Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RSVP's

Morning Wed-heads!

I know, I know...I didn't blog last week. Again it seems like I was overwhemingly busy last week. But as always, I am committed to helping you succeed at your DIY wedding, so let's get to work!
So last time, we discussed ways to decrease stress. Check out the July 11th post when you have a chance and review it at any time. Stress will be a constant in your life from now until you head for your honeymoon. So learn ways to stop it in its tracks, or atleast minimalize it. I want you to make mole hills out of mountains! LOL Meaning, having ways to deal with stress will make every issue seem smaller than it actually is.

Studies in the industry show that in general, 50% of all brides stress over money. And about 50% of brides stress over time, because they probably started planning too late or didn't stay organized and the time bandit is knocking at their door to get all of their projects finished. But during the actually planning process, I've come to see that all of my clients come to the table with one extremely large stressor on their shoulders: The RSVPs.




Let me tell you upfront, handling the RSVPs sucks for a DIY Bride! You already had to deal with the craziness of how many people can you afford to invite, how many people you're actually going to invite, and then sending out invitations. If you follow most online checklists like TheKnot.com provides, you will have a 6 week window to deal with the straight foolery of RSVP management. If you do not send out your invitations 6 weeks in advance, then you will have even more stress on your plate! And I wish you luck! LOL

RSVPing is THE most annoying part of planning any event, wedding or otherwise. It is relying on a large number of people to actually do what they're told to do (reply); when they're told to do it (reply date). That almost never happens! People are so busy with their own lives, they will continue pushing your wedding invitation around on their kitchen counter until the absolute last minute. It never dawns on them that they are being totally inconsiderate by not responding in a timely manner.

RSVPs is the single most budget-buster there is when it comes to a wedding. Until you can approximate how many people are going to attend, you will be on pins and needles until they do. You are unable to move forward with the next phases of planning, like table arrangements, favors, and most importantly...advising the reception location how many people they need to seat and order food for. Thus people kill me by not RSVPing on time! If they would just realize that by not replying, they could very well end up without a chair to sit in and no food to eat, it would make everyone's lives a little easier. But people will never get it, unless they've been down their own horrible wedding planning road. So to keep your sanity, here's some good advice:

Create two lists- Addresses and Phone Numbers: When you're sitting down with your parents and in-laws-to-be to create the guest list, make sure you obtain both addresses and phone numbers of everyone on the list. If they do not have the phone numbers handy, ask for it as soon as possible. Or ask for another means of contacting them, such as email or facebook. Obtaining phone numbers in advance will help on the back end when people are late replying. You will be able to call them and either remind them to send back the reply card, or you can get their reply right over the phone.

Assign an early RSVP date: When creating your invitations, whether via professional vendor, online services such as Shutterfly, or with a boxed set from the local crafts store; assign an early RSVP date. The earlier the better when it comes to RSVPing. Give your family and friends enough time to reply, but give them a date that works for you..not them. Keep in mind, all reception locations have a drop dead deadline for your guest count. It could be 7 days before the wedding, it could be 3 days before. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and make that day your RSVP date! Count backwards from your wedding date to the date that the reception hall needs the numbers by, then count backwards again atleast another 7 days. What this gives you is TIME!!!! You will have an extra 7 days before the reception hall needs their numbers, to receive in late replies and you will have time to contact anyone you have not heard from, as that date dangerously approaches.

Follow the six week rule: Mail out your invitations atleast six weeks before your wedding. Preferrably, six weeks before that early RSVP date if possible. Keep in mind, that most people travel in the summer, so for a summer wedding, you can broaden that six weeks to maybe eight weeks; giving people more time to plan their vacation around it, or return home from vacay and get their mail. And always give more time for a destination wedding.

By doing the above items, you will not totally alleviate stress from the RSVPing process, but it will definitely minimize it drastically. And if this is not something you want to deal with, remember, you can always contact a professional. I have handled just the invites and RSVPs for several clients, just because they didn't have the patience for it.

Visit my website at www.mysimpleelegance.com, or email me at info@mysimpleelegance.com if you need help!

Bye for now Wed-heads!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dealing With Stress

Good afternoon Wed-heads!

Yes, I know it's Friday..I'm like five days late with my blog! I'm soo sorry! This week has really gotten away from me. Not even sure why I was busy every second of every day, but I was!  That happens when everything needs your attention, when everyone needs your time, and when every day is filled with many tasks to be done. Thus this week's topic: dealing with the stress.

Stress is defined as "a state of mental tension and worry caused by probems in your life, work, etc."  Stress while planning a wedding as a DIY Bride, in addition to dealing with life, work, etc should be defined as "hell on earth!" LOL I mean it truly is! When a bride decides not to hire a professional planner, she assumes all the tasks, responsibilities, and stresses that go along with planning; in addition to her already busy and stressful life. This is why we now have expressions like "Bride-zilla" and "Monster-inlaw"! Because the enormous amount of pressure can cause a bride and other family members to simply...snap!



As a professional, I have always been on the fence about DIY Brides, siting the challenges and accolades it brings having to do it all yourself; so I do not always recommend it. But since I care about my fellow Wed-heads, I am committed to helping you achieve the most beautiful and memorable wedding possible as a DIY Bride. So here are some ways to deal with the stress.

1. Be and Stay Organized. If you've been following my blog, you know that day 1 I suggested pulling out all those magazine pictures and Pinterest ideas, and putting them into a binder divided into each wedding category such as Ceremony, Reception, Flowers, Entertainment etc. So hopefully you followed suit. If not, do not do anything else until you do!  It is imperative to be and stay organized throughout the entire planning process, if you want to avoid or decrease stress. Keep your contracts, contact info, color swatches, and other pertinent info in this binder. And then keep the binder in your work bag or the trunk of your car. You never know when you may need it! Protect this binder with your life if need be! LOL It is your wedding planning bible!  Having everything in one organized place, allows for better preparedness and communication. And that will always alleviate stress.

