Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The "Perfect" Wedding

Most people will tell you that there’s no such thing as a perfect anything – not a perfect marriage, or a perfect person, and they always say there’s no “perfect” wedding. I tend to disagree with the last part of that theory as I have attended many “perfect” weddings, as far as my clients know anyway. But this year, I experienced the most perfect wedding of all – but it wasn’t because of anything I did, or anything that any of the vendors did – it was because of the bride, the groom and the family involved.
Last week, Dee White passed away leaving behind four beautiful children and the “perfect” wife. One of those four children, Barrett, got married in March of this year and I was lucky enough to be a part of that most wonderful wedding.
I was first introduced to the family in August of 2010 and we began planning from there. Because the bride and groom lived out of town, I planned majority of the wedding with the bride’s mother, Jessica. From the very first meeting with Jessica, she spoke so lovingly of her children and husband that I knew this was a family I would fall in love with, and I did. Both Dee and Jessica did everything possible to give Barrett whatever she wanted, not what they wanted. Barrett traditionally came in around the holidays, so the house was filled with all four children, and significant others, plus all of their puppies! And every sibling wanted to be involved in the wedding details, including the only brother of the four children, Neal.
I had never seen such a supportive family, starting with the parents trickling down to each of the children. I realized the true bond of this family when Neal came home in the middle of our cake tasting and announced he had passed a certification exam and everyone quickly put the cake tasting on hold. It was his sisters who pulled out the champagne to toast his success immediately and they included me in every minute of the celebration. I knew his parents were proud of his accomplishment, but I was more proud of the way they had raised their children.
People often say that when planning a wedding, parents in particular get wrapped up with the bride and the bride can certainly forget that other things non-wedding even exist. This was not the case in this family and it was refreshing to see that weddings do not always cause drama and stress. They were one of the most even keeled families to work with and it paid off on the day of the wedding.
My point in having this tribute to this special family is this: often times the stereotype surrounding weddings has more to do with the drama it can cause for a family, the fights it can lead to with the mothers and the stress of the planning. This family was proof that when things are done correctly and kept in perspective, a wedding is the happiest day of your life and the one of the best memories we have with our families – and that’s exactly what it should be. But this all starts at the top of the chain with the parents.
So thank you, Dee and Jessica White, for raising your children to rejoice in each other’s time of joy and to share special times with each other. For allowing your children to be themselves instead of pushing them to be who you thought they should be. And for reminding me what makes the “perfect” wedding – Being on the dance floor all night long with your wife and children dancing like no one is watching, enjoying each other like no one else exists and knowing that it’s a moment they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Vendor and the Wedding Planner

Once upon a time, there was a very sweet, reliable, even keeled wedding planner with great communication skills! She worked really hard to please both her clients and her vendors by trying to get her job done while avoiding stepping on toes in the process. One day, she was hired to help a client with last minute details on the day of her wedding so she began calling vendors to make sure all of the details were finalized, arrival times were set and final payments were received. Things were going well until she got the florist on the phone. She gave her routine speech and asked the necessary questions:
“Hi, this is Kelly Sherlock. I’m the day-of wedding planner for Ms. Bride so I’m just calling her vendors to make sure we have the details finalized, that you have the most updated floor plan, to see if there’s a final balance and also to get an arrival time from you so I can add you to the schedule for the venue!”
Here’s what this florist had to say:
“Well thank you for reaching out to me, but I won’t be speaking with you. I am working directly with the bride and I really hate when planners call me and try to get involved. I’ve been in this business for 36 years and I know everything I need to know – there’s nothing that I need from you, but I will be calling the bride to give all of this information directly to her”.
That florist has never worked in New Orleans again – Just Kidding!!
What actually happen was that the florist delivered the flowers late because the bride forgot to tell her that picture times had been moved up and the floor plan had changed so she did not have enough arrangements. Both things could have been avoided if the florist would have taken my call and allowed me to run through the schedule with her.
This little fable is based on a true story, but unfortunately it happens more than you think because some vendors are concerned about working with planners, and the brides need to know this so that the expectation is set up front. With so many planners popping up in the city, the good ones are hard to spot, but we do exist. The problem is that so many vendors have had bad experiences with the other planners that by the time the good ones come into the picture, the vendors are jaded with an attitude and a closed door. The reality is that although I understand that, I still have a job to do. And we all have to consider that there’s a lot of competition in this industry so I can name at least one florist, one photographer, one videographer, one limo company and one band who have done a poor job on occasion and totally ruined someone’s wedding day. Does that mean that every time I come in contact with someone who performs one of those functions in this industry, I believe that they too will screw up? That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
My point is, everyone has horror stories, but allowing me to screw up, before you assume that I will, is very helpful to our clients – because these brides are OUR clients. Also, in the case of full service planning, I am with these brides for the entire engagement, not just one or two meetings like most vendors - so allowing me to pass along the trigger points of this particular bride and her family, is only beneficial to you. Plus, no bride wants to know that she’s paying me to take away the headaches and she’s paying you to buck that system.
As for the brides, if you are not hiring a planner until the end of the planning process, please let your vendors know that she will be contacting them the month prior and that you do not want to be bothered at that time – which is why you are paying the planner. In the case of full service, the same rules apply. If you want your planner to be the main contact and you do not want to be bothered with the details and questions, let the vendors know so that it’s coming straight from your mouth. And more than likely, if there’s a vendor that the planner will not work with, they aren’t worth the trouble they will create, but as always, it’s up to the girls.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Congratulations Randy and Brianne

