Friday, January 18, 2019

Growing Pains Hurt...but TOTALLY Worth It!

They say growing pains are the hardest… honestly they are the SCAREST!!! I knew stepping out of my comfort zone and “safe” more budget friendly pricing would hurt at first but “pain is beauty” right?  Beauty rises from Ashes… Right?  As I fully commit to my decision to stand behind our value and our team’s worth, I trust GOD will provide not only the couples that are an incredible fit for our brand, style and vision as we “grow” into the new year… but will allow me to educate others while doing so.  It’s scary stepping down from 40+ weddings a year to twenty…. And in two years we’ll only be doing 5 or 10 events a year… while we focus on education, guest speaking and developing a program for event planners… but there’s enough business for us all and I feel in my heart it’s time that I charge my value of all of my education and credentials I bring to the table (because technically we bring the table too if needed)… 

here’s why I stand out as a leading expert in the wedding & event industry:

·         Recreation Parks & Tourism Degree from UNCG (currently UNCG Graduate Student)

·         Currently working with UNCG to create a program for private event planners (ultimate goal is to write a textbook and teach up and coming planners around the world)

·         Accredited & Certified Professional Planner w/ the Associated Bridal Consultants

·         1 of 57 MASTER Wedding Planners in the World

·         2013-2016 Co-Director of the Local NC Triad ABC Chapter & 2017-2019 ABC NC State Coordinator

·         Certified Beverly Clark Event Planner

·         Certified Wedding Planner with The Bridal Society          

·         Certified Silver Level Sandals Wedding & Honeymoon Travel Specialist

·         Certified Trainer & Professional Bartender with Brinker International (retiring after 14 years)

·         Executive Board Member of the Triad Bridal Association

·         Exclusive Triad Luncheon Coordinator for the Perfect Wedding Guide of NC 2010-14

·         Award Winning and Published Event Planner

·         Co-Author of Planners Unplugged Book

·         Part-Time Professor at UNCG & ACC

·         Mixologist from the Professional Bartending Institute

·         TIPS & Safe Serve Alcohol Certified

·         CPR Certified

·         Guest Speaker at local seminars, national & international conferences worldwide

·         FOX8 has named me the “Wedding Whisper” as a part of Roy’s Folks after rocking two amazing hurricane weddings back to back years on the very same weekend

We bring something unique to each and every one of our events… no matter what type of event or size of guest count… some will be ready, some will fully understand our value and others may not be there yet… and that’s okay too.  Everyone deserves a beautiful wedding day or a fabulous event to celebrate a big milestone… And we can still work with $10,000 budgets… but it may be us getting creative or less guests… and if not, we can recommend one of our fellow association members.

Not going to lie it ONCE was scary every time I sent out the new pricing although EVERY ONE of our surveys last year stated that they received MORE than they paid for… as I open response after response…we’ve decided to go a different direction or we found someone that will do it for less… but I just tell myself, that was never our couple and GOD is just setting us up for greatness... so if you've worked with us in the past or are scheduled to work with us this's because you are a part of greatness...

I hear this voice in the back of my head reminding myself THIS is WHY you are going into semi-retirement on the event side in a few years… THIS is WHY you are back in school getting your Masters… THIS is WHY you are applying to speak all over the world… YOU’VE got to educate more planners and vendors about their VALUE and stop undercutting one another. 

A couple spends the MOST time with their planner, their

planner is the ONE vendor that starts their day super early packing and prepping, arrives to the venue FIRST (besides the venue site manager which is usually traded out for a second shift person in the day), they are typically the ONE vendor onsite the entire day…and then after returning home they are unpacking and then following up with vendors after the event… YET most couples want to pay that planner the LEAST on the day….  The ONE VENDOR who is responsible for the timeline, the flow, the details, the LOOK…and the ONE who gets blamed for everything if anything goes wrong…even if we had nothing to do with that portion of the planning or the day…. No wonder OUR job is the 5th MOST stressful job out there…

So yes these next few months are gonna hurt, funds are going to get tighter until OUR couple discovers they WANT the BEST on their wedding day and that I’m worth more than $25 an hour…and that planners have to include all of their travel hours, planning hours, communication, office overhead, uniforms, radios, emergency kits, insurance, education, marketing, networking, association dues… sooooo many more things go into our services than just those few hours of the event…

OUR couple will realize I am the expert in this area and they want to take me all over the world for their day and that they trust us to create those magical moments… because at the end of the day…

THAT ONE day will be the ONLY day EVER that each and every one of those guests & vendors are in ONE place for that ONE time alive… ALL TOGETHER… we don’t just “direct or coordinate” WE create an experience & a memory…. Now ask yourself what is THAT memory worth?

