Thursday, March 19, 2009

How should a bride spend her money?

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A wedding budget is a very complex thing to put down on paper... I don't know who came up with the approximate percentages that are currently out there, but I feel that they are not accurate for today's bride and are certainly not flexible in terms of venue styles and extras. I thought it would be helpful to spell out how our clients usually spend their money and to mention a few of the add ons that NEED to be considered. The above chart will show you how the following percentages translate to four approximate budgets.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE 45%-55% This should include everything- facility fees, food and alcohol, tax, gratuity. These extras really add up, tax and gratuity can be close to 30% of your total food and beverage so make sure you include these in your overall budget.

EVENT DESIGN 10%-12% Brides today don't realize when they talk about flowers, custom napkin folds, candles, lighting, lounge furniture that they're talking about Event Design, not just about flowers. This is a much more all encompassing total that reflects what brides are looking for today.

RENTALS 3%-5% If you want to upgrade your chairs to Chivaris or add a special linen, this is what you should expect to spend. This covers tableware for a reception venue. If you're working with a TENT, your rentals will significantly increase to 7%-10%. This allows for everything to be brought in- tables, chairs, china, glassware, flatware, linens, napkins, even some equipment for your caterer.

TENT RENTALS 10%-20% This is a significant amount of money, but no one said a tent wedding is less expensive than a reception venue wedding. In fact, they are always MORE money because of the number of items that have to be brought in. Tent rentals can be relatively simple, from your main tent, catering tent and perimeter lights to a fully leveled hardwood floor, marquees to the parking lot, a stage for the band, and the list can go on and on. Other items will increase when dealing with a tent such as tableware rentals, transportation, and don't forget restroom trailers!

RESTROOM TRAILERS 2%-3% If you're having a TENTED wedding, this is something you have to account for. Your house is most likely not prepared for hundreds of toilet flushes and/or the open field isn't the most appropriate place for a ladies powder room. There are many different levels of restrooms to rent, from a port-a-potty to the presidential.

PHOTOGRAPHY 8%-10% Brides will usually splurge more on photography than in any other area of their wedding almost to the point where a % isn't applicable here. I would suggest using this as a guide for your coverage, multiple shooters, and maybe some credit towards your album. Sometimes brides want to spend this % on just the coverage to have their dream photographer and this is fine to do... a good solution would be to spend your money up front on the coverage and wait and save for a year or so for your album. Be up front with your photographer about your financial situation so they know what to expect on the production end of things.

MUSIC 8%-10% Music is also a tricky element to a wedding. Some think their wedding will be ruined without a band while others think an IPOD is an appropriate DJ. You have to remember that there are really 4 sections of your wedding that require music: Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Dinner Hour, Dancing. If the sky is the limit with your budget, consider live music for all aspects of your wedding. If you don't have the budget but really want live music, consider a duo or trio for your ceremony who can play for your cocktail hour and then have a DJ for dinner and dancing. There are many combinations that work here, allowing for a lot of creativity in your musical styles.

VIDEOGRAPHY 3%-5% Ok... I don't know if I really agree with this one as some videographers are just as expensive as photographers but this is a general price range. There are a lot of different packages that are available, some just give you the raw footage, others will edit everything down into a concise 10 minute montage. Look for someone with a similar style to your photographer and remember, less is more here. The last thing you want is a camera with a bright white light chasing you around the dance floor...

CAKE 2%-4% Some brides love the tradition of a cake, others could care less. We see a lot of splurging here too. Expect to pay a premium for any ornate designs or sugar paste flowers. Simple cakes of buttercream with fresh flowers won't cost as much as fondant covered cakes with custom lace patterns to match your dress. All cakes should taste delicious, otherwise you're wasting your money. The sheet cake myth about saving lots and lots of money isn't really that true. Yes the sheet cake won't have any ornate design or sugar paste flowers, but cake costs what it costs. If you have a large amount of guests at your wedding but don't want a large cake, sheet cakes are a great idea. Same concept for saving time... having the cake already cut up in the kitchen is much more convenient for your caterer and more enjoyable for your guests.

FAVORS 1%-2% Brides spend lots of money on favors, not always thinking about their guests and their tastes. Word of advice, don't monogram or date anything for your favors. Your guests won't really want to use something that has your name or wedding date on it... too personal for them. Edible favors are by far the most popular, allowing for creative ways to display and present them to your guests. Candles are passe, as are wine stoppers, mini picture frames, and any type of confetti or tulle netting... sorry to be blunt but it's the truth.

TRANSPORTATION 2%-4% You might not need any transportation, but this should include getting the bride and bridal party to the ceremony and reception as well as getting your guests from their hotels to the ceremony and reception and back at night. You might even need to rent a ferry to get your guests to the reception, so this total has to be well thought out. You can rent limos, town cars, coach buses, trolleys, ferries, airplanes, and even over-the-sand vehicles for very special locations :) If you're dealing with a TENTED wedding, this might increase significantly as your guests will need parking. Valet services should be included in your overall transportation budget.

PAPER PRODUCTS 3%-6% Your complete paper products package should include your Save the Date, Invitations, Menus, Place Cards, Escort Cards, Table numbers, Programs, Thank You Cards, and anything else you might come up with. Definitely a splurge item for those brides who appreciate pretty packages and fabulous printing processes. Don't forget there is a significant difference between the types of printing- thermography being the least expensive to engraving which is the most expensive.

HAIR AND MAKE UP 1%-3% You can choose to do your own hair and makeup, or you can decide to relax and leave it up to the professionals... I would highly suggest the later of the two options on your wedding day. Make up and Hair artists will either have you come to their salon or they will travel to see you. Traveling is more expensive but COMPLETELY worth it. You don't have to worry about traffic, getting lost, people parking etc. You can create a very relaxing area for yourself and your bridal party at your house or hotel, having a pre-wedding party as you get beautified.

CEREMONY/OFFICIANT FEES 1%-2% Sometimes this is a simple donation and other times you're asked to shell out 2-3k to rent a church for 30 minutes. Be prepared up front for custodial fees, parking fees, donations, and musician fees here... usually not too bad in terms of your total but you should be aware of all of your options.

ATTIRE 8%-10% Personally I think this is the hardest % to come up with. Brides will spend thousands on their dresses just because it's THE DRESS, others will spend $100.00 on a simple sheath that looks fabulous on them. The industry standard presides here, just to keep things simple and straightforward.

WEDDING PLANNER >20% As a wedding planner, I don't think we should cost more than 20% of a bride's total budget. Some work off of a %, others work off of a flat fee. Planners are an essential part of the wedding industry, allowing brides to relax and enjoy the process. We make sure everything has been taken care of, loose ends have been tied, and the overall look of the event reflects the bride's vision to the smallest detail. At least that's what we expect of ourselves....

EXTRAS 5% Something extra always comes up, so you should have a bit of money prepared for these items. Maybe you want sparklers or even fireworks. Welcome baskets, custom lighting, a chocolate buffet, or an ice sculpture? The options are endless so you might want to save a bit more for this category.... especially if you're all about the details.

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