state laws about your wedding bar …

Hello lovelies! It’s been a minute since our last post. Summer and fall are so busy and then winter hits, and it’s time to deal with all your personal goals that you’ve put off working every week and weekends. Blogging gets put in the back burner.

Today we need to talk about a serious and non-sexy topic: your bar at your wedding and bartenders. We’ve touched before on some drinking issues, but this post is specifically to cover the laws and what is important for you to know as a guest, wedding party member or family attending a wedding.

We’ll concentrate on the laws of Indiana, however, the laws are pretty similar state-wide with a few different nuisances.

Here are the laws:

  1. Excise Police encourage requiring identification from anyone appearing under 26 years of age when making sales for on-premise consumption. Acceptable forms of identification are picture ID’s, including but not limited to, a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, US Government identification. REMEMBER: If you still question the age of the person you should refuse to serve them.

Let’s discuss: This means, that whether you are a family member, guest or in the wedding party, if you are over the age of 21, you must carry a legal, picture ID with you and on your person. Being a bridesmaid and not having a little purse with your driver’s license won’t cut it. The bride’s father cannot vouch for you. The caterer with the liquor license will be subject with a minimum of $500 fine and/or higher if caught serving a minor.

2. It is a criminal offense to sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person. In addition, the provider may experience civil liabilities if death or injury, even to a third party, occurs as a result of the act.

Oh-oh. So, let’s be kind to bartenders who have to cut off Uncle Harry, who is drunky-drunkerson.

3. Minors (those under 21 years of age) need to know that, in accordance with Indiana Code 7.1-5-7-7, it is illegal to knowingly:

  • Possess alcohol
  • Consume alcohol
  • Transport alcohol on a public highway when not accompanied by at least one of his/her parents or guardians.

No more discussion needed. Source.

If you don’t believe the excise police make random checks at restaurants, bars, liquor stores, sporting events, AND weddings, then check out Indiana violations that are clearly listed here. There are event venues where we plan weddings and corporate events that are often visited, very discreetly by Indiana excise police.

Take away:

  1. Remind your wedding party to bring their driver’s license to the reception.
  2. Don’t get upset with your caterer or bartender when they cannot serve someone who doesn’t have proper identification. They are not trying to be difficult. They don’t want to pay fines or potentially lose their license (too many infractions).
  3. Consider hiring a sheriff to be on-site. Many venues require it.
  4. Finally, some people just need to be cut off from the alcohol and turned over to a responsible, sober person to take them home.
feature photo credit: equinox photography

plan on!


chinese sky fly fire lanterns at your wedding

Update: Guess what kids? According to this site, Indiana has banned the use of sky lanterns. As of now, Kentucky still allows it.

Everyone loves the Chinese Sky Fly Fire lanterns at the end of their wedding. They are sweet, romantic and make for awesome photos! However, as planners, we are the ones behind-the-scenes making sure that this event (if incorporated in your wedding) goes off without a hitch.

Besides the obvious fact of having a lot of room in the sky for the lanterns to take flight in the air and understanding that you cannot, I repeat, cannot light these if winds that are over 10mph … we thought we’d give you some real tips on the Chinese lanterns.

hot tips on creating an awesome chinese lantern event at your wedding:

1. Buy lanterns that are already assembled. 

These thin paper products range in prices. You may be tempted to purchase the cheapest ones. Stop. Do not do it. You’ll deeply regret it and probably burn yourself. The cheap ones require you to assemble the burning mechanism in the lantern in advance. It’s time consuming and often will not stay in place. If you DO get it lit, sometimes the “on-fire” burning portion will fall out … while the lantern is in air. And that may land on you! So spend the extra money per lantern.

chinese sky fly fire lanterns 1

2. Buy disposable lighters that are “wind resistant”.

This is almost as important as the type of lanterns you purchase. Lighting the lanterns is the biggest headache of all. You’ll want to use lighters that you would use for the grill (I’m sure you already thought of that). But if there is any type of breeze, the lighters are hard to use. Especially with the child safety. Your thumb grows tired and it is frustrating. Opt to spend a little extra and purchase a wind resistant lighter. It is disposable but when lit, looks like a little butane flame. We like the Coleman brand.

chinese sky fly fire lanterns 2

3. Have sober people disperse the lanterns and manage the lighters.

If we are onsite, that is us! But if you haven’t opted to get a wedding professional to help you with your day, then designate someone that will be sober. The management of getting the lanterns distributed and actually lit will make the process safer. Trust this.

4. Trash cans.

Unless you unpack each individual lantern (from the packing cellophane in advance), you’ll need a trash receptical to collect a lot of packing material. Even then, sometimes you need to throw away ripped lanterns. Keep your reception looking neat.

chinese sky fly fire lanterns 3

5. Don’t forget music in the background.

This isn’t critical, but since we are always thinking about a great guest experience, don’t forget about having some background music as you watch the lanterns float away into the air. The last time we did this, we simply moved a boom box (it was a quality one) outside and played a few pre-designated songs. No need for moving out your DJ’s equipment, as this event usually happens at the end of the evening anyway.

