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Once you have established your budget, figured out an approximate wedding date, and hired your coordinator, the next step is to find a location for your wedding. There are many things to consider. First and foremost, is to figure out your wedding theme or style. Many of us dream of getting married outside with an amazing mountain view, while others picture an elegant mansion for their nuptials. Some think a quaint farm while others think an urban loft.

Whatever your theme, always remember NOT to compare apples to oranges. What do I mean by that? Well, the first question you will most likely ask is, “How much does your venue cost?” That question really needs to be followed with, “What services does this price include?” You may be able to rent a hall “really cheap” but it only includes the blank space and maybe some tables and chairs that you need to set up yourself. Still you’re thinking, for only $1000, that’s still a great deal compared to the $15,000 that full-service venue, with in-house catering, wants. However, now you need to rent linens, china, glassware, a bar, and those chairs are really ugly…….time to rent chair covers! It adds up super quick, and you haven’t even added in the cost of catering or alcohol.

Some people think the best solution is having the wedding at their home or property. Sounds great and you don’t have to pay a rental fee……should be MUCH cheaper, right??? WRONG!! Wedding expenses add up quickly. First, you are starting with a blank space…..no tables, no chairs, no linens, no china, no glassware, no dance floor, no bars….and if you think the 2 bathrooms in your house are going to be enough for your 150 guests, think again. Can your house’s plumbing really handle the needs of 150 people? Most cannot and therefore, you will need to rent restroom trailers (not porta potties…..this is a wedding not a camping trip). In addition, what are your local noise ordinances? Where will all these people park? What about electrical for the DJ and catering? Who is going to set all these tables, chairs, linens, etc. up? And finally, who is going to clean this mess up and will you be able to fit all this garbage in your rather small garbage can? My experience has been, the more a venue provides, the happier my clients have been and they often save the most money in the end.

Weather is definitely another factor to consider when choosing your venue. Here in the Sacramento area, we are blessed with pretty amazing weather and can almost guarantee there will be no rain during the summer months. However, Spring and Fall can still sneak in a rain shower or two so having a venue with a back-up plan is a MUST. I highly recommend a venue with both indoor and outdoor spaces, just in case, during these months. Another factor to consider is the heat. You need to provide adequate shade for your guests, either with umbrellas, a tent, or trees. However, if you are depending on trees for shade, it is EXTREMELY important to visit the reception space during the actual time of your reception. The sun shifts all day long and so does your shade. A space that is nicely shaded at 10:00 in the morning, may be in direct sunlight by 4:00 in the afternoon. If the sun isn’t setting until close to 9:00 pm, your guests will be miserable and burnt to a crisp by the time your wedding is over.

Finally, one questions I always ask, that most couples forget, “What is your policy on open flame?” Often, I come into my clients’ planning process after they have booked their venue. Their “vision” for the wedding includes a beautiful candle lit reception. However, they are shocked to learn, after I have visited the venue and asked more detailed questions, that no open flame is allowed. Their vision suddenly goes up in smoke! Sure, you can use those LED candles, but they tend to be more expensive and nothing can compare to the real thing. Each venue’s policy on candles is different and it is important to ask this question BEFORE you book or you could be very disappointed later.

That’s all for today’s blog post. Over the next few weeks, we will start talking about booking the vendors (DJ, florist, cake, etc.). Until then, happy planning!

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Happy New Year and welcome 2016! How many of you got engaged over the holiday season? It’s a very exciting time in your life, but now that the excitement has worn off, the real work begins…….planning your wedding day!

Most couples start with an exact date in mind, but I strongly advise against that. Instead, chose a “time of year” and be a bit flexible within that time frame for your wedding date. Many couples who become engaged over the holiday season, have visions of getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall”. Problem is, many of the venues and vendors that you want, are already booked. In the Sacramento area, May/June and September/October tend to be the most popular times to get married. It makes sense as the weather is usually pleasant (and most likely rain free) with temperatures that aren’t too hot compared to July and August. If you are flexible in the your dates, you have a better chance of still getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall” as are there are at least a few openings left. They just might not be your “first choice” of dates.

Next, sit down and talk budget. What is your budget for this wedding? My experience shows that most weddings are a combination of the bride’s parents, groom’s parents, and the couple all contributing to the wedding costs. The average wedding in the Sacramento region costs between $25,000 and $30,000. Now, pick yourself up off the floor from fainting and gather your thoughts. What does this include? How can I cut back on this?