2. Keep track of important dates/times. Stay on top of venue/vendor meetings by adding the dates to your calendar on your cell phone. We all walk around with our phones attached to our hands nowadays, so why not have important appointments handy at the swipe of your finger. Plug in the meeting date and time, but also add a reminder in for the day before your appointment. By getting a reminder the day before, you have time to get prepared for the meeting, such as writing down any questions you may have, or putting pertinent samples and documents in your binder you may need. Forgetting meetings and documents are a huge cause of stress for brides when you don't have a professional to remind you of these things.

3. Keep a checklist. There are tons of websites, such as The Knot.com, devoted to giving you planning checklists to help keep you on track. Most checklists will advise you when you should accomplish certain tasks during your planning process, such as when you should mail your invitations etc. Find a list that works for you and stick to it. Make sure you mark it off as you go. If you dont, you will end up forgetting something and redoing tasks unnecessarily. Causing you unneeded stress.

4. Stay on budget! No seriously, stay on budget. I can not stress it enough. The biggest stressor most brides have is MONEY! DIY Brides always want what they can't afford, and there's no one willing to break their hearts and tell them no. That's usually a planners job to politely keep them on budget and excited about what they can actually afford. I'm usually the devil sitting on my client's left shoulder screaming in her ear about her budget! LOL But that's my job.  As a DIY Bride, you have to be your own Money Police! LOL Again, if you've been following my blog, keep your budget spreadsheet in your binder and resort to it whenever you get the urge to overspend.  Since money is half the battle when it comes to wedding planning, don't make it a part of the battle. If you stay on budget, I promise you, you will reduce 90% of your stress, guaranteed.

5. Ask for help. Enlist the help of your fiance', your girls, your mother..anyone that will help. You can not do it all, even if you think you can. Balancing home, work, and life in general is a dauntng task in itself. Yes, all women are Wonder Woman! But we don't always have to be. Ask others to help and that frees up your time and energy for other things.

6. Balance the wedding planning. Do not let planning your wedding consume you! It does not have to be your every thought or fill your every waking moment. You surely will snap if its all you think about. Plan some down time around the planning. Maybe only do wedding errands two weekends a month, and the other weekends get out and enjoy yourself. Or schedule meetings only on Saturdays before noon; that way the rest of the day is yours to do nothing or to spend time with your fiance. Either way, plan the wedding, don't let it plan you.

7. Make planning fun and stress free. Finally, do things with your fiance or your girls that makes planning enjoyable. Get a massage or a spa treament before going to your hair/makeup trial. Go out dancing the night before your meeting with the DJ to get song ideas for him to play. Or plan a camping trip or other outing one weekend with the entire wedding party; have fun while getting them all together at once to give them much needed info like hotel info, arrival times etc.

Bottom line, when and if you feel yourself getting stressed by the planning process, because there will be a little stress, take a few days off from it. Forget about it for awhile and clear your head. You will return to the table with a clear mind and a refreshed attitude. And then if that doesn't help...hire a planner! LOL

Next week, we will discuss RSVPing. Its number two on the list of stressors, right after money. But I'll show you ways to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to deal with them.

Until then, Wed-heads, have a great weekend!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Alternative Thinking

Good afternoon Wed-heads!

This week's blog is about alternative thinking. And what I mean about alternative thinking is, elegant ways to make your wedding stand out from most. I'm not talking about discount online invites vs. pricey special order invites...I'm talking left field, left of center, out of the norm, out of the box, off your cuff..alternative thinking.

Now this element to wedding planning is completely cool if you're adventurous; and terribly scary if you're not. Regardless of your comfort level, I'm sure you still want something unique to take place at your weddding. I mean, do you really want your wedding to be a copycat of your cousin's wedding from last summer? Hell to the naw! So let's figure out how out of the box you are, and things you can do that will suit your personality and budget!

So since you're a DIY Bride and are planning everything yourself, you will have to decide if you want to plan something hard or easy. It all depends on you, your mood, your budget and the professionals you hire. If you want something unique but don't have the temperment, budget or the time to see it through so it runs smoothly, then that's perfectly fine. And if you want somethng over the top outrageous, and have the money for it, then that is cool too. Either way, if you plan and execute it right, you'll have the DIVA wedding you've always wanted.

The first way to set your wedding a part from the traditional is, Location, Location, Location! Location will make or break a wedding. You will always need a place that will accommodate the number of expected guests for either the ceremony, the reception or both. The location has to be both functional and beautiful. Your location can be grand in scale or very quaint and simple. It can also be a reflection of you and your fiance, or it can be a reflection of your budget. Regardless, get a fabulous location to set your wedding a part from the traditional. Some examples of fab venues:
  • Museums
  • Art Galleries
  • Wineries
  • Barns
  • Historic sites
Now a fab location will require some extra work than say having your ceremony/reception at a typcal banquet hall. The reason being...most everything will have to be brought to the site! You will possibly need to rent chairs, tables, and linens. You will need a caterer that can transport your menu in large quantities and provide chaffing racks to keep it hot; and wait staff to assist with set up, serving, and clean up. This might cost you a pretty penny on top of the cost to rent out the space. BUT, if you do your research, I'm sure you will find somewhere that will be similar in price to the typical banquet hall reception. For example, rent out the art gallery, find a party rental supplier for tables/chairs/linens and a caterer with bar and wait staff all for $10,000...the same as what you would pay at any typical hall. So having a unique location will require you finding the perfect place, at the perfect price, and the perfect vendor that will work the heck out of it!  You will have to have alot of time and temperment to pull this off. But if your desire is there, go for it!

