Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Plan your budget for a Santorini Wedding!

Santorini is probably one of the most popular destination wedding locations. The unique view of the caldera, the beautiful sunsets, the white houses hanging from the cliffs, the famous churches with the blue domes -those are the things that make a wedding in Santorini quite memorable and the wedding pictures amazing. I completely understand why so many people choose Santorini for their destination wedding. But what about the cost of all that?

As mentioned in the previous post, the first and most important step is to set up a budget for your wedding. One important detail to remember is that the more guests you are having, the bigger your budget should be, so plan wisely. The good news are that Santorini is considered to be a rather economical choice for having a wedding, in comparison to other countries, as I’ve been informed from a number of different couples I had the pleasure to work with. Having that in mind, and wishing to help couples out there, I decided to write an article about how much does a wedding cost in Santorini. Of course, those will be just rough estimations, but I hope they will be enough to give you an idea of how much you should set aside for your dream day.

So, where to begin? Well, I would strongly recommend hiring a wedding planner to help you plan everything in Santorini. The main reason is that most venues are closed during winter and most vendors are away on vacation during that, which means that even if you visit the island, for example, in February, you won’t be able to see the venues and meet the providers. Your wedding planner, on the other hand, has been to the various wedding venues of the island, and worked with the service providers of the island, and will be able to make the better suggestions for you. The cost of a wedding planner varies, but an average fee can be anywhere between 1.000 euro -2.000 euro. Of course, you can find a planner that will ask for less than that, and a planner who will ask for more.

The price of a wedding venue depends on the venue itself and whether you wish to book the location for a ceremony-only or a ceremony and reception. An average rental fee for a ceremony-only starts from around 400 euro with a rental fee duration of 1 hour or 1,5 hours. Keep in mind the time limitations of each venue, when booking just the ceremony, as some venues only allow morning and early afternoon reservations for a ceremony-only event. For a ceremony and reception, the prices start from around 2.000 euro and get up to 2.800 euro or more, this not including food and drinks, as those will be at an extra cost. Another option for a wedding reception is having it at a restaurant, as some of them have special private or semi-private halls for such purposes, which they offer with little or no rental fee, depending on the number of guests attending. This option is perfect for those, who wish to save some money on rental fees.

When having a reception, there is always food and drinks for you and your guests… obviously! This is probably the most expensive part of the wedding. In Santorini the average price for a food and drinks will be around 150 – 200 euro per person. It can be less and it can be more. Some factors that can influence the price are your food choices, for example fish is more expensive than meat, so this will definitely increase the cost of your wedding should you decide to serve salmon to your guests. Another factor would be the choice between buffet and sit-down menu; at most venues sit-down menus are less expensive than buffet menus, whereas when having a catering it will be more expensive to have a sit-down menu. When it comes to drinks, you will usually have a number of different open-bars to choose from. Naturally, the bigger the variety of the drinks included in the open-bar, the higher the price. How to better choose a menu and an open-bar for your wedding reception and party will be discussed in a different article in the near future.

You should also not forget about wedding photography and wedding videography, the prices for which range between 2.500 euro and 3.500 euro for a full day, always depending on the professional that you will choose. The price increases if you want to have two or more photographers and videographers on the day of your wedding, as well as if you plan to have a pre-wedding or an after-day photoshoot and/or videoshoot. It is good to discuss the prices with the chosen wedding photographer and wedding videographer. Don’t forget to look at each photographer’s and videographer’s portfolio before making any down payments.

There are also the extra services that you should calculate. One really important extra service that you definitely should include in your wedding budget is the transportation for the guests. Santorini, even though small, is a tricky island and people get lost easily. Moreover, it is extremely hard to find parking spots, so even if your the guests arrive with their rented cars at the wedding location, there is no guarantee that they will find where to leave the cars. Buses for your guests are a necessary expense if you plan to have your destination wedding in Santorini. The final cost of that depends on the number of guests you will be having, how many buses and what types will be required, and the times of the transfers; after midnight transfers are more expensive, as well as transfers with multiple pickup and dropdown points. The minimum you should start with is 300 euro for a 20 seat Mercedes Sprinter mini-bus to take you guests to and from the wedding venue.

There are also other extra services, which should be decided after all the other necessary services have been calculated. Those services are live music (prices starting from 300 – 400 euro), fireworks (starting price around 500 euro), plate smashing (calculate 1 – 1.5 euro per plate), Greek traditional dancers (around 400-500 euro for 1 hour) etc. It would be recommended setting a budget for such extra services, so you could have a better idea of what you can afford. Setting aside at least 1.500 euro for the entertainment and beauticians should be a good start. Set a priority list to better choose which extra services you need the most.

