Choosing a Wedding Planner: What You Need to Know

April 26th, 2011

It’s a big day. Hire the person who will run the show as much — or as little — as you’d like (and who won’t break your budget). Here are the basics on choosing the perfect planner.

***

There are so many articles and blogs listing the details of what to ask a wedding or party planner. And those details can start bogging any bride-to-be down. “Where do I start?” is the first question that seems to come to mind (and we don’t blame ya).

Never fear, help is here. Read on for the basics on locating, interviewing and choosing a wedding coordinator — without driving either of you crazy in the process.

Decide on the Type of Service You Want

Even if you’re still foggy on the details, it’s a good idea to know what basic role you would like your wedding planner to fulfill. Here are the three basic types of wedding coordinator services:

The full-service coordinator. She takes care of every detail of your wedding. She knows what questions to ask, when vendors’ deadlines will be and how to please a disgruntled wedding day attendee. This is a great choice for brides-to-be who don’t have enough time on their hands for wedding planning and who are willing to give over at least some of the control to someone else.

The Day-Of planner. Technically, a Day-Of planner will support you as far in advance of your wedding as 30 days. However, her bottom line is to make sure the actual day goes smoothly after you yourself have made all the arrangements. Many a wedding day disaster has been averted by a well-chosen, experienced Day-Of planner.

The wedding assistant. She helps you to locate and choose the best locations and vendors based on what you want, but leaves the rest of the creative freedom (and the hard work) to you. But this is a great choice for brides who want help yet wish to retain control of their bottom line, every step of the way.

Each type of coordinator has his pluses and minuses according to the type of wedding you’ll be having, your personal tastes and your budget. Neither is the best; there’s only such a thing as the best one for you. Really think about what you want…not what your sister, best friend or mom had. And remember to keep your budget in mind (see below for more details).

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Give yourself lots of time in advance of the wedding to find a planner — and give him or her the time it will take to get everything done. If you know you’ll be hiring a wedding planner, hire sooner rather than later.

Fancier, larger and more formal weddings will require at least a year advance notice. Some destination weddings will require longer lead times from vendors and sites, too. If you’re not sure yet what the scale of your wedding will be, start your wedding planner search as soon as you get engaged and simply let him or her know the wedding date. She will guide you from there.

Know Your Budget

It’s the $10,000 question (though like most brides, you probably wish it only cost a buck fifty). How much money are you able to spend…really?

Wedding coordinators can actually save you money depending upon the circumstances — for example, if they come with a destination or wedding reception package. On the other hand, you’ve almost certainly heard horror stories about the wedding planner’s price tag going up…and up…and up.

Know what your budget is and more importantly, stick with it. No matter how faboo Franc claims to be, if he’s over your head financially, find a different coordinator.

Trust us on this one; wedding planners can be invaluable, but even the best won’t leave you satisfied if she’s way beyond your budget. Instead of enjoying the process, you’ll spend the pre-wedding months arguing with your groom, worrying over money and wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. Wedding planners are meant to take your headaches away — not add to them. Pick one you’re financially as well as logistically satisfied with.

Get References

It should go without saying, but get references. And we mean recent ones (within the past year) with phone numbers you can call to get all the details. Don’t accept written/printed testimonials.

If a wedding planner is unable or unwilling to give you at least three solid references within recent history, move on. (Actually, run.)

Ask Questions

Four words: Interview your prospective coordinator. It’s not just about learning details, it’s also about getting the general feel of the planner and whether you and she seem to click. Trust us: the “click factor” will be HUGE in the coming months. You want to hire someone you can really communicate with and who makes you feel comfortable.

That said, do ask questions. Lots of them. How long has the planner been in business? How did he or she get into the industry — what motivated her to go into this line of work? Does she belong to any wedding associations? Have a glance at her portfolio, too. As with the advice above, if she can’t supply one or simply doesn’t have one, move on.

Get All of It in Writing. And We Mean All of It

No matter how comfortable you feel with a wedding coordinator, get all the details in writing. These include verification that the coordinator does not accept commissions from vendors (usually preferable as she won’t be pushing you toward a certain vendor even if they’re not right for you), payment terms, estimates and leeway the coordinator may need on the totals, what the downpayment for services will be and when the balance will be due.

We’ve given you a lot of warnings here, but the truth is, a great wedding coordinator can make your wedding day a breeze. Just do your homework before committing. You’ll be glad you did.

Candles, Candles Everywhere

April 20th, 2011

Light up your bridal shower attendees’ and wedding guests’ eyes with these pretty candle ideas.

