Posts in the 'Silver Charm Events' Category

The Broke-Ass Bride’s Guide to Newbie Vendors


Credit: Persimmon Images (Who is not a newbie vendor, but the seamstress and hanger-maker were.)

Limited wedding budgets can feel sooo limited, sometimes. Often, even. So, if an opportunity to save money on a cool wedding thing shows up, no one can blame you for wanting to grab it. Or for wondering if it’s going to be worth it, especially if it’s coming from an inexperienced wedding vendor. Yesterday Julie talked about finding a newbie videographer, who’s starting his business this summer. The price was right, but will the quality of his work quality be as good? Without a portfolio, how do you know for certain?

Short Answer: You don’t.  You never know for certain. Every vendor you hire is a chance you’re taking that they are going to meet your expectations. Emphasis on “your.” Focus on what will make you feel the best about taking a chance on a newbie vendor? Or not? Again, emphasis on “you.” What do you need to make an educated guess? For Julie, she’s used to reading vendors’ reviews before making a  decision, but this videographer doesn’t have those, yet, at least not from paid clients. Should she ask him to make a test video for her? Can she tell him that she’ll decide once he gets a few reviews from his current clients? But, then again, the price is so low, should she just go for it?

Don’t Waste Too Much Time and Energy On a Potential Hire.

Your time or theirs. Asking someone to work for free — well, you wouldn’t do it if someone asked you. And for something like videography, that involves hours of shooting, whether it’s with you or without you. Followed by  hours/weeks of editing and waiting for the end result.  All for a “maybe.” Find another way. Truthfully,  newbie vendors should already have a portfolio that they’ve done on their own, some example of what they can do, even if it was for unpaid work. They shot/created something that made you feel like they could do this for a living. They should show it. That might be slightly judgy of me, but I’ll live with that. Five million years ago when I was a newbie, I’d been an event planner since college, I’d coordinated a friend’s wedding, I’d planned my own wedding six months before and I had plenty of pictures to prove it all. So there’s that.

You’re Allowed to be Uncomfortable With This.

And you should pay attention if you are uncomfortable, because it’s not going to go away, even in the face of a sharp discount! But if the sharp discount overrules any other considerations, that’s okay, too, just acknowledge it’s the reason,  and you’re ready to face the consequences. Get comfortable with their inexperience, or do everyone a favor and walk away. The first vendor you meet is not the last choice you have. Neither is the next one.

Ask the Right Questions.

In Julie’s situation, the videographer had reviews from friends, so she should ask to see samples of what he did for them. Plus, she has a few months before her own wedding, she could also wait to see the work for and reviews from his upcoming clients. If you want to wait and see, too, it’s okay to ask if they can still give you their current price, just don’t ask them to hold your date. You’re  trying to plan your wedding, but be respectful that they are trying to run a business — don’t Bride Block them over a “maybe.”

So, do you have any newbie vendors? What made you decide to go with them? Are you still a little worried? Let me know in the comments below.

And, if you would like to find out more about me and my corner of Wedding World, go to

See you at the end of the aisle,







Don’t Panic: Pre and Post Contract Budget Fixes

Credit: Picotte Photography

So, somewhere along the numbers counting line, you realized you and your budget are screwed. Now what?

This week, as promised, here are five pre-contract and post-contract tweaks and cuts that you can make now to save some money.

Step 1: Find Out What You Can Do and When You Can Do It

Go over the contracts, signed and unsigned. What is non-refundable? What is refundable? When are final counts, final choices and final payments due?  Are there minimum catering costs, minimum hours, minimum services that you’ll be locked into? These are part of every contract or agreement you’re going to sign, so if you can’t find it or it doesn’t say, call and ask.

Step 2: Cutting Your Guest List – The Hard, Painful Truth

The biggest slice of every wedding budget is the cost of your food, alcohol, and your venue. The “rule” is that it shouldn’t take up more than 50% of your budget. So, if you have a $10,000 budget, food, alcohol and your venue should not be more than $5,000.  Remember that when you look at the food and beverage minimum for the venue. If it’s more than half your budget, that is your largest money issue. Focus on that first half of your budget before you tackle the rest.

