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Old 01-03-2006, 06:08 PM
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Is your "Dream Wedding" possible or do you
fear it's only a fantasy?

Today I share some valuable tips to help make
your dream wedding come true...


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P.S. Did you catch me on the radio last Fall?

I was interviewed by David Gardner on the
"Motley Fool Radio Show" on NPR - what fun!

If you'd like to listen to the interview and
hear how I sound "live" in person, go here:


*** Reader Idea ***

"Hi Steph! I just got married and I had
something at my wedding that I would like
to share.

Neither my husband nor I particularly like
alcohol, and my family doesn't drink at all,
so it seemed ludicrous to us that we have a
bar, which would cost us an extra $1000-3000
dollars, at least most places.

However, we were stuck with the dilemma of
not wanting to appear cheap or cheesy and
only serve sodas, so we got a little
creative. We arranged with the caterer
to have an Italian Soda Bar.

We ordered flavorings from Monin.com and
served Italian sodas (2 ounces of flavor
to 7 ounces sparkling water, which most
caterers include in their non- alcoholic
bars), flavored lemonades, and flavored
ice- teas.

The result was an incredibly inexpensive
way of adding some class, and not having
to worry about Uncle Bert streaking through
the reception. The guests loved them, and
my best friend asked permission to steal
the idea for her wedding next year."

- Melanie


Love, love, love the idea!!!

Anything to stop Uncle Bert from streaking
through the reception, and you from turning
into another Adrienne Samen.

FYI: Adrienne is the drunk bride from
Connecticut who got into a brawl and was
arrested on her wedding a few months ago...
The story (and her mug shot) was all over
the national news...What a nightmare!

Seriously though, an Italian Soda Bar is a
fabulous solution for any couple wishing to
have a classy wedding without alcohol.

I'm sure many of the brides-to-be reading
this are going to "steal" this idea too!

Thanks for sharing.

*** A Photographer Speaks Out ***

"Hi Stephi,

I am a Professional "Wedding" Photographer
in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and I want to Thank
You for validating my philosophy that I
promote to my clients.

I have been in the wedding industry for
15 years and I won't say that I have never
used any of the "tricks" that you mentioned.
However, I now am a strong promoter for the
bride and groom saving lots of money by
"Doing it Yourself".

My packages (from 495.00 to 795.00) give
Prints, Negatives and Hi-Rez CD's to the
couple, but no album. Like you say in your
ebook, "this is a great way to save money
and can be a fun project" regarding them
putting their own album together.

Stephi, I meet with my clients daily and
will start mentioning your ebook to them.
I will probably even use some of your
quotes to show them that I REALLY am
interested in saving them a lot of money.
They can start saving with me and continue
with you."

Barry Dreyer
Ft. Lauderdale


Thanks for the endorsement (blushing!).

You're proof positive that there are
indeed some honest and reasonably priced
pros out there!

I often receive harassing letters from
"wedding photographers" asking me why I
bash them and then attempting to
convince me that anyone who charges less,
doesn't specialize in weddings, and gives
away the negatives can't possibly be
a good photographer.


The truth is, I don't bash the industry...
I just bash the super pricey "fat cat"
wedding photographers that take advantage
of so many brides out there...

...Like that husband and wife team in
Albany, New York that was recently sued by
State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
because 41 different couples never received
the photos they paid between $3,000 and
$4,000 for!

Of course NOT ALL photographers are con
artists,but of the many thousands of brides
who've taken my advice, I've yet to hear
back from a single one after the wedding
telling me she wished she'd hired a MORE
EXPENSIVE photographer!

So here's the bottom line...

Yes it's a free country and any photographer
can charge any price they want and even
refuse to give you the negatives.

At the same time, you have the right to
shop around until you find the best deal
for your specific needs and you are under
no-obligation to hire any photographer that
doesn't meet your needs.

Of course, some brides who don't know any
better agree to pay thousands of dollars
for photography, don't negotiate to keep
their negatives, and then pay hundreds more
after the wedding for reprints.

But hopefully, you'll be one of the
"savvy brides" who does her homework, asks
all the right questions (like I include in
my book), and then hires a great photographer
at a reasonable price...

And that "great" photographer for you may be
a sensible "wedding photographer" like Barry
in Ft. Lauderdale...or a "fashion
photographer" like the one I hired in LA...
or it might be a photography student at a
nearby college...

Remember: It's your wedding, so YOU MAKE

ONLY YOU can decide what's best for you.

Now go out there and make your dreams come

*** To Buy or Not To Buy ***


I have to say my wedding plans are great!
I thought I could do everything myself. I
also felt I could just read your emails and
never have to buy your book.

Well, After many free e-mails ( I am a true
bargain hunter) I went out and bought your

Well, I really thought you had nothing to
offer me. I read your book in 2 days and
realized I had some things to learn. I
shopped around for EVERYTHING! I was
"Interviewing" every vendor as if they
needed me. They not only came down in
price substantially, they added bonuses
for free.

You are soooo right! Not everyone is the
"price sheet"!

My DJ came down $500.00. My video guy came
down in price more than $1500.00 and my
limos are so cheap I now have them picking
us up at the reception for F-R-E-E!!!

I have been empowered by the bargain hunter
bug you planted into me. Since I live in NYC,
weddings can break you to begin with. I
realized the price on the list is NOT
absolute and they will move down as long as
they know they have competition! They should
accommodate ME!!! Well, most of them did!
I now have top quality companies doing the
top job they do cheaper than they will for
other people! I love it! Maybe I can buy a
house in this crazy market in NYC!

Thank you! Thank You! Thank you!!!

- Sarah"


Congratulations Sarah...Good for you!

Lots of readers enjoy my free wedding tips
by email and never buy my book...which is
fine, I'm happy to help!

Of course, as you found, if you want to
really dig in and understand all the
specific ideas and techniques I teach on
EXACTLY how to plan a dream wedding on a
budget, then my eBook kit is an invaluable
tool that's guar-an-teed to save you money.

As you discovered, the techniques are so
easy to apply, literally anyone can
immediately use them successfully (even
if you're shy or a "nice girl").

I think it's way cool that my $30 book
was able to save you over $2000...

I'm happy for you and grateful for your


"Dear Stephi,

I got my money's worth from your book
right away.

It took some walking away & looking
farther than my local area but I found
what appears to be the perfect photographer
for me: she will take the photos then turn
the exposed film, physically and legally,
over to me. I'd gotten to the point of
email queries to photographers down in
Los Angeles after batting zero with personal
visits to studios near where I live
(Antelope Valley). Her response to me
began, "I don't earn my living through

Liquor: We are supplying our own liquor.
There is no issue about "corking fees" or
any such thing with the location or caterer.
We are, however, on our own in trying to
figure out what and how much to buy. I've
looked at charts on the internet but all
they tell you are how many drinks per bottle
and an estimate of how many drinks per person
per hour of various functions. Even if I use
those charts to decide how much alcohol
overall, how can I figure out how much of
what? How much wine? What kinds? How much
beer? How much vodka? Gin? What else?
What mixes?

If you can provide any help, I'd appreciate

Meredith Rust


Sounds like you're on the right track.

Way to go!

As far as figuring out the amounts and types
of drinks to order, your caterer should be
able to provide you with a suggested list
(just tell them that you want a quote to
see whether or not it's worth for you to
provide your own).

