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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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Wedding Investments December 30, 2010

As a former photographer myself, I like the way so many photographers talk about what your investment in their services are going to be, rather than the cost.  Photographs are an investment.  They are physical preservations of your wedding memories.  You’re going to be spending a lot of money on your wedding, and all of it is just going to be hazy memories in a few years without photographs.

This is partially why I’ve been so picky about choosing a photographer.  Yes, I am on a budget, but I still want something nice (despite the belief some people have that unless you are forking over 30 grand or more for your wedding, you don’t deserve good pictures).  This is an investment.  The rest of my wedding is going to end up in either the recycling, the compost, sold/donated or in storage, and I’ll never see the most of it again.  But I’m going to look at my photos frequently, I’ll probably have some on display.  I want them to be good.

Photos don’t have to be the only part of your wedding that is an investment, though.  Probably the number one thing you can do to have a green and cheap wedding is to make as many aspects of your wedding permanent or reusable.  In other words, more aspects of your wedding should be long term investments than not.

How can this be done?  Well, for example, since I am holding my wedding in my back yard, a good deal of my decorating budget is going to be spent on fixing up my back yard.  I will be investing in some grass seed, to reseed my yard and make sure it is extra lush, organic fertilizing service for my lawn, and lots and lots of flowers for the borders of my yard, to make not only the yard pretty, but to provide the flowers for arrangements on my table, and maybe even a good portion of the bouquets.  All of these things are investments in my mother and mine’s property (even though after the wedding I will be moving into Jeremy’s house and this yard will no longer be mine, I will still be spending lots of time here, I’m sure).  We will be able to enjoy this money spent for many years to come.  Furthermore, all the extra flowers will provide more food for our bees and hopefully boost our honey production.

We will also be decorating with LED Christmas lights, which we will of course reuse for holiday decorating in the future.  I plan to use mason jars for vases, which I will then be able to use for canning for years to come.  I have done what I can to make sure that my bridesmaids will pick out dresses they will wear again, and I will be reusing as much of my wedding attire as possible.

Many women choose dresses that they will wear again, which I think is awesome.  I however, chose a princess dress that would not be very practical anywhere but walking down the aisle, or perhaps costume events.  However, dresses can be donated (for a tax write off), or used to make new things in the future.  On Offbeat Bride, a bride told the forums how she intended to make prayer shawls for herself and her husband out of her wedding dress when she was done.  In my family, we have discussed making christening gowns for babies out of my mother’s wedding dress (which didn’t happen for Elijah, but hopefully it will for the next baby), and I suppose the same could be done with mine.  Or, as another woman on Offbeat Bride said, there’s always the option of being zombie bride and groom for Halloween next year.

Parting with money for a wedding isn’t quite as painful if you feel like you’re making a long term investment, and not just blowing money for one day of frivolities.  Even if you could care less about the environment, it’s worth considering making more of your wedding purchases into long term investments.  Unless, of course, you really hate money, and are looking for whatever way you can find to part with it (in which case, you can make checks out to Jessica Stone, and my address is …. ).