Wedding Budget Tips:

Are we talking about money?! (nervous laughter…someone drops a teacup for dramatic effect) Why, yes we are.

The “Wedding Budget” is one of the most important, and yet one of the most neglected conversations happening with Brides and their families! Whether it is with your parents, your fiance, or yourself, the conversation needs to be had so you know where to begin! Would you plan a trip across the world without knowing how much $$ you have set aside for it? NO WAY! You would find yourself overspending, possibly getting into major financial trouble after just booking the flights! The conversation may be uncomfortable (especially when it’s someone else’s $$ you are asking about!!) but push through the wall of awkwardness, ok? It will SAVE YOU in the long run!

Money is often an emotional issue, but I encourage brides and their families that during wedding planning, just make it as black and white as possible. It will make deciding whether or not you can afford the tent 3 months before your wedding a guilt-free conversation! Either it’s in the budget, or its not. You don’t spend money you don’t have, right?

So I’ve put together my top tips for creating a wedding budget and sticking to it!

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#1 Have the conversation.

Tips for starting up the $$ convo:

If your parents are giving you most of the money for your wedding, maybe have the discussion while doing something nice for them. NO. This is not to manipulate them into giving you MORE. It’s to show some gratitude.

“Hey Mom! I’m bringing over wine tonight; let’s nail down our wedding budget!”

or “Mom and Dad, let’s find time to talk about our wedding budget and priorities this week! Dinner is on me!”

If the conversation is with your fiance, then plan a fun date night to talk it through!

** My first budget conversation with Joe was unfortunately after we were already married, and let’s just say, it involved taco bell and lots of tears…

If you and you alone are paying for the wedding, then grab some coffee, a calculator and an excel spreadsheet and settle in for some back and forth with yourself and a few pro’s and con’s lists.



#2 DON’T COMPARE.

There is more than one way to get married. The thing is, everyone’s priorities vary! The bride who is on a $10,000 budget might make her priorities different than the Bride on a $40,000 budget! Make your priorities to scale-don’t try to have a $40,000 wedding on a $10,000 budget, or a $100,000 wedding on a $40,000 budget. Do what you realistically can well. It’s not about keeping up with anyone else.

What are some examples of priorities, you ask?

All my brides this year are SO different, ya’ll! So I can give you great examples.

Violet is getting married in the Spring. She is on a budget that allows her to do 1 big thing really well. What has she chosen? AMAZING FOOD! Think 4 course, highest quality, memorable morsels. What is she saving $$ on? Venue, flowers and decor!

Sarah is getting married in May. Her number one priority is spending time with friends and family and staying on budget! She is investing most of her $$ into food and decor, but is still saving by doing an afternoon ceremony and reception with appetizers, getting her venue for free (family church) and having lots of help from family and friends to pull off her dream!

Alise is getting married in late Summer. She knew from the start her #1 priority was having her event in a hotel so guests wouldn’t even have to leave the building at the end of the night! Guest experience is what she wants to invest in most! Great food, great drinks, and partying literally all night long. Where is she saving? She is doing elegant, but minimalist decor and flowers.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your budget is. Just know it, and prioritize according to it, and you can pull the big sha-bang off!

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#3 Guest count and wedding cost are directly correlated!

Want to know the easiest way to stay on budget? Keep your guest list small! I had a bride tell me last year that she wanted to plan a reception for $6,000. When I asked her how many people she wanted to invite she said 250! Food alone was going to be more than $6,000…So she had to either adjust her budget or her guest count. The moral of this story might be to make your guest count and budget match, just as much as educating yourself about how much things actually cost.

Which brings me to….

#4 Know how much things cost

I see it every time. Brides and their families are shocked at how much a wedding costs. I still feel shocked sometimes!! I mean a lot of people cannot afford to drop more than $20,000 on a wedding, but you can’t feed 150 people dinner at your dream venue with lush centerpieces, and the designer chairs, and open bar and all the things you might think you can for that amount.