Here’s the potentially painful part: The biggest factor determining your catering and bar costs  is your number of guests. Less guests, less money. Twenty guests at $50.00 per person, not counting tax and service is $1,000. You heard me: 20 people is two tables (10 guests per table), two centerpieces and 20 chairs — 40 for both ceremony and reception. Twenty slices of cake. Sixty drinks. And you have to pay for it all, one way or another. The easiest way to save money is to cut your guest list, if you still can.

Step 3: Reduce and Downgrade To The Minimums

Can you have a choice of two entrees instead of three? Serve beer and wine instead of mixed drinks? Signature cocktail instead of open bar? No string lights, no chair covers, no chair ties, no chiavari chairs. A slightly smaller cake that you can cut into slightly smaller pieces, since there’s always cake left over? Peonies are gorgeous, but they’re also expensive, no matter what season it is. Talk to your florist and look at less expensive alternatives. Photography for five hours costs less than eight hours. If you’ve already upgraded, downgrade back down to the minimum you can contract for, and you can figure out how to make it work. Email me if you need to.

Step 4: Recycle and Combine

If your ceremony and your reception are in two locations, will you save money if you have them in the same place? Can your ceremony flowers be used at your reception? One set of chairs instead of two?

Step 5: Ask. Just Ask.

This should actually be Step #2, but people aren’t keen on asking for help. It shows vulnerability, it means you’re settling (the “S” word), you’re publicly proclaiming that you don’t have “enough” money and it shows that you don’t know what you’re doing. I get it. But how are you supposed to know what you’re doing if you’ve never done it before. And the only thing you’re settling for is less debt and more money in your bank account. And you aren’t going to hurt or offend any of us — that’s why the payment and cancellation terms are in our contracts in the first place. So, ask anyway, and find out how we can help.  And if the answer is “No,” then it’s on to the next decision. But you won’t know until you ask. And, the last option you looked at is not the only one you have. You may get tired of looking and asking, but that’s not the same thing as not having choices.

So, what’s killing your budget right now? What is that you aren’t willing to sacrifice that you need a work around for? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit

See you at the end of the aisle,


Use it? Or Lose It?

Credit: Laurie Scavo

I was in San Diego visiting my best friend this past weekend, and we were watching a TV show I’d never heard of before, “Love it or List It.” Every show features a couple  that is pretty much done with their house for any variety of reasons —  the family has outgrown it and it’s too small now, or it’s now a rundown fixer-upper that they can’t afford to fix up. The couple get to work with an interior designer to renovate their home for free, and  with a realtor who shows them other houses that give them exactly what they’re looking for. At the end of each show they decide if they love their “new” old house,  or if they want to put it up for sale and buy one another one. Love it or list it? Use it or lose it?

I thought about that show on Monday, when I got an email from a bride who had picked a wedding venue she really liked. But, she realized that once she added it to everything else she was going to need (rentals photography, DJ, dress, flowers, etc.) she was going to be $5,000 over her budget. Should she look for another, cheaper venue and if so, where? And how? Use it or lose it? Good question. And it’s one that I run into more than you think.

It’s Personal

Sure, it’s easy for me to say, “You can’t afford it, so you can’t do it.” Right? But I understand that you spent a lot of time finding this place, or this vendor. And I also know how it feels when you find THE ONE. That isn’t easy to let go, especially when it looks like any alternative is going to feel like you’re getting less than what you want, or even worse, that you are SETTLING. If you don’t want to even go there, I get it. But if your budget is on the line, and the budget isn’t flexible, then you have to  make the decision.

Use it?

There are a million ways to save money on a wedding, even one that’s heading over the cliff  with $5,000.  You can stick with what you have, and figure out how to cut costs and still feel that you’re getting most of what you want. It will take time — which you have — and it will take patience, which no one really wants to have! But you can make choices that will get you closer to your budget. You just have to be willing to do it.

Lose it?

Start from scratch. It won’t be as hard as you think. You’ve got a good idea of how much you can’t spend, and where, so keep looking until you find what works. You have access to everything you need, and more than you think. And you have time, way more than you think. Don’t go into it assuming that whatever you find is going to be worse than what you already have. You don’t know that, yet. And there’s only one way to find out.

Use it or Lose It?  Compare Before You Decide.

