I won't even begin to act like I know how to set a realistic budget for a wedding or what to look for in a contract, not to mention who to tip. So, I'm leaving this monstrous task to the lovely (and ridiculously awesome) ladies of Armchair's Events. Here's how Chassis Louie and Ali-Ann O'Brien answered the following questions. Hope it helps....it sure helped Jared and me!
How do you set a realistic wedding budget and stick to it?
- At the beginning of your planning process, identify what is important for you. This will help you prioritize what you put your budget towards.
- Know the ranges in cost of services before determine what your budget is. For example, what is the range of costs for bands vs. a range for DJ? What are the food and beverage minimums at different tiers of venues? This is why it’s valuable to have a wedding planner involved early in the process – we can guide you through the questions and answers.
- Our role is to provide counsel about the various price points for vendors. Rather than start with a definitive total budget, I recommend first understanding what different pieces are to hosting a wedding, and using that to help focus in on a number that right for you. Otherwise, you risk creating a number that sin’t based on any real information.
What are the dew's and don't in regards to a contract, in particular a venue contract?
- Your contracts are important, as they ensure everyone is on the same page for the event.
- The contract for your venue will be the largest if it’s in a location that prepares the food, like a hotel. It will include all your food and beverage costs, and may also include elements like room blocks and other set up fees.
- Don’t assume that venues and caterers have a one-size-fits-all contract. The venues and caterers that we work with customize proposals all the times based on what your needs are.
- For the venue contract, make sure your contract spells out your food and beverage minimum, what you get within you package and your per person cost. Have your planner walk you through the incremental costs that you may incur, like if you are paying additional fees for dance floor, coat check, attendants and ceremony microphones. Understand how many servers/ and bartenders per amount of guests will be available at your party and if you have enough personnel working to make sure your guests feel well taken care of. Many things are negotiable, so it’s important to know the right questions to ask.
- If your date is flexible and you are willing to move to an “off-peak” time of year or have an event on a Friday or a Sunday, you will be able to get more for your money with regards to your food and beverage packages, your room rate and the contracts with many of your vendors.
- Ultimately, I want my clients to get good value and to feel good about their decision. And I want the venue and vendors to be clear on the terms and for them to be excited to support your event.
Who do you tip? Photographer? Hair/make-up? Florist? Anyone? How much?
- Tips exist to show appreciation to someone who has provided good service. I advise my clients that it is important to tip your banquet manager and captains, the catering manager, bartenders and valet at the venue. It’s also a nice gesture to tip your hair and makeup, transportation and other team members who have gone the extra mile for you.
- It may seem counter-intuitive, but we suggest providing tips to the banquet team before the event, as it energizes the team members to work even harder for you that evening.
- The topics of finances and budget can be a hard conversation for families. For some couples, this is the first time they are having real conversations about money.
- It’s important to be open and honest, and to really hear each family’s perspective, especially if there are various people contributing to the wedding.
- As with any milestone, weddings bring a lot of emotions to the forefront. Some people are more comfortable talking about money than others, and that’s OK. That’s why it’s important to ground yourself in the love you feel for each other. So if you disagree about aspects of the budget, that’s ok. A successful relationship is built on trust, support … and, well, compromise. So the planning process may give you some great practice for things to come.