Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wedding Budget Planning - Let's Get Real

Whew what a weekend we had. We were both planner and guest at a most amazing wedding at Callanwolde Fine Arts and the end result was worth all of the tummy aches.  Goodness it is stressful when you want a friend's wedding to be perfect! 

This week I wanted to talk to you about something else that can be super stressful; your wedding budget.  I think that we get asked more about budgeting than anything else and everyone seems to be the most stressed out about sticking to or coming below that bottom line.  
Champagne tastes on a beer budget - possibly the hardest thing to overcome

The first step to budgeting is understanding what you've got. If your parents are going to give you some start up cash and you and your hubs-to-be are contributing as well, make sure you've got it all laid out on the table (not literally though, you aren't a gangster).  Understand what that means to you.  For instance, are there things that are non-negotiables for you? I have a bride and groom that are HUGE foodies and their menu is just non-negotiable so they are willing to spend whatever it takes to get the food that they want.  I have another couple that feel that way about their band.  What are some of your non-negotiables?

Let's look at some budget tools - we've got one from the  This handy budget tool helps you to figure out what you should be spending in each category and lets you override what they suggest which I kind of like.  This way you can make sure that your budget matches those non-negotiables.  

Now, you've got a point from which to jump for your budget, and it is time for me to get on my soapbox, so please excuse me.  My best advice to all of you, no matter how big or small your budget may be, BE REALISTIC.  That is be realistic upfront so that you are not disheartened. What do I mean? If you love a photographer's photos that you've seen in Martha Stewart and you are dying to use them, be realistic when it comes to their pricing.  If you select that photographer, and that leaves your budget a little lower than you thought, revisit some of the other areas of your budet and see how you can make that work.  Remember, all budgets, no matter the type, require balance and revision.

The picture from the top describes it all- beer budget and champagne tastes.  Some times you've got that budget number in mind and it just doesn't reflect what you think you can get.  This couldn't be farther from the truth.  My advice - do your research and be flexible.  Perhaps you can't afford custom linens from the creme de la creme.  But I bet you can find a linen vendor who does great work at an affordable price.  Or perhaps you should compromise on the linens and have your caterer provide them.  Now you've got a little extra money to spend on that super awesome band you heard at a friend's wedding.  The whole idea of budgeting is to stay true to yourself, be honest about what you can spend, and think outside the box.  Ok stepping down from my soapbox now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guest Blog- We're Getting Married in a Restaurant: Here's Why

Last week, we brought you our thoughts on getting married in some of the greatest Atlanta restaurants and it spurred a lot of interest from y'all.  Here is a personal account from Erica Campbell, summer bride, savvy fashionista and marketing guru.  Can't get enough Erica (I certainly can't), then make sure to read all about her  experience as she plans her wedding on her HILARIOUS blog, Love You, Bows and Arrows.  Check out her thoughts about getting married at JCT Kitchen & Bar.

Every time I tell people I’m getting married at a restaurant (Atlanta’s very own JCT Kitchen & Bar), they make that face. You know the face. The one where at first they’re showing their confusion and then, upon catching themselves, they slowly widen their smile and say something like “cool” “unique” or “that’s interesting.”  Okay, maybe not every time, and maybe not everyone, but it seems like getting married in a restaurant isn’t exactly the “go-to” for most couples these days. Luckily, the fiancé and I aren’t most couples and we chose our “unique, cool and interesting” venue for some great reasons:  

Ceremony, cocktail hour and reception are all in one venue without having to flip the rooms.  Everything’s under one top, so there’s no need to worry about your great aunt getting lost in the streets of Atlanta on the way to the second location. In short, it’s like an all-inclusive resort for weddings.

This is definitely something that comes to mind when wedding planning, you want to try to keep the cost down while still having the wedding of your dreams. Granted you can still have a wedding to rival the cost of the Kardashian Humphries catastrophe of 2012 at a restaurant venue but you don’t necessarily have to.  In most restaurants there is already décor. Linens, chairs and in some cases even flowers, they all come with the restaurant already, saving you money on over the top décor that wouldn’t really fit the feel of the place anyway. There’s also the fact that some restaurants allow you to bypass the rental fee, you’re just paying for the food and beverage minimum. It’s like any other night at the restaurant, except the only people eating there think you and the person you love are awesome and you look like a million bucks (not that you don’t usually look that way).

