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How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue

How to find the perfect wedding venue, and everything an engaged couple should know is a big topic. And by “big” I mean that I could write an entire book on just this. There are countless blogs and articles available to brides and grooms about what to look for while on the wedding venue hunt. Thankfully, you found this blog, which means you can literally ignore the rest. 

Why do I say that? Because the internet is full of trash, that’s why. As a wedding planner, I cannot tell you how many of my brides have brought me what they thought they knew, based on what they read on a wedding website. Not to mention the amount of wedding related articles I read on my own that are stacked with misleading or flat out wrong information.

In this blog, I’m sharing wedding planning tips about how to find the perfect wedding venue. These are the same tips I share as a real wedding planner with my brides and grooms. So, before you start the search for your wedding venue and fall down the google rabbit hole, grab that wedding planning journal I know you have, and get ready to take some notes!

Affiliate Disclosure: Some affiliate links were used in this blog post, which means I will see a percentage if you choose to buy anything. But I would never recommend a brand I don’t love to pieces, so go ahead and shop away!

How to find the perfect wedding venue. Wedding planning tips from a real wedding planner about what to look for in a wedding venue. Learn the questions to ask each potential venue and what red flags to look out for. Everything engaged couples need from non-traditional venues to destination locations to ballroom weddings. A must read wedding blog for bride and grooms to be!

How to Interview Florists and What Brides Should Expect

Flowers and design is the absolute best part of my job as a wedding planner. We recommend wedding vendors to our couples, and that includes florists. But, even though we make these recommendations, it’s the couple that has to interview them. In this blog, I’m sharing some inside tips about interviewing florists for your wedding and what brides should expect every step of the way!

How to Interview Florists and What Brides Should Expect. The blog that every engaged couple needs to read before hiring a florist for their wedding. Read this to find out how to find the best florist for your wedding day and learn what to ask along the way!

Top 10 Must Have Items for Brides and Bridesmaids

Ladies, this blog is for you! Whether you’re a bride or a bridesmaid, there are certain essentials you can’t live without on a wedding day. I’ve rounded up the top 10 must have items for brides and bridesmaids. Bonus, I’m telling you where to get everything on this list and giving you a free printable to propose to your bridesmaids. Keep reading before you start shopping…

The Top 10 Must Have Items for Brides and Bridesmaids. How to propose to your bridesmaids, where to find the best white flats and an after party jumper perfect for any bride. Read the blog to find out what you need and where to get everything!

The Complete Guide to Inviting People to Your Wedding

Planning a wedding is full of nothing but decisions. Deciding where you want to get married, what you’ll wear, and who your vendors will be. A decision that needs to be made before all that other stuff? Your guest list.
You can’t pick a wedding venue if you don’t know your guest count. You can always guess or have a range in mind, but it’s never a decision made by just one person. As a wedding planner, I’ve seen my couples be surprised about the people their fiance wanted to invite. Then, if it’s suddenly “OK” to invite those people, the other half of the engaged couple just thought of 30 more people to invite.
If your parents or anyone else is financially contributing to the wedding, they’ll likely have an opinion as well. Actually, parents tend to have an opinion regardless of financial contribution so, never mind. 
That last part was a joke, no offense mom and dad.
If you’re engaged and getting ready to plan your wedding, read on for the complete guide to inviting people to your wedding.

The Complete Guide to Inviting People to Your Wedding! How to decide who to invite to your wedding and more in our wedding blog. Read this if you're engaged and need some wedding planning tips! #weddingblog #weddingguestlist

When the Wedding is Called Off

When the wedding is called off, it can be a devastating experience. About two years ago, a wedding I was planning was called off with less than a week before the actual wedding day. I published this article with Huffington Post sharing what it’s like from a wedding planner’s perspective.

When the wedding is called off: a wedding planner's perspective and a true story of a wedding that was canceled at the 11th hour. Read the blog for the full story.

The Question

One of the questions I typically get when people find out that I am a wedding planner is whether or not I ever had a client that cancelled their wedding. I guess it’s a natural question to ask because it’s hard to guess what happens next. That, and the fact that people love interesting (aka drama-filled) stories and the story behind a called off wedding can likely have reality show potential.
Recently, a wedding I was planning was called off.


 

When you’re the wedding planner, you’re with a couple for months and sometimes years. You communicate often, you see the arguments, you see the love, you see the tears… you see it all. Everyone else, the photographer, the musicians, the caterer, they all see just a small part because they don’t have the constant connection with the couple. In fact, the most connection anyone else will have will not happen until the wedding day.
But the planner, has a real and much deeper connection.

Me: The Wedding Planner

Personally, I don’t like to work with couples that I don’t like. I just don’t. I have to be able to communicate with my couple and sometimes that involves nagging to get stuff done or busting their chops to get them to laugh or flat out telling them to grab some wine and calm down. Honesty and trust are so essential in my planner-couple relationship and it’s important that my couple knows that I have their back and that they can depend on me. I need a real relationship with them. I have to be able to talk to them and they need to know that they can talk to me and tell me anything.

bride with bridal bouquet

So I’m not the wedding planner for everyone, and especially not for those that are going to keep a wall up and think that because they are paying me, I’m basically just a personal assistant. I say this at my consultations and I make it clear that it’s totally OK if I’m not everyone’s planner. Because of this, my clients tend to be ones that are going to call me up “just to vent” or cry on my shoulder or confide in me about their mother, sister, brother or whomever.
On the wedding day, there are three moments that get me. The first time I see my bride in her gown is one of them. It’s real then. The next is the moment I send her down the aisle, right after I fix the veil and train and make sure she has tissues tucked in her dress.
The last moment is when I stand with my couple, now married, as they get ready to enter the reception…because that is the moment that I have to let them go. 

bride and groom

No matter if we stay in touch after the wedding or not, if we meet up for happy hours or dinner, even if I know that we will always be in each other’s lives, I give away a little piece of my heart when the reception begins. I never get it back. Because it’s over and we’re here and they’re married. We made it through it all. Through the “all” that only a planner gets to see and experience.
When a wedding is called off, we’ve already been through it all.
But the celebration never happens. It is shockingly upsetting.
This is very hard to write.


