tip of the week: traditions: keep’em or toss’em

Hello everyone!

I feel terrible, as I skipped my “tip of the week” last week. It’s been absolutely hectic
here in our office, as wedding season is now only a few short weeks away. I have been
spending a lot of time with my clients preparing their wedding day schedules, and inevitably
one question always pops up: What about the “traditional”? What has to stay? What can go?

So I’ve decided that today’s tip will be all about traditions. Some are old, some are new,
and depending on the couple, some are altogether obsolete. Still, there is something nice
about traditions. They are what our parents did, and their parents did before them, and
their parents’ parents did way back when. Traditions attach us to our history and give us a
sense of belonging. And when it comes to weddings, they also usually make our parents happy.

For the sake of keeping this post as short as possible, I will stick to
our predominantly Anglo-Saxon/European traditions. I do promise you
that I will eventually pop something up about other cultures’ traditions.

1- Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue:
I have to say, this one is probably my favorite tradition of all.
Originating in England sometime around the 16th century,
this tradition carries the following meaning:

Something old: To remind the bride of her past and attachment to her family.

Something new: For optimism and hope in regards to her new nuptials.

Something borrowed: This item is usually borrowed from a happily married friend,
and is supposed to confer good fortune to the newlywed couple.

Something blue: Blue being considered the color of purity,
this item is a good luck charm and promises the bride that her groom will be true to her.

And the best part is, you can incorporate this into your wedding and be very
discrete about it. Something old can be a piece of jewelry or a veil that has been
in your family for generations. Something new is usually your dress or shoes,
so that’s no biggie. Something borrowed can again be jewelry, perhaps your
grandmother’s pearls or your mother’s clutch. And something blue
can be hidden (think lacy lingerie and garter).

2- Tossing the garter: Contrary to “something old, something new”,
the tossing of the garter is probably one of my very least favorite traditions.
If you only knew its origins, I promise you would feel about it the same way I do.
To sum it up, the tossing of the garter is a modern remainder of a
medieval custom known as the “stripping of the bride”, where wedding guests tore off
the bride’s garments to help the groom consummate the marriage. Enough said.

3- Bridesmaids: Originally, bridesmaids would be dressed exactly like the bride,
and walked ahead of her during the processional to divert the evil spirits.
This is where the famous saying comes from: “Thrice a bridesmaid, never a bride”.
Today, however, this tradition has long lost its roots.

Our bridesmaids are our best friends (and obviously we’d never put them in
harm’s way, a.k.a. evil spirits), our confidantes, our allies.
The maid of honor holds our bouquet and helps to throw the bridal shower,
among other things. If you are going for a simple, no fuss kind of wedding, it’s still
very touching to your closest friends (or sisters) if you incorporate them into
your bridal party. Let them wear a dress of their choice, if you’re not big on
matchy-matchy outfits. Let them sit with their sweethearts at the reception.
Do whatever it takes, but trust me (from experience), if you don’t
make them stand by you at the altar, you might regret it some day.

4- The head table: Ah, the eternal debate! As a wedding planner,
I can guarantee you that I’ve seen them all. From 24-seat extra long tables
to couple-only 2-seaters, I think I’ve pretty much done them all.

Here’s how the story originally goes: Boy decides to get a bride.
Boy gets his bffs and gallops off to the nearest village.
Boy hides in bushes, spots a heavenly maiden, grabs her by the hair,
and drags her back to his village. Then boy makes said maiden his bride,
and calls the entire village to a feast to come and look at his bride.
Hence, the necessity for a long everyone-facing-forward kind of table.

Although tossing this tradition is still a big no-no among many cultures,
more and more couples are deciding to forgo the traditional head table in lieu
of something a little more intimate. So here’s some food for thought:

A rectangular table: The bride and groom still sit facing all of their guests,
with either their parents or maid of honor / best man by their side.
But instead of sitting everyone on only one side of the table, guests are seated along
3 sides of the table, leaving only the side directly opposite the newlyweds open.
This configuration allows for easier conversation and a more intimate layout.

