Filtering by Tag: wedding planning

Making the Most Out of Meeting with Vendors

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, as wedding season kicks into full gear, I wanted to share some tips and tricks in order to have a successful vendor meeting.

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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.

Happy planning,

Randi

Plan with Me: Streamlining Your Wedding Planning Process

Randi Fracassi

We know that planning a wedding is stressful, and that there are a lot of places to start. It can pretty overwhelming pretty quick, and before you know it, you're a few weeks out and you're wondering if you're missing something. 

Don't worry, we've got you covered. 

We're sharing some tips and tricks today that we use for planning and keeping our clients on track of making sure all the details are taken care of! 

First, prioritize what is important to you and your future spouse. Whether it's an important date, a special venue, or wanting to make sure that your guests have an experience, ensuring that you have your top two or three must haves spelled out from the very beginning is key to staying on top of wedding planning. 

After you make your priority list, talk about budget. Talking money is always difficult, but giving yourself a range to stay within rather than a set amount (for example, staying between $25,000 and $30,000 versus a must have at $27,000) will not only give you wiggle room as needed, but it also gives you the ability to splurge and save in other areas. While you're setting a budget, don't be afraid to ask who is contributing to the wedding fund; again, it can be hard and awkward, but if you're honest and upfront from the beginning about what you both want your day to be like and what you would like the budget to divided up by, it will save you pain, stress, and heartache in the long run.  

Another way you can save yourself from missing anything is getting yourself a planner. I would love to say "That's right, me!", but I'm humble enough to recognize that there's nothing quite like having a reminder set to your phone or having it handwritten in an agenda to make sure everything is complete and done. I love this one from Southern Weddings, and this one from Erin Condren. If you're not feeling like having binders and guides and papers everywhere (which is me, I can't handle having all the important things not in one place), I again recommend Erin Condren Life Planner, Day Designer (which you can find at Target), or a simple pocket planner that you can pick up at any Walmart, Target, or office supply store. 

Want something more complete and in detail (a checklist, perhaps?)? Check out the wedding planning timeline we use for our brides over here at Poppy Lane Events, handcrafted for you to keep on track, streamline the planning process, and ensure you don't forget a thing. 

What is your favorite tool for staying on task? Did you find it easier to have everything digital, or handwritten reminders? Did setting goals throughout the process help you? We'd love to know! 

Happy planning,

Randi 

DIY for Your DAY: Things to Craft...and Not to Craft

Randi Fracassi

Y’all, at one point or another while planning your wedding, you will find yourself scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest, gazing blankly at Amazon, or attending a bridal show, and you’ll be struck with the idea to do something absolutely fantastic for your wedding, and then as you look for that piece that will complete the vision, you cannot find it. You check rental vendors, Etsy, even a craft fair (yes, they still exist, and they’re pretty fun!) for this item or this look, and you start to loose a little piece of your soul and the dream die a little with every email and phone call that says “Sorry, we don’t have anything like that”. It is at this time that you’ll find yourself pulling into Michael’s or Lowe’s or Hobby Lobby, and it’s at this point that you can cross another thing off the Unspoken Wedding Bucket List:

Craft for the Wedding.

And crafting for you wedding can go generally in one of two ways; it will either be a total success, come together with a few tweaks here and there to really make it yours, or it can be a total and utter failure. There’s no in-between, unfortunately, on this one.

So, I thought to share with y’all this week my favorite DIYs and crafts folks have done for their weddings, (with links to the creator’s instructions, if you’re so inclined as to make it your own for your wedding) as well as share with you some things I would recommend you leave to the pros and knowledgeable vendors.

Do Try to DIY: Ceremony Arch or Backdrop

Oftentimes when you’re getting married outside, you need or want a little something extra to ground the space and formerly say “This is where we’re exchanging vows”. I love how folks make crosses and arbors out of wood, like the two below, but also check out this macramé DIY from Chelsea Sadler on Youtube, as well as this PVC-pipe turned metal (with a the perfect touch of floral accents). I would make sure your decorator, whether they are a professional or a friend or family member, get comprehensive instructions on how to assemble Day-Of so you’re not worrying or stressing about it while you should be enjoying your day.

Do NOT Try to DIY: Wedding Invitations

With a wide array of vendors, both large (such as Minted or Basic Invite) and small (like The little Blue Chair, Invitobella, and The Keeping Room), it is rather unnecessary to create your own wedding stationary. Now, it might be less expensive initially to create your own, but factoring in your time and the money for the materials, it ends up being more expensive to do it yourself when you want something a little bit more elaborate than a digitally printed invitation.

