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2 Months Away!

Yesterday it was officially 2 months until our wedding. I didn’t get around to writing a 3 month blog post, so I decided to make this one extra special. So much has happened in the last month with the planning. These last few months are really when things start to happen and the level of excitement gets very high!

We officially got all of our wedding invitations out at the end of last week. We were ahead of schedule which was fun and I love the conversation I had with my Dad about taking them to the post office or waiting. He didn’t understand why we would let them sit in a box by the front door and not just take them. I kept saying, “You can’t put them in the mail to early!” He thought I was crazy… it was a good laugh. I believe that invitations are a very important part of a wedding. They set the “theme” for the wedding and allow the guests to have an insight into what to expect. This was a part of the wedding that my Mom and I spent days and days working on, picking the right font, colors, design, etc… When you have two very create people working on something that means to much the process can be very long and drawn out. My advice to all brides is to make sure you don’t look at too many options of invitations and be sure that you set a number of hours that you are going to spend on the process 🙂 Once the invitations were ordered and received the process turned into a family affair. If it wasn’t for my fiance, Mom, and Dad we would have never gotten them done. I am very fortunate to have a Mom who is an amazing calligraphist. Her handwriting makes anything look AMAZING and she spent many hours making my envelopes perfect. Thank you Mom – I love you.

After your invitations have been sent the next step is to wait and stay organized. Once the RSVP’s start coming in the most important step is to mark the names off your master list and make sure you are keeping track of the numbers. The RSVP’s are going to back to my parents so I wake up every morning and call them asking which ones have come in – perhaps you could call me a little crazy! Speaking of crazy, I never knew how easy it could be to become Bridezilla…haha. I’m a fairly calm person, but when it comes to your wedding, as many brides might know, the blood gets flowing. I had a feeling I could handle anything after hiring a fraud wedding planner, but when I found out that two of my eight bridesmaid dresses weren’t going to come in until the second week of June my heart starting racing. I kept telling myself not to be Bridezilla, calm down, and just relax. After about five minutes of freaking out I was fine and decided there was nothing I could do. You learn as a bride that everything will workout and sometimes you just have to sit back relax and let things happen.

The projects haven’t stopped and they will not stop until a few days before the wedding! I keep adding things to the mix that are going to make the wedding better and better. You only get one chance to throw your fairytale wedding and that’s what I am doing… The time spent on our wedding projects have been very memorable and a large part of the incredible process of planning a wedding. When I look back I can’t believe how time has flown by and I can only imagine how fast these last two months will go – sometimes I want to yell out “slow down time!” 🙂

The 4th month mark has come! I know February is a short month, but it feels like yesterday that we were at the 5th month – wow. I’m sure that other brides would agree with me that the sooner the big day gets, the quicker the days start flying by. This seems to be the cycle of event planning in general. I remember this feeling when I worked in event planning the closer the event got the quicker the time would go by, it’s like someone clicked the fast forward button on the TV. You start to get the feeling of “GO, GO, GO,” there’s no longer time for procrastination, it’s now or never 🙂

The reality that the big day is getting closer hit my fiancé and I the other day when his brother and family who live on the East Coast booked their travel arrangements for the wedding. We both looked each other and wanted to scream out the words, “We Can’t Wait!” There is nothing more exciting than the feeling of all of your family being in one place at one time. When you get that special call from a close friend saying that they have booked their travel arrangements, the feeling inside is hard to explain. The only words that come to mind are “love” and “excitement.”

The 4th month is definitely a time of confirming this and that. If you are a planner like myself and booked your vendors 6 or 7 months out, it’s time to confirm and talk details. It’s fun when you can pick up the phone and talk music with your DJ and it feels real. The time has come to pick your first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, and decide on the type of music. Music is something very important to my fiancé so I have given him the reigns on this one… He’s very excited to have the perfect music and I admit he knows a lot more about music than I do, so go for it! As a bride it’s important sometimes to sit-back, relax, and let your fiancé take the lead on something, it makes him feel important and involved with the big day.

The closer the wedding gets the more excited I am with DIY (do it yourself) stuff. I am definitely realizing that is can save you a lot of money and more importantly involve the whole family with the projects. If you have the time it can be a very special moment for the family. Cheers to DIY and cheers to wedding planning!

