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Jekyll Island Convention Center Wedding
Dec 26 2016

How to Plan Your Outdoor Wedding

Jekyll Island Convention Center Wedding

Jekyll Island Convention Center Wedding Photo by: Tamara Gibson Photography

Outdoor wedding planning can be nerve wracking– while you have the allure of a beautiful wedding ceremony at sunset and reception under the stars, you also have the possibility of dealing with blistering winds, excessive heat or torrential rains.We have some amazing wedding venues on Saint Simons Island and Jekyll Island.  Many of these wedding venues capitalize on all the elements that make a perfect Southern destination wedding:  the live oaks, spanish moss and ocean views. Each year, many a bride crosses her fingers and prays Mother Nature takes mercy on her special day.

What’s the best way to plan your outdoor wedding?  Well have no fear, we’ve got some great perspective for you to consider as you start your wedding planning. Review these tips when considering your options for venues–

Consider Your Space.  Some venues have great options for both outdoor and indoor event spaces.  If you are having any element of your wedding outdoors, be it the wedding ceremony, cocktail hour or wedding reception, double check that your venue has adequate backup space for each of those events.  This may require a flip at some point, but you want to ensure that you can confidently and comfortably move your event if necessary.

Consider Your Guest List. There are several venues that offer both indoor space, with an outdoor overflow for seating. These type of venues are usually best for strolling cocktail parties versus buffets or sit down dinners. This usually causes a problem when whether concerns rear their heads as you end up paying for a venue and a tent. As a rule of thumb, if possible, it is always best to keep your guests together as much as possible, to avoid additional, avoidable fees.

Consider Your Budget.  If your wedding is completely outdoors, be sure to add in the costs of a tent as soon as you have selected your venue.  This is important.  You do not want to get caught the week of your wedding scrambling to put money together for a tent.  Moreover, keep in mind– if it is the weather is less than ideal for you, it is also wreaking havoc for other outdoor weddings in your area. This will cause tents to become in high demand on a first come, first served basis. To avoid this stress, consider putting a deposit down for a tent after you’ve booked a venue.  This allows you to have a tent reserved for your event ahead of time, avoiding the rush if the weather takes a turn for the worse.  If you turn out not to need it, you will lose your deposit, but you’ll still have priority of having a back up plan. Af

Consider Your Design. When we design for our clients’ outdoor weddings, we always design for two different events– one under a tent or indoors, and one with ideal conditions. This allows us to prepare our clients for the possibility of less than ideal weather. This always helps tamper down disappointment or the chance that our initial design does not translate well into a contingency plan.

Consider Your Time of Year. Tents aren’t just needed for rain.  It gets very hot here in the South– especially in June to August.  The sun can be unbearable during an outdoor ceremony where guests are waiting up to 30 minutes prior to its start.  If you cannot find an indoor back up for your entire wedding, consider a chapel or ballroom for the ceremony and tent for the reception.  Speaking of rain– it doesn’t just fall vertically. Rain can come in at an angle.  This means in addition to your tent, you’ll also need to secure tent walls.  Heaters and fans can keep your guests comfortable, depending upon the weather would also be a good investment.

Consider Protecting Your Investment. Hurricane Matthew turned our quaint coastal town into an near shambles, canceling many events in the process. Sadly, many couples did not have wedding insurance protecting their event from such acts of God or lost deposits from vendors. Wedding insurance provides coverage for all kinds of instances that could affect your wedding — from damage to weather, it is certainly an investment worth making.

wedding planning advice discounts groupon thumbtack
May 10 2016

Your Wedding Planner is Not a Groupon

There is a very common misconception that your wedding planner’s main job is to get you amazing deals with wedding vendors.

That’s wrong.

Very wrong.

If you want discounts and deals, I suggest you head to Groupon or Thumbtack. If you want an expertly guided and planned wedding, where you are matched with the best vendors suited for your style and budget, I suggest you get a wedding planner. It may sound harsh, but I assure you– nothing is more frustrating and exhausting than sitting with couples who believe your sole goal is to get them discounts. It discredits your talent, skill and experience with one question– “What kind of discounts can you get us?”

