Pro Tips for Peace of Min

My Favorite Wedding Planning Blogs and Websites

When you're scanning the web for wedding planning advice, be careful - a lot of sites out there have recycled information, or just SO MUCH of it that it's confusing or overwhelming.  And it's super important to make sure experts are quoted in the articles.  When individual brides and grooms are giving advice in articles, remember, they've had experience with one (maybe two) weddings, and while they may have outstanding information to share, it's good to remember that wedding vendors have worked on hundreds to thousands of weddings.

  Here are our fave blogs for pragmatic, entertaining wedding planning advice:

Every Last Detail

This blog is run by an actual wedding planner, Lauren Grove, which I love, because a lot of wedding how-to content is written by editors and writers who, while they definitely do their research, may not have been elbow-deep in the trenches of wedding planning.  A wedding planner has seen so many situations play out, that they have a breadth of knowledge that makes planners like Lauren the top experts to follow.

The Budget-Savvy Bride

Jessica Bishop's website has tons of solid advice and real-world examples of how to save money but still have a great wedding.  Too often, budget advice is without context - but she brings in background information that makes sense. Also, fellow smart and practical brides bring honest feedback to what it's like to plan a budget-friendly wedding.

The Off-Beat Bride

This website is all about weaving a couple's personality into the wedding without breaking the bank.  It's the perfect antidote to the super-glossy, almost unreal glamour weddings you see online. (Not that I don't like seeing those, but it's nice to see something a little more unique.)

The Best Recipe for Handling Too Many (Wedding Planning) Cooks in the Kitchen

This frozen expression of plastered-on polite smile is the look I have when a client mentions something that is 98% likely to go horribly wrong, but I DON'T WANT TO PANIC THEM.

This frozen expression of plastered-on polite smile is the look I have when a client mentions something that is 98% likely to go horribly wrong, but I DON'T WANT TO PANIC THEM.

How many family members involved in wedding planning is...too many?  Listen, I've worked with 5 different family members and it's been fine; I've also had to deal with just 1 maid of honor who almost ruined everything. It's all HOW you do it, not WHO does it.   For example, I am happy to work with parents, but I don't sign contracts with them - just the couple.  That draws a line, as if to say, "You may be paying for it, but it's the bride and groom's wedding!"

Here are a few wedding planning - slash - family therapy (???) tips for success.

If there's already drama, don't Collaborate.

If you already have a history with family that want to be involved - and it's not GOOD history - back away.  Get a second job, elope, do whatever you can to pay for the wedding yourself and keep them from hosting.  When a family member hosts, they can sometimes unfairly leverage that to control the event to the -inth degree. There was one wedding in particular that I planned, where the parents of one of the couple hosted, and whenever I spoke with them it was as if the bride and groom weren't even involved.  The mom dictated the wedding colors, I had to remind them to invite the bride and groom to a table mockup - it was bizarre.  On top of that, I had multiple people deciding on different things in several different emails - not an orderly 'decide by committee' way.  If a family member wants to get involved and is hosting, make sure they know it's not THEIR wedding!

Sisters lovingly drape a tallit over their siblings during this wedding at Calamigos Malibu. Flowers by McCann Florist.  Photo by True Photography.

Sisters lovingly drape a tallit over their siblings during this wedding at Calamigos Malibu. Flowers by McCann Florist.  Photo by True Photography.

 

Divide and conquer.

"Sis, you work on the ceremony music and flowers.  Mom, negotiate the venue and oversee rentals.  We'll choose the officiant and DJ.  Communicate directly with the planner or vendor and don't loop in all of us on every single email." That's called delegating - and it works!  Back-channel chats about taste and style among all parties works for decision making, then the person in charge of that one element emails the vendor or planner directly with the final call. Done!

Tell your peeps:  It's not a contest.

