Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget… 8 ways to help you pick your venue!

You’re probably wondering how you can afford a high-end venue when you may be working with a not-so-high-end budget.  We have come across an increasing number of newly engaged couples that have a hard time finding the venue that’s falls within their budget (and their vision).  And since the venue will be the largest expense on the wedding planning list, many Brides-to-be are looking to reduce the cost of their reception venue, while making sure it’s everything they’ve always dreamed of.

We have gathered some ideas that might help ease the process of finding the right venue that will cater to you and your needs.

  1. When you call the venue to set up an appointment, do not mention that you are interested in hosting your wedding there.  In the beginning, just say you are interested in setting up an appointment to visit the location for an upcoming event.  The word “wedding” automatically marks up the price!  Once you get a feel for the pricing for regular events, then you can start talking about the pricing for a wedding and see how you can leverage the initial conversation.
  2. Look for a venue that allows you to use your own vendors.  Usually, when the venue has preferred vendors, they have set rates so they can make more money, leaving you at a standstill financially in other areas of your wedding planning. Oh and feel free to contact @Favors_and_More to discuss pricing for floral arrangements, favors and much more!  ;o)
  3. Although there are specific wedding seasons throughout the year, try to host your wedding on an off-season.  This is true in other areas of your life as well…such as Halloween Costumes being super expensive just before Halloween, but 50%+ off the day AFTER Halloween. If you have an off-wedding-season wedding, you may be able to save a little.
  4. Try to pick a date other than Saturday Night; Saturday is such a huge party night, so the rates are more expensive at almost every venue.
  5. Think outside the box! Look for a location where people wouldn’t normally think to host a wedding, such as a Golf Course, a Winery or even a Museum/Aquarium. Those places would be an interesting site for your guests and the cost may be less than a venue that typically hosts weddings. Some non-traditional places such as a museum may have historical significance and a great amount of design elements that can be worked into your wedding theme/decor. When you find a venue that suits your personal style, look around to see if you can use anything in the space that you’ll be able to tie into your floral arrangements, table decor, etc.
  6. See if hosting your event during the day is less expensive. Brunch style weddings are a lot more common lately and can save you some money in the long run.
  7. Consolidate!  Consider choosing a single venue for both your ceremony and reception. That way, you can cut down on travel costs, and you won’t have to pay fees for two separate locations.
  8. Last but not Least don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you are paying in full/cash when you book the location.

We hope these tips help you on your journey to finding the right venue for your wedding day!

Thank you for reading!



Computer Issues!!!

We were so excited to post an awesome blog today, but we are having major computer issues. Stay tuned tomorrow morning for a blog about a Dr. Seuss baby shower we decorated ;o)

Have a great night!!!

Work-Life Balance

It’s important that we as event planners, designers, florists, DJs, photographers, videographers, bakers and whatever other vendor participates in the Event industry, that we keep in mind the value of work life balance.

Your clients may want to contact you via email, phone or text at all hours of the day, but that doesn’t mean you should write back in the middle of the night or at 6am (unless those are your work hours). You may wake up in the middle of the night and think “what better time to send emails or finish up the paper products for the upcoming baby or bridal shower”, but without an appropriate amount of sleep, how productive can you be at your work or at client meetings? Set aside your work day hours and try to live a normal life outside of your work hours. Otherwise, all hours of the day will be dedicated to your craft and you will have no time to yourself.

If you have a family, or are in a relationship, be sure to set aside quality time with your loved ones so that they don’t always feel like you are forever working. And by quality time, I mean that when you are with your wife/husband/partner/children/ or other family and friends, put ASIDE your electronic devices. They want you to focus your energy on them and not divide it between them and your upcoming events.

Set aside time to do what you love, whether that is reading, dancing, watching TV, going out to dinner with friends, playing pool, going fishing, pampering yourself…whatever it may be, take time to do what you love, with the people you love.

