Maximize Your Venue Visit

Since I regularly give tours at the venue I work at, I thought I would share a few tips tonight on how to maximize your venue tour to ensure you get the necessary information you need as well as be able to visually understand the space as it would be utilized for your event.

1. Make An Appointment
I know it’s easy to get excited about planning an event and start cruising around town at your first free moment to look at venues; however, I would highly recommend calling or emailing ahead to get an appointment. Not only does that ensure the space you are interested in will be available and not occupied by another group, but you can also make sure the coordinator is free. Obviously, there are multiple people at venues who can give you general information about the space but usually the specific questions are best limited to the one or two coordinators who work with clients and events the most.

2. Know Your Objectives
If you go into booking an appointment with a very vague idea of what you are looking for, you ultimately might have to come back to look at the venue again. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint an exact head count, but having a rough estimate will help you two ways: knowing which spaces best fit your group if the venue offers multiple spaces, and if the venue has a food and beverage minimum or per person cost, you will be able to easily ball park how much you are going to spend. Many times rental prices vary based on date, time and availability, so having a preferred date and a back-up date is what I would recommend.

3. Gather Information Ahead of Time
After speaking with you, most vendors will be able to digitally send you some sort of event packet, pricing sheet or menu options. Make sure to look through this prior to your appointment. It’s better to come equipped with questions about things you don’t understand or can be clarified during a tour than trying to think back to your tour and recall information.

4. Gather As Much Information As you Can While You Are There
A great question to ask is if the coordinator has any photos or room layouts of an event similar to yours. It might not be exactly what you decide to do, but it will at least give you a good idea of spacially what the room is capable of offering as well as spark some inspiration for design.

5. Devote A Chunk Of Time To Viewing Venues
Not everyone has the freedom and flexibility to take off a day or afternoon from work for tours and meetings, but regular business hours are often the best times for tours. Why you ask? First and foremost, the majority of major celebrations happen on nights and weekends. If you are limited to nights and weekends only, you might have to work around other events happening that same day at various venues, which can make scheduling multiple appointments in a day challenging. Secondly, the coordinator usually has a hundred things running through his/her head about the upcoming event and as much as he/she tries to give undivided attention to you, he/she could ultimately be distracted by vendors stopping in or tasks that still need to be completed for the event.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For a Follow-Up
If you have narrowed down your list to a couple of venues, don’t be afraid to ask for a follow-up appointment. It won’t be as long as your first appointment, and if you send the coordinator a list of wants/needs ahead of time, he/she is usually more than willing to have some diagrams and mock invoices prepared for you ahead of time. This makes comparing venues much easier. If you have already book a space, I recommend asking if there is another time that the venue is hosting a similar type and size event, so you can see the space laid out in person. Most of the time venues are willing to let you come by and peruse at your leisure prior to the start of an event.

Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

Here I am sitting on my back patio as the sun is setting on the most beautiful day of the year: summer solstice. And with that, it means we are right in the thick of 2017 summer wedding season. Tonight, I wanted to touch on a few pointers I had for outdoor weddings.

Above photo compliments of Love Tree Studios

The trend for wedding ceremonies is definitely moving away from churches and religious affiliated locations, and lots of couples have their eye on a dreamy outdoor space. However, with this decision does come a few additional factors that you must include in your planning. Here are a few tips:

1. Always have a back up option.
In a perfect world, it’s going to be 75 degrees and sunny on your big day, but chance are (especially here in Missouri), you’re going to have some sort of weather to be leery of or that changes your plans all together. Even if there’s not a physical indoor space for you to move to, at least have tents rented if weather looks questionable that way. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

2. It’s the little touches that make the guests feel that much cooler.
More than likely if it’s June and you leave anywhere near me, an outdoor wedding means heat. And your wedding day is definitely one of those days you want to be hospitable to your guests. How about serving a refreshing cocktail or mocktail as guests make their way down to the ceremony site? Or if your budget doesn’t allow for pre-reception beverages, at least provide guests with a self-serve water station (throw in a few slices of sun summer fruit to add in some color and flavor!) If you have a program, most guests are going to use it as a fan, so why not make it a bit easier on them and get your programs printed on a fan? It’s functional as well as completely adorable.
Above photo compliments of engaFOTO compliments of Madison Sanders Events. 

