I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: The Venue Hunt

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Hi friends!

Jill here again. In case you missed last week’s introduction, I just got engaged and am starting the wedding planning process while sharing all the real time details and steps with all of you! I hope that this can give you some direction in planning your own big day, especially if you’re an everyday girl with an average budget just like me. Today we’re talking all things venue-hunting. Buckle up, because this one has some bumps in the road!

Before we got engaged, our original plan had been a fall 2020 wedding (October 10th to be exact, because how cool would it be to say your anniversary is 10/10/2020?!), but upon engagement we decided to try and get things together for an October 2019 wedding instead. Well, friends, that was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life. I reached out to 20+ venues, all of which were already completed booked solid for October 2019, many of which already were partially or completely booked for October 2020 as well. On top of dealing with the venue search, we were being overwhelmed with love and support from friends and family -- which is great, don’t get me wrong -- and the chorus of “when’s the wedding?!” already beginning one week in.

Off to venue hunt!

Off to venue hunt!

We hit a point where we pretty much accepted that it was going to be a 2020 wedding and that there was a good chance that it wouldn’t be on 10/10 either. From there, the pieces sort of fell into place. It’s amazing how life works out when you just accept that things will be what they will be! We re-visited our list of venues that we liked, narrowed it down to a handful that were in our ideal budget and location zone and reached out for their availability. For round one, two of the three had 10/10 open and a third had a later October date available, so we set up venue tours.

Melissa, Parsimony’s Owner and Creative Director, impressed on me the importance of viewing multiple locations of different caliber and style to really get a feel for what we want and what our options are. That being said, if you don’t have the budget for a $10,000 venue, don’t go see it. Because chances are you’ll fall in love and then be crushed when you can’t afford it or you’ll compare every other venue to what you saw there. That last condition crossed quite a few options off our list! It’s also extremely important to review what is and isn’t included in your venue fee. Are tables and chairs included, or will you have to rent those separately? Can you bring in whatever vendors you want, or are you stuck choosing from a preferred list? Does the venue host multiple weddings a day, or are you the sole occupant for your day? If catering is only in house, do you have minimum spending amounts? You can download the full list of questions I asked here. The cost of catering can really come into play quickly with your budget as well. Many of the places I started to look at had low venue fees, but astronomical food minimum spending requirements that knocked them out of the running. That’s fine for some people with larger guest lists and budgets, but we just aren’t looking to drop $15,000 on food for one day. This is why it’s really important to know what is included with your venue fees. Is it just for the space, or is catering included? It can be really deceiving to see a venue with a super low fee only to find out something like this where it’s crazy pricing for the in-house catering. Definitely keep that in mind during your venue hunting process!

Exploring venues in person proved to show a huge difference at times from what you see online. It’s almost like house shopping where you look at the space and think “hmm, they must’ve really gotten up into this corner to get a great angle to make this space look so large online.” Smaller spaces, deteriorating conditions at times… it was certainly an eye-opener! Driving all the way out to places, having a great tour, only to be told that they actually aren’t available on the date they said they were, but that they have a Friday open instead. It was definitely a frustrating process at times. After our tours, we had a favorite of the three. It was a beautiful location, checked most of our boxes, was budget friendly, and had 10/10 open. But something just didn’t feel totally right. We took a few days to really think things over and weigh our options. It’s difficult when you feel like you’re up against a clock and dealing with a budget. Was this the best we were going to get for our price point? Can we overlook the things that didn’t really align with our vision for the day? After reaching out to a few more venues, we decided that yes, we thought this was probably going to be our best option, so we asked to see a copy of the contract to start reviewing.

Then, my mom threw us a curveball.

