Wedding Budget: The essential differences between deposits vs final payments

If you are planning your wedding yourself, it’s crucial that you know a few very important things when it comes to your budget and how it will be broken down.  This information isn’t common knowledge so if you find yourself struggling or are weary of making a mistake, hire a planner! Deposits and final payments for your vendors are very important and the key to ensuring how much is for what and when is to read the post I wrote last week about reading your vendor contract!


Deposits are what you and your partner put down to essentially “reserve” the vendor, all of your vendors will require a deposit. (Side note: Some planners require a retainer; it’s a fancier word for an advance.) It will be written in the contract exactly how much of a deposit is required to secure their services for your wedding. Most wedding bands require up to wedding-contract-041714-0320%, some photographers require half up front, it really depends so again to reiterate, read your contract!

If you don’t quite understand the contract, set up a meeting with them and have them thoroughly explain so there are absolutely no miscommunications. Once you sign that contract, you agree to everything in it whether you read it or not! In most cases, deposits and retainers are non-refundable. Once you put down your deposit, your vendor has then reserved their services for your wedding date.

One other important thing to keep in mind is when you are meeting your vendors to discuss their services and whether or not you will hire them, be in a position to put down a deposit at the meeting. You have no idea what their booking schedule is like and if they are photographer, some are booked up to a year and a half in advance!

Final Payments

Similarly, the contract should stipulate when your vendor expects their final payment. The amounts will vary and the due dates can be anywhere from two weeks before the wedding day up to the day of the wedding. Discussing this and making changes before you sign the contract is essential. Most vendors can be flexible; others not as much so it’s important that you keep hands1track on a calendar the date final payments are due. For example, most venues will request a deposit up to 20% and then final payment will be the entire lump sum of what is left over due roughly a week before the wedding. You can arrange to make payments so it’s not one large chunk gone at once so be sure to inquire about that.

If any payments are due on the day of the wedding, have someone like a planner, parent or another relative who will ensure the payments are to given to the vendors. You will be busy getting married and celebrating and it’s easy to become distracted since it’s your big day.

In both cases whether it’s a deposit or a final payment, request an invoice or a receipt that stipulates the date you paid and the amount. It’s good to keep a record of these payments for your own security.

10 awful mistakes brides make

No wedding day is completely perfect (unless it is) and there are bound to be some flubs or forgotten details. Here are 10 common mistakes brides make leading up to and on their wedding day:

  1. Don’t carve out enough time for hair and makeup

It is imperative that you consider how large your bridal party is, this should include your mother and mother in law and any flower girls you may have. If you have more than 4 ladies to do hair and makeup for, you should consider hiring two makeup artists and two hair stylists. Make sure they have both met, have pictures of the makeup and hair looks so they can get everyone done on time!

  1.  Drink the night before

Monica drunkTry to refrain from excessive drinking the night before the wedding. Alcohol can make you puffy the next day, if you are sensitive you may even get a mild headache. Trade in a cocktail or glass of wine with some sparkling water and lemon, you’ll thank us.

  1. Rule out a wedding planner

Even if you have managed to plan everything yourself, the week before your wedding is the most stressful. If you had hired a planner for the week of you could have been spending time with your family and friends. Instead, you are left running around keeping track of final payments to vendors, confirming floral deliveries, giving directions…need I continue? Hire a planner.

  1. Don’t account for hidden costs

This is a big one that gets overlooked far too often. Tipping your vendors is a must unless it’s already included in their contract.  Also ensuring they are fed at dinner time if they are present is also important. Marriage license is another hidden cost, postage for “Thank you” cards, meals on wedding day and then there is the “other” category. This is for when the power goes out and you have to buy 200 candles, or the groom forgets to pack his shoes and needs to hail a cab!

  1. Take time with parentsbride with parents

The day of your wedding you are the center of attention and everyone wants to say a word or give a hug. Don’t forget to take a few quiet moments with your parents outside of pictures. It will be a welcome break from the hustle and bustle and it will give you some one on one time with them, they will appreciate it.

6. You forget to eat

Yes, we know you need to fit into your wedding dress as snug as a bug the day of, however, we don’t need a dramatic Scarlett O’Hara fainting moment because you didn’t eat anything. A light breakfast with a few carbs for energy is suffice, lots of water and some snacks while getting ready and during pictures.