We didn’t want a church wedding (sorry dad) and we didn’t want to get married in a huge house either. We wanted something unique that felt like us. Our ideal venue was rustic, industrial, southern but not country. JCT is all of that, perfectly nestled in Atlanta’s west side market district. When we walked in the first time we knew we liked the place and when we ate the food we fell in love, which brings us to number four on our list.

You’ve watched four weddings, don’t lie. You love that show. Don’t worry, I love it too. So tell me, what do people talk the most about at the weddings? Is it music? Nope. The bride?  Maybe a little. But it’s the food that makes or breaks the night. So why not have your wedding at a place that serves hundreds of people a day. That takes care of the issue of cold meals or tasteless food. Plus, by the time you’ve gotten into wedding shape you’ll want a feast, and a restaurant is the perfect place to do that. That’s what I plan on doing anyway. 

Erica, you hit the nail on the head, my dear.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Featured On Style Me Pretty- My Very Own Wedding

Hi Everyone,

Exciting news! Back on Sept 2, 2012, Clint Powell and I got married.  It was literally the BEST day of my life and finally, I get to share it with the world.  Here it is on Style Me Pretty and below you can see some of my favorite images (there are way more on Style Me Pretty).  Behind the Veil's (although I didn't wear one) proudest moment, and holy cow, Stacey Bode, how you captured it perfectly.

Quick plug- y'all this is what it looks like when you are fortunate enough to work with caring, thoughtful, talented vendors.  I could almost cry when I think about how lucky I am to have worked with these folks.  Please see the list on the bottom so you know who is responsible for this.

Wedding Photography: Stacey Bode |  Wedding Venue: Mason Murer Fine Arts in Atlanta, Georgia | Event Planning + Design: the Bride + Maggie Rentz from Estoria Social | Wedding Cinematography: Paul Wages | Officiant: Rabbi Josh Lesser | Floral Design : Maggie Rentz from Estoria Social | Catering: Bold American Caterers | Pies: Little Tart Bakeshop | Vintage Furniture Rentals: Mao Thao | Lighting: PSAV | Linen Rental: I Do Linens | Drapery: Event Drapery |  Reception Music: DJ SugarCut from Scratch Weddings | Wedding Invitations: Pinto Bean Press | Wedding Stationery: DIY by the Bride + Bride’s Mother | Favors: the Bride | Transportation: Cooper Transportation | Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero via Le Dress Boutique | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Jewelry: Best Friend’s Great-Grandmother |  Bridesmaids’ Attire: J.Crew and Monique Lhuillier | Bride’s Mother: Teri Jon | Groom + Groomsmen attire: Macy’s and Nordstrom |Hair: Aaron Ruehling from SalonModello | Makeup: Lindsey Corrado from BellaB Make Up Artistry

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vetting a Venue - What to Look For and What to Avoid When Selecting a Wedding Venue

So on Tuesday, we told you all about a wonderful alternative to all of the classic event spaces in Atlanta.  Today, we are giving you our take on what to look for in a venue, whether it is as classic as a country club or as unconventional as a bookstore(yes, that's a real thing). We've put together a top five list of "Things to ask yourself when selecting a venue."

1.  What are the upfront costs v. the backend costs?  

Sure this sounds all business-y, but you are now running a small business project where you get to select the best vendors to help you make your project golden.  One day, we were sitting with a couple putting together a list of venue visits, and we rattled off a bunch of locations that we thought would be fitting.  "But all of those are too expensive!"protested the bride.  "We were thinking more along the lines of  (insert seemingly inexpensive venue here)."  Look, I am all about finding an expensive venue, but you must look at the upfront costs v. the backend costs.  This means, what will you pay now and save on later vs. paying for a less expensive venue and paying more for service items once the venue is booked.  Can that venue provide you tables and chairs? Or is that something extra that you are going to have to rent.  A few venues provide chairs for their indoor space but will not allow you to bring those chairs outside, and the ceremony spaces are OUTSIDE.  So guess what? You end up getting a set of chairs for every single guest, that will only be used for the 30 minutes of your ceremony - seems like quite the backend cost that you wouldn't think about until after you'd booked the space.  Some things to look for: does the space provide tables and chairs?  Highboys? Cocktail rounds? A usable kitchen for your caterer (some spaces require a portable kitchen which may mean a higher cost to you from the caterer)?  Basically, ask yourself, what is included and what am I going to have to pay for/coordinate once I've booked.  Remember, your caterer/planner can help you think these things through and you may find that a venue that seems more expensive upfront, might cause much less of a headache.

