Save On Your Centerpiece and Eat It Too!

You want beautiful centerpieces for your tables. You want a yummy cake for dessert. You need to save as much as possible to make this whole wedding thingy happen. What is a girl to do?

How about centerpiece cakes?wedding-cake-centerpieces{source}

Back in my previous life as a cake designer I would do some very elaborate centerpiece cakes that cost mucho dinero but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you do a standard size cake from a good bakery and either add simple decorating or fresh flowers or fruit you can save a bundle.Centerpice Wedding Cake{source}

Think about it, a nice little 8′ or 9″ cake will generously(compared to standard wedding size servings) serve the 6 t0 10 guests at each table. Depending on what you choose and where you buy them, you will pay from $10 to $30 each, add $5 to $10 worth of flowers or fruit. So, on the high side you are looking at $40 per table.

Let’s look at an average wedding of 120 people. Six people at a table=20 tables.

Floral centerpieces with traditional wedding cake:

20 centerpieces @ $65 each=$1300

Wedding cake for 120 @$4.50 per person=$540

Total spend=$1840

Centerpiece cakes with DIY decorating:

20 tables @$40 each=$800

Let’s see, that looks like a savings of $1040.

Maybe you use a hundred of that for a bigger cake for the head table and you are still saving a bundle.

You can do this.Centerpiec cake with gerber daisies{source}


Look around for your cakes at traditional bakeries and upscale grocery stores or even Costco.

Use flowers or fruits that are in season. If you use fresh flowers put a doily on top of your cake to protect it from contaminants in the flowers.

Put it on a cake stand. Treat it with honor and make it LOOK like a centerpiece.

The Wedding List for Facebook

I’ve found a great new planning tool for Facebook called The Wedding List. The Wedding List for Facebook

Its an easy to use app that allows you to send pre-formatted requests to your Facebook friends asking for recommendations for your wedding vendor. Who knows you better than your besties?The Wedding List for Facebook

One of the cool things about this app is how well organized it is. All your responses are in one location, organized by category.I mean come on, when you are planning something as involved and important as a wedding organization is the key.

So are all the flower recommendations are together and the same for caterer and venue, etc. Give it a try here.

The Wedding List for Facebook

Oh, and if you are a wedding professional reading this, be on the look out for the logo in your newsfeed and take the moment to help these brides out.


What Brides Should Know: Wedding Planners

In this installment of What Brides Should Know we look at what the wedding planners had to say. There seems to be a lot of confusion on just what a wedding planner does versus a Day of Coordinator.  Also, planners want you to know just how much is involved on there end to plan and coordinate your wedding.

Having walked in their shoes, I have the utmost respect for good wedding planners and what they do. A good planner is the lubricant that makes all the parts of such a complex event glide smoothly. A good planner will save you more than they will ever cost you. By that I don’t necessarily mean that your bottom line will be less, more that the value you get for the dollars spent will be so much more than you can do on your own.

Even the smallest wedding is a highly complex dance of timing, goods and services and style. All culminating in a day that you, as the bride, groom or mother of the bride want/ need to be able to relax and focus on the meaning of the day; not wrangle vendors, details and guests. For even the smallest budget bride, there is a planner or day of coordinator to make this happen.

Without further ado, here is what the planners had to say in their own words.

I think a lot of brides out there don’t fully understand the full scope of what it is a planner/coordinator does. Many see it as a frivolous expense, or something that’s only for the rich and famous. Not so! Also, “planning” and “coordinating” are two completely separate things, which I think some brides aren’t aware of.

PLANNING ~ Your wedding is probably the biggest event you’ll ever plan in your entire life. Contracts, comparing vendors, packages, pricing, meetings, traditions, etiquette,timelines and everything else you need to think about when planning a wedding can be seriously overwhelming and take all the fun out of planning your happy day. A professional planner will handle your planning headaches, leaving you to enjoy the process.

