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5 Wedding Planning Mistakes That Can Make You Go Over Budget (and how to fix them)

By Planning No Comments

A flawless wedding demands attention to detail, and we’re not talking about the details you lovingly curated from Pinterest or your own personal style. The details we’re talking about are not always fun. But these are the details that can make or break yours and your guests’ experience. They can also make or break your budget. 

When you are not aware of the most important details to keep an eye on, you can and most likely will make mistakes that can lead to you going over budget or not having the stress free wedding day you anticipated. After all, that’s why we professionals exist.

Today’s your lucky day though, cause we’re sharing these 5 mistakes and how to fix them with you.

1. Finalize your guest count before venue shopping so you don’t have to start all over once you realize your guest list is too big or too small for your dream space.



It’s easy to get excited about your new engagement and wedding planning. And one of the first things you’ll keep hearing you should book is  your venue.  And yes, while booking your venue should be at the top of your checklist, there is one step that should come beforehand. Establishing and finalizing your guest list.

When you skip the crucial step of creating an accurate guest list, you can end up booking a venue that doesn’t fit all your guests and have to cut your guest list or worse, lose your deposit as you now will have to book a bigger venue.

We often see blogs and planners quote that 10-20% of your guests will send their regrets. This is in fact not true, you cannot count on this when planning a wedding.

Before budgeting and venue shopping, talk to all parties who will be contributing to your guest list and ask them for their final lists. This way you know what your max capacity could potentially be and book your venue accordingly without losing money or sleep on how to make everyone fit.

2. Not budgeting for all the small wedding items that can add up quickly.



Most couples go straight to the big ticket items when creating their wedding day budget: wedding dress, venue, food, flowers, photographer, entertainment, etc. And while these big costs do take up a large chunk of your budget, it’s the many smaller costs that can sneak up on you and send you over budget by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Here’s a list of commonly overlooked budget items:

  • Postage for invitations
  • Thank you notes
  • Wedding rings
  • Hair and Makeup
  • Wedding Dress Alterations
  • Cake topper
  • Shoes
  • Marriage License
  • Printed items (menus, table numbers, programs, bar signage)
  • Vendor Meals
  • Wedding Party getting ready food
  • Post Wedding dress cleaning / preservation
  • And venue required permits
  • Accessories
  • Vendor Gratuities
  • Pre or post wedding hotel room

To avoid this, take a closer look at your budget to make sure you’re including everything from the big ticket items to the overlooked smaller budget items on the list above. If you’re missing anything, add it on now so there are no budgeting surprises.

3. Waiting until the last minute to buy your wedding dress can result in additional costs that quickly add up.



Wedding gown shopping is a very different experience from running to the mall and picking up a new cocktail dress. Not only is dress shopping a special one-of-a-kind experience, but it’s one that can take time.

Yes, some brides ‘say yes’ to the first dress, but most ladies visit multiple salons before finding their dress.  

And once you’ve found the dress, depending on if you’re buying ready made or from a salon, it can take 6-8 months for some dresses to be made. And remember there’s still time needed for alterations after receiving your physical dress.

When you wait until the last minute to choose a dress, rush fees of an additional 10-15% just for production of the dress, plus additional rush alteration fees can  add up quickly putting your dream dress now over budget.

To avoid extra costs, give yourself plenty of time to dress shop and find your wedding day gown. If you have a short timeline, consider a ready made, off the rack or online dress that requires less alterations and doesn’t require rush fees to be made. 

4. Take the time to thoroughly review all vendor contracts and quotes so you don’t miss any hidden fees or worse sign off on the wrong date.

 

Wedding vendors are often working and quoting multiple clients at any given time and details can get lost. Some vendors excel at being organized and tracking the details, while others are artists and a bit less tidy with the details. When important details like rates, dates and more are overlooked, it can result in unanticipated additional costs and extra time.

For instance, what if you sign your contract for the wrong date with a photographer and on your actual wedding date they’re already booked? You now either have to have every other vendor change date or spend time looking for a new wedding photographer.

This is why it’s important to always closely review any vendor contracts and quotes you receive. Check that all names, dates and locations are correct as well as hours of service. Reconfirm that hours of service match your wedding day timeline so you don’t incur any overtime on your wedding day.

5. Forgetting to Ask Your Venue About Hidden Fees


Hidden fees are one of the planning details that most planners are super familiar with, but couples can struggle to understand and account for. Things like service charge, tax, gratuity, overtime and more can quickly add up to thousands of dollars and throw your well planned budget off whack.

