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Meeting your vendors can be stressful and overwhelming – generally, you don’t know what exactly to ask, contracts can be complicated, and pricing may not make any sense whatsoever. Creatives and wedding industry professionals who are used to the language and work flows of weddings and events can sometimes overwhelm potential brides and grooms, and sometimes you may have questions that arise throughout, but you don’t want to seem silly for asking (spoiler: never feel silly for asking a question regarding investments you’re making on your wedding day!). So, as wedding season kicks into full gear, I wanted to share some tips and tricks in order to have a successful vendor meeting.
First, before you even schedule with vendors, it’s best to know what kind of financial commitment you want to make for your wedding. Whether you decide that by looking at averages of wedding costs for your city or region, or by determining who is committing the funds to make your dream wedding come true, making a tentative budget or getting a ballpark amount for what you want to spend is key.
Once you figure out your budget, start looking at the style you want to convey – light and air with lots of greenery, or something more formal with a sit down dinner at a hotel, will help guide you to vendors who have those kinds of experiences and tastes as well, ensuring that your wedding day is consistent in all things.
My biggest piece of advice however relating to pricing, even when you’re reeling from the sticker shock or pleasantly surprised with a vendor’s pricing: keep in mind you’re not just investing in a final product after a service, but you’re also investing in a client experience. The money you are putting towards your vendors is a direct reflection on the product and experience you will have with that vendor.
What about when you actually sit down with a vendor? Of course, ask about experience, style, what’s included as a service and what is the client experience with them. But, it is to my recommendation to always ask about whether or not a vendor has a full contract, and if they carry insurance. With more and more venues requiring insured vendors (particularly with caterers), it’s important that the contract protects everyone’s interest, and that should the worst happen, liabilities are able to be covered and taken care of.
When you get to the portion of the meeting regarding deposits and retainers, ask about the difference and what is refundable or nonrefundable, and if the difference can be spelled out within the contract if it’s not already. A deposit, more often than not, can legally be refunded if service is found unsatisfactory or the event is cancelled unless it is strictly outlined as nonrefundable. It is so important for you as a client to be knowledgeable going into a contractual agreement. Ask if you can have a copy reviewed, or if they contract has been reviewed before. As always, it’s better safe than sorry.
Besides looking at making sure that everyone’s interests are protected and ensuring everything is in budget, there are key questions you should ask during your meeting. When you’re spending money and investing in your wedding day, you want to make sure that the people you’re hiring work well together and with you. Ask if they’ve worked with your other hired vendors or at your venue(s), but also learn about them as a person and ask what got them into doing photography or baking or planning weddings, what they do when they’re not working, and their favorite spots around town. Getting to know your vendors as people will help you build a relationship with them, and you’ll find that you have a better experience working with them in the long run.
So, in summary: research and inquire about pricing and availability, even in ballpark amounts, always ask about reviewing a contract and insurance, and get to know your vendors beyond what they do for you. Doing this will lead to better working relationship and a more satisfactory experience on your wedding day.
A margarita machine.
The quaintest church in the South.
And two people who truly, deeply, and without a doubt love each other.
Y’all know Mr. and Mrs. Martinez’s wedding way was lit.
You know that phrase about how when you talk about someone, your face lights up? Imagine beams of light coming from Jeremy when he talks about Morgan. Or the grin that turns into a full on ear-to-ear smile that fills up Morgan’s entire face. Yeah, it was — and is — magic.
In that still and settled place There’s nobody but you
You’re where I breathe by oxygen You’re where I see my view
And when the world feels full of noise My heart know what do do
It find that still and settled place
And dances there with you.
Edward Monkton, “That Still and Settled Place”
Candlelight and personal touches filled the Baton Rouge Country Club on Robert and Abby’s wedding day, with their favorite coffee as favors and an entire staircase lit up with floating candles. Soft, bright, and full of laughter, their day was surrounded by family and friends, and what a dream it was to coordinate for them!