 

Her Story

My bride was the one that told me the wedding wouldn’t be happening. Ironically, the phone call happened while I was driving home from a wedding I had just finished. She actually sent me a text that simply read, “I think its called off”. I called her and after she picked up I told her that this is a phone conversation, not a text message.
From there I heard the story, I let her talk, I made her laugh…and then I heard her cry. I waited until we hung up so she didn’t hear me cry.
wedding gown
Christian Oth Photography

The Aftershocks

For the next hour or so, I felt like I was in a daze. I did my job and got the messages out to the venue and the vendors that this wedding was not going to happen. My bride told me that she would call me later or the next day and I waited for the call.
While I waited, she was all I could think about:
The details and how beautiful the wedding would have been. How it was always more important to her that the marriage be perfect, not just the wedding day…
…her gown and what she would do with it…
…anytime she heard their first dance song, how she would handle it. The day of the wedding…the empty venue…
…the thoughts going through her head.
How I would never get to let them go. But how I still lost a piece of my heart.
In a sense, I am grieving.

engagement ring and bridal shoes

I didn’t hear from her again that day and let most of the next day go by before I reached out to her. I sent a text because I didn’t want her to feel pressured to talk to me, but I also had a job to do starting with her putting in writing that everything was canceled. I heard back and she told me that she was with her family and would call me tomorrow. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that she was surrounded by love in a time of such heartbreak.
The next morning I spoke with her mother. In the short conversation we had, I heard the sadness and the anger in her voice. I wanted to reach through the phone and hug her, but all I could do was tell her that she had an amazing daughter and that I would do anything I could to help.


 

That is the day the wedding was officially canceled. In writing.
It was real. It is real. And it’s over.

The End and The Beginning

I heard from her today. The day we were supposed to be at the venue dropping off items and finalizing details. I told her I was going to write this article. She asked that I share that she is doing better, taking things one day at a time.
She also wanted me to add that she chooses to think about all the reasons the wedding shouldn’t have happened, instead of wondering why this had to happen to her.
We talked. We laughed. We cried. We made plans for drinks.

escort card table with greenery at wedding

There are times when I think it would be easier if I wasn’t this way. If I could do my job, take my paycheck and move on to the next wedding or event.
But I am an emotionally invested person. I willingly give away a piece of my heart when I let my clients go, because I get to travel with them on an amazing journey to their wedding day.
And if that wedding day never happens, I will still lose a piece of my heart, but I will be there to gather the pieces of theirs.
To my friend: You are one of the strongest people I know. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for you…

When the wedding is called off: a wedding planner's perspective and a true story of a wedding that was canceled at the 11th hour. Read the blog for the full story.

A List of Reasons That Will Make You Want to Wed in the Fall

One of the most popular questions I am asked as a wedding planner is what the most popular time of year is to get married. I usually can answer that question before it’s completed because I am asked it that much.

Fall.

Specifically, September followed by October.

I rarely get a reaction other than surprised. Because most people still think Spring and Summer are everyone’s favorite season for weddings. But why?

In this blog, I’m giving you a list of reasons that will make you want to wed in the Fall.

A List of Reasons that Will Make You Want to Wed in the Fall. Read the blog to get inspired for your wedding day!

  1. The Weather

Let’s start with the obvious, and that’s the kick ass weather that most locations have in the Fall. I could write a whole blog about the weather alone being enough of a reason to pick a Fall wedding date…
But this is a list blog, so I can’t do that.
Maybe it’s not so obvious that weather is the biggest reason to wed in the Fall. As I said a few paragraphs above, everyone is always so surprised that Fall is the most popular season for weddings.

bride with bouquet for outdoor wedding

Spring weddings can be cold and rainy, and Summer weddings can be hot and sticky. Oh, and Winter weddings? I guess if you like blizzards, ice storms and asking everyone to travel in potentially treacherous conditions, then that’s the season for you.
Fall brings drier days and less humidity, and depending on your location, the most popular months will range between September-November. Even early December weddings are gaining popularity since some places still have gorgeous weather that time of year.
  1. Better Turnout

As much as there might be a few people on your guest list that you’re secretly hoping will decline, every couple wants to see a packed dance floor all night. Certain times of the year will put the odds more in your favor.
Everyone is busy, but in the Summer, people are usually busy going on vacation. If no one is in town, then no one will be at your wedding. You don’t avoid this either by having a Memorial Day or Fourth of July Weekend wedding. Why not? Because people want to use those weekends for themselves, that’s why.
Sorry.
Spring is another popular time for vacation between the holidays and that little thing called “Spring Break” that isn’t exclusive to just the college crowd. Easter and Passover can eat up the calendar as your guests could be traveling or, you might not be able to host your ceremony in a religious house because of the conflict.