3. Give guests a heads up.
On your invitation or wedding websites, make sure to warn guests about the outdoor ceremony or reception. First and foremost, it will help guide their attire for the event. Instead of a taffeta cocktail dress, ladies might opt for a breezy high-low number, and gentlemen might go for a shirt and tie versus a full suit. Plus, it warns guests to be particular about their shoe choice: wedges versus heels and loafers instead of dress shoes.

Above photo compliments of Silverbox Photography

4. Be OK with imperfections.
Inside, it’s easy to control all the variables. Doors can be closed, noisy air conditioning can be temporarily turned off, and crying babies can be escorted to the lobby. But when you’re outside, there’s so many additional variables that can play into your perfect vision: wind, the location of the sun, bugs, surrounding noises, etc. I often see brides get hung up on these details, but unless the weather is ungodly or the bugs are eating people alive, guests tend to not even notice these details. They are too focused on the sweet vows being recited or catching a glimpse of the adorable flower girl as she makes her way down the aisle. Just be prepared to be OK with the imperfections and embrace them as part of the day’s experience.

Wedding Registry Items: Party Style

I’ve recently had friends ask me items they should include on their wedding registries. And yes, I have some very practical answers: a good-quality knife set, a spare set of sheets, mailing labels, etc. But I also have some fun and oh-so-necessary ideas for entertaining. Plus, gifts are that much better when they aren’t something you would necessarily purchase yourself.

1. Mud Pie’s Salsa Spoon Set

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Because yes, tacos are always a good idea. My aunt got me and my sister a set of these adorable Mud Pie serving spoons. We love to get Mexican together when I am back in town visiting, so it was a fun and personal touch to have these for my own kitchen. Mud Pie has some adorable gifts, and you can find their seasonal products locally at Southern Rose.

2.  Personalized Barware


Well, I should warn you (in case you haven’t realized yet), I am a huge monogram girl, so when Ryan’s cousin had barware personalized for us, I was instantly in love. I unwrapped the gift to find a set of stemless wine glasses and a set of rocks glasses. It was a super sweet gift and perfect for us since I am a champagne girl and Ryan is a whiskey guy. But after we opened the boxes, we realized Jen had gone the extra mile and personalized them with an “R” etched on each of the wine glasses and an “R” and “Ruprecht” on each of the rocks glasses. So stinkin’ sweet! And they have by far been one of our most-used gifts (not sure what that says about us….)

3. Folding Chairs & Table

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I know, I know. I sound like your mom. But really, especially if you’re in an apartment or a small starter home, it’s nice to have the option of additional seating. Folding chairs might not be the cutest things, but they are completely practical and super important for hosting a house full of guests. Plus, you never know when an additional table will come in handy (garage sales, crafts, gift wrapping, etc.)

4. Kate Spade Food For Thought Placemats

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Very few of these designs go with my normal day-to-day kitchen decor, but I love having these animated placemats to pull out for special occasions. The “Eat Cake For Breakfast” mats are perfect for a brunch or friend’s birthday, and I somehow manage to keep the “Be Merry Be Bright” placemats out around the holidays, even though glitter and Ryan don’t get along very well. I tend to have the most luck finding Kate Spade houseware items at Dillard’s here in Columbia.

5. Liar’s Dice

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The possibilities are endless for registries! Think outside the box, especially if you already live with your future hubby. Games are a great addition and offer an affordable gift option as well. One game that our family has become particularly fond of is Liar’s Dice. It’s similar to the card game BS. It’s the perfect ice breaker for a party, and it gets even more fun when drinking and higher-stakes betting is involved!
Side note: Amazon offers wedding registries, which allows you to broaden your items a little bit more than sticking to department stores. 

6. A Drink Tub

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If you and your guests are outside enjoying the patio, it’s great to have a way to serve and chill your beverages without having to run inside to the fridge constantly. There’s tons of freestanding, table top and various metal drink caddies and tubs. I registered for a beautiful hammered metal tub like this one from Pottery Barn. True story: I had to leave the majority of my shower gifts from my Wisconsin shower at home with my mom until she drove down to visit me, but I was so excited about the drink caddy that i actually put it in my suitcase and packed my clothes inside and around it just so I could get it home to use it. Ultimate packing challenge accepted!