Then, just for comparison, you should also
call your local liquor store or distributor
and ask them for a quote as well (let them
know how many people you're having and for
how long etc.) and they should also be able
to provide you with a suggested drink list too.

FYI: this is exactly what I did for my
wedding! Then I compared the two quotes,
decided what I needed, went down to Costco
and bought everything there for half the
price my caterer quoted me...and then saved
several hundred more dollars after the wedding
by returning all the un-opened bottles!

Hope that's helpful!

Your Friend

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Stephi Stewart Weddings, Inc.
311 N. Robertson Drive #114
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-09-2006 at 09:42 PM.
Old 01-03-2006, 06:09 PM
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SoonToBeWed SoonToBeWed is offline
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Do you ever wish someone could just tell
you exactly what things "SHOULD" cost for
your wedding?

A bride-to-be named Alexa asked me about
this (see below) and you're both in luck
because I'm going to reveal the single
most important thing you need to know about
what your costs "SHOULD" be...


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*** How Should The Percentages Break Down? ***

"Dear Stephi,

Again, thank you so much for all of your
incredible tips!

I am just in the beginning stages of planning
my own wedding, and my biggest problem is that
I'm really unsure about what I want - a big
ceremony, or a small, intimate ceremony? A
giant reception, or a small party afterwards?

I'm just not the typical girl who has always
pictured what her wedding would be like, and I
guess I'm struggling with the images I've been
fed in fairytales, and my practical intellect!

Even though my parents are saying they're
willing to spend whatever my fiancé and I want
(within reason, of course), I just can't
rationalize spending anywhere from $20,000 to
$40,000 on one day/night! (Even $10,000 sounds
like too much for one party - and I'm hardly
the kind of girl most would consider cheap!)

Anyway, here's a question for you: How should
the percentages break down according to the
budget you want to stick to? That is, if I
want a $15,000 wedding or a $40,000 wedding,
is there a certain percentage each part of the
process should cost? (i.e. 60% for catering, 10%
for flowers, 5% for dress, 10% for invites and
postage, 10% for cake, 5% for photographer,

Thanks again!"

- Alexa


Thanks for the great question Alexa.

Now listen carefully...

If you want to have a dream wedding on any
budget, the very first thing you need to do
is eliminate the word "should" from your

I don't care what any other book, web site
or wedding consultant tells you, there is
absolutely NO WAY to predict what the
percentages or costs of anything "should" be
because YOU ARE UNIQUE and your wedding can
be anything you want it to be.

You see, there are an endless (and I mean
endless!) number of options and price ranges
to choose from, and it really comes down to
what you personally want, and even more
importantly, what you're able to find,
negotiate and achieve (more about this in
my book).

Bottom line: It is "your" wedding, so act
like it!

If you're thinking from a "should" perspective
in regards to your wedding (i.e. "should" I do
this?, What "should" this cost?, What "should"
the percentages be?), you're about to fall into
THE TRAP of believing that the outrageous prices
and policies of the wedding industry are normal
and what you "should" pay!

NOTE: If you want to be "normal" and get ripped
off like the majority of brides do, go right

If, on the other hand, you'd like to turn the
tables and fire up the feisty girl in you who
knows what she wants, believes the impossible is
possible, and is willing to do what it takes to
get it, then here's what you need to do...

The questions you ask yourself (and others) are
criticalto your wedding success, so you need to
start replacing the word "should" with the word

Instead of thinking in terms of What "should"
this cost? What "should" the percentages be?
Why not try these on for size: What "could"
this cost? What "could" the percentages be?

Do you see where I'm going with this?

"Could" opens you to possibilities.

"Should" opens you to the influence of others
and industry "norms".

For example, how different would your answer be
to the question, "What "should" my dress cost?"
vs. "What "could" my dress cost?"

I used this type of thinking and ended up
finding a $2000 dress for $107 at a sample sale!
Now, that's not what a dress "should" cost is it?
Who cares! It's what dress "could" cost, and
that's what really matters because What a dress
(or anything else) "should" cost is completely

Here's another example...

Instead of accepting that a wedding photographer
"should" keep my negatives (the norm in the
wedding industry), I wondered to myself if I
"could" keep them so I could save a bundle on the
reprints...and this enabled me to find a great
photographer who was willing to let me keep "my"
negatives, which also saved me a fortune! All
because I wondered if I could.

Are you getting this?

I hope so because it's really quite easy!

You can CHANGE your wedding destiny simply by
shifting the way you think, the questions you
ask, and how you approach wedding vendors
(communicating at an unconscious level that
you're in charge, NOT THEM!).

I know because without any prior experience I
planned my dream wedding and saved over $10,000
off my expenses in the process...and if I can do
it, so can you!

If you want to learn how to get outstanding results
like I did (and now thousands of other brides have
too), I invite you to download "Fire Your Wedding
Planner!" eBook kit yet.

It includes everything you need to plan your dream
wedding on a budget (including how to overcome
overwhelm, the 10 biggest mistakes brides make and
how to avoid them, plus all the money saving
techniques I personally used to save over $10,000
off my own wedding expenses).

I'm so sure that you'll save minimum of $300 off
your wedding expenses (10 times the cost of my kit),
using my ideas, tools and techniques, that I'm
willing to give you 30 days to check it out for
free and try it out for yourself!

Go here to download your "30 Day Trial" now:


Your Friend

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Stephi Stewart Weddings, Inc.
311 N. Robertson Drive #114
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-09-2006 at 09:43 PM.
Old 01-04-2006, 04:55 PM
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Are you needlessly paying outrageous

Why would pay actually MORE when you can
easily find the same quality products and
vendors for LESS?

If you ENJOY WASTING MONEY, then don't read
another sentence...

..But if you absolutely MUST SAVE BIG in
order to make your dream wedding come true,
you're going to love, love, love the specific
ideas I'm about to share (*Hint: If it says
"WEDDING", expect to pay a 25-300% mark-up!)

Ready or not, here they come...


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*** I Almost Got Scammed ***

"Hi there, I do have a story to share of a time
when I was almost scammed.

I called a site in San Jose to ask how much it
would cost to reserve the site for a wedding
reception. The woman told me the price, which
was exorbitant.

I then called back a few days later, asking
another woman how much it would cost to rent
the site for a "reception". The quote was half
the price!

Because I said reception, instead of wedding
reception, I saved BIG. I was almost scammed,
but luckily reserved the site for my reception
at half the price (the RIGHT price, not some
crazy amount!)

- Angela Malmstrom"


Nice going Girlfriend!

This is a perfect example of the OUTRIGHT
GREED and MANIPULATION that many businesses
try to pull on us brides!

I mean, just because you're planning a
wedding doesn't mean you magically have
loads of extra money to burn, does it?

No way!

So why do these vendors think they can get
away with this charade?

Unfortunately, because many brides are too
naive to know any better...which is EXACTLY
what these predatory wedding pros are
counting on!

That's right, I said it...they're PREDATORS
because they prey on and victimize brides
for their own gain.

What's so insane about it is that this
predatory behavior is that it is common
practice almost everywhere!

Frankly, I think it is disgraceful!

And that's why I'm so committed to helping

You see, what the wedding industry doesn't
want you to know (and hates that I'm telling
you) is that anything with the word WEDDING
attached to it is going to cost you 25-300%
more than the NON-WEDDING version of the
same thing.

