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  • Alexis Alvarez

The Truth Behind Wedding Inspo

chicago illinois wedding planner
Photo by: Voss & Virtue

Easily one of the most frustrating conversations I have with you guys (for both me and you) is the one where I have to bridge the gap between what they see on Pinterest and Instagram and what is realistic with their budget.

So many times you guys come to me with these grandiose visions for your wedding day picked up directly from Pinterest and Instagram only to have budgets that don't match. And it's not your fault! Stylized editorial shoots are made to be aspirational but don't give viewers any insight as to the cost to replicate the design. You have absolutely zero working knowledge of the actual numbers behind the things you're pinning and saving on these platforms. So let's demystify the pins & help you see more clearly the actual costs behind your fave wedding inspiration.

chicago illinois wedding planner
Photo by: Jasko Photographer

Let's start with some basic facts about catering proposals & venue inclusions.

  • 9/10 your catering proposal does not include a plate or charger at the place setting when your guests sit down. If your meal is plated, your courses will be served on a plate, the plate will not be at the table when guests are seated. If you're serving a station or buffet dinner, plates will be at the stations.

  • The place settings that your catering proposal does include are usually very basic silver or gold fork & knife and a clear water glass. If you add on tableside wine service is when you'll start to see wine glasses added to the table. Similarly, the dinnerware included in your package is usually a basic, white dinnerware set.

  • Any colored glass, modern-looking silverware sets, vintage dinnerware sets, charger plates, etc. are usually additional rentals.

  • Most venues have one or 2 types of chairs that they have inhouse that are included in your rental. If your venue includes a gold or silver Chiavari chair but you have your heart set on an acrylic ghost chair - this will be extra (usually around $20-$30 per chair)

  • Most venues have either rectangular banquet tables (usually 6 or 8ft) and/or round tables (usually 60 or 72 inches). Some venues include those beautiful farmhouse tables, but if they do not, you'd need to rent those to bring them in & they're not cheap because they're expensive to buy, but also expensive to store because of their size and require a ton of labor to transfer because they're heavy AF.

  • Dance floors are not usually white. They are usually wooden pieces that fit together. To make them white (or any color) requires vinyl coverings (added expense) and time (added labor).

  • Linen packages with venues vary but usually range either from a standard offering of white, ivory or black linen to possibly any color of standard poly-cotton (you know this as a regular looking table cloth or napkin). Floral prints, lace overlays, velvet, sequins, etc are not usually included and can range anywhere from $25-100+ per table depending on size and design.

  • Family-style meals require larger tables (and usually smaller centerpieces) so that there is room at the table for all of the dishes and for guests to eat.

chicago illinois wedding planner
Photo by: Sean Cook

Now let's talk about floral:

  • Hanging installations are expensive. IDC how "minimal" you want it, it takes A LOT of time (labor) it takes to hang installations above every table (or half, or a third). It takes precision to hang an installation from the ceiling and make sure it is straight and then to duplicate it several times over. This increased the number of people your florist needs to pay to be onsite because simultaneously your ceremony needs to be set, as well as your centerpieces. Then, depending on how much time you have included for set up in your contract, this number may only grow as the florist works within a 3-hour window given by the venue to do 15 hours worth of work. ALSO, depending on the layout, the tables might not even be allowed to be set prior to the installation because they can't work over a set table. So many factors go into quoting installation work & it's not cheap. If you find yourself searching FB groups for "affordable" florists, you can go ahead & cross installations off your list of wants.

  • Those large bohemian bouquets you keep pinning are going to run you about $300-$400.

  • "Just a greenery runner" is not necessarily a budget-friendly choice. If you're wanting those intricate garlands - they are hand-sewn and take hours (labor) to create each one. They also require a bunch of product to get the fullness they'll need to be to have impact & then depending on the length of the table, that number only grows. They are not cheap. If you find yourself saying "just a little greenery", you'll need to have something underneath the greenery to visually "lift" it off of the table (think runner) otherwise it will just blend into the table.

  • Full centerpieces will often require wider tables (not included in your venue) in order to make space for guests to actually sit and eat. This is especially true if you're serving family-style.

  • Most of your venues will require your candles to be enclosed in glass. Glass hurricanes are not cheap, especially for pillar candles because they are so tall.

  • Even the most basic ceremony piece is going to run you a minimum of $600. Those lush ceremony hoops, even with MOSTLY greenery are going to start around $1500 and increase with the amount of floral.

  • Stems/buds at each place setting will run about $2-$10 per place setting.

  • Labor is not just the time the floral team is onsite. It's the number of hours they spend putting together the order with the wholesaler, it's the number of hours they spend processing the floral order when it comes in so the flowers survive your wedding day. It's the number of hours they spend pre-event assembling at their studio. It's the number of hours they spend loading the truck and unloading it at the venue. It's the number of hours they spend breaking down and cleaning up petals off the floor of your venue at the end of the night. It's the number of hours they spend loading and unloading the truck again post-event and cleaning the rentals and storing them again.

chicago illinois wedding planner
Photo by: Sean Cook

And now let's discuss stationery & calligraphy:

  • Basic invitation packages do not include belly bands and a thousand extra inserts and a wax seal and a bit of crushed lavender and a velvet envelope liner for good measure. EACH OF THESE THINGS ARE EXTRA.

  • To have your invitations hand calligraphed (is that a word? Help me out calligraphy friends lol) is also an additional cost. Go follow some Calligraphers on Instagram and see how much time (labor) it takes to handwrite the front of one envelope. And then multiply that by 100 envelopes and add in return addresses and return envelopes with mailing & return addresses.

  • Place cards, menus, table numbers & signage are all additional costs and will vary based on the design & materials required.

  • Anything handpainted (watercolor fans, I'm talking to you) is going to cost you your right arm. That shit takes forever.

Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner?


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