wedding reception dance floor

Winter weddings might yield all positive RSVPs, but all it takes is one snowstorm to have plans change with less than 24 hours before the wedding day. If you successfully dodge the blizzard bullet, you have to tap-dance around some major holidays that could easily take priority over your wedding day.
People are generally in town once Fall hits, and aside from a few holidays here and there, nothing really wipes out date options. In fact, depending on what you and your guests celebrate, some holidays will create 3-day weekends that you can use to your advantage.
  1. Floral Selection

The flowers that are available in the Fall are abundant to say the least. Not only that, but the flowers that you’ll get to choose from, are ones that you probably already want.
No, peonies are not a Fall flower, but there is a better option and you can read about it in this blog here.

flowers in a fountain at a wedding

Many brides associate Spring as the most popular time of the year because that’s when everything is finally in bloom. But it’s just starting to bloom. It’s not like Winter’s over and bam! Roses, dahlias, sunflowers everywhere!
We don’t think of Fall as “flowers”, but in the wedding world, we should.
It’s not just about the flowers in your centerpiece and bouquets either…it’s about your surroundings. Which brings us to:
  1. Foliage

Even if your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception are all indoors, you will likely take plenty of pictures outside. You could have the most gorgeous Vera Wang ballgown in the world, but if the trees are bare and the grass is dead, you’ll see that in your pictures.
And it’s not cute.

bride and groom fall wedding outdoors

Snow for a Winter wedding is picturesque, but you have to get really lucky here. The snow has to fall at a certain time so that there’s enough time to get the roads cleared for your guests. But it can’t be on the ground too long because then it melts and you have muddy puddles to walk through.
You basically need a fresh powder blizzard about 24 hours before your ceremony in order to make it work, and the trees are still bare even in that case.
Spring and Summer will give you green on the trees, assuming you’re far enough into Spring. Then you just need it not to rain…See number 1 on this list.
Fall will give you green on the trees, or gorgeous shades of reds, oranges and yellows depending on the month. You also won’t have to contend with Spring pollen, bonus!

bridesmaids bouquets in deep colors

  1. Long Sleeves and Details

Along with the better chance for sunshine over rain, Fall brings those “perfect” temperatures. You know the kind…the ones where you go outside and tell everyone who will listen that you wish everyday could be “like this”.
Outdoor wedding or indoor wedding, you’ll be spending time outside taking those pictures we just talked about. No matter what style the wedding dress, Summer brides tend to suffer from the heat.
Know what doesn’t mix well with sweat? Make-up and hair.
Let’s not forget the sunburn factor either.
Spring and Winter allows brides to wear comforters masquerading as ballgowns a lot easier, but bare shoulders and arms can get pretty cold. The Fall offers a wider swing in temperatures; warmth during the day that isn’t hotter than the surface of the sun like in the Summer, and cooler in the evening where you’re likely tearing it up on the dance floor anyway.
The bottom line is: brides can really wear whatever style they want, including those popular long sleeve gowns in the Fall, without worrying about heat stroke.

bride with fur stole over wedding gown

Grooms and groomsmen matter too, and outside of Fall, it can be a recipe for disaster. If it’s cold, they’re giving up their tuxedo jackets to the bridesmaids. If it’s warm, they’re giving up their tuxedo jackets and complaining about having to wear them in the first place.
  1. Color

While I am not going to insist from a designer perspective that you have to use certain colors during certain times of the year…
Yeah, I actually am going to do just that.
The pale pink, blush, champagne combination is done and it’s done a lot. Brides are making it their own by working in pops of deeper colors, and those deeper colors belong in Fall. (I’m not even going to address Winter wedding colors because it’s Winter and it snows and stop having Winter weddings already).
The jewel tones look amazing in the Fall, but they are unexpected in the Spring and Summer. I am a huge fan of using color; in flowers, in wardrobe, in lighting…and Fall weddings allow you to get more creative than just repeating something you saw on Pinterest.
For instance, these gorgeous bridesmaids dresses from our friends at Dessy are perfect for a Fall wedding, but would be too intense for a Spring soiree. 

red bridesmaid dress

Bold colors, sparkles, contrasting patterns, these belong in Fall. Go for a contrast of color in your invitation suite like in the example below from our friends at Minted. A deep colored RSVP envelope or a bold border is perfect for any style Fall wedding. And one of the best things and reasons that I love Minted, is that you can order samples before deciding on the final invitation. So there’s no fear that the bold color you pick might be too bold since you can see it before sending!

  1. Happiest Time of the Year

Everyone is happy in the Fall. Everyone.
All Winter, people complain about the snow. In the Spring, it’s never warm or sunny enough for anyone. In the Summer, everyone is over the heat and wishing for the snow they were just complaining about five minutes ago.
In the Fall, no one complains about the weather. Right off the bat you’re starting with a solid foundation of happiness.
People are psyched about hoodies and pumpkin spice everything. There’s a new holiday every month. The long season of baseball finally heats up into the playoffs and football comes back from an all too long hiatus.
Everyone loves the Fall.
Everyone including the engaged couple. Why is that important? Because once the wedding is over, you’re suddenly going to feel some level of emptiness. A Fall wedding means you have a nice soft landing when you come down off your high.
A Winter wedding means the next day is gray and disgusting and your life sucks again.

wedding food

  1. Cozy Food

Food has become a huge priority at weddings. More and more couples are choosing venues based on the level of catering or hosting a wedding where they can bring in the caterer of their choice.
Fall food is good food.
Not to keep harping on the amazing weather, but the weather is a major reason why the food is the best at Fall weddings. In the Winter, the idea of a raw bar or anything cold for that matter, doesn’t seem like a great idea. If you get married in the Winter, at some point you’ll feel the pressure to make the menu free of cold anything.
Cocktail hours without variety are the worst.


