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St. Simons Wedding Planner :: Island Destination Weddings | wedding planning advice
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What to Expect When You’re Planning A Wedding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember my sister getting me the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and I read it voraciously, zipping through chapters, giggling at the stories and anticipating the milestones ahead. I was recently thinking that brides could really use some sort of guide like that for planning their weddings, because it is not all puppies and rainbows, luxeling.

Take Whatever You Think Something Should Cost…and Multiply it By 3. Brides get sticker shock BIG TIME when it comes to things like decor and food. I have heard some say “It’s just roses” or “It’s just food”. It’s never just anything when it comes to weddings. You are paying for the product, yes; but you are also paying for your wedding professional’s time, skill and creativity. No, these aren’t your supermarket’s flowers– that cost $9 for a bouquet of roses. These are gorgeous florals that have to be processed, cut, wrapped, positioned and designed to create what you want. The same thing goes with photography! I’ve ranted on and on about why photography is so important, so I won’t carry on. But I will say this: it is so much more than someone “showing up” on your wedding day to take photos.

It’s Nothing Like What You See on TV or on the Blogs. Styled Shoots and Wedding stories on reality TV are heavily designed but also heavily comp’ed. Don’t compare your wedding to those that you see on blogs or TV and feel bad about what you’re doing with your wedding. It’s completely okay to garner inspiration from these places. Make sure you keep it into perspective and in correlation with your budget. If you find something that you absolutely must have– splurge on it, but make sure it is complementary to everything else that you have.

Be Prepared to Spend Some Money…Before Any Work is Done. Lawyers (and most wedding professionals should) call it a retainer. A retainer is a non-refundable payment to reserve space for your event on the wedding professional’s calendar. Any work done between the date you book and your next payment will be deducted from that payment. Why is that? Well, sweetling, there are only 52 weeks in a year, which all only have one Saturday. Most wedding professionals do not want to work each Saturday, so they have blackout dates, which makes their availability even more complex and crucial. Since many brides are going to be vying for the same date, typically it’s first come, first served with whomever gets their retainer into the vendor first. You need not worry about anyone running off with your money, as you are working with professionals. But you can fully expect to pay a retainer to hold your date and please don’t balk at it being non-refundable. In the event that you cancel your wedding or your services with the the vendor, they have possibly turned down other events because they have committed to yours. Your retainer helps them recoup some of those losses.

No One Is Going To Care About Your Wedding As Much As You Do. If that comes across as harsh, I don’t mean for it to come across that way. This is your wedding– the day that you have dreamed of all of your life that is special to both of your families. To some of your friends it’s just another celebration and for some of your vendors, it’s another event within the season. While we enjoy and love our clients– it’s not just the personalities that we have to take care of, it’s logistics, payments, details, budgets, and more. It is not personal that your vendors don’t get as excited about your wedding, but it is important that they are excited and look forward to putting forth an awesome event.

It’s Not Going to Always Go Your Way. Some things aren’t available in your season, some things aren’t going to be in your financial comfort zone. Vendors will not respond as quickly as you would like or say the things you would like them to say. A majority of the time, though, you will enjoy your wedding planning process if you are have a good team of professionals in your corner. Even with your bridesmaids– they may argue about the color or style of the dress, your groom may not be as involved as you want, but I promise, it will all work out. Just reevaluate your approach and if you need to express your expectations a bit better to vendors and friends, certainly do so and make sure it is something everyone can be happy with.

It’s Going to Be Beautiful. No matter what you may encounter in your engagement with your vendors and family or even little things that will happen that aren’t planned, your wedding will be beautiful. See the bigger picture and realize this is the beginning of your marriage and enjoy the small moments that make everything worthwhile.

I am sure some of my wedding planning friends and former brides will have lots to say on this subject, so please share your wisdom!

A Gentleman Walks Down the Aisle: The Guy’s Ultimate Guide to Wedding Day Etiquette



This book has been dubbed as “The Guy’s Ultimate Guide to Wedding Day Etiquette”, we call it pure genius.
A Gentleman Walks Down the Aisle: A Complete Guide to the Perfect Wedding Day (available both in Hardcover and on the Kindle, so your man has absolutely no excuse for not reading it!) is the perfect gift for your new husband to be. More grooms are ditching the “I just have to show up” approach and are taking active roles in wedding planning.  John Bridges, the ultimate etiquette expert, releases the next title in the popular GentleManners series of books to address this very important issue.

John’s guide will help the groom-to-be understand how important his role really is. With this comprehensive handbook, the groom can add to the joy, rather than the jitters, as the big day approaches.

