How to Have an Incredible Garden Wedding

If you’re stuck in the bitter winter cold like I am, it might be hard to envision an incredible garden wedding. How can you picture beautiful trees and flowers when everything is covered in snow? We’ve put together plenty of inspiration in this blog, as well as venue recommendations to get you started. Don’t forget to pin your favorites and share your wedding details in the comments below.

Thinking about a boho chic ceremony with plenty of flowers? Get plenty of garden wedding inspiration, plus real garden wedding venues every bride and groom should consider. Visit the blog for garden wedding inspiration and tips how to add personal touches to this wedding trend.

What are some incredible garden venues?

If you want your wedding to have a garden feel, then the best way to do that is to get married in…you guessed it…a garden! One of the best things about a garden wedding venue is that you’re surrounded by flowers, trees and organic beauty. It’s not necessary to go crazy with decor when it’s already provided. 


This is the perfect setting for the boho chic bride to the traditional black tie mandatory bride and everyone in between. The trick is to find the right garden venue that fits your style. Perhaps you like the idea of the ceremony being outdoors, but want to bring guests inside for cocktail hour and the reception. Maybe you’d prefer a tented wedding where guests can enjoy the beauty of the garden the entire day. A full list of garden venues by state can be downloaded in the link below, and past that are some of our favorites!

Garden Venues Across The States

The New York Botanical Gardens

Located in New York City, NYBG is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. You can see a real wedding we designed for one of our couples in this blog right here. 

Looking for garden inspiration for your boho chic or outdoor wedding? We've put together a list of venues along with plenty of unique ideas for your own wedding day. Read the blog to get started!

The New York Botanical Gardens hosts both intimate and grand weddings. Engaged couples can create their first look photos on site, and treat their guests to a true garden wedding experience. Starr Events is the fantastic in house catering group, so foodies should add this venue to the list!

Grounds for Sculpture

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, Grounds for Sculpture is a premiere destination for garden weddings. In addition to the gorgeous grounds covered in beautiful flowers and trees, there are countless art exhibits around every corner. 
Garden wedding inspiration plus venues every engaged couple should consider and how to make your garden wedding unique! Read the blog to get ideas and get the free printable venue guide.
Ceremonies can be held in four different outdoor locations and Grounds for Sculpture provides an indoor location in case of inclement weather. Cocktail hour and the reception are located at the restaurant on property with food provided by Starr Events. Guests will travel from the ceremony to Rat’s Restaurant on paths surrounded by sculptures and beautiful gardens. Check out what our couple, Chelsea and Yaw, did for the wedding we planned with them right here.

Pleasantdale Chateau
If you’re looking for a more formal garden wedding experience, Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, New Jersey is the perfect fit. Set far from the main road, the chateau at the end of the winding driveway includes on-site accommodations as well as separate bride and groom suites for the couple and their wedding party to get ready in. 

Find out where this dreamy garden wedding venue is and get inspiration for your own garden wedding. We share plenty of ideas along with a free printable of venues across the United States for your unique garden wedding.

Couples can take their pictures on countless bridges and anywhere on the beautiful grounds. This upscale setting allows couples to have a garden vibe for their wedding, while providing a beautiful estate for dinner and dancing. 

What Type of Wedding Gown is Perfect for a Garden Wedding?

Once you have the venue selected, it’s time to start shopping for the perfect bridal gown. It’s important to consider your own style as well as where you will get married. Are you more boho chic in an organic garden setting, or will your big day include a clear top tent and fireworks? Below are some beautiful options to consider wearing at a garden wedding.


Floral Details

Wedding gowns perfect for a garden wedding! From boho chic to rustic and romantic, we've put together all of your garden wedding inspiration in one blog. Get your free printable guide of garden venues when you read the blog!

Floral details on a wedding gown are the perfect look for a garden wedding. With floral patterns increasing in popularity, brides have countless options with this trend. Whether it’s a small detail like a floral design on the straps, or a big statement using larger details, you can’t go wrong incorporating garden beauty into your gown. Our friends at Bridal Atelier in Montclair suggest looking at Claire Pettibone dresses if you’re looking for romantic floral inspired wedding gowns. You can read about that wedding gown trend and more right here!

The Ballgown

We love this boho chic ballgown and it's perfect for a garden wedding. Check out the blog to get ideas for your outdoor wedding day and download the venue guide for free!

