Wednesday, April 24, 2013

10 Things the Wedding Industry Won’t Tell You…That We HAVE.

Yep, our Pres and VP are pretty amazing.

This weekend, my mother-in-law forwarded me the Wall Street Journal Article “10 Things the Wedding Industry Won’t Tell You…For Better or Worse, For Richer or Poorer,For Nickels and Dimes.” (Thanks MIL! You’re wonderful!)

Of course, I immediately read the article, which made me…HAPPY!

My happiness stemmed from the fact that everything the article said the industry tried to keep hidden were things that HJ has somehow addressed in a blog post. Let me remind you (Note, WSJ’s comments are pretty brutal):

“We could go out of business before your big day.”
Meaning: We’re a business, anything can happen.

“Inspiration boards? More like unrealistic-expectation boards.”
Meaning: Nobody keeps a couple’s expectations in check.

“We’ll punish you for those heightened expectations.”
Meaning: Many vendors charge more when it’s a wedding.

“Tax and tip not included.”
Meaning: The cost is actually more than it appears on our proposal.

“The ballroom you chose only permits ‘approved vendors’ — that cost more.”
Meaning: You pay for our exclusivity.

“Hope you’re running on schedule. We’ve overbooked.”
Meaning: One event at a time, please.

“This award isn’t exactly an Oscar.”
Meaning: It’s the type of experience that matters.

“Do sweat the small stuff — or at least the price tag on the small stuff.”
Meaning: An item’s size or importance is irrelevant when it comes to a budget.

“We’re eying your bling.”
Meaning: We check you out prior to submitting a proposal.

“Every artist was first an amateur, and many still are.”
Meaning: Experience is everything.

The point is that HJ wants our clients to be educated: we discuss each aspect of a wedding – regardless of how important – to avoid questions, problems and surprises. Although we love happy surprises, unhappy surprises are the worst!

Happy re-reading!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What’s in OUR Bag?

For those of you readers who don’t engage in the pastime of reading US Magazine, the publication regularly features a section titled “What’s in my bag?” in which celebrities (or celeb-wanna-be’s) dump the contents of their purse or bag and detail what it contains. Last night, after reading through one such article, I realized that HJ has such a bag.

Yes, readers, we have a communal purse.

Kidding! Instead, we have what we call the “Oh NO! Bag,” which contains a fix for every mishap or problem that could arise during one of our events. Each of us carries such a bag, and we regularly swap ideas of what to put in or remove from them based on experience.

Here are the contents of that bag:

What it contains:
  1. Paper and pens: perfect for jotting down notes, instructions or anything else. Having multiple pens in case one dries up is a must.
  2. Hairspray: useful for tucking back that stray piece of hair or removing pen marks.
  3. Brush: the lack of teeth that can snag dresses or hurt heads (flower girls) makes a brush handier than a comb.
  4. Ponytails: need to tie something together or pull back unruly hair? These are a must.
  5. Curel: you never know when dry hands are going to bother you. (Note, we recommend this brand because it’s gentle on almost all skin types. We also recommend avoiding scented lotions.)
  6. Lint roller: you might be surprised by how much lint some bridal gown and bridesmaid dress fabrics attract.
  7. Safety pins: ripped…well…anything? These will safely fix the problem. (get the joke?!)
  8. Lighter: we cannot tell you how many times we’ve lighted candles because a florist forgot matches or a lighter. In fact, we usually have two of these in our bag.
  9. Stain remover pen: pens are more specific and controllable than wipes, but wipes have carry less chance of leaking. To avoid leaking, put the pen in a plastic baggie.
  10. Advil: This medicine solves more aches and pains than Tylenol and is less likely to upset stomachs.
  11. Makeup brushes: small and compact makeup brushes can help repair makeup mishaps at the last minute.
  12. Headsets: we use these at pretty much every wedding communicate across distances (we also rely on text messages, which can travel through a clogged network easier than a phone call).
  13. First Aid kit: it’s just smart to always be ready for an emergency. Ours is filled with Band-Aids and antibacterial wipes.
  14. Sewing kit: needles, thread and even hooks have allow us to repair damage to more than one bridal gown.
  15. Removable sticky dots: perfect for affixing anything to anything (bows to pews!)

  • Nail file
  • Barrette
  • Kleenex
  • Clear nail polish
  • Mouthwash
  • Chocolate/snacks/mints
  • Contact lens saline solution
  • Scissors
  • Advil

Happy packing!

