Expert Wedding Planning Tips from Jennifer Mary: Traditional, Micro, Elopement, Destination, and More!


In this episode of The Collective Questions: A Wedding Show, McKenzi talks to Jennifer Mary, the owner of Jennifer Mary Events a Las Vegas Luxury Wedding & Event Planning Company.

Timestamps

00:00 Intro

01:10 Introducing Jennifer

03:45 Her specialty in the wedding planning industry

06:40 The Traditional Wedding

13:00 The Money Dance

14:30 The Micro Wedding

17:45 What’s an Elopement

22:20 What’s a Destination Wedding

25:15 Tips on How to Plan Your Wedding

41:50 Tips on who to invite to your wedding

46:30 Things Couples usually miss

50:00 Where can you find Jennifer

Full Transcript

All right, so on today’s show we have Jenny and I’m actually going to let her introduce herself. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jenny. 

Yeah. Hi everyone. My name is Jenny Shud. I am a Las Vegas wedding planner. Originally started in Arizona and then moved out here to Vegas in 2018. Before weddings, I actually did pageants.

Uh, I did the Miss Arab USA pageant as well as local festivals in Arizona. Um, I didn’t do weddings before 2018, so as cliche as it is, I am the bride turned wedding planner. So after planning my wedding, I started going into, I, I actually completely changed my niche into weddings. So that’s how it all got started was being a bride.

So you planned pageants or you participated in. Okay. Both, um, haven’t talked about my participation in a long time. So you plan pageants? Yes. Yes. So I would actually be the coordinator. [00:01:00] I’ve been their choreographer, I’ve been their judge. I’ve been. In the committee as far as picking the girls ahead of time and organizing. So I was a little bit of everything. 

Oh, that is so cool. Z I just, this is what I love about doing this because I learned something all the time. So, yeah. So tell us about your wedding, um, experience since you are a bride turned wedding planner. Mm-hmm. I know that you’ve done, it looks like a hundreds of weddings.

So tell us a little bit more about. 

Yeah, I think we’re actually, after 2022, we had reached over a hundred weddings here, specifically in Las Vegas, which is exciting. But you know, when you move markets, you’re almost starting all over again. Yep. It’s like starting a brand new business. So for the first few years that I was here, I huffed, I wanted.

Portfolios in every hotel, every casino, every location. I wanted the name to be known because I felt like, oh my God, the last seven years of what I’ve been doing is just, it’s disappeared. It’s [00:02:00] gone. Right? It’s as if it didn’t even exist. So for the past few years, that’s really what I’ve been doing is just making connections, networking.

Getting in, you know, to as many venues as I could, and now officially being our fifth year here, which is super exciting. You know, portfolios where we’d like to be. We’ve worked at many or almost all of the major locations here in Las Vegas and yeah, you know, more to, more to come. There’s, you never stop learning, you never stop experiencing self.

That’s, that’s true. Do you have a specialty in the kinda weddings that you typically attract that you love to do? Tell me about. 

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so we. Do arrange, I have my specialty that I love, right? Uhhuh. But we, we really do, do arrange, and what I mean by that is I have planned weddings, traditional wedding, let’s start there.

Yeah. I’ve planned a traditional wedding at 25,000, and then I’ve also planned them at 250,000. So it’s this wide range because regardless of what your dollar amount is on your [00:03:00] budget, everyone. So true. If you can, yeah. If you can have a wedding planner help you along the way, why not? So, which is one of the reasons why like within my business, I have starting prices.

Yeah. Because I, I wanna be able to, to help everyone. I wanna be able to target everyone. If I had to say my specialty, my niche, it would be the pretty okay of the wedding. So I love the. I love the fact that the font on the table numbers matches the seating chart that matches the menu card that matches the escort card names.

I love when the colors are flowing together perfectly. I love when things are just really timeless and elegant. So, so the pretty for me yeah, is, is my niche. But I by no means can tell my couples how to spend their money. I can only guide an advice. So I love it. But if I had to pick, if I had to pick, I would, I would definitely focus on the pretty.

And then aside from Pretty, entertainment is actually really important to me [00:04:00] because I feel like that targets both audiences. Cuz you have people that love the. And then you have people that, you know, when they think about a friend’s wedding, they’re gonna go, oh my God, that dinner entertainment, those dance performances were so cool.

I would love to do that at my wedding as well. Or, how awesome was that life painter? You know? So any type of entertainment I think is really important. Like that little special, like little special guest experience almost. Yeah. Yeah. I think guest experience is the number one thing that your guests take back.

Mm-hmm. And then for the couple that, that’s also extremely important as well, but it’s, I’m, I’m targeting more of my ladies over here. Right. We like the pretty, yeah. So if I walk in and. I’ll give you an example. So I walked into one of my friend’s weddings back in, I don’t even remember, 2018 or 2019, and the first thing I thought of was stunning, gorgeous.

Wow. The details, the colors, the floral, the design. Like that’s the first thing I noticed. Yeah. But. Again, just speaking on my own experience, pretty, is really important. [00:05:00] 

Well, I think that’s what people, a lot of people think about when they think of weddings in general, right? They, they think of a very pretty beautiful experience.

So you’re probably doing a really great, uh, you’re in your right spot. I think so. I think so. I think so. Let’s actually talk about, you brought up the word traditional, like let’s go down a definition path basically. So, um, in your opinion, what is a traditional wedding? I mean, is that even what you would call something that’s, I made up that word maybe. I don’t know. 

Who knows? Maybe we all did. Maybe the wedding industry made up the word, yeah. Traditional wedding, but in my personal opinion, a traditional wedding. Is the same thing that we’ve been doing for the last 50 plus years, for example, right? You gather the biggest amount of your loved friends and family.

