Filtering by Tag: shreveport weddings

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

Operation I DO: The First Five Things You NEED To Do After Marrying Your Service Member

Randi Fracassi

While sitting in the Social Security Office waiting for your name to be called may be the highlight of your time post-wedding (just kidding, we all know the Honeymoon is!), there are couple other loose ends that need to be tied up once you’re officially married to your service member. Navigating DEERS, receiving orders and managing your PCS move, obtaining POA, are all details that need to be taken of before you change your social media status (but hey, the lines are long and boring, and there’s quite a bit of time to kill…). Today I’m sharing with you the first five things you need to do post-wedding after getting married to a military personnel.

Let’s also preface this by saying that your Social Security information must be changed prior to all of this. While waiting with other folks in the Social Security Office isn’t exactly the highlight of the marriage experience, it is a necessity in regards to getting your name changed, which I would recommend, as it makes not only enrollment and HR paperwork for your spouse easier, but when you receive orders for your PCS (Permanent Change of Station, aka, moving in your spouse, or moving to another base). Your adventure with Social Security can be shorted by their readily available online forms (found here) and bringing in copies of your birth and marriage certificates.  It’s best to knock this all out in one day if possible, especially since your service member may have to take a day of leave in order to make sure everything is squared away.  

After updating this, get enrolled in DEERS and/or MilPDs, and learn all the fancy acronyms that accompany it. Y’all, the military and government in general is a real big fan of acronyms, and will go out of their way to name a program something ridiculous just to make an acronym for it I promise you. Essentially though, DEERS is the military benefits and resource database (officially called Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), and MilPDs (Military Personnel Data System) supplements DEERS in that it also keeps track of events throughout your spouse’s career (such as promotions ((and changing eligibility as a result)), additional dependents, and separations). Usually you can do all of your DEERS, MilPDs, and ID paperwork in the same office, killing two birds with one stone. Remember; bring your birth certificate(s), Social Security Card, and your marriage certificate. I would recommend bringing copies of each in the event that they need to keep them.

While enrolling in DEERS and MilPDs, your spouse will need to visit their human resource contact within their squadron or battalion in order to have their pay and BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) changed in respect to their changed dependent status. What’s neat about BAH is that it changes based on location, and grants service members and their families the ability to live outside or in mixed housing.

 After taking care of DEERS and your ID, get added into TRICARE, the healthcare associated with the military. A full outline of the different packages for both enlisted and officers can be found here. Keep in mind that though your active duty service member already has dental, but it is additional for you.

Post all of this paperwork and phone calls and office visits, consult with a lawyer to obtain Power of Attorney. By having POA, you can manage finances, loans, and take care of legal paperwork if your spouse is away for training or deployed.

I would also familiarize yourself with the resources now available to you as a spouse. Besides taking a tour of post or learning about what exactly it is or where your spouse works, but reach out to a Key Spouse or the FRG (Family Readiness Group) about getting involved with your spouse’s unit, and beginning to integrate yourself. You will meet a variety of folks here – both good and bad, comforting and annoying, but the experience itself is what you make of it. And y’all, regardless if you get along with folks or not, at the end of the day, the community that is formed on bases is unlike that of any other; you can’t put it to words how it feels to look around a room, not saying a word, and the woman across knows exactly what you’re going through because she’s been there too. The support is invaluable.

Milspouses, what advice would you give to new spouses? Any tips or ticks to make the process easier? What did you find most valuable as you transitioned into an official SO role? In the meantime, I hope these tips assist you in streamlining your tasks as a new spouse!

Kindly,

 

Randi

Kimberly + Toby | June 17, 2017

Randi Fracassi

"You are the love of my life, and you are the reason I'm alive. And baby, when I think of how you saved me, I go crazy.

"I've never known love like this, and it fills me with a new tenderness. And I know you're in my heart, you're in my soul, you're all I can't resist. And I need to tell you, the first time I held you, I knew you are the love of my life."

