Budgeting For Your Wedding • Rothweiler Event Design


The first step in planning a wedding is to know thy numbers! I used “thy” because it’s as serious as a Commandment. I know what you’re thinking; you don’t know what anything costs, so how can you possibly put together a realistic budget? Should you rely on wedding websites with checklists and countdowns to handle a budget tracker? Perhaps you should ask your friends and family what they spent on their wedding details?

To quote Meghan Trainor, “Nah to the ah to the, no, no, no!”

First of all, what someone else spent on their wedding is entirely irrelevant. The reason I design custom proposals for my clients is because the details are never the same. Just because your BFF got married at the same place that you are now getting married at, means absolutely nothing. You could use the same DJ, the same florist, the same everything, and you might pay more than she did, or even way less. Another reason why it doesn’t matter what anyone else spends?

To quote Meghan again, “Your lips are moving then you’re lyin’, lyin’, lyin’!”

No one is honest about money. Seriously. No one. People will tell you that they murdered someone and where the body is buried way before they will tell you the numbers in their bank account. I once had a bride insist that I could do her flowers for thousands of dollars less than I was quoting because her friend had the same thing and didn’t spend what I was asking her to spend. You know what I did? I called that florist to ask how he made a miracle happen and he laughed and laughed and laughed. Why? Because her friend was lying and he actually quoted higher and got paid more than the numbers I was dishing out. Turns out that he actually was their planner and cut them a deal on the flowers and only charged a wholesale cost. Guess who didn’t know that? My bride. Until I told her. In my office. And then her jaw hit the floor followed by her asking me why would her friend lie to her like that?

Those wedding websites are also chock full of nonsense and many budget articles (or any articles for that matter) are written by people with no wedding industry experience. It’s like going to Web MD for advice instead of your doctor. You end up with cancer every time. National averages, what people are paying, where do these numbers even come from? I was never part of a poll and none of my brides were either. Has Quinnipiac ever called you for anything? No, right? So that means the margin of error has to be about a billion.

The first step to figuring out your budget is to turn off all the noise and discuss with your fiancé whom is paying for what. When you buy a house and you go on Zillow, you know what you can spend up to and you don’t need to know what the average house price is. You’re going to put in a number and Zillow will give you what you can afford. Wedding planning is the same exact way. You come up with a number, bring it to vendors and they will tell you what you will get for that number. Never, ever (like ever) go to a vendor without a number in mind.

I’m sure plenty of you are terrified and think (because the wedding websites put this in your head) that if you go to a vendor with your maximum number, they are going to go up to that number minus a few hundred. This isn’t like buying a car and you’re not dealing with some sleazy salesperson. To make you more comfortable, go in with a range that you are willing and able to spend and take it from there. There is no point in visiting venues that start at $295 per person (plus plus) when you only budgeted $150 per person all in. Don’t waste anyone’s time here, including your own. Know your numbers before you do anything.

Once you have your overall number, it’s time to break it apart. Think about everything that you will need from dress to venue to flowers and more. Cut your number in half and give that number to your venue including food, beverage and essentials like tables, chairs, etc. The rest of the budget you will now use for your vendors. Make a list of your priorities and split the money up accordingly. For instance, if music is the thing you care about the most, then put a little extra in that part of the budget, and so forth. 


Where it gets tricky is when you have to be realistic. I know that no matter how much I scream not to do it, people are still going to go on wedding websites to tell them what things cost. Are you going to be able to get a DJ for $500 and an officiant for $100? No, not very likely. If you find that you are approaching vendors and every single one of them says that they can’t work with your budget, then it’s too low and you will need to make some concessions.

Let’s take flowers as an example. For a wedding with a guest count of 200 people, that will be 20 tables and therefore 20 centerpieces. You will also have your personal flowers including bouquets, corsages and bouts, as well as ceremony décor, cocktail hour décor, a card table arrangement and anything extra that you fell in love with on Pinterest (oy, Pinterest…that’s another subject). What do those numbers look like? Ok, I realize I said to ignore numbers given to you on wedding websites, but I am a real life professional planner. I’m an actual verified source, so, you’re good here. Ready?

In my market, the NYC Metro Area/North Jersey, here are some average numbers to consider:

Centerpiece range: $150-$300 each (times 20)

Ceremony décor: $500-$2,000

Bouquets: $100-$375 each (let’s use 4)

Bouts and Corsages: $14-$30 each (let’s use 8)

Card Table: $100-$250

Quick math: $4,400-$10,000, plus delivery, set up, breakdown, taxes, fees, blah blah blah.

