Expecting the Unexpected

It’s raining cats and dogs at the office right now – the day started out promising, but the PNW weather gods have reared their predictably unpredictable heads.

As a wedding planner, I am frequently bombarded with “What If?”s.  What if my guests are late, what if the power goes out, what if it rains, what if it rains, what if it rains.  Of course we have a gameplan for all of that (yes, if it rains, rains, rains, I promise we have a plan) – and most event planners will have a rain game-plan as well.

But is there a plan in place for other weather phenomenons?  This summer we had one of those stuffy overcast days – where the air is so heavy you can hardly get a deep breath, your skin is sticky and it is uncomfortably hot.  It wasn’t exactly raining – but the air was so saturated with moisture, it felt like it was.

I don’t know how they managed to hold it together for these shots – I was in a short skirt and sleeveless blouse and was still horribly uncomfortable! Kudos to the couple!

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My couple had planned a lovely outdoor ceremony (end of June),  but as the morning went on, we had a quick pow wow and decided to move under the tent.  This kept the sun that was poking through the clouds off of their elderly guests, and it allowed me to turn the fans on and get the air moving.  Instead of a sweltering, sticky ceremony, guests were cooled by the shade, and felt the cool breeze of our fans, while still enjoying a stunning view.

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When the sky FINALLY opened up to release the pressure and rain that had been building for three days, guests were able to watch a lovely thunderstorm, safe from under the tent with the sides pulled back.

I’ll tell you one thing – if the weather hadn’t been terrible, this photo in  front of a brick fireplace would not have been so epic!

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One more, how gorgeous is this girl!?!?

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Thank you to AiP Photography for sharing these pictures. And thank you to Ana and Kris for making this event a breeze with their good-natured views on all things weather related.

Happy planning!





Offers of Help

Let me level with you -wedding planning is no easy task.  Whether you are planning a gala style dinner for 500 or an intimate backyard wedding for 50, or even a tiny celebration for 12, pulling together all the details is quite an undertaking.

If you are lucky enough to have a supportive family and tight knit group of friends, offers for help will start pouring in.

Your Aunt wants to make your four tiered cake (her cupcakes at Jakey’s third birthday were pretty cute after all..)

Your college-attending,  party animal of a sister wants to host your bridal shower and your bachelorette party.

Dad wants to make your ceremony arch (he took woodshop in high school).

Your bestie wants to help with your invitations. She does have great handwriting, after all.

And so on.

If you find yourself blessed enough to have offers of help, you want to say yes! As a new bride, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (even though the previously mentioned Aunt has only made one baked good that was worth eating… everything else seemed better for using as ammunition against an impending Zombie attack.)

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So what’s a girl to do?

Be honest. Be thoughtful. And be humble.

Let’s talk about honesty.  Sure, your cash strapped sister might have all the good intentions, but should you task her with the responsibility of your Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed Bridal Shower and Girls Gone Wild stag night? Here is where you can accept part of what is being offered, but delegate the rest.  Sisters know many of your family and girlfriends, so what better person to help you set up the invite list and to plan the stag night, instead of taking on the entire cost and planning that goes into both events.   Here is where you can use the, “I don’t want you to take on so much, both time-wise and finance-wise” line.  It allows you to be honest, but hopefully not hurt her feelings.

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Be thoughtful.  Dad wants to make you a ceremony arch, but you were hoping for a rustic door backdrop at your wedding ceremony.  Take a look at what Dad is really saying – I want to create something with my hands, to frame you while you declare your love and loyalty to the man that will replace many of my duties as your father. swoon Can you incorporate his idea? Maybe have your rustic doors behind your sweetheart table instead? Think of the pride he will feel, walking you down the aisle, seeing you, in all your beauty, surrounded by love and the beautiful, albeit slightly crooked, arch that he made with his own hands.

And you also need to be humble.  The task of wedding invitations, for example, is a pain in the ass.  Collecting names, starting spreadsheets, triple proofreading* the final draft before going to print, hand addressing the envelopes, etc.  Are you really up for all that? Or, does having your bestie spend five or six hours on this project free you up for other tasks? Sometimes even the most Type A brides have to admit that they simply cannot control everything – and the payoff can be liberating both time-wise and stress-wise.

