Planning a wedding can be stressful, we know. There's SO MUCH to think about, so many unexpected details. What's more, there are so many unexpected expenses. (What?! I have to buy gifts for my bridesmaids AND feed my photographer's assistant? What?! There are taxes, fees, AND shipping and handling?) Which is why we at the Savoy believe it's that much more important for those of us in the wedding industry to be up front not only about the costs of our services and products, but also about what's INCLUDED in those services and products.
With this being said, here are our top tips for navigating the world of wedding planning shopping, which, we imagine you already know, is full of options that are definitely not created equal.
1. If It Sounds Too Good to Be True...
Unfortunately, we've all had the experience of thinking we were getting a deal and finding out later that we were, in fact, not. The shoes only lasted two weeks. After a free month of service, the cable subscription skyrocketed. Sadly, this is the world we live in, where service charges, add-ons, taxes, fees, and gratuities are often hidden in the fine print. To this end, in the wedding world, venues that at first glance appear "cheaper" or more affordable may not be in the long run--because they charge extra for items that may already be included with your higher priced venues.
Consequently, things start to add up fast.
Having worked in the business for over a decade, we've heard heard horror stories from brides and grooms who hired DJs that didn't show up on time or just did a bad job. (Can someone say The Macarena?) Or who ended up with rubbery chicken for dinner, bought 50 miles of tulle to pretty up a venue, or the cake that looked nice, but had the consistency of sand paper. You get the point. Everyone loves a good bargain, but most the time the old maxim is true. You get what you pay for.
As consumers and people who budget just like you do, we don't like this either.
2. Ask a Hundred Questions (Communicate)
At the Savoy, we strive to be as clear as possible about what is and is not included in the renting of our venue. At the same time, we know that each couple has unique concerns, so we welcome your questions about what the money you may spend with us actually gets you. So this is our suggestion when dealing with ANY potential provider--ask a bunch of questions. Even if they seem silly. The idea is that you don't want to be surprised. Bring a calculator (and don't be afraid to use it). And a list, so you don't forget. For example:
- How many hours of service are included? Are you willing to stay late if we go long? If so, how much will you charge?
- (For venues) Are you handicap accessible? Do you have plenty of air conditioning/heating? Wifi? What about bathrooms? And--seriously--toilet paper? If so, who's responsible for changing out the toilet paper? And the trash bags? Do you do that, or do we?
- (For venues) Is everything I see currently in the venue included in my pricing?
- (For venues) Do you have a room attendant or staff that will be on hand? Whose job will it be to clean up at the end of the night? Should I ask my grandma to stay and help?
3. Focus on Quality
Years ago I bought a pair of jeans for $200. Sure, it was a big purchase, but those jeans have held up. I still wear them all the time. So when I think about the money I spent, I think, Worth it! In the long run, I probably saved money because I didn't have to buy other jeans or have those repaired. This is the case when shopping for wedding services too. Sometimes spending more for quality in the beginning means savings in the end.
PRO TIP: If you want to know how a business is going to treat you (or whether or not they're focused on quality), check out their bathrooms. Messy bathrooms? Run the other way. Sparkling bathrooms? These are people who pay attention to details and want you have to have a good experience.
Speaking of which--
4. Remember You're Purchasing an Experience
On some level we all know that when we buy a car we're not just buying something with an engine and four wheels that get can us from point A to point B. We're purchasing an experience. That is, the way the car makes us feel. Which is why some of us gladly pay extra for heated seats and tinted windows. And why some of us are content to drive a clunker and roll our windows down for air conditioning. Neither way is right or wrong, it's just what kind of experience we want.
Our encouragement is to keep this in mind when you're planning your wedding. What we mean is, sure, it may be cheaper to have Uncle Joe take your pictures, but you may end up hiding them in a box under your bed instead of keeping them on your mantle for years to come. We knew photographers who not only took bang-up pictures, but also remembered the names of everyone in the wedding party and was somehow magically able to put even the most stressed-out couples at ease. Yes, he was expensive by some standards, but talk about getting more than you paid for!
With this being said, our final piece of advice is to search out venues, vendors, and providers that come highly recommended from people you trust, people who say, "I'm SO GLAD I went with this person. They went above and beyond. If I had to do it over again, I'd happily pay even more." That's when you know you have a winner. When price is a factor, but it's not the DECIDING factor.
As always, if we can be of any help, please give us a call (and ask us a hundred questions).