Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dream destination wedding locations

As an experienced destination wedding planner, more and more often I have clients coming to me looking for the perfect destination to hold their wedding.  While everyone's dream is a little different; some want the beach, others want a quiet country wedding and some prefer a more exotic locale, the goal for everyone is the same; to find the perfect destination.

In my constant search for interesting locations to please my clients I came across the following article in Elle Magazine.  Elle: 10 dream wedding destinations.  I think these are some amazing destinations and I can just imagine planning a wedding in any of them   

But this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to amazing destinations for a wedding.  What I think would be really interesting is to compile a list of dream wedding destinations from readers here on the blog.  Where would you hold your dream wedding?  I would love to get all of your comments to share with my readers.

Looking forward to all of your comments and ...


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Guest Blog - Honeymoon in Africa

Over the last few months we have had the great pleasure of working with John Holley and the team at Iconic Africa to assist us with travel and lodging for guests at our upcoming bush wedding in South Africa.  We asked them to give us their take on honeymoons in Africa on our blog.  I think they provide some wonderful insight and, if you are looking to plan any type of travel in Africa, I highly recommend that you reach out to Iconic Africa.

Enjoy and ....


“Every great love starts with a great story.” Nicholas Sparks

Why not start yours in Africa? Africa is one of the world’s greatest honeymoon destinations; offering the most romantic luxury safaris, heavenly beach hideaways, fine dining splendour and a magnitude of once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

“Live in the sunshine.
Swim in the sea.
Drink the wild air.”

Taking Emerson’s simple yet sincere advice we suggest a combination of the following for an unforgettable and extraordinary honeymoon. Click here: African Luxury Honeymoon for an in depth look. The link includes our interactive map, videos and images of some of Africa’s most exquisite destinations!

Spectacular Safaris

Whether you choose The Kruger National Park, Madikwe or Botswana you and your loved one can expect a truly romantic retreat.

The magic of the African bushveld touches all that visit it, an indescribable feeling and the perfect backdrop to begin a life of wedded bliss. From relaxing in your own private plunge pool, to sipping a superb sunset cocktail while watching elephants at the waterhole, to a sumptuous, 5-star dining experience and large lavish lodges… you cannot go wrong. Sit back, relax and let the exquisite African luxury engulf and spoil you.

Iconic Africa recommends the private reserves of the Sabi Sands, Timbavati Game Reserve, Thornybush and Singita’s concessions, all set within the park. These private preservation areas are notorious for their Big 5 sightings, and the definitive luxury safari style. In true African fashion these lodges go above and beyond for honeymooners, so we have no doubt an adventure here will surpass your wildest expectations!

Beautiful Beaches

Whether you choose Mozambique or Cape Town the pristine beauty and breath-taking sunsets at these incredible destinations will have you begging to stay for longer.

Mozambique is a complete sensory overload of beauty, wilderness, culture and flavour flanked by 2400kms of silky white beaches. Dotted along the astonishing coastline, little pieces of African paradise have floated out into the azure Indian Ocean to create the last remaining wild island paradises in the world. Azura Benguerra and Azura Quilalea are the best possible places to experience the abundance, luxury and seclusion of an authentic, superlative, tropical island honeymoon.

Cape Town also offers stunning beaches and is the very destination where awe-inspiring nature, gourmet Cape cuisine, exceptional service and ultimate indulgence meet in glorious harmony on the edge of Africa. From sweeping ocean views, pristine white beaches, mountain walks, whale watching, sun tanning and spa treatments need we say more?

Wistful Winelands

For the wine-lovers and foodies out there… there is no better setting than Franschhoek, which literally blooms romance and is without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages in the world. Drive across rugged mountain passes, down lightly down age-old cobbled driveways and through century old vineyards and gently make your way into the Cape Dutch style manor houses that are typical in the culinary capital of the Western Cape.

The Cape Winelands epitomises luxury and relaxation and romance. Although the area is steeped in tradition it is also a vibrant hub for fine wining and dining. Whether you are looking to simply slow down and take in the countryside ambiance, or perhaps a cultural journey visiting galleries, historical monuments and time-honoured wine estates. Whether you want to taste some of the region's finest bubbles, sample the local treats or simply wander through the vineyards holding the hand of your loved one… the Cape Winelands has endless experiences on offer.

