Cut Costs For Your Wedding Without Cutting Corners

As a wedding coordinator, one of the top questions I get asked is, "How can we keep our wedding budget from getting out of control, but still be great?" The answer is always going to depend on the couple, and to help sort out this complicated issue, I always ask the following questions: 

1) What are you willing to do without? 

2) What are you willing to do yourself? and

3) What are you willing to do to stick to your desired budget? 

 

1) WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO WITHOUT?

First, make a list of your top 3 priorities or must-haves for your wedding. These can be concrete items like:

  • A sit-down, served dinner
  • Top-shelf liquor
  • Award-winning photography

Or, they can be feelings or general ideas that are very important to you and your partner:

  • "I want to make sure our guests have an incredible meal."
  • "I want to ensure my fiancé and I don't stress over all the details."
  • "I want to throw the party of the century."

Plan to not touch your top 3 priorities in the decision-making process-- we'll aim to compromise on them the very least unless absolutely necessary. Then, make a list of your top 3 unpriorities? Is that a word? Whatever, you know what I mean. Your can-live-withouts. For example:

  • "Doesn't need to be a fancy, formal dinner."
  • "I plan to strap a GoPro to my Best Man's forehead so I don't need a videographer."
  • "I wouldn't care if there were zero flowers present at my wedding."

From here, start with your can-live-withouts. Either omit this item completely, or choose a lesser degree of the service or item to help save money.

You say don't need a formal dinner, so make a Process of Elimination List of alternatives in order of estimated cost (start from the end of the list if you need to), and see which ones you'd be happy with, and what is the lowest level you're most comfortable having at your wedding. It might look something like this:  

 
list.jpg

You've narrowed your options down to three, and from there, you just have to do some cost analysis and figure out where you get the biggest bang for your buck. This strategy works in a variety of situations:

list2.jpg
 

2) WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO YOURSELF?

Pretty straightforward, right? Generally speaking, the more you're willing to DIY, the more money you'll save. This will mean more work for you and the unfortunate souls you recruit to help you, however, so choose wisely. Here are some popular categories people choose to DIY:

Self DJing

You can rent audio equipment easier than ever these days, and for a fraction of the cost of a DJ or band.

All you need to do is hook up your own iPhone/iPad/laptop/digital music device whatnot, and give Pandora's "Hipster Cocktail Party" station a run for its money.

Make sure you consider all aspects of the day that might require music and sound (AKA a microphone) and ensure you have proper amplification (do a sound check!): prelude, ceremony processional and recessional, cocktail hour, reception introductions, dinner tunes, formal dances, special events like cake cutting and speeches, and party time.  This article from Pitchfork gives some good inspiration for musical genres by event. 

A word of warning: depending on your crowd and selections, you run the risk of the music flopping and the party ending early. Good DJs know how to read the crowd and adjust as necessary. Also keep in mind, you'll need to have someone well-versed on the equipment set-up, run, and troubleshoot throughout the night.

Florals

You can save a metric boat ton of cash by making your own centerpieces, floral decor, and personal flowers.

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are two brand-name stores that tend to carry a variety of interesting flowers and greenery. Some local upscale or Farmers grocery stores may also have a good selection, but you should scout it out first and, if they take orders ahead of time, you could save yourself from panic mode if their regular inventory changes from what you were expecting.

You can even buy the pre-assembled "everyday grocery store bouquets," take them apart, mix and match, and reassemble them into an artful creation. The Every Hostess has a great tutorial that shows you how to take an everyday bouquet and elevate it to designer style.

 
Image credit: The Every Hostess

Image credit: The Every Hostess

Image credit: The Every Hostess

Image credit: The Every Hostess

 

Just as with your self DJing aspirations, though, comes a warning: this is one of those DIY projects that must be accomplished within a short window of time; cut flowers are subject to browning and wilting so the fresher the better. I would suggest not starting on your florals any earlier than 1-2 days before your wedding-- the flowers might be new to you, but may have been in the store for several days before you bought them. 