Baked Goods: Ambrosia Bakery
Beauty: Verde Beauty Studio
Bridal Apparel: Blush Formal and Bridal Salon
Coordination: Poppy Lane Events
DJ: Geaux Live
Floral Design: Billy Heroman’s Floral
Paper Goods: The Keeping Room
Photography: Courtney Tate Photography
Rentals: Event Rental
Signage: Blooming Chalk
Venue: Baton Rouge Country Club
Hello, hello! Whew! We’re just coming back from our trip to Michigan for some much needed rest and relaxation, and per our Instagram poll, we’re sharing with you our tips and how-to’s on budgeting for your wedding day. This is a near and dear topic to us as planners, as creating a budget for your event is the most important factor in the planning process: without an established budget, the entire planning process will lack a level of control and consistency (that is, you will always be stressed about the costs piling up). We’ll be talking more so on how to create a budget versus what you can do to save money or get costs down, but we’ll be sharing our tips on that as well.
First and foremost, reach out to vendors. Might sound crazy, right? The fact of the matter is, weddings and parties are expensive. Having the Instagram worthy and blog published events you see generally are quite the investment, and above all else, educating yourself on the costs and investments you’re going to be making will go a long way in determining what is reasonable, overpriced, or too good to be true. Don’t be afraid to ask close friends and family about what they spent on various vendors, or ask for referrals, or ask that vendor you see in a Facebook ad what their average client spends on their services.
Because friends, when you’ve already given yourself hard numbers to follow before reaching out to vendors, you’ll more than likely fall over in shock in your seat. When you get a response back saying that the greenery installation along a mantle is going to be $1500, and that’s what you thought your whole floral budget would be, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Or when the venue you’ve been dying over Instagram starts at $75 per person with a minimum of 150 guests (and that’s not including bar), it causes a cold sweat to break out. Educate yourself on your region’s averages, or your dream vendor’s average, and go from there.
After your initial research, determine what is important to you for your wedding. Sit down with your better half, and put it into writing what is important, whether it's the venue versus the date, a certain photographer or more so a style of photography, food, entertainment, invitations. Prioritize where you want the money invested from your wedding, and then get ballpark quotes from those vendors. It’s not a quite a priority at this time to say you need X, Y, and Z, but by getting estimates that may be a little higher than what they will be in actuality will lessen sticker-shock and prepare you for worst case scenarios.
Determine who is funding what. This is a must have conversation with parents or anyone who has said they would like to contribute to the wedding. It is best to be blunt, and keep a written record of exact amounts or what vendors they are contributing to. Doing this will be awkward, without a doubt, but trust me when I say that making sure you keep everyone accountable for everything they commit to in the long run will be better for relationships with family members. Share what you have already collected from your research earlier, and be honest as to what costs are going to be for those vendors. Don’t be afraid to share that you would rather have this baker over another, or this time of year at a venue because it’s a different cost.
After this series of chats and talks, you’re going to feel the need to hard-core stick to your budget. I’m going to drop a bomb here, so brace yourself: don’t do it.
By forcing yourself to stick to a number, you’re going to be overwhelmed and find yourself cutting costs from unnecessary avenues (booking your photographer for 7 hours versus 8, renting table overlays versus proper cloths, etc). Setting yourself up to have leeway, spending between (for example) $30-35,000 versus just $30,000 without exception will give breathing room (and, referring back to those ballpark quotes you got form the beginning, prepare yourself for the investment of weddings and help with the unexpected costs).
Now that there is an understanding of what the important aspects of your wedding are going to cost, divide and conquer the rest of the budget with other costs. This is where an Excel sheet is key! You can also keep track in your wedding binder, or have your wedding planner keep track of your budget for you. I would also be sure to include when payments have been applied and when payments are due (and making sure your phone, planner, or agenda have it noted when these payments are due in order to avoid contract cancellations). More and more vendors are attaching late fees for payments not made on time – avoid the stress of doubling your bill with your team by sending a reminder several weeks before a payment is due.
So friends, creating a budget for your wedding educate yourself about the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and while you hold yourself accountable to making sure things get done, stay true to yourself and what YOU want. Planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming with the details and questions and dealing with family and friends as it is, and anything regarding money is bound to compound those stresses. By creating a budget and giving yourself the grace to have a range to stay within, you’ll be saving yourself the headache and worry of everything relating to money.
“Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” -- C. S. Lewis
Needless to say, Allison's favorite quote is a perfect reflection of her and Philip's wedding. Allison was a seasoned bartender at a local restaurant here in Baton Rouge when Philip was hired in June 2013, and the connection was immediate and electric. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Shaw Center for the Arts
Catering: Mansurs On The Boulevard
Coordination: Poppy Lane Events
Baked Goods: Gambino's Bakery
Bridal Apparel: Maggie Sottero Designs
Band: Nola Dukes Band
Floral: Billy Heroman's Flowers
Photography and Cinema: SB James Photography
Rentals and Design: August Events
Signage: Ettie Kim
“You are not the shiz, we are all the shiz.”
Here I was, in a room full of amazing entrepreneurs and creatives attending a conference, people nodding and saying “YASSSS” in agreement to words of an idol of the wedding industry, and while we were all full of life and vigor with bright eyes and excitement, I couldn’t help but pause for a moment. Not because I was so incredibly blown away by what the speaker was saying or the message of being humble and kind she was giving, because it was clear in that moment that nearly none of these fellow attendees got it. This was further cemented when mere moments later, as we transitioned into the styled shoot portion of the day, and the same folks were downright nasty to each other to “get their shot”.
It left quite the impression on me, that’s for sure.
It’s hard, I get it. I know we’re all competing, fighting for the same client in the same area. We’re pricing each other out, complaining about those who both charge way too low and take away all of the customers and in the same breath criticizing those who charge more for “the same work”. We are constantly saying “Yes! Community! Helping people out!” while at the same time snarling at each other to get the shot.
And I would like to say that I’m above this kind of behavior, but the fact of the matter is, I’m not. I’m just as guilty and I hate that I am. And as someone who also does this, I think I can speak for the majority in that we don’t do this because it’s intentional; if anything, it’s because of a horrible trait called jealousy. And pride. And the desire to succeed and work with our dream clients and do all the things we want to that we think others are doing right in this second.
When it occurred to me what it was that I was doing, it was extremely humbling. I was a pot calling the kettle black, and I wasn’t ok with that; I pride myself on a “do as I say, not as I do” kinda person, and it really upset when I realized otherwise. So, what did I do (and to be honest, what am I still doing) to combat this?
I help my competition. Intentionally.
I offer advice, peeks into how I run my advertising, thoughts and feelings of going with the Knot over Wedding Wire (which, Louisiana folks, absolutely put those marketing dollars into the Knot! More of our couples use it click-for-click), and what my workflows are. I have made genuine, real friends with these folks, going to coffee and having a movie night outside of traditional networking events (that’s right, like how seriously everyone else hangs out with their friends). We’ve referred work to each other, and when in a pinch, called each other for help.
It’s acknowledging that yeah, your clients have the same budgets and styles and are amazing people, but for some reason no matter how you study or research it, they went with someone else. It’s realizing that for you, your business, you have your clients that love YOU and appreciate YOU, and they have theirs. And it’s ok to know that they more than likely inquired with them too. These competitors and other folks do great work and care for their clients as much as you do. That’s perfectly fine.
Above all else though, I humbled myself. Yeah, of course I want the money from a booking (making a living is a big part of why I do what I do). But I, and you too, have to look at the bigger picture. There are more moving parts even outside of the sphere of competition and knowing that everyone has their kind of client, and clients have their kind of vendor. In the weeks and days leading up to an event, there’s a coordinator/planner hunting contact info down and settling timelines for literally everyone while a photographer is planning out how to get the most out of their hours and stressing over how quickly they can process images, a specialty rental company seeing a $500 linen was torn last week and how to repair it as quickly as possible for this week. It’s a firm understanding that you are not the most important person in the grand scheme of it all.
I humbled myself by remembering that I am but a small part in the process. My competition is a small part. The vendor I don’t particularly care for is a piece too, and the one that is my best friends IRL. We all contribute to make a moment in time happen, to create a feeling that couples generally only experience once in their lifetime. Holy cow.
We make that happen. Our competition makes it happen. How incredibly amazing is it that folks found a calling, discovered that is a calling, and you can relate to them in this way?
As this speaker said, we’re all the shiz. We do some pretty awesome stuff. Coming together with a team of vendors, or as a “vendor category” as a whole, to make magic happen and be a part of creating lifetime memories. Reflect on this consciously, beat down that little green monster of envy, and make the effort to be intentional and genuine in creating relationships within the industry. Because y’all, at the end of the day, it truly does foster a better community and a better wedding day for couples.
