Wedding Day Emergency Kit

Wedding Day Emergency Kit

You never know what might come up on your wedding day, so it’s important to stock a wedding day emergency kit to have with you just in case!  In today’s episode, I chat about what’s in my emergency kit, FatMax, and breakdown the most important items I think you should have with you on the big day.

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Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

One of the most common questions I get is what wedding vendors should we tip.  There are many different variables that can come into play, but I can share some general advice and suggestions for what to consider when putting together your vendor gratuities.  

There are some vendors that require a gratuity for their staff.  Most often, this is written into your contract and added to the final balance.  These vendors typically include your caterer and/or reception venue, transportation, and beauty team.  So, make sure to check your contracts with these vendors to see if your gratuity has already been included, or if there is a required amount you are responsible for. 


Listen to the Podcast Episode on this topic here! 

After that, gratuities can be considered for those vendors who have helped make your day special.  The unwritten rule is that if the vendor works for someone else (for example, a photographer shooting for a larger company), it is more common to give them a gratuity.  On the other hand, ff they are the owner of the company, it is less common to give them a gratuity.  My personal opinion, if you’re grateful for that persons role in your big day, it’s never a bad thing to show your appreciation!  If you have had issues or concerns, don’t feel the need to give them a gratuity.

If you’re unsure if you want to give a wedding vendor a tip, you can certainly hold off until after the wedding.  You can always mail a gratuity or thank you card or gift after the wedding 

What Wedding Vendors Expect a Tip?

  • Catering/Bartenders/Wait staff
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Transportation
  • Officiant/Church
  • Ceremony Musician

What Wedding Vendors are Optional? 

  • Photo/Video
  • DJ/Band
  • Planner
  • Baker
  • Florist
  • Photobooth/Entertainers
  • Rental Companies
  • Venue Coordinator  

How much do you tip vendors? 

The only real “protocol” would be the standard 15-20% that you would consider in the rest of the hospitality world.  However, if you paid $4,000 for a photographer, they are definitely not expecting a $600-800 gratuity.  I typically recommend you consider how much this vendor helped you throughout the planning, and anywhere between $50-200 would be appropriate. 

Alternatives to a cash tip?

However, your budget might not allow for you to tip all the vendors you would like.  There are alternative ways you can  show your appreciation.  For instance, if you know your DJ loves a certain kind of beer, or your photographer loves a good glass of wine, pick up a case or bottle for them.

Another way to show your appreciation is to leave them a review on sites like WeddingWire and TheKnot.  You can also make sure to “tag” them in your post-wedding social media pics, and make sure to recommend them to friends and family.  That can go A LOT further than even the most generous tip!

One last tip!

On a similar note, I have a recommendation for handling any final payments that will be due on the wedding day.  While most of your vendors will require final payment in full well before the wedding day, some will will be due  the day of.

 I strongly recommend that you take care of these payments beforehand anyway.  It’s very easy for you, or the designated person for this task, to get distracted and forget.  You don’t want to be in the awkward position of having a limo driver or DJ asking for money in front of your wedding party or guests!  Therefore, it’s much easier to just take care of it beforehand to avoid any inconvenient or embarrassing moments on the wedding day.


Marriage or Mortgage?

Marriage or Mortgage?

Marriage or Mortgage?

Hey guys!  This weeks post is a bit different, and I’m excited to share it with you!  We’re going to talk about two of my favorite things, weddings and reality tv!

If you follow me on Instagram, @planningcollectively, I’m sure you’ve seen that I binged the new Netflix show called Marriage or Mortgage right away, and LOVED IT!   For those of you not familiar, the premise of the show is that engaged couples have saved between $20-$30k, and they are deciding on putting that towards a wedding, or a down payment on a home.  

Each of the 10 episodes features a different couple, and they work with realtor Nichole Holmes and wedding planner Sarah Miller to go through the options available to them with either option.  They tour 3 homes within their budget with Nichole, and Sarah walks them through potential venues, catering options, and other wedding details for their dream day. 

In the end, the couple meets with both Nichole and Sarah, and tell them what they’ve decided.   The episode wraps up by flashing forward a few months, to see the couple in either their new home, or on their wedding day.  

Earlier this week I had the privilege of chatting with one of my favorite  couples that was featured on the show, and I’m excited to share that with you all here!  Check it out, and then scroll down to see my key takeaways for all couples that might find themselves in a similar position.  

