All posts by Samantha's Bridal Team

Choosing Ceremony Site

The selection of a ceremony site is entirely up to your preference, the style of the wedding, the number of guests expected and your religious affiliations. The popular venues are booked more than a year in advance, we suggest that you to reserve your special location before any other plans.

Your Venue Options

  • Church,
  • Private homes,
  • Gardens,
  • Hotels,
  • Clubs,
  • Community halls,
  • Parks,
  • Museums,
  • Beaches
  • Hot air balloons among others

Ceremony site fee

Most ceremony sites ask for a fee in order for you to rent a facility for your wedding. In some churches this fee may include the organist or choir, and or miscellaneous items such as kneeling cushions, aisle runner, and candelabra. Confirm what the site fee includes prior to booking. Beware of how many weddings a church can hold per day. As much as possible aim to have to first shot. It is stressful to do your church decorations in less than half an hour. You do not want to keep your guests waiting.

Some churches have a policy of having only two weddings a day adequately spaced out. Some churches can have up to four weddings. It means you only have 30 minutes (if the previous wedding is on time!) to transform your dream ceremony site.

Tips to Save Money:
a Have your ceremony at the same facility as your reception to save a second rental fee and transporting the guest from one venue to another.

  • Set a realistic guest list and stick to it.
  • Hire an experienced wedding planner.

Wedding Styles

Out of Africa Theme

It is similar to a Safari, and definitely has its own twist. Your wedding can be customized in many aspects related to “Out Of Africa”. Treasured African artefacts, traditional ethnic materials, colours and animals are able to give a classy look with this theme.

Treasured African Artefacts

Treasured animal artefacts are usually very minimal, simple and very organic. There is something about handmade folk art and craft art; it looks real and gives you a feel of close to nature. African designs have different looks and reflect different personalities.

Colour

The most commonly depicted “Out of Africa” look is more weathered and savannah plains. Very monochromatic hues like beiges, browns, coppers, and creams, chocolates, khakis and deep greens depict the richness of the African continent. Whatever colour you choose should be used re-currently on the stationary and throughout other areas of the wedding for the theme to stand out.

Animals

Lions “Simba” are the most noble of the African animals. They rule the forest and are some of the most dangerous creatures to man. Lions symbolize the aristocracy that is found in the African forests. Instead of table numbers, one can use animals to name the tables. Also, provide a small token of an animal figurine and a write-up on the same as a give-away to the guests allocated to the table. Other animals one can use to name the tables are giraffes, rhinos, antelopes and elephants.

Material

Various textile materials can be used to develop this theme through out the wedding. For instance, one can use sackcloth, sheers, and linen moderately on table covers and chairs,leather paper for stationary and even tablemats and khaki paper, to give the final classy look of wild-Africa. African prints on fabrics also give an ethnic look and could be used. Lots of pottery can be used to give a dry burnt look of the African Forest, and dried flowers in earthly colours could also add to the décor.

Favour ideas

Scented candles wrapped in sackcloth and packaged in khaki designed carriage bags,mini-notebooks made of elephant paper and wrapped in leather paper with the couples names signed, animal figurines wrapped in linen cloth or bark cloth engraved with names of couple and scented dried flowers wrapped in small African woven baskets and covered with sheer cloth, are just but a few of the ideas one could use. The beauty about using this theme is that there is no fear of colour clashing, as the colours are rich and blend into one another so well.

Getting Started

Wedding Style Budget

What kind of wedding?  The one decision that is going to be the starting point of your wedding planning is the type, size and style of wedding. Do youbwant a religious or civil wedding, fairly tale wedding, traditional,do you want a big wedding with all the trimmings or just a simple I do? Or do you want something completely out of the ordinary.

Once you are clear on the theme, with almost any budget,some imagination and flair, you can create a wonderful wedding. Remember extravagance isn’t necessarily the option as people remember the little touches, and there are many wedding themes to choose from.

