5 Common myths about wedding planners

bout wedding planners

As I talk to brides and their friends I began to realize that very few people really know what wedding planners/coordinators actually do. There were many myths or misunderstandings that I discovered. I wanted to give some clarification to how, what and why I do, what it is, exactly, that I do. Here are the top 5 myths I uncovered:

1.) Wedding Planners take over your wedding and make choices for you.
It is your wedding, first and foremost. A good wedding planner will listen to your desires, help you create a vision, and encourage you to make choices. It is our job to help you find options, advise you if you ask for it and ultimately you (and your fiancé) pick what you want.

2.) Hiring a wedding planner is really expensive and I can’t afford it. Wedding planning is a process, I strive to help my clients make the most of their budget. The earlier on I get involved in the process, the more I can prevent mistakes and assist them in understanding how certain decisions impact processing. Often, my services pay for themselves. I save clients more money (through discounts with vendors I recommend, helping them avoid costly mistakes, and providing creative ideas to maximize what they have to spend) than my services cost. If you’re estimating, a planner should cost around 12-15% of your budget, a coordinator should cost around 8-10% of your total budget.

3.) My venue has a coordinator onsite, so I don’t need one.
Most venues have a point of contact for vendors the day of your wedding, their titles include: event manager, event coordinator, wedding coordinator, wedding director, event director, etc. This person is who will provide on-site info the day of the wedding to your vendors or notify you if something goes wrong. He/She will not have any contact with your vendors before the wedding, his/her job is to make sure of things like: the buffet opening on time, vendors cleaning up and leaving by the time breakdown is over. A wedding coordinator that you hire personally provides a completely different level of service. More than 50% of our work is done before the wedding day. We work hard to be proactive and communicate with all your vendors in advance, our work is preventative. That way there are no emergencies or stressors the day of the wedding.

4.) If I hire a wedding planner, she will probably talk me into things that increase my budget.
I pride myself on helping my brides and grooms get the absolute most for their money. I kinda feel like the TJ Maxx of wedding planning. There are tons of creative ways to trim the fat and inexpensive ways to Wow! Your guests. When planning a wedding we start together at the beginning. We talk numbers at the beginning, create a detailed budget and use they to guide your decisions. It’s okay to over-spend in one area, if you’re willing to skimp in another area. And going over-budget is a conscious choice, not a surprise mistake.

5.) But, I’m a planner, so I don’t need to pay anyone to help me with my wedding.
No matter how organized and clear you are on what want your wedding to be, the day of the wedding you will want to be the guest of honor. Not a wedding coordinator. Even if everything goes smoothly, you will want someone else (who is not your mother, sister or best friend) to be there to handle any mishaps. Even though I had been planning and coordinating weddings for 7 years by the time I got married, I hired a “day of” coordinator. I knew how many details there were to attend to and I didn’t want to be the person responsible for facilitating them. It was great decision and I now I have positive memories of my wedding day and enjoying all the friends and family that came to be a part of it, not regrets about stress and distraction.

The Grammy’s wedding ceremony

This past Sunday Madonna, Queen Latifah, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sang and performed a wedding ceremony for 30 couples. This included same sex couples, inter-racial couples and traditional brides and grooms. This was a beautiful acknowledgement of acceptance and love. All people have the right to marry whomever they choose. This was a public declaration of our progress as a nation to value and respect every one as a human being, regardless of the age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I hope to see more and more public displays of acceptance of diversity by the wedding industry!

5 things that will Ruin your Wedding Reception

5 things that will ruin your Wedding reception

Weddings are a one-time event. You get one shot to get it right. One. Most Brides and Grooms will spend near $30,000 on their weddings. Taking the risk of wasting $30,000 is huge. It’s important to me to share ways that can help you avoid this. Here are the 5 things that are most likely to impact your wedding reception in a negative way (so make sure you don’t do them):

