Tuesday Tips: Happy Guests

Summer is here, which in South Florida brings the heat, but everywhere else it brings prime wedding season. As things warm up it is important to keep your guests in mind and make sure they enjoy the day as much as you! Here are some tips to keep your guests content in the warm weather festivities:

Market umbrellas dotting a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Photo: Tim Willoughby via Southern Weddings

Market umbrellas dotting a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Photo: Tim Willoughby via Southern Weddings

1. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony consider providing pre ceremony refreshments for your guests. Whether it be water available as they arrive or even a specialty cocktail, they’ll appreciate a beverage and it will be a memorable gesture!

2. Think about the venue and the weather when directing your guests attire. Will you be exchanging vows in a garden or saying ‘I Do” on a sandy beach? Communicate that information with your friends and family. Nobody wants to be caught with stilettos in the grass or soft sand so letting them know in advance will ensure no surprises.

3. If you really want to go above and beyond for your guests consider a foot washing station at the ceremony. Encourage guests to enjoy the outdoors and go barefoot during your vows. An easy cleanup station will be a delightful treat before the party starts.

4. If you have an earlier ceremony under the blazing summer sun you may want to provide some shade for those in attendance. Market umbrellas are often available from event rental companies and create a unique look for ceremonies. Paper parasols are another wonderful personal touch for sun protection that can double as a guest favor! They’re available in a rainbow of colors and can coordinate with any decor.

5. Last but not least, you’ll want to keep your guests cool as they party the night away. If you’re hosting an outdoor reception consider renting A/C units to keep the temp low. These work best in enclosed areas (such as a patio or tent) and can make a huge impact on hot nights.

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To holiday or not to holiday?

A.k.a. The (dreaded?) Valentine’s Day.

First of all, I can’t believe it’s already February! Yikes! With February comes what is essentially the last holiday of holiday season (you know, following Turkey Day and Christmas and New Years) and all that jazz. It’s one of those days that I feel you either love it or you hate it – personally I think i’m on the fence. Either way, I stumbled upon this post about the situation on one of the many blogs I read and I quite liked it. This particular topic (post marriage) is a bit out of my realm but I thought it was worth a share anyway. Listen up boys!

(all text copied from original blog found here, I just wanted to make it easier to find/read)

Valentine’s Day Survival Guide

(written by Katie at Marriage Confessions)

Today we are going to talk about something real. Something serious. Something looming. We are talking Valentines Day. The big V. V-Day, one of the most critical days of the year. One of the few days of the year that lets you sleep in the bed, or on the couch.

(FYI Ladies- This would be the part when you would call your man to come and read…)

There are two types of Valentiners. Ones that absolutely go over the moon for it, and ones that despise it. I happen to be somewhere in between those two. The day does not completely annoy me, however I’m not much for the random holiday thing. I not here to tell you which one you are. That is your business. But I will say regardless of which one you are. This year do something nice for your lady. She deserves it. Here is you guide:

Valentines Day does not have to be all-fancy-like with roses and dinner and makin’ babies. You don’t have to get all dressed up and go dancing. Don’t get me wrong all of that is fantastic and a wonderful evening. But to me, that is not what Valentines Day is about. Valentines Day is like Mother’s Day, without church. It is a time for you to tell your lady that you love her. It is her day. And it can be simple, and it can be romantic, and it can be knock your socks off fun all at the same time. Just be sure to make it your own. Don’t be typical.

You know your significant other better than anyone. Get her something that she really wants. Get her something that makes her feel pretty. Get her something that takes care of her. Get her something that tells her you appreciate everything she does. Get her something to tell her that she is perfect.

I’m sure you get her red flowers EVERY year, right? Well this year change it up. If you always give her red long-stem roses that you got on the side of the road for five dollars, change it up and get her white, pink, and red tulips. If you always give them to her when you come home from work, it will always seem like a last minute thought. Change it up this year and have them waiting in the bathroom for when she wakes up that morning instead. If you always have them in the morning, change it up this year, and send them to her office and surprise her there with flowers. That will make her feel good all day.

If you typically give her chocolates, change it up this year and bring home chocolates, a bottle of wine and make fondue.

If you typically give her jewelry, change it up this year and find a piece of jewelry that is different. It does not have to be diamonds, or anything expensive. Get her something that fits her style, something that when you see it in a store you can picture her wearing it.

If lingerie is in your repertoire each year, this year change it up and get her something different. Regardless of what you may or may not think, women do not want to wear that sexy stuff all the time. This year go for a practical gift like underwear or a nice bra.  It will make your lady feel good about herself everyday she wears it. This year don’t buy something that she will wear once in a blue moon, go practical and get her something she can wear once or twice a week.

