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Planning Basics: How to Make a Stationery Budget that’s Perfect for You

Properly budgeting your event is SUPER important, but often times people miss certain sections that they feel are less important and then majorly regret not looking into them further.  Like your invitation and stationery budget. It’s not that people forget they need invitations, it’s that they don’t realize all that fits into this category and ultimately budget way under what they need. (Like WAY under!)  So today, I am gonna talk actionable steps to help you create a event budget (and stationary budget!) that’s perfect for YOU.

Image of Notebooks, Sticky Notes and Pencils

Whether for home or (in this case) your big event, setting a budget can really be a pain in the f*cking ass. There are people that all over the internet saying you have to spend at least $25K for your event to even be slightly awesome. Then on the other end you have people swearing that anything over $5k is just ridiculous. I mean really? That’s a huge difference!

Everyone’s tastes, inspirations, and priorities are different. Some people might want to focus their money on their guest’s experience or flowers, while others may what a upscale cohesive story that slowly introduces their guests to the event. The only person that can tell you if your budget is right for you, is well, YOU! I mean budgets aren’t one-size fits all….that’s just dumb!

Well let’s jump on in.

Creating A Budget that's Perfect for YOU!

you gotta know what your planning

Let’s be real, it is impossible to set a budget if you don’t know exactly what your planning. Is it a black tie soiree with fine china, velvet couches and a live big band or more of a cozy fall gathering at a local barn with burlap and shiplap throughout?

If your not quite sure what you want? Hop over here and check out 6 things to consider before choosing your vibe. Once, you have an idea of your vibe, start pinning your heart out. If you need some inspiration, check out some of these boards. After a while, if your boards start to look a bit chaotic be sure to organize them. If you aren’t sure how to do that you can head over here and see how to organize and prioritize them into a mood board.

Oh, I almost forgot, try not to rush this step. Take your time. If you are a #pinterestaddict like I am, then take a few days to pin like crazy and come back to your list and add more.

now let’s make some lists

Hey guess what? I have made a Trello budget template that has all these lists already made for you! You can grab it here I even added examples and organized them a bit to help you follow along and get an idea of what I’m talking about. Before editing the boards be sure to copy the board to your account, if you need help doing this you can find a tutorial on copying a board here.

Board One: What’s Most Important to YOU?!

So this board is all about keeping you focused with your eye on the prize while you are racking and stacking vendors and money.

what’s your mega goal?!?

To start off, let’s think BIG goals. This is your over arching umbrella goal that will help you better prioritize your smaller goals.

Things like:

  • Amazing Food
  • Cohesive Design,
  • Epic Party
  • Memorable Guest Experience.

In my trello template, I went with Cohesive Design (we are going with a potter theme if you hadn’t noticed…is this hinting at things to come?)

via GIPHY

anyhoo….moving on

a couple mini goals = mega goal victory

Ok, so now we need to figure out the things that will make this mega goal happen.

So…

Let’s say your theme is Harry Potter and your BIG goal is a cohesive deisgn.
(If you are as nerdy about HP as me, then you’ll love my inspiration board)

To make this possible, you might wanna:

  • Book a Venue that looks like Hogwarts
  • Find a Wedding Designer that is Potter Nerd
  • Order Custom Invitations that are Potter-centric
  • Find a Dress that looks like Hermione’s Dress Robes
  • Figure out how to make floating candles like in the great hall

If you aren’t quite sure how where to start on this step, here are some examples to give you a jumpstart:

These mini goals are your event’s priorities and where you will be spending the majority of your money. Which in turn has helped us create our next board: your Must Haves List. (and why we did this whole exercise…)

board two: must haves

So this board is where you will spend a good chunk of time before solidifying your budget. And since there will be so much information, let’s take a second to go over how I organized this real quick.

Each budget category has as a colored bar attached to it to make it easy to find. I didn’t color code it (believe me I wanted to, but I felt that may be a little over board.) Each vendor is underneath it’s category in all caps, again to make it easy to find. The items which that vendor is responsible are under the vendor. If you notice, some vendors are on multiple boards, this is based on your priorities. For example, Stationery is on both Must Haves and Things to Work In but for completely different items. As you can see, this is why so many people guess so low on their stationary budget!

Image of my Trello Budget Template

And we’re back…lol

So the first vendors to go on this board should be the ones that help crush your mega (and mini) goals most. Sometimes, vendors may accomplish more than one service so be sure to think and ask about what all your vendors have to offer, such as:

  • If you hire an event planner, they may include furniture and linen rental.
  • If you decide to work with a photographer, they may also do videography.
  • Venues sometimes offer catering services/alcohol.
  • The stationary designer you like may also offer calligraphy.

board three: things i want to work in

So once you have your must haves you are going to repeat those steps on this board, but with all the left over things that you want to work in, but can totally live without. These things would definitely help you accomplish your mega goal, but not having them won’t detract from your event either.

So…How much is this all gonna cost?