Friday, January 4, 2019

Who am I?

Hmmmmm…who am I? I’ve been called the wedding whisper, coordinating ninja, a magician just to name a few of my nicknames but the reality is I’m just a down to Earth girl raised in a small town that has big dreams.  Although they say “I clean up nicely” I’m most comfortable in a pair of holey jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops.  I love planning local events but if you give me a few extra days off you can find me on the beach in the Caribbean somewhere.  While I’m the proud momma of two adorable pups, it’s our 6lb office
manager (aka Bailey) has stolen my heart.  She will greet you at the door and climb up in your lap to take a nap during our consultations.  We truly say you become family once your event becomes a part of our planning line up. 

          When it comes to our event designs, we think outside of the box.  I personally prefer booking a venue that speaks our couples first looking at the elements that it offers and go from there.  We love mixing textures and layers when it comes to linens (FYI, all white linens are for all white parties… if you are planning on wearing a “white” dress…you become a rental; shouldn’t you stand out?).  Your centerpieces do not have to be flowers (although we love a beautiful floral design) but let’s get creative with layout and details).  Let’s think outside of the box.  Design, Entertainment and Food & Beverage is what sets the tone for your event.  Linens and Lighting will set the mood, entertainment will keep your guests attention while you’re making your rounds and/or just enjoying being a guest… and the happiest guests have food and beverage options throughout the entire day…. Not just at meal time.  Let’s create an experience not an event…


  How do I create an experience?  It’s through my nearly 20 years of events and education.  I am one of 57 Master Wedding Planners in the World.  I am partnered with Sandals so we assist with honeymoons, destination weddings, anniversary trips, and/or Caribbean getaways. 

I can assist you in creating signature drinks because I’ve been a professional mixologist for nearly two decades and bartended from the coast to my hometown.  I am multi-certified through the Association of Bridal Consultants, The Bridal Society, Beverly Clark Hospitality, and Sandals. 

I have a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism and currently teaching Event Management & Planning at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  I am now enrolled in the Grad program at UNCG to assist them in creating and developing a private event planning program and hopefully degree.  I’ve taught multiple classes at the Alamance Community College.

 We use our network through being members of the local chapter of the Alamance Chamber Association, executive board member of the Triad Bridal Society, NC state manager of the Association of Bridal Consultants, The North Carolina Wedding Society, being a member of Triad Weddings and a co-author of the Planners Unplugged book project to create the best line up of vendors to create the best line up of vendors not only locally but worldwide.

          When I’m not mentoring, teaching or creating magic for our couples you can usually find me taking my mom to the movies, hanging out with my amazing boyfriend, cheering on the Panthers or UNC and/or grabbing lunch with a friend.  I’m a true believer that you CAN have it all but you have to find a work-life-balance that fits your style and active lifestyle. 

That’s one of the many reasons why we limit the number of couples and clients we take on per year.  We love that our couples get to know us and that they feel they are still our one and only because in our eyes they are.  We treat each of our couples as if it’s our BFF getting married and their moms become ours (we’ll call

grandmas nanny & grandpas papa if that’s what they call them).  We’ve been invited to lots of family reunions, celebrations and baby showers following their wedding day…because for us it’s not just “one day” it’s a lifetime of memories we help create.  We love being that “Remember when” moment…so allow us to be THAT moment for you… we look forward to getting to know you and creating a special moment in time for you and your loved ones.


Give of as theme...and we'll  rock it!!!

Picking a honeymoon is hard...

First can you tell the difference from these palm trees?

~Me neither….

          But they all these photos were taken at different resorts.  So what I’m getting at is a palm tree is a palm tree… I know you might WANT to go to a certain location, island, and resort…but is THAT one island best for your adventure and budget?  There are so many factors to take into consideration when you are booking your destination for your honeymoon…

·         First do you have a passport and/or planning on getting one?

·         Are you okay in flying and/or getting on a boat?

·         Check out average flight cost, times, layouts, best airports to fly to and from when booking flights.

·         Don’t forget to book travel protection for your trip including flights …

·         How fast do you want to get to your destination?