So do your research! It’s ok to figure out how much a vendor costs, but please do them the courtesy of getting back to them if their cost is not the right fit for you. Another idea is talking to friends of yours who have gotten married to see what they spent in each category! Most friends are totally willing to share!

I work in this conversation at the very beginning of our planning process! I give you average costs based on # of guests, and help you find the vendor that is the best fit for you based on your budget and priorities. Making a realistic budget that reflects your priorities is the most vital part of the whole process, because it sets you up for success, and we all want success! Cheers! (clink)

Want to do a budgeting workshop with me? Drop me a hello to find out how!

xoxo

Ashley

December Vendor Spotlight: Chattanooga Espresso Catering

“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening…It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup”

-Gertrude Stein

Last month, I hosted a class up at Grandview with several AMAZING vendors that helped make it great. Among these friends were Ryn Loren Photography, The Copper Quail, Molly Nicole, White Table and Petaline Floral. But I had the great pleasure of working with a new company who was so generous with his time and resources and made the best damn espresso I’ve ever had. Let me introduce you to Ben Schnell, entrepreneur and owner of Chattanooga Espresso Catering:

Photography by  Ryn Loren Photography

Photography by Ryn Loren Photography

Ben initially learned his coffee trade as a barista at The Camp House, years ago here in Chattanooga. He then trained at Counter Culture’s lab in Atlanta. He enjoys making fancy drinks for his wife, Natalie and playing with his daughter, Eva.

From the beginning of my last-minute idea to host a class, Ben was super supportive. When I was pretty worried that no one would show up, and just hated the thought of having vendors waste their time, Ben said with such genuineness: “No matter how many brides or drinks, I’m just grateful to be involved. Even if no one shows up.”

These are the kind of friends I like to have! Those who realize that collaboration and relationship building is half the fun (and half the job) of owning your own business.

Here is how Ben describes his craft: “I make delicious espresso drinks using local beans roasted for maximum flavor. I finish the drinks with expertly steamed milk and photo-worthy latte art. My drinks are served with a smile and with a spirit of joy and gratitude, adding festive energy to every occasion.”

I can say from my experience that all of that is true! Check out this latte art:

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Isn’t this lovely?! I need one right now!!! (seriously, someone get me some coffee it’s 5:30 am)

Fun Fact via Ben: Espresso is not a particular type of coffee bean or roast, it is a particular type of coffee brewing method that uses 132 pounds per square inch of pressure to force boiling water through finely ground coffee in about 20-30 seconds.

Wow.

Among the adored drinks pulled from his gorgeous La Marzocco Linea Mini espresso machine are the Americano, Machiatto, Cortado, Cappuccino, Latte and Chai. Check out his website to see exactly what is in these, and his non-espresso options!

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So on these chilly days, as you plan your upcoming event, think of Ben and his toasty coffee skills. You will be blown away by his excellent coffee and service. I would be honored to have him on my team any time of the year!

Double Americano, please!

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The Hard Things

Below are thoughts from a very imperfect perfectionist.

As a wedding planner, I have convinced myself that I have to appear to be perfect and extremely calculated to gain trust. But if you know me personally-and you’re an Enneagram fan-(Oh HEY fellow Psych degrees!) you’ll know I am a 3 and not a 1. I long to (and attempt to) “do it all” but I don’t do it all perfectly. However. for the past 3 years in business, I have felt like my only option was to convince my market that I am the entire package. Do you feel the pressure too? To be charming and smart and all booked up and innovative all at once? For me, this took research, lot’s of meetings, sometimes small lies, sometimes larger ones, and a bit of wine. Like me, are you afraid of letting down your mask for a second, because then you may be accosted with criticism and judgement? But that should be a normal part of growth, right? Gosh it’s exhausting trying to be the best.

(if this sounds like you and you need a good cry, give this a listen:

As you may know, I have a husband who is a Police officer and works nights, and a daughter who well…doesn’t pull her own weight but she’s adorable. I LOVE my family, and that’s why I started my business-because time with them is precious. My dream was to have a flexible enough schedule to color with my kids after a pool trip in the middle of the day in the middle of the week while eating homemade salsa. Yeah. Dreaming big ya’ll. You’ll know I’ve really made it when I insta homemade salsa. You’re going to be like “wow, Ashley finally has it all together.” I want quality time with my family, and I want it every day.