Twelve’s a crowd: If your bridal party is overwhelmingly large, try to
split the head table into 2 or 3 smaller tables. One option that seems to work really
well is to keep the head table for the newlyweds and their maid of honor / best man.
You can then have 2 tables right in front of the head table,
one for each family (think parents, grandparents, etc).

The sweetheart table: The sweetheart table is altogether
unconventional, but can work really well given the right crowd and
layout. This table is only for the bride and groom, who sit side by side.
Two chairs are set right in front of them, inviting different guests
to come and join them at different times throughout the night.
This is definitely not for the uber-traditional couple, but it allows
you to enjoy all of your guests’ company without having to get up.

And there you have it! There are many, many other wedding traditions,
but there just isn’t enough room to cover them all. Some are more widespread,
some are family-related. Here what I’d like to know:
Which traditions are you incorporating into your wedding?
Which ones are you tossing?


tip of the week: in timely fashion


I hope you’ve all had a splendid week. I’ve blogged about picking vendors,
staying on budget, and staying cool. I think that the time has come for us to
talk a little bit about time in general (well, only when pertaining to your wedding).

I recently booked a bride whose wedding is {gasp} in 3 months from now.
If you haven’t felt the panic, let me rephrase. Her wedding is in ninety days,
and she has absolutely nothing booked. Now, I definitely love a good challenge,
and as a wedding planner, there are definitely a few strings
I can pull to make sure this wedding turns out flawless.

But if you are flying this one solo, or if you would simply like to be kinder to
your wedding planner (and wedding vendors at large), here are a few tips to
help you stay on time when planning your wedding.

1- Set a budget: You just got engaged, congratulations!
Take as long as you need to enjoy this blissful time, but before
you get pulled in by frilly pouffy dresses and diamond-
encrusted Manolos, please sit down with your sweetheart and talk money.
Painful as it may be, there is no sense in planning a wedding if you don’t know
how much you can actually spend. Oh yes, and obviously, pick a date.

2- 9-16 months before W-Day: Book your venue.
This might sound logical to someone who, like me,
is an organizational freak, but you wouldn’t believe
how many panicked calls I get from brides who photographer,
florist, and dress in tow don’t have a venue with 6 months to go.
Don’t forget that most venues don’t do just weddings,
so securing a booking for the date of your choice
means planning well ahead of time.

3- 8-12 months before W-Day: Dress up! Boys get to walk into a store,
pick a tux, get fitted, and 2-3 weeks later, voila! But us girls,
being all picky and precious that we are… Well, let’s just say
that the shopping can be lengthy, finding THE dress can be even lengthier,
and then it can take up to 6 months to get in store, plus alterations, changes…
You get the point. Start shopping.

4- Book the most expensive items first: Things like chocolate truffle
bonbonnieres and teal invitations are always readily available.
But good photographers, amazing dj’s, special entertainment, and {ahem}
wedding planners usually only take on one event per day.
So, if you love em, book em. As soon as you can.

And there you have it! Once your venue, planner, photographer, dj, and
caterer are booked, and your dress ordered, you can relax and actually get
down to the fun stuff. Flowers, cake tasting, and decor rentals, here we come!


tip of the week: how to not be a bridezilla

Hello everyone!

The weather has gone downhill here in Montreal, which sadly hasn’t got me thinking
very happy thoughts today. So, in the spirit of all things cold and unpleasant,
I thought I’d write a little something about bridezillas.

When I tell people that I am a wedding planner, one of the most common comments
I get in return is “wow, you must deal with a lot of bridezillas!”. For those of you not
yet familiar with this term, a bridezilla is basically a bride gone bonkers. Lucky for me,
most brides who choose to hire a wedding planner don’t actually have anything to go
bonkers over, since they have someone else handling all the stress for them.

