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 .

Negotiating With Wedding Vendors

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

I work with some of the best wedding professionals in the world and most are more than willing to bend over backwards to ensure your day is all you dreamed. However, there comes time when even they lose patience. By holding strictly to the letter of the contract, a wedding professional can step back and let you suffer the consequences.

Such was the case recently. This bride was doing anything and everything to cut cost, understandably. The problem was the way she was going about it. Rather than working with her vendors to find alternatives and solutions, she brow beat and demanded. At one point she actually said, “I know I have pissed off every one of my vendors.” By the end of the day, even her sister wasn’t speaking to her.

Take for instance the florist. She had been so nickel and dimed, browbeat and berated by this bride that there was no way she would do anything extra for this woman. When the bride realized that she had neglected to have the friend that was making the bouquet put together anything for the mothers the bride told her sister to go get any leftover flowers and make something. Now anytime a florist is doing anything on site there are always extra flowers hanging around. Guess what? Awww all the left over roses had been beheaded and put on the cake table. Sorry. But the cake table looked great.

Florists charge for candles and for rentals. This bride didn’t want to pay for either so she borrowed candelabrum from a friend and bought her own candles. The bad news is that the first time the florist got to see the candelabrum was on site at the event. Great. The flowers barely fit and the candles not at all. If we had used the candles provided the whole thing would have gone up in flames. Did we or the hotel have taller candles or another option available? Of course we did. Did we tell her? Nope. The hotel (which had been pushed around enough that the head of sales came into handle the event personally) simple said Sorry, no open flames. Do without.

There were just a million and one little things that went on like this throughout the entire day. No one did anything wrong or unethical; all they did was hold the bride to the letter of the contract.  I don’t know how to convince you that you will get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Thanks to Foxy Wedding for the heads up on this video.

Design Center

Check this out.

That is the Monumental Affairs Design Center.

“Located at Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, this newly designed boutique offers a unique location for anyone — from the newest bride-to-be, to the most seasoned Washington DC event planner — to make the necessary selections of china, linen, floral arrangements, invitations, entertainment and more for their catered affair, in one convenient location. The rich décor of the room showcases the most current linen styles and china patterns, in a colorful and inviting setting”.

Well, it about time! Why should you have to run all over town to put together the pieces of your wedding? A meeting at the linen vendor, followed by one at the rental firm, followed by one at the florist … but wait, will the flowers work with the linen? Back to the linen rental. Oh hell…I give up!

I have seen a couple of enterprises like this start up in the last few years. There is a lovely one in Marquette, MI of all places called the Wedding Emporium.

What a concept, event and wedding planning in one relaxed comfortable place. Shouldn’t it have always been this way? I mean, aren’t you busy enough without spending hours every week traipsing from appointment to appointment?

Winter Candle Centerpieces

I had a great time this weekend with the fab girls over at Branching Out Event Florists.

Vicki and here design team did it again; another gorgeous look that was anything but mainstream.

There was a lot of thinking outside the box on this wedding, not just in terms of the décor. It was held at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The ceremony was held in the lower lobby and the

dinner in the balcony level lobby. We then flipped the ceremony site and turned it into the setting for a rocking dessert/after party. The lucky guests had 3 different settings and looks but never had to brave the cold night air. What’s more, because it was on a Sunday they had the entire place to themselves. Think outside the box when you consider locations.

Beautiful bride, beautiful location and beautiful décor. What more could you ask for?

Bridal Show How-to

January always brings a rash of bridal shows. I know in my little market there are three in the next 6 days and that is just the beginning. On my other site I write a couple of columns a year on how to make the most of these for the bridal professionals that participate in them. I guess it’s about time I turn some of that around for my brides.

Picking the show: Face it, you can’t go to all of them; there is only so much time. If you want to be methodical about it you need to look at what vendors will be participating in each show. Every show lists their participants on their website so you can check them out. Look at who is going to be there. Are they the vendors that you are interested in? If you are doing an over the top elegant wedding why waste your time at a show where all the vendors are in the low budget range.

It also matters where you are in the planning process. If you are just starting out and only looking for ideas pick the biggest, baddest show on the block. Now it may be so crowded that you really won’t be able to talk to any vendors but you are only there to gather info anyway, right?

If you are pretty well on in the process and looking to fill a few gaps then you really want to look over that roster before you go. Look at who will be there that offers the services that you still need, check out their websites in advance get your questions down. A smaller more low key show is what you want for this. That way you will have a chance to talk to them one on one before you take the time to meet for a consultation. That can save a ton of time in the long run by eliminating those professionals that you just don’t click with.