1.) Having a DJ that doesn’t really do weddings (ex: works in clubs, bars, social gatherings, etc.). For weddings with over 50 guests, that have food and dancing, it is essential to have a knowledgeable DJ. He will be your master of ceremonies; announcing he buffet opening, directing your guests attention for toasts/cake cutting, etc. and most importantly for setting the tone for your reception. Timing the music well is an art. A good DJ knows to play low-key music during dinner, faster dance music later on and hold the booty-shaking jams until after the grandparents and older guest have left.
2.) Not hiring your photographer for the entire wedding day. Some photographers offer packages of 6, 7 or 8 hours of coverage for the wedding; they show up, take pictures and leave when that time period ends. While this may seem like a good way to save a few bucks, it is a bad idea. What often happens if the photographer leaves before the formal departure (typically a couple of hours before), is that all of the memorable shots (cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.) is pushed forward in your timeline. As a result, guests either get bored and leave or feel like all of the important stuff had happened and leave. You do not want this to happen. Having the photographer on-site for the entire time of the event allows things to unfold casually and keeps your guests engaged and there.
3.) Using an inexperienced caterer. While it is obvious that the quality of food serve at your wedding is important one not so obvious detail is how crucial it is to hire a caterer that had done many weddings. Mainly, this is important for estimating the correct amount of food and not running out as well as understanding logistics. Timing is a big part of making a wedding flow well, caterers that have lots of experience know how much time it will take their staff to set-up, prep the food and clean up. Caterers without wedding experience, are likely to be running behind and cause your timeline to lag.
4.) Not providing alcohol of any kind to your guests. Whether you drink alcohol or not, it is good manner to provide beverage options for your guests. If you were having someone over to your home and you knew that they enjoyed wine or beer would you offer them a drink? Probably so. On the occasions that I have done dry weddings, they inevitably end early… meaning that the majority of the guests leave before the bride and groom, resulting in little to nobody being there to dance, party or see the bride and groom off. This tends to be less important for daytime or morning weddings, but will make some impact regardless.
5.) Misuse of Wedding funds. A solid wedding budget is pretty straight forward and easily found online or in wedding magazines. When the money you have is not spent in a manner that is well thought out, it compromises the quality of your event. For example: it does not make sense to spend 30% of your budget on venue rental, this leaves very little money to work with for food, beverage, décor and other essentials. Your guests will not remember how wonderful your $300 centerpieces were if they did not have anywhere to sit during dinner (because you skimped on table and chair rentals to save money).

The good news is that all of these potential problems are easily avoidable. Hiring a wedding planner is a great way to get guidance on all of these details so that problems are prevented up front. A wedding planner can also help you get the most for your money; as they often get better deals from vendors, can give you recommendations of more cost effective options, and help you prioritize how you spend the money you have.

Unique Wedding Programs

I am loving the new trend of creative and unique wedding progrmas. Lately I have seen many brides moving away from the traditional paper programs. There seems to be a new twist on how to display your wedding party and ceremony elements. Here are some of the ideas I’ve seen recently:

Rustic doors- I had a bride last Fall who’s maid of honor (who happens to be very artistic) took an tattered, distressed wooden door and hand-painted all the names of every on in the wedding party on it. This was propped against a tree for the outdoor wedding ceremony and was the perfect accent for the natural setting. It was so different and creative the guests could not stop talking about it. Check out the pic above.

Easels- Another bride that I am working with is going a little more formal and polished. She is using a framed easel to display her wedding program. Her guests will be holding fans and sunglasses, her favors, to help accommodate her outdoor setting in early August. So it was important to her not to overwhelm them with one more thing to carry. We’re collaborating with her florist to make sure the easel is beautiful, elegant and the perfect accent for the ceremony.

Fans- A couple of years back I had a client that was really concerned about her guests getting overheated. Georgia tends to get pretty sweltering in the Summer, so heat exhaustion is always something to keep in mind, particularly with elderly guests. So, she decided to print her programs on hand held fans. This way guests had the info right there and could use the fan to cool off.

These are just a few of the really cool ways I’ve seen brides spice up the wedding program. It’s important to recognize all of your wedding party and family, so why not find an artistic way to make it a little more personal and add to the unique style of your wedding.

We’re back and better than ever!

It has been over a year since I last blogged. In the past year so much has happened that I wanted to share with you all; I got married, which was really awesome (and beautiful, if I do say so myself), there were several gorgeous weddings that I got to help plan, coordinate and enjoy, and we’ve started working on 2012 weddings already. Life took me away from blogging, but now I’m back.

I’m excited to announce that Chelsie Green, one of my former brides, has agreed to join Beyond Events to help plan, design and direct weddings. While I worked with her on her wedding last September I realized how creative, self-motivated and organized she is. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. It is rare to find this combination of traits in one person, but she pulls it off quite nicely, I must say. I am so excited to have her on board and look forward to creating some amazing weddings with her!

Stay tuned for more info, gorgeous event pics and updates. I’ll be posting some great stuff soon and you won’t want to miss it.

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The wedding planner gets engaged!

engagement ringOn Friday, October 22nd my boyfriend of 3 years proposed! We had packed a picnic, climbed up Stone Mountain, and were enjoying our feast. The sun was setting in the West as a Full moon was rising in the East. The entire skyline was a beautiful rainbow; wide bands of color enveloped the sky (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet). It was a breath-taking sunset. As we finished our meal and chatted nonchallantly about our days, the food and our plans for the weekend, he reached into his pocket. To my complete surprise he pulled out a beautiful brilliant diamond and asked me to marry him! I was stunned. After I recovered my breath I answered with a loud “yes!” and sealed the deal with a kiss. I am very excited to be planning my own wedding and cannot wait to share the detials with you all.

