Southern Traditions to Ditch

Southern Traditions to Ditch

February 6, 2012  |  Wedding Tips  |  3 Comments

Here in the South, we’re pretty traditional. While there are some traditions that should always be incorporated (a post to come on that!) there are a few ones to reconsider.

To every bride who thought… they’d never see the groom beforehand.

Let me put one of your fears to rest, seeing the groom very rarely changes the reaction of the groom as you walk down the aisle. This is for one of two reasons: 1.) Most grooms aren’t about to cry in front of that many people. Even if they want to, they are telling themselves not to react. 2.) Seeing you before is quite different from when you’ve got your veil on, dad on your arm and those doors swing open and the music is playing. It’s such an incredible moment that if they are going to cry, seeing you before won’t stop it. Want to spice it up? Have flower girl hand the groom a sweet note right before the ceremony starts!

To every bride who thought… their invitations needed to be simple and formal.

From reviewing my sales, I’ve found our modern colorful designs are purchased mostly from brides outside of Louisiana while our more traditional designs are purchased almost exclusively by brides from Louisiana. Because brides, for the most part, get married in Louisiana at a younger age, parents pay for the wedding and have more say in design aspects. I’ve seen countless times moms expect the invitation to look the same as the invitations they are accustomed to seeing.

If you are a bride hoping for something outside the box, how can you find a compromise? Make sure the QUALITY is high. Even colorful designs can still look formal on high quality paper and great printing. Also, consider designs that have spot color rather than full color and even double envelopes.

Note: If you are a bride who WANTS a traditional invitation, do it!

To every bride who thought… you needed tons of family pictures on the altar.

As you make your portrait shot list, think about what photos will be framed. Do you have an ill grandmother that will likely make this your last family photo of everyone together? Will you print photos of you will each bridesmaid? I have seen one million different combinations of pictures. Bride, Groom, Brother, Mom, Dad. Now one without brother. Now one without mom and dad. Many of these will likely never be printed but the cost was high to take them. Formal portraits can take as much as 30 minutes…of that wedding you paid so much for, remember?? ; ) Keeping the list as short as possible or taking them beforehand is ideal.

To every bride who thought… an aunt or friend could handle coordinating the day.

This is so common here! I’ve known several friend who had an aunt coordinate their wedding day that worked perfectly. These were usually relatives that planned all the family events and had tons of wedding day experience.

The perk of hiring someone for this position is being able to get what you want. I’ve had people do me favors before and it’s really hard to ask for changes or put too much on their plate because it’s a favor. Pay someone so you don’t feel bad putting them to work. You will get so much more out of it.

Next up, a few of my favorite Southern Traditions!

Healthy Bride = Happy Bride

February 1, 2012  |  Wedding Tips  |   |  No Comments

This post is long overdue! I’ve had brides tell me they got ulcers or shingles, gained or lost a tremendous about of weight while planning their wedding. Most cases had other significant stressers happening at the time, like school or family issues but it still got me thinking how important it is to stay healthy throughout the planning process. Our gut reaction is to devote everything we have to the issues in our life and neglect our health but taking care of ourselves will make more difference than we think!

Here are a few tips to get you back on your A-game!

EXERCISE

Not only for the obvious health benefits of staying in shape. Exercise also keep your moods lifted through extra stressful times. Nothing like a run to take our minds off that darn family member that we just can’t make happy. And, it gives you more energy. Your lives are busy enough. Cramming wedding planning in can be exhausting. Exercising as a form of getting MORE energy always seemed counter-intuitive. But every morning I workout, I’m amazed at how much energy I have for the rest of the day. 30 minutes of running for a full day of feeling good? I’ll take it! My head knows it but this is one I really struggle with. It always SEEMS more productive to get a head start on emails instead of workout but I’m reminding myself, right here, of the benefits of exercise.

JOURNAL

This is a biggie I’ve been getting into lately! When I journal, I write whatever is in my brain. It’s not even always actual sentences. What comes out may be the problems I’m trying to sort through or stresses I’m facing. I’ve had so many instances where I’ll be writing out a problem and I’ll literally write the answer immediately after finishing that sentence. Simply taking the time to push those thoughts from being subconsciously buried in our minds (those are the thoughts that come back to us in the middle of the night, by the way) to the front of our mind allows us to think of a solution for it. Try this! You’ll be amazed at the insight you’ll gain.

