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#12 – It’s the Little Things…

It’s #WeddingWednesday and you know what that means…time for our monthly check in with bride-to-be Elizabeth!

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Well here we are, just 4 months to go!  As we get closer to the big day, I notice all the little things that can easily slip through the cracks or be missed by taking on this job by myself!  It’s hard enough to remember all the main elements that go into hosting a great event, much less all those little details!  And in a world of DIY, I know these little details will crop up and rear their ugly head right about a month (or-gasp-less!) before the wedding when I’m already drowning in to-do’s.  Here are some of the things I noticed I was forgetting and how I remedied the situation…

*Postage for our invite— Our invitation will most likely need more than the standard 49-cent or 70-cent stamp so I will need to order a custom stamp.  This takes time, and is easy to forget when you are so focused on all the work that goes into choosing and creating your invitation.

Solution: As soon as we make a decision on the invite (hopefully soon!) we will bring a sample of it to the post office for weighing. Once we know how much the postage is, we’ll most likely use one of the many websites out there that offer custom postage (stamps.com, tinyprints.com, and zazzle.com to name a few).

*Small decor details– I’m talking about all of those little odds and ends that add an extra element of style to your event but can easily get buried in your to-do list.  Having an outdoor wedding? Maybe you’d like to add some parasols to the ends of your ceremony aisles, or signs directing people to the reception or restrooms?  Personalized cocktail napkins are also an affordable way to add a little flair.

Solution: ASK FOR HELP!  As someone who typically feels the need to do everything herself (“If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself” -am I right?!) err, this is the biggest lesson I have learned from this process. There are completely capable people who WANT to help.  Let them!  I tapped my Sister/MOH and my Mom to help with a lot of these items, and the tasks were completed more thoroughly and quicker than I could have done them myself with everything else I am working on.  Plus, they don’t have what I like to call “wedding brain” – allowing them to think of things I may be forgetting or offering a suggestion I’d never think of.

 Key items for the Reception– Since Tom and I are including the traditional reception rituals (cake cutting, toasts, etc), we will need a cake cutting set, and toasting flutes.  We also want to have a guestbook for guests to sign.  Luckily, these items are commonly given as gifts. The downside?  If no one purchases them, this will be added to my already long list of to-dos, the week before the wedding!

Solution: I added these items to the portion of our timeline that occurs just after my bridal shower.  That way I can forget about having to get them immediately and revisit the task once my shower has passed, at which point I will know if anyone has purchased those items for us.

 Rehearsal dinner outfit– Can you imagine? I’m down to the wire, thinking I’m in the home stretch and then I realize I need an amazing outfit for the rehearsal dinner.  Cue me running around from store to store, a week before the wedding, trying to find the perfect ensemble… sounds like a recipe for a total meltdown, if you ask me!

Solution: I’ve moved this item on my to do list, to the same time I have my dress fitting.  At that point, I should be close enough to my goal weight to commit to an outfit, and it gives me extra time to try all the stores I want and even shop online.

 Odd’s and ends with no category– From creating a “day of emergency kit”, to putting together welcome bags and creating an information sheet for our out of town guests, to the amenities baskets for the restrooms… These details seem so simple, but because of that, they are at risk of being put off – “Oh, I can do that later, that’s not urgent…”  but before you know it, you’re down to the wire and those simple things become a real annoyance as you race to finish everything on time. Sounds like another meltdown for me…

Solution: I’m getting these things out of the way early! These are all items that I have moved back in our timeline to a period when we have less on our plate (or less than we will in May and June!). I had plenty of wedding timelines to chose from when I started, but the key thing for me was spending some quality time adjusting those to-do items that could be adjusted to a different area of our list, making it more manageable. 

 

I know this won’t be everything and inevitably there will be SOMETHING that is forgotten but that’s life.  And of course if you don’t want to worry about ANY of these things, you could always hire a professional! No bias here of course (wink, wink)…

 


Running from Ramen (noodles)

Today’s blog celebrates our Event Manager, Chrissy Kratz, and her major achievement of running a half marathon with her Dad! (Yes, as event planners, we do have a life outside the office) Chrissy shares her thoughts…

Two and a half years ago I signed up for my first road race, the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure 5k. While I hadn’t spent much time exercising since my scarce visits to the gym or sporadic ultimate Frisbee games in college, I thought to myself “How hard could running three miles be?” Well, I am here to tell you that it was very hard. I couldn’t successfully run one full mile in that race. I was embarrassed, angry and suddenly extremely determined.

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I did a complete overhaul of my life that following year. I threw away all semblance of junk food in my apartment (my guilty pleasures of Ramen and Oreos were a thing of the past), I started running (semi) regularly, and even sprung the $10 a month to join a gym (which on my budget was a bold move). As I began to sign up for races, my then 50-year-old Father jumped on the running bandwagon with me. Before we knew it we were running a 10k on Thanksgiving morning before eating our weight in turkey and pie, and two months later decided it was time to sign up for a half marathon together. The Philadelphia ODDyssey Half Marathon was exactly 138 days away the day we signed on the dotted line.