In case you will be having a civil ceremony, there will be all the legal fees which you should keep in mind. Along with the Apostille stamps, document translations, the fees required for the wedding in Santorini, the total should be around 500 euro. The Apostille stamp price differs from country to country, but from the information I have collected so far, it is between 30 - 50 euro in most countries.

Last, but not least, major influence on your wedding budget will be the decorations. There are so many things to consider: flower types, flower colors, floral composition sizes, non-floral decorations as the invitations, the menus, the tablecloths, the napkins, chair decorations, candles, sweet table, wish table, you name it! All those things affect the final cost of your wedding. It is really hard to tell how much the decorations will cost, as this is totally up to you. Still, you can at least know what the minimum required cost will be. The bridal bouquets start from around 80 euro, the floral centerpieces start from around 100 euro. The decorations for the gazebo start approximately from 500 euro, and you can always use the ceremony decorations at the reception to cut down costs. As for the non-floral decorations, again, it is almost impossible to guess the cost. Again, as with the extra services, I would suggest having a separate budget for the decorations, for example set 2.000 euro which will be only for the decorative items and flowers. This way, you will know your limit and will make better decisions.

And of course, the wedding cake! Almost forgot about that. As with everything else, the cost of the wedding cake has to do with the number of guests and the design. If you want to calculate the price per person, it will be at approximately at 4 euro per person, always having in mind a simple white cake. The price will also be affected by the design of the cake and the decoration of the cake. If you want to have edible flowers on the cake, for example, the final result might end up quite pricy, but of course worth it!!

Have an “emergency budget”! What’s that? Well, that is term that I use to call a separate sum, set by you of course, which will cover any unexpected expenses that might occur. It can be 500 euro, 1000 euro, 1.000.000 euro, your choice. From my experience, if your “emergency budget” is equal to the 10% of the main budget, you should be all right.

Ok, the above are just general information, and most of you are probably angry that you still don’t have a clear idea of how much the wedding will cost. You will have to understand, that the final price purely depends on your wishes and desires. But to be fair, I will give you a more practical example. For a good, stylish but minimal wedding for 50 persons, your budget should be around 25.000 – 30.000 euro. Those numbers are for an all-inclusive wedding: wedding photography, wedding videography, venue fee, food and drinks for everyone, transportation for the guests, transportation for the bride and groom, beautiful decorations for the ceremony and reception, some sort of simple but nice entertainment, wedding cake and legal fees. The wedding dress, suite, accommodation and flights should be calculated extra.

As always, I hope the above information will be helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or message me. I wish you a good day or a good night, depending at which part of the world you are!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to plan a wedding

How to start planning a wedding? Where to begin? What are the most important services that need to be booked first? What are the deadlines to have everything booked? Those are probably the first questions that pop into the heads of those who start planning a wedding for the first time. Those were the questions that popped into my head! I still remember that panic attack I got when I booked my very first wedding. Thankfully, as I realized with time and experience, wedding planning is not as hard as it seems, as long as you are organized and take the whole process step by step.

Whether you decide to have a wedding planner, or you’ll plan the whole wedding on your own, the following 10 steps will seem helpful and will make the whole process less scary and stressful.

Step 1: Budget!

As boring and surprising as it may sound, the first and most important step is no other than setting a budget for your wedding. You should have a minimum and a maximum amount that you wish to spend. By setting a budget, it will be much easier for you to choose appropriate wedding venues, decide on the final number of guests that you will invite, organize the decorations and the entertainment. The minimum sum which you shall set should be sufficient to cover the absolutely necessary services for the wedding, like the wedding dress, the suit for the groom, wedding venue, bridal bouquet, photographer, food and drinks etc. The difference between the maximum and the minimum amounts, will be your “headroom” for the extra services, such as extra decorations, what kind of entertainments you will have, how many different menus you will be able to have, what kind of open bar etc.

Step 2: Date & Guests

The next step would be deciding on the wedding date. It doesn’t need to be a certain date; an approximate date will do just fine. You will probably have to adjust the date according to the availability of the liked venue and wedding planner. At his point, you should also prepare a possible guest list for your wedding. Keep in mind, that the more guests you will have, the bigger your budget should be. 

