Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned: Being a Smart Bride

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned

I was fortunate enough to be trusted with the wedding planning of a dear friend's older sister. My friend called me just after Christmas last year and said "My sister just got married and she wants to get married in eight months. Please tell me it isn't possible!". Much to my friend's horror, I said yes, its possible. For some couples a shorter engagement just works better. But, it only works well though if you are a decisive bride and a decisive groom. Since you have less time to gather information and ideas, you need to be willing to act quickly to make decisions. {That being said, never ever rush a decision or act impulsively, just recognize that you can't mull over things for months on end}

We did plan their wedding in just under eight months and it was fabulous. The lessons that I learned from this bride have forever changed the way that I will plan weddings - her organization of time management was simply incredible. She is a busy woman with a very fast paced career and she knew that out of the roughly eight months we'd be planning the wedding that she would be away at trial for two months {two separate trips of one month each} which meant that when she was in town that her focus needed to be on her job and the wedding. Her fiance also has a busy career but she stressed to him how helpful it would be to her if he could pick up some of the slack whilst she was away. She trusted his judgement completely and for the aspects that the groom and I worked together on, he was a delight!

What this bride taught me was that time management skills really are an art and a lifestyle. We made appointments very far in advance, I kept her on track with extensive to do lists and cut information down from vendors into slices of concise and to the point offerings. By keeping each task small and manageable, she was able to plan the entire wedding with 3 months left to spare before the day. As we got closer, all we had left to deal with was details that were dependent on RSVP's. I was thoroughly impressed with her ability to look over information, process it and make a decision and stick to it. No waffling, no wavering - just trusting herself and her groom that the day was going to be fabulous no matter if they did a candy bar or not {we did!}.

As my mother always tells me "The early bird catches the worm" ... when it comes to Wedding Planning - have a clear timeline, keep focused and remember to trust your decisions and your vendors.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A very thankful Thanksgiving this year

Despite my mild shock that 2010 is only five weeks away and that my birthday looms ahead, I want to wish you, dear readers, the Happiest of Thanksgivings. I hope that you have a relaxing and yummy holiday.

Since it is the day of all days to show your gratitude and thankfulness, I thought I'd list a few of things that I am thankful for this year:

My family {and that fact that we're all relatively healthy}

My amazing Frenchies, Lulu & Max who teach me everyday not to take life too seriously

My wonderful friends who are always there to listen

My amazing clients who allow me to be apart of one of the most important days of their lives

And lastly, I am thankful have lots of love in my life - from many different sources!

{via Martha Stewart}

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned: An Effective Day Of Coordinator

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned

I will start this post off with a bit of clarity - a Day Of Coordinator isn't just for the Day Of. It is the worst description ever. If I was truly just a Day Of Coordinator - I would literally know nothing and show up on the wedding day and try to figure out what was going on. So, since that isn't the case, I refer to "DOC" as Month Of Coordination, as we would together for the month before the wedding to educate the planner on what you've planned, create a timeline, do a site visit to ensure that your "Day Of" Coordinator is clued into everything that you envisioned happening.

I find that most brides that hire a Month Of Coordinator do so because they want a smooth, flawless day. They realize that they want an insurance policy that has their best interest at heart {trust me, the in-house coordinator at your venue does not have your best interest at heart - they are on the side of the venue} and who will go above and beyond to make sure that your wedding day goes off without a hitch {or at least hide the hitches}. Therefore, in order to make your Month Of Coordinator work effectively - please give them all the information they need for your wedding day. Every contract, every bit of expectations, every vendor {no matter how insignificant} should be handed over for your coordinator to run through and get educated. To be honest, I am not reading your contracts trying to figure out how much money you spent, I am reading them to make sure that I know what has been promised to you by the vendor.

