Monday, December 28, 2015

One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila….less is more

As a wedding coordinator we always want to keep everything positive and lighthearted.  While we focus on the budget friendly alternatives, the special details to make the day flow better and offer advice to avoid certain situations.  Here’s the story several vendors and clients have asked about… what is the worst thing that has ever happened during a wedding?

“911 what’s your emergency?  Hi my name is Jennifer, and I’m the wedding coordinator and one of the property’s site managers and we have a guest that is laying on the ground unconscious due to alcohol consumption.”  This happened to me several years ago and I relive this moment every time one of my clients requests a full open bar with a company I’ve never worked with at their wedding.  The venue I worked for already had rules in place for no kegs & no doubles or shots to be poured at the bar due to a fight that had broken out during one of their first years being open.  As always, I had spoken with the catering staff and bartenders to remind them no doubles or shots were to be served throughout the evening.  It wasn’t until this incident did we learn that one of the bartenders had been serving a few gentleman double jack and cokes all night long but what the bartender didn’t know is ALL of those double jack and cokes were going to the same "favorite uncle" of the bride.  About three hours into the reception, I was asked for a trashcan and mop due to a guest might be getting sick.  Our staff quickly sprang into action retrieving cleaning supplies to invest the situation.  I can remember it like it was yesterday… I approached a large male (over 350 lbs) hunched over his seat with his head laying on the guest table.  I noticed he was covered in sweat and he seemed to be going in and out of consciousness.  Luckily, there were a few EMTs onsite and they quickly accessed the situation.  The family wanted to take him home so that wedding reception could continue.   As they began to move him, he collapsed onto the patio floor, they got him up once more and he collapsed again that’s when I quickly responded by letting the family know I was calling an Ambulance.  After fighting off a few if the family members (because they didn’t want to get into trouble or have him go to the hospital) I called 911.  The ambulance arrived and for the next 24 hours the favorite uncle spent Easter Sunday weekend in the hospital getting his stomach pumped to save his life.  He is doing well now, but after that moment there was no way to finish the event with a happy fairy tale ending.  That bride left in tears and her dream wedding was ruined because a vendor disrespected the venue’s rules and regulations. 

I vowed right there to use this as a life lesson and to never have another bride’s day ruined because of overserving.  That’s why I still have the portion in my contract that states no doubles or shots shall be served if liquor is present.  My contract states that I have final say in the bar and that I have the right to cut any guest off that may need it.  The biggest element in my contract states no vendor shall drink while preforming any services contracted for the event date.  Professional vendors should never drink while they are under contract.  They should remain focus at the task at hand, plus if anything was to go wrong, we as vendors are liable.  There are reasons why I require additional event insurance and encourage my couples to only hired professionally insured & certified vendors.  I also have distanced myself from venues and vendors that encouraging over drinking and/or create ways to keep my client happy (only allow beer and wine or have them hire professional companies like Bartending Unlimited at certain venues or working with certain vendors).

No one wants the belligerent and loud guest to overtake the dance floor without their shirt on or wants to request the removal of the intoxicated bridesmaid from trying to help the couple cut their cake.  There isn’t a venue site manager or catering staff that wants to clean up after a guest has vomited (if they even make it to the restroom).  Most venues will retain your full security deposit if vomiting occurs or if damages are caused by intoxicated guests.

As a wedding coordinator, I could write a book from the stories I’ve heard from venues, catering staff members and other coordinators from around the world.  We’ve found mini bottles at dry weddings (which scares me because we are not controlling the servings), I’ve found vomit under a guest table before, I’ve even heard when the catering staff removed table linens they found a gentleman asleep under a table... One of my consulting friends has seen her bride carried out because she could no longer walk.  No couple wants to spend their honeymoon hungover.  Some people may think these stories are funny and laugh but remember the amount to time and money spent planning this amazing day ruined by a few guests.  Now most of these stories come from my younger years of event planning but every year we as professionals learn more and more.  And now more than ever, I surround myself with professionals that have the same beliefs and passion to create memories to last a lifetime without jeopardizing our client’s well-being.    We would like to offer a few tips and advice to help you control your guests and still have fun!

