Crazy, fun ideas to try out for your wedding day

Manicure1Guess who’s getting married? ME! And that means I am a bride just like you. I love reading all of the new bridal mags every month to seek out more wedding inspiration. The one thing I love the most is when they feature new bridal trends. Anything wacky or off the wall and I’m down (although I haven’t jumped on board with the unicorn trend yet. That one I just don’t get).  From crazy bouquet ideas to shimmery glitter wedding day nails, I love it all. I found some really neat trends I would like to share with you Brides just in case you see something that you would like to try at your own wedding. There are two that I am going to do at my own wedding next October. Can you guess which 2?

 

  • Crazy nails. Who doesn’t love some funky nails for a wedding day??? Long gone are the traditional French tips. Color and design are in. Whether you choose a professional manicure at a salon or choose to have your bestie put on some Jamberry nails for you to rock….the options are endless for today’s bride! 

     

 

  • Colored hair. More and more brides are optioning for stand out hair color on their wedding day? Why not? Paying with color is fun! If you aren’t down to commit to a total mane overhaul then consider temporary color or even colored hair clip ins. You’re hair dresser will thank you (not really). 

     

 

  • Teepee reception. This concept is fairly new to the wedding scene but one I love. I think have either your ceremony or reception in a teepee is a totally fabulous eco experience. They come in different sizes and several event companies have now started renting them for weddings. Think you can pull this awesomeness off? Btw I love the bottom look so so much! 

     

     

     

  • Non-floral bouquets. More and more brides are choosing NOT to use flowers in their weddings? WHY??? Because let’s face it….flowers are freaking expensive. Not to mention the thought of those beautiful cut flowers just waiting to die off after the event. If you want a perfect way to remember your wedding day then consider a bouquet that has nothing to do with flowers at all. That way you can display it’s loveliness Forevah and Evah (play on the Priest from The Princess Bride there folks for your enjoyment). The most popular options are broach, shell, and paper bouquets.

 

 

  • Fairy hair. For those brides who have just a little bit of the Netherworld in them this might just be the look to try. Fairy hair is basically stands of color fused to your own hair. It’s pretty, sparkly, and will make any raccoon insanely jealous. Hint of color peaking through your hair on your wedding day is totally unexpected and yet amazing. It’s not permanent so you can have it removed after the wedding.

 

 

 

  • Henna. I’m not going to lie….Henna gets me excited as shit. I freaking love the way Henna looks on a bride. It looks so elegant and yet exotic. It’s kinda a big deal…meaning you have to have it tested first to make sure you don’t have a reaction. Then you have to have the Henna applied several days before the wedding to make sure it “takes”. You definitely don’t want dye bleeding onto your dress from a hasty Henna job! Find a reputable person that has been doing Henna for awhile. Don’t just pick some chick off Craigslist. Because once you put it on it can take weeks to come off. You want to make sure it is done correctly the first time.

 

 

  • Floating wedding reception. Why have one reception when you can have several? If you have ever heard of a floating bridal or baby shower then you know what I am talking about. Going from house to house of different hosts to get a different experience at each. If you have some really awesome friends (or even better, decent family), consider having them be a host for your floating reception. That way you have fond memories of your wedding day celebrating at the homes of people you love!

 

  • Trash the Dress. Most of you have already heard of this by now but if you haven’t it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. So the story goes that you will only get married this one time in this one dress. Why would you ever keep it or give it away when you can trash the dress (destroy it) thereby ensuring a long and happy marriage. Pretty cool concept with wicked looking photos!

 

 

  • Couples boudoir shoots. Who says the two of you can’t have fun before, during, and after the wedding day? Boudoir shoots with both the bride and groom are a great way to represent their individuality and sexiness. These are pics you will keep forever people. What can be better than taking pics with your man while you are strapped into a sexy as hell corset with 6 inch heels? Now that’s making memories folks!

 

 

I hope I have given you a tad bit of inspiration. Weddings don’t have to be traditional and boring. Makes your unique!

So I’ve cheated.

cheat

Bet that headline got your attention! Good. Because I have a confession to make. I have been cheating you all. I have been cheating myself and more importantly I have cheated my family. At this point you must be confused. Let me explain.

