Archive for April, 2011

April 23, 2011

A Wedding Nightmare: Why You May Want to Hire a Professional Wedding Planner

The Stressed Out Bride

Are you on the fence about hiring a wedding planner/coordinator?  As a planner, of course, I recommend that you hire one, and do it soon.  I could go on to list the obvious pros for hiring a planner, but I’m sure you’ve already seen that list on every other major wedding site.  So, let’s take a look at things from a different point of view.  A dear friend of mine who is an on site venue coordinator, not a wedding coordinator shared a great story about a bride and groom who did not have a wedding planner.

“I am the venue on site coordinator, this means that I handle rental requests and walk clients through the process of using our facility for special events.  From this vantage point, I am responsible for having the venue ready for the client’s set-up team and then monitoring the facility during the event, not their wedding.  I don’t really have any responsibilities as a planner in these instances.

Here’s my account of a wedding that I witnessed first hand as the venue coordinator.  Guess what, the bride and groom didn’t hire a planner! They are a perfectly lovely couple.  Sweet, in love, and blissfully unaware of what happened (and didn’t happen as they wished) at their reception venue while they were at the church.  (Let me preface my story by saying it’s very hard to stand by and watch things fall apart, I like to have my ducks in a row.)

Regrets

It’s a beautiful Saturday in August.  The lovely couple has planned a late afternoon ceremony and the guests are scheduled to arrive for the reception at 5:00 p.m.  I arrive at the venue at 12:30 p.m. to do a walk-through and check thermostats, turn on lights, etc.  (The venue policies allow clients to have access to the facility 4 hours prior to the event start time.)  I’m expecting vendors to begin arriving at 1:00 p.m.  The bride confirmed with me the week before that everything is all set and everyone knows when to arrive and where to deliver.

The tables and chairs are all set up but design elements like linens, floral, candles, etc. still need to be set up.  This is perfectly normal in terms of event set up and nothing seems out of place at this point.  Until I walk into the office and find a conference room full of flowers.  Hmmm.  A few questions later and I learn that the florist was told to bring the flowers over “sometime in the morning”.  Since the linens had not yet been delivered or placed, she couldn’t set up her centerpieces.  So, into the conference room they went.  Where was the florist now?  She had to go to her next delivery.  Who’s going to move all these flowers? Seems no one knows.

Disapointed Groom

Another hour goes by and we still don’t have linens on the tables.  I decide to make some calls and track down the caterer.  There’s no one else around from the family or wedding party, so it appears that no one has been given the task of checking on the reception set up.  The caterer tells me that yes they are providing the linens but had planned on bringing them at 4:00 p.m. when they arrive to set up.  Do you see the problem yet?  We now have two vendors (the florist and the caterer) that are dependent on each other who do not have an integrated timeline.  (Wedding day timelines are VERY important.  All vendors should have one a week before the wedding, and your wedding planner will do this)

I ask the caterer to send someone over with the linens early so that the flowers can be placed.  He happily agrees and it looks like things are back on track.  But, we still don’t have anyone to place the flowers.  (You can probably guess at this point how those flowers are going to make it to the tables.)  The linens arrive in a flash and since no one else is around I begin covering the tables, even though this is not my job (Yes, this would be a job for the wedding planner, or someone that she delegates to.)

Not The Emotion You Want To Be Feeling On Your Wedding Day

Red flag number three!

Red Flag, Warning!

We only have linens for the guest tables.  Another call to the caterer reveals that his contract states they only provide linens for the buffet and guest tables.  All others are the responsibility of the client.  That means that the cake table, DJ table (which proves to be a problem later), gift table, sweetheart table, and candy bar are all left bare.  Hmmm, ok well maybe the bride is sending someone over soon with specialty linens? I wouldn’t know because I was never given a wedding day timeline and there is no wedding planner to ask (Again, VERY important, people!)

Next up the cake delivery.   I point her to the cake table (still with no linen) and she looks at me expectantly with the obvious question.  At this point, I can’t stand for this and decide to go rummage through the storage closet to see if we have any linens that could do the job.  I find a somewhat respectable white linen and the cake lady and I make the best of it.  Did the florist leave any extra flowers for decorating around the cake, she asks.  Well, no.  Was she supposed to?  No one seems to know.  The cake table remains bare!

