Saturday, March 31, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips for Honeymoon Planning

In order for you to have the perfect honeymoon you have always dreamed of requires homework and research. It is a bit out of date to create the honeymoon as a surprise, the perfect honeymoon these days is a honeymoon that is planned by the both of you. Look for a honeymoon that provides many amenities. Look for discounts, gift baskets, fruit baskets, champagne, chocolate treats, room upgrades, and a free day tour of your honeymoon location.

Before you go on your honeymoon, there are many things you need to do, like learn the culture of where you are going, learn a few words of the language, get medical shots that are needed, get your passport and VISA far in advance. Keep all your things in a folder and keep all that you need close by. Don't draw attention to yourselves, don't wear fancy jewelry and fancy clothing in public. Keep some extras clothes in each other's luggage just in case a luggage piece misses the plane. For most destinations you don't have to worry much, there are currency exchange ATMs in most honeymoon spots. Here are some tips to help save you money in your honeymoon planning.

Tip 1 - Use a Travel Agency that Specializes in Your Type of Honeymoon 
Before you begin your honeymoon search, don't talk to each other about your perfect honeymoon just yet. The bride and groom should go through a honeymoon exercise. Each one of you should write down on a piece of paper the types of honeymoons you each would enjoy. Don't give a hint to the other before writing your choices down. You want no undue influences to drive a decision.

Your Honeymoon Choices (Write Down 3)
1) A Tropical Island Beach Resort
2) A Luxurious Resort Hotel
3) A Romantic International Sightseeing City Adventure
4) A U.S.A. Vacation (Las Vegas/Disney World/New York City/City Hopping/U.S.A. Shore Vacation)
5) A Luxurious Cruise
6) A Rugged Retreat (Ranch Cabin/Hike in the Mountains/Water Sports)
7) Stay Local and Veg Out (No Phone Calls/No Computer/No Answering the Door/No Television)

After each of you writes down your 3 dream honeymoon choices, see if any of the choices is one that you have in common. Now you can talk to each other about your choices. If there are no choices that you agree on, the decision on the honeymoon should be made by the bride, sorry guy's a tie goes to the honeymoon choice made by the bride. After deciding, you want to search for the travel agent that is expert in the type of honeymoon you are looking for. Some travel agencies are more geared to a trip to Europe or Asia, others are geared to the Caribbean or South America, others are geared to U.S. cities, and others are geared to cruise lines. The travel agencies tend to get bargains in the area of expertise and have expert knowledge in those locations, so it's best to find an agency that specializes in the type of honeymoon you are seeking.

Tip 2 - Find a Certified Agent that has Special Relationships
Not all travel agents are the same, tend to look for a certified travel agent. Certified travel agents have elevated their travel expertise to a bonafide professional level. Yes mannerisms and personality traits are important too, you might get lucky and find a good agent that is not certified but using a certified agent often brings you a great honeymoon and great cost savings. A certified agent should have a license that shows they are certified. They have gone through a rigorous program which is time consuming which includes taking many courses and traveling to all the resorts they advertise. Very often, the certified travel agent has made many connections, they personally know many important people in the travel world, they are able to provide discounts to many of the travel vendors at a honeymoon destination. The certified agent has been to the location, they can tell you about anything first hand about the location, get you discounts for automobile rental, get coupons for restaurants they recommend, tell you first hand where to go, tell you what taxis to take and ones not to take. The certified travel agent can answer any questions you have about the location and in many ways can save you money.

Tip 3 - Avoid Major Resorts that Charge a Premium for Being Well Known  
There are many resorts that are great, but they cost you a pretty penny because they include advertising dollars in their charges. You can get a better deal to going to honeymoon destinations that are a little less known. Through the magic of the internet you can check out resorts using Google Earth, Google Maps, and the Lonely Planet. The places that advertise will tend to have high prices. Years ago, it was safer to go to well known wedding destinations. Today, you can investigate almost anywhere to go for your honeymoon, stay away from places that are well known and look for great places away from the beaten path.

Tip 4 - Travel to Resorts that are Closer to Reduce Traveling Costs
There will be times in your life when you have money to spend and there are times when you have to watch your budget. When the budget is tight look for resorts that are nearer to your location. Remember that the honeymoon period should be a time when you need to be more focused on each other and instead of finding an exotic honeymoon spot that's far away, you can do just as well as finding a honeymoon location that does not require expensive traveling costs. If you live in the good old U.S.A. consider going on your honeymoon to a Caribbean resort, a Mexican resort, a bed & breakfast in an American city, an American shore house, or a cabin in the mountains. Just remember to travel not so far for your honeymoon, and you will be surprised on the savings you will get by not spending so much money on energy costs.

Tip 5 - Travel to Resorts During Their Off-Peak Season
You can save yourself a lot of money by traveling to destinations during their non-peak season. Many resorts will show their daily rates and you can save money by going to resorts when their prices are down. Many resorts also charge different amounts depending on the day of the week. Some hotels are fully booked during the week and have a lot of vacancies on weekends so they bring their prices down. Sometimes hotels will show their prices for the upcoming months and you can analyze what dates you can get better deals and what dates will be more expensive. Avoid the peak season of resorts, very often the peak season of many resorts will start at Easter, with May and June being the wedding season and July and August will be the summer season when school is out, another peak season happens at Christmas and New Years. During peak season, air flights are more expensive, hotels are more expensive, and many wedding vendors will also charge higher prices. If you have your wedding and honeymoon during the busy season, expect to get a quadruple whammy, higher prices for travel, hotel, wedding venue, and wedding vendors.

Tip 6 - Use Travel Websites to Get the Best Deal
There are literally hundreds of websites you can hunt for deals for travel, hotels, rental cars, cruise lines, and restaurants. The top websites to look for deals use to be orbitz, travelocity, expedia, priceline, hotel, and many others. Wedding couples could check out many travel websites looking for the best deal. A couple of years ago, everything changed. A website called bought out a company called Sidestep and what Kayak can do is you put in a destination location and a specific date and kayak will go searching the hundreds of websites to give you the best deal from all the websites. You can then book a deal if it's satisfactory. It's not a major effort anymore to book a great deal.

Now on to a little secret, first you can search kayak then you can get an idea of cost on a location or an airline. You tell the business you got a tentative deal, you then can ask them if they can get you a better deal. If it's a hotel, the hotel keeps better room locations at their front desk. You can get a room with a more terrific view or near the pool if you use the front desk, if you book through a travel website you might get a poor location at that hotel such as by a vending or ice machine. You might even get an upgrade, tell the resort hotel you are on your honeymoon. If you don't get a better deal just go back and book using kayak. The chances are you will get a better room and more attention by the hotel staff booking through the front desk of the hotel and negotiating a good deal.

Tip 7 - Find Me Your Best Deal at the Lowest Price within My Budget
Basically there are two type of travel agents, the ones that take your basic information and your budget and book you with the first thing they see with your criteria. The other type of agent will shop around looking to find you the best deal at the lowest price working with your budget. Find an agent that keeps hunting around to find you the best honeymoon deal. You want a customer service focused agent. Many travel agents are more focused on their job as a numbers game, spend the least amount of time devoted to a client and then move on to another client. The great travel agent asks you many questions, finds out what you are looking for in a honeymoon destination. finds you a great honeymoon location, searches more to see if they can top the original location, is there to answer any questions you may have, finds a lot about the resort, and finds great deals for you, leaves you with all sorts of information about the honeymoon location. A great service agent keeps you informed of problems, such as civil unrest, or an impending strike with taxes in the area or helps re-book another honeymoon spot because of an impending hurricane. When you are finding a travel agent, find the one that goes the extra mile for you.

