5 Things To Know Before Hiring a Wedding Planner

  1. We're not psychic. Communication is key, and we can't read your mind. If you make changes to the number of guests, the time of the ceremony/reception, the budget, etc. we need to know these things. One "minor" change can have a trickle-down effect that you don't realize.
  2. This is our job. Yes, we love you, and we are always happy to talk to you. During business hours. Or the occasional pre-arranged after-hours meeting. While we try to be flexible to accommodate your schedule, please understand that we also have friends/family/obligations outside of work, and if we don't take time to have a personal life we're going to have a nervous breakdown.
  3. It's really hard for us to schedule meetings and reply to emails on the weekends. Imagine it's your wedding day, and your wedding planner/coordinator is trying to squeeze in three meetings before arriving at your venue and working 12 hours. Not ideal.
  4. A wedding is a party, not a performance. We want you to have fun and enjoy your wedding day. And yes, details are very important. But when your wedding becomes such a production that you can't enjoy it with your family and friends, it's time to scale back a bit.
  5. We have ideal clients. If we feel our style/price point/personality doesn't match what you need, we're happy to refer you to another coordinator/planner. Don't be offended - we want you to have the best experience possible! 

Bonus #6. We hate sparkler send-offs. Handing people that have been drinking for 5+ hours fire and then asking people to walk very close to them is a bad idea. Find another option for your send-off!

10 Tips From Bride To Bride

This article was written by one of our former brides, Lauren, after her wedding! We hope you enjoy these tips.

  • Place a small number on the back corner of each response card, and record that number on your guest list. You WILL get RSVP cards back that do not have a name written on them or a return address on envelops, and the stamp from the post office from where it shipped from will only go so far.

  • Go to Wedding Expos! See what and who your choices are first hand and in person. Expos give you a chance to see everyone in one place, whether you are looking for one vendor or all of them, and you don’t have to drive all over town to find out they are what you are looking for. Hint: Take your fiancé! If he/she isn’t involved in the wedding planning, they sure will appreciate you after a Bridal Show experience!

  • Please, oh please, don’t buy a dress that weighs more than you. I had a light strapless dress and the only thing I could think about 30 minutes until the end of the reception was taking it off! (And no, not only for that reason!) You don’t realize how much a heavy dress can interrupt your night.

  • Do schedule a little night photo-shoot with your photographer. We did pictures around 10:00 pm when everyone was good and comfortable on the dance floor. We snuck away and took some great shots, along with having a little breather so you get a few minutes of sweet alone time.

  • If you choose to wear a veil, as much as you love that veil and won't have another opportunity to wear one, let me just share my experience before you make the decision you don’t want to part with it the whole day. Everyone that hugs you or dances with you will tug on the veil (without knowing of course) and whatever style your hair was at the beginning of the day will look torn up! If I were to do it again, I’d take it of after dinner!

  • Do a fake cake! The bottom layer of our 5-tier cake was the only part of the cake that was real so we could cut into it and get those priceless picture of smashing it in each others faces. The rest of our cake was in the kitchen already sliced and put out right after we cut into it. Instead of having waitstaff at your cake table for 30 minutes making a mess, it was already done.

  • Make an email address only for wedding correspondence. I had (my name)2B(future last name) and it worked great! If you want to stay in contact with any of your wedding vendors after the big day, send an email to specific people politely asking them to update their address book.

  • Do eat! My hubby and I didn’t make it around to everyone’s table; if that’s rude, we sure didn’t get any complaints. We noticed as we were eating, the people that were going to leave early or knew they weren’t going to run into us on the dance floor came to us.

  • I worried up until a few weeks before the wedding about what “Our Song” was going to be. Its really easy getting frustrated finding a song if you don’t already have one when you’re listening to every word making sure its perfect, however, not you, your hubby, or your guests will most likely hear every word like you did listening by yourself. My advice, pick a song that’s just special between the two of you.

  • Make sure both sets of parents have a speech planned. Our wedding was pretty traditional. The groom's parents threw the Rehearsal Dinner, where his parents said a little something, and my father had a toast during the wedding reception. I know it sounds very traditional, but it really sets the tone for two families becoming one. Everyone could feel the love our parents had for us and our new spouse with words they said.

