As wedding planners and event designers, one of our favorite details to take care of is pulling together a wedding stationery suite for our clients. From choosing fonts, to deciding on envelope liners, to finding the perfect colored cardstock – these are a few of our favorite things! So where do we direct our discerning brides who know exactly what they want? Enter Basic Invite! From the moment you get engaged to the wedding day, you can’t beat our lovely friends over at Basic Invite. What’s so incredible about these invitation options, you ask? Let us count the ways!
Unlimited color options: You heard that right! Gone are the days are having to settle for shades of blue you didn’t quite like. Want something a little darker? Want to just change the colors in a detail image? Edit the color of the text only on line 3? Well now you easily can. Bonus – your ‘preview’ edits as you go to provide you with a live sample of what you’re typing!
Custom samples: As you edit your wedding suite and whittle it down to perfection, you can request samples with your exact wording on them. You read that right! We are addicted to details, and being able to hold and view your invite as your guests would is a huge plus before clicking order on 150+ copies. There is something about seeing the invitation and reading it as a guest would that allows for tiny errors to be caught or wording to be changed.
40 different envelope colors: I cannot tell you the number of times we’ve searched endlessly for the perfect envelope to match an invitation suite. Much like the perks of having almost endless color combinations for your invite, knowing that your envelope will exactly match your suite is a giant stress relief. The option to mix and match is also a fun tip we suggest for those of you loving color.
Free wedding website! (That’s also EASY!) This one’s a biggie. The ability to seamlessly create a professional and visually exciting wedding website at the same time you create your invites is a win-win in our book. It’s your one-stop-shop to collect mailing addresses and put together an easy and mobile-friendly site guests of all ages can access. Plus, it matches everything else you’ve worked so hard on to customize.
We can’t stop raving about their products, friends. (Clear acrylic invites! Seal-and-send postcards with detachable RSVPs!) Options for awesome wedding suites with Basic Invite are some of our favorites and we so hope you enjoy them too. Ready to start? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat planning and we’ll hook you up with a sweet little promo 😉
Chelsea + Tatiana
Note: This post was sponsored, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.
As we start to talk details with our design clients, we always get excited at the endless possibilities of ways to escort your guests to their seats. Will you use custom place cards, a signature cocktail escort “card” or an escort board backdrop or installation?
While these possibilities make our brains do the happy dance as wedding planners and designers, it never fails to be a point of confusion and a teensy bit of stress for our couples. Don’t throw in the towel and opt for open seating just yet! We’re here to offer our advice to make this process as smooth as possible. Our job is to help you further avoid the overwhelm in the months leading up to your wedding. With this simple quiz you will know whether you need place cards, escort cards or escort boards! Think throwback to the Cosmo magazine quiz days, but faster and a lot less sexy 😉 Let’s get started:
My guests will take their seats:
A.) At an assigned table, but any seat they choose
B.) At an assigned table AND an assigned seat at that table
My guests will be eating:
A.) The same meal (plated, buffet, food truck or family style)
B.) Separate meal choices (chicken, steak, fish, vegetarian, etc.)
If you answered “B” to the last question, please answer this (note: you may need to inquire with your caterer or venue before answering):
A.) My caterer or venue requires me to indicate meal choices on each guest’s place card in front of them and let them know of any special dietary restrictions
B.) My caterer or venue requires me to provide an excel sheet with meal choices and dietary restrictions of each guest at each table (not just total meal choices)
Place Cards vs. Escort Cards Results:
If you answered all A’s to questions 1 & 2:
You want guests to have the freedom to choose their own seats, while keeping it simple with the same meal for everyone. Your options include a simple Escort Board at cocktail hour like a large sign or frame listing out the names at each table. Get creative here, the options are fun and endless! Provide your caterer with: The total number of guests and vendor meals
*Note: if you have any dietary restrictions (gluten, dairy, vegetarian etc.) you will let your caterer know in advance where those guests will be seated.
If you answered A then B to questions 1 & 2:
You want guests to have the freedom to choose their seats, but also have a thoughtful memento with their name to help each guest claim their seat. You will need to have an escort “card” that each guest will take from cocktail hour to their seat at the reception. The escort card will have their name and table number. This is another opportunity to get super creative and think beyond a traditional card or frame – one of our favorite parts as designers is coming up with awesome ideas that reflect you as a couple! Read the results for question number 3 to find out how to indicate guest meal choices.
If you answered B then A to questions 1 & 2:
You want guests to feel special with a custom name card at a specific seat. You will need an Escort Board telling guests which table to go to and then they will find their place “card” names at their intended seat. Since each guest is having the same meal, you will keep it simple and not need to worry about indicating meal options at each place setting. Provide your caterer with: The total number of guests and vendor meals
*Note: if you have any dietary restrictions (gluten, dairy, vegetarian etc.) you will let your caterer know in advance where those guests will be seated.
