Tips for Choosing Vendors & How to Save Money On Flowers, Centerpieces & Decor | Wedding Planning

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Well friends, I can officially say I am getting married this year! It feels like just yesterday we had gotten engaged and we were saying to each other, “we have so much time to plan!” When in reality it’s been about a year and a half, and we are suddenly finding less and less time to plan.

As luck would have it, I have loved planning. I have found that I actually want to find time to plan. To be organized, to make spreadsheets, to research decor and flowers and dresses and everything else under the sun.

Budget for Your Wedding Wisely!

But the worst part so far? Budgeting. Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I like putting the numbers together and keeping them organized (I’m weird, okay,) but then seeing the numbers slowly add up - that part I don’t like very much. We are paying for the majority of our wedding ourselves, so I have found myself feeling very stressed about these numbers lately. Maybe it’s all the research and pinning I’ve done, which has led me to fall in love with ideas and inspiration for designs and decor that are not exactly cheap. Or maybe it’s my need to keep track of these numbers relentlessly (which I know I’ll be thanking myself for later.) Probably a little of both.

I knew if I wanted to stay sane during this process, I’d have to look for ways to put my wedding decor ideas into motion inexpensively. So, because I appreciate you all and want you to feel relief and a stress-free wedding planning process, I’m sharing a short but useful list of a few tips I came up with during my planning!

Six Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Look for the bulk and wholesale options.

Honestly, the idea of buying things like flowers in bulk scared me a little bit. I knew I’d have to buy them online and wouldn’t really know what they were going to look like. But after reading reviews and finding reputable distributors, I have begun to trust this idea. My favorite bulk source so far? Sam’s Club! Yep, you can get flowers in bulk from Sam’s club and save TONS of money.

I also found a wholesale distributor of greenery garlands, which is saving us hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Mine and my bridesmaids bouquets, the guys' boutonnieres, and all the table decor is going to cost us under $600. Granted, that means we will have to put the bouquets together ourselves, but that’s what your family and bridesmaids are for! I mean, have you ever put together a bouquet of flowers and hated it? Me neither.

Another option here is to go local and buy buckets of flowers from a flower farm. Your options may be more limited depending on where you live, but supporting local and having fresh flowers is definitely a win. These farms are usually a cheaper option for floral design too, if you don't want to do it yourself!

Scour thrift stores, antique shops, garage sales, estate sales.

I could not emphasize this one enough. I’m lucky that my mom and dad happen to own an antique shop and love thrifting, so my mom has been happy to collect different items for me for the wedding. But antique shops, thrift stores, and garage sales are accessible to anyone. The coolest part? You’ll find so many unique items that are impossible to find in a store. My mom found me tons of antique candlesticks for free, and they are so beautiful and unique. This obviously takes some work and time, but hey, this could save you hundreds. And don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help - most people are excited to help and may even find it fun! Also, remember that spray paint is your friend. Don’t pass up on an awesome piece just because it doesn’t match your color scheme!

Check eBay, Facebook marketplace, and Facebook wedding groups in your area.

eBay and Facebook are literal gold mines of wedding decor people are trying to get rid of. Ask your friends who have gotten married if they know of any wedding Facebook groups in your area - you might be surprised! If you're located in Western New York, there's this group and this one. And then after your wedding is over, use these outlets to sell your own decor and make a little of that money back for the honeymoon!

Consider the talents of your family, friends, and especially your bridal party.

As I mentioned in #2, many times, your family and friends are going to be more than willing to help you out. People generally love to be involved. For me personally, I found out my cousin used to be a florist, so now she’s going to do our bouquets (with my bulk flowers!) You probably have some artistic friends, which can come in handy more than you would think. Ask your friends and family for help, but be reasonable. You don’t want to ask your work friend to make 25 centerpieces the day before the wedding. And it’s always nice to give them a little something in exchange (pizza? beer? homemade art piece? handwritten thank you card?)

Pick and choose your flowers wisely.

Some flowers are more expensive depending on the time of year. Do your research and find out which flowers in your color scheme are available during the season you’ll be getting married. Those will likely be the cheapest, best quality, and they will still be beautiful!

Have a longer engagement.

