Posts Tagged ‘wedding budget’

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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When numbering your reception tables, why settle for the same old number “tent” card?  A little creativity can add a really great personal touch to each of your tables.  A fun idea to consider, during your engagement photo session, having the photographer take pictures of you and your fiancé holding up wooden numbers (1 through however many tables you have).  Then frame each of these pictures and place the frame on the table.  Much more fun and creative than the boring old tent card.

Another personal touch is to add pictures of you and your fiancé that correspond to the table number.  For example, on table number 1, place an assortment of pictures of you and your fiance at age one.  Table number two…..two year old pictures, and so on and so forth.  That will really get your guests talking and even serve as an “ice breaker” for tables mates who don’t know each other quite so well.

My most recent couple decided to name their tables instead of numbering them.  They chose places and things that held huge signficance in their lives.  For example, in this picture below, the table is named the Forest Hill Bridge.  This is where the groom proposed to the bride.


Along the table name line, one of my clients is celebrating her Bat Mitvah next month.  The theme for the reception is theater since she is very into plays and musicals.  So for the table names, we are using the names of her favorite plays and musicals, many of which she has acted in.  Each name is being printed out to look like the front of a playbill and will be placed in frames on the tables.

If your budget is tight, consider incorporating your table numbers into your centerpieces.  Think of something like those little white trees you see at Easter time (all branches no leaves) and hanging little numbers from the branches.  You could easily cut the numbers from cardstock and then add some embossing powder or glitter to them.  A ribbon hanger in your wedding colors adds the perfect touch.  Sprinkle some rose petals around the table and add votive candles for a finished and elegant look that doesn’t break the bank.

Just remember, don’t settle for the “same old, same old” when it comes to numbering your tables.  A little creativity can really make your wedding stand out from the rest!

Happy Planning!


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These days, wedding budgets are getting tighter and tighter.  We are all having to make do with less.  So how can you still have a beautiful wedding without the “bridal magazine wedding” budget.  My favorite decorating secret is candles….LOTS of candles!

Candles add two things to a room…..sparkle and drama!  A candle lit room is very romantic and amazing.  Just think how beautiful your evening reception will look with the lights dimmed low and a room full of candle light.  I especially like to combine them with my other favorite decorating secret….rose petals.  Rose petals can add a beautiful floral element to your decor for very little cost.  It’s amazing what you can do with the combination of these two items.  For example, in the picture below, we placed a pillar candle (with cover) on top of a round mirror.  They we sprinkled a thick layer of pink rose petals around the edge of the mirror and added a few more votive candles on the outside of the ring.  It looked amazing and these centerpieces were extremely inexpensive!


Another creative way to use rose petals, in combination with candles, is to put 2 rose petals in the bottom of a votive candle holder.  Then put a tea light in the holder.  Place a group or line of votives on a table and lightly sprinkle more rose petals around the candles.  The look is really dramatic and edgy!


Mixing and matching different colors of candle holders is also a great look.


Candles, along with rose petals, can dress up an otherwise dull and boring cake table.  In the picture below, we put a thick half circle of pink rose petals around the cake and then added votive candles for more drama and sparkle. 


In this next picture, we just went wild with candles.  Candles on the tables, candles in the fountains, candles hanging in the floral centerpieces.  The affect is really fabulous and this outdoor reception really sparkled and glowed!


Just remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune on your candles and holders.  Think Dollar stores, Target, Walmart, even consignment shops.  You can find amazingly inexpensive holders at these places that will add so much to your wedding decor for very little money.

Happy Planning!


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So what does a wedding planner do anyway?  This is a question I actually get a lot, not only from brides, but from my own family and friends.  The images of wedding planners or bridal consultants (same thing, different words) are of either Franck, the wacky and pushy wedding planner from the movie Father of the Bride, or Jennifer Lopez, from the movie The Wedding Planner, who catered to very upscale and expensive clients.  While Jennifer Lopez’s character was probably a bit closer to reality than Franck, there are still many misconceptions about wedding planners.

First, we are not pushy.  We will give you lots of ideas and vendor suggestions, but ultimately, it is your vision and your choices that matter.  After all, it is your wedding, not ours.  We are there to help make that dream, that has been in your head since probably childhood, into reality.  We are a creative group as well as an organized group.  And, since we’ve been doing this for years, we know what works and what generally doesn’t.  We know vendors that have earned our respect and trust and will give our clients the best product for their dollar.

