A Few Of My Favorite Things: 2017 Wedding Edition

At the end of each year, I pull together a post that dives into my favorite event ideas from the year. And although I know 2017 isn’t over yet, I just wrapped up my wedding season at work and wanted to do a special wedding edition of My Favorite Things.

These are ideas, tricks and overall good-for-the-soul tidbits from weddings I’ve coordinated, attended or I know people who have attended, so take a look if you plan on throwing a wedding bash next year because you might want to incorporate a few of these!

If The Shoe Fits
This gorgeous wedding shot by the talented ladies at Love Tree Studios was completely centered around none other than a pair of shoes. And if you know me, I am totally a shoe girl, so I love that Jaime and Todd used these shoes (which they also found a matching tie for) as their color and design inspiration for their big day. And a special shout out to Kent’s Floral Gallery for making the floral pattern come to life!

The Veteran Flower Girls
Yes, little girls in fluffy, tutu-like dresses are adorable. But how much cuter is it to incorporate your grandma’s as flower girls instead of putting them in the traditional prelude? Those smiles on their faces just tell it all!

Frost Yourself (Or Your Invitation)
“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” anybody? I was drooling over these gorgeous vellum envelopes when my invitation to a friend’s wedding came in the mail. You spend lots of time and money on gorgeous invitations that people hang up in their house as the countdown to your big day approaches, so why not package them in a pretty frosted envelope?

Bring Your Wedding Day to Life
I think Cindy is on my list every year, but I just love having a live painter at events! Not only does it create an amazing keepsake for your special day, but it’s also a great way to incorporate an interactive element for your guests. Plus, it’s fun to compare the real photography to TooRooster Artistry’s painted version.

Dripping with Deliciousness
I’m all about a naked cake because A) I think they’re gorgeous, and B) I am not a frosting fan, so a naked cake is the perfect solution to a dessert that I enjoy without the top layer. However, this naked cake produced by All About Cakes definitely takes the cake–yes, pun intended. It was my favorite cake of the year! Thanks to Scott Patrick Myers for the photo!

Setting the Scene
I watch tons of wedding videos, but the opener to this video produced by Byler Media was one of my favorites. It not only kept religion in the wedding day, but it also incorporated the bride and groom’s wedding party. Clearly, there was a little forethought in this one 😉

Coordinated Chaos
As someone who had her bridesmaids wear mismatched dresses in her own wedding, I continue to be a fan of non-matching dresses. But what I really love and hope continues into 2018 wedding trends is not only mismatched colors but a mixture of colors, textures and patterns. I love the depth that various patterns and textures can bring in whether it’s through bridal bouquets or in this instance, through bridesmaid dresses.

Photo compliments of Erin Evangeline Photography. 

Extending the Wedding Day
We all know about the traditional act of giving roses to the mothers during the ceremony. Well, Sally and David decided to switch it up a little bit. Their mothers were part of a special moment during the ceremony where they each brought a rose to the alter where David and Sally were standing. Sally and David then exchanged roses as their first gift as husband and wife. They put them in a vase that stayed at the front for the remainder of the ceremony. While that was cute, the message that the officiant continued to explain is what really struck a cord with me. The vase they selected for these flowers was going to be displayed empty in their home. Whenever Sally and David have a fight, are at a loss for words, etc. one of them will place a single rose in that vase to let the other know exactly what they are thinking. No words are needed, no special cards, just a single rose that will transport the two of them back to their wedding day and to those promises each of them made. How sweet is that?

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Don’t Put Grandma Solely in Charge of the Kiddos

This is something I’ve witnessed multiple times just over the past six weeks or so as I’ve been coordinating weddings at work. The Mother of the Bride only gets to partially enjoy the wedding day because she spends much of her time distracted by grandkids.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Every other day, it’s perfectly acceptable for Grandma time, but I feel terrible when Mothers of the Bride or Mothers of the Groom don’t get to fully enjoy their role because they are also on babysitting duty. Usually this issue stems from one or both parents of her grandkids taking part of the bridal party. Therefore, when Mom and Dad are up at the head table, who is in charge of their little ones? Here are a few suggestions I have.

  1. If the in-laws are invited to the wedding, put them in charge of the grandkids. This worked out great at our wedding because our nephews were able to be part of our wedding as ring bearers and tear up the dance floor at the reception, but my mother-in-law was able to enjoy the day as Mother of the Groom. Instead, my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law was on Grandma duty.
  2. Hire a baby-sitter to watch after the kids. This might sound strange, but if the in-laws aren’t invited to the wedding and there isn’t quite the perfect person to watch after the kids, hire a baby-sitter to come to the reception to watch after them and be in charge of taking them home. This can also be a great option for family members who have small children but also want to stay a little later at the reception. The sitter can be in charge of a handful of kids.
  3. Don’t bring the kids to the reception. I know this option isn’t quite as easy to do, but depending on the kids’ age, it might just be easier to take them home between ceremony and reception to be with a sitter, so Mom and Dad can enjoy the evening and Grandma isn’t on duty. This might be a necessity if the reception isn’t kid friendly.

Far too much, I’ve seen the Mother of the Bride or Mother of the Groom not being able to sit and enjoy dinner because she’s running after little ones down the hall. Or, she almost misses the first dance because she’s in the lobby consoling a screaming baby.

It’s not fair to these moms because they’ve spent a lot of time and energy planning the big day with their son or daughter. Not to mention, they are probably helping to pay for the event too. In addition to the bride and groom, she is a hostess as well, and she should have the opportunity to soak up the special moments of the day, mingle with guests and not have to leave early to take kiddos back home.

No, You Are Not the Exception To The Rule

Hey, is this you in this photo? Yes, I’m talking about the lady with the big ol’ tablet taking a photo or the guy across the aisle holding up his cell phone.

