Monday, February 27, 2012

Do’s, Don’ts and I Don’t Think So’s | North Carolina Wedding Planner

When planning your wedding, you try hard to think about every tiny detail, but considering that this may be your first time planning a wedding, there’s a lot you don’t know to look out for.

I’m sure everyone that you know that is already married is throwing tons of advice at you and it can be way too much to absorb, but I have put together a few Do’s, Don’ts, and I Don’t Think So’s to help guide your way.


Hire a wedding coordinator! I cannot ever stress this point enough. A lot of brides think a planner is a waste of money and that you can do-it-yourself, but a coordinator is a necessity! A wedding coordinator will come in the day of your wedding, or as early as the day of your rehearsal, and make sure that everything goes off without a hitch. A coordinator will deal with all of your vendors and ensure that your contracts and wishes are being carried out properly, the keep everyone on schedule, etc. This is NOT the bride’s job and you should not be worrying about any of this on your wedding day!

And no, I do not think that Cousin Suzy can do it or should do it. Hire a professional, whether it is me or another wonderful coordinator. You’ve invited your family and friends to your wedding to experience the joy of your marriage with you not to work for you. Plus, a professional coordinator knows exactly what to do and how to avoid any pitfalls or problems that may arise. (See our post about the Importance of a Wedding Planner, it has tons of great info about coordinators too!)

Have a potty plan. I know this sounds ridiculous, but think about it, once that big, beautiful wedding dress is on, how in the world are you going to use the bathroom? You will need help, whether that’s your maid of honor’s job or your new hubby is willing to help. Someone has to hold up all that dress so you can go. I always suggest that my brides go right before putting on the dress. That at least limits how many times you have to go with the dress on. Ok, enough potty talk.

Give a speech/toast. The bride & the groom should always give a toast. Whether you prefer to stand together and give one toast or each give one separately, this is a must, regardless of the length. At the very least, you need to thank your guests for coming. If you are shy or nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, perhaps your groom can give them speech while you stand with him. You don’t both have to speak, but it’s nice if you do. If you’re both shy, practice the speech with each other, your parents, or your bridal party. It may be best to write down the speech so you don’t have to remember it or make something up on the spot. This is also the perfect way to kick off toasts at your reception!


Assume. Everyone knows what happens when you assume, so I don’t see any reason to repeat a worn out old quote here. No one can see the visual inside your head of the wedding you’ve been dreaming of.

Make sure that everything is written down! I cannot stress this enough. People forget things and everyone makes mistakes. When you sign contracts with your vendors, make sure everything you want is included in the contract, don’t assume that they just know that you want something. Write it down! Please know, this is not an invitation to bring out the bridezilla, be polite but insist that everything be in writing.

Spend it all. If you’re sitting on a gold mine, by all means, spend away. However, most brides are working on some kind budget and spending thousands of dollars on a wedding is enough to give them a panic attack. The economy is rough right now and everyone needs to be thinking about their future.

While I love weddings, we all have to acknowledge that this really is only one day. This day is to celebrate the life you are going to create with this one person, so leave a little something in the bank to create this life.

Don’t create unrealistic expectations for your budget. I always ask my clients which 3 aspects of the wedding are most important to them. This could be an amazing dinner, or that fabulous photographer, or a rocking DJ. Everyone has different priorities and if you focus on the details that are most important, you achieve the wedding you’ve dreamed of without going bankrupt!

I Don’t Think So:

Getting the cheapest photographer. Not everyone puts this in their top 3 most important aspects of their wedding. However, I always tell my clients to reconsider. When your wedding day is over what will you have to remember it? That excellent cake? I don’t think so. The most sought after band? Nope. All you’ll have are the memories of that wonderful day. What better way to recall those memories than pictures?! A photographer and/or videographer may be the only tangible item you’re left with after your big day.

Even if you don’t think they’re worth the money now, how about in 20 years? These pictures will only increase in value over the years. They are worth every penny.

This does not mean that you need to choose the most expensive photographer either! Shop around, look at their portfolios, and choose the photographer whose style matches yours and you feel can truly capture the magic of this very special day.

