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#GingerGooseWedding at River Place

After more than a year in planning, with both of them living in Cape Town for most of that year, Heidi and Shaun’s wedding was simply wonderful, and with a bride as beautiful and as happy as Heidi, it couldn’t possibly have been any other way.

In case you’re wondering, their wedding is hashtagged in social media as #GingerGooseWedding because Shaun is a ginger, and Heidi’s maiden name means she’s been called “Snowgoose” for at least as long as I’ve known her. They even had a special ginger and gooseberry jam made up as their wedding favour!

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Planning this wedding with Heidi was extra special for me as Heidi and I have been friends for a few years, and my husband and I were guests at the wedding so I got to the bridal shower as well. Seeing Heidi in her gown for the first time gave me goosebumps! She looked incredible!

Heidi and Shaun both wanted a relaxed, easy going vibe for their guests, and they decided on a picnic with an exquisite choral and seafoam colour scheme lending itself beautifully to the spring weather!
During her planning, Heidi had several Pinterest boards that she used to document her inspiration for her wedding, and when we spoke to potential suppliers for decor, make up, hair styling and clothing, she included links to her Pinterest boards so that everyone could see what she had in mind. It was really helpful and I think there may be a few new Pinterest users as a result. 

Heidi and Shaun carried a Scrabble theme throughout their wedding, from their engagement announcement and their save-the-date, to their wedding favours, and even the wedding cupcakes! And they very cleverly saved themselves a lot of money by using electronic invitations, only making up traditional invitations for special family members.
Heidi also sourced several items herself while on a business trip in the UK, like the suits worn by the groom and his entourage, the tutu worn by her little niece and her divine seafoam green, Chantilly lace covered, high heel shoes!

The search for the right venue was over quite quickly. It couldn’t be too too far away, it had to be pretty, have good food, be able to do a picnic wedding and of course- fit their budget. Heidi loved River Place the first time she saw it, and as soon as Shaun was in Gauteng again they went to see it together and that was it. They didn’t look at another venue!

There was only one person Heidi wanted to see about making her and her bridesmaids’ dresses and as always, Marieks’ work was beyond reproach! There is never a stitch out of place and I am sure you will agree that the bride and her entourage look incredible! 

Then we started talking to decor suppliers, hairstylists and make up artists. Scheduling appointments for Heidi for her dress fittings, meetings, make up and hair trials, decor mock ups and so on was tricky as she was only in Gauteng once a month for a week – and she had  lot of work to do in that week as well so it wasn’t easy for her to get time off. But we did it!

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The ceremony took place outside, with a backdrop of origami geese framing the couple as they said their vows. From there the guests went to a huge lawn next to the Hennops River, set with picnic blankets, scatter cushions, bean bag chairs, picnic baskets, vintage decor, and cocktails in mason jars!

Heidi changed out of her gorgeous lace high heels into a pair of seafoam green Converse sneakers so that she could be comfortable on the picnic lawn and then the newlyweds were seated on a couch – which was how they met – and all the family and group portraits took place on and around the couch.

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As usual, when I am running around on the wedding day, I didn’t get around to taking many pictures at all, but you must click through to photographer Jeanette Verster’s blog and Facebook page to see how she captured the day. 

Second Shooter: Nicole du Toit
Venue: River Place
Cake and cupcakes: The Cupcake Lady
Bride’s gown and bridesmaids dresses: Marietjie Oelofse Couture
Decor and flowers: Authentic Events
Bride’s hair: Lasting Reflections
Bride and bridesmaids make up: Godiva
Ginger and Gooseberry jam wedding favours: The Good Food Company

Surprising Hidden Costs…

If you are planning on having a wedding cake with lots of tiers that looks gawjiss and divine and is just the most fabulous thing on earth, you may want to keep the following in mind.

Check with your venue whether they will charge you to cut it into pieces for you after you’ve done the cake cutting ceremony and had pictures taken! Some venues will charge you for this service.

This is one of the reasons cupcakes continue to grow in popularity.

Looking At A Venue?

