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New York City Budget Weddings: Elegant And Affordable

  • Posted on January 8, 2015 at 5:57 pm

11+ Secrets From NYC Budget Weddings

New York Budget Weddings: Elegant and Affordable

New York Budget Weddings: Elegant and Affordable

IT’S TIME!!                                IT’S HERE!!!

The book seemingly five years in the making, really it was 3.5 years, but sometimes it felt like five.

The book is scheduled to be published on Saturday 1/24 starting at midnight and is is pre-pub mode. So, yes you can purchase it now via Amazon’s Kindle, but you will not be able to download it until the day of publication. The pre-pub cover a little different, but you can find it at this link:


10 + Tips for Wedding Planning AND website fix

  • Posted on October 28, 2013 at 3:47 am

If you are a newsletter member or a radio show listener you will know that I told you that my dates for articles listed on my website had been broken somehow and all articles were stuck with an August 2013 date.  Usually I wouldn’t mind, since that is my birthday month, but I do want you to know that I am current with the information I am giving you.  This missive is just a way of trying it out, but let me also tell you what’s been popping off here in the Big Apple on the wedding scene, too

The air is crisp, actually it has been downright cold.  Who am I trying to kid.  My heat thankfully was turned up and is pumping out nicely.  I hope that you are experiencing that toasty feeling as you continue to plan for your nuptials.  If not find your fiance’ and cuddle together while you do your planning.

  Christina Ricci married her fiance on my Mom’s Birthday or . . . well 10/26/13

      Vera Wang’s strapless dresses are still hanging on.

      In the last year, celebrities have been having private, secret or intimate which means small weddings.  Will that trend seep into the lives of regular folks’ weddings, too.  It could save you a bundle.

      DIY wedding programs are on the rise, as keepsake items for both the wedding couple and their guests.

      Save-the-Date magnets, DON’T have to be expensive AND it helps remind your guests not to plan anything else on your wedding day.

      Cupcakes are now taking over as the wedding cake go-to item.  Easy for both the wedding couple and their guests to eat, especially on-the-run in the reception when greeting other people.

      Save big on wedding ceremony & reception by having your wedding in January or February.   That’s the time when places are starving for people to reserve venues.  (Immediately following the holidays) is a plus for you.

       Allow your guests to feel like stars too, with a DIY red carpet and backdrop (maybe with your logo or names scattered on the backdrop) for your version of a photo booth.  Talk about fun times for all, plus great wedding pictures.

       Engaged, but no wedding date yet?  Start saving now, via a wedding prepaid debit card, or bank account specific to the wedding or store a certain amount under your mattress or in a jar each week. (I’m half kidding.)  

 Top CharLena Pick of 5 New York City outdoor wedding spaces:

                          Central Park

                          Riverside Park

                          Fort Tryon Park over looking the Hudson River

                          Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn

                         South Beach on Staten Island

                         Botanic Gardens of the Bronx (Honorable Mention – If wearing fragrance, watch for bees.)

And if you would like to sign up for my newsletter, you in the right spot, just check the upper right hand corner on any page on this website.

