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wedding budget

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THE REAL COST OF WEDDING DECOR

Photo by  Lace & Luce

Photo by Lace & Luce

Do you ever look at gorgeous wedding inspiration and wonder- what does this actually cost?

Our industry is full of over the top unattainable design ideas which are outrageously costly. One of the top three questions I’m asked in my consults is:

 
How much is the average wedding?
 

That’s such a tricky question! There are so many things I could address by answering this one question. The first thing I tell brides, is that you should be thinking of your wedding as a pie. Now cut that pie in three. One part is decor, one part is food & beverage and the third part is everything else. Now, depending on where your actually priorities lay- those three pie pieces get bigger or smaller and adjust accordingly. Then I tell my clients, whatever image you’re looking at… whatever dollar figure pops into your head, times that by 3.

Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning

BUT! There is a big BUT here. I have designed and planned absolutely stunning weddings for budgets from 20k which can look as beautiful as a wedding you might see in a magazine with a 50k decor budget only. The secret lies in years of experience and a few tricks of the trade.

In todays blog post I’m going to breakdown the cost of my last styled shoot with Lace & Luce and Lavish Decor at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Before we begin, here is a great behind the scenes clip pulled from my instagram account. This will give you a better perspective of the scale of what we created. You won’t believe what it costs!


In this shoot we set a head table for two and two “honour” reception guest tables for a total of 18 guests. It’s important to note that we also re-used the large white standing art structures for the ceremony and again behind the head table. In this design we also used minimal florals and greenery with an emphasis on candles.

So here is the breakdown:

DECOR

  • 2 Art Structures @ $450

  • Gold Fan Chairs @ $12 each

  • 3 Glass tables with ornate gold guild legs @ $350 ea

  • 1 Round glass cake table with ornate guild legs @ $150

  • 5 Crystal Candelabras per reception table @ $75 ea

  • 24 Crystal Candlestick holders & candles @ $10 ea

  • Gold rimmed scalloped dinner plate & side plate $6 per setting

  • Gold cutlery set @ $3 per setting

  • Silk linen on head table $40

  • Decor installation cost $500

  • Table stationary $18 per person

FLORAL

  • Greenery and blooms on art structures $150 ea

  • Greenery and tables with select blooms $150 per table

  • Floral installtion cost $500

DESIGN TOTAL COST $6,243.00 (aprx)

Now you can look at this in a few ways. This design if applied to a full wedding would be $346 per person. You can do the math quite easily if you have 100 guests, granted you keep in mind some costs mentioned above are fixed and not variable by guest count. It can be costly! Crazy how something that looks so simple can be so costly. But let me change your perception for a minute because if you were a real client I would tell you to keep this design for 1/3 of your guests, and the rest of the tables to something simple and tastefull like floating candles in water with a few tossed blooms and greenery. That would reduce your decor cost by 30%. Now if you’re loving this design, but don’t have the budget I’ll tell you think about doing this design for the head table and family “honour tables” only. Leaving simple decor for the rest of the reception tables. Its’ a design principal I’ve been using for years and how with fore-thought and intention we can make your wedding absolutely stunning while being budget conscious.

I had a nice conversation on-set while setting up this styled shoot with Jenny from Lavish Decor. She’s originally from England so our chat naturally ended up being about the differences between our bridal industry vs Europe’s. And she told me something really interesting. She said- in England they keep all the lavish over-the-top decor in the centre of the room closest to the head table. That way when the photographers shoot- their images make it look like it’s a celebrity wedding. All the other tables are plain with only a few candles or a single candelabra. This eludes to what I had mentioned before about being budget conscious. i always find it fascinating what’s seen as the “norm” in other countries. I was first introduced to this when we planned a wedding in Germany. After the ceremony we arrived at the castle for champagne in the gardens followed by cake and coffee. We then moved guests into the chateau courtyard where we had more cocktails and dinner alfresco. A long procession of eating and celebrating. Oh and the DJ plays until the sun comes up…. not the 1am shut-down time we have here!

So next time you look at beautiful decor pictures on Pintrest, keep in mind that it’s probably three times more expensive than what you think- but that it can be possible if you’re open-minded.

xo

Eliza

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BENEFITS OF A WEDDING PLANNER

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Life is short and I firmly believe in investing in the best of what you love, and when you do- you better enjoy every single ounce of it because before you know it- it's over. Let me throw some math at you to help gain some perspective. 

