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Budget Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning

5 Holiday Gift Budgeting Tips for Engaged Couples

 Budget, Holidays, Wedding Budgets  Comments Off on 5 Holiday Gift Budgeting Tips for Engaged Couples
Nov 142016
 
Holiday Gift Budget Tips

Photo: Getty Images

If you're planning to get married in the first half of 2017, now is the time to start budgeting properly. Why now? Because it's the engaged couple's last chance to get their financial ducks in a row, ahead of the holiday season.

Between holiday travel expenses and gifts for family, friends, and colleagues, many couples find themselves financially tapped out in January and February. That's not going to work for you this year if all of your final wedding expenses are going to be due in the first half of the New Year.

While you cannot use your upcoming wedding as an excuse to skip the holiday gift-giving entirely, you can make smarter decisions ahead of time, so that you don't find yourself paying ridiculous shipping, and higher prices, at the last minute to give gifts that you really cannot afford.

Consider the following five tips to help you avoid blowing your whole wad, and causing wedding budget problems down the road.

1. Make a list of everybody you MUST shop for and evaluate it with your spouse.
If you've previously given individual gifts to couple friends, consider giving just one gift to them together. Let them know that's your plan so they can feel free to reciprocate in kind.

2. Set hard budgets for gifts for friends, and stick to those numbers.
If you tend to overspend on the ones you love, get the gifts early. Wrap them and cross those people off of your list. Not another thought towards picking up little extra goodies or you'll undermine your budget plan.

3. Plan an interactive gift night with close friends, instead of exchanging gifts in the traditional manner.
Make reservations for a special restaurant with another couple, planning to split the tab, as your gift to each other. You'd probably have gone out to dinner together anyway — goose it up a bit and make it an extra special night with appetizers at a trendy martini bar before, and a visit to a champagne or hookah bar after.

See More: Holiday Gift Ideas for Your In-Laws

4. Homemade gifts are wonderful, as long as you don't end up spending more to make them than it would have cost you to buy something similar.
Fall is a great time to make jams and jellies to wrap as pretty gifts, if you're feeling adventurous. All of your DIY gift ideas are sure to be thoughtful, but you have to plan ahead. Otherwise, you'll run out of time, and end up spending money at the last minute to buy gifts when you already have the ingredients and parts and pieces from the craft store at home.

5. Your own families know that you're paying for an upcoming wedding, so nobody will be surprised if you've spent less this Christmas than last.
If you usually get individual gifts for your siblings, their spouses, and each of their children, consider getting a larger "family" gift instead. As long as it's something that everyone will enjoy, the gift will be greatly appreciated.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.

How to Not Get Ripped Off While Wedding Planning

 Budget, Planning Tips, Wedding Budgets, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on How to Not Get Ripped Off While Wedding Planning
Nov 112016
 
how to not get ripped off wedding planning

Photo: Getty Images

"Weddings are such a rip off!" How many times have you heard this one before? While it's true you'll probably pay more for your wedding than you would hosting a family reunion at the same venue, it's never okay for a wedding vendor to totally take advantage of you. From really doing your research to checking those contracts twice, here's not to not get completely "ripped off" during the wedding planning process.

Hire an experienced wedding planner.
According to Florida-based wedding planner Aviva Samuels of Kiss The Planner, your wedding planner is going to be your best resource for keeping you within budget. "We have access to venues and vendors galore and know exactly what the price ranges are for each category," she says. "We immediately know if you're overpaying or if you're getting good value for your money." A great planner can help you negotiate a great deal as well, and thanks to their long-term relationships with vendors and venues you'll likely get added value for the same exact dollar amount others would pay.

Be wary of all-inclusive packages.
While they're definitely appealing in terms of simplifying the decision process, all-inclusive packages leave little to no room for pricing negotiations and the fine print of actual expected cost is not always clear, often leading to spending more than you budgeted for, warns wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. "They also often require use of an exclusive caterer or floral designer which may not be your preferred aesthetic." Bottom line: do your research and get a pro (like your planner) to review that contract.

See More: 4 Wedding Guest Outfit Faux Pas to Avoid

Always get a contract (and fully understand it before signing).
Make sure you get a contract that details exactly what you're getting, as well as the amount for the service and any payment plans, advises Samantha Gieseke, owner of Plan Our Day Houston. "Then read and review the entire contract to ensure you and the vendor are on the same page when it comes to payment, expectations, start and end times, delivery times (for photos) and the cancelation policy."

