Friday, August 30, 2013

Bride on a Budget - Part 3: Bridal Shows - Get the Deals


Last Wednesday, my mom, my lovely friend Jordan, and I went to the N.O.W. Magazine Bridal Show in New Orleans at Mardi Gras World.

Let me just say that I am so glad I had a lot of what I wanted in mind, including vendors.  It was really fun and a lot to look at, but I would have been way to overwhelmed to enjoy myself if I had gone in there without a clue what I was looking for.

At the same time, it would be good to go if you don't have vendors/ideas in mind yet because they give you SO many options!  If this is the case for you, just prepare yourself for lots of talking, walking, and looking.  (And cake samples, but that's an awesome thing!)

First, we walked in and took a picture together which was then loaded to my Facebook and printed for each of us. For free! It was great!

Then, we started walking around to all the different vendor tables.  Everything you could think of was there: photographers, hotels, caterers, bakers, a DJ, photo booths (that let you take photos!), etc.  There was a REALLY good live band.  There was even a parade!  It was a lot of fun!  We got there when the show started and surprisingly stayed the entire 3 hours without even getting to see everything.

Vendors had samples of foods, but they also had any information you could want from their company.
Most of them had a drawing or something you could enter.  It isn't a bad idea to do it, but just know that they will take your e-mail and send you things.  It wouldn't be a terrible idea to have a separate e-mail account just for wedding things. This makes it easier to stay organized!

Even though they use your e-mail, it's not terrible because a lot of them will include a discount code or special offer.  For example, Men's Wearhouse had a great deal going for those who attended, and a floral place in New Orleans e-mailed an offer for up to ten FREE boutonnieres for the men in the wedding!  It doesn't have any fine print about spending money otherwise, either!

I met one lady who is a wedding coordinator/planner.  That's my dream job.  She offered to let me tag along with her on the job whenever I wanted!  As soon as a I have a break from school to do that, I definitely will.  (You meet a lot of nice people at the show!)

Another cool thing they had was a lady who was doing free airbrush makeup trials.  She only did about 8 or so people the whole night, and Jordan and I were lucky enough to be one of those people.  Everyone else had to schedule a consultation for a later date in order to do that.  Nope, not us.  We got it done right then and there and never have to talk to her again if we don't want.

She was really expensive but offered packages for people who attended that really weren't so bad for a makeup artist that comes to do all your bridesmaids and your makeup.  However, Jordan and I hadn't even have airbrush make-up.  We were glad to have to trial there because we didn't have to waste any of our time with a consultation, and we were still able to figure out airbrush make-up is NOT for either one of us!  Needless to say, we won't be booking that lady.  Not necessarily because she lacks skill, but because it's just not for us.

So, my point with that is that you get to try a bunch of different things and get information all in one place instead of spending days on days doing it elsewhere and going through a lot more hassle.

Oh, and here is a terrible blurry picture of the parade that went through the building while I was getting my make-up done:

I recommend going to one if you can :)  This one was $15 a person and I feel like it was definitely worth it after all the info, eating, and experience we had.  Also, since N.O.W. Magazine put it on, we got a free copy of the new issue!  Which is like half the ticket price right there!

Going into the bridal show, the two main things I had left to find for the wedding was a DJ and make-up artist.  This made it easy for me to know where to stop and where to pass up.  Even though there was only one DJ there, I stopped at a lot of other booths because there were vendors there for things I didn't even know they had.  One example: a vendor specializing specifically in centerpieces. Not flowers.  Centerpiece decor.  I had no clue there were businesses just for that!

Anyway, this is what was great about it:
When you are trying to find vendors, you take so much time researching them, where they are, then try to contact them for pricing which is REALLY frustrating sometimes.  At the bridal show, a lot of vendors who don't have their prices on their websites had handouts with their pricing.  You get the prices, talk for a second, then they forget you (unless you want to make yourself memorable).

It's nice because you don't have to sit and talk forever and answer stupid questions just to get a basic package price.  Also, if you don't choose them, they don't hassle you because they don't know specifically who you are.  It's nice.

Side note:  I have had a lot of vendors follow-up with me after I got pricing, which is totally fine and professional, but some just get downright annoying and don't drop it.  It's great to be able to avoid that at all costs! And this helps do that :)

So the big idea is that a bridal show is a great source for information and deals in a quick and fun manner!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bride on a Budget - Part 2: Doing it Yourself - Invitations

Hello :)

One of the biggest things I'm doing to cut down on the budget, like I mentioned at the end of my last post, is doing a lot of things myself.  If you aren't very crafty, I'm sure a bridesmaid or family member is- and if they are like me, they would absolutely love to help!

First of all, if you aren't already BFF with Hobby Lobby, introduce yourself immediately.  Not only do they have almost anything you could need for crafting or making wedding things, but I can guarantee you that whatever you need will at some point be on sale.  They have a sale every week and you can find the ad online saying what's what.  Sale items are usually 50% off, but sometimes 30-40% off.  If you have the time, wait for what you need to go on sale because, like I said, it will go on sale!

