Category Archives: Budget Los Angeles Wedding

The Low Wedding Budget: Just Say No

By | Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Business Consulting, Business Development, Wedding Budget, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Cost, Wedding Decor | No Comments

I’m sure this title is controversial – and I’m sure it’ll anger some brides and grooms reading this. And trust me, I get very miffed when I see just how much it costs to have a wedding. But I also know how much it costs to run a business, pay for labor, and provide goods and services (at least, in dense, pricey cities like my home of L.A.).  Couples see a lot of DIY blogs online and think they can beat the system – and sometimes, a lower wedding budget can work, if thoughtful, methodical choices are made (I.e. food truck instead of 4 course dinner; rent a city park versus a luxury hotel). But I have ran into potential clients that want to pay an unrealistically low amount for a super lavish wedding; and the dots just don’t connect.

And when you as a wedding vendor sit down with a potential client and they want to have a bargain basement budget, it’s best to politely decline if the following occur:

An avoidance of reality: “I can make my wedding budget work – even if you say I can’t!”

Some clients listen, and agree that they need to re-calibrate their budgets. Others refuse to listen to reality. “But my cousin can provide the tequila and our best friend can bartend!” If there’s an insistence a first class wedding can happen on a bargain basement budget, you will never be able to convince them otherwise, and there will be too much time taken out of your schedule to try to convince them.

Smogshoppe wedding decor flamingo decor runners table wedding budget

Choosing a venue that has a unique look, like SmogShoppe here, can reduce the need for significant amount of decor. Photo by Jenna Rose Photography.

Cutting YOUR corners.

“You can use our extra speakers!” No, a DJ should use his/her own. “My housekeeper can wash your dishes!” No, a caterer should bring enough staff to do EVERYTHING.  “Our groomsmen can set up the decor for you!” No, a planner should always have their own staff.  A client that wants you to understaff or under-prepare beyond best and standard practices, so they can cut their budget, is penny wise, pound foolish.  Just say no.

In summary…

Being honest and kind in your discussion with couples is valuable in that you can bow out gracefully, and also help guide them to a successful event, regardless if you are involved.  Just remember that when you cut corners just to book that next job, it may cost you more mentally, and even financially, than it’s worth.

Questions? Email me anytime at dee@noworriesep.com, and meantime, happy planning!

How much will my wedding cost?

By | Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Wedding Budget, Wedding Cost, Wedding Planner | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries

It’s nearly everyone’s first question when they start planning a wedding: How much is this bad boy going to cost me?  The idea of sinking many thousands of dollars in one evening is soul-sucking, and I totally understand this.   I tried to charge as little as possible when I first started and quickly realized there was a bottom line I had to meet, fee-wise or I essentially couldn’t run a business. Like, as in, keep the lights on, pay my taxes, feed my family.

And that’s what all other vendors and venues find too when they research initial pricing structures.  Their insurance, taxes, labor (that’s a big one), cost of raw materials, etc – it all gets passed to you, the consumer.  Meantime, a good middle class income means low buying power these days, due to all sorts of shifts in our economy, so you can work hard, save your money, and still barely be able to afford a wedding.  But, don’t get too depressed- let’s work through some hard facts about budget, so you can be an informed consumer, and take control over the process.

Statistics: Read between the lines

The average wedding according to many statistics is about $26k – 30k.  But, in major metropolitan areas, you’re looking at $35-45k to start, and towards $70-80k in cities such as New York City.  Guest count, type of food service, venue, and all sorts of other elements affect your total costs.  My advice is, ignore the statistics – the only way you’ll know how much your wedding costs is to start researching.

LA River Center LARC State Park weddings

In concert with other agencies, the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy runs the LA River Center, which provides a reasonably priced space for weddings. Photo by David Crane.

Add it up: Tally total wedding cost first

Start researching venues, DJs, florists, etc., and collect pricing and quotes.  Don’t do one at a time, i.e. research and price out venues, book the venue; and THEN price out caterers – you need a holistic, macro view of how all the costs add up before booking any single vendor or venue for the event.  Otherwise you’ll book one element, and realize it takes up more of your budget than you thought, and severely crunches the rest of your budget.  Or perhaps trigger other costs that you didn’t anticipate (like a venue that requires a generator at great additional expense, for example).

