Smart Spending for Your Wedding


It’s easy to get excited about your dream wedding, but your fairytale wedding could turn into a less joyful situation if you go into debt.   Even before creating your budget, you and your partner need to decide which details are important for both of you.  It’s funny – no one will remember the little details, like the color/type flowers you might have opted for, but they will remember if they had a good time.  Don’t skimp on food and entertainment as these elements have a huge impact on your guests’ enjoyment.

However, food doesn’t have to be expensive.   You could choose to have a cocktail wedding or perhaps hire a food truck.  A few weeks back we published a list of venues that allow you to bring your own outside catering companies – many independent catering companies would love to be of service and can provide a competitively priced menu.  Secondly, trim your guest list.  That’s one of the biggest ways to save money.  Ask yourself, “Would you take this person out to an expensive dinner at any other time?”  If the answer is “No”, scratch them from the list.   How well do you know that person?  If you hardly remember their name or recognize them, scratch them from the list.

One thing I don’t recommend is to try to tackle everything yourself – like preparing your own food or baking your own cake!  Hire a professional!  They know how to do the job and you really don’t need that stress.  Hire a florist but choose in-season blooms.  Do hire a professional photographer.  Don’t depend on family or friends for your photos.  So many brides have cried the blues when their photos didn’t turn out to be what they expected.  Photos are the only thing you will have after the day is over.

Our new Wedding Planning for the St. Louis/St. Charles and Southern Illinois Bride is now available!  Request your FREE copy today by sending your request to

7 Things to Consider When Choosing A Wedding Venue

Outdoor Wedding, Kuhns Farm, Wedding, Tented Wedding

Choosing your wedding venue is a big decision as it impacts your entire wedding – number of guests, theme, menu, and more. Review these factors before signing that contact:


You need to consider your guests and how they will arrive.  If most of your guests are coming from out of town, transportation needs to be readily available.  Your venue also needs to be somewhat close to a choice of hotels.  And most importantly, that venue should be easy to travel to the hotel from the reception without having to leave bread crumbs.   A good option here is to consider a venue that also has cottages and rooms available.  Hotels and destination locations like Pere Marquette, Hermann Hill, and Cedar Creek Center etc. are all good choices.

If you are choosing a location where the wedding is held outdoors is there an “indoor” Plan B option in case of bad weather?  What does it cost to move to this alternative Plan B.


Weddings where everyone is crammed into too small a room is the last thing you want.  Be sure to create a tentative guest list to estimate how many people you anticipate.  Most times you can expect about 80% of those invited to attend.

Wedding Location, Wildwood Hotel, BrideStLouis info on Venues


Choose a venue that matches the look and feel that you desire – classic ballroom elegance, rustic and outdoorsy, or something you can add your own personal touch.  A naturally beautiful place will save you money on decorations.   I also recommend to find a place that provides a multitude of photo locations.  Sometimes it can be in the general vicinity – like downtown, and other times it can be on the property of the venue itself like at Lake Creek Winery, Crown Valley Winery or other wineries.


This is an extremely important issue.  Do they have experienced professionals on staff to assist with all the details and make sure everything runs as you expected?   If they have an event coordinator, that person will assist with all details of the venue.  (Note:  this is not your “wedding” coordinator – that person is responsible for ALL the details of your wedding, not just the venue.)

BrideStLouis wedding venue information, Union Station as a venue


Does this venue offer food in-house or can you hire your own catering company?  Do you want the flexibility of bringing in a food truck or choosing your own catering company?  Does this venue only allow you to choose from a selection of Preferred Catering Companies?   If, in-house, do you have a wide choice of food options that will appeal to all your guests – and does it taste good!   And finally, take a look at the price/per person.  Be sure that you include gratitude and tax, which is normally added to the per person expense and that can be as high as 30-35% more. 

Bar Service

Is a basic bar service included?  What does it include?  Is it a generic brand of alcohol or house wine?  Can you upgrade to a premium service and what does it cost?


Watch the extra costs.  Do you need to pay for a dance floor or a cake cutting charge?  Do they provide water service at the tables.   (Many places no longer include this.)   Ask what is included and not.  Ask about rehearsal times and if they are included in the quoted price.   Find out if they provide extras in the price.  Holiday Inn at Six Flags provides a free bride’s room and overnight accommodations, plus much more. 

Very soon will be announcing our new sister site, which will have information on all 425+ venues in the St. Louis, St. Charles, and So. Illinois area.  It will be searchable by location, price, and style.  Stayed tuned.  We believe in helping you with everything you need to know to plan and execute a beautiful wedding

Venues that Allow Outside Catering

A lot of brides have asked us if we could provide a list of venues that allow outside caterers.  We found these choices – from community spaces to elegant historic homes. Some of these venues have “preferred” catering companies while others allow you the freedom to choose your own.   If you book one of these venues, be sure to tell the venue that you found them through

Be aware that some venues do charge extra fees for non-preferred catering.  Some are reasonable and some are extremely high.  All will require proof of insurance and other such documents that a good business caterer should have no problem producing.

If you know of other venues that allow Outside Catering, please write us at and let us know so that we can share with others.


Why Weddings Can Be So Expensive & How Can I Spend Less

How to Save Money on Your Wedding

By now you have probably heard that the “average” wedding cost is $25,764, with couples spending between $19,323 and $32,205!  Yes – that a staggering amount.  So, two questions I am often asked is “Why are they so expensive?”  and “What can I do to reduce the amount that I spend?”