Photo by Tom Pumford. 

I say that in a joking matter, and no I am not going to spend this blog post bit…er…complaining about people who don’t follow rules. The purpose of this post is to check yourself. Are you being one of THOSE people? You might be and not even realize it!

The idea for this post came to me after I was coordinating a wedding this past weekend. The officiant opened the ceremony by welcoming guests and politely made a request in honor of the couple to leave the documenting to the hired professionals and to truly be present in the moment with them. Not event 30 seconds later, a guest sitting the very middle of the audience stood and started taking photos on his iPhone. “Ummmm hello….?” was what I really wanted to say outlout, but instead I just shook my head and glanced around as the other vendors and guests looked at the gentleman in horror.

Here’s another one of my favorites. The ceremony has just wrapped up, the couple is officially Mr. and Mrs., and the bridal party and family begin to congregate off to the side to take photos. Then all of a sudden, there’s a hoard of people heading in the direction of the newlyweds saying to the people they are with, “I just want to say hello to them really quick.” Can I be blunt with you? All 250 guests want to do the exact same thing. If they choose not to do a receiving line, there’s probably a reason for that (time, weather, etc.), and the couple will absolutely make their way around to socialize with you later.

Photo by Tim Mossholder.

Or for example, let’s say you’re attending an event that is taking place at a public location and only part of the venue is dedicated to the private event. It’s OK for you to ignore the signage about where the private event is located and help yourself to other amenities that are not intended for you, right? Probably not. That would be like someone from the general population coming into the private party and helping themselves to the complimentary appetizers. That wouldn’t be OK, now would it?

I’m not trying to sound like a Negative Nancy. It just baffles me how many people think they’re the exception to the rule. News flash: if you are asking for a special request, special accommodations or to be the exception, you aren’t the only one. Lots of people are doing it. You don’t want to be one of THOSE people that is being talked about after the event. Just tryin’ to help you out!

Inform, Inform, Inform

People are not mind readers. As much as we would love for people to know what we are thinking at certain times, it’s inevitably not going to happen. And especially when you are inviting people to an event or trying to coordinate a large amount of people, it’s important to communicate exactly when and where you need people to be.

Before the Event
Verbiage on your invite is key. This is your opportunity to prepare guests for your event. If the timeframe of your event is over a normal eating time, but you are not planning on serving a full meal, make sure guests know just appetizers and drinks are being served. Is there pertinent clothing information they need to know? Is it a costume party, a formal event, or is there a need for specific type of footwear (think outdoor venue where heels would not be an appropriate choice) needed? Are there specific directions guests need to know? Sometimes an address and specific instructions once they arrive on property are important. Is there parking on site, or do they need to find parking close by? Are there detours or road closures due to constructions or citywide events? A successful event starts with communication prior to its start.

Photo compliments of Catherine Rhodes Photography.
Photo compliments of Scott Patrick Myers Photography.

During the Event
Posting a timeline somewhere at the event helps guests to know where they need to be when and exactly how long each portion of the event is. If there’s a silent auction that closes at a particular time, you might want to note that in a program. Or if you have a long cocktail hour, letting guests know what time dinner is served allows them to know they have time to mingle and walk around before finding their seats. And if there is a particular group of people who need to be aware of an activity, it’s always helpful to make an announcement about it. For example, if you need family to stick around after a ceremony for family photos, have the officiant make a reminder announcement following the ceremony.

Photo compliments of D Squared Designs.

After the Event
Showing your appreciation for guests’ attendance and if they brought you a gift is proper etiquette. Follow-up can also be a great way to remind guests where they can go online to find party or photo booth pics. Or if there’s still opportunities to make a donation to the cause of the evening, make sure to mention that in your follow-up email or thank you.

By taking the time to do each of these, your guests will remain well informed, and the overall flow of the event will be much smoother!

Photo compliments of KatFour Photography

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.

The Knot Workshop: Kansas City

You guys! I had the coolest opportunity a few weeks ago to attend one of The Knot Workshops, which was in Kansas City. If you get a chance to go to one, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Not only did I learn a ton of information and how to utilize social media and digital platforms to grow a business, but there was lots of networking, gorgeous event details and beautifully catered food. Here are a few of the talented speakers we got to hear from throughout the day:

Jesi Haack, Owner & Creative Director of Jesi Haack Design
If you are arsty, love a good loud print and have ambition for big things, this girl will be a huge inspiration to you! Check out her work: @jesihaackdesign
Plus, she’s a mama of four kiddos, so she knows how to balance a kick ass career and being a family woman!

Brian Leahy, Owner & Lead Photographer at Brian Leahy Photography
Not only is this photographer crazy talented, but he has the networking game down to a science. He highly encourages digital stalking, which we all know I excel at, so I was loving his presentation! My favorite tip of his? Don’t drive to a networking event. Instead, Uber there, so you can spend valuable time looking at your potential contacts. Driving is a waste of time.
Check out his work: @brianleahyphoto

Stacy Stahl, Director at How He Asked 
Ok, this girl is simply a genius. Basically, she took my down time activity at work and created a successfully huge business idea out of it. She started the website HowHeAsked.com where they feature proposal stories, proposal advice and everything you could need for the perfect way to pop the question.
Follow her and all her proposal stories: @howheasked

The workshop took place at the beautiful Gallery Event Space in Kansas City and was adorned with beautiful pops of green, texture and bright flowers that created an urban garden party feel thanks to Ultrapom and Blue Bouquet. And catering was provided by the venue. Everything was creative and bite-size, and we all know I love mini everything! And of course the fabulous Madi Sanders from Madison Sanders Events flawlessly executed the entire day. Way to go, girl!