Consider unique alternatives

Food trucks, BBQ take out (nicely served and presented), cupcakes (instead of cakes) – these are all ways to save money on food by going an unconventional route.  Venue-wise, find a venue that’s run by a local civic agency, or one that’s fresh on the market that may be willing to rent to you for an introductory fee. It’s important to make sure the venue has proper rules and regulations and insurance, and to know of any specific additional expenses that come with out-of-the-box venues.

Rancho Del Cielo, rustic wedding, floral decor wedding

Finding a venue with lush grounds saves money on decor – with such beautiufl surroundings, only a few floral flourishes are needed. Venue: Rancho Del Cielo. Photographer: Katie Geiberger

Hire the right pros

A caterer that specializes in small luncheons won’t be ideal for your 200 person wedding.  A novice florist may not be able to construct that custom arch you saw on Instagram.  A planner who lists as her major experience waiting tables in college and planning her sister’s wedding won’t know off the top of her head how much a family style meal will cost.  Whether you invest a small hourly consulting package for a coordinator to assist in a venue search or order a drop off type service from a high end caterer, there are ways to hire top-of-their-class vendors without breaking your bank.

For more tips, check out our other blog posts, and feel free to call or email us;  310-562-3306 and dee@noworriesep.com.  Happy planning!

Hiring the Best Wedding Vendors

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Event Planner, Facebook, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Planning Checklist, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries

Every year as the holidays roll around, the wedding industry clamors about “engagement season”- and yeah, this is the time, from December through January, where we get super busy taking incoming inquiries and generally book up to 60% of our dates for the coming year.  It’s appropos then to share some insight about booking wedding vendors.

Remember, there is no real barrier to entry for most wedding vendors.

A DJ has to have specific technical skills, sure, but has he or she practiced mc’g in front of large crowds?  A florist doesn’t necessarily need to be formally trained to start his or her own business. And wedding planners and coordinators need really NO technical training, nor does there seem to be any formal qualifications and standards set by a leading organization to follow. (Corporate planners can get their certified meeting planner designation, which is respected as definitive by the industry, but in the wedding world there are a variety of certification programs by competing organizations for weddings and none of them are considered “the” one to get.)

So when you interview a prospective vendor, it’s good to see how they are viewed in the industry. Do numerous venues sing their praises?  Is their Yelp page full of 100s of reviews? (Remember, Yelp isn’t the end-all be-all of legitimacy, but it is a good indicator that a business has been around for a bit.)  They don’t need to have graduated from “DJ School,” but they should have a solid level of experience and savvy in what they do.

Tray passed appetizers wedding vendors Los Angeles Wedding Jenna Janelle Rose Wedding photography cost of wedding catering

Your wedding: Not the time to go cheap on food. Tray passed appetizers here are by Huntington Catering Company, Photo by Jenna Rose (JennaJanelleRose.Com)

Benchmark prices carefully.

I know weddings aren’t cheap these days, and it’s a struggle couples go through. But if you go cheap on a vendor, you’ll pay a price.  I’ve had weddings where, to the person, the vendors that were charging below-market price were the ones with which we had significant issues – including a florist that was sloppy and left damage at a venue that would have cost the client hundreds to thousands in their security deposit. (The florist came back later and managed to fix the damage.)

First, put together a solid, cohesive budget.  Then, carefully compare prices from competitors in a variety of categories.  If there is a vendor that is significantly less expensive, there are a few reasons why:  1.  They may have another job, which isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s important to make sure they will uphold reasonable work ethic and response times, which is easy to check by calling a few references; 2.  They may be just starting out – so it’s important to see what prior experience they have, since anyone can pretty much get a business license for performing work in the wedding industry; and/or 3. They do a very high volume of work for very low prices.  I speak from experience when I say this means you will get a longer response time and less of a personal touch from these vendors, nearly every single time. For a wedding cake, maybe (maybe) this is no problem. For a photographer or DJ, you will want a more intensive flow of communication.

Norris photo los angeles church wedding vendor

A church wedding ceremony can be cost effective, support the community, and provide a gorgeous setting for your wedding. Photo by Don Norris (Norrisphoto.com)

 

A good wedding vendor sets boundaries.

My life changed a few years ago, when I added office hours to my contract.  A good vendor has good boundaries, and ultimately they help the client.  It’s important to know when wedding vendors are usually available (this blog post is helpful as to what is typical in the industry), and to understand that if a vendor can compartmentalize when and how they work for you, they can manage your event better because they are focused on pre-set, efficient work hours and deadlines and can be super productive in the times they devote to your project.

Does that mean I haven’t squealed with delight and texted right back to a client who shot me a photo of her dream dress at 7pm on a Monday night?  Or that I haven’t suggested a Skype at 8pm with an out-of-state client that works 60 hour weeks, or a weekend walkthrough of a venue? Of course, I am flexible and meet clients halfway whenever possible with my time. But be aware, and respectful, of wedding vendors, and ask ahead about when they usually take appointments and correspond with clients.

For more solid, realistic advice, my guide the Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths will steer you well; and hang around our Facebook page to learn when we’ve posted a new article on the blog.  Happy Planning!

Smart Ways to Stay On Budget for Your Wedding

By | Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, DIY, How Much Do L.A. Weddings Cost, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Realistic Wedding Budget, Wedding Planner | No Comments

It’s every bride and groom’s biggest concern:  Budget.  Many couples get a sense of sticker shock when they find out how much weddings cost, and justifiably so.  While the end result is a beautiful day and celebration that in some ways is priceless, there’s no getting around the fact that spending a certain sum on ‘one day’ can be uncomfortable.

When thinking about saving money but preserving the vibe of your event, keep these things in mind:

1.  The extras.  You don’t always need that something ‘extra’. For example, gold leaf on your cake can be pricey; buying a roll of exquisite satin gold ribbon instead can save a significant amount of money.  Letterpress invites are lovely; but not necessary. Flat printed invitations look beautiful and are elegant enough without the additional charges.

We created this sweet centerpiece with inexpensive greenery and sunflowers, using a pitcher that we sourced from the rental company for that evening's event. Photo by Lorenzo Hodges.

We created this sweet centerpiece with inexpensive greenery and sunflowers, using a pitcher that we sourced from the rental company for that evening’s event. Photo by Lorenzo Hodges.

2.  Food!  Food is one of your biggest costs, as is venue (particularly if the venue is lumped in with food, such as when hosting an event at a hotel).  If working an out of the box space where you can provide your own food server, be careful about using a food truck or taco cart. These are great options for saving money, but you need additional staff to properly serve at the bar and clean up at the end of the night.

A space like the Millwick in downtown LA (http://marvimon.com/Millwick) already has some kitchen infrastructure, lighting, and dining tables and chairs, allowing for savings on outside rentals. Food trucks are also doable at this space.

A space like the Millwick in downtown LA (http://marvimon.com/Millwick) already has some kitchen infrastructure, lighting, and dining tables and chairs, allowing for savings on outside rentals. Food trucks are also doable at this space.

3. Decor.  Beware DIY tips online – there are some awesome tutorials out there, but when you see a photo of a stunning decor idea that is labeled cost effective or DIY, ask yourself, ‘how much would the labor cost?’ Hanging lights, large floral pieces, etc – all those projects cost in labor, and anything that requires going up a ladder means serious liability risks.  So be sure to factor the labor in to any supposedly ‘easy’, ‘inexpensive’ DIY project.

A professional event planner’s goal should always be to create a gorgeous and lovely day without sinking a client’s budget.  It takes innovation, experience, and familiarity with cost controlling procedures.  Typically working with an event planner can save you money and keep you at budget.  (Some statistics say the average couple otherwise goes over budget by 30%.)  There are also all sorts of wacky fees (“administrative charge,” “AV liaison fee,” etc) that can rear their ugly heads when clients least expect it, whereas event planners frequently see them coming long before they are an issue. I often recommend to a couple on a tight budget to hire a planner just to do a budget consultation.  That way, they have a good idea of all those scary unknowns, and have the most accurate information on realistic pricing.  This consultation also gives them solid strategies for progressing along their planning process with extensive wisdom based on a pro’s experience.  Then the planner can become involved again a couple months out and serve as day of coordinator to bookend the entire process.

