Posts in the 'Silver Charm Events' Category

Ask Liz: No Gifts and No Ideas on Guest Seating

Yes, “Ask Liz” is back for the rest of the summer. If you have a burning wedding question, send it to info@brokeassbride.com. The team knows where to find me.

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Photo: Lucky Photographer

Dear Liz:

We had a small ceremony a few weeks ago, and we’re sending out our wedding announcements now. We don’t want anyone to send us gifts, how do we word that on the announcement?

Signed, 

No Swag, Please

Dear Swag,

Okay, so wedding announcements are a little different from wedding invitations. Traditionally, you’re not supposed to mention gifts on your invites at all — it’s rude to tell your guests that you expect them to get you something. This is why you put your gift registration on a separate card, or on another page of your wedding website. Never shove the gimme-grabbing in people’s faces. If you don’t want gifts, you can write something cute like, “No gifts, your presence is present enough” on a card or website, which, to be honest, causes my teeth to ache a little bit. I’m a bigger fan of not putting registration info in either, at all.  If someone asks where you’re registered, you tell them that you don’t want gifts, just guests (wince). Odds are, a few people won’t read or notice the omission, and will end up giving you cards with cash or checks in them. And the only response to that is “Thank you.”

But, since you’re sending wedding announcements, instead? Don’t mention gifts at all, unless someone asks, in which case you tell them, “No, we don’t want/need gifts, but thank you!” Always end with a thank you.

Dear Liz, 

Our wedding is in two weeks and we’re really struggling with how to seat people. The tables fit 10 people and we have 125 guests. Are there any “rules” for who should sit where? 

Signed, 

Table Tied

Dear Tied,

Ooh, most of the time I stay away from seating arrangements, because you know your guests,  and their various relationships with each other, and I … don’t. No one has an easy time doing it, though, if it’s any consolation. Start with who absolutely cannot be at the same table with each other — divorced couples, divorced parents, known mortal enemies, etc. Let’s call them the problem children. Put them at separate tables. Move on to your family and wedding party. Do you want your wedding party all at one table ,or is it okay if they are scattered around? Remember, couples and other family units should sit together. So, by now you have five or six tables of people who should and can spend an evening together, so just fill it in. Go over it at least three times (sorry), if you’re not sure, ask whoever whatever questions you need to in order to make it work , try not to overcompensate for the problem children. You can’t make everyone happy.  Once you’ve got the table seating down, work on where each table should go in relation to all the others. It’s not uncomplicated, but it’s definitely doable.

How’s your guest seating going? Are there more problem children than you thought? Let me know if you any questions or tips of your own in the comments below.

And if you would  like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, come over to www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

New Backyard Wedding Fails and How to Avoid Them

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Photo: Beautiful Day Photography

I’ve coordinated three backyard weddings so far this season, with two more to go until Labor Day. Backyard weddings are conveniently located, they’re pretty, and you certainly can’t beat the venue fee. But along with the usual issues they can have, I’m noticing a brand new crop of  mistakes that couples are making that are creating even more … challenges on their wedding day:

Not enough setup time.

Your guests will start arriving 30 minutes before your stated ceremony time, I swear. I don’t  know why this is, but it always is. Again, again, again, this is why fake ceremony invite times don’t work. You tell them 4:30 so they’ll be there by 5:00 — guests will start showing up at 4:00pm, eating into your prep time. Either way, make sure they have some place to sit when they get there. Make sure they are not surrounded by setup chaos. Make sure you’ve finished any pre-wedding photos and are out of view. I’ve had to tweak a few vendor load-in times to avoid these problems. Liz rule #5: Nothing takes less time than you think it will. NOTHING.

 Not enough lighting.

It’s all well and good when your guests are coming in during the daytime, when they can see clearly and all around. In a few hours it’s going to get darker, and people are going to be drunker. And half of them are wearing high heels. Walk the perimeter of your backyard (doing so with your rental company would be better) to figure out what you need — is the entrance to your wedding also the exit? Around when are they leaving? Where are the bars and how late are they going to be open? What is the route to the restrooms? At what point will it be too dark for your guests to see what they’re eating or your catering company to see where they are serving and what they are bussing? You need ground lighting and lighting from above. String lights are good, but if you’re illuminating a large area choose lamps for them that are 50 watts or more.

