Category: wedding planning


How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Posted on / by Danielle / in Articles, Farm Wedding, Outdoor Wedding, Videos, wedding invitations, wedding planning, weddings

How To Create Your Wedding Day Guest List

As a wedding planner, I have personally witnessed couples lose their minds so much that eloping sounded like the best idea ever. These meltdows didn’t happen while looking for a venue or the perfect wedding gown though. In fact, that hard stuff is really nothing compared to the endless hours it takes most couples to figure out how to create their wedding day guest list.

Determining a guest list for a wedding is one of the more annoying tasks in life. It’s right up there with filing your taxes and getting your passport renewed. You’d think it would be easy since it’s simply listing people you want to spend time with. But it’s so much more than that.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Timothy Glenn Photography

There are plenty of charts and guides to help you decide which people make the cut, but it’s not just about inviting someone because they invited you to their wedding. Regardless of your invite rules, there will always be exceptions to juggle.  Combine that with the people your parents would like to are making you invite, and pretty soon it’s a three ring circus.

But you can avoid flying through the air without a net by eliminating the guests with toxic behavioral traits. In my most recent YouTube vlog seen here, I talk about these guests, so make sure you check that out. Identifying people you know with these horrible traits (and not inviting them) is how to create your guest list for your wedding day. Sadly, sometimes that won’t be possible…

Below are the 10 types of people not to invite to your wedding, and what to do if they show up anyway (because sometimes that happens):

1. The Thunder Stealer

You probably already know the exact person in your life that would not think twice about making your wedding day about them. These are the guests that think nothing of proposing during your reception or taking a pregnancy test in the bathroom and asking your MC to announce the results. Maybe this doesn’t make your skin crawl, but I personally think it’s tacky and would’ve gone full on linebacker had this happened at my own wedding.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

While it might not be possible to keep this person off the invite list, you should make sure they aren’t in your wedding party. Nothing makes taking the spotlight away easier than standing next to the people who are in it all day. Assuming they are just a guest, make sure it’s known how you feel about those “bouquet and garter tosses turn wedding proposal” videos you’ve seen.

Then take it one step further and instruct whomever controls the microphone to not allow anyone to use it except for those you know about. In advance.

Oh you’re pregnant? Sorry, can’t hear you.

2. The Guest That Wants You To Fix Everything

This helpless soul makes you wonder how they survive getting through the day. Prior to the wedding, they might ask how they should get a hotel room when the block is full. Meanwhile, it’s full because they procrastinated and missed the cutoff date. During the wedding they could expect you to fix everything from an incorrect food order to your sister’s attitude problem.

There are several ways to prevent having to hold this person’s hand while simultaneously planning and/or enjoying (God Forbid) your wedding day. In the instance of a hotel block, make sure that your RSVP date coincides with the date that the hotel rooms will be released. You can read more about how to do that here in my wedding planning timeline blog.

From not securing their hotel room in the block you set up, to expecting you to handle their super specific vegan, gluten-free, no carbs entrée request, there is nothing they will not ask of you. This is why you make sure that they ask someone else. Discuss, in advance, whom is responsible for handling Aunt Sally’s complaints about everything under the sun.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

3. The Photographer

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how wedding guests lose all common sense when it comes to taking pictures at a wedding. I have seen wedding guests turn into Stretch Armstrong and reach across an aisle to take the picture of the couple’s first kiss. Meanwhile, they completely blocked the photographer and now he doesn’t have one of the shots you really wanted.

Thanks Aunt Sally.

It’s impossible to keep these people off your invite list (because it’s everybody), but you can take preventative measures. Consider having an “unplugged” wedding, where guests are asked to not take pictures. If that is too extreme, you should at least do this for your ceremony. You can guide your guests with signage, notes in the program and even announcements made by your officiant and MC.

Most importantly, communicate to your guests that no pictures are to be posted onto social…
This can mean no posting until the reception as long as they use your hashtag, to nothing posted until you get your professional photos back. Guests should respect your wishes here, but they need to know what those wishes are.

4. The Illiterate RSVPer

Somehow, sending back the RSVP card is basically the absolute hardest thing in the world for some people. When you create your guest list, this is a personality that will be tough to avoid. In fact, you probably can already guess which people will fail at RSVPing correctly. Now add 10 more people to that list to even come close to being accurate.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Justin Tinapay Photography

I have seen cards come back without names on them, with additional guests added (up to 5), questions handwritten to the couple and just missing information in general. Everytime I see a response card come back late and/or with missing and/or incorrect information, I am reminded why certain warning labels exist.

Be sure to develop a wedding website where guests can constantly access information and put the web address on your Save The Dates. The invitations should have all of the information needed but be designed in a way that is easy to read. If you’re having a black tie wedding without children, putting that in fine print buried under calligraphy is a great way to get people showing up in jeans with their little ones in tow.

Once you receive the responses, both the late ones and ones missing information, reach out to those people immediately. One week prior to your RSVP date, call every single person that you don’t have a response from yet. You’ll get the inevitable “but the RSVP date isn’t until….” nonsense, but you can’t wait until then to call so just ignore it.

5. The Passive Aggressive Guest

Maybe it’s just me, but nothing makes my head explode more than someone being passive aggressive. I’m a super direct person and it’s challenging to call these people out since their response is frequently “I didn’t mean it like that”.

When you know they did.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

A passive aggressive wedding guest will express themselves during your wedding planning by using words like “interesting” to describe your venue, your dress, your everthing. It’s not a negative comment but it’s also not positive and needs to exit stage left from your guest list.

When they aren’t commenting on how interesting everything is, they are side-stepping you by calling your mom to confide in her about how your lack of a “plus one” option has hurt their feelings. They always make sure to preface everything with “don’t tell” while full knowing that it will be told to you. Which, of course, wasn’t their intention…except it was.

If you can’t leave this person off the guest list, you have two options about how to deal with them. You can choose to appease them in their requests delivered third hand through your mom and just let it roll off your back. However, if you know this will start bothering you, anticipate the behavior and let mom (or whomever) know that you expect them to diffuse the situation and not take it you. It is very important that you have a support system while planning your wedding, so ask for one.

6. The Competitor

Know someone that just got married? Do they consider themselves a wedding expert? Are they always reminding you how fabulous their wedding was? Leave them off your wedding guest list.

Look, it’s fine to look back on your wedding day and how perfect it was. However, recent brides (and even some grooms) can take it to Level 11 by giving you a steady stream of unsolicited advice and then backing it up with evidence from their own flawless wedding day. If you’re able to roll your eyes and laugh with your fiance about this, then just ignore it. If not, you can limit your interaction leading up to the wedding day as well as on the actual day of.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

On the flip side of that is the bride that offers advice to you based on the mistakes she made that she doesn’t want you to make. I’m a big believer in not giving advice unless it’s asked for, so if this scenario bothers you, speak up. You don’t have to be a mean girl about it either, and a simple “thanks, we’re good so far but will let you know if we need anything” will suffice.

When designing your seating chart (a whole separate type of hell), place this person with people she either knows and that can handle her, or with people she doesn’t know at all. If she is with people she doesn’t know, she might think twice about talking about how fabulous her own wedding was while attending yours.

7a. The Guest That Doesn’t Care Where She Sits (Except She Does)

If you haven’t reached the point in your planning where you are designing your seating chart, it’s not possible for you to imagine how tortorous it can be. Somewhat of a juggling act, you’ll have to contend with people that don’t like each other, people that don’t know each other and people that will be offended if they aren’t sitting near you. Those are just three of the hurdles.

A little different than the passive aggressive wedding guest, this person is only concerned about one thing and it’s where she is sitting. Some of my couples have told me stories of guests asking where they would be sitting before the invitations were even sent out. Presumptious much?

Passively, this guest will tell you that it doesn’t matter one bit what table she is located at, but just in case you were curious, here are 40 places she would prefer not to be. Unlike the next example, she will sit where she is told, but best believe you will know she isn’t happy about it. This is also another reason not to have a receiving line aka an assembly line of complaints passed off as concerns by your guests.

It’s always a good idea to leave whiny brats off your guest list in general. If you find yourself contending with one and stuck in a conversation of where an appropriate seat for her would be, how you react will set the tone going forward. If you can brush it off, just do that and go about your business of wedding planning. If you can’t, depending on your relationship, you can either be upfront with how this discussion is stressing you out or you can use sarcasm and suggest a seat on her couch for the evening.

7b. The Guest That Plays Musical Chairs

While the guest mentioned above has a full understanding of sitting where you’re supposed to sit, this guest is YOLO about the situation. On many occassions, I have been approached by guests that when they walk over to me look like they are going into combat. As I hold the seating chart in my hands during the cocktail hour, many want to know where they are sitting, especially if they can’t find their escort cards.

But then there are those guests that aren’t satisfied with the answer. Instead of looking at the escort board or cards on their own, they usually want to see the list I am holding which shows each table and the names of the guests at each one. Typically, I just ask this guest whom they are looking for, tell them the people at their own table and call it a day.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!
Justin Tinapay Photography

Whatever the approach, many guests have asked (rather, told) me to switch their seat. It never matters how hard the couple worked to create the seating chart or that it’s their wedding and their call. It also never seems to matter that this could affect the place settings, the food orders, or anything else. They just need to be moved and never tell me why.

Spoiler alert: I have never moved a guest. Ever.

Do not feel pressured to cave to this guest’s immature and unreasonable request. Should they approach you directly or through someone else, you say nothing more than “I will see what I can do.” Then do nothing. The bottom line is, this guest is an adult and they can find ways to avoid the table unless it’s time for dinner by visiting the dance floor or the bar.

Not your circus, not your monkeys.

8. The Really Bad Gift Giver

I’m probably going to catch a lot of flak for this, but let’s go there anyway.

When you are planning your wedding, part of the floor chart for your reception will include the placement of the gift table. This is typically a small table, anywhere from 30-48” (or if you’re a certain bride of mine, 6 feet and she’s lucky I adore her). On this table, you will place a card box/birdcage for guests to place their cards of well wishes.

Typically, this table is near the cake table and sweetheart table, and there is no room for large packages. However, some people think a card and a check is just unacceptable and that you would much prefer a hand cut, 450 pound, crystal Waterford vase that looks like something in your grandmother’s house that she got at her wedding. This box will also come wrapped in really tacky and usually reflective wrapping paper.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

Being that the gift table is only available during the reception (usually), there is no opportunity for guests to drop their cards until that time. This means they will carry it with them during the ceremony and the cocktail hour. Envelopes fit easily inside purses and suit pockets. Not so much in the case of the vase that you don’t need.

To avoid watching Aunt Betty (because let’s give Sally a break) walk around with a package that seems so heavy her hips might break, hide all of your wedding registries the day of your bridal shower.

Guests sometimes refer to these registries when they want to actually give you something and when they see they no longer exist one of two things will happen:

  1. They ask your mom (sorry moms) what happened and what to get you. Prepare mom to say something like “they’re all set really/honestly a check will be just fine.” Be prepared to say the exact same thing should you be asked directly. You might still get a gift, but at least you tried to avoid it and hopefully the receipt is included.

Or

  1. They shrug their shoulders and just go the check in card route.

Of course, there is also the option of having a registry for your honeymoon through sites like Honeyfund where guests can purchase excursions and such for you in advance. If you think your guest list is chock full of people that have to buy something because a check is so not personal (like my mother), consider setting up something like this so that everyone’s happy.