--"Love of My Life", Sammy Kershaw, Kimberly and Toby's First Dance Song

When you think of the people of Louisiana, I hope that you picture folks who are humble, kind, and have a deep love and understanding of the importance of family. And I hope that in this thinking, Toby and Kim also come to mind. True country people, they have such giving and generous hearts, and their wedding at the Cedar Post Barn in Albany, Louisiana fit their style to the T, combining Toby's Country Boy Can Survive persona with Kim's more feminine tastes, we brought sparkle and color to the Cedar Post. 

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Fontenot! We are so excited about your marriage! 

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Vendors & Friends

Coordinating: Poppy Lane Events

Photography: Jessica & Angie Photography

Venue: The Cedar Post Barn

Bridal Apparel: Debbie's Bridal

Bridesmaids: David's Bridal

Groomsmen: Squire's Formalwear

 

The Best Investment You Can Make While Planning Your Wedding

Randi Fracassi

Thought I was gonna say me, huh? As much as I would like to say a wedding planner or coordinator is the best investment you can make or even photography, video, or food, I can’t lie to y’all and say that it is. Though having a planner in your arsenal of vendors can be a great benefit, and more often than not pays for itself in savings, time, and stress, I’m not going to attempt to sell you on those points. However, as I’ve been thinking a lot of the idea of investments and what actually does make a wedding memorable and gives your attendees the wow factor, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

None of it matters.

I know what you’re thinking, but stay with me on this.

The money spent on photography, food, the perfect venue, the most gorgeous dress, the gifts for your bridal party, none of it matters. How your wedding looks or what your guests say about those things, doesn’t matter. Money, after all, is only valid because we believe in the value a fancy piece of cotton and paper holds in the exchange for another thing. I live for the Dr. Suess quote, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”. The material goods, products, and even services on a wedding day mean next to nothing if you don’t make this one key investment.

And that is, the investment into your marriage.

A wedding after all (and I’m taking this from my Christian upbringing on what a wedding is supposed to be) is the covenant exchange between you and your future spouse to build a life together, always support one another, and be each other’s partner in building a life together. Essentially, it could be just you and your spouse making this to each other, and it’s bonafide, the officiate just acts as a witness (thank you, government, for being ever present in the biggest moments of life).

Alas, I digress.

When you have a wedding, you make that promise to each other for your marriage. Whether you use traditional “love, honor, obey, in sickness and in health” vows or write your own, you do make that commitment to listen to each other always, compromise when needed (and equally), take care each other spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and always put each other above yourselves. It’s making hard decisions and little decisions and family and financial choices, as well as dealing with the merging of two separate entities into one (again, thanks government). There’s a whole lot of things that go into this marriage journey, and it’s incredibly different from your dating life, even if you’ve lived together or been with each other for a long time. It’s different and it’s an immediate change.

Setting yourself up for this commitment, for this change in your relationship and this new chapter you are taking with this person who you want to share the rest of your life with is the biggest investment you should be making throughout your engagement. Even if you’re not getting married by a traditional priest or pastor that generally offer counseling services, definitely go through couples therapy and let the therapist know that you’re looking for premarital counseling. Bringing to light the issues or possible issues that will come up as you continue on in your married life together before you’re married will facilitate better and healthier discussions (whether these are arguments, talking about your days, unloading stress or talking about successes), and ensure that when conflicts do arise that you as a couple have that foundation in order to have a healthy way to resolve them.

The idea of investing in premarital counseling can seem like an additional expense, and it is, but in the long run the conversations that arise in the very beginning, and that you’ve already talked about in a safe and moderated environment before you’re juggling bills, kids, work, and other stressors together, will set you and your marriage up for the best success. We’re all trying to beat the 50% statistic of failed marriages here, and the best investment you can make to ensure that your marriage and your life that you are building with your soul mate is undergoing (even if you have to find topics and bring up these conversations yourself)  premarital counseling or therapy, and making sure that your core values and beliefs in how you want your lives to be are on the same page.

I hope this was helpful and enlightening, friends, and I hope that you take into serious consideration the value of having premarital counseling and investing yourself into good, deep conversations in order to set up your marriage in the best way possible.

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