I thought six months felt like it was getting close until the 5 month mark hit last week. I have to say I had my first moment of wanting to scream out “eeeek!” It’s no joke now the planning has begun in full force. I have a whole new respect for brides that can pull off a wedding in six months. All of the contracts I signed and vendors that I hired months ago are now calling and confirming. I have to be honest it feels so good to have everything already arranged and semi-confirmed. Of course their are the little things that don’t workout when they are arranged so far in advance. Example – the hair stylist I hired got engaged and her bachelorette party is the weekend of our wedding, of course all of the girls in the salon would be going 🙂 The DJ decided July is a nice time to take a vacation, but it all worked out and we got the owner of the company. These are the little things that make wedding planning so exciting! You never know what will happen.

It feels so good to be able to check things off the to-do list and that has definitely happened this month. One morning I woke up, made a cup of coffee and sat on the couch organizing my wedding binder. I then put the check-list in the front of the binder and went straight down the list – doing a “check, check, check!” At this point in the wedding process there is no more, “I’ll wait a month,” it’s “DO IT NOW!”

I’m going to end this post by saying that there is no better feeling in the world the when your family comes together and wants to be so involved in the wedding planning process. This last month has been filled with special moments. Watching my Dad and Fiancé sand the wood for the signs, watching my Mom and Fiancé paint the signs, sitting in the sun and laughing about dance classes, and imaging the father/daughter dance. If there is one piece of advice I can give other brides who are planning their own weddings is – make it a family affair! Getting the whole family involved might be a little more stressful, but in the end the time you spend together is what really counts.

6 Months Away!

I can finally say it, “We are getting married in 6 months!” If you have been engaged for almost a year you know the feeling of the six month mark. At this point everything becomes a reality. The words, “I’m going to do” change to “I need to do.” A little bit of pressure starts to build and it’s time to start making decisions, signing contracts, and getting in shape, because before you know it the big day will be here. There is no more time for procrastination 🙂

I was very lucky that my wedding dress arrived right at the six month mark and it is perfect! I did my first fitting, ordered my veil and shoes, and have the dress tucked away at my parents house. I’m still working on ordering the bridesmaids dresses, when you have eight girls who live all over the country and one in London, it isn’t easy to get all of their sizes and orders in. My Goal is to have this done before February. Picking out the bridesmaids dresses has been one of the most memorable parts of the wedding planning process so far. If you are getting married, I’m sure you can agree. When you have girls that are really tall and really short and all different body types finding the “perfect” dress isn’t always easy. After having the girls try on many dresses, finally we found the one. We like to call it the “sisterhood of the traveling dress!” It fits all of us – who would have thought this could work? I actually like it so much I want one for myself. It makes me happy as the bride that my best friends are happy with the dress and feel good in it – if you look good you play good! I really wanted them all to like the dress.

I would like to end this post with a link to an article that was written in the New York Times last week about Santa Cruz. I am very excited to let my guests know that the little town where we are getting married has been featured. It truly is a magical place.

http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/travel/02hours-santacruz.html

Crafting with the Family

This Thanksgiving was really fun because we started getting crafty for the wedding! What do I mean by crafty? If you are a person like me who loves sitting around and doing crafts- everything from stamping cards, tying ribbons and painting things you will really enjoy this part of the wedding process. Some people might think I’m crazy starting exactly 7 months out from yesterday on things like this, but trust me I’ve done enough events to know that those months can fly by very fast. My attitude – do as much as I can now and check it off my list!

If your getting married on the beach like we are one of things that is always fun to do is have flip flops for your guests. I actually bought my flip flops back at the end of last summer – some would think I was crazy buying them so many months out including the sales man who asked me, “when is your wedding? I responded with next summer, he laughed and said, “don’t worry you are not the only bride that I’ve seen walk out of here with over 60 pairs of flip flops a year out!” It made for a good story when I got home. After the flip flops sat for a while I thought it was time to have fun with them and personalize them for the wedding, that’s the crafting we did over Thanksgiving.

We labeled them by embossing the tags, tied ribbons, and a had a lovely time doing it as a family. I think that some people look at wedding planning as a burden and don’t realize that it can be a very fun family event. We sat around and chatted, talked about the wedding, and put the flip flops together…enjoying every moment of it. With more and more DIY (do it yourself) projects, brides, grooms, and family members are getting involved and sharing in the preparation for the big day. I can’t wait for our next craft session and being able to check something else of our to do list 🙂 Cheers to crafting with the family!

I’m absolutely in love with this website called Style Me Pretty if you are a bride to be, mother of the bride, or if you just enjoy looking at beautiful weddings you have to check out this website – it’s amazing! Everyday they post new weddings and if your like me if I see an idea I write it down.

