Thursday, 18 July 2013

Tips for reducting costs & stress when planning a wedding

As previously mentioned I know a lot of people planning their wedding right now. I know from personal experience that many brides will want to do all the research & organizing themselves. I get that, this is your special day. Make every last detail your own. What I would like to offer is some things that I wish I had done looking back & also share some tips for what really contributed to the success of my own wedding, starting with:

Setting a number:

Not a guest list number (at least not yet) but a number you are comfortable spending on this day.
Figure out how much you'll be able to put away monthly, or per pay cheque towards the wedding to help you decide on a reasonable date for the wedding.
If friends & family have already offered financial help, include that but I wouldn't include a number that you expect to make on a social or any other estimated gifts. If the money does come in, great & you'll be in even better financial shape.

I think that couples usually end up doing the opposite of this, buying first & seeing how the costs have added up later. I find this impulsive & with this method I feel like money could run out awfully quick.

Pick a logical number based on how much time you have before the big day & how much you're able to set aside. From there, assign a budget for the the ceremony venue, reception venue, food, alcohol, officiant, flowers, dress, tuxedos, jewellery, bridal party gifts, music, decorations, photos, video, hair, make-up, shoes, stationary, favours, cake, guest book, honeymoon, transportation, rings, veil & anything else you might want or need.

Pick a theme with obvious colours:

The theme for my wedding was peacocks, however you can only find so many peacocks (and the zoo won't rent theirs). So as a last case resort, ensure that your theme has vivid & obvious colours that you could use to keep the theme going. I.E. of course the people we hired to produce our chair covers didn't have peacock patterns or brooches, but they did have royal blue sashes.

Wedding Party:

Don't eff this up. Choose REALLY close friends or family. People who make your life easier & not more stressful because personalities quirks tend to get amplified under pressure

Explain to them what you would ask of them as a member of the wedding party & what kind of a price range you'd be looking at as far as attire.
I've had friends with bridesmaids dropping out after months of planning because they couldn't finance a $300 dress (along with costs that can be acquired from throwing a bachelorette party, a wedding shower, buying gifts etc). You might sound maniacal to your friends at first but better to sound crazy from the get-go than go bat sh*t when you're out two members.

Don't scrimp on the guest list:

Getting a large group of people together is hard enough. I will ALWAYS be a strong advocate of inviting everyone you want to be there, even if it means having to save-up longer. In my family I've seen how upset people get if only aunts & uncles are invited & not cousins & then entire branches of the family 'boycot' the event. Save yourself the drama.

Think about things you can make instead of buying:

But don't go so overboard that you stretch yourself too thin.
Homemade aspects of a wedding make things so personal & add character to a wedding. Think about what you could produce as a favour, a centrepiece, a decorator, as gifts for your bridal party or even being your own florist or caterer.

Re purpose:

Trust me, I'm no hippy. Just cheap.
Think of ways that you could re-use or re-purpose something to reduce costs or add character to your wedding.
Most people would not get married in their mother's dress, but considering that veils these days are between $150.00-$400.00, why not use your mom's veil? you can easily cut off any tacky detailing & sew-on your own or hire a seamstress to do it for you.
Another great idea to get the most of your flowers if to make sure the ceremony flowers get shipped over to the reception venue. I spent a fair bit of money an gorgeous blue orchid pew clusters. I then had my set-up & take down crew drive them over to the reception venue & use them as decorations for the mic stand, the bar, cake table etc.


Most stationary people will give you a better rate the more items you hire them to make. This will also ensure that your theme stays consistent across the board. Think about invitations, RSVPs, envelopes, favour tags, wine labels, table numbers, seating chart, menu, name cards & thank-you cards.

Personalizing your ceremony:

Your officiant should be able to present you with some good options but look online for traditions of different cultures & see if they resonate with you.
If you don't have an officiant in mind & don't like the idea of hiring a stranger, Manitoba vital statistics can grant a license either on an annual basis or just a day pass. Ensure that whomever you'd like to do this for you is prepared for public speaking & has a resume, references & can write well-thought-out answers to their mandatory questions. As with all things government related, allow a lot of time for processing.

