Freebie Friday :: Budget Cart Before the Horse

Is it Friday already??? You know that means--another edition of Freebie Friday! 

 How cute are these lovebirds?? So excited for their wedding with Anna Delores Photography and Stella Bloom Designs. Image by Anna Delores Photography

How cute are these lovebirds?? So excited for their wedding with Anna Delores Photography and Stella Bloom Designs. Image by Anna Delores Photography

Today, I'm hoping this advice is delivered at the appropriate time in the planning process. November through March is what we call "booking season" because all you lovely guys and gals put a ring on it when you're carving a turkey, sitting by a fire opening presents or lighting the Menorah, when you're poppin' bottles with the countdown or buying 2 dozen roses for that "other" holiday. There are so many occasions and so much love this time of year, that he can't help but get on bended knee... and then the booking of vendors begins. 

If you're sporting a new shiny rock and are getting ready to embark on the most exciting planning process of your life, first of all congratulations! And second--STOP! Put down the checkbook and back away from the contracts... we need to talk.

No matter who you are or how much money you have, the budget is the least romantic part of the wedding planning process, but--dare I say it--the most important part. All too often, I see brides go through what I call "the dreaming phase" and then straight into booking. There's nothing wrong with the dreaming phase, in fact, I encourage it. Flip through magazines, scroll through Pinterest (sparingly...) and see what you love and what you hate. Let your mind wander and dream, but after that, you HAVE to evaluate your budget. You cannot go from dreaming to booking, you have to take moment (or 100) and breakdown your budget. 

I know you've heard it before, but I'm going to go ahead and beat that dead horse, and here's why... I get a lot of potential clients who emphasize their budget to me and the importance of sticking to that, "We can NOT, under any circumstances, go over this number."

Ok, perfect! I'm so glad you have a budget! Then I ask what vendors they've already booked... and I find that they fell in love with a venue with a site fee that accounts for 20% of their budget and a photographer who they just had to have who accounts for another 15%. Well, great. The budget that we have to work with, the amount that we'll use to secure tables, chairs, linens, napkins, flatware, glassware, china, chargers, a dance floor, DJ, ceremony musicians, apps and a 3 course meal, cocktails, beer, wine, flowers, lighting, officiant, guest transportation, hair and makeup services, a dress... that amount is actually only 65% of the total number in their head because 35% was gone before they broke down the rest of the expenses.

I hear it all the time: "we fell in love with (enter out-of-budget but incredibly beautiful/talented vendor here)." And trust me, I toooooooootally get it; I really really do. But what I also get is how heart broken you're going to be when you realize that you just can't afford that peony bouquet you really wanted, that amazing live band, or that gorgeous draping because you fell in love early on and put the budget cart before the horse. So what's the right approach?

1) Get an overall budget number... talk to parents, contributing family, your fiancé (yes, it can be awkward/uncomfortable) and determine how much money you have to work with.  

2) Determine if there's anything that's going to be paid for outside of the budget. Maybe you're going to pay for your dress on your own, but your parents are footing the bill for the overall wedding. 

3) Break your budget up into categories and assign an amount to each category. Using percentages of your overall budget is a great way to do this. Just be sure you understand everything you're responsible for. An incomplete budget is almost as worthless as not having one at all. 

4) With budget in-hand, begin to request quotes and proposals from vendors that you like, starting with venues.

5) Here comes the big one, and I say it with love... Manage your expectations.

Take those quotes and proposals you've received and compare them with your outlined budget. Did you hit the nail on the head? Did you budget $3,500 for a photographer and that's exactly how much your dream photog quoted you?? Awesome! If you didn't quite nail it, this is where your priorities come in. If that photographer is a non-negotiable, but you only budgeted $2,500, then look for $1,000 in other areas. This doesn't mean arbitrarily changing the numbers on your spreadsheet to get the total number you want to see; it means holding off until you research the cost of some other items and see if you'd be satisfied with the product of a lower budget amount in those other categories. ****Hint hint, this is where a wedding planner really comes in handy because we have a pretty good idea how much these things cost off the tops of our heads. Maybe you budgeted for fruitwood chiavari chairs at $8 each x 150 guests, but you think, "that photographer is so much more important than chiavari chairs."

Since your wedding is outside at a private estate and not in a ballroom anyway, you look into dark wood folding chairs instead at $3 each x 150. You just went from $1,200 for chairs to $450 and the photographer of your dreams is now within reach. But the key is that you had to do the research to find what the chairs cost before you made your decision. The brides who write the checks and ask questions later are those who end up in a sticky budget situation at the end. 

Go ahead, dream away! Get excited about your fantasy wedding and relish in the bliss of that new bling on your finger. Just remember to stop, take a breath and do some math before you start makin' it rain, wedding style. 

Have a topic you want me to talk about for next Freebie Friday??? Ask a question in the comments below! 


homemade stick tree }{ foraged decor

Remember the tall branch tucked in the corner at the end of this post? Well, I promised I'd be back to share what I had in store for the beauty!

