Ring Shopping Survival Guide

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

1. Look at her jewelry as a guide.

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

2. Go shopping. Together.

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

3. Friends. They Know.

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

4. Budget First.

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

5. Speaking of Listening…

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

6. The Compromises.

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

7. Clarity. Cut. Color. Carat.

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

8. It’s About Her.

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

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

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

10. Insure that thing.

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

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

 

The Controversial Wedding Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on this…

How to Work with a Wedding Planner 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year! Always Bet on R.E.D.

Happy 2015 everyone! We are so excited to get back in the swing of things now that everyone is back from holiday! It was super quiet around here throughout most of December, but now it’s engagement season and we’ve already brought new couples into the R.E.D. family!

2014 was a crazy busy year for us and we kicked it off at The Wilshire Grand as we hosted New Jersey’s first same sex wedding giveaway! We received entries from all across the state, and on January 9, 2014 we announced Kris and Wesley as our winners. Their wedding took place in July 2014 and was a smash hit.

Given how successful our first event was, another venue wanted to show their support for the LGBT community, so we hosted the second annual contest. This year we are planning the wedding for Greg and JP and we can’t wait to give them their special day!

2014 brought us a lot of rustic brides and grooms looking for barns and farms. This was a super popular trend and we have plenty of it in 2015 as well. It’s safe to say that we are the experts in rustic design and decor and we love it! If you are looking to plan that type of wedding, please reach out to us so we can help out.

We also traveled to California to work on a wedding that will be coming to Bravo in the next few weeks. If you’re a fan of the show “Vanderpump Rules”, be sure to check out the amazing wedding of Scheana and Shay this February! We worked with this couple (and they are, by the way, so in love it’s adorable) for their beautiful wedding at Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley, California. Be sure to tune in to see all of the details and drama. PS. It was 100 degrees out!

There are also some amazing trends for weddings in 2015 that we can’t wait to see. Of course, rustic chic is still big, and pink is still a popular color, but we’ll be seeing lots of all white weddings, as well as jewel toned ones in the Fall and Winter. Our couples this year have so many amazing ideas and we can’t wait to show you the pictures!

The first wedding of our year takes place next week in Rivera Maya, Mexico. This couple has been working with us for over a year now and they are taking off in just a few days. If you’re looking to plan a destination wedding, we can help you with every last detail, starting with finding the perfect venue. We want to wish Steve and Cheryl lots of luck as they walk down the sandy aisle and become our first married couple of 2015!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for behind the scenes photos, feature stories, blogs and more! We’re also in the process of updating our website so make sure to check back soon for that.

Happy New Year! Let’s kick some ass!

Danielle Rothweiler
Rothweiler Event Design
….always bet on R.E.D.

The Naughty List

Better watch out…there are some wedding trends from 2014 trying to creep their way into 2015. We want to leave them (we didn’t really like them to begin with) and break into the New Year with amazing ideas and concepts. What trends made it onto the naughty list? We asked you to write in with your thoughts and together we have listed what to avoid on your wedding day!

1. The superhero shirts. We first saw this trend make an appearance in 2013 and it was cute. Once. But once it wound up on Pinterest, suddenly everyone wanted to do it. If you’re unfamiliar with the trend, it basically encompasses all of the groomsmen wearing a superhero shirt underneath their tux and the bridesmaids pulling the shirts back in a cute post-ceremony shot. It was creative and then it was done to death. We would like to see this trend stay in 2014.

2. Crop top wedding gowns. Oh. Wow. Crop tops are super popular…at the club, on the dance floor, for girl’s night out, whatever. We see them on the red carpet, instagram and everywhere else. I love crop tops and I love how creative women are getting with them. Where I don’t want to see them is on a bride. Maybe (and I stress that word) for a reception party gown, or for the “getaway” gown brides leave in after their reception, then it’s OK. But there is this traditional side to me that says that I don’t want to see your crop top walk down the aisle. If you have a fierce body, I am all about accentuating it (tastefully) and there are hundreds of other ways to do it. You might look good, it might be different, but your gown will be in 90% of your photos and 25 years from now, you want to look classic and not trendy. They didn’t have puffy paint gowns in the 80s, so this shouldn’t exist either. 

3. Smoke on the dance floor. Coming in on a cloud of smoke? Please don’t. You’re not floating or flying. It’s something we see at Sweet 16s and Mitzvahs and it’s fun at those parties. For your wedding there are so many ways to create a grand entrance that don’t involve a fog machine. Leave this for the kids and work with your planner to create the “wow” factor without the stratus clouds.

