The Real Cost of a Wedding in Miami
Ever wonder how much one of those weddings in the magazines cost? Ok, not one by Preston Bailey with a rustic chapel built in the middle of a sunflower field, but one of the charming ones filled with custom details, gourmet food, entertainers, a lounge area, and/or a firework finale.
One of the first questions we receive from our clients is, what will my wedding cost me? Our answer is always, it will cost you whatever you are willing to spend, but as a reference, to have the type of wedding we produce in Miami, you are looking at a minimum spend of $1,000 per guest. This includes specialty designed stationary sets, intricate lighting design, a suite of personalized details, custom lounges, specialty linens, gourmet caterer, mixology bar, etc... Now this is just a guideline. Of course, if your budget doesn’t allow for all these extras, there are plenty of ways to have a wonderful wedding at any budget. You just have to be realistic and put your priorities in order. Now if you must “have it all!” and you have a budget of say $50,000, then just reduce your guest count to fifty and your dream wedding becomes a realistic event.
Wedding Planning: Would you Rather be the Bride or the Planner?
Photo by madprime on Flickr
On the day of your wedding, while your gorgeous self is getting your makeup done, the caterer will call to review which guests have a food allergy, your limo driver will call to go over the pick up addresses, and at least one other vendor (probably most of them) will call with a "small problem" that needs to be addressed, now do you want your phone to ring or mine?
I have seen it a hundred times, brides look through the magazines and think, "I can do this planning thing, it doesn't seem too hard." But what they really need to realize is how time consuming it is, and there is not enough time to be both planner and bride.
Here are some of the top benefits by having a wedding planner, here in Miami, or anywhere else:
1. I am your ally during the planning process and on the day of. My job is to have your best interest. The months of planning allow me and my team to really get to know you, so that on the day of we can act on your behalf making sure everything is produced just like if you were holding the baton yourself.
2. We already made all the mistakes. There are so many challenges that brides do not foresee, and you don't have time to learn from your mistakes when you only have one shot at it. We can guide you through the planning process and day of so you freely go over the pitfalls that other brides fall through.
3. We save you money! Yes, a good planner is expensive, but we actually pay for ourselves. From venues, to vendors, to tricks of the trade, we are experts striking deals and stretching your budget to the maximum.
4. We are the "scapegoat". Your mother wanted peach roses and you want purple hydrangeas. You will have a gorgeous wedding full of purple hydrangeas and a team to blame it on. Go ahead, we will deal with mom.
5. You get to be a bride. Nobody dreams of their wedding as a day full of task lists, phone calls, and invoices. Every bride wants to be the princess for a day. So hire a planner! You will be pampered and fawned over while we take the calls and do the dirty work.
9 Tips about Vizcaya that Every Bride (and Planner) Needs to Know
It's almost every Miami girl's dream at some point in her adolescent years, to get married at this beautiful mansion by the ocean. The romance of it does not escape anyone who steps foot on its perfect manicured gardens. But like any great love story, there are many hidden issues that are often swept under the rug. We are sharing with you essential tips and tricks from a wedding planner/producer that has a lot of experience at this venue.
Here are nine things you should know before signing to ensure a magical day at Vizcaya:
1. Vizcaya is mostly an outdoor venue. And Miami's weather is about as unpredictable as it gets. I have one major rule for all my clients here. If you are not getting a tent, your guest count must be under 120 so we can use the inside as plan B. That is the max capacity! If your guest count is over that, then you must rent a tent….
2. You did a walkthrough of the venue, now go do a walkthrough of the tent. Ask to visit it on a day that it is up. See where the legs are, where it ends on the East Terrace, etc… Know exactly what you are getting so that you can plan your décor accordingly and avoid surprises on the big day.
3. If it does rain, the tent will protect you from the top, but not the bottom. The Upper East Terrace is made out of coral. The floor is not very even and has a couple of spots that are slightly sunken in. Even in light rain, I have seen the water come down from the tent's roof and create puddles inside. Just in case, make sure your coordinator brings a mop or two to avoid your dance floor from turning into a slip and slide. No I am not joking!
4. The summer brings a lot of challenges for outdoor weddings in Miami, and Vizcaya is no exception. It's hot, there are bugs, and the ocean can sometimes smell fishy (pun intended). Our tip is, Go Inside!!! Vizcaya can be just as beautiful in the summer if you take advantage of the gorgeous atrium with its newly renovated glass ceiling. Plus summer dates are easier to come by and you can get lots of discounts from your other vendors. Wink, wink.