I’ve been two-timing my business. You see…..I have only been on my own for about 2 years. I used to be an event planner for a venue hall where I worked with a team. Don’t get me wrong….I loved it but I always felt like I was missing out on the big picture. Like there was something more. From the time I was about 8 years old I have always wanted to run my own business. I grew up watching my grandfather, grandmother, and father all own their own ventures. I just knew that when I grew up I would have my own someday too. It was always a question of timing though….it never seemed right. I tried to get things off the ground but previous obligations always held me back from achieving my full potential. This past year was a huge wake up call for me. I had a cancer scare which threw my whole outlook on life into a giant tail spin. I experienced an unusually high amount of loss. Just as I thought the black cloud above me was about to pass I was yet again faced with some other insurmountable issue. It was enough to make the best of us crack. So knowing myself and how I process information, I decided to see a certified life coach to get some insight as to what I was doing wrong. Her perspective was life changing. I highly recommend getting an outside opinion when you are faced with strife that you just can’t shake. In a nutshell she told me that I was cheating. Cheating my business. Cheating my family. And cheating myself out of a life long dream. How was I cheating? I was continuing to work at a job that didn’t serve me any longer just to make sure the bills got paid. It was a never ending cycle and vicious loop of being constantly mentally drained and physically exhausted. The plan was to continue my employment until the Holidays before I could make a clean break and start the New Year all on my own. Needless to say, I didn’t make it that long. My blog started to suffer. My twitter became quiet. My overall excitement was dimming. My office orchid almost died because I never had the time to actually go to my office that I was now paying rent on. I never seemed to have time for anything anymore and I was just burnt out. So I had to make some hard choices. Continue what I was doing to pay the bills and let my fledgling business suffer or say enough is enough and branch out on my own. Is it a stupid idea? Yep. I have no financial safety net. My plan was to save up at least 6 months of living expenses before I went free falling into the no job netherworld. I have not gotten the chance to do that so I am basically starting this adventure on what limited savings I have and the whims of my fabulous fiancé. Point blank….I cannot fail. Not because I am so afraid to lose everything I have worked so hard for. I have done that before and started over completely twice. That I can handle. I can’t fail because I will be disappointing myself and doing a huge disservice to all of the Brides out there that need me. I can do cool things. I can take nothing and turn it into something amazing. I can beat the heck out of a budget to exhaust every single last penny to make sure my couple gets exactly what they want. I can negotiate with the best of them. I have so many neat ideas and tricks that my feet hit the ground in the morning and the first thing on my mind is ….How can I save my Bride some money today? It sounds ridiculous and in reality it is. But this is my drug. It’s my high. It’s what I live for. So no more cheating. Period. I do this all the way or not at all. I have so much to give my couples. And I have so much to give myself. I have worked for years to create a little, happy, artistic bubble for myself. I daydream about this. The day I walk out. The last time I punch in. The day I start supporting myself off the sweat of my own brow. The moment I start investing in me. I am way too smart to be busting my ass for someone that doesn’t appreciate or care about my talents. Boss gets a dollar while I get a dime. I don’t think so. Not anymore. Exactly two weeks from now I become my own boss. Permanently.

No more cheating.

Cheers!     Gigi

 

 

 

Can’t find the right dress??? Then just make it!

weddingdress

Okay I admit….I hate clothes shopping. The process of getting undressed and redressed about a million times just annoys the crap out of me. So you can imagine how much I enjoy wedding dress shopping. For my brides, I love it. For myself, I do not. I would rather stick my head in a bucket and just not deal. Which is how I came to the ultimate decision of making my own dress. Yes I know…..it’s a crazy idea. Which fits in with me perfectly. Let’s be honest….to be a wedding planner you have to be a little off in the head. You also have to be a creative genius and extremely organized but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this blog post. Is making your wedding dress for everyone? Oh gosh no! If the very thought of crocheting a potholder gives you the cold sweats then this just ain’t your bag baby. And that’s ok. Not everyone wants to run from fabric store to fabric store obsessing over tulle and French lace. That is why wedding dress designers get paychecks my lovelies.

How does one go about the process of creating her very own, one-of-a-kind, super special wedding dress? Easy. Lots of Tequila, too much Pinterest, no social life, and a burning desire to be an overachiever. All kidding aside, as with anything you have to have a plan. And then a back up plan in case your original plan tanks (as most of you know by now I am the Queen of back up plans). Making your own dress isn’t for the faint of heart. Its grueling, exhausting, and more often than not creates a lot of fear and doubt about this wild and crazy decision you have made. Have no reservations! If thousands of bad ass chicks on YouTube can do it then so can you right???? Ha!

The plan of attack should be something like this…..head down to your local bookstore, drink some coffee (a lot of coffee), browse through the latest bridal mags, and get a good solid idea of how you want your wedding dress to look. This may take some time to finally figure out so don’t get discouraged! Consider the styling. Do you want something traditional that you would see in a bridal salon or something off the wall and unique like a dress you would see featured in Offbeat Bride? Once you have a clear understanding of the direction you want to go, you can make a collage of images you like and begin constructing some sort of pattern for how you want your dress to look. Take my advice and go look at wedding dresses. Only to check out their construction. Look at the sewing, the seams, the lace, everything it would take to recreate that very same dress. Still undaunted? Good.  Then you can proceed to Phase 2, or what I call the are-you-sure-you-want-to-spend-this-much-on-lace phase. Making your own dress can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. Come up with a reasonable budget and stick to it. Otherwise the glittery buttons and pretty ribbon may just blow that budget right out of the wedding water! It will help you out a lot to watch about a gazillion wedding dress tutorials on the internet, check out assorted sewing books, and scour dress blogs for tips of the trade. Anything that can make your dress making as painless and stress free as possible! But trust me…..there will be stress. Its your wedding day! And you are making your own dress. Of course you want to get everything right! It’s a process. I have been working on just my skirt for 4 months now and I am not even finished yet! This is the look I am going for below. I am debating adding some nude colored tulle in for effect (I just adore the two toned look). Since it will be the end of October when we get married I will also wear either a lace sleeved bolero or a little hand knitted shrug to keep me warm. We are getting married outside after all.

 

Try to keep your design as simple as possible. If you have never sewed before doing something ultra blingy and fancy probably is not your best option. You could also find an existing dress and repurpose it. Take for example the steampunk bride below from Offbeat Bride. She totally remade an existing dress and added an old parachute to it and dyed it to create her perfect vision of the dress she wanted to wear on the big day. It turned out hella awesome!

homemade-steampunk-dress-23

If you can’t sew well or don’t have a big grand vision then you can always use a hand me down dress or buy one that’s used and redesign it. Take this dip dye job to an existing dress below. I just love this look!

colored dress

Or you could take the inspo from this bride who actually crocheted her own wedding dress while riding the bus every day. I think it turned out stunning! I wish I was this talented. I can barely make a pot holder LOL!

crochet.dress_

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to come up with some pretty cool ideas. That is what Pinterest is for sweetheart! Have a cram session and Pin or print idea some ideas that appeal to you. Then watch just enough YouTube videos about making your own dress to be dangerous and you should be good to go! Just don’t be like me and go crazy in the craft store. It’s so easy to do I tell ya!

