I wanted a five star wedding on a three star budget

I’d been to a lot of weddings and was constantly annoyed when I saw people skimping on the wedding costs. I’d vowed that when it was my turn, I would make sure that I spared no expense and if it meant that I had to cut down the number of guests to have the wedding I wanted, so be it. Well, that worked better in theory than in reality and when it came time for my wedding I realized that there was no way for me to have the wedding I’d wanted on the budget I had. I ended up choosing the five star location and going way, way over budget which left me stressed and unhappy on my wedding day.

We think that it’s very common to be less forgiving of other people’s wedding choices until you have your own wedding and realize just how hard it is to make the decisions that are going to maximize the amount of money you spend of the amount of goods you receive.

One good way around this is to choose a five star location that is out of season – so you’ll get the fantastic accommodations and great food without the high room prices to go along with it. Look at ski resorts just before and after ski seasons, summertime resorts at the end of their seasons or any other very seasonal locale that you can exploit to your benefit.

For example, ski resorts on the west coast often have high prices in the snow season and in the summertime but are an absolute bargain in the fall and spring. If you get lucky and choose the right weekend, your guests might get in some skiing as well. Pay attention to transportation to and from the resort [better to fly into Salt Lake City for a wedding in Deer Valley than some remote Colorado ski location that costs a fortune to get to]. At the St. Regis in Deer Valley – fall rates start at $150 for the rooms that are typically $750 during the ski season. What better than to have the run of the resort for you and your guests? Similar deals can be found in the off season in the Caribbean, Mexico and many other great locales. There is probably some seasonality to your hometown as well [though you may not realize it] in terms of convention business, tourist business, etc. (more…)

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November 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

I didn’t know half of the people at my wedding!

When it came time to put together a guest list for our wedding, our parents had more potential invitees than we had planned on inviting to the whole affair!! We spent weeks trying to get their numbers down and then found we were left having to exclude so many of our friends. Looking back it was a huge mistake, most of the older invitees had left by 9pm and it was a real downer for the party!

Ahhhh, the guest list.

For some couples, the wedding has very little to do with the fact that they are getting married. Instead, it turns into an event that the parents [and sometimes in-laws] are more than happy to plan and control. Unfortunately, this is somewhat understandable because in many cases, they are actually the ones footing the bill as well. To avoid, this bride’s dilemma we recommend the following….

1. Before you even begin to look at wedding venues, make a list of how many guests you would like to have and as the important members of your and your groom’s family to do the same.

2. If you are paying for your own wedding, you can pretty much stop reading at this point. You have the perfect [most legitimate] excuse for limiting the guest list of both your families, and you really can set the parameters you think are fair to make everyone feel included while not making you feel like a guest at your own wedding.

3. If you are not paying for your wedding consider creating a way to help your parents whittle down their lists. Create some hurdles that potential guests have to overcome in order to be included in the wedding. You have to have spoken to them in the past 2 years, you have to know the names of all of their children, you have to have been friends with them for more than 5 years or any other criteria that you think while X out a lot of your parent’s guests.

4. Once you come up with your final list, only then should you begin looking for wedding venues. There is no point in booking a ballroom that is going to be too small, a hotel that doesn’t have enough space for your out of town guests, or a church that will have half of the guests standing in the wings. Additionally, cost is likely going to be a factor as well. You might feel like choosing one venue if you have 100 guests and another one entirely if you have 200 guests.

The wedding list is a super important conversation to have, and you can’t have it too early. In our experience, it is a subject of so much strife that the earlier you get your expectations out in the open and hear the expectations of everyone else, the better off you are going to be. Good luck, this is a toughie!

October 8, 2010 at 5:57 am 1 comment

My mother-in-law spoiled my wedding

My mother-in-law is literally a nightmare. When I was getting married, I was so afraid of her that I gave into all of her demands. Looking back, I had a dress that I didn’t really like [had to be super-conservative] a room full of her friends, a band that she chose [awful] and a zillion other little things that I really didn’t want. That, and during the ceremony, my bridesmaids came to me to tell me she was crying in the bathroom. Oh, and did I mention she boycotted the brunch the next day? If I had known her better, I would have realized that nothing would make her happy.

Common Problem. We hear stories all the time about brides and grooms that are blissfully happy until the families [on either side] get involved with the wedding planning and details. Your ability to manage that situation may predict your ability to navigate family politics together in the years to come.

Have you ever dated a guy who didn’t like his parents and you meet them and you think, “why doesn’t he like them. They are such wonderful people?” Then, six months into the relationship, you realize that they are completely awful but by that time you have become “friends” with them and it is too hard to get rid of them?

Here is our itty-bitty piece of advice on this one: If you love your bride/groom, trust their judgement and follow their lead. If they think their parents are a nightmare, chances are their opinion is a lot more fact based than yours will be. Don’t try to be the bridge-builder or healer or you will wind up sorely disappointed, as this bride found out.

So how to deal with your mother-in-law? (more…)

September 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

I Saved Money in the Wrong Places

When I started planning my wedding I basically just went through and asked for everything on my wish list. At some point, it hit me like a ton of bricks how fast all of the bills were piling up. I couldn’t belive how much money I was spending and I went into panic mode cutting things left and right.

We all get there.

You are planning you wedding and you just lose sight of everything you are spending because it is all indifferent places: the photographer, the florist, the hotel, the welcome baskets, etc. When you sit down and add it up, you basically have a heart attack. It’s kind of like getting your credit card at the end of the month, you don’t see one charge for more than $150 but yet your bill is $1,500 and you can’t figure out how you did it. (more…)

September 13, 2010 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

We didn’t take enough time to plan our honeymoon

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somewhere along the way we became so consumed with our wedding planning that we forgot to plan our honeymoon. At the last minute, we booked to go to Tahiti thinking ‘it is February in the US so summer in Tahiti so that will be good.’ When we arrived at the hotel, it was half empty, half closed and hotter than you can possibly imagine. Thankfully, we were headed off to New Zealand and that saved the trip or it would have been a total bust!

To me, this is totally understandable. The wedding details become so all consuming that planning the honeymoon actually becomes somewhat of an afterthought. You figure that you will pick a great hotel and then everything will take care of itself from there. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to plan the honeymoon, make sure you at least cover these few important points before you go. (more…)

September 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

Our hotel charged us a fortune for our room block!

We booked our venue and when we went to negotiate the room block, the prices were absurd. The banquet manager said she couldn’t really help us as the group reservations person was a different person altogether. It wound up that half of our friends had to stay about 1.5 miles from the reception site and we were so upset.

The thing about doing your wedding is that you get only one chance to do things the way that you want them. There is no possibility of learning from your mistakes. That means you have to learn from the way that other people did their weddings and not make the same mistakes. One thing to learn is that every aspect of the contract with your venue should be negotiated before you sign any part of it. That means, the actual wedding, the room block, any rehearsal dinner you may have in one of the hotel restaurants and any other amenities [airport transfers, etc] that you want for your wedding party. (more…)

August 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm 1 comment

Rehersal dinner was way toooo fun…..

My friends are fun. Perhaps I should have known that putting them all together in a restaurant with an open bar was a recipe for disaster, but I didn’t think it through. Everyone had so much fun but were completely hung over the next day and our wedding seemed like a downer compared to the rehearsal dinner!!

Though we agree it is important to know your audience, this one is tricky. I mean, you want your friends to have a good time but not too good a time? That is a hard balance to strike. If you have an inkling that your crew may be the type to party like rock stars on the night before the concert, we have a few suggestions for you……. (more…)

August 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

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