Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Photographer Questions Part I: Pre-meeting

Here are some things that I think should be established before actually taking time out of your day to meet with a photographer.

1) Price. What is your price? How much are albums? How much for x, x, and x.
2) Time. How much time do we get?
3) Availability. Duh.
4) Mileage. Is your venue within their range or are they going to charge you for travel.
5) Work. This can be in the form of their blog if you haven't seen it or some recent slideshows. If at all possible, get a full album because the pics on their site, slideshow, and blog are all cream of the crop and doesn't get you the overall representation of their work.
6) If you're brave, Negotiate. I have negotiated with photographers before even meeting with them over the phone or over email. It can be done so it doesn't have to be done later.

1-3 you will most likely get in the initial email back from the photographer, but sometimes you don't. Some like to talk to you to get a sense in which case negotiations become a lot easier.

Don't waste time. Get the facts.

Calling you out!

I went off on a rant before about someone's professionalism here and after the meeting I am 100% we are not going with them, so now it is time to reveal who the vendor is. Drum rolllllllllll please....and the winner is: Zenia Photography. So I got to admit, I wanted this to work, but it just couldn't. I even got a little sneaky and ran a test. I emailed her with another email to see how long it would take her to respond now that she is off her "baby vacation" and she responded within two days. So not bad, not spectactular, but reasonable. I hear she is a nice person. I her she is girly. If that is your thing, then she is your girl. But don't expect lightning responses. Except to wait. Except to be left hanging. Beware. I warned you.

Also her pictures on her site are nice. Nice enough to warrant an interview. Then you see the whole thing and it falls apart. You can never judge a book by its cover, always ask for a full album to see everything!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I need help

I am starting to think that this is really becoming Mission Impossible. Our projections have us going past our budget by a long shot and even guests not showing up can't help us. It is all those extra things that are independent of the guests. So I started reading WeddingBeePro, yeah don't give me shit, and found that the avg wedding cost $15K in states. Ok this number is probably alittle inflated for Cali, but still, maybe 20K. So that is what we are trying to aim for. So this wed coordinator was trying to get vendors together so that she could do 15K weddings. I think I need to enlist her. There are things that I don't know, that my married friends don't know (esp my married friends) and that most people don't know that only the pros know. I have no qualms with paying the wedding coordinator 1-2k if she saves me 4-5k. I'll take that deal any day. Maybe it is time to give this person a call to see if she is remotely local to SoCal and have her start revamping our budget and expectations so that we don't spiral out of control.

Who needs a DJ when you got an iPod

So begins the search for the next vendor who would like to suck the money out of my wallet. This next vendor is the DJ. The guy who spins music or rather hits some buttons to play music from his computer. Can't I do that? Can't I just jack some mixes from the radio and mix them together to make one long ass track? I think I can. I think I can set it up so it looks like there is a DJ. Move the MC duties to someone else, like a cousin or friend or something. But then people wouldn't be able to get their requests in like "I Like Big Butts" or "Ice, Ice Baby" or "Rumpshaker" or the classic "Hoochie Mama".

I think the DJ is going to be more than I hoped for since we are pigeon holed into using a list. Well that is what happens when you got a cheap place, got to play by their rules.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

About F'ing time!

Seriously! Seriously? Seriously!

Yeah I know who I sound like, but seriously. I thought you died. I thought you went to heaven. Heck maybe you went on a world wide vacation. You don't email. You don't blog. You don't even phone. Where on earth could you go? Yes I know you are preggers and congrats to that, but you aren't giving birth or anywhere close to it, so why are you MIA. This is the modern world and you have a blog and a website so you must have a computer and an email program. Do you check it on a daily basis? I bet you do. I bet you check it 3, 4, or even 5 times a day. You are a professional right? Not an amateur I think. You will charge me money if I choose YOU, so shouldn't you impress me? Is business really that good? You make that much money that you don't want mine? I know you said that you won't be accepting new clients till Dec, but does that mean you don't respond till Dec either? I wrote multiple times on multiple dates. I even called. I feel like a stalker now. If I didn't like your work so much I would openly bash you twenty times over. Post after post about lack of professionalism. Maybe you should read the post about 3 old. Learn a thing or two. Take a hint. Improve.

Get this! I call and you don't call back. You email. Seriously? The only thing I got from calling you was that I learned how to pronounce your name. So you write, woo hoo! 9am meeting? At your place? Seriously? So now you don't write, don't call and I have to drag myself out to YOUR place early? And on a weekend when I should be sleeping in! Not even half way? You that lazy? Must be since you don't call or write.

3 months I have been in pursuit. Seriously? You better not f'ing disappoint.

Seriously?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Photographers going Dirt Cheap

I've got this phatty list of wedding photographers ranging from out of budget to in budget. I have left out the way out of budget because if you need that list then you are reading this for humor. So the question is where to you do find the dirt cheap photographers. Those photographers who will charge you less than $100 and hour. Where else do you go for cheap stuff? The Goodwill of the internet of course: Craigslist.org. Yes, hop over to the classified ads king of the internet and go to "For Sale" and search for "wedding photographer" or "wedding photography" and someone may pop up. Hey, if it don't work one week then try again next week. I did this a while back after I had exhausted my resources and didn't do it again until this week. In my search for camera equipment a wedding photographer with the right keywords popped into my RSS reader and the pictures looked good enough to warrant a look (I may also add that her price was pretty darn low also). So if you ever need to find someone cheap you might want to look at Craigslist.

Just another tip is that if you are looking for super cheap, check out your local photography, art or community college and post a listing outside the classroom door and some student who wants to build a portfolio may contact you. If anything they might give you a free shoot.

Also I don't recommend having a friend shoot your wedding unless A) you are dead ass broke and can't afford new shoelaces for your shoes in which case I don't know why in god's earth you are having a wedding that will put you in the hole FOREVER B) your friend is a studly photog who is offering his services as a wedding present in which case I want to befriend them on Facebook so hooooook it up C) your friend is a half stud who has done a wedding before and will willingly take the job knowing that he can't have fun at the wedding with his friends and will sacrifice his whole night of getting wasted on your dime for you D) well there is no D, so those 3 reasons are the only way I would let a friend shoot my wedding and so should U!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I just saw the best wedding cake ever!

ON TV!

Ok so it ain't a viable option, but seriously the best wedding cake ever was just on TV. It was in the new McDonald's commercial and made from Chicken McNuggets. You know how bad ass that would be. Just stick some fondant over it and bam!; you got savory and sweet! I was trying to find a picture of it, but I can't seem to find one. Someone has got to get me one. I bet all those stupid chicken mcnuggets would cost a bundle to build like a 4 tier cake complete with frosting to hold it together. I bet if I did that, I would get McDonald's to pay for it and supply everyone with some Lipitor because they are going to need it.

Why can't someone just endulge me and build that for me. I'll invite you to the wedding!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Professionalism

This post is for all those people looking for wedding photographers.

You can always distinguish a wedding photographer and how long they have been in the business or how much professionalism one has based on their mannerism and communication skills. I think it is very important for the photographer to exhibit some qualities of professionalism because it is that same professionalism that they are going to bring to the job. So bear in mind there are many things that can be deemed examples of professionalism, but these are some of mine that I am looking for and have found.