Keep it simple, keep it fun, and create the right dress for you. After all, you only wear it for one day. Don’t stress too much if a seam is crooked or the lace hangs a little low. I promise people will be more impressed with the fact that you created your own dress than the lack of double stitching on your hem.

Happy dress creating!      Gigi

Eloping…what it means for modern Brides.

elopingEloping. Brings up thoughts of just the two of you running off into the sunset doesn’t it? Eloping can means many things to many people. To me it brings up an image of a private and quiet ceremony with just the two of you professing your love. To some people it means a destination wedding or an impulsive trip to Vegas. Whatever the word “elopement” means to you please understand that it can be a beautiful thing. There is nothing better than just the two of you exchanging your vows (and nothing more budget friendly either). Big weddings aren’t for everyone. If the thought of a buffet table or a dance floor makes you all cringey then perhaps you and your beau should consider an elopement. Contrary to the popular belief that an elopement is just the two of you, there are actually options for say less than 10 people to witness your happy nuptials. Many of the smaller venues offer elopement packages. But first we are jumping the gun here. Let’s talk about the different types of Elopements.

  • Just run away and get married. This is your typical Vegas style shotgun marriage. No one knows about it ahead of time and its just the two of you. Often this may be a impulsive spur of the moment wedding. Guaranteed to piss off a few family members! Also guaranteed to save a lot of money and be a lot of fun for the couple. That air of excitement can be intoxicating! An officiant usually presides over the nuptials instead of a pastor or priest. There may or may not be a small reception or celebration to follow. Notification of your vow exchange is usually sent out after the blessed event takes place. Cute post cards can be super helpful for this. Check out Vistaprints selection. http://www.vistaprint.com

 

  • Planned Elopement, just a few bystanders. This kind of elopement is usually planned with little to no guests in attendance. It can take place anywhere really….a private garden, a quiet little B&B, a friend’s backyard. There may or may not be traditional wedding attire worn. Anyone able and willing (and legal) can officiate and typically there is a small celebration to follow. Invitations may or may not be sent and a standard email or a wedding website will work nicely to notify guests.

 

  • Destination Elopement. Couples may often opt for a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time. A quiet ceremony on the beach can be just what the doctor ordered for a couple looking for some privacy with some exotic flavor. Why not say your vows on a beach in the Virgin Islands or on top of a windswept mountain in Iceland? While sometimes difficult to plan because of the remoteness, a travel agent should be able to help you with all of your needs. And if they can’t….they can find the right people who can. Consider wedding & trip insurance as well as a back up plan. You know…..just in case there is a hurricane or a blizzard.

 

  • Mini Wedding  (aka Elopement 2.0). Having less than 20 guests can still qualify as an Elopement. This is for the couples who want most of the jazz of having a wedding without all of the cost, planning, and hassle. Invitations are traditionally sent out ahead of time. The event may take place locally or at an out of town venue within driving distance for the guests. The bride can choose to wear a wedding dress if she fancies it. There may even be attendants on either side. A small reception will usually follow with a cake cutting happening sometime during. The couple may or may not choose to do a registry with the wedding being this small. But as I always say…since it is your wedding then you do whatever the heck you want! Just enjoy it 🙂

 

So now that we have an idea of the different types of Elopements….where can you elope? ANYWHERE! Get married in your favorite Museum, in a park, in your cousin’s back yard, at a beach B&B, in your fiancés hometown…..just anywhere you choose really. There is no end to your options.

Make your day the way you want it. Dress as you like. Invite who you will. Ride off into the sunset in a rickshaw if you want! You won’t have a single regret as long as you go with your gut feelings about what works and what doesn’t. Figure out your needs as a couple, your budget, and whether not eloping is the best option for the wedding you want. If you don’t mind ruffling a few family and friend feathers then things might turn out better than you could have ever imagined.

Happy running off and getting married!    Gigi

Wedding Lookbooks. Why all Brides need one!

lookbook

Ever heard of a lookbook? Sure you have. If you have ever watched any sort of reality tv show about fashion then you are familiar with this End All, Be All of magical books that showcases the designer’s work. Brides need one. They need a space and place for all their wedding designs and dreams to become a reality. Plus it helps having all of your ideas in one place. That way you can just carry it from appointment to appointment with all of your wedding info in one portable cute little place. I am going to give you a sneak peak of my lookbook. Ta-Da! See the pic above? Come on now…..you guys know I am not going to reveal all of my little tidbits of information. I want you to come up with an design your own!. Nor am I going to show you any actual bride pages in the honor of privacy for past couples. But I do have a new Bride and I am working on her page right now so I can show you a little bit about how I do the set up. Other than my planner, this book is like my bible. I carry it to every single bride meeting. It helps me keep the colors, theme, and all the little details about each and every wedding straight.

So how can you make your own lookbook? It’s easy enough really. Just pick a base book like a scrapbook or photo album and begin your adventure. Start by collecting paint chip samples to reflect the colors you want in your wedding. Then add photos and pics of things that you think are really neat and want to try out….like an awesome floral or a great tabletop set up. Build your pages to reflect the kind of things you want to see at your wedding. It’s kind of like Pinterest or a vision board only in toteable form.  Each page can have a different theme….one for dress ideas, one for reception brainstorming, one for ceremony suggestions. It’s your book so make it reflect your style and your day. *A little hint….tape runners from craft stores are amazing for this kind of work. Never bother with glue sticks or scotch tape again!

Sorry for such a short post but busy busy going into the weekend! I also want to wish a huge congrats to the couple that won the Free Wedding Planning Giveaway….Jason & Kym! I am so excited to help you put together one bad ass November wedding. Can’t wait to get started!