Tip 8 - Honeymoon Hunt Using Google Maps and Google Earth
Google Maps and Google Earth have become powerful resources and is a great way to plan your honeymoon. The wedding couple of today has many different resources to help them find a place to honeymoon. The couples of today have telephones, IPhones, IPads, IPods, Androids, Blackberrys, laptops, and desktop computers. On most of these devices there is Google Maps and Google Earth. Couples can pull up many destination wedding locations and can check the area out, what is the atmosphere of the hotel, how far is it to different places, what's the beach look like near by and gets views like they are really there. You can now get topography on how things look and by using the websites the hotels in the area you get views of some of the rooms and you also may get coupon discounts from restaurants and spas. By using both the hotel website and google maps you can get an idea of the view from different rooms and know how areas like the pool look like. Google Maps and Google Earth even give you directions on places you might visit.

Now for a little trick for finding a great deal at a hotel. Many hotels in a honeymoon area, advertise in travel websites. Some hotels do not advertise in travel websites and those that do not tend to have cheaper prices for their rooms in the hotel. Google Earth and Google Maps show all the hotels in the area both the ones that show up in travel websites and the ones that do not show up in these websites. You find the ones that don't advertise, you call them and often you can find good deals with them.

Tip 9 - Investigate what a Timeshare May Offer for Your Honeymoon 
You might consider a timeshare location for your honeymoon. Timeshares tend to be cheaper than many hotels offering you with great savings. Once you do all the paperwork with a timeshare and make your initial investment in a timeshare property all that is left is to enjoy the property and you just have to make payments on how your contract is set up. You generally make an arrangement to have the timeshare property in a wonderful spot once a year. Every year maybe on your anniversary you have a vacation spot, in future years bring family, your friends, your co-workers and future kids.

You also have options available with timeshares. You can trade your timeshare for another convenient date with someone else. You can swap your time share with others, you can travel to other destination spots, just make sure your timeshare location is in a high demand location so you get a really nice location you can swap vacation spots with. Be careful of timeshare companies, they may push you into looking at a timeshare at a high price and reduce the price making it look like you are getting a great deal when in fact it's not. Take your time looking at time shares and study the situation. Great timeshare properties get taken very fast so keep checking for good deals.

You also may find great deals for timeshare properties to rent from others. A good way to find cheap timeshares is from online auctions such as ones found on EBay. Often you may purchase your timeshare from individuals from online resources which may save you a lot of money.

Some Good Websites that feature Timeshare Rentals

Tip 10 - Take Advantage of Resorts That Offer All Inclusive Deals
When planning your honeymoon look for resorts that offer honeymoon packages. Many resorts provide you with bundling of services. The bundling of services might include many amenities. For one price you may cover all your accommodation, cover all your meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner, cover night clubs and a couple of drinks, cover night entertainment, cover golf and tennis, cover a round of tropical drinks at the pool or beach, cover spa services such as a massage and include the sauna, and local attractions. Many caribbean resorts include all inclusive deals, such as resorts in Jamaica, Bahamas, Antigua, and St. Lucia. The primary resort that offers inclusive deals is a company called Sandals. Other places that offer inclusive deals includes Las Vegas, Disney, and some of the cruise lines. Great inclusive deals can also be found at resorts in Mexico, Colombia, and Canada.

It is highly recommended to use a travel agent for your honeymoon, to minimize the chances of things going wrong on your honeymoon, if something comes up you have an agent that can help you. In this day and age you can create a perfect honeymoon yourself if you learn about booking honeymoons. The honeymoon needs to be perfect, to get your marriage off to the right start!

See you on the other side!

Monday, March 26, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips For Wedding Catering

One of the most important things for a wedding is having good food. The food mind set you should have for this most special occasion, you should have food that you normally don't have every day. For your wedding, you should be looking for a caterer that is known for their menu. You goal is to find a caterer that can make an extraordinary meal that you can afford for a very special day. Make sure you check out a number of caterers before deciding on which one to go with. Attached are some tips on cost savings for catering your wedding..

Tip 1 - Trim Down on Your Wedding Guest List
Most brides dream of inviting everybody they know to their wedding. For most brides, this is an impossibility, the key is to prioritize all your wedding guests. First write down all the people that the bride and groom know, put down anybody and everybody. First the bride's side, the bride's family including sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Next include the bride's friends, then the bride's work and clubs. Next write down the groom's side, include family, friends, groom's work and clubs. You then put a mark by all people, people that must be invited to the wedding, people you would like to invite, then people that it would be better not to invite such as ex'es and people that may get out of hand such as friends that can't handle liquor or create gossip.

Put all people in your wedding list in order, the definites on top, then rank order the maybes, then choose people one by one, go bride's choice, groom's choice, bride's choice etc. until all the maybes are slotted. Keep that list until you meet with a caterer you have decided on. First take your catering budget, then divide the catering budget by the per person catering costs, this should give you the amount of people you can invite. Say you have 200 people on your list, 75 are definite, after you go through your calculations you determine you can invite 150 wedding guests. Numbers 151 and higher are on hold. If say 10 people from some of your invites you find can't attend you can add some more people, numbers 151 through 160.

Review your choices with the bride's parents, groom's parents, and important members of the bridal party. If the wedding couple should decide to go higher on the list make sure money can be found to fit the bill. Don't feel pressure or feel guilty, people not invited may feel hurt at first and after a couple of days will understand and will get over not being invited. It always seems to work out. If you really want some people on your list to be coming to your wedding, see if you can move budget money from another category, or see if you can come up with some more money or you can go go back to your caterer and have a less expensive entree that will allow your guest list to be increased.

Tip 2 - Serve Buffet Style Instead of Sit Down
If you can, the preference for weddings is sit down receptions with assigned seats. But if you must, you can save some money having your wedding served buffet style. Chefs don't have to put extraordinary efforts to make each dish delectable, and there will be need for less wait staff servicing plates of food to each place setting. There are two styles of buffet to choose from. A buffet table can be set up with all the food with both chafing dishes and serving dishes and plates upon it. A line of your wedding guests can help themselves to the buffet table. You should consider one buffet table per every 50-60 people, you don't want long lines of people serving themselves or it will become a bad mark for your event.

The other buffet possibility is for each buffet table to be a food station. One table may be meat, another vegetable, another a salad bar, another a dessert bar, and maybe another with specialty foods like crepes, woks, or pizza. Don't forget the drinks and the wedding cake. You need a second food station for about every 150 people. For buffet style weddings, make sure you have wait staff to refill, occasionally mix the food and inform the chef when the food level is getting low and keep the buffet area clean from spillage of food.

Even with buffet style food at your wedding, make sure there is assigned seating. The assigned seating helps keep order, friends may take seats close to the bridal party and family may have to seat far away. The assigned seating creates the proper pecking order for the wedding. The assigned seating also helps to avoid people conflicts by seating people apart that don't get along.

Tip 3 - Order Less Expensive Entrees, Appetizers, and Hors d'oeuvres
Wedding couples for their special event, often go for some of the most expensive items on the menu, but often find they need to cut expenses. A way to cut expenses is to go for less expensive food items. Most great chefs you can count on them having any food that is on their menu will be delicious. The less expensive items are just as good as the more expensive items. The key in choosing good foods for your wedding is offering good food that your wedding guests don't normally see at home. A vegetable lasagna will probably taste as good as a beef wellington. The key is having three entrees that are all different providing wedding guests choices for their taste buds. Another trick in serving food at weddings is to offer a lot of appetizers and hors d'oeuvres at a cocktail hour and your wedding guests will feel a little full by the time the entrees are served. Then less of an entree can be served and a starch, salads, fruit cups, soups, dinner rolls, etc. can be bypassed. If you have a lot of finger food at your cocktail hour, you can get away with just an entree and vegetable and then wedding cake and coffee.

Tip 4 - Find a Caterer That Has Their Own Supplies
Some caterers have more to offer than others. Some caterers also have supplies. Some caterers can provide all sorts of dishes, flatware, glasses, tables, chairs, serving dishes, linens, wait staff, and a lot of things for your wedding reception. Some caterers even can help decorate your wedding reception, bake wedding cakes or provide all types of desserts. When you interview a caterer, ask what else they can offer for your wedding. What they can offer can save you a lot in wedding costs. Some of what they can offer might be thrown in as a bonus for choosing them.

