Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My 10 Best Ways to Save $$ on your Wedding

There are a million ways to save money while you are planning your Wedding.  These are my favorite, and will potentially save you the most.

1.  Have your ceremony and your reception at the same site.  This saves you on site rental fees and transportation costs for family and the bridal party.

2.  Limit the Bar.  I am a firm believer in an open bar for Weddings.  Where you save money is limiting the alcohol  that you serve.  Wine and beer should always be included, but think about limiting the other alcohol a signature drink, this will limit the amount you will go through and save top shelf prices.

3.  Serve Cake.  Most venue caters literally throw the cake in for free.  Sure if you want an upgrade (trust me - skip the fondant) there might be an upcharge, but it is a good (and free) starting point.

4.  Skip the Second Meal.  I know that it really, really trendy to serve your guests a 'snack' towards the end of the reception - I feel like this completely unnecessary.  If you insist, think about a lighter snack like a chips and salsa bar or cheese and fruit plate.

5. Rent a Car.  Instead of hiring a limo, what about renting (or borrowing) a convertible to use when you make your get away from the reception?

6.  Assemble and Address the Invitations.  Do not hire someone else to do this.  If you are considered about your handwriting, ask a bridesmaids/friend to help.

7.  Let the Music Flow.  Is there a local music school in town?  Check with them and see if they let students play for events.  Use them for both the ceremony and the cocktail hour, this will save on the hours you pay a DJ.

8.  Pick one Hotel.  If you have alot of out of town guests, give them one option (please make it a responsible one) depending on the # of nights in your stay, and your guests stay,  you will gain lots of bonuses, like free transportation (to and from) the wedding site, and free nights for the bridal party.

9.  Have a Vegetarian option.  These dishes have come along way and will be a hit even with your non-vegetarian guests.  It helps with the budget because these meals are typically cheaper, so offering one meat dish (chicken is typically the safest) and a veggie will help with the catering budget.

10.  Research.  Do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.  If you are set on one vendor that doesn't offer something you want, tell them.  Most Wedding vendors are flexible especially when it comes to making a sale.

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What to Expect at your Wedding Rehearsal

The day before your wedding is when the nerves really start to kick in - once you see everything coming together and you can really visualize what could go wrong.  It is also a really fun time when all your out of town guests start showing up and you have a million to-do's running through your head.  All and all it's crazy!

That all being said you want to get through the actual Wedding Rehearsal as quickly and efficiently  as possible.

Who should be Invited

  • Parents (including Step Parents) & Grandparents 
  • Bridal Party (they should be allowed to bring a date)
  • Parents of the Ring Bearer and Flower Girls (if they are not in the Bridal Party)
  • Friends/Family who will be participating in the Wedding 
  • Officiant
  • Wedding Planner
Anyone invited to the rehearsal should be invited to the dinner following.  Siblings (including step) who are not part of the Wedding should be invited to meet up at dinner, as well as any Aunts and Uncles or close family members you would like to invite.  Keep in mind that children of the Bridal party and others participating should also be included in the dinner.   

When Should it Be

The ideal time is the late afternoon before the Wedding.  Schedule it for about 4:30 and give yourself 30-45 minutes at the venue, and then travel time to the restaurant.  Dinner should be schedule for 6:00, so if you have guests invited to dinner that will not be attending the rehearsal you can inform them when to be there.

One thing that could easily happen, is that there is another event schedule at your venue the night before.  If that is the case schedule it for the closest time before the actual day of the Wedding (not in the morning before) and have as many people attend as possible.  Think Thursday night, or earlier on Friday.  Make sure to inform the Bridal Party in case they need to schedule the time off work.  The Officiant or the Wedding planner will discuss with the details and walk those who could not make it on the morning of the ceremony.

Who Should be in Charge

Ideally, the Bride and Groom have a enough going on they shouldn't have to be in charge of the rehearsal too.  This should be the responsibility of the Officiant, the Venue Event Planner and your Wedding Planner.

Walk through the ceremony a few times at the rehearsal, this is not as important to those who have been in Weddings before, but for the children in the Bridal Party this will be important.

Come Organized

Bring your binder, which should include a copy of your ceremony, review it before things get started so you will know what (and who) should be where and needs to be reviewed.

Have a little fun, and try to relax this is meant to help people really focus on making the ceremony go smoothly.

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shopping for your Perfect Wedding Dress

Remember before you were engaged and you would dream about your perfect wedding, and that dream included the perfect wedding dress?  Well, when it all starts to be reality, it can seem like an over whelming nightmare.  Don't worry I'm here to help.

Before you Go:

Do your research.  

Seek inspiration from Pinterest and bridal magazines.  Don't be afraid to rip out pages and bring them with you to show the store's staff.  

Plan your visits.

Many stores will only show dresses by appointment, so make sure that you research the stores and make the proper appointments.  Don't limit yourself to one store.  Look around, even if you visit them just to look around before you actually try anything on.  Do check yourself a favor and do a quick check on the shops you are looking to visit, an internet search and Better Business Bureau search might save you heartache down the road.

Get a lingerie fitting.

Take the time to visit a lingerie store for a fitting to make sure that you are buying the proper size which will only make your dress fit better.

Gather your Girls.

Dress shopping doesn't have to be a mandatory bridal party function, but you should invite those closest to you (and those who will give you a honest opinion) to share in the fun.  Remember, this will (and should) take more than one day, so not everyone maybe able to go to each store.

Determine your budget.

Right now the average wedding dress will cost you around $1300, and another 300-500 for alternations.  Most bridal stores will require at least half of the purchase price down, if not full payment when you order.