The Guest List

Try to make a rough estimate of how many guests you expect even at this early stage as this will help you make important decisions on the wedding venue and budget. When deciding on a guest list, again there are no hard and fast rules but it sure will cause you a lot of stress. Best way to handle it is to split the guest list in three quotas; one for both your mutual friends, next for his parents and relatives and the other for the bride’s relatives and parents. You can then all discuss the lists together and come to an agreement.

Remember that the longer your guest list, the bigger your wedding will be, thus the more your budget will have to stretch. You can reduce the guest list to a much smaller number by having an invitation-only reception and insist on RSVP. At the end of the day, let your budget decide the number of guests.

Date and Location

Setting a date will enable you to go ahead with plans. You ill not know what amount of time you have to search or the right dress, when you’ll need the ceremony and reception sites plus photography, catering, florists and the details that need a set date and time.

Things to consider
When setting a date, think about the weather. Do you want a ceremony during the sunny season? Or is there a particular date and time that is of sentimental importance to you and your fiancé or family? Or would you prefer it at a laid-back season or during a festive season like the month of December? Consider all these points and discuss with your partner. Consider your guests’ plans. Perhaps some of them usually choose this time to travel up-country to see their relatives during the holiday season.

Budget

As soon as possible, decide on how much you can afford. If the money you have from your own savings, your parents and friends contributions is not enough to create the wedding you want, you may want to save some more. At the same time look for ways to cut back on some spending in some areas.

To help you estimate the total cost of your wedding so that you can prioritize and make the necessary budget allocation, we have designed a comprehensive budget over view so that you can have an idea of all the expenses that you are likely to incur and thus have an idea of what your wedding will cost.

Fill in the budget column putting in the estimated amount then add all the “Budget” amounts per category. Write the total amount in the “Budget Subtotal” space provided at the end of each category. Finally add all the “Subtotal” figures to come up with your final wedding budget.

The “Actual” column is for you to input your actual expenses as you purchase items or hire your service providers. Writing down the actual expenses will help you stay within your budget. After adding up all your “Budget Subtotals,” in case you find that the amount is more than the budget allocated, adjust your expenses accordingly by deciding what is an important must-have to you and knocking out what is not.

Reception Style

Food can be served either buffet style or as a sit-down meal. It should be chosen according to the time of day and style of the wedding. A sit down meal features several served courses. In this style the guests sit down and food is brought to the tables.

This is the most expensive service. To keep costs down, go for a simpler menu. The buffet style can also feature several courses, the only difference is that the guests assemble their own plates and get the food from the food stations.

The other kind of reception style is the least expensive and less formal stylish cocktail reception where waiters pass drinks or food offered at various food stations. This type is very rare and not suitable for wedding formalities.

Reception Site Fee

There are two basic types of reception sites. The first type charges per person fee which includes the facility, food, tables, silverware,tableware, and so forth. Examples: hotels and, restaurants. Indeed most venues with on site catering prohibit outside caterers. They provide you with everything including chairs and tables plus minimal decoration, leaving you to hire only the florist if you need extra decoration.

The second type charges a site rental fee and you are responsible for providing the food, beverages, linens, and possibly tables and chairs. Examples: gardens, clubs, school grounds, private homes and halls.
The advantage of the first type is that most of everything is done for you. The disadvantage, however, is that your choice of food, tableware and linen are limited. Usually, you are not permitted to bring in an outside caterer and must select from a predetermined menu.

Venue Options: Private homes, gardens, hotels, clubs, restaurants, halls, parks, museums, are some of the more popular choices for receptions.

Tips to save money:

  • The cost of reception is approximately 50% of the total cost of your wedding; you can save the money by limiting your guest list.
  • Hire a wedding planner, she/he may be able to negotiate good rates since she brings in good amount of business in a year and may have better rates with the venue or caterer.
  • Reception sites that charge site or a ballroom rental fee may waive this fee if you meet minimum requirements on food and beverages consumed. But try to negotiate this before you book the facility.

Things to consider:
When comparing the cost of different locations, consider the rental fee, food, beverages, parking, setup
charges and the cost of rental equipment needed such as tables, chairs, tents, and so forth. If you are planning an outdoor reception, be sure to have a backup site in case of rain. Be sure to book your venues as soon as you make the decision, as most venues are booked a year in advance.

