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How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion – Part 2 & 3

(click here to read Part 1)

Part 2:  The Rest of the Reception—DJs-Décor-Music

 

There is more to a wedding reception than just the venue and the food and beverage.  Regardless of where you get married you will spend money on wedding flowers, djs/bands, photography, and your wedding cake if it isn’t included in the catering package.

This week I read a blog, called “How to have a wedding for $5,000.”  I won’t include that link as I thought it was pretty foolish.  It is easy to brag about how inexpensive your wedding was when half of the services were donated by friends and you fed your guests from a food truck. [Don’t get me wrong I like food trucks, but it isn’t my idea of a wedding.] I will adhere to the philosophy that you get what you pay for—unless all your friends donating services are wedding professionals.

 

MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT: 

I reached out to a DJ this week and asked him to send me some bullet points on what separates the great DJs from the neophytes that are happy to do your wedding for $600.  The best DJs:

  • Know what to play and when. An experienced DJ has the ability to read the crowd and know when things need to be changed. Crucial decisions are made every 2 to 3 minutes – “Will this song work?” – He/she needs to be able to mix out of it quickly if it doesn’t.

 

  • An experienced DJ is not thrown by last minute changes and recognizes that although a timeline is helpful, a wedding timeline is fluid and an experienced DJ is ready at a moment’s notice to switch things up.

 

  • Confidence on the mic. A good DJ is comfortable addressing a crowd and has the ability to pronounce difficult names.  Imagine paying someone who can’t pronounce your name.

 

  • An experienced, professional DJ knows how to work as a team with the coordinator, catering staff, photographer, videographer and any other professionals. For example, a DJ should never announce a spotlight moment (cake cutting, parent dance, etc.) without first making sure the entire vendor team is ready to capture and/or participate.

 

  • A professional will have a backup plan in place (paid on-call DJ, backup song library, backup gear) and should never shy away from answering that question immediately without hesitation.

 

  • A professional will know where the spotlight belongs – on the wedding couple, NOT the DJ themselves. Guests, family and friends come to celebrate the married couple, NOT to come see the DJ.

 

  • Experience with the venue – especially important with a unique space such as the Wadsworth Mansion. Does the DJ know what’s needed and does he/she own the appropriate equipment to properly provide sound/services in multiple indoor and outdoor spaces?

 

When selecting a DJ, the price is going to be based on how many hours their services are needed. Packages begin at 5 hours as that is the standard reception length.  Adding music  or microphones for the ceremony extends the time.

DJs also provide other services, such as interior and exterior lighting of the venue, specialty lighting for dancing, and fog machines.

For budgeting purposes, if you are planning on hiring a truly professional DJ, plan to spend between $2,000 -$2,700 for 6 hours of DJ services.  If you add lighting expect to spend another $1,000.

 

 

FLOWERS

I think one of the hardest part about flowers at a wedding is that not all flowers are created equal.  Flowers aren’t sold by the pound, they are sold by the stem and some stems are more expensive than others.  [Peonies, Ranunculus, Protea, Orchids, and Garden Roses are some of the more expensive flowers.] Using local seasonal flowers don’t necessarily make arrangements less expensive unless the florist has access to flowers in someone’s yard, and then they most likely would not be able to provide the amount of flowers needed.

The second hardest part about budgeting for flowers is  knowing what you need.  The more attendants at your wedding the more bouquets and boutonnières you will need.  The more guests that you have, the more centerpieces that are required.   Don’t forget parents, grandparents, the flower girl or ring bearer.  That is just for starters, how about:  arches, chair arrangements/bows, mantles, garlands, cake florals, bathrooms, bars, console tables/altar.  It is enough to make you put your head in a spin.

Do tell the florist your color palette for the wedding.  Do tell the florist what flowers you like.  It is great to hand your florist a picture you found on Pinterest as an example of your style or color palette, but if you ask the florist to duplicate it you may be shocked at the price. The arrangement could have been created for a photo shoot where the budget is limitless—and isn’t expected to be duplicated 15 times!  Do give the florist some latitude when purchasing flowers.  The blush roses may not look that fresh when the florist is at the market and on the other hand, there may be something stunning that will make your bouquets a knockout.  In most cases, your experienced floral decorator will be able to guide you to the best look to fit your budget.