SLEEP

Like I said, you are super busy! It can seem like the only way to get things done is to stay up till dawn. Avoid it at all costs unless you plan on sleeping in the next morning. Sleep deprivation causes us to be cranky or foggy when we do it for long periods of time.  Decisions me make when half impaired don’t ever have the results possible from a good night’s sleep. Have trouble following asleep? Right down everything racing through your mind and put a sound machine on! I LOVE my sound machine, y’all! It’s mostly to drown out the husband’s snoring : ) but I’ve found I sleep so much deeper and fall asleep quicker with it. The other night I stayed up thinking of a million different things and didn’t know why. I usually don’t do that. Then I realized, my sound machine wasn’t on.

LEARN TO SAY NO

Ok so in your case, you really can’t get everything done in a day unless you stay up till dawn. Start learning how to say no to things. I’m reading a book called Organized Simplicity and it reiterated this idea. Keeping your day with minimal scheduled items will free you up for a post-dinner coffee date with your friend who always encourages you or a laid-back evening with your fiancé. Remember past instances where you’ve committed to something you weren’t sure about and how it played out. Did you not want to go 10 minutes before? Playing the scenario out and knowing how you’d respond may help give you the courage to say no.

AVOID PROCESSED FOODS

This is tough for me! I love healthy foods and am good a lot of the time but when I eat sweets or fried food, I DON’T MESS AROUND! ; ) For me, the easiest way to eat clean is to have a cheat day on Saturdays where I’m able to eat whatever I want.  Knowing that I have that on the horizon, helps me say no to other things. I read several experts say cheating one day a week is actually good to keep our metabolism going. Otherwise our body goes into store mode when we stay on intense diets. There are several documentaries I’ve been watching that talk about all the affects of a healthy diet on our body. One of my favorites lately has been “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.”

What do you do to stay healthy during stressful seasons?

Organization App

January 17, 2012  |  Wedding Tips  |  3 Comments

I wanted to share my favorite iPad app that my sister recently introduced to me! It’s perfect for all you brides-to-be who just got engaged as well as everyone who’s still keeping those New Year’s Resolutions! : )

It’s called List! It’s simple but Natalie showed me a great way to utilize it. We’ve all made goals I’m sure for the New Year. I’ve broken down my goals into categories. I think doing this helps to cover all your bases when making goals. Mine below.

From there, under each category, I have GOALS, HABITS and TO DO. Goals are one time things that I’m striving to reach. Habits are things I want to incorporate into my daily life (i.e. drink a cup of green tea every morning). To Do is my list of things to help me reach both of these categories. (i.e. buy green tea).

This will work similar for brides. Instead of having, “social” or “financial” as lists, you can have each category for your wedding (i.e. cake, flowers, attire, etc.). GOALS will be your overall vision, what you’re hoping to do in each category. Instead of HABITS, you may have VENDORS along with notes of what you think of each as you meet with potential vendors. And TO DO for all those steps that will help you finalize each aspect of the wedding.

I hope this helps stay organized! What are your favorite organization apps?

One Year Later

September 27, 2011  |  Southern Fete News, Wedding Tips  |  2 Comments

Tyler and I celebrated our 1st anniversary on Sunday. We went through our catalog of memories from this year that one of my best friends gave me. We took a photo a la pinterest, that we will take each year forever. We watched our wedding DVD, ate cake (I’ve only been waiting to do that for 6 months!) and got a little silly! We’ve had the one remaining can of silly string that was used for our exit sitting on our dressing this whole year. Tyler and I ended on anniversary playing outside in silly string! It was an amazing day celebrating our journey together so far.

I’ve felt for a while now that this world doesn’t do the best at showing how great marriage can be (more thoughts here). It truly has been the best year of my life. Better than buying a wedding dress or preparing for one of the biggest days of our lives. Better than even college (which I LOVED!).

We live life together. When I finish up a day doing work that I love, I’m excited to head home to the man that I love even more.