2.  What kind of "space" am I getting out of my space?

If you are planning to do both your ceremony and reception at the same venue, make sure you know what kind of space you are getting from your venue.  Sounds simple enough, right? But make sure you know that if you are having any part of your wedding outside, what the rain plan might be.  With an outdoor ceremony, that then becomes an indoor ceremony due to weather, you may be dealing with a much smaller space that won't allow for full seating capacity.  As for your reception space, it is important to understand how many guests can comfortably sit at tables if there is a dance  floor, entertainment, and food set up.  Understand the space requirements between a buffet and stations, a band and a DJ.  Just because once upon a time the venue held an event with 250 guests/a 10-piece band and a plated seated dinner back before the current on site event planner was there (but she SWEARS it!) doesn't mean you shouldn't ask to see that floor plan.  Same goes with a room "flip;" yet another hidden cost.  A room flip requires the catering staff/other staff to move chairs/tables/equipment from one space to another, ie you are using the same chairs for your ceremony as your reception and you've only ordered the exact number for your guest count.  Your ceremony is outside and then once it is completed, the staff moves your chairs indoors for the reception.  Or you want your ceremony space to magically become a reception space over cocktail hour - add in that flip fee!  Best to know what you are getting out of your space before you commit to something that might increase your budget

3.  What's the alcohol policy?

Looking for a spot to save some money?  Find a venue that allows you to bring in your own alcohol.  Booze packages can make the bottom line really add up so it is in your best interest to find a place that offers a lower upfront cost (see item 1 above) and their own booze package or one that might cost a little more but allows you to bring in your own alcohol.  It is pretty great to see your alcohol costs come down by about 60%. Of course, this does mean that you will need to still hire bartenders and use the glassware provided by the caterers, as well as purchase a soft drink package.

4.  Who are the preferred vendors?

Some venues require that you choose your vendors from a selected list or face a penalty fee for using an outside vendor for things such as catering. decor or equipment.  Make sure you know the penalty up front (if you plan to break off of the preferred list) or do your research about the companies on the list.  Most of the time, the venues select a preferred vendor list because these are the folks with the most experience/understanding of the venue.  Of course we always endorse newbies entering into the market, however, if your best friend swears she can whip up a dinner for 250, and you're looking to do it just to save on costs, remember there is a cost associated with not selecting from the preferred vendor list.  And no guarantees on your piece of mind!

5.  What is my experience going to be like with the staff/venue

When booking your venue, it is important to look to the staff you will be dealing with both upfront and the day of your event.  Who will you work with on the sales team?  Who will be there the day of your event?  What is this person's experience? Look, this may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but personally, we feel like if the only job of a venue is to book and hold events, there is no reason they shouldn't answer emails/phone calls within a reasonable timeframe.  That doesn't necessarily mean, same hour, or even same day, but it should mean within 48 hours.  Brides and grooms ask crazy questions no matter who they are (yes even if they are vendors by trade), so if your in-house event person is making you feel bad for asking questions you feel are important, that's just plain unfair. It is a reasonable expectation of the job! Also, remember, there are such things as reasonable expectations as the couple getting married - if you keep hearing "no" from the event staff, you might want to look elsewhere.  We looked into a venue that marketed itself as a garden venue with an outdoor ceremony and reception space.  Little did we know that the neighborhood hated the venue and was trying to force it to stop holding events with music outside.  We were told our couples couldn't have amplified music for their ceremony and certainly couldn't hold their reception outside whatsoever.  This is the kind of space we recommend you reconsider!

Hope this helps you to kick off your search for the perfect venue!! Remember, not everything is going to be perfect, but if you've got the budget on your mind, think about how your venue can be a part of keeping costs low.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Engagement Session- Sarah and Michael

In ten short days these two wonderful folks say "I Do."  After a two year courtship and a seven month engagement the day is fast approaching.  Didn't Andrew Thomas Lee do a wonderful job of capturing their love for each other?


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