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The M Word

by | Bride, Finance


claire and tim melbourne zoo wedding035 The M Word

Claire and Tim captured by You Can’t Be Serious Photography

I am delighted today to introduce a woman who has become a dear friend- Carolyn Gerin is the creator and co-author of the three book Antibride series for Chronicle books, she coordinates the Antibride blog (for which she asked me to write as Aussie Bride) and is also the Senior Editor on one of the best destination wedding magazines- Destination I Do (on stands March 15th). She’s just returned from a swanky press trip to Western Australia where she fell in love with the country and the Australian people.

Carolyn is one of the most down to earth and grounded people I’ve met- but she also has a wicked sense of humor and a generous spirit. So when I asked Carolyn to write today’s guest post, I knew she’d come up with something fantastic!

When Ms. Polka Dot asked me to write a blog post about finance and weddings, I was at the ready, armed and dangerous, with more information on the subject than most sane women would readily admit. But suffice it to say, we will call this post the “M” word, because I believe it’s easier to broach the subject of the Kama Sutra as acceptable family dinner conversation than it is talk about money. Especially when it comes to weddings.

Tough Love: Note To Self

Money is indeed the root of all evil – if you let it envelope you in an opium cloud of a fantasy life that you currently do not live. Shows like Platinum Weddings – should be treated as an inspiration tool, not gospel – use it like a wedding magazine to pick and choose ideas to inform your own event based on your budget. If you aren’t Ivanka Trump, you must belly up to your bank statement and take a little dose of tough love, as you may not be able to afford everything you see and dream about.  Dreams have a price tag.

The Anti-Bride series came from this thought process: it’s about celebrating your lifestyle (and who you are as a bride and a couple), and honoring that in rituals, celebrations, food, apparel and décor and not getting trampled by the Wedding Industrial Complex (or be made to feel that you somehow don’t rate on the bridal Richter scale because you’re not rocking a Vera Wang). There is no one on this earth like you and your sweetie. You have your own love story, clock speed, style and quirk. You’ve got taste, you’ve got game, and most likely been throwing fabulous soirees since you were old enough to hold a martini glass. The particular brand called YOU doesn’t necessarily need to be outsourced to someone who knows better. That said, you know what you can afford. The art of living well needs to extend into a fiscally fabulous, anxiety-free newlywed bubble of wellbeing after the big day. Surrounded by the best people in your life, the person you love, the food you crave, the music you like to dance to, is the key. So it doesn’t matter if your wedding is in a VFW hall or the Taj Mahal, it will be the best day of your life….

Asking For It

Some lucky brides have proud parents who have saved up for her big day since birth (my family saved up for college tuition). The new rules of the road dictate that in this economy, it’s a shared load, where the bride’s family, the groom’s family and the couple chip in, many times, in equal measure. The genius part about a three-way financial team is that the couple has more say as they are “equity holders” and “investors” and the event parameters will then be dictated by the budget (just like at work!). If Daddy Donald is funding Ivanka’s throw down at the golf club, there’s probably a few more strings attached.

At the get-go, discuss specifically how much the bride and grooms parents want to chip in, and any specific requests they would like to throw into the ring for consideration (a Huppah, a special ritual, a certain scripture reading, a favorite recipe, a cocktail from the old country). Discuss the feasibility of making this a reality. Get the checks at the beginning of the process in whatever denomination is decided. Then the mind games, the passive aggressive stuff and the back and forth will evaporate (at least until the flower arrangements and dress decision comes up).

Uptown Girl:

What if you and your and your intended’s families come from very different financial backgrounds, and you’re worried about the contribution disparity?

The financial arrangements should depend on the couple’s finances and the families’ abilities (and willingness) to cover expenses. One foolproof strategy to prevent money discomfort is to plan a wedding you can afford yourself. Any money from family can be considered pennies from heaven. Also, do not ever disclose the disparity in contributions. To anyone. If the bride’s family covers 80% and the groom’s family covers 20% it’s nobody’s business but your own. The idea is to join families, and celebrate this new and wonderful union, not create class warfare. If the groom’s family experiences a pervasive feeling of dread at the thought of attending Thanksgiving (because they sense they’ve been tagged as the poor relations), that is downright bad Karma.

How to Ask for Money instead of Gifts

You can’t. But here’s how to get it anyway: we know you’d rather have a stack of $100 checks or gift certificates than a crystal dinner bell or 10 toaster ovens. The key is discretion. To indirectly get the word out—rely on your Mom or mention something on your wedsite. Since online registries are de rigueur, list the stores you want to work with and inform them beforehand that you are interested in gift certificates only, in any denomination. It used to be gauche to list your registry on your wedsite, but people are too time crunched to beat around the bush or call your Mom, (if they’ve even got her number), and then try and divine what you want. So just list where you are registered on your wedsite, and save everyone the time and energy.

