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Good Advice and Bad Advice About Money


It ought to go without saying that all wedding budget advice is not created equal. That certainly is the case when the question is who is going to pay for what!

Just this morning I felt myself compelled to read an article at Gal Time about the ‘new rules’ for who pays for what.

The author of the piece, Analorena Zeldon, consulted two experts, Andria Lewis (wedding planner with fifteen years’ experience) and Jodi RR Smith (author and etiquette expert) about how couples should broach the divvying up of expenses between themselves and their parents.

On the upside, the article not only assumes the couple will take some responsibility for some expenses themselves (and has a convenient breakdown of who pays for what when the two of you are paying for it all), but also that the bride’s parents might choose for a variety of reasons to opt out entirely.
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Is It Okay to Haggle With Wedding Vendors?

Weddings are expensive, amirite?

Most wedding vendors post package prices on their web sites – and if not, a photographer or caterer or florist will usually have a brochure listing a sort of menu of various packages and options. And it’s easy to balk at those rates when you’re newly-engaged. I’ve been asked a few times by brides-to-be whether it’s okay to haggle with wedding vendors, i.e., say something like “Are you willing to give me Package B for $1500 instead of $2000? How about $1800?” My answer? I don’t think so. As much as I like to talk about the “wedding tax” and how overpriced so many wedding accessories are, I also like to think that most wedding vendors are good, honest people and thus price their services accordingly.

A wedding vendor is not a weekend flea market hobbyist or a homeowner hosting a garage sale, and the payment they receive for the services they provide to brides and grooms are often their sole source of income. Maybe it’s just that I’m a freelancer, but the idea of treating a specialty service like a secondhand stairmaster seems a little weird to me. So no, I would not recommend haggling with wedding vendors.

What you can do is negotiate based on your needs. Let’s say the aforementioned Package B is for wedding flowers and you think $2000 seems a little steep BUT you love the florist’s work. AND you don’t actually need or even really want every last little thing in Package B. There’s nothing at all wrong with approaching the wedding florist you’ve fallen in love with and telling her that Package B makes the most sense for you, but you only need five centerpieces, not eight, and you’re having bridesmen not bridesmaids so you won’t need any bridesmaids’ bouquets. I don’t think I’ve ever personally encountered a wedding vendor who was unwilling to make adjustments to prices when making adjustments to packages.

In other words, negotiating with wedding vendors is usually as easy as asking to order “off the menu” and there’s nothing wrong with simply inquiring as to whether a vendor is willing to lower their package prices when you’re not asking for everything in that particular package. (And you should never feel obligated to take everything in a package when you don’t want it!) That way, you and your wedding vendors can work together to create something that’s exactly what you need at a price that you can both live with.

What do you think of negotiating with wedding vendors? How about haggling – would you do it?

Help Your Wedding Vendors Help You

Wedding planning is sometimes no fun. You don’t have as much money as you’d like to have in your wedding budget. Your first-choice wedding venue is booked on your set-in-stone wedding date. Your FFIL is demanding a barbecue-centric menu at the wedding reception. And your intended has thus far not lifted a finger to help. I get it. Sometimes being a bride-to-be can suck.

Sometimes in the midst of all that suckitude, it can really start to feel like wedding planning is a World vs. Bride affair. And when you’re mad at the world, it’s only natural to adopt an adversarial attitude when dealing with people. But when it comes to dealing with your wedding vendors, my advice is *don’t*. As in don’t assume that your wedding vendors are adding a ‘wedding tax‘ to the bill. Don’t just assume that you’re going to have to fight your wedding vendors to get what you want. And don’t change your mind a hundred times, just to mess with your vendors’ heads.

Of course, some brides-to-be, when faced with the suckiness of planning a wedding, veer too far in the opposite direction. They’re afraid to tell their wedding vendors what they want because they don’t want to be seen as pushy or, worse, labeled a bridezilla. Instead of making choices that please themselves, they make the choices that they think will make their wedding vendors happy. In some cases, the bride-to-be might not disclose her wedding budget, leaving her vendors free to make choices outside of her price range.

In both cases – whether we’re talking about the “difficult” bride or the “easy” bride – the bride-to-be becomes her own worst enemy. Her unwillingness to trust her wedding vendors or her unwillingness to be straight with her vendors can cost her the wedding she really wanted. Why? In the first case, the bride-to-be finds it impossible to work closely with someone who she thinks it out to get her. In the second, she never tells her wedding vendors how much she really has to spend or what she actually wants.

Planning a wedding should be a collaborative task undertaken by a couple and their wedding vendors, and that means that brides and grooms have to do their parts when dealing with wedding professional. When a bride or groom is up front with a wedding vendor about money matters and color preferences and all the things they do and do not want, that vendor has a good chance of putting together something – whether it’s a wedding cake or a bouquet or a table setting – that is just what that bride or groom had in mind. And that wedding vendor? He or she should be someone that the bride or groom deems trustworthy, so there’s never any need to be adversarial at all.

Inspiration: Fly Away With Me!

Omigosh omigosh omigosh, how amazing and inspirational is this travel inspired dessert buffet created bySweets Indeed and featured on the Amy Atlas Events blog? I think it has everything in the whole world that I like, from a casual, almost-but-not-quite rustic design to its incredible whimsy and prettiness. Oh, and sugarsugarsugar*, but that goes without saying.


On the Amy Atlas Events blog, Amy herself shares a few tips and tricks that will help the DIYers out there create an incredible dessert buffet. Speaking as someone who recently discovered that she likes designing the look and feel of events, I’d wager that something like a candy buffet or dessert buffet would be a relatively simple project. Much less stressful than, say, baking a wedding cake or sewing a wedding dress.