Lucky for you, you were able to outsmart
them at their own game...

I mean, if they think they can charge you
double or triple when you tell them your
event is a wedding... you certainly can
play the same game and get a quote for a
"party" or "family gathering", right?

Well guess what? You can expand this
concept to your entire wedding by looking
for the "NON-WEDDING" versions of literally

Now a lot of wedding professionals get
totally "bent out of shape" when I make
this recommendation..

Well all I have to say is this...

Yes, there are many wonderful HIGH PRICED
Pros out there who have the experience and
ability to do a wonderful job for you (AND
deserve to make a living like anyone else)...

BUT IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD their inflated

Then just let the "Rich and Careless" brides
pay those outrageous mark-ups, while you go
out and find yourself some steals...

Because I assure you that can almost always
find someone else who can satisfy your needs
for FAR LESS than the Predators and Pros!

Not sure how to do this?

Then you're definitely going to want to
read the following examples shared by two
different brides who SAVED HUGE on their
photography costs and got everything on

...Plus a third success story from a bride
who found BIG BARGAINS on her flowers and

And if these brides can do it, so can you!


Let's find out how...

*** Can You Picture this? ***


I have another photographer suggestion.

I know a number of very talented artists, and
after asking around, I found one who wants to
"break in" to wedding photography.

Her problem? She doesn't have a portfolio!

My solution? I traded my right to the negatives
and copyrights, and I gave her permission to use
us in her portfolio, for her services.

Basically, for the cost of developing and
reprinting, I received unlimited engagement,
bridal and wedding photography time, and per
our contract, I can order as many reprints and
enlargements as I want at her cost.

I understand this deal could have cost me
thousands upon thousands of dollars.

I expect to spend around $300, and she agreed
to do a "test shoot" of our "family" to make
sure we were on the same page stylistically.

They are among the best photos I've ever seen
of myself. I would have been willing to pay
thousands for her quality work.

Be Creative!!

Melissa Anderson"


Now that's what I call a super deal!

Just one little piece of advice as far as
working with a total "newcomer" (no matter how
stylistically talented you think she is)...

It is a very good idea to write down a list
of all the MUST HAVE shots along with a timeline
for the day and review it with her BEFORE your
wedding so she doesn't miss anything that a Pro
automatically knows to shoot.

Just keep in mind that you want to "tell the
story" of your wedding in pictures, and therefore
should think about the following ahead of time:

1) What shots will the story begin with?

2) What significant People, Moments and
Perspectives MUST SHE capture to tell the
complete story?

3) How will you create a picture perfect ending?

*** Finding A Photographer On Your Terms ***

"Your advice has been so helpful.

After reading your warnings about wedding
packages and hidden charges from pro
photographers I realized I had better start
looking for a freelance photographer early
on in the game.

I came across an awesome website called
creativemoonlighter.com which is absolutely
free and very user-friendly. You create
a classified ad type job listing describing
exactly what you need done. Local pros bid
on the job you have listed, and they follow
YOUR rules, instead of the other way around.

You name your rate. You specify that you
need to keep the negatives or disk at no
extra charge. You specify that a contract
must be in place for your mutual protection,
and that you insist on seeing previous work
before signing.

Within days I had several bids from local pros
with extensive background credentials, willing
to work for $20-$30 an hour, INCLUDING the film,
the prints, and the negatives! This allows me
to figure in a generous tip for the pro I hire,
which I think is what all brides would prefer to
do, rather than feel they've already been tapped
out by outrageous charges.

Please share the link with your readers. They
will be giving business to sincere local pros,
and taking it away from the greedy scam artists!


Poppy D'Alessio


Great tip...Thanks for sharing!

FYI: Creativemoonlighter.com has been bought
by Guru.com and I'm not sure if it's as good
as it used to be...

However, many of my readers have reported
similar "great finds" on respond.com and
craigslist.org so be sure to check those

*** How I Saved On My Flowers & Cake ***

"Dear Stephi:

I have been a faithful reader of yours for quite
some time now. Your book has inspired me to be
creative in achieving the wedding I want on a
budget my pocket could afford. I would like to
share two of my successes with you.

FLOWERS: For the centerpieces, I wanted this
dramatic look but did not want to spend a lot of
money on something that was going to die.

I went to A.C. Moore when they were having one
of their often advertised 50% off sales on
flowers and approached one of their floral
designers. I told her the look I was going for
and brought in swatches of both my dress color
and the color of the bridesmaids dresses. She
quickly went to work finding flowers that she
thought would best compliment my color scheme.
A week later she showed me an example, and it
was absolutely beautiful.

The best part was that A.C. Moore does free
floral arranging as long as you buy their flowers.
The total cost for each centerpiece including tax
was $23.62.

I took the centerpiece to a florist to see how
much they would charge to replicate it using real
flowers and was quoted a price between $75.00
and $100.00. Can you believe that?

CAKE: I used your suggestion of networking to
save big here.

While at a florist in my earlier stages of
planning, I happened to strike up a friendly
conversation with the florist who I knew had
just done a wedding for a friend of mine.

I told her how I knew that anything "wedding"
related always cost more than what it should.
Well, even though her prices for flowers were
way out of my budget, she gave me the number to
a woman who does cakes on the side as a hobby.

I met with the woman and showed her the cake that
I wanted and she only charged me $1.50 per slice!
The total cost for a five-tier cake with
decorations only cost me $300 versus the $700
that a well-known baker wanted to charge me.
She even has her own van and delivers the cakes
at no-charge.

Well, sorry to write you such a long e-mail, but
I just wanted you to know how much your book has
helped me to consider things that don't have the
word wedding attached to them and to save money
in the process.

Your words of wisdom are ones that I will
definitely keep with me to use in other areas of
my life as well.


Ebony Glass
Brockton, Massachusetts"


So happy I was able to inspire you!

You're proof positive that literally
ANY BRIDE can save big by using the
simple techniques I teach to saving.

The common theme I see in your successes
is that you were not afraid to communicate
and ask questions.

This is KEY.

A lot of brides are afraid to ask a lot
questions or negotiate discounts because
they're afraid of imposing, appearing rude,
or embarrassing themselves.

They don't realize how easy it is to take
charge like you did...

You get what I mean when I say,"It's your
wedding, so act like it! You're spending
the money, so YOU ARE IN CHARGE!"

The fact is, there will ALWAYS be someone
willing to meet your needs in exchange for
YOUR money, so the sooner you put yourself
in the "Directors Chair" the better!

Makes complete sense now doesn't it?


So ask for help and advice from everyone
and anyone you can (the worst that can happen
is they say "Sorry, I can't help you!")...

Likewise, don't ever feel embarrassed to tell
the truth and say, "I can't afford you/this
on my budget, are you flexible on your price
or can you recommend someone else who can help

You'll be amazed at how many vendors will
drop their prices on the spot!

Okay, I gotta run...

I'll write you again soon.

Your Friend

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Stephi Stewart Weddings, Inc.
311 N. Robertson Drive #114
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-17-2006 at 03:12 PM.
Old 01-04-2006, 04:57 PM
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How's the wedding planning coming along?

As always, I have some great wedding tips
and ideas for you today...


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*** Reader Idea ***

"First off, thank you so much for the great
information and ideas! I am not getting married
until Spring of next year, but you have opened
my eyes to a lot of the good and the bad about
wedding planning.