·         Hire 1 professional bartender per every 70 guests when only beer and wine is being served.  Hire 2 per 70 guests if liquor is present.  No one wants to wait for alcohol and these professionals are trained to count drinks and to spring into action if someone isn’t used to drinking on a hot summer afternoon.

·         Offer several fun beverage stations throughout the day.  Bring snacks and a cooler of water, Gatorade, juices and sodas for your wedding party as you get ready.  Have a separate cooler of beverages and snacks for all of your vendors to have access as they are setting up for your event.  Offer bins of bottled water during pre-ceremony photos for wedding party and family members.  Have your catering staff offer lemonade or at least ice water during outdoor ceremonies (this allows your guests to hydrate prior to your cocktail hour).  Make sure to have non-alcoholic beverage (lemonade or punch) stations during cocktail hour (some “drop off” catering companies only supply enough tea for the meal).  Offer coffee and hot chocolate during cooler months with cake.  Another great and easy party favor is to offer water bottles with your monogram for guests to take as they leave (guests will appreciate the rehydration on the way to the hotel or home). 

·         Don’t pre-game with your wedding party.  I know it sounds like fun to drink the night prior or all day with family and friends but your wedding day should be looked at as marathon not a sprint.  The ceremony is legal binding contract that is a BEAUTIFUL emotional moment between two people and shouldn’t be looked at lightly.  Your wedding party shouldn’t “ping-pong” down the aisle or be the “life of the party” all night, because if they are either of those they are probably not going to see the end of the event.  Your wedding party should set an example by NOT walking around with a drink in each hand.  They are there to help make memories with you not take the spotlight off of you.  They should be the ones staying after to help your parents load gifts and personal belongings.

·         Limit alcohol selections at the bar or if you are going to offer a signature drink; have your bartenders pre-make & LABEL contains XYZ alcohol.  This way your guests won’t see liquor bottles and ask for other mixed drinks.  Make cute signs for the bar letting your guests know what their selections are and/or types of wine, beer and names of signature drinks.  Signature drinks will have your guests talking so be creative!

·         Offer more than just peanuts at your cocktail hour.  Offer 2-3 passed hors d’oeuvres while you are busy taking photos with family and the wedding party (make sure those get to them too).  Save the fruit and cheese display for later in the evening and serve it with the cake/dessert.  Even better, offer late night snacks (mini grilled cheese, sliders, or late night breakfast bar) because everyone is always hungry after a night of partying.

·         Provide a shuttle service to and from the hotel you have room blocks.  14 passenger vans are not that expensive and your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

·         Provide a picture frame in each restroom with local taxi cab and/or safe ride contact information.  Guests can take the information discretely.

Unfortunately, alcohol will effect each and every one of your guests differently.   It will depend on if they are a man or a woman, if they drink on regular basis, their age and health along with their family history.  Are you going to know each of your guests’ drinking habits…NO but you can help control the evening by following the above tips and have strong conversations with all of your vendors and venue to let them know the expectations of the type of event you want to host.  Remember you are hiring each of them, so make sure they have a clear idea of their job description and your anticipations.

Remember although it’s a private party, the bartending and catering staff has the right to card/ID each and every guest to insure proper drinking age.  They have the right to choose not to serve any guest that appears to be over intoxicated.  Beware of local rules and regulations on cash bars.  We recommend speaking with Contonna Peterson with Bartending Unlimited about any questions, comments, concerns involving alcohol.  ALE laws requires all alcohol to stop being served 30 minutes prior to an establishment from closing (end of your event or your exit).   We encourage to use this rule for private parties also to allow your guests to know the party is winding down and the bar is closed.