5. It does not matter the season, or the sunset time, if you are having a ceremony on the Casino, please rent two lights to shine on the couple. The heavy trees in the area cast weird shadows on the bride and grooms faces, even on the sunniest day. Lights will fill in those spots and allow for beautiful pictures of the most important part of your wedding day.
6. There are no dressing rooms available to you. This is a museum after all. Your choices are to use the public bathroom to freshen up, or rent an RV and park it right outside the gate by the Casino and Mound. This is best so you have an air-conditioned place to freshen up, a place with snacks for your bridal party, and a safe place to store all your personal belongings near you. Otherwise you have to put your garment bags, extra shoes, makeup etc… in the bathroom (which your guests will be using) or in your car or limo, all the way in the parking lot at the top of the hill. Good luck trekking to get something you forgot.
7. This is a real biggie so pay attention!!!! Vizcaya allows vendors a limited amount of time to setup. You need to make sure what you are designing for your big day can be completed in that time, otherwise you are looking at a couple of thousands more to pay for early setup. Be realistic on what can be done in 3 hours or less (No, we can't drape your entire tent!). And most vendors need bigger teams to setup quickly and in a venue where their trucks are parked so far from the venue. Expect to pay higher setup/breakdown fees from all your vendors than you would if you were at a hotel with a loading dock and/or freight elevator.
Here are the current setup times, meaning the minute that your vendors can start placing things/decorating:
Casino and Mound 4:00 p.m.
East Terrace 3:00 p.m.
Inside Mansion 5:15 p.m.
8. Start/End Times: This is one of those things that brides do not think about, so it is the first thing I tell them to avoid issues. The standard rental time is from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. So you can start your ceremony at 6:30 p.m. right? Wrong. Your guests will be let in past the security gate at 6:30 p.m. (sometimes 6:15 p.m.) They still have to walk through the mansion and to your ceremony site. The earliest I have been able to start was 6:45 p.m. and that is very rare. I recommend a start time of 7:00 p.m. Also, the music must be shut down 15 minutes prior to the end time to allow time for the guests to get back up to the guard gate. Even if you pay for extended time until 1:00 a.m., at 12:45 a.m. your music must be shut off and your guests must make their way to the exit and be fully cleared of the premises by 1:00 a.m.
9. For the love of all things, hire a planner!!!! And even better, one that has worked here before. There is a small loading area which allows for limited vendor trucks, tricky power issues on the east terrace, a complicated rain plan for guest load in, etc, etc, etc An experienced planner will make all the difference between your day being epically enchanting or an epic fail.And here is a final rant of amazing things about Vizcaya….
It's magical, the gardens at night are romantic and sexy, the huge parking lots lets you avoid hiring valet, it's extremely private and away from it all, no wedding crashers here, you can live out your Marie Antoinette or Downton Abbey fantasies, you can say you got married at Vizcaya!
A Gown Trend Fitting of this Miami Heat
We get very excited every year to see the new fashion trends in bridal wear. Oscar, Monique, Vera, and others make us swoon at their gorgeous art pieces composed of tulle, satin, and lace. We were extra excited this year to see short hemlines on some of these gorgeous creations. Anything that makes our life down here in the tropics easier is a plus for us. Every weekend in the summer we deal with melting brides that try to tough the heat out in order to wear their gowns complete with petticoat, corset, and five foot train. Our hope is that at least some of our brides embrace this trend and spare themselves the heat stroke. Here are some of our favorites from the runway.
3 photo booth companies that are taking it to the next level
By now just about everyone has seen or been in a photo booth at an event. Now while I still love the concept of providing fun activities for your guests, the typical photo booth just isn’t enough anymore to wow your guests. We recently encountered three companies that are really changing it up. Their twist on the photo booth caught our attention and will surely catch your guest’s.
Imagine a giant iPad where your guests can take their own picture, draw on it, write a message on it, and then share it on their social media. TapSnap is a 42 inch multi-touch screen that screams “come play with me”. We think it is a great addition to any event with smartphone loving, Facebookaholic, Instagram addict guests.
