Planning A Budget-Friendly Wedding?

Many times a tight budget means brides and grooms, parents, or whoever is forking out the dough, think they just can’t afford to throw a really nice wedding.  But hear me out!  You do not have to exceed your budget to throw a nice wedding.  Just simplify!  And simple does not mean shabby.

It means you must look at your money more critically, and be choosy where you spend it.  There are obviously many ways to stay on budget with planning a wedding, but something I’ve learned about the quality of a wedding, regardless of the budget, is that food matters.  While some of your guests will be smitten by the centerpieces, and others impressed by the music selections, all of your guests will remember the food.  Now this doesn’t mean you have to serve your guests lobster or else they’ll walk away unhappy.  It means what you decide you can afford to spend on food should be spent on good, quality food.

There are so many options for weddings today, it can blow my mind!  Google “wedding reception food ideas” and you’ll see things like “breakfast buffet” where your guests enjoy a spread of waffles, french toast, bacon, fruit salad, and breakfast potatoes, or a “make-your-own-salad bar” where they can cover a bed of greens with killer toppings like hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chicken, and a hundred other things.

And if you can’t afford to serve your guests a full meal, fret not!  Just simplify.  Do a cake and punch reception, or a simple “something sweet, something savory” spread.  Just make sure it’s understood through your invitation what your guests should expect—then hit ‘em with deliciousness!  If you spend your money on quality food, however simple the meal may be, it will leave nothing but the best taste in everyone’s mouth.

Along the lines of saving money, another tip is to prioritize.  If you must make concessions, choose details of the wedding less crucial than others to either eliminate or spend less money on.  And, as a wedding vendor myself, I am definitely not suggesting that some vendors are more important than others, only that you should decide what’s essential and nonessential for your particular wedding day.  While one bride imagines a spring wedding filled with luscious flowers, professionally prepared into bouquets and arches and flower crowns, another may prefer to buy her flowers in bulk and employ the help of her friends to arrange quaint center pieces and bouquets.  That’s just one example proving there is no one way to accomplish a beautiful wedding day, the key is balancing your budget with 1) what you can take on yourself—with lots of help—and 2) what you should pay a professional to do.

A few other tips to keep your overall costs down:

—Keep the number of guests you invite between 100-150 people

—Avoid a wedding date between the months of April and November

—Have a Friday night or Sunday wedding

And remember, through all this wedding planning madness, to keep your chin up!  Once that day is over a new adventure is just beginning.


All The Best To You & Yours,

Hannah (& Ben)

Don't Shoot!—A Different Take On Unplugged Ceremonies

I have read multiple blog posts about Unplugged Ceremonies as, I agree, there are many reasons to consider asking your guests to resist taking photos, or even banning the use of mobile devices, during your wedding ceremony.  This article’s purpose is to voice a differing opinion, so you can make an informed decision on what works best for your wedding day.

As a wedding vendor, I know what it feels like to be paid a handsome sum of money for services provided on a very important day for your clients—in some cases the most important and expensive day of their lives.  And as an organizationally-minded perfectionist, I definitely know what it feels like to have an idea, goal—or in this case, photo—sabotaged.  It’s the opposite of great!  I sympathize with couples who have had once-in-a-lifetime moments essentially ruined (like the viral video of the groom straining to see his bride across a sea of iPhones) so I understand the goal of unplugged ceremonies is to nip a potential photo catastrophe, like that, in the bud. 

But you may also be hindering a guest from enjoying your wedding day to the extent they wanted to.  Yes, the photographer will take professional photos that they’ll share with you—the bride and groom—you may post them in an album on Facebook that people can look through... but it’s just not the same as your great aunt going home and looking at a picture she took on your wedding day from where she was sitting or standing or—hopefully—dancing!

As wedding photographer and small business inspiration, Jasmine Star, put it in a blog post speaking on wedding guests taking pictures, “It was their memory, their vantage point, they wanted to keep as their own.”  There may be a big difference in photo quality and composition, but there’ll also be a big sentimental difference between the professional’s and their own picture.

So, no matter what your inclined to do, decide what’s most important for you and what will allow everyone invited to your wedding enjoy themselves on your big day, and make decisions based on that.

And remember, through all this wedding planning madness, to keep your chin up!  Once that day is over a new adventure is just beginning.

Check out a similarly themed article to this one—Your Wedding Day Is Not About You—for more thoughts on why your guest’s happiness is so important.


