How to Choose the Right Reception Venue

Choosing your reception venue is one of the highlights of planning a wedding. As you begin your search for the perfect spot, take this list of factors and consider which location satisfies the “must-haves.” With some careful searching and deliberation, you will find the place best suited for you.

Does it fall in your budget? It is best to discover your reception venue after completing a detailed budget. Venues vary in price and will undoubtably take a large portion of your finances. If you select a venue at a high price point, be sure you leave room for food and beverages along with music and the rest. Many locations require a deposit and commitment to hold your day of choice so make sure you have estimated the cost for other vendors before you sign on the dotted line.

Is the setting right? When you walk in a space, can you picture your wedding celebration there? Do you have an automatic feeling of comfort and happiness, or do you feel uncomfortable and on edge? Pay attention to the energy of the room and see if it suits your personality.

Prior to checking out a location be sure it checks your must-have boxes. If you always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, don’t commit to an indoor reception hall simply because the price is right or you like their menu. Imagine your perfect day and narrow down locations that fit the scenery you’ve always dreamed of. A gorgeous view can be your best backdrop and help to make a reception unforgettable.

Do they cater? Food is essential at a wedding reception. If you want a venue that serves food, narrow your search to only those with an in-house caterer. If your place of choice does not handle this in-house, make sure they will work with outside vendors or even provide recommendations for preferred merchants.

Will it suit your guest list? Be sure that the venue you select will comfortably hold the number of guests you plan to invite. With that in mind, verify there is also plenty of space for toasting, dancing, food and evacuation in case of an emergency.

Is there ample parking? Unless you have valet help, it is imperative to find a location that allows your guest to easily join and exit your reception. Make sure they do not have to walk too far…especially when they are dolled up for your celebration. If you find a place where parking is a concern, plan for a shuttle to run through the night and assist your guest to a parking area close by.

What to do Right After You Become Engaged

Congratulations on your engagement! This is a very exciting time and you may be eager to get the planning underway. If you wondering where you need to begin, here are the first items to check off your list to get your planning off to a solid start.

  1. Celebrate! Even before you pick up the phone and call your family and friends, be sure you take a few minutes together to soak up the excitement. Now is a great time to pop a bottle of champagne with your new fiancé.
  2. Call your friends and family and tell them the good news! Perhaps your parents or close friends know it is coming, but they are likely eager to get a phone call from you with good news.
  3. Get your engagement ring appraised and add it to your insurance policy. Be sure to do this as quickly as you can. You want peace of mind that your ring is covered from loss, theft, or damage so you can wear it proud.
  4. Talk about the kind of wedding you want to have with your fiancé and don’t leave out any detail. Consider these sorts of items: Do you want a band or a DJ? Do you want a sit-down dinner or a buffet? Do you want to get married close to home or at a destination?
  5. Organize your budget. Before you dive into planning the details you must organize your finances. Have an honest and open conversation with your finance about how much you are willing to spend. Also consider the areas where you are willing to splurge. Now is also the time to find out if one or both sets of parents are willing to help with the costs. Once you have a budget in mind you can start considering where you want to get married and how many people to include on the guest list.
  6. Once you know how large or small your wedding will be, it is time to start drafting a guest list. The easiest way to tackle this project is to include everyone you know and start eliminating based on the size of wedding you can afford.
  7. Individually ask your wedding party to stand with you at the altar.
  8. Decide when you want to get married. This piece is important for planning. If you are eager to tie the knot soon, you need to coordinate a location fast. Many popular venues book quickly and may not have your ideal date available.
  9. Have an engagement party. Now that everyone knows the good news it is time to have a party in your honor. Some couples hold a stock the bar party, which is a great way to fill your bar for the wedding reception. This is also a good time for guests to shower you with wedding gifts.
  10. Create and send a Save the Date card. People will start asking when you planned to get married so they can organize their calendars. If you are planning a destination wedding, it is imperative that you send these early, even as early as 12 months prior to your wedding date.