2. Onkei Photography
One of the problems with photo booths has always been that that big black box does not exactly mesh well with the beautiful decor you have been working months on. Onkei Photography has solved that with their super sleek and minimal “photo booth”. You can place this contraption anywhere at your reception and it will blend easily with it’s surroundings. Perfect for posh weddings.
3. Dirty Sugar
We have also seen plenty of photo booths with fun props for your guests. Giant sunglasses, feather boas, and top hats are staples in everyone’s pictures. What we absolutely LOVE about Dirty Sugar is that they custom make their props. First they have a consultation with you to find out more about your story as a couple. Then they go to work creating the cute and clever props that your guests will love! Here are some pictures from our recent wedding at Vizcaya where Dirty Sugar stole the show. Not only were the guests lining up for a turn at the booth, they stuck around to see and laugh at everyone else’s crazy antics.
The "Quiet" Groom
It happens every single time I sit down for an initial consultation with a couple. The groom sits back and says, “I don’t care. I just want her to be happy. Just tell me where and what time to show up.” I nod my head, smile, and continue speaking with the bride, knowing that all to soon his opinions will make their grand entrance.
10 months before wedding, Invitation meeting
“I don’t like those curvy things. Nothing too fancy. The people are going to throw it away. No, I don’t want pictures on the Save the Dates. Honey, Do we even have to take engagement pictures?”
8 months before wedding, Catering meeting
“My guys don’t do fruity drinks. We need beer. Make sure there is lots of scotch and tequila. What’s the standard bar again? Oh no, I only drink Grey Goose. Let’s upgrade to the premium bar.”
6 months before the wedding, Floral meeting
“Boutonnieres? I am not wearing flowers. I might wear that pocket square in a non-girly color. I was thinking…how about if my guys and I wear sneakers?”
4 months before the wedding, Transportation meeting
“I am not showing up to MY wedding in a lame car. Let’s get a stretch hummer or a party bus. How much to rent a Lamborghini for the day?”
2 months before wedding, Rehearsal dinner planning
“Let’s do dinner earlier. My friends that couldn’t make it to my bachelor party want to take me out.”
Day before the wedding
“Don’t worry Joan. I will not be out that late and I won’t get drunk. I forgot to get hair spray and black socks for tomorrow. Can you get those for me?”
Morning of wedding
“Joaaaaann, can you bring us some beer and Red Bulls. We are all hungover. Do you know how to tie this? I also lost the cufflinks and button things. What time are pictures again?”
And after I sober him up and send him down the aisle, I smile and think how I am going to miss my very opinionated, high-maintenance client, which is almost always the one in the tux, not the one in the gown.
(This post is dedicated to all my fabulous grooms. You keep my job interesting and fun)
Moncler celebrates 60 years
With a strong background in fashion, you can imagine our excitement when we were contacted to produce an anniversary party for fashion mega brand Moncler. A winter wear powerhouse who was looking to come celebrate in a hot spot, during Miami’s busiest week, Art Basel. Etienne Aigner from Villa Eugenie and the producers from WCMG were looking for a local production company with an in of the best Miami has to offer and we had just what they needed.
After what seemed to be the longest venue option tour ever, the client fell in love with the 1111 Lincoln road space. With it’s panoramic views and icy concrete structure, it fit the bill for their vision.
The concept was to create a modern, all-white, winter wonderland in the middle of hot South Beach.
Moncler’s signature duck acted as sculptural pieces on some of the custom made lounge tables.
All the invitees were thrilled to receive the favor, a custom made white parka produced solely for the event. Many of them even showed up at our after party at Le Baron wearing them. And it was a hot night!
It was a magical night with delicious food, a plethora of bubbly, and guests immersed in Moncler’s fantasy winterland.
Party Time at Fairchild
Our third client from the advertising agency Crispin, Porter, + Bogusky called us to plan her wedding. I think this makes us CPB Miami’s official wedding planner! Brenda and Chuka were sweet, funny, and fun from the start. I knew this wedding was going to be a blast. And then I found out that Brenda is a fellow Zeta from the University of Miami. Well this is just to good to be true!
Brenda and Chuka were very focused on throwing a fun party that their guests would be delighted to attend. But they were also very conscious about their budget. With a new baby, a new house, and their future on the horizon, these two savvy professionals knew where their priorities lied.