You simply can’t go wrong with a ballgown on your wedding day. Plus, this is the only chance you really get to wear one! Take a spin around the gardens in a romantic wedding gown like this one for incredible pictures. We promise you won’t regret it!

Lace Details

This fitted lace wedding gown that our bride wore for her rustic chic ceremony is perfect for a garden wedding too! Check out this gown and more inspiration for your garden wedding on the blog, and download the free printable wedding venue guide!!

This fitted lace wedding gown is romantic and chic enough for any garden wedding venue. Lace can be beautiful whether it’s an accent or used for the entire dress. For the vintage and boho chic brides looking for the perfect garden wedding gown, look no further than one with lace details!

What Color Combinations are Best for a Garden Wedding?

Dessy Spring Style 2013

Garden weddings all have some element of the outdoors. Depending on your location, the season that you get married in should be considered when choosing your colors. Ask the venue to see pictures of the grounds from weddings that took place in the past in the same month you will wed in. What’s in bloom and what isn’t? Will they be changing any of the trees and flowers? If you’re considering a Fall wedding, when do the leaves change and when do they drop? Consider these details before committing to a color combo. 

This gorgeous combination of blues and purples is perfect for a garden wedding. Read the blog to get more inspiration and download the free venue guide to find the best place for your wedding!

A monochrome combination of blues is a chic look for a garden wedding. Keep the vibe organic by using chair drapes like we did here with a deconstructed centerpiece of greens, blues and purples. To get ideas how to use Pantone’s Color of the Year, ultra-violet, in your garden wedding, check out a previous blog right here. 

A mix of pinks and greenery is the perfect combination for a garden wedding. Read the blog to get more inspiration and the free garden venue guide for your own wedding day!

Pops of bright pink mixed with vibrant greenery is a great look for those late spring and early summer weddings. Channel your inner Secret Garden style and create a vintage centerpiece like we did here by using touches of vintage gold.

A rustic chic ceremony isn't complete without plenty of greenery and candles. Find out how to use this style for a garden wedding on our blog right now!

Incorporate the simplicity of nature by using all greenery for your garden wedding like we did here for a ceremony. Keep it clean using clear holders and plenty of candlelight. Not down with the all green look? Mix in different shades of white for a fresher approach that’s perfect for any time of the year!

Garden wedding inspiration for a fall wedding? We've got tips and tricks how to make this trend unique for your big day. Read the blog and download the free garden wedding venue guide too!

Fall weddings mean deeper colors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden inspired wedding in October. This color combination of deep red and light green with pops of gold will bring your garden wedding to a chic new level. 

What Should Garden Wedding Invitations Look Like?

Your wedding stationery should compliment your entire wedding design. An invitation is the first glimpse into your wedding style that your guests are seeing. Here are a few ways you can let everyone know that your wedding is garden inspired!

Romantic wedding invitations perfect for a chic garden wedding. Get inspiration and a full venue list on the blog!

This pale invitation suite designed by our friends Darling + Pearl is the perfect way to tell your guests they are attending a garden wedding. The organic feel with the whimsical font is just perfect for an outdoor celebration. We really love the sketch of the property that helps guests feel like they are already there!

A boho chic invitation suite that is perfect for an outdoor wedding. Check out the blog for garden wedding inspiration and ways you can make your day unique!

Lauren from Darling + Pearl recommends mixing equal parts carefree script, neutral and natural occurring colors, and floral patterns, (or a really rad crest). Throw the added option of torn edges or a watercolor splash or two and you’re garden ready. 

We love this invitation suite for a modern garden wedding. The deep colors look like a gorgeous floral painting and it's perfect for a romantic garden wedding. Find this invitation and more garden wedding inspiration on our blog, plus venues you need to see for your wedding day!

For a modern garden wedding look, we love this invitation from our friends at Minted. Perfect for those candlelight outdoor weddings using deeper shades of purple, blue and gray. You can see this romantic invitation and plenty more by clicking here!

How Can I Design My Wedding With a Garden Theme?

There are countless options when designing your wedding and plenty of things to think about. Will you use round or long tables? Linens or no linens? What type of glassware and plates will you use? It can get overwhelming very quickly, so here are a few things to keep in mind!
Keep It Natural
Doing too much to make your wedding have that garden feel is never a good idea. Depending on your venue and the type of garden you’re getting married in, you want to stick with that same style. It wouldn’t make sense to have bling and marble pieces in the middle of a rose garden. Pull inspiration from your surroundings and everything will flow together naturally.