Tip 5 - Cut Down on Alcohol Costs
There are many ways wedding couples can cut down on alcohol costs. Your wedding guests expect to be served alcohol at weddings, it's a time honored tradition. If you have a non-alcoholic wedding, you better be sure you have no drinkers, most wedding guests expect alcohol and not have to pay for it. Your choices, have an open bar for the first hour only, provide two tickets for each wedding guest for the bar, serve wine and beer only, shut down the bar during the dinner hour, or create 3 signature drinks. Signature drinks have become popular in recent years. Start off with your color scheme. Check in with your drinkers on which alcoholic drinks that match with your color. Offer just those signature drinks with the alcohol that is needed may it be rum, vodka, and tequila. Serve beer, wine, and your signature drinks. Name your 3 signature drinks  after wedding lingo or special people at your wedding.

Tip 6 - Serve Simple Meals for Children, Teenagers, and Wedding Vendors
Many children and teenagers have not developed their taste buds for sophisticated meals. Very often if you serve a fancy meal to a young person, not much of the meal will be eaten. The young people would rather have their old stand by favorites. Young people love chicken tenders, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and french fries. For the kids at your wedding, ask the caterer if he/she can serve a kids food at a lot less expense. If the kids aren't too young have a kid's and a teenager's table away from the main reception area. As for wedding vendors that aren't seating with wedding guests consider a cheaper meal such as a sandwich. If the caterer won't cooperate, you can have someone make a sandwich or simple meal to bring in for your wedding vendors. Give the wedding vendors an allowance of two drinks.

Tip 7 - Attend a Taste Testing Before You Book A Caterer
A good caterer may not always have available food samples. But a great wedding caterer will schedule you to stop in for a taste testing, it's part of their routine. This will get you comfortable with your entree choices and many will even show you food presentation on the plate. If there are unique appetizers or hors d'oeuvres they might provide this too. The food tasting is usually accompanied by a pricing list. You might make a fun event by inviting along family members or your closest friends. Seek their opinion on choices too. Usually at taste testings, often the event is free for the bride and groom and the charge for any bring alongs might be a nominal charge of about $5. For many it may be the best value for a meal you are ever going to get and the occasion is helpful for the bride and groom to choose a meal they are going to be very comfortable with for their wedding.

Tip 8 - Inform the Caterer With Your Per Person Costs and Let the Caterer Decide
Most great caterers have a wide assortment of foods they can offer your wedding guests, they know how to make any meal great. You can inform them of your budget and headcount and leave the meal to them. Sometimes you can get a really outstanding meal with this approach, they can get foods that are in season, maybe they can get gigantic scallops, prawns or in season seafood. They can get the freshest vegetables or this might give them an opportunity to try a new recipe out. Don't worry, they will test the recipe out on themselves first, the key is having a reputable chef noted for their menu. Just make sure you check in with them, to inform wedding guests of the choices they want and again the week before your wedding to be sure everything is fine with the caterer. Also book the caterer far in advance, the great caterers tend to get booked early, so you need to get to them before they get booked by other wedding couples.

Tip 9 - Bring your Own Bartenders, Buy Your Own Booze
If the venue lets you, bring your own bartenders and buy your own booze. You want to find a bartender that is very experienced at weddings. A bartender just out of bartending school won't suffice, a wedding requires a very good bartender who has experience setting up a bar for a wedding, one who knows how to properly make most drinks without looking it up or asking. You might ask around for a good bartender from area hotels, golf clubs, banquet halls, upscale restaurants, and large bars or nightclubs. Don't ask for a bartender from your wedding venue. You can save a lot from not using the venues bartender, they add a lot of overhead costs for insurance and overhead costs. Bring your own bartender and often you may pay half the costs the venue might charge.

You can also save a lot of money from buying the booze yourself. You can get the booze much cheaper by buying alcohol from a local liquor store. Again some wedding venues might not allow you to bring liquor but if you can bring your own you can save yourself a lot of money. Check with the liquor stores, to see if they can buy back liquor that is not opened, and check with the venue to be sure there is no corkage fee if you use their own bartenders, a corkage fee is a charge for every bottle opened. Check with your bartenders on which liquor to have for your wedding. The following are some general guidelines for ordering liquor for your wedding.

What to Order per 100 Wedding Guests
Beer                         5 to 6 Cases
Whiskey                   1 Liter
Bourbon                   1 Liter
Gin                           2 to 3 Liters
Scotch                      2 Liters
Light Rum                 1 Liter
Vodka                      5 Liters
Tequila                      1 Liter
Champagne               1 to 1 1/2 Cases
Red Wine                  2 Cases
White Wine               3 1/2 Cases
Dry Vermouth           1 Bottle
Sweet Vermouth       1 Bottle

Tip 10 - Have a Pot Luck Wedding Instead of a Caterer
If you are very poor and you don't have much money for a wedding you might consider a pot luck catered wedding. I have been to a pot luck catered wedding and the wedding and wedding reception turned out great. A pot luck catered wedding requires a lot of coordination to pull it off but can bring substantial cost savings. A pot luck catered wedding has all your closest family and friends bring their specialty, the wedding couple supplies the main meat for the grill or serve something like barbecued meatballs, baste the meatballs in boiling jelly and chili sauce. The wedding couple also provides the drinks, maybe a keg of beer and sodas and a little champagne. Recruit some family members or recruit some volunteers from a local church hall or women's auxiliary group to help serve the food and cleanup. Check off with what people are bringing so you don't get duplicates such as multiple baked beans. Food storage may be an issue. Unless you have a large commercial kitchen and walk-in refrigerator you may run into space issues. Maybe store and heat up food in some neighbors homes. Break out responsibilities into 5 components, timelines, planning, space, servicing, and cleaning. Try to use nicer plastic dishes and silverware over cheap paper plates and cheap breakable utensils and don't forget garbage bags.

The food is often the costliest part of the wedding and it's very important to offer good food, food a lay person would normally not be served at home works best for weddings, the meal should be memorable. Look for savings from your caterer.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips For A Wedding Reception Site

Your main consideration for finding a wedding reception site is finding a facility that is just perfect for the amount of wedding guests you are having. A perfect size makes for a perfect wedding party. Get a place too small and your wedding guests will leave too early, your guests don't have much elbow space, bump into each other, and can't have much conversation. Get a place that is too large, the wedding couple pays to the kazoo and the event feels like it's missing something, it just doesn't have the feel that a wedding should have. Make sure the venue is packed comfortably with places right for all the seats and tables, right for all the wedding vendors, right for the dance floors, and right for all the buffet tables, serving tables, wedding tables, and gift tables. Also make sure the traffic flow of people is efficient too.

Another little trick when planning an event at a wedding reception site and trying to save some money at a wedding reception site is to break the reception into 4 categories. The 4 categories are reception site, food, entertainment, and decorations. Next rank order the 4 categories, which categories are more important to the wedding couple. The two highest categories put more of a focus on and the other categories look for cost savings. Here are some other tips for cost savings on reception facilities.