Know your DJ:

Don't consider your music a detail. I feel that the music can make or break the atmosphere of your wedding.
I went as far as to write a list of songs that I expected to have played at my reception after feeling like a previous DJ we hired did his own thing & didn't listen to what we had asked for.

Make sure your DJ is catering to you, your friends & your family. My favourite weddings are a mix of traditional Manitoba social music, classic dance songs, top 40 with a few of the couple's favourite songs thrown in the mix.


If you're getting married, you'll need a few. At your social, rehearsal dinner & at the wedding (your vows if you're choosing to write your own as well!) Make jokes (people have to laugh, it's your wedding). Think of all the people who have contributed time or money towards this wedding & thank them for it.

Make schedules & to-do lists:

People will offer to help out with your big day. The problem is that a lot of things have to be left to the very last second & it's easy to forget that they need to be done. I.E. if you plan on setting-up/decorating your reception venue yourself, there will likely be another event the night before which restricts you from being able to do things in advance.
Make a list of all the things that need to be done (especially the day of) & let people who offer to help (bless their hearts) choose what they would be willing to take on. Don't be afraid to micro-manage. People in the industry expect it & after you've just dropped tens of thousands of dollars on one day, you're going to want it to go seamlessly.
Print out schedules of where everyone should be at what time & hand them out to your VIPs. That way there'll be no excuse if your florist or caterer is running late & you are free to punch them in the face for ruining your day.

Have a tool chest:

The day-of have someone carry: hairspray, Tylenol, bobby pins, a sewing kit, deodorant, tampons, glue for eyelashes & nails & sunscreen. No hot messes at your wedding sista!

Don't forget to plan for the finishing touches:

Buying a necklace or a bra in real life is peanuts. Buying anything related to the wedding industry is insane. All of the prices are jacked up but unless you plan on making your own veil, some of these expenses are unavoidable. Make sure that you've allocated yourself funds for the details I.E, shoes, a bra, jewellery, a hair piece, manicures & pedicures.


In Winnipeg, unless otherwise specified, tipping is customary (so strange how our society works-how are people supposed to know when to tip or not!).
Tips are generally expected from bartenders, drivers, waitstaff, hairstylists, entertainers & make-up people. I don't necessarily agree with this practise but that's a blog for another day. At present time, remember to not be a jerk & tip. To make life easier, entrust a man (or someone in a tuxedo!) with marked enveloped that contain the tip money for each of the recipients along with envelopes for any last minute 'day-of' payments (limo companies will usually take a deposit & expect you to pay the rest on the day of. Hair stylists, make-up professionals & entertainers are other standard 'pay once service is rendered' professionals).

Sign-up for the magazine: Say what? A free magazine about weddings/venues/suppliers in this city? This magazine is a dream come true. Sign-up & use the magazine to draw inspiration and/or find suppliers. At the very least, allow it to get you pumped for your own wedding!

Happy planning!

Monday, 8 July 2013

People with no right to your money asking for your money

A whole week with no blog gee whiz!

In all honesty, work is a rampage right now & I have negative time at home with renovating our home & looking for a new one. Also, it was our two year wedding anniversary last week! I know, I know, lucky Mr. Ford that I have the patience to tolerate him for so long.
Best of luck to all the brides planning their own weddings this season. Don't go broke! Maybe I'll write a wedding planning advise column in a future post...

I did manage to get out this weekend on Friday night with the lovely maid of honour & the Mister.
We were headed to the exchange district to have birthday drinks with another bride-to-be. I'm not going to go in to great detail about the encounters on the half an hour walk there, but I will say that they included me calling the cops on a booty-short girl walking down Portage offering to sell weed to every young person she came across, ourselves included (Do I look like a stoner to you? And if so(?) what makes you think that I want your dirty street weed?)
Also included, the very attractive maid of honour having someone yell "YOUR SISTERS HOT!" at her, which seems like an odd thing to say to someone you don't know.
And finally, there was a young man a block away from Whiskey Dix yelling at cars & getting in to a fight with his shirt. To his credit, he shut-up when we walked by.

We had a fun night but Mr. Ford was crying about having to work the next morning so we left about 12:30. This is where the rant really commences.

