cut crown, girdle, and pavilion is the most desirable and is known as triple excellent cut or flawless cut. However, these stones are rare because in order to create a stone with a flawless cut, the stone itself must have very few flaws to work with. Thus, generally, most stones on the market are good to very good and some with excellent qualities such as just the crown or just the pavilion.
Next is colour. When it comes to diamonds, they are graded from D to Z: D for diamond being the best and colourless. The ranges differ from jeweller to jeweler, but in my experience D-F are generally considered colourless or rare-white stones, G-H are near colourless or white stones, and J-M are faintly yellow or off-white stones, and so on. However, let me stress something here: there is no exact scientific way to grade the colour of stones. Do not be fooled: all colours are graded by the eye and one person’s H grade is another’s J. The difference in colour can be subtle or striking and this depends the range you find yourself in. In my experience, due to cost, the range most people find themselves in is about the G-H range, as these are whiter stones but still relatively affordable.
The one the most people do not like knowing too much about is clarity, which is a polite way of putting how many flaws and inclusions as stone has. The reason why this matters is because these inclusions interfere with how much light passes through the stone. The fewer inclusions to mess with the dispersion of light, the more shine and sparkle you are going to get. Some cannot be seen by the naked eye, and generally these are very small inclusions, others are slight and take a trained eye to see, but some contain small spots that can be seen, and in my experience, they are known to drive people crazy. And this is where I want to stress something: do not get caught up in the clarity game. Unless you are stupidly wealthy, if you want a natural stone, whether it’s a diamond or a ruby or whatever, it is going to have flaws. Accept that fact and move on. Seriously, take a deep breath and move on. My advice to you is to go for something with small inclusions that you cannot see with the naked eye. It’s good to know where they are and how big they are, so ask the salesperson to show you with a magnifying glass. Once you look through the glass, remove it and see if you can still notice the inclusion. If you can and it’s striking, the stone is probably not good. However, if you can’t, you know the flaw is there, but you know it’s not noticeable.
Last comes carat-weight, which is all about the size of the stone. Stones are measured in carats, one carat being one hundred points. The bigger the stone, the bigger the price tag. Carat is probably the most difficult part of being a salesperson in jewellery, because generally this is where people get the most unrealistic or have the least amount of information. Being a fan of the single solitaire, I imagined getting Kate a one carat stone, being a nice even and holistic number, yet, when I discovered how much it was going to cost me (even with staff discount), I knew getting a one carat diamond was not going to happen. Carat weight is what can hurt the most, because, next to the cut of your stone, it’s what people and your partner notice (and sadly judge) first. Did they get a stone or a speck?
After saying all this, here is where compromise and cost come into play. Ask yourself honestly, what really matters to you the most, and how much is it going to cost you to get it? Does size really matter to you that much? Can you live with a bigger stone but with less sparkle than you would like? Can you manage a very lovely stone with very few flaws but is it about the size of a grain of rice? Is there a perfect stone across the board with just one inclusion that you can see at certain angles? What can you compromise on, and how much it is going to cost? Honesty is the best medicine. If you can only afford a $2000 ring, stop looking at the rings that cost $10000. It simply isn’t going to happen, so walk away and save yourself the grief.
Tips and Tricks for Grabbing a Bargain
Having said all that, allow me to impart a few tips and tricks for getting a great deal on your engagement ring. These aren’t guaranteed to work, but they have helped people I have served time and time again, and they come recommended from a lot of finance books such as The Total Money Makeover and The Millionaire Next Door.
- Every day is a Sale Day: Jewellery stores always seem to have a sale going on, so don’t be surprised when you go in and see lots of “sale” signs and banners and discounts of 25% – 50%. By all means, go and see what is on sale, but do not stress if what you want is not on sale. If you want it, then and there, if you make them work for your money and business, trust me, it will go on sale for you. However, this will not work for certain companies that do not negotiate on price, but if you are shopping at one of those stores, you are probably more interested in the name on the box rather than the ring inside.
- Shop on a Sunday near the End of the Month: Sunday is viewed in either two ways, the start of a new business week (a great chance to get the week off to a good start) or the end of the business week (the last chance to boost a store’s numbers). Either way, Sundays are quiet days for businesses, and malls are not nearly as busy on Sundays. They have fewer staff members, and that is the time a lot of stores use to do extra amounts of cleaning. Also, if it’s near the end of the month, most of employees will have their budgets due, and if they haven’t made their targets, stress will be high and this will only be increased by how quiet a Sunday is. They will bend backwards to get your money, and by bend backwards, I mean bend prices.
