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3 Essential Details You Need to Know Before Attending Your First Wedding Expo

Join us in this first part of a three-part series

 

The start of the new year means one thing in the Hudson Valley: It’s wedding expo season! If you are recently engaged, you might have started to notice ads for invitations popping up for shows almost every weekend at different venues across the area. If you are thinking about going to one, which I highly suggest you do, there are three essential details you need to know before you attend your first expo.

 

But first, as Julie Andrews says in a song from one of my favorite movies, The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” So, what exactly is a wedding expo, and what can you expect?

 

I like to think of wedding expos as trade shows for the wedding industry. If you’ve attended any sort of trade show, whether for work or for fun, you know it’s an opportunity for businesses in a particular industry to come together and showcase their products and services to potential consumers. In this case, the business are owned by wedding experts, and the consumers are you, the engaged couple. It’s an opportunity for you to get an idea of the types of businesses, services and products that are out there to help you create your dream day.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

“If you’re looking for a DJ, if you’re looking for a band, if you’re looking for invitations, you’re looking for everything that goes along with your services for your wedding,” says Paul Porco, one of the managers at Villa Borghese Caterers, a venue that’s been hosting wedding expos for almost 30 years, and who, himself has been in the business for 25 years. “It’s an opportunity, then, to interview them (the vendors), to find out what particular products they offer, and also get an idea of about a budget and to get more educated on what to anticipate and what to look for.” Porco says an expo is really one of the key tools in helping couples book particular vendors for their wedding day.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Each show is different, and it’s recommended you go to as many as you can. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9, says, “The more shows you go to, the more experience you get.” Why is experiencing more shows beneficial? Because it gives you an opportunity to meet new vendors, see new locations, and learn more about how to create the wedding of your dreams.

 

However, no matter what show you go to, there are three essential details you need to know before going because these are the questions every vendor you speak to is going to ask. Knowing these three things will help streamline the process for you and help you to more effectively narrow down your “A” team.

 

Date

 

Typically, couples start attending wedding expos soon after they get engaged, which means, they usually have about a year or longer to plan. That being said, It’s OK if you don’t have the exact date pinned down – it helps but isn’t necessary yet if it’s your first show. What you do need, however, is at least a timeframe. The year, the season, the month – something to give the person you are speaking to an idea of what you are thinking as it helps them see if they are going to be available that day.

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

You also do not want to wait too long to attend a show. Here’s why. Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview, explains that some vendors, such as photographers and DJs, may have a team of staff that go out and cover weddings; that way, they can do more than one wedding a day. However, some vendors might just be a single person with an assistant, so if that vendor is already booked on that day, you will need to find someone else.

 

Budget

 

Similar to date, you may not have an exact budget in mind. In fact, if this is your first wedding expo, you may just be going to get an idea of how much services cost. However, having an idea of a budget does two things: It helps you quickly streamline the vendors who fall way outside your budget, and it also lets you see what you are getting for what you want to spend. We’ll discuss value versus cost in a future post.

 

Here’s a true story: When I attended my first show, I admittedly didn’t do any research before I went. That was not smart. I had a budget in mind, but honestly, it was just a random number I pulled out of thin air based on what I thought services would cost. Here’s what happened because of my unpreparedness: When I got to my first show, I immediately felt a sense of panic and sticker shock. We were on a tight budget, as we were also buying a house at the same time, but my little number was unrealistic in every stretch of the imagination. That’s why you need to have some idea in mind, or at least use the show as a research project, with an open mind, to get a realistic idea for how much services cost.

 

Guest List

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

The third thing you need to know is a rough estimate of how big your wedding will be. Again, this is where it behooves you to do a bit of planning before you go. Vendors ask you this question because knowing how big your wedding will be gives them an idea of what type of an event you want to have. Are you planning a quiet, intimate affair for just family, or a big blow-out party? It also helps you when you are talking to venue. The venue host will always have table at the expo, and so, if you are interested in the venue, you want to know how many people you expect because it will determine if that venue is the best fit for you. Your number of guests can ultimately decide where you have your wedding.

