Friday, April 1, 2011

The RealityCHECK Series: How Much Wedding You Can Get For $6000

My RealityCHECK Series continues this week using the lovely total of $6000.  $6k to get married?  Yes.  Follow along.............

Core Factor:  When your dollars are short, tight, meager, modest - you have to be extremely realistic about what's doable...and what isn't.  Sure, it might be nice to invite everyone you know to celebrate your marriage, but in reality - it's not possible.  I don't care what the magazines, blogs and television shows tell you...having 200 guests + a wedding budget of $6k = no bueno y not happening. {so much for my Spanish!}.

What you can have is a emphatically intimate event - surrounded by those few people who mean the most to the BOTH of you.  Love is always the common denominator, so that alone is a really huge gift.  Think small, think tailored, think unique.  Here's what I've come up with for a spending parameter of approimately $6000:

Wedding Party:
Now is NOT the time for 25 bridesmaids and groomsmen, 4 flower girls and three ringbearers (side note: I've always wondered WHY people have more than two ringbearers in the wedding - there are only TWO rings!!).  Do you have a best friend/homegirl who has supported you in this relationship? Fine - she's your maid or matron of honor.  Does he have a buddy that has traveled with him through thick and thin?  Perfect - he gets the job of best man.  

Notice - I didn't mention anyone else.  That's on purpose because honestly, you cannot afford to have a full blown "court" of belles and beaus standing up there with you.  Hey...I'm just keeping it real.

Wedding Guests:
Just like the wedding party - keep it simple.  On the low end, 15 guests.  On the higher part of the totem pole, 45-50 people.  Remember - you have to FEED these folks, so that needs to be on the front-burner as you move forward with this planning.

Venue {ceremony}:
You can opt for either a civil ceremony or a religious one.  Depending on your location, a classic civil ceremony can range from $40 - $75.  It's short and sweet - nothing more, nothing less.  If you decide to get married in a place of worship, your cost to have the ceremony in their location will vary based on the policies they have in place.  Some churches/temples allow current members in good standing to get hitched at no cost, while others assess a fee.  If you do not belong to a congregation - the work gets a little trickier, as many churches don't "rent out" their facilities to non-members.  The ones that do will charge a fee, which can be as low as $200 or as high as $3k (which is so NOT in your budget!).  Also, consider getting married at home.  Yep - at home.

Cost: Free (at your home) to $600 (rented facility/house of worship)

Venue {reception}:
If you took the civil ceremony route, consider hosting lunch or dinner at a favorite eatery - you can get a prix-fixe (price fixed) menu at a great rate which will save you considerable dollars.  Going out to celebrate can also work if you've decided to get married in a church - when the "I Do's " are said, everyone heads to their cars and over to the locale you've chosen.

Option B: Host a "receiving reception" after the ceremony {this works really well if you were married in a place of worship}.  This type of gathering is your basic "cake and punch" affair, where you and your new spouse meet and greet your guests in the facility's fellowship hall or other communal area.  Wedding cake and a sparkling punch are on the menu, the time committment is short (under 2  hours).  Or, as I mentioned previously - get married at home.

Costs: Free (at your place of residence)  - $400 (house of worship)

The Reception (Food/Beverage):
This is the one part of the budget which takes the biggest hit.  It costs money to feed folks - period.  So if you've got a tight budget - think smartly and wisely about your food components.  I'm going to put this out there because it's the truth:  YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A RECEPTION.  There are no wedding police or matrimonial gods who are going to hunt you down if a reception is not in your cards.  Seriously.

A reception is truly designed to celebrate your marriage - and you can make that happen in so many ways:
1) The aforementioned "receiving reception":  Once you've said "I DO", have some cake and punch available for people to enjoy as you make your rounds - hugging everyone, getting kissed on the cheek and in general, being wished well as you embark on a new journey.  Your honor attendants (and parents, if you wish) can make toasts, you can smile and you can enjoy being surrounded by those who love you.  The cost of this reception style is very can get cake from the local bakery (or supermarket for sheet sizes), have a family friend whip up a tasty punch using juices and sodas,  purchase high quality dessert plates, forks, cups and napkins from a party store, rent a simple linen for your service table....and voila!  Reception!

2) The "lunch" or "dinner" scenario:  You'd be surprised at how reasonable group rates are at local establishments are, especially mid-week.  Many area restaurants have private or semi-private spaces available within their properties that can host you and your guests.  What a wonderful way to celebrate - you arrive, you are served a marvelous meal, you are with the people that matter most AND you don't have to clean up :)

Costs: $25 per person (lunch) to $50 per person (dinner)

In my previous post which started off this series, I mentioned that a lot of people do not include the cost of theire wedding day "finery" in the overall spending budget.  I'm going to keep that same train of thought here with a "caveat" - If you wish to buy a traditional wedding dress and make it a part of the budget, think SMART.  Check out sample sales at local bridal stores, use the Internet to score huge deals on previously worn dresses or for discontinued items that retailers are trying to get rid of, and of course - take a gander at the dresses available for $99 at David's Bridal (or similar chain store).  Smart shopping CAN net you a beautiful dress that originally cost a fortune, but now the price is just RIGHT for your pocketbook!

Costs: The range runs the gamut from "not in the budget" to $399 (for a pre-owned dress or discontinued item).  For the groom - he can wear his own classic dark dress suit or splurge and rent a tuxedo.  Count on $69 - $125 for his formal rental attire.

Wedding Rings: 
The tangible symbol or representation to the world that you are "hitched".  While some couples don't include it in their budget, others do.  Take a look at estate sales, the Internet (QVC has some great deals on jewelry), the membership warehouses like Sam's Club or Costco, and.....Walmart.  Yes...Walmart - that bastion of consumer discounts sells wedding rings and bands.  At a low cost.  And they're not too shabby either.  Look, if you're worried about what people will "think" because your ring came from a non-traditional source, I'm here to tell you - DON'T.  It's none of their business and none of their concern.  You and your soon-to-be husband or wife have a life to live after this is all over, so unless someone else is willingly forking up dollars to fund your nuptials, they have nothing to say. {rant over - thanks for listening!}

Costs: $0 - $500

While you could just "spread the word" amongst those you wish to attend, a $6000 budget will allow you to have a bit of "paper collateral" for this occasion.  If you're crafty enough and have the TIME to devote to the project - make your own.  If not - professionals can handle the job for you.  You can browse online at the myriad of stationers and companies who offer low cost invitations while also checking out local vendors who can create something simply unique for your event.

