save, five ways…on your wedding venue

Location, location, location. Mention the word wedding and suddenly the price spikes. There is no question that where you have the wedding is an important detail of your big day, but you certainly don’t want to go deep into debt to purchase time in a place where you will spend approximately ten hours of your entire life. Venue costs tend to stay relatively fixed, without a whole lot of wiggle room. Here are some tried-and-true tips to score a great space while saving a bit:

Curate the guest list. I know, I know. You are so tired of hearing this. But it can’t be overstated- you must cut down the guest list. Most venues around Springfield implement a price hike when you get to a guest count of 125-150, and some of the less expensive options don’t even hold more than 125 people.

Timing is everything. Weeeelll, maybe not everything. But it does influence the price point, for sure. Don’t feel locked in to Saturdays because that’s what everyone else does- Friday or Sunday are equally lovely days to host a celebration. If you are looking at a year when a national holiday falls midweek, schedule your wedding the night before so your guests can enjoy the next day off and you can enjoy the savings from booking a Wednesday night shindig. While I’m not one to suggest you choose a wedding off-season because of a price break, if you happen to love autumn or the snowfall of winter, book your date in those months. Bonus that it can often come with off-season pricing.

Evaluate perks. Does the venue provide linens, or will you need to rent them? Are there decorations available for use, or is it a blank slate? In the case of outdoor venues, do they have a rain alternative, or will you need to have a back-up tent? All of these are considerations that can either rack up your bill or save you a considerable amount once the day is done.

Double-duty. Choosing a venue that has a ceremony area in addition to the reception hall can  can save travel time and transportation costs. Going one step further to find  accommodations for your ceremony and reception in the same space will save you time, transportation, and floral/decoration costs. These suggestions aren’t for everyone- some brides really value holding their ceremony in a church. Others feel strongly about having separate locations for two vibes, the more sacred and sweet ceremony versus the celebratory feel of the reception. If you are up for it, though, it can shave some change off your final bill.

What about you? Have you found creative ways to trim your venue budget?

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save, five ways…on wedding catering

Great conversation happens around great food. Relationships are built around the table. Memories are made around the smell, look, and taste of meals.

Conversation, relationship, and memories don’t cost a thing…so why is your catering bill nearly 30% of your budget? Food costs money, and good food costs a good amount of money. Great food costs…well, you get the idea. Here are five ideas for saving money on what your guests will be eating and drinking on the big day:

Manage your guest list. Boy, bet you didn’t see that one coming. Overdone advice, but still so true. The single best way to cut wedding costs is to have fewer people present. Start with the invites- if you or your significant other do not know the person by name, would not recognize them on the street, or otherwise would not invite them except-that-a-certain-family-matriarch-will-not-stop-insisting…don’t invite them. If they have not been a part of your life for the last fifteen years, it’s doubtful they will be offended if they are not invited to the wedding. The average guest costs $125 to host at a wedding in Springfield, Missouri. This includes the cost of catering, printed products, and divided venue and decorations costs. If said family matriarch claims disrespect, you can respectfully suggest that they foot the bill for said guest. If they are indeed footing the bill, well…I guess you wouldn’t be reading this post, then 🙂

Finalize guest details. When you choose to give an estimate to your caterer instead of a definite head count, you will likely pay for people who are not present. If guests have not RSVP’d by your deadline, a simple phone call can save you twenty bucks a head! In the same line of thinking, know how many of your guests are children. Usually children’s portion sizes are smaller, so you can negotiate a lower rate for less food.

Price match. Wedding catering is a highly competitive business. If you’ve got quotes from Caterers A, B, C and you looooooove with a capital L Caterer B’s food, but Caterer C gave you a slightly lower estimate, don’t be afraid to ask for a price match! Graciously, of course, and with a heavy dose of complimentary accolades. Be aware that caterers who do more volume can get better discounts on wholesale foods, so a smaller caterer may not be able to compete. If they do a similar volume of business, there shouldn’t be any reason why Caterer B wouldn’t give you a small price break in order to secure your booking.

Scrutinize traditions. Are you really going to want to eat the top layer of your wedding cake in a year? If you get a hankering for wedding cake on your anniversary, why not order a fresh sheet cake instead of pulling your plastic-wrapped, frozen hunk of cake out of the back of your freezer. Serve the top layer to guests. What about the appetizer spread? Do you really need it, or can your guests have the salad course of the meal while the bridal party is finishing up photos? Doing things just because it’s the way it’s always been done is the fast track to spending more than you actually need to. Do what makes sense for you now.

