Friday, December 31, 2010

PART III: Selecting the Best Wedding Planner for You

Finding the best wedding planner is like finding that perfect black dress that doesn't need alterations. It must be the perfect fit, feel completely comfortable, and fit your exact style.

The top four characteristics are vital to when evaluating wedding planners.

1. Expertise: This can be gained through formal education combined with internships, work experience, continued training and experience. An expert will know the ins/out of the industry with confidence and knowledge to truly manage your event will a higher level of responsibility.

2. Professionalism: How do they present themselves? Do they have well designed collateral materials starting with their website, business card and presentation packets? Do they lead you through a well organized interview during the consultation? Do they present themselves in a way which reflects a high level of manners and care for what they do? Do they respond to your emails in a timely manner and/or arrive at your meetings on time? All this will be a true sign of what you can expect.

3. Personality Fit: While you may not need your wedding planner to be your best friend, you do need her/him to be someone whom you feel comfortable discussing your hopes and dreams for your wedding. You will share many hours together as the two of you plan your wedding.

4. Artistic Talent: This is absolutely necessary for your event to reflect your style in a cohesive way. Your wedding planner has to have the talent and skills to pull your ideas together. He/she will be the one who can visualize the details and make it a reality. Their level of design talent can simply be evaluated by reviewing their work from previous weddings and client references. This in many cases can be displayed through their website, blog, and Facebook.

You will not be happy if one of these four vital pieces are missing. Your wedding planner must have the expertise to handle your wedding; otherwise you will be one of his/her train wrecks. Ask for references, if he/she does not provide you with any than this most certainly is a red flag indicating that they are brand new to the industry. You are risking the possibility of being one of their guinea pigs. Ask to see examples of their previous weddings which they designed. Anyone can say they're an expert, but does their work reflect it?!

They must be professional in the way they deal with you, your family, guests, and fellow vendors. A lack in professionalism can likely cause very unbeneficial situations. Or worse, additional stress on the wedding day. One of the best ways to determine this is through their prompt communication, how detailed is their contract, what tools will they use in planning your wedding and consider their marketing materials which they provided during your consultation. Do they write a blog? This is an ideal way to gain insight into your planner's personality, level of experience, expertise and style.

Last but not least, there must be a personality connection. As a bride communicating to her wedding planner you must feel like they hear and understand your needs, style and personality. If you feel like you are being rushed or pushed then you most likely will feel this way throughout the entire planning process. This does not mean that you're wedding planner has to become your best friend, however, you should feel comfortable to openly discuss anything related to your wedding and know they "get" you.

With these three blog posts you should be able to go out and find the right planner for you to guide you through these exhilarating times. One word of caution; wedding planners offering deals, promotions, sales, etc. are frequently the same wedding planners having a hard time keeping their business afloat. What price do you put on the success and beauty of your wedding? This is not the time or the place to be bargain shopping. Find a planner who is good at what they do, has a good work ethic, and loves every bit of their job and you will be set. Remember, cost is temporary, regret is forever.

I wish you the absolute best on your search for the best wedding planner for you!

(Photo Credit: Morgan Lynn Photography, Stacey E Photography & Pink Posh)

Monday, December 13, 2010

PART II: DIY Bride to Platinum Bride; where do you stand?

A wedding planner is indispensable and will save you $big time$. Now you must decide on how much help you will need in the upcoming months. Below is a break down of many bride personas. (Photo Credit: Morgan Lynn Photography)

Bride #1: DIY Bride to the max!

  • Loves designing
  • Enjoys taking time to put together personal unique details
  • Is extremely organized
  • Does not struggle making decisions
If your personality is like Bride #1, you are an easy breezy bride in need of a small package just to ensure the day goes flawlessly; event day management (day of coordination) will most likely be the best fit for you. (Photo Credit: Pink Posh Photography)

Bride #2: Busy Busy Bride!
  • Loves designing
  • Has a high pressure job or travels a lot
  • Does not struggle in making decisions
  • Has a good idea of what she wants
Most brides today are under this category. They have full time jobs and their weddings require so much attention. Bride #2 is in need of a medium package; someone to come in midway through the planning process to relieve her once things just barely begin to become overwhelming. (Photo Credit: Morgan Lynn Photography)

Bride #3: Pamper me please!

  • Is having problems visualizing exactly what she wants
  • Has little spare time
  • Is not the most organized of sorts
  • Struggles making definitive decisions
If your personality is like Bride #3, you are in need of a large package, we can be your best friend through the process making you feel safe and in good hands. Full planning will be the best fit for you. With careful planning and long discussions a wedding planner will be able to find just the thing to make your eyes sparkle. (Photo Credit: Pink Posh Photography)

Now that you have established your needs it is time to go out and meet with some fabulous wedding planners! Part III will explain how to find the perfect planner for you.