Free, Convenient and Totally-Worth-It Workouts

Well, let’s state the obvious: no, I am not a fitness coach. In fact, I have a hard time keeping myself motivated to workout and eat healthy. But I’ve recently become obsessed with some online workouts, and I wanted to share them with you!

popsugar-6When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, I grabbed an easy-read book at the airport titled “Power Your Happy.” It gives insight into Lisa Sugar’s life and how she created the online pop culture source PopSugar. If you’re a go-getter girl who is searching for success, life balance and the opportunity to have a family all at the same time, I definitely recommend the read.

Anyways, I dabbled a bit on PopSugar’s website, but I had never really considered it a go-to. That was until I discovered their workouts. They are amazing! First and foremost because they are free. I had recently contemplated paying for Beach Body workouts, but these online workouts kicked that idea to the curb.

Now you’re probably wondering why the heck I’m endorsing a workout website on an event planning blog. Well, let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter what event you’re attending, everyone wants to look their best! Whether you are the bride who is the center of attention, headed to a high school reunion where you haven’t seen people in years or just want to look back at the photos and be proud of your shape, working out is a necessity.

And if you’re anything like me, time and money are two of the things that get in the way of having a killer body. So, these are the reasons that I love PopSugar workouts:

1. They’re completely free!

Yup, you heard me. Zero dollars. All you need is a laptop (which i often hook up to my TV through an HDMI cord) and yourself. There are some workouts that require a small set of weights or a mat, but for the most part, they use your body weight for effective workouts. They even have some workouts that you can adapt or take to the gym to utilize while on an elliptical machine or treadmill. So if you already have a gym workout, you can still use them to mix it up and keep muscle memory guessing again.

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2. The workouts are quick yet effective.

Even if you just Google “PopSugar workouts,” before getting to the site you can click on the timeframe you’re looking for.

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When you have a hectic schedule or just not feeling the hour and a half commitment to get dressed, drive to the gym, workout and drive home, here is your answer. My favorites are the 30-minute workouts, or I like to mix a 20-minute strengthening workout with a 10-minute cardio blast.

3. The variety.

There’s a little bit of everything on this site. There’s high-intensity, fat-burning workouts that will leave you dripping in sweat. These are my favorite to do when I’ve eaten my energy-packed foods all day and work hasn’t completely drained me.

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There’s yoga and Pilates videos that are a little bit more low key. I love doing these workouts in the morning when I want to get some fitness in prior to work, but I don’t have the energy to jump around (did I mention I’m not a morning person?)

popsugar-4And lastly, there’s tons of celebrity trainers that know how to kick your booty while keeping the workouts exciting and different. My personal favorite is the workout with Selena Gomez’s personal trainer. No wonder that girl looks so good!

So if you find yourself saying you don’t have time to workout or you don’t have the money to spend on a gym membership or a subscription to a workout program, the PopSugar workouts are the answer to your prayers. No go knock ’em dead at your next event, and I hope you feel your absolute best!

Note: All photos in the blog post are images from the PopSugar website. 

The Seasons of Weddings

It was quite a busy year of weddings in 2016, and I had the pleasure of attending weddings all 12 months of the year. For today’s post, I pulled some of my favorite weddings from this past year’s archives. Using the seasons as a guide, I wanted to share with you some snapshots of these weddings that so beautifully fit into the seasons:

Spring
Bride & Groom: Jill Elder & Josh Smith
Wedding Date: June 4, 2016…Ok, so I stretched this “spring” wedding. It really was at the beginning of summer, but with all the beautiful colored blooms, I couldn’t help but include this in the spring section because it’s a great inspiration for spring brides.
Ceremony Location: Columbia Country Club Event Lawn
Reception Venue: Columbia Country Club
Photos compliments of Silverbox

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The Pre-Wedding:
Jill and her bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful matching robes during their wedding preparations and started the day off with floral accents from the beginning!

 

 

jill-josh-2The Color Scheme:
Everywhere you looked were bright, beautiful flowers. From the ceremony archway to the reception tables, pops of purples, pinks, yellows, greens and oranges were all complimented with gold accents. The bridal party wore greys, whites and blacks, which allowed the flower colors to shine.