Although I am a certified mixologist and have been a professional bartender for over 15 years, I am not an expert on the subject but I am very experienced in the subject matter.  I wanted to share my story not only to my clients but to my students and vendor industry friends.  I am passionate about event planning and coordinating weddings and I am completely aware that every weekend is a blessing but I am also always on my “A GAME” watching an average of 150 guests because my clients trusted me to watch over their family and friends and to keep them safe.  I am responsible for each guest, vendor and my staff during an event.  So for the vendors and clients that think my rules are harsh… safety first because I can’t bring back a loved one from an accident.  I try and teach my students and staff to stand up for their beliefs because at some point and time they will be questioned; and it’s how they handle that situation that will show their true character.   Professional vendors will applauded & request to work with them again and clients will thank them because they did the job they were hired to do.  Be safe and follow our Facebook Fanpage to see fun signature drinks and free tips of the day to create memories that will last a lifetime.  #CHEERS

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Timing is Everything

Every planner, coordinator and/or vendor has their own way of doing things the most important thing is that you have one timeline to keep everyone on the same page throughout the day. There are several components and we highly encouraging sharing the overall details with everyone.  Give vendors a runsheet which is an overview early in the event planning to let everyone know what you are thinking.  Having good communication early on will allow plenty of time for each vendor to offer their updates and details to create a smooth stress-free day for you.  Alex Pegg photo

Try your best to get plenty of sleep every night the week of your wedding because
dark circles under your eyes are not guests we want to attend your wedding.  Try to get to bed early the night prior to your wedding and awake early enough to shower and eat a hearty breakfast.  It’s going to be a long day so think of your day as a marathon not a sprint.  Same goes with alcohol, if you are wanting all members of your wedding party to be there at the end of your night and in all of your photos I highly recommend to limit the amount of alcohol and how early you start popping bottles.  Not everyone is used to open bars and full days of activities from sun up to way past sun down.  Free to enjoy a mimosa with the girls while getting ready or a beer with the guys at lunch…but ONE is enough prior to the moment you say I DO.  Remember it’s a legal contract you are committing yourselves to during the ceremony and remember all of the time and money you spent planning this special day.  Don’t have it ruin by an out of line wedding party member or you, yourself take it too far too fast.  Waterhouse Studios photos

You’re awake, showered and ready to take on the day…what’s next?  Your ceremony
time will determine what time you need to start the transformation.  Don’t forget, the earlier the ceremony means the earlier you start getting ready.  You should start your hair and make-up about 6 hours prior to your ceremony start time.  I know that sounds crazy but here are a few tips:

·         Make-up should be done first (on a clean face)

·         Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour for make-up just in case anything goes wrong

·         Give at least 30 minutes per bridal party member, mother and/or grandmother for make-up (again most are not used to the extra level needed for photos so they may need to make a few changes)

·         Hair should be done second (speak to your hair stylist about washing it the morning of or not)

·         Typically, you want to give yourself 1 ½ hours to 2 hours to create a hair masterpiece (more or less depending on style and length)

·         We recommend giving 45 minutes to an hour per wedding party member, mother and/or grandmother for hair (depending on their style and length)

·         Make sure to have snacks and/or lunch delivered to both the bridal suite for you and your girls and back at the reception area for your vendors working all day.   Both will truly appreciate your kindness of drinks and refueling for the long day

·         Unless your girls are wearing cute clothes (matching shirts or pjs) I recommend they get ready before you put your dress on.  That way they look cute in the background of all of those photos too

·         Don’t forget to include time for traveling to your venue if you are not getting ready onsite Waterhouse Studios photos

We recommend arriving to your ceremony site two hours prior to get dressed for pre-
wedding ceremony photos.  Most guests will start arriving at church weddings about an hour prior to ceremony and to all other venues they typically arrive about thirty minutes.  If you are getting married at a church make sure to ask will grandparents start walking in to be seated at ceremony start time or will that start ten minutes early with you walking at ceremony start time.  That is a key question to ask about timing, photos, and music.  The only other reminder we have for you is the earlier your ceremony start time begins, the earlier your reception will end.  Majority of Southern receptions in our area are between three and five hours long depending on alcohol, food and entertainment.  When you are choosing your ceremony start time, ask yourself a few questions:

·         What kind of reception do you want?

