revisit some special blog posts …

Hello lovelies! It’s been a POPPING year! Weddings, Corporate Events, Expos, social parties … we’ve been busy, busy bees.

So on this Friday, before another big weekend, I thought we’d take a moment to revisit some awesome posts from the past.

Lie to your Wedding Vendor?

An Open Letter to Wedding Church Coordinators

Prince William and Kate’s Wedding Planner

How to Save Money Planning your Wedding

And most recently, I was featured as a guest blogger on Phone Surgeons website. They are an awesome startup company that has expanded throughout the U.S. Most importantly, they fix my iPhone. A geek at heart, hope you’ll enjoy the read about my favorite phone and computer apps that truly save my life. It has nothing to do about weddings, just #realtalk.

Apps that Keep Me SANE!

plan on! xo xo

how to save money when planning your wedding …

… and other erroneous advice brought to you by ABC News Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee (ABC meteorologist).

Let me preface this blog post before I begin that I absolutely adore ABC Good Morning America and all their anchors and professionals. NBC Today show can suck it as long as they have Matt (Narcissistic) Lauer as their anchor. Also I am proud to be on TV with a local ABC affiliate. So it saddened me deeply to see this segment they did about “saving money when planning your wedding”. Because the “expert” Francesco Bilotto and the information he passed on was a huge pile of  … well, you’ll see.

Here’s the online link to the segment, I highly recommend you click over and watch the video before reading my rebuttal. And in case you can’t watch the video right now, please read on.

I’ve printed out their 7 ways to save a buck at your wedding … my rebuttal is underneath each point.

1. Keep it simple. Don’t reinvent the color wheel with add-ons such as special plates and linens; try to work with the natural beauty of the venue.

Keeping it simple is certainly your choice. I do agree, don’t fight the venue. i.e. Don’t pick a rustic space if you want an elegant type of wedding. Highlight the natural beauty of the venue and don’t fight it. Agreed. However if you are not a flower person, then bringing in colored or textured linens is the least expensive way to make a powerful statement in your wedding decor. Ask an interior designer (not Francesco, apparently), what is the least expensive option to making a bold statement in a room? The answer: paint it.

2. Use a florist that is not on your venue’s preferred list. You could save at least $2,500 that way.

 You should know as a consumer that often venue’s “preferred vendor’s list” is a paid list. Which is not a big deal, but the venue should be transparent about it. They are not necessarily the best vendors around, just vendors that plunked down advertising money. Back to Francesco’s pearls of wisdom: While a vendor may have to pay a venue to be selected as a client’s choice, the average fee would be 15%, typically, not more than that. Perhaps in NYC it is more. Going with what bride Ginger was first quoted for her wedding flowers, $10,000, then that would only be a savings of $1,500 (at 15%).

3. Rethink vases. Adding vases to floral centerpieces could get add at least $100 to the cost of each table.

{Scratching my head} So, walk me through this  …. we are supposed to put green, wet, oasis full of flowers directly on the white poly table-cloth provided by the venue? What the hell is that suppose to look like? When it starts to fall apart and melt everywhere? And where are they getting small vases (shown in the video) that are worth $100 TO RENT? (I know NYC is more expensive than the Midwest, but not THAT crazy. I just got back from Manhattan two days ago and their gas price was only $.15 more a gallon than what we pay locally). Most small, round vases to rent would be anywhere from $4 – $10 a vase.

4. Rethink the flowers you choose, and how you use them. Francesco Bilotto, who is planning Zee’s wedding, is using carnations for her big day. He called it “the forgotten, abused flower.” He also said that not every table needs to have flowers. “Every other one, maybe do an arrangement and sporadic ones in between and some candles,” Bilotto said.

Okay, this I’m on board with. I love carnations, they are a less expensive flower. However you need to use A LOT of them to make an impact. Or you’ll end up with prom centerpieces back in the day (one carnation, one fern and one sprig of baby’s breath). *barf*

And IT IS okay to have tables with no flowers … lots of candles and water in vases. Oh gosh, yes, we’ll have to use vases for this as most venues do not allow open flame. Sorry Point #3, we’re now backtracking …

5. Rethink your wedding photographer. “The best thing to do is contact your local school – find somebody that wants to build a career with their skills,” Bilotto said. “Nine out of 10 you’ll save $8,000 just paying for the cost of their camera, their developing and their time. You’ve made a college kid happy and you’ve got some great photos.”

I am resisting the urge to start cussing like a sailor. In a few instances for our events, we have used second shooters or college students (think a photo booth or montage). Those are set-up shots with easy retakes.