- Cash is King: Cash is the easiest way to get a deal you normally wouldn’t get with a credit card or a financing plan. Cash shows you are serious, very serious. Cash in hand moves people to make deals and get business done. I can tell you a story when a very impressive woman wanted to buy her partner an engagement ring and she had decided that was the ring she wanted, she opened her purse and flashed a lot of bills and looked me directly in the eye and said, “Now let’s talk about that price.” Cash is the best weapon you have. It gets the deal done in one transaction, saves you on interest, gets you the best discount and even makes the salesperson a profit: everyone’s a winner.
- Fight Emotion with Emotion: “Sell emotion.” That is the mantra of the salesperson in jewellery. Because jewellery items are such personal items, salespeople are trained to persuade and influence people by selling emotion in their sales in order to maximise their profit. Do not let their flattery, stories, or emotions trick you. Of course they are going to tell you this ring is very popular and it’s amazing and it’s stunning and it’s perfect. Of course they are going to tell you that someone else has been looking at it and that there are very few left in the company and that your fiancé(e) would really love this ring. Fight emotion with emotion. Ask them, “What can YOU do on the price?” Say to them, “If I brought this ring today what would YOU make the price for me?” Point out, “I see YOU have a sale on this month, let’s discuss this ring.” Be bold and blunt, “I want this ring and YOU want to sell it to me, what are deal WE going to make?” Get them involved in this deal: they want your money and you want the ring, at least everyone’s honest about it.
- “Meet me in the middle.”: This phrase has seen more business settled than you can possibly imagine, both by me and by my clever customers. For example, one day I was selling a ring that was $3000 at full price. The lady who was interested in it told me she really only wanted to spent $1000, yet she loved that ring. After speaking with my manager, I offered her $2000, and she still insisted that was too much and it wasn’t what she had in mind and we went back and forth until she drew out $1500 in cash and said to me, “How about we meet in the middle?” It’s so simple, and it’s so effective. It’s the best way to try and keep both parties happy. See what discounts they can offer you and try your best to undercut them until they really start to hold up a fight, and then, flash your cash and offer to meet them in the middle.
My final piece of advice is that ultimately the engagement ring is what you make it. It is your money, but more importantly, it’s you and your partner’s choice in what you want to symbolise your commitment to one another. Do not feel pressured to follow the masses and get a diamond ring, far from it. Diamonds as ‘the engagement’ stone are a modern invention and engagement rings as common practice by the masses (not by the super powerful and wealthy) is a modern marketing phenomenon. I have seen every stone under the sun used an engagement ring, and the people who wear them rock them with complete and utter confidence that is inspiring. I have seen engagement rings made out of sterling silver crafted in traditional Celtic styles and even gothic skulls and dragons used as an engagement ring. Everyone is different. We all have different budgets, of course, but we all have different tastes and styles too. Do not let the norm inform you what you ‘should’ spend on your partner and what will make them happy.
That’s for you to decide.
I found my dress! If there is one part of planning a wedding that makes it feel real, I’d say that is up there. I had never even been dress shopping with anyone before (and I’ve been in quite a few weddings), so it was definitely a little overwhelming. Having seen far too many episodes of Say Yes the Dress, I planned my entourage very carefully. My mom, littlest sister Ali, and my friend and bridesmaid Cassie all accompanied me. I figured I had a more mature perspective, a teenage hipster’s perspective (Ali is 16), and someone who sees me on a day to day basis.
We had appointments at two different shops, a chain store and a small, local boutique. I will admit, I had a lot of preconceived notions about how I thought my experience would go. For the past year I have worked for a small business owner, and have come to appreciate the hard work and detection it takes. The small shop was also where my other sister got her wedding dress, so I know my mom really wanted me to find something there as well. I had no idea what I was looking for, and was more than willing to put my fate in the consultant’s hands.
Our first appointment was at the bridal chain store. We were the first appointment of the day, and my consultant, Heidi, was friendly and knowledgeable. She asked me a lot of questions about my fiancee, my venue, and what kind of look I was going for. I told her that I was getting married in a 1920′s theatre, so I was going for a vintage-y, Gatsby-esque look. She pulled three dresses to start, and from there was able to pull more styles that I liked. I tried short dresses, long dresses, sleeveless dresses, and dresses with sleeves. She showed me dresses that I would have never thought to try, and even though she was working another appointment at the same time, I would have never known it with how attentive she was. All the dresses she had me try were all under my $850 dress budget. At the end of the appointment, there was one dress that I was in love with. It was comfortable, beautiful, and very much “me”. It was also on sale for $399. Not wanting to make any spur of the moment decisions, we told the shop that we would be back after lunch.
