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5 Budget-Friendly Secrets from a Wedding Planner

Hi SMP Brides, it’s Ali from A Dash of Details back to talk all things wedding planning. When it comes to organizing the chaos, a wedding planner is a MUST to make sure your big day goes off without a hitch. So without further ado, I want to introduce all of you to my amazing planner, Jen from Imoni Events. Finding someone who truly understands your style, vision and of course, budget is so important. For me, that’s Jen!

Since we’re planning our destination wedding in Scottsdale, Arizona and I’m currently living in Dallas, being organized and having someone keep me on track have been essentials to our zero-stress planning process. We have nailed down all the big details for the day, like the date (that’s a big one!), the venue, the band, and our amazing photographer, Elyse Hall

Jen and I are working to create my dream wedding and wanted to share some top tips and tricks on how you can create your dream wedding without breaking the bank. We stopped by Butterfly Petals to take a look at a few of the creative details and pick Jen’s brain along the way!

ALI: WHEN IT COMES TO WEDDING PLANNING, WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU CONSIDER WITH A COUPLE? 

JEN: Without a doubt, the first thing I ask my couples is, “Tell me what’s going on?” This usually relates to why they scheduled the meeting, what they are looking for in a planner and what they envision for their dream wedding. I quickly move on to the more detailed about the couple. How did they meet? What did they do on their first date? How did he propose? What do they do for fun? Really, anything to give me insight as to who they are as individuals and as a couple. It really helps me to know who it is I am working with and how I will relate to them during one the most special months of their life. Most importantly, I am able to use those stories and interactions to create details that we can wrap into the entire wedding design that shares the couples love story.

ALI: WHAT TIPS DO YOU GIVE YOUR COUPLES WHEN DECIDING ON WHERE AND WHEN TO HOST THEIR BIG DAY? 

JEN: As you know the first question when it comes to venue is budget. Most couples do look at style of venue before really considering their overall bottom line. The look of the venue is important, yes, but if you look at venue without establishing a good working budget then most brides either blow their imaginary budget, or go venue poor and can’t really do anything else at a high level. It is so important to establish an estimated number of guests and how much you want to spend. Once the number is set, we look at venues that fit the style the couple is going for, within budget, and can accommodate the guest count. This is quite the puzzle. But once you figure it out, everything else falls into place nicely.

ALI: WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUDGET?

JEN: First of all, I think everyone should feel pictures and video are worth spending on. When it is all said they’re all you have left. That being said, you really need to ask your planner for great people within your price point. I have been doing this for twelve years and I have not had one year go by where there wasn’t an amazing photographer that is priced in the “budget range.” For whatever reason, the photographer may be starting out, or they made a conscience choice to keep their prices low, you can always find talented photographers at every price point. This also takes a planner who really keep a pulse on the market, AND can recognize good work.

ALI: ANY IDEAS ON HOW TO MAKE DESIGN DETAILS UNIQUE WITHOUT BURSTING THE BUDGET?

Jen: I try to look at the things that we know we are going to spend on anyway. For example, this past weekend I had a groom whose mom passed away and she grew her favorite flower in their gardens back home. He wanted to use this flower in the wedding, but they were nowhere near in season or available. Instead I had a watercolor made and included it on the invitations, menus, cake, and other details that we were making anyway. To the family that attended the wedding, it meant so much to see that flower everywhere. If there is something meaningful, try and look at what you know you have to have and make those items mean something.

ALI: FLOWERS. EVERYONE LOVES THEM BUT THEY ARE CERTAINLY A PRETTY PENNY. AFTER SPENDING ENDLESS HOURS ON PINTEREST AND THE SMP FLOWER GALLERY, WE DECIDED ON A VERY ORGANIC LOOK AND FELL. SO WHEN IT COMES TO LARGE, LUSH ARRANGEMENTS, HOW CAN YOU KEEP COSTS DOWN WHILE GETTING THAT DREAM LOOK?

