The Tea

Elopement, A Real Wedding Option

Elope. This is the nuptial norm for most military couples, but what are elopements really like?  I’m breaking it down for all my traditional wedding people, who think eloping is a dirty word.  Elopements can actually range from a humble and sudden exchange of vows to a luxury experience.  Feeling a little spontaneous?  Let’s elope!

The original definition of an elopement is simply a no notice or secretive marriage that takes place with just the couple.  Many associate it with running off to Las Vegas or Mexico with the one you love with the intent of coming back with shared last names.  Today, some of the original framework still holds true, but additional guests or local elopements are becoming more common.  Generally speaking an elopement is planned under 90 days and has 5 guests or fewer.  Micro Weddings are equally as popular with military and civilian couples as it involves an intimate guest list of under 30 people.  Anything over that, you are just having a wedding.  I’ll break those down in a future post.

Focused On The Marriage Not The Wedding

The element that I love most about an elopement is the focus on the marriage as opposed to the other details which can be a bit of a distraction.  You aren’t worrying about appeasing family, friends or living up to any particular expectation.  The focus is put on the couple.  Their wants and wishes.  They hone in and make the day they choose to say “I do” special. 

Believe it or not, my husband and I eloped.  Yup!  I was head over heels for this promising Air Force pilot.  We knew it was serious by the second date when we were talking about credit scores and future plans.  We just knew.  Things moved fast, which is common in relationships with military members.  We took a hard look at finances and our future plans as we found out we were expecting.  Little did I know my husband to be would propose in December on Christmas day.  When asked about a wedding date we completely dismissed the idea as we figured we would wait until after the baby and settling in at whatever new base we would be assigned to.  Then we’d have a “real wedding”. 

By February I started thinking, “I really would like to be married by the time my son arrives.”  My husband said, “Okay, pick a day.”  I figured we could do it when all of our family was in town to visit for his UPT graduation, but my soon to be husband reminded me that if we are eloping we didn’t need everyone there as the mission was simply to get married.  He was right!  That weekend would have been focused on thirty other things besides the true focus, us.  Two weeks later I purchased a dress that fit my belly, had it hymned (because I’m short), made a bouquet with broaches and pink silk hydrangeas and made a bird cage head piece out of tulle and two bobby pins.  My husband wore his service dress uniform.  Our local church pastor married us since we had completed marriage counselling with him, which is uncommon for most elopements.  After the nuptials we went to our favorite Mexican Restaurant for dinner and some friends joined us.  One even made us a little cake!  This was a “real wedding” and it was perfect.  I remember thinking to myself, “I’d live in a cardboard box as long as it was with you.”  It showed and the few that witnessed could see it.  

Intimate & Personal Experience

There was something magical in those moments when all that mattered was just the two of us.  We later endured the wedding runaround as we wanted a celebration for our family and friends to be a part of.  My dad wanted to walk me down the aisle, for example.  Ultimately, I think we were less stressed over it because we had had our intimate experience via the elopement.  We said several times throughout planning that we wanted our guests to have a great time so the burden of the occasion was lifted.

The intimacy of an elopement is unmatched.  If you choose a Vegas adventure or a backdrop in the great outdoors, the couple has the opportunity to express themselves through their selection without the task of coordinating access for several people.  Think about it.  You can elope in a tropical cave under a waterfall, on the cliff of a national landmark or in any other place for that matter.  Sky’s the limit.  Many assume elopements mean a cheaper option, however that isn’t always the case.  The investment on the experience and details go directly to the couple’s enjoyment.  If they want to each enjoy a five star meal, exclusive photo shoot, personal fireworks show or anything else, they can do so.  You have the unique opportunity to create a once in a lifetime experience for just the two of you and the few you may ask to bear witness.

The must haves!

There are a few things I would definitely recommend when choosing to elope. 

·         Wedding Planner

·         Photographer

·         Videographer

·         Marriage Announcement

·         Wedding Video

·         “After Party”

You absolutely have to capture these moments so a photographer is a non-negotiable to me.  Having quality photos is one thing I promises you will not regret.  You can used them when sending your wedding announcement, which is another must do.  People should be informed of your new chapter and it’s nothing to hide or down play.  Eloping is a momentous occasion because it’s all about the marriage.  A videographer is a close second.  You will want to share the footage with those who weren’t there as well as reflect back on it for years to come.  Of course I’m going to tell you to get a planner.  I know, I know… I’m required to say that, but seriously!  A planner knows your location, has relationships with venues and knows policies or restrictions that may be vital to pulling things off with a short timeline.  I list this first as the planner can match you with an amazing photographer and videographer that fits your style.  Last, but not least you should have an amazing “after party”.

An after party can mean a lot of different things to different people.  It could be a honeymoon.  A romantic getaway or staycation that keeps with the idea of the focus being on the couple.  It could be an actual party.  Celebrate with friends and loved ones.  Big or small, whatever fits your taste.  Go to dinner after or do something exciting like bungee jumping or a tour of the local attractions where you eloped.  Either way, ensure that you celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!