Beautiful Weddings on a Budget

We all dream of the perfect wedding.  Yet after meeting with vendors and researching the cost of every detail, your ideal setting may seem a little daunting. Don’t lose hope. Here are a few ways you can plan the perfect wedding while eliminating some major added expenses.

  1. Trim the guest list. This is an important tip to remember, you don’t have to include everyone you know. Prioritize an “A List” first and then add friends, distant relatives, or co-workers until you reach your limit. Leaving children off your guest list is an easy way to keep your guest count low.
  2. DIY what you can. Or ask friends and family who can. If you have a baker in the family, recruit them to make your wedding cake. If you know someone who has an eye for beautiful floral arrangements, let them take over. Lastly, load up on the card stock and create your own special wedding invitations. The DIY possibilities are endless.
  3. Schedule your ceremony between meal times. If you get married in the afternoon or late morning, it is easier to get away with serving heavy hors d’oeuvres and appetizers to your guests. Serving a full meal can double or triple your food costs.
  4. Get married at home. Beautiful backyard weddings are cozy and intimate. They also offer more flexibility when choosing your date. You can be as formal or casual as you like, and you never have to follow the guidelines of a rented venue.
  5. Choose your dress carefully. Brides in expensive wedding gowns are just as beautiful as those with a humbler selection. If you know someone who is willing to let you borrow their gown, say yes if it is the right fit!
  6. Have a friend DJ or set up a playlist ahead of time. Plan a list of songs ahead of time that you would like to hear at your reception and let it roll. However, do ask a friend to MC. You may want someone to announce your arrival to the party. The first introduction as husband and wife is joyful to everyone.
  7. Stock your bar. This is the time to shop for cases of wine, beer, liquor and mixers. If the cost gets too high, cash bars are always a great alternative.
  8. Ask for help. This can be a daunting task, but if you have parents or relatives who are willing to help with wedding costs, be grateful and say “Yes!”
  9. Plan well. A longer engagement can give you time to put money aside for wedding expenses. This also gives you an opportunity to recruit help and shop vendor prices.
  10. Budget thoroughly. This is the most important way to keep your cost low. Create a detailed list of everything you want for your wedding and add a maximum dollar amount beside each item.

If you plan well, you will find many benefits to planning a wedding on a budget. You may even find added funds to indulge on your honeymoon!

Getting on the Same Page with Your Fiancé – Agreeing on Your Wedding Arrangements

It’s a common story.  You have been thinking about your wedding since pigtails and princess dresses. But your fiancé, not so much. Now that the planning is underway and vendor meetings fill up your weekends, you may find that the process isn’t quite as blissful as you imagined.  Turns out, he has more ideas for your wedding day than you thought!

Biggest Arguments
  1. Your guest list: Are you having trouble finalizing your guest list? How many people are you planning to invite? Kids or no kids?
  2. Budget: Are you footing the bill, or do you have help from family? Are you finding it hard to agree on a final sum?
    Shop around before you commit to any one vendor and consider DIY projects where you can. If you keep track of your estimates and organize your spending, you may not feel so guilty spending $1,000 more on the perfect dress!
  3. Other Details: Are you are dreaming of a beach band and your fiancé prefers a DJ? Perhaps you want a table for two at your reception and plans to include the wedding party. Who wins?
Listen and Compromise

It is important to remember that his opinion is just as important.  You may be stressed over the planning and arranging most of your meetings but sharing this day and sticking together is what brings smiles to the alter.

  1. Learn how to table certain topics: If there is one detail that you can’t seem to agree on, take your time with the final decision. Be sure to fully listen to his ideas and allow plenty of time to consider his side. It is possible that as the planning progresses, you may find that his idea works better than you thought!
  2. Decide if it is worth the argument: If your fiancé has an idea that you are not on board with, decide if it is truly worth the fight. In the grand scheme of things, maybe it’s not really that big of a deal.
  3. Find a happy medium: The two of you are about to spend your lives together as one, compromising and making decisions. This is the best time to start. You fell in love with him for a reason, and you want his ideas to take part in this important day. Your wedding should represent both of you!

