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engagement rings: what you need to know beyond the 4 “C”s

OK, guys, listen up, this blog post is just for you. We’re going to teach you everything you need to know when it comes to purchasing an engagement ring. From when to buy it, to how to buy it to what to do with after you buy it, we have you covered. We know this is a big moment for you and we have your back.

 

You may be nervous or excited, or maybe a little bit of both, but you’re not alone. Michael J. Halpy, owner of Hannoush Jewelers in Wappingers Falls, says, “There’s some guys that come in with their buddies for moral support, there’s some guys that come in and they take that deep breath when they walk through the doors, and there’s some that are just really confident and know exactly what they want.” So know, straight away, no matter what you are feeling when you go shopping, it’s totally normal!

 

But before we get into the details, you need to remember one thing: Buying a ring is “the beginning of the beginning,” says James Matero, co-owner of Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring. Because of that, “it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind,” he says. “Buying an engagement ring is an emotional purchase. Yes, you want to get her something she loves, but you’re also going to get something that really is a symbol, it’s a promise, you’re getting her an emotional item, not just a physical item. So getting something she loves is important but making sure it means what you want is also important.”

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

General rules to keep in mind outside of the 4 “C” s

 

Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

By now, you should be very familiar with the four “C”s, but in case you don’t know, they are carat weight, color grade, clarity grade, and cut grade. However, choosing a diamond goes far beyond that.

 

Matero says, “Aside from the 4 ‘C’s the most important thing to remember is you aren’t buying a diamond based on paperwork, you’re buying a diamond based on how beautiful it is.” What does he mean? Well, diamonds may have great characteristics on paperwork that comes with each ring highlighting the 4 “C”s, but you may not like the way they look. “Sometimes the most highly graded diamonds may not look as pretty to you as something else,” he says. “So it’s always important that you look at the diamond and see them in person because what’s good on paper isn’t always the best.”

 

Another thing to remember is that no one “C” is better than the other, you want to go for an overall pleasing aesthetic to the entire ring.

 

How far in advance should you purchase the engagement ring?

 

Jocelyn Z. Klastow, Vice President of Zimmer Brother Jewelers in Poughkeepsie, recommends 4-6 weeks is good, but 6-8 weeks is better. You want to make sure you give yourself enough time to choose a great ring, size it, and have it ready for “popping the question” especially if you plan to propose on vacation. One tip she has is that if you are planning to propose on vacation, DO NOT under any circumstance put the ring in your suitcase. Keep it in your carry-on.

 
RELATED: 5 Tips You Need To Know For Awesome Engagement Photos
 

So, how do you figure out what she likes?

 

This can be tricky or not, depending on how open you are about getting engaged and if you want to keep it a surprise or have her be part of the process.

 

Get her involved

 

Photo Credit: Zimmer Brother’s Jewelers

“One of the trends I’ve seen over the last 7 years or so is having the women involved,” says Halpy. “It used to be traditional, the guy used to come in and pick out a ring and it went on her finger and that was that. But now, there’s so many different designs, there’s so many different styles, different types of metals, different shaped stones. Brides have their unique desire for their engagement ring. They might have a specific design in mind and at the end of the day, it’s a big investment for anybody. Whether you’re spending $500 or $20,000, it’s a lot of money for an engagement ring and you want to make sure that your bride is going to be happy with what you get.”

 

 

“I also think that it’s a great way to really start and cement that communication, on the relationship end, to find out what someone is really liking.

 

If you want to keep it secret

 

Matero says if your significant other has a Pinterest account, try to get onto that and see if there are any boards for engagement rings or wedding-type information. That’s a good source. Other options can include getting siblings or family involved, or asking friends.  A few years ago, my best friend’s boyfriend reached out to me and asked if I could help get some info on what kind of rings she likes because he was going to propose. I took my friend out that night for a girl’s shopping night and tried very hard to come up with a story that would get her to divulge what kind of ring she liked. It was tricky, but it worked. I felt an enormous amount of pressure to get it right, so now I know exactly what you guys go through.

 

Photo Credit: Zimmer Brothers Jewelers

Klastow says if you are keeping it a secret and doing it on your own without a “super sleuth” plan, here’s what you need to know. “We always say pay attention to the clues beforehand because she’ll be giving them, you just have to know to keep your ears open for them,” she says. “Most men that come in, I will say, have an idea of what she likes. Whether it’s been through a stealthy Pinterest hunt or whether she’s actually emailed him a picture, whether a friend’s ring was maybe something that she liked.”