Things to Beware of:
Be careful of hotels that book events too close together. You don’t want your guests to wait outside while your room is being set up for the reception and you don’t want to be ‘forced out’ before you are ready to leave because the hotel needs to arrange the room for the next event. Get your rental hours and the name of your room in writing.

Liquor / Beverages

There is usually price latitude with beverages and liquor, depending on the amount of alcohol served.

Options: Sodas and fruit punch are popular non- alcoholic beverages served at receptions. While white, red wines and beer are the most popular alcoholic beverages, you may also serve scotch, vodka, gin, rum, and of course, don’t forget coffee or tea.

Things to consider: If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages at a reception site that does not provide alcohol, make sure your caterer has a liquor license to serve alcohol and that your reception site allows consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In selecting the type of alcohol to serve, consider the age and preference of your guests, the type of food that will be served, (most receptions last three hours) and the time of day your guests will be drinking. Never serve liquor without some type of food, allow 1 drink serving per person per hour on the average. A bottle of wine, (most come in 750ml) will serve six glasses. Plan for an average limit of at least 3 glasses of wine per person. This means for instance, that you will need 4 bottles of wine (preferably 2 of white and 2 of red) per table for an 8- person table.

If you intend to serve cask wines, you will need an average of 8 casks of 5litres each to serve an average 100 people. For the spirits- one 750ml bottle can serve up to 25 tots. Assuming that each guest will have 2 tots per serving per hour, you will need 8 tots per person translating to a bottle per 3 people If you are hosting an open bar at a hotel or restaurant, ask the catering manager how they charge for liquor: by consumption or by number of bottles opened. Get this in writing before the event and then ask for a full consumption report after the event. It is also helpful to have a person you trust behind the bar to ensure it truly is your party that consumes all the liquor.

Beware: Ensure you put in place adequate security, as the host of a party is held legally responsible for the conduct and safety of their guests. Therefore keep this in mind when planning the quantity and type
of beverages to serve. Remind your bartenders not to serve alcohol to minors.

Tips To Save Money:

  • To keep beverage costs down, serve punch, wine, or non-alcoholic drinks only.
  • If your venue or caterer allows it, consider buying liquor from a wholesaler.
  • Avoid salty foods such as potato chips; these foods will make your guests thirstier so they will tend to drink more.
  • Host alcoholic beverages for the first hour, then go to a cash bar. Or host beer, wine, and soft drinks only and have mixed drinks available on a cash basis.
  • Cask wines are less expensive than serving bottled wine.
  • Corkage fee can be waived if you meet the minimum requirements on beverages consumed.
  • For the toast, serve champagne only on the high tables. Many people will make a toast with whatever they are currently drinking.
  • Consider serving sparkling wine in place of champagne.
  • Avoid waiters and waitresses. Instead, have an open bar in which your guests have to get their own drinks. People tend to drink almost twice as much if there are waiters and waitresses constantly asking them if they would like another drink and then topping up their drinks.

Corkage Fee
Many reception sites and caterers make money by marking up the food and alcohol they sell.

You may wish to provide your own alcohol for several reasons. First, it is more cost effective. Second, you may want to serve an exotic wine or drink that the reception site or caterer does not offer. In either case, if your reception site or caterer allows it, be prepared to pay a corkage fee. This is the fee for each bottle brought into the reception and opened by a member of their staff.

Things To Consider: You need to consider whether the expenses saved after paying the corkage fee justify the hassle of bringing in your own alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages are the most expensive. There are a number of options and variations for serving alcoholic beverages:

  • A full open bar where you pay for your guests to drink as much as they wish
  • An open bar for the first hour, followed by a cash bar where guests pay for their own drinks
  • Cash bar only
  • Beer and wine only

Non- alcoholic beverages only; or nay combination there of

Beverages Amount based on 100 guests
Gin 33 bottles (750ml)
Rum 33 bottles (750ml)
Scotch 33 bottles (750ml)
Vodka 33 bottles (750ml)
White wine 50 bottles (750ml)
Red wine 50 bottles (750ml)
Cask wine 8 casks each 5 liters
Champagne 20 bottles (for just tossing)
Other 2 cases each; tonic water, Ginger ale, cola, beer

Menu Selection

Chicken and beef are the most popular selections for a large event although there are many main dishes to choose from. Ask your caterer for their specialty.