Some ill-advised publications have led couples astray with the concept with wedding planners send so much business to a vendor, they in turn, discount their services for the wedding planner. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I am saying, don’t bank on it, and most certainly make that your sole reason for hiring a wedding planner. Any discounts that a vendor extends is done so at their sole discretion, not as an expectation.

So if your wedding planner can’t get you discounts, what can they do?

Glad you asked.

Your wedding planner will:

  • Help you establish and maintain a realistic budget
  • Assist in reconciling your vision with your budget
  • Match you with vendors that can help execute your vision within your budget

This can only be done through experience and good wedding planners have it.  With a wedding planner, their service and expertise is worth far more than a one time discount.  When managed correctly, your wedding planner can assist you in staying on budget and within vision, versus helping you afford vendors that may have  been out of your financial comfort zone.  And yes, your wedding planner may be privy to exclusives, price concessions and preferential treatment, but how they serve you is worth their weight in gold.

pinterest for weddings
Sep 08 2015

How Pinterest Will Ruin Your Wedding

pinterest wedding ideas pins boards inspiration wedding ceremony reception

Despite the title, I really love Pinterest. Perhaps that was a bit drastic.

Like most users, I’m addicted to Pinterest.  It’s like Target– I go in for one thing, come out 40 minutes later with a bunch of stuff I didn’t know I wanted.

Pinterest is great for inspiration.  It can show you things you didn’t know was possible or take your vision further than you’ve ever thought.  That’s great.  That’s also a problem.  I can’t tell you how many times brides send us their Pinterest boards or pins for their wedding want “exactly this” , having their heart set on beautiful bouquets, stylized tables and elaborate seating.  Visually, Pinterest is a dream.

bridal bouquet of roses and peonies Jekyll Island Beach Wedding Package

When the quotes come in, it’s a loud wake up call. Pinterest doesn’t tell you:

  • If the flowers in your pins are in season
  • How much the flowers in your pins cost
  • How much the rentals in your pins cost
  • The full scope of the venue

Classy wedding setting

These are some pretty important factors to consider.  In addition to the list above, many photos on Pinterest are styled shoots.  It’s far easier to produce such grandeur on a smaller scale than for 100+ guests. I’m not saying that Pinterest is the devil, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great source of inspiration, not replication.

Here is how to use Pinterest to your advantage–

  • Search efficiently – First, start with a search of your wedding venue to see what has been done there and what works.   Next, search for inspiration ideas with the flowers that are in season. Picking flowers that are in season will help you keep your costs down, as well as your hopes aligned with your inspiration. Don’t know what flowers to pick for your wedding? Get our wedding flowers in season download.   See what you like and don’t like.
  • Reality Check – Make sure the linens, tables and that you’ve found during your search will work in your venue.  For example, if your venue comes with round tables, but your centerpieces that you love are on wood farm tables, the translation will not be the same.
  • Request Quotes – Request quotes from florists and rental companies with the inspiration and ideas you’ve gathered so far. Be sure to include the florals that you found to be in season, as well as your rental needs (chargers, chairs, linens, etc.).  Most importantly, include your budget.  If you’re not sure how much to budget, check out our How Much Do Weddings Cost post.

 

20 Reasons You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding

This is important.

So important that during every client’s logistics consult, we ask if clients would like to have an unplugged wedding.

Every. Single. Time.

Most of our clients haven’t heard of it and when they google the term, come back immediately and say, “YES! We want one!”.  The remaining will say something to the effect of, “No, we think it’s really fun to see all the images that our guests take of our wedding”.  And that sounds good in theory, until you get your images back and crucial or memorable moments have been ruined by an influx of guests with their arms held high in the air with their cell phones, cameras and iPads.  I can’t imagine how deflating it must be to get your images and see your absolute favorite shot, to have it ruined by clutter and intrusion.  The fact of the matter is, you’ve invested a great deal of money in the talent you’ve hired document your day.  Part of that talent is their interpretation of your day’s events, not photoshopping people out of them.  It is rare that there is a picture that your guests will take that will rival the professional quality of the one your photographer will take.  Your guests’ pictures aren’t as important as your photographer’s– period.  Your guests aren’t as invested in your images as you are. They are just moments that will sit on their phone and will ultimately be deleted. For you, this is the moment.