They chose Fairchild Gardens as their venue. Brenda’s father is a big fan of Fairchild. And by choosing a raw space, Brenda and Chuka were able to create the environment they wanted. We started with a clean, white space by draping the walls of the garden house.
Brenda wanted a black and white theme with a pop of color. The great thing about choosing a decor with high contrast is that a little goes a long way.
In homage to their college partying days, the tables were named after bars in which the couple has had good times with friends and family.
The escort card table also acted as the favor table. Mini bottles of champagne with tags directed guests to their tables. A sign with a familiar slogan set the mood for the night.
And then there was the cake… My team kept calling me from Fairchild concerned that the cake had not arrived. Well after finally getting through to the baker (the bride’s family’s friend), I found out that the mother of the bride had given her the wrong date! Oh Missy!! I told her to get to the venue ASAP and that we would help her put it together. Let’s just say my team got a crash course in wedding cake making. And the best part of having a wedding planner, no one was the wiser. Cake problem…what cake problem?
After an amazing meal, the couple and their guests danced the night away. It was a great party full of love and laughter.
And of course my favorite picture: A group of beautiful Zetas celebrating their sister together. ZLAM, Joan
Photos by Dolce Photography
The Most Important Paper at Your Wedding (after your marriage license)
A BEO is a paper that contains all the logistics for your reception including food and beverage (F&B), audio/visual, rentals, room setup, and staffing requirements. It also includes the date, times, and fees for the event. BEOs are usually drafted by the hotel event coordinator and given to the banquet manager. Now this banquet manager has probably never met you. His or her only guide while setting up on your event day is this piece of paper!
Now here comes wisdom from our experiences. At least once a month, we have arrived at a venue and have had to change what the banquet manager has setup because the BEO was wrong! Thankfully, we as planners are fully aware of what you want and are expecting, but clients without a planner might find that their tablecloth colors are wrong, the seating layout is wrong, or even the event times are wrong! Hopefully a venue coordinator will catch it. But, if they arrive after the initial setup, sacrifices will have to be made.
So our advice…ask your venue coordinator to show/email you the BEO one week prior to your event. Have him or her walk you through it (it’s usually filled with industry jargon you might not understand) and make sure that this “blueprint” to your reception matches what you have been planning.
Venue Coordinator vs. Wedding Planner
A venue or hotel coordinator is there to aid you with everything that will happen within the venues walls. They can recommend vendors, help you with the layout and seating arrangements, and set up a food tasting. One of the venue coordinators biggest responsibilities is to create a banquet event order (BEO) that is passed on to the banquet manager that will be setting up the event on the day of. Now, take note of that last statement. A banquet manager (which you have probably never met), not the venue coordinator, will be in charge of setting up, running, and breaking down your event. The venue coordinators do show up on that day, most of the time. The good coordinators come for a couple hours to make sure that the banquet manager is understanding the BEO correctly and everything is getting set up just like you want. But be ready to have your phone in hand for all questions, concerns, and problems from the coordinator, your vendors, and your bridal party and guests.
In contrast, A wedding planner is an expert at you. We are in charge of helping you plan your wedding and overseeing every element of it whether it be at the venue or anywhere else. We oversee all vendors, including the venue. On the day of, we are there from set-up to breakdown, making sure everything is being done exactly as you wish (and we would know since we have been meeting with you various times at key points of the planning process). If a vendor is late or doesn’t show up, we have all the information and will call. If your bridesmaid left her shoe at home, we drive over to get it. If the venue coordinator, vendor, or guest has a question or problem , he/she calls us, not you, so that you can enjoy your day.
See the difference? The coordinator works for the venue. The planner works for you. Now, I absolutely love working with venue/hotel coordinators. They know the staff, the rules, the capabilities of the space, and the problem areas and how to work around them. They truly are a wealth of information about venue and we as planners rely on their experience to produce a smooth running event. But as a client, you need to be aware of what they will not be doing so that you can make sure either you or your team (groom, mom, maid of honor) will be there to do it.
Now for my disclaimer, like everything else in life, nothing is black or white, as a very famous author has now reminded us there are many Shades of Grey. There are some venues that will offer a full wedding planner as part of their rental package. These planners will do all the responsibilities of an off-site planner. If you do run into this situation, I would go over the checklist below and make sure they are willing to do everything on the list. I would also ask how many other events they are planning for your wedding weekend.
Venue/Hotel Coordinator Responsibilities