This blog has covered many different topics from budgets to bridesmaids, but there’s one thing that I have consistently preached no matter what the topic – make your wedding your own. Finally, I’ve found the couple who went against every grain possible to get the wedding that they wanted and it could not have been more fun! My brother and his new wife have never been considered a traditional couple, to say the least. They were best friends before they ever got together and neither of them has ever felt the need to explain their relationship to anyone nor have they ever been fans of public displays of affection. Their wedding day was no different!

Last Saturday, they were married in the courtyard of the Board of Trade in an intimate ceremony attended by only immediately family and close friends. The vows, however traditional, were given their own twist of humor and personality and a hand shake sealed the marriage prior to the traditional kiss. The wedding pictures show a couple whose love is visible through laughter rather than a forced kiss and the family portraits displayed each person’s personality rather than robotic poses to declare uniformity.

The reception followed at the same venue where 150 friends and family members joined the party to celebrate the marriage. Rather than a “go to” song, such as, I Will Always Love You, the couple danced to a song by a North Carolina band (which is where they met and reside) and then broke into Soldier Soulja Boy, which was always a favorite of the two at any party. Rather than floral center pieces, the tables were dressed with arrangements mixed and matched to include New Orleans favorites such as lanterns, coffee beans, candles on fleur de lis candle sticks and of course the sporadic mardi gras mask.

Even with all of the touches that made this wedding their own, my favorite pieces of the non-traditional puzzle included the shoes worn by the bride and groom, the cake topper and the cake cutting. Since blue is the favorite of both Brianne and Randy, the bride wore blue platform heels while the groom sported blue Converse (with his groomsmen following suit in black Chuck Taylors). The groom had the cake topper custom made into characters from the movie “Up” – even though none of those characters bare any resemblance to them (not even the dog looks like their dog) so if you didn’t know the movie, you didn’t understand the topper. And for the cake cutting, my husband shared the first piece of cake with the bride as he is the only person in the world who could appreciate the cake the way that she could. Once the cake was cut and the traditional “sharing the first piece of cake” pictures were taken, my brother stepped in for the “token” pictures of the two of them with the cake.

Every piece of this wedding was well thought out whether it was something that the couple included in their wedding or decided not to include. And all of their vendors were flexible enough to go with the flow that represented Brianne and Randy, specifically, which is another thing I always preach – picking the right vendors. No one rushed them, slowed them down, told them they had to be somewhere that they didn’t want to be, made them take a picture that they didn’t want to take or pose in a way that didn’t fit “Brianne and Randy”. This was a night true to the two of them, the way a wedding should be, and I was just happy to be a part of it as a sister to them both!