Word of caution: An invitation sets the tone of an event.  Even if you're opting for the DIY route - make sure it's clean, tasteful and nice.  Just because it's "homemade", it shouldn't look as if you had your children do the work.  And it shouldn't look cheap - shop around for the nice papers and finished envelopes.  Many of the craft retailer such as Michaels or the large office supply stores like Staples have pre-made "kits" that are super simple and pretty at the same time.

Costs: $19.99 - $200

Within this spending range - you can get a few fresh florals into the picture.   Bouquets for the bride and her honor attendant, boutionierres for the groom and his best man.  If your parents or other primary family "figures" (meaning the persons who basically reared you) will be in attendance - spring for a tailored corsage and/or boutionierre for them also.  I'm not talking about giving EVERYONE in your family a flower..just the parental "units".  They deserve it.

When it comes to flowers as decor, I'll say this much: Consider a nice centepiece for your dining table..and call it a day. 

Costs: $175 (if you hit up your local supermarket) to $350 if you utilize the services of a traditional florist

My earlier post mentioned getting a professional to come in and shoot your ceremony - I still think it's a great idea, even with a $5000 budget.  But in this case - add a little more time on..have them shoot the ceremony and your post I DO celebration.  For about 3 hours of their time and your images on a CD, you could spend anywhere from $650 to $800 - depending on where you live and the expertise of the photographer.  These are definitely "photos to remember" :)

Cost: $650 - $800 

Wedding Cake:
What's a wedding without cake?  No matter how much you have to spend (or not), this is a time-honored "tradition" that should be included at every nuptial shindig!  For a small guest count - look at doing a decorated sheet cake or talk with a local bakery about making a two tiered traditional wedding confection.

Costs: $30 (for a half sheet cake) to $200 for a two tiered traditional wedding cake

This catergory is "event location dependent" - meaning where you decide to wed will help influence your decision to have music present..or not.   If you're going the house of worship route, ask if the organist can play processional and recessional music for you...or if a musically gifted friend/relative would be able to do the honors.  If the church/temple has sound equipment available, also think about burning your selected songs to a CD and having them played.

For your reception - recorded music is a viable option.  The cake and punch reception we were talking about earlier is the right setting for some great background sounds.  If you are at a restaurant, 99% of the time, there is soft music playing in the distance for ambiance....

Costs: $0 (for family/friend tinkling the ivories or burning your own CD/IPod playlist) to $150 for church organist services  

My suggestion for this area is going to be simple:  Carry yourselves.  Save the money.

Cost: $0 

The cost will vary based on whether or not you're using a Clerk Of The Court or your own religious leader.

Cost: $50 - $150

Marriage License:
This is what makes you married - not the ceremony :)

Cost: $35 - $75

Honeymoon: (I left the "goodies" for last...on purpose)
In the first installment of this series, I extolled the virtue of a one-nighter for your honeymoon.  Guess what?  I'm going to do it again - but we'll extend it for the weekend!  Consider becoming a tourist in your own city and spend a couple of glorious days doing so.  I live in Maryland, so at our doorstep lies the splendor of the mountains to the west, the frolicking surf of the beaches to the east and extremely cool metropolitan life in our largest city, Baltimore or just 40 miles south in the nation's capitol - Washington, DC.  Many hotels and resorts offer midweek and weekend packages that can fit your budget and give you the chance to "escape" to that romantic land known as the honeymoon :)

Cost: $250 - $500 (depending on locale and property) 

When we bring out the trusty calculator and add it UP = here's what we've got:
Venue (Ceremony): $0 - $600
Venue (Reception): $0 - $400
Food Costs (Reception): $25 - $50 pp/$375 -{15 guests:low end} or $2500 -{50 guests:high end}
Attire: $0 - $399 (bride)/ $0 - $125 (groom)
Wedding Rings: $0 {out of the budget}  - $500
Invitations: $19.99 - $200
Flowers: $175 - $350
Photography: $600 - $800
Wedding Cake: $30 -$200
Music: $0 - $150
Transportation: $0
Officiant: $50 - $150
Marriage License: $35 - $75
Honeymoon: $250 - $400

On the lower end of the scale, you'll spend approximately $1234.00 - using your home for the ceremony and reception.  At the other end of the spectrum, should you want to "go" more, the cost is around $6849 {$849 beyond the original cost...see how things add up?}.  If the attire and rings aren't a part of the picture, delete $1024 and you're at $5825!!
So...there you have it.  A wedding for around $6k or less.  Now it's your turn - tell me what you think!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The RealityCHECK Series: How Much Wedding You Can Get For...$1000

I decided to start off the series with the very round figure of $1000.  And yes - you can get married for 1k..more or less.  Seriously.  Here's how:

You'll go to the courthouse, Justice Of The Peace or the pastor's study and say "I DO"

The cost: Depends on what the current rate is in your region for a civil wedding ceremony or the "love offering" your pastor may ask for.  This will be a short, simple ceremony.  Approximate time from "Dearly Beloved" to "I now pronounce you husband and wife"? 12 minutes (15 if the officiant is a bit "long-winded").  $50 to $150

Bouquet for the bride, boutionierre for the groom

The cost: $75 - $200 (lower if you get the blooms from a supermarket, higher if you go to a florist)

None.  This is a "tell everyone" kind of situation.  So you will inform those persons who need to know via conversations, phone call, text message (I'm serious about that one...know of a couple who did it!).  Here's the rub:  A ceremony of this nature is NOT going to have a guest list of 100.  Generally, it's the bride & groom..maybe their parents and maybe a couple of other "special" folks.  No one else makes the cut...

The Cost: $0

You can go fancy or simple.  I've seen full length gowns & tuxedos and I've seen street-length dresses and suits.  I've also seen sundresses and shorts (but that's another story..).  It is still your wedding day, so getting a new dress for the occasion isn't such a bad idea.

The Cost: $0 (if you're wearing someting already present in your wardrobe) to $500.....let's say that while men are easy-peasy with this, women aren't.  Wanna shoot your budget?  Clothing will do it!!

It's 12-15 minutes tops.  Think about that.

