Friday, September 2, 2016

A Walk Down The Aisle

A Walk Down The Aisle

 #YWEshow Philadelphia 2016
Image by Simple Elegance Event Planning

I’m still on cloud nine from meeting David Tutera at the "Your Wedding Experience" wedding expo in Philadelphia this past Sunday! Not only was this the first celebrity I've ever met, but Mr. Tutera is someone whom I admire greatly as a wedding professional. His classy, creative approach to events and business savvy with branding multiple products and services, is everything that I aspire to! Needless to say, I’m still on a “wedding high” from attending the show.

Ok, so meeting the guru wasn’t the only reason we attended the Philadelphia show. It was our ever constant quest to bring you DIY wedding ideas and tips to help you plan the day of your dreams, on a budget you can afford. That being said, there was soo many ideas and tips jammed packed into the #YWE show, that we couldn’t possibly share everything we viewed as we walked down the expo aisles. But I’ve definitely got some great info that we KNOW you’re going to love.

In order to get to-the-point info from the people that DIY brides want to hear from most, I developed four questions to ask planning, decoration, and entertainment vendors. My questions:

  • What products/services were being sought after most by your 2016 clients? By brides at the expo?

  • What seems to be the maximum dollar amount couples are willing to spend on that product/service?

  • Any tips/recommendations for couples shopping for these products/services?

  • What do you forecast as trends for 2017?

Hold onto your wedding planner ladies, here’s a quick guide to what’s hot and what’s not!

If you’re a “wed-head” and doing your research on all things wedding, you might know that the hiring of full service wedding planners have dwindled. In most part because in recent years, high end venues offer an on-site wedding coordinator to help couples plan their reception. So some brides think they do not need a planner if they’re automatically getting one by booking the venue. But what about all the other elements of the wedding? Those venue coordinators have nothing to do with budget planning, décor planning, invitations, booking vendors, ceremony details, and on and on.

So in 2016, brides are seeking help most with Day Of Services and pre-wedding details. Brides want assistance with the thousands of small tasks that are done months in advance to help create the big day.

 Stationary by Raspberry Creative; hire a planner to help you 
with pre-wedding details like these Save The Dates, Invitations, & Seating Arrangements
Image by Simple Elegance Event Planning

Most brides aren’t spending what they used to on planners, if they are hiring them at all. But the maximum amount they’re willing to spend is no more than $2,000 or less.

Professional planners recommend couples who are planning a destination wedding, to still find a planner to help. With the popularity of destination weddings on the rise, couples need planners to act as a liaison between them and the resort concierge at the exotic location they chose. The planner makes sure the couple has all the required paperwork and legal documents in order to have a legal wedding in that country, or even in that state; since other states and countries have different laws involved. And planners also make sure that the couples receive all the amenities they’ve paid for.

With the up rise in DIY wedding planning and online tools for couples to plan their own wedding, Planners forecast the trend in 2017 will continue to be couples seeking Day Of services. After all that planning on your own, the DIY bride has no one to execute all of the details. You want your mother and your girls by your side and not working that day, right? But you want everything to run smoothly. So ladies, you still need a planner! Budget accordingly!!

If you follow us on social media, you already know I absolutely adore wedding décor. I started as a planner but my passion is to create décor! So I must admit, I focused a little too much on all the stunning florals and linens at the expo. So when I spoke to a few decorators and a florist, they all said the same thing: Most 2016 brides are seeking WOW factor!

Brides want that extra special, custom piece that sets their wedding apart from the rest. Or that one unique area of the wedding that will be unforgettable to their guests. Brides are seeking gorgeous sweetheart table set ups, fabric backdrops, and lighting.

Brides with a great budget are willing to spend anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 on décor for the entire wedding; and between $5,000 and $6,500 on flowers alone.

I was stunned at the dollar amounts being spent! So I went the extra step to ask ok, what is a DIY bride to do with her small budget? They can’t afford those prices! Have no fear, the decorators recommend to go for the “little WOWs” at your wedding.

If you can’t afford expensive décor all around, “centralize the WOW”. For example, do a simple centerpiece on your guest tables, but make your sweetheart table over the top. You can also select tablecloths or overlays to make your wedding color pop, instead of using standard white or ivory linens provided by the venue. And use bright colors to make certain tables stand out. Hire a decorator or lighting specialist to do a monogram or uplighting to create ambience. Concentrate on one area of your ceremony or reception where you spend the most money on, and then skimp on everything else. That’s the key to WOW on a budget! And I agree!!!