*my drug of choice

To Hire a Planner, or Not to Hire a Planner

If you watch as many bridal reality shows as I do (all in the line of duty), you could quickly come to the conclusion that hiring a wedding planner is as inevitable a part of wedding planning as choosing a bouquet. The vast majority of shows are either about how couples who have hired planners delight in the results or how celebrity planners can swoop in and save an inept bride from her own pathetic tastes and lackluster abilities.

The truth is, though, that planners are hired in only a small fraction (I’ve heard as low as ten percent) of all American weddings. Some of these planners are hired only as day-of coordinators, too. It’s not inevitable. It’s simply one option available to a modern couple.

So how do you decide if a wedding planner is for you? Read on and find out.
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Interview: Megan Leavy of Mpire Events (Pt. II)

Like I said yesterday – in case you missed it – I’m trying something a little different, namely interviewing wedding vendors and service providers so all you lovelies planning weddings get a new view of the wedding planning world. I’m still talking with Megan Leavy of Mpire Events, a full-service event planning company that does it all. Whether you’re planning an intimate dinner for 20 or a corporate event for 2,000, Megan has you covered. Today, she delves into the whys and hows of wedding planning and what it’s like to be a professional wedding planner.

What should a wedding planner’s top priority be?

I think it’s extremely important to get the bride and groom’s vision up front. It is their special day, and the day needs to reflect who they are as a couple and how they want to celebrate their union. Our job is of course to make the process as smooth and easy for the couple as possible while also giving them options and creative ideas to make their dreams reality.

What inspires you as you help a couple plan the perfect wedding?

I’m inspired by so much, but I find myself particularly inspired by the energy of the vendors I partner with. I work with the most amazing creative director from Winston Flowers, Ryan Zoeller, who is always able to take a bride and groom’s vision and bring it to life above and beyond how they pictured it. And that’s my goal with every event I plan. The creative part of any event is definitely what I enjoy the most about my job!

The question on everyone’s minds is: Why hire a wedding planner?

A bride should consider hiring a wedding planner for a variety of reasons. The number one reason, as I see it, is that the couple simply does not have the time to plan a wedding. But there are so many reasons to hire a wedding planner even if you do have the time! If a bride or groom has not planned a large or complex event before, I highly recommend hiring a planner because planning a wedding tends to be a lot more work than they initially anticipate.

And then there are the connections. Most planners have relationships with wedding vendors that can help a couple get the hotel they want, the best lighting professional, amazing flowers for a more competitive price, etc. A bride gets better quality and better deals than she could on her own when she works with a wedding planner.

Finally, creatively, the planner can tie your entire event concept together and hopefully improve upon your original idea to do something truly spectacular.

What does Mpire Events offer above and beyond what the average wedding planner gives her clients?

One of the services Mpire Events offers that couples really enjoy is custom gift packages for wedding guests. These are usually inspired by the area where the wedding is taking place. For example, in Boston these might include: Boston guides and maps, duck tour passes, treats from Faneuil hall, bottled water, Red Sox hats and a welcome note from the bride and groom. It’s a nice touch, and guests are always excited to receive them.

Finally, describe a perfect wedding.

The perfect wedding, as planned by Mpire Events, shouldn’t reflect my idea of what’s perfect, but instead whatever is perfect for the couple. It’s my job to bring their vision to life to create a smoothly run, very enjoyable and memorable wedding.

ATTN. WEDDING VENDORS: Would you like to be interviewed as part of Manolo for the Bride’s profile series? Send me an email at Manolobrides at gmail dot com!

Interview: Megan Leavy of Mpire Events (Intro)

Today I’m going to do something a little different, which I hope will become a regular feature here at Manolo for the Brides. I recently had a chance to interview the absolutely lovely Megan Leavy of Mpire Events, and I think that the insider’s view you can only get by talking to wedding vendors is so important when it comes to learning all you can about planning a wedding. Megan agreed to be my first-ever interview, but with luck there will be many more to come! Without further ado, let me introduce Megan and share what she had to say about her background, what she loves about wedding planning, and how she approaches wedding planning on behalf of a couple.

Tell our readers a little about your company and your background

Mpire Events produces stylish, creative and unforgettable events. I started the company in January of 2010 after working for a number of years helping manage events for professional athletes’ charitable foundations, as well as planning lavish parties for hedge fund managers and financial firms. My experience has allowed me to work on a range of events in areas such as Vegas, Tokyo, Florida, NYC and the Hamptons.

I knew it was time to start my own business in order to create events that would reflect my global experience and bring a fresh and unique style to Boston.

Why you were drawn to wedding planning specifically?

I’ve always loved attending weddings and through the years I’ve noted what makes a great wedding versus an average one. I wanted to help bring a couple’s dream to life by creating something that embodies what they want their special day to be and of course make it unforgettable. There’s no event quite like a wedding!

Would you call yourself a full-service wedding planner? Is there anything you won’t do?

I am definitely a full-service event planner. I can do it all, from the invitations and venue research and selection to planning rehearsal dinner and helping manage the ceremony, gifts, transportation, etc.

I am finding more often these days that there are certain aspects of planning a wedding a couple may want to handle themselves (e.g., hire their favorite photographer or use their family friend to create invitations). I think there is a larger market for wedding consultants who take care of specific elements of a wedding as opposed to every last detail, and I’m happy to take on a limited role or handle everything, start to finish.

Stay tuned for Megan’s tips for brides and grooms!

ATTN. WEDDING VENDORS: Would you like to be interviewed as part of Manolo for the Bride’s profile series? Send me an email at Manolobrides at gmail dot com!