Category Archives: Wedding Budget

Memorable Wedding Gifts For Your Family

By | Family Wedding Gifts, Personalized by Kate, Personalized Wedding Gifts, Unique Wedding Gifts, Wedding Budget, Wedding Gift Ideas | No Comments
Family has started to mean more to me than ever, with many of my close loved ones getting older, and memories of them dearer to me as time passes.  I’ve realized that not only is it ideal to purchase meaningful gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, but family gifts are so important, too.
Personalized by Kate is an easy-to-navigate, full-of-inspo website that offers gifts that family members will treasure forever. What really caught my eye were their picture frames, that can be uniquely personalized and filled with a photo from your big day.  They can be given at the wedding with a special photo from the past, and with your thank you note later, you can enclose a photo from the wedding to replace the current image; or afterwards, send the frame itself with a photo from your wedding day.
 Personalized wedding gift frame with bride and groom
I also love tumblers (obsessed!) and Personalized by Kate offers insulated wine tumblers, for your favorite aunt who tailgates every football season or your young-at-heart grandma who enjoys her picnics on the beach. These can also be handed out to your entire immediate family, personalized with the family name and monogram, for a really cool, family-only gift that will make your loved ones feel even more special.
 Monogrammed mug wedding gift for family
Assembling gift packages is another way to make your gift even more personal for your family; for your family members who are coffee fans (and any sleep deprived new parents in your family), create a gift basket or bag with a personalized coffee mug, high-end coffee, flavored syrup, and chocolate-coated stir spoon. For coffee nuts, you can never go wrong with a caffeine-themed gift.
When I think of family, I also think of big holiday meals and special recipes passed down for generations.  An engraved recipe box is an instant keepsake for that relative who cooks from scratch and always hosts Thanksgiving. Food is a huge part of how my family bonds – on both sides – and to me, this is the most meaningful and sentimental option; what can I say – food is love!
I find giving gifts out on the wedding day itself is tough; so much is going on, and a lot of friends and family members are getting ready independently of each other, so everyone is all spread out and impossible to find in one place until the wedding.  I would recommend to clients to give special family gifts at the rehearsal dinner, while all close family is nearby, and the mood is a little more relaxed.
But we mustn’t forget the bridal party; I just have to add that I’m in love with this flask and shot glass set.  Your maid of honor can treat the girls for one last shot the night of the wedding in a flask she fit in her purse.  Cheers!

wedding gift personalized bridesmaid flask set

For more information about what Personalized by Kate has to offer, check out their offerings here!
I love supporting companies I believe align with my readers’ interests. This is a sponsored post by Personalized By Kate.

7 Mistakes Couples Make That Can Ruin Their Wedding Budget

By | Biggest Wedding Planning Mistakes, Wedding Budget, Wedding Budget Tips, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Cost, Wedding Planner | No Comments

Engaged couple meeting with their wedding plannerPlanning well ahead of your wedding can help you avoid some of the most common budget mistakes couples make that can ruin their special day. Many couples hire a wedding and event manager to take on the hard tasks, but not everyone has the money to do that, so if you can’t, you’re not alone. As a couple, you should sit down and work out how much you have to spend, what you want to spend it on, and how you want your ceremony and reception to proceed. Do you want a band or a DJ? Banners and bunting? What about the catering, wedding cars, the bride and bridesmaids dresses, the groom and groomsmen, the photographer? What will it all cost?  Should you have an extra 10 per cent in case of cost averages?

Wedding planners advise couples to begin with an attitude of ‘how much can we spend?’ Rather than ‘how far can we stretch our budget?’ You can learn from the professionals, so do your research on wedding and event planner websites for tips, and read the following information on how to avoid budget pitfalls and remember, failing to plan means you plan on failing.

1. Don’t Skip Over the Fine Print

Carefully read all the contracts related to your wedding before you sign them because this is where your costs can blow out unless you read the fine print. You could be up for surcharges and extra fees if things don’t go according to plan. You could be charged for staying at the venue over the time agreed upon. The band or DJ might be kept back as well, or the flowers might not be available, so they have to be swapped at the last minute for more expensive bouquets. So take the time to fully understand the terms and conditions before you commit to a service or product.