COORDINATING ~ A professional coordinator is DIFFERENT than a professional planner. A coordinator, in my opinion, is even MORE important than a planner. Some brides that I’ve advertised to respond saying “I’m really creative and good at organizing, so I’m handling it myself.” Good for you! But who are you going to delegate tasks to on the wedding day? Mom? Bridesmaids? Girlfriends? You want your loved ones WITH you on wedding day, not off doing the time consuming setup details and directing the vendors. The best way to ensure that everyone is free to enjoy the day is to hire a coordinator.

Amy Kemp Nixon

I would love for brides to spend one day in our shoes. We have been very blessed with brides that appreciate what we actually do for them and the amount of work we spend on our client’s behalf. However, there is always that handful that think we just get on the phone and make a couple of appointments and that’s it! A good designer/planner/coordinator will do everything on your behalf except walk down the aisle and sign the marriage license. That is what you pay for. Appointments, hours of design and changes, talking to and booking vendors on your behalf, producing a good timeline and coordinating between each vendor according to that timeline, ensuring payments are made on time, ensuring all contracts are correct, ensuring the rsvp list is updated, ensuring incidentals are all taken care of, ensuring the musicians are all on the same page, ensuring guest list is in place, etc. The list goes on.

On-the-Day Direction? Same thing happens and there is no such thing as JUST on-the-day direction. You need to meet with brides ahead of time and go over itineraries, vendor responsibilities and carry out instructions on behalf of the client. This does not happen as a show up on the day and direct. Its a misconception and brides need to know this!

Brides need to interview wedding planners and get in writing exactly what they do. Full service means unlimited service. On the Day means on the day orchestrating, with some help prior to ensure everything flows smoothly.
Elyn Rahman

This from Denise, I just love…
I was talking to someone today who pooh poohed the idea of hiring a wedding co-ordinator when she married as she said that part of the ‘enjoyment’ was the planning side of things, then I asked her about her wedding day she said she hated every minute because there was a delay in the kitchen, she spilt wine on her dress and the disco played music that they didnt like. It was soooo stressful – and I explained that is why brides need co-ordinators to deal with all that and chat to the other vendors so that they know exactly what they are supposed to be doing and when.

Denise Meredith

Real bride Jessica had this to say
As a recently married bride, the one thing that I’ve had the most difficulty with in regards to vendors has been the fall-out when something goes wrong. When I sign a contract and pay a fee for your service, I feel that whatever I paid for and what is included in the contract should be included in my wedding. Jessica

To which Layla replied
To the real bride, Jessica: I also handle complaints afterwards for my brides. Vendors respond quickly to me. I am bringing them business all the time. They do NOT want a coordinator to know that they did not quickly resolve a complaint, b/c I will tell any other brides that ask me about them, that they don’t deal well with problems after the fact.
Layla D. Smith

If you are a bride, you owe it to yourself to at least explore the possibility of having a planning or coordinator by your side. It is the single best way to be sure that you are free to enjoy one of the most special days of your life .

Why Can’t I Get Lobster for the Price of Cheeseburgers?

I mean they take up the same amount of space on the plate??

That is just about as ridiculous of a statement as the one I heard today from a wedding planner. She was talking to a good friend of the Dish about how expensive her bride’s bouquet was going to be.
Yes, this bouquet was a bit pricier than most, BUT, that had to do entirely with the flowers the bride insisted on using.Purple Lady Slipper Orchid
Two of the most expensive flowers you can use are Lady Slipper Orchids and mini Calla Lilies. The bride wanted both, with the callas in two different colors. Two different colors means two entire bunches no matter how few you are actually using in the bouquet. ~sigh~

As wedding professionals, we are running a business. Our intention above and beyond making our clients outrageously happy  and their day all they have dreamed of is to make a profit while doing so. That is why we are in business. If we don’t do that, we won’t have the opportunity to make clients happy for long.
As a bride, there is nothing, and I do mean nothing; no product or service, that you cannot have. With one little caveat: you have to pay for it.

Do you want your florist to store, transport and arrange the hundreds of votive candles you bought online instead of from them? No problem, Purple Mini Calla Liliesas long as you compensate them for their time.

Do you want the calligrapher you hired to address the invitations you bought online to also fold them and stuff the envelopes? Same thing, expect to compensate them.

Do you want your caterer to cork and pour the cases of Two Buck Chuck you picked up at Trader Joes? Same thing.