9. The Financial Analyst

Weddings are expensive and even though people never like to talk about money, that awkwardness about the subject seems to vaporize when people want to know what you spent on the big day. Whether it’s a direct question or beating around the bush, you will likely have a guest or two want to know what everything cost.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

Now, to be fair, many wedding guests want to know what you spent per plate so that they can cover that cost in their gift/check in card. However, with some venues starting at the $200 per person plus plus mark, it’s not likely that information will help as I know of few wedding guests cutting $400 and $500 checks.

For whatever reason, you will be seen as rude if you don’t answer “how much were these flowers?”. There isn’t one good reason to give an answer and you wouldn’t believe how offended some guests get when they found out what you spent. I mean, no one is questioning the amount of money Aunt Sally is spending on her sterling silver collection, so…

Dance around these questions with non-answers. If you’re still planning, then just say that the final bill hasn’t come out yet. Follow it up with a playful, “Why? Do you want to cover it?” That should shut it down moving forward.

When the questions come past the point of knowing what everything costs, say anything but a number. Phrases like “we got such a good deal”, “so much less than we thought” and “I can’t even remember anymore” are good pacifiers. But never ever give a number and remind yourself that it is inappropriate for anyone to ask in the first place.

10. The Drunk

It happens. It’s a wedding. Weddings have open bars (the good ones at least). You can’t keep this person off your guest list, but you can keep the wedding going without being kicked out. Assuming this drunk or the drunks are friendly and not bitter angry drunks that want to smash centerpieces, here are a few preventative measures to take:

  1. Give a head’s up about guests you’re worried about to your venue, the catering staff and anyone handling liquor such as the bartenders. Make sure you understand the shot policy and that they have the right to cut people off, and make sure they know you would like that strongly enforced.
  2. If there isn’t a “no shot” policy, make it one
  3. Don’t service any alcohol prior to your ceremony.
  4. Keep these people out of your wedding party if possible.
  5. Have a strict list of people that are allowed to use the microphone and give a copy to your MC, wedding planner and venue coordinator. No toasts unless you’re on the list.
  6. Ask a few people close to you to keep an eye on anyone you’re worried about and if they see things getting out of control to speak to the coordinators about how to handle the situation.

Designing your guest list can be a nightmare and should be one of the first items on your to-do list. If there are guests you are on the fence about, push them onto a B list or off the list completely. A great group of guests can make or break a wedding day and there are no do-overs. It’s perfectly fine to be cut-throat when making final guest list decisions.

How to decide whom to invite to your wedding and which guests should be left off the list. Click to read the tips and tricks and see the vlog where I discuss the 10 worst people to ever invite to your wedding!

But if you can’t remove everyone you want to, now at least you’ll be able to handle them.

What guests are you worried about attending your wedding? Is there a type that I missed and you want to warn other couples? Need more advice? Leave me a comment and share your stories below!

 

 

When to book your venue and vendors while planning your wedding. All you need to know whether your wedding is in 2 minutes, 2 months or 2 years. Pin now to read later!
Posted on / by Danielle / in affordable wedding tips, Farm Wedding, Outdoor Wedding, wedding planning, weddings

The Rest of the Real Wedding Planning Checklist

Welcome to the rest of the real wedding planning checklist. If you missed the first part, make sure you read this first!

In Part 1, I talked about some bigger items like selecting your wedding venue and hiring your photographer, band and of course, wedding planner. In this part of the blog, I will finish off the rest of the wedding planning checklist and tell you when to book everything from lighting to restroom trailers.

Lighting and Other Décor

What your lighting will look like will depend on what your venue offers. If you’re working with a venue with an in-house lighting designer, then their availability is less of a priority than if you were to bring an outside vendor in. That said, as a designer, I like to handle all of the aesthetic components at the same time since they all work together. This means lighting is done on the earlier side.

If you’re looking for basic lighting features like wall washes and monograms and you’ve booked a DJ, there’s a strong possibility that they can handle those features. However, if you’re looking for things like pin-spots and hung lights, then a lighting designer is essential.

How to create your wedding planning checklist whether you're getting married in 2 minutes, 2 months or 2 years! Pin now and read later!

Good lighting designers can be few and far between, so if you have the time, start your outreach 5-7 months prior to your wedding date. Pressed for time but lighting is a priority? Before selecting venues to tour, be sure to find out exactly what they offer and definitely what they allow. Give priority to venues with in house lighting designers in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

Other décor like furniture rentals, linens and signage can frequently be combined with your other vendors’ services. Check with your florist for their rental list and your stationery designer for signage. Bonus: the more you book with one vendor, the better that vendor can do on their price.

Officiant

I am always majorly surprised when a couple contacts me for full service and they haven’t considered something very important: the person performing the ceremony. If you’re not getting married in a religious house, you will need an officiant to make the marriage, you know, legal.

Depending on the state you’re in, a friend and/or family member might not be able to perform this service. Truth be told that’s not always a good idea anyway, but I digress…

Since it is impossible to be in two places at the same time, officiants, especially the good ones, book up a year or two (nope, not a typo) in advance. Along with wedding gown and venue, I always make securing a wedding officiant a major priority. If you’ve got the 12 months, then use them and if you’ve got more, use those too.

But if you’re working with much less, use whatever you have. To speed up the process, ask for recommendations from your married friends and family, get on google, talk to your venue about their vendors…basically do whatever you have to do and get this done.

This can be time consuming because yes, you will actually need to meet with these people. A skype or phone call won’t cut it here and officiants tend to be busy on weekends with…wait for it…weddings. If possible, block out a weekday and meet with a handful all on the same day. To narrow your choices down, look for or ask for videos of the officiants presiding over weddings so you can see them in action.

Wedding Wardrobe for Everyone Else

Bridesmaids and groomsmen all need stuff to wear and let’s not forget the groom and sometimes parents that are looking for assistance. Just like stationery, this timing will depend on what you’re looking for and just like a wedding gown, timing depends on designers.Not sure when to tell your girls to buy their bridesmaid dresses or when the groomsmen should get their tuxes? Read now and pin later this ultimate wedding planning checklist.

I personally believe and always suggest that my brides have at least an idea of what they want their bridesmaids to wear before I set up any appointments. To save time, look into stores that have similar styles to what you want and only make appointments with them. It should also come as no surprise that weekends book up first and if you can handle this on a weekday, you’re likely to get an appointment much quicker.

The bridesmaid wardrobe process should start much earlier than you think or have been told. Got 9-10 months before your wedding? That’s perfect as some designers take 9 months to get their dresses in. Most other designers will take at least 6 months and a select few will take less. But unlike your wedding gown, you can’t grab samples of these because you likely need more than one.

If you don’t have the time, treat this like your wedding gown shopping and talk to stores in advance about what they have and how long everything takes to come in. Be transparent about the time you’re working with and visit stores with the best and most options. To really cut down on time, go to the stores to select the gown or gowns yourself and then leave it to your bridesmaids to only deal with getting measured instead of giving opinions.

For the boys, your options are renting or owning (sucks to be a bridesmaid…for now…subscribe to my YouTube Channel to find out more) and less time isn’t always a bad thing. The more traditional you’re going, i.e. black tuxes all around, the easier and less time consuming this will be. A word of caution in regard to timing and tux rentals: prom season is going to get in your way and you’ll have to factor that 1-2 month period into your planning timeline.

Should you not be going down the black tuxedo route, there’s a chance that you’ll need custom suits. If you want anything from what you think is a gray tuxedo or a blue tuxedo, or any other color, then you actually are looking for a suit. For more about that, be sure to check out my YouTube video discussing the difference between tuxedos and suits.

Custom suits require a 4 month window of time, so if you have that, you’re golden. You don’t necessarily need more than that for rentals, but if your groomsmen are spread out geographically, the more time you can give, the better. Typically, this isn’t an area of concern even with shorter engagements, but a common mistake I see here is couples leaving it as one of the last things to do.

Transportation

When to book your limos, shuttles and all transportation for your wedding day!

Limos, shuttles, party buses and magic carpets should be booked 8 months prior to your wedding or earlier if possible. Just like tuxedo rentals, prom season severely affects the availability of transportation companies. You don’t want to use multiple companies (seriously, do not do this) so it’s important to get this done early on so that you have choices.

Less than 8 months to check this off your list? You’ll likely be doing multiple vendor bookings at the same time, so add this one to the list. Save yourself some time by figuring out exactly what you need, for how long and from where to where. Consider how you and your fiancé will be traveling, as well as your wedding party and any immediate family including parents and grandparents.

If you want to provide transportation for your guests, booking shuttles is the way to go. These vehicles vary from 14 passenger vans to 55 passenger buses and should be booked early with the rest of the vehicles. Before you commit to transportation for your guests from a separate company, you should talk to your hotel block about their options. Speaking of which…

Hotel Blocks

9 times out of 10, and I actually think it’s more like 10 times out of 10, I set up hotel blocks for my couples. This might seem like something that can be done quickly, but take my word that it can be fairly complicated.

Because I like to handle transportation 9-10 months prior to the wedding and some of the transportation will be affected by a hotel block, I do these at the same time. I give automatic priority to hotels that offer shuttle service in house and that don’t have a financial obligation.

Unfortunately, both of these things have become close to extinct which only means you will need more time to find these dinosaurs in the first place.

If you’re not looking to shuttle your guests on the wedding day and you have only a few months to plan, typically 4-5 months out will be good enough to set up a block. It’s important to note that most blocks expire a full month before your wedding though. If you’re getting married around the holidays or other “hotel worthy” dates like Valentine’s Day, President’s Day Weekend, etc. then set up your block as soon as possible.

I mentioned that setting up a hotel block isn’t as easy as it seems and besides not being easy, it tends to be frustrating. Your time will be consumed with finding out the policy of each hotel and if you want to actually speak with someone there, good luck as they all hold typical 9-5, Monday through Friday hours.

A great way to save time and avoid a massive headache that will turn any normal bride into a zilla, is to use a service that does it for you. There are plenty available out there, but when I’m not handling the blocks myself, I like to use “Where Will The Stay?”. You can hear more about them and what they can do on my favorites segment here! Oh, and it’s free.

Hair and Make-Up

It probably feels like I am suggesting to do everything immediately if you’re getting married in less than a year. If it doesn’t feel that way yet, it’s about to.

When to hire your hair stylist and make up artist for your wedding day.

Hair and Make-Up services are something I try to book 6-8 months out if the couple has the time. Stylists book up quickly and are majorly affected by peak wedding season. Ideally, you’ll be hiring a company that will bring multiple hair and make-up stylists on the day of the wedding for the bride, bridesmaids and anyone else who needs it.

It’s important to leave time for a trial which you can have before booking or after…though I typically recommend before. Trials are another one of those “weekdays are better” things since stylists are busy with weddings and working in general on the weekends.

With limited time, consider hiring someone you have worked with before and see if they are able to put a team together. I would also recommend asking your photographer if they recommend anyone since it’s not a horrible idea to book these two vendors at the same time.

The Other Stuff You Didn’t Think Of (But I Did Because It’s My Job)

Everything I have discussed so far covers the basics that every wedding day needs. But what about those weddings that take place at venues with in-house nothing or just in-house a few things? What do you book when?

Outside Food and Beverage

If you’re dreaming of a “grow your own venue” deal where you get to bring in an outside caterer, then get ready to plan this 9-12+ months out. This falls in line with when you would book a venue since many venues include food as one of those essential things. Plus, when you bring in this outside service, you might need things to put the food on like plates and silverware and glassware is always nice to offer your guests.

More than 12 months to plan or at least 9 months and you’re in a good position to have choices available. Wrenches will get thrown into your planning timeline here around the holidays when caterers are super busy and wedding season can be a tough time to pin them down as well. You should consider that when deciding when to start the search.