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Cheers!     Gigi

Hey dress designers! How about making wedding dresses for Real bodies?

curvyWe need a movement people. Like…..now. I am so disappointed to see full page wedding dress ads featuring shapeless and uncurvy girls. Look around. Do most brides look like that? Nope…..not even close. So what’s the deal? How about featuring some good ole average bodies in the bridal mags? Sadly I fear we won’t see it anytime soon. Most designers cater to a market of a slender and select few. Some of us girls just want to enjoy our veggie burger ya know? I’m speaking from experience here. I have gone from a skinny mini size 2 to a healthy and curvy size 8. Now while that may not seem like a big deal….I am very short and petite. Only 5’1 and shrinking by the day. While I am not large by any means, do you know how hard it is for a short girl with wide hips and a big booty to find a sexy wedding dress? Hard people, hard. That is why resulted to making my own wedding dress. Going wedding dress shopping just terrifies me. I have gone before and ended up leaving empty handed and in tears. Not every wedding dress off the rack will fit every single body that tries it on. It is easy to get discouraged when every dress you fall in love with looks like absolute crap on you. So listen up designers. We need dresses for every size. We need dresses in different colors. We need dresses for short girls and tall girls. We need dresses for flat chested gals and big booty’s. We need pants suits for brides that don’t want to wear a dress at all. We need to feel unique, sexy, and fierce. Don’t just stick us in yards of white fabric making us feel like tents. Give us options! And good ones. I’m going to list below the major deficits I see within the bridal industry. I don’t see enough of these choices out there and I truly hope that changes. Hopefully this blog post will be read by the right person who will send it to a designer (or two) who is open minded enough to consider the fact that non-traditional brides are okay!! And that there is a HUGE market for these brides. We just want to be given the same experience on our wedding day just like everybody else. More sizes on the rack. More designs to choose from. More colors. Just give us more!

What we really need (IMHO)……..

lpus

More curvy options. I hate saying plus sized. It sounds so negative. Curvy is sexy.

 

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Black wedding dresses. Goth girls need cool dresses too!

 

colored dress

Colored wedding dresses. This dip dye dress is freaking amazing!

 

pants

Pantsuits. Um hello? Can we say fierce AND functional? Not all gals dig the dress.

 

short

Styles for short girls. Without a billion expensive alterations!

 

tall

Dresses for taller gals. That are flattering with plenty of extra length.

 

curves

Dresses for fit gals to help show off their curves as well!

 

pregnant

Maternity wedding dresses for the pregnant gals. Do you know how hard it is to find styles that fit??!

 

What kind of Not-so Traditional bride are you? Would you like to see more of a selection on the rack at your local bridal salon? I know I would! I would also really like to see more Not-so Traditional brides in the magazine spreads….more curvy girls, tattooed girls, crazy haired girls, ethnically diverse girls, androgynous girls. Just a better diversity of all the brides out there. Not every bride is 5’5, a size 2, with a great rack and a six figure bank account.  Let’s tell the wedding dress industry: Study your market better. Bring to the table more than what you are currently offering. You won’t be disappointed. There IS a market for the different brides out there!

I hope you are able to find the dress of your dreams! If you know of any designers that are really killing it for all brides out there then please feel free to comment and share.

 

Happy Memorial day and Monday!    Gigi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back up plans. How every Bride needs one!

stopWell, this week has been an interesting turn of events. I have been so busy that I have barely gotten to blog. Bad Gigi. I will try harder guys I promise! The theme of this mornings blog post is back up plans, and how every Bride needs one (or in my case 5). Why have a back up plan you may ask? You may be thinking, I have a wedding planner…don’t they take care of any issues? Well, yes and no. They can advise you but they cannot make the ultimate end all be all decisions about your wedding. You do that. Which is why you need a good back up plan in case a vendor or your venue bails last minute. I don’t mean to stress you out but this is a reality that has happened before. It happened to me this week. My ceremony/reception venue is now a no go. Which means I have to completely change my wedding plans. Everything was based around that location….from the wedding invites to the food trucks. Now I have to start at square one again and I have to admit I am a bit distressed. I have to decide if I want to just have a simple wedding with maybe just the two of us or do I want to try to yet again figure out the details for at least a few people to be there. I kinda just want to crawl in a hole about the whole thing. Since I’m a wedding planner I am exceedingly picky about all of the details. And I had them all worked out and was extremely happy with everything. Now that things are back up in the air again I get this great sense of uncertainty. Sure I have thought of back up scenarios but I honestly thought everything was concrete. I never imagined being at this point with no wedding plans. These are the things bride nightmares are made of folks! Hence a back up plan.

What makes a good back up plan? Consider that every single vendor you have booked calls you in the next 5 minutes and cancels. hurricaneHave you thought about what you would do? Before you start downing Tequila or eating mass amounts of cupcakes, take a breath. Sit down and come up with a list of local vendors that could be your second choice if your first backs out. What if your officiant moves or your reception hall closes due to a major water main break? What if a hurricane hits the weekend of your wedding? What if your florist goes out of business? All of these scenarios are definitely possible. It’s always better to be over-prepared then under. Go through your contracts if you have your vendors already booked. Read the fine print and find out what will happen in the event that they can not attend your wedding. Will your officiant provide a back up if they get sick? If there is a kitchen fire and you can’t have your reception at the banquet hall you want, will they refund your money? Find out all of the details in advance so that if this happens you are fully prepared to handle it. Remember, the most important part of the day is the two of you and your marriage. Everything else just fades into the background really. In the grand scheme of things those guest favors just aren’t that important.

