Winter Wedding Inspiration

Planning a winter wedding doesn’t mean you have to use pine cones and fake snow. While those elements can be used, there are many ways to be creative. From the dress to the decor, we have put together winter wedding inspiration that you’re totally going to love.

Winter wedding inspiration that will get any bride or groom excited for their own big day!! Read the blog for tips how to make your winter wedding unique and different from all the rest!Nothing says “winter wedding” more than candles. Besides the fact that candles are romantic and chic, they are a must have for those chillier months of the year. We used warm candlelight to fill this ceremony space. The lush greens used for the wreath kept that winter vibe without making it feel too much like the holidays.

Romantic and chic winter wedding inspiration with pictures from real weddings! Read the blog to find out how you can make your own winter wedding totally unique.Candles can be used throughout the space of a wedding, especially in the reception. Imagine your guests entering a room flooded with candles like the floating ones above. You can use a mixture of holders to give dimension to the design and create different centerpieces for each table. We love the use of gold from this wedding because it adds even more warmth to this room.

Winter wedding inspiration and how to create a warm and romantic wedding during the coldest months of the year. Read the blog for tips and tricks!An all white color palette is broken up by greenery and birch branches in this tablescape we designed. If you’re looking for winter wedding inspiration that has a more natural and organic feel, this is a great look to consider. We added chairbacks and chair sashes to add a touch of boho chic, and alternated between two different designs. 

Winter wedding inspiration and ways to make your winter wedding romantic and unique. Read the blog for real wedding pictures and get ideas for your big day!Even though it’s easy to use white for winter weddings, jewel tones are perfect for this time of year. We designed this table using a blue velvet linen and crushed blue napkins over clear plates. This chic and simplistic look can be used on every table, but would also look amazing on just the sweetheart or escort card table. 


Winter wedding inspiration and all the romantic ideas you need for your big day. Click the blog for tips and tricks from a wedding planner!
Jewel tones look amazing in winter weddings, especially when they are used in small doses. This amazing wedding cake is classic and we worked with our florist to create this dramatic cascading floral design that matched the centerpieces. Sitting on a gold beaded linen, this is the perfect look for a formal winter wedding in an incredible ballroom.

Winter wedding inspiration including the best bridal gown options and how to throw a boho chic party in the coldest months of the year. Click the blog to get ideas for your wedding day!

A wedding gown for a winter wedding can be more detailed because you’ll be able to consider dresses with sleeves and full necklines. Take advantage of that and look for a gown with intricate beading, lacy sleeves or full skirts. We love seeing brides wear gowns with buttons and bling in the back too, like this gorgeous one above!

Winter wedding inspiration and ideas for how to make your gown stand out from the rest. Read the blog for ideas from a wedding planner!

Of course, if you’re the type of bride that prefers a strapless gown, a winter wedding will let you accessorize. Our bride above rocked a faux fur shawl for her outdoor pictures. Not only did she get to stay warm, but she looked chic while doing so!

Winter wedding inspiration from bridal bouquets to reception decor. Get ideas for your wedding on the blog!

All white wedding bouquets have been trending this year and they are perfect for winter wedding inspiration. The classic combination of white florals in a bridal bouquet is perfect for any style of wedding. If you love the idea of white flowers for your wedding, but in small doses only, then make your bouquet white and choose other colors for your centerpieces.

Winter wedding inspiration: Everything you need to create a romantic and chic wedding day in December!

Of course no wedding would be complete without an epic grand exit. Gather your guests outside at the end of the reception for an amazing sparkler send-off like this one!

No two snowflakes are ever the same and each winter wedding has its own magic. There are countless ways to make your winter wedding one to remember. What was your favorite idea from this winter wedding inspiration? Share what special touches you’re including in the comments below!

Winter Wedding Inspiration and tips for brides and grooms getting married in the coldest time of the year!

Why You Totally Need an Engagement Photo Session

If you’ve ever been invited to a wedding, at some point in the process you probably received a “Save the Date” card in the mail. That card is sent out before the invitations, roughly 6-8 months prior to the wedding date. Many couples choose to be informal and use one of their engagement photos for the background along with general wedding details. But that’s not the only reason why you totally need an engagement photo session prior to your wedding…

Wedding Planner Tip: It's super important to schedule an engagement session with your photographer before the wedding. Read our blog to hear why this needs to be on your to-do list and get inspiration for your own photos!

**Please note there are affiliate links within this blog post which means I may receive a small percentage of the price at no additional cost to you. No worries though, as I never endorse anything I don’t absolutely love**

As a wedding planner, I am always encouraging my couples to schedule an engagement session with their wedding photographer. Besides the fact that you’ll receive great photos of the two of you, there are multiple other benefits to consider. There are also things to consider as well as some misconceptions that I am going to share in this blog. If you are engaged and on the fence about setting up an engagement session, not sure about the details or just totally clueless, then read on!

“Yeah, that’s how it starts: ooh, ahh….then it’s running and screaming…”

“Why do you like math so much?”

“Because it’s the same in every language.”

-Mean Girls-

Apparently not.

Ok, today is ridiculous. It’s not even like Mercury is in retrograde, it’s like the whole planet got swallowed by the sun.

This industry, the wedding industry, can be a little like high school or community theatre. Now, I’m sorry if you don’t understand that reference, but it’s the best analogy that I can come up with. Everyone has their table in the cafeteria, there’s an overrated diva running the stage and some underclassman who’s way more talented is overshadowed constantly, while everyone else is in detention because the teachers are on strike and random frick and fracks are running the show.

This article is for everyone. The vendors, the venues, the wedding websites, and every single person about to or currently planning a wedding. You all should read this, you all should share this and you all should comment, question and make a statement.

Because the crazies are the ones with the money and they are not only running the asylum, but they are opening up new wings in the building every day. Slap a straight jacket on me. I’m over it. Here I am, cans of kerosene and a blow torch to burn bridges that I never want to cross again and that no one should even think about. Buckle up bitches.

There are two major wedding websites ruling the universe and you know who they are. They are the sites that cater to brides and grooms and help them find the best people to plan and hire for their wedding. There are countless articles on how to incorporate your colors, vision and style boards, and pages of message boards where you can commiserate with everyone else the pain in the ultimate ass it is to plan a wedding.

And if you’re getting married it’s like “damn, this site is helpful.” Because how on Earth would you have known when sunflowers were in season without sites such as these?! And their advice is free! Hot dog, every couple has hit the damn jackpot.

“She’s a life ruiner. She ruins people’s lives.”

The best part of these sites is that anyone planning a wedding can find the ultimate best people ever to work their wedding. Every planner within a 20 mile radius of your venue, right there, for you, on the home page. And squeeeeeel there are four featured planners, which clearly means they are the bestest in all the land, right? I mean, why else would a wedding website, one that is about helping the couple and being on their side, shove these planners to the front of the line?

Because money that’s why.

Oh yeah, you think those planners, DJs, photographers and other vendors that have profiles with shooting stars and glitter and the word “featured” on them are better than the rest? Not the case. They are just paying this wedding website more money to make sure they are front and center and you see them first. Eventually, this is going to be known as caveman style SEO, I’m sure. But whatever, the point is, I have booked jobs (I am not alone on this)  because I had the word “unicorn” next to my name. (Not “unicorn”, but you get it, right? Cool.)

Over the years these sites have evolved to include helpful articles for the “clueless” couples. How do I make calla lilies work? My sister sucks, do I have to make her my Maid of Honor? Articles like these were, and still are, on these sites, and they used to outweigh any articles that talked about how to save money while planning your wedding.

But now, the 60 inch round tables have turned and it’s all about how to have a wedding like The Duchess of Cambridge for five cents. These sites, that exist on the money they are taking from vendors like planners, are now talking out of the other side of their mouths on how you can basically DIY the whole damn thing and come out looking like a princess. This industry has got to be one of the only, if not the only to trash most of their advertisers in order to get brides and grooms to visit their site.

I currently advertise with two large wedding websites. That ends this year.

“She doesn’t even go here!”

