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How To Manage Your Wedding Invitations Like A Pro (Part 1)

I made a mistake — a costly, stressful, bitter mistake. I wish I managed my wedding invitations like a pro, but I didn’t. I, like many of you, imagined I would save time and money by printing my own wedding invitations, and so that’s what I did.

 

I got to the store and couldn’t find any boxed DIY invitation kits that really matched our wedding, so I settled for something that was close enough. They had four boxes left, but I got two because that was more than enough for what we needed.

 

I spent hours searching for examples of wording to put on the invitation, finally mixing a sentence from here and a sentence from there to come up with something we liked. I then got on the computer and typed it all out, spent about an hour figuring out what font to use, formatted it, printed samples to make sure it printed correctly and then held my breath as I hit “PRINT” to print the final invites.

 

Halfway through printing, I ran out of ink, so I had to run to the store to get more cartridges, then came home and resumed printing. I finally had my stack of beautifully printed invitations and was ready to stuff and assemble them.

 

We stuffed almost all of them before realizing the name of the church was spelled incorrectly! WHAT???  I was panicked!!! About two weeks had passed since I had originally purchased the invitations, so I immediately ran back to the store in hopes that the last two packages of invitations were there (which they were), and I had to start all over again. Only this time, I also bought another package of ink cartridges just in case I ran out.

 

The intention was good, but the reality was something different. I didn’t save time or money, and it certainly made the whole process more stressful than it needed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the final product but didn’t necessarily love it, and I wish I had just hired someone to do them for us, in a style we liked that perfectly set the tone for our wedding and showcased our personality.

 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TONE OF YOUR INVITES

 

To help you avoid what I went through, local wedding invitation experts are sharing their advice so you can handle your wedding invites like a pro, without the added stress that I put myself through. Here are seven steps that will help you manage this part of your planning. There’s a lot to cover so today is part 1, and tomorrow will be part 2

 

When do you order your invitations and send them out?

 

wedding invitations

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

When sending out your wedding invitations, you need to work backward. First, you need to establish an RSVP date. Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Establishing a set RSVP four to eight weeks before the wedding is suggested so that you’ll have an idea of how many of your guests will be attending.” We set our RSVP date a month before our wedding and sent the invites a month before that date.

 

Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “They (couples) want to mail them (invitations) out anywhere between two to three months prior to the wedding.” Of course it all depends on when your wedding is and what’s going on. If you are getting married on a busy weekend in the Hudson Valley, say during college homecomings or graduations, you might want to give a little more time because it will allow your guests to book hotel rooms in time before they sell out from others who are in the area for other events. Stark says, “I don’t recommend sending them (invitations) out more than four months before (the wedding) because the RSVP just gets thrown on the counter, and nobody sends it back.”

 

Ordering too far in advance is not good for another reason. “I’ve had some couples order a year out, which makes me a little nervous,” says Stark, “because times could change, locations could change. If you spend $500 on invitations, and three months later you’re almost ready to send them out and the venue calls and says you have to change the time, you’re stuck. So I usually will say around the six- to eight-month mark.”

 

How much should you budget for invites?

 

The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is that the cost of your invitations DOES NOT include the cost of postage. That’s a separate cost altogether, as no one knows what that exact price will be when designing the invitation. We’ll talk about that next.

 

Another thing to remember is that you are not sending an invitation to every person, but rather to every household. Amy Eddy and Stephanie McHoul, owners of Graphic Nature, LLC, in Fishkill, say they see this mistake happen all the time when they ask couples how many invitations they’ll need. McHoul says, “’How many’ is not based on the guest list; it’s based on household address.” So, if you are inviting 300 people you’ll probably need about 150 (plus a few extra for keepsakes and photos) invites. It’s a common mistake because couples are always asked by everyone how many people they are inviting, so by the slip of the tongue, the number of guests comes out when asked how many invites they need.

 

wedding invitations

Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

That being said, there are many variables that determine the cost of the invitation. Paper, stamping, embellishments like foil or embossing, bellybands, pockets or shape of the invitation, laser cut paper, any inserts, etc. — it all adds up.

 

Kristal Walden, owner of Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, says there tends to be a misconception couples have when it comes to wedding invitations. “They definitely think that custom invites are going to be completely too expensive, when realistically, they’re not.” Walden says if the couple wants something very elaborate, they are going to pay more per invite, but she says, “Generally, couples usually spend $400-$500,” and if you ordered invitations online, it’s usually the same price, around $1-$1.25 per invitation (for a good base, knowing that you will add on to that).