When to book your wedding venue and everything else when wedding planning. Pin now and read later.

In general, I would recommend to couples with limited time to use a venue with as much stuff included as possible. But the heart wants what it wants right? Put this at the top of your list of things to do regardless and save time by asking for referrals from the venue you book as well as from friends and family.

Get on the same page with your fiancé in regard to type of food and style (sit down, buffet, etc.) that you want before making any phone calls. Liquor laws vary from state to state, so make sure you know if BYOB is an option or if your caterer will have to provide the liquor and only talk to caterers that can handle playing by the rules. To save even more time, work with caterers that will handle bringing in tables, chairs, linens and all of the basics so you don’t have to rent anything.

Restroom Trailers

Barns and farms are great (they are, don’t be a hater) but very few have indoor plumbing which means bringing in restroom trailers. These should be booked at least 5-6 months out, so a short engagement doesn’t usually pose a problem here. When searching for venues, find out whom they recommend (they should absolutely be able to tell you this) and what their electrical and water hook-ups are like. The trailer companies will need this information to give you pricing and let you know if they can even handle the venue’s property.

Cigar Rollers, Photobooths, and Other Fun Vendors

Novelty vendors such as these are a dime a dozen, though the best are frequently booked up in advance. Many of my couples don’t decide that they want vendors from the “fun” category until we’re within 6 months or so of their wedding. By that time, it comes down to having some extra money in the budget or suddenly realizing they always wanted something. I’ve never had an issue booking that close to the wedding date, so don’t panic if you’re tight on time.

Honeymoon

Saving the best for last, I always recommend a travel agency for my couples to work with for their honeymoon needs. Of course, I am able to make recommendations, but for truly personal attention and to save time, working with a travel agency is the best way to go.

I don’t handle this until about 6 or 7 months prior to the wedding date, but if I’m able to, I will get it done earlier. Travel agents frequently have conferences throughout the year and if they are away, they won’t be able to get back to you quickly. Put together a wish list of places if possible and find an agency that has specialists.

If you’re not working with a travel agent or if you’re going to honeymoon during a popular vacation time such as spring break or the holidays, start the process 7 months out. Not possible? Consider having flexible travel dates if you can and try to give yourself a minimum of 4 months before the wedding date.

Another option and one than many of my couples explore, is taking the honeymoon a few months past the wedding date. This gives them and can give you extra time to pull this all together either with an agency or on your own.

Wrapping Up

When to book everything when planning your wedding. The ultimate guide for engaged couples. Pin now and read later!

I know there are countless wedding planning timelines available to you and many come in a pretty printable template too. But wedding planning isn’t easy, which you may already be finding out. There are times of the year to always be aware of and in general, the more time you have, the better.

Unlike all of the timelines out there, I am completely aware that no two engagements are the same and 12 month timelines doesn’t always exist for everyone. You can’t book your venue 9-12 months out with less than 6 months to plan. I hope my wedding planner secrets gave you ideas on how to increase the time you do have instead of working with the time you don’t.

Are you planning a wedding with less than a year to get it all done? What advice do you have for other couples with short engagements? Share what you’ve done or what you wish you had done differently in the comments section below!

 

Posted on / by Danielle / in Farm Wedding, Outdoor Wedding, wedding planning, weddings

Those Wedding Planning Checklists and Why They Suck

Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!
Justin Tinapay Photography

If you’re engaged, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably visited a wedding website or 50 and come across their version of a wedding planning checklist. What you don’t know is why those wedding planning checklists totally suck.

You know the type of checklists I’m talking about: what to do first through what to do last and when to do it. They all start the same way telling you to get that gown and venue somewhere between 9 and 12 months before your actual wedding date.

But what happens when you have a 6 month long engagement?

How can you secure your wedding venue and your wedding gown 12 months before your wedding when your wedding is only 6 months away?

It’s basic wedding math.

Actually, no, it’s just basic math. Because 12 is bigger than 6 and that’s just 1 reason why those wedding planning checklists suck for 2 people getting married.

And I’m going to tell you all the other reasons these checklists suck in this blog. So get ready to delete those sites you’ve bookmarked and remove all of those planning checklist pins. This is what you really need. Straight up, no chaser.

To make this easy to apply to any wedding, I have listed some basic wedding planning “to-do” items and when to do what. I am also sharing my secrets that you might never have thought about. Because, yes, despite what those self-proclaimed number one wedding websites say, it actually does matter when you get married.

Disclaimer: I am already going to assume that everyone reading this knows that figuring out your budget is the first step to any wedding planning ever. Know your numbers before you do anything.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Those Standard 12 Month Out To-Do Items

The Wedding Gown

Picking out the dress is almost always done first when planning a wedding. Of course, this is primarily because it’s basically shopping. However, it’s shopping for the most important piece of wardrobe you will likely ever own. Getting the gown makes the engagement feel “real” for many brides.

Ideally you should purchase the gown a full year prior to your wedding date. Many designers will need upwards of 9 months to create and send the gown to the store. Then you have to account for any time needed for alterations. Personally, I like to add in extra time in the off chance that my bride either has buyer’s remorse or something goes wrong with the order.

Something frequently ignored by these wedding timelines is the very real time it takes to actually get things done. In this case, it’s important to consider the time it takes to actually find that gown. I mean, if it takes over 20 years to find the groom, then it’s not going to take 20 seconds to find the dress you want to wear when you marry him.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

There are so many moving parts to consider when figuring out how much time you will need to shop for your wedding gown. First and foremost, weekend appointments book up quickly, and it can take up to a month to secure a date. You also have to consider the schedules of anyone you want to have with you when you shop. Lastly, if you think you’ll need multiple shops to visit, you’ll also need multiple days for said appointments.

These are just some of the reasons why the wedding gown should be ordered one year in advance. Obviously, that isn’t always possible if your engagement is shorter than 12 months.

It’s not hopeless if you’re engaged in January and getting married in June though. You should make finding your gown one of your three first priorities (the second one is next), but you don’t necessarily need a full year. Here are a few wedding planner secrets:

Purchase a sample or “off the rack”

When you go to try on wedding gowns, every gown you try on is considered a sample or “off the rack”. Many times these gowns will be available for purchase at a reduced cost. The three things every bride should be aware of are:

  1. These gowns are sample size i.e. 10-12 dress which translates to 6-8 real size. It’s a lot easier to shorten a gown and make it smaller than it is to add length and let it out. It’s also less expensive.
  2. Sample sales are typically final, so if you aren’t in love with it, don’t buy it.
  3. Since these gowns have been tried on, there will be imperfections and not all of those imperfections will be fixable. Sometimes this will be as minor as a hem needing to be re-stitched and other times it’s major like missing beading.

Set up your appointments on a weekday if possible or a weeknight as a second option.

I’ve already mentioned this, but weekend appointments are hard to come by since people, you know…have jobs. If you’re in a rush to say “yes to the dress”, a weekday appointment will be available sooner and you’ll likely not be rushed through the appointment and able to try on even more gowns.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Bring only 1 other person with you

I am 110% against entourages when shopping for any wedding wardrobe, but especially when looking for a wedding gown. Your bridesmaids aren’t “like that”…until they are. Opinions always fly and all they do is take up time during the appointment and delay your ability to make a decision. You also have to work around their schedules and pray you can find time when you’re all available. If you really need your crew (which many bridal salons don’t allow FYI) then bring them to show them what you’ve already chosen.

Look for designers that can turn a dress around quicker than average

Not every designer needs 9 months to deliver a wedding gown. Before you crack out on Pinterest and need to have a dress by a certain designer, find out what designers are available at your local salon and when their gowns come in by. Hint: Pronovias frequently can turn around a dress in under 6 months and I’ve also had luck with Moonlight Bridal.

Speak to the wedding salons about rush orders

If you’re really in a bind or fall in love with a designer that takes longer than you have, speak with the salons about paying to rush your order. Sometimes this can buy you as much as a month, but coupled with buying from a designer that’s quicker than the rest, you might be good to go.

Go vintage

Just like buying a sample, you can go the vintage route and pick up a pre-worn gown. I do not, like really do not, advocate buying your wedding gown online. However, you can find some really beautiful vintage wedding gowns at reputable small stores. In fact, there are stores literally dedicated to selling vintage gowns. If you’re wedding is incorporating this hot-never-going-to-die trend, then look around for a shop like this.

Attend trunk shows

Trunk shows are great for two reasons. The first reason is that you can get anywhere from 10-20% off of the gown’s full price. The second reason is that you can see an entire collection from a designer as opposed to the 3-10 pieces the salon currently has. This is perfect for the bride that wants a specific designer’s wedding gown as it takes away the need to bounce from store to store looking at options.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Your Wedding Venue

The second major priority when planning a wedding is finding the venue.

Duh.

Sometimes, 12 months isn’t enough time to get this done though. With wedding season spanning the months between May-November and peaking in September and October, your dream venue might be booked up to two years in advance. I cannot tell you how many couples I have worked with that had to make the decision whether or not to extend the length of their engagement solely to get their venue of choice.

If that’s not an option for you, then it’s best to be flexible with your venue choices. Not just normal flexible either. More like Gumbi flexible.

The venue is also going to set your wedding date. I know, you thought you had control over that one didn’t you?

Believe me, most couples contact me with a wedding date picked out and don’t have a venue locked down yet. Then they have to decide if they want to see venues that aren’t available on their “date” or if they are open to that date solely representing the time of year they want to be married.

Because the venue essentially sets your date, you should always venue shop and venue book before going dress shopping.

When you make appointments to go try on wedding gowns, the first question they will ask you (besides budget) is your wedding date. Don’t make the mistake of giving them a date you’ve selected, only to purchase a wedding gown and then have to scramble when the venue you want isn’t available for that date. You might find yourself needing a second gown (like a sample) because the first one isn’t coming in on time if you end up booking a venue for an earlier date than your original date.

You know…the date that wasn’t real because you didn’t have a venue yet…

If you have over a year to plan, don’t sleep on getting the venue. Just like it takes time to shop for wedding gowns, you will need all the time you can get to find a venue. Odds are, you will need to coordinate schedules with your fiancé and possibly both sets of parents. Weekend appointments book up first and some venues won’t tour if a wedding is taking place on the same day.

All of that adds up to needing a ton of time to find the venue for your wedding day. Of course, if you can schedule tours on weekdays and look at venues that are in close proximity, you’ll need less time than normal.

Also helpful is to do as much research on these venues before committing to an appointment. It’s not always possible to get pricing from a venue without setting an appointment. In fact, one of the many reasons to hire a wedding planner is that we tend to have that information already or we can get it without much struggle.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Wedding Planner

Before you do anything past establishing your overall budget, if you’re going to hire a wedding planner, that is your Step 1 in the planning process. So, if you have 1 month or 1 year, do this before the rest of the tasks. A few reasons why:

Reputable and professional wedding planners book up to if not over a year in advance, especially for peak wedding season dates. Many planners, myself included, will not take on more than one wedding or event per weekend.

Hiring a planner for full service means they can do all of the work for you including finding the perfect venue and vendors. That’s right, you basically just have to tell them what you want and just like magic, options will appear.

A full time planner can speak with venues and vendors at the hours that you can’t. You know, like 2pm on a Tuesday. This means that more planning gets done in a shorter amount of time because planners have the same hours as venues and vendors. No back and forth voicemails and emails needed here.

If you’re only looking for someone to handle “Month Of” Coordination, many planners will not book that package until you’re under the 6 month mark. To be blunt, most planners would rather hold out for a last minute full service client than to lock up a weekend with a smaller package. The good part here is if you are a couple with a short engagement only looking for this type of help, you could easily have some solid options to choose from.

