Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Love....You

Ah - Valentine's Day. For some - this day holds anticipation, joy, glee (insert your own adjective here) while for others - it's a commercialized event that retailers worldwide have been licking their chops in a fervored frenzy over the past couple of months. As a wedding planner - I see many people getting engaged on this very day. Just think... dinner, a movie - AND a brand new diamond engagement ring! Then - it's off to the races, jumping into the fray we call the planning of a nuptial celebration.

But - can I put the brakes on things for just a minute???? In the midst of the fever that is Valentine's Day....with all it's accompanying glory, who stops to think about the notion of LOVE? Not the kind that Hallmark says, not the kind that DeBeer's touts, and definitely not the kind that comes courtesy of The kind of LOVE that I'm talking about - comes from within.

Through my years as a wedding consultant - and just through life period, I've noticed one common thread that makes for a great relationship. And while it has a lot to do with that ubiquitous word called "love", it's more about how each individual views themselves. It's all fine, well and good to wax poetic about the glorious feeling that you get when you are caught up in the emotion of being "in love", but to really give it all you've got - I think you have to be in love with yourself - FIRST.

In my extremely humble opinion - you can't profess undying love to someone else until you know for a fact that you are in love - with you. It's not about being conceited or narcissistic - it's about understanding just how important you are, it's about grasping the straw that is your emotion and knowing how it works - for you. Managing a relationship is arduous at best, but if you don't know who you are, how you "tick, what makes you glorious - trying to maintain a good, healthy love connection may prove to be difficult.

I see so many people over the course of a year - who come to me because they want my help in saying "I Do". My best advice to everyone - before you make that committment to someone else, be clear on your committment to self. See - when you love yourself, with all your shortcoming, failings, accomplishments and rewards, it makes the difficult task of being responsible enough to love someone else - a bit easier. When you are able to look in the mirror every day and say "I love you" and know that the response back will be "I love you, too" - then you're on the right track to developing and sustaining a wonderful relationship with a partner.
The ability to intrinsically love - well, it's amazing how deep your capacity to love others becomes.

So, go ahead.....look in the mirror and profess your undying love - for you.

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Snow???? YIPPEE!!!

Four little letters I love to put together - SNOW!! The weatherpeople (can't call em' weathermen anymore - we got the ladies handling their meteorological business too!!) are forecasting a winter storm for the mid-Atlantic area. Oh goody!!

I know it may sound a little silly - but I just absolutely adore the thought of a good snow "dunking"..we haven't had a nice snowfall in a minute around these parts, so I think it's time for one to show up!! If you live in my area - you know what will happen over the next 24 hours..folks will head out to the stores to load up on the "neccesities". They would be:
Toilet Paper???

For as long as I can remember - those three items have been at the top of the "snow shopping" list. My question is - why????? Seriously, unless you are like our neighbors to the north and inudated with over 100 inches of the white stuff, I'm going to have to say that I don't think you'll run out of the Charmin any time soon :)

However - my shopping list is:
Marshmallows (for the cinnamon/vanilla hot chocolate I make)
Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn
Chicken Wings (for my infamous buffalo wings)
Utz Potato Chips
Snyders Sourdough Pretzels
Lots of Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi (I don't like Coke - sorry!)
Red Hot Dollars and Swedish Fish (even though it sticks to my teeth!!)
A couple of bottles of Verdi (Raspberry Sparkletini & Peach - that stuff is so tasty & cheap at $4.99 a bottle)

So...I'll make sure that I've got all the fixings for a nice day or so inside watching the snow fall. When it's done, I'll go out with my children and play in it - I am such a big kid inside :) Here's to making the best snow angels ever!!!!!!!!

Face To Face

One of the first steps towards working with me (or any other professional wedding planner for that matter) is the "initial consultation". Long story short - this is the first time we meet, bride and groom-to-be along with yours truly so that we can begin the process of mapping out this special day.

I cannot impart to you how important this time is - for me, it's the first glimpse into your wedding world - as you know it. For you, it's the time for you to "check" me out..see what I'm like, what my philosophies are, but more importantly - find out whether or not we will be a good "fit". That notion of "fit" is a big one for me - 'cause to be perfectly honest, VIBE is one of the things I work on and with. If we gel and flow and move well together - chances are our wedding planning relationship will go just fine. On the other hand - if there are some "pings", that's usually an indicator to me (along with a few other tidbits), that we may not be suited for each other.