We headed to the small boutique, very optimistic about what we would find. I don’t remember my consultant’s name (Megan? Molly?), but she was very friendly and made me feel comfortable right away. However, she was not very proactive in what she showed me. She basically walked me around the shop and showed me where the low price, mid-range, and high-price dresses and told me to pull what I wanted. To my dismay, none of the dresses I liked were under my budget, and they were all very similar looking. I only tried on four dresses, and narrowed it down pretty quickly to one that I could see myself in. It was beautiful, but out of my price range and a little poofier than I would have liked (as my mom said, I am not her “poofy” daughter). The consultant did her best to work with my budget, but even with a few discounts, the dress alone would be close to $1,000. Yikes.
We decided to hash it out over lunch, and after sending pictures to my fiancee’s family and my sister in Chicago, I made the executive decision to go with the dress from the chain store. When all was said and done, I ordered the dress, undergarments, veil, and headpiece-all for $750! My sister’s mother-in-law is a seamstress, so I’ll be able to get my alterations done for a reasonable price as well. I felt really good leaving with a dress I loved that fit well with my venue, I knew I would be comfortable wearing, and was under my budget. Such a good feeling!
If I could leave you with any advice, it would be to go with your gut and do what feels right to you, your personal style, and your budget. While I liked the dress from the boutique, I knew there were other parts of my wedding that I would rather spend my money on. Happy shopping!
C’mon baby, let’s get in the mood … under these fluorescents that make your skin look ruddy and don’t do the beaded detailing on your gorgeous gown any favors.
There are so many things that work toward making your wedding day just the way you’d like, and lighting often plays a huge role in this. However, lighting can also be budget-busting and leave you seeing dollar signs instead of a gorgeous glow. That’s where BAB homie DIY Uplighting steps in.
Rather than spend your skrilla on often-expensive lighting setup, DIY Uplighting will ship you lights a few days prior to your big day and you and your brigade can have a little setup party. For a $25 deposit and as little as $19 per light, you can swap out those harsh fluoros for sweet rose-colored LEDs.
And if rose ain’t yo thang, DIY Uplighting offers a multitude of colors and options to fit most wedding budgets. Whether you’re in the middle of NYC or holed up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, DIY Uplighting will ship directly to you so you can get busy setting the mood for your big night. Plus, with their prepaid return label and 7 day rental period, rentals are easy-peasy and stress-free, giving you a time buffer to choose the setup and color you like best, as well as time to return them after the big event!
And really, shouldn’t all weddings include perfectly-lit disco balls?
Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and let us know what’s up!
First of all, I want to give a shout out to the all the Newbie Brides and Grooms out there. Welcome to Wedding World. It’s very pretty, you’re going to love it!
My partner and I are deciding between having our wedding at an upstate location or in the city (New York). We could do a Central Park wedding at 11am with 100 people, then go to a restaurant and do a lunch/brunch with 40 people? and then meet the rest of the dinner folks at a rented venue with music and passed food. But then I thought what if all 100 people go to brunch/lunch after the ceremony and then we pay for only 40 of those people, and the other 60 pay for themselves. Is that a bad idea?
A Forty-Percent Solution
Yeah, no, you can’t really do that. First and foremost, you’re going to get some serious etiquette-related blowback on that, and I think you probably know that! For another thing, the logistics of making sure that only certain people are paying for their meal would be insane – just think about it.
I totally get that you want to have all 100 people at your wedding/reception, but you don’t think you can afford to do that. This doesn’t have to be so complicated. Invite 40 to the ceremony, invite all 100 to the appetizer reception that night. Sounds a lot cheaper that way, too.
I’m planning my wedding in Rhode Island, and to save on catering, I’m opting (or trying to opt) for a cocktail reception with lots of yummy hors d’oeuvres instead of a full sit-down meal. We’re hoping to stock the bar ourselves and hire a bartender, as well.Today I received a catering proposal from a company who wants to charge us $10,000 for a cocktail reception for 100 people. That’s $100 per person for 4 hours of snacks and drinks! When I told her I was hoping to spend around 1/3 of that, she said “We’re not the caterers for you” and told me to check out a local grocery store. Am I crazy to expect to not spend more than $3,000-3500 for this?