This means, that if $6,000 is your floral bill, then your total budget was likely $60,000 and that $30,000 went to the venue. You now have $24,000 left over to handle everything else including gown, music, transportation, hair and make up, etc. It is surprising how fast money will and can go when you are planning a wedding.

I’m sure many people are thinking that $60,000 is a ridiculously high number for a wedding budget, especially when that is more than a down payment on some homes. However, massive wedding websites will have you believing that you can do this for a whole lot less and that will make planning an uphill battle for you. There’s no reason to get angry or frustrated or think that wedding vendors are out to empty your wallet. They have to put food on the table and a roof over their head as well, so never go to a vendor with an attitude about how they are ripping you off or are “too expensive”. If you can’t afford something, it’s not the end of the world, but at the end of the day, you will have to be realistic.

The worst thing that you can do is to go into wedding planning without numbers and a budget in mind. It is aggravating and not too much fun to deal with, but if you get it out of the way upfront, you can enjoy the planning process. Don’t work on the budget as you go because you will waste time looking at things that you might not be able to afford and that’s time you should be having fun being engaged. The worst part of dealing with your budget as you go along is that you will go over that budget and go into some deep debt.

Numbers aren’t fun and math is like, a total drag. But get this taken care of at the jump of wedding planning and it’s smooth sailing from there!

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photography by Jessica Janae Photography

Garden Bridal Shower at Terrain • Brittani Elizabeth Photography


A little different than our normal posts, but one we love nonetheless. This bridal shower, photographed by Brittani Elizabeth Photography, is the epitome of rustic elegance. The garden shed at Terrain is the perfect backdrop, and Katie's mom and sister did an incredible job with the decor and flowers. And of course, we adore the classic menus paired with hand-lettered chalkboard signage throughout the venue - a perfect combination. 

From Brittani: Katies Bridal Shower was beautifully set up by her mom and sister. The succulent favors in vintage vases and containers were the perfect addition to the rustic "Garden Shed" at Terrain. The wooden floors and metal chairs created the perfect garden atmosphere as Katie's closest family and friends gathered to celebrate her upcoming wedding.

A little about the couple: Katie and Brian met at summer camp in high school and kept in touch for three years (and many different screen names!) before starting to date in college. They've been together ever since! Brian proposed on Thanksgiving weekend next to the fire in her parents' cabin.

Summer Lakeside Engagement Session • Monika de Myer


This sweet engagement sessions from Monika de Myer has us dreaming of those long summer days and cool summer nights. Marissa and Jason are naturals in front of the camera, and clearly, head-over-heels in love! 

From Monika: Cooling off in the lake on a hot summer day... how much more romantic could this session get?! Surrounded by nature, Marissa and Jason let loose and took a little dip in the lake. It was so fitting because it is SO them!

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Vendors: Marissa's dress by Guess | Headband by Icing Store | Hair and Makeup by Brittany Wohl | Jason's look by Tommy Hilfiger

Meet-the-Maker • Sweet Alice Photography


These meet-the-maker posts are quickly becoming one of our favorites to write each week, and today is certainly no exception. We loved getting to know Erica of Sweet Alice Photography, and the heart behind her business. Her talent is incredible (just wait until you see her work!) and we especially love her special message to couples planning their wedding. 

Hey, I'm Erica! Most days, you can find me sitting on the couch in my husband's pajama pants, drinking coffee, snuggling my kittens (Isaac + Pippin), and editing. I first became interested in photography in college, took one course, and ran with it. I used to take photos of my friends in exchange for a cup of coffee. Pretty sweet deal.

I am known for my play on natural light that evokes a sense of old film and rustic joy. I love capturing small moments because I believe big things live in small houses. I live on tears during wedding vows, almost too tiny to see; the look on a father’s face as he dances with his daughter; the sense of sheer joy as an officiant pronounces a couple married. I eat that up! 
I never thought I would be a photographer. I wanted to be everything in the book when I was younger. An actress. A writer. A teacher. An archaeologist. But I love who I have become. I love what I am able to do, and I love working with the most amazing clients. 

Advice to dear ones planning their weddings… I remember being on the other side of the wedding industry, becoming a bride. I was wrapped up in this, and tied up by that, and was generally overwhelmed by all of the choices and decisions and ideas that were thrown at me. And then my almost-husband said to me, “Breathe. Relax. Take a minute.” Weddings are SUCH a big deal (and rightfully so!), but Pinterest boards and colored mason jars and clever invitations are not at the heart of this day. You know what’s at the heart? YOUR heart. Your heart, and your darling’s heart.