 

$40,000 Budget / 12 hour wedding day =

You're spending $3,333.00 per hour.

 

That number is startling.

Now envision the responsibility in making sure everything you have envisioned come full circle without any issues.....  

Girl- you can't micromanage from that makeup chair and you sure as hell aren't going to leave this burden/responsibility to your mother or maid of honour (they're in the makeup chair next to you). You need a planner, and here's why.

 

SHORTCUT

Hiring a seasoned wedding planner is your biggest shortcut. They provide you with information that's specific to you and your wedding which you can't find on a blog, in a magazine article or even from your best friend who just got married. Although weddings have the same base strategy when it comes to planning, it's the variables in between that are hard to manage. These variables include things like specialty vendors, rentals, design details, time specific schedules etc etc. The more unique you'd like your wedding to be- the more variables are introduced. It's like juggling - except with 50 balls. If you have a hard time seeing the bigger picture now- having a wedding planner with vision can help you focus on priorities and ensure the bigger picture is planned and executed properly. 

 

EDUCATE

A huge part of my job is educating my clients on why things cost what they do and how much work goes into certain tasks- because it all boils down to perceived value and priorities. The number one question you should ask yourself before you begin wedding planning is, "What is important to me and why?". If anyone tells you the first step to wedding planning is figuring out your budget and ask the rents for money- fire them or burn that article! Everyone is so focused on money, when they should be focused on value. Once you know your priorities you'll instantly see value in the money your spending and your budget will form itself. Only then do you have the power to scale back and re-evaluate said priorities. My #1 non-negotiable term when you hire my firm is: "You can't have it all, so don't spread your money thin and cheap out just to have everything". I refuse to let my clients do this. It's such a waste. #truth 

 

READING BETWEEN THE LINES

As a seasoned wedding planner I have literally seen it all and been around the block numerous time/ I could write a Chicken Soup for Crazy Wedding Stories. (please tell me you remember those books...and yes I just dated myself). Because of this- I've learn't from the past and now instill this knowledge into planning your wedding so that these issues never happen on your wedding day. It starts with quality control. It's our job to know the back end of the industry, like when companies turn-over rental inventory, what vendors are expanding too quickly and their quality is slipping and even the newbies on the block whose work is garnering serious attention. I love taking the "guess work" out of the equation for brides. I am your google- so instead of researching vendors and scouring the internet for reviews- I can give you the real 411 based on my own real-life observations and discerning eye so that you can make informed choices. For example- the chair you're looking at renting is in fair condition....today. But once your wedding rolls around a year and a half later- that chivary chair will likely be on it's last legs with a flattened stained seat cushion. How do I know this? Because the chair is wooden, the paint chips easily because their stackable and not made of metal and the seat cushions are polyester, and I personally know that companies maintenance and turn-over routines. 

 

 

This my friends is just scratching the surface in regards to the things we do and know as planners which is hard to write on paper on in two paragraphs on our website when we describe a planning package . It really is my job to know everything- and I'm not boasting. It's a fact and it is also the reason you hire a planner:) 

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101 ON WEDDING CATERING CONTRACTS

Toast Events Industrial Wedding Ottawa Zibbi

There are so many things to consider when signing on that dotted line. But if you've never thrown an event before how are you supposed to know what to looks for or even understand what this contract is actually saying. To help put things into perspective I'm answering my top 6 most asked questions.

 

MINIMUM GUARANTEED DINNER GUESTS 

When you request a catering quote likely you'll provide a potential number of expected dinner, let's say 130 dinner guests. In your contract you may see a statement like " Minimum guaranteed dinner guests of 120." This means that your responsible in paying for that number of guests regardless of what your ultimate number is. Keep in mind that also means 120 adults and does not include children!!! Ultimately if your end up having 115 guests you're still paying for 130ppl. What I like to do is calculate what the cost difference is between 120 and 130 guests and ask if you can use that dollar amount in upgrading your meal or adding a course- that way you're not "loosing" money!

 

RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE WHAT (IF ANY) FOOD IS SUITABLE FOR TAKE HOME

This is a health issue. Once food is out in the open and in an unregulated temperature food can spoil quicker then you expect. Most venues and caterers wont allow you to bring ANY food home. But if they add a clause like this- you're very lucky! 