The Cost:  Time spent downloading the playlist on your IPod {if you must have something playing in the background}

Even if your budget is miniscule, you should still have images of your day.  A professional photographer can come in to shoot your ceremony..then hand over the memory card to you.  No editing, just raw footage.  It's a great way to get decent shots....and not Cousin Pookie's "shaking hand" version of your "I Do's". 

The Cost: $200 - $375 {depending on photographer's hourly rate}*
*Note:  You can always go in the other direction and just have a family friend snap a few photos.  They won't be professional in quality, but you'll have documentation of your day.  Cost? $0.

The Cost: $0.  You'll use your own................

MAKING IT OFFICIAL: {i.e. the marriage license}
Next to transportation, it's probably the least expensive thing on the list - but totally necessary in order to become Mr. & Mrs. :)

The Cost: $35 - $75 (depending on jurisdiction and domicile)

On a budget of $1000, a nice lunch or dinner at your favorite restaurant is definitely the way to go.  If it's just the two of can't be any easier (or less expensive!).  Should you want to invite a few close friends, then you need to PAY for them.  DO NOT, under any circumstances,  ask them to pick up their own tab.   Actually - that goes for any wedding event.  No matter what your spending looks like, guests are just that - GUESTS!  They should not have to come out of pocket for their food, beverages or parking.  You're the host - the expense is in your ballpark.

The Cost: This is the largest variable - $50 {lunch for two} or $300 {lunch for six}.  And I mention lunch, simply because it's the most cost effective and most civil ceremonies occur during the day..when court offices are open.

Nothing like a little something sweet to celebrate your new union!  You can get "romantic" and purchase one single, delicious slice from your favorite bakery - and later on that evening, feed each other while sipping on a bit of bubbly!  Or...if you've opted for lunch with friends, consider getting a 6" cake from a bakery to share with everyone present.

The Cost: $1.25 to $5.00 {per slice} or $15 to $50 {per 6" cake} - depending on bakery

The outward symbol of saying "I'm married now!"  I have found that no matter what the budget is, most people choose to leave the cost of their rings OUT of the mix.  Why?  I think it's because this is one area where the dollars don't matter.  For many, the ring is the ONE tangible display of their marriage, so they'll purchase what they like.

The Cost:  not included in the overall spending

Even if it's just for one night....most couples WANT to get away and have some "alone" time.  Consider booking an evening at a wonderful hotel or bed and breakfast in your area so you can bask in the "Mr. & Mrs." of it all :)  And, shop around...many hotels offer weeknight specials that include room amenities and breakfast the next day....

The Cost: $150 to $300 {based on area hotel rates}

So, when we do the overall math - here's what it looks like:

Ceremony: $50 - $150
Flowers: $75 - $200
Invitations: $0
Attire: $0 - $500
Music: $0
Photography: $0 - $375
Transportation: $0
License: $35 - $75
Reception: $50 - $300
Wedding Cake: $1.25 - $5.00 {per slice} or $15 - $50 {per 6" cake} 
Honeymoon: $150 - $300 {overnight stay at a local hotel or inn}

To sum it all up - on the low end, you'll spend approximately $375.  On the higher end....count on $1900.  Yes...I know $1900 is more than $1000.  There's the reality check of it all for you :)  Please know that depending on where you're getting hitched, these "numbers" can be higher or lower.

So...what do you think?  This is how I see it, based on my experience in the industry and simple, raw numbers as I know them to be true in my area.  Comments, insight, criticisms and witticisms are welcomed.....

The RealityCHECK Series: How Much Wedding Can You Get For $$$$?

This blog topic has been a LONG time coming. And the following dialogue is why: 

Me: "So....what have you and your fiance' discussed as far as wedding budgets/parameters/spending is concerned?"

Prospective Client:  "Um...we're looking at $10,000"

Me:  "And that's for how many guests and it will include?"

Prospective Client: "oh, 300 guests.  And we'd like to have sit-down dinner, open bar with specialty drinks, lighting, over-the-top florals, rental linen, custom cake, live band & D.J., engraved invitations and 3 limos."

Me:  **Blank Stare**

I'm not joking.  Not in the least.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've had couples sit in my studio and pretty much have that EXACT conversation with me..word for word.  And yes - I have given them the "blank stare".   Once I compose myself (trust me, it only takes a couple of seconds), the harsh reality of it all sets in and I take on a new role as EDUCATOR.  There's a real bottom line here:  Most people have no idea what a wedding really COSTS simply because they've never had to put one together nor do they have any concept of what market pricing looks like.  It really is that simple.

So.....I'm going to spend the next few blog posts giving you the "skinny" on costs.  I'll keep it really straightforward, no sugar coating or "lip glossing" - because that's not going to help things at all.  In order to have a wedding, well - at least one that's not at the courthouse or JOP's office, you have to shell out some dollars.  The amount of $$$$$ you cough up are highly dependent on a few factors such as:
Location (geographics)
Time of year (yes....January is less expensive than June)
Number of guests (75 guests can be easier on your wallet than 400!)
Time of day (I know - not everyone is an "early bird..but it can help you save $$$!)
Your level of "realism" (what you want vs. what you can AFFORD)

The media and the Internet have truly contributed to this phenomenon.  And I mean that honestly.  You see all of the lovely gorgeousness splashed over the pages of magazines, on websites, in blogs, on television and of course, you WANT it for your big day.  But um...there's this little thing called money which has to come into play.  With the exception of a couple of "outlets"'re not told how MUCH that eye candy costs.  So you "assume" that your dollars can cover it.  That's your first mistake

Wedding planning professionals such as myself, can and SHOULD school you really quick on what's doable and more importantly, what isn't.  Because we work so closely with other service providers in the industry, we can give you the "run down" on approximate dollar amounts because we see them every day.  And you need to listen.  Carefully.  Please.  Trust me.

What ever dollar amount is sitting in your bank account or checkbook for this occasion - well, it's what you have.  You can do a great wedding on any amount, as long as you are CLEAR about what said money is going to get you.  That goes back to the realism factor I mentioned is what it is.  If all you have is $10k..well, that means all you have is ten thousand dollars.  And it's only going to go so far.  Remember the "conversation" I had with the client?  Yeah....$10k was NOT a reasonable thought process.  And I told them so.....

Stay tuned for the rest of the series.  I welcome your comments and thoughts....this is a ripe area for discussion, not only from industry professionals, but consumers also.  The best clients (for me) are educated ones........

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Morning After.............

There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on looking for the light...