Which brings me to my next step…….hiring a coordinator! Yes, I know….of course I am going to say hire a coordinator. I AM a coordinator! But I am honestly telling you that I usually save my clients money in the end, most often covering the cost of  what my fees were. Why??? Because this isn’t my first wedding “rodeo”. I’ve seen it all and know what a wedding needs, and what it does not. I know venues and vendors you don’t. It sounds like I’m being a bit pretentious, but I’m simply being honest. I’ve been building up my resources and knowledge on weddings in this area for years. I am going to be honest with you when it comes to why certain things will or will not fit your budget.

In my first planning meeting with clients, I ask them to tell me 2-3 things that are the MOST important to their wedding day. It could be great food, great entertainment, best photographer, lots of flowers, etc. Whatever your 2-3 most important priorities are, that’s where you should focus the majority of your budget. If you make those few things really shine, the other areas you spent less on will hardly be noticed by your guests. The other STRONG suggestion I make to my clients is be reasonable about your guest list. The more guests you have, the more it will cost. That’s just basic math. Think about it, how well do you REALLY know your 4th cousin that you met once when you were 3 years old? Do you REALLY think they will be offended if you don’t invite them? Chances are, they probably won’t. When making a guest list, stick to the people who matter in your life. If your parents are “insisting” that the 4th cousin be invited, then they need to be prepared to add more funds to the budget.

I’ll end today’s blog post here. In my next week’s post, I will talk about the next step…..venue search and selection. Until you know where the wedding will be, it’s virtually impossible to plan the rest of it.

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Yes, you read that title correctly…….this post is about my Thanksgiving.  Okay, so it’s February and Valentine’s Day is less than a week away.  Let’s just say that the holidays were beyond busy for me this year between all the festivities, clients, and kids.  This year, it was my turn to host Thanksgiving.  In my family, we rotate Thanksgiving every year so not one person is “stuck” with making the meal.  Last year, it was at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Southern California.  Next year, I believe it’s back to my brother and his wife, and the year after that, it’s mom and dad (okay, mom does all the cooking).  Personally, I really do enjoy cooking for a crowd so I always enjoy when it’s my year to host.

So, I had a bit of fun with my table decorations.  I wanted to coordinate every thing with my china which is white with blue, pink and silver accents.  First, I decided to make candle holders out of gourds which required the help of my hubby and his drill press (yes, see the photo below….LOL).  Then, since I’m a scrapbooking addict, I printed each guest’s name on a leaf pattern, cut them out, and edged each with some brown ink.  I think they made very festive place cards.

My menu consisted of roasted turkey (of course), homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, coleslaw, green beans with almonds, cranberries (okay those came from a can 🙂 ) and 2 types of stuffing…..our traditional giblet stuffing that was passed down from my grandmother, and a really delicious sourdough/artichoke/mushroom/parmesan stuffing…..a recipe I found a couple of years ago in Sunset Magazine (it’s really GOOD).  My turkey was perfectly cooked and brown, and also very juicy.  We also had pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato and apple pies for dessert (everyone in the family pitches in with the pies….I made the pecan).

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These days, it seems as though everyone is having to pinch their pennies and stetch their budgets further.  Wedding and honeymoon budgets are certainly no exeption.  For many couples, “jet-setting” off on a tropical vacation just isn’t an option.  Fortunately, we are “blessed” living here in California with so many beautiful, romantic places to visit.  Whether it’s the mountains, wine country, or the ocean, the locations are endless.  I wanted to share two of my favorite romantic spots that my husband and I continue to visit over and over again.  And, while they make a wonderful romantic get-away for parents of 3 young children, they are also PERFECT for a “closer-to-home” honeymoon that won’t break the bank.

Our favorite location is probably one that’s on just about everybody’s top ten list……Monterey.  It has a great mixture of natural beauty, top-notch restaurants, great shopping, and wonderful entertainment that appeals to so many.  Oh, and let’s not forget some really great wine tasting!  And, of course, no trip to Monterey would be complete without visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  There are a wide variety of hotels and romantic B&B’s that will fit any budget.  My husband and I particularly love staying at the historic Monterey Hotel which is located on Alvarado Street in Monterey’s Downtown.  It’s close to some delicious restaurants as well as within easy walking distance of the Wharf.  The Victorian era hotel has been completely restored and is really quite charming.  Some might fine the rooms a bit small but my husband and I are really attracted to historical properties so for us, it’s not a big deal.

Next door to Monterey is the charming city of Pacific Grove.  If a B&B is more your style, then Pacific Grove is your kind of town.  We like staying at the Gosby House Inn, which, once again, is a restored old Victorian home.  Rooms are small but charming and the inn-keepers are friendly.  Breakfast was delicious in the morning and in the evenings, they host wine and cheese.  Plus, the location is within walking distance of some great restaurants.  We also love to take romantic walks down to Lover’s Point with it’s several miles of ocean front trails and paths.  It’s so much fun to watch for sea otters swimming among the kelp.  Plus, since Monterey is literally right next door, you can still visit those attractions too.