Tip 1 - Consider Having Your Wedding Reception in a Wedding Tent
Outdoor weddings have become very popular in recent years and the secret to their success has been the availability of beautiful wedding tents. The good wedding tent has a high canopy and is beautifully decorated to a color scheme and looks like a magical place. The tables are decorated with colorful linens, it might be lit by color schemed flood lights, lanterns or clear or colored Christmas lights. Poles may be decorated with pretty garland and fancy colored fabrics may droop from the ceiling. The key is finding a beautiful spot to pitch your tent that has little costs and plenty of parking. Lease your tent by comparison shopping at rental service companies, party stores, and wedding tent companies. Find a company that has been in business at least 5 years and is reputable. Find good volunteers and wait staff to handle decorating and the food. For entertainment, if the budget is good, hire wedding musicians and if it is tight hire a disc jockey. Just a quick note, a good website for wedding tent needs is

Tip 2 - Have Your Wedding Reception In An Off Peak Period
Prime time for weddings is May through June on a Saturday night or the week around New Years. If you can stay away from this period you can see substantial savings. In the off peak season, you can see substantial savings from many of your wedding vendors from 20-40% in many cases. In the off season, your venues are less, your wedding outfits are less, your flowers are less, some wedding vendors may be less, and your wedding favors may be less. You can see a substantial savings. You can see a 15-30% savings if you have your wedding on another day but Saturday. Friday and Sunday nights you might see some savings, week day nights you see significant savings, and wedding on week days you see substantial savings, you just have to be careful, some of your wedding guests might not attend because they can't get off from work. If you have your wedding earlier in the day on Saturday you can expect a 30-60% savings. How about having an early morning wedding and a wedding brunch instead. You also may consider having an early afternoon wedding reception that is a lot less costly than the evening, make sure the reception is over by 5:00 p.m.

Tip 3 - Consider the Services of a Culinary School or Women's Auxiliary
Consider the services of a culinary school or women's auxiliary group. Add to that list, your area fire department's banquet hall, Knights of Columbus, Shriner's groups, Elk's club, senior citizens complexes, or church hall. These groups might be able to help you in three different ways. First, they might have their own venue you can use. Second, they might know of other venues you can use. Third, they might be able to provide you with wait staff or other assistants for setup, decorating, or cleaning up. Another option, the Chamber of Commerce can provide information of places in the area you might consider for your wedding reception.

Tip 4 - Find a Facility that has Built In or Provided Decorations
When you meet with a wedding reception facility, don't forget the decoration and extra wedding vendor aspect. A wedding reception place that has built in bits and pieces of wedding decorations will save you a lot of money in decoration costs. If the venue has beauty built in and this might save you a lot in decorating costs. Take into consideration out of the ordinary tables and chairs, beautiful visions in the walls, luxurious carpeting, cathedral ceilings, beautiful flowers all about, beautiful architecture in the trim, and beautiful landscaping. The venue might offer varied colored linens to decorate or part of their contract includes desirable vendors such as florists, decorators, and chefs that make wedding cakes included in the contract. You won't need to spend much for decorating saving you some money.

Tip 5 - Bring Your Own, Just As Good, Less Expensive Wine
Many wedding reception places have their own wine cellar and really jack up the price of their wine. The companies that stock these businesses with wine have agreements. Some of the monies made from selling the wine gets split between the reception place and the business offering the wine. It looks like the wedding couple is getting expensive wine. The fact is the wine just looks like it's expensive. If the wedding reception place allows it (many companies won't allow you to bring your own wine). You can buy wine at your local liquor store or winery and buy wine yourself for your wedding, (make sure you do a taste test to be sure you have chosen good wine) you can save yourself a lot of money. Make sure you buy both red and white wine for a wedding and you have red and white wine glasses. Make sure you understand if there are any corkage fees and see if you can arrange to return unopened bottles and consider leaving wine favors for extra unopened bottles with any wine drinkers.

Tip 6 - Choose a Less Expensive Wedding Reception Facility
There are many less expensive wedding facilities all around you, you just have to look and ask around. Spend a month or two in search of good wedding reception facilities, especially if you have a tight budget. Check out wedding reception facilities in restaurants, bars, sports facilities such as golf clubs, country clubs, yacht clubs, senior citizen's complexes, Elks clubs, firemen's halls, church halls, multipurpose rooms, historical buildings, empty office spaces in towers, the choices are many. You may even check in with the Chamber of Commerce and see if they have a list and don't forget wedding directories and look in search engines using the internet. Some of these places can provide you with a wait staff. Pick a final four to interview, and make a final decision.

Tip 7 - Have Your Wedding Reception in a Beautiful Home 
Many couples might have not thought about this one. Maybe you, a relative, a friend lives in an elegant estate or mansion. It's on a beautiful property or there is plenty of room in the neighborhood for parking or maybe hire a valet so cars can be parked in a parking lot or down the street. Let the neighborhood know there is going to be a wedding reception, invite them for entertainment. The place needs a big kitchen, and many of the rooms such as living rooms, family rooms, besides the dining room needs to be converted into a wedding reception room. Decorate the reception areas such as you would a wedding reception place. Strategically place flowers, plants, and family photos around the place. Consider allowing artists to hang oil paintings and allow a few sculptures. Bring in a string quartet for a little music entertainment. If there is a pool, have a dance floor placed over it, set up a music player or hire a disc jockey. A wedding in someone's home can be as glamorous as you may find at other elegant reception sites.

Tip 8 - Avoid Reception Facilities that Charge Catering or Referral Fees
When you are interviewing reception facilities, you should have many questions for them, you should have a list of questions for them on a sheet of paper. You can write their responses next to the question. They might even give you a brochure. You should understand every single thing that will be on the contract. What services are included and what services are excluded. All costs should be identified. Are some fees passed on to the wedding couple or caterer to cover overhead and operating costs such as insurance, advertising, administrative staff, vehicle maintenance, fuel surcharges and costs, cocktail napkins, dishes and glasses and various sundries. Interviews with a wedding reception venue takes a lot of time and discussion. Arrange for a walk-through along with your interview and take pictures. Consider going with the venue that has less overhead charges or referral fees that you have to pay for.

Tip 9 - Find Experienced Wait Staff 
The help you have for the wedding is very important. The wait staff leaves an impression of what wedding guests have of the bride if wedding guests don't know the bride very well. If the wait staff is good, your wedding guests will be left with a high impression of the bride. If the wait staff is poor, the first impressions of the bride may not be very good. For wait staff for a wedding, if you bring many of your own often there is a lot less expense. If the venue brings in more of the people they will charge you higher prices. If you find your own people, you pay out of your pocket and the expense tends to be less. Find wait staff that has worked many big time events. Don't hire wait staff from small restaurants, diners, or eateries they usually don't have the experience for a big event such as a wedding. Find wait staff from 4 and 5 star hotels, upscale restaurants and bars, exclusive golf clubs and country clubs that offer weddings. When you go out to dinner talk to waitresses about their experience and tell them you need someone for your wedding. A good waitress knows good quick conversation, is organized with a good memory, is courteous to guests, always stays under controlled never gets flustered, intercedes if a problem arises such as a wrong meal or cold meal, sets and clears tables when appropriate, takes care of wedding guest needs and dresses to the occasion.

Tip 10 - Choose a Wedding Reception Facility That Offers Low Cost Parking 
When you are searching for a Wedding Reception site, you can save yourself a lot of money if you can find a facility that offers low cost parking. At a wedding, a wedding couple is expected to handle all fees associated with parking or valet service. If you have a big wedding, this expense can be enormous and these vendors are also expecting gratuities. Try to find venues that have free parking in their parking lot and a lot of money can be saved if there are no valets. Some upscale hotels, resorts, upscale banquet halls and restaurants have valets  and may cost a wedding couple a lot of money. When searching for a wedding reception location consider the parking and valet cost. It might be a better deal to park down the street and use a party bus or use a shuttle, evaluate the parking situation before booking a deal.

So these are cost saving tips you can use for finding that perfect wedding reception facility, even if your parents or someone else is paying for the wedding, do your part in cutting down costs and saving money.

See you on the other side

Saturday, March 17, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips For Wedding Ceremony Sites

Over the last two decades there has been about a ten fold increase in weddings at ceremony sites that is not a church, chapel. or temple. Part of the reason for this happening is that many couples grew up in different religion affiliations or aren't very religious. Today, many venue settings have become a beautiful and memorial spot in which to have a wedding. The important thing in finding a ceremony site to get married at is that the venue comfortably fits the amount of wedding guests you are having. You don't want a ceremony site that is too small, your guests won't have a good time if there is overcrowding. If the venue is too big, the empty spaces takes away the atmosphere expected at a wedding and the wedding couple tends to overpay for use for the ceremony site. The following are some tips for cost savings at a ceremony site.