Singer Maureen McGovern released "The Morning After" in 1973 and it's always been one of my favorites {guess that tells you how old I am, right?}.  And after all of the buzz and hoopla that has commonly become known as Valentine's Day, I thought the lyrics were perfectly fitting. 

On yesterday, a bunch of people asked "Will You Marry Me" and an equal amount replied "YES!". The sheer excitement and glow of that moment is one that should be treasured and savored for a minute, simply because you won't get it again.  And since I'm a practical romantic -  I feel the need to poke my head in for a second and give you this advice:  WAIT FOR IT.

And I mean that literally - WAIT for the "edge" to come off and for your breathing to return to normal levels.  Do NOT start the wedding planning process me.  Shoot - this post I penned right after the holidays says it better.  Read it..and you'll see what I mean :)

SN {side note}:  The art of love is a 24/7, 365 kinda thing.  So learn to share it EVERY day..don't wait for February 14th to display that emotion..............   

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Requiem For A Wedding - The Real Housewives Of Atlanta: Planning

First up in my "composition": THE PLANNING.  Or lack thereof.  Let's have some "real talk" - shall we?

I am a wedding planner.  A professional one who prides herself on the skill set I possess.  One said "skill" is the fine art of actually pulling together the framework, nuts, bolts and all of the other "pieces" needed to make a wedding celebration gorgeous AND efficiently successful.  In watching the episodes over the season, Cynthia said that she had a wedding planner.  She also said she had a "stylist" on board to make sure the "look" of the wedding was fabulous.  *crickets*.  {side eye}.

Wedding planners are tasked with the job of doing the HARD work - in concert with our clients, we make sure that mailings are on time, vendors are in place, fittings are done, MARRIAGE LICENSES obtained and given to the correct parties BEFORE the know, stuff like that.  We also in many cases, create a budget and help our clients stick to it.  So if there are looming financial issues that may threaten the overall success of the event, we can be on top of things and offer creative, sound solutions.  Now...understand that television can "show" a lot of things...usually crafted to err on the side of drama versus real life.  But I'm here to tell you - producers can only EDIT what you GIVE them.  In other words, if there's "shiggety" {yes- one of my favorite colloquialisms to use!} is afoot - they're gonna catch it and film it for all of the world to see!  And that's exactly what happened here.

A wedding planner (independent - not the caterer) and a stylist are two separate and distinct individuals who can work together, but do not perform the same JOB.  I kept asking myself as the season unfolded - where is the wedding planner??  For those of us who make this our profession, we were shaking our heads, simply because we knew daggone well that much of what we saw would NOT happen on our watch.  No sir...and no ma'am!!!   And perhaps that is why a lot of the "technical difficulties" occurred in the manner they were shown..because there were "too many cooks in the kitchen" or as my Nana would say, "All chiefs - no Indians".

The wedding planner is the head honcho, the general, the commander of the "troops".  If Cynthia had hired an independent planning professional, one whose sole task was to orchestrate and carefully craft that shindig from start to finish - I can assure you that a lot of that foolery we witnessed would not have happened.  This is WHY you hire a planner.  You hire a planner so that you won't have childish chicken scratch plastered to the walls of your kitchen on your wedding day.  You hire a planner so that when your budget goes BUST, they can help you formulate a Plan B or even guide you through the postponement process. You hire a planner so that you are NOT getting a final fitting on your gown hours before you walk down the aisle.  You hire a planner to make sure that everyone has their attire and are not considering a run to Target for bridemaid's dresses.  In short - that's what we do.  We put out fires and keep an eye out for other smoldering embers so your day doesn't go up in flames.

Her team of "planners" were not on the same page - that was painfully evident.  I'll say this much - watching Cynthia & Peter's wedding unfold made me so appreciative of my colleagues in this business AND the couples who entrust their special day to us.  You cannot place a value on peace of mind, knowing that everything will go as you planned and crazy "ish {'ish is another one of my fave vernacular terms} won't pop off.  As we say in social media land - I was "SMH" {shaking my head} during the whole episode.  And judging from all of the commentary I saw on Facebook and Twitter - I wasn't the only one.  The pros who are in the trenches every day know what a trainwreck looks was a sad commentary to watch this event jump the track............

photo credit: Weekly Life & Style Magazine

Requiem For A Wedding - Real Houswives Of Atlanta Version

Ah.....Cynthia & Peter's nuptials.  Where do I start?  No, seriously - where do I begin?  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter {I sure hope you do!}, then you'll know that I'm a fan of the saga known as The Real Housewives Of Atlanta.  The season finale on Sunday evening was the "reveal" of model Cynthia Bailey and her fiance', businessman Peter Thomas' wedding at the Fernbank Museum in the ATL.  It's safe to say {and I'd be willing to wager some money on this statement} that wedding planning professionals across the country were "clutching their pearls", having attacks of "the vapors" and generally shaking their heads as we watched the event unfold.

We were all doing the "armchair quaterback"'s what we do.  It's the nature of the beast.  So when images of timelines and to do lists, scribbled on sheets of paper and clumsily tacked onto a wall behind the bride-to-be were shown on camera....the first words out of my mouth were:  "Are you KIDDING me??".  I know I wasn't the only one.  From a dress being "fitted" a couple of hours PRIOR to the ceremony, to wedding bands not being purchased, finding $3000 for the bar, not having bridesmaid's dresses, a MOB and SOB straight up "hiding" the marriage license...oh, yes - we had the makings of pure comedy and foolisness.

So...over this week, I'm going to delve into aspects of this wedding to do a "case study" of sorts and let me be clear:  I wish them the best.  But when you put your business on national television - it does open up the gates of  **side eye** and other types of "commentary.  I'm going to do my level best to be fair..and show you WHY things went wrong {based on what we saw in that episode}.  I'm also going to be brutally honest, because I think it's important that EVERYONE, professional & consumer alike - understand that the notion of planning a wedding isn't for the faint of heart.....

