Archive for the ‘Wedding Budget’ Category

Wedding Tipping   Leave a comment

In Vegas tipping can sometimes make your trip ($20 dollar bill trick anyone). Tips are an important line item in all wedding budgets, because if you forget to add them in you may be find yourself struggling to figure out this expense in the few days before your wedding. Vegas weddings are unique in their tipping rules, because they are often not held in a traditional banquet hall. You should have all your tips ready to go in marked envelopes. Here is my Vegas wedding tipping guide:

1. The Concierge- I would give them a larger tip up front if you want to use their services, through out your stay (like if your honeymooning there). The concierge will make your show and dinner reservations and can tell you which seats and tables are the best or the best time to attend a show or exhibition. $20 plus is acceptable, depending on the services provided.

2. The officiant- It is typical to tip the officiant or donate a sum to the church, but in Vegas most chapels include the officiant. This doesn’t mean s/he shouldn’t get a tip. $25-$50 is sufficient based upon your package, how well a job he does, etc. Seeing as most brides who get married in a chapel only meet the officiant 10-15 minutes before their ceremony $25 is really sufficient unless you have a particularly difficult or long ceremony then a bit more may be appropriate.

3. The Wedding Coordinator- If you are getting married in a chapel then you will have your own planning coordinator, who may or may not be your service coordinator on the day of. This makes things a bit complicated. I am on my third wedding coordinator through the chapel, but very pleased with her. She has been super helpful and quick to answer all my questions. I hope she will be there the day of. For this coordinator I would recommend a tip of $25-$100. For me if she is there the day of and everything runs smoothly, she will get $100. If she is not I will split the tip between her and the service coordinator. I will give the servicing coordinators all tips for the ceremony (officiant, coordinator, ceremony musicians, photographer,and coordinators) in marked envelopes prior to the ceremony to distribute.  If you have a coordinator who you have hired outside of your venuesa tip is not expected, but may be given. Up to $500 is acceptable. Another great option if you feel your coordinator rocked it is to send a thank you note with some pro-pics for her portfolio.

4. Ceremony Musicians- This vendor is often included in most chapel packages, but tip should still be given. $15-$25 per musician is reasonable.

5. Photographer/Videographer- It is not required you tip these vendors unless they are not owners of the studio/business. The standard on this is 15-20% of the bill or $50-$200 per person. I will probably tip our photographer for the ceremony $50 because they are contracted through the casino and not owners of their own studio. My other photographers are the owners of the studio, so tip for them is unnecessary.

6. Delivery Persons- The people delivering your cake, flowers, linens, etc. to the wedding site deserve a tip to. $5 to $10 per person will do the trick. Pass an envelope with 5 or 10 dollar bills to your coordinator, so s/he can distribute them.

7. Wedding Reception Staff- The onsite coordinator, maitre’d, serving staff, bar tenders etc. are all included in this. Generally most venues charge a service fee which covers the tip for all these vendors, but make sure to double check with your venue. If a service fee is not included in your final bill then 15-20% of the food and drink fee should be given to the maitre’d or banquet captain to distribute among staff. I have a service fee included in my venue contract, but I will be giving an extra tip to my onsite coordinator. She has been incredibly helpful and gone above and beyond. I will be giving her a gift, thank you note, and check the day before or the day of.

8. DJ/Band- Some think this is optional, but I feel it should be done. If the DJ is not the owner of the company, then a tip of $50-$150 should be given. If it’s a band $20-$25 per musician is appropriate. Just hand this marked envelope to your on-site coordinator to distribute or have the best man give it at the end of the reception.

9. Transportation- 15-20% of the bill should be given to the drivers/attendants for all your transportation. If you will not be using this transportation either have a responsible guest distribute the tip or contact the company to see if you can give the tip to them ahead of time.

10. Hair and Make-Up: 15-20% of the fee should be given to your hair and make-up people, whether they are coming to you or your going to them.

11. Impersonators- We don’t have one of these at our wedding, but a lot of Vegas brides like to do an Elvis impersonator (if your looking the one I have seen most recommended on The Knot Vegas Board is Travis Allen). If you do have one you should tip between 15-20%.

12. Valets- You want to make sure you befriend these guys, because there going to be the ones running for your car or hailing you a taxi for every last minute wedding appointment you have. If they’re hailing you a cab then $1-$2 if they’re pulling up your car $2-$5 will do the trick. Some tricks to get your car quickly (it can take up to 30 minutes to get your car from valet) is to call ahead or give them a bigger tip up front and tell them your not feeling well. Keep an envelope of ones on hand in your purse for tipping these guys.

13. Bellmen- These guys are very important part of your wedding. They will deliver your dress, your alcohol for your in-suite reception/after party, or wedding cake for your in-suite reception. They will deliver the welcome bags to all your guests. Keep an envelope of five dollar bills with you so you can easily pull one out and hand it to them every time they deliver a wedding item to you.

Make sure you have all your tips set aside in marked envelopes before you leave for Vegas, that way it’s simple and easy. Make sure tipping is a line item in your budget, so your not caught off guard by this expense.

How much did you spend on tips? Was it a large portion of your budget?

