Washingtonian.com MOM

Expert Advice

When to Save While Wedding Planning—and When to Splurge

Nar Hovnanian and Sugar Taylor of Taylor & Hov share how to cut costs.

By Caroline Cunningham
Nar Hovnanian (left) and Sugar Taylor (right) have been working together to design weddings for six years. Photograph by Michelle Vantine Photography.

A Silver Spring event design duo—Nar Hovnanian and Sugar Taylor—are behind Taylor & Hov, and they've planned weddings with budgets from $35,000 to $300,000. Here's their tips to make your budget work for you.

Cut costs where your guests won’t notice the difference.
Get a small cake to cut and have sheet cakes in the back to feed guests. Don’t print menus and programs for everyone; you can display one program creatively for all to see using a large frame, and either skip menus entirely or print just one per table. Save money on food by opting for a buffet meal or hosting a brunch wedding.

Avoid Pinterest envy.
It’s easy to see something on Pinterest and say I want that! Executing it for 150 people, on the other hand, can cost a lot more than you think. Start planning your design early enough to have wiggle room. A good event designer can look at a Pinterest board and tell you approximately how much that design will cost for your guest count.

Never skimp on your photographer or flowers. Pictures are so important—make sure you pay for quality! Choose a photographer whose work you are excited about. Please don’t try to do flowers yourself. It’s an added stress that you won’t want to think about the week before your wedding. Instead, save money by shopping for local and in-season blooms.

Limit your liquor.
Don't go for a full bar. Instead choose, beer, wine and one or two signature cocktails to cut down on alcohol costs.

Remember: Products are pricey.
Rentals, purchases, food, alcohol, flowers, linens—all the details cost money. Go with the standard dining ware that your caterer has to offer, use the same chairs for both your ceremony and reception, and try your best to utilize what the venue already has.

Trim your guest list.
The more guests you have, the larger the budget. If you don’t want to spend much on your wedding, keep it intimate.

Related: Taylor + Hov Used Hanging Terrariums as Decor in this Long View Gallery Wedding

Bride on a Budget

Gilt’s Epic Bridal Sale Event Launches Friday

Shop wedding dresses, accessories, decor, and destinations at a fraction of the cost.

By Irina Grechko Photographs via Gilt.

Attention, brides-to-be: Just in time for wedding season, Gilt Groupe, the seriously fashionable sample sale site, is launching its much-anticipated discount event aimed at meeting every bride’s wedding-day needs.

Kicking off today at noon, with additional steals and deals rolling out on the site tomorrow, this biannual bridal extravaganza features heavily discounted designer wedding dresses, accessories, jewelry, decor, and lingerie from the likes of BHLDN, Marchesa, Reem Acra, and Badgley Mischka.

Keep Reading ...

Expert Advice

Ask the Experts: Wedding Budgets

It’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of planning a wedding, but one expert warns: Don’t forget the finances!

By Laura Wainman

The Expert: Bill Moran
Merrill Lynch senior vice president and senior financial analyst

Okay, Bill, let’s say a client has come to you who has just gotten engaged. Where do you begin?

My budget advice would be the same as my marriage advice: Keep the lines of communication open at all times. Talk about your goals and aspirations, what you imagine things looking like for the wedding, and decide what each of you wants most from the day. The couple will also need to decide how much emphasis (and money) they want to place on this one day, versus other goals they may have for their future together, like buying a home or starting a retirement fund. We will also need to discuss where they individually stand financially, so we can figure out where they stand as a collective unit.

What are some potential pitfalls couples need to watch out for when it comes to planning a wedding?

The biggest issue I see is when a couple is not on the same page, whether that’s about finances or the wedding in general, and they aren’t communicating about it. If you have one partner who is an ultra-long-term planner and thinking about how to retire comfortably at 65, and the other isn’t looking past the immediate future of desperately wanting a 20-piece band and roses on every table, we are going to hit a speed bump.

Keep Reading ...

