Sunday, September 10, 2017
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Every bride (wedding planner) has a vendor checklist for their wedding day in Mexico; Bridal bouquet: Check. Photographer: Check. Timeline: Check. Catering: Check, and so on. The list can include up to 20 or 30 vendors. However, most brides do not know about the pre-checklist that will save them time and stress. The list before the list if I may. Unknowingly they skip this step and then lose time by backtracking in the planning. What is the point of looking for vendors if you do not have a location first? Couples should have a list of factors ironed out before the actual wedding list is even in play in order to help brides figure out what to look for, and what they need to know to make their search more efficient and save time and reduce stress. The most important factors to consider in a pre-checklist are budget, guest count, location, date and wedding concept.
As it happens with most things in life, the budget limits our freedom. There is no sense looking at 5,000 dollar purses if you have 500USD to spend; OK sorry, bad example, my wife does that; I'm in trouble. But seriously, unless you are one of those lucky enough to spend whatever you like, you are like the rest of us who have a budget to follow. This does not mean you cannot have a wonderful "dream" wedding. It just means your wedding requirements needs to be aligned with your budget. In our experience in Martoca or in venues in Vallarta area, we have created weddings with 20,000USD and 60,000 USD budgets; However, these couples who had the weddings with us were equally happy with their wedding choice. The budget does not guarantee you happiness or a successful event. Realistic expectations and your disposition, attitude and creativity do. So do not worry, your wedding will still be a smash hit regardless of the budget; You just need to plan for it properly.
So first on your list is agreeing on a budget. This will help you identify what is affordable. In a way it is liberating because it will free you from tough choices. For example the guest count must be reduced if the budget is lower. Therefore, you can eliminate the annoying cousin you have not seen in years, and not feel bad about it. Other examples of what the budget will determine for you is if you can afford a private wedding or must go with a hotel wedding; How far you can fly to a destination wedding or what location is or is not an option. Budget decides if you can afford a Saturday wedding or must do it on a Wednesday to save money. Every major checklist item is determined by what budget you have available.
Once you have a budget in mind the next important factor on the list is the guest count. Depending on the guest count, you will know if you need a villa or cheap hotel or an independent venue with private deluxe condos surrounding the venue. The guest count and the type of guests will narrow down the options and help you in your search. A destination wedding of a good quality level with many fun features will require about 550 dollars per guest. It sounds like a lot but remember, you are inviting fewer guests. This is why the guest count is tied closely to your budget restriction.
For example, you may have 130 guest count in your mind, but if you have only enough for 50 guests then you must either cut the guest count, or upgrade the budget or change location and the date, or lower quality of services. It is all tied together. Usually 60% of guests invited to a destination wedding attend the actual ceremony. So do not be too worried to begin with 100 guests because usually the real number will be closer to 60 guests. If you need a quick estimate guide for a destination wedding budget 550 USD per guest is about average. So whether you begin with your budget and then arrive to a guest count, or begin with a guaranteed guest count and then arrive at a budget, you need to have both in your list. Remember you can always add guests later. The guest count you need to budget is the absolute guaranteed count or, the ones you know are coming for sure and must be accounted for in your budget.
Checklist item number three: Location. Your guest count and budget will both play a part in your location selection. Once you have a budget and guest list, then you will know who you must accommodate with travel access. For instance, if your great-grandma is non-negotiable for your guest list and she has a hard time traveling, then of course for her sake you will not choose to be married in Thailand; You need a short direct flight. Location selection depends on a subset of factors like flight times, direct flight, accessibility, cost of travel, or even safety concerns for guests or length of stay for guests.
Once these factors are determined, you then must dive even deeper in detail when you determine the town or area in town you want. If most guests are young and adventurous you may do a more risky proposition. Something with night clubs or nature hiking. However, if your guests are older or more conservative in their entertainment, you may want more traditional or family oriented destination. Some guests need a hospital nearby or some do not like mud or 4 flights of stairs to go up to the villa. So location selection involves a macro and micro analysis. Have fun debating!
Once you have the first three factors under control, the next big factor is coming up with the wedding date. You must have a list of dates that are compatible with the following: Guest schedules and accommodations, vendor schedules, best weather patterns, hotel rates or flight rates among others. A good date selection will accommodate as many of these factors as possible as well as fit within budget. When you contact the venue or hotel have a few dates in mind. For example, a weekday date is less expensive than weekend and a low season date is less expensive than a high season date. So now we have tied the budget, guest count and location along with the date. The pre-checklist is almost complete. Bonus tip, plan a year out at least for venues in high demand areas if you must have a weekend.
The final yet very important decision that must be accounted for in your pre-checklist is a bit less technical: The overall concept for the wedding. When you consider all the other items on the list, their combination should lead to a decision on the type or style of wedding you are looking to create. International or national wedding. Beach or mountain. An outdoor wedding or indoor wedding. Hotel wedding or private garden or villa. Casual or elegant. Intimate custom wedding or large cookie cutter wedding. It all depends on your specific needs and of course budget. You will never make everyone happy. But in group travel you must think in general terms; You cannot please each and every person. You have to think about the majority of the group in all these decisions.
You now have a list of the main tools you need to begin an efficient search for a successful customized destination wedding. Other minor details will begin to emerge as you begin your search such as, if you want buffet or not, or live music or DJ. You will have to decide if you want a venue that just does everything for you, including the planning and design like ours, or if you want DIY and so on. However, you will solve them much easier now that you have the 5 basic core items in mind. These fundamental building blocks will lower the stress and confusion to a minimum so you can have a wonderful wedding within budget, no matter the location or what style you decide on.