 

So without further ado, here are 20 reasons you should have an unplugged wedding:

Photo by Samantha Melanson

Photo by Samantha Melanson

Photo via Be A Bride

Photo via Be A Bride

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by Corey Ann Photography

Photo by DNM Wedding Films

Photo by DNM Wedding Films

Photo by Joesan Photo

Photo by Joesan Photo

Photo by Kelly Cameron

Photo by Kelly Cameron

Photo by Krista Photography

Photo by Krista Photography

Photo by Lapis Lazuli Photography

Photo by Lapis Lazuli Photography

Photo by Lemon Tree Film House

Photo by Lemon Tree Film House

Photo by Leon Bailey

Photo by Leon Bailey

Photo via Masterpiece Weddings

Photo via Masterpiece Weddings

Photo by Misha Media

Photo by Misha Media

Photo by Mitchell Dyer

Photo by Mitchell Dyer

Photo via My Little Bridal Blog

Photo via My Little Bridal Blog

Photo by Neilvn

Photo by Neilvn

Photo via Proud to Plan

Photo via Proud to Plan

Photo by Rebekah Hoyt

Photo by Rebekah Hoyt

 

And I’ll just be honest– there are many ceremonies where the decor is sparse, the background is lacking, etc. either by choice or necessity.  A great photographer has the artistic ability to hone in on angles and details to make it look beyond fabulous.  When your guests get in the way, your photographer is greatly limited and has to widen the shot, not only including intrusive guests, but also missing out on making your ceremony look like a million dollars.

 

If you don’t need any more convincing, here are some examples of signs that can be put up at the entrance of your ceremony.  I suggest that you also have your officiant or coordinator make an announcement during the prelude as a reminder.

unpluggedsign1 unpluggedsign2 unpluggedsign3 unpluggedsign4

 

 

Relieve Wedding Stress by Pampering Yourself

Wedding planning can be stressful.  Timelines, guest lists, budgets, and meetings can take their toll on you– both physically and mentally.  Your eating habits can get out of whack, your sleep clock breaks down and your exercise routine can fall through the cracks.  It’s important to take at least one day a week, if you can afford it or at the very least, twice a month, to decompress and let the wedding plans stay on pause for a moment.

Well, Stella, we’re here to help you get your groove back!

 

Repair.

Hevia Skin Care

Make sure you have a great skincare program HEVIA MD SKIN SCIENCE™ has all of the essentials to keep you looking absolutely gorgeous before, during and after the wedding day. The exceptional skincare line, created by internationally-renowned cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Oscar Hevia, features the super-antioxidant Red Mangrove Extract, which features higher antioxidant potency than Vitamin C. The Skin Science kit includes a repair serum, day treatment and hand and body cream to help repair and prep your skin to be picture perfect.

 

Relax.

 Nature's Love Bath and Body Products

Spa treatments like facials and massages are great getaways for you to relax during your wedding planning process. Even quick mani/pedis are opportunities for you to regroup and relax.  The products from Love Nature NYC  help you create the spa treatment at home with their  natural and organic products that include body balms, scrubs, soap bars, hand poured candles and more.  Created with ingredients like mango butter (a personal favorite for skin complexions!), buttermilk powder, rose hips, and essential oils are the perfect way to pamper yourself right from home.  Having a moment to refocus and care for only yourself can be a great stress-reliever.

Laurie Kendal-Ellis, Executive Director of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association  recommends the five following techniques to alleviate wedding stress:

1.      Deep Breathing – improves energy levels and initiates a built-in relaxation response

2.      Muscle Relaxation – tenses and releases each muscle group individually and then collectively

3.      Body Stretches – consecutive stretches including that of the arms, lower back and chest

4.      Foam Rolling – a self-myofascial release technique using a foam roller to inhibit overactive muscles

5.      Racquetballing – a trigger point exercise using a racquetball to massage the tender muscles of the shoulder blades, where much stress tension lies

 

Rejuvenate.

