Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We Want to Meet You!

HJ Planners' President, Heather Sala, and
Vice President, Maria Martinez.

I know, I know – I said that this week we’d talk more about aisle runners. But, I’ve got much more exciting news!

This Sunday, March 3rd, we’re going to be at Decatur House in Washington,D.C., to MEET YOU!

We’ve been dying to do this – meet you readers, engaged couples, brides- and grooms-to-be. Now we finally can!

The specifics:

Who: HJ Planners!
What: Engaged Magazine’s “Engaged in Washington 2013”
When: Sunday, March 3rd, 3-7 PM
Where: Decatur House on Lafayette Square
Why: …

This year, HJ is proud to be participating in Engaged Magazine’s “Engaged inWashington 2013” bridal event. This is not just a trade show, but rather an experience!

Come to see HJ Planners’ design tablescape and a fantastic specialty bar (lighting = amazing!).

Stay to win prizes – there’s a ton of giveaways awarded based off of a wheel with fabric swatches (I can’t even name them all there’s so many!)

Stay to munch on food, desserts (including delicious mini pies and macaroons) and plentiful drinks (including champagne).

Stay to meet the HJ team, including Heather, Maria, Jess, Kate and Kara.

Stay to receive your free consultation! Ask us any and all questions and we’ll happily answer!

Stay to receive a free budget consultation! After doing so, you'll walk away with a swag bag full of goodies!

Don’t hesitate – purchase your ticket now!

We promise that you’ll leave with your pockets loaded with fun giveaways and heads full of wedding planning information and ideas! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paving Your Way Down the Aisle

When brides plan a walk down the aisle, their trip often includes an aisle runner. Whether fantastic in its uniqueness, luxurious in its intricacy or romantic in its being traditional, an aisle runner identifies the pathway to the altar dedicated specifically to the couple.

To clarify, when HJ uses the term “aisle runner,” we refer to all decorations used to adorn an aisle. This includes fabric, carpeting, flower petals, aisle-end bouquets or bows, lanterns…you name it. We do this because it’s just easier to combine recommendations and choices under the main title.

As a side note, nowadays many churches forbid aisle runners. The explanation for this rule is that not only do they pose a safety hazard to guests (slipping), but that whatever is used to affix them often ruins the church floor (nails = no no).

Despite this, many ceremony cites permit aisle runners. Some sites, particularly those in which couples can choose the seating setup of the ceremony location, encourage using runners because it allows for clear identification of the aisle. What better way to subtly identify to guests the space that has been dedicated for the bride’s progression?

So, how just do you select what aisle runner you want?

The first consideration when selecting an aisle runner is the ceremony location’s rules. Some spaces prohibit certain methods for affixing the runner, such as nails or tape, while others prohibit ones made of specific fabric (satin = slippery).

The next consideration is the size of the aisle. Short aisles might not be best suited for elaborate aisle runners, while long ones might look bare if adorned with a simple or plain runner.

Of course, here is where we warn you about budget (and don’t we always?). Aisle runners shouldn’t break the bank. Why? Because they very often can only be used to adorn an aisle. Petals, swaths of fabric, lanterns or whatever else is used to decorate an aisle do not easily transfer to reception or cocktail locations.

One of the most often overlooked, but very important, considerations is the clean up required for any aisle runner. This includes the difficulty of clean up, methods for taking down all elements (screwdriver?) and required disposal. Usually, churches or other ceremony locations prohibit or refuse to have their staff members take down aisle decorations and require that a couple identify the specific individual(s) who will be responsible for doing so. This means that family members or a wedding planner may have to deconstruct aisle runner components. Beware that this means that these individuals cannot help with other parts of post-ceremony elements, such as photos.

With all these considerations in mind, the fun can begin! There are literally hundreds of different options for aisle runners, which we’ll delve into next week! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mmmmm…steak. Mmmm…pancakes

For whatever reason, you know you aren’t interested in a sit-down meal. The question now is whether you want food stations or a buffet. What exactly is the difference between the two? What are their drawbacks and benefits?

Food stations usually take the form of individual tables scattered throughout a room each focusing on a specific type or ethnicity of food. The food on each table can differ completely from one another: the table to the left can contain a pancake station and the one to left a prime rib roast. Each table is manned by at least one attendant who sometimes creates the food right before a guest’s eyes.

A buffet consists of one long table of a single meal. Sometimes, options are given for each component of a meal – protein, starch and vegetable. Guests may serve themselves or attendants may serve portions of the meal.

Who doesn't love potatoes?
Now you know the difference between the two options, let’s discuss their benefits and drawbacks.