You bring them all in one room, and they are there to celebrate in this beautiful ceremony. That is about the two of you. You want those traditional, beautiful photos that [00:06:00] we take with your family and your and your wedding party and the couple themselves, and then we go into our reception and we want to cut the cake and we want to do a first dance, and we want to do parent dances, and we want all these traditions that we’re so used to seeing and that our family and relatives probably did that they’re encouraging us to do as well.

It’s so funny, I have a, I have a bride right now that her mom is actually my main point of contact and planning. Yeah. Because to the bride, she just wants to have a, a pretty wedding. Right. But the traditions are so important to her mom, so, you know, and one of the things she brought up is how important the cake was and, and I don’t think that’s something couples these days think about.

Not as much. Definitely not. I don’t think so. But to her, the cake is so important and it’s so high up on her priority list because she’s a traditional person. Yes. And she wants to throw a traditional wedding for her daughter. So for me it’s, [00:07:00] it’s going through the steps of getting ready in the morning with your bridal party, taking those photos, having the ceremony, your cocktail hour, and your traditional reception of first dance parent dances.

Hey, cutting bouquet, garter toss. I am actually completely okay with getting rid of, can we actually please get rid of it? 

I don’t mind getting rid of it either, but who came up with the idea of let’s sting out all the single people in this room and throw something at them? 

Yeah, I don’t know. That is one thing though.

Let, let’s talk about, I think that’s actually an interesting little segue into like some of the things we’re gonna talk about are. Like American traditional weddings, like would they be, you know, like bouquet tosses, cutting the cake? Are those things that we’re considering traditional in the United States, or do you have any insight into that?

Yeah, absolutely. So being Lebanese myself, I do do a lot of the Middle Eastern community weddings here in Vegas. Okay, I should, I should add [00:08:00] that as an niche. But like for us, for example, in the Middle East, the cake cutting is a huge deal. Imagine. Nothing smaller than a six tier cake. We’re talking 6, 7, 8 tier cakes.

Giant Norman. Okay? They are a decor piece all on its own. They’re absolutely stunning. Fireworks going off in the background while you’re cutting your cake sparklers, and we’re not using a cake cutter. We’re using a sword. Okay. Okay. Yes. So it is this beautiful grand, big ordeal all on its own. We’re actually in America, it’s not that big of a deal.

I mean, it’s cute, you know, but Yeah. Yeah. It’s like a little photo op quickie. 

Exactly. We don’t put that much focus on it when in the Middle East. It’s huge. It’s actually really one of the entertainment piece. Absolutely. Let’s put it this way, it is so big that I am Lebanese American that got married in America and I paid to have fireworks grow off during my cake cutting, and my venue had to roll the cake outside [00:09:00] onto the patio because I had to have fireworks because how could I be Lebanese and get married in America, not have fireworks while I got the.

Okay. Okay. Can I do that? I’m actually super surprised about that because honestly, well, comparatively, the cake cutting thing is kind of a big deal. Well, I feel like it’s kind of going out. It’s like a traditional element or an American wedding that’s kind of going away a little bit. Or the couples are kind of like, Ooh, I, I kind of want it.

Like I don’t wanna not. So let’s just do a quicker, I’ll, like, as a photographer, you might sneak away and do it with just a couple. It’ll be a private cake cutting or something like that, so that’s super interesting. I had no idea. That’s, that’s so cool. Let’s talk about, yeah, like let’s talk about the bouquet toss and garter toss and, and honestly, even certain areas, certain regions that I’ve been to, there’s other things in the United States, like I’m from the Midwest.

Mm-hmm. We definitely do things traditionally a little bit different. Mm-hmm. So, Yeah, I guess you’re not a fan of the [00:10:00] bouquet. 

I’m really not. And, and again, it just brings me down to why are we collecting all the single people, putting them in the center of the room for everyone to stare at them, and then we’re throwing something at them in the hopes that that means they’re next.

Right? Like, I don’t know who came up with this tradition, you know? So, so for me, when I’m talking to my couples and they’re on the fence on whether or not they wanna do about kindergarten toss, the first thing I ask them is, how many single guests do you have? Right? If, if you have a healthy number, Maybe it can be fun.

Okay, I get it. You bring them all on. You have to have a healthy number. If there’s. Less than five six. Like don’t, don’t do that in a room full of a hundred people. You’re gonna bring five people in the center to point them out that they’re single. So that’s actually my advice to them is how many single people do you actually have attending?

Right, right. But many, many of my couples have actually mixed it completely over the last year or so. I would say it’s about 50 50 right now between my couple. [00:11:00] Yeah. Yeah. Between my couples doing it, because again, it’s just coming. I mean, times change, right? So, and people get accustomed. Yeah. So it’s just coming down to, do you wanna point out all the single people at your, I don’t know.

I didn’t do one and I got married back in 2018. 

I don’t think I did one either, either. 

Yeah. Yeah. I remember actually talking about this with my husband and going through the guest list and I’m like, I have like four single girls. I’m not bringing them out into the middle of a dance floor and here’s 

a spotlight.

Let’s play some music for you. Yeah. 

And it’s the same song, miss Beyonce. We love her, our queen. It’s okay. Yeah. But you know, I’m okay with mixing the bouquet and the garden 

tos. Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. Have you ever heard of, um, the money. 

Absolutely. Yeah. That’s another thing too, to, to, to talk about, which is funny because even the money dance is done so differently in like different parts of the world.

