Purple Clover Events

Purple Clover Events

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.  I’m a fabulous wedding planner, but you can’t trust me with tech!

While I’m working to fix issues with the website, please check out the wedding planning resources here at Planning Collective.  If you’re looking for information on wedding planning service, please email me at Kate@PurpleCloverEvents.com

Expensive Wedding Planning Mistakes

Expensive Wedding Planning Mistakes

Wedding budget mistakes

Four Expensive Wedding Planning Mistakes 


The budget is often the most stressful component of planning a wedding, and there are several mistakes that I repeatedly see couples making. These mistakes can really add up and impact the entire planning process.

Mistake One – Booking your venue before you solidify your budget

Wedding planning lists commonly start with booking your venue. While this should really be the first thing that you book or lock in, it’s definitely not the first planning task you need to tackle. 

If I could talk to couples right after they get engaged, I would make sure that they have the dreaded budget discussion before even looking at venues or other vendors online. In the second episode of The Wedding Planning Collective Podcast (Don’t Plan Your Wedding Backwards) I told you how to make sure that you are properly putting together your budget.

If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, make sure to check that out. Most couples will spend between 40% and 50% of their budget on their venue. Until you sit down and work through your budget and not just briefly discuss a general number, it’s impossible to know what the dollar amount associated with that 40% to 50% is. If you commit to, or fall in love with, a venue or a catering company that will take up significantly higher percentage of your budget, you’ll be forced to either make tough cuts in other areas or more likely end up being over budget from the beginning. 

If you’re in a traditional banquet hall or hotel type venue, that 40% to 50% is going to include the venue rental fees, ceremony and reception, the catering and bar costs, any service or staffing costs, so wait staff, bartenders, and taxes, service fees, and gratuities. If you’re hosting your wedding in a unique venue, or maybe your backyard, that 40% to 50% would include all of the above. So the catering food service and staff, taxes and gratuities, but you’re also going to need to include the rentals like the tent, tables, chairs, dishes, etc., into that 40% to 50%. 

You can see a lot goes into that number, which is why it can be a huge expensive mistake if you don’t have a solid understanding of your budget prior to committing to your venue.

Mistake Two – Thinking a backyard wedding will save you money (versus a banquet hall)

While you can pull off a simple and cheap backyard wedding, it often ends up being just as expensive as a banquet hall or another traditional wedding venue.  It also means a lot more work and planning to make sure that you have everything that you need.  

Most couples still want to have the structure or formality of a traditional wedding, even when they’re in their backyard, which means that you need to essentially build the venue from the ground up. If you’re thinking about a backyard wedding (or a non-traditional venue like a farmer’s market or a building that is more a shell of a space and you have to bring in everything), you need to make sure to get the backyard wedding guide.  It’s a complimentary resource where I’ve listed out all of the items and things you’re going to need to consider when you are building your own venue.

When you’re in a space where you need to bring in a tent or all the tables, the caterer, the ice, the forks, the knives, the napkins, you need this guide to make sure you have thought about everything and what the cost will add up to BEFORE you make the official decision. Take some time to add up what those estimated costs will be for those items, and then compare it to the top choice.

If you were to have your wedding at a venue, don’t forget that you’ll also be taking on the role of the venue or event planner. So there will be more planning time involved with a backyard event than there would be in a more traditional venue.


Mistake Three -Hiring your (non-professional) family and/or friends  

This one might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often I hear some form of “my aunt is making our cake”, or “I have a college friend that wants to be a wedding photographer”. And while the idea of saving money on these vendors can be appealing, it often results in added expenses and or last-minute scrambling to hire somebody else if they back out.  And because we’re talking about budgeting mistakes here, let me share some real wedding scenarios that have cost my clients a load of money.