I wanted to share an idea that I heard about from
talking with my friend Erika. Whenever her mother
throws a fundraising party for a local museum
(very small museum) they get their food catered by
the local Vocational High School's Culinary

The food is just as good as a "professional", the
presentation is beautiful and the cost is almost
nothing compared to a caterer.

If I am not mistaken, she only pays for the food
itself (which the school gets at discount) because
the banquet counts as a project for the students.

It is an option worth looking into if a couple is
on a small budget."

Jenn MacDonald


Love, Love, Love this idea!

As you know, when it comes to saving big, I am a
huge fan of creative alternatives to typical
wedding products & services, and this is EXACTLY
the type of thinking I try to encourage.

Incidentally, my husband won a speech contest about
how to get things for free and it included a similar
idea about eating free gourmet meals by becoming a
"taster" at your local culinary institute...

Now considering the fact that food/catering
is usually the biggest expense of your wedding,
it's certainly worth picking up the yellow pages
and making a call to your local culinary school
or college!

Let me know how it goes!



We have been looking for a florist who will
provide us with loose stems, which we plan to
arrange ourselves. Basically, just setting them
in glass vases - very simple arrangements.

We also want to have a friend (who was a florist
15 years ago) hand tie our bouquets.

It's unbelievable how much florists do NOT want
you to do this!

We have had florists tell us outright that they
will not sell loose stems - they must be in an

We told one florist (one of the most well-known,
recommended florists in St. Pete, FL) that we
wanted 12 stems of a certain flower for an altar
arrangement, and they told us THEY would decide
how many stems were necessary for an arrangement,
and WE would have to bring THEM the vase. How
ludicrous to pay them to set flowers in a vase.

Secondly, they could not give us an exact price on
how much the bouquets would be - only that they
would be either $98, $120, or $150. They wouldn't
know precisely until the flowers came in. So
basically, my bill could be anywhere from $588
(6 bouquets) to $900, but I won't know until a
couple days before my wedding. This doesn't
exactly lend itself to staying within a budget.

My mother and I also have noticed how frequently
florists try to "guilt" you into spending more
"since after all...it is your WEDDING DAY and you
must spend as much as possible or you're going to
regret it and your whole day will be ruined." They
actually act offended that we even ask them,
trained artists, to stay within budget parameters.

We, of course, are not buying into this. We have
walked out of four florists so far.

At this point, we have realized we cannot tell
florists this is for a wedding. This obviously
puts up their "stupid bride" radar. However, if
this does not work either, we may have to purchase
our flowers in bulk from an online flower
wholesaler. Have you had any recommendations,
warnings, or feedback regarding this?

Unfortunately, in our area, we have not been able
to find a farmers' market or a wholesaler open to
the public. Who knows, we may be going to the local
grocery store where there are no restrictions on
what we can buy.

Thanks for your time and for all of the sensible
information you provide brides-to-be."


Jennifer Hutton


Right on girlfriend!

Walking out is exactly what you should do when
you sense that a florist (or any other wedding
vendor) is giving you the run around!

As I recommend in my book, one of the best ways
to save on flowers is going directly to the local
flower mart in your area and buying them wholesale,
then hiring someone reasonable to do all of your

As you mentioned, if you don't live in a big city,
going to the local chain grocery store is also a
good option since they often get low "bulk" prices
since the chain buys so much. Just ask to speak
with the "buyer" and see what kind of deal they
can offer you (I've received many emails from brides
who've had success doing this).

Also check out local farmer's market as well as
Costco, Wal-Mart or Sam's Clubs if you have these
in your area.

Lastly, consider buying from an on-line wholesaler
as you can often get super duper deals!

Check out FlowerSales.com, Marisolblooms.com
or Freshroses.com

Please keep me updated on your progress!



I am in the process of planning my wedding and most
everything is coming together nicely, however, I am
having difficulty registering for gifts.

My fiance and I are both 37 and have had many years
to acquire items for our own spaces. This isn't the

My question is whether or not it is acceptable to ask
for gift certificates in lieu of actual wedding gifts.
I do have several stores I am interested in registering
with, however, I don't want to put anything items in
writing until we have a chance to get our things together
and evaluate what we need. I was hoping to provide
guests with the list of stores I was going to register
with, that way they aren't just giving money, but can
choose the store they want their gift to come from, and
my fiance and I can go shopping after the wedding.

Is that just rude???

Please help!"


Charlene Kimbell


Great question!

As you know, I'm not a big fan of etiquette (make your
own rules!), but whether or not it is "rude" really

FYI: Rudeness is not the only issue here...there
are a few other things to consider before making a
decision on how to handle this:

First of all, understand that your guests want to
give you gifts that you WANT AND NEED to
help you get started in life.

Many would also like to buy you something UNIQUE
that you'll remember them by (e.g. every time you
use your new toaster oven, you'll think of Aunt Sally).

Thus, even if you ask for gift certificates, some
will still choose to buy you gifts for their own
ego satisfaction, which means if you're not
registered, you're guaranteed to get stuck with a
handful of gifts that you don't want, don't need or
are duplicates.

So herein lies your dilemma. You prefer gift
certificates, but you also want to avoid unwanted
gifts which are such a waste of good m-o-n-e-y!

So what should you do?

All I can tell you is that when I think back to
my own wedding, I remember how I cringed when
I looked at the price tag of an "Amish Quilt Wall
Hanging" I received from a distant cousin in

To be honest, it simply wasn't "my taste" and
though I'm sure she thought it was a really nice
gift, to me it was essentially over $100 wasted
that I could have used for something we really
loved and needed.

So here's what I recommend:

First, in terms of asking for gift certificates
(or cash), I would NOT print this on your
invitations or anything.

Instead, I would ask your parents, best man and
maid of honor to "relay" your desire to friends
friends and family.

Make sure they also "pass on" the message that
you intend to communicate what the certificates
were used towards after the wedding (e.g. you'll
write thank-you notes telling each guest that the
money was put towards a new set of knives, a bed

Additionally, to decrease the likelihood of
receiving unwanted gifts that you may not be able
to return, I'd recommend that you go ahead and
register anyway at a few big department stores that
have flexible return policies (including an option
to receive a "mail check" as an alternative to a
store credit).

Note: most stores don't advertise that they'll
accept returns and send you "check", but a
handful (including Bloomingdales) will indeed
do this! You simply have to ask!

Why is this important?

In this way, you can easily exchange any
unwanted gifts for things you really need and/or
return gifts and get back the money to use for
needed items available at other stores.

Make sure your parents, best man and maid of
honor also communicate this registry "alternative"
to guests as some won't like the idea of giving
a gift certificate.

*In case the idea of returning gifts makes you
feel uncomfortable, just consider this:

Do you really think your guests would prefer that
you stash their gift away in the back of a closet or
give it away to charity just because they made
an unappealing choice?

Wouldn't they be happier knowing you exchanged
it for something you really wanted or needed?

The way I see it, what you're actually doing is
providing a valuable "waste management" service
that benefits you both!

With this approach, you can both "put out the word"
that you'd prefer gift certificates and also protect
yourself from waste.

Oh, and one last thing...

Many department stores offer you an additional
discount "after the wedding" off items that guests
don't purchase for you, so if you register ahead
of time and then want to purchase things you
still need when you get back from your
honeymoon, you'll save even more m-o-n-e-y!

Okay, I gotta run...

I'll write you again soon.