To avoid this common mistake, ask your venue the following questions so you can rework your budget as needed before signing on the dotted line.

    1. Ask for estimates with all fees included. Does your estimate include all additional charges like service charge, tax and gratuity?
    2. Is gratuity optional or required? If optional, what is your suggested gratuity amount for your staff?
    3. Additional Overtime Fees. Are there any additional fees for staff for overtime if we go over a certain number of hours?
    4. Ask about additional logistical charges. Are there any additional charges for logistical items? Parking permits, valet, lighting, sound etc?

TL;DR

 

  • Establish your guest list first. Wait on venue shopping and budget building until you know exactly how many guests could be attending your wedding. The gust list directly impacts both venue and budget decisions.
  • Remember to budget for the small stuff.  Items that may sound small and insignificant to your budget can quickly add up to a significant amount. Make sure to include commonly overlooked items from our list above to keep from going over budget.
  • Don’t wait to go to dress shopping. Depending on the dress you fall in love with, it can take time to be ordered and made. And this doesn’t even account for alteration time needed too. Nobody likes to pay rush fees when they didn’t have to, so start dress shopping early.
  • Thoroughly review vendor quotes and contracts. Vendors are people and people make mistakes, so take the extra time to make sure all quotes and contracts match up as well as important information like date, location, hours of service and your names.
  • Finally – Ask about hidden fees. Extra fees from venues and caterers can quickly add up and put you over budget. To avoid this from happening, ask that all potential additional fees are included in your estimates whether they’re optional or not so you can budget accordingly.

Compare Your Top Wedding Venues Accurately

By Planning, Vendors, Venue No Comments

We tell our couples to think of their wedding venue as an extension of their home. Choosing a venue that fits you and your style is an important part of feeling good on your wedding day. 

Oftentimes, we hear from couples that they have wedding venue fatigue. And what they mean by fatigue is:

  1. They find there are almost too many venue options in their area.
  2. They are tired trying to figure out how to compare venues equally in order to make the right decision for them and their budget.

Your venue is a big deal

Your venue is typically one of the bigger ticket items on your wedding budget. If you’re hosting a hotel wedding or a wedding at a venue that also provides the food and bar, then it will most definitely be your biggest wedding day expense. 

This is why it’s so important to know how to compare all the venues you visit and see on an equal playing field.

In this post, you’ll find the questions to ask and items to look out for as you’re determining which wedding venue is right for you.

Location Location Location

Many times couples skip over considering the venue’s location and go straight to budget, but the venue’s location not only affects your budget, but guest arrival and departure experience as well.

Central location matters

This is something you’ll want to consider if you have a guest list full of out-of-towners. Choosing an easy to get to and centrally located venue creates ease in the minds of your guests before they’ve even arrived to your wedding.

As you compare venue locations check for the following:

  • How easy is it for your guests to get there.
  • What is the parking situation? Is there on site parking, valet or nearby parking available? One of the most frustrating guest arrival experiences is arriving at a wedding only to find out that there is no parking available on site or nearby and so they end up arriving late.
  • If the venue is in a remote location, what are the transportation options available? Can you book a shuttle for guests or is there plenty of on site parking? Can Uber or Lyft get there easily?

As arrival and departure are the first and last memories of your wedding night, you’ll want it to be a breeze for your guests to come and go so their focus can be on how spectacular your wedding was.

Venue location affects your budget.

There are a few ways that your venue’s location can affect your budget and you’ll want to keep this in mind as you’re comparing your top choices.

  1. Do you have to provide transportation to/from your venue for your wedding party and guests? If so, this can quickly add up depending on the number of people you need to shuttle around.
  2. If your venue is farther away or less centrally located, you may incur higher delivery costs on rentals and possible travel expenses for your vendors.

Choosing a venue for it’s location does matter for both your budget and your guests.

The Numbers

As you continue your venue shopping you may notice that each venue quotes their rates in a different way. Some quote based on package prices, some quote based on food & beverage minimums while others, may do something else entirely different.

What’s important isn’t how they quote, but knowing how to put the numbers they give you into a spreadsheet or format where you can compare their fees and pricing side by side. By fully understanding each venue’s pricing structure and how it fits into your budget, you’ll be able to sign on the dotted line with confidence.

Breaking down pricing.

  1. Choose how you want to compare venue pricing:
    1. Per person pricing
    2. Overall food & beverage cost
  2. Once you’ve established how you want to standardize each venue’s quotes, it’s now time to start doing some math and plugging in the numbers.