·         Is there travel time between ceremony location and reception location?

·         What kind of food do you want to serve?

·         Are you serving alcohol, and what kind?

·         Do you want to leave when it’s dark outside (sparkler or glow stick exit)?

·         What time is daylight savings time or sunset and will that effect my timeline?

All of those questions will determine the details of your reception’s timeline.  The most important take away from this entire blog post really isn’t the timeline itself but if you noticed there is a lot to be done the day of your wedding and not one time did it say YOU, YOUR MOM or wedding party run to the venue to set up decorations and details of the day.  Hire professionals on this ONE day so that you can truly enjoy being pampered.  By hiring a professional planner/coordinator we typically can save you money on all of the vendors as a whole (if you book us first) to allow in you budget to hire them and their staff to set up all of the items you worked hard on creating for your special day.  So sit back and relax and take in every minute of your special day…because it’s going to be a long one.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Spooktacular Wedding

From the moment I met Nicole, I knew it was going to a unique experience and a lot of fun.  See Nicole’s favorite holiday and time of year is Halloween.  One of Nicole’s first questions were: “will your staff get into character and dress up in costumes too?”  Which was ironic because that was going to be my first question also.  I wanted to know how much “Halloween” was going to be a at her wedding because the last October 31st wedding I did several years ago didn’t allow children, costumes and colors were pale blue and gold (which were pretty but not Halloween).   We quickly began planning for fun centerpieces and ways to incorporate the Halloween theme without going cheesy. 
 *Our staff as the "Blacked Eyed Peas"

All year long we planned for a night reception at a wedding venue with full wedding flare…but the wedding part started to take over the plans and Nicole really wanted her day to be about the two of them and celebrating their love for one another.  We put the brakes on all wedding planning for a few months, took some time to regroup and focus on the items that were important to them…and that’s really when everything fell into place.  I received an email saying…Jenn, have you ever done a wedding at a bar and would you?  We are considering changing venues, times and the overall feel of our event are you in? 

Without any hesitation…my response was ABSOLUTELY!  I named my company Knot Your Average Events for a reason…and this is one of them.  While I LOVE tradition; I REALLY LOVE out of the box. 

So a few months out from their date, we pretty much had to cancel all of the fabulous vendors (unfortunately due to the new venue) to give them the vision of a true celebration. We choose Jake’s Billiards because it was one of the coupe’s favorite places to hang out with friends, grab lunch and it felt like home because of the staff.  Jake’s Billiards had hosted one wedding reception once before but never the full ceremony and reception, but they were up for the challenge. 
Since Jake’s is a full restaurant (AMAZING FOOD), they handled all of our food, beverage and bar needs including the couple’s 2 signature drinks.  Which they ordered black vodka just for Nicole’s Black Magic signature drink. We created a limited menu for guest to order during the cocktail hour.   
Their staff was amazing to work with and super helpful when it came to set-up and catering.   The best part and huge money saver was décor.  Since Jake’s had planned for a Halloween Bash later that evening, they had already decorated the entire restaurant in spider webs, goblins, and other Halloween spirits. Nicole created the centerpieces on her own and our staff placed them out while she got dressed.

The ceremony took place out on their front patio and we roped off half of the restaurant for a private function during the lunch hours.  Since Jake’s has a state of the art Juke Box, we were able to program all of their preferred Halloween music and set special dances when needed.  Once again their staff wore several hats throughout the event but went with the flow and created an experience the guests are still talking about. 