·         With back said… don’t forgot to check your departure flights too… how far away is your resort from the airport?  Remember most international flights require your arrival 3 hours prior to boarding… which means if you have an 8am
flight, you have to be at the airport around 5am and if your resort is 2 hours away…hello 2am shuttle pick up time….

·         Do your research about the resort you are looking at staying at… is it all inclusive? Do you have some meals included?  Depending on your room does it limit your level of services?  Do you have room service all day or limited? 

·         Does your resort include any activities or amenities?

·         What types of off resort adventures can you plan ahead of time or do you have to wait to do everything on property?

·         Does it have a spa?  Can you pre-plan treatments and appointments or wait upon arrival?

·         How many restaurants are on property?  Are they all included?  How many

require dinner reservations or can you just walk up and get a seat?  Are their dining options close by the resort to embrace the local culture?  And how safe is it to walk there?

·         Are there ways to add special surprises and celebrations…can you add a candlelight dinner at sunset on the beach?  Add decorations for a birthday celebration?

·         Are cabanas first come first serve, reserved or rented for the day? 

·         How many pools and hot tubs are available?

·         Ask about if there is evening entertainment every night, games by the pool during the day or themes each evening?

A professional travel agent or a certified specialist like myself can answer all of those questions about Sandals & Beaches Resorts…and if you are looking to travel somewhere else, I have several amazing travel agent friends that can assist with other destinations and locations.  So take a look at the budget you want to spend but be reasonable… does it include flights?  Are you looking for a full week?  Remember you are paying for a once in a lifetime luxury trip….splurge and enjoy creating magical memories on your next adventure….

Oh and never travel the very next day after your wedding… you’ll THANK me when you don’t feel like a zombie.  If you are getting married on a Saturday, book a local hotel room for the night of the wedding and then enjoy a brunch or send-off party with family and friends the day after the wedding.  Then book a hotel room in the city you are flying out from, get a good night’s rest and early Monday morning take the shuttle to the airport, board the first flight out to your destination and enjoy more time on the beach feeling fully relaxed and ready to create memories! 

FYI We plan honeymoons and anniversary trips for free!!! (no fees to plan them) contact us today: 

Why Hire the BEST?

Good question right?  You just said yes and now everyone is asking you a million and one questions…right?  Not to mention everyone is giving their opinions, ideas and suggestions…especially those that are not donating to the wedding planning fund.  The question is:

“Have you ever planned a wedding before?”

Most likely no, you may have assisted in giving advice, helping to set up or create DIY projects for someone else…but then stop and ask yourself:

“How much do you want to ENJOY the planning experience leading up to the big day and how much time do you want to spend living in the moment on your special day?”

Do your research… once you say I do, look into hiring a planning team that will take your vision and create reality.  Make sure WHO you are hiring is a professional.  Yes, we all started somewhere but do not expect someone who is doing your wedding in their first year of their career to know everything like someone that has been doing for decades… you can’t compare apples to oranges. 

I am blessed to have planned nearly 300 weddings and events over the past two decades.  I have a degree in Recreation Parks and Tourism with a double minor in Psychology and Business along with a concentration in Travel, Tourism and Commercial Recreation.  But for me that wasn’t enough… I’ve continued my education with multiple certifications and recently returned to Graduate School to pursue a Master’s Degree.  In 2017, I was honored with the highest level of education through the Association of Bridal Consultants becoming 1 of 80 Master Wedding Planners in the World… however, currently there are only 57 of us actively planning and producing weddings and events.  So just by having me on your wedding day puts one of the very best experts on your team and by your side step by step. 

Education and Experience is what will make your wedding day feel magical as if it all just naturally comes

together.  The planning portion of the wedding is getting to the day…the real experts take all of the planning and executes!  No matter how much time we spend planning every detail, we never truly know what will happen because we can’t tell you what your guests will do until that moment.  With a wedding of 100 guests… that’s 100 guests doing 100 different things every 60 seconds of every minute of every hour and then of the entire day… something that happens offsite could effect something later in the day… and it’s the EXPERTS that will know how to weather any storm, be flexible, create solutions and have back up plans ready to go.  So THAT’s why you hire the BEST on your special day.  Not only because they are the BEST at what they do…but simply because of all of the WHAT IF’s we can’t fully predict.