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The Dessert:
A five-tier cake had the spotlight as guests entered the ballroom for the reception, which of course was also dripping in flowers. Edith Hall worked her cake magic once again!

 

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The Sweet Touch:
Josh proposed to Jill while the two were on a camping trip. So, guests were given “S’more Lovin'” as their favors, which were individually packaged s’mores supplies.

 

jill-josh-7A Unique Detail:
One of my favorite details was incorporated into this wedding. TooRooster Artistry was at the reception live painting each and every detail of the celebration. If you haven’t checked out Cindy Scott’s work, definitely do! It’s entertaining for the guests, and a great memory for the couple to take home with them.

 

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The Wow Factor:
I know I’ve talked A LOT about these flowers, but Kent’s Floral Gallery really outdid themselves. The show stopper? This gorgeous archway that the couple stood under as they said their “I dos.”

 

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The Seasonal Touch:
With warmer weather and a large guest list, the couple utilized the country club’s veranda for outdoor seating in addition to the indoor seating.

 

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The Perfect Ending: 
This reaction. Doesn’t every groom want a bride who is this happy?

 

 

Summer:
Bride & Groom: Alex Weishaar & Zachary Kluesner
Wedding Date: June 25, 2016
Ceremony Location: Church of St. Mary’s in Fulton, MO
Reception Venue: Sorenson Estates in Columbia, MO

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The Pre-Wedding:
Alex is a huge fan of monograms…ok, that’s an understatement. She LOVES monograms and was super excited to be able to change her monogram to her new last name. It did not surprise me one bit when the bridemaid’s gift were adorned with each girl’s monogram.

 

 

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The Color Scheme:
Keeping in tune with the naturalness of the outdoor reception, the wedding decor was full of ivories, creams, golds and forest greens.

 

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The Dessert:
A simple yet elegant three-tier white cake adorned with flowers coordinating with the bouquets and centerpieces. Plus, there was a nod to the groom with his own groom’s cake.

 

 

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The Sweet Touch:

Since the reception was outdoors and there was lots of dancing to be done, Alex and Zach offered their guests flip flops to be warn when the party got started.

 

 

13533086_10153833626035914_1982605932848900480_n 13537789_10153833625935914_4660732316999410563_nA Unique Detail:
If you live in Columbia, you are aware of the downtown staple: souvenir plastic cups. Because the couple met at Harpo’s where Alex used to work and manage, they served their guests drinks in personalized Harpo’s cups.

 

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The Wow Moment:
When Alex and her mom came down the aisle holding hands, I couldn’t help but tear up. it was evident how strong their relationship was and really represented them standing by each other’s sides through life’s endeavors.

 

 

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The Seasonal Touch:
It wouldn’t be a summer party without a game of bags! During cocktail hour, guests were able to socialize outdoors with a little friendly competition using this personalized game of bags.

 

 

 

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The Perfect Ending:
The bride and groom along with their guests danced the night way under the stars, moon and this gorgeous arrangement of Italian-style string lights designed by SW Productions.

 

 

Fall
Bride & Groom: Emily Milford & Tom Stevenson
Wedding Date: November 5, 2016
Ceremony Location: Mary Queen of Peace in Webster Groves, MO
Reception Venue: Forest Park Visitors Center in St. Louis, MO

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The Pre-Wedding:
The crisp, fall air and the early rising for the bridesmaids coupled so perfectly with the mismatched flannels worn during hair and makeup.

 

 

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The Color Scheme:
Red was the obvious bridesmaid dress choice for Emily’s love of the color, and rich dark and pastel florals created the perfect contrast for the fall festivities.

 

 

 

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The Dessert:
A classic beauty in white adorned with coordinating flowers, it was simple yet elegant just like this couple.

 

 

 

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The Sweet Touch:
Each of these bridesmaids and all of their mothers have been friends since these girls were in elementary school…talk about long-lasting friendships! The ceremony also took place at their elementary school.

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A Unique Detail:
Both Tom and Emily have a true love for beer. Tom works for Anheuser Busch, and Emily has an immense knowledge of craft beers. So instead of stuffy, posed photos, the couple decided to have the wedding party enjoy beers at Urban Chestnut Brewery during photo time for more candid photos.

 

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The Wow Moment:
Although my favorite moment of the night was when the groom swept Emily off her feet (literally) and spun her around during the first dance, we also were very appreciate of this firey sunset that was a gorgeous backdrop for the perfect day.