Don’t pull the plug on your first choice until after you’ve looked at ways to make it less expensive, and are pretty certain that pulling the plug is the best choice. Don’t pull the plug on your first choice until you’ve searched for cheaper venues and vendors, and have a good idea of what the alternatives look like. If you have to make a decision, make sure it’s an informed one.

Next week, we’ll talk more about how and where to look for budget tweaks and cuts, before and even after you’ve signed a contract (‘Cause I know that’s what you’re thinking about).

In the meantime, where are you suffering budget wise, and what you’ve decided to do? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll try to help.

And, if you would like to find out a little bit more about me and my part of Wedding World, come visit at

See you at the end of the aisle,


When Your Wedding Isn’t The Only Wedding

IMG_1212 12

Photo: Chasing Glimpses Photography

We got an email from a bride who has been invited to two other weddings this year, on the same day, on the other side of the country. Two. Yes, it’s definitely that time of year, not to mention that time of your life. Your wedding is not the only show in town, it’s not even the only one you have tickets to. She’d love to go to both weddings, is that possible? She doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, which is an easy thing to do when everyone is on social media. Or should she just choose one? And, if so,  how does she do that?

What “Both” Looks Like

So, you’re going to one ceremony and one reception, that’s the least complicated way to do it. From the time you sit down the end of the ceremony is going to be an hour. The cocktail hour, is well, an hour. And then there’s dinner, immediately afterward. And somewhere in there you’ve got to get from Wedding A to Wedding B.

So, be realistic. If the weddings are 30 minutes away from each other then you can go to both. Ceremony, hang out for 15 minutes afterward to say hello to everyone, grab an appetizer, and bail.   If your answer is, “I can probably make it in for dinner if there’s no traffic and everything starts on time,” that’s not going to work, because there will be, and it won’t. If the weddings are starting at different times, then you  should just choose one to go to.

But if it looks like it’s going to work out, your first step is to let both couples know what’s going on. That’s a meal one person doesn’t need to pay for, and one meal another does, at the pre-requite $79,95 per person, plus tax and service, you know? Most couples don’t  expect everyone to be able to make it. They would love you to come, of course, but they need to know if you are coming, at all.   You’d want the same consideration.  Keep it simple, “Can’t make it to both the ceremony and reception, but I’d love to see you, so I’d like to RSVP for x” Send them an email and send the card back . Do it both ways, not just one, and to both couples, not just one.

Choosing One

Seriously, Which one do you really want to go to?   I know, that sounds harsh. “Really want to go” meaning the one where you’re most looking forward to the most. The one that you think will be more fun. Or maybe there’s one that you have to go to, like your cousin’s, or you know, your Dad’s! If it’s not that easy, pick the one whose invite you got first. That’s a good excuse/reason, too. But you’re going to have to choose.

Choose You

You’re not going to hurt as many feelings as you think you are, so don’t twist yourself into knots trying to make everyone happy. Do what you know is best for you, especially since your wedding is coming up to. If this is going to stress you out, either psychologically or, more likely, financially, then go with the option that won’t, even if that means opting out entirely. That’s okay, too.

So, how many other weddings have you been invited to this year? How did you decide which ones to go to? Let me know in the comments below.

And, if you would like to find out more about me and my little part of Wedding World, visit

See you at the end of the aisle,



How to Swing Your Destination Wedding


Photo: Persimmon Images

Almost half of my wedding calendar this year involves couples who are coming from far and farther to get married in Los Angeles. I looked up, and all of a sudden destination weddings are one of my things. Here’s three tips to help you feel confident about making it one of yours, too:

Find your Savvy Local

You know, the person that lives in your wedding city, works there and can be your resource on how to get things done. Try and find a professional, too. Your best friend from college might know how long it takes to get to the beach from your hotel, but they probably won’t know if you need a permit to get married there, or if you have to pay for parking. That sort of thing. If you don’t have a wedding planner, make your venue manager, your hotel manager, your officiant, or your caterer your new best friend. Mostly you’re looking for leads, and potential roadblocks to avoid. If you’re worried about bugging them beyond what you’re paying them, spread the questions around. And, follow up every question with one last question, “Is there anything else I need to know?”