If you have a special type of food you would like to serve at your reception, select a caterer who specializes in preparing it.

Things to consider: Assign someone to work with the caterer especially on the Dday to ensure everything is done according to your wishes.

Caterers have various ways in which they compute for the charges. Most base their costs per head count. You will be asked to pay a deposit of which the remaining money is likely to be due just weeks before the event. Some caterers will ask for 90 percent when you confirm the final head count.

Tips to save money: Depending on how certain you are on the number of your guest that are likely to show up, give just 85 to 95 percent of your final guest count to your caterer. This way if all your guests do come, your caterer should have enough food for all of them and at the same time if some do not show up, you will
not have to pay for so many unused plates. If you give a complete count of your guests to the caterer and some guests do not show up, you will still have to pay for their plates. This is especially true with sit in receptions, in which case the facility or caterer will charge extra for each additional guest.

To regulate the amount of food consumed in a buffet meal style, have the catering staff serve the food onto guests’ plates rather than allowing guests to serve them. Select food that is not too time-consuming to prepare, or food that does not have expensive ingredients.

Working with your caterer

If your reception is going to be in a venue that provides food e.g. a hotel or restaurant, all you will need to do is select a meal to serve your guests from a predetermined menu. You can also customize your own menu should you want to. Incase your reception is going to be in a venue that does not provide food, you will need to hire an outside caterer who will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and serving the food and cleaning up after the event.

The caterer can also be responsible for beverages but this is entirely up to you. Book your caterer in advance especially if your wedding is going to be in the busy season. Ask to see the caterers portfolio including pictures of previous work so that you see how the caterer presents their work, ask for references and be sure to counter check on them or better still visit an event they are catering. Make sure your caterer is fully self-supported with catering equipment. A competent caterer will prepare much of the food in his/her own kitchen and should provide an adequate staff of cooks, servers and bartenders.

Before signing a contract, make sure you are clear on all the services the caterer will provide. Your contract should clearly state the amount and type of food and beverages that will be served, the way in which they will be served, the number of servers who will be available, the cost per item or person, and the rental items the caterer will provide such as tables, chairs and tableware.

Decorating the Main Alter

The flowers for the main altar are usually grand and elaborate as they not only serve the purpose of decorating but also direct the visual attention of the guests- toward the front of the church or ceremony venue and to the bridal couple. They should be high enough to be seen from the back.

If your ceremony is not in a place of worship, you can decorate an arch, gazebo, or any other suitable structures to act as the altar with flowers or greenery. In the Hindu religion, the ceremony, takes place in a Mandap, which is a canopy, placed at the altar and covered with greens and fresh flowers.

Things To Consider: When choosing floral accents and decorations for main altar, consider the size and style of the building, the style of the wedding, the cost, and the regulations of the particular site. Some ceremony sites like churches are built with such architectural splendour that is ornate enough and you don’t need to too much or extra flowers. In some cases you may just need to add a few dramatic showpieces that will complement the existing décor.

Congrats, you are engaged – (now what?)

On Issue 20, 2013

Wedding planning, inflation, the rotten economy and you

The holidays have been dubbed “engagement season” by the wedding industry, since the wed-biz has been a growth industry for the past few years, dozens of new businesses have popped up, each trying to grab their slice of the wedding pie (or cake, if you will.) Lots of these are small start-ups.

Many new ventures in the wedding arena have come up in the last few years, some without even a physical address. The good news is that because this new wedding businesses are hungry; it’s often easier to negotiate better rates and services for your money.