Minimize the cake. For most people, a gorgeous wedding cake is as essential as a gorgeous wedding dress. It just must be done. There are so many fantastic ways to make a small cake look extravagant that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a jaw dropper. Filling the space between tiers with fresh flowers, placing tiers on pedestals of different heights…a quick search on Pinterest will give you tons of great ideas. Consider ordering a cake for half your guest count, then have a basic sheet cake cut for the remainder. Alternatively, many caterers offer cupcakes for a lower price per person (sometimes up to half off!) Let’s plug in some numbers. Guest list: 150, Cake: $3.00/slice, Cupcakes: $1.50 each. Ordering just a wedding cake brings the total to $450, not including extra costs for fillings and flavors. Ordering a wedding cake for half and cupcakes for half brings the total to just $337.50, a savings of over $100.

How are you saving on your catering costs?

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save, five ways…on your wedding flowers

We swoon over gorgeous flowers. I mean, really, how many times in your life do you get to be completely surrounded by sumptuous, silky, lovely floral goodness?

Aside from the handful I buy a couple times a month to grace our kitchen table, I can think of only one time I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by gorgeous blooms. And that was when I was also wearing a big white gown that cost more than every item of clothing in my closet. With all the other categories in your budget, it can be shocking to see that flower sticker price. We’ve got five ways you can enjoy the extravagance and still save some money.

Keep your bridal party small. More bouquets/bouts = more $. Larger head table = more centerpieces= more $. And the flowers aren’t the only reason to keep your bridal party intimate. The formal photos are quicker with fewer people, there are fewer preferences to consider when choosing dresses, , more room in the bridal suite, fewer thank you gifts to purchase…you get the idea. Ask anyone who has been married for 10-plus years how many in their bridal party are still a major part of their lives today. I think you’ll find you need fewer than you think. Besides, between the bride, the mother-of-the-bride, and the mother-in-law…the less estrogen in the room, the better 😉

Choose your venues well. A venue with great bones will save big time on decorations. If you walk into a space that is gorgeous as is and it takes your breath away, you have a winner. This is one reason I don’t suggest choosing an off-season just to save money. Inside ceremonies need more purchased flowers to convey the same feelings that a lush outdoor space could provide. Inside walls need more adornment if the windows show stark landscaping outside. A beautifully-built space in a beautiful setting will pay off in the budget category for decorations. Consider all of your options, and check to see what the venue can provide in the way of decorations. Many have a stash of vases, garlands, candles and the like available for brides to use free of charge. These can go a long way to fill out centerpieces and arrangements, cutting back on the amount of flowers needed.

Consider artificial. No, I don’t recommend all of your flowers be artificial, but there are some instances when fake flowers are super strategic and budget-savvy. For example- NO ONE but your bridal party will come within 10 feet of the ceremony flowers up front. Using artificial means you can get exactly what you envision (artificial is always in season), and have them arranged in advance. Pinterest can help you or someone you know DIY it, and you can redo as many times as needed until you get it right. This works well with bouquets, too- only your bridal party knows the difference. You can get colors that exactly match your theme, and don’t have to worry about wilting. Bonus: ten years from now you get to watch your daughter pull your bouquet out of a box to play princess. So priceless.

Choose dual-purpose selections. Arrange vases on the head table where the bridal party can place their bouquets. Use potted herbs or tiny houseplants as favors to fill out greenery on your table centerpieces. Put someone in charge of pulling ceremony flowers and rushing to the reception site to use them to decorate the food table. Emily Westbrooks at Wedding Party has some great tips for repurposing ceremony flowers:

Moving your ceremony flowers to your reception site can be a game-changer when it comes to repurposing wedding flowers. But it takes a little creativity and a some advance planning. When you meet with your florist, ask about options for using flowers that flank the alter or are used on the end of aisles later in the day. It’s becoming a more common practice, so your florist might have a few tricks up his or her sleeve to make your flowers work extra hard for you.

If you have large arrangements at the top or bottom of your aisle, those can add lots of life to a buffet or dessert table at your reception. Small arrangements hanging from the end of the aisle can be set on your dinner tables to add volume and texture to your table decor.

You can read more of her suggestions here. 