JEN: Well some couples see a picture and just can’t imagine anything else except what is right in front of them. So it is hard to bring them into a more budget friendly flower arena, if you are not careful. It’s important to create a style board or design plan that incorporates a specific style, color palette and overall feel of the wedding. Once that happens the actual flowers are irrelevant. We can tweak little things here and there to give the same feel with a different flower or various sizes and scales of such arrangements. Ultimately “the style” of the wedding comes through, not the specifics. This is very similar to style trends in the fashion world. You can create a specific look with many different pieces as long as the colors, style and overall feel are the same. Be open-minded and trust your designer. And if you have all the money in the world, spend it on flowers. It’s worth it!

I hope you these tips and tricks help as you plan you big day! The special details are what make your wedding unique, but remember that your dream wedding does not have to burst your budget. Thanks for following along!

xoxo, Ali

Photography: Elyse Hall Photography | Wedding Planner: Imoni Events | Florist: Butterfly Petals | Florist: Butterfly Petals | Engagement Ring: Tivol | Hair and Makeup: BeGlammed | Black Jeans: Paige Denim | Blogger: A Dash of Details | Bracelets: J.Crew | Heels: Steven by Steve Madden | Heels: Manolo Blahnik | Linens: La Tavola | Outfit 1: White Top: Heidi Merrick | Outfit 2- Sweater Dress: Intermix | Paper And Design Studio: Page And Mason | Paper and Design Studio: Page and Mason | Watch: Michele

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Ali Bronska

Blogger Bride

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Arizona Desert Chic Spring Wedding

I can’t say I’ve ever dreamed of a desert-set wedding, but one look at this Scottsdale stunner from Jasmine Star and I instantly changed my tune. It’s a day where cactus mingles with delicate white florals and “rustic chic” is reinvented with an industrial-style spin. Pop to the gallery and don’t dare miss the film below from Serendipity Cinematography.

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Spring
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Rustic

From Jasmine StarColleen and Mark wanted an intimate destination wedding and chose the perfect location in the gorgeous Pinnacle Peak Mountains of Arizona. The reception was held at the Proof restaurant at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Colleen wanted something fun & modern but comfortable with the southwest twist. This antique industrial decorated restaurant already went perfectly witch what Colleen was looking for, all she had to do was add her own personal elegant style. Colleen and Mark recited their vows under a large tree with hanging antique light bulbs to add to the vintage atmosphere. At the end of the ceremony was a mix of antique and desert inspiration. Rustic & elegant wood boxes with the white floral were wrapped in burlap with touches of succulents for the desert look. The antique look was shown through vintage lanterns.

Colleen & Mark had hints of white floral that added a sophisticated charm to their Wedding. The ceremony had simple but clean floral at each end of the row with tulips hanging in mason jars. At the end of the aisle were large wood boxes filled with white flowers and touches of succulents inspired by the Arizona desert. Colleen’s gorgeous white bouquet was a mix of garden roses, tulips, ranunculus with a burlap ribbon and a touch of lace to add in a rustic appearance. The intimate reception had antique wood boxes with floral including hydrangea, ranunculus and touches of pussy willow. There were some single flower vintage vases with tulips dispersed across the reception. A country band that gave the reception the cherry on top of the sundae for her southwest vision wedding kicked off the party. My absolute favorite part of this whole night was that it was ended with Colleen & Mark dancing alone soaking in every moment of their special day.

Photography: Jasmine Star | Cinematographer: Serendipity Cinematography | Coordination: Victoria Canada Weddings & Events | Florist: Petal Pusher | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Jewelry: Chanel | Makeup: Stephanie Neiheisel | Band: Tennesee Whiskey | Ceremony Music: Sweetwater Strings | Wedding Venue: Four Seasons Scottsdale

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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Intimate Arizona Desert Garden Wedding

Accentuating Arizona’s gorgeous landscape, this Desert Botanical Garden affair is stunning to say the least. Lovely details like cacti centerpieces, vibrant Tatum Flowers bouquets, touches of gold, and the gorgeous herb garden perfectly contrast the simplicity of natural terrain. Pinkerton Photography was behind the lens snapping up a gallery that radiates warmth and love, right here!