Ok, so we did all this prep, to finally get to the place where we talk money. So, let me be very clear about this step, because it is super important. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT just throw numbers at this. It will make you sad, disappointed and way over-budget. So here is what we are going to do, get a metric shit ton of quotes!

stocking your vendors…aka getting quotes

This part is fairly simple, stock the websites of the vendors you want for each of your categories and submit a custom quote request for each of them. Get at least 3 quotes (if not more) for each category. Here are a couple things to note:

  • Your quote request should be the same for all vendors in a given category (i.e. don’t ask for a 5 tiered cake from baker a and a sheet cake from baker b)
  • It’s OK to tell the vendor that you are shopping around so you can properly set an appropriate budget. They will appreciate your effort to make an educated decision!
  • Don’t commit until all the quotes come in! That being said, if you are feeling like you and this vendor aren’t a good match, walk away and find another vendor and get a quote from them.

NOTE: There is a major exception to the “at least three quotes” rule.  If this vendor is so super talented, that you have dreams about them working with you on your wedding.  You only have to get a quote from them.

As the quotes come back, be sure to attach each vendor’s quote to their accompanying card. Adding Details to the card about your interactions with vendor is always a plus.

apples to apples, not plums to grapes

Once you have all the quotes for a specific category you will need to compare them for important factors:

  • Are all the quotes for the same items or services?
  • Did one vendor have a minimum order quantity, while the others didn’t?
  • Did one vendor’s standard package include something that was an upgrade for another vendor?

If any of these things happen you can do two things, a. ignore it (which I don’t suggest) or b. go back to the vendors and even the playing field. Using the examples above the resolutions would be:

  • Clarify your requests so you and the vendor are on the same page.
  • Increase the order quantity on the quote with the vendor without a minimum order quantity, just to compare apples to apples.
  • Go back to the vendors with the smaller standard package and upgrade to make the playing field even.

This whole thing could take a week or six, it will just depend on the complexity of what your asking. So, don’t get too discouraged if this takes a while.

Ok, so now that everyone is on a level playing field (comparing apples to apples, not plums to grapes) to make a worse case scenario budget, take the highest number and enter it next to your category name. Go through and do all the categories and add it all up. This is you worst case scenario.

the final countdown

So, some people may see the worst case scenario and say no problem and leave it at that. While others, if not the majority, may blow a circuit. And this is where the hard part comes. You may now be second-guessing having a giant chess set custom built for your guests to play, and decide on croquet instead (just call it quidditch). Or maybe instead of shipping in ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour you can make due with a local ice cream vendor (who knows, they may make you a Potter Inspired special flavor!) As you slim down your must-haves, be sure to move the extras over to Things I Want to Work In. That way, if for whatever reason, money apparates out of nowhere you have ideas on how to spend it all.

If you look at the list and just can’t part with anything, and you know that large number isn’t what you had planned you could extend your engagement to save a bit extra to have the wedding of your dreams!

bonus

I added a two additional cards to the Trello Template as bonuses just for you!

The first is a due dates list. This is where you would put all the payments you need to make. Don’t forget to assign a due date! If you click the calendar button in the top right corner of the board, the view will switch to a calendar where you can see all your due dates and can even move them around with a click and swish.

The second is a list of budget trackers to help you stay on track. Keep checking back as I will be adding more tools to this as I find (or make) them.

I hope this has helped you understand how to make a budget that’s perfect for you! If you liked what you saw of Trello, stay tuned for next week’s blog post. Sabra (She is my virtual assistant Wizard, and is the Hermione to my Harry.) is going to show you how she uses Trello to manage her to dos and organize her life.

Six Things to Consider Before Choosing Your Wedding Vibe

So you’re engaged!

Wedding party clicking champagne glasses

After planning a nerve wracking proposal, the wonderful and tearful “YES” that followed, now the hard part is done, right? If only! But before you start planning your wedding, you should first ask yourself, “what kind of wedding do I want to have?”

As important as colours and decor are to your theme, finding your vibe has many components. It represents you, your culture, your personality, the love you two share, and so much more. So, what kind of impression do you want to leave with your guests? More importantly, how do you want to look back and remember your day?

So, today I am going to give you a little food for thought and help you on your way to finding your perfect wedding vibe.  Let’s dig in!

Multi-Color Floral Bouquet

Choosing an Overall Theme

If you love the idea of a very formal event, something in between, or completely informal, these all need to be taken into account when choosing an overall theme. Whatever you choose should be consistent throughout the entire event, from ceremony, pictures, reception, venues, even your food and beverage!

Be it rustic-chic, country-western, Hollywood-glam, vintage, the possibilities are endless. You may even take a few of these ideas and combine them to suit your personality.

  • Are you someone who enjoys the outdoors? Do you love to travel? Maybe a garden or destination wedding would be more your style!
  • Perhaps you enjoy the classics, vintage décor, soft touches, subtle beauty, or maybe you’re a bit more loud and in your face.

