Wedding Planning 101

It's been almost a year since I launched MILK and I still haven't updated this blog. I was thinking of what to post, and I couldn't think of a more appropriate topic than an introduction to wedding planning. A handful of my friends have gotten engaged this year and they have all come to me with questions (which I love, I love helping where I can). However, not everyone has a friend who can provide all the answers so the internet will be that friend. I hope this will be helpful for all the new brides-to-be and grooms-to-be out there. 

Photographer:   Jeremy Chou Photography

Photographer:  Jeremy Chou Photography

Theme - Start by setting up your theme, a general aesthetic you would want to go with. Examples: modern, vintage, simple, romantic (you get the idea), having a theme will help your planner design and find vendors suited for you. Pinterest is a great resource for this. (Read on to hear more about the down side of Pinterest)

Budget - Currently the average cost for a 150 person wedding in Southern California runs around the $30,000 - $35,000 range. You're looking at the following breakdown. Of course things change depending on what's different couples prioritize. This is just an estimate.  

  • 50% Venue, Food & Beverage
  • 15% Photographer/Videographer
  • 10% Florals
  • 10% DJ/MC/Lighting/Rentals
  • 15% Wedding Coordinator, Hair & MUA, Officiant, Cake, Favors

Vendors - Most vendors aren't able to do multiple weddings in a day (for example a photographer or coordinator) so securing these should be first priorities. Here are all the vendors a wedding might have: Venue, Coordinator, Caterer, Rentals, Florists, Photographer, Videographer/Cinematographer, Stationary, Photo Booth, DJ/MC, Lighting, Hair & MUA, Officiant, and Cake. 

Venue - Securing a venue should be the first step of your wedding planning. To save some money, look to have your wedding during the off season (November - March). You're looking at a drastically lower ceremony fee. If you're open to a Friday & Sunday wedding, food and beverage minimums are generally lower on these days. 

Wedding Coordinator - Why you should hire a coordinator. When I get married, there is no way I am going to coordinate my own wedding. Even though I've been doing this for a while now, I definitely will not be able to enjoy my wedding if I have to think about making sure everything is going smoothly. That's why I recommend all couples get a coordinator. Even if it's the basic day-of-coordination package, having a coordinator there on the day of means you won't have to worry about vendors not being on time or making sure your family get all the photos they want. It's going to be one of the most important days of your life, get a coordinator so you are able to relax and enjoy it. 

Photographer/Videographer - These days, photographers & videographers/cinematographers can cost a healthy portion of your budget... but for good reason! You definitely want your special day to be well documented. If there is someone's work that you love, don't be afraid to ask if they have associate photographers. They are often half the price with the same style and feel having trained under the main photographer. 

Florists - Definitely go in for a consultation before booking your florist. Most florists will give you a mock up sample date as well before the wedding. Before your trial, research a little bit on your flowers. For example, premium flowers such as peonies, ranunculus, or dahlias are all more expensive than roses, hydrangeas, etc. Flowers like orchids are ultra-premium, so have a general idea of what you want before going in.

Invites - Save the dates generally go out around 4-5 months prior to your wedding. If you're doing a destination wedding, 6 months is good so travel accommodations can be booked in advance. Invitations can go out anywhere between 1-2 months before. 

Sales Tax - It may get confusing since some vendors will charge you tax and some won't. Generally speaking, if the vendor is giving you something tangible, sales tax may be charged. For example, a photographer may charge you sales tax on an album (since it's tangible), but maybe not on their actual service. 

Pinterest/Social Media - I love social media. I am heavily addicted to it all so when I tell you this, it's because I've been there. Pinterest and Instagram are great resources for weddings; however, bear in mind that there's no filter on either of these platforms for budget... so it's important to have realistic expectations when researching.

Of course, to make things even simpler, you can hire a bomb coordinator who will know all of this and more.☺Hope this helps for all you beautiful future bride & grooms!