4. Money dances. Why? Why is this still being done? We had numerous people write in saying that they attended weddings with money dances and they didn’t know what was going on. This tradition started in Poland and offered the men at the wedding a chance to “pay” to dance with the bride. I am far from a hardcore feminist but even I find that a little strange. Money can be pinned to the bride’s gown (do you really want your gown pinned…by people that are drinking?) or put on her veil, or in an apron…or her shoes. There are many variations depending on what country you talk to. We would like to see this all go. Weddings are expensive, people are already bringing you gifts…you’re now asking for cash to be thrown at you while you dance. That’s what happens at the Bachelor Party too, FYI. Odds are your guests have given you a card which might contain cash…when the money dance comes up, if they feel pressured, we have seen guests go to their cards and grab that cash to be used. We have then seen the bride freak out because there’s nothing in the envelopes. Well….it’s on your dress. So, let’s just not do this anymore, ok?

5. Hashtag LOVE FOREVER AT THIS WEDDING. Social media has taken over. In fact, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction, that we have many couples asking us to collect cell phones before the ceremony. They don’t want pictures winding up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else. In fact, they’ve even gone so far as to hire a professional photographer to make sure they get to see images from their big day. In 2014, we worked with couples to come up with a creative hashtag so that guests posting on social media could all do so under one album. In 2015, we’re hashtag over it. Include a note in your programs asking your guests to refrain from posting to social media. It’s bad enough when they are in the picture that your professional photographer is taking (waving their iPhone), but it’s worse when it’s on a social network and being shared by someone other than the bride and groom. 

6. Mustaches. I never really understood this. Is it funny? Is it cute? It’s a mustache….tied to a straw or whatever. Does it mean something? Whatever the purpose, it doesn’t matter. Let’s leave it in 2014 to never be seen again.

7. Ombre. Never been a fan of ombre hair, but ombre cakes, dresses, and so forth, that’s a different story. It’s a great way to not commit to particular colors (who wants to make a commitment on a wedding day?…pause for laughter), but everyone has figured it out. This is a trend that we really loved creating, but we’re happy to say that not a single bride has mentioned it for 2015. We’re hoping that it stays that way. Wishin’ and a hopin’.

8. Wedding tattoos. OMG stop the madness. There is this constant pressure on brides and grooms to “entertain” their guests. You know what’s entertaining? Good music, lots of dancing and an open bar. It’s not a circus and you don’t need “things to do” at a wedding. It’s a block of hours to take shots with your friends and family and tear it up on the dance floor. However, we started seeing (and now cannot unsee) tattoo “bars” at weddings. We have seen fake tattoos like the ones you get as a 6 year old at the circus and real tattoos. Yes, real tattoos being done by a licensed tattoo artist, at a wedding. This should not be happening. It’s just weird. 

Those are our (and yours) Top 8 trends that are on the naughty list! We’ve seen them, we’ve done them, and now it’s time to say “Bye Felicia” to all of them.

What else would you like to see go in 2015? Share with us in the comments below!

Bachelorette Party. That’ll be $2,000.

You’re a bridesmaid and there are the typical expenses: your dress, your shoes, your hair and make up, throwing a shower…and now, throwing a Bachelorette Party. The concept of the Bachelorette Party is so new, that my computer literally doesn’t recognize it and changes it to “Bachelor” every time I type it. But I digress…

This party is to honor the bride with the idea that it’s her last “girl’s night out” and that all fun will cease to exist and there will be no more excursions to strip clubs (like you were going there on the regular anyway) once she says “I do.” Frequently, we assist our clients and their bridal party with planning the perfect party. Now, however, it involves travel agents and airline reservations. Furthermore, we start getting emails and phone calls from the maid of honor or any of the bridesmaids complaining about the price tag and putting us in the middle, when really, the bride, is our client. 

Frankly, my own Bachelorette Party was a small disaster and it made me happy that it was the end of my “girl’s night outs” especially since I was never *that* girl to begin with. I’m more of a “lady who lunches” than a “fly to Vegas to get shitfaced” type of chick.

That’s right, I said “fly”. More and more I am hearing these stories about brides who are *demanding* a 3-5 day trip to somewhere warm that requires an airplane. This can be anything from the Dominican Republic to Vegas to Napa to Cancun. You know what this is also known as? Spring Fucking Break. Didn’t you do that already? 

