underage drinking at a home wedding, lesson for us all …

The beauty of planning a home wedding (which is one of our expertise wedding planning services that we offer) is that it is so personal and intimate. It’s almost as if you feel you “aren’t having a formal party”, like you might if you had attended a country club or rented a hotel ballroom. However, you still have to abide by the laws, especially when it comes to under age drinking.

There is a juror case that is happening right now in Raleigh,, N.C. where an 18-year-old was killed in a drunk driving accident after leaving a wedding reception at a private home. The parents of the wedding reception are being charged with aiding and abetting the underage teen. It is still under speculation where the teenager and his friends got the alcohol, however it’s being implied that at the wedding reception there was more than enough alcohol to consume. Being a planner of many home weddings, this doesn’t surprise me. It’s much easier to get booze at a private event.

My heart goes out to both families. I am confident that no one wanted the end of that day to be this outcome.  So what can we learn from this?

how to manage your bar at your home wedding

1. Hire licensed bartenders.  

These are people who are competent and have complied with the laws of their state to not over serve. Back them up if they refuse to serve over intoxicated people. NOTE: New Indiana law requires bartenders to not only be licensed, but to carry an additional certification with the State of Indiana.

2. Take out additional liability policy on your homeowner’s insurance. 

You should do this anyway, even if you are not having alcohol to protect yourself. However, an open bar it is paramount to have additional liability. And for TWO days. If the reception concludes at 12am, it’s the next day. NOTE: A licensed bartender does not exempt you from liability, it’s not the same as a catering license to sell alcohol. And it still doesn’t exempt you from liability.

3. Use your caterer’s licensed bartenders. 

Point #1 is for people who wish to provide their own alcohol (which saves money). If you can spend the extra money, it’s a better peace of mind to use their bartenders.

4. Lock up the booze in the house.

Your family knows where you stash your booze.

5. Be aware.

This is difficult to do as wedding guests are pulling you in different directions, especially if you are the hosts. Back up the bartenders … do not let them serve underage. If you see a teenager with a drink, pour it out. Don’t let them leave.

6. Take away keys.

The truth is, an 18-year-old will find a way to drink at a wedding, or at any other event for that matter. As a pre-caution … be sure your son or daughter’s friends are going to spend the night. Or they have to check in with you before they leave. This is not condoning the situation, just being cautious.

One of the saddest part about this story is the 18-year-old who died called his Mom and said he needed a ride. While in route to pick up him, he got in a car and drove anyway. An impaired decision.

Let’s turn this tragic situation into a learning tool so this doesn’t have to happen to someone else’s family.

feature photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!

hello! from the pfe team

We’ve been busier than this wedding season than ants at a picnic, so the blog has taken a hit. however what’s great about taking a hiatus is that we come up with all these ideas to share with you, from real weddings.

Like this past summer. We had clients who held a private resident wedding. They rented a bathroom trailer for the ladies and porta-johns for the men. And to make extra certain only the women used the trailers, they did this to the urinals:


Here’s to hoping these plants didn’t get watered during the reception. Wait for more to come!

featured and blog photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!

private residence weddings NEED a planner…

Well thank you everyone for all the texts, emails, tweets and FB posts about our wedding last weekend which I encouraged all of you to follow our #behindthescenes.

I loved how while the ceremony was going on my phone was BLOWING up with “congratulations” texts from vendors and friends all over the country. You see the horrible rain and bad weather literally STOPPED 1.5 hours before the ceremony began. cutting it close, but a Win is a Win.

This was a very personal wedding for us. Yes, part of it was that the bride has breast cancer … but we don’t want that to be the whole story. We have planned this wedding for over a year! We’re invested with our clients! And we worked hard to pull it off, with the help of her fabulous dad and step-mom.

We continue to see a trend of more private residence weddings. It’s personal. It’s lovely. And it can be a lot of hard work. Over the past 10 years we have really honed our skills for these types of events.

Here’s just a FEW reasons to why you need a planner for your home or private residence wedding:


  • Setup is ridiculous. Seriously … vendors galore and all have to be scheduled accurately for delivery AND pickup. You have to bring in everything! Tent, chairs, dance floor, dishes, bathrooms, trash cans, electrical needs etc. You don’t want to manage this. You want to get a massage and have your nails done.
  • We come up with Plan A, Plan B and sometimes a Plan C to pull off your wedding day the way you want it to happen. Of course, Mother Nature can wipe through all those plans (she’s a real *B* sometimes), but we do everything humanly possible.
  • We get the A game from vendors. They love to work with planners (hello … referrals = business). We prepare, inform and contact everyone many, many times with private residence weddings. Everyone is on the same page, especially as changes happen.
  • When there is bad weather, we do the grunt work. You don’t want your family in their pretty dresses or tuxes sweating and wiping down chairs. Or walking through mud. We scraped mud this past weekend and got rained on. Our hair wasn’t the best, but who cares … we are hired help.
  • We handle the emergencies. Ran out of liquor and guests have been drinking? We run to the store. Need to herd the out-of-town guests to the transportation bus so they can get back to the hotel? We do that. Guest leaves a cell phone in said transportation bus and needs to contact someone at 12:30am? We do that. And more.


We could make this list a lot longer … but we’ll save more details for another blog post.

So for a little eye candy, here are a few of the photos from this past weekend. We’ll do a more formal post when we get the professional photographer photos from stewartography. Cannot wait to see them!

IMG_4086 IMG_4085 IMG_4084 IMG_4083 IMG_4082

from the bride

And just in case you were wondering how hard a planner works, here is my Fitbit for JUST the wedding day (not the two days of setup). I walked more than 10 miles.


plan on!


let’s keep this wedding intimate

I read an interesting article on USAToday.com searching for a Natalie Portman photo of her wedding this past weekend. The article talks about how celebrities are turning to having “home” or “personal residence” weddings more and more. They love the intimate feel of it and it’s so much more personal.

We have been seeing this trend grow for our clients in the last few years. Trust us though, it is NOT about saving money, but creating a personal experience. The reality is that a private residence wedding will cost you more than having it at a regular venue. You have to bring in every single item and it is a very long list (wedding planners really earn their money on these types of events).

Even though it is hard work, private weddings have been some of our most memorable events. Here are a few of our highlighted weddings … (just realized we need to upload more!

ps I found a photo of Natalie’s wedding dress. I’m not sure I understand the look? The tea length dress is cute, but the sleeves don’t fit properly and it is odd to have a wreath on her head (doesn’t match the look).

featured image photo credit: jordan barclay

What do you think of it?