To Have and To Hold

by Kym Byrnes

Although weddings conjure thoughts of romance and love and beautiful things – there is a tremendous amount of work (and chaos and decision making and compromising and budgeting) that goes into pulling such an event together. Many people are often shocked to find out just how much the celebration of love costs.

A study conducted by The Knot wedding website shows that people are spending more than ever on weddings. In 2016 the average cost of a wedding in the United States was $35,329. Folks in New York City are paying the most with the average wedding costing $78,464 and those in Alaska will pay an average of $19,522.

So what are people spending that money on? According to the study it’s all about fewer guests and a better experience for those lucky enough to attend.  The average number of wedding guests has decreased to 141 in 2016, down from 149 in 2009, while the average cost per guest has increased to $245, up from $194 in 2009, according to The Knot study.

In the greater Hanover area – rustic, woodsy weddings are all the rage right now. Couples are going for personalized and intimate weddings. Here are some tips from local wedding experts to help bride and grooms-to-be get the ball rolling.

Bridal Attire  (average U.S. cost: $1,564)

When to get started? When choosing a wedding dress – the bride should be well on her way to knowing what she wants and ordering a year in advance of the wedding date, says Simone Hostetter, owner of Simone’s Bridal in Hanover.

“It’s pretty much rule of thumb to have your dress picked out and purchased a year in advance of the wedding,” Hostetter said. “It can take up to six months to get the dress in, depending on the bridal shop and the dress.”

Hostetter warned against ordering wedding dresses online without first seeing and trying on the dress. She said she has many brides walk in weeks or a few months prior to their wedding day in a panic because they finally received the dress they ordered online and it is not what they expected and it cannot be returned. With such a short turnaround time, Hostetter said brides are often forced to choose what a bridal shop has in stock, which may offer limited options.

What’s hot? Hostetter said that barnyard weddings are very trendy right now. She said brides are customizing their wedding attire with personalized touches like cowboy boots and really embracing shabby chic. Popular wedding dress styles right now include sleek, lacy and off the shoulders.

Pricing options? Hostetter said there is a tremendous price range for wedding dresses, from $99 at the big box chain wedding stores to easily $3,000 at boutique stores. The difference in the cost comes with the brand of the dress, the quality of the materials used and the décor on a dress such as beading and crystals.

Groom Attire  (average U.S. cost: $280)

When to get started? Dave Dubs, owner of Hanover Clothing Company, said that the men’s attire can be chosen as early as a year in advance of the wedding. He said he likes to meet with the bride and groom and family members to decide on the style, colors and price point.

“In that first meeting we get all the details ironed out and that can be done a year in advance depending on how soon the bride and groom want to get it taken care of,” Dubs said.

The good thing about a rental is that it’s not set in stone. Dubs said that everything is subject to change based on the preference, sometimes changing preferences, of the wedding party. Four to six weeks prior to the wedding date, they will take measurements and then the week prior to the big day, the wedding party will get a final head-to-toe fitting.

What’s hot? Dubs said that greys and blues (the color of a blue ink pen) are popular colors for groom’s attire right now. The tailored or trim fit is trendy today and grooms are going back to wearing a full tuxedo (for several years the trend was to lose the jacket). Colors in the groom’s attire can be seen in the bowtie or just the boutonniere as opposed to several years ago where it was popular to see the men’s vests coordinating with the bridal party.

Pricing options? If renting, a groom can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $200. The higher price range comes with a designer name like Michael Koors, the style options will be a bit more fashion forward, there will be more popular color options and the fabric will be of better quality.

For those wondering if they should buy or rent – Dubs said that if your lifestyle has you in a tux at least 3 times a year – considering purchasing the tuxedo. He said there are tuxes in the $200 range for purchase, so if someone will wear the tux a couple times outside of the wedding day – then it’s worth the cost to just purchase it. Many men, according to Dubs, are also opting to purchase a suit for the wedding that they can wear again for other occasions.

Wedding Cake  (average U.S. cost: $582)

When to get started? This varies depending on the baker, the complexity of the cake, the size of the cake, and whether delivery is required. Generally, it’s never too early to order the cake, although experts recommend deciding on other wedding day decisions like color, style, theme and florals first so the cake can be built to match.

What’s hot? Karen Rider, owner of Sweet Treats Bakery in Hanover, said that rustic style cakes are popular right now. She said variety is key as many are choosing a small wedding cake as the top layer and then cupcakes for the lower “layers”.

“Cupcakes allow for a variety of cake flavors so everyone’s taste can be accommodated and some venues charge for every cake slice, so cupcakes can be cheaper in the long run as well,” Rider said.

Pricing options? Rider said that at her bakery, there is a starting rate of $2.50 per slice (multiply the number of guests by the cost of a slice to figure the cost of the cake). But she said she tries to work with the budget of the customer so if they want a cake that they can’t afford, she suggests doing a smaller version of the cake and then purchasing a sheet cake on the side.

“Some people don’t realize how expensive wedding cakes are,” Rider said. “I try to let folks know they can still have a really nice cake and they can make choices that make it less expensive.

Cakes get more expensive with size, flavors, style, décor and delivery.

Photographer (average U.S. cost: $2,783)

When to get started? Photographer Kirsten Smith of Hanover suggests that couples research and meet with photographers before deciding on who to book. She said she typically books weddings about a year in advance of the wedding date, sometimes even up to 15 months out, and rarely within six months of the wedding date.

“Couples need to take time to research different photographers before booking one to find out what kind of photographic style they want for their images, and to make important comparisons,” Smith said. “The couple should want to feel as natural and comfortable as possible with each vendor, especially the photographer because so much time is spent interacting together over the course of the wedding day.”

What’s hot? Smith said that one need only spend some time on social media sites like Pinterest to find out what is trending today. For 2017 she’s seeing pink blush tones, mixed metal accents, a soft bohemian feel, calligraphy and hand-lettering, and all things vintage. But she made an important point in suggesting that the happy couple work hard to weave their own style and loves into the wedding instead of just following what is popular.

“I always tell my brides to really focus on what is truly them and not what is popular because in 20 or 30 years when they look back on their wedding images, they want to see a true reflection of what they and their fiance loved rather than what was popular at the time,” Smith said.

Pricing options? Investment in wedding photography can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the market area and what the collections include, Smith said. Higher-end areas charge higher-end prices, and photographers with more experience and expertise add more value to the experience compared to someone who’s new at their profession. Multiple factors go into the pricing of a wedding photography collection like the cost of image post-processing, album or products, and paying an assistant or second photographer.

Some photographers charge for their shooting time and their clients purchase the images they’d like separately whereas other photographers include edited digital files and/or prints and their photographing time into a single hourly rate.

There are clearly many more elements that go into planning for the big day – flowers, venue, transportation and favors to name a few. The most important advice for successful planning is to shop around and compare services, give yourself plenty of time to research and make decisions, and be true to the spirit of the bride and groom and the day. 

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Author: HM

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