Posts Tagged ‘Budgeting’

How to Prioritize Your Budget for an Unforgettable Wedding

Monday, August 4th, 2014

unforgettable-weddingphoto – Phillip Wise Photography

Did you know American couples spent an average of $28,427 on their weddings in 2012, according to TheKnot.com, and that figure is already on the rise? Undoubtedly, getting married isn’t an inexpensive proposition and every couple wants the magical memory of their wedding day to last a lifetime. So how can couples have their dream day without flying 1,000 guests to a European castle or remote island?

If you really to create a truly memorable event, managing your wedding budget is key. Allocate your spending in terms of longevity. Attach larger amounts to the wedding elements people will remember or keep after the big day, such as quality photography. Additionally, catering and venue pricing can vary greatly depending on the season, particular week, day of the week or even the time of day. Ask your caterer about all of your options. Floral is another area where you can save. For example, arrangements and bouquets made from local and in-season flowers will be less expensive than ones flown in. More modern simplified arrangements can also cut down on the number of flowers needed.

Just keep in mind that the memories of some of these elements will be fairly short-lived, so think about prioritizing your budget in terms of the elements that will inspire the fondest memories and last the longest. One perfect example is bridesmaids gifts. You’ll want to ensure that your bridesmaids wear similar and appropriate jewelry, so it makes sense to invest a bit more in gifts that will last forever. You may be surprised at what you can afford, such as natural-color champagne diamond jewelry.

Natural-color champagne diamond jewelry from the Argyle Mine in Australia is available at many jewelry stores with prices starting as low as $150. Not only are they affordable, but these pieces make great bridesmaids gifts because they perfectly symbolize the beauty, rarity and timelessness of a lifelong friendship. Diamonds grow over millions of years and like a true friendship, last forever.

These gorgeous champagne hues from The Argyle Mine are exceptionally rare. For every one natural-color diamond (like, there are 10,000 white diamonds? Just as you may have many friends, true lifetime friends are rare. Bridesmaids assume a lot of responsibility and financial obligation during a wedding and a gift of natural champagne diamond jewelry shows your appreciation. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that Argyle Diamonds are ethically mined and that the neutral-color hues will work with any color fashion dictates over the years. For more information about natural color diamonds from The Argyle Mine, visit www.diamondswithastory.com.

Argyle Diamond Cross Pendant

Champagne and white diamond cross pendant. Fred Meyer, $399

Which areas of your budget have you found it easiest to save money in? Leave a comment below and let us know.

9 Smart Ways to Save on Your Wedding

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

piggy-banks-rev

Starting to feel the budget blues? As you’ve no doubt quickly learned, weddings can be very expensive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money on your big day. Here are nine money-saving tips to plan an amazing wedding without blowing your budget.

1. Rank your top three. Sit down with your fiancée and determine the top three or four areas where you want to allocate the majority of your wedding budget, such as food, photography and entertainment, for example, and then stick to them. This will help you cut back and save on other areas of the wedding that aren’t as important to you or that you may not really need, perhaps such as flowers or favors.

2. Set your guest list. If you set your wedding budget before finishing your guest list, you can determine where cuts may need to be made to keep things on track. Providing food and drinks for a large guest list can quickly become expensive. While reducing your headcount may not be the easiest task, it can often have the greatest impact on your budget. (Sorry, former co-workers from three jobs ago.)

3. Consider a wedding planner. While hiring a wedding planner may seem like an unnecessary luxury, it may actually be a money saver in some cases. Planners often have many tried and true connections in your area and know about off-the-beaten-path venues or up-and-coming vendors you’ve never heard of that can be less expensive than some of the usual suspects.

4. Choose the right venue. A more expensive wedding venue that already closely resembles your dream vision will often cost less than selecting a less pricey venue that looks nothing like you had in mind. If you have to bring in chairs, linens, silverware, glassware and décor, those additional costs can quickly add up. Oftentimes, an all-in-one ceremony and reception venue can also be less expensive than booking two separate locations.

5. Trim the bar. While your guests will love it, an open bar is often the most expensive way to go. Cut costs by serving just one or two types of beer and wine or a signature cocktail. Having just a few kinds of liquor on hand will go a long way toward saving overall costs. And as long as guests can imbibe, they won’t mind the scaled down options.