One bride’s mother when contacted about the couples gift registry by guests, told them if they wanted to do something easy, contribute to the couple’s “down payment fund” for their house and gave them the contact information. This can easily be set up on Pay Pal. I’ve heard of couples who are renovating setting up registries at Home Depot. We boiled it down further: Hop scotching on our 3-city wedding cocktail party tour: San Francisco-DC-Paris, we simply couldn’t transport gifts. But we could certainly transport checks and gift certificates (Williams Sonoma, Borders, Macy’s, and Home Depot). My mother was the point person who communicated the “they can’t transport gifts” dispatch, which translated into “Oh well, I guess we’ll write a check.” People always take the path of least resistance: writing a check is about 15 minutes faster than buying a gift certificate. We also registered for furniture at our favorite Mid Century Modern emporium. Also, consider registering for stuff you’ll use that are non wedding related: Like at your local surf shop (wetsuits, surfboards, hoodies, booties), mountain bikes or snowboard gear. If the sporting life is a part of your married life, you should think about what’s more important, a new longboard or a set of dishes…Hmmmmmmmm…..

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W Is For Weddings – Behind “The Wedding” Word Part Two

by | Bride, Finance


742chelseamark W Is For Weddings Behind The Wedding Word Part Two

Chelsea and Mark by Renee Brazel

Welcome back to part two of our feature article “W Is For Weddings – Behind “The Wedding” Word!

2) In a television report on the (Choice) article it was suggested that prospective brides and grooms not tell the vendor that they required their services for a wedding, but for a party instead. What effect would this have on you as a vendor?

One wedding planner said that if a ‘couple approached us and described a fairly costly event, without mentioning it was a wedding, we would likely suggest our wedding package, as it is more cost effective to them and guarantees them more service from us’.

Other vendors, such as hire cars and paper goods suppliers said that telling them the event was a party (when it was really a wedding), would cause embarrassment for both the bridal party, and the vendor themselves, at not being able to fulfill their client’s requirements adequately. It might also mean that if the vendor was unable to fulfill ‘project expectations’ it would potentially take time away from other clients (while the problems were rectified) and reflect adversely on their business.

One vendor said that this would this would cause stress and not allow her to ‘make a fair quotation for (her) time and services’. Another vendor expressed that she would realize after lengthy discussion with the couple that the event, was indeed, a wedding!

A florist said she would place special orders to source flowers for a wedding. For a standard party request, the stock flowers in the shop may be used.

A jewellery designer  (as distinct from a jewellery store on the high street – which we did not canvas with these questions) said that ‘the only difference in price would be attributed to any difference in the cost of materials’.

A venue operator said that whilst it wouldn’t affect their pricing structure, they have ‘a dedicated Wedding Team……that know the inside and out of the wedding industry including the best suppliers, ideas on theme (ing) and entertainment and ideas to make your day stand out from the rest’.

An apparel vendor told of a person who rang up their store and said she was attending a wedding as a guest. After being told that there were cocktail and evening dresses that might be suitable for the occasion, she traveled for over an hour to get to their store, only to tell the owners that she was the bride. She had wasted her time as the store had no wedding dresses to show her – they would have been ordered in especially for her – if she had been honest about her needs.

3) Would the couple’s honesty (dishonesty) have an effect on the way you provided your service to them and what would this mean for future couples you supplied?

All vendors expressed that they would not be influenced by the couple’s (dis)honesty and would do everything they could to fulfill their requirements as per the contract they had signed.

They did, however, express feelings of hurt, embarrassment and betrayal if they found couples were not honest with them. They also at the same time asked that couples be honest with them about their budgets and expectations and not undervalue them and the services they provide.

The over-riding theme from all vendors interviewed was that they were transparent with their pricing structures and wanted the chance to provide the best possible service to their brides and grooms. Many expressed pride in the individual touches they could provide and felt it was an honour to participate in some way in making the couple’s day ‘something truly special’.

As one vendor so beautifully put it ,‘I think clients should look at being honest as an advantage, as a starting point of negotiations – what’s wrong with letting the vendor know your budget, and your expectations, before assuming the price will jump? Honesty can work out to be the best tool for both the client and the vendor, as it puts you on the same page. Give the vendor a chance to do their best to make you happy ….’  And as another vendor said, ‘Why not use their expertise to make your planning ….easier?’

As always, ask lots of questions, be honest and upfront in your expectations and communications (and contract) with the vendor, and shop around until you find vendors that you ‘click’ with. Another vendor finished with ‘if a client doesn’t trust their vendor, I would suggest that they haven’t found the right one and should keep looking’.

Our heartfelt thanks go to these vendors who gave us their valuable time and insights in answering our survey:

Natasha at Your Special Day

David at  Cloud 9 Wedding Cars

Matt at Boston Limousines

David at David Frith Jewellery

Lyndsay at It’s A Date Design

Nancy at Nancy Liu Chin Designs

Sara at Bella Notte Wedding Consulting

Aletha at Pearls Events

Autumn at The Paper Couturiere

Erica at Opera Point Events

Suzi at  Alannah Rose Stationery

Dannii at The Kissing Tree

Kathryn at Pink Frosting

Gisella at Exclusively Bridesmaids

W Is For Weddings – Behind “The Wedding” Word

by | Bride, Finance


Anna James 0931 W Is For Weddings Behind The Wedding Word

Anna and James by Zoom Photography

In 2009 the Australian magazine, Choice, ‘sought quotes from 60 reception venues, cakes makers, hire car businesses, entertainments, florists and photographers in Sydney and Melbourne.’ Two ‘shadow shoppers’ were assigned to the task. ‘One shopper asked for prices for her wedding and another for her 40th birthday. Both events had the same number of guests and identical requirements in terms of cars, cakes, flowers, photographers, entertainment and venue.’ (Quotes from the Choice website article ‘Here Comes The Bride: And Up Goes The Price’) The television program that aired this ‘research’ even suggested that brides not tell the vendors that they wanted their services for a wedding!