Life shouldn’t always be about excel spreadsheets, filing taxes, planning/prepping for or decorating an event, editing photos or footage of an event, calling clients and working on contracts and this and that….you get the picture, the list could go on and on! The event industry can definitely keep you busy! But remember that your work shouldn’t consume your entire life. You only live once…so make sure you are living it!!

Now for the challenging part….how do I follow my own advice with my crazy schedule?!?! Help!!!

All the best,

Tipping Your Vendors…Some Pointers

I remember days when tipping was somewhat voluntary. Now-a-days, providing gratuity is pretty much mandatory and it’s almost always 18% of the total bill at restaurants for instance. When working on your wedding budget, should you go ahead and give 18% to all of the vendors that you worked with? Not sure that is going to work. If not 18% across the board, how do you decide how much should you allocate to gratuity (especially when you have already spent more than you budgeted for in every other category)?

The truth of the matter is that you are never obligated to tip anyone. However you should consider tipping on a case-by-case basis. Here are some general rules to go by:

  • Don’t tip business owners, only tip their employees (however, you can/should tip an owner when the service exceeds expectations)
  • Tip vendors who offer exceptional service
  • Thank-you notes/great reviews and recommendations are always appreciated
  • Be sure to comb through contracts to determine whether or not gratuity has already been included, and do not hesitate to ask vendors if a “service charge” or “staffing fee” is the same as gratuity. Every contract is different, and asking for clarification only benefits you in the long run.
  • Assign the responsibility to a trusted deputy such as your wedding planner, a parent, or the best man.

For a breakdown of what’s customary for each vendor, check this out…

Wedding Planner

Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation. (Note: Non-monetary thank-yous like professional photos of the wedding for the planner’s portfolio can go a long way too.) Approximately 50 percent of couples do tip their planners — typically those with more opulent weddings.
Protocol: Optional
The Standard: Up to $500, or a nice gift
When to Tip: The bride should hand off the envelope at the end of the reception, or, she should send a thank-you note with photos or a check after the honeymoon.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer

You’re not expected to give your shutterbugs any money beyond their normal fees. Yet if the wedding photographer or videographer doesn’t own the studio, consider tipping each person (or give a certain amount with a thank-you note to disperse to staff).
Protocol: Optional
The Standard: $50 – $200 per vendor
When to Tip: At the end of the reception.

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist

This is one area where a gratuity is definitely expected. Tip between 15 – 20 percent just as you would in a hair salon, and consider giving a little extra if there’s a crisis, like one of your bridesmaids has a meltdown over her updo and it requires a redo at the last minute.
Protocol: Expected
The Standard: 15 – 25%, depending upon the quality of service
When to Tip: At the end of your service

Wedding Reception Band or DJ

Whether you hire 12-piece swing band or grooving to a DJ, tipping musicians is completely optional. (Depending on the quality of the job and how willing they were to follow your ideal playlist!) And don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them.
Protocol: Optional, yet preferred
The Standard: $20 – $25 per musician; $50 – $150 for DJs
When to Tip: At the end of the reception, by the best man.

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff

Slip a few dollars to anyone delivering important items to the site (wedding cake, flowers, or sound system). And if a lot of gear needs to be brought in and set up (tents, chairs, or port-a-potties), the workers deserve a tip too.
Protocol: Expected
The Standard: $5 – $10 per person
When to Tip: Drop off cash envelopes the day before the wedding to the catering manager so the person accepting deliveries can turn the tip.

Wedding Ceremony Officiant

If your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you’re often expected to make a donation to that institution. If you’re a member you’ll probably want to give a larger amount than if you’re not. However, if you’re getting married there and they’re charging you to use the space, feel free to give a smaller amount. If you’re using a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required because they will charge you for their time.
Protocol: Expected (depending on officiant)
The Standard: Donate $500+ to the church or synagogue, or, for a nondenominational officiant, an optional tip of $50 – $100
When to Tip: Most ceremony fees are required prior to the wedding. Otherwise, have the best man pass the cash envelope at the rehearsal dinner if the officiant is in attendance.