Per Person Pricing

Here’s an example of how to standardize quotes into per person pricing for budget comparison purposes. This is based on a guest count of 100 to keep the math simple.

Venue 1 – Has given us a price of $15,000 minimum food & beverage spend
Venue 2 – Has given us a price of $95 per person for food & beverage
Venue 3 – Has given us a price of $75 per person, but a minimum spend of $10,000

Location

Notes

# of Guests

Cost PP

Total

Venue 1

Take $15,000 and divide by guest count of 100

100

$150

$15,000

Venue 2

Take guest count and multiply by $95

100

$95

$9,500

Venue 3

Take guest count and multiply by $75

100

$75

$7,500*

*In the case of Venue 3, based on your guest count, you do not meet the minimum spend so will need to add on additional food & beverage to meet $10,000. So really with 100 person guest count, your per person spend will be $100 to meet the minimum.

Overall Food & Beverage Cost

To compare your estimates based on food & beverage spend, use the same chart above to multiply or divide quotes using your guest count so you can see your total cost line by line for each venue.

IMPORTANT Taxes, Service Charge and Gratuity Warning

Keep in mind as you’re calculating that some venues include all their tax, gratuity and service charge rates while others do not. When comparing pricing, it’s important to know what these rates are as they can easily add up to or surpass 10-20% in additional costs and sometimes make what seemed like a cheaper venue be more expensive or equal to another.

Building on the chart above, here’s what should come next. Add a column to estimate additional tax, gratuity and service charges and ask your venue contact what those percentages are. Bundle them together for the sake of your initial estimate. 

Here’s a sample below to illustrate this step:

Location

# of Guests

Cost PP

Subtotal

Tax, Gratuity, Service

Total

Venue 1

100

$150

$15,000

20%

$18,000

Venue 2

100

$95

$9,500

30%

$12,350

Venue 3

100

$100

$10,000*

25%

$12,500

Knowing What’s Included

Comparing the food, beverage and additional service percentages are fine and all, but you’ll also want to consider what each venue includes. If you’re leaning towards a venue with a lower food & beverage total, you’ll want to follow-up by asking what they provide.

Forgetting to ask this can result in thousands of dollars of additional and perhaps unplanned rentals and costs.

Ask:

  • Is all the serving ware provided by your venue for this price?
  • Are tables and chairs provided complimentary or are they an additional cost?
  • Ask about napkins and linens as well. What do they look like and are they provided?
  • Is there anything I will likely want or need that is not included in the price you’ve quoted me? (ie lighting, staging, etc)

Beware of Hidden Extras

In addition to asking what’s included, you’ll want to finish things off with inquiring if there are any additional fees that have not been mentioned. 

Some of the most common additional fees are:

  • Ceremony or location rental fees
  • Fees for all day set-up or next day load-out
  • Staff overtime fees
  • Parking fees
  • Cleaning fees
  • An on-site coordinator fee and overtime for them

Once you’ve covered all the information above with your venue contact, add additional columns to your comparison so you can tabulate everything and truly compare your top venue’s cost side by side.

Conclusion

After reviewing this post, you should be able to compare your top venue estimates apples to apples. When you can make a fair comparison, you should be able to make an educated decision on not only which venue is right for your budget, but for your guests’ experience as well. 

As you start researching and comparing your venues, remember to refer back to this blog post if you forget what you should be asking or the information you need to gather in order to make an informed decision.

How Much Time Do You Really Need to Plan A Memorable Wedding?

By DIY Wedding Tips, Planning, Vendors No Comments

Some couples prefer a long engagement, while others opt to say “I Do” quickly within a few months or less than a year being engaged. And as you scour the internet for timelines to help whiz you through a condensed planning process, you may find it difficult to discern which tasks will provide the best ROI for your time and resources.

Yes, you can efficiently plan your special day in a short period of time and on a budget, but the secret is spending your limited time to really review the key decisions that will most affect your overall wedding day, budget and guest experience. Everything else is as they say, fluff.

In fact, many professionals often plan 300+ guest weddings in 3 months or less. The only difference is that they already know how to navigate the lengthy and detailed planning process. 

No longer are the steps Wedding Pros take a mystery. Below you’ll find your cheat sheet for making key wedding planning decisions. This will speed up your overall planning process and is ideal if you’re hoping to plan your wedding in 6-9 months.