All that said, the number one way to get your checklist all checked off? A professional wedding planner…as soon as possible and before anything else.

The Big Ticket Vendors: Photo/Video, Music and Florals

Photo and Video

Always listed on wedding planning checklists around the 6-8 month mark are your photographer, videographer, music and florist. On average, most couples will have at least 6 months to plan. However, just because they have 6 months, doesn’t mean getting these vendors booked will always happen at that time. Remember how venue and gown come first?Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Many photographers and videographers will only be available for one wedding per day unless they work like an agency. It’s very important to meet these people before hiring them. I know, you totally do not have time to do this, right?

Make time.

Invent it if you need to.

Your photo and video team will be with you almost the entire day of your wedding. If you’re not comfortable with them, it will show in those photos and videos you get back. There are no do-overs and it’s not enough to just love the work or the product.

In addition to meeting/interviewing these people, I always recommend an engagement session with your photographer because that’s basically practice for the real thing. The real thing being your wedding day.

As a planner, I like to book photo and video 9 months to one year in advance. I know, that’s totally not what the internet tells you to do, right? Silly them…

If you plan to do an engagement shoot (I mentioned you should and I meant it), odds are your photographer will have more availability on a weekday. Since weekdays are a problem for many couples, then you will need a weekend and guess what tends to be a problem for wedding photographers?

You guessed it: weekends.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

This means that you could be waiting months to take your engagement photos and if you want them outdoors, you’ll have to leave time for rescheduling in case it rains. You also won’t be able to shoot outdoor photos for a handful of months if you live in a state where winter exists. Pretty soon you’re taking your engagement photos 1 month prior to your wedding and that is no bueno.

If you have longer than one year, start this process at the 9 month to one year mark. This is especially important if you are getting married during peak season since you might get a lot of “sorry, already booked” responses. If you are pressed for time, then shop for both photo and video simultaneously (a general rule of thumb anyway) and line up appointments via Skype if that’s the only way you can schedule a weekday.

Music

It doesn’t matter if you have a band, DJ or both, sometimes 6-8 months isn’t enough time to book. Like the other vendors that you will need at your wedding, many bands and DJs book up peak season 9-12 months in advance. If you want something specific, such as an electric violinist or a DJ that can provide live musicians to accompany his music, then I recommend shopping 7-9 months prior to your wedding date.

While I know many people (and many planners) will probably disagree with me here, I am going to say that seeing these people in person is essential. If you want a live band, there is no better way to hear what they really sound like than to attend an in person showcase. Sometimes, there will only be showcases available once a month or every other month. If you’re not available on the one date they have, then you’ll be forced to wait until the next one.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

If you’re going with a DJ, an in person meeting or interview isn’t mandatory but I wouldn’t recommend booking without a least a Skype or phone call. Any DJ worth hiring will be passionate about music and even more passionate about selecting the right music for your wedding. It’s equally important to know how the DJ works and to make sure the way they work is in line with what you imagine for your wedding.

For the couples with shorter engagements, it’s a good idea to get a hold of videos of past performances of bands and DJs. Showcases might not always be possible and you might not have the time to sit down and interview DJs. However, even if it’s 11pm at night, you should make the time to watch and listen to any recordings the music vendors can provide to you. Also consider looking into any bands or DJs you heard at weddings you attended and fell in love with.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Florists

As a wedding planner, I insist that my clients meet florists that I recommend before signing a contract. While it doesn’t matter so much that you’re vibing on a personal level, it is important to know that they understand what you want. It’s just as important that you are confident in their ability to create it.

You will never get that from an email exchange. Period.

However, most florists will only be available to meet on weekdays, which can make setting anything up totally impossible. If you don’t have 7-9 months before your wedding date (which is when I recommend securing a florist), then doing your homework prior to a meeting or in place of one is essential.

Before you go sending your 597 pins of centerpiece inspiration out to every florist within a 50 mile radius of your venue, narrow those pictures down. Way down. It’s more important for a florist to know your colors and the feel of your wedding. It’s less important for them to know the exact height you picture for each centerpiece and how if you don’t have peonies you’ll throw yourself off a bridge.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Another way to save time is to look at websites of florists and see if their work is similar to what your style is. If you find yourself drooling over a website but don’t see your style displayed, you can reach out to the florist and ask them for additional examples.

For instance, if you have a vision of greenery suspended from a tent, but don’t see it on a florist’s website, there is no harm in asking if they have done that before and if they have, could they share pictures. If you’re tight on time and having trouble choosing between florists, consider paying for a sample centerpiece to help make your decision easier.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? There’s a lot to this wedding planning stuff and knowing when to do everything can be a lot to digest. In order to avoid throwing anyone into a meltdown and running off to elope, I’ll continue the rest of this timeline in the next blog.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so you’ll know when to come back for the rest of the to-do list and when you want to get started on those items. In the meantime, share below if you’re on the fast track to the wedding day and what you’re doing to check stuff off your list!

Boho chic greenery framing the wedding ceremony as the perfect backdrop
Posted on / by Danielle / in Farm Wedding, Greenery, Outdoor Wedding, Pantone, wedding planning, weddings

Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year and Ways to Use it in Your Wedding

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, I was pumped. Seriously, I was like way excited. Maybe it was because the past few years I have been less than thrilled with the selection. Maybe it was because I loved using that color and already had ideas.

Or maybe it was because I placed a bet in October on what the color would be and won.

Whatever the reason, I was (and am) super happy that Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is “greenery”. Yes, that is a color and you can read all about it on Pantone’s official website right here.

Greenery: New Year, New Beginnings

Greenery symbolizes new beginnings in the same way the green leaves in spring time do. I love using green in wedding and event designs because there is so much you can do. 

There is a greenery for every bride and all styles of weddings.
In fact, it’s more than just a color. It’s a feeling.

In this blog I am sharing a few ways I have used Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year in the hopes to inspire you for your wedding day. Don’t forget to pin the photos you love the most and comment the ways you’ll incorporate Pantone 2017 Color of the Year!

Boho chic greenery framing the wedding ceremony as the perfect backdropBoho Chic Ceremony Backdrop

Everyone’s seen Fern Gully right? Am I like super old and weird right now? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Fern Gully was a movie that took place in the rainforest. It was about deforestation and other depressing stuff, but the colors were bold and magical and (spoiler alert) the main characters lived happily ever after.

The whole wedding design from the beautiful colors to the heavy amount of natural greens we used reminded me of those beautiful colors from Fern Gully. The bride had a vision of hanging greens for the ceremony backdrop, and our florist created the best frame for their first married kiss.

These greens were a mix of bright and deep shades not unlike the leaves in spring that inspired Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. Putting aside the pinks, reds and oranges that made up the rest of the wedding colors and just using green for the ceremony made the space feel more intimate. There were no distractions and when the bride and groom became man and wife, it was a serene and beautiful moment.

Soft green garland wrapped around the banister for this farm wedding was made even more romantic with the addition of soft greens and pinksSoft Green Garland and Banisters

If it hasn’t become obvious yet, I am a big fan of greenery used as garland. Don’t get my wrong, I love green as a color, but my favorite way to make it work for almost any wedding is to keep it as a backdrop. That doesn’t mean it has to literally hang in the back, but more so that it supports the rest of the design.

This farm location had a barn on site and whenever I see a banister, I feel compelled to dress it up. I totally blame “Father of the Bride” for this unhealthy obsession I have.

Soft and romantic, the green garland we used here was draped around the spiral banister from top to bottom. Like the ceremony site above, it was important to create a look as if the greenery just appeared there, naturally. As if it sprouted from the iron banister magically because that’s what Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year does. The final touch here was to incorporate the other wedding flowers, so we pinned everything together with some pink roses and dusty miller.

Romantic and elegant mantle design with greenery and pops of red, blue, purple and white

Mantle Greenery Goodness

Much like a banister, if there is a mantle at a wedding location, you will find me adding “we woke up like this” style florals to it. Mantles are more than shelves for photos and many are ceremony backdrops. As a designer, I like to incorporate the design into every corner of the space, and this is a big corner.

There are countless ways to dress up a mantle at your wedding, but it’s hard to do without greenery. This picture is from a wedding venue with multiple mantles. In fact, you can see all the gorgeous details here. Each mantle was different, but they all used the greenery found in the centerpieces to tie the look together. My favorites here were the hanging amaranthus and the eucalyptus because they added dimension to the piece and still looked formal.

Long Tables With Greenery

Chic long table we designed for The Knot Market Mixer complete with greenery runner details and gold candle holders We all know that long tables are a hot trend and they have been for a few years now. These gorgeous farmhouse tables can cost a pretty penny if your venue doesn’t already have them included. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on these without robbing a bank (seriously, they ain’t cheap), then greenery garland is a must.

This table was part of our design for The Knot Market Mixer last Fall. My favorite part about designing this event is being able to create whatever I’m dreaming of. In other words, I got to do what I wanted and what designer doesn’t love that?

I wanted to create a warm and inviting tablescape and have greenery be the base of the design. Working with my florist, the garland worked as an anchor for the rest of the flowers and draped down to the floor. I’d recommend using greenery like this to any bride worried that her guests won’t see over tall centerpieces.

Speaking of Tall Centerpieces…

The garden where this wedding took place was the inspiration for the greenery found in the centerpieces. Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is all about spring and clean starts, and this centerpiece is just that.

Besides the obvious greenery pieces (you know, the green leaves), there are more subtle ones as well. While the only two colors used were white and green, that didn’t mean green leaves and white flowers only. A popular flower for centerpieces (but not for bouquets so don’t please) is hydrangea. Hydrangea comes in a bunch of colors including white and…wait for it…green!

The clean look of the clear glass vase and candleholders with the greenery and white made this garden wedding the picture of spring….even if it took place in the summer.

Lasercut signage hung from the ceiling and framed by greenery to celebrate Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year!Don’t Forget the Ceiling!

So, like, let’s all take a minute to recognize that not every piece of wedding décor is going to be at eye level. It doesn’t need to be at eye level and in fact, eye levels are different. Not that you’re inviting a bunch of NBA players to your wedding (or maybe you are and I should be planning it…) but creating designs from the floor to the ceiling makes an impact.

Signage is a huge trend and it’s not just limited to chalkboard and aisles. This lasercut sign is from our event with The Knot and is hung from fishing line. Really strong could rope in Jaws, fishing line. If you’re not onto how I work just yet, I like to make my designs appear organic. This is probably another reason why I am in love with Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. For this sign (and three others), I worked with my florist and asked them to drape greenery in a deconstructed way. I mean, it totally looks like the sign grew out of the ceiling. Score!

Floral Wall using Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year: GreeneryWedding Walls and Backdrops

The floral wall is something that is popping up all over Pinterest, and we worked with Once Wed Walls to create this one for The Knot Market Mixer. Since I have been obsessed with greenery long before it was the Pantone 2017 Color of the Year, I wanted one using green as the base. The top was covered in more greenery and pops of pinks, oranges and cream flowers to match the rest of the room.

These walls are, bottom line, really awesome. It was a natural backdrop for photos all night and everyone was talking about it. A great alternative to a blank photobooth backdrop (or a photobooth in general) is using one of these walls. Since this can be a custom piece, the wall can be made to fit like a backdrop for people and as small as a backdrop for your wedding cake. If you’re on the greenery bandwagon with me (though I’ve been driving it since like 2007), you can keep a natural look using boxwood like this.

A romantic farm wedding where we used greenery to drape around one of their beautiful horses with the brideGot Horse?

Oh those farm and barn weddings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Why should they? They totally rock. If you’ve followed my work at all, you know that I’m a big fan of non-traditional weddings.

