Quality vs. Price – Why Hiring a Budget Wedding Planner Could Backfire

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Everyone loves a bargain! And when are you more likely to look for a bargain than when you are planning on making a big purchase?  Whether it’s a car, an entertainment system or a camera, chances are that you want to do a bit of research to determine what the best model is for the best price.

This practice should be no different when you are looking for a wedding planner.

The average cost of a wedding in Canada is $25,000.  That’s a LOT of money to invest and chances are you will have to trim up on a few wedding expenses to stay within budget.  However, I am here to explain why hiring a budget wedding planner could end up costing a lot more than if you had hired a professional in the first place.

If you’re getting married (congratulations!) and are starting to research all-things-wedding, then no doubt you have already checked out websites like Kijiji looking for décor, vendors and services.  While sites like Kijiji are great for finding bargains, they’re also a free bulletin board for self-described “professionals” to get your business.

Aside from the usual red flags (no company website, a hotmail address, no business materials), you should also be looking at their pricing as an indicator as to whether or not these so-called professional planners are actually qualified to be entrusted with your special day.

For example, I am always told about “wedding planners” who charge $400-$500 (or less…yikes!)  for Wedding Day Coordination.  While this may sound like an absolute steal, let’s do the math:

For us WPIC certified planners, what’s known as a “Day Of Coordination” actually doesn’t just include your wedding day.  We are doing a bunch of work behind the scenes in preparation of your wedding day.  We are contacting all of your vendors to confirm everything they contractually agreed to provide you with; and if we are not familiar with the vendor that you have booked, we may contact a reliable vendor that we know of and ask them to be on stand-by in the event that your chosen vendor fails to show up.  We are also creating your wedding day timeline and itinerary for you and coordinating your rehearsal.  In total (including being there on your wedding day), we are putting in 40 hours or more for your “Day Of” coordination.

If we only charged $400 for this service that means that we are only making $10/hr, which is slightly above Alberta’s minimum wage.  At this point, you should be asking yourself: “How is this business making money?” And that’s a great question!!

The main goal of all businesses is to make money.  So if you are hiring a wedding planner who is willing to work for minimum wage, what level of service will you be getting?  And if their business is not making money, will they even be in business by the time your wedding rolls around? 

The bottom line is: You Get What You Pay For.  Anyone can claim to be a wedding planner and take out an ad on Kijiji or start a page on Facebook.  However, it is education, past experience, professionalism and industry connections that set professional planners apart from the “weekend warriors” who are just out to make a quick buck.

Would you hire a wedding dress maker who has no formal training or experience other than “I watch a lot of Project Runway”?

When it comes to your wedding day, who would you rather have in your corner?

Professional Wedding Planner Coordinator

Media Article – Wedding Gift Giving

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Edmonton Journal - Edmonton Event Planners

Gift-Giving Can Be Tricky, says Edmonton Wedding Planner

By Chris Zdeb, The Edmonton Journal

The average Canadian bride and groom live together before marriage so they usually have all the kitchen gadgets and other housewares they need. What many really want for a wedding gift is money, but it’s uncouth to say so on the invitation.

There are ways to tell if that’s what they want, but if it is, how much should you give? And if you do decide to give a gift, how much should you spend? Do you have to buy a gift if you’re already missing work and forking over big bucks to attend a destination wedding?

With the I-Do season in full swing, we asked Edmonton certified wedding planner Christina Frizzell of Sweet Bliss Weddings about some common gift etiquette quandaries.

How do you know a couple wants money?

If they’re not registered for gifts anywhere, you can assume they’re looking for money. If you want to be sure, ask one of their parents or anyone in the bridal party.

How much should money should I give?

“If your budget allows, and you’re a generous person by nature, or if you’re very close to the couple, I would say the absolute minimum would be to cover the cost of you attending their wedding, but it’s always good to put in a little extra so the couple actually comes out with something as opposed to coming out even at the end,” Frizzell says.

An afternoon wedding or brunch, for example, costs less than a wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner and dance. The style of wedding invitation and venue will also give you a clue as to how formal or expensive a wedding is.

Frizzell would spend $100 to $150 (closer to $200 if she was buying a gift with her husband) on a close friend or relative; $100 on a casual friend or relative; and $75 to $100 on a co-worker or distant relative.

“But again, you have to use your own personal discretion on does this meet my budget? Is this something I can afford?”

Do you have to give a gift?

Unless the invitation specifically says ‘No Gifts Please,’ yes you do.

What should you buy if you have no idea what to buy?

Let the couple’s gift registry be your guide. If only big ticket items are left, consider splitting the cost with another guest or another couple.

What if you have an idea for a gift that’s not on the registry?