 

However, if you don’t have any of that, “the number one thing it boils down to is what’s her style,” Klastow says. Then, “we start with what color metal does she like, and most brides are opting for white, so that would be white gold or platinum, but we are getting more requests for yellow gold and rose gold as well.” Then, she says the next question is halo or no halo “because halo style rings have become the most requested style over the past five years.”

 

The discovery process continues by figuring out what type of person she is. Klastow says if she is more sporty, you may want to go with a lower setting or maybe a half bezel, which is a metal edging around the diamond, that seals it in place instead of prongs. Basically, you want something that is in line with her lifestyle and will not get in the way of her normal day-to day activities. If she’s more girly and frilly, you may want something with a more dramatic high setting which gives the ring a very bold and romantic look.

 

Ring size

 

Photo Credit: Hannoush Jewelers

You might be thinking this is all well and good but how in the world do I find out what size she is? This is where your secret agent skills come in. Halpy says, “Finger size is an important thing and it’s a difficult something to find out without asking her directly or bringing her somewhere to find out.” He recommends paying close attention to the jewelry she wears on a daily basis. “Most girls have a ring, some type of ring, so just keep an eye out for what finger she wears it on…and then try to sneak that ring in (to the store).” It’s important to pay attention to the hand she wears it on because finger sizes vary by hand. This will give you the size or a close approximate size, so if it needs to be resized, it’s a small fix that won’t ruin the integrity of the ring.

 

Last but not least, you need insurance

 

You chose the ring, but there’s one more thing you need to do: insure it! “There’s a couple different things you can do for insurance,” says Halpy. “There’s some people who have renter’s insurance, so you can call whoever your renters agent is and get a quote from them. If you own a home, you can call your homeowner’s insurance and get a quote to get it added on there.” You can also go through the jeweler themselves to see what agencies they recommend, agencies that only insure jewelry. As with everything, it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure it is properly insured.

 

Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

Klastow says most people like to insure the ring against theft of loss, but, she says this is very important: “You want to make sure that when you insure it, you’re not insuring it for a percentage of the replacement value but for the entire replacement value.” When you do this, you also want to make sure that your ring gets reappraised every seven years to make sure you are getting the correct value if anything should happen to it.

 

So, guys, what do you think? Are you feeling more prepared now to get the ball rolling? Matero has some final words before you venture out to the jewelry store. “It’s a big purchase,” he says, “so it’s smart to do you due diligence.” You don’t need to be an expert, he says, but “trust your professional, think about what she likes, and take a deep breath. Enjoy the shopping experience.”

 

We’d love to hear your proposal story? Did you both pick out a ring or was it a surprise? What super sleuth method was used to figure out what kind of ring to buy?

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

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Wedding DJ

Why hiring an experienced DJ for your wedding is a bad idea

Say what? No, this is not a typo; you read that correctly. You do not want an experienced DJ for your wedding; you want an experienced wedding DJ for your wedding.  Yes, there is a difference. Let me explain…

 

Actually, I’m going to let the experts explain it. Recently, we sat down with a few of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding DJs to learn more. First, it’s important to not underestimate the value of a DJ to your wedding. Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz, says, “One thing I wish they (couples) definitely knew was how important the DJ is to the wedding. We are right in the middle of every part of the wedding – from the first song played to the last song played – and it’s huge who you pick to DJ your wedding. No single vendor will have more of an impact on the wedding – good or bad – than the DJ.”

 

Let’s break this down a bit:

 

Wedding DJs manage the timeline of the night

 

First, you need to remember that a wedding is not like any other event. There is a certain ebb and flow to weddings and a certain format weddings follow which differs from traditional business events or other parties. That is why experience DJing weddings is so important.

 

Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor, says, weddings have two main components. In addition to playing music, the other, and more important, is management of the event. He says DJs “…can be the best DJ ever, but it’s irrelevant if the person managing the function can’t manage it properly.” He explains certain songs are played at receptions at certain times, mainly because they are taking guests into consideration. Older songs (oldies and classic rock n’ roll) are played earlier in the reception and newer songs are played later. That’s why, if you’ve ever gone to a wedding and requested a song and maybe had to wait a while for it to be played, it’s because the timing for that song wasn’t right.

 

Wedding DJs manage details

 

One of the details that sets an experienced wedding DJ apart is knowledge of the venue. This is important because they will be already familiar with the layout, load-in areas and the staff at the venue, making the day seamless.

