When Shit Hits the Fan...

The Reality of What the Behind the Scenes of the Big Day Can Look Like

Wedding Expectations

Brides all have the expectation, whether verbalized or not, of a “perfect” wedding day.  Personally, the advertisements promoting “perfect” really annoy me.  Something will always happen, sometimes big things, sometimes small, but inevitably something always goes wrong.  Shit happens, even on wedding days

Floral Reality

A few weekends ago, for example; I was using 100 peonies in a few different colors.  These were the brides “must have” flower in her bouquet and everywhere.  It’s peony season, so what could go wrong you ask?  Well, each bunch as we open to prep blew up...the heads either just fell and fall or the flower basically exploded the bloom petals everywhere.  We called and got replacements and when they arrive we open and tuck them in the cooler.  My assistant is sputtering as he is working that he is loosing more than he can use in the centerpieces.  I go to make the bouquets and there are no peonies....only 18 Usable out of the last 50!  I was about die!  So I call every floral wholesaler I know and began the process of searching for 60 burgundy peonies.  One place had 10 stems....I’ll take them!  Then another wholesaler calls a New Jersey grower....they go up and pick 70 stems and overnight them to me P1 before 10 am delivery!  They arrived and were Fabulous! Finished the wedding and all was stunning! Then my blood pressure finally dropped and all was good.

 
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Bride's Bouquet.jpg
 

Advantage of a Planner

One of the things you get when you hire an experienced planner is all the vendor relationships they have.  The value of this one thing can not be overstated.  You just never know when your planner needs to call on the relationships for a “favor” that will save the day and your wedding even if they are not the vendor originally hired for your wedding.

Vendor Relationships - Cake Disaster

Rebuilt Wedding Cake.JPG

One example of fabulous vendor relationships with bakers happened many years ago in Columbia SC.  Ronny and I were setting up the reception, the ceremony at another site was going and last minute reception details were being addressed.  The band was doing a sound check, the bar service was doing the final setup, caterer was preparing to being hors d’hourves and the baker setup the five tier cake that was a special flavor with specific filling that’s the bride requested.  As the band was tuning, all of a sudden the cake started to lean....and then it just collapsed and hit the floor.  We saved some of it from the base tiers and brought that into the kitchen. 

Disaster Averted

Then the phone calls to all the bakers we had relationships with began.  The cake hit the floor, I need five tiers...what do you have?????  We got two base tiers from one, two from another and the top tier from the third baker.  This baker had a large amount of butter cream and agreed to come to the venue, stack the frozen tiers from the other bakes, frosted them all, did the original design decorative piping, I did the floral topper and the cake was finished as the brides parents walked into the venue to check everything out.

I went up to the father of the bride who had been instrumental in the entire wedding planning process and said ....” the cake looks like the one you ordered, but it is not.  The original cake folded and hit the floor”. There is a bit of it in the back that we can serve to the bride and groom and special family members, but when the cut the cake, it I’ll not only be partially frozen, but also not the cake they ordered and I don’t want them to freak”. The Dad took it in stride, let his daughter the bride know at the appropriate time, they cut the cake and guests never knew the difference.  The funny part of the story is, during the night, family members would come to us and ask to have some of the special cake that hit the floor and they did not care that it was a cake mess, they just enjoyed it!  The stories that began that night from the band and family were hysterical!!!  Every time we worked with that band, that bar service and caterer, they ALWAYS brought up “The Cake the hit the floor” story. This was one that could not have been saved without the fabulous vendors who all pitched in to create a replacement cake in no time!

menu with original cake flavor description.JPG

I went up to the father of the bride who had been instrumental in the entire wedding planning process and said ....” the cake looks like the one you ordered, but it is not.  The original cake folded and hit the floor”. There is a bit of it in the back that we can serve to the bride and groom and special family members, but when the cut the cake, it I’ll not only be partially frozen, but also not the cake they ordered and I don’t want them to freak”. The Dad took it in stride, let his daughter the bride know at the appropriate time, they cut the cake and guests never knew the difference. 

Finding Humor in the Oopsies

The funny part of the story is, during the night, family members would come to us and ask to have some of the special cake that hit the floor and they did not care that it was a cake mess, they just enjoyed it!  The stories that began that night from the band and family were hysterical!!!  Every time we worked with that band, that bar service and caterer, they ALWAYS brought up “The Cake the hit the floor” story. This was one that could not have been saved without the fabulous vendors who all pitched in to create a replacement cake in no time!