Yeah. So I know like in the Latino culture, for example, they actually go up to you one by one and then they pin it [00:12:00] to you. 

And there’s almost I’ve seen that actually. 

Yes. Yeah. And there’s almost like a, a little bit of competition of like, if you can fold it into a crown or if you can, you know, kind of make it look pretty, like spread out into like a fan.

Really pretty, like they ki they’re like proud of it, you know, which is, which is really, really cool. So, you know, they do that in the Latino culture, but in the Middle Eastern culture, one. Please don’t pin anything to me cuz I’m scared to get poked. Um, but two, they actually throw it on you so they, they literally make it rain.

I’m convinced that that’s where like rappers got the term make it rain. Yeah. Yeah. From Middle Eastern weddings, but they literally throw it up into the air over you while you’re dancing. Nigerians actually do that as well. So, and it’s, it’s still technically money that goes towards the couple. And so I guess you can call it a money dance cause we are dancing while they do it.

Yeah. Um, but it’s just done differently in different parts of the world. 

Yeah. That’s so cool. Well, so we [00:13:00] kind of have defined, um, the traditional wedding and kind of the flow and it really starts with. Ceremony into reception, into dancing, all the things, right? Mm-hmm. And then obviously everybody has a little bit of a different element of like what they consider traditional or what’s part of their culture that they might wanna include.

So let’s talk about kind of some newer words, like, well, one of the newer words that’s come up in the last couple years called a micro wedding. I have some thoughts on what this is, but I’d love to know what your thoughts are on what it is. 

Yeah, sure. Um, so micro wedding is definitely new. I think that’s something that in my, I, first time I heard it was from Covid, right?

That’s kind of really where it started in 2020. So it’s new. I’m still even trying to figure out exactly what it is. This is what a micro wedding in, in my head is. Okay. Uhhuh. So a micro wedding for me is between. 25 and 50 guests. Mm-hmm. Right. If I had to, you know, give clarification and define it, 25 to 50 guests, [00:14:00] you do a traditional ceremony.

So you do have a ceremony and then instead of doing this hall or country club or hotel, maybe because of your gift count, you consider renting a private space in a restaurant, which is really popular for what we do here in Las Vegas cuz we have a lot of really good restaurants with private spaces. Two, three hours long.

You have a nice dinner, you’re still hosting dinner, you’re still hosting drinks for your guests. Maybe a dj. Not really much decor, right? That’s not the focus, that’s not the focus for us. So maybe a dj, we have some fun. You can still, if you have a DJ, still do a couple of traditions, like, you know, first dance, maybe parent dances if you want.

But um, it’s really just supposed to be a gather. A hosted gathering after your traditional ceremony, wherever you decide to do what, outdoors, indoors, whatever you decide. But right in between that kind of 25 to 50 count, so you’re, you’re. You’re trying to mix elopement and a traditional wedding [00:15:00] in one, and it’s kind of like they had a baby and micro wedding was born.

Yes. So to me that’s, 

that’s actually, you explain it almost exactly how I would explain it, 

so, okay. Okay. We’re on the same page. 

Great. Yeah, I definitely think it is. Even down to the restaurant reception. I think it’s exactly that. Like, I think too that not necessarily skimping on some of the luxe elements, like you might go to a really beautiful and classy and maybe high end restaurant and, but you’re still, you’re still hosting it.

Right? It’s not necessarily what I’ve experienced, not necessarily about people. Budget as much as they just wanna have a really intimate experience with their guests. So I’ve, I’ve found that I’ve been really loving the micron space. Mm-hmm. And, um, it’s really great. You get to, you get to talk to everybody.

You know, in Las Vegas where we live, you can have a full weekend with these people and make a whole fun, full weekend experience of it. So [00:16:00] yeah, I would totally, uh, express the same definition for micro wedding 

as. Okay, great. Because you know it being that it’s a new word. Yeah. Even couples will say, oh, I’m eloping.

And then I’m like, great. Tell me what you want. And I’m like, this is not an elopement. You know, because they don’t understand the difference. Yes. 

I would say that that’s where a lot of couples fall in because it’s, it’s like a destination wedding to Las Vegas, but with 50 people. And you’re like, well, I, I consider elopement something just a little bit different, but I’d love to know what you consider an elop.

Yeah. So for me, an elopement is exactly what it always has been. It actually hasn’t changed for me. So when I think of an elopement mm-hmm. It is the couple with maybe a couple of their closest friends or alone. It’s really not supposed to be anything big for me. Definitely less than 25, but more so like five in in my head of what an elopement is.

But that is what you are doing. An elopement was always the couple going off [00:17:00] and getting married. And not making a big whole shebang about it. And it was a day about the two of them, and that was it. Yeah, so when I think of an elopement, I think of the couple, but I understand these days now they want their closest family and friends.

I can understand that some of them being close by, but it’s still all about the two of them. Now, what does that mean? You have a photo shoot dedicated to the two of them, not a wedding party, not family. It’s about the two of them. And usually you get really creative when you’re doing an eloping because now you have maybe a little bit more funds to spend on yourself.

Right. So you go out into the desert with this amazing, really great photographer and maybe you’d, you rent a super cool vintage car and you take photos out there, or you do a cute picnic out there, or some type of, you bring the desserts and you still cut your cake and you still have your first dance, but it’s the two of you.

I just love 

it. I love it. Yeah. That’s such a beautiful way to describe it. I think that, you know, there. [00:18:00] Like my initial thought when I started in the wedding industry is that elopement really was runoff get married. Super secret. Maybe it’s a little like. Taboo maybe. Maybe it’s not something that other folks would agree with.

