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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Photography

The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Photography

Photo credit: Boogietek Photo + Cinema

Wedding season is upon us! Now that Spring has officially sprung, I’ve got no less than three weddings to attend this month alone. Perfect for a gal who blogs for a website dedicated to weddings, no? Anyway, for weddings in my community, it takes a village. That is, we who are able chip in financially to make the big day happen for our family members. So, it behooves us to score as many bargains as possible so that we all save some money while still creating a beautiful ceremony for the lovebirds. Perhaps the most costly item on the to do list is photography. It’s also one of the most vital components of the special day. How else can we remember that special day without pictures- lots of pictures? And of course, if you want great, high quality pictures (and everyone does), it’s not going to come cheap.

We’ve come up with a few ways to save your dollars for the big day.

1) Smartphone cameras - Put that ultra expensive fancy schmancy high tech phone to use. With amazing photography apps like VSCO, it’s possible to take beautiful pics from the comfort of your phone.

2) Social Media - Speaking of apps and smartphones, most people have them, so it’s a sure bet that most of your guests will be snapping away during the festivities. You can go online and create a hashtag just for your day. So, whenever anyone takes a picture and posts it to social media, they add the hashtag, and boom! You can collect different perspectives of your day of wedded bliss. #nofilter (Actually, you should probably expect quite a few filters).

3) Get a "professional amateur" - Craigslist is a great resource for all things - well all things period! You can always find a photography student or one who is starting out and needs to beef up their portfolio. Just make sure you check out their previous work, so there are no bad surprises on the big day.

4) Barter - As a bargainista, nothing gives me a greater rush than bartering. Offer whatever talent/service you have in exchange for beautiful images of your wedding day.

Whatever option you choose, try not to stress. This is meant to be a joyful event.

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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Getting Your Money Right

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Soon after couples announce their engagement, planning the wedding becomes one of the first financial obstacles that the couple has to overcome together. The best thing to do is to learn about typical trends when it comes to planning a wedding and what mistakes lead to the most financial failures among couples during this process.

Realistically, the best thing to do when planning for a wedding is to start small and as early as you can. Today’s world is full of couples that are getting engaged within the first year to year and a half of dating, which doesn’t leave much time to save before the planning starts for the big day. Here are my tips to help you spend less and be empowered financially:

  • - Keep a spreadsheet keeping track of all of your expenses, so you know what you are spending and where.

  • - Be sure to look at the big picture, what really matters to you both. Instead of wanting the best of everything, simple try to have the best of what you can afford and for what is important to you.

  • - Take advantage of the skills your family holds.

  • - Of course, everyone would love for their one of a kind special dress but buying a pre-owned dress is much cheaper and can still be your very own. Think about buying pre-owned then changing a few things on the dress to make it “customized and original.”

  • - There has been a common trend of starting a “wedding account” among financial advisers these days.  Even if you are not engaged, it's not early to start saving. If a person has even the slightest desire to get married some day, he can start saving before dating someone. I guess you could call it the “401-Wedding,” if you get what I mean.

Invest in your marriage, not in your wedding day. There is nothing more stressful for a couple than starting their marriage broke because they had a big lavish wedding day. If the decision is to have more flowers, the perfect venue or something else that is over the top, take the road less traveled and spend less. Having a little nest egg going into your marriage will make things a little easier and less stressful through the first few months.

Still need more info? Should you put everything on credit cards, or create a separate checking account specifically for wedding expenses to avoid overspending? Check out more tips on Credit Card Insider’s community page. Also, try the wedding budget calculator here.

Related articles:  “How Much Does a Wedding Cost?” and “I’m Engaged! Now What? - First Steps for Newly Engaged Couples.”

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Money-Saving Wedding Venue Tips - The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Savings

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You're engaged and checking around at the traditional venues in town.  You're most likely thinking, "Hmmm... can get a little expensive for a room." Sit back and give yourself a minute to think outside the box. There are many options available that might reflect your personal taste and style, cost less, and make a more memorable reception. 

Residential Communities

A lot of residential communities offer recreation/party rooms. In fact, I did a wedding reception in a apartment party room once in the Southwest Waterfront area of Washington, DC. The couple saved so much!  Let's start with their fee; it was just a few hundred dollars. The office included use of the attached kitchen, tables, and really beautiful chairs. To spruce it up a bit, I used white table cloths and went to the fabric store where I bought netting in three colors and used as overlays. I also used colored lights, made fat tulip bouquets for centerpieces, sprinkled contrasting colored petals around the rest of the table, and BAM! A few hundred dollars looked like thousands had been spent. It CAN be just that simple if the budget is really tight. 

