Post # 1
Sorry for the wall of text that’s about to come but I need some advice on what to do. I am having problems with my wedding planner ignoring my budget. While I am a really crafty person who has done some event planning, because I am a full time PhD student and I am not familar with the specifics of weddings, I decided it would save me a lot of stress to have someone there to help me along the way. Also, originally I was planning on getting married in my parents backyard, and I figured it would involve so much extra vendor coordination it would be easier to have a planner. I picked a mid-price planner for my area and things went great for the first few months. No issues with unresponsiveness, and she was very friendly and helpful. About 6 months in to our planning process (with a little under a year left until the wedding), my parents (who had been having issues for awhile) decide to file for divorce and sell their house. I had already settled on getting married in March (which is an insanely popular month in Phoenix for weddings) and so by the time it became clear that I had to find a venue almost all of the venues in town were booked. As my planner helped scramble to find somewhere for us I started to express concern that all the places we were looking at were going to put us over the budget I had constructed based on doing a backyard wedding. She kept assuring me it would be fine and when I showed her the numbers I was using she said I was over-estimating all of the costs. We signed a contract with a hotel in our area with me (stupidly) assuming the planner was right and everything else would still allow us to come in right at our budget.
Fast forward to six months later and we finally have all of the vendor quotes in (and several contracts signed) and it totals to $38,000 over the budget!!! I am livid. I have expressed concern at every step that this is all adding up to be too much and every time she has assured me that these numbers are starting off points and I should just sign the contracts to hold the vendor and we can negotiate costs down later. I asked her to send me to less expensive vendors and she has resisted every time. The florist she wants me to use gave me an initial quote of over $12,000!! I was not even asking for expensive flowers or elaborate centerpieces I just wanted some low candles and single buds in glass vases. I told her I was insulted by that high number and she assured me that I would not be able to find another cheaper florist.
After convincing my parents to increase the budget (based on the idea that we had set the initial budget assuming a backyard wedding and their divorce had caused us to move to a hotel where alcohol and food would be significantly more expensive), we are still $15,000 over based on the quotes. I am working with the venue on reducing food costs, and if we can do that, not get any flowers, have any rentals or provide favors we will be right at the new budget. The problem is I am not sure what do about my planner. She is not inexpensive and I have been paying her on a monthly plan (so she’s only half paid). I feel like it was completely unaccpetable for her to keep ignoring my very realy concerns about budget and pushing me towards these costly contracts (if she had her way we would be fully committed to the insane $88,000 price tag everything has added up to). I know it’s my fault for not managing things more closely but I feel like part of what a planner is supposed to provide is help sticking to a budget (since they have the expertise and should have a good idea of what is normal, what is over the top and what is a bargain). I feel like since she knew my budget from day 1, she should have been counseling me on things like “oh hey, that photographer is sort of out of your price range so if you really want them, keep in mind that you won’t have much left to get a fancy altar” or “Okay here are some sparkly linens for the tables but keep in mind they add up fast so maybe only use one for the cake table and use the hotel linens for the rest”. Should I fire her and save the last half of her fee (so that I can get at least some flowers or centerpieces)? I’m still 6 months out so I have time to think but after getting the barrage of insane quotes from vendors today I am furious. Any advice would be appreciated!
Post # 2
I’m not sure how large your budget is, but you still have enough time to plan things on your own from the sound of it.
The flower quote sounds INSANELY expensive, so I can only imagine what else is overpriced.
Post # 3
LexC2112: You need a come to jesus with her. Stat. And if you still aren’t aligned after the chat, tell her that unfortunately, you are 100% committed to your wedding vision, which does not include going massively over budget.
You hired her for her professionalism and expertise, and in my opinion, it’s massively unprofessional to misrepresent one’s expertise. To save your budget, you’ve made the tough decision of moving forward only with vendors who add the value within your budget. Unfortunately, she does neither as well as consistently ignore your concerns. This is unacceptable. Unacceptable.
Do you have a backup wedding planner or an experienced bridesmaid who can step up while you look for another planner?
Post # 4
Maybe she gets kick backs from her friend vendors she refers. I would consider firing her or at least tell her how you are considering it- 30k over your budget is INSANE. 30k IS a good budget! You can def plan a nice wedding on that. Hell 5-6k is enough for very nice flowers!!
Post # 5
jenilynevette: I know the flower quote was absolutely insane! I literally cried when I got it and then the planner tried to talk me into signing the contract anyways. I feel like she must be getting a kickback from some of these vendors. She is working off a flat fee (from me) so there shouldn’t be this incentive to get me to go over budget.
Our budget was $50,000 but we have since increased it to $75,000 (my parents are….displeased but I guess better it go to a wedding than lawyers fees for their divorce) for a 180 person wedding (we invited 200 but I am super hopeful that at least 20 people decline because otherwise we are in trouble). I am just so frustrated that I’ve sunk all this money into a planner and if I fire her I feel like it’s all really a waste. I am fine ignoring further suggestions from her and DIYing my own centerpieces (I wanted thrift store decanters and vintage books anyways, not elaborate floral things). I just don’t know if I should keep her around to still do day of coordination. Now that most of the vendors are booked I’m not sure how much budget damage she can do.
Post # 6
Honestly at this point (if talking to her does not or has not worked) I think it might just be best to cut your loses. It seems like you have a good handle on things so far and she has already forced you to do more leg work than you were initially planning from the sounds of things. She should not be going so far over your budget, she is a professional and that is ridiculous!
Post # 7
MrsBuesleBee: I KNOW I know it is my fault for letting it happen but I feel like she should have been giving me more direction. Every time I expressed concern she just kept assuring me that she works with brides on all different kinds of budgets and we can make it work. Thank god the hotel venue is still willing to work with me to go way under the initially quoted menu price (which was already $20 per head under what they list in their brochure).
I think she has to be getting some sort of kickback because why else would she push these vendors so hard that are so clearly out of my budget?
Post # 8
- Wedding: November 2014 - 11/15/14-Vineyard
Hell no would I put up with that crap. Sorry, you don’t negotiate costs after contracts are signed, she lied to you and now that YOU signed, you are under obligation, unless you cancel and forego the deposits. Do not proceed with anything further!
Talk to her sternly. Tell her only once more… This number (insert original budget number here) IS YOUR BUDGET!! She has far surpassed that and you will do nothing further with her until SHE finds a way to cut costs NOW to be within your budget!
If after the fact she does not, review your contract with her stating the budget and tell her her services will be terminated, you will be giving her negative review on each and every thing her name is affiliated with and a lawyer will be contacting her. Then try and recoup your costs incurred.
Post # 9
bitsybee: I just emailed her an excel spreadsheet with all of the prices from the signed contracts and quotes and told her we needed to meet to discuss how on earth everything wound up coming in that far over budget. Part of why I didn’t notice just how dire it was right away was because I didn’t pay attention to some of the crazy taxes and gratutities that were built into some of the contracts (our venue alone is going to wind up getting almost $10,000 in automatic gratuity). Still, I feel like as a professional she shoudl have known a rough amount to build into the budget for things like that and warned me.
I have a bridesmaid and my mom’s best friend who I think would be willing to step up for day of coordination if I do in fact fire her.
Post # 10
MrsTtoB: Thanks for the reassurance. I was so upset when I got the last couple contracts this morning but my parents were trying to tell me I was overreacting and it was my fault for not managing things (which it was– I really should not have trusted my planner apparently).
The majority of the cost is the venue (which I expressed concern that it was our of my price range from day one) and really the only other things (that somehow magically add up to $88k??) are the photographer, DJ, hair and makeup people and my dress. I am already designing my own invitations and printing them at Staples, I did my own website, we are having my fiance’s dad as the officiant and we are having friends of our conductor friend do the ceremony music. Again, thank god the venue made it clear today that they are really willing to work with us on bringing the per head cost down.
Post # 11
Part of the problem may be that you’re not saying No to her when she brings you an over-budget option. You said “my budget is $X” and she presents you an option that is clearly over the budget and you sign for it anyway. Despite setting a budget, you’re giving her a conflicting message, and the impression that you’re willing to increase the budget anytime. Have a sit-down with her. Tell her what your budget is, show her all the places you’ve gone over, ask her to help you get your costs back into a more reasonable range (more in line with your budget) and tell yourself that if she brings you any quothe that’s more that 10% over what you’d originally allocated! you’re going to reject it flat out. People do what you show them they can do, and while I don’t know if her motives are greed/higher commission or she just wants to put together an amazing super-fancy wedding, it does sound like you’ve set the precedent that it’s okay for her to spend your money lavishly.
Post # 12
LexC2112: That is INSANE! I was quoted $4000 for my wedding (in reality, it was $900 since I used silk flowers instead), and that included 20 taller centerpieces plus bouquets for me and 4 BMs, and literally hundreds of rose petals for the flower girls to throw around. For $12K, your flowers must be spitting out gold or something!
I would cut your losses with the wedding planner – (sorry if this is a repeat questions) have you paid her in full yet? Most planners/DOCs only require a deposit up until a week or two before the event date. If you haven’t, I would just cut her out and blast her on every social site possible. It’s extremely unprofessional for a planner to disregard your budget like that. (I ended up going 15k over my original budget, but I made a concious choice to do so!)
Post # 13
Horseradish: I agree that part of the problem is that I did not put my foot down. I have told her repeatedly that I am concerned about the budget but I haven’t really said stop and I did agree to contracts with vendors based on her assurances that it would be okay. A huge part of the problem is that I trusted that she knew better than I did and let her keep going down this path of lavishness.
I have refused to sign contracts with the past several vendors (floral, rentals and linens) but the damage was mostly done when we went with the hotel venue that was just way out of our budget (the second contract we signed after our photographer). The contract we signed had a minimum that was within our budget, but the reality of alcohol costs, food costs and service costs mean that at 180 people we are nowhere near the minimum in the contract (and when you add in the 24% gratuity we are wayyy over). But you are right, this is my fault for not being very clear with her early on and saying know to the venue when my suspicion was that it was outside our price range.
I do wonder if it is kickbacks, or its just that she’s so used to having brides who don’t really have a budget that it’s hard for her to reign it in (she regularly does weddings that cost in the $120,000 range).
Post # 14
bphi163: I haven’t fully paid her yet. I’ve been paying her fee in monthly installments so we’re about half paid. I am going to talk to her and see if we can get on the same page about budget.
And the absolute insane thing about the flowers is I asked for really simple stuff. I wanted single buds (of an inexpensive flower — I believe my exact words were “the cheapest flower you can get that isn’t a carnation” ) in simple vases and some succulents and cacti in low bowls for some of the tables. I was really clear I wanted low, simple centerpieces since I don’t care a ton about florals and wanted that to be the lowest priority item in the budget. They are also charging a $2000 delivery fee. I know flowers are crazy but I never expected it to be $12,000 crazy!
Post # 15
LexC2112: what the heck… no and no and no. I worked with one of the top planners in my region who usually work with budgets way, WAY bigger than mine, but they kept me pretty much on-budget! And when we went over, it was usually a very reasonabel explanation (i.e. I just didn’t know how much things cost for my expectations). At the end of the day we had some surprises, but never went over my $30K wedding budget. I think your planner just does not KNOW any vendors that are more in the price range of your budget, she is just pulling $120K-style vendors with you, and that is her doing you a HUGE disservice. I would just start looking for vendors on your own at this point.