Cheers and Jeers

Ah, the wedding toast…..s.  Do you take the sentimental route and pray that you have everyone crying? Do you play stand up comedian and hope for roaring laughter? Do you go up to the microphone with your i(way too big to be holding and you look ridiculous)Pad in front of your face the entire time?

Toasts are interesting at any type of event. They should be reserved for the person (notice how I said “person” and not “people”) closest to you that speaks the most eloquently. The person that will not be too wasted to speak. The person that will not reveal secrets that you thought were, ya know, secret. This person could be a parent, best friend, best man, uncle, sister, brother, college roomate…that’s right, there are no rules so you do not have to feel obligated to let Cousin Kenny rattle off for hours just because you two grew up together. 

As a planner, I am frequently asked to review toasts ahead of time. I’m happy to edit them and give commentary, but 9 times out of 10, if they needed reviewing, the toaster is going to ignore every last word of advice that I give. I have heard it all and while you are probably reading this thinking “that isn’t going to happen to me”, trust me, it can and it very well might.

Example of an actual conversation I had:

DJ: Hey, I was handed this (shows me $20) by some guy that wants to give a toast when everyone is done.
Me: Absolutely not. There are already too many toasts and if the couple wanted to hear this person, they wouldn’t be bribing you to speak. 
***15 minutes later***
DJ: I’d like to welcome (name of person that bribed the DJ $20 to speak) up to the microphone.

Know what happened? That person embarrassed not just the bride but plenty of other people. There were details that were told that should only be shared on an episode of “Maury”. Now, the DJ…he’s another story (and had never done a wedding before), but it was an impossible situation and unless someone was going to tackle the microphone from this guy (that’s not our job by the way), he was going to finish his speech.

Frequently people get nervous when a microphone is in their face and they will make jokes to ease the situation. If they are funny, then great.  It is your job to select a person that has a certain level of wit that they will still be able to use while under the pressure of delivering a toast at your wedding.

Another issue? Most times, the toast is too damn long. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have wanted to cue the musicians to start playing (ala any awards show) and have the speaker escorted off the stage. A toast needs to be practiced in front of other people who will give their honest opinions. 

Which brings me to another point: a toast cannot be written on the same day of the event. If you are giving a toast, please respect that honor by taking time to put it together. It is highly unlikely that the vows are written on the day of, and your toast shouldn’t be either. In fact, your first draft should never be your last draft. 

Please do not bring your iPad up with you. In fact, write your speech on an index card (one side) and bring that up with you. You do not need to memorize anything and you will feel more comfortable with the paper in your hand, even if you never look at it.

Ironically, one of the best toasts I have ever seen was performed (yes, performed) by the bride’s sisters. It was around 4 minutes in length and was funny, thoughtful and clearly took at least a month’s worth of work. Everyone was in awe, laughing and crying. It was perfect. Of course, this is an exception to the time limit suggestion, but when you work on a toast like they did, time didn’t matter.

Toasts should be done early in the evening so that the party can get started and so that the toaster can have a few more cocktails. I have been approached by many a maid of honor asking when her toast was, and I had to tell her “not until the cake cutting”…..the response is always the same, “well, if I’m sober enough by then.”

Finally, when deciding whom to ask to give a toast, make sure you are giving that person enough time. 2 months prior to the event is the minimum amount of time a person will need to really put together something thoughtful.

Of course, make sure that your caterer has your glasses of champagne filled up when the toast is ready to go! 

Good luck and cheers!

Do not spend your entire budget on the venue. Don’t do it.

50%

See that number?

That is the amount of your budget that you are allowed to spend on your venue. Not 51%.

In party planning, we often see our clients (and the clients that no longer have the budget to afford a party planner….or anything else) get remorseful when they realize that they have spent over 50% of their budget on the venue. Foolishly thinking that they will be able to cut back on literally everything else, the client puts down the deposit for the venue in which 4-5 hours of the entire day will take place. 

Then they travel from vendor to vendor (including party planners aka us) and have that “uh-oh” moment. It goes like this:

“Uh-oh, everything costs HOW much??”

Yup.

Now, you have this beautiful venue, congrats. How do you pay to decorate it? What money are you using to take photographs and video of it? Will you be robbing a bank to afford a planner to come in and find everything for you at rock bottom costs because you just spent everything you had on a room to dance in? Who is available at the lowest cost to provide said music to dance to?

