WEDDING BUDGET TIPS

So you have come up with your wedding budget, the funds have been allocated across the board, and you’re ready to start planning (and purchasing) away! Let me be the first to congratulate you on getting to this point because I see so many people jump into wedding planning without truly understanding how much they have to spend. You’ll face a lot of frustration later on down the road if you you don’t set financial limits and expectations from the beginning. Check out my previous post on what to discuss once you're engaged to help set you in the right direction!

Now, if you’ve gotten to this point and you’re ready to roll I want to share a few budgeting tips with you. I think anyone can benefit from keeping these pointers in mind regardless of how much they have to spend on their wedding day. 

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KEEP A CUSHION FUND

Having a small reserve of your budget set aside for those “just in case” scenarios is always wise. You can be extremely pro-active with your budget from the beginning and situations will still come up that nickel and dime you along the way - it’s inevitable. Of course having a wedding planner in your corner will help avoid a lot of these financial annoyances, but I still advocate for a small cushion fund to ease the blow in case something unexpected does happen.

INVESTIGATE REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

I’m by no means telling you to go into debt for your wedding day! But if you and your fiancé have set your financial limit and are responsible enough to pay things off as you go, then I highly recommend looking into a credit card with great travel benefits. The points you accumulate during your engagement can go towards your honeymoon airfare and that is a huge savings!

Not only can you make your vendor payments with the credit card, you can put other wedding related expenses on there as well. I was recently at a bachelorette party and one of our girlfriends on the trip was planning her wedding. She would pay for all of our meals and outings on her card (to get the points) and we would immediately divide the check and venmo her our share so she could pay it off. By the end of the trip we were all shouting, “For the points!” each time a waiter brought us our bill. It was hysterical but also a great financial move on her part!

SELECT A VENUE THAT DOESN'T BREAK THE BANK (So you can splurge elsewhere!)

In general, your venue, food, and beverage total should be no more than 50 percent of your overall budget. If the cost of a particular venue is going to blow the majority of your budget then you’ll inevitably have other areas that are financially neglected. I suggest keeping an open mindset during your venue search; with the right amount of preparation and vision you can transform a space into something completely unique and beautiful.

If you’re hosting an at-home or private estate wedding and don’t have a traditional venue cost you won’t necessarily be spending less, your budget will just be allocated a little differently to make up for the amenities and services a traditional venue supplies. While you don’t always save money going this route, weddings at home or in unique spaces are always some of my favorites to work on with my clients!

I hope you find these wedding budget pointers to be helpful as you set out on your planning journey. As always, feel free to reach out if you are in need of wedding planning services! I love helping couples allocate their budgets!

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THE FIRST THREE THINGS TO DO ONCE YOU'RE ENGAGED

Congratulations! You're engaged and everything about life just got a lot more exciting. The first thing you need to do is pour yourself your drink of choice and enjoy this special time before you get your gears turning about wedding plans too much. Tell friends and family, have an engagement party, stare at your beautiful new ring for hours, however it is you want to celebrate I think you should celebrate away.  

Once you've got that taken care of I'm sure there will be a million things running through your mind. Often times I see couples jumping into planning worrying about the wrong things first. Trust me when I say this will lead to some frustration later on down the road, and I want to help you avoid that at all costs.

Below are three topics to discuss from the very beginning of the process that will set you up for success for the remainder of your engagement. They do this because they create a solid foundation for your wedding day and help navigate the many other decisions to follow. So here is where I suggest beginning...

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DISCUSS YOUR PRIORITIES TOGETHER

I think before you begin anything you and your fiancé should sit down and have a real discussion about what you would like out of your wedding. What are your goals for your wedding? How do you want it to feel? How do you want your guests to feel? etc. Being open and candid about the "big picture" of your wedding day will help you define some priorities, and these priorities along with other things like the budget (more on that in a minute) will guide you through your entire planning planning process.

My suggestion is to come up with your "Top Three" priorities and keep those at the forefront of the decisions you make throughout planning. If you come to a roadblock down the line and you're having trouble deciding between two options, analyze which one is in line with your original priorities and go from there.

DISCUSS YOUR WEDDING BUDGET

Planning a wedding is an emotional process and dealing with money can be a stressful process, so the more you outline from the beginning the easier it is to keep your emotions under control.

It is likely that the money you have to spend on your wedding will be coming from multiple sources. Whether that be you and your fiancé, family members, parents, etc., you need to have a clear understanding of the amount you will be budgeting regardless of where the money is coming from. If you and your fiancé are contributing make sure you come together on a number you are comfortable with and set that limit. Talk with the family members who will be contributing or paying and be clear on what you will be working with. Once you have had the necessary discussions and the budget has been set you can then move forward allocating those funds.

DISCUSS YOUR GUEST LIST

The last major topic to cover after you get engaged is your guest list. Having a clear sense of the number of guests you will be inviting is extremely helpful (and probably necessary) before you move forward with other tasks like finding a venue. Some things to consider are:

  • Roughly how many guests will be coming from your side vs. your finance's side? 
  • The type of atmosphere and ambiance you would like to create. Big party vs. intimate gathering, etc.
  • Will you be allowing plus ones? Children?
  • Of those potential guests how many are in-town vs. out-of-town?