Another way to set your wedding apart is through the various Menu Trends. If you haven't guessed by now, there are four things that guests will remember about your wedding...the location, the food, how you & the wedding party looked, and the entertainment. I'll be honest with you, most people just go to weddings for the free food and drink! LMBO Sorry to burst your fairy tale bubble! But it's true! Most people want a culinary experience outside of their everyday routine. So you know what, give it to them!!! Go outside the box and do something radical with your menu if your budget allows it. Like instead of doing the typical cold chicken and rice dish, splurge on beef and fish entrees.  Matter of fact, if your guest count is low, go all in and do the prime rib! Who doesn't love prime rib?!  Here are some other budget friendly menu trends you can try:
  • Appetizers and Tapas selections (bit size, shareable portions)
  • Family Style Seating and Dining (large meal portions designed for passing around a long table of guests)
  • Special Gourmet Cuisine (your entire menu dedicated to a particular food genre such as comfort food, Thai food, Mexican, even Vegan entrees)
  • Instead of a standard 3 or 4 tiered cake, offer individual sized Mini Cakes; or Cupcakes.
  • Dessert bar or Candy table
  • Offer a Signature Drink created just for you and your fiance. Have it made of liquors and fruit juices that will match your wedding colors!

And finally, another way to make your wedding day unique is to create an Experience for your Guests. Remember we talked about creating themes and experiences a few weeks ago? Now is your chance! How unique will it be to embed a theme into your day that your guests will remember for a lifetime! But like I said don't go overboard! Do something simple, do something over the top...just make sure you do it elegantly! Some ideas:
  • During your ceremony, you and your husband have a tree planted, or give out seeds to your guests for them to plant. Something you and others will be able to see/visit for years to come.
  • Hold a traditional ceremony based on religious beliefs; include attire, music, readings etc.
  • Same goes for a traditional military ceremony with uniforms, swords drawn etc.
  • Have your officiant perform a Sand Ceremony instead of lighting the typical unity candle.
  • Incorporate a cultural custom within the ceremony or reception. As long as it isn't dangerous! LOL
  • Select a theme you can execute during the ceremony without looking cheesy. For example, I did a wedding where the theme was "Cinderella". The bride arrived in a horse drawn carriage, her groom put on a silver slipper, and they released doves once pronounced husband and wife. And we pulled it off with elegance!

So Wed-heads, there are many ways that you can use alternative thinking to plan your wedding. Just remember, do not go over budget and do not go overboard!  Wow your family and friends without going into debt or ending up on Intagram and You Tube! LMBO

Until next week, take care!






Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weddings Gone Wrong!

Morning Wed-heads!

Ok first things first...it's Wednesday, not Monday, and I'm soo sorry I'm late with my blog! I have back to back events and Monday and Tuesday were crazy busy. I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long. LOL

This week we're going to discuss Weddings Gone Wrong. It's not something we planners like to talk about, things going wrong at events. But let's face it, s#$t happens when someone does not do their job, or when a DIY bride didn't have a "plan b". I do not want that happening to you! So here are some videos of wedding mishaps that could have been easily prevented with a little thought and preparation.
Hiring professional wedding vendors

Don't take any chances!
Okay, so once you've seen these videos, you will undrestand how important it is to plan for the unexpected!
The first video, a couple's first dance goes horribly wrong because of the DJ, is problem number one of mishaps on your wedding day. VENDORS NOT DOING THEIR JOBS!! If you think you're coming out ahead by saving money on a vendor, think again!!! Its the age old sayng, "you get what you pay for." Don't pay $150 for a DJ and think your reception is going to be good. There's a reason why that DJ can only charge $150...because he knows he sounds like a train wreck!  Any professional wedding vendor who is going to do their very best for you, will charge you an industry standard fee. Expect to spend no less than $500 and up on a good DJ, photographer, videographer etc. Anyone charging less than that may not be worth it. Hire professionals with documented work, verified credentials, great reviews, and years of experience.
But even if you do hire documented professionals, always have Plan B!!! For example, the couple in the video could have had a back up CD or flash drive on site to prevent this mishap. Most reception halls have bridal suites, and in less time than it took for these "DJs" to completely blunder their first dance; they could have had the best man run to the bridal suite and get the CD of all the special songs that needed to be played. Now they could not had helped their vendor being complete idiots and interrupting the dance once they finally got started, but in the very least the awkward silence and pauses throughout the ordeal would have been resolved.
The second video is a compilation of wedding mishaps that can definitely go wrong the day of. I cringe at the sight of it, like I know you will. But some of these crazy things could have been prevented. For example, don't take chances moving your wedding cake! Have a professional place it and leave it there! And a professional baker will have made a sheet cake for wait staff to pre-cut; your tiered wedding cake being for show, the sheet cake for actual cutting and serving. So if by some chance that your cake falls, there is a back up in the kitchen.
We all want those stylish wedding pictures in quirky settings. But if it does not look safe, don't do it! If there's a chance you or your wedding party will fall and hurt themselves, or worse, get too dirty for pictures LOL, don't do it! Let your photographer get the shots, but do it wisely. What would be worse, not getting a picture? Or getting admitted to the hospital on your wedding day???
And ladies, when all else fails, have two things on hand on your wedding day: 1) Give your maid/matron of honor a few items to keep handy in a purse or in the bridal suite, in case you dirty your dress. There is always the possibility you could get makeup, dirt, or food on your dress. For quick spot cleaning, keep a travel size bottle of baby powder on hand to mask the spot; and safety pins and thread to patch a tear in case you mistakely step on your train or rip a sleeve . And 2) Keep a back up wedding dress in the bridal suite. It does not have to be another full gown, but a simple white dress that you can slip into in case something horribly goes wrong..like you fall into a lake, or you slip in some mud from last night's rain. This dress is strictly back up in case spot fixes won't work. It's not an ideal situation to wear your back up dress, but its better than going through the rest of the day looking a hot mess!!!
So in short, always have a back up plan. Think and prepare! We hope you only have one wedding day, so make it as close to perfect as possible. Develop a plan B for anything that can go wrong that would completely ruin the day for you. And let others know about your plan, in case they have to execute it for you.
Next week, we will discuss alternatives to traditional thinking..how to set your day apart from other weddings!
Until then, happy planning ladies!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Do's & Don'ts

Good morning Wed-heads!