Drinking dark drinks. This seems pretty obvious, but I’m guessing many of you hadn’t even thought of “restricting” your beverages at the reception.  Think about it, you spent all this money on the perfect WHITE dress, do you really want to ruin it with a huge red wine stain? You’ll be nervous, people will bump into you, and you’re likely to spill. Do you really want to waste precious moments of your evening trying to salvage a ruined dress?
So, stick to light colored beverages or white wines and know that if you spill, a skilled wedding coordinator will have stain remover with them.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Simple Ways To Dress Up Your Chairs | North Carolina Wedding Planner

Every bride thinks about the perfect dress, the centerpieces, pretty programs, and just the right flowers. The one item in all of the beautiful décor that is typically forgotten is actually one of the most seen…the chairs.
Chair covers can be expensive depending on the number of guests but there are tons of great ways to dress up all of your chairs at the reception, just a row or two at the reception, or even just the chairs meant for the bride and groom. From ribbons & bows to Mr. & Mrs. signs, the ideas are endless.
We’ve pinned several of our favorite ideas on our Pinterest. Check them out and let us know what you think. Surely you can find one that fits your style and you’ll get to listen to your guests rave about the décor with very little work on your part.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Party Inspiration Saturdays {Up!} | North Carolina Wedding Planner

"Up!" was such a whimsical and beautiful movie and creates the perfect setting for a fun birthday party. Check out some of our favorite ideas for an "Up!" themed birthday party.
You can also follow us on Pinterest for even more great inspiration.
I love these balloon bunch cupcakes!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Featured Wedding: Jessica & Tommy | Jamestown, North Carolina Wedding Planner

Jessica and Tommy were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony on Castle McCulloch's Hillside Terrace.

Their reception followed immediately afterwards with a gorgeous cocktail hour, delicious dinner, and dancing inside the Crystal Garden.

They paid tribute to the groom's mother with a unity candle during the ceremony. They included both of their daughters with special dances during the reception.

It was a blessing to get to be a part of such an amazing couple's wedding day.

Planning/Coordination provided by Any Way You Want It Weddings & Events

Monday, February 13, 2012

Planners & Coordinators…What’s the Big Difference? | North Carolina Wedding Planner

When planning a wedding, I always suggest that my clients make a list of things they must have, things they would like to have, and things they don’t want. I always insist that a wedding coordinator is on the must-have list! The first question I get when I tell them this is always the same, “what is the difference between a planner and a coordinator?”
In some instances they are the same. For example, if a client purchases a planning package with Any Way You Want It Weddings & Events, they automatically receive a coordination package. It is already built into every planning package. However, the role of the planner and the role of the coordinator are actually quite different.
A wedding coordinator is the person there the day of the wedding, and the rehearsal, to direct (coordinate) your wedding. They are there to do all of the hands-on work at the rehearsal, ceremony, and/or reception. The coordinator’s job is to make sure that everything you’ve planned goes smoothly. They will oversee every detail. Their duties will include, but are not limited to, vendor management and ensuring that contracts are being followed through (i.e. that all of your must see photos are being taken), keeping everyone on schedule, keeping the bridal party in all the right places, keeping the guests happy and making sure that you have everything you need.
A wedding planner is a little more self-explanatory. They plan weddings. They can be hired at any point in the planning process, but they are there from that point on. They will visit vendors with you, give you referrals, help you negotiate prices, help develop the theme and style of your wedding, help you stay within your budget, and be there to offer advice, tips, and answer questions. They are really there for everything.
I always use the same reference when explaining the difference between these two roles. The movie, “The Wedding Planner”. The movie starts with Jennifer Lopez, Mary, at a wedding. She has all of the proper “tools” and know-how to make the wedding run smoothly. She is there to solve and avert every problem. This is the role of the coordinator.

Throughout the rest of the movie she is helping Steve & Fran plan their wedding. From touring the venue to picking out flowers, she is there for everything. This is the role of the planner.
The biggest difference between the two is that a wedding planner is not a must. DIY brides are all the rage right now and I get that. I was a DIY bride. It’s the perfect way to put your own touch on your very special day. There are tons of planning books and resources that can help you plan for the big day, but when it comes to the day of your wedding you can’t expect to be able to do it all. You’re going to be a bit busy.
The next thing a lot of brides say is, “can’t my friend just coordinate the wedding for me?” They sure can, but is that really what you want them to do? However, unless your friend is a wedding coordinator they probably don’t know what all they need to stay on top of. They probably won’t talk with the vendors and make sure they are set up properly and sticking to their contracts, she won’t keep an eye on little things like spills or overflowing trash and making sure they’re taken care of right away. Most importantly, wouldn’t you rather that they were able to enjoy the day instead of running around and working hard all day? And trust me it is hard work.
If you’re still not sold, talk to a bride who didn’t think it was important to hire a coordinator. Any that I have spoken to have regretted it tremendously, me included. See our blog entry, “The Importance of a Wedding Planner,” for the whole story.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the bride running around making sure that the favors are set out just so and that all of the guests received the proper entrée. Even small things like finding toilet paper if the bathrooms run out take up time that you could be spending enjoying your wedding. You may say that you won’t worry about these little details, but when you think about how hard you’ve worked to make this day perfect do you really think you’ll just stop worrying about it on your wedding day if there’s no one there to take care of it all for you?
You want a perfect wedding, we all do, but perfection is hard work and hard work is the last thing a bride should be doing on her wedding day!!
So, my point, hire a coordinator…and a good one at that! I’d be even happier if there was a wedding planner to go along with that coordinator, but one is better than none!
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and happy planning!!