At Portage & Main we came across a woman who appeared to be in her late 20s or early 30s.
She stopped us, and as normal people would do given they just got stopped by a complete stranger, we kept a safe gap between us. This lady was not one of those hobbling half dead zombie bums that will mutter something unintelligible about needing change. This one was a girthy young lady who could probably do some damage if she so chose.

Girthy bum started our chat by rambling that she promised she wasn't crazy & that she never does this, she's just not the type of person.

She then spent a couple of minutes criticising the 'look' maid-of-honour was giving her. Girthy bum believed that 'the look' was inappropriate & that maid-of-honour was judging her based on that look that she had already received ten times that night. 'The look' by the way was blank, with a warranted touch of impatience at that point.

After Girthy bum was done 'breaking the ice' with her random coke rant about 'a look' which she had apparently viewed ten times before so she might have had it confused for 'a human face', she finally proceeded to inform us that:

A-Her friends had taken her out for the night.
B-Her friends had left without her (maybe after she gave them a funny 'look')
C-She was exactly $12.00 short for cab fare home.
D-She had already asked cab drivers (other working people) for a ride but they 'Didn't want to help anybody out'.

She then offered a few seconds of awkward silence because she didn't want to come right out with it & ask for what she could have asked us for 5 minutes ago minus the story.

She then went on to further comment on 'the look' we were giving her (At this point possibly the look of 'Oh you poor little victim, here let me empty my bank account in to your pocket because you made  a bad series of decisions & someone else should bail you out'). Following this, was another shpiel of how she wasn't drunk or crazy.

In an effort to prove to us that she was just a one-time-bum & not a career-bum, she then:

A-Pointed to her feet to show us what she claimed to be $200.00 shoes,
B-Referenced her 'fancy' newer Samsung cellphone,
C-Stated that she just wanted to get home to her little girl.

Great. Lay it on thick there lady with more expensive nails than mine. Are you sure that's all? Don't you have a sick grandma you need to buy a plane ticket to visit? How about your cat that just got run over by a car & you can't afford to pay the vet to save it's life?

Mr. Ford must have been on the same mind track. Being that Madame Girth had a Guess purse & being that she had just explained to us that she was a rather wealthy bum, he very respectfully suggested that she go to the bar we were just in as they were still open & had an ATM machine. This is probably my favourite excuse yet:

"That'd be great if I wasn't getting paid until next week."

Funny, I'm not getting paid until next week either yet I still seem to be a good candidate for paying your way.

We respectfully declined helping her & were upset about the encounter all the way home.

I started to imagine what I would do if I was without a ride home.

First thing that comes to mind would be calling someone on my fancy cellphone & apologising profusely to the person I would have woken up.

If I should have become stranded before 1:30, I would know that buses are still running. If I didn't know if they were running or where to catch one, 311 operates 24 hours a day & 7 days a week to tell me so.

I would find an ATM & take out $20.00 because I would never allow myself to have $0 in my bank account. If I ever did, I'd eat the overdraft fee (which is waived in a lot of banking plans anyway).

All in all, I am pretty sure I would rather walk for 3 hours than guilt someone else in to paying for my bad decisions.
All of that being said though, I do worry because I know that purses get stolen, cars get towed & unexpected situations happen. If there was a way of telling that this person actually lost their wallet or get mugged, I would be happy to help out, but the criminals out there are sophisticated & you can't tell. The many people who make lying an art are really ruining it for the few victims who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In conclusion, as panhandling is not illegal, I am going to do the bums of Winnipeg a favour & offer you some advice for how to get something from me:

1. If you are hungry, ask for food not change.
2. If you need a ride, ask for bus fare, not change
3. Don't smoke when you are asking for money. I can't afford to smoke & neither should you.
4. If someone gives you money, don't ask for more. There's very few things I can think of more douchbag-gy than that.
5. Don't ask for a specific amount of money. You don't have the right to decide what other people will choose to give as charity/drug money

And finally:

6. If you are trying to buy weed, be up front about it. I won't give you any money to support your addiction, but people will respect you more for your honesty & you won't completely lose every ounce of your dignity.