Is it clear what my opinion is on these types of trips?

When you take on the duty of being in a wedding party, you are expected to swallow the fact that you will have to pay for certain things. No, this doesn’t give the bride the right to select $500 bridesmaid dresses, but you do have to expect to pay up or shut up in many circumstances.

How much though, is too much? I posted on my Facebook to get some answers from brides, their maids and just the general public. And in case there is any confusion, the vodka in NYC tastes the same as the vodka in Vegas and this woman right here is not getting on a plane to celebrate the end of your single life. Nope. Don’t ask me.

Many of the people that spoke to me told me that they would be happy with a night out for dinner and dancing and yes sometimes a strip club. Others opted for a full weekend of shopping and spa treatments and yes, a hotel stay. Close to 100% wanted to book a party bus to avoid the whole “drinking and driving” stuff, which I think is the wisest investment you can make for one of these things.

Here are some quotes from brides we know:
Do not want one, not having one, and would NEVER expect anyone to spend insane amounts of money for one!”
And what happened to a fun night out?? Why does it have to be a whole weekend?????”
And whether we like it or not, as brides, it is our responsibility to consider the economic situations of our bridal party members before demanding big-ass bachelorette parties, bridal showers in country clubs, or $400 bridesmaid dresses.”

Here are some quotes from people we know that are going to/are invited to these parties:
Considering on the weekend in AC (Atlantic City) a room goes for about 200-250 I’d say thats an enormous amount, even if you split that a few ways, you also have to consider the dinner, partying, and things you might buy the bride. That could run you 300 hundred easy. That’s a lot of money when you can just go to dinner,or a place more local.”
My childhood friend had her whole bridal party go to Mexico for a 4day weekend. I didn’t go because it was too expensive.”
…..$500- $1000 pp for a weekend is just too much! After already spending close to that to be a part of the bridal party.”
I couldn’t AFFORD to go to Texas for a 4 day weekend and pay for both my flight, food/drinks, hotel, AND a portion of all of that for the bride. There was no way! The way they laid it out, it was going to cost me two months’ salary. I was devastated.”

Then there is an opinion of a bride, now married, that had a party in sunny Key West:
After bridesmaid indecisiveness over where to go, my girls planned a trip to Key West. Flight then 4 hour road trip to a house. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Laying on the beach, scarfing down seafood, and bike riding and drinking. Besides being extremely fun, we would take different parts during the day and have serious talks about life, our past, hopes for the future. I found out things I’ve never known about girls that have been in my life for 10 and 20 years. It was a great bonding experience. As far as traveling, they paid for my flight, though I would have paid my way. I would do the same for any of them. We have jobs, bills, and obligations, but the fact that we were all childless is a big plus in being able to make a trip like that work.”

Currently, I am inundated with emails from MOHs telling me that planning just a simple night out is not going well because people don’t want to spend the money for transportation…their total bill? Around $200-$300. So, if that’s too much, getting on a plane is going to be out of the question for most. 

What does all of this mean? I think a few things:

1. Plan this in advance. Yes, you should factor in the bride’s opinion, but if she is expecting a full ski weekend in Switzerland, someone has to bring her back down to Earth. It’s like when I have a bride that wants to get married on Memorial Day Weekend…I tell them that many people won’t show up, and then *they* decide if they want to keep the date or change it. At least warn the bride of the possibilities of not only a small guest list, but a possible bitter one.

2. Factor in the lives of those being invited. Are the women attending already married? Do they already have children? How flexible is their schedule? I will say this, as a wife, mother and business owner, if I have a spare moment for a vacation (usually 1 every 3 years) it’s going to be with my family, not taking body shots in Cancun off of a bride. Look at the people you are inviting.

3. What are the wedding party expenses already adding up to? Are the gowns expensive? Is this a destination wedding? What’s the grand total you are asking these people to already spend before this trip? 

4. What would *you* do if you weren’t the bride? Would you go on this trip? 

5. If you are invited and you do commit to going, do not be a bitter bitch and pout the entire time. This means, no bitching about the costs, what it takes to get there, trying to change plans so that the costs come down…none of that. If you say “yes” you say “yes” to it all. If you know that you can’t show up without being Debbie Downer, then decline and stay home. 