An Impromptu interview at David’s Bridal – Brooklyn

  • Posted on January 7, 2013 at 5:48 am

600 DressOn my radio show: www.BlogTalk which is on every other Thursday. The next one is on January 24th.
Anyway last time the show was on, it was Thrifty Thursday Plus, for after Christmas wedding sales exploration. It had been my idea to go to all five boroughs to experience wedding accessory sales on 12/26/12 and then tell you about them the next day on my show. Well because of where I live, I was really only able to get to two of the five boroughs. I also promised to include the impromptu interview that I had on David’s Bridal on my website. I did not do it, yet. I wanted you to experience it first as my preview audience.
As I stepped into David’s Bridal of Brooklyn, I was thinking of you, and started to tell the sales women at the desk that I was looking for some wedding accessories and was interested on what was on sale. Now David’s Bridal was already having a sale on wedding dresses. In fact, a very good sale that started that very day, which goes through 14 January 13, a 50% all wedding dresses, so you know I was intrigued as to what else could be had for that percentage as well.
As always when I ask about sales or specifics about weddings, the first thing I was asked was when is my wedding. Ladies be ready with your answer. Now, as you know I’ve been married for seven years, so I actually couldn’t lie and came clean right away that I was had a radio show and wanted find out for my listeners when, what and how long the sale would go on. That is when an impromptu interview was dropped into my lap or hands, since I was standing. Kim and an unnamed sales woman started telling me about the sales and why it is imperative for brides to be organized before stepping into any store or talking to any service provider for their wedding. Let’s get to the interview.
CPF: Are there any accessories on sale now that it’s after Christmas?
K of DB: Well since this is the official start of the wedding season, yes there are. A lot of things are from 30 to 60% off.
CPF: How long will the sale be?
K of DB: It is indefinite for now, but probably for the next month at least. (Recently saw on TV it’s until 1/14/13)
CPF: Did you say that it is the start of wedding season? Today is the official start of the wedding season?
K of DB: Yes, it is. Christmas is over and most people think it’s all about the after Christmas sales, but in reality the sales in bridal wear after Christmas mark the beginning of the new wedding season. October used to be a savings month for wedding, that month is one of the most expensive, now.
CPF: Ahh. That explains why the bridal shows all begin anew in January.
Kim: Exactly to capitalize on the bridal show we in the industry get the jump and try to pull people into the stores so that brides will have an idea of what gown pricing is and what some of the new styles that will be the next big thing.
CPF: Is there something that every bride should know before coming into your store?
Kim: Before stepping into any store, first don’t be afraid to get the business of buying your dress. Don’t spend time buying your bridesmaids’ dresses first. As part of the whole process, you the bride, are the main event, so to speak, you have to get your dress first. After that it is easier to figure out what the wedding party can and should wear.
You must be clear about what you want to (how much money you want to circulate) spend, and you must know that number before stepping into our store or anyone else’s for that matter. Other things you must know are what style, and the cut, although we will help you with what looks best on your frame. If you have an idea it is most helpful.
CPF: What can the bride expect from the staff of David’s Bridal?
Kim: We’re here to help you get what you want and want to help you find what you want within your budget. We are a full of service bridal store with dresses in plus sizes. The other DB’s do not necessarily have a wide selection of plus sizes, but because we are in Brooklyn, I requested that more than a corner of a rack be devoted to Plus-size gowns. I now have 5 racks of Plus-size gowns including our designers. Right now we are having a storewide sale, with 50% off on wedding dresses now through 14 January 2013. The exception is shoes, whereas the shoes are on sale, if your foot is an unusual size, it may not be in the store and we will have to special order it.
CPF: You have big name designers these days in your store, correct?
Kim: Yes, we have had both Oleg Cassini and Vera Wang, for a couple of years, now who are the designers of choice within David’s Bridal.
CPF: Do you think there is something that a bride or couple must have that a lot of brides and grooms are not utilizing?
Kim: There are a lot of wedding couples who believe they can save money by not hiring a wedding planner. They are wrong! Every bride and groom has to have a wedding planner who can find various things that will save the couple lots of money. Wedding planners know where to ferret out the best deals. There was a bride once who came in to have a fitting and asked me when she was leaving where there was a party store, because she needed warming trays. I felt for her and asked her why her wedding planner wasn’t helping her. She said she didn’t have one and someone was going to help the day of her wedding at her church, but that she was trying to get everything done herself. I told her what I just told you, that she needs a wedding planner if nothing else, to take the pressure off her shoulders of getting stuff done. That’s the wedding planner’s job and they do it quite well, because they usually love doing it and know where to find the deals. It only makes sense.
CPF: Do you buy the dresses for $99 or lower and mark them up?
Kim: No, the $99 – $5000 dollar dresses did not start off at that rate. Most of the dresses started at least twice as the price tags and more before they came to the store and the prices are slashed for DB’s clientele and those are the regular David’s Bridal prices, which are being further slashed now for the sale during January by 50%.
CPF: How many people should a bride bring to help her pick out her dress?
Kim: Brides may bring 1 – 3 people, but no more than that or it just becomes a confusing stressful day for the bride. And don’t bring your fiancé. He doesn’t want to be there. Plus, he is not going to tell you (really) that he doesn’t like you in a dress that you think looks wonderful and in reality doesn’t, because he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.
CPF: To wrap up your advice, the bride must know what she wants before she goes in search of her dress, right?
Kim: Yes, she must be willing to start at the beginning and the bride is the beginning. Then know how much she wants to spend, the style of the dress, and the best cut for her.
CPF: What are some “Don’ts” that neither you nor your staff likes?
Kim: Our store is a full service store and the is staff here to help you. Short notices for your wedding day are not helpful for you or our alterations department. Please no 90 day weddings and expect alterations. If you want your wedding in 90 days from now, you will have to get a dress that fits you perfectly off the rack, because the alterations department will not be able to help you. Minimum 90 days for alterations.
CPF: Thank you very much Kim for all of your wonderful advice and information in this impromptu interview. Will you or corporate be attending the Staten Island College Bridal event?
Kim: Yes, the Staten Island College Bridal event on 1/13/13 the Brooklyn David’s Bridal store’s event and Great American Bridal on 1/14/13 is the DB’s corporate office event, which will be held at New York City Marriott Hotel. It was my pleasure. Thanks for coming in and wanting to share our sale on your show.

