As a wedding planner for the past 16 years, I've seen so many trends come and go. But one thing remains constant - most brides & grooms want a day that transcends all others, one that totally symbolizes their love and shows it to those around them.
Let's face it - weddings are expensive. The national average for a nuptial celebration is $30,000 - which includes expenses for a ceremony and reception for approximately 140 people and this number is exclusive of attire, wedding rings or a honeymoon. Having a great wedding celebration has a lot to do with the priorities you establish, where you're located, the size of the guest list, the time of day - and the time of year. Since we are in a troublesome economy, let me give you a few "tips" on having a great wedding, at a price you can deal with.
1) Feeding People Costs Money - I'm Just Sayin'.....
You have to make your money work for you and become creative with your spending when it comes to food. For instance - you could decided to get married on a Saturday morning (like 9 a.m.) and have a old-fashioned country breakfast for 50 guests in the church hall afterwards. Bacon, eggs, waffles, grits and orange juice are much less expensive then Chicken Piccata & Wild Rice. On the flip side - you could do a late evening wedding ( starting at 8 p.m.) with dessert and sparkling wine to follow. Think 2-3 hours max, with the potential of serving luscious treats, some mellow jazz in the background and lots of socializing, with you and your groom mingling with your guests.
2) The Totem Pole:
When funds are tight - I always recommend that people clearly spell out in the beginning what is most important to them, and what is least important. That is how you'll spend the money well. Not wild about flowers? That's fine. Wearing a dress that you've dreamed of for a lifetime? If it's important - so be it. Dancing the night away to a D.J. who can seriously "rock the house"? Go ahead and make that happen - because it matters to you in the grand scheme of things.
3) But I Want EVERYBODY To Come:
Do not decide on a 30 person wedding party and 300 guests - then tell me that your budget is $10,000 for EVERYTHING. I am a realist - and I'm here to tell you that it's not going to happen.
4) You Can't Pick Your Relatives:
Do not hire family members to perform professional services for your wedding UNLESS they are a true, licensed business. I can tell you horror stories about people who did this and subsequently mangled their relationships. Let your family be the guests and hire independent companies to provide your services.
5) DO NOT GO INTO DEBT:
Period. Don't raid your savings or 401-K's or take out a home equity line of credit. It is not necessary. If you manage your money wisely and prioritize your wants vs. needs, you can still have a wonderful event and not be in the poor house afterwards.
6) Seek Advice From A Wedding Planner:
This is the one way to critically assess what can and cannot happen for your big day. You see, people like me know the business inside and out - we are trained professionals who can sit down with you and help map a course that will land you on the shores of "happily ever after". We are not a luxury and we are not only for the wealthy. A good, professional wedding planner can show you ways to actively manage your budget, create an amazing look for the day and keep your stresses to a minimum. Notice I said "professional planner" - I'm not talking about the lady at the church or your momma's friend who just "loves coordinating weddings". I'm speaking of the person who is trained in the industry and for whom this is their profession - not a side hustle.
If you've ever watched me on "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" then you know I shoot straight from the hip and I tell it like it is. I love helping brides and grooms have the day they envision, but at the same time - I have to keep it real. That brand of "honesty" helps my client put an authentic stamp to their nuptials, but also allows them to LIVE once all of the champagne is gone and the cake is cut.......