Monday, December 31, 2012

Easy Money-Saving Tips for your Wedding

Unless you are one of the privileged few who have access to an unlimited budget for your wedding, then you likely have or will experience moments in which you will stress about the cost of your event and all of its components.

I am sure you've heard the typical suggestions to save your money like hosting a cash bar, weekday wedding or using an iPod in place of a DJ. My goal as a wedding coordinator is to make my clients' dreams a reality while keeping them on budget. It's not always easy, but by way of trial and error as well as experience, (both mine and others) I can meet that goal. So without giving away all of my secrets, I've complied a list of money-saving tips.

  • Consider Alternate Dates/ Times: Reception venues aren't making money when they aren't hosting events. So they often offer (sometimes deep) discounts for weddings in the morning, afternoon or off-season. If you aren't made aware of this information by the staff or their website, don't be afraid to ask for a reduced rate! 
    • Often, brides are automatically against anything but the "typical" Saturday evening wedding, but before you join this group, think about the options (and additional savings!!). Although Friday evening weddings seem to be gaining popularity, Saturday and Sunday afternoon/morning weddings shouldn't be overlooked. A brunch, breakfast or lunch meal is something unique to wedding guests. Instead of a candy bar, guests will be treated to a coffee or hot chocolate bar! And remember the same rule about discounts often remains the same for limo/ transportation companies, caterers and other vendors.
  • Utilize money-saving tools available online: In addition to sites like eBay, visit webpages dedicated to saving brides' money! Recycled Bride is an "online marketplace" where brides can buy and sell wedding-related items. Whether you are in search of a "good deal" on that designer dress you have your eye on or some decorative additions, "click" before you buy! 
  • Know your Bar Options: Although the most obvious way to reduce the cost of alcohol is to simply choose a cash bar, there are other ways to spend less. 
    • Offer a full open-bar for a pre-determined period of time (i.e. during cocktail hour or dinner, one hour after dinner, etc.)
    • Only serve beer & wine
    • Take advantage of the Signature Drink trend! Bonus: you can DIY (or order) an adorable, custom sign to display the beverage of the evening!
    • Source: via Emilee on Pinterest

Second Bonus? Breathtaking photos!

For more money-saving tips specific to YOUR wedding, email me and we can discuss additional ways I can save you from blowing your budget, as well as the circumstances in which you shouldn't scrimp!

Are you engaged or even just a curious reader? Do you have a topic you'd like to see featured on All Tulled Up? Email me  or post in the comments section below with any questions, suggestions or thoughts. And don't forget to follow All Tulled Up so you don't miss a thing. :)

Happy New Year & see y'all in 2013!

Happy Planning!

Meaghan xoxo

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some Pinterest Love

If you have a Pinterest account, then you already know of the fabulous ideas awaiting you every day on this most fabulous website! I have been obsessed since day one and can't help myself from logging on daily. You can check out my boards (and follow me) here. And if you don't have one, what are you waiting for???

Pinterest allowed me to find some truly unique ideas that set my wedding apart from all the others. It is a creative (and FREE) tool that every bride should use in her wedding planning! So today, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite pins.

Okay, so this is adorable! So many people are on Instagram or Twitter these days, so why not encourage guests to share all of their wedding photos? This way, you have some to tide you over until the professional ones come in! And the hashtag? #toocute :)
I've noticed lately, that a lot of couples are steering away from the traditional paper guest book option and searching for ideas that are more meaningful to them. This one is lovely! And this is something you can display in your home and look at all the time! I'm kind of a sucker for monograms too, so I'm partial ;)

                                                                  Source: via Meaghan Shelton on Pinterest

The hubs and I also chose a non-traditional option for our guest book. We LOVE it! It's hanging up in the living room so I love that it doubles as a wall-hanging. We ordered a Fingerprint Guestbook Tree from YourKeepsakeCo on Etsy and I definitely recommend their shop. They did a fabulous job, were easy to work with and we were so pleased with the finished product!

If you are in search of unique poses to add to your phtog's list, pinterest will certainly not disappoint! I saved over 100 images, later narrowed them down and handed them over! (Not that we got more than 3 of them, but that's another story you can read more about here. I digress...)

I loved this pose of all your favorite girls on a bed. There's something so young, carefree and just plain cute about this picture. Here is the inspiration:

And the recreation featuring the most beautiful, helpful and thoughtful bridesmaids EVER:

Well that's all for today, ladies! But I think I will make this Pinterest favorites a regular thing, so stay tuned for more! Enjoy your weekend!

Happy Planning!

Meaghan xoxo

Friday, December 28, 2012

After the Proposal...

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas! My family and I certainly did! The hubs spoiled me rotten. :)
Christmas Eve

Speaking of Christmas, I am reminded of last year at this time, when I was bombarded by the news of THREE engagements within one week!