  1. Sunless tanning

Anne's gone orange!

Have some practice sessions please! I can’t stress this enough. Sunless tanning can work if you find the right place to go. Be sure to go for a shade that isn’t so far off your natural skin tone, aim for a pre- wedding glow. If you overdo it or go too dark…you will be in your bathroom 2 days before your wedding with half a cup of lemon juice, a quarter cup of sugar…and a loofah sponge.

  1. Don’t feed vendors

Your vendors work hard and rightly so; this is what they do! However, if you have hired a band to entertain your guests, a planner running around behind the scenes, a photographer or videographer- they need to eat. This is customary and likely in the contract you signed when you hired them. Perhaps not what the guests are eating but feed them with something!

  1. Skimp on bridal party gifts

Take into consideration your bridal party (guys too) have spend a ton of money over the past year or so helping you plan your wedding. From wedding gifts, bachelor/bachelorette parties, outfits, dinners, to helping you solve problems, they’ve done so much. Be sure to budget a decent amount (consider how large your bridal party is) so they can feel the love and appreciation you have for all they have done.

  1. Mistreat Single friends

I’ve been one of the single gals at a table, where I don’t know anyone and most of the people I am sitting with are couples. Thankfully I have an outgoing personality and I can talk to anyone but not all your guests are going to find this situation ideal. To ease the pressure or even nerves, try to put them with at least one person at the same table that they know. Please, please have mercy!

AVPEvents on the worst marriage advice we’ve ever heard from real couples

I thought this would be an interesting blog post because most of us would expect our friends and loved ones to give us some helpful marriage counsel. Recently I asked a handful of my married friends, what was the absolute worst marriage advice they ever got.

At first I was shocked at some of it but then I realized it shouldn’t be so surprising since we live in a society that hardly values the sanctity of marriage. Here is what some of them said:

“To walk away when things get tough…but we made vows for a reason!”– Mariah & LeRon

“I’ve had some rough go’s and hard times but have also had some great times, worst thing I was ever told was to suck it up for the kids.” Jake & Ashley

“My husband got the advice: Tell your wife her cooking is good, even when it isn’t! I don’t know how many stir fry and quiches my husband choked down before he told me he didn’t like them. So frustrating, I want to make meals we like and improve on them!”– Jennifer & Andrew

Poor guy!

“Have babies, they will solve your problems and make your marriage happier…shouldn’t the marriage be happy first?” Leigha & Greg

“Happy wife, happy life. What about my husbands needs?! I want him to talk to me and tell me what makes him happy or what bothers him.”– Megan & Dustin

“Don’t get fat…”– Sarah & Zach

Hopefully that person got a big 2000 piece of cake in the face!

“Everything is 50/50…no its 100/100!  If you are only putting in half the work then expect a half-assed marriage.”– Erica & Scott

Here is our personal favorite:

“Don’t compromise most marriages end in divorce anyway.”– Pamela & Adam

Moral of the story: marriage is what you decide to make it, good or bad advice no one is in the relationship but you. It’s a good idea to keep as much of your marriage between just the two of you to ensure less people are involved in giving their opinion. While we appreciate our friends and family, we also want to remain keenly aware that their own experiences can bias the advice they give. Keep those who support your marriage close to you and remember to consider one another always.

Feature Article in The Wedding Planner Magazine- Summer 2015 issue

I was so happy when I was asked to write an article for the magazine I currently work for. I really enjoyed writing this and am thankful for the opportunity! I’d like to applaud all of my amazingly talented and hard working colleagues who put so much time and dedication into this publication. Please go to our website and see all of their incredible work. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  I hope you enjoy! AV.

Ash ArticleClick article to read.

Brides: Do not DIY these 4 areas

If you decide to embark on the adventure of planning your own wedding (and as a planner…of course I’m going to tell you not too!) it’s not impossible. With Pinterest brides, planning and getting inspiration can be fun and exciting with all the DIY ideas there. However there are four instances that you do not want to DIY under any circumstances!

  1. Plan…everything

I know said it’s not impossible and it’s not but planning everything means sacrificing a lot of time away from other aspects of life. Leaving work early for consultations during business hours, late night Pinterest Brideemailing and outsourcing, less time with family and engaging in leisure activities and more stress. So you can plan but prepare yourself…a Wedding Planner has a career out of planning for a reason!