Have a stellar weekend!    Gigi

The Wedding Mafia. How a Bride can avoid pitfalls in the wedding industry.

wed mafiaScenario. You’re at a Bridal show with your bestie trying to get ideas for your wedding next year. You have on your cute new Bride sweatshirt, a pair of dark denim jeans, and some Toms. As you walk up and down the aisles viewing the over the top wedding florals lit up with LED’s and eating the little crab puffs being passed by a local caterer, you notice a disturbing trend.  As you begin to share some of the details of your wedding there are two types of wedding vendors…the ones who genuinely want to help you and the ones that turn their noses up at the notion of your small private affair. They stand there, out in the aisle armed with pamphlets, business cards, and a fake smile. A team member from the Wedding Mafia. You don’t know any better and walk over when she motions for you to come closer to the booth. She smiles a fake plastic smile and offers you a brochure on some of their event planning services. Their booth is large and opulent and you can clearly tell that they mean business as the largest event planning service in your area. They have sample tables set up each with a different design and all with over the top florals. There are framed photos of some of their events on their front table. The girls working the booth looked polished and poised with perfect white teeth and excellent manicures. You start to feel a tad bit uncomfortable and underdressed but you try to go with the flow and loosen up when she starts asking you about your big day. She asks if you have any vendors booked yet and if not, they have a list of people that they work with exclusively (this is code meaning that they each get some sort of kick back usually). You begin telling her about your guest count of 50 people and how the wedding will take place on a small local farm in the area, complete with a petting zoo. You can literally see her face change as you tell her you envision a barefoot Boho wedding extravaganza. Then she passes off a fake grin when you ask about the starting cost of their planning services. The response is something like, “Let me get your contact information so that we can set up a time to get together to discuss your day in more detail”.  Which there is nothing wrong with…this is an appropriate response considering that she doesn’t know the exact details of your event or what level of wedding planning you are needing. However she never even mentions a range of where the planning cost starts so at least you can have an idea of whether it would be a good fit. If you have a $10,000 budget and their event planning starts at $2000 then it is probably not a good fit since that is nearly a quarter of your entire budget. If you had a good understanding about the cost of the services they provide up front, you could keep it moving and not have your time wasted if the quote was over budget. But…you write down your info anyway on a contact slip that they have at the front table and give it back to her. She smiles, offers you a chocolate ganache mini cupcake, and says something like, “Thanks for stopping by! We’ll be in touch soon”. You begin to walk away but turn your head just in time to see her gushing to a bride that has just walked up with her mom, both in designer clothes and with designer handbags no less. The planner is clearly a lot more cheerful and engaged than she was a few minutes ago when you were talking to her. You suddenly begin to feel bad about your jeans and sweatshirt and your small Boho wedding. Don’t feel bad you gorgeous girl! There is nothing wrong with you OR your wedding. You have just been another innocent victim of the Wedding Mafia.

Oh yes….the Wedding Mafia. Most couples aren’t aware of this term but most of us in the wedding industry are. These are the local event planners, caterers, venues, and mafiaphotographers that have a one track mind when it comes to weddings…money. The wedding industry here in NC alone makes over a billion a year and these people want to make sure that they capitalize on that. They usually band together and have a “Hire one, hire all” mentality, meaning that they only work with a list of preferred vendors that can benefit their business. Now, is it normal for people in the wedding industry to steer couple in the direction of someone they know that does fantastic work? Yes of course! I do it all the time without getting a single kick back (save a free cupcake here and there). I love giving couples referrals and letting them do the vendor choosing themselves. However, I find that these “Wedding Mafia members” in the wedding industry only want to deal with one type of bride…a rich one. Not every bride has thousands of dollars to spend on a single day. Maybe up until now she has been a single mom. Or maybe the couple is saving for their first house. Maybe the parents aren’t helping with the wedding costs and the couple is on their own. You never know what the situation may be. But I do know one thing…… it is never fair to assume that a couple having a small wedding is broke and that they don’t want nice things. Maybe they just want a small wedding or maybe this isn’t their first wedding and they just want something different this time around. I’ve had it happen to me….I’ve totally been judged. I have had vendors turn their noses up at me and I’m a freaking wedding planner! Of course I didn’t tell them that at the time. I just wanted to see what their reaction would be to our “unconventional wedding”. No church, no white dress, no reception.  Hand fasting, homemade black dress, food trucks. Hell yes. That’s us. It fits perfectly and I don’t give a crap that it’s not traditional or the wedding norm. I love unique weddings. Those brides are truly movers and shakers. It takes a lot to be brave and step out of the traditional wedding spotlight. You get a lot of weird looks and head shakes. As wedding vendors however, it is our job and duty to provide the best level of service to every single couple that walks through our doors. Regardless of their budget, religion, color, or sexual orientation. Be the planner for all the people…not just a select some.

topperSo how do you spot a potential member of the Wedding Mafia and how do you deal with them? If you are interested in a possible vendor then the first thing you need to do is to web stalk them. That’s right…. I said it. Check out their website, social media, blog, whatever they have going on out there in internet land. View pics of events they have done. See if their style might be a good match for what you wanting for your own wedding. If they pass the initial test then set up a time for you two to meet. Try not to do a phone call if possible (you can tell a lot about a person and their personality by meeting them in person). Write down a list of questions that you want to ask to make sure every detail is covered and you have all of the information you need to make the right choice. Watch for signs of hesitation. If you and your fiancé want to have a huge Halloween wedding with a midnight ceremony and a vampire as the officiant, make sure your wedding planner is on board. If they can’t share in your vision then it will make things exceedingly difficult. Ensure that your vendors (caterer, florist, photographer) are understanding of your needs and that they are able to easily bend from the traditional wedding norm. Most wedding vendors are in this business because they love it not because they want to get rich. Beware of those who put nothing in writing and keep increasing the costs each time you speak with them. That is why getting initial quotes are helpful…you both understand the bottom line and what is trying to be accomplished. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the services to be provided before signing on any contract. Below are a few tips I have put together to help you avoid the Wedding Mafia hive mind and help you make the right choices for your big day.