Key Points include:
• 10 Wedding day disasters and how to avoid them.
• How to propose.
• Who should cover the financial costs involved with the big day?
• Dressing for the day – what to wear, when to wear it, and how to wear it.
• Duties of the father of the bride and father of the groom.
• Rules for the best man, groomsmen, and ushers.
• The role of a Gentleman who’s been invited to a wedding.

This book is extremely valuable for the groom himself, the fathers of the bride and groom, the best man, the groom’s other attendants, and even the gentleman who participates in the celebration merely as a guest. This book explains what to do, where to stand, what to wear, and what to say. So even if you are married, it makes a great gift for any guy in your life.



john bridges gentlemanners

John Bridges is the ultimate etiquette expert– especially for the modern man who wants to know how to behave himself, every day, and even in the most challenging situations. He is the coauthor, with Bryan Curtis, of the Gentle Manners series, which includes the bestselling book, How To Be A Gentleman, today’s most popular guide to etiquette for the modern man. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society. Bridges has appeared on the Today Show, the Discovery Channel, and CBS Sunday Morning, and has been profiled in People magazine and the New York Times. The GentleManners series is a worldwide publishing phenomenon, having sold more than 1.25 million volumes and translated into more than 20 foreign languages. More information on John Bridges can be found at

Why I Love Your Wedding Photographer

Wedding photographer at work taking picture of a bride

Photo :: Pamela Marie

As a wedding planner, one of the most important questions I ask clients that come to us to discuss their wedding is “Who is your wedding photographer?”  As I’ve mentioned several times before in my blog musings, the photographer is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to your wedding, right after choosing the venue.  I feel this way for several reasons:  flowers, while beautiful and provide a backdrop– eventually, they will die.  The dress, in its mounds of chiffon, lace or satin will look absolutely stunning on you– however, unless you are extremely innovative you will not wear the dress again and neither will your daughter.  Food and music, while very important parts of the party– they will be forgotten within a week if not days after your wedding.

Your photographs will be everlasting.

They will capture. They will connect.  They will captivate.  They will evoke emotion within seconds.  This is why it is so very important that you pick the right photographer for your wedding.  It’s not enough to be based solely on price or whom every one else is using.  You need to have a visceral connection with your photographer so that you can feel at ease and your best on your wedding day.  So be sure you aren’t just falling in love with great pictures, but the artistic, creative mind behind the camera as well.  (The same can be said with the flipside of that argument…don’t just fall in love with the photographer’s personality, but also with their work!  Being great email/phone pals will not make up for horrible photos of the most important day of your life!).

Since I like to break things down, I want you to know why I love your wedding photographer:

  • S/he is going to work their behinds off.  It happens every time– I will meet the photography team prior to the wedding and we all look great and refreshed.  Within hours– we are drenched in sweat, tired, etc.  I love a photographer who is all over the place (respectfully) to get the best shots for our client.  They aren’t worried about climbing on a few chairs, kneeling, being patient with a two year old flower girl and so many more instances that require true professionalism and a rock hard work ethic.
  • S/he doesn’t take me lightly.  True story– at one wedding, I had my two assistants come to me in complete shock because they were “ordered” by a DJ to go fix plates for the bride and groom, even though I gave them specific duties and that was and never will be one of them. The nerve, right?  I am not a hired bridesmaid, family friend, fluff or a filler. I am an event professional who is there to make sure that my clients and their families enjoy their day to the fullest potential and that their vendors are able to provide their best products in their capacities.  I love a photographer who understands the importance of a wedding planner/coordinator/producer and what we bring to the table (and make that table look fabulous!).   I know most photographers appreciate us because we do everything that most brides will push on a photographer which takes away from their own jobs (lining people up, pinning on flowers, cuing walk-ins).
  • I don’t take them lightly.  Planning a wedding is a long, thorough process full of details, hard work, and concepts.  It means a lot to work with a photographer who captured the moment exactly how we visioned it as well as all of the wonderful moments and designs that an entire event team works so hard on.  Photography is so much more than some one showing up to a wedding and snapping a few pictures.  It takes talent, skill and continuing education by a wonderful artist to hone their craft.  Your photographer will work very hard on your wedding day, but will put in several hours in after to tastefully edit and produce your images in a way that will take your breath away and help you relive your day.
  • S/he appreciates all aspects of their work.  I love a photographer that I meet at networking or industry events. I love a photographer that blogs.  I love a photographer that invests in everything from lenses to camera bags to designer straps 🙂  Wedding photographers understand that there is so much more besides having talent– you must be smart, business savvy, and an everlasting student.  In the same token, great photographers understand that technical skill will only get you so far– if there is no passion, no love, no emotional depth to your pictures, it will not get you far.
  • S/he brings backup.  I love a photographer who knows they can’t be everywhere all of the time.  Second and third shooters are essential.  When you have events that take place on sprawling properties or with large guest lists/bridal parties, they are absolutely essential.  There are moments and details that you don’t want to be overlooked when you have only a small window of time to capture them.  With a photographer who has a second shooter or even a details shooter, you are securing your investment in everything else besides your photography.  It is like the age old paradigm in wedding planning:  if a bride has gorgeous florals and designs at her wedding, but the photographer didn’t capture them, were they really there?


