Saving Money on Your Wedding Without Looking Cheap

101We all know that weddings can cost an outrageous amount of money if the budget gets out of control, so here are some tips to help keep those purse strings tight without appearing  to be tacky or having to do everything yourself.

The (often overlooked) Obvious: Don’t invite a lot of guests.  This means less money spent on wining and dining them at the reception, fewer table centerpieces, as well as not as many table cloths and napkins to rent.

Venue: Saturday evening is the  most popular time for wedding receptions, so venues can charge top dollar then.  Consider having your celebration on Friday night or Sunday afternoon.

Flowers: Choose blooms that will be in season for the month of your wedding.  As an example, tulips will cost a lot less in early spring than they will in September.  Another tip is to ask your florist for decorations that can be put into use for both the ceremony and reception

Invitations:  Use a pretty postcard for your Rsvp instead of an envelope – saves on stamps.

Tuxedos: The classic tuxedo will cost less to rent than a fashion forward trendy version.

Photography: This is an area where you definitely do not want to cut any corners, but you can still talk honestly with your photographer about how they can work within your budget.

Hire a Wedding Planner: While this may appear to be an extra cash outlay, planners can save you money.  They often can get you deals and come up with ideas that you hadn’t thought of. I didn’t even mention saving you boatloads of time, which can be priceless!

Common Mistakes Brides Make: How To Avoid Them


1. The biggest error that I see involves the budget for the wedding, and not having a realistic picture of what can be accomplished with the funds on hand. It’s not the most romantic (or fun) part of the planning process, but paying off the expenses after the fact isn’t much fun either. We’ve all heard the expression “champagne taste on a beer budget”, and while it may not be possible to host a lavish reception for ALL of your friends and relatives, it is possible to treat a few of them lavishly, or all of them on a lesser scale of elegance.

2. Another pitfall that many brides step into is when they don’t realize how much time it will take to actually make all of the arrangements. It’s been said that putting a wedding and reception together can become a 2nd full time job. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get started early (right after you’ve figured out that pesky budget) and keep at the “to do” list so that you don’t turn into Bridezilla as the day draws near.

3. While it may seem efficient to do all of your research on line and hire vendors after checking their websites, it’s a much better idea to interview them in person and establish a rapport ahead of time.

4. Last, but far from least—Don’t let the plans become all you talk about with your girlfriends and your groom. Schedule times when wedding business needs to be done AND schedule times when matrimony discussions are strictly off limits. You’ll be glad you did.

Capture the Feeling of The Great Gatsby

2Weren’t you dazzled by the glitz and glamor when you saw “The Great Gatsby”? If you’re wishing to capture the feeling from the film to wow your guests, here are some ideas to get you started.

*For your gown—Forget the Disney Princess look with the billowy skirt. Look instead for a form-fitting, slinky looking number that will show off your curves to the ultimate.

*While suits are the current fashion for the men in the bridal party, Gatsby would have worn a tux with a bow tie.

*Pearls and feathers (especially ostrich feathers) should play a prominent role in the décor as well as your own and your maids’ attire. They might be seen in the centerpieces and your bouquet as well.

*Instead of a traditional veil, why not opt for a headband? Ask your hair stylist to give you a do that will show it off.

*Champagne flutes were not in use when Gatsby’s guests were sipping, so serve your bubbly in wide-mouthed goblets.

*Tables at the reception would have been covered with white tablecloths. No need to rent fancy patterns or overlays.

*Invitations in those days were printed with black ink on white cardstock. Choose an art deco style font to complete the look.

*Consider renting a vintage car for your transportation instead of the customary limo.

*While many couples have a “love story” slide show shown at the reception, I heard of one couple who recently showed their story compiled as a silent film (which is all that they had in the 20’s.)

*Instead of a signature portrait for guests to sign at the reception—think about getting a vintage typewriter for them to write their congratulations. (While this wouldn’t actually have been done in the 20’s, there would have just been a boring guest book for well wishers to sign.)

*A good way to convey the feeling of the day is to bring in some props from the era and have them displayed in your reception area. An old phonograph, an antique camera, an oriental rug—all of these would give guests the feeling that they’ve stepped back in time.

Opulence and glamour were the norm for Gatsby, and you can create the feeling of his great wealth without breaking the bank if you just include some of these elements in your day.

Where To Begin

Start Here

You’ve decided to make it official and permanent. Now the big question is where to begin so that your wedding will be the wonderful day that you’re hoping for.

What you need to do first is to sit down with your fiancé (and perhaps your family if they will be contributing financially) and discuss your ideas.

Think about the general feeling for your special day. Do you want a traditional, formal wedding, or something more casual, perhaps with a theme? Or does a destination ceremony on a tropical island sound like what you have in mind?

Although it may seem unromantic, set down a budget that you feel comfortable with. If relatives are offering to contribute, get a realistic dollar amount of just how much. Does Grandpa Harry’s promise to pay for the drinks at the reception mean hosting an open bar, or is he just thinking of a keg and a few cases of wine? It’s good to know these things up front.

Consider whether or not you will have the time or knowledge to find all of the services necessary to make your dreams come true, or whether it might be prudent to hire a professional wedding planner to help you.

Determine an approximate date (at least the month) for the wedding.

Make a list of the guests to be invited and decide whether or not you wish to include children…

Think about where the ceremony will take place as well as the reception. Finding a venue that will accommodate the number of guests and the date you have chosen can be a challenge, so begin looking as soon as possible.
Another time consuming task (although it can be one of the most fun) is finding the perfect dress.