As you start the planning process, you will begin to get pricing from venues, florists, photographers, etc. and as you start adding up these expenses, it hits you.  Wow! 

So, let’s discuss the “Why”.  To create your awesome wedding, you need to hire wedding professionals because they can make it truly the beautiful experience that you desire.  They charge what they do, as this is the way they pay their bills and feed their family.  (Many people consider their job “fun” and not work, but that’s not so).  Most importantly when you hire a wedding professional, it’s their time, knowledge, experience and expertise that you are paying for.  And then you need stuff – food, alcohol, flowers, linens, space rentals, cake, dress apparel, gifts, music.  All of that “stuff” makes it what it is.  And finally, it’s not a wedding without guests.  The more guests, the more money you’ll have to spend.

It’s so easy to over spend in the excitement of planning your “fairytale wedding”.   But spend too much and you could turn your “happily ever after” into years of debt  – and money issues is what most newlywed couples fight over!

How to Save Money When Planning Your Wedding

Question No. 2 – What can I do to reduce the amount that I spend?  There are lots of ways to do this but the biggest way is to control the guest list – keep your guest count small!  Less food, less drinks, less tables – it makes a huge difference.  Your first step in planning your wedding is to create a budget and know where the money is coming from.  Then decide on what’s important to both of you.  Focus on your priorities and think creatively.  Do you need that expensive banquet hall, perhaps have a brunch wedding, or how about a food truck with some fun food items.  I always tell brides to forego the favors.  Really – they’re not necessary.   Small stuff here and there can add up to big dollars.  Spend your money where it has the most meaning to you.  And most importantly, don’t scrimp on good photography.  It’s the only thing you will have after the wedding.  Those photos represent memories that you will share and enjoy forever.

And finally – think big picture.  What are your goals after your wedding – house, travel, furniture, kids?  When you are tempted to go over your budget, re-evaluate how important that item is in the big picture.  Sometimes that “Horse & Buggy Carriage Ride” doesn’t seem that important.  

Have a SWEET Wedding!

Desserts are a big part of the wedding day experience for your guests.  However, you don’t have to stick just with the traditional cake.  Here are some ideas to add a more personal touch.  Yes, you can have your cake, plus these sweet things too!

Milk And Cookies at a Wedding -


Milk & Cookies

Nothing beats a stack of fresh baked cookies and a glass of milk. Cookies will satisfy each guests’ sweet tooth, while the glass of milk gives them a refreshing boost for the night’s festivities.  This is a great item to serve later in the reception before guests start departing.



Ice Cream Sundaes

Having a summer wedding?  Reception spaces can get hot as the night goes on and the dancing starts. Cool down with a refreshing ice cream sundae. Create a sundae bar for guests to make their own and choose their toppings.   Also be sure to check out Dipping Dots as well, as they can provide everything for you without the hassle!  Talk to Ben or contact him at

Donuts for Your Sweet Wedding by




I never knew anyone who doesn’t like doughnuts!  Choose doughnuts decorated with your wedding color palette to make an adorably delicious snack for late at night.





Pastries & Dessert Bars

Dessert pastries are the perfect compromise between carbs and sugar. From cannolis to croissants, channel that corner bakery with a delectable selection for your guests.  Add some macarons or fresh baked pies for lots of choices.  Nothing Bundt Cakes makes these absolutely delicious little “buntinis” (bit size bundt cake) that could be perfect as well!  Check out Nothing Bundt Cake in Chesterfield at 159 Lamp and Lantern Village.

So, let there be sweet treats for all!


Top 2 Reasons to Hire a Professional Photographer – It’s a decision you won’t regret!

Wedding Photography

The most precious day of your life is surely your wedding. You want to ensure that every moment of your special day is captured in a unique and beautiful manner.   I have heard from many couples after the fact about their poor decision in hiring a friend or family member to do the job.   Their failures and inexperience lead to your heart ache and disappointment, and unfortunately you will never be able to capture that moment of time again.  You have spent thousands of dollars to have a one-of-a-kind unforgettable wedding and when it’s over you have only your memories and your photos.  Don’t you want the assurance that those photos will tell your story – your every special moment – as splendidly as the day was.

So – here are two compelling reasons NOT to hire that family member or friend:

Commitment – Professional photographers won’t flake out on you like a friend or relative, because they are obligated by contract to be there. They have backup systems, cards and batteries.  They know that equipment can fail, but that won’t stop them.  They are ready for that.  They are dedicated to doing a great job for you because they depend on your referrals to pay their bills.  Full time professionals are committed to doing the best job possible.  Would you hire an amateur to pull a tooth?

Experience – Professionals have spent thousands of hours photographing weddings.  They know how to get the best shots even in tricky lighting.   Professional photographers in other genre can struggle with weddings – weddings are a beast!  It’s a fast pace day, you have to know how to handle tricky situations like Aunt Betty and her I-pad up in the air, and then top in all with amateurs not knowing anything about posing. Professional experience is invaluable.  Your friend or relative doesn’t have that “experience” to predict or anticipate a special moment, and they don’t have the dedicated concentration to stay alert for special moments – like a mother’s admiring glance at her daughter getting married. 

RESULTS! – That’s what matter.   I love when couples look at their photos from a professional and many times they are surprised at the many funny and moving moments the photographer captured that they never witnessed.  An amateur isn’t going to capture them, and you’ll never know what you’ve missed.

Your wedding day only happens once!  Keep those precious memories and moments alive by NOT compromising on photography.  Cut the size of the cake, or the guest list – but keep the professional photographer – because you can savor those images for a lifetime.