how to save money when planning your wedding …

… and other erroneous advice brought to you by ABC News Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee (ABC meteorologist).

Let me preface this blog post before I begin that I absolutely adore ABC Good Morning America and all their anchors and professionals. NBC Today show can suck it as long as they have Matt (Narcissistic) Lauer as their anchor. Also I am proud to be on TV with a local ABC affiliate. So it saddened me deeply to see this segment they did about “saving money when planning your wedding”. Because the “expert” Francesco Bilotto and the information he passed on was a huge pile of  … well, you’ll see.

Here’s the online link to the segment, I highly recommend you click over and watch the video before reading my rebuttal. And in case you can’t watch the video right now, please read on.

I’ve printed out their 7 ways to save a buck at your wedding … my rebuttal is underneath each point.

1. Keep it simple. Don’t reinvent the color wheel with add-ons such as special plates and linens; try to work with the natural beauty of the venue.

Keeping it simple is certainly your choice. I do agree, don’t fight the venue. i.e. Don’t pick a rustic space if you want an elegant type of wedding. Highlight the natural beauty of the venue and don’t fight it. Agreed. However if you are not a flower person, then bringing in colored or textured linens is the least expensive way to make a powerful statement in your wedding decor. Ask an interior designer (not Francesco, apparently), what is the least expensive option to making a bold statement in a room? The answer: paint it.

2. Use a florist that is not on your venue’s preferred list. You could save at least $2,500 that way.

 You should know as a consumer that often venue’s “preferred vendor’s list” is a paid list. Which is not a big deal, but the venue should be transparent about it. They are not necessarily the best vendors around, just vendors that plunked down advertising money. Back to Francesco’s pearls of wisdom: While a vendor may have to pay a venue to be selected as a client’s choice, the average fee would be 15%, typically, not more than that. Perhaps in NYC it is more. Going with what bride Ginger was first quoted for her wedding flowers, $10,000, then that would only be a savings of $1,500 (at 15%).

3. Rethink vases. Adding vases to floral centerpieces could get add at least $100 to the cost of each table.

{Scratching my head} So, walk me through this  …. we are supposed to put green, wet, oasis full of flowers directly on the white poly table-cloth provided by the venue? What the hell is that suppose to look like? When it starts to fall apart and melt everywhere? And where are they getting small vases (shown in the video) that are worth $100 TO RENT? (I know NYC is more expensive than the Midwest, but not THAT crazy. I just got back from Manhattan two days ago and their gas price was only $.15 more a gallon than what we pay locally). Most small, round vases to rent would be anywhere from $4 – $10 a vase.

4. Rethink the flowers you choose, and how you use them. Francesco Bilotto, who is planning Zee’s wedding, is using carnations for her big day. He called it “the forgotten, abused flower.” He also said that not every table needs to have flowers. “Every other one, maybe do an arrangement and sporadic ones in between and some candles,” Bilotto said.

Okay, this I’m on board with. I love carnations, they are a less expensive flower. However you need to use A LOT of them to make an impact. Or you’ll end up with prom centerpieces back in the day (one carnation, one fern and one sprig of baby’s breath). *barf*

And IT IS okay to have tables with no flowers … lots of candles and water in vases. Oh gosh, yes, we’ll have to use vases for this as most venues do not allow open flame. Sorry Point #3, we’re now backtracking …

5. Rethink your wedding photographer. “The best thing to do is contact your local school – find somebody that wants to build a career with their skills,” Bilotto said. “Nine out of 10 you’ll save $8,000 just paying for the cost of their camera, their developing and their time. You’ve made a college kid happy and you’ve got some great photos.”

I am resisting the urge to start cussing like a sailor. In a few instances for our events, we have used second shooters or college students (think a photo booth or montage). Those are set-up shots with easy retakes.

I strongly urge you to use your money that you saved from not having vases on your tables (snicker) to put towards the best professional wedding photographer that you can afford. Please. It will be worth it.

SIDE NOTE: Bride’s do not care if they are making some “college kid happy” on their special, special day. Any experienced planner would know that.

6. Rethink having a formal, sit-down dinner. “I actually prefer you do not do that formal sit-down dinner. No one wants to sit next to your Aunt Sally with horrible cologne all night long,” Bilotto said. “Think about doing a few buffet stations or grazing stations, as the caterers’ call it, and a few hors d’oeuvres. Be careful with that because staff adds in the price again. At the end of the day, it’s about the people you are with.”