1) Responding to inquiries in a timely manner. If you are a professional wedding photographer who shoots digital you have one of thing: a computer (duh!) and you might have another: blackberry (or as like to call it some delicious crackberry). Both of which are hooked up email. If you are a pro with your own website, your website email is either hooked up to your webmail or outlook/thunderbird/stupid mac mail. Point is they are always hooked up to their email. So if you send an email asking for pricing, a week is a good amount of time for a response. If you want to set up a meeting, 48 hrs is a good response time. But no response is not a good thing. What is the point of posting the email address or having a form if no one is going to answer it? I have emailed tons and tons of photographers and yet I have people who don't respond. If they don't want the business, then at least respond saying so. Then I have 1 guy who responded with vague pricing and so I emailed him back and he dropped all lines of communication (I know he didn't die because he is still blogging [Matthew Saville Baldon you have just been called out!]). Respond to your damn email you high priced rip offs.

2) Follow up emails are always a pleasant surprise. I say surprise because not a lot of people do it. I mean I know for the top guys they get so many inquiries that they don't need all the business so letting it slide is not a biggy. You generally see this from the smaller fish who need to fill the books. This is a nice little thing. It would be nice to see the big fish do it because maybe they can send out some referrals if prices are too high or unavailable. It is always nice to get referrals from other people in the business because they know talent.

3) If meeting, it is nice to call if going to be running late. It is a meeting, it is an interview, so better to be on time. You want them to make as good of an impression on you as possible otherwise why would you want to work with them.

4) A beverage offer is always nice. They should be trying to impress you and most of the time you are meeting them at a coffee shop or outdoor deli. They should offer to buy you a beverage. Meetings can go from 30 minutes to 1+hrs. During this time you might get parched and so it would be nice if you could have something to drink. Most big name guys do this because they know. It is the smaller guys that you don't get this treatment. It is what separates the pros from the wanna pros.

5) Show off your work. So maybe bringing a laptop is overkill but it is always a nice addition for someone to see your work. You should see an album at least. A plus would be if you saw a proof book to see the entire wedding so you can get a look at all the photos and not just the best of the best.

6) Post summary emails of meetings. We may not always be able to take notes during meeting or may not get everything so it is always nice to get this. We have met with 3 photogs and 1 has done this. This is very professional and gives a follow up to see if there were any unanswered questions.

These are just some things that I look at beyond body of work, price, and offerings. Most important is that you like the person and they have drive and motivation. Like they say you will be spending the most time with them and if you don't like anything about them, then cut them loose.

P.S. If you need a cheap, but good photographer, hit me up and I will send you some people who I think are worth more than their money.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Who doesn't love cake?

Some of the best things that you will do while planning for a wedding is eat. Yes, you will eat when you try out different caterers and also eat when you try out different cakes. What is the best part of this? It is FREE! Yes my favorite F word. FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE. So we went to go try out King's Hawaiian in LA. Since there is a Hawaiian bakery in NorCal and I am a frequent visitor of Hawaii, I think I have a good sense of what a Guava chiffon cake should taste like and for the most part, King's Hawaiian fails miserably. However I cannot blame this on their recipe. I blame this on their attempt to satisify the potential customer with a smaller nub piece that looks like it was baked for the same duration as a full cake except in a smaller pan. The cake was very dense and dry on the sides. They covered it with non-dairy based white cream to cover it up and it didn't help. We also had 3 other flavors: Paradise, Lilikoi (Passion Fruit), and Chocolate. What was weird was that Paradise and Guava were the nubby pieces that were dense and not very good. The other two were slices from a full size cake and tasted moist and favorful. We brought our friends who get cakes from King's Hawaiian all the time and they said that the little nubs is not representive of the cakes that you buy. Well I hope not, b/c it was the worst one I have had ever.

What is the best part of King's Hawaiian? It is cheap. Ok it ain't like Ranch 99 cheap but it is very reasonable. They also have this book of decorations that they do for free. They do charge for flowers, but recommend that we get our flowers from the florist. The only thing is that they use non-diary cream so you can leave the cake out for 8 hrs so you don't get fondant. Sometimes fondant just looks nice because it is so smooth, but hey, at least the cake is going to taste better than your avg wedding cake and for us that is more important. So for right now this is in the lead.

Now it is just time to go eat more cake for free.

PS. Don't get the coffee because it is bad. It is burnt, old, and just nasty.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So many weddings, all blend together

My fiancee asked me a pretty simple question the other day, "Who do you think looked the prettiest in their dress this year?" "Ummm....everyone?"

Seriously though, I could not remember what people looked like. All these wedding just sort of blended together after a while. I mean they are all special and if I actually think about it, I will remember each one, but thinking as a whole, I have no clue. I couldn't tell you how they wore their hair, what their dress was like. All I remember is that they wore white and looked pretty.

So I don't remember what they wore or even looked like, what do I remember? I remember two things: the food and the dancing/DJ. Shoot I can't even remember what events (ie slideshow, speeches, etc..) happened. But I can remember when the food sucked or the food was good or whether or not the DJ actually knew what a good song was.

I have pretty high hopes for our food, as for our DJ, I don't know b/c we haven't booked one yet (have to choose from a venue provided list), but I do know I am going to give him songs that I do not want to hear like "Celebration".

P.S. As I write this blog, I realize I can't write worth da sh!!. If this was class, I would totally fail my grammar portion.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Should pursue a vendor if they don't pursue you?

So I have emailed two photogs that I want to meet with. I emailed them a while back to get pricing information and started a back and forth with them a couple of times. Well then the line went dead. I was still collecting information and evaluating who we wanted to meet with. So now that we are all ready to meet with them, I sent them emails (b/c who doesn't check their emails) and now I never hear back. WTF? Do you not want money? So now should I email them again? Wait some more? Or just do it the old fashion way and call and ask where da F have you been?

This is how I view this. Sept is a slightly off season month. These photographers I am pursuing may not be full timers but looks like they want to be. So I would think most of them work little jobs not making any good coin so they pad the income by shooting weddings. Well why don't they take business 101 and if inquired, they shall respond. Hmm...what to do what to do...I will probably call them this weekend if I don't hear from them on Sunday because I want to meet with them and if we don't like them, then that just means a higher priced photog at my wedding and not necessarily better.

Blah!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Vacation from Wedding Planning

Man it was nice to get away and take a break from wedding planning. Basically went to the islands for a week and didn't do any planning. Zilch. None. My fiancee looked at some magazines and sites for dresses and caught on some blogs, but no talk of vendors, buying anything, etc... Man that was NICE! Take a break, it makes you come back more rejuvenated.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Groom and Bride Speech at Reception

Do you think the Groom and Bride should give a speech at their wedding reception?

Abso-bleepin-lutely!

This is my take on it. All these guests came from near and far to be a part of your wedding. They have given their time and their money to be part of a day that you deem one of the happiest of your life. They came to share in the moments that you two have created. The least you can do is say thank you. I have been to a couple of weddings where they have no done speeches. Generally full on Chinese banquet style weddings, they don't really say thank you in the form of a speech but that is because they are standing at the door the whole night saying goodbye and thanking you personally.

Why wouldn't you stand up and say thank you? Even if it is like a 1 minute speech saying, "We just want to thank everyone for coming." That is all that is required. What, that is like 10 seconds of hard work? Is that too much to ask. Is that you can give. You ain't going to say goodbye to everyone so might as well do a one shot deal.

So for all you people getting married, say thank you. Please. Because if you don't, people will just remember that you got married and you were ungrateful.