What a beautiful day we're having in Connecticut today! OMG, I can not wait to get out and enjoy it. I have to shop for a few last minute items for two upcoming events. My two favorite things to do..shop and decorate for an event..combined into a few errands!!! I couldn't ask for anything more! LOL So let's get to work!

Last week, we talked about saving money while still trying to obtain every MUST HAVE item on your list. So now that you have some insight on how to stay on budget, let's take a look at some Do's and Don'ts you will encounter along the way.
DO'S
  • Do have a list of questions or concerns ready when meeting with your vendors. Questions are very much appreciated by all wedding vendors. We want you to be an informed client. When you are not, that makes our job more difficult. But when you have the power of knowledge, you are in a better position to make better choices with your money.
  • Do read every single word on your vendor contracts! Make sure every service item is listed that you requested and the price is as you've been quoted; make sure the event date/time/location is correct; make sure the vendor knows what time he/she has to arrive for set up; make sure the vendor guarantees services that day even if he/she has to get someone to fill in because they've taken ill and will notify you of the change. Just read and re-read the contract before signing. You do not want to sign a bogus contract and end up with a wedding nightmare!
  • Do make sure that once you sign your vendor contracts, that you understand their requests of you as the client. Obviously, vendors want you to understand how much you have to pay them, when their deposits and balances are due. But some wedding vendors add extras into their contracts, that you will be responsible for. For example, most wedding vendors such as photographers and DJs require that you provide them a meal during your reception. Don't laugh, this is a very common request! Some vendors will be working an 8 to 12 hour day to fulfill your contract. Set up time before your ceremony, services during the ceremony, services during the cocktail hour, then services for the next 5 hours at your reception. Just like you at your job, you need to eat! In the past, it was a friendly gesture that some clients would offer to provide a meal. But in today's wedding industry, most vendors put it in their contracts so there's no misunderstandings. So DO make sure you advise your reception hall of the extra meals you have to provide; DO make sure there is a vendor table set up for these vendors to eat at; and DO make sure you set aside the additional funds to pay for it.
  • Do make yourself a chart of when your vendor balances are due. Per their contracts, some vendors could have fine print that says if the balance is not paid by "this date", they are not obligated to provide services. Don't be the couple that forgets to pay their videographer two weeks before the wedding; and now has no videos! Make sure you know when to finish paying your vendors. And how much! Keep detailed records and receipts of payments as well.
  • Do make sure you set aside funds for dress alterations. Okay ladies, now I know the dress means everything to you! And your biggest wish is to find the PERFECT dress. Well you may find the perfect dress, but it will almost NEVER be the perfect size!  Because every size 10 woman is not the same shape in the bust/waist/hips, that size 10 dress may have to be nipped and tucked in some places. So you may think you're getting the dress of your dreams at a fabulous price, at retail stores like David's Bridal, but remember to add atleast $200.00 to the cost of the dress. Alteration costs vary depending upon retailers. And it could be cheaper to go to a local seamstress. But either way, whether it's just tightening the straps or letting the waist out completely, be prepared financially to cover it.
  • With that said, Do make sure the alterations will be ready before your big day. Make certain that the retailer or seamstress knows that you need your dress atleast two weeks before your wedding date. You will need time to do a final fitting when you go to pick up your dress. And you also want to try the dress on the week before your wedding, just in case the stress of planning gave you too many late night Cookie Dough ice cream cravings! LOL  Regardless, you want your now-perfectly-fitted dress in your possession as soon as possible!
  • Do make sure you set aside funds for undergarments as well. More than likely, your perfect dress will require a special bra, slip, or body shaper. Set aside some funds to make that purchase as well. So when you go back for a fitting, you will try the dress on with the undergarments and see how it will actually look on your wedding day. The retailer or seamstress will know how to proceed if the dress requires a little more/less adjusting.
  • Do a trial run for makeup and hair. Can you imagine if you didn't??? You could end up looking like an over-tanned raccoon! 'Nuff said!
  • Do ask for help if you need it! You can not do all of the planning and leg work alone. Ask your maid/matron of honor to help. Ask your mother for advice. That's what everyone is there for. Just a tip from what I did for my wedding: I asked several different people for help with the things that they were good at! For example, my mother loves to travel like I do. So I asked her to help me pick the hotel location for out of town guests. My mother-inlaw-to-be loves to sew and do other crafting, so I asked her to help me shop for decor and fabric because I was making special table runners for our reception. I asked my maid of honor to help me work on the favors. And of course, I asked my husband-to-be to help choose the invitations. Every person had a different job and took a special part in my big day. It helped them feel special and loved to be a part of it. And I can not tell you how much it meant to me to have had their love and support. Plus we had a blast doing it!  But if you do not have anyone you can count on, you can always hire a professional planner or decorator to assist you. You can always email me at, info@mysimpleelegance.com. I will be happy to help!