 

  • Go Local. Local vendors are totally the way to go. I can’t say this enough. Not only are they usually cheaper, they know the area and they have better connections. Need a coffin for your head table? You caterer has a buddy that does wood working. So you can check that off your list. Want custom made cookies with your monogram on them? Your wedding planner knows the best bakery in town that specializes in custom wedding baked goods. Want a hand made wedding band? Your florist knows just the jeweler for that. Choosing local vendors means that you are also supporting a local business. And who doesn’t like supporting their community?!

 

  • Communication.  The standard in the wedding industry is a 24 hour turn around. Meaning if you email me a question about the cocktail hour linens, I should email you back within a 24 hour time frame. If you find it hard to get your vendors to reach out and answer your questions then maybe you need a different vendor. Now I’m not saying send 32 emails about whether or not your cat Mr. Meowsworth would make a good ring bearer. Be reasonable with your reach outs. Try to limit contact to two or three emails a day at most. Just like you, your vendors are busy. So if they don’t immediately respond, don’t panic. And if they never respond, let me know and I can steer you in the right direction.

 

  • Stick to your guns. Be up front with your wishes. Let your vendors know what your non-negotiables are. If you just have to have real pineapples as candleholders lining the aisle then make it clear. Don’t let anyone influence your decisions about what is best for your wedding. Take advice of course but don’t let someone steer your completely away from an idea you love just because they don’t think they can accomplish it. It’s all about thinking creative. You have to learn how to think outside of the box a little. And just because you’re wedding is different doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. Variety is the spice of life.

 

  • Know your budget and don’t waiver. Don’t let the glossy wedding pics bust your budget and please don’t let that caterer convince you of a cake too large and too overpriced for your simple event of 50 guests. There are a lot of people in the wedding industry keen on upcharging a couple to make extra pocket money. Be very clear about the budget you have to work with and remember spending less is always better! And as always…get it in writing!

 

Hopefully I have given you a few good wedding pointers to help you have the wedding you want and not what someone else wants. Just remember….when you go to a wedding expo and get glazed over by all the flash and frills….don’t fall for it. Stick to your plan. Do things the way you want to. Only increase the budget if you want to. Only change your wedding plans if you want to. Don’t be the victim of a Wedding Mafia hit. Stay true to you!

Cheers!     Gigi

 

Why does a wedding planner cost so much?? Here’s the run down…..

keep-calm-and-hire-a-wedding-planner-17More and more of today’s couples have gotten wise to the idea that they need a wedding planner to help them smooth out the details of their big day. But why the heck do they cost so much??? Trust me….I get it. It’s seems like a large investment for an already expensive day. The truth is, a wedding planner is the person that handles the wedding day stress for the couple. They are the first line of defense when something goes wrong (and trust me Brides…..no wedding ever goes according to plan. Something will go wrong, you just may not notice it because your wedding planner is so awesome that they just made the issue disappear). While having a wedding planner is a personal choice, I can tell you from experience that it is the best “insurance” you can purchase to ensure your wedding day goes as intended without too many hiccups. You see, there is a lot that couples don’t see their wedding planner doing. A LOT. I thought this blog post would shed some light into the dimly lit world of wedding planning. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows like the fancy tv shows make it appear. It’s hard work. But so worth it!

  • Your planner is your biggest advocate. Mother in law driving you crazy trying to change the seating chart last minute? Your wedding planner can handle that. In fact, your planner is kinda like a body guard only dressed more fashionably. We are the buffer between you and your family, you and your vendors. and sometimes even you and your spouse. Most of us could double as a therapist. We know the plan and we stick to the plan until you tell us not to. We make our living by making you happy. This is the greatest adventure in your life and you will hang on to those memories for years to come. We want to make every moment as enjoyable and stress free as possible. Even if we have to drink from airplane bottles in the bathroom 😉  (I’m so kidding about this by the way. I would never drink anything less than full sized)

 

  • We are the bridge between you and your Vendors. Your wedding planner is the biggest liaison between you and your vendors. From the linens, to the table set up, to when the first course at dinner will be served….your WP will take charge so you don’t have to. Every good planner needs two things….a timeline and a back up plan. If yours doesn’t have this then you have a serious problem. Timelines keep everything with the wedding party and the vendors running smoothly. Back up plans ensure you have an emergency out for when things go awry. This is why your WP needs to be jack of all trades. What if the florist forgets to bring the men’s boutonnieres? The WP should be able to call the florist, delegate someone to go pick them up, or run to the nearest store and throw some together herself (not to mention handling the florist who made the mistake in the first place). A good WP will have all of your bases covered. They will know all of the vendors, the stipulations of the contracts, and when set up and break down will take place. Just think of your WP as a very good juggler. Only with people and not wooden balls.

 

  • We honor your crazy requests. Need us to dress like an Elf for your woodland ceremony? No problem. Want us to hand deliver something to your groom at 5 am the morning of? We’ve got ya covered. Planners never really sleep the week of the wedding anyway. We are closely related to Vampires, only a lot more caffeinated. We handle the things behind the scenes that a couple may not necessarily notice or even think about. From fluffing the dress out right before the walk down the aisle to holding that same dress up while you go pee last minute. There really isn’t anything we can’t do. Or haven’t. Maybe TLC should come up with a reality TV show about wedding planners. I mean…I’d watch it.

