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Vendor Spotlight | Inspired Events by Mari

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It’s been a while since I did a vendor spotlight, so I thought it was time for another on this #WeddingWednesday! I’ve been working some with my friend Mari from Inspired Events by Mari, so I asked her to write a post about planning your wedding and staying on budget. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us, Mari!

Congratulations!!! You're engaged!!! What an amazing moment! 

Did you know the average wedding costs $35,000? I know, unreal?! We all say to ourselves, "I'll never spend that!!!" or "that's outrageous." Truth is, it is very easy for a wedding to reach that amount. Here are some good ways to stay on budget.

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Determine your budget

What's your overall budget? How many guests are you inviting? Where are you getting married?

These are the first three things to determine when planning a wedding. Where you live and the number of guests will have an effect on your wedding's bottom line. If you live in a city and are inviting 200 guests, be prepared to pay heavily for that versus a country wedding with 50 guests. A reasonable budget is $15-$18k with between 100 to 200 guests for the Champaign-Urbana area. 

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Hire a wedding coordinator/planner

Don't leave wedding planning to a friend or a family member. Go the extra mile and hire a professional that eats, sleeps, and breathes wedding planning. A wedding planner will help you stay on budget, serve as payment reminder to you and your vendors, and be an advocate for you in your vision of the big day. Let them micro-manage the day, while you enjoy with family and friends.

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Have a realistic planning timeline

This is very important. Planning a wedding not only takes time but also takes $$$. There are deposits, installments, and final payments due within the month of your wedding. A wedding is an investment of time and money. I always recommend that if you can spare it, allow 6 to 9 months to plan your wedding. A year or more is even better.

Stay on budget

Do not exceed your budget. For any wedding, your top vendors will be a venue, caterer, cake, photographer, officiant, flowers, attire, and DJ. Everything beyond that is extra. Before you start planning, start building a wedding fund. Have the conversation with your parents to determine where they stand on contributing to the wedding. Never assume though.

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Do your research

Most vendors have websites outlining their costs and answering basic questions. I always encourage that clients take their time when researching. Have a question? Email your wedding planner to get the answer. Most vendors enjoy working with others in their area, and may run a special if you book them and another vendor they work with on a regular.

Where should I put most of my money?

Expect to spend at least 25% of your budget on food and drink. If you book a venue that has their own caterer, this is so much easier as rental fees are typically rolled into the overall cost for catering an event. Make sure you check that they carry linens and chair covers, otherwise that’ll be an extra expense. The best way to not go overboard on food and drink is to keep your wedding count small. If that’s not possible, then expect to pay more. 

Planning a wedding is about a union between a couple. As vendors in the industry, we strive to highlight all the details of you and your spouse's relationship. If you want to plan a wedding quickly, prepare yourself as best as possible financially. If you have time, take the time. There's no wrong way to plan a wedding. 

For wedding planning services and day-of coordination, please visit Inspired Events by Mari on the web!

Vendor Spotlight | Erika's Cakes & More | Champaign bakery

Erika from Erika's Cakes & More is my featured Spotlight Vendor this week. Erika does beautiful wedding cakes, but also makes fantastic cake pops, custom cookies, cheesecakes, and more (obviously!). ;) Erika has some cake tastings scheduled for this fall--October 16th and November 13th from 5:30-7:30. She requests that attendees RSVP by the Friday before (10/12 and 11/9) so that she can plan accordingly. Contact info is on her FB page. I did a little Q&A with Erika, and here's what she had to say!

1. How long has Erika's Cakes and More been serving the brides of Champaign-Urbana? I have had this business for about 6 1/2 years.

2. How did you get started making wedding cakes and cake pops? I have always baked, way back in high school that was the thing I liked to do. I did not start decorating until I had children. The first cake I decorated was my son's 1st birthday cake. I did my first wedding cake for a friend about 4 years later.

3. What is your favorite flavor of cake and/or frosting? It changes, depending on my mood. Sometimes I'm feeling chocolate--okay, most times I can go for chocolate! LOL but sometimes I want something fruity and refreshing so I go for lemon, usually with a berry filling. I am always working on new flavors so whatever is new is often my current favorite. (Holly note: My favorite is lemon! My fallback though is always chocolate.)