Final words, there is an art to doing these, so practice in advance. But always be sure to do so in a safe area. Not in the middle of your subdivision with a lot of trees. Over water (with proper direction of the wind) is the best environment.

photo credit: photorexit photography

ps The photos above were “in real life” photos as we tried to get lanterns lit in too strong of winds. The photographers and us had a great time with it. And due to the winds, we had to cancel this event.

plan on!

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!

free wedding planning advice …

While we are veteran wedding planners (twelve years), we still learn things at each wedding. Seriously. Something new, all the time! Even though we have pretty much experienced (almost) everything.

So today, for you DIY couples that are planning your own wedding without the advice or direction from a professional planner, I’m going to give you some free advice.

free advice on wedding planning:

  1. Never ever, assume. This seems obvious, but this mistake happens all the time. You assume the bartenders will clear the tables after your wedding. You show your florist a photo of a centerpiece that you like and you are excited to see the low estimate for the same centerpiece. You assume the cake person will create a cake that looks just like the Pinterest photo that you gave them.
  2. Ask questions. You should clarify and ask what everyone’s roles are at the wedding reception. Bartenders do not clear, they set the bar and serve. Your floral estimate is within your budget (yay!), but you should know that it may mean there will be a lot less flowers in that centerpiece. Is that what you want? You think your cake will look like your photo and be placed straight on the your vintage cake stand, but instead it arrives like this:


So why does this happen? I believe it is because we are all so busy and have so much information to process on a daily basis, that both sides think they are understanding what the other is saying, but they don’t. No one is being malicious. So my advice, which I will also follow, will be to ask certain questions, clarify the plans, and not take for granted that another person understands what you are wanting.

photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!

how to cancel your wedding …

This week’s breaking news in the wedding world, is Bristol Palin (daughter of Sarah Palin) has cancelled her wedding for May 23, 2015. She did so, only four days away.

First, let me say, canceling her wedding is very courageous of her. At this point, everything is already paid for, so refunds aren’t an option. The family announced that they are going to have a party to “celebrate life”. I agree!!! Don’t let those stuff mushrooms go to waste!

Now you may think, SURE the Palin’s can cancel their wedding, they have got a lot of money. Listen, we’ve been through this with our clients. “Rich” is all relative and trust that no one wants to lose money or face the “embarrassment” of canceling a wedding. In other words, no matter what your economic status, it’s a challenging time for everyone involved.

what to expect if you cancel your wedding:

  • You are forfeiting your initial deposit, retainers, or payments made to any vendors. In some instances (and you’ll want to review your agreements that you signed), you may have to pay the vendor in full, whether or not you have the wedding. Venues, wedding planners, catering, decor – depending on when you cancel and their contract, you may be liable for the full amount.

Note: please don’t be mad at them for this. This is your situation and decision.  You initially selected and hired these vendors because you loved their work. If you cancel your wedding, they most likely have already turned away other couples. You would not want them to fire you because a higher paying client came along after they committed them.

  • Understand that businesses (small or large) have blocked out the date of your wedding so it is a loss of revenue for them. It’s unfortunate and difficult, but it’s the bottom line. Many will try to work with you. Photographers granting a credit for future photo shoot. Florists that may apply your deposit for another party. It depends on the vendor and when you have cancelled.
  • Be prepared for a lot of questions from friends, family and maybe feeling embarrassed. But don’t let that get you down. Hold your head high and push through. Better to lose some money now, than get married and divorced months/years from now. Trust me, it is way more expensive and heart breaking.

tips on how to cancel your wedding:

  • Try to do it as early as possible, gives you more time to negotiate with vendors.
  • Contact your planner first! He/She have relationships with these vendors and can give some valuable insight on your next steps and how to negotiate.
  • If a vendor cannot refund your money, then get creative. For instance, a venue that has been paid in full. Go to Facebook and your other vendors to see if there is another couple that would like to assume your date for maybe a discounted price? If the venue will allow it.
  • Sell your wedding dress. There are lots of online sites that can easily facilitate this.
  • Sell any DIY stuff you have purchased or gift to another bride. You won’t want this stuff lying around reminding you.
  • If you have sent out invitations to the guests and then cancelled your wedding, you will need to send a formal written announcement that the wedding has been cancelled. Don’t get into the details. Something like:

Friends and Family,
We regret to inform you that our wedding on May 23, 2015 has been cancelled. This is the best decision for us, at this time and hope that you will continue to think of us in your thoughts and respect our privacy during this difficult time.

  • If you have cancelled your wedding, but have only sent out the Save the Dates, it is my humble opinion that it is not necessary to send out written announcements. Some will argue with me on this. But my viewpoint is this: you have simply given a date and city and asked guests to pin this on your calendar. If you send out a formal announcement you will be bombarded with phone calls, text messages and lots of well-intended (but nosy), questions. Instead, have your wedding party and family discreetly get the word out to your guests.

If you have to make this decision, we wish you strength and peace!

featured photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!