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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!