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, May 28, 2015

Who pays for what at a wedding? And how to budget that money

The first question I ask my full service or design clients is “what is your wedding budget?”  And more often than not, I get a blank stare, or an “I have no idea.”  I’m not asking to be nosey; I’m asking so I can pair you with the right vendor for your budget (and style, of course!)    A wedding should not put you in debt.  I work with all types of budgets, so I’m not going to turn you away if you’re “not spending enough.”  I just need to make sure what I’m suggesting is within your means.

I frequently feel that “budget” is treated as this dirty word, which no one wants to talk about.  But we NEED to talk about it.  Setting a budget and sticking to it is a healthy way to plan – going into debt by blowing your budget out of the water is stressful and potentially damaging to relationships.  

Bottom line is, you MUST have a budget conversation with your family, so you know who is taking responsibility for which aspects.  Then you can know 100% what your wedding budget will be.

There are very traditional roles of how families spend their money at a wedding.  I’ll list these roles below, but note that nothing is set in stone!  In this day and age, some brides & grooms are paying for their weddings on their own.  Sometimes the groom’s family helps out a lot more than traditions state.  It’s all individualized.  But this list is meant to help you ask the right questions, so you can budget for your wedding effectively.

Helpful Hint when dealing with “gift” money from family – build in a buffer so you don’t have to ask for more money.  10% is a great estimate to cover unforeseen expenses.  So if your family says they’ll give you $40,000 and that’s the ENTIRE AMOUNT you have for your wedding (let’s say you can’t afford another cent), you’ll want to set your wedding budget at about $36,000, so if you see something that you MUST HAVE, you can go over your budget slightly, and your buffer will cover it.
  • Invitations, announcements, and wedding programs
  • Church or synagogue fees
  • Bride's dress, veil, accessories, and trousseau (read: lingerie and honeymoon clothes)
  • Floral arrangements for church (including huppah if a Jewish wedding ceremony) and reception
  • Bouquets and corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls
  • All wedding photos and video
  • All professional services, including food, drink, rentals, decorations, and music at the ceremony and reception
  • Wedding planner/coordinator
  • Wedding transportation of bridal party to and from ceremony and reception
  • Accommodations for all bridesmaids
  • If there is more than one engagement party, bride's family hosts the first one

  • Marriage license
  • Officiant's fee and travel and accommodations if necessary
  • Groom's outfit
  • Bride's bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnieres for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers
  • Plan and host the rehearsal dinner
  • The entire honeymoon
  • If there is only one engagement party, typically this expense is split between bride & groom’s families
  • Accommodations for all groomsmen and groom’s family
  • Transportation for the groom's family and groomsmen

  • Plan and host bridesmaids' luncheon
  • Groom’s ring (sometimes with help from her family)
  • Bride's gifts to her bridesmaid and groom

  • Plan and host bachelor’s dinner
  • Bride's rings (sometimes with help from his family)
  • Gift for groomsmen
  • Attire for groomsmen (only if he wants to)
  • Gift to the bride

  • Plan and host shower
  • Their own attire (including shoes)
  • Gift for the couple (multiple gifts if attending the shower and wedding)

  • Plan and host bachelor party
  • Their own attire (including shoes)
  • Gift for the couple


  • Additional engagement parties or showers
Photo courtesy of Cake Knife Photography:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What is wedding gift etiquette?

How do you know how much to spend on a wedding gift?  Is there really an etiquette to it?  We liked this article, so why re-invent the wheel!  You can read the original article HERE.

By Mitch Lipka  (The author is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)

(Reuters) - When you go to as many weddings as Stephanie Wong does, you need to come up with some guidelines for gift-giving. During the past two years, Wong, 32, who works in marketing for a book publisher in San Francisco, has been to about a half-dozen weddings. She expects to attend three more this year.

The amount Wong spends is all about her relationship to the people getting married, how fancy the wedding is going to be and whether she brings a date.

At a recent wedding of a close friend where she did a reading and went alone, Wong gave the couple $300. At another wedding in her social circle, she skipped the reception and gave $75.

As the wedding season gets into full swing, guests from coast to coast are confronted with the same question: How much should you spend and how should you give it?

Wedding experts agree on a couple of things: the closer you are to the bride or groom, the more you are expected to give, and do not give more than you can afford just because of the expectations.

Defying the "cost-of-the-meal" school of gift-giving, where guests give a gift roughly equivalent to what it cost to host them, Kristen Maxwell Cooper, deputy editor of the wedding-focused website, says location and cost of the reception should not be the burden of the guest.

