Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rain, rain, go away…

When beginning the wedding planning process, many couples choose their wedding date based on the typical weather for the month. While a good consideration, we here at HJ Planners encourage them to look further than what the sky has to offer. 

Unless you are firmly set on having an outdoor ceremony or reception, the weather on the day of your wedding is almost irrelevant. Why? Because since the first time a caveman built a structure to protect himself from the elements – not to mention the advent of air conditioning and heating – humans have been able to manipulate their surroundings to suit their comfort. This control enables all couples to set their wedding date whenever they’d like – regardless of rain, snow, sleet or hail (trust us, the post office now operates under these conditions too, meaning that your invitations will be delivered). 

  • If you love winter, go ahead and plan your wedding in December. The fact that there may be snow on the ground is irrelevant because your wedding will be indoors.
  • If you love the beach in the summer, go ahead and plan your wedding in August. The summer heat will only add to the ambiance.
  • If you love the chilly nights of spring, go ahead and plan your wedding in March. The potential for a rain cloud or two won’t hinder your fun. 

Your guests will still attend your wedding to celebrate what you have invited them too 
regardless of what the sky is doing. 

If you’re interested in taking it one step further, consider incorporating that weather into your wedding d├ęcor. Dark greens and snowy whites can make your winter wedding’s crisp night unique; hand-held fans and iced tea served post-ceremony will cool down the most heated August wedding guest. 

…Bring on the rain…

Ignoring the time of year has another BIG benefit – lightening your expenses. In the wedding industry, there are “down months”, those months that couples deem less desirable because of what’s happening outdoors. To fill their otherwise empty calendars and venue spaces, vendors are usually more willing to negotiate and lower their prices during these months. This means that your budget can stretch further than if you married in another season. 

…Unless it's the rainy season

The weather for a destination wedding site may require a little additional thought, only because traveling to a destination implies being able to enjoy what the location has to offer. Scheduling your wedding in the off-season means that your guests cannot treat your weekend like the vacation you intended it to be, possibly leading to some grumpy guests. Therefore, thoroughly research the seasons and typical weather of your intended destination before setting the date - you and your guests will be happier being able to sit on the beach in the summer in Bermuda instead of indoors to avoid the rain in the winter. 

We’re not discounting the tradition that rain on a wedding day means a long and happy marriage. Rather, we’re encouraging you to invite that rain to pour down on you, if that’s what you want.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I don’t need a wedding planner! Wait...DO I?

A few days ago, I attended a professional event where – surrounded by suits, iPads, and so many handshakes it made my hand hurt just watching them occur – I overheard a conversation about whether an engaged couple should hire a wedding planner. Of course, the conversation seemed out of place given the surroundings, but what made it even more unusual is that it was being had by two grooms. 

The grooms were debating whether hiring a wedding planner was worthwile. The first (let’s call him Mr. A) questioned the necessity of a planner, while the second (Mr. X) all but urged Mr. A to immediately leave the room and hire one:
Mr. A: “I just think that we can do it all. A planner seems unnecessary.”
Mr. X: “Do you both work full time?”
Mr. A nods.
Mr. X: “Then you can’t do it all without giving something up. Trust me, I know – last week I would have had to miss the first March Madness game for a conference call with the stationer.”
New drinks are delivered, causing a short pause in the conversation.
Mr. X: “Plus, there are all of the savings.”
Mr. A perks up: “Savings?”
Mr. X: “Yeah, our planner so far has saved us about $3,000. It’s awesome.”
While not the precise words I would use, they do incorporate aspects of the top five reasons why a couple should hire a wedding planner:
  1. They manage your budget.

    Staying under budget for an event as big as a wedding is not as simple as setting a maximum amount. The base amounts for venues, food, clothing, and flowers may seem straightforward, but are rarely the actual amount you end up paying. Taxes, delivery fees, and gratuities can quickly cause you to blow your budget. 
    A wedding planner incorporates these additional costs into your budget, ensuring that your final, total wedding bill makes you smile.

  2. They may just get you more.

    By having established relationships with vendors, a wedding planner can sometimes get you more bang for your dollar. To a vendor, a wedding planner is a gateway to additional business, while you provide only a single job. This doesn’t mean that the vendor will put less effort into your event, but it may make them less willing to budge on what they charge or provide you. 
    It’s not uncommon to receive extras - engagement photos from a photographer or flowers for the cake table from the florist – or discounts when a planner negotiates your contract. 

  3. They know where to go.

    You might walk by a florist or drive by a store with fabulous wedding dresses in their window every day on your way to work, but do you really know whether you should shop there? What if the florist never delivers on time? What if the dress shop is on the verge of bankruptcy? 
    Planners are familiar with vendors’ operations, reputation, and overall health, and can point you in the direction of the one that is best suited to deliver you what you want at a price you can afford. This saves you time, money, and reduces stress.

