Fun Facts: The Big Day

Posted by Kim on Mar 31, 2016

For the final installment of our series sharing the results of our 2015 Newlywed Report, we’re talking about the nitty-gritty details of 2015 weddings. One of the most surprising details we learned in our survey was that nearly three-quarters of couples go over-budget. This just reinforces the importance of setting a budget early on, and using an online tool to help you stay organized. Also, we found it interesting that the average number of wedding guests is 120. How many guests are you having at your big day? Learn more interesting wedding details in the infographic below. And don’t forget to check out our 2015 Newlywed Report for lots of helpful info!


SB15-Pins-budgetPhoto by Michael Segal Photography

We know. Not only is it tricky business to figure out your wedding budget, it’s perhaps even more difficult to stick to it. Not to fear, WeddingWire is here! In our latest SpringBook, we’ve rounded up our top budget advice to help alleviate your stress and enjoy the planning process. From tips from expert planners to money-saving advice for your honeymoon, even ways to help your bridesmaids save money, there lots to learn!

The First Seven Days: To Do and Not To Do

Posted by csancho on Feb 19, 2014

Your Engaged! Hurray!

Now What?

Day 1: If you got engaged during the day then your day starts the day of your engagement, but if you got engaged in the evening or night, then your day one of engagement starts the following morning. On day one, you should NOT start making your list of to-dos. It is way to early! Take a breath. Day dream. DO call your family and close friends and share your good news, but DO NOT forget to cuddle with and stare deep into the eyes of your soon-to-be husband. Day one is a day for excitement and romance.

Day 2-3: On day two and three, you still should be in la-la-land. Giddy, happy, excited, and not worrying about the money. On day two, feel free to start browsing wedding blogs, looking at pictures, and start putting together a wedding inspiration board. If you are on Pinterest, you may already have a wedding board with all the good ideas you have seen over the years, but it is a totally different thing when it is a real wedding you are looking to create. You might want to peruse through that secret wedding board first and pick out what you really like and get rid of the stuff you know you have no interest in realistically doing. Then by day three, start looking at nailing down a color scheme or wedding themes that really speak to you and your relationship. So, DO start looking around and picking out your favorite wedding styles, colors, and themes, but DO NOT think pinning it means it is set in stone and again DO NOT start pricing things out or building your enormous checklist. It is not time to stress out yet.

Day 4-5: Day four and five are questions day. By day four, you should write out a list of questions you have on wedding planning, budgeting concerns, and logistics (i.e. dates). DO NOT think you are going to have the answer to every question by the end of the day, but today is a day to start looking at what it is you are going to need to do over the coming months. After creating a list, circle or start the ones that your are most concerned about and then start asking those questions. This could mean Googling wedding traditions, venue prices, looking for a wedding planner, sitting down with your fiance and discussing a time frame, who you’re going to ask to pay for what, and how involved and who will be involved in the wedding planning and decision making process. Then by day five you may want to meet up with parents or whoever you want involved in the planning process to have an initial planning meeting. If you are meeting with parents, I would suggest keeping it simple. Work off your list and keep it on topic. Write down issues or tasks that get brought up, but DO NOT try to solve every single one. This can be more of a celebratory engagement pre-planning planning meeting. DO start figuring out what goes into planning a wedding , DO develop a working or tentative budget and who is paying for what (It is important to establish this early), but DO NOT try to plan everything in one evening.

Day 6: On this day feel free to look at planning tools, but concentrate on figuring out what your time table is going to be. Pull out your and your fiance’s calendars and start seriously talking dates. This can be tricky because it is tempting to try and accommodate everyone you love around you, but it is important to pick a date that is right for your. Sure, it wouldn’t be the best idea to pick a date that you know is the same as your cousin’s graduation, but don’t take into account Uncle Rod’s work schedule or around your parent’s vacation schedule. Pick a day that works for you and the important people will be there. If you can’t decide on an exact date, then try and narrow it down within a two week time frame. After you pick your date or date time frame, pull out the list of to do’s and questions you generated at your pre-planning planning meeting, and look at what tasks or decisions need to be done by when and create a tentative timeline. This is where your DO want to start working with online planning tools and organization. It may seem way fast to already be nailing down the date by day six of your engagement, but you really can’t do anything until you know when you are going to be getting married.

