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Meeting your vendors can be stressful and overwhelming – generally, you don’t know what exactly to ask, contracts can be complicated, and pricing may not make any sense whatsoever. Creatives and wedding industry professionals who are used to the language and work flows of weddings and events can sometimes overwhelm potential brides and grooms, and sometimes you may have questions that arise throughout, but you don’t want to seem silly for asking (spoiler: never feel silly for asking a question regarding investments you’re making on your wedding day!). So, as wedding season kicks into full gear, I wanted to share some tips and tricks in order to have a successful vendor meeting.
First, before you even schedule with vendors, it’s best to know what kind of financial commitment you want to make for your wedding. Whether you decide that by looking at averages of wedding costs for your city or region, or by determining who is committing the funds to make your dream wedding come true, making a tentative budget or getting a ballpark amount for what you want to spend is key.
Once you figure out your budget, start looking at the style you want to convey – light and air with lots of greenery, or something more formal with a sit down dinner at a hotel, will help guide you to vendors who have those kinds of experiences and tastes as well, ensuring that your wedding day is consistent in all things.
My biggest piece of advice however relating to pricing, even when you’re reeling from the sticker shock or pleasantly surprised with a vendor’s pricing: keep in mind you’re not just investing in a final product after a service, but you’re also investing in a client experience. The money you are putting towards your vendors is a direct reflection on the product and experience you will have with that vendor.
What about when you actually sit down with a vendor? Of course, ask about experience, style, what’s included as a service and what is the client experience with them. But, it is to my recommendation to always ask about whether or not a vendor has a full contract, and if they carry insurance. With more and more venues requiring insured vendors (particularly with caterers), it’s important that the contract protects everyone’s interest, and that should the worst happen, liabilities are able to be covered and taken care of.
When you get to the portion of the meeting regarding deposits and retainers, ask about the difference and what is refundable or nonrefundable, and if the difference can be spelled out within the contract if it’s not already. A deposit, more often than not, can legally be refunded if service is found unsatisfactory or the event is cancelled unless it is strictly outlined as nonrefundable. It is so important for you as a client to be knowledgeable going into a contractual agreement. Ask if you can have a copy reviewed, or if they contract has been reviewed before. As always, it’s better safe than sorry.
Besides looking at making sure that everyone’s interests are protected and ensuring everything is in budget, there are key questions you should ask during your meeting. When you’re spending money and investing in your wedding day, you want to make sure that the people you’re hiring work well together and with you. Ask if they’ve worked with your other hired vendors or at your venue(s), but also learn about them as a person and ask what got them into doing photography or baking or planning weddings, what they do when they’re not working, and their favorite spots around town. Getting to know your vendors as people will help you build a relationship with them, and you’ll find that you have a better experience working with them in the long run.
So, in summary: research and inquire about pricing and availability, even in ballpark amounts, always ask about reviewing a contract and insurance, and get to know your vendors beyond what they do for you. Doing this will lead to better working relationship and a more satisfactory experience on your wedding day.
Baked Goods: JCB Creations
Beauty: Verde Beauty Studio
Bridal Accessories: Kendra Scott
Floral Design: Pick-a-Petal Floral Design
Grooms Apparel: The Black Tux
Paper Goods: Paper Tie Affair
Photography: Art De Vie
Planning: Poppy Lane Events
Venue and Catering: Windsor Court Hotel
Videography: Wedding Films Solutions
I give my hand to you with all my heart
I can't wait to live my life with you I can't wait to start
You and I will never be apart
My dreams came true because of you.
When Stephani and Patrick met, it wasn't quite love at first sight. It was, however, a little prick of awareness, a little "Aha, there you are" after meeting each other a few times, and then a "Let's do forever". Chic, classic, and so stylish, the Mathia's are a good time loving couple with the best group of family and friends. Stephani and Pat, it was such an honor and a pleasure to make sure that your wedding day was everything you dreamed it would be!
Beauty: Verde Beauty Studio
Bridal Apparel: Moliere Bridal
Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Candle and Lighting: Luminous Events
Ceremony Venue: Loews Hotel
Coordination: Poppy Lane Events
Floral: Herbivore Floral Designs
Grooms Apparel: Men’s Warehouse
Second Line Band: Lagniappe Brass Band
Photography: Studio Tran
Reception Venue: The Chicory
"I love you, I do -- you have my word.
"You have all my words." -- Lang Leave
Yeah. I can't sum up how special it was to plan Lindsey and Daniel's wedding day at New Orleans City Park, where they laughed, cried, and started the newest chapter of the wild story that is there's. Dating long distance, moving across the country, and standing by each other through thick and thin, these two had smiles on their faces the entire season of their engagement, and it was beyond beautiful to see it all come together for them.