Home Sweet Home

Also, consider a house/backyard reception - really! Don't rule out the option because you may be thinking it to be cheap or corny.  Even if not your own house, maybe a relative's or friend's whose backyard is spacious enough can be your wedding site. It does not have to be like in "Father of the Bride" (love the Steve Martin version). Think about it. What could be more personal and intimate? Dress it up by strategically placing floral designs, renting green plants, using simple, elegant dinnerware. These elements will truly transform the space when placed and coordinated just right.

Municipal and Community Treasures

Lastly, local fire house halls, VFW's, and similar type organizations often are available for rent - and are often diamonds in the rough. They can be easily transformed into beautiful settings. A lot of these venues have plenty of free parking for guests and often offer lower alcohol prices and extended hours. 

Faith-Based Buildings

If you are considering, perhaps, church halls, they now are not as strict as they once where. Some permit dancing and even a little wine and or bubbly. A word to the wise and something to consider: Be respectful as far as music at faith-based sites. While I love a little Trina and Two Chainz myself, church receptions won't be the right place for them; there are many acceptable alternate songs out there. (Smiling) Alcohol may be minimal - or nonexistent - here, but, WOW, your pockets would be a little heavier! (By the way, some of the best receptions I have done where ALCOHOL-FREE). Think creatively, think less is more, think it's your day, so it's all about creating something real that will last. 

Thinking outside the box can be challenging in finding your venue. However, it can create a meaningful, symbolic day no one will forget.

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Jeffrey Brown, JaiLynnEvents.com

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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings

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Season's Greetings, Friends!  

The 2013 holiday season is still going strong, and we're just days away from the New Year!  Many of us are enjoying lots of needed time with loved ones and are already taking way too much [insert your fave holiday cryptonitreat here] down the hatch.  Warm memories and cherished traditions invoke the nostalgia that magically comes this time of the year. One of my heartfelt memories took place this very holiday six years ago the love of my life popped THE question. The exuberation I experienced in that moment was nothing like ever before. Within weeks, I was in wedding planning mode!  If you're like me, I was reading any and everything wedding that I could get my hands on - eventually becoming overwhelmed. 

These sentiments led me to unpack the next series: "The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Savings." I wish I had had a resource like this series during the midst of planning my wedding. As our gift to you, your bargainista team at GetWedforLess.com will be collaborating with highly respected industry experts over the next few weeks on how to curb costs - without compromising quality - on each of the big wedding expenditures (venue, catering, dress, honeymoon, etc).

We hope you enjoy a very merry holiday season!  May it be a time of appreciation for what has been, what is, and what you hope the future to be. 

Happy celebrating!

Lauren & Your Bargainista Crew

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Fool-Proof Celebration Tips: Seasonal Entertaining for Less

Fool-Proof Celebration Tips: Seasonal Entertaining for Less

Let’s face it, life doesn’t get put on hold so that you can plan your wedding. In fact, impending nuptials seem to attract projects and responsibilities like a moth to a flame. You said “yes!” and the floodgates of celebrations opened. Whether it’s a “meet the parents” luncheon, a brunch for your bridesmaids or dinner with your soon-to-be in laws, suddenly your one special day has spread into ten. I’m Tamiera from TheLifeforLess.com, here to share a few fabulous fool-proof celebration tips, designed with you in mind. Even busy brides can host fabulously and live The Life for Less money, in less haste and with less stress.

Impress the In-Laws Dinner Party

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Now is not the time to throw caution to the wind and try out a new adventurous recipe. Stick to an easy to prepare, awe inducing classic that uses simple, high quality ingredients. We love something fabulous and deceptively easy like Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon.

  • Cool fall and winter months are notorious for being a time to pack on the lbs. Keep your eye on the wedding dress prize by skipping the usual high calorie side items and desserts. My yummy Warm Winter Salad and Skip the Pie Poached Pears are a delicious alternative.

For Salad

Squash_photo_credit_FoodNetwork.com

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

½ lb Brussel sprouts, halved

2 Anjou pears, cored and thin sliced

½ cup Pecans

2 oz. Gorgonzola Cheese

2 cups Arugula

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

For Vinaigrette

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

Zest and juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup cold pressed apple cider

Salt and pepper

Put the cubed butternut squash and halved Brussel sprouts on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat. Roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden and tender. Remove and set aside to cool.

Roast the pecans in a dry skillet on low heat until you can smell them. Combine all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl and whisk into submission. Toss the arugula and pears together with some vinaigrette and put into your serving bowl. Add your roasted veggies to the salad and top with pecans and crumbled gorgonzola. Serve vinaigrette on the side.