4. Do you have a favorite cake you've ever made? What are your favorite techniques to use (if applicable)? One of my all-time favorites is a 3D Mater truck (from Cars the movie) that I made for my friend's son. I don't know if I have a favorite wedding cake, they have all been fun in different ways. I like to work with fondant to create different textures.

5. Why should couples choose your cakes for their wedding? I try to make the process as simple as possible--cake should be fun! I also realize that it is my job to enhance the wedding guests' experience, to make the couple seem like great hosts of this beautiful event. I take a lot of care with my cakes and offer a very personal service. I am always overjoyed when my brides stay in touch with me (and a lot of them do). We establish a relationship so, to me it is much more than just making a wedding cake and moving on to the next client.

6. What current wedding trend do you enjoy the most? I am looking forward to brides incorporating color into their special day. I also love it when brides want to do something different, not the same thing that was seen at the last 10 weddings.

7. What is one fun fact about you (or your business) that brides might like to know? I sing to my cakes! LOL Seriously, I do listen to music and often sing along as I work since it's just me and there is no fear of embarrassing myself. The cake will never tell :-) (Holly note: Love this comment from Erika! Great confession!)

Thanks for sharing with us on the HBP blog today, Erika! Here are just a few photos of Erika's creations that I have photographed. From Sarah & Adam's wedding in August 2012:

Vendor Spotlight | Blossom Basket Florist

I've been lucky enough to photograph many floral masterpieces from Blossom Basket at various weddings I've worked. Brittany is great to work with, and has previously featured my images on their website and in client handouts. She was gracious enough to answer some questions about herself and the business to help my own clients and blog readers. Thanks, Brittany! 1. How long has Blossom Basket been serving the Champaign-Urbana area? Blossom Basket Florist has been serving the floral needs of the Champaign-Urbana since 1956. We have several full-time and part-time floral designers that comprise our wedding design team. I (Brittany) currently meet and consult with each bride (and her fiancé or mother or sister or who ever she brings to the consultation) and then work along side the rest of the team conveying the vision developed with the bride and working hands-on in the design process.

2. How many couples did you work with in 2011? How about 2012? In 2011, we designed custom wedding flowers for 136 central Illinois weddings. In 2012, we have already designed 18 weddings and have 66 already booked for the remainder of the year. We still have many weekends with availability and anticipate serving over 150 weddings in 2012.

3. What is your favorite type of flower or plant to work with? Oh, don't make me pick a favorite - that's like choosing a favorite child or pet. I just love them all! But my personal favorite flower is an orange spray rose called Mambo. In general I really enjoy using spray roses.They have the same shape and beauty of a rose but are smaller in size and come in a cluster and really enhance the texture of a bouquet. Orchids are another flower that can bring additional interest to a bouquet. Orchids are very versatile, fitting in with many different styles.

4. Do you have a favorite color combination or scheme? Holly, you're killing me. ; ) ...It really doesn't matter what my favorite is, it is my job to help each bride choose a beautiful combination in her favorite color palate. When brides ask me this question I tell them, "I already got to choose my favorite for my wedding, now it's your turn." I am generally a fan of a analogous color palates (shades of the same color or colors near it on the color wheel) and I chose shades of hot pink and orange with touches of burgundy, peach, and medium pink for my own wedding. I'm definitely a color lover, but have recently felt my heart pitter-patter over white and shades of white bouquets.

5. Why should couples choose Blossom Basket as their wedding florist? Our entire Blossom Basket team is dedicate to customer service. My goal is to understand and then create a bouquet that matches the style and vision of each bride. "From Simple to Simply Magnificent" has been a tag line we use and we truly mean it! Any budget, any style, and colors our team will work with each couple to figure out their preferences and priorities.

6. What current wedding trend do you enjoy the most? Vintage-inspired details are fun! They can add style or sentiment or sometimes both. From a simple token like Grandma's broach on the handle of a bride's bouquet to a collection of antique teapots and cups as containers for centerpieces reminders of the past can bring a hint of emotion or carry the whole theme for the wedding.

7. What is one fun fact about you (or Blossom Basket) that brides might like to know? The Blossom Basket Florist is a Christian-based business. Our core value and chief aim is to spread the love of Jesus through our service to our customers and the community. We feel blessed to be chosen to serve the floral needs of each couple that selects Blossom Basket to be their wedding florist.

Below are a few of my favorite bouquets from Blossom Basket that I've photographed.