We know planning a party is exciting. That’s why we do what we do. However, you have to take a minute and come back down to planet Earth. After the initial “OMG yay, it’s time to pick a date and plan a party and pin absolutely everything ever”, take a breath and lay out your budget.

$100,000 total to spend? Great, your venue sees $50k or less. NOT A PENNY MORE. You will be very surprised to find out what everything costs, and that natural high you were just on will fade quickly and the planing process will become very stressful. 

While I would prefer to be the first stop on the planning express (aka: come see me before you select a venue please), that isn’t always the case. Frequently, a client will come to my office and reveal where their party is taking place. Odds are, I will know what the venue costs, and I will want to discuss your overall budget and what your vision is for the day. It will boggle my mind (and the photographers/bands/djs/florists/etc. you’re interviewing) if you try to nickle and dime and imply that my pricing is out of your budget. You know what is out of your budget? Your venue.

You have now spent yourself right out of those top notch vendors that you probably wanted. 

Uh-oh. All aboard the train to “have to settle-ville”.

We do not believe that a party should throw anyone into debt. You should put together a budget and stick with it. That said, if you have 50% of your budget to spend on everything else once your venue is selected, you have a very good shot at getting those vendors that you want for party day. You have a chance of even having some money left over which you can then put back into your venue or caterer for that all sushi and seafood hour you originally didn’t pay for.

The easiest way to do this (besides coming directly to my office when you’re ready to get started) is to figure out your budget, cut the number in half, and figure out what the “per person” cost will be. Do not step foot into venues that are over that per person rate and make sure you have factored in tax and service (that’s 7% and 20-22% in New Jersey) for your final number. 

Hint hint: I know what venues are $90 per person and what venues are $300 per person. Just like I won’t allow my brides to try on dresses that are outside of their budget, I will not recommend a venue that they cannot afford either. That’s just mean.

So there you have it. 50% is your magical number. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Say “yes” to the dress, and “no” to the entourage

Over the years one of the most common frustrations that our brides have, is listening to the opinions of her bridal party. When planning a wedding, almost everyone feels they have a right to throw in their two cents (even when they aren’t literally throwing in any cents) and most think they are being “helpful”. Message to those people: you’re not being helpful and you’re probably stressing the bride out. Stand aside, smile, and read on. Oh, and if you’re that bride that doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of others, and thus brings 97 people with her to the dress shop, this blog is also dedicated to you.

Recently, I have heard more and more complaints from brides (and even some of their grooms) about how their sister, mother, BFF, and every person wearing a dress in their party, is driving them nuts. They know this going into the planning process, and yet, they bring all of these people with them to 2 appointments: their wedding gown search and their bridesmaid gown search. Leave these people at home.

First and foremost, the dress shops hate entourages. You know why? They slow down the appointment, they take attention away from you, and they typically result in the bride leaving sans dress plus tears. I’m not saying that you need to dismiss what your loved ones think you should wear down the aisle, but I caution you that everyone (except for your planner….hi) has an ulterior motive. It could be as basic as your sister doesn’t like that you always look hotter/thinner/sexier/younger/better than her in everything, and now a white gown will really emphasize that. Yes, that’s right, jealousy plays a big part in dress selection and do not tell me otherwise. When shopping for your gown, keep your group small (under 3 people) and make sure they are people that know when to say something and when to shut up. If you say that you love the dress and they don’t say that they love it too, you need them to exit stage left because that negativity will follow you for the rest of the planning process. Hear that bridesmaids? She loves it, then you love it. So easy.

Let’s say though, that you’re that bride that has the bestest friends ever in the whole wide world that only ever want the bestest for you. Do not bring all 19 of them with you to the appointment because as much as they might love you, unless they are stepford wives with the completely same wardrobe, they will never agree on *the* dress for you. What good does it do you to hear all of those different opinions? You know which opinion matters? Yours. 

Of course, when picking out the bridal party wardrobe, it used to be that the bride would select a gown and then her maids would go get measured and that would be it. There’s was no input and guess what…they still had to pay for the dress! When you accept to be in a bridal party you are accepting the price tag and obligations that go along with it. Note: that does not give the bride the right to nothing but $500 unflattering gown choices. 