Ever heard the phrase, “consider the source”? Sure you have. But right now, we’re in an age that if someone shared a doctored video of flying orangutans taking over China on Facebook, we would share that to death as if it were Gospel. Why bother to take two seconds to check out Snopes? THERE ARE FLYING MONKEYS IN CHINA DAMN IT! SHARE SHARE SHARE!

And these wedding websites know that. These sites that are all pro-bride and pro-groom, basically think you’re stupid. You believe everything you read. You won’t take the time to go all FBI and figure out that an editor of a magazine actually has no wedding knowledge and is a glorified yoga instructor. Why would you do that? The article is telling you what you want to hear! Because you want to be Kate Middleton, and you now know how to have her wedding for like, a dollar.

Do any of these sites ever show any math? Even like 2 plus 2? What result do they come up with? Antelope? The average floral bill and decor for 250 people in NYC is $897? Please tell me who the wholesale provider is here, or share whatever drug is being injected, because this is insane and incorrect. These sites never show you the math, they never breakdown the items into something as simple as what is in each centerpiece and what it will cost. Instead, they tell you the average cost of florals and decor as if they know, or as if they could tell you the difference between a garden rose or a hydrangea.

So now these sites, these “best friends to the bride” are making money off vendors and venues that are advertising with them, and then pulling couples in by telling these couples that, guess what? They don’t have to hire a single one of these people! Yes! How is that not a win for the site? Grab a glue gun and some glitter and BOOM, centerpieces for days! Some florist telling you that your bill is going to be $10,000 for your 350 person guest count wedding, plus 7,893 bridesmaids, as well as that bouquet that you had to have because it’s so on fleek? Screw her! What a LIAR! She’s just jacking up the price of those phalaenopsis orchids because how could anyone with 15 years of experience know more than Bambi, the latest wedding consultant on these websites?! No way. Not even remotely possible. Bambi says that orchids cost 5 cents. The gospel of Bambi. Team Bambi.

That’s right. These wedding websites are now offering the services of a wedding planner. For free. No strings attached.

Yeah. You know what? No strings, just a big rope to hang yourself when you follow the advice of Thing One and Thing Two to plan your wedding, and then you trip at the finish line with the wrong flowers, bad vendors, a crap venue and more. This cute little service popped up on the scene a year ago and drove (like getaway car on fire drove) the most established planners to another site to advertise their services on. Some of us got tired of the (to be frank) bullshit that these sites were feeding brides and grooms. Education takes a long time and none of us that do this planning thing as a full time actual job, have time to educate thousands of people that are listening to the words of someone that can handle “downward facing dog” but couldn’t plan her way out of a paper bag.

Consider the Source

Ever hear that saying? Start using it again, because it’s really important. When the articles you read are written by someone that “OH-EM-GEE” was in 17 weddings and therefore and thereby thus are a wedding planner, start questioning what you are reading…because it’s nonsense. Let me ask you something, are you going to take marriage advice from someone that’s divorced 3 times? What about make-up advice from someone who, when they contour, look like a Pinterest “nailed it” version of Kim K? No, you’re not. Because you aren’t an idiot. You go Glen Coco.

Then why are you listening to these “wedding planners” being touted by these wedding websites? Why? That’s like going to Web MD and totally not dealing with an actual doctor. You. Get. Cancer. Every time. And now, your centerpieces look like dumpster fires.

Did you drink awesome shooters, listen to awesome music, and then just sit around and soak up each others awesomeness?”

But it’s so tempting right, because these sites are free, you can create a super cutesy water-color wedding website and it’s adorable how you and your fiance look! Sah-woon! You didn’t have to pay a dime and got all of that for nada! Where’s “bad”?

Everywhere. And nothing is awesome either.

Today, two things sparked this insane rage of “are you actually for real?” in me. Everyday I struggle with making sure that I understand my client and that I understand the current demographics. Millennials are this, millennials want that…fine, whatever. But are millennials dense? Because how is such a large portion of this group falling for what they are told and never questioning why they are told these things?! Ya’ll need to get it together because I just can’t deal with this mess anymore. I can’t. This is me can’ting.

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant. And die.”

I really hope Millennials have seen “Mean Girls” because if not, I sound like a writer with Touretts. Don’t go all PC on me, you know what I mean. Anyway…

The first thing to make me want to asphyxiate myself, was being notified that complimentary wedding planners were being offered by a site that I advertise with. Advertise on. I pay this site to advertise as a wedding planner. This site is now offering couples wedding planner advice for free. I pay the salary of these random people, and they give free wedding advice to couples that went to this site to possibly look for a wedding planner and then hire them.

To rub salt into the wound, these two (yes, two) people are listed as “wedding planning consultants”. Girls, bye. You are the consultant of Jupiter and turf grass before you are a consultant of wedding plans.

Oh, and in case the salt in the wound wasn’t enough, this site was super clever to play to every couple signing up, by selecting three “wedding” pictures: one of an inter-racial couple, one of a gay couple and one traditional running through the forest get married in a barn couple.

But wait, there’s more! You’re getting married and you are brought to this page and wonder what the details are behind Door Number 1. Well, I’m glad you asked, because here’s what you get from this site now…for free:

  1. Assistance finding the best vendors to make your wedding day possible
  2. Assistance with everything from your guest list to your wedding website and “more”.
  3. Assistance making decisions…because this free planner is “just a neutral person to help you decide” and they “get it”.

The site then goes on to introduce the entire team! All two of them! Complete with headshots and bios that don’t say anything other than being in a bunch of weddings and working for a wedding website, which totes mcgoats makes them qualified to be your wedding planner guru. And one  of the experts really likes cheese.

I can’t even.

This is then followed up by Frequently Asked Questions (how frequent are these questions coming in when you just launched this 24 hours ago?). They confirm in this section that yay, they are real and it’s so free like wow! To put the cherry on top they are so there for like, you, and they are going to be mega-besties the entire time, braid your hair and help you narrow down your vendor search.

Best part? You can call them anytime!!!!!**

**Please note that anytime will be defined as 8:30am-5:30pm, but you can email like whenever**

Let me tell you how many of my clients can meet with me at 8:30am. Or 11am. Or 3pm. Or 4:30pm.

Zero.

Here is another question: how are these people/”planners” helping you select your vendors? Because, let’s not be stupid here, these recommendations are only vendors that already advertise with the site (and you could’ve found on your own). If the vendors recommended aren’t on the site, then the ones paying to advertise might be a bit annoyed. But how do you (you being “just add water instant planner) recommend a particular vendor?

Well, there’s another major site that did this first, and here’s how they did it:

Vendor and venue recommendations made to couples planning their weddings based off the vendors and venues already advertising with the site…and willing to pay to be on the list…and willing to pay a percentage off every package booked this way.

In English? Your “free and costs nothing” hack job wedding planner from some website, was recommending someone to you based solely upon how much money they were going to receive from said someone. But these sites are pro-bride and pro-groom, right?

How about pro-money? Let’s call it what it is.

“Boo, you whore.”

Depending on which site you like to play on, most brides (sorry grooms) do have an allegiance to one wedding website over the other. At a time when a bride is flying high about marrying the love of her life, she is not going to be worried about a site lying to her. No one actually believes they can be the victim of total lies on a website, and many don’t take the time or even have the time to understand the motive to lie in the firstplace. Furthermore, why would any bride question how she is being told to save money on a wedding? This is how you save because the website said so.

Doesn’t add up, now does it?

Of course, the second issue that came up today which has me spinning, is an article that published revealing “true” wedding costs. There is one person, one organization cited as the source for the article. That source is pretty much the equivalent to Web MD, which means not only do you get cancer, but your centerpieces are wilted too. The article has been shared hundreds of thousands of times already and probably got a few couples to believe they could do their wedding for so much less, even though that’s not the case.

But these articles, much like this one, are in writing. So therefore, they must be true. Until they’re not and you’ve received wedding planning advice from a college drop out that doesn’t care about anything because her father invented Toaster Strudel.

I guess what I’m saying here is to realize that you get what you pay for. If you pay nothing, then that’s what the advice was worth in the first place.

