wedding planning

Quick Guide To Summer Wedding Dos & Don'ts

2019 Summer is upon us and busy couples are putting their finishing touches on details.  Here are a few Dos and Don't for you to consider.




- Stay hydrated.  


There is nothing romantic about having guests, your wedding party or even worse, the couple fall out at the alter because they have not drank the proper amount of water.  Ensure that you keep hydrated and provide guests opportunities to hydrate as well. 


- Have an backup plan.


Summer time can mean 100+ degrees, summer showers and thunderstorms depending on what area you live in.  This may affect your ceremony or reception so have a plan.  This may include a tented structure with a cooling system or an indoor venue to keep the party going.  Work with your planner or the venue to discuss options that are a good fit your you.


- Be vibrant.


Summer fun and fashion go hand in hand.  Choose colors like "living coral", the pantone color this year or others that bring vibrant and  trendy flair to your celebration.  Color, not your jam.  No worries!  You do not have to take this concept overboard and have your event look like a tie die shirt.  Find ways to bring pops of color into your design that stays true to your style and tone of your celebration.



- Skimp on the amenities.


You want guests to be comfortable and truly enjoy their time during your wedding celebration as some may be using their vacation time to travel to your event.  Budget to accommodate guests and make the trip a memorable one.  I love to see couples offer information on local attractions or provide welcome bags with locally resourced items.  Investing in experiences will truly make your guests appreciate your thoughtful planning and make for an amazing time for everyone. 


- Feel Obligated to a seasonal theme.


Just because it's summer does not mean you are obligated to a beach themed wedding.  Your celebration should be authentic and speak to your personality as a couple.  Ditch the sea shells and look at design options that are meaningful and tailor your wedding experience to be true to who you are. 

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.


Shhhhhh! - Planning A Surprise Event

That famous line that everyone cheers as an unassuming person walks into their party.  They never knew it was coming and either meet the experience with laughter, tears, or confusion as to how the group was able to keep this from them.  Either way, everyone deserves a fun surprise in life rather it be big or small.

Surprises are a great way to step up a celebration, weather the entire event is a surprise or elements of the event is a surprise.  I am super excited to share on planning a surprise event as I’m working on a surprise wedding for a fantastic couple.  I won’t say too much, but trust I’ll share those highlights once it’s all said and done.  Back to surprise events… Who doesn’t love a surprise?!  Okay, some may not, but I think it has more to do with their need to be in control or the fear that a detail could be missed.  I’ve pulled off a few great surprise events so I wanted to share the key elements that make them work.

1.       Informants and Under Cover Agents! A spy is a person employed to seek out top secret information from a source.  They are a huge asset in planning a surprise of any type.  They need to provide very specific details and pass them along discreetly.  A great example of this is a gentleman getting assistance from his girlfriend’s friends to find out the type of ring she would like for a proposal.  That is some pretty detailed intel and when done right can make for a truly special moment. 

2.       Know your audience.  A lot of assumptions and decisions will be made regarding what the honoree would enjoy and what the guests will enjoy.  The uniqueness of a surprise event is that both guests and honoree(s) have little to no knowledge of what to expect.  You as the planner or organizer have the responsibility of appealing to both.  Let’s start with who the surprise is for.  Do they like minimalist or extravagant things?  Intimate settings or larger crowds?  Loves adventure or is comfortable with the familiar?  Are the receptive to surprises at all?  All these elements should guide what is done and how it is done.  The guests that attend are the secondary audience to consider.  While the honoree(s) may drive the tone and style, the guests determine size and the logistical constraints of the event. 

3.       Budget wisely.  Surprises don’t have to be expensive.  They can be cost effective as a lot of the value is in the thoughtfulness of doing it in the first place.  With any event the cost and value of things need to be weighed carefully.  You need to be mindful of the honoree’s thoughts and values as it relates to spending.  Do they thing balloons are a waste of money or do they value a great meal?  If the individual’s finances are tied to the honoree being surprised, this can be tricky!  Responsible spending is that much more important in this scenario. 


Here are my top 5 favorite surprises:

#5 “Just because” flowers delivered to home or work place.

#4 Nested Boxes that start off huge and end with a small thoughtful token.

#3 Surprise Birthday parties with guests from out of town.

#2 Gender Reveal using a Ferris wheel!

#1 Surprise Wedding!

Military Wedding Planning Guide

As a military spouse and event planner, I’d have to say a military wedding is one of my favorite things.  It’s like a great cake with so many layers.  You have the personality of the couple, military history and tradition, the typical wedding “to dos” and the big “P”, protocol.  Planning and designing a military wedding is extremely rewarding and is truly an honor to do.  Here is a guide to planning the perfect military wedding.