Sam Walton is your friend.  Hiring a florist to compose reception tabletops will rack up your bill fast, but nothing can compare to the oomph a professionally-arranged centerpiece will bring to your wedding. Consider purchasing pro-arrangements for about 1/3 of your tables, then round out the others with less expensive blooms you purchase yourself. Every other week, I purchase a decent-sized bouquet of carnations or alstroemeria for my kitchen table for less than five bucks on my way out of Walmart. Simple, yet beautiful. If you need a specific color scheme, you can order in bulk online at sites like or

How are you saving on wedding flowers on your big day?

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save, five ways…on your wedding photos

Photos are arguably the most important expense of your wedding day. After all, what else will you be able to pull out in a decade to remind you of the big day? I suppose the wedding dress is a possibility…lucky you if it fits 😉

Such a top priority deserves fair compensation, and a talented photographer is certainly worthy of a higher price point. Here are some ways to get high quality photos without breaking the bank:

Research. Then research again. Highly gifted, qualified, and experienced wedding photographers charge top dollar for their services, and they have the Google rankings to prove it. If you can sift through those who pay for significant advertising privileges, you may find a photographer with style that rivals the top dogs without the hefty price tag. The reason? Sometimes these photographers are uber-talented, but are just getting started in the field. Sometimes they are stay-at-home mamas who work very part-time, so all their income goes to the family budget instead of advertising in a glossy magazine. You’ll start to find these photographers a few pages into your Google search or via referral requests on social media.

Review the packages. Evaluating photo packages and prices from different wedding photographers can be complicated- a varying amount of hours and add-ons, prints or no prints, extra sessions or meetings. It can be difficult to compare apples to apples. Generally speaking, most wedding photographers in the Springfield area offer packages that include either a bridal or engagement session, a set number of hours on the wedding day, and prints or digital rights. Don’t want an engagement session? See if you can tack on a couple extra hours onto the wedding day time in lieu of that extra session. This way, you could get that 8-hour coverage for the 6-hour price. Alternatively, see if the photographer is available to do that extra session on the night of the rehearsal dinner instead. You could get shots of the more casual, fun memories and the photographer will be more familiar with the VIPs. If something in the package doesn’t work for you, negotiate until you get it right.

Be honest about your budget. I am a firm believer in letting vendors know if you are working with a tight budget, especially when it sounds something like, “I absolutely love your work. It would be amazing if I could book you for my wedding, but this price is just out of the range I’m able to spend. Would you be able to do XYZ for X amount of dollars?” In high wedding season, this may not matter in the least, even if the photographer wants to help you out. It is a business, after all, and they must pay their bills. BUT…you never know when other factors are at play- maybe it’s a slow time of the year when bookings are down, or maybe they have really been wanting to work at the venue you’ve chosen for networking purposes. Maybe they resonate with your situation…who knows? A gracious disposition and honesty never hurts when trying to find a solution that works for both parties.

Ask about promotions. Some photographers run special pricing at different times of the year via their websites or social media pages.  If you don’t see this, don’t be afraid to ask! Depending on the season, the industry, the day of the week or time of day, there may be a special rate or package available. 

Social media is leverage. Success in the wedding industry is largely based on word-of-mouth. Especially for less well-known photographers, getting a social media buzz going can be a huge asset. Do you have 1,500 Facebook friends, all of marrying age and some actively looking for vendors? Make like a business-person and negotiate a discount in exchange for your heavy promotion of their services. Share their page with friends, write a review, re-tweet their specials, give a certain number of shout-outs, and share your gorgeous photos when they are completed. Perhaps your photographer will see the value of what you can provide to your audience and throw in some extras or a percentage-off discount? Now, don’t misread what I’m saying. If you only have 200 followers and over half of them are high schoolers or in a retirement home…you probably don’t have much to offer the photographer’s target market. 

Have you found a great way to save money on wedding photos?

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save, five ways…on your wedding coordinator

Of course I believe you need to hire a wedding coordinator. I am one, after all.

But how can you make sure you can afford one? Here are five ways to save money on your wedding coordinator:

Use one. I know this is counterintuitive- your budget is being pulled a million different directions and it can be hard to justify something so intangible. After all, you can smell the flowers, taste the food, see the photos. It can be hard to give some of those precious dollars to something outside the realm of your senses. After all, if a wedding planner has done her job right, you’ll never know about the tears you didn’t cry, the bridesmaid you didn’t snap at, the vendor who didn’t come through exactly as promised. There is no question that a talented event coordinator is worth her weight in gold. So many times, a planner actually saves her client money. Rosesinister at Offbeat Bride writes:

One day I had plans to meet with a caterer and a photographer and my planner tagged along, and brought with her a second photographer for us to meet with. The moment the amazing, wedding planner-picked husband and wife photography team commented on my TARDIS-blue nail polish, I was sold — SOLD, I tell you — on a photographer that I would never known about if it wasn’t for my planner.

