Outdoor Weddings

It’s summertime and the air is filled with the sweet scent of flowers and love. Weddings al fresco are all the rage. What could be more beautiful than taking your vows in a flower filled garden; the sun gently settling behind the mountains in the distance bathing the world in reds, pinks and oranges? Not much, until you factor in the heat, humidity and bugs.

Every year there are brides that fall into the trap of thinking only of the beauty of the location and forget the reality of outdoor weddings. If you are planning an outdoor wedding without the help of a wedding planner, let me offer some lifesaving tips. And I mean things beside the obvious one about an alternate plan for rain. You already have that don’t you?

Today I want to talk about comfort, yours, your families, your guests and your vendors.

First, the happy couple.

Brides please consider how many layers of fabric you will be under. Each layer of fabric in your skirt or lingerie adds heat. Think less not more. Shoes must be accounted for too. Those stilettos you found that are oh so sexy are going to sink right into that lovely lawn, save them for the honeymoon. If you are wearing your hair down for your ceremony, consider a way to get it off you neck later. The last outdoor wedding I worked, the bride finally resorted to a plain rubber band ponytail by mid reception. Trust me, it did not enhance her look. Plan your up do in advance.

Guys, that tux may be the stylish statement you want to make but please reconsider. A full tux is hot inside in the winter, why would you insist on making yourself and your boys miserable on the happiest day of your life. An outdoor location lends a certain air of informality so go with it. Wear a summer weight suit or blazer and khakis. Even if you are planning your ceremony for early evening when (hopefully) it has begun to cool, your pictures will be in late afternoon at the hottest part of the day. That means at least an hour posing in the blazing sun trying to look fresh and relaxed, not limp and sweaty.

For your family and guests.

A good host concerns themselves with the comfort of their guests. Please let you guests know that this will be an outdoor event so that they may dress appropriately. Offer cold beverages such as bottled water or lemonade as guest arrive. Your guests will appreciate something cold as they sit in the garden awaiting your grand entrance.

Try to arrange your site so your guests are not starring directly into the sun as they watch you make your vows. If it is the only way to orient the site consider passing out cheap sunglasses for a fun and funky touch. What a fun shot that would be; everyone from Granny to your three-year-old niece in matching Ray-ban knock-offs.

Speaking of Granny, provide your older guest some shade or other relief from the heat. It is just the smart thing to do.

Creepy crawlies.

Check to see if your site sprays for insects prior to an event. If they don’t, see if you can hire it done. Have plenty of insect repellant on hand for your guests. You can stock it in the bathroom baskets along with some sunscreen for those that forgot.

If your cake will be outside protect it beautifully under a festive mosquito net. Bugs love sugar, guests don’t want to eat bugs, and caterers don’t want to have to pick them off.

The staff that makes it all happen.

As you plan your al fresco soiree tell every vendor you hire that it is outside. They can suggest subtle changes that will make the day go smoother. Your florist may suggest alternate flowers that give a similar look but hold up to the heat better. Your caterer may need a tent to prep in and you musicians may require shade for the sake of their instruments. Listen to your vendors; they have been there, done that, got the sunburn. Your hair and makeup person needs to adjust for the heat and humidity. Tell everyone even if you think it will not matter.

I know that this all sounds rather doom and gloomy and I don’t mean to dissuade you from having your outdoor wedding; I just want you to be prepared so you have the best day possible and the wedding of your dreams

Dress Shopping and Personal Grooming

This just makes me sad.