CALORIE SAVING TIPS

- Nix the olive oil in the dressing and allow the mustard to give you a thickened, creamy texture. Mustard has no sugar and 0 grams of fat.

- Keep cold pressed, organic apple cider on hand to use as a sweetener. It will replace honey, maple syrup and sugar in teas, vinaigrettes, marinades and smoothies. It can be reduced to replace honey in your glazes and sauces.

Remember to…

  • Style your table! Be purposeful about making your table or entertaining area beautiful and eye- appealing. Use simple flowers, uniform in variety and/or color to make an easy arrangement. Don’t be afraid to repurpose items from in and around the house to help. A bowl of apples or fallen pine cones make a lovely Autumnal centerpiece.

  • K.I.S.S the party (Keep It Simple Sweetie). Make dishes that don’t require you to be in the kitchen much once your guests arrive. Renting dishes, glasses and flatware (rental companies will typically pick up the dirty dishes after your event. Score!) Offering food family style, limiting drink options and incorporating quality pre-made appetizers or desserts is a great way to keep party pressure down.

Have fun! No one likes a burdened bride-to-be. Remember that your family and friends are celebrating you and your fiancée during this pre-wedding time. If you all are not enjoying yourselves, what is the point? Burned the ENTIRE meal? Oh well! Take it in stride and serve that take-out lo mein right on your grandma’s beautiful china.

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Top 10 Reasons Why NOT to Use GetWedforLess.com

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Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries on their wedding day - two-and-a-half months before the divorce. (Photo credit: Albert Michael, startraksphoto.com).

1) You'd rather spend a "cool" 6-figures on your dream wedding because spending a lot of extra money helps you "keep up with the Joneses" and "Kardashians." (Ummm... never mind)

2) You like the idea of spending hundreds of hours researching vendors on your own. 

3) You don't like knowing current pricing and offerings from vendors ahead of time. 

4) You'd rather let your wedding be a vendor's test subject.

5) Why go the easy route?  Stressing out seems fun. 

6) You still believe Uncle Sam won't be able to catch you when you write off your elaborate celebration.

7) You just have tons of free time. 

8) You'd rather search through 30+ pages of vendors on other websites without the info you really want or need.

9) You prefer vague, elusive content that's not easily accessible. 

10) You don't like awesomeness!

OK, friends, thanks for indulging us; of course, you wanna use GetWedforLess.com and spread the word!  Here's why:  About Us

Happy planning, & thanks for joining!

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Find us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, & YouTube 

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part V (4 Months)

4 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Note from the Editor:  It’s time for some more fun!!  In this entry, Jeff Brown of JaiLynn Events gives us the goods on the 4-month marker from your big day.  Discover his expert advice on cakes, rehearsal dinners, and the groom’s plus his men’s gear.

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Photo Credit: Lulu Custom Cake Boutique (Westchester County)

Choose and Order Your Cake!

  1. Taste, Taste Taste!

  2. Choose your icing wisely!  Fondants have come a long way, and many are quite tasty and pretty.  Traditional icings like butter cream are still classic and beautiful.  Nowadays, many great decorators can do the most smooth, clean designs using butter cream.

  3. If choosing cupcakes, think of how they will be displayed, who delivers them, the cost of delivery, who will set them up, and if carry-out boxes can be included for those who opt to take their cupcake home.

 

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Photo credit: Kristen Alexander Photography (Piedmont Room, Atlanta)

Plan the Rehearsal Dinner

  1. If budget is a concern, see if your venue offers a package meal.  You may consider a family-style restaurant for cost-effectiveness.

  2. Out of town guest should be invited but if finances are tight it’s not really considered rude to not invite them

  3. Consider a small limited menu  backyard barbeque hosted anywhere but where you will be staying if not at the hotel

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Photo Credit: Steve's Photo Session (Power Unit - AlLFA Design - Affordable Custom-Tailored Clothing)

Choosing Groom's & Groomsmen Attire

  1. Choosing from a large rental chain allows out-of-town groomsmen to get fitted in their hometown, and tuxes can be waiting upon arrival.

  2. When picking up, TRY ON EVERYTHING!  There's always a small size mix-up somewhere. Also, the tux is not usually in the store but close-by in a warehouse, so exchanges typically take a day.

  3. If due back the day after the wedding, designate one person to collect them, inventory each suit bag, and return them all at once.  With this designee's help, any cash deposits can be collected and returned at this time as well.

 

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Photo Credit: Style Me Pretty

Mail invitations!

