Hello I'm Eleanor Campbell with Events for You. I’ve been a wedding planner in Asheville for over 23 years. I've worked most of the venues in the area and have encountered all kinds of situations, good and bad, and worked with every type of wedding from a small budget to a large budget. I am here to answer your questions – anything to do with weddings. No question is too dumb! Who’s got a question for me??
Q: Where do I start?
Answer: Great question! The first thing to start with is the venue, because a lot of venues book up quickly. Asheville is a very popular destination for weddings right now, and certain times of the year – spring and fall – are also very popular. So, first look at venues. There are some great ones here today. Then take a look at your budget. Now, both of these require knowing how many people are coming. So, next, work on your guest list. Once you know how many people, and how much you have to spend, that will help you narrow down the venue.
Q. Speaking of budget, how do I set a budget? What is a reasonable budget?
A. Another great question! I’ve worked with budgets anywhere from 5000 to 25,000. In this area, I'd say the average is about 10-15,000. Can you do a wedding for 100 bucks? Maybe. Can you do it for thousand? Yes! How can you do that? Get married at a church and have a small reception in the reception hall with cake and punch and that’s it. It goes up from there as you add more things. So how do you create a budget? Look at what you and your fiancé want to spend -- how much cash do you have? Do you want to take out a credit card or a loan to add to that? No? Then talk to both sets of parents -- see what they're willing to contribute. Grandparents, maybe? After that, that's your budget. Budget still tight? The best way to stay within that budget is to limit the size of your guest list.
Q. I have a niece who is nine years old -- should she be a flower girl or is she a junior bridesmaid? What is the age cut off?
A. Generally flower girls are ages 4 to 8 and junior bridesmaids 8-14, so she's right in the middle. A lot of it depends on her age and maturity level. So if she is a shy nine-year-old she might do better as a junior bridesmaid -- that way she's just walking in the line with the other girls. If she is a real ham and loves to be the center of attention -- flower girl. (Speaking of which, she might steal the show from you – so think about if that would bother you beforehand!) The flower girl’s job is to spread flower petals for the bride to walk on. No need to make it too complicated. Anyone over six, you can ask them if they would like to be a flower girl or a bridesmaid and they can probably tell you. If they say yes, great, go with it. But if they say no, you've got to accept their answer -- bugging them about it every time you see them or having their mom force them to do it just because you think you have to have a ring bearer never works. Lots of tears. What are ring bearers anyway? Why do we have ring bearers? You know, in the old days, it was a custom to have little boys carry the train of the bride. They walked behind her, carrying her train. They were “train bearers”. As trains got shorter, they came up with the idea of having them carry the rings. I don't know how many of you would trust your five year old nephew with your wedding rings, right? [Laughter] So the ring bearer thing is kind of going away. What I see more now is a young man carrying a sign that says “here comes the bride” -- again – no need to make it too complicated. What about doggy ringbearers? Anyone thinking of having their dog as a ringbearer? [show of hands] That is a great idea, too. Just remember, with dogs, as with young children, they are a little hard to control – so they may get to that date and they may not want to walk down the aisle. Always have a backup plan -- whether it’s their mom or a bridesmaid or a groomsman stepping in to take their hand.
OK next question
Q. Someone asked about day of coordinators. What do day of coordinators do?
A. In the old days we were called wedding planners. That was the first person you called after you got engaged. They would guide you through the process of selecting vendors and venues and flowers et cetera, et cetera. In the ‘80s, people like Martha Stewart starting putting out books and magazines about wedding planning, and then came the internet, so most people now have all the tools and resources they needed to plan their own weddings. Thanks, Martha, you just about put us out of business! [laughter] So, you may not need a planner anymore, but you still need someone to help you that day. Because the venue is only focused on their part of things, the caterer is only focused on the food, the photographer only cares about the photos, et cetera, et cetera, so who is looking out for you? Because, after all, that day you should be off getting ready and hanging with your friends -- it's really hard for you to do your own set up and make up at the same time! And it's really not fair to ask your mom or your aunt to do it, because they need to get ready for the wedding, too. A day of coordinator is concerned with making sure things go right -- making sure your vendors get set up in the right place, making sure your decorations get put in the right place, making sure the first dance and cake cutting happen at the right time. The day-of takes your place that day and directs things and keep things running smoothly. A lot of the venues are now requiring a day of coordinator. Because people are bringing in more decorations and games and corn hole and giant guestbook boards et cetera et cetera, and that is way more than their staff can set up and still get all their stuff set up. The day of coordinator also handles any emergencies, and I can tell you that comes up a lot! Your Aunt Betty may be a great organizer, but can she handle it if the flowers don't show up -- can she run to the grocery store and makes some quickie flower arrangements for you? What if the musicians get lost? Does she have a violinist on speed dial? There’s all kinds of things that come up. What if the heat or air conditioning goes out at the venue? That's not something you want to be worrying about when you're out there dancing!
Q. What does a day of Coordinator cost?
A. You know, the price varies depending on how many hours they're going to be there and how big your wedding is. If you’re having a big wedding, they're going to need more than one person there. It also depends whether they do any planning with you ahead of time. I would say in this town it's anywhere from $500-$1500.
Q. Do we need wedding insurance?
A. That's a great question. Wedding insurance is a little bit different from your car or renters insurance. That’s insuring property if something bad happens. But wedding insurance is insuring you if something bad happens. But that is a good place to start. Ask your current agent, or have your parents ask theirs if they are throwing the wedding, are we covered if something happens? What if there’s an accident at the wedding or after the wedding because of alcohol? Now, wedding insurance covers that and more - We had a situation recently where a very popular wedding venue burned down – we got those clients relocated, but we still don't know if they're going to get their deposits back – so wedding insurance covers things like that. You lose your rings, your little sister plays dress up in the mud in your wedding dress, there’s a hurricane in Florida and your honeymoon city gets evacuated…It's very easy to get online. It costs between 100 and 200 dollars and it's well worth it.
Q. We’re doing our own food and bar and the venue says we need a licensed bartender, where do I find one?
A. Yes, even if they didn’t require it, you need a professional bartender for the same reasons we talked about with insurance. What if something happens? There's not really a bartending license but there are tests they can take that show that they know the alcohol laws. You want someone with experience. You really don't want to put your friend in a situation of having to tell someone that they've had too much to drink. But what you really do want to do is protect yourself. We’ve had situations where someone was overserved at a wedding and later had an accident -- the hosts are getting sued, the couple is getting sued, the caterer is getting sued -- so you really don't want to put yourself in that situation. Look for an event staffing service – there are a couple here – or a mobile bartending service. Perfect Mix Mobile Bartending is here at the show – go see Dave over there and ask him about it. Professional bartenders can also tell you how many bartenders to have, help you figure out how much alcohol to order, help you create some really cool signature cocktails – all kinds of things. They can make the party fun while still keeping things safe.
So I think that is about all the time we have for now, Please feel free to come by and see me in booth 303, Events for You, if you have any more questions. And enjoy the rest of the show!