Welcome to An Elegant Affair's blog! We are full service wedding and event planning company. We love weddings, and we love to share ideas about them! Please feel free to comment on our blogs!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Tools Can Help Me with My Seating Arrangements?

One of the most important (and sometimes most challenging) tasks to complete is your reception seating chart. Who’s going to sit by whom? Which people should be placed on opposites sides of the room? How should my reception room be arranged? This article shares a few of the online tools that are available to help make this part of wedding planner easier.

One of the most popular wedding planning sites available, a very popular feature is the seating chart section. You can design your floor plan, name and arrange your tables, and assign guests to a table. You can then print the diagram, although I’ve heard from a few couples that it can be a bit of a challenge to get on one page if you have a large layout.

This site has many of the same features as TheKnot. It’s really easy to design your floor plan by dragging and dropping icons for tables, bars, etc. You can also change the dimensions of the room and sizes of the icons, so you get a realistic picture of your specific venue. Finally, just like The Knot, this tool is free!

We liked this site as well, but found it was a bit easier to add and save guests than seatingarrangement.com (just our opinion). What I like most about this site is the fact that it has online tutorial videos that give you an overview of the site, and also provide instructions on how to do specific things (such as adding guests or assigning seats, for example). You can download a 30-day free trial, or purchase the home edition of the product for $29.95.

Wedding Magic
A tool from Frogware.com (http://frogware.com/wedding_magic.html), this is an overall wedding planning tool, and is not just for seating arrangements. Many of the same features in options above are available in this one. One additional feature is the ability to email guests and vendors directly from the software. You can also download a 30-day free trial or purchase the CD for $32.99.

Your Planning Assignment
As you can see, there are many options from which to choose. Try each one (or search for additional options) to decide which one fits your needs best. Happy Planning!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stacey and David's Wedding - 9-10-11

The Grand Plaza Florida on St. Pete Beach was the perfect setting for the wedding of Stacey and David on 9-10-11. Although their wedding date was a popular one this year, this wedding was full of unique elements to make it a very special day, not only for Stacey and David, but also for their guests, who traveled from across the country to witness their nuptials.

The beach ceremony began at 10am, with guests enjoying the warm breezes of the Gulf of Mexico and harp music provided by Jessica Cardwell. The bride thought of everything, and provided flip-flops for guests to slip into and cold water for them to drink as they entered the beach. The bridal party was appropriately dressed, with the gentlemen attired in linen (including custom made shirts by Ya-Ya’s Little Secret), and ladies wearing sunshine yellow one-shouldered short dresses perfect for the beach.

Following a moving ceremony, guests were escorted to the Presidential Ballroom for light appetizers and drinks, including the bride and groom’s signature drink – frozen Blue Hawaiian. Tables were named after beaches the couple has visited or plans to visit, including Ft. De Soto Beach, Vero Beach, and Clearwater Beach.

The afternoon rain did not dampen the spirits of the newlyweds or their guests. Guests enjoyed their choice of main entrée, followed by wedding cake provided by A Piece of Cake. The groom’s cake highlighted his love for the game of chess. Following a sumptuous meal, guests then danced the afternoon away with entertainment by DJ Ron of Universal Music Entertainment (in fact, there is a pair of shoes that, as of this writing, still has not been claimed by a wedding guest!)

In addition to the partners listed above, many thanks to Streets and Streets Photography and Video Productions, Patrick Burley Photography, Nicole White Photography,  makeup artist Lorretta Taylor, and Jonathan’s Flowers for helping make Stacey and David’s wedding day one they will cherish for a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top Ten Questions to Ask a Travel Agent

As you begin to plan your honeymoon or destination wedding, consider these important questions!

Are you a licensed travel agent?
This is an important question! You want to ensure you are dealing with a professional and someone who is credible. There are too many travel scams out there that are after your money!

Do you specialize in honeymoons?
A honeymoon is more than a vacation...it's a trip that kicks off the beginning of your married life. Seek out someone who has experience in planning honeymoons and has insight into what newly married couples want to do.

Do you have honeymoon packages?
This question is closely related to the one above. Ask about what honeymoon packages may include (champagne upon arrival, breakfast in bed, etc) that can make your trip extra-special!

Do you plan destination weddings?
If you are considering a destination wedding, you want to work with someone who has experienced in this area. They should be able to coordinate room types and rates for your guests, help you plan your ceremony and reception, and guide you regarding the marriage laws of your particular wedding location.

What types of vacations do you handle (cruises, resorts, spas, etc)?
If you are looking for a specific type of venue (cruise ship, all-inclusive resorts), consider working with someone who specializes in them. They can share with you the unique features of each so you can make an informed decision.

Do you have special relationships with particular vacation vendors?
Again, this goes hand-in-hand with the previous question. Many travel agents are certified with particular vacation vendors (Sandals and Royal Caribbean for example), and because of the special relationship they have, may be able to offer you specials. And because of their certifications and special training, they can tell you what ships or resorts best suit what you are looking for.

Have you visited the destinations you are recommending?
There is nothing like first-hand experience, right? Travel agents certified with a particular vendor are required to visit the properties, so they can provide great insight!

Can you assist me in obtaining travel insurance?
I always recommend obtaining travel insurance. If your luggage is lost or your trip is delayed, travel insurance can come in handy. Talk to your travel agent about the specifics of what is covered in a policy.

What forms of payment do you accept?
This question is an obvious, but important one. Ask it before you decide to go with a particular agent.

Are you able to book airline reservations also?
If they are able to do this for you, find out whether or not they can accept any frequent flyers miles or points you may have with a particular airline. Also, do your homework....maybe you can book your own flights at a better rate via travel websites or directly with the airlines.