  • A friend of the bride’s family that was supposed to cater the event. Unfortunately they bailed after the couple had booked the venue, which was only in their budget because they were getting such a good deal on the catering costs. This meant that they had to go with a more traditional caterer that had a higher price point, and it cost them thousands more than they had anticipated because they were counting on a non-professional family caterer to help them out with this.
  • A bride’s cousin messed up the invitation designs, forcing them to submit a rush order from a template website.  They ended up paying a lot more for overnight shipping than they would have if they had gone with that company a few weeks beforehand.
  • Friends of the groom offered to pack and clean up at the end of the night to avoid the cost of the caterers staying through the end of the party. Instead, the friends got drunk and left for an after party and the couple lost their security deposit because the staff had to stay overtime to clean up.
  • The mother of a bride wanted to make the desserts for a sweet station. While she was a really good baker, their oven broke two days before the wedding and they had to find another bakery last minute, paying again for rush service fees. And they did also pay for rush repair fees that didn’t end up solving the problem with the oven. So that was a very costly issue and added a bunch of stress in the couple of days before the wedding that they did not need to deal with.

I do want to be very clear here. If your family member or friend is an actual wedding or event professional, that’s not what I’m talking about here. You do want to be a little bit cautious about essentially mixing business with pleasure. If you are hiring a professional that also happens to be a family member or friend, I still recommend you go the route that you would if you did not know them – get that contract, get the pricing, get everything written down on paper.  Make it as much of a professional relationship as you can to avoid awkward issues in the future.

Mistake Four – Not having a miscellaneous category within your initial budget

It does not matter how detail oriented you are with your budget and planning, there will always be surprise costs along the way. These typically pop up in the weeks or months just before the wedding.

If your wedding will be at a traditional venue with minimal outside details or vendors involved, I suggest you plan on putting about 5% of the budget aside for miscellaneous costs.  If you’re at a unique venue or a backyard tented reception that we were talking about before, I recommend having closer to 10% for these unexpected costs.

Here are some of the most commonly overlooked last minute costs:

  • Stamps for the invitation and the RSVP cards
  • Delivery and service fees for rental items
  • Late night or after hour pickup fees
  • Gratuities for vendors or staff that go above and beyond for you (Get more info on vendor tipping here!)
  • Overtime fees for transportation or other vendors
  • Printing costs for things like programs, menus, place cards, etc. 

One last budget tip for you – I always recommend having between $200 to $500 in cash on hand on the day of the wedding. The amount would again depend on the number of vendors or variables that you have. If you have a lot of moving components, you might want to have more and smaller bills ready to hand out for those that are helping out. This way you can be prepared if you need to purchase something or have somebody run out to grab something for you, or if you want to tip an amazing staff member that’s made the day extra special for you. 

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How to Plan a Backyard Wedding

How to Plan a Backyard Wedding

How to plan a backyard wedding

Backyard Weddings

It happens to most brides at some point in the planning process.  The thought “we should just do a simple backyard wedding” crosses your mind.  While it is possible to have a simple backyard wedding, it’s often much more involved than most couples realize. 

In this post, we’ll go over the unique things you need to think about when planning a backyard wedding.  I do want to point out that the majority of these items will also pertain to a “unique venue” where you are responsible for bringing in all rentals, catering, and other services. 

The one thing I find in common about many of these spaces is that couples find that it can be an easier or cheaper option than renting a more traditional banquet hall or hotel venue. And then they find out that there are a ton of extra details that they need to worry about.

Before we get into it, I want you to grab the free guide that I’m going to reference throughout this post.  It’s going to outline the step-by-step details that we’re talking about here, as well as include a backyard wedding planning checklist.

All right, let’s get started. Our first two steps are going to sound pretty familiar.

Step 1: Backyard Wedding Budget 

Just like any wedding, you must discuss the budget first before you commit to anything else. The difference here is that a backyard or a unique wedding venue typically requires more vendors and logistics than you need to budget for. We’ll get into the specifics with steps four and five, but the biggest cost for a backyard or unique venue is going to be the tent costs or the venue rental, the hard rentals, meaning tables, chairs, etc., and then the catering and bar service that includes the staffing that you’ll need. 

These items combined will typically make up about 40% to 50% of your budget, so an oversight in any of these areas can really throw things off significantly. 