And if you’re a wedding website taking money from established planners, and then turn around to run a “beta-test” on your “couples consulting program”, maybe you should start using those words and stop sending cut and paste emails to the subscribers that make your site exist in the first place.

What a wonderful world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Went Wrong?

A good magician never reveals his or her tricks, and a wedding planner is a lot like a magician. There are some smoke and mirrors, and on the day of the wedding, the disasters that happen are fixed by the planner before the couple even notices. My favorite question to get from my clients when they return from their honeymoon is, “What went wrong that we didn’t know about?” Here are my Top 10 answers.

1. The entire set up was delayed by four hours.

Putting together the “day of” timeline is a very long and tedious process. Every planner works differently, but I personally like to construct the day with the vendors I am working with. This means I speak to the caterer about when food is served, the venue about set up timing, the DJ about dances, the photographer about their schedule and so on and so forth. I like to work this way because the timing has to work for everyone working that day. So, if the make up artist tells me that she needs to start at 6:00 a.m., that’s what time we start.

Of course there are adjustments that can be made the day of the wedding, and the timeline is put together to allow for lateness and mishaps. But one time, the set up was delayed four hours because the venue coordinator didn’t check the calendar to see that another event was in the exact same room earlier that day, despite confirming that we had the room to ourselves. Needless to say, it made everything very difficult and we worked with the florist to set up in a different location. With some major hard work and hustle, the set up was completed on time and done before the couple and any of their guests got to the building. I was extremely thankful that this was a “full planning” couple and that we were working with my florist that only books one event per day and was able to stay on site instead of going to another wedding to set up!

2. None of your guests got on the shuttles that you paid for.

Many of my clients want to book enough shuttles to bring guests from the hotel block to the wedding and back at the end of the night. The more locations, the more my couples want this service so that they don’t have to worry about their guests getting lost or not showing up on time. In order to set up this transportation, the couple has to decide how many people they need it for in advance of the wedding date, and we make sure to ask guests when RSVP’ing to the wedding to check off if they will be using the shuttle.

But the problem is, many people will say they are taking the shuttle and then decide not to, and vice versa. Shuttles aren’t inexpensive though and you end up paying for them even if no one uses the service. At one wedding, the shuttle company called me to let me know that of the 75 people they were waiting for, only three showed up. If they didn’t leave right then, they would be late, so we gave them the green light. Of course, it was nerve wracking to think if the other 72 guests were going to find the venue and show up on time. My assistant waited by the entrance of the venue to guide those guests inside, and we moved the bride’s entrance to a different part of the building so that she didn’t see three people getting off the shuttles instead of the 75 right before she walked down the aisle.

3. Your florist didn’t set up what you think she did.

Whether we are handling the flowers and decor, or we’re working with one of our preferred florists, it’s always crystal clear as to whom is setting up what. But there are plenty of weddings we plan where the clients already have certain vendors locked in, which means they have already had the meetings and signed the contracts. We play some catch up and get as many details as possible, but sometimes we’re not told everything, or we’re given conflicting stories.

In one instance, we were on site for a wedding where you simply rented the space and brought everything else in. While we were handling our set up work, the florist approached me about certain areas where flowers were supposed to be placed, including the cocktail area and directly on the cake. After confirming the details, she handed myself and my staff a bucket of roses and indicated that they should be enough. When I mentioned that my team and I were handling other issues, I was told by the florist that she “wasn’t paid” to handle that set up (Ok, but neither were we). Biggest issue? The flowers weren’t in water (so we had to locate a water supply) and they all needed to be cut. Thankfully, I have flower shears in my emergency kit, and we were able to put the flowers our client had paid for to good use. Otherwise they would’ve been in a bucket on a floor. Needless to say, half of the set up was taken care of by us and the bride was happy with everything she saw.

4. Over a dozen people showed up that didn’t RSVP.

One wedding we designed and planned included a large surprise of more than 12 people walking in that never RSVP’d. These people all needed seats at tables and of course, food. When you’re in a venue with in house catering and there are one or two extra people that show up, that is difficult, but manageable. At this wedding, it was another venue where we brought in everything including tables, chairs, serveware and yes, food.

When over a dozen people show up needing all of these “basic” things, it’s hard not to look at them without shaking your head. I mean, my staff is good, but we can’t just build tables. Plus, while we do rent extra plates and such, full place settings for that many people would increase the bill that our client would have to pay. In this particular case, we called the emergency number of our rental company, and got them to bring the extras that we needed, and the caterer we were working with made adjustments to get everyone fed. During the set up of the extra tables (and linens and chairs, etc.) we brought the non-RSVP’ing guests to a different location so that the couple didn’t see them hovering in the hallway and worry about if they would be taken care of.

5. Your rentals arrived an hour late.

Part of the timing of the day includes when each and every vendor is going to arrive and how long they need to set up. Occasionally, my company is hired for “month of” coordination which means we’re just handling the logistics of the day and executing them. We don’t bring in any vendors, and sometimes that means working with people that we would never have recommended in the first place.

One wedding we worked on had an extensive list of rentals attached to it, and that included linens. We set up a timeline to make sure that the florist knew what time the linens were going down, because that’s when they could place the centerpieces. For this wedding which included several hundred guests (which translated to over 30 tables), the linens showed up an hour late, resulting in the florist getting delayed and they were designing directly on site. When the linens arrived, we grabbed them all and helped the rental company get them all down to save some time. One of our team members was constantly checking on or with the bride to make sure that not only was she enjoying getting ready, but that she didn’t come out to see the florist in a panic. When the bride and groom were escorted to see the full set up, everything was completed instead of only halfway done.

6. Your groomsmen started a fire.

We can’t control wedding guests or wedding parties, and sometimes things get a little crazy. On one wedding day, the groomsmen had a little too much to drink and got behind the wheel of a golf cart. This golf cart went directly into the tiki torches that were set up, and then those torches went down and caused a fire. Thankfully, we stay on site until the last wedding guest leaves, so we were able to get the fire out without anyone ever finding out. Including the bride and groom. Bonus? We got the fire out quickly enough so that there was no damage and the venue didn’t have to charge the bride and groom for anything.

7. The shuttle company got into a car accident. With your guests aboard.

Another couple that we worked with that wanted to transport their guests everywhere didn’t want to hire one of the companies that we recommended. As I mentioned before, using shuttles for all of your guests can come with a hefty pricetag, but it’s one of those things that you don’t “cheap out” on. Take this one couple we worked with that wanted to shuttle all of their guests because the wedding was located so far from where everyone lived that it was practically a destination wedding. When they found out what it would cost to hire a company we endorsed, they went out on their own and brought in someone else.

The day of the wedding, we were called by one of the drivers and were told that he was in a car accident with all of the guests on board. While no one was hurt, this is obviously not a good situation. The timeline we created allowed for some wiggle room and none of the guests were going to be late. However, we instructed the driver to make an announcement to the guests that under no circumstances were they to call the couple or the wedding party to let them know what happened. We also went straight to the best man and maid of honor to give them a head’s up and ask them to please make sure everyone stayed away from their cell phones, just in case a text came through about the accident. The couple did eventually find out, but not until well into the reception… which is when they came up to us to ask if we had heard about it.

8. Your flowers caught on fire.

Candles and flowers are on almost every single table where the guests sit at weddings. Many times, couples will put the most amount of people that they can at each table, which results in cramped spaces as well as a tight tablescape. While 14 people might fit just fine around a table, pile on 14 place settings, a centerpiece, candles, and then whatever the guests put on the table during the evening, and it can get tricky.

During one wedding, we had tall centerpieces that included a lot of white flowers, and that centerpiece was surrounded by tall candles. The candles were pushed very close to the centerpieces because there were the maximum amount of people at each table. As the candles were lit, I could smell smoke and raced around to figure out where it was coming from. There were five tables with flowers on fire, which meant reconfiguring the centerpieces, and removing some flowers that were now a crispy black. Thankfully, nothing was noticeable and we cleared the smoke smell before guests entered the room.