Do Try to DIY: Centerpiece and Vases

One of the neatest trends that I’m seeing is using alternative compotes and vases as the base of wedding centerpieces, like wooden planter boxes (like this one from A Practical Wedding) or antique serving bowls like this one from Anita Widder. If antiques or going to rustic route aren’t your vibe, check out a school supplier for test tubes and a rack, spray paint it or use Rub-n-Buff for the desired color, and boom: an edgy centerpiece you can fill with stems, or use in table length garlands to add height! You can also check out my previous post on making your own mercury glass centerpieces and candle holders.

Do NOT Try to DIY: Floral Arrangements

There’s big difference between making the containers in which your centerpieces will be in, and then doing the floral for it. I say that DIYing your floral arrangements is something you shouldn’t do mostly because of the stress associated with them; making sure flowers get there on time, carving out the time between rehearsal and being with friends and family in order to do it, as well as making sure that the arrangements get to the venue on your wedding day. Trust me when I say that the stress is simply not worth it when you should be having a stress-free and relaxing day.

Do Try to DIY: Signage

Not only is it incredibly trendy to have various signage around your event space, but it’s also a practical way to inform guests of the timeline, menus, and where things are located. Whether you do a large, handlettered backdrop (like the one below we did for a styled shoot) or make up a sign in Photoshop or Publisher and have it printed at Fedex, signage is a quick and simple way to add a little lagniappe and personality to your wedding décor. With a variety of frames available at your favorite craft store or thrift shop (where you can use spray or chalk paint or Rub-n-Buff to change the look of it), or if you’d prefer to have Home Depot or Lowe’s trim some wood and stain it to your tastes, the possibilities and options are endless!

Do NOT Try to DIY: Setting Up and Decorating Your Wedding Yourself

Wanting to make sure all the blood, sweat, tears, and trips to and from Hobby Lobby were not done in vain is a feeling many can relate to. However, when you look back on your wedding day, would you rather be smiling because of happy memories shared that morning being with your bridesmaids getting ready, or lament on the stress of making sure all the tables are set before heading to your hair and makeup appointment? Whether you have a coordinator or planner, or delegate decorating to friends and family, making sure you enjoy your day and not worry or be pressed for time while setting up for your wedding should be the most important considerations when examining your wedding time timeline and how you want your wedding day to go. My strongest recommendation will always be to make sure that whoever is setting up and decorating know your vision and knows exactly what you want and how you want it.

Do you have any DIY’s or crafts you’ve been thinking about? Or maybe tried and loved before? Please share! I love learning new things, especially if I can in turn use it or share it with another bride!

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

It's Not a Hustle

Randi Fracassi

Being a small business owner is not a hustle. It’s not a side gig, or extra money. It’s not just something to do for fun (though I do enjoy it immensely), or whenever I feel like it. It’s not a hobby or a fleeting interest or trend, and it’s something I don’t play around with whenever the urge strikes me.

What a lot of people see is strictly Day Of, or at meetings, where I’m calm, cool, and collected, a figure with an assistant in understated clothes maneuvering about, occasionally talking to the bride and groom, and oftentimes cutting a delicious cake. They don’t see the hours talking to the venue coordinator about the placement of said cake and staging tables (often taking measurements and playing around with graph paper when I get home to make sure everything is perfect), the emails and phone calls exchanged between the photographer, hair and make up stylist, and transportation company to make sure times are exact and on point, or the time it takes to listen to twenty covers of the same song to get the exact pace and style to walk down the aisle to.

Besides the actual planning part, which my logistics and detail oriented mind is obsessed with, comes the less fun (well, actually, it is pretty fun when you realize the impact it has to make more of those site and vendor visits happen), is the actual running of a business. There’s annual and quarterly reports due to the Federal and State governments, taxes and licensing, making sure your business insurance is up to date and covers you in the event of a guest assaults you (yep…it’s happened). It’s putting the most up-to-date marketing and media tactics in place to garner the attention of potential clients, and figuring out how to turn those potentials into actuals. Alongside all of this, is making sure payments are received, clients and vendors are met with, blogging is done, and life is lived…

I often state that planning an event starts at 38 hours of work. Eh, yeah, just under one average work week here in America. Mind you though, that’s one event. If we took one event, that 38 hours, and added it to the secretarial and assistant work, the marketing and public relationship departments, accounting and financial duties, we’re looking at nearly 160 hours (that one event included).