Now, however, brides are bringing their entire bridal party with them to try on dresses. This makes sense if you have all different body types and want to see what looks best on everyone. However, I will warn you about that friend that hates everything, and that friend that hates everything *except* the one dress that everyone else hates. You must be prepared to draw the line. Solution? Select a few dresses on your own or with your maid of honor by your side. Come back to the salon with only those dresses available to try on. Do not allow your maids to ransack the racks looking for something else. This is not only bad form and the store will be rightfully upset, but it’s unnecessary. 

With being a bride comes making decisions and standing firm. It’s polite to listen to what others have to say, but you will always have to know when to put them on mute. If you don’t, your planning process will be painful and you’ll be showing future brides this blog after you’re married. 

And for the bridesmaids that are reading this: it’s not your wedding. When you have your day, then fine. If you had your day already, then you should understand. But it’s her day, and unless she looks like she could have her own episode on Bridezillas, then you need to show support and love….and smile like you mean it.

Yes, hire a videographer.

I hear a lot of event planners telling their clients, and just telling people in general, that the best way to save money on your event is to cut the videographer. To those planners, I say this: stop talking. Videography is essential to every single party in your life. It is not what you cut to save money (take a whack at your guest list first) and I’m going to tell you why.

First and foremost, a videographer/cinematographer can capture moments that the photographers simply can’t capture. From those little moments that you miss because you can’t be everywhere, to the way your dress moves as you walk down the aisle. Photography is great, but videography fills in the gaps that it misses.

I hear, all the time, “when am I ever going to watch this?” When? Awesome, I’m glad you asked. I don’t know. But what I do know, if after that initial “watch it immediately and show it to everyone you love” the DVD will wind up on a shelf. There is no telling the next time that you will want to watch it. But here are some likely scenarios:

1. An anniversary where you want to relive those vows and first dance.
2. Time with a family member or a friend that wasn’t able to make it, but wants to see the video.
3. When your kids want to see how silly mommy and daddy looked on their wedding that was “forever” ago.
4. On a snowy night when you don’t want to leave the house but would prefer to cuddle up with your spouse.
5. A rough patch when you’re at each other’s throats and need to remember that love that you had and still have.
6. When you want to show off how fabulous everyone looked and what a great time everyone had.
7. Just because.

There is no replacing videography. It is not what you cut from your wedding wish list in order to save money. 300 guests isn’t necessary, but videography is. And no, someone taking video with their iPhone isn’t a substitute (save that for Friday night happy hour) for video…or for photos for that matter.

Don’t believe us? Check out this amazing short clip that we worked on with Gabelli Studio. Then tell me that you don’t want something just like it. 

http://www.gabellicinema.com/

You’re welcome.

The Bloom is Off the Rose

One of the appointments that we accompany our clients to is the florist appointment. We see a lot of people struggle to convey their vision for flowers on the big day, so we act as the translator and offer up some ideas of our own. It’s also important for us to be there because the florist will ask questions that our clients might not know the answer to. And hey, we love to play with flowers and get creative, so that’s a bonus. 

We work with some of the best florists in the world. Thankfully, we are in an area with florists are at the top of their game and there is a “right one” out there for every client. We believe in having a good energy vibe with all vendors, but especially with those that will be responsible for carrying out your vision. Recently, we got stuck by a thorn.

Sometimes our events take us into brand new areas, which means working with brand new people. In one recent case, that meant using a florist we have never worked with before. Scary, but that’s how you meet new talent! 

Getting a date on the calendar where we could be there at the same time as our clients and the florist, was no easy task. It took awhile but we finally came together on the date. The florist was very close to the venue, so for myself and for my clients, that meant a one way 1.5-2 hour drive. With our appointment booked for 12pm, we were set.

Except at 9:43am, I received an email (not a phone call, an email) from the florist saying that she would not be there, but someone else would be taking care of us. 

That. Is. Unacceptable. Why? Because we have been working extensively with one person and it took forever and a year to get a date on the calendar that we all could agree to. But now, it’s too late because I knew my clients were already on their way out there and I wasn’t far behind. 

I have a rule: if it doesn’t bother my clients, it doesn’t bother me. I probably will deal with it after the event or never work with that person again, but I can bite my tongue in the meantime. 