What to Take with you:

  Something with a similar heel that you would like to wear on your wedding day 

Something to put your hair up
   If you haven't decided on up or down yet, bring a comb or ponytail holder, just in case

Appropriate Shapewear and Undergarments
   The sales clerk will be helping you into those dresses and you don't want to look presentable.

When you are there:

Don't take any pictures before you ask.  They are so temperamental about that.

Try on as many dresses as you can.  This process is as much about knowing what you don't want as much as what you do want!

Don't order anything on the first day.  Keep going and see all the stores (and dresses) that you originally wanted to see.  It will be there when you go back.  

Relax, have fun - this is suppose to be fun!  Princess for the day!

Happy Planning!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Save Money on your Wedding Flowers

Flowers are a wedding must have.  The smallest of Weddings still has flowers.  The experts recommend that 8% of your Wedding budget should go to flowers.  There are so many ways to save on flowers - below are my 5 favorite tips for saving money on your flowers.

1.  Do Some of the flowers yourself.
  • Flower Girls. There is no reason that the flower girls should be throwing real flower petals.  Actually, it is probably better for you (and your dress) if those flowers are artificial. All of the major craft retailers sell petals in almost every color that you can imagine.
  • The Toss Bouquet.  All you really need are a couple of silk flowers (matching the flowers in your carry bouquet) wrapped together with wire (make sure the sharp edges are tucked) and tied with ribbon
  • Aisle Runner.  Again this can be easily purchased (at a fraction of the price) from a craft retailer or on-line.
  • Pew Bows.  I tried to tie my own and had a melt down (my one DIY fail of my Wedding) and asked the florist to do it.  At least give it a try.
  • Flowers for the Mothers.  One of my favorite Wedding traditions is to have the Bride and Groom deliver flowers to their Mothers.  These can be put together as easily as the toss bouquet. 
2.  Limit the Amount you order.

Back in the day, everyone in the Bride and Groom's family would get a corsage or a boutonniere.  Times have changed.  Limit these to those parents, grand parents, god parents, and those how are speaking in the wedding.  I snapped the picture below after a Wedding (I know they are fake, but someone still paid for them) of flowers that weren't picked up or used.  Wasted money.

Other Places you don't need flowers:*
  • Pew Bows
  • Buffet Tables
  • Cake Table
  • Restrooms
  • Favor/Gift Table/Seating card table 
* if you really feel these areas need flowers, please see below or think about using the toss bouquet

3.  Reuse the Flowers

Ceremony Flowers can be re-used at the receptions in lots and lots of different ways.
  • The Bride's bouquet and the Bridesmaids bouquets can be used to decorate the head table.  Just buy some inexpensive vases.  Pew bows can also be attached.
  • The Bride's bouquet and Bridesmaids bouquet can be moved around for photo opportunities (like cake cutting) or placed by the place cards until the guests have been seated. 
  • Alter Flowers from the ceremony can be used to decorate the entry to the receptions.

4.  Get the standard reception flowers.
Most reception venues have a standard package for table decor.  Stick with that.  We have all been to weddings and after the first course is served, the table is a mess of favors, and food, glasses, purses, you name it.

5.  Substitute the Bridesmaid's Bouquets.

I went to a fabulous wedding where the bridesmaids carried custom clutches that the Bride had made herself. Please do not go with the the classic umbrella ....

Bonus Tip!  

Dry your own Bouquet.

I just recently found out that the florist will do this for you.  This is a definite DIY.  It's simple, hang the bouquet upside down with string from a window sill, once dry store in wax or tissue paper.

PS  - don't forget the Groom's boutonniere

Happy Planning!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My 5 Best Vacation Planning Tips

I love Summer.  Summer means long evenings, fresh air and the beach!  The beach is my family's favorite vacation destination.  You could drop us off at the beach and come back in 7 days to pleas of "we aren't ready to go home yet."  We do like to vacation as a family (for at least the first 5 days ...  lol) so below are my best planning trips to make your vacation special (and relaxing.)

1.  Research Activities before you leave.

The idea is to come back from vacation rested and relaxed, not needing a couple of days to rest before you go back to work.  That being said, sometimes it rains at the beach, so know where the museums, movie theaters, malls and arcades are.

Vacations are also great for teaching history and geography lessons.  Exploring a new area of the state or country can cure "I'm so bored" blues.

Remember to not only look for activities at your destination, but along the way as well.

2.  Create a Binder.

Yes, I know another binder, but trust me, this thing is a life saver.   I keep directions (double check for the GPS), hotel, flight and car rental information.  There is a section for what to pack (or not to forget really) as well as things that need to get done before you leave.  It's a catch all that you can easily access the information that you need.  Be sure to make a list of the important things (tablets, cell phones, chargers, etc) you don't forget them when you leave home or when you leave to go home (I totally stole that idea from my Dad.)

Just a quick note, on the packing list tab I keep a short list of what is in what bag.  This is just in case someone needs a quick change of clothes, or there is a we have to go swimming right now emergency!  I don't list everything, but the important things.

Don't forget to have an "Activities" tab.

4.  Prepare to Come Home.

The trip home is always harder than the trip there.  One the way there you are excited about all the fun things and people you are going to see.  The trip home is less glamorous, and re-entering the real world can be stressful.  We always seem to be hungry when we get home.  I have no idea why that is, but we are.  I combat this be making something up, pasta sauce or a casserole before we leave and freezing it.  Then I just pop it in the oven while we are unloading and I avoid the grocery store (or more fast food) until I have more energy to tackle it.

5.  Don't Stress Out.

You will forget something. Or someone will have a tummy ache and you will not have anything to help.  That is why there is a Wal-Mart and/or a Target in almost every town in America.  Roll with it, and Enjoy your vacation!