Baked Goods: Swiss Confectionery, Inc.
Beauty: Verde Beauty Studio
Bridal Apparel: Patsy's, A Bridal Boutique
DJ: X-Pert Productions, LLC
Floral Design: Hummingbird Floral Studio
Furniture Rentals: Lovegood - Wedding and Event Rentals and Event Rental
Invitation Calligraphy: Nib & Flow
Lighting Design: Firefly Ambiance Candles & Decor
Linens: Nuage Designs, Inc. and Premier Table Linens
Planning: Poppy Lane Events
Photography: Wild Wonder Photography
Signage: Blooming Chalk
Venue: New Orleans City Park
Hello, hello! Whew! We’re just coming back from our trip to Michigan for some much needed rest and relaxation, and per our Instagram poll, we’re sharing with you our tips and how-to’s on budgeting for your wedding day. This is a near and dear topic to us as planners, as creating a budget for your event is the most important factor in the planning process: without an established budget, the entire planning process will lack a level of control and consistency (that is, you will always be stressed about the costs piling up). We’ll be talking more so on how to create a budget versus what you can do to save money or get costs down, but we’ll be sharing our tips on that as well.
First and foremost, reach out to vendors. Might sound crazy, right? The fact of the matter is, weddings and parties are expensive. Having the Instagram worthy and blog published events you see generally are quite the investment, and above all else, educating yourself on the costs and investments you’re going to be making will go a long way in determining what is reasonable, overpriced, or too good to be true. Don’t be afraid to ask close friends and family about what they spent on various vendors, or ask for referrals, or ask that vendor you see in a Facebook ad what their average client spends on their services.
Because friends, when you’ve already given yourself hard numbers to follow before reaching out to vendors, you’ll more than likely fall over in shock in your seat. When you get a response back saying that the greenery installation along a mantle is going to be $1500, and that’s what you thought your whole floral budget would be, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Or when the venue you’ve been dying over Instagram starts at $75 per person with a minimum of 150 guests (and that’s not including bar), it causes a cold sweat to break out. Educate yourself on your region’s averages, or your dream vendor’s average, and go from there.
After your initial research, determine what is important to you for your wedding. Sit down with your better half, and put it into writing what is important, whether it's the venue versus the date, a certain photographer or more so a style of photography, food, entertainment, invitations. Prioritize where you want the money invested from your wedding, and then get ballpark quotes from those vendors. It’s not a quite a priority at this time to say you need X, Y, and Z, but by getting estimates that may be a little higher than what they will be in actuality will lessen sticker-shock and prepare you for worst case scenarios.
Determine who is funding what. This is a must have conversation with parents or anyone who has said they would like to contribute to the wedding. It is best to be blunt, and keep a written record of exact amounts or what vendors they are contributing to. Doing this will be awkward, without a doubt, but trust me when I say that making sure you keep everyone accountable for everything they commit to in the long run will be better for relationships with family members. Share what you have already collected from your research earlier, and be honest as to what costs are going to be for those vendors. Don’t be afraid to share that you would rather have this baker over another, or this time of year at a venue because it’s a different cost.
After this series of chats and talks, you’re going to feel the need to hard-core stick to your budget. I’m going to drop a bomb here, so brace yourself: don’t do it.
By forcing yourself to stick to a number, you’re going to be overwhelmed and find yourself cutting costs from unnecessary avenues (booking your photographer for 7 hours versus 8, renting table overlays versus proper cloths, etc). Setting yourself up to have leeway, spending between (for example) $30-35,000 versus just $30,000 without exception will give breathing room (and, referring back to those ballpark quotes you got form the beginning, prepare yourself for the investment of weddings and help with the unexpected costs).
Now that there is an understanding of what the important aspects of your wedding are going to cost, divide and conquer the rest of the budget with other costs. This is where an Excel sheet is key! You can also keep track in your wedding binder, or have your wedding planner keep track of your budget for you. I would also be sure to include when payments have been applied and when payments are due (and making sure your phone, planner, or agenda have it noted when these payments are due in order to avoid contract cancellations). More and more vendors are attaching late fees for payments not made on time – avoid the stress of doubling your bill with your team by sending a reminder several weeks before a payment is due.