This project can be extremely time consuming, especially if you're new to it, and they probably won't turn out like sculptural works of art so the simpler the arrangement the better. Plan to have plenty of people help you, do run-throughs ahead of time and watch YouTube videos and scour Pinterest for tutorials and inspiration. 

If you don't want to completely DIY your flowers, ask your florist to create the personal bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages that your wedding party will carry, and do the rest yourself.

Also, consider alternatives to flowers to save some money. Include a lot of greenery, candles, lanterns, or other interesting vessels or items that will be eye-catching, but not wallet-draining. 

Photography

Ok so obviously you can't DIY the photography at your own wedding. Well, I guess you could take a selfie stick everywhere you went... but this section talks about hiring a professional wedding photographer vs. perhaps just asking a friend that's camera savvy. 

This is a tricky one for me. I place a high value on professional wedding photography because, barring any catastrophe that destroys them, your wedding photos will outlive you. They're probably one of the only remnants of the day that will remain on permanent display in your home, and skilled wedding photographers can capture tiny, candid moments that serve as beautiful representations of the love shared between you and your spouse. I have heard from many people who, down the road, have serious regrets about forgoing a pro photographer. You might not think it's important now, but think about 10 years from now when your memories of the day have started to fade. 

Photographers can be expensive... yes I know. But before you hire your friend's cousin that just graduated from college with a degree in journalism, however, let's see where we can cut photography costs without cutting the photographer:

  1. Don't employ a second shooter. I know many photographers that work effectively without one. Find someone who shoots solo a good amount. 
  2. Don't purchase any add-ons like books or prints. Receive your edited photos digitally and print them yourself. Sites like Shutterfly, Mpix, Mixbook, Montage, Miller's Lab, and White House Custom Color make it easy and much less expensive to display your finished photos.
  3. Find a photographer that you can hire hourly, or for the ceremony, some portraits and the formal part of the reception only. 
  4. Happen to be getting married in the off season? Ask photographers for an off-season discount.

If you really and truly can't afford to hire a pro wedding photographer, ask someone you really trust, try out an engagement session ahead of time to check out their style, and have a very very detailed shoot list and timeline for them to follow. 

3) WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO TO STICK TO YOUR DESIRED BUDGET?

Ahhhhh, the burning question.

Another question I get asked frequently is, "Can I throw a wedding for ____  amount of dollars?" To which I reply, "Of course you can!" The reason this rule is universal to any budget is because you could literally throw a wedding for nothing (except maybe the cost of a marriage license). You'd have to get super creative, but I bet someone out there in the world has had a wedding for zero dollars.

For people who have a lower, set-in-stone budget, you must be willing to set reasonable expectations for your wish list, bend on some things, and make it happen Cap'n. You'll likely have to shave down your Top 3's with a Process of Elimination List as well (see #1 WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO WITHOUT above). Another approach is to use the Value Triangle method to understand what aspects you'll have to compromise on if you have two fixed priorities.

Have you ever seen a value triangle? It looks like this:

 
 

Let's apply the idea of the value triangle to a few different examples with cost always being a fixed priority:  

guest count

Pretty much the first thing you need to figure out after you get engaged.

Your guest count will help you determine the size of venue you need and will be factored into almost every other aspect of wedding planning. If you really want to have 200 people at your wedding and your budget is $15,000, your space size will also be fixed, so you must be willing to bend on aspects like the venue style/formality, date, or quality/amount of food and beverages you'll serve your guests. 

 
 

venue

Many times couples will have their hearts set on a specific venue and are willing to clip the figurative coupons to get it.

If a venue has smaller rooms, your best bet is almost always going to be to cut your guest list and hold your wedding in the smallest space possible. Trimming your vendor list and DIYing many aspects will also help refocus your budget, and most venues give discounts to fill Fridays, Sundays, or off-season dates.

Or, if you really really love a place but are struggling to afford holding your wedding there, consider hosting a brunch (and party elsewhere in the evening with your closest peeps) or even a cocktail reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres. Both options are becoming increasingly more popular, they're interesting because they're different, and can save you a ton of money.