The life of a mompreneur is…complicated though. The comparison game is so present. Which sucks because as a mom there is already so much comparison and worry that I’m not doing “enough.” As women, we grow up feeling this constantly, right? I remember one of the most honest things I’ve ever heard another woman say was, “The first thing I did when I walked in the room was look at everyone’s stomach and compare it to mine.” Oh my gosh I was so floored to hear someone actually say that out loud!! But in the creative wedding industry, comparison, looking at what everyone else is doing is how you learn, grow and change. But I don’t know how to do that without heavily feeling inadequate, defensive and competitive. I feel 90% sure that I wouldn’t even have an instagram if it wasn’t for feeling like I have to have one to “make it” in the creative community. I just hate how emotionally charged something like a gorgeous tablescape can be because I can’t take credit for it or didn’t think of it first.

I was drinking a pink latte (right?!?! beetroot and Himalayan salt and other stuff I can’t remember) and walking around Northshore with a new friend yesterday who was telling me that I needed to put myself out there more on my social media. Like my actual face. Ok, talk about having to “face” my insecurity! (get it?!) How do I build a brand, and sell my product-which is ME by the way-without appearing vain and overly confident? How do you do it without looking foolish for posting without the perfect lighting, hashtags, or caption?? I mean, I know I’m not the only one feeling all this pressure! Connecting and being an open book is something I really feel passionately about, but doing that in a professional way is scary. And the idea of selling yourself, branding yourself, is tricky, right? I know people who do it with so much integrity and tact. And I know others who do not. I really do not want to be the latter.

*Jesus Juke ahead*

In church today, our pastor posed the question: “Who’s kingdom are you building?” Ironically, this was asked during a time of wondering how I can brand myself better! And it made me feel so confused. Is my business serving any greater good? Or a harder question for me: is the reason I started this business (to have a present, relaxed and intentional family life), to build my own small kingdom as well? To control and preserve my personal pleasure and comfort? These are really hard questions for me to answer. Maybe I won’t stop wrestling with this for a while. And I guess that’s ok? I would love to know if you have had similar questions as an entrepreneur, wondering how to do it all excellently without compromising what is important to you, your values, and without feeling so bogged down with feelings of insecurity and competition.

At the end of the day, I want to resolve to stop worrying about doing it all perfectly. I know that the pressure of perfection makes me second guess every decision I make, and literally stunts my business’s growth. It also causes me to obsess about things that in the end, won’t last. So here’s to confidence, a healthy (ish) relationship with social media (a work in progress) and remembering why I’m investing in the wedding community in the first place. Step one in this process for me: I’m going to launch an educational side of my business for Brides, and eventually for other entrepreneurs. And I’ve decided to be excited-and honest-about it not being perfect. Because I think maybe people don’t need perfection, they need someone to understand their needs and support them with passion, education, skill and and a dash of humor. And that’s me, yo.

Emma & Alex

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So, you know those dream clients, the ones that remind you why you love your work? Emma and Alex were that couple. It has taken me FOREVER to put up pictures of them-perhaps because life is cray cray or perhaps because it means it’s really over!!

Every lovely detail captured flawlessly by  Catherine Cansler Photography

Every lovely detail captured flawlessly by Catherine Cansler Photography

The prettiest flowers you ever did see designed with love by  Petaline Floral

The prettiest flowers you ever did see designed with love by Petaline Floral

Hair by Style Bar and Makeup by Melissa Cubberley

Hair by Style Bar and Makeup by Melissa Cubberley

Emma is the most laid back person you will ever meet. Basically every meeting we had went like this: “I don’t care, whatever you think!” And then we would get back to our margaritas. Emma, though flexible, put a lot of work into every detail. She wanted to make double sure that their wedding was very “them,” that they stayed on budget, and that their guests had an amazing experience. I hope she feels like she met her goals. I think her day was a huge success, spoke so well of her and Alex, and her guests-as you will see-partied hard!