Step 3: The 3 W’s – Wedding planner, Wedding date, Wedding Venue

Now is the time to decide whether or not you will book a wedding planner or not. Click here, if you need help with this decision. The wedding planner will help you settle on a final date for your wedding, as well as offer advice on the most suitable wedding venue for you. Once you have decided which wedding planner to book, the final date of your wedding (don’t forget to book the Officiant!), and on the wedding venue, you can make all the reservations. 

You can finally send the RSVP’s!!

The best time to book the wedding planner, wedding date and wedding venue is approximately 1,5 years before the wedding. This will give you enough time to think about the rest of the services. 

Step 4: Photography and Videography

Probably, no longer than 2 months have passed since you’ve started planning your wedding. You have settled on a budget, you have found yourself a wedding planner and wedding venue for the date you wish to marry, you have booked the Officiant for the ceremony, and some first RSVP’s replies have arrived. What's next? 

Usually at this point I recommend choosing a photographer and a videographer for your wedding. Should you have a wedding planner, you can consult with him or her on your best options. If not, then you can make a research on the internet, simply by typing “Wedding Photography”. Take some time to browse through their portfolios and choose your favorite. When you find the professionals that you like the most, contact them and book them. 

The best time to book a wedding photographer and a wedding videographer, is between a year to 9 months before the wedding, as you have better chances finding them available on your wedding day. 

Step 5: Book all the humans!!!

After booking and photo and video for your wedding, you should think about any other services you might need that are performed by people. By that I mean any live musicians, the DJ, the hairstylist and makeup artist, a wedding MC, jugglers etc. Any service that is performed by a live human being needs to be booked as soon as possible, just to be sure that you will find them available for your wedding day. It would be really frustrating if a month before the wedding you suddenly realized that there is no hairstylist available for your wedding day. 

Step 6: Flowers

The phrase “the earlier the better” applies to everything when it comes to planning a wedding, including the floral decoration. Don’t worry though if you haven’t yet thought about the flowers and other decorations. As a rule, starting to plan this part 6 months before the wedding, will still give you plenty of time to get what you wish for. Choose a color theme for your wedding, spend some time looking for ideas, discuss your options with your wedding planner or find a good florist to consult with. My recommendation would be having a rough idea of what flower decorations you will need around 4 months before the wedding day, and having the final floral decorations 2 months before the wedding. 

All your non floral decorations should be ordered in advance, so you could have them at your house at least 2 -3 months before the wedding. This will leave you enough time return anything that ended up not being to your liking, or change those items that ended up arriving broken. 

I would also recommend having chosen a wedding dress by now. 

Step 7: Cake and sweets

Choose a wedding cake in advance as well. Arrange a cake tasting if you wish, think about the design and the flavor of the cake. If you want to have a sweet table, think about the sweets you will be using for it and order them. 

Step 8: Food and drinks

Around 4 months before the wedding, you should start thinking about the menus, so you could have them finalized the later 2 months before the wedding. The same period you should have a final number of guests attending, which will make it easier for you to decide on food and drinks. As with the cake, you can arrange a cake tasting with the venue or the catering company you will be using. If possible, offer a couple of different food options for your guests. Choose an open bar wisely! If your friends and family like to party and drink, then have a full open bar, at least for the party. If you and your guests are moderate drinkers, provide at least unlimited wine and soft drinks. 

Step 9: Final details

2 months should be left for your wedding. Everything and everyone has been properly booked. The hardest part is finally over. This would be a great moment to give yourself a couple of days without any wedding thoughts, just to relax a little bit. After the “short vacation” double-check one more time if you have everything ready. Don’t forget about the final details: prepare the sitting plan, arrange the transportation for the guests, prepare the playlist for the DJ, think about your vows, prepare your wedding day schedule, go to a nice spa. 

Step 10: Wedding day

This is the easiest, but at the same time the scariest moment for most couples. It is time to share your eternal vows and unite two families together. Enjoy the results of your hard work. If some minor things don’t go according to plan, try not to stress it too much, instead go to the dance floor and have a great time!! You certainly deserve it! 

I hope those 10 steps will be helpful to any future brides and grooms. Again, this is just my personal preference of timings and order of planning. You are free to make your own schedule to plan your wedding, but remember to have everything finalized the latest 2 months prior to the wedding, so you could have those two months dedicated for any unexpected surprises that might occur. 

Thank you once again for your time and I hope to see you around. 

Have a great day!

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Should I book a wedding planner?