 

How to Start a Wedding Budget

Congratulations, you are finally engaged and we know you are eager to jump into planning!  But, before you get too far ahead, make sure that your dream wedding and your wallet are in sync.  This is the most dreaded part of the process, but we can help you get started with a few simple steps.

How much do you have available to spend?

Perhaps you have been saving since you and the groom started dating, or maybe now it is time to begin.  Keep in mind, that sometimes there are resources available to help fund your special day.  Are your parents, future in-laws, grandparents, or anyone else planning to offer a contribution?  If so, make sure you know what to expect before you start spending their cash too!  Also, tread lightly when asking for money from family.  Be sure that you use a tactful approach and be understanding if they are not willing or able to help.

Prioritize the “must haves”

If your wedding can’t take place without a chocolate fountain, we understand.  Just make sure that you have a list of the other “must haves” before you sign a contract with the vendor.  It is possible that certain details can cost more than originally anticipated. Here is a guide of wedding and reception necessities that should be accounted for:

  1. Venue
  2. Catering
  3. Officiant fee
  4. DJ / Band
  5. Wedding Gown and accessories / Groom’s attire
  6. Wedding rings
  7. Invitations
  8. Flowers
  9. Marriage license
  10. Photographer / Videographer
Start Crunching Numbers

Now that you have a list of what should be included, get a general idea of what each item will cost and create a spreadsheet.  Then you can add personal details where you see fit, or downscale the things you can live without.  Choosing a few DIY options will allow flexibility to add funds in other areas too.  Just make sure you anticipate any hidden wedding costs that may surprise you!

It is important to understand that your wedding is unique.  Your budget will not look like any other.  Be creative and add a personal flare that your guests will remember!

 

 

 

Hidden Wedding Cost You Didn’t Anticipate

 

You plan and budget like a pro for your wedding, and finally you have it all figured out…until those hidden expenses rear their ugly head.  It happens to many brides, they find themselves surprised by those pesky charges that didn’t exactly make the wedding budget spreadsheet.  Here are a few hidden fees you can anticipate helping you avoid last-minute shock.

Dress Alterations:

You know “the one” when you see it, and it is beautiful!  The price is even right for your budget.  But, don’t forget that all brides are not created the same.  More than likely you will need a few alterations to make it look perfect, and wedding dress alterations can get quite expensive. Be sure to account for last minute tweaks too!  Brides have been known to gain or lose a few pounds right before the big day.

Beauty Treatments:

If you are dreaming of sitting around and getting pampered all day before you walk down the aisle, maybe you have already hired a hair and makeup specialist and planned for this expense.  But, if you have not pre-arranged these details, you may be surprised to find that beauty expenses such as hair, make-up, nails, and waxing will add up fast.  You want to look your best when you make your grand appearance, and of course for all your photos!

Postage:

Remember to add postage fees to the total cost of your invitations.  It is also customary to include a pre-stamped return envelope to make it easy for guests to RSVP.  So, be sure to take your postage cost and double it!

Gifts:

Many couples like to surprise each other with a romantic gift right before the ceremony.  It is also nice to have a gift for both sets of parents on your wedding day; this is a big day for them too!  Not to mention, officiant tips or gifts and something small for the wedding party is a wonderful custom to let these important people know that you appreciate their support.

Venue Fees:

Venue fees can quickly and most unexpectedly add up by the end of the night.  Remember to account for taxes, gratuities for your servers and bartenders, cleanup costs, and overtime hours for the staff working so hard at your reception.  Also, keep in mind that many venues will charge cake-cutting and wine corking fees for items brought in from an outside vendor.

There are many ways to keep the cost of your wedding under control when you are on a budget, just remember to give yourself some breathing room for these unexpected fees!