There are mountains of bad advice available on the Internet. Most of which come from extremely popular websites where people go for their answers. There are blogs, articles, and pages of "how-to" (insert whatever you're looking to learn how to do here) online magazines available. A quick google search will transport an unsuspecting person to these websites if they didn't start there to begin with. And then, without so much as checking the source or looking into what the author actually knows about the subject, a person can easily believe what they read. Especially if they read it 457 times in a row.
But does that make it true?
I mean, I'm guilty of feeling sick and putting my symptoms into one of those popular sites (you know the one) and getting back things like "cancer with two minutes left to live." Doesn't make it true, but that's what it said.
My doctor is not a fan of when I diagnose myself based on Internet "facts." As a wedding planner, not only do I dislike when those tying the knot start telling me all they learned from these sites, but I loathe that the wrong information is out there to begin with. Because, let's face it, education is key, but it's also time consuming. For every one couple I educate, there are 400 more reading crazy nonsense about how to plan their wedding and save or even make money while doing it. I've spoken about lies of the wedding website world before, but this time I want to focus on one that mattered just a few short days ago here in the NYC Metro Area.
Over the weekend, areas including where my office is as well as the entire surrounding area and as far south as Virginia and D.C were buried in over two feet of snow. That's a "2." Normally, I think anything over 12 inches of snow doesn't really matter because that much is pretty much going to shut down the area. But over two feet is worth mentioning.
While everyone was snowed in, countless brides with nothing else to do but wedding plan, flooded the Internet reading articles and pinning centerpiece inspirations. There is no doubt in my mind that one of the most popular "pins" was any article discussing how to have a dream wedding on a low budget. I can also guarantee you what one of the tips was on every single one of those articles:
"Pick an off-season date"
There you are. Snowed in and stocked up on milk, bread and eggs. And if you, if even for a second, considered that as a good piece of advice, then you need to splash some water... or snow, on your face.
Off season date? That's a great way to save money? Math lesson kids!
Hypothetical: You want a venue that normally charges $150 per person for a Saturday night during prime season. However, that number really isn't in your budget, especially given your 200 person guest count. Without taxes, service charge and gratuity, that's a flat $30,000 before you do anything else. Yet, in January (part of the"off-season"), the same venue can offer you a Saturday night for $90 per person. Just like that you've brought the venue, food and beverage cost down to $18,000.
Let's, for round numbers sake, say you have 10 people per table, which means you have 20 tables. Twenty tables means 20 centerpieces. An average centerpiece cost in the NYC area is around $200 each. Your centerpiece bill (no other flowers or décor) is now $4,000.
Factor in ceremony flowers for $500-$1,000+, and your personal flowers which include every bouquet, corsage and boutonniere, and you could have a total ranging anywhere from $2,000 to upwards of $4,000. The basic math here is assuming the bridal bouquet average of $250, bridesmaid bouquet average of $150, and corsages and boutonnieres at $20 each. Take those numbers and multiple them by however many you need (18 person wedding party not seeming like the best idea now, is it?), add in the ceremony décor, and don't forget anything else such as a card table display (let's say $200), cocktail hour arrangements (I'll go low here with $250) and anything else you were thinking of.
Here would be a good time to mention that the whole "demand in season flowers" brilliant piece of advice on these websites is completely and totally useless. While it's pretty ridiculous to begin with since sometimes a flower in season is still cheaper when purchased from outside your location (making the season moot), it's downright pointless to throw down the "in season flowers only" card with your florist in January. You know what's "in season"? Snow. Because January.
Throw in everything else you need for a wedding including music, cake, photography, video, a photobooth, make up and hair stylists, limo transportation and so forth. Wedding date set, huge savings accomplished, and this is so damn easy!
Will you still be happy about that great idea to have an off-season wedding when you find out exactly why off-season was such a bargain to begin with?
Most of my clients watch the weather forecasts leading up to their wedding day. I've had some consult the Farmer's Almanac... and then email me the link to review. Imagine if your concern wasn't about a rogue thunderstorm, but rather a blizzard warning being issued for the same day as your wedding.
When your guests start texting, calling and emailing you about what your "back-up" plan is and when (yes, when) you will decide whether or not to postpone the wedding, this is what I want you to do:
Think of all the money you saved!
Each innocent little inquiry asking how you're "holding up," and if you're "worried about the weather"... just breathe and think of all the money you saved.
Is it working? Just wait...
Pandemonium ensues, and a State of Emergency gets issued 24 hours prior to your wedding date. Not sure what that means? Guess what? No one else really knows either, but everyone reacts the same way (except the idiots who you hear about on the news) and stays off the road. Your vendors are now calling you asking for updates as to if the wedding is still on, and when will they know if it's or or not. As you yield call after call, you reach for your wedding planning binder and go through all of their contracts searching for phrases like "Acts of God."
Now, reading line after line of these contracts that you haven't even touched for months, you are interrupted with phone calls and texts of "sorry, can't come." That 200 person guest count guarantee that you gave your venue 14 days ago drops to 190... then 186... then 176. Great. Time to find the venue contract to see what happens when those guests no longer show up! Then you find it, and you see that those guests are basically already paid for and no, you are not getting that money back from the venue.
Then the calls that really stress you out start rolling in: the bridesmaid you really didn't want to make a bridesmaid but did anyway because you "had to" can't make it because the storm is so bad that her power is knocked out and her car is buried. Two groomsmen don't have their tuxes because they waited until the last minute to pick them up and the store is closed early because of the storm. In the middle of everyone telling you to relax and that everything will be alright, fast forward to the day of your wedding and it's. still. snowing.
Whether it occurs to you on your own, or a helpful relative points it out, you now have to re-do your seating chart. Because that was so much fun that you want to do it a second time... your 200 person guest count has dropped to 160, and that means 20 tables reduced to 16. Some tables now have two people, while others have eight. Do you play musical chairs knowing that certain people aren't adult enough to handle sitting together? The drama! The suspense of it all!
Our math lesson will tell you that you have now paid $90 per person for 40 people that aren't showing up. You paid $200 for each centerpiece, four of which you no longer need. Other items already paid for that you don't need include 40 escort cards, extra favors, and any personal flowers for wedding party members that either don't make it or have no tux coat to pin a boutonniere to. Don't forget any transportation for your guests that you now have too much of since so many people are no longer coming, as well as the money you owe to the hair and make up stylists for the bridesmaid(s) they were hired to work on but won't be able to anymore because someone is caught in a snowdrift.
Quick math on how much money you spent for nothing? Basically, a few thousand dollars. Which is all you were trying to save in the first place, right?
"Pick an off-season wedding date" is the most reckless and absolute idiotic piece of advice that can be given to couples in regard to how to save money. Yet, these sites do it over and over again. Not just any sites, but multiple ones, big ones... ones that the majority of the engaged population depend on. There is a reason these dates are cheaper. In fact, there are thousands.
Frankly, this situation happened at plenty of weddings this past weekend. Other weddings had even worse outcomes including vendors not showing up and venues canceling couples' weddings at the last minute. What happens when a venue cancels a wedding at the 11th hour varies from place to place, but I promise that you will not stay calm thinking about all of the money you saved.
Could it be sunny with no trace of snow on a January or February weekend in the Northeast? Sure. But we've had blizzards in September and October and hurricanes in November. The difference between September through November and January through February, is that if you bet on good weather for the latter, there's a strong chance you'll be out a couple grand.
Now there's something that wedding website didn't bother to tell you.