 

Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls, says, he trains his staff to always have a watchful eye. He tells them “Be aware of what’s going on. If it concerns you or not, just be aware of what’s going on in a room.” He explains this is important because if he knows the couple is going to do something special, he can notify the photographer that something important is about to happen.

 

Garcia says, “With the photographers, we won’t do the cake cutting without checking with them first to make sure they are ready – same thing with the videographer.”

 

Garcia also explains, “If (wedding DJs) are doing their job, they are going over every detail from start to finish beforehand – sitting down with the couple, finding out what they want, what they are looking for and what they’re not looking for, and putting it all together in the timeline of events.”

 

David Fischer, DJ and president of M.C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, says wedding guests often look to the DJ as the one in charge because they are orchestrating all those moving parts. “We have to get with the other vendors; we have to get with the caterer to find out the timing of the meals,” he says. “I want a 10-minute heads-up because I don’t want to be blowing the roof off the joint and having 150 people sweating five minutes before they sit down to eat dinner.”

 

Wedding DJs know wedding trends

It’s one thing to know and keep up with trends in the music industry and DJ industry; but an experienced wedding DJ will also know the latest trends in weddings so they can properly manage the couple’s expectations.

 

Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro, says a DJ can be “experienced for 25 plus years. The key to experience is evolving and changing with the trends of weddings from the entertainment perspective. … Do they have experience? Absolutely. They have many years of experience. But that experience doesn’t necessarily transition to a good time. … To be a professional (wedding) DJ, you must adapt to complement what your couples desire.”

 

If you’ve already chosen your DJ, what advice do you have for others looking to choose theirs? If you are a wedding DJ, what parts of a wedding do you think are most overlooked by couples?

 

Photo Credit: Jade DJ Entertainment

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Just engaged? 3 important things you should and should not do

An engagement is an exciting time, to say the least. Take it from me, it’s very, very easy to feel a little (or a lot) like your mind has turned to mush after your significant other pops the question, especially if it was a surprise and comes out of nowhere.
 

My engagement came as such a surprise, I think I blanked out for a while. Seriously, I don’t remember anything. Everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion. I don’t remember hearing any sounds, I can’t even tell you what my husband said to me. I just remember seeing my husband kneel, the ring shimmering in its box, and crying with joy, then feeling an overwhelming sense of “Oh, my God, we have a wedding to plan!”
 

There’s such a flood of so many emotions, and perhaps you might feel a little overwhelmed. Who do you call? What is your next step? When do you start planning? How do you make sense of everything that just happened?
 

From my experience, there are three things you should and three things you should not do once you get engaged.
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should NOT do…

 

Number 1 – Social media

 

I know this might sound crazy to some of you, but as I mentioned in earlier post, sharing wedding-related details on social media is a bad idea. I know we live in an age of immediate gratification and satisfaction, and I’m sure getting a ton of congratulations on social media is very heartwarming; but trust me, this is one instance in which you want to make sure you’re the gatekeeper and control the news. I know you’ve probably waited a long time to change your status to “engaged,” but why is it so important to do it right away?
 

Number 2 – Do not plan anything yet

 

When your mind is running in a million-and-one different directions and your adrenaline is pumping, that is not the time to even think about planning one bit of your wedding. If you are like me, that almost seems like an impossible feat. “What do you mean don’t plan?”
 

It’s very easy to blurt out what you think you want your wedding to be like; but honestly, take a few weeks once you’ve gotten over the shock and excitement, once you’ve kind of floated back down to reality, to really start to plan. Wedding expos are a great way to get acclimated to the wedding world you’ve now entered. In fact, here are ways you can prepare for your first bridal show.
 

Number 3 – Do not make statements you can’t follow-up on

 

What do I mean by this? It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the moment. You are going to be inundated with congratulatory well wishes from everyone and their uncle. People are going to start asking you questions right away like “When’s the date?” or “Where is it going to be?” or “How big is it going to be?” Just tell them the truth. One way to quell the onslaught of questions or to put those who are pushing to be on your guest list at bay is simply by saying, “We really haven’t had much time to think about it yet,” or “We’re thinking of a small wedding – just family and close friends.” Don’t tell your co-workers they’ll all be invited if you don’t know for sure. Don’t make grand gestures without spending time with your fiancé to really hash out the details.
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should do (in no particular order)

 

Number 1 – Call your parents, siblings, and anyone in on the engagement first

 

Think about it: Your significant other most likely asked your dad and/or mom for permission to marry you, so they are waiting on baited breath to find out how everything went and if there was a “yes.” Sometimes the family might have even been in on the surprise as well, coordinating efforts to get you to the right place at the right time, maybe telling little white lies in the process. They are going to want to know right away, so make sure your immediate family knows.
 