Have to have coral peonies for your arrangements? Great but they won’t be in season for 3 weeks. How does $6 a stem grab you?

My point is two fold. First and foremost, work with your wedding vendors to find compromises that work with both your budget and desired outcome. For instance, with today’s bride’s bouquet she switched to a different orchid, one color of callas and replaced the other with cream roses. Your professionals know how to make things happen.

The second point is that if you are not willing to compromise, be willing to pay for the privilege.

What Brides Should Know: Photography

I started a rather interesting thread on the Wedding Dish group page on Facebook last week. I asked wedding professionals what they thought brides should know about what they do. Well…they sure did let me know. So in the interest of all my brides getting the best wedding ever I want to share with you the things you don’t know in the hopes we will all better understand each other.

First up in this series are the photographers. It seems that the top issue they keep running into over and over is time. Time to capture your beautiful day, time to process and edit your images, time to design a fabulous album for you. Today’s professional photographers do more than just capture a moment in time. They create art.

As wedding photographers, something that is always on their mind is that unlike other types of photography, there are no do-overs. This is one day, one time that their work must be perfect. As professionals, they know that. That is why they want the time needed on your wedding day to make doubly sure it is a perfect as they can make it. This unique understanding of what you have entrusted them with is but one of the many reason why you owe it to your memories to hire the best professional photographer you can.

Here are just a few of the comments from the thread. You can read all of it be joining the group; Wedding Dish on Facebook.

As a photographer, I wish that the bride understood that photography is not simply ‘click/download/print’. Capturing images and portraits is a creative process, and it takes time. Also, after a wedding is over, at least 40hrs of post processing is required until final delivery. So, a bride should understand that amazing images can be taken when they allot the time for them. The 2nd thing I want brides to understand is that when they wonder why we charge what we do, it is because on a wdg day, we serve as a portrait/fashion/architectural/food/floral/product photog, as well as a photojournalist, and, on top of it, because it’s a wedding, we don’t have the luxury of a repeat (unlike a fashion photog or other), as well as post process/album design, corrections for enlargements etc. Time is money 🙂
–Aali Qureshi

I wish brides could see exactly what goes into their photos.
I also wish that they would allow time for their photos, for groups and for themselves alone away from everyone else. If they do not understand they need time away from everyone for their photos they will not get the photos that they see when they look at photographers work.
I wish they could see the whole process they will then see we don’t just point click take to the supermarket and print. I spend a lot of time processing the photos, and even longer on album layouts, and understand they they will not have their pictures the next day!.
I want brides to understand, that if they turn up over an hour late for the wedding and we loose over 2 hours time for photographs and she would rather spend all her time talking to her friends rather than having the photos done, she is not going to get as many pictures as she wants. And if she asks me to so her photos at 10pm as I am packing up and leaving I will not be a happy person. (speaking from experience!)

¬¬–Theresa  Mount

Me it is simple, as a bride, better customer service and communication. I am having a hard time getting calls back and questions answered!
As a professional photographer, pretty much ditto what was said above. I would like brides to realize that wedding photography, now, is not just one day of work on the day of the wedding. It is at least two weeks worth of full time hours!
When I shot film, it was one day of shooting and then about two hours of work after that. Shoot, drop of film, fill an album. Order came in it was mark negatives, drop off film, fill an album. Nothing more because the lab did all the colour correcting and brides didn’t want to be thinned down, pimples and wrinkles removed, exit sign taken out, change my brothers face, open my husbands eyes etc…

–Jolene Mills

This is also something you may want to think about when you are deciding on whether you need to hire a coordinator.

As a photographer, I want to be able to focus on taking pictures. Therefore it’s nice when brides realize that getting someone to help to round up people for the group photos is going to mean I can take more photos, instead of trying to find Auntie Clara, who I wouldn’t even recognize if I saw her! My request for help isn’t because I think that herding people is beneath me; it’s because it’s not the best use of my time.
Steve Roberts

Next up is what the wedding planners had to say. I think you will find that interesting.