We loved designing this boho chic gardenn wedding for our bride and groom and working with all that greenery! Read the blog to get garden wedding inspiration and a list of the best venues for your wedding day!

Mix It Up With Long Tables
A garden is the last place you would find round tables with white linens. Invest in table rentals to really showcase the garden wedding vibe and let your florist create an unforgettable design. Long tables have become so trendy that engaged couples aren’t limited to just one style or color. Gray tables are super hot right now and perfect for those deeper colors. If you find a table you love, ask yourself if you could see it in a garden and go from there.

This jaw-dropping wedding reception table is perfect for the boho chic garden bride. Get inspired for your garden wedding with ideas on our blog!

Dress Up Your Bridesmaids in Garden Wedding Gowns
Just like you want the perfect wedding gown for your garden wedding, your bridesmaids should reflect that same style. A long chiffon gown is formal enough for a chic wedding but relaxed enough for an outdoor garden celebration. 

This romantic pale pink chiffon bridesmaid dress is perfect for an outdoor garden wedding. Get this look and more on our blog today!

We love all of the options our friends at The Dessy Group have, like this chiffon gown that comes in almost every color imaginable!

This romantic bridesmaid dress is perfect for any type of outdoor or garden wedding. You can shop this look and see more backyard wedding inspiration on our blog!

What Are the Pros and Cons to Having a Garden Wedding?

Pro: A huge plus to having a garden wedding is the gorgeous scenery that’s already there. You won’t have to dress up the location as much as you would a ballroom. 


Con: No wedding is without its challenges, but outdoor weddings certainly have the most. We always tell our couples that they need to have a Plan B and they need to love it as much as Plan A. Never commit to a venue that you’ll only love in the sunshine. Know the backup plans and if they don’t make you happy, you haven’t found your garden wedding venue yet.

This garden ceremony was super chic with an arbor draped in white, greenery and plenty of pink roses. We have more garden wedding inspiration up on the blog right now!

Pro: Many garden wedding venues either allow you to bring in an outside caterer or their in house caterer reflects the farm to table style that is so popular. Whatever the case, you’re likely to have amazing food if you have a garden wedding.
Con: Depending on the location, you could be restricted in terms of noise and have to end the party sooner than you would like. Be sure to ask the venues what time the music must end and the guests must leave.

Vintage china and floral table linens were the perfect compliment for this secret garden inspired wedding. See this look and more on our blog where we're showing you how to make your garden wedding unique!

If you’re interested in a garden wedding and want to take the next step, contact us to get started! If you are planning a garden wedding, what are you doing to make your celebration unique? Share with us and other couples in the comments below!

Real Wedding: NYC to The Botanical Gardens

A month into planning the backyard wedding at the home of the bride’s parents was all it took for our couple to realize their special day needed to be at an established venue. With less than six months of time, we worked with Sarah and Jan to scout a new wedding location, design the details and book all of the vendors. Moving quickly, our NYC based bride and groom decided to host their wedding at The New York Botanical Gardens.

Our NYC based bride and groom gave us less than 6 months to plan and design their entire wedding at The New York Botanical Gardens! Read the blog to find out how we did it and get all the gorgeous details.

A New Jersey native, our bride fell in love with her groom while living in New York City. With his family based overseas and a complicated schedule, the best time to host their wedding would give us only 7 total months to plan. The first month was spent planning a backyard wedding at the home of the bride’s parents. After catering interviews, rental discussions and a site visit, the couple opted to look for a wedding venue instead, leaving only 6 months to start all over. 
After countless venue tours, The New York Botanical Gardens was selected for the wedding day. The couple would set up multiple room blocks in Manhattan as well as shuttle service for their 150 guests. With over half the guests traveling from outside of the country, we planned events leading up to the wedding day as well as the day after for a true destination wedding experience. 

Our NYC based bride and groom got ready for their wedding at the beautiful Pierre Hotel next to Central Park. Read the blog for all the day of wedding details!

The Pierre Hotel was the hotel where our bride and groom, along with their parents and wedding party got ready for the big day. The close proximity to Central Park made it an ideal location as first look photos would take place in the city. Once hair and make up was completed, the stage was set at several incredible landmarks for amazing photographs taken by our friends Gabelli Studio

Our bride and groom used plenty of iconic New York City landmarks for their first look photographs on their wedding day. See the amazing captures and all the details of their Botanical Gardens wedding in our blog right now.

