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Should I Have a Wedding Rehearsal?

Should I Have a Wedding Rehearsal?

Ceremony rehearsals and rehearsal dinners are very common when it comes to weddings. It allows for you and your family to come together before the big day. But, the question is, do we really need them? I started a deep dive on Tik Tok the other day, scrolling through videos saying, “What I will NOT have at my wedding” or “What we did at our wedding that you may want to do too!” One of them that I saw talked about rehearsal dinners and how this specific couple decided to opt-out of it. You should have seen the comments: “What?? No rehearsal dinner??” “Why wouldn’t you have a rehearsal dinner?” So, is it really necessary? Let’s break this down by separating ceremony rehearsals from rehearsal dinners. Ceremony rehearsals can be very beneficial, and if you are getting married at a church, it may be required that you do a rehearsal. It gives you the opportunity to practice how you will process and recess as well as get comfortable with the ceremony order and script. If you’re getting married at a venue, there are a few scenarios in which I would recommend having a ceremony rehearsal. First, if you have a larger wedding party or have kiddos in your processional, it’s helpful to run through everything so they have an idea of what will happen on the wedding day. Or, if you have a more involved ceremony (for example, the wedding party members will perform certain traditions, parents are assisting with a unity ceremony, etc.), it’s helpful to rehearse these so everyone involved is comfortable for the actual ceremony. Also, if your officiant is a family member or friend who hasn’t officiated a wedding before, doing a ceremony rehearsal can help them get rid of some of those pre-wedding jitters. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to do your ceremony rehearsal the day before your wedding! Some venues don’t allow them or require you to pay extra to host them in their space. If you are doing a first look on the wedding day, we can usually schedule in some time when you arrive at the venue to do a quick ceremony rehearsal. The downside to this is that we typically won’t have as much time to rehearse since we’ll need to tuck the couple away prior to guest arrival. But this can be a great option if you just need a quick run-through of things! If you opt not to have a formal ceremony rehearsal at all, I recommend at least talking through the order of things with your wedding party and anyone involved in the ceremony, and/or putting together a diagram so they know when they’re processing/recessing and where they’ll be standing. If you have a planner or coordinator, they can help you put this together! Now, let’s talk about rehearsal dinners and the pros and cons. Rehearsal dinners can be a great opportunity to spend the night with out-of-town guests and family and just enjoy each other's company. At my sister's wedding, this was an opportunity for parents to give speeches so that we can do fewer speeches on the wedding day (which I think is a genius idea!). Additionally, it is a more casual setting for guests to get to know one another, and you could even choose a restaurant that is special to you as a couple! However, let’s talk about some cons. Obviously, your rehearsal dinner is going to be an added expense. Depending on the style and formality of your rehearsal dinner, we typically see these costs ranging from $1,500 to $3,500. Of course, there are always ways to cut back those costs, and just like with weddings, your guest count is going to be the greatest determinant of how much you’ll spend. Some couples do not think they need to do a night with everyone when the following day they will get to. And if the vibe of your wedding weekend is more casual, remember that you don’t have to have a formal rehearsal dinner at a restaurant. Let’s talk about some things you could do INSTEAD of a rehearsal dinner (or even in addition to!): A casual welcome party A potluck A relaxing day with your wedding party A get-together at a local bar, and many more! Overall, there are many ways that you can make rehearsals more casual, but in the end, neither a ceremony rehearsal nor a rehearsal dinner is a requirement. It is your wedding, so it is up to YOU! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW

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First Look or Not?

First Look or Not?

