This week I sat down with Fiona from Couture Wedding Planning who shares so much great advice for any couple about to plan their special day.

Here’s the video.  Hope you find it useful.

 

Transcript

Meggan Brummer
Hello,everybody, so lovely to be here tonight. Those of you who are watching the replay, please type replay hashtag replay in the chatbox below, let us know that you’re watching on replay. And also if you are an engaged couple, let us know that in the chatbox, let us know where in Sydney or where in Australia or where in the world you’re watching us from. I am here today with the gorgeous, gorgeous Fiona from couture wedding planning. And she is going to speak to us about some really, really awesome tips for all new couples out there who are planning your weddings. So she has been a wedding planner for many, many, many gorgeous couples out there and has helped them to be super organised and super excited about their wedding. I’m for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Meggan Brummer. I am a celebrant here in Sydney, Australia. And I also have 20 years as a professional writer. So I’ve been writing for I haven’t been writing for wellbeing magazine for the last few years, but I did start writing for them. Those of you who are from Australia will probably know this magazine many many years ago, but these days, all I’m writing is love story after love story after love story, and I absolutely love it. Fiona is going to be sharing with us tonight about how to make your wedding more cost-effective. She’s going to be sharing with us about fun ways to personalise your wedding. And she’s going to also be sharing about three documents that you should definitely create at the beginning of your planning. Fiona over to you darling.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
Hi, how are you guys? So this is my first time doing a ‘live’. So this is super fun. And yeah, so I think really, there’s kind of three important things that I wanted to start off and highlight. So my first thing is contracts. They are super, super important, particularly the one with your venue. So really make sure that you read through it. Go through all, you know, every single term and condition. If there’s something that you guys don’t understand, I would ask the question, what does that mean? Because a lot of the time they’re using like crazy lawyer jargon. And it just doesn’t make any sense. So you know, make sure you understand everything that you’re signing. The biggest thing at the moment is obviously COVID. So what is their COVID policy? You know, what do we do if we need to postpone? Are there postponement fees? Is there a timeframe? So a lot of venues at the moment, are saying if you need to postpone you can only postpone within a year from your wedding date. So that really takes you out if you want to go further out than that, and go into a different season or something like that. So definitely make sure you ask those questions. Make sure if there’s any postponement fees, make sure you know, can we move the deposit over is a transferable to the new date? That’s such an important question. Because a lot of them are non-refundable, which makes as soon as you postpone, it creates a cancellation, which means you forfeit the deposit. And also a really big thing is, can I keep my existing package? If I move up to a year’s time, let’s say, Can we keep the same price, because that is a huge thing that we’ve been dealing with over the last 18 months, that people are moving their weddings an entire year in advance. And that obviously means costs things like flowers, insurances for people, their own rents are going up. So they want to charge you more for your, you know, for your package. So it’s really important to ask those questions. The other thing is, guys,

Meggan Brummer
sorry, fee Sorry to interrupt you there. That’s so interesting, you know that most couples wouldn’t think of that. And to any of you couples watching now who have any questions around. that initial contract with your venue, please just type those questions into the chat box now because I’ll be able to see those and let Fiona know what those questions are. Sorry Fiona back over to you darling.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
Another thing as well guys, is you have your most, most leveraging power before you sign the contract. So if there’s anything you’re not happy with, or want to negotiate, this is the time to do it. As soon as you sign and put that deposit down, particularly with your venue, you’ve lost your power. So I would make sure that you do and, you know, squash every single question that you have before you do that. The other thing as well is make sure you check your minimum spends within your contract, you know, what, what do you need to pay, in order to have your wedding there, if you have 10 people, or 250,000, people, you know, make sure you understand what that figure is. And if you don’t reach it, let’s say the four-metre square rule is still in place, which, which means that your venue cannot have what you agreed to. So let’s say it was a 230 person, then you but it’s now 180 people maximum because of the force square metre rule. What do you do with that money? That is between the 180 and the 230? Can you use it towards cocktails? Can you add in, like grazing platters? Like, can you add a tab is there kind of all these upgrades that you can use just so that that money doesn’t become a venue hire, it becomes something usable, I think that’s for contracts are really big. The other thing as well guys is on the wedding day itself, make sure you spend some time together alone, you know, maybe go onto the dance floor before people walk in, and have a little dance or, you know, just chill out in the bridal suite for a little while on your own. Because it goes so, so fast. So it’s really important to just hang out.