From Bow Bridge to Bethesda Terrace, our bride showed off her diamond white lacy wedding gown, while her groom stunned in a fitted and formal black tuxedo. Despite the extreme heat of the day, the couple didn’t seem to mind at all as they snapped over 2 hours worth of photos! 

Our NYC bride and groom took full advantage of the sights of Central Park for their first look photos on their wedding day. Read the blog to see even more and find out how we planned their big day at The New York Botanical Gardens in only six months!

Once photos of our bride and groom were completed in Central Park, they grabbed their wedding party and parents and headed off to the venue. Set-up had already begun at The New York Botanical Gardens and the ceremony design was coming together with lush white roses, flowing greenery and draping at the alter. Once our couple arrived, photos continued with their wedding party, parents and immediate family. The gorgeous grounds provided plenty of places for photos prior to the ceremony and the gardens were in full bloom and filled with butterflies.

The New York Botanical Gardens was the gorgeous backdrop for our bride and groom on their wedding day. See all of the prep pictures and read all of amazing details in our blog!

As guests arrived and photos were completed, the outdoor ceremony was ready. The groomsmen dressed in formal black tuxedos, lined up with the bridesmaids who wore pale blue gowns. The bouquets were shades of white and complimented the overall decor and garden backdrop.

A garden chic wedding with the groomsmen in black tuxedos and the bridesmaids in long pale blue gowns. Check out the gorgeous details from our Botanical Garden wedding on the blog!

A classic garden ceremony for our bride and groom at The New York Botanical Gardens. Read the blog for all the details and romantic pictures!

After the outdoor ceremony concluded, guests walked through the gardens to the Terrace Room for the cocktail hour. Guests enjoyed flutes of champagne and incredible catering by Starr Events. As cocktail hour concluded, the doors opened to the beautiful ballroom that was decorated with tall centerpieces full of white roses and greenery. Place cards were at each setting and incorporated the garden theme with green fern details. 

The chic ballroom at The New York Botanical Gardens that we designed using greenery and white roses for our bride and groom. See all the beautiful details on our blog!

Our bride and groom danced the night away with their guests as one of our preferred bands from EBE played everyone’s favorites. When guests weren’t shaking it on the dance floor, they were playing with props in the photobooth and mingling in the greenhouse space. An elegant all white wedding cake adorned with fresh flowers took center stage before dessert was served. After carefully feeding each other, the bride and groom shared cake and coffee with their guests before ending the reception and kicking off the after party.
How stunning is this all white wedding cake adorned with fresh flowers for our bride and groom's garden wedding? We love these cascading details and you can see this and more on the blog right now!
Even if your initial wedding plans completely change, and you are left with limited time to plan the details, your engagement should be the happiest time of your relationship. It’s important to roll with the punches and be flexible and drink plenty of champagne when you’re stressed out. Of course, having a great wedding planner by your side doesn’t hurt either…
Congratulations to Sarah and Jan!


Real Wedding: A Garden Celebration

A real garden wedding with two ceremonies and plenty of culture, is exactly what our couple Chelsea and Yaw were looking for. Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton, New Jersey, provided the perfect backdrop for their wedding day. Their chic celebration was filled with happiness and joy, as they were surrounded by 160 of their closest friends and family.

This chic real wedding took place at a romantic Princeton venue with a restaurant reception complete with amazing food and endless dancing. See all the details of this swoon-worthy garden wedding we planned and get inspired for your own wedding day!

The Manhattan based couple got ready in their respective hotel rooms before traveling to the venue for their first look. The bride wearing a form fitting gown was the picture of elegance, while her handsome groom rocked an ivory tuxedo jacket against a white shirt and black bow-tie. His boutineer was simple and complimented her romantic all white bouquet, created by our friends at Twisted Willow Flowers.

An all white chic bridal bouquet was the perfect look for our gorgeous bride at her garden wedding. Read the blog to see all the details of this amazing Princeton wedding day we planned!

With countless locations available for their first look at Grounds for Sculpture, Chelsea and Yaw had no problem taking plenty of pictures before their ceremonies. Once Yaw was in place, we walked with our beautiful bride and helped keep the spectators from photo-bombing this special moment. 

The first look at a wedding has to be perfectly timed and in a great location. Check out this garden wedding we planned and how we kept the public from photobombing this romantic moment!