Plan your dream day, but don’t stress over it. Plan your dream day, and enjoy it! Don’t worry about everything going on around you and all of the EVERYTHING that is sent your way. Your wedding day is a day to celebrate you and your lover’s love. Enjoy it, and live in it. And take a moment to look around and remember it. Take a mental snapshot. It’s a beautiful thing.

Rustic and Woodsy Wedding at The Roxbury Barn • All Who Wander Events


The only thing we love more than weddings from our preferred vendors, is when our vendors are the couple in the wedding. We just love everything about this wedding from All Who Wander Events, with their owner, Nicole, as the bride! Clean Plate Pictures captured every last detail at Roxbury Barn, which is pretty much one of the most amazing venues we've ever seen. Check out all the beautiful images below!

From All Who Wander Events: The focus on this wedding from the start was family, food, and fun. The small town of Roxbury, NY provided the perfect backdrop for Andrew + Nicole’s wedding weekend. From Friday through Sunday guests stayed in a local, themed hotel (we're talking about you Roxbury Motel), setting the tone right from the start. The wedding took place at The Roxbury Barn, the perfect rustic location. The ceremony was nestled in a pine grove where guests were surrounded by hundreds of trees and serenaded by an acoustic guitar. The cocktail hour took place on the hilltop with 360 degree views of the Catskill Mountains. Then, dinner took place under the stars and they danced the night away inside the barn. Nicole’s vision from the start was to play off of all of all of the natural elements surrounding the barn. We worked with Nicole to create her intimate, refined rustic wedding by using light grays, ivory, whites, and little pops of gold to enhance the barn and the surrounding woods. Our favorite part was seeing everyone set off wish lanterns when the wedding moved from the barn up to the bonfire. We love The Roxbury Barn!

Vendors: Photography: Clean Plate Pictures | Videography: Crown Street Productions | Event Planning + Design: All Who Wander Event Design | Hair + Makeup: MG Hair + Makeup | Flowers: Blade NYC | Bridesmaid's Dresses: Amsale | Groomsmen Ties: The Tie Bar | Catering: Lekker 209 | Rentals: Events Unlimited Tent + Party Rentals | Venue: The Roxbury Barn | DJ: Scratch Weddings | Guitarist: Jason Leibman | Bride's Gown: Jenny Packham | Bride's Shoes: Valentino | Bride's Headpiece: Tessa Kim

Timeless NYC Engagement Session • Cadence Kennedy


When you imagine what an engagement session looks like in New York City, you might think bright lights and busy streets... people hustling by, rushing from one place to another. But then you see this incredible session from Cadence Kennedy, and you'll have a completely different opinion on a session in the city. From their cozy apartment to the streets of the West Village and the Met, it's almost like time stood still for Nicole and John. See all the beautiful pictures below, and be prepared to reimagine romance in the city.

From Cadence: When I think about the perfect New York City engagement session, I think timeless and classic imagery that will withstand the test of time. Rich black and white romantic images, but still with soft light and airy moments, exemplifying the diversity and uniqueness of this amazing place. Nicole and John are beautiful couple brought together by this city. We started this session with a cozy feel in the their apartment. Nicole snuggled up on the couch, while John played her favorite songs on the guitar. Next it was to the streets of the West Village and outside their doorstep. Nicole looked stunning in her Halston dress. There in the city streets, you can see how John just adored her. To finish this session we headed to the quintessential location, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the steps of the Met to the rooftop, this was the perfect day in the big apple.

Gold & Glitter Styled Anniversary • Jessica Husted Photography


The celebrations don't need to end after the wedding, and we are completely smitten with the idea of a shoot to celebrate your anniversary We love this session at Oak Alley Farm from Jessica Husted Photography - a perfect anniversary tribute, full of bold colors and the most beautiful gold dress you've ever seen. And that cake?! Doesn't get any sweeter than that.

Vendors: Photography: Jessica Husted Photography | Venue: Oak Alley Farms | Paper Goods: Fresh Cut Prints | Cake Topper: Ever Laser | Makeup: Make up by Kate | Dress: Rent the Runway

Meet-the-Maker • Laura Lee Photography


We couldn't be more excited to introduce you one of our favorites, Laura Lee Photography! Laura is not only one of our incredible preferred vendors, but she was also instrumental in getting Red Oak Weddings launched and one of our brand photographers. Needless to say, we love her. She's a big dreamer and doer, and and oh-so talented. Get to know more about her, below!

Hey friend! I’m Laura, of Laura Lee Photography and I absolutely LOVE what I do. My soul comes alive when I get to document love and life through my camera and I am so blessed to wake up each morning telling extraordinary stories through this medium. Most days you can find me in pajamas in my office, dreaming up my next grand adventure with Scott, my incredibly supportive and handsome boyfriend!

