Since I am still working on the details from my most recent wedding, I thought my post today would be about some tips & tricks in the wedding industry!
A few "cost-saving" things to look at closely.....
Printing your own invitations.
Before committing to this, you must look at the cost of your time, ink from your printer, and do you REALLY want to spend hours doing this? The savings factor, it's not always there. Typically invitations run about $100-$200 for 100 (this includes invitation, envelopes, reply cards, and usually the inner lined envelope). Printing at home, it's REALLY close. Most "kits" run about $40 for 48 invitations, ink about $20 (depending on the cost of your ink cartridges), and then any additional details, bows, stamping, etc will be around $20. So you are looking at a cost of about $140 (ish) to print 96 invitations!
I have personally done the invitations for brides before, and the savings is never more than about $50, UNLESS we're talking about some serious detail, I really REALLY recommend to brides that they order invitations! Unless of course they need 48 or less to send out, then it's worth it, as pricing for invitations typically starts around $75.
Doing your own flowers
This is an interesting subject. IF (and only IF!) you feel comfortable with all the work that it takes to put together bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, this can be a cost-saving option. But to really have savings, you need to stick with one or two types of flowers, and keep it simple! If your dream bouquet had orchids in it, please hire a professional! Orchids are VERY fragile, and they really need to be handled in a specific way, as well as wrapped/wired for use in a bouquet. If it's simple roses you are after, it's possible to do it yourself. Sams Club is going to be the best option for flowers, just be sure you order at least a month in advance, or else you may not get the colors you want.
However, I do recommend all brides consult with a florist....no matter what they decide to do. This way you can see in person what it's supposed to look like, and get a good idea of how much work it'll be. You will also be able to find out what is in season on your wedding date, and bear in mind flowers that are in season will cost less than those not in season. Typically any flower can be ordered year-round, some are just more expensive in their "off season". Some colors will not be available at certain times of year. This is one pro of using a florist, as they can typically order just about anything. Doing your own flowers WILL limit your choices.
Something else to keep in mind. Fresh flowers cannot be put together any sooner than the night before, and even then it can be too early. They also need to be stored in either a refrigerator, a cooler, or a room that is kept VERY cool (and dark). If you have an evening wedding, flowers need to be processed and put together the same day, or you run the risk of them dying, browning, etc. It also helps if you can take some sort of class beforehand, as your wedding day is NOT a good time to be working with flowers for the first time!!
DIY Wedding Planning
This can be tricky. While finding vendors, arranging tastings, etc can be done on your own, you are at the mercy of wedding sites, (which many vendor pay for the "preferred" titles!), referrals from friends, etc. A couple of great things about hiring a wedding planner is they have vendors that they know and trust, they typically know who isn't so wonderful, and a GOOD wedding planner will actually save you money on the long run.
There are typically two options when you hire a wedding planner. You can have one from the very beginning, OR do the bulk of it yourself, and hire someone to come in for the rehearsal and the actual wedding to keep everything running smoothly. It sort of gives the bride some peace of mind, and believe me, your vendors will actually thank you, because it makes their job easier. If there is a problem, question, etc, they can ask the wedding planner, and not be bothering the bride for something like "do we have another silver tray for passing drinks?". It really just makes your experience as a bride less stressful, and it WILL make the day run MUCH smoother. I cannot tell you how many times I've attended weddings as a guest, only to end up sending the wedding party down the aisle because no one thought they needed a wedding planner (or the venue's "coordinator" wasn't really there to help the bride).
Also, it never hurts to contact a wedding planner and tell them your budget, etc. They may just help you out because they love weddings (I know I do this because I simply ADORE weddings. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing a couple in love!!), or they may be able to refer you to a planner who's just getting started and is taking on clients at lower fees. It also never hurts to ask for a discount! Most wedding professionals have ads on various websites or in magazines/bridal guides, and they offer discounts in their ads. If you ask, they may give you a discount that they are advertising somewhere!
Having Uncle Joe take the pictures
Unless Uncle Joe is a professional photographer, PLEASE PLEASE hire a wedding photographer!!! If your budget doesn't allow for this, see if you can find a student or a photographer just starting out that will shoot your wedding for the cost of materials (mileage, film (if they use film), processing fees, and any printing costs) for the chance to build his/her portfolio. Just because Uncle Joe had a nice expensive camera does not mean he will know WHAT to shoot, and the angles & lighting needed for the wedding pictures that will actually capture the essence of your day!
Again, a wedding planner can help with this. I personally have a list of photographers I love that have wonderful portfolios (and personalities!!! this is another MUST!!), but I also keep a list of photographers that maybe don't have as much experience, but are willing to work for little to no fees for the chance to build their portfolio.
Please, please, PLEASE hire a bakery that has a good reputation for your cake!! If you are in a budget, there are options to save money, and you can go with a simple design as well. A tiered cake has to be constructed properly, or it could be a complete disaster!
Also, I really recommend to brides that LOVE cake, find a bakery that does NOT freeze your cake! Freezing a cake takes away from the texture, and it can often dry a cake out. Most people can't tell the difference from a cake that was frozen, but this is something to keep in mind when interviewing bakeries, and having cake tastings. Most bakeries serve fresh cake for tastings....so it's important to ask if they do this on your wedding day as well! Of course VERY complex designs need to be frozen to come out, so keep this in mind as well. (especially shaped cakes...it's easier to shape a cake that is frozen VS one that has been refrigerated or just baked)
I hope these help someone out. I'll bring more advice as I continue blogging here, but this is a good start! Any questions, please contact me! I welcome questions from brides and/or other professionals in the wedding industry. I always like to talk about weddings....I mean, who wouldn't? Isn't being a part of a love story a wonderful thing?