Second, wedding planners are not just for the “rich and famous” people.  The majority of my clients are average, hard working people, just like you.  They don’t have huge budgets but they do have big dreams and big ideas.  Our job is to help you make a budget and then stick to that budget.  I am a huge believer in not going into debt for your wedding.  That’s a very stressful way to start a marriage.  More often than not, I save my full service clients the amount (or more) of what my fee cost them, just because of the vendors I knew that they would have otherwise not found.  If full service is still not in your budget, consider hiring a wedding planner for day-of services.

Third, we do not take away the mother-of-the bride’s job of planning the wedding.  I welcome the mother-of-the bride to be part of the planning process if she wishes.  At the end of the wedding night, it is almost always the mother-of-the bride who seeks me out first to thank me.  Moms are busy people, just like brides and grooms, and they simply do not have the time to plan a wedding, in addition to work and family obligations.  They would like to enjoy the wedding and visit with the wedding guests.  They do not like running around like a “chicken with their head cut off” before the wedding putting the decorations on the table when they should be getting dressed or doing pictures.  They do not like spending the entire evening fielding questions from vendors and dealing with emergencies that come up.  Some day, when my own children get married, I will insist on having a bridal consultant, other than myself, to handle at least the day-of.  I want to enjoy my children’s weddings!  My favorite mother-of-the bride quote from one of my weddings last year, “You were the best money I ever spent!”

Fourth, wedding planners are very respectful of your house of worship’s rules and regulations.  A house of worship, even if it is not of my religion, deserves to be respected.  I always take time to talk with the pastor, rabbi, etc. to make certain of the rules and customs.  I have also changed the misconceptions of more than one church wedding coordinator or pastor about wedding planners being “rude and disrepectful”.

Fifth, ethical wedding planners do not take “kickbacks” from vendors.  If a wedding planner is a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) then they are bound by a code of ethics that says they cannot accept kickbacks.  A kickback is where a vendor charges the bride and groom more for a service than normal and gives a percentage of that back to the consultant.  Many of my vendors, however, will offer a discount off of their normal rates because I continue to bring them business.  This discount is always passed on to my clients.  Many bridal consultants do sell invitations or other wedding products and services, in addition to their consulting services.  This is not a kickback since the consultant is acting in a retail capacity.

Wedding planners/bridal consultants are creative, organized, and very detail oriented people.  Our goals is to make our clients special day happy, memorable, special, unique, and stress-free.  The best feeling I get is when the couple comes up to me at the end of the wedding, with big hugs, thanking me over and over because their wedding was perfect!  Only, I know of the things that went wrong and was able to handle them professionally and without much fuss or fanfare.  It is so rewarding to see of all of my months of hard work come together for one beautiful day.  When my clients and the guests are happy, and enjoying themselves, that makes me happy.  When a couple tells me that their wedding day was so much better than they ever imagined it could be, that let’s me know I did my job!

Happy Planning!

Karen 🙂

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When planning a wedding or event, that’s the first question you should be asking yourself.  Making a realistic budget, and then sticking to it is not easy, but very necessary.  Over spending on a wedding or event can, and does, happen so easily.  The advice I give my clients is first think, if money was no object, what would you want?  What does your “dream wedding” look like?  Then, after I review the estimated costs with them, that’s when reality hits.  Time to start prioritizing.  I always tell my clients to pick 2-3 items that are the most important to them.  Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of walking down the aisle in a certain designer’s gown or the vision of being transported to the church in a stretch limo or horse drawn carriage is clearly in your mind.  Then making sacrafices in other areas would be the case.  A few less appetizers or scaled-down centerpieces could make that happen.  However, if you’ve always dreamed of a room filled with flowers and a fabulous meal, perhaps the limo or designer gown isn’t quite so important anymore.

It’s not easy making sacrafices in your budget.  The bridal magazines show amazing real weddings that just seem to have everything…..why can’t you have that?!  Reality is, most people simply do not have the funds for a “bridal magazine” wedding, plain and simple.  However, being creative, knowing the right vendors, and prioritizing your budget will help to make the wedding of your dreams, the wedding of your reality as well.

Happy Planning!

Karen 🙂

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