Friday, January 9, 2009

#472: back to the basics.

there's a growing trend towards simplifying our lives these days. timely reality check for all of us (aka me) who thought the world was financially inculpable, eh.

anyways, with all this talk of shedding of the excess, i'm getting more and more emails lately asking how to keep costs down here in good old expensive southern california. and i'm not surprised. because as much as i love this city, it only takes me a second to admit that LA's the ePITome of excess which means things are expensive which means it's really really difficult to stay within any type of budget for any type of anything which means i may or may not make it which means HOLD ME.

so what can i tell you to help you?

well i'm afraid i don't have any specific advice like "have your wedding (insert location here)" or "get your flowers at (insert store name here)". i mean, you know where i'm doing you can copy my entire vendor list if you'd like.

but...i know every bride's journey is different. plus, lord knows i've made numerous gaffes along the way...all of which have helped me grow and learn how to prioritize. i wouldn't want to rob you of that experience, see.

so without getting too specific, i'd like to impart a few...things. 'things' being realizations i only understood at the end of the venue search road. looking back, it's almost obvious. but that's ok. i don't mind stating the obvious.

1) be flexible. i started my search with the following reception MUST-HAVES: evening, lots and lots of alcohol, raging party, 125 people. it was a non-negotiable, staunch, written-in-stone list.

but after weeks and weeks of disappointing research, i realized...that i couldn't have it all. this forced us to prioritize. i faced some difficult questions during that time..."do i really need to stick to this budget?...would i be happier spending more money?...should i bite the bullet?" but i realized...that the budget was important to me, more so than holding tight to all of the things on my MUST-HAVE list.

to start, we took a closer look at our guest list...and eventually decided to focus our wedding around the people who mean the most to us. hello family. the guest list dropped to 100.

following that, i realized a raging evening party would only be catering to 15% of the crowd. so we changed our evening bash to a luncheon.

and i know you all know that a lunch reception is a major money saver.

so...i guess by "be flexible", i also mean...don't ever count the daytime-wedding option out. ever.

2) be strong. when i started calling venues and contemplating non-traditional options, i was insecure, afraid of and anticipating other peoples' reactions. and that insecurity was realized (times a mil) when people reacted with even the slightest amount of disapproval or dismay.

a HOUSE wedding?! a LUNCH wedding?! at a REStaurant?! WHY?! how about ABC hotel...have you considered it?!

and the best one...

"what about (enter venue name here)? it's cheap!"

yeah, well most of these "cheap" venues turned out to be 1) not really inexpensive by any means or 2) a "gas station bathroom" type of suggestion.

this. did. not. help. matters.

it was annoying...but at the end of the day, i didn't budge when the hints of pity and subtle mention of expectations were waved in front of my face. and i'm glad i never caved. i don't have to deal with any buyer's remorse type pangs of regret of having signed us up to pay more than we initially wanted to for a decent venue and great food. because we're not. and trust me when i say that this feels good. better than good.

so...feel free to go against the grain to help you meet your goals. all of us will support your decision.

i'm no longer insecure because 1) i have a fiance who's so all about this effort and 2) because of the support and advice i've received through TTO.

i'd be more than happy to do the same for you and cheer you on.

3) save time by doing your venue research online. heavily. research blogs, the knot, project wedding, here comes the guide, zagat, yelp, citysearch, martha stewart weddings. i sure did. even before i was engaged, natch. and 99% of the time, i had already looked into the places people ended up recommending to me.

that's about it.

oh, and a few last itty bitty things to note:

don't visit the venue if you KNOW it's going to be out of reach. i knew better but i did it anyways at least once or twice and for some straaaange reason, i always felt rather dejected afterwards.

on the flip side, if you think you could afford a specific venue, take the time to check it out before you start ANY type of negotiating. pictures can be deceiving. just saying.

and LAST OF ALLLLL, if you're JUST starting out and you're planning a wedding in LA with a budget similar to mine, take a look at the venues i considered and some of the outlandishy methods i used to find them. who knows. it may inspire your inner sleuth.

happy hunting.


