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!

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)

Wacky Wedding Superstitions

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It's that dreaded day - Friday the 13th. We were lucky {!} enough to get two Friday the 13ths this year - exactly 13 weeks apart. Weird? Absolutely. Scary? For a lot of people. For some insight, check out the article "Why Does Friday the 13th Scare Us So Much?" over on the National Geographic website. We thought it would be fitting to look at some wacky wedding superstitions on this inauspicious day:

  • The English believe a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck. Ew!
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans thought the veil protected the bride from evil spirits. Brides have worn veils ever since.
  • Saturday is the unluckiest wedding day, according to English folklore. But in modern culture, it's the most popular day of the week to marry!
  • In Denmark, brides and grooms traditionally cross-dressed to confuse evil spirits! 
  • According to folklore, a knife signifies a broken relationship and is bad luck to give as a wedding gift. If knives are on your registry, just give the gift giver a penny. That way it's a purchase, not a gift. 
  • Having a cat eat out of your left shoe one week before the wedding is good luck.
  • Peonies, one of the most desirable wedding flowers, actually represent shame!
  • Single women should take a piece of wedding cake home, and sleep with it under their pillow. Then they will dream of their future husband!

But here's one that we actually agree with: Don't use your married name or monogram before the wedding! Some think it's tempting fate to do so, and the wedding will not take place. If you're superstitious (or a stickler for proper etiquette), save the monogramming for your reception decor and registry items.

Would you get married on a Friday the 13th?

The Groom's Cake

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Grooms Cake Jacksonville FL Wedding The Groom's Cake is a tradition popular in the South, but where did this tradition come from?

In the Victorian Era, the groom's cake was a dense fruit cake. Small pieces of cake were put into boxes and given to the single women at the wedding. The women put the cake under their pillow to bring dreams of their future husband.

While that tradition has gone away, the groom's cake is still generally darker or denser than the wedding cake. Popular favorites include chocolate cake, carrot cake, or cheesecake. And it is still popular to box the groom's cake and give it to your guests as a wedding favor.

We see lots of our couples serve the groom's cake at the rehearsal dinner rather than at the wedding. Usually, the cake is designed with the groom's interests or hobbies in mind. The fun cake pictured here is from Jenna and Andy's wedding, and was created by Classic Cakes and photographed by Fox Fotography.

So do you have to have one? No, it's your wedding - do whatever you want to! But it is a fun way to incorporate a touch of the groom's personality into the wedding day.

10 Wedding Budget Busters

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Creating a realistic budget should be one of the first steps a newly-engaged couple take. But even the best budget won't work if you leave things out! We've put together a list of the top 10 most overlooked wedding costs:

  1. Postage - Wedding invitations come in every shape and style these days. Just remember that square wedding invitations and thicker paper stocks create a heavier package, which means more postage. Your invitation envelopes can range from a regular stamp (currently 45 cents) to a 2-ounce stamp (currently 65 cents) or even more. If you invitation is square, add on a little more too. A 2-ounce square envelope will be 85 cents currently. Plus, remember that all of your response card envelopes need a stamp too! For 100 invitations, budget at least $150 for postage.
  2. Wedding Gown Alterations, Steaming, and Dry Cleaning - You've found the perfect gown. But does it fit exactly perfectly? Chances are, probably not. Depending on the type of work to be done, and the style of your dress, alterations can run from $100 to $600 or more. Most brides spend an average of $350. Some gown shops or seamstresses will include steaming your dress just before the wedding to get the wrinkles out. If yours didn't, add another $50-200 for this service.  And once the wedding is over, you'll want to clean and possibly preserve your wedding gown; this service generally costs $150-300.
  3. Sales Tax - Almost everything you purchase, rent or contract will have sales tax added. Be sure that you calculate this into everything, including your food and beverage charges.
  4. Welcome Bag Delivery - Most hotels charge between $1 and $10 to deliver welcome bags to guests' rooms. If you plan on using this service, figure that amount into your budget.
  5. Vendor Meals - Your photographers, videographers, and wedding planners will be with you for 8+ hours on your wedding day. They need food. In addition, your band or DJ's contract may require a meal. Most venues or caterers have special pricing for vendor meals that typically don't include the hors d'oeuvres, salads and desserts. Be sure to ask when you are talking about menus!
  6. Overtime Fees - It's been an awesome party, and you just don't want the night to end. Your wedding planner or the venue's banquet captain comes to you and asks if you'd like to extend the reception. YES! But wait. What will it cost? You'll most likely have an extra rental fee from the venue, charges to pay the service staff and bartenders to stay longer, plus overtime fees from your band, DJ, photographer, videographer, and wedding planner.
  7. Delivery and Setup Fees - All the beautiful table linens, centerpieces and chairs that you ordered need to get the venue. Be sure to factor in delivery fees! And be sure to ask who will tie those pretty chair sashes. If your venue coordinator or wedding planner won't do it, you'll need to pay someone to do the setup.
  8. Gratuities: Some wedding professionals include a gratuity in their contracts. Others will leave it to your discretion. Be sure to read your contract carefully, and make a list of people you will need to tip the day of the wedding. This list might include limo drivers, hair stylists, makeup artists, officiants, and musicians.
  9. Favors: Those cute little favors you found on Etsy that are only $4.00 each? Those add up to $600 if you have 150 guests! Have your wedding planner put together a list of options in different price points to find something your budget will like as much as you do.
  10. Parking/Valet Charges: Many resorts and urban hotels have parking charges, whether your guests use valet or self parking. It's my philosophy that the hosts should pay for parking, not the guests. If your venue doesn't offer parking, you may want to rent spaces in a nearby parking garage for your guests. Nothing is worse than having half of your guests late to your reception because they couldn't find parking!