Now, do we need to talk about buying underwear and lingerie? Shame on you if you have never bought your lady something nice from Victoria’s Secret. Listen, if you are not man enough to go in there and pick out something nice, then your girl needs to move on. Go in. It’s not scary. It’s not confusing. And most of the time, there are attractive sales women everywhere! Go in there and ask, “What is the most popular bra right now?  I need an everyday bra that my beautiful wife/fiancé/girlfriend/partner will love.” That will not only make you feel good about doing the right thing, but it will also make the attractive sales women give a you a nice smile and then take really good care of you. And in a last resort, if you just can’t bring yourself to do it, then the online store will have to do. Then you can browse as long as you need to.

If you are a dinner and movie at home kinda guy, change it up this year and YOU cook a nice dinner, or order take-out, or pick something up from her favorite restaurant and bring it home. If you like going out to dinner, take her to her favorite spot. Don’t take her to the sports bar, even if she wants to go. Take her somewhere nice. Get her to put on lipstick and a cute dress and go out to dinner and movie. Don’t take her to something dark or intense or scary (unless that turns her on…) take her to something girly and fun, a romantic comedy or something light-hearted.

Lastly, don’t get her something from the neighborhood drug store. Pay attention, man. Put some thought into her this year. It’s not hard. It’s not expensive. But it’s going to take some thought, and maybe some planning. But take the time to do it. Your girl is worth it. And it’s your responsibility to tell her that. Don’t mess it up this year. Surprise her. Make her smile. Make her laugh. Make her cry. Make her happy. Make her feel pretty. Tell her you love her.

So there it is. I’m a fan!

The Year of the Wedding

Given the look of my current projected calendar, it appears that 2012 will be the year of the wedding. This projection not only includes the weddings I have contracted as work, but also the weddings I will be attending to benefit my social calendar. I am really looking forward to being a guest at a handful of events this year because:

A. It will be nice to be on the other side of the party for a change (I’ll also get to dress up fancy in all those old semi-formal dresses hanging neglected in my closet)

2. It will provide me with an excuse for a little bit of travelling and vacation time and

C. I will be celebrating a very important moment in the lives of a lot of very important people in my life!

This is exciting.  One of the most exciting parts about some of these upcoming weddings is that I will also be in a few of them.  The downside to having so many events on the upcoming calendar….the financial burden.

I’m sure everyone has felt the strain of wedding finances at some point, whether it be questioning how to afford a simple gift for a recently married friend right out of school, finding the funds to travel to an out of town wedding for friends or family, or even having to buy that new dress to wear to said event. It can be tough. What’s shocking to me is how much the average person spends on weddings these days (as a bride/groom and as a guest), especially if acting as a member of the bridal party.

I recently stumbled upon this article and info graphic combo from the financial site Mint.com via Wedding Channel.com and they put the expenses of a bridesmaid into an interesting perspective:

(you can also check it out here or read the full article here) Now, obviously this is just the average and there are plenty of brides who keep costs down for their party members, but it’s true (and crazy!) that expenses can get exorbitant these days. I think that Mint provided a lot of great suggestions on how to save some pennies and I think some of these can apply to the guests as well such as sharing hotel rooms with others you know are travelling and getting creative with the gifts, even pooling with other guests for a larger item. Sometimes the sentimental gifts, i.e. homemade, gifts can be the most thoughtful.

Thankfully, I have some great, budget conscious friends in my circle so I’m heading into this year of weddings with a positive outlook, eager to celebrate!

To Look or Not to Look…

One of the more popular trends in weddings right now is the “First Look.” Thanks to a friend of mine on Pinterest I found this article with a fantastic take on the situation and I just had to share. Breanna, along with her husband, is a wedding photographer in Arizona who points out numerous reasons why the first look is beneficial for any wedding. Read her whole article here:

The Reveal Moment

For the short version, here is a quick summary of what she had to say (pulled from the article)

“The Lesser Known Benefits of the Reveal Moment:

  1. The first time you see each other in a ceremony happens in the blur of a few seconds. The reveal takes that amazing moment and turns it into it’s own event which makes it more memorable and significant.
  2. You feel more like partners going into this together rather than alone… it is an amazing bonding experience to anticipate the moment together.
  3. Your emotions are more genuine when expressed in private, which is one of the many things about a reveal moment that will make the photos of the first time you see one another turn out better
  4. Your nerves calm down significantly when you see one another, allowing you to enjoy the first half of your wedding day more.
  5. Your schedule is more relaxed which will make your entire wedding day feel more relaxed.
  6. It feels more natural to do family photos before the ceremony because afterwards all you want to do is be together for a few minutes and then go join your party.
  7. You have more time for photos of the two of you alone and with the people you care about (30 min to 1 hr more!).
  8. Cocktail hour is shorter and your guests are happier!
  9. The reveal moment is all about relaxing everyone and making the day more enjoyable.  Every person involved in the wedding will be more chill and have more fun when the reveal moment schedule is used.
  10. Part of the reason our clients hire us is because they trust our experience and you believe we have their best interests at heart… and we fully believe they will be happiest experiencing the benefits of the Reveal Moment Schedule.”