Your Wedding Vendors Are a Valuable Planning Tool

It’s always fun to sit down with other industry insiders; I just never know what insights I will gather for you.

All the parts and pieces to make an event Monday I had lunch with Kristin and Mark from Classic Party Rental and Vicki from Branching Out Event Designs. The conversation turned to brides, naturally. It occurred to us that if brides knew the depth of knowledge that most wedding professionals had they would really begin to recognize what a valuable resource they are.

More than anything, a true professional knows darn near everything there is to know about your local market. They have worked all the venues multiple times, they have worked with the other members of you team and more importantly, they know what works and what doesn’t. They also know all the secrets that you would take years to uncover. All you have to do is ask.

Let me give you a little for instance. While touring the 70,000 sq foot warehouse at Classic Party Rental we came across a stack of long narrow bench cushions. Nice, but hardly earth shattering until Mark told us how they used them. Nashville is graced with a full scale replica of the Parthenon. These pads were created to fit the ledge that lines the interior and also the massive steps that line the outside. These pads give you the ability to turn the whole building into a massive cocktail lounge, inside and out. As many times as I have worked at and attended events at the Parthenon I never even considered this possibility. Of course, I had never asked. Not any bride I can think of would have thought to either.

Most likely a bride would walk in with all the pictures she had pulled off the internet and said something along the lines of “I want this.” If instead, she had contacted them early in the process and said “I am having my reception at the Parthenon, do you have any interesting ideas” they would have been happy to supply her with many.

Vicki echoed the same sentiment; so often brides come to her with an attitude of micro-management rather than one of seeking her expertise. When they find out that the flowers they must have are out of season or out of budget they are at a loss. If they would have just asked in the first place Vicki could have given then a list of alternatives that would have fit their design concept but been in budget and in season.

Moral of the story is don’t try to do all this on your own in front of the computer and a handful of magazines. You are paying professional not only for the goods and services they provide, but more importantly for their knowledge. You might as well use it.

Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification

Funny Photos

As I travel around the internet I run across photos that, gosh I don’t know, I guess are just wrong. You have to wonder what these people were thinking.

First up, Bad Bouquet.bad bouquet
Sadly this came from a Martha Stewart post. I’m sorry but just ripping a bit of shrubbery out of the garden is not a suitable substitute for a bouquet.

Giant Bride.IMG_0383
I ran across this one while setting up a site for a bridal salon. This was actually on the gown manufacturer’s website. Take a good look. How tall is this bride? 14’ or 15’ tall? Or is it just a miniature landscape.

bride torso  from Cake WrecksBad Cake
This was sent to me by a fellow cake designer. Click through the photo to read the comments they really are the best part. Just be sure to put your coffee down first or you risk spitting all over your monitor from laughing so hard.

So Why Did You Hire A Wedding Professional?

A giant shout out to Saundra over at {planning …forever events blog} for her post today, Don’t Box In Your Wedding DJ. Here is the line that really got me thinking, “You’re hiring a professional, let them do their job.”  Dang right, girl!

It too often happens that brides, in their quest to create the wedding they have been dreaming about forget that the professionals that they hired may have just a touch more experience at this stuff than they do. OK, more than a touch.

I am not saying that you should let the people you have hired run rough shod over your dreams, I am saying listen to them and don’t try to micromanage them. You hired them for a reason. If all you wanted was a laborer, you would have gone to Craig’s List.

The smartest thing you can do is to give your ideas to your vendors and ask how best to execute it. Let them use their, talent, experience and expertise to make it work for your unique situation.  Would you like some examples?

o    If your baker tells you that you really don’t want whipped cream icing on a wedding cake for your outdoor August wedding, believe them.

o    If your alteration expert tells you that a 2 point bustle will not hold up your cathedral train, believe them.

o    If your wedding planner tells you that you had better have a rain plan, believe them.

o    If your florist tells you that there is no way candles will stay lit for your event on a windy hillside, believe them.

o    If your florist tells you your venue won’t allow rose petals on the aisle, believe them.

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. Listen and take their advice. Isn’t that why you hired a professional in the first place?

Stay tuned to Saundra’s blog; she is promising a series on this.

The above examples are all true stories.

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