Way too many plates and silverware.

I blame myself for this one, because I’ve been screaming “It’s better to have and not need than need and not have!” at you for years. But this is gotten a little out of control. 100 guests are going to use more than 100 plates, true. That number goes up if you have a buffet, true again. But it’s that’s like 15%-20%, NOT 100% more. All of your guests are not going to hit the buffet twice, all of your guests are not going to request more food from their server. Look at your menu and think about what your plates and silverware are going to be used for. For the most part, your guests won’t expect to reuse their salad plate or fork for dinner, or their dinner plate and fork for cake. So, yes, that’s three plates and three forks per person, plus another one or two per couple for breakages or second servings. Ask your caterer for count recommendations and then take those recommendations to your rental company and confirm them. If you’re still worried,  add either 10 or 20 more pieces each, whichever makes you more comfortable.

Anything you don’t know, ask your vendors — that’s what they’re there for. Anything you think you know, double check with them, anyway.

Not enough chairs.

One of the big memes in budget wedding world is getting one set of chairs for the ceremony, and then moving those over to the reception tables during the cocktail hour. Good on paper, logistically iffy, especially when it comes to the limited space in most backyards. Lots of times, you have to take those chairs through the cocktail area, and your guests. If your caterers are serving apps, pouring drinks and preparing for dinner, that turnover is going to be tough, unless you hire extra staff you wouldn’t need otherwise. You can ask your guests to move the chairs, but … then you’re asking your guests to work during your wedding. Be honest about what’s possible, what it’s going to involve, price out another set of chairs and make the decision from there.

No exit strategy.

Your wedding is over, and guests are either gone or on their way out the back gate. You? Have a big mess in your backyard. One wedding generates hoards of trash. Where is it going, how big is it and who is taking it there? What about the unopened alcohol, water and sodas? There will be some, possibly a lot. You can bring them inside, yes, but where are you putting them? When are your rentals being picked up, and who’s going to be there for that? Do you have to break them down or can you leave them as is? Be proactive, plan it out, and don’t leave an even bigger mess to clean up the next day. It’s the world’s worst hangover.

Do you have any questions about your backyard wedding? Let me know in the comments below, because that’s what I’m here for!

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

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Welcome to Wedding World. It’s Crazy, You’re Going to Love It

Affiliate Disclaimer NewLet's Party Confetti Poppers || Welcome to Wedding World. You're Going to Love It.

Via Etsy seller ThePartylab

So, a couple of Fridays ago, Wedding World opened up to a brand new batch of #TheEngaged. Congratulations, and Welcome Aboard. As BAB’s resident wedding planner, I wanted to offer you a few quick start tips about wedding planning. Sticker shock isn’t the only thing that’s going to surprise you in the next few months.

1. It’s Your Wedding, You Can Do What You Want.

Every couple asks me if they can do such and such, and is that okay? Of course it’s okay. The question is never, “What can I do?” it’s “How can I do this?”  And you have a million resources for that, including this website. And in response to the noise you might get about spending sooo much money on one day? Instead of being ashamed, be grateful that you have it or that it was given to you. And, please:  Never apologize for throwing a party.

2. Extrapolate from the Real World.

Next time you you eat out, pay attention. Tables, chairs, plates, glassware. What are they each used for, and how many did you use that night? The restaurant has more in the back just in case you break or drop something. And they are not serving your dessert on your dinner plate. Get realistic about how much things are going to cost. Check it out in your city, but a comparable wedding dinner at the Olive Garden here in L.A. — appetizer, salad, dinner, dessert and a drink will cost you about $50 per person, plus tax and gratuity/service (25% ~30%). That’s $5,000+ for 100 guests. At Olive Garden. Don’t count on your catering costing less than that. Go to the florist section in your local store and see how much the arrangements cost, then multiply by 10 tables. Always remember that you are buying nice things in bulk. You get to decide for how many people, and you get to decide how “nice” you want it to be. And just about everyone is going to charge you tax, a delivery fee and a service fee.