2. Do Your Research

Couples need a clear understanding of the vendors they will need to hire and what they will charge. Do your research to find the right photographer who will capture all those special moments. What about the venue? Do you want a big church wedding with the reception at a different venue, a relaxed ceremony on the beautiful beach where you met, or something in between? Call the venues and churches etc. and find out what they charge, then create a rough budget out of the costs.

Engaged couple making key decisions about budget with their wedding planner3. Don’t Go Overboard

The biggest mistakes many couples make are borrowing from the wrong lender and overdoing it on the amount. These days, it’s a lot for a young couple to come up with the expenses of a wedding. Many couples are financing their wedding with a personal loan. The way to avoid borrowing too much is by having a repayment plan within your budget and shop around for lenders who are in tune with your financial situation. That doesn’t mean the bride has to skimp on areas such as hiring a professional makeup artist and hair stylist or wearing a less than gorgeous wedding dress. If you need to cut corners, try doing without some of the smaller things, so the major necessities are covered.

4. Keep Track of Your Spending

Keep an eye on what you spend, especially the small purchases which have a habit of creeping up on you. Every dollar adds up, and before you know it, you’re in the red trying to work out where all the money went. So keep tabs on every cent, not just the major expenses, so your budget stays on track. You could set up a spreadsheet or other tool to track every cent that you spend throughout your wedding planning process. Also, be sure to understand the total price, including additional fees and taxes, before you sign a contract.


Engaged Couple planning their wedding

5. Make Spending Decisions With Head Not Heart

Weddings are emotional experiences, there’s no doubting that. But in the planning stage, try to make spending decisions with your head rather than your heart, especially if you haven’t finalised the date, location, and the number of guests. You might change your mind and won’t need whatever you have bought, so it’s money wasted.

6. Don’t Spend Too Much Too Soon on DIY

If you’re planning to take charge of some of the wedding details yourself rather than hiring a vendor – such as asking Mum to make the wedding cake or Aunt Doris to take care of the flowers – do a road test on them before the big day. Also, test out whatever part of the day you want to design yourself, in case you decide to do something different or find that what you had in mind won’t work so you don’t buy supplies you won’t need.

7. Don’t Make Invitation Mistakes

Make sure you have a firm idea of who you are going to invite before you order the wedding invitations. It might seem like a small thing, but every cent counts, and you don’t want to be left with a box of expensive invitation cards that won’t be used. Another invitation mistake is getting the names and addresses wrong and having to resend them. Stamps and envelopes cost money, and it’s another area where it seems like a small thing, but it will matter.

To save all the hassle, the stress, and the mistakes, Dee Gaubert of No Worries Event Planning and Design can coach you through the all important tasks of developing a concise, realty-checked budget with her Budget Consulting services. Email today!


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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, 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  Happy planning!

The Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #5 – “I can DIY my entire wedding!”

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Weddings, DIY, Jackie Combs Lotus and Lily, Katie Robertson Photography, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Budget, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

Over the past few days, we’ve been breaking down the 5 biggest wedding myths. Today we’re tackling Myth 5: DIY/”Friend-or” weddings.

The DIY movement enpowers brides and grooms to add personal elements to their event, and fold in their buddies to the big day, as well.  We’ve had friends play guitar for the ceremony, or brides bake a grooms cake – small contributions make up for big, heartfelt gestures. But totally replacing a major vendor with a friend or your own DIY efforts? That’s flirting with – or hurtling headlong into – disaster.

One of the best examples of this myth is the “FRIEND DJ.” (Settle in kids – I’ve got a few fun stories for ya.)

Here’s the thing: music is inescapable. If the music is suddenly off, the WHOLE crowd notices. It’s also the international sign for, “Show’s over, Folks! Time to leave!” Unlike a drink that is a little too strong for one particular guest, or one centerpiece that is a bit wilty on a table of twelve, the music is everywhere and affects everyone, not just a handful of guests. Thus, your wedding tunes have a huge impact on the success of your event. At the end of the day, how much are you really saving?

A bride wisely provided her own lovely and easy to assemble candle centerpieces, but hired a professional florist (Lotus and Lily) for the more complex bouquets.

A bride wisely provided her own lovely and easy to assemble candle centerpieces, but hired a professional florist (Lotus and Lily) for the more complex bouquets. Photo by Katie Robertson Photography.