 WOW factor by Soiree,etc, using this year's trending pink and gold color scheme, 
luxury lounge seating, and fab floral backdrop
Image by Simple Elegance Event Planning

As for trends in 2017, you’ll be seeing a lot more:

  • Pink and Gold as wedding colors…Silver is #dead

  • Vintage decor style is on the rise

  • Ghost (clear acrylic or Lucite) floral bases, chairs, tables are all the rage

  • Mirrored surfaces and centerpiece bases

  • Rentals of lounge furniture to create a lux seating area

  • Drapery to create eye candy or rooms within a room

 Over the top Sweetheart Table by Carl Alan Floral Designs; 
using Lucite candle holders, a mirrored table, & vintage florals
 Image by Simple Elegance Event Planning

When it comes to entertainment at weddings, everyone knows you need a fabulous DJ or kick ass band, to get your guests out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. And unless you’ve been on the planet Mars the last year or so, you know that offering a photo booth is also a huge hit at weddings. I mean, folks are going to take picture anyway, might as well make it a part of the festivities.

So I made it a point to speak with a few DJs and a few vendors that rent photo booths at the expo. And both vendors agree that most brides have sought out a kicked up DJ or photo booth package. This year couples aren’t looking for the same old musical experience. For example, one vendor said their best-selling package this year was a DJ, saxophonist and percussionist combo. Couples also want DJs who can do lighting and drapery as well. When it comes to photo booths, savvy brides are looking for “extras” that are included with the rental package, such as favors, scrapbooks, and customized pictures. 

 RhythMix Entertainment, specializing in DJs, videos, and Drapery
Image by Simple Elegance Event Planning

The average price being spent on all of these amped up entertainment options is between $900 to $1,100 for 4 hours of service; with an absolute max of $4,000. 

Entertainment vendors recommend communicating with your vendors more. Giving your vendors more information, so they can give you the best service possible using that info. They also said, if you’re working with a small budget, be upfront about it in the beginning. Don’t waste your time or theirs by asking about a high end service package knowing you can’t afford it. Be honest about what you want to pay, and they’ll work with you to create a bare bones package or offer you a special discount, such as mentioning that you attended the expo and you’ll receive a percentage off your price.

Moving forward, 2017 trends in entertainment seem to be:

  • Video Package add ons to your DJ service. DJs are offering TV monitors to showcase pre-wedding pics or video of the couple throughout the reception.

  • Hiring a DJ for the After Party! With reception venues cutting the party off at 11pm or 12am, couples are looking to keep the party going wee into the night. So they’re booking venues or arranging a party elsewhere and contracting their DJs for additional hours.

  • Next Gen photo booths. The latest photo booths to hit the market are smaller, compact, and very high tech. They have mirrored surfaces, touch screens, green screen virtual backdrops, and can upload your photos directly to your social media accounts.

 TapSnap - Philly, the next generation of Photo Booths
 Image by Simple Elegance Event Planning

So, in a nutshell, if you took a quick walk down the #YWE expo aisle like I did, you would have seen fab pops of color, intriguing ideas, and whole lot of WOW! Simple Elegance was so excited to have been in the building along with all that greatness. And we’re definitely happy to share all the juicy info we walked away with. 

And now that you’ve got the info, walk on over to our website, fb page or Instagram account! Our services seem to be on point with all of the wedding trends! NICE!!! We offer ala carte planning services, we create décor on a budget, our DJ is CT’s best kept secret, and our photo booth packages are crazy affordable! Hire Simple Elegance and you’ll be one happy bride walking down the aisle!

Find us at:  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Glastonbury Boathouse: One Blank Canvas, So Many Possibilities

The Glastonbury Boathouse:
One Blank Canvas, So Many Possibilities

Simple Elegance was started on the premise that all couples deserve the wedding of their dreams, even on a small budget. We achieve those dreams by offering a multitude of affordable services such as Planning, Decorating, Rentals, Music Entertainment, and Photo Booth Rentals. Each day we love bringing you inspirational ideas, designer looks for less, cool DIY tips & crafting advice. We know our audience is a trending breed of DIY Brides that not only love crafting, but love to save money by crafting!

So in our ongoing pursuit of all things fabulous yet frugal, we continue our exploration of gorgeous venues around New England. And this time, we’ve literally stumbled across The Glastonbury Boathouse, a perfect blank canvas for all your DIY dreams to come true!