It makes me groan when I meet a friend or relative who tries to out-plan the planner. They're not a wedding planner, but they've done some parties and are really creative, and they go on Pinterest all the time, and now they try to take over at a walk-through or design meeting with a bride and groom. A good wedding planner has no ego and loves input, but not when it's bossy and it's a non-pro trying to throw their weight around. I had one maid of honor take over at a flower mock up and try to tell me and the florist she could "get that mercury vase at Michaels." We were like, "Yes, and we can get it and a dozen others like them at wholesale cost through our suppliers."  I don't know why some people get threatened by wedding professionals - it's really weird, but it's like trying to take over negotiations on a house purchase from a Realtor. Why go through all the trouble? Let the pros do their job!

How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost...Really?

Originally published on No Worries Event Planning.com

It's nearly everyone's first question when they start planning a wedding: How much is this bad boy going to cost me?  The idea of sinking many thousands of dollars in one evening is soul-sucking, and I totally understand this.   I tried to charge as little as possible when I first started and quickly realized there was a bottom line I had to meet, fee-wise or I essentially couldn't run a business. Like, as in, keep the lights on, pay my taxes, feed my family.

And that's what all other vendors and venues find too when they research initial pricing structures.  Their insurance, taxes, labor (that's a big one), cost of raw materials, etc - it all gets passed to you, the consumer.  Meantime, a good middle class income means low buying power these days, due to all sorts of shifts in our economy, so you can work hard, save your money, and still barely be able to afford a wedding.  But, don't get too depressed- let's work through some hard facts about budget, so you can be an informed consumer, and take control over the process.

Black crows on manzanita trees were DIY centerpieces that fit a Halloween wedding perfectly, were made in advance, and saved the clients money. Photo by Jenna Rose Photography, Jennajanellerose.com

Black crows on manzanita trees were DIY centerpieces that fit a Halloween wedding perfectly, were made in advance, and saved the clients money. Photo by Jenna Rose Photography, Jennajanellerose.com

 

Statistics: Read between the lines

The average wedding according to many statistics is about $26k - 30k.  But, in major metropolitan areas, you're looking at $35-45k to start, and towards $70-80k in cities such as New York City.  Guest count, type of food service, venue, and all sorts of other elements affect your total costs.  My advice is, ignore the statistics - the only way you'll know how much your wedding costs is to start researching.

Add it up: Tally total wedding cost first

Start researching venues, DJs, florists, etc., and collect pricing and quotes.  Don't do one at a time, i.e. research and price out venues, book the venue; and THEN price out caterers - you need a holistic, macro view of how all the costs add up before booking any single vendor or venue for the event.  Otherwise you'll book one element, and realize it takes up more of your budget than you thought, and severely crunches the rest of your budget.  Or perhaps trigger other costs that you didn't anticipate (like a venue that requires a generator at great additional expense, for example).

A beachside venue, just like a house on the ocean, will potentially cost more than an inland space.  Photo of Terranea Resort by Alma De Lumiere,

A beachside venue, just like a house on the ocean, will potentially cost more than an inland space.  Photo of Terranea Resort by Alma De Lumiere,

Consider unique alternatives

Food trucks, BBQ take out (nicely served and presented), cupcakes (instead of cakes) - these are all ways to save money on food by going an unconventional route.  Venue-wise, find a venue that's fresh on the market that may be willing to rent to you for an introductory fee. It's important to make sure the venue has proper rules and regulations and insurance, and to know of any specific additional expenses that come with out-of-the-box venues.

Hire the right pros

A caterer that specializes in small luncheons won't be ideal for your 200 person wedding.  A novice florist may not be able to construct that custom arch you saw on Instagram.  A planner who lists as her major experience waiting tables in college and planning her sister's wedding won't know off the top of her head how much a family style meal will cost.  Whether you invest a small hourly consulting package for a coordinator to assist in a venue search or order a drop off type service from a high end caterer, there are ways to hire top-of-their-class vendors without breaking your bank.