If you’d still like the feeling of being transported far away from here, but not spend a fortune, then Catalina Island might be right for you.  My husband and I simply adore this Southern California gem.  Only 23 miles across the water from Los Angeles, Catalina seems half a world away from all the smog and congestion of Southern CA.  There are only 2 towns on Catalina……Two Harbors, which is a small fishing village, and Avalon, a charming coastal town where the majority of the Island’s population lives.  Avalon is about 1 square mile in size so rental cars are not necessary.  In fact, very few cars are actually allowed on the island with most of the locals getting around town in golf carts.  And, while tourists can also rent golf carts, my husband and I have always preferred to simply walk.  Our favorite place to stay is the Villa Portofino Hotel right on Avalon’s waterfront.  Catalina is very layed-back, relaxed and casual…..no formal wear required.  Avalon is full of wonderfully charming restaurants, art galleries, and boutique stores.  In addition, I would highly recommend a few tours while you are there.  My favorites are the semi-submersible tours in the kelp forest at Lover’s Cove, and the Inland Tour of the island, both through Discovery Tours.

An advantage of Catalina Island an “island” vacation but without the expensive “island” price.  You have the option of either flying or driving down to Southern California.  From there, the easiest way to travel from Los Angeles to Catalina Island is by sea.  The Catalina Express run frequent daily routes from several ports in Southern California including Dana Point, San Pedro, and Long Beach, all of which have convenient and affordable long-term parking lots.

So, even if your honeymoon budget is small, you can still have an affordable, romantic get-away that will be the perfect start to your marriage.

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Last night while flipping through the channels on my TV, I came across the movie, 27 Dresses.  S000000, even though I’ve seen this movie before, I JUST had to stay up until 11:30 pm watching it…LOL!  I LOVE this movie!  It always cracks me and my husband up, especially that last scene with all the dresses lined up on the “friends” who made her wear them in the past.

Having been a bride, a bridesmaid (matron-of-honor 3 times) and now part of the wedding business, I can truly appreciate the humor and the humiliation of bridesmaids dresses.  Some of those things can just be awful!  My poor 6 maids all wore “matchy-matchy” peach with perfectly matching peach dyed shoes…..so 1993 :).  In the 3 weddings I’ve been in as an adult (I do have junior bridesmaid experience too), each one had that same lavender, light purple, periwinkle, whatever you want to call it color!  In two of those weddings, I was pregnant and looked like a grape!  Yes, it was quite the sight!

But, as a bridesmaid, it is our job to remember whose day it is…..NOT OURS!  It belongs to the bride and groom and we are there to support them, funny looking dress and all.  Now that being said, as a bride, it is our job to not alienate our friends and family by asking them to do ridiculous wedding tasks for us or wear the most God-awful dress that cost an absolute fortune.  Brides do need to be sensitive to their bridesmaids’ budgets, tastes and body types.  I think the best trend I’ve seen in “maid fashion” is when the bride picks a color at a bridal store and, with a few simple guidelines, has her bridesmaids pick out their own style of dress.  It looks SOOOOOO much more put together and fashionable.

Oh, and the biggest myth of bridesmaids dresses………you can wear them again!  Yeah right!  Of course, that was the running joke through the entire movie last night….that you can just shorten the dresses and wear them again.  Let me tell you from experience……never happens!  I finally took my old dresses down to the thrift store and gained some valuable closet space in return.  A former co-worker of mine told me the best re-use of a bridesmaid dress story.  When her friend turned 40, they threw a birthday party and all dressed up in old bridesmaid dresses, just so they could say they wore them again.  How funny is that?!

So to all the bridesmaids of past, present, and future…..I salute you!

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I will be one of the many exhibitors at the Bridal Showcase this Sunday, August 15, 2010.  The show will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sacramento.  Stop by my booth to discuss your wedding details.  If you are still looking for a day-of coordinator for your Fall 2010 wedding, I will have my calendar with me and still have a little bit of availability left.  It just might be your date!

For more information you can visit this link to the Bridal Showcase website.

Hope to see you there!

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Have you been to our website lately?  My web designer, Julie of TillSey Web Design, and I have been working hard to give the website a fresh and updated look.  Tons of new pictures from last year’s events have been added to the photo gallery.  The “service packages” page explains our services in great detail and some wonderful, heartfelt testimonials from previous clients have been added (thank you to all of my wonderful clients for those very sweet words).  Also, an “about” page has been added so you can see just how An Impressive Event came to be.

So check it out and let me know what you think!

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