What are some reasons that you love your wedding photographer?

Questions You Should Ask Your Destination Wedding Planner

Outdoor destination wedding reception by the water Outdoor Destination wedding ceremony on the beach Tented Destinatiom Wedding Reception with palm tree centerpieces


Planning a destination wedding is fun…but sometimes stressful.  There are many things to consider, including enlisting the help of a wedding planner for your destination wedding.  The planner of your choice or pool that you choose to interview could be one local to the area, local to you and has knowledge of the area or in another location with a familiarity of the area.  Take some time to configure a description of what you want for your wedding and wedding weekend.  Recognizing both US and international destination weddings can benefit greatly from a wedding planner, we’ll provide questions to help you choose your planner that suits your needs:

US Destination Weddings:

  1. Are you familiar with my venue/area that I would like to have my wedding?
  2. If the area has more than one location (in our instance—Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Brunswick and Sea Island), could you tell me which would be better suited for my wedding?
  3. Based on the information about my wedding, do you have any suggestions about other venues?
  4. Are you able to assist me in finding vendors in my budget and event vision?
  5. Are you also able to assist in securing room blocks for my guests?
  6. Would you be able to help research and plan weekend activities, parties, etc. around the wedding?
  7. What is your communications/work method?  (This is important for when you are out of the area where you intend to marry.  Having an open communication plan helps the process go smoothly)

International Destination Weddings

  1. Are you familiar with my venue/area that I would like to have my wedding? Can you help us with the marriage requirements?
  2. Can you suggest any specials that would suit us at other properties in the area?
  3. Do you speak the language for where we intend to have our wedding? (This, albeit not mandatory, can be a huge help to you.  In some locations, English is the second language and some things get lost in translation.  Even having a planner that is familiar with colloquial languages and phrases can be of great assistance)
  4. Are you able to help us secure negotiated room blocks with our resort?
  5. Are you or someone in your firm able to assist our guests with travel reservations and requirements? (There is a double bonus for planners that have travel agent credentials, as you get to handle everything with one person.  If not, see if there is an agent in the company that can assist you so that your event can stay with one company with fluid communications)
  6. Would you be able to help research and plan weekend activities, parties, etc. around the wedding?
  7. If we want to ship items with us for the wedding (such as linens, décor, favors, etc.), are you able to assist with the international customs requirements?
  8. Are you able to travel with us for site visits/tours or production of the actual event?  (Again, this is a huge help for you—as your wedding planner will act as the liaison and advocate for your wedding.  While the coordinator at the resort will follow instructions in your file, keep in mind that most properties have about 10-20 weddings per day so your coordinator may be stretched thin.  Your wedding planner, however, is solely dedicated to your event and is able to fine tune the details to ensure that it goes off as you have planned, while you enjoy your vacation with family and friends)

Having these questions will help you flesh out details that are important to creating your event.  More likely than not, these answers will become apparent in conversation with the wedding planners you choose to interview.  Be an avid and detailed note taker, to ensure that you are comparing “apples-to-apples” in terms of experience, resources, services and pricing.  Of course, you should also feel secure and excited when working with your planner, so be sure to count the personal dynamic between the two of you as well. 

Check out this great post on Wedding Bee: Wedding Planners Are Your Friends or do research on great websites like Best Destination Wedding.