But, probability being what it is, I did once, and only once, have a bride go bonkers on me.
Don’t get me wrong: I usually really don’t like to “kiss and tell”, and so I promise I will not
give any details as to who she was, where the wedding was held, or any other info that
might lead you to guess her identity. But I do think it might be helpful if I shared with you
some of the do-s and don’t-s of being a bride.

1- Treat thy neighbor kindly: This bride started out absolutely lovely,
but as the planning process advanced, she became increasingly mean.
Once, we were driving to visit a venue, and when her phone rang, she threw
it at me and said “pick it up and take a message”.
Wedding planner, yes. Personal assistant? No.

2- And remember that your wedding vendors are also people:
When it came time to plan the actual wedding day, I kindly mentioned to this bride
that she was expected to provide a meal for all the vendors who would be on location all day
(the dj, the photographer, and myself). She raised her eyebrows in complete disbelief, and answered:
“What? Can’t you bring a sandwich or something?”. I don’t mean to be rude,
and I definitely do not expect to eat lobster, but come on!
Please remember that a hungry dj is a grumpy dj…

3- Don’t forget to share vital info with your wedding planner:
So, the wedding day rolled around, I drove the 2 hours to this location in the wee hours
of the morning, booked a hotel room, set up the room, went to take a shower, changed
into my beautiful pale blue Andy The Anh suit, went to see the bride… And the first words
out of her mouth, as she opened the door, were: “Eeew! You’re wearing blue! I f**ing hate that color!”.
Nice. If you really don’t want to see something at your wedding,
please be kind enough to advise your wedding planner before the wedding.

4- And finally, remember that there are things that simply cannot be controlled:
Unfortunately, this bride could not be satisfied. When I say unfortunately,
I mean unfortunately for everyone involved, including herself. She threw a fit when
it got cloudy. She threw a bigger fit when it started raining,
(although the wedding was held inside). She complained “post factum”
that guests got lost on their way (although we had provided very clear directions).
She complained that her steak was bloody in the center (although she
had asked for medium-rare). She complained that it was windy, that the guests
didn’t drink enough at the open bar, that the ceiling was too low. I can only begin
to imagine how unhappy she must have been on her own wedding day.

As I mentioned before, most, if not all, of my brides are always happy and relaxed.
A lot of them become dear friends and we stay in touch long after the honeymoon is over.
The trick to having a happy, merry wedding is not something that’s measured with budget
or size or elaborate-ness. Remember that you are getting married to the love of your life.
Communicate with your vendors.

And let the old man upstairs control the weather.


tip of the week: picking the right vendors

Hello, hello!

I started this “tip of the week” thing last week with a post on how to stay on budget,
so it felt right to follow up today with a how-to on the actual art of booking wedding vendors.

If you are planning your wedding, or if you are simply obsessed with weddings,
you might have noticed that this industry is like a shark tank. There are literally hundreds,
if not thousands, of different vendors, from venues to djs and from florists to wedding planners,
and everyone’s in for a piece of the pie.

So how do you decide who to work with? Picking the wrong vendors can have a pretty
disastrous effect on your wedding day. I have heard all sorts of horror stories; you know,
the “oh-my-god my photographer is driving me insane” and the “my cake was never delivered”
stories that make you wonder whether you even want to get married in the first place.

Thankfully, none of these have ever happened to me. Well, I am a wedding planner,
so if it did happen I guess I wouldn’t have that good of a rep! Here are some tips that,
I hope, will help you make wise decisions:

1- Big isn’t necessarily better: Just because someone has a lot of visibility doesn’t
necessarily mean that they offer good service. It only means that they have a generous
account for advertising. So do your research. Ask to speak with previous clients, and get their
feedback. Were they happy with the service? Was there anything they wish
would have been done differently? How was their overall experience?

2- Ask yourself: Is this what I want? You might love the Queen Elizabeth Hotel,
but if their smallest room fits 200 and your guest list is barely making it to 100, this
might not be the place for you. You won’t believe how many calls I get from brides in
distress, telling me that they booked a venue months ago and are now stuck with a hall
too big/too small, not knowing how to re-arrange the space.