Your Friend

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Old 01-04-2006, 04:58 PM
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I wanna ask you question...

IF YOU COULD...would you have one
of those lavish $100,000 "celebrity style"

I'm talking IF money were "No Object"...

Well yeah!

What girl wouldn't?

I mean, if money really was "No Object" and

Well, unfortunately, money doesn't "grow on
trees" where I come from...and I bet it
doesn't where you're from either!

That's why I'm writing to share this VERY

Contrary to what "wedding industry folks"
want you to think, you absolutely DO NOT
have to GO INTO DEBT to have the beautiful
wedding of your dreams!

I've taught thousands of brides how to save
huge money on their weddings, and nothing
would make me happier than to help you too!

Of course, if you're rich, feel free to spend
wildly and waste all the money you want!

On the other hand, if you value money like I
do, then WHY WASTE IT unnecessarily when
you don't have to? (And trust me, you don't!!!)

Instead, imagine all the great things that
could do with a few thousand extra dollars...

Need a little inspiration?

I recently received a fabulous success story
from a bride named Fredia Schafer in Gardendale,
Alabama that I think you'll enjoy hearing...

She saved over $9,000 on her wedding with my
techniques and then used the money she saved
to build a studio in the basement for her fiancé
who is a videographer...

How amazing is that!!!

Go here to "listen in" on Fredia's story
(she left it for me on my voicemail!):




So what are you going to do with the money you're
going to save?

Imagine the possibilities... because they're real!

I can't wait to hear your story :-)

Oh, by the way, if you haven't had a chance to
download my money saving eBook kit yet, I
recommend you take advantage of my 30 day
free-trial offer right away so you can see
for yourself how my ideas can help you!

*Note: WASTEFUL SPENDERS - Don't Bother!

ONLY download my "Fire Your Wedding Planner!" kit
IF you're really serious about having MORE WEDDING

Go here for all the details:


You'll be glad you did!

Okay, gotta run...

I'm off to my favorite Yoga class...

Have a great week!

Your friend,

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Old 01-04-2006, 04:59 PM
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By popular demand, I'm re-publishing an issue
from last year which was the first in my series
of BRIDAL SCAMS to watch out for.

I call it the "Not-So-Free Carribean Honeymoon
Scam" and it is one of the more common stories
from among the 1000+ I've collected from brides
around the globe who want to HELP YOU avoid
making the same mistakes they did!

I've also included a few success stories to
inspire you!


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"I was contacted by a travel company and told i
had won a trip and sent them the deposit for the
information (stupid action #1).

The next day looked it up on the web and found a
discussion board full of folks griping about the
scam...but don't know if it really qualifies as a
scam or just a nasty little hoodwink.

Basically, the travel agency claims you win a
"free" trip to the Bahamas and all you pay are
taxes and what not ... comes out to be about $320
for you and your partner.

Some folks did some investigating and found that
doing the package on your own would cost $310 per
couple and that was not including the discounts
that travel agencies tend to get for such things...
so in actuality the travel company is making money
off the deal.

I tried to get out of it with my credit card
company but they said the only way to prove this
is a scam was if the travel company didn't come
through with the trip within the advertised

- Aimee Webb


"I'm not sure how much of a scam you can count this,
but my fiancée & I have settled on getting married
on either a cruise, or in the Bahamas. When doing
my research on the net of this, I saw an offer for
"Free Weddings" so I inquired. As the rep was
telling me all the details, he mentioned that there's
a $225.00 government tax for the marriage documents.
I told him that I found a site that states that it
only cost $40.00 to get the documents in the Bahamas.

After telling the rep about this, I then asked if
the $225.00 was actually a fee charged by the
Bahamian government, or was it really a fee charged
by the resort? The rep became defensive and would
never answer the question. All I got was that I had
every right to get the marriage documents myself, but
that I wouldn't be able to get married on their
property without paying it. Right there I felt like
I was the victim of false advertisement.

I've yet to get a straight answer as to who gets the
other $185.00 if the marriage certificate only cost
$40.00 since they advertise that "Weddings are Free"
at their properties.

I'm sure past, present, and future engaged couples
would like to be informed if this is a scam or not,
so please let us know if you're able to uncover


Les Hatcher


All I can say is, be extra careful about signing up
for honeymoon sweepstakes at Bridal Shows and in
Bridal Shops unless you trust the company offering
the prize.

Of course some contests are "legit", but it seems
that others are really lead generation systems
for travel businesses where literally "every
entrant wins".

So if someone calls you and tells you that, "You've
won a 4 day, 3 night vacation" and all you need
to do is "pay the taxes"...don't get too excited!
Just get on the internet and do your homework on
the company before giving them any money.

Likewise, be careful if they tell you that to pick
up your prize, you simply need to go and see some
"No-Obligation" sales pitch on products they're
selling. This is more likely some "high pressure"
sales pitch by very, very experienced pros.

So the bottom line is: be very skeptical if anyone
informs you that you've won something free, but then
proceeds to tell you that you need to take some
action to actually receive your prize (e.g. just pay
the taxes or attend a sales pitch).

*** SUCCESS STORY #1 ***

"Hi Stephi,

We haven't encountered any scams that we're aware
of yet. However, we wanted to share a good idea.

In the catering packet we received from the resort
we've chosen to have our ceremony & reception, there
was a beautiful postcard of the property. Right after
we completed negotiating our contract, we asked if we
could order 100 of the postcards to use as our "Save
the Date" announcements. As a little blurb about the
property and the address and phone number are included
on the backside of the postcard, we offered that it
might entice people to stay at the hotel too! The
resort wedding coordinator immediately replied saying
she'd be happy to provide them to us at NO-COST!

Thanks to your advice, we have already saved thousands!
Carmel Valley Ranch reduced our site fee by $1000,
agreed to no cake cutting or parking charges, reduced
our corkage fee by $10/bottle, and they've included a
complimentary suite for the bride & groom for the night
of the wedding!


Kristin Ensign & Zach Houde
Monterey, CA


Nice going!!!

You get an A+ for your mastery of the simple
negotiating techniques I teach in my book.

For example, you found an easy "leverage point" for
getting them to give you the postcards (e.g. Because
they'll entice your guests to stay there...heck, that's
what those postcards are designed for in the first

Likewise, you obviously communicated in a way that
demonstrated that because you were spending the
money, you were in charge (not them) and that if they
wanted to EARN YOUR BUSINESS, they needed to make all
those concessions you mentioned...Like the
complimentary suite...this is one of the easiest
things to negotiate with hotels and resorts, yet so
many couples never even bother to ask for this!

Now all you need to do is figure out what you're going
to do with all the money you saved...oh what problems
you guys have!


"Hi Stephi,

I admit I had the "too nice" bride-to-be personality.

BUT thanks to your tips and encouragement to be
aggressive, I've already saved hundreds of dollars-
simply because I ASKED for the discount (and NEVER
would have before). I can't believe it!!

Before signing the contract with our reception site, I
had the ballroom rental fee lowered, the food/bev
minimum removed, and the guest room rates reduced by
$20 each (WOW). This works out to huge savings!

At our ceremony site, I got our chair rentals reduced
to $1 from the original $3- all because I told them "I
was thinking more along these lines.... are you flexible?"

Goodbye Girl-Next-Door Pushover!!! And my fiance' is SO

Thank you Stephi!"