Do your homework.
Yes, it's typically true that you get what you pay for, however sometimes a vendor may charge more than the going rate, which doesn't automatically mean that they're better, cautions Samuels. "Research the vendor, through online reviews and/or verbal recommendations, looking at both the quality of their product or service while also taking into account the experience other brides and grooms have had in working with them." Does their brand match their price tag or is it a mismatch? Have they been doing this a long time or are they still wet behind the ears? If their experience level and the quality of what they offer seems inferior to their price tag, continue your comparison search to see if indeed they are charging a fair price, she recommends. "If, on the other hand, the price tag is commensurate with their experience and level of talent, you can rest assured that you're not getting ripped off."

How to Not Get Ripped Off While Wedding Planning

 Budget, Planning Tips, Wedding Budgets, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on How to Not Get Ripped Off While Wedding Planning
Nov 112016
 
how to not get ripped off wedding planning

Photo: Getty Images

"Weddings are such a rip off!" How many times have you heard this one before? While it's true you'll probably pay more for your wedding than you would hosting a family reunion at the same venue, it's never okay for a wedding vendor to totally take advantage of you. From really doing your research to checking those contracts twice, here's not to not get completely "ripped off" during the wedding planning process.

Hire an experienced wedding planner.
According to Florida-based wedding planner Aviva Samuels of Kiss The Planner, your wedding planner is going to be your best resource for keeping you within budget. "We have access to venues and vendors galore and know exactly what the price ranges are for each category," she says. "We immediately know if you're overpaying or if you're getting good value for your money." A great planner can help you negotiate a great deal as well, and thanks to their long-term relationships with vendors and venues you'll likely get added value for the same exact dollar amount others would pay.

Be wary of all-inclusive packages.
While they're definitely appealing in terms of simplifying the decision process, all-inclusive packages leave little to no room for pricing negotiations and the fine print of actual expected cost is not always clear, often leading to spending more than you budgeted for, warns wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. "They also often require use of an exclusive caterer or floral designer which may not be your preferred aesthetic." Bottom line: do your research and get a pro (like your planner) to review that contract.

See More: 4 Wedding Guest Outfit Faux Pas to Avoid

Always get a contract (and fully understand it before signing).
Make sure you get a contract that details exactly what you're getting, as well as the amount for the service and any payment plans, advises Samantha Gieseke, owner of Plan Our Day Houston. "Then read and review the entire contract to ensure you and the vendor are on the same page when it comes to payment, expectations, start and end times, delivery times (for photos) and the cancelation policy."

Do your homework.
Yes, it's typically true that you get what you pay for, however sometimes a vendor may charge more than the going rate, which doesn't automatically mean that they're better, cautions Samuels. "Research the vendor, through online reviews and/or verbal recommendations, looking at both the quality of their product or service while also taking into account the experience other brides and grooms have had in working with them." Does their brand match their price tag or is it a mismatch? Have they been doing this a long time or are they still wet behind the ears? If their experience level and the quality of what they offer seems inferior to their price tag, continue your comparison search to see if indeed they are charging a fair price, she recommends. "If, on the other hand, the price tag is commensurate with their experience and level of talent, you can rest assured that you're not getting ripped off."

6 Wedding Budget Splurges Real Brides Were Glad They Made

 Budget, Real Brides, Wedding Budgets  Comments Off on 6 Wedding Budget Splurges Real Brides Were Glad They Made
Oct 252016
 

Any bride on a wedding budget is most likely monitoring it closely and trying not to overspend. But what if there's something you forget to add to the budget — or want plain to splurge on? If you're looking into what last-minute purchases you may want to make, here are six splurges brides are thrilled they made during wedding planning.