 
 

HIRE A WEDDING COORDINATOR

Didn't expect that, did you? Or maybe you did because I am a wedding coordinator. 

It might seem counterintuitive to hire an additional vendor in order to save money. But in reality, wedding coordinators and wedding planners who offer partial planning or consultation services can end up helping your budget in the long run because we perform the following money-saving functions:

  • I work with vendors who may offer discounts to those working with a planner
  • I can give you suggestions for vendors within your budget, and help keep you from accepting a bad deal 
  • I help narrow your searching down so you don't get frustrated or overwhelmed, which can lead to make rushed or Hail Mary decisions 
  • If you're interested in doing DIY projects, I can consult on how to complete them in the most cost-efficient ways
  • I can give you advice about what you need and what you don't
  • I have a small inventory of stuff you can borrow so you don't have to buy it once and never use it again. 

Basically, I can help you with a bunch of little things that end up saving you a bunch of big money AND as an extra added bonus, you get your very own Wedding Assistant to help execute the details of your wedding day.

Hiring your own coordinator is not for vanity, nor is it for the wealthiest clients. Weddings can be logistically complicated events and since most people have never had to pull off a large-scale event before, having a trusted advisor to help you navigate the planning process is truly priceless. 

5 real wedding trends for 2016

I don't actually think these are real trends, but I hope they become trends. Now that everyone is finally starting to remember to write 2016 on their rent checks, we've decided it's time to look at five of our favorite ideas that really should become a thing at weddings in 2016. Some are starting to gain popularity, but we'd like to see a wedding overhaul with the following elements:

1/ Bring On The Bright!

Sure, blush, champagne, and gold is a great color palette for an elegant ballroom wedding. But what about LITERALLY ANYWHERE ELSE? We are advocating for dazzling color schemes, highly pigmented accents, and blindingly bright attire. 

RADIANT TRIO COLOR SCHEME

Tell me this tablescape doesn't make the neurons in your brain do a tap dance? That's a thing, right? Neurons in your brain? Whatever. My synapses fire on all cylinders when I see this. The bright hues are anchored by some black, gray and white but there's still plenty of red-orange, magenta and neon green to make any guest go ooOOOOOoooooOOOOoooo! 

If nothing else, make the first impression of your wedding one that wows. Keep your invitation fonts simple and make sure the patterns and colors relate to one another somehow, especially if you're mixing patterns. Don't be afraid to experiment with scale and materials, like the kraft paper belly band shown here, but skip the envelope liner if you're on a budget. Guests often don't notice it.

 

Happy Accent Color

Or, incorporate an ultra-happy accent color. Yellow is very popular (and easy to pull off) with gray, as is turquoise with white, lime green with navy, and magenta with black. 

A book of 500 ideas

If you need a little courage and inspiration, have a generous glass of wine and pick yourself up a copy of the book Weddings in Color by Vané Broussard (founder of the blog Brooklyn Bride) and Minhee Cho (of the paper company Paper+Cup). 


2/ Centerpieces Other Than Traditional Flowers

GASP! All my florist friends are plotting my murder by pruning shears right now. Relax peeps, your jobs are safe and secure! This is certainly not going to be up everyone's alley, but, for those looking for something a little unique and unexpected, consider these ideas:

CACTI (see the first image on the page), SUCCULENTS, OR AIR PLANTS

 

Bride Tina created these succulent and airplant terrariums with the help of Eva from EcoFlora Design. They fit perfectly with the minimal, modern design of the boutique hotel setting and guests loved taking the centerpieces home with them at the end of the night.

These types of centerpieces can work in non-modern settings as well. Put them in a vintage or mercury glass vessel and they'll look like they're straight from the movie Pride and Prejudice. You know, the one with Keira Knightley. Hey! That story is about weddings and stuff, too! 

 

CANDLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'Nuff said. Candles are romantic, textural, mostly inexpensive, and come in a billion different varieties: tapers, votives, tea lights, lanterns, pillars, etc. 

OTHER STUFF!

