In this two-part series, we’re breaking down the most commonly asked questions when it comes to planning your wedding day.
From figuring out your budget to gathering inspiration, and navigating your guest list we had some of our preferred wedding planners share their insight and expertise with us.
Three of our favorite planners share their insight and respond to each of our questions. We interviewed Jamie from The Absolute Event, Grace from Red Velvet Productions, and Eric from ET Events.
While your priorities for your big day may differ, these vendors are providing some guidelines and rules of thumb to help you navigate the wedding planning process.
So without further ado, let’s dive into these helpful tips to conquer your wedding day planning.
7 HELPFUL TIPS TO CONQUER WEDDING DAY PLANNING
1 | What’s the typical allocation of budget for wedding vendors? How do you guide your couples in distributing their budget?
All of our vendors emphasized the need for truly identifying what is important to the bride and groom to determine the budget allocation for your wedding.
Grace’s Response: Helping the couples will be specific to each case but I will say it depends directly on priorities and preferences on how they would like to spend their budget. One of the first questions we ask is: “what is important for them to see on their special day?” From there I guide them to divide their budget in the best way possible.
Here’s a typical breakdown of budget allocation:
- Venue 15%
- Catering 40%
- Decoration and Flowers 30%
- Others 15%
Jamie’s Response: I’m not a fan of this question and don’t traditionally believe in one set answer or pie charts available online (that are always false).
We work with our clients to provide them with a budget template before we get started to show them all the anticipated costs associated with a wedding. We explain that it doesn’t mean that all items will apply for their wedding but we prefer to plant the seeds early so they’re not surprised as time goes on.
From our initial call with a potential client (even before they make a decision to hire us), we ask questions that provide us with a strong understanding of where their budget is and what their priorities, tastes, and styles are. From there we explain and reiterate that even if they are coming to the table with a number in mind, they have to let the process start before they can even understand what their wedding may actually cost. As we move forward, we certainly utilize our relationships, knowledge, and experience to get them the best value for the best quality.
While I am not a fan of the blanket pie charts that show a breakdown of your wedding day budget without asking any of these upfront questions, the venue with or without food and beverage, and decor are typically the largest pieces of the pie in your budget.
Eric’s Response: I feel it’s important to have a balanced budget when it comes to different aspects (vendors) for a wedding. We focus on explaining this to our couples and guiding them through the process. That being said, it’s essentially up to them, and everyone is different in what’s most important to them. Foodies are willing to spend more on catering and stay tighter with the décor budget. Other people care about the style and décor and don’t care much about the food. And then there are the brides that want 80% of the budget just for their dress! (LOL, just kidding. Kind of…).
Very early on in the planning process, we sit with the couple and create a rough breakdown of what the costs will be based on their budget, tastes, and needs. It’s important to do this at the beginning to set realistic expectations so there are no surprises, let downs or unforeseen costs come closer to the wedding date.
2 | How do you help couples understand each vendor’s pricing?
Choosing and selecting your vendors can be overwhelming and challenging. Our wedding planners provide insight on ways to consider each vendor’s pricing not just by the dollar amount but by the value of their time and effort that they have to put into making your dream wedding a reality.
Grace’s Response: It’s important to share the vendor’s experience and their level of responsibility to the couples planning their weddings. It’s also important to show the couple the amount of work and effort each vendor puts into every event, and how most vendors are not an individual person but a team that works together to help their dream wedding come to life.
Jamie’s Response: We explain that you do pay for what you get but it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get the best. Our couples work with us because they trust our guidance and experience and therefore, we have the best options for them no matter the request. It’s important for them to understand that it is not just about that vendor’s product or service but the overall package.
We pride ourselves on finding the perfect match for the couple, the style and feel of the event, the budget range and of course the skill. Quality is never compromised but it is our responsibility to know what will work best for our clients and to share only the right vendors with them. If you are only looking at the bottom line, then you’re most likely compromising the value and level of work, commitment, passion, and service you’ll get from each vendor.
Eric’s Response: We always present two to three different quotes at the same time and walk them through the pricing. Not all vendor quotes read the same so it’s important to compare closely and answer any questions the couple may have.
3 | When planning an a-la-carte wedding (vs. a packaged wedding), what makes you recommend specific vendors to each client?
A-la-cart weddings truly allow you to create an experience that is customized to your wedding day. Being able to determine those priorities and bring in vendors that will help you bring your vision to life is a major benefit of a-la-cart weddings. But this method can be a *little* overwhelming as you have to find a vendor for each aspect of your wedding day.
Grace’s Response: The most important thing before recommending a client to any specific vendor, is to understand what the client is looking for, in terms of like and preferences. The next important thing is to budget how much they want to expend in a particular vendor. Lastly, recommending vendors based on my personal experiences. As a planner, I have piece of mind when recommending vendors I have worked with and have relationships with to a couple that is planning an a-la-carte wedding.
Jamie’s Response: We don’t like packaged weddings. I don’t believe that one venue or vendor can do it all and certainly, they should not. Pick your lane and stay in it and rock it! Selecting the right vendors for each client is one of the best parts of wedding planning. We take so much pride in matchmaking. Who we introduce our couples to goes well beyond their product or service. It is a truly customized experience. We learn their styles and personalities early on as well as more intimate details of each of them or their lifestyle that allows us to think of particular vendors that might share a commonality with them. It starts a connection that makes it easier when introducing the client and vendors.
