Budgeting for your wedding

A harsh reality of planning a wedding is creating a budget. It may not be the most romantic aspect of your nuptials, but it’s crucial, in order to reduce stress and not overspend. Here are some helpful ways to plan your budget:

  1. Talk to all the contributors. Maybe the couple is paying for the entire wedding themselves, maybe one family is footing the bill, or maybe it is being split between many parties. Whatever your situation is, make it clear from the beginning how much (and on what aspects of the wedding) each group is willing to spend.
  2. Decide what your big items are. For some, this is the venue, for others they want to allot a large percentage on food. Deciding on these big-ticket items early on will allow you to budget for the others.
  3. Remember what is important. It can be easy to get focused on getting the vendors their checks, and picking the right DJ that fits your budget. Remember at the end of the day, you’ll be celebrating with your partner and guests, and that will be the most important part.

How-to-set-your-wedding-budgetImage by Mark Sebastian on Flickr licensed by Creative Commons

Finally, the actual numbers. There are a number of budget spreadsheets available online, but my favorite way to get the rough numbers is to ask:

"Picture the meal and setting that you would have for your reception and try to match it to a restaurant you know. Now – what does this meal cost if you were to go out on any regular evening?"

Take that meal cost and multiply it by two to four times, and you have a range of per person cost for your reception. Mutliply THAT by your number of guests and you have a good estimate of a reception budget.

For example, if you like the atmosphere and food at Portland restaurant Ned Ludd, take your per person cost for dinner there (including apps and drinks), let's say that's $85 per person. Multiply that times 2 or 4 to get the range. Your per-person wedding budget range is $170 – 340 per person. If you expect 100 guests, you should budget $17-34K for the wedding reception.

Keep in mind that, the lower the meal cost goes, the less accurate this may be, since you may have venue costs or rental costs for a private venue that far outstrip the cost of a casual meal for 100. Also, while this is a great way to estimate per-person costs, it doesn't address big-ticket budget items that aren't used by guests such as the wedding clothes, honeymoon, or rings. Sometimes the only way to do it is line-by-line.

What method are you using to estimate your budget? Please leave us a comment with your thoughts!

– Malia Exo-Robinson and Emee Pumarega contributed to this blog post.

Steps to Planning a Wedding, or “I just got engaged, where do I start?”

After the initial thrill of getting engaged subsides, you now realize that there's some planning to do! This time can easily feel overwhelming as friends and family barrage you with questions: Have you set a date? Where will the wedding be held? What's the theme? Where should I get a hotel room? !!!

Steps-to-planning-a-wedding-start-here
Fear not, there's actually a pretty organized system for thinking through the steps to planning a wedding that I can share with you in a few sentences. And no, it doesn't start with setting a date! Read on…

Phase One – Design, Budget, and Team  << START HERE!

The first phase of planning is for you to sit down and figure out how much you are willing to spend on the services needed to put on your ceremony and reception. Once that is done, you decide on a "look and feel" for the wedding – the wedding design. Only then can you start looking at venues and dates, and the vendor team who will provide the services and physical elements to make your vision into reality. Phase one is over when you have booked each vendor entity and/or assigned all major services to someone in your group.

Phase Two – Refining the Design

So you successfully completed Phase One and have your venue and vendor team together. Most of them will have had an initial contract that you signed that commits them to appear on the day of, or to provide a service during planning such as making the invitations. But what invitations? Which fonts and colors? What paper type? Detailed decisions must be made all the way down, for every vendor. Your second phase of planning is all about pushing each vendor or entity doing something for your wedding (including friends and DIY!) from the initial idea/contract to a final product or final order. Yes, you selected the florist, but don't stop there. Now it's time to pick out which flowers, which colors, and how many of each. It may seem daunting, but a good vendor will walk you through this process so you definitely won't be on your own.

Phase Three – Wedding Day Coordination

By about 2 months before the wedding, I'm hoping you've completed the first two phases (That's what we do for all of our clients!). At this point you should have everyone hired (or friends selected for any DIY services) to do each and every task needed for the big day. You should have the menu picked out, the flowers selected, the flatware and linens selected, the music picked.

Now is the final phase of making sure to remind everyone of the overall vision and what the big day should look like. You need to put together a contact list of everyone working on the day of and all of their mobile numbers and emails. As well as a schedule of the day, from rehearsal time to setup times/ vendor arrivals all the way through ceremony/reception organized activities, and through cleanup. Finally there should be a checklist of all of your setup items and a description of each. Once you have this document and share it with everyone involved and reconfirm it, you are on your way to a relaxed and smoothly-running day!