Use a Professional

A lot of wedding ceremonies use birch arbors and they can be stunning.  For all you DIY folks out there, when you put up an arbor, and you have ordered flowers for it...be sure the arbor has been stabilized properly to compensate for the weight of the flowers.  Recently, this was not done properly, and just as we were preparing to hang the flowers, a gust of wind came up and blew the arbor so it was headed right onto the front.  Luckily, we caught it, ran support wire to stakes to secure the arbor, hung the flowers and all was ready for the wedding with no one being the wiser.  It's often the little things that catch you and can become one of those moments you really don't want to know about on your wedding day!!

So as you can see, with the proper planning and support, your wedding can be your perfect day!

What Does a Wedding Designer Do?

Wedding Design Is...

The process of telling of your story.

 Beautiful Ceremony Location on the Family Farm

Beautiful Ceremony Location on the Family Farm

Wedding design is the in depth fun analysis of you as a couple. Some of what we look at include: How did you meet?  What is your favorite thing about each other? Where do you like to go together to get away from it all? If you had a choice, where would you live and why?  What are your favorite foods, music, colors? Our goal - to give your wedding a cohesive, stylish look with an atmosphere that transforms the space!

We create with you the overall feel that is reflective of the two of you.  Are you big recyclers and eco-conscious? Perhaps hand-made papers, menu's on "seeded paper' your guests can plant when they get home, saplings as favors.  It takes time chatting, hanging, and picking your brains to get to know what makes you tic as a couple and what is unique about you, your relationship, and those things in life that are important to you. Once the getting to know you is done, then the work for the designer really begins...

How does a designer work?

Influences on the Wedding Design

Each step in the design process provides a building block, to achieve the mood and ambience you desire. Major items that influence the design are:

The Setting - the physical location and/or facilities where the events will take place

 Blue Moon Theme

Blue Moon Theme

The Situation - the circumstances that frame your decisions, budget, number of guests, formal- ity, time of day

The Season of Year - influences your choices of color, texture and menu

Site Inspection - determine the flow of events and guest movements and comfort

Ideas and Inspirations

Based upon the location - begin a collection of photos, ideas and concepts you like for your event. Begin to free associate where you write what you like, adjectives that come to mind, what associations do they evoke...keep a running list, write down all the thoughts of your desired mood and ambiance.

The more restrained your color palette, the more liberated your design. I usually pick three or four colors and do not stray except to variations in tone and shade. The season and setting are the strongest guides in choosing color, and the colors chosen should harmonize with both. Let your imagination flow, then let us create your ideal mood and atmosphere with the perfect combination of color, light and texture.

Example of free association: Trees, green, leaves, vines, orchids, garden flowers, pathways, bark, stone, moss, botanicals, conservatories, berries, lights, lightweight, linen, floaty, deconstructed, organic, natural...Trees and Ferns, Acorns and Daises, Hydrangeas and Blueberries, Snow and Roses, Pink and Chocolate....whatever you fancy!

The Process

  • First - The overall feel, "theme" - your wedding wish list is identified
  • Second - Key areas that are most important to you are identified in accordance with your budget guidelines
  • Third - Vendor Recommendation and selection of those who "FIT" with your vision
 Beautiful Crudite' Display to match wedding Rich plum tones

Beautiful Crudite' Display to match wedding Rich plum tones

 Cigar Bar - Why Not?

Cigar Bar - Why Not?

The Details

It is the simple, yet elegant details that create the unique feel, mood and atmosphere for your event. From the very first piece of stationary your guests receive through the last moment they are a part of your wedding events, you want everything to flow, be coordinated, and be reflective of you as a couple.  Your guests should feel welcomed and that their comfort was paramount in addition to being shown a fabulous time.  The goal is for everyone to feel that the event was all "you" and that all had a comfortable, and memorable experience.  

How is a designer different from a planner?

 Newly Married

Newly Married

As you've seen, a designer gets into the "feel", look and style of your wedding and guides your selections based upon that knowledge.  A planner is primarily about the "logistics" of your wedding -- Vendor referrals, contract negotiations to day of coordination.  Typically, planners are your main point of contact for all vendors; they are invaluable when you have little time to devote to the logistical details of planning your wedding.