3. Your Family. Sigh.

I swear, for the most part, that they mean well. They want you to have a wonderful wedding day, but they might be stuck on what their version of a wonderful wedding day is! Remember, you’ve been dealing with them for decades, pick the best response that does not make you look like a petulant child. My suggestion is to say “No,” affirm what you do want and change the subject ASAP. That works more than it doesn’t.

4. You Need To Like Your Vendors.

Why? Because they are going to be in your face all day during your wedding. And, you are going to have to deal with them many times before that. If you don’t like them or you don’t like what they are giving you, that is never going to change. The first vendor you meet with isn’t the only choice you have. Keep looking until you’re happy and comfortable.

5. It’s the Checklist, Not the Timeline.

Any wedding timeline you come across will break down the many, many tasks you need to accomplish on your way down the aisle on a monthly, or God help you, weekly basis. Month one: Find a venue and find a dress. Month two: Hire a photographer, etc. And, if you haven’t managed to find a photographer after 8 weeks, you could start to feel stressed out because on how “behind” you are. Don’t set yourself up like that. Don’t focus on when you’re “supposed” to do it, focus on what needs to get done. You’re not running out of time, you’re not running out of choices. Make your way down the checkboxes until they’re all crossed off. You’re good.

6. Use what you have to get what you need.

And you have a lot. You’re here and we love giving wedding advice. There is the Internet at large, and you know how that works. Once you find a venue, they will have a list of preferred vendors that you can start contacting. At every point, you have a lot of options, and a lot of ways to find more options. And, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.

7. Watch out for the Pretty and The Fun.

Wedding World can get a little crazy, but there is so much cool stuff to look at, and cool stuff that you wouldn’t normally do. Cake tastings come to mind. Dinner tastings. Choosing centerpieces. Choosing what you’re going to wear. Picking flowers. Picking the music you want to walk down the aisle and listen to. Deciding exactly how this extraordinary day is going to look and feel. You will end up with a lot of private jokes by the time you get to the end of the aisle, and you’ll have laughed — and, yes, sometimes out of frustration — more often than you’d think, I promise.

8. Remember what’s at the end of the aisle.

Full stop: You’re married! And the wedding? Your wedding is a celebration of your lifelong commitment to the love of your life, surrounded by these people that you both love, all in one room. That doesn’t happen too often. As I said, it is an extraordinary day. Enjoy the ride and look forward to it. It’s waiting for you.

So, what are you working on wedding-wise, right now? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see if I can help.

And if you’d like to find out more about me and my little corner of Wedding World, come visit me at www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

 

 

 

Liz

Three Things I Know About Grooms

Jon Black Photography

This is what I know about Grooms, having had one of my own and hung out with, like 200 of them.

1. There is one thing. One thing that your Groom wants at his wedding. Might be two things — Zane wanted steak and to have his suit made — but there is definitely one. Yours might want to wear a bow tie, or to not wear a tuxedo, either, or have his favorite scotch/tequila/vodka at the bar. It could be about the guest count. He might not want to do a first look. He might not have said anything — yet — so, ask. And then make sure it happens.

Look, you have a whole vision of what your wedding day should look like, and it might not include the groomsmen wearing Vans on their way down the aisle. But it’s going to make him happy, and you like it when he’s happy. Whatever it is, it’s a small thing, and honestly, a good story. And it’s his wedding, too.

2. They like it when you give them something to do. The old joke is that the Groom only has two jobs — keep his mouth quiet and show up. But most of the Grooms I’ve known like getting involved, and want to help. So,instead of micromanaging your wedding, which is a good way to drive yourself nuts, delegate. The hotel block has to be locked down, he can do that. Book the limo. Make sure his boys have their tux rentals ordered. Yes, the bar. Put him in charge of it. And if it gets messed up along the way? He’s grown and he’s not stupid, which is why you’re marrying him in the first place.  Take a deep breath. He can fix it, and he can fix it himself. Acknowledge that he can, and thank him in advance for doing so.

3. He really wants you to have a great wedding day. This seems like an obvious point, but sometimes when you’re trying to do A, and he might not realize what a big deal A is to you. And that might come across to you that he doesn’t care. He does, trust me. And he’s looking forward to it, too, especially that part where he gets to marry you. Aww. It’s true! Look, there’s a lot of pressure when you’re planning a wedding, and you’re feeling that now, probably. But this day is about the two of you and it’s for the two of you, so pull him in when you can. And from time to time, just look look at him and say, “I cannot wait to marry you.” It’s always best if you lead with the truth, too.