DON'TS
  • The biggest Don't I have on my list is, Don't forget to enjoy the wedding planning process! It's not stressful if you don't allow it to be. If you have read my blogs, and start planning early, it will be a breeze to get everything done on time and on budget.
  • Don't procrastinate! Do not allow time to sneak up on you. If you are taking my advice, you are starting to plan early and are getting as much accomplished when you can. Now life can not be about the wedding ALL THE TIME ladies, so do plan some down time away from wedding errands. But do not let days turn into weeks, turn into months! You will only be hurting yourself if you procrastinate. It will end up causing you stress you didn't have to have.
  • Don't get swindled. Do not let vendors try to sell you something you do not need or want. That's why I said, read your contracts, ask questions, don't sign anything you have not read, and most of all, do not pay for something that you didn't ask for. Unfortunately, we would all like to be trusting of everyone, but that's just completely unrealistic in this day and age of identity theft, ponsi schemes and other "get-rich-quick" cons. The wedding industry brings in millions of dollar each year. Vendors increase their prices 10%-15% just at the mere mention of performing services for a wedding. So be informed, be aware, and safeguard your money. Report any vendor that seems like a scam artist. You'll be protecting future brides from their mayhem!
  • Don't forget all of the important documents required when planning a wedding. I coordinated a wedding a few years back for a couple who seriously thought all you needed to be married, was a ceremony! They were young and very naive. The bottom line is, in order for your marriage to be legally recognized, you have to apply for a Marriage License in your city or state. Research all the requirements in your state. Most states just require your drivers license and a fee. Some may require a work visa/passport to verify nationality. And most states require that you get marired within a certain time frame after obtaining your marriage license, such as up to 90 days after the license has been issued. If you're going to a foreign country for your honeymoon, apply for a passport or update your current one if needed. If you need a park permit to have your ceremony in the rose garden downtown, get that paperwork taken care of in advanced as well. Other important documents you may have to obtain or ask a vendor to supply copies of:  Food/Liquor Service Permit (caterer), Vendor Insurance (DJ), Officiant License (Minister or Justice of the Peace). Make sure you know what you need, so you don't have any problems.
  • Don't forget to tip certain vendors! Some vendors, or staff members of vendors, do not get compensated enough for all they have to put up with. For example, do you think the driver of that party bus gets paid enough to deal with 12 drunken, rowdy wedding party members?? Nope, don't think so! Do you think that wait staff person is being paid enough to put up with your annoyingly needy aunt who wants a substitute for everything on your menu???? Nope, don't think so!  So in good faith that you will be getting the great service that you deserve, set aside tip money. Whether its just an extra $20 for the limo driver, or start the bar staff off with a $50 bill in their shared tip jar, make sure you do your part to make sure they give you service with a smile.

That's all of the Do's and Don'ts today! Wow, my brain hurts! It's definitely time for some sunshine.

Next week, we'll talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly....several scenarios of weddings gone wrong. And what to do to prevent it.
Til then, take care!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Money Saving Tips

Good afternoon Wed-heads!

I'm off to a very late start today. So let's get to work!

So the last few weeks, we have discussed creating a list of the MUST HAVE items that you absolutely have to have for your wedding; and creating a Theme around a color scheme, or a total experience for your guests. Today we're going to discuss how to incorporate everything you want, while staying on budget.

Now, you may be thinking that you already know how to save money; at the grocery store, at the mall. And I'm sure you are probably a couponing diva! But I'm going to give you some common sense money saving tips for your wedding, that is sure to make you have an "A-Ha Moment"!   Your MUST HAVE and Theme list will be checked off in no time, and your wallet will thank you for it.

Here's some ideas you can run with:



  • MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Ask vendors if they have any discounts or specials you can take advantage of. For example, reception halls charge less for Friday night weddings and Sunday events. Buffet style meals are cheaper than plated meals or butler service. And options like doing a three hour open bar package that turns into a cash bar the last 2 hours of the night, are always more wallet friendly.
  • A LITTLE EXTRAS GO A LONG WAY: Find a DJ or Band who offers extras like Uplighting, a Photobooth, or a Projector for your Monogram. It's cheaper to pay a small extra fee to one vendor, than it is to have to contract with two separate vendors.

    For example in the pictures above, I was hired as a Decorator for this wedding last Fall. For an additional fee, I rented my Uplights and positioned them as I was setting up the banquet hall. I created a simple monogram and then rented my Gobo Projector to project the image onto the floor. I worked with the DJ to make sure he knew how to turn the projector off after the couple's first dance. It saved the bride and groom tons of time and money; less people they had to pay and communicate with!
  • OUTDOOR VS INDOOR: Unless it’s a priority for you and your family, have an outdoor wedding. Usually having your ceremony at a church requires a ‘donation’ to be given. Also some churches do not allow you to decorate the way you want to. An outdoor wedding, depending on the site, maybe free or if your city requires you to have a permit for that park location, usually the cost is far less than a donation. But always have "plan B" in mind if the weather does not cooperate on your big day. :(
  • LIMO LIES: Have your ceremony and reception in one location. It will save you the cost of renting a limo. Standard limo rentals are based on a 4 hour minimum time slot and can be $700 and up. Why pay a limo for 4 hours, when you really only need it for 1 hour?! Most elegant banquet facilities have a smaller banquet room available, a gazebo, or even a lawn & flower garden, that you can make into a lovely ceremony site. The banquet hall may charge you a $2 per chair set up fee. But if you have 100 guests, that’s only $200 compared to $700+ for a limo to take you from the ceremony site to the reception site. So you’ll save $500+ up front. If you must have a limo, ask them if they offer a cheaper 1 hour pick up and drop off service, especially if your sites are not far from each other. If you need transportation because your sites are too far apart, rethink getting a limo, and rent a nice SUV from your local car rental place. And ask a family friend to drive you. Its far cheaper than a limo and you can keep the SUV over the weekend. It comes in handy for taking all your gifts and other leftovers home.
  • WE'RE BUNDLING BABY!: Choose a banquet hall that offers a package that includes your wedding cake. Usually the bakery they use have given them a discount upfront. Other banquet hall packages may include things like chair linens and DJs. Evaluate the prices of paying the banquet hall package vs paying for these things individually. I bet you'll find it's more cost effective using the hall's bundle package.
  • "IS IT LIVE OR IS IT MEMOREX?": Ok maybe only you 30somethings and up know what I mean by that...remember Cassette Tapes???? This was the slogan that Memorex, the largest manufacturer of cassette tapes back in the day, used to use to ask people to distinguish between live concert sound, or a quality recording on one of their tapes. Their point was, their tapes were so good, you couldn't tell the difference. In this case, I'm talking about  FLOWERS, FLOWERS, FLOWERS! Unless it’s a priority to you, consider Silk Flowers instead of real flowers; it could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars depending upon the flowers you have chosen. Different real flowers are only available at low costs during certain times of the year. If a florist has to import your Orchids or Calla Lillies from another country, you will pay an arm and a leg for them! Ask your florist if they work with silks. Or hire a Decorator who can work with high quality silks and create the same floral arrangements you fell in love with in that magazine, for a fraction of the cost! Your guests won't know the difference, and so what if they do!? You get to have all the beauty you've imagined, without going into debt. Silks are perfect! If by some chance Silk flowers are a dirty word to you, consider using something else as centerpieces. Ask the reception hall if they have candle holders or lanterns that you can use for free.
    Can you tell if these are real flowers or silk flowers?

