Filtering by Tag: plan with me

Plan with Me: How to Plan Your Wedding With Intention

Randi Fracassi

We all want a beautiful wedding. A day where all the details reflect you and your style, that tells a story, that has your guests experiencing the best night of your life with you. What the trick is though is how to have that kind of intentionality while planning, and making sure that this day truly does reflect you.

One of the first things that can help as you begin to plan is not to put a timer on yourself. The time crunch will come later, I promise, but relish in this season and allow yourself to enjoy being engaged and to enjoy the planning process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your wedding. Having the patience to look at options, to build your budget, to create your guest list, to find the perfect pieces to make it all come together, will allow your decisions to be more thought out and ultimately ensure that you get exactly what you’re looking for, and that you’re not compromising on anything relating to your big day.  

Pick a venue that speaks you both of you. This might mean making your way across the state, or video chatting across the country, but your wedding venue sets the foundation of the rest of the aesthetic for your day. Though it can be very easy to get caught up in glamour to the style of a venue, you just also keep in mind the setting and the realistic size of your wedding. That is, having a small, intimate wedding in a hall that can hold 300 will more than likely not be ideal, nor would choosing a space that has many small rooms versus a more open space if you’re looking to create a bright and airy environment. Choosing it with the intention of celebrating you and telling your story is absolutely key in ensuring that your wedding reflects you as a couple.

Besides your venue, do not pick vendors based solely on their prices. I am not saying here that you should completely plan your wedding without thought to cost, but what I am saying is that just because a vendor may be cheaper (or even free) in comparison to another, consider the experience you want to have and whether or not you are getting the most out of your experience for your investment. Like your venue, your vendors help set the tone and are a reflection of you; in regards to vendors that you receive tangible goods from (apparel, photographers, baker, videographers, catering, paper goods), be especially aware that these are what you’ll have to remember from your wedding, and that these goods need to have the most care in their selection.  

While you now may have the perfect setting and team on your side, also take into consideration your wedding party, and the guest list itself. It goes without saying that you want your wedding to be the best of days, and you want to be able to celebrate without worry of offending, hurting, or being otherwise involved in drama. With that, surround yourself with a group of men and women who support you, would hold you accountable, and who genuinely cherish your friendship. Sure you more than likely will have to include friends of your parents, plus ones, or others you may not personally know for the sake of politeness and etiquette, but taking the meticulous care to invite those friends and family that would contribute to your wedding day will complete the atmosphere that you created.

Finally, and most importantly, remember what you have at the end of it all. Once you say goodbye, the venue is cleaned up, and you’re left standing there, you are married. You’ve made a commitment to another person, another soul. Throughout the planning process and the season of engagement in your lives, it should be at the forefront that this is what matters most; that this marriage is what matters and what is being celebrated, and that this party isn’t for show. At this time, take the care to go through premarital or couples counseling in preparation for your marriage, and to make sure that you have those deep down, core value questions (if you haven’t already).

I hope these tips will help you as you plan your wedding with intention, whether it’s to make sure that it’s stylish and trendy or more heartfelt and personal, these suggestions will surely help you as you plan to make the most out of your wedding planning experience!

Happy planning,

Randi

Plan with Me: How to Have a Successful Vendor Meeting

Randi Fracassi

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, while wedding and event planning season is kicking 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.  

So – you’ve found vendors that fit your style, but you’re noticing that there’s a push to meet with you first before disclosing pricing information. Which, as a vendor, I can totally agree with – you wouldn’t want to hand out pricing to everyone who came along, and be able to remain competitive. This also weeds out the serious inquiries versus the non; see if you can schedule a phone consult before you meet, or see if they can give you a ballpark amount. After all, you’re still wanting to remain in budget and keep a track on your expenses.

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. I personally would rather spend more money on an excellent customer service experience and great time with a vendor and have fantastic product than a bland, impersonal relationship, and therefore have my final product be tainted by that client experience.

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.

Happy planning,

Randi

Plan with Me: Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

Randi Fracassi

Planning your wedding day seems like a breeze and that you can wing it with tentative times. The biggest mistake that you can make on your wedding day is assuming you have enough time between hair appointments, first looks, the ceremony itself, and how your reception is supposed to go. So, that leaves the question, how does everything go, and how to you schedule it so that you can have a smooth and stress-free day?

My first tip is to start from the ceremony, as that’s a time that has been set in stone and announced on invitations and social media for a while. When talking to your officiant, ask about how long of a ceremony you should expect. Though you don’t need to write down every detail and time it to the minute, get a general idea, and make sure to write it down (I love using Excel for timelines and all things relating to planning…I’m a real big fan!). I’d also get into contact with your photographer, and ask as to how long it would take to do a first look, get bridal party photos. Whether or not you’re doing a first look will greatly affect your timeline, as you’ll want to fit in those pictures with your groom either before or after your ceremony.

So, ceremony and photos have been timed out, and then you can calculate about how long it will take for you to get to and from locations, especially if your ceremony and reception venues are a bit of a ways away from each other. Add in time for traffic (Google Maps now has feature to choose the time and day of the year to see how heavy traffic is!).

Now, you’re at the reception: determine now if you’re doing speeches, who’s speaking, if you’re doing a garter and bouquet toss, Money Dance, and if you’d prefer to have everything done at once or have the evening spread out. Different parts of the US do receptions differently, such as in Louisiana traditions are spread throughout the event to give guests time to eat and socialize with you, whereas East Coast weddings tend to do all everything right at the beginning and leave the rest of the reception to party and dance. You can certainly time it however you like, but remember that songs last roughly 4 minutes (so carving out 30 minutes of first dances isn’t quite necessary), the DJ or Band has to know when you’re doing various tosses and dances, and folks aren’t quite ready for cake right after dinner.

Whew! That’s a lot! But what about everything before the actual wedding? Go back to ceremony, and pictures beforehand, and map out how long it will take you to get to locations. Mark down when parents, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and everyone involved have to be dressed at the location. Refer back to contracts of how long you have your photographer and videographers, and include travel times in this, especially if they’re shooting you getting ready. Estimate roughly 30 minutes to get dressed, as pictures and poses will be taken throughout, and any last minute bathroom breaks and touchups will be needed then.

In regards to getting ready, think 1.5 hours per person getting hair and makeup done, and how many stylists will be working with you. Generally for a five person bridal party and two mothers, with two stylists working, look at roughly 4 hours. Be sure to remember to eat, as it might be a while before you get to sample your delicious wedding food! Again, include traveling, especially if you’re going from home to a salon. If you’re doing a massage or getting nails done, be sure to include that as well, and confirm all of your appointments.

Finally, you want to finish up the timeline with when you should be up and about, and look at when you should go to bed the night before so that you’re well rested and prepared for the big day. Taking the extra time to ensure that you’ve got everything planned out and taken care of well in advance will make a HUGE impact on whether or not you enjoy your wedding day. This also allows you to look at any last minute details or items that need to be taken care of, and you can delegate those tasks (and get a mimosa or two in the morning of your wedding ;) ).

Happy planning,

Randi