Thursday, December 19, 2013

Budget Breakdown

This month's issue of Brides Magazine had a great breakdown of the "average" pricing that brides spend on wedding related items and since this is one of the first questions we review at planning sessions, I thought I'd share- Please keep in mind that these are averages/estimates so the numbers might be totally off for your region.  My feedback, the percentages seem right but the cost seems low in most of the areas.  

Venue, Catering & Rentals
$11,599 (46%)

Photography & Video 
$3,420 (14%)

Gown, Accessories & Day of Beauty
$2,348 (10%)

Flowers & Decor
$1,967 (8%)

Ceremony & Reception Music 
$1,747 (7%)

Event Planner (!!!)
$1,299 (5%)

Invitation Suite & Paper Goods
$806 (3%)

$752 (3%)

Bridal Party Gifts
$538 (2%)

Wedding Cake
$486 (2%)

I think for some of these items, you'll want to priorize in different areas.  You might really need the BEST music ever but not need to import fancy flowers, so your lineup will be different.  Actually, it will probably be different for everyone, but that's a good reason to get yourself a wedding planner so they can help you work through it! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WWW- Realities of being a Wedding Planner

When you tell people that you are a Wedding Planner for a living, what immediately follows is something like this-
"OMG that must be SO fun, I am SO jealous"
Usually that's the response I get from people who have watched a few wedding shows on WeTV or have seen the unfortunate movie "The Wedding Planner" with Jennifer Lopez.  
Quite a few times a month, I'll also get emails from people who are interested in becoming a wedding planner.  
Here are a few things that I wish the person who "dreams" of being a wedding planner knew before moving ahead with that dream.  

You work nights, weekends and summers.  Period.
Why do I have to say "period"? Because, the first issue that seems to come up when people contact me about becoming a planner is that they really don't want to have to work EVERY weekend and that they like their summers off since they want to spend time with their kids, vacation or anything other than work, during the summer.  
This is an unrealistic expectation if you are truly interested in becoming a successful wedding planner.  You work around everyone else's work schedule.  If most of your clients work from 9-5, they can't meet you during that time so you need to have your evenings and weekends open.  Holidays are the second most popular time to meet and while you don't HAVE to meet with anyone when/if you don't want to, if you are serious you need to make time for brides and when they have free time is up to them, not you.  

Not everyone respects you.
Would you even believe this?  When you tell people you plan parties for a living, you might even get the occasional eye roll from some.  Some people just do not take this profession seriously and in turn will not take you seriously when you tell them what you do.  You should accept that now and learn to live with the side comments and eye rolls.  Don't let anyone convince you that you shouldn't be taken seriously.  Running a business of any kind is hard work.  Working with people on one of the biggest days of their lives is serious work.  Not everyone could do it, even if most people think they could.  

Some vendors love you, some don't.
You'll run into this more often than not unfortunately.  While some vendors have learned to appreciate the extra help a planner provides, some just feel like they get in the way.  If they have gotten used to running things their way and making that work, it doesn't help when someone comes in to run things another way.  I've always approached vendors with respect but unfortunately that doesn't happen with all planners, so sometimes we get a bad reputation from the few who insist on being "the boss" instead of being there to help.  We are all in this for the bride but if you are in it for your ego or for the money, you aren't doing it for the right reasons and you won't succeed.  

You don't get paid for everything you do.
Sometimes you just have to do things, that you didn't think of, that you did contract for, that you didn't charge for because it is going to make the difference between a great wedding and a perfect wedding.  It might mean a few extra calls, an extra meeting or an extra contract review.  I'm not saying you let it get out of hand but you'll know when something just has to be done and you aren't going to send a bill for $10 after someone just got married.  Or maybe you are, but at some point you'll be working for your reputation not for the extra $50.  

People can be mean.
By people, I mean wedding guests.  I've had people be outright rude to me because I was enforcing things that the bride had requested.  As far as the guests know you are just some random staff person there who was hired to make sure THEY had a good time, so they don't know to even consider that you've worked with the bride for an entire year to create the perfect vision for her day.  Sometimes even bridesmaids don't want to listen to your advice.  These girls have been friends with the bride since their college roommate days and they do NOT think that you know better than they do. They will be sure to tell you what you are doing wrong and why it won't work.  Not always, but sometimes.  You really have to just smile and nod and go forward with what you know the bride planned.  That's why being VERY detailed and very clear with the bride will always matter.  You need to know what she wants enforced and what she wants ignored.  