When Don and I decided to have a long engagement, it was partly by chance. I knew I wanted a summer or fall wedding, and since we got engaged in late October, less than a year seemed too rushed. I wanted to enjoy the engagement, to take my time planning, and get my choice of vendors. And the secret benefit to a longer engagement? Money savings! We have found that if you book your vendors far enough in advance, many will either provide "early bird" savings or their pricing for the current year. Many vendors raise their rates each year, so getting on top of booking before the rates go up is an added benefit. On top of that, you'll have even more time to save money!

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So those are my tips for now! I’ve learned a lot during this wedding planning process and I’m so excited that I get to share that with you! If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below or feel free to send me an email. I love talking about this stuff!

xoxo, Amber

8 Tips for Deciding on a Wedding Budget

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Picking a wedding budget is one of the more difficult parts of wedding planning. Most people have no idea how much weddings cost and how much goes into a wedding, unless they’ve planned one themselves (and unless you're a wedding planner or were already married, you probably haven't!)

How to Pick Your Wedding Budget

But if you’re planning to have a ceremony and reception, it’s important to set a reasonable budget and stick to it, so you don’t end up in debt once you’re married. Money is one of the biggest causes of stress in a relationship and in general, so planning ahead and being reasonable is crucial to happy wedding planning.

Wedding Budgeting 101

Here’s some tips I’ve picked up on during the process of choosing our own budget:

  1. Consider who is contributing. Are you as a couple paying for it yourselves? Or is one or both family contributing? This will be the largest factor in determining your overall budget. Talk to your families separately to ease any tension and figure out who’s paying for what. 
  2. Figure out how much you and your spouse can save. Set aside a savings account that each of you will contribute to every week or every month. Determine how much each of you can afford to save (and don’t get too crazy - be reasonable!) You’ll be surprised how quickly your savings adds up. Get a savings account with a high interest rate to save even more!
  3. Decide on your priorities. Do you want to spend a lot of money on a formal venue or are you more concerned with food? Does a backyard wedding sound appealing or do you want a ballroom? Do you want custom invitations or will you buy them from an online store? These factors will drastically change what your ideal budget will have to be.
  4. Write out your guest list. Every person you invite to your wedding will cost you money. That’s why you don’t want to invite your 5th cousins (unless you’re close with them!) and all your friends from high school you haven’t seen in 8 years. The guest list is the main thing that will increase or decrease your wedding costs, so it’s important to only invite those who you really want to celebrate with you. Also remember, you can probably expect around 10-15% to not attend.
  5. Pick a time to get married. Some seasons are more expensive to get married during, just because they’re in high-demand. Saturday evening weddings are usually more expensive, whereas many places will offer discounts for Friday or Sunday weddings. Having an afternoon reception will cut down on bar and food costs, since the menus will be lighter.
  6. Don’t pay attention to average wedding costs. This one was a big one for me. I kept seeing the average wedding cost is over $30k and I knew immediately we couldn’t afford something like that. So of course, this was kind of stressful. But the reality of it is that the average is extremely skewed by lavish, expensive weddings or weddings in large cities. Some weddings in high profile locations can cost upwards of $75k! The truth is, most weddings are actually in the $10k - $20k range. Depending on where you live and what your wedding style is, this will vary greatly. Look into vendors in your area to get an idea of what you can expect to spend, depending on what decisions you make for venue, food, etc.
    1. Bonus Tip! Most vendors will need at least a rough guest count before they can give you a quote, so it’s important to work out your rough guest list before contacting vendors.
  7. Download a budget app. I prefer The Knot app to keep track of my budget and get an idea of how much I’ll be able to spend on certain things. I love The Knot app because it outlines every possible thing you’ll need - many things I hadn’t yet considered when setting a budget. It’s not just the venue, food, bar, favors, etc. There’s gifts for your bridal party, decorations, rentals, tips for vendors.. so much that is often forgotten. This will help put things in perspective when you finally settle on a reasonable budget.
  8. Be prepared for the unexpected. It’s a good idea to set a little extra aside in your budget just in case. Unexpected things happen all the time during wedding planning, and the more prepared you are, the less stressful it will be.

And remember, it’s not just about the money. You get the marry the love of your life, and whether that takes place in a court house, backyard, or lavish ballroom, the day will be perfect.

Modern Calligraphy for Beginners Workshop in Buffalo, NY

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Getting started in a calligraphy practice is the hardest part. How do you hold the pen? What is a nib and how does it work? Which materials are the best for practice? For finished projects? The best way to learn this and more is taking an in-person calligraphy workshop. I offer modern calligraphy workshops in the Buffalo, NY area.