These past two weeks I had planned to blog every day. That hasn’t happened. This year I promised myself to learn better balance. You can’t have balance without remembering your priorities. And my marriage is one of my highest priorities. It has to be for it to, not just last, but to live up to the potential God created it to be.

Brides, you have an amazing life ahead. Don’t get too bogged down or stressed about working on the details. An engagement was not just created to have time to plan the big day. It’s a time to plan for a lifetime together. I challenge you, through this process, to let people see your love. I think photographers have the best opportunity to see that love between a couple when they shoot engagements.

Why do we forget to share that?

For the rest of us, the bulk of what we see isn’t the love but the logistics. We see brides roll their eyes at grooms when they try to give their opinion or grooms ignore brides when they are talking. I’ve seen several grooms on their wedding day who honestly didn’t look thrilled to be there, maybe for the sheer fact that you don’t think it’s cool to show that you’re excited to be a married man.

Jason, our photographer, left this photo on my desk with a note I’ve kept since then. He said seeing our love inspired him to love his wife even better than before.

It still makes me tear up to think our love has the power to inspire others!

Brides, you have an awesome opportunity. All eyes are on you and your groom. What will they see? A frantic bride and checked out groom? Or a truly inspiring love?

To Everyone But the Bride

September 23, 2011  |  Wedding Tips  |  2 Comments

I’m pretty fired up this morning and felt the need to post this.

Why why why do people INSIST on putting a bride in such an uncomfortable and stressful place.

Coming up with the guest list is EASILY one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning.

Why?? Because of the people on and off that list.

I talk with 100 + brides every year between planning, hourly consults and invitations and one of the most consistent problems I hear about is figuring out the guest list.

– Your twice removed, step-aunt is wondering why she didn’t get an invite

– Your cousin insists you have to invite this group of people

– Your mother-in-law wants to add 50 people to the list that even the groom has never heard of

What do you expect a bride to say to that?? Do you honestly think they have a choice to say no? Even if you give the out of “It’s still up to you,” they still feel obligated to not create waves.

Something I struggled with when planning my own wedding is feeling like everything was about me. I was just so afraid to come off selfish. A lot of brides feel the same way so they let people walk all over them even if it adds tons of stress to the wedding day.

Moms, mother-in-laws, fiance’s, friends: If you TRULY want to see the bride less stressed, stop ADDING stress. Don’t make anyone feel bad if they don’t invite someone. There are so many factors that go in to why people are or aren’t invited. Respect that.

FUTURE MILs.

I honestly have the best in laws (shout out to the Woerners!!) and they only added peace to the process. When I hear of some of the situations my clients are dealing with, I can’t imagine how anyone would do some of these things to brides. Know that the bride has several people to work with: her parents on her budget, her fiance in staying calm and not stressed out (because they normally bear the bulk of that) and the in-laws in growing that relationship, not harming it. When you send the bride your guest list with 100 people more than she said to invite, that’s incredibly disrespectful. You may ask for a little wiggle room but in general, respect the number she sends. She has them for a reason.

GUESTS.

If you’ve been invited, respect your invitation. Did it say to bring a guest? Well, bring a guest. Did it not have “and guest”? Then don’t bring a guest.

NON-GUESTS.

Respect their decision and don’t get offended by it. EVERYONE is on a budget. I specifically tell guest to set their count by their budget, not by every person they think to invite. In this case, of course not everyone will make the list. If you do bring it up to the bride, you are basically putting YOUR feelings about the BRIDE AND GROOM’S OWN WEDDING DAY above the bride’s feelings. That’s so backwards.

This issue may seem small if you’ve ever just thrown out a “hey, can I come?” but it weighs heavily on brides. I see it first hand. They’re not only worried about hurting people’s feelings but if they do say yes, it’s putting a strain on their budget. Guests, you easily costs $40+ PER PERSON when you go to a wedding, couples $80+ and families $100+. I hope understanding their perspective will help know how to respond in different situations.

NOTE: I work with some incredible brides, not bridezillas. I understand some brides can take this to the opposite extreme and be demanding and pushy but this advice is based on my experience with brides who can end up letting their wedding day be about other’s wishes instead of their own. They are naturally unselfish and my hope is that they are surrounded by people who respect them and don’t put them in awkwardness.