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Fall
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Rustic

From Pinkerton PhotographyYesmina & Adam’s Desert Garden wedding was the perfect mix of gorgeous color & the simplicity of the desert – vibrant pinks & yellows set against the glowey green of the Botanical Garden & Herb Garden! Their aim was an intimate gathering for only their closest friends & family, most of whom would travel from afar, so accentuating Arizona’s gorgeous landscape seemed like the perfect idea. The cacti centerpieces, vibrant bouquets, touches of gold, and the gorgeous herb garden make up some of their lovely details. The day itself was as relaxed as can be, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard as I did with this crew. And I certainly have never before had a bride get down on her hands & knees (in her dress) to pick cacti spines out of my foot!! Excited to share this very unique day with you!

Photography: Pinkerton Photography | Wedding Gown: Annasul Y | Cupcakes: Urban Cookie Bake Shop | Bride's Shoes: Bette Mueller | Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Banana Republic | Catering: Arizona Taste | DJ: Ray The DJ | Groom's Shoes: Prada | Wedding Venue: Desert Botanical Garden Steele Herb Garden | Cacti Centerpieces: Baker Nursery | Foral Design: Tatum Flowers | Men's Suits: Jos A Bank | Ties & Suspenders: The Tie Bar

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Brideside + A Discount!

Let’s talk about bridesmaid dress shopping for a moment, shall we?  That weekend when you and your besties bop around trying to find that perfect gown that totally fits your vision AND looks great on every.single.girl in your bridal party.  It starts out as fun, but after the third salon, well, you know how it goes.  Enter Brideside, the online boutique that makes shopping for bridesmaids seriously easy and fun.

With Brideside, that amazing gown is right at your fingertips.  And by “fingertips,” I mean online and ready to be shipped directly to you at home to try on.  Think designers such as Joanna August, Watters, Alfred Angelo, Donna Morgan, Jenny Yoo (and more) in hundreds of gorgeous colors and styles.  That means one happy bridesmaid after another looking completely chic on the big day.  And don’t even get me started on the fabulous customer service.  Your Brideside stylist will work with you and your bridal party to find that dress that is everything you’ve ever wanted and ship the samples to you for a laid-back + totally stress-free girl’s day at home.

So what are you waiting for, loves?  Visit the Brideside website TODAY to get started with your personal stylist.  And don’t forget this exclusive discount for SMP readers: When you buy your bridesmaid dress in February, the first $20 is on Brideside!  Use discount code “SMP20″ at checkout. (Terms & Conditions: Cannot be combined with any past or future promotions. Readers must purchase bridesmaid dress at full price on or before 2/28/15. Offer does not apply to the following designers: Joanna August, Donna Morgan, Jenny Yoo.)

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Valentine Date Idea: Romantic Balloon Ride

Looking for a new and fun way to sweep your love one off their feet this Valentines day? What about a hot air balloon ride? I’m totally sold on the idea after spending some serious QT with these images from Ryann Lindsey Photography at Float Balloon ToursHoot & Holler whipped up a day that would make any day extra special, and there is even more inspiration here


From Hoot & HollerFour real couples got all dolled up for this romantic, styled shoot. We put together our dream Valentine’s Date with Float Balloon Tours. Your evening starts off by watching the breath-taking 80ft. balloon slowly inflate in the middle of the Arizona desert. Our couples sipped on locally roasted coffee from Cartel then piled into the balloon for a ride. After experiencing the gorgeous views of the Arizona landscape, guests indulged in a meal that had all of us drooling. Chef Bianco created the menu complete with a roasted beet galette, unwrapped tamales with grass-fed beef and locally grown and ground polenta, delicious tomato jam, a bright citrus salad, and fresh-pressed grapefruit mimosas. Dessert was provided by Chocolade Van Brugge; authentic liege waffles topped with gourmet Belgian chocolates. Each couple laughed and chatted as the sun set. Standard wax candles flickered on the table for some added ambiance.