We no longer work events where a “friend is managing an Ipod,” and per our contract, all non-professional vendors are SOLELY responsible for the integrity of their work. For example, we’ve had a “friend-DJ” space out and not immediately turn the music back on after the bouquet toss, causing confusion and guests to start leaving. After our urging to get the music on, he panicked and had a hard time finding the next song – and by then, in just that minute or two that passed, we lost a dozen guests at a wedding that already had a low guest count. The wedding died out shortly thereafter.

At another event, a “friend DJ” did not know at all how to work the rental equipment, and had to use the one speaker on the venue’s property. This speaker was a low-quality piece of equipment that was typically used for the less complicated ceremony sound. So, it sounded muffled – like it was underwater: in a word, terrible. Even worse, this DJ started using an online song source ON HIS PHONE. The music stopped every time his phone buffered!

I mean it: Get a professional DJ, florist, officiant, – the whole nine yards. Also, most venues now require every vendor to have insurance, so right off the bat that takes away the option to involve an amateur.  Reserve friends’ talents for small touches, like providing the ingredients and recipe for their special signature cocktail, or to craft a lovely gift card box for you. Otherwise, let the pros safeguard your beautiful day with their savvy services.

Apply your talents to DIY touches you can do well before the event – like namecards, table numbers, or other printed goods.  Definitely don’t try florals – honestly, that’s a whole other blog post – unless you’re pre-building tissue or paper florals.

Make sure your vendors know your tastes and preferences so that the day is still all about you and your fiance’s personality – and then you, and your friends, can just relax and enjoy the day.  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 Happy planning!

5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #2 – Haggling = Negotiation

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Event Planner, Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Vendors, Venues, Wedding Budget, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

MYTH #2:  Haggling = Negotiation

Over the past few days, we’ve been breaking down the 5 biggest wedding myths. Today we’re tackling Myth #2: “I can haggle my vendors down to nothing!”

A powerful sign that a wedding vendor is worth every penny is when they don’t offer drastic discounts. That means a) they have experience and know-how, and understand exactly how much they need to charge to make sure you have all the resources (time, labor, materials, etc.) you need from them and b) they are so secure in their reputation and referral base that if you don’t choose them, then they’ll find another client who values them for their actual worth. It’s as if they are saying, “Go ahead – find someone new, inexperienced, and low priced, and best of luck to ya. I’ll wait for the next client who comes along and truly values me.”

Tip:  When negotiating, be reasonable. Fridays and Sundays almost always mean price reductions at venues; Fridays in particular have become very popular in the wedding world, and tend to last as late as Saturday night weddings. Also, meet the vendor in the middle – whether it’s shaving off an hour of the time frame for the photographer’s active time or letting the florist pick more cost effective blooms that still stay in your color scheme.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

To save on decor budget, we advised the bride to use lanterns and floral pieces, down her wedding aisle, then we repurposed them as cocktail/lounge decor. Photo by Collective Perception.

Tip:  Also keep in mind the wide swings in pricing from one vendor to another. If Vendor A charges $1800, and Vendor B charges $1500, but Vendor C charges $700, something is way off with Vendor C.   That’s just the economics of supply and demand, simple as that. Vendor C may be a diamond in the rough just starting out and building their clientele – but you better check solid references on them just to be sure. Why? Because they have not established a market value – what the consumer is willing to pay for their services. And they won’t be charging that little for much longer at all, because eventually – no exaggeration – they will make more money slinging lattes.


Find a way to make it work, and remember the realities you are working with. Once you understand actual and realistic costs, you can learn to move forward making smart, cost effective decisions!


We’re no strangers to negotiation and far, win-win agreements between clients and vendors.  Contact us anytime here or at 310-562-3306.  Happy planning!




5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #1 – The Bargain Basement Wedding

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Wedding Budget, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Planner | No Comments

In this blog series, we’re busting the five biggest wedding planning myths, starting with this doozy:   “I can have the wedding of my dreams for a bargain basement price.”

The majority of our clients want a quite formal, high-end affair based on the gorgeous blog photos they see online or in magazines. Thanks to the numerous “10 easy ways to cut your budget!”-type articles out there in the world, many couples think that the average cost of a wedding (close to $30,000 at last survey) is exactly what they’ll spend – or less.

A perfect example of a fun, DIY project that can be done ahead of time - simply using pennies and self-printed escort cards. Photo by White Haute Photography.