 

Another true story: We originally thought we would have 75 people, just guess-timating. Once we wrote down names, we ended up with nearly double that. What would have happened if we booked a venue that could only hold 80 people (because we thought we would have only 75) and then ended up with nearly 150 people? We would have either had to make some serious guest list cuts, or lose money because we would have to break the contract and book a different venue.

 

So, we want to know from you, have you gone to any wedding expos yet? Did you prepare? If so, how?

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3 Beautiful and Often Overlooked Photo Spots in Poughkeepsie, NY

If you are getting married in the Hudson Valley, you know what a beautiful place this is for wedding or engagement photos. With its majestic mountains, grand river, parks, and nature preserves, there’s no shortage of great spots to get photos taken. However, in each city and town, there are beautiful spots that sometimes get overlooked.

 

Your wedding photographer will have a good idea of places to go based location and the time you will have, but ultimately, the decision is up to you. It’s good to know ahead of time, where you would like to get your engagement or wedding photos taken. Ideally, it’s best to keep photos grouped in places that are different, but also geographically close by. We’d like to showcase some of these areas in towns across the Hudson Valley, starting with Poughkeepsie. Here are some spots we love that you may not have thought about.

 

What are your favorite photo spots in Poughkeepsie? Do you know of a spot in the Hudson Valley that would make a great location for engagement or wedding photos?

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3 Valuable Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Florist

Join us in this first part of a two-part series

 

Do you recall ever looking at your parent’s wedding photos or your grandparent’s wedding photos? What are some of the things you remember? Probably what they wore and what their flowers looked like. Flowers, though small in stature, have an amazingly huge impact on your wedding day.

 

Photo Credit: Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill

Not only do they set the mood of your day, they are a hint to your guests as to what kind of wedding to expect; they reflect your personality; they are symbolic and brighten a room with their colors and aroma. In my opinion, it’s impossible to be sad when you are around flowers.

 

Because flowers appear in every part of your day – from your hair (maybe) to bouquets and boutonnieres, bridal party bouquets, ceremony décor and centerpieces – it’s essential to choose a florist who can fulfill your vision. Knowing how to choose the right florist for your wedding day goes far beyond just thinking you will go with a florist you’re kind of familiar with because one of your co-workers got a flower delivery from them one day a few years ago. When it comes time to hiring your florist, just like hiring any wedding professional, you want the best. We know how important it is to connect and “mesh” with all your vendors, and your florist is no exception.

 

We asked some Hudson Valley florists to share their expert advice on how to choose the florist who will create the perfect vision for your wedding day.

 

Meet In Person

 

First, and foremost, talk, in person with your florist. In this day in age, everyone wants to e-mail or call, but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. Lucille Conforti, owner of Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill, recommends, as with all vendors, choosing a florist with experience and looking at their reviews, but be cautious of them as well. Also, she says, be honest in your conversation with them and make sure you are comfortable with them, their services, and their personality.

 

Photo Credit: Floral Affairs by Sarah

You need to click with their vision and artistry, but you also need to click with them as a person. Sarah Faoro, owner of Floral Affairs by Sarah in Gardiner says, “You should love your florist’s design style. Take some time to scroll through pictures of their work and see if it compliments your wedding vision. Lastly, choose a florist based on their personality. You’re entering into a long-term relationship and want to feel comfortable asking questions and expressing your opinion knowing that you’ll get great service after months of communication. Florists are expert wedding professionals who should be willing to work with clients to fulfill their vision.”

 

Remember, this all goes back to what we spoke about earlier about putting together your “A” team.

 

Experience and Reputation

 

Photo Credit: Meadowscent

Your wedding day is a day you do not get to repeat. Therefore you want to make sure your florist is knowledgeable enough to help guide you and work with you to make your vision a reality. Theresa Colucci, owner of Meadowscent in New Paltz, says by choosing florists who have been around for a while and have a lot of experience, they should easily and willingly be able to share with you references from past couples. Because this is a day where there are no do-overs, you also want to make sure they have the proper insurance and identification.