The best part? The photographers are Eight. Hundred. Dollars. Less. than the not-too-pricy photographer I was dead-set on. $800 is no small amount of dough.

Then my planner convinced me to talk to a different caterer. The first caterer I picked had a quote of $37.50 per person (alcohol not included, that was another $35 per person). I thought that was fair…

The second caterer? Can I tell you how much I love this woman? We had a tasting with her. She is SUPER AMAZING! And because she isn’t as “established” as my first choice, guess what? She’s totally cheaper. $1750 cheaper.

Holy cow, did my wedding coordinator just save me $2,550? Yes, yes she did.

Be honest about your budget. Here’s the deal. Unfortunately, it’s true that some planners won’t return your phone call if your wedding budget is under the national average of $20,000. It’s also true that there are TONS of us out there who got into the business simply because we want to help make dreams come true. If you are dying to work with a planner whose fee is more than you wanted to spend, be up front about that. Depending on the time of year you are getting married, the coordinator’s schedule, your personal story, or a host of other reasons, she may be willing to work with you for slightly less than her typical fee.

Choose the right planner. When you are researching your options, don’t be shy about asking what other services the coordinator can provide under her contracted fee. Many wedding planners are not only brilliant at balancing budgets, vendors, and timelines, but are also extremely creative and talented individuals. Can she arrange flowers you’ve purchased in bulk to save some cash? Does she have table linens available for rental? Does she have a stash of decorative items (like vases, candles, etc.) that she frequently lends to clients? Is she talented at graphic design? If she offers these services for an additional fee, don’t be afraid to ask if she’s open to negotiating a discounted rate. 

Get discounts for referrals. Truly, a successful wedding business is built on positive referrals. When a bride has a positive experience with a wedding vendor and shares her thoughts with a throng of about-to-be-married friends, that vendor gets a huge opportunity to work with more clients. This opportunity makes you, your word-of-mouth, and your happiness so valuable to a wedding coordinator. At Bliss Events, our referral program is our primary way of getting you top value for your dollar. For every client we book through you, we deduct 1% from your total bill. For example…You decide today you want to hire us to help pull together your big day. Your budget is $10K, so our agreed upon fee is $1,000 (our typical 10%). We meet for our initial consultation, and you are over the moon with excitement about working with Bliss. You share our Facebook page with a shout-out to how awesome we are. Immediately, your cousin Jenny books us because she’s engaged and has been looking for a planner. You pay 9%. Two months before your wedding, your best friend gets engaged and hires us through the referral program. You pay 8%. A $10,000 wedding coordinated for $800 is nothing to sneeze at, my friends. The limit is 10, and after you enjoy the free coordinating of your big day, we’ll continue to send you restaurant gift cards for every person you refer.

Barter. Call me old school, if you’d like, but I’m a big believer in bartering goods and services for what you need when you are short on cash. Reverse roles for a minute and consider what services you could provide that your planner might use. Do you have mad web design skills? Offer a website re-do in exchange for planning. Are you a massage therapist? I don’t know many people who would turn down a years’ worth of monthly massages in exchange for services. Straight up, I’m a girl on a tight budget, too. If I had a client who was a hairstylist offer me a free cut and color in exchange for a discount…well, I’d take a moment to consider that 😉

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Bliss Events Referral Program

At Bliss Events, we believe every bride deserves the luxury of a personal assistant on the most important day of her life. In fact, we are committed to making that happen.

Our pricing structure is super-simple and affordable for brides on any budget (A flat 10%, easy peasy), but we get that brides are on reeeeeaaaalllly tight budgets. We wanted to offer a way to maximize your dollar further and help us out in the process. Enter, the Referral Program.

Business in the bridal industry is built on referrals. After all, we don’t want any repeat customers! While we are happy to help coordinate your baby showers, birthday parties, and ten-year anniversary, we certainly hope you only walk down that aisle wearing white once.

But, please tell your friends 🙂

We are graciously thankful to our happy clients who share good news. For every couple who books our services under your name before your wedding date, we’ll give you a 10% discount, up to ten people. For those of you who can do math (and who have 10 people in your life who are getting married!!), that means you will pay $0 for services rendered. What?!?

If someone books after the date of your wedding or above the cost of service for your wedding, we’ll be so happy to treat you and your beloved to a yummy dinner on us. Because you are awesome.

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