I love Breanna’s point of view and could not agree with her more!!! Oh yea, and did I mention their work is beyond beautiful too? (all images are from their site)

 

Check out their website Radiant Photography for more.

 

 

A Lesson In Patience

Maybe it’s come from my work history, or from my experiences in college, or perhaps from the 20+ roommates I’ve lived with (yes you read that correctly, over twenty), but somewhere along the line I have become quite a calm and composed individual – for the most part. Don’t ask me how it happened. Growing up, I had a short, fairly violent temper. I remember more than a few instances in elementary/middle/high school where friends or family of mine referred to me bluntly as a bitch. I’ll admit – I could be at times.  Now, I like to think I’ve grown past that. Thank god too because the wedding world certainly has enough of that going around.

The joke around our office is that the onslaught of “reality wedding TV” has created the era of the Bridezilla

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Suddenly, it’s like clients think this is how they are supposed to act. You’re not a real bride if you’re not throwing a temper tantrum or demanding everything at your beck and call. I am very new to the wedding industry, but in my short time working in the field I like to think I’ve gained a lot of experience. What to do when your entire reception is infested with bugs mere hours before guests arrive? Call an exterminator, hope for the best, and for the love of God steer the groom clear of the tables!! The bride and groom tell you as they are walking into the reception that they didn’t pick any first dance music? Grab a nearby iPod and run with what you got!! Forgot the marriage license at home? Send a search party to tear that place apart!! Guest passes out from heat in the middle of dinner? Call an ambulance and start passing the shots!! Anyway, you get the picture…make the best of the situation and do what you can to make everyone happy. Generally, this is a fail proof plan for me. I have been complimented by many vendors on my demeanor during events, and most recently I have gained a few referral partnerships on this fact alone. Yet, every now and then there is that client that makes you want to pull your hair out – the previously mentioned “zilla.”

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Maybe not that dramatic but you get the picture. With my position at the company, unfortunately I am the first point of contact which means I am the first person that gets yelled at – whether its by the priest (yea that happened last week), or the mother of the bride, or the couple themselves. What I have learned however, is that some people are impossible to please. No matter what you do, how fantastic of a job or how much effort you put into it, they will still try to find something that went wrong. They will also find a way to avoid saying thank you. And you just have to take it. Smile, apologize, whatever it is, you just have to take it. This is most certainly the greatest lesson in patience I have had in my life. Yea, sometimes it makes you want to cry, and sometimes it may be appropriate to yell back and stand up for yourself, but at the end of the day you aren’t going to be able to make them happy and that nasty review is still going to hit every message board and blog review you could find, you just have to go with it. Best case scenario, you can shake it off with a couple happy hour drinks at the end of the day! (and if you’re lucky enough karma will hit them hard!)

Breath deep and let go of things. This is my mantra.

Bring on the Music

I will admit, I am one of those individuals who starts playing Christmas music the minute Halloween is over. Tis the Season after all. And by season I mean holiday season, but Thanksgiving is anything but my cup of tea, so I prefer to skip right over it to Christmas. Just pretend it never happened, most people end up sleeping through it or drinking through it anyway so why not?

Anyway, besides the lovely Christmas music and decorations my favorite thing about the holiday is the gifts. Obviously, we all love getting gifts (free shit you can’t afford to buy for yourself HELLO!!!), but honestly I love to give gifts. The perfect gift. I start early with my planning/shopping so that I can be sure that everyone will legitimately love the present I am getting them and that it matches their personality/hobbies/lifestyle/living arrangements/current operational needs/etc perfectly. I know this is a big task and I’m probably setting myself up for  failure but whatever, bring it on. When I finally have the “aha” moment, pass the display when I least expect it, or flip to the catalog item that just jumps off the page it’s like a chorus of chill/punk guitarist just sing to me pleasant harmony celebrating my perfect find. I know. Weird.

