Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photog & Birthday Gifts

Just wanted to share some photographs that the amazingly talented Spencer Lum of 5West Studios took recently of myself and our dogs for my husband's birthday today! (PS: the husband LOVED this personal and unique gift better than anything I could have ever bought!)

Losing Faith ...

I recently got into a discussion with some brides regarding vendors and their promise to deliver on their contracts and services, so I want to post some thoughts here:

If you've met with a vendor and they tell you that they will get you a proposal/estimate or contract by a certain date - follow up with them! Obviously things arise, but your vendor should make every effort to get you a proposal as quickly as possible. If weeks go by and nothing comes to fruition, start making calls (or have your planner follow up) ... I view the post consultation time to be the most critical - how you communicate with potential clients instills faith in them that you are competent and will deliver on your services. If you've met with a vendor and a long time passes before you hear back from them - its probably best to move onto your next choice. If you don't have faith in them to send you a document - do you really have faith in them to show up on your wedding day?

Lastly, a contract is a contract is a contract. Its a legal document that states: Here is x,y, and z of the services I will provide you on such and such date, everyone signs it. Whatever is in there, your vendor must provide, by law! So, I was so surprised to hear from a bride that she's heard horror stories that couples have shown up for their wedding only to find that the wedding is nothing like what they've worked so hard to create! Venues switching rooms/spaces, decor being completly different - bands not showing up ... I was left speechless. I am hoping that these are "urban wedding myths". What have you heard?

Monday, March 30, 2009

The "Bible" ...

For anyone planning a wedding in New York City, I consider New York Magazine - Weddings to be the Bible. It contains fantastic suggestions on vendors and venues, it lists the most relevant vendors, and, most importantly - has articles that focus on real weddings and great tips from them. The Summer 2009 issue recently hit newsstands, and Anderson Green Events was lucky enough to be a part of it! The first clip is an awesome "cost cutting" article (applicable to all parts, not just NYC) and the next is a blurb about our firm. Enjoy! And, if you're in NYC, get a copy, its incredibly helpful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pomp & Circumstance

For me, the most important aspect of a wedding is the ceremony. Its why you're doing all this wedding planning! No wedding ceremony = no wedding reception. The ceremony is the heart & soul of your wedding - its publically declaring "hey, i love this person". So, in the wake of a recent client discussion AND el economia ... it got me thinking.

Ceremonies these days are more spiritual, more about the couple and include more cultural traditions than ever. But, ceremonies are getting shorter and shorter ... they are more to the point it seems. Which begs the question - how much should you 'dress up' the ceremony? Floral arrangements for ceremonies are always beautiful and so elegant and tasteful, but, if you're guests are going to be at the ceremony for less than 30 minutes, do you really need to spend $1,000's on arrangements? This is where my practical side chimes in and says, No. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying forgo any florals at the ceremony - on the contrary - I am saying - do florals that are tasteful and economic, no one is around long enough to appreciate the time and effort that went into them. Stick to one or two dramatic arrangements - perhaps something to demarcate the alter area, or choose something fun to drape on the rows of seats. And, if you can reuse these florals at your reception, even better.

Point in case - I spent a loooong time figuring out our ceremony arrangements with our florist, and to be honest, I don't remember them at all. Its a shame, because I know they were beautiful. And, if I don't remember them as the bride, its doubtful your guests do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Destination-wise ...

Friends of ours recently got engaged! They are planning a destination wedding and it got me thinking. What wedding these days doesn't count as a destination wedding? In this day and age, when guests are attending multiple weddings per year - it seems like everyone is having to travel in from somewhere. A few years ago, a destination wedding was when the couple picked a warm place and a resort to get married, now it can be Los Angeles, New York City, The Hamptons or even Grand Rapids, Michigan - if at least 20% of your guests have to travel, I'd consider it a destination wedding.

What does a destination wedding mean planning wise? I would say the first and main element is - the location of the destination and your location. How many times are you able to travel to your destination to go over planning & details? You have to be able to travel there at least once before the wedding to make sure that your expectations are being met. For me, this is a non-negotiable. After that, with the internet and email, you can work with your coordinator (also, for me, a necessary - if there isn't a person on-site at the venue or resort, hire someone who will travel there for your wedding weekend, even if just for peace of mind) to finalize all other details.