3- Cheaper isn’t necessarily better either: Sure, not everyone charges the same fee
for a similar service, and if you are budget-conscious, you might be more attracted by the
good offers and deals. However, before you jump on the discount bandwagon, ask yourself if
you’re actually getting your money’s worth. Photography would be a good example for this.
Depending on the photographer you’re looking at, prices can range from 2,000$ to 5,000$,
and anywhere up and down from there. But what exactly are you getting in return?
Do you like that photographer’s style? Are you getting a dvd with your pictures?
How many hours do you get? Prints? Albums? etc.

4- Go with your heart: Shopping for wedding vendors is definitely one place where you’re
allowed (and even encouraged) to be an emotional shopper. You will be sharing the most
important day of your life with these people, so if someone gives you an icky or
uncomfortable feeling, run the other way. Anyone who will be present at the wedding
(photographers, planners, caterers, etc) should totally get your vision and share it with you.
That’s one thing money can’t buy!

Happy shopping!


tip of the week: staying on budget

I was recently interviewed for Bride & Groom, a new Canadian bridal magazine.
The fact that I was being interviewed was exciting in and of itself, but it also got
me thinking that it was right about time I started sharing some helpful tips on this blog.

And so this first Tip Of The Week was born. Today’s subject?
The most important one of all: How to get married
and not break the bank while going at it.

It has to be said, planning a wedding has a pretty bad rep.
It’s known for its breakdowns, family feuds, bridezillas,
and definitely its expensive-ness. But with careful planning,
it doesn’t need to be any of these things. Here’s the How-To:

1- Decide how much you can actually spend:
Before you throw yourself into dress-shopping and venue-booking,
it’s important to know (in advance) how much of it you can actually afford.
This means that you need to sit down with your sweetheart and actually talk mullah.
And yes, if any of your parents/grandparents/step-parents are pitching in,
they should be part of this conversation. Painful as it may be,
don’t procrastinate this first step; it will avoid you a lot of pain down the road.

2- Book the big ticket items first:
If you start shopping for table centerpieces and the perfect jewelry right away,
your wedding planning is most likely to turn into a disaster. So stay focused!
First, you need to know where the wedding will be held.
By “where” I mean ceremony and reception. This will influence most of the
bookings that will come after, so make sure you get it right.
Once the venue(s) are secured, the remaining big ticket items are photo, video,
and wedding planner (some couples prefer to book a wedding planner first,
but that’s a whole other story…). These vendors usually book months,
if not years, in advance, and securing them early in your planning process
will ensure that you get to work with your favorite people.

3- Prioritize:
Once you’ve booked the biggest items, the fun stuff can begin.
And so, not surprisingly, this is also where catastrophe usually begins to loom.
I always suggest that my couples take a good look at their budget and decide what it is that’s
actually important to them. Love to eat but don’t care for flowers? Splurge on your menu
and forget the 200$ centerpieces. Don’t care for food but want a great party?
Throw a “cocktail dinatoire” instead of a traditional sit-down dinner and splurge on
great ambiance decor. Which brings me to point number four…

4- Stay true to who you are:
The best way to throw your budget out the window is to approach
your wedding as if it was a magazine layout. Don’t forget: This is your wedding,
not someone else’s. Figure out what is of utmost importance to you and your future spouse,
and stick to it. Don’t let anyone talk you into having a wedding of epic
proportions if all you want is a star-lit backyard barbecue.
If you typically love to entertain your close ones with great food and wine,
then it’s most likely that your wedding will be successful (and on budget)
if you stick to the same game plan. If you are in love with a particular band or dj,
go ahead and book them, and perhaps decide to go with a simpler invitation to balance out.

Whatever the case may be, unless you are lucky enough to be able to afford everything
your heart desires, remember to always stay true to who you are as a couple.
With enough perseverance and communication, your budget should stay true to you as well!