Meggan Brummer
Such a good tip Fi. I’ve heard so many couples say oh, we hardly got to spend any time together. And the other thing that I hear regularly is a couple saying we never got any of the wedding cake.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
That’s a big thing. So at the end of the night, for each of my couples, I collect up all their special bits, their place cards, their menus, you know, everything out of the wishing, well. You know, maybe it’s their Nan’s vintage cake cutter that they’ve used, all those special things I put together. And I always add cake, because you never get to eat the cake if you’re the bride and groom. So you always add cake into the little like, we create this like little pack for them to take away with all their bits. So when they call you the next day, and then like see, where’s my place card, I wanted to keep my place card in like it’s in the box with a cake. So yeah, I think that’s a really big thing. And that’s a great advantage to have a planner that’s thinking about this sort of stuff. As you’re exiting the building, you know, you have, you know, because everybody else is kind of wanting to leave and not really thinking about this sort of stuff. So the other thing as well guys that I also wanted to highlight is hidden costs. So things like find out if you’ve, if you’ve bought a dress to the alterations are they included in the cost of the dress, or are they additional, you know, talk to your photographer, if you have an album in your package, it’s normally 20 sides, how much extra sides because normally on albums between 40 and 60 side. So make sure you understand what that extra cost is before you get into them into that contract with them. postage for invitations, I mean, these, you know, these like super duper crazy invitations, you know, they really cost a lot because they’re quite heavy, and they’re thicker as well. So they’re not considered like a letter, they go into the kind of parcel stage. And so make sure you understand what the costs will be for postage. And also things like supplier meals, if you’ve got 20 suppliers coming on the day, find out what that cost is because that’s going to add to your budget quite quickly. Yeah, so those are kind of some kind of top important things that I thought I’d go through. Yeah,

Meggan Brummer
I love it. I’m just going to interrupt you for a second there whilst you gather your thoughts for that next step. I love those tips. And again, anyone who’s just joined us, feel free to ask any questions to Fi, pop your questions in the chatbox below. For those of you who just joined us Fi is a wonderful wedding planner so she can answer any of the questions that you have around planning your wedding. And she is fantastic. So just wanted to share with you all that I’m just about to paste a link for you in the comment sections below. This is a link where you can download my free guide. I’ve put together this guide over quite a few years of experience with different venues in Sydney and it’s just a free guide to some really fantastic venues in Sydney. So if you haven’t yet made up your mind as to where you want to have your ceremony, download this guide, and have a good read through it. Back over to you Fi.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
Wow. And so baby, does that include both ceremony and reception?

Meggan Brummer
It does include both. It’s predominantly focused on the ceremony itself, but it does include some reception options close by to those ceremony points.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
That’s so helpful, because I think that’s a huge decision for people who don’t have a planner. So another way is what Another thing I wanted to check to, but tonight was how to be more cost-effective within your wedding. So I think some kind of very kind of high level points, that maybe you perhaps stay in the same location. So you know, maybe within your guide, my darling, there are both ceremony and reception places in one location. For example, like Gunners Barracks, Sergeants Mess, Dunbar House, you know, they all have a ceremony spot within their kind of reception location. And that’s a good way to save money, because you tend to have a shorter period of time. So therefore, you require less hours for your photographer, you might not need cars all day as well, you might just need maybe a one-way transfer to get you there in one way transfer out, as opposed to paying like, you know, four or five or six hours to have your cars. The other thing as well guys is don’t invite the whole world. There’s a very easy way to potentially not spend a lot of money on your wedding. So if you are maybe on a slightly tighter budget, I would really be very selective in your guest list. The other thing as well is make sure maybe your bridal party is a little small, don’t go with six bridesmaids and six Groomsman. Perhaps maybe have one or two or three, you know, because obviously, when you once you start having to buy bridesmaid dresses for all these people hair and makeup, for all these people, you know, it adds up. On top of that, you know, you’re going to need a lot more cars to transport people. So ultimately that kind of spirals out of control quite quickly.

Meggan Brummer
just on the bridesmaid conversation, how many couples are actually, you know, how, what is the trend? Are those couples these days paying for those bridesmaids dresses, the groomsmen suits? Are they splitting the costs? Are they expected or the bridesmaids expected to pay their way? Like what’s what’s going on? Really at the moment.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
I think back in the day when there was definitely like when I started 12 years ago, a lot of people would kind of share the cost of these things. You know, maybe you would buy the dress and they would buy the shoes, or they would buy the hair and makeup and you buy the dress. But these days, it’s like a full production. So it’s hair makeup dress, you know, the full shebang, accessories. Then there’s the, like bridal gifts that you give to them on the morning. So yes, at this stage, but again, I reckon if it’s your close mates, so it’s all about really having that conversation and just saying, Look, guys, I really I personally really liked this gown. If you feel like you might want to wear it again. Maybe we could go in 50:50 or, but yeah, but I am finding a trend that most people aren’t doing the investment. And also another big thing that I’ve also noticed is the boys are really getting involved. So back in the day, 12 years ago, we would just hire some suits from peppers in Cremorne and shibang. You know, the groom’s the groom, and the groomsmen were done. But now it’s like, again, a full production people are investing in suits for their groomsmen for themselves having something kind of tailor-made, if not made to measure. And yes, it’s completely different or what people are spending back in the day they used to spend the $260 to hire the suit. Now, you know, the groom is maybe spending anywhere from 3000 to 10,000. If he wants like a Tom Ford, and then a groomsmen again, anywhere from maybe a $500 suit from MJ bale to maybe a custom tailor-made suit, which could be like two or 3000. So the spends have changed dramatically. So it’s interesting. It adds up. Really quickly,