One of my favorite things to give a boost to the system is juicing. Juicing allows your body a chance to recharge and detox.   Chaud’s Juice Therapy is a great place to start if you are not an avid juicer. There are some other great recipes for snacks that help you to end emotional or bad eating.

Make sure you are staying hydrated!  Water is imperative to keeping your metabolism functioning properly, as well as curbing hunger pains. While most doctors advise a little more than the old adage of “eight eight-ounce glasses per day”, it is still a great starting point.  And water doesn’t have to be boring! Infused waters are a huge favorite in our house.  Here are some of our favorites:

Infused Water

 

Most importantly: delegate, delegate, delegate! If you have a wedding planner or best friend who can take on tasks for you, allow them to do so, even if it is just a few tasks. It gives you the opportunity to recenter and enjoy life again!

do you need to seat everyone for your wedding? Cocktail wedding reception event party
Feb 26 2013

How to Have an Awesome Cocktail Style Reception

 

 

I’ve been talking to a few colleagues about this growing trend of brides wanting to do a cocktail style reception, yet having very heavy “buffets” that could be classified as a full meal instead of great hors d’oeuvres known as small plates.  We all came to the agreement that some couples unknowingly do their guests a disservice and  “if they have feet, they need a seat

Cocktail Style Reception ideas Photo by Harwell Photography

Photo by Harwell Photography

While I know there are differing opinions on this, but let’s consider the following:

•  If your food requires heavy dinner plates, it’s not necessarily a cocktail style reception, and a table should be offered to accommodate your guests.

•  It is absolutely horrid for guests to arrive at a reception without a seating chart or enough seating.  From someone who sees this a lot– they are very confused and at times frustrated.  From guests who want to sit together may find a table that lacks enough chairs to accommodate their party to being stuck  in an undesirable area that is far away from all the action.  Confusion grows deeper as it is not clearly communicated as to exactly whom is entitled to have one of the coveted tables. People get up and lose their seats which can be even more frustrating.

•  A lot of brides say, “We don’t need seating for every one because… my friends are young” or “they’ll be too busy dancing!” or “I don’t want it to be too formal”.  No one stands the entire time while drinking and dancing at some of the hottest clubs in Hollywood.  Why would you expect them to at your wedding, where they are expected to be treated as guests.  Expecting guests to stand for four hours is unrealistic.

•  It is extremely hard for some guests to juggle a plate of food, drinks, purse and whatever else they are trying to carry and enjoy themselves.  If most of the seated tables and cocktail tables are full, you have guests standing in open spaces trying to find a respite.  With non-wedding cocktail parties, this can work to an advantage, because not everyone is eating at the same time. People may be mingling, dancing, or participating in some other activity. With a wedding, most of your guests will be doing the same thing at the same time.  Be prepared for some guests to leave early.

Wedding Planning Advice Tips Ideas

To be clear, I’m not against cocktail receptions– I think they’re gorgeous, fun and allow for more mingling.  Most cocktail receptions, while lacking formal seating, does offer rest/lounge areas for their guests.  Brides believe that if their venue is small and they overinvite, they can switch to this style seating, under the premise of “not everyone needs a seat”.  A formal seat, no– not necessarily.  Somewhere to sit, absolutely. Here’s how to make it fabulous, but still with the vibrant cocktail party type atmosphere you want:

• You should have tables for at least 75% of your guest list.  You are not just limited full five and six foot tables. Incorporate a mix of different table sizes like cocktail tables, bistro tables  and even a banquet table or two to mix it up.  Offer a few with chairs and stools to give those a break if they need it.

Cocktail Style Reception Ideas

Cocktail Style Reception Seating Ideas

• If you don’t offer seating for everyone, then offer a lounge area where people can still relax, regroup and enjoy a cocktail and food.  Rent lounge furniture or incorporate furniture from your venue.  Make it your own by bringing in your own cushions and centerpieces to complement their furniture.