The perfect event detail

Ashlee Baby Shower centerpiece

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a baby shower for one of my dearest friends. I had seen cake pops at a baby shower several years ago and thought they were adorable and delicious, so I knew I wanted them for this shower. But I also knew that I didn’t have an interest in learning how to make them myself. So, I ordered the cake pops from Sarandipity Sweets in Alpharetta, (and they were perfect). I’m always looking to get them most bang for my buck, so I decided to incorporate them into the centerpieces. The picture above shows the finished product. The cake pops were three fold at the shower; centerpieces, dessert and favors. They were a huge hit! I highly recommend them for your next shower, party or event.

Christy & Nick’s Beautiful Wedding with the Atlanta Skyline backdrop.

Atlanta Skyline Wedding

Atlanta Skyline Wedding

On Saturday, September 25, 2010 Christy Parker married Nick Eberts as the sun set over the Atlanta Skyline. It was an elegant affair at the Piedmont Room. With Plum and pewter accents throughout the venue and the romantic glow of candle light, it was truly a breath-taking scene. For the ceremony Amadeus Strings provided beautiful music, Dr.Jon Payne performed the nuptials, and the bride groom both laughed and cried.

Christy and Nick entertained their guests with both slow (lessons from Ballroom Dance Club) and fast dancing. And they weren’t the only ones on the dancefloor.Their reception was truly a great party. The groom was from New York and the bride from Atlanta, their favors: suckers- an apple and a peach.

Unique Event Entertainment!

A couple of weeks ago I assisted with the event coordination of the Atlanta Food Rave. The event itself was remarkable, 5 of Atlanta’s top chef’s competed to prepare food (live) for guests and to benefit the Atlanta Food Bank. But, the scene-stealing portion of the event was..Butt Sketches! What are “Butt Sketches” you ask? They are a pieces of art, charcoal sketches in live time of your entire back side. See the picture above. These artists are based in Austin, TX and take about 2 1/2 minutes per butt. Additionally, the artists incorporated sass, personality and accessories into the sketchs. Truly an entertaining and memorable part of any event, not to mention that you get to take the artwork home! Mine is framed and post on the wall of my living room. I absolutley love it!

Your wedding story?

Have you ever wanted to have your crazy wedding story told? Well this is the opportunity to get the tale heard. If you have a wedding disaster or mishap story from your or a friend’s/family member’s event we would love to hear it.

Below is a list of the topics (12) that we are searching for true stories about. If you have any personal experiences or know of anyone that has had any of them, please send me the story. All names, relevant details,etc. will be changed to protect the identity of the actual bride or groom. Please feel free to pass this request along to any of your friends, family, co-workers, etc.

1.) A bride that changed her mind a millions times (about flowers. colors, dresses, etc.)
2.) A (wedding) weather disaster that did not have a rain plan/alternate plan.
3.) Confusion or misunderstandings on who was paying for what in the wedding (parents, B&G, grandparents, etc.)
4.) A wedding that resulted in much more credit card debt than initially planned for.
5.) A bride that due to on-going wedding related communication: deleted an e-mail account, refused to answer her cell phone, etc.
6.) A bride that encountered less than supportive relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. concerning her wedding.
7.) A wedding mishap that resulted from a lack of communication between family members or wedding party.
8.) A bride that did not speak up about what she wanted and ended up: being dragged to a strip club for her bachelorette party, allowing a distant relative (cousin, etc.) to be in the wedding party despite preferring otherwise, etc.
9.) A wedding day beauty fiasco from having a grooming/ beauty service provided a day before the wedding (disastrous haircut. orange skin from spray tan, etc.)
10.) Any bride that set out to lose a large amount of weight or save an unreasonable amount of money (for the wedding) and was not able to accomplish the goal in time and thus there was a consequence (had to buy a new wedding dress, took on $15,000 in credit card debt, vendors did not show for insufficient payment).
11.) A wedding that was or was not saved by having wedding insurance.
12.) A bride that took on too many DIY projects for the wedding day and is showed (dead flowers in the bouquets, place cards that were sloppily hand-written, etc.)

I am planning to include these tales in my project and really appreciate all of you contributing or passing the request along. As stated before all story details will be changed and the contributor (and bride/groom) will remain anonymous. Please send all information to amber@beyondeventsatlanta.com

Thank you all so much!