Michael C Events is our caterer

So I am going to give a shout out to our caterer that we hired last week. Michael C Events is new to the business of catering at only a couple years young, but I can tell by their business savvy and creativity with food that they will have no problem building their client list. There are two high school friends from San Diego. One was in the medical field and the other a chef. Both saw the opportunity to start a new venture and were brave enough to take it. Now I am on this 20K budget so unless I got the typical boring ass wedding food, there was no way I could do a sit down dinner which is what we really wanted. We also wanted food that not only tasted well but presented well. So we got quotes from 6K for boring food to 18K for nice looking food. Now, we had a few in mind, Passion Fruit Catering, Primal Alchemy, and Michael C. They all presented us with menus that were creative and sounded delicious. So what do you do with 3 caterers? You pit them together to a battle to the death! Ok not really, you essentially negotiate and pit them together in an auctioning format. Well Michael C blew us away with his ability to compromise with us to drop our costs substantially from where we started. This only made the tasting more pressure packed b/c we needed it to be good. And it was. It was really good actually and compared to a couple weddings that we been to, crazy good. One of the crazy things about Michael C is the lack of service fees. Now this already puts him lightyears ahead of the other guys charging anywhere from 8-18% in service charges and still expecting gratuities. Props! When you first talk to Michael you will notice a couple of things - he stays up crazy late (I think he sent us a proposal at like 2am) and he is willing to work with you. Another thing that I liked is that he sent a hard copy of the proposal with his brochure and stuff. Very professional.

So this is my little shoutout to our caterer and even though we haven't gone through our event, I can highly recommend him just based on our experience with him. Check him out!

Michael C. Events
Michael Compean
(877) 625-6453
www.michaelcevents.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

It is not Kosher to ...

wear a white dress to a wedding.

FYI This post is on behalf of women who don't like this.

From a guys point of view, we can give a flying u know what. But from a woman's POV, holy smacks. The shit hits the fan big time. So we attended out last wedding of the year and for the 2nd time of the year, someone decided to wear a white/off white/cream colored dress to the wedding. I am like whatevers, but my fiancee is like "Did you see that person wearing that white dress?" I am like "What, where? ohhh ahhhh." Yeah too bad she was more on the trashy side, but that is besides the point. So I thought she was the only one who actually knew of this little etiquette rule, but nope. The bride knew as well. Her candid response was "That bitch." And she went off on a rant, expletive after expletive. So to some people it does matter.

So after doing some "research" (like reading 1 site), I can deduce that the reason you don't wear white is because the bride is suppose to be the focus of the wedding and therefore the only one in white so can be easily spotted. (Isn't she suppose to be a big V if she is in white??) So I guess the moral of the story is just not to wear white. Don't steal the thunder just cuz you are lonely and depressed and will never have a chance to wear white at a wedding cuz you will never get married EVER and not even in your next life. Have a white dress that you want to wear to the wedding, well fix it. Dip it in cranberry juice, pour laundry detergent over it, roll in the grass, just don't make it white.

I have thought of some consequences to the women who wear white:
1) Bride calls you unthinkable names.
2) Bride shoots darts at your FACE with her eyes
3) Bridal party hates you forever (at least that night)
4) Photographer boycotts you from photos the whole night
5) U R NEVER FRIENDS AGAIN! BFF OVER 4EVR! (ok a little extreme)

Just don't wear white/cream/off white/bright white.

Please. If you want to live. Please. Just don't do it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Caterer Selected

So I flew into LA on Friday to meet with a caterer for a tasting. We were having the tasting at his business partner's house. If you have ever seen homes in San Mateo, CA, then you will understand this neighborhood. Not so nice outside, but all done up inside. It is like hidden gems. So we went through the whole tasting and the my biggest fear was that his food would suck. We have had the menu for a while and even though he changed it alittle, it was still A+. I know that he is just cooking for 2 people and the food is probably alittle more moist than it would be at a 160 person wedding, but I think it will be pretty damn good when W day comes.

So strike that off the list and I will blog about him later so other people can get into the mix. All I got to say is good food and great price.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do you actually do this mess everyday?

Wedding planning is suppose to be a long endeavor or at least that is what people think it should be. Should it? Not really. If the Groom was planning it, it most likely be done in like a week. Granted it might happen at your local town bar with people tossing bar nuts at you, but hey it will be done. My cousin planned her wedding in 3 months. Why do you need 1 yr+ when it has been shown to be done in 3 months. It wasn't not half ass wedding either. Had a custom dress, outdoor venue overlooking the Golden Gate bridge, huge Chinese banquet, cake and the whole nine yards. It was still probably one of the most picturesque weddings I have been to. So it can be done.

This brings us back to our original question: Do you actually plan everyday? Look at wedding stuff everyday? I must answer No and Yes. No I don't plan everyday. I think after we found our venue I basically shut it down for 2 weeks. This stuff is exhausting yo! Talking to people, emailing people, acting like they have a chance in hell when they don't. All that BS takes hard work and having to keep it on the down low at work. But alas I will admit I look at wedding stuff EVERY-FREAKIN-DAY! Now granted this gift given by the WWW and something called RSS Reader. So just by reading my RSS reader I also run into wedding blogs and wedding photographers that I follow. So I have fallen into the trap that I never would have thought. Going from a city hall wedding with no rings to someone who looks at the multi-billion dollar industry daily. They have sucked me in head first and it is like getting your eye stuck in a vacuum, it's never going to let go.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No more photogs to be found

I am officially out of photographers to find. I have found all the people that I possibly could have found with the resources available to me. I have found really good ones and really bad ones. Hopefully I end up with a better than good one for a great price. Only time will tell. Let the interviews begin!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Search for the photographer is still...

going on. I think my downfall is too much research. Just when I think I am done, I think, hmm...I wonder if there is more. So I search out for more. Find some through photographers' blogs and other site. I just went on the Wedding Bee boards and was referred to wedding wire. Crap, another source. So going through 160 photographers so far, I got about 10 that I would consider. Now off to the races again.

One thing that is good is that I will have a monster list of photographers that I consider better than just average and borderline pretty good where most of them are under 3K for the fixings minus albums.

The list will be another resource for budget brides in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wedding Photography, My Thoughts

After looking at the good, the bad, the new, the experienced; I have seen a few things that would make me more prepared to become a fulltime photographer. Here are my thoughts:
"Wedding photography is 50% composition, 25% post processing, 25% marketing"

You can always tell who is new by their web presence. Now a lot of photographers have BluDomain as their site creator and host provider. Ain't nothing wrong with that and it is a great way to get a web presence. The only problem I have with is the lack of branding. When you load a site you know that it is BluDomain by 1 of 2 things: there is a star as the website icon and the title of the page isn't branded. I know most people aren't the most web savvy, but you have to be in this day and age because people aren't going to pick up the phone book and call around for a photographer. People are not going to contact someone unless they know what they can do. Also, most of the top photographers have a blog. It keeps the audience engaged. You post the newest of the new and let them see how your style and skills are changing and improving with each wedding. This is a great tool to interact with your customer base. The best part of about having a good web presence to hide the lack of experience. If your site is crazy good, then people might think you are a seasoned vetern who knows what they are doing. For example, Jasmine Star, has only been shooting solo for 2 yrs, but her sites look like she has been doing it for awhile. Get some portfolio building shots from being a 2nd shooter with some of the big dogs and then use them on your site. Another thing is being personable. Everybody loves and remembers a photographers who gives the impression that you are inviting and friendly. They can get the same feeling through a website through videos or goofy pictures.

