| 3. Hire a wedding planner for an outdoor venue|
Melissa Consorte (in photo) always dreamed of an outdoor wedding with a beautiful natural backdrop, much like the one in upstate New York where she got married in 2007. "While it sounds so simple and rustic, the workload and responsibilities were twice as much as I expected," she says. "I never thought I'd be someone that would use a wedding planner, but if I had budgeted for one, it would have been much more enjoyable and probably would have cost the same in the long run." Melissa didn't account for all the things that an outdoor wedding would need: generators, bathrooms, grills for the caterer, pitchers for the water—even the salt and pepper shakers she remembered the day before her walk down the aisle. "Wedding planners and event designers know all of the key vendors (florists, caterers, bartenders, etc.) because they work with them on a regular basis. Many times, those close relationships can mean discounts or better pricing for the bride," says Tara Wilson, Event Designer and Entertaining Expert, of Tara Wilson Events. Plus, you won't have nightmares that you forgot to order wine glasses or butter knives.
CHECKLIST: You have to pay a wedding planner a percentage of the total cost of your wedding, but the discounts, convenience, and peace of mind they offer can be worth it.