1. A Day-Of Coordinator
"I thought hiring someone to oversee the day would be a waste, especially because we got married at a hotel and they assured us there would be someone there we could work with. It was the best last-minute thing to spend money on. We paid about $800 for someone to be at the wedding for 8-hours and make sure it was set up perfectly and our vendors came on time. She also troubleshooted all the things that went wrong, so that I didn't even know about them." —Mary D., 32

2. A Dessert Bar
"We almost spent about $500 on a wedding cake and then my fiancé decided that since we are not really cake lovers, we should spend the money on a dessert we enjoy. We scrapped the cake and instead paid the cater extra to present a dessert bar. It was such a delicious way to end the night and to be honest, nobody even noticed that we didn't cut a cake." —Danielle H., 29

3. The Photobooth
"I know everyone has a photobooth, but it was something we almost didn't do because it's an added expense, and I didn't think people would care to use it because every wedding has one now. I noticed, however, that it was such a good way to get guests out of their chairs, especially the ones who didn't want to dance. It was also a great icebreaker for guests who didn't know each other and just met that night." —Sarah P., 27

4. Bottles of Water
"We did bottles of water with customized labels on them for our party favor. So glad we spent the money to do that. Everyone is thirsty leaving a wedding. They don't care about anything else or any other kind of party favor. They will take the bottle of water, and they will drink it." —Marissa B., 30

See More: Got a Little Room in Your Budget? Wedding Planners Say You Should Splurge on These Items

5. An Extension With the Venue
"Our wedding should have ended at midnight. At around 11pm, everyone was having so much fun. Nobody wanted to leave. We didn't have an after-party or anything planned, so I spoke to the venue owner and we got to keep the party going until 2am. Of course we paid a pretty penny to make that happen, but it was surely worth It." —Jessica V., 31

6. A Videographer
"The one thing I'm glad I did for my own personal wedding, is pay for a videographer. I was so busy the whole night and having someone videotape every moment was the only way I could recap the night knowing exactly what happened. It was cool seeing things I missed and remembering moments I enjoyed." —Barbara C., 31

Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.

4 Expert-Approved Rules for Deciding on Your Wedding Budget

 Budget, Wedding Budgets  Comments Off on 4 Expert-Approved Rules for Deciding on Your Wedding Budget
Oct 042016
 
Wedding Budget Planning Advice

Photo: Getty Images

There is a great debate when it comes to figuring out how much money you should withdraw from your savings account and spend on your wedding celebration. Your friends might tell you to spend as much as you want — and your family may tell you to be conservative (and then spend the cash on something more practical, like a down payment on a house). But if you are wondering what financial professionals would tell you to do, we're sharing advice on how much you should spend according to four financial planners.

1. Spend an amount that doesn't stress you out.
"There are many wedding expenses that you could look at cutting back on, such as the number of guests, food or alcohol. Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event, but that doesn't mean you should spend money that you don't have. Remember this is supposed to be a fun time. So don't let the money aspect take over and create added stress!" Rachel Cruze, a personal finance expert and #1 New York Times best-selling author.

2. Think about what comes after the wedding.
"Before they wed, couples should start their marriage off on the right foot by budgeting for their wedding and honeymoon. As a couple, it's likely that you have already talked about where you'd like to live, if and when to start a family, dream vacations you hope to take and when you might like to retire. By thinking it through and establishing a plan, you may be able successfully pursue your goals after your wedding." —Anna Colton, Merrill Edge Executive

3. Figure out how to break even.
"Determine the maximum amount of debt you can have by your wedding date to break even after the wedding. To do this, use a conservative estimate of what value gift you can expect to receive from a guest (varies depending on venue, location, relationship but let's assume $75/person). Knowing that some guests give much more, and some give none, it generally tends to average out. Take your total guest list and decrease it by 10 percent (e.g., 200 invited total, use 180), and multiply that number by the conservative gift estimate to get a sense of how much you can expect to receive from the wedding ($75*180=$13,500). Hypothetically, if you end up with a debt balance of $13,500 on the day of your wedding, you would be able to pay off the balance with gifts and be wedding-debt free!" —Stephanie James CFP, a senior financial advisor at Wescott Financial

See More: 4 Ways You and Your Fiancé Can Tackle Your Debt Before Marriage

4. Only spend what you have.
"Only spend money you actually have on your wedding, regardless of who is paying (bride/groom or parent's of the bride). If you need to finance the wedding via credit card or by withdrawing the money from your retirement account, you are spending too much." David Rae, a Los Angeles Financial Planner with Trilogy Financial.

Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.