Stay tuned.....

photo credit: Bravo Television

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Being Married....Is A Process

As a wedding planner, I see couples all of the time who are about to take the proverbial "leap into da' land of matrimony".  For some people - it's one of the most serious committments they'll ever make.  That's how it should be - saying "I DO' is a big daggone deal and regrettably, a lot of folks don't see it that way

I'm a big fan of "relationship help", since there is no MANUAL that can be given to you on your wedding day that says, "here's how to be married".  But, there's premarital counseling {which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND} and there are programs like the "Art of Marriage" which can help brides & grooms understand, connect and grow together in their relationship.  My friend and industry colleague, Pastor Ken Patterson, Lead Minister at Grace International Church and creator of The Maryland Wedding Officiant is hosting this two day workshop on February 11th & 12th, which allows couples to learn more about the fine "brushstrokes" needed to paint the beautiful picture that is marriage.  This video-based event brings together some of the most respected pastors and experts on marriage and family all in one setting. It also brings a fresh approach to a video event by weaving together some of the following elements to help couples fully experience God’s design for marriage:
engaging stories
real-life testimonies
man-on-the-street interviews
humorous vignettes

The Art of Marriage consists of six video sessions and an accompanying manual that provides couples with projects to help apply the principles taught during each session. The manual is also designed for couples to use after the event by offering articles, date night ideas, and useful tips for continuing to strengthen their marriage.

At $79 per couple - it's a great investment in the health & strength of your relationship.  All materials
are included as well as a catered breakfast & lunch on Saturday.  You can get more details at Grace's website as well as register for the event. 

I look at it this way - people spend a LOT of money on the "trappings" of getting why not INVEST in the overall success of your marriage from the jump?  Take the time and exert the effort into the WORK of being married...just don't give it "lip servce". 

You'll thank me later.....I promise.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I'm not even sure how this post will "evolve", so I'm just going to put my "thoughts" out there......

I've been in the wedding planning industry since 1993.  That's 18 years worth of blood, sweat and tears that have been devoted to discovering, learning and honing my "craft."  And yes - the road has been amazing as well as rough.  I came into the business at a time when wedding planners were just starting to "catch on" and the public could see what a real asset we are.  During these years, I've watched people come and go - almost revolving-door like in it's intensity, but that is the nature of the beast.  Someone told them that being a wedding planning was "super fun", "glamourous" and the best one of all - "you can get rich"!  Once they got on the job, they discovered real quick that while indeed, the industry is wonderful..the work of the planner is exceedingly HARD.

In observing the "revolving door" phenomenon, I've noticed that there are a lot of people, spinning through, who have absolutely not one iota of ethical behavior.  NONE.  These are the folks who will do anything to "get a sale" {including slitting your throat if they have to}, these are the folks for whom the term "my word is my bond" does not exist in their limited world view, these are the folks that play the "copycat" game to the hilt, because they have not once ounce of originality {which is KEY to being a success in this business} residing in their core, these are the people who just don't GET IT.

Perhaps you've met one of them in your know who they are when you meet them.  They talk a great game but regrettably, can't back it up.  They want to suck you dry like a vampire - inhaling all of the knowledge you have, so they can greedily transfuse it into themselves. They will do anything, say anything, become anything...just to get over.  That is so damn sad.  Really.

The wedding business is not a shell game where you can rapidly move the "nuts", thereby forcing your "mark" to guess where the prize is.  We are talking about an event, a milestone occasion that for many people, really does only occur once in their lifetimes.  Our job as purveyors and producers is to ensure that all is flawless and well executed, so that our client's memories are wonderful and everlasting.  Nobody has time for foolishness or for people who cannot be trusted as far as you can throw them.

So I'm saying {because it doesn't appear that any one else will!} - STOP THE MADNESS!  Be about your honest in your dealing with others, stop trying to "con" people, cease the lying about what you've done {the truth will come out eventually}, stop name-dropping {because no one cares - only you do}, in short..commit to being the BEST you can be, within your scope.  Get some ETHICS, will ya?  Grow a backbone and be an ASSET to the industry...not a fungus that grows between it's toes.......

Planes, Trains & Automobiles.....

I readily admit to have racked up some serious airline miles and hotel loyalty points over the years and 2011 will only add to my cache!!  I love speaking, I love sharing what I know and I LOVE "vibing" off of an audience - there's nothing like feeling that energy in the air and running with it!!

January 30th
"Dessert With The DIVA @ The Maryland Bridal Show
Historic Savage Mill Manor/Savage, MD.
I'll be dishing out pure DIVA-style advice for brides/grooms and anyone planning a special event!

February 19th 
"Make That Money" Intensive Workshop
Towson Marriott Conference Center Hotel/Towson, MD.
Back by popular demand, this one day class breaks open the "mystery" behind determining and setting your fees.  Hey....let' face it - unless you are charging properly, you've only got an "expensive hobby" on your hands!!  This fast-paced, information-packed class is for EVERYONE in the wedding industry - not just planners!!

February 20th
"Sign On The Dotted Line" Intensive Workshop
Towson Marriott Conference Center Hotel/Towson, MD.
Have you ever ended up doing too much work because your contract DIDN'T clearly articulate your duties?  Ever had a client whose behavior was so bad you wanted to fire them - but couldn't because you didn't have an "out clause"?  What about client's who bounce checks or are habitually late for appointments? All of these situations can be handled effectively AND in your FAVOR with a well-drafted contract.  Come with an open mind and your old contracts...then leave with a new purpose and new clauses for your legal professional to draft!

February 27th - March 2nd 
The Cosmopolitan Hotel/Las Vegas, NV.
As the official Celebrity Spokesperson for NACE, one of my duties is to go out and meet folks in the event industry, all the while extolling the virtues and benefits of this fine organization!  I'll be with my fellow NACE comrades on the Showroom floor on Tuesday & Wednesday, so if you're planning to attend - please stop by, say "hi" and learn more about how you can be a part of NACE!

April 11-12th
Eventology:  The Science Of A Wedding Business
The Omni Severin Hotel/Indianapolis, IN.
I am so honored to have been asked to return and deliver a workshop for the attendees of Eventology!  Last year, I had the chance to co-host the conference's Opening Session with my planning colleague, Ali Phillips..and was deeply moved by the response my presentation evoked.  This year - I'm gonna take it the the Nth Power and focus on the issue of "Confidence - How To Get What You Want AND Need In The Wedding Industry"!!  I don't pull punches - my plan is to make attendees dig deep and come out empowered and inspired!!!

April 30th
The 3rd Annual "I DO Brunch" For Wedding Planners
Baltimore, MD.
This is my signature event and I can't wait to network with all of my fellow planning colleagues for a day of amazing food, jaw-dropping decor, excellent entertainment, relevant discourse & discussion, SWAG for days and a few surprise thrown in.  On this day - it's all about the's your chance to be fawned over, pampered and celebrated for all of the hard work you do!!