A perfect example of a cost effective, DIY project that can be done ahead of time – simply using pennies and self-printed escort cards. Photo by White Haute Photography.

I wish I could say that was the truth in Los Angeles and other big cities. But several factors come into play, along with the metropolitan area you live in: Your personal taste; the venue, and so on. There is a unique formula that needs to be applied to exactly the type of wedding you want. For example, If you choose a hotel, you’ll pay a more inclusive price than a private estate – but at an estate, you can bring in alcohol and save on the bar service. There are a multitude of pros and cons. It’s hard to say exactly what is most cost effective, because no two weddings are the same.


A view like this doesn't come cheap.  Venue: Malibu Rocky Oaks.  Photographer:  Dave Richards Photography

A view like this doesn’t come cheap. Venue: Malibu Rocky Oaks. Photographer: Dave Richards Photography


TIP: Ask recently wed friends about realistic costs, hire a wedding consultant for an a la carte budget consultation, even ask for baseline quotes when contacting prospective vendors – do your research before investing one penny into your wedding day. A consultant can build a budget that entails every single cost down to the penny, from risers for the band you want to hire to the generator you’ll need at the state park venue you love so much. The budget may look way higher than you expect, but there will be no surprises. Another tip: ask to see a recently wed friend’s budget and ask about their total costs, if his or her wedding venue and scope is similar to your vision.

Above all, don’t rush your decisions. Look before your leap – and you’ll sleep better at night during the entire wedding planning process.

We offer complimentary consultations for all couples, an informative hour where we can illustrate further how important it is to truly know and research your budget.  Call or email us anytime – we’re happy to help!  310-562-3306  /

You’re Engaged! What Next?

By | Siren Studios, Wedding Budget, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planner, Wedding Planning Checklist | No Comments

Happy New Year! And for many people, may I add:  Congratulations!  New Year’s Eve is the big day for proposals, and calls from potential clients are already starting to stream in.  I’m always excited to hear the stories of how he asked, what’s the ring like, etc.

Then my next question is usually:  What’s your budget?

Okay, I hate to be a killjoy, but as soon as you decide to get married, money is the main thing that drives all wedding planning choices.  If you are not intimately familiar with event planning, you can make many costly missteps along the away. That’s why the first thing you should do is call a wedding coordinator, stat.

A view like this doesn't come cheap - but if you book a seaside venue for your wedding, there are other ways to save on the event.

A portion of our services consist of Day of Coordination, and when we are chatting with a potential DOC client, we are often doing so towards the end of their planning process, a couple months before their big day.  That means they are at the end of their rope with budget.  We have been then declined (with regret) by the bride or groom because they simply don’t have the money anymore to hire us.

That’s why it is essential to hire a coordinator or consultant at the outset.  We (and many other consultants) provide value-oriented packages where we can sit down for a couple hours and do a thorough overview of your ideas, goals, and budget.  This gives the client a great head start in things, and a thorough education in the pitfalls of event planning that only a professional can provide.

For this wedding at Siren Studios, the clients and I carefully sourced the most cost-effective vendors to stay within budget. Photo by Alexandra Bissonette.

The client can then proceed with planning, and have the coordinator on hand for questions along the way, and then ultimately to serve as their day of coordinator.  This is a cost effective way to have moral support and expert guidance without the cost of a full planner.

On the other side of the spectrum, full planning is also a service full of value, as the planner uses every bit of her relationships and discounts with vendors to save the client nearly as much (if not more, in some cases) as his or her fee.  A hundred dollars there to a thousand here can make a difference – and the planner does so much work for you, ensuring less personal days taken off at work and way less stress throughout the way.  Which, as someone who’s done it all herself can tell you, is worth its weight in gold.

Other things to do after you say ‘yes’:

  • Shop for a gown.  Getting the exact size shipped in and alterations done can take months; sometimes clients luck out and find their dress on ebay or craigslist, or at resale shops like Encore.  In any case, it takes time.
  • Choose a time frame.  Query close family for their availability.  Remember that venues may have varying availability so have 2 – 3 dates in mind.
  • Start collecting inspiration pictures and ideas, and research the cost. The invitations you see in a magazine may be perfect, but they also might be hyper expensive.  Perhaps an etsy artisan can work with you on a custom design for the same or a bit less?