How to Plan a Pinterest-Worthy Wedding for Less Than $15K

 Budget, Planning Tips, Wedding Budgets, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on How to Plan a Pinterest-Worthy Wedding for Less Than $15K
Sep 262016
 

Just because you're on a really tight budget doesn't mean you can't have a wedding that's really tight! You know, like super awesome — blogs are begging to feature it, your pictures get repinned on Pinterest thousands of times kind of style... All it takes is a little creativity, money management and insider secrets from the pros to achieve a Pinterest-worthy wedding for the books, not to mention for $15,000 or less.

Go thrifting!
Pop in at your local thrift shops regularly and keep your eyes open for unusual items, suggests planner Aviva Samuels of Heartland Celebrates. "Pinterest is all about sharing ideas and my best inspiration comes from keeping my eyes wide open for items that can be repurposed and cost pennies on the dollar. I never know exactly what I'm looking for, but whenever I scavenge my local thrift stores, I always come out with a clever new use for an item that would traditionally have been used for an otherwise simple purpose."

Scour décor from friends and family
It can't hurt to ask, right? If someone you know was recently married, they probably have some cool stuff they'd like to sell or give away, notes Samantha Gieseke, owner of Plan Our Day Houston. "Ask for unused boxes of candles, vases, lanterns and chalkboard signs."

Keep it small and intimate
Simply put, invite less people. Instead of having 150 guests, why not invite 30-50 of your closest friends and family, recommends Krystel Tien, owner & founder of Elle Bridal Boutique, Couture Events and Confetti Inc. "This way you can really make the event spectacular without having to sacrifice the look of the wedding for your budget."

Choose a naturally beautiful venue
The easiest way to save money on your wedding without skimping on the overall look, according to Chancey Charm Dallas wedding planner Liz Ise, is to pick a location that is naturally beautiful. "Lush gardens, sprawling ranches sprinkled with large trees or even a building with intricate architecture will need less décor, especially expensive floral arrangements, but will still give your wedding tons of visual interest."

Use plenty of color
Monochrome and all-white weddings may have been a thing for a few years, but when you cheat yourself out of using color in your décor, you increase your costs for flowers and lighting and décor in general, points out wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques. "Pops of color on simple things, like ribbons tied around dinner napkins, pretty table runners, etc., make things interesting to look at and totally Pinterest-worthy." We couldn't agree more.

Simplify guest tables
Have a big wedding party? Repurpose the bridesmaid bouquets as centerpieces by having your florist simply supply the vase, suggests wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. "To create visual impact without the higher cost of flowers, consider groupings of candles at various heights. The ambiance will be unforgettable," she says. For brides without a big wedding party, Deborah Lloyd, President and Chief Creative Officer of Kate Spade New York, recommends using bunches of tea candles to enhance your tablescape along with paper flowers en lieu of large oversized arrangements. "Not only is it a beautiful, personal touch, but everyone looks better in candlelight and guests can see across tables which inspires conversation."

Save with a signature cocktail
Open bar is great, however often costly. Pack a visual punch and satisfy your guests' taste buds with a crowd pleasing signature cocktail served up in a fun glass instead, offers Lloyd. "It speaks to you as a couple and saves on open bar fees." So basically it's a win-win!

Be flexible with your date
This can save you a huge chunk of change! Rachel Jo Silver, Founder of Love Stories TV, says to simply call the venue up that you're in love with and see what their rates are for a weeknight wedding. The costs may be significantly lower for a Sunday too.

See More: This Is the Most Pinned Wedding Dress on Pinterest

Hit up the dress sales
When shopping for the perfect wedding dress, set a budget and don't get overwhelmed by the "it's one day" or "once in a lifetime" cliché, warns celebrity wedding planner Michael Russo of Michael Russo Events. "Many shops have end of year sales, unloading last season's gowns. Great for you, they can offer up to 70% off!" You can also consider renting your dress and accessories or buying them secondhand; there are so many great online sites out there now to choose from.

Splurge on a great photographer
As Stefany Allongo, founder and chief consultant of The Majestic Vision, points out, the best photographer can turn a good wedding into a great wedding with the right angles and lighting. Amen!

Go green
Don't be afraid to use greens in your florals! Many brides feel that when they use greens instead of flowers for centerpieces it will look cheap, however, that's not the case if you're working with a talented floral designer, notes Jenny Orsini, Owner and Creative Director of Jenny Orsini Events. "Use plenty of natural elements that aren't as expensive as flowers." Voila, money saved!