But here’s the thing: Make sure you tell them not to spread the word, that you will be calling others later. Make sure they know you want to be the one telling others. Why is this important? Well, wouldn’t you like to hear from the engaged couple personally instead of hearing the news through the grapevine?
 

Number 2 – Enjoy the moment

 

YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED!!! Seriously, once you get the important phone calls out of the way, enjoy the moment. Stop everything, actually look and examine your ring in all its beauty, spend time with your fiancé, get the scoop on how it all went down. Literally, just let it all sink in, take a deep breath, and enjoy. Things will get busy quickly, so this may be the only time for a long while that you may have just to enjoy your new status. Being a fiancé lasts but for a little while, so practice using that term. It’s really a lot of fun and, if you are like me, makes you a little giddy, too!
 

Number 3 – Do something special to celebrate…alone

 

This is a big step, a life-changing occasion, a moment that you will remember forever. Depending on the situation, if your family witnessed the engagement, there may be something already planned to celebrate. If that’s the case, make sure you also set aside alone time with your fiancé to celebrate.
 

If nothing has been planned, go out to dinner, have some nice wine, go out for ice cream, whatever. But do something special to celebrate, just the two of you, alone. I can’t stress alone enough. There will be time to celebrate with family and friends, but right now, this is your moment. Enjoy it!
 

How did you celebrate your engagement? Do you have pictures of your proposal?

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Engagement Photos: What Hudson Valley couples want you to know

Thank you for joining us in this last of our three-part series

 

The period of engagement is a really special time in a couple’s life, and it’s usually the shortest time in a couple’s life as well. We’ve already explained why the experts say engagement photos are important and explained how to prepare for your session and what to expect during your session.
 

Today, we wanted to give you two stories, from real Hudson Valley couples like you, explaining why they had engagement photos taken and what their experience was like. If you are still on the fence about engagement photos, these awesome stories might encourage you.

 

Kimberly & Andrew

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Let’s first start off with Kimberly and Andrew. While originally from the Hudson Valley, Kimberly being from Union Vale and Andrew from LaGrangeville, the couple is currently living in Virginia, where Andrew is stationed with the United States Navy. Andrew has been in the Navy for seven years and is currently waiting to hear on a deployment date; because of that uncertainty, they don’t have a wedding date yet but are thinking sometime in 2018 in the Hudson Valley.
 

Kimberly and Andrew had their engagement photos taken with Hannah Servidio, from Hannah Nicole Photography, and are the sweet couple featured in the behind-the-scenes video in Part 2. I asked them why they decided to have engagement photos taken, and Kimberly said they knew it was something everyone does; and since they have a bit of a wait before their wedding day, it was something special they wanted to do sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography


 

They got engaged on December 23, 2016, and just a few weeks after, they had their photos taken – not only to capture the moment, but also because they wanted to get them done before Andrew was deployed.”It’s possible Andrew may be deployed before we can have our dream wedding, so it was really important to me to have professional pictures taken before then,” she said. “I wanted memories I can look at in my home and for him to take when he’s abroad. I’ve tried to print photos from my phone before but it’s always a major disappointment; they never print well! That’s why I really wanted a professional shoot.”
 

Their photos were taken in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), part of Brooklyn. So, remember the experts said couples like to take photos in spots that have meaning to them? In this case, DUMBO was the second choice. They originally wanted snowy pictures in the Hudson Valley, but the only snow on the ground at the time was the crusty brown snow found along the edge of roads – not very pretty. So, since Kimberly went to NYU and DUMBO was a location that offered different views of Manhattan, that’s where they went.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Andrew, admittedly, wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first, but found the whole ‘being photographed’ process very simple, self-explanatory, and he said they were coached very well. “Hannah was great at coaching us through different poses that we hadn’t thought of before and was great at communicating the small things that can make or break a photo: where we were supposed to look, placement of hands, how to do the close embrace, and more,” he said. “She was so professional and put us at ease. I also feel like we now have training for when we take our own photos from here on out.”

 

Their Tips

 

Some tips they have for couples is to make sure that your photographer is a people person, because that characteristic is really what is going to put the couple at ease. Again, this goes back to what the experts say about being able to mesh well with your vendors. Another tip, especially if you are doing a winter shoot: Be prepared for a lot of wind and dress warm!
 

