Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rabidos and Rabidon'ts to wedding planning

For the most part we all shop on line.  Amazon, Fresh Direct, Bloomingdale's and even places like Target allow you the consumer to research and shop for the best deals.  It's quick, easy and for the most part you don't have to deal with a cashier who doesn't smile or say "thank you".  It all can be done from the comfort of your home (with a glass of wine), office or even your train ride home.  It offers consumers a way to shop without the hassle of dealing with other people.

But should the same hold true when planning your wedding?

Let me put it this way.  When "shopping" for a dog, would you just order one on line and then hope it works out, fits in with your family.  NO most likely you wouldn't.  Every dog has a different personality, quirky behaviors and mannerisms.  How would you really know if that dog is going to be the right fit for you or your family over the course of the next 10 to 12+ years?  Plus, owning a dog is a huge investment, both in time and money.  Most likely you would meet the dog and see if it was the right fit.  Then you would decide if owning that dog was the right choice.

So my question is this; why would shopping for a wedding planner, band, venue, caterer or DJ be any different than shopping for a dog?  Sure, there are a LOT of differences, but the point is the same.  Like shopping for a dog, your wedding is a huge investment and time commitment and, if you're like most brides, you want to be sure you've picked the right vendors to make your special day perfect.  Can you really choose your wedding vendors by shopping on line?  Can you truly know what you're getting if you don't meet with and discuss the details of your wedding in person or at the very least on a phone call?  In my opinion no...

You see wedding vendors (or at least the ones I work with) want to meet with the client.  They want to get to know the client. For them it's not just about money, but it's about making sure they are the right fit.  The vendor client relationship is a two way street.  It has to work for both parties in order for the client to be happy and the vendor to deliver.  The personalities have to click.  If they don't, it can spell disaster down the road.

So as a bride how do you shop for a wedding planner or vendors? 

It's easy, first, don't email asking “what's your price ?” or “cost of services?”  Sure some vendors have a set price or packages they offer that they can send you.  Some, like myself, customize their services to meet the specific needs of each client.  Plus, if you only ask what the price is, how is the vendor truly going to be able to sell themselves "the product" to you?  I often receive inquiries that only give the first name, the month of the wedding and the question of how much are your services.  Unfortunately for myself, and most in the wedding industry, this isn't enough for us to give you the information you truly want, which can lead to frustration and disappointment in the wedding planning process.  Help us help you...

This leads me to my second point.  The more information you can provide in your inquiry to your potential wedding planner or vendor the better.  If you want concise information to make an educated choice then I highly recommend you give information to get information.  Your inquiry should always have the following: your full name, date of the wedding, potential guest count, time of your wedding, location of your wedding and specifically what services you're looking for.  And if you're not sure what you're looking for, let us know that too.  Wedding vendors love to educate consumers, that's what makes planning weddings so fun.  We love to guide brides so they get the best experience.  Which leads me to my next point, pick up the phone and have a conversation.

Picking up the phone and having a conversation with a live person is time consuming; however, it's also part of planning a wedding.  Talking on the phone can be a great indicator for both you and the vendor if you want to take it to the next level, an in person meeting.  Conversations are great, you can tell a persons’ energy, if they are articulate and if they are knowledgeable in their field or craft.  I always request to speak via the phone before I offer any information so I can truly get a sense of what the client is thinking and if it will be a good fit.  Going a step further, in person meetings are even better and often the best way to tell if this is the person or company you want to work with.  It's also a great opportunity to discuss pricing and budget.

I often find brides become a little shell shocked when it comes to pricing and their budgets.  I'll be posting another blog soon on pricing in the wedding industry; but I can't stress enough if you don't know your budget or you aren't sure what things cost let the potential planners and vendors know that up front.  It will avoid wasting your time and theirs if they are out of your range, but I must also stress, cheaper doesn't mean better.  You often do get what you pay for.  I've had brides come to me because they hired an inexpensive planner that they've had to fire because the cheaper was just that, it was cheap, unprofessional and the person didn't know what they were doing.  Hiring good vendors does cost money, but it also give you peace of mind knowing that you are getting what you pay for.