I had to learn to be humble when planning my wedding.  It hit me when I had 10 or so family members assembling my centerpieces from the flowers that I purchased at a local grower.  I wanted them just so, the stems cut just right… At one point I realized that not only was my untrained, but very well meaning family not able to make my centerpieces look like high end $500 arrangements, but I wasn’t capable of it either! So I tried to give direction, but also let them have some artistic freedom (I said, some! Yes, I could have / should have given more, but learn from my mistakes here!)

Young man with glasses take off his headphones making faces.

As for the offers of help for cakes, DJing, photography, catering, aka cooking – here is where I recommend you go with the experts.  I frequently have couples who tell me that the are having a “friend with a good computer be the DJ” – oh, the friend that is petrified of a microphone? Who is going to direct your guest’s attention to your first dance?  And if this person is such a good friend – don’t you want them to be a part of the celebration, not just cheap labor?  Aha! There it is.  That’s the line I encourage couples to use, “Cousin Peter, we love your Instagram pics, and agree that your fancy pants SLR camera that you tote around is amazeballs, but we want you to be able to enjoy yourself and attend as a guest.  We want you to be pampered.” I also like to recommend you throw in a, “I’m turning into a bridezilla anyway and wouldn’t want you in the crosshairs!” Self deprecating humor goes a long way in cases like this.

Of course, there are exceptions.  Maybe you are planning a 150 person wedding on a $1500 budget – then I would take advantage wholeheartedly of the family that is offering help.  But most of the weddings that I facilitate, are working with a larger budget – but yet a budget that isn’t limitless, so we are always looking for ways to save – as are most weddings these days, I’m sure.   It’s the difference between a $800 dress and a $3800 dress. To me, that’s where you make the cut, not your wedding photography, which will be shared for a lifetime, or on your DJ, who dictates the tone and helps keep your event timeline running smoothly.

The offers for help can seem overwhelming, and may come from many angles.  Thank the person for their interest, support, and promise to follow up with a phone call that week to discuss what they are offering.  Then you can set clear expectations as to what you would like, and see if what they are offering is a good fit.

And that humble piece… Let that be the part that grounds you.  That centers you.  That reminds you of how lucky are you to have a group of people that want nothing more then to support you during such a big undertaking.  A little crunchy cake never hurt anyone.

Here are a couple links to traditional tasks that parents and siblings take on during wedding planning. Enjoy!

Mothers of the Bride and Groom Tasks

MOB tasks – great tasks for sisters here as well!

Bridesmaid DIY Projects

Fun Bridesmaid Tasks




*for frick’s sake, yes, triple check your invites before printing them AND have some Type A friend look at them as well.  I see at least one typo on at least a third of the invites I see.  Anything from a misspelling of a name, to an extra space in the address. This isn’t a tiny blog with 20 readers! These are your wedding invitations! Take T. I. M. E. with them! I like to give a copy of whatever I am proofing to a group of five of so people and offer a prize to whomever finds the three mistakes.  You might think they are perfect, but by saying three mistakes, people will look and look and look until they find something.





The Ceremony, Reception and After-Party All In One!