Since then, I've attended one of their beautiful weddings. Seriously, do they not look like they belong in a bridal magazine? They are stunning together!
Image Credit: Brooke G Images

Getting engaged is such a magical thing. Listening to your other half profess their love and hopes for your future together (and a nice shiny rock doesn't hurt either, huh?) is an experience we all dream about. And after you've had a few days to soak it all in and stare at that new beauty of your finger,
About 10 minutes after the hubs proposed! 

you may be left feeling overwhelmed with all the wedding planning ahead! A lot of brides simply don't know where to start or if they do, they are amazed at all the options for each decision to be made. Trust me, I've been there too and it can be stressful.
  • Book the Venues: As tempted as you may be to start with bridal gown shopping, the first thing you need to focus on is finding a place to host your ceremony and reception, especially if you are short on time or planning a wedding around a holiday. You may be surprised at how quickly places will book up and the last thing you want is to hear the place of your dreams is reserved!
  • Book a Photographer & Schedule Engagement Pics: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but remember to do some research, ask friends and family for recommendations and visit local bridal shows. You can read more on this topic here. Most photographers will offer your engagement session for free or at a discount. Don't be afraid to ask if it isn't offered to you! I adore our engagement pictures! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Start on your Guest List: This is, by far, one of the most tedious parts of your entire wedding! So don't wait to begin. Ask each of your parents for lists and begin working on your own. Then work on tracking down addresses. I organized my guest list in an excel spread sheet with a column for names, addresses, number of guests and a final column to check off whether they were coming. This made it much easier to update address changes and add or remove guests. 
  • Decide on a Budget: Depending on who's paying for the wedding, work together and decide on at least a rough number to keep in mind. You may be surprised to find things will cost more than you imagined. For a detailed breakdown of expected costs depending on your area, you can use this budget calculator to get a better idea of what is realistic. Remember, this number will differ based on many factors!
  • Choose your Attendants: Remember that the larger your bridal party, the higher the cost for you. This will affect the number of gifts you will need to purchase, the size of the limo you will rent and the amount of bouquets and other flowers you will need. Decide whether you will have a flower girl and ring bearer, a junior bridesmaid/ groomsman or junior bride/ groom. 
  • Enjoy your Engagement! This time will be such a small part of your life and it will be gone before you have a moment to take it all in! You will only refer to your other half as your fiance for a short while. Stressful as it may be, wedding planning goes so quickly, as well as dress shopping, cake tasting, bachelor/ bachelorette parties, bridal showers, engagement parties, etc. Don't wish this special time away!
Above all else, spend lots of time adding to your wedding board on Pinterest. And don't forget to follow me on there as well! My wedding board is kinda amazing! :)

Happy Planning!

Meaghan xoxo

Friday, December 14, 2012

Research those Vendors!!

Good Morning Ladies!

Today, I want to talk to y'all about those ultra-important people you will hire to make your wedding day EXTRA special: photographers, florists, caterers, D.J.'s, limo companies, etc. Well, mainly I want to talk about the most important one, your photographer(s).

Wedding photography is such an expansive industry that seems to grow by the minute! No matter where you live, no doubt, you will have dozens of photographers in your area to choose from. Photographers come in all along the budget-and, let's be honest, talent-spectrum. But regardless of the cost, isn't your choice of vendor in this area where you should be less concerned with money and more concerned with things like credibility, likeability, work ethic, and portfolio? Now, I'm not saying you should completely blow your budget on one area of the wedding planning or book the most prestigious photog in your area just because they are available for your date!

Although it's tempting when you see images like these. (Salvatore Cincotta is a fabulous photographer in St. Louis)

I digress. Like I said, there are fantastic photographers in every price range, who will work with you to create the wedding album of your dreams! But for each handful of the great ones, there's a few bad apples that you have to be aware of. the hopes of preventing such a tragedy as having wedding photos you hate, I am going to share my own tips for hiring the right photographer (or any vendor) along with some hindsight.

  • DO NOT hire someone based on price!
    • Maybe you're saying "DUH!" or maybe you're like I was and just wanting to stay under budget. Either way, if it seems too good to be true, 95% of the time, it is.
  • DO NOT hire the first person you meet with!
    • In order to make a completely informed decision, meet with at least 3 vendors in each category. Compare them and then choose the right one for you. 
  • Go with your gut!
    • If your head is telling you one thing and your heart, another, go with your heart! Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Also, on that note, remember in school when your teachers said don't change your answers on tests because the first one you picked is usually right? Same rule applies here. 
  • Do your research!
    • Don't be afraid to ask for references. Read letters of reccomendation they may have available or ask for contact information and talk to past clients for yourself. Check out their website thoroughly, look through past sessions they've completed and read any reviews you can find!
Now on to my own experience...let's just say it was bad. Disclaimer: I am not here to bash the photographer we hired, nor am I going to release any names. I chose her. I made the decision.

 I am guilty of disobeying my own above rules.   And I definitely paid the price. We hired a family friend (mistake #1) because she charged so little (mistake #2). I spent very little time looking at her portfolio (mistake #4) and I even cancelled the contract I had with the photographer we hired 3 months prior to save money (mistake #5). I cried for weeks after getting the pictures back because I was so disappointed and there was nothing I could do to change it. 

Moving forward, I learned a very valuable lesson to pass on to all of you fabulous readers!

So I will leave you all with this lovely shot from our wedding. Try not to laugh. 
I don't even like to look at it. Can you say awkward?

Happy Planning!

Meaghan xoxo