Kaley and Ross - TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach

Venue: TPC Sawgrass
Photography: Wiler Weddings
Flowers: Anything With Plants and Flowers
Cakes: Classic Cakes
Entertainment: Bay Kings Band

Laura and Jamey - Memorial Presbyterian Church + Timuquana Country Club Wedding

Ceremony Venue: Memorial Presbyterian Church
Reception Venue: Timuquana Country Club
Photographer: Life and Love Studio
Florist: Rose of Sharon European Florist
Entertainment: White Tie Entertainment and Wehner Weddings
Cake: Heavenly Chocolate Creations
Linens: Connie Duglin Specialty Linen

Laura and Collin - TPC Sawgrass Ceremony, Ponte Vedra Beach

Venue: TPC Sawgrass
Photographer: Life and Love Studio
Ceremony Music: Wehner Weddings
Flowers: Floriade

Summer and Frank - TPC Sawgrass Wedding, Ponte Vedra Beach

Venue: TPC Sawgrass
Photography: J. Mosley Photography
Flowers: Rose of Sharon European Florist
Cake: Classic Cakes
Beauty: Casey Does Hair

Mallory and Chris - Bowing Oaks Wedding, Jacksonville

Venue: Bowing Oaks Plantation
Floral: Marble and Pine
Photography: Flora and Fauna
Catering: 4 Rivers
Entertainment: The Royals
Video: Seth Dunlap
Cake: Creme De La Cocoa

Kimberly and Gene - TPC Sawgrass Wedding, Ponte Vedra Beach

Venue: TPC Sawgrass
Photography: Dana Goodson
Videography: Take One Productions
Flowers: Arlene's Designs
Cake: Classic Cakes
Entertainment: D'Land Entertainment and Wehner Weddings
Beauty: Key To Glam

Wedding Trend: Using Pillows

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Lounge furniture is fabulous for weddings of all sizes.  But it often looks awkward when not tied in to the rest of the design. So how do you make it work?

Pillows!

That's right, just like you use pillows on your sofa at home for a pop of color,  add pillows to your lounge furniture to do the same. And even better - use them to add texture!

Creative Coverings has an easy solution - they rent pillows that match their linens! Rather than buying a bunch of pillows that may not match your home decor, rent them. The photo above is from the Creative Coverings website. What a fun look!

How could you incorporate pillows into your wedding design?

ABC Florida State Conference Recap #BeBoldABC

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This week, I had the pleasure of working with my dear friends and fellow Master Wedding Planners Carmen Mesa of Carmen Mesa Events and Tammy Waterman of Special Moments Event Planning to produce a fabulous conference for wedding professionals. The Association of Bridal Consultants' Florida State Conference is always a labor of love, but hearing each and every attendee walk away saying how much they had learned makes it all worth it! Here's a little recap: Saturday night, we treated our amazing speakers to a fun evening at Sweet Pete's and The Candy Apple Cafe and Cocktails.

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Sunday morning kicked off with brunch, where I got to tell everyone some interesting facts about Jacksonville. (#ILoveJax)

brunch collage(thanks to Rose of Sharon European Florist for the centerpieces, Beachview Event Rentals for the chairs, and PRI Productions for the super cool Jacksonville backdrop)

general session

After brunch, we went into our general session room for lots of great educational content:

And then it was on to the poolside cocktail reception! The weather could not have been more amazing. As event planners, we always worry about the weather when planning outdoor events - especially in August in Florida! But there was not a drop of rain that day, and the breeze made the rooftop deck quite comfortable.

Omni hotel Jacksonville poolside reception

Day 2 of the conference started with a casual breakfast. How cool are these centerpieces from Rose of Sharon European Florist?

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And the Omni Hotel Jacksonville staff created the letters "ABC" out of the parfaits!