NYE was a hugely successful night here at the club. I designed the decor theme and wanted to give you a little peek.
This year I predict we will see the rise of couples planning the “after-party” aspect of their wedding to take place in the same venue as the reception and ceremony.  With a growing focus on social responsibility (goodbye drinking and driving), and couples looking to truly pamper their guests from start to finish (hello late night munchies), the “netflix-and-chill-lounge” and “gastropub-chic” aspects of wedding planning are gaining speed.
By including plans for your night-owl guests, your wedding takes on a whole new persona, once the greater mass of the crowd goes home.  Here is where the remaining guests will indulge in rich foods and pontificate the meaning of life, or which Justin is more crush-worthy.  A fire-pit or cigar lounge would be a great addition to this – as would a silent black and white loop of a favorite 90s sitcom – Netflix and Chill! Bring out the comfy furniture, dramatic lighting and handcrafted cocktails for your late night celebrants.
Because some of the pictures are hard to see (hello! I believe in mood lighting), I’ve added some shots with lighter filters so you can get a feel for all the elements in each area.
Late Night Desert Station:
bite sized munchies on the right, chocolate fondue station on the left, black linen, silver stars, lights under the bite sized munchie display.
With some light so you can see a bit better....
Long Conversation Tables:
I am a huge fan for having your dinner at tables like this. Too dramatic for your taste? Have a couple by the dance floor or outside.  Invest in some fancy linens that match your theme, but hare a little more over the top.  And don’t forget the mood lighting.  See the little conversation pockets that developed between the guests in this picture? Note the family-style shared bottles of wine and the relaxed, yet dressy feel this picture has. 
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Lounge Furniture:
Easy to find in white or black, lounge or “nightclub” furniture is perfect for conversation clusters and relieving sore-from-dancing feet.  A 30″ uplight is placed behind the couch, and the center ottoman is actually a flattened white futon.  A white carpet pulls the space together, similar to your living room.  Toss a couple throw pillows in the mix and you’re set.
This is where you would find me!
Sexy Cocktail Tables:
textured linen (like this white bubble taffeta), battery operated uplight underneath, cocktail height bar stools, shiny centerpiece.
cocktial table
Action Station:
dramatic sushi station where Chef Joe hand rolled sushi to order. Uplighting, black draping, black linens is all it took to create this look .
sushi station
How are you going to incorporate the after party into your wedding celebration?
Happy Planning

Holy Crap it’s almost February

Oy!  I’m too new to say I was on hiatus… so can we blame that little absence on engagement season? Pretty please? The header picture is just one corner of my otherwise overflowing office.  This time of year it looks like a wedding-war zone in these parts!
Last weekend I attended the Seattle Wedding Show and met LOADS of amazing people.  We are gearing up for our Bridal open House at Canterwood, so a majority of my time was spent talking up the event to potential brides and grooms. Here’s a picture of our booth.
2016 wedding show
But did you see my DOORS!!!  Here’s a shot after our facilities guy built stands for them.  I picked them up off a guy on Craigslist.  From his basement.  On a dark and rainy night.  The things I do for my couples…  So now that they are all amazing and (will be) repainted, they can be rented for ceremony’s at my Club.
doors in progress
During the Wedding show I also met a few new vendors to collaborate with and finalized plans for the Open House with my Jen from Jen’s Blossoms and Beyond the Blossoms.  She did all the floral for our booth and boy, am I lucky she is in my life.
If you are in the area and want to stop by, here is the info on our open house.
Bridal Open House (2)
Even if you have your venue booked, it’s a great chance to meet photographers, DJs, taste cake, etc. Get yourself organized for your 2017 wedding or finalize the details for your 2016 wedding all in one place.
Happy Planning!

Quick Tips: Understanding the Acronyms

So you FIL2B doesn’t like your BM’s GF who happens to be your MOH because she was rude to the MOG at the E-Party?

Eeep.  Navigating the new language spoken by the wedding world can be quite frustrating at first.  It seems like everyone – from your florist, recently married friends, online blog communities and pinterest are using acronyms and speaking their own dialect of “wedding-speak.”

Hopefully this list can help you navigate the waters!

Basic Prefixes:

S =Sister, B = Brother, M = Mother, F = Father

G = Groom, B = Bride, H = Husband, W = Wife

OOT = Out Of Town (Guests, Gift Bags, Reception, etc)

Basic Suffixes:

“IL” = in law suffix (SIL = sisterin law, BIL = brother in law, etc..)

OG, OB = Of the Bride, Of the Groom (FOB = Father of the Bride)

Other Prefixes:

D = Dear/Darling (as in DH = Darling Husband)

F is also used to mean “Future,” so FFIL = Future Father In Law

Misc Crazy Talk:

JP = Justice of the Peace

STDs = Save The Dates (I promise!)

MUA = makeup artist

WP/WV = Wedding Planer, Wedding Venue

RB = Ring Bearer

FG = Flower Girl

JB = Junior Bridesmaid

MOH = Maid or Matron of Honor

BM = Best Man

SIL, BIL, MIL, FIL – Sister, Brother, Mother, Father in law

FOB, FOG, MOB, MOG, SOB, SIG = Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom, Mother of the Bride, etc, etc, 

Hope this helps! Feel free to add your own in the comments!