Flowers by Zenda: A Chat & Demonstration

  • Posted on May 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm


We visited the shop of Flowers by Zenda, which is located just over the Broadway bridge in the Marble Hill area of the Bronx.  Orlando Kross showed us his shop, which has been around for more than 60 years.  Orlando started in the shop as an apprentice and then bought the place, so you know you have an experienced florist when you contract him.  Orlando loves flowers and loves what he does and isn’t that someone you want arranging your flowers for your wedding day, re-affirmation, or for anything?


Flowers By Zenda, 5217 Broadway, Bronx, New York 10463                                                                                      If you do go in, mention you saw his video on my website, for 10% off.

A Tip From Our Resident Restauranteur

  • Posted on May 28, 2012 at 2:48 am

I was able to snag a tip from Restaurant, Gourmand and Chef John Colon.  Check it out:


Watch Out For Those Taxes.

  • Posted on April 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm

What’s taxable and what’s not?  Have you wondered what you had to include in your wedding budget per service provider, especially when it comes to taxes?  Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter or make sense who charges the tax or if it’s rolled into the total price already.  If you thought service charge was the tax, think again.  It’s really just the “service charge” and sometimes it is STILL taxable.  Confused?  Here’s help below.

Check out this article my friend Fouzia, of My Bridal Budget wrote about and you’ll have a much clearer understanding.


Service Charge- Is it taxable or not?

That is a good question to ask to your catering company or catering venue because you don’t want to miscalculate or have any surprises when you pay your final bill. Most catering venues charge 20% for service charge, which you are responsible for that cost that covers waiting staff, linens, directional/place cards, any operating venue costs, etc. In New York, tax is applied to the service charge. Most of us go out to restaurants for dinner, most of the time tax is not applied on the gratuity and service charge. However, in catering venues that have large parties, tax is applied on the service charge.
If you are the type that is organized with finances and likes to see the figures in a spreadsheet. Here is an example in how you would calculate your catering bill with taxable service charge:$9,095 ($85 x 107 adults)
$280 ($35x8vendors)
$385 ($35x11kids)
$9,760 (subtotal)
$1,952 (service charge-20% x $9,760)
$11,712 (total)
$1,010.16 (total x Tax 8.625%)
$12,722.16-Grand Total

The numbers turn out to be a big difference when tax is applied to service charge, therefore please ask the question to your venue –“Is your service charge taxable?” so, you can make sure your budget is accurate.

Below is NY tax regulations regarding to service charges-
Gratuities and service charges
Gratuities and tips that a customer leaves voluntarily for the wait staff are not taxable.
Mandatory gratuities are different because they are automatically added onto the bill given to the customer. However, a mandatory gratuity is not taxable if all of these conditions are met:
• the charge is shown separately on the bill,
• the charge is identified as a gratuity, and
• all of the money collected is given to the employees.
If any of these conditions is not met, the mandatory gratuity is taxable along with the rest of the catering bill.
Many caterers bill a service charge on banquets or on parties of more than eight or ten people. Since these charges are not specifically listed as gratuities on the bill or invoice, the service charge is always subject to sales tax.
For more details, see TSB-M-09(13)S, Sales Tax on Gratuities and Service Charges.

Thanks Fouzia for enlightening us on what to do and how to keep within our budget.

A New NYC Wedding Price High

  • Posted on March 25, 2012 at 6:51 am

Check this article out and keep in mind that just because this has been spent and is the new top price for weddings in the New York City area, you are not stuck paying this amount.  Not now or ever.  You can have your New York City wedding for less than $15,000 quite easily and elegantly.  As you read through the following article, it’s going to feel like an impossibility, but it is not.  Read the article, but keep in mind that all is beautiful on your wedding day no matter the cost up or down per plate.  Just keep in mind that or rather who counts is the person at the other end of the aisle.  What’s important is not to spend all of your money, but to richly realize the importances of your new life with your new spouse.  Do not use up ALL the money that is yours and your fiance’s or parents to throw this shindig.  Certainly not all the money for a wedding?  Remember what I say: Save some money for your house downpayment or at least the start of your house downpayment bank.

Wedding Price.  Too High?



Looking at the number, it doesn’t seem possible does it to have your wedding in NYC for well under what you have in your bank account or on your credit card.  Don’t try to keep up the with wedding Joneses, they might have more resources readily available to them.  But all is still not lost; your wedding, doesn’t have to cost that much.  Nowhere does it say you have spend $450 or $196 or $107/guest.  It’s your wedding (yours and you fiances’).  The $450 versus the $27000 versus the $15K.  Going from outrageous to the sublime is probably just the kick in the pants you might need.  Notice the price differential per person (140 people in attendance) according to the three different budgets:  Several hundred over $67K, or over $27K or even down to a respectful, even relaxing amount under $15K.  Breathe, then stick to your budget and receive:


EVERYthing your heart desires to make your wedding beautiful.   In other words treat yourself  and demand to be treated like a Queen (or King), but also demand that the coffers not be raided, either.