The wedding cake. A staple of a wedding celebration and most people expect to see one. But today people need to throw their expectations out the window. Don’t get me wrong, about 80% of my couples opt for a wedding cake, but the other 20% have something different. From cupcakes to donuts to pies to cookies…..desserts at a wedding are now more of a reflection of the couple.
The first thing you need to do before you start shopping for your dessert is to decide what you want. This is because a lot of bakers can do many different types of desserts, but some only offer cakes, or cupcakes, or cookies, etc. So it is important to know the type of dessert you want so you don’t waste your or their time if they can’t make the type of dessert you’re looking for.
Then comes the fun part, the tastings. Dive right in here and try out a few different places. Reach out to them before you head out and make sure that they offer tastings and how they work.
Almost all places need you to give them advance notice. Some require an appointment, some send it home with you to do on your own, some have monthly events you have to sign up to attend. Keep in mind that some places do charge. You are picking up a product that they cannot get back and this is a very reasonable request. Some even take the cost of the tasting off of your final bill if you go with them.
Questions to Ask Your Baker
Most importantly, have a list of questions you want to ask. Here are a few examples of questions to ask before you schedule your tasting or while you are meeting with them.
What flavors and options do you offer?
What will the estimated price of our cake/desserts be?
What are your payment requirements? (aka deposit, final payment due, etc.)
Do you offer other desserts as well?
Do you offer cake/display stand rentals?
Do you offer organic, vegan, or gluten-free options?
How do we choose a design?
Will the cake be finished with buttercream or fondant?
Is there a delivery fee?
How far in advance will our cake be prepared?
If you don’t know what places to start talking to, give me a call. All of my couples receive a recommended vendors list that includes professionals I have personally worked with and love what they do.
This is the first post of many in a new series of blogs I will be writing. Each blog will contain tips for planning your wedding, and each will be based on a certain topic: venue hunting, making your budget or general decor decisions. Just to name a few that I have floating in my head. I hope that you find this new series beneficial to your wedding planning needs and that it can help guide you in some way.
So let’s start it off at the beginning. You just got engaged, so what do you do? Well of course celebrate, but I mean after that.
Topics to discuss with each other before you begin planning your wedding.
1). What do you see on your wedding day? Talk about the overall vision you have in your head for your wedding day. You should both be represented in your wedding. You should both have ownership of what your guests will experience. It may be something you’ve seen at another wedding, something you’ve envisioned since you were little or a fun, quirky idea that you think would set your wedding apart from every other wedding you’ve been to.
2). What is important to have happen that day? What are some things that are important to the both of you to have for your wedding day. A certain flower in your arrangements or a special meal to be served. These are your priorities for the wedding day and it will help you to know what you need to budget for. Not only are these things important to you both, but they also tend to be those things that really connect your guests to you on your wedding day.
3). When would you like to get married? A lot of couples have a date or season that is very important to them and so it’s easy to pick a wedding date. But you also need to stay flexible in your wedding planning. Sometimes the venue you want isn’t available and so you’ll have to adjust your date. Also holidays and weekends are appealing to a lot of couples planning their wedding because it’s easy for out of town guests to fly in. But also keep in mind that there are certain holidays where people want to stay home. Also, the discounts people say you get aren’t always true and sometimes holiday weddings are harder to plan because either everyone has picked that date or no one wants to work it. Also keep in mind the length of time you will have for wedding planning. The more time you have, the easier it will be on you.
4). Who must you invite? Maybe you want a small intimate wedding or maybe you have 13 cousins and their family that you just have to invite. Talk about who needs to be invited and who would be a bonus. Make a preliminary guest list now. It will set the stage for your budget and venues for your wedding day.
5). What do you want to spend? Are you paying for everything yourselves or are family members contributing? What can you honestly afford to spend? This is a great time to start doing some research on what a wedding actually costs. Some people are very surprised when they start to see those numbers. Talk to some recently married couples or join some local social media groups and see what people from your area are spending.
Wedding planning can be overwhelming at times, so take the time to plan it well. The more organized you are from the beginning the easier your wedding planning will be over time. And if you want the extra help, then contact me for a consultation and I will help with your wedding planning needs to make your day just perfect.
So first things first. The production triangle is not my idea and it is something used across many industries for production management. My husband was the first one to introduce me to the production triangle. In his day job as a machinist and engineer, his company uses it every day to get their projects done on time. And we’ve also used it to explain processes to clients in our other business when they don’t understand why some of the props we make take so long. But it was another wedding planner who brought it to my attention that it can also be applied to wedding planning; Rhonda from Precisely as Planned. I can’t seem to find the blog that started it all, but I did find this one by Jennifer at Alter Ego Weddings. Her blog is more eloquently written then mine, and frankly goes into a lot more detail then I will.