 

Why is experience, reputation and insurance important? Steve Morgan, owner and designer of Morgan’s Florist in Poughkeepsie, says it’s because you want someone who shows up on time and knows how to handle and fix any problem that may arise. They should be able to handle it smoothly and calmly. They should always have a Plan B.

 

Remember Florists are Artists

 

Photo Credit: Morgan’s Florist

“Remember that floral designers are artists, flowers are their media and every artist has their own style,” says Faoro. From experience, when speaking to almost any of your wedding professionals, it’s safe to say they all would consider themselves artists in the own field – floral designers, especially. Anyone can put flowers in a vase or grab a bunch and tie them together, but it takes real skill to make them look good and tie them cohesively into a vision, feel, and mood. It takes an artist to know how the height, shape and structure of a flower compliments the rest in a bunch. Think of choosing the work your florist does like choosing a piece of art. How do you feel when you see their work? Does it move you? Make you feel compelled to want more? Can you see their design fitting into the aesthetic of your day? Does it complement your vision? If so, that would be a good indication to consider that florist.

 

How did you choose your florist? What moved you to hire them to decorate your wedding?

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7 Practical Ways to Create Your Awesome Wedding Registry

Did you know the wedding registry, as we know it today, is a fairly “recent” tradition? It’s been said to have been started in 1924 by Macy’s department store. Can you believe it? However, even though a guest gift exchange is a fairly modern phenomenon, families have been exchanging gifts at weddings in the form of a dowry paid to the Bride’s family dating back to several centuries B.C.

 

But enough of the history lesson for today. Wedding registries are still a hot commodity, even though they are taking on many different forms. This is because, in today’s world, couples are waiting longer to get married, and there is an increase in numbers of couples living together before marriage. Therefore, they are acquiring many of the items typically seen on a gift registry such as pots and pans, linens, and general household items long before they get engaged.

 

Whether you need everything from a can opener to a couch, here are 7 practical ways to create the perfect registry that is right for you:

 

Take a good look around your space.

 

Look at what you have and what you need. If you are going to be moving in together after the wedding, you may need a lot of items. Combining possessions can be a fun, yet arduous task. Perhaps you have a set of pots and pans but need new ones. Maybe you’ve always wanted a fancy coffee maker. Are you getting a larger bed and need new sheets, or even something as basic as an iron and ironing board? Take a good look and start making a list.

 

Make a list that has items at all various price points

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

You want to make sure your registry has items spanning a wide range of prices, from $1 wooden spoons to pricier items such linens, a vacuum, kitchenware, or china that could potentially cost well over $200. Why the price variation? Your guests are going to be coming from very different financial situations. Some guest may (and can afford to) splurge on the expensive china or kitchenware, while others may combine some of the smaller, less expensive items into a basket or give you some of those less expensive items with a gift not on your registry. (Yes, just because you have a registry, that doesn’t mean everyone will purchase from it).

 

Always put more items on your list than what you think you need

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

There are a few reasons for this. One, like I mentioned before, some people may purchase a lot off your list at once, and you want to make sure that everyone who wants to get something off the registry can. Second, you aren’t going to get everything, but you want to make sure you don’t run out of items, either. You will, most likely, get gift cards to wherever you registered, so, if you do not end up getting that coffee maker or all the sets of china you registered for, you can go back and finish the list at a later date. Think of your registry as the ultimate Christmas or birthday wish list: There are going to be things on there you need, things you want; but you can also put “wish list” items on there, too. We never thought the really expensive items would be purchased from our list, but they were, to our great surprise.

 

Register at more than one location

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Just like you should have items in many different price ranges, you also want to make sure you register at more than one store. Why? You are not going to find everything at one store. Plus, not everyone lives next to a Crate and Barrel, or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Granted, with the Internet, it doesn’t really matter, but some people like to actually see what they are buying before they purchase it. Also, different stores have different price ranges. Some guests may just be able to afford items from the more affordable stores, while others can afford higher price points usually found at high-end niche stores.

 

What if you don’t need or want any more “stuff?”