Denise & Nick are one of the most loved couples from the show. They are the absolute sweetest, and i’m so grateful that they could share a bit about their experience in not just the show, but how they went about making their decision.  This is your official spoiler alert that we do talk about their final decision, so if you haven’t watched yet, make sure to do that first.  Their featured in the second episode titled “Adopting New Traditions” 



    So what are my thoughts on the show?

    Many people have an immediate reaction when they hear about the premise of the show, and it’s definitely not in favor of weddings.  I have to admit, when I first heard about the show, I was very nervous that it was going to be a horrible reflection on the wedding industry.  That’s actually what initially made me watch the show right when it came out, planning to do a podcast episode defending the wedding industry. 

    I was very pleasantly surprised that the show really did a great job representing the decision making process, and how, for some, it can be a really tough call to make.  Of course, it is a reality show, so there there were some things that were thrown in for entertainment purposes on both sides that might not be standard for most couples either buying a home or planning a wedding.  And because we only see 44 minutes of a weeks worth of filming, there were some important details that didn’t make the final cut.  I can’t speak to the real estate side of things, but I did want to highlight a few of my main take-aways here.  

    1. Everyones financial position is different.  While we only get surface details on what the couples do for a living, and certainly not any info on the status of their bank accounts, we do know that they have a certain amount of money set aside for either a wedding or home.  I did love the approach that this meant they were taking with the wedding budget, having a big picture number of what you actually have to spend, vs. planning a wedding and then figuring out how to pay for it.   I get into this conversation about the budget, and how most couples plan their wedding backwards in Episode 2.  Make sure to check that out, if you haven’t already! 
    2.  Everyone’s life priorities are different. If you’re looking to start a family, spending money on in vitro, school, or other massive expenses, putting a chunk of money towards a wedding (or a house, for that matter) may not be at the top of your list. On the flip side, if your family/friends don’t live close to each other, or you don’t get to see each other often, the idea of having everyone together in one room to celebrate your marriage could be an amazing experience.  We often hear that the best gifts to give are experiences, and that’s exactly what a wedding day does.   Now, I would guess that a few of the couples could probably afford to do both at a similar level, but that doesn’t mean that both would be priorities for them 
    3. Everyone’s wedding priorities are different.  For this one, I’m going to refer you to the first episode of The Wedding Planning Collective Podcast.  I go over the main categories of wedding planning, and help guide you  through what your priorities would be fore your wedding day.  
    4. The negotiations seen on the show are definitely not the norm. Again, I can’t speak to what might be normal deals when you’re buying a house, but I’m guessing both sides received some of these amazing discounts because of the potential promotion of the show.  That said, a wedding planner can definitely help save you money.  Sometimes it’s in actual line item discounts from their vendor connections, but often it’s by saving you from making really expensive mistakes! 
    5. And finally, you can do both!  No one is saying that whichever you pick, you can never have the other!  You don’t need to spend all your savings, whatever that might be, on one or the other.  Whether you split the difference evenly, or favor one or the other.

    So, what are your thoughts?  Check out Marriage or Mortgage on Netflix, and then head over to the Facebook Group to discuss!

    5 Things you Need to Know about Pinterest Weddings

    5 Things you Need to Know about Pinterest Weddings

    If you’re planning a wedding, you’ve most likely spent some time on Pinterest.  I really love the platform, and I encourage my clients to use it.  But there are 5 things that you need to know about when it comes to wedding pins on Pinterest. 

    The biggest thing to note is that many wedding photos are you’ll see are styled shoots.  That means that it’s not an actual event, but rather a collaboration of vendors working together to show off their work.  If you see only one reception table in an open field, or just a ceremony set up with only a handful of empty chairs, there is a good chance it was from a styled shoot.  

    Now, I’m a fan of styled shoots, and have participated in a few myself.  The problem is that they are often not realistic for several reasons: 

    1) Vendors want to promote new/upgraded/top of the line products.  This means you’re typically seeing their best products/services, which might not be conducive to a typical wedding budget.

    2) If you’re looking at a photoshoot at your venue, the layout or set up might not be realistic.  For a styled shoot, you don’t need to worry about the guest flow, size of the event, or if the catering staff can make their way between the tables.  Make sure to discuss these details with your planner or the contact at your venue.  