Now onto the topic at hand. The production triangle is just that; a triangle. Each side or corner represents a different aspect of your project. They generally are listed as Scope, Cost and Time. But you can find it recreated for many purposes. Each corner of the triangle directly effects the other corners. The idea behind it is that you choose two corners and that will show you how it will effect the last one. For example, in the triangle below you see the basic project management triangle. Here is how the corners effect one another:
You have a large SCOPE and a large COST you may have to extend your SCHEDULE.
You have a large COST and long SCHEDULE then your SCOPE can also be large.
Your have short SCHEDULE and large SCOPE then you will need to increase the COST.
The best and easiest way I have seen it explained was a sign at a mechanics shop that said:
GOOD service CHEAP won’t be FAST
GOOD service FAST won’t be CHEAP
FAST service CHEAP won’t be GOOD
So how does this apply to wedding planning? Let’s take a look at the wedding planning triangle.
In simplest terms it would work something like this:
A high GUEST COUNT and a small BUDGET means you will have to compromise on some of your PERSONAL STYLE options
A higher cost of PERSONAL STYLE and a small BUDGET means you will have to make you GUEST COUNT lower.
A large BUDGET and a small GUEST COUNT means you can indulge in your PERSONAL STYLE choices.
Now why is this so important to keep in mind when you are planning your wedding? A lot of brides that I talk to love a lot of images they see on Pinterest or in wedding blogs. I mean, who doesn’t? But what they don’t see if the cost of those items and what it takes to pull that off. So then they don’t understand why they can’t have their ceilings draped and an off season flower in their bouquets with their budget or in the short time they have to plan. They just saw and wanted. So this can kind of help put things in perspective for you when wedding planning. Knowing that your guest count and your budget will effect how much you can spend on flowers and decor and food. That the bigger your budget or the smaller your guest list, the more fun you can have.
Now of course this isn’t to say you can’t have a beautiful wedding without all the glorious decor you want, but by keeping the wedding planning triangle in your back pocket you can revisit it and remind yourself on what really would be the best decision to make for your wedding day. In the end it all comes down to what is important to you. Is it important to you to have every one of your family and friends with you to celebrate your day, but you’re not worried about having your entire wedding covered in flowers as far as you can see? Then you adjust that to make your wedding budget fit exactly what you want. At least this can help you understand how it all works together.
I can help walk you through your decisions and why you can do some things and not others. That’s what I’m here for. So if you’d like more information please send me a message and lets set up a consultation today!
So you’ve got your guest list finalized, your venue of choice is booked and your budget is set so you can plan the rest of your wedding day. Then it happens. You’re reviewing your contract with your DJ and see a clause about feeding him at the reception. You stop and say, “Oh my god, I didn’t even think about that”. This is just one prime example of a hidden expense that a lot of couples don’t think about when they start to plan their wedding.
I mean wedding planning is stressful enough, you don’t want to be hit with hidden expenses. Now of course the benefit of hiring a wedding planner like myself, is that I can prepare you for these in advance. But let’s say you haven’t hired me just yet. Here is a list of a few hidden expenses that can occur when planning a wedding.
Hair and Makeup Trials
Some artists include trials in their fees, some don’t. They generally are less then the cost of what’s needed on your wedding day, but sometimes can be the same. Make sure when you’re talking with your chosen artist you discuss trials and add those fees to your budget.
When you start your wedding planning you know you’re going to need invitations. You may know of wanting or needing programs for the ceremony. But you’re probably not aware of the other stationary that is typically found at weddings: escort cards, table numbers, table assignment signs, menu cards, general signage throughout the wedding for your guestbook table or bar, etc. There’s quite a few places where stationary is used, and if it’s not done by stationary it is done in some way, shape or form. So you need to be prepared for those small expenses that can add up.
Surprisingly a common thing I run into with my Wedding Management clients who are getting married anywhere that’s not a place of worship, is that they didn’t think about ceremony music. Getting your DJ to set up at two locations or finding a live musician to play for you costs money and is not something that is included in a basic DJ package.
Tips and Gratuities
The general rule of thumb is that tips are not expected, but is a wonderful way to thank your vendors for helping make your wedding day so special. Now there are some vendors where is is expected, and those ones usually have it written in their contracts. So make sure you’re looking over them closely. Not only to see what you are spending on what, but to also make sure that you don’t tip twice. (On a personal note, I never expect a tip. The way to show me you’re thankful is a nice thank you card with maybe a few bucks for a cup of coffee.) I do know that every vendor truly appreciates a positive review left on their social media accounts. That’s the best way for them to get more clients is from people like you spreading the word of their fabulous work.