Another way you can tell is by the post work. The newer photographers can't achieve what the better photographers can achieve because their skills in Photoshop and Lightroom aren't as good. There are plenty of actions available to aid you in creating a style that will appeal to lots of customers. Spend the equity and by Kubota, Totally Rad, MCP, or Red Leaf actions. The creativity and time savings that these give you can take the presentation of your photography to a whole new level.

Composition is the key to a great wedding photographer. You either have it really good or you have it so so. Train that eye and you too will be pulling in 25k a wedding.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Do not use ...

Custom Caters and Catered Affairs

These two vendors gave us pretty reasonable bids on catering our wedding. Custom Caterers was actually lower than Catered Affairs although they used Catered Affairs' chef to cook all the food. So the deal is that Catered Affairs is a husband & wife team who main point of sale is Alycia Yescas. If you Google her, she comes up as a thief in one listing, pretty funny and that should have also given us a clue. Custom Caterers is some kind of splinter cell run by Nicole. So not only do they charge for tastings, I think $15 per person, the food sucks.

You meet them at Alycia's restaurant (don't know how that thing stays open) and she starts pitching you the concept and the idea, etc... Then the food starts rolling out, this is where the gets bad, more specifically, the food gets bad. My fiancee said that she had force the food down her throat and the bullshit into her ears. She should have asked for a refund. Actually she said that Alycia should have paid her for enduring the torture of the food. Can you imagine, you are eating this nasty nasty food and all the while Alycia is trying to sell it to you. Maybe Alycia should taste her food before she serves it. If it was a bad day, then it was a nuclear disaster. Hiroshima all over again. Stay away!

Sorry Nicole, your shop goes down with the big boat by virtue of association.

You got to be kidding me.

So during my time emailing photographers, I have gotten some big quotes and some more budget quotes. Some of the people that I have emailed I knew that they would cost a lot of money, but little did I know how much some of these photographers are charging. Here is a sample email that I got from one photographer:
Thank you for your interest in Joe's Really Good Photographers. As of right now we are available on 9/12/2009. We customize every package
after we discuss your needs, but just to give you an idea of our
services I'll list a typical wedding packages below:

Joe Photographer
Engagement Session
Rehearsal Dinner Coverage (up to 4 hours)
Wedding Day Coverage by Joe Photographer and 2 assistants (up to 10 hours)
The Japanese Album (100 images)
Online Proofing with Pictage
Bound Proof Books
Package Price......$25,000
So this guy charges more than my whole budget and his photos aren't even that good! Talk about bloody murder. I could hire 2 photographers from my top list and still come out ahead. What a douche.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Negotiating with Caterers

I must admit, I am learning as we go. I have no clue how much I can negotiate with caterers. I basically took their price and then filtered from that point on. If they were too much, then I moved to the next person. Well in comes a caterer that we put a deposit down to save the date. He gave us a fairly large bid and I basically discarded him, but he was persistent and agressive. So we switched from full sit down to a buffet in order for him to come more in line. Well the future Mrs went to an event for which he was catering for and he asked "What will it take for you to hire us?", so the Mrs' responded "I really want sit down and another hors d'oeuvre." And I put the rest down:
Caterer "How about if drop 1k off?"
Mrs "No"
Caterer "2K"
Mrs "No"
Caterer "3k"
Mrs "No"
Caterer "Ok, how about XXXX out the door"
Mrs "Ok"
Caterer "Ok I will draw it up"

So essentially the guy went down double digit percentage points in a matter of minutes. The question how much are these people really making.

So now I got one bid in that isn't your normal wedding food, but a little something more, but I haven't even tasted his food. So to not put all my eggs in one basket, I started emailing more caterers. They send me menus, prices, etc... and I just give them a quick glance, but don't really care about formulating a menu. Then I reply, I want this that this and that and want it for this price (of course less than the other guy) and wait for a response. They either say this is the best we can offer or actually beat it. Man now that I have a baseline, I can skip all the BS and get to the beef.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bridesharing

Over at Broke Ass Bride, she talks about the best idea ever! Bridesharing! What is it? It is a way to save phatty bux on your wedding. Essentially, chicks get together, talk about a possible style of decor for the wedding and then one bride has their wedding and then the other bride gets the stuff after. AWESOME! Can you imagine, half the cost, shoot get like 15 brides and you got 1/15 the cost! Money saving baby!

Compromising on Art

When you are on a budget, you have to make compromises. One thing I thought wasn't possible was to go under 5K for a photographer. I just thought that is how much it cost. The wedding photographers range anywhere from 6K-20K for your great day. Is it worth it? Hmm...maybe. Well because I am a cheap ass, no it ain't. But if I was Joe Blow Millionaire, then heck yeah I would drop some coin on Villa, Becker, the Bebbs, Jessica so some people like that.

So I have gone through Project Wedding, WPJA, WPD, and friends and come down to a list of 60 photographers that are acceptable and start within our price range. From that I am down to about 49, half of which haven't returned my emails, so say half of those are out of range, I will end up with about 30 photographers to choose from. From what I have been looking at, there is a complete difference between those who start at 4k to those who start under 3k.

After looking at over 100 photographers, once you hit their website you can just tell if they cost bux or not. Just the website is fantastic. The picture quality is great. It is in the details, got to tell you, it is in the details.

This is probably one of the better sites that I stumbled upon: Jasmine Star

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cutting out the fat

There are essentially 6 areas where I think you can save a buck, not a small one, but a big buck

1) Venue - everything starts here. The venue sets the tone of your wedding and also dictates how your budget will go. You may save money if you can bring in an outside caterer or be locked in with in house catering.

2) Caterer - this all depends whether you are using outside or in house. If it is in house then it is hard, but possible to negotiate the price. Heck my friend confused her caterer so much that they put open bar for the whole night for the price for 1 hr. Outside caterers you have more leverage. There are so many of these guys that if you find one who has good food and needs business then it gives you the upper hand on what you can get out of them.

3) Photographer - this is the next biggest piece of the pie. There are a lot of photographers in the business now. You can tell who is cheaper by how long they have been shooting. The goal should be to find the next up and comer person who has been shooting for a year or two so their prices are still low. Negotiate them down, rework the packages, anything to get some dough back. I have seen packages from 1300-20K, so there is a large spread there.

4) Florist - people can spend thousands on some old lady to arrange your flowers. Find an aunt, a cousin, a friend, someone who can help you out. Make an arrangement of 5 flowers or something. Flowers cost money already, but another body just adds to the heartache.

5) DJ - ipod weddings are the cheapest. Get your brother to be your MC. Anyone who is social and loud can be your MC and move the party along at a decent rate. They only have to stand up and speak like 6 times or something for the whole night. Then for the dancing, go by a mix off one of those peepz off the street for 2 bones. Dilemma solved.

6) Videographer - is this really necessary? For some people it is, so one way to save a little cash is to have them shoot RAW footage only and then have you cut and paste. With iMovie or some of these other tools, your 5 yr old love child can cut it up and give you a watchable vid.

A honorable mention is Alcohol, but really, would a wedding be any fun without the boos? People go to weddings for 3 reasons - free food, free boos, and what they did in "Wedding Crashers".

Barter for Services?