This, my friends, is a perfect example of “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” My mom had mentioned a specific venue to me on multiple occasions and I basically just assumed it was way out of our budget from places in the same area. Well, my mom decided to put in an inquiry to find out some more information. And man, are we glad that she did! Not only did they come in right around (if not slightly under) the same price point of the first option, but it was absolutely beautiful. We immediately set up a viewing to go see it in person. And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. Like I said, the price point was right where we wanted it but our dollar went much further at this place. I think it actually checks all the boxes on our list. While it’s a little further out of our initial radius, we easily conceded that point for all the added pros it has over the other locations we looked at. I really think it’s going to be the perfect location for our wedding!

Moral of the story: it doesn’t hurt to ask and never settle! Go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Sure, we would have had a wonderful and beautiful wedding at the first location, but the second place really just blows things out of the water. Ask questions, review your options, and really just don’t give up! Researching a variety is key if you ask me. We went from looking at a big venue that can host up to almost 200 people to a venue specifically designed for smaller, more intimate weddings that max out at 90 people. Not only did the spaces seem to fit what we were looking for more, but because they’re expecting smaller groups, it was priced much more accordingly.

Not only did we find a perfect venue (for us) but we got our date… 10/10/2020. Things have a funny way of working themselves out. All that’s left is to dot the I’s and cross the T’s and we’ll officially have our venue!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: First Steps

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Hey friends!

If we haven’t already met, hi, my name is Jill and I’m the Editorial Director here at Parsimony. This company is my heart and soul, so when I recently became engaged and we discussed my writing a column in real time to share the struggles and ups and downs of the planning process, I couldn’t wait to start! Coming from a background in the wedding industry, you would think that I would have been adequately prepared to start this journey -- I thought so too, but NOPE! I’m just your average girl with an average sized budget trying to create my dream wedding. Each month, I’ll share what’s been going on in the planning process. The highlights, the struggles, what I expected versus the reality… all the good stuff. When applicable, we’ll also provide resources and downloads that have made my life easier along the way. So with that being said, let’s dive in!

Our “we’re engaged” selfie!

Our “we’re engaged” selfie!

It’s been almost one month since I said “yes.” Which seems totally crazy! It’s certainly been a whirlwind month to say the least. I think once the initial crying and jumping up and down wore off, it was almost like a “what now?” kind of moment! A million things on the to do list immediately jumped into my head. The first being: we need to tell people… the right way. This meant making sure that all our loved ones found out from us and not from social media. We sat down and made a list of those people (romantic, right?) and decided we were going to hold off on social media for a few days. By the end of the night, we were completely exhausted from all the phone calls, facetimes, and texts we exchanged with friends and family. We gave ourselves a few days to just soak it all in and get some nice pictures before we went public with it.

You can mentally prepare yourself as much as you want, but I don’t think you’re ever fully prepared to announce your engagement and have so many people reach out to congratulate you. People you haven’t spoken to in years will come out of the woodwork. People whose numbers you don’t even have in your phone anymore will text you. And some of these people will even ask if they’re invited… awkward! My best advice is to smile and just roll with the punches, things will quiet down after the initial excitement wears off. Laugh off the questions about when the wedding will be and just say you’re enjoying the moment and excited to experience engaged life. You don’t owe anyone any answers but just remember how lucky you are to have so many people who care and love you enough to want to share the happiness of your big news!

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Now when it comes to the actual planning, the first step is definitely sitting down and establishing a budget. We had a rough estimate of what we wanted to spend, but after sitting down and looking at average costs, we made some adjustments. It’s also a time to consider whether or not you’ll accept any assistance offered by loved ones and whether or not that will affect your budget or if it’ll just save you money from the original bottom line. It’s important to have a clear-cut established budget right off the bat to make sure you aren’t going wild only to find out you spent 75% of your budget on a venue. We have a great outline illustrating what percentage of your budget should be used for what category. You can download the worksheet here!

In our budget meeting, we reviewed a couple of venues to get a feel for what we were both looking for and discussed general ideas and came up with a first round guest list. We both want a small wedding, so we’re looking at a max of 70 people thanks to my large, close-knit family. Style, guest list count, and budget will be three of the biggest factors in your venue hunt, so make sure you discuss them before you start seriously looking.