  1. Flowers

wedbouquet3-600x785Unless you are only wanting your own bouquet and want to do it yourself with some flowers the day of the wedding on top of stressing about the day in its entirety…don’t do your own flowers. There are a million reasons why but one of the first is that it is incredibly time consuming. Another reason, you can only do it the day of unless you want to spend all your time trying to keep them fresh and alive? Didn’t think so…

  1. Food

Sort of along the same lines as flowers, extremely time consuming and unless it’s Bride cookingdesserts, it must be done the day of the wedding. I don’t think you were planning to make 150 guests a four course meal in a lovely white dress and skip out walking down the aisle right? It cannot be done, so please don’t try it will be bad for everyone.

  1. Photography

Bride photographyIt is a possibility that you could end up with one of those “selfie sticks” as a wedding gift and maybe then you could take some pictures but you need to be in all the photos. This is one of the most important days of your life; skimping out on the photography would be highly regrettable. Hire an expert; it’s worth it since they will be beautiful lasting memories for you and your family and friends. Everything else has the potential to be accomplished DIY, give it your best shot. Our best advice here? Stay away from these four areas and attempting to do them solo, otherwise the biggest day of your life will go up in flames!

Destination Weddings- All the rave and why

For the last several years, destination weddings are increasing in popularity. It seems as though newly engaged couples are opting for this more often than not. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get married on an island, the middle of paradise with sand and the ocean literally at your feet? It makes for gorgeous pictures, almost guaranteed great weather and a tan! Here are a few reasons why the destination “fad” has more couples considering it for their wedding day

  1. Affordable

In most instances, a destination wedding is realistically much more affordable than the one you would pay for locally. Since most resorts have their own wedding packages you don’t have to fuss about expensive décor andreams-riviera-cancun-destination-weddingd are essentially paying for the package, travel and the stay at the resort. Unlike local weddings where you are paying for the guest’s food and alcohol, destination weddings only require you to pay for the two of you, so there is no paying a minimum for food or alcohol since the guests are paying for their own travel and accommodations.

  1. Less is More

In terms of planning it’s much more simplistic than a local wedding as well. You won’t have to listen to family or friends bicker over what they think should be done with music or décor. As previously noted, the resort will have customized wedding packages for you to choose from. This minimizes stress for everyone since most resorts have their own or work with planners. Perhaps a few other decisions will need to be made during the planning but for the most part, the wedding package will cover everything!

  1. Relaxed

Destination weddings are usually much smaller than your typical local wedding. Most resorts have wedding planners or coordinators that work with you the day before and of.  This means yodestination-weddings1u will be able to spend more one on one time with those who could make it and be able to really enjoy the moment. There is also less chaos with a smaller wedding, everyone is there to celebrate with you and be on vacation at the same time. The everyday anxieties and stresses of life get left behind and replaced with laughs and a memorable wedding day!

If you are considering a destination wedding, do some research and get some information that you are your partner can discuss. Have a number in mind for your guest count and then contact a travel agent when you have made some solid choices!

Successfully choose the perfect Bridesmaid dress

Hunting for the perfect bridesmaid dress can be so much fun for a bride and her bridal party in many ways or it can be a nightmare. It really depends on the type of bride you have, what her vision is and how flexible she is. Some brides give their bridal party the exact color and tell them to find whatever they want. Other brides give a color and perhaps a length specification and then tell them to go on the search. Then you have those brides who know the color, style, length, accessories and don’t allow their bridesmaids to have any say at all. With so many variables, it can be difficult to determine where to start this process. Here are some helpful tips to make it a bit smoother and fun!

  1. Plan a bridal party night

Get together with the bride, maid of honor and bridesmaids, have some wine, everyone bring a magazine and have a great playlist ready! This kills a couple birds with one stone. If your bridal party doesn’t know each other, this is a great bonding opportunity. You can all openly discuss everything from styles to colors and come to a happy medium.real-life-bridesmaid-dress-shopping-at-maids-to-measure-Maids_to_Measure_WIM-26

  1. Talk Budget

This can be daunting as money is always an uncomfortable discussion to have with anyone, but the one person who needs to know your budget is the bride. This may be something that the bride will most likely have to initiate with each of her bridesmaids. Have a very honest and frank conversation with her about a budget you are comfortable with. Ultimately this will give the bride the ability to come up with a maximum budget that works for everyone so that no one is strained financially.

