Saturday, September 26, 2009

The New Wedding Rules

Yes, it's true that there are a lot of traditions that apply when it comes to weddings, but things have changed. The problem is that most traditionalists, your parents and his parents, didn't get this memo. Here are some latest old school feelings and the new rules about weddings from The Knot.

Old School: The bride's parents pay for the wedding.

New Rule: Every couple funds the festivities in different ways. Maybe your mom and dad want to pay for every single thing, but, unlike inn the past where the bride's family was expected to foot the whole bill, they're in no way obligated to now. Grooms' parents and the couples themselves chip in nearly as often as brides' parents do. It just depends on your family's situation. If you'd like your fiance's parents' help, your husband-to-be will need to ask for it--not you, and certainly not your parents.

Just remember: Whoever pays gets a say. If you know your MIL will insist on an in church ceremony if she contributes and you've got your heart set on exchanging vows on a sandy beach, you may be happier cutting your guest list than asking her to contribute anything.

Old School: You must invite everyone with a guest

New Rule: If they'll know others, skip the plus-one. It's still polite (and very appreciated!) to invite guests' significant others, but if you're inviting groups of coworkers, for instance, and two or more of them are single, they should have no problem attending solo. Only when guests won't know anyone aside from the couple is it mandatory to let them bring a date. It's kind to invite attendants with guests too (they are shelling out big bucks for their attire!).

Old School: Your registry should consist entirely of housewares for your new home.

New Rule: You can register for anything from honeymoon hotel accommodations to skiing gear. Guess what, Grandma? Lots of couples live together before they get married and may have all the towels and blenders they'll ever want. You can request upgraded versions of home items you already own, but nothing should stop you from creating a honeymoon or otherwise "untraditional" registry. These are your gifts, and you need to be happy with them! If you're invited a few Internet-less guests, including items from a brick-and-mortar store they can actually get to will help prevent a buildup of unwanted items. But you should feel free to include your ping-pong table for your basement or the complete Sex and the City DVD collection on your wish list if you can't use yet another kitchen appliance.

A word of caution: Some of the older folks think that they know what brides and grooms really need, so they may get you an iron even if you haven't requested one.

Old School: You must wear a white gown

New Rule: Wear whatever you want! Sure, most brides go the white or ivory route, but for your wedding day attire, anything goes: from a cute cherry red flapper dress to a silver, slinky sheath to a (gasp!) black pant suit. As long as you feel fabulous in your outfit, it can be any color or style. You can even skip the veil!

Warning: Your fashion choices may wind up shocking your older guests, especially the ones who equate wearing white with "purity". If you'd prefer that your look pleases the crowd but aren't willing to go totally traditionally, try working in a hint of color via a dress sash, your shoes, jewelry or a hair accessory.

Old School: You mom can't throw your shower.

New Rule: If money's tight, don't feel like you have to go overboard with an out-of-this world gift every time you attend a party. Make a budget and try to spend 20 percent of the total on an engagement present, 20 percent on the shower gift, and 60 percent on the wedding gift. Or consolidate your funds for one knockout gift instead of several smaller, less expensive ones.

Old School: You have to have a rehearsal dinner

New Rule: You can skip a rehearsal dinner. When couples lived separately before they got married and engagements were a few weeks long, not a year or more, the rehearsal dinner was the first time both sets of parents could meet. Since the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom would be responsible for introductions at the wedding the next day, they needed t0 see each other first! Having a rehearsal dinner is still smart when you and your fiance's parents aren't acquainted, but if there's o time or room in the budget, then it's okay to skip it, especially if your ceremony rehearsal has to take place on a weekday or minutes before your actual wedding. It's nice to treat out-of-towners to a welcome meal, or you can just gather your closest local friends and family for a pre-wedding diner, but neither is required. Ask anyone who tells you otherwise if they'd like to plan to pay for it!

Old School: The first time you see your groom on your wedding day should be at your ceremony.
*We call this the "bridal presentation" in my business. It's becoming very common!*

New Rule: You can spend every minute with your groom before the ceremony. We promise that it's not bad luck if your fiance catches a glimpse of you in your gown on the wedding day (or before it, but why not surprise him if you both can hold out?). In fact, most couples who decided to wait until the ceremony to see each other would've preferred to have the inevitably emotional experience in private rather than in front of all of their guests. Photographers are happy to capture the moment you first see each other before the ceremony, so take photos then. That way, you don't have to miss cocktail hour.

