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Hiring vendors outside the box February 2, 2011

I want to hire a day of wedding coordinator really bad.  It would be so wonderful to have someone to take care of any last minute set up so that my mom and other family members aren’t stressing out getting everything ready before the ceremony and between the ceremony and reception.  But honestly, there’s no way to squeeze a professional day of coordinator into my budget.  It’s just not going to happen.  So I’m faced with either accepting that the hours leading up to my wedding are going to be incredibly high stress for me and all my loved ones, or thinking outside the box to get the extra help I so sorely need.

I’m not hiring a professional.

Instead, I have contacted the Hospitality, Tourism and Events department at my school to ask if there are any students who might be interested in being my day of coordinator in exchange for a meal, a small payment, and an awesome reference.  I am also hanging up flyers around my school that say

JOB OPPORTUNITY

Day Of Wedding Coordinator for August 2011 wedding

You:  A student on the Auraria Campus with interest/knowledge of event planning.  Possibly a Hospitality, Tourism and Events student, looking to get experience in event planning for your resume.

Me: A Metro student planning a wedding on a budget, hoping to find some budding talent amongst her fellow students and help that person grow in skill and experience.  I can’t afford to pay a lot, but I can pay some.  In addition to payment, I will be happy to provide you with

  • A Glowing Reference – I will write letters of recommendation, serve as a professional reference, and you can certainly list my wedding on your resume and job applications as previous work.
  • Food and drink for the day – You will be welcome to enjoy the same meal and drinks as the wedding guests, which will include options for meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans and gluten free.  Lunch will also be provided before the reception.
  • A fun working environment – Opportunity to mingle, network, flirt, whatever.  It’s a party!
  • Trade?  I’d totally be willing to negotiate trade instead of or in addition to payment.  I have a large garden I could probably give you fresh organic produce out of, or I could teach you a skill I know like knitting or cheese making, for example.  Let’s talk!

If you think you’re up for being a day of coordinator for a wedding, please feel free to contact me so we can discuss it further!

There are thousands of people at my school all looking to enhance their careers and make a little extra money.  Chances are pretty high that someone at my school could offer my the services I want and I could give them a little something in exchange.

You probably have a school near you with a hospitality department, but you never know where you might find someone able to be a day of coordinator.  Schools are good bets to look for people, because there are lots of people with really diverse interests and experiences gathered there, but you could put fliers up anywhere, the grocery store, bridal salons, you could even post an ad on Craigslist.  And it doesn’t have to stop with wedding coordinators either.

  • Culinary schools could provide you with an awesome caterer or baker.
  • Photography students could make kick ass photographer, or could man a DIY photobooth for you
  • Videographer students could do your videography
  • Beauty school students could do your hair and makeup
  • Art students could be hired to provide entertainment like charicture drawing
  • Theatre students could provide live entertainment like a comedy routine or a magic show
  • Music schools could be a place to find a low cost band or musician for your ceremony or reception
  • Dance students could provide entertainment with a dance performance during your wedding ceremony
  • Floral design schools could be a place to find a low cost florist

And who knows what else you could find if you probed for talent in and around your own community.  The point is to get creative.  I’m thinking about seeing what kind of talent I can bring in for entertainment, maybe a juggler?  A balloon artist?  Who knows what I could find.  And people remember the wedding with acts in it.  My only concern is overwhelming my guests with too much going on.

Of course, hiring students has it’s risks.  They may not be well versed in everything that needs to be done for your wedding project.  You don’t want to hire a student caterer who will forget about how to transport your food to your venue.  But there are risks to hiring professionals too, everyone screws up from time to time, and the thing about the wedding industry is that you don’t always have to worry too much if you screw up and piss off a client, because in theory, you will never have repeat customers anyhow (although I’m sure the divorce rate makes all the outstanding vendors a little happy inside, from time to time).

Another option is finding someone experienced in the general field, but who is looking to expand into the wedding market and needs some experience in that department.  I found a professional photographer skilled in portraits and weddings, but she was looking to move into boudoir photography.  She offered to do boudoir photography for me at an amazing rate so that she could get some experience in doing and build that portion of her portfolio.  I’ll be her first boudoir shoot, but at that price even if it’s not very good it’s still a deal, I could still go else where to get more done.  But judging by her other work, I think she’ll probably do a pretty good job. (No one spoil the secret for Jeremy about what he’s getting for his wedding gift, shhh!)