Your Planning Assignment
When meeting with a travel agent, ask these questions. Compare the answers of a few agents before you make a final decision. Happy Planning!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wedding Budgeting: Six Tips to Avoid Stress and Debt

Money, money, money! Thoughts of finances can cause us to stress out and lose sleep, right? Investing such large amounts of money, as with a wedding, can cause even more distress. But the time leading up to your wedding is supposed to be a fun and exciting, and not stressful, right? Follow these tips so that wedding budgeting is not a chore, but will help you stay focused on your goal….starting your marriage with little or no wedding debt!

Take time and develop a budget before doing any other planning
Before you go dress shopping or honeymoon planning, sit down with your fiancé and determine how much you want to, and are able to, spend. Be honest with yourself…..do you have other debts like student loans you are trying to pay off? Do you want to buy a house after you get married, or will you need a new car soon? All of your financial obligations must be taken into consideration when you plan your wedding budget.

Include all elements of your wedding
Don’t forget to include such smaller things as gifts for your bridal party and extra trips to the hair salon for your trial runs. These items may seem insignificant, but they can add up and possibly blow your budget if you’re not careful.

Determine if family members will contribute to your overall budget
Find out from family members if they are planning to contribute to your wedding budget, as early in the process as you can. If someone is not able to give you a significant amount of money, they may be able to take care of your cake or favors (for example). Every bit can help!

Keep your budget in mind when visiting vendors
Now that you’ve taken the time to develop a budget, use it! As you visit vendors and shop for attire, remember what you agreed to spend on a particular item. If the two of you agree to go over your budget on one item, you should make adjustments with another item, so your bottom-line figure remains about the same. Also, adjusting a budget line item should be a joint decision, not one made by just the bride or just the groom!

Don’t make rash purchases
The local craft store is having a great sale on wedding items….do you rush over and buy everything you see? Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a wise purchase for you. Again, keep your budget in mind and don’t rush into a purchase. If you don’t do this, you may find yourself with lots of purple ribbon and no use for it!

Use tools to help you
There are many free tools available to assist with budgeting. One I like to suggest is http://costofwedding.com. This is a site that will give you, based on your zip code, average wedding costs in your area. This can help provide a frame of reference for you. Also, a great tool for calculating your individual budget is http://www.weddingplanningonabudget.com/my-wedding-budget.php. Just enter your estimated overall budget, and the spreadsheet will calculate how much you can spend on each category. You can adjust the percentages assigned to each category based on your own preferences.

Your Planning Assignment
Make the time to develop your wedding budget. Block time on your calendars if necessary, but do whatever it takes to get this done. This task is too important to be ignored or rushed through. As always, feel free to comment on this article, 'like' it, and share it with a friend.  Happy Planning!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Custom Invitations: Four Important Things to Consider

Courtesy of wedding-beauty.com
You’ve set your date and chosen your venue. You’ve also decided on the type of wedding you going to have as well as the theme. So what’s next?? Invitations! We’ve talked about invite wording in a past article (visit our blog if you missed it), so this week we’re going to explore custom invitations.

Custom invitations are uniquely you!
Vendors such as Carlton Craft and Invitations by Dawn offer very beautiful choices in invitations. But if you and your fiancé’ want something that’s totally unique to you, consider having them custom made. They can fit your theme, colors and style to a “T”, and no one else in the world will have the same invites as you do.

Contemplate hiring an invitation designer
DIY is always an option for you (check out your local craft store), but consider hiring a professional designer to translate your ideas into something tangible. They are experts on typesetting, colors and paper…and, they are SO creative! They can also help you tweak your wording so it reads and flows effortlessly. Lastly, if you like, they can take the burden of addressing and mailing them off of you!

What about budget?
As with anything custom and unique, these invitations may be a little more expensive than DIY or non-custom ones. If having invitations that are all your own are a priority for you, consider adjusting your budget to allocate more money for this and less for something else.

How long do they take to complete?
Again, because your custom invitations are designed with you in mind, the turnaround time to complete them may be a little longer. Find out from your designer what the options are for rushed availability if needed (don’t forget, they still have to mailed so that guests can respond in a timely manner). Your wedding planner can work with you to ensure you stay on schedule with this (and other) wedding tasks.

Your Planning Assignment

Choosing your wedding invitations is a task that is not to be taken lightly. When your guests receive them, your invites will set the tone for your special day, and give your guests an idea of what to expect. Whether you go custom or not, this is a very important decision. Happy Planning!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tiffany and Kyle's Wedding - September 10, 2011

Bride Tiffany and I have a mutual friend, and when she got engaged and started planning her wedding, our mutual friend suggested she contacted An Elegant Affair to help plan her wedding. There was an instant connection between Tiff and me, and I consider her to now be a friend, not just a past client.

Tiffany and her fiancé (now husband) Kyle met about 4 years ago when they were attending a job training session. They share a mutual faith and are definitely made for each other! I especially love how close their families are!

The hot pink and green color combination was a favorite of the bride, and looked great on the bridesmaids! After a meaningful ceremony at Northwest Tampa Church of God, the guests and bridal party moved the celebration to The Columbia Restaurant, a very popular and well-loved restaurant in Tampa. Guests enjoyed traditional Cuban fare….Arroz con Pollo, yellow rice, and flan.

Check out these great pics, courtesy of Rachel O’Brien Photography.

After their wedding, Tiff was kind enough to share these words: “I was very satisfied with the service I received from An Elegant Affair. Their services were worth every penny. The day of my wedding I didn't have a care in the world. I didn't have to worry about a timeline or make sure all of my vendors were paid. I didn't have to worry about finding seating for last minute or uninvited guests. Instead of being concerned with so many last minute details, I actually enjoyed the day (and it was beautiful). Everything ran so smoothly I couldn't believe it. My only regret is that I didn't hire An Elegant Affair to plan the entire wedding. I TOTALLY recommend them”

Many thanks to these fantastic wedding vendors: Rachel O’Brien Photography, The Columbia Restaurant, DJ Dollar of Diamond Events, Diana Jerzek of Di’s Delights, and Carrollwood Florist.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Should I Hire a Professional Makeup Artist?