They also realize some couples decide not to get engagement photos done because they are too nervous or because it costs too much money. They say it’s nice to be coached on how to be photographed and what poses look good. It’s also nice to have the moment of engagement captured, so you can look back on that feeling and always have a glimpse of how you felt at that time.
 

Nora & Dan

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Our next couple is Nora and Dan from Cold Spring. Their story is a little different than that of Kimberly and Andrew. Nora and Dan are getting married in September 2017 and had photos taken with Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography. Unlike Kimberly and Andrew, they were skeptical, at first, about getting photos done and went back and forth for a while. They really wanted to have them done, but weren’t sure if they could afford it, originally thinking they would have family members take their photos. Ultimately, they decided to have them done professionally because being engaged is a real special moment in time, and they wanted to make sure they captured the magic of being engaged. Plus, with Erica, they realized it was more affordable than they thought.

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

“I think that cost was the number one deterrent at first, but after researching photographers and finding one who offered it within her package, we jumped on the opportunity,” Nora said. “When you’re engaged, you are spending so much time thinking about the wedding day itself, but these photos capture a moment in time that still celebrates your relationship in a really fun and meaningful way. Plus, they are so useful for practical reasons including save-the-dates, invitations and wedding websites.”
 

They, like most, were nervous and awkward at first, because like they said, “How often do people get photos taken?” However, once they began to loosen up, interact with each other and with their photographer, cracking jokes with each other, they began to loosen up and feel more comfortable.
 

They see the photos as being really practical because you can use them for so many purposes: to celebrate the fact that they are engaged; for a wedding website, save-the-dates, or to print out and hang up.

 

Their Tips

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Nora and Dan have some great tips when it comes to choosing a photographer. They suggest getting recommendations from people you know about photographers they’ve used and what their experiences were like. They say don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations and, just like what our experts said, don’t be afraid to reach out to lots of photographers (and vendors) to see what you get for your money.
 

They also say having the same photographer do both your engagement and wedding photos will help because you because you will have already met the photographer, gotten to know them and how they operate, which will put you at ease the day of your wedding.
 

In terms of what to wear, they suggest wearing colors that work well with your surroundings. They got engagement photos taken in the fall, so Nora wore red to pop with the green in the trees and the very slightly changing colors in the foliage. “We were doing our photos outside so I knew there was going to be a lot of greenery, and I wanted to pick something that I knew would play off those colors in a nice way,” she said. “Second, wear something you are comfortable in and feel good in! We all have colors and even specific pieces in our closets that make us feel confident. You don’t necessarily have to buy a new outfit for the photos because you likely own something that is perfect.”
 
Did hearing from these couples help you make decide on engagement photos? Did their tips help you? What tips do you have for couples?

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6 easy ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo

Thank you for joining us in this last of a three-part series

 

What do stickers have to do with not feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo? You’ll have to read on to find out. But first, let’s take a look back.

 

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll remember I shared with you I felt very overwhelmed at the first Wedding Expo I attended. It was nobody’s fault but my own because I didn’t do research or come with a plan. I was very unprepared.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I also mentioned Wedding Expos in the Hudson Valley come fast and furious. Starting at the beginning of January, and for the next few months after, there seems to be one or more every weekend. That’s a good thing, but having so many to choose from can be overwhelming in its own right. How do you choose which ones to go? When should you start going to shows?

 

There really is no simple answer, and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s really up to you. Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview explains, “Some (couples) feel really comfortable getting things out of the way and check off a list, some feel like they want to enjoy engagement and then look for vendor.” Paul Porco, manager at Villa Borghese Caterers, says he’s even seen couples go that aren’t even engaged yet!

 

So, regardless of when you go or how many shows you go to, there are six things you can do to make sure you have an awesome experience that leaves you wanting to go back for more:

 

COME PREPARED WITH A PLAN

 

“It is really important to come with a plan,” Brower says. “What do you want to get from the show? Are you going to … start your wedding planning with something that is exciting? … Or maybe you’re going for information and making that particular show just a source of gathering different vendors booklets and cards. … Sometimes you go to a show and it’s like, ‘OK, we have three months until the wedding; we have to find a florist.’ ” Knowing your plan and what you expect to get out of the show is going to elevate a lot of stress. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9, says, “Your first show is probably going to be gathering the experience of the show itself and taking information, as well as packages and pamphlets. Then when you go home, you’ll be able to sort through a little bit of the information.” You need to set your plan and expectation and know why you are going first. What do you want to gain from it?