9. The catering company didn’t clean up anything.

One of the benefits of hosting a wedding at a banquet facility is that there is typically an on-site caterer that handles not only the food, but set up and breakdown… and clean up. When we work at creative spaces, we like to bring on our recommended caterers that also can handle these responsibilities. It’s a disaster when no one is quite sure what everyone else is responsible for, and it’s never good to hear “that’s not my job.”

At a wedding we were hired for “Month Of” Coordination, the bride and groom had selected a caterer that owned their favorite restaurant. When we first touched base with this caterer we found out that this would be their first wedding ever, and they asked us for some guidance throughout the process. What they didn’t mention to us is that they were just hired to cook and serve, and that they wouldn’t be clearing any of the plates, or cleaning up for that matter. Needless to say, we spent a good amount of time cleaning up the cocktail hour area, as well as running to the store at 11:00 p.m. for garbage bags (because the caterer didn’t have any extra) to clean up the dirty plates so that our couple didn’t get hit with a multi-thousand dollar fine from the venue the next day.

10. Your DIY stuff didn’t work/fell apart.

Ahh, the DIY Pinterest inspired decor. This stuff always makes me nervous because there are so many things that can go wrong, and the bigger the project, the better chance it has to fall apart. We don’t typically work with couples that want to DIY their entire wedding, centerpieces and all. The reason for this is simply that we can’t fix everything and don’t want an arts and craft project on our hands the day of the wedding. However, many of our couples do add some personal touches that we can and will set up.

Thankfully, in my emergency kit is a whole lot of super glue, safety pins, double sided tape and frankly, the contents of an art supply store. For more than one wedding we have glued “bling” back onto frames, safety pinned table numbers to the linens because they were too thin to stand on their own, and taped, stuck and hammered things back together that fell apart as we were setting them up. Usually when this happens the venue coordinator or another vendor will ask us “what would happen to these things if you weren’t here?” Our reply?

We have no idea.

There is my Top 10 favorite “crisis averted” moments, and trust me, there are hundreds more. This is not to say that a wedding will fall apart without a planner, but really, why even take the chance? Hire a Houdini, sit back, relax, and just get married.

10 Little Wedding Planning Lies

I recently read an article that told brides not to worry about rain on the wedding day and their dress getting ruined, because they can just send out a bridesmaid to pick up a bunch of golf umbrellas, on the day of the wedding…. and maybe even in the wedding colors.

Because it’s that easy.

Reality? The bride and her bridesmaids are probably in hair and make up and there isn’t exactly time to have someone from the party run out and pick up coordinating umbrellas. It’s also probably very early in the day and many stores aren’t even open. And where exactly are you getting golf umbrellas? Did you also know that only bright colors show up in photos, i.e. white, pink, yellow and so forth? Golf umbrellas tend to be black, or have logos or designs on them, and all of that photographs horribly. But hey, send out a bridesmaid to fetch a few and just like that, photo magic just like you’ve seen on Pinterest!

And that was just one piece of advice in one article from one website. With more and more couples planning their weddings from their smartphones, it is no wonder brides and grooms are confused and overwhelmed on a daily basis. Hundreds of sites are competing for couples to visit their site over the rest so that they can get advertisers to spend money with them. Advertisers will take their money off the table if they aren’t getting new brides and grooms. So how does a site get the brides and grooms to keep coming back? By telling them what they want to hear.

Who is even writing half of these articles? Anyone can be a blogger, but who is writing the articles for wedding website hotspots? Ever google an author’s name from an article with brilliant advice like the golf umbrella nonsense? Would it surprise you to find out that many authors have little to no wedding background and that their full time and real jobs include anything from bartender to yoga instructor?

As long as couples are relying on the internet for inspiration and answers to their questions, there will be piles of outdated answers, half-truths and flat out lies. And while it’s impossible to educate everyone with real facts, it’s irresponsible to not even try.

So here are the top 10 “helpful hints” you are reading that are complete and total crap.

1. What to Book and When Treating weddings like they are all based on some mathematical formula is insulting and flat out stupid. Just because you give an app your wedding date and it spits back when you need to book your venue and all of your vendors, doesn’t mean it’s correct. Yes, there are basic parameters including booking your venue at least a year out and purchasing the gown at least nine months before your wedding date. But what happens when you get engaged and your wedding is three to six months later? How about the fact that certain wedding gowns can be ordered nine months out and some only need six months? If you have a Fall wedding date in mind (think: September-October), there is a strong possibility that you will need more than a year out to book your venue. These “wedding planning timelines” are, at best, full of suggestions. Kind of like speed limit signs.

2. In Season Flowers and BYOC There is this “thing” about only having in season flowers at your wedding in order to save you buckets of money. In reality, if you want a certain flower and it is in season, but I can get it somewhere else (Columbia, Holland, whatever) at a wholesale cost for less, then that’s what I’m going to do. This means going into a florist and demanding only “in season” flowers is a waste of time. A better idea is to go to a florist with pictures, ideas and the budget you are working with. Let the professional tell you what can and can’t be done and go from there. Also, ignore that bit about renting or buying your own containers and giving them to the florist to work with. Many times this won’t save you money and you’ll spend weeks and weekends looking for containers that measure the exact height and width necessary for your florist to work with. Plus, wedding professionals have relationship with wholesale companies (flowers and containers) and can absolutely get a better deal than you could. So, let them.

3. “Wedding” is a Four-Letter Word Do not waste your time arguing with every venue, caterer and vendor about what their costs would be if this was just a birthday party with 250 of your closest friends. Despite what these blogs want you to believe, just because you say it’s a “wedding,” doesn’t mean the cost is going to triple. A peony costs the same no matter what the event. The flower doesn’t know it’s an engagement party and not a wedding. I cannot give you a lower price on pipe and drape because it’s not for a wedding… Why? Because the fabric costs what it costs, and the team I have charges the rates they charge to set it up. Plenty of times my set up staff doesn’t know (or doesn’t even remember) what kind of event they are even prepping for. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. So, being snarky to the baker with cute questions like “what would this four-tier cake shaped like a rose cost if this wasn’t a wedding?” doesn’t make much sense. Plus… I’ve seen plenty of birthday cakes cost double and more than certain wedding cakes.

4. Barns, Museums, and Other Creative Spaces Save You Money It is trendy to get out of the ballroom and into a creative space. Barns are hugely popular and now plenty of couples want someplace different, including mansions, museums and private homes. Blogs will tell you that spaces such as these will save you so much on decor because there is so much to look at that who needs centerpieces? Um, well, let’s just say that’s true (it’s not, but let’s say that it is). These spaces are creative. Creative is an industry way to say “cool, unique and raw”. Raw is slang for “you are bringing everything in”. So, how much are you really saving here on decor? Minimal to no flowers needed on the table because the surroundings are just that good, but hey, you actually need to bring in those tables. And chairs. Ceremony and reception. And. And. And. Another industry term? “Estate Fee”, which translates to “the cost of walking in the door and using the space”. Some creative spaces have $30,000 estate fees attached to them, making them not exactly the best way to save you money.

5. Buffets Are Less Expensive Than Sit Down Dinners This was pretty much true for a very long time and if you show this to your parents they will say that it still is. As the wedding industry has grown and evolved, this too has changed. Buffets absolutely can be less expensive, but there are plenty of times where that simply isn’t the case. For instance, if your venue is one of those creative space types and you get to bring in your own caterer, there is a strong chance that a buffet will run you more money. Think about it: when you’re invited to a wedding, your RSVP card frequently will include your food choices and you will select one and send it back. A catering company then knows exactly what to prepare and the quantity of each dish. This means less waste and a lower cost. While a caterer can absolutely estimate how much of everything they will need based on your guest count, they know they are going to waste more than if it was a plated dinner. Sometimes this can save you money but it is not the rule anymore, so you have to ask and not assume.