If you answered all B’s to questions 1 & 2:
You want guests to feel supremely thought about. Each guest has a carefully placed name card at a specific seat at a specific table with their own chosen meal. You will need to have some sort of Escort Board telling guests which table to go to and then they will find their place “card” names at their intended seat. Read the results for question number 3 to find out how to indicate guest meal choices.
If you answered question number 3:
By answering ‘A’, this means your caterer will need you to indicate meal choices on each guest’s place card through a color system, icon system or something that differentiates each meal type clearly. Make sure to provide a “Key” for the caterer so that their staff will know each guest’s meal. You will need to provide them with the total count or number of each meal choice and each meal choice total counts by table.
By answering ‘B’, this means your caterer does not require you to indicate any meal choice on the guests’ place cards, but rather through an excel sheet. Also, be sure to include the total count or number of each meal choice. Organize your seating options on an Excel into two sheets by Table Number and by Alphabetical Order by last name and make column for meal choices.
If you’re providing escort cards to be displayed at cocktail hour, be sure to organize them alphabetically by last name. It saves a lot of time and is the easiest way for guests to find their “card.”
Think beyond cards! Implement design! Incorporate your interests as a couple, your jobs, the way you met and make your wedding uniquely personal.
If you are looking for custom calligraphy make sure you secure your calligrapher at least three months in advance. They will need the final information at least two weeks prior to the wedding. Be prepared to provide the calligrapher with guest names, table numbers, meal choices (if applicable) and any materials if you are providing them.
By now you’re getting more settled into your wedding budget. YAY! Here comes the tough part. You will start plugging in numbers to your budget and the feeling of overwhelm will begin to hit as you get quotes for each category. We totally understand. We know it is this very part where a lot of couples consider eloping. Don’t get discouraged, we are here to help! We don’t want to have you living in an unrealistic reality, but we want to make sure that you are staying focused on your wedding “Top Three” and getting the most out of your wedding budget.
3 Steps to Avoiding the Overwhelm
Start researching! Gather information for venues that spark your interest, photographers whose work you love and of course get to know wedding planners who are well connected and can guide you throughout this process. We always say you never know until you ask, so before you cross off something or some place thinking it’s totally out of your budget, inquire with them!
But don’t go too crazy! Keep your options limited to three at a time. In order to keep everything manageable you’ll want to make sure you eliminate one before you bring on another option. Think of it like the closet clean-out mentality: when you buy something new, you get rid of something old. Don’t let your “closet” get messy and overcrowded. That will make your wedding planning process that much more overwhelming. P.s. Always be courteous and respond to your vendors who follow up with you even if you just tell them that you need more time. Just like dating, vendors don’t want to feel like you ghosted them.
Remember that budgeting for anything is always a shuffle. If you go over budget in one category, you’ll need to make up for it in the next category. That’s where your wedding “Top Three” come in handy. Use those as a guide to decide if you really “need” something or not.
Money is a delicate matter for all families regardless of how much is in the bank. Some families have saved up for a long time, while others may be looking to you as the couple to independently fund the celebration. Regardless of your situation, we’re giving you tips on how to have the budget talk with your family and fiancé!
Budgets & Families
There is no “one right way” to have the budget talk. You are the person who knows your family best, therefore you will know the best approach based on your relationship with each parent and how they best react. First, you’ll want to decipher if each of your families are on the traditional side or the non-traditional side. Do they each want the bride’s family to fund the entire nuptials while the groom’s family covers the rehearsal dinner, or are they each looking to chip in equally or not at all? Knowing this will help to guide your approach.
We recommend having a casual dinner or talking to one parent first to feel out the situation as a start to discussing the wedding planning and budget expectations. Having read Budgeting Part One and by now you’ve established a starting ground for your guest count, you’ll already have an idea of the average costs associated with wedding planning so that you go into the budget discussions well educated.
Once you know from both sides how much money you’re getting from your families, and how much you are chipping in yourself, congratulations – you officially have a total budget (or budget range)!
Fight it out now and fight less later.
We’ve come across this quite a bit as a philosophy in the wedding industry when it comes to couples and their budgets. The idea is simple. Imagine your top three wedding “must haves” – those things or people you see immediately when you enter into your wedding. Is it a couture gown, gourmet food, and a live band? Or is it an open bar amongst all of your family and friends with lush flowers?