The first look. A very popular moment to share with your soon-to-be partner. But, the question is, is it necessary? Traditionally, The “First look” has not always been a thing. It has been that big, gushing moment when your partner sees you walk down the aisle that is what everyone dreams of. However, some people dream of that private moment that they can have with their partner for gorgeous photos, memorable moments, and (psst) it also saves time and stress :). Let's talk about it!! The traditional way. When getting married, we always talk about that moment when you walk down the aisle and pray that your partner cries or, rewind, we are doing it again. It is the moment you see each other for the first time and look at each other in awe. If you are asking for my opinion, I am a big traditional gal. I love the idea of seeing each other in this moment. It is such a precious time that I think a lot of people are glad they did. However, there are a few cons. The morning can be a little tough making sure that you do not see each other! Additionally, it also means you have to take wedding party photos after the ceremony, so this would not be ideal for those who want to be a part of cocktail hour! Either way, it is such a great moment! First looks have become more and more popular as the years go on. Additionally, there is more than just a first look with your fiance! Couples are doing first looks with moms, dads, and the wedding party as well. The first look can be just as special as walking down the aisle for the first time, but this gives you privacy. Just you and your fiance. You can really cherish that special moment together. Although I definitely love the non-first look vibe, some first looks are just absolutely gorgeous and I love every moment of it. Plus, you can get all of your wedding party pictures out of the way so that you can be present after the ceremony instead of having to go off and take a ton of pictures! At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with any choice. The first look can be one of the most favorite moments of the day, and so can the walking down the aisle moment. In fact, there are so many different things you can do these days! Some couples even do a first touch! We love any and all options! Do what makes you happy! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW

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What To Do When Your Floral Vision is Bigger Than Your Budget

What To Do When Your Floral Vision is Bigger Than Your Budget

One of the most common concerns couples have with wedding planning is when it comes to design and florals. You’ve just shown your florist your inspiration photos, they asked you some questions, and sent back a proposal - and wow! Sticker shock is probably real right now. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! As wedding professionals, it’s our goal to bring our client’s dreams to life. But between tight budgets and elaborate, ever-changing Pinterest trends, it can start feeling like a recipe for disappointment when navigating your wedding florals. Many couples have their hearts set on a particular floral arrangement, only to find out that it will eat up half (or more) of their total budget. So, what can you do about this? Tip 1: Be Flexible Being flexible will allow you to get the dreamy look you want and love at a price you can actually afford. Flexibility allows for increased quality and realistic expectations. When you’re flexible with the type of flower you want, for instance, your florist can provide you with alternatives that are in-season and fit your budget but still capture the look you’re going for. Take peonies for example. They are stunning! But also expensive. Why? They’re only in season for a short window of time, which makes them difficult to source. This drives up the price and time it takes to acquire them. They are also a larger flower with layers of petals. This larger size generally makes them more expensive than their less showy counterparts. And the third problem is a simple supply and demand issue - they’re beautiful and everyone knows it. Being flexible will allow your florist to suggest lookalikes that are similar in size, shape, and feel, but with a much lower price tag. The takeaway here is that flexibility helps prevent you from paying a premium price for unnecessary reasons - like choosing out-of-season floral which costs the most but isn’t even at the peak of its quality. Tip 2: Be Intentional Search for and find those areas of your wedding where a big floral piece will have the biggest impact. You can’t recreate every single one of those stunning Pinterest images that you have your heart set on. Choose one and pick the area of focus. Perhaps you don’t have the budget for a luscious floral arch as the focal point of your ceremony. Instead, try an aisle runner of ombre rose petals like the photo below. The visual impact here is excellent compared to the cost! And the blending colors naturally usher your eyes to the front of the space, creating an entrance that demands attention. By using intentional design, we created a look that our client loved and helped stretch the value out of every petal. Intentional designs exceed expectations every single time because these are the pieces that are specifically created for your wedding to WOW you and your guests. Tip 3: Try the Trust Fall It is so important to trust your floral designer! It allows you to enjoy the experience. Trust is hard, we get it. But chances are, you’ve hired your florist based on their expertise, experience, and talent. They live and breathe weddings and will likely go above and beyond your expectations. So why not trust them? Putting your trust in your florist will allow them to take your ideas, inspiration, and perspective and translate them into a one-of-a-kind piece of art. By hand selecting each bloom, considering its placement, color, size, texture, and shape, florists use nature to curate art that reflects you as a couple. It’s great to have those inspo pics at the ready, but I encourage you to let go and trust the floral designer that really understands your vision. So close your eyes, take a breath, and trust fall into the very experienced arms of that floral designer who is waiting to catch a client just like you. Tip 4: Do DIY But Be Realistic DIY-ing can be a great money saver, but be realistic when it comes to your limitations and how much you can handle. Consider if you have the time, space, and skills to tackle the projects you’re thinking about taking on. It’s perfectly acceptable to purchase your bouquet from a florist and plan to create some centerpieces on your own. But beware! The last thing we want is for you to be up at 3 AM the night before your wedding struggling to finish that DIY greenery runner. Be honest with yourself about what you’ll be able to handle. If you are DIY-ing, ask your florist if they are willing to help you with a bulk order of loose stems for your project. This can help you to know how much product to order, ensure you get quality blooms, and get flowers that match any pieces the florist is creating for you. Bonus Tip: Don’t Add Things You Don’t Need Just to Check Off a Box If you don’t feel like personal flowers for your grandparents are important, don’t feel the need to pay for them just because! Really make sure that you are being intentional about where you’re spending your money and that it’s focused on the areas that are most important to you as a couple. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? ___ TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW

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How to Find Your Wedding Dress Style

How to Find Your Wedding Dress Style

Walking into a wedding dress shop can sometimes be intimidating. You have dresses everywhere and it seems like the racks go on for miles. But don’t fret! This is often time the most fun you’ll have planning for your perfect day because who didn’t love playing dress-up as a child? You get to become a real life princess with a big, fluffy gown topped with gorgeous jewels and live in a fantasy world for a day. Let’s take a look at four simple tips to finding the perfect wedding dress that fits your style. Be open minded Simple silhouettes don’t look appealing to you? Not really sure about that dress with a thousand layers of tulle? You never really know unless you try it on. Now’s the time to experiment with different styles, silhouettes, even different shades of white. Instead of a sweetheart neckline, go for a jewel neckline. The possibilities are endless and why it may seem overwhelming, you know you spent the time picking a gown you’ll be happy with. Take the untraditional route The days of untraditional weddings are becoming more real as brides are testing the waters with different outfits altogether. They’re replacing the dress with pantsuits, crop tops and shorter hemlines. Listen to suggestions You know your friends and family love you, and who knows you better than them? Sure, them putting their two cents into every wedding decision is sometimes not helpful, but really listen to them when it comes to the dress. It helps to see how you look from a different set of eyes. Just don’t let it influence your final decision. This is your wedding, after all. Go with your gut We, as humans, just know when something is right. We don’t need a reason or explanation as to why, we just feel it. When you can’t take your eyes off the mirror with you standing on the pedestal in that dress, it’s time to say yes… To the dress. Sorry, I couldn’t resist saying that. Follow Kayla Peart on Instagram for cute pictures of her cats. While you’re at it, check out her blog onyx + quartz for all the latest tips on fashion and beauty.