Courtesy of Project Wedding

As you make decisions about your wedding attire, don’t forget to think about your face! Wedding pictures will be the memories of your wedding day, so you want to ensure you look flawless. I recommend to brides that they consider hiring a professional makeup artist. Why? I’m glad you asked! :-)

A makeup artist is an expert in all skin types
He or she will assess your skin to determine the best type of makeup that will work for you. They will know which products are best for your skin type (oily or dry for example) or your ethnicity.

A makeup artist can help create the look you want
He or she wants to make sure you look your best! If you have a particular look you are shooting for, he or she can help make that happen for you. But if you don’t have a clue, don’t worry….a professional makeup artist can give you a look that fits your personality and your wedding type (informal, semi-formal, or formal). If you’re not into makeup, don’t be concerned about being overly made up….that’s why a professional offers a trial run makeup session!

A makeup artist will consider the lighting and setting of the wedding
He or she will take into consideration whether you are having an outdoor wedding (with lots of sunlight) or a candlelight ceremony with very little lighting. These are important factors to know when coming up with your bridal look.

A makeup artist will come to you and can be available for touch-ups on wedding day
Unlike going to the makeup counter at the mall, your makeup artist will meet you where you are to enhance your beauty on wedding day. In addition, they can be available to touch up your makeup for post-ceremony and reception pictures (this is particularly important if you are having an outdoor wedding in warm weather).

What about the groom?
No one wants to look washed out on wedding pictures….not even the groom. If he’s interested, a professional makeup artist can ensure he had even skin tone and a great look for those important photos!

Don't wait until the last minute to start thinking about your wedding-day makeup.  When you meet with your makeup artist for the first time, share with him or her your wedding colors, venue, setting, and well as a picture of your wedding dress. Happy Planning!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Should I Get a Second Wedding Dress?

Any of you watch “Say Yes To The Dress” on TLC? That is one of my favorite shows! Sometimes a bride has narrowed her choices down to the top 2, but is stuck trying to determine which one is ‘the’ dress. She loves them both equally and finds herself in a quandary….which dress do I choose? For some, there may be option of choosing both!

Why should I have a second wedding dress?

Different look – You may want to go with one look for the ceremony and one look for the reception (something more traditional for the ceremony, and something more casual for the reception, for example). And if you really want to party the night away at your reception, maybe a less formal dress for the reception is on order (shorter, no veil, etc.)

Wow Factor – Surprising your guests (and even your new husband) with a wardrobe change can add even more excitement to the day! They’ve already seen you look one way, and now they will get to see you look another way….the entire time being the glowing bride. And for those who really enjoy being the center of attention, a wardrobe change will put even more spotlight on you!

Just can’t make a decision – If you absolutely cannot choose between dresses, this could be an option for you (if your budget allows)

Consider something that can be worn again – In my opinion, your second dress should be different from the first one (what’s the point of changing when both dresses are, for example, ball gown styles?). So that you can get more wear out of it, choose a second dress that can be worn again (at a formal ball, after-five event, party, etc).

Why shouldn’t I have a second wedding dress?

It’s not in your budget – Weddings can be expensive, and so can wedding attire. Don’t stress yourself out if you can’t afford more than one dress. Those monies could be better used on your new life after the wedding!

Wardrobe changes takes time – Your wedding day will go by very quickly, and you want to be able to enjoy every minute of it. Changing dresses will take some time away from your guests. If you decide to do this, work closely with your planner or coordinator to determine when during the day you will change, where you will change, who will help you change, etc.

Your Planning Assignment
Ponder the pros and cons of a second wedding dress, and weigh your priorities before you make a decision. Happy Planning!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The 411 on Wedding Favors

Courtesy of Oriental Trading
A favor is a small gift that you can give your guests, as a way of saying ‘thanks’ for attending your wedding. They can range from a small picture frame containing an engagement pic of you and your new husband, a trinket with your name and wedding date on it, or even something edible (edible favors are my favorite!). The possibilities are endless!

Are they necessary?
Favors are a nice thing to have, but in my opinion, are not always necessary. If you are on a tight budget or are looking for a way to decrease costs, this is something that can be eliminated. You are already providing your guests with a delicious meal, delectable dessert, and great entertainment. And if you guests are not really into the favor you give, it may be left on the table, which is a waste of money!

If you are going with favors, they should coordinate with your theme or your color scheme. For example, if your wedding has a Mardi Gras theme, your favor could be a mask, something in Mardi Gras colors, or even a slice of King Cake to go (can you tell I’m from New Orleans?) Before deciding on what you will have, think about your guests. Will they enjoy and appreciate what you give? If you choose something more feminine (like a votive candle or a sachet), or something like a shot glass, there will be some guests who would not be able to relate to it (i.e., they don’t drink), and will not take it with them. An edible favor tends to fit both men and women, but you must be aware that some people may be allergic to certain things (like nuts). For more ideas, Google ‘wedding favors’ for an entire list of websites!

DIY favors
When considering DIY favors, keep in mind how much time it will take to put them together, along with the number of guests. If your favor is something with a complex fold or needs a ribbon or some other applique, factor in enough time to get this done (not the night before the wedding). Solicit bridesmaids or other friends to help you with this project….do not do it alone!

Your Planning Assignment

Discuss possibilities with your fiancé, and even ask him what his friends would like. And don’t feel pressured to provide a favor. Happy Planning!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Qualities Should I Look For In A Wedding Planner?

The task of choosing a wedding planner is not one that should be taken lightly. The person you hire will be a part of your life for quite some time (a year or more in some cases), so it’s important that you take your time in making this very important decision. As you consider a planner, what qualities should you look for?