Control: oftentimes, a buffet gives a couple more control over how much food is served to guests. (Note that both options allow a couple to choose the types of food served). This is particularly true when an attendant serves guests and oversees the size of a portion. However – and here’s the catch – buffets often cost more than a traditional, sit-down meal. Why? Because there’s not telling the specific amount of food that will be consumed at the event. In a plated meal, the vendor knows exactly how many chicken breasts, potatoes and carrots that are needed. With a buffet, however, more food must be provided because a guest may choose to forgo one option (carrots) and double another (potatoes).

Variety: when it comes to the types of food served stations allow for more variety. In fact, having food stations pretty much requires having multiple different types of food. It’s irrelevant whether these foods are a couple’s favorites or just things that are neat to eat, the fact is that they’re all different. Buffets, on the other hand, are usually more cohesive and are designed to create a full, three-course meal. A buffet may offer guests choices, but usually no more than two (chicken or fish, for example).

Décor: although a table can be decorated any way a couple would like, simply because there are more of them food stations allow for more décor options. Even though many times the food displays on these tables themselves are adequate, it’s not unusual for a couple to decorate a fajita station with tiny sombreros or a sushi table with origami.

It’s possible to combine a buffet food stations in the cocktail hour and a buffet at dinner. Note, however, that we do not recommend having a buffet during the cocktail hour because it’s pretty impossible to create a cohesive appetizer buffet table and somewhat of a waste of money to man the buffet for the hour-long cocktail portion of the evening. It’s also perfectly acceptable to have food stations in both the cocktail hour and dinner.

We also recommend against having both a plated dinner and food stations during the meal. Doing so turns out to be a lot of food, and many times the food at the stations is wasted. An entirely viable option is to have a plated dinner and to open food stations – usually for desserts or late night snacks – at the end of the reception.

Yum! Now I’m off to lunch. Happy eating! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Things First

An engaged friend of mine started planning her wedding about two weeks ago. One week ago, I received an email from her about selecting a pair of shoes to wear down the aisle. I smiled and chuckled a bit when I responded:

“Hold up. Although we both know I’m shoe-obsessed, and despite the fact that I think these shoes are beautiful, there are so many more things to do before even beginning to think about shoes. For example, do you have a venue? What about a dress?”

Yes, brides, although purchasing wedding shoes is a very fun task, it is way down on the list of must-do’s, falling at about two weeks prior to your first dress fitting.

That is: first things first, dear brides.

Planning a wedding consists of taking a series of baby steps. For brides today, it’s very enticing to try and push ahead and accomplish the tasks that are the most fun first. Doing so, however, could have disastrous consequences, mainly for your budget.

Think about it, if my friend had actually purchased those shoes, she would then own a pair of fabulous, silver and gold, bow-adorned pumps and her wallet would be $215 lighter. That’s great, right? Not so fast, despite the fact that the shoes are fabulous, she has absolutely no way of knowing whether they’ll work for her wedding. For starters, she isn’t sure if her ceremony will be inside or outside - spike heels might not work so well on a beach. Next, without a wedding dress, she’s no idea if the style, heel height or color of the shoes will work for her gown. Finally, what if she changes her wedding’s color scheme at some point and decides she wants to wear red (or any other color) shoes? There aren’t too many situations in which silver, gold, bejeweled and gold-bow adorned shoes are appropriate.

Because it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to return those gorgeous shoes, if any of these events occur she’ll have $215 less in her budget and a pair of shoes that just don’t work for really, anything other than a wedding. In itself, that makes purchasing those shoes much less fun.

I must admit that I could have used this same advice when planning my own wedding. About two months into our eight-month planning deadline, I purchased my bridal party gifts. Although I didn’t overbuy or later change my mind on what I wanted to give, my husband hadn’t actually anticipated spending the money on those gifts when I did. Needless to say, he was a little surprised when the charge showed up on our card.

So how can a bride not jump ahead? By making a timeline. A timeline is a schedule of events that will occur on the day of your wedding (usually down to the minute),but it’s also a month-by-month schedule of what needs to be done when.

This timeline (which you can call a checklist, if you’d prefer) lists the items to be accomplished and the party responsible for its completion. Items are divided into months (March) or sometimes several months (March-April, for example), depending on the length of planning period. Because every bride’s wedding and planning period is different, this document must be created individually for each bride. It’s also important to leave some space for describing what was selected on this document – doing so makes it easier to provide a general overview of all plans made to date, which can speed up the planning process in general.

To all your brides, slow down and take your time. Wedding planning is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is important to ensure that you have the resources and energy to make it through that marathon. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

And The Winner Is!...

Congratulations to Lashonda Taylor on winning the Bridal Times/My Glass Slipper giveaway! We thoroughly enjoyed reading your submission, Lashonda, and are sure that you'll enjoy your  new Badgley Mischka flats!