Helpful Tips

Wedding Insurance – Protect Your Investment!

wpp_logo.gifDid you know you can insure your wedding?  Of course, we hope nothing would go wrong on your wedding day, but Hurricane Irene churning in the Atlantic has us all thinking about backup plans! There are several companies that provide wedding insurance, but here is some information from Wedding Protector Plan.

Some of the things that can be covered by wedding insurance include:
  • No Dress. You can get repair or replacement cost if the bride’s wedding gown or groom’s tuxedo is lost or damaged.
  • Lost Rings. You can receive repair or replacement cost if the bride or groom’s wedding bands are lost or damaged.
  • Severe Weather.  If severe weather (such as a hurricane) forces you to postpone your wedding, we can provide reimbursement for non-recoverable expenses.
  • Call to Duty.  If the bride or groom is unexpectedly called up to active duty, or has her or his military service leave revoked, forcing you to postpone the event, we can provide reimbursement for non-recoverable expenses.
  • Damaged Gifts.  You can get repair or replacement cost if your wedding gifts are damaged.
  • Sudden Illness.  If the wedding needs to be postponed because sudden illness prevents the bride, groom or their parents from attending, you can receive reimbursement for non-recoverable expenses.
  • Venue Requires Insurance.  As an additional option to your policy, you can add liability coverage to protect yourself in case a guest is injured or causes damage to property.
  • Liquor Liability. As an individual liability option to your policy, you can add this coverage to protect yourself against liability arising from alcohol-related occurrences (subject to policy conditions and exclusions).

Rates start at $165 for this company, and other companies offer similar prices.

If you would like to see a brochure, click the link below: 
And for rates, click here:

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:

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!

What To Put In Welcome Bags

Lately, we have been getting a lot of questions from brides about what to put in their welcome bags. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, these are little bags or baskets of goodies delivered to the hotel room of your out-of-town guests. They can be as elaborate or as simple as your budget will allow!

The container itself can be inspired by your wedding location, theme, or personalities – we’ve seen everything from cute beach pails to formal baskets to reusable shopping bags.  If you opt for the gift bag route, you can have them printed with your names and wedding date, or attach a cute tag to the handle.  The bag pictured here  is from

So what goes inside?  The most common items are:

  • Bottled water.  An absolute must!
  • Snacks.  Something salty, something sweet, and perhaps something with a local flair. (More on this below.)
  • Information about the area.  Contact the local visitors’ bureau or chamber of commerce, and they will be more than happy to send you brochures and maybe even coupons!
  • Information about the wedding.  If you have an action-packed weekend planned, include an itinerary and maps/directions if transportation isn’t being provided.
  • Contact information.  Assign a local friend to act as your concierge for the weekend to help with last minute questions from your guests.

From the basics, you can upgrade to include bottles of wine, personalized toiletry items like lotion or bubble bath, even slippers!  If you are planning a beach wedding, perhaps a pair of flip flops and bottle of sunscreen.  For a garden wedding, a lovely hat. Just remember that your guests will have to pack these items for their trip home, or leave them behind.

When our brides ask us for “regional” favorites, we suggest:

  • Peterbrooke chocolates
  • Florida oranges
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Datil pepper sauce
  • San Sebastian wines

What are some of your favorite welcome bag items?

Wedding Tips, As Seen on WJXT’s The Morning Show

This morning, I got hang out at Channel 4’s The Morning Show and share some tips for planning your wedding.  Here is a recap of the tips I discussed, plus a few more we didn’t have time for!
Budget-Saving Tips:
  • Plan ahead – don’t rush your decisions, and spend time comparison shopping. This will also save on rush charges.
  • Remember to factor in all aspects of a purchase; for example, your wedding gown may cost $1000 but you also need alterations, shoes, a veil, jewelry, and undergarments. These extras can almost double the price!
  • Check websites like Craigslist or Ebay for decorations, centerpieces and accessories.  Brides often sell their decorations after a wedding.
  • Consider investing in wedding insurance to protect your deposits and purchases.
Watch out for:
  • Additional venue fees, like room rental, bartenders fees, and overtime charges. Sometimes these are included in the menu price, sometimes they are not.
  • Large companies that can’t guarantee you will be working with on your wedding day – especially DJs, photographers, videographers.  Be sure you can meet with the person you will actually work with to be sure their style matches yours.
  • Unlicensed or uninsured vendors.
Some general tips:
  • Check the Better Business Bureau, online customer reviews, and actual client references before hiring anyone
  • Know your budget before you book anything, and prioritize your wish list.
  • If you are ordering a product online, order a sample first (invitations, programs, favors).
  • Ask about return/refund/cancellation policies; these should be clearly stated on the contract or receipt.
  • Use a credit card to add a layer of protection to your deposits.

Food and Beverage Pricing

Abby + Ryan, Kris Graham Photography

Before starting First Coast Weddings and Events in 2002, I worked at hotels and country clubs in the catering department. So I know a thing or two about customizing menus and getting the most bang for your food-and-beverage buck.

One of the hardest things for brides and grooms is menu pricing. It’s hard for our staff too, even though most of us have worked in hotels.  So, here are some things to think about when choosing a venue. For the purposes of this post, we’ll look at venues that have in-house catering.

1. What is included? Or a better question, what is NOT included?

  • Tax and service charge: Most venues add 18-22% to your food and beverage total, which should be split among the wait staff, bartenders, and other venue personnel.  In Florida, a “service charge” is taxable, so be sure to figure that into your calculations! Take your total, add the service charge, take that total, then calculate the tax to get a total amount.
  • Additional fees:  Chef fees, bartender fees, and setup fees can add up quickly. Be sure to ask if there are any of these fees in addition to the menu price, and if they are taxable.
  • Rentals:  Are standard tablecloths included? Are they floor length? Is the dance floor included? Be sure to get it in writing if they are.
  • If a menu has the word “inclusive” after the price, it means that the tax and service charge are already included.

2. Comparing apples to apples

  • Some venues offer package pricing, some offer ala carte.  It’s hard to compare prices when one includes a 4-hour premium bar and one doesn’t.
  • I suggest making a spreadsheet with all possible charges – food, bar, rentals, fees, tax, service charge – to come up with a total amount for each venue. If you have any questions about what a venue charges, be sure to asking the catering manager!
  • Be sure to consider the food and beverage minimum when comparing too.  This is the total amount you will need to spend on food and drinks before tax and service charge.  This minimum typically does not include other fees, rentals, etc.

3. Time to customize

  • You can ask for a specific price or a specific item, but not both. For example, you have your heart set on prime rib, but it’s not on the venue’s menu.  Ask! Most chefs are happy to put together a custom menu for you.
  • Likewise, if your budget for hors d’ouevres, sit-down dinner, and 4-hour bar is $100 inclusive (meaning with tax and service charge), you might ask your catering manager to customize a menu for you.  You might not be able to serve prime rib, but the chef may come up with an interesting option that will fit your price point.
  • Be sure to negotiate these things before signing a contract, not 6 weeks before your wedding!  And remember, you might be able to get a better deal on an off day or a non-peak month, depending on the venue.

Hopefully these insights will help you when choosing your reception location. Also remember that we offer hourly consultations if you need help figuring it all out! 🙂