Check back next week for the start of our décor series!

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Find The Perfect Wedding Planner | North Carolina Wedding Planner

How many of you have visited sites like “The Knot” or “Wedding Wire” looking for vendors? How many have typed “wedding vendors” into “Google”? I’m guessing most of you. I know I did all of these when I was planning my wedding.
Since I was the first of my friends to get married I had no one to turn to for great referrals and I had to find great vendors on my own. I can say that despite everything I know now that I did wrong in planning my wedding, I certainly did find some great vendors.
The first important tip I can give you about picking a planner is very simple. Just because a planner shows up as a top result on Google, The Knot, Wedding Wire, or any other big site does not mean they are the best! It just means that they are spending more on advertising.
The second tip is to ask any of your friends or relatives that have recently married or attended a wedding, probably within the last 5 years or so, if they know of any great planners. Listen to what they have to say. Word of mouth referral is the best tool at your disposal.
Once you have a couple of names, whether you’ve found them online or been referred to them, look at their website before you call or email them. Their website says a lot about them. They should have pictures of other events that they have done. What do you think of them? They should have testimonials somewhere on their website. What are past brides saying about them? This should give you a great feel for the quality of work that they will provide for your big day.
At this point, you should have narrowed down your choices at least a little bit. The next thing I would recommend is to Google the remaining planners. Are there any negative reviews? A great place to find reviews is actually on Wedding Wire. Unlike The Knot, it is free for vendors to advertise here so many vendors will probably have an ad and past clients can leave reviews directly on the vendors page. Wedding Wire will give you an overall score, out of 5 stars, for each vendor, allow you to read all of the reviews, good or bad, and see the score that each bride gave that vendor. If you take this route and a vendor has all good reviews, please know that vendors cannot remove a bad review. Only Wedding Wire can remove them and that is only done if it is proven that the review was not accurate.
By now you should have a very manageable list, or maybe you’ve even narrowed it down to only one or two planners. This is the time to contact them and the earlier in the wedding planning process the better. Even if you’re only planning to hire a coordinator, they give great advice and often will include vendor referrals in their coordinating package, at least we do.
I suggest emailing each planner, it saves you some time and it’s a simple way to provide the potential planners with the important information about your wedding. You’ll want to include in the email which package you are interested in. This information should be listed on their website. If not, try to be specific about what you are looking for in a planner or coordinator.
When you email, or call, them be prepared to provide them with the following:
Your name
Your fiancé’s name
Your contact information – phone, email, etc
Your wedding date, time, & location (if known)
Your budget
Your headcount
The style & theme of your wedding

Some planners may have an information sheet for you to fill out and others may require a meeting with you, but this should provide them with most of the information they will need to get started. And again, don’t forget to tell them what package you are interested in.

Once your emails are sent, you’ll be well on your way to receiving quotes from these planners and/or coordinators. When you start receiving quotes, you will need to compare their prices, services, and even their personalities. Which one fits your budget? Which one offers you the most for the money? Which one can you picture yourself working with?

The most important piece of advice that I can give you is this, do not choose a planner or coordinator based solely on price. If there is a planner that you absolutely want to work with but their prices are too high, you may be able to remove a few services to bring the price down. At this point, be honest with the planner. If you really want to hire them but really can’t swing the price, talk to them. A good planner can probably help you remedy the problem. They may even be able to create a custom package for you.

So whether you decide to hire Any Way You Want It Weddings & Events or another planner, choose the one that feels like the right fit and will make your wedding day dreams come true!
Check back next week for Planners & Coordinators…What’s the Big Difference?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Party Inspiration Saturday {Lego Party} | North Carolina Party Planner

A LEGO party would be great for any little boy. From LEGO cookies to decor built completely out of LEGOs, this party would be so much fun to put together and perfect for any DIY mom!

Check out some of our favorite ideas and don't forget to follow us on Pinterest for even more inspiration.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Featured Wedding: Lindsay & Hutch | Gastonia, North Carolina Wedding Planner

Lindsay & Hutch were married during a beautiful nuptial mass at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Gastonia, NC. The wedding guests were invited to take part in communion with this wonderful couple.

The reception that followed was absolutely breathtaking and The Vineyard was the perfect setting. It was made complete by a video toast sent by Hutch's brother, stationed in Afghanistan.


Planning/Coordination provided by Any Way You Want It Weddings & Events

Ceremony Venue: St. Michael's Catholic Church

Reception Venue: The Vineyard

Photography by Emily Renee Photography

Bakery: Cakes By Whit

Catering: Taste & See Family Catering

DJ: Johnny Colvard DJ Mobile Service