I came across this article and some of it really hit home. The recent abrupt closure of an historic local wedding venue highlighted the fact that some of the issues mentioned in this article can happen. Do not despair, not all vendors and venues are out to swindle you, in fact in my experience most vendors try to be as fair as possible, wanting to be paid a reasonable amount for the service that they provide. But just in case, here are my tips on avoiding the drama that a recession can cause...
2. I have to say, Pinterest has a lot to answer for. My husband is a Pinterest widow, I can be on that site for hours, just trawling through other peoples inspiration. It is a great site for showing you "what's possible", but not so good on the "probable" side. After having attempted a few Pin Projects and been left feeling very deflated and what one can only describe as a "loser", I have come to realize that Pinterest and other inspiration sites should not be taken too seriously. Take your ideas from there by all means, but build them into your own, in a way that is manageable, on your budget and in your time frame. Flowers, as a perishable item (meaning that they have to be done too close to the day of, when you will have lots of other important "stuff" to do) are never a good option for DIYing it, but if you are going to tackle some other decorations, make them well in advance and be sure to price out all of the components before you are fully committed, some of these things come with a much bigger price tag when you Do It Yourself. There are some good ways to stay under that tight budget if they are done right.
3. As for the restaurant that is charging bride's for additional time, well I guess that is up to them. I got into this business because I love to help people create their dream wedding day and if that takes responding to 5,000 emails then that is what I will do. I have dealt with a lot of people in my years here at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club, most of them nice, but a few "Bridezilla's" thrown in. We expect that people will have questions, I mean, you only have one wedding right? (At least we hope so), so unless you do this for a living, generally you are not going to know how many people fit at a 72" round table or if you should have place cards or just a seating chart. I make sure to tell clients when they book that if they require any meetings to ask questions, see samples of linens, or just chat about ideas, they are welcome to set up a time to do so. My advice is always check before you book what the vendors involvement will be (and if there will be any additional charges for their time). Many venues do not go that extra mile like we do, some only provide a catering manager who will help you pick out your menu but the rest is up to you. For a lot of these venues, hiring a wedding coordinator can be very helpful and worth the extra money. If that is not in your budget, try to find a venue that provides all the services you think you will require, including day of coordination.
4. Tax and service charge are an expected part of any wedding, however some vendors don't bother adding this until the final bill is presented, leaving you with a hefty surprise. When asking for an initial quote from any vendor, ask that they include the tax and service charge in the estimate right from the start. Remember that tax rates can change but it is still good to get an estimate of this.
5. There is a difference between preferred vendors and approved vendors. Always check before signing with a venue which outside vendors, if any, they allow. We (Cinnabar Hills Golf Club) allow you to bring any photographer, DJ, Florist etc.. as long as they are an insured, licensed vendor but we do make recommendations on who you hire. We provide our own catering, no outside vendors for this part, but this is so we can control the quality of the food served (we have a reputation to keep up, y' know) Your venue will generally know which vendors have worked there in the past and if they have done a good job each time. This information can be invaluable, just make sure the vendors are not paying for this endorsement. If your chosen venue does only allow their own approved vendors, make sure the cost falls within your budget before signing the contract.
6. Many venues hold more than one event per day. Other than making you feel less than special (You mean I am not the most important person in the world today?!?!?!) it can also make for a tight schedule. If you do run over your schedule, the venue may charge a hefty fee for doing so. To avoid this issue, check with your venue before you book, how many events they hold per day and if more than one, how do they schedule these to avoid conflict. Also, ask if they offer discounts for holding your wedding on the same day as another wedding, if it is cheaper than getting exclusive use, it may be worth it if the venue are experienced enough to handle more than one event per day. Personally, we avoid this completely. At Cinnabar Hills Golf Club we hold only one event per day. This gives us plenty of time to set up for the event, taking care to handle every detail with the attention it deserves and avoiding scheduling conflicts.
7. Put your money to use in the right places. As the article states, awards are not always an indication of great vendors. Some awards are given to venues who advertise on those sites, essentially they are paid for. This doesn't mean that they are not a good vendor but you should not base your decision entirely on these awards. Do your research to ensure that your money is well spent.
8. Pick the details that are important to you! Do not let inspiration boards and other websites tempt you into adding cute little details that were not important to you in the first place. If you and your groom have a sweet tooth, do a candy station as your favors, you don't have to do this in addition to another favor. Ask if the venue provides cake cutters and toasting flutes before purchasing your own, these are things that will sit in a drawer collecting dust for most people, if you don't think you will miss it if you don't have it, don't buy it.
9. Have a strong idea of your budget before finding vendors. If you go in there with a attitude of "Well, this is what I want, how much will it cost", Chances are you will pay a lot more than you can afford. Start with your budget and ask what they can fit into it. Give them a general idea of what you would like and have realistic expectations. If you absolutely must have a certain flower in your centerpieces, then find another area to cut costs.
10. Finding vendors who are just starting out can be a great way to save money, they are usually willing to offer huge discounts to build their portfolio, and it is true that all good vendors started somewhere. If you do choose to use this option, research them first, ask for reviews from other clients, ask to see examples of their work and ensure that they understand what you expect of them and that they can deliver on this. Ask your venue or other vendors if they know of anyone that is starting out and whether they would recommend them.
Just remember, as special and magical that you want your wedding to be, it is only one day. You don't want to start off your marriage in so much debt for that Cinderella carriage that you just had to have even though it took you $2,000.00 over budget. The wedding is a celebration of the start of your lives together and the marriage is the important part. Enjoy!