Note from the Editor:  While it is an acceptable practice for invitations to be mailed 2 months before the wedding, I’d recommend getting them out sooner.  Yes, you may have already sent off the save-the-dates, but earlier notice of details is always best for out-of-town guests.   Make sure to include directionals, registry specs, and any other pertinent info!

Until next time... Happy planning!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part IV (6 Months)

6 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

We're halfway there in our Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series!  We hope you enjoy this entry of key to-do's at the 6-month point!

Send out Save-the-Dates!

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Photo credit: Project Wedding

 

Choose & Order Bridal Party Dresses

(Bridesmaids' dresses, flower girl dress, and look for accessories)

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Photo credit: Bride to Be (AU)

Realize that everyone is not always happy with your choice. They need to get over it, and realize the honor of being chosen! However, do your best to keep body shapes, height, and bridesmaids’ confidence in mind. A size 6, backless, off-the-shoulder may not look as good in a size 18, so consider slightly different designs, which most dressmakers will have.

Remember to get a swatch of dress colors for shoe shopping and vendors!

 

Book Honeymoon

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Catch a Falling Star Resort, Negril, Jamaica - Photo credit: GetWedforLess.com

Here are my honeymoon quick tips:

- Get travel and cancellation insurance.  (You NEVER know what may happen; it's better to be safe than sorry).

- Check for discounts via different airport departures.

- Confirm any immunizations or special documents needed if leaving the country.

- Book to leave for your honeymoon the day after the wedding or later - you’ll need the rest! 

- Check for all-inclusive couples resorts for great deals.

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part I (12 Months)

Note from the Editor:  This has got to be the most helpful blog series on wedding planning timelines!  Jeffrey Brown has broken everything down into bite-sized pieces - from the necessary post-engagement conversations through to culmination - the wedding day!  Because each segment of the timeline accompanies wonderful detail, Jeff will share the goods piece-by-piece over the next couple of weeks.  Today, he unveils the what would ideally be completed a year before the big day.  Enjoy, take notes, and pass it on!  Thanks for joining!  - Lauren

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Credit: The Peninsula, NY - Salon de Ning

In this Ultimate Wedding Timeline, I’m sharing what I walk through with my brides and grooms.  We’ll use the timeline with key milestones to get you to wedding day ready!

12 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Guest List Drafted

- Parents on both sides always have people they want present. Within reason, accept who can you - especially if they are contributing financially.  

Credit: Simply Bridal

 

Money Talks

- Talk all the money details over with your intended to make sure you’re on the same page (see “I’m Engaged! Now What?" blog).  Meet with both sets of parents and other contributing parties to confirm who is contributing what before the bills descend like the monkeys from the Wizard of Oz on Dorothy!

Credit:  The Wizard of Oz, Warner Bros., 1939

Venue(s)? CHECK! 

-  Get your venues booked! While on the hunt, keep in mind that venues set the tone, size, and cost. Be sure they can accommodate your guest count.

More on Venues:

 - Venues can affect your color scheme. I recommend choosing 3 colors, 2 primary, and an accent that go well with your sites.

 - Your wedding day timeline (and wedding vendor travel) can be affected depending on the distance between your two venues.  Make sure the distance is not too much for you and your guests and that it won't increase your fees to vendors later.

 - If your venue is not for lodging, check with the venue on nearby hotels to accommodate out-of-town guests.  You may want reserve a block of rooms.

- Parking, public transportation, handicap accessibility, and security are important considerations for your guest. Check with the venue or your wedding planner on these items to make sure proper accommodations are made.

Stay tuned for the 10-month prep to help you stay on-track with your wedding date!

 

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What's Our Story?

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There’s no such thing as a dumb question...

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How many of you have heard this before?  We all have classroom memories of that kid who’d say, “That was so DUMB!” usually after a well-meaning student asked his teacher a question.  Well, when it comes to planning - and paying for - your wedding, there are no dumb questions!  When conducting business with potential vendors, ASKING IS KEY! 

Today, Jeffrey Brown of JaiLynn Events is hooking our readers up with critical topics to hit before you book a wedding professional or venue! If you have already booked vendors, make sure you know their answers to relevant items on this list.

Jeffrey Brown:

“When shopping for vendors, ask questions - no matter how silly they may seem.

    • - Get everything in writing - EVERYTHING!
    • - Know cancellation and postponement policies.
    • - What are the fees if changes are made after the initial contract is drawn?
    • - What are delivery and set-up charges (if applicable)?
    • - Know guidelines for returning rental items.
    • - Get primary contacts from each vendor, and try to always use those people.
    • - Discuss alternate ideas and less expensive alternatives (if possible).
    • - Confirm deposit amounts, payment options, and the date final payment is due."