Now let’s add anywhere from 10-20 events a year.

6,810 hours a year. Minimum.

Just under 130 hours a week. Minimum.

No holiday breaks, no vacations, no quit everything and have a personal day. No personal leave.

Broken down to a daily basis, you’re looking at 5 hours each day left over to sleep, socialize with friends, and have family time.

This love for that moment when my bride and groom look at each other right after they got married, or the look on a child’s face when they see their party, or the way an elderly couple hold hands as they’re surrounded by friends and family, that’s what drives the love, the passion. The care for this business. The 130 hours a week talking to people, doing floor plans while listening to business podcasts, organizing an Instagram to be cohesive and appealing, working more so that you can go to a conference to learn how to work smarter, drives this planner. That love drives this business.

So no, wedding and event planning is not a side hustle, it’s not a gig. It’s not a hobby. It’s a passion and a true love, a career that my soul is married to for all time. My small business is an extension of myself in all of the best ways, combining everything good and bad, making me want to be better as a person and as a entrepreneur. It may fail, yes, there’s a chance, but with the drive and dedication to make sure that this part of me that I hold and love so dearly there is no way that failure can happen.

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

How to Create a Styled Wedding, No Matter the Budget

Randi Fracassi

You’re inundated on Pinterest, at bridal shows, and through Instagram of lush flowers and glittering tablecloths, or of visions containing farmhouse tables with string and candlelight. Some of these weddings are 100% real, while others are stylized to show how you can pull different design elements together to create a cohesive look. And while some of these ideas and inspiration can be out of budget (say, cascading peonies from candelabras in the fall, when they’re at their most expensive), you can without a doubt be just as skilled yourself in creating a cohesive and flawless design, and having your budgetary cake too.

1)      Start with your venue, and then the time of year. Your venue is going to act as the canvas for the rest of your wedding, and whether your using print outs of images and putting into a binder or using Pinterest, always start with a few images of your venue to start giving you a feel of what the setting of your wedding will be like. In Louisiana, the weather can play a huge factor into the formality and style of an event, so making sure you keep a track on what the averages for the time of year you’ll be married at (and if you can, the temperature for the time of day) will help in the long run. This will help with formality of guests and the bridal party’s attire too!

2)      If you can get a fabric swatch, get it! How a dress or linens look online can be completely different in person, especially if you’re looking to combine colors and tones. Obtaining swatches and samples of what you can potentially have is critical, and well worth the couple of  dollars to get in order to achieve the look you want (and it’s always great to have some on hand for vendor appointments).

3)      Make sure to look at vendors, and save samples of their work. Having a few samples of your vendor’s work is important, not only in having to assess who you would to have, but knowing that they have done the style you’re looking to achieve in the past. Examples of a photographer’s editing style, the different styles of a stationer, a planner’s published works, or having examples of menus (or what the food will look like) from a prospective caterer can all reflect on the overall look of your wedding.

4)      Be sure to also have floor plan options (like if you prefer round tables or rectangle, where buffets will be, etc), different lighting, and poses you would like for your photos. The little things will add up and can make a big impact on the overall look of your wedding. Also include pictures of how you would like your groom and his party to look, and where they can get their attire from.

5)      Include all parts relating to your wedding day. Often on wedding boards you’ll see dresses, hair styles, flowers, and how to break down budgets, and rarely will you find readings, prayers, or timelines you can follow or build off of. Include that in your materials, because the timing of when events take place will effect set up, breakdown, the hours of photography and videography, and can further tailored around how long you have your venue.

Want to see a board showcasing all these elements, and give you a starting point to curating? Check out our sample Louisiana Saturday Night | A Curated Look on Pinterest. We created this board specifically in how to show clients what it means to have a cohesive, final look, and make sure of such boards when working to create customized events. If you would like your own board or want help styling, feel free to contact us! We’d love to help!

Happy planning,

Randi

How to Have a Child-free Wedding and Not Loose Friends (or Your Mind)

Randi Fracassi

“I love kids, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see the point in paying $40 for a plate of food that they won’t even eat.”

“I just want my guests to enjoy themselves, and not be worried about their kids!”