Give me a mountain top and a fluffy white ballgown and I'm in.

If you’re the bride that runs from basic bling and marble floors as fast as I do, then you’re probably considering a farm for your wedding location. Mega points to you for not being lame! More points if you find a farm with animals.

This final way to use Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year (though there are plenty more) involves a horse. We used an Icelandic horse on this farm to drape a eucalyptus wreath around and create total greenery magic. You could easily do this design on other animals including dogs, goats and alpacas too. This wreath was created on site, so it’s important to make sure your florist will have the time they need on the wedding day.

Using Greenery on Your Wedding Day

You don’t have to be on a farm to get the most out of Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. The bright green color will bring your centerpieces to life whether you choose tall or low runners. No matter how you use greenery in your wedding design, remember that the color represents new beginnings. If that’s not a good enough reason to use it on your first day as a married couple, then I’m not sure what is!

What do you think of greenery? Will you use it for your wedding? Share in the comments below your favorite idea or if you have one that we didn’t mention!

Romantic and rustic, this wedding invitation suite is perfect for an outdoor or tented affair
Posted on / by Danielle / in affordable wedding tips, wedding invitations, wedding planning, weddings

5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Wedding Invitations Stand Out

Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. That said, if I say I love something, I really truly love it.

Many of my engaged couples are looking for beautiful wedding invitations at a low cost. The truth is, custom invitations start at $12 a piece and most average between $20-$30 each. If you are inviting 300 people, that’s 150 invitations and a minimum of $3,000. Now while I love me some custom stationery, I also love being able to afford things like food.Romantic and rustic, this wedding invitation suite is perfect for an outdoor or tented affair

What is wonderful about custom wedding invitations, besides being gorgeous, is that they are one of a kind. This means you will sit down with a real person who will design your invitations from colors to font to enclosures. And no one will have seen it before.

But for my brides and grooms that think their guests will trash the invitations, I need to offer an alternative. As a wedding planner, I recommend purchasing invitations online and creating custom stationery for the day of. Then again, if paper just isn’t a priority, many websites offer things like menus and table numbers that match your wedding invitation.

One thing I love about these websites is how far they have come since first becoming a thing. There are countless ways to customize your invitations and there are real designers involved as well. While you won’t be sitting down with anyone flipping through swatches, you will have plenty of options to choose from.

Here are 5 affordable ways to make your wedding invitation stand out without going the custom route:

This foil press wedding invitation with gold lettering is both chic and elegant

Foil Press

A great option for the bride and groom that love shine but not glitter is the foil press invitation. The background can be any color, but darker jewel tones like navy blue, deep purple or even black will really make the words stand out. This look is chic and elegant but is appropriate for a black tie wedding just as much as a laid back wedding on the farm.

This invitation sample is from Minted and like many others can be customized with various colors. The foil is a rose gold which is perfect for a romantic wedding at any location. Foil is available in rose gold, standard gold and of course silver.

Letterpress

Letterpress invitations are probably the most formal of all and perfect for a black tie wedding.This letter press wedding invitation from Minted is perfect for a formal and elegant wedding Not that you couldn’t use this type of invitation for a backyard bash, but that’s not where you see it most. Since it is the style used for those upscale and luxury weddings you see regularly on reality shows, it is also typically pricey.

Online wedding invitation sites absolutely offer more affordable options than a custom designer would, but letterpress will be the most expensive on the site. If you are having a formal wedding, this raised printing will let guests know that jeans are not an option. The printing isn’t just about the wording either. Letterpress can be used for any design on your invitation as well.

A word of caution though: stick to one or two colors with this style so that it looks clean and…

Envelope LinersTake your wedding invitations to the next level by adding envelope liners in glitter!

Gone are the days of boring off-white envelopes that are simply used to hold the pretty wedding invitation. I love when the whole wedding “look” comes together and envelope liners are another way to get that job done. If you are all about the details then you will love this as much as I do.

Depending on your invitation colors and design, the liner to the envelope is available in everything from solids to sparkle. My favorite type of liner is a floral pattern in deeper colors, but you can really do anything. Sometimes when you receive your order, you will have to DIY the liners and put them onto the envelopes yourself. Before you decide to jump on this trend for your wedding, find out if it’s an arts and crafts project for you first.

Belly Bands

This is such a cute trend and there are about 459 different ways to do it. If you’ve never heard of belly bands, it’s basically stuff wrapped around the invitation suite. Add a belly band around your wedding invitation to keep all of the enclosures together and really be unique!That “stuff” can be anything from paper to ribbon, and it bands around the belly of the enclosures. Get it?

The belly band is seen as an accessory to the invitation and it really does enhance the entire…

The reason I love this so much is because it works for all types of weddings. I’ve seen these done in nothing but glitter just as much as I’ve seen florals, solids and monograms. It’s also a nice way to present an invitation so when it’s taken out of the envelope, it doesn’t fall apart. Think about it, you’re sending an invitation along with a RSVP card, direction enclosures, RSVP envelope and sometimes more. All of that put into one envelope can be a mess, but a belly band will keep it all together.

Lasercut

My absolute obsession is lasercut anything. Unique and fun lasercut wedding invitations for the edgy bride and groomSuch a hot trend for over a year now, we are seeing laser cut cake toppers, laser cut signage, laser cut drink stirrers and of course, laser cut wedding invitations. You. Guys. Lasercut is amazing. Join me on my little freakout moment, won’t you?

This style is fun and funky but make no mistake, this is totally perfect for a black tie wedding too. It reminds me of those snowflakes you would make in kindergarten where you would fold a piece of paper and go crazy with the scissors. No? You know what I’m talking about right? Well that’s what this is and it looks awesome. So if you want your guests to say “oh that’s cool” when they open that envelope, go for lasercut and don’t look back.

Those are my top 5 ways to create a unique but affordable wedding invitation. If you are a bride or groom that doesn’t want to spend a lot on the paper part of your wedding day, check out sites like Wedding Paper Divas and get 20% off if you order before March 31, 2017!

I always say that it’s best to see invitations in person, so make sure you order a sample before committing to “the one”. Follow the link to get your three free (told you this was an affordable blog) samples from our friends at Minted.

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments what your favorite style is for your wedding invitation!

 

Posted on / by Danielle / in wedding planning, weddings

Wedding Contracts Shouldn’t Be Complicated

On the blog, Part 2 of why you should read wedding contracts and the details you might be missing. Pin me now and read later for tips you won't get anywhere else!
Justin Tinapay Photography

I recently wrote a blog about wedding contracts and the importance of reading every last word. If you didn’t catch the details, make sure you read all of them before continuing here. This blog will cover the vendors I didn’t talk about yet and how their wedding contracts can affect your wedding plans.

Side note: This isn’t meant to freak anyone out or send brides and grooms on a scavenger hunt looking for the “traps” in wedding contracts. We’re all friends here and as a friend (and a wedding planner), I want to make sure you know what you’re signing before you sign it.

Moving down the list of vendors you’ll typically encounter when planning your wedding…

The Stationery Contracts

On the blog, Part 2 of why you should read wedding contracts and the details you might be missing. Pin me now and read later for tips you won't get anywhere else!
Alicia King Photography

Doesn’t matter if you are the type to get custom invitations or order simple stuff on the web. You sign a contract either way, whether it’s handed to you by a person, or you simply check off that you agree to all of the terms. And if you didn’t read those terms, then it will catch up with you down the road. What could I possibly be talking about?

  1. Invitations, menus, programs and all other paper products have one thing in common: wording. You will have to get the correct wording to the person (or computer application) designing all of this stuff. This basically means getting slightly important details like your wedding date, time and location, all 100% correct. There will also be a deadline as to when this information is needed by. If you delay on doing your work, then the stationery designer will have to delay on doing theirs. Signing a contract here implies that you understand what happens when you don’t get the information sent in on time.
  2. Another agreement you make when you sign this wedding contract is getting what you pay for. Revisions can be made but there’s always a limit unless you’re willing to open your checkbook. Don’t ignore the lines in the contract that tell you how many revisions you are entitled to. Otherwise, you’re bound to get pretty angry when you’re asked for additional funds because you can’t make a decision.

The Hair and Make Up Stylist Contracts

Quite often, brides will hire a professional team of hair and make up stylists for the big day. The stylists usually take care of the bridesmaids and mom figures as well. I book stylists for my clients at least 7 months prior to their wedding. This means they have to know how many people are getting hair and make up done way far in advance. I’ve seen brides ignore this contract entirely. Not good and here are two reasons why:

On the blog, Part 2 of why you should read wedding contracts and the details you might be missing. Pin me now and read later for tips you won't get anywhere else!
Timothy Glenn Photography
  1. Every contract is different, but the information the stylist asks for, helps them create the quote and proposal as well as prepare for the day. Odds are, you will have to commit to the amount of people being booked and what services you will need. Right down to airbrush versus traditional and false eyelashes versus mascara, decisions need to be made in advance. Is there flexibility for a changed mind on the wedding day? Potentially. But it’s not owed to you since you signed off months earlier.
  2. Prep details are included in the wedding contracts and these helpful hints often end up in the trash. Believe it or not, there is a reason that stylists want you and your ladies to read what they wrote. Included in these guidelines are mentions of how hair cannot be wet, that flatirons should not be used prior to hair services, and that anything more than moisturizer on a face is no bueno.
    You'd think that much of this would be common sense, but I've seen things, let me tell you...
    I’ve also seen a bridesmaid lose her mind when she was charged a fee for showing up without blow drying her hair. Yup.

The Hotel Block Contracts

If you’re setting up rooms at a hotel local to your wedding venue, you will enter into a contract that is duller than a book on tax law. Doesn’t matter because why? You need to read it anyway. Not only does this wedding contract affect you, but it also affects your guests. And this just in: guests tend to complain about wedding issues. Don’t give them ammo by ignoring this contract and especially these points:

  1. It will be very clear in the contract when the rooms are no longer available. This doesn’t mean that your guests can’t still get a reservation, it just means that there are no guarantees anymore. So if a hotel releases the block of rooms to the public and Uncle Sal calls after the release date (that you agreed to), he might be out of luck. Trust and believe that you will hear about this and then expected to fix the situation. That will also happen less than a month before your wedding and ZOMG do you really want that kind of stress? Memorize that date and share it in your invitations so that you can ask Uncle Sal why he didn’t read everything, instead of him asking you.
  2. Believe it or not, a majority of hotels will put in their wedding contract that outside alcohol is prohibited. That means no poppin’ bottles post reception in your penthouse suite. Nope. Not allowed. Can you get around this? Of course. Don’t make a bunch of noise on the balcony and party like it’s 1999 and things will probably be cool. The reason things go left is because the couple didn’t read that fine print and guests are calling the front desk to report the noise. Read the fine print to know what rules you’re about to break.

    Gabelli Studios

The Photobooth Contracts

Most times when working with a DJ, there will be a photobooth add-on option. There are also companies that exclusively handle your photobooth needs. Between the two, you really can have anything you want in terms of set up and photos delivered. Photobooths seem simple though so what could possibly be in a contract that even matters?