 

D’Elia also says some couples want all their stationery to match. “There are a number of different wedding stationery necessities you will need,” she says, “from the engagement party, bridesmaids invites, save-the-dates, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, wedding program, menu, and extras, such as gift tags, thank-you cards, etc.” If that’s something you are considering, speak to your stationer to see if they can put together a package for you.

 

RELATED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SAVE THE DATES

 

How much is postage?

 

NEVER mail out an invitation without weighing it first. Just take a finished sample, in the envelope, to the post office. Have them weigh the completed invitation, in the envelope, with RSVP card in it first, then take out the RSVP card and have them weigh that separately, too. You are going to need postage for both the invite and RSVP card. D’Elia says, “You don’t want to end up in a situation where you assume a standard postage stamp will suffice, and then your entire bundle of invites ends up back at your house all marked up with postal marks and stamps. The investment to ensure that your invitation has adequate postage will be worth it in the long run.”

 

Just as invitation costs fluctuate with embellishments, so does postage. If your invitation has a pocket, that adds weight. Bellybands, 3-D embellishments, etc. all add weight. If your invitation is square, that also costs more to send.

 

You also want to consider hand stamping your invitations. Hand stamping means that instead of your invitations going through a machine, a person goes through and manually does that. It’s great for delicate mailings like wedding invitations, but that also means more money. If your final envelope is lumpy or poofy in any way, if the envelope has a hard time sealing or has a wax seal, you want to consider hand stamping. Eddy says she always recommends hand stamping. “When an envelope goes through the machine,” she says, “it gets an ugly red barcode, and they get ripped sometimes before they even leave the post office.” Hand stamping ensures that your invitation arrives as unmarked and pristine as possible to your guests.”

 

Join us tomorrow, when we’ll not only discuss the next four steps to mastering your wedding invites like a pro, but also give you a very special gift from Stephanie and Amy over at Graphic Nature LLC. To help with all your wedding invitation needs.

Featured Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

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5 Ways to Get Beautiful Wedding Photos on a Tight Budget

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly post where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. Each week through December, learn from the very best so you can make smart and educated decisions when it comes to preserving your special day. Click on any photo to be taken to the photographer’s website. This is not a sponsored post; no compensation was received or exchanged for the purpose of this blog post or for the promotion of the photographer.

 

Today’s contributor is Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography

 

We all know that weddings are expensive and today, many couples find themselves paying for most, if not all of it themselves. Many couples today also have other financial obligations to take care of such as student loans, rent or savings for a down payment on a house, or even family or child-related expenses.

 

wedding photos tight budget

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

With all of that, budgets are tight, and some are extremely tight, but no matter how tight your budget gets, the one thing you should never eliminate from your wedding budget is photography.

 

It’s very easy to say you’ll have a friend or family member take them, but in the end, you will most likely regret that decision when you are looking back at your album years later and see subpar photos. Unless your friend is a professional, you aren’t going to get the photos you really want or deserve to have as part of your legacy. Do you really want your friend or family member taking your photos instead of enjoying their night? Remember, they want to enjoy their day, and can’t really enjoy themselves if they are photographing you all night and “working”. It also puts a lot of pressure on them as well.

 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT  WEDDING PHOTOS TAKEN AND IMAGES CHOSEN

 

Additionally, and most importantly, your photos are not a purchase, they are an INVESTMENT you are making to yourself, your memories, and your family. Don’t think that just because you don’t have that much money to invest, you can’t hire a great photographer. In fact, the opposite is true.

 

We spoke to Erica Leman, lead photographer for Sweet Alice Photography, about what couples who are on a very tight budget can do about saving money on wedding photography.

 

 

Why is she the perfect person to answer this question? Because she was a bride on a budget. She says “Believe me, I totally understand tight budgets! I was the bride who had everything in a spreadsheet to make sure we didn’t go over our budget and had to finance my own wedding dress. I cried when I didn’t think I could find a photographer in our budget – and I was a wedding photographer! Budgets are a big piece of wedding planning, and ensuring that you don’t overspend is key when you are starting a life together.”

 

RELATED: PHOTOGRAPHY TRENDS AND HIGHLIGHT VIDEOS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

wedding photos tight budget

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

What are some conversations you can have with your photographer if you are on a tight budget?

 

As a photographer and a budget-conscious bride, Leman says don’t assume you can’t afford a photographer just because you have that much budgeted for it. Having a conversation with your photographer is a must and these are some things she suggests:

 

Think about the hours of coverage you want? “If you don’t need an entire day’s worth of photography coverage, ask your photographer what type of hourly options may be available,” she says.
 