There are some basic steps to planning a wedding, which should especially be followed with a military wedding.  These include booking a venue, consider pre-marital counseling and wedding insurance.  Although these seem like items that can be glossed over as no brainers, there are additional considerations to evaluate with a military wedding.

Finding the right wedding venue may be challenging.  The dynamics of this I’ll go over in another blog, but the big question for this discussion is if you plan to have events on a military installation or not.  Booking on an installation comes with some perks of waived or reduced costs and the added benefit of the heritage of the facilities.  For ceremonies consider the chapels and even Academy Chapels like the Military Academy Chapel, Naval Academy Chapel or the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel.  These facilities can be very popular so booking early would be in the couple’s best interest.  Installation Clubs or Museums can make a beautiful backdrop for a reception with most that cater, which is one less item on the list.  The challenge with wedding events on the installation is access.  Military members will have the proper credentials and identification for access, however civilian guest will need to get temporary access to enjoy the festivities.  This can be accomplished by working with that installations security or entry control personnel.  Typical information needed are the names, numbers and identification number (license or last four of social security number) for each guest.  Build in processing times to get guests approved for access.

Pre-marital counseling is another great example of the resources available to the military couple.  They can decide if they’d like to meet with a chaplain or civilian clergy member for this.  Some states offer discounts to marriage licenses when counseling is accomplished, which is why it’s worth looking into.  Also, this is a great way to discuss what can be expected when marrying into the military.  Civilian to military or military to military, the challenges are unique and should be consider before walking down the aisle.  The strength of our armed forces comes from the strength of our military families, which is why pre-marital counseling is so important.

I cannot say enough about insurance, but in short I’ll quote Nike, “Just do it!”.  Insurance for any wedding is great to have as it can protect against natural disasters, business closures and other unforeseen things.  Most of all it can protect military couples as they are subject to an ever changing operational schedule and deployments may speed up or prolong a timeline.  The key is to be clear on what type of coverage you have for your wedding as well as understanding the contractual agreements you have with your venue and vendors.


Now to the fun stuff!  Our military members sacrifice so much for our country and deserve to enjoy the celebration of love on their wedding day.  They have the unique opportunity to pull in elements of their service branch and military heritage, which makes it like none other.  Here are some fun things to remember when planning your military wedding:   

1.       There is no official protocol for military weddings.  What does this mean?  Simply that you can customize the level of military traditions you’d like to add to your ceremony and reception.  Go all out or add a small touch to honor the service of the bride and/or groom.  There is no wrong way to do this.  Care, however, should be taken in what you do decide to execute as there are procedures and standards that should be maintained with each tradition. 


2.       We love a man or woman in uniform.  It’s true!  Either or both members in the couple can wear uniform on their special day.  Even bridesmaids and groomsmen can join in and wear their uniforms too.  The big takeaway would be to wear the same uniform equivalent for dress uniform (Ex: Blues) or formal uniform (Ex: Mess Dress).  Also, gentleman would not wear a boutonniere with their uniform as it would interfere with metals, badges or insignia. 


3.       Saber anyone?  Most military weddings are identified by the sword or saber arch.  Usually this is made up of six to eight service members in uniform, who make an arch with the sabers for the bride and groom to walk under after the ceremony.  Usually this is done indoors, however Air Force and Army saber arches may be done outside.  Don’t put the sword away so soon!  Sabers may also be used when cutting the wedding cake.


4.       Don’t forget the music!  Another great way to weave in some military heritage is by playing the member(s) branch’s song.  This theme song is known by its members and create a great moment for all attending to sing along as they celebrate.  Keep the party going with popular songs that nod to the military, its heritage or the career(s) of the couple.  Getting creative with music is an easy way to carry on the theme of the evening.


With some planning you can pull off a great military wedding to remember.  If this all seems a little overwhelming there are great resources you can use to assist.  Reach out to the protocol office or installation chaplain.  They can provide insight on how to properly address and accommodate service member on a program, invitation or seating chart as well as protocol during a ceremony.  You can also reference the protocol instruction, which is the written standard for all things protocol.  Finally, you can seek out a planner who can assist you with your planning.  Overall, you can plan an amazing celebration when you keep in mind all the layers that go into a military wedding and the best part is you can have your cake and eat it too!

