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.

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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Now that you’re engaged, what’s next?

There is a huge, billion-dollar industry that banks on the fact that women have been dreaming of their BIG DAY since they were little girls. But I think that’s not necessarily the case anymore. More and more women are focusing on their careers much more so than on their dream weddings, so when one of those women finds themselves with an engagement ring on their finger, the next thought is, “now what?” I understand. I was one of those women. So if a princess bride wedding isn’t your cup of tea, well, I can help you.

(Stock image by lisafanucchi)

(Stock image by lisafanucchi)

I have a friend, a very good friend, who I have known since we were in college and who one of the few people present at my impromptu wedding by the sea. She is one of the ladies I know who got engaged over the holidays. Now, while she has been very career focused, she has also been very clear in her desire to get married and have children one day. Notice that that doesn’t include a focus on the wedding day.

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Rock the vote: October leads as favorite wedding month

October Clawson Wedding by Flickr's chrisgscott
Spectacular photo with some tasteful Photoshop effects of the October Clawson wedding by Flickr’s chrisgscott

I checked in today, as I lounge in my Ft. Lauderdale hotel room in preparation for attending a friend’s wedding tomorrow, to see that, as of this writing, October has taken the lead with seven votes for best month to get married.

I’m apparently not the only person who’s noticed this trend. I also don’t think its a new trend. This article believes that October is an ideal month because of the fairer, cooler (in most places) weather and the bounty of colorful flowers available in the fall. That makes sense, except for in California — October, in recent years, has been a reliably fire-prone month in the Golden State, thanks to the Santa Ana winds. That doesn’t mean that there has been a dearth of October weddings, though — I think I’ve attended at least one October wedding the last three years in a row. That’s especially noteworthy since I usually only attend two weddings a year.

Anyway, as I searched for the possible reasons why October is such an ideal wedding month, I stumbled on these interesting wedding statistics.

ENGAGEMENT STATISTICS

  • The average American engagement is 16 months.
  • During the engagement period, couples buy:
    • $4 billion in furniture
    • $3 billion in house wares
    • $400 million in tableware
  • June is the most popular month for weddings, then August, followed by September October and May
  • Every year an average of 2.4 million weddings are performed in the U.S.
  • The Wedding Industry is a 50 billion dollar a year industry
  • Average age for first-time brides is 25 years, for grooms it’s 27.5
  • 175 guests are invited to an average wedding
  • One third of engaged couples retain a Wedding Consultant
  • An average honeymoon vacation is one week
  • The average household income of a newly married couple is $60,000/year
  • Couples are waiting longer to get married
  • Tuxedoes are typically purchased 5-6 months after the wedding gown
  • Median age for remarriage is 34 for women and 37 for men
  • Bridesmaids’ gowns are general purchased 3-4 months in advance of the event
  • Average size of wedding party: 12
  • Most brides (30%) plan their weddings for 7 to 12 months
  • Most (about 75%) first-time brides will receive a diamond engagement ring (67% of repeat brides).
  • About 15% of weddings include ethnic customs
  • 35% of weddings occur in the summer; 29% in the spring; 23% in the fall; 13% in the winter.
  • 11% of winter weddings are Christmas weddings

COST STATISTICS

  • $22,000 is the average amount spent on a traditional American wedding
  • A total of $72 billion is spent on weddings annually in the U.S.
  • $19 billion is spent buying presents at wedding gift registries
  • The average amount spent on a bridal gown is $800
  • David’s Bridal accounts for 20% of all bridal-gown sales, and that percentage is increasing
  • The average ring costs $2,000

TOP WEDDING DESTINATIONS:

  • Las Vegas (100,000 weddings/year)
  • Hawaii (25,000 wedding/year)
  • Bahamas (5,000 weddings/year)
  • Jamaica (5,000 weddings/year)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands (4,000 weddings/year)

OTHER WEDDING STATISTICS

  • 80% of traditional weddings are performed in churches or synagogue.
  • Four out of five brides are employed.
  • There is a 43% chance of a marriage ending in divorce.
  • 35% of Brides and Grooms have a valid passport.
  • Percentage of couples living together before marriage: 64%
  • Percentage of engaged couples who’ve known each other longer than 3 years: 69%
  • 166,000: Wedding ceremonies performed annually in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Percentage of brides who say they’ll be changing their surnames: 60%
  • 93,750: Approximate cost, in dollars, of an average Japanese wedding
  • 150,000: Wedding ceremonies conducted in Canada in 2002
  • 53% of weddings occur in the afternoon; 31% in the evening; 16% in the morning.
  • 30% of receptions are held in churches; 20% in hotels; 20% in country clubs; and 10% each in fraternal halls, private homes, and other locations.
  • 38% of weddings have a buffet; 34% have a sit-down dinner; 28% serve only cake and punch.
  • 62% of weddings have a flower girl.
  • 56% have a ring bearer.
  • Brides 18 to 39 receive 85% of all wedding cards.
  • More than 4.2 million unmarried couples live together.
  • 67% of women continue to wear the same fragrance they wore on their wedding day.

MARRIAGES BY MONTH

  • January 4.7%
  • February 7.0%
  • March 6.1%
  • April 7.4%
  • May 9.8%
  • June 10.8%
  • July 9.7%
  • August 10.2%
  • September 9.6%
  • October 9.4%
  • November 7.4%
  • December 7.8%

WEDDING COSTS BY CATEGORY*

  • Reception 28.3%
  • Consultant 15.0% (if hired)
  • Wedding Rings 11.5%
  • Photography/Video 6.6%
  • Bridal Gown 6.1%
  • Music 5.2%
  • Flowers 4.6%
  • Bridal attendants’ apparel 4.5%
  • Rehearsal dinner 4.2%
  • Men’s formal wear 3.2%
  • Invitations 2.8%
  • Attendants’ gifts 2.1%
  • Mother of the bride apparel 1.7%
  • Bride’s veil 1.6%
  • Clergy and ceremony fees 1.2%
  • Limousine 0.9%
  • Groom’s attire 0.8%

I don’t know exactly how old these statistics are, but they are interesting nonetheless.

Unique candle decorations for your guest tables

In my time decorating weddings, candles on guest tables are mostly sitting inside a glass votive and sometimes go unlit. What a waste! I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to spend money on it, make it stand out. So I bring you some ideas on how to put candles on your guests’ tables, thanks to Flickr.

Photo by Flickr’s macro girl

Candlelight, if you think about it, already makes itself stand out. So if you do a little to it, it stands out a lot. The caption on this photo even tells you how — use a shot glass instead of a glass votive, put some colorful (in this case, purple) rocks in the glass and sit the candle on top. Voila! Custom candlelight.

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Tips for planning a wedding or party

Coordinating any event — a wedding, a child’s party, a fundraiser, even a work gathering — can be stressful. It always amazes me how some moms who manage to throw a birthday party every year for their (usually only) child. I had first birthday parties for both my boys, and I don’t anticipate having another big birthday party for either of them until 5 years old — it’s that much work.

IMG_3225Each type of event carries its own individual challenges, but it occurred to me that most of the details of just about any event can be organized in a system I’m about to share with you. My system is not perfect, of course, but it can serve as a good jumping point for your own system. One benefit to this method is that you will be able to assign a monetary amount for each category, so if you’re able to keep your details under each category to a minimum, it should be reflected in your budget.

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