 

I have included a table of pricing from two florists on our list.

 

Floral Piece Florist 1 Florist 2
Bouquets $175-$300 $150-$300
Bridesmaids Bouquets $100+ $75-$125
Boutonnieres $18+ $15
Corsage-pin on $25+ $25.00
Corsage-wrist $35+ $25.00
Pew/Chair bows $30/pair
Low Centerpieces $65+ $75+
High Centerpieces $150+ $200
Garland $40/ft.
Cake Topper $35+
 Cake Florals $45+
Arch $200+ $500+
Rose petals $150+
Mantles $100-$300

 

For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit:  Here

 

Yes, you can go to Stop and Shop (a local  supermarket) for wedding flowers, however they are not generally full service, which means you have to pick up & set up and who has time for that on the most important day of your life!?  I tried to get pricing, but couldn’t get through to them.  [That may say it all.]  You’ll get what you pay for as a talented florist has a great sense of color and design and will make your wedding truly elegant.

 

If you have 5 bridesmaids, 5 groomsmen, 15 tables, 1 bride who loves flowers, 4 parents and two grandmothers, an arch, and two decorated mantles you can expect to spend around $4,000.

 

For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit:  Here

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHERS

 

Like DJs, photographers are selling time and talent. The price for wedding photography depends on multiple elements:

  1. The number of photographers covering your event—one or two.
  2. How many hours the photographer(s) will be covering your event: Is it from the time you start getting dressed in the morning until the party is swinging on the dance floor or some shorter timeframe?
  3. How the photos are being edited. Is the photographer editing the photos or are they being sent out?
  4. What the photographer provides after the event: Is it a flash drive, one album, or ala carte services?
  5. The creativity and technical expertise of the photographer.

Items one and two are easily quantifiable, not so much with items three, four, and five.

Talent is the most important differentiator between photographers. In the last fifteen years with the rise of digital cameras and software to edit pictures, the number of wedding photographers grew tremendously. Almost anyone could become a part time wedding photographer. The industry went into a tizzy.  Talented photographers were being undercut by the novices and there wasn’t much they could do without sounding resentful.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really talented newcomers entering the field that offer lower pricing to build a business.  We have all done that.  What I saw, was a lot of not so talented or experienced people who don’t understand lighting and composition taking some bad pictures. By the way, there are no do overs over your wedding photos.

The good news, is that it is so easy to view a photographer’s work.  They all have websites with lots of pictures.  Check out their social media platforms.  Ask to see an album.

To understand the value of the proposal consider:

  • Is an engagement session included? An engagement session is not just about capturing your engagement.  It offers the photographer the opportunity to develop a relationship with you.  The more comfortable you are with the photographer on the day of your wedding the more natural you will look in your photos.

 

  • There is a big difference in quality between the companies producing your albums.

 

  • Ask about the experience and training of the photographer. Ask about the experience of the second shooter.   How many years have they been in the industry?  What is their training and prior work experience?

 

  • Ask yourself, is this photographer going to enhance your day, or just take pictures? A great photographer, because their ‘eye’ is omniscient, can assist in making the day run smoothly.  They can see things before they happen.  They calm nerves.  They assist the other vendors.

 

  • Lastly, is the photographer easy to be around? After all, it is easier to smile at the camera if you like the person behind the lens.

 

This link will take you to an article about selecting photographers.  https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-photography-getting-started

 

For budgeting purposes you can obtain two photographers for six hours for about $4,300.  The range for a more experienced photographer with tremendous talent and breadth in their portfolio is $5,000-$7,000.