As I mentioned, feeding your vendors is very important. People like your photographer and your wedding planner have been with you all day. It’s nice to give them a good meal so they don’t pass out on you. Some caterers even offer something called “vendor meals”, it’s cheaper for you but still something substantial for your vendors. Sometimes your vendors will eat hidden away, sometimes couples will use their vendors to fill in holes at tables or have a special table in the back specifically for vendors. Check with your creative team to see what they prefer. Either way make sure they are taken care of that way they will be strong to finish out your night, even after you’re gone and they’re still cleaning up.
This is a topic that I can really expand on, so I know I’ll be writing more later. Check back for the rest of my tips on hidden expenses for your wedding day planning. In the meantime I will leave you with this tip: check and double check your contracts.
Read them thoroughly and all the fine print. See what you are spending your money on and what you should expect. This is just one of the things that I do for all my clients when they hire me to plan their wedding. It doesn’t matter if they hire me for Full Planning or for just Wedding Management. It really is an important step that you must do to ensure you have everything covered.
For some people seeing your partner at the altar for the first time is a tradition they want to uphold. It can be a truly meaningful experience you want to share with your guests. But over the past few years, it has become just that, a thing of the past. Nowadays a “First Look” is the way to go. But a lot of people get caught up in how un-traditional it is and don’t give it a shot in their planning.
What is a First Look?
A first look is a special moment between the couple, where they see each other for the first time BEFORE the ceremony. It can happen with your bridal party and immediate family watching over. Or as I recommend, just between you two….and of course the photographer to capture every second of it. There are so many reasons why I think it’s a great idea to have a First Look on your wedding day, from more time with your guests, to less stress to get photos done. So let’s take a look at my top 10.
All the reasons to have a first look
10.) You get the most out of your photographer. With a first look, you get MORE photos! Your photographer is able to take the time to take more photos then they would be able to if they only had the cocktail hour to do so. Why not get more photos for your money?
9.) You can have your pictures taken anywhere you want. You can even have your pictures taken at multiple locations before the ceremony starts. Let’s say your heart is set on getting photos by the lake but there’s just no time to get there between the ceremony and reception. Enter the First Look.
8.) Daylight. Yep, lighting is a perk of a First Look. If your ceremony starts in the afternoon, and your photos are being done afterward, you are now racing the light. If you do your photos before, you get beautiful natural light that isn’t fading. It can completely change the look and feel of your photos, just ask your photographer.
7.) Walking down the aisle can be nerve-wracking. Am I going to trip? Is my veil on straight? Am I smiling too much? Not enough? Did my parents get to the right seat in the front? Am I giving the right reaction to seeing my partner for the first time? Am I doing this right? I’ve personally had a groom that was so nervous to give the right “reaction” that it completely calmed his nerves when they decided to do a First Look. The stress of “getting it right”, all 30 seconds of it, can sometimes get in the way of enjoying it. A First Look gives you the opportunity to control the situation and not feel the pressure of all of your guest’s eyes on you. And by the time you walk down the aisle, your jitters will be gone, and you can truly enjoy the moment.
6.) You are guaranteed to capture “the look”. Capturing the first time your partner sees you during the ceremony is really difficult. There are so many variables. And if you only have a single shooter, who are they going to focus on? Having a first look means that THE shot is going to happen. Everything is set up and planned. The photographer can get the perfect angle, leading to the perfect shot.
5.) You get time alone. So often is the case that things are timed so that there is very little breathing room for the couple. You don’t want to keep your guests waiting, right? So you rush from one thing to the next, getting pulled and pushed in multiple directions. With a first look, you get those moments alone, together. Probably one of the only moments you will get alone together until the day is done.
4.) It gives you more time for photos, plain and simple. Traditionally photos happen during the cocktail hour. That means your photographer has about 45 minutes to get all of your photos done. And that’s if you are having everything in one location. If there is traveling involved you now have to figure that time in there too. A First Look is planned to give you 2-3 hours to take photos. That also means you can have more FUN taking your photos. Who doesn’t like having FUN?
3.) Cocktails and Mingling. With all of the photos out of the way, you can actually enjoy your cocktail hour mingling with guests and thanking them for attending.
2.) There’s time to relax before the ceremony. Yes, sometimes it can mean an earlier start time, but when you are done with your first look and initial photos, you can relax again. Enjoying the entire day together with some close friends.
1.) Your ceremony will start on time. With my couples, I always add in extra time for those “running late” moments. Add into that your First Look, and you’ll be sitting around waiting for your wedding to start. It really comes down to the first look, and of course my amazing time management skills. But really, a first look gets everything started off on the right foot to run smoothly and on time.
So there you have it. It still may not be your cup of tea, but at least you took the time to consider it. And maybe if we sit down and chat about it in person, I can help ease any more fears you have about it. Contact me now and let’s set up a time.