Posts Tagged ‘tight wedding budget’

Wedding Costs: The Average Bridal Budget

I expected that this post would be quick easy to write, and then my thoughts began to run wild.  As I recalled some of the most bizarre, distressing and implausible conversations I’ve had with both clients and potential clients regarding the “B”-word, I realized that talking budget is never easy.  { Truth be told, I am not alone in what I’ve experienced. When the wedding planner convention comes to town, stories about wedding budgets will be shared.}

Wedding Budget Advice

My best advice regarding a wedding budget is: have one.  The second piece of advice is: be sure it’s realistic.  This is where things get a bit sticky.  “Why?” you ask.  Because realistic is a subjective term – that’s why.

It’s always interesting when people ask me how much I think their wedding will cost.   Or conversely, they will ask if $XXX is enough to cover their wedding.  Seriously – it happens all the time, and typically on the first phone call.  It’s an impossible question.  “Why?” you ask.  Because I don’t have nearly enough information about the client’s situation or expectations to provide a reasonably accurate or relative answer.   Occasionally we receive the answer that every event planner loves to hear: “We don’t have a budget” or “Money is not an object”.  Unfortunately,when we ask if they are comfortable with a 100k working budget, more often than not, they answer no.

All weddings are not the same.  Even if you had two weddings with the same number of guests at the same location the final tabs would likely not even be close because there are so many variables.

I wanted to share this nifty wedding trivia and bridal budget infographic.  It highlights some average costs which I find to be pretty much in line with typical central Florida wedding expenses.  Can you have a wedding in Central Florida for less than $26,984? Absolutely!  Is it possible that you wedding will cost more than $26,984?  Absolutely!

True Cost of Wedding Infographic

click to view larger

Getting Started

Before you can do anything, you need a figure to start with.  Most planners with a few years experience have developed a few budget calculating tips.  For example:  Take a look at that number of $194 per guest.  $194 multiplied by 50 guests is not the same wedding as $194 multiplied by 150 guests.   While a smaller guest list will, or should I say can, result in lesser food and beverage costs, other expenses (DJ, photographer, wedding gown) will remain constant – meaning they are unaffected by guest count.  That being said, I can tell you my thoughts on what I think $194 per guest will buy you, and you can let me know if that’s what you had in mind.  (Alas, that’s where the free advice ends.)

I think people are reluctant to give a budget figure because they have some impression that the planner will make them over spend or charge a higher fee.  This could not be further from the truth.  An ethical planner is looking out for the client’s best interests, regardless of their budget, and wants every client to have the best wedding or event they can afford.

© 2011 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

31

05 2011

Extreme Chic on a Shoestring – Are you saving or sacrificing?

“We’re on a tight budget.”

Yes, I know (but I don’t say it out loud). Times are tough, money is tight, and everyone is trying to save a buck. But lately, I’ve been hearing this way too much.
BigLots-Cart
And you wouldn’t believe the trends I’m starting to see! Flower-less centerpieces, DIY linen installations, sub-par vendors, and more! It sounds funny, but in the end, it’s really not.

Maybe you’d like to poll the guests from a recent wedding that I coordinated (notice I said coordinated, NOT planned). The bride contacted me to help her with the reception design and we put together a great look for her. However, she insisted that she wanted the reception to be ‘cocktail style’ – meaning that she wanted the guests to mingle – therefore she only ordered 100 chairs for 200 people…. Hmmmm…. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

“What’s your budget?” I ask. Rarely do I receive a truthful answer, that is, until I quote a price. It’s not a problem because I know my services are not inexpensive. I charge what I’m worth: I’m an educated, experienced, nationally recognized industry professional. I work with clients and couples who realize that what I bring to the event planning process is more than the ability to create a memorable day – I help them create amazing and memorable moments. I am a specialist; it’s like comparing stitches to brain surgery. Shopping Cart

Anyway, I do appreciate that many people are on a budget. Whenever possible I do the best I can to meet them where they’d like to be. After all, I love what I do, so for me there’s a lot more to it than the paycheck.