Each and every wedding planner is different - we have different theories, different styles, different ways of managing an event, so what works for one - is not going to float with another. And you - as a prospective client, need to be aware of that - your wedding planner is the ONE person who will know as much as you do , if not more about this big day. Trusting them implicitly is so important - you gotta be able to let go and let them do what they do best. Sitting down and taking the time to begin the initial discovery process is vital to the health of your wedding. For some consultants (me included) - you will be charged a fee for the meeting. That money represents their time and effort to be with you, bring forth ideas, opinions and to start the process of pulling together an extra-memorable occasion for you and those you love. Not every planner assesses a cost for the first meeting - but just because one does, it shouldn't preclude them from your consideration.

When you come to the meeting - be prepared. It's okay not to have a "slewbang" (that's my assistant Robilyn's favorite word for "a lot") of pictures, menus, etc. - but come ready to talk about your wedding! I'll want to know your inner thoughts and your fiance (e)'s too - it's this "fleshing out", that really leads to the core beliefs and ideas that will make your wedding unique and like any other. Many of my clients compare their first meeting with me to psychotherapy - they feel as if they've "pulled" so much out and that the process has been one of discovery. I find that to be true also - many couples come in thinking (to themselves) one thing, but during the course of our meeting - find out that their beloved is on a totally different track!!!

I had the pleasure of meeting with a lovely couple on yesterday (Saturday). Loni and Charles are so sweet and so into each other - which is something I like to see :) They came along with his mom (who was a pleasure also!) to talk about their 2008 wedding and how I could help them. During the course of the meeting - they had their own "discovery", and as such - it's giving them a better perspective on how to navigate this process. And that's a good thing - I make it a point to ensure that all of my clients are extremely clear - in the beginning, about the makings of a great wedding and all that's needed to make it a reality.......

Thursday, February 8, 2007

For The Love Of...Money

"The Benjamins", "dolla bills", "bank" - whatever your vernacular term might be, it's all the same thing - MONEY! And when it comes to the planning and creation of a wonderful wedding celebration, this is one object that plays an incredibly major role in all the "happenings".

You know, not a day goes by that I don't in some form or fashion have the "money" conversation with one of my current clients, a prospective client, a vendor or a member of my team. With the average wedding in the United States now weighing in at about $27,000 - we are talking some serious coin to throw a nuptial shindig in style!!! Now - before you even say it (or think it!!), I can tell you that a great wedding can be yours for the national average - it can also be done above that $27k or even below it. People - listen to what I say - it's about priorities, plain and simple.

One of the very first snippets of conversation I have with anyone who wants me to plan their wedding focuses on the amount of money available to fund this lovefest. You'd be surprised how many folks get the big REALITY CHECK when they are sitting in my cozy little studio, but that needs to happen. Make no mistake about it - weddings cost money. And speaking as a wedding service provider - the numbers that you as a bride or groom-to-be hear being bandied about are not some "pie in the sky", arbitrary figures we pulled out of a hat. They are real, factual costs that come along with putting together the celebration YOU want.

So...from my perspective and experience as a planner (yeah, those 14 years do count!!), let me share with you some "tips" that may make your view on spending for this day a bit easier:

1) If you have a modest budget (under that national average I quoted above), think about whether having 25 people in your wedding party plus an additional 300 guests is a good thing. Seriously.

2) What life will be like after you say "I Do"? Because on the next morning after the wedding - it will rear its ugly head and you need to face it. Don't try to take on this new existence with a mountain-load of nuptial debt. Spend your dollars you can look at your future together with clear, not rose-tinted glasses on.

3) This wedding is about YOU - not your best friend, not your parents, not your Aunt from Podedunk (who thinks she can plan your wedding better than anyone else!), not your neighbors - not anybody but the two of you. As a couple, you've have got to feel innately comfortable with what you are doing - and spending. If you know within your hearts and by looking at your checkbook, that you simply cannot afford to host a sit down dinner for 200 - so be it. Your brunch for 75 will be just as lovely, you will be surrounded by those who love you - and your bank account will thank you.