Seeing Nicole’s face light up because her day truly became about them and her vision had played out smoothly made my day!  I know she was stressed going into her event because of all of the last minute changes but I kept reminding her that it all would happen the way it was supposed to and that she just had to trust us in getting it all taken care of… Honestly it did.  Maybe even better than we had even planned. 
Guests arrived in full costume, they even had a “witch” perform the ceremony and guests kicked off the Halloween day surrounded by love, friends and family. They still had a first touch, cocktail hour with photos, introductions into first dances, an awesome lunch followed by anniversary dance, toast and cake cutting…Plus no HALLOWEEN WEDDING would be complete without me and a few of the ushers breaking out “THRILLER.”  (Only wish we would have gotten that on video…it was awesome!)  I couldn’t have asked for a brunch wedding to go smoother.  Seeing Steve look at Nicole knowing they had created their magical day will be one of those moments I’ll never forget.  We are blessed to get to work with amazing couples like Steve & Nicole.  We wish them a lifetime of happiness and one D*** GOOD MARRIAGE (sorry for the language but it’s inside joke between Nicole and I; we truly become family on this day).  We look forward to the next out of the box event...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Home is Where the Heart Is

Some people dream of getting married in their backyard whether because it’s their
childhood home or their forever home.  However hosting a backyard wedding is a lot more intense than your normal backyard BBQ or family get together. No matter if you are planning an event for 50 people or 200 in your home, I highly recommend bringing in a planner/coordinator to “host” your event so that you can be a guest.   Most homes can’t host over 100 of your closest family and friends around your personal dining room table so that means you’ve gotta bring in the tables, chairs, linens along with a tent to host them from any potential weather contingency plans.  I’ve got over 13 years in tented wedding experience and bringing a full production to your backyard is almost on the scale of a destination wedding because everything had to be brought in for that one weekend. 

We typically like meeting with our backyard clients the first time away from their home to really look into their vision and needs.  Once we’ve confirmed the in-home event we will set up a site visit with our rental companies to start getting quotes for restroom trailers, generators, lighting,  tents, tables, chairs, linens, place settings, and dance floor.  You may consider getting some rentals from different companies to get the best deals on your needed items, however I recommend getting your “big ticket” items from one (tents, restrooms, tables & chairs) and the smaller items from another.  This will allow one company to deliver and set up a few days prior and then your smaller rentals can arrive the day of or before the event. 

Don’t forget you will need to bring in a lighting team to light the tents, parking and pathways.  Planning a wedding on the family farm?  You definitely want to light the

field where family and friends will be parking so they are safe walking in the dark.  Planning an event in the late evening hours and don’t think you need lighting?  Don’t’ forget about the clean-up, although your event is ending at sunset; you need to give your vendors light to make sure everything is properly cleaned and secured for overnight.  This means you will most likely need to bring in a generator to guarantee enough power for lighting, restrooms, heaters if chilly outside,  also for entertainment and catering needs. 

We always HIGHLY recommend home weddings with backyard events to bring in restroom trailers.  These are not your traditional “porta-johns,” they are usually air conditioned or heated and most have sinks and private stalls for both men and women.  Most homes can’t take 50-100 flushes per hour or their septic tanks take that much waste in that short period.  Nothing’s worse than a stopped up toilet or calling an emergency plumber during or after your event.  Just ask one of our past clients that didn’t adhere to our advice and we were scrambling to find towels to stop the toilet water from doing down the hallway. 
Are you a germaphob?  Do you like using public restrooms? What do you think your personal restroom is going to look like after 150 guests use your personal toilet for 4 hours straight?  Plus what do your cabinets, draws and closets look like?  Yep…people are going to open every door and cabinet just to be nosey. 