Step 2:  Create your Guest List

Again, this one sounds a little bit familiar, but it’s really important to make sure that you know how many people you’ll be inviting to your wedding, and if your space can accommodate it. 

If you’re unsure if your backyard or space can accommodate the guest list that you’re thinking about, have a rental company come out and determine the layout and capacity for the area. They can come out and measure the space and let you know what size tent you’ll need and how many people can fit under that tent. F

Step 3: Determine your Location Needs

Most couples planning a wedding at a unique venue start with a specific location in mind, like your backyard or a certain space at a family home. People often underestimate how much room they’re going to need and forget key elements that you need to host an event at home. 

Let’s talk about some of those now.

  1. Will you need different areas for the ceremony, cocktail hour dinner and dancing? How will the guests transition from one area to the next? 
  2. Do you have room for food service, like a catering prep area or buffet tables? I typically recommend a separate tent, but some caters are able to work out of the house or their catering trucks. Either way, the area needs to be easily accessible for them and easy for them to leave after dinner and not have to drive across a dance floor or a packed tent.
  3. Will you need to bring in restroom trailers? I recommend one toilet per 50 guests. And if you don’t want people inside the house, or maybe you’re going to have more people than the bathrooms in the house can accommodate, you will need to bring in trailers. (I will say that the portable restroom industry has significantly upped its game in the last few years. There are some really nice restroom trailers that you can rent. Your guests won’t even know that they’re in a bathroom trailer. Now, of course, these come at an extra cost, so we’ll want to make sure to add that into the budget.) 
  4. Is there electrical and water access in the spots that you need? So for catering prep, those restroom trailers, the band or DJ, lighting for the tent, lighting for main pathways, etc. Make sure you know where those electrical access points are and let your vendors know. 
  5. Is there an accessible parking area for the guests or for valet to park? You’ll typically have one car per two guests, but don’t forget the vendors will also need their cars close by. 
  6. Check with your city for details on noise ordinances. You’ll typically find that amplified music needs to stop at a certain time, but you can continue the party a little bit after that. Honestly, it all comes down to your neighbors, which brings us to
  7. If you’re worried about crabby neighbors, get ahead of it by offering them an invitation to the party.  Chances are though if they’re crabby neighbors, you don’t want them at your parties. So what we’ve done in the past is we’ve offered to pay for a hotel for them for the night so they can enjoy a nice staycation and you can avoid the noise complaints, shutting down the party. 
  8. Make sure to have a backup plan for bad weather. Ideally, you will not need to use it, but if you don’t have a plan for where the guests will go if mother nature does not cooperate, you’re taking a huge risk that can’t easily be addressed last minute. 

Step 4: Determine What Rental Items you Need

Organizing and booking your rental items is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to hosting an event at home or a unique venue. 

The main items that couples need are going to be:

  • Tent(s) for possible rain, but also for shade on sunny days
  • Tables (guest tables, catering prep, food service cocktail tables, etc)
  • Chairs for both the ceremony and the reception, 
  • Linens (both tablecloths and napkins) 
  • Serviceware (plates, dishes, silverware, flatware, and all of those details that you’ll need for the actual food service. 

For the full list, make sure to grab the free guide. 

Step 5: Determining What Staffing Help you Will Need. 

When your wedding is being held in a traditional venue, like a banquet hall or a hotel, you don’t need to worry about staffing for the event. When you opt to have your wedding in your backyard or a unique space, you will need to bring in all of those staff members. 

Now, sometimes most of this is going to be covered by your catering team, but make sure that you have this conversation with them ahead of time to ensure that everything is covered. So you’re going to need a catering company and a chef, wait staff that stays through the end of the night to bus the tables and clear the trash, and licensed bartenders (I recommend one bartender per 75 guests). 

You’re going to need to make sure that you have somebody to set things up and to tear it down. If you’re having the event at your house, I would highly recommend hiring a team to clean the house earlier in that week. You may also want to consider a valet team, somebody for coat check depending on the season of your wedding, and security if applicable. 

Step 6: Create your Layout 

There are free software tools out there, so I would recommend you sign up for AllSeated, Social Tables If you’re a member of Planning Collective, you’ll have a layout feature within your Aisle Planner account. 