Till next time!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

PART I: Want a Fabulous Wedding? It’s not rocket science, it’s a wedding planner!

I may as well point out the obvious; I am writing a blog post about the value of wedding planners and look-dee-doo, coincidentally, I am a wedding planner. If you would like to disregard this post as biased and uninformative feel free to return to your google home page, if not I promise to be comedic and entertaining along the way. I have written this to be an entertaining three-part series to help brides understand what wedding planners are all about, what you need to know, and how to pick one.

Do you need a wedding planner? Do I need a wedding planner? Every female in this world needs a wedding planner because as much of a super woman as I know you are, you still can’t be in two places at once. Even with wedding planners, no matter how unbeatable their expertise is, they have either hired a wedding planner for their wedding or plan to in the future. You simply cannot oversee setup and be walking down the isle at your ceremony at the same time. Therefore, the question isn’t if you need a wedding planner, instead you should be deciding how involved you need them to be.

A good wedding planner pays for themselves. An experienced one will have venders that they prefer working with because of their dependability, quality and work ethic. Because of these relationships the wedding planner will be able to negotiate much better rates than you would have otherwise. If you consider your time to be money as we do, you will save tremendous amounts of money on working with someone who knows which venders are the best and which aren’t. They will also know all the secret tricks and efficiencies to get the best job done.
There you have it; a wedding planner is a MUST and at the end of the day they are basically free. If you feel like a planner may be worth your while stay tuned for part II to discover what kind of bride you are and how much help you will need along the way!

Till next time!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The "How To" Guide on Engagement Rings

Engagement rings deserve their own “How To” book with all their fancy lingo and complexities. If you are a future bride trying to hint to your significant other or a future fiancé trying to feel his way around in the dark this blog post should provide a healthy amount of guidance.

The four C‘s of diamonds:
1. Cut
2. Color
3. Clarity
4. Carat

The cut of the diamond refers to the facets that are sculpted into the raw stone resulting in a nice polished shape. If these facets are not placed with precision the diamond will lack that incredible sparkle which diamonds are famous for and lets face it, all girls are in love with sparkle.

The cuts to know:
Now that you have decided the shape the next step would be to pick the weight. Carat refers to the total weight of the diamond. It is important to know that the weight of the carat is not directly correlated with price. The bigger the carat does not mean the bigger the price tag. Size isn't everything in the diamond world. Price is more strongly correlated with flaws within the diamond. So most of us have to decide what is more important, size or flawlessness.

Clarity measures the imperfections mentioned earlier. Diamonds are graded on clarity by an 11 step scale ranging from flawless to imperfect. Most jewelers in this world have never seen a flawless diamond so set your expectations accordingly. Don't worry too much about the flaws, since most flaws are impossible to see with the naked eye, you can consider them tiny secrets giving the diamond character unique to any other diamond in the world.

The last C is color; you must decide whether you prefer a colorless diamond or a fancy diamond. Colorless diamonds are graded from D to Z, D being completely colorless. Similar to the clarity of a diamond, the more colorless a diamond is the more rare and expensive it will be.
Fancy diamonds are rare as well. These type of diamonds are for the unconventional ladies who love to reinvent. They are naturally colored pink, yellow or blue. The more saturated the color of the diamond is the more expensive the stone. Fellas, you may want to check with your lady before going this route while these gems are gorgeous, it is either loved or hated.
Sneaky tips:
1. Need to find out her ring size? Snag an existing ring and take it to the jeweler (make sure it is a ring she actually wears).
2. Can't figure out what she likes? You can bet money that she has described to her best friends and family EXACTLY what she wants. Put your Sherlock Holmes hat on and do some investigating.

There you have it, the four C's of diamonds! Now get your pocket book ready!

Always Learning, Always Fabulous,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Planning An Engagement Party: Tips to Make it A Success

With the Christmas and New Year's Even right around the corner, many newly engaged couples will be getting engaged. A wonderful way to share the news with friends and family is to have an Engagement Party. In most cases the party is hosted by a family member or close friends.

I wanted to share with you some planning tips for the party to go off perfectly:

1. Once you're engaged, share the news with your parents. They will be just as excited and will want to welcome their new son/daughter into the family.

2. Select an ideal date and venue for the announcement

An important part of the engagement party planning is choosing the date for your engagement party, it can be simple but tricky. You may want to hold it at least eight to ten months prior to your wedding. There will be much to do before the wedding and holding it to close to the wedding will be too stressful.