Tip 1 - Consider a Sunrise or Sunset Wedding
If you are morning people, there is nothing quite like starting a new day and new life with a sunrise wedding on the beach. Check the almanac for the time of the sunrise and expected whether for your wedding date. Very often you will get a beautiful sunrise that excites the senses, the morning light is a beautiful sight with colors in the air and the morning dew hits you with a special freshness. Beach weddings have hardly any expense and a champagne brunch is called for afterward which is a lot less expensive than an evening wedding reception. Mimosas or Bloody Marys are the choice for drinks and don't forget the Lox and Bagels are to be included in the brunch. If the budget is there, you can still have an afternoon or evening wedding reception. Sunrise weddings work best when they are small, less than 75 people. They work best when all are staying at the same place like a bed & breakfast or a small boutique hotel. Make sure the couple goes to bed early the night before the wedding. Also make sure everybody dresses comfortably. Don't have a wedding at the beach during the heat of the day, if wedding guests aren't comfortable they'll be aintsy or your wedding might be remembered by Aunt Nellie's fainting. Weddings at sunset are also fun, dive into the wedding reception right after the wedding. Have the music, beach appropriate like a Caribbean band and the push should be for all to wear beach khakis and Hawaiian shirts, and don't forget to decorate with tropical flowers and beach wedding favors.

Tip 2 - Consider Having Your Wedding at a City Hall or Municipal Complex 
In recent years, many couples are having small weddings using the city hall or municipal complex. Many towns and cities have beautiful architecture in their building designs. Most towns have a spot built specifically for wedding ceremonies, the center has a spot that's easily accessible and the facility often has folding chairs that can be used for a wedding. Often there is the Mayor, a Justice of the Peace, or a Wedding Notary that can marry you. The places are built with natural decorations so there is no need to spend much money decorating. Some complexes even have a reception area or you can get authorization to set up a wedding tent. You can also find an upscale restaurant nearby for the wedding reception.

Tip 3 - Hold Your Wedding at a Community Center 
Many local communities have a secret place that many in the community don't know about. Some of these places are absolutely beautiful and is a great spot for a wedding. The local community center is a place that the local citizens can gather and community groups can hold meetings or have functions. Some of these places with a little decorating help become a stunning place in which to hold a wedding, often they are on beautiful grounds. Often there are women's groups or church groups and they can even provide a wait staff for your wedding. Often it's members have connections with wedding vendors or can put you in touch with the chamber of commerce. They can be a big help in your wedding planning.

Tip 4 - Have Your Wedding at a Unique Outdoor Location
Outdoor weddings have seen a tremendous increase over the past decade. This big increase is mostly attributed to beautiful wedding tents that have hit the market. The wedding tent has taken the worry out of outdoor weddings. In years prior, couples did not have many weddings in the outdoors because there was always a risk of inclement weather. The wedding tents today are beautiful and create a backup plan for a wedding. Places you can have outdoor weddings include picturesque parks, lake fronts, river banks, rustic barns, farms, and open fields. Many couples make it a barbecue or picnic, they might have blue grass band, a string quartet, or even bring along a disc jockey for entertainment. A country wedding might include yard games for the wedding guests which could be volleyball, bocce ball, croquet, horseshoes, or something other. Make sure outdoor paraphernalia is included at the event such as water bottles, paper fans, misting fans, parasols, umbrellas, sunscreen, bug spray, cell phones, garbage containers, paper towels, and make sure everyone brings their sneakers.

Tip 5 - How About a College Wedding 
You might check out having a wedding at a college, university, retreat, or a learning center. Often these places have a spot on their premises that make a beautiful spot for weddings and they don't cost a lot. Many campuses have a beautiful wedding chapel for a wedding and have elegant reception locations too. The campus might even have a culinary school with a gifted chef. The reception center might be run bu a univeristy club or a sorority group. Also the campus might have locations for a beautiful photography shoot. If one of you is an alma mater you may get a significant discount and don't forget to include wedding decorations in your school colors. Check out college and universities nearby, you may be pleasantly surprised with a beautiful location that doesn't cost a lot of money.

Tip 6 - Hold Your Wedding at a Winery
Since the turn of the century, wineries are popping all across the nation and are being designed to hold weddings. Put romance in the air with wonderful smells and the taste of good red and white wine. You might check out wineries, orchards, and botanical gardens in your neighborhood for a wedding. Since the ceremony is outside, there is not much overhead. Many of these places include an indoor site with a long bar or tables to drink wine from, they even offer a great place for a cocktail hour with wine, cheese, and crackers. Often there is a party room for your reception. Even if there is not a location for a wedding reception they allow the use of a wedding tent. Significant savings is offered for wines to serve your wedding guests and wine is offered for guests wedding favors. Some couples will invite local artists to sell their wares, with a little profit left for the wedding couples honeymoon. You might have artists showing off their oil paintings, sculptures, pottery, or include magicians, or have an artist that does caricature drawing.

Tip 7 -Find a Unique Location for Your Wedding
Are you looking for a breathtaking site for your wedding. There are many places around you that you may have never thought of. In your city there might be an art gallery which has a beautiful location for a wedding ceremony and maybe an open room that is surrounded by beautiful oil paintings. You have other choices. How about a wedding at a beautiful museum, an aquarium, a zoo, a ballpark. You might even find a beautiful spot in a tower which has an empty tenant, the view might be stunning from the 34th floor. Maybe there is a roof top. A place might be available for a little rent money. You often can get a great place for a location that doesn't advertise. It doesn't hurt to ask about an empty location and find you have found a perfect and unique location for your wedding.

Tip 8 - Hold Your Wedding at a Private Estate, Mansion, or Castle
Maybe you have a wealthy relative who will lend you their private estate, mansion, or castle. If not visit a realtor who handles upscale properties. See if they have any properties that are off the radar and tell them you are looking for an estate wedding and looking for a great deal and bargain and bargain some more, use one property against another until you can find yourself a great deal. look for an estate with beautiful views, a gigantic kitchen, a large family or ballroom or dining room, maybe the mansion has a pool area which can be covered with a dance floor, a nice yard and maybe an area you can pitch a tent. Make sure there are areas for wedding musicians and disc jockeys. Be sure the estate has distinctive features such as tutor, gothic, venetian, etc. Also check out what the parking situation can be, does the venue have enough space for parking or do you needs valets and park down the street or can cars be parked around the neighborhood. Be sure to let the town know and drop flyers around the neighborhood to inform them that there is going to be a wedding on such and such a day so they are aware of what's going on with all the cars and music in the neighborhood, maybe invite them over to listen to some of the music.

Tip 9 - Double Up with Another Wedding
Sometimes, in order to have the best wedding ever it takes a little ingenuity. The place in which you want your wedding at is too big for the amount of wedding guests you have. Maybe it's that fabulous reception place that has a ceremony site or maybe it's a beach resort, or a boutique hotel, or a convention center. What you can possibly do is find another bride who is planning to have a wedding the same day as you and combine resources. Your wedding ceremony can be 1:30, and theirs at 3:00. The reception area can be partitioned, you on the left side and the other bride's on the right. You can either share in the decorations or can have the partitioned walls high enough so the difference in colored decorations aren't seen together. You can share in the nights entertainment either a dance band or a disc jockey and share in the entertainment costs.

Tip 10 - Be Sure to Ask What Resources and Decorations the Venue Has to Offer
Many ceremony sites, may not inform you that they have many supplies in storage for weddings. Some things have nominal charges and some things they may offer for free. Always ask a ceremony venue, what they have that can help you out for your wedding. They probably have chairs, they may have tables, they may have a pulpit. Ask about all they have for weddings and the things that interest you check out in person. They might have arches, arbors, gazebos, aisle runners, different styled decorative candles, candelabras, potted plants, decorative bows, decoration for doors, flowers, vases, pew bows, hanging plants, hanging garland, hanging fabrics, sculptures, paintings, flower baskets, ring bearer pillows, guest book, and clear or white Christmas lights. They might have a list of all that they have. After you check with them hunt around for what they don't have or decorations you don't like in craft stores, dollar stores, religious stores, and rental supply stores, you can find decorations that aren't expensive. Also pick up flowers from a grocery store and strip off flower petals for decorating.