My sources for this post are:


The Dollars and Cents of it All   Leave a comment

Planning a destination wedding incurs many line items that may or may not be featured at a non-destination wedding. I want to talk about the ins and outs of a destination wedding budget. I will be specifically addressing Las Vegas, but many of these items could be applicable to any other destination wedding. When you decide upon a destination wedding, you must decide to what extent you are going to host and take care of your guests. You have several options, rehearsal dinner for all guests, meet and greet/ welcome party (fun activity or party to greet all guests upon arrival), planned grouped outings (hosted or non-hosted), after party, and morning after brunch. The number of activities/parties you host will depend on the number of guests and your budget. Here is a sample of a weekend weddng in Las Vegas.


Rehearsal in Chapel

Rehearsal Dinner with Wedding Party and Immediate family at restaurant near Chapel


Welcome Party/ Meet and Greet- Brides in Vegas have several options for this. You could host an in-suite welcome party where guests can stop by, go bowling, set-up bottle service at a club or bar and reserve private area for guests, book a pool cabana, or do a tour of the Las Vegas strip.


Ceremony and Reception

After Party- You can meet up at a club, piano bar, or lounge in any of Vegas’s hottest hotels


Morning After Brunch- You can host this at one of the many buffets in Vegas or at a beautiful restaruant or do something more formal in-suite.

Mr. Darcy and I have decided upon the following schedule for our Vegas Weekend Wedding-


In-Suite Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner with Wedding Party and Immediate Family

Meet and Greet- Las Vegas Strip Tour on Double Decker Bus


Bridal Breakfast in-suite for the bridal party

Ceremony and Reception


In-Suite Morning After Brunch

Our goals for the weekend were 1. Provide as many meals to our wedding party to help them cut their costs and 2. To provide our guests with ample oppurtunity to celebrate with us and to thank them for taking the time to come celebrate.

We are still considering an after party for later in the evening. I really like the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan.

Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan


Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t it be fitting to party with our wedding guests inside a giant chandelier, post wedding? My only concern is post wedding exhaustion. We will see.

The next line item that becomes a big deal for a destination wedding is transportation. You really help should your guests with transportation, especially if they are flying into somewhere and will be lacking wheels. 99.9% of our guests will be driving to Vegas, so we don’t have to worry about transporting guests from the airport to their hotels. We are providing transportation from the ceremony location to the reception location, though. We are also providing one bus from the reception to the ceremony location (Caesar’s Palace to Mandalay Bay) for guests, who want to return there instead of going around the strip.

Another line item for destination weddings’ is the welcome bag. These are not necessary, but go a long way in helping your guests feel welcome and extra special. Welcome bags can range from lavish to basic. Ours will be more basic, but have a few personal touches. Here are the basic elements of our welcome bags

1. Container- tote or gable box, we haven’t decided yet

2. Water Bottles- 2 smart waters with tags that say, “The smartest thing Mr. Darcy ever did was to ask Miss Austen to marry him.” and the other will say “The smartest thing Miss Austen did was say yes.”

3. Snacks- Mr. Darcy’s mom will be making Kifles (a Polish cookie) and I will be making Coconut Macadamia Nut Bundt Cake (a Hawaiian recipe)  to represent our two heritages.

4. Hang Over Kit- This will include mints, gatorade packet, and advil

5. Welcome Note- handwritten note, thanking guests for attending

6. Maps and Information about Destination- The concierge at the Mandalay Bay has agreed to give us a local entertainment magazine, map of the strip, and some other information for all our guests.

7. Starbucks Card- We may add a $5 Starbucks card also. I am not sure on this.

The key to welcome bags though, is not what’s in them, but how you distribute them. Every hotel is different in their policies, some have them delivered to the room, some will hand them out at check-in. Plus, when your having a destination wedding at a place like Vegas, your guests could be staying every where. You must decide whether to distribute them to each hotel or to hand them out at one time.

Did you have a destination wedding? What extra line items did you have in your budget?

Working the Budget…   Leave a comment

I have blogged a little about our budget woes of late and how they have consumed me. I am constantly looking at our budget trying to figure out how were going to make things work here and there. In all honestly no amount preparation could have prepared me for the sheer number of things that must be included in your wedding budget. allows you to input the zip code of your wedding location and it will give you an average range for the cost of weddings in your area. You can also click on tabs to find out how much bride’s spent on different areas of the wedding. For Vegas the average cost of a wedding ranges from $17,109 to $28,504. Our budget is on the lower end of this average. My advice for brides just starting out is to look the averages for your areas and what brides in your area spent in different and use this as a guideline when beginning to plan your budget. Here are my budget tips for brides:

1. Prioritize.- Photography and Food were our biggest priorities. I was able to find an awesome photographer for a great price and an awesome restaurant whose catering manager worked with us and our budget to come up with the best meal plan. We chose a cocktail style reception with two stations and six passed hors d’oeuvres because of the off hour of our reception 2-6pm and limited space. Also, decor was important to me, so when Mama Austen and I saw the venue we knew it was perfect. The space was so awesome that decor could be minimal. We are spending most of the decor budget on linens, which I am totally in love with.