Think about your album. Leman says “If your photographer includes an album as a part of your wedding package, ask if that may be taken out, either to save money or in favor of more hourly coverage.” I might even add asking if you could purchase your album at a later date when you have more money to invest in one. Maybe as a nice first-year anniversary gift. That’s what I did (after thinking that I would make my album myself and realized it was never going to happen). 

 

Ask about second photographers. “If your photographer shoots with a second photographer, ask if their hours can either be reduced or completely negated,” says Leman.

 

How about a trade? Leman has a great thought. She says “If you offer a good or service yourself, ask your photographer if they may be willing to accept a partial barter as a portion of the payment.” Of course, this all has to be agreed upon beforehand and spoken about in depth prior to signing any contract. Plus, not all photographers may be interested in doing that.

 

Keep an open mind. Leman says “When looking for ways to stay on budget with your photographer, please be open to their suggestions, as well as the fact that they may not be able to accommodate your request. Not every photographer likes to shoot weddings solo, and they may not be able to accept barters as a form of payment. It’s ok to move on, and find someone who may better fit your financial needs.”

 

We’d love to know, if you are a couple who had a candid conversation with your photographer about your budget, what are you doing to keep your budget in tact?

 

Please join us next week when we hear from another great Hudson Valley Photographer answering the most common photo/video questions couples have

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Your wedding dress: how do you know when you found the one?

Buying a wedding dress is one of the most emotional purchases a woman will ever make in her entire life.  We all envision that moment when you put on a wedding dress, look in the mirror, and hear angelic voices serenade down upon you as you realize that this is THE dress. We all envision that moment where everyone is crying as you say ‘yes’ to your dress.
 

This inevitably puts a lot of pressure on the bride to get it ‘right’. Just like with your spouse, you never want to settle, but you also have to be open to knowing that not all brides get that weepy moment…and that’s ok. If you are expecting that moment and will not say yes to any dress until that happens to you, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
 

So we decided to go to the experts and asked local bridal gown shop owners for their insights into helping you find THE ONE.
 

RELATED: WHO SHOULD HELP YOU SAY ‘YES’ TO YOUR WEDDING DRESS?

 

To find THE dress, keep an open mind and trust your consultant

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Before even stepping foot into a bridal shop, brides will do research online or look in magazines, pulling pages or saving photos to Pinterest of gowns they like. In each of these clippings, there’s something about that particular dress that catches the eye of the bride – either the silhouette, the detailing, the designer’s name.
 

Often times the biggest disappointment comes when the bride tries on the dress she loved in the magazine or online and it doesn’t look the same on her. While it’s great to come in with ideas, as it helps to narrow down the focus, it’s also important that you shop with an open mind, for such an occasion.
 

Tina Pomarico, owner of Lady Gray Bridal in Beacon says when a bride comes in “They tell us what they are looking for. We’ll pull out what it is that they’ve asked for.” However, she says, as the women start trying on the dresses they came in thinking they wanted, and start sharing what they like or don’t like about the dress, that’s when you need to start trusting your consultant.”
 

At that point, Pomarico will usually say “’You know, I have something that I really think would work beautifully for you, would you be willing to try?’” She says, the brides-to-be usually all agree “…Because they trust in our expertise and all that we offer. So they’ll put something on and be pleasantly surprised and think ‘Wow! I didn’t really think this would be the silhouette I would really choose.’”
 

Your consultant is also helping you by empowering you to make the decision on your own, by ironically, saying nothing at all. Laura Howard, store manager of Chamonix Bride in Rhinebeck says consultants try to say as little as possible when the bride is on the floor in front of the mirror and in front of her entourage. She says “We don’t ever say ‘Oh, I love that on you!’, ‘I love this detail.’ We just let them kind of figure it out and we can tell if they need guidance. We say ‘Well this one has the lace that you were looking for’ or ‘What don’t you like? What aren’t you loving?’ …and we just have that dialogue to help them figure out themselves.”
 

Here’s a tip. If you have a dress on and the longer you have it on, the longer you find ‘issues’ with it, it’s not your dress. Take it off and move on. If, on the other hand, you have your dress on and the longer you have it on, you are just finding more and more things you love about it, chances are, that’s a good sign it’s a keeper.
 

To find THE dress, don’t try on anything that’s outside your budget

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

I can’t stress this enough that it’s so, so, so important that you do research on what you like and the price point you’re comfortable with, and that you go into the dress shopping appointment with that budget in mind, and that you NEVER go over budget. Why? Because it’s almost guaranteed that the minute you start trying on gowns that are out of your price range, you are going to fall in love with one that you can’t afford.
 