I have been chatting with a group of Bridal Salon owners over the last couple of day on the subject of the personal grooming habits of people trying on wedding gowns. Who would have thought this would be a problem?
I seems that some of our young ladies have forgotten the lessons thier mommas taught them! They are doing things like not bothering to shower between their work-out and their stop by the salon. Or coming right from the spray on tan booth or on their way home from their their job as a landscaper or chef. You get the idea. Salons are at their wits end trying to figure out how to polietly tell these stinky young ladies to please bathe before you come to their salon to try on $3000 worth of silk. Where did the break down in what is socially acceptable occur?
More disturbing is the young ladies arriving without the benefit of panties. Come on. Even if you always go commando to avoid panty lines have a little respect for other people. I would not want to try on a gown that someone else’s naked sweaty bootie had been in! Salons have had to resort to keeping disposable paper panties on hand for these rude women. so unless you want to try on your wedding gown in a reasonably facsimile to Depends, wear panties.
Some brides take the slightest remark from a salon owner or employee as “Unbelievably rude service.” I think if they weren’t often subjected to unbelievably thoughtless behavior from brides they wouldn’t have to make the policies they do.
It was also brought up that brides sometimes bring small children with them. Ok, I know your child is a perfect angel that will sit quietly in the corner and not be tempted to finger all the pretty fabrics or hide in the racks of gowns.But just in case they go completely against their usual perfect behavior, do not for God’s sake arm them with chocolate! (once again, could I make this up?)
Let’s have a little respect for these hard working retail associates out there and the deep investment the owners have made.

What would your Momma say?

Party Time!

I went to a fabulous party last night for the Tennessee Wedding and Events Specialists Association. The annual Bar-be-cue and pool party is always a great time to let my hair down and catch up with all my friends in the industry. It was great fun to table hop all night.

I was chatting with Dave Nuding of Blue Tone Music and Doug Spangler, DJ extraordinaire. I was telling them about the staging I had been doing lately and they loved it. Dave was saying that it was a great idea for all coordinators (especially new ones) to stage with the different specialties. Every different specialty in the event industry has its own quirks and the only way to really understand them is to live through it. Something to think about as you interview potential wedding planners.

As usual, I fell into conversation with a bunch of my photographer friends. The topic on everyone’s mind was timing. With so many different vendors involved in a wedding it is so important that everyone is a pro and understands how crucial it is to stick to the timeline. If any one vendor is late or runs over time it effects the entire day. This goes double for brides!! If the makeup runs long, it makes the bride arrive late. That sucks time from the photographer and they don’t get all the pre-wedding shots you want. It doesn’t matter who the broken link is it still affects everyone. I once worked a wedding where the mother had planned a beautiful musical prelude to the ceremony. Most of the guests were from out of town so she had hired tour busses to get everyone to the wedding in time to enjoy the music. The busses were on time, the music was ready but the guests wouldn’t leave the TV in the hotel lounge until the Kentucky Derby was over. Arrrrrrrrggggggghhhh! Mom stalled the music and the ceremony was 45 minutes late. The caterer had to hold the food, etc,etc. Oh well, it was still a beautiful wedding, but everyone was stressed more then was necessary.

I ran into a wedding planner friend at the bar that was telling me one of her destination wedding brides had given her personal email address to EVERY ONE OF HER GUESTS and told them to send the planner their travel plans. Her inbox filled up with itineraries from 200 unknown addresses, often with no explanation just the travel arrangements. What a headache. I am going to assume that your guests are grown ups and can handle their own travel plans. Don’t do a blast email to your guests with your planner’s personal email addy. It can make for one very overworked and cranky planner if you don’t at least warn her.

Oh, the life of a wedding pro.

So What Does A Wedding Planner Do?

Yesterday I staged with one of the very best wedding planners around. Do not ask me to either walk or smile today, I can do neither. I put in about four days worth in 12 hours .

The skill set needed to be a good event planner is enormous. If we took the top 20 wedding planners in America and gave them the UN I am convinced they could turn the world into the garden of eden (before that whole apple fiasco).