“There’s going to be alcohol, and I’d rather not have children be in that environment. How to I ask for the kids to stay home?”

Asking about how to pull off a child-free wedding is one of the most common questions I get as a planner. If it’s fair to guests to ask that they keep the kids home, how to word it on an invitation, or what to do if so-and-so says they won’t come if their kid isn’t allowed. Because it’s such a grey area relating to wedding planning, I hope this little guide helps you make this part of planning clear-cut, and helps keep your sanity through the process!

One of the first things you need to do when you decide to have a child-free wedding is to make sure that those closest that have children to you are informed. They will assume one way or another, but it is always better to tell someone in person the correct information beforehand so that they can make arrangements rather than to spring it upon them last minute, and cause a headache for you. In the event that someone is upset (and is vocal) about the fact you’re not allowing children, stick to your guns and reasoning, but do not feel that you have to explain yourself beyond “We just don’t want children at the wedding”.

Once the important parties are informed, be conscious of how to word it on your invitations and all references guests will use (like websites). The best way to do is on a details card or at the bottom of your invitation, with the wording “Adult reception to follow the ceremony”. Be sure to word this based on the formality of your wedding as well to keep the style consistent (talk to your paper goods vendor about suggestions and recommendations as well). If you feel that it won't capture attention and inform guests enough, or even if attendees include their children on the RSVP, do not hesitate to call them and let them know of the situation.

Invitation by  Invitations by Ajalon

Invitation by Invitations by Ajalon

Now, what do you do if…

You have conflicts with parents who have a newborn or small children that they don’t feel comfortable leaving alone. To be honest, there’s not a whole lot you can do; you either stick to the rule no children allowed, or start making exceptions to that rule (and risk having children at your wedding). You must leave the decision up to them, regardless of how important they may mean to you and to have them there. If they feel the same way about your friendship, then I think they can compromise on having an adult night out to celebrate and leave the baby at home.

You experience issues from individuals who are paying for the wedding. This can be a delicate subject, as you want what you want, but you feel obligated to follow the rules or wants of those who are contributing financially to the wedding. These individuals would be the first I would talk to and bring up the idea of a child free wedding. I recommend telling them of costs associated, crying, and the risk associated with drinking adults. If they suggest hiring a sitter or two for the reception to take care of children, then the whole game plan has changed, and will be a totally separate scenario (and logistics regarding liability, insurance, background checks…).

People who are important to you and your fiancé, but aren’t contributing financially. I would say approach these folks the same way as you would with Parents of Newborns, as they both require the same stick-to-your reasons. If they are contributing to the guest list count though, ask bluntly if they would like to contribute towards anything else. I would tactfully remind them that you are managing a wedding, looking at it from all angles, and really would just like to enjoy the day without children.

The aforementioned advice may sound a little harsh, yes, even to myself as I write this out. But the fact of the matter is that children may be an additional cost you don’t want, potentially endanger them if parents over indulge at your wedding, and when you want everyone to be present and involved during the ceremony and reception otherwise occupy them. I love having family and friends together to celebrate and seeing children present at weddings, but more often than not, they do take the focus away from being present and enjoying the wedding day, and worrying about all the What If’s.

Now, if despite all of this, children do still end up at your wedding, my biggest piece of advice is to breathe and let it go. There is nothing you can do at that time to change it, except to make sure they are acknowledged as guests at your wedding.  They will (mostly) enjoy being there, hopefully won’t cause a scene, and the parents will know immediately the faux pas they made when they notice other children aren’t present. Overall, don’t stress over it. There are other more important things that should have your attention that day (like the look on your new spouse’s face when they see you for the first time, or the tears and laughter you’re sharing with your party).

Do you struggle with making these kinds of decisions, or maybe have a unique situation? Feel free to write about it in the comments below, I would love to help and offer advice on how to resolve them!

Happy planning,

Randi

Plan with Me: Picking Your Wedding Venue

Randi Fracassi

Picking your wedding venue is one of the first items you should cross off you wedding planning list (you can see the list we made here!). But how does one go about selecting a venue? What factors go into the decision? What should you focus on when looking and touring? Let me tell you here in this quick guide.

First, look at what time of year you want to get married. In South Louisiana, the most popular months to get married are from late January to April, and then again in October and November. The biggest tip to follow when booking and touring venues is to make sure it’s not during a large sports event, because believe it or not, the LSU/Alabama football game will upstage your wedding, especially if you have a lot of football fans.