In a previous post, I wrote about how Brides and Grooms can protect themselves while shopping for vendors. Check it out – there is a lot of good advice there. This post centers on something different; it’s about being realistic. There seems to be a trend towards style over substance. Let’s go back to my story about the bride with the 200 guests. Do you think those guests cared how good the room looked when they realized they might have to stand for the rest of the evening? Nope – they bailed at their first opportunity. Do you think they felt valued and appreciated? Nope.

It’s my responsibility to tell my clients if something won’t work, or doesn’t work well. I educate them. What I’m seeing lately is so many people (future brides and grooms, potential clients) who are out of touch with what things cost being serviced by vendors who want to say yes (because they need the business) – this is not exactly a recipe for success.

My free advice for today is this: If you truly can’t afford the wedding of your dreams – put it off and save more money. If you want to save an extreme amount of money without cutting corners, scale back your guest list, move up your wedding date and consider a week-day event. Also, if you’re planning a wedding or special event be a good host! – that’s just good manners.

Whose Your DJ? [Thoughts on Weddings and DJ Entertainment]

ipod-djThis weekend, I had the pleasure of working with a cute young couple who had a very tight wedding budget. I was confronted with a few challenges while coordinating their wedding, not the least of which was the fact that the friend who officiated their wedding was also playing the role of DJ/MC. And while I must commend the bride and groom for their efforts in organizing a complete playlist of music for the evening, here are some of the glitches we encountered:
– There was no prelude music for the ceremony
– There was no exit music for the recessional
– The first dance song ended up on the wrong iPod (and we had to track it down)
– The music selections for dinner were a bit unorthodox
– The pre-programmed music selections did not leave any room for ‘playing to the crowd’
…and so on…

Fortunately they had me to help keep things running smoothly, and overall things went very well; the couple had “their day, their way” and they seemed oblivious to glitches.

When I’m wearing my “Day-of” coordinator hat, I must be careful to provide support, not criticism. As a Planner, I would strongly advise against this type of scenario and take appropriate steps to illuminate and eliminate potential glitches. However, when circumstances dictate that I play the hand I’m dealt, that’s precisely what I do. And let’s face it: if the couple could have afforded a wedding planner, they likely could have afforded a professional DJ as well.

Ironically, I returned home to find an email from a colleague who provides exceptional DJ services. Obviously, fresh off a gig and needing to vent – here is his email to me (but it reads more like a plea to Brides & Grooms):
AFFA Wedding-Junction 88
“Elisa – I wonder why brides don’t trust their DJ to play the right music? I have had way too many brides completely program their wedding music to the point that they have had to hear certain songs in a certain order and at certain times.”

“Most good DJ’s have the ability to read the crowd and know what to play when to play it. I understand that you may not want to hear a certain song or songs, but to totally program the entire function, just defeats the purpose of having a DJ. You might as well just bring your iPod. Oh that’s right, you would have to rent the speakers and no one would be able to talk on the mic and introduce you in…”

“If you trust your DJ to do that, then trust him/her to play the right music.
Most of us do this for a living. I personally do 75+ weddings a year, so I may have seen a wedding or two in my life. We don’t want you to be unhappy so we are going to do the best possible job we can. We are going to do a good job, trust us!”

I contemplated the situation he described and couldn’t help wonder why this is so… Where does it stem from? And then a thought occurred to me:

Picture the wedding I described – glitches and all – and then try to estimate how many of the 100 guests in attendance understood the entertainment arrangements. It’s quite possible that a few people (maybe more) were unaware that the DJ was not a hired professional. It’s also possible that an engaged couple or two were present, in which case they were likely wondering what to expect from their wedding DJ… Would they feel the need to dictate the entire evening to ensure their satisfaction? Hmmmm…. yes, I’d say that’s plausible.

© 2009 E. Delgardio All Rights Reserved

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