After the first look photo was completed, it was only a few steps to the next location to continue taking photos with our bride and groom. Thankfully, the late summer heat didn’t bother them and the anticipated thunderstorms disappeared before they even happened.

A breathtaking garden wedding at Grounds for Sculpture that we planned for this New York City couple. Read the blog to get the wedding day details and see the chic photos from this celebration!

Once the bride and groom completed their portraits, it was time to include the parents and wedding party. With the groomsmen dressed in formal black tuxedos, the bridesmaids stood out in different dresses that complimented their individual looks. 
A chic garden wedding at Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton, New Jersey with white and green details to die for! Read the blog for wedding day inspiration!
After the pictures were completed, the bride and groom, along with their entire wedding party, headed back inside to change for the first ceremony. To honor the groom’s Ghanaian heritage, along with the wardrobe change was a ceremony infused with music and tradition. 

A Ghanaian ceremony in this real garden wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton New Jersey. See all the details and chic photos from the wedding day in this blog!Amazing details from this Ghanaian ceremony at Grounds for Sculpture. Check out the chic and gorgeous wedding day photos from this garden wedding we planned for our New York City bride and groom!Music for this Ghanaian ceremony honored the heritage of the groom. Check out all of the details from this garden wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture!

Immediately following the Ghanaian ceremony, all of the guests moved to another location so the Western ceremony could begin. Our bride and groom, along with their wedding party, quickly changed out of their Ghanaian garb and back into the traditional clothing they wore for the first look photos. A stunning ceremony and heartfelt vows followed in this amazing space decorated with simple greenery and elegant garden touches. 

A traditional garden ceremony at Grounds for Sculpture complete with elegant and chic florals in white and green. Read more about this wedding on our blog!

Boho chic and totally romantic ceremony florals for a summer wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton. Read the blog to get inspired for your own garden wedding day!

After the two beautiful ceremonies, our couple and their guests headed to Rat’s Restaurant inside Grounds for Sculpture. Guests were treated to a beautiful stroll through the gardens and exhibits along the way, and were greeted by live music and an outdoor and indoor cocktail hour.

Incredible food provided by our friends at Starr Events during a Grounds for Sculpture wedding we planned. Check out the blog for all of the garden wedding details!

Touches of greenery adorned the bars, and the mix of round and long tables were classically designed with white floor length linens, gorgeous garden roses and plenty of candlelight. For an extra treat, guests were able to spend the night dancing under the stars with a unique floor plan designed by our bride and groom.

We used greenery throughout this gorgeous outdoor wedding space to bring together the chic organic feel our bride and groom wanted. Read the blog to get all of the details about this garden wedding day!

A boho chic and rustic upscale wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture included floor length white linens and plenty of white roses, greenery and candlelight. Read the blog for more details about this amazing garden wedding.
The wedding ended with a packed dance floor and heavenly red velvet cake that looked like it grew out of the garden, thanks to our talented friends at Twisted Willow Flowers. Once the party ended, our couple escaped in a vintage convertible Rolls Royce that our friends at RPD All Star provided for them to attend their after party!

This gorgeous boho chic wedding cake was perfect for a garden summer wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture. Check out the white and green details in the blog and get inspired for your own wedding day!

We loved planning and designing with Chelsea and Yaw to help them create the classic and chic wedding they were looking for. Between the unique venue, the culture and tradition, along with incredible decor and design, this is one wedding we’ll never forget!
Congratulations Chelsea and Yaw!

Winter Wedding Inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Totally Need an Engagement Photo Session

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

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

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

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

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

“Why do you like math so much?”

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

-Mean Girls-

Apparently not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because money that’s why.

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

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

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

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

“She doesn’t even go here!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the Source

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

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

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

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

Everywhere. And nothing is awesome either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t even.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“Boo, you whore.”

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

Doesn’t add up, now does it?

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

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

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

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

What a wonderful world.












What Went Wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Your rentals arrived an hour late.

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

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

6. Your groomsmen started a fire.

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

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

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

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

8. Your flowers caught on fire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have no idea.

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

10 Little Wedding Planning Lies

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

Because it’s that easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy planning!

Know Your Numbers

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

“What is your budget?”

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

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

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

1. “I don’t know.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

And for the other answer I receive…

2. “I don’t know what anything costs”

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Know your numbers Step 2: Start planning

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

Stop Calling Yourself a Wedding Planner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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