Eric’s Response: It’s almost like playing matchmaker. We act as a middleman in pairing our couples with the right vendors based on budget, personality, and style. It’s important that the couple feels comfortable and gets along with the vendors – and vice versa. We also know which vendors work well together and often recommend couples use these vendors together to ensure a seamless (and happy) wedding day.
4 | What are your go-to places/sites for brides to get inspiration? What do you recommend staying away from?
Grace’s Response: It will depend on the couple and on the bride, but normally the most commonly used platforms to look for inspiration are Pinterest and Instagram.
In particular, there is no site or place that I recommend staying away from because you can find inspiration anywhere and every wedding or event is different, again directly related to the budget.
Jamie’s Response: We love places that provide and showcase unforgettable imagery and inspiration like PartySlate and Modern Brides, Grace Ormonde, Pinterest, Green Wedding. But realistically, our inspiration comes from first talks with our clients and what we learn about them early on. We like to pull inspiration from things that come up in the day to day activities, like places we visit, the music we hear, events we go to, emails with new products from a company… inspiration is truly everywhere and we never want to get bored from doing the same event twice – or for you to have an event that looks like someone else’s.
Eric’s Response: I encourage my brides to look for inspiration anywhere and everywhere! Whether it be a color swatch at Home Depot to a piece of furniture that caught their eye at Pottery Barn. I love to ask questions and get a good feel for their likes and dislikes. Pinterest can be a great tool but has to be used carefully. So many couples are pinning for their wedding, that it’s easy to end up with someone else’s exact wedding board. I see this all the time. I always suggest pinning inspiration found outside of Pinterest as well.
5 | How do you recommend couples navigate their guest list?
Grace’s Response: I recommend my couples navigate the guest list in the following way: first DIRECT family, followed by close friends, and finally those who have to be invited for courtesy reasons.
Jamie’s Response: Nowadays there are many reasons as to why you have to invite certain people. Work obligations, family obligations…if you can afford it and has to happen, so be it. We are much more concerned with bridal parties. Stressing to our couples not to put anyone in their bridal party that they feel they “have to” as opposed to “want to”. We want them to look at their photos years down the road and see their same best friends by their side.
Eric’s Response: Guest lists can be tricky. Not only are you working with the two separate lists for the bride and groom but you also need to figure out a guest count that is reasonable to fit your budget. If the combined list is higher than the guest count you want (and it usually it is), it’s important to see how you can narrow it down. Ask questions like “Do they know us as a couple?” or “When was the last time we saw them?” – this will usually help weed out people that truly do not need to be invited.
6 | What major trends have you experienced in 2019? Do you think they’ll be around next year?
Grace’s Response: The biggest trends in 2019 are the use of color in weddings, including bright colors. Decorations that are more loose, not following a protocol, where everything is based on a previous template, in other words, less rigid. Couples are open to new ideas, to create a more dynamic ambiance, where multiple experiences are present throughout the event.
Jamie’s Response: Trends are another thing we are not into because we don’t want to be like everyone else. We also feel like every time we see a new “trend” advertised or spoken about, we have already done it. Custom details are a huge piece of our process for creating a wedding day experience based on who they are!
We love how color has made a big splash again and even darker and moodier style of weddings. Custom bridal accessories like a monogrammed jacket for the bride or sneakers with their names on it. We love anything hanging for decoration. We love the canopy feel over tables. Lots of funky and cheeky signage is always fun. Loving the incorporation of luxury balloon decor. We did a lot of retro or kitschy style food at our events. Things like retro candy bars (think Saved by the Bell) to Dairy Queen blizzards as late-night dessert to Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for rehearsal dinners.
Eric’s Response: I’m really not a fan of “trends” and need to shy away from them unless it’s something the couple really wants. I prefer to concentrate on getting to know the couple and putting their personalities and quirks into it. We can be so much more creative when we focus on them as a couple verses on what everyone is doing right now. I don’t care about making it a 2019 wedding – it’s about making it THEIR wedding.
7 | What are your recommendations if a bride really wants to have an outdoor wedding in the summer?
Grace’s Response: If a couple is set on having an outdoor wedding in the summer in Florida, I recommend budgeting the use of AC or any good cooling system to make it comfortable for the couple and their guests. I also recommend switching up the attire not only for the bride, and groom but for the guests. Make sure everyone wears a comfortable/fresh outfit that allows everyone to enjoy your beautiful celebration.
Jamie’s Response: It’s their day and we don’t want them to settle on what they dreamed about. They have one time to do it their way. We work around it. We stress the need (not just the importance) of guest comfort. From outdoor fans to butler passed ice pops prior to the ceremony, we offer great options to keep them as cool as possible. Once the sun goes down, when the drinks are flowing and the band is in full swing, everyone is going to be hot…inside or out!
Eric’s Response: And it keeps getting hotter! If a couple is getting married between May – September, I always emphasize (over and over again) that it’s not only hot but the weather, in general, is unpredictable. If the couple is set on having an outdoor wedding – we recommend doing the ceremony and/or cocktail outside but moving the reception inside. And most importantly – have a backup plan!
THE AMAZING VENDORS
- Jamie Lipman – The Absolute Event
- Grace Abreu – Red Velvet Productions
- Eric Trelles – ET Events
Looked for additional inspiration? Check out this breathtaking Indian wedding or see all the ways you can repurpose our venue!