Congrats!!! You’re engaged! Right about now, I bet you're thinking “Ahhhh…now what?” (And I’m sure you’re seeing lots of advertisements right about now saying this too!)
Over here at Poppy Lane, wedding planning is viewed as a season of your relationship with your future spouse where you get to enjoy planning your marriage. It’s personal, fun, and intimate in a sense that the choices you makes are a representation of you and your significant other. Sure there are checklists, appointments, and added stresses, our team strives to make sure that you get to enjoy putting the pieces together; that is, not going crazy! That’s where we come in. And that’s how I can answer my above question on what exactly comes next for you and your fiancé.
After the glow of saying “Yes!” has set in, it’s time to buckle down and think about the team that it will take to put together one of the biggest days of your life. It’s researching, lots of reading (aka stalking, let’s be real here), and determining the investment you’re making into making sure someone meets not only your style and aesthetics, but is trustworthy and a pleasure to work with. While the word “invest” is a little strong here, it is certainly necessary: the guidance, the troubleshooting, and the nature of what planning work entails is worth every. Single. Penny. Why? Here are three key reasons as to why a team holds the utmost value for any couple beginning their wedding planning journey.
We anticipate needs and troubleshoot problems before they happen. Like many craftsman, it takes a knowledgeable and skilled team to be able to anticipate, adapt, and succeed through problems or issues before it’s noticed. Time and time again, Poppy Lane finds itself innovating and solving, and going above and beyond to keep everything as close as possible to perfect for our couples. Whether we are noticing a detail that isn’t just so, or making sure guests are enjoying themselves in a safe manner, we are the eyes as ears from beginning to end of an event to ensure that all memories are positive memories of your wedding day.
When it comes to having seeking guidance and insight at any point along the way, we’re there for you. As with most organized events, there’s usually a person in charge. Whether it’s a team captain, leader, or boss, typically someone is delegated to be in charge and for good reason. This person helps keep the rest of the team on track, motivated, and in the loop regarding the decisions being made and the status of the project. They guide everyone along, make sure the moving pieces are coming together smoothly and without fail, and hold all parties accountable. As a wedding planner, there’s an emotional connection between us and our clients, and while we certainly manage and assemble all of our vendors and important persons, we also become a shoulder to lean on and a source of information and comfort. We make sense of a rather strange and involved series of events and processes, and ensure the foundation of each wedding is set up to be a flawless celebration that you get to be present and enjoy throughout.
This is the start of forever for you and your other half; you’re ultimately planning a marriage, and we understand this more than anyone else. In every opinion shared and decision made, we are conscious of the meaning of this day for you. We constantly do a delicate dance between providing personal opinion and support and professional service and time. While we are here to first and foremost professionally serve you every step of the way in planning and coordinating your wedding, we do so with a friendliness and casualness that allows you to feel comforted, cared for, and at ease. We believe wedding planning is a fun and exciting time despite the added pressures and stresses; we are not a “do as I say, not as I do” type of group over here.
If you’re newly engaged or in the process of planning your wedding, we’d love to be of assistance to you. If you’re interested in setting up a complimentary consultation please do so here. We’d love to see if we’re just the team right for you!
We know that planning a wedding is stressful, and that there are a lot of places to start. It can pretty overwhelming pretty quick, and before you know it, you're a few weeks out and you're wondering if you're missing something.
Don't worry, we've got you covered.
We're sharing some tips and tricks today that we use for planning and keeping our clients on track of making sure all the details are taken care of!
First, prioritize what is important to you and your future spouse. Whether it's an important date, a special venue, or wanting to make sure that your guests have an experience, ensuring that you have your top two or three must haves spelled out from the very beginning is key to staying on top of wedding planning.
After you make your priority list, talk about budget. Talking money is always difficult, but giving yourself a range to stay within rather than a set amount (for example, staying between $25,000 and $30,000 versus a must have at $27,000) will not only give you wiggle room as needed, but it also gives you the ability to splurge and save in other areas. While you're setting a budget, don't be afraid to ask who is contributing to the wedding fund; again, it can be hard and awkward, but if you're honest and upfront from the beginning about what you both want your day to be like and what you would like the budget to divided up by, it will save you pain, stress, and heartache in the long run.