Old School: Ceremony seating is based on the bride's side and the groom's side.

New Rule: Guests can choose to sit wherever they want! It used to be that guests of the bride sat on the left side at the ceremony and guests of the groom sat on the right. Even now, plenty of your guests will go by this guideline to find their seats. But if your fiance's family is huge and yours is tiny, your ceremony will look a little weird if most people are seated to the right side. And at Jewish weddings, the sides are flipped anyway! If you're having ushers, ask them to direct your VIPs, parents, grandparents and the like to prime seats toward the front of either side and instruct your other guests to sit in any other seat. No ushers? No problem. Place a sign in the area where people pick up their programs and have it read "Sit anywhere you like!" That'll send the message loud and clear.

Old School: You must walk down the aisle.

New Rule: You don't have to walk anywhere! Perhaps you're a flats-wearing gal and your trip down the aisle may turn into a real trip in your wedding heels. Or maybe, you'd prefer to skip all the hoopla that's associated with that long walk. Whatever your rationale, it's your prerogative. Your groom is already to be up at the altar; why can't you be too? Who says you have to have a processional at all? yet, for Jewish weddings, it's strongly suggested that brides (and grooms too!) walk down the aisle. We have all seen the YouTube video as well, you can all dance down the aisle! If you want to skip the walk but still honor your mom and dad, present them with flowers or other gifts during the ceremony.

Old School: You have to leave for your honeymoon right after your reception.

New Rule: You can go on a honeymoon whenever you want. Heading straight to your honeymoon sounds romantic, but it can be a logistical nightmare.

Think it over: You'd have to lug your luggage from the ceremony to the reception and keep your passport and plane tickets in a safe place the entire day. But even if you're the queen of organization, you'll be so exhausted from your whirlwind day that you'll want nothing more than to just veg out for a while with your new husband after the wedding. And that's okay! It's totally up to you when you leave for your honeymoon. Also, why not stay and enjoy your reception, it's where 50% of your wedding budget goes!

Wedding traditions are constantly changing as more and more brides and grooms customize their day to "fit" them. You are still able to maintain traditions, but just tweak them so that your day is a reflection of you, your groom and all that you want your wedding to say about you as a couple!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Got to have this!

For all of those techno-buffs this one is for you! Even if you are not technically inclined, this is the latest buzz in the industry and is worth a look...or two!

A new company, MyVideoMyVoice has designed a line of products that allows brides and grooms to capture the magic of their wedding day in live video and download it into beautifully appointed Video Wedding Albums, Video Wedding Books, and Video Invitations/Save The Date Cards. How awesome and magical is this?! These products can hold up to 45 minutes of audio-video content, have 5 push buttons to tell their entire story in different chapters and have a mini built in USB jack that allows the batteries to be charged over 500 times! This is an incredible keepsake and/or favor for your guests. What will they come up with next?!

How to survive a Bridal Show

Northwest Arkansas has a full week of activities this week and starts off with the 10th Annual Bikes, Blues and BBQ. There will be plenty of noise, crowds and lines -which made me think of this weekend's Bridal Show at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, AR. The doors open at 12:30-5:00 with the fashion show at 4:00pm. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online and at the door. They can also be purchased at any of the following:

Rick's Bakery in Fayetteville, AR
Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville, AR
The Benton County Daily Record in Bentonville, AR
Herald Leader in Siloam Springs

So, how do you manage all of the commotion, information and marketing material you will be provided? Follow these simple steps to make sure you make it out alive, informed and ready to start the planning process!

1) You will sign in at a registration table and be provided a bag full of materials. Make sure to sign in; not only is it beneficial to the participating vendors, but it enters you into great door prizes. Make sure to bring a pen or pencil, some vendors may even be handing them out!
2) Come prepared with what you are looking for. Do you need a photographer, DJ, Caterer, Florist, etc.
3) Keep an open mind about the vendors that are participating. You may not need their services now, but may decide on them later in your planning process or may decide that your current vendor doesn't quite suit you like you thought.
4) You will be given a listing of all of the vendor booths. As you visit the booths, make notes about them. Did you like their personality? Professionalism? Did something about their booth stick in your mind? Did they offer a door prize, etc. You may think you'll remember them, but you will be in information overload and will need something to jog your memory when you get home.
5) Each vendor will be seeing TONS of prospective clients and will try to get to them all, so it is greatly appreciated if you come with a list of questions prepared that you want to know about them, their business, services, availability, and so forth.
6) Vendors will also be offering all sorts of coupons, discounts and "Book Now" specials at the show. If you like the vendor and have seen their work, why not go ahead and book them at the show and take advantage of the savings. If you still aren't sure about booking them, look to see what their calendar availability looks like. Some will have lots of vacancies and some will book up entirely at the show!