Wedding Lounge for Cocktail Style Reception

Wedding Lounge for Cocktail Style Reception

Outdoor Wedding Lounge for Cocktail Style Reception Ideas

• Don’t let this become a money issue.  Your guests would probably enjoy being comfortable more than a welcome bag or favor.  When we ask most of our couples what is most important to them on their wedding day, they say, “good food, good music and for everyone to have a good time”.  It can be hard to enjoy the good food from the five star caterer you hired or enjoy the smooth crooning of your 10 piece band if your guests are uncomfortable and frustrated.

•  Have a cocktail style reception because you want to. Not because you have to.  If your space dictates that only a certain amount of people can fit in your venue, be prepared to make the sacrifice.  With cocktail receptions, space and food are major issues.  You need enough room for people to flow in and out of the space comfortably, not spilling out and displaced.  You may have to sacrifice on the full dinner you wanted or cut your guest list down.  If you make the sacrifice, you still have many hearty options available to serve to your guests without them going away hungry.

Mini Burger Mini Grilled Cheese Mini Beer for Cocktail Hour Reception

Mini Fried Chicken and Coke Hors D'oeuvres Cocktail Hour Reception Corn and Crab Salad Hors D'oeuvres Cocktail Hour Reception

• Be sure there is something to do to keep people active and happy.  Naturally, you have your dance floor and your bar.  Some sort of table or seat will keep them busy and give them a place to keep their belongings, but get them to be interactive with games, a photo or video booth, a dessert or popcorn bar  or even a tour of your venue.  The more people have to do, the less they are standing in one spot.

Custom Cornhole for Weddings

Photo by Anna Pociask Photography

Chocolate Dessert Bar for Wedding

Photobooth for Weddings

5 Ways to Increase Attendance at Your Destination Wedding

We have a special guest blogger today– Nusair Bawla from HotelScouter!  Nusair shares his expertise and knowledge regarding planning successful destination weddings for you and your guests.

Most of us don’t have access to a beach and many of us don’t have a gorgeous mountainside in our backyard where we can get married. In fact, most of us Americans live in the mainland so it’sno wonder that when it comes to planning a wedding, going away is always a popular choice.

In addition to a great location, a destination wedding is also more intimate and in many cases, cheaper than an at home wedding. However, this intimacy comes at a price.

Destination weddings have low attendance

Most destination weddings suffer from a lower attendance percentage than at home weddings. Traditional weddings can have attendance in the 8-90% range (and in some cases, even higher) whereas a destination wedding where the 50% mark is more common.

Most invitees turn down destination wedding invites for two reasons, cost and timing. And if you can figure out how to overcome those two objections, you’ll be able to get more people to attend.

In this article, we are going to go over five things you can do to ensure that your destination wedding is well attended.

Send out save the dates early

That means quick. As soon as you get engaged, start looking at potential wedding dates. Once you have decided on one, send out save the date cards to family and friends.

The earlier you send them out (preferably 8-12 months, if not more), the better. Doing so will give wedding guests enough time to plan their vacations, and holidays while incorporating your wedding into the mix.

To ensure absolute compliance, make personal phone calls (yes, harass if you have to) to guests and get a verbal “yes”.

Plan your destination wedding in a long weekend, not a holiday weekend

Long weekends are perfect for destination wedding because it gives everyone the flexibility they need. Families can stay the entire week if they choose while others can go back to work without having to use up personal or vacation days.

One thing we would not do is plan a destination wedding on a holiday weekend. Many of your guests have commitments for holidays (thanksgiving being a big one) and many families have a tradition of getting together during these times so its best avoid them if you can.

Select a well known large destination

If you want more people to attend, then don’t select a location that is hard to get to or is in a remote region that requires three connecting flights, a 2 hour cab ride followed by a ferry. Select a destination that has lots of direct flights from a lot of cities so wedding guests spend a minimum amount of time traveling.

For example, If you’re getting married in the Caribbean, go with either Puerto Rico or the Bahamas instead of Nevis or Barbuda (need a ferry for this one). The smaller the island, the less optionsyour guests will have when it comes to direct flights. What’s more, costs to get to these remote locations are much higher, leaving your guests with a lighter wallet too.