You think I can barter for a discount on someone's services. With photography, it is always about the latest gear, the newest body coupled with the best lens. Since lenses don't get updated that often, offering a photographer a lens to borrow doesn't really interest them. But if I could offer them a new body that they might not be able to afford, maybe they will entertain me? Say I was going to get the new 5D Mark II and offered to someone who only had the first 5D or even someone shooting with a 40D (I would never hire them). Maybe use it for a couple of months or a few months and give me 500-1K off?!?!?! Sounds like a plan. If you don't know what the new 5D is couple of check out this video by Vincent LaForet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Friends don't let Friends Photograph

I know this is the digital age with photography. Everyone basically has a camera. My 2 month old cousin has a camera, but keeps frying it because of all the drool. With a digital camera, a lot of people are getting into photography. Amateur photographers are taking pieces of the pie that used to belong soley to the professionals. As you attend more and more weddings, you start to see more and more Digital SLRs out and capturing memories.

This is why I wouldn't let friends shoot a wedding:
1) If they are your guest, then they don't enjoy the wedding because they feel that they have to impress you. Granted you may say that there is no pressure b/c I told them to relax and just shoot some of the moments and that the friend is still having fun. B to the S. If I were to shoot a wedding, I would totally feel pressured because this is your friends big day, the day that they hope only to go through once and live forever. That is a lot of pressure to capture those moments.

2) Most (almost all) friends don't have pro gear.
Photos just don't look good because they have an SLR with a kit lens. That stuff takes massive investment. You see pros with 2 bodies costing around 2700 each, one wide angle lens costing 1300 and another telephoto costing 1400. Then you got flashes one each costing 400 a pop. Just for the basics you are talking about a 8K investment. Unless the friend has money to blow, they ain't going to have all that gear. The right equipment shows.

3) On board flashes suck
Google it. On board versus external. Direct vs Bounce vs Diffused. Stuff makes a big difference.

Now your friends may get a lucky shot or two, but the pro will get like 400 or so.

Go pro!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Birds Nest

So subscribe to wedding blogs (yeah I know, I am not a fruitcake, just want hints, tips, savings, etc..) and this one blog StyleMePretty blogged about this veils I dub the "Birds Nest". Now I still think that these veils are pretty unique and pretty lame and I was already to write a nice little entry bashing them and who would want little bird chicks nesting in their hair and squirrels climbing up their dress b/c they thought there were eggs up in there, but then after Sat night, my view has changed. Not all are bad. Granted it takes someone who is chic and stylish to pull it off, but it can be done. For example:

Good

Bad

The 2nd one looks like you killed a peacock for the feathers. This isn't some tribal ceremony, this is the U S of A. Welcome to 21st century Pocahantas and meet your groom John Smith. I guess if you were a flapper and int he 50s, then this would be stylish and I wouldn't be writing this piece. I understand the world is trying to be Green, but just because you are cheap and serving that bird for dinner, doesn't mean you have to try to incorporate everything of it into your wedding. Sorry this ain't China and we don't eat dogs.

My friend wore the 2nd one as her veil. It was nice, simple and chic. I give mad props because she donned it and looked good. If you got the style and got the glam, then I say do the first one and keep the bird alive.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paying for Tastings

I do not think you should pay for tastings. I think it is their right as a vendor who is trying to get you to be their customer to try to impress you as much as they want and treat it as a selling expense. You may spend anywhere from 30%-50% of your budget on them, so why can't they eat $40 or $50 when they stand to make anywhere from 6-20K for one night work. They try to get you in two ways:

1. Outright tell you that the tasting cost money.
2. The tasting cost money but if you choose them they will deduct it from the total.

Both of these situations are uncalled for. They both tell me that they have so much business that to entertain us is more of a hassle than an honor. Now this may be the consumer side of me talking, but it is the consumer who chooses who caters the wedding.

Remember, you are in control, you make the rules. If they don't like it, then they shouldn't have your business.

Calling them out

Should I call out a vendor who I don't think is quite up to snuff?

Definitely.

The way I see it is that a lot people are trying to make this the best day of their life. They are investing their time and energy to check out these vendors and meet with them, correspond with them, and listen to them sell. When vendors do something that is not well, then of course you don't go with them. But if they do something that is memorably not well, then i think you should spread the word so other people don't waste their time.

In due time I will be calling them out.

Caterers beware.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rectangular is the new Round

I was having a conversation with some of my friends about our wedding and the seating charts, etc.. One thing came up was how do you place people who don't really know any other people. It is pretty tricky, which is why I would encourage them to bring a date so that they know someone. This lead us to the discussion about round tables. If you are at a round table, you can generally only have one conversation across the table at a time. People may talk to the people next to them, but generally only one conversation is going across the table. With round tables you generally see that there has to be at least 2 social people at the table. If they are no social people you got a bunch of people sitting there bored that they came and relatively declare it a "not so fun wedding". This is where rectangular tables come in. With rectangular tables you don't have to be as social really. You can really lean on that date that you brought with you. Also you only have to really talk to the 2 people on either side of you and the 3 people across from you. So you only have to concentrate on 5 people versus 9. I feel this makes it more relaxing and easier for guests to enjoy the wedding.

Now you may be thinking that we are going to have rectangular tables, but AH HA, that is not the case. We are doing round tables because that is what the place provides us with, but if we did another place with no tables, rectangular would definitely be part of the discussion.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What Invitations are your ideal?

So now that you got the venue, you have to start looking at other things to do with the wedding. One of the things that is quite appearant is wedding invitations because we get them all the time. What makes a good wedding invitations? My parents like the chinese ones with the gold letters, red paper, and double happiness sign. But we aren't doing a chinese wedding. So then another choice is the american style invitations. But we want to put a little chinese influence for all the guests. So what do you do?

I would like to have a wedding invitations on off white paper maybe with double happiness character in light red so it looks superimposed with indented lettering and some semi see through paper. Maybe add a bow or wrap around for more substance. All I know, our invitations are going to be the best, I just got to figure out how to do that.

Weddings and More Weddings and More

How many weddings do you go to? How many should you go to? Aren't they expensive?

Yeah that mess adds up after awhile and after you get engaged and planning a wedding, then you are trying to save money. The general thinking is that you go to that persons wedding b/c they are going to come to yours so anything you put out will come back. But what if you aren't inviting them? Do you still go? That is a tough one and the answer is....Depends. Depends what mood you are in, where it is, etc...

Let's put the count on: I went to 3 weddings last year, 6 + 2 addt'l receptions & declined 2, looking at 5 + my own for 2009. All and all we are talking about 15 weddings in 3 yrs.

Now say you give an avg of $100 per wedding in gift, spend another $150 getting there, talking about $250 a wedding or $3750 spent over 3 yrs. Man that is a lot of money when you are talking about it as a whole.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going to these weddings and seeing happy moments, friends, cake, etc... but sheit, somebody give a defibrillator and start my heart again.

Wedding favors: Do you really care?

As a guest do you really care if you get a wedding favor? They are usually cheap trinkets that nobody wants to keep anyway. Are you really going to put a candle holder on you table that says "Jess Hearts Nick" or drink out of cup that says "Bob & Jane XOXO"? For me you get two kinds of wedding favors: ones that you throw away or ones that the waiter throws away. Either I look at the wedding favor and if I think I may use it, I take it and then probably throw it away. If it is food, generally you don't eat till the end of the night because someone tells you it will spoil your dinner like you're 5 or the waiter starts chucking anything on the table because they want to get the F out of happytown. Seriously, I think I have gone to double digit wedding in the past 2 yrs and I have chucked everything. Even those damn truffles that I wanted to eat, the waiter ended up chucking them. WTF?

Unless you give a badass wedding favor, meaning greater than $2, then it just ain't worth it to do it. Let's allocate the money elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where would you get married if you had no budget?