May 26th
New York City
I'm back to the Big Apple - with one of the best destination programs ever!!  Mexico is an AMAZING location to host weddings, vow renewals, anniversaries or any milestone event - this one day conference will give insight and incredible information on how you can introduce your clients to the wonder that is Mexico!

July 24th -27th
NACE Experience 2011:  Beyond Expectations
The Silver Legacy Resort & Casino/Reno-Lake Tahoe, NV.
NACE Experience! 2011 Reno Tahoe will take you beyond the expected. More than an industry conference, the NACE Experience! conference is four days in which every minute  is a lesson, networking session or professionally prepared meal that you will want to reproduce with clients.

The education program, nationally renowned speakers and hands-on lessons in culinary and design skills will make you better at what you do. The professional networking, our growing tradeshow, Marketplace, and the people you will meet will give you more opportunities to do it!  Experience! attendees are masters of their crafts in every facet of the catering and events world. They are either new to the profession looking for business contacts or veterans will to provide seasoned advice.

The most unexpected feature of the NACE Experience! is the price. It includes ALL of your meals, education and social and networking function.

December 5th - 7th
Riviera Maya/Mexico
This is the BIG ONE!!  I'm headed back for a 3rd year to this absolutely fantastic event which brings destination and romance wedding professionals from all over the world to the sunny beaches of Riviera Maya!  With days full of relevant education and information...and nights dedicated to the fine cuisine and entertainment of Mexico, this is a conference you don't want to miss!!!

There's more to come - but I think this is a great start...don't you????

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paying For Your Wedding

I have a confession to make - I absolutely love the reality tv megaseries known as "The Real Housewives Of Atlanta".  It's my guilty pleasure and judging from my social media comrades on Facebook & Twitter, they can't get enough either!!  Talk about shiggadashery and shiggity (yes, I have a propensity for making up words - don't judge me!) at it's finest - this show has it in spades.

Last night's episode continued the saga of  "supermodel" Cynthia and her supper-club owning fiance', Peter, as they head down the road towards matrimony.  Their journey has been fraught with anger, disagreements, money issues, with the smooth-as-silk-fine-as-wine actor and author Hill Harper even coming on to help them "mediate" (to no my opinion).  Well - last night, Peter dropped the shoe off his other foot...wait for it...wait for it....and told our bride-to-be that because of "financial issues", he officially CLOSED his business.  Yep - you heard me.  Closed it down.  Shut the doors.  Nothing to see here, folks - let's keep it moving.

Cynthia's response was not unexpected - she lost her mind.  She's been "dreaming" of this wedding and "it's all she had", especially since their relationship was most definitely "strained".  Peter was quite honest in saying that the lavish nuptial shindig she and her sister HAD been planning would more than likely not be able to happen, but (and here's the crazy part), he suggested that she "go and assume like it would".  **blank stare**.

Ok...time for me to shut this nonsense DOWN.  According to Peter and Cynthia, there was an extra $20,000 needed to finish paying for the wedding festivities.  I'm just going to put it out there - POOR PLANNING.  Period.  As a professional planner, I've got clients who come to me with all sort of "financial situations" - but it's my job to work with them and be the one willing to give em' a reality check in the BEGINNING.  Weddings cost money (that's a whole separate topic I'll be covering later) and as such, you need to be on the same page when it comes to shelling out the money for this event.  I know - stuff looks AMAZING when you see it on television, in the magazines, on displays in the store...but you have to be practical with the situation in general.  If you know that your finances are tanking - DON'T PLAN A HUGE WEDDING.  Appearances mean nothing - especially when you can't fund them

And before anyone comes back with the snappy retort of "stuff happens", let me clue you in right now:  I know that.  I've had it happen to clients where one of them got laid off or something else occured that changed the "picture".  But because we were prudent - those things didn't completely blow their event out of the water.  A couple of people decided to postpone their wedding until their financial footing was better - and I totally respected that move. Others scaled back on their plans and relied on my know-how to give them something wonderful to remember, within their new budget.  That's what I do - my job is to make it work..but in order for that to happen, you have to be upfront and honest.

People talk a good talk...but the proof is in the pudding.  Judging from what is shown on the series, it's not like Peter & Cynthia didn't KNOW there was trouble afoot with the supper club.  They did.  And if that's where the funding was coming from, it would have been in their best interest to rethink their celebration.  The economy, while rebounding slowly, is still erratic and mercurial - you have to be cautious and smart.  I always advise potential clients to be extremely realistic about how their event will be paid for and to have backup plans in place "just in case".  Life and it's situations can be extremely fickle...weddings are no exception.

I always tell people that money can be wonderful or a downfall.  It all depends on how you manage it.  For as much as I love a good wedding...I respect it more when a couple starts out on the right foot - able to live after the "I Do's" have been said.  Life starts the next day after the marriage license has been signed - I give you the first "24" to revel in the glow..after that, get ready for the real deal.  But if you are backed into a corner because of trying to finance a "blowout baller party" for everyone else, you're going to end up fighting like rats (amongst yourselves) to get out......

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My First Blog Contest

Getting married and you're in the Baltimore/D.C. area?  Here's a way for you to enjoy fabulous food, tour TWO great venues and meet some of the region's top wedding professionals - Putting On The Ritz Caterers is hosting their annual Maryland Bridal Show on Sunday, January 30th at the Great Room At Savage Mill  from noon - 3 p.m. 

And to add a little "sumthin'" extra to the pot, yours truly will be at their sister location, the Historic Savage Mill Manor House, at 1:15 and 2:15 p.m., meeting and greeting...along with dispensing some valuable "tips and tricks" to get you started on the road to matrimony!

Tickets are available for purchase, but.....I'm doing a little contest that will allow you to get two tickets for FREE!!!!!  The rules are simple...however, you gotta follow the directions :)  Here we go:

1) "Like" Premiere Event Management, Putting On The Ritz AND The Maryland Bridal Showon Facebook
2) Post on all of our pages, "I want to have Dessert With The DIVA!!"

That's it - pretty simple, huh?  We'll be monitoring our pages closely and will contact those persons who play along!!!

**Complimentary shuttle service will be provided between locations**

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I Cost So MUCH - The Remix

I'm thoroughly pleased with the response and feedback I received on "Why I Cost So MUCH" - my goal in penning that post was to spark dialogue amongst my fellow industry professionals and to get people THINKING!!!