Finally, when selecting a destination, try picking something that is close to home. For example, ifmost of your family is on the east coast, then select a destination wedding on that side of the country. Florida, the Caribbean or North Carolina would make for some great destination wedding locations. Hawaii would not.

Plan your wedding at a family friendly resort

You will have tons of time to hang out at a super romantic place on your honeymoon so why not plan your wedding at a family friendly resort. Think Beaches resorts or even a Disney wedding and your family will be more than glad you did.

Just because the resort is family friendly does not mean that they are not romantic. Lots of Disney resorts have tons of romantic things that you can do and Beaches has a wedding program specifically for couples with large families.

Get married during the shoulder season

We saved the best for least. Don’t plan your wedding during peak season. Not only will wedding vendor prices be double or triple than normal, airfare and hotel rates will be astronomical as well.

It’s better to book a date that is a month or two before or after the peak season (called a shoulder season). Things are calmer, vendors are less hurried and your wedding will be more enjoyable and better attended.

While there are another half dozen ways to increase your attendance at the destination wedding, the five above will remove most of the objections that your wedding guests may have. And getting rid of their objections is a great way to increase that attendance number.

 

This article was written by Nusair A Bawla, the founder of GroupTravel.org. His website provides an easy way to get group rates for hotels without making a phone call.

 

 

Yes, Decor Matters.

outdoor wedding ceremony with chiavari chairs and sculpted petal aisle

This can be a touchy subject.  Nevertheless, it needs to be said.

Sometimes, brides are stuck between the hard place of having great decor or some other vital portion of their menu.  After pouring hour upon hour on Pinterest, message boards and bridal magazines, they become inspired, depressed, agitated and resigned… in that order.  The rationalization from friends who are uber crafty and older relatives who “just got married at the church and were happy” is that “No one really notices the flowers or the linens”.

Honestly, that’s not true.

There is a huge difference between this:

white wedding wedding receptionand this:

elegant ethereal wedding with uplighting linens and florals

What if I said picture one is at a seaside luxury resort and the second picture is at a local VFW.  As a guest, how would you feel walking into picture one?  What about picture two? Granted, those are vastly different existing on separate ends of the spectrum, but you get my point: Decor Matters.  The worst thing in the world is to have a world class venue, DJ or band, five star food and the details to tie the wedding together are nonexistent. Having this type of lopsided event gives the impression that the money ran out for the decor.

Glam Iridescent Table Decor with Rhinestones and Centerpieces

Your environment sets your mood.  

Picture this:  you move into a new, stylish apartment.  To celebrate, you decide to throw a dinner party for your nearest and dearest friends.  The apartment is the talk of the town with the sleekest architecture and views.  However, like most apartments, it’s painted the standard, generic white.  No matter how beautiful the building is, it’s the personal details and decor that makes it stand out.

Tall and Low centerpieces on estate tables

Your centerpieces, when done by a talented, professional designer  can add depth and warmth to your room.  They can guide you into perfecting your color palette to create an enchanting look for your venue.  Decor only looks small and incompetent when it has to compete against your venue.  Work with your venue and you can create something amazing.  Here are some tips:

  • If your venue has ugly walls, chairs or floors,  find out how much it will be to rent chairs or chair covers to eliminate the problem.  Find colors that don’t compete with the floors or walls.
  • Lighting can change everything.  Simple uplighting around a room will give you a soft wash of color over the entire room.  This creates a beautiful canvas to enhance your tables and centerpieces.
  • If the budget is limited, avoid white polyester linens for your tables.  These should only be reserved for your food tables.   While these can be the cheapest linens to acquire, they will also swallow and dwarf any plans you have for your centerpieces if you do not fill the table. If your centerpiece budget is limited having only one centerpiece on an expansive white six foot table will only compound your decor issues. Instead, opt for color to add vibrancy or texture (pintuck, bichon, taffeta, etc.) to add depth.
  • Runners and overlays are a great way to add variety to the table.  Make sure your runners are actual runners– not chair sashes.  This isn’t for what they were intended, so their impact isn’t as fluid as a true runner.  Additionally, runners and overlays look best when they are paired with complementary liners (the base linen).  A colored overlay over a white tablecloth has a “restaurant” feel to it.  Look to add depth and texture with a runner or overlay atop of a liner of the same color or in the same shade family. If you want to go bolder, use the colors in your palette.
  • Just as we have to consider the width of a table, when planning your centerpieces, also consider the height of the ceiling.   Centerpieces that are too low will also make your room look larger and your tablescape very minimal.
  • Napkins are ways to add pops of color from other shades in your palette.  Creatively folded or presented, it can add more depth to your table, filling it more with a functional necessity.  Consider having your tables completely set, even for a buffet to avoid your tables looking too empty.