Knowing a number of potential guests is important information from the very beginning. It can be a frustrating task, but remember to stick to your original priorities and invite people who you want to join in on the celebration with you, not just those you feel you “have to” invite. Once you have your rough draft list begin collecting addresses and other important information so you aren’t rushing to gather all of it right when you calligrapher or stationer needs them for your invitations.

I can promise you that if these three topics are discussed from the get go (and you stick to your decisions!) you will feel better prepared to tackle everything else that comes along with planning a wedding. And needless to say, once you have a clear sense of your priorities, budget, and guest list size it’s also a perfect time to hire a wedding planner!

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ANNIE & JARED'S MOUNT LEMMON ENGAGEMENT SESSION

There are not enough good things in the world to say about this couple. Working with Annie and Jared in the months leading up to their recent wedding at The Royal Palms was a true joy - the kind of interaction that made me love what I do even more. Naturally there's so much anticipation and excitement right before a wedding day, but the goodbye after is one of the hardest parts that people don't always talk about in this industry. I just loved these two so much, and the love they were surrounded by at their wedding was infectious. Annie and Jared, thank you so much for letting me and my team be a part of it with you! 

And while I anxiously wait to see their beautiful wedding photos, I'll just continue to look through their gorgeous Mount Lemmon engagement session with Lexi Moody Photography instead - lucky me!

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MAKING YOUR RECEPTION SEATING ARRANGEMENT

Creating table assignments can rank up there as one of the most frustrating, argument inducing, let's-just-go-elope-instead parts of wedding planning. Naturally it comes at the very end of the process when you are ready to just do the dang thing already, but instead you're sitting at home waiting on your last RSVPs to come in (when the due by date was a week ago) so you can figure out where to put everyone. Trust me, I get it, that is why I am here today to help save you from that misery as much as possible. 

Phoenix Wedding Planner tips for making a seating arrangement

As a planner I truly never want any aspect of preparing for your wedding to make you feel this way. But as much as I wish I could take the burden from you and do the seating arrangement myself (I oddly enough enjoy the giant game of Tetris that it is), I don't know your great aunt from your college roommate so what you would end up with probably wouldn't work. Let's face it, you're never going to please everyone and at the end of the day guests really shouldn't care where they sit because they are there to support you. So don't lose too much sleep over the matter and put these tips in place and everything will work out just fine! 

Wait until you have received all RSVPs

I don’t advise beginning your seating arrangements until you have received everyone’s responses first and know your final headcount. There will be people who don’t send their RSVP in by the requested date, so make the necessary phone calls to see if they are able to attend or not and then begin working on placing them at tables. 

Assigning tables vs. seats

This is likely a decision you made earlier on in the planning process when you discussed the formality of your event. But my advice is not to assign seats for each guest at the last minute unless you've planned accordingly for it.

While place cards can be a beautiful touch and definitely a part of your table design, I personally believe that you do not need to assign seats unless your caterer requires it or you are hosting a more formal, black tie wedding. Assigning tables will suffice in most cases and is always highly, highly encouraged.

Have a copy of your layout in front of you before you start arranging

I find it easiest to have a hard copy of the reception layout in front of you so you know where everything is. Even if the layout is not completely set in stone yet I think it helps to have a visual reference and understand the general flow of the space. 

Tip: Don’t seat elderly guests too close to the band or DJ’s sound equipment.

Start with paper and pencil

Before entering anything into a finalized spreadsheet I find it easiest to put pencil to paper and just draw it out. One of my favorite ways is to get a white poster board, draw out your tables and start arranging names in pencil at each. Another option is to use an index card to represent each table and write each guest's name on the notecards (again in pencil) until you have everyone assigned. 

Alway start with the head table, move on to immediate family and VIPs, then so on through your extended family members, friends and other guests until you are satisfied. And don’t be afraid to mix and match guests and groups of people, it makes it more exciting and promotes conversation!

Once everything is finalized

After you have created a seating arrangement that works for everyone I suggest typing up a general list of who is sitting at each table and entering each guest’s table number in your main spreadsheet. Both of these will be handy and you need this information to give to whoever is making your escort cards or seating chart. 

Tip: If you are doing escort cards vs. a seating chart make sure the cards are arranged alphabetically by last name before wedding day!

 

While this whole task may seem daunting, I hope what I have outlined helps you in the process!

Photo by: Amy and Jordan Photography 

ETSY WEDDING CAKE TOPPER ROUND UP

I think every bride knows that when all else fails while finding decor for your wedding there is always Etsy to save the day. I have rounded up some cute, whimsical, and unique options for handmade cake toppers each found on that beloved site. Everything from custom bride and grooms that can be made to look like you and your soon-to-be spouse to hearts in various shapes and sizes. Each of these toppers would look adorable in the appropriate setting and style of wedding.

(If you need more of an etsy-fix you can look through my bridesmaid gift round up as well). 

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