Captivating Cape Town

Without question one of the world’s most spectacular cities, Cape Town was recently voted the 2014, World Design Capital.  Despite being South Africa’s oldest city, Cape Town has managed to retain its traditional charm whilst developing its cosmopolitan lifestyle. This combination ensures a wealth of experiences for tourists and locals’ a-like. Cape Town is undoubtedly a destination in itself but also the honeymooner’s gateway to the African continent.

Cape Town has an allure and a heartbeat that cannot be experienced alone… it is a city for couples. Honeymooners will fall further in love not only with each other but also with the idyllic views and white sanded beaches, incredible food on offer and breathtaking views no matter where in the city you are.

Africa is the continent of safari, wilderness, and adventurous escapades but infused into all of this is an unmistakable and ancient romance. Contact Iconic Africa now to combine the perfect mix of beauty, wilderness and adventure into a honeymoon your loved one will remember forever. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tips for choosing the perfect wedding cake

One of my favorite quotes is the simple saying "You don't know what you don't know." Simple but very true, especially when it comes to wedding planning.

A big part of my job comes in educating my clients as most have not had to deal with the intricacies of planning a large event and there can be some real surprises.  I also like to use this blog as an educational tool for brides and grooms.

Certainly, one area that can be foreign to brides and grooms is ordering a bakery for the wedding cake. This is not a daily occurance so I am here to help the process.  By asking a few of these simple questions you can choose the right bakery for you.

Most brides want to know “how much”.  The cost of a cake varies based on ingredients and complexity of the design.  So when you inquire, rather than ask how much will a cake cost, ask your prospective bakery what is the price range.  Note that a large portion of the cost is in the design so the more intricate, the more you will pay.  I recommend that you have photos or a solid idea of what you want the cake to look like before contacting bakeries so they can provide accurate pricing information.

When it comes time for the tasting, not all bakeries will provide you with every single flavor to taste.  This can get costly and time consuming.  When making your tasting appointment guide them and let them know what flavors you like or don’t like.  This is also the time to let them know any allergies you might have.

Another good question to ask is who will be delivering the cake.  Will it be the baker themselves or do they have a company that they outsource?  If it’s the latter, I often recommend getting an emergency number of the bakery.  Mishaps happen and you may need to call on your baker to make some minor fixes to the cake should it get damaged in transport.  This is where your day of coordinator or wedding planner comes in.  Most likely they’ll handle the situation and you’ll be none the wiser, but if you’re planning the wedding and don’t have that luxury it’s nice to know they’ll be able to fix the cake in a jiffy.

Sometimes bakeries will put in faux layers or tiers for support.  I highly recommend asking your bakery if they will do this.  There’s nothing worse than trying to cut into the cake to find out that tier is fake!

I also recommend asking the bakery to provide a cake box for any left overs and for the top tier of your cake.  This way you can take your cake home and store it properly.

And finally, remember it’s not simply flower and eggs.  This is the livelihood of those who are making the cake.  Most likely these people have spent years perfecting their craft to be the best they can be.  There’s a reason they exist and a reason they’re good at what they do and they charge what they charge.

Go forth and eat tons of cake and until next time…


Monday, July 20, 2015

Wedding on New York Harbor

It has been a busy Summer at Shawn Rabideau Events!  As I mentioned, we opened our Charleston, SC office earlier this year and have been busy connecting with all of the wonderful vendors there.  I can't wait to start showing you photos of upcoming Charleston weddings.

For today I want to share a beautiful wedding I planned and designed at The Liberty Warehouse on New York Harbor last Summer.  It was a beautiful event with some fun details that I would like to share.

The day started with a ceremony at St. Francis Xavier Church in Manhattan.  This is such a beautiful setting for the ceremony that I really did not need to add decor elements to the ceremony.  

To add a personal touch, as guests left the ceremony they were greeted by traditional bagpipes who played in honor of the Groom's Heritage.

As I mentioned, I kept the decor elements clean and simple.  This is reflected in the Bride's bouquet that included pink and white blooms with roses, peonies and anemones.

Following the ceremony, guests were taken by Motorcoach to The Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn.  While I have to say that as you approach this venue many guests would question where they are going, but once you get there, the setting is incredible.  With great views of New York harbor and Manhattan, it offered the perfect setting for a lively reception.