What you’ll learn:

  • Most important tasks to tackle
  • Biggest budget impacts
  • Creating lasting memories for you and your guests
newly engaged

Most Important Tasks to Tackle First: (As soon as you’re engaged/6-9 months)

Wedding planning on a tight schedule is possible, but keep in mind that you may be limited on some of your options and have to make faster decisions. In a previous blog post, ‘Where People go Over Budget by Vendor’ you’ll find the questions to ask to vet your vendors. This will be extremely helpful for you to cut to the chase in your planning and be able to hire the right vendor team quickly.

You’ve said yes! Now it’s time to start meeting and speaking with the vendors below These are the ones who can book up fast, so it’s important to ensure they’re all available on the same date.

wedding venue

Start With Finding Your Venue

  • Check dates, availability and pricing right away. You’ll want to have what’s available on hand as you talk to your other important vendors below. 
  • Ask how many dates you can hold without a commitment, then place the most desirable dates on hold.
  • Compare against your budget, then start negotiations.
  • Before signing, make sure your desired date works with your other top vendors.
finding your wedding photographer

Choosing Your Photographer & Videographer Comes Next

Couples hire their wedding photographer and videographer based on their look and style. These vendors often only shoot one wedding on any given day. If you have your heart set on a particular vendor, you’ll want to reach out right away to check availability as it may affect your venue and more.

Hiring Music/Entertainment should be Your Next Vendor Hire

Again, DJs and Bands play one gig an evening. As your date closes in, there may be limited availability with entertainment options, so you’ll want to start finding your DJ or band right away.

Saying Yes to the Dress Takes Time – Plan Ahead

If you’re not ordering ‘off the rack’ or ready made, a wedding dress can sometimes take months to be ordered and made. And this doesn’t even include the time it takes to search and try on your dress. On top of all this, you’ll need enough time to schedule 2-3 fittings prior to your wedding so your dress will look as if it was made for you. So add dress shopping to the top of your wedding planning punch list.

What Comes Next (3-6 months prior to your wedding)

Most of the vendors below can easily service multiple events in a day or are items with more leeway. If you’re hosting your wedding in a remote destination, then tackle the list below as soon as possible too.

  • Florist
  • Invites – perhaps consider an e Save the Date
  • Wedding Cake
  • Caterer
  • Rentals
  • Linens
  • Groom’s Attire

Keep in Mind These Biggest Budget Impacts:

Once again check out the blog post ‘Where People go Over Budget by Vendor’ to see how each vendor estimate can affect your budget. Since you have to make quicker decisions to get things done in time, it’s important to keep track of some of your biggest ticket items to stay within budget.

  • Venue and Catering – This tends to make up 40% or more of your budget, so don’t rush this decision and make sure the numbers work.
  • Vendor Meals – Depending on how many people are working your wedding day, this can increase your food & beverage tab and affect your budget.
  • Food & Beverage ++ – This is tax, service charge and/or gratuity which quickly adds up to 20-30% on top of your quoted estimates. Make sure this is included in any estimates you receive from your food & beverage vendors.
  • Photographer & Videographer Hours – Sometimes these vendors don’t quote you enough hours to capture your wedding day and overtime can quickly add up. 8-10 hours is the suggested amount.

Remembering Special Touches for Lasting Memories:

You may be planning your wedding on a condensed timeline, but that’s no reason to miss out on creating a memorable day for not only you, but your guests as well. Download our free guide 5 Things Your Guests Will Remember About Your Wedding to include these affordable special touches.

A couple of our favorites from The Guide:

  1. Ceremony Beverage Station – Your guest’s first impression as they arrive at your wedding.
  2. Desserts – Because there is no better way to celebrate than with cake and desserts!
  3. And there’s 3 more in The Guide with affordability tips, expert questions, worksheets and more.

Now you know the secret to planning on a tight timeline like a pro. What’s most important is knowing what to tackle first so you can make the most of your short planning time frame. Most couples run straight to the flowers or other items that actually are not the priority in planning a wedding in less than a year or even 3 months.

Once you have the important pieces in place, so you can start finding your secondary vendors and finishing your planning.

Keep in mind at all times, even though you are making your decisions quickly, it’s still important to vet your vendors and know that you are making these quick decisions within your budget. There’s always time to slow down to double check numbers and details.

And lastly, quick wedding planning does not mean a less memorable wedding. Even with your condescended timeline in place, there are still so many ways to pepper in memorable guest experiences.

Now off you go, start tackling the key planning items!