Onto the candy bar.  A friend of the bride shows up and begins unloading boxes of candy, glassware and all the fixing’s for a candy bar.  Everything but the linens, that is.  That’s right! You guessed it! She doesn’t have any linens for all those extra tables either.  She also confirms that the bride didn’t make arrangements for those tables.  What to do, what to do! ( a wedding planner would of thought of this)  Back to the storage closet I go only to find one less than perfect round linen (It’s for an oblong table not round.)  But wait, the office manager at the venue thinks she has two tablecloths in the trunk of her car left over from a previous event.  They are clean enough and our this is our only option so we grab them. (used table cloths!eeek)  Candy bar friend begins her work.

In the meantime, the DJ arrives to set up and asks for a table linen. (Seriously, this should not be this big of a problem, but clearly the communication ball was dropped.) He ends up using two round linens overlapped on an eight-foot table.  Not pretty.  Now the candy bar friend resurfaces and says, “Where do I need to put the price list for the cash bar?”  What?!  Seems the bride and groom decided to change the hosted bar to a cash bar at the last minute and they didn’t let us know.  (Don’t ever do this without consulting your venue.  Cash bars require different licensing and often that means a special occasion permit. And if you had a wedding planner they would have been able to save you enough money so you wouldn’t have to hold a cash bar, tacky). Now I’m off to confer with the bar service to confirm that we are all set with appropriate licensing.  When the bartender arrives he’s very frazzled and moving a lightning speed.  No one else seems to notice that he could have a problem so I step in to see how I can help (not my job).  I lend a hand and chat away only to find out that the original person scheduled for this evening backed out an hour ago and he was called in at the last minute.  He has exactly 30 minutes to unload supplies, prep the bar and get his act together (a wedding planner would have been handy here)

Timing Is Everything

At this point, I realize that the bride and groom miscalculated on the travel time between the church and the reception venue.  I feel obligated to tell the vendors (like caterer, bar service, DJ) that I believe the guests will be arriving about 20 minutes earlier than anticipated.  What’s the big deal? A lot of last minute preparations typically happen at the reception venue within those last 20 minutes.  Think candle lighting, bar set up, catering prep.  Everyone takes note and scrambles to adjust their timing.  Without the heads-up from me (should have been the wedding planner), the wedding guests would have arrived on a scene of vendors rushing around to complete their set-up.  Not something you want as a first impression for your party.

So right on cue everyone arrives and the party begins.  Have I mentioned the importance of a timeline?  Throughout the evening, the DJ should keep the festivities rolling by announcing important moments such as the arrival of the bride and groom, the toast, the cutting of the cake, the first dance.  Not at this wedding.  He didn’t have a timeline!  So, the bride herself had to keep giving him cues for announcements.  It should be the other way around (poor bride).

Bridzilla

Did the guests have fun? Absolutely!  Were the bride and groom blissfully married? Yes.  But, it could have been so much better with the help of a good planner.  The venue coordinator is not really responsible for styling your event or coordinating your vendors (unless they are contracted to do so).   Why were so many things overlooked?  I believe the bride and groom just didn’t know about all the details that needed attention.  They didn’t know to ask about linens when meeting with the caterer.  They didn’t know that the vendors should have been scheduled for deliveries in a specific order.  They just didn’t realize.  They weren’t available during set-up (for obvious reasons) to point people in the right direction and to double check the deliveries.”

Here’s my disclaimer – yes in a RARE instance, you can plan your own wedding and handle the day-of details with the help of some good friends and family.  Is it as easy as it should be? No, there is plenty of stuff that you will not think of that a wedding planner will.

Now, it’s up to you to decide.  How would you like to spend your wedding day?

Bride Having Fun On Her Wedding Day

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April 16, 2011

Spice Up Your Wedding Favors

As the heat rises, we have summer weddings on our minds, and we are so excited to share our latest inspiration: spicy wedding favors!

We came up with a few sizzling ideas that summer wedding guests are sure to enjoy, and because most of these are DIY projects that brides can make ahead of time, they are also major money saving ideas. Worried about the projects being time consuming? Elicit the help of your bridesmaids and make it a fun “night in” a few weeks before the big day!

Curry paste

Looking for an ethnic twist to the idea of a spicy wedding favor?

