Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How much can you realistically expect to spend on a New York City wedding?

I am baffled by the amount of misinformation that is published regarding the cost of weddings.  As a result, brides are confused about what they realistically need to spend.  I do think it is time for a reality check.

What really made me feel the need to speak out was this article I recently saw in the New York Post: Why Your Wedding is Ridiculously Expensive?  As I started reading, I thought the article had promise as I agree that cost of weddings, especially in New York City, has been on the rise.  When I got to the quote that the average wedding cost in New York City is just over $16,000 I was floored that any publication could print such misinformation.  My current rule of thumb is that couples can expect to spend at least $1,000 per person.  While brides may scoff at this number,. when they start to add everything up they see it is a very real starting point.

Fortunately, there is some accurate information on the internet from reliable sources like the Knot who is quoted in this article on Slate.com: Average wedding cost.  Also, there are wonderful destinations that are far less expensive.  This is why I love planning weddings in Charleston and the Finger Lakes; you can get so much more for so much less.

Well, I have said my piece and would love to get feedback from other New York City planners about your thoughts.  I feel more wedding experts should speak up so that accurate information is provided to brides and grooms  

I look forward to hearing from all of you and...


Friday, February 19, 2016

How to Book Wedding Room Blocks

After my brides and grooms have chosen a date and confirmed their venue we take the next step in confirming hotel room blocks for guests.  While my team and I do this almost every day, the process for those who don’t have the pleasure of a planner can be a bit confusing.

Today I’m going to give you a few tips and tricks to securing rooms for your wedding guests.

The first thing you need to do is determine how many guests will need accommodations. Remember, if you’re expecting 100 guests it would generally mean about 50 rooms. However, keep in mind, unless your wedding is a destination you most likely can cut that number to 25.  And if your wedding is a destination, you want to make sure you have enough rooms for all your guests.

Once you know the number of rooms I recommend making a list of all the hotels in and around your wedding venue.  Start with calling the larger hotels and work your way down to the boutique hotels.  When calling the hotel ask to speak with the person in charge of room blocks.

Keep in mind there are several ways hotels will set aside rooms for your wedding.  There’s a thing called “the courtesy block” and one called a “financial guarantee”.  We always recommend staying away from the latter. We prefer a courtesy block allows you to set aside a certain number of rooms (usually 10 on the outset without putting any money down) at a reduced, fixed rate.  The hotel will require you to sign a “contract” but that contract usually states that within 30 days of your wedding they will release any un-booked rooms into the general population.  The latter (the financial guarantee) will ask you to sign a contract and either put a deposit down on each room. If all rooms are not booked you will have to pay a percentage regardless of whether or not the room was booked.  Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not want to pay for something I didn’t use.  So that’s why we always shy away from that option.

The great thing about a courtesy block is that as the rooms fill up you can often ask the hotel to add more to the block, of course subject to availability.

We always tell our clients to keep a few things in mind.  You can certainly go onto Hotels.com or other sites and find the same rooms and sometimes they may be at a reduced rate.  And sometimes the hotel will match that rate, but often they do not and in reality they have no control how a site like that buys up their inventory.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have someone with say, an AARP discount, they may not be able to get both the room block rate and their discount.  So if they want the bigger discount they may not be part of your block.

We also recommend giving your guests a choice of hotels with different rates.  Let’s face it, everyone’s budget is different so it’s nice to help your guests out.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while you may want all your rooms to be together, the hotels can’t guarantee it no matter how often you beg and plead for the rooms to be together.  So if your uncle is upset that your grandmother can’t be next to him you know why.

And finally, while it’s great to give gift bags or boxes as guests arrive to the hotel, keep in mind there may be an additional cost.  Most hotels will charge to distribute at the front desk and most dread when you want each to be placed or delivered to the room.  The reason, guests don’t show, they change rooms and then the hotel staff has to chase down where each guest is staying.

So while it may be a bit of work, I hope this helps you as you set forth and help to make your wedding guests stay a bit more comfortable.

Until next time…


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Don't give in to pressure from a wedding vendor

I love what I do!  I truly do, so when people ask my occupation I’m all too happy to tell them.

Recently I was speaking with a bride and I asked all the typical questions.  When’s your wedding?  Where are you having it?  And who is she wearing?  So red carpet of me, I know.  But as a wedding planner I want to know!

She proceeded to tell me what I would equate to a horror story.  She and her mom went to a few wedding dress boutiques in Dallas.  She told me none of them really had what she wanted; however every time she told them she was getting married in September each proceeded to get a look of horror on their faces.  One in particular told her she was way behind the eight ball and she needed to get her wedding dress that day or she would risk not having a wedding dress on her wedding.  So, reluctantly she put a deposit on a dress she didn’t want.  The more she thought about it the more nervous she got and the more nervous she got the worried she got and until the point she wanted to change the wedding date so she didn’t feel so pressured.

Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Flanagan

Honestly I was mortified any wedding boutique would play this card.  I’ve planned weddings in 4 weeks, some in two months and never were my brides not able to find a dress that they felt like a bride in.  The woman at the boutique even talked her out of going with an Israeli designer telling her the dresses always get stuck in customs and she should go with the dress she tried on.  Now it is true some dresses take longer to make, some take longer to fit, but why put added stress on the Bride just to sell a dress.

There are few things wrong here.  First, as wedding professionals, our job is to ease any worry the bride might have.  That’s not to say we don’t manage their expectations by cautioning them on this and that.  Our job is not to cause more stress.  Second, this is the prime example of why wedding planners exist.  Our job is to take that burden of worry off their plate and to solve problems.

Out of curiosity, I called a NYC boutique who carries the particular wedding dress the bride liked just to see if the dress she liked could be ordered in the timeframe she needed.  Indeed it could be ordered and there would be no issues with customs or fittings.

Photo Courtesy of Maring Visuals
I’ve yet to find out how this story ends, but I can say this, shame on any wedding vendor who uses scare tactics to make a sale.  And shame on the wedding boutique in Dallas that did just that!  That’s taking advantage of the situation and putting unwanted fear when there should be none.  All wedding professionals should be just that, professional, kind and manage expectations without the use of fear.

Until next time…