5 Steps to Finding YOUR Wedding Venue

Starting the search for your perfect wedding venue can be intimidating, tedious and frustrating.  Follow these 5 steps and you will be on the road to wedding venue bliss.

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Set a Target Budget, Guest Count and Date Frame

Without these, there is not much you can do – and not much your venue consultants can work with. I have toured so many couples who come in and have no idea of how many guests they plan on inviting… I don’t need to know an exact amount, but have a target, say +/- 15%.  So, 60-75 people or 90-110, or 180-220, 450-550, etc.

And so many couples don’t know what time of year they are considering (yes, it’s GREAT to have multiple dates, but to not even know the season? You might not be ready to start planning – and that’s OK, you do not have to plan your wedding the day after you become engaged!).  Talk with your fiance and set up your date parameters – Any Saturday in June or July. Or, sometime Labor Day weekend, with the following weekend being an alternative.

Get real about your budget.  And be comfortable talking about it.  Have a number.  A range. Something. Be wary of saying you want the least expensive option, and then plan to add upgrades – a venue might only here “I want something cheap” and prime dates might suddenly be “booked” or you might not meet their published minimum.

Here’s the deal.  Pretend you are shopping for a house and I am your realtor.  I have no idea what houses to show you if I do not know your budget.  If I show you a $200K house, when your budget is $750K – you will be disappointed and not think the housing market is high end enough for you and the luxuries that you want are not attainable. On the flip side, if I show you a million dollar house and your budget is $100K, you will think I am crazy and just trying to get you for your money. Truth is, I have plenty of $100K houses, I just didn’t know what to show you, so I guessed.  I tell my couples that it is not my goal to get you to spend over your budget and send you home broke. My goal is to maximize every penny that your budget allows (if not, just under) and get you everything we can cram into your (comfortable) spending cap.

Think your budget is embarrassingly low and unrealistic? I’ve dealt with less.  I promise.


Start Searching Online – And with an open mind

I recommend that you start your search on the major wedding websites – theknot.com, weddingwire.com, mywedding.com and other wedding websites.  Most of these sites feature reviews, unaltered by the business (I can tell you from experience that most sites do not permit altering or deleting a review, unless the company can prove it fraudulent or threatening). These sites also showcase pictures of venues, videos, packages and sometimes special pricing.  I recommend you decide the geographical location that you are looking for, and start your search.  At this point, I hope you are sourcing out about 15 places.

request info

Ask For Information – then wait

Nearly all venues have an online information request form, or something similar, to let the venue know you would like information emailed to you.  There is usually a spot for you to free-type specific questions – I recommend you put something there (ie. “looking for a gluten free wedding,” “do you allow sparklers?” something… you will see why later) Most will also ask for your phone number – which I recommend you submit.

Now Wait.

and Wait.

and Wait.

How many of the 15 venues responded to you in a timely fashion? How many responded at all?  Here is where you can start to weed out the list.  If a venue didn’t get back to you, but you really wanted to learn about them, I recommend you try calling (once) and see what sort of response you get back. Otherwise, off the list they go.

This first point of contact is crucial.  Did the venue rep pick up the phone and call you, asking questions and sounding genuinely interested in what you have to say?  Did they respond to your email with a personal greeting and specific commentary on your date/guest count and/or an answer to the question you posed?

Or did you get a canned email with no personalization? Or did you get stood up, with no response at all?

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Tour. Tour. Tour. – go at it alone (or alone-ish)

Once you make the initial contact with a venue, (and like what they have to say) set an appointment to go out for a tour. Hopefully, you are narrowing down to 5-8 venues to tour.  By.  Your.  Self. (for the most part.  This is not the time to bring the whole fam-damn-arella, maaayyyybbeee bring your fiance – but only if they want to be super involved with planning)

Split this over two days (so it’s all done together, but not one exhausting day). Take notes, take pictures, ask questions,  and see how you like the venue person (ie event coordinator, sales person, etc).  And ask for a custom quote THAT INCLUDES ALL SERVICE CHARGES AND TAXES.  *I should note that I am working on a detailed post about the actual tour itself, and hope to publish it next week, so keep your eyes out for that!* The reason I recommend you go at it alone, is to narrow down your choices.