 

  • We can do some amazing things with little money involved. It never fails. No matter how many times you check over the checklist and the budget, something always gets missed. Hopefully it is something little and not like the groom telling you that he bought the rings when he really didn’t and forgets that fact until the morning of the wedding.  Zero pressure right? That is why a good WP will have a few “fake” rings in her emergency bag when situations like these arise. And we will  be creative when the Bride has her heart set on a floral arbor that she saw in a wedding mag over the weekend and the wedding is a week away with no money left in the budget for floral. Wedding planners often lose a lot of sleep over things such as this. Luckily you know someone with an arbor that you can borrow and the bride’s mother has lots of lovely flowers blooming in her perfectly manicured yard. Boom. Done. Minus the 4 hours you spend the morning of the wedding putting it all together. Sleep is entirely overrated anyway.

 

  • Speaking of sleep… We don’t do much of it. We dream of Sophia Tolli dresses dancing in our heads and of cakes that don’t melt in the summer heat and start to slide before the cake cutting (yes that happened. And yes I sweated through my deodorant that day). We get paid to obsess over every single tiny little detail of your wedding. We do this because we love it. I know that I do it because it’s in my blood. My grandmother was a florist with her own shop and I have always been that little girl who never took no for an answer. I started putting together floral arrangements when I started kindergarten. I was always that kid taking her teacher flowers. I still keep fresh flowers on my desk. But back to the sleep thing (Squirrel!!). The time leading up to your wedding is the most exciting and exhausting for us. We have emotions just like you do as a couple. The months and weeks crescendo to this one amazing day and we want to give you our best. So if we look a little tired the day of or we are sweating our makeup off making sure that everything is just right please forgive us. That is what phone filters are for 🙂

 

  • If you break down the hours spent working on your wedding, we make less than minimum wage. The average wedding can take up to a year or longer to plan. This means that your wedding planner is in it for the long haul. They are there every step of the way during the planning stages and right up until you head for your honeymoon. Countless hours are spent pouring over every single detail of your wedding. With that being said, there are two types of wedding planners in this industry….those that do it for the sheer and simple love of it and those that want to get rich. I would like to be rich but I’m not going to get there by wedding planning. I think that for smaller weddings a high planner price tag is just unnecessary. Planners can charge one of two ways… a flat fee for the entire wedding or by the hour. I charge flat fee because this is what I am familiar and comfortable with. Flat fee usually requires a deposit up front which is typically half of the total fee to be charged. Hourly planners may request a deposit and then only charge for billable hours worked on the wedding. The total amount due is usually paid before the day of the wedding. Hourly can work to a couple’s advantage if they have already secured their vendors and have a solid idea about how they want their wedding day to go. This would be more like a Day of Coordinator situation. It really just depends on the level of assistance the couple needs for their big day. Couples need to understand that when they are writing that check to their wedding planner that they know he or she has spent countless hours making sure that this wedding is their best one yet. Weddings are our biggest business card. Having a wedding go bad is like having toilet paper sticking out of the back of your dress. Everyone knows it, everyone see it, but instead of telling you they just walk away. Weddings are no different. Before the web, word of mouth was our biggest advertising. I would like to think that it is still that way. Sure I have this blog, my business Facebook, Instagram, email, Wedding Wire ad, and Gigsalad spot…..but I would like to truly believe that my work speaks for itself and a happy couple is a couple that tells their friends about the awesome job I did.

 

  • We obsess over your budget so that you don’t have to. We all know that weddings cost money. They don’t have to, but a majority of them do. Planners are magical accountants of sorts. We can do things with a budget that would put most book keepers to shame (funny thing is….in my former career I was a book keeper). We keep every receipt and count every little penny that is spent out of your pretty little bride hands. We have suggestions and tips and an unhealthy obsession with Pinterest. Forget binge watching Netflix…..try binge reading all the latest wedding mags while watching every episode of last seasons “Say Yes to the Dress” (I can neither confirm nor deny that there may  have been a lot a lot of coffee and chocolate involved). This isn’t just our job…it’s our way of life. We do this so you don’t have to. We loan you personal fancy lead crystal vases from our private stash because you can’t afford the ones you really want because they are way over budget. We find the linens you are dying to use online for $4 cheaper a table. We stay up until well after a normal bedtime to make sure that all of your guest gifts are hand stamped and wrapped up ready to go. We find the perfect pair of Cinderella shoes for that infamous aisle walk for half the price on sale at Macy’s. We keep things in check all so that you can enjoy, and albeit afford, your wedding day. Trust me when I say this….you can have your dream wedding without breaking the bank. It just takes a little compromise, patience, and planner magic to make it happen. Consider us your fairy godmother!

 

Have I convinced you yet about how awesome wedding planners are? If not, I totally get it. You like to do things your way. That’s totally fine. I just ask that you find at least one person and delegate them to be your go-to on the day of the wedding. Someone not involved in the wedding party. Someone with a good head on their shoulders that can multitask and give direction. If you don’t have anyone like this who can be your wedding backbone so to speak then I strongly encourage you to at least consider a Day of Coordinator. I guarantee that it will save you some money, stress, and time for your wedding.

It may seem silly to spend money on a person just for one day. But we’re not there for just one day. Often it’s a year or more. You become a part of our extended family. We go to cake tastings, vendor appointments, dress fittings, venue viewings, and 4 different Michael’s to get enough rolls of that perfect yellow ribbon for your pew bows. Wedding planners are the both the heroes and Houdini’s of weddings. Let us take your wedding from “Well that was nice” to “WOW”!

