Professional wedding planning tips + trends + what to do + especially what not to do

Professional wedding planning tips + trends + what to do + especially what not to do

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How booking a Montana destination wedding will save you money

There's a few reasons why this is true (at least in the Missoula & Bitterroot Valley area)

1.  NO SALES TAX!!!!  Did you Montana does not have sales tax?  That means, if most other states have a sales tax of about 6.5% and you were to spend a national average of $25,000 on your wedding, you would save $1625!  So imagine if your wedding budget was more!  But how does this work?
First of all, any purchases you make IN the state of Montana won't have tax assessed.  You may also want to look into signing up for a bank account in Montana, to get a Montana credit card for purchases!  As your wedding planner & representative, I would suggest putting 100% of your wedding budget into a bank account, and getting 2 credit cards.  Keep one card for yourself, and the second card goes to your professional planner.  Even when you make purchases from out of state, you'll want to use your Montana shipping address (our business), and no sales tax is assessed!  When I make purchases locally for supplies for your wedding, it will come directly out of the account as well.  This ensures you maintain the budget because what's in that account is all there is!

2.  Lower cost of living.  It definitely costs less to live in Montana, and frequently, vendor prices reflect that.  I've lived in a lot of different places in the US (Texas, Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Montana, North Carolina, Kentucky, etc.) and I can tell you that Montana is a LOT less expensive!  When I moved from Colorado to Montana, I ended up lowering my own prices significantly, to compete with the local market.  If you can save a little bit with each vendor, it ends up saving you a lot at the end!

Keep in mind, a lot of vendors CHOOSE to live in Montana because of its beauty!  That doesn't mean that the QUALITY of your wedding will suffer.  We do a great job here locally and love what we do. If you're considering a destination wedding, don't travel somewhere with hefty sales tax and expensive vendors - bring your wedding to Montana, and let your guests check off this destination from their bucket list!

How booking a montana destination wedding will save you money

Thursday, March 19, 2015

So your planner can plan. But what else can they do you for you?

What do you look for when hiring a wedding coordinator.  There should be 3 main things to consider:
1. Will I be able to work with this person efficiently (do our personalities mesh)?
2.  Be selfish.  What else can this person do for me?
3.  Is their price reflective of all they are doing for me?

At Events by Autumn, we're talented artists in addition to planners (we know, the whole right brain, left brain thing).  Autumn is a professional graphic designer and a skilled painter.  But even more importantly, Autumn can build things.  What kinds of things, you might ask?  Well, let me share just some of our portfolio below!  (We made everything you see below - paper flowers, invitations, wood products, painted signs, wooden crates, chalkboard art, painted bottles, large event props, etc.)

Roses made out of vintage book pagesCustom wedding invitationswood working as table decor

Props we created for the booth at the wedding fairCow ear tags as table numbers and chalkboard artCustom signs we made with barnwood
Mason jar customized invitationsFree standing signs made specifically for your wedding

We cut logs to create this cupcake displayWe can create simple directional signage out of wood

We can customize photo props for theme partiesWe created this ring toss centerpiece using free bottles we collected and then painted to look vintageCustomized background for a carnival themed dessert display

Customized directional signage

customized directional signageCreative rustic signs for weddings

Log slices turned into chargersWe can customize signs for your wedding needsCustom wooden welcome signs for weddings

We collect bottles from restaurants and repaint them for centerpiecesWe created a special entrance for our elegant Great Gatsby themed partyCustomized photo props for theme events

This brings us to step 3 of hiring a planner - does their price reflect all they can do for you?  With our full service package, the labor for building customized decor and props is completely included.  You only need to pay for the supplies.  And frequently, our brides already have the supplies on hand - they just don't have the time to make what they want.  A TRULY customized wedding, made just for you.

Keep that in mind when shopping other vendors.  What are they able to do to make your wedding a one-of-a-kind affair, while also providing professional planning?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why hire a full service planner? Productivity, stress relief, and more.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of taking a full service client on an array of vendor meetings, and I thought this would be a great opportunity (while it's still fresh in my mind) to talk about this part of my planning services.  It's PERFECT for destination wedding clients, and even some of my local clients prefer for me to set up their vendor meetings for maximum efficiency, and because of my relationships with the vendors!

In this instance, both the bride and groom were from out of state, and so this weekend was the only time they'd be in Montana before the week of the wedding.  So it was vital over this 4 day period to introduce them to as many options as possible, but also give them time to explore, relax, and enjoy their time in Montana.  (We want our clients to still love Montana when they come back for their wedding!)

Over a 4 day time period, we managed to meet multiple caterers, florists, cake bakers, rental companies, and a photographer, DJ, hair dresser, and makeup artist.  We even found time to do site tours of hotels for room blocks, and managed to hit a few breweries to "sample" the potential wedding beverages!  My thoughts were that face to face interactions with these vendors would make the bride and groom much more comfortable with their decisions on whom to hire.

Every hour of every day was filled with activities and meetings, but the couple was relaxed and just enjoyed the days.  It wasn't stressful, because no decisions needed to be made on the spot.  I just want to make this very clear:  PLANNERS DO NOT MAKE DECISIONS FOR YOU.  They merely offer suggestions as to who might be able to provide the best services for what you want!  At one point in time, I was referred to as a "new member of the family" and that's the kind of relationship I hope for - that my clients trust me, can communicate with me freely, and never be fearful of giving me an honest opinion.  That's how the best weddings become the best!

I gave the Bride & Groom the itinerary a week before the trip, so they were able to plan lunches with friends, and take evenings off to explore or unwind.  We started at a reasonable time in the morning, so they could sleep in, eat a big breakfast, and treat their time as a vacation (which is what it was!)  

Keep in mind, all of my vendors are on speed dial, and it allows for the meeting schedule to be flexible if necessary.  Therefore, I was able to make quick adjustments - we even planned a menu tasting with a caterer 3 hours before it happened.  I think the bride & groom would agree with me, that the meetings ran seamlessly, and the vendors I chose to introduce them to were ideal for their style and budget.  

The key to success (I believe), was that prior to the meetings, I had worked with the couple on diagrams for the event space as well as some design boards.  Once I knew what look we were trying to achieve, we had a focused, common idea in mind for all of the meetings.

Setting up vendor meetings is included with my full-service planning packages, and I encourage brides to take me up on it.  Having diagrams and idea boards are great, but bringing your planner along to give suggestions, and ask questions makes your meetings very productive.

Happy planning!

Whiskey barrel bar setup
Rental company meeting was a success!  We found this cool bar.

The original building at St. Mary's Mission
Sight seeing at St. Mary's Mission in Stevensville!

Wedding cake tasting
Tasting cake is one of my favorite things!