6. Pick seasonal flowers or go faux. To save money on flowers, select blooms that are in season, as opposed to ones that have to be grown in a greenhouse or flown in from another part of the world. Another option is to mix in beautiful silk florals along with live ones to cut overall costs, or even forgo flowers altogether.

7. Skip the giant wedding cake. Instead of spending a fortune on a large, multi-tiered wedding cake, get more mileage out of a smaller one- or two-tier decorated cake by supplementing it with a large sheet cake to add more pieces for guests to enjoy. Sick of cake anyway? Consider alternative options such as serving pie or setting up a yogurt bar instead. Another fun and affordable option is to create a dessert table with an array of homemade desserts baked by family and friends.

8. Consider alternative entertainment. If lively music isn’t one of your must-haves, forget the large band or DJ and save money by hiring a guitarist friend to play during dinner or your first dance. Another option is to create an iTunes playlist ahead of time and enlist a wedding party member to keep things moving when necessary.

9. Pass on favors. Are favors a lovely gesture if you can afford them? Yes. Will anyone really miss them if you don’t? Doubtful. Forgoing favors is an easy way to save money without sacrificing any wedding details your guests will actually notice.

Which of these tips will keep your wedding budget on track? Let us know below. 

 

The Top 5 Reasons to Insure Your Wedding

Monday, September 9th, 2013

 

dinosaur chases groomsmen wearing tuxedos

Hey, it could happen…

Health. Homes. Vehicles. We insure the most important things in our lives — the ones we truly can’t live without.  So why wouldn’t a bride and groom want to protect such an important day — their wedding day — from the unexpected? Wedding insurance may sound like a luxury you can do without, but that’s far from the truth. We teamed up with our friends at Markel Event Insurance  to share the top reasons to consider protecting your big day from the unthinkable.

Unreliable Vendors – Wedding vendors often require a hefty down payment when you book their services. This is predictable. What’s not predictable is when that vendor goes out of business or bails at the last minute. While 99% of wedding vendors are reputable and honest businesspeople, what happens when you book one who isn’t?

Illness – If you’re anything like me, you tend to get sick on holidays, birthdays and during other special events. Can you imagine falling ill on the day of your wedding? This goes for a parent or immediate family member of the bride or groom as well. A wedding insurance policy can cover the cost of rescheduling. Now that’s what I call a safety blanket!

groom broke his foot at wedding

Damage to Venue – Natural disasters are difficult to predict. Allow me to throw out a few possible disasters that could disrupt your festivities: A tornado takes out the banquet hall where your reception will be held, a tractor trailer truck plows through into your church rendering it useless or an earthquake damages a water line going into your rehearsal dinner site. As unlikely as these events may seem, they could happen.

Deployment – If you’re one of countless Americans making the ultimate sacrifice for your country, there’s always the possibility that military deployment could affect your wedding plans. Wedding insurers like Markel Event Insurance make sure that any non-refundable deposits you’ve paid are covered in the event you have to postpone your nuptials.

Wedding Insurance Liability – No one likes to think about what disasters could happen on the big day – so let Markel Event Insurance  do it for you. Consider the following:

  • - Your college roommate’s plus-one falls and breaks her tailbone on the dance floor.
  • - Your best man has one too many and causes an accident on the way home.
  • - A candle center piece damages the reception hall’s antique banquet table.
  • - For the reasons above (and more) many venues now require wedding insurance

None of these occurrences will end up being cheap to fix, unless you’ve insured your wedding.

wedding venue floods with brown water

Just as you wouldn’t sign your mortgage without having homeowner’s insurance, you should consider buying wedding insurance as a safeguard against failing vendors, illness and accidents. Wedding insurance policies start at $75 (your actual premium is based on the coverages chosen and your total wedding budget), and could save you thousands if the unexpected occurs. For a compilation of the most common FAQs on wedding insurance policies, click here.

Are you considering insuring your wedding? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.

9 Tips for Taking a Great Honeymoon on a Budget

Monday, February 4th, 2013

honeymoon registry travel

More and more couples are concerned with taking a honeymoon on a budget. Luckily, there are many ways to make that happen. You can have the honeymoon of your dreams without breaking the bank if you follow these tips:

1. Set up a honeymoon registry. Many couples live together before marriage and have set-up house and have most everything they need. Other couples may live independently and will have the challenge of merging two households into one. The challenge is deciding what to do with two toasters, two blenders, and two sets of dishes.  In these scenarios, the usefulness of a traditional wedding registry is limited. As an alternative or a supplement to a traditional wedding registry, many couples are using a honeymoon registry. Guests can contribute towards honeymoon activities that will help ensure a memorable honeymoon. Many couples value this type of special experience over more material gifts that they don’t particularly need nor want. For more advantages of using a honeymoon registry, click here.