 

 

Part 3:  The Rest of Your Day

 

If you think your budgeting is complete, don’t forget that before you walk down the aisle you will have sent out invitations, obtained your marriage license [$50.] You will have purchased wedding rings, gifts for your attendants and a gift for your beloved.  You will have had your hair done and make up professionally applied.   [$350].  Of course let’s not forget your favorite purchases: your wedding, dress, wedding shoes, jewelry, and veil/tiara.  [I am not even going there!] Don’t forget the groom if you are sharing this budget!

Embellishing your wedding will be a guest book, place cards, toasting flutes, cake cutting service.  You may have opted for:

  • Horse Drawn Carriage Entrance $1,000
  • Live ceremony/cocktail musicians $550 for two  [May have a deduct from the DJ]
  • Photobooth $800-$1,000
  • Videographer
  • Fireworks $3,500-$5,000
  • Tent                                                                 $4,000 [Includes liner and sides]

 

The Knot recently provided an informative graphic as a visual for the cost of weddings across North America.  You can check out the full article here.

 

 

I hope this post has helped. It is only met to be a guideline for creating a budget. I am sure that there are vendor professionals who may cost less than I indicated.   I always tell brides and grooms to focus on the things that are the most important to them.  The most important aspect about hosting a wedding is not about how much money is spent, but how the love that is shared between two people is conveyed to their families and friends.  Have fun planning and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion — Part 1

As the Executive Director of the Wadsworth Mansion and twenty six years of hosting weddings, I have watched couples navigate the complexity of wedding planning.  At least once a day a bride will ask us, ‘How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion?’ The short answer is to quote our rental rates of $5,500 for a Friday/Sunday wedding and $6,000 for a Saturday wedding, but in reality what the bride really wants to know is how we compare to our competition and whether a Wadsworth Mansion wedding is affordable.  The response to that question is much more complex because we offer our couples the opportunity to select from a list of caterers that vary in price point and style.  In this blog post I hope to enlighten the couple who has never planned an event before.

 

Location:  The Mansion

The Mansion rental rates are based on the day of the week, $5,500 for a Friday or Sunday, and $6,000 for a Saturday.  No tax is applied to the rental rate.  If you wish to purchase extra time, it is $750/hour.   [Always needed for Indian Weddings] If you hire a caterer from our Approved List no extra fees are assessed.  Couples do have to purchase Liquor Liability Insurance and that generally runs about $135.  There is no fee for having your ceremony here, or using our ceremony chairs.  If your rehearsal transpires during our work day there is no fee for a rehearsal.

If you were creating a budget the amount allocated for the Wadsworth Mansion should be $6,135 dollars for a Saturday wedding [$5,635 for a Friday/Sunday].

 

Food and Beverage:

Your food and beverage costs depend on how many people you are having at your wedding and what you are eating.  When a caterer presents a proposal there is a food cost and a staffing cost.  Some of our caterers, to make it easy, will just quote a per person cost, but when quoting, they have always calculated the two components.    Some caterers will present a food cost and a labor cost.  When figuring out what the bottom line is for food and beverage always ask if and where the service charge is added.  Service charges can run up to 22% for the higher end caterers. Sometimes it is applied just to the food component, sometimes to the whole package. Tax is 6.35% in Connecticut.

 

Don’t be embarrassed to say that you have a budgeted amount for food and beverage.  If you are on a budget, the way to save money is to select a menu with lower food costs.  [Don’t ask for filet mignon, lobster tails, and a sushi bar.]  Don’t be embarrassed when a caterer presents a proposal to ask if there are ways to save money.  Substitutions can always be made.  It is not necessarily cheaper to have food stations rather than a plated dinner as the caterer has to supply enough food for all the guests to sample everything and keep the stations presentable throughout the serving period.  Staffing is not something you can negotiate.

 

Some caterers will include linens and place settings in their proposals. Some own their own linens and place settings, others will make arrangements for rentals.  Generally if linens and place settings are included the price per person is lower than if the caterer has to procure those items through a rental company.

