Some advice for brides on a budget

Thought I would share some tips from an article I saw today from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution > David Tutera’s advice for brides on a budget by Nedra Rhone.

Tutera, host of We TV’s “My Fair Wedding” offered the following tips I think are spot-on:

1. Trim the guests. “If you have 150 guests, really look at the list and see if you can scale it down to 100,” he says. His rule? “When you look at the photos in 10 years, will you know who these people are?”

2. Downsize the drinks. Tutera suggests choosing a specialty drink and serve wine and prosecco instead of champagne. My own thoughts: Why not offer the specialty drink plus beer and wine? And I love the prosecco idea.

3. Cut the cake. I agree that you don’t need a $2,000 cake. Spending too much here is probably not the best allocation of funds. He suggests maybe having an ice cream bar and just a small cake for cutting. We had a nice choice of cakes that came with our catering package. I don’t believe anyone in our family even HAD the cake, so there you go.

and my favorite piece of Tutera advice…

Be YOU and don’t copy someone else. “Couples get lost in all the craziness. They are so blurry-eyed by too much information, (the wedding) loses the personality of who they are. If you can remind yourself that there are two of you and you need to tell the story of who you are as a couple, you set the trends.”

Most important on your list….

US Passports

1. Leaving the continental U.S. for your honeymoon? Find your passport NOW, make sure it’s up to date, and scan it so you have both digital and hard copies. Always know where to find this critical document. Believe me, there are horror stories, and I lived through one.

2. Your marriage license. This is the most important item to bring to your ceremony. Whomever has the clipboard and itinerary on your wedding day should make sure this is on the top of the list! Again, horror stories.

These things may seem ordinary and boring compared with parties, shoe shopping, hair and nail appointments, but a misstep with one of the above necessities can ruin everything.

3 THINGS you probably don’t need

1. Save the date postcards or magnets — send it digitally or skip it all together!

2. Favors — why not make a donation instead? There are nice ways to present your intentions at your reception (more to come on that topic).

3. A basket of goodies for the ladies’ room at the reception — this is a nice idea, but don’t go crazy trying to do this. I’m pretty sure someone other than our guests helped themselves to our sundries.

Beware of the bad vendor

I was watching the news this week, and there was a “7 on Your Side”-type segment about a couple who selected a photographer whose work looked great, paid more than $6,000, and TWO YEARS later were still waiting for their promised albums. Not until they enlisted the help of their local NYC consumer advocacy team did they get what they paid for. Is this the exception or the rule? I wonder. My daughter and her husband had a similar situation with a wedding video that only appeared after they threatened legal action.

So, how can you protect yourselves and avoid these scenarios?

1. Do lots of shopping around for your vendors, and once you’ve decided whose work you like, check them out thoroughly. There are quite a few vendor reviews online; take them seriously!

2. Once you meet the contact person, and you decide you like them, ask for three recent references. These should be people who have already received what was promised.

3. Hold back as much of the payment as you can until ALL goods and services have been received. Negotiate this right up front.

4. Ask your venue/reception site manager or wedding planner for recommendations. They probably won’t recommend someone who might tarnish their own reputations. But this really isn’t enough to go on, so follow through with numbers 1 and 2 as well. Sometimes the photographer, videographer or florist is a relative of the site manager, so do your own homework too!

A wedding planner: Do you need one?

There’s no quick answer for this one because there are a bunch of variables. Some questions to consider: Will it be a big wedding (more than 150)? Do you have a nice sized budget? Do you have multiple stops(hotel, chapel, pictures, reception hall)? Are you holding the party at an unconventional venue?

If you answer “yes” to any of these, you might consider a wedding planner. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need a pro with a hefty hourly fee, or that you need someone to orchestrate every detail of the planning. But you may need some help managing all the moving parts on the big day itself.

Here’s my story, and what I would do differently. My daughter and I did all of the planning (with our big binder). We are both teachers and had the summer months to get it all together for a late August wedding. But on the day of the wedding itself, it would have gone much more smoothly to have someone else in charge for the day.

MOB, do you have a good friend who can assume that role? No high-priced pro needed– just an organized friend with a clipboard, a cell phone and a watch. It would actually be a great wedding gift to give! Another option is to see if professional planners can give you a wedding day only option.

Take-away message: On such an emotional and busy day, don’t assume– like I did– that you can handle it. Get someone else, and give them a detailed itinerary along with key contacts and cell numbers.

What are your responsibilities as a bridesmaid?

1. This is NOT about you. It is about being a friend to this woman who thought enough of your friendship to want you to be a member of her wedding party on the most important day of HER life. Not yours. If you don’t think you can be pretty selfless for a year or more, politely decline. How do you politely decline? In any number of ways, but do it politely.

2. You will hopefully be asked to give feedback to the bride’s image of the perfect bridesmaid ensemble. Give your feedback, but avoid obnoxious declarative statements like, “I’m not wearing that.” Remember, HER day. There is a way to offer constructive feedback in order to save yourself from spending the day in an unflattering outfit: POLITELY.

3. You will spend some money in the coming year. You can have some budget parameters in mind to keep the bride from going crazy with couture, but that conversation should happen right away. “I am absolutely thrilled to be in your wedding, but since we’re all just starting out and have budget concerns, can you give us a price range you’re considering?” If your bride says “it’s worth it because you can wear it again,” know that you probably won’t. You can count on the year costing you upwards of $1000, which includes your outfit, gifts for engagement, shower and wedding, and your portion of bachelorette and shower festivities.

4. If you are the maid of honor, you are the captain of the bridesmaid team. Set up a google group, or start group emails so you’re all in agreement on monetary, planning and other decisions. You are also the point person, representing the rest of the ladies, in conversations with the bride. You, for example, should be the one who knows the bride would LOVE to go to a winery for her bachelorette party.

5. You are EXPECTED to be there for the big events– engagement party, shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner. Know the dates early on and COMMIT TO THEM. Your boyfriend’s birthday is NOT a reason to skip out on the bride’s shower.

So, why would the MOB need to know all of this? Because you are the one who may be called upon to get a rogue bridesmaid in line so she doesn’t upset the bride.