Mom of the Bride

Ceremonies and Budgets: What’s a Mother-of-the-Bride to Do?

Welcome to another edition of MOB Monday, wherein our intrepid expert, Leslie Milk, author of “It’s Her Wedding but I’ll Cry if I Want to: A Survival Guide for the Mother of the Bride,” answers questions, soothes fears, and tells it like it is.

By Leslie Milk

I always dreamed my daughter would get married in our church. Now she tells me a friend is getting ordained online and will conduct the wedding ceremony. I just feel terrible. What can I do?

Welcome to the club. My son got married on a jogging path in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. He did agree to honor our Jewish heritage by breaking a glass at the end of the ceremony—but he neglected to tell us that he would be wearing flip-flops. Thank goodness the glass was well wrapped and we didn’t have to go straight from the wedding to the emergency room! Hard as it is to accept our children’s choices sometimes, maintaining our relationship with them is more important than any wedding venue.

My wedding budget is really tight. Do we have to entertain out-of-town guests for the entire wedding weekend?

Many weddings now seem to last as long and have as many events as coronations. But there is no requirement that you plan multiple activities—particularly if you are getting married here in the Washington area. I don’t mean to sound self-serving, but I’d suggest getting each out-of-town guest a copy of the Washingtonian Welcome Guide (to order, call 202-331-0715), or directing them to our one-, two-, three-, and four-day itineraries online, and letting them loose on the city. With so many free museums and monuments to visit, they should find plenty to do without you. And you’ll have more time to relax and prepare for your big day without the added pressure and expense of planning and attending multiple get-togethers.

Bride on a Budget

Bride on a Budget: July Deals

Exclusive discounts on skin-care kits, planning services, special dinners, and more.

By McLean Robbins A beautiful reception by Main Events Caterers.

Treat yourself to amazing savings this July with these wonderful wedding deals, available exclusively for our readers. Unless otherwise noted, these special offers must be booked during the month of July; mention Washingtonian Bride & Groom at the time of purchase in order to receive the promotion.


Don’t forget about your skin for the big day. Skin Authority’s GO! Tie-The-Knot kit offers adorable wedding-themed packaging and travel-size products that help your skin look and feel beautiful. They’re also great gifts for bridal showers or members of your wedding party. The kit, 15 percent off this month with code WASHINGTONIAN, is normally $58 and includes a cleanser, a resurfacing accelerator, a tri-power peptide hydrator, and SPF-30 moisturizer.

Keep Reading ...

Bride on a Budget

June Deals for Brides and Grooms

We help ease your wedding-budget blues with these monthly specials.

By McLean Robbins

You know the adage: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. But where does “something that fits into my budget” work into that equation? Spend your money where it counts on your wedding day, without compromising quality.

We’ve compiled our first-ever Washingtonian Bride & Groom “Deals” list, an offshoot of the popular Washingtonian “Deals” column, printed each month in the magazine. Unless otherwise noted, these packages are available for the entire month of June by mentioning Washingtonian Bride & Groom at the time of reservation, or by using code WASHINGTONIAN online.

Keep Reading ...


Wedding Planning Timeline

You’re engaged. Now what?

By Kim Forrest

If you got engaged over the holiday weekend, congrats! You’ll probably want to spend the next few weeks celebrating and staring adoringly at your ring finger (and, we hope, reading your free copy of Washingtonian Bride & Groom and getting your tickets for Unveiled). But we know soon enough you’re going to start getting that age-old question from everyone from your coworkers to Great-Aunt Ida to that girl you’re friends with on Facebook but haven’t spoken to since third grade:

“So when’s the big day?”

And yes, we understand it’s tough to figure out where to start, whether you’re the first in your group of friends to get engaged or you’ve been to dozens of weddings. We’ve been there, and we know it can be overwhelming.