Throwing a Destination Wedding? 5 Things Not to Waste Your Money On

 Budget, Destination Weddings, Honeymoons & Destination Weddings, Wedding Budgets  Comments Off on Throwing a Destination Wedding? 5 Things Not to Waste Your Money On
Sep 212016
 

Destination weddings definitely don't come cheap. So when you have the opportunity to save, we say take advantage, brides! From reception food and liquor to those wedding favors, here are five things destination wedding planners warn brides not to waste their money on.

1. Unnecessary shipping costs
In some cases you have to bring stuff with you or have them shipped, but the less you can the better, says Ashley Smith, a San Francisco based destination wedding planner and founder of BuzzWorthy Events. "For example, it may be difficult to source things on site, like a nice linen." She does, however, recommend trying to source a local person to make them for you if you can't find what you want. The hassle of dealing with customs and shipping fees can cost you thousands. Smith has even had people ship items only for them to get held up in customs and arrive the day after the wedding. Yikes! "Be smart about packing and again only bring items you really need at the wedding."

2. Oversized favors or welcome bag items
Whatever you do, don't stuff your guests' welcome bags with big things they'll have to accommodate in their luggage on their return trip, warns wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques. "With luggage fees rising, many will try to get it all into their carry on. That means they can't even transport liquids like local honey, hot sauce, etc. Give wedding guests consumable gifts (cookies, bug repellant, sunscreen, etc.) that they'll actually use while they're at your wedding destination and nothing will go to waste."

3. Expensive shoes
If your wedding is on the beach or in a grassy area, don't invest in expensive shoes, advises destination wedding planner Michelle Fage of Paradise Planning. "So many times I've had clients with gorgeous shoes that look great in photos but they're not safe to walk the aisle in," she notes. So keep your comfort and safety in mind when deciding on your wedding shoes.

See More: 9 Destination Wedding Planning Tips You Haven't Heard Before

4. Importing food and liquor
Oftentimes, it's a disaster just waiting to happen. Bottles of expensive liquor have been broken in transit, and food can perish, points out Smith. Rely on what is there, even if your location is not up to your standards, she suggests. "It's part of the vibe and it will be okay!" Malone totally agrees. "If you're getting married in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, for example, serve Caribbean lobster, not something imported from Maine. Not only are locally sourced proteins and vegetables friendlier to your budget, they'll taste fresher than something that's taken two or three planes to get to your destination." Truth!

5. Cutesy extras
Be flexible, smart and forego some of those "cute" décor items and unnecessary extras. Make sure everything at the wedding has a purpose or will be useful at the event, instructs Smith. "For instance, having a million favors (or ones guests will probably toss anyway) might not be the smartest move. Instead prep a useful welcome bag with local items for your guests on arrival." And remember: anything you ship, bring or buy should add something to the big day. If it doesn't? It's not worth the cost, both money and time.

How to Get A Sick Deal on Your Dream Wedding Dress

 Budget, Wedding Budgets, Wedding Dresses  Comments Off on How to Get A Sick Deal on Your Dream Wedding Dress
Sep 192016
 
How-To-Get-A-Sick-Deal-On-Your-Dream-Wedding-Dress.jpg

Photo: Getty Images

If you're like us, you're always on the hunt for a good deal. And when it comes to your wedding, the more money you can save (without sacrificing style of course), the better, right? We certainly think so. Of course, one of the most important elements of your big day, the wedding dress, is likely to set you back. Fortunately, we've got the inside scoop on how to score a sick deal on the wedding dress of your dreams, courtesy of a few fab bridal salon owners and experts who so graciously let us pick their brains. Here, their tips for getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to your wedding dress.

Shop trunk shows
Stalk your favorite bridal designer on social media to find out where they might be having a pop up trunk show in your area, suggests Lacy Pool, buyer and stylist for Serendipity Bridal in Austin. "Typically, boutiques will extend a discount and often offer free customizations at these, such as true to fit length. This will save you some serious coin with dress alterations." Lace and embroidered or beaded trim can cost up to $600 to hem, she notes, so if you have the opportunity to cash in on this added bonus during a trunk show, definitely take advantage.