6. What Things Cost, Especially “Too Good To Be True” Numbers The same websites giving out that super handy planning timeline based on formulas, are the ones telling you what everything costs. Here’s the deal: the national average cost of weddings is a very easy number to find. However, the national average is just that: national. That number (roughly $29,000) always has a little note next to it like this: *, and you’re supposed to go to the bottom of the article to find out that areas such as the NYC Metro area are about $20k higher. Many times, no one sees that little piece of information because they are being (mis)directed to another part of the site where your entire budget can be broken down by category. How helpful! I also hate to bring up that other word, but I’m going to: average. Do you want an average wedding? What’s an average wedding anyway? And where do these statistics come from? Ever wonder? I can tell you: Various areas such as magazine submissions that ask the couple what they spent, surveys that pop up on social media sites, and so forth. It’s a very flawed system to get to that $29,000 number. This brings me back to sites telling engaged couples what they want to hear and encouraging them with stories of how couples just like them planned a fabulous wedding for only 2 dollars. If the number seems to good to be true, it just might be. Keep an open mind when vendor shopping. 7. Substitute Candles and Decor Instead of Flowers To Save Especially helpful for couples that don’t like flowers or want to use something else, there are plenty of articles touting this as a great way to save money. First of all, not all flowers are the same price, and there are plenty of options. If you want flowers, get flowers, and work with an experienced florist and designer to create the look you want for the amount you can afford. But, if you don’t want flowers and prefer rental pieces, candles, or anything else, don’t let anyone tell you that this is a money saver. A trip to a craft or home good stores (online or in person), will illustrate just how much money you will actually need to budget. A side by side comparison of a centerpiece using affordable blooms versus one using vases and floating candles can yield similar numbers. If you buy these items yourself, then keep in mind that you will need to store them before the wedding, pack them up once the reception is over, and then be stuck with them. Forever. Because, let’s be honest, while selling them on websites seems like an easy way to make your money back, it’s not always a guarantee and it’s a lot of work too.

8. A Day Of Coordinator/Month of Coordinator, Same Difference Hiring a full planner for your wedding can be expensive and you might not have it in your budget. Websites that are already putting together your planning timelines for free are always going to suggest a “day of” coordinator as an alternative. They will define a “DOC” as someone who is there just on the day of the wedding to make sure everything runs smoothly exactly like you planned. The problem comes up when a couple starts reaching out to planners only to find out that “day of” is a media myth and “month of” is more realistic. However, a “month of” coordination fee could be higher (and is higher) than many couples expect because the words “day of” are engrained in their minds. I have been contacted by dozens of brides telling me they just needed me there on the wedding day, not two months before organizing a timeline with their vendors and so forth. The thing is, if a coordinator agrees to just show up to your wedding day without doing work beforehand (you know….coordinating work) then they are a hack job and you’d be better off just setting your cash on fire.

9. This Chain Store is AWESOME It’s typically painfully obvious when a website is trying to sell you something, which is why people are getting slick about it. Sure, you have your banner ads and features, but embedded in some articles are cute little advertising tactics. There are plenty of huge chains that partner with wedding websites and bloggers, and the angle of the articles is to get the couple to shop with them. In fact, plenty of times a write-up might have nothing to do with the store or even what it sells, but rather a funny wedding story or just some advice. Chain stores serve their purpose, but a couple would be better served at a boutique store where they will receive personalized attention and be working with someone that has been in the industry for a long time. When you shop at a chain store for anything (not just wedding related), you never meet the “owner”, and your salesperson could have started yesterday and be on to the next job by the time your wedding date rolls around. One of the best parts of the wedding industry is that it is filled with amazing small businesses to choose from. They might not be in those articles you’re reading, but they are the better choice.

10. Details Don’t Matter Be honest, you’ve looked at real weddings for inspiration. You’ve probably noticed that the majority of the pictures include shots of the invitation, the rings, the shoes, the table numbers, etc. They throw in a handful of people pictures, but that is never the focus. Why? Because the details pull the design of a wedding together. A cost-cutting tip spreading faster than poison ivy right now is to ditch the details. You don’t need the letter press invites/calligraphy/altar decor/cufflinks/sequin cake table/whatever, according to the internet, and just like that you have extra money in your budget. Look, maybe you don’t need that stuff, but maybe you want some or all of it. It’s OK to love the details, and if you want your wedding published, it’s mandatory to focus on them (and have a photographer get the right shots). Details can be affordable and they can also break the bank depending on what they are. All it takes is a little research and creativity, and you will find the details that are right for you (if you want them).

It’s a scary new wedding planning world out there with more and more couples relying on what they find online. Less in-person appointments are made, and more Skype and phone call consultations are happening to book vendors. There are millions of articles out there, and plenty of conflicting pieces of information. Truthfully though, if planning a wedding was just as easy as surfing the web, then planners, including yours truly, would be out of a job. Don’t get hypnotized with everything you read. Do your research, Google the authors, and watch out for hidden advertisements.

Happy planning!

Know Your Numbers

Whether you are in the wedding industry or you are engaged, there is a question that if you haven’t heard it already, you will hear it thousands of times in the near future:

“What is your budget?”

This is a question that every vendor either wants to ask prospective clients, or simply does ask. In fact, many vendors will not entertain a consultation without knowing what the couple has decided to spend on the big day. On the flip side, couples can react negatively to this question seeing it as a trap. There are plenty of brides and grooms that think the reason this question is even being asked, is so that the vendor can come in right around that number as opposed to giving a lower number.

While it doesn’t surprise me that couples think vendors are simply trying to take advantage of them, that is not (usually) the reason we’re asking for this information. Of course, there are so many “helpful” articles out there on wedding websites advising couples how to save money by being vague when speaking with vendors (or sending a mass app request to every vendor in their area asking simply “what do you charge?”) . Thus, many couples assume that vendors are the devil looking to shake them down. Shout out to all of the blogs, articles and talk shows for painting vendors in an negative light and making it impossible for couples to trust anyone with the biggest day of their lives. My favorite of these, of course, are the sites where vendors pay thousands of dollars to advertise each year on, only to basically be “wedding-blocked” by the same site. But I digress…

Frankly, I ask what the budget is from every prospective client that is looking to hire me for full or partial planning, as well as design and decor. This isn’t because I’m looking to just take 10% off their entire budget for my fee, but rather, it’s to figure out if that number and what they want is realistic and a good match for my company. When I’m not given a number, I hear one of these two responses:

1. “I don’t know.”

What do you mean you don’t know? How do you manage your finances for anything? I have gotten this answer from parents of couples, couples themselves and even couples planning their second marriage. When you buy a home, are you jumping onto Zillow and not putting in a range of pricing that you can afford? Nope. You are typing that you can a. either spend from “x” to “y” or b. that your maximum to spend is “y”.

When you’re asked what your budget is, a flat number isn’t necessary, and a range is perfectly acceptable. It is impossible to be respectful of your finances if no one knows what they are. I do not have a crystal ball in my office, but what I do know is “I don’t know” really means, “I don’t want to tell you.”

As I stated earlier, I understand (and many vendors do) why couples are on the defense. However, couples need to understand that complete transparency is necessary to not only secure the right vendors, but to have a solid relationship with these people throughout the process. If you’re shady about your numbers, we are going to wonder if you’ll be dishonest down the road, right up to the point where we have to worry if the review you write will be positive, or if you’ll write what bothered you even though you never brought it up to the vendor at any time.

I have been contacted many times as just a designer to handle things including florals, rentals, linens and decor. When I’ve been told by someone that they didn’t know what their budget was, I’ve asked to see pictures of what they want and hear about their ideas. From there I put a proposal together along with a quote, and believe me when I say that designing a proposal like that isn’t a two minute job. Many times, I’ve then gotten back comments along the lines of “that is more than I wanted to spend!”

Oh. So you DO have a budget. I mean, obviously you do if the number I am quoting is too high. What’s ridiculous about that situation is the amount of time and energy I took and my staff took getting inspired and putting something together for you. For free. The better way to handle this situation is for the couple to know their budget, know what they want and approach vendors with “this is what I want and this is what I can spend, and I need you to tell me what you can do for me.”

Now, if you truly don’t know what your budget is, then you are putting the cart so far in front of the horse that it’s in a different country. You simply cannot start planning a major (yes, major regardless of guest count and details) event like a wedding without knowing what you can afford. As a planner, once I know what the total budget is, we can then figure out what to spend and where. But before that, nothing can be done.