I strongly urge you to use your money that you saved from not having vases on your tables (snicker) to put towards the best professional wedding photographer that you can afford. Please. It will be worth it.

SIDE NOTE: Bride’s do not care if they are making some “college kid happy” on their special, special day. Any experienced planner would know that.

6. Rethink having a formal, sit-down dinner. “I actually prefer you do not do that formal sit-down dinner. No one wants to sit next to your Aunt Sally with horrible cologne all night long,” Bilotto said. “Think about doing a few buffet stations or grazing stations, as the caterers’ call it, and a few hors d’oeuvres. Be careful with that because staff adds in the price again. At the end of the day, it’s about the people you are with.”

Listen lovelies, an hors d’oeuvres dinner will cost you more than a buffet dinner. A sit-down dinner will cost you more than a buffet, because the caterer has to have additional staff to serve. At the end of the day, it IS about the people you are with. But if your guests are leaving to go home to eat because they are hangry, then it will end up being just about you. Side note: go ahead and google “grazing stations” for weddings. Will. Not. Save. You. Money.

(Holy Smokes, we are almost done …)

7. Rethink the cake. (Yes, the cake!) Nowadays, many couples are opting for a smaller cake for cutting at the ceremony and feeding the guests a sheet cake. Or they’re having a “fake cake” made – an elaborately designed cake with several fake layers and just one layer for the couple to eat. And, yes, guests are fed from a sheet cake. Guests don’t need to know!

Late Breaking News: Use a fake cake for your wedding to save you money. {insert the eye roll} Here’s the skinny on this subject. One of the most expensive and luxurious resorts locally, West Baden Hotel, use fake cakes for their weddings. Always. One tier has real cake and that is what the couple cuts into in front of everyone. However, this is not to save you money. Oh, no. They still have to decorate an “elaborately designed cake” which takes time and artistry. And that charge is passed along to you.

The real reason they use a fake, ahem, excuse me … faux cake is so their guest service is not compromised. Couple cuts the cake on the dance floor, it is wheeled away … minutes later, the wait staff is serving cake table side to guests. This is of course from sheet cakes that were cut and plated earlier. Guests think the wait staff service is awesome, there are no delays and the meal service is completed quickly for dancing and other festivities.

THAT is why, Francesco, the fake wedding cake is a good idea. Wrap that up and stuff it in your pocket square.

I’m exhausted. My own final thoughts to this debacle of a segment:

  1. I bet Ginger is getting free wedding planning services from Francesco for media promotion. Can’t wait to see photos of her wedding from her university student photographer and loose carnation centerpieces.
  2. ABC should look into hiring university students to forecast the weather. I’m sure they could get them for $1,000 a month, a savings of ….
  3. Why show photos OF LAVISH and beautiful weddings while talking about cutting back on flowers and having no vases? (yeah, okay, I’m stuck on the vase thing, because it’s weird). It doesn’t make sense. Show photos of pretty budget weddings.
  4. Finally, we advocate and help our clients save money on their wedding day. This rant blog post was NOT about spending more money on your wedding, instead, knowing realistically and more importantly, accurately where you can save a dime.

ps I know you have opinions on this, so let’s do it. Come on’ …. post a comment.

plan on!


wedding guests going broke attending destination wedding?

Today on the Good Morning America show they talked about the costs associated with destination weddings for your guests.

On average, $490 per person ($980-$1,000) is spent by guests attending a wedding out-of-state, potentially more at higher-end resort destination locations. Many guests are admitting to going into debt trying to attend these weddings. They simply can’t afford to attend your destination wedding.

Personally, I have had people complain to me about their family or friends planning weddings that require them to spend a lot of money to attend.


The couple’s reasoning: “It will be a like a vacation for you”.

The guest’s reasoning: “I’ll go on a vacation when and where I want, your wedding isn’t a good time for me to spend all this money”.


#realtalk alert

They won’t complain to you. They will complain behind your back.

tips for couples planning a destination wedding

1. Don’t be upset when guests or family cannot attend. It’s not their fault you are planning a wedding far away and they may not have the funds at this moment. If they are that important to you for them to be there, then offer to pay for them.

2. Talk to your family. If everyone is on board with attending your destination wedding, then talk to them about the timing and location. Perhaps plan well in advance so that they know the general costs and can save for it appropriately.

3. Just the two of you. Consider going to a gorgeous resort, just the two of you. Have a beautiful, intimate wedding and a fabulous honeymoon. Then come home with great photos and a video and throw a reception for all your friends and family. You get the best of both worlds.

what do you say?

Are you planning a destination wedding and having pushback from your family and friends?