Think paper pinwheels, paper flowers, paper fans, geometric objects, and desserts (who wouldn't want their very own mini wedding cake right there at their table!? HELLLEEERRR! It's sculptural and delicious!)...


3/ Prints, Patterns, Pizzazz

Have you noticed a theme, yet? Clearly I'm a huge fan of the atypical and I love when my couples take risks or do things out of the ordinary. So, how can you pull it off? I say, go bold or go home!

bridal gown or bridesmaid dresses

Florals are the most common print for bridal gowns, but you can always think outside the box (or the florals) and wear a white dress with sheer stripes (or actual stripes), regal damask, or a bridesmaid dress in a pattern.

(see more amazing floral gowns here

Invitations and Printed materials

Graphic printed materials are by far the easiest way to bring some pattern and interest to your wedding details. 

custom backdrops

A great way to add some drama and scale to your decor is by adding a custom backdrop to your ceremony or reception space (or both!). These can be DIY or made for you by Lauren Skunta of Elbowgrease Design. Add one behind your head or sweetheart table, to your photobooth, or near the bar, where people tend to huddle after dinner. It's a great photo op!


4/ Mini Destination Weddings

A wedding staycation, if you will

The rules for a wedding weekend are quite broad, but it's generally all about creating an interactive experience for your guests by incorporating other events into the weekend. A welcome or rehearsal dinner the night before and day-after brunch are quite common, but some couples are taking their wedding-related events a step further. 

I originally fell in love with this idea when I read about actress Kate Bosworth's wedding getaway with husband Michael Polish at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. Their guests stayed on site, rode horses, hiked, fished and enjoyed a hoe-down the evening before.  

In the Catskill Mountains, check out Timber Lake Camp. The campground includes lodging for 500+ guests and the rental fee (about $10,000 for 100 guests) includes the ceremony, reception, lodging (bunk or private), meals (though outside catering is permitted), and full use of the camp facilities such as sports areas and specialty areas such as the waterfront and outdoor adventure/zip line area. You can bring your own alcohol, too, which is a money-saving bonus. Talk about all-inclusive!

Or, peep Stone Tavern Farm in Roxbury, New York where they offer fun camping experiences like s'mores around a campfire, ziplining, hiking, paddle boating, lawn games, ATV rides, fishing, a skeet range and paint ball. Host your entire wedding weekend at the venue and, though they're not included, guests can rent houses on the property for lodging. 

Even if you can't swing an all-inclusive venue, make the most of your time with your guests by planning activities that showcase your wedding town.


5/ Get Personal

Your wedding isn't supposed to be just a rando party, it's a celebration of you and your significant other as a couple. So let's celebrate you! Here's how:

incorporate photos of the two of you

They can be engagement photos, or some of you both as you were growing up-- whatever! Be creative. But make sure you put them somewhere people will have time to interact with them. While hanging them on chairs along the aisle at the ceremony is super cute, they often get missed by your guests. Try photos on your table numbers, at your gift or escort card tables, as hanging decor, on the restroom doors, or use a double sided frame to create a photo centerpiece on cocktail tables. 

Incorporate your favorite local or cultural things into your wedding

The most memorable weddings are the ones that include really unique features or even, dare I say, non-traditional details.

Did you have your first date at the Jeni's Ice Cream down the block? Serve up some pints for dessert (no one says you must eat cake)! Do you both love the New York Yankees? Make your decor pinstripe! Do you share a pet? Put them on your save the dates! Like to drink adult beverages? Bottle your own blend of wine, or bring in specialty beers from the local microbrew. My husband and I presented our mothers with Hawaiian orchid lei at our wedding since we lived in Hawaii at the time. 

Rain on your wedding day does not mean good luck.

It's what people always say when the weather turns stormy and the bride seems to be getting distressed. Here's the thing, though: rain on your wedding day does not mean you'll have good luck in your marriage or life or whatever. It means that today it's raining. 

It makes me cringe every time I hear someone say it. I understand people are trying to lighten the situation and bring positivity to what some might consider a ruined day, but it's just rain for crying out loud. If your apple cart gets upset because you have unrealistic expectations of perfection on your wedding day, you might have some bigger problems. 