The lesson learned here is that you, the bride, need to tell your coordinator everything! I had a near unfortunate incident this year when a bride failed to mention that she was having an ice luge delivered for the wedding. Well, not that an ice luge was a big deal, but she never told me, the venue, the catering firm and the irony of all ironies, she had chosen a beverage package that didn't include vodka {apparently the ice luge drink of choice} ... which meant that the waitstaff had to scramble to rustle up some vodka and we had to re-arrange the room layout to accommodate the ice luge. Obviously everything got sorted out, but it set the vendors back in their timeline. Had I known about this element, I would have prepared everyone for it. Clearly, the bride didn't appreciate what else went into having an ice luge. So please, inform and educate your Month Of Coordinator.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Green Family Photos!

The husband, dogs and I were so lucky that Spencer Lum of 5West Studios had some time to do a family photo shoot with us a few weeks ago in the West Village. Check out some of the family:

I know that I completely biased, but seriously, my dogs, Lulu & Maxwell are insanely cute.

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned: The Out of Control Guest

Series: 2009 Wedding Lessons Learned

Weddings are a joyous and celebratory occasion ~ its only natural that drinking and celebrating have become two peas in a pod. I've encountered many a overzealous guests in my time and nine out of ten times, they are completely fine and harmless, just enjoying themselves and the open bar. The times though when a guest has one too many and becomes a liability, it puts your vendors in a very awkward position of being bouncers.

The particular wedding in which I am referring to, one guest made it her mission to be incredibly inebriated {at one point I thought she had been hazed, that's how bad it was}. She was seen in the hotel bar drinking for two hours prior to the ceremony, which meant that she was trouble from the beginning. {Don't get me wrong, I am all for having a few drinks here and there, but being sloppy and slurring before 3PM is just well, sloppy) She proceeded to spend the entire wedding either drinking more or harassing all the vendors. The bride kept insisting that she was fine, but her behavior was actually very detrimental to the service providers, never mind that we were on a rooftop and I kept having the most horrible visions ... the final nail in the coffin came when she made an unsolicited speech during dinner that was well, a once in a lifetime experience to hear. The bride was so hurt she left the dinner and I was put in the position of having to remove this guest from the wedding. Its not a role that I want to put in, but I will when the guest is ruining the celebratory atmosphere.

If you know before the wedding that certain persons are going to take things too far with alcohol, give your vendors the heads up. We have seen it all, but if we know who to watch for in the beginning, we can cater things so that theirs and yours night doesn't end up badly.

Monday, November 23, 2009

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned: Post Wedding - Dealing with Issues

Series: 2009 Wedding Lessons Learned

Every bride assumes that her wedding will go smoothly and seamlessly. And almost all do. Some minor snafu here and there may arise, but its normally dealt with very quickly and has no lasting affect. I, myself, endured such a thing on my own wedding day when our cocktail tent which was attached to the side of the house, came crashing down 1 hour before cocktails and pulled off most of the side of the house. I was very lucky to only find out about this weeks after the wedding and even luckier that my day of coordinator dealt with it and got the issue fixed before guests arrived.

Enough about my wedding, getting back to a 2009 lesson learned - at one of our weddings this year, the bride had carefully chosen with the florist these beautiful silk lamps to complement the short centerpieces. When the room set up was complete, the room did look amazing and the lampshades were lit up with candles. Unfortunately, right before the first dance, several of these silk lampshades went up in flames. It wasn't out of control or dramatic, but it did ruin the look of the table since we had to pull the burnt ones off the table and extinguish the candles in the ones that hadn't burned yet. The bride was not fussed and glad that we were able to remedy the situation quickly. The issue only really got out of hand when the florist arrived at evenings end and claimed that we were lying. It was evident that the shades had burned, but she still refused to believe us. In fact, she charged the bride to replace them. It became a match of she said / she said and it left a sour taste in both my mouth and the brides mouth.

The bride and I were left with repeatedly calling and explaining what had happened. We checked with the videographer in the hopes that they had caught it on film {sadly, not}. It took lots and lots of persistence to finally get the florist to see that it was simply just an accident. My bride was left with a poor impression of the florist because of the way she had handled the situation. Not exactly how she wanted to end things.