Current Weekly Ad

If you can't wait and your item of interest is not on sale at the moment, go to their website and get their weekly coupon.  It's always at least 40% a single item, and you get to pick the item it's used on.  Either print it out and bring it with you or pull it up on your smartphone.  As long as they see the code, they'll take it!

Current coupon

My first "big" purchase (other than little things here and there) was our wedding invitations.  I have been looking daily for weeks online at several different companies that print wedding invitations, and frankly, it's been a nightmare.  Even the cheaper websites that are also offering 20 or 30% off have been adding up to $150-$200 after adding the costs of RSVP inserts, shipping, and tax.  Why?! It's just paper!  Not only that, but I couldn't make myself take that much out of my budget for something I wasn't falling in love with.  There were some designs I thought were really pretty, but still didn't love them and neither did Clay.

I was on today (brides-get on that!) and somehow made my way to Hobby Lobby's website.  The first thing that came up was an ad saying all their "His & Her" brand wedding items (which, honestly, is basically all of their wedding items) were 50% off!  I had looked at the DIY invitations at Hobby Lobby in the store before and wasn't really impressed, but I decided to just take a look anyway to see if they had anything good... and what do you know?! They had invitations that I really liked!  They match our colors and theme, I can customize them literally however I want to, and Clay liked them!  However, I was getting nervous that I wouldn't be able to get them because the promotion was only good in stores, and I was convinced they wouldn't be in store because they weren't there before.

Current Wedding Promotion

Thank God I was wrong.  I needed three boxes and they had four!  They have several other invitations to choose from in all different colors, so if you don't mind printing them yourself, I would check it out.  Now through Sunday they are 50% off!  They cost me $35.  That's all.  That's about $150 less than it would have had I ordered them elsewhere.  It included the invitation, the invitation envelope, an enclosure card, the enclosure envelope, a cute little sleeve, and free templates online to use for easy printing.

I originally didn't want to print them myself because I wasn't finding anything decent to print on at a decent price.  But I didn't settle.  I stayed on the hunt and found something I love!  The templates online are completely set up to print perfectly on the invitations, so all I have to do is type what I want and press print.

I mean... it can't get any easier than that.

I am so excited I just want to start printing now!  But I still have to finalize a few invitation details before I can so I guess I'll have to control myself for now.  Sigh.


P.S. Hobby Lobby has a great stuff, but I'm not gonna lie- a good bit of their wedding line gets close to crossing the tacky line.  I recommend going and hunting through what they do have, because there are some gems!  And there are several awesome things they have to offer outside of the wedding line that you can use for wedding crafting!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bride on a Budget - Part 1: Use Your Resources

Hey y'all!

As you know, I am currently planning a wedding.  I took the first few months of our engagement to focus on school.  Now that I have a little break between the summer and fall semesters, I am constantly making lists, e-mailing and calling for quotes, etc.  As I go along and learn my lessons, I'll post the major ones on here.  I'll also review our vendors after the big day.

The budget has been set and I think it's great.  At least for me it is.  I know a lot of people that would easily dish out 50 grand of their family's money on a single day, but that's just not me.  Of course I have my own expectations and dreams, but I'm doing everything I can to stay under our budget.  After all, as long as I marry my best friend that night, I don't care about anything else that may go wrong or not measure up to someone else's standards.

I still have a while to go in the planning process, but I already have a mega tip for other brides:
Use. Your. Resources.

I am fortunate enough to be a part of a family with a lot of people in different skill sets and professions, and so is Clay.  Don't be scared to ask!  If you know someone with something you could borrow, or someone that can hook you up with a great deal, TAKE IT!  If anyone involved in the wedding knows someone that can get them a good deal, usually they can get that deal for you as well.  Most people would love to be a part of your big day, and if they want a little compensation, I promise they will tell you.  The best part is, most won't ask for anything.  What's the worse they can do? Say no?  If so, just move on to your other options!  It's not being a free-loader, and being on a budget.

For example, there is a florist in the family that can get us wholesale flowers.  We are most definitely going to do that.  Even if it means making my own bouquets and centerpieces.  I would actually LOVE to do that, anyway :)

Another example: the venue we are using is a private barn.  My dad is a contractor.  The barn needs minor fixing up.  Viola!  Perfect trade off.

[Those are just two of the awesome things we're catching a break on.]

Another thing I've learned- don't instantly jump on a "good deal" you see advertised.  I have come across two photo booth companies advertising great pricing, which are really great compared to their normal rates. However, I also researched other companies in the area offering the same service who have better quality and offer more with their package.  They are about $100 more expensive than the "deal rate" the other companies have, but I'd be getting more bang for my buck by paying the $100 more.

So, I guess my next tip would be to do a lot of research.

Use yourself as a resource.  Wedding planners usually just do the researching for you (which, yeah, is nice to not have to do).  Some even just pull from a book of vendors they always have and don't look for any deals going on with other vendors that you could benefit from.  I didn't even consider hiring a wedding planner because my dream is to be a planner and I'd rather do it all myself.

But if you are looking to hire someone, hire me ;)