 

Spring can be cold, it can be warm, and it pretty much does whatever it damn well pleases. The problem is, you have to decide the menu in advance. Know how many guests complain about a cold salad for a first course instead of a soup when they had to wear a coat to the wedding?
I do…
Summer weddings bring the opposite. Have you ever been “too hot” to eat? Yeah. That.
Farm to table and local food is a priority not just for couples getting married, but for many caterers as well now. The food options in the Fall are extensive, allowing for a creative menu with both hot and cold options.
  1. S’mores and Bonfires

Everyone loves bonfires. Sitting around a bonfire with your friends and family is always a good time, so it’s not surprising that many weddings end with one.

bride and groom roasting smores

Whether it’s part of dessert, the welcome party the night before or even an after party, a wedding with a bonfire is a win.
You’re not going to swing one of these with a Winter or Spring wedding. The idea of one for a Summer wedding seems good at that time, but when it’s still 85 degrees after sundown…
Maybe not.
Along with a bonfire (or two), you can treat your guests to s’mores and other goodies. Have a food truck supply some late-night snacks and keep a few live musicians around.
  1. Honeymoon Timing

I already mentioned that Fall wedding months are the happiest ones of the year for so many reasons. Engaged couples frequently feel what I refer to as “wedding hangover” when the big day is over. The comfort of the holidays and all the other good stuff associated with Fall usually keeps that hangover from being too painful.
Honeymoons help too.

bride and groom embrace

Most couples will take their honeymoon within a day or two after their wedding date; or very soon thereafter. With a Fall wedding, you’ll be traveling during a season where flights aren’t canceled due to snow and ice. 
Depending on where you’re going, hurricane season won’t be an issue either. This is a total bonus because the last thing you want to worry about while planning your wedding, is if your resort is going to be swept out to sea leaving you no place to go.
If you’re not planning on island hopping, Fall is a great time to really explore any part of the world. No worries about Europe being closed for the Summer for you!


 

Best Season Ever

Those are my 10 reasons that will make you want to wed in the Fall. Did I convince you? Was there another reason that I missed? Share in the comments below and tell me what your wedding season is and why you picked it!

A List of Reasons that Will Make You Want to Wed in the Fall. Read the blog to get inspired for your wedding day!

 

How to Host an Amazing Destination Wedding in OBX

Most people hear the words “destination wedding” and automatically think about getting on a plane and saying “I do” on a beach somewhere. But, in reality, the destination can be anywhere from a vineyard on the opposite coast to a castle in another country.

Even though the destination isn’t limited to a sandy beach, odds are, the location will require a flight for most people.

Start your FREE honeymoon registry at Honeyfund.com
 

I’m not a huge fan of flying. Getting me on a plane without a panic attack requires a little (ok, a lot) of liquid courage. There are also plenty of people that cringe at the thought of attending a destination wedding if not due to their fear of flying, then due to their fear of going broke from traveling/losing all their airline miles.

But what if you could have the destination wedding without the flight? All around the world there exists a handful of amazing locations for a wedding that have the destination feel without the annoying airplane ride.

In this blog, I am sharing one of my absolute favorite places on the East Coast for a destination wedding that you can reach without flying the (not always friendly) skies. Bonus: beach available if you want it.

How to Host an Amazing Destination Wedding in OBX. We're revealing the best wedding venue in OBX for your wedding day. Read the blog for all the details!

The first time I saw a bumper sticker that read “OBX”, I thought it was slang for “obnoxious”. What? That makes sense. Stop judging me.
Anyway…
Outer Banks or OBX is an amazing location on the coast of North Carolina. A super popular location for family vacations, this 200-mile-long string of islands boasts gorgeous beaches, outstanding food and one incredible home after the next.
Families flock to the area every summer, rent a home and stay for a week in paradise. My family is one of those families.


 

Because I can’t help myself, even when on vacation, weddings and events are always on my mind. One year, literally five seconds after we got back home, I found a gorgeous location for a destination wedding in OBX.
On. Instagram.
I vowed (see what I did there?) to check the place out the following summer, which is exactly what I did. Just a few short months ago I got to see The Black Stallion in person and if I didn’t get caught trying to stowaway in a closet, I would still be there.
Kidding, kidding.
It was a shed.

outdoor private wedding

The Black Stallion is my favorite type of wedding venue: a private home. There is nothing better than a beautiful home as the backdrop for a wedding. There just isn’t. Why do you think “Father of the Bride” was and still is so popular?
But unless you’re in the super small percentage of people that either has or has access to a private home for your wedding, you’re going to need to rent one to make this dream happen.
As a wedding planner, I have worked with countless couples that wanted to host their wedding at their home or a family member’s home. The percentage of times it has actually worked out?
In the single digits.

Shop Wedding Invitations at Zazzle
 

There are so many factors that go into designing and planning a wedding at home. However, that is for another blog at another time. In fact, I’ll probably write it and link it right here sometime in the near future.
Finding a home to rent is no easy task either, and I’ll be sure to include all the reasons why in the previously mentioned, yet to be written, blog. So, when a private home like The Black Stallion exists, it’s time to pop the bubbly and start planning.
Ok, enough intro and nonsense…let’s talk about this amazing destination wedding venue, shall we?
The Black Stallion is located in The Currituck Club in Corolla and has 24 bedrooms. The property sleeps 55 people, and just like all OBX homes, the rental time is for one week. This means you (the engaged couple) would head down to the home in advance of the guests for pre-wedding festivities.