Now that we have a venue, I can let my mind wander into the realm of "what if?". What if I had unlimited budget? Where would I get married if I had a choice? Well after looking at tons and tons of places, my top 5 would be these:

5. Disneyland
Who doesn't want to get married at happiest place on earth? Seriously wouldn't it be bad ass to get married at the castle or going down splash mountain? Your best man would be in a Mickey costume and your groomsmen would be Goofy, Donald, and Mr. Incredible. You can spend your wedding night in the castle. During dancing you have the best guest entertainment ever: a fireworks show choreographed to music. You can have the chipmunks serving your guests food. The cake can have mickey and minnie mouse toppers. Your guests can eat giant turkey legs and drink frozen lemonade. The possibilities are endless!

4. Guasti Villa
I never saw this place when I did my first initial looks until after we booked our current venue, but this place just looks nice. To be honest there isn't a lot of information on this place. I know it was built in 1923 and it is old. But from looking at pictures from other wedding photographers it looks like a hidden gem. Not only is not outrageously expensive, but the grounds look sprawling and appears that you will have a field day with different poses and setups to take some really really really nice photographs.
3. Villa Del Sol D'oro
Guns n Roses. Nuff said. If Axel and have his November Rain there then I can have my bad ass wedding there. I mean you can really deck this place out. Make your guests feel important by valeting them up and down the entry way with limos from the parking lot. Setup crazy crazy nice lighting outdoors and make it the most romantic place ever. You can't lose with this spot. Hey money ain't an object, so I'll take it for the day and for the night. Maybe even pay off the city to let me have the party go into the wee hours.
2. Mansion in Pacific Palisades
I blogged about this place before and all I have to say about this is that it is freakin awesome. I mean I might just have to buy this place and live in it. Can you imagine your guests walking through the entry way following signs to the back patio where the reception will be held and walking through the two columns and seeing the ocean. If I were a guest, I say "Wow! Bad ass! This is the best wedding ever!"
1. Walt Disney Concert Hall
So this is my number 1 spot. Not because of the location. Not because of the romantic appeal. Not because of any special meaning. Just because it is my favorite piece of architecture in Los Angeles period. Shoot I might have to say my favorite peace of architecture in California. The building is a work of art. It is art that we can go inside. Not only can you have a wedding in the courtyards and have the magnificent building as your backdrop, but you can also have a reception inside in their gigantic halls and rooms with super vaulted ceilings that just make it one of the best works of art there is.
Honorable Mentions: Getty Museum, Greystone Mansion, Oviatt Building

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Groomzilla eats Wedzilla for midnight snack

Where are the Groomzillas of the world. There is this blog called Wedzilla which of course is written by chicks. Why are there no dudes. Dudes may want to get all wedding out and divulge in all the wedding porn out there. Is it because we aren't all love-y dove-y and stuff. Not all ga ga over the wedding colors and little pink bows? Does our tone come off as being cynical because we aren't blinded by all the hooplah?

Yeah be scared! We are coming to EAT YOU!

Vacation Honeymoon Timeoff Out of Time

Some people go on their honeymoon for 7 days, 10 days, or 2 weeks. For all those who go for 3-4wks, I have 1 question for you: "Where da F do you get all those days?" Do you not work? Or tell your boss: "Boss, I got to get jiggy wit it and get IT out of my system, so let me go!" For me I take my vacation as soon as it comes most of the time. I can't help it, I am just the traveling type. Shoot I will even just take unpaid vacation just cuz they let me. I wish we could go travel for 3 wks because that would just be badass. Maybe we can, maybe we will, man I am going to be broke.

What is a large wedding?

By the standards that I was holding, I thought a 300 person wedding was pretty large. I think it would take quite an effort for me to get 300 people to a wedding meaning you really have to invite 360. Do I even know that many people? Probably not. I think the max our list was was like 260 and that was pushing it some. So when we were having a discussion during lunch about how many people were going to come to my wedding and I threw out 160, some people thought it was large. I thought it was medium since I already been to a wedding with 300 people. Then they started talking about other weddings, like weddings in India. A normal size wedding in India is ....

3000!

alksjdkldklhflhdfkldjal!kl1j1klj1!!lk1h1adkldaj! Are you serious? Yup. Cuz you invite like your village and then it is like so and so and family so you get invitations that are Yes and Yes +200 because they are inviting their village and little Timmy or something. They said that for a well to do business man you can get upwards of 5000 people. In that case you invite you village and their immediate family and then all the people that you have met at events over the 20000 years you have been alive and their pets and camels and donkeys and drivers, etc... But then again if you are having a wedding in India, I get the food costs like $1.50 but at least you get Naan.

Wedding Porn

Are you just sick of looking at wedding stuff? There is this site that has like 20+ wedding sites with what I like to call "Wedding Porn". You know all those flowers, arrangements, favors, little decorations that are oh so colorful and perfect looking. Makes me want to barf after a while. Where da heck is the ruffled up black roses that are thrown around in un-orderly fashion? Stop being so damn perfect cuz you are putting on the pressure!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Website Song vs. Our Song

Seems like I have struck a good cord with the song that I picked for the website. What goes into picking a song for a website? Do you want to put your song on the website? Unless your song is 3-6 months old and meaning you probably started dating 7 months ago (WHOA NELLIE! SLOW YOUR ROLL), then probably not. No one remembers crap from 6 months ago. You need to put a song that is in the now. That invokes some emotion, that brings out the love snappy person in you. Well this song doesn't really for me, but it is the song of now. It is nice and slow and uplifting and all that other happy googly eye stuff and it is like a "love" song because we are in LOVE.

What is our song? If you don't know, then you have to wait to find out. It is all happy and gooey and stuff.

I know what you are thinking: "BARF!"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Still over budget WTF?!?!?

So we got a venue at a great price coming with good amount of goodies and it allows us to have both the reception and ceremonies outside which is something we both wanted. Then I go and plug in the numbers and we are still over budget. WTF WTF WTF WTF It is a never ending saga. Someone shoot me please!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Website is UP!

Because I am cheap and wanted to get something up fast and that was in flash I turned to Wix.com for a free website. It has all the basic tools of adding sounds, pictures, and other stuff that I thought it was be good to get a place holder up to notify people of the date and place. More things will be added later, but for now, enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

We Have A Winner!

My fiance took one for the team and waited outside of Santa Fe Springs town hall starting at 3:45am till 9am to get the place and get the date. Low and behold she was the first one there and the only one there until another bloke showed up 15 minutes later wanting the same date! SUCKA! So pending any other complications or detours, the winner is ...

Clarke Estate, Sante Fe Springs
September 12, 2009

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cry for Help!

I was looking at Craigslist for mansions or houses or just spaces that we could possibly rent out for a wedding. Although we are set on going with one place, it would always be nice to have options if the price is right. So I put out a cry for help on craigstlist.

If you want to read it: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/rew/823183147.html
It says:
"My fiance and myself are looking for a very kind person to rent their beautiful home and garden for our wedding and reception. We are planning to have 160-200 guests at an afternoon through evening wedding ceremony and reception. We are planning for August/September 2009 and we will cover all expenses including cleanup. All we would need is the site to host our event.

*Preferably homes with a large yard.

Please email back with information/price/photos. We look forward to hearing from you!"

I basically copied it from another post. Let's see if I get some hits

Tommorrow's the Day

So my fiance is going to brace the elements and stand in front of town hall at 4am to secure a spot at our budget wedding venue on one of the 2 weekends that we can do in Sept. Hopefully this part becomes done and then we can move on to the fun part, the food.