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For Tuesday's lunch, each speaker was assigned a table. Lauren from Ten23 Designs created these adorable signs with their names! She also made tons of other cute decor pieces that were used throughout the conference.

lunch table

Monday's educational sessions were just as amazing as Sunday's:

  • Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting - Attaining Expert Status: How to Become on Expert Industry Leader
  • Susan Southerland, Just Marry! - Selling to Couples at Every Planning Phase
  • Charlene Shirk, C. Shirk Productions - Pitch Perfect: How to Deliver A Great Media Interview
  • Bryan Glynn, BGPictures - Critical Website & Internet Tips for Your Business and Making $$ with YouTube
  • Donnie Brown & Steve Kemble - Social Media As Your PR Consultant (Round Table)

Sadly, it was time to say good bye to all of our friends, new and old. These little snack packs had water, chips, and sweets for the drive/flight home.

take home snack boxes

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It was an amazing (and exhausting!) three days, and I am so thankful for everyone that attended. Want to see more photos? Check out the ABC Florida Facebook page.

Wedding Trend: Two Aisles for Same-Sex Ceremonies

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As same-sex couples prepare for their wedding ceremonies, the question often arises about the processional. Traditionally, a groom may enter from the side while a bride may walk down a center aisle. But what if there are two brides or two grooms? Who walks where and when?
same sex wedding ceremony
A recent trend involves creating two aisles for the couple to process down simultaneously.
  • If you are marrying in an outdoor space with lots of room to play with, the two partners could walk in from the sides to meet in the middle.
  • Or, create two sections of chairs rather than two, creating two aisles from back to front.
  • If escorts will be walking the couple down the aisle(s), consider having an extra-wide aisle for both pairs to walk down together. This is a great symbol of families uniting together.
The great thing about personalizing your wedding ceremony is that it can be a true reflection of your relationship. There are no strict rules - get creative!

Wedding Trend: Glam It Up!

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Purple glam wedding Adding shiny and sparkly elements to celebrations is a continuing trend! Whether you want an over-the-top  bling-fest, or subtle touches of gold or silver, add a touch of glam to any color palette or theme.

Are you drawn to pale pink, blush, ivory? These are the perfect colors to add gold accents to.  If you are going for a blend of cobalt, teal and navy, add some rhinestone touches to brighten it up.

How are you adding metallics or bling to your wedding?

2014 Planner of the Year - National Association for Catering and Events

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NACE Experience! 2015 ConferenceI've just returned from the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) conference - known as Experience! 2015 - in Scottsdale, AZ. I love going to conferences, and I think continuing education is crucial in our industry. Even though I have been doing weddings for 16 years, and I have owned my own company for 13 years, I learn something new at every single session I go to. While I anticipated coming home with lots of great new knowledge, I didn't anticipate coming home with this amazing award: 2014 Planner of the Year. Wow. I'm still in shock. Especially since I didn't even know I was nominated!

Our NACE Northeast Florida Chapter President, Belinda Cottrell from the Marriott Sawgrass, secretly entered me into this category. I have no idea how much time she put into this process, but I'm sure it was many, many, many hours of digging. 2014 Planner of the Year National Association for Catering and EventsHaving submitted awards entries for our chapter, I know how detailed and arduous the process is! So my eternal gratitude goes to Belinda and everyone else that helped her gather the information she needed.

So what is Planner of the Year? According to the pretty glass plaque (which I can't get a decent close-up photo of), this award is given "for outstanding achievement in the overall planning and production of events, as well as contributions which have made significant impact on the catering and events industry." Wow, again.  That's pretty heavy. And a lot to live up to! It amazes me that my industry colleagues think that description fits me. I am beyond humbled! It still hasn't sunk in that the beautiful glass plaque with those words etched on it also contains my name.

When I earned my Master Bridal Consultant designation in 2011, I was so honored that a panel of my peers thought that I deserved to be in this amazing group of professionals. And now, to be selected for one of the top honors in our industry, I can't believe that I get to do what I love every day and that people think I'm THIS good at it. Mind. Blown.

I have lots and lots of cool information to share that I learned at the conference, so stay tuned for more blog posts in the coming weeks. Cheers!

Spotlight: Art Prints from Minted

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We love Minted for their beautiful wedding stationery. (Psst... our clients get 20% off, ask us for the discount code!) But did you know that Minted also has an amazing line of Art Prints? I decided to show off some of my favorites - and yes, I have very diverse taste!minted-art-print-2

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I LOVE that you can buy a frame right along with the print, and try out different frames virtually. I have the hardest time choosing frames for artwork!