When a person loves what he or she does, it shows! Your wedding planner should show enthusiasm about working with you and planning your special day. Don’t get me wrong, wedding planners have bad days just like everyone else, but their overall mood should be one of heartfelt excitement about what they are doing!

What is passion without knowledge? Your wedding planner must know what know what he or she is doing, and must be able to articulate that knowledge to you. If you have a question, your planner should be able to answer it or get an answer for you. Beware of those who don’t take the time to answer your questions or are condescending when they do answer! Also, a wedding planner should use his or her knowledge and experience to plan for certain risks. For example, if a bride wants an outdoor wedding, a wedding planner should immediately suggest having a ‘Plan B’ in case of inclement weather.

Open-Mindedness and Flexibility
This is your wedding day, not the planner’s! Your wedding planner should be open to your ideas and help you make them come to fruition. If the planner sees that a particular idea may not work for a particular situation, or can suggest another way to do it, he or she will do so. But the planner should never impose his or her own will on yours!

Trust is built over time, and should be displayed in the fact that your wedding planner is a person of his or her word. He or she follows up as promised, and should let you know if there will be a delay in responding or answering your questions. He or she should return calls and emails in a timely manner (don’t forget that planners have lives too, so please be reasonable in your expectations). The responsiveness continues well beyond after you signed the contract and throughout the life of your working relationship.

Having many years of project management experience, I can tell you that a wedding is a project, with lots of details that must all come together to make a beautiful occasion. Your wedding planner must be a detail-oriented person to ensure nothing is missed.

I’ve listed this quality last, but it is certainly not least! Your wedding planner should be a kind person who cares about you. As I stated earlier, this person is in your life for a period of time, so they should genuinely want to ensure you have a beautiful wedding day. You should be treated like an individual, not just another paying client. When a planner stops caring about the couples he or she is working with, it’s time to close up shop!

Your Planning Assignment
As you consider hiring a wedding planner, ponder these characteristics. They will help you find the person who’s just right for you. Happy Planning!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Second-Time-Around Brides Can Make Their Weddings Unique

If you are a bride who is marrying for the second time, there are many things to consider. You’ve been down the aisle before, and for whatever reason (divorce or death), your first marriage ended. You consider yourself blessed to have found love again, and are ready to take the plunge again. I am speaking from personal experience as I write, so here are some tips on how to make your second wedding even more special than the first.

Type of Ceremony
Many second-time-around brides choose not to have an elaborate ceremony and reception as they did before. Some choose to have a small ceremony, followed by a party to celebrate (not necessarily all on the same day). Or some may decide to fly to Vegas or visit the local justice of the peace to tie the knot. However you decide to do it, it is a special moment in time.

Whether this is your first or second marriage, a bride’s attire should reflect her personality, body type and ceremony formality. If you had a long train with a cathedral-length veil the first time, consider something totally different this time! Dress styles change as the years progress, so shop for something that is up-do-date and flattering to you. For me, I chose something that was figure-flattering (I was a 40-year-old bride, and wanted to show that I still had my ‘girlish figure’), yet classy. Your attire should make a statement about YOU!

If you married the first time when yellow gold was the rage, consider alternate metals for your new wedding set. Metals such as palladium and titanium have become popular in recent years, and are great choices for your new set. I told my fiancé (now husband) that I wanted something totally different than my first set, and he did just that! :-)

Things to consider
If this is the first marriage for your fiancé, he may want to have a more traditional ceremony for his first wedding. Discuss this fully to ensure you are both on the same page. The most beautiful gift you can give is something another person has always wanted!

Your Planning Assignment

All weddings are celebrations, whether or not they represent your first marriage. Don’t downplay the fact that this isn’t your first trip down the aisle, but work with your fiancé to make it a wonderfully memorable day!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What is a Wedding-Day Timeline and Why Do I Need One?

They say that timing is everything, right? You met your future spouse at just the right time, and now the time has been set for you to become one. An integral part of your wedding is the timeline. But why is it so important on my big day?

What is a wedding-day timeline?
A timeline is a tool that is used to ensure your wedding day flows as smoothly as possible. The timeline will outline what time each major event in your day should be happening. That not only includes your ceremony and reception, but also things like vendor arrival and set up, and bridal party readiness. All of these elements occruing when they should will ensure the success of your wedding day!

Why do I need one?
Any wedding planner worth his or her salt will tell you that having a timeline is a MUST! A timeline helps vendors see the big picture of your day, not just their individual duty. It also ensures everyone is on the same page time-wise, so there are no surprises. The last thing you want is to incur overtime charges from vendors because things are running behind schedule. As the bride, it’s not your job (or it shouldn’t be your job) to worry about what’s coming next (e.g., when is the bouquet toss or at what point do we do our first dance). Your planner has your timeline handy and will ensure things happen when they should.

Who puts my timeline together?
If you are hiring a wedding planner or coordinator, he or she will develop your timeline, with input from your vendors. If you have chosen not to hire a planner or coordinator, I suggest you develop a timeline, and hand it off to someone you trust who can keep things moving. Check out http://www.weddingbee.com/2008/06/24/sample-day-timeline/ for a sample timeline.

Shouldn’t I just let things flow naturally?
Your planner has done many weddings, so he or she understand the natural flow of a wedding. Without having a timeline, things can get out of control (too much time spent on post-ceremony pics, guests waiting while the bride still gets dressed, etc). As I mentioned earlier, if you go over your contracted time with vendors, they can charge you overtime (by the hour). Or, your venue may ask you to leave if you gone over your time (especially if they have another event after yours). Your wedding day will go by quickly, so having a timeline is a requirement!

Your Planning Assignment

If you are not hiring a wedding planner, don’t leaving the timing of your wedding day to chance. Put something together and ask a reliable person to make sure it is followed. Happy Planning!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements: Do You Really Need One?