If you’re close to the couple and have an idea that’s out-of-the-box that you think they’d like such as a cooking class if they love to cook or a gift certificate for horseback riding, if that’s a favourite activity, they would probably appreciate it. But run it past the couple’s parents or someone in the bridal party just to be on the safe side.

If you can’t attend the wedding do you still need to buy a gift?

If a close family member is getting married, yes. If it’s a friend or acquaintance, “I don’t think you’re obligated,” Frizzell says.

If you’re already missing work and paying to attend a destination wedding, do you have to buy a gift too?

Unless the invitation says no gifts, you should buy one. But present it to the couple either before the wedding or after they return, because some gifts — an expensive bottle of port or wine — may not get through customs, or they may have to prove they didn’t buy that jewelry where they got married.

What about making a donation to a charity in the couple’s name instead of buying a gift?

It’s been done, but it’s not a big trend, as of yet.

If you’re already spending quite a bit of money for a bridal shower gift do you have to spend a lot on a wedding gift?

The shower gift and wedding gift are two separate things. The bridal shower gift is a gift for the bride, or a household item. The wedding gift is for the couple. The cost of one should not influence the cost of the other.

If someone didn’t give you a wedding gift are you obligated to buy them one?

According to wedding etiquette, a guest has up to one year to give you a wedding gift, so don’t jump the gun. “Take the high road,” Frizzell advises, and buy them a gift even if they didn’t buy you one.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kaiser, The Edmonton Journal

Check out the online article here.

**Update** This article also ran in The Montreal Gazette and in the Vancouver Sun on June 29th and 30th, 2011.

Official Launch of Our Website

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I am very excited to announce the official launch of the Sweet Bliss Weddings website!

Edmonton Wedding Planners

We have already had such a wonderful response from people and vendors all over Edmonton and Canada, and I am truly touched by the wonderful comments and referals we have received so far.

Please visit our new website, www.sweetblissweddings.ca and also don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, and to follow us on Twitter. You can also subscribe to this blog feed by clicking here.

Edmonton Weddings

Here’s looking forward to the start of a wonderful and exciting 2011 Wedding Season!

** Special thanks to my wonderful & amazing husband, Adam, for building this website for me. I promised that I would give him a “shout out”, and I always fulfill my promises! :) **

How I Became a Wedding Planner

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I thought it may be neat to share the story of how I became a Wedding Planner.

It all started with my own wedding, which I immediately started planning as soon as my husband popped the question!

I always had a LOVE for weddings! When I was little, I would take the tablecloth off of our coffee table and grab the fake flowers out of one of my mom’s vases and play “Bride” all day long! Then as I got older, I used to buy Bridal magazines and cut out ideas and pictures that I loved and stuck them all in a scrapbook. So I had a few volumes of “wedding ideas” already at my fingertips when it actually came around to planning my own special day! :)

For the most part, I knew what I wanted and who I wanted when it came to my wedding. I already knew that I wanted cupcakes instead of a wedding cake. I knew who my DJ and hair and make-up stylist was going to be. I knew what theme I wanted to incorporate and which vendors in my area could help me realize that vision.  I think I had about 70% of my whole wedding planned (in my head) about 24 hours after I said “yes”.

But, this is certainly not an example of a “typical” wedding planning process!! Now that I think about it, it was as if I had been planning for my future wedding (and career!) years ago without even realizing it! So when I walked through the doors of my first WPIC certification course, a feeling came over me – I was where I was meant to be. It was such a wonderful epiphany and I embraced it without question!

I know, I know…kinda cheesy, right? But it’s all true! I swear!

It’s only fitting that I should leave this blog post with a couple of photos from my own wedding. So here you go:

Tiffany Blue Wedding

Tiffany Blue Wedding - Edmonton Wedding Coordinator

Tiffany Blue Wedding Cupcakes

Photos by Sarah Mavro Photography

Welcome!

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Hello there! Welcome to Sweet Bliss Weddings. This is my blog, where you will find wedding and event planning and ideas and inspiration, as well as new and upcoming trends for products and weddings.

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Christina Frizzell and I am a professional Wedding Planner, having been certified by the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (WPIC) and the Gay Wedding Institute (GWI).

I offer a variety of wedding planning services from full wedding planner, to partial and wedding day coordination. And for those who are planning their wedding themselves, I also offer hourly consultations if you hit a road block or just need some professional advice on how to proceed.

Wedding Planners are wedding experts. Wedding Planners are etiquette experts. But most of all, we are your most valuable resource when it comes to planning your special day!

Please sit back, relax and enjoy the blog. Comments and topic suggestions are always welcome!

Love and laughter,

Christina Frizzell, B.A., WPIC, GWIC