Go Fiance!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Over Budget without even Spending Anything

I came to a realization that this budget thing is hard. I knew it was going to be hard, but it came out to be super hard when I put the numbers down on paper. You think you got the big expenses under control, but you don't. You think you remember every detail, but you don't. You try to over budget, but you can't. 20K budget? Yeah right. Try more than that. Where can you cut when you already put the cuts into the estimates?

Hmm...I'm screwed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Show me the Money!

Those of you who know me or do the social network thing might notice a couple of changes. All I got to say is "FINALLY!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Higher Higher and Higher

You know when you think your smart but not really smart and then your just dumb?

So I had one of those moments. My fiance checked out 1 venue and liked it. It had good and bad qualities but the good outweighed the bad compared to the previous sites she'd had seen. I also liked the place because it fit nicely in our budget because the site rental fee is low and they provided some stuff.

Then I sent her to look at a few more places. 1 was cheaper, 1 was about the same but still at our price point and then the last two were out of our budget but wanted her to check it out because they looked nice and I liked both of them. Man. Hit me with a bat right now and call me a baseball.

You send someone to a nice place not thinking that they may not like the nice place and then come back saying "This is it!". You're number crunching in your head saying, "How is this going to work? How is think going to work? A+B+C * X = AHHHHH".

See I thought I was smart and all I got was a big fat welt.

P.S. I thought I would post our finalist for venues but my fiance reminded me that they are a bunch of hungry hippos out there who will probably pounce on them and stealing them away from us. So to all you hungry hippos out there, get the hell out of Dodge!

Rather eat dirt

When does a potential caterer become a "Get me the hell out of here!" type of caterer? I guess it happens when they suck major. My fiancee went to a potential caterer's restaurant for a tasting of what she would potentially serve at our wedding. Now this tasting was for 2 people, $30, out somewhere where it is actually semi far which equals gas which equals more money.

So I come back from my dinner (Congrats Mike & Vicki) and bounce online and she proceeded to tell me that she ate "Poop" aka nothing special or so I thought. At first I was like "Ok, I can't remember if she was suppose to do something tonite, but maybe she went to some grassy knoll looking for some protein and found poop." Then I totally remembered, she had a tasting. So I proceeded to tell me how it was. "I should get my money back", "I actually got tired of eating it.", "I just wanted to leave." , "All I could think was 'Thief & Liar'".

So all and all it was a pretty bad liar. And the funny part is, is that the lady is pitching my fiancee about the food and how she caters parties in Beverly Hills and Malibu while my fiancee is trying to shove the food down her mouth without trying to gag cuz she was dying of starvation. I think if she was stuck on a deserted island with her food, she would eat the sand.

Moral of the story is...Stay away from .... email me if u want to know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brutal Truth

So I was searching the web trying to find budget wedding places and happened to come upon this blog, a $10,000 wedding, where she actually wrote to those people are renting those crazy as places I posted about (I did too, that is how I got those prices) and here is what they said:
"Guest Count: 125ish
Budget: weekend rental up to $2k

Details: I'm looking to rent a home for the weekend and also to hold a wedding reception in the backyard for 100 to 125 people. So far, I like Venice Beach CA Penthouse #0093 and Studio City CA House #0084.

I'm open to your suggestions as well. Thank you.

and promptly got schooled:

We have nothing at your budget for 125 guest for a weekend and I really do not know who would. good luck on your search. Maybe try a hotel or a park." - link
Bebworld be some bitches. Well at least they didn't waste any of her time or theirs apparently, but what do you expect from a company that advertises in Dubai.

Fantasy Land Part III

Get a load of this place. Some people just have too much and need to donate to my wedding fund.

3) Hidden Hills Mansion #0008
Description
This Hidden Hills CA. Gated Mansion (English Tudor, resort-style) Estate & Guest house: 6+ Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Living rooms, Lounges, Enjoy the beautiful old-world library. Fireplaces, BBQ, Kitchens, Pool, Etc. This Mansion is the ultimate for pampered living, events, productions. Have fun with friends or business clients in this extravagant 24 seat movie theater. For those who prefer to stay indoors check the ultimate fun playing game room complete with all of the major card table games, Arcade games and Slot machines. The Grotto swimming pool with water fall area alone features four full bars, two swim-up and two on land; a swim-up to the outside card and gaming tables or check out the four fire pits. Enjoy the hillside waterfalls both indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, Landscape and green and tree hills, with the serene sound of its many waterfalls heard throughout. Great views combines the calming sights and sounds of nature with top of the line entertainment, boasting a mechanical bull riding ring, sprawling equestrian facilities, including numerous Horse stables, and a regulation-size arena and observation deck; a full-size tennis court and viewing area; basketball court; sand volleyball court; outdoor shuffleboard court; and a life-size chess set. Walk up and enjoy the highest point of the property and sit in the sixteen person outdoor dining table, circled around a hillside fire pit, provides the perfect setting to take in the beautiful a hundred foot water slide on par with any slide you would find at a world class water park; a two hundred inch water screen with full theater surround sound for outdoor movie viewing; an outdoor living room complete with a giant fireplace; a state of the art outdoor kitchen and barbecue areas; and a sixteen hundred square foot grotto pool and cave area. Plus an eight hundred square foot, decadent wine cellar with in-cellar dining table in the wine tasting lounge room. For the comfort of event guests, beautifully crafted and decorated commercial restroom facilities were constructed including a men's room with twelve urinals and three stalls, and a women's restroom with nine stalls. The estate features many guest suites, each decorated with their own distinct style and d├ęcor, complete with top of the line audio visual systems, as well as maid service and room service. Equipped with a full workout gym and luxurious health spa, Security Guards at the Gates, Private camera surveillance all around mansion.
Just reading the description screams craziness all over town. I don't think I would have a wedding here but the phat-est party Hidden Hills has ever seen. Check out some of these pics:

Arial View of the place with volleyball court, cascading waterfalls, and tennis court

Mechanical bull to get the rodeo on. Add some Phil's BBQ and it is game on.

You like how these chicks are photoshopped in, losers

Think Kerri Walsh will come out and pat my bottom?

And you got to have a Grotto. Nothing leaves the Grotto.

Fantasy Land Part II


Recognize this place????

Maybe I can get the Walsh's to let me stay over. Brenda here I come!

Welcome to Fantasy Land

So we want are leaning towards a private estate. So where do you find private estates for rent that aren't necessarily wedding places? Craigslist. Craigslist Dubai to be exact. Maybe I should have gotten the hint when they are trying to rent out places in Cali to people in Dubai that there is no way in hell I would be able to afford on of these bad boys. Let's have some fun:

1) Pacific Palisades Mansion #16
Description:
This #0016 Private and Gated Pacific Palisades CA. 7,000+ sq. ft. Mansion with a round driveway, With one of the best Beach and Ocean and Island views in LA. This Palisades Mansion has Six Bedrooms, Five Bathrooms, Closet Space, Stairs, Living room, Lounge areas, Hallways, Kitchen, Dining room, Office, Garage, Jacuzzis, Enjoy the downstairs lounge area and Movie, Music, Game room with pool table, The lower Lounge has four TV's and one large TV screen with a full Bar. The outside has a large grass with high trees around the groups for privacy all around plus the great ocean views and garden, And the marble decks and patios with lounge furniture again with the great ocean views.
Sounds pretty damn nice to me. Check out these pictures:



Where da hell do I sign up? You know how bad ass that would be if you got married on that deck or even had the reception out there as the sun went down. Forget the caterers, call up a couple taco trucks to the spot and let's get this party started.