I bring this topic up because I once heard the story of a bride who insisted on having her ceremony outside, even when the weather was obviously worsening (actually, I've heard this part of the story many times with a variety of different outcomes). When it began pouring and all the guests ran inside, they continued the ceremony (for some reason) and she was so upset her guests missed the big moment that she locked herself in the bridal suite and refused to come out for an hour and a half. Someone finally gave her anti-anxiety meds and she emerged puffy-faced, make-up dripping, and having had missed the first part of her reception.  On the other hand, my brother and his new wife, who got married outside, in Seattle, on a floating dock no less, told their guests, "it's Seattle, so bring an umbrella." 

I'm sure you're probably waiting for me to tell you the step by step guide to planning your wedding around rain and offering suggestions on how to handle the logistics of the day if the sky does open up. Well, I suppose I should do that since I'm a wedding coordinator and all. But instead, I'll just say, hire a coordinator and she'll take care of all that shit. Instead, I'd like to rhetorically ask you which of those two marriages, from the scenarios above, do you think started off on the right foot? 

That's right, I tricked you! This post isn't exactly about rain on your wedding day. It's about the symbolism of weathering the proverbial storm when you have rainy regular life days after you're married. You can't control whether or not it rains on your wedding day, just as you can't control what your spouse is going to do or not do, or their mood that day, or how they love you. Rain isn't good luck or bad luck, it's just what happens sometimes when Mother Nature is cranky, or hangry, or sleep deprived, or stressed at work. It usually doesn't have anything to do with you but if you let it get to you, then whole day will be ruined.

So instead of locking yourself in a room and having a massive meltdown, do just as you should on your wedding day and plan for rain and then adapt and overcome. HAVE A STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH THE RAINY DAYS:

  • Say 'sorry' a lot and mean it. Say 'thank you' a lot and mean it. These simple gestures make an enormous difference in your relationship.
  • Talk about how you can deal with each others' grumpies. Sometimes I need to vent and my husband would always offer suggestions on how to fix it and it drove me bananzas. I finally communicated with him (when there was less steam shooting from my ears) that I really just needed someone to listen to me for a few minutes, not help me fix it. 
  • I've never read The 5 Love Languages, but I know a number of people who have. I'm not necessarily promoting the book, but I do appreciate the concept behind it: knowing how you each show love to one another. For a long time I was bothered by the fact that my husband isn't outwardly romantic; he doesn't make any grand romantic gestures. And then I came to the conclusion that he will never be that kind of dude. It's just not how he is wired. Now I don't expect him to make grand romantic gesture and get frustrated when he doesn't and I instead recognize his more subtle ones: making breakfast on the weekends, paying for dinner when we go out (even though I hold a very strong belief that it's not a man's duty to pay for my meals), and sending me cute dog videos that he knows I'll love to watch (and probably start crying over). 

If you know me, you know I'm a firm believer in marriage counseling, or marriage coaching as I like to call it, BEFORE things start to get shaky-- pretty much from the get go. I don't believe we innately know how to come from very different backgrounds and upbringings, combine our lives, and be married to another person. If you and your spouse (yes, BOTH OF YOU) can determine a strategy for dealing with the occasional gray skies, or even a torrential downpour every once in a while, you'll likely be eons beyond your peers in marital success. You'll also both be actively engaged in the everyday "maintenance" of your marriage (like Motorpool Monday for all my army veteran friends out there). 

And as far as rain on your wedding day? Well... hire a coordinator and bring an umbrella! 

Sorry, but, No-Shows at Your Wedding = The Cost of Doing Business

The headline reads: "Guest gets bill after not showing up to wedding." Well, ain't that sweet.

Recently, the internet was abuzz with the story of a wedding guest who received an invoice for the meals and service they would have received at a wedding they RSVPed to but we unable to attend because of a last-minute cancellation from their babysitter. 