After chatting with a few folks online and by the good ole' telly..something else came to mind that made me realize I wasn't finished with this topic - not by a long shot!  So, "Why I Cost So MUCH" now has a "remix".  Truth be told - I love it when a song gets the "remix" by a hot shot producer who knows how to amp the music and lyrics up so all you wanna do is dance!  While I may not be a music producer - I do know how to "push buttons"..and my fingers are ready for this one!!

My last post kinda skimmed over the reasons why my fees and prices aren't $500 ( I shudder to think there are still people charging that amount for FULL SERVCE PLANNING, but I digress..), the "REMIX" is about the personal, hard facts:  I run a business and I have a family to supportBottom line.

I'm not in the wedding planning business because it's a fun "hobby" - au contraire..I am a business woman who is out here getting her proverbial hustle ON.  This is my "9 to 5"....this IS my livelihood.  And as such, I've based my fees on factors such as experience, skill, acumen, education and a little something called "profit" may have heard of this notion - it's why businesses are in business! 

I have expenses related to my business (that studio of mine has a rent payment due the 1st of each month), I have staffing costs, I have professional costs that come with being a part of this industry..and I also have Visa, a car note, health & life insurance, two kids, an ailing grandmother, a house and a family of cats to feed.  In short, I have a life....just like you.  And this life requires money in order to live it.  I'm not independently wealthy and I can't live off my ascerbic wit.  Maintaining requires dollars..which is why I work.

So..when I say that your fee for services will be $$$$, I'm not talking out of the side of my neck.  It's not an arbitrary number I just came up with...nope, I've told you what I know to be true.  I totally get that some people like to "negotiate", but whoever said that "everything is negotiable" was delusional.  It's not.  You have to pay for what you want.  Good people, excellent people, smart people, stellar people...we cost money.  For a reason.  We're good, excellent, smart & stellar...we are at the top of our game and we know how to get results.  Period.  Would you try to negotiate the fee with your surgeon if you needed work done?  Of course are coming to him/her for their EXPERTISE, therefore - you pay.  So why is it any different  when it comes to paying your wedding professionals what they deserve?  Hmmmmm?????

To add in another flavor to the remix....please also know that when you don't pay me on time - my life still continues.  And the aforementioned Visa, car finance company and landlord still want their money  - from me.  When you bounce a check....the bank will charge me.  And I will charge you.  In effect, you've breached your contract...non payment means that I can walk away or put your event on the shelf until you ante up.  Depending on where you are in the process..that can be a dangerous situation.  Allow me to put it into simple, laymen's terms:  It's payday at your place of employment.  You get your check or advice of deposit, open it up...and there's nothing there.'s short a few hundred dollars.  What are you going to do?  Oh, I know EXACTLY what will happen - you're gonna march right on down to payroll and give them the "business" about YOUR money.  And you're going to ask your boss "What's up with this - where's my money?"  You know I'm will be HEATED until this is resolved.  Guess what - that's how we feel as professionals when you don't pay us as agreed upon.  Take a moment to digest that.

And for my colleagues and peers in the industry....I'm not letting you off the hook.  You have a responsibility to be unwaveringly clear about your pricing and your policies.  It is what it is.  Stop devaluing your worth, your credibility and your ART by not pricing your services as they should be.  The word "NO' is not a four-letter one, it's not is the truth.  Learn how to say it more often and when needed.  Every client isn't for you and they are probably better suited for someone else. Let them me, someone else will come along who understands and appreciate what you bring to the table without all of the truly unecessary drama and tribulation .   

This is a two-way street. The public needs to undestand that we're not some cheap date...while the industry has go to get a grip on solidifying and clearly enunciating who they are and what they cost.  Now that's a marriage made in heaven........

(See these two? These are my "babies" and my main impetus for being a success......they're also quite expensive, which is one of the reasons I don't work for free..)

Friday, January 7, 2011

I AM????????

This year - I have decided to go ahead and let my "real voice" speak to all of you.  If you've ever met me in person, you'll notice that I am very down-to-earth, I don't do fantasy, I call things the way I see them, I'm quick with a humorous quip and I'm always smiling.  That's my authentic self - "straight shot/no chaser"  so since the whole idea behind this blog was to allow me the opportunity to give my own "musings" on how I see things regarding the industry, I figure I might as well go full throttle.

With that being said, in 2011 you're going to see a lot more "commentary" - I believe that speaking your mind is the best way to encourage intelligent, potent dialogue with your peers and those around you.  Let me be the first to say that I LOVE WEDDINGS.  I love the magic that surrounds them and the fact that it is one of life's "milestone moments".  I love engaging with brides and grooms, carefully discovering what makes their love "tick", then taking that revelation and creating a celebration that wonderfully showcases it to the world around them.  On the other is what it is.  I refuse to sit here and write about how "fabulous" everything is when the reality is simple.  This stuff is hard work.  I don't care how much Dupioni silk you throw on order to have a successful celebration, you gotta do the process and do it well.  That goes for the couple getting hitched AND the people "behind the scenes" who make it happen.

The title of today's post, "I AM??" harkens to my observation process, which is always in warp mode.  I make my living by watching life happen around me, so over the years - this particular question has always fascinated me as I look at those around me in the industry.  What I am about to say in the next few paragraphs is going to evoke a couple of different reactions from those who read it.  You're either: A) Gonna LOVE every syllable and say "PREACH"!  or  B) You are going to think I have lost my mind.  For me, it doesn't matter.  It's the truth - and on many, many occasions..hearing the facts as they really are can be stinging, to say the least.  I see it as an opportunity to absorb, learn and move forward towards being better....

I AM a creative person.  For me, being the wedding planner has been one of the BEST outlets to showcase how my mind works and the sheer wonder of watching my thoughts play out into action.  I think in terms of color, shape, light, shadow, logistics, numbers - in short, I meld the creative process with the hard reality of thinking to mold someone's vision into an EXPERIENCE.  Over the years, all of that creativity and rational thinking have led to other "talents" which I've been able to grow and define.  They are all symbiotic to my main role and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have discovered and  honed those skills.

Here's the "rub" - I really believe that as individuals, we are all destined to do a series of "things".  But there will be ONE trait, one talent, one skill, that will stand out and shine above the rest.  That "component" is our calling, it is the area where we will excel the most.  It will be the talent that appears to be effortless, we don't even have to think about how we do just gets done.  Now, here's where I drop the shoe off of the other foot..wait for it...wait for it.....

YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING.    I'll repeat that:  YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING.   In the wedding industry, the saying "jack of all trades, master of none" is so evident.   For some odd reason, people are thinking that they can take on a myriad of functions and do them all well.  Well, guess what?  You can't.  There - I said it.  Somebody had to.   Let's get real - you can't be the wedding planner/florist/caterer/limousine service/dj/stationer....all rolled into one being or entity.  All of those capacities require separate skill sets and their relevance needs to be taken into consideration.  There are only 24 hours in a day and most of us are struggling to get by on just those, so it's simply amazing to me when I see situations like these emerge. 

As the wedding planner, I really think that people somehow feel my job is easy.  It's NOT.  Trust me.  And because I make it seem "effortless", they think that it can be added on to whatever they already do (hence my multi-task description in the previous paragraph) and it will generate more money/business for them.  As Ed Lover would say, "C'mon SON!!"  Pardon my slip into the vernacular - but it ain't gonna happen. At some point, something is going to suffer - you can't do 50 million things well.  And with the "suffering" comes a reduction in standards, a loss of creativity and you're nothing more than a hamster on a wheel.  You're running...but going absolutely nowhere.

Want to be successful in this industry?  Know who you ARE.  Understand your strengths AND weaknesses, then make the most of them.  Can you bake like nobody's business?  Great - be a baker!!  Does your food make people just smile for days on end?  Catering is your thing!  When you spin those tunes or ripple your fingers across a keyboard, does it make people want to get up and dance?  You, my friend, are the entertainer.  Bottom line is this:  It's time for people to start being the best at what they are and STOP being greedy.  I know multiple streams of revenue are always key to staying in the black, but when you do too much, your "painting" will be a scribbled, jumbled mess instead of the beautiful art it should be.....

**drops the mic and exits stage left**

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Cost So "MUCH"...

Simple title. Complex issue. It's a question I get asked over and over and over again - my response is generally more internal than external. See, wedding planners are are different cup of chicken soup that other industry providers. The services we provide are on another level and at their core, are the REASON someone's dreams and visions can come to stunningly, logistical life. Notice I did use the words "stunning" {for all of the loveliness and BLING BOOM you want} and "logistical", {because there is a method to all of the madness}.

For me, I can tell you without blinking one of these fabulous eyelash extensions of mine WHY my prices are not $500 for over 200 hours worth of work. Now...doesn't just hearing that equation say something? Not to mention almost 20 years of full-fledged experience in the industry, book author, television personality and so on...yep, all of those things ring up to be a pretty extensive work resume and assurance to you, the client, that I'm not somebody who got married last Saturday, thought the whole thing was FABULOUS and hung my shingle out when I returned from my honeymoon. And yes - there are plenty of people in the industry who are doing just that.

I'm a professional. I know what I'm doing. Actually, I know what everyone associated with your wedding is doing AND I make it my business to make sure that we are all on the same page. I'm the good cop/bad cop, I'm the arbiter of style, I'm the accountant and sometimes, I'm the shoulder you cry on when stuff just blew the hell up. I'm the first one in...and the last one out. I hold hands, I wipe tears, I make sure you and your new hubby (or wife) have some quality time together away from the hustle and bustle of it all, when everybody thinks you belong to them. In short, I'm the chica who makes the magic happen and ensures you have the wonderful memories for a lifetime to come.

So don't get price confused with ability. If you are looking to solely hire a planning professional by the dollar signs are sadly, mistakenly, going down the wrong path. This is your's not like television, where I can tell the director "cut - let's do that again". It's a one time shot....and it's gotta be right the first time. If the proverbial dollar signs are clouding your vision, look at it this way {and this is a perfect segue into another hot topic we'll talk about!} - consider what your wedding is really about. Don't get blinded by all the hype and wonder you see in magazines, on blogs, websites and television. Truth of the matter is: WEDDINGS COST MONEY. And no matter what your budget is, you need to spend wisely. Why not bring the one person on board who can make sure that you can wake up the next morning and not be in the poorhouse, rifling through your wedding envelopes, hoping you can "make enough back" to cover normal expenses post-nuptial shindig? Think about it.

In the meantime, while you're thinking (and I really hope you are!), check out this amazingly insightful article from a dear colleague and friend of mine, Shayna Walker Weddle of Williamsburg Wedding Design. She breaks it down FOR REAL in dollars and cents why a wedding planning PROFESSIONAL costs more than $500. Between my musings and her number crunching, it should make things perfectly clear................

Monday, January 3, 2011

Confessions Of The WeddingDIVA: The 30 Day Rule......

Confessions Of The WeddingDIVA: The 30 Day Rule......: "Happy New Year!!!! Are you one of those lucky people who got engaged over the holiday season? You're not alone - lots of gentlemen got on b..."

The 30 Day Rule......

Happy New Year!!!! Are you one of those lucky people who got engaged over the holiday season? You're not alone - lots of gentlemen got on bended knee to "pop the question" and many ladies said "yes"!! But before you head out to the store to buy a wedding magazine, flip through websites to pick out a flattering color palette or get on the phone to call potential vendors, I'm going to ask you to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N....

Yep - that's right, slow your roll! "Why on earth would I want to do that?", you might ask. Rest assured, I don't just "spew" stuff out...there's always a good reason. And this time it's simple and you'll thank me for it later. Take 30 days and do NOTHING regarding wedding planning. You heard me - absolutely nothing.

Being engaged is a big milestone moment, just like getting married. I find that too many people simply rush into planning without savoring this special time. And yeah, it's pretty darn SPECIAL. Asking someone to spend the rest of their lives with you and saying "yes" to the proposal is life changing. It's also a period of time you cannot get back. So...enjoy the sparkle on your left hand, revel in the fact that you are about to start an amazing journey with the love of your life. Talk about your future - together. Discuss all of the wonderful things you are looking forward to. And don't let any hint of white lace, open bars or stretch limousines enter the conversation. This moment in time is about the two of you....

Trust me - there will be PLENTY of hours to dedicate to the planning of the shindig, and that's where professionals like me come into the picture. But for the next 30's all about the two of you. Take my advice...enjoy this time. Consider it the first "snapshot" of the new life you've got coming..........