She offers these guidelines to wedding-goers wherever they might be: A distant relative or co-worker should give $75-$100; a friend or relative, $100-$125; a closer relative, up to $150.

If you are wealthy, are you expected to inflate the gift? No, Cooper says. "If they do, it's because they're just generous people."

Meghan Ely, who has been in the wedding industry for a dozen years, says it is reasonable to give on the lower end if you had to spend a lot to get there.

And, she and Cooper agree, buying items off a registry, where there is one, is a good idea.

"These days, couples are statistically older and more established in their lives so when they register, they are truly asking for things that they need," Ely says. "It really takes the guesswork out of it for the guests."

That's about how it worked out for Melinda Parrish, a 30-year-old model from Washington, D.C. who got married last year in Annapolis, Maryland. Her guests spent an average of $115 off her registry, and most of her friends gave $50-$100. Some who had financial obstacles made gifts or framed photos. One made a charitable donation in their name.

Most of all, she was surprised that about 40 of the 200 guests who attended gave nothing.

Some experts note a trend of couples registering for various elements of their honeymoon, including a night at a hotel, a dinner or an evening of drinks.

It's a request that runs afoul of some, including Peggy Newfield, founder of the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, who recently attended a wedding where the bride and groom solicited unusual presents. "You could check whether you wanted your gift to cover champagne on the plane or in their suite at the hotel, their limo service, dinner in the evening, or whatever," she says.

Her way of responding to the request: "We sent just a congratulation card. There is no etiquette today that defines how crass our society has become."

Cash has even taken a more modern twist - you can send a monetary gift with your credit card. Websites like facilitate the process (for a 5 percent cut of each gift).

The 4,000 gifts given in Tendr's just-completed first year in business averaged $125 nationwide, the company says. Connecticut wedding-goers were the most generous, with an average cash gift of $230.

(Editing by Lauren Young, Beth Pinsker and Andrew Hay)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

HOW TO: Make plastic wine barrels look like wood

You know you're in the right line of work when you still love what you do AFTER hours too!  I love crafting, and I do a bunch of crafting for my weddings.  But I also love working in my yard!  So I combined the two together for this springtime project.

These are rain barrels I purchased at Murdoch's ranching supply, and they were an ugly green color, but the plastic is imprinted with woodgrain texture, so I saw potential.  I started off with the following colors of MATTE FINISH (that's important) spray paint:  Nutmeg, Warm Caramel, Fossil, Espresso & Dark Walnut.  Then I also purchased a can of GLOSS FINISH black spray paint and oil rubbed bronze paint as well, in a quart sized can.  Anything that's supposed to look like wood should be with a matte finish paint, and the gloss & oil rubbed bronze is used on the metal looking parts.  I prefer the 2x coverage rustoleum paint, because it's thick, and it seems to adhere to plastic really well.

The paint colors needed to create the final product Stage one of the project - plastic, unpainted rain barrels
Step 1:  Take the nutmeg paint and paint the wood grain in that color.  You want to hide the green plastic with this step.  Don't worry about covering the "metal" parts of the barrel until step 7!

Paint with nutmeg spraypaintStep 2:  Add vertical stripes of the warm caramel paint.  Don't worry about making them straight - just be spontaneous! 
Paint stripes with caramel paint
Step 3:  Repeat the step above with the fossil colored paint.  Be a bit more liberal with your fossil colored stripes - these highlights give the wood a more natural look.

Spray lines with fossil paint

Step 4:  Now add stripes in Espresso!  Liberal coverage here is very good.  And I tended to concentrate it a bit towards the top and bottom .

Spray barrels with espresso paint

Step 5:  Now it's time to use the dark walnut paint and make it look like wood.  Take your time on this step.  All the other steps were really just quick coverage.  I went back over it a few times, and made sure the stripes of paint from previous steps were visually broken up.   This dark walnut color will be the main concentration of color on the barrel, so be generous with your coverage, but allowing those underlying paint colors to peek through.

Spray barrels with dark walnut paint

Step 7:  My favorite step!  Paint the tops with the black gloss spray paint, and use a smaller brush to add the "metal" ring details with the oil rubbed bronze paint.

Add the ring details using black gloss spray paint and oil rubbed bronze paint.Step 8:  Place the barrel in your yard to start collecting water!  There's no reason to have those ugly rain barrels in your yard when you can buy these for the same price and paint them to look really rustic!  I finished 3 barrels with the paints I pictured above.  The finished rain barrels in placeHappy crafting, everyone!