How To Work Well With Your Wedding Coordinator: Vendor Edition

I’ve offered advice for how brides can get the most of their relationship with their wedding coordinator, and I realized that I needed to share a “vendor” edition as well.  Every wedding planner goes through this at some point, whether s/he has been planning the wedding from the beginning or is coming in to execute and produce the day. How this relationship works differently from that of the client/planner is that this could be a mutually beneficial relationship after an event.  Having a great working relationship makes for great event flow and future event production. Brides (and grooms!):  here are some things that we as planners love that you might be able to facilitate:

Answer (or at least CHECK) your email. You cannot send a timeline through a phone call and I strongly doubt anyone is going to snail mail you one.  A few times I’ve heard of vendors coming to a wedding without a clue of what was to happen at the wedding because they did not receive the timeline or event packet.  Inexcusable.  Even though we put out a few of these every weekend, and know the general pieces of a wedding day,  we cannot do a wedding over. A  prepared wedding professional is a better wedding professional. If you have not received a timeline or communication by 2 weeks prior to the wedding, contact your client’s wedding planner or client.

Insufficient Funds.  It is really best that you handle all financial transactions prior to the wedding; I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but it makes it so much easier on the planner and client when this is handled prior to the event.  The Mother of the Bride is not scrambling to find a checkbook and as a planner, I’m not forced to chase my bride down during her wedding to handle your income.  That sounds harsh, and I’m sorry—but I’m a wedding planner, not a hostage negotiator.  Let me explain.  This happens more often that not: a couple finds a few things wrong with your service and decide to withhold payment and decide how they should be remedied.  The vendor and client appeals to the wedding planner, who is then stuck in the middle.  Note to brides: Make a point to have all of your final payments to your vendors two weeks prior to your wedding day.

There Is Only One Diva Allowed…And It’s Not You.  Once again, harsh, but you didn’t come here for puppies and rainbows.  We (as planners) totally get that your job is important.  Other vendors think their job is equally important as well.  Each has its argument as to why they rank higher on the totem pole: photographers produce the images that will last far beyond the wedding day once everything else has faded away; the floral designer produces the floral designs that create the ambience and experience during the event; the caterer provides the food for guests to enjoy at the heart of the event, and the DJ provides the entertainment to get everyone moving and excited.  I get it. I hear it often.  I, however, am not moved. If it makes you feel better, it’s my job to “be in charge” of all of you in your infinite importance, your contribution and the event.  I’m like a mother with her children: you’re all important, and I don’t deal well with temper tantrums.  We’re here as a team.  Let’s make it fabulous.  There is only one diva, and that’s the one in the white dress.

Chow Time.  If you require a hot meal, please put it in your contract.  I’ve seen vendors throw fits (please see above to ascertain how you think that was received) over being presented with a box lunch from the venue.  If this is a topic that is of major importance for you, please revisit it when you conduct any final meetings/consultations with the client.  Please never assume that the client has made arrangements for you or knows what you want, and please don’t assume that a meal will be a hot one.  Note to brides:  Please check the type of meal you are ordering with your caterer or venue.  Some venues will “offer” a vendor meal to you at a “discounted” rate, but it is not what the rest of your guests are eating, it’s a $20 sandwich, apple and a bag of chips.  If one of your vendors requires a hot meal, it is good etiquette to provide hot meals for all of your vendors.

If You Make Changes or Have Needs, Please Let Us Know…Please. It is not enough to tell the client. They will forget. I promise you—they have other things to deal with and that is the reason why they hire their wedding planner. If you find out that they have a wedding planner, it is common, professional courtesy that you update us with changes or needs in addition to (or at best, in lieu of) the client.  If you have things you need returned, moved, etc. during or after the event, please let us know ahead of time.  We want to maximize and enhance your service, but please recognize you are one of many vendors that will assist with the wedding day.  We are all but a thread in the fabric of the event, and one snag can cause the entire garment to fray.  Please let us know of any changes so that we can see how that will affect other vendors and the event as a whole.

These are just some ways that you can work best with your client’s wedding coordinator? Have great experiences to share?  I’d love to hear them…leave a comment!

Five Things Your Wedding Planner Absolutely Loves

love you

Your Ceremony and Reception Are In the Same Location.  Logistically, it makes things a lot easier for all the vendors involved.  It also makes for better planning and transition/flow into events.  If you are looking to have your ceremony at a house of worship, look into options that may be on the same grounds or adjacent to the property where the ceremony will be performed.  Great examples are Faith Chapel and near by Crane and Cherokee Cottages at the nearby Jekyll Island Club Hotel, or the Lovely Lane Chapel at Epworth by the Sea on Saint Simons Island.

You Trust His/Her Judgment.   Yes, we secretly get giddy inside when you say “You can do what you want… I trust you”.  We understand it takes a lot to get to that point, but it means a lot when you can trust that we will make the right decision on your behalf.  It also means a lot when you take our advice into consideration when making decisions.  Being able to see the event from all perspectives, and not have tunnel vision is the perk of being an event producer.  We can work best, and in your best interest when we are allowed to do what we do best. 