 

GraTUITY POST EVENT

This means there is not gratuity included in your current bill. If you don't consider this while your comparing notes on various quotes, in the end it can end up in thousands of extra dollars you didn't factor in. Typically %15 grat is standard- for restaurants only. For caterers you're looking at %18 and for luxury hotels it can be upwards of %20+. 

 

CALCULATING COSTS

If you're trying to do your own math here is the formula you should use. Subtotal all the food and beverage. Now add your grat onto that. Subtotal again and then add your taxes. That's right! You read that right, your grat is taxed. Another sneaky way if your numbers don't add up when you get a real revised quote from a caterer.

 

PLANNING & COORDINATION FEE

But you might already have a wedding planner- so why should you pay for a coordination fee to a caterer? Well, it's because there's so much paperwork and time required to ensure your food & beverage team are prepared and ready to perform for your wedding. This includes the following:

  • In person appointments
  • Multiple emails throughout a 1- 2 year period
  • Meetings with culinary team to map out custom menues
  • Research for specialty requests
  • Tasting
  • Food & Beverage timeline prepration for behind the scenes
  • Organizing staffing
  • Inventory & renatls lists 
  • Food requisitions
  • Ordering food & beverage 
  • Working with your planner on the elements of the day 

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because a good catering company does so much more! 

 

FOOD & BEVERAGE COST INCREASES

We never really know what the economic climate will be like in the next year or two. For example there could be a Beef shortage and so the price in 2019 vs. 2018 has risen. Typically you can ask your caterer to lock in a max increase of %10. On a side note- this happened in the floral world a few years ago when there was a volcano erupt in Asia. This stopped air traffic and importers were unable to bring in orchid varieties for 2 weeks. So crazy right! This is also a huge reason why you should hire a planner. So we can impart this type of information onto our clients. They type of information that just isn't out there to find for yourself! A great planner will make it their business to know the inner workings of all these things you might never in your life think to consider!

 

And there you have it. Some of the most sneak hidden costs that can seriously break your budget! 

xox

Elise

 

 

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WEDDING DETAILS YOUR GUESTS WILL NOTICE

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I always say it's all in the details, but there are those who decorate like a fabric bomb literally exploded in the reception room. Don't shake your head like you don't know what I'm talking about. It's almost like they have a mathematical equation that goes something like this:

Chair covers + Chair Bands + Crystal Broach + Satin linen + Sheer Lace Overlay + Satin Table Runner. And that's just the basic foundation. Then they add.... Gold Charger Plate, Bow-tie Napkin with a Crystal Napkin Ring +  Personal Table Menue + Place Card + Bonbonierre + a bedazzled mirror with a cylinder vase with glue gunned crystals........ and in that vase there are water beads and a tinny little florescent light glowing from within............ Then the ceiling swag fairy came and went to town.....

Layers upon layers of decor which will overwhelm your guest into a blur. The biggest and most costly mistake you can make is definitely within your decor budget, because it can start to look tacky reeeaaallllll fast.

My number one piece of advice, "Don't waste your money on trying to have everything while cheaping out along the way. Sacrifice, re-evaluate your priorities and shift the dollars you would have spent on mediocrity towards a larger element that will leave your guests with a lasting impression." 

I'll give you a few examples, and if your a client reading this, you might have already heard this story. Back in the day when ghost chairs were only coming out of Toronto with a  price tag of $20 per chair, I had a client who just simply had to have them, but couldn't make it work within her budget. So I said "No problem, we'll trick them!". We ordered 1/3 ghost chairs and 2/3 white flip chairs. We used the ghost chairs at square tables and the flips at round tables and strategically laid out our floor plan accordingly. A few months later I heard back from my newlyweds and they said every single guest thought that they were sitting on ghost chairs... they raved about it endlessly. Keep in mind we're talking 2010 when the thought of mixing table types weren't even a design thought in anyone's mind. - I'm actually pretty proud that I hit that before the curve :) 

That's just one example of how I design to be budget conscious with intention. In case your curious, here is where we think you should spend your money.

 

OUR 5 PICKS

Linen-less tables and chairs

Personal dinner menus 

Over-sized organic bouquets

Embellished wedding dresses

Handwritten calligraphy invites

 

 

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