I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 3: Photographer & Videographer

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Welcome back friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. It’s crazy to me that we’re already in a new year. 2018 was quite the whirlwind for me, and I’m so thankful to be able to be planning a wedding with the best guy around. Today we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite pieces of the puzzle: the photographer and videographer! I’m breaking my usual mystique with this one, because I am so obsessed with these vendors that I have to give them crazy shoutouts. If you are in need of a photographer or videographer -- these guys are seriously the best! Honestly, I knew before we were engaged exactly who would be hired for these jobs.

Image Source: Melanie Zacek/Photo by Ashley Largesse

Image Source: Melanie Zacek/Photo by Ashley Largesse

Picking your photographer (and videographer if you’re planning to have one) is one of the most important choices, if you ask me. This person is responsible for capturing the essence of the day and making your memories last for years to come in the most beautiful way. I knew that we needed to have someone that we were comfortable with and trusted. That being said, there was no way anyone other than the extremely gifted Melanie Zacek would be shooting our wedding! I’ve had the honor of working with Melanie on multiple of our photoshoots here at Parsimony and guys, seriously, she’s amazing. The details she captures, her whole attitude and demeanor, I knew that I needed her at my big day.

In terms of videographer, I had been told by multiple people going into this planning that one of their biggest regrets was not having a videographer. It was something that I wanted to get into the budget if at all possible, and I’m so happy we’re able to make it work. Dmitry Gordievsky and his team over at Embark Films are crazy talented and once again, there was no contest in my mind. Dmitry shot the most epic movie trailer for our Love Lost at Sea photoshoot last year and I immediately became obsessed. I’m seriously like a kid in a candy store knowing that we have both of these incredible artists on our team.

Image Source: Embark Films

Image Source: Embark Films

I think one of the biggest things that most people don’t realize going into planning is how expensive it’s going to be to have a quality photographer and videographer at your wedding. I can’t emphasize this statement enough: you need to know that you’re paying for the quality in this situation! This is NOT an area that you want to skimp in. It WILL show in your end results! That being said, just because they are more expensive, doesn’t mean that they’re the right option for you. Really study their work and make sure that their style is something that meshes with yours and is something you really appreciate! These photos and videos are something that you’re going to look back on for years to come. When your memories have faded and you don’t remember those details on your own, you’re going to want to have these momentos to flood you with those feelings and help you relive the big day. These pieces are investments and you really want to take them seriously. I’ve yet to hear of someone who regretted hiring a great photographer or videographer, but I have heard plenty of stories from people who decided to go with cheaper options and quickly came to regret it.

Image Source: The Southern California Bride

Image Source: The Southern California Bride

Along the same subject line, Jaren and I have decided to have an “unplugged” ceremony. Meaning we don’t want any of our guests to have their phones, iPads, cameras, etc. out during the ceremony. I have seen many a ruined photo or video from someone stepping out into the aisle to try and get a great shot. While I appreciate that people want their own photos to remember the day by, that’s why we’re hiring professionals! We’ll be sharing all the photos and videos with everyone after the fact, but don’t want Uncle Bob’s iPhone blocking my face while we’re saying our vows (don’t worry, there is no actual Uncle Bob). As soon as cocktail hour hits, you can snap away, but until then, phones are away. I know lots of people have started trying this out and haven’t necessarily been successful, so my advice to other couples is to be extremely diligent about it. Not only will we have a nice sign reminding people, but we will also have the officiant make a reminder announcement before we walk down the aisle. Oh, and our vendors have all been given permission to tell anyone that they need to put their devices away should any be seen. Some may think that makes me a bridezilla, but if I’m going to be investing my time into creating a beautiful day and having it professionally photographed and videographed, you can put your phone away for a half hour.

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 2: Contracts

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Okay guys, one thing I didn’t fully prepare myself for coming into this wedding planning thing? Contracts. There’s a contract for everything. Which makes sense, it protects both parties and makes sure that everyone is getting what they are promised and providing what’s promised. But when I first started, it was a lot. I didn’t really know what I should be looking out for. What red flags would look like, if I could negotiate… I knew nothing! So today I wanted to help anyone else going through, or preparing to go through this process and share the list of things that Melissa showed me to look for in a contract, using our venue contract as an example. Obviously, each contract will be different in some way, but there are a lot of general things to look for regardless of what it’s for.

The Specifics

First thing’s first. Make sure to double check the spelling of all names and that contact information is correct! This may sounds like a no-brainer, but I totally missed that Jaren’s name was spelled incorrectly when I initially read our venue contract and that my phone number was missing. It wasn’t until my second pass that I noticed. Details people! If you aren’t detail oriented, it would be a really good idea to have another set of eyes on your contracts, at least while you’re getting the lay of the land. I have Melissa read through all our contracts before we sign off on anything.

Also in this category is the location information. Make sure the address, date and time frame are all correct. If you’re using multiple spaces within one venue, make sure that is all listed our properly as well.

