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how to save money when planning your wedding …

… and other erroneous advice brought to you by ABC News Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee (ABC meteorologist).

Let me preface this blog post before I begin that I absolutely adore ABC Good Morning America and all their anchors and professionals. NBC Today show can suck it as long as they have Matt (Narcissistic) Lauer as their anchor. Also I am proud to be on TV with a local ABC affiliate. So it saddened me deeply to see this segment they did about “saving money when planning your wedding”. Because the “expert” Francesco Bilotto and the information he passed on was a huge pile of  … well, you’ll see.

Here’s the online link to the segment, I highly recommend you click over and watch the video before reading my rebuttal. And in case you can’t watch the video right now, please read on.

I’ve printed out their 7 ways to save a buck at your wedding … my rebuttal is underneath each point.

1. Keep it simple. Don’t reinvent the color wheel with add-ons such as special plates and linens; try to work with the natural beauty of the venue.

Keeping it simple is certainly your choice. I do agree, don’t fight the venue. i.e. Don’t pick a rustic space if you want an elegant type of wedding. Highlight the natural beauty of the venue and don’t fight it. Agreed. However if you are not a flower person, then bringing in colored or textured linens is the least expensive way to make a powerful statement in your wedding decor. Ask an interior designer (not Francesco, apparently), what is the least expensive option to making a bold statement in a room? The answer: paint it.

2. Use a florist that is not on your venue’s preferred list. You could save at least $2,500 that way.

 You should know as a consumer that often venue’s “preferred vendor’s list” is a paid list. Which is not a big deal, but the venue should be transparent about it. They are not necessarily the best vendors around, just vendors that plunked down advertising money. Back to Francesco’s pearls of wisdom: While a vendor may have to pay a venue to be selected as a client’s choice, the average fee would be 15%, typically, not more than that. Perhaps in NYC it is more. Going with what bride Ginger was first quoted for her wedding flowers, $10,000, then that would only be a savings of $1,500 (at 15%).

3. Rethink vases. Adding vases to floral centerpieces could get add at least $100 to the cost of each table.

{Scratching my head} So, walk me through this  …. we are supposed to put green, wet, oasis full of flowers directly on the white poly table-cloth provided by the venue? What the hell is that suppose to look like? When it starts to fall apart and melt everywhere? And where are they getting small vases (shown in the video) that are worth $100 TO RENT? (I know NYC is more expensive than the Midwest, but not THAT crazy. I just got back from Manhattan two days ago and their gas price was only $.15 more a gallon than what we pay locally). Most small, round vases to rent would be anywhere from $4 – $10 a vase.

4. Rethink the flowers you choose, and how you use them. Francesco Bilotto, who is planning Zee’s wedding, is using carnations for her big day. He called it “the forgotten, abused flower.” He also said that not every table needs to have flowers. “Every other one, maybe do an arrangement and sporadic ones in between and some candles,” Bilotto said.

Okay, this I’m on board with. I love carnations, they are a less expensive flower. However you need to use A LOT of them to make an impact. Or you’ll end up with prom centerpieces back in the day (one carnation, one fern and one sprig of baby’s breath). *barf*

And IT IS okay to have tables with no flowers … lots of candles and water in vases. Oh gosh, yes, we’ll have to use vases for this as most venues do not allow open flame. Sorry Point #3, we’re now backtracking …

5. Rethink your wedding photographer. “The best thing to do is contact your local school – find somebody that wants to build a career with their skills,” Bilotto said. “Nine out of 10 you’ll save $8,000 just paying for the cost of their camera, their developing and their time. You’ve made a college kid happy and you’ve got some great photos.”

I am resisting the urge to start cussing like a sailor. In a few instances for our events, we have used second shooters or college students (think a photo booth or montage). Those are set-up shots with easy retakes.

I strongly urge you to use your money that you saved from not having vases on your tables (snicker) to put towards the best professional wedding photographer that you can afford. Please. It will be worth it.

SIDE NOTE: Bride’s do not care if they are making some “college kid happy” on their special, special day. Any experienced planner would know that.

6. Rethink having a formal, sit-down dinner. “I actually prefer you do not do that formal sit-down dinner. No one wants to sit next to your Aunt Sally with horrible cologne all night long,” Bilotto said. “Think about doing a few buffet stations or grazing stations, as the caterers’ call it, and a few hors d’oeuvres. Be careful with that because staff adds in the price again. At the end of the day, it’s about the people you are with.”

Listen lovelies, an hors d’oeuvres dinner will cost you more than a buffet dinner. A sit-down dinner will cost you more than a buffet, because the caterer has to have additional staff to serve. At the end of the day, it IS about the people you are with. But if your guests are leaving to go home to eat because they are hangry, then it will end up being just about you. Side note: go ahead and google “grazing stations” for weddings. Will. Not. Save. You. Money.