 

 

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The Seasonal Touch:
Guests were greeted by a table of small white pumpkins, which were not only great seasonal decor but also doubled as escort cards.

 

 

 

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The Perfect Ending:
Tom and Emily said goodbye to their guests as they exited through a (rather long) sparkler aisle lined with all of their guests. It was truly a magical part to the evening.

 

 

Winter
Bride & Groom: Carroline Kirtley & Michael Stoll
Wedding Date: December 17, 2016
Ceremony Location: Rocheport United Methodist Church in Rocheport, MO
Reception Venue: Columbia Country Club

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The Pre-Wedding:

A nasty ice storm the evening before made travel into Columbia a little crazy and changed the plans around for the rehearsal. But a little inclement weather cannot stop true friendship!

 

 

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The Color Scheme:
We saw lots of shades of red this year, and of course a winter wedding wouldn’t be complete without it! A mixture of burgundies and pinks popped from the flowers, and lots of wintry greenery was incorporated on the mantels, in the bouquets and as part of the centerpieces thanks to Addie Jane Originals.

 

 

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The Dessert:
A naked cake. Whimsical and perfectly fitting for this bride’s style.

 

 

 

 

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The Sweet Touch:
Although I wasn’t at the church to witness this precious moment, this photo of the bride and her flower girls is one of my favorites of the day!

 

 

 

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A Unique Detail:

Carroline enlisted the help of Courtney Canine with the rental company Pretty Little Things to add beautiful antiques to compliment the 1920s venue. My personal favorite was the pairing of a vintage table, an old window turned into a sign and and old mailbox used for the card box. Adorable!

 

 

15578487_1124212824358654_1220016279465755869_nThe Wow Moment: 
The best man’s speech was great! I wish I had a video of it, so I could share. I’ve seen lots and lots of speeches, and his was definitely up there as one of the best. He was witty, showed emotion but held it together and truly summed up the relationship between himself and the groom.

 

15542053_1124212697692000_828034969302906938_nA Seasonal Touch:
At each place setting was a thank you note from the bride and groom expressing their gratitude for all of their guests attending their big day. And laid right on top of that was a small piece of greenery. It was such a small detail but really tied everything in together.

 

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The Perfect Ending: 

Just after the bride and groom swayed to their first dance, a light sprinkling of fluffy snow began falling and made for one epic photo! Photography compliments of Catherine Rhodes Photography.

Wedding Show Must-Haves

It’s wedding show season, brides! Shortly after the start of engagement season (yes, that is a thing), is the start of wedding show season. Even with the crazy ice storm that’s threatening Columbia this weekend, we still have plans to be at the Super Wedding Show at the Holiday Inn Executive Center. Come visit me from noon to 4:00 PM if you’d like 🙂

With that, I wanted to share a few tips for attending a wedding show as a bride or groom:

1. Prepare Information Stickers
Almost every booth you visit will have some sort of drawing or giveaway. And in order to be entered into the drawing, the vendor will most likely ask for your information. Instead of having to rewrite the same information over and over, come prepared with a few sheets of address stickers. I suggest including the following information:

  • Bride’s Name
  • Groom’s Name
  • Anticipated or Scheduled Wedding Date (feel free to give a specific date or broad range, i.e. Summer 2017)
  • Phone Number
  • E-mail Address

Some vendors might ask for an address, but most likely vendors will want your e-mail address over your actual mailing address. If there’s any other information needed, then you can write it by hand. But having the labels ahead of time will save you LOTS of time and gives you an opportunity to make sure you get around to each booth.

2. Come Hungry
Even if the show takes place over a meal hour, don’t eat before you come. Between caterers, bakers and sweet treats to lure attendees in, booths will be offering tons of food. And if you come with a full stomach, chances are you’re going to feel stuffed when you leave. With that being said, I do recommend bringing a water bottle with you if you plan to stay for an extended period of time as lots of booths have food but not all have beverages.

3. Take It All In, But Don’t Commit Right Away
Lots of vendors will allow you to sign up for their services right there. As tempting as it can be to check needs off your list, wedding shows can be overwhelming. Definitely make appointments with people, take information and get copies of contracts, but I would not recommend signing anything on the spot. You want to make sure you check out all of the booths and options and take some time to think it over. Don’t give into the pressure of a vendor who says you are “going to miss out if you don’t sign up today!”