We show up and needless to say, my clients are not happy. Their disappointment is not just from finding out that the person that committed to the appointment is not here, but that the person in her place had no idea what was going on and simply responded that she would have to ask the person we were supposed to meet with.

Well, then why are we even here?

In case you’re wondering, there was no emergency keeping the florist away, she just made other plans. Seriously. That’s what happened.

After we walked outside, my clients really expressed to me how unhappy they were and how they pretty much killed their day for nothing. They asked if I could work something out and of course, I was happy to.

Composing my thoughts in an email, I politely explained why this was disappointing and how a phone call would’ve been the way to go. I expected to get something, anything in return. An apology, an offer for a complimentary bouquet, whatever.

What I got, was this: “Clearly this location is too far for you, so maybe you should just select another florist.”

Yes. That was the response. 

The bottom line is this: If you say you’re going to be at an appointment, you need to be at that appointment. If you’re sending in your understudy, you need to pick up the phone with some advance notice. An email 15 minutes before we begin the journey is not acceptable. It’s just not. 

Needless to say, I found us another florist. With better pricing, better flowers and a better attitude. 

There are some weeds out there. We’re armed with weed killer.

Photo: Rockandrollbride.com

You’re Harder to Reach than the Pope. *Update*

One of the many things we offer our clients is working with them to block hotel rooms for their guests. This includes finding the perfect hotel that offers the amenities they want including: an on site restaurant (with the menu they like), a bar, a pool, a fitness center, late check out, shuttle service (preferably included in their rate), various types of rooms and much much more. Once we have acceptable hotels, we then present the options to our clients for them to make a selection, so that all they have to do is pick one, sign a contract and be done. Let me share what happened last week into this week and what is still ongoing with one particular hotel….

One of our clients with a destination wedding is requiring hotel rooms for some of their guests. They aren’t very specific on what they want, and none of their requests are unreasonable. With their “must haves” in hand, I began to reach out to various hotels in the area of their venue to start putting together comparisons for my client to review. Two out of three hotels got back to me within 48 hours. But here is what happened (and is still happening) with the third:

Our office called this particular hotel 4 times last week between Tuesday and Friday. We were told that we needed to speak with “Jenna” (that’s not really her name) and she was the only person that could help us. The first time we left a voicemail. The second time we called back we were told that we just missed her and the person at the desk handwrote a message. The third time we called back we were told that she was not in the entire week but that we should email her because she works from home. Yes, a sales/group manager for a major hotel chain, works from home. Really. So, we emailed her. 

No response from the email and no response from the phone calls. The forth time we called (Friday going into the holiday weekend) this was the conversation…

Us: Hi, I am trying to follow up with Jenna. I have left several messages this week and I am anxious to give something to my clients to review before the holiday weekend. Is she available?

Them: She just stepped out.

Us: Is she coming back?

Them: Probably.

Us: It is urgent that we speak with her today before the weekend. We have left multiple messages and emailed her.

Them: Well I’m sure she’ll get back to you.

Us: I’m not, but feel free to leave my number again.

Them: She’ll be back in an hour and I’ll have her call you.

Guess who never called back until Tuesday at 8am after the holiday weekend? That’s right, Jenna! Her voicemail (because our office isn’t open at 8am) went along the lines of “Got your message about setting up a room block, call me anytime.” No mention of her hours, when she would be available and she didn’t even leave her phone number. This girl is a rock-star.

We called her back as soon as we got the message (10am) and left a very detailed message including our office hours for the entire week and how she has been very difficult to get a hold of. We would appreciate a call before the end of the business day.

It’s over 24 hours later and we still haven’t heard back. 

I know you’re asking: well why are you still calling her? Can’t you get another hotel? The problem here is that the destination we’re working with is limited and although our clients “must haves” aren’t unreasonable, the hotels we have spoken to aren’t accommodating them. 

But it makes us wonder….why does this continue? Why doesn’t someone, anyone, at that hotel offer to help? No one seems remotely concerned and yet we’re trying to give this chain thousands of dollars. It’s all very strange to us.

Yet, this is why we do this. We know how stressful planning an event is, and we want to take away the stress as much as possible from our clients. There is no reason that they should have to deal with any incompetence and they are always our number one priority. But we just thought we would share a little bit of what goes on “behind the scenes” when you hire a planner. If nothing else, we hope it gave you a laugh, and we’ll be sure to share more stories going forward….