All The Best To You & Yours,

Hannah (& Ben)

Your DJ Is The Voice Of Your Reception

If your officiant is the voice of your wedding ceremony, then your deejay/emcee is the voice of your reception.  As the emcee half of a wedding entertainment duo, I want to throw out some food for thought when it comes to your wedding entertainment!

As the bride and groom, you don’t really say much on your wedding day.  Now, of course you talk a lot that day!  You greet all your guests, answering questions like “where are you going on your honeymoon?” dozens of times, and thank people for their compliments on your dress, your tie, the flowers, the ceremony, all that jazz.  But you aren’t necessarily the ones who address your guests throughout the day.  (Although I do love it when the newlyweds say a word of thanks during the reception—just sayin!)  Your officiant performs the ceremony and instructs your guests where to go afterward, the venue coordinator or maitre'd may direct them from cocktail hour to the main reception room, but it’s your chosen deejay/emcee who will speak to your guests throughout the reception.  Just like everyone with tastebuds will notice the food they’re served, everyone with ears will hear the deejay you hired.  Thinking beforehand of the kind of atmosphere you want your reception to have is crucial in hiring a deejay who will deliver that in the music chosen and the style of the announcements made.

Think about the atmosphere you want for your reception, even if you can’t describe the actual music you imagine hearing.  A good deejay should be able to take adjectives like “classy,” “upbeat,” “modern,” or “rustic” and choose music that makes you feel those things.  Also, a sure-fire way to achieve an enjoyable reception for everyone is to 1) not place elderly or sound-sensitive guests near the speakers—this will obviously require pre-wedding coordination with your deejay—and 2) ask your deejay to keep the volume down during cocktails and dinner so your guests can easily converse.

A few questions to ask yourself when looking to hire a deejay:

—What kind of dance music do we want played? Radio versions of songs? Mashups/mixes?

—What genre of music do we want (or sometimes more easily, not want) played?

—Any must-play or do-not-play songs in our head?

—What style of announcements do we imagine?

And remember, through all this wedding planning madness, to keep your chin up!  Once that day is over a new adventure is just beginning.


All The Best To You & Yours,

Hannah (& Ben)

Your Wedding Day Is Not About You


Wait!  Hear me out.

Recently, I’ve been putting a lot of thought toward misconceptions people can have about weddings.  Not only because I have been a bride myself, but I’ve been a photographer for a handful, a guest, a maid of honor, a matron of honor, and most recently, as a wedding emcee, over the last 3 years, I’ve helped over 60 brides plan their order of events.  The nitty gritty of wedding planning is something I’ve grown to know and love.

So, one misconception I have noticed is the idea that the guests get the easy part on the wedding day—show up and get a free meal!

The truth is, your guests, the wedding party, the caterer, your creative team—basically everyone there except you two—aren’t necessarily looking at your wedding day through rose-colored glasses, so making sure they’re enjoying themselves takes some conscious effort.  Your guests make up the majority of the people at your wedding.  They are the ones potentially taking time off work, maybe even paying to travel from a different state, to come to your wedding and give you money and gifts.  I know it can feel like you are running around like a headless chicken for 6 to 18 months, but in all honesty, your guests are the ones making sacrifices on your wedding day.  I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a lot of hard work involved in planning a wedding—you’re hustling to plan one of the most involved events of your life! That’s no small thing—but I’m merely advising that you step into your guests shoes with each decision you make, in order to keep perspective.

On the day of your wedding there’s so much that you don’t see as the bride and groom—usually the worst parts.  You’re the celebrities, walking from place to place, table to table, followed by your wedding party and photographer entourage, handing out smiles and hugs like nobody’s business.  The party is wherever you are—and this is not a bad thing!  It’s how it should be!  But making sure they have an enjoyable experience during your wedding day should be a high priority for you.  If your guests are happy, you’ll be happy.

A couple points to keep in mind in order to ensure satisfied guests:

—On the invitation, tell your guests what kind of food to expect (ie: a sit-down dinner, lunch spread, cake and punch reception, etc.) so they know if they should eat a meal on their own beforehand or not.

—When making concessions becomes necessary, don’t sacrifice anything that will negatively impact your guests (ie: if you need to take pictures between ceremony and reception, don’t skip out on having some light food—and even some entertainment—for your guests while they wait for you.)

And remember, through all this wedding planning madness, to keep your chin up!  Once that day is over a new adventure is just beginning.



All The Best To You & Yours,

Hannah (& Ben)