Cake, Food & Venue

September 11, 2011  |  Wedding Tips  |  No Comments

This past week we’ve been talking about the value you should be getting from each vendor and what you can expect to pay for. Today, we’ll discuss cake, food & venue.

CAKE

I’ve heard people ask, what makes pricing so different from birthday cakes to wedding cakes? There are a few factors.

1. Stability  – Wedding cakes are normally several tiers. I see the cake bakers carry in each layer of cake on the wedding day and set it up on site. Even one layer of cake is significantly heavy. A lot of attention and knowledge is needed in knowing how to not only create a beautiful cake, but also make sure it’s not slanted or doesn’t topple or cave under the weight. For the most part birthday cakes are one layer and require less concern in this area.

2. Design – You’re grandmother may make the best tasting cake around but if you are looking for a precisely designed cake, it’s best to go with the professionals. I’ve seen brides disappointed with the look of a cake because they chose to go with someone who didn’t have the same design skills. They showed them a picture from a magazine and were told they could make it. There was simply a miscommunication on HOW WELL they could make it to look like the picture.

3. Accessories – Besides the actually cost of cake and labor are brooches, ribbon, sugar flowers. A band of rhinestone beading around the base of the cake layers can be more than $100. And the labor involved in creating one sugar flower can be quite a lot.

NOTE: For a professional wedding cake baker in Acadiana, prices normally start at $3.75 a slice and go up from there, depending on complexity of design.

FOOD

One of the biggest ticket items of the big day is food and beverage. Here is what’s included (for the most part) in that cost.

1. Food and Beverage – The obvious right? Venues must prepare for the estimated guest count as well as any overages. Ask them their policies. Do they let food run out? Most do not like to run out of much, if anything, as this reflects on their reputation. This means they are not simply getting the exact amount of food. They’re making sure to have a surplus. For the buffet style weddings in South Louisiana, this can be tricky. You may have more people than expected. For a recent wedding, the bride had 100 EXTRA guest show up in attendance. The venue was prepared to handle and had to put in a ton of extra work to make sure guests didn’t even notice.

2. Waitstaff – This is a big one. They go unnoticed a lot but I’ve worked with good ones and bad ones and the difference is remarkable. They refill chafing dishes with food and low stacks of plates. They wait on the bride and groom. They clear dirty dishes from tables and clean up afterward. A staff that is continually bussing tables throughout the event ensures that your stunning room doesn’t look like a dirty kitchen. When glasses start piling up, no one is noticing the centerpieces anymore.

3. Silverware & Dinnerware – Caterers normally have one of three options for silverware and dinnerware 1.) Glass and ceramic dishes, 2.) Plastic or 3.) Nothing, you must rent from a rental company. If you’re caterer has included in their price REAL dishes, you’ve scored. Because this also includes a lovely presentation for guest but also them cleaning the dishes. If you must rent, some caterers don’t assume the roll of busboy and other crews must be hired to do so. Ask before booking what their standard process is and if there are any upgrades. If plastic is included, this can actually be an expensive cost you can be glad not to pay. Plastic plates and silverware can get expensive for large groups.

VENUE

Some venues have a standard fee just to use the building. In this case, what are you paying for?

1. Labor – Besides meeting with brides before the wedding day, venues must pay to have someone onsite on the wedding day far before the actual event starts. This could be as much as 12+ hours. You’re paying to have that person available if you have any questions or need anything that day. Ask venues if there is a such a person that will be available on your wedding day.

2. Liquor License – Unless you are required to pay for a liquor license, your venue pays hefty fees for the ability for alcohol to be served at their venue.

3. Equipment – From tables and chairs, having these available for no additional fee can add great value to a venue. Your overall venue fee will also ensure that even if chairs, tables, linens are damaged, they will pay to replace it so that you have what you need.

In many cases, venues handle catering and alcohol and in few cases among those, there is no fee at all for the site, just food and beverage costs. Factor this in when looking at prices for venues and caterers. It can make quite a difference. Some venues may have higher food prices but no venue fees and average out cheaper than lower catering cost and a $2,000 rental fee.