Why not take a day trip to the beaches in Italy??  There are five villages in Cinque Terre and we decided to go to the two northern villages: Vernazza and Monterosso Al Mare.  You can either spend the day at the beach or hiking from one village to another.  Either way it is exceptionally beautiful!!!  Which village is your favorite?

My American coffee is so small 🙁

On the train from Florence to Vernazza

Riding through Tuscany

Train stop in La Spezia

We made it!

Pasta @Belforte

We took a boat over to Monterosso Al Mare.  It reminds me so much of Catalina Island, except the rocky beach!!

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Have champagne wedding taste but a beer budget?  With the average American wedding at a whooping $27,000, you don’t have to DIY your entire wedding to save money.  There are other ways you can be frugal and still have the fabulous wedding day you envision.  Here are the Top 10 Wedding Budget Tips:

1. DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES – Pick which elements are most important to you and then you can tailor your budget to splurge on those items and cut back on the others.  This is different for everyone, and it is your wedding, so it’s ok to splurge a little!

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2. KEEP YOUR GUEST COUNT DOWN – Venues often determine your wedding cost by the head count.  One way is to just do immediate family and friends and avoid the plus one’s.

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3. NEGOTIATE!! – Venues and vendors will negotiate for varies reasons.  If they aren’t booked and the date is coming near or if your date is out of season.  You might even be able to get a few appetizers or the cake cutting fee waived.

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4. AVOID SATURDAYS – For some people this may not be possible, but if you can get married on any other day it can save thousands of dollars. Another option is to have a daytime wedding rather than an evening wedding, this is a huge money saver as well.

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5. BUY PRE-OWNED – Designer wedding dresses can cost between $4,000 to over $10,000.  Once you know that exact wedding dress you want, rather than buying it from a retail shop you can buy it from www.preownedweddingsdresses.com.  It is only once worn and can save you 50% off the retail price.

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6. MULTIPURPOSE WEDDING FLOWERS – During cocktail hour have your florist move the ceremony flowers to your reception.  This can save you hundreds of dollars on additional flower arrangements.  Also, choose seasonal and local flowers so you don’t have to pay premiums.

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7. HAVE A BUFFET OR ONE OPTION MEAL – Buffets can save thousands of dollars rather than having a plated meal.  If you still want the plated meal feel, opt for only one meat option and one vegetarian option.  By not offering three meat options, this can save you thousands on your catering budget.

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8. SERVE A SIGNATURE COCKTAIL – By only serving wine, beer and one signature cocktail you are still giving the guests three desirable drink options without the expensive cost of a full open bar.  Plus your quests will love ordering your cutely named cocktail.

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9. BUY, RENT OR MAKE – If you are a crafty person, enjoy doing as many DIY projects as you can to save money.  If not crunch the numbers and determine weather it makes more sense to rent your linens or buy them for example.  For destination weddings, consider the cost of getting everything to your venue as well.

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10. HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER – This might seem like an unnecessary expense, but planners have expertise and connections that can save you money with vendors.  Plus it takes away a lot of the stress and work for you!

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‘This way to the Loo!’  What a great way to start cocktail hour.  I love the mixture of colors in this wedding of red, navy, white green and tan. From the beautiful palm trees, to the ocean and the old station wagon, this Florida wedding treated their guests to a menu customized to the newlyweds.  And topped off the evening with frozen hot chocolate and a s’mores bar!  I’ll have s’more!!!

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Sometimes the hardest thing in event planning is the first step.  You have so many ideas, you know your colors, you know your theme and/or vision of how you want your perfect day to look and be.  But how do you implement all of your ideas?  I’m simple! Don’t worry about buying every wedding planning book and every Bridal magazine.. here, find out how to plan a wedding in these 6 simple steps:
1. DETERMINE YOUR BUDGET – As a couple and with your families, it’s important to determine a number that you are comfortable.  Please note that you will likely go over this initial budget so leave a little cushion. Once the budget is established, it will also help you determine the size of your wedding and what types of venues you can afford.
branch alter arbor on the beach for wedding

2. BOOK THE VENUE – This will determine your wedding date! 🙂 Venues book up quickly so it is important to book your venue in the very initial stages of your planning.  Tell your family and friends of this date and send out your Save The Date cards.  For a more detailed checklist on how to plan a wedding see My Wedding Checklist.  Also at this time you can book the Rehearsal Dinner venue.
wedding table under vineyard vines with chandeliers

3. SAY YES TO THE DRESS – Perhaps the most fun part of wedding planning 🙂  Bridal gowns usually need to be ordered 5-8 months in advanced.  So in order to get your ‘dream dress’ this is critical to do early and will prevent you from having to pull a sample dress 3 weeks before your wedding.  Browse Bridal Fashion.  Also at this time have your bridesmaids order their dresses from the same store, see my blog How to order my bridesmaid dresses? and have your groomsmen outfits determined (groomsmen don’t need too much time in advanced).
bride in lazaro 3201

4. BOOK YOUR VENDORS – The vendors that are ‘the best of the best’ book up quickly, so book them in order of importance to you.  You will likely get a list of vendors that your venue recommends and/or has worked with before (this is especially helpful for destination weddings to get this list), but it is important to do your own research as well and read reviews.  Below is a list of vendors to book:
– Food and Beverage (if this is not included in your venue package)
– Photographer
– Videographer
– Florist
– Officiant
– Hair and Makeup
– Wedding Planner
– Band or DJ
– Wedding Cake
– Linens and Other Rentals
– Transportation
– Nanny Service
– Photo Booth
St Regis wedding venue with trees at alter and white and pink flowers at ceremony entrance

5. THE DETAILS – This step I believe so the most special.  The details are what makes you shine as a couple and is an opportunity to show your style and love as a couple. This includes cute ways to ask your sister and friends to be your bridesmaids, making your wedding video, sending your invitations, ordering wedding signs (see my blog Where There’s A Sign There’s A Way), the guest book, fan cards, menu cards, escort cards, bridesmaid gifts, decor to fit your theme, wedding favors and hotel gifts for out of town guests.  Involve your fiance and together book the honeymoon, order your wedding rings and apply for your marriage license.
bride and groom holding just hitched sign

6. DAY OF TIMELINE – Finally, have your wedding planner or hotel wedding coordinator help you determine your ‘Day of Timeline.’  This will help all your vendors to all be on the same page.  Include all phone number and emails of the vendors so on your special day, you can relax and enjoy! 🙂
bride and groom dancing outside on checkered dance floor under chandelier

This yacht club harbor s the perfect setting for a last summer seersucker wedding. I love the adorable kids outfits, the mix-matched groomsmen ties and the bright green and navy colors.  This happy couple is sailing off into the sunset!

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