The bad news is that you must choose your location and suppliers even more carefully than ever, since you must assess a vendor’s likelihood of solvency by the time your wedding rolls around.  Sadly, these days tales abound of couples who are left high and dry when their venue or vendors shut their doors without warning, and often without refunding deposits despite their legal obligations to do so.
How do you assess a wedding vendor’s robustness?  Often you can’t, but you can hedge your bets in case the worst happens. DO they have an office, a business name, contact and contracts? Has any of the established vendors ever worked with them?  Do they have the necessary legal paperwork for operation? Venues are especially notorious with everyone converting their backyards into venues only for a neighbour to place an injunction just a week before your wedding and you have to get a new venue!  If you are making a substantial investment in a large event, you can reduce your risk of vendor failure by booking a location that is part of a larger company; that way, if a particular location goes burst, you might be able to recover your loss.

However, I don’t want to discourage couples from placing their trust in small business startups who come with the added advantage of offering unique options you can’t get from established businesses.  It’s often a matter of conscience; but is it worth to take additional financial risk? Those who are bold enough and solvent enough to start making wedding plans should be aware of the additional perils of working with some of these companies.

This is where something like wedding insurance which some company is planning to launch (even though I already regard it with some suspicion)  might actually serve a worthy purpose.  Of course, you’ll need to check the small print to make sure your wedding will be covered in the event of a vendor bankruptcy or disappearance….and just to be sure there’s a fine point put on it.

So if you have carefully selected your suppliers, How do you Respond to Suppliers Who Fall Below Expectations?

When hiring a Supplier, through contracts and discussions, expectations are created. As a bride or groom there is a level of confidence that you should have in your Supplier. The caterers will provide great food that won’t run out and that is at the right temperature, the flowers will be brilliant and correct, the timeline will go as planned and the DJ will have all the right songs. These are proper expectations, but what do you do if the food is cold, the bouquet is made from the wrong flowers or the DJ has forgotten to bring your first dance song?

First of all, much can be avoided by following certain steps;

  1. Interview several wedding Suppliers in each category and follow your gut as well as your budget
  2. Create a checklist for the day for each of the suppliers
  3. Make sure the supplier is completely clear and aware of your expectations in writing.
  4. Hire an Event Coordinator, “One who has done many weddings” if not for the whole planning, at least for the material day
  5. If you do not have an Event Coordinator appoint a specific person for each Supplier to make sure all is according to plan. It makes some guests feel like part of your wedding and can ease your mind.

Now if you have done what you can and expectations are still not met (let’s face it, none of us have a perfect work day everyday) the best thing is to take a big deep breath and a moment to calm before reacting. Decide before hand if you are the type of bride/groom that wants to know about situations as they arise or want to be kept out of the loop and just enjoy the day/evening.

Communicate to your suppliers or coordinator(s). The best way to approach a Supplier who has not met requirements is to ask what they can do to remedy the situation. Empower them. They already feel bad enough and being barked at will just make the situation worse. Suppliers understand that this is the most important day for you and that you are paying them, in general most will do whatever they can to fix the problem. Be realistic with your request in the situation. If the florist has created a bouquet of the wrong flowers and does not have the ones you requested and cannot get them, create an alternative with what is available.

While this can be very upsetting and disheartening for a bride/groom, its important to realize that the more time and energy spent on stressing and being angry the less time you will enjoy with your loved ones.

Reserve your sentiments till the wedding is over, usually after the honeymoon. Feedback to all Suppliers is always appreciated as it helps them grow and you feel better. If you are disappointed with the service express that. Ask for what you would like in exchange for your disappointment. They cannot replace the problems of the wedding day, but perhaps they can ease the pocket book or send you a gift or even flowers to your bridal party, etc. There is always a solution.

The most important thing at any wedding is that you enjoy while you are there, with family and friends. A Supplier will always do their utmost to provide the best service possible to you. No matter what, there has never been a wedding that has fallen apart to such a point that it ruined the day, at least not on my watch.

Finally, Even as we feel our budgets grow tighter, let us bear in mind that the best parts of any wedding are the bits you can’t buy: love, appreciation, and camaraderie.  May 2014 bring you many opportunities to create true wealth in all the ways that really matter.

Until next time, a sweet and long life to you all