 

If you and your fiancé really don’t need or want any materials items, you might want to consider a Honeymoon Fund or a Honeymoon Registry. A quick Google search will generate sites like these where you plug in where you are going, and they populate a list of things to see and do while you are there. For example, if you are going on a cruise, you might have a spa treatment or shore excursions on that list which people “purchase.” Basically, you are saying something to the effect of “$75 will allow us to get a spa treatment; $150 will allow us to go parasailing,” and so on. Your guests aren’t purchasing that item, per se, but rather just giving you enough money so you can do it.

 

Make a charitable donation

 

Again, if you really don’t want or need any more “stuff,” you can ask guests to make a gift to your favorite charity (or charities) instead of purchasing a gift for you. Perhaps there’s an animal shelter that’s near and dear to your heart or a medical facility that has personal meaning for you. Maybe it’s a community organization looking to raise enough funds to build a playground. Whatever the case, asking guests to make a charitable gift is a great alternative.

 

What if you just want cash?

 

This is a delicate subject. If you really just want cash, coming out and saying you just want money, is, well, rude. In my opinion, there are only two ways to give guests the hint that you don’t want gifts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll just get cash. One is to not have a wedding registry at all; the other is stating on the invitation “no gifts please.” Most guests will get it, but it won’t guarantee you’ll only get cash. You might still get gift cards, maybe small tokens. Maybe you won’t get anything at all if you say “no gifts.” However, there are polite ways to work around this delicate subject. I’ve known couples who live out of state who were flying in for their wedding, and because they couldn’t check or ship gifts back, they asked for “no boxed gifts, please.” You may still get people who take that literally and will put a gift in a bag instead, but most people will understand what you mean, especially if they know your travel circumstance.

 

You might also tell your close family and bridal party to politely spread the word if anyone asks. If someone asks them what they think you’d like, they can say something like, “I know they haven’t registered for anything, so I’m just going to give them a check to add to their down payment on their house (or splurge on a nice meal on their honeymoon, or save it for a new car).” It’s a bit passive, but that will at least put the idea in the guests’ mind that money or a check may be the best option for a gift. Is it a sure-fire grantee? No, but it’s a start.

 

Did you have a registry and how did you build it? Did you not want any gifts at your wedding? How did you handle that?

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What top bridal gown trends will you see in 2017?

This past October, I had the privilege of attending New York international Bridal Week (NYIBW) held at Pier 94 in New York City. For those unfamiliar with this event, it’s a bi-annual industry marketplace showcasing top names in wedding gown and bridal fashion from all over the world. Similar to corporate trade shows you might be familiar with, this event allows designers to showcase their upcoming collections while giving buyers of retail stores the opportunity to touch, feel, become educated on the fabric and embellishments used, see what the different design options are for each gown (meaning can straps or sleeves be added to a gown, can different bodices be swapped with different skirts, etc.), and, most importantly, purchase gowns to sell in their stores.

 

Designers and their representatives are there to answer any questions buyers may have regarding the dresses, as well as give buyers the opportunity to see the gowns “in action” during fashion shows held throughout the day. These events are only open to industry insiders.

 

We spoke with representatives and designers of the industry’s hottest and most sought-after brands, and want to share the trends you can expect to see in your local bridal shops this year.

 

Versatility and Customization

 

Photo Credit: Enzoani

Badgley Mischka and Enzoani will be bringing you something unique in that their lines will offer separate pieces you can mix and match to create your perfect look. Very similar to ready-to-wear, you can choose the bodice and gown to meet your exact vision. Kang Chun “KC” Lin, Creative Director for Enzoani Bridal Division, says, “The dresses are lighter; there are more color options like champagne and blush; and you can customize your look with pieces like bodysuits and removable skirts. It’s all about giving our brides everything they need to make their dreams come to life.”

 

Photo Credit: Badgley Mischka

Skirts are also going to play a different role. A brand representative for Badgley Mischka Bridal Division, said, “Going on the same page of separates is gowns that come with overskirts.  The overskirts for this season are larger volume, usually with ruffles, and when taken off reveal a sexier beaded mermaid gown underneath.” In addition to skirts, other customizations include gowns that have removable capes and jackets.

