Dear Wedding Decorator: Where do you recommend I get married near San Gabriel?

DSC04747Q: Hope this finds you well. I had a great time reading your blogs and found some interesting ideas for my wedding in September this year. My fiancé and I are searching for a perfect venue for our tight budget. We are looking at about 50 to 60 people, and less than $5000 for ceremony and reception including catering and decorations. With your excellent past experience in the industry, I am wondering if you could kindly provide some recommendations? Preferred locations are anywhere near San Gabriel. Much appreciation for your attentions and I hope to hear from you soon.

A: If you are looking for a venue near San Gabriel, I would recommend Almansor Court in Alhambra. I can’t say for certain if they will fit the $5,000 budget for ceremony and reception, including catering and decorations, but they do have the details of their wedding packages available online — always a plus in my opinion.

Almansor Court gazebo in blueI know there are also a number of picturesque country clubs in the San Gabriel Valley, including San Gabriel, Altadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Azusa.

Dear Wedding Decorator: How much would you charge to decorate a wedding of 75+ people?

IMG_7766A: Prices on decorations wouldn’t (at least, they shouldn’t) be dependent on the number of people attending. If I were charging, the factors I’d be considering would be the materials desired (number of arrangements, types of flowers, draping, equipment), time (how much time needed to create arrangements, set up, break down), and location (far vs. close by) — that sort of thing.

I couldn’t really give you a ballpark on what a potential decoration fee would be without those factors. And beware florists and flower shops who give you a flat fee without asking for those particulars — either they will tack on fees for any or every little thing or give you the lowest-quality flowers and decorations available. You get what you pay for!

Money-saving wedding planning tips

Flickr photo by Daniel Chang

Flickr photo by Daniel Chang

Getting engaged and married is a rite of passage, but why oh why is it so expensive? I have a few friends experiencing sticker shock as they plan their upcoming nuptials, and all I can do is shake my head in sympathy. Depending on your geographic location, weddings cost an average of more than $28,000 these days, which is not easy on your personal finances.

Fortunately, there are ways to save on your wedding, but these tips have to be considered from the very beginning — before you even set a date. Still interested? Read on.

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When planning a wedding, secure a venue first

Planning a wedding can be a bewildering experience. But once you’ve secured the fiance and figured out a date, I firmly believe the first thing you should tackle in planning a wedding is finding a venue.

(Stock image by katman1972)

Stock image by katman1972

Why the venue first? Because it’ll probably be your biggest expense. And when it comes to big expenses, its generally better to secure the best price you can get early on, rather than get hit with exorbitant fees the closer you get to your wedding date. It’s pretty much impossible to book a wedding venue three months in advance, and you have to be wicked lucky six months out. A good rule of thumb is to secure a wedding venue a year in advance.

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Bargain hunter’s wedding decorations

This is the most wonderful time of the year…..for bargain hunters planning a wedding. Holiday decor can easily do double duty as wedding decorations, and you can save so much if you know where to go.

For example, I found this candle holder at Marshall’s recently. The price tag says $19.99 right? Its better than the $50 you might pay for a flower arrangement with a candle set inside, and just as pretty. Plus, I really love decorations that incorporate lights.

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Wedding deals on 11/12/13

This coming Tuesday is November 12, 2013, or 11/12/13, and its the second-to-the-last date you can get married on a sequential numerical date this century. (The last opportunity this century will be 12/13/14.) So, even if its a Tuesday, there are a lot of couples out there taking advantage of this easy-to-remember date.

Besides the fact that this is an easy-to-remember date that makes for a good story for future retellings, there is another big reason why you should consider biting the bullet and tying the knot this coming Tuesday. It’s called the weekday wedding deal — seeing as how most weddings are held on a weekend, usually Saturday, venues offer huge deals to couples willing to make their big day a weekday affair.

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Cheaper options for wedding and bridesmaid dresses


I didn’t have a traditional wedding — you know, the type where you spend about the cost of a down payment for a house — so, every so often, I fantasize about what I would have done. (It’s also my chance to muse on “this is what I would do if we were going to have a renewal ceremony.”)

darleene wedding dressHere are a few views of the dress I bought for my wedding nearly nine years ago. Guess where I bought my dress? The now-defunct Robinson’s May. Guess how much I paid? The dress was less than $20 because it was on clearance. You know, for a last-minute wedding overlooking the ocean, I think it turned out pretty well.

It’s not popular among wedding bloggers to say such a thing, but I’ve never been one to just parrot the party line — wedding dresses do not have to cost a lot. In fact, I’m the type of person whose pleasure in a thing diminishes as the cost goes up. I think you’ll find that you will enjoy your wedding day much more if it doesn’t keep you in debt for the next 10 years. So, let’s start with the dress and where you could possibly get it for less than, say, $500.

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