I wanted a special place to display our travel themed ornaments that I've collected over the past couple of years from Cost Plus World Market. They're adorable glass ornaments and come in sets of 3 in fun country themes. They're colorful and quaint and don't really go with our neutral Christmas tree. So I decided to make a tree just for them. 

We started with a branch that we found on a walk near the riverbed. Its 10 foot length was a little much so we used a chainsaw to take off about 2 feet. We went on another walk to find sticks to be the tree's branches. Daniel had the great idea to take our largest drill bit with us to ensure that we didn't get any sticks that were too large. 

With "branches" in hand, we came back to drill the holes. Keep in mind that angle is important so try to drill at an angle that will allow your branches to point upward. We used several different drill bit sizes depending on the width of the sticks.

vanessa noel events foraged decor.JPG
homemade stick tree.JPG
homemade stick tree.JPG

After Daniel drilled the holes, I placed the branches and decorated the new tree. Not only is it the perfect place for our international ornaments, but it's a great spot to display our Christmas cards from friends and family! It doesn't get any cheaper, easier, or more festive!

homemade tree.JPG
homemade tree .JPG

wreath repurpose }{ foraged decor

Christmas is only 22 days away... yikes! As I gaze around our apartment, I'm still seeing pumpkins and leaves. Today is the day to get busy on the Christmas cheer and turn fall into winter (even if it's been about 65 degrees lately). 

On Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and, as usual, was inspired by the changing colors and foliage. As I made my way back down my street, I noticed that some magnolia trees had been trimmed, but that many of the branches hadn't been picked up. So, like a nut job, I began to forage... naturally. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with all those leaves, but I knew it was going to be good. 

When I got home, I looked at the fall wreath hanging on the front door.


fall wreath.JPG

The wreath was a gift from my mother-in-law and I wanted to keep it around, but in our very small apartment, I was worried about how to store it. I decided instead to give it new life for the current season. Enter those foraged magnolia leaves, a little spray adhesive and gold glitter I had in my craft box. Boom, Christmas just arrived! 

christmas wreath.JPG

Stay tuned for more easy and resourceful Christmas and holiday crafts that don't require a craft store credit card. 

cyber monday guide}{ wedding style

Good afternoon, savings seekers. It's Cyber Monday and I'm sure you're looking forward to (or are already bragging about) some serious savings for your 2013 gift giving. You might have made your way through Amazon, Macy's, Target, and any number of other Cyber Monday staples for those on your list, but I'm here to give you a tip: Cyber Monday isn't just for Christmas or the Holidays!

Getting married in 2014? Cyber Monday is the PERFECT time for savvy shopping for your big day and for those making it special. Check out my picks for the best deals!

1. Minted is a favorite of mine for beautiful stationary. With so many customizable options and great customer service, it's a great way to go for your invitation suite or holiday cards. Even better? Get 25% off with code MON25. Concerned because you're not quite ready to commit to all the details for your invitation suite? Not to worry. WIth their "buy now, upload later" option, you can get the savings now without making those decisions. 

2. Possibly the best deal of the day is Wedding Chicks 50% off with code CYBERWEEKEND. The sale includes everything from tote bags and handkerchiefs to their adorable invitation suites. P.S. if you're not the one engaged, but are hosting a shower or bachelorette party, their goodies are just as good for those occasions!


3. Fashion is a huge part of your wedding and all of the fun events leading up to it. There's the engagement party, showers, bachelorette, dress shopping... so many opportunities to sport something sparkly. Check out ASOS today for 30% off with code GIMMEMORE to find something fabulous for all these occasions. If you're looking for bridesmaids dresses, I'm pretty sure your maids would be ecstatic if you picked one of ASOSs reasonably priced numbers. 

While you're thinking about wedding day fashion, head over to Twigs & Honey for a rare 15% off discount with code THCYBER2013. The entire line of headpieces and bridal attire is totally swoon-worthy!

4. Bridesmaids can be difficult to shop for. They're your closest friends, your most trusted confidants, but they're also so different. How do you decide on gifts that will please them all? Enter some of my favorites! Lady-like polish from butter London (20% off with code CYBER13) keeps manis pretty and sophisticated and gold loafers from Henri Bendel (40% with code CYBER13) ensures your besties will be dancing by your side through the reception. 


5. Your bridesmaids aren't the only ones you'll need to buy for before your wedding. There's your aunts who're throwing your shower, your neighbor who's helping you craft your favors, not to mention your parents. Now is the time to stock up on great hostess and thank you gifts for everyone who is helping to make your day come together. With gifts at every price and s many options for customizable goodies, C Wonder is a one-stop shop. Use code GIFTS40 for 40% off. And might I suggest stocking up on monogrammed cocktail napkins for the wedding itself? With 40%, you can't go wrong!

Another favorite is Lulu & Georgia with accessories and home goods galore. They're offering 30% off with code THANKS30 off all their fabulous and unique items from lamps and pillows to vases and candlesticks. 

Happy shopping! Here's to good deals!