So friends, creating a budget for your wedding educate yourself about the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and while you hold yourself accountable to making sure things get done, stay true to yourself and what YOU want. Planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming with the details and questions and dealing with family and friends as it is, and anything regarding money is bound to compound those stresses. By creating a budget and giving yourself the grace to have a range to stay within, you’ll be saving yourself the headache and worry of everything relating to money.
Over here, we're firm believers that home isn't a place: it's a feeling in our chest, down to our soul. It's a sense of calm and excitement all at once, a wild part soothed and yet lit up with vivacious and infectious spirit.
And y'all, what a beautiful thing it is to see a couple who have found home in each other. That support and challenge each other, and are shelters for each other's hearts. Allison and Donovan's celebration with their closest friends and family was truly wonderful, and we're so thankful we worked with them and their team of vendors to make their day so perfect.
“You are not the shiz, we are all the shiz.”
Here I was, in a room full of amazing entrepreneurs and creatives attending a conference, people nodding and saying “YASSSS” in agreement to words of an idol of the wedding industry, and while we were all full of life and vigor with bright eyes and excitement, I couldn’t help but pause for a moment. Not because I was so incredibly blown away by what the speaker was saying or the message of being humble and kind she was giving, because it was clear in that moment that nearly none of these fellow attendees got it. This was further cemented when mere moments later, as we transitioned into the styled shoot portion of the day, and the same folks were downright nasty to each other to “get their shot”.
It left quite the impression on me, that’s for sure.
It’s hard, I get it. I know we’re all competing, fighting for the same client in the same area. We’re pricing each other out, complaining about those who both charge way too low and take away all of the customers and in the same breath criticizing those who charge more for “the same work”. We are constantly saying “Yes! Community! Helping people out!” while at the same time snarling at each other to get the shot.
And I would like to say that I’m above this kind of behavior, but the fact of the matter is, I’m not. I’m just as guilty and I hate that I am. And as someone who also does this, I think I can speak for the majority in that we don’t do this because it’s intentional; if anything, it’s because of a horrible trait called jealousy. And pride. And the desire to succeed and work with our dream clients and do all the things we want to that we think others are doing right in this second.
When it occurred to me what it was that I was doing, it was extremely humbling. I was a pot calling the kettle black, and I wasn’t ok with that; I pride myself on a “do as I say, not as I do” kinda person, and it really upset when I realized otherwise. So, what did I do (and to be honest, what am I still doing) to combat this?
I help my competition. Intentionally.
I offer advice, peeks into how I run my advertising, thoughts and feelings of going with the Knot over Wedding Wire (which, Louisiana folks, absolutely put those marketing dollars into the Knot! More of our couples use it click-for-click), and what my workflows are. I have made genuine, real friends with these folks, going to coffee and having a movie night outside of traditional networking events (that’s right, like how seriously everyone else hangs out with their friends). We’ve referred work to each other, and when in a pinch, called each other for help.
It’s acknowledging that yeah, your clients have the same budgets and styles and are amazing people, but for some reason no matter how you study or research it, they went with someone else. It’s realizing that for you, your business, you have your clients that love YOU and appreciate YOU, and they have theirs. And it’s ok to know that they more than likely inquired with them too. These competitors and other folks do great work and care for their clients as much as you do. That’s perfectly fine.
Above all else though, I humbled myself. Yeah, of course I want the money from a booking (making a living is a big part of why I do what I do). But I, and you too, have to look at the bigger picture. There are more moving parts even outside of the sphere of competition and knowing that everyone has their kind of client, and clients have their kind of vendor. In the weeks and days leading up to an event, there’s a coordinator/planner hunting contact info down and settling timelines for literally everyone while a photographer is planning out how to get the most out of their hours and stressing over how quickly they can process images, a specialty rental company seeing a $500 linen was torn last week and how to repair it as quickly as possible for this week. It’s a firm understanding that you are not the most important person in the grand scheme of it all.
I humbled myself by remembering that I am but a small part in the process. My competition is a small part. The vendor I don’t particularly care for is a piece too, and the one that is my best friends IRL. We all contribute to make a moment in time happen, to create a feeling that couples generally only experience once in their lifetime. Holy cow.
We make that happen. Our competition makes it happen. How incredibly amazing is it that folks found a calling, discovered that is a calling, and you can relate to them in this way?
As this speaker said, we’re all the shiz. We do some pretty awesome stuff. Coming together with a team of vendors, or as a “vendor category” as a whole, to make magic happen and be a part of creating lifetime memories. Reflect on this consciously, beat down that little green monster of envy, and make the effort to be intentional and genuine in creating relationships within the industry. Because y’all, at the end of the day, it truly does foster a better community and a better wedding day for couples.