Grab your mortar and pestle and get to grinding! Simple Thai curry recipes require very few ingredients and can be whipped up in an afternoon. Attach a recipe to the jar of paste (we love this butternut squash and red curry recipe!) to help guests put their new gift to use.

Chili chocolate

Salted caramels and chili chocolates are currently all the rage in the world of chocolatiers: jump on this trend by giving them to your guests as a thank you. Search online for your local artisan chocolate shop; or better yet, stop into their store for a tasting!

Jalapeno jam

Strawberries come into season around June: put them to good use by creating this delicious jalapeno and strawberry jam. The sweetness of the strawberries works well in contrast with the spicy jalapenos, creating a unique favor your guests are sure to rave about.

Once Wed- Photo credit Steven Myers

Not a fan of super spicy things? Limit the number of jalapenos in the recipe for a jam with a little less kick (or add a few more jalapenos if you’re really brave!). There are also many stores that carry spicy jams that will make a perfect favor for your guests if you do not have the time to make your own.

 Pepper seeds or baby pepper plants

Giving guests packets of flower seeds has grown in popularity over the last few years.

Giving guests packets of flower seeds has grown in popularity over the last few years. We suggest a spin on this popular gift: give guests a packet of spicy pepper seeds instead of the typical flower seeds, or give a small seedlings that they can take home to plant. Guests will think of you and your wedding in the late summer when their peppers begin to ripen!

Salsa

Try making your own salsa (which is SO simple to do!) and buy basic jars to seal them in. Finish off the treats with a personalized label: there are plenty of kits on the market (and free downloads on the internet), or you can create your own using a program on Martha Stewart’s website. We like this simple canned salsa recipe from Pick Your Own: they even break down the cost of canning ($0.95 per jar—including the cost of the jar itself—if you grow your own tomatoes, and slightly more if you purchase them. Not bad!)

Spice rub

Another fun and incredibly simple spicy wedding favor is an all-purpose spice rub.

Martha Stewart

A simple recipe of salt, brown sugar, paprika, oregano and thyme make a delicious addition to any grilled chicken or vegetables, and making the favor is a snap: simply combine the ingredients and store in a tin or small spice jar, and finish it off with a DIY label.

Spicy BBQ sauce

From The Stone Soup

Guests will most certainly enjoy a bottle of homemade barbecue sauce: for brides who have not made it before, believe it or not, the majority of recipes call for a few very simple ingredients: ketchup, chilies, brown sugar, paprika and onions. We love this recipe from The Stone Soup: unlike many other BBQ sauce recipes, she also teaches you how to sterilize your jars so that the sauce will last for months, and has an instructional video on the process.

For the Saucy Couple!

Spicy pickles

Emerils Pickles

Pickles are the perfect topping for burgers grilled at upcoming summer barbecues (and a delicious treat on their own!). Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for spicy pickles on the Food Network has received rave reviews from amateur cooks.

As we have said before, the wedding favor is a chance to thank your guests for their love, their support as friends or family, and their dedication to the two of you as a married couple. In essence, it is a chance to say “thank you” to some very important people, for some very important reasons! But just because the symbolism of the wedding favor is serious does not mean that wedding favors cannot be fun. We encourage our brides to find a gift that is creative, reflective of the couple, and above all, something that the guests will actually use. Have fun spicing up your wedding with our suggestions!

April 11, 2011

Repurposing Items: DIY Vintage Green Projects

We love the idea of incorporating rustic and vintage looks into a wedding: a touch of “something old” here or there adds a lot of charm to your big day… and if the project is refurbishing gently used items, then costs will certainly stay down! We came up with a few fun, inventive projects to inspire our future brides.

Antique tea cups and saucers as table settings and wedding favors

A fun, quirky idea for a table setting is to use old, mismatched teacups and saucers. We love the idea of a table set with these beautiful pieces, which can be picked up for a few dollars at any antique store. They can also be used as a party favor for each guest by pouring wax into each tea cup as a unique candle gift.

CraftStew.com

Boutonnieres from old books

Image from Van Horn Visuals Photography

Instead of the traditional boutonniere with cut flowers, use paper from old books (you can pick one up at a thrift store for pennies!), making the project both cost-saving and eco-friendly.