Keep it Simple

Just … Keep it simple. The less moving parts that are involved, the less there is to drive you crazy. One location, two if a meal is involved. No more than 45 minutes to get from point A to Point B at any time. If something requires more than three steps to get done, give it two days instead of one, or turn it into two steps instead of three. And if you are going to remember one thing, remember this: Nothing is going to take less time to do. If anything, since you’re dealing with so much unfamiliarity, in an unfamiliar place, it’s going to take more.

Practice Patience

… Because the last sentence above is where the frustration is gonna come in. You’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. You’ve got to think about time zones, and fitting all of this into your already busy life. You have to ask the right questions, or ask enough wrong ones until you figure out what the right ones are. You’re not there, and you feel like you’re flying blind. There are a lot of details, and a not-so short learning curve, so be patient with yourself, with what you can do from where you are. Be patient with the process. Be patient with everyone you have to deal with during the process. It doesn’t all have to be done quickly, it just has to get done. Look forward to it being done, and having a wonderful day, okay?

In the meantime, while I’m here, do you have any questions about your destination wedding? Let me know in the comments below, and we’ll figure it out. And, if you’d like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, come find me at

See you at the end of the aisle,


Mind Your Own Wedding and Put Down the Gavel


Credit: Persimmon Images 

Hmmm …We’re beginning to notice something lately. And as the most adultish-adult around here (at least age-wise), I’ve been picked to say something about it:
The little, sniping, judgy being made about other people’s wedding choices.
Knock it off. It’s unbecoming. And honestly, it’s not making you feel any better about yourself or your wedding, right? Tearing someone else down doesn’t build you up.

Look, We All Do It.

Someone walks by you wearing, whatthehellisthat?? What, did they go out looking like that? Aren’t they afraid of what other people are going to think? I would NEVER wear anything like that. Hell, television dramas are built for that type of judgement. But it would never occur to you (I hope) to walk up to that person and tell them to go home and change. Or go into the multiple ways that they look a hot mess. Or explain to them that you would never go out in public like that. But it’s okay on the Internet? “Anonymous” doesn’t exist on the Internet. One real person just told another real person that their centerpiece looks tacky. Just because you’re hiding behind a user name doesn’t mean you — yourself — aren’t still being rude. And everyone has just seen you — yourself — be rude and not nice. So, there’s that.

Run Your Own Race

You have made decisions and choices that you are proud of. Be proud of them. Celebrate them, which you can do without attacking someone else’s decisions and choices. There is no “best” way to do anything, there’s just what’s best for you. And especially if you’re talking about weddings, which is all about style, and how you — yourself — feel about how something looks (we’re talking about the wedding, not the marriage part), then you can’t judge other people on that. It’s as pointless as questioning someone’s music taste. You would never listen to Taylor Swift. Okay, then keep doing that and live your life, and leave the Tayhards alone.

A wedding is not a pie-baking contest. Again, there are no better or best decisions — no universal consensus is available on table settings, or whatever. There are just the choices you’ve made and are going to make, that are going to build the wedding day that you want and have dreamed of. And that in no way depends on the choices some other bride has made. It doesn’t diminish your choice, just as your choices don’t diminish hers. They have nothing to do with one another.

Do Not Judge Lest You Be Judged

Which is probably already happening on some level. Your parents aren’t totally on board with some piece of your wedding. The caterer or the venue is — or is going to — have an issue with something you want to bring in or do. You worry about what your guests will think. The feeling of being judged, pretty much sucks, doesn’t it? Don’t perpetuate that on another person.

Plus, you don’t — and will never — know what their circumstances are. Not just budgetary concerns, but maybe there are other reasons as well. Maybe they won’t have the time to hand calligrapher their place cards. Or maybe their fiance has vetoed an arch at the end of the aisle, or they’ve found a solution they both like better. Maybe they just like daisies, which is not illegal. At least, not yet. It’s a universal truth, but it’s still the truth — until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you don’t know why they’re walking or what they’re walking to in the first place. Just as they don’t know anything about you, or your life, or why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t make assumptions, especially the assumption that they don’t know what they’re doing, and need to be told so. You would hate it if that spotlight was turned on you, and you had to explain all of your choices. It’s not anyone’s business, so let’s keep it that way.