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As I began to organize myself in preparation for the race, I realized something: Training for a race wasn’t all that different than planning an event! I began with a timeline that detailed all of the goals and benchmarks that I wanted to achieve, much like the one we create for our clients with print deadlines, committee meetings and site visits. Next, I pulled in all of the other players: running partners I could count on to get me out of bed on cold mornings, classes at the gym to keep me from getting bored, and even transportation for myself to get home to Philadelphia for the weekend of the race. We do this with our vendors for events: perhaps Be Our Guest for beautiful rentals, Gourmet Caterers for delicious food, or Event Illuminations to make an event truly glow. As the big day got closer, things became more stressful. Organizing the last minute details and reaching those final deadlines seemed nearly impossible. But if there was one thing I have mastered as both an event planner and runner, it’s endurance.

 

The definition of endurance is the ability or strength to continue to last, especially despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions. It’s pushing yourself physically and mentally past what you thought possible, whether it’s across a finish line or to the conclusion of an event. It takes the same passion and drive to get out of bed on a cold February morning to get in that run as it does to stay at the office as long as it takes to ensure every detail of your event has been thought out (sometimes these coincided in the same day!). And I have to be honest…I love every second of it. That being said, on Sunday, June 8th my Dad and I crossed the finish line of the half marathon together (hitting our goal of under two and a half hours!).

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The relief I felt that morning was extraordinarily similar to that of the feeling I have when I see a bride and groom leave their reception at the end of the night grinning ear to ear or when I witness a non-profit organization exceed their fundraising goals. A very wise person (*cough*Christine Altieri*cough*) once told me that the day you stop having those feelings of genuinely wanting the world for your clients is the day to retire, and don’t tell her this, but she is undoubtedly right. I want every client to feel the same euphoria I feel crossing a finish line as they do at the conclusion of their event. And the day I stop experiencing either of those feelings is the day both my running shoes and I will retire. But believe me…that’s not happening anytime soon! After all, you have to work hard to play hard! Cheers to the next season of road races and events!

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DIY or Don’t!

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To craft or not to craft. That is the question. Here is the answer…

 

As event planners we are often asked for ways to save money on an event and in the same sentence the idea of a DIY project often follows.  DIY ideas always sound great – “Yeah, we’ll get all the bridesmaids together and we’ll make the truffles for the guest favors!” or “No problem, we’ll get the committee together and we’ll construct these ‘out of the box’ style centerpieces for our 45 gala tables.”  or “We have like a billion volunteers, so we’ll just round them up and they can learn this specialty sailor knot to make custom napkin rings.”

DIY (Do-it-yourself) is a great idea if you have a few things at your disposal:

  • Time to do it
  • Access to Supplies
  • Room and Storage
  • Some Creativity
  • Ability to Problem Solve (AKA Crisis Management)

 

Some of these items may seem obvious, but let me explain.

Time to do it – Things take time, this is certainly not news, but if you are not crafty on a regular basis, it will take you longer to figure out the pieces needed to put it together, plus how to put it together, plus purchasing the supplies, plus organizing your “team” to help you, plus the time to actually create “it.”  And if it’s something like decoupage or painted furniture, then you also have to add in some drying time!

Access to Supplies – The internet is chock full of places to get supplies, but some things end up costing you more than the item just for shipping and then you’ll have to start asking around for who might have access to it at a better price, which bring us back to #1 – time.  Sometimes making your own centerpieces sounds like a good idea, but as a non-vendor person, you probably don’t have access to the wholesale flower market and it’s pricing to flower vendors.  So instead, you have to purchase your supplies from a florist, a supermarket or some other random place – where you might not get exactly what you want.

Room and Storage – Depending on how ambitious your project is, you need to consider space.  If you’re stuffing small favor bags with jordan almonds – first, please don’t! – this is a bit out-dated for favors, but second – you won’t need a lot of space.  If you’re making centerpieces, then you need tables to create them on and somewhere to put them until the event.  And if they’re flowers, then you need somewhere cool for them to sit (plus lots of buckets with water). If you’re creating the centerpieces on site, then I’m not going to lie – as the event planner, I will probably give you the evil eye unless you have a really simple design that is not going to take a big chunk of time or floor space that I need in order to make the rest of your event a success.

Some Creativity – I’m not saying you’re not creative (I don’t even know you!).  What I’m saying is that at least one person on this DIY adventure needs to have some creative sensibilities to see when something looks good (or more importantly, when it looks bad!).  Should the box have a bow or a knot tied on it?  Should the flowers be 5 different colors?  Should the placecards hanging from ribbon off the trees be held with safety pins, little clips or something else?  Someone with a discerning eye should be able to lead you in the right direction on this.  That Crafty Captain of yours should also be able to troubleshoot when the project doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Which leads us to our final item – Ability to Problem Solve (AKA Crisis Management).  Even the most experienced builder/creator/sculptor/DIY-adventurer runs into some problems – the item you ordered online from China is stuck in customs, the kitchen is too hot and the chocolates are melting, the dog decided to take the pew markers you just made for a little jog around the backyard… First – stay calm. Second – figure out Plan B.  There is always another solution to the problem, don’t automatically throw in the towel!  Do not get discouraged. Third – call us, your event planner,  for some additional ideas!

So, dear reader, before considering a DIY project, consider everything above, including our advice as to whether it is a good idea for your particular event.  Sometimes using a respected vendor will save you time, money and heartache.  If you are a bride and considering some DIY projects, be very cautious.  As the bride, you will likely be pulled away for other projects and won’t have time on the morning of your wedding to build that driftwood archway for the ceremony…