Bridal salons have sample dresses for you to try on, however the dress for you will probably have to be ordered from the manufacturer and this may take several months.

Selecting music, entertainment and a photographer should happen early in your planning process, since good vendors book early.

Most Important—Enjoy the planning process.

Alice Goetschel is the owner of Memorable Occasions by Alice and the co-author of The Simply Elegant Wedding Planner.

Newlywed Professional Planners

I had a call the other day from a gal who had been married recently and was now in the process of planning and coordinating a wedding for someone else since she supposedly now “knew the ropes”.

This call was two weeks before the wedding and the wedding planner wannabe realized that she was in way over her head. It’s one thing to find services and things that are “just right” for your own big day, but quite a different ball game when you’re making selections for a different person

Just because someone has planned one wedding doesn’t mean that they have the experience and expertise to handle unexpected situations that may come up. What will happen if the flowers are accidentally delivered to the wrong church? What if the photographer gets lost before he gets to the wonderful “out of the way” venue you’ve chosen for your reception?

What will the wannabe planner do when the caterers leave dirty dishes behind for the rental company to deal with? All of these things (and many more) have actually happened. A professional wedding planner will be able to handle all of these situations without even letting you become aware of them until the problems have been solved.

Back to the beginning of the story—The newlywed bridal planner decided that it would be better for everyone if she hired me to do the job and gave my service to the other bride as a wedding gift. It turned out to be a lovely wedding!

Gift Bags for Out-of-Town Guests

Perhaps you’re having a destination wedding in a faraway locale, or maybe you’re tying the knot right in your own home town, but you’ve invited guests from far and wide to come and be with you on the big day.

In any case, if your guests have packed their bags and traveled miles to celebrate with you, it’s a lovely gesture to have a welcome gift waiting for them in their hotel room when they arrive.

While attractive baskets filled with goodies are impressive to look at, keep in mind that they may not fit into your guests’ luggage for the trip home.

A better idea is an attractive gift bag that can be folded up when it’s time to depart.

Here are some ideas that you might include to make your guests feel really welcome:

*This first one is mandatory—a brief note from the bride and groom welcoming them and thanking them for making the trip.

*An itinerary for events leading up to the wedding, especially if you’ve arranged for special activities for before and after the wedding day.

*A local street map for the area

*A copy of a local magazine, like INSIDE SANTA CLARITA.

*A couple bottles of water

*Snack food packs (crackers and cookies)

*Sun screen – especially if your ceremony will be held outdoors

*A locally grown treat – California almonds, a locally grown wine for instance.

*Passes to a local attraction like Magic Mountain.

*A book of crossword puzzles or Sudoku with an attractive pen or pencil.

The list can go on and on. Gift bags can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose to make them. Let your imagination be your guide.

Emergency Kit for the Wedding Day

When a bride is not getting married at home (or someone else’s home) she should have an emergency kit with all the essentials at the ready just in case she:

A) breaks a nail

B) steps on her dress

C) starts to faint …and the list goes on and on.

Here’s a list of some of the things I carry to every wedding so that the bride can relax, knowing that unexpected surprises will be taken care of:

1. Scissors – you may need to trim a loose thread
2. Smelling salts – someone may get woozy
3. Safety pins of various sizes – a seam may come loose, or whatever
4. Scotch Tape – for taping up signs, and dozens of other stiuations
5. Dress tape – for keeping clothing secure when a safety pin won’t do the job right
6. Lint roller – picks off the lint & souvenirs donated by your cat
7. Breath mints – you’ll be up close and personal with lots of people
8. Tylenol or Advil – all the excitement may bring on a headache
9. Tissues – a few tears of joy may be shed on this emotional day
10. Band aids – you might dance yourself into a blister
11. Sewing kit – in case a button falls off right before the
12. Dryer sheets – they’re great for dealing with static cling
13. Pen and small notepad – to get a message to someone who’s
14. Bobby pins of various shades – to keep everyone’s hair
looking flawless
15. Corsage pins – can secure more than just flowers in place

So make sure you are prepared in advance.  If you partner with a seasoned Wedding Planner like me…no worries!

Happy Planning,


Santa Clarita California Wedding Planner

There has been a recent wave of “What they think of me/What they think I do” posts on social media.  I thought, why not hop in on the fun.  So I created my own.  What do you think?


Shades of Green For Your Wedding

Currently everyone is conscious of the trend “go green” and avoid pillaging the planet, but what exactly does that mean when it comes to planning your wedding? Actually, you can do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with to be ecologically sensitive when making your wedding plans. Thus, there are “shades” of green, all of which are to be commended.


Candy Buffets and Sweets Tables

I was recently contacted by a mother of a bride I’m working with who was puzzled when her daughter mentioned that she’d like a “candy bar” at her wedding reception. She was thinking, “What—Snickers or Milky Ways instead of the traditional mints or Jordan almonds?”

I explained that she should picture a salad bar that one might see at a restaurant, but in place of the lettuce and veggies on display, the table would be loaded with different varieties of candy.

Candy buffets and sweets tables are one of the latest trends at wedding receptions or other parties where there will be a number of guests. They provide an activity and a party favor all in one. A fun aspect is that guests can select as much or as little of any of the candies offered, without hurting anyone’s feelings if they choose to ignore something all together. (I personally boycott black licorice every time.)