Color, texture and florals set the tone and enhance the experience for your guests. It can transport and transform them.  Who doesn’t like to get dressed up  and go somewhere nice for a special occasion?  Dining and dancing in a beautiful room truly adds to their experience and participation level.  All things being equal, not all weddings can afford an expansive decor budget.  All weddings, though, can and should be beautiful.

 

How to Talk Yourself Out of a Good Wedding Vendor

One thing we hear a lot from brides is “We’ve never done this before, so we don’t know what to expect”.  An awesome vendor will explain their work process so that you know how they operate.  You’ll find that the wedding industry, just like wedding planning, is very different from any experience you’ve encountered.  If you approach it in an us vs. them mentality, you could very well lose out on the best vendors for you.

Here’s how you’ll talk yourself out of a good wedding vendor:

[list]

  1. You make/demand your own terms.  More likely than not, your wedding professional has had several industry leaders and legal teams review or write their contract.  Negotiating is one thing.  Rewriting a vendor’s contract is extremely rude and sets a tone for your relationship that can be hard to overcome.  It’s like you are saying that you don’t trust the vendor or their professionalism.  The same can be said about not wanting to adhere to the vendor’s payment terms. For example, most wedding professionals will require a non-refundable retainer to hold your event date on their calendar. If you cancel, they have likely turned down other couples to work with you.  That retainer helps them recoup that loss, as well as get started on your event.  Additionally, most wedding professionals will require your final payment two to four weeks prior to your event. This allows them to prepare to assign staff, buy food, order flowers, etc.  Believe it or not, there are some shady brides out there who will attempt to pay a vendor the week of the wedding or even the day of the wedding and put a stop payment on the check or dispute the charge with their credit card on the sly.
  2. You try to make them into someone they’re not.  We know you want to do some comparative shopping in order to find the best vendor for you.  However, do not send Vendor A a copy of Vendor B’s proposal or service offering and ask them to match it or give it to you at their rate.   If you like Vendor B’s service, then hire Vendor B.  It’s the equivalent of going into Burger King with a recipe for the Big Mac and asking them to make it.  The industry is extremely close;  we know who offers what, at what rate and how they offer it.  Playing us off each other or trying to make us do someone else’s work will get you left without Vendor A or B.
  3. Do NOT ask for a discount.   I know a lot of brides learn from magazines that it doesn’t hurt to ask.  Remember when your parents would chide you for immediately asking grandma “Where’s my gift?!” or “What did you bring me!?”? This may seem odd, but discounts are like personal gifts. It is up to the discretion of the vendor to extend this courtesy to you.  Your vendor may have other ways of enhancing their service to you by providing a few freebies, but to outright expect it can be extremely annoying. While you are asking for  the 5 star service at a 3 star price, you are also asking that vendor to come up short on their mortgage, paying their staff or their little girl’s dance lessons.  You’re telling the vendor right off the bat that I value price more than your service.  It wouldn’t matter how well they do their job, because you think they shouldn’t be paid the full price for it, but you expect the full benefits.  It puts a sour taste in a vendor’s mouth.  If you have a specific budget that you need to stay in, by all means, tell your vendor.  They will help you find creative ways to get what you need, not just want you want, while keeping you within your financial comfort zone.
  4. You try to play “good cop”/”bad cop” or act like WE owe you something.  Weddings are fun, festive occasions.  To be in the industry, you really have to love what you do, have talent, work well under pressure and have the ability to work well with many different personalities.  If you play nice, but get your mom or fiancé to play enforcer or the bad guy, you are giving us what we believe to be a window into the planning process or wedding day.  If you act this way over coffee, when the weather changes on your wedding day or 5 additional people who didn’t RSVP show up, we do not want to be in your warpath.  I sat down for one consultation where a groom came in late while his fiancée and I chatted over desserts and as he nonchalantly greeted me, he asked “Several of our vendors are giving us discounts.  What are you going to do for us?”  I had another tell me he didn’t need a crucial part of a service collection that was virtually essential to the success of their wedding day and would prefer that I add some other duties that were clearly out of the scope of my service.  I politely referred them to other planners, with the understanding that I was not the planner for them.
  5. You have way too many DIY projects or “friendors”. Don’t get me wrong, here– I have seen some amazing DIY projects that have completely transformed a wedding more than anything we could have bought.  I’ve worked with friends of the couple who have mind-blowing  talents to share for the wedding.  This isn’t speaking to those instances.  This is speaking to those occurrences where couples insist on doing 50% or more of their wedding themselves: making/providing linens, doing their own flowers, an aunt who will make the cake, a friend of a friend who will DJ the wedding reception, etc.  Red flags instantly go up  because we worry about how much you are taking on and how much will actually be done efficiently.  The same can be said with friends who donate services or volunteer to help.  When a vendor has to rely on a bride or her friends to get things done, there is concern about if these things will ultimately get done in a timely and correct manner, especially when it affects their ability to provide their services.  While it’s understood that while DIY projects personalize your wedding and also a way to to save money.  In some instances, though, you end up paying more with your time or out of your pocket to pay a professional to correct any mistakes or implement your ideas.  Be up front with your vendor and they can help you come up with some contingency plans to ensure a beautiful wedding.