From here, the real fun begins! Your next step will be officially starting the venue hunt, which I can pretty much guarantee you, will be an adventure. We’ve had quite the wild ride with this one, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week!


Planning Your Engagement Photoshoot with Melanie Zacek

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‘Tis the season of engagements! After the initial excitement starts to ebb, it’s time to get down to business and make some fun decisions. One of the first tasks to handle: your engagement shoot! We had a chat with the amazingly talented Melanie Zacek to put together a full guide on planning your engagement shoot -- everything from timing to what you need to bring to make the day a success.

TIMING

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

How soon after your engagement should you be scheduling your engagement shoot? How far before your wedding should this happen? Well, it all depends! If you’re planning on using your photos for your Save the Date cards, you’ll want to schedule the shoot for 6-7 months before the wedding. Not including photos on your Save the Date? You have the flexibility of scheduling your engagement shoot anytime before the big day!

Should your engagement shoot match the season/theme for your wedding? It’s totally up to you! Sometimes it's nice to have a completely different look for your engagement session. For example if you are having a summer wedding, a cozy snowy day engagement session could be fun! Just make sure you time things properly if you are using images for your Save the Date cards! If you want these to have images with the fall foliage, make sure you plan with plenty of time in advance so you aren’t rushing to get your cards together at the last minute!

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

What is the average turnaround time a couple should expect to see images in? The turnaround time for photographers will really depend on the time of year you are getting photographed. If it’s during the summer or fall (the height of wedding season), turn around times may be slightly longer. Melanie’s average turnaround time for engagement photos is 3 weeks.

How far before a wedding should a couple plan to book their photographer? If you want to have your first choice of photographer booking about one year in advance is a good bet.

PREPARATION

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

What should you bring with you to your shoot? Melanie photographs with a timeless aesthetic that highlights the emotion between couples in gorgeous natural settings. Because of this, she finds that props aren't necessary for the shoot. Of course if couples would like to incorporate a prop, such as a picnic setting or something similar, they are more than welcome to bring whatever they like! She recommends bringing 2 outfits to the session. Typically one formal and one casual outfit works well! Pinterest is such a great resource to get outfit ideas. Melanie always tells her clients to go with light colors and neutral tones. Be sure to have your ring cleaned and your nails done before the shoot, as the ring will certainly be featured in the pictures!

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

How can a couple help make the shoot run smoothly? One of the most common concerns from brides is that they are worried their fiancé doesn't like having their photos taken. Spend some time looking at your photographer's blog and showing your fiancé some engagement photos so they know what to expect. Melanie photographs in an easygoing way and gives directions to guide couples into natural poses. More times than not, grooms will end up coming back after the shoot to tell her that they actually had fun! Picking a photographer that you are comfortable with and feel a connection to will really help. Another huge part of making sure the shoot goes smoothly is to give yourselves plenty of time to arrive on time. No one wants to feel frazzled if they’re running late!

Any other tips/tricks for a recently engaged couple? At the end of the day, you want to relax and enjoy your shoot and entire wedding planning process. It’ll fly by and be over before you know it! Make sure you’re creating and documenting the happy memories to look back on for years to come.

Are you looking for a photographer for your wedding or engagement shoot? Be sure to check out the incredibly talented Melanie Zacek to document your special day!

The Ring Boxes

Now that you have your fabulous ring to flaunt, it’s time to get the ultimate inspiration to start planning your big day!  What better way to get inspired than to receive a box full of bridal goodies every month?! The Ring Box is a monthly subscription that sends you a variety of popular products leading up to your wedding day. In three simple steps, you’ll be unboxing happiness in no time! These boxes will include items such as tank tops, groom flasks, cake toppers, spa & beauty products, and much more.

 

Be sure to subscribe and use our 15% off discount using the code PARSIMONY15! Enjoy!