The home is hooked up with major amenities and a gorgeous pool. In addition to the property details, the beach is basically right there and perfect for getting together with your group as well as hosting your wedding ceremony.
Wedding Planner Tip: Outer Banks does not have any private beaches. This means your wedding can and likely will become a spectator sport.
Not one of those couples that associates “destination wedding” with “beach location”? Good news: you don’t have to at The Black Stallion. Personally, I am not a big fan of beach weddings in general. Beach BBQ? Beach party? All good. Beach wedding? Hard pass if I have the choice.


 

The Wedding Weekend

With any destination wedding, guests typically arrive two days in advance of the big day. Anyone that knows anything about OBX knows that rentals are Saturday-Saturday. The Black Stallion, however, offers a Sunday-Sunday rental, allowing couples to have that Saturday wedding they can’t have anywhere else.
Since there is room for up to 55 people to sleep, those planning a smaller wedding can have everyone stay right there on site. Those with larger guest counts can offer both hotels and additional house rentals as needed. Getting everyone to The Black Stallion is super easy too, as they will assist you with all of your transportation needs.

Given that the property is so large, there’s no reason to host any of your events in the same place. From welcome drinks through the day after brunch, the options include outside under a tent, inside the home, around the pool or even on the pool with a lucite floor beneath.
One of the biggest challenges with hosting a wedding at a private home, is having to bring in everything including the kitchen sink (literally). The Black Stallion has the appeal of a private home, but the staff of a wedding venue. From the basic rentals to the catering, they will work with you to bring it all together so you don’t have to worry about forgetting a thing.
Of course, if you have a wedding planner by your side, even better. But, I digress…

private home wedding venue

Best Day Ever

Once the wedding weekend activities are completed, the rehearsal is done, and there’s nothing left to do except exchange the rings and party away, The Black Stallion becomes the wedding backdrop of your dreams.
Even getting ready is an amazing experience at this place. There are separate locations to keep the engaged couple apart until the first look or the walk down the aisle. In fact, those separate locations are actually in a separate building from the main house, allowing the couple and their wedding party the privacy they need to prep for the day.
Whether you choose to have your wedding on a nearby beach or on-site, there are plenty of options available. Your cocktail hour and reception locations are also endless, but why not have your reception over the pool?

Dessy Spring Style 2013
 

The first time I saw this property on Instagram, it was a picture of a dance floor over the pool. This is so far from standard at any other property I know of, but it’s a thing at The Black Stallion. You don’t have to worry about the normal stuff like insurance and expenses that another venue can’t even give you because they’ve never done anything like that before.
The Black Stallion does this.
You want this?
Go to a place that does this on the regular.

outdoor wedding with pool and dance floor

Noise ordinances plague private locations, but that’s not the case here. You can have your band or DJ play from cocktail hour through reception and into the after party and not worry about the time. Imagine dancing under the stars at midnight on top of a pool to your favorite music. I mean…what???

Final Details

Of course, if you’re going to have your wedding at The Black Stallion or any outdoor location, you have to factor in the weather. Another advantage at this location is how adaptable the house is for Plans B, C and D. No worries about making the call to move indoors days in advance either.
There are, however, better times to visit OBX than others. The most popular time for a wedding in the Outer Banks is either the end of March-June or September-November. I asked Danielle, from The Black Stallion, her thoughts about picking the best time:
“Rental prices are generally less expensive compared to the summer and the weather is still amazing. That being said, The Black Stallion is uniquely positioned for all four seasons! We’ve had some gorgeous winter weddings (picture a large Christmas tree next to the spiral staircase and a heated clear top tent in the backyard). And, who doesn’t love summertime at the beach!”

long table for wedding

The Most Amazing Destination Location Ever?

As a wedding planner, I’ve planned my fair share of destination weddings. If you follow me on social media or have been around this blog long enough, you probably know how in love I am with Bermuda for a location.

I mean, not just for weddings, but yes, absolutely weddings.

Besides everything else about The Black Stallion that I love, one of the things I love the most is that a flight isn’t necessary. Yes, if you’re reading this blog outside of a certain area, you probably still need to hop on a plane. For many people though, the general location of OBX is drivable and thus perfect for a guest list where people are scattered everywhere.

bride and groom sunset

Are there other locations in The Outer Banks for weddings? Yes. But nothing comes close to everything The Black Stallion offers. It’s more than just a beautiful home, it has the amenities that are sometimes impossible to find anywhere else and it’s guaranteed to actually impress your guests.

Rates range between $10,000-$35,000, but, like any other wedding, the numbers totally depend on the details. If you would like more information about The Black Stallion and having the best wedding week ever there, you can contact Danielle at events@blackstallionobx.com.

I asked her if she had any other advice for engaged couples planning their wedding day at this amazing location:

“And, of course, we recommend hiring a wedding planner / day-of coordinator so you can enjoy your special day!”

See? They’re super smart too.

How to Host an Amazing Destination Wedding in OBX. We're revealing the best wedding venue in OBX for your wedding day. Read the blog for all the details!Photo Credits: Genevieve Stewart Photography, Maite Photography, Mary Basnight Photography, Matt Lusk Photography

Wedding Day Emergency Kit Essentials

We’ve all heard the saying “expect the worst and hope for the best”, right? Well, as a wedding planner, I only want the best for my couples and I don’t rely on hope to make it happen. On the wedding day, my team is putting out fires before our couple even smells smoke. While we don’t wear capes and we’re still working on the ability to fly, there is one thing we have in common with superheros: an amazing set of tools, also known as, our wedding day emergency kit essentials.
I bet you’ve seen other blogs and lists of emergency kit must have products, right? They’re all pretty similar with the same obvious items like bobby pins and hairspray, but what about the not so obvious stuff?
In this blog, I will reveal what is in my bag of tricks on the wedding day so that you really can be prepared for anything. Plus, I’ll talk about why certain emergency kit essentials are better than others and provide you with a free printable shopping list.
Read on to find out what a real wedding planner has in her wedding day emergency kit! And if you haven’t seen our vlog where we take a trip to Target for a bunch of the stuff below, you can check that out right here!!