Catering Cash Chaos
No, you’re not crazy, that caterer just can’t work with your budget. That’s all. Keep looking, but next time, tell them what your budget is before you ask for a proposal. A little perspective: $100 per person for 100 people over 4 hours, breaks down to $25 per person, per hour – 2-3 pieces and a drink (or two)? That’s maybe a couple of bucks more than you would pay non-happy hour at a restaurant, if you think about it. Plus, and I haven’t seen the proposal, obviously, but it sounds like they’re not only charging for the food and drinks, you’re also paying for staff and labor, people to make it, maintain it, serve it, and then also clean up after it. So, they’re including that in your $25 per hour price, too?
“Go to a grocery store,” is kind of (!) a snotty response, but seriously, if you want to cap it at $3500, you’re going to have to think small and simple, because that’s only $35 per person. Definitely supply your own alcohol and limit the bar menu. Think less types of appetizers, or more appetizer stations, or less passed appetizers. Consider having the food dropped off and set up,with a couple of staff to monitor it and clean up. Before you despair, I’ve found restaurants and caterers here in L.A. who can swing that, so Google “(Your city) catering drop off menu,” and go from there.
And, FYI, this is why the answer to the question, “Is a cocktail reception cheaper than a sit-down or buffet dinner?” is, “Not necessarily.” Sorry about that.
How are you managing catering for your wedding? Or do you have questions about catering your wedding? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you want to learn a little more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
Oh, hey newly-engaged BABs! We know that starting to plan your wedding can be a bit overwhelming, and sometimes finding ways to create your big day that oozes your love for one another without murdering your bank account can be tough. But fear not! Our UK partner MyOffers is here to get those wedding wheels spinning with 8 fun, funky and outright fantastic ideas to make your big day truly yours.
Whether you go for a classic ‘50s look, run with the swinging ‘60s, or delve into ‘80s noir, vintage weddings are always en vogue. Delicate dresses, themed decoration and kitschy details turn these weddings into scenes from period dramas, or postcards from eras gone by. Planning a vintage wedding can also be easy on your bottom line by making your own decorations and rifling through thrift shops. There’s tons of ideas and inspiration out there, all you have to do is find what speaks to you and go for it!
Run Away Together:
Forget the stress of organizing every far-flung relative and friend; forget the potentially huge list of expenses; forget about worrying over the weather; forget about diplomatically creating seating plans; forget about getting married with anyone around. Find a country you love, and go there. Get married on a beach, under the stars, or in a church in a town you’ve never been to before. Have a quiet ceremony, tie the knot and when you’re ready, re-emerge into the real world, happy and married. Elopements can serve as a secret memory, an inside moment you and your beloved can share for the rest of your life.
Under the Sea or Up, Up and Away:
Dive under the seas if you’re a SCUBA pro, take a boat out, or simply go for a paddle: As long as you don’t mind getting your feet wet, a water-filled wedding ensures that you’ll have the most unforgettable day. If water isn’t for you, take to the skies! Hot air balloons, bungee jumping and sky-walking … the possibilities are endless when you decide to take your feet off the ground. Although you won’t be able to have many guests with you at the time, there’s plenty of opportunities for an aquatic or aviation themed party afterwards.
Plant members of a band around your guests, a la the opening scene of “Love Actually” (Eds. note: This scene makes me tear up EVERY TIME), have missing friends flown in from around the world – or simply trot up to the venue on your beloved horse. Having little surprises like a dog, an old university friend or a hidden singer can bring a whole new element to a wedding, especially if it’s kept a secret from everyone.
The Theme Scene:
If you’ve got a theme in mind, run with it. Get your guests to dress up, decorate your venue accordingly and go all out when it comes to you and your betrothed’s wedding day attire. From Alice in Wonderland, to rock’n’roll – push the boundaries and see how inventive people can get.
Get Your Hands Dirty:
If you’re low on cash, or don’t fancy blowing your savings on one day, make the most of what you’ve got. Find a friend with a gorgeous backyard, go DIY on your decorations and trawl charity shops and secondhand stores for your attire. Get close friends and family to pitch in with their own elbow grease, and your day will truly be created by love.