And for the other answer I receive…

2. “I don’t know what anything costs”

You don’t need to. What does what something costs have to do with what you can afford? Think of it this way: you’re going car shopping and you know what you want down to color, how many doors, and how much you can afford to put down and spend per month for payments. What you don’t know is the make or model that you are interested in, so you shop around. While you’re shopping around, you don’t know how much a Mercedes E Class car is…or who knows, maybe you do, but I drive an Outlander and know nothing about luxury cars mostly because every car I’ve ever owned has had to carry flowers, design pieces, my dogs, children and I don’t really care about cars but whatever…Anyway, the point is, it doesn’t matter how much any car is, it only matters what you can afford. If you start realizing that you can’t afford a Benz, then understand that there are other cars out there.

While shopping around for vendors, odds are that you will get quotes that are all over the place. This can be extremely confusing since you really don’t know what anything costs, and you feel you are getting quotes from A-Z for the same exact service or product. At the end of the day, if the price seems to good to be true, then it probably (aka absolutely) is. I have seen vendors undercut others just to get the job, full knowing that the job would be less than perfect for the client. It’s sad and pathetic, but some vendors in the industry don’t really care about anything other than the money, and it’s those vendors that you are being warned about that are out to get you, and your checkbook.

The other situation is when you are receiving a lower quote from someone newer in the business that might work very hard for you, but won’t have the experience that could prove to be necessary on your wedding day. This is why it’s especially important while “price shopping” to not go back to vendors and let them know that you received a quote for the same thing but for less. Experience costs more, as it should and thus, you may think you are getting the same thing, but you’re really not. Buyer beware.

In any event, what things cost is going to vary for reasons like location, experience, quality of service and product and so forth. The only number that matters is what you can afford and that is the number that you need to communicate to your vendors in the beginning. It’s only a game if you make it one, so ignore those basic articles you’re reading about vendors who only want a number so that they can take the entire thing. Most of us are looking to work with you and let you know what can and can’t be done. But it’s disrespectful to expect any vendor to jump through hoops and design any type of proposal for free based on the budget you said you knew nothing about, but actually did.

Step 1: Know your numbers Step 2: Start planning

Everyone has a budget for a wedding, no matter what the number is. If you don’t take care of that boring but very significant detail before starting the process, the honeymoon will be over before it starts…if you can even afford one by then.

Stop Calling Yourself a Wedding Planner!

A wedding planner seems to be the easiest job in the world. I mean, it must be for so many people to just throw it on their signature lines. Girl gets married? Instant wedding planner. Recommended peonies to your sister for her wedding? You’re a wedding planner too! To go all Oprah in this article, “You’re a wedding planner, and you’re a wedding planner, everyone’s wedding planner!!” Just add water, and boom: wedding planner.

This stuff is ridiculous now and the industry is saturated enough without these people running around claiming to be a wedding planner. It’s not fair to actual wedding planners, and guess what? It’s really unfair to those couples that are looking to hire a real wedding planner. Why? Because sometimes it’s hard to tell a Prada from a Canal Street Knock-Off. So, I’m going to make it a little easier for everyone right here, right now.

The following people are not wedding planners and need to stop pretending that they are. I’m blowing away your smoke and shattering your mirrors.

1. Recent Bride I hear this all the time! What made you want to be a planner? “I had so much fun planning my own wedding!” Forgive me for rolling my eyes. Of course you did. It was your wedding. Many people have fun planning their wedding and yes, some then decide they want to plan for others. However, the ones that are successful go on to actually learn something about the business. This doesn’t mean joining every wedding group imaginable, getting certified, networking and living on Pinterest. Those that are serious start by working for another company or someone else, and learning what they don’t know. Let me ask you this: would you drive over a bridge that was designed by someone saying “I’m an architectural engineer”, didn’t actually have a degree, but was really good with their Lego collection? While I don’t believe that certifications or degrees (though I have a handful) are necessary to be a wedding planner, I do believe in experience. After years in the business, I learn something new every single wedding I plan. Why roll the dice with a planner who only learned what she knows by planning her own wedding? Continuing education is important in this field, but actual education in the first place is step 1.

2. DJs Jack of all trades and master of how many? DJs are responsible for music. Planners are not responsible for music. As a planner, I like to work with my vendors and defer to them when it’s their area of expertise. But more and more, I am hearing about DJs offering their services as a “wedding planner”. I know not one DJ that is going to find your gown or know how to bustle it on the day of the wedding. I do not know any DJs that will do venue visits with you to discuss a possible flower installation on the ceiling, or what a good floor layout would look like in a blank space. I partner with DJs that can vibe with my clients and create a phenomenal party atmosphere. I trust them to work on the music with them and the timing of the evening with me. Not once did I ever ask a DJ what time the bride should start hair and make-up, because that is not their area. It might be tempting to let your DJ be your wedding planner, because it’s only a few dollars more, but don’t go down this road. Your money is better off set on fire.

3. Venue Coordinators You don’t need a planner, right? Have you heard that from your venue coordinator? How about “we handle everything”? It is not the job of a venue coordinator to handle the logistics of your first look including the timing and location. Nor is it their job to give directions to your rental company that can’t find their way. A venue coordinator is never going to be a point person for your vendors and guests the entire day of the wedding, especially if anything takes place outside their playground aka the venue. Many venues don’t like planners because many planners don’t know how to play nice in the sandbox and will be in the kitchen telling the Chef how to prepare the salad. The answer isn’t to not hire a planner, it’s to ask your venue for planner recommendations. If they don’t have any, then while you are interviewing planners, make sure you ask how they communicate with venues and vendors during the planning process. If a planner says that they put together a timeline without speaking to anyone, you need to run.

4. High School Prom Planner This person has planned their high school prom, their alumni dinner, and some baby shower for a friend. What do all of those events have in common? They were volunteer jobs. Things change when there is a paycheck on the line and money is the ultimate motivator. Most planners want what is best for their clients, but you can guarantee that they will really want what is best if they are being paid. Look, planning is fun most of the time, and designing a space can be amazing. However, money talks, and sometimes it says “you’re not good enough to do this for a living”. If you are serious about wanting a planner, then it’s best to find a professional and not a hobbyist. While many planners found out that this is what they wanted to do by starting out planning random events, a true professional will have a client roster full of clients that paid for their services.

5. Pop-Up Planner/Photo-Stealers This one is hard to spot….maybe the hardest, and that’s really sad. I, personally, am aware of people that have put together profiles on wedding websites using photos that don’t belong to them. These photos include tablescapes, florals, brides, full landscapes including tents, and more. Sometimes, to jump start a planning career, a planner will advertise using stock images. These images are available on the internet to be used in portfolios, and are perfect to grab the unsuspecting bride and/or groom. After all, it’s not very likely that a bride or groom will grab an image from a website and throw it into a google image search to see where it came from. However, I have seen images from vendors and venues that clearly were not theirs, and after doing a search, have found the same images on various famous wedding blogs (this is totally illegal and not the same as using stock images, by the way). These people are easy to spot because they suddenly appear, or “pop-up” on the scene and have countless reviews and a portfolio to rival any of their competition. But reviews can be faked and photos can be stolen. Again, this is a tough one for newly engaged couples to spot, so my advice would be to step back and even though what you see might excite you, do your homework and interview multiple planners until you find the “real deal”.

6. Wedding Websites Free venue assistance. Free inspiration. Free vendor matching. “Free” is appealing, especially when weddings can be so expensive. But “free” comes with a heavy price tag when you are drowning in bad advice given by people that have no experience as a wedding planner. Just because the wedding website you are signed up with is just that, a wedding website, doesn’t necessarily mean that the people working with it have a background in anything wedding related. Most of the time, you won’t know whom you’re speaking with, and a wedding is a personal thing. In fact, many of my clients have used the word “personal” when discussing what they want for the design and decor of their wedding. You can’t plan a wedding using some app, and there is a reason for that! For instance, I’m an accountant fan, not a Turbo Tax fan, because I like dealing with a real person that I know has real experience. Not saying that taxes and paying the government isn’t important or anything, but I’m pretty sure planning a wedding is right up there. Websites are great, forums are fun, but chatting through a computer or phone isn’t how you design the day of your dreams or get the real questions answered. Might be free, but it’s not worth it.