What to Take: Every show will want your information. For the vendors that is what this is all about: getting that lead list. (Although in all honesty very few of them ever use it.; but that is another rant for another site. Hehe) To make your life easier print out some address labels to take with you. They need the following information:

· Bride & Groom name

· Location (city and zipcode)

· Wedding Date

· Email address

For this bit I am sure I will be raked over the coals by my buddies in the industry but here goes…

DO NOT give them your address, phone number or your normal email address. Set up a separate email account for bridal related email. When you meet a professional whose services you truly want to pursue give them the addy for your main account. Like wise, don’t give them invalid information. It’s just not nice to make them waste their time calling you only to get connected to the local graveyard or massage parlor. As for an invalid email, that can affect their spam rate and damage their reputation. So be nice, if you don’t want to hear from them just don’t give them anything.

One more point on what not to take. Leave the strollers and the kidlets at home. You need to be able to maneuver and to focus. Hire a babysitter ‘cause this ain’t no stroll in the park!

Once You Are There: I have never figured out why so many people show up at the second the door opens. Avoid the rush and head out an hour or so after the doors open, the wedding professional aren’t going any where.

First make a quick circuit of the show noting on the program any one that catches your eye. Check for listings of seminars and their times as well as the times for the fashion shows.

Take a break and make a plan of attack. Go back and visit with the booths that caught your eye. Get a feel for them, check out their products and get a few questions answered. Keep it brief, most professional need to meet and talk to about 6 brides per hour at these shows. If you click with someone make an appointment to continue the conversation at a real consultation.

You will get a lot and I do mean a lot of literature. Once you get home and try to sort it all out it will all start to look alike. Taking a little pre-emptive action at the show can help. Try to keep all that paper in 3 separate piles/places/bags.

  1. I really, really like them.
  2. Ya, maybe.
  3. Not on your life buster! (this one hits the trash on the way out)

If you make an appointment with someone or they stood out for some reason take a second to make a note on their handouts.

One more thing that I have to say and that’s because it is a pet peeve of mine. Cameras. Please ask at each booth before you start snapping away. Nothing use to make me more upset than someone taking a picture of a unique cake of mine that I had used my time, talent and creativity to design so they could have some two-bit hack try to recreate it. Grrrrrrrrrrr. Just ask before you take someone’s intellectual property. You really don’t want to start your new life with a big ol’pile of bad karma hanging around.

Savvy Shopping Brides

“Attention Wedding Shoppers, there is a sale in aisle 5 especially for you”

If you are planning a wedding in the next 12 months you have some serious after Christmas shopping to do.

In the days after Christmas nearly everything is on sale. No I’m not talking about your basic wedding stuff like gowns and guest books. I’m talking about all that other cool stuff that anyone with an ounce of creativity can use to decorate and host a fabulous wedding.

Let’ put away our “Christmas eyes” and put on our “event planner eyes” and take a little stroll, shall we?

We’ll start with the Christmas decorations. I’m sure you already know to stock up on white tree lights. You can use them in plants or behind fabric or to dress up the buffet tables. Some of those strands of all blue lights might be useful somewhere too. Keep looking.

If you already know your color scheme you can save a fortune on décor if you see some non-Christmas goodies in that color. One year I racked up on clusters of gold, silver and pearl white grapes for next to nothing, like 75% off! Hehehe. Also look for bead garland in non-traditional colors you can weave into your centerpieces. Another thing to look for is the fake crystallized fruit, there are always pears in that bin. Just perfect to add some glitz to a “perfect pear” motif; even better if you are doing a harvest or
Renaissance theme. Do you see where I’m going with this? Goodness me, they even make ornaments in a beach theme now if that is your wedding vision.

Don’t forget the candles. Every craft store, discount store and big box is full to over flowing with candles. Get them now while the getting is good.

Hurry along girls, we have lot’s more shopping to do! It’s on to accessories, everyone’s favorite. You know all those pretty little baubles they wanted you to buy to adorn your holiday look? Put your “bridal eyes” on and you may just find the perfect earrings, necklace and bracelets for your big day. Hadn’t thought about that, had you? It is also a great time to get deep discounts on pretties you can use as gifts for you attendants.

Check out all the pretty glittery shawls, shrugs and boleros that are out for the holidays. Might just be perfect to complete your bridesmaids outfit or add a bit of coverage for Mommy Dearest and Grandmother too! We’re not done yet.