FAQs for Wedding Planning Tech & Apps

Gone are the days of pen and paper to plan weddings, or at least for me that is.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still love to sketch and sometimes I’ll go sticky note crazy if I have a quick thought I need to get down, but ultimately I and other planners and brides are taking advantage of technology and apps that improve the wedding planning experience.  Below are three frequently asked questions I’ve gotten on wedding industry technology.  If you’d like to know more, simply email me or leave a comment.  Cheers!

 

How has technology evolved the wedding industry and wedding experience?

 

Technology has pushed the wedding industry forward by leaps and bounds.  The DIY bride can find tutorials on YouTube, the bride seeking inspiration goes to Pinterest and the budget conscious bride tracks spending using apps.  Industry professionals can extend their reach using video conferencing and virtual offices to conduct business and can increase productivity with management systems that reduce redundancies and keep information safe in the "cloud".  In my opinion apps have improved the wedding industry, but it is still the professionals’ responsibility to educate couples along the way.  One form of education is sharing the realities of cost in relation to the pretty images that are being pinned to boards or training them to use products to create a better service and planning experience.

 

What apps are changing the game for the planning of a wedding or the day of experience?

 

Photo Gathering App - Often times during weddings the couple will miss the majority of the moments going on.  The photographer expertly captures the beautiful moments the couple will reflect on, however for a quick glimpse of what's going on. I'd recommend a photo gathering app like wedbox or ceremony!  Guests can simple upload there pictures to your wedding hub and you can view them immediately.  This is great for the couple that may not want everything on social media or don't want to rely on guests using their hashtag when posting.  You even have options to get prints from the app.

 

Registry & Planning Apps - Big name wedding websites like the Knot, Wedding Wire and Zola now have apps where you can manage your registry, wedding website and even guest list.  These are quick and resourceful ways to have your information in one place and literally in the palm of your hand at any given moment.  Updates are quick and easy so it's a huge plus for planning couples.

 

How have brides and grooms upped the wedding must-haves by using tech, such as virtual reality, etc. on their big day?

 

Brides and grooms can now have a virtual reality experience of their wedding right in my office or their living room.  Planning features that I use as a wedding planner like All Seated allows me to do wedding layouts with details down to the napkin color.  With VR Goggles couples can walk through their ceremony and reception spaces and truly get a feel for what they can expect.  This is a game changer for couples who may be planning a destination wedding or are busy traveling.  Trouble shooting items for flow or compliance can result in an overall enhanced guest experience.

 

3 Fs You Wont Want to Forget!

Working with military and busy couples who want a customized experiences is what I love most, but the most rewarding part of my job is probably bringing to light those common forgotten items that the couple can’t afford to miss.  Think about it.  With so many details to comb through something can easily get missed or overlooked.  What if it’s something near and dear to you?  Or something that can hit your pockets hard?  No worries!  I’ve got you covered.  I love being ten steps ahead of the chaos so my clients can have a stress free and fun planning experience.  I worry about the details so they can focus on what's most important, each other.

In my experience the wedding planning details that most people don't think about are fees, fashion and the finale! 

 

Fees- When pricing venues and vendors it is common to see eager couples budget for the quoted price and completely misunderstand that that price does not include hefty additional like taxes, gratuities, damage or setup fees.  Always ask for an “out the door” price quote to ensure you are budgeting appropriately.  These fees can be thousands of dollars and nobody want’s that type of surprise weeks leading up to the wedding.

 

Fashion- I had a couple do a beach wedding in Florida.  The plan was for everyone to be barefoot in their cream tuxedos and ladies wore gold sandals. Great right!  Wrong.  After the beach ceremony was over the reception took place indoors and of course gentlemen wanted to put on their shoes.  Well, ironically no one thought about their socks.  I’ll just say white gym socks and black dress socks didn’t cut it so we evened up purchasing a more appropriate option.  Needless to say, I carry a spare set of socks in my “day of ready bag” and encourage couples to consider fashion accessories and details when gifting the bridal party and families.

 

Finale- The wedding day ending, the cake has been eaten and champagne is running low.  Success!  But wait, there is more… Who is picking up the ceremony and reception items you’d like to keep?  Are you getting your wedding dress preserved or are you donating it?  Are you having your bouquet dried?  Did you remember to tip your vendors?  Did you order thank you stationary to send to guests?  Name change?  Insurance?  Finances? Everyone plans for the wedding day, but often forget about the post wedding planning, which can be more important. Thinking through these final details can help you reduce stress and set you up for a smooth happily ever after.

 

You can get some additional tips from wedding industry pros and check out my feature on BoldSocks.com right here.

Enjoy the Ride of the Engagement

The one that makes your heart skip a beat has asked you the most important questions of your life.  “Will you marry me?”  With joy you accepted as you had already started picturing a life together and now it was becoming a reality.  This is a life changing moment!  One that you should remember and carefully weigh in your mind and your heart.  You are preparing to be in covenant with someone.  Ensuring the vows you say on the wedding day are words you really mean.  You should be enjoying one another.  Going on dates or long dinners.  Gazing in each other’s eyes and discussing your excitement, nervousness and future plans of growing old together.  So why on earth are you racing through Google, Pinterest and Instagram trying to plan your entire wedding, when you only said “Yes!” a few short hours ago?!