I hope you have enjoyed reviewing this list of most commonly overlooked wedding costs! Happy budgeting...

Why Are Diamonds So Expensive?

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The other day I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Should Know, when a topic caught my attention. Diamonds. I love these sparkly beauties as much as the next person - in fact, since my birthday is in April, the diamond is my birthstone. Lucky girl! The podcast talked about lots of cool stuff about diamonds, beyond the 4C's and two-month-salary hype we hear about constantly in the wedding industry. If you're in the market to buy a diamond, or just want to know more about the rock sitting on your left hand, check out this episode/article!

Prior to the 1930's, diamonds were rarely given as engagement rings. The N.W. Ayer advertising agency created the De Beers "A Diamond is Forever" ad campaign in 1947, and transformed the diamond market into the giant it is today.

According to the article, "The only reason why we pay so much more for diamonds today than for other precious gems is because the diamond market is controlled almost entirely by a single diamond cartel, called De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., which is based in South Africa."

So guys, you can thank De Beers for creating the expensive rings that your girlfriends drool over!

Be sure to check out the article on HowStuffWorks.com for more cool information, including stories of the supposedly-cursed Hope diamond, shown here. (photo from SmithsonianScience.com)

Do You Need a Wedding Planner? Would You Remodel Your Home Without a General Contractor?

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Today we have a guest post, which I hope you will enjoy! Be sure to check out Christine's websites, listed at the end of the article. I don’t get it. Why would you take on a project that can cost you anywhere from $10,000 to, well, as high as you want to go without having a professional by your side?

Here is the thing, would you take on a major home remodeling project without hiring a general contractor? Of course not. I know, you are asking how are those even remotely the same. Let me ask you,

“How are they different?”

  • Both have budgets in at least the 5 figure range. That is a LOT of money.
  • In both instances you want a high degree of personalization. In short, you want YOUR dream to be executed.
  • Both will require a long list of sub-contractors that you have most likely never dealt with before.
  • Both require tight scheduling to make sure everything comes together on time and on budget.
  • Both are going to have glitches and unexpected issues pop up that someone is going to have to deal with.
  • The results of both are going to be with you for a long, long time.

Am I beginning to make some sense here?

All those things listed above are what a wedding planner does.

  • They know which vendors are reliable and match your style.
  • They help you translate your dreams to the people who are going to make them come true.
  • They know all about how your venue works in terms of timing and convenience for load in.
  • It is their job to keep that timeline on track so, for example, the flowers show up after the tables are set up, dinner is served hot and the MC know when to do the first dance.
  • It is their job to keep all those sub-contractors working together on the right plan.
  • They are there to look you right in the eye and say “Yes you can have that, but you are going to have to give up XYZ”
  • They are there to handle those last-minute glitches and issues in a way that you don’t even know they happened.

There is a wealth of information online today on how to plan a wedding, but until you actually do it, you have no idea of everything involved. Seriously, when you look at it in this light, why would you even think of not hiring a wedding planner for one of the days you are going to remember for the rest of your life.

Sure, I could watch HGTV, DIY Network, House Crashers and This Old House until my eyes bleed but one episode of Holmes on Homes or DIY Disaster will cure my ass of thinking I can remodel my kitchen on my own!

By: Christine Boulton Wedding Dish | Think Like A Bride

Thanks, Christine, for the informative (and oh-so-true) insight!