6. Be realistic. If you’re in the wedding party, you agreed to a magical floating contract that isn’t in writing. You agreed to wear the dress you’re put in and pay for it, you agreed to share bridal shower expenses if the mother isn’t picking up the tab, and you agreed to a Bachelorette Party. Everyone has financial issues and obligations and the bottom line is this: if you cannot afford these things, politely decline being in the party. Nothing is worse than a MOH or bridesmaid that just doesn’t show up to these events and isn’t a part of them. You agreed to it, so suck it up buttercup.

What do you think? Are you a bride getting ready for her weekend away? Did you have a sick Bachelorette Party and think every bride should demand the same? We know you have an opinion, so please share in our comment section below!       



 

I’m goin’ to get married, bitch!


It’s official, Snooki is married. In a traditional church ceremony (we called it) and a formal non-cheetah print reception (we called that too!). Nicole and Jionni were married this past Saturday. I must have hit the “refresh” button 100 times on Sunday morning until pictures finally were posted. Much to my dismay, the only pictures anywhere to be seen were just wardrobe related. While I’m dying to see how this Gatsby-themed party actually looked, I am certainly happy to throw my two cents in about everything else.

First and foremost, can we all take a minute to applaud Nicole for not only selecting two outstanding and classy wedding designers (Eve of Milady and Ines di Santo) for her gowns, but for also putting her bridesmaids in form-fitting black dresses? A class act all of the way! I also want to say a huge “I told you so” to every planner, florist, “expert” and so forth – that had her going all “Jersey” for her style. Major kudos for not putting her bridesmaids in leopard anything. Winner.

Many brides cannot afford two gowns but we have plenty that wish they could. Clearly, Nicole wanted a gown to get married in, and a gown to party in. If you have been living under a rock, you probably didn’t know that Nicole is no longer a meatball but a thin, fit and healthy woman with an outstanding body. What woman wouldn’t want to show that off?

This is why we’re confused that both of the dresses didn’t accentuate her body.  In fact, they covered it all up. Don’t get me wrong: conservative dresses are totally OK by me, but they need to fit you. The first picture I saw was Nicole in her ceremony gown and while the details were beautiful, I just shrugged my shoulders and said (outloud) “this is it?” This was what I was waiting for? It’s fine and all, but it was underwhelming. The straps needed to be tighter and the waist of the gown should’ve been brought in at least another inch. This dress needed an alteration the week of the wedding and if it was altered, it wasn’t done well.

Then I saw that she had a second gown and it was designed by Ines di Santo. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know that Ines di Santo is my favorite designer and I declared her the winner of Bridal Fashion Week, Spring 2015. That said, I had high hopes that Snooki’s reception gown was going to stop traffic.

I was wrong.

I was so bored with this gown on her and I was really hoping that she pulled a Kim K and had a third gown lined up. The di Santo gown was in a whole different league than the ceremony gown was, but it wasn’t the right gown for her AND it didn’t fit. It swallowed up her tiny body and it wasn’t really the party dress she described it as. Reportedly, it had a removable skirt, but there are no pictures yet to back that up. That skirt, by the way, was a drop waist and it really needed to either be pulled up or dropped altogether. I would’ve put her in to something more fitted, flattering and less poufy for the reception. Ines di Santo doesn’t make bad gowns, this gown was just bad for her. Between the silk taffetta and the pleated skirt, this dress is not made for petite women.
Here is the gown on the runway:

The dresses were bought from the same store, and were probably altered by the same person. The bust of the reception gown was not fitted enough and you can see the gap between her skin and the dress. This is a common problem with strapless gowns and the only way to fix this is to get it altered as close to the wedding day as possible. Many brides will lose anywhere from 2-5 pounds the week of the wedding, so last minute alterations have to be done!

Her bridesmaid dresses were on point though! Black, form-fitting mermaid gowns were not only perfect for her theme, but classic and elegant. With such a huge wedding party, Nicole was smart to put her ladies in something simple so that it wasn’t a hot mess of fabrics and patterns.

What else do we know? She hired a band (I LOVE that), held her reception at The Venetian in Garfield, NJ (love that too), and used a bouquet of bling (love love love) instead of traditional flowers. She also had an After Party with unhealthy fried food which is a huge trend that everyone should be doing. What we don’t know is what the decor and centerpieces looked like, if she had an entrance and what the rest of the details were. This just means that this is just part one of our blog about Snooki’s wedding.

Looking forward to seeing more pictures and absolutely can not wait to see the entire day unfold on the last season of ‘Snooki and JWoww’.

What did you think of the dresses? Were you expecting something else? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section!