You’re kind of running away and doing it. But it definitely has evolved for me and, and I love it. Two, something that’s really about the couple I, in my business, we kind of characterize it as like, you know, 12 and under, so the mm-hmm. The 12 and under, then it’s up to about 50, and then it’s full on traditional after 50, I think.

But yeah, it’s, it’s really, I love the focus that you expressed on, it’s about the couple, like there might not be as much guest experience as maybe the best way to describe it. Yeah, 

yeah, absolutely. It should be a day just dedicated to the two of them. And that doesn’t mean they can’t do their traditions.

We’ll bring out a cute cart with some cute florals. Yeah. And bring out a cake and some champagne. I’ll bring out my speaker, my little boombox, and you know, that’s [00:19:00] something that we can absolutely do. But yeah, so again, it’s, it’s the focus about the two of them. You can still have your traditions. Yeah. But it’s not supposed to be about anyone else.

And for me, elopes have evolved in a way that it’s not necessarily taboo anymore. Because, you know, back in the day when you used to eat, look, there was no photos there, there was no people, there was no, it was running, running off to a c. Right. Getting married and then literally running off into the sunset together.

Yeah. Literally and figuratively. Yeah. So, but now it’s a little bit more sentimental. Yep. That’s, that’s the best way that I could describe it, is that now you don’t have to go into a courthouse and be a number that day. Mm-hmm. You can actually make it really intimate and really sentimental for 

the two of you.

Yeah. And I just, I just love it. Thank you. Actually, that really helped me because it’s like, What is the real difference? And, and really the biggest difference to me is for the most part, the most simplified definition is to me is like it’s based on guest count. [00:20:00] Like if you really wanna like narrow it down, but you made it even sweeter when you talk about it being about the couple and maybe micro waiting, just a little bit more of it, a guest experience.

And then traditional is. All of the traditions and what we think of today, so yeah. 

Yeah, I totally agree. Maybe I need to like write a blog about it or put it on my website somewhere. Yeah. So that people can Google it. Like what is the difference between a three? Well, that’s 

what I think that, I mean, we run two very different businesses.

Similar in some ways. Mm-hmm. Different and most ways really. But I mean, other than we service and help couples get married, but where we’re we focus on the smaller events. I’m sure you focus on the much larger events and mm-hmm. It’s definitely interesting to be in, in both spaces, and I’m sure you get inquiries about, you know, like what you’re just saying, like, I’m really, I’m hosting an elopement.

You’re like, whoa, honey, that’s a, that’s a micro wedding actually. That’s a traditional wedding. 

Happens all the time. I want an e, I want to elope. Okay, great. What’s your guest [00:21:00] count 50, not an elopement. 

Yeah, or I mean, maybe even if we shouldn’t even talk about destination wedding, maybe there’s a definition for that.

They’re kind of, yeah. This is where they get a little. Combined in my opinion. But I’d love to know if you have any thoughts on the definition or of, uh, destination. 

Yeah. Yeah. So destination wedding to me means that you are picking a central location that you and your guests would enjoy traveling to for the wedding day.

That means you have to travel to get there if the couple lives here, not a destination wedding. Right, 

that’s true. Couple actually also has to travel, not just your guests. Yes. Right, 

exactly. Yes, absolutely. So that actually is what in my. Makes the difference between the two. If the couple is local, it’s not a destination wedding.

I understand it may be for their guests, but the couple actually lives here. A destination wedding is when the couple and the guests together have to travel, and I would [00:22:00] stay. It would have to be majority of the guests, the majority number. So if you’re inviting a hundred people, but 20 to 30 don’t live here, that again, to me is not a destination wedding uhhuh.

So if majority of the guests and the couple are traveling to a central location, that is a destination wedding in 

my opinion. Yeah, that makes sense to me too. That’s a little bit more obvious, but it’s still, um, we live in a very destination heavy city, so I mean, yes. I don’t know if this is the same for your market, but my market is 95% destination couples.

So we are all 91st per 5% of our couples come from out of town. And that’s because we live in a city that fosters and caters to, to that, so. Mm-hmm. So it’s great. Mm-hmm. So we get a lot of destination weddings here. Mm-hmm. But they. Micro weddings and they’re also elopement. So it’s like we’re kind of wrapping those words and into each other a little.

Yeah. 

And, and I think the term destination, elopement wedding is a term because these couples don’t live here. They are [00:23:00] traveling to Las Vegas to elope or to have a micro wedding. I have a couple that is, is actually coming here from the uk. I have many couples from Europe, so they’re coming here from the UK in September and they’re bringing 20 to 25 of their closest friends.

And it is a micro wedding and it, it’s a destination for them. Absolutely. Yep. Um, but it. It, you know, it just, there’s a lot of different ways to define it. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer. Oh, it’s so true. I think a lot of people are on the same 

page. Yeah, it’s so true. But with the whole inserting of the word micro wedding, we actually have this word now that describes the wedding that’s between an elopement and a traditional wedding.

And I, I personally love it because I think that’s where a lot of. Fall right now. I mean, it just gives them, oh yeah, we had a micro wedding. It’s just the, it allows ’em to define it a little bit for themselves even so. Mm-hmm. We could go about this all day with definitions, but I would love to talk even a little bit more [00:24:00] into kind of, If we’re gonna try to tell someone some little nuggets, some little tips on how to plan their wedding, like if they’re just starting, I think that often the question that comes up is budget.

How are they gonna deal with their budget, and how are you going to decide your bridal party or your. Destination and let’s, let’s kind of dive into some of that. If you’re, if you’re up for it, guess what I’m asking you? 