Nicole said...

Yes, I would stress the "pictures can be deceiving"-- both in making venues look better than they are and worse than they are.

I originally ruled out the venue we ended up using because the photos on the website were so terrible. When I found out how great their prices were (and well into the search, when i Was getting a bit desperate), I decided that we should go and see it in person.

It was lovely! Not drop dead gorgeous, but classy and nice. MUCH nicer than the photos on the website made it look! I'm sure I overlooked many places because of their website (or lack of website, for that matter).

Lesson learned: if criteria like price, location, and type of setting fit, go see it for yourself!

Mrs. Andi said...

Such good advice!!! I've done about 95% of my wedding research online so far. We found 2 main venues we like & visted one so far, the other tomorrow. I've been able to email contacts on websites & asked for more info that then CLEARLY put them out of our price range.

If there's one thing I've learned from these blogs is that if you want something, go for it, no matter if it's not "normal" or "typical" or $25K. What you offer your guests will be accepted with love.

Hannah Noel said...

Ugh-- aren't compromises the pits? But in the end they can ultimately be the best decisions you'll make!!

I didn't realize until you mentioned it just how many compromises I've made since I started planning this wedding. Great post!!

becca said...

one little piece of advice for those in la...use the la flower mart to pull together your wedding flowers. i've put together a lot of flowers for weddings and it is UNBELIEVEABLE how much florists charge when you can have a friend do the flowers for less than 50% of what a florist would charge.

or, have a florist make the bride's bouquet and then you (aka someone else) can do the rest.

Stephanie Lyn said...

Great advice. The venue (in my opinion) is the biggest budget hurdle. Online research is key.

I found the most beautiful venue - an old brick orange packing building from the 1800s. However, I discovered via Google maps that the venue was located next to railroad tracks (trains during the vows, ugg!) and kept looking. But after several disappointments (aka $10,000 just for wedding + food) I revisited the location, took a tour & discovered that the train tracks have been closed for 15 years.

PixelChic said...

I would also suggest not trying on any dresses outside your budget. The dress, for some, is a really emotional decision. I made the mistake of accidentally trying one on, fell in love with it, and couldn't get the damn thing out of my head. Nothing else even came close. So I bought the dress (and can't wait to wear it) but have had a sense of dread ever since -it was twice the price of my maximum budget.

Be waring of being swept away in a bridal storm... the wedding porn books might suggest otherwise, but, Like - does ANYONE see the cake cutting utensils (nope)? Or look at the pen you sign with (nope) or even care if you have champagne glasses or beer glasses (well i hope they notice,'cause it's kinda cool).

Meg said...

And, I'd add, if you find a place you like and can afford, even if you haven't looked at a ton of places or done a ton of research, bite the bullet. Sign up. Our venue? Second and final place we saw.

Theoretically there is always the perfect place just around the corner. But theoretically, there is also a straitjacket around said corner, when you've driven yourself NUTS looking and looking and looking.

Nicole and Jesse said...

Great advice!!!

Random Hiccups said...

This is great advice! I am an American living in South Africa and my Fiance and I are getting married next month (Did you hear that mini freak out?!) We're also on a tight budget equaling the equivalent of $3000. This advice you gave is as practical to me as it is to anyone living in LA. Great job! :)

Sherrlyn Borkgren said...

Sherrlyn of says. . . Don't forget to have a date night as your date gets closer to your wedding. Take a breather and have a fun night together.

AmyJean said...

Weddings on a budget are SO hard! (especially LA) My budget is a little bit more than yours (but also for more people) and although i'm 90% almost booked with my venue... the only way to save money for a wedding of my party size was to use my own caterer... which meant finding a venue that would let me... that was hard! I'm so impressed that you stuck to your guns!

Great post! You (as always) are an inspiration TTO! :)


Ashley said...

Great Advice!!!! The flexible one is the important. Also be resourceful. There are great websites out there that people sell their never used Vera Wang wedding dress for nothing because the engagement was broken off. Find your inner sleuth and have fun!