Burlap and lace ring bearer pillow

Grace Antiques at Etsy

Any old pillow can be recovered with burlap and then finished off with lace for this fun, country-inspired ring bearer pillow. It is a perfect touch for a summer wedding with a country feel! Not a crafty bride? Grace Art and Antiques from Etsy.com sells beautiful ring bearer pillows made from burlap and lace.

Mason jars

Image Courtesy of Moureen Lunn

Mason jars add a touch of home and comfort to any event, and can be purchased very cheap. Fill them with fresh stems or tea lights, then hang them from eaves or sprinkle them throughout the wedding and reception sites for little country touches here and there. After the wedding, use the jars for canning homemade treats, or stock up on them in your kitchen and channel your inner Southerner with some sweet tea!

Lanterns By Treasure Again

Moss

Instead of a table runner, use moss to decorate your tables for a romantic feel. Purchase the moss yourself and then sell it to a party store after your big event, or save it for future soirees that channel the feelings of romance and the outdoors. We love this one from Bragging Bags on Etsy.

Bragging Bags from Etsy

Moss can also be used as an alternative for the traditional ring bearer pillow, incorporated into boutonnieres, corsages and bouquets, or as centerpieces or wedding favors, like with this fun DIY project from Project Wedding.

From Poject Wedding

Old bottles: painted for a fresh touch of color

From Dianne Zweig "The Kitchy Collector"

Style Me Pretty-Sedona Bride Photographers

Collect old bottles from flea markets and thrift stores to use as table décor: a simple stem in each is an adorable addition to any table.

Photo By Carly Taylor

For added color, mix 1 cup of water with 4 cups of paint and dip the bottom of the bottles into the mixture: after they dry, use a wet cloth to remove paint and make designs in the bottles (since you added water to the paint, it will come right off with a wet cloth).

Potted plants as decorations and parting gifts

Who says you always have to use cut flowers for your wedding decor? Wine barrels that are cut in half make great planters: set one on either side of your archway for an eco-friendly ceremony decoration and fill them with flowers and ivy.

Use potted plants to decorate the aisles and the tables as well: guests can take them home as favors and enjoy their beauty throughout the year!

Image courtesy of intimateweddings.com

We hope that these ideas inspire our brides to add some creative, homemade touches to their weddings. Best of luck and congratulations to each of our couples who are planning their upcoming spring and summer nuptials!

April 3, 2011

Reinventing the Late Night Reception Snack Bar

Guests work up an appetite as they dance the night away, and we can’t think of a better way to fuel them than with the late night snack bar. The candy bar has gained in popularity over the last few years, but we thought we’d take the idea a step further: we put together some unique ideas for spring and summer wedding snack bars that are sure to re-energize your guests for the next round of dancing!

Ice cream bar

From My Bride Story

Cold ice cream is a perfect way to cool off after a few dances, and we love the look of the toppings arranged on a table in a pretty display. For added flare, order personalized wooden spoons. We found these adorable ones from Paper Cup Design:

From Paper Cup Design

Vintage Sundae Bar

Cookies and milk

Nothing says “late night snack” like the traditional cookies and milk. We love how these tiny cookies look when arranged on top of little shots of milk, and the guests are certain to enjoy!

From My Bride Story

Veggie Bar

Opt for the healthy late night snack: set up cut veggies and fruit and supply different dips for each: hummus is an excellent combination with sliced carrots and cucumbers, and caramel is a delicious dip for fresh sliced apples and pears. Make sure your caterers lightly coat the fruits with a mixture of lemon and water: the citric acid will keep fruits from browning.

The Veggie Buffet

Popcorn bar

The ideas for popcorn flavors are endless (caramel, kettle corn, parmesan, truffle oil, cheddar… we could go on and on!) and so are the ways to display popcorn for your guests’ late night treat. We love the idea of apothecary jars displaying each of the popcorn flavors alongside little bags to serve up the treat.

Cereal bar

A new idea that is sure to catch on is the cereal bar. The setup is simple—just a few containers with your favorite childhood cereals, a pitcher of milk, and some bowls and spoons—but the idea is fresh, new and a surefire hit for hungry guests. Who doesn’t love a late night bowl of Cap’n Crunch?


We love each of these fun, fresh ideas and can’t wait to incorporate them into our upcoming summer weddings!