As a wedding planner I am beyond particular, so when I am looking at a wedding venue I have a long list of questions I ask. Many of these questions will be answered in conversation with the venue staff, and some will be non-applicable for your wedding.

I must stress that if a wedding venue can not find the time to have you visit with a set appointment and someone to meet with, then you should remove them from your “potential venue” list. Any venue that claims to be too busy to be able to make an appointment to see you and show you around their premises clearly doesn’t need your money.

Here are the questions I ask when viewing a venue:

  • Are the candelabra included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Are there adequate bathroom facilities?
  • Are there enough chairs for the ceremony venue or will you need to hire more?
  • Are there other weddings taking place on the same day?
  • Are there restrictions for photography?
  • Are waiters and barmen included in the venue hire?
  • Can you get dressed on the premises, is this room included in the venue hire (if you’re doing everything in one location) and what time can you get there to begin preparation?
  • Can you spend your wedding night on the premises and is it included in the venue hire?
  • Can you use your own suppliers and vendors?
  • Do you allow candles and open flames (this also applies to fireworks, flying Chinese lanterns, candle-lit walkways)?
  • Do you have noise restrictions (this sometimes happens if residences have been built up around a venue since it was opened)?
  • Does the venue have a a problem with you bringing a coordinator with you (keep in mind that a wedding venue’s own coordinators are looking after the venue, not the bride)?
  • Does the venue have a coordinator you can work with (keep in mind that a wedding venue’s own coordinators are looking after the venue, not the bride)?
  • Does the venue supply a PA system?
  • How far is it from the ceremony venue from the reception venue?
  • How far is the parking from the ceremony venue?
  • How far is the parking from the reception venue?
  • If you’re thinking of an outdoor ceremony and reception, is there an adequate back-up plan at the venue?
  • Is confetti/ rice/ streamers allowed after the ceremony?
  • Is cutlery and crockery included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is decorative draping included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is it pretty enough to take photographs (try to visit the venue at the same time of year and time of day as you plan to get married, summer flowers and greenery are often gone in winter)?
  • Is it wheelchair accessible?
  • Is table linen included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is the clean-up fee included in the venue hire?
  • Is the dance floor big enough once the tables have been set up (5mx5m is usually enough)?
  • Is the venue available for your date?Is the venue big enough for your wedding (or too big)?
  • Is the venue easy to find?
  • Is there a generator?
  • Is there a minimum requirement for food and beverages, and are there consequences for not fulfilling the minimum?
  • Is there a payment schedule option?
  • Is there enough secure parking on the premises and is it included in the venue hire?
  • Is there space for the band/ DJ in the reception venue after the tables are set up?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • What is the corkage fee (a bottle of wine per table can be costly as you pay for each one opened and not everyone drinks wine, consider letting people order it if they want it)?
  • What is the expected turn-around time for communication during the planning process?
  • What time can set up begin?
  • What time does the venue close at night and are there overtime charges?

Apart from this long list, I suggest you ask for a sample contract to read through before they draw one up for you.

The Most Common Wedding Planning Mistakes

First and foremost- wasting money! The wedding industry is just that- an industry. The people in that industry are there to make money- so whether you’ve hired a wedding planner and a caterer and a coordinator and a dressmaker and… and… and… or you’re doing it yourself- don’t let anyone con you into spending money where it’s not necessary! Being a sucker and being open to suggestions are two very different things!

The second very common blunder, is forgetting the meaning of the word “budget”. Remember how you calculated everything ever so carefully when you started planning- make a budget and stick to it! Don’t overspend on your dress or the bridesmaids’ outfits and then throw costs put the window when you run short on the catering budget!

The third thing is losing perspective. Keep in mind what’s really important to you. So don’t sweat the small stuff- I mean, how vital is it to have pink arum lilies if only white is available… will your day really be totally ruined?

Fourth on my list is a “lack of personality” on the day! By this I mean that the whole wedding is completely devoid of the couple’s own personalities! I’m not saying you HAVE to have a themed wedding… but it happens especially when the couple hires a planner to do EVERYTHING for them without any input from the couple. This is after all one of the most important days in your life as a couple- it should reflect your life.