So while you are browsing Minted's wedding stationery collection, take a look at these great options for your new home! If you aren't familiar with Minted, here's a little bit about them:

Minted's community of independent artists and designers are located in 48 states and 43 countries. They are illustrators and textile designers, painters and packaging designers, marketers and stay-at-home moms. Some have design degrees, and others are participating in Minted competitions to learn design for the first time. They share a deep love for creative expression, personal development, risk-taking, and most importantly, paying it forward by helping each other.

Be sure to check out Minted's line of stationery as well as art and home decor! Do you have any favorites? Post the link below in the comments.

Hurricane Season and Your Florida Wedding

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Hurricane Season and Your Florida WeddingIt's here again: HURRICANE SEASON. That's right, June 1st (which is Monday, by the way!) kicks off Floridians' favorite time of year. Time to stock up on the hurricane party supplies. Oops, I mean emergency preparedness items. But what happens when your wedding takes place during hurricane season (6/1-11/30)? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Have a good Plan B. And Plan C. And Plan D. Even if a hurricane isn't in the forecast for your immediate area, they can bring drastic weather changes with them. If you are planning on an outdoor ceremony, have a great indoor option booked. Think through your outdoor decor, and see if it will work with the indoor space. If not, talk to your designer or florist about changes that could be made if necessary, and what the deadline for those changes would be.
  • Purchase wedding insurance well in advance. Much like homeowners' insurance policies, there are time limits for purchasing hurricane coverage for your wedding. Be sure to know those deadlines, and finalize your policy in time. (For more info on wedding insurance, check out our friends at http://www.protectmywedding.com.)
  • Remember that your honeymoon location might be affected. Keep an eye on the forecast for your honeymoon destination. Consider purchasing travel insurance if you are going to an area that might be in the path of a storm. Again, there are deadlines for purchasing insurance, so talk to your travel agent about options!

Burying Bourbon For Good Weather On Your Wedding Day

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southern folklore good weather on your wedding day Every couple that is planning an outdoor wedding stresses out about one thing: the weather! Hopefully you have great backup plans in place if you are planning an outdoor event. (If you don't, you should!) But here's an old tradition you might want to add to your wedding planning schedule.

Southern folklore has it that 30 days before the wedding, at the time of the ceremony, the couple should go to the ceremony location and bury a bottle of bourbon upside down. During the cocktail hour, the bottle is dug up and subsequently passed around for all to enjoy. The folklore must be true, because we've seen it done at 3 weddings now and all have had fabulous weather despite rainy or cold days before and after!

Do you have any superstitions or traditions you'd like to share?

(photo from Ann and Mark's November 2014 wedding, by Susan Michal Photography)

Wedding Attire Guidelines

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Tuxedo I'm always a big fan of including a dress code on wedding invitations. Guests that live in your area might be able to guess the formality based on the location, but out-of-town guests won't have a clue! Save everyone from embarrassment of being under- or over-dressed by adding a little line on the bottom of your invitation with the suggested attire.

  • White Tie (channel your inner Downton Abbey) Men: Tuxedo with tails, a white vest, and a bow tie. White gloves are appropriate for dancing. Women: A formal, floor-length evening gown, preferably in a dark color.
  • Black Tie Men: Traditional tuxedo, preferably with a black bow tie and cummerbund. (yes, you'll look like a maitre d', but so will everyone else) Women: A long dress or a formal cocktail-length dress in a dark color.
  • Black Tie Optional / Formal Men: Tuxedo or dark suit. Women: A long dress or a formal cocktail-length dress in a dark color. (think little black dress)
  • Semi-Formal Men: Suit and tie, either light or dark depending on the season and time of day. Wear darker colors for evening, lighter colors for daytime. Women: Cocktail dress or other dressy dress.
  • Casual Men: Dress of khaki pants with a button-down shirt or polo shirt. Women: Sundress or even capris and a cute top. (If it's a beach wedding, use "Beach Casual")

For even more attire guidelines, check out EmilyPost.com's Attire Guide.