Deposits and Minimums

Image Source: Real Simple

Image Source: Real Simple

If there are any minimums with your venue, you should already be aware of them. However, make sure that they’re listed correctly on your contract. For instance, our venue has a per plate minimum for catering, so we double checked that the figure quoted aligned with what what reflected in the contract. There should also be a clear statement of what your initial deposit is. Make sure that this is something you can pay TODAY! You can’t sign a contract if you’re unable to fulfill the financial obligation, especially because a credit card declined or a bounced check usually results in an additional fee. Always fully understand what your deposit goes towards (it should be going towards your balance of the event). They’re usually non-refundable to definitely be committed before signing anything!

Most contracts will lay out your payment schedule for the remaining balance after your initial down payment. Really review this, understand it, and make sure that you can meet the outlined plan. If you have any questions, ask! There was an error on our original contract, charging us $1,000 more than we were quoted. That was fixed in the next revision but our payment schedule was not, so it looked like we were going to pay more than our wedding was supposed to cost. (See what I mean when I say it’s all in the details?)

We had to give our credit card information for them to keep on file. Know what they are and are not allowed to use this information for. On our authorization form we had options for what could be charged to the card, so we know that the remainder of our payments will automatically be charged on the agreed upon dates.

Food & Beverage

Our venue has catering included, so this part may differ if that’s not the case for other locations. Regardless, know what is and isn’t allowed. Health laws will most likely prohibit any outside food from coming onto the property. This includes alcohol. Some venues will make exceptions for things like wrapped candy if you’re planning on having a candy bar. Know what the penalties are if you want to change your guest count, date, or time of the event as this will also affect your food and beverage charges.

Allowance and Limitations

Once again, it’s important to know what is and is not allowed with your rental. Can you bring in outside decor? Can you hang lights from the ceiling or walls? Know your limits! Also know what you’re liable for in terms of damages, replacements, clean up fees, etc.

Another point to note is what is done in-house and what is done by third-party vendors. For example, our venue contract outlines that they do not have in-house audio-visual equipment, but can provide it from a third-party vendor with proper notice, charging us for the usage.

Image Source: Wedding Sparrow

Image Source: Wedding Sparrow

Any quiet hours should also be listed on the contract. If nothing is listed, I would inquire -- maybe they don’t have any, but it’s pretty unlikely. Know what these are and make sure it’s something that you’re comfortable with. If you’re night owls and quiet hours start at 9 pm, this might not be the best fit for you.

Planning Deadlines

There should be a clear deadline listed for when you need to have your guaranteed guest count reported. Add this to your planning timeline (along with your payment schedule) so that you don’t forget! It would be a shame to pay for 70 plates if you only have 60 RSVPs yes. Wasted food and wasted money. No one wants that!

“Force Majeure”

This will appear in probably every contract. Standard legal language removing liability should anything crazy or Earth-shattering occur. If this is something that freaks you out, you should definitely look into wedding insurance (more on that another day).

Final Notes

Keep a copy of everything! Every email, every draft and revision, and your signed copies. Know the dates that they were all exchanged and when deposits were made. Heaven forbid anything come to pass, you’ll need to have all of this information at the ready. Being the crazy organizational freak that I am, I have a two part system. I have a hard-copy of everything stored in our wedding binder (complete with color-coded tabs) and I also store a copy of everything in our shared “Wedding Planning” Google Drive folder. This is my favorite because I have it with me everywhere I go and can easily check on details even if I don’t have my binder with me. It’s honestly a control freak’s dream come true.

Not the most exciting installment this week, but I hope it can help some other couples making their way through the process! I promise that next week will be way better… we’re diving into one of the topics I’m most excited about: photographers and videographers!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 2: First Round Guest List

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Welcome back friends! Can you believe it’s time to start going over the events from month TWO?! Holy moly, time is just flying by. The first thing we’re addressing this month is the process of starting to develop the guest list. Ugh. To be honest, I had already started coming up with a rough idea of this months before we even got engaged… that’s just who I am. This whole thing is definitely my least favorite part of wedding planning and reminds me why I stopped having parties growing up.

Image Source: @becccawaugh

Image Source: @becccawaugh

The guest list is pretty much synonymous with stress. Being that we’re trying to keep things small, you know going into it that you’re going to end up disappointing some people. Being a people pleaser, it’s really rough going into things knowing that. While I would love to invite all our friends and family from near and far, we’re just not looking to have a 200 person wedding (or have the budget for something like that). So, with that being said, Jaren came up with a really great guideline for us to follow: anyone being invited to our wedding has to be someone we both know on a first name basis and are familiar with. The more I sat with it, the more I loved the concept. Anyone that’s going to be invited to such a small an intimate gathering should be someone that we’re both comfortable and friendly with. It’s truly the people that we can’t imagine saying “I do” without.