Fifth- not involving your groom to be! To some people it sounds a bit silly, but more and more husbands-to-be actually want to be involved in the planning, especially so it can be special for both of you! Its important to talk to each other regularly about what you’d both like for your big day.

Sixth… the wrong master of ceremonies! Just because great aunt Agnes is footing the bill for the caterer as a wedding gift doesn’t mean her Wesley should be made MC as a thank you! Being the MC is a very important job, and the person to handle it should be someone responsible and someone who can handle public speaking! Hiring a professional MC is a very good idea.

Number seven. Being inconsiderate, and yes, I’m very serious! Think about what you’re expecting your wedding party to do for example, have you been clear about your expectations about level of commitment? Are you going to make your guests stand and wait for you for hours after the ceremony because the park that’s just perfect for your pictures is a forty minute drive away?

Number eight is a BIG no-no (and this is especially for the groom-to-be since he’ll probably be with close friends), getting trashed the night before! Make sure that whoever is planning the bachelorette or bachelors party understands that the night before is out of the question. Believe me- the last thing you need is to wake up with a headache, puffy skin, fuzzy head, or worse, an upset stomach.

Ninth on my list is forgetting what a wedding really is. Most couples want a church wedding even if they’re not regular church goers, often a church wedding is wanted or organised for mommy and daddy’s sake… but the thing to keep in mind is that the ceremony is the most important part of the day!

Last but definitely not least, is number ten- thinking that “it will never happen“! Have a plan B! Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for if things go wrong- for example, if you’re getting married in South Africa’s wedding season there’s a good chance for rain, so make sure there’s an alternate venue if you want to get married outside! If you aren’t using a professional planner, then make sure someone you trust has a list of telephone numbers to follow up with the caterers or the florist at the last minute… you can even give someone a list of things to check, simply to put your own mind at ease if you’d like!

Are Disposable Cameras for Wedding Receptions a Good Idea?

Many wedding photographers these days charge extra to photograph the guests at a wedding reception, and some togs don’t cover the reception at all. This is understandable, if you take into consideration that photographing a wedding means a photographer will be working for up to 12 hours from start to finish! What this could mean is that you may not have pictures of the guests who shared your wedding day.

There are ways to get pictures of everyone- disposable cameras or photo booths being two options. Rented photo booths are awesome but they can be pricey, which makes disposable cameras look a little more appealing on a wedding budget. These days the disposable cameras aren’t hard to find, they come with built in flashes, they can be colour coded to your wedding décor, and you can buy them without breaking the bank…

But I think your money could be a LOT better spent elsewhere!

Here’s why.

First and foremost on my list- they are expensive in the long run. Disposables use 35mm spools and need to be handed in at a lab to be processed. Yes you can save some money by having the negatives developed and then putting the photographs straight onto a CD or DVD instead of printing them, but even if you got a good deal when you bought the cameras, it’s going to cost you several hundred Rand to have the cameras processed.

Then think for a moment about how many people don’t like to be photographed. In fact the majority of people will put something in front of their face or turn away and say no, especially if the camera is being held by the person sitting next to them at the table! This means a lot of the cameras will not be fully utilised, but the cost of developing them stays the same regardless.

Consider also, how many people at each table will know what to do with a camera? You are certainly not going to get professional quality pictures from your wedding guests; many of whom might not even own a camera of their own. Spending several hundred Rand on processing for maybe ten usable photographs is a little steep.

And then of course, there’s usually an alcohol factor to take into consideration at a wedding. Cameras will very likely be abused once people get a little tipsy!

And the most frustrating thing for me about disposable cameras, is that you won’t know what you have on these cameras until after you’ve paid to develop the spools inside them.

I’d suggest you rather put that money towards your honeymoon. Or, if you really want photos of your guests- and you can’t afford to hire a photo booth- perhaps you can ask your photographer if he or she can set something up where your guests can “volunteer” to be photographed and then you can pay a little extra for the photographer’s time instead.