 

Where wedding websites fall short

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Photo credit: Madeline Ball, licensed by Creative Commons

Newly engaged? If you've started planning, that likely means heading to the computer. What you’ll come across are many websites that provide some of the same things a coordinator does: a to-do list, a list of vendors, and hundreds of articles about anything and everything wedding related. If you're not sure if wedding coordinator is in your budget, or you want to take on the planning yourself, these websites are amazing resources. However, there are several things a website can’t do:

  1. Tailor a plan unique to you and your partner. A coordinator can sit with you and your partner—and your families if they are involved—and go over each individual detail of what you would (and really wouldn’t) like to see on your big day.
  2. Give you advice from years of experience. A wedding coordinator that has been at this for a while has seen a lot of weddings, and this means they can pass all of this knowledge along to you as a bride or groom.
  3. Provide day-of coordination. This is one thing that couples often forget. While some feel they can handle the preparation ahead of time, it’s easy to overlook how many things need managing on the big day. Hiring a coordinator means someone is assigned to this, and you and your family and friends can focus on enjoying yourselves.

If you have experience with planning your wedding over wedding websites, good or bad, let us know in the comments! 

— Malia Robinson-Exo and Emee Pumarega, May 18, 2016

 

 

 

 

{ Attire Tips } Try It On!

Dress-fitting-seamstress-alterations

You would never walk into a store, grab a dress off the rack, pay for it and walk out, would you?  No, you would try it on first!  Especially if it was for an important occasion.

The same should apply for your wedding day!  After witnessing a couple of “wardrobe malfunctions” this summer, bride and groom alike, I have to remind you all:  Please try on your gown or tux before you take it home for the last time!

Yes, you may have had several fittings.  But things can happen between the last fitting and the final pickup.  You could have shed (or stacked) a few pounds.  The seamstress could make a mistake.  The tux supplier could have packed an incorrect vest size.

Open that bag BEFORE you leave the store, and try it on one last time.  Or at least once you get it home. You do not want to open that bag on the day of the wedding to find out that something is missing or wrong.  It’s so much easier to make corrections or adjustments when you’re not under the gun.

(A version of this article originally ran in August 2008 on The Portland Wedding Coordinator blog.) wedding planning portland oregon hood river ejp events portland wedding coordinator design weddings vancouver wa camas washougal lake oswego

More wedding advice and tips available over at EJP Events’s Portland wedding planning website.

 

 

Cool Photobooth Additions and Alternatives {What can I have instead of a photobooth?}

Photo-booth-for-weddings(Yes, this is what your coordinators look like after about 12 hours on site :-)! Image courtesy Evrim Icoz Photography)

The wedding photobooth used to be a fun novelty; now it seems like a wedding must-have, along with regular photography and mini-desserts. So common now, that we're often asked,

"What can I add to my wedding to entertain guests along with, or instead of, a photobooth?"

We are definitely still big fans of the photobooth because not only is it amusing, it serves as a different kind of wedding documentation and also as a party favor. But here are a few ideas if you want to supplement the wedding day with entertainment or amusements that are a little different and sure to be remembered:

GIFbooth: Do you love GIFs on tumblr? Or the fancy cinemagraphs that get passed around every Fashion Week? Animated GIFs (Graphics Interchange Files) are made using a special videocamera setup that translates the captured video or still frames into a moving photo. These can be downloaded from a wedding website after the wedding, and make a fun momento, similar to a flipbook. Among others, GIFFF Booth and Limelight Photo can provide these services.

View more after the cut:

Continue reading “Cool Photobooth Additions and Alternatives {What can I have instead of a photobooth?}”

When and how do we sign our Oregon marriage license?

via awesomethingsaregoodforyou.tumblr.com

Here's a question I get asked quite a bit: when and how do you sign the marriage license? I've seen it done a number of ways.

(First though, make sure you go in person to the county office and pick up your marriage license within 3 and 60 days before the wedding! You can start the process online in Multnomah County, but you both still must go in person to pick it up, with valid ID. More about that here.)

You will have given the county clerk $60 and your personal information, and signed your names to a triplicate form. The license is then given to you to wait until the day of the wedding when your witnesses will print their names, your officiant will sign it and add his or her contact information, and make the license legally binding.