What Planners Do For You

A wedding planner is the professional person or team that helps the bride and groom prepare, organize, design and financially manage the wedding. Their services start from a year prior to the wedding and end a few days before.  Planners take the guesswork out of planning a wedding as much as possible.  They help you manage your budget, handle the logistics, and the best planners, with their years of experience will not be affected by the "unexpected". The good planners will negotiate on your behalf, schedule and attend vendor meetings. They typically attend site tours, menu tastings, assist with coordination of travel, hotel accommodations and room blocks. 

They will give the bride and groom the choices and all they have to do is tell them what they want at their wedding, how they want it and which choices they prefer. Wedding planners are also a big help if planning a destination wedding, meaning the bride and groom are planning to marry in another country; all the forms and legal works are usually done by the wedding planners.

The advantage of an Experienced Planner is you have decreased stress leading up to and throughout the wedding festivities, you have greater budget management and ...you don't have to worry about your organization skills and if you have thought of everything, your planner will cover you on all that!  The other major advantage of the Planner is that if your wedding is in an unusual spot, the planner covers you on back up plans, permitting, all the necessary legalities of having a wedding in a non-standard location.

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Before you decide on hiring a wedding planner or wedding coordinator, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your overall budget? Are you willing to spend at least 10-15% of that budget on a wedding planner? If not, a wedding coordinator could be more cost effective for your needs.

  • How much time do you have to dedicate to planning a wedding? If it’s less than 3-5 hours a week, a wedding planner might be what you want.

  • Is your family or circle of friends giving you input with or conflicting opinions on your wedding? If so, a wedding planner could help deflect all those opinions and advice.

  • Do you feel like you have the vision but don’t know the etiquette or customs of a wedding (planning a seating chart, length of ceremony, order of program?). A wedding coordinator could be a good option for you.

How Does the Coordinator Differ from the Planner?

A wedding planner is the professional person or team that helps the bride and groom prepare, organize, design and financially manage the wedding. On the other hand, a wedding coordinator is responsible for taking care of the details on the day of the wedding.

What Does the Coordinator Do?

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A wedding coordinator is the person behind the scenes, on your wedding day making sure that it goes as smoothly as possible so you don’t have to worry or stress on your wedding day. You typically meet with a wedding coordinator about a month, or so, before your wedding to go over all of the plans you’ve made.  Based on the information you given your coordinator and conversations they’ve had with your vendors, your coordinator will create the wedding day timeline, own the flow of your wedding day, and attend to every last detail on the day.

Your wedding coordinator stays by your side throughout the day and night. They are there to tell you when things will be occurring throughout the night, such as the cake cutting, bouquet toss, toasts, etc. When I was planning, I stayed until the very end of the wedding, until all of the guests were gone. A venue coordinator stays until the meal is served, and the majority of the time, leaves after. Some may stay until the cake is cut and served. He or she will not be by your side throughout the day or night. Although the venue coordinator will do their best to keep you happy, he or she likely will not be involved if your bustle breaks, when it comes time to load up your gifts, or tracking down your lipgloss.

Be cautious of hiring a wedding coordinator that expects to just show-up on the day of your wedding and make it run smoothly. A real pro will start familiarizing themselves with the details of your wedding day at least a month before your wedding day, if not sooner.

What is the Role of the Venue Coordinator?

A venue coordinator represents the venue and ensures everything taking place at the venue (food and beverage prep and service, room set-ups, parking logistics) is in order but does not have the responsibility of handling all matters for the bride and groom.

 If your ceremony is at a location other than the venue, your wedding coordinator will be there with you. A venue coordinator will not be at that offsite ceremony. If the ceremony is at the venue, the venue coordinator may be there to help with the coordination of the ceremony.

The Bottom Line

Whether you will be relying on an on-site coordinator or an event designer or the point-person from your catering team there should be someone who can oversee the details on your wedding day (oh, and this person is not YOU!).  If you hire a professional wedding team that you trust to be in control of all their respective areas (i.e. your florist knows exactly how you want your tables to look, your caterer is checking in all of your rental items, your DJ knows where to set up and access power, your cake maker is familiar with your venue, etc.) then the biggest task you may have to handle could be wrangling groomsmen and bridesmaids.

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