For the floral bright spring colors in pink, fuschia and peach were used to add life to the decor and the room.

I combined long and round tables with high and low arrangements create movement and give a wonderful flow to the room.  I then added lots of candlelight including hanging votives to create a romantic glow.

While storms did roll through during the evening, they created some great photo opportunities with spectacular skies and an amazing sunset.

To cap off the evening, as guests were leaving they were able to pick-up their favorite comfort food from the food truck we brought it. It was the perfect end to a great New York wedding.  I would like to thank all of the great vendors who brought this event together and Michael Justin Films for the photos featured here.

I am always excited to share a great wedding experience and hope you enjoy reading about them.

Until next time....


Monday, April 13, 2015

A few more tips on budgeting for your wedding

When planning your wedding knowing where to begin can often be the hardest part of the planning process.  Often I hear brides ask “how much is that going to cost”.  While cost is one of the most important parts of the wedding I often turn the question back to them asking them to prioritize their priorities.

You see, once a bride knows what’s important to her, she can then put a value on that item.  Determining the value as it relates to your wedding can be one of the most stressful parts of planning.  So I often caution clients to break down what’s at the top of their list.  For my clients I do the homework of determining what their priorities cost.  However, for those brides that have not hired a planner I highly recommend they do their homework.

Start out by contacting the venue first and foremost.  Detail out everything you want and work to get the best possible price.  While researching venues go to the next most important item on your list and research that cost and so on and so forth.

It’s very important to gather all the costs before signing any contracts.  Don’t let any one vendor pressure you into signing with them.  Once you start signing contracts and giving deposits it’s too late to turn back.  If you have hired a planner this is where you want to bring them in.  They are the ones who can and will negotiate the best possible price for you.

By gathering all your costs you can see exactly where each item fits into your budget.  This allows you the option to switch gears and change your expectations based on how the value of your “priority” fits into your overall wedding budget.

Take for example, I’m working with a client who has a fabulous venue.  Their most important items are photography and band.  I’ve cautioned them before signing anything to let us do the homework to determine what all of the other elements will cost.  This way they can decide how all of the elements can work within their given budget and how they can allocate more money to the items they deem most critical.

Once you feel comfortable with how things work into your budget you can sign on the dotted line.  After that, all the little details will fall into place.

Until next time…


Monday, April 6, 2015


When I first developed the designs for my stationery collection I used inspiration from my family and each design serves as a reflection of these special people in my life.

As I am now traveling to Vermont to gather with family to celebrate the life of my Grandmother I thought it would be appropriate to share the design "Henriette" I created in her honor.

I always remember the beautiful, vibrant flowers that adorned Meme's garden and used that inspiration for this design.  I looked forward to traveling to Vermont to see the beauty.  It is a memory that I will cherish and am so happy I had the opportunity to honor her in a little way through this stationery.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Vendor - Absolutely Charleston

Recently I began a series of features on my blog to highlight the great vendors I have had the pleasure of working with.  I would like to continue this with an amazing transportation company in Charleston, SC, Absolutely Charleston.  

In working with Absolutely Charleston I have found their service to be impeccable and their equipment top notch.  Recently I had an opportunity to tour their facility and see how they reconstruct and maintain their trolley fleet.  I was truly impressed and can see why they are so successful.  

So, I took the opportunity to ask them questions about not only their business, but also about transportation in Charleston and general information for brides.  Below you will find some great information that is useful for any bride, not just those coming to Charleston.

SR - Tell me a little about how Absolutely Charleston came to be?

AC - In the mid-1990s, Linda Wohlfeil Jones, a native of Charleston, launched the beginnings of Absolutely Charleston as a tour company with a few vans to assist with tour transportation.  In 2000 she sold the transportation side of her company to Walt Thorn. Walt 
took those few vans and started offering transportation services.  Eventually the fleet grew by adding minicoaches, trolleys and a vintage style bus.  Absolutely Charleston quickly started filling a need for Brides in the area for unique transportation and today we are a premier transportation provider, specializing in Weddings, and have the privilege of working with the area's top planners.  The current version of Absolutely Charleston is an organization comprised of City of Charleston-licensed Guides, a full service destination management company, and full service transportation provider who operates our own fleet of vehicles to accommodate weddings, corporate clients and social groups.