The lesson learned here is that things will happen on your wedding day that are out of your control, but that dealing with them quickly post wedding will give you a better lasting impression of that vendor ~ positive referrals speak volumes versus ending the relationship with a spat.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Wedding Lessons Learned: Contracts & Honesty

Series: 2009 Wedding Lessons Learned

Our 2009 wedding season started out with a huge lesson to be learned. I've discussed this topic frequently here on the blog, but it needs to be said over and over again. GET CONTRACTS FROM ALL YOUR VENDORS! No matter how involved your vendor may or may not be on the wedding, get their services and pricing in writing and have it signed by yourself and the vendor. A contract, above and beyond making things binding, is a guaranteed way to ensure that you get the service that you believe you are paying for on the wedding day, from the person you believe it is being provided by.

This lesson learned was learned by my client the hard way, when she learned 3 days before the wedding day that whom she believed was her hairdresser for the big day actually was scheduled elsewhere. I had insisted to the bride that she get a contract from the salon, but she assured me that the salon was professional and had everything together. Turns out, they just wanted her money and were prepared to leave my bride and bridal party out in the cold. We were fortunate enough to have time to fix the situation once we found out that the salon was backing out, but what if we hadn't had time?

Please please please, get contracts from everyone involved in your wedding day. If you've hired a coordinator, we want to see every last contract {including, yes, the ice sculpture being delivered} to ensure that you get what you paid for.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Series: 2009 Wedding Lessons Learned

As promised, over the next few weeks I'll be posting a new series called "2009 Wedding Lessons Learned". After each wedding that I am apart of, I sit down and write a debriefing. This debrief includes what I thought went well, what I thought went poorly, as well as reactions and feedback from my clients. While it would be naive to say that every wedding goes 100% smoothly and that there are no errors, being behind the scenes means that I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I decided to write this series to help you, the brides and grooms and vendors out there as a way so that we can get closer to 100% perfection. Vendors see ALOT in this industry and every idea that's out there that you may want to include may not always be the most successful or appropriate for your wedding. I will aim to deconstruct as much as possible from what I have seen at each of the weddings I was apart of this year to ensure that you get the big picture!

If you have any comments or questions, please do ask!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

St. John Wedding

For those that follow me on Twitter know that yesterday we flew down to Puerto Rico to board a cruise ship for 3 days to celebrate our friend's wedding in the Carribean. Today is the day that our friends, Adam & Kim are tying the knot! We are so excited to be sharing their wedding day with them.

{via Island Style Weddings}

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wedding Etiquette Wednesdays

Every Wednesday, I will try to shed some light on a Question that I find floating around the wedding'sphere.

Are couples expected to send thank you cards to guests who don't send a gift or bring a card to the wedding?

While you'll assume that everyone you invite to your wedding {and particularly those that actually attend the wedding day events} will give you a present, its not always the case. I've found that its not out of spite, its out of forgetfulness. Since guests have a lot of time to get you a present {pre-wedding day and then up to the 1st Anniversary} there's ample room to simply forget.

For every gift you receive {even if it is multiples from one guest} - they in turn must receive a thank you note for each gift they've given you. Your thank you note doesn't need to be some huge long letter, just a simple note {handwritten} thanking them for the gift + your intended use of said gift and that's generally enough. If they went above and beyond, let them know.

But, if a guest at your wedding simply attended the wedding but failed to give you a gift, there's no reason to send them a note thanking them for coming to the wedding. Ensure that throughout your reception, you stop at each table or group of people and thank them for coming. That personal attention to your guests is all that you need to do.

