Monday, May 26, 2014

Research: Your Wants vs. Your Wallet

Good afternoon Wed-heads!

First and foremost, in recognition of Memorial Day, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for the service of all those serving or who have served our country. Thanks to the families and friends that have supported them every step of the way. The rest of us either don't know, or forget what it means to give yourself up for the protection of this country. We celebrate you and your sacrifice today and always!

Ok on to business. Today's blog will be short and sweet, so you can gain some info, but get back to spending the day with your family. Today we're discussing Your Wants vs Your Wallet. Research is key to staying on budget.

So last week you made a list of MUST HAVES and allocated a percentage of your overall budget to those items. Now calculate the dollar amounts of those percentages and create a spreadsheet. A very simple Excel sheet will do. So for example, designate the first column for a list of wedding items: Invitations, Ceremony, Reception, Flowers/Decor, Photographer, Videographer, DJ/Band, Cake, Dress, Tuxedo, Rings, Bridal Party Gifts, Honeymoon...these are just standard items. So add whatever extras you need. Then put the percentage or dollar amounts for each of those items in the column next to it. For example, if your overal budget is $20,000 and you want to spend 50% of it on the Reception, then $10,000 is your maximum to spend and should be entered in the column next to "Reception". If you have decided that 2% is enough to spend on Flowers, then $400 is your max and you enter that next to "Flowers/Decor". I just want you to have it on paper that these are the amounts that you should try to stay within for each item. The next set of columns will be filled in as you begin your research.

Research is critical when planning a perfect day. It can make or break your wallet; and if the right vendors are not chosen, you could end up with a wedding nightmare! There are several places where to begin searching for the right vendors that suit your budget. Obviously the Internet is king. There are tons of wedding sites, free and not free, where you can search for vendors in your area. Just hop on Google and begin! Comb the vendors' sites for a list of services, offers, discounts etc. If you find some of interest, add a column to the spreadsheet for each vendor. Enter their pricing into the spreadsheet, and see if it falls within your budget amount. If it doesn't, you know they are not a viable candidate to use for your wedding. For example, if it's going to cost you $15,000 to feed 125 guests at the new reception hall in town, but your budgeted amount is only $10,000; the answer is clear, move on to the next vendor because you can not afford this one.

Once you get some viable candidates, check out their approval ratings on Yelp and even the Better Business Bureau's website. Everything might look like it's coming up roses with this vendor, but they might have some dirty little secrets in the closet! So beware of anything that seems like it's too good to be probably is.

Your next step is to hit every Bridal Show there is in your area! Become a bridal expo groupie! LOL Get in front of the vendors, ask questions, see how they treat you, experience what they have to offer. And finally, talk to people who have used these vendors in the past. Hop on a forum, check their reviews. Or if you know of someone personally, call them! Or ask around on Facebook and Twitter.

Word of Mouth referrals are actually your best friend. Every business owner can make a tantalizing brochure and offer pricing that makes you want to sign a contract asap...but if your cousin's girlfriend's friend used them in the past and screams "The food was horrible!" or "He really can't DJ!", then you know to walk away...your wants and wallet intact.

Finally, when you think you've found the perfect venues and vendors that fall into your budget, give yourself a few days to think about it before signing on the dotted line. So many brides lead with their emotions. Now is not the time for that! You have to be smart and treat this part of planning your wedding like a job. Be informed, be smart, be focused on your goal. Begin by contacting the vendor and build a relationship. Ask pertinent questions such as if your date is available; are there any discounts available; how much is the deposit; is it refundable if you need to reschedule/cancel due to an emergency. Then and only then do you schedule an appointment, read the contract thoroughly, and last, put a deposit down.

Once the research is over and the contracts are signed, the "work" is done. Now on to the fun stuff!! Creating an atmosphere you and your guests will remember for a lifetime! Next week, we'll talk about themes and trends.

Until then, Wed-heads, Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

When to Start Planning & Building A Budget

Good morning, Wed-heads!

So last week, we talked about how very important it is to pick a good date for your wedding. Whether it is a date that has special meaning to you and your fiance', or if it's a date that's just convenient; that date will matter most when planning your wedding.  Your wedding date is not only the beginning of your new life together, it is your GUIDELINE!!!!

It is your road map, your yellow brick road, your light at the end of the tunnel. All of the many details for your wedding day have to be planned and finalized before that day, in order to be executed properly on that day. So it is imperative to use that date as a guideline to when you start planning.
Most professionals will tell you to begin planning your wedding 6 - 8 months before your wedding date. And if you are thinking of doing a destination wedding, then begin planning 1 year before your wedding date. Either way, starting sooner rather than later will save you alot of stress during the process. And it will allow you to have down time as your date approaches. Imagine being able to sit back and relax two weeks before your big day, knowing that every T is crossed and every I is dotted!
Now, every little girl dreams of her wedding day, well most of us do. So you may already have some ideas of where you'd like your ceremony and reception, what kind of flowers you want; and some of you Wed-heads may have already had your dress picked out before you got the ring! LOL If thats the case, the first step in planning is to develop a Budget.