Please do not just sketch out a layout by hand. It’s likely that things will take up more space than you anticipated. So while that’s a great way to start, make sure that you do have some kind of system that is putting things together by scale, because likely you’re going to think you can fit a lot more items in the space than is actual reality.

While you’re putting this together, I want you to remember these things that are commonly left off of layouts: 

  • Gift table
  • Place card table, or a spot for your seating chart 
  • The bar and space for a bar back table and guests traffic/lines (So make sure the bar isn’t put right next to one of the guests tables)
  • Dance floor or space for dancing (I recommend you start with a 12 by 12 space and anywhere up to 30 by 30 would be a very good size dance floor)
  • A catering prep area, check with the caterer to see how much room they need, and if they need any tables for their prep. 
  • If you’re assigning seats for the guests, make sure that you assign table numbers on your layout. It is a very easy thing to miss. 
  • Coffee and water stations, as well as a dessert station 
  • Table or a spot for your DJ or your band. 

Step 7: Setup and Tear Down Logistics

As you’re getting your quotes from the rental companies, you’re going to see that most companies will include drop off only, except for the tents. 

This means that you’ll be responsible for setting up and tearing down all of the tables, chairs, and other rentals. It seems simple, but it can be a very time-consuming task. 

Here are some tips to help you save either money, time or sanity, hopefully a mix of all three:

  • For setup, you can typically arrange to have the delivery of the main items (so the tent tables, linens, chairs) have that set up a couple of days before the wedding and picked up a couple of days after. 
  • If you have family and friends around, you can save quite a bit of money by doing the setup yourselves, if not, it is worth adding in that extra setup fee so you’re not running around and doing that last minute on the day of the event. 
  • Make sure that you give a copy of the layout to whoever will be in charge of the setup and discuss any possible alternatives that may need to happen.
  • For tear down, make sure to clarify with your rental company what their expectation is at the time of pickup. Do the tables need to be stacked by the driveway or will they take them and fold them down from under the tent? Can the chairs be left set up under the tent? Many companies have extra fees if they arrive and they’re not ready to be loaded up on the truck. 
  • Don’t forget about the trash at the end of the night. It may be tempting to say you’ll take care of it the next day, but the mess that a few critters can make overnight can be significant. So if your caterer is not staying to handle this through the end of the event, make sure you have a plan for where the trash will go and who will be taking care of it throughout the event.
  • And timing. If you are at a unique venue, make sure you have a clear understanding of what their setup and tear down timeline is. If you only have a couple of hours for setup and an hour or so for tear down, you’ll most likely need to hire somebody to help make it happen in that allotted time. The tasks often take much longer than you anticipate, and you don’t want to be running late on the wedding day or be hit with additional fees at the end of the night if you go overtime with your venue. 

Okay, I know I just threw a lot of information at you guys, but don’t stress out!  Take it one step at a time, and it will all come together. 

Again, make sure to grab the free guide to help you track all these details. You can also head over to the Wedding Planning Collective Facebook Group to get more support in the planning process.  


Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

Wedding Day Timeline



Working on your wedding day timeline?  Check out Episode 24 of the Wedding Planning Collective Podcast to get my tips on putting together a realistic timeline!

Grab your sample timelines below to get started!



Wedding day timeline template
Wedding day timeline template
Wedding day timeline template
Wedding day timeline template
Wedding day timeline template


Traditional Wedding Day Timeline
Wedding day timeline template
Traditional Wedding Day Timeline



First Look - Ceremony & Reception in Same Location
First Look - Ceremony & Reception in Same Location



Wedding Day Timeline First Look
Wedding Day Timeline First Look


Jewish Wedding Day Timeline
Jewish Wedding Day Timeline
Jewish Wedding Day Timeline


Jewish Wedding Day Timeline
Multi-cultural Wedding Timeline
Multi-cultural Wedding Timeline


Jewish Wedding Day Timeline
Multi-cultural Wedding Timeline
Multi-cultural Wedding Timeline