    3) You’ll often see fully set tables, or things set up that wouldn’t be set out for a typical wedding.  For example, most weddings won’t have the dinner plates set out prior to the guests arriving.  The guests will get them at the buffet, or the wait staff will bring them with dinner.  Because of this, your tables might not look as “finished” as the pictures, or you may want to rent charger plates to complete the look. 

    4) PLEASE don’t ever put glass containers or candles down your aisle.  I absolutely love the look of an aisle lined with candlelight, you’ll see photos of them all over Pinterest.  The problem is that I can just about guarantee that a guest is going to bump into one, sending wax and broken glass everywhere.  And it’s going to happen just minutes before the ceremony.   

    An alternative would be to use flameless candles set out on their own, or in lanterns.  I’ve seen some gorgeous photos of strand lighting along the aisle.  Make sure to consider guest safety, and not creating a trip hazard with where they are plugged in.  Keep in mind that most ceremonies occur earlier in the day when the candles or lights won’t be visible.  If this is the case, you most likely wouldn’t have the same visual impact as the styled shoot photos anyway.

    5) And the final issue with planning your wedding on Pinterest is that you have no concept of budgets.  For styled shoot images, you typically see only one or two tables or settings.  If you were to replicate that design for all the tables, it could be a very expensive wedding!  Even if the photos are not from a styled shoot, often the most popular pins are from higher budget events.  It’s easy to fall in love with a look, only to be disappointed to find out what the actual cost would be to make it happen.  

    Now that I’ve spent all this time warning you about the negatives of Pinterest, why do I still encourage my couples to use it?  

    1. The visual of the images makes sure you and your vendors to be are on the same page.  There won’t be any confusion over shades of pink, or the shape you’d like your bouquet to be.
    2. It’s a great place to get started, especially for those lost or confused about wedding design

    Finally, I want to share a few tips with you to make the best of your Pinterest experience!

    • Do you love a table design, but it doesn’t fit in your budget?  You can use it for your head table, and use a more affordable design for the guest tables.
    • If you’re flexible with the type of flowers you use, ask your florist if there is a cheaper alternative available to create a similar look to an inspirational picture.
    • Add notes in the comments about what you like and dislike about the pin. You might love the flowers, but not the chairs or linens used.  Adding these notes in helps to ensure everyone to be on the same page.
    • Follow your venue and vendors for more inspiration for your wedding.  
    10 Wedding Vendors Every Couple Needs

    10 Wedding Vendors Every Couple Needs

    Wedding Vendors You Need

    Once you have your venue and date secured, it’s time to start thinking about the rest of the team.   So how do you determine what wedding vendors you need?  

    Most couples will have the following  10 “core”members in addition to their venue:

    1) Wedding Officiant 

    A very important vendor, especially if your ceremony is NOT going to be at a religious institution.  Some couples opt to have family or friends take on this role, but it is also a professional position.  

    2) Ceremony Venue

    Whether it’s a church or your backyard, where you say your vows to each other is typically the first vendor/contract that is signed when it comes to wedding planning!

    3) Reception Venue

    Just about every wedding ceremony needs to have a celebration!  You might have just a small gathering at a restaurant with immediate friends and family, or a huge blowout at the fanciest of hotels.

    4) Caterer/Bar

    If your venue does not offer catering, you will need to hire an off-site catering company for food beverage services.  Some venues have strict requirements on who you can hire, others don’t have any restrictions. 

    5) Music (ceremony and reception) 

    Most couples go right to the question of band vs. DJ when they think about music, but don’t forget the ceremony and cocktail hour!  Many bands and DJs can provide this service, but it’s also a great time to add in a jazz trio or string quartet!

    6) Photographer 

    This one’s pretty obvious, you’re gonna want a photographer!

    7) Florist 

    If you are doing your own flowers, please remember these projects can’t be done more than a day or so in advance. This is already a busy time with final appointments and wrapping up other details. Adding in floral arranging can make those few days before the wedding unnecessarily stressful.  

    8) Baker 

    Similar to your caterer, this might be something that your venue already handles.  If not, make sure to ask if they have any required bakers that you must use, or if they must be a licensed bakery

    9) Hair & Makeup 

    Most brides choose to have professionals do their hair and makeup for their wedding day.  Before you can secure them, you’ll need to decide on where you will go (in salon vs. house/hotel), and how many in the wedding party will need services. Don’t forget those outside of the wedding party that might want to participate, like moms, grandmas, or siblings.  