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This need to please also applies to birthdays/showers/anniversaries/random “thinking of you” moments/and of course weddings. I love registries, because its basically a giant lifelong wish list (everything you ever wanted but never bought for yourself because of X), but I also love my usual prep early and buy the perfect present method even if it means no registry.

My madness does make window shopping a lot more pleasant though! Anway, I really wanted to have a point to this post, but alas I got distracted so I suppose I don’t have one other than any excuse is a good excuse to shop, especially for other people (it means no post spending guilt trip). Or something like that.

Every penny counts

I found this link on one of my regular blog reads today (shocker!), and I was really excited I’m not going to lie.

“Cost of Wedding”: here has used industry surveys, bride surveys, and just general regional information to calculate the average cost of a wedding based on your regional zip code.

Cool right? According to Cost of Wedding – on average, US couples spend $19,581 for their wedding. However, the majority of couples spend between $14,686 and $24,476. This does not include cost for a honeymoon or engagement ring.

Interested to see what the site had to say about Miami I hopped right on. I then proceeded to laugh. I know everybody has different budgets and circumstances when it comes to their wedding. I’ve worked with a lot of brides who have very low budgets, and I have seen brides come through my office with astronomical budgets – the kind that make you ask where they came from. I suppose these two extremes could balance each other out, but I was anticipating a pretty high average. I was shocked to see that the average cost for Miami was….

between $14,906 and $24,843

I’m sorry come again? They do caution that if you select well-experienced professionals, designer labels, popular venues, etc etc. you can expect to pay anywhere from 50-100% higher (uh yea).

Despite the flaws in calculation for Miami, (I tested it out with other areas, including my hometown, friend’s hometowns, etc and they were all a bit more on par) the site is pretty cool. It will break down the average costs for each area: accessories, florals, entertainment, invites, what have you – and I thought it was pretty helpful to see a comparison of the average per item.

Seasonal Parties

So it’s almost that time of year – Holiday time! (My favorite time, and the only excuse for a “winter” we have here in Florida). A lot of people throw seasonal parties, especially for Christmas or New Years. While I would obviously recommend using a party planner (cough cough), there are a few things you can do to prepare early for your party, thanks to tips from Apartment Therapy.

1.  Check out the calendar. Make sure that your date of choice doesn’t conflict with anything happening in your circle of friends or even in your community.

2. Skip the Evites. Though this is a quick and easy way to get the word out fast, it can often go unnoticed in the email inbox. Not to mention snail mail invites set a better tone for the event.

3.  Start bargain hunting. Looking for great decor items or real table settings (Glad has its moments), thrift stores and garage sales are a great place. You can always sell it later.

4.  Menu Planning. If you’re providing the food yourself, test out some recipes before the party. AT also recommends trying foods that can be made early and frozen.

5. House Cleaning. Pick a few projects around the house that need to get done and start knocking a few out each weekend leading up to the event, this way its not all left towards the last minute.

 

I personally thought these tips from Apartment Therapy were great – and if I had the space in my current abode I would LOVE to throw a holiday party. For now, I’ll just have to hope someone else asks me to help with theirs. 🙂 Check out the link above for more on each of the tips and the great blog that is AT.

Real Simple to the rescue

I am an avid reader of Real Simple (note to self – I should probably invest in a subscription soon and save myself lots of money!) In the most recent issue, there was an article by husband & wife comedians Samantha Bee and Jason Jones titled “10 Ways to Make Your Marriage Divorceproof.” Now I’m not going to babble about my thoughts on divorce but I will say this – the article was very entertaining. It’s also hosted on the Real Simple site so check it out above.

Samantha and Jasons tips include:

1. Realize that if you can agree on what constitutes a clean room, you can agree on anything.

2. If you’re irritated by your partner, imagine him as a small child. (they claim this will immediately make you look at your partner as an adorable and appealing individual)

3. No fisticuffs in public

4. Marry someone with a backbone who appreciates that you possess one of your own. (“Yes, honey I will see the Transformers sequel on one of our precious and rare date nights. But on our next excursion, I get to choose a period piece featuring people in bonnets who churn their own butter.”)

5. Procrastinate (my personal favorite)

6. Have sex with each other

7. Accept that everybody needs alone time (“sometimes you can be kind of annoying you know”)

8. If you have to fight, WALK and fight (I actually thought this was a great idea)

9. Let your spouse in on 90% of your day-to-day routine (keep the mystery alive)

10. When you buy gifts for each other, give them at least a full minute of thought (“gifts that require someone to perform a household task don’t count as gifts”)

I thought this article was great. It was humorous and actually had some great advice! I find relationship dynamics to be so intriguing – and this article fulfilled my “learn something new everyday” quotient. Can’t beat that!