  • WHY BUY WHEN YOU CAN RENT!: Renting your d├ęcor can save a few hundred dollars, and you won't have to worry about storing the items after the wedding is over. SIMPLE ELEGANCE EVENT PLANNING offers a vast array of Centerpiece Vases, Candle Holders, Lanterns, Ceremony Site Decor, and Chair Sashes to make your wedding day extra special.  Find a one stop shop vendor like me! It will save you time running from store to store looking for items. It will save you tons of money you can use towards something else on your MUST HAVE list. And it might even save your marriage! LOL I guarantee in 5 years, your partner will be happy when the basement/garage is not packed with leftover wedding stuff you never used again!!!!
  • LAY OVERS: When planning your honeymoon, traditionally couples leave the day after the wedding. Which is usually a Sunday. But keep in mind most airlines have cheaper departures on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  If you can, plan to wait a few days before you leave. You won't have to rush to leave and you can spend more time with out of town guests before they return home. You can't beat having more family time while saving money. Now that's a beautiful thing!

Hope some of these tips help you achieve all of your MUST HAVES while meeting your budget goals. If you have any questions about my Decorator Service or Wedding Rental packages, email me at: info@mysimpleelegance.com.

Next week, we tackle Do's and Don'ts...advice on possible mishaps you could encounter while planning your big day. Let's keep these pot holes from turning into gigantic sink holes!!!

Until then Wed-heads! Happy Monday!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Creating A Theme

Good morning Wed-heads!

OMG what a beautiful day here in CT! I can not wait to get out and enjoy it. But first we work, then we play!

Last week we discussed the importance of researching the best vendors and pricing for your big day. Check out the following link to the Central CT Post as a recap of what I talked about.
http://centralctpost.com/2014/05/26/tips-to-avoid-wedding-day-blues/

With today's topic, Creating a Theme, we move out of the "work" phase of planning, and into the "fun" phase! This is why I'm passionate about weddings...I love to decorate!!! I love creating a fabulous atmosphere that my brides and their guests will remember for a lifetime. Your guests may not remember the vows you spoke. They may not remember the food you served. But they WILL remember walking into the reception location, seeing the beauty and feeling the awe that you created for them. Notice I said, "...that you created for them." Thats right! Yes, it is your wedding day! But the entire point of having a full wedding celebration, instead of say eloping, is to experience and share your joy with others. So with that in mind, let's build a theme, that you AND your guests will absolutely love and remember for years to come.

The first step in building a theme is decidng if you want one! Themes essentially can be anything from a simple color scheme you want to use throughout the wedding, or it can be a total "experience" you want your guests to have on your wedding day. You will incorporate your theme into all of your wedding essentials, Save The Date cards; Invitations; Flowers; your Centerpieces; your Cake; and even your Favors.

To build a theme based on a color scheme is relatively easy. First, comb through the magazines I know you have hoarded under your bed! LOL Select the shade or shades of your favorite colors that you want to work with. I would then advise that you find either a fabric swatch or any tangible item small in size (a linen napkin, a piece of jewelry, a picture), that you can take with you EVERYWHERE as a reference point to make sure your color is not compromised. Take that article with you when shopping with your girls for bridesmaids dresses; when meeting with the reception hall to select linens for your tables; and especially when meeting with your florist. Visit websites such as The Knot.com, or purchase this season's bridal magazines to see which colors are "in", or what secondary colors will compliment your main color nicely. Remember you are going to incorporate your color(s) into everything, so make sure you love them and that they are pleasing to everyone's eye.

To build a theme on a total experience is alot harder to do, but oh so worth it! First decide what you and your partner are into. If you love the beach, then do a beach theme. If you love the great outdoors, you can do a rustic garden theme. Or if your cause is bigger than yourself, for example, you live a totally "green" lifestyle, then do that. It's totally up to you! What you do is, take the theme and build every element of your day off of it. For example, If you live "green", then use recycled paper for your invitations; have a reception site that is near the ceremony site so you and your guests can walk from one place to the next without using limos and reducing your carbon stamp for the day; or offer cupcakes instead of cake to lessen the amount of food waste. Using the picture above, this couple went with an outdoor rustic theme. You can imagine that their invitations were wrapped in burlap and the paper could have had an antique look to them. Their ceremony was more than likely held outside or perhaps in a rustic barn. Their decor probably had elements of wild flowers, plants and even fruits. From the picture, it looks as though instead of individual place cards, they went with seating cards displayed in a wonderfully rustic fashion that their guests could easily view in a beautiful setting. Creating a total experience is all about a "feeling" you want your guests to experience. However small scale or grand you decide to display it, visit The Knot.com or sites like Pinterest to help you discover ways to convey your theme nicely.
I will be the first to tell you, when creating a total experience, BEWARE of going over board!!!!