If budget is no issue, then, by all means, go for it. But for many brides, a budget is extremely important. Now, that being said, it’s also a misconception to think that lesser priced gowns are poorly made. The average wedding gown will cost anywhere between $1,200 and $3,500. In that range, you can find beautifully made, beautifully detailed dresses with all the bells and whistles you can think of.
 

But, be wary of the too-good-to-be-true-find-of-the-century dress deal that you find online. Never buy your gown online. Always go to a reputable salon to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

 

RELATED: LEARN HOW TO SAVE HUNDREDS ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS

 

To find THE dress, trust your gut and don’t wait for the waterworks

 

Finding THE dress is a remarkable experience. Pomarico says “It’s really great when you see that moment when they actually try THE dress. You know, when they put that gown on and that emotion comes through, that’s not something you can make up. And after 34 years…I still get the goosebumps.”
 

However, the biggest factor many brides use to determine if they’ve found THE one is whether or not they cry, or their mom cries, or their whole entourage and consultants cry. The reality is most brides DON’T cry!
 

You might be asking yourself “Well, if I don’t cry, how will I know it’s the one?” Pomarico says “You will know. It’s an emotion I cannot describe. But when you experience it, you’ll know.”
 

“Sometimes you get that very emotional bride,” says Pomarico, “And she’s crying and so is her mom, and then we get those who… don’t get that flood of emotion, but we can still tell. They have that look in their eye and that look on their face, and they stand there and they say ‘I don’t want to take this off.’”
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Howard sees the same thing in her store. “We have people that are crying, then I’m crying, mom’s crying. Then we have girls that are just focused and analyzing. Nine times out of 10 you can tell immediately. They (the bride) stand up straighter, their posture is better, they’re playing with it, they’re sitting down, they’re giving it a full test drive.”

 

Betsy Wise, stylist at Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique in Beacon and owner of Betsy Wise Bridal also in Beacon says everyone is different. “You can tell when someone feels really great, you can see it on their face,” she says. Not everyone has the experience you see on tv. She says “people do find the dress and cry, but that’s not everybody’s experience, and I think it makes people (brides) feel insecure like, ‘Oh I’m not doing it right! I didn’t cry! I didn’t have that experience!’ Everyone is different, and everyone is going to find their right dress in their own way.”
 

Guess what… I was a bride who didn’t cry. Not one tear, but I knew, deep down, it was the one. I didn’t want to take it off. The longer I had it on and started twirling in it, and dancing in it and picking up on all the details and nuances, I knew it was the one and didn’t want to try any more dresses on.
 

So, if you’ve found your dress already, what advice do you have for brides who are still looking?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

 

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The Right Wedding Planning Help For Your Needs

When it comes to planning a wedding, each couple has their own set of unique needs. Some couples want to handle it all on their own, which is perfectly fine. Others really struggle with trying to get the vision they have in their head into something real and tangible.
 

Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle. You can handle most of the planning but just need an extra set of hands to help with the details the day of the wedding or the week leading up to your wedding.
 

Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “Any couple who feels that they need a little bit of assistance to an enormous amount of assistance should hire a wedding planner.” Though, she says it’s not for every couple or for every wedding. “If you’re having primarily an all-inclusive venue that does pretty much everything,” she says, “that’s usually the person who won’t hire a wedding planner,” However, she says there are exceptions, especially if the couple is doing a lot of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) details, or is having the ceremony at a different venue and moving the party to an all-inclusive afterwards.
 
RELATED: NOT SURE IF YOU WANT TO HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER? 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
 

Whatever your needs are, a wedding planner can help you fully enjoy your day without an ounce of worry or stress. Doesn’t that sound nice?
 

We spoke to Hudson Valley wedding planners to break down the different types of planning and coordination usually offered, so that you can make an informed decision to choose what type of assistance you need for your wedding…if any.
 

Full Coordination:

 

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

Full coordination is just that. Wedding planners coordinate almost every aspect with you and are there to hold your hand every step of the way, from venue scouting, to invitations, to favors, and day-of coordination with vendors and staff.
 

Angela Christoforo, owner, wedding planner and designer at Elite Wedding & Event Planning in Saugerties, says full planning and design is a growing trend in the Hudson Valley. She says couples are having a hard time seeing their whole vision and how things are going to come together the day of the wedding. “They have all these Pinterest boards and all these things they love, but coming up with a cohesive design plan for the wedding is a big challenge for them,” she says.
 

Full coordination, for Joann Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant at What Dreams Are Made Of in Kingston, means “I am available to them (the couple) to do everything with them. I actually hold their hand. We go to appointments together, I am with them as much as they need be to be with them.”
 

Stark says, “Full planning is where someone walks through the door, and says, ‘I want to get married.’ So we narrow everything down, we figure out date, location, and