Another way you can save yourself from missing anything is getting yourself a planner. I would love to say "That's right, me!", but I'm humble enough to recognize that there's nothing quite like having a reminder set to your phone or having it handwritten in an agenda to make sure everything is complete and done. I love this one from Southern Weddings, and this one from Erin Condren. If you're not feeling like having binders and guides and papers everywhere (which is me, I can't handle having all the important things not in one place), I again recommend Erin Condren Life Planner, Day Designer (which you can find at Target), or a simple pocket planner that you can pick up at any Walmart, Target, or office supply store.
Want something more complete and in detail (a checklist, perhaps?)? Check out the wedding planning timeline we use for our brides over here at Poppy Lane Events, handcrafted for you to keep on track, streamline the planning process, and ensure you don't forget a thing.
What is your favorite tool for staying on task? Did you find it easier to have everything digital, or handwritten reminders? Did setting goals throughout the process help you? We'd love to know!
We all want a beautiful wedding. A day where all the details reflect you and your style, that tells a story, that has your guests experiencing the best night of your life with you. What the trick is though is how to have that kind of intentionality while planning, and making sure that this day truly does reflect you.
One of the first things that can help as you begin to plan is not to put a timer on yourself. The time crunch will come later, I promise, but relish in this season and allow yourself to enjoy being engaged and to enjoy the planning process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your wedding. Having the patience to look at options, to build your budget, to create your guest list, to find the perfect pieces to make it all come together, will allow your decisions to be more thought out and ultimately ensure that you get exactly what you’re looking for, and that you’re not compromising on anything relating to your big day.
Pick a venue that speaks you both of you. This might mean making your way across the state, or video chatting across the country, but your wedding venue sets the foundation of the rest of the aesthetic for your day. Though it can be very easy to get caught up in glamour to the style of a venue, you just also keep in mind the setting and the realistic size of your wedding. That is, having a small, intimate wedding in a hall that can hold 300 will more than likely not be ideal, nor would choosing a space that has many small rooms versus a more open space if you’re looking to create a bright and airy environment. Choosing it with the intention of celebrating you and telling your story is absolutely key in ensuring that your wedding reflects you as a couple.
Besides your venue, do not pick vendors based solely on their prices. I am not saying here that you should completely plan your wedding without thought to cost, but what I am saying is that just because a vendor may be cheaper (or even free) in comparison to another, consider the experience you want to have and whether or not you are getting the most out of your experience for your investment. Like your venue, your vendors help set the tone and are a reflection of you; in regards to vendors that you receive tangible goods from (apparel, photographers, baker, videographers, catering, paper goods), be especially aware that these are what you’ll have to remember from your wedding, and that these goods need to have the most care in their selection.
While you now may have the perfect setting and team on your side, also take into consideration your wedding party, and the guest list itself. It goes without saying that you want your wedding to be the best of days, and you want to be able to celebrate without worry of offending, hurting, or being otherwise involved in drama. With that, surround yourself with a group of men and women who support you, would hold you accountable, and who genuinely cherish your friendship. Sure you more than likely will have to include friends of your parents, plus ones, or others you may not personally know for the sake of politeness and etiquette, but taking the meticulous care to invite those friends and family that would contribute to your wedding day will complete the atmosphere that you created.
Finally, and most importantly, remember what you have at the end of it all. Once you say goodbye, the venue is cleaned up, and you’re left standing there, you are married. You’ve made a commitment to another person, another soul. Throughout the planning process and the season of engagement in your lives, it should be at the forefront that this is what matters most; that this marriage is what matters and what is being celebrated, and that this party isn’t for show. At this time, take the care to go through premarital or couples counseling in preparation for your marriage, and to make sure that you have those deep down, core value questions (if you haven’t already).
I hope these tips will help you as you plan your wedding with intention, whether it’s to make sure that it’s stylish and trendy or more heartfelt and personal, these suggestions will surely help you as you plan to make the most out of your wedding planning experience!
Based in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, Poppy Lane Events specializes in intimate gatherings and weddings with a focus on creating moments that will leave memories for a lifetime.
We have a passion for details, and know it is our purpose to bring dreams and visions to life for our couples, focusing on the celebration of life and marriage.
We love creating teams of like-minded folks
to make it happen, and we would be beyond happy to collaborate with you. Click here to contact us!