SR - What would you say sets you apart from other transportation companies in Charleston?

AC - The level of service and planning that we put into our events is unsurpassed. We go way above and beyond the average transportation provider when planning an event.  We spend a lot of time organizing the schedule so that there is a plan in place that really works day of.  We also stay informed of City policies and regulations that affect transportation so there are no surprises on event day.  In addition to the logistical planning that goes into preparing for an event, we also have an amazing fleet of vehicles that we are constantly maintaining and improving and even more importantly a team of drivers who are hires with a strong customer service focus, and trained specifically to work for our high end clientele. To ensure great service we also have onsite coordinators on our team that we dispatch out to large events that manage transportation specifically, so we take that whole worry off the planner, or bride's, mind, so they can focus on the more important details of the day. Lastly, we also prepare for any possible vehicle issues by having an emergency dispatcher with a standby vehicle at the office on busy event days, so in case any emergencies arise, we are prepared to solve the problem and ensure that there is not a service failure. 

SR - What are some of the challenges you face when getting around Charleston.

AC - Transportation in the Holy City is tricky for a few reasons:
1.  There are transportation restrictions, put in place by the City,which protect the residents in the historic district, that limit where large vehicle can go, and where they can pick up and drop off.  We must use city approved loading zones and there are specific areas we can't drive through or stop in.  All of this needs to be factored in during the planning process.
2.  We have many one way streets and even some cobblestone roads, which we have to plan for when working out a transportation route.
3.  There are many roads that are too small to travel in a large vehicle, or that you can't turn on to, of off of, due to limited turn radius in a large vehicle.
4.  We are such a busy tourist destination that there is vehicle and pedestrian traffic to consider, which needs to be factored in when planning a transportation schedule.

SR - What are some of your favorite wedding locations?  How about locations for photographs?

AC - Some of my personal favorite wedding locations are Lowndes Grove Plantation and Boone Hall Plantation.  Both of these venues are beautiful and have wonderful outdoor space with gorgeous scenery.  They give you the opportunity to have a traditional Southern fête with all of the historic charm of the plantation, complete with the old oak trees and the marsh in the background, and they can be dressed up so that each event there reflects the clients individual tastes!  Photos at these locations are beautiful as well, but many Brides like to travel into the historic district to get some unique photos.  I think Washington Park is the best location Downtown for photos, as it has brickwork, rod iron gates and a cobblestone street that runs just behind it.

SR - What's the craziest and most outrageous request you have ever had?

AC - That’s a tough one…  I don’t really consider any request too outrageous to try and accommodate!  I will say that we have had requests to travel as far as Virginia with our trolleys to help with a wedding, and that we often get requests to transport pets, and have even had to pet-sit on a few occasions after the transfer.  As a team we are very customer service oriented and we will do almost anything to keep our clients happy on their big day!

SR - What changes have you seen in use of wedding transportation over the last few years?

AC - In the recent years I have found that more Couple’s are providing transportation for their Guests.  The focus used to be more on getting the Wedding Party where they needed to be, but in recent years, the Couples are really putting thought into getting their Guests moved around safely and efficiently.  This is so important in a city like Charleston where getting around, and parking can be complicated.  And of course, safely accommodating friends and family after a festive reception is a huge concern.

SR - What are a few things brides should ask when selecting a transportation company?  What a few things brides should ask that they don’t?

AC - I think when choosing a transportation provider, it is important to ask:
1.  How they prevent and plan for vehicle breakdowns?
2.  What is the driver's attire?
3.  Will the vehicle they book be taking other groups on runs during the down time on their event?
4.  Do they have a good working relationship with local planners?

The answers to these questions will give you a good idea if the transportation service is professional and reliable enough to trust on your big day!

SR - Any advice for brides and grooms during the planning process?

AC - I recommend getting transportation booked early!  If clients wait too long to secure transportation the top providers will be out of vehicles.  Transportation, while not one of the more glamorous aspects of an event, is so important to the flow of the day.  Transportation delays or mistakes, or poor scheduling, can result in ceremony delays, guest missing parts of the event, and stress for all parties involved.  Having a dependable and professional provider will make all the difference in client, planner and guest stress levels on the day of your wedding.