(Holy Smokes, we are almost done …)

7. Rethink the cake. (Yes, the cake!) Nowadays, many couples are opting for a smaller cake for cutting at the ceremony and feeding the guests a sheet cake. Or they’re having a “fake cake” made – an elaborately designed cake with several fake layers and just one layer for the couple to eat. And, yes, guests are fed from a sheet cake. Guests don’t need to know!

Late Breaking News: Use a fake cake for your wedding to save you money. {insert the eye roll} Here’s the skinny on this subject. One of the most expensive and luxurious resorts locally, West Baden Hotel, use fake cakes for their weddings. Always. One tier has real cake and that is what the couple cuts into in front of everyone. However, this is not to save you money. Oh, no. They still have to decorate an “elaborately designed cake” which takes time and artistry. And that charge is passed along to you.

The real reason they use a fake, ahem, excuse me … faux cake is so their guest service is not compromised. Couple cuts the cake on the dance floor, it is wheeled away … minutes later, the wait staff is serving cake table side to guests. This is of course from sheet cakes that were cut and plated earlier. Guests think the wait staff service is awesome, there are no delays and the meal service is completed quickly for dancing and other festivities.

THAT is why, Francesco, the fake wedding cake is a good idea. Wrap that up and stuff it in your pocket square.

I’m exhausted. My own final thoughts to this debacle of a segment:

  1. I bet Ginger is getting free wedding planning services from Francesco for media promotion. Can’t wait to see photos of her wedding from her university student photographer and loose carnation centerpieces.
  2. ABC should look into hiring university students to forecast the weather. I’m sure they could get them for $1,000 a month, a savings of ….
  3. Why show photos OF LAVISH and beautiful weddings while talking about cutting back on flowers and having no vases? (yeah, okay, I’m stuck on the vase thing, because it’s weird). It doesn’t make sense. Show photos of pretty budget weddings.
  4. Finally, we advocate and help our clients save money on their wedding day. This rant blog post was NOT about spending more money on your wedding, instead, knowing realistically and more importantly, accurately where you can save a dime.

ps I know you have opinions on this, so let’s do it. Come on’ …. post a comment.

plan on!

 

14 replies
  1. brad wilson says:

    Great article. You write with intelligence but you are also very fun to read. I agree, skimping isn’t everything. I say this as a luxury item at weddings. :-)

  2. Gracie says:

    You bought out a lot of good points and YES you are fun to read! The video did not open for me, but to give him the benefit of doubt it sounds like he’s left people with incomplete thoughts or facts on his perspective like the “no vases” thing….I don’t know. He should have demonstrated, if he haven’t, other center piece ideas that may or may-not include candles since some venues may not allow them.

    With that being said; he also had no idea what he was talking about on the buffet part.

    Good article and very funny :D

    • saundra, event engineer says:

      Thanks Gracie. In the video it shows him putting flowers into a wet oasis block. Then he says, you can just omit the vases and put this on the table. Um. What?
      Hey, I’m on live TV and I know it’s hard to say the right things all the time, but this was totally off point.

  3. Andy Ebon says:

    Saundra,

    Your comments are wise, smart and funny. Wish I could say the same for the GMA piece. It smacks of oversimplification, ignorance, and, in some cases, utter nonsense. It’s worse than misinformation; it’s disinformation.

    Thank you for your clarity and good humor.

    Andy Ebon
    The Wedding Marketing Blog

  4. Janet Frye AIFD, CFD says:

    Actually he was sticking foliage into a DRY Oasis block, one can only imagine how long flowers would last in that…. I’ll also mention that using enough flowers to cover the full block he used would cost about 3 times as much as the smaller designs that were shown. Here a ceramic container would be an upgrade over the clear glass & certainly not save the $100 he said it would.

    Plain & simple, he sounded like an idiot to most of us in the wedding industry and seemed to have little grasp on the realities of what he was talking about. “Hire a college student for photos” has got to be one of the dumbest ideas e-v-e-r, why any couple would risk having no photos of their wedding is beyond me. I know one girl who experienced this nightmare.

    Bottom line; Hire a professional and you’ll get Professional results. The best way to actually save money on your wedding is to be upfront & honest with your vendors, tell them your budget and ask them to do their magic!

  5. Rekeisha says:

    As a professional photographer I gave out a cry about the student photographer. The amount of planning and preparation that goes into the wedding day before you even get to the wedding day is much more that any student would know. Unless this student grew up in a family of wedding photographers.

    Great post Saundra

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