I am a lover of all things outdoorsy: mountains, lakes, forests, beaches, cliffs, you name it. I love hiking, paddle-boarding, skiing and kayaking, amongst many other things and wish I was cool enough to rock-climb. I have an obsession with elephants (real ones and collecting them), and every August I make time to frolick through the sunflower fields by my house. My favorite part of summer (or any season, really) is sitting out by my fire-pit with a glass of Riesling and a s’more in hand with friends and family surrounding me with endless laughter. I’m rarely ever found without a warm blanket wrapped around me, and If my wallet didn’t frown upon it, I’d probably buy everything in Anthropolgie Home and Free People. I believe Country concerts are the best from the lawn seats, and that life is too short not to show off my horrible dance moves. I can’t WAIT to hear your story!

My photography style is organic and timeless. I capture authentic, genuine emotions of adventurous couples in love and I am SO lucky to call that my job.

Tell us a little bit about you, and how you got started in photography.

My passion for photography began when I was just a year old. We had a dark room in my house growing up (as my mom was a photographer) and I remember crawling in there constantly out of curiosity for the things she was creating. At age 3, I proclaimed I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up and I constantly attempted to take pictures on our vacations when I was just a toddler! This passion never really went away, but got buried by school until 2012.

I couldn't quite put my finger on why I was drawn so strongly to photography until I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2012. On my first night in Copenhagen, I popped into a cafe with a few friends from school. A lonesome traveler walked through the door with a suitcase bigger than me and I desperately felt myself yearning to know his story. From this day forward I didn’t leave my dorm without my camera in hand. I became a storyteller. Travel stories, love stories, legacy stories. I wouldn’t have my life any other way.

What services do you offer and what do you specialize in?

I specialize in weddings for joyful, authentic, adventurous couples in love! I love outdoor weddings and anything to do with mountains, travel, lakes-- you name it. This lifestyle of loving the outdoors was instilled in me growing up and I just love the way life slows down when you go outside for a breath of fresh air. I LOVE organic, natural details on a wedding day...especially when they are meaningful to the couple!

I also specialize in lifestyle, branding photography for creative entrepreneurs! This sets my heart on fire. I love documenting the creative process, the maker, and all the way through to the finished product for creatives. I went to design school so I think I fell in love with all types of creative outlets when I was there.

What makes your business unique?

I think my couples get a wonderful experience working with me (I might be biased!) But to me, photography, and weddings especially, is so much more than just taking pictures. To me, it’s not about weddings, it’s about marriages. It’s not about transactions, it’s about relationships. It’s not about one day, it’s about a lifetime. And it’s not about pictures, it’s about people. I love what I do and I think when I bring so much passion to every wedding or photoshoot, my couples and clients feed off that energy and you can feel it in their pictures. I also think my style of “posing” is very authentic and unique and is sure to capture the personalities of my couples!

What is your favorite part of working with couples?

I could go on forever! But I think my ultimate favorite part is seeing strangers become friends and telling their unique story. I don’t think I’ve ever left a wedding where I didn’t feel like I ended with two new (or maybe more) great friends. This is a business where you need to love and serve people, and ultimately, I just love people! I also love when I get to see the finished result and can see their story unfolding in their gallery or the pages of their wedding album. Everyone’s story is unique so it makes for quite an exciting career!

One piece of advice for couples?

Just one? Okay..if I had to choose, it would be: Let love grow! My mom always told me growing up that when you find the person you’re meant to be with they won’t try to hinder your other relationships, friendships, personal time, etc. They will allow you to grow, and be the best version of yourself you could be. I searched for that for a long time and I am SO thankful that I found that now. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world!

Childhood Career aspiration?

Photographer. Seriously, I think I was born with it in my blood.

Coffee or Tea?

Um, wine? Just kidding. I like both and try not to drink either too often! I go through stages. This week it’s tea.

Hidden talent?

Wow great question! Um, I used to play violin, piano, guitar and drums...but I’m probably horrible at all of them these days (although I can play anything by ear on piano)...so because that’s not really a current talent let’s go with Ping Pong!! I’m pretty nasty at it in my opinion.

Unique & Colorful Wedding at The Inn at Ragged Edge • Addie Eshleman Photography


There's no better way to start a Monday than with this fun wedding from Addie Eshleman Photography. There are so many weddings that fall into our "favorites" list... but weddings, like this one, that are so clearly a true reflection of the couple and their relationship.... those are our favorite. The colors, the flowers, the décor - all of it perfectly understated but still completely original. We know you'll love it as much as we do!