Sometimes brides get way too carried away with themes. Too much of anything is never a good thing! I'll give you a perfect example:

And this IS a true story. My husband who's a DJ, did this wedding a few years back. Now as a man and a DJ, LOL, he really did not pay attention to any of the decor when he first walked into the reception hall, setting his full concentration on providing the entertainment. It was only after the wedding when he noticed how far this bride went with her theme. The bride came over to him as he was packing up his equipment at the end of the night. She asked him if he would like "some fish to take home." My husband, still not paying attention, said "yes, thank you", thinking there was leftover food from the Caterer. Instead...and I kid you not...the bride reappears moments later with a small glass bowl with a LIVE FISH in it!!! Yes, I said it, a live fish! That's when my husband finally noticed the beach themed decor all over the rented hall. And this bride's FAVORS were live fish in a bowl! LMBO!!!!  Although a unique twist to a beach theme...and a cute pet for us for about 6 weeks....this is GOING TOO FAR!!!  Not only was this an outrageous expense to have purchased that many fish but the favor idea backfired! Most of the guests left their bowls on the tables, not wanting to deal with it. Not only was it money down the drain (literally because I'm sure she had to flush those fish), but what will the guests remember? The beach theme and experience the bride wanted to create? Or just the live fish? Do you want your wedding remembered as the fish wedding? LOL I think not.

So ladies, choose your theme wisely and execute it elegantly. Have fun wth it, but be conservative. Don't tape sea shells to the walls, or ask your guests to wear cowboy hats and mustaches to your wedding. How tacky and inconvenient for your guests! Execute your theme to the fullest, but make sure everything is pleasing to the eye and completely representative of who you and your partner are. And if you need help, do not be afraid to contact a Decorator in your area, such as Simple Elegance Event Planning at www.mysimpleelegance.com. Not only will a Decorator advise you about how far you should go, but by hiring someone to execute your theme, you take the stress off of yourself or family members to get it done on your big day.

Next week, we'll discuss money saving tips for obtaining all of those MUST HAVES and incorporating your Theme, while staying on budget!

Enjoy your day, Wed-heads!
And remember, no fish! LOL


Monday, May 26, 2014

Research: Your Wants vs. Your Wallet

Good afternoon Wed-heads!

First and foremost, in recognition of Memorial Day, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for the service of all those serving or who have served our country. Thanks to the families and friends that have supported them every step of the way. The rest of us either don't know, or forget what it means to give yourself up for the protection of this country. We celebrate you and your sacrifice today and always!

Ok on to business. Today's blog will be short and sweet, so you can gain some info, but get back to spending the day with your family. Today we're discussing Your Wants vs Your Wallet. Research is key to staying on budget.

So last week you made a list of MUST HAVES and allocated a percentage of your overall budget to those items. Now calculate the dollar amounts of those percentages and create a spreadsheet. A very simple Excel sheet will do. So for example, designate the first column for a list of wedding items: Invitations, Ceremony, Reception, Flowers/Decor, Photographer, Videographer, DJ/Band, Cake, Dress, Tuxedo, Rings, Bridal Party Gifts, Honeymoon...these are just standard items. So add whatever extras you need. Then put the percentage or dollar amounts for each of those items in the column next to it. For example, if your overal budget is $20,000 and you want to spend 50% of it on the Reception, then $10,000 is your maximum to spend and should be entered in the column next to "Reception". If you have decided that 2% is enough to spend on Flowers, then $400 is your max and you enter that next to "Flowers/Decor". I just want you to have it on paper that these are the amounts that you should try to stay within for each item. The next set of columns will be filled in as you begin your research.

Research is critical when planning a perfect day. It can make or break your wallet; and if the right vendors are not chosen, you could end up with a wedding nightmare! There are several places where to begin searching for the right vendors that suit your budget. Obviously the Internet is king. There are tons of wedding sites, free and not free, where you can search for vendors in your area. Just hop on Google and begin! Comb the vendors' sites for a list of services, offers, discounts etc. If you find some of interest, add a column to the spreadsheet for each vendor. Enter their pricing into the spreadsheet, and see if it falls within your budget amount. If it doesn't, you know they are not a viable candidate to use for your wedding. For example, if it's going to cost you $15,000 to feed 125 guests at the new reception hall in town, but your budgeted amount is only $10,000; the answer is clear, move on to the next vendor because you can not afford this one.

Once you get some viable candidates, check out their approval ratings on Yelp and even the Better Business Bureau's website. Everything might look like it's coming up roses with this vendor, but they might have some dirty little secrets in the closet! So beware of anything that seems like it's too good to be true..it probably is.

Your next step is to hit every Bridal Show there is in your area! Become a bridal expo groupie! LOL Get in front of the vendors, ask questions, see how they treat you, experience what they have to offer. And finally, talk to people who have used these vendors in the past. Hop on a forum, check their reviews. Or if you know of someone personally, call them! Or ask around on Facebook and Twitter.

Word of Mouth referrals are actually your best friend. Every business owner can make a tantalizing brochure and offer pricing that makes you want to sign a contract asap...but if your cousin's girlfriend's friend used them in the past and screams "The food was horrible!" or "He really can't DJ!", then you know to walk away...your wants and wallet intact.

Finally, when you think you've found the perfect venues and vendors that fall into your budget, give yourself a few days to think about it before signing on the dotted line. So many brides lead with their emotions. Now is not the time for that! You have to be smart and treat this part of planning your wedding like a job. Be informed, be smart, be focused on your goal. Begin by contacting the vendor and build a relationship. Ask pertinent questions such as if your date is available; are there any discounts available; how much is the deposit; is it refundable if you need to reschedule/cancel due to an emergency. Then and only then do you schedule an appointment, read the contract thoroughly, and last, put a deposit down.

Once the research is over and the contracts are signed, the "work" is done. Now on to the fun stuff!! Creating an atmosphere you and your guests will remember for a lifetime! Next week, we'll talk about themes and trends.

Until then, Wed-heads, Happy Memorial Day!


Monday, May 19, 2014

When to Start Planning & Building A Budget

Good morning, Wed-heads!