SR - What's the best possible advice you can give to a couple on their wedding day?

AC - Be in the moment once the day arrives.  At this point don’t stress over details, leave that to the professionals you have hired.  Really enjoy the day that you have spent so long planning; it is over in the blink of an eye!  No matter what happens, at the end of the day you will be married to the person you love!  

SR - How can brides and grooms find you? 




Thanks to Absolutely Charleston for their great insight. Until next time...


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What do Wedding Planners really do?

I can't tell you how many times people tell me how fabulous my job must be.  Of course I think it's fabulous otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.  But truth be told it's not all rainbows, butterflies and ponies.

Like any profession there's good and bad.  Take for example flight attendants...Sure it seems fabulous flying around the world getting to see things you otherwise wouldn't normally get to.  Truth be told it's a hard job with odd hours, crazy requests, and demanding ungrateful people.

The same can be said of wedding planners.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a room full of "want to be" wedding planners at a college in the south. The professor asked that I give the reality of what it's like to be a wedding planner.  You see these kids (I can say that, as I now hit 40...) were all dreamy eyed, thinking planning weddings is like opening a box of Lucky Charms, Magically Delicious.

The reality, wedding planning is a hard job filled with many misconceptions.  So what do wedding planners really do?

First, let's get one things straight, 99% of wedding planners are small businesses.  This means that in reality, even when successful, they have to work their butts off to cover their overhead which includes insurance, rent, electric, employees, phone bills, transportation, PR, IT and the list goes on and on. 

Second, for many like myself, doing what we do is the only source of income.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a spouse pick up the financial slack when times aren't plush and rosy.  So when I hear potential clients say I had no idea a wedding planner could be so expensive.  I remind them we may only take 10 weddings a year due to the hours demanded to plan each wedding.  If you take what a wedding planner charges for that one wedding and divide that by 12 months, then divide that by 4 weeks and then divide that by 30 days you begin to understand that planners charge what they do because it's their living.

Which brings me to my next point, how many hours we actually do work? So often potential clients truly don't understand the amount of work that goes into planning a wedding.  The planning process is normally anywhere from 10 to 13 months or more.  In that time a planner can easily write over a 1,000 emails that coincide with one particular wedding.  They can log about 48 hours or more of phone time and about two weeks straight full of meetings, all for one wedding.  We often work from the moment we wake usually about 5:30 / 6:00am until we go to bed by about 10:00 / 11:00pm.  And we do this on average 6 to 7 days a week depending on the season.  And let's not forget the amount of hours logged on the wedding week and day.

It's true that we play many roles wedding planner, negotiator, therapist, just to name a few.  All that comes with experience of the trials and tribulations of what we've learned over the course of many years of planning.  So when we sometimes say that a thought or proposal won't work or it isn't a good idea it's most likely because we've learned lessons the hard way or we've seen our clients learn lessons the hard way.  We are full of sound advice and don't recommend something just because we feel like it.

Courtesy of Fifth Avenue Digital
The amount of logistics that go into planning a wedding are mind numbing.  We have to think of every little detail and how that detail has consequences that could effect other details.  Take for example setting up the band near the dance floor.  A good planner knows to work with the band to make sure they don't spread out too much otherwise there might not be enough room for the Hora. A good planner will scan the room and make sure no spots are left in the dark, like the middle of the dance floor where dad is giving his tear filled speech.  A good planner will know enough to cross check the photographers contract to make sure they capture every moment and don't leave before the cake cutting.  So the reality is we create agendas, timelines and everything in between to make sure nothing is forgotten.

For each wedding we probably do as much research as one would do for their senior thesis in college. Looking into venues for your wedding can take up to as much as a weeks worth of emails and phone calls.  Then arranging the site visits can take another full day or two.  And then the negotiation of the contract can take another few days.  And this is all before looking for a photographer, band, caterer, hotel rooms for guests and much more.  And we do all this while balancing other clients expectations.

Speaking of expectations, I can't tell you how many times I hear from a family member how important this day is.  Not to be snarky, but do you really think we don't know this.  We know we have one shot to get this right. We have one shot to make a lasting impression to not only our client, but to 200 people attending the wedding. We know each and every wedding is as important as the next.