  1. Keep in mind body type

Here is where it can get tricky if your bride isn’t open to many suggestions, not the ideal situation but it happens. In a perfect world if the whole bridal party has the same body shape, then the same style of dress will work for everyone. But women come in various shapes, sizes and heights so it is unlikely that Purple_Bridesmaids_Dresses1the same style of dress will suit a woman who is 5’11 with long legs versus a woman who is perhaps heavier set and very curvy. Doing some research surrounding what dress styles match specific body types will really make the bridal party feel like they are cared about.

  1. Set a “lock in” date

One last but very important aspect of hunting for the perfect bridesmaid dress is to set in a “lock in” date with the girls. It means exactly what it implies, when the date arrives it’s “locked in” and no more changes are then made. Lock in dates, are put into place to keep the flow of productivity consistent so time isn’t wasted. As that date approaches, finalize the dresses and ensure your finances are in order to put down at least 20%. When the lock in date arrives- no more changes can be made, the dresses are ordered and that is that.

Team work, openness and compromise are the keys to finding great dresses, bonding with your bridal party and having fun during the planning process. Don’t forget the most important aspect is that your friendships are important and still need to be nurtured to ensure you will have supportive friends throughout your upcoming marriage!

Photos provided by:, and

3 ways to avoid overspending your wedding budget and keep you on track

So often, couples get caught up in the moments they share during the planning stages and the overall excitement that before they realize it, they’ve overspent on their budget. I am sure that you have all been told that “the first year of marriage can be the most difficult,” so adding on financial debt to that potentially difficult adjustment period will result in stress levels going  through the roof. No one needs that, so here are 3 easy ways to avoid overspending on your wedding.

  1. Hire a Planner

weddingplanner2I know what you are thinking “Ashley you are a planner, you’re selling yourself” and while you are absolutely correct, I am a planner; the reason why you are reading this post is because I know what I am talking about BECAUSE I am a planner. Planners know the in’s and out’s of the wedding industry and if they don’t, they find out so you don’t have too. They have relationships with vendors and can negotiate expenses for you. Yes, planners can seem costly, but only to those to who don’t recognize their value. Planners can make a living off wedding planning because it takes the same amount of time and effort as your full time job. Our jobs are to do the work for you from start to finish, so as to minimize your stress level as a couple and leave more room for shopping for the dress! Speaking  of the dress…

  1. The Dress

Sorry ladies, I know the dress is essentially the most important aspect of your planning but it can also be the most costly. This is not to say you aren’t supposed to have the dress of your dreams but if your dress costs $6000 and your guests are eating hotdogs roasted over an open fire…you see where I am going with this. Do some research and find out when the bridal trunk shovestido-corpows are and where the designer bridal gown sales are…or (ahem) if you’ve hired a planner, find out from your planner and they will give you some direction. If you overspend in this area, it will spill into cutting your guest list short to ensure everyone’s dinner and drinks are covered or having to skip the florals and décor to spruce up your venue. Now, having mentioned the venue…

  1. The Venue

Bride drinking and groom on laptopSearching for the venue can be tiring but its necessary unless you plan to get married in a lovely outdoor backyard ceremony. In that case, you won’t be paying for the venue, or corking fees, or insurance, or any other “undercover” behind the scenes fees that are in the fine print of your contract that you may not have caught. Prime example, I did a “day of” wedding coordination this past year and by the time the reception was well under way and everyone was having a great time, the venue coordinator text messaged me. She asked if the celebration would be done by 1:30am, as in everything done, cleared out and over. I told her no way, she proceeded to tell me that if that was the case, the couple would be charged an additional $500. I ended up being able to negotiate with her and luckily it worked out but because the bride and groom hadn’t fully looked over the fine print, they almost got nipped! (Again, perks of having a planner- the venue coordinator would’ve had to interrupt the bride and groom in the middle of the party to break the bad news).

Although there are many ways to save, these are just 3 of the biggest and will ensure that your wedding planning not only continues smoothly but without the stress of overspending. The first year of marriage shouldn’t be under the burden of financial debt but the focus of solidarity and building towards a bright future for the both of you.