We take the responsibility of planning our clients’ weddings very seriously (though we have fun doing it!).  Even if you have a huge budget, it’s all about wisely investing in your big day.  Here’s to happy planning in 2012!

The Value of a Wedding Coordinator

By | Day of Coordinator, Fees, Uncategorized, Wedding Budget, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

Our services as planners – particularly as “day of coordinator”– are not all that tangible at first glance – they’re more abstract than, say, a wedding cake, which you can see, feel, and taste. But the basic truth is this: when you invest anywhere from 5k – 50k on upwards in an event, you are putting real money into it. If you were a corporation paying thousands for an event, you would be very careful to make sure it all goes well – it’s a pure business decision to hire an events pro to oversee it and protect your investment.

This astounding cake by the venerable Sylvia Weinstock required multiple phone calls and emails to ensure it flew (and drove!) safely from NYC to Palm Springs for May's Korakia event.

Banquet captains, catering managers, even photographers have told me, time and time again, that they end up stepping in to help things go well when a coordinator is lacking, but they don’t have the intricate knowledge of your vendors’ jobs to make sure the videographer who ran late stays an extra hour, or can whip out the florists’ contract to show them that they’re missing a centerpiece that they promised the client. They won’t be able to call in pizza when the lunch truck you ordered broke down (just happened last month), for example. They won’t be able to intensively analyze your timeline to make sure it’s realistic and allows for travel time to the location, or catch in your shuttle confirmation that the company goofed up on pickup time just 24 hours prior to the big day. It’s not because they don’t want to do these things – it’s because these things are not their job.

The team after setting up a candy bar at a Castle Green event. We time these set ups during dinner, otherwise the goodies would be gone before first course!

When we disclose our fees to potential clients, we sometimes hear in response that “we just need someone for the day” or “ an extra pair of hands to keep things running smoothly.” However, to coordinate all these moving parts, there needs to be preparation, meetings, and conversations (not just quick confirmation emails) with all vendors, or else the event will not be your envisioned ideal. This is not a hard-sell comment – this is the truth, based on experience.

I had a bilingual, Paris-based team assisting me brilliantly for June's destination wedding at the Hotel De Crillon.

Here’s how a typical fee quoted for a wedding breaks down:

  • 30% – 4 – 8 hours of prep for a typical wedding – securing diagrams from venue and aligning timeline with DJ and catering manager, reviewing contracts for any potential issues and ensuring we know exactly what vendors are supplying, serving as primary vendor liaison, and processing a spreadsheet that has all info (bridal party names and contact numbers, payments due, timeline, etc) that becomes our bible for the event. Also a fair amount of troubleshooting, nudging flaky vendors, catching a mistake on a vendor invoice, etc…
  • 20% – Face to face meetings. We offer 1 meeting for reception planning, 1 for ceremony planning, and 1 onsite walkthrough. Gas is my top expense and this portion of the fee allows me to afford mileage for the meetings.
  • 30% – This chunk covers time, effort, and labor on the big day. There is much manual labor and energy spent, as well as logistical management. We arrive quite early to check in with the bride, and stay till the end to pack up décor and close out any issues.
  • 10% – Ceremony rehearsal. It’s about a 4-hour chunk of time, and costs us in mileage, time and effort; this adds on to the work load and our expenses.
  • 10% – assistant fees, lunch, and parking for staff on the wedding day.

Folded into all of these percentages is the client’s ongoing accessibility to the lead coordinator with unlimited phone and email contact – helping the client make key planning decisions, offering vendor recommendations, adding items to the timeline, discussing etiquette issues, passing along articles of interest or a snapshot of a cool flower we saw at the mart that they might like in their bouquet. We take a thoughtful personal interest into all our client’s weddings – after all, they provide our livelihood.

As a proud small business, we are committed to our clients 100%. We don’t take other people’s money lightly – we want to make sure our couples believe they could have paid double for us, and we would have been worth it.

The main thing, though, is this: I’d do this for free if I had to. I love what I do. I always go above and beyond for my clients, every chance I get.  However, I have many of the same burdens my clients do – health insurance premiums, taxes, insurance costs, etc.  A good coordinator makes sure to carefully price his or her fees to reflect their own expenses and time invested, without adding any more than necessary to your budget.  And in the end, you’ll have a low-stress, beautiful, and happy event – something worth its weight in gold!