Cheers!     Gigi

 

 

 

 

Wedding or Commitment ceremony….finding what works best for you.

tattooWhat I am about to say may be shocking and offensive to some. In fairness, you have been warned! Did you know that you don’t have to be “married” to be married? What exactly do I mean by that you may be asking. I mean the legalness of it all. The fancy piece of paper declaring by law that you are now husband and wife (or wife and wife , or husband and husband). Some people just aren’t cool with the government dictating who they can and cannot marry and how it should all take place. I am kinda in agreement with this train of thought. I’ve always been a little different and non-conformist. I’ve never liked anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. In fact, my own wedding next year will not be a wedding at all but a hand fasting with a big ass party afterwards. No white dress, no attendants in sight, no traditional wedding cake. There will however be a piece of paper at the end of everything legally pronouncing us two married humans. I will be taking DF’s last name (which is a huge stretch from my own….mine is German and his is Japanese). We will be married in a “traditional” sense but our wedding and marriage won’t be traditional at all. I’m ok with this actually and I am looking forward to our permanent domestic partnership (love ya honey! Yes he reads my blog. Cute huh? I think he’s really just making sure I stay out of trouble lol). Legit marriage isn’t for everyone and that’s totally cool. No one is forcing you down the aisle with a pen in hand making you sign over half of all the shit you own. Nope. You don’t have to do that at all. You and your beloved define what your partnership means to you. I’ll be honest…after my first marriage I said I would never get married again. Like….ever. I basically lost trust in everyone and was terrified that I would never open myself up to love again. Thankfully it happened for me and all of these years waiting, doing self work was worth it. I am in a loving and safe relationship. I could not imagine my days without DF in a single one of them. I am sure you feel the same about your better half. And probably like me, you also want a way to celebrate your union. So let’s explore some of the options out there.

 

  • Traditional wedding. This is your average, run of the mill, my parents just spent about $100,00 formal type of event. The white dress, the cake, the rings, the whole nine yards. A reception typically follows the ceremony. There is usually a minister of some sorts and a marriage license is signed. This union is legal and binding folks. The real deal. While not for everyone, it is usually the go-to for most weddings. Think Brides magazine.

 

  • Casual Wedding. At this wedding there may or may not be a ceremony. Usually casual weddings are held outdoors, in back yards, at a friends house, at the justice of the peace downtown. I have been to some really awesome casual weddings. The guest count is usually kept to a minimum and only close family and friends are invited. There may be a pastor or an officiant of some sort delegating over the event. Everything about a casual wedding is optional. You don’t have to have attendants, or a wedding invite, or a even a minister if you so choose. These weddings can be legal or not. You can decide to sign a wedding license or forgo it all together and become partners for life. Weddings bands may or may not be worn or tattoos may be used in place of the traditional hardware. Casual weddings are more on the rise, and these are the type of weddings I love helping a couple plan. They are typically more relaxed than a formal wedding and a hell of a lot cheaper.

 

  • Eloping. This is your basic we-want-to-run-off-and-get-married-with-nobody-there wedding. Most elopements are legal with the couple either going to the courthouse to get married or choosing a private location with an officiant (think destination wedding). More couples these days are eloping to avoid the wedding cost and because they want to keep their ceremony private. Usually a celebratory party ensues afterwards.

 

  • Hand fasting. Typically of Celtic or Nordic descent, handfastings are nothing more than old school Pagan wedding rituals. Back in the old days Parrish priests didn’t make their rounds to the local villages as much as they should. Couples intending on getting hitched usually performed a hand fasting ceremony to signify their love and faithfulness to each other until the priest could come by and make it legal.  The couple stands before their loved ones while an officiant binds their hands together with cords or ribbons signifying their permanent bond (at our hand fasting we are using colored ribbons with each color representing something key to the success of our union). Hand fastings can be made legal marriages if the couple chooses by signing a marriage license before or after the ceremony.

 

  • Commitment ceremony. A commitment ceremony is for those couples that don’t want a legal and binding relationship. There is no piece of paper sealing your fate and the two of you can choose to end things and go your separate ways if need be. With that being said, I know a lot of couples who have performed commitment ceremonies that are still together 20 years later. These ceremonies are truly about the heart and the love felt between the partners. It may take the shape of a traditional ceremony or it may be as something as simple and casual as saying an “I do” in a friends living room.

 

  • Pop-up wedding. The newest of the wedding styles, the pop-up wedding is all about SURPRISE! Actually more like….”Hey guys, I know you all thought you were coming to celebrate my job promotion but SURPRISE! We’re getting married bitches”.  I think this is a cool concept but it can be difficult to pull off it you have your heart set on everyone attending without knowing it is an actual wedding. You rents may get upset because their only baby girl just got married in a bar without any of their close friends and family watching. If tradition is out the window for you (as it is for me ), I say go for it. It’s YOUR day. Do things the way you want. Just make sure that there will be no regrets later. How this wedding works…. you invite friends and fam to an “event” without telling them that you plan to say your vows. Usually these are casual affairs either at someone’s house, a restaurant, or bar. If you love the element of surprise then this just might be right up your alley. Most pop-up weddings are performed by an ordained officiant and are legal, license and all.

 

  • Vegas. Who can say no to Elvis marrying you in a drunken stupor after you lost a virtual F ton of money gambling at the casino??? Hopefully you can. I am not a fan of Vegas weddings personally. For several reasons. They tend to be impulsive which is a recipe for wedding disaster. And guess what?? They are legal. You can’t just change your mind the next morning when you sober up. Do everyone a favor and cross this option off your list. Like right now. DO IT.

 

Hopefully I have given you a few different options to consider when you decide to publically celebrate your love. A piece of paper doesn’t make you any more married than without one. Discuss things with your partner and then you can BOTH decide mutually which option works best for your relationship and your future. Don’t commit to something just because that’s what everybody else wants you to do. If you don’t want a big wedding, then don’t have one. Period. If you don’t want to make it legal, then don’t. This is your life and your family. Do what works for you!

 

Cheers!     Gigi