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Go Back with Your Entourage

Dad needs to see the venue before signing off? Bring him.  Fiance skipped the first round of visits? Bring fiance.  Future Mother In Law needs to feel like she is a part of things? Let’s go baby.

I recommend that you return to your top three wedding venues with the “decision makers and check writers” for another tour – for a couple of reasons. More details in the aforementioned follow up post, but basically a second viewing gives you a chance to control the number of options that the decision makers have, to see your venue (and venue staff) on another day of the week and/or time of day, and to make sure the venue is what you remember.

Then go home, spread the three quotes in front of you, drink a glass of wine, and make your decision. I promise you, it’s that easy.

More on your wedding venue tours to come!






People I Crush On: Caroline Hirons

CH with product

As brides and grooms get ready for the big day, they realize the importance that is placed on looking amazing in your pictures. Many engaged couples focus on weight loss, but a few start looking at skin care.

I didn’t pay much attention to skin care until two years ago when my mom introduced me to Caroline Hirons. I knew how to zap zits, but otherwise was a sleep-in-her-makeup, I’m-too-young-for-a-nightcream, why-on-EARTH-would-you-spend-$250-on-some-face-serum kind of girl.

CH spendy stuff

I didn’t realize how awful my skin really was.  Little fines lines started creeping in, my pores were dark and noticeable and my face seemed, well, dull.  My mom had started experimenting with skincare and I started listening. She was horrified to find out that I didn’t wash my face before bed – told me that Caroline Hirons would be aghast. That’s when she told me to read Caroline’s post on that very topic.

Caroline is VERY British.  She’s funny, she’s blunt, and she gives honest reviews and advice for all things skin care.  I enjoy her candid speaking & writing tone and love to scour through the massive achieves on her blog.   CH headshot

One of her best “get to know me” posts is Things I say over and over again in the Clinic.”  One of my favorite lines is,

“You overuse the Clarisonic. A lot of you. A LOT of you. You can use it – you’re just not meant to use it every time you brush your frigging teeth. … Step away from the trendy facial tool and wash your bloody face properly.”

If you happen to find yourself on her blog, start with the “Cheat Sheets” on the right hand column.  More specifically, start with “Cleansing.”

She debunks beauty industry jargon, coming down harshly on those who make false promises, here is what she says about the marketing term, “shrinks pores”

  • Shrinks pores I’ll say it again: Pores are not doors – they do not open and close.Nothing opens and closes pores. NOTHING. Well, except glue and sellotape perhaps. There is a difference between saying ‘closes pores’ and ‘minimises the appearance of pores’. A big fat difference. One is rubbish and the other is a possibility.

CH cruelty free

Caroline also gets into the world of responsible product development and marketing with her take on products sold in China and animal testing (absolutely fascinating article!).  I learned about the difference between truly cruelty free products, and product manufacturers that skirt the issue.  Read more here.

She posts pictures of herself, washing her face, no makeup, so you can see what she is doing.  I certainly wouldn’t do that, but she knows her readers need the tutorial – judgey-judgers be gone.

CH raw and honest

A couple of things to remember about Ms. Hirons’ Blog, and starting a skincare regimen:

– A “Flannel” (used to wash your face) is called a washcloth in the States (terrycloth)

– Great skin care is expensive, good skincare is spendy.  Read her thoughts on where to spend money and where to be thrifty.  Find what works for you and stick with it. However, keep your spending in perspective.

-Don’t fall in love with any product until you see if it’s distributed in the States.  Those sneaky companies… sometimes things in Europe aren’t out here, yet.

-Have thick skin.  Especially is you are a smoker.  She will tan your hide, then tell you how to fix all the damage you have done.

– She has frequent giveaways, but some are “UK-only”, don’t be bitter.  You can’t be bitter.  Yes, I wanted the $500 Kate Sommerville set as well….



I hope you will enjoy this energetic, bubbly, yet knowledgeable and frank woman’s perspective on skin care.  In a couple weeks, months, years, you will thank your younger self when those wedding pictures come back.  Or when those fine lines start to disappear. Or when you don’t have to apply makeup by the trowel-full to cover an uneven skin tone (raises hand in the back of class, slowly…).