7. Your Friend, The Great Pretender I’ve been challenged, more than a few times, by the sister, maid of honor, mother, brother, father, sorority sister, best friend, you name it, that they knew better than I. I’ve been told by the sister that she would be developing the timeline and that’s why I wasn’t needed. To all of these challenges, I’ve shrugged my shoulders and walked away because those weren’t my clients. These brides were never going to hire a wedding planner because they already had a “planner” in their lives. Of course, when that friend went to try and negotiate a contract and never got a discount, or attempted to design something the bride saw on Pinterest but couldn’t afford, or failed at doing anything that a professional would succeed at, then I’m sure the bride wasn’t too happy. The point is, that person probably had another job, their day job, and that’s what they should be focusing on. Hobbies are cute, but while I love me some competitive karaoke and have some serious theatre experience under my belt (along with my AEA and SAG/AFTRA card), I’m not the next Beyonce or Meryl Streep. It’s ridiculous to think that any bride or groom would be getting the true “wedding planner” experience with their cousin that does it “on the side”.

Wedding planning is not easy, and the job can be viewed as something that anyone could do. The reality is, my job as a wedding planner is a real job that requires real work and real experience. There is constant education, and the wedding world is evolving everyday. Sometimes it’s not always easy to spot a good wedding planner from a fake one, but if the stitching is frayed and the zipper doesn’t zip, you might be holding a knock-off.

Ring Shopping Survival Guide

Now is the time of year that we in the wedding industry call “engagement season.” Why? Because close to 40% of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Families are all home to celebrate, the holidays make the months extra romantic, and it’s just that time of year that engagements happen. If you are one of those people looking to pop the question during this time and you’re taking advantage of that little “Black Friday” thing to go shopping, then this is for you.

1. Look at her jewelry as a guide.

Ok, you know her and hopefully you know her style by now. Take away what hangs in her closet, and focus on what she wears around her neck, on her ears, around her wrist and on her fingers. I’m talking about her jewelry. Does she wear multiple pieces together or does she keep things simple and classic? In other words: have you ever looked at her and thought that she had way too many pieces on, only to find out that it was one necklace? Or, have you ever asked her why she wasn’t wearing any earrings only to get a nasty glance as she pulled her hair back to show you that she actually was? If you’re really not sure what her style is, then get into her stash, take a look, take some pictures, and bring that with you when you shop. Basically? Be a ninja.

2. Go shopping. Together.

Does it take the romance out of proposing if you go ring shopping together? No. Why? Because you’re not just going to propose with the ring she falls in love with right then and there at the store. That’s not how it works outside of the movies. Just like she will learn that not every wedding gown she loves in the magazines looks good on her, you both will learn what looks good on her hand. Assuming you’ve had the whole “hey, where’s this relationship going” conversation and the answer is “down the aisle, duh”, then going ring shopping isn’t spoiling the surprise. Not only is this a chance for you both to see what looks good, but you also get to see what she likes and doesn’t like, and you get her ring size. Buckets of winning, my friend.

3. Friends. They Know.

Odds are, her friends know that she is expecting a ring and already planning her wedding by putting together 1,457 Pinterest boards. These same friends probably know what type of ring she wants right down to the cut. If you don’t want to go shopping together, then this is the avenue for you. Not only will her friends know what she wants in a ring, but they will probably have other useful information for you. For instance, I am currently holding onto proposal ideas, ring ideas and more for several of my girlfriends that are hoping for a ring soon. This way, when their clueless boyfriends (sorry, no offense) reach out to me, I already have all the information they need. And then some.

4. Budget First.

If you’ve already done the above tips and you’re ready to hit up the Black Friday sales and such, then the last thing to do is to figure out your budget first. Do not walk into these stores with no idea of what you want to, or what you can actually spend. 3 months salary is old news and frankly, it’s not what’s done any more. You want to spend as much as you can afford without going into a mountain of debt. Have that number ready to go when the jeweler asks you what you want to spend or what your budget is. Then based on what you want along with what you can spend, they will let you know what is realistic and what you might have to compromise on.

5. Speaking of Listening…

When you’re ring shopping you need to listen to two things: the jeweler and your gut. Assuming you have gone to a reputable jeweler, it’s important to pay attention to what they are saying because they are the experts. If you give them a budget and a list of “must-haves”, they will be able to tell you what you might have to compromise on, if anything. Perhaps you won’t be able to get that exact carat you (read:she) wants without increasing the budget, or maybe you will have to forgo the platinum for white gold. Whatever it is, listen to the experts. When they are done talking, listen to your gut. Are the words of the jeweler stinging your ears? Does your face tense up when you think of popping the question with the ring that she almost wanted? Don’t let the jeweler tell you something that you need to be convinced about. Remember, they work on commission, but your gut doesn’t.

6. The Compromises.

If you’ve spoken to your soon to be fiance about ring shopping and style (you should if you haven’t), and you have her list of what she wants, then you need to also have her list of what she can do without. Oh, she wants a 4 carat solitaire flanked in platinum? That’s nice. What if you can’t get that for her? Don’t just sit there while she tells you everything she wants and then smile and nod like she can expect even more. You know what that leads to? A crinkled nose covered up with a smile and a strained “oh, how pretty…” as you slip a ring onto her finger that is not what she expected or wanted. Think about it, this woman wants to show off her ring to everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. Hell, some girls get manicures every single week solely because they want the first pictures (straight to Instagram) to include the perfect ring on the perfect hand. It’s important to find out what she can handle not having for the rest of her life, whether that’s less clarity, darker color, a different setting, or whatever.

7. Clarity. Cut. Color. Carat.

The 4 C’s are your bible and odds are, you already know this. While carat is the “c” that most women focus on, you should be focusing on everything in this list. This is an area where you can apply another “c” word: compromise…you know, from number 6 on this list. If you can afford the 4 carat diamond by compromising on the clarity, that might be an option to look into. Frankly, size does matter and carat is the most important word on this list for a reason. Certain cuts are more expensive than others and many cuts are similar to each other. Understand what these four words mean and use that to your advantage when shopping.

8. It’s About Her.

Very often the groom’s style conflicts with the bride’s style. As a wedding planner, I see this happen in everything from deciding on centerpieces to what the wardrobe will be for the wedding party. In most cases, the groom ends up just going along for the ride and throwing in an opinion here and there. While I believe that wedding plans and details should be a joint decision, the ring is all about her. She has to wear it every single day for the rest of her life. So, if you are sitting there and all about some ring that you know would make her vomit, then put it down and just buy her what she wants. This isn’t the time to get cute and creative, especially if you’ve done your homework and know what she wants. Do you know what she wants? Good. Get that.

9. Diamonds are not every girl’s best friend.

Of course diamonds are what most people think of when the topic of engagement rings come up. However, not everyone wants a diamond on their hand. This is, again, why it’s important to have the ring conversation with your bride to be, take her shopping or at the very least, speak with her friends. Diamonds are traditional, but if you’re not with a traditional girl, then she might not want a traditional ring. Thankfully, there are countless options including beautiful gems like sapphires, rubies, emeralds and more. Does this make picking a ring out any easier? No. In fact, you might have more hurdles than you think. Sorry buddy.

10. Insure that thing.

Health insurance might be difficult to come by, but ring insurance is pretty cut and dry. Do not blow this off like you do the extra insurance when renting a car, or that travel insurance when booking airline tickets. This insurance is the insurance that you actually need. There are different ways to get ring insurance, and sometimes it will mean getting your home insurance policy involved. Whatever you have to do though, it doesn’t matter. Just get it done. Don’t sit there and think that nothing is going to happen to that ring when it could be damaged or stolen or simply go missing very easily. When shopping for the ring, ask each jeweler you meet with what insurance they offer. And then buy it.