Another reason to assess what time of year you want your wedding is to see what venues have air conditioning and heat. For example, I would not recommend a couple to get married at the LSU Botanical Gardens in July as their facilities are not air conditioned, and you would have to bring in fans to keep your guests cool. I would also ask about backup generators and what rain plans they have (which is a good idea to ask regardless of the time of year, because you never know with Louisiana weather). Other things to take note of and ask about would be parking, travel to and from local hotels (especially if you have a lot of out of town guests), and if there is a preferred vendor list that the venue exclusively works with.

Assessing the style of wedding you want will also go a long way in what kind of venue you will be needing. Like the rustic, but more Joanna Gaines than Pioneer Woman? Check out the White Magnolia, which lends itself to be more formal than casual. Options like the Berry Barn or the Cedar Post Barn are certainly more casual venues.  More classic and formal venues to look at would include The Hilton Hotel or the Watermark Hotel, both in Downtown Baton Rouge. For that Old South, grand Plantation aesthetic you cannot go wrong with Nottoway Planation and Resort or White Oak Planation, as well as the numerous historic homes and mansions that are in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

White Oak Plantation's gorgeous front, photographed by  Rachel Erin Photography

White Oak Plantation's gorgeous front, photographed by Rachel Erin Photography

The White Magnolia, photo by  Angela Janette Photography

The White Magnolia, photo by Angela Janette Photography

The HIlton, Downtown Baton Rouge

The HIlton, Downtown Baton Rouge

Besides the appearance of the venue, ask yourself how do you want your guests to dress and the level of formality? Some venues tend to lend themselves to be more black tie appropriate rather than business casual or summer cocktail, so as your researching options I would keep apparel in mind.

One of the best tips though in regards to picking a venue: be realistic of what would fit your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask about pricing before going for a tour, and be upfront with what your budget is when talking to prospective venues. I like to think of it in terms of wedding dress shopping: don’t go trying on things if you know they are out of budget, and don’t convince yourself that you can trim other parts of your budget to accommodate another item.  It is always better to err on the side of caution when you are looking at a part of your wedding that will eat up a large portion of your budget.

Lastly, however, is my biggest and most important word of advice in regards to not just your venue, but your wedding…stay true to yourself and who you are as a couple. Being unhappy with your venue can cause a damper on every aspect of your wedding, and create stress and unhappiness throughout the planning process because you went with something that you didn’t quite love. Choose with care and consideration; don’t just pick a venue because it’s cheaper, but know that you’re investing in your wedding experience and setting a precedent for the rest of your planning.

Friends, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out! I’d be happy to lend you some advice in regards of what to do or what to look for when selecting your venue for the big day!

Happy planning,

Randi

Bridesmaid 101: Things You Should Know Going In

Randi Fracassi

Being a bridesmaid is exciting and an honor -- the bride picked you, whether you be the groom's sister, her sister, a cousin, or one of her closest friends, you get the privilege to stand beside her and her fiance on their wedding day to help celebrate their marriage. With being asked to be a bridesmaid though, and with your acceptance of becoming one, there are some things you need to know going in to this experience. 

The Time Obligation

You are expected to attend certain events as a bridesmaid (besides the wedding), including bridal showers, the bachelorette, and the rehearsal. Sometimes a bride will seek advice from her bridesmaids or ask for help in assembling centerpieces or stuffing invitations, and as a bridesmaid (if you're able to do so), it's considerate to help out. 

The Cost 

According to sources like Weddington Way and Bustle, the average cost of being a bridesmaid today is between $1,000 and $1,500. Not saying that all weddings will insist on a financial commitment that large, but when you break it down for an average $250 dress, $100 for a shower gift, $100 to go towards the MOH doing the bachelorette, $300 for traveling, $150 for hair and makeup...the expenses can add up quick. If you struggle with procuring funds, be honest to the bride about it and upfront. 

The Dress and How You Look

With the trend of having bridesmaids pick their own dress as long as it's a certain color and fabric, you have a pretty decent chance of ensuring that you get to wear a flattering dress (or not a dress!). The reality is however that the bride gets the final say on what you wear and how you are presented, as you will be heavily photographed that day. You must be conscious of this when shopping with her, or selecting your gown. Don't be afraid to ask if you can have wildly colored hair, exposed piercings or tattoos, or other requests, but the key phrase is "expect the worst, hope for the best".