  1. Remember in the last blog when I said that the wedding contracts affect each other? Here is a classic example: the photobooth. Just as you might think this contract is no big deal, this vendor is viewed as lower on the totem pole by industry people. Probably because everyone and their mom has one now and it’s not considered an essential wedding item like you know, food. That doesn’t make the contract any less legally binding, so read it and pay attention to anything regarding a power source and table. Odds are, you will be asked to make sure there is a certain amount of electricity and that it’s only 20 feet away from their set up location. Photobooth vendors always ask for a small table as well, and it’s your responsibility (because you agreed to do it when you signed their contract) to make sure it’s there.
  2. Photos from a photobooth can be delivered hundreds of ways. You will have the option to decide on the size of the photos, how many copies are printed, and if you want them all on a flash drive at the end of the night delivered via giraffe…Kidding, I just put that in there to see if you were still reading.. Before you even decide which company to book, you need to know what your options are. Once you agree and sign, there is no “Oh I thought everyone got a copy” on the day of the wedding when you and your 20 bridesmaids pile into the booth. Wording can be tricky here so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification until you’re all on the same page.

Those are the vendors involved in most weddings and some highlights of their wedding contracts. Depending on the details of your wedding you might hire others including an officiant if you’re outside a religious house for your wedding. The contract with an officiant is generally simple, but just as important as the rest. 

Because if the officiant doesn't show up because you moved your ceremony time and didn't tell…
Jessica Janae Photography

For anyone getting married at a location that doesn’t provide catering, those couples will enter into a wedding contract with a catering company to handle food and beverage. Yes, this does also mean alcohol, so read that contract twice. Common things brides and grooms have said “but I didn’t know that” about on their actual wedding day? Oh, just little details like how they were supposed to provide ice, or that they were responsible for getting the food orders from their guests before the wedding day.

No matter the vendor or how long and boring the wedding contract is, read it and read it again before signing on the dotted line. Nothing is worse than arguing with a vendor and having them quote the contract that you didn’t read. It’s a pain in the ass and watching paint dry is more entertaining, but if the booze is warm, the DJ doesn’t have enough electricity to play music and the venue refuses to let a vendor in because they have no insurance, you will remember your wedding day for all the wrong reasons.

And since we really are all friends here, be sure to share that time you signed a contract without reading it? What about those of you that did read the contract but were surprised by what you read? Share in the comments below and let’s see even more reasons why reading a wedding contract is mandatory.

 

As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Posted on / by Danielle / in wedding planning, weddings

Why You Should Read Wedding Contracts

Why You Should Read Every Last Word of the Contracts You Sign While Wedding Planning. Check Out Things You Might Miss That Could Destroy Your Wedding and Your Budget!
Justin Tinapay Photography

Be honest. You have signed a contract before that you didn’t read. Or maybe you read most of it, but then figured it was just standard legal stuff to ignore. Too often contracts are treated like those annoying “terms of service” boxes where you just scroll down, click OK and get on with your life. But the simple reason behind why you want to not only read, but understand the contracts you sign while wedding planning, is because they all affect one another

I cannot tell you how many times I have been hired in the middle of the wedding planning process. A couple has picked the date and the venue and perhaps a handful of vendors. Maybe they were getting overwhelmed or just tired of planning, but quite often I have been asked to put on my planner hat halfway down the aisle.

The first thing I ask for when working with partial planning couples is to see a copy of every contract they have entered into. I can’t change what has already been agreed to, but I need to have a foundation for the house I’m trying to build. Too often, I have said to couples, “Did you read this?”

And I already knew their answer.

So if you’re getting ready to plan the details of your wedding day, then this is mandatory reading material. No, you won’t have to sign anything and there won’t be a quiz at the end. But you can bet your sweet little white dress that once you realize why reading is important, you’ll be more likely to actually do just that. I’ve broken this up into two parts, so make sure you read both in order to be fully prepared to do battle…or…um….plan your wedding.

Here we go!

The Venue Contract

The venue will have the longest contract and is almost always the first item checked off the list when planning a wedding. After all, you can’t really give anyone a date if you aren’t even sure what is available.

As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with…
I’ve worked at and researched thousands of venues both locally and internationally, and regardless of location, many contracts are similar. Here are a few major details to look for in a venue contract and the reasons why you need to know them:

  1. How many other events might take place before, during and/or after your wedding? Most brides don’t want another wedding going on while they are having their own, but they almost never think to ask about what happens before that. If a venue can host an event prior to your own, they are likely to do so unless you purchase a “buy-out” of the entire space. If an event doesn’t get booked for the earlier the same day, there is still a chance that your venue will not be open until the 2 hour mark before your wedding begins. This means that not one vendor, including your florist, will be able to set up until that time. So if you’re going crazy and pinning elaborate floral displays, slow your roll since there might not be enough time to get that done. If a buy-out isn’t in the budget, keep reading. Regardless, make sure you know how much time you really have. As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
  2. Speaking of vendors, the rules that a venue has always come first. Sometimes that grand entrance complete with dry ice isn’t going to be allowed. If you have your heart set on anything that will take place at the venue, look and see what the contract says. As easy as it would be to assume it’s allowed if it’s not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first. It’s also worth mentioning that the answer from the venue is the final answer. Even if you hear from someone that got married there or a vendor that has worked there in the past, and they say that what you want can be done…if the venue said “no”, then take them at their word. A few things that are “pin-worthy” but not always venue friendly: dry-ice/smoke, hanging anything from the ceiling, candles that aren’t covered, and wish lanterns.
  3. Another issue that tends to come up when I get brought on mid-planning is the set up for the day. Your florist is responsible for their stuff, but for items like pictures you want to display or any signage, it’s important to discuss if the venue will handle that or not. If the venue will take care of things like placing 250 chair covers, double and triple check if a labor fee will be added on with your final bill.
  4. While it varies in terms of amount needed and which vendors need to provide what, the venue will always ask that insurance is provided. At a minimum, your florist, photographer, cinematographer, all music and your photobooth will have to provide what is called a “Certificate of Insurance”. If you’re bringing in outside food and beverage, they are in the same boat and lately, many venues are asking that all outside vendors provide this document. It sounds scarier than it is as every professional vendor already carries this. Just make sure you know what the venue’s requirements are and ask for this document as soon as you book your vendors.

The Photographer/Cinematographer Contract

Selecting someone to capture the details of your wedding isn’t always easy. There are countless photographers available at the click of a google search, and separating the professionals from the wanna-bes can leave you too tired to read the details of a contract. Even though you now know better than to skim and sign, here are things to look for first:

 As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Jessica Janae Photography
  1. The amount of hours that a photographer and/or cinematographer is on-site can be anywhere from 6 to 14. While it’s not always possible to decide the exact amount of time you will need until you’re closer to the wedding date, you want to factor in for possible overtime costs. 8-10 hours usually is just fine, but if you can land a package of 10 hours, I’d suggest doing just that. Always confirm if travel time is included and what the actual per hour (or half hour) overtime fee is.
  2. While your BFF may say to not sign with any photographer that won’t hand over all raw images and the rights to your photos, that is something you won’t always get. In fact, many photographers refuse to deliver raw images to their clients as they don’t want any modifications made including 500 different Instagram filters. Don’t even ask about owning the rights. Listen very carefully to what is included and then read about it twice.
  3. Pay close attention to how your photographer is your only photographer for the day. There are variations with this clause, but the main point is that there will be no one else taking photos or shooting video. Couples generally glaze over this because they cannot imagine how this would be an issue. Let me tell you where the issue is/why photographers put this into their contract: DJs. You’ve been to the weddings where photographs from earlier in the day are shown on big ass flat screens, right? Well, sometimes the DJ brings a “photographer” for those images. This is a whole different subject to delve into, but just know that this is why the issue exists. Respect it and handle it before you sign a contract with your DJ.
  4. Like any other vendor present during your reception (wedding planner, music vendor and photobooth usually), the photo and video crew will get hungry. These people are human (except for a few I’ve dealt with) and the human body requires food and water. Most contracts will state that a vendor meal must be provided and even if it’s not written it still has to happen. Because common decency. Yes, it’s an extra cost, but it’s for food not a brand new Prada shirt, and plenty of vendors will bounce from your reception to pick up pizza if you don’t feed them…and it will say so in their contract.

The Florist Contract

Picking a florist is usually a fun task for my couples and usually they go with one that has similar floral designs on their website as the ones they want for their wedding.  As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.However, there is more to think about than if someone is good with peonies or not. While a contract will not be the first piece of paper you receive from a florist, it will be second only to the proposal. That proposal will be put together after a consultation where you will discuss what you want and the rough quantity needed.

It's important to know from the florist if they can accomplish your vision and if they will…
A common misconception is that the first appointment will include a sample centerpiece, so don’t go into that meeting expecting to see one. Here is what you can expect to see in their contracts though:

  1. The payments you will make will be broken up, but that last payment could end up being a full 2-3 weeks prior to your wedding date. Flowers get ordered at different times, and many florists need 14 days to make sure the order comes in correctly. Some florists will let the final payment go until the wedding day, whereas others will want the money before they make the order. Either practice is fine, but make sure you know when your payments are due.
  2. Going back to the venue dilemma and having limited set up time, make sure you clear with your florists during the consultation exactly what they are working with. If the venue has a set of rules for florists, make sure to provide that along with any timing restrictions. It’s important to know from the florist if they can accomplish your vision and if they will need extra staff (AKA: more money) to do it.

The DJ, Band or Both Contract(s)

No matter if you have a DJ to handle all of the music, or a band to handle the reception with a bunch of violins for the aisle walk, these contracts are just as important to review before signing. Just like the vendors mentioned above, all of these people will have to provide insurance documents, guaranteed. There are differences between their contracts, but here are two similarities to look for and talk about:

  1. A major reason that insurance is required from your music vendors is that they could potentially use a ton of electricity. Once you are under contract and in the music planning stages, there will be a discussion of where the band/DJ is placed and where the closest power source is.  As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.Even if you are in a standard banquet hall, it’s really important to look over the contract in regard to how close your music vendor needs to be and what happens if they are too far away. Bands and DJs do not bring extension cords or generators with them, and adding stuff on like that last minute is going to cost you.
  2. Pay careful attention to what is actually included and what will cost you more. As a planner, I know what will be needed and what the right questions are. Brides, however, do not. A question to ask here (should it not be outlined in the contract) is: what microphones do you include? It’s a thought that doesn’t cross a mind until no one can hear the vows or any of the toasts, but by then, it’s too late. Don’t wonder or assume anything about microphones. Check the fine print because it might be addressed while you weren’t looking.

The Transportation Contract

If you need shuttles for guests or a bunch of limos and party buses, you will probably work with one transportation company. A big “however” here though, is if you are setting up a hotel block (addressed in the next blog) and they provide a shuttle service. There probably won’t be a contract here, but an invoice and some fine print is typically what you would receive. Whatever you book, read what you are given and look out for this:

 As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Justin Tinapay Photography
  1. Overtime hours and costs associated with any transportation provided outside of the standard 3-3.5 hours should be considered. You might not think that this will be an issue, but when you’re running late or sitting in traffic or take more time with photos than expected or….or…or….. No one likes paying bills after a wedding because that’s like dealing with student loans. The party is over, the bills should go away, right? Make that happen by putting together a package for the time that you need and be realistic about it.
    Ask about this before you book as it won't come up (probably) and then it will be buried deep…
  2. You won’t ask because everyone assumes, but 9 times out of 10 you cant eat or drink in the limos you book. That’s right, no champagne on that party bus is a total possibility. The thing with this is that no one realizes the reality of this situation until the bride is jumping into the limo with her bridesmaids and a bottle of bubbly and the limo driver says “no drinks allowed”. Ask about this before you book as it won’t come up (probably) and then it will be buried deep in the invoice…so deep that you won’t see it.

The contracts I spoke about above are ones that pretty much go with every wedding, no matter the guest count, location or style. In “Part 2” you’ll see the other things to look out for including a deadline in stationery contracts that most couples never read. Until then, please share your thoughts in the comments section! Did you ever sign a contract without reading it and, if so, what happened? What language in your venue and vendor contracts are you glad you saw before you signed? Tell your story and come back for more in the next blog!