That brings me to my next issue with in home weddings and events…how much do you like your personal belongings and irreplaceable breakables?  If we have in home events we recommend a few things:

·         Organize and Clean your house from top to bottom

·         Simplify your layout (is there any furniture you can remove during the event to give more space for walkways and safety)

·         Lock up all valuables and breakables in one room

·         We also recommend keeping your house locked during the event.  Bring in restroom trailers and add a small 15x15 tent for vendors (catering & decorators) to work from

While this event will give you a reason to “spruce” up your landscape, some projects will need to planned a year out to give time for the vegetation to come in and look healthy.  Don’t forget to purchase new cushions and patio furniture for cocktail hour or for guests to use while waiting for ceremony to begin.   All landscape and painting projects should be completed at least 2 weeks prior to the event date. This allows time to cut grass and finish weeding flowerbeds the week prior to the event.  Note, if you are having a tent delivered and set up on Thursday, grass should be cut and weedeeted by Wednesday afternoon. 

Here’s a few other tips for planning an in-home event:

·         Provide more trashcans and know what you are doing to do with access trash and recyclables

·         Have you spoken with your neighbors?  Do they know about your upcoming event; were they even invited?

·         Know your city & state (and home owner association) rules and regulations in regards to parking, noise, tent location, etc

·         Speaking of parking, where will you put all of the cars?  Will you provide a shuttle service from an offsite location (hotel, church, shopping area, or recreation center)?

·         Look over your guest counts and  make sure you are handicap accessible to all of your guests that may need a little extra TLC

While you won’t need an ABC permit to serve a full bar we do highly encourage hiring
professional bartenders and have a last call thirty minutes prior to the end of the event to let all vendors and guests know the end time and allow them to clean up.  Although you have homeowner’s insurance, we still recommend taking out a one day event insurance.  This just protects you on another level.  You can never be too protected.  By having a team of professionals come in, set-up, host and tear down…you’ll get to be a guest that can sit back and relax or cut a rug on the dance floor.

If you thought having a wedding at a professional venue was difficult, try bringing one home. 
In home weddings typically end up costing more because you have you import all of the rentals and decorations whereas professional venues may already include those items. 
We personally LOVE in-home weddings but we want to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into if you are planning one.  Remember we offer FREE consultations to discuss these options.  Contact us today to learn more about what we can offer you and your family so you can be a guest during your home wedding.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Be Our Guest…

There’s a reason why we’re called Knot Your Average Events…we want you to be a guest at your event.  After seeing events from several different perspectives over the past 15 years, I’ve seen a lot.  I want to share a few stories why we’ve started this year to add as many assistants as we do because it goes way beyond planning and coordinating when you hire us.   We want to create an experience your guests will speak about for years to come. 

I started out in my career as a site manager for a venue and the things I saw during those years still amazes me to today.  I am all for saving money but when your family and friends can’t enjoy the day; that kind of defeats the purpose.  I can't count the number of times I would over hear the mother of the bride calling to cancel her hair and make-up because there was too much left to do at the ceremony or reception area. Then as guests start arriving they would slip away to the restroom trailer to change and freshen up.  Between the stresses of not getting everything completed, lack of food or exhausted from running nonstop that week and day of that the family and friends are never 100% present during the event.  If they are not tired for setting up, they are already thinking of the tear down and what needs to be done next. 
Our staff loves helping couples and families enjoy their day by arriving early, and if you bring in a few more of us; we’ll even set up all of the tables and chairs then place out linens and place settings along with folding napkins.  Not to mention setting out menu cards, place cards and party favors. You never estimate the amount of time it takes to add each level of detail to each table.  Are you thinking about having chair covers?  Add another 1-2 hours depending on the team you assemble to place each cover on them and then tie the sashes.  It’s those details that get overwhelming to families and create a shortness of time and if you attempted to save money by renting a venue for 8 hours that means you have about an hour and half do everything.  We bring in a small army with those venues because you want everything set up before your first guest arrives.