Why Do We Toss The Bouquet?

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Two of the most exciting events of a wedding reception are the tossing of the bride’s bouquet and her garter. Tradition says that the single girl and guy that catch the bride’s objects will be next in line to be married; but have you ever wondered why this is? What is it about these two items that possess magical marriage powers?

The tradition of tossing the bouquet and garter dates back to the fourteenth century. Any piece of the bride’s attire was considered lucky, so guests were excited to claim their own bit of marriage luck. Some of the single guests would become so eager to have the bouquet that they would rush to the bride and enthusiastically try to grab it from her. To prevent the bride from being attacked by her guests, brides started tossing their bouquet to the crowd.

The tossing of the garter also evolved from trying to protect the bride. Way back when, when the reception was over, guests would accompany the newlyweds to their bedchamber. It was custom that the groom’s friends would try to remove the bride’s garters for good luck. Obviously this caused some discomfort. To avoid being bothered by drunken men, brides started tossing their garters in their direction instead.

 

Why Do Brides Wear White?

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The white wedding gown has been worn for centuries. Egyptian brides wore layers of pleated white linen. In Rome and Greece white was worn because it was the color of celebration. But white wasn’t always an easy fabric to find. It was a difficult color to achieve before bleaching techniques and was very hard to maintain. Wealthy brides then wore white to exhibit their prosperity. So for many generations brides would just wear their best dresses.

On February 10th, 1840, Queen Victoria took weddings took the next level. Victoria’s train was so long it took twelve train-bearers to get her down the aisle, and her cake was said to be three yards around. She made the white wedding gown the dress to emulate, not because she was the first to wear one, but because hers was the first royal wedding to take place after the invention of photography. Brides all across England finally had a wedding dress to imitate after.

The Queen wasn’t necessarily known for her beauty, but was stunning on her wedding day. Her presence convinced the world that every bride can be breath-taking on her day.

History of Bridal Showers

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Bridal showers are gift-giving parties held for the bride-to-be in anticipation for her big day.

The custom of bridal showers dates back to the 1500’s-1600’s era in Holland. According to popular belief a young Dutch girl from a prominent family fell in love with a good hearted but penniless mill operator. The two decided to marry despite the fact that the girl’s father refused to give her dowry (money, goods, or estate that a women brings forth to the marriage). The community decided to come together and help the couple in need by “showering” them with gifts.

Over the years bridal showers have become a popular tradition that can range from a simple gathering to an elaborate party.

Wedding Guest Etiquette, As Seen on WJXT's The Morning Show

I had the pleasure of speaking with Nikki Kimbleton on WJXT's The Morning Show again today - this time, the topic was Wedding Guest Etiquette.  Here are some of the tips we discussed:

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Can you wear white to a wedding?

There is no hard and fast rule that says "no," but it is generally frowned upon. However, the bride will never notice what her guests are wearing!

Where do you sit if you are friends with both the bride and groom?

You can sit on either side. We ask our ushers to keep the seating balanced, so sit on whichever side has the fewer guests.

Should you bring a gift to the wedding? Gifts are never required. However, if you choose to give one, it's best to send it ahead of time to the bride or groom, or up to one year after the wedding!

Do you have to stick with the registry? I'm saying, YES! This is one of the biggest pet peeves we hear from brides and grooms. They spend many hours setting up their registry and choosing items for their homes - stick with their wish list.

Is cash better? What is an appropriate amount? Emily Post says, "Let your affection for the bride and groom be your guide." In general, think about the amount you would spend on a gift, and give the same as a cash gift.

What if you are invited but your significant other is not? You should never, under any circumstances, bring an additional (uninvited) guest to a wedding. However, you may want to gently ask the bride or groom to be sure there was not an error.

What is the #1 mistake guests make? Arriving late!  Plan to be in your seat for the ceremony 15 minutes before the time listed on the invitation. If you do arrive late, wait outside the church until the processional has finished, and then slip in a side door or the balcony.

Check out the interview here! http://www.news4jax.com/video/28810496/index.html

Five Popular Wedding Myths

#1 Rain, Rain Don’t Go Away:

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Rain on your wedding day traditionally means good luck for the couple, representing a fertile crop or future children.

#2 Wearing Pearls:

Traditionally brides who choose to wear pearls the day of their wedding will have a happy, tear free marriage.

#3 Cry me a River:

It is considered good luck for brides to cry during her wedding. It is said that she will have cried all of her tears away and leave nothing left to cry about during the marriage.

#4 Dropping the Ring:

It is said that dropping the wedding ring shakes off evil spirits and therefore brings luck to the bride and groom. A less optimistic view of this myth states that whoever drops the ring will be the first person to die.

#5 Positioning of the Bride and Groom:

Traditionally the bride is suppose to sand to the left of the groom so that his sword arm is free to defend his future wife and fight any man who tries to steal her from the alter.

Peggy Post: Wedding Etiquette

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Heather and I recently attended the Association of Bridal Consultants’ annual conference in Indianapolis.  We met a lot of great people, and attended some very informative classes.  One of the highlights of the conference for me was meeting Peggy Post. That’s right, Peggy Post, the great-granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post – etiquette guru!

I attended two of Peggy’s sessions at the conference, and learned some really interesting things about etiquette and how it changes between cultures and over time.

One thing that really stuck out to me was that the giving of a thank you gift can differ between cultures.  The type of gift, when to give it, when to open it, and the appropriate way to reciprocate the gift can all vary depending on the culture.  For instance, be cautious if giving flowers as a gift.  Different colors or types of flowers have various meanings depending on the culture;  some even symbolizing death.  What I found even more interesting (and not surprising) is that chocolates are the universal thank you.

My favorite part of Peggy’s presentation, (besides her calling wedding coordinators saints) was her showing how the principles of etiquette have changed over time.

In 1922: A bride-to-be could not accept apparel, a house, or a car from her fiancé. A wedding in the evening would never take place in New York. A sit-down breakfast reception was the norm. Southern weddings took place in the evenings (because the weather was typically cooler).

In 1980: Female guests should never wear white or black to a wedding. A woman who is re-marrying should never wear white. A bridal gift registry could only consist of crystal, silver, china, and linen – that’s all! The bridal party could only consist of men standing with the groom and women standing with the bride.

Now in 2009, we have honor attendants or even pets as participants in the bridal party.  It is acceptable for female guests to wear black; sometimes even the bridesmaids' dresses are black.  And bridal registries often consist of just about any household item, even camping gear and flat screen TVs.  Not to mention the option of having a honeymoon registry, or requests for charity donations in lieu of gifts.

I also found it interesting that the one rule of etiquette that has not changed in over 80 years is the sending of a hand written thank you note after receiving a gift.

How do you think the rules of etiquette will change over the next 20 years?  Will evites be acceptable as wedding invitations?  Will social or eco-responsibility be more of a rule instead of an option?

Something Borrowed, Something Hot Pink

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Have you always been the kind of girl that has dreamed about a traditional wedding? Maybe you've never pictured anything but a modern theme on your wedding day. At either end of the spectrum, it's yours, and you make it what you want. You should never, at any moment, worry about what your guests think. Your wedding should be about you and your future spouse and who the two of you join together to be. Let's take a look at one of the most common wedding phrases...

"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."

Primarily, "something old" represents tradition. This is often a signification of your mom, grandmother, aunt, sister, etc. "Something old" stands for tradition and memories of the past, and traditions that you are continuing to carry on that will possibly be included in your granddaughter's wedding.

"Something new" is typically the style of the bride. It is what she wants to include in her wedding day that defines more of who she is and her sense of fashion.

A bride can sometimes receive a gift or item from a happily married friend or family member, alas "something borrowed." This may signify good fortune from one bride to another.

As far as "something blue" goes, the color and weddings have gone hand in hand for centuries. Brides in ancient Rome wore blue to symbolize many noble traits, while purity has been associated with the color because of Christianity's dressing the Virgin Mary in the color.

Whatever the theme, whatever the colors, whatever the traditions or lack thereof, your wedding is yours. Maybe your something blue should be something hot pink!

(pink flower photo courtesy of Tibby Dozier Steedly)

Straight To The Heart

Wedding rings hold much symbolism. Not only do wedding rings represent commitment, honor and love, but also the never ending circle is a symbol of peace and perfection. The hand that the wedding ring is placed on also has a significant meaning.

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Dating back to ancient times, the third finger on the left hand was believed to be connected to a special vein, the vein of “love” that went directly to the heart. There is no scientific evidence thus far proving this theory, but this novel idea has lasted through centuries.

King Edward VI of England made a Law during his reign, that the third finger on the left hand would be the designated wedding ring finger. In 1549 this law was sealed when it became printed in the Book of Common Prayer. Even after King Edwards law many European brides still wear their wedding rings on their right hands. Tradition and customs all over the world will differ on which will be the proper placement of the wedding ring.

In the end it is not law or theories but personal beliefs that make the placement of the wedding ring significant and meaningful.