Suffering from sticker shock? It might not be as bad as you think…

For the last month or so, I’ve talked about ways to make your wedding planning a little easier (Check out my posts about the dress, flowers, cake, and invitations). Today, I want to go over a few things that a lot of people might not realize.

Some of the major complaints I hear from couples afterward is that they were too stressed over minor details, or that they had too much to do the day of the wedding. A lot of couples wish that they’d hired a planner to just handle ALL of it, and Veronica did write about the merits of hiring a wedding planner a few weeks ago, so I won’t repeat what’s already been said. I’m going to go off my own personal experience here, and talk about using a venue that’s all inclusive versus hiring individual vendors for everything.

After picking a wedding date, I started calling a TON of venues in my area. As a florist, I was familiar with most of them, and knew several locations that I could envision my wedding taking place at. Everyone was all-inclusive, and to be perfectly honest, this term scared me. To me, it sounded like money. Lots, and lots of money. I broke out in a cold sweat when the first coordinator started going over pricing with me. $52 a plate. Each person that I was inviting to my wedding was going to cost me $52. I freaked out, and decided that this really wasn’t for me. I mean, with my family, and my husband’s family, we were looking at 200 guests, if not more. That would have worked out to roughly ten grand. Ten thousand dollars on what I was looking at as food and bottom shelf booze. Sounds a little insane, right? Wrong. What I didn’t think about was the fact that you’re getting way more than just food and drink for your $52. You’re getting SERVICE.

  • You’re getting the hall itself.
  • Most of them allow the ceremony to take place on their grounds, at no additional charge. Huge plus, since it’s expensive to rent a church.
  • Given that most of these places were country clubs, they were beautifully landscaped, and there was no need to go off location for photos. Another huge bonus, and time saver. It also saves a little money, if your photographer charges more to travel to another location.
  • All of these places have an event coordinator, so even if you don’t have an actual wedding planner, there is still a person at the hall to help you out with coordinating other vendors and any issues that might pop up.
  • It does include your food and drink.
  • It includes chairs and tables. Seriously. Some off the wall halls don’t have these available, so you have to rent them.
  • Someone on staff to cut and serve the cake, so you don’t have to bother Aunt Fran with this task.
  • They. Clean. Up. …this one I cannot stress enough. You come in, you party, you leave. Priceless, in my book.

Now. I decided to be stubborn, and not pay a huge sum of money for my guests, and this is what I had to do instead:

  • We had to rent a hall to get married.
  • We had to rent chairs for my guests to sit on at the ceremony.
  • I wasn’t fond of the idea of all of my wedding photos being taken at the plain halls, so we traveled to a different location for photos.
  • We rented a hall for the reception. They DID have their own tables and chairs, but they weren’t that nice. And we had to set them up, and take them down ourselves.
  • We bought all the food (yes, for 235 people), AND cooked it.
  • We had to transport the food to the hall.
  • We had to make sure we had enough crock pots and serving/warming trays to accommodate the food.
  • We had to serve the food.
  • We had to buy all of the plates, silverware, napkins, cups, etc.
  • We had to buy all of the beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). That’s a really fun guessing game.
  • We had to hire a bartender.
  • Everyone looked at each other when it came time to cut the cake … we had no one to do it for us.
  • AND we had to clean up immediately after the reception, instead of riding off into the sunset on our wedding night.

Do you see a common theme in the above list? “We had to rent” appears far too often. Somewhere in there, we were supposed to actually get married, too. So many extra vendors, so many extra tasks, so much extra scheduling … so much extra STRESS. For example, unnecessary stress came when my husband-to-be called me two hours before the ceremony was supposed to start, and the chair people hadn’t shown up. Really? My guests were going to sit on the floor? AWESOME.

My wedding did turn out beautifully, the chairs showed up, and no one sat on the floor. I am in no way saying that the way I did things is the wrong way to go. If you’re on a super tight budget, this is probably going to be the route you take. But once I added everything up, and factored in how much time it took not only myself and my husband, but all of the family members assigned to cooking, cleaning, and hauling …well …I’d have been better off with the all-inclusive venue. I don’t think that this is something most people take into consideration. Lots of small charges add up. Quickly.

Can you really put a price tag on peace of mind?

Amanda blog-4










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