Wedding Advice from a Newlywed

In this article I will share insightful wedding Advice, ideas, and suggestions for wedding planning on a Budget.

When two people decide to get married they enter into the unknown world of… wedding planning!  For the few who can afford it, wedding planning can be as simple as making a couple phone calls to a coordinator and showing up the day of the wedding.  But for the majority of us, that’s not the case.  We have to get organized, consider alternatives, and make compromises, all while keeping a close eye on the ol’ pocketbook.

When my wife and I got married last year we took on the entire wedding planning process to save money.  We felt we were creative and organized enough to pull of an event for our family and friends.  It’s exciting to pull off your own event but any wedding planning comes with its share of stress, frustration and a lot of research.  If I had to do it again it defiantly would have been wise to have a wedding coordinator the day of our wedding.

One of the things that would have been more helpful for us was solid wedding advice from couples that had already gone through the experience of putting together a wedding.  So, I’d like to share my personal experience of planning my own wedding reception along with some helpful wedding tips.  A lot of the advice I’m sharing in this article is sound advice we here at Eco Caters offer to our clients when they come in and sit down with us.  They might be things you and your partner might not think of.

FINDING A VENUE: Finding a venue in Los Angeles can be tricky.  Calendar dates fill up fast and you can easily drop a few grand securing a location.  Choosing a venue before setting the date is a great way to make sure your options are wide open.  It’s much easier to pick an open date off of a venue’s calendar, than it is to find a venue open on your calendar.  If you ever need ideas on finding a venue, give Michelle and Dana in our Los Angeles office a call.  They’ve got the Los Angeles landscape clocked and can tell you a couple quick options.

SUNDAY!  SUNDAY!  SUNDAY! Having your wedding on a Sunday is also a great way to cut down on rental costs.  Venues usually rent out their space at a discounted rate because they’re not in as high of a demand as their Saturday slots.  Having a Sunday wedding isn’t as uncommon as you might think either.  But, if you feel your wedding party is going to dance the wax off the floor and your groomsman just loves to see how much he can drink, you might want to stick with a Saturday wedding.

OFFSEASON: Having your wedding during offseason is another great way to save.  Offseason in southern California is usually during the cooler months of November through February. Wedding vendors generally offer better rates because they have less work.  Less work means vendors will have more time and freedom to help you with your wedding.  You’ll also have a wider variety of vendors and venues available for you since most of them will have large holes in the calendars.

DOES YOUR WEDDING VENUE HAVE A KITCHEN? Sure this venue is cheaper but will it be once you have to rent kitchen equipment? One thing most couples overlook when selecting their wedding venue is, “does it have a fully functioning kitchen?”  We cater at lots of venues that don’t have ample kitchens; there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you know that you might have to shell out $400 or more to rent an industrial sized stove, oven or fridge.  It’s a common occurrence to have rental companies do this but its something to keep in mind when pricing out your venue.

If you can’t afford to rent a kitchen, or your venue is historically protected and it is against the rules of the association, there is still hope for you!  Our catering company has catered places like this in the past and most caterers can adjust your menu to accommodate your circumstance.  The catering company would then cook the food at their kitchen and drive it out to the venue.  There are some food options that keep very well like roast beef (which gets more tender simmering in its own juices), versus fish (which doesn’t sound appealing simmering for an hour in its own juices).

PLATED?  FAMILY STYLE?  OR BUFFET? Aside from experiencing an endless array of possible food options and pricing, choosing the way you serve food during your wedding reception can also affect your cost.  There are three common styles of serving events: Plated, Family style, and buffet.

Serving your guests a plated dinner means each guest is served their dish, which was “plated” in the kitchen and brought out to their seat as if at a restaurant.  It is the most elegant way to serve guests and the chef will arrange the food beautifully on the plate.  Most times they will add flowers and other garnishes to compliment the food with a little color.  The downside to plated dining is that it is more expensive and may requires more staff on hand from the catering company to ensure all the food goes out to the table in a timely manner.

Family style dining is becoming more common at wedding receptions.  Eco Caters will usually plate the salads for each guest and then bring out large platters and bowls of the desired proteins and side dishes.  They’re usually garnished with fresh herbs, shallots, or a desired sauce.  I think this is an interactive way to serve guests because it requires everyone at the table to share.  It brings everyone together.  And, there are always extras if someone wants another helping of pork or mashed potatoes.

We’re all familiar with the buffet option.  Serving your guests buffet style isn’t the most elegant but it is cheaper and everybody does it.  Guests get exactly what they want and everyone’s happy.  Purchasing a couple flower arrangements to place around the chaffing dishes is an easy way to class it up a bit too.

WEDDING COORDINATOR: Coordinators can be expensive but their knowledge is invaluable.  They can save you money on rentals and venues too because they have relationships with everyone in the wedding business. Some couples choose to have a coordinator run the whole wedding from top to bottom but most couples I’ve talked to tried to make sure they had a wedding coordinator on the day of the wedding.  A day of wedding coordinator takes all the stress away from you and makes sure the entire event goes off like clockwork.

Eco Caters does tones of weddings around the Los Angeles and San Diego area both as caters and coordinators.  One nice thing about having your coordinator and catering company under one roof is that it streamlines the whole process.  You kill two birds with one stone and its even less of a headache for you.

BUDGET & TIMELINE: You don’t need me to tell you that your wedding is going to cost you some bucks but don’t be afraid to set limits and be creative.

My wife and I LOVED this Wedding Budget Tool from The  It’s free and awesome!  You type in how much you want to spend on your wedding and it calculates how much you should spend on A, B, C, and D.  It also has a check list that includes every single thing you could possible check before a wedding.  It breaks them down into timelines so you know what tasks you should be taken care of first.   We found this budget/checklist tool be one of the most helpful things out there.  It sets your mind at ease because it means you know your not forgetting something.

TALK TO NEWLYWEDS: Everyone’s excited to talk about their wedding so don’t be afraid to just ask people questions.  If you and your partner know another couple that got married in the last few years, have a sit down with them and let them tell you about their process.  And do it as a couple too!  You’ll be surprised to hear how different their experiences were in planning the same wedding.

JUST HAVE FUN! My number one, best piece of advice for anyone getting married is, don’t stress the details, just have fun!  JUST. HAVE. FUN.  Planning a wedding will be stressful at times but the when its all over, it will be worth every moment of it.  Your wedding won’t be perfect, and that’s the best part!  No one has a perfect wedding. Something is bound to go wrong.  When it downpours, or that rental company mistakenly drops off hot pink folding chairs, or your spouses uncle farts on the dance floor, or your dog/ring barer runs off into the woods ten minutes before the ceremony with your wedding bands tied to its back, remember, those are the thing your going to laugh about for years to come.

Now seriously, just go have fun.

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