Think Outside the Location Box:
Don’t just stick to churches or courthouses: There’s nothing stopping you from branching out and holding your wedding in your favorite place. From museums to libraries, and bookshops to barns, put your own stamp on your day by holding it somewhere new and meaningful. Love flying? Check out an airplane hangar. Got a knack for history? Preserved forts and homes often host events and provide unique locales.
Get Festive at a Festival:
Welcome your friends and family to a WedFest, and say goodbye to formal seating plans, three-course meals and rigid dress codes. Find a large piece of land, with room for camping, stock up on alcohol and easy-to-eat finger foods, and rally together everyone you know who’s been in a band, owns a guitar or fancies themselves as a DJ. Let the wedding fun begin!
What happens when two besties say “I do” in a sunny South African wedding with lots of DIY touches? Magic! In October, Claudi and Luan took the big plunge with a $9,000 budget for an 80-person wedding farm-style wedding. This wedding inspiration duo took their crafting talents to the limits creating beautiful hanging decorations like hearts and flowers and personalized shoes for the groomsmen. Their hard work resulted in a personal yet super pretty ceremony with noteworthy little touches throughout the day.
Names: Claudi and Luan ten Cate
Occupations: Luan, in flight chef for Etihad Airways; Claudi, housewife
Wedding location: Olive Mystery Wedding Venue, Bapsfontein, Gauteng, South Africa
Wedding date: Oct. 25, 2012
Wedding budget: Approx $9,000
Approximate guest count: 80
How would you describe your wedding? Fun DIY farm-style wedding
What was your favorite part of your wedding? The photo shoot with our amazing photographers, Izelle and Gerhard.
What did you splurge on? The venue and food
What did you save on? EVERYTHING ELSE
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Yes, I would spend more time with the guests.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Incorporating what Luan wanted as he was living in Abu Dhabi during the whole planning process.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? To spend more time on myself and a little less time making everyone else happy.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
- The decor and flowers
- The cake/candy buffet table
- My dress
- Our photo shoot
Top 5 least favorite?
- Not having enough time with the guests
- The day going by so quickly
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
“You need to stay on top of things and manage it carefully!” This advice is the worst because micro managing everything will just annoy those around you and face it, not everyone is as excited about your wedding as you are. In fact weddings tend to bring out the worst in some people…
Relax and let go. Nobody has the script for the day, they won’t even notice if the flowers are fuchsia pink instead of baby pink. The ambiance and atmosphere is what creates the mood and feeling so be happy and enjoy it.
If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges?
Even being married for six months has its challenges. Like my husband not understanding the concept and importance of closing the toilet lid. Also, relocating to Abu Dhabi and having to start a life here from scratch is quite a challenge.
Any other bits of wisdom?
Don’t sweat the small stuff! The world will not end if the linens are navy instead of sapphire or if the white roses have a slight green tinge. Remember what the day is for. It is about saying “I do” and if the wrong flowers or linen will prevent you from saying “I do,” then you should reconsider getting married. My philosophy is, if you are not willing to get married in a moldy old court house without the whole white wedding then you should not be getting married. Then you are getting married for the wedding and not the marriage!
Also, try and do as much as you can by yourself. Your wedding is the day you can recreate all those amazing DIY projects you keep pinning on your wedding board on Pinterest! This keeps it personal and saves a lot of money. All it takes is some creativity.
Venue and Food: $5,000
Decor and Flowers: $300
My Dress and Accessories: $700
Bridesmaids dresses: $70 (for all the bridesmaids)
Groomsmen Outfit: $200 (including All Star Shoes)
Hair and Makeup: $450 (for all the girls and my mom)
DJ and Photobooth: $900
Invitations and Stationary: $50
Photographers: Iz Photography by Izelle Labuschagne
Wedding Dress and Bridal Accessories: Ivy Bridal House, Rachel van Loggerenberg
Venue: Olive Mystery Wedding Venue, Anja Bands, email@example.com
Décor and Flowers: DaisyDoo Décor and Styling, Marie Bührlen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wedding Cake and Candy Buffet: Daisy Doo Designer Cakes, Claudi ten Cate, email@example.com
Bride and Bridesmaids’ Makeup: Angelstar Make up, Jeanne- Marie Eloff
Lighting, Sound and DJ: TUKS FM, Nolz van der Merwe
Photobooth: Photobooth Inc., Rob Sulcas
These love birds highlighted their style with a budget-friendly party full of personality. Small projects at home made a big impact by adding a little extra something to some already beautiful settings — great lesson for any bride-to-be! Get creative, have fun and focus on everything you want out of your day.