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Congratulations and Mazal Tov – you’re engaged! We both know that wedding planning isn’t entirely smooth sailing; the question is, though – who splits the responsibilites so things run somewhat smoothly?
For Jewish weddings, there are traditionally two options when it comes to planning and divvying up the responsibilities for a Jewish wedding. The first option in when the groom’s and bride’s family split the wedding tasks 50/50, down the middle regarding budget, planning, negotiation, and respnsibility from the hall to the caterer, music to the flowers and more. On one hand, this option is the most sensible way of planning a union of two families; on the flip side, difficulties seeing eye to eye and misguided comunication may arise since the two families barely know each other.
An alternative and increasingly popular option is what people call the “FLOPS” option. FLOPS essentially assigns the groom’s family the tasks of handling the Flowers, Liquor, Orchestra, Photography and Sheitel (the term for wig, the traditional Orthodox head covering – see our post on Shaitels). The bride’s family in turn handles all other aspects of the wedding, including the hall, the caterer, the invitations, and other services. Although it seems that this option may attribute higher costs to one side, surprisingly, the costs for the bride and groom’s family are very similar.
Let’s dive into the details and ideas behind FLOPS:
PRIORITY ONE – Arrange your FLOPS.
FLOPS is totally determined by a persons tastes and budget and establishing a hierarchy for your FLOPS – be it LOPSF, PFSLO, SFLOP or any other combination – is the key for managing costs and placing the important items first. For example, ethnic Modern Orthodox couples may place a priority on Liquor over other stuff, so they could technically rearrange the FLOPS priority into LFOPS. Others may desire to have an ethnic feel to their wedding and opt for an orchestra that can accomodate ethnic music and sounds, so they would have Orchesta as a top priority. Know how you want to arrange your FLOPS hierarchy, and you’ll have a more cost-effective and personalized wedding.
Now, for the actual terms in FLOPS:
Flowers: Flowers are great, but combining flowers and decor are even better. You have to make a judgement call to determine if flowers at the hall/venue are enough. Synagogue, Temple, and Jewish Center sites are great affordable venue options but placing a few bouqets and floral arrangements on the table or at the chuppah are nice but not necessarily “florally decorated”; and unlike halls or country clubs, most Synagogues need some sprucing up by a decorator.
Liquor: When planning a wedding, many people think that an open bar is the more expensive route, yet that’s not always the case. For instance, if the wedding hall has a liquor license, and you don’t have an open bar, then you have to buy the bottles from the hall and it can be very expensive. A ten dollar bottle can be doubled if you buy it from the hall. But an open bar can be as little as five or six dollars a person. Know what your hall can accomodate and see if they have vendors that can save you money buying directly if you choose to bring in your own alcohol.
Orchestra: Because music sets the tone of a wedding, this aspect of FLOPS is usually the most expensive. Get a wide variety of quotes and make sure you hold everyone accountable to their agreements. For Jewish weddings, a DJ is great but usually only supplemental to an orchestra. Be sure to negotiate – many orchestras realize that Orthodox weddings are in a time-crunch so they won’t waver on price… until you bring a competiting offer to the negotiating table.
Photography: Determine if you’d like a classic photographer or perhaps a photojournalistic feel (kind of like picture storytelling). When looking into a photographer you need to look at two things. Most photographers don’t share the pictures so they will offer to make the albums for you but be sure you event WANT albums. In this social media age, having a CD of pictures to upload to Facebook or OnlySimchas could be a cheaper, more gratifiying method of remembering your special day, so be sure you’re not paying for albums if you don’t want them (especially since albums can be upwards of $800 for one album). Explore your quote to see if video or the albums are being included and if you can negotiate down by omitting them if you’d like.
Sheitel: We have a whole other post on Sheitels written by our female head Event Planner. Check it out here!
So that’s the FLOPS option. If you go that route, knowing your hierarchy will be the key to saving money, increasing the style, and making sure both families have their needs and desires accounted for!