Hit up end of season and sample sales
Divisional Merchandise Manager for Bridal, Lingerie and Flower Girl at David's Bridal, Lori Conley, tells us one way brides can score a great deal on their dream gown is by shopping end of season styles. "Retailers are looking to make room for their next collection of gowns and will often discount previous season's looks at a high percentage of the ticket price." Another way to keep your dream dress under budget is to hit as many sample sales at your favorite stores as you can, says Pool. "Don't worry if you're not sample size. Anything too big can always be taken in, and if you're a bit curvier than the sample, creative seamstresses can work magic by adding fabric, corset backs and other simple solutions to get a great fit!"

Buy during summertime
Psst! We'll let you in on a little secret brides-to-be — did you know that sample sales are seasonally timed in the summer, which is traditionally a bridal shop's slowest period? According to Malinda Macari, owner of Your Dream Bridal in Sudbury, MA, it's true. "Be strategic as to when you buy your dress to take advantage of these discounted collections," she advises.

See More: How to Get the Custom Wedding Dress of Your Dreams

See if you can purchase the sample
Many stores will sell you their sample piece off the floor, and sometimes at a discount, reveals Carrie Huyett, Designer and Owner of Carrie's Bridal Collection. "This helps the store move inventory, and you could get a great deal. It also saves you on shipping costs and rush fees." Speaking of rush fees, she urges brides to always order at least 6-8 months in advance, at a minimum. "If you wait too long, most designers and retailers add on extra costs."

Can't snag a dress deal? Consider renting your accessories
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you simply can't get a decent deal on the wedding dress of your dreams. However, you can cut back in other areas, like the accessories for your gown (which you should calculate into your dress budget anyway). As opposed to purchasing, consider renting items like the veil, jewelry, or a chic headpiece, suggests Brittany Haas, CEO and Founder of Happily Ever Borrowed. That way, you have more wiggle room in your budget to splurge on the dress.

Rent the dress or buy it secondhand
Get last season's look for way less by either renting your dream wedding dress or purchasing it secondhand (AKA nearly new since it's only been worn once, right?). "Sites like Borrowing Magnolia, Nearly Newlywed and PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com all offer fabulous deals on bridal gowns," notes Haas.

6 Ways to Save Money on Your Honeymoon — No Matter The Destination

 Budget, Honeymoons, Honeymoons & Destination Weddings, Wedding Budgets  Comments Off on 6 Ways to Save Money on Your Honeymoon — No Matter The Destination
Sep 162016
 
Money Saving Honeymoon Tips for All Destinations

Photo: Getty Images

It's no secret that planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time is a huge hit to your wallet. The good news is, there are ways to save your precious hard earned cash and still have a honeymoon to remember. Follow these 6 steps to save money while honeymooning, regardless of where you travel.

Make Your Own Mini Bar
It's no secret that alcohol is expensive. Avoid spending excess cash on pre-dinner drinks or nightcaps by creating your own little bar in your room. You can either pack the booze to bring yourselves, or buy it in town. Either way, it's guaranteed to be cheaper than room service or hotel bars.

Charge Wisely
By booking with the right credit card, you can rack up and redeem travel rewards that will either save you money for your current trip, or your future one. For new customers, many travel reward credit cards offer sign up bonuses good towards flights, hotels, and more. Others offer bonus reward multipliers any time the card is used while traveling. Regardless of the program, it pays (literally) to find the right card for you and utilize it.

Book Smart
Many honeymooners opt to use a travel agent to book their trips. Travel agents are professionals, after all. Through connections and perk programs, many agents are able to organize special "bonuses" and gifts for the newly married couple at resorts worldwide. If you opt to book on your own, be sure to price compare often, research the best dates and times to book flights and travel to your desired destination, and research travel protection/insurance and price matching options, too. The more informed you are, the more you can save.

Shop like a Local
Avoid grabbing snacks and groceries from in-hotel shops. Head in to town for some necessities, toiletries, and more. By shopping where the locals shop, you can avoid paying for price increases aimed at tourists, and get way more for your money. (Tip: Stock up on waters, granola bars/ breakfast bites and coffee as these are the most often needed and over priced.)

See More: Can We Set Up a Honeymoon Fund Instead of a Traditional Registry?

Skip the Souvenirs
Unless it's something you see yourself needing, using, or really, really wanting for years to come, don't buy souvenirs. Your memories and photos from the trip will be all you need for warm and fuzzy feelings, decades to come. It's too easy to spend hundreds of dollars on things that will stay in a drawer or cabinet when you return. Shop smart, not impulsively.