A Major No-No

I'm not entirely certain who sent the invoice-- whether it was the couple, the venue, or a cranky parent perhaps. What I am entirely certain of, however, is that this note which I'm sure the sender thought was a brilliant way to show 'em who's boss, might be one of the worst offenders of etiquette I've seen in a long time. And those who know me know I don't use the word etiquette very often. 

In this instance, the "offending guest" had to miss the wedding because her babysitter cancelled at the last minute, and the invitation stated that the reception was "Adults Only."  Though there is still some debate about whether it's OK to bar children from weddings, in order for this guest to have complied with the instructions from the couple and laws telling you it's not alright to leave your young child alone by themselves (oh, those crazy laws!), she had no choice but to skip the festivities. 

This is a whole separate blog post, but, cocktails and formal events are just sometimes not an appropriate setting for children. It's OK to host an adults-only wedding, as long as the hosts realize that some guests may be left out for that very reason-- it's not always simple as pie to get a sitter. 

explain yourself

What gets me is the part where the note says "explanation for no show, card, call or text would be appreciated." This suggests to me that it's not about the cost of the meal, but more about the fact that the guest didn't contact the couple to let them know what could possibly be more important than them. In other words, their feelings were hurt, and they wanted the guest to know it. Under no circumstances should this ever be a thing that happens.

An RSVP is not a contract. If someone doesn't show up to a wedding, that sucks, but there's usually a good reason for it. And if there's not a good reason, well, then there's not. It's not your place to play hall monitor. 

the real scoop

Some internet commenters have mentioned that it's a bummer when a guest is a no-show; there's an empty seat at a table and you can't get your money back. Well, yes and no. It is a bummer and yes, there will probably be an empty seat (or the seat will be filled by someone who RSVPed 'no' but shows up anyway, OR someone you forgot to seat when making your table assignments).  

You may or may not be able to get your money back. Some caterers allow you to pay for only the number of people who are present at your wedding. Others ask for a final head count 7-10 days before the wedding date. So, even if the guest had notified the couple that day that an emergency arose, they still wouldn't have gotten their money back. 

Couples are usually advised to plan for a 10% overage in their guest count (and we say to expect 10% under the guest-imate, too). Sometimes people respond and their RSVP gets lost in the mail (it happens way more often than you think). Sometimes people don't respond because they think you and they have such a close relationship that it's assumed you know they'll be there (this happens most often with young people who didn't grow up using written correspondence). And sometimes you just got your numbers wrong. Calling folks whose RSVPs you didn't receive helps alleviate number discrepancies.

how could this have been handled differently?

A few different ways, actually. It seems like the biggest problem here was a lack of communication. Here are a few suggestions on ways to communicate an absence:

FROM THE GUEST

Call or text the bride/groom/parent/sibling/wedding party member as soon as you know you won't be able to make it. 

PROS- You will be able to let someone know you won't be there and they will probably be able to relay the information to the right person.

CONS- You might not have a good contact number. Also, these people have a lot going on; they may not see your call or text, especially if it's the day of the wedding.

SOLUTIONS-  

1) Include a contact number on your wedding website (or Info card with your wedding invitations) of someone high ranking (NOT the bride or groom). Better yet, include your wedding coordinator's phone number for urgent situations (check to make sure this is OK with your coordinator. P.S. It's OK with me!)  

2) It's thoughtful, though not mandatory, to send a follow-up note or card congratulating the couple with a registered or monetary GIFT (read: not the remittance of a bill) of anywhere from $50-$200 (or more if you're feeling generous). 

BOTTOM LINE- If you find out the day of the wedding that you can't make it, and you choose not to notify the bride or groom or someone close to them, at least send a note immediately after the wedding apologizing for your absence and a gift from their registry or some money. You don't have to feel obligated to pay for your meal, but it's a nice gesture to put some greenbacks toward the wedding festivities (same goes for guests who attend the wedding). 

FROM THE STOOD-UP PARTY

DON'T SEND YOUR NO-SHOWS A BILL. I repeat, DON'T SEND YOUR NO-SHOWS A BILL. Can't get more tacky than that. No-shows should be built into the cost of a wedding because that's just how it goes. You can't control what 150 people do.