Also, keep in mind that not all of your invited guests will be able to travel to your destination. It doesn't mean that they don't want to celebrate with you, it just means that financially or work wise, they can't afford it. Just accept their congratulations and move on.

Finally, think about why at the heart of your wedding, is a destination right for you as a couple? Perhaps the place holds lots of sentimental value, perhaps the place is where you fell in love - make sure your guests know why they are traveling to x,y and z location. Since it is important to you, it should be important to your guests. Keep them in the know!

As an aside - we had a destination wedding ourselves ... in East Hampton, NY. most guests didn't need to fly in (although some did) but we did have to keep in mind that everyone is on a different budget and that we had to offer something for everyone. We originally wanted to have our wedding in South Africa (where I am from), but quickly realized that most of our friends probably wouldn't want to give up precious vacation days and money to spend a week with us ... plus, we'd have to become travel agents and organize a lot of activities (which, I still think would have been fun, but that's just me!). Perhaps in a few years we can renew our vows in one of these amazing South African locations:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring has Sprung ...

Well, its officially spring. At least by way of the calendar, not the temperature. I love spring mainly because it means that summer is almost here and because brides get more choices for flowers, colors, wearing a sleeveless dress isn't such a cold idea and most importantly because the days are longer and more venues just plain look better!

In the wake of the past few weeks (a wedding, which went well and I can't wait to see photos from), to an impromtu mini vacay with the husband and frenchies - we've got a lot going on and I can't wait to share it all with you! Exciting news coming in the new few weeks - stay tuned.

Now, back to some planning advice:

You've found the perfect venue - for whatever reason - the date is available, the space is incredible, you can hold your ceremony and reception there with minimal resetting, something about the place makes you feel wonderful ... but ... the cost is too high. I hear about this all the time - what should I do? Firstly, make a list of all the pro's and the con's (and the con list can't just be a single line item of: price). Ask for a copy of there contract - get into the nitty gritty. Perhaps they charge for elevator usage or overtime for break down and load out. Maybe they require you to pay for a bathroom attendent, or maybe, you get so many additional items included that the price is well worth it. Once you've got this list, start negotiating. (Personal secret - until I met my husband (the #1 negotiator in the world), I hardly negotiated. He taught me that practically everything is up for negotation - so true!) You want to show the venue that you're interested but don't let on that you're madly in love with the place, it gives them the leg up if you do. Ask if there is any way for a price reduction (feel free to name drop here: the present economy), or if we did away with certain elements having to do with caterering, or if you did everything earlier in the day ... by bringing specific items to the table instead of just demanding a price decrease, the venue may be more amenable. The worse they can say is no.

If you are unable to get a reduction in price, but have to have your wedding there, please do not start thinking "ok, now what do I have to give up?". We don't give up anything - we reshuffle our budget and place more importance on aspects that really matter, and find ways to spend less on aspects that aren't as important to you. Its all about compromise (and creative research!).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Final Preparations ...

Once you've sent your seating arrangements off to the calligrapher, what's next?

If you are doing favors, order your supplies and get them organized.

Make sure your timeline is finalized and that every vendor has a copy - if you hired a planner (even just a Day Of planner) they will do this for you.

Make a list of your entire bridal party with their cell numbers.

Go through your ceremony details with your bridal party and your officiant - before the rehearsal! It will make the rehearsal run much more smoothly.

If you are doing welcome bags for out of town guests - get them organized and ready to go! If you are dropping them off at a hotel or other accomodation - write explicit directions!

For your venue - drop off anything you will need on the wedding day a few days in advance. This can include - cake knife, special toasting glasses, a birdcage or similar for gifts, any other items that you want included!

Once you've gotten everything squared away (a few days before the wedding hopefully!) - RELAX!

Happy Planning!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Countdown ...

In the spirit of our upcoming Wedding this weekend, I thought I would include some tips on how to manage your planning phase as it comes to end as your big day draws nearer and nearer!

Finalizing details - what does this entail?

During the last month before your wedding day, you should have received all your RSVPs (and for the delinquents - tracked them down and shaken an answer out of them!). Now, decide if you are doing seating arrangements and what kind - are you just placing people are tables or are you giving your guests a specific chair to sit in during the reception? Once you've pick your seating plan preference - place your guests accordingly. Then get all this information over to your calligrapher to have your escort cards and/or place cards written up.

Next detail tomorrow!

Happy Planning!