If you are in the market for an engagement ring, I wish you all the luck in the world. It’s a serious amount of pressure and most likely the most important gift you will ever give your significant other. And once you get the ring, then you have to plan the perfect proposal. Oh, sorry….did you think you were done once the ring was purchased? Consider that your halfway point, and the proposal planning the other half. Because you’re smart and once you follow this guide and she loves the engagement ring, you’ll know to tell her to hire a wedding planner to handle the details going forward, while you sit back, relax and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

 

The Controversial Wedding Date

We’ve blogged in the past about dates to avoid when selecting your wedding weekend. Dates we’re not crazy about include the summer holidays (Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend), Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, etc. But recently, a good friend of mine and a fabulous member of the wedding industry, wrote and asked about a date that I have never touched on: September 11.

This year, September 11 falls on a Friday. September is the most popular month to get married in the Northeast, and it’s quickly gaining popularity around the country. In a wedding world where more couples want to have their event outside, the need for a month without rain is important. September happens to be the driest month over in the NYC-NJ area, so it books up quickly. In fact, we’re completely booked up…except for September 11.

Personally, I would prefer not to plan a wedding for that date. I lost friends that day and it will never be the same. I don’t know that I could separate what happened that day from planning a day where everyone is supposed to be happy. I almost find it disrespectful. I’ve never been asked to plan on that day, and I hope to never be asked.

This friend of mine happens to work at a venue that overlooks the skyline of NYC…the skyline that used to be very different from what it is now. Personally, if I were going to plan a wedding that weekend, I would want to be as far away from downtown NYC as possible. However, her venue, looks right at it. I feel like people that attend a wedding on that date, don’t need that view right in front of them. If you’re going to get married on September 11, it’s probably best to have it as far removed from NYC as possible. Like on a field in the middle of Nebraska.

My friend is asked constantly about this date and if it would be a bad omen to have your wedding on a date when thousands lost their lives. I don’t think it’s a bad omen, but I certainly wouldn’t want to share my anniversary on that day. On the other hand, our friend had a bride book her wedding for that date because she lost a family member in the attacks and it was a way to remember that person and have them “there” at the wedding.

This one is tricky because like the dates listed above, you have to consider your guests. The reason I say to avoid holiday weekends is because your guests don’t want to use their only free time going to a wedding. Likewise, they might not be too thrilled to celebrate on 9-11, especially if they lost someone near to them.

What do you think? Did you get married on 9-11 or are you considering that as your wedding date? This year it’s on a Friday and next year it falls on a Sunday. Two days where you can catch a break on your cost. Would you plan for that day if you found the perfect venue and could only afford it on an “off” day instead of a Saturday?

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on this…

How to Work with a Wedding Planner 101

You’ve decided to hire a wedding planner, congratulations! Hiring a wedding planner is one of the best decisions you can make once that ring is on your finger. Maybe you hired a planner because you’re simply too busy to handle all of the details or you just want to know that you have someone in your corner. Whether you’ve decided to bring one on for “Day Of” Coordination, partial or even full planning, there are some tips you should follow when working with your planner.

1. Listen. Your planner has experience (I hope) in the wedding and event planning industry and knows what they are talking about. It is your planner’s job to steer you down the right path and away from danger. Think of them as the selection you always want to pick in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Option one: ignore the planner, option two: listen to the planner. Know what happens if you pick option one? You get eaten by a dragon/fall off a cliff. It seems so simple, really. You’re investing some of your wedding budget into this planner, so don’t brush off their suggestions. For instance, if you’re hosting a wedding that requires you to bring everything in from tables to chairs to catering and lighting, listen to what your planner has to say. If they recommend that you have one set of chairs for your ceremony and another set for your reception, spend the extra money and do it. If  you don’t, don’t blame your planner that the chairs didn’t get moved in the right amount of time. A good planner will tell you what can and can’t be done, and how to get things done the right way. They aren’t trying to spend more of your money, they are trying to make your day run smoothly.

2. Read What They Send You. There will be countless contracts that go back and forth during the wedding planning process. Each vendor will have a separate contract and those contracts will contain what they are (and aren’t) responsible for. Your planner will read the contracts and even negotiate them, but they will also assume that you are taking the time to read them as well. Planners aren’t mindreaders and they can’t figure out what you did or did not read. For instance, we sent a contract to a client once outlining everything they had selected for their venue, along with all of the costs associated with it. They signed off on it but when it came time to put the deposit down, they screamed that the price was wrong and that they never agreed to it. “It” being the contract that they signed. Planners can’t spoonfeed you everything. Be an adult and read what  you are signing.

3. Read THEIR Contract. Speaking of reading…your planner will present to you a contract which will include what they are responsible for (well, we do, at least). This will be an outline of everything they will be taking care of and what you have contracted them to do. Go over this multiple times and ask tons of questions before you sign. Did you want your planner to be responsible for something that isn’t in their contract? Speak up! Don’t want until your wedding day to ask why certain things aren’t being done, because you may hear “it’s not my job”. As much as I don’t like to make that an answer, there are situations where my team and myself are so busy doing our jobs, that it’s unfair to expect us to do someone else’s. Trust that your planner is doing the best that they can to complete their tasks and if they can pick up someone else’s slack, they will. But know their job.

4. Trust. Hiring a planner is a difficult decision because everyone wants control of their special day. I understand that because I am an OCD control freak and no way was I allowing a planner to do anything for my wedding. If this is you, then don’t hire a planner. Seriously. It’s OK to be like this. Some people just can’t allow anyone else to do anything for them because they know that no one can do it better. I relate and understand. That said, if you hire a planner, you have to trust them. Trust their suggestions, trust their everything. I’m not saying not to question them, by all means, if you have questions, then ask…ask away! But you have to trust that they are there for you and in your corner and that you are their only priority. Personally, I protect my clients and know how much trust it takes. I respect that and do my best to give them the day that they envisioned.

5. Hire Their Vendors. This one is tricky because it will test just how much you trust your planner. Many planners take commission from vendors, which means their recommendations are complete bullshit. I can’t recommend someone I don’t trust and that I wouldn’t work with, and no amount of money will buy my recommendation. So, if I’m recommending a photographer, DJ, officiant, etc. know that it’s because I trust them and would work with them on my own events. While I am more than happy to reach out to new vendors and someone that you suggest, I can’t speak for them and therefore, I can’t guarantee solid service. What sucks about that is that if they screw up, then my company gets blamed. Your DJ ignored your timeline that I put together with him because he was drunk and never did a wedding before in his life? Yup, you’re going to put that on me when really, it wasn’t my fault, wasn’t in my control and it wasn’t my vendor. It’s not our job to jump behind the DJ booth, grab the mic and take over. You hired him, he’s your problem.

6. Be Honest with your Budget. You’ve pinned everything but don’t know what anything costs. Why should you? With thousands of blogs out there telling you that you can have your dream wedding for 4 pennies and a bag of sand, why would you think that it can’t be done? Because it can’t be. Planners know what things cost and that’s why we need to know what you are willing to spend. We’re not judging you, we just need a number. I will assist my clients with their budget and then do the best I can to keep them inside those numbers. Sometimes, it’s not always possible and there are extras that come up, or the vision changes or we need to go slightly over to make something work. It happens. But always be honest with the total amount that you want to spend and let us handle how to break it up.

7. Show up to your Appointments. Planning requires meeting with vendors…a lot of them. We will give our clients countless recommendations until we find the right person to work with them. However, we require that our clients meet with many of these vendors to make sure that they click. If you don’t meet your vendor before your wedding, bad things can and will happen. I had a client never meet her DJ before her wedding, and that DJ flaked on the rehearsal, and was a disaster on the actual wedding day. In fact, all he cared about was getting paid (and I have the countless text messages to prove it). Had she met him before the wedding, maybe she would’ve gotten the bad vibe from him and never hired him in the first place. We know the vendors we are recommending, but we want to make sure that you like them too. I will schedule appointments for my clients, and all they have to do is show up. Never ever cancel last minute (unless someone is dead) and never ever flake. It makes your planner look really bad, and yes, that’s a problem. If you need to cancel, 48 hours notice is best. By the way, that DJ that flaked, was not one of our vendors. Duh.

Those are my top 7 tips for working with a wedding planner. You’re investing in them, so spend your money wisely. Ask questions, read everything, and know that your planner is always on your side and fighting for you.