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Wedding Registry Ideas

Wedding Registry Ideas

Signing up for your wedding registry is an important part of any wedding planning. Check out the downloadable list at the bottom of the page for all the registry essentials! The easiest way to build a wedding registry is to mentally go room by room. Thinking about each room individually and from there decide what you may want or need. An easy way to fill in your “need” gaps is to keep a list on your phone of things you find yourself needing that you might not think to buy while you’re at the store, like maybe a juicer or a mandolin slicer. Get creative with your registry as well! You might find yourself not needing or wanting much, but instead feeling like you two need some TLC, so maybe start a honeymoon fund and asks guests to donate to that! Quick Tips: Don’t be afraid to register at more than one store. Cover all price points. Make sure you and your fiancé register early. Make sure you are registering it together, both of your opinions are important Most importantly, make sure you register for what you two want and need. Just because everyone else asks for bed sheets and shower curtains doesn’t mean that that is what you should include as well. What If We Already Live Together?: If you and your fiancé are already living together, a wedding registry might seem redundant, however there are plenty of things you can ask your family and friends for! Sometimes after living together for quite some time you find yourself constantly thinking of small things you need. Ever needed to fix something without a toolkit? Or perhaps you need a fan for those hot summer months, or a back massager for those long days at work. Any and all of these common household items are fair game for your registry. Marrying your fiancé after living together offers you the chance to make your house into a home. Make your place extra cozy with candles, or new pillows and blankets. Treat yourself to brand new bedding, pillowcases and a comforter. Take the time to actually decorate your home! You can also take this opportunity to ask for more fun things! It doesn’t all need to be practical. You can ask for a new TV, board games, or maybe a poster or a piece of art. You can also ask for things related you household hobbies. For example, if you like cooking together you can upgrade some of your kitchen appliances or register for cookbooks and food-related subscription boxes. If gardening is your thing, register for pots and supplies. If you really have anything, don’t be afraid to ask for donations to a favorite charity of yours. What's your registry must have? Let us know in the comments! Ready for your downloadable registry list? GET IT HERE

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I'm engaged! Now what? 5 to dos after you put a ring on it

I'm engaged! Now what? 5 to dos after you put a ring on it

YAY! You've either received or given a sparkly new accessory! Now what? Here are 5 to dos after you put a ring on it. 1. Post a ring selfie on IG! I mean, duh. It's 2020 (or maybe 2021 when you're reading this), so obviously, the first logical step to wedding planning is to post a ring selfie with the adorbs story as your caption. Spread the word to total strangers (and IG stalker wedding pros like myself) by using fun hashtags like #feyonce #fiance #isaidyes #imengaged #wereengaged #howtheyasked #ringselfie #engagedAF #chicagoproposal #chicagoengagement 2. Set a wedding budget. This is the absolute first step to wedding planning. Sit down together & determine a realistic budget for your wedding. 3. Determine your guest count. Keep in mind when narrowing down this list that your wedding budget will increase with each guest you add. Guest count determines your catering/bar bill, floral bill, linen & rentals total, and what size venue you need to book. 4. Decide if you want to hire a wedding planner. No hard feelings if the answer is no, but if you do want to work with a planner, now's the time to decide before you start booking other vendors. A wedding planner can help you allocate your budget appropriately, find the right venue & vendor team, and help you dream up your vision. To get the most bang for your buck, book a planner first to help with the rest. 5. Go on a date! I'm not kidding. It is heartbreaking to me to watch so many couples get so wrapped up in planning a wedding that they forget to enjoy their engagement. You can never get this particular season of your life back, so be intentional about stopping to enjoy the view! Whether it's a bubble bath, champagne & candles, a date night box, or a night out on the town to see your favorite comedian & eat at your favorite restaurant (post-pandemic, of course) make it a point to celebrate the moment & pat yourself on the back for the work you've already gotten done! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW

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How to Plan a Kick Ass Wedding for Under $40K