Mezzanine Level of the Trevi Restaurant (our reception venue) source: Trevi

Do you see why we need didn’t need a lot as far as flowers go? I am totally in love with that chandelier in the center of the room.

2. Ask for deals.- I am ordering several pieces of jewelry from one designer for my bridesmaids and asked the designer if she would be able to discount my order. I received 15% off just for asking. I asked our DJ about discounting our package because it was for five hours of play time and we only needed him for four. He told us if we paid it all up front we could get 10% off, so that’s what we did.

3. Shop around.- Talk to more than one vendor. Choose people your comfortable with and are also within your price range. When we selected our cake baker we had tastings at 3 different bakeries, each had it’s own specialty. The cake baker we loved most was able to do both the wedding cake and groom’s cake, that we originally planned on getting from a different baker.

4. Look for coupons.- I get e-mails about deals from groupon, living social, and the wedding channel deals. I also use the coupon app on my phone. I hate and most of the time refuse to pay full retail price for anything. I am using a groupon for the cake pops at our wedding. I am getting 36 cake pops for $50 instead of the normal $75 it would cost me. I even use these apps to save on every day things (shutterfly book for mom for mother’s day, flowers for FMIL for mother’s day, cucpcakes for Mr. Darcy’s birthday, spa package for pre-wedding prep).

There are ways to make any budget work. It doesn’t matter how large small the budget is you should be happy with the choices your making for the wedding. Do you have any budget tips?

Going Over Budget   Leave a comment

Is their something inherent about wedding budgets, you always go over. I am continually looking at our budget, but it just seems that we are keep going over. Not supremely over, but a couple thousand over. I started with a budget of $15,000 then it went to $17,000 because of some extra money being kicked in from Mr. Darcy’s family, but the plain and simple fact of it no matter which way I look at the budget reads $19,000. This budget is feasible for Mr. Darcy and I without us going into debt, but still not where I wanted it. I have a couple options:

1. To cut some of my extras like the extra two hours of photography time and videography time

2. To cut the linens

3. To cut the amount of food and alcohol being served

4. To cut the guest list

I think I am going to go with a combination of all of it. Cutting back our guest list a little more, cutting some of our photography costs, cutting back on some of the linens (like for the guest book table), cutting an hors d’ oeuvres or two, and slashing a few more people off the guest list. How does this seemingly inevitable feat of going over budget happen? Well there simply costs we did not take into account, such as feeding the wedding party on the morning of and for the rehearsal (we will not be having the rehearsal in the chapel, but rather in Mama and Papa Austen’s suite). These are not big expenses, but when added in with the tipping, another $600, and other little expenses, like programs, a picture treatment for the stairs (more on this later), and signage. Did you have any small expenses you did not account for in your budget? Did it push your budget way over? Did you try to cut in other areas or just go with it?

Posted April 24, 2011 by kcoleybear in Wedding Budget

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Budget Blown   1 comment

Yes, I have written those ominous words, that every bride swears, she will not do. It is not my fault, though. I blame the wedding gods. Before we met with our lovely florist we had met with a DJ, Mike from High Flying Entertainment. They have a digital faux-to-booth option. Mike did not refer to it by this term, so I quickly informed that is what it was, and my mom looked totally confused by my calling it so. I then explained to her and Mike that a faux-to-booth is an area with a backdrop that usually has props that people stand in front of to take silly pictures. Here are some links to some bees’ from wedding bee faux-to-booth, Mrs. Rainbow, Mrs. Quiche, Mrs. Bunny, and Mrs. Buttons. For those of you who are visual learners like myself, here are some pictures of faux-to-booths.


Well after  meeting with Mike we had an appointment with our florist to see a mock-up of one of the centerpieces we had picked out and to discuss what to do with our head table. Well after making a few alterations to our plans, adding linens to our orders, deciding upon a sweetheart table design. We then told her about our meeting with the DJ and we explained to her about the faux-to-booth. She also did not seem to get the concept (wedding vendors really should keep up on the trends and terms).  She said, oh no, I have a guy next door who will take care of you. Lickety Split she gets on her phone and five minutes later, Todd appears. We finish up with Randi and head over to Todd’s shop. Todd put Mama Austen and I in the photobooth with a box full of props and we had so much fun. Todd showed us all the options Shutter Booth had to offer. Mama Austen and I are so enamored with the whole idea. We love everything from the prop box to the bookmark sleeves to the putting the photo strips in to the scrapbook style guestbook. Needless to say Mama Austen and I were sold on the whole photoboth idea. We should probably not be allowed to wedding plan together by ourselves, because we find ourselves justifying spending money on items, that are not in the budget. Was there something you had to have for the wedding, that wasn’t in the budget? Did you regret your expenditure after?

Mama Austen and I have been diligently working on places to cut the budget in order to afford this cost. Our photographers had also used Shutterbooth at their wedding and they totally recommended them. This help me feel better about totally going out of control with our budget. Maybe not totally, but we shall see, how Papa Austen and Mr. Darcy feel about these expenses.

Posted March 26, 2011 by kcoleybear in Wedding Budget, Wedding Photography

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