Listen lovelies, an hors d’oeuvres dinner will cost you more than a buffet dinner. A sit-down dinner will cost you more than a buffet, because the caterer has to have additional staff to serve. At the end of the day, it IS about the people you are with. But if your guests are leaving to go home to eat because they are hangry, then it will end up being just about you. Side note: go ahead and google “grazing stations” for weddings. Will. Not. Save. You. Money.

(Holy Smokes, we are almost done …)

7. Rethink the cake. (Yes, the cake!) Nowadays, many couples are opting for a smaller cake for cutting at the ceremony and feeding the guests a sheet cake. Or they’re having a “fake cake” made – an elaborately designed cake with several fake layers and just one layer for the couple to eat. And, yes, guests are fed from a sheet cake. Guests don’t need to know!

Late Breaking News: Use a fake cake for your wedding to save you money. {insert the eye roll} Here’s the skinny on this subject. One of the most expensive and luxurious resorts locally, West Baden Hotel, use fake cakes for their weddings. Always. One tier has real cake and that is what the couple cuts into in front of everyone. However, this is not to save you money. Oh, no. They still have to decorate an “elaborately designed cake” which takes time and artistry. And that charge is passed along to you.

The real reason they use a fake, ahem, excuse me … faux cake is so their guest service is not compromised. Couple cuts the cake on the dance floor, it is wheeled away … minutes later, the wait staff is serving cake table side to guests. This is of course from sheet cakes that were cut and plated earlier. Guests think the wait staff service is awesome, there are no delays and the meal service is completed quickly for dancing and other festivities.

THAT is why, Francesco, the fake wedding cake is a good idea. Wrap that up and stuff it in your pocket square.

I’m exhausted. My own final thoughts to this debacle of a segment:

  1. I bet Ginger is getting free wedding planning services from Francesco for media promotion. Can’t wait to see photos of her wedding from her university student photographer and loose carnation centerpieces.
  2. ABC should look into hiring university students to forecast the weather. I’m sure they could get them for $1,000 a month, a savings of ….
  3. Why show photos OF LAVISH and beautiful weddings while talking about cutting back on flowers and having no vases? (yeah, okay, I’m stuck on the vase thing, because it’s weird). It doesn’t make sense. Show photos of pretty budget weddings.
  4. Finally, we advocate and help our clients save money on their wedding day. This rant blog post was NOT about spending more money on your wedding, instead, knowing realistically and more importantly, accurately where you can save a dime.

ps I know you have opinions on this, so let’s do it. Come on’ …. post a comment.

plan on!


why boutonnieres can suck …

Boutonnieres aren’t ALWAYS bad. Grandpa’s think it’s kinda special to have one. And some of them can be super cute. They can also be a PITA (pain in the a**). Here’s why:

  • When it is hot, like it is right now in the Midwest, it is VERY difficult for “bouts” to stay fresh the long day of pre-wedding photos, during the wedding, after wedding photos, and into the evening. Roses and orchids can put up with a lot of abuse, but of course with all the wedding blogs, pinterest, and other creative designers creating new looks … most bride’s don’t want roses and feel orchids are too expensive. It’s just physically impossible for a fragile flower to stay fresh and neat on a guy’s jacket, that is not in water!
  • Most guys do not want a flower on their jacket. Don’t believe me? You should hear them all grumble when we pin the bouts on them.
  • Everyone wants to hug the groom. Sometimes, tightly. Guess who gets squished? Yuppers … that poor little flower.
  • It’s the one thing that the bride will see every moment of the day. So if it doesn’t look fresh or it’s not the right color, it upsets her. We don’t like that.

Some obvious alternatives. How about just a handkerchief?

We always ask our grooms how they would like the handkerchief folded. It doesn’t matter how, just as long as they are all the same. And those little silky suckers like to fall into the pocket and become messed up throughout the day!

photo credit: jesse daniels photography

I think these two groom’s look handsome! Don’t you?

plan on!



lie to your wedding vendor?

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet. (and apparently I’m a 150 years old by using that phrase).

Surfing the Internets I found this (ahem) gem of a post (by an author, I can only assume is NOT a wedding professional) suggesting to brides to LIE to their vendors to get better deals on their wedding…. (her quote)

“…when dealing with certain vendors I have a better word that gives you, the bride/groom, more wiggle room: LIE.”

Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Nobody likes to be deceived. Not brides. And NOT vendors.

People believe that if the word “wedding” is attached to products/services that it will cost you more money.

There is some truth to that, but you have delve further for clarification. WHY?

Weddings are as unique as the bride and groom. They are intensely more important than your average party. Therefore, expectations run high, as well as labor and materials to create your vision. Specific materials are requested. Therefore, so may the cost of your products/services be increased. You have to compare apples to apples.

Does this make sense?