So take your time and seek out all the options for finding a great ceremony site and ask many questions. Many venues want your business, it's your money that's paying for the wedding. You have many options, if you don't get a great deal seek out another ceremony site venue.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

10 Cost Saving Tips for Finding A Church or Chapel for your Wedding

For many, the wedding day is not complete unless the wedding day is held in a church, wedding chapel, temple, or synagogue. As for finding a church it's important that the church is the right size for the amount of wedding guests you will have, this is important to create the right atmosphere for the wedding service.

If the guest count is less than 100, you should hunt for a small church or wedding chapel, if the guest count is between 100 and 500 you should seek a medium sized church, if the guest count is between 500 and 1,000 you should seek a large church, if the guest count is greater than 1,000 you should seek a mega church or a cathedral. The following 10 tips are some cost savings ideas for finding a church.

Tip 1 - Hold your Wedding at your Own House of Worship
If you already belong to a church and attend religious services regularly then you have an established relationship with that church and it's minister, you probably won't get a much better deal. You can use the church very inexpensively and in some cases for free. The church might just mention to put a little extra money in Sunday's Worship charity box. The thing you must do though, is book the church for the wedding far in advance. Churches book on a first come first serve basis. Make an appointment with the church director or church administrator and discuss setting up an appointment with a church officiant. You will meet possibly to discuss pre-marriage counseling, marriage requirements, order of service, musical wants, and how the church can and cannot be decorated.

Tip 2 - Choose a Church Close to your Beliefs and Crede 
Seek out a church with your doctrinal beliefs. Review the churches statement of faith and attend a couple of services. Ask yourself and your spouse what type of church you want to most belong to? What type of religious upbringing did you both have? Would you rather be a member of a church that is more formal like Catholic, Anglican, or Episcopalian or more informal such as protestant, pentecostal, or non-denominational. Also check out the classes, bible studies, programs, and productions the church might offer. Also check out the people in the church, are the officiants, laymen, and parishioners are their religious beliefs similar to yourselves and are they knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. Lastly check out the music program the church offers. Does the church have their services with hymns, choruses, gospel music, organ music, piano music, brass instruments, string instruments, guitarists, vocalists, or a rock band. Which type of music most inspires you? Also choose a church with a officiants that are inspirational to you and spouse.

Tip 3 - Decide What Time of Year and Day of Week for your Wedding
Many churches charge higher prices to use their church during the wedding season. The wedding season may be slightly different in different parts of the country. In general, the high wedding season is usually during the May through June period and also weddings do pick up a little during the New Years period. If you can have your wedding during the off-season you can save money from fees for the church. Prices are also highest for Saturday weddings. You often can get weddings cheaper if you have a wedding on a Friday night or Sunday night. Weddings on week days often provides a huge savings, but if you have working wedding guests you would be best off having your wedding a little late in the day after work hours. If you don't have many friends working 9 to 5 on weekdays, your best deals for weddings will be early week days.

Tip 4 - Consider Having your Wedding at a Wedding Chapel
Many wedding chapels are created on the outskirts of towns. Very seldom will you see a wedding chapel in a downtown area. Wedding chapels are noted for their charm, many are geared solely for weddings. Many wedding chapels are beautifully designed for weddings and tend to be a lot cheaper than church weddings. Wedding chapels offer a wide variety of wedding ceremonies and wedding packages. You often can pick and choose what services you want included. Some of the choices they may offer are what type of flowers, decorations, and floral arrangements you want, they may have a photographer and create a mini wedding album for you, they may have some music options, they often have connections with limousine services, and often can provide you and your wedding guests with significant savings on hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts in the area. It is highly recommended though to meet with a wedding chapel's director and wedding officiant in person and see them live in person or see a copy of the officiant assigned to you in action on tape, make sure the couple checks the facility out in person, what you see on a website can be deceiving. Also get references and talk things over and use your gut feelings before booking.

Tip 5 - Investigate What the Church Decorations Has To Offer
A well decorated church not only makes the church beautiful but often makes the church service magical. Very often, churches and houses of worship have a lot of church decorations in storage. They may offer church decorations for a nominal charge or may even offer decorations for free. Meet with the church director or the church administrator and ask them what church decorations they may have you can borrow or rent for your wedding. Some examples of church decoration rentals are aisle runners, candles, candle holders, church bows, pew bows, silk flowers, hanging tulle, candelabras, front door decorations, and many more items. Usually though churches have many restrictions when it comes to church decorations. Decorations are not allowed in certain altar areas, nails, staples, and epoxy glue may not be allowed, things to hang decorations cannot leave any marks. The wedding director usually provides rules for their church on what decorations are and what decorations are not allowed and how decorations are allowed to be used. If the wedding director does not inform you of the church decorations is available be sure to ask the wedding director if the church has any decorations that can be used for your wedding.

Tip 6 - Evaluate a Church from it's Website
Many churches have horrible websites. They are old, not updated, and often ugly. A well run church has a nice website. A nice website might have the picture of the church and directions on how to get to it on the front page of the website. The church has an inviting website and an easy website to navigate. There are biographies and contact numbers and maybe email addresses of all the clergy members. The website has contact information for any services or programs or church times. Who should be contacted should one to be married and contacts for counseling services. The website might include inspirational messages or what the sermon was for the week. The website should include photos or Youtube videos of a happy congregation moments and changed regularly either updated weekly or monthly. The website should be maintained by a group of individuals and promote interaction or a place to approach if people have problems that come up in their lives. Websites should be maintained by a team and not an individual, problems with websites often happen when one person assigned to it leaves. (Just a note, many websites aren't maintained because they cost money, if money is an issue, push the church to use Wordpress, it's free and powerful for interaction and serves all the functions a church needs for a Website and is easy to learn and easy to use)

Tip 7 - Share in Decorative Expenses with Other Brides
Ask your church director if there are any other weddings happening at the church the same weekend as yours, either a different time of day or the day after or before. Some churches will make contact for you and other churches will forward contact information to you. See if you can make contact and share in flower decorations. In certain situations, the brides might even talk about sharing in other church decorations. Maybe you can share in the cost of aisle runners, candelabras, church bows, pew bows, hanging tulle, hanging garland, door decorations, church table sprays, church table linens, guest book tables, flower petals. potted plants, arches, and whatever. Make sure there is no undue influence upon the other brides. You can often find supplies that can help you decorating the church from religious stores, craft stores, dollar stores, florists, and rental supply shops. You might consider Do It Yourself decorations. Create beautiful floral arrangements with a decorative wire piece plastered with flowers, spread flower petals on tables, or use the flowers and leaves from a magnolia tree or you may think of decorating with non-blinking white or clear Christmas lights.

Tip 8 - Check What Other Venues The Church has to Offer
Churches often have connections with other venues. If you don't ask you may never know about them. You can get a substantial savings by using other venues the church has. Maybe the church is too large or booked, but the church may also have a rectory, an assembly hall, an auditorium, or maybe an area on it's premises for a wedding tent. You can still have your wedding and decorate the area and still make it a beautiful wedding. Also churches have auditorium basements, banquet halls, and fellowship halls, or you can rent a wedding tent to have a wedding reception. Make sure you check the parking situation and you can still use the front of the church or church spire to take beautiful bride and bridal party pictures.