The Insecurity Thing

That’s another thing I’ve personally noticed, when I find myself being judgy. It feels like I’m judging this other person, but what I’m actually doing is judging myself for the choices (professional, personal, what have you) that I’ve made or haven’t made. Because we’re not always sure, are we? And that’s just being human. But, if you’re finding yourself questioning someone else, think about what you could be questioning of yourself. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, remember you have both the time and resources to change it. What’s wrong and what needs to get fixed, in your opinion? Figure out what you need in order to feel better about your wedding? All of us are always around to help you get there. But leave everyone else’s weddings alone.

So, when was the last time you made a judgement call about someone else’s wedding, or felt the cold eye of judgement upon yours? Let us know how you handled that in the comments below.

See you at the end of the aisle,


Keep Your Wedding Balances in Balance

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Photo: Lauren Lindley Photography

You know it — your wedding money is being thrown around fast and furious. Hundreds, thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands of dollars. Not all at once, mostly. But the word “eventually” looms closer every day.
So, what I’m trying to say is this post isn’t so much about budgeting as it is about stress relief. And a lot that means getting ahead of the stress in the first place.

Do This One Thing

Put all your payment due dates, with the current estimated cost in whatever calendar you look at the most — the one in your phone, the one on your wall, the one in your wedding notebook. Do it right now. Set or write an alert for a week or a couple of days ahead of time, whatever works for your schedule or will work with your bank account. Not so far ahead that it’s easy to forget (like a month before) but close enough so that you have enough time to pull together the funds, if you need to. You know how you are, so proceed accordingly. Bonus points for noting the method of payment, too.

Do This Other Thing

Any payment you can automate, do it. I take automated payments from my couples, and odds are your venue, you photographer and most of your other vendors do, too. Combining it with your alerts will keep you on track, or give you time to change tracks (or credit cards) if you need to. Also, Venmo is a great way to pay vendors quickly and easily right from your phone. It’s the app of life, y’all.

Have This One Place

So, you’ve taken care of the wedding payment trees, don’t ignore the forest that’s your wedding budget! Have one place — an Excel sheet, a Google Doc spreadsheet, heck, a Word document — where you list the total cost of all this stuff! One place where it’s all accounted for, all added up and where you always know what you’re spending and what you’ve spent. When you can see the big picture, you’re setting yourself up to make the best choices, and take many, many deep breaths of relief.

So, what’s your calendar of choice? Do you have any questions about automatic payments or wedding budgets? Let me know in the comments below. And if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to

See you at the end of the aisle,


Your Grown-Up Wedding


Credit:  Lucky Photographer

The first step to having a grown-up wedding is acknowledging that you’re a grown-up. And that your guests and family are grown-ups. Marriage is the second most grown-up thing you can do. So, you might as well start now with the day that’s going to start it all off. In the immortal words of Monica Geller, “It sucks, you’re going to love it.”

You’re saying Yes … to Everything.

Your wedding is not something that’s happening to you. From the cost, to the menu, to the dress, to the guest list, to the decorations. With a shrug, with a frown, with an enthusiastic clapping of hands. You opted in. It’s a big day, and a big undertaking and it’s easy to do it now and resent the hell out of it later. So, remember:

You can say No … to Anything.

Easy to write, not so easy to do. I get yelled at a lot for this one. “I can’t say no to my parents [insert this thing they really want here], it’s impossible.” Nothing is impossible, but yes, some things are hard. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, you’re afraid you’re going to sound like a rude jerk. We covered this a little last week. Most people are not great at conflict, whether they are used to it or not. Be clear that you don’t want it, thank them for the suggestion, if there is an alternative that you like, hype it. Don’t be defensive, smile, change the subject. Works, I swear.

Your Guests are Adults. They Are Also Human Beings in Your Spotlight.

It’s mostly you on stage, but it’s not just you. Everyone wants to get it right, so everyone can enjoy the day. Back your guests up where you can — directional signs, someone standing by to help them find their place card. They do need to know where the restrooms are, they don’t have to be assigned a particular seat at a particular table. No one is going to freak out if you’re serving Coors Light and $5 wine instead of their choice of martini cocktails. Don’t think babysitting, just think “flow.” You cannot please everyone, but you can make it easier for them to enjoy themselves. What would you want if you were a guest? What would need? Make sure that’s covered.