You and your fiancé should start the planning process with this discussion. Both of you will develop your top three wedding must haves. Then you will reveal them to each other and explain why these are important to you. Be kind, but honest! The hard part will come next as you compromise to focus in on the ultimate top three categories. Once you come to this conclusion, you will know how to prioritize your budget and even splurge a little more in those categories. Everything else that was not a priority will not get priority status when it comes to your budget. This means if extravagant dessert bars wasn’t on either of your top three lists then you cut back here. If designer attire was not in your top three then you opt for attire that is a little more affordable. Make sense?
The wedding budget talk. An often not-so-fun yet necessary aspect of planning your big day. To help you out and give you a few pointers we’ve learned, we’re kicking off a three-part series with tips and advice regarding this pesky topic! This series is aimed at getting you on the right path toward planning the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank. Part one is all about understanding a bit about the wedding industry: we believe having background knowledge about wedding costs will help you know when to splurge and when to save when choosing your vendors. So let’s dive right in!
Your First Piece of “Homework”
Let’s start at the very beginning: number of guests! Step one involves you and your fiancé creating your guest list. This will be your first piece of homework that will determine your budget and venue possibilities. You’ll need to cast a wide net thinking of everyone you would ever want to come and slowly whittle it down. Don’t forget to talk to your parents about their expectations for the number of invitations they will get. Note: sometimes this can be woven in nicely when bringing up the budget talk with both families. It will be hard to know how much money you need for your wedding until you know how large or small of a wedding you would like.
The Average Costs of Weddings
The average cost of a wedding in 2016 according to CNN Money is $31,213. However, the average cost of a Southern California wedding ranges from $36,745 – $47,252. Regardless of what your budget ends up being, there are a few things you should know about how your budget “should” break down based on the average wedding percentages (adapted from TheKnot.com). As you go through each, know that these are just general ranges but you may choose to spend more or less in one category over another. We’ll go into adjusting the categories based on your “Top Three” in Part Two.
As you think about your wedding, determine if any items will not be included in your main wedding budget (honeymoon etc.) and if any items are being gifted to you.
Wedding Budget Categories
The reception budget category is comprised of your venue site fees, catering and dessert costs, bar costs and any miscellaneous fees that may be included in your BEO (Banquet Event Order) from the venue or caterer. If your venue does not have an in-house catering company or they are not making your desserts, you’ll want to add a category to your budget and break out desserts/catering.
The ceremony category will only be used if you are getting married at a church or separate venue from your reception, otherwise you can allocate this percentage elsewhere. This is the recommended amount of your total budget to spend on that space. If the venue is all-inclusive, you can move this percentage up to your Reception budget category.
This includes wedding gown, shoes, accessories, tuxedo or suit, ties or bow ties, cufflinks and any bridal party gifts.
Table centerpieces, ceremony aisle decor, ceremony arch decor, bouquets, boutonnieres, cocktail table centerpieces and any other miscellaneous flowers or installations you dream up!
Are you going to have a live band or a DJ? Would you rather have a iPod shuffling through a playlist, a string quartet or mariachi ensemble? These are questions to ask before you allocate entertainment budgets since DJ’s and live bands will run much higher than someone plugging in an iPod. Note: For those who do not want/need more involved entertainment, you’ll need to budget for speakers and microphone rentals and designate an emcee and a person who will play your specific songs for certain moments (think first dance, cake cutting song, etc.)
Now this one is pretty straightforward but if you’re planning on only hiring a photographer or hiring both you may remove or add some percentage points.
Hiring a wedding planner obviously relieves a lot of stress throughout the planning process and on the big day. A wedding planner will recommend places to save on your budget and vendors that fit each budget category. The planner organizes the entire set-up and tear down, ensuring your wedding day timeline runs smoothly.
Save the Dates, to the Invitation Suite, Rehearsal Dinner invites and Thank You notes. Also remember to budget for postage and fit it into this category! This section can also include calligraphy or printing for escort cards, menu cards and table numbers.
Wedding Rings: 2-3%
Do you plan on transporting your guests from a nearby hotel to the venue? If you answered yes, you’ll need to budget for that here. Do you want to have a limo or getaway car? Then that will also fall into this transportation category. Some venues require you to contract out a valet company or pay for a parking lot in which case you will need to allocate some of your budget here.
Are you planning to give a gift to ask your bridal party to be part of your wedding? That needs to go here! Are you giving gifts to everyone (bridal party and family) on your rehearsal dinner? Place that here!
Rentals / Miscellaneous: 8%
This is the part we find the most fun! If you plan to use rentals for your tabletop you would put those items in this category or a separate design budget category. This may include chargers, linens, glassware, flatware, napkins, or anything else of that nature.
Let’s be real, you’re going to go over in some budget category so you might as well plan for it.
Gratuities: This ranges for each vendor and we have a special tipping guide for all of our brides. Especially because almost all of these categories are service-based, tipping will be greatly appreciated!