Whatever the case, whoever you are, let it shine through in your theme!

Once you‘ve got a good sense of where your niche is, hone in on it. This will make planning the finer details much more seamless.

money saving tip:

Here’s a little trade secret…
Weddings held during the day are significantly less expensive than an evening affair! Something to keep in mind if you’re running on a tighter budget!

Choosing a Season

If you’re anything like me and hibernate in the winter, steering towards a warmer season may suit you best. You could be the opposite and love the thought of freshly fallen snow to bundle up and prance around in!


What season calls out to you?

If your wedding is going to be outdoors, this will have a huge impact. You’ll likely try to utilize the warmer months so your guests don’t freeze the single dramatic tears that fall from the joy that fills their hearts when they watch you say “I do”.

Finding the right Venue

Now that you’ve picked a big picture theme, you can start to look at what venues will cater to your unique vibe.

Your perfect venue may or may not be a blank canvas that you can decorate how you like. It’s smart however, to find a venue that you find fits your vision, so you can see if any colours you want to implement will clash with strongly patterned walls or floors.

In any case, start with something neutral and add a pop of colour. If your colours allow, throw in a contrast! Metallics are great for this.

Let’s talk turkey…or at least catering

The time of day you choose to host your wedding will determine how you should expect to feed your guests. What kind of food do you envision?  The level of formality will come in quite heavily here.

Do you envision champagne and hor’deuvres circulating and a plated three course meal? Maybe a buffet is more your style!  Here are a few examples to give you a few ideas:

  • Candle-lit affairs that scream whimsical romance will likely be held in the evening with dinner and cocktails.
  • Maybe you’re a lover of breakfast food and would love a brunch wedding with pastel colours and mimosas.  

Whatever your food choice, make sure it falls in line with the vibe and theme you are trying to create.

Don’t forget some entertainment!

One of the key components to the vibe of any wedding is the choice of music. Discuss with your band or DJ and be certain they can provide you with the tone you want to set!

Now all you need is something to tie it all together!

Adding a Touch of YOU

Is there something or someone you want to shine through on your big day?

  • Maybe you’ve served in the military and you want to honour your time served.
  • You may have a relative that isn’t able to be at the wedding and you would love to show honour in subtle ways.

Finding ways to tie these kinds of special treasures in your theme are what can really make a wedding unique and especially treasured in your hearts forever.

Having said all this just remember….

As much as the things that make a wedding special are found in the finer details, too many details will have the opposite effect you’re looking for.

So sit back and look big picture as to what you want to remember, and what you want your guests to remember about your wedding. Anything in excess can derail even the best of intentions, so be mindful of how you tie it all together.

Now step back, take a deep breath, and bring in the experts to make your event exactly what you want it to be, without all of the added stress!

To crowning moments and blissful memories…

Beth


Beth Olatunji is a Toronto based Wedding Planner that brings to life elegant weddings for busy couples and is the owner of Bliss by Beth Events. When not planning gorgeous weddings, Beth is passionate about cooking, baking and spending time with her daughter.

Learn how Beth can help you make your Big Day a Dream Come True here.

Should I Send Save the Dates?

Save the Date with Envelope

I see it all the time, Brides and Grooms stressed out about purchasing Save the Dates “in time” because somewhere online said that Save the Dates have to go out before the invitations. But do you even need to send Save the Dates?
 
Well let me let you in on a little secret….you don’t!
 
And let’s be frank, there is not one card in an invitation suite that is mandatory. Heck, if your eloping you don’t even need the invitation!  That being said but there is still a lot of confusion when it comes to Save the Dates. So let me put your mind at ease
The easiest way to know if you should send out Save the Dates is to look at your wedding date.
The Wedding Date will be the key element in almost all your decisions for your wedding. Having a date allows you to back into all your deadlines. The first questions from almost every vendor will be, “When is your wedding?”
 
Here are our suggestions for Save the Dates, based on you Wedding Date
12 0r more months away: We recommend Save the Dates
With this much time until the big day, you may want to send out a Save the Date to your guests so they can pencil your Big Day into their calendar.
6-8 months until the Wedding: We say skip ’em!
You Big Day isn’t too far off!  Save some money and forget the Save the Dates.  BUT, if you have your heart set on sending them, who’s gonna stop you!  ?
5 months or less: Forget the Save the Dates!
If you haven’t already started working with a designer, or picked out your invitations we highly suggest you do this step now.  You ideally want to contact your stationer 20-26 months out from your wedding to ensure you reserve a spot on your schedule, and they can get all the materials in for your custom designs in time for you to send the invitation suites. (If you haven’t chosen a designer and are starting to feel a little overwhelmed, pour yourself some wine and click here to schedule a Free design consultation.)
At the end of the day, whether you send out Save the Dates or not, it’s your Wedding! So do what feels right for you and your fiance.
 
How far out is your wedding?  Did you send Save the Dates?  We want to know!