Do I really need a wedding planner? This is a question that has probably passed thought the mind of every couple which starts to plan its wedding. I would say yes, you do, and not just because I’m a wedding planner myself and it suites me to think this way, but because a wedding planner is the most helpful person for the whole process of planning your wedding and helping you on the wedding day. 

Planning a wedding has a lot of stress, especially when it’s your first time doing it. There are a lot of things that you should keep in mind when planning a wedding. You will have to be in charge of all the services which you will book, be sure that you have booked everyone and everything you need, that all the vendors have received the correct information, and finally that your guests are feeling comfortable at your wedding. On the wedding day, you might end up spending more time coordinating everyone, rather than enjoying the day with your new husband or wife and spending quality time with your guests. In other words, you might end up not having as much fun as you should on your wedding day. 

A wedding planner on the other hand, has planned a lot of weddings, much more weddings than an average couple. His or hers experience in the field, helps him to know exactly what services need to be booked, what is the correct order of planning the wedding, what vendors to choose, how to organize the day schedule. Your wedding planner will be there for you to answer all the questions you have regarding your wedding, will instruct you which services you need to book and which ones won’t be really necessary, will assist you in organizing everything for you and your guests. More importantly, on the wedding day, you won’t have to worry about a thing, since you will have a person doing that for you, coordinating everything for you, leaving you to enjoy your wedding day without any distractions. 

When it comes to a destination wedding, a wedding planner will be even more helpful! Every couple should keep in mind that each country has its own unwritten rules, its own “logic”, and a specific way things work. Should you decide, for example, to have your wedding in Santorini, it will be hard for you to know what is allowed and what isn’t on the island, what are the regulations, for example what are the noise restrictions. It might also be tricky to arrange everything though the internet, making the planning process even more stressful, if you won’t have someone knowing the island to help you out. The destination wedding planner will be your guide in this situation, informing you about everything you need to know about Santorini, or any other destination wedding location of your choice. He or she will know what will be the best option for you, so that you could have a memorable wedding day. 

Of course, paying for a wedding planner will add extra expenses to your budget, but this expense will save you the hustle of having to do everything on your own. Instead, you will have a pleasant and unforgettable time on your wedding day, without any worries. Besides, no one wants to spend so much money and energy on something, that might not end up being at all as planned and imagined. A wedding planner is the guarantee that you will get what you always dreamed off, stress-free.

To sum up, even me, a person who knows how to plan a wedding, would still ask for an assistance from another wedding planner, as I would much rather enjoy the day, eat and dance, than worry all the time about the services and the vendors I booked. 

I hope that was of help and I sincerely wish you a lovely day!

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Brief Introduction

Hello and welcome. I believe that it would be polite to introduce myself before starting posting anything else. My name is Yana, and I’m a wedding and event planner in Santorini, Greece. I spend my days enjoying the magnificent views that the island has to offer, going for walks with my two dogs, reading books, knitting and doing other DIYs, and of course planning weddings and events. 

A lot of people ask me, why did I become a wedding planner? To be honest, the answer to that question is simple and boring: I needed a job. The real question I should be asked is why I remained a wedding planner, even though the island offers a big variety of different carriers to follow, including my dream job – being a horse riding instructor. Well, the answer to that question is because being a wedding planner is an amazing job! I absolutely fell in love with the whole process of planning a wedding!!

There are a lot of things that I love about this job. I have the chance to meet so many amazing people, and it gives me great joy to know that I can help them fulfill their dreams of a perfect wedding day. I love the journey which begins from the very first email I receive from the couples, to their “I do’s”. I get to be part of their new beginnings in life as a family, share their tears of absolute happiness. Even though this job has a lot stressful moments and comes with a great responsibility, the heartwarming feeling I get just by knowing I made someone happy, makes every bad moment worth the trouble. 

And of course, there’s creativity! Let’s not forget about that! With every wedding or event, I get to do something different, something new! Thinking and preparing the decorations for a wedding is the best part of the planning process. I get to experiment with different DIY’s, spend time daydreaming and coming up with new ideas, learn a ton of new information on various topics. The creative part makes this job even more exciting.

It was the moment I realized all the above, which made me take the decision of becoming an independent wedding planner. This is how “Cardoon Events” was born. 

Through this blog, I will share with you all my thoughts and my experiences on weddings and events, give advices to future brides and grooms, and give you an insight to the life of a wedding planner. I plan to post every Monday and Thursday. I’ll write about various topics that have to do with weddings, marriage proposals, parties, and I will also share my thoughts and experiences on Santorini, its restaurants and entertainment options.

Thank you very much for reading and I hope to see you around!