PROS- You get on with your life and your new marriage.

CONS- You don't get a chance to pout about it publicly. 

SOLUTIONS-

1) Don't worry about it and don't take it personally. Your wedding should be about you and your new spouse and your guests are just a great addition to the fun. You never know what someone has going on in their life that actually might be more important than you (sorry, but it's true!)  

2) If it's someone you know well and you are genuinely concerned, call or email them (after your wedding). Say something like, "We were so sorry you couldn't make it to the wedding. We'd love to share some photos of the day when we get them back from the photographer." If they offer an explanation for their absence, great; listen and be understanding. If not, don't press the issue. 

BOTTOM LINE- Again, you're not the wedding guest hall monitor. Build the cost of numbers discrepancies into your wedding budget. Politely follow up with a phone call and offer to share photos from the day. Be understanding if they offer an explanation of their absence and get over it if they don't. Whatever you do, though, DON'T SEND YOUR NO-SHOWS A BILL.

Read the article here

Wedding Decor: How Pinterest Has Created a Monster.

Well, not a monster. That's a little dramatic.

Image courtesy of the amazing Ultrapom Rental Company. I love your rentals. 

Image courtesy of the amazing Ultrapom Rental Company. I love your rentals. 

Let's pause for a moment to bask in the beautiful glory of the table setting above. Gold, sparkly, classy, a little vintage, a little Kate Spade. I love it. You love it. You gotsta have it, right? Be ready with that cash money, then.

Many of my clients (and usually also their Moms and MILs) direct me to their Pinterest accounts and ask me to help create a tablescape/backdrop/dessert table just like the one they have pinned on their wedding boards. Then I hit them with the cost of rentals for all the different items in the photo and they cuss me out. Just kidding. That hasn't happened. Yet....

So how is it possible that so many people are having these fabulously stylish weddings with every detail perfectly coordinated and no one is complaining about the cost? Well, the truth is, most people aren't. They're either not complaining about the cost because they can afford it no probs, or you're seeing images from a styled shoot. Tricky tricky! 

A styled shoot DOES NOT include settings or decor for an entire wedding (unless you're only having, like, ten people at your wedding. If that's the case, you're golden!). It's meant to give you inspiration and explore different styles, textures, and colors. For example, the gold flatware, while very lovely, will cost about $750 alone for 150 guests. Sequin linens will run you about $50 per table so that's another $750 in guest table linens. And if that's a gold-rimmed charger under the salad plate? Expect to pay up to $9 per charger (that's $1,350 for 150).

After my clients get over the initial sticker shock and stop hating me, they ask how they can achieve a similar look without murdering their bank accounts. I suggest picking their favorite aspect of the photo-- the thing that their eye goes to first or perhaps the most unique or unusual item that hasn't been done at many weddings before. Then, I'll help them either source and rent that exact item or find something in the general spirit of that item that is more affordable. 

Next, we'll discuss what, in the image, piques their interest on a broader level: the thick stripes? color combinations? mixture of styles? pops of color with a neutral "base"? metallics and shimmer? multiple interesting textures? Then I'll help brainstorm ways to incorporate those details into reasonably priced wedding decor. Sometimes it'll show up as a recurring element in their printed materials, centerpieces, on their cake or head table, or maybe on their invitations. 

I've been formally trained in design so helping my clients come up with cohesive "themes" for their weddings runs in my blood. I am a superstar with the unpredictable, different, unique, colorful, unexpected and unusual. I'll help you prioritize and tell you the honest pros and cons of certain details and help you pick items with the best R.O.D.I (Return On Design Investment); like, did you know that most of your guests will open your wedding invitation with a letter opener or rip it with their finger and will likely miss that envelope liner you spent two days hand cutting? I'll tell you what works and I'll tell you when you're trying to do too much and help you focus and strategize. 

Hire a consultant and a day-of coordinator. I promise it'll be the best money you spend (or don't spend?) on your wedding.