And now the sad part:
Price: $21,500/day

GET THE FUCK OUT!

Secret Venue


Potential, 3:30PM today.

Bell Tower Community Center

So I found this place by looking on some blog and some people were talking about budget places. So they rent out a ballroom and another company rents out the "Grand Terrace". Although we would prefer to have both event outside, sometimes you have to make compromises. I haven't fully done the numbers yet, but the place look like it could be affordable and fit in our budget. If it is done right, it could look really good.

"Grand Terrace" ceremony
Ballroom (use your imagination)


Caterers

You ever wonder if caterers actually listen to you? I have been trying to get some quotes from some caterers to see if bringing in an outside caterer would be cost effective versus going with some type of wedding package. So I put our event out there to see if I can get some hits and I did.

Well one caterer I talked to for about 15 minutes on the phone about the event and what we wanted to offer, etc... One of the questions he asked was, "What is your budget?" I replied, " I would like the food, service, rentals, and taxes to be 9K max." Albeit to my surprise I get a proposal from the caterer the next morning at $20,000.

WTF?!?!?!

Did he just not get what I was saying? Did he not understand? I have no clue, but obviously we are not going with him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wedding Bee

I created an account on this god forsaken site. All is lost.

Actually I needed to find out if anyone has had experience putting plexiglass on top of a pool to use it as a dance floor.

Venue Spreadsheet

So I posted on Wedding Bee. Yeah, I know, wtf am I doing on that mess, but I need to find a cheap venue, so you go where the people are. People were yammering on and on about how they have all this information and how they have spreadsheets, but no one shares it. They just like to hoard all this shit. My thought is, fuck the venue people who are ripping everyone off trying to charge 200 a head for dry chicken breast and crusty rolls. We need to bring the power back to the people and rein these suckas back in.

So I decided to share. All my hardwork. Actually well not "all" my hard work, but a lot of it. So for all those people looking for a place in LA and don't want to go through the hassle of going through all the wedding venue sites and actually want to find places they can afford, check out my spreadsheet. It doesn't have all the information but it has a lot so you don't have to waste your time talking to those bitches.

LA Venue Spreadsheet

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Clarke Estate

So my fiance visited the Clarke Estate today liked. Well she more than liked, which is a good thing. The place looked nice from the pictures that she took, but not as big as I envisioned.

Pros: reasonably priced, provide table, chairs, heat lamps, and up lighting, site coordinator

Cons: booked for Aug, first come first serve application basis so might have to camp out

I am glad at least she liked one place, so we have one if we want to go for it.

Stay away bitches, we are taking this joint! Fight you to the death!


Reception Area
Ceremony Area (don't mind the weird chinese person, she thinks she is in the olympics)
Shitter (got to have one of those)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arch Nemesis

So you ever have one of those friends who is not really friends with your sig other. People have those. Chicks hate on those girls who are friends with all the guys in the group, but the all the girls hate her. I wonder what they see that we don't, or maybe we just don't give a shit. Can't we all just get along? Bush doesn't think so.

So I am checking out my friend's guest list, the groom. And I am going through the list and i see written next to one chick's name "Arch Nemesis". I started busting up. That is the funniest shit ever that the bride put that on the guest list right next to her name.

HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA. It still brings a tear to my eye when I remember that. Fucked up.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Venue List Part II

The list has been chopped in half and being chopped by another half so that we can eliminate the true ones that we can't afford. At least now when I put prices and recommendations on something to see, she will actually go see it now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Venue List

So I have been creating this venue list with all the prices that I am getting from contacting these people and put every venue that we could afford in bold.

Well that shit ain't working. My fiance essentially didn't like any of the places that I picked, go figure. For me it isn't about what it looks like but rather how much it will hurt my pockets. For her it is what it looks like and if it cost a bit more, then that's the way it goes. Don't get me wrong, there are some bomb ass places that I would definitely like to have our wedding at, but I ain't made of money (more like I don't want to spend it on a depreciating asset aka wedding event).

So I decided to switch it up. I did all this work and you don't like it then this is what we do:
Go decide which ones YOU like and willing to have it at (lord knows I just show up anywayz) and then from there we will contact and weed out the ones that are out of our budget.

This should be fun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Double the size

I don't know if this a good thing or not, but my list is more than double the size of my fiancee's list. My list is 176, her's is 67. This is going to be a lopsided wedding. I guess I will give her our college friends.

Hmm, 243 is the total with about a 20% decline rate = 190. I wonder if this is doable.

Family Friends in Guestlist

What do you do with your family friends? They are technically your parent's friends anywayz. Do you allow them to invite them? Here is my logic. You invite your friends, then you pay for them. Makes sense. If you want to have your friends, then you can at least chip in and help pay for them.

Now if your parents are giving you money for the wedding and you are doing some 50/50 or 33/33/33 split your parents should be allowed to invite Ghandi for all you care. Weddings are not cheap and they do not save up to spend 10-20K on a wedding. They donate, they can invite. I have people who restrict their parents on who they can invite to the wedding. YOUR PARENTS ARE FRONTING THE BILL! Where else are you going to get a massive amount of no-strings-attached Gs from anywhere. The least you can do is show some respect and gratitude by letting them enjoy the wedding with their friends. Shit all the friends that they are inviting are all richer than your friends which = BIGGER & BETTER GIFTS. Do the math. You probably end up making out better anywayz.

Guest List

So what do you do when you are trying to plan a wedding. I have no frickin' clue really. What I do know is that I want people at my wedding for a reasonable price a place is nice. It is like buying people. I want this guy for $100. I want him for $75. I want him for $50. SOLD!

So I guess the first thing is to compile a list of guests. First off, my family is big. Now it ain't as big as some other families, but generally Cantonese families are big. My family was small and then they immigrated to America where you can have as many babies as you want. So the family decided to have kids, remarry and have more kids. Those kids all had kids who had more kids and more kids and it was just an endless parade of people. Am I suppose to know all these people? No. I hope not, because I surely don't. We get invited to weddings for people where is my dad's half-sister's son's daughter's wedding. Say what? How far from the tree is that removed. Must be at least 3.

So I started putting the list together and realize, damn, I could invite 200 people just by myself. The sad part is, I put people on the list and I don't know their last names or all their names so they get the label "1". I mean in our family, we grow up without the formalities of Uncle and Auntie because essentially every person we meet becomes our "Uncle" or "Auntie". Chinese people love to grow their family even though they aren't family. I guess it is a gesture of respect, but who knows why they want to be in our family, but as long as they keep giving me red envelopes I will call them "Uncle", "Sir", "Mao", "Holy Master", or whatever.

Man this list is growing fast. I am sure I forgot people. I hope my finacee's list is short.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Mission

You ever wonder if you can actually have a "budget wedding" anymore. To most people in major populated areas this can't really be done. Yet I have had friends who are on the opposite ends if the spectrum. I have had friends do weddings for 125 people for 7K and 100 for 12K and others doing 300 for 60K and 150 for 80K. Now granted the one for 7K was seriously out in the boonies, but you have to make sacrifices if you want people there and budget wedding. The norm most people tell me is that it is $200 per head for the wedding. So if I wanted 200 people, it would be 40K min. But I want a budget wedding. My budget wedding is 200 people for ...

...
wait for it...

...

$20,000.

Yup. That is right. $100 per head. Can it be done? Only time will tell.