Once we have everything set up, our team kind of plays superman…we go from “Superman back to Clark Kent” to blend in with the wedding guests.  Our team will traditionally dress in the event colors and “radio up.”  (All of our staff wears radios with headsets so that we can communicate with one another from across the, between parking and greeters and to let vendors know guests are onsite and prepare for their arrival.)  If our clients hires our full team for an event we will do everything from greet guests in the parking lot, welcome them and open doors upon their arrival, informed the of location of restrooms, watch over gift tables and let guests know where the ceremony areas are for a wedding.  We know you may have family and friends as greeters but sometimes they will run late or get lost in a conversation with a family member they haven’t seen in a while.   We still recommend to have ushers seat guests and hostesses to hand out programs and bottled water if the setting allows.  But by us being there, we can insure the ceremony starts on time with guests in their seats waiting on your arrival.

If there is a ceremony involved at the event, we are busy behind the scene lighting candles, making sure the catering company has appetizers displayed or ready to be passed.  We check in with the bar staff to make sure they are ready for a wave of guests at the beginning of the cocktail hour.  We also try and prepare to meet the wedding party and family with cocktails and bottled water following the ceremony.  And if there is a separate DJ or Band for Cocktail Hour we try and make sure they are all ready for once the ceremony is completed.  We try to create a flow without any dead air.

Still questioning why you should bring in a full service guest experience to your event…let’s talk about the reception.  That’s where we really shine and sparkle!  From assisting guests to find their seats, pumping up the wedding party before introductions, to opening
doors for the grand entrance, we even take the wedding party’s flowers to place them back into water.  Since usually no one remembers how to bustle the dress, we also help with the bustling of the wedding dress.  We personally like to serve our couple once they return from a restroom break.   We think it’s really important for them to eat their first meal together as a married couple.  Then we make sure any elderly or disabled guests are served at their seats by our staff while our lead coordinator handles tables to go through food lines or food stations to prevent long snake lines and running out of food while in line.  This allows the professional catering companies to focus on presenting great hot food, full buffets and/or food stations, and walk around with beverage services for tea and water.  Remember you are creating a guest experience and you want your guests to feel like they are guests.  Be thoughtful of what they also sacrificed to attend your event.  An average wedding guest spends over $500 to attend your special day and an average budget in our area of Alamance County is $154 per person.  If they are taking off from work, got a babysitter, traveling, booking a hotel, purchase a new outfit and bring a gift; that all adds up quickly.  You should return the favor and treat them to a great meal and night of fun and entertainment. 
Other little things we’ve been known to do during receptions are set up candy buffets, set out cupcake and dessert displays, and prepare for cake cutting...What? Someone has to cut and serve the wedding cake?  Yes there is correct way to cut the cake to get the most slices out of it...have no fear... we do that to so you don't have to add the cake cutting fee to your catering bill. 

We really love the next part of what we do. Want a full dance floor but don’t know how to get that? Hire us!  We’ve got all kinds of tricks to fill the dance floor.  Don’t know the
fun participation dances that your guests are waiting to jump on the dance floor to do?  WE DO! And we love teaching couples, family and friends…Grandmas are our favorite still to this day. Some just want to learn so they can be a part of the party.  Once they are all a part of the party, which is all they will talk about around the water cooler on Monday at work.  Trust us, there are so many weddings we wish there was a video camera present to catch how much fun the guests had. 
We encourage more fun with photo booths and props. With the right group of guests, parties could go on all night although most around here last between 3-5 hours max (depending on time of day, music and alcohol).  However, not every guest stays from start to finish and most of the time they may not get to tell the couple goodbye, have no fear our staff are strategically placed to be spread out in order to tell guests goodbye, thank you for coming and safe travels home.  Our goal is to welcome each guests as if they were our own family coming, make sure each one has a great experience and that someone thanks them from coming before they leave.

While the party is whining down, we’re usually blowing out candles (so that the wax doesn’t spill on the tablecloths when we are breaking down), and prepping for your exit. 
You usually don’t want to set out your exit items until it’s time to go.  However, we encourage signs letting guests know what’s going on and where everything is located.   So you have to think about who is going to unwrap sparklers, set out sand buckets,  who’s going to hand out those exit items (bubbles, sparklers, ribbon wands, glow sticks, etc.), and the biggest part….who’s going to explain the exit to your guests to insure your receive your security deposit afterwards. 