Even within our families, there have already been some potentially ruffled feathers -- which I was totally expecting. Being that I come from such a large, close-knit family, my numbers kind of shoot up right off the bat. Just my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins total around 20 people. They’re all people that I can’t imagine getting married without. My cousins aren’t like normal cousins, we’re incredibly close and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We grew up with my two closest cousins in age living less than 5 minutes away. They’re practically a second sister and brother to me. So that was my non-negotiable family list. With that, there wasn’t much room to add in any great-aunts or uncles. That wasn’t to the pleasing of my grandparents at first, but luckily they’re very understanding and know we’re working with small numbers. Jaren’s family is much smaller and therefore he has a lot more flexibility to pick and choose who he really wants there. His numbers round out to be just under 20, so we’re pretty close on that front.

Image Source: Mod Weddings

Image Source: Mod Weddings

When it comes to adding friends into the mix, there’s not much room to play with. I think with our first round, we’re around 15 guests each, including plus ones, putting us right around our max guest goal of 70. It was difficult to make the decisions here, but at the same time, I tried to follow a similar mindframe as with my bridesmaid selection. Who are the people that I’m closest with in my life and really keep in touch with? The list kind of fell together and just felt right.

It’s funny to look back at some of the articles I’ve written pre-engagement and how my advice stacks up to what I’m actually doing. I actually looked back at my guest selection guide to help with the process. One thing that I hadn’t thought of before that has since been brought to my attention is having a secondary list. It’s possible that a lot of guests on our initial list may not be able to make it to the big day, which means we have two options: have a smaller wedding or add more guests to the list. Honestly, the idea of having a secondary list gives me anxiety too, because I’m worried that people are going to be offended if they weren’t invited originally but then get invited later on. But I would hope that on some level they would be happy to be invited in general. If not, they always have the option to say no.

Image Source: Junebug Weddings

Image Source: Junebug Weddings

With the wedding being almost two years out still, and save the dates not going out for quite a few more months, there’s always a possibility that things will change. That’s why I think it’s so important to develop your list early, so that you have time to tweak and really think about your choices. Right now, I’ve hit a point of acceptance where I’m trying not to overthink or stress over the guest list. With us not taking action on it for a few more months, there’s no use in fretting. I tend to be an overthinker, so instead of driving myself crazy, I’m focusing on the more fun and exciting aspects of the planning process! But more on that next week.

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: Finding My Bride Tribe

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Welcome back friends!

Today we’re going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: picking your bridal party. If I’m being honest, this is something I’ve thought long and hard about for years. And in that time, a lot of people have changed on the list! When we decided to keep the wedding small, I knew that it also meant that I would want to keep my bridal party small. I have so many amazing friends that I would love to have stand by my side for my big day, but if I had them all up there, who would be our guests?!

All wrapped up!

All wrapped up!

There are a lot of politics involved, and I really didn’t want to deal with that. I know we’re going to deal with that when it comes to trimming down the guest list. This should be a fun and simple choice. Traditionally you don’t need to pick your bridesmaids until the 9-12 month mark. But seeing as we’re two years out, I’m stretching the timeline a bit and didn’t want to wait that long (especially because they already knew!). That’s one of my favorite parts about having all this time before the wedding, I can really take my time to ensure that I’m doing things exactly how I want, and I have way more flexibility in when they get done. You can see our traditional one year timeline here and my modified two year timeline that I’m following here! So the decision came down to this: who am I the closest with? Who are those people that I talk to constantly and trust with my life? Like I said, there are so many great friends who would be wonderful bridesmaids, but three people were miles ahead here. My sister, my cousin (who is like a second sister), and my best friend for as long as I can remember (who is also like another sister).

At first I didn’t like the idea of having an odd number of bridesmaids, but I decided that the number isn’t what matters. I don’t have anyone else that I would put on that same level and if I started to branch out, I felt like I would get into that territory where I could potentially hurt someone’s feelings. I know it’s no fun to expect to be in someone’s bridal party and then not get asked. So by keeping it nice and small, I felt really confident in my ladies. Not that I need to justify my choices to anyone, but sometimes with the politics of wedding planning, it really feels like you do! I know that people will look at my bridal party and think “oh yeah, that makes total sense.”

Just a little something fun!

Just a little something fun!

So this was all my thought process before I even had that ring on my finger. Which meant that they all knew it and once we were engaged, I had to backpedal a little bit! Even though they knew I would be asking them, I still wanted to get them each a little something special because you only ask your girls to be your bridesmaids once! So to Etsy I went. I went personalized everything, because why not. Cute little boxes with their names on them, makeup bags with their names on them, knot bracelets with their initial on them, and probably the most perfect card I could ever find. “Now act surprised like you had no idea this was coming.” I’ll take three, please.

I think it’s so fun to get your girls a little something, especially knowing all the time and energy they’re going to be putting into helping you with your big day. Nothing crazy, but just a little something that says “I appreciate you!” I’m so lucky to have three amazing ladies to make up my tribe and so happy they all said “yes” to standing by my side! That’s a wrap for the month one breakdowns, but be sure to stay tuned because we’re only a couple weeks away from diving into month two and all things guest list, photographer, and more!

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!