Soda. Yummy.

Happy Friday everybody! Here comes the “ruffle some feathers” blog of the week. The topic? Open bar? Necessary at a wedding?

YES. IT. IS.

We’re seeing a whole lot of blog posts on other wedding sites go up this week asking the question if people are having an open bar and is it OK not to offer one. We’re also reading plenty of comments that basically say “if people need to drink at your wedding, then they are alcoholics.”

Paint me “alcoholic” then. Anyway…

It’s a wedding, and an open bar, or at the very least: wine, beer and a signature drink is *mandatory*.

There is the argument that open bar or alcohol is expensive. Right, but so are plenty of other things that you can cut down on when planning a wedding. The bar is not where you cut costs. We manage to save our clients money in every other category, but this is something we insist that they don’t skimp out on. You can change your decor, cut your guest list, pick a less expensive time of year to get married…the list goes on. What you can’t do is cut the alcohol. Diet Coke with dinner? Bad.

We also saw the argument that “my fiance and I don’t drink” for not offering a bar. Whatever the reason is that you don’t drink is fine, but you two are not the only people at the wedding. That’s like offering soy everything because you’re a vegetarian. Vegetarians eat soy, right? You have to cater to your guests. That’s why it’s called “catering”. Your guests aren’t necessarily looking to get wasted (though plenty will), but they do not want to have a soda with their chicken, beef or fish either.

Then there was the “if people don’t want to come because there won’t be alcohol, then I don’t want them there,” argument. Yes, you do want them there, or else you would not have invited them. Do you want your guests to pick vodka over you? This is a bad time to stand on ceremony and see who your “real friends” are. If it’s a dry wedding, make sure that is clear in the invitation and that way your guests aren’t surprised when they go to order a Pinot Grigio and are handed a Shirley Temple. Flask anyone?

The only thing worse than a dry wedding is a cash bar. STOP. THIS. MADNESS. Your guests are coming to celebrate your marriage and are spending the entire day with you. There are travel expenses (no matter how small), other things they could be doing, and a gift they will be giving you. To slap them in the face with a “that’ll be $12” comment from your bartender is in really poor taste. Your guests should never have to take their wallets out at your wedding. Everything is included. They want to tip the bartender, the valet, the coat check, that’s on them. However, paying for their drinks is so tacky and we hate it. We forbid you to have a cash bar.

That’s really all there is to say on this. We know, we know, plenty of people will be up in arms over this but we have Emily Post on our sides on this one….and plenty of major wedding magazine editors, too. 

Team Open Bar.

Got Photographer. Got Photos?

Finding the perfect photographer for your wedding or next big event can be a daunting task. Pretty much anyone can label themselves as a photographer now, so the first step is to find the professional amidst a sea of amateurs. Once you’ve done that, it’s all easy right? Not if you’re one of those people that thinks they are getting all of those pictures on a disc as soon as the event is over. Here comes trouble for you…that is, if you don’t read this blog.

Many photographers we work with offer up various package options. In these packages you will see items like parent albums, engagement portraits, and other types of printing services. Now, you might be the person that only wants the pictures and would be find with them all sitting on a flash drive so that you can upload them to Facebook when you feel like it. Many people, however, want to use those photos in some sort of print form. Maybe they will be the “save the date” or invitation cover, perhaps they will be printed to hang above a mantel, or maybe they want an album for themselves or their parents. File all of that under “the photographer’s job”.

Yeah, sorry, but not too many photographers will be keen on the idea of handing you over raw files so that you can go print up a book on Snapfish. How unreasonable! It’s ridiculous for what they are charging! Right? Wrong.

You hired a professional photographer so that your pictures will come out kick ass. After all, why are you spending all of that money on design, decor and wardrobe just to have some hack job with a big flash and long lens not take a single good picture? If it’s that easy to realize that your photographer needs to be a good shot, then it should be even easier to understand that they want their work represented well.

If you take a picture that your photographer shot, and upload it to a picture book making site, the resolution is going to suck. Sorry, but there is no nicer way to say it. No matter how you choose to print it, whether you do it at home, at a store or send it off to some website, the picture will be grainy or blurry or distorted, but the bottom line is, it is NOT what you paid for. Now, the photographer’s work looks like garbage because you didn’t ask them to print it for you.

I could get into copyright issues here, but it’s boring and if you are really annoyed with all of this, you will probably google it. 