I know, I sucks to have to talk money when it comes to your wedding day. Like the commercial says, it's "priceless"; you can not put a dollar amount on your hopefully once-in-a-lifetime day!  SMACK! Do you know what that is? Me slapping you back into reality! LOL C'mon ladies, this is not the movies or a fairy tale, somebody has to pay for this wedding, and it is up to you to determine how much it's going to cost them!
Here's how to build a budget:
1. According to several sources, the average amount spent on a wedding in the United States is $28,000. Start by talking to your fiance', your parents, or look at your own bank accounts. Sit down with all the parties involved that will be paying for the wedding, and determine what you can actually AFFORD to spend and what you are WILLING to spend on the wedding. You may want a $28,000 wedding, but perhaps you can only afford to spend $18,000. And that is perfectly fine! You can have a fabulous wedding on most budgets. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you still need to live (eat, pay rent, pay bills) before the wedding, and you need to be comfortable after the wedding. So decide on a dollar amount that will allow you to still eat steak and potatoes, not pb& j sandwiches after you're married!

2. Next, make a spreadsheet of what I like to call MUST HAVES. Must Haves are the wedding elements you've been dreaming about since you were 5. Pull out all of those magazine pictures you've been hoarding and make a list of what you absolutely can not do without on your wedding day.  It could be a desired location, a particular dress, a special flower, or something sentimental like flying in that long lost loved one to share the day with you. Ask your fiance to write his/her own list, and you combine the two.

3. And last, allocate a percentage of your total budget amount toward each of those Must Haves. For example, if the most important Must Have is the reception location for you, then say you'll spend 50% of your budget on that. If the flowers are next in line of importance, then allocate 10% to that. And if there is something on your list that is not that important, say for example, renting a limo, then designate a small amount of 2% on that. Its really up to you how you determine what you want to spend. What's most important is having a rule book to follow.

So in closing, as the expression goes, "The early bird gets the worm." The sooner you start planning, the sooner you will get what you want, at the price you can afford! Its that easy.

Next week, we will discuss researching venues and vendors on your Must Have list. Research is key to finding the perfect match between your wants and wallet! Until then, Wed-heads!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Picking A Date!

Hi fellow Wed-heads!

First, let me say congrats to you and your fiance'!!! Because if you're reading this, you now have the ring and are on your way to planning your big day.
And if you're anything like me, you love all things weddings! I am most passionate about several things when it comes to weddings; bringing design to life, staying organized, and helping my clients stay on budget.

My name is Taryn Renee', and I am the owner of Simple Elegance Event Planning.  I am a member of the prestigious Association of Bridal Consultants, and a member of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, Middletown, CT.

My business was founded in 2009 on one simple principle, that every couple should be able to have the wedding of their dreams, even on a small budget. And after planning many weddings, milestone birthdays, bachelor parties, and a family reunion these last few years, I believe that through organization, attention to budgets, and a lot of creative thinking will allow you to have all the things you want most at your wedding, even if you are not rich and famous.

It’s HOW you approach it that’s key. In this age of Do-It-Yourselfers, most brides are opting out of hiring full service event planners. I applaud your enthusiasm. And I'd love to give you a step by step guide to creating a magical day. Just remember, you will have to be smart, savvy, strict in some areas, and flexible in others. I’m here to show you how!
Step One: Pick A Date
When selecting a wedding date, you should do one of the following:
  • Choose a date that is significant to you and your fiance. Some couples like to get married on or around their dating anniversary. While in recent years, some couples have chosen holidays such as Halloween, Valentine's Day and New Years Eve as their big day and design a theme around the holiday. Stats also show a significant increase of couples choosing trendy, once in a lifetime calendar dates such as 7-7-2007 or 4-4-2014. And some couples just go with the flow; choosing whatever date their desired ceremony/reception location has available!
  • Select a date that works best for both of your families. When picking a date, you want to make sure you do not choose a day when another wedding or family event is going on. Sometimes it can not be helped, but if you already have an invitation to your cousin's wedding in June, don't pick that date! Or if you know this is the year for the big family reunion out of state, definitely stay away from that date as well. What you do not want to happen is that family members choose the family event over your wedding and not come. You want a date when the majority of everyone can conveniently attend.
  • Time of Year.  Obviously, the Spring and Summer are the best times to travel if you live in the New England area. Selecting a date during the better weather months is always a considerate thing to do for your potential guests. But choosing a date over a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day or July 4th is never good. Many people plan their vacation around holiday weekends, so this may cause conflict if their trip is the same weekend of your wedding. Unless you don't want alot of people to attend, LOL, pick an otherwise boring weekend for your big day.
So the bottom line is, picking the perfect date will assure the maximum amount of guests that will attend and share this special moment with you. Be smart and choose a safe date!
Next week, I will begin discussing when to start making plans. Until then, Happy Planning Wed-heads!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

DIY Event Planning: A Step by Step Guide to Planning Your Wedding

Morning fellow Wed-heads!  
If you're anything like me, you are absolutely in love with all things wedding! I have two passions when it comes to weddings; bringing designs to life, and helping my clients stay on budget.
Let me help you create an atmosphere of beauty and prestige on a realistic budget.