Float Balloon tours is offering this incredible package for Valentine’s day this year. The sentiment is #overrussellstover and focuses on a truly intimate and unique Valentine’s day provided by the best Phoenix has to offer.

Photography: Ryann Lindsey Photography | Art Direction/Florist: Hoot & Holler | Balloon: Float Balloon Tours | Candles: Standard Wax | Coffee: Cartel Coffee Lab | Dinner: Pizzeria Bianco | Hair/Makeup: Nomadic Arte | Video: Jenkins Filmwork | Waffles/Chocolate: Chocolade Van Brugge | Wine: AZ Hops & Vines

Romantic Stonebridge Manor Wedding

If there’s one thing that pulls on my heartstrings like no other, it’s a Bride and Groom‘s expressions of love during their ceremony. It’s the melt-me-to-a-puddle-moment and queue the waterworks—yep, I’m that guest. And this stunning duo? They’ve filled this gallery from Elyse Hall Photography with plenty of beautiful expressions that will make you blush. See them all here.

Not only is my heart aching over this beautiful couple, but did you see this lush bouquet from Butterfly Petals?! You can almost smell the sweet blush roses and dahlias.

Soft, romantic tables draped in La Tavola linens made for a dreamy reception.

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Fall
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Rustic

From the beautiful Bride…Bernard and I met on the first day of high school through a mutual friend. Little did he know that I had called dibs on him days before at orientation when I saw him walk into the auditorium (I could not resist those eyes!). A few months later he asked me to the homecoming dance and the rest is history! We have now been together for eight years and survived four of long distance while he was at the Air Force Academy and I was at the University of Arizona. When it came to planning our wedding I had no idea what I was doing! Not to mention we both had just graduated right before he proposed and would be moving together to a small town in Mississippi to begin his pilot training, so all of my planning was done from across the country! Luckily, I had some amazing support and friends who had no qualms about FaceTiming me from random stores while shopping for wedding details.

As a couple we absolutely love being outdoors – so it was hard for us to imagine our wedding inside a traditional ballroom. We toured many different venues and became very discouraged that we were not going to find a place before our big move. On one of our last days in Arizona we went to Stonebridge Manor and once I saw the garden feel and bistro lighting I was sold. We always imagined an intimate, romantic wedding surrounded by greenery and soft lighting – once the sun went down it was truly breathtaking. The day was exhausting at the beginning because I was so worried that I had forgotten a huge detail and that all my planning and hard work would go to waste, but once my dad took my arm and I saw my husband smiling at me from the other end of the aisle, an emotional wave came swelling over me and I was the happiest I have ever been. We were surrounded by our closest friends and family, dancing and laughing, not wanting the night to end – our wedding was perfect in every way. Everyone kept saying, “Let’s do it again next weekend!”

Photography: Elyse Hall Photography | Videography: The Story Is Told | Bride's shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids' shoes: Steve Madden | Bridesmaids' dresses: ModCloth | Hair and makeup: Allison Pynn | DJ: Mike Mancini of Mancini Entertainment | Favors: HotRef.com | Reverend: Rich Stoffan | Wedding Venue: Stonebridge Manor | Bowties: Tux And Tulle | Bride's dress: Lillian Lottie Couture | Bride's ring: Shane Co. | Bride's robe: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmaids' jewelry: Francesca's Collections | Chair signs: Z Create Design | Floral: Butterfly Petals | Garter: Garter Queen | Groom's ring: Tiffany & Co | Guestbook: Bleu de Toi | Linens: La Tavola | Paper goods: Celebrations in Paper | Tuxedos: Men's Warehouse

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here