Day 7: This is appointments day. Taking a look at your time table, call and make appointments for the tasks you need to accomplish first. For example, if you have decided you want to hire a wedding planner, then you need to make an appointment with one. Or, if you have the exact date, then you will probably need to start looking at venues. So, you would need to make appointments for venue tours. After you have set up your initial appointments, gone over your timeline, and set a budget cap, then it is time to relax. DO go out on a date and DO NOT worry about any more planning today!

By day seven, you will not be even close to being done, but if you follow this timeline, then you will have proactively set yourself up to be organized, relaxed, and ready to tackle the challenge of wedding planning. Quite honestly, if you reach day seven with a date set and even the vaguest sense of what you need to do first, then you will be in pretty good shape!

5 Ways to Save Money on Wedding Catering

Posted by Kim on Oct 04, 2013

Erickson_Geatz_Kate_Wenzel_Photography_391_lowPhoto by Kate Wenzel Photography

Sure, your wedding guests are there to see you get married, but they’re also there to celebrate, dance – and eat! One of the biggest expenses of your wedding day will be the catering, so it’s important to set a budget and do your best to stick to it. Here are our top tips on saving money on food and drink.

Choose Hors D’oeuvres Carefully – Cocktail hour is usually held after the ceremony. Guest s will likely be at their hungriest, so while it’s important for food to be plentiful, there’s no need to go overboard with the hors d’oeuvres. We recommend making sure there are at least 5 bites per person, spread out among several different offerings, some passed, some stations. Guests tend to eat more food that’s offered on stationary platters as opposed to passed by servers on trays, so try to serve your most expensive items, like seafood, as passed hors d’oeuvres.  Less expensive foods, like fruit, veggies, and cheese, can be served on stationary platters.

Think About the Bar – Alcohol can be a major budget-buster. If your venue allows you to buy your own alcohol, that can be a great way to save money. You can also skip serving hard alcohol, and just serve wine and beer, or as a compromise serve wine, beer, and a signature drink featuring hard alcohol.

Buffet vs. Sit-Down – or Family Style – It’s common knowledge that serving food buffet style costs less than a sit-down dinner. Depending on the type of food you serve, buffets can get pretty pricey, as guests will eat more and the food needs to be constantly replenished. However, a sit-down dinner is quite labor intensive, as you’ll need enough people in the kitchen and as waitstaff. A good compromise can be to serve dinner family style. Large platters of food will be presented to each table, and everyone can serve themselves. We love the casual feel of this serving style, and it’s very budget-friendly!

Keep It Simple –  When it comes to your wedding cake, don’t go overboard with size or decorations. A simple cake will be the most cost-effective. If you’re having a lot of guests, you can ask your baker to create a small decorated wedding cake, but also have a larger sheet cake on hand to serve.

Serve Brunch – Forget serving dinner, brunch is the most budget friendly meal of the day! For the most part, the food is relatively inexpensive and you don’t need to serve alcohol. And how delicious does a pancake wedding cake sound? Yum!

Find a wedding caterer near you with WeddingWire’s vendor catalog!

10 Effective Steps for Planning a Wedding on a Budget

Posted by jtrumpower on Sep 17, 2012

Guest Post by Sandy Malone, Weddings in Vieques 

Photo: Sandy Malone

Planning a wedding on a budget isn’t rocket science.  It requires discipline and some hard decision-making, but if you have your priorities in order going into it, you’ll find that you can craft an event to suit just about any budget if you start with a REALISTIC budget goal and choose your largest and most important items first.

I try to have every client plan their wedding with me in a specific order so they know how much the important stuff in going to cost, giving them a realistic idea of their spending before they make decisions about the little stuff that’s really optional.