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Real Wedding Advice: “Stop Being Cheap”

…I said to myself.

Here’s a little background:  I have ceramic tile floors throughout my entire house.  With three kids, a dog and a cat, the floor cleaning is an every day job.  Cue my ecstatic elation over purchasing a Mint Floor Cleaner.  This is similar to the Roomba, only instead of vacuuming floors, it sweeps and mops on its own.  It has replaced the broom and Swiffer for me (unless I want to double team the house and have the Mint do one room and I do another at the same time).  What makes the Mint awesome is that in addition to using the microfiber cloths that come with the cleaner, you can also use the Swiffer disposable dry and wet cloth refills…

…which brings us to our real wedding advice lesson for the day.

I bought a generic, cheaper brand of disposable refills for my Mint.  BIG mistake. These things did a better job of moving and repelling the dust rather than capturing it in the cloth to clean the floor.  I remembered that I had a box of the actual Swiffer brand of cloths and went to replace the travesty I was using previously. The difference was startling and immediately noticeable in the texture, quality, and performance.

So what does this have to do with your wedding?

Do not make your final decision solely on price.  You cannot assume because two people are in the same service category that you are comparing apples to apples.  You really need to look at why Wedding Coordinator A’s fees are $1800 and Wedding Coordinator B’s are $400.  The same thing goes for photographers, caterers, DJs and other wedding vendors.   While you may think a DJ is a DJ or a caterer is a caterer,  the differences and qualities of their services could shock you.  Make the best decision on service first, then price.  There’s no need in going for something cheaper, if you have to go behind a professional and do the job all over again or fill-in gaps.  You not only pay with your wallet, but also your time, which is far more precious.  For example, I’ve seen some brides who will go with a rental company because they offer less expensive rentals, but opt not to get the setup.   What is the purpose of getting a deal on the rentals if you are stuck setting everything up yourself on your wedding day and breaking everything down afterwards?

Just remember the great words of Sasha Souza:

“While you can find something cheaper, it won’t be the wedding you want, it will only be the price you like.”

It’s your wedding. Plan responsibly, my friends.