And, just because I made a delicious cake despite the fact that I’m more of a cook than baker and because I think this type of cake would be fabulous for a black and white wedding, here’s the Zebra Cake I made last night after reading US Magazine:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Top it off!

This Saturday I had the wonderful experience of attending a fabulous wedding. I say this not only because HJ had the honor of helping plan it, but also because it was truly a very fun event!

Between 6-11 at the Park Hyatt, 39 Mariner played amazing music and danced their hearts out, guests gulped down delicious food and wine, and two newlyweds positively glowed with happiness (congrats again C & M!). Oh, and their cake positively sparkled – LITERALLY!

You see, C had designed a cake that boasted sparklers on its crown – how unique and stunning is that? Right before it was time to cut the first piece of wedding cake (with two yummy flavors, nonetheless!), five sparklers were lit and photos taken. The effect of the fireworks was that the frosting and décor on the cake glittered, making the entire three-tiered confection shine. Trust me when I say that it was more than a little gorgeous.

Many of our brides ask what they should put on the top of their cake. Traditionally, figurines of a bride and groom crowned the wedding cake. The fact that these figurines rarely resembled the actual couple and are quite uninteresting caused brides to look elsewhere for cake-top décor. The result has been the invention of a wide variety of cake toppers designed to attract the eye, polish off a usually intricate cake, and reflect the couple.

Before listing cake topper ideas, however, I am impelled to provide you with some guidance regarding selecting the perfect one.

First, beware the weight of a cake topper. A heavy topper may sink, not only ruining the effect you sought in creating the confection, but also destroying the serve- or save-ability of the first layer.

Second, beware the reflection of a cake topper. The sparklers C used were narrow enough that they didn’t affect the photographer’s shots. A topper with a highly reflective surface may pose photography problems.

Third, make sure to identify who is responsible for affixing the topper and when it is to be affixed. This may mean delivering the topper to your baker well before he or she will need to put it in place.

Here are some of our favorite toppers:
  1. Monogram
  2. Plaque with couple’s names and wedding date
  3. The word “LOVE” in one of the wedding’s main colors
  4. Animal or fruit reflecting a wedding theme
  5. Silhouettes of the couple
  6. Hearts

Now…find your topper!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Real or Fake?

Although it might be the name of a very amusing game you can play while on the DC Metro, when it comes to weddings the question “real or fake?” applies to what, exactly, lies on a ring bearer’s pillow. You’ve already learned that, when it comes to flower girls and ring bearers, the former cry while the latter freeze. So, what does that mean for whether the ring on your ring bearer’s pillow is real or fake?

It means that you must account for the possibility that 1) the ring bearer and accompanying pillow might not actually make it down the aisle or 2) the ring becomes dislodged from the pillow when someone (bridesmaid or mother of the boy) tries to jostle him down the aisle.

Yep, that’s right, when it comes to the ring you put on the delicate pillow you send down the aisle with your ring bearer, you must consider yourself as playing both the “real or fake?” game and a ring toss. Those two games are exactly what you wanted to play during your ceremony, right?

Probably not. In fact, I’m almost positive that worrying about where the rings are during the ceremony is the LAST thing any couple wants to worry about. For that very reason, we recommend not sending the rings down the aisle with a ring bearer, but instead trusting them to a responsible member of the wedding party. Note: the definition of responsible includes someone old enough to care for those rings until they’re on the appropriate fingers.

So what, exactly, do you send down the aisle with the ring bearer? Most children like to feel important and as though they are a true participant in your wedding; therefore, not having anything for a ring bearer is unlikely to fly with him, particularly in light of the fact that the flower girls will be holding (of course) flowers. Because of that, we recommend always giving a ring bearer a pillow or something else to hold and carry down the aisle.

However, HJ’s little secret is that we recommend nothing be on that pillow. Buying a fake ring is a waste of money (although usually a very small amount). Why put any money into something that you’ll likely toss away immediately after the ceremony? Moreover, buying a fake ring is unnecessary because nobody (and we mean nobody) looks at the ring bearer’s pillow. In fact, if any guest mentions the lack of something on the pillow to you at your reception, you’ve our permission to point-blank state that you hope that the lack of a ring on the pillow didn’t ruin their enjoyment of your marriage ceremony.  

I also must mention here that most parents of ring bearers are quite glad that they’re not responsible for your expensive rings in addition to their child. Most parents have enough on their hands caring for their son and working to ensure that he actually walks down the aisle. To them, not needing to worry about your expensive sparkler is a blessing. 

Yes, he's adorable,
but do you trust him with your diamond?