 

Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

I had the opportunity to speak to two lovely couples a few weeks back at the Villa Borghese show, each were there for a different reason. Kim and Andrew from Mahopac are getting married in the summer of 2018, and this was their first show. While Kim had been to other shows in her role as bridesmaid, this was her first as a bride-to-be. They didn’t really have any details planned and were just going to see what’s out there and to get a feel for locations; if you haven’t had a chance to read my posting on using a wedding expo to look at venues, you can check it out here.

 

Mary and Chris from Hyde Park, on the other hand, were at the show for a very specific reason: They have been engaged for a year-and-a-half and are really at the end of their wedding planning process as they are getting married in June of this year. They were there specifically to look for a transportation company and tuxedos. Chris’s advice for couples is to try to get as much done early on and stick with your budget. He says it can get overwhelming at times, but you need to go with an open mind, and just get information the first time going. He says it’s important for grooms to go, too, as it helps to ease the stress of just one person going.

 

DON’T RUSH

 

Porco says one of the best ways not to get overwhelmed is by not rushing. “Try not to rush into things,” he says. “View your options as far as your different vendors, different DJs, photographers, you know, go with a company that has been established for a while.” We’ll discuss this more in a future post. Remember, your wedding is not tomorrow (hopefully), so you do have some time to make an educated decision of who you want to hire. Also, take your time at the show, relax, grab a bite to eat, have a drink. Enjoy the show for what it is and take your time with each vendor so you can really express what your vision is to them. Don’t just make it a “How much do you charge?” conversation. More on that to come, too.

 

BRING STICKERS

 

Photo Credit: HCHV

I told you stickers played a major role! When you go to a show, you are given a bag at registration to hold all your loot during the day. It quickly gets filled with cards and brochures from all the professionals you speak to. Then you go home and are left with a bag of paper, and you need to remember who you spoke to, who you want to follow-up with; it can get pretty complicated if you don’t have a system. Brower says, “I always tell my couples to bring stickers, walk into the show, and if you like a vendor after talking to them, put a sticker on the back of their card…because once you put it (the card) in your bag, it gets jumbled with everyone else…so just simply putting a sticker on the back of their business card or on their pamphlet denotes this is someone we want to revisit, so you can automatically sort the people you are interested in and the people that you aren’t.”

 

She also suggests you bring another type of sticker, this time with your contact information on it “If any of the booths have raffles, it’s a time saver. You can just put your label on any of the raffle items and keep moving throughout the show.”

 

CREATE AN EMAIL

 

Have you ever overlooked an important email because your inbox is full of junk and spam, and it got lost in the shuffle? Brower says, “The first piece of advice I give wedding couples when they come into the office is to make a wedding email address.” You are going to need to give it at registration, and it allows you to keep all wedding-related emails together in one place throughout your planning process. Plus, both of you will have the address and password, so you each can check it throughout the day, keeping in the loop.

 

 

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

 

Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

Wedding expos can have anywhere from a few professionals to upwards of 100 or more, so you need to keep an open mind. Know that the Hudson Valley is full of wedding professionals, and they don’t all necessarily attend shows. Also, if you’ve done your research already and absolutely fell in love with an expert’s services and then see them at a show to discover one of two things: Either your date is booked or you are not meshing well with them, you’ll need to keep looking; or if you are on a super-tight budget, see when vendors have a slow period. Booking in their off season may save you money in the long run.

 

 

HAVE FUN

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

This could quite possibly be the most important thing to remember. Porco says overall, the goal of wedding shows is to provide you with resources to make your wedding go off without a hitch. But who says you can’t have fun in the process? Many shows will have food, drinks, contests, seminars, games, DJs playing great music and a wedding fashion show with models showcasing dresses and tuxedos. At the Villa Borghese, the staff gets in on the fun as they are the models for the show!

 

Brower urges couples to keep it light when they go to show because it is very easy to have an anxiety-ridden experience. “Keep it light when you go to them,” she says. “This is part of the engagement and planning process, so make sure that it’s fun, because if you leave and you feel stressed, you missed it. It should be something wonderful to help you. These shows should be a tool for you and not to make you feel stressed out.” Mendillo agrees, as she tells every couple she knows who’s going to a show, “I want them to have fun.”

 

At the end of the day, all the vendors and all the host venues are there to help you. Porco sums it up nicely by saying, “Our fortune is that you came to our bridal show, we made your life that much easier, and that much special for that particular day. That’s the most important thing.”

 

What tips do you have for couples going to wedding expos? What piece of advice would you share?

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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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