There are so many choice venues for your party! It may be a simple and intimate affair at home, a special corner at your favorite restaurant or a private room at your favorite restaurant or a barbecue at the seaside. This is the opportunity for you to have fun without the stress of planning something as grand as your wedding. Keep in mind, the engagement party does not have to similar in style of design to the wedding.

3. Have an alternative or contingency plan for outdoor events

If you are planning for an outdoor engagement party, do check on the weather. Choose the outdoor barbecue or picnic area where you can gather your small party at the eleventh hour to a sheltered bar or restaurant and continue your party. Another option would be to rent a tent to cover the outdoor area. The decision to rent the tent will need to be made 5-7 days in advance due to most rental company policies.

4. Planning for the engagement party food

There are many components which go into creating your engagement party. One of the most important parts of an engagement party is the food. Take time to make a list of the items you will serve and always consider a caterer as you will not want to be in the kitchen cooking it yourself.
Another option to consider is a pot-luck. However, it will be ideal to coordinate the items your guests will be bringing. It would be less favorable to have 4 of the same dish and no meat item. You may consider including this information on the invitation.

5. Photography and videographer

Although this is not the wedding day, pictures do tell a thousand words and they do last a long time. Depending on your budget, you can choose to get your friends and relatives to take pictures and capture your special moments on video camera or get a professional to do both photography and video for both events (your engagement and wedding). This may also be fun to display the pictures or video at the wedding.

6. What to wear to an engagement party

You don't want to wear something elaborate or similar to your wedding. Consider colors, smart casuals for beach and outdoor and evening gowns for a glamour night out. It all depends on the theme of your engagement party really. Some prefer the free and easy for all, no fuss just, focus on the happy couple.

7. Asking your bridal party

What better opportunity to take a moment to recognize those who are most important to you. You could also find a fun way to ask them with a unique gift or card or give a toast to each of them.

8. The Invitation

When choosing the style and design, remember to correspond with the style of party. This is the chance to have fun and be creative without the pressure of trying to match your wedding stationary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Party: Signature Drink - Christmas Martini

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love to play Christmas tunes every chance I get. And who can say no to the many yummy cookies and seasonal treats? I feel giddy at heart like a kid again at the very sight of Christmas lights or a tree. But most of all, I love spending time with friends and family celebrating the season during the holiday parties.

If you are hosting a holiday party or getting married, a fun detail to include would be a signature drink. One of my favorites is the Christmas Martini.

1 oz Dry Gin
1 1/2 oz Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 oz Water
1 Stick Peppermint Candy

Strain gin and peppermint schnapps into martini glass. Add peppermint stick.

Happy Holiday to you and yours!

Samantha Darr

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Real Wedding Part II: Stephanie + Ben - The Reception

Ben & Stephanie had such an amazing wedding full of classic details and captivating moments. When choosing which pictures to share, I found myself struggling as each and every one was amazing. Morgan Lynn Photography is very talented in capturing the moments that matter with so much life and vividness to her pictures.

After the full Catholic mass wedding ceremony, the couple and their bridal party boarded the trolley with much festiveness to shoot more post ceremony pictures. The couple choose to return to Hotel Derek for its contemporary decor and modern settings. This also allowed them to include their precious 4-legged family member.

For couples who may have a little time lapse between the ceremony and reception, this is an ideal opportunity. During this time, a couple is most relaxed, happy and solely focused on each other. This sometimes can replace a "day after" session.

As the couple finished pictures, the guests enjoyed the cocktail hour at The Courtyard on St. James as the DJ spun jazz tunes in the background. In my experience, I find that many brides choose to have seating arrangements for their guests. Many do not think about the display to which it will be communicated to the guests. I love that Stephanie chose to make the table assignments a design focal point in the cocktail hour space. To maintain an affordable option, we utilized the alter arrangements and restyled them into one main arrangement for the table.

Stephanie and Ben share a love for wine. As a unique touch, we used wine bottles as their table numbers. To remember the evening, the guests were encouraged to write messages on the bottles with a silver pen. Ben & Stephanie will enjoy the memories for years to come each time they open one of the bottles from their wedding.

The guests were treated to a 4 course sit-down dinner at the Courtyard on St. James. One of the highlights of the meal was the champagne intermezzo. This is served prior to the main course to cleanse the palette to fully enjoy the flavors of the next course. When it came to toasts, the Best Man and Maid of Honor opted to pre-record the most entertaining excerpt to play as part of their toast. Truly one of the most entertaining I've seen thus far.

Congratulations to Ben & Stephanie! May the next 50 years be just as memorable and enjoyable as their wedding day.