Everything you need in your wedding day emergency kit from a real wedding planner! Plus, get your free printable shopping list. Check out the wedding blog now!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

The Bag

Over the years, my emergency kit has only increased in size. Why? Because with almost every wedding there is a new emergency and something new that I need to add to my kit.
But I can’t wheel around my suitcase every time I leave the room on a wedding day. Through much trial and error, I have developed a system where everything goes into a roller suitcase, and then I break up the emergency kit into smaller ones with absolute essentials. 
Whether you are the bride or a wedding planner, I highly recommend investing in a great suitcase to hold all of those emergency kit essentials. Unlike the wedding gown, this is something you actually can use again, so it’s not a purchase for a one-time use. My favorite feature on my emergency kit bag? The wheels. 

I love this spinner from Target because it’s the perfect size, it has compartments and it’s on wheels. In the outside compartments I keep things that I regularly grab on the wedding day like tissues and hairspray. Believe me, you don’t want to be this close to crying off your mascara and then have to dig to the bottom of the bag to find something to dry those tears.
Obviously I can’t carry this all day and I do a fair amount of moving around from room to room or even location to location. This is where the smaller bags come in, not just for me, but for everyone on my team. Let’s be real, I can’t be in two places at the same time, so each member working with me has a small bag with the absolute and always used essentials.
I also keep a small emergency kit of these essentials in the room where the bride and bridesmaids are getting ready so that they can grab what they need anytime. 
If you’re a wedding planner, it makes total sense to have a large bag like the one above and a few smaller ones with the basics. Later in this blog, I am sharing a free printable shopping list that includes just about everything in my wedding day emergency kit. You might look that over and decide that a smaller case or a few smaller cases is better for you. I love using make-up cases like this one because the true essentials are small enough to fit into one case, and it’s easy to carry around if you need to.

No matter the carrying case you choose, make sure to choose one that is easy to access and that doesn’t have a ton of zippers and buttons. 

The What and The Why

Every list of wedding day emergency kit essentials I have seen has been the same handful of items with no explanations. The problem with that is certain items shouldn’t be substituted, and other items are available in various forms. This is all important because you don’t want to take the time putting together a kit, only to get stuck with what you don’t need on the wedding day.
Tylenol v. Advil
Often suggested for emergency kits and bathroom baskets is either Tylenol or Advil. But the two are not interchangeable. Tylenol should never be combined with alcohol, and if your wedding is like every other wedding, it will include alcohol. Play it safe and pick up Advil instead. 

bride and groom wish lantern

Bobby Pins
This might seem pretty obvious, but when you’re planning a wedding, sometimes common sense goes out the window. When including bobby pins in your wedding day emergency kit, be sure to get different sizes and different colors. I am a huge fan of these bobby pins that are available in different shades of different colors.


bride

Mints v. Gum
Nothing looks worse in photos than the groomsmen chewing on gum while walking down the aisle. A lot of emergency kit lists will include mints and not gum, but that’s one of those interchangeable products. To prevent the cow chomping, keep the mints and ditch the gum. My favorites? These right here.
The Selection of Sunblock
You probably don’t give much thought as to what sunblock you buy because you’ve been buying the same stuff forever, right? That’s true for everyone else, so we like to provide a small assortment to choose from. It’s less about the SPF and more about skin sensitivity. This is the sunblock we use for kids in the wedding party and this one works well for all the grown-ups. Whatever you pick though, just stay away from the ones with tropical scents unless you want to attract mosquitoes!

The Stuff You Didn’t Think Of

The free printable shopping list provided in this blog is essentially everything I have in my emergency kit. I mentioned earlier about being prepared and no one will be better prepared for the unknown on a wedding day than your wedding planner. It’s common sense to include things like clear nail polish and eyelash glue, but, odds are you’ll need something else not found on all those other lists.
Like what?
Socks. Yes, socks.


bride and groom umbrella

For so many reasons, socks for the guys are essential emergency kit items. As a wedding planner, I have seen the groom and groomsmen either completely forget their socks, wear the wrong color, or damage their socks on the wedding day. I keep two sets in my emergency kit: one is standard black, perfect for black tuxedos, and the other is a pack of neutral colors for those wearing something less formal. 
Along with bringing socks, I also keep a bow tie and a pair of suspenders in my wedding day emergency kit. It’s always great to have a back-up of each in case anyone forgets their own. Just make sure you know how to tie that bow tie if necessary.
I have a surge protector in my emergency kit and I also included it on the shopping list. The reason I have this is because there’s frequently a shortage of outlets at the wedding location, and everyone needs to charge everything. My surge protector is this one and includes outlets and USB outlets as well. If you’re a bride, you can totally go with something simpler like this one here. Think you might not need one? Think about everyone in your wedding party with a cell phone and a charger and get one for that reason alone. 
You’ll also see straws on the shopping list, which we go through at almost every wedding. Once your make-up is done, you’ll hear the make-up artist ask you to use straws when drinking. Most people I know don’t have straws readily available, so pick up a box for getting ready. 