    10) Stationer (invites and other paper products) 

    What’s the point of having a party if you don’t tell anyone about it, right?!?

    What Wedding Vendors are “Optional” 

    1) Wedding planner 

    I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I truly believe that having a professional wedding planner on your team is the best sort of insurance you can have for your wedding.  Having a planner involved from the beginning (before securing any venues or vendors) can ensure that you are looking at the right options for your style and budget.  

    Many of our full service clients hire us AFTER booking their venue, and are locked into pricing that may work with their overall budget.  A good planner will save you money in the long run, and will save you from many stressful moments and planning headaches.  If you are thinking of hiring a full service planner, they should be the very first thing that you book! 

    1.5) ”Day Of” coordinator

    While nothing beats the personal attention that you get from a full service planner, I highly recommend you have at least a “Day Of Coordinator”.   The name is deceiving though, as no professional can simply show up on the wedding day and be able to execute things seemlessly.  

    Most planners begin their Day Of services a month or two before the wedding.  They will go through the details and suggest any adjustments or things that you may have overlooked.  They will connect with all of your vendors, and make sure all of the details are taken care of before the wedding day.  On the actual day, they will help to run the event, working with all of your vendors to bring it all together.  

    I often refer to us as the “Team Captain” of the wedding vendors.  Our role is to make sure everyone has what they need to make the day absolutely perfect! 

    Note on Venue Coordinators-

    Many locations have in-house coordinators, some even calling themselves Day Of Coordinators.  Do not mistake this for having an outside planner involved in the wedding day.  The venue coordinator is there as the point person for any venue and catering details for that day.  They will most likely NOT be involved with the other vendors, wedding party, or other specific details that an outside planner would be there to cover for you.  Many times they are covering other events happening at the venue that day, and will be taking other appointments and tours while they are there.

              Generally speaking, their focus will be divided that day, whereas an outside planner will be dedicated to your wedding alone, making sure nothing is missed!  

    2) Videographer

    I often hear that couples would love to have a videographer, but it’s just not in the budget.  While I totally understand this, there’s nothing like hearing your vows, or relive your first dance on your anniversary.  Hiring a professional videographer is an investment, but please do give it some consideration.

    3) Transportation 

    This is typically pretty cut and dry, and very dependant on the venues you’ve booked.  If everything is in one location, you’re lucky enough to skip this category!  Many times, however, the ceremony and reception are in different locations, or maybe you want to take photos at on offsite location.  In this case, you will most likely have to arrange for a limo or shuttle for at least the wedding party.  Additionally, if you have a significant number of guests that live out of town, it’s often a nice consideration to arrange for them to get from the hotel to the venue locations, as they are most likely not familiar with the area.  

    4) Rentals 

    This is another category that is dependant on the venue that you’ve booked with.  Most will have what we refer to as “house” items, meaning the tables, chairs, and linens that come with the space.  If you’re at a more bare bones venue, you might be required to rent all of these items.  Alternatively, some couples simply don’t like the house options, and will choose to rent items that fit their design or look better.  

    Outside of the necessary tables, chairs, and linens, so other common items that couples will rent are charger plates, lounge furniture, dance floors, and draping.  These are all optional, but can really change the overall feel of the event.  Many rental companies will offer special rates if things are booked together, or at the very least, you’ll save on delivery/set up costs if you book rental items together.  

    5) Lighting 

    If you’d really like to transform the look of your space, lighting can make a huge difference.  Dance floor lighting and uplights are the most common,  butchat with your lighting company about additional options.  Bistro lights, pinspotting, truss lighting, and stage lighting are not as common, but can also make a huge impact on the event design.

    6) Photo booth 

    While the traditional booths are still popular, there are now many other alternatives to consider.  This includes “open” concepts, live streaming, or other fun twists on the initial concept that include posting to social media.  Another fun throwback that’s been trending recently is a “DIY” photo station with poloroid cameras.  This allows your guests to take their own photos anywhere at the event, and they can incorporate these into a keepsake guest book.

    Now that we’ve discussed WHAT wedding vendors you need, take a look at this post to learn more about how to hire your wedding vendors!


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