Listen to Logistics

          When planning an event first you should always hire professionals simply because

they have the knowledge, training and expertise to create a vision from an inspiration.  Even with nearly two decades of experience and multiple certifications and a degree in event planning; I personally always love it when someone questions my reasoning of doing things and/or my logistical planning.  We understand couples think they can DIY everything and that their family and friends will assist them in setting up and being half of their vendors to save them money… but truly most end up spending more time, energy and money trying to figure something out instead of hiring a professional that already knows how to do it. Trust me vendors are not trying to create more work for anyone.  They have thought long and hard about each little details, moment and even the possible what if’s…

          One of the biggest areas couples should listen and adhere to any advice given is
when it comes to the layout and design.  For one there are several safety guidelines and fire codes that have to be followed.  Yes I too hate big fire extinguishers, fire alarms, exit signs and sprinkler systems when it comes to a design but NO we can cover them or hide them because IF that day comes and something did happen we need to be able to find and use those items easily… plus that’s a HUGE fine with the fire marshal.  The way the tables are laid out in a diagram are also a big safety factor.  We need to make sure exits are clear and that there is plenty of room for not only staffing to properly do their job but for guests to move around throughout the event. 

          Design is another area couples should hire professionals in assisting with… DIY sounds fun at first but I can tell you in my over 18 years of experience, those couples are the main ones ready to elope the closer their day approaches.  Couples tend to spend more money collecting items, time cleaning items and sometimes even waste money because the first few samples are mistakes or major Pinterest fails.  Ask your planner, florist, rental company, baker, and catering company about their inventory prior going out and buying items.  9 out of 10 times we probably already own those items…as for KYAE anyone using our partial planning and/or our full service packages have full usage of any of our wedding items and props for free.  Mainly because some of our past couples just didn’t know what to do with those items after the day….I mean really what are you going to do with 25 centerpieces?  Does anyone really want to clean 1000 dishes the day after a very long wedding day?  Does anyone really want to wash and irons linens prior and after an event to attempt to resell them (if they are not stained)?  Plus you are inviting your family and friends to enjoy this special occasion with you and celebrate…not spend the week prepping, setting up, cleaning up, packing everything up, and then unpacking the day after the wedding… remember most couples exit their wedding before their guests and leaving them behind to clean up.  As part of our logistical planning we list expectations as to which vendor and/or family member will be doing what tasks and services. 

          When it comes to logistics, another area it’s all about the timing and scheduling

of things.  Talk to all of your vendors and find out how much time will THEY need to produce their services according to their brand and style.  If anything you can never have TOO MUCH time on wedding day…some how we always need 15 more minutes somewhere, something runs over, someone is late and/or something takes a few more minutes to execute.  Hair and Make-Up always takes longer than you think…and dressing is a process especially if you want photos of those moments… speaking of images and memories…. How long did you book your photographer and videographer for?  If “memories” is your #1 item from your day… you should be booking companies that bring out at least two team members to truly capture your day and they should be booked for at least 8-12 hours.  Just to give you a heads up for a “southern wedding” time frame:

Engagement photo session

Bridal Portrait photo session

3-7 hours for rehearsal and rehearsal dinner

30 minutes – 1 hour for special recordings, gift exchanges, first touches, prayers

1 hour for make-up

1.5 hours for hair

30 minutes – 1 hour getting dressed

30 minutes-45 minutes- girls photos

30 minutes guys photos

30 minutes- 1 hour for prelude music and guest arriving (are your groomsmen seating your guests?  Then they can’t take pictures during that time)

30 minutes – 1 hour for ceremony (could be longer depending on religion & family traditions)

45 minutes-1 hours post photos IF you don’t do a first look…w/ first look still about 30 minutes

3-4 hours for a Traditional Southern Reception

….yes it’s a long day with lots of moving parts right? (don’t forget to fuel your wedding party, family and vendors….we encourage offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to make sure everyone makes it all 16 hours of this day….)

          Speaking of timing… how long do you have your venue rented for?  Think about the set up?  Can it be done within an hour and half for venues with an 8-hour rental…. Yes most likely but realize you will most likely be adding more staffing to make sure it is completed in a timely matter. 

While we are on the subject staffing, NEVER question a vendor’s reasoning for
their staffing or their staffing fees.  You’ve most likely hired them because of their RAVE reviews, referrals and/or you’ve attended an event they were at and seen firsthand.  Those experiences didn’t just happen…they were logistically planned and thought out.  In my earlier days in my career, I thought one or two people could get the job done, and it did, but when KYAE began implementing the minimum 3 staff members to create a guest experience, not only did our couples and vendors noticed but so do our guests…and our reviews prove it.  And the very few times a client talked me into less in the pass, just didn’t go as smooth and/or phenomenal as it could have gone.  We too have an image and a brand to protect and ours is the guest experience.  We love hearing our wedding parties say “this is the FIRST wedding I’ve been in and didn’t have to set up nor clean up….wow, I’m telling everyone about you guys!”  Or when a guest states “THIS IS THE BEST WEDDING EVER!” 