What a touchy subject! We hear in the media about celebrity couples signing these agreements, but what about the average bride and groom? Are they for the everyday couple, who is so in love that they can’t imagine their marriage ending? We will not tell you how you should feel about a pre-nup or post-nup, but we want to present you some facts so that you and your spouse (or future spouse) can make the best decision for you!

Pre-Nuptial Agreement
According to http://prenuptialagreements.org, this agreement is one “between two people that deals with the financial consequences of their marriage ending.” This site advises that a couple should consider this agreement if one partner has more assets or more debt than the other, you are a part owner in a business, or if you are remarrying. A pre-nuptial agreement (also known as a pre-marital agreement or an ante-nuptial agreement) can be looked at as an insurance policy. Forms can be used to help facilitate this process, but it’s important to get legal counsel in this area.

The history of the pre-nuptial agreement is quite interesting: these agreements were designed to protect the dowry and other possessions of women. Before the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act of 1848, a woman's entire property passed to her husband on their wedding day. And if the marriage ended (by either death or divorce), the wife could lose everything. So, these agreements were initially drawn up to spell out which property would remain with the bride’s family.

Post-Nuptial Agreement
Wikipedia defines a post-nuptial agreement as “a written contract executed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple's affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce.”

If you and your spouse did not sign a pre-nuptial before your wedding, a post-nuptial may be for you. According to http://www.EqualityinMarriage.org, your marriage is subject to your state's marriage laws, if there is no agreement in place. Without one, if your marriage ends, decisions about property distribution are left to a judge to make. When drawing up this agreement, items to consider include current and future income and debt, medical and disability insurance coverage, and any alimony that will be payable to a spouse. According to the site above, this agreement can also be used in case of the death of one spouse.

In the case of either a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, both parties should be represented by separate counsel.

Should my future spouse and I draw up one of these agreements?
Only you and your spouse can answer this question, and both of you should agree on how you want to proceed (one spouse should not be coerced into signing if he or she is not comfortable). Your perception of what these agreements represent (i.e., we are already planning for our marriage to fail) may determine if this is for you or not. Also, if you choose as a couple to move in this direction, it is no one’s business but your own…the decision is yours and yours alone. On a side note, this is a great thing to discuss during pre-marital counseling!

Your Planning Assignment
Consider this question carefully and wisely. Do your research and talk it over honestly with your future spouse.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on the Royal Wedding

That would be me....I, too, am a Queen!
As I write this, the Royal Wedding is now in the recent past. We speculated on what it would be like, tweeted our reactions in real time, and watched hours and hours of live coverage. The purpose of this blog is not to critique wedding attire, give commentary on the royal hats, or to gush over the beauty of everything (yes, it was a beautiful wedding). I am just sharing what some of my first thoughts were as I watched Prince William and Kate Middleton (now Princess) become husband and wife.

Every bride is beautiful, no matter how simple or ornate her wedding is.
As Kate entered Westminster Abbey, the look on her face was one of excitement with a touch of nerves. She glowed with anticipation at seeing her future husband. Doesn’t every bride have that same glow, no matter what ethnicity, age or economic status? Every bride is beautiful!

The Queen of England carries her purse just like my grandmother did!
As The Queen entered Westminster Abbey in her lovely yellow attire, my eyes fell on her purse. I laughed out loud as I thought about my grandmother Catherine Fields. She was a height-challenged lady (i.e., she was short), but was tall in grace. She wore a hat to church regularly and always made sure her purse matched her shoes. It made me smile to realize that elderly ladies are alike in some regards, whether they are the queen of a country or just carry themselves like one!

Planning is key!
Whether a guest list is 50 or 500, planning is key to a memorable experience for the couple as well as for their guests. Do you think Kate worried about where her bouquet was, or what was coming next in the order of things? I would say no, because much planning went into making her day everything it was. And speaking of planning….

What was the planner’s life like the week of the wedding?
I would love to have been able to peer into the planner’s life the week leading up to April 29. Was she stressed out? Was she waking up in the middle of the night thinking about things that needed to be done the next day? Her plans went off without a hitch, so hopefully she has now taken a well-deserved spa trip or vacation!

What was going through the mind of the father of the bride?
Because his daughter was center stage, so was he! Did he cry before they entered the car to travel to the wedding? Did he have any final words of wisdom for her before her life changed forever? Whatever they shared in that brief car ride I’m sure will be cherished by the both of them.

As with every couple I work with, I pray that their marriage is a happy one.
The pomp, circumstances, money, etiquette and drama mean absolutely nothing if the marriage is not one filled with joy and peace. No marriage is perfect, but should be one with love, mutual respect, and fun. This is my wish for Prince William and Kate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wedding Music: Options, Options, Options!

As you begin planning your wedding, the question of music will come up very quickly. Music sets the mood for your wedding, and definitely sets the tone for your reception. This article is not going to touch on song choices or music styles, but will talk about how the music you choose will be played.

Live Music
There is nothing more beautiful than a harpist playing “Here Comes the Bride” as your walk down the aisle! Or what about a live band at your reception playing the latest hits? In my opinion, live music adds a special something to your festivities. When considering this, think about the fact that hiring live musicians can be more expensive than using recorded music. Multiple piece bands have to ensure each band member is paid for the event, especially if they are foregoing a club gig (including tips) to play at your wedding. If they do not charge a specific fee, wedding soloists and accompanists for your ceremony should be given an honorarium for their services (which many times includes attending your wedding rehearsal).

Hiring a DJ
A DJ can be the life of the party, getting everyone engaged, or can ruin the mood of a reception (anyone remember the YouTube video of the drunk DJ?). Disc Jockeys are an excellent option to provide recorded music for both your ceremony and reception. They can also serve as your Master of Ceremonies for your reception, making sure everything flows as it should throughout the evening (along with your planner of course). DJs can also provide lighting to help transform your reception space into a party atmosphere. Make sure your DJ has wedding experience (there is a difference between DJ’ing in a club and for a reception).