If you already have your wedding date and ceremony location picked out the event should be like being in a candy store! You will have a sea of eager and energetic vendors looking for YOUR business.

This is the "one stop shop" for your wedding planning needs. There is no running around town meeting with tons of vendors, surfing the internet and making phone calls. It will be right here, in one spot. The only thing missing will be....ME! I will be there, but I won't have a booth until the 2010 season. taking a minute to register, make notes about vendors and come prepared with the services you are looking for and all of your questions you should leave ready to start or wrap up your wedding planning on Monday! :-) The next step will be to schedule a consultation with me to see how I can pull all of this into YOUR perfect day!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Drew's Halloween Birthday Bash-The Finale!

After hours of hard work and details, Drew's 6th Halloween Birthday Party Bash was Spooktacular! There were TONS of spooky details, but I have only included the ones I had photos to demonstrate. This was a blast to put together and sure did get me ready for Halloween!

Meet the birthday boy, in the Pirate costume, and his friend.

The party area before:

The party area after three hours of nailing, stapling and the almighty...duct tape! I'm checking into the long term investment of Tyvek (house wrap)!

The "Grave yard": Drew was so cute and actually told his Dad that someone was buried in the yard! I used six (6th Birthday) black balloons and anchored them to little rubber mice so they would drift with the wind.

I simply taped Caution tape to the trees and hung skeletons from the branches

The entrance into the Haunted House:

I made signs that read "Caution, Do Not Enter", "Witches Welcome", "Can't Stop Haunting", and "Monster Crossing". I changed the colors to black, purple, and orange and hung them along the gazebo. I also strung up some ripped cloth and a caution sign that the children had to duck under to enter.

Drew wanted a "Carnival" themed Halloween Party so I created the games: Bobbing for Apples, Pumpkin Toss and Pin the face on the Mummy. I used the Cast Iron font to give that fun vibe!

I wanted each corner to have its own feeling. This corner was strung with silk spider webs
with spiders placed in the webs. I also made felt, fury spiders that were suspended from the ceiling.

I created a "hands on" laboratory, the focal point of the party! I suspended black cauldrons from the ceiling, at six year old level, so that the children could reach inside and guess what they were feeling. I had Ears (Apricots), Eye Balls (Peeled Grapes), Intestines (oily spaghetti noodles), Fingers (cut up hot dogs). I did actually use rubber fingers for this one because I happened to have them already, but hot dogs were my back up!

The main attraction!
I made the human waiter head and used it as my centerpiece. It is surrounded by rubber mice, bats and spiders. I also used glow in the dark skeleton heads and added an apothecary with a bubbling brain and cauldron to the table. I suspended black muslin from the ceiling fan and spider filled silk webs to cover the table; a great effect this had!

Drew's mother informed me this morning that he loved it so much they're keeping it up longer and I'm bringing more dry ice for the cauldrons! How wonderful and I know the kiddos had a great time!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crash course in wedding flowers, Part III

Wow! I've got a list of great posts lined up and can't wait to get them rolled out! I'll be discussing:

  • New and delectable buffet ideas
  • Baby Shower Inspiration Boards
  • Fall/Winter Inspiration Boards
  • The new wedding rules
  • The September 2009 Bridal Fair in Northwest Arkansas
  • Rolling out my new website, yea!
  • Listing 2009 fall and winter trends
  • Gearing up for 2010 trends
  • Two more bonus posts on flowers

    But, let's finish the crash course in wedding flowers with Part III: Current trends in wedding flowers!

    Going "green" is still on the rise. Brides are choosing more sustainable and locally grown flowers for their weddings. By choosing flowers that are available in their wedding season they are helping to diminish their wedding's carbon footprint;their flowers are locally grown, no overseas or cross country shipping is involved.