4) And while I'm on the subject of "people who love you" - that's who you should invite to the wedding. Weddings are not obligatory events, so just because you were in "so and so's wedding", they don't have to be a part of yours. I strongly believe in karma and good vibes - so for your own sanity and peace of mind, only invite people who you love to witness this magical joining. If you haven't seen them in a few years, don't talk to them much OR wouldn't even think about taking them out to dinner - you might want to reconsider having them on the guest list....

5) Don't be afraid to say "no" -to anyone or anything. If you aren't particularly enamored of something - say so. Believe me, your reluctance to speak up might cost you some $$$$$...

I speak from experience - weddings are seriously one of the most amazing, life-changing events. And they do cost money. But the key is to make your spending work for you - not against you. At the end of the day, you want to be able to look back and reminisce about the wonderful experience you had as your lives were joined and you celebrated the love, which in itself - is more valuable than any amount of money you can spend..........

Monday, February 5, 2007


This past weekend - I had the pleasure of producing a 20th anniversary party for a lovely couple, Ralph & Naomi. Honestly - to look at them, I would never guess that they've been married that long AND have an adult daughter! They came to me for help with creating a memorable "shindig" and I think we accomplished that goal. The photo you see here - was THE dinner table! Set for 50 guests, it was a wonderful sea of rich silk, velvety roses and candlelight - 216 amber votive candles to be exact. There was also another couple of hundred or so (but who's counting??) additional candles added within the mansion to give it a nice, romantic touch.......

Ralph and Naomi's guests enjoyed a fabulous four course dinner, complete with a delicious iced martini bar that was the HIT of the night. There were three signature potions to sample including: The Washington Apple Martini (made with Crown Royal and cranberry juice), The Fuzzy Navel Martini (decadently delish with mandarin orange juice, peach schnapps AND peach vodka) and last, but certainly not least - The Tiramisu Martini, redolent with Godiva chocolate liqueur, VanGogh Expresso Vodka and a spicy cinnamon/sugar rimmed glass.

Martini bars and other such "spirited" displays are really big at weddings and special events - for good reason. They are a great way to have alcohol at your party AND it's a lot less expensive than having a full open bar. You can always round out the offerings with beer, wine, soda and voila! You've got a great conversation piece - and your guests will enjoy sampling the various liquid refreshments :)

Radio-One's Bridal Extravaganza

I was asked to be the guest speaker for Radio-One's Annual Bridal Show on January 28th - and it was an honor for me. I had two opportunities to "chat" with all of the brides and grooms-to-be that attended this event...and I think all of us had a good time!!

I really enjoy getting out and meeting folks - and sharing with them the good, the bad as well as the ugly (yes....sometimes stuff can get heinious!!) of planning a wedding. My time on stage gave me a chance to talk about the "hot" trends in nuptial designs for the 2007 wedding season (can you say "black & white"!) as well as take questions from the audience on wide ranging topics such as "how much does a wedding really cost?" to "how do I politely ask for money as a wedding gift?" Answer to the second question - there is no polite way. Guests are invited to your wedding to share in the joy that is your celebration - that's it. Should they feel inclined to give you something, so be it. If not - accept their well wishes, and treasure the memories of their attendance at your big event!!

Confession Is Good For The Soul.....

Is how the saying goes. Many of my colleagues in the wonderful world of weddings and special events have incredible blogs, and me being the "voyeur" that I am..I've visited all of them! It's really good to see and experience the worlds of others through their words and pictures. So, when the opportunity presented itself for yours truly to enter the "blogging universe" - I jumped at it!!

In these missives, I hope to share with anyone who'll read - what my profession is all about. I think that many folks have a misguided view of what a wedding planner does - it is SO NOT like the movies or television (even though I'm on a television show - I keep it real!!). My job is all encompassing, requiring much due diligence, careful thought, crazy ramblings (yes - I do talk to myself and on many occasions, I answer back!), innovative ideas, the patience of a saint, the skin of an alligator - but always, the soul of an artist.

I really think I have one of the best jobs on earth - it's very much like being a midwife, I get to be present at the "birth" of a new relationship, a new place in a couple's life. And I get to hear the first cries, see the first smile, the first kiss....all of the things that go into making a wedding celebration one of the best times in life.....what could be better????