Use Public Transportation
Private cars and transfers are luxuries and convenient, but in most modern cities and travel destinations public transportation can save you a significant amount. Be sure to do your research and speak to resort staff for more information on safety, procedures, cost, etc. Just be smart — don't just embark on public transport like a local pro without first knowing your stuff, and if it's safe. Download Google Maps and use the offline feature so you don't get lost!

BRIDES Chicago: Here’s How Much Your Wedding Venue Should Cost

 Budget, Chicago, Local, Planning Tips, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on BRIDES Chicago: Here’s How Much Your Wedding Venue Should Cost
Aug 312016
 
chicago wedding venue costs

Photo: Greyes Photography

Getting married in the Windy City? Chicago is full of absolutely stunning venues, from the Adler Planetarium to Salvage One to The Field Museum. The city's mix of modern, historic, and architecturally unique spaces give every couple a wealth of options to choose from, and can fit in with all sorts of themes — and budgets. So how much should venues on the coast of Lake Michigan cost? Katie Kozlowski, senior wedding & event planner for Bliss Weddings & Events, let us know what Chitown couples can expect to shell out for their wedding venue.

Hotel Ballrooms
Rather than a rental fee, hotel ballrooms have a food and beverage minimum that couples have to meet (or exceed) in order to use the space. "Packages at different hotels range from $140 per person to over $300 per person, with a total minimum ranging from $20,000 to $60,000 before service fees and tax," says Kozlowski. Sounds like a lot, but the great bonus is that the house selection of tables, chairs, linens, dishes, glassware, and kitchen equipment are all included. "But read the details carefully. City taxes, service charges, and administrative fees add up and need to be budgeted for before you sign a contract to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road!" Kozlowski explains. Want different linens, a creative charger plate, or upgraded chairs? These rentals will add an additional cost to the bottom line.

Lofts and Blank Spaces
Chicago is full of unique blank space venues, ranging from intimate urban lofts to dramatic historic buildings. "The range in prices is just as large as the range in options!" Kozlowski reveals. Venues on the lower end might start at $2,000, but more popular venues cost between $7,000 and $10,000, and larger civic buildings could range from $12,000 to $17,000 — and that's for just the space! "You'll need to hire a caterer to bring in the food and beverages, as well as kitchen equipment, bars, tables, chairs, and place settings," says Kozlowski. "Your wedding planner can also help connect you with some more of the creative pieces you're looking for, like lounge furniture or unique dishware. Catering (including rentals and staff) runs between $150 and $250 per person but, says Kozlowski, "Each venue (and your personal tastes) will play a role in what that final number comes out to be. And don't forget to budget for gratuity!" You'll also want to read the fine print for fees like engineering, union rules, security, and other add-ons that aren't covered by the actual rental fee.

See more: Plan Your Nuptials With the Best Wedding Planners in Chicago

Restaurants
If you're thinking of having your wedding in a restaurant, you've got two options. The first: Private event spaces. "Many restaurants in Chicago have spaces separate from the main dining room that can accommodate up to 75 guests (with a few offering space for even more!)," says Kozlowski. This could include a separate entrance and restrooms dedicated to the space, or even a full separate floor and dedicated event staff. "There's no rental fee associated with these spaces, but instead a food & beverage minimum you have to meet, plus tax and a steep service charge." While it can be pricey, foodie couples tend to gravitate toward this option because they know exactly what type of cuisine they'll get, and can offer guests their favorite local meals.

"Your other option is a full restaurant buyout, which is fun for a couple who wants the 'restaurant' ambiance as part of their celebration," Kozlowski continues. "There's no shortage of amazing spaces to choose from in Chicago, and some restaurants can accommodate up to 300 guests!" The fee to rent the entire space will vary from restaurant to restaurant, but expect a food & beverage minimum of at least $60,000, plus tax and gratuity, for a five-hour event. "You'll want to consider the layout of the space, and work with your coordinator or planner to create a floorplan using the existing tables — remember that most restaurant tables seat 4-6, while most wedding tables often seat 8-10, so you'll have to be creative." But, Kozlowski explains, "The stylish décor, flattering lighting, and hip location can make a restaurant a very trendy choice!"

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