Yeah, I mean, how much time do we have? So I, I think there’s actually quite a lot to that that goes into that.

I’m gonna, I’m gonna start with, okay, so 0.1. So how do you start. Wedding planning. I actually have broken this down into three steps that I’m very passionate about. I have a whole video on TikTok about it and everything. By the way, you 

do have to go follow her on TikTok. We’ll talk about that at the end.

But I was like, what? She’s like a celebrity. No, 

no, no, no, no. I mean, um, so, so yeah. So how do you start wedding planning? And because I am [00:25:00] more so. Traditional wedding planner. If I have to give myself a term, that’s kind of what I’m gonna focus on. So there’s actually three steps that you need to do before you even pick up the phone and call anyone your venue, a wedding planner, anyone?

Yeah. First thing, which is not the first thing people think about. You need to create a mock guest list. Mm. How many guests are you actually inviting? Is it a hundred or is it 1 25 or is it one 50? Which one is. And then I always recommend that couples create a guest, a-list, and a guest B list. Anytime we get over a hundred guests, you should have a guest alist and a guest B list.

I love this So good. No knows which list they’re on. No one even knows which one you made, right? So, or E, even if you did do a guest A and a guest B list. So you should do it step. You need to sit down and decide what a comfortable spend is for your wedding, not the maximum, because it’s never gonna be what [00:26:00] you actually think it’s going to be.

When you’re planning a traditional wedding, what is a comfortable spend for you? I’m gonna throw out a number. Let’s say that’s $50,000 guests, 50,000. Okay, great. When do you wanna get married? Winter, spring, summer, or fall, because. Especially here, speaking in Las Vegas, we have very different food and beverage minimums at different times of the year.

Yep. So let’s say I’m gonna go with peak season. I’m gonna go with spring. We wanna get married in spring April. My, okay, great. Once you have determined those three things, then you can actually go and start wedding planning. First person you should hire is your wedding planner. Everyone at before you go to, to a venue, before you even shop pricing, save the hours you’re gonna spend, hire a wedding planner.

If you’re not hiring a wedding planner, then you go to the venues. You should only ask them one question. What is your food and beverage minimum for Saturday [00:27:00] in April? And if their food and beverage minimum is more than 50% of your comfortable spend at a budget, move on. Find another. Love it. Just check, check.

That’s how everyone should do it. Check, check, check it. It’s, it starts to, some people are like, oh, I wanna start with photo’s. True photography. Mm-hmm. And floral and it’s like, can’t do any of that if you don’t have a location and a date. Can’t do any of that. 

It’s so true. I think that sometimes couples come to us after they’ve hired some vendors and it, it’s wonderful.

I’m glad that, you know, you’ve fallen in love with your special photographer and that’s great, but now it kind of puts you at risk. Other budget things that you might need to figure out. Like if the venue, you know, like you gotta have the wedding somewhere. That’s all the time. 

It happens all the time.

It’s happened. It’s actually, unfortunately it has happened more to me in the last year than I would’ve liked where, you know, my couples actually go and either fully did book the venue and then hired me [00:28:00] after they booked the venue and realized, wow, this is really hard. Let’s hire a professional. Or they’ve at least started the conversation with the venue and felt like that was the right venue.

And then I got on board and turns out. Completely the wrong venue for them, whether it was outta budget or whether they just didn’t have the type of food that they actually wanted to cater, like just many different reasons. Um, so, but that really has to be the first thing that you lock in and wedding venue has to be number one, if you’re not hiring a wedding planner.

Has everything else falls into place after 

that. Yeah, it is really true. Um, I am kind of curious, you did bring up that comfortable spend because most of the time people have literally no idea how much to spend on their wedding. Is there anything that you can recommend on like, I mean, there’s wedding reports and stuff like that, but that’s more for the industry, I’d say, and that’s an average.

Do you have anything that people can look at or suggestions on? Here’s how much a wedding costs at such and [00:29:00] such. Where do people even get this information? I, I truly sometimes don’t know what to tell people. 

Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. You’re asking me to spill my secrets here, honey. This. Oh, I’m sorry. Hire me.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. No, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I spill my secrets all over TikTok all the time. Totally fine. Um, so for, for me, the venue on average is anywhere between 40 and 60% of your total wedding budget. Yeah. So that kind of helps, right? So if you’re looking at a venue, let’s say you haven’t selected a comfortable spend yet, and you’re looking at your venue, and your venue is asking for 25,000, you automatically know I should be looking at an overall total of about 50 for a traditional wedding.

So that’s, it should be about 50%. Great. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s kind of where you should think about it. So if you have a budget of 25,000, but the venues you’re looking into are coming back at 20, that should automatically be a red flag for you that you can’t [00:30:00] book this venue and stay within your comfortable spend.

Right. And 

that means like you have to either look at other venue options or. If you have that little flexibility, obviously increase your budget. 

Yes, yes. So I always tell my couples, if we run into this issue during, you know, when we actually start planning and we realize the vision isn’t matching the budget, there’s one of three things you can do.

You can lower your guest count. That’s option number one, right? Always you always, which is why you should have a guest day and a guest B list from the get-go. Mm-hmm. Option number two, increase your budget. Right. And then your only last option is to change the vision of the wedding. Right. You know, that’s kind of the reality of it.

If you have this image and, and I blame Pinterest and Instagram for this. Yeah. Mm-hmm. But if you have this image of this wedding that is just beautiful and detailed and really, really upscale, and that wedding might come at a $75,000 wedding [00:31:00] budget, but you’re working with 30. You either have to increase the budget or change the vision.