  4. They make you a timeline. 

    A wedding involves lots of intricate steps, and planning the execution of those steps can sometimes be daunting. Planning those steps when you don’t know essential information (“Oh, the limo can’t make sharp right turns and the drive to the ceremony is going to take 15 minutes longer than expected?”) can be disastrous. 
    A planner is familiar with the intricacies of a wedding and plans your day accordingly. They create a timeline of events so that the day runs smoothly and that your only job is to sit back, look great and have fun.

  5. They can keep a secret.

    Do you really want to know if the band throws a tantrum and won’t play because they haven’t received a hot meal? Will it enhance your big day to learn that the photographer was late because he needed to acquire security passes before entering your reception venue? No: all that matters is that you received what you paid for.
    Planners keep secrets from you. While secrets are not usually a good thing, when it comes to your wedding they’re fabulous because they insulate you from any problems that may arise.

Hiring a wedding planner is the first step to making wedding planning calm, fun, and productive, and your wedding day a success.

Oh, also…
Dear Ms. X, the answer is “yes,” you DO need a wedding planner, and Mr. X has my card.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Destination: New Orleans

A city with a major holiday and accompanying parade every month of the year is always ready to party, and celebrating your wedding is no exception. If you are searching for a city full of history, entertainment, a festive spirit, and delicious food to host your destination wedding, look no further than New Orleans. So, send off those Fleur-de-lis embellished invitations and get ready to “laissez les bons temps rouler pour votre mariage!”

Although New Orleans is usually first and foremost associated with Mardi Gras, in reality the city offers much more than purple, gold, and green beads and feathered party masks. One of the oldest cities in the United States, NOLA offers a unique Southern charm composed out of its Spanish, French, Irish, Canadian, and German heritages. 

For invitations and other paper needs, look no further than Papier Plume, located near the French Quarter. This stationer offers traditional fare decorated with delicate Fleur-de-lis in almost every color. With decorative and monogram wax seals also available, this store has everything that will make your invitations, programs, escort cards, and thank you notes display your style and incorporate your wedding’s NOLA setting.

Because of its location in the center of all activity, the French Quarter is the most obvious place for your big day. However, a wedding in the Quarter does not necessarily mean a hotel on Bourbon Street and a trip to Pat O’Brien’s for a hurricane (although it’s fairly certain that many of your guests will sample the famous drink at some point during the weekend). Fortunately, a short distance from the Quarter sit numerous boutique hotels that provide a taste of true Southern hospitality - NOLA style, meaning with fun crammed into every possible nook. 

The Cornstalk Fence Bed and Breakfast, directly next to the 905 Royal Bed and Breakfast, and around the corner from the Place D’Armes (known as the most haunted hotel in the city) put your guests near the hubbub of Bourbon Street, but far enough away from up the street’s noise. If you’re looking for a larger establishment, the Hotel Monteleone with its famous carousel bar (an actual carousel that rotates) and literary history (Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner wrote here) and the Omni Royal Orleans offer full service hotel accommodations. 
Start your wedding festivities by reserving a Southern mansion a little south of the Quarter, on Saint Ann, Dauphine, or Burgundy Streets, to welcome your guests with pralines and mint juleps. 

From there, a short walk to the streetcar allows your group to tour Saint Charles Street for free and view the city’s Garden District famous mansions and the two prestigious universities that sit across the street from each other, Tulane and Loyola. 

Later that day, treat your guests to a unique rehearsal dinner by taking them to the New Orleans School of Cooking. There, before tasting homemade biscuits, etouffee, jambalaya, and bread pudding, they will receive instruction on how to create some of the city's famous cuisine and a history lesson of how that cuisine was developed. Seating a group of up to 70, the School of Cooking has a dinner that is as interesting as it is tasty.

For a more traditional rehearsal dinner you need not look too far. K Paul’s, Emeril’s and Commander’s Palace all offer delicious local cuisine in a contemporary upscale setting. 

For your ceremony, the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square is perhaps the best known Catholic Church in the area. In addition to the church's beauty providing a breathtaking background for your dress and wedding party, you will likely have a gathered crowd of visitors awaiting you upon your exit. If you seek something smaller, consider Saint Mary's Church, located a few blocks south of the Square. Either way, don't forgot your parasol and parade band to accompany you on your walk to your reception site. 

If you're not interested in a church wedding, host your ceremony at the Omni, Monteleone or in a Southern mansion’s courtyard where your reception is located. This option means that you and your guests won’t have to travel far to the reception, but not that you have to forgo your parasol. 

Photo opportunities in New Orleans abound; at almost every opportunity will find a great shot, particularly in front of some of the restored homes or blooming hibiscus flowers in and around Jackson Square. 

However you plan your day, remembered to incorporate NOLA’s golden rule: let the good times roll!