What this author so ineptly missed was that ordering the exact same flowers that sit in a vase (for a corporate lunch centerpiece) IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT from the exact same flowers put together in a bridal bouquet that will not fall apart a few hours into photos.

Are we really comparing the two? I think I’m being punk’d.

It’s called LABOR, EXPERIENCE and additional MATERIAL. It’s much more than just, (author’s quote, wait for it)..

“The only difference is how the flowers are held together”.

No kidding. If you could see my face.

There is an art to creating a wedding bouquet of flowers. Stems need to be wired together, floral tape strategically used (so it doesn’t show) to keep the bouquet from falling apart. And the most important thing, it takes labor, experience and material. When running a business, these things are not free.

Would you want to come to work for your employer on an 8 hour shift and then only be paid for 6 hours? Um, no.

There are more flaws in her theories to saving money with regards to limo companies. If you ran a limo company, you would have to charge a minimum of hours (standard in this area is two hours). Put it this way, would you want your wedding limo making another run while you are getting married? What if there is traffic? What if you want to leave the church early? Poof! No limo. Not going to fly at a wedding. Not when you have other vendors (photographer, videographer, catering, DJ) on the clock waiting for the bride and groom.

Finally, (as if this cannot get anymore epic) when she targeted cake bakers, (I prefer cake designers). What type of scary wedding cake is she suggesting?

“Have a half sheet placed on top of a full sheet and decorate away. It will come out costing less than the full scale wedding cake and you’ll get just as many ooohs and aaahs.”

On what planet will that get “ooohs and aaahs”? A two layer sheet cake that is abnormal in size? Ever try to put together a four tier wedding cake? You want to talk about labor, experience and material … I’ve DEALT WITH the tilted DIY wedding cakes that we had to cut early or the guests would be scooping their dessert off the floor.

Please, please, please, PLEASE KNOW…

Wedding vendors work tirelessly for your wedding. While weddings may be a “billion dollar industry”, one or two vendors are not making that kind of money. While there are some unscrupulous wedding vendors out there (what industry doesn’t have those jerks). The majority of us aren’t out to gauge, lie or steal from you. We make a living and help you achieve a beautiful day to remember.

Oh, and we work our a$$es off doing it.

You can read her full article here.

ps If you liked this article then please Tweet about it or Comment below. Cannot wait to hear from you.

plan on!


flower power :: we love carnations

Carnations have gotten a bad reputation over the years. These hardy little flowers can come in all sizes and colors. They are simple, but can be used very creatively. The trick is not mixing a sprig of baby’s breath and a fern stem (circa 1980).

Take a look at this lovely bouquet we created for last year’s Super Bride Sunday show ….

SO many brides picked this bouquet up not even realizing that it was mostly comprised of carnations. Mixing tulips around at the edge gave it a really interesting touch.

Need to fill up some serious space? How about using carnations for your wedding cake, like seen above? Those are A LOT of flowers and traditionally carnations can be budget friendly.

I adore the bouquet on the right. GREAT use of variations of colors to create a soft bouquet that can give almost a “peonies” look.

photos: planning…forever events, manolo brides and wedding bee

do not box in your wedding florist :: part two

Part Two of our “don’t box us in” five part series about your wedding vendors!

Choosing your design and decor is one of the most popular and fun tasks a bride can do for her wedding. Scouring through magazines, online photos and speaking with your friends is all part of the process.

So when the design/decor meeting happens with a wedding designer (we offer this service) and/or florist, brides can have some very specific ideas about the types of flowers and overall design concepts. This is great, because then we can know what to offer you and collaborate on creative concepts!

Tips for the best outcome working with your wedding designer/florist:

1. Do not be OVERLY picky/stringent on all your flowers. We want to be sure your favorites are in your bouquet. But flowers are living things and sometimes, during the shipping process, the flowers wilt or are not sturdy enough to put into a bride’s bouquet. Allow your florist some flexibility to do his/her job to make some subtle substitutions so the integrity of your personal flowers achieve the best results.

2. Listen to their advice on using certain flowers during certain seasons. For instance, August in our area is oppressively hot. We refuse to use some delicate flowers such as stephanotis during this month. It’s an expensive flower, we could make money. But a flower wilting on a groom’s jacket 2 hours into the wedding day is not worth it. So listen to your florist’s expertise.

3. Allow for some subtle changes to room design. We can develop strategies, draw, and prototype designs, but sometimes changes have to be made during implementation. It’s the nature of the beast. As long as the end-result is beautiful, no one but you and your designer will know.

Trust your florist/designer.

featured photo credit: pfe iPhone

Tomorrow, part 3 of this “don’t box us in” vendor series

plan on!



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