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Making the Most Out of Meeting with Vendors

Randi Fracassi

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.

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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.

Happy planning,

Randi

Carolyn & Alex | October 13, 2018

Randi Fracassi

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Our Vendor Team

Baked Goods: JCB Creations

Beauty: Verde Beauty Studio

Bridal Accessories: Kendra Scott

Bridal Apparel: Miss Hayley Paige at Lotus Bridal

Floral Design: Pick-a-Petal Floral Design

Grooms Apparel: The Black Tux

Paper Goods: Paper Tie Affair

Photography: Art De Vie

Planning: Poppy Lane Events

Venue and Catering: Windsor Court Hotel

Videography: Wedding Films Solutions

Stephani & Patrick | June 9, 2018

Randi Fracassi

I give my hand to you with all my heart
I can't wait to live my life with you I can't wait to start
You and I will never be apart
My dreams came true because of you.

When Stephani and Patrick met, it wasn't quite love at first sight. It was, however, a little prick of awareness, a little "Aha, there you are" after meeting each other a few times, and then a "Let's do forever". Chic, classic, and so stylish, the Mathia's are a good time loving couple with the best group of family and friends. Stephani and Pat, it was such an honor and a pleasure to make sure that your wedding day was everything you dreamed it would be!

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Our Vendors

Beauty: Verde Beauty Studio

Bridal Apparel: Moliere Bridal

Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka

Candle and Lighting: Luminous Events

Ceremony Venue: Loews Hotel

Coordination: Poppy Lane Events

DJ: Countdown Sound and Productions

Floral: Herbivore Floral Designs

Grooms Apparel: Men’s Warehouse

Second Line Band: Lagniappe Brass Band

Photography: Studio Tran

Reception Venue: The Chicory

Creating a Wedding Budget: How to Stay on Track, Get Money, and Not go Crazy

Randi Fracassi

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.

Photography by Wild Wonder Photography, Floral by Hummingbird Floral Studio

Photography by Wild Wonder Photography, Floral by Hummingbird Floral Studio

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 vendorsIt’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.

Wait, what?

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.

Happy planning,

 

Randi

Allison & Donovan | May 13, 2018

Randi Fracassi

Over here, we're firm believers that home isn't a place: it's a feeling in our chest, down to our soul. It's a sense of calm and excitement all at once, a wild part soothed and yet lit up with vivacious and infectious spirit.

And y'all, what a beautiful thing it is to see a couple who have found home in each other. That support and challenge each other, and are shelters for each other's hearts. Allison and Donovan's celebration with their closest friends and family was truly wonderful, and we're so thankful we worked with them and their team of vendors to make their day so perfect. 

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Allison & Christopher | April 21, 2018

Randi Fracassi

When you know, you know. When Allison and Chris met during college, it was instant. A sweet girl from Louisiana, a bright eyed and down-to-earth boy from New York, a combination that lead them to New Orleans to celebrate the start of forever with laughter, dancing, and donuts (that's right here kids...if there's a better duo than Allison and Chris, it's Krispy Kreme and New York City policemen!). 

Captured so beautifully by Kaylie Martin of Kaylie Nicole Photography, and with floral and styling by Diane over at Fat Cat Flowers, their day was absolutely perfect. Cheers to many years, Allison and Chris! #WidmerTiesTheKnox

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OUR AMAZING TEAM

Photography: Kaylie Nicole Photography

Coordination: Poppy Lane Events

Ceremony Location: St. Louis Cathedral

Reception Location: Marche

Prep Location: Chateau LeMoyne

Floral Designer: Fat Cat Flowers

Entertainment: Luv Sexy Band & Kinfolk Brass Band

Beauty Team: Flawless Bride

Cake: Haydel’s Bakery

Donut Tree: Krispy Kreme Bakery

Invitations: Zazzle

Bridal Apparel: Allure Bridal at Ashley Renee Bridal