Save or Splurge – The Guide to Making Your Wedding Budget Work

The longer you have been planning your wedding, the more you have dealt with the juggle between what you want and what you actually need. There are so many options and features when it comes to a wedding, how do you decide what to prioritize for your budget? Here are a few tips for things you should keep as well as things you may want to ditch.

Programs – SAVE
Realistically, guests don’t need a program to know what happens – there’s no intermission and if they are at your wedding, they know your name.  Not to mention, ceremonies always end with ‘I do’!  Other than the five aunts, grandparents, and close family friends who have watched you grow up, not many people will care to have a program as a keepsake.  If you feel a program is a must-have, keep it simple and only print enough for the first 3 rows on each side. The most important people who care to have a program tend to have reserved seats closer to the front. To ensure they each get one, have your house party or coordinator place them on each chair in those special rows. If you have any leftovers, leave them by the sign-in book for others to grab.

Specialty Linens – SPLURGE & SAVE
It might sound confusing, but it’s simple – splurge on your important tables and keep the others basic.  Your sweetheart/head table, cake, gift, and welcome tables get the most attention, so it makes sense to deck those out!  Spare yourself from going overboard – no one will have eyes on random guest table #11, it can have a basic linen without hurting your wallet or anyone’s feelings.

Cocktail Hour Bites – SPLURGE
I may be biased, but I feel offering food is never a waste, especially after your guests have just sat through your ceremony.  Depending on what time dinner begins, some of your guests may get a bit cranky waiting for the main meal.  Cocktail hour is designed to keep your guests happy and entertained while you are taking photos.  Food is the easiest way to do this, and it doesn’t break the bank!  Passed hors d’oeuvres can be ordered per person or per dozen, which makes them more flexible for your budget.

Top Shelf Bar – SAVE
I see a lot of couples who feel pressured to offer nothing but the best for their guests, but realistically, guests are happy to spend the day with you!  Offering a well or call level bar is nothing to be ashamed of, after all,  an open bar is an open bar!  As long as guests don’t have to pull out their wallets, they won’t care what you are serving.  Some wedding budgets don’t have room to host open bar for more than 2 hours (or any drinks at all) and that’s okay too!  Don’t stress about it.  If you are worried about impressing a guest based off of what you have paid for them to enjoy, maybe they aren’t the right guest to keep on the list.  Offer whatever works for your budget and know that your guests will have a great time.

For most couples, maintaining your budget is the most stressful part of the wedding planning process.  I hope these tips help you to better prioritize where your wedding budget is going.  In the end, this day is all about you and your new spouse celebrating your love.  Whether you spend top dollar on every aspect of your event or go the money saving route for everything you can, your guest will just be happy to be able to share the wonderful memories to come with you!  You’ll be surprised at how well some money saving tips can ease the stress on your budget and your mind.  Happy wedding planning!

3 Items That Will Transform Your Wedding Menu Into A Winter Wonderland

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I don’t just mean the holidays. If you are planning a winter wonderland wedding and need some inspiration, look no further! Here are some delicious ideas to help make your winter wedding memorable.

1. Cocktail Hour – Soup Shooters
What better way to help guests warm up? Soup shooters are a delicious and fun way to get the party started!  The best part about them is how many options you have, just choose your favorite soups. I recommend something smoother and/or creamy like tomato or lobster bisque. Depending on the size of the shooter, it may not be ideal for something chunkier such as chicken noodle.  Consider serving a complimentary second bite, such as lobster bisque shooters and crab cakes, or topping the shooter off with a small bite, like a mini grilled cheese. Guests won’t be able to get enough of them!