I get it.  Wedding planning is exciting.  There is so much to do.  Tons of decisions to make and options to weigh.  Venues and vendors book quickly.  You want everything to be perfect.  That is all great in theory, but the reality is you are missing out on your engagement trying to figure it all out at once.  To put it simply, wedding planning should not be your focus, marriage planning should be.

I was listening to Angela Proffitt’s podcast and her guest Peggy Kelly of Late Nite Bride made an excellent point on Episode 99.  She talks about an email she received around 11 PM one night from a lady named Debbie.  Debbie had just gotten engaged and was telling her that she was stressed out.  Debbie asked what she should do.  I love Peggy’s response.  She replied, “First of all, Congratulations.  Secondly, go to bed!  Tomorrow go on a really great date with your beloved and be IN your engagement.  Don’t worry about a thing, we’ve got you.”  This experience lead Peggy develop her show as a resource to brides and wedding professionals, which can be watched on Youtube, but her point was that she wanted this bride to get out of the mindset of tasks and into the heart of the relationship.  My favorite point made on the episode was that planning a wedding utilizes all the same tools you will need to plan a great marriage.  Communication, negotiation, budgeting, etc., which is so true.  I’d add that if the goal is only to use these skills to plan for that one day, you are missing out on the bigger picture.

I love to tell my couples that your wedding is just the launch party for a great marriage.  Usually launches occur for new products.  Well, your marriage is just that!  In product development there are phases of research and tweaking, enhancing and adjusting.  The engagement phase parallels to this.  Look at the root word of engagement.  It’s engage!  Are you engaged in your relationship?  Building it for a successful marriage?  Making the needed tweaks and adjustments?  This should be a fun time to really focus in on having a solid foundation or product that can be celebrated at your wedding. 

The road from “yes” to “I do” should be enjoyed not stressful.  Planning is important.  By no means am I downplaying the need to plan for the intricacies of a wedding.  What I am foot stomping is the importance of guarding your heart and your time from being consumed by planning an event and not enjoying what is happening in the moment.  Your engagement.  I’ll echo Peggy and tell you that as wedding planners, we’ve got you so enjoy the ride.

Year One

When you think of an infant turning one it is a major milestone.  So much growth and development takes place during that time.  We can say the same for us here at BC Works!  It is such a privilege to say that we have made it through our first year of business.  This year was filled with highs and many surprises.  It also had its challenges.  At every step of the way I can say we learned, grew and will be able to better posture ourselves for the future.  There is our take on year one, good and bad.

Reflecting on year one is tricky as it depends on the perspective taken with the review.  This year we continued to strive to show a brand that is well rounded in our three areas of arrangements, planning and events.  I’d say our favorite moments were Purpleptic, an event that raised funds and awareness for the Epilepsy Foundation of Louisiana and Wakanda Mixer, which provided an evening to mix, mingle and discuss the highly anticipated Marvel Black Panther movie while enabling us to raise funds to send Shreveport students to experience the film.  Both were very different events, but they become our top picks because of the cause tied to the events.  Our biggest surprises came in the form of the pitter-patter of little feet as we welcomed a new member to the BC Works family! 

"They became our top picks because of the cause..." - BC Works

Now for the not so great side of the business.  We don’t mind being transparent as it allows our clients to understand our business practices and helps educate other planners on precautions that should be taken.  Our three big lessons for our first year are as follows:

1.       Scam attempts in the event planning business are real!  We love to provide service to genuine customers, however some may have negative intentions.  Requests for BC Works to purchase items, make down payments or any other exchanges without a signed contract, deposit or payed invoice will not be accommodated.  We want to protect the client and ourselves, which is why work is never done on an empty promise.

2.       Intellectual property (like concepts and designs) may not always be respected.  BC Works loves to provide innovative ideas and designs for every event or celebration.  We love thinking big and taking your concept to the next level.  That is why we love what we do.  Unfortunately, this is not always respected.  No worries!  This is where our Non- Disclosure Agreement comes into play.  We take pride in what we provide and don’t want our ideas or processes wrongfully taken or duplicated without our consent.  This guarantees the client a phenomenal and unique concept every time!

3.       It’s okay to turn down business.  I know this does not sound like a popular thing to do, but it makes great business sense.  We want to ensure that we are a great fit for our clients and are able to provide them what they need.  If we can identify early on that we are unable to provide the quality that we stand by due to constraints such as budget, timeline or other commitments, we feel it is best to respect each client and let them know that we may not be a good fit.  Saying no is hard, but may save both parties from a headache.

Overall, we had an awesome year.  We are so excited to continue to grow and take on new clients and partnerships.  Our team is growing with great talent and we are excited about the quality we will be able to provide!  Raise your glasses and let’s cheers to a great year knowing that the best is yet to come!!