How to Plan a Kick Ass Wedding for Under $40K

Most newly engaged couples feel defeated with the belief that planning their dream wedding will be too expensive and too difficult. Here are some of our favorite tips on how to plan a kick ass wedding for under $40K. Keep your guest count low. The number one factor in the cost of your wedding is the number of people who attend. Your catering and bar packages will be per person, every table is an added $100-250+ in centerpiece cost, even your DJ package can be affected by the number of guests in attendance since a higher guest count requires more sound equipment. But how low is low enough? There’s no magic number here, but our clients who have been the most successful at keeping their total spend under $40K have had guest counts under 150. Decide on your priorities. To keep your wedding at or under $40K in and around Chicago is going to require some compromise. You will not be able to have all the things. I know it stings a little to read, but I promise you, if you’re intentional about deciding on your priorities and sticking to them, it’ll be far easier to avoid shiny object syndrome & stay on budget. I’ve written a lot of posts both on the blog & IG on how to set your priorities, but whatever method you choose, I recommend deciding firmly on a top 3 and a bottom 3. That way when shiny object come up, if it’s on that bottom 3 list, the answer is a hard pass. Here is an example of one our past couples’ top 3 & bottom 3: Top 3 Food Guest Experience Design Bottom 3 Fashion Music Favors Here’s how that translated into our spending: We made food part of the experience for the guests & created interactive stations for them to participate in throughout the night. Apps were hand passed, dinner was filled with action stations (including a Sushi station), dessert was a sweets bar that included to-go bags for later, we brought in an ice cream cart for the last part of the evening & brought in Jets pizza for guests to take as drunk food on the way out. Other experiences included a Caricaturist and an interactive experience with the design through the invitations which had a velvet liner to them. Alternatively, our bride bought her dress off the rack at Nordstroms, hired a DJ with a very basic package and didn’t spend money on favors. Your power is in setting these priorities first. Hire your vendors in the correct order. We personally believe there is a right order to book your vendors in. Your venue or Planner will always be your first hire. A Planner is the only vendor you can hire without a date and you can’t get a date without booking the venue. If photography is on your top 3, then hire your photographer next. The most popular ones book up quickly. Then book your catering before doing anything else. Why? Your catering will be most significant total spend you have for your wedding. If you nail this number down early, then you have the power of knowing what’s left and making smart spends from there. We have a couple we’re working with now that all planning has haulted until we make a final decision on a caterer because I cannot intelligently advise them on how to design their wedding or if they can afford some of their B level preference vendors until I know what their catering total looks like. Then book based on the priorities you set. Want a moving wedding film? Book your Cinematographer next. Is design the most important thing to you? Great, start working through that vision with your florist and get final numbers decided on before moving down the list. Be willing to think outside the box. We have 2 couples last year that opted out of working with a traditional event caterer. One catered from their favorite restaurant and the restaurant provided servers and one opted for drop of catering from their fave taco spot. In that case we hired an event staffing company to provide servers, bartenders, & staff for setup & tear down. It took a little creativity but they both spent less than half of what most of my couples do working with an event caterer. We offered that option up to another couple who wanted to make sure that the chefs and serving staff were used to working events so the experience for their guests would be flawless. Again… goes back to priorities. We’ve even had clients book their venue off of Peer Space, which has saved them some cash. Work with a Planner. This is not just a shameless plug. (although, while I have your attention, HIRE US!) But for reals. Planners do this all the time. We know all of the options and the effects of choosing those options, like if the space you booked on Peerspace doesn’t include tables & chairs, where to get those items and how much they’re going to cost. We also know a thing or two about getting creative. One couple last year spent about $45 per table on centerpieces (much lower than our $100-$250 average) because we were able to help them creatively express their vision while staying in budget. We also usually know which bridal boutiques are having trunk shows and which stationers give complimentary return addressing for being a referral of ours. We also know where it is really important NOT to cut the budget (event staff, photo/video coverage hours for example). I know many Planners, that have paid for themselves just in the money they have saved their clients, either in creative solutions, or avoiding last minute fiasco charges. Planning a wedding under $40K in Chicago might seem like an impossible task, but with these tips, you’re well on your way to having your dream wedding on budget. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW

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Meet the Royal Wedding Vendors: Claire Ptak

Meet the Royal Wedding Vendors: Claire Ptak

Claire Ptak Follow her @violetcakeslondon Besides being a small business owner, Claire Ptak also is a food writer & stylist, recipe developer and consultant. It was announced back in March that American pastry chef Claire Ptak would be the royal wedding cake baker. Ptak owns the east London bakery Violet Cakes. Traditionally, the royal wedding cake is a tall and grand fruitcake adorned with flowers and intricate piping. However, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are breaking that tradition with their lemon elderflower cake decorated with fresh flowers. Traditional or not, it sounds delicious to us! The recipe for the cake is not being disclosed, but if you want to try your hand at making the royal wedding cake, check out this article Sources: http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-fo-re-claire-ptak-royal-wedding-cake-20180323-story.html http://www.violetcakes.com/about/

