Posts Tagged ‘Vendors’

Realistic Weddings Budgets ~ What’s Included?

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Yesterdays post I said you needed to have three things before you started looking for a ceremony an reception venue. I said you needed a guest list, a wedding date but one of the most important of all is a wedding budget. So I decided I need to bring back and old but goodie blog post about setting realistic wedding budgets for a wedding in downtown Chicago…. see below.

I previously talked about setting realistic budgets for a wedding in Chicago based on a $40,000 budget, 150 guests and a wedding party of 4 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen. So let’s go thru the rundown of what $40K gets you for your money. And for anyone asking if $40K is a lot of money…. it is.

  • Wedding Bands  ~ $1,500 This number is based on a simple wedding band for the groom with no bling and a modest wedding band for the bride with a few small diamonds. Nothing over the top but quite nice.
  • Wedding Dress, Alterations and Veil ~ $2,000 This includes a reasonably priced gown for the bride, alterations, shoes, jewelry and a veil.
  • Reception (Site and Catering) ~ $19,900 The biggest vendor in the wedding budget and rightfully so as it includes a full open bar for four hours, wine with dinner (they close the bar during this time), hor d’oeuvres during cocktail hour and a three course meal. This also includes taxes and gratuity which in Chicago will take up 30% of your catering budget. There are some great reception venues in Chicago that can fit this budget and do it quite nicely. A few examples of these places are the Metropolitan Club at the Willis Tower, the Hotel Palomar on State Street or the Crystal Gardens in Navy Pier.
  • Photographer  ~ $3,600 This includes six to eight hours of wedding photography by a local freelance photographer, an album, an engagement session and depending on the photographer a copy of the high resolution files. Don’t skimp on a photographer. After the last dance has played, after the toasts have been heard, the flowers wilted and the last slice of cake eaten all you have is pictures, so think of this as an investment.
  • DJ / Entertainment ~ $1,600 A Disc Jockey for six hours during the reception. If you want to make an investment in a band (and I have to add.. I love bands!) then you may want to cut the amount of guests as most bands will start at $3,800 and go up from there based on the amount of musicians and time they will play.
  • Invitations/Stationery  ~ $800 This includes save the dates and invitations for your guests. Remember one per couple or family. Don’t forget to include the postage for both the save the dates, invitations and reply card.
  • Flowers ~ $3,100 Includes personal flowers for the entire wedding party and parents, tall altar arrangements that can be reused for the escort card table and gift table along with low and lush centerpieces at each table. In addition to delivery, setup and taxes.
  • Cake ~ $1,000 I’m a sucker for good cake. If this is your only dessert you may want to make it a good one. A cake not only has to look good but also taste great. This includes a slice of cake for every guest in the wedding along with taxes and delivery.
  • Parents and Wedding Party Gifts  ~ $800 This cost can certainly vary on the type of gift that you want to give the wedding party and your parents. It’s an average of $60 to $65 per person.
  • Rehearsal Dinner for 40 guests  ~ $2,000 Go for a casual setting and avoid serving the same meal two nights in a row. Most rehearsal dinners last three hours, this cost includes a meal for 40 guests along with light libations and a casual meal such as Spanish Tapas, Mexican night or lots of italian food.
  • Officiant/Ceremony Fees  ~ $600 An officiant to perform the ceremony, sign the marriage license and file it with the county clerk.
  • Wedding Party Limo/Car  ~ $800 A limo to drive the wedding party along with the newlyweds before and after the ceremony for four hours.
  • Groom’s Tuxedo Rental  ~ $300 Rental of a groom’s tuxedo. A lot of locations offer a discount on the groom’s tux if the groomsmen and the parents order their tux from the same location. Definitely something to consider.
  • Bride’s Hair and Makeup   ~ $500 Hair and makeup by an experienced professional makeup artist for the bride who will meet the bride on site. This also includes a trail run for both hair and makeup prior to the wedding. It certainly is an item were there are cost savings but keep in mind good makeup makes you feel good and will certainly show in your pictures.
  • Month of Wedding Planning  ~ $1,500 After you’ve made an investment on your wedding why leave it to Aunt Sally to run the show when what she really wants is to relax, spend time with the family and join in on the celebration. Let an experience coordinator direct the vendors, be the go to person, troubleshoot on the day of the wedding, keep you sane and on schedule.

These numbers are estimates of what I’ve seen in the past, things change based on selections, time of the year and availability. A good planner can maximize your budget by negotiating (remember we tend to use the same trustworthy pool of vendors. Therefore, we have more leverage when it comes to negotiating) I want to finish with this. Everyone has a budget, it may be large, medium or small. Don’t be ashamed to let the vendor know what it is so they can maximize the rate of return and let you know what are your options. If $40K is more than what you would like to spend, think of trimming down the guest list, sever beer & wine only or consider hosting the wedding in the suburbs were there are some wonderful resorts with beautiful rooms. Another idea would be to think of  a mid day brunch (who can say no to mimosas!) or afternoon tea vs. a full blown evening wedding.

This post previously ran on Feb 27th, 2010 but we decided it was a good one and it needed to be reposted with a few updates on pricing and venues.

Hiring Destination Wedding Vendors

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

What you don’t know (or fail to ask) can hurt you. So don’t be shy and ask! I’m not talking about living in Chicago and calling the ubertalented florist out in California that is well respected, known by everyone in the industry and lives up to their contracts. I’m talking about living in Chicago, not speaking the language and calling the flight by night operation florist in the middle of Los Cabos, Mexico the hotel referred, or the musician in St. Lucia that doesn’t have much to back themselves up in the form of a website, references but is the only vendor allowed to play music at the boutique resort you have set your heart on.

You should be ready to:

Ask for client references… current and past. Talk to a current client, there is nothing like talking to a current bride that is in the thick of the planning stages who can give you a good assesment if this vendor is returning calls, responding to their requests in a timely fashion and living up to their agreement. In addition, don’t forget to give a past client a call and make sure you ask how did the vendor perform before and on the day of the wedding.

Ask for vendor references~ The wedding industry is a small world when it comes to vendors, and I know that a good vendor always has vendor references from someone else they’ve worked with in the past. For example,  the local photographer may know that great salsa band, who is easy to work with because they always arrive on time, make the correct announcements and keep the dance floor packed.

Make sure there is a well written contract in place and signed by both parties~ Enough said.

Get wedding insurance ~ If you are planning a wedding out of the country, get wedding insurance before you start planning the wedding. If a vendor goes under, you still have to find a new one (sadly you still have that hurdle to go thru) but the insurance will eventually pay for the cost to get a new one.

And one little tidbit of information for any bride planning a wedding out of the country (and any planner reading that hasn’t planned a wedding outside the US). A lot of the smaller vendors don’t take credit cards, nor checks from the US, so be ready to pay for a lot of your vendors by wiring them money.

Last but not least, hire an experienced planner when planning a wedding overseas. It will save you a lot of headaches, will keep your sanity in one piece and will tell you the rules of the game so you know what to expect.

Tomorrow, lessons learned and the one question I failed to ask the saxophonist at a wedding in Los Cabos, that did end up hurting me.