Courtesy of Lindsay Flanagan Photography
And finally, we do what we do because we love it.  We don't do it to get rich, we do it for the joy we bring each client and for the joy each client brings us.  I truly love what I do. I love the logistics and research.  I love that each client has different thoughts on how they want their wedding to be and I love that after the wedding I remain friends with them for years to come.

Courtesy of Michael Dade photography

This post merely scratches the surface of what planners do, but I think it gives you a better idea that to be a good wedding planner it requires us to have a passion for what we do.

Until next time...


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Charleston, South Carolina - Number 2 travel destination worldwide!

I always knew that opening an office in Charleston would be a great idea.  I am truly excited to have my opinion reinforced as Conde Nast magazine just rated Charleston the number one destination in the country and number 2 worldwide!  Check out the article here and make sure to plan your visit.

Congratulations Charleston!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Shawn Rabideau Stationery now at Bed Bath and Beyond

I am excited to announce that the Shawn Rabideau Stationery collection is now available in the new stationery department at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  You can see all of the great designs here:

Friday, March 6, 2015

New York Lounge wedding

With all of the cold and snow we have been experiencing this winter I thought I would send out warm thoughts and share a wonderful rooftop wedding I planned and designed this past Summer at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City.

This was a great wedding for me to plan not only because Dawn and PJ were wonderful brides, but also due to the fact that I was planning the wedding for PJ's sister at the same time!  It was wonderful to get to know the family and everyone at Susan's wedding in Virginia then to see everyone again in New York.  You can see photos from Susan's wedding here:  Lovely Virginia Wedding

Fortunately, we had great weather for the ceremony on the rooftop.  Once the ceremony was concluded guests were treated to cocktails on the roof and then a lounge style reception.  

You can see that I designed a few dining tables for family and lounge seating for the rest of the guests.  I worked with Taylor Creative to create different vignettes around the room with seating in purple and white that tied into the overall scheme.  I then used green and purple floral to create sleek, impactful centerpieces that really popped in the room.  The result was a look that the Brides loved.

It was really a great setting for Dawn and PJ to make their grand entrance down the staircase to their amazing reception.  It was a great night for a wonderful couple.

I addition to the staff at Tribeca Rooftop and Taylor Creative, I would like to give a shout out to On the Move for supplying terrific entertainment and Sion Fullana for the wonderful photography.

Sending you warm thoughts until the next great event and...


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Watch the tides

If you're looking to get married on the beach or have your reception on the beach the tide calendar is going to become your friend.  And any good wedding planner worth their weight (and price) had better look this information up before even entertaining the idea of a beach wedding on your specific date and time.

When looking at the tide calendar it is important to be very specific about your location as there are differences in the exact timing of low and high tide even within the same city.  I like using the site in the link below because you can be very specific about your location and get the information you need for planning.
The last thing you want is for you or guests to get swept away in a high tide.

Until next time…


Monday, March 2, 2015

Planning a Gay Wedding

In some respects its strange to say the phrase "gay wedding".  I catch myself saying it all the time and what I really want to say is "wedding".   Why can't we say "wedding" without giving it any further thought?  In due time across this country I predict we will soon just say "wedding".  Of course there are going to be those that object to gay weddings, but that number is getting smaller and smaller each day.  But enough of the politics…Weddings in my opinion have no place for politics.

There are a few exceptions of course like New York, Massachusetts and many other states where gay weddings aren't even given a second thought.  However, in some of the more conservative states like South Carolina I'm finding couples aren't really sure which vendors are gay friendly.  I can tell you this, most of the vendors I've talked to in Charleston, SC are so excited to have the opportunity to work with couples of any gender.  They see gay weddings as an opportunity to grow their business, and to be honest, if the money's green they'll take it.  But I think it's more than that, deep down, they see what we all see, two people in love who have the right to be recognized as married.

As a planner who has planned dozens of gay weddings I find planning gay weddings a bit more special and meaningful than those of their straight counterparts.  Personally it's because these are couples who have been together for 15, 20, 30 + years who otherwise never thought they would see the day when they could marry the person they love.  Now don't get me wrong, I love planning all weddings, gay or straight, but there's just something that tugs at my heart strings, maybe because I'm gay and I've been able to marry.