Tip 9 - Investigate Music Possibilities with the Church
Most churches have a rule, no taped music is allowed at church services. About 80% of churches abide by that rule. It's good and it's bad. The rule allows many music artists to show off their music skills, it's bad, with the sound systems today, music cost savings could be substantial. If taped music is allowed you might consider using it. You may also save on costs with the church organist or pianist. In some churches organists are part of the church fees and it costs you no more in fees to use the church organist. Evaluate other music possibilities also. The church may try to push you to use their wedding musicians such as their church choir. You might save on using a vocalist, flutist, or guitarist instead. Check though with the church director or wedding administrator. The church may have all sorts of wedding musicians you might consider for playing music for your wedding. You might consider a sting duet, a violinist, brass instruments, a string quartet, a harpist, or a church band.

Tip 10 - Find a Church with Aesthetic Beauty
You might find a church that is so beautiful that there is hardly any decorations needed. The church has beauty built into it's design. You may not need any decorations, maybe only a guest book. A church may have beautiful stained glass on it's windows, it might have a beautiful foyer, have wrap around seating with beautiful tapestries, have beautiful architecture built right into wooden beams, church pillars or church floors built with beautiful marble, may have a beautiful candle grotto, have beautiful sculptures on the church grounds. The church may also be overlooking a beautiful mountaintop or be that beautiful church in the woods or overlooking a lake. Find a beautiful church that has a lot of decorations built into the church and hardly no need for ceremony decorations.

So that's it in Cost Savings tips for churches and chapels. See you on the other side!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips For Hiring a Wedding Officiant

Many wedding officiants are independent ministers or civil officiants who run their own affairs entirely. This including setting their fees and what is included and what's not included in their fee. Some will run a very simple ceremony with not much to it, others will run a very elaborate ceremony which include vows, candle lighting, readings, and inspirational sermons and speeches and helps the couple out with a wedding rehearsal. It is very important to effectively interview officiants to understand what their fees are and what services are included. Here are some tips for when you are hiring an officiant.

Tip 1 - Hire An Officiant From Your House of Worship
Very often, your best deal is using the house of worship you grew up with. You know the church, temple, or chapel well. You know the officiant well and the officiant knows you well. Very often the officiant does the service for free or asks for a nominal fee, or gives you a big discount because you are a member or tells you to make an extra donation to the church. He/she knows you and tends to give a personal experience like they are part of the family. They also give a little more help to you in planning your wedding with advice and help you with planning your wedding program and helping with decorations.

Tip 2 - Hire a Justice of the Peace
Another officiant that tends not to be very expensive is a Justice of the Peace. A Justice of the Peace has many duties and one of their duties is to perform civil marriages. A Justice of the Peace is an appointed judicial official who handles many kinds of legal issues. Most are lawyers or have a law or judicial background. Their duties vary state by state. Generally besides marriages they preside over small claims courts, criminal courts, are involved in swearing in governmental officials, they issue warrants for bad checks, speeding, and search warrants. Their duties include hearing depositions, taking testimony under oath, witness legal oaths and affirmations and can notarize documents.

Tip 3 - Hire a Wedding Notary
A professional wedding notary have a legal license to perform weddings. In certain states they are allowed to perform wedding just as judges, justices of the peace, ministers, pastors, or rabbis. Some notaries perform weddings for a living and are involved with performing ceremonies, meeting with couples, reviewing what's to be included in the ceremony. Wedding notaries can perform civil, secular, or non-denominational ceremony but generally don't perform religious ceremonies. Make sure you check out their license. Their fees tend to be very reasonable.

Tip 4 - Officiants Who Specialize in Beaches or Lakes
Some wedding officiants specialize in beach or lake venues. Because there is not much overhead, they tend to have reasonable fees. Usually these officiants push for weddings near sunrise or sunset when the sun so the couple and wedding guests don't get too impacted by the weather, you don't want sun stroke or sun burn. Some of these officiants have special connections with vendors, can help you arrange for a wedding tent and caterer, have connections with a bed and breakfast, and often has arrangements with a wedding cake baker and help with a wedding bouquet with a wedding florist. These officiants beside the beach or lake are willing to officiate wedding in someone's backyard, someone's garden, a farm, a ranch house, ballroom, banquet hall, restaurant, and smaller hotels. They usually advertise their services on their own website and state some of the service they provide.

Tip 5 - Hire A Destination Officiant
There are a number of destination officiants that offer great deals. You might think of having your wedding in Las Vegas which is the top destination for weddings with about 120,000 wedding a year. Because of the competition of the amount of officiants to choose from, many officiants don't charge much for weddings and there are many little chapels. Shop around for a great deal. You also might consider having your wedding at a lesser known resort and have a destination wedding. You often can find an officiant that doesn't charge very much. Certain companies such as can help you plan your wedding and find an inexpensive wedding officiant. Just be sure to visit the location and meet your officiant before your wedding and learn the local requirements, know the documents you will need, and learn a little bit about the local customs.

Tip 6 - Find A Relative or Friend to Officiate
Couples on a budget might consider asking a relative or friend to officiate their wedding. Their are a few places such as the Universal Life Church which offers ordination online and can get credentials processed and emailed within a matter of days. Some states also offer a "Deputy for a Day Program". There are regulations of these programs state by state. Couples who are interested to go through this route should check with their county clerks office or marriage license bureau well ahead of time to see what needs to be done for their marriage to be legal. Make sure the relative or friend is comfortable speaking in front of a large audience, and work with him/her to create an exciting wedding program with a few wedding rehearsals. Use your judgement, having a relative or friend officiate your wedding can work out great or be a disaster, it takes a person with the right type of personality.

Tip 7 - See the Officiant in Action Before Booking
There are many officiants out there that can marry you. However, just because they are a wedding officiant does not mean they run a good wedding ceremony. A good wedding officiant can put a good story together that inspires and excites the wedding couple and the wedding guests and has all the congregation listening. If you aren't familiar with your wedding officiant, either see them live or try to get a video of them officiating another wedding. Also get referrals from other wedding couples that were married by him/her.

Tip 8 - Look for a Local Wedding Officiant
To find the best deal look for officiants at smaller churches and chapels. Make sure you draw up a contract with all your terms and considerations and put them in writing, this saves you from the chance of a cancellation. If the distance is far, the officiant may opt for an invitation which requires less travel. Finding an officiant nearby also saves in having to pay the officiant out in travel costs. Sign up for services you want, don't sign up for an upgrade if it doesn't interest you such as a candle lighting ceremony, stating wedding vows, giving a blessing, or having additional readings. Also ask the officiant about their wedding day schedule, do they have a busy schedule covering other weddings and/or events or would their day be devoted to your wedding. The time of year is also important for some wedding officiants, they may charge more during the busy wedding season, charging higher prices to officiate weddings for May and June and again for weddings around New Years. Find local officiates in wedding directories on the internet, search for them in search engines, contact local churches and wedding chapels, check with family or friends, or look for them in the yellow pages.

Tip 9 - Have a Conversation with the Officiant
If your budget is tight, ask your officiant if he/she can recommend any wedding vendors. Many times the officiant is one of the first people a wedding couple talks to after getting engaged. The officiant often has a lot of connections, wedding vendors ask them to send wedding couples their way, the officiant also knows many wedding vendors from their church, they also know wedding florists, church decorators, and rental service companies that make deliveries to their house of worship. They also meet wedding vendors when they get invited to wedding receptions. They also know of banquet halls to have wedding receptions in that the general public might not know of and of venues that are not readily advertised. The officiant by offering referrals to the business, often can get the wedding couple a discount.

Tip 10 - Use an Officiant that is Connected to a Venue
Very often a venue has an officiant that can be part of the venue contract, usually the officiant can be contracted at a pretty good price from the bundling of services and the officiant is willing to do a lower price allowing them to get steady business. Some examples of this arrangement. A yacht captain at sea or on a lake or a cruise captain might also be a judge, a justice of the peace, a minister, or a recognized officiant such as a notary public. If you get married at sea you need to check with the local jurisdictions. For some cruise lines, they will require that once you are in port, you will need to leave the ship, swear before a judge that everything is correct with the prepared paper work, then you can go back to the ship for your ceremony. Also hotels, resorts, restaurants, banquet halls, and ballrooms have contracted officiants on a preferred list that are allowed to do weddings at the venue with bundled pricing. Many of these venues have a ceremony location built and beautifully designed for weddings.