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How to Involve a Step Parent in your Wedding

How to Involve a Step Parent in your Wedding

Step-parents are an difficult topic when it comes to wedding planning; how does one involve this additional parent in their ceremony, along with their biological family? There are a few ways to go about doing this—no matter what kind of relationship you have. Photo Credit: Anya Albonett 1. Walking down the aisle. It's an important piece that usually falls to the father(s) of the bride. One way to go about this is having both the biological father and the step-father give the bride away together—representing the whole family. Another is doing a half-walk, where the biological father walks halfway, and the step-father walks the rest of the way with you. Another option here is to have your stepparent walk with the parent they are married to, or in the case of step-moms of the bride; have her be escorted by a sibling, so she is included in the processional. 2. Pledge of Support. One way we're seeing all parents get involved is a pledge of support. Instead of giving away the bride, all parents - biological & step; bride & groom - pledge their support of the couple & to help them navigate the waters of their new marriage. 3. Parent Dances. When it’s time to hit the dance floor don’t stress! There can be two dances with both dads or moms. Take your time and don’t feel a need to cut the song short. 4. Planning. Include both mom & stepmom in the planning! 5. Bouts & Corsages. Giving these additional family members this special accessory reserved for parents would be another great way to involve them in your special day! Let’s not forget—you’re not alone! Most couples are working through the best ways to honor their step-parents in their wedding. You can always use community forums like WeddingWire if you’re ever looking for fellow brides-to-be to chat with. You got this!

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10 Powerful Ways to Honor Dad at Your Wedding

10 Powerful Ways to Honor Dad at Your Wedding

In honor of Father's Day, let's talk about the different ways we can honor dad on your wedding day! This might be a difficult subject if your father wasn't really in the picture or if he's no longer with us (and in either case, I am really, truly sorry), but even in those situations, we can find beautiful ways to honor the person who filled the role in our life or to honor his memory. 1. Walk down the aisle. This is tradition at it's finest, in my opinion. I've read a lot about brides forgoing this tradition because of what it meant in regards to women being considered "property" once upon a time. But if we can look past the antiquated societal meaning behind this tradition and look at the beauty of dad being the man of your life and entrusting your life, well being, heart to your husband -- it's one of the most beautiful moments in the entire ceremony. Gets me all teary-eyed at every wedding (and even thinking about it). If dad wasn't in the picture, but an uncle, older brother, friend of the family, step-dad, or even single mom filled this role for you it carries the same significance. 2. Daddy-Daughter Dance. Now I'm also a complete sucker for the daddy-daughter dance. Again, a beautiful tradition that has longevity for a reason. To me it signifies the love between a father and daughter that even after she marries, is not replaced. And I'm sure most of us have a song that makes us think about dad (I've got 2- "To Make You Feel My Love" by Garth Brooks and "I'm Already There" by Lonestar) that we can't listen to without crying. What a beautiful way to communicate your gratefulness to dad for everything he's done in raising you to be the woman that you are. And just like the walk down the aisle, this can be done with anyone who has been "dad" in your life. Also, here's a really sweet picture of me and my dad dancing. Come on... who doesn't want one of these for the photo album?! 3. Wear dad's heart. This is one I saw on Pinterest awhile back and I just fell in love with! Take one of dad's shirt and have a heart cut out of it and have it sewn onto your dress. Could be on the back where it can be seen or could be in the lining right against yours. (This is a really sweet way to have dad with you if he has passed away) 4. First look with dad. It's becoming a bigger and bigger logistical trend for the husband and wife to be to do a "first look" before the ceremony. It's a beautiful moment that the photographer and videographer capture, but is done pretty privately. Away from family, bridal party, and guests. A beautiful precedent to this would be a first look with dad (and mom; bride and groom with their respective parents). Before you run off to gush over your husband to be (and him to gush over you, I mean really though...) take a private moment with your parents and have it documented. If dad has passed away... 5. Have whoever walks you down the aisle wear his cologne. 6. Wear his heart (see #3). 7. Walk the aisle alone, but with his photo OR if you have someone escorting you, have mom walk with his photo. 8. Save a seat for him at the table. Memorialize him with a photo or an old suit jacket on his chair. 9. Use something of his. Did dad have a favorite pen? Use it to sign your marriage certificate. What about a favorite wine glass or coffee mug? Use it during the ceremony. Find something that had meaning to dad and find a creative way to incorporate it into the day. 10. Have a moment of silence in his memory during the ceremony or reception.