Don’t worry—we’ve got your back. We asked event planner Jeannette Tavares of Evoke to share her wedding planning timeline to help you get going on this adventure (be sure to take a peek at our vendor guide to select your pros). And we promise we’ll be with you every step of the way. Feel free to e-mail kforrest@washingtonian.com with any questions, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Keep Reading ...


MoB Monday: Can She Ask For Cash?

Our resident wedding etiquette expert, Leslie Milk—“Washingtonian” lifestyle editor and author of “It’s Her Wedding, But I’ll Cry If I Want To: A Survival Guide for the Mother of the Bride”—answers your questions

By Leslie Milk
There's really no tactful way to ask for cash—so just be gracious about whatever gifts you receive.

My daughter wants to ask for cash instead of wedding presents. Is there a tactful way of doing this?

There are online registries where guests can contribute to a honeymoon fund, a mortgage fund, or a larger gift. You daughter can certainly register with one of these and inform guests who ask about where she is registered. There are also stores that will give cash for returned wedding gifts. But there is no tactful way to tell guests it’s the money, not the thought, that counts. She needs to remember that wedding guests are being invited to share her joy, not underwrite her future.

Do I have to invite my mother-in-law wedding dress shopping? I know she’d love to come, but I feel uncomfortable having her there.

Shopping for a wedding dress is an intimate experience, and your discomfort is understandable. Would you be okay with having her join you for your first fitting, once your dress is selected? That way she can still be part of things.

Do you have an etiquette question for Leslie? E-mail kforrest@washingtonian.com and we’ll get you the answer.


A Very Groupon Wedding

One mother-of-the-groom used group coupon sites to help pay for her son’s rehearsal dinner—and saved nearly $3,500.

By Kim Forrest
Diane Paul used group coupon sites to save money on her dress, headband, and many other wedding-related products and services. Photograph courtesy of Diane Paul

Before her son Evan got engaged, Diane Paul of Rockville used group coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social once in a while. But when she was tasked with planning the rehearsal dinner for Evan and her future daughter-in-law, Dani, she decided to take it to the next level.

For the year leading up to Evan and Dani’s Middleburg, Virginia, wedding, Paul used a variety of sites to purchase more than two dozen coupons for all sorts of items and services, from a hair appointment, spray tans, and purses to cake pops, cupcake toppers, and wine. When all was said and done, Paul had spent a total of $1,761 on products and services that would have cost $5,195—saving her $3,434.

“At the rehearsal dinner, I greeted everybody and said, ‘And now, a word from our sponsors,’” says Paul. “I then listed all of the sites I used to help pay for the wedding and expressed my appreciation for Groupon.”

And while Paul still checks those sites once in a while, “much to my husband’s delight, I’m purchasing far fewer coupons,” she says.

After the jump, we’ve got a list of what Paul purchased using group coupon sites.

Keep Reading ...


A Wedding Deal on 11/11/11

Can’t wait to wed? The Hotel Monaco is offering a special package for a couple who wants to get married in, oh, three weeks (hey, Khloe Kardashian did it in two)!

By Kim Forrest
Ready to wed, like, now? The Hotel Monaco is looking for a couple to wed on 11/11/11. Photograph courtesy of the Hotel Monaco.

A few weeks ago, we told you the story of a couple who planned their wedding in just 24 hours. If you want a little more time than that—and aren’t doing anything on 11/11/11 (a lucky day!)—the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria has the package for you.

The hotel had a last-minute opening on Friday, November 11, and is looking for a couple who wants to get married that evening. For $111 per person (plus tax and gratuities), you’ll get a half-hour ceremony with an officiant, a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres and drinks, a signature cocktail at the bar, a plated dinner, a four-hour open bar, a dance floor, a bridal suite for the wedding night, and a special room rate for guests of $111 on Friday night—not a bad deal in this town. There’s a maximum of 150 guests.

If you’re interested, contact Allison Manning at allison.manning@kimptonhotels.com or at 703-519-6850. Visit the Hotel Monaco’s Web site for more on the venue.

Preferred Wedding Vendors