Wedding Reception Staff

This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager. A service charge (typically 2 percent) is almost always built in to the food and drink fee, so check your contract. If the gratuity is not included, tip as follows.
Protocol: Expected
The Standard: 15 – 20% of the food and drink fee (based on labor, not the cost), or $200 – $300 for the maitre d’.
When to Tip: If it’s covered in the contract, the final bill is typically due before the reception. Otherwise, have the father of the bride or best man hand the envelope to the maitre d’ at the end of the reception since you will need to know the final tab to calculate the percentage.

Wedding Reception Attendants

When it comes to bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants the rules of tipping are dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional. If it’s not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.
Protocol: Optional, based on contract
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per bartender or waiter; $1 per guest for coat room and parking attendants; $1 per car
When to Tip: Although tips are traditionally passed out at the end of the event, you could alternately distribute them at the beginning of the evening, to encourage all the workers to give you great service.

Wedding Transportation

Again, check your contract, as gratuity is usually included. If it isn’t, plan to tip provided they show up on time and don’t get lost!
Protocol: Expected
The Standard: 15 – 20% of the total bill
When to Tip: At the end of the night or after the last ride. If you used a separate company for the guest buses, designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip, otherwise, this duty falls to the best man.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians

If you worked with a mini orchestra to come up with the perfect score for your service (and they pulled it off flawlessly), consider showing some monetary thanks for their talent. However, you probably don’t have to tip the solo church organist who was required to play.
Protocol: Optional
The Standard: $15 – $20 per musician
When to Tip: At the end of the ceremony.

Source: Article by Celeste Perron on

It’s been a long day!

Sorry for the delay in writing to our lovely followers. This weekend has been long so far and a bit tiring. The best part of days like this is the satisfaction of knowing that you went above and beyond to make sure the event was the best it could possibly be and that the client was extremely happy with the outcome.

This weekend we collaborated with Ivie Joy from Ivie Joy Floral Arts and Events. She is an amazing floral and event designer and yesterday and today’s weddings were simply breathtaking.

We will soon blog about the importance of collaborating with other vendors within your industry. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog!!

Wedding Do’s and Don’ts for Guests

We have seen some interesting things happen at weddings during the past couple of years so we’d like to share some Wedding Tips which may help you at the next wedding you attend. Here are some “Wedding Do’s and Don’ts”.

When it comes to clothing, please:

  • don’t wear white or red. You never want to take attention away from the bride. White is her color. Try to stay away from ivory, eggshell, cream and absolutely any other shade that might remotely resemble white. Confession: I must admit that I did wear a short off white dress to a wedding once because I wanted until the last minute to buy something. Even though I had a large blue scarf to cover up the dress, I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life and still feel horrible about it. :o(
  • don’t knowingly wear the same color/style dress as the bridesmaids
  • do pay attention to the dress code. If it’s a causal invitation with sea shells and sand dollars, please don’t wear a long silk dress. If the invitation is engraved, scripted and formal, please don’t wear a cotton sundress. If you have to, feel free to ask the bride and groom if something is appropriate or not.
  • don’t wear anything revealing or flashy. Sequins? No. Floral Print? No. Lots of cleavage/thigh? Also no. If you look in the mirror and think, “Hmm…is this really OK to wear?” The answer is: No.
  • don’t leave your uncomfortable stiletto heels thrown in the hallway or some other random location. If you bring a pair of nice (classy) sandals to change into, please hide your shoes under the table and don’t walk around with Old Navy slippers please! See below for a picture we took at a wedding just yesterday!

photo 2photo 1

When it comes to the Ceremony and Reception, please:

  • RSVP.
  • do send a gift if you can’t attend.
  • don’t show up at the reception if your invitation clearly only invites you to the ceremony.
  • do get there on time. Check the distance, look into the traffic, don’t overbook yourself and plan to be at the ceremony 20 to 30 minutes early. Confession: I just went to a wedding and didn’t plan head so I didn’t know it would be an hour away. I was incredibly sad to have missed the beautiful ceremony.
  • don’t get in the photographer’s way to take your own pictures. The bride and groom paid a lot for those pictures, please let the photographer do their job.
  • do put your phone and other electronic device on silent or vibrate.
  • don’t talk to the bride and groom for an hour when they are making their rounds. They would love to chat with you, but they have another 134 people to talk to. Keep it short.
  • don’t assume you can bring a date. Unless it says “and guest” on the invitation, only you should be attending. And please, DON’T call the bride and ask if you can bring a date, either. If it were in their budget, the bride and groom would’ve extended the extra invitation
  • don’t come empty handed, but also, DON’T bring a large gift to the wedding. The last thing the bride and groom need to worry about is lugging home large gifts after such a long day.
  • do sit at your assigned seat.
  • do sign the guestbook. The wedding is oftentimes a bit blurry for the couple, and they will want to remember everyone who attended. Many brides and grooms have a fear of their guests not having a good time at the reception. Give them some peace of mind by getting out of your chair and onto the dance floor. Also, mingle with new and old friends and smile – no matter how much you hate the Electric Slide.
  • don’t get wasted. No need to elaborate here.
  • do remember your favor. Even if you HATE it!! The couple probably put a lot of time and money into those things as a way to say thank you for coming. Take it!! Even if you throw it out when you get home.

What are some Dont’s that you’ve seen other people do, or that maybe you unknowingly did when you attended a wedding?

Best of luck!!


Spotlight Saturday – Digna Toledo

Today’s Vendor Spotlight takes an inside look at Digna Toledo, a stylish wedding and family photographer based in New Jersey.


Digna Toledo’s Bio

I dream in shades of blue. I relish a sandy beach and splashing waves.

I shoot like I live: fast, purposeful and with vision.

My obsession with lights comes from its source (John 8:12).

My name means worthy and I rest that Christ has made me so.

I live with two kids on my hips, an exceptional husband by my side and a camera strapped to my back.

I am Digna.


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1. Please tell us about your business and how you got started?

My fascination with photography began as most love stories do: a glimmer of interest, given time and effort, developed into a passionate pursuit. It started in February 2004 with the gift of a point-and-shoot from my now-husband. Then, in 2007, armed with a newer and better camera, I decided to stop poking my camera around like a bnovice and take classes at PhotoManhattan in New York City. My photography took off from there and has since evolved into a full-fledged venture, images intricately captured these days with a Canon 7D & Canon 5D Mark III. My breadth of experience is varied. From intimate engagement shoots to family portrait blowouts to an off-the-wall “trash the dress” wedding shoot. I do my best to combine my artistic vision as a photographer with my client’s desires. Best of all, I try to preserve my client’s memories and moments and that they are guaranteed to love the results.

2. How did you come up with your company name?

I want it something personal and unique. I have a very rare name – so it totally worked out for me.

3. What’s your favorite part about the services you provide?

Providing a unique experience to all my clients and having fun at the same time.

4. What are some trends you’re seeing this year?

Vintage Style has been huge this year and it so happens that I love Vintage!

5. What’s the most eccentric or strange request you have ever received from a client?

So far I haven’t received any eccentric or strange request from any of my clients.

6. Complete this sentence: I’m obsessed with ____________ because _____________.

I am obsessed with Photography because is my Passion!

7. When you aren’t doing what you are most passionate about, what are you doing?

Taking care of my two beautiful children.

8. If you could give only one piece of advice to a bride/groom, what would that be?

Let the day flow and enjoy the moment because it goes really fast.