2. Check out bed & breakfasts. A quaint B&B can be less expensive than a hotel in the same area, and a home-cooked breakfast is included. Typically rates are lower mid-week vs. the weekends. Many B&B’s will often have a “special suite” and may include a romantic canopy bed and a Jacuzzi tub. This is ideal for honeymooners.

3. Look at condos and villas. If both or one of you likes to cook, a condo or villa can be a great way to save on your honeymoon. With a fully equipped kitchen, you’ll be able to prepare many of your own meals. This can also be a fun time to cook with your spouse while sharing a bottle of wine.  The money saved by cooking your own meals will allow you to splurge on one or two nice dinners out without the guilt of spending too much money.

4. Shop for deals online. There are all sorts of great places to get deals online. Conduct an Internet search for food or lodging discounts in the city you will be honeymooning. For example, websites like restaurant.com can provide you with dining discounts, and hotwire.com can provide lodging discounts. You may be surprised to see all the options that you will help you save money on food, lodging, transportation and entertainment.

tropical beach honeymoon

5. Travel in the shoulder season or off season. In Florida, the off season is actually the summer, when most people never think of visiting. And yet during this time of year there is great weather throughout the state. As a result of fewer tourists and a lower demand, hotels lower their rates to attract business. The same is true with Hawaii. Most people flock to Hawaii during the cold winter months, not during the warm summer. Each destination will have an off season that is worth considering so you can score better deals on airfare, hotel rooms, and activities. Just make sure you research when the off season is at various destinations and coordinate it with your wedding and honeymoon dates.

6. Use air passes and train passes in Europe. If you plan on visiting multiple countries in Europe, an air pass may be ideal. It makes travel within the EU affordable.  Most of Europe has an excellent rail system that connects the major cities. So if you are visiting a country like Italy, you can purchase a Eurail train pass to travel throughout the country. Passes can be more economical than booking individual flights or train routes separately!

7. Get a cheaper room. Let’s be honest – luxury accommodations are nice, but they aren’t a necessity for most couples. But this is your honeymoon, so one strategy to employ is to book the least expensive room in a real nice hotel or resort. You then get to enjoy all the amenities that the hotel has to offer while paying a lower room rate. And your room will still be more than adequate!

8. Plan well ahead of time. Booking air travel and lodging 6 to 9 months before your honeymoon will save you money. Many of the automated pricing models are based on demand which is determined by the number of seats sold on a flight or the number of room booked at a hotel. If you book early and use an online discount service, you will save money. There are “last minute deals”, but you don’t want to gamble on getting the lodging or flights you want on your honeymoon!

9. Know your priorities. Setting a budget and sticking to it is all about prioritizing. Determine what is most important to you. Is it the actual destination, the amenities at a resort, a romantic suite, cultural activities, adventurous excursions, sightseeing, dining, or simply sitting by the pool with a cocktail? Put your money towards your top priority and cut back on the items that are less important to you. You’ll then get the most out of your honeymoon.

These nine tips can help you save money and still enjoy the honeymoon of your dreams… even if you’re on a tight budget!

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About the Author: Andrew Marino is the CEO of HoneymoonPixie.com, an industry leader in providing honeymoon gift registries for engaged couples.  Couples create their free honeymoon registry website and receive honeymoon planning advice and travel tips.  Andrew also serves as a contributing Senior Travel Editor.

How are you saving money on the honeymoon? Share your tips in the comment section below.

5 Free Things Grooms are Giving Away

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Scoring freebies for the wedding is every bride and groom’s dream, especially when the Big Day is averaging over $24,000. You’re pretty lucky getting married right now, since so many wedding venues and professionals are sweetening their deals by giving out incentive freebies…a free leather-bound photo album here (value $500,) a free cocktail party station there (value $400.) With so many freebies in the air, grooms are feeling mighty generous in giving some of them away. And who are the lucky recipients of these? The groomsmen.

groom giving giftWhen the guys have been asked to be in the bridal party, they’re often looking at some pretty hefty expenses when you add up travel and lodging for the weekend, the bachelor party, tuxes or suits, and more. From day one to the wedding day, the guys can spend several hundred dollars apiece…and grooms don’t want to wipe out their best friends’ and brothers’ finances for the honor of escorting a bridesmaid up the aisle and posing for photos. So they’re handing out some sweet free things to help cut their groomsmen’s costs.

