There are only two things I know that can be spent in this life: money and time. When planning a wedding it is best to identify how much of each you have and make plans accordingly. Some of the best advice I ever received about planning major events was to try and figure out to the best of my ability what I thought things would cost – then double it! This way, the surprises that come along the way won’t have as much impact and expectations can be more realistic.
Some examples of surprises that impact a bottom-line would be things like security guards when serving alcohol, damage deposits, cake stand rentals (on top of the cake costs), delivery fees, service fees for cutting a cake, mandatory gratuities (as well as voluntary ones), etc. Many DJ companies charge mileage fees, set-up and teardown fees (or hide these in their “hourly rate”), insurance fees and more. The list goes on and on.
When planning in advance as to what vendors to book and when, I always advise brides & grooms to book their venues first and then anything else that is one-of-a-kind. If your favorite musician is available for that day, book them as soon as possible. Same thing with a quality DJ & MC. Since most entertainers are not big companies with multiple “clones” of the same product available, it is good to ensure that they are committed to your event early in the process.
Cakes, flowers, linens, and even catering can all wait until later in the planning process as these can be duplicated by many companies. For example, a bakery can bake many cakes for the same day, but a specific band or DJ can only be at one event that night.
Lately, I have seen a lot of wasted food and cake at many weddings. Since this is a major expense (as well as alcohol), try to be conservative on estimates for food – especially desserts and cake. Most guests do not eat two pieces of wedding cake, so make slices slightly smaller and talk to your baker about accuracy in guest count. I have posted a video with a lot of cake ideas that I have seen in the past couple years:
When the day is done and my bride & groom are finally married, people often look back at the things that they remembered the most. The venue and the entertainment are always closest to the top of the list. Food, cakes, linens, formal wear, dresses, limos, etc. all have a smaller role in the overall impact of the night. Have fun during the process and best wishes in your planning!