It is a messy job.
You don't wear a gown and heels to work a wedding.  You wear comfortable shoes and something dark along with your hair out of the way and did I mention comfortable shoes?  If your plan is to look super pretty, then you ought to consider being a hostess not a planner.  I'm not saying you don't look good but you are on your feet for a minimum of 9 hours for each wedding.  You do NOT sit down as your job is to be up and moving and making sure everything, everywhere is going like it should.  You are typically hot, moving and dealing with setup, food or some kind of last minute changes. 
My attempted uniform is-
Hair pulled back- I come from a food service background so there is nothing worse than seeing people with their hair down, all over the place when they are anywhere near food.
Something black or something that won't show if you get something dropped on it, or if you get too hot.  You don't usually have tons of time to make outfit changes, so plan ahead of time that you may get messy.
Sleeves- Being around food with bare armpits is awful.  Again, food service background.  Unless you are outside and it is 100 degrees, short sleeves are going to be your best bet.
High cut top-I don't think I need to go into detail but you could be bending over and leaning forward quite a bit, use your judgement
Pants or a long skirt- Refer back to the idea of bending over and again, use your judgement You should always think about being comfortable before you think about wearing heels.  If you are comfortable in heels, that's a different story.  
Comfortable shoes are the #1.  If you need to find the most comfortable shoes, ask a wedding photographer.  They spend almost their entire day on their feet, they will always know the best shoes.  If you get blisters half way through the evening, you have to just suffer for the rest of the night and it can be a long night with blisters on your feet.  

So, does it sound as "glam" as you thought?  Trust me, I've just pointed out the parts that I think people seem to forget or ignore, it isn't all bad.  It is better to start with the things you don't want to hear and move from there.  Being a wedding planner IS a dream job for some, I know it is for me!  

Happy Planning 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Very Basic Explanation of RSVP Etiquette (for everyone who has forgotten)

"If you’ve sent an RSVP saying you’ll be at the event, you are obligated to go. If something better or more interesting comes along after you’ve agreed to attend the first event, too bad. Cancelling an RSVP without a good reason is bad form and rude, so if you do this, don’t expect the host to ever invite you to anything again."
Debbie Mayne, Guide

Here is how to RSVP-
1- Receive RSVP in mail
2- Open and review date/time/location of event
3- Review calendar for availability 
4- Respond accordingly 
5- Attend event that you RSVP'd for, regardless of whether something better, different or more fun comes along.

The response time for RSVP's is 24 hours.  Yes, I know that most people are shocked to hear that but yes, 24 hours.  If you review the instructions above, you'll note that these task should only take about 2 minutes, so 24 hours isn't unreasonable.  

We all know if we are/are not available for something by looking at a calendar and reviewing our obligations. It really is that simple.  Even if the RSVP date is weeks away, you can respond sooner, I'm certain that your event host will be thrilled to hear from you sooner.  

Why and where did things go so wrong with people's ability to RSVP? 

Consider this- A bride is planning one of the biggest days of her life and she has thought enough to include you in this big day.  Why are you uncertain about attending?  Do you have an obligation?  Then, immediately and politely decline.  You don't have to give a reason but you certainly should give an answer.  

When a bride is planning her guest list she has to consider the money she is spending and she has considered that YOU were important enough to include, to pay for and to send an invite out to.  The invite alone cost anywhere from $5-$20 dollars, then she's agreed that you are important enough to pay anywhere from $50-$200 for your meal and possibly your guest.  Considering how much she values your attendance, you should make this a priority.  

Now that you've managed to say yes, you do have to show up.  On the day of the event, the money has been spent, the seat, the arrangements and the settings are all there, ready for you.  You can have no valid excuse (outside of illness, death and unexpected work that again OBLIGATIONS) to not attend.  

If you had a hair appointment scheduled, would you miss it?
If you had a golf tee time with a group of friends, would you just skip out on it to stay home?
If you had a doctors appointment, would you just ignore it as it approached?

Did you answer no to any of these questions? Well then you obviously know how to prioritize and stick to a schedule and you have no excuse for missing someone's big day.

So, go through your mail, RIGHT NOW, find any invites you have been putting off responding to and sit down with your planner and decide.  If the person who has invited you isn't important enough to make a commitment to, then say no now and don't waste their time.  

Let's bring back the dying art of common decency, politeness and prompt responses to request from friends and family.  

Happy Planning! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Budget Tracking made Fun!

There are 100's of forms, sheets and documents for keeping track of your budget as you go through the planning process but none as adorable and easy to use as this one!

This might be the first thing that was created to make spending money fun!!

Happy Planning! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wedding Wisdom Wednesday- WWW

WWW- Decisions 

When making decisions during the planning process stop and ask yourself "why?"  Why are you choosing to do things a certain way or to have certain things at your wedding.  If it is because you feel "obligated" to or because "that's the way everyone else does it" then rethink your decision.  This is your wedding and your chance to make it something unique and special to you.  Choose to do things in a way that will be fun, personal and special to your and your groom and you'll be much happier than if you do things because you "have to." 

Happy Planning! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WWW- Wedding Wisdom Wednesday- Photography at your Site.

When searching for a photographer, a good place to look is online.  That is something we are all aware of but WHERE online is the better question.  If you type in "Wedding Photography ...." and the name of your site (Example. Wedding Photographer at Crystal Brook Farms) then you'll get wedding photos that were taken by photographers at your site.  This way you'll see how they work at your site, you'll see other weddings at your site and you'll be able to narrow down your choices.  This is not a fail-proof method so always research your vendors, but it is a way to check out a photographer and your wedding site in the same search!

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wedding Wisdom Wednesday- Priorities

Before you start planning out your budget, plan out your priorities.  Figure out what is the most important part of your day (band, entertainment, food) and what is the least important to you and THEN budget your money accordingly.  If you don't do this ahead of time, you might end up spending all your money on something you and your fiance don't actually see as something important to your day.  

Happy Planning!