So to get the other side of the story and add some balance from those in the wedding industry, we decided to interview a selection of vendors to give you the REAL story!

We asked some questions:

1) Do you charge more for a wedding, and if so, why?

Two hire car companies responded by saying they work on a set hourly fee, which one said he discounted as weddings are usually for a number of hours. They offer specialised services at no extra cost such as decorations and refreshments.

Paper goods vendors (invitations etc) stressed that there is a world of difference between a party invitation and a wedding invitation. A lot of brides now want a wedding invitation ‘package’ to send to guests, often with costly embellishments. This consists of a minimum of 4 pieces but can be up to 10 pieces to design and print. Most work on an hourly rate which includes consultation, design, research and presentation of the portfolio of the suite. Given the emotional component of a wedding this can take many hours. A birthday invitation on the other hand is often one page or a simple card so takes a lot less time in consultation and design.

One vendor said that her prices were the same for other events and weddings and her prices were on her site ‘and clear to all’.

A floral designer commented that ‘brides have a specific vision’ and often want non standard items which are not ‘commercially available’. She went on to say that generally ‘corporate clients are satisfied with my inventory of containers and props and do not require additional time and labour spent to acquire the quantities needed to match the bride’s vision’.

Another floral designer says that she does charge more for wedding flowers because for a wedding she sources and uses only blooms that are sold by growers as ‘premium’ quality stock, whereas a shop bouquet is made from ‘standard’ stock. Also wedding flowers can take hours to prepare and create, so there is a labour charge involved.

One event designer custom quotes for each event and cost ‘is based on the amount of hours invested’. Another vendor pointed out that ‘expectations of weddings are always very high and the details that go into them are numerous and they typically require more extensive planning than another event’.

Interestingly one vendor made the point that she ‘strictly limits the number of events we do each weekend, so once I commit to a wedding or party, I am also losing the potential income of other clients that may be getting married on that weekend’. Don’t forget that their time includes sourcing, planning and set up time in the vendor’s studio and on site, as well as clean up time when the event ends, in some instances.

Check back this afternoon to see what else vendors had to say about the issue!

Wedding Budgets and Bothers

by | Bride, Finance


frangipani bouquet Wedding Budgets and Bothers

Issy’s wedding bouquet captured by Angela Higgins Photography

One of the first things people ask me when they get engaged is “What do we do now?”. The first thing I always say is “Enjoy it!”. I think so often we rush too fast past these precious moments, without sitting there and just relishing in the fact that they’ve happened, celebrating without too much thought of the next event.

The money for the wedding and all that it entails can be a tough reality hit for many engagees. With what can seem like endless costs associated with a wedding, you can start to understand the people who have really, really long engagements!

How do you decide where and on what to spend those precious dollars (and how many dollars to spend)? My first suggestion is to give yourself some time to sit down with your fiancé and talk about what is most important to you both.

There is no need to hurry this process – it may take hours or even weeks of discussion. Your discussion should encompass all aspects of the wedding down to the smallest detail so that you don’t get hit with surprises.

You can make lists as detailed as possible – for example:
– church – large arrangements
– aisle
– boutonnieres
– bridesmaids’ bouquets
– bride’s bouquet
– flowers for parents, grandparents
– tables etc etc

Or simply figure out “Yeah, we want our guests to have amazing food and wine but really, we’re not fussed about the cars” or “Oh we love cake! Actually all we do is eat cake, but really, I don’t mind what flowers we have, as long as they’re pretty!”

Then decide which of the things on your lists you can do without, amend, or do on a budget. Ask yourselves what aspects of your wedding you just cannot live without. What would you regret not having done, when you look back at your wedding on your fifth wedding anniversary. Those are the non-negotiable things that you will need to find the money for, and will give you the greatest pleasure when they are done beautifully, just as you’d hoped.

There are ways vendors are able to flexible as well- a dress designer may use a cheaper lace rather than the pricier French lace, you may forgo dessert at your reception venue for your wedding cake, your photographer may offer a package without an album. It’s always worth asking vendors if there is flexibility in meeting your budget.

If you need to put a savings plan in place, you can choose to cut back your spending in little ways. Have more cosy meals at home, just the two of you, have two drinks at the wine bar instead of five, find free entertainment, and before you know it you will have saved the amount you need. Who knows, this saving bug could catch on and continue throughout your life together!

How did your prioritise for your own wedding? Where did you splurge and where did you save?

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