And as a wedding planner who has recently expanded his planning services to Charleston, SC, I find myself with a slight advantage to my counterparts here in Charleston because I have planned countless gay weddings.  For me, I treat gay or straight weddings all the same.  It's a moment when two people who are in love join to become one.  I treat each the same in their requests, in what's important and what's not important.  I treat each with the same devotion and regardless I know (for most) this is a onetime deal.

So I say this, if you're gay and looking to get married in the South you can certainly come to me, but also know, you have support in growing numbers from many wedding businesses that want you to hire them, because the reality is, they want you to be happy too.

Until next time…


Friday, February 27, 2015

Sunset photos - timing is everything!

Charleston, South Carolina has some killer sunsets!  If you're getting married there (or in any location with a killer sunset) timing is everything!

Any wedding photographer will tell you those are some of the most difficult shots to get, specifically because of the timing.  It's not like you stop the sun from setting.  There's no magical switch to turn it on or off.

So if you're planning your own wedding how can you be sure that you and your now spouse will be in the foreground of the perfect sunset?

Photo Courtesy of Hopkins Studio
First and foremost, communicate with everyone!  The moment you hire your venue, photographer, caterer, day of planner, band or whomever else, tell them you want the perfect sunset shot.  Communicating your plan is one of the most important things you can do.  By letting everyone know you want that shot it will allow all the vendors to come together to say okay, we need to make sure we're not serving food, doing the father daughter dance or whatever else may take place.

If you have a wedding planner, whether it be a day of or a full scale they will know when the sun is setting and put that into the day of wedding timeline. They'll be able to communicate the specific time with all the vendors and work around that 10 to 15 minute period to make sure you get the perfect shot.  If you don't have a wedding planner you can find out the sunset times in your local area here:

Photo Courtesy of Hopkins Studio
You really want to make sure you work your timeline around the sunset, once that's figured out, everything else will fall into place.

Until next time...


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wedding trends - Day of Planners

I've been planning weddings and events for over 15 years and in that time I've seen trends come and go.  However, there is one trend that I think is here to stay and that's brides requesting (in record numbers) a day of wedding planner.  For some reason full time wedding planners have received a bad rap for being too expensive.  Thus brides who want help, but also want to save money, turn to a day of planner.  I'll be talking in the coming weeks about the misconceptions regarding the expense of a full time wedding planner, but for now I want to talk about day of planning.

To be honest, I never could understand how one could properly do "day of planning".  As a planner, how could you possibly show up on the most important day of someone's life and possibly execute a flawless wedding?  It's almost impossible to get to know a bride's hot buttons a week or even two weeks before her big day.  Thus, why I never wanted to do "day of planning".

However, after many requests, I decided that if demand called I would answer and now offer "day of planning".  But, my service encompasses more than just the actual wedding day and here is why.  To properly plan a wedding I need to get to know the client and the client needs to get to know me.  First and foremost, if you want to hire me or an associate as a day of planner you'll need to hire us a minimum of two to three months out from the date of your wedding.  This allows us to get to know each other and it allows me to know every single detail of your wedding.

As your day of planner I'll sit down with the bride, groom and parents to discuss what's important, what's not important.  What's been done and what still needs to be done.  I'll want to see all the contracts for each of your vendors and the time you've contracted them for.  I'll also want to discuss all the little logistics that may not have been thought of such as first look or transportation to and from the church.  Do the times you've contracted match up with your planned timeline?  Often I find it's the little details that get missed and I have to reorganize a few things to make sure the day runs smoothly.  I'll also pull together your day of timeline and speak with each one of your vendors to make sure they are on point and are in the know with every single detail.  So by the time your wedding day rolls around the bride will want for nothing.  We'll handle everything so you don't have to.

The reality is day of planning can be a lot harder that planning a wedding from start to finish.  There's the issue with the bride having had numerous if not hundreds of discussions with the caterer or photographer that you've not been privy to.  There's the issue of the planner not really getting to know the brides personality.  And there's always the issue of her hiring vendors that simply are inexperienced (less expensive) which only makes the planners job harder.  However, if you hire a proper day of planner they'll take care of all those issues so you don't have to.

In the next couple of blogs I'll talk about the do's and don'ts to hiring a proper day of wedding planner.

Until then...