Right. We’re, we’re, there’s no magic in, we’re not magicians. I, I, you know, I, I do not have a magic wand. So, you know, these are not things that we can just make happen for a couple, and unfortunately, it really just comes down to one of those three options, right. 

Yeah, there’s actually, um, there’s a book, I’ll have to look it up and put it in the show notes, but there’s a book on, um, the roller coaster of like almost financial planning in when you’re planning your wedding.

And we’re gonna do a whole episode on financial therapy for wedding planning, basically. But it’s something that often isn’t talked about. It’s like the not so fun conversation, but you. 100% have to have it when you’re planning your wedding with your planner, with your partner, with your parents, with your partner’s parents.

W and it can be kind of awkward sometimes, like [00:32:00] those discussions mm-hmm. Can be awkward. So just preparing y’all. Yeah. Yeah. 

I, I totally agree. And I think a lot of couples like, kind of put it off Yeah. Talking to their, their parents or family members or anyone that’s contributing until after they start planning.

Mm-hmm. And it, it has happened where it’s, oh wow, you know, I really thought my parents, for example, were going to contribute more than they could. So now I have to sacrifice X, Y, Z, because it’s just not within my budget. Right. So having those conversations before you actually start wedding planning, I think is really important.

Yeah. And for, for me, it’s also like I a lot of times have a client that says, oh, my mom is gonna cover the flowers. Okay, well, flowers can 

range. That is a really great point too. Mm-hmm. Like flowers have a huge 

range. Are you kidding? I have spent a thousand on a wedding. I have spent 60,000 on a wedding.

What are we doing here? Right? How much are we spending on, on flowers? So I would also encourage couples to [00:33:00] try to get more of a dollar range versus just saying, I’m going to cover X vendor. 

Right. That’s a, that’s a really great point. It’s the same thing with all, all vendors. In, in general, some photographers are gonna be a certain amount and some are gonna be a certain amount.

It doesn’t really work that way. It’s, you’re totally right to have a specific number. 

Absolutely. And just like how you mentioned with vendors, especially here in the city, we’re in the largest wedding capital in the world, so we have vendors from every single range possible price points at every single range possible, right?

So what, what is a comfortable spend for you? What is your maximum budget? Right? Is is the photographers that are within your comfortable spend not doing it for you? Is, is it not what you’re looking for? Right. So what’s your max spend then? Right. I always encourage couples to have like a wiggle room fund.

Mm-hmm. And you don’t even have to tell me what, what, what it is. But let’s say it’s $5,000, right? I have a look room fund of $5,000 dip [00:34:00] into that when you, when you get to a category that you can’t find a vendor that’s within your comfortable spend. 

Yeah, that’s great. Another little TikTok steal we got from Jenny.

So actually I do love this. This is, um, one of my favorite things to talk about kind of, because I think people have a lot of different opinions about it and it is about bridal parties. And I’m actually kind of curious if in, in the traditional. Wedding space do, are you seeing them? Are you seeing a decrease in the number of bridal party members in MySpace?

We definitely discourage it because it’s, it’s such an intimate event. But I am really curious in your space, is there any trends that you’re seeing with the bridal parties? 

Yeah, I do think they’re getting smaller. Mm-hmm. I have noticed that we went, you know, from eight to 10 on each side. Yeah. And we’re getting a little bit small, smaller now they’re Mimi, it’s about four or five mm-hmm.

On each end. Um, so it’s definitely, it has gotten smaller, which is [00:35:00] great. And you know, on why is it. Because there are no pros to having a wedding party. There are no pros, 

everyone. Thank you. 

Okay. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Like as a traditional wedding planner, shame on me. Slap me on the wrist. We’ll talk about it later.

Oh, sure. Though for me, all a wedding party does is increase stress, and I’m specifically talking more for a traditional bride. Right? Yeah. And, and this is why, let’s break this. Traditional wedding, you have a bride who’s getting hair and makeup done. Mm-hmm. Of course she offers it to her bridal party, right?

Mm-hmm. She has 10 bridesmaids. Where are they getting ready? Where are they getting hair and makeup done? Who’s paying for it? Are they paying for it? Are you paying for it? Are you requiring them to get hair and makeup done or are you leaving it as an option? Are you okay if one decides not to do it? And she looks completely different than being fully glammed up like you and the rest of the girls.

Does this matter? Do you wanna wake up at 6:00 AM and start hair and makeup? Maybe you [00:36:00] do, maybe you don’t. There’s there’s, for me and, oh God, I’m so bad. But for me, The smaller your bridal party, the better in every aspect possible. The more you get, the harder it is. It really is because now you have so many opinions that need to be taken into when it comes to bridal showers and bachelor parties and bachelorette parties and mm-hmm.

And what’s the price of the dress or the tux that we’re getting, and what is the price of the hair and makeup that we are getting, and maybe I can’t afford it, maybe. I can’t afford it, but if they don’t do the style that I like, you know, maybe you’re a girl who’s really into hair and makeup, the list goes on.

I don’t even know where to even really cut it off on the more people you have, that’s just more complicated. 

There’s more personalities. There’s more personalities. Is it is. It definitely. I’m actually relieved to hear you say it honestly, cuz I thought maybe I was the only one. 

No, I wish I [00:37:00] could preach it to the world and tell everyone to just stop.

I am all for having a maid of honor to Beth man. Yeah. All for it. Absolutely. You should, you have important people to you. You should have them stand next to you on your wedding day. Totally get it. Even two, three three’s. Okay. Right. More than that, we’re just, you’re just making it 100% more difficult on yourself.

This does not. Your hair and makeup team, it does not affect your planner. It, it does not affect your photographer. These don’t affect us. It’s you as the couple. 