Look from convertible looks from Candace Wu, designer of Candace Wu Couture, as well. Convertible looks are great for making it seem like you are getting two gowns in one.

 

Soft, Feminine and Comfortable

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Girls, we’ve all done it before. How many of you suffer through wearing something uncomfortable because whatever you are wearing looks amazing? On your wedding day though, you really want to take comfort into consideration as it’s a long day full of photos and dancing. Saundra Farr, US National Director of Augusta Jones, said their line for this year expect to see lighter fabrics, alternatives to the traditional lace and structured looks. Think more bohemian style with 1970s inspiration. Farr says, “Brides are looking for lighter fabrics, they’re looking for alternatives to lace, so a lot of structured looks, definitely boho bohemian looks so some of the 70s flares. … They still do like lace, but little cap sleeves, straps, some sort of alternative to strapless as well has been very popular, too.”

 

Photo Credit: Sam Aronov

From Casablanca Bridal, you’ll see comfort showing through in many different ways. Charlotte Pratt, Marketing & PR Associate for Casablanca Bridal, says, “One of the things we’re seeing a lot of, obviously with the rise of social media, brides want to capture their whole day on their cell phone. … So you’ll see this season and beyond, a lot of our gowns are starting to have pockets in them and the reason why you’re seeing that is because brides want to have pockets to keep their cell phone.” Their gowns for 2017 are also going to be very clean and modern. Pratt says, “Fall 2017 is clean modernism, so Casablanca has traditionally been very elaborate and beaded. That is still a huge signature and part of who we are; but we also are moving more toward designs that are a little more simple, like satin fabrics with maybe minimal beading at the waist or the neckline, but very clean, modern and fresh looking.”

 

“Brides are looking for comfort,” says Martin Thornburg, the head designer for David Tutera and Mon Cheri and head merchandiser for Mon Cheri Bridal. “They want to have a good time, so comfort is a really big fashion trend. Even though you might not think of it as such, it is.”

 

The Classics with a Twist

 

Let’s face it: Trends come and go, but some gown styles and fabrics always seem to withstand the test of time. If you are looking for lace or classic ballgowns, you might want to look at the Christina Wu brands. “Lace is still a very big trend, and I can also see brides wanting more glitz and bigger ballgowns, and that’s a little bit different than (what we’ve seen) the last few years,” says Wen Wu, CEO of House of Wu.

 

Photo Credit: Kat Irlin

Sam Pappas, co-designer for Amaline Vitale Bridal, says the most important thing about trends and more classic gowns is that

 

that you need to feel like yourself in the gown and “you want to look back 20 years from now and still be in love with the dress.”

 

For a bit of a twist from the classic look, designer Tadashi Shoji says to be on the lookout for off-the-shoulder looks as a variation of the more traditional strapless gowns.

 

What about Bridesmaids?

 

If you are a bride who already has a dress and are in the market for gowns for your bridal party, Vivian Diamond, owner and designer with the Dessy Group, says brides should always keep the bridal party in mind. Bridesmaids want to “feel really pretty and special too,” Diamond says, “because she’s walking down an aisle and being viewed prior to the bride, so she’s really a precursor to the bride coming down the aisle…”. What she sees happening sometimes is brides fear taking over. “So many brides are a little fearful of bridal party looking too good.” However, she thinks quite the opposite. “I think it’s a statement, it makes you look better as the bride. It makes you look really good if your bridesmaids look beautiful because they’re smiling and happy”. She says it gives everyone a very good sense of the effort put into your wedding.

 

Bridesmaid Trends

Photo Credit: Dessy Group

Following the trends of what you read earlier, Diamond says, “Chiffon I still a very, very strong trend”, as well as more romantic fabrics such as crepe and tulle. Additionally, you are going to see sleeker and sophisticated party looking dresses, as well as varying lengths. The trend of brides wanting longer dresses for their bridal party versus shorter dresses always flip-flops, but both styles are available.

 

 

 

Which of these gown trends excites you the most? What does your dress look like?

 

Make sure you check out part 2 of this series where we give you tips on how you can prepare for your first bridal gown appointment.

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