- Muriah Miller


Way to go girlfriend!

I hereby anoint you Mighty Muriah!

Now just in case you think your new super powers
can only be applied to your wedding planning, think

You can continue impressing your husband with your
negotiating and saving skills for the rest of your

For instance, you'll probably be making some major
purchases after the wedding together, right? Well
you can continue to use my methods for these things

For example, my husband and I saved over $1,500 on
a new brand name bed by simply calling up the
mattress store and using my "sweet and desperate"
technique...basically explaining that we loved
their beds but simply "couldn't afford" them, then
pleading to the emotions of the sales guy, asking
if there was any way he knew for us to get one for
a deep discount...

Well lo and behold, he makes us promise not to
tell his boss, and proceeds to give us the number
of a guy inside the factory that sells direct at
huge discounts. Needless to say, we ended up
getting an incredible bed that we originally
couldn't afford for over 50% off!

There, now you have something else to look
forward to!

I'll write you again soon...

Your Friend,

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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-09-2006 at 09:48 PM.
Old 01-04-2006, 05:00 PM
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Is negotiating a breeze for you?

Or does it scare you to death?

For most people, negotiating either comes
naturally OR it's one of the things you'll
do anything to avoid.

IF you're someone who likes to avoid conflict
or worries about coming across as RUDE or
"Not Nice", then you're definitely going to
want to read today's tips...

But before I share my ideas, I want you
to listen to a quick audio clip from a bride
named Shannon McCormack from Omaha, Nebraska
that demonstrates the RIGHT ATTITUDE for
dealing with greedy wedding vendors...

Go here to listen:


Good stuff, huh?

Keep reading to learn how to take charge of
every negotiation and get WHAT YOU WANT at
a price you can afford...


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Okay, in case you didn't listen to the clip,
Shannon shared a quick story about how she
stood up for herself and didn't allow a local
limo company to charge her the infamous

While I hope you would have done exactly
the same thing as Shannon in the same
situation, my fear is that you might fall
for some of these MONEY TRAPS without
even knowing it...

I mean so many brides seem to lose their
minds when it comes to what is a reasonable
price for wedding things and just accept
what vendors tell them...

Others are too fearful to argue, question
or negotiate and just accept the prices...

For example, I just met a young girl who
is getting married this summer and spent
over $10,000 at some exclusive bridal
boutique on dresses for her and, get this,
11 bridesmaids!

Now I'm sure they'll all look beautiful,
but COME ON! What was she thinking?

I mean, EVEN IF you're totally rich, why pay
through the nose when it's so easy to find
absolutely beautiful, high quality wedding
items and services for FAR LESS?

Well, if you want to have MORE WEDDING
for LESS MONEY, you need to embrace this
important concept that I repeat over and
over again:


You're spending the money, so you're in
charge (not them!).

It is YOU WHO DECIDES what price you're
willing to pay and what's reasonable...

It is NEVER RUDE to "ask for what you want"
or to "shop around for the best deal"...

In fact, you have every right to DEMAND
the lowest price AND great service!!!

You see, a critical key to negotiating
successfully begins with communicating
at an unconscious level from the very
beginning that that you're in charge and
just giving them "a chance" to MEET

Trust me, this is going to save you a fortune!

It's exactly what Sarah did and what you
should do over and over again...

Because people will TRY to push you around
and see how much they can get from you...

So you need to push right back and show them
who's boss... after all, they'll be working
for you IF they're lucky!

Now if you're thinking this approach doesn't
sound realistic or like something you can
easily do, just go back up and listen to Shannon's
audio clip again for a little inspiration...

Can you see how passionate she was about
getting her way?

Do you think she gives a darn what someone's
"WEDDING MARKUP" or "NORMAL" prices are?

Do you think she gives in easily and puts
someone else's needs before hers?


And you shouldn't either!

By the way, the "WEDDING MARKUP" is one of
the most common SCAMS brides encounter (and
often fall for)...

So make sure you don't make the MISTAKE
of giving your business to a vendor that has
one price for regular events and another price
that's OUTRAGEOUSLY MORE for a wedding!

Instead, strive to get YOUR OWN SPECIAL PRICE
knowing you are different and special...because
you are!

TIP: When inquiring about pricing in certain
situations, don't mention your event is wedding
at first so you can see what their "normal"
pricing is...

Ultimately, you must BELIEVE that you're going
to make your dreams come true WITH OR WITHOUT
whoever you're negotiating with...

If they want to help you, fabulous!

If they don't, great! You'll find someone else
who will.

This is "THE ATTITUDE" that will make everything
happen for you like it did (and does) for me.

Let me know how it works for you!

I'll write you again soon...

Your Friend,

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Old 01-04-2006, 05:02 PM
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Boy are you in for a treat!

Today I have two savings success stories
guar-an-teed to inspire you...

Plus an extreme "Bridezilla" story that should
help put your wedding spending in perspective...


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*** Two For The Price of One!!! ***

"Dear Stephi,

I am the mother of the bride x2 this year.

I wanted to thank you for your e-newsletter.
You are providing a valuable service. With
your advice (and the help of your book) our
family managed to put together 2 large
weddings with all the bells and whistles
for under $10,000.00 total.

Both my daughters had the 'wedding of their
dreams' without Mom and step dad stressing
out too badly about the finances. Yes, we
did have a wedding planner, but she used
your tips to help keep the costs in line for

By the way, she provided her services for
both weddings for $1,000.00. Her services
included making the bouquets, boutonnieres,
centerpieces, complete decor for wedding and
reception sites, keeping the mother of the
bride in 1 piece and keeping the wedding party
in line at all times. I feel her services were
worth 10x what she charged.

Again, following your advice, you get what
you want! Thank you again. I have been
forwarding the link for you site (and the
wedding camera site!!!) to everyone I know
planning a major event (not just weddings)."

- Kathy Stark

>>> My Comments:

I'm so happy you shared this.

Not only because you did so well at saving
money on your two weddings...

...But also because you were able to so
successfully work with a wedding planner.

In spite of the name of my book, I do
think that wedding planners can provide
a valuable service (IF, of course, you
can AFFORD it, and are lucky enough to
find a good, honest one).

Even then, you still need to "oversee"
their work and ultimately make the
decisions. They're there to help you,
not plan everything for you.

That's why I strongly recommend my book
to brides (and mothers) even if you've
hired a wedding planner.

You still need the "inside scoop" so
that you:

1) Know the right questions to ask

2) Know how the industry works so you
don't get taken advantage of

3) Know how to "coach" them on what
you want.

Congrats again! You should be very
proud of yourself :-)

*** Cake From The "Super" Market?? ***

"Hi Stephi,

I just wanted to send a quick response to the
email you sent about saving money on the cake.
My mom and I went cake shopping this weekend
and we found a beautiful wedding cake from our
local grocery store! It is 3 tiered with
detailed frosting and everything and it is
$149.99 and feeds 150 people!

Cake is cake and you really can't tell that we
did not get it from a wedding cake store (which
would have cost us 4 X as much)

Just wanted to share! I am in money saving mode!!!!!

Thanks for all of your great advice and I LOVE
your book"

Bloomington, IL

>>>My Comments:

This is a perfect example of just how many
options are available to brides today.

Listen, some girls want a $1,000 cake and
others would never even consider it!

It's really personal preference.

If you're more of the "bargain bride",
you definitely can get great deals at your
local supermarket or a price clubs like
SAM's and Costco.