******

They’re romantic. They’re dreamy. They’re small enough to fit anywhere, yet instantly compel the eyes with their soft glow. Candles are top on most brides-to-be’s lists, and our BtBs are choosing them not only to light up the reception but to light the walkway toward matrimony.

Candles are also the perfect gift at bridal showers and as wedding favors.

So we’ve collected our very favorites for a little private showing of your very own. The choices below really light our fire — but remember, it’s your wedding, and your wedding style. (Click on the pics for more info on each.)

Whatever candles you choose (and however you choose to use them), remember to send us pics of your big day…we love to hear from you!

******

Chandelier Frosted-Glass tealight holders. Soft, dreamy, elegant…perfect.

Perfect Pair candles. These were shown on “Whose Wedding is it, Anyway?” and got a great reception. They’re so pretty and make perfect keepsake wedding favors. So sweet!

Pumpkin Coach candle. We love this for fairytale weddings or for any happily-ever-after occasion.

Love in Paris Eiffel Tower candle. Exquisite!

Dupioni silk sachets. These are perfect for bridal shower gifts and for the wedding party — your posse will love them.

Spring 2011 Wedding Trends: Five Favorites

April 13th, 2011

Wedding trends come and go. Some work beautifully; some, well, not so much. But spring 2011 is proving to be one gorgeous year for brides and grooms. We’re in love with so much of what’s being offered this spring. Here are our very favorite picks this season.

1930s vintage. Vintage in general has been in for a while. What makes spring 2011 different is that the focus is on prohibition-era duds, decor and even photography, with sepia and washed-color effects. We’re seeing lots of chunky-bottomed shoes, strings of pearls and slim, somewhat shorter hemmed lines for gowns. Colors tend toward off-white for women and traditional black or 1930s tan and brown for men. LOVE it.

Princess-wear. Perhaps inspired by the much-publicized upcoming nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton, princess tiaras and ballgowns are making a grand reappearance this season. Accent the theme with royal theme wedding favors, decor and invitations.

Engagement photos. Where were these when I was getting married? I may just have to do it all over again so the hubster and I can set up a pre-wedding photo shoot. Hot for spring engagement photos include outdoor and/or rustic scenery and organic, natural poses and facial expressions, as well as a good dose of humor. Make it count!

Groom cakes. Let your man know he counts too in this endeavor; have a groom cake made just for him. It can be traditional white, but more frequently, groom cakes are in dark colors, such as chocolate (goody! I knew there was a reason I liked this trend), or something decorative, like a golf green scene, movie references or a stack of books.

Precious stone wedding rings. Diamonds aren’t a girl’s only friend; emeralds, rubies and other precious gems are the latest in forever jewelry. Again, this is reminiscent of royalty. You can mix and match, of course (say, two very small diamonds on either side of a pretty marquis-cut ruby). Pick up the theme with jewel tone colored wedding cake icing and pretty faux gems on the invitations.

Great Ideas for a Green Wedding

April 5th, 2011

Click to get the scoop on this pretty wedding favor.

Thinking of going green for your wedding? We’re not talking about the color scheme — though it’s certainly a lovely one — but rather, the quickly growing ecologically-friendly wedding trend.

We absolutely love this option. Not only is it friendly to the earth, but many green wedding choices are easy on the wedding wallet, too. And a natural, organic tone fits perfectly with the upcoming influx of spring weddings.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to go green for your wedding and reception:

  • Choose recycled paper for the invitations. Recycled paper has come a long way. Today, you have your pick of recycled paper types, from the most delicate to a slightly cross-hatched, organic style. Different weights and materials, such as cotton and hemp, are possibilities. Add a DIY touch by writing out your own invites in calligraphy if you already have this talent (or why not learn it as a special gift to yourself before the wedding?).
  • Go back to the woods. Wood photo frames make fantastic keepsake gifts to the wedding party, and bamboo wood candle holders and picture frames are perfect “green” wedding favors for guests. There are so many types of wood and so many creative options available for today’s bride and groom, you’ll not only have style options, but you’ll be able to find something low-cost as well.

    Not your garden variety gift: your guests will love these seed packet wedding favors.

  • Buy locally grown flowers, bouquets and boutonnieres. Force-grown flowers can be exquisite, don’t get us wrong. But so can a beautiful, delicate selection of nature’s local bounty. Support local gardeners and natural growing all in one go.
  • Let the wedding gifts benefit others. Rather than a gift for the two of you, ask guests for a donation to a local conservatory, a wildlife fund or another worthwhile nature-supporting charity.
  • Give gifts that grow. Wedding reception favors like seeds and gardening tools make fabulous, up-to-the-minute trendy and enviro-friendly thank-yous.