    We are seeing texture everywhere in bouquets! Texture and natural floral elements are making a huge statement in bouquets. Feathers, seed pods, grass plumes, fiddle head ferns, fruits and vegetables and berries are some of the great additions. They add that extra depth and surprise to the bouquets, table arrangements, etc.

Monochromatic white with a touch of Bling

Brides are still opting for the classic and traditional monochromatic white bouquet with their white dress, but adding a little something extra.. bling. Whether it is a white pearl center to a bouquet of stephanotis, a satin wrap with rhinestones or crystal drops tucked inside the bouquet these are still beautiful.

Get Moving
Tight, perfect and just-so arrangements are not making the cut this year. Loose, flowing arrangements have stolen the scene. This year, it seems to be all about movement and asymmetry. Flowers with long, flexible stems with a natural draping are perfect. Try vines, sweet peas and tulips to achieve this natural look.

We've been seeing orchids everywhere! They are the "in the moment" wedding flower, especially with their versatile and elegant blooms, that come in almost every size and color.

Color, Color, Color
Brides are making great statements with saturated color. Bold, bright color is back in a big way, hurray! Pinks, greens, reds and blues continue to reign, but royal purple and lilac are making a comeback. One of my favorite ways to concentrate on color: Arrange your flowers in one dramatic hue, but vary the type and texture of the flowers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 gorgeous!

I have a list of posts I have promised to get out, but came across these dresses today courtesy of Cocktails and Details. These just scream the fashion forward bride, and me! I can just imagine the gorgeous ceremony and receptions that would accompany these dresses and it makes me giddy!
Cymbeline creates gorgeous wedding gowns for brides who want something that is high in fashion and high in personality. Formed by three talented sisters in Nemours, France, their designs are flawless and fabulous.

I can just see this flamenco style dress moving on the dance floor.

I am actually envisioning an Arizona/Southwest vibe from this design with elegance and simplicity.

This is perfect for the reception and definitely party worthy!

This is so delicate and feminine. This is destined for a garden wedding!

So elegant with the long stream of silver pearls. I can see this dress in many different venues; classy and timeless.

This is my favorite! So fashion forward, chic and eye catching.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Halloween Birthday Bash Inspiration Board

This board doesn't not even begin to describe the total feel of the Halloween Birthday Bash for Drew, but it's a start. It just means you'll have to stay tuned for the party pics!

Top Row: Martha Stewart

Second Row: Martha Stewart

Third Row: Oriental Trading, Family Fun

Fourth Row: Martha Stewart

Last Row: Oriental Trading, Martha Stewart

You will immediately know you are entering a haunted event when you are greeted by a floating Ghost and eerie lumanarias. You will hear the calls from beyond as you enter the Haunted House; it won't be too scary because these are six year olds! There will be plenty of carnival games, a mad scientist lab, ghoulish ghosts and creepie critters. Stay tuned...or else!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crash Course in Wedding Flowers Part II

I'm going to skip around and go ahead and post the interview with Julie Mendenhall Schaffer today and post the trends in wedding flowers as Post III. Julie did the flowers for my wedding over six years ago and we lost touch over the years, but now that we are both in the same business I decided it was the perfect time to interview her! For the purposes of this post, A Party to Perfection will be shortened to APTP... :-)

Meet Julie Mendenhall Schaffer, Owner of Jules Design Events

APTP: How did you get started in floral design?

JMS: My first job in High School was working for a wedding rental company in Van Buren, AR. I did all of the silk arrangements for the retail end of the store, ad we did all of our own delivering setup ad invitations. I started my interest in floral design at this time and made fresh arrangements for fundraisers and small events. I was not experienced enough to take on the task of wedding florals at this point and started at the University of Arkansas and went to Floral Design School so that Icould begin a part time job at a Fayetteville, AR florist. After graduation from the U of A, I moved to New York to get my foot in the door working in an architectural firm. Much to my surprise, my experience in floral design landed me a job within 7 days of heavy footwork searching for work. I had only thought of my love for floral design as a hobby an less as a career until this point in my life. My experience in New York made me realize that I could make this passion for floral design something I could enjoy everyday and turn into a "real job"!

APTP: What do you specialize in?

JMS: I specialize in Weddings, Corporate Events, and small parties. I am not a regular florist, which means I don't do daily deliveries to funeral homes, hospitals, etc. I concentrate on what I do best, large productions.