 As easy as it would be to assume it's allowed if it's not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.
Justin Tinapay Photography

 

 

Posted on / by Danielle / in wedding planning, weddings / 1

2016: Year in Review

Justin Tinapay Photography

“Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9

This has been quite a year. I don’t know about you, but on my personal Facebook page, my newsfeed is littered with comments about how everyone has hated 2016 and is ready for it to be over. Truth be told, 2015 was pretty damn annoying for me, and I was feeling better in 2016. But, looking back, well damn…this year was a challenge plenty of times- both personally and as a wedding planner.

There were  times that I stopped and wondered WTF was going on and if Mercury was in retrograde for like the 900th time, but I am a firm believer that you have to learn from everything and that experiences help you grow in life. You may not be able to find a reason for things happening, but sometimes you don’t find out the reason for years. And sometimes the reason is that some people are just stupid and that’s that.

So here we are, creeping up to Christmas and on the express train to 2017. I close my office the week between Christmas and New Year’s because generally it is a quiet time of year and frankly, I want to see my friends and family members that I haven’t seen since like February because work. As much as I love my job and am a self-proclaimed workaholic, even I know that you have to take time away and spend it with people you love. After all, my job is all about love, so I would be an idiot not to cultivate it in my own life.

2016 has been a rollercoaster and here I am, still in love with my job, still in love with love, despite the crazy that was this entire year. This, is my year in review…

Timothy Glenn Photography

This year began quietly as for the first time the bulk of my weddings and events were slated for early Fall and through November. Typically, I am booked with weddings from April-October and have other events sprinkled in between. Most of my couples have engagements that last anywhere from one to one and a half or maybe two years. That means that I start working with them exactly that far in advance.

Not in 2016 though.

I am about to share with you something that I have never shared with any of my industry colleagues:

I went into 2016 with 1 booked wedding.

One.

You wanna know what panic feels like? That.

Let me give some context as to why that was terrifying to me…

For close to a decade now, I have booked anywhere from 10-14 full planning weddings per year and, as I mentioned before, those were booked anywhere from 1-2 years in advance. This meant that as I went through a wedding season, I already had weddings lined up for the following year and a handful for the year after that. But this year, I had one. One single wedding for 2016 as I entered 2016.

Here I was, the most experienced I had ever been, countless publications under my belt, national recognition and a celebrity client roster and I had one couple book with me to plan their wedding. Something wasn’t adding up.

I reached out to people in the industry that I consider friends, and very talented ones at that. Turns out they were all in the same situation and getting booked by clients that wanted to get married within the same year.

Alicia King Photography

None of them were worried. We were in engagement season and pretty much all of them were chill with the weird AF situation. No one was trying to offer deals or negotiate their prices, even though they were all getting hit with unreasonable requests like full planning for $1,000 (that’s unreasonable by the way so yeah).

But I was nervous because this was (and is) my full time job and has been for quite some time. There is no side hustle, there is no anything other than this. My inquiries were few and far between and many that came in wanted me to work for next to nothing.

This is why 2016 became the year that I started caring about demographics and sociology in general. I’ve heard and used the word “millennial” more times than I can even believe. And why? Because it’s real and because the big wedding names like “The Knot” and various publications had already realized it was a factor to consider. The thing was, they realized it before the rest of us did, and then they capitalized on exactly what that generation wanted, or at least what the internet told us they wanted.

This led to a late night (until 4am) couch conversation with my husband about how I was ignorant to think that demographics didn’t apply to me or my job. It also led to reading a ridiculous amount of articles about this group of people that statistics say make up over 90% of the engaged population.

Mary and Roy Photography

As I changed my advertising tactics and learned about a group of people that on paper I couldn’t relate to (even though I’m not that much older than them and in fact fall into their category in certain studies) I started booking more clients.

Before I knew it, I was back up to my normal numbers. And since I increase my rates ever year, I reached my annual goal and then surpassed it as per usual.

What wasn’t usual? That didn’t happen until mid-March.

That’s right. Every single wedding I planned this year, aside from one that booked in December of last year, was a full planning client and they all got married this year.

The challenge with signing new clients at the same time, is that they will all have the same needs at the same time. There are ebbs and flows in wedding planning and sometimes you need to make 5 decisions at once. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything. But when everyone books you within a 2 month period, and you have under a year to plan all of these weddings, well…let’s just say that caffeine and I went from casual to exclusive really fast.

Gabelli Studios

Since I had “nothing” to do until the first weekend of September (you know, since wedding planners don’t do anything until the day of the actual wedding, right?), I did what I always do: fill my plate with a ridiculous amount of things like styled shoots and new projects. You know. Cause why be bored?

My clients were all pretty different from each other in what they wanted for their weddings, if they even knew what that was. Priorities ranged from food being creative to everyone being on the dance floor all night. A common request I heard from most?

No waste.

The millennial couple is characterized as not wanting to waste anything and the two categories that applied to were food and flowers. This year yielded more requests for the ability to donate food not eaten than all my other years as a planner combined. When that request couldn’t be fulfilled (seriously, the hoops you have to jump through are basically on fire) the answer was always to limit the amount of food being served. That was a direct conflict of what the parents wanted which was an open top shelf bar and enough food to feed the entire planet.

The idea that flowers “just die” was one that I heard on loop all year as well. It was very difficult for the majority of my couples to wrap their heads around the cost of the flowers that they wanted. As a planner, I generally will explain everything but with limits. Frankly, if I feel you’re going to argue with me, the professional you are choosing to pay because you don’t know zip about wedding planning, then I’d rather just not have the conversation at all.

Realizing that waste was a major issue for couples this year and knowing that donating food is rarely possible due to minor inconveniences like food safety laws and all that, I frequently suggested that they consider donating their flowers at the end of the night to a company like Repeat Roses . Initially, they were all interested, until they realized they had to pay for the service. The concept of paying to be charitable (which meant you got the tax deduction) was ridiculous.

To all of them.

Meanwhile, this is a group that comes to your wedding once it is over, breaks down all of your flowers, and then repurposes and styles them before transporting them to places like nursing homes and children’s hospitals. So, yeah, you have to pay for it. But I digress…

Mary and Roy Photography

As with most years, the couples that hired me were ones that wanted a creative wedding and generally wanted to stay out of the ballroom. Creating a one of a kind wedding that reflected them was what they all wanted and I’m good at stuff like that. While it would take some time to learn the idiosyncrasies of this new generation, I was pleased that I had in common (mostly) the one thing I need to have in common with all of my couples; and that is the understanding that a wedding is the celebration of the fact that there are over 7 billion people on this planet, and you found each other.

I can think of no better reason to throw a party than that.

Not unlike other years though, there are stories from a handful of weddings that would shock normal people. During conversations I had with trusted members of the industry, and even chats with good friends with normal and less dangerous jobs…like police officers and electrical power line installers…I would constantly get told “I don’t know how you do it.”

Sarah Schulte

I mean, we all know Jesus turned water into wine when he was at a wedding, right?

All wedding planners are different, and for me, my emotions are deeply invested in every wedding I plan. I’m protective of my couples and I want them to know that I am there for them  and them only. When I say “goodbye” to them, even if it’s more like “see you later”, there is a piece of my heart that I give away and never get back.

This year I was challenged more on my experience than ever before, to the point that I wondered why I was being paid when there were so many “brilliant” wedding websites out there not to mention best friends that just got married and now know everything. My patience (which doesn’t exist) was tested by a bride that sent upwards of 30 emails a day and then said to my face, “for the amount of money we are paying you, you should be kissing our ass.”

I had a bride that I was on the same page with until her mother swooped in and took over. Of course, I found out that same bride was badmouthing me to all of my preferred vendors on the wedding day, despite the fact that I had brought 6 huge umbrellas to shield her and her wedding party from the rain that her photographer kept her in for hours.

There was the wedding of a bride I adored that was called off with less than a week to spare, which shattered my heart. I’ve had weddings called off, but never so close to the wedding date and never with a bride that I connected with on such a deep level.

As with any other year there were difficult vendors that don’t know how to play nice in the sandbox, fires to be put out and the usual stuff that comes with the job. In between all of that were two styled shoots, the launch of my You Tube Channel, a celebrity baby shower covered by E! News, and an industry market mixer pulled together in under 4 weeks.

I am happy to say though that there was still a lot of love and I love that even though the “millennials” shook the wedding world this year, when it comes to love, they are no different than any other generation.

If you’re still reading, here are some highlights from each event…

Styled Shoot: Lamb’s Hill

Early in the year, I was doing my typical “new venue research” and came across a property that overlooked all of Duchess County, New York and basically the entire planet. Extremely rustic but very chic,  the owner of the property had aspirations to have her venue featured in a well known publication. She already had the photographer she wanted but when she offered to handle the flowers, I took over in that department since styling is a huge part of what I do. We also brought in some vintage furniture pieces and I assembled the rest of a very talented team.

Using Pantone’s Colors of the Year  we created a rustic chic and very romantic vibe that ended with a sunset straight out of the movies. BEAUTINI provided hair and make up for our gorgeous models that were dressed in gowns by EA Bridal. Alicia King provided photography and our friends at NST Pictures captured the day on video. Working with Darling and Pearl on all of the stationery pieces and Design Masters NJ for florals, the setting was purely beautiful. It was a long day (and a long drive) but the images are ones that we all swoon over still!

Styled Shoot: Through The Looking Glass

Justin Tinapay Photography

I am in love with the story of Alice in Wonderland. For years I have wanted to put together a styled shoot, but finding the perfect location and assembling the perfect team was not easy. I am happy, no, thrilled, to say that it all came together in late August this year. Behind the lens was a favorite photographer of mine Justin Tinapay and once again, Darling and Pearl provided the stationery, BEAUTINI handled hair and make up and NST Pictures put it all together on video.

The beautiful setting was provided by The Inn at Fernbrook and our vintage rentals were brought to life by Twisted Willow Flowers. With the talents of Joyful Ink Calligraphy who provided laser cut items included drink stirrers and a cake topper for Sweet Grace Cake Designs amazing cake, the day could not have been more perfect if I had fallen down the rabbit hole myself!

As the summer came to a close, we moved into Labor Day Weekend and our events were full speed ahead.

Angela Simmons’ Baby Shower

As can be the case for a celebrity event, we had a little under 2 months to plan from top to bottom a baby shower for Growing Up Hip Hop star, Angela Simmons. With a Labor Day Weekend date selected, we went to work with the team at Sugar Factory NYC to create a royal themed shower for a prince on the way! E! News was there to see it all

Justin Tinapay Photography

 

and we worked with our partners in crime Justin Tinapay and NST Pictures as well as the fabulous Darling and Pearl for Save the Dates and Invitations. The amazing cake provided by Sweet Grace Cake Designs was framed by an incredible floral wall designed by Once Wed Walls and the party was blingy and beautiful!

 

Sarah and Jan

Just one week later, we spent the weekend in NYC again, this time for a wedding that would take place at The New York Botanical Gardens. Originally wanting a wedding at home, plans quickly changed once the bride realized what an undertaking that would be in just 6 months time. With only five months to plan, we switched gears and started from scratch.The result? A wedding with 175 guests that took place at The New York Botanical Gardens complete with a string quartet for the ceremony and a lively band for the reception.

Gabelli Studios

EBE Talent kept the crowd on the dance floor all night and Gabelli Studios was there to capture the details in both photographers and film. We worked with A Touch of Elegance to compliment the garden vibe at the venue and lush white florals and plenty of greenery could be seen throughout the space. Starr Catering provided the amazing food and the couple even stayed late for an after party with close friends and family members.