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This photo of Alex is GOLD because let me tell you-he was the groom who was on it. Always first to a meeting, always analyzing the plan and making sure no detail was forgotten. Most dedicated Groom of the year award over here.

Also very spiffy.

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Having their dogs in their first look shots was just about the cutest thing I’ve seen all year. And I have a really cute kid, ya’ll.

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Ok before we get to ceremony I must point out-how full of joy is this girl?!? Like all her shots are gorgeous and she is laughing infectiously in 50% of them!! You should really be her friend.

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Patton Chapel is such a timeless venue. It echos so much romance, and is stunning just bare bones, (meaning that you don’t have to spend lots of $$ on decorations!!) Let this space speak for itself.

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So I can basically trace the night I got immensely spoiled and demanding back to Emma and Alex’s wedding because every one who walks through the doors of Saint Johns gets treated like a QUEEN. I mean I wasn’t even a guest but I was showered with amazing food (red snapper and risotto omg) and champagne cocktails (yes, they were pink) and I will never rest until my husband takes me back. Seriously. The best food of my life.

Greyline Trolleys brought us to and fro

Greyline Trolleys brought us to and fro

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Saint Johns is obviously perfect in many ways, but what made this night so great was the ease of it all. They took care of tables, chairs, linens, food, drinks, cleanup, and were so great to work with. Not only that but their Chef was so talented and their wait staff was experienced and professional. That makes a WORLD of difference on a night as important as your wedding. 10/10 would come again and I am telling lots of brides that if they just don’t want to have to worry about a thing that Saint Johns is the place for them!!

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Wade Evans, DJ Genius

Wade Evans, DJ Genius

Here’s where it gets bumpin’. Because the dance floor was basically the whole downstairs, it looked like the most raging dance party you’ve ever seen. There were not more than 10 people off the dance floor-thanks to Wade Evans for bringing the night home in the best way!!

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*Sigh* I guess it’s really over now. Emma and Alex-you were the dream!! I wish you all the happiest love.

xoxo

THE TEAM

Photo’s by Catherine Cansler Photography

Venue: Patton Chapel and Saint Johns

Flowers: Petaline Floral Co.

Videography: BC Weds

DJ: Wade Evans

Makeup: Melissa Cubberley

Hair: Style Bar

Trolley: Grayline

Brittany, Nick and All the Details

This Month, I want to feature Brittany and Nick's modern, but classic wedding on the blog.  They got married last July at Patton Chapel, and had their reception at The Mill. What set this wedding apart is the care that Brittany took to ensure every detail was exactly what she envisioned. She designed all her paper goods herself, and enjoyed it so much that she is now providing this service for other brides! Every conversation we had I walked away confident that she was truly enjoying the whole process. She never even seemed stressed.  

After Brittany's wedding, she missed the planning process terribly! Literally we were packing up after her big day and she came up to me and asked to start helping with other weddings! I was thrilled to say the least. A few of you may have met or will soon be meeting Brittany helping me out during your wedding! She's the bomb.com. 

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Brittany is now offering rentals of the items she gathered during her planning process as well as design of itineraries, programs, and personalized bridal party gifts! Here's more about it straight from her.

" When you have your new and blue, but need something old and borrowed too we are here for you! Weddings are all about the love you share with one another, but also about being accommodating to your guests; whether it be having signs to direct them where to go, or printed schedules on their programs, Something Borrowed can help! We have small detail items like chalkboard signs, table numbers, card boxes, ect...and we can make custom itineraries for your guests or wedding party, helping everyone stay on track! Keeping everyone informed is important, but let's not forget our bridal party gifts! We have personalized wine glasses, pilsner glasses, makeup bags and more. We can help you out with all your personalization needs!"

Please check out Brittany's instagram @somethings_borrowed for pics of her lovely rentals! Also look for her by my side this year when I need an extra set of hands! We love you, Brittany! Check out her full gallery here.

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