When you know, you know. When Allison and Chris met during college, it was instant. A sweet girl from Louisiana, a bright eyed and down-to-earth boy from New York, a combination that lead them to New Orleans to celebrate the start of forever with laughter, dancing, and donuts (that's right here kids...if there's a better duo than Allison and Chris, it's Krispy Kreme and New York City policemen!).
Captured so beautifully by Kaylie Martin of Kaylie Nicole Photography, and with floral and styling by Diane over at Fat Cat Flowers, their day was absolutely perfect. Cheers to many years, Allison and Chris! #WidmerTiesTheKnox
Photography: Kaylie Nicole Photography
Coordination: Poppy Lane Events
Ceremony Location: St. Louis Cathedral
Reception Location: Marche
Prep Location: Chateau LeMoyne
Floral Designer: Fat Cat Flowers
Entertainment: Luv Sexy Band & Kinfolk Brass Band
Beauty Team: Flawless Bride
Cake: Haydel’s Bakery
Donut Tree: Krispy Kreme Bakery
Congrats!!! You’re engaged! Right about now, I bet you're thinking “Ahhhh…now what?” (And I’m sure you’re seeing lots of advertisements right about now saying this too!)
Over here at Poppy Lane, wedding planning is viewed as a season of your relationship with your future spouse where you get to enjoy planning your marriage. It’s personal, fun, and intimate in a sense that the choices you makes are a representation of you and your significant other. Sure there are checklists, appointments, and added stresses, our team strives to make sure that you get to enjoy putting the pieces together; that is, not going crazy! That’s where we come in. And that’s how I can answer my above question on what exactly comes next for you and your fiancé.
After the glow of saying “Yes!” has set in, it’s time to buckle down and think about the team that it will take to put together one of the biggest days of your life. It’s researching, lots of reading (aka stalking, let’s be real here), and determining the investment you’re making into making sure someone meets not only your style and aesthetics, but is trustworthy and a pleasure to work with. While the word “invest” is a little strong here, it is certainly necessary: the guidance, the troubleshooting, and the nature of what planning work entails is worth every. Single. Penny. Why? Here are three key reasons as to why a team holds the utmost value for any couple beginning their wedding planning journey.
We anticipate needs and troubleshoot problems before they happen. Like many craftsman, it takes a knowledgeable and skilled team to be able to anticipate, adapt, and succeed through problems or issues before it’s noticed. Time and time again, Poppy Lane finds itself innovating and solving, and going above and beyond to keep everything as close as possible to perfect for our couples. Whether we are noticing a detail that isn’t just so, or making sure guests are enjoying themselves in a safe manner, we are the eyes as ears from beginning to end of an event to ensure that all memories are positive memories of your wedding day.
When it comes to having seeking guidance and insight at any point along the way, we’re there for you. As with most organized events, there’s usually a person in charge. Whether it’s a team captain, leader, or boss, typically someone is delegated to be in charge and for good reason. This person helps keep the rest of the team on track, motivated, and in the loop regarding the decisions being made and the status of the project. They guide everyone along, make sure the moving pieces are coming together smoothly and without fail, and hold all parties accountable. As a wedding planner, there’s an emotional connection between us and our clients, and while we certainly manage and assemble all of our vendors and important persons, we also become a shoulder to lean on and a source of information and comfort. We make sense of a rather strange and involved series of events and processes, and ensure the foundation of each wedding is set up to be a flawless celebration that you get to be present and enjoy throughout.
This is the start of forever for you and your other half; you’re ultimately planning a marriage, and we understand this more than anyone else. In every opinion shared and decision made, we are conscious of the meaning of this day for you. We constantly do a delicate dance between providing personal opinion and support and professional service and time. While we are here to first and foremost professionally serve you every step of the way in planning and coordinating your wedding, we do so with a friendliness and casualness that allows you to feel comforted, cared for, and at ease. We believe wedding planning is a fun and exciting time despite the added pressures and stresses; we are not a “do as I say, not as I do” type of group over here.
If you’re newly engaged or in the process of planning your wedding, we’d love to be of assistance to you. If you’re interested in setting up a complimentary consultation please do so here. We’d love to see if we’re just the team right for you!
Based in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, Poppy Lane Events specializes in intimate gatherings and weddings with a focus on creating moments that will leave memories for a lifetime.
We have a passion for details, and know it is our purpose to bring dreams and visions to life for our couples, focusing on the celebration of life and marriage.
We love creating teams of like-minded folks
to make it happen, and we would be beyond happy to collaborate with you. Click here to contact us!