Posted by James Basanez at 6:00 PM
Monday, June 26, 2017
Saturday, March 25, 2017
I have budgeted and quoted over 300 weddings in Mexico. People ask me many times how I budget the weddings. So I decided to share my knowledge about how money is allocated for your wedding vendors. By sharing my world famous formula known as the "70 on 7" rule, maybe I can help you plan your budget distribution. I do not count the dress or anything that is not reception and ceremony related. Also, I ignore hotel costs in this budget because independent private wedding venues do not force you into a "package" or rent rooms in any particular location, or force you to use certain vendors. That is the point of an "Indie" wedding; You have the perk of the freedom to stay anywhere you like and hire anyone you like and other perks. So, how to budget your wedding? Well I like to call it my 70 on 7 rule. 70% of your budget goes for the 7 crucial and classic services of most any respectable wedding and the 30% you have left can go to minor and optional services and items, such as menu cards or signs, extra floral arrangements, fireworks and so on.
70 on 7 rule states that you should spend 70% of your budget on the 7 core items of your wedding.
The 7 "must-haves" of a classy tropical Mexico wedding that is not held inside a resort are:
- Venue and planner: Planning your own wedding is possible but not a good idea. You can use in-house planners or some venues allow outside planners.
- Welcome hostess area: Receive guests and offer table escort and welcome drinks.
- Ceremony and Bridal party care and accesories: Includes floral arrangements for bridal party, make-up and hair.
- Cocktail lounge and tapas bar: Serve appetizers for guests while you take your pictures
- Dinner and table-scapes: Table decorations and dinnerware and furniture.
- DJ and dance floor: A must for fun factor.
- Catering and Bar: Includes all regarding food and bar
These 7 major items listed above in my opinion are key sections in your wedding, and should be where you concentrate most of your budget in your wedding. I call these the core items of any wedding. 70% of your budget should go into these services. The remaining 30% of your budget should be applied to the other important features that are optional, yet, rarely ignored in any successful wedding.
- Photo and video (In reality it is a must; if you want your wedding to live on forever in great photos)
- Entertainment (Live band, dancers, fireworks etc)
- Taco bar or late night coffee service
- Props and signs
- Extra flowers
- Extra Lighting
Well amigos, this is how I would approach budgeting your wedding, if I were you. Say you have 20,000USD to spend on the reception and ceremony, which is an average cost of a wedding in Mexico; 14,000USD should be allocated to the core wedding items, and 6,000USD should be assigned to other vendors you will need such as photo and video, entertainment and all extras. So just let your trusted wedding planner know your total budget for the wedding and sit back; Let them do the planning and budget distribution for you. If you want they can show you how much each section costs. But in the end, if they are under budget and provide what you want, does it matter what each vendor costs? Not really. Or, do it yourself and contact the vendors and you can have 100% control by using this advice.
Although, in my opinion the DIY trend is not wise in destination weddings. Becoming an international wedding planner overnight is not a good idea in my opinion. A typical destination wedding in Mexico requires about 20 to 25 vendors. So if you call or email each one and put your wedding together on your own; You will need about 20-25 hours at least just to ask them about their services. That is if they all return your calls or emails promptly and speak English fluently. You will have to research each one of them and verify they are who they say they are and trustworthy. If you have that kind of time and patience, then go for it.
However, we strongly recommend using an experienced wedding planner and let them do the planning. Make sure they have at least 25 reviews online and that they go back at least 3 years. Their reviews should not all be from the same time-frame. That may be a red flag. Why don't they have more than one year in reviews? Of course, it could be they just started in the business. But, it could also be they are all just fake reviews. Just be careful. Once you have a trustworthy planner, you must let go of control and put yourself in her or his hands. You have to trust they will provide you with a complete wedding within budget. That is their job. So you can relax and let them do the work for you. Your only concerns should be picking colors and flowers and furniture styles, etc.
Controlling the budget is pretty much in the planners hands once you hire them. This is hard to forfeit this control. I know. You want to control the purse for each little item so that you can go and look for a cheaper vendor or maybe shave off some costs in flowers so you can have an extra hour of Mariachi band. But, if you trusted them to care for your most important day in your life, why not trust them to distribute your budget properly? Just tell them your budget limit. Tell them what your dream wedding would be like. Explain what features and services you want. And let them arrange it all and make it fit. As long as they do not go over budget you are golden. If there is an item that you want and it causes you to go over budget, the planner should let you know before you pay for it. Not surprise you later. If you know up front then you decide if you want to pay extra for it or eliminate it so you stay under the budget limit.
So what if they charge for this knowledge and service? Believe me, they earn every cent. If they are any good, they will take your wedding personally. That is what you want. And that is what makes their job so hard and stressful because they are right there with you every step of the way. They feel what you feel. They are with you in that journey. Their job is actually to take the stress away from you as much as possible and take it in themselves. Selecting a wedding planner is the most important decision you will make in your destination wedding planning journey.
There is always the "I can do that" or "I throw great parties at home" person, those who want to save of planner fees. Why pay 1,500-3,500 dollars to a planner? DIY is popular online. Can you plan a wedding yourself? Of course. Should you? No. It is like looking for apartments to rent: You can spend 3 weekends driving up to look for apartments in a strange city, or pay someone to find them for you in one day you have 3 or 4 proper apartments lined up and close on them in one day. Unless you really enjoy those 3 or 4 hours drives up to the city and getting lost and spending on gas etc. and those awful apartment tours; You will be happy you found a pro to narrow the search to what you like and close on the deal in one day. You will save time and money and yes, pamper yourself with amazing service. If they are any good, they obviously vetted the people they work with because their own reputation is tied to their recommendations.
Well, I hope this helps you know how your money should be distributed in your wedding. Decide how much you want to spend on your wedding and start your search: Either for a destination wedding planner or the vendors themselves and venue. Now you know roughly how much goes to what services. If you want any more advice just email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by James Basanez at 4:23 PM