I often read how hiring a wedding planner can actually save you money, but I’m always left wondering how? And how much?
Monica Saenz is a San Antonio wedding planner at Dos Chicas who recently emailed me an amazing wedding she planned with a $15,000 budget – and how she was able to save the bride and groom over $8,000. She achieve the couple’s dream wedding for 160 guests. And proves that a wedding planner who knows who to call and how to negotiate can definitely save you money (not to mention stress).
Here’s how Monica made the numbers work:
INVITATIONS-STATIONARY We went to my favorite invitation place where invites can go anywhere from $2.50-$12.75 a set. We discussed different budget options and chose a selection that folds itself into an envelope, for about $1.70 a set. They even made a separate invite for $0.89 cents in Spanish for the couple.
The couple also saved money by having friends and family print their ceremony programs, table numbers and escort cards with a little help and our templates. This saved them more than $700!
VENUE- Since the couple had family coming from Mexico, California and regions of Texas, we knew we wanted to show off the historic San Antonio Riverwalk. But with catering prices at $60 and up, we definitely could not choose this option. I talked to one of our venues who is managed by the city of San Antonio and they worked out a $1600 dollar rental INCLUDING tables, chairs, set up and clean up. It was a very modern, contemporary space with a patio that overlooked the river walk and two huge walls with windows leading to the patio. They fell in love and we were so happy to be able to afford it!
CATERING-BAR- Armed with an approved catering list of 12 vendors, and a vast knowledge of each of them, we scheduled a tasting with two potential caterers. We chose to go with a buffet dinner to save on labor costs and worked a deal with the agency to put together an ALL INCLUSIVE PACKAGE. This included dinner, beverage, china, glassware, flatware, floor length linens, chair covers, coordinating sash and candle centerpiece for only $20 per person! (This usually runs $25 per person plus $35 per table of 8) With the money we saved we were able to add hand passed appetizers for the cocktail hour and a hosted bar package of beer and margaritas for $11 per person. By limiting the beverage choices we cut costs and still allowed guests to pay for premium liquor if they chose. Total catering and bar savings was over $1500!
We saved them $100 by referring a preferred group for their dinner music and they saved $200 by shopping around for the right DJ online and allowing us to assist with their final choices.
The bride was not very particular about her floral needs and had no idea what flowers cost or how they quickly the price can add up. We decided to only have flowers made for the bridal party. Since the caterer included floating candle centerpieces, we created a centerpiece design with candles, feathers, and ribbon and then suggested the bride purchase the items wholesale to keep h er centerpiece cost under $4. It was the only wedding we had ever done without floral centerpieces, however it turned out beautifully. She was happy she had her friends and family help her tie the ribbons and create the look, and this saved her almost $1000!
CAKE Instead of opting for a traditional cake, the bride had an idea for a cupcake cake. Average cake slices start at $3.50 a slice in San Antonio, so we recommended to Cupcake Couture. Prices started at $2 a cupcake, and we added a small 6’topper so the Bride and Groom could still do the traditional cake cutting. They loved how we were able to tie in the colors and theme and save $250!
LIGHTING I knew a lighting specialist, Illuminating Celebrations, who was trying to get his business more exposure. After working three weddings with him previously I knew he would be happy to help this couple get what they wanted. His lights are 100% LED and really make any room pop and look like a platinum wedding. He was able to give us more than half off the lighting quote based on the fact that it would be a new venue where he could possibly earn preferred vendor status. He called this the wedding planner discount, the bride and groom loved it! We saved $650!
FAVORS The couple really did not know what to do for favors and the ideas that they originally presented were about $2.50-$3.50 per person. Based on their Hispanic Heritage, we suggested they use the traditional Mexican cookies and package them in a unique way as a sweet thank you to guests. An Aunt of theirs was happy to bake them and they purchased packaging for $ 0.75 a box. It was truly personalized with print at home labels and ribbon, saved them over $300!
PHOTO Average cost in San Antonio is $3500 for a talented photo journalistic wedding photographer with experience. I knew vendor, Nachyelli, who has recently opened her own business but had been doing photography for almost ten years. Her style was a perfect fit for the couple. We were able to get a $2000 package for $1500 since her date was still open and she was willing to work with a planner. We saved almost $2000!
ACCOMMODATIONS A soon as they told me about the out of town guests I knew we would need a room block. We researched and found a hotel with free hot breakfast, complimentary evening beverages, and high speed internet and across the street from the reception, it was a perfect fit! After a little negotitating with the Sales Managers I was able to get their rooms starting at $135/night instead of $189. Since we secured over 20 rooms, the Honeymoon suite was complimentary for two nights and the Sales Manager threw in comp nights for me to stay and handle any issues that came up. This made the couple so comfortable knowing they had me there at anytime and directly saved them more than $500!
TRANSPORTATION Originally the couple wanted to hire a hummer limo to transport their family/wedding party from hotel to ceremony then back to reception. We saved $250 by booking a stretch limo and having it make three trips instead of one, plus the cost per hour was negotiated to half the hourly wait during the ceremony idle time.
Enjoy the pictures from their friendly photographer!