Another great website I found is called Save-on-crafts.com they have great deals on fun things that you can incorporate into your wedding especially DIY stuff. If you don’t know what DIY it’s “do it yourself” a lot of people are using this term in order to save money and still do some of the more expensive things. If you have the time I would highly recommend looking into doing some things yourself – it can be really fun and if you include your partner, parents, and friends it can be a great bonding experience. Don’t worry this Thanksgiving is going to be crafty time! 🙂

It’s 8 Months Away!

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post – I’ve been behind in my updates. However, here we are at the 8 month mark, it’s seems like a long time, but when your engagement is almost 18 months, 8 seems a lot closer. Lots has happened in the last few months. Found my wedding dress, picked out the bridesmaid dresses, hired a DJ, found the cake vendor, and starting planning the little details. That may seem like a lot but all I have to say as a bride is start early! Even the smallest things can take a very long time.

For example, my Mom probably called 10 different cake places, got prices, delivery fees, styles, flavors, the choices are endless this probably took her over 5 hours and finally we found a vendor at a bridal show. Have you ever been to a bridal show? I highly recommend going. I was a little unsure if I wanted to go because I have spent a lot of time in my career at trade shows and for some reason the idea of a “wedding trade show” didn’t sound very pleasing to me. I thought it was going to be stressful with vendors throwing you their stuff and people continuously asking you questions etc… However, it was actually very pleasant and fun. I went with my Mom and we ended up finding the perfect cake lady and signing a contract with her – after we tasted her yummy samples of course 🙂 If you go to a bridal show be cautious of giving out your email address, I’m still receiving junk emails from vendors!

So what does the 8 month mark mean? According to magazines and websites you should make sure your dress is ordered, DJ booked, and start looking at invitations – I’m right on track. But, what about all the little details. I never thought that there could be so many details involved with a wedding, that is if every time you see a cute idea you want to apply it to your wedding. I have now made a list of things I want to do and prioritized them by absolutely essential to it would be okay if I didn’t get around to it. All I have to say is I’m really looking forward to some “crafting” time over Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for more updates.

The Perfect Wedding Planner

After my last blog where I talked about the horrible experience with the con man wedding planner, I thought I would follow up with a more positive experience. There are many different types of wedding planners, everything from the person who does “everything,” including invitations, managing guest lists, helps with registries etc… Then there is a planner who helps with the creative side of things and is mostly there to help the bride brainstorm about ideas and helps with creative arrangements. There is also the planner who you can hire for creative sessions, these planners charge by the hour and you can discuss logistical and creative ideas. The planner that I chose is a day-of planner who will take over the logistics and planning of the wedding about a month in advance. This is someone who you need to trust, be able to communicate with, and most importantly is able to come in at the end and run the show! If you are a planning type of person and you are looking to save some money and want to do all of the planning up to the big day this is the perfect person to hire.

I got very lucky that I met the perfect person after my horrible experience with Garrett Watson. Brie, who works for Woodworm Party store in Santa Cruz is amazing. She is very creative, well organized, and we hit it off immediately. If you are reading this blog please promise me that you will never hire a wedding planner that doesn’t show you there credentials. This may seem silly, but just like any other business it is important to make sure they have an office and a “real business.” Make sure that you don’t rush into hiring a wedding planner, take your time and find the right person. If you are a planner or type A personality you really want to make sure this is a person that you can trust and cares about the most important day of your life as much as you do 🙂

A few things to think about when you are hiring a wedding planner: One, ask them about the other weddings they have done, ask for pictures, and even if you can talk to other brides. Two, personality is huge, if you don’t feel the connection right from the beginning don’t hire them. Three, ask them to paint a picture of how they imagine your wedding will go, everything from the rehearsal the day before, set up, schedule, and how you will know that it’s time to walk down the aisle. These are the little things that if they are done well will make for a perfect event. Most importantly, make sure you can have fun and laugh with this person. They are going to be a presence at your wedding and you want someone who is smiling and calm even if something goes wrong. You can plan and plan until you are completely planned out – which is my personality, but there is always the chance something will go wrong and no one will even notice!