Never lie about your guest count to save “money” because you do not want to have leftovers or you think they’ll bring less staff… when you tell a vendor the wrong count, they put that into not only the food count, but supplies and staffing.  When your vendors “think” they have less guests but then realize more are attending you are only setting yourself up for failure.  Their staff can’t give the proper beverage and food service for one and most important is safety.  We need to make sure we have enough guests per staff for safety reasons…while we hope nothing ever comes to that, we have a plan of action when and if something bad was to occur and you have to have the proper number of staff to move furniture for a flip, escort people to safety, serve during dinner service and most importantly clean up afterwards.

So just listen to us crazy professional vendors when we recommend something or suggest certain items… we are only here to assist in making the overall experience amazing and better for everyone…especially on the DAY of the event.
….Spoken from a Master Wedding Planner....

Designing Details

Over the past few years we’ve really be developing our skills and upping our game when it comes to design and logistical planning all while really focusing on the guest experience.  When we plan an event we really focus on the FIVE senses and take in a lot about our couples.  We ask lots of questions and then take that knowledge not to repeat something we’ve already seen on Pinterest…. FYI if it’s on Pinterest…. It’s already happened in the past and most likely it’s also already been over done. 

(photo cred....traci arney above; dream builder productions below
Let’s create an original experience for you and your guests on your wedding day by having your day reflect you two and your families…Ask yourself a few questions:

·         Do you even like your wedding colors?

·         Why did you pick them?

·         What’s your favorite color? 

·         What is your spouse’s favorite color?

·         What kind of mood do you want your reception to host?

·         What special family traditions do you and your family have?

Those are just a few of the many questions we ask to create a custom day our couples and their guests.  While we offer all types of different packages on our website majority of our couples book our partial planning package to take advantage of our design and logical planning services.  Our couples still feel as though they are in control in the planning details but with our professional guidance walking them through the process they tend to create a day for of magical memories.

Allow us to create those magical memories for you.  Check out our new design packages on our website: 

How to pick your honeymoon?

Have you started planning your honeymoon yet? How do you even begin to pick where to spend your first vacation as a married couple?  Have a deep conversation with one another and figure out all the places you’d love to travel within the next 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and lifetime goals.  Look at what is more affordable, feasible and really it all boils down to what you want your first adventure to be remembered as.  

Here’s some other things to consider also:

·         Think of the traveling

o   How far away is your destination?

o   How many hours will it take to travel?

o   How many layovers will you have?

o   How far is the hotel/resort/AirBandB from the airport/port of call?

o   Have you thought about any additional transportation needs to and from the airport or to get around the city?

·         What types of excursions you guys might want to do while on you honeymoon? 

Remember certain adventures may only be available on certain countries/cities.

o   Are you golfers?

o   Do you want to go ziplining or four wheeling?

o   Do you want to swim with dolphins, pigs, sting rays?

o   Do you want to go horseback riding on the beach?

o   Maybe go skiing?

·         Do you want a big beach? Maybe mountains? Or do you want to tour historical buildings and museums?

·         Maybe you’re a sports fanatic and your bucket list is to see every stadium/arena of your favorite sport…

·         Are you traveling within the country or will you need a passport?

·         Are you planning a staycation for now and a bigger trip later?

We talk with our couples to pick an experience that reflects them.  Not to pick something because it seems to be the cheaper option.  We tell our couples to do their homework/research and to ALWAYS hire a travel agent (or us for Sandals/Beaches Resorts) to plan their trip.  We also tell our couples to get travel protection/insurance. 

Some know we plan Caribbean getaways for FREE…and if you didn’t, you do now!  
If you are considering:

ü Antigua

ü Bahamas

ü Barbados

ü Great Exumas (Bahamas)

ü Grenada

ü Jamaica

ü Saint Lucia

ü Turks & Caicos

Know we can assist you in booking an all-inclusive trip.  We can assist with your flights, excursions off resort and plan spa treatments while on resort.  We can plan for special occasions to celebrate a birthday and/or anniversary too!  One of our couples favorite experiences has been the candlelight dinner on the beach at sunset.  Contact us today for more details…