As the smoke from the sparklers settle and your parents hug the final guests as they
depart, my team of “magic elves” (as they’ve been called) break down and pack up centerpieces, check out vendors as they leave, and help pack family and friends’ cars of gifts and décor items.  We typically treat each venue as if it was our own by going room to room checking for anything left, pick up trash, sweep floors and make sure our clients get all of their security deposit if possible. 

I bet you thought that is where we ended our relationship…we hope not!  We hope it’s just the beginning.  We’ve been specializing in Caribbean Honeymoons with Sandals Resorts and Beaches Family vacations.  We hope you allow up to plan the celebration of your “I DO’s” too!  Allow us to help plan you Caribbean honeymoon, anniversary trip and when the kids come…allow us to plan your first of many amazing Sesame Street characters meet and greet family vacations too~

Friday, November 13, 2015

Love at First Sight

                 When it comes to your wedding day, the biggest request we hear over and over again is: “we would like to spend as much time with our family and friends as possible and not feel rushed throughout the day.”  Our number one response is: “have you heard about first look photo sessions?”  For those of you that may not have ever heard of these…we think they are amazing.  Usually we will set our couple up to see one another prior to the ceremony.  This allows to take a huge portion of photos prior to the ceremony and more time with the majority of your guests after the wedding ceremony.  Plus, you are marrying your best friend right?  That probably means you definitely want to spend more time with them.  Why wait all day to see them? 

Are you worried you want have the same feeling seeing one another for the first time at opposite ends of the aisle?  Don’t worry, you will!  There is something magical that happens at that moment.  Plus by doing the first look prior to the ceremony in a private area only involving the couple, photographers and videographers.  I truly believe this is a moment just for the couple.  I typically set it up, fluff the dress (if necessary) and walk away.  Once I’m out of the frame, they can share a few minutes taking the day in.  I personally think this is one of the biggest stress relievers because you already know the other person is there, the excitement of the day can be settled and you can spend a few moments alone together.  Because it may one of the few minutes you two get to do that, once the day is in full motion everyone is going to be demanding your attention. 

Traditionally here is the list of photos (short list)

·         Bride alone, then bride with bridal party (for same sex couples one usually goes before the other) if they don’t see one another prior to ceremony…then with parents & siblings

·         Groom alone, then with groomsmen, then with bridal party, following his parents and siblings and ushers

·         Following ceremony the couple and their parents & grandparents, with parents then add siblings, don’t forget the extended family and  other important guests (greeters, program attendants, readers, soloists etc.)

·         After all of those photos then it’s the full wedding party, followed by bride and groomsmen

·         Then finally you may have 5-20 minutes of time for photos for the two of you before introductions (remember most cocktail hours should only be 45 minutes to an hour max)

What if I told you could take all of those photos but spend more time with your loved ones?  It’s okay to break some traditions and see one another before you say I do!  Take thirty minutes of photos with one another, then add your wedding party.  You can take a ton of fun and formal photos all over your venue prior to guests arriving.  Then go ahead and take photos with your parents and siblings if you can.  Once that’s done plan to have a fruit and cheese tray with crackers for everyone to take a break together and snack on before the ceremony.  This gives you even more time with your family and friends while all of your guests arrive.  This is another reason why I encourage both ushers and groomsmen.   Once the ceremony is complete you can snap a few quick group photos with extend family members and grandparents.  Then you can take 10 more minutes and take a few photos of your wedding glow while guests find their seats back at the reception.  At the end of the day you’ll have even more photos than you ever thought you would have and you would have spent most of your day with your loved ones.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that really what it’s all about?  We think so.  
(Photo credit: Michelle Robinson Photography)