Yep. Well, she said it. Everyone. She said it. I did. 

I did. I did. Don’t cancel me people. 

I have noticed though, in general, a downward trend in the number of folks.

People are having it there as a is bridal party members and mm-hmm. And the ones that do have them, they’re just, you know, it’s a sister, it’s a child, or it’s, you know, it’s really. Special person that they want to have up there with them, like representing them or being with them as part of that like [00:38:00] ceremonial element.

Cuz really that’s what they’re for. And if you have 10 people up there as like your witness, what’s. The point, I don’t know, I just, here, lemme give you another thing too, that they add cumbersomeness to your timeline because you have to account for them for photos if there’s so many and they wanna do all these different things and like, you should just do the photos of yourselves.

I, I agree. And again, the, the list really does goes on. So I, I think it’s very important for couples to realize this truly doesn’t affect any of your vendors. My opinion is, is this opinion because of what it affects for the couple, not me. It doesn’t change anything for, for US professionals, right? It’s, it’s just about the comfortability level on the wedding day of the couple should be maximized it, it should be.

A very smooth process day. And you know, just when you, and not to say that you can’t have those same people still getting ready with you. There’s, you know, you can have or at your wedding in the [00:39:00] room. Yeah, yeah. You know of, of course, they’re still important to you either way, but to, I think there’s also a stigma that if you’re not in someone’s wedding party, you’re not as close or as important as you may have thought you were.

And that, that to me is just so not the case. But I think that’s what the world has turned wedding parties into is how close are you? Yeah. To, to the couple. Because now, now we’re gonna label it cuz now you’re a groomsman. Bridesmaid or bridesman or grooms woman, whatever you are, like, you know, it’s a, it’s a label.

Yeah. It, it’s, it’s, it’s a label essentially. That’s all it is. 

Yep. You’re so right. You’re so right. Thank you. You’re welcome. Um, and then one question here is actually, if you don’t mind, kind of just running back to that guest. That a B list. I think that’s awesome. I often have, here in Las Vegas, people come to us for more of the elopement or micro weddings, and they [00:40:00] always like, Say they’re gonna invite a hundred people.

And I’m like, whoa, pump the brakes. Because people come to Las Vegas, people might surprise you and they actually might come. So you have to be prepared for that. And maybe it’s, maybe people go to other destinations as well, more, but people are willing to go to your wedding and so I would not invite them unless you want them to be there.

You can pay for them. Yeah, I can play. You can pay for them, you know? Yeah. I don’t know if you have any other tips on who to invite. It can get crazy and it can be a huge stressor for couples. 

Yes. Yes it can. And I think one of the first things that makes it so hard for a couple is because it depends on how involved their parents are in the planning process.

Mm-hmm. I think a lot of it is family members, right. And relatives. And you know, your parents wanting to invite X, Y, Z because we were invited to their kids’ wedding five years ago. And you know, [00:41:00] When it comes to who to invite for your wedding, I, for me, And that’s because of, I, it’s probably more of my Lebanese side if anything coming out on this.

Mm-hmm. I, I think it depends on how much your parents are contributing to the wedding. Mm-hmm. So for example, like in the Middle Eastern culture, traditionally back in the day, the man paid for, for the wedding, right now it’s a lot more 50 50 and you know, all that good stuff. Mm-hmm. But who’s contributing?

So it, you know, if my parents are contributing, they’re gonna get a little bit of a stay, in my opinion, of who gets to be invited to the wedding. Cause they’re technically paying for, Right, right. But if it’s just the couple that’s paying for it, then why shouldn’t they have a mass of how many guests they want to invite?

Because if they’re not necessarily important to them. So let’s say again, we’re gonna go down to a hundred guests. Let’s say you give each parent 15. You, you get, you get 15 each side. Pick the 15 closest friends and family relatives, or who you know, your college buddy, whoever it is that you want to invite.

This is the number [00:42:00] that you’re gonna get. I’m not gonna get involved so much in who you’re inviting, but the number you get 15. 

I like that. Yeah, 

that helps a little bit. Right? And then the couple, for example, would have 70 for, for themselves to invite, right? Maybe it’s 10 and 10 and 80. What? Whatever the, whatever it is.

I think you should do it based more on numbers. Now the couple themselves, right? Whether they’re inviting 70 or 80 out of a hundred, who should they invite? I have in, in my mind, I have a rule where if I have not spoken to you, spent time with you in the last year. I don’t know if I’m comfortable spending $500 on you to attend my wedding.

Lynn, did 

you hear what she said? 

$500. I said 500. I didn’t say a hundred. I didn’t say the, the price of the plate. I didn’t say 200. The price of the plate and the bar, I said 500 because what couples don’t realize is that the per person costs is not just food and beverage, right? That beautiful chair that I’m renting, that I’m bringing in costs 20.[00:43:00] 

So that that goes towards their person cost, the charger, the menu cart, the custom napkin, the custom linen, the centerpiece, because now I need more centerpieces. If we have more table, this is more money on you, right? So it’s really a collective cost. So for me, when I think of a per person cost, it’s not just food and beverage, it’s food, beverage, decor, stationary, and floral.

It’s actually five categories that go into a per person class. I’m not gonna include things like photo, video, photo booth, cuz that’s what the couple wants to spend. But those other five categories significantly change in cost based on your guess count. Yeah, that’s so true. So if I haven’t spoken or talked to you in a year, 500 bucks, 

I dunno, I can’t actually think of anybody.