I’ve seen (and heard) many people start arguments with photographers that they “paid for” the prints, when in actuality, they didn’t. They paid for the session and whatever else was in their package. My advice is to read the contract that the photographer gives you and truly understand it. If you don’t understand it (and if you are assuming things) then speak with the photographer to make sure you are all on the same page. 

Are there photographers that will give you your hi-res images on a disc? Absolutely. We think those images belong on your social media pages and should be emailed to anyone you want. We do not think those images should be printed. If you want them printed, go back to the photographer and work it out. 

It’s expensive? Yes, it probably is. But, in the long run, you want those images to look as perfect as the possibly can be. The only way to accomplish this is to go back to the photographer and talk to them about how to get your printing needs me. Whether it’s before or after the party, it doesn’t matter, but you should always go to the photographer about this.

Surely this blog has ruffled some feathers or those planning and already stretching their budgets. We’re sorry, but this is something that had to be said. Too many blogs are out there stating that photographers basically “owe” their clients photos, when that is a lie.

The Guest’s Guide to Giving

Giving a gift to a couple for their wedding sometimes proves to be a difficult task for guests to accomplish. I am frequently asked what my recommendations are for a good gift to give a couple. I am also frequently told by my clients about the gifts they received that they hated, and worse yet, the gifts they never received from people that attended (drank and ate at) their weddings. Thus, here is today’s blog.

First and foremost, is the couple registered anywhere? There are a few ways to find this out. Google is this nifty little website where you can search out things on the internet. Put in the couple’s name, the word “wedding” and see what happens. If they are on www.theknot.com like many other couples, their registry will pop right up (if they have one). Of course, you could also go straight to TheKnot.com and use their search function to find the couple’s registry and wedding information. 

If nothing comes up, then flat out ask the couple if they are registered. If they didn’t include a registry note with their invitation, they might have completed their registry after they sent out their mail. Trust me, if a couple is registered, they want you to know.

Once you have their registry, buy from it. I cannot tell you the amount of people that look at a registry list (and it could be a mile long) and say to me that they hate everything on there. Well good thing the gift isn’t for you! A cardinal sin would be to buy something from the store they are registered at but ISN’T on the registry. Put down that Waterford bowl because they did not ask for it.  You think they will love it anyway? I doubt it. Oh, they can return it if they don’t? How nice of you to give them a gift they didn’t want and then force them to bring it back to the store (because you have a lot of down time when planning a wedding) to get whatever credit they can. Do you like making store returns? Those lines at the register and the banter back and forth are your thing? I didn’t think so.

BUY. FROM. THE. REGISTRY.

Now, no registry? No worries. That means they want money. That does not mean for you to go shopping somewhere else for *that gift* that they must have. Unless you are amazingly creative (and I mean really be honest with yourself), then do the easy thing that they want you to do: write out a check. At almost every single wedding there is a card box put out on a table. As soon as you get to the reception, drop your card off in the box and boom, you’re done! That card needs to have a check in it. Seriously. A card with no check is no bueno. 

Money isn’t personal? They don’t care. Really, trust me. I have never had clients complain to me about all of the checks they received at their wedding. Instead, they are putting that money to pay for whatever wedding expenses are left, or to a new house, or to other items that weren’t purchased off their registry because Aunt Millie was super positive they wanted a particular slow cooker that they did not ask for. 

Worst of the worst offenses: not giving a gift. I don’t understand it, at all. Yes, there is this little bit of etiquette that states a guest has up to a year to give a gift after the wedding. I disagree with Emily Post right here. There is no reason to wait to give a gift. If you’re having monetary issues, then speak with the couple and let them know. Don’t play slick, show up to their wedding, drink their alcohol and eat the venue food that probably cost upwards of $150 for just you, and then not give a gift that same exact night. They had to pay for you in advance so you best show up with a gift.

Last piece of advice: don’t leave your card on the table. While our clients don’t have to worry about this, since we check the tables and hand deliver the card box to the person or place of our client’s choosing, not everyone hires us (super weird, right?). If you leave your card on the table, odds are that the catering staff will wrap it up in the linens at the end of the night and your card will wind up in the laundry. Meaning you won’t get a thank you note from the couple and that just leads to years of awkward run-ins where they want to ask why you didn’t give anything and you want to ask why they didn’t thank you. 

That about covers the gift giving advice that we can offer. We hope that couples will share this as they plan their wedding because the truth is, a lot of guests don’t know right from wrong. Education is important. The more you know….