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Archive for January, 2016

Once you have established your budget, figured out an approximate wedding date, and hired your coordinator, the next step is to find a location for your wedding. There are many things to consider. First and foremost, is to figure out your wedding theme or style. Many of us dream of getting married outside with an amazing mountain view, while others picture an elegant mansion for their nuptials. Some think a quaint farm while others think an urban loft.

Whatever your theme, always remember NOT to compare apples to oranges. What do I mean by that? Well, the first question you will most likely ask is, “How much does your venue cost?” That question really needs to be followed with, “What services does this price include?” You may be able to rent a hall “really cheap” but it only includes the blank space and maybe some tables and chairs that you need to set up yourself. Still you’re thinking, for only $1000, that’s still a great deal compared to the $15,000 that full-service venue, with in-house catering, wants. However, now you need to rent linens, china, glassware, a bar, and those chairs are really ugly…….time to rent chair covers! It adds up super quick, and you haven’t even added in the cost of catering or alcohol.

Some people think the best solution is having the wedding at their home or property. Sounds great and you don’t have to pay a rental fee……should be MUCH cheaper, right??? WRONG!! Wedding expenses add up quickly. First, you are starting with a blank space…..no tables, no chairs, no linens, no china, no glassware, no dance floor, no bars….and if you think the 2 bathrooms in your house are going to be enough for your 150 guests, think again. Can your house’s plumbing really handle the needs of 150 people? Most cannot and therefore, you will need to rent restroom trailers (not porta potties…..this is a wedding not a camping trip). In addition, what are your local noise ordinances? Where will all these people park? What about electrical for the DJ and catering? Who is going to set all these tables, chairs, linens, etc. up? And finally, who is going to clean this mess up and will you be able to fit all this garbage in your rather small garbage can? My experience has been, the more a venue provides, the happier my clients have been and they often save the most money in the end.

Weather is definitely another factor to consider when choosing your venue. Here in the Sacramento area, we are blessed with pretty amazing weather and can almost guarantee there will be no rain during the summer months. However, Spring and Fall can still sneak in a rain shower or two so having a venue with a back-up plan is a MUST. I highly recommend a venue with both indoor and outdoor spaces, just in case, during these months. Another factor to consider is the heat. You need to provide adequate shade for your guests, either with umbrellas, a tent, or trees. However, if you are depending on trees for shade, it is EXTREMELY important to visit the reception space during the actual time of your reception. The sun shifts all day long and so does your shade. A space that is nicely shaded at 10:00 in the morning, may be in direct sunlight by 4:00 in the afternoon. If the sun isn’t setting until close to 9:00 pm, your guests will be miserable and burnt to a crisp by the time your wedding is over.

Finally, one questions I always ask, that most couples forget, “What is your policy on open flame?” Often, I come into my clients’ planning process after they have booked their venue. Their “vision” for the wedding includes a beautiful candle lit reception. However, they are shocked to learn, after I have visited the venue and asked more detailed questions, that no open flame is allowed. Their vision suddenly goes up in smoke! Sure, you can use those LED candles, but they tend to be more expensive and nothing can compare to the real thing. Each venue’s policy on candles is different and it is important to ask this question BEFORE you book or you could be very disappointed later.

That’s all for today’s blog post. Over the next few weeks, we will start talking about booking the vendors (DJ, florist, cake, etc.). Until then, happy planning!

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Happy New Year and welcome 2016! How many of you got engaged over the holiday season? It’s a very exciting time in your life, but now that the excitement has worn off, the real work begins…….planning your wedding day!

Most couples start with an exact date in mind, but I strongly advise against that. Instead, chose a “time of year” and be a bit flexible within that time frame for your wedding date. Many couples who become engaged over the holiday season, have visions of getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall”. Problem is, many of the venues and vendors that you want, are already booked. In the Sacramento area, May/June and September/October tend to be the most popular times to get married. It makes sense as the weather is usually pleasant (and most likely rain free) with temperatures that aren’t too hot compared to July and August. If you are flexible in the your dates, you have a better chance of still getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall” as are there are at least a few openings left. They just might not be your “first choice” of dates.

Next, sit down and talk budget. What is your budget for this wedding? My experience shows that most weddings are a combination of the bride’s parents, groom’s parents, and the couple all contributing to the wedding costs. The average wedding in the Sacramento region costs between $25,000 and $30,000. Now, pick yourself up off the floor from fainting and gather your thoughts. What does this include? How can I cut back on this?

Which brings me to my next step…….hiring a coordinator! Yes, I know….of course I am going to say hire a coordinator. I AM a coordinator! But I am honestly telling you that I usually save my clients money in the end, most often covering the cost of  what my fees were. Why??? Because this isn’t my first wedding “rodeo”. I’ve seen it all and know what a wedding needs, and what it does not. I know venues and vendors you don’t. It sounds like I’m being a bit pretentious, but I’m simply being honest. I’ve been building up my resources and knowledge on weddings in this area for years. I am going to be honest with you when it comes to why certain things will or will not fit your budget.

In my first planning meeting with clients, I ask them to tell me 2-3 things that are the MOST important to their wedding day. It could be great food, great entertainment, best photographer, lots of flowers, etc. Whatever your 2-3 most important priorities are, that’s where you should focus the majority of your budget. If you make those few things really shine, the other areas you spent less on will hardly be noticed by your guests. The other STRONG suggestion I make to my clients is be reasonable about your guest list. The more guests you have, the more it will cost. That’s just basic math. Think about it, how well do you REALLY know your 4th cousin that you met once when you were 3 years old? Do you REALLY think they will be offended if you don’t invite them? Chances are, they probably won’t. When making a guest list, stick to the people who matter in your life. If your parents are “insisting” that the 4th cousin be invited, then they need to be prepared to add more funds to the budget.

I’ll end today’s blog post here. In my next week’s post, I will talk about the next step…..venue search and selection. Until you know where the wedding will be, it’s virtually impossible to plan the rest of it.

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