Of course, we’ll update you if we hear from Jenna.

Photo credit: thehotelsnyc.com

*Update*

We heard back from Jenna and immediately mentioned that she was a very hard person to reach. Expecting anything from an apology to an explanation, instead, we were given “It was right on my voicemail that I was not in on Tuesday and I never received your emails, so….”

Nevermind that we called multiple other times during the week and were told by the front desk that she would “be back in an hour” or that she “stepped out”. We told her this and she simply replied, “I don’t know why they would tell you that.”

Moving on!

We have the room block information, we passed it along to our clients. Thankfully, they aren’t interested and we will no longer have to work with this hotel or Jenna, ever again.

BYOM. That’s “Bring Your Own Music”

Weddings are expensive.

Say it out loud a few times.

Weddings are expensive.

Do they have to be over the top expensive? No. Do they have to drive you to the poor house? No. But are they expensive?

Damn straight they are.

A wedding is, theoretically, a once in your lifetime day where you want everything to be perfect. That doesn’t mean picking out the dress that is $10,000 without looking at other ones, but it doesn’t mean skimping because you’re “only going to wear it once”. There are ways to save on your wedding day, and there are ways not to save. 

This week on “Good Morning, America”, they gave a whole bunch of ways to “save” that are really and truly awful. We’re wondering with whom they even consulted, or if they just googled a bunch of tips and threw them all together for some fun media vomit.

Yes, “media vomit”. Their list has caused quite an uproar in the wedding industry community, and it’s because they are handing this misinformation to brides and grooms, and then we, as a community, have to tell you why these ideas are bad. That’s equivalent to arguing with a bride who says “but all my friends say to do this….” You cannot fight it, there is no point, you will lose. Despite that, we are going to throw in our two cents and hope that you will take what a morning talk show said with a grain of salt, and trust the seasoned professionals on this one. Hint hint, we’re not the only one writing a blog about their nonsense.

If you missed their ideas, you can find them here (along with the comments from the wedding community): http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/save-big-wedding-bring-own-music-other-tips-104850122–abc-news-lifestyle.html

Digital. Invites. DIGITAL INVITES. Did we hear that correctly? This is a wedding, not a graduation. You don’t facebook everyone and tell them that you’re getting married and when to be there. It’s tacky. A wedding website is a great idea, but it will never replace a paper invite that gets sent in the mail. Do you need to go crazy and box your invitations so that doves fly out of them? Nope. You can get perfectly reasonably priced invites on Etsy, The Knot, Wedding Paper Divas, and many other sites. If you want to spend more, you can, but you don’t have to. Digital invites are not OK. Ever.

They say you can save $5,000 on a DJ by bringing an iPod. Ok, first of all, we have hired DJs for way under that number, and Rothweiler Event Design is located in one of the areas of the country where people spend, on average, $50,000 on their wedding. That’s the average. So, Good Morning America got their numbers wrong just a bit. If they can’t even get the numbers right, why are they giving out advice on how to save?

To be fair, the article flat out says that the author is on a budget and therefore did not hire a planner. That’s a shame, because most people can afford a planner (not all of them start at $10,000 an event), and a planner is the one that will save you the most money. A planner gets discounts with their vendors, and a planner can negotiate and save you money. A planner is priceless, and if you take the time to interview, you can and will find one that you want to work with and that you can afford. 

Instant way to cut your costs? Cut your guest list. Pick a Friday or a Sunday. Get married in January or February. Use the cake that the caterer already provides. Hire a photographer and videographer team so that you can get a package deal. Get your dress at a store that does in house alterations. If you want uplighting at your venue, pick a venue that already has it. Don’t book a venue unless you love the look because you’ll spend $$$ trying to change it.

Those are ways to save. And there are thousands more. We love helping out our clients, and will always find a way to cut costs. We even tell them when they are wasting money and how to get it under control.

Too bad Good Morning America just wanted to throw this garbage out there instead of helping the brides and grooms of America. I’m pretty sure that show could’ve brought an expert on for some real advice though.

Sorry GMA. This was a big fail. We’re here when you want a do-over.