Do you feel it’s fair to expect everyone to attend your destination wedding?

plan on!


when life hands you lemons …

… squeeze ’em, add some vodka and voila! Wait. that’s not right.

You’ve heard the saying …


When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.


Check out these two wedding, real-life stories of people in adversity rose above and helped out others or family members.

lemonade case study number one:

When the Fowler family’s daughter’s wedding was called off 40 days before the big day, they were faced with an decision. Lose all the money, deposits they have made towards the catering and venue, or make some lemonade.

They contacted a local charity, Hosea Feed the Hungry and had a catered party for anyone who could attend. The focus was off the daughter and she was able to do something constructive in her sadness. Now they are trying to plan a second and even larger event next year. Kinda cool, huh?


lemonade case study number two:

A mother with three daughters, who are all engaged, and is dying of lung cancer. The three daughters collaborate together to move up their dates and have a triple wedding so their mother can see them. Very generous to share your day and spotlight with your sisters for your mom. Update: Mom died 12 hours after the wedding. Sad, but I bet she was so happy.

featured photo credit: jordan barclay

Do you have any cool stories to share?

plan on! 


a look back in the past 10 years in wedding planning …

Happy end of 2013 everyone! This year marked our “celebrating ten years of producing fabulous events” for our little event planning business.

It’s been a wild ride … forging relationships with clients (we still keep in touch with so many of you), vendors and the nitty-gritty of producing weddings. So as I look back, I thought it would be interesting to post some of the “almost catastrophes” that we have dealt with and fixed over the past ten years. I know I am leaving out some good stories, I should have been keeping a list along the way. There are no names mentioned to protect the innocent, and the guilty.

Our crazy list of REAL wedding “almost catastrophe” stories & other juicy stuff:

  • Flower girl choked on a piece of candy during the ceremony. Paramedics were called and she was okay. Bride wasn’t told until the reception.
  • Ten minutes before the bride walked down the aisle, the wedding cake fell apart and on to the floor. Cleaned it up and didn’t tell the bride until just before she walked into the reception.
  • Flowers didn’t come in the day before the wedding and the florist drove all over the place that evening and morning to find replacement flowers.
  • Groomsman passed out during the ceremony. You really do fall like a tree when your knees lock up.
  • Ring Bearer passed out during the ceremony. See above.
  • Minutes before the processional started, the bride’s veil that had hand sewn pearls on the edges, unraveled. Ping – ping – ping as they fell on the floor. We sewed it to stop the unraveling and went on with the ceremony.
  • Grandmother had a heart attack the morning of the wedding. Re-arranged the timeline with all the vendors so the bride could visit her in the hospital for a brief moment.
  • Torrential rain came down one hour before the outside ceremony was to start. Mother of Bride finally agreed to Plan B. We moved to location B (off-site), designers flipped decor and started 30 minutes behind schedule. Moving 400 people took a few minutes.
  • One of our brides had a panic attack before walking down the aisle, we and family calmed her down.
  • Groomsman disappeared at the end of the evening. Stole a golf cart and drove it two miles before abandoning it. (Okay we didn’t have anything to fix with this, but it’s still a funny story).
  • A stomach virus swept through the wedding party starting the evening before and then moving to the Mother of the Bride the day of the wedding. Some well-meaning, yet ill-advised, family member gave her Benadryl and she slept through her only daughter’s wedding reception.
  • Truck carrying the cake broke down in 100 degree weather. Cake ended up on time, just a little more icing than normal. No one ever knew.
  • Stage collapsed during setup for the band. Drummer/emcee hurt his arm, almost didn’t get to play but he pushed through.
  • High winds and rain came down hard during the church ceremony and almost toppled the 5 tier, coconut wedding cake. Two caterers and one of our team members held the table as coconut flakes blew … it looked like it was snowing.
  • While the wedding party was being formally announced into the reception, a bridesmaid slipped, fell and twisted her knee so bad it was dislocated. Like pointing the wrong direction and she laid there screaming in pain! Luckily a guest was a doctor and popped it back in. She was sitting with ice on her knee for the rest of the evening. The next day she found out it was broken in several places.
  • Gorgeous outdoor, classy private residence wedding reception — first wave of storms brought quarter-inch hail, sky to ground lightning and a heavy downpour just after the salads were served. Band cords were submerged in water, however the sound tech stayed to play music from iPod. Food was salvaged and served buffet. Double rainbow appeared (and during the couple’s honeymoon in South Africa, they saw another double rainbow). Still a GREAT wedding reception.
  • The Rabbi’s flight was delayed on the day of the wedding in St. Louis. The couple only wanted HER to marry them, not a local one (because you know we already contacted one in case). We called in a car service to pick her up and drive her to the door. Since we were having cocktail hour before the wedding, she rolled in just in time and all was good!
  • A car hit the back of the limo carrying the wedding party from the church to the private reception. Then it started a chain reaction on a two lane, country highway. Ended up with two totaled cars, 2 ambulances, one fire truck, two sheriffs and thank God everyone was okay.
  • Divided bridesmaids and family members ended up in a brawl. Nothing really bad, thank goodness …
  • Too many times to count dealing with heavy rain and tornado watches and warnings. It’s a wonder we are still alive.
  • Numerous guests caught in the coat room, bathroom and bushes … being, um, intimate.
  • Bride twisted her ankle wearing high heel shoes at the rehearsal dinner. Same Mother of Bride slipped and fell at the hotel, tore ligaments in her knee and attended the wedding in a wheel chair and highly medicated.
  • Night before the wedding, the DJ commercial building burnt down. We had another DJ lined up to loan equipment in one hour, however, luckily all the equipment was in the trailer and everyone was okay. DJ performed as usual, bride found out at the end of the wedding reception.
  • Bridesmaid dress zipper came completely apart. We worked on it and were prepared to sew it, luckily the teeth of the zipper connected again and it zipped right up! Bride didn’t find out until the next day.
  • We’ve redirected anger and frustration from numerous family members throughout the past ten years, sometimes taking direct hits from their pinned up emotions. Weddings and funerals just bring out some raw emotions.
  • Caterers did not have the correct number of staff and serious unforeseen problems in the kitchen to get the food out. We pitched in as we could and moved the timeline around so the guests and our mutual clients would not notice. (We all know stuff happens, it’s how you deal with it and keep moving on as a team is what counts).
  • We’ve sobered up more than twenty groomsmen, at least.
  • Countless times that items, flowers, rentals did not come in on time and we made last-minute design changes to keep our brides happy. Most of them never noticed, nor cared at that point.
  • Sewing kit, goo gone, zip ties, safety pins, binder clips and more has saved thousands of mishaps throughout the years.
  • Bride could not find her special purple wedding shoes. Planner drove back to the hotel to find an empty hotel room, then dumpster dived to see if housekeeping had thrown them away. Only to find out they were misplaced in someone’s trunk.
  • Saved personal written vows from being thrown away in the nick of time, by housekeeping.
  • After having TWO face-to-face meetings with restaurant for rehearsal dinner, formal written proposals, numerous phone calls solidifying all the details … I call on the day before the wedding, Friday at 3pm just to see how everything was progressing for setup and the owner tells me, “Yes, we’ll see you tomorrow.” Um, no, you’ll see me and 50 other people in 3 hours. He had the day of the week wrong. I said fix it, he did and I haven’t patronized that restaurant since. 
  • Due to a light last minute rain, we delayed the start of the outdoor ceremony. DJ reset his equipment and it failed due to technical difficulties. WE had the entire playlist on our phone for the ceremony music, so we plugged in and the wedding music happened off our iPhone.
  • The groom and groom’s parents were in charge of the rehearsal dinner. After numerous times checking up with the family and me calling/visiting the restaurant to verify it was scheduled, my spidey sense told me to call the restaurant ONE more time three days before the wedding. I was informed the groom’s parents never sent in a payment and there was no rehearsal scheduled. (insert sigh) We fixed it with the groom, it involved a little bit of yelling on my part to numerous parties and the bride was never told.
  • We ALWAYS have problems with hotel reservations for guests, we just know it in advance.
  • We are told LOTS of secrets by our clients and family members. Including,
    • “I’m pregnant, don’t tell my mother.”
    • “I’m not sure if I want to get married”
    • At the reception, “We should of eloped, this is overwhelming”
    • “My future father and mother-in-law are ruining my life”
  • Secret: We can tell which marriages are not going to last.
  • Secret: We had two weddings two days after my father died. None of the clients knew it happened.
  • A bridesmaid got so drunk she passed out (dead weight). Only to wake up throwing up all over the guest table, down the hall, in the elevator, on her husband. (luckily it was at the very end of the evening)
  • A groomsman got so drunk that he urinated in the ice behind the bar. IN THE ICE.

That was a fun list to remember, especially that last one.

It’s just a reminder that we have been our client’s advocate … through the good times and the bad, shielding them from problems so that they can enjoy their special day. That’s what we do. Tireless hours on your feet and under high stress, but in the end it’s all worth it.

featured image credit: pfe iPhone

Happy 2014 everyone!