So you have to pick and choose where you’re willing to take risks and how much risk you’re willing to take.  I was not willing to take risks with wedding photography, and only medium risk with boudoir photography.  If I hire a juggler who gets lost and never shows up, I’m not going to be heartbroken that there was no juggling routine at my wedding.  But if he shows up and rocks the world of all my guests, I think it was worth the risk.

And wouldn’t it be cool to discover someone awesome before they are famous?  Wouldn’t it make you feel good to help a hard working, talented student grow in their education and improve their career success?  I don’t know about your community, but my community could use a few more people willing to take risks on each other, a few more leaps of faith in humanity, a few more investments in each other.  Since I want my wedding to be about communities coming together and valuing human relationships, I can’t think of anything more fitting.

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Venue Search November 4, 2010

Who knew finding a reception venue would be so hard?  I am going insane looking, and I don’t feel like I can plan anything else until I find a place.  So much of my planning depends on the space I’m planning it in.  Decorations, the kind of dress I’ll wear, really even food (although we do have our hearts set on one specific caterer, I’m coming to the realization that we may have to give that dream up if I can’t find a space that will accommodate our needs and let us bring in an outside caterer) all depends on where we’re doing our damn reception.

We are more limited by our budget than I thought we would be, honestly.  We have a strict budget of $1000 for the reception venue, and I would love to keep it lower than that.  What we’re looking for is a space that will fit up to 130 people seated, with room for at least a dance floor (but preferably other extra room so we can have games), and allows outside caterers (or at least has a long list of approved caterers to choose from).  I’m not being super picky and saying “no reception halls” or anything like that.  I’ll host a wedding in a VFW, I don’t care.  What I care about is that my guests have yummy food and a good time, which includes dancing, games and socializing.  Why is this so much to ask for?!?!

Why isn’t there a list somewhere of all the places in town that do weddings?  There are lists on The Knot, and I have a magazine called Bridal Sites and Services, and a few local wedding magazines, but the only people on these lists are the super expensive places.  I’m talking $3,500 site fee, plus you must use their caterer (which probably sucks) at $18 bucks a head for their cheapest (and suckiest) entre.  For $18 a head I could cater my own damn wedding bar-be-cue style with all organic and local fare!  And it would actually taste good.

I found an art gallery that is totally in budget, and I really like it (it’s LEED certified, so it’s totally green), except I don’t think I could fit 130 people seated AND a dance floor in there.  So, if we wanted to dance, we’d have to move tables.  They say they fit 140 people seated or 200 standing in their main gallery, and I would also have access to their patio and another smaller gallery.  I suppose I could put the dance floor in the other gallery along with the bar.  Hmmmm …. I guess that would give my older guests a place to get away from the music if they don’t like it.  Ideas, ideas.

I’m still looking at different sites though.  We’ll see what happens.  My mother thinks I’m being unrealistic about how many people are going to show up to my wedding.  To be honest, 130 is just the maximum of how many people I think will show up (the minimum being 100).  My invite list is closer to 170.  There are people in my family and my friends who I am 99% sure they won’t show, because they have never traveled to come to weddings I’ve attended in the past, but I’m still going to send them an invitation, because I want them to feel like they’re a part of it, and because I would of course love to have them there if they can make it.  But I think I should be planning for the maximum amount of people I think will show up.  I think it’s better to have extra breathing room than to be too crowded in a small space.  I’m going to have guests in wheel chairs and walkers, after all.  Better to stay on the safe side and make sure there’s room for them to get around.  And what about the 1% chance my relatives in Connecticut and Florida want to come? It’s not a big chance, but it’s there.

My mother keeps saying only about a third of the people I invite will show up (meaning, ‘Jessy, I don’t think your friends are going to show’), and she might have a good point.  Only one of my friends showed up to my baby shower, and she only stayed for a little bit of it.  Only one friend showed up to my son’s first birthday, which I spent a fortune catering.  None of my friends came to my son’s baptism.  My birthdays are almost always forgotten entirely.  People have a tendency not to show up for my events.  But I’m inviting an entirely different group of friends to my wedding than I have invited to other events in the past (my past experience with special events has led me to seek out an entirely new group of friends), all of whom have expressed excitement about my upcoming wedding and a desire to go.  One is already planning a bridal shower.  Others are already planning the bachelorette party.  I think there is a good chance that most of them will show.

This didn’t stop me from having a disturbing dream the other night that no one came to my wedding except for Jeremy, my mom and my oldest little sister.  It wouldn’t have been so depressing, if there wasn’t a part of me that thinks that it might be a very real possibility.

This Sunday we are going to a bridal show, and I’m hoping I can get some ideas there.