First you must be an organizational whiz and a logistics wizard. The planner is responsible for juggling the acquisition of goods and services from 10 or more vendors. And those are just the main ones. Yesterday there were the venue, three rental companies, the florists, the baker and the draping company; the caterer, two sets of musicians, the lighting crew, the limo, the photographer and the videographer. Just like the general contractor on a building project, the planner is responsible for ensuring that each vendor arrives in the proper order. For instance, if the baker is scheduled to arrive before the rental company had arrived to set up tables and linen, the baker would not be a happy camper. Or if the bridal party pictures are scheduled before the bouquets are slated to arrive you have an angry bride. Add to this that at least three of the vendors will call and want to change their delivery time because of other weddings. Ok, now remember that sometimes the window for all this can be as little as four hours. I have actually seen it done in less than that but IT WAS NOT PRETTY.
Also on the organizational front, is stuff. Stuff that you would never in a million years think of, but a good planner has packed in the trunk of her car. Ok, some stuff you may have thought of like extra panty hose and aspirin and a steamer for the dress. How about surgical tape for the bridesmaid that thought her boobs needed a little more lift. (could I make that up, people?) How about a cigar cutter for the two-dozen Cuban cigars the bestman wanted to pass out. I think David Copperfield lives in her trunk and just makes stuff appear as needed.
Another skill needed to be a great planner is the ability to be a time-line enforcement cop with out being a witch about it. Days before the event the planner and the bride hammer out a time-line to keep the event rolling. As you plan your wedding you will begin to notice things like overtime charges and hourly rates, that is why your planner has to be on top of it. The day of the event, the bride, the groom, the bridal party and every parent involved refuses to acknowledge that time even exists. Weddings do not come with an infinite time frame. You have given the planner a list of things you wish to take place at your wedding, let her get them done in a fashion that won’t rush either you or your guests yet doesn’t leave anything out.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. Unlike other vendors, your planner is the de facto hostess of your wedding and reception. As she juggles multiple vendors and guest, smoothes out any wrinkles in the fabric of time and sees to the needs of one and all present she does it in heels with a smile on her face. NO MATTER WHAT. No matter what else happens that day, a great planner must exhibit the diplomatic skills Solomon could only hope to possess. That is a large part of the job.
There is good reason why wedding planners earn their keep. The things they do that no one sees are the little things that can make a good party great. It’s the little things that you don’t even notice unless they aren’t there.
Look for more posts about last night. There were so many great tidbits I picked up I just can’t put them all in one post.

Wedding Gown Alterations

It has occurred to me that most brides have no idea what is involved in altering a wedding gown.

Take a look at that gorgeous ball gown with 5 layers of fabric making that fabulous pouffy skirt, admire the 4″ wide border of crystal adorned beading at the hem. Now what do you think it takes to hem something like that? Well that skirt has to be removed and shortened from the waist, without ruining the lines.
Some of the sheath dresses with princess seams have to be hemmed at the shoulders which may or may not means recutting the the armholes and neckline.

I know, so what? It’s not you wielding the needles. What does it matter to the bride, you just want it right. Here is why it matters and what you can do about it.

As you find yourself narrowing down your dress selection find out what it will take to make your gown fit right. Ask the seamstress to look at the dress you are considering. A good tailor will be able to tell if the gown is cut in such a way that the adjustments needed for your figure are do-able. For instance, I am short-waisted. There are some gowns whose look would be destroyed in the process of making them fit me. I personally love the look of the ‘Fit and Flair’ style in the Rivini collection. Unfortunately I would have to either have one custom made by the designer or risk the bodice ending somewhere around my knees. Now that would make dancing fun.

If you are in love with a dress that is going to have to be adjusted at the shoulders, where will that put the waist? I don’t know and you probably don’t either. That is why you need the help of people who handle these dresses everyday and know how they are made.

Just one more thing to think about as you search for the perfect gown for your wedding. sorry

Notes From Lunch

I had lunch today with a photographer friend David Wright and Renee Maddison producer of Weddings The Bridal Show. They gave me some interesting 411 on a couple of things.

We got to talking about if couples should see each other before the ceremony. We all know that tradition says you should wait for the ceremony, but is that the answer for today’s couples? David was telling me that one of his recent grooms thanked him for encouraging them to meet before the actual ceremony for pictures. The groom was afraid that if he had waited for the moment his bride walked down the aisle he would have gotten too emotional in front of all the guests. As it was, they had a calm, private very personal moment that they will always remember. Renee said the same thing happened to her at her wedding last year. She and her sweetie Doug were cool as cucumbers at the ceremony. What a great idea.
The other thing David said is that doing the pictures before the ceremony gives your photographer the time needed to really be creative. If you wait until after everyone is rushing to get to the reception before the guests get restless. Rather than being creative it turns from a beautiful portrait to a mere photographic record. David also clued me in that a good photographer only need 45 minutes to be fabulous. A really good one can make magic in as little as 20.