Why This Planner Wishes She Had a Planner

It’s my big day! I said “Yes” and now I can throw all my creative juices and energy into planning and designing the exact wedding I want.  I know who to call on to execute the vision, and I don’t need a planner… right? 

Wedding design and planning had always been a passion of mine.  I mean, I loved scrolling through Pinterest and pinning inspiration on my board.  I loved the logistics of moving parts and timelines and critical path resolution, you know the nerdy stuff.  I come from a creative circle, so I was excited to solicit products and services to support friends and family businesses.  It was a no brainer.  I totally had it all under control.  This is the attitude of most DIY brides and trust me I wore it proudly.  My husband went along for the ride figuring that going “planner-less” would save money, so he just added his input on the things he cared about, and I took care of the rest.  We made it 12 months, 6 months, 1 week and then the wedding weekend was here.  Family came in from across the country, college friends met our local friends, and we kicked of a magical weekend filled with love and appreciation for those that supported us.  Done!

About a month later we met with the wedding photographer to check out all the beautiful moments that were captured from our wedding day.  As we clicked through our gallery I just couldn’t help myself.  It’s like the more I clicked the more my eyes were opened.  I noticed everything.  I mean EVERYTHING!  I missed so much.  “When did they take that picture?”  “Who put that there?”  “Where did that go?” I noticed everything that did not go as planned.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved each photo and every memory captured, but in looking back I realized that a lot of things just didn’t get done.

My favorite examples to set the scene would probably be the groomsmen’s tuxedos.  My husband chose a mix of friends that were military and non-military to be by his side.  We wanted them all to have the same type of look, so the Airmen were asked to wear their blue mess dress (formal military uniform) and the search began to find a place to rent or purchase blue tuxedos.  The navy tux had just hit the market and we selected the only vendor in town that carried this option.  Perfect! We get to support local business and keep with our style concept.  Groomsmen sent in their measurements, paid deposits and were good to go.  Well, because we were so ahead of the trend about two weeks from the wedding we get a call from the vendor saying that our specific pick of tuxedo, that new navy color, wouldn’t be available until a month after our wedding day.  Furious is an understatement of how I was feeling!  The vendor discounted the rentals greatly and offered a grey or black option.  We went with grey given the color palate we had and there they were.  Those grey tuxedos glaring back at me in every groomsmen picture.  Did it look bad? No! Was it what we wanted?  No! 

A wedding planner is an advocate for the couple.  He or she maintains a level head, can think through sourcing options, and then discuss ways to resolve the situation with vendors.  With a planner we could have looked into options of finding a new vendor.  The internet is a great resource and although outside the buy local plan, was still a viable alternative.  Refunds could have been negotiated due to inability to provide the agreed upon goods or service, but most of all, not having to deal with the headache and stress that comes with having to change one of the main things we wanted for our wedding.  Having an advocate on your side along the way can make things run much smoother and more efficiently.

The day of a wedding is always hectic.  A “day of coordinator” would have helped a little, but month of services for sure is the way to go if you choose to handle all your details.  A planner ends up being your quality control (QC).  Combing through your details to ensure it is how you would want it to be is crucial.  I missed out on having that QC.  Our planner would have caught those cake boxes that were in the chair and left out while the photographer took pictures of the room.  He or she would have asked the caterer to change out that red plate the cheesecake was served on, which not in our color palate.  I even believe the planner would have enhanced our travel theme as they would have noticed the lack of luggage that was left at our home that was supposed to make up our baggage/gift check area.  Don’t get me wrong, our family and friends pulled together to help out and we had an amazing time, but they couldn’t have known what details to check for and things to look out for.  QC is huge at any event especially a wedding.

I know I seem like a bias source, but let me be frank for a second.  The amount of money we “saved” is not worth the time I could have spent with my grandparents that traveled from New Jersey, the conversations I missed having with my friends from Texas or going down memory lane with my sorority sisters.  I was running around doing it all, so I missed that.  All I’m saying is you shouldn’t have to.  I think about how much more I could have enjoyed our wedding day if we were just all relaxing and allowing a team to run the show.  Those are moments we really can’t recreate and if I could have done it differently I would definitely choose a planner. 

Investing in professionals who have your best interest at heart is what it’s all about.  Planners relieve stress and free up your time.  My planner would have kept me from buying things I didn’t really need, been my advocate and quality control specialist.  They would have kept every vendor focused and in line with our design and timeline so that the only thing I thought of while looking through those pictures are how much fun we had.  Everyone has to weigh the benefits for themselves, but take it from this planner who needed a planner… WORTH IT!