From Addie : There’s something so special about being able to capture life’s special moments for others. It is even more fun when your friends are the ones in front of the lens.
If you know Conor and I, it is no secret that we love Carlisle. The restaurants, history, and all around charm cannot be beat… But a place is nothing without the people. We’ve been so blessed to have been surrounded by some amazing souls since starting our life here. And while they might not even realize it, these two have absolutely played a role in making Carlisle feel like home.

I am SO thrilled to see Seth and Amy so happy together and tying the knot! I cannot wait to see all the great things you two do, the lives you change and the waves you make together!

I can’t say enough good things about these two… Amy + Seth, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your special day!

Their love for each other was so visible every single time they looked at each other. They were surrounded by a fantastic group of family and close friends. Every detail was well thought out and beautiful executed.

This wedding was the perfect ending to my 2015 season!

Vendors: Venue: The Inn at Ragged Edge | Dress: BHLDN | Catering: A Matter of Taste | Photography: Addie Eshleman

Jacqueline Cicala Beauty Bridal Atelier • Monika de Myer Photography


Located in the heart of Morristown, Jacqueline Cicala's Beauty Bridal Atelier is the epitome of the ultimate bridal experience. A private salon, full of champagne, flowers, sweet treats... and of course, the finest in hair and makeup design. These photos from Monika de Myer Photography perfectly capture the essence of the space: inspired by Paris and surrounded by the most talented artists in the area, you'll absolutely feel like a princess for the day. 

Tell us a little bit about you and how you got started: I am a Creative Hair and Makeup Artist with 19 years of experience in the beauty industry and a great passion for all of the splendid things in life!

Growing up in Ecuador I was surrounded by my family of artists, writers and musicians, all of whom inspired me. I knew growing up, that my career would have to be something I loved and something that would put me in the paths of other like-minded (creative) people. I love to travel and as a freelance artist, I have traveled to many places, beautiful homes, breathtaking hotels, and film locations, which have afforded me the opportunity to see and learn from many different cities and cultures and bring what I have learned back into my work.

In 2009, I founded Looks We Create, my very first company, which was freelance hair and makeup services for the fashion industry, movies, and television. I absolutely loved working amidst some of he industry's most talented artists, and absorbed so much from some of the finest salons and pioneers of our industry. Looks We Create was a launching point for my business and a place where I developed lasting relationships with top-notch hair and makeup artists, who have remained on my team ever since.

In 2011, I opened my boutique salon in Morristown, NJ called Blowout which was the very first blowout bar in Morris County. I founded the simple concept on inspiration from my everyday life: A woman wants to feel absolutely beautiful every day, not just on special occasions. Being a mother of twins and a business woman, with very little time to get ready,Blowout provides busy women, like me, with a quick and easy way to get some much-needed pampering and look their best in just 45 minutes or less! Blowout is all about feeling your best- our chic, urban boutique salon has a unique look and a staff of talented, well-educated artists.

This year, with many successful years in business, I have opened an additional location for brides only called Jacqueline Cicala Beauty Bridal Atelier and it is so special! I left no detail out making this dream come true. It was so important to me in opening my Atelier that I combine a stunning space with only the best service to create the ultimate wedding day experience. Our private, beautifully designed atelier, inspired by the salons of Paris, offers a breathtaking space for any woman who is looking for extra special beauty services, a private bridal trial, or bridal party hair and makeup.

What services do you offer and/or what do you specialize in? Bridal hair and makeup in our beautiful Atelier or on location.... but it doesn't stop there. We’ll take all the time needed to make a bride feel so very special. Our dedicated artists sole focus is on the bride. From the minute she walks in, our brides will feel like a princess—with champagne,fresh flowers, soft music, some guilty sweets, the finest beauty products and my exclusively designed cosmetic line to try. A very private session, with no limits.

Where are you located? Jacqueline Cicala Beauty Bridal Atelier is located in the center of the beautiful and historical Morristown, NJ.

What makes your business unique?
 I have been in this industry for so many years and met so many different walks of life. We adapt and change the Atelier experience for every different couple we meet. Just like your wedding day, this is not a one-size-fits-all operation and we love that. At Jacqueline Cicala Beauty Bridal Atelier, we celebrate diversity and welcome challenges.

What is your favorite part of working with couples? I love to hear couples' stories of their journey and especially how they met. I think it is important for me to get to know them to be able to personalize their look. As a beauty consultant, I love to create a couple's dream look and to know I am a part of one of the single most special moments of their lives. It is an honor each time a bride/ couple chooses me.