There's also a commemorative license. This is the "pretty" certificate that is included along with your marriage license, and you will want to also have your witnesses, officiant, and yourselves sign this too. It's just for looks though, and is NOT proof of legal marriage. (It is fun to get your witnesses and officiant to sign that one too, and to flash it on your honeymoon, in hopes of getting freebies 🙂

So, again, when does all this happen? If you don't mind not having the photographer there, you can cheat a little and get it out of the way by signing everything the night before the wedding. Usually your officiant and witnesses are present at the rehearsal dinner, so this makes things really easy. This is a little unorthodox though, since you are technically now married the day before the wedding. However, it does make for one less thing to worry about on the day of.

The next option is to pre-fill out all the paperwork and witness names, and let the officiant sign on the day of. This way you are still officially executing the document on the actual day of your wedding, but it still cuts down on the paperwork and poring-over-fine-print part.

The final option is still the most traditional; gather your 2 adult witnesses and officiant on the day of the wedding, either right before you walk down the aisle in the dressing room, or right after, and do the form filling and formal signing with your photographer present. Just make sure to decide where in the schedule this will fall, and that the witnesses know, and pick a good location with a table and light where all this can take place. With the triplicate form and the commemorative license, it can amount to about 10-15 minutes of careful paperwork and can take up to 20-25 minutes out of the wedding day schedule.

And that's it! Just make sure that your officiant does MAIL the license back to the county within the following week. That final step ensures that your marriage is recorded by the government and you can have your happily ever after recognized in the eyes of the law as well as your family and friends.

Wedding Sparklers: Tips and Tricks, and Where to Buy for Portland, Oregon Weddings

Portland-photographer-paul-richPhoto courtesy Paul Rich Studio

In the middle of #Snowlandia2014, why am I sitting inside thinking about weddng sparklers? Maybe because I am obsessed with making sure people don't make mistakes with their wedding, and sparklers are one place where it's really easy to screw up something that seems simple. Here are a few tips:

1. Order your sparklers really early. First, so you can get the benefits of super-low bulk pricing from the large favor sellers. Second, because in most places, sparklers are considered to be a type of firework, and thus cannot be shipped express air. So many people wait until the last minute/last couple of weeks before the wedding and then realize that they can't get the sparklers on time!

2. (Or maybe, #zero?) Check with your venue to make sure they will allow you to use sparklers on site! Just because you've seen a bunch of great pictures of people using wedding sparklers on Pinterest, doesn't mean your venue allows it. Also be prepared that, especially in the Gorge or Oregon's forested areas, where it can be very windy, a site that allows sparklers normally can all of a sudden ban them if there is a general burn ban in the area due to dry and windy weather.

3. Don't hand them out too early. Guests will get into them and start lighting them up on the dance floor or wherever, and all of a sudden, there aren't any left for the special getaway picture you were planning. Designate someone to pull them out of their safe storage place at the end of the night and hand them out as guests are leaving.

4. Organize your peeps. Those getaway pictures don't just happen. Guests are usually occupied getting one last drink at the bar or hanging out near the dance floor — they have no idea that you want them to gather out at the front of the venue to pose for a complicated photo composition. Again, designate your wedding coordinator or trusted friend who will have their wits about them at the end of the night, to round up guests a few minutes before you and your new spouse exit the venue. Or get the DJ/emcee to make an announcement.

5. Again, those getaway picture don't just happen! Make sure your photographer is well versed in taking nighttime photos with sparklers. Once more, your coordinator is key in making sure that the schedule will accommodate your photographer's package (you don't want them leaving before the getaway, right?).

6. Timing is everything. By the time the last guest lined up gets their sparkler lit, the first guest's sparkler could go out. That's why I recommend using 28" to 36" long sparklers – the really long kind – so they last a long time. As an alternative, you could give out two of the shorter (more commonly found) 12" sparklers per person so when their first one goes out they have a backup. It goes without saying that you should have plenty of lighters, matches, or a central large sparkler for everyone to light off of. And of course, pails of sand or water for guests to put them out. 

I hope you found these tips helpful! In Portland, here are a couple of great Portland-local places where you can order your sparklers:

The Wedding Cottage

Fancy That

Or if you want to order online, here are a few links from some of our great sponsoring merchants below.