Whether hiring live musicians or a DJ, you will need to ensure your music and song choices are given to them ahead of time. Don’t forget to share with them what music you do not want played.

Using an iPod or CD
If your budget is limited, an iPod is a great way to provide music for your ceremony as well as reception. If you decide to go this route, there are several things to consider: (1) There must be someone to operate the iPod, especially for your ceremony. If the processional is taking longer than anticipated, someone will need to repeat the song until the processional is done. And you never want there to be a lull in the music for your reception, unless it’s time to transition to things like the bouquet toss or dollar dance. (2) Always have a plan B. What if your iPod breaks, or what is the CD is scratched? Always have a backup just in case something happens. (3) Make sure you have more than enough songs. Repeating songs is not a good thing for a reception (think about when you’ve been at a party or club, and you hear the same song every 30 minutes…no good, right?). There should be enough songs loaded to last the entire evening. Although you are saving money with this option, this choice is very labor-intensive!

Your Planning Assignment
Choose wisely the manner in which your music will be presented at your wedding. It can make your break your special day!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Using Technology in Planning Your Wedding

Technology can be used in many ways to plan a wedding. We are able to documents details, plan seating arrangements, and keep up with vendor meetings, on our laptops, desktops and mobile devices. This article will share with you some (and remind you of others) ways to use technology to make wedding planning easier.

Wedding Websites
Wedding websites are a great way to inform your guests of all the details of your wedding, from how you met to where you plan to go on your honeymoon. If you are tired to answering the question “Where are you registered?” point people to your website! This is also a great way to get a last minute message to all of your friends, such as a change in location for your rehearsal dinner. Sites such as http://www.theknot.com/ or http://www.weddingwire.com/ offer free websites that can be built in minutes.

Wedding Podcast Network
Do you like listening to podcasts as you’re working out or driving? Check out the Wedding Podcast Network (http://www.weddingpodcastnetwork.com/), which has topics including travel, beauty and exercise tips, and conversations with wedding professionals. There is even something for MOBs (mothers of the bride).

Smartphone Apps
Smartphones , such as the Blackberry and iPhone are what many brides are using to plan their weddings and organize their lives (as a user of a smartphone, I cannot imagine life without it!). Check out apps such as “Wedding Organizer”, “Wedding Checklist”, and “iBridal Gowns” to assist you in keeping it all together!

Are there special people who are unable to travel to your wedding, but you still want them to share in the festivities? Check out www.ustream.tv to see what production services they have available. Also, check with your videographer to see if they can provide this service.

Slide Shows
This is not a new idea, but one I really love! Many couples, with the help of their photographer or videographer, run a slide show of their childhood, vacation and other pictures of themselves for their guests to view during dinner. It’s a great way to for people to see how you have progressed as individuals, and how you’ve grown as a couple. Also, check with your photographer if he/she offers the service of displaying pictures of the wedding at the reception (guests really like this!)

Viewing proofs
Finally, when your big day is over, many photographers give you the option of viewing your proofs via the web. You give your guests your password (after all, you don’t want some stalker looking at your pics online), and they can view proofs and order their prints directly from the photographer. It’s also a much better way to decide on which shots you want to include in your wedding album than a proof book (in my opinion).

Technology can help make wedding planning easier. Take some time to learn more about the options that are available to you, and use them to enhance your planning experience.  Happy Planning!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Need Help Choosing My Bridal Party!

Family members and friends who are chosen to be a part of your bridal party should consider it an honor! At the same time, those you choose should be special to you in some way (e.g., friend from the 1st grade, sister, fraternity brother, etc.) Don’t take making the decision of who will stand with you lightly!

Characteristics to Consider
I believe all members of your bridal party should display these characteristics. The last thing you want to have to worry about is someone who is not:

Trustworthy – You are putting faith in people, in the hopes that they will be there for you! Don’t choose someone whose word you know is not good for anything!

Reliable – Is your cousin always late? Is your fraternity brother the type of person who changes his mind in an instant? You want to select people who are reliable, will show up when and where they need to, and will do what they said they would do.

Fun – Weddings are fun, and members of your bridal party should be fun as well. I’m not saying that each person must be the life of the party, but they should want to have a good time to celebrate your new life! Don’t pick someone who’s a killjoy!

Share in your happiness – Sometimes our friends and loved ones who are not married or not in a relationship may feel a bit of jealousy toward you. Don’t choose someone who’s a ‘hater’ and can’t share in your happiness.

Money and Bridal Party Members
Let’s be honest here…..it can be a bit expensive to be in a wedding, since bridal party members are responsible for their attire and transportation/lodging to the wedding. If you know someone is not working or may not have the means to handle these costs, don’t ask them to be a part of your wedding. If you do ask them, they may say yes, but then leave you in a lurch at the last minute (I’ve seen this happen TOO MANY times!) If you insist on having them as a part of your wedding, keep in mind that you may end up footing the bill for them (and this will need to be included in your wedding budget). The choice is yours….just be knowledgeable about the choice you are making!

I was in her wedding, should I ask her to be in mine?
Because you were in someone else’s wedding, it doesn’t automatically mean the previous bride must be in yours. Maybe you and your fiancé have agreed to include only siblings, or you’ve decided to keep your bridal party small. Whatever your reasoning, you shouldn’t feel obligated to include someone because they included you.

What if my relationship with someone has changed?
You may have been close to someone a few years ago, but for whatever reason, you are not as close as you once were. Relationships can change over time and distance, and let’s face it, people can change too! You may have other friends who are now closer to you than she is. If you and your friend promised to be in each other’s weddings back in the first grade, but your friendship has transitioned, don’t feel obligated to include her in your bridal party. In this case, one option is to ask her to do something else for you (i.e., hostess, gift collector, etc).