Here are the 10 steps to budgeting your wedding, in the order you need to make those financial commitments:

1. Hire a wedding planner – Probably the smartest move you can make from Day One.  A big benefit of using a local planner at your destination (like me on Vieques or Culebra islands) is that you get all sorts of unexpected discounts.  For example, many of the villas I prefer to offer my clients will drop the event fee (or lower it significantly) for my clients.  You’re always sure to get better deals working with a local then trying to cold-call all the vendors yourselves.

2.  Choose a venue – This is a big number for couples who want a fancy, modern South Beachy chic waterfront villa for their wedding.  Depending on the selection you make, this can be a chunk of your budget.  You always have the option of a small boutique hotel or restaurant venue, or even a beach reception if the villa route is too financially intimidating.  But whatever you’re going to do, make this decision first as it will impact all your other planning decisions.

3. Choose all the food and beverages for your reception, including your cake – This stuff isn’t optional.  You have to feed and water your guests.  Your catering options are limited only by the venue you have selected and in most cases, the venue doesn’t care how much you spend.  It’s up to you to choose a menu that works within the confines of your budget.

4. Entertainment – Whether you want a different genre of music for cocktails (a jazz duo, or an acoustic guitar trio playing Puerto Rican love songs maybe?), and a DJ or a band for the remainder, these are numbers you can plug into your budget early.  As a general rule, a band is a least twice as expensive as a DJ.  If live music is important to you, you should account for it in your budget early.

5. Photography/Videography – What you spend on photography and videography can be a vast spread, from $1,000 to $5,000 or more, depending on whether you’re importing your photographer from someplace other than where you’re getting married.  It’s usually a significant number and it’s something that you have to have.

6. Catering for other events (beach parties, rehearsal dinner and last, welcome party) – Welcome parties, farewell brunches, day of luncheons and other such events are all optional and arbitrary – if you can afford to do them, that’s great!  But your weekend won’t necessarily be less sensational without those additional bells and whistles.  Lots of my clients schedule “welcome gatherings” rather than parties, meaning that they’re all meeting up at a bar or restaurant BUT this event is not on the bride and groom’s tab.

7. Rentals and Décor/Setup and Teardown Fees – Some of these items are dictated by the venue that you choose.  For example, you may have to have tents at certain venues because there isn’t enough indoor space for all of your guests if the weather turns bad.  How much decorating you decide to do will determine how much your setup and teardown fees will run you – what goes up must come down, and must be cleaned up the morning after your wedding.

8. Flowers – You predetermine your fate with the size of your wedding party, to some degree.  If you have five bridesmaids, you’re going to need six bouquets (including you), mom flowers, flower girl flowers and maybe some stuff for the guys.  Centerpieces using candles and vases are a lot less expensive than flowers, and there are ways to use small amount of flowers that won’t totally bust your budget (blossoms tied to napkins, etc.).

9. Beauty appointments – if you’re not bringing your own hairdresser, it’s worth the investment to have somebody who knows which products to use do your hair and makeup so you don’t turn into a big slimy frizzball during your wedding ceremony (yep, it happens).  You don’t necessarily have to treat your whole wedding party for beauty appointments if you let them know they have the option to book them, but whatever you’re obligating yourself to should be put into your master budget spreadsheet.

10. Gratuities – most of us have worked in the service industry at some point and few of us want to screw the service staff, but sometimes it’s hard to swallow a big number when everything else has already been planned.  Before you start spending the “extra” money on welcome bag goodies, reception favors, and other stuff you could live without, make sure you’ve set aside whatever your planner tells you is standard and customary for the area where you’re getting married.

Sandy Malone | Owner, Weddings in Vieques

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a Caribbean destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island. A former Wall Street Journal reporter and public affairs expert, Sandy has executed more than 400 destination weddings on Vieques and Culebra islands, and writes a wedding planning column for the Huffington Post.