It’s on to the Men’s department. Have you ever noticed that every men’s department suddenly sprouts displays of interesting little gifts for men this time of year? Things like flasks and wallets and cufflinks and office golf sets. Now isn’t that exactly what most guys end up buying for their groomsmen? Double score if it’s something you can have monogrammed after the holidays. Something else to keep your eyes open for is men’s formal wear. If you time it right you may even be able to buy your guy’s tux for not much more that you will be able to rent one for at the height of the wedding season.

All it takes is looking at those after Christmas sales from a different perspective.

Aren’t you glad you thought of that?

The Greening of the American Wedding

One goal of most every engaged couple is to find ways to express themselves in their wedding; to make it a truly personal representation of who they are as a couple. To do this more and more couples are bringing their social consciousness to the party. From environmentally friendly weddings to ethical jewelry to charitable donation registries, today’s couples are seeking out ways to proclaim their love for the planet and its inhabitants as they proclaim their love for each other.

Going green doesn’t mean wearing hemp and taking your vows in a field of daisies while munching on organic tofu. In 2007 you may not even see much of a difference on the surface. This means that you can do your part for the planet without freaking out Granny.

The key factor in having a green wedding is to make conscience choices and to ask questions. Many vendors in the event industry are catching on to the different options available and jumping in to fill the need. From when and where you decide to get married to the invitations to your honeymoon there are ways to lessen the impact your wedding has on the environment.

As you start to plan your wedding consider the time and place. A ceremony and reception held in the spring or fall will require less energy to heat or cool the space. Host your wedding in a location central to most of your guests to minimize the miles traveled. If possible have your ceremony and reception in the same location or you can provide transportation between the two.


If you think about it weddings require an amazing amount of paper goods. This is also one of the easiest ways to go green. Recycled paper has come a long way from the brown rough texture of the early days. Now you can get beautiful invitations printed on recycled papers from most of the major manufacturers. You can also find printers that use soy ink.

Take it another step further and you will discover all the beautiful handmade papers now available for the bride that want to make her own invitations. There are papers that come with embeds like flower petals or seeds. The seeded ones are especially nice to use for your program; guest can take them home and plant them after the wedding. No waste and a new plant in the bargain. Anything you need for your ‘paper wardrobe’ can be found in an ecologically friendly format.


When you talk about decor the first thing most people think of is flowers. Even though flowers are a natural product they are one of the hardest places to have an impact. Unless you live in an area with a long growing season it can be very hard to find the kinds of flowers you want locally and organically grown. Don’t despair, there are still thing you can do. If you get married in a garden you have flowers all around you. For your table centerpieces you can use a tablescape of small potted plants, maybe a combination of flowers and herbs. Pot them up in a moss lined basket or put them in pretty little pots and have you guests take them home for their gardens. If you still want a more traditional look you can order organically grown flowers on the internet from Organicbouquets.com. Even if you go with completely traditional flowers you can make arrangements with your florist to donate your flowers afterwards. Perenity is an all volunteer organization that will pick up your flowers after the wedding and use them to make arrangement that are delivered next day to patients in hospice care. Harriet Karo of the local Perenity group told me that this trend has grown in Nashville to the point where they quite frequently receive enough donations to not only cover Alive Hospice but the Ronald McDonald House as well. Way to go Nashville brides! Not only that, but the florists love it too. Vicki Sanders owner of Branching Out said “not only are we doing something worth while but we don’t have to haul the leftover flowers back to the shop afterward.”

This is just the beginning of ways you can do your part as you celebrate your marriage. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at fashion and jewelery. Stay tuned.

Market Wrap-up From Head to Toe

These are the last of my pictures from the National Bridal Market Chicago. The mosaic below showcases the crowing glory of wedding regalia for either the bride or her guests.

The lovely lady in the center image is Jolene Picone, designer for Veil Trends out of Denver. As is my warped habit, I asked Jolene to model her favorite piece out of her collection. Although I am not sure it shows up well in the image, the veil she is wearing is called Neapolitan, the three layers are pink, white and light brown; how very fun.

Also showcased are Mandy Greenan designer for Tiger Lilly in the white veiled fascinator and Brenda Waites Bolling in the stunning pink hat. Oh how I wish hats were in fashion for wedding guests in the states. The beautiful jeweled combs are courtesy of Erica Koesler. The feather fascinators on the black velvet pillows are from Sara Gabriel and the tree display of feather fascinator in the third position are from Veil trends.

There were lots of gorgeous shoes to be seen but these two are the ones worth talking about. From Saugus Shoes the platforms on these are made out of memory foam.

Nothing can compare to a shoe this sexy AND comfy. WooHoo. These are shown in white silk but also come in black or can be dyed to match your look.

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