Your Planning Assignment
The decision on who to include in your bridal party is yours! Don’t feel pressured to include people you don’t want, and stick by your decision. It’s your choice and your day! Happy Planning!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Importance of Planning Reception Seating

Planning the seating for your reception may not be the most exciting thing to do, but it will ensure your wedding guests fully enjoy celebrating your new life as husband and wife. Although it’s your special day, it wouldn’t be the same without your guests to share it with, and their comfort is important!

Why should I have reserved seating?
In my opinion, there is nothing worse than an unorganized reception. Your guests should be well-informed as to what to expect and where to go. If they have to make sure they have a seat by rushing into the reception room or saving seats for other people, your reception can be chaotic. Also, if you are having a sit-down or buffet-style dinner, it’s imperative that every guest have a seat (how can someone balance a dinner plate and a drink while standing?) This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at some who don’t plan to have seating for everyone! :-)

The importance of the RSVP
Besides letting you know who will be attending your wedding celebration, the RSVP helps you determine what your final budget will be for food, alcohol, and favors. Be sure to set a realistic deadline date and stick to it. If you are not getting responses in a timely manner, use your wedding website to send a friendly reminder to guests, or have family members follow up with a phone call to check on your guests’ status. You are not obligated to accommodate a guest who responds after the deadline!

When to work on your seating plan
You can lay the groundwork for your seating plan as soon as you know how your reception room will be arranged. One approach is to assign guests to tables as soon as you receive RSVPs. The downside of this is that if you do this too soon, and change your mind about where you want to seat someone, you may have to make a few changes until you have the final version. Any late RSVP should be seated wherever you have room (if you decide to try to accommodate them!) Check out wedding planning sites such as Wedding Wire (http://www.weddingwire.com) for great tools to assist you with your seating arrangements!

What are some things to keep in mind as you arrange your guest seating?
Again, the best interest of your guests is important as you answer these questions:

  • Will guests know each other?
  • Will a single person feel out of place sitting with married couples?
  • Are there guests who may not get along and should be seated separately (such as a divorced couple)?
  • Will a guest with a disability or special needs be able to maneuver in a particular area of the room?
  • Should an elderly guest be seated closer to the buffet?
Options for seating
Place cards – These are small cards that include a guest’s name and table number. Guests can pick them up during cocktail hour, or as they are entering the reception room.

Favors – A favor can double as a place card (such as a small picture frame with the guest’s name and table number, or piece of chocolate with a tag containing the seating information). Use your imagination!

Hostesses – Hostesses can check your guests in and inform them of their assigned table. You may even designate ushers to escort people to their seats!

Seating charts/scrolls – Guests’ names and table numbers are listed on a chart (usually in alphabetical order) so guests can determine where their seats are. See the picture above for just one way it can be done (picture courtesy of http://avasweddings.com )

Your Planning Assignment

Set your RSVP date so that you will have enough time to complete seating arrangements, as well as give a final guest count to your caterer, favor maker, and cake baker. Happy Planning!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Must I Sign Contracts with Wedding Vendors?

This is a question I am asked often. Those who tend to be very trusting of others, or may be intimidated by the verbiage in contracts may wonder why it’s necessary to have them. However, I believe, as do wedding professionals, that contracts for services requested are a MUST!

A Contract Outlines Exactly What You Are Purchasing 
Are you requesting something out of the ordinary from your venue (upgraded linens instead of standard linens for example)? Your contract outlines specifically what you are expecting your wedding vendor to provide. Look for these items in your contracts:  
  • Date of event 
  • Arrival Time
  • Specific package/service/product (should be very descriptive)
  • Amount of deposit needed to book services and whether or not it is non-refundable
  • Payment schedule
  • Cancellation policy
  • Whether the vendor should be provided a hot meal on wedding day
  • Date the final product (such as wedding videos) will be completed
Any special requests (even if your vendor has verbally agreed to do something special for you, if it’s not in writing, it may as well not exist!)

Pay special attention to the cancellation clause of your contract. In many cases, it will state that the initial deposit is non-refundable if the event is cancelled. This is to protect the vendor from loss and to compensate them for work performed to date. Keep in mind that once you booked your date with a vendor, they are probably turning down other business for the same date.

A Contract is a Means of Protecting Oneself

Because the contract is clear on what products and services are being provided, it is a reference in case you have an issue or concern with what has been received. If your florist agreed to provide calla lilies for your bouquets, and they are delivered with roses, you have recourse to request new bouquets! Because there are so many details to remember regarding your wedding, contracts are a great way to keep up with the specifics.

A Contract Should Be Read Carefully!

Don’t just gloss over the language and rush to sign! Read each clause of the contract carefully, and if you have questions, ask! A professional should be happy to explain each clause to you, so you fully understand what you are signing. Be leery of a contract that requires an extremely large payment upfront or of a vendor who cannot (or will not) address your concerns.


Read and ask questions! I can’t emphasize this enough! And make sure your contracts contain all of the specifics and special items requested before you sign. Don’t allow a vendor to intimidate you into signing something you don’t understand or something that is incomplete.
Happy Planning!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Planning a Bachelor or Bachelorette Party

This blog post was inspired by the Bridgestone commercial from the 2010 Super Bowl (if you haven't seen it, check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sQBT3QOT9w).

The responsibility of planning of a bachelor or bachelorette party generally falls to members of the bridal party. It’s their job to ensure the bride and groom enjoy their last days of single-ness before they enter the world of wedding bliss. Here are few suggestions for planning:

What To Do For The Bride
If you are planning a bachelorette party for a bride, whether you decide to go wild or mild should fit the bride’s personality. So the planner should check with her on her preferences!

There are many directions that this celebration can take. The bride may want something low key, such as a dinner date with her bridesmaids and close female friends, a trip to the spa to relieve some of the stress of wedding planning, or even a weekend getaway to Las Vegas (complete with everything that goes on in Vegas) as a last hurrah! Brides, it’s important to remember that other people are planning (and paying for) this celebration for you, so keep their budget in mind. After all, they are also paying for a dress for your wedding, and may even be travelling to celebrate your special day.