                                          Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

                                                 Photo by Dan Cardon

Last week, I visited the Boathouse, and was given a tour by Kathryn Kell, Marketing & Communications Specialist for the Town of Glastonbury. Let me tell you, I was blown away by the building, the grounds, and the amenities that the venue has to offer. I was like, “Why haven’t I heard about this place!” And funny thing is, we did a Photo Booth Rental at the Glastonbury Community Center right next door last year, and I still didn’t know the Boathouse was there! But better believe, now that I know…so will you!

Let’s talk facts first. I asked Kathryn to tell me how the Boathouse came into existence. The construction of the Boathouse was partially state funded and it is owned by the town of Glastonbury. Kathryn explained that “the state wanted to grant people more access to the river for recreational activities”, while keeping residents and neighboring town residents in this part of the state, versus having them travel out of their way to the shore. By having a location close by, where people can enjoy the outdoors and the Connecticut River, not only sparks a sense of community pride, but adds economic benefits to the town. But Kathryn assured me, the town is not in it for profits! The rental fees are competitively priced and funds are mostly used to maintain the upkeep of the grounds and building itself. That speaks wonders to you couples who are trying to maintain your budget! That means you won’t have to promise your first born to pay for the rental! LOL!

The event space actually sits above an actual boat and kayak storage facility. Residents can store their water vessels and launch them right onto the river when they’re ready. The ground floor also houses an exercise room for the Glastonbury Crewe Team. There are separate entrances for the storage and training facilities, so you shouldn’t have any unwanted wedding crashers. The Boathouse has a full time event coordinator, Kristen Michaels, to act as referee when there’s sporting activities and an event happening on the same day. She makes sure nothing will interfere with your wedding! Kristen is also your point person for your event. She manages the production and execution of all the details that go along with having a wedding at the Boathouse.

Now let’s talk figures. The tour began in the main event space. The space can hold 75 to 300 guests, depending upon seating arrangements, for any corporate event or wedding. So it’s functional in that whatever size wedding you’re having; small and intimate or large and grand scale; the space will be exactly what you need it to be.  Rental prices are dictated by the day of the week and the length of time you need. Prices range from $675 for a week day corporate event, to $3,850 for a six hour Saturday wedding. The price includes the rental of the space, and tables and chairs for up to 150 guests. That's a good deal! Now it could be a hefty problem if you’re working with a very small budget. But they do offer special pricing for Friday night and Sunday events in the $1,300 to $2,800 range. So put on your budget savvy cap and bank on getting married on a Friday or Sunday when it’s affordable. 

There is an outdoor space right next to the water where a beautiful ceremony could take place. You can rent that for an additional $125 an hour. The venue only does one event a day, so you are getting the royal treatment for that price. As a planner, that’s HUGE when it comes to coordinating your day’s timeline. You won’t ever be rushed to hurry up and get in and out of the facility. And that means the world to a couple who might be running late, but still needs to fit in all the special festivities they’ve planned for the reception. And it is a big plus for your guests, who have full access and time to enjoy the picturesque water fountain and grassy landscapes surrounding the venue. So all of that might be worth the money to you.  

                                         Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

                                         Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

Now on to the amenities of the Boathouse. Let’s tackle the boring but important amenities. The Boathouse is conveniently located. A quick trip off 84 and Route 2 for me, Glastonbury is pretty centrally located in the state, so your guests won’t have an issue traveling to and from the town. The venue is also very close to a downtown area with hotels, restaurants, and shops. Which is extremely necessary for out of town guests.

Okay, with the business end done, DIY-ers, the moment you’ve been waiting for! You’d probably think it’s decorated in a traditional nautical fashion, being that this is a boat house. WRONG!!! This space is anything but nautical. Decked out in classic white walls and cool green toned shaker wall panels, this event space is a decorator’s dream come true!! So many times, I’ll walk into a venue and cringe at the drabby walls, the carpet from the 1960s, and the heavy patterned curtains that should never have been made! I usually have to “work around” the bad decisions that the event space builders made decades ago. From hiding bad paint jobs, to requesting the removal of hideous artwork, to having to staple falling wall paper, I’ve had to deal with it all, just to make a client’s décor look beautiful. The Boathouse has not made any such mistakes! You literally have a blank canvas in which to construct your Pinterest masterpiece. Any wedding style: traditional, rustic, shabby chic; anything works in the space because the space planners did a marvelous job of leaving out their two cents about what they wanted to see in the room, and left the décor up to what the consumer wanted! There are so many possibilities with the décor that can be placed inside of the room. If you create it, it will work! LOL

                                         Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

                                          Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

                                         Photo by Dan Cardon

Every inch of the room basks in the natural light that shines in from the walls of windows and a sky light near the main entrance. The windows have new age shades for after dark dinner and dancing. So don’t fret if you’ve paid your DJ for uplighting and you fear all the windows! The uplights will show up once the shades are down, trust me. 