Keep up this kind of saving and you're going
to have plenty of money left over for a
nicer honeymoon, down payment on a car,
house...whatever you desire!

Good for you girlfriend!

*** Bridezilla in Guatemala ***

"Hi Stephi!

I write you from Guatemala, Central America.
I actually got on your mail list by mistake,
but I love it! My own wedding is actually going
to be on May 2006. However I have applied all
your tips in other aspects of my life.

I have given your web site address to a couple
of friends. One of them have get a lot of
discounts and she is amazed of what she has been
able to get.

But, my another friend is what you call a "Nice
Girl". She refused even to see your web site,
because she said "It is my wedding I will only
get the best of the best no matter what costs me".

I tried to talk to her into being a little smarter
about that but I couldn't.

Here is the result:

1) The Hotel: "She is going to get married in one
of the most expensive and beautiful hotels in
Guatemala. It's called "Quinta Real" but she is
paying Q.25,000 in our local money it's about
$3,200 in dollars. It may not seem a lot but in
quetzales is really TOO MUCH. And doesn't include
DINNER! She pays extra for corkage fee, and for
her own cake. It only includes one entrance and
the use of the salon. They paid extra for the
honeymoon suite, and didn't get any discount for
the guests. How crazy is that!"

2) The photographs: "She is going to pay for a
wedding package Q.4,000 in dollars about $500 again
it may not be a lot in dollars but believe me it
is in quetzales! And of course she doesn't get to
keep her negatives"

3) The Dress: "You may not believe me!!! I told her
about looking for the designer on the web and make
it in our country. But NOOOO! She actually went to
USA and I don't know how much she paid for her
wedding dress. I must admit it's beautiful but the
price was so high that she is not going to bring
dinner on the wedding because she doesn't have any
more m-o-n-e-y!"

4) The transport from the church to the hotel:
"She actually is going to rent a Porsche Carrera
to leave from the church to the reception! I don't
know how much did she spend on this, because right
now she is kind of mad at me, for criticizing all
of her choices! "

4) Another consequence: "She had to get a loan at
the bank to pay for her house, because she is
totally broke right now! The interests for the
loan are really high! She could actually be a lot
more smart and pay for her house with the money
she's throwing away!"

I'm sorry if this message is too long, I know you
have ask for the messages to be short, but I think
it's important for others to see how important it
is to be smart about your money and how big the
consequences can be of the "Nice Girl" attitude.

Michelle López
Central America

P.S. Keep the good work, I really enjoy your mails!!"

>>>My Comments:

Listen, we all want a dream wedding that we'll
remember for the rest of our lives...

And if you have unlimited funds to make that
happen, great! Go first class. We all wish we

But this is what I call a SPOILED BRAT!

And you better believe her husband to be is
"feeling the pressure".

Is this any way to start a marriage?

It is a SAD DAY when any girl is so blinded
by her desire to have her dream wedding, so
totally irrational, that she puts her and
her husband into crazy debt...potentially
jeapardizing the very marriage she's just
entered into!

Especially considering that if she just did a
a little homework and bothered to try some of
the simple negotiating techniques I teach, she
could have easily saved a bundle.

Heck, one girl wrote me today telling me that
on her first attempt using my approach with a
caterer, he dropped the price by over $3,000!!!
She was in shock!

Anyway, Sad, Sad, Sad for your friend.

Please, please, please don't make the same
mistakes she has...you'll regret it for years
to come.

And if you have any other friends who catch
the Bridezilla Syndrome, please share my
philosophy with them:

It's YOUR wedding so act like it! You're
spending the money, so you're in charge
(not the wedding vendors).

Almost everything is negotiable, and literally
anything is possible... if you're willing to
find a way...

Go out and make your dreams come true!

Your friend,

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Stephi Stewart Weddings, Inc.
311 N. Robertson Drive #114
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-17-2006 at 03:28 PM.
Old 01-04-2006, 05:11 PM
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Worried you can't make your Dream Wedding
come true on your budget?

Well stop worrying!

You totally CAN make your dreams come
true on literally any budget...

...you simply need to learn how!

Today I share how a bride named Jenessa from
upstate New York totally transformed from a
"nice girl" to a "savvy bride", saved over
$6,000 and made her dream wedding come true...

You definitely want to read how she did it...

Because if she can do it, so can you!


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"Dear Stephi,

Let me just say thank you for being such a
constant source of empowerment and motivation
for me!!

I'm definitely what you would call a "nice girl"
and have never negotiated anything in my life
until I read your book.

Now, I feel empowered and ready to tackle this
wedding head-on!!

I started planning my wedding with the thought
that I would NEVER be able to afford the wedding
I envisioned on my $10,000 budget.

I live in upstate New York, where the price of
EVERYTHING wedding-related is ridiculously high.

I'm originally from Wisconsin, so I was suffering
from extreme sticker shock on almost every aspect
of the wedding planning.

I was seriously thinking I was never going to be
able to pull it off, when one of your emails hit

You reminded me that I am in charge of
planning this wedding, not anyone else. That's
when I changed everything and decided to have
the wedding back home in Wisconsin, where my
family and friends still are.

Boy oh boy, did this save me thousands of dollars!!

First, my parents own a bar & grill/banquet hall
back home, so I am able to get everything at cost,
including the food and alcohol, free linens,
candles, decorations, etc. The cost of this
tremendous savings: $3000-4000!

Second, my baker is giving me a 10% discount
since he frequently works with my parents at their
banquet hall. A small savings of approx. $40, but
a savings nonetheless.

Third, I was able to tap into some friends' talents
and recommendations on many vendors. The mother
of a high school friend of mine is doing my flowers
(and she does beautiful work) for half of what I
was quoted here in NY.

Former co-workers of mine who are trying to set up
a video business are shooting my wedding video for
F-R-E-E!! Savings here: nearly $1000.

And the rehearsal dinner is costing us only $4.75
per person at a quaint little Mexican restaurant
that was recommended by my cousin, who had his
rehearsal dinner there last year.

They don't typically do these types of events, but
were more than willing to accommodate us. My
cousin's family and friends still talk about what
a great time they had at their dinner, since it
was something new and different.

Fourth, I got a part-time job at a bridal shop,
where the owner gave me a big discount on my
gown!! The gown of my dreams, for only $500. Plus,
it's fun to be able to network and talk to other brides
there. It doesn't even feel like work!

And lastly, I found a photographer through Craig's
List, another of your wonderful suggestions, who is
willing to shoot my entire day on a professional
quality digital camera for $800, including 100
prints, enlargements, and the entire day on cd
afterward. Wow!

The least expensive photographer I had found was
still in the $1200-1500 range, and that didn't
include any of the "extras" this guy is willing
to throw in. AND... the best part is, I LOVE this guy's
work! He does professional modeling photography,
and he really has an eye! I never thought I'd be able
to afford a quality photographer like him.

I never would have considered changing the venue
for my wedding until I read all of your success
stories and realized it's okay to tap into these
infinite resources through family and friends, and
that I can do anything I want, even plan a wedding
long distance.

And I'm positive my entire network of family and
friends thank you, too!! Not only are they all able to
make it to my wedding since they no longer have to
travel here, I'm also helping a few of them make
some money and get started in the business!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything you
do. I'm estimating that I'll save nearly $6000-7000,
making my $10,000 budget entirely possible now!
And the best part, I'm having the wedding of my
dreams, surrounded by my entire family and friends.

