Weddings can be expensive. In 2015 the average wedding in the United States cost $26,645! We want to share some tips to meet your wedding budget.
1. Set Priorities!
The first step is to decide what is most important to you. Is it the ceremony location, the reception locations, the dress, or the entertainment? Spend more on what is important to you!
2. Use Your Friends
Your friends can help you as much, or more, than your family. Figure out who would be best for a certain project, such as centerpieces, and ask them to help!
3. Headcount: Less is More
The is the biggest budget-buster of them all! If you are having difficulty parring down the list start with coworkers and children. Your friends and family are the ones who are most likely to share in your joy!
4. Think About the Off-Season
Major savings can be had if you get married in the off-season. In St. Louis this means Summer and Winter. Sure the weather might be 100º and 100% humidity or -10º with a foot of snow but that's what all-inclusive venues are made for. Have your ceremony and reception in one location and your guests won't have to go outside!
5. Wedding at a Restaurant?
Many restaurants can handle weddings! They are sometimes less expensive, the food is great, and they already have great decor!
6. Spend Money on a Planner
This might sound counter-intuitive, but spend money on a professional wedding planner. They know how to do budgets and they are not afraid to haggle on price with vendors. They also have relationships with the vendors which helps more than anything.
7. Flea Market Decor
Before you eschew this idea, think about all the unique items you can find at a flea market for your centerpiece and other table decorations. Shabby chic is in!
8. Get the SPAM
Sign up for the email lists through various wedding vendors. You will learn about last-minute trunk shows at bridal shops and other money-saving specials! Pro Tip: Create and email address just for this purpose.
9. Something Borrowed
Borrow one of the big-ticket items. This could be jewelry, the veil, cuff-links, or just about anything else!
10. Family Style
Instead of buffet or individual plated dinner, consider a family-style dining option. This will be unique, encourage guests to talk to each other, and allow you to offer a wider variety of food options. Sounds like a win-win-win to us!
11. Limited Open Bar
If you limit your bar to beer, wine, and a signature drink you can save big. The bonus is, it will speed up the bar service!
12. Cut the Cake
Instead of a cake you can have brownies, donuts, or gooey butter cake. This can allow you to provide a variety at less cost than a fancy artisan cake.
13. OK, Don't Cut the Cake
If you must have a designer cake you can have a small one made for the cake cutting ceremony and then serve sheet cake to the guests. This will be a huge savings and your guests won't know the difference!
14. A Different Kind of Champagne
Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. There are other sparkling wines such as Cava, Prosecco, and Cremant which taste as good or better than Champagne at much less cost.
15. Basic Services
Do you have your eye on a photographer or DJ that you really want to book, but you don't think you can afford them? Book their basic package. You can always upgrade or add extras later on once you have other budget items figured out.
Why Provide Guest Transportation?
Logistics of moving large groups of people between multiple locations may not be something you think about with weddings, but maybe you should! This is especially true if:
- You have several guests coming from out of town
- Parking is limited at your venue(s)
- Your venue(s) are difficult to find
- You have a tight schedule and need guests to arrive promptly
- If you are having an after-party
When scheduling the run times of the shuttles, it is very important that you leave enough time for multiple trips, if needed. The shuttles should start trips back to the parking location or hotel soon after dinner is over in order to accommodate older folks and guests with young children that need to leave early. Knowing what type of guests will be in attendance will help you plan accordingly. Make sure the last shuttle leaves about 15 minutes after the reception formally ends. This will give guests time to make it to the shuttle. You may also want to budget for an additional end-of-night run in case the majority of your guests stay until the end.
Informing your Guests
If your guests are not aware that you are providing transportation they cannot take advantage of it!
So, what should you let them know?
- Pick-up and drop-off locations
- Shuttle service start and end times
- Time in-between shuttles
Here's where we recommend letting everyone know:
- On your wedding website
- An informational pack the hotel gives out at check-in
- A welcome note given to guests at arrival
- Your ceremony officiant can make an announcement
- A small sign on the bars
- Let your DJ or band know to make announcements
If you have shuttles going to multiple locations put a sign in the shuttle window so guests get on the correct one!
Spring is finally here and that may have you thinking that a backyard wedding is perfect for you! There is a lot of planning involved, much more than just having a party at your house. Here are some tips for planning the backyard wedding of your dreams!
Just because you are not paying a venue doesn't mean that a backyard wedding will be less expensive. There are a lot of rentals and incidental costs to consider which can actually make it more expensive. Keep in mind things like refrigeration and caterer friendly kitchen equipment (typically your home kitchen will not suffice), tables and chairs, decorations, portable restrooms, electrical power (usually the outdoor outlets cannot provide enough and a typical generator is not safe or quiet enough), dance floor, protection from the sun or rain, guest parking, etc.
We may sound like a broken record in our newsletters but we cannot recommend enough hiring a professional wedding planner, especially with something like an outdoor wedding.
Unpredictable St. Louis Weather
Everyone knows to just wait an hour if you don't like the weather in St. Louis, it will change; sometimes dramatically.
Renting a tent with sides that can be quickly deployed is a must. DO NOT rely on pop-up canopies from the local store! Those are not safe in even moderate winds. They also are not very tall and can feel claustrophobic with a lot of people in them. A professional tent will be installed safely and provide plenty of room for your guests. Don't forget to give the caterers someplace protected to prepare the meals!
Not only will a tent protect your guests from the rain it will also shade them from the sun. Tents can even be heated or air conditioned if needed!
A nice touch is to provide plastic heel covers, hand fans, and bug spray for your guests to keep them comfortable.
Choosing the Right Food and Decor
The decor and food should reflect your personal tastes and the vibe of an outdoor wedding.
It is easier for your caterer to provide grilled food at an outdoor reception, plus the smell of the grill will add to the ambiance!
Flowers should be hardy enough to take the St. Louis heat. Work with your florist to choose flowers that won't wilt quickly. Orchids and potted plants are ideal.
The decor should be heavy enough to not blow away in the wind. Napkins, menus, and place cards should be secured with tape or a weight to keep them in place. Anything hanging should be heavy enough to not blow around and be secure enough to not get knocked down by the wind.
Keeping the Neighbors Happy
Keeping the neighbors happy can be as much of a challenge as the rest of the planning combined! Invite them over for lunch or dinner and drinks let them know you are planning to have a wedding at your home. If you can, invite them! If you can't invite them, giving them notice that allows them to plan accordingly.
Parking will be problematic. Contact City Hall about parking regulations so you know exactly where you can and cannot park cars. One solution is to hire a valet company. This will ensure cars are parked legally and your guests will not have to walk very far in an unfamiliar neighborhood. A second option is to work with a local business to use their lot and hire a shuttle limo bus to bring guests to the house.
Noise will be a concern for your neighbors. Work with your entertainment vendor to make sure it doesn't get too loud outside of the property. The layout of the wedding and the direction the speakers face makes a big difference in how far the sound travels. A professional sound company or DJ will be able to help you figure out the best layout. They will also have a sound level meter with them to ensure they stay within city and homeowner's association regulations on noise.