Tables are the New Linens

Latest trend that we are obsessed with: tables sans linens. In fact, tables ARE the new linens. Whether you’re having a glammed up glitzy party, or a rustic event on a farm, burn those linens and make those tables naked, as they should be!

Depending on your style of event, you may be thinking about color coordinating your linens. A popular choice is always a basic, clean white to cover those round basic banquet tables. But do you really want to be basic? No, no you do not. 

While we are still a fan of draping tables in gorgeous colored fabrics, and believe that you should splurge in that area of planning, there is no reason to rule out a naked table. You will have to rent the linens, so why not just rent the table and really change up the room? 

For instance, if your party is going to be the talk of the town and off the charts in the swankiness department, rent long, or even round, mirrored tables. The candles you will use will reflect off the mirrors giving a major glow to the room, and you won’t feel the pressure to adorn your tables with lots of tall flowers. 

Is your event more country and less blingy? No worries because you don’t need linens for that type of party either! Swap out whatever tables your venue is offering (although you most likely have to rent tables if you’re doing the barn thing) and bring in gorgeous, long farmhouse tables! Whether you want to run mason jars and candles down the middle, or even a flower runner, the wood is a beautiful backdrop.

If you feel that your farmhouse table needs a little coverage, then throw a lace or burlap runner down the middle, leaving the edges exposed. These tables are a little wider than normal long tables, so you will have the room to do this.

Extra bonus: red wine wipes right off a table top, but can stain those precious linens you just spent a fortune renting.

We promise, tables are the new linens. If your event is coming up, we can help coordinate all of your rentals and bring in tables that will wow you, and of course, your guests!

No show? No bueno!

Time to touch on a touchy subject. Flaking out on an appointment.

In the event planning industry, we see it all the time. Appointment made, appointment confirmed, appointment doesn’t show up. Maybe they got sick. Maybe they’re hungover. Maybe they forgot. Or maybe they just didn’t feel like it. More often than not, it’s that last one, and that’s no bueno. 

I have had clients flake on appointments on me. I have even had a client have me set up three appointments in a row, and then she flaked on all three, leaving me sitting there looking foolish. Not only did I look foolish, but the three venues I had to then cancel on, last minute, weren’t too thrilled with me either. You know what her excuse was? “Oh, that was today? Super sorry!!! xoxo”….in a text. Swear it. 

Bottom line is, it’s not cool. Whether you flake on your planner, your venue, your photographer, or any of your vendors, their time (just like yours) is important. Also, someone else probably couldn’t get an appointment with that vendor or planner because they were already booked with you. Oh, and don’t go killing someone off as an excuse. Very few will believe that your such and such died anyway. 

Harsh? Yeah. True. Absolutely. 

Don’t flake. Cancel with notice. With a phone call and not a text or email.

It’s the proper thing to do, and you’re not too busy to do it. 

We know it. You know it. 

Tomorrow we’ll be back to a more PC post. But it needed to be said as we head into event season.

This planner and your future vendors thank you for your service.

It’s the Great Gatsby for Snooki’s New Jersey Nuptials!

 It’s all over the news! Nicole (aka Snooki) is getting married this fall at one of our favorite venues, The Venetian! An absolute perfect choice for this Italian princess, as this venue boasts amazing food and incredible decor. 

We were not surprised to learn that Nicole is not interested in decorating the place in wall to wall cheetah, as the reality star, fiance and mommy has stated in previous interviews that she has “grown up”. We couldn’t be happier for her and her decision to have a classic wedding complete with a “Great Gatsby” theme. Now we only wish she would call us to put the day together for her. What would we do? We thought you’d never ask!


Black and gold are signature colors for any party with a Gatsby theme. We’d love to see the tables draped in beautiful and textured black linens, and adorned with gold chargers. Another option would be to leave the tables bare, and use black mirrored table tops for that extra glam factor. We wouldn’t forget the tall gold vases with flowers spilling out of the tops, along with candles to up the romance factor. Orchids anyone?

Of course, we can’t imagine this star not wearing at least two gowns, especially a gorgeous slinky silk one to not only work the theme but to show off how amazing she now looks.

Rothweiler Event Design is happy to see this Jersey reality star all grown up and ready to take the biggest stage of her life, marrying her one and only in front of all of her friends and family. 

Did we mention we’d love to plan this special affair too? We hope to hear from you soon, Nicole! Congratulations!