If you are planning a party where you plan to drink, consider hiring a limo service or party bus to transport you from place to place. This will be one less thing to worry about on party night!

A bachelorette party is also a great time for bridesmaids to bond and get to know each other before the wedding, especially if they may not all know each other. Some great ideas for games, compliments of http://www.bachelorettepartyideas.net/ include: a scavenger hunt, a “How Well Do You Know the Bachelorette” game, and a “Pin the Macho on the Man” game (like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”)

What About The Guys?
When we think ‘bachelor party,’ our minds go to wild and crazy parties, with guys getting drunk and watching nude female dancers. But there’s more to bachelor parties than this! Other ideas for bachelor parties, from http://theplunge.com/, include a weekend trip to a sporting event, a fishing or camping trip, a poker party or a golf outing.

Co-Ed Parties
If the bride and groom can’t bear to be apart, a co-ed celebration may be in order! This is becoming a popular way for the entire bridal party to have fun together! And if you like, part of the day can be spent with guys and girls doing their own thing, with everyone coming together for dinner or an evening out. The possibilities are endless!

Brides and Grooms, be sure your bridal party is aware of your party preferences. If you know you will not enjoy a half-naked person dancing in front of you, make that fact known. Also, consider having your parties a week or more before the wedding. The night before your wedding really should be spend getting the rest you need for the day you’ve been planning for a long time!

Happy Planning!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Incorporating Children at Weddings

There are many ways to incorporate children in weddings, with something to do for every age group! If you have nieces, nephews, children or even grandchildren, to include them in the festivities is very special and meaningful. My step-granddaughter-to-be was in my wedding, and we were both tickled pink! She was precious!

The roles children can play in your ceremony
We’ve all seen pictures of cute little boys and girls all dressed up, walking down the aisle at a wedding! The little girl, as the flower girl, is delicately throwing rose petals to prepare the way for the bride. And the ring bearer, all gussied up in his little tuxedo, is carefully carrying the bride’s ring (or a replica) on his little pillow. This is a great way to include younger nieces, nephews, children, or grandchildren in your wedding. A word of caution: these children should be old enough to be able to walk down the aisle alone and follow instructions. A crying ring bearer may be cute for a few minutes, but after a while, the crying may ruin the atmosphere of your special day.

What about older children?
If there are older children in your family (around ages 9-14), consider asking them to be a junior bridesmaid or junior groomsmen. They fulfill a similar role as your adult bridesmaids and groomsmen and are dressed similarly (the junior bridesmaids dress should be one that suit a girl of her age...avoid the lower necklines and higher hemlines). Teenagers can play a part as well as ushers and hostesses. Your ushers can escort guests to their seats and roll out the aisle runner for the brides, while hostesses can distribute wedding programs and check in guests at your reception.

Younger children are probably not interested in eating Chicken Marsala or Beef Wellington, so be sure to have a kids menu available. And of course, they will not be served alcohol, so make sure there are beverages for them available.

Mini parties/receptions
Children can get bored with the goings-on of a wedding reception. How about giving them their own party, while the reception is going on? You can hire a sitter, have a special menu for them, and include games, party favors and even their own dessert (cupcakes would be ideal). This also gives parents a break and allows them to enjoy the adult party.

Your Planning Assignment
Carefully consider how you will incorporate your families’ children in this memorable occasion. If a child is too young or doesn’t feel comfortable in a particular role, it’s ok. You can always have special seating for them, or give them a special gift so that they feel a part of the festivities. When hiring a sitter, make sure the person is reputable and trustworthy. Do a search on ‘event sitters’ to find companies that offer this service in your area.

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Flash Mob Wedding

Had to share this wedding video I ran across.  The reaction of some of the mall shoppers is hilarious! Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wedding Podcast Network

If you love technology like I do, this site is just for you.  The Wedding Podcast Network is "the largest, most comprehensive collection of original wedding talk radio programming for couples planning their wedding."  I think I will be a regular listener!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why Have a Cruise Ship Wedding

Cruising is a wonderful way to vacation, and is one of my favorite ways to escape. They offer a variety of entertainment, great ports of call, and endless food! So consider how fantastic it can be to have your wedding celebration on a luxury liner! What can cruise lines offer brides and grooms to make their weddings memorable?

Onboard wedding packages
Packages for a shipboard wedding can include a wedding officiant (on some cruise lines, the captain to perform your ceremony), wedding cake, champagne toast, and wedding flowers (bouquet and boutonniere). Packages can be customized to suit your needs!

Destination wedding packages
If you desire to get married on a beautiful island, cruise lines can help make this happen! You can work with your travel agent or the cruise line’s wedding specialist to determine which ports of call are available for ceremonies. And these packages can also include things like wedding cake and wedding flowers.

Built-in honeymoon
The advantage of getting married while on a cruise is that your honeymoon begins immediately. You move seamlessly from your wedding to your reception to your honeymoon, making great use of your time onboard!

Family members can share your special day and have a vacation
Many couples enjoy sharing this vacation time with their close family and friends. There is so much to do, you will still have private moments together as a couple (your guests will be busy enjoying all of the cruise amenities). And you can all come together at dinner to share your adventures!

I encourage you to work with a reputable travel agency to plan your wedding cruise. Because of special relationships they may have with cruise lines, exclusives offers may be available. Lastly, plan your wedding cruise early. This is a very popular way to get married, and dates fill up quickly.

Happy Cruising!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  Wanted to share these words with you today.

"Wishing you 12 months of happiness, 52 weeks of fun, 365 days of laughter, 8760 hours of divine favour, 525,600 minutes of joy, and 31,536,000 seconds of success." -The awesome words of Josh Heikkila

Here's hoping that 2011 is your best year yet!