So last week, we talked about how very important it is to pick a good date for your wedding. Whether it is a date that has special meaning to you and your fiance', or if it's a date that's just convenient; that date will matter most when planning your wedding.  Your wedding date is not only the beginning of your new life together, it is your GUIDELINE!!!!

It is your road map, your yellow brick road, your light at the end of the tunnel. All of the many details for your wedding day have to be planned and finalized before that day, in order to be executed properly on that day. So it is imperative to use that date as a guideline to when you start planning.
Most professionals will tell you to begin planning your wedding 6 - 8 months before your wedding date. And if you are thinking of doing a destination wedding, then begin planning 1 year before your wedding date. Either way, starting sooner rather than later will save you alot of stress during the process. And it will allow you to have down time as your date approaches. Imagine being able to sit back and relax two weeks before your big day, knowing that every T is crossed and every I is dotted!
Now, every little girl dreams of her wedding day, well most of us do. So you may already have some ideas of where you'd like your ceremony and reception, what kind of flowers you want; and some of you Wed-heads may have already had your dress picked out before you got the ring! LOL If thats the case, the first step in planning is to develop a Budget.

I know, I know..it sucks to have to talk money when it comes to your wedding day. Like the commercial says, it's "priceless"; you can not put a dollar amount on your hopefully once-in-a-lifetime day!  SMACK! Do you know what that is? Me slapping you back into reality! LOL C'mon ladies, this is not the movies or a fairy tale, somebody has to pay for this wedding, and it is up to you to determine how much it's going to cost them!
Here's how to build a budget:
1. According to several sources, the average amount spent on a wedding in the United States is $28,000. Start by talking to your fiance', your parents, or look at your own bank accounts. Sit down with all the parties involved that will be paying for the wedding, and determine what you can actually AFFORD to spend and what you are WILLING to spend on the wedding. You may want a $28,000 wedding, but perhaps you can only afford to spend $18,000. And that is perfectly fine! You can have a fabulous wedding on most budgets. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you still need to live (eat, pay rent, pay bills) before the wedding, and you need to be comfortable after the wedding. So decide on a dollar amount that will allow you to still eat steak and potatoes, not pb& j sandwiches after you're married!

2. Next, make a spreadsheet of what I like to call MUST HAVES. Must Haves are the wedding elements you've been dreaming about since you were 5. Pull out all of those magazine pictures you've been hoarding and make a list of what you absolutely can not do without on your wedding day.  It could be a desired location, a particular dress, a special flower, or something sentimental like flying in that long lost loved one to share the day with you. Ask your fiance to write his/her own list, and you combine the two.

3. And last, allocate a percentage of your total budget amount toward each of those Must Haves. For example, if the most important Must Have is the reception location for you, then say you'll spend 50% of your budget on that. If the flowers are next in line of importance, then allocate 10% to that. And if there is something on your list that is not that important, say for example, renting a limo, then designate a small amount of 2% on that. Its really up to you how you determine what you want to spend. What's most important is having a rule book to follow.

So in closing, as the expression goes, "The early bird gets the worm." The sooner you start planning, the sooner you will get what you want, at the price you can afford! Its that easy.

Next week, we will discuss researching venues and vendors on your Must Have list. Research is key to finding the perfect match between your wants and wallet! Until then, Wed-heads!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Picking A Date!



Hi fellow Wed-heads!

First, let me say congrats to you and your fiance'!!! Because if you're reading this, you now have the ring and are on your way to planning your big day.
And if you're anything like me, you love all things weddings! I am most passionate about several things when it comes to weddings; bringing design to life, staying organized, and helping my clients stay on budget.

My name is Taryn Renee', and I am the owner of Simple Elegance Event Planning.  I am a member of the prestigious Association of Bridal Consultants, and a member of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, Middletown, CT.

My business was founded in 2009 on one simple principle, that every couple should be able to have the wedding of their dreams, even on a small budget. And after planning many weddings, milestone birthdays, bachelor parties, and a family reunion these last few years, I believe that through organization, attention to budgets, and a lot of creative thinking will allow you to have all the things you want most at your wedding, even if you are not rich and famous.

It’s HOW you approach it that’s key. In this age of Do-It-Yourselfers, most brides are opting out of hiring full service event planners. I applaud your enthusiasm. And I'd love to give you a step by step guide to creating a magical day. Just remember, you will have to be smart, savvy, strict in some areas, and flexible in others. I’m here to show you how!
Step One: Pick A Date
When selecting a wedding date, you should do one of the following:
  • Choose a date that is significant to you and your fiance. Some couples like to get married on or around their dating anniversary. While in recent years, some couples have chosen holidays such as Halloween, Valentine's Day and New Years Eve as their big day and design a theme around the holiday. Stats also show a significant increase of couples choosing trendy, once in a lifetime calendar dates such as 7-7-2007 or 4-4-2014. And some couples just go with the flow; choosing whatever date their desired ceremony/reception location has available!
  • Select a date that works best for both of your families. When picking a date, you want to make sure you do not choose a day when another wedding or family event is going on. Sometimes it can not be helped, but if you already have an invitation to your cousin's wedding in June, don't pick that date! Or if you know this is the year for the big family reunion out of state, definitely stay away from that date as well. What you do not want to happen is that family members choose the family event over your wedding and not come. You want a date when the majority of everyone can conveniently attend.
  • Time of Year.  Obviously, the Spring and Summer are the best times to travel if you live in the New England area. Selecting a date during the better weather months is always a considerate thing to do for your potential guests. But choosing a date over a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day or July 4th is never good. Many people plan their vacation around holiday weekends, so this may cause conflict if their trip is the same weekend of your wedding. Unless you don't want alot of people to attend, LOL, pick an otherwise boring weekend for your big day.
So the bottom line is, picking the perfect date will assure the maximum amount of guests that will attend and share this special moment with you. Be smart and choose a safe date!
Next week, I will begin discussing when to start making plans. Until then, Happy Planning Wed-heads!