12" WEDDING SPARKLERS (pack of 5)
Price: 1.75


Heart Shaped Sparklers (BULK Case of 72 Wedding Sparklers)

Price: 65.99
Koyal-wholesale-wedding-sparklers
36" Wedding Sparklers (6 Per Pack) – 3 Minute Gold Sparkle

Price: 119.88
Koyal-wholesale-wedding-sparklers
36" Bulk Wedding Sparklers (144 Per Case) – 3 Minute Gold Sparkle

Price: 183.90

Heart Shaped Wedding Sparklers

Price: 49.80

36 Inch Wedding Sparklers

Price: 3.95

Read more about our relationships with sponsors and affiliate organizations.

Top signs you do NOT need a wedding planner

I know, crazy, right? Why would The Portland Wedding Coordinator blog about not needing a wedding planner? The plain truth is, not every wedding really needs one. Here are some signs that yours might be one of them:

1. You are very laid-back about the look and feel of the wedding and don't need for things to turn out or look a certain way.

2. Your event has very little etiquette, protocol, or time constraint

3. Culturally, the expectations of family and guests of your ability to host a party experience are low.

4. Your guest list is small (less than 40) people, and you don't have friends and family coming from out of town

5. The how-this-will-all-come-together is pretty cut and dried. Logistics are really easy, and your vendor team has all worked together before in that venue. Additionally, you are not creating a script or schedule that deviates greatly from what's been done before.

{ Wedding Trend Watch } Interactive Art Walls

Say what you will about corporate event planning, but I am always amazed at how often corporate events stay one step ahead of wedding trends. Often, something I see at a corporate event I know will translate perfectly for a social one; and before long I see that trend start appearing at weddings.

The art wall is one of these trends. The party host puts up a large backdrop containing drawn frames, individual watercolor sheets, or even Lego(TM) baseplates and allows each guest to customize an area of the wall. Each guest installs their art piece in the display which then becomes a grand version of a guest book as well as part of the cocktail hour entertainment and a conversation piece.

Events-art-wallsHere, website design company Virb invited guests to draw what they loved, and to tag their photo on instagram in order to enter a contest. This same multi-frame backdrop could easily be used for individual wedding guest drawings or guest book entries.

Lego-interactive-art-wall

At the Lego Kids' Fest in Portland, individual 5" x 5" base plates/"tiles" were provided with a wide selection of Lego shapes and colors. After each guest completed a tile, they were invited to add their tile to the larger display.

Are you incorporating any interactive components into your guests' experience? Or did you come up with a novel idea for cocktail hour entertainment? Please share in the comments!

Photos: EJP Events

{ Daily Reblog } Tips and Tricks to Attending Bridal Shows

We are starting to get back into bridal show season and I though I'd share a few tips on how to get the most of your bridal show experience and how to avoid "bridal show overload." 

Bridal show attendane

Gear Up!

First things first, make sure to have a good breakfast or lunch before attending the show if it doesn't have a food function offered. Many times samples of cake or even champagne are offered, and these can wreak havoc on an empty stomach.

Bring a water bottle so you stay hydrated while you're walking around. Sometimes all that air-conditioned, recycled air can dry you out and leave you feeling fatigued.

Finally, make sure to wear comfortable shoes since you'll be doing lots of walking.

Be Prepared!

Use your show time efficiently! Make a few sheets of labels with your name, address, email, and wedding date if you want to avoid standing in lines to enter drawings or raffles. At the same time, remember that if you provide personal information, you'll probably receive mail and email from those vendors. If you provide a wedding date , most vendors will stop contacting you once your date has passed.

Understand the show timeline. Is there a seated food function, or seminars to sign up for? What time should you arrive in order to get a seat for the fashion show? Make sure you take a look at the program offerings; that way you get the most out of your admission fee.

Make a list of items you still need from your wedding checklist, and target those booths first. Otherwise you could spend precious time wandering the aisles! Also, bring notes or pictures to help your planning along — for example, if you're looking for jewelry and accessories, bring a picture or swatch of your attire.

If you plan on hitting the gown sales, avoid wearing heavy foundation or lipstick, as products are bound to smear. You can always stop by one of the beauty vendors for a touch-up once you're done shopping!

Finally, Enjoy Yourself!

You'll probably receive lots of brochures and business cards. Try to sort through them as you go through the show, otherwise you could wind up with a heavy bag that just gets recycled!

In the end, be sure to have fun and enjoy yourself! Don't be overwhelmed by the choices; in the end you'll be sure to find some great ideas and hopefully, put together a winning team for your wedding day.

A version of this blog post originally appeared on February 22, 2010.