Nine Great Money-Saving Wedding Tips

There are lots of ways to save money on your wedding. Some are great, others court disaster. These nine tips can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars while still giving you and your guests a fantastic experience. The guest list: Invite only the people you love – One of my favorite pieces of wedding advice comes from Miss Manners: “Invite the people you love and who love you.” Really, who else do you want at your wedding? Keeping the guest list tight is the single most effective way to save money on your wedding. Why? Because catering, which […]

Ten Pounds of Flour

There are two “hard limits” around wedding venue selection. Your anticipated guest count – which is to say, your guest list – and your budget. These are numbers that bring quantitative definition to your wedding. They are boundaries within which your wedding must stay. Your hard limits cannot be exceeded. Nothing that anyone says or does, save for someone adding to your budget, can change them. Establishing these two hard limits before you start touring venues, entering contracts, and spending money will save you a great deal of pain and suffering. I’ve seen lots – and I truly mean lots […]

Leading with Your Gut

If you’ve started to consider prospective reception or ceremony-and-reception venues for your wedding, your head is probably spinning like a dreidel. The number and variety of venues can seem endless. There are things you like about each one, and things you don’t. Every single venue sets their fees differently, so it’s nearly impossible to compare apples to apples. On top of that, there are a lot of details to understand, and even more questions to figure out and ask. What’s a person to do? I’m here for you! We’re going to spend the next few columns together working through everything […]

How to Book a Church Wedding

There’s a lot to know about planning your wedding! There are many, many details, and a lot of decisions to make. In the next few issues I’m going to walk you through the first and generally the biggest wedding planning decision: choosing your ceremony and reception venue.  Why do this first? Because once you have your venue you’ll have your wedding date, time, and place. Almost all of your planning depends on those three things, and they all come with booking your venue. So let’s get right into how to do that! If you’re planning a church wedding followed by […]

Congrats, You’re Engaged!

Where do you need to start with your wedding planning? Based on my experience working with thousands of couples, the two most important things to know – two things you have to know before you spend a dime – are how many people you plan to invite, and how much money you have available to spend. Every aspect of your wedding planning is related to those two things: your budget and your anticipated guest count.  Your budget – Your budget represents the total amount of money you have to spend for absolutely everything. That includes your venue, catering, photography, entertainment, […]

Navigating Venue and Catering Fees

The first purchasing decision you’re likely to make when you’re planning your wedding is your venue. The second is your caterer. These are generally your two largest purchases, and it’s best to make them in that order.  Sometimes the venue is a stand-alone cost, and sometimes it’s combined with catering. There are pros and cons to each. For the purposes of the moment, we’ll consider venue and catering separately. In Maryland, venue fees start with a no-cost home wedding and continue up into the low five-figure range. Costs can vary by season; by day of the week; and on weekends, […]

Time is a Thing

You can plan your whole wedding within a few weeks, if you’re seriously organized and have the stomach for it. But most people have neither the desire nor the intestinal fortitude to go that way. So, setting that kind of whirlwind planning experience aside, let’s talk about a less stressful planning timeline for your wedding. When should you start planning? Pick a date – Is there a particular date that you have in mind for your wedding? If not, how about a month, or a time of year, or even a year? One way or the other, pick a moment […]

Small is Beautiful

In weddings, size is everything and nothing. People fret over their guest lists more than anything else when they’re planning their wedding. Who to invite, who not to invite, who must be invited. And if that’s not enough to make you crazy, there’s the whole money thing. Weddings are often the third most expensive thing people buy in their lifetimes, right after a house and a car. Ten, twenty, thirty thousand dollars or more can go into your wedding. Or not. There was a time, from the mid-1910s until 1938, that Maryland was the quickie state. Most of the surrounding […]

Backyard Blues Part 2

Here’s more, continued from the July 19th issue, on the good, the bad, and the ugly of planning for a backyard wedding. More details, details, details… Parking is also a consideration. Wedding guests often arrive in pairs, so for that 75-guest wedding, about 35 cars would have to be put somewhere. Nothing upsets neighbors more than messing with their parking (or parking on their lawn!). Lack of parking is a deal-breaker, so right now, very early on in the planning process, is a really good time to have some friendly conversations with your neighbors about your intentions. If it rains […]

Backyard Blues Part 1

Caroline Hax, who writes an advice column for the Washington Post, recently answered a question from a bride who wanted to have a “small backyard wedding with about 75 guests” in her grandmother’s backyard. The bride thought that such a gathering was no big deal, which is to say that she said that all they would need t Two o do is “get some chairs and everything will work out.” Can you see where this is going? As it happened, the bride’s family was far more aware of what a wedding for 75 guests requires, as well as the impact […]