9. What is a random, interesting fact about you or your business?

I am working on submitting some of my work to a magazine and to an online blog. I’m hoping to get featured. Right now my work is been featured at Petit Paris – 10 Church Street, Montclair, NJ 07042 – (973) 746-0288


Name: Digna Toledo


Phone: (973) 715-5633

Like Me:

Follow Me:



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Why use Social Media?

There is so much happening in social media today, it’s almost overwhelming! This is especially important in the event industry, where people have always been social by nature, whether that be with vendors, negotiating business deals or during the execution of the event. It has been an innate part of what we do as planners. However the channels through which these conversations are taking place are quickly evolving and those who want to stay prominent in this and any industry must learn how to evolve with them. Here are five of the many benefits of using social media:

1. Networking, Networking, Networking! Social media is one of the best ways to expand your business and increase your client base. It has become much easier to obtain new clients thanks to social media and the web.

2. Educational Content – Planners must stay current and social media gives planners a window for continuous growth. By joining various groups on Facebook, for instance, event planners can stay up to date with the current trends in the market.

3. Reputation Analysis – Social media gives you the ability to see what others are saying about you. This allows you to work on your areas of growth and continue strengthening what you are already great at.

4. Credibility – what better way of showing your capabilities and have others share their experience with your brand. This will in turn ensure that future clients will more easily have faith in your work….before even becoming a client!

5. Conversation Starter – clients now want to have conversations, they want to relate to those they are potentially going to work with and social media opens the window of opportunity for this to occur.

Get started today by choosing any of the following social media sites to look for potential vendors / clients:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram / Vine
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube
  • What social media sites are you a member of and why?

Name your price!

What are some of the deciding factors that people use when choosing vendors for their events? Some people choose the vendor that seems to:

  • provide the most convenience
  • provide the best value for their dollar, while falling within their budget or
  • meet or exceed their needs, even if it’s above their budget
  • have the best chemistry with the client or the one that is a right fit (some people rely on their gut feeling)

    How does the vendor decide what their price on tangible goods should be? How does a vendor decide what to charge for their service {their time, for providing peace of mind to their clients, for the value given to a customer after years of growing in their industry (in this case, the wedding and event industry)}? How does a vendor convince a bride that using them (as a day-of coordinator for instance) will ensure that her wedding runs smoothly, on-time and that the glitches we have all seen in weddings we have attended, will not happen at her wedding?

    This was and will most likely continue to be a touchy subject in our company. When it comes to the tangible products we provide {such as balloon arrangements (for birthday parties), floral arrangements (for weddings and other life events), candy displays, favors, etc.} it has become easier to name our price. When dealing with the intangibles (such as our Service Fee) it tends to get a little tricky because some customers may not see the value in hiring someone for something that they believe a family member do. Please keep in mind that during a wedding rehearsal for instance, someone’s family members or friends may be more inclined to listen to a vendor or a third party that has been hired, versus their aunt Sue or cousin Michael when trying to line up their wedding party. Also, how great is it to walk into an event you have been planning, and not need to spend hours running around setting up centerpiece and/or balloons? It is usually worth it to hire people with expertise in the industry.

    When we started our business we did not know the value of our time and expertise. After over 100 events in the last couple of years, we are realizing the importance of the knowledge we have acquired through the years. We are better equipped with proof (check out our YELP and Wedding Wire reviews) from some of our customers that what we bring to the table is worth every penny we charge.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    If you are a vendor: How do you name your price? Do you:

  • do market research to see what other vendors in your industry would charge for a similar item and base your price on that?
  • use the cost + XX% mark-up that some vendors use?
  • have a base rate for your service, plus an hour rate if XYZ or ABC occurs?
  • cater to the clients budgetary constraints by providing products that the client can afford?
  • use some other approach not listed here
  • If you are someone looking to hire a vendor for your event: what are the deciding factors in choosing vendors?

    Please leave a comment below with your answers to the questions above. Thanks!!