What does your Groom want on his wedding day? Have you given him a task to do, yet? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit me at www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Pick it Up? Or Have it Delivered?

photo by Cakes and Kisses
Yeah … don’t even think about it.  Photo by Cakes and Kisses

As you get closer to the end of the aisle, one question starts to overwhelm all the others: “How the heck are we going to get all this stuff over there?? The favors, your escort cards, your wedding dress. Maybe you scored and you can bring in your own alcohol. Maybe you wanted to score, so you’re creating your own centerpieces — which means flowers and vases. Or all the different DIY projects you put your heart and attention to over the past few months. They’re big, or numerous, or unwieldy, or need to be packed correctly in order to survive the journey from Point A to Point B. You may be tempted by the siren call of the saved dollar, but sometimes you need to just save your peace of mind, instead. Here’s a few rules:

What Can Not Be Damaged Must Be Delivered

“Can Not Be Damaged”? Hmm. The first thing that comes to mind is the cake. If its’s any taller than a  tier, then odds are it’s smushable. And frosting — even fondant frosting — is near impossible to fix. A bakery truck has things that your Mom’s SUV does not, like special spots and slots to keep the yummy pretty stuff from sliding around. And the driver  knows exactly how to pack and load the cake and unload and unpack the cake and set it perfectly on the table. And it’s all their responsibility, not yours.

The second thing is your flowers. Depending on what kinds you’re using, crowding them together, with the water and the containers, might not work. You can get it all over there yourself, but be realistic about how much room you’ll have, and what you’ll be able to carry. And if you’re not creating your flower arrangements yourself — in other words, if you’re using a florist or designer —  then don’t pick them up and deliver them yourself. It’s not worth it — better to pay and not worry than to not pay and then … pay for it, you know?

The third thing is catering. I’m talking meals, not necessarily small things like appetizers or cupcakes. But, if you can’t keep it warm, or keep it cold, or keep it in one piece as it should be, then get it delivered by someone who can.

You’re probably thinking that the fourth thing is your dress, but we’ll talk about your dress in a minute.

Never Touch Anything More Than Once

It’s work efficiency thing — when you’re starting a task, don’t put it down until you finish it. In pick up/delivery terms, if it’s something you have to make two trips for because because it won’t fit in your car (come on, will it?) then recruit a second driver, or have it delivered. Your time, and the time of everyone who is helping you out, is at a premium on your wedding day — don’t let the miles eat it up. And if it takes multiple stops to get it there, wherever there is? Get it delivered.

So, What Can I Pick-Up Myself?

For the most part, your dress, the bridesmaid dresses, the tuxes, will be okay. Your guest book, signs, favors. Anything that won’t be susceptible to heat or crowding. But, whoever you’re getting it from, ask them what the best way is to transport it. And then, do that. Buy the fancy big dress bag/box that will be just tight enough and loose enough to avoid massive wrinkling. Buy the steamer just in case and keep the receipt, or just keep the steamer — you’ll probably want to use it again someday. If you like red wine or dark liquor, grab a Tide pen. Put a plastic sheet down to catch the water, put the cupcakes down in the passenger seat well. Refrigerate immediately once you get there. Whatever it is, just do it, and get it done right.

What are you trying to decide if you should pick up or deliver yourself? Let me know in the comments below, and we’ll figure it out.

And if you would like to find out a little more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to Silver Charm Events.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Five Lies That Will Stop You From Enjoying Your Wedding Day

You can face the day with anticipation...or fear and worry. Choose option A. Photo: Liz Coopersmith

 

You can face the day with anticipation … or fear and worry. Choose option A.
Photo: Liz Coopersmith

Your wedding day is here. You can hear the DJ tuning up outside. Your fiance is in the building. Everyone is helpful and excited and happy … Except you. Instead of gearing up to enjoy this cool day that you’ve created,  you’re still worried that you should have thrown down the extra three bucks (per bloom) to put peonies in your bouquet. Or, should Uncle Leon really be at the same guest table as your freshman year roommate. What if the cake melts? Is the wedding going to start on time, is it going to end on time?