When selecting a caterer it isn’t just about money; it is about value. There generally is a reason why things cost more. Here are some questions to ask a caterer to understand the value of the proposal:

  • How experienced are your wait staff?
  • What do they wear?
  • Is someone assigned to attend the bride and groom?
  • Is there someone greeting guests at the door?
  • Is all the food made in house?
  • How are your stations presented?
  • What isn’t included? [If you have never been in the business, you won’t recognize what isn’t included so ask.]

 

All the caterers on our Approved Catering list are good.  We wouldn’t let a caterer work here who isn’t doesn’t provide good food and service.  They represent different price points and styles.  For planning purposes we have a caterer that begins $85.00 plus tax.  This fee includes food, staffing, full open bar, linens and place settings.  They would say that on an average their clients spend $100 pp plus tax.  Their high end is $150 pp. [short rib/sea bass/sushi bar served under a tent in the back lawn].

For budgeting purposes you must budget at least $90.00 per person for food and beverage. [This is all inclusive:  food, beverage, bar, linens, place settings, service, tax and service charge.] It is more realistic to start at $110 per person when creating your budget.

In my next blog I’ll write about flowers, music, and photography, as there is more to a wedding than just the venue and a delicious meal.  When finished I’ll share my niece’s budget as she is getting married here in August.

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NEWLYWED QUICK 10: Susan & Christopher

Spouses   Susan & Christopher

Wedding Date   June 24, 2016

 

  1.  Length of engagement:  11 months, 20 days
  2.  3 adjectives to describe wedding vision:  classy, elegant, unique
  3.  Most challenging vendor to find/hire:  cocktail hour music
     How close to wedding were they hired? 2 months before
  4. Ceremony location:  our church, St. Mary Star of the Sea in Unionville, CT
  5. Most surprising thing:  How quickly the day went…what a blur!
  6. Standout memory:  our first dance
  7. Would you change anything?  Chris: I would have invited more people.  Sue: I would have organized our picture taking time better and had people show up for the reception a little later.
  8. Wedding hashtag?  not really, kind of #chrisandsuesayido
  9. Guests couldn’t stop talking about:  how beautiful and breathtaking the venue was
  10. Advice for future couples in 125 characters or fewer:  Make sure you take time to consciously enjoy the day and take it all in. It goes SO quickly and you will remember very little. Enjoy yourself, relax, and don’t sweat the small stuff!

|| Catering:  David Alan Hospitality Group || Photography:  Val McCormick Photography || Flowers:  It’s So Ranunculus || Ceremony Music:  Bronwyn Burns Violin Studio || Music:  Alpha Waves DJs || Hotel:  Radisson Hotel Cromwell || Transportation:  Liberty Limousine ||

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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NEWLYWED QUICK 10: Becca & Kate

Spouses     Becca and Kate

Wedding Date     August 12, 2016

 

  1.  Number of venues considered  3 (Wadsworth – always our #1, Eolia Mansion, Branford House)
  2.  Number of guests  180
  3.  3 adjectives to describe your dress/attire  Classic, romantic, elegant
    Repairs or dry cleaning post-wedding?  both dresses cleaned and preserved for our future daughters to choose from
  4.  First look?  Yes! On the front steps with our bridesmaids peeking out
  5.  Goldilocks your party: too much, not enough, just right  Just right
  6.  Ceremony location  Back lawn [vista]
  7.  Most surprising thing  How seamlessly everything happened. There was no stress as the night went on, only killer dance moves.
  8.  Standout memory  Both of our dads’ toasts – there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd
  9.  Honeymoon when/where?  2 days after the wedding to Riviera Maya, Mexico
  10.  Would you change anything?  Pray to the temperature gods sooner for a slightly cooler day 🙂 (it was the 2nd hottest day of 2016!!!

 

|| Catering:  David Alan Hospitality Group || Photography:  George Brooks || Flowers:  Terri Krisavage Wedding & Event Florals || Ceremony Music:  Mike Carnaroli || Music:  DJ Derek Egerman || Officiant: Sara Anderson || Hotel:  Inn at Middletown || Transportation:  Gateway Limousine ||

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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