From Emily Post regarding thank you note etiquette:

•Anyone who gives you an engagement, shower or wedding gift, even if you have thanked them in person. Individual notes should be written to people who contributed to a group gift.
•Anyone who gives a gift of money: cash, checks, contributions to savings accounts and donations to charities. Mentioning the amount is optional, but it does let the person know the correct amount was received. You should mention what you plan to do with the money.
•Your attendants. A warm personal note attached to your gifts to your attendants will let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and support on your behalf.
•Anyone who hosted a party or shower for you. Ideally these notes should be written within two days of the event. Each host or hostess should be thanked individually with a note and a thank you gift.
•People who house or entertain your wedding guests. A note and a small gift should be sent to anyone who houses or entertains out-of-town wedding guests.
•People who do kindnesses for you. The neighbor who accepts delivery of your gifts when you are at work; the cousin who supervises the parking at the reception – anyone who assists you before, during or after your wedding.
•Suppliers and vendors. You don’t have to write everyone you hire for services, but anyone who exceeds your expectations will appreciate a courteous note of thanks.
•Your parents or whoever is hosting your wedding.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Real Wedding: Victoria & Vijay

We were so excited to plan and coordinate Victoria & Vijay's wedding in Saratoga Springs. They chose to have their ceremony at Victoria's childhood church, The Church of Holy Trinity, which was so beautiful and touching. The reception took place at the gorgeous Hall of Springs, which originally was a water bottling facility turned now into an event space. The wedding was a great combination of Victoria's home roots and Vijay's Indian heritage. My favorite part was the impromtu appearance of a popular Mumbai DJ who got everyone to Jai Ho throughout the hall.

Father and Daughter entering the Church

Simple and elegant bouquet - Victoria wanted an elegant and streamlined look

Love the reflecting pool on the Hall of Springs grounds. During their photo session, we witness some random people taking a swim to cool off - probably not the intended use of the pool!

The entire reception area

We had a combination of large arrangements and then smaller arrangements with candles. The bride's mother sewed the table runners to match the invitation suite which was made in India

We ended the evening with a fun candy bar - which the adults seemed to love more than the kids!

Venue: Hall of Springs, Saratoga Springs
Photographer: Seth from Niki Rossi Photography
Flowers: Sunflowers

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Musings

Paris, je t'adore ...

"The arms of love encompass you with your present, your past, your future, the arms of love gather you together."

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weekly Round Up

For the past week or so, Emilie Duncan, a wedding planner, has written a series on information that vendors wish brides knew. I implore you to check it out. There is a ton of HELPFUL information in here that will make your experience with your vendors a million times better.

Paloma's Nest, a fabulous creative firm that invented the original ring bearer bowl has got some incredible holiday gift items for sale - check them out for unqiue gifts!

I hope that everyone has an amazing weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poll: What does Today's Bride Want?

Most of the advice that I offer up on this blog comes not only from my professional experience of wedding planning, but also from my experience as a bride. I aim to share insight that is practical, realistic and most importantly ~ applicable to all. Having been a bride I can relate to the stress, drama, excitement and pure elation that each of you feel.

I would like to take a moment to hear from YOU, on what you think Today's Bride wants. Is it calm during a sea of tulle? Is it assurance knowing that the awesome vendors you've picked will create and execute all your wedding day desires? Is it knowing that your day of coordinator is the best money you spent? Or is it the feeling that no matter what happens on your wedding day, you get to marry your best friend and that's the only important aspect?

Share your thoughts / wants / needs ... the advice I write is meant to be helpful to you, so I want to make sure that it is!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Notes from a Wedding Planner

Firstly, I am in total shock that it is November. What happened to this year so far? It zoomed by. Since we're now headed into Holiday madness, all I can think of is Turkey, Christmas Tree's and being wrapped up in a scarf, my new hat from Land's End and walking around Fifth Avenue in the freezing cold while sipping hot cider. Let the Season of Good Tidings begin!

Before all the holiday craziness gets everyone riled up, a few announcements and such:

If you're planning a holiday party, please consider hiring us to help make the process and event go smoothly. Want to be a guest at your own affair? We can ensure that is what happens

Our 2009 Wedding Season is drawing to a close in the next few weeks ~ the weddings have been AMAZING this year and we are so proud to be involved with them and the fabulous couple's who hired us. In honor of the 2009 season, I will be posting a Series on "What A Wedding Planner Learned from 2009" which will encompass all the takeaways I learned from this year - the great, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. What worked and what failed, what drove the bride and groom nuts and what made them ridiculously happy. Series will begin on November 15th, so stay tuned!

Newer Posts Older Posts Home