APTP: Do you work with the budget bride?

JMS: When asked "Do you work with the bride on a budget" it's always Yes, Yes, Yes!! Every bride has a budget. When working with a coordinator it's easy for me to determine how to spread the budget. The wedding coordinator has already worked out the budget over the many vendors and has already set my allowance aside. It is difficult for the average bride to set a budget. Some professionals say 20% of your wedding budget should be reserved for flowers, some price out per table, some say reception florals should be the majority of the budget because that is where the guests spend a majority of their time. I say-every client is different therefore, I am going to determine what is most important after our initial consultation.

APTP: Who is your favorite client to work with?

JMS: Those who have an open mind to what flowers are available during the season of your wedding date. Clients who are friendly and excited about exchanging wedding vows. I love to take the ideas that brides find in magazines and online and add a special touch that will make their flowers even more unique than they imagined.

APTP: Do you visit the venue(s) with your brides?

JMS: I do on site consultations for clients after they have booked me for their wedding date, at an hourly rate. Weddings that are booked at a higher price range are given a complimentary on sight consultation.

APTP: What trends are you currently seeing in wedding floral design?

JMS: I have several of my favorite designers and websites that I recommend by clients research before our initial consultation. It is hard to buy ten magazines with only ten photos of floral arrangments featured. I have a huge library with over fifteen years of photo collections. I think trends for flowers are mainly led by the color pallete that starts from the invitations, then linens, then florals are the accents that bring it all together to make that "big statement".

Trends that I'm seeing:

I started a small resale shop of Rhinestone accessories to help my brides who could not find these locally. I use brooches on the stems of bridesmaids' and bridal bouquets, and have used as accents on the front and back of wedding gowns and for cake decoration. I have bracelets that can be worn on wrists, wrapped around bridal bouquet stems, and have been used in place of wrist corsages for guestbook attendants.

APTP: Are you by appointment only?

JMS: I am by appointment only. You can email me what time(s) work best for you. During the busy season I do not set up consultations on Friday or Saturday. I am also available for evening appointments.

APTP: What is your favorite design to see?

JMS: I carry a wide range of birch and bark baskets and containers that I love to use. They are made locally from Arkansas products. I also use local mood grass, sheet grass, reindeer moss and pods. My favorite style of design is European design (loose fragrant flowers with unique foliage arranged loosely in a clear vessel with modern clean lines; no greenery, just local flowers.

APTP: How about going green?

JMS: I try to use as much local product as possible. I cannot use most standard flowers because they do not hold up for more than 48 hours, especially during the summer months. I try to use all local greenery, curly willow, sticks, peonies, gladiolas and iris. The cost of flowers that are grown in a "green" farm have not met my clients standards for quality vs. cost. These still have to be transported from out of the country or state which defeats the whole purpose of "being green" anyways. I also reuse. I strongly recommend using flowers from the Rehearsal dinner that coordinate with the colors of the wedding, so they can also be used at the reception. It has become harder to "double use" the ceremony altar flowers at the reception because guests are already gathered before flowers arrive from the church and it's just awkward walking through all of the guests to place an arrangement from the church on the buffet table. However, it is appropriate to reuse arrangements from the guestbook table because once doors are closed and the ceremony begins, the arrangements can be moved to the reception site. Guestbook arrangements can also be used as the toss-away bouquet or placed on the cake table. I have also made a small toss bouquet that was the cake topper with long ribbons streaming down the sides of the cake.

I would like to thank Julie Mendenhall Schaffer for taking time out to answer my questions. You can find Julie on her site , her facebook page or at the Bridal Fair on September 27th at the John Q. Hammons Center.

Breaking the Ice

We have all been to business meetings, networking events and weddings where you walk into the room and immediately look for people you know. We have also all taken part in some form of "ice breakers" before. You can either stick a post it note to your forehead and go around the room trying to get to know one another or stand up and metion something about yourself that no one else might know. Weddings are no exception. Except for the bridal party attire you will be sporting at the wedding and menton of your name in the program, many guests will not know your relationship with the Bride and/or Groom. These cute pins range from "Co-worker of the Bride" to "Boss of the Groom" and even "Significant Other" that are a cute way to let guests know your relationship with your bridal party. Psst..they're incredibly affordable. This one is only $3.99. Make sure to check them out.