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:



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?


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 ....


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!