As for pricing for weddings can be very varied. Sometimes a wedding at your house of worship can be free or at a nominal fee or you may be asked to make an extra donation to the horse of worship. Officiants may charge anywhere from $35 to $1500. The median price is around $200-$250. Shop around for an inspirational wedding officiant, see them in action and find one that will fit your budget.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips For Wedding Planning

If you look around there are many ways to save costs on weddings, first we will start out on saving money with wedding planning, here are 10 tips that you may help you save on your wedding costs..

Tip 1 - Have a "DIY" Wedding
DIY stands for a "Do It Yourself" Wedding. This kicks back to old school of planning your wedding, on how weddings were planned a generation ago, you start out by buying a very inexpensive three ring binder and load it with lots of loose leaf paper and a good amount of dividers and some pocket folders and staple or paper clip some baggies that holds pictures and fabrics. In front of the binder create yourself a wedding checklist of wedding steps and create a section for wedding guests and the next sections are created for wedding vendors and maybe in the back a section for seating.

Next up, you start gathering information on who your wedding guests will be, there first is the bride's family, then the bride's friends, then the bride's work and clubs, then there is the groom's family, the groom's friends, and the grooms' work and finally eventually a list of wedding vendors that will be part of your special day.

Now you need to start researching wedding vendors and create a tab and sheets for each of them. Your goal is to interview at least 3 wedding vendors before deciding on one. Look for wedding vendors from wedding directories, family and friends, from other wedding vendors, Google them if you have a computer using the town name and wedding category and from the yellow pages. The vendors you find, first make a preliminary call to check on availability, expense, and professional they are and if they pass the phone test make an appointment with them, prepare interview questions to ask them before the appointment and each time you meet bring along a friend.

Tip 2 - Buy Yourself a Mobile Device and Download a Wedding App
Just hitting the market and keep your eyes open for the newest sensation, wedding planning apps. Brides love these new little devices and they make wedding planning fun, easy, and always at your fingertips. Wedding planning apps are available on IPhones, IPads, Blackberries, IPods, and Android Phones and with new technology in no time there will be new devices coming out. Find and check out devices that most fits your wedding planning needs. Many of these apps organize your guest list, organize your wedding vendors, may allocate your budget expenditures, create seating plans, keep a diary, provide seating plans, have inspiration boards and do many things more.

Reputable Companies Offering Wedding Planning Apps

Tip 3 - Wedding Planning Online
Over the last decade, many companies have put products online. You have to be a little comfortable with computers, but you don't have to be wiz, many products are relatively easy. Many of these products are free but some sophisticated ones do cost some money. Many products create spreadsheets or databases to help you plan your wedding and makes wedding planning easy and allows you to quickly printout reports. A wedding couple can even create a website, or put their wedding plans on Facebook, they can have fun with putting out a daily diary using Twitter which allows small bursts of information out called Tweets, so family and friends can follow their wedding planning activities. Pinterest is another online social system which is great at creating inspiration boards. Some reputable companies are listed below.

Wedding Planning Websites

Google Docs also has a number of planning tools, in your browser put "Google Docs Wedding" and click one of the links of the type of tool you are looking for.

Create a Website for a Wedding Couple

Tip 4 - Find a Really Good Wedding Planner
Focus on the wedding planner interview process. A handful of wedding planners are really good at their job. The really good wedding planner knows the wedding business really well, they tend to have a lot of experience, are very personable, are thorough, understands your budget, has connections, and gets discounts from many of the wedding vendors and passes savings onto the wedding couple. These wedding planners are often a little hard to find, but when you find one, they leave an impression on you in your interview with them. Interview a number of wedding planners and sometimes you might find a good wedding planner.

Tip 5 - Use a Wedding Coordinator
Often brides, want to plan their own wedding, but don't have very many contacts and don't have a lot of time for research. For this type of bride a wedding coordinate is great and costs a lot less money than a wedding planner. A wedding coordinator sets one or two meetings with the bride. Often the wedding coordinator leaves a wedding organizer with the bride which includes a wedding plan checklist, how to create a wedding guest list, seating plans, and how to allocate budgets to vendors, and how to do many other things. The coordinator also leaves all sorts of contacts in the organizer such as many wedding vendors with their name, address and phone number. The wedding coordinator sometimes will even set up a meeting between the bride and some of the wedding vendors and these vendors are provided a little information on the wedding couple such as the date of the wedding, and guest count, so upon the interview meeting a package of information will be waiting for the couple.

Tip 6 - Use a Day of Wedding Coordinator
A day of wedding coordinator is basically an assistant for your wedding day. This individual is basically responsible for pulling together all the elements and details of your wedding day. They make sure the ceremony site is properly decorated and oversee the wedding reception. They organize all the deliveries such as the wedding cake, flowers, and wedding decorations are set up properly. They make sure the reception tables with centerpieces, place settings and wedding favors are set up right. They tell the wedding guests when it's time for sit down dinner, organizes the food flow from the caterer, what waitresses covers which tables, when to cut the cake, and provides the cue for toasts and when the musicians can start playing. The wedding coordinator is the eyes and ears of the wedding couple for their wedding day. Typically around the month before the wedding the wedding couple meets with the wedding coordinator and gets all the contacts and receive marching orders from the wedding couple of how the wedding day should be run, so the couple can focus on their duties for their wedding day without any distractions.

Tip 7 - Use a Wedding Coordinator from a Hotel, Resort, Club, or Restaurant
Many wedding reception venues have their own wedding coordinator and offers many of the services that are part of weddings. The wedding couple or bride might have some less vendors that they have to find for their wedding. Many of these places provide bundling of services with discounts as part of pricing plans. Besides offering catered food for the wedding, these facilities have all the seating taken care of, they have all the linens and dishes needed, they have all the decorations and flowers provided, they provide the wedding cake and desserts, they have in-house photographers, they may have in-house disc jockeys, they may have in-house musicians, they usually have outstanding chefs, have bartenders and waitstaff. Usually the bride has a lot less to do when planning her wedding with this type of venue, she just has to focus on her wedding dress and bridal party outfits. Maybe she has a little wedding invitation work and work involved with wedding favors.
Also over the last decade, many of these venues have a ceremony site on premise, saving the wedding ceremony costs, they even have wedding officiants.

Tip 8 - Find a Student from a Local Community College or University
The secret in finding a student from a local community college or university is first find a teacher that teaches wedding planning. Ask for their best student but it's got to be either later in the semester or around when they have finished the course. Make sure you interview the student before contracting with them, you may want to interview a few students before deciding. Find a student that's charming and has good organization skills. Usually you can't go wrong with the best students, usually you can get a big discount from them, you are offering them a tremendous opportunity by getting their foot in the door for wedding planning that will look good on their resume. Just be sure you meet with them regularly so they know what you need done and the communication between you is good.

Tip 9 - Pick a Wedding Planner Who Charges By The Hour
Choose a wedding planner who charges by the hour over the one who charges a flat fee or one who charges percent of total. Interview a dozen wedding planners and you might find they all do and charge for the wedding planning services different. Studies have shown, the wedding planners who charge by the hour often gives better service. Once a wedding planner is paid or has a set fee they tend to not work as hard on providing service sometimes putting a little more focus on reeling in more clients. If all is equal in the hiring process, pick the wedding planner who charges by the hour over the others.

Tip 10 - Enlist an Organized Family Member or Friend
You might find a sister or good friend to help you with your wedding chores and especially help out as your assistant for your wedding day. Your sister or friend must not be part of your bridal party though, they cannot break away from their duties. Make sure the person you choose as your assistant for your wedding day is organized and is a person good at dealing with other people, does not get frazzled should there be a conflict.

That's 10 Cost Saving Tips for your wedding planning. See you on the other side!