2. Dessert – Hot Cocoa Bar
Nothing says winter more than hot cocoa! This is a fun twist on the traditional coffee bar, and it is an easy switch.  I recommend having the hot cocoa in a large coffee/hot water urn, this is much more beneficial than providing just the hot water with individual cocoa packets to your guests.  Not only will the already prepared cocoa stay hot and fresh in the urn, it will also be less of a mess than your guests mixing it themselves and not to mention, less expensive than those individual packets!  Provide delicious sweets such as marshmallows, peppermint sticks, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup for guests to garnish their drinks to their liking. This bar works perfectly with cake or by itself for the non-cake lovers too!

3. Bar – Burr Royale
A wintery take on the traditional Kir Royale, your guests won’t be able to get enough of this delicious drink!  Start by sugaring the rim of a champagne flute with blue sugar crystals. Pour ¼oz of blue curacao into a champagne flute, followed by 3oz of champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel and raspberry, or any other fruit that may go better with your color scheme, and serve. Depending on the brand of champagne, you may find the drink can turn out slightly green, so it’s never a bad idea to supply your bartenders with some blue food coloring just in case!

So there you have it, 3 tasty ideas to enhance your winter wedding.  These ideas are all simple and delicious, but most importantly, they won’t break your budget!  Wedding planning is all about being creative and incorporating the things you love into your special day so don’t be scared to stray away from the traditional hors d’oeuvres or desserts.  Your guests are sure to love your original selection of winter treats and stations.  Happy wedding planning!

Why You Should Consider A Winter Wedding

Winter weddings are not nearly as popular as the spring and fall season. This makes them even more unique and with a few tips, very memorable.

An advantage of a wedding during the cold months is more availability at venues. More availability usually translates to less expensive, especially if you are open to a wedding at the beginning of the New Year. Of course, you need to take the weather into consideration and book an indoor or heated venue.  Winter weddings can also guarantee a great turn out as most people do their traveling during the summer months, and a winter celebration gives them something to look forward to and be excited about. Below are some ideas that make for a stunning and intimate wedding.

  1. Charming Hors d’oeuvres – These can be for a cocktail hour or late night snack, but offering something other than the actual dinner can add style to a wedding. Food as art is a trend we are starting to see. Hors d’oeuvres and displays need to look neat as well as appetizing. These are usually fairly inexpensive to add in the scheme of things and adds another element. Some winter examples are a shooter of tomato soup and grilled cheese bite, candy cane macaroons, bite size cookie with a bailey’s shooter, seasonal and artsy crostini, and bacon wrapped chestnuts.
  1. Lighting- With shorter days and darker nights, look for a venue with chandeliers to give a romantic glow. Or a venue that allows you to string café lights for a cozy, intimate ambiance. Otherwise, go crazy with candles, twinkle lights, or any special lighting to make for a romantic winter night.
  1. Main Dishes– You will want to feed your guests warm items in the winter. We have a tendency to order comfort food in the colder months. While bite-size appetizers or midnight snacks are great, you don’t want the main course to make them sluggish or sleepy. Opt for entrees high in protein like steak, chicken, and fish. Add veggies and stay away from fried foods or anything greasy. Soup and Salad are both great options for a first course when having a plated dinner.
  1. Hot Chocolate Bar– What better way to keep warm than a hot cocoa bar. It doesn’t need a lot of space and you can dress it up with DIY signs, fake snow, and cute mugs. Or keep is simple with your holiday or wedding colors and let the edible goodies speak for themselves. For a unique twist, add jumbo marshmallows with a text or graphic of your wedding date, names, or theme.  Make it an adult hot chocolate station by offering Grand Mariner, Peppermint schnapps, Kahlua, Rum, Crème de Mint, Amaretto and last but not least Bailey’s Irish Cream. Adding a hot toddy station is also something you rarely see if going for a unique treat.

So, don’t be scared of a winter wedding!  Your guests will be happy to get themselves out of the house to share your special day with you.  Pushing back your wedding date a few months and waiting for the winter could not only save you a few bucks but could also help you land the venue of your dreams.  If a month or two is all that stands between you and your top choice venue, wait it out and have the event you always imagined.  Your day will be special and memorable no matter what the weather.