really quick. Yes, very quickly. Yeah. But then in general All people spending has increased Yeah. Like gowns have changed dramatically back in the day. You know, if somebody was spending between two and five, that was very normal. And then if you were spending 10, that’s like, Wow, really, a lot of the gowns and like starting at $10k at the moment, and people are spending, you know, upwards from that $20k, $30k they’re buying multiple designer dresses. So it’s Yeah, it’s a, it’s a whole new ballgame. Now.

Meggan Brummer
And some of them will be buying, you know, the gown for the wedding then one for straight after, then one for later on in the evening. So that can also escalate, you know, really,

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
especially if they’re any sort of Asian or Chinese background, they really like to show off their wealth by having different gowns for every different stage of the day. I mean, I had one bride, where we did two weddings in one day, we did our lunchtime wedding and Qiao at the Opera House, and then we did for like 60 people. And then we did a 300 Pax at a Chinese restaurant in the evening. And, and she wore nine different dresses over the course of the day. So it was crazy, but it was great. But the thing is, she spent most of her time in the, because she also changed hair and makeup changes. Come out, present a new outfit, maybe have like, some food, and then go back into the change room. That’s not for everyone. But that was her dream. I wouldn’t change that much because you lose, you know, you miss out on a lot of your reception if you do that. But yeah, so I think also, I think that also comes down to these kind of three main documents that I was going to talk about. Obviously, one of the major things, I think you really need to start even before you engage anyone is decide on what you want to spend, I think maybe you don’t know the exact amount, but really understand what your ceiling is. And I think you know, write some stuff down, put somewhat you think you want to spend on flowers, what you think you want to spend on your gown, and see what it adds up to because it adds up very quickly. And that would be a document that I would start for each of my clients at the beginning. After you engage me we do an initial budget, and then we can show people what they’re going to get for their money. And then obviously, it’s only an approximate amount. And then we would fill it in over time with the correct quotations. And then obviously, the deposits once we’ve locked in the date, and then near to the time, I also make a note on when final payments are due. And what the amounts are you know, so it’s all in one place. And we can all easily see where we’re up to paying all the different people. And then I love to colour coordinate ie, because that’s just very me. But I really would suggest if you don’t have a planner, this is a great way of really looking after what you’re spending, write it all down, put it in an Excel spreadsheet, and then write notes. Okay, on the 15th of April 2021, you need to pay blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then again, then you’re not having to go back into emails, like a year later, that were a year ago, and try and find out all this information, it can all just be in one central location. And then it makes all those payments much easier. And you really kind of control what you’re spending as well.

Meggan Brummer
can I interrupt you there? So what would you say most couples are spending these days?

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
I mean, ultimately, I mean, I think I was listening to some podcasts. And they said like the average is $26k. But I think people are spending way more than that in way more than that. So maybe it’s just my clientele. In order to afford me You need to be spending quite, you know, potentially over $100k to really be able to absorb my cost without hindering who you’re going to be using. So, but ultimately, I mean, I definitely feel to be able to get a great venue, great photographers, maybe even have a band, you know, I think definitely people should be spending $50k Plus, you know, but again, if that’s not what you have to spend then it’s all about finding the right venues that you That, you know, could work. Or maybe you’re changing it up the kind of, I don’t know, you’re not doing a traditional ballroom wedding. If that’s not you particularly, then don’t invest in something like that, you know, maybe do a great like picnic wedding or a high tea wedding or I don’t know, do what makes you happy. I think that’s the most important thing.

Meggan Brummer
I love the sound of that picnic wedding that you were telling me about the other day. That just sounded fantastic.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
It was it was extraordinary. It was such an amazing day. Like, it was just so warm. And then we had this like fruit bar with these like amazing, like, apricots and you could like smell the apricots. Yeah, it was extraordinary, and the picnic blankets were like tables, the tables, and each person had a hat, like a straw hat with their name in it. Those are the place card. So and these extraordinary picnic baskets. I mean, they were just amazing with like twine and all wrapped in paper. And there was the best and it was so that couple like you could never see them in a ballroom with like a giant dance floor. Like it just wasn’t them.

Meggan Brummer
So stylish. It’s like never think of a picnic as being stylish. But that picnic just sounds so super stylish doesn’t it.