WHAT IF NO ONE HAS A GOOD TIME??

Look, I’ve literally planned 250 of these things. I can guarantee that if you let it, your wedding day is only going to get better from here — there’s the smiles and the love of a bunch of people on the other side of that door, and cake and dancing later on, too. But you’re not going to see or feel any of it if you’re focusing on the  constant stream of lies that you’re telling yourself, convincing you of all the mistakes you’ve made that will surely lead to disaster. And if you believe that’s what’s going to happen, that’s exactly what you’re going to find, and yeah, and it’s going to ruin your day. Self-Sabotage is brutal, people.

So, when you hear these lies bubbling up in your brain, shut them down with The Truth. Okay? Okay.

Lie #1: I didn’t have enough money to have the wedding I truly wanted.

The Truth: First of all, you did the best you could with what you had, and if you were honest with yourself, you did a really good job. There’s at least three things that you’re totally looking forward to, whether it’s the gold silk chair ties you cut yourself, the bare red velvet cake, the blue mason jars you’ve been buying for the past six months to use as candle holders. Renting vintage furniture may have been out of your budget, but no one knows about that. And don’t try and make yourself feel worse by telling them!

You’re also going to be surrounded by your favorite people in the world, some who you haven’t seen in ages, and probably won’t see again for a while. You got them all together in one room on one particular day. Having the wedding you want is about a lot of things. What else were you able to pull off that you can’t wait to see today?

Lie #2: No one is going to have a good time. Seriously, they’re not.

The Truth: Your guests are not there so they can experience the wonder of sitting on gold Chiavari chairs. They are probably looking forward to the free food and cake. Oh, and the bar. But really, they are there to celebrate with you. And that means hanging out with you, and with the other people that are also there to celebrate with you. So, do that. You want your guests to have fun? You first. Eat the food, drink the drinks, ask your DJ to play your favorite songs and haul people to dance floor. Tell everyone how happy you are that they made it. Because you are. Look around and actually watch how much fun everyone is having. Nice job.

Lie #3: I don’t know what I’m doing, something is going to go wrong, and it’s going to ruin my wedding. 

The Truth: You are partly right. Something will go wrong. And it’s not even melted-cake wrong (it’s happened) or forgot -your -bouquet-at the-hotel wrong (that’s happened, too), it’s too-long toasts and running out of scotch at the bar, or a bridesmaid ripping her dress, or forgetting your cake knife at home. It could rain. Yes, something will go wrong, no matter what you do to make sure it doesn’t. Life is still life, even if it’s your wedding day. Whether it turns into a wedding-ruining disaster is up to you. You can either freak out about it if you can’t change it, or do the best you can to solve the problem or work around it. If you can’t do either, you should let it go. Not easy, sometimes, I know. Fake it, if you have to, until you can turn it into a good story! I know, I’m so zen. I’m also right.

Lie #4: I can’t handle this pressure. You’re right, I’m going to ruin my wedding because I suck. 

The Truth: Yeah, I kind of set you up for that with the premise of this post, sorry. Look, you’re human. And you’re a human who probably hasn’t planned a wedding before. And there are a thousand questions that need answering, and a thousand expectations that need managing, and a bunch of stuff that you had no idea you were going to have to deal with when you started this.  Pull the breaks when you start giving yourself a hard time about giving yourself a hard time.

Lie #5: Nothing ever goes right for me. I’m telling you, this is going to suck!

The Truth: If you’re standing inside a door, waiting to walk down the aisle to marry the love of your life, followed by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and the love and laughter that you know (and you do know) is coming at some point that day? Then a lot of stuff has gone very, very right, for some time now. More things — most things — will go right on your wedding day then will go wrong. For one thing, you’re going to end up married, which is why we’re all here in the first place. You’re going to have a good day, I promise. Just remember to watch out for it.

What are you beating yourself up about right now? Do you have any questions about anything you’re afraid will go wrong? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you’d like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, come visit me at www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

PSSST! L.A. Brides: Liz is having a killer deal on her Day-Of Coordination rates for this fall. But it ends TODAY.

Liz

The Broke-Ass Bride’s Guide to Newbie Vendors

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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 www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

 

 

 

 

 

Liz

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 www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

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 www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz