What would a wedding be without wedding cake? I can say that there were a few times that it came too close to call for me and I almost found out! Luckily, preparedness, quick-thinking and great relationships with other wedding vendors prevented what could have been a not so sweet tragedy for me on more than one occasion.
Planning the Wedding Planners’ Wedding
18 years – that is a long time to know someone and it is certainly long enough to know that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Marrying your best friend certainly is a dream come true. Couples like us are sometimes hard to find. We consider ourselves to be very lucky and we can honestly say that we are happily in love! We live together, own a business together, have two fur babies together, have worked 1,500 weddings together. WOW – did I just say that? That’s a lot of weddings!
So the opportunity to plan our own wedding has finally arrived. After an amazing vacation to Mexico with a romantic proposal during a private dinner on the beach, what more could a girl want?!?
…a Fabulous Wedding of course!
But can a wedding planners’ wedding still be special? Will it be a piece of cake? Will it be fun? Will we have time to plan our own wedding while planning and coordinating dozens of other couples’ weddings? We are dying to find out!
My fiancé James and I have been in the wedding industry for 18 years – EACH! We have done big weddings, small weddings, high-end custom weddings and complete DIY weddings. We have been a part of Indian weddings, Jewish weddings, Italian weddings, Ukrainian weddings, Mexican weddings and pretty much any other wedding you can think of. We have planned, set-up, cooked for, decorated, served, coordinated and even almost officiated wedding after wedding after wedding. We have planned engagement parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, farewell brunches, bachelor and bachelorette parties. We have been florists, DJ’s, therapists, decorators, bartenders, hairdressers, dry cleaners, seamstresses, drivers, bridal party members, etc., etc., etc., to hundreds of couples through the years.
Now it is time to be a bride and a groom – probably the only thing that we haven’t done!
I decided to write this blog series as an interesting perspective – maybe almost even a guide- for planning a wedding. Sure you can get millions of ideas from good old Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and so on. I’m not knocking the internet or social media – I use it too (obviously…I am writing a Blog…LOL). But where can you find better advice and ideas than from wedding planners who are planning their own wedding? This is first-hand knowledge and insight as to how and what we plan, challenges we face, our decision making process and step-by-step how we put it all together. I will also give you the brutally honest truth about the “fun vs. not-so-fun” aspects of this process.
Have I got your attention? =)
So let’s start at the beginning - announcing that we are engaged. We are skipping over James’ painful ring selection process, planning of the engagement and trying to keep a secret from one of the nosiest people alive. Let’s just say he got an A+, 5 Gold Stars and Man of the Year Award.
So back to the announcement. We were very careful to tell everyone that was closest to us in person before making the “Facebook Official” announcement. Trust me, you DO NOT want those closest to you learning about your engagement while scrolling through their new feed. This is very dangerous and can cause stress – we hate stress.
Anyway, of course we get the “Jeez – it’s about time” reaction from friends, the happy tears from the moms, the people that you haven’t spoken to in years that come out of the woodwork to get invited to a free party (let’s be honest this happens to almost everyone). But our FAVORITE part is the recurring questions that only wedding planners would be asked…
Will you plan your own wedding or will you hire someone?
Aren’t you so excited to finally plan your own wedding?
Do you know exactly what you want since you have seen so many weddings?
Do you get good deals because you are wedding planners?
Will you have the best of the best for everything?
The answers are simple – we have no idea!
The only thing we are sure of is that we have a strict budget (neatly typed up in my super helpful wedding budget Excel Workbook) that includes everything from food to favors to photographer to flowers and everything in-between - and we plan to stick to it!
So stay tuned for the next phase of our adventure….
– finding the perfect venue (a.k.a. Venue 101)!
Venue 101 Part One – Choosing the Perfect Space
One might think that since James and I have done so many different types of weddings in so many different types of locations that we would know exactly what we want and where we want it. Well, that’s not entirely true. Let’s say that we have more of a ‘list of requirements” that a venue needs to meet in order for us to fall in love with it. This might take some research and searching!
Unique – We want somewhere different…we want someTHING different. We want our reception to be one-of-a-kind. We want our guests to mix, mingle, dance, play, eat, drink and be merry however they want. We plan to be less traditional and more unique when planning our timeline and layout, so a blank canvas with lots of options appeals to us.
On-Site Restrooms - If we have to rent bathrooms, I am not sure that I can “go” in a port-a-potty in my wedding gown. Luxury restroom trailers are an option – but also an added expense. Eros Luxury Restroom Trailers would be my go-to if I needed to rent one of these.
All Inclusive Site Fee - Many venues charge a “site fee” or “rental fee.” It is important to know what is included with this fee. Do they provide tables and chairs, a tent, linens, china, glassware, flatware, temperature control, setup and teardown? Do they charge extra for an on-site ceremony? Do they have a rain plan for outdoor ceremony or reception? These are all things that couples must consider – not only in terms of budget – but also in terms of planning. The more moving parts you have, the more work it is going to be for you (or if you are smart – for your Wedding Planner!) To make it easy on whoever is handling rentals, be sure to call Rent-E-Vent or Scranton Rent All . They are both one stop shops for tents, tables, chairs, dancefloors and everything in between (literally)! If you are looking for more unique or vintage items, we recommend giving Chippy White Table a call.
On-Site Lodging - Of course we want everyone to have fun and be safe. The more guests that we can have stay on-site, the happier we will be! Nearby hotels for overflow are a possibility as well – but we need to make sure they provide shuttle service, or we will have to call our friends at Propst Transportation in Archbald, PA!
Private Multi-Day Event Space - We are looking for more of a “wedding weekend” than just your typical 5 hour reception. Ideally, we would like to have the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, after party and bon voyage brunch all in the same location.
Indoor & Outdoor Space - We are considering a date in Fall 2017. If you have ever been to Northeast PA in the fall, you have seen the breathtakingly beautiful foliage. Photos, photos photos! We also want guests to be able to play some lawn games like Horseshoes or Corn Hole. However, with the beautiful foliage comes unpredictable weather. If it is chilly or pouring rain, we need to have a place for our guests to stay warm and dry while still having a great time!
BYOC & BYOB (that’s Bring Your Own Caterer and Booze) - We have our heart set on a caterer….which we can’t reveal until we get to that portion of the blog series! What we will reveal is our rationale - we want to choose food and beverages that fit our style and budget. We do not want to be limited to the options and subject to the fixed pricing that an all inclusive venue offers – endless possibilities people! I’m certainly not knocking what full service venues do – it’s just not for us. Sure it would be easier to do everything in one place – but remember – budget and uniqueness are important to us (yes more moving parts, so think Wedding Planner again)! BYOB certainly relates directly to budget. Having worked in the industry for 18 years each, we KNOW how much the mark up is on alcohol. Go to the beer distributor and you might pay $30 for a case of beer – that’s $1.25 each. Go out to dinner and pay $1.25 for a bottle of beer? Not likely. Not only is it less expensive to purchase your own alcohol and hire a professional bartending service like DeMarco’s, but you can also REALLY customize what you have to offer! James and I are food, beer and wine lovers, so being able to have EXACTLY what we want to eat and drink at a price that we feel is reasonable is probably THE MOST important thing! ….and bathrooms….bathrooms are up there too.
Are we being unrealistic? I don’t believe so – but I also know that there will have to be some concessions. You can’t have your wedding cake and eat it too (well actually you can – that didn’t really make sense and was an awful example). Moving on…..
In all seriousness, we have some of the best advice anyone will ever give a couple when planning their wedding. You may not get exactly everything that you had dreamed of on your wedding day. There is a thing called real life that sometimes gets in the way. Remember that there is going to have to be give and take between both of you and you will need to make decisions together about what is most important for the big day. Don’t let “wedding dollars” take over “real dollars” and remember to stick to your budget.
But above all else – remember this:
The most important thing about your wedding day is the fact that it is the beginning of the rest of your lives together. Let your love for each other be the focus, and the day will be perfect – no matter what!