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Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Vendor Contracts

Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Vendor Contracts

I don't know that there is ever a time in your life that you read & sign more contracts than when you're planning a wedding. Most weddings have an average of about 10 different vendors involved in their day: from venue to transportation & all of these vendors require (or should) a signed agreement to book their services. Here are some of my favorite contract tips that I use everyday for each of my clients vendors. Before signing Check the cancellation policy. You should be looking for your liability if you cancel for whatever reason; which is usually inclusive of a non-refundable retainer that is paid at contract signing and a progressive financial loss of your total remaining balance based on how far out you cancel (which is to cover the vendors loss of income in case they are unable to book the date with another client). But something I find too many clients don't look for is the vendor's liability if they cancel. I had a client come to be a couple of months before her wedding last year after her original Coordinator had cancelled and there was no clause in the contract that gave her the right to have her retainer refunded. She was out the money for the retainer & still needed to book the services. Contracts are supposed to protect both parties so make sure that you are protected too. Look for typos in your booking details. You'd be surprised at how easy it is for your date to get double booked. An industry friend shared a story with me of a client who's venue double booked because of a date typo in the contract. The venue put the date on their calendar after the contract was signed as the date in the contract. One problem- the date in the contract was for the following year, so on the wedding day, when 2 caterers showed up the vendors were all left scrambling trying to fix it without ruining either of the couples wedding day. Double check spellings of names, dates, & location details. Check your package hours. The last thing you want is a few months before your wedding to realize that really great photo deal you got was only for 6 hours & you want coverage for 12. Look for your vendors arrival time. Most vendors have a spot in their contract saying something like "we arrive for set up 1 hour before your contracted start time." The important thing her is to make sure that time is in there. You don't really need it now, but you will when it's time to start working on the timeline & getting into the wedding day details. Check your deposit amounts & payment schedule. Make sure that the financial details are clearly spelled out. Will your contact be the onsite on your wedding day? There's no right or wrong answer here, just make sure you know the answer. For example, our contracts state that I may not necessarily be the onsite person on the wedding day. As my business grows, I have to step back some from operation in order to run the business (and maintain the work/life balance I want), so it's important that my clients know that depending on our calendar, they may have another Coordinator work their wedding day & that they will meet that person 4 months before their wedding. One area I find couples disappointed after signing with some vendors is finding out that the person they booked with isn't going to be their onsite. Make sure this expectation is well set before signing. If it's not in the contract, it doesn't exist. I can't tell you how many couples have gone on a venue tour & asked for something that isn't typically done & were told it wouldn't be a problem. To them it's a done deal & they don't think of it again until they need to again in planning. Well, in that gap of time the person they were working with left the venue & that thing they asked for isn't in the contract and now they're left frustrating and battling the venue over something that they had gotten approval for but there is no paper trail on. Make sure everything you request that is not usually either included or would be a special exception, that you get it in writing, preferably in your contract. After signing Request a copy of the countersigned contract for your records & a receipt from your retainer. You don't ever want to leave your legal, binding records in someone else's hands. Too many times contracts have gotten lost from vendors & if the couple does not have a copy, then they have no ground to stand on if there's a dispute. Always always get copies for your own records & keep track of them. Save everything in Google drive. I use Google drive as my client management system & it was a life saver! What I recommend is making a "Wedding Planning" folder and then inside making a separate folder for each vendor. You can either call it by name "Lillian Rose Events" or "Wedding Planning", but use that to hold all of your documents for each vendor. Contracts, receipts, photo lists, song lists, floor plans, menus, etc. It's super helpful in keeping organized! Put reminders on your calendar for payment due dates. I send payment reminders for all of my couples at 1 month, 2 weeks, and 1 day before the due date. I find this gives them on a ramp to the payment. Especially the larger ones. I recommend you give yourself the same kind of time. Put check-in reminders & due dates on your calendar. Now, your vendors should be checking in with you periodically, but we're all small businesses and sometimes things fall through the cracks. It doesn't hurt for you to set up a few reminders just to check in with each of your vendors. If you're feeling weird about checking in with them, ask a question as a passive way of "checking in". You can also use your calendar for reminders for due dates. For example, your photographer likely has a due date for your photo list & your DJ likely has a due date for your songs list. Put reminders with the same kind of on ramp as payments that these items are coming due. The contracting vendors part of your wedding can be overwhelming, but hopefully these tips will help make it a little less daunting. Do you have any tips for contracting vendors? Leave them in the comments below! I'd love to hear them! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW

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Cat Party Details: Lily's 1st Birthday

Cat Party Details: Lily's 1st Birthday

As some of you may know, the Lillian behind Lillian Rose Events is my now 1 year old daughter, Lily. This past Saturday we celebrated her birthday in style with her favorite thing in the entire world: cats!!! You can imagine as a professional party planner that I had some high expectations of myself for her 1st birthday party. Our budget for her party was $250 and I am SO happy with how it turned out! Venue: My mom & dad's house - they have this gorgeous backyard with a pool & trampoline. It was purrrrfect for a summer birthday party! Food: Our family lives by the "Keep it Simple, Stupid" rule. We did Little Ceasar's $5 hot and ready pizzas. It was cheap and we because there is a location a few blocks from my parent's house, we were able to buy as needed instead of having a ton of left over food that we paid for and no one ate. Cake: We ordered a themed cupcake cake from our local Walmart bakery, which came with 24 cupcakes & then an additional 2 dozen cupcakes on the side. It also came with a free smash cake for little one!!! Overall, I was surprisingly happy with the quality of the cupcake cake, especially given the total out of pocket cost of $29!!! Party Supplies: Here's the layout of the table. We kept it really simple. Paper plates & cups, plastic utensils, and some fun favors! I'll get into what I did to theme the party supplies below. Cups: They're your basic Dollar Tree paper cups that I drew cat faces on with sharpies. I think they turned out super adorable and Lily, who's two favorite words are "cat" and "cup" couldn't stop screaming "CAT CUP!!!" Plates: Again, we used Dollar Tree paper plates. All I did here was cut ears and tape them onto the back of the rims. Favors: We had 2 favors for the kiddos - snack bags of Goldfish and fun cat ears to wear. The kids couldn't have cared less about the cat ears, but loved the Goldfish (who doesn't?) but the adults LOVED the cat ears!!! Goldfish Snack bags: I used Dollar Tree loot bags, Goldfish and yarn to assemble these bags. It was really simple. Put some Goldfish in the bag and tie it closed with a yarn ball tie. Cat Ears: We just ordered a few multi packs on Amazon. For the birthday girl, we added a princess crown clip to the center. Decoration: All we really did for decoration were cat balloons!! SO CUTE!!! I got regular 'ol latex balloons from Party City, taped construction paper ears to the top, and drew a cute cat face on them! It was an awesome 1st birthday and I love the way it turned out. Lily was so excited to have cats everywhere!!!

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