Idea of the Week

Idea of the Week
Purses and Clutches by Ikestaedt

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ettiquette Question from 7/19 Bridal Guide

Reprinted from the Bridal Guide e-newsletter on July 19, 2007,


'Q: I am really feeling overwhelmed. My job is demanding - I have to put in long hours, travels and even work some weekends. My fiance is just as busy. We both feel that there's no time to tackle planning details. A friend suggested hiring a wedding consultant. What exactly do they do and how much do they cost?
- Huntsville, Alabama

A: Sounds like you are an ideal customer for a wedding consultant! A good consultant can do many things: He or she is a professional party planner, with experience in coordinating all types of weddings, who can not only save you time but may also be able to save you money. Because of their extensive contacts, consultants can often get discounts from vendors. They will work with your budget and make sure you get the most for your money- negotiating contracts with vendors as well as coordinating and supervising details and, in general, keeping things organized and on schedule. Your wedding consultant will advise you about etiquette and offer creative and cost-cutting tips.

Consultants fees vary according to where you live, how big a wedding you are having and how much time the consultant spends on the job. But you can expect to pay in one of three ways: Some consultants charge an hourly rate (anywhere from $75 to $200 per hour), others charge a flat fee and still others may ask for a percentage (usually 10% to 15%) of the entire cost of the wedding.

If you think you may not be able to afford a consultant to plan your entire wedding, consider hiring one for an initial three-hour consultation to get you started and help map out a schedule of what you need to do. You can also bring in a consultant at any point during the planning process or hire one just for the wedding day itself to keep things running smoothly. In light of your demanding jobs and busy lifestyles, its certainly worth looking into... Chances are you will have less stress, more peace of mind and will really be able to enjoy the months before your wedding.'

I agree with everything except the reference to party planners! I prefer to use the term event planners :-) I also want to stress that true professional wedding planners who charge a percentage of your wedding are not doing so to up-sell in order to make a larger fee. Professional planners are ethical, they want to give you the most within your budget, and charging a percentage is their chosen fee structure. Those who charge a percentage do so because the amount you are spending generally relates to the amount of hours the planner will spend putting all of the details in place and creating a flawless day for you and your fiance.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Love your vendors, Love yourself

Want a stress-free wedding? The relationships that you have with your vendors are key. From your venue to the person delivering your chairs, all of your vendors have the ability to make or break your wedding. Will you have brunch with the person creating your wedding cake every Sunday - probably not (but you never know!) - but you should still feel comfortable with them being a part of your special day.

One of the reasons that I always recommend working with a professional wedding planner, is the relationships with local companies. Your wedding planner rubs elbows with the best of the best in your town/suburb/city and therefore can make sure you have the latest and greatest products, the best pricing, and spectacular service. Can you still have all of this without a professional planner? Yes, by doing your homework!

Where to start? Recommendations from friends or co-workers who are recent brides or who entertain are always the best. You have a first-hand account of a vendor's interaction with a client and you can see the finished product (or pictures) in an un-biased way.

Another great idea is to look at the websites of professional organizations - whether national or local. Vendors who take the time to be part of these kinds of organizations value their craft and work to educate themselves at being the best caterer, florist, etc. that they can be. A good place to start is the International Special Events Society ( where you can search for planners and vendors alike. The Association of Bridal Consultants ( again has listings of planners and vendors in different regions. For caterers you might try the National Association of Catering Executives ( The Knot also produces an annual vendor guide for different regions across the country.

Search like a professional, my number one resource for vendors is BizBash (, a magazine for event professionals with publications in New York, Los Angeles, Florida, Toronto and soon to be Washington, DC. You can search their sight for mention of a vendor you are considering, or look through their directory for ideas. The pages of BizBash also present some fantastic inspirations for flowers, decor and catering!

Once you've narrowed down your choices, it is important to meet with your vendor. Know what your budget (or range) is and have an idea of what you are looking for. Even if you know nothing about flowers (or what is available during the season of your wedding), look through magazines and have an idea of what you like. Know what colors you are interested in working with, or what the color scheme of your wedding will be. A professional will be able to share their knowledge with you, walk you through what works for your budget, and most importantly take the $3,000 centerpiece you have a picture of and create something equally beautiful for your $300 budget!

Trust your gut. A professional should treat you with the same respect whether you have a $100,000 budget or a $15,000 budget. Meet with a few vendors and choose someone who understands your vision, who keeps in contact with you, and who you get a good vibe from. If the bad vibes start during the initial interview, chances are they will not get better. Like I said above, they may not become your best friend forever, but they will do their best to provide you with a great product, on budget and delivered on time.

Even if you have a great relationship with your vendor, make sure to protect yourself and your investment. While you may not want to think about problems on your wedding day, a detailed contract will help make sure that your wedding is flawless (again, if possible, it is always great to have the advice of a professional wedding planner during vendor negotiations). Be as detailed as possible in your contract. If you are certain that your guests will be creating long lines at the bar, make sure you have noted that you need 2 or 3 bartenders per bar. If you aren't sure what is included in the price, ask questions. Most vendors have a system for figuring out have many waiters, how many bartenders, etc. based on the number of guests. But you know your crowd, if you will need extra servers to cater to your picky eaters, or more attendants stationed around the large venue to help elderly guests, make that known! See our upcoming post for details on contract negotiation.

Pay particular attention to how you get along with photographers and videographers. These are the people who will be mingling with your guests and corralling your entire bridal party. I once sat with a bride who was interviewing a photographer. She had a recommendation from a friend, but when we met with him he tried to convince her and her fiancee that they didn't want group photo shots. He wanted to do mostly candids. This style is great, but my bride was interested in having the traditional group pictures. After leaving the meeting, the couple realized that they couldn't hire someone who was trying to impose his vision on their wedding. It doesn't diminish the quality of his pictures, their styles just didn't match.

If you will have both a photographer and a videographer, ask the two to meet. Often it is important for them to work together so that they stay out of each other's shots. Talk about which moments in the wedding you want on camera and which you would like still shots of. Try to create a sense of priority for one or the other during various moments of the wedding. You want the team capturing your memories to work well together! If you can find a company that provides both services, all the better, so that you have a team that is used to working together.

Lastly, always ask for references. The pictures that various vendors will show you might have been from 5 or 10 years ago (though most won't be). They may have also been from a wedding costing 10-50% more than your budget. Ask questions: ask to see examples of work that they have done in your price range, ask to speak with brides who had similar budgets. Send a quick email to a past bride. Ask about her experiences with the company and with the final product (in the case of photos or video, etc.) Though bad moments may happen, great vendors should have a host of great references to supply you with.

Some of my favorite vendors (based in New York):
How Sweet It Is
Drape Kings
Union Square Group, Ltd. (for custom pieces)
Broadway Party Rentals
East Six (invitations and stationary)
Heather Smith Designs (wedding websites)

Monday, July 16, 2007

For YOUR special moments!

Our team is working to make this blog great for you. We are interested in hearing about what you want to know. What can we help you with for your wedding? Are you engaged, about to be engaged, renewing your vows, or having an encore wedding? Post your questions and we'll work to get you the answers!