Renee has some exciting things in store for the July 30th show at the Nashville Convention Center. Lots of tie-ins to her Dream Wedding theme. It sound like this show will be even more information packed then usual. She has some wonderful seminars planned on the main stage, including one by yours truly on putting together a storyboard for your wedding.The full schedule will be in the upcoming wedding section in the Nashville Scene. I can’t wait.

Why Florists Get The Big Bucks

Last weekend I staged with a florist on a three day wedding. They flat wore me out. Now I have been in the wedding industry for 20 years and I had no idea how hard these pros work. Let me give you a little run down on what goes into pulling together the floral for your big event.

Your flowers hit the wholesaler on Thursday. Nothing can be done on the floral work until then except logistics and some basic mechanicals. Once the flowers are in house they must be unpacked and conditioned over night. Friday the real work begins. Each bouquet, coursage and centerpiece is created. The large display pieces for the altar and the buffet table weigh a ton once they are finished. Some really large arrangements are done in parts. The most delicate flowers won’t be added until the the arrangements are in place at your wedding. Now you have to find places in the cooler for all the bouquets and arrangement so they are fresh for the big day. Don’t forget to pick up the rentals like candleabrums and a van if needed.

Saturday is one very long day. First thing in the morning things get organized and ready for load out. Hard goods first, then cut flowers and finally the arrangement for the reception. Drop that off and back to the shop to pick up the flowers for the church. The church has to be set up several hours before the ceremony for pictures. So you scoot out of there about the time the photographer arrives and head on out to the reception site. You have four to five hours at most to set the site. Hope like hell that the catering staff has done their job and the tables are set up and the linen thrown. Get all the centerpieces on the tables and out of your way. Next are the candles. Unpack the candle holders and put them in place. This part is fun…the candles rarely fit right in the holders, so you either shave part off or wrap them with tape. Yeah, good times. Time for the finishing touches. Tweak out the arrangements with the cut flowers, behead several hundred roses to artistically scatter their petals and you are ready to move on. Load out your tools and boxes and all the buckets from the cut flowers back into the van.
Back to the church. Break down all your hard work and load it back in the van. On to the shop to unload and store away what you don’t need for later. Now you get to take a break, grab a bite and down some coffee. There is still a ton left to do. Wait for the reception to end so you can start breaking it down. First blow out the candles so the wax has time to harden. Pack up the flowers for transport and be careful, the MOB wants to use them tomorrow for the brunch. Grab the stupid candles and clean up the rose petals and any candle wax.. Pack up the candle holders and the containers from the arrangements and load the van. Do a final run through to make sure you haven’t left anything behind then it’s on to the shop to close it all down. Unload the van, put it all away and make a few trips to the dumpster and your done. But don’t forget to deliver those arrangement tomorrow morning for the brunch.

And this is when everything goes perfectly.

When you look at the bid sheet for your flowers, remember that there is a whole lot more then just pretty posies behind that bid.

But My Gown Looked Better in The Magazine!

I had an interesting conversation with a gown designer Tuesday. She was telling me that she hears that comment quite often from brides. Yes, it probably did. The model wearing it was most likely 5′ 11″ and weighed 100 pounds and then the photographer airburshed the photo to within an inch of it’s life. So I asked her what she would tell a bride before she started trying on gowns.

First, have realistic expectations. The photos in the magazine are not anymore realistic than Playboy centerfolds. Pay more attention to the details than the overall look.

Second, all designers cut differently. The store consultant should be able to show you designers whose cut is more suited for your unique figure.

Third, the gown you liked on paper may not be the most flattering to you figure. Be open to different silhouettes and necklines. Most details such as beading or splashes of color can be found on a variety of styles. Determine the cut and style that is most flatering and then find one with the details you love.

Another thing to be aware of when you start shopping…most gowns have no ‘hanger appeal’. So even if it looks like yuck on the hanger, if it had the details you love try it on. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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