Get Clear About Your Wedding Responsibilities

What goes into your wedding day must come out. When? Someone has to do it, and if it’s not you, then who? What are you allowed to do, and what are you not? Hint: If it has to be stuck on anything, sprinkled, lit or hung, ask first. How long do you have your vendors? When do they need to get paid? What do they need from you to do their job? Don’t assume they will stay later than asked and not get paid for that, or come earlier, or bring more equipment. Don’t make the day harder for them, because it’s going to end up being harder for you. That’s not going to be a good day.

Fly Casual

You have a destination — your big fun, love- and joy-infused wedding day — and you are on your way. You have to give it some time, but you’re going to get there. You don’t have to worry about whether you’re doing it, because you’re doing it. There are plenty of maps and resources to help you. Course corrections can be made — they are not the end of the world or evidence that you are a crappy pilot. And when you get there, ENJOY THE DAY. That’s an order. It’s what adults do. And in the meantime, go easy on yourself, I can guarantee you’re doing a lot better than you think you are.

So, how are you taking a deep breath and putting on the big girl pants when it comes to your wedding? What do you think of my advice? Let me know in the comments below! And if you would like to learn a little more about me and and my part of Wedding World, come visit me at

See you at the end of the aisle,


Your Family vs. Your Guest List


Credit: Life’s Highlights

Last week, I got an email from a bride who didn’t have a problem yet, but was anticipating a huge one. She and her fiance want a small wedding, surrounded by their good friends and close family. She was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen once her mother got ahold of the list. What if her Mom insisted on inviting the 120 family members that she would probably want to add to that list? There’s a ton of you worried about the same thing. I know there’s a few (unnamed) couples on my roster who are, for sure.

So, how to combat that? For starters, stop thinking about it as a battle. It’s a wedding, its not a war. And if you keep looking at everything as a potential conflict, that’s exactly what you’ll find. I’m not so zen that I’m saying the guest list won’t be an issue. I…have parents, too. And what I (eventually) figured out was that it’s easier if you manage their expectations of your expectations. You’re not going to be able to avoid the conversation with them, but you can certainly put it into context.

Get specific with your numbers

Sit down with your fiance and make a list of everyone the two of you want to invite. It won’t take long, but go over it a couple more times to make sure you didn’t miss anyone, and that you included their significant others. Now, given that list, how many more people are you willing to have at your wedding? So, say you come up with a list of 50 people, or 25 couples. Are you willing to have another 50 people at your wedding, to bring it to 100? Another 25 people to bring it to 75? Think about it as people, and think about it as tables. 50 people is five tables, 100 people is 10. What feels right to you?


Be straightforward, and tell the truth: “We want to keep the guest list to 100 people, and we have 50 people that we want to invite. Can you help us and give us a list of the 50 people you want to invite by [make up a date in the next couple of weeks]?” This is what we want, this is what we have so far, this is what we’re asking from you and here’s the date we need it by. We really appreciate your help! DO NOT under any circumstances, apologize. You’re not being mean, you’re not being rude, DO NOT get defensive. Just state what you want, which is a wedding with this number of people. Ask for their help. And then change the subject as quick as you can. Check in a couple of times before your deadline. Be prepared to have the conversation again. Express gratitude for their help as often as you can.

Bonus points: Get specific with the costs

For extra credit, if you’ve already booked a venue and/or caterer, figure out out how much it is going to cost per person and for the entire group, and give that to her, too. So, say, your venue is $2500. if catering is $75 per person, plus tax and service (30% here) = $97.50 per person, or $14,750 for 100 people. See? You’re trying to be reasonable by sticking to a reasonable budget, whether they’re paying for it or you are.

They’ll be thinking about those numbers while they’re going over their own list. And, again, Do NOT apologize! No, “I’m really sorry about this.” For one thing, that’s a lie. For another, you’re not doing anything wrong. Ask her for help. Thank her for her help. Take a deep breath, and smile.

So, really, how many of you are facing a massive guest list from your folks that you don’t want? Got any questions about my advice? Let me know in the comments below!

See you at the end of the aisle,