Here are five of the top freebies that today’s considerate groom is happy to give away:

1. A free tuxedo. It’s long been a practice of reputable tux shops to grant a free tuxedo rental with an order of five or six tuxes. The shop intends that freebie for the groom, but if he has a best man or groomsman who’s cash-crunched, the groom is now giving him the freebie and the two of them keep that gift quiet from the other, paying guys. Happens all the time. One catch, though: you have to make sure the tux shop allows you to give the freebie to another guy. Some shops inexplicably have made this freebie non-transferable. So before you tell your cash-challenged groomsman that he can have your free tux, double-check with the tux shop to be sure you can give it to him. It would be awful if your best man thinks he isn’t paying that $99 for the tux (which is the national average cost, according to TheWeddingReport.com,) and then finds out at the last minute that he has to. You could, of course, write him a check or PayPal him, if that non-transferable thing pops up, which removes the dilemma. But the advice remains the same: check with the tux shop.

2. Free shirts. Since more grooms and groomsmen are wearing smart suits and ties to formal weddings, you could give your guys free formal shirts for their wedding day attire. Here’s how to score the freebies: Have you seen all of those Joseph A. Bank commercials with the mind-blowing ‘Buy one shirt, get four free’ offers? There are your four free, designer shirts for the guys. Department stores do it too, with a ‘buy one designer shirt, get one free.’ The guys get their $100 shirts for free, and keep them to wear to work and to other weddings. The same goes with ties for the wedding day. Brides and parents can help you stay on the lookout for ‘buy one designer tie, get one free’ offers. If you need a few more ties for work, you buy three and get three freebies. You were going to buy ties for yourself anyway. Groomsmen get the wardrobe boost as your gift, and their girlfriends approve far more than they would yet another engraved beer mug.

3. Free hotel room. Hotels often thank brides and grooms who book big, multi-room blocks for their weddings by giving the happy couple a free room or suite for the wedding night, (sometimes even for the entire weekend.) But if you live nearby and plan to spend that night at home — or in the free room given to you by the other hotel where you booked a room block — you can give your groomsman that free room, or three of your groomsmen that free presidential suite (value $750 a night. With wet bar.) This one you’ll have to discuss with the bride first, though. She might want the presidential suite for her bridesmaids, which means you’ll have to have a discussion. Then there’s the free night’s stay at your destination wedding resort that gives everyone the ‘book three nights, get the fourth night free’ freebie that counts for everyone. No discussion needed there.

brides guide to freebies book

Sharon Naylor’s latest book is all about scoring freebies for your wedding.

4. Liquor. All of those wine bottles you’ve had for a while in your wine rack, maybe holiday presents you’ve received that aren’t a type of wine either of you likes. Bottles of liquor you have in multiples. Brands of vodka that don’t thrill you. Or the good stuff you’ve been saving for a special occasion. You can give them all to the groomsmen throwing you a bachelor party, saving them tons of money and clearing out your wine racks and liquor stash for some fresh, new bottles. The bride’s doing this with her ladies, so why not share the booze-soaked love with your guys?

5. The thing won at the bridal show. You’ll feel a little better about being dragged to that fourth or fifth bridal show the bride wants to go to (we know you enjoyed the first one, with all that free food and the drinks!) when your raffle tickets win a free party bus for three hours, or a 50% off catering coupon, free cigar-rolling station or other valuable prize. If you and the bride don’t choose to use these things for the wedding, or if it’s a duplicate of something you’ve already booked, you can hand these freebies to your guys to use for the bachelor party. Again, see if they’re transferable, and even if they’re not, you just get it in your name and put it to use. Some vendors are offering amazing raffle prizes, especially at the higher-end bridal shows it costs money to get into. And your lucky streak with the drawings could net big-time freebies for your guys. A free party bus? The guys will love that. Especially if you bring in all that liquor from your stash, too.

And of course, if your groomsmen aren’t in need of freebies, all of these can be handed to your dad. He may be paying for part of the wedding, or hosting an engagement party, the rehearsal dinner and a wedding weekend party. Some freebies from you may be very, very welcome.

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