The last thing I'll say is to manage vendor expectations.  Some vendors or planners only take a certain amount of jobs a week, month or year.  And if you've received a proposal, pricing and information that doesn't work for you, let us know.  Often times we're happy to make adjustments so that we can work with you.  But if you've moved on in a different direction, let us know that as well so that we don't potentially lose other jobs.  And the best thing a bride can do is to let us know why.  Was it personality, pricing?  Whatever you say will be fine because it only helps us become better at what we do..  The worst thing a bride can do is to not let us know anything and move on in a different direction.

All wedding professionals want to see your wedding dreams come true, helping us help you will make planning your wedding a little easier and bit more stress free.

Until next time...Cheers!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lovely Virginia Wedding

I know I promised to post more photos last month but between planning clients' weddings, and my own last weekend, time got away from me.  I do want to catch up with a lovely Virginia wedding I planned and designed over the Summer in Old Town Alexandria.  

I must say I fell in love with Alexandria.  The old town is absolutely charming and the food was spectacular.  In that regard I have to give a special shout out to Virtue Feed & Grain, the site of the rehearsal dinner.  They were spot on with the food and service for the rehearsal and definitely became a favorite of mine in Alexandria.  I will say that they will be my first dinner stop when I am back in the area.

The wedding itself was set at the Lorien Hotel and Spa, a beautiful hotel with a variety of settings that proved to be perfect for this wedding.  

We were fortunate to have a beautiful day for this outdoor wedding on the rooftop terrace of the Lorien.  Since the Bride and Groom were engaged in Tuscany, they wanted to used this setting as the theme for their wedding.  True to the Tuscan theme of the wedding the Bride carried a bouquet of roses, scabiosa, lavender and rosemary.  

Given that we were on the rooftop, guests were provided with simple paper parasols to help shield them from the sun.  I must also say that if you are looking for photos, the hotel and the area offer countless charming locations as you can see from the photos I am sharing here.

Following a simple, touching ceremony guests were escorted to the other side of the rooftop for a cocktail reception.  I used roses, lavender, rosemary and olive branches in cut glass containers to create cocktail arrangements continuing the theme.  As you will see in later photos, I used linens that matched the invitations, menus and escort cards.  The design is the Schylar pattern from my stationery collection.

The views over old town Alexandria were stunning.  It was perfect for this reception.

Following cocktails guests were welcomed to the lower level ballroom which continued the elegant Tuscan theme.  As guests arrived to the ballroom they first saw the escort card table.  As you can see, the escort cards themselves had the same pattern as the cocktail linens so as to carry the look through the entire wedding.

As the centerpiece for the table I created a beautiful arrangement using the same combination of roses, scabiosa, rosemary and lavender but added hydrangea to create a lush centerpiece and accented it with lemons keeping with the theme.  I then added silver mercury glass pillar candle holders and votives to add a romantic glow.  

Once guests entered the room I continued the look using the same flower combinations on the dinner tables.  Each in a rustic stone urn, and accented by a table number that again utilized the design from all of the collateral materials, I created a truly romantic look in the room.

And I love it when everything coordinates as you can see with the menus that again, carry through the theme.

Once dinner was complete it was time to move on to the next room for dancing and dessert. 

The dance floor was perfectly located next to a wonderful terrace so guests could have a blast dancing to DJ Ben and then relax in the courtyard where I added a variety of lanterns and candles to give a romantic glow.  It was a perfect end to a wonderful evening.

I would like to give a special shout out to East Coast Entertainment and DJ Ben Felton for providing great music and dancing, Somerset cakes for a beautiful cake and sweet treats, and Stevie T Photography for all of the great images I have shared here on the blog.

Finally, a special congratulations to a wonderful couple, Susan and Jack.  Here's to a lifetime of happiness!