 

lindsay arnold and wedding planner

Ready to start shopping for your wedding day emergency kit? Be sure to print out your free printable shopping list before you head out to the store:

Emergency Kit Shopping List

Got questions about anything on the list or think I left something off? Leave it in the comments below to help out other couples planning their big day.

Everything you need in your wedding day emergency kit from a real wedding planner! Plus, get your free printable shopping list. Check out the wedding blog now!

How To Transform Your Wedding Venue

Are you one of the hundreds (probably more like thousands) of brides getting married on a farm? Maybe you’ve picked out your wedding venue, but you want to make it look completely different? Between the weddings being planned in open spaces like barns, estates and museums, and those being planned in spaces that are blank slates, how to transform your wedding venue is trickier than you might think.

As a wedding planner, I specialize in creative weddings and open spaces. In this blog, I’m sharing some wedding planning advice that we give our couples and busting some myths about these types of weddings too. So, if you want to know not just how to transform your wedding venue, but everything you haven’t thoughts about yet, read on!

How to transform your wedding venue and design an open space. Read this wedding blog if you're looking for ways to change the look of your wedding venue, or having a backyard, farm, barn or at home wedding! #weddingblog #barnwedding

Let’s get one thing out of the way, and that’s the biggest myth about planning a wedding where you get to bring everything in:

You will not save money this way.

I can’t tell you how many brides call me up and tell me they want to get married on a farm “because it’s cheaper”. First of all, no it’s not. Second of all, farms and open spaces in general aren’t right for everyone and shouldn’t be selected because they are the alleged cheaper option.
While we’re on the subject, “wildflowers” aren’t really a thing and using them isn’t one of the ways you can keep wedding costs down.

outdoor wedding

The Wide Open Spaces
When I say “open space”, I am including any type of wedding venue where you’re basically building the entire thing from the ground up. Literally. This includes the following: private homes, farms, barns, wineries, and museums. Basically, all non-traditional spaces that will allow you to have a truly unique wedding design because you’re picking everything


 

I’m not really sure who started the rumor that farm and barn weddings are less expensive than having a wedding in say a banquet hall or other established wedding venue. It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it. Consider a banquet hall the all-inclusive spring break vacation and a farm wedding as that ala carte trip to Europe. The banquet hall is including a whole lot more in that “per person” cost than an open space wedding venue is. Let’s break it down…
You’ve Got Nothing and Everything Costs Something
When you go to a banquet hall style wedding venue, these things are generally included:
  • tables
  • chairs
  • linens
  • food
  • beverage
  • flooring
  • lighting
  • bathrooms
  • staff
  • water
  • glassware
  • utensils
  • a roof
Versus the non-traditional spaces that generally include:
  • the space
See the difference?
I’m not asking that question to be a jerk either. It’s just mind-blowing to me how anyone could possibly think that a non-traditional space like a farm would be a great way to cut wedding costs. I promise you that a farm wedding or any other open space will be more expensive than most banquet hall style wedding venues.
If you believe me and you’re still all about the non-banquet hall wedding, then keep on reading. If I just ruined your day, well…thanks for stopping by.
Banquet Halls for the Basic Bride
My company does not specialize in banquet hall weddings. Crystal and marble just isn’t my style and so we generally work with couples looking for “something different”. That’s not to say we don’t plan our fair share of weddings in spaces with everything included, but when we do, we’re generally transforming the entire venue. There will be more on that later in this blog.

bridesmaid tote bag bride handbag
 

One of the best things about selecting a creative space for your wedding venue is the option to pick your own caterer. Established wedding venues will already have an in-house caterer/kitchen and sometimes that can limit your food selection. Foodies would do best to get married in an open space that allows them to bring in the caterer of their choice. This also means not having to commit to a caterer until after a tasting, which is never going to happen in a banquet hall style wedding venue. 
The catch? Well, there are a few…

wedding tablescape

Depending on your location, you will have to follow local liquor laws, and each caterer has their own policies as well. Bringing in your own alcohol is a great way to keep wedding costs down, so take that option if you can. Other scenarios include having the caterer bring in the liquor or having a completely separate liquor vendor and then dealing with hiring barstaff that is legally allowed to pour alcohol. 
Meanwhile, if at this point you’re not convinced that hiring a wedding planner for this type of wedding is a necessity, you might be crazy. Anyway…
Besides the liquor law nonsense that changes from state to state, your menu could be partially dictated by the venue you select. I planned a wedding industry event at an industrial warehouse once and we needed to bring in an outside caterer. They had a kitchen onsite but it was Glatt Kosher. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically super strict Kosher and if you’re not following their rules (which you’re probably not if you don’t even know what Glatt means) you can’t use their kitchen. So, my caterer could not use their working kitchen, which meant they had to set up their own kitchen, outside, right down to the ovens and running water. 

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Creative venue spaces frequently have restrictive or smaller kitchens, or you won’t even be able to use them. Other times, the venue might have rules that directly affect the catering team. For instance, one farm that I work at a lot doesn’t allow smokers or water to be dumped anywhere. This farm is the perfect setting for a pig roast, but you’re not allowed to do it, and not being able to use water in particular ways is inconvenient for caterers. The more you inconvenience a wedding vendor, the higher your cost will be.
Does the freedom to choose your own caterer, build your own menu and have unique options for your guests outweigh everything else you’ll be dealing with? I’m treating this blog as a weeding out process, so if you haven’t run away screaming yet, let’s keep going…

wedding venue

Musical Chairs
A big plus to having an open space as your wedding venue is being able to get creative with more than just flowers. If you’re not down with all that food and beverage drama I laid out above, don’t worry, you can get this creative in an established venue too. 
When planning a wedding in your backyard or on a farm, you’re going to need basics including tables, chairs, linens, and serveware. Many times, the catering company will be able to handle these rentals and keep them under your “per person” cost.  If you’re in an established wedding venue that already provides these things, you’ll probably be able to rent different items instead. Before committing to a venue, however, make sure that you are allowed to do that.