I wanted to write this blog post about a month ago, but I just couldn’t get around to it. As you can see by the title of this post, yes, I hired a con man as a wedding planner. Who would have thought there could be fraud in wedding planning? I was as shocked as maybe you are. Who would want to sabotage one of the most beautiful, special, and important days of someone’s life? Here I am an event planner, someone who has worked in corporate events, private events, worked with people, trusts people, and then hires a con man for a wedding planner. All I can say is you can’t trust everyone. I hope this post makes you laugh as well as makes you aware. I wouldn’t want any other bride to go through what I went through. We actually got lucky that this happened over a year before our wedding.

Here is what happened. The wedding planner, Garrett Watson from Exquisite Beach Weddings – www.exquisitebeachweddings.com who has an actual website, see for yourself and looks completely legitimate. He went to the Dream Inn and presented himself as a day-of-planner. The event planner at the Hotel as well as myself was convinced that he was running a legitimate business. All I was looking for was a day-of-planner that would take care of the details on the day of the wedding and a few weeks prior so that I could relax and everything would go perfectly. This man seemed perfect. We chatted on the phone and he knew a lot about weddings and seemed very organized and well priced. We then met him as a family at the Dream Inn and he took us around the hotel and showed us the space and what he could offer us. He met my father, mother, and fiance. We all thought he would be the perfect match for our wedding, but we were wrong.

He was very adamant about getting the deposit for the beach permit and other costs that were associated. Thankfully we put all of the charges on the Visa credit card, which later was a blessing. We then thought it would be a good trial run for us to hire him as help for an engagement party my parents had for us. The day before the engagement he “supposedly” got into a car accident and was only available via text and then slowly he disappeared. He stopped answering phone calls, turned his phone off, didn’t pay for the rentals out of our money, didn’t answer emails or text, he was officially gone. After about two weeks of trying to contact the man we called Visa and reported him as fraud. Thankfully only a few weeks later we were reimbursed for the total amount that was charged on the credit card. Visa was very helpful and lesson learned always put vendor charges on a credit card if you can. If we had paid in cash or check I’m sure the money would be gone.

On a more positive note we have plenty of time to find and new planner and I will never hire another vendor without a background check 🙂 I have reported this man to the police, better business bureau, and hopefully one day he will get caught for doing such a horrible thing. We have now found an incredible wedding planner! She is amazing and will help with the day-of-planning and I completely trust that she will do a fabulous job. I will talk about hiring a day-of-planner in my next blog. Stay tuned for more…

The First Steps…

If you are a planner you will relate with this blog. The first thing you do when you get engaged is you start planning. Where should we get married? Should we hire a wedding planner? Who should we invite? Who is in the wedding? So many things to plan, it can be overwhelming. My advice is to always remind yourself that a marriage is about love and being in love with the person you are with. If the napkins are not perfectly placed on the table – it’s okay, you are still in love. It’s important to make sure that you take a step back and look at the bigger picture; I have to give my fiancé credit for reinforcing this. Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed with the details, he always says, “The only thing that matters is our love.” This is very true. To all those event planners out there that are planning their own wedding, make sure you look at your wedding in a different light than a corporate event. The ceremony can start five minutes late and your executives will not freak out. It’s a celebration of love, not an executive meeting, be sure you tell yourself this.

When I first got engaged I knew whom I wanted as my bridesmaids and my fiancé knew whom he wanted as his groomsmen, this was the easy part! We immediately called them all and told them the news. I made my cousin my maid of honor, she is the like the sister I don’t have, and I made my best childhood girlfriends, closest college friends, and ladies that are in my life today, seven in total, “the perfect seven” my bridesmaids.

Next step, deciding where we were going to get married! Although I had always dreamed of my wedding, the location was the part that was a little blurry. I was back and forth about having the wedding in the mountains, near a lake, on the beach, outside, inside, so many choices! Was it going to be Tahoe? Or Wine Country? Both of these locations are beautiful places that had a meaning to us both my fiancé and me. After some research we knew we wanted 4th of July weekend 2011, but we hadn’t picked a location. Then I started thinking about places that would be convenient to our guests and especially my parents and Santa Cruz was mentioned. At first I was a little unsure, but after about ten minutes it came to me that this was the perfect place. Everything that we wanted was there, beach, boutique hotel, vacation spot, and family! We had found the ideal destination wedding location in California. Santa Cruz offers a small beach town feel with activities for young and old, many options for accommodations, good restaurants, and the perfect beach for our ceremony and hotel for reception, the Dream Inn – and to top it off what a romantic name for a hotel! After we choose our location the next step was perhaps hiring a wedding planner for the day of the wedding, here comes a good story! My next post will be titled – “I hired a fraud for a wedding planner,” stay tuned.