what to expect from consultations with wedding vendors …

So you’re going to get married! Congratulations! This is a special time in your life, planning your celebration and yes, dealing with some stress that goes along with it. It’s a big monetary investment!

When you begin your quest to plan your awesome day to share with family and friends, you’ll begin the process of interviewing your potential wedding vendors. Here are some tips that may help you along the way, as to what to expect.

tips on what to expect from your wedding vendor consultations

1. vendors will give you lots of free advice, about other vendors.

When you meet with your potential wedding venue, photographer, videographer, DJ etc. you may ask or they may give you advice on other wedding vendors they know that are good. Wedding venues like to refer (in general) vendors that they have worked with before and enjoy having at their venue. This does not necessarily mean that they won’t work with others, it’s based on their experiences. Every vendor has an opinion, which they are entitled to have. However, when a wedding planner gives you advice on a vendor, they will take into account your overall budget and your personality. This makes for a great match and ultimately a wedding dream team. Planners have a wider breadth of vendors to suggest to you for your wedding day. Consider it a more ariel perspective, as we work with all the vendors, in every aspect of the day. We know their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a fabulous caterer that performs better for a small gathering would not be necessarily someone to recommend for a 450 guest wedding at a private residence.

2. don’t pump wedding planners for lots of free referrals.

While we don’t necessarily charge for vendor referrals (some planners do, and that’s fine). It is our business to know wedding vendors that may be a great fit for you (see above). By contracting a wedding planner, they will then start with building the proper wedding team. Asking a planner on floor plans, venues to recommend, where we get our products we order and more, puts us in a problematic situation. We need to prove to you that we know what we are knowledgeable and experienced, but we can’t give away all our secrets before you actually become our paying clients. Or, we won’t stay in business. We hope you understand.

3. do not expect them to lower their prices for you.

Everyone has a story. And while we appreciate that, we also have a story. For instance, making a living that will sustain our businesses and families. Negotiation is fine, it’s part of doing business. But we are not able to give away “free services” or “free products” to every client that we meet. Think of it this way, what if your boss came to you and said, “(Your Name), next week you need to work your usual 40 hours and perform your very best, but I am going to pay you 20% less. Thanks, see you next week”. That wouldn’t fly, right? And if you DO negotiate, remember it needs to be a win-win situation for both parties.

final thoughts: please be sure you’re on the same page before you meet with a vendor. You cannot believe how incredibly awkward it is to smile, while a couple argues in front of you. We’re not judging, we ALL argue with our S.O.’s. But we don’t want to listen to it at our first meeting. Think about the child who says, “I cry when Mommy and Daddy fight”. Yeah. That’s us. Awkward.

and remember: every wedding vendor wants to help you. We want to make money, we want to stay in business, and we want to work like crazy to make sure YOUR day, is a celebration that everyone will remember.

Have any questions? Post them and we would love to answer!

featured photo credit: jesse and gena weddings

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!

brides magazine: do not feed your wedding photographer …

We came across an article by Sandy Malone, she’s a destination wedding planner and has had a show on TV. I’ve spoken with her personally on social media and this post is not to attack her. We have a different viewpoint from what she wrote and it is directly applicable to the area we live in, the Midwest – who typically experience very long, traditional, ceremonial wedding days. Also, we’re nice people over here.

Here is the article at Bride’s Magazine.

update: Bride’s Magazine removed the article. Controversy? february 5, 2016

second update: Thanks to Sean Molin you can’t delete anything from the internet, here’s the archive version. Bride’s Magazine simply deleted the post, thinking the negative social media would go away. I hope they plan on addressing the situation.

our viewpoint on feeding wedding vendors


Almost all bands have a rider in their contract that will require a meal. The meal will be given to them before guests arrive or during cocktail hour. While they should be playing during the meal (IF you have contracted that additional hour), then it is up to the band to either eat before or have a few of the musicians playing. Music should be softer in sound anyway, not a full blown band with singing while guests try to dine and talk.


Many do not have in their contract to be fed. It’s an understanding. If your photographers have been with you from the hair salon (at 10am), pre-wedding photos, ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrances, a welcome speech … then it bodes that they need to eat. HAVE to eat. If you are unwilling to provide a meal for them, then expect that they have the right to leave the wedding to eat and then return. Who wants that? They don’t need anything special, although she is right, in many circumstances it is more difficult for the catering to provide special, less expensive meals. Either way, they need to refuel their bodies. NO PHOTOS SHOULD BE TAKEN DURING THE MEAL. It’s in poor taste and photos that will never be used in any photo album.

wedding planner team

See above for the photographers, same rule is applied.


It’s customary in our area to feed your DJ. They setup before guests arrive and then return to be on-site for 5+ hours.

who could you skip?

Perhaps you have certain vendors that “just showed up” (i.e. photo booth). They setup early and then are able to leave and return when the booth is to be open, may not require a meal. However, it’s better to feed vendors and have them on-site should the timeline need to be shifted due to unforeseeable circumstances.

While you should never need to contract a meal for your transportation driver that has to sit outside for hours to provide guests rides, we will wait until everyone is fed and IF there is left over food, go outside and give the driver a plate. Same goes for security (although most caterers will feed them anyway). This is not included in your catering final count. We do this, because we are all human beings and it’s a nice act of kindness.

final thoughts …

Your wedding planners will work with the caterers to have meals set in a different room while YOU eat. Please note, we don’t care where we eat. Usually it is the first time we have sat down all day and we literally gulf our food down. It’s not pretty. We’ve eaten with plates on our laps in stairwells. We aren’t complaining, our bodies need to fuel up.

Finally, know that we live in a geographical location that being gratuitous to your wedding vendors — that you will continue to see or interact with on social media or in person, is expected. We are not a destination location that you can whiz in, whiz out and never see that vendor again.

So please keep all of this in mind when reading articles that give this type of advice.

featured 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!

securing your weddings rings …

There are lots of ideas where to put your wedding rings before you walk down the aisle. One of our clients actually had a small little safe, (with the actual rings in it) and the older ring bearer (or “ring security”) walked them down the aisle!

Aren’t they precious?


here are your tips:

do …

  1. Leave them in the pretty boxes until you need them and in a secure location.
  2. Get them out until just before the ceremony.
  3. Place is to place it on your finger, thumb, wherever.

do not …

  1. Forget them at the house or hotel room.
  2. Put them in your tux pocket, best man. If you have a hole in your rented text it will dissapear in your liner.
  3. Tie your real wedding rings to your ring bearer’s pillow or your ring dog.

What are you going to do?

feature photo credit: jesse and gena weddings

plan on!