Can a wedding be fabulous and frugal at the same time? The answer is a resounding 'Yes', according to blogger Jeannine Avelino Fehr. Her website and blog, Vancity Bride, is dedicated to helping brides find everything they need for their wedding while still keeping the bottom line in mind. The Record caught up with her recently for a Q&A session on keeping an eye on the bridal budget.
Question: What prompted you to start this blog?
Answer: I was a budget bride myself. I had a difficult time finding vendors in our price range and at the time there weren't any local resources just for budget brides. I thought, someone should do something about it - little did I know it was going to be me!
Q: What's your goal?
A: The main purpose of the blog is to help brides in the Greater Vancouver area who want something frugal yet fabulous. I offer my readers practical advice, venue, and vendor suggestions that keep their budget in mind.
I always try to find the many ways a couple can save, like which times of the year will cost less to have a wedding, or maybe something as simple as getting cupcakes instead of a wedding cake to get rid of a cake cutting fee (not all vendors do that, mind you, but some waive it for cupcakes!).
Q: What kinds of questions do readers most frequently have for you?
A: I always get asked for vendor recommendations. There are so many talented wedding vendors in the city that good word of mouth is one of the keys to a vendor's success.
Q: What areas do you think most brides are willing to spend a lot of money and which areas do you think they are more likely to try to "budget"?
A: The current poll on my blog right now is "What would you rather splurge on?" and the choices are Food/Drinks, Photography, Venue, Wedding Dress, Flowers and DÃ©cor, or Entertainment. Food/Drinks and Photography are neck and neck the top two items my readers want to focus on.
Brides would probably also splurge on their wedding dress. All eyes are on her that day so for sure they want to look their best, and probably use it as an excuse to get their dream dress (and in the end, sacrifice other areas to stay on budget).
Q: Do you think the tough economy (or even just all the news about a bad economy) has more people thinking about frugal weddings?
A: I don't think the tough economy is limiting people from having the wedding of their dreams. I haven't been in the industry long enough to see the trends but from what I observe, the top vendors still have full wedding seasons so obviously couples are finding ways to still get the wedding that they want.
For those who are looking to cut back due to the economy, many brides would consider taking on projects they can do on their own, like instead of ordering custom invitations, they would just buy a template, print it out and assemble themselves.
Perhaps they would sacrifice the time of day or season they would get married in because off-season, weekday or Sunday weddings are definitely more affordable than summer Saturday evening receptions. Cutting down on food and drinks by having a cash bar, cocktail reception or even lunch receptions are definitely more common now, too.
Q: What were the big things you learned when planning your wedding that you didn't know before or that you think are helpful for a bride-tobe to know about?
A: Don't fall in love with the first thing you see because there's a chance you might not get it and I would hate for you to feel such disappointment.
Always have a Plan B because you'll never know when you'll need it.
Venues come with minimum spend amounts. I nearly had a heart attack when I found out about it the first time, especially since it wasn't written on the website.
Talk it over with your partner and prioritize the aspects of the wedding that are most important.
It will help you figure out how to budget your money wisely.
From personal experience, trimming the guest list is the most effective way to bring costs down. It means less food, drinks, invitations, wedding favors, rentals etc. It can be a painful process so if you really can't cut any more people, then you'll have to be OK with sacrificing other parts of the wedding to stay on budget.
Q: Why do you think we are so fascinated with weddings - with shows like Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, etc. it seems like the interest in weddings just keeps increasing.
A: The grooms probably could care less once their wedding is done, but the brides stay interested because they want to know how others did it. That's why I still watch those shows. - I want to see what dress they chose, what colours they used, what unique ideas they had, etc. etc. not because I wanted to compare to my own wedding, but just because I wanted to see how differently other people plan. Just pure curiosity, I guess - and maybe a bit of bridezilla drama since it makes good TV, right?
To see more of Jeannine's advice, check out www. vancitybride.com. For more of our special feature, see pages 13 and 14. Follow reporter Christina Myers on Twitter, @ChristinaMyersA.
For more on our bridal business feature package, see the following:
Sewing up success in New West
Wedding bells still ringing in New Westminster