Posing these questions will help you avoid potential hiccups and lead you to some very practical, educated decisions, so ask, ask, ask! 

Until next time... Happy planning!

P.S. Thanks, Jeff!  

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How Much Does a Wedding Cost?

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The love of my life and I got married just outside of Atlanta, GA where the average couple shells out anywhere between $21,956 and $36,593 for a wedding (from The Wedding Report).  Paying the equivalent of a house down-payment was not on our agenda!  The total for our wedding (including our bling, a buffet-catered reception, a beautiful festival center venue, ceremony site, gifts, and all other associated costs) ran us just around $7,500.

According to The Wedding Report, the average US couple spends $26,000 for their wedding - sans honeymoon!  This nationwide average doesn’t take into account larger expenditures spent on wedding fêtes thrown by relatives of the bride or groom with much deeper pockets.  However, (this should set you free) knowing how much people spend on a wedding and knowing how much a wedding costs are two very different things.  Your dream day does not have to cost anywhere near that amount - even if you’re in the middle of a major city.  

The final tally of your wedding will depend on three key factors:

  1. Resources you have at your disposal
    • Work from first the standpoint of what you have available.  Such resources may include personal finances, highly reliable vendor connections, dependable friends who’ll contribute their time + talents, other-contributed funding, and online resources.
    • Cost-effective wedding websites can help greatly.  For instance, GetWedforLess.com allows brides and grooms to find top-rated vendors with the most competitive prices - saving time, money, and some stress.  The Budget Savvy Bride is a great resource with tons of inspiration.
  2. How flexible you are with your expectations and budget
    • Regarding flexibility on expectations:  
      • This is where making a list your negotiables and non-negotiables is crucial.   Are you flexible on the type of reception and vendors? Will the reception be “dry” or with alcohol?  In a decorated hall vs. pricey grandiose venue?  Will you have a simple cake or one decked out in sugar art?  Are you willing to order centerpieces, flowers, and other supplies online or in bulk?  Do you need a high-end cinematographer or can anyone with the skill to record and deliver raw footage suffice?
    • Regarding budget flexibility:  
      • There’s usually a difference between what couples have available to spend and how much of it they’re willing to part with.  Will you be willing to shift money budgeted for the reception in order to buy that dress you tried and instantly knew was “the one?”
  3. Your ability to say, “No”
    • Wedding costs have a way of getting out of hand when we have the “need to please” syndrome.  Unless one is a bridezilla, the last thing we want to do is offend people who are trying to help.  When suggestions are made that will inevitably increase costs, reply with a cordial, “If we had the money to spend on that, we’d consider it.  However, we don’t.”  Be OK with leaving it at that.

Lastly, here's a nifty tool we found online that allows your to customize your expected expenses:  Wedding Cost Estimator.  Try it out!

Until next time...

Happy Planning!

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I'm Engaged! Now What? - First Steps for Newly Engaged Couples

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CONGRATULATIONS!

As a wedding planner for some thirteen years, I'd recommend the first thing you and your fiancee do is determine is the type and size of the ceremony and reception you both desire and can afford.  A big mistake I see is assuming that the groom has no ideas.  Often the groom's input is not expected - or accepted.  Times have changed - more grooms are taking an active role in wedding planning.

Set a time to sit down and discuss these key preliminary items:

  1. The Timing:  How long of an engagement will you have?  When do you want to get married?
  2. The Budget:  What can you realistically afford -- without going into debt?  Note from the Editor:  Check back next week for step-by-step budget creation!
  3. The Tab:  Who is actually going to pay for what?  It's no longer considered to be the parents of the bride's sole responsibility; although, they do often contribute along with the groom's family.
  4. The List:  Who is really important to you that you must have as a part of your day?  Make a physical list of names. 
  5. The Must-Haves:  What are must-haves for your wedding day?  Are there specific flowers?  Perhaps a certain type of limousine?  Remember:  This day is all about you two!

After the financial aspect is agreed upon and your budget is set, it's time to meet with a wedding planner.  Of course, you can do much of the task on your own; however, most wedding planners often have connections for discounts on venues and many other vendors and can assure you of quality products and services.  Even more, keeping you as stress-free as possible is a top priority!  Honestly, while a wedding seems simple and easy to plan the details, coordination of vendors & TIMING is everything.

Keep in mind your "perfect day" is about your declaration of love and your expressions in front of those honored loved ones you desire to share the day with!

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