Once your goals for each wedding expense are locked in, you can proceed with authority and way less stress. For more about budgets, check out our past blog posts here and here. Happy planning!

 

5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth # 3 – The Web Has All The Answers

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Wedding Budget, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner | No Comments

In this blog series, we’re tackling some of the misinformation and misconceptions out there about wedding planning. Today’s myth:  “Want to save money/time/stress? Just ask the Web!”

Like a lot of brides, we loooooovvee looking at wedding blogs, viewing the latest in advice and planning strategies, and absorbing all the great information out there.

While the web can help with wedding planning, it doesn’t have all the answers.  Each wedding is like a snowflake: No two are the same.

For example, Google ” save money on wedding” and you can find such dream-shattering advice as “Slash your guest list” or “have a cocktail reception instead of a sit down dinner.” Picture 30 guests at a bunch of cocktail tables – that’s a happy hour, not a wedding!

No matter how stressful or overwhelmed you may get, this is the moment that's most important:  The walk down the aisle. Photo by Shani Barel.

No matter how stressful or overwhelmed you may get, this is the moment that’s most important: The walk down the aisle. Photo by Shani Barel.

Other budget tips simply don’t add up to much savings: “Have a backyard wedding!” (cue the restroom rentals, kitchen equipment rentals, etc. – before you know it, you’re way over budget). “Use bigger tables to save on centerpieces” – that’s a nominal savings – maybe $150 or so per table.

You get the idea – there are good strategies out there, but interpreting them for your particular event is the challenge.

That said, the web CAN be helpful, Just read between the lines. While the Internet is a huge source of inspiration, the reality behind the façade can best be found on uber-honest forums for brides. Try to hone in on regional forums geared towards brides in you area for the most accurate information.  Double check bids from vendors for accuracy and question any fees you do not understand.

We have knowledge that only comes from road-testing our expertise on over 100 events.  Call or email us anytime for a consultation:  310-562-3306 or dee@noworriesep.com. Happy planning!

Reality Check: Building a Budget for a Wedding in L.A.

By | Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, How Much Do L.A. Weddings Cost, Realistic Wedding Budget | No Comments

Often, we meet couples who have an extremely low budget planned for the wedding.  The unfortunate issue is that the mainstream media does not filter the statistics for each metropolitan area or region, so brides and grooms reference to information that may apply in the Midwest, say, but not here.

Here are some tips to get you started with a realistic budget:

1. Determine Your Venue – Space Only vs. All Inclusive: Your budget will be different based on your venue.  While you have more control with a venue where you can ‘bring everything in,’ such as rentals (tables, chairs, glassware, etc), the costs can pile up exorbitantly.  Some spaces require generators, lots of lighting, etc.  A thorough examination of all that is needed is essential.  Your caterer, DJ, and other vendors will also need to weigh in to make sure everything you need is covered, from stoves to spoons to water pitchers.

2.  Examine Your Design Needs Carefully:  The sky’s the limit – or, at least, your pocketbook, when it comes to design.  You could fill the smallest of rooms with thousands of dollars of flowers, or reduce your flower costs in a huge ballroom by investing more in lighting.  Having a consult with a florist and discussing your options and what budget is realistic is key in determining how much you need to spend to get the look you want.  Letting the florist know you are still researching is a courtesy to observe if you are on a fact finding mission, as opposed to being ready to book right away.

3.  Hire a Consultant. A good wedding consultant, with a wide spectrum of experience and knowhow, from hotel ballroom weddings to out-of-the-box loft/estate events, can advise on everything from power, lighting, and restrooms to florals and linens.  We have up to the minute pricing info and outstanding relationships, and we an advise on last minute expenses and ‘hidden’ fees and costs.  Many consultants offer “a la carte” budget services if you cannot afford a full wedding planning package; this service can save you significant money, and at the least, allow you to feel you’ve done your due diligence and will avoid cost overruns or surprise expenses.

Happy planning!