Cake.  We love cake.  Please give us some.  MANY a day has your favorite Terrica sat on the couch the day after a wedding shoving buttercream in her face, while watching FitTV. It’s like a national pastime.

You Stand Up For What You Want…Even With Us.  When your planner has been planning your wedding with you from the beginning, we begin to know your likes and dislikes.  We know what is important to you, and why.  We do get disheartened when family and/or friends talk you out of something that is very important to you.  It takes the sheen off your day a bit. Even though it is a community celebration, your wedding should still be indicative of your personalities as a couple. 

You Value His/Her Time…Space.  Even though your wedding planner strives to make you feel like you’re the only client, in reality, you are not.  In fact, the business is not the be all and end all of the planner’s life.  We are especially grateful when you make all of your appointments on time, notify us if you cannot, or cancel ahead of time.  Try to call or schedule appointments during office hours.  This is a heavily logistical job consisting of many details for many people—sometimes your planner may just want to decompress in the bathtub or go to their child’s play.  Observe personal boundaries—do not call the planner at home or text him/her if you were not given explicit permission to do so.  A well rested (as much as possible) planner is a great planner.

What My Louboutin Manicure Has To Do With Your Wedding

louboutin manicure

I like shopping
I hate going to the grocery store
I hate washing clothes
I like painting my nails
It excites me
You have to work to get this good
— “Diva” by Club 69

Those lyrics are from my favorite song.  They’re very true, by the way.

So you are probably wondering what I am talking about.  Well, every two weeks, I am in the nail salon thinking of ways to make my fabulousness more tangible via my nail and toe polish.  Granted, I typically choose my nail color based on the name of the polish.  Doesn’t matter if it’s in season or not—it’s based on my mood, future outfits, etc.  For example, I really want to go away, so my current color is Caribbean Temptation (it’s a fabulous color, by the way).

Last month, I decided to opt for a “Louboutin Manicure”, which mimics the famous shoe—black on top, red underneath.  Clearly this threw my nail technician for a loop—he didn’t get it, it was out of his comfort zone and he probably thought I was nuts or tacky. I noticed afterwards, there were a few details that were poorly done or off, which might have been caused by his lack of motivation or comprehension to do it correctly.

Which got me to thinking…As a bride:

There may be vendors who do not get your vision.  It’s important to base your selection of vendors on experience and creativity—not just price.  Find someone that gets what you are going for.  If a vendor believes that your vision does not mesh well with their brand, they should be professional enough to decline your wedding and offer another alternative. However,

If the vendor agrees to grant/perform your request, even if they don’t like it, they should do it rightEven with all of the professional advice, suggestions and alternatives from your vendor, if you still choose to go along with your vision and your vendor agrees to assist you, no matter their feelings on it—it should be done correctly.

Let Your Vendors Help Choose Your Reception Site

  Yep, it’s true!  Your other vendors can be of great assistance in choosing a reception site after you choose some of your other vendors.  I know some of your books and sites say choose the site first, but there is really some logic to choosing your site perhaps second or third.

 Let’s say you contract a photographer that you have been swooning over for a few weeks or months.  Looking through her portfolio, you might see a  venue that really grasps the vision you are trying to shoot for with your wedding.  You can also seek your vendor’s counsel if you are undecided about a venue or would like some ideas as to where to start.  Your photographer can tell you what venue has wonderful photo opps to add to your photo album.   The same goes with your florist– they can tell you what site is easy to design and decorate.  They can also suggest which sites can be complemented well with minimal design or those that can be “re-concepted” from scratch. 

 There is another reason that this is a good idea– you definitely want your wedding event staff to get along on the day of the wedding.  Contrary to popular belief, your vendors are notsecond class citizsens, nor are they serfs slaving away for the glory of your wedding day. Unfortunately, some venues treat wedding vendors this way, causing a lot of disdain and dislike among professionals in the industry.  So much so, that man vendors actually blacklist venues– they will not work at a specific venue and will not take your wedding if it is scheduled there.

 To spearhead any problems between your vendors and your reception site, when interviewing venues remember to ask additional questions such as:  what type of vendor meals they provide, do they “require” vendors to report to anyone in their staff, are they required to use a certain entrance, etc. Find out as much as you can for your vendors as possible.  Another great resource is your DJ.  He arrives after the setup and is like the “fly on the wall” he sees all and has to interact with the reception site.  Remember to get a successful event, everyone has to work together without ego or any air of superiority.  It should be all about you– not your vendors.