Oh, no, none of you. Five people are invited to my wedding. My mom, my dad, my dog, me and my husband. Yes, exactly. Yeah. So, so that’s, that’s what it comes down to for me, is if, if I wouldn’t take you out to dinner [00:44:00] now and spend $500 on. Would I do it for my wedding? 

Right, right. It’s true. I mean, even if it’s not 500, I could even say a hundred dollars.

Yes, yes. Again, we’re talking traditional wedding. Right. Let’s, but I’m saying we have a wedding that’s, that’s not so traditional. Yeah. I mean, a hundred dollars. Would you take this person, this third cousin that you haven’t spoken to in five years, would you take them out to dinner and pay a hundred dollars for them?

Right. I, I. I think a hundred dollars is like a good minimum. 

Yeah. If the answer is yes, invite them to your wedding. Right? If the answer is. I was, then you put ’em through the $500 

threshold, 

then you put them on the B list Yes. Of invites. That’s, that’s what you do. So, you know, and I, I’ve heard a lot of people say, oh, well, if they give me a gift, it’s honey.

I promise they’re not giving you a $500 gift, I promise it’s never No, no. [00:45:00] It, it doesn’t, it doesn’t make up. And your wedding shouldn’t be about Oh, I’ll spend that money on them because they’re giving me a gift in return. No, 

it’s, it’s still, yeah, I, that’s a whole other conversation. Um, well, I know those were just like scratching the surface of wedding planning tips.

Mm-hmm. Really? And just like barely scratching the surface. I’ll even go that far. But do you have anything else that you just think is. Oh my gosh. Couples miss this every single time and they’re like, some of your tips were just so amazing. But 

anything else? Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. Um, I think for me, I’m actually gonna tell couples to stay off wedding blogs that are not written by wedding professionals.

Hmm. What I mean by that is these blogs that you read, Websites. I’m not naming anyone. These blogs that you read on these mass produced websites where you’re supposed to go to for wedding advice, they [00:46:00] don’t know what they’re talking about. I saw a blog recently that specifically was about wedding planners, and it was like average cost of a full service wedding planner, 2,500, and I’m sitting here thinking, Find me one in Vegas that has a portfolio that has the experience, that has what you are looking for that’s gonna provide you white glove, full service, wedding planning for your beautiful traditional wedding at $2,500.

Right? In our market. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not possible, you know? So, so they make these, but in another market, it’s a, it’s a average. That’s hundred percent true. Yeah. Yes, yes. In another market, in another state, I bet you that’s 100% true. But that doesn’t apply. To all markets. You know, not to say that you can’t get a wedding planner for 2,500.

You probably can, if you’re doing like a coordination package, maybe a micro wedding or a partial planner 

package. That’s a whole other, that’s a whole other list of definitions right [00:47:00] there. 

Exactly. But they, they label it full service wedding planning, average cost 2,500. And, and you know, they also tell you things they did, they try to give you advice on things of, you know, your vendors and things.

Traditions versus non-trads and etiquette versus not, not et. I would just say staying off of those blogs, I, I really don’t think they’re helpful. I think the most helpful blogs is, for example, uh, a photographer, a successful photo photographer in your city that does a blog Right. Or a successful wedding planner in your city that does a blog.

Mm-hmm. Because they know the market of the wedding. You’re, you know, where you’re getting married. Right. 

They know, know the venues, they know the locations, they know the traffic patterns. They know mm-hmm. The weather. It’s not just, Blank canvas of someone shooting out generic numbers really, that are pulled from a national average.

Really? 

Absolutely. And you know, another, it could be something as simple as when is the perfect time to get married? Oh, between June and September. [00:48:00] Not in Vegas. Not here. Yeah. Yeah. Not here, you know, but, and on the other side of, of the country, Or even write a dead slap in the middle of it. Yeah, that is a good time, you know, but you know, not on the West Coast, right?

Not, not for us, you know, not Arizona, not California, not Nevada. It’s, it’s, it’s not right for us. Um, you know, so those, those big national websites, I would say avoid those blogs or even any research there and find a planner or a vendor or photographer, whoever it is in your city, and 

read their blog. Yes, I think that’s fantastic advice.

You just filled this with so many great little nuggets. My team makes fun of me cuz I say the word nuggets, but I’m gonna keep saying it and, uh, I like it. And I really appreciate that because everything you said is so true and I couldn’t, I couldn’t relate more. So tell us your TikTok for one. 

My TikTok is Vegas wedding planner.

Okay. 

And then tell us where [00:49:00] else other folks can find. 

Yeah, so we are on Instagram, we are on Facebook, Jennifer Mary events For both of those, of course, there’s our website, Jennifer mary events.com. Um, and, you know, and we love to do things like wedding tips as well as some ideas and inspiration for decor, um, and, you know, just some entertainment and things like that.

So come on over, pop on over to us on social media and I, I think you’ll, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll enjoy what? 

Yeah, I really have enjoyed what I see and you can, um, see Jenny dancing and having a great time as well. It’s not just tips. She really can do entertaining posts as well. So 

hire me as your dinner entertainment.

Yes, you should know that if you hire me to plan your wedding, I dance, I might do it in the corner. I might do it with you on the dance. But I was, I, I danced 

and she has a great time doing it, so I sure do. So thank you so much [00:50:00] and we’ll post all of your handles and all of the details in our show notes.

And if you have any questions for Jenny, just reach out. Thank you so much. Awesome. 

Thank you so much, McKenzie. Have a good one. You too.

Social Media Links & Resources

Website: https://www.jennifermaryevents.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/jennifermaryevents/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@vegasweddingplanner
The book mentioned in the episode:
The Wedding Roller Coaster: Keeping Your Relationships Intact Through the Ups and Downs





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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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