The Aftermath

The “I Do’s” have been said, the guests have left and there is a mountain of presents for you and your honey to open. Aside from maybe a little bit of sadness that the Big Day has now come and gone, there are still a few things you need to tie up. So today’s post is about all of those after-the-wedding details that often get missed. And if you and your spouse plan on jetting off on an adventurous honeymoon right after the knot is tied, it is usually family members or friends who get stuck with these tasks.

I have compiled a list of things you will want to think about BEFORE the wedding to prevent any headaches from happening AFTER the wedding.

1. Take the next work day off.

Even if you aren’t headed off on a vacation immediately, you will definitely want to have the next work day off (usually Monday for most brides and grooms). The day following the wedding is usually filled with lots of family members leaving, possibly a bridal brunch, a little haziness from the previous night’s festivities and let’s face it, some much needed R&R. The next business/work day is crucial to give you time for the following:

  • packing for your honeymoon or leaving for your honeymoon
  • returning rentals
  • organizing all of the decor and take-homes from the wedding
  • giving you time to get a head start on thank yous
  • feeling like you have a day to breathe

2. The clean up crew.

More often than not, this is the most dreaded part about the wedding celebration. As the honored guests, it should not be your responsibility to clean up after the celebration. You should be cruising off into newlywed bliss. But you will want to choose your clean up crew wisely. You don’t want to have to rely on the bridesmaid who is also the life of the party. Holding a glass of wine while cleaning up really just isn’t productive. You also might realize that those “reliable” people you asked the night of to stay behind and help clean disappear when it comes time for the bar and DJ to shut down.

My advice is to designate certain individuals: a wedding planner, a close family friend, extended family, etc. to be in charge of helping to tear down and clean up after the festivities end. That way, those individuals know ahead of time and can be relied on that evening or the morning after to be at the venue to help load up and clean up all of the wedding supplies. Remember the multiple trips you took to the wedding venue with all of your beautiful decor? Yeah, that’s not really something you want to  get stuck moving back by yourself the day after the wedding.

3. The fine print.

Whether it’s rentals, the venue or another vendor you’ve been working with, you want to make sure you read the guidelines and fine print on your contract. I am not talking necessarily for the day of the wedding but any miscellaneous leftover details that need to be tied up:

  • Do your rentals need to be cleaned or washed prior to returning? Whether it’s plates that need to be washed, chargers that need to be wiped down or votives and candlesticks that need to be soaked free of wax, most rental companies will have a fine for returning dirty rentals.
  • Does your venue have a specific time all guests need to be out by? If so, don’t schedule your party up to that very last minute. Give yourself enough time to make sure intoxicated guests can get cabs or take an Uber home. Make sure there is enough time for clean up to be done that evening or check to see if the venue lets you store your supplies there overnight.
  • Are there parking restrictions around your venue? With how easy it is these days to get transportation home, it’s silly for guests to even think about driving after they have had a few cocktails. But, you will want to make sure that if guests choose to leave their vehicles overnight around your venue that they will not get towed by the city, the venue, etc.
  • If you decide to extend your celebration because all of your guests are having the best time of your life, what fees are you going to incur that might seem “worth it” the night of but not so much when you have to write the check. This list can include: extending the bar timeframe, extending the time of your service staff, extending your DJ contract, extending your photographer, etc. Most vendors will offer options to extend the evening of, but some of them will cost you some steep hourly fees.

4. The gift that keeps on giving. 

I see it after every wedding. The bride or the mother of bride looks longingly at all of the gorgeous floral arrangements that helped set the mood and scene for the day. But now what? Aside from the bride’s bouquet that she might want to dry out and save, what on earth do you do with the rest of the flowers?

  • Give them as take-home gifts to guests who helped throughout the big day (your clean-up crew, whoever took your gifts and cards home, your vendors, etc.) Just make sure to bring.
  • Make arrangements prior to wedding day with a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility. There’s no better feeling than to brighten someone’s day with a beautiful arrangement!

Even though you might not think of EVERYTHING prior to the wedding day, arranging a few of these details will make the day following your wedding just that much sweeter!