 

Caterers that provide these basics are typically going to have the basics of these basics. That means round tables, chiavari or other standard style chairs, and white and/or ivory linens. Things like farmhouse and rectangle tables, different color linens, charger plates and funky wine glasses…pretty much everything you see on Pinterest, fall outside of the “basics”. Work with your caterer to find out exactly what they provide so you know what you would be responsible for. 
Another thing to consider when securing rentals: set up. Specifically, you’ll need to know whom is going to handle the rentals when they are delivered to the venue and then whom is setting them up and breaking them down. You’re probably wondering who usually handles this and the answer is that it varies. Some rental companies we work with will bring in tables and chairs and place them for us, whereas other companies drop them off at the front door and bounce. If you don’t want to show up to your wedding to see 250 chairs stacked in piles, put together a plan and discuss how everything is being set up and broken down.

barn wedding

Designer’s Choice
Design elements are a great way to transform a venue whether it’s a museum or a banquet hall space. It’s not just about what’s on the table, but in the corners and on the ceiling and basically everywhere. The vibe of a wedding should extend past the reception room. You can transform any venue by creating a unique entrance space or changing up the chandeliers. 
Ceiling treatments are perfect for tented weddings, and tents are perfect for a lot of these non-traditional spaces. Fun fact: a lot of the barns available for weddings are small and max out at 150 guests. It’s because they were built to be a barn, not a wedding venue. Because of this, many of the barn weddings we plan at include bringing in a tent for the reception. We’ve also tented backyard weddings and weddings at arboretums, as well as other places where a roof isn’t included in the package.


 

Whether you’re using a tent or an actual ceiling, you can transform the space using flowers, lighting and draping. Flowers can be used with existing lighting fixtures, or even as a perimeter design. You can get creative with lighting by renting chandeliers to totally change up the feeling of the space, or use a wall wash color to pull together the entire design.
Draping is another way to transform any space and you’re not limited to just the ceiling. One bride we worked with absolutely hated her venue because everyone else had gotten married there or been in the space a hundred times before. We got permission to drape the entire space, including the walls, making the venue look completely different than it ever had before. 

barn wedding

As you’ve probably figured out by now, flowers and ceiling installations aren’t what anyone would consider “affordable”. If you truly want to transform your venue though, those are the best ways to do it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not any more affordable to work with a blank space than it is to transform a venue…but I warned you guys about that in the beginning. 

To Transform or Not to Transform?

Did you make it to the end of the blog? If so, thanks for sticking around. Still planning on transforming your wedding venue? Or are you getting married at an open space venue where you’ll be bringing everything in? 

What advice do you have for other brides and grooms? Was there anything in this blog that you hadn’t considered before? I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave them in the comments section below.

And if you are looking for help to transform your wedding venue or design a non-traditional space, contact us right now and let’s chat!

Dress Up Your Rehearsal Dinner & Invitations with These 3 Tips

Choosing your invitations and wedding stationery can be an overwhelming process. Where do you get inspiration and then how do you take that inspiration for your own wedding, without looking like everyone else’s? Check out this guest blog from our friends at Basic Invite, featuring tips to dress up your rehearsal dinner and invitations!

Check out this guest blog on our website from Basic Invite! 3 unique ideas for your rehearsal and wedding invitations that you need to know!

Most brides know what’s trending when it comes to wedding invitations and their special day. And for all of those pre-wedding celebrations like the bridal shower and bachelorette party… themes are where it’s at which makes those festivities just about as celebrated as the wedding. But there is one final moment before the most important day comes that is often overlooked, the rehearsal dinner!
Let’s face it, the day before the big day is so chaotic and unfortunately for the runner up rehearsal dinner things usually seem to be thrown together and the night always flies by. But rehearsal dinners deserve a bit more credit than that. It is the final moment for reflection and gathering and the single life after all!

script wedding invitation

So, let’s show rehearsal dinners some love this wedding season by using these three tips to dress it up!

Go Digital

Wedding websites are totally in right now and for good reason! We are living in the digital age and that means keeping up with people’s needs. Wedding websites make it so easy to let your guests know what’s going on ahead of time and in real-time with instant updates!

wedding invitation

Where does the rehearsal dinner fit in to this? Rather than including rehearsal dinner info in your wedding invitation suite use the address request function on your wedding website to request the addresses of your rehearsal dinner guests and send out separate personalized rehearsal dinner invites to just them.

Always Accessorize

Don’t forget to accessorize! Foil details make any invitation pop! With rehearsal dinner invites, that is no exception. Usually rehearsal invites are sent on a smaller invitation so finding an aspect you want to showcase like your names or the border and make it foil!
Choose from gold, silver, or rose gold to match your rehearsal dinner theme or wedding colors.

It’s All in the Details

Rehearsal dinners are usually a more intimate affair so this is the time to splurge on details! Whether your party is low-key and laid back or black-tie attire, set out personalized coasters for guests to grab or place their drink on.

floral wedding invitation

They can take it home as a favor and you get to keep the rest! It’s a super cute detail all new to Basic Invite. Choose a monogram design or upload a photo!
Put these ideas to use and head over to Basic Invite. They’re an online stationery design company providing brides with all things wedding stationery + more!