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
It was great fun. We hired all like this vintage stuff. And it was just yeah, it was a really great day. Very warm, but it was good. At least it wasn’t raining, that was the most important thing. You needed some more shade. You needed shade Yeah, we had umbrellas. And we also had like a full like, some screen station for people to like add sunscreen. So they didn’t burn. But it was good. It was really good. The other thing as well, that I think is really important guys is a timeline. So at the beginning, just jot like very kind of broad times down, you’re going to do the ceremony at the church at two o’clock. And then you’re going to start the reception at six. And then you’re going to finish an 11. Start with that. And then keep adding to it. And when you remind people you’re going to start when they’re going to end, when is your car going to come get you? You know, what time are the boys going to be dropped off? What time are you going to start doing family photos after the church. What time you’re going to go on location for photoshoot, and then ultimately just keeps you just basically I just dump all the information about the wedding onto this document. So literally anybody could pick it up and understand exactly what’s happening. When things are being delivered. You know, what time are they bumping into the ceremony? What time are the bumping into the reception? You know, what times entrees, what times main course, what time you’re doing your first dance, what time you’re doing speeches, and then this kind of one big document, you can literally just send to your suppliers at the end of the day and just be like, Here you go, guys. That’s all the information and then they have not only just their part, but they have everybody else’s part. And so they can like fully understand, you know, the whole picture, you know, and how maybe something that they will do will affect somebody else quite quickly.

Meggan Brummer
So that’s where it seems you know, for me, that’s where it seems really really really useful. At the very least, to have a wedding planner on that day, who’s going to be overseeing you know, overseeing that hold that list of everything. That’s is everything running according to plan. Are we on time How’s it going? Because if you haven’t got a wedding planner, and you do have a lot of stuff to coordinate, then the bride and groom tend to get really stressed out, you know, unless at least at the very least delegated that job to somebody to make sure that everything’s running that’s where that wedding that’s where the wedding planner comes in on the day. Do you do many weddings where you just literally are coming in on the day are you mostly overseeing that journey

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
We do maybe a third of those of brides and grooms who want to plan their own wedding and then we come in another third we just style and the other third is probably a full planning service. So yeah, so I kind of offer those kind of three levels, which I think is really helpful for people. Yeah, so and then obviously guys, my main or favourite thing, talking about styling, is I create like a style guide for each of my clients. So that would kind of be the third document that I’m really suggest you it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could just be a Pinterest board, guys. I mean thank God for Pinterest when we when I started 12 years ago, sadly there was no Pinterest And no Instagram, but now it’s very easy to kind of store that inspiration, and very easily communicate to your florist. This is a look that I really like. And this is a look I really, don’t like, you know, um, and so I think that’s really, really helpful for people just to kind of really get an idea of what you’re really into yourself, and also to communicate particularly to your staff, your stylist, your florist, any of your deck or hire people. You know, if you found something on Pinterest, you’re like, Oh, my God, it’s amazing. And you know, you show your deck or hire company, you’re like, wow, do you have this? Do you know anybody who’s got it? Can you get it in for me? So you know, you can easily communicate. And so those are kind of the three high-level kind of documents that I’ve definitely start and are very helpful for any, you know, group of people that are getting married.

Meggan Brummer
That’s fantastic. I love all those tips. I feel like I could speak to you and listen to you for ages, all this really useful stuff that you often just don’t think about, you know, but with you being so into that part of the journey, you’ve got all this amazing experience that has you just know what are the things that couples need to focus on? Fi for couples who would like to get in touch with you or follow you on Insta? What is your Insta handle?

Fiona – Couture Wedding Planning
Yes, so I am couture wedding planning on both the good old Facebook and Instagram. And Tick tock. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. Yeah, so that’s, and that’s the same for my website as well. It’s coutureweddingplanning.com.au

Meggan Brummer
Fantastic Fi thanks so much for being with us today. They’ve been really wonderful to have you here. And I’m just going to give you a big wave goodbye now. But don’t leave those watching to say goodbye to them. Bye gorgeous.

So it was so lovely to have Fi. Thank you Fi. Coming up next Wednesday, I have a very beautiful lady called Jasmine. She is actually already married she is a past bride I suppose we could call it and she had the most incredible wedding that just left her feeling completely satisfied with all those choices that she made. And I can’t say I meet many brides who are happy if you know all couples who were happy all the choices they made across the board, but she really is one of those people. And so I’ve asked her she’ll join me for a live next week to just share about those choices that she made what were then you know, why they worked so well for her. So if you would like to be kept in the loop about the pending lives that are happening, I’m just popping my Insta handle in the comment section below. You can just literally click on that. And you’ll see the post. Just follow me there. And you’ll see each time I’m going live. I’ll let you know what we’re going live about. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. And I look forward to seeing you all again really soon. Bye for now.

If you’re interested in speaking to Fiona about planning your wedding, you can contact her at: https://coutureweddingplanning.com.au/

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