 

Meghan and Vinny

This wedding was all about fun and partying from the moment she said yes to the dress and even before that! Looking for a fairytale bash where they and close to 300 guests could cut lose all night long, Meghan  and Vinny knew The Tides would be a perfect choice! Music being their number one priority, we knew that Adam Saber Entertainment was the right company for the job. Bringing in not just a DJ and Emcee, Adam’s set up was complete with plasma screens and a photobooth, as well as two live musicians that brought the concept of having a band and a DJ together as one. With such a huge guest list, we trusted RPD Limo to shuttle the guests safely to the wedding and then back to the hotel at the end of the night where the after party is probably still going on!

 

 

 

New Jersey Knot Market Mixer

Timothy Glenn Photography

In the middle of Fall-A-Palooza aka Wedding Season Madness, we were contacted by The Knot Magazine to design and plan their market mixer. We had less than four weeks to get together a team of vendors that we knew could rock the house and make this mixer extra special. Working in an industrial warehouse for a venue was something I always wanted to do and even though this was the craziest time of year for  everyone, I was determined to make it unforgettable! Flowers from floor to ceiling, hot pink chairs and black lounge furniture, balloons, sparkle, a fashion show and so much more made it a night to remember. I still have no idea how it came together but make sure to come back and read the blog to get all of the amazing details and full vendor list!

 

Alexa and Michael

A true Cinderella and Prince Charming couple, these two were surrounded by an incredibly loving group of friends and family at The Ashford Estate. With an eye for design, the details were Alexa’s biggest priority and it was a dream working with someone so creative! From the bookmarks that served as escort cards to your Disney book table, to the four foot tall centerpieces, Cinderella carriage card box and spectacular custom linens, there was no detail overlooked. Make sure to check out the blog we wrote to see just how amazing everything was and why these two are totally living happily ever after.

 

Julie and Ry

Closing out the season is always bittersweet, but that’s even truer with a couple as wonderful as Julie and Ry. I will never forget bringing my bride to the limo before the ceremony and asking her if she was ready…to which she tearfully replied “I’m so ready”.

Justin Tinapay Photography

You’ll have to come back to the blog to hear the rest of her sweet words and see even more amazing pictures by Justin Tinapay. This woodland dream wedding took place at The Stone House at Stirling Ridge and we love working with their team. A Touch of Elegance created an incredible ceremony backdrop and put together three unique centerpieces for the reception. The bridesmaids wore an incredible fuchsia colored dress and the bride was a picture of radiance right until the last goodbye.

 

And Then There Were None…

I meant it when I said it is bittersweet to end a season. With each wedding or event that ends, I give away a piece of my heart that I will never get back. But when the season ends, it is the end of a year long journey. This year was a whirlwind of short engagements and super fast planning. I’m not sure I’d ever wish for a year like this again, but I hope that 2017 will have just as much love as these couples did…and maybe even more.

 

Congratulations to all of my clients of 2016.

To my 2017 clients, you’re on deck.

Happy Holidays xoxo

 

 

Posted on / by Danielle / in wedding planning, weddings / 1

Alexa and Michael’s Fairytale Wedding

with-amWhen I first met with Alexa and Michael, we sat in my office for over two hours.

I knew there was something special about this couple the minute we met. Their conversation flowed like they were already married and they had a connection that brought a huge smile to my face.

Huge Disney fans, they wanted to create a magical wedding at The Ashford Estate. Alexa had several hundred pins on her Pinterest page (seriously more than I’ve ever seen from a bride like ever), and we got to work right away.

carriageDetails and design are my favorite part of the job, but they can get crazy really fast. The thing that my couples struggle with the most is how to bring their vision to life without it looking like a Pinterest fail. A lot of my brides love different styles that just won’t work together, so it’s about making decisions and eliminating any inspiration that just won’t fit.

Alexa and Michael had their colors set and they were working with whites, creams, antique blue, purples and lots of greens. Carroll’s Florist did such an amazing job with their engagement party, that they were the obvious choice for their wedding.

am_12Golds, pearls and crystals were incorporated into the design and there were three different style centerpieces for the 23 tables at the reception. The Ashford Estate has these incredible high ceilings, so skyscraping centerpieces were totally in order. In fact, when it came time to schedule the sample appointment, Chad of Carroll’s Florist suggested that we take it outside since my office ceilings were “too low” to accommodate what he was putting together. That was a first for me, but he wasn’t kidding!

The florals selected for this wedding are the ones that I have dreams about but rarely get to work with. They included amnesia roses and antique blue hydrangea. One of the wonderful things about working with this couple was their willingness to get creative and not be afraid to take the design up a level (or 20).

I’m a strong believer that your décor and design should be present in every room your guests enter. This includes each area they will be in both inside and outside. The Ashford Estate has multiple rooms within the main building, as well as a barn on site and the ballroom is actually separated and in its own space. This meant walking all of the spaces and discussing the details and what we could do.

fountainWhat I mean when I say that we have to make your design “present” in every room, I mean things like florals in the fountains. Because why not?  Alexa and Michael (especially Alexa) loved flowers and when I think “Disney” I think about flowers being everywhere.

We didn’t stop at the fountains though, because that would be ridiculous. Each mantle was adorned with different florals as well, and the couple included pieces they had either purchased or made. The tables held the centerpieces and a floral bunch was placed at each setting on top of the napkins we rented.

But design isn’t just florals, and Alexa and Michael had secured Papertree Studio to handle all of their stationery from invitations to programs. A beautiful invitation, worthy of a royal ball, was sent out to all of the guests but we were stuck on what to do for escort cards.

Foregoing the escort board option (because hello huge guest list and early RSVP date that would be necessary), Alexa had the idea to name each table after famous Disney couples. She wanted to have each table “number” be a book, so we came up with the idea of using “bookmarks” for escort cards. Then they added a quote from each story at the bottom.

am2The font had to all be the same to create a specific look, and their logo was no exception. Playing with lighting colors right up until the month before the wedding, Alexa and Michael chose a blue-purple hue to illuminate the reception space and placed their logo above the mantle. Candles were used inside the fireplace and throughout the room to up the romance factor.

Each table was draped in white linens and lavender napkins. I love drawing attention to the sweetheart, gift, escort and cake tables by putting different linens on them. Working with the placement of the tables is really important because it’s essential that the linens don’t “clash”.

Their “card box” was a Cinderella’s carriage that Alexa had painted gold, and that Carroll’s adorned with flowers. Because of it’s size, we needed a 6 foot table and it would have to be placed behind the sweetheart table. This means that the sweetheart table, card table and cake table would be very close to each other.

Going through a book of swatches, we selected linens with the couple that would be different from each other, highlight anything being placed on the tables, and that would work well together. A combination of sparkles and solids were selected and the newly married couple sat in vintage chairs that I stumbled upon months earlier. (Actually, I was at a floral meeting for another wedding I was working on, when I spotted them in the building and immediately snapped a picture and texted them to Alexa with nothing more than “how about these?” The rest was history and not only were they beautiful, but damn comfortable too!)

I loved working with Alexa and Michael and it was such a beautiful wedding that truly reflected their style. It is really hard for me to pick a favorite detail or moment from this one. Their cake, designed by Michael’s sister was just stunning, the music was sensational and their wedding party was so friendly that I felt like I was in a movie. This was also the wedding where I heard what is (and probably always will be) the best father of the bride toast ever. Seriously, other couples should hire Alexa’s dad to toast at their weddings.

Congratulations to Alexa and Michael and thank you for working with me! I am so happy we met and know that you will live Happily Ever After….

(yes…this was the only font that didn’t “go” with the rest…but it was a good call….)

happily

 

 

Posted on / by Danielle / in wedding planning, weddings

Rustic and Romantic Styled Shoot

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Alicia King Photography

I am always searching for the newest “off the beaten path” venue. You know the ones: the barns, the farms, the estates, and the vineyards. Those beautiful locations that no one ever thought to have weddings at…until recently.

I was born and raised in New Jersey and to many people that means that I must wear lots of animal prints and sequins. Truth be told, I own one or two pairs of leopard print heels and only break them out every once in awhile.

Being a non-traditional bride myself, I wasn’t “typical Jersey” when I was planning my own wedding. New Jersey has countless ballrooms to choose from and they all have the bling everyone sees on the Jersey based reality shows. The menus are standard Italian and there is always way too much food. Not knocking what some brides and grooms want, but it was never what I was looking for.

My style has been described to me (because I don’t really know what to call it myself) as very “California”. I love boho chic, but I’d hang a chandelier in a tree in a heartbeat. I’ve done the barns and farms before they were what everyone suddenly wanted and thus, I am over the burlap, lace and mason jars filled with “wildflowers”. What can I say? I’m just not basic ballroom bling.

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Alicia King Photography

I love vintage furniture and have a pretty sweet collection that includes dressers, couches and plenty of china. I rent the pieces out when I can, but not many couples realize what the expense will be (hint: a lot). Therefore, anytime I can use the pieces, I jump at the chance.

Over the summer I designed a styled shoot in New York State. For those of you that don’t know what a styled shoot is, it’s basically a bunch of creatives in the wedding industry getting together and showing off their talents. This shoot incorporated plenty of vintage pieces from my collection as well as a horse or two.

It wasn’t my intention, but while designing the colors and theme for the shoot, I kept going back to Pantone’s “color of the year”. 2016 was all about the watercolors of rose quartz and some light blue color. Honestly, I was never crazy about the colors or the combination for wedding inspiration, but I loved (seriously L-O-V-E-D) using them for this shoot.

We were fortunate enough to have not just photography but a videography team in place too. In fact, you can check out their amazing video right here: Video Coverage

The location was the highest point in Duchess County, New York, which made dealing with the light a little difficult. It was basically full on sun for the entire day. There were a good amount of reflectors and flashes being used to battle the summer sun and zero clouds.

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Alicia King Photography

For any farm or barn wedding, if there are animals around, I always want to incorporate them. I mean…come. on. How gorgeous does this model look draped over this stunning horse? This wedding dress was an airy ballgown with a crystal bodice and we designed a eucalyptus wreath for the horse.

As a designer, I fully believe in complimenting your surroundings and not competing with them. It would’ve looked ridiculous to have used bold and dark colors and over the top tall centerpieces.

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Alicia King Photography

In order to keep the natural feel without being too nature, nature, nature, we worked with long gray-brown farmhouse tables and a simple deep blue runner. I wanted to keep the rest of the table exposed to showcase the vintage china. Place settings are a huge deal to me and if you can work it into your budget, I highly recommend a floral and/or custom menu on each plate. It really is that extra touch and it “finishes” the look of the table, much in the way a charger would.

The runner was scrunched to give that “I woke up like this” look and the flowers were placed in a vintage silver holder. In keeping with that natural but beautiful wedding vibe I was going for, figs and artichokes were included in the design. Remember, if you’re on a farm, a great way to work with what you have is to use what they have.

We luckily had the entire day to shoot and were able to use the barn on site as well as the entire grounds. Even though the sun never hid from us, the light changed enough to give some serious contrast to the photos. You can also see some behind the scenes fun over on our YouTube Channel here: Behind The Scenes

Styled shoots are a crazy amount of work, but the end result is always amazing. When you’re looking for wedding inspiration, you’re most likely going to be pinning pictures from more styled shoots than actual weddings. It’s a great chance to see what vendors can really do and just how creative they can be. For more wedding inspiration from this shoot, make sure to visit our Pinterest page: Romantic Wedding Inspiration