I will pass your website on to every new bride I
know from now on. If you can save ME this kind of
money, I can only imagine what others can do with
your tips and advice.

Thank you again for everything you do,

Jenessa from Upstate NY"


Absolutely fabulous!

I love hearing success stories like yours...

Heck, maybe I should change the title of my
book to "Extreme Wedding Makeover Secrets"...

...because I literally receive hundreds of emails
from "nice girls gone Savvy Bride" every month,
and I'm just tickled pink that little ole me is
making such a difference helping other women
in need!

Heck, it's why I wrote "Fire Your Wedding
Planner!" in the first place.

Of course, not everyone has read my book
yet, so I'd like to point out three of the keys
to your savings success...


The critical "turning point" for you was when you
"woke up" and realized that YOU CONTROL
YOUR WEDDING DESTINY (and nobody else).

This is exactly what I repeat over an over again
because without this shift in your psychology, you
would have never been able to achieve what you

In fact, far too many brides never "get it" and
end up paying at least TWICE as much as they
have to!


For example, by using a site like craigslist.org,
you turned the tables on the whole negotiation
process by posting the "opportunity" to shoot
YOUR wedding and having photographer's bid

With you in the drivers seat, you scored a super
deal. Nice going!


Using your network of friends and family is
was the next smart move.

If they can't help you, who can?

Seriously, so many brides don't seek out the help
that's literally waiting around the corner for

And as you demonstrated, it's absolutely critical
to network and use every resource available to you
- friends, friends of friends, family, other brides
- if you truly care about saving money.

Not only did it save you a bunch, but it also helped
people who care about you get involved (making your
day all the more special).

One warning about using friends and family - while
in general this can be good, sometimes it backfires.
For example, asking Uncle Charlie to photograph
your wedding, only to have him get drunk and spend
half the time hitting on your friends instead of
doing his job! So BE CAREFUL about who you choose
to help.


Using "non-wedding" vendors and services is
always a great money saving alternative.

By choosing that Mexican restaurant that doesn't
typically do things like rehearsal dinners, you
avoided the typical WEDDING MARK-UP and saved

This kind of "out of the box" thinking can and did
save you huge money...

And as you've demonstrated, literally ANY BRIDE
can do this with just a little knowledge and

Thanks so much for sharing your story and being
such an great example for other brides...

Your friend,

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Stephi Stewart Weddings, Inc.
311 N. Robertson Drive #114
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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-17-2006 at 03:29 PM.
Old 01-04-2006, 05:12 PM
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SoonToBeWed SoonToBeWed is offline
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Have I got a MUST READ story for you today
from a bride in Chicago...

It's a perfect example of WHAT NOT TO DO
when planning your wedding...

PLUS I reveal 5 KEY LESSONS you can learn
from her mistakes that will save you BIG TIME...

You don't want to miss this!

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*** I Was In Complete Shock ***

"Hello Stephi,

I have a quick question in regards to your message
on "nice girls".

I live in Chicago, Illinois, and I am getting
married in Sedona, Arizona. We found a church
that is PERFECT and I want to get married there
more than anything!

Today, the church "penciled" us in for "our date".
When I spoke to the lady on the phone (I'm sure
I sounded very excited), I gave her my information
and "after" I told her I was so happy for having
my wedding there, she informed me of the price...

I was in COMPLETE SHOCK! It was 3X more
then I had expected!! I didn't say anything,
and in a "nice" tone, I agreed to booking the

When she quoted me the price, she began to
justify the extreme amount by saying that the
cost was for the use of the church, the pastors
fees, for a wedding coordinator (only at the
church), a 2 hour conference with the pastor and
the cost of practice the night before.

This is my first wedding, and with the exception
of living in Chicago for the past 2 years, I grew
up in a very small town where renting the church
was around $300 or so. She is sending me out a
package of paperwork to fill out, and she said
I have to send the paperwork back to her with
a 50% ($500) deposit. The total cost is $1,000...

My question is, first, for what the church is
offering, do you think that this is an expensive
fee? Also, do I NEED a "wedding coordinator"
and a "conference with the pastor" (she said all
this is included in the price)?

And secondly, if it is, do you think it is
possible at this point to possibly talk her down
on the price still?

I know you had mentioned to have the mentality that
there are "other" places to go, but unfortunately,
almost every place in Sedona is booked up, and
there aren't many other places I can go at this
point, not to mention too that this is the only
church we like out of them all...

Stephi, I would appreciate any advice you could
give in this matter...

Thank you for your help... Have a great day.

Dina Testa
Crestwood, IL"



Stories like this make me want cry!

I think to myself, if only I'd had a chance to
speak with Dina (or if she'd read my book), she
could have so easily have avoided the mess
she's gotten herself into.

This is actually a perfect example of why many
Brides are so easily taken advantage of...

Being "too nice", not understanding the basics
of negotiating, and not trusting your own
judgment is a formula for disaster!

I teach a very simple approach to successfully
planning a wedding on a budget and it's based
on this simple concept - "It's your money, so
act like it!

What I mean by this is you're spending the money,
so you're in charge (not the wedding vendors!).

Unfortunately, so many brides have trouble
grasping this and end up paying much more than
they have to.

So here are a few things you can learn from
Dina's mistakes.

#1) Always find out the PRICE of a location
(or vendor) BEFORE you get too excited and
emotionally attached!

#2) If the price is too high or doesn't match
your expectations, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT
agree to it and ask them to send you a contract
just to be "nice"!

Seriously, don't waste their time! You need
to negotiate BEFORE they send you a contract.

So drop this "nice girl" stuff and step in to
your power girlfriend! You are in charge and it
is your complete right to respond to any vendor
by saying something like:

"Wow...I'd really love to give you my business,
but that's a bit too steep for my budget...
Are you at all flexible on your price? Or do you
have any scaled down packages that can better fit
my budget?"

#3) Do not throw away all your LEVERAGE to
negotiate by agreeing to any initial offer price
the first time you hear it...always be prepared
to think it over and come back with a counter

* see chapter 6 of my book to learn exactly how
to negotiate step by step so you never get taken
advantage of financially!

#4) Trust YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT when it
comes to what you need and what's right for you.

Often wedding vendors will offer a "package" that
includes extras you don't want or need and this
a great opportunity for you to negotiate (e.g.
"I only need x, but not y and z, so how much
would your package be without those two extras?).

#5) Lastly, Remember that no matter what, you
ALWAYS have the right to "change your mind".

Don't ever hire someone because you feel
"obligated" and always make sure your contracts
have an "out" clause that stipulates exactly how
much money you'll get back if you cancel by a
certain date (as well as how they'll compensate you
if they cancel on you before that specific date).

* Also remember to put all deposits on a credit
card (or a credit check) rather than using cash
or personal check, so you'll be protected in case
of a dispute!

Okay, gotta run...

Just one last thought...

If you've been reading these tips and thinking
to yourself, "Hey, this really makes sense...
I bet I could do this just like Stephi says!"

All I have to say, "YES YOU CAN Girlfriend!"

So get out there, try my ideas out in the "real
world" and make your dream wedding come true!!!

And don't forget to send me your success story!

Your friend,

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Last edited by SoonToBeWed : 02-17-2006 at 03:31 PM.
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