                                         Photo by Dan Cardon

When I asked Kathryn what the best physical attribute of the event space was, she led me to a door off of the main room, and onto the balcony. Of course, the best attribute is the Connecticut River. The view from the balcony was exceptional. Panoramic views of the river, trees and shoreline all around you, will blow your guests away when they come out to the balcony for the cocktail hour. On a pristine day, some may not want to come inside for dinner! It’s that special!

                                         Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

                                         Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

                                         Photo by Dan Cardon

Kathryn and I then discussed the services that the Boathouse has to offer. The rental space exclusively uses a list of preferred vendors, made up of three caterers, two rental companies, and one audio visual company. So when you rent the space, you are required to use one of their highly recommended and sought after caterers, like David Alan Hospitality Group, Gourmet Gallery Catering, and Max Catering and Events. Equipped with a full catering kitchen, these vendors have access to everything they need to prepare and serve you an exquisite meal.

                                         Photo by Simple Elegance Event Planning

Now you might be thinking, you’d rather bring in your own caterer to save money. Nope, don’t do it! Kathryn explained to me that these vendors went through a state bidding process to give them exclusive preference to all Boathouse clients. And if you want to bring in your own caterer, you’ll have to go through a process of getting your caterer approved, vetted, insured; then you yourself will have to pay additional fees. Your best bet is to work with one of the caterers to find a menu that works well with your taste buds as well as with your wallet!

Also remember, when you decide to use a rental space for your wedding, and not a full service banquet hall, you usually have to bring in everything that makes the space functional. That means linens, china, flatware, and glassware must be rented. None of the exclusive caterers offer these services, so I recommend looking to the two rental companies that are preferred vendors. I have had a relationship with CT Rental Center for years, and I highly recommend them. I have just recently used Taylor Rental of West Hartford and were extremely happy with their service as well. So you definitely can’t go wrong with these vendors. As far as pooling together all of your rentals, Simple Elegance can coordinate the set up and tear down of the table & chair essentials, as well as any DIY decorations you may have.

                                           Photo by Dan Cardon

As I continued the tour, I inquired about bundled pricing, because I know our audience is constantly on the hunt for something special yet affordable. Getting more bang for our buck is king! But the Boathouse nor the caterers offer bundles. It would be cool if in the future, the entities could come together and create packages that include rental space and full service food service with tables/chairs/linens/dinnerware. As you guys know, that would mean so much to couples on a budget. Less vendors to get involved, the less money out of your pockets. Kathryn completely understands that perspective and intends to work diligently with their preferred vendors in the future towards bundled pricing. 

I strongly believe The Glastonbury Boathouse is a premier choice for your wedding day. If your budget is $27,000 and up, rental of this space is definitely doable. That budget will allow you $5,000 for space rental cost/ceremony set up/other miscellaneous fees; a menu of $90 per person for 100 guests plus tax/gratuity totaling $10,000; a $2,000 linen/dinnerware allowance, and a $2,000 decorations budget. As always, when every penny counts, I advise you to splurge on your MUST HAVES and skimp on the rest. If you don't have $10,000 for a full sit down or buffet style meal, talk to the caterer about doing appetizer stations and have your guests fill up on salad and pasta. If you don't want to pay the $125 for the ceremony space, inquire with the town about a permit to get married in neighboring Riverfront Park, then head over to the Boathouse. I'm just saying, where there's a will, there's a way. Don't let a small budget stop you from enjoying this venue.

There has been nothing but positive feedback from The Boathouse since they opened for business in 2015. Check them out at

The beauty of the CT River is the super star; while the blank canvas of the event space plays a leading role. There are always pros and cons for every venue. But The Boathouse captures what DIY-ers hold most dear, a vehicle that will allow everything they’ve created for their wedding day to shine, without being hindered by an ugly duckling carpet, or the white elephant in the room wall paper from the ‘70s. At this venue, you can truly make it what you’ve always dreamed about. By making good choices when renting and planning your menu and linens, you can do it on a modest budget; just be your savvy self and get it done! Use The Glastonbury Boathouse to create your work of art!

Editor's Note: Updated website link and rental costs 5/25/16