Helpful Tips

You’re Engaged! Now What? Five Things To Do Right Away

Congratulations! He popped the question, and you said yes.  (Maybe the ring is a pretty sapphire stunner inspired by this year’s royal wedding!) Your head is probably swirling with a million ideas. We’ve put together a list of the top five things you should do BEFORE anything else – even before picking out a dress or looking at venues! 

  1. Let Your Families Know. Start with your parents, and set up a time for them to meet each other if they haven’t already.  Next, share the news with siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. And of course your best friends! Once you’ve made these personal announcements, you can make it “Facebook official” and let everyone else in the world know.
  2. Get Your Ring Insured. This is a step most brides and grooms don’t think about.  If you have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, talk to your agent about adding the ring to your policy. You’ll probably need an appraisal, and the original purchase receipt.
  3. Talk About Dates. Even if you don’t have “the” date picked out, you should discuss a general time of year, and whether you will be willing to have a Friday or Sunday wedding.  Talk about dates with your families, and also with your officiant or house of worship to make sure you avoid any religious holidays.
  4. Make a Guest List. You’ll need input from your families here too! Ask each set of parents to make their own guest list, and combine them with yours.  From this wish list, you can scale down if necessary.  It’s important to have a ballpark idea of how many guests will be invited before you start looking at venues, and of course for budgeting purposes.
  5. Come Up With A Budget. If your families will be contributing financially, talk to them about the amounts they are comfortable with.  Make a list of your priorities (drop-dead photography, incredible food, over-the-top florals) and then start breaking down your budget based on those priorities. You may want to use an online calculator like the one on to help you get started.
Once you have these steps taken care of, you can start looking at wedding gowns, interviewing wedding planners, and searching for the perfect location for your big day.

Newly Maid – Recycle Your Old Bridesmaid Dresses!

I got a great tip from one of our former coordinators, Lauren, about a great alternative to leaving all those old bridesmaid dresses hanging in your closet!

Check out! They accept dresses from ALL manufacturers including bridesmaids, mother of the bride, social occasion and prom dresses. The dress must be in good quality condition with no pulls, tears, stains or other blemishes. All zippers and clasps must be in good working order.

How does it work?  You request a mailer from their website, and then package your dress and send it in.  They inspect the dress, and then credit your account.  You go back to their website, and purchase an awesome new Little Black Dress, like the one shown here, for a discounted rate.

What happens to your old dress? Newly Maid will either recycle the fabric and turn it into a new garment, or they will donate the dress to a charity organization.

As you are cleaning out your closet at the end of the year, why not make some extra room and ditch the old dresses?

Wedding Gown Tips

While I was attending the Association of Bridal Consultants’ annual conference last week, one of the sessions was called “All About The Dress.”  Here are a few tips from Sally Lorensen Conant of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists I thought I would pass along:

  • Never hang your dress by the shoulders. Use the loops inside the dress that are stitched to the side seams to avoid stretching and sagging.
  • Never use a wire hanger for your wedding gown – consider a pretty hanger like the one shown below from Ten 23 Designs!
  • Most gown shops provide a breathable bag for your dress. If they don’t, purchase one. You never want to store your dress in plastic.
  • Know what fabric your dress is made from, so you (or your wedding planner) will know how to handle spills on the wedding day.
  • Even with professional steaming, you might get a few wrinkles in your dress.  If you have a portable steamer, be sure to use a towel or sock to prevent water spatters from getting on your gown.

Becoming A Wedding Planner

I hear it all the time: “I just love weddings and want to be a wedding planner. It must be so much fun!”  Usually the people saying this phrase have no idea what it truly means to “be a wedding planner.”

With the current economy, lots of people are looking for work – and some decide to start their own businesses.  Which is great, if you know what you are doing.  But anyone can print up some business cards on their home computer and call themselves a DJ, photographer, videographer, wedding planner, etc.

A lot of newbie wedding planners had fun planning their own weddings, and decide that it should be their new career.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But planning your own wedding, with your own vision and your own style, is much easier than planning someone else’s wedding with their vision and their style.  It takes a real knack to be able to listen to what a client wants and make it a reality.

It’s also much different to juggle 20+ weddings at once, not just one. Staying organized, keeping track of multiple budgets and task lists, and treating each couple as if they are your only client takes a certain skill level.

So how does someone become a wedding planner? The best suggestion  I can make it to take advantage of apprenticeships and internships. There are several great online courses to teach the basics of running a business and helping a client plan a wedding, but there is no substitute for experience.  Even after 12 years of doing weddings and 15 years in the hospitality business, I feel like I learn something at every wedding.

If you are a bride shopping for a wedding planner, take a look at their portfolio.  Is there more than one wedding shown?  Is it the planner’s own wedding?  Be sure to ask questions when you are interviewing planners about their experience level; and as a new planner, be honest with prospective clients.  We all had to start somewhere – but if you lie about your experience, it will come back to haunt you in the end.

Why You Need a Wedding Planner – From a Photographer’s Prospective

Our friend, Christy Whitehead of Christy Whitehead Photography, wrote an excellent blog post yesterday with her view on wedding planners.  I’d love for you to read the full article here, but here is a little snippet:

And now my two cents as the photographer.

The majority of weddings I shoot do not have a planner. Some have a venue coordinator, but in many cases I find that the event coordinator is gone as soon as the food is done being served. Which is when the bride usually turns to me to ask what to do next.

A wedding planner not only helps make sure you arrive on time and gets you down the aisle but helps ensure that at the reception everything is done in a timely manner. Which can mean money saved to you, because many of your vendors are likely charging you by the hour.

Let me put it this way, say you have to pay 3-4 of your vendors to stay an extra hour (happens ALL the time) that is likely to run you $1,000+ easily (And some vendors may have other weddings to go to and can’t stay!). Many day of coordinators start in that range and could have not only helped the wedding stay on time but have been on site all day to ease the tension of stained dresses, vendors arriving on time, and other emergencies that happen at EVERY wedding.

I hope you will consider hiring a wedding planner/coordinator for your wedding day. Not only can they save you a lot of stress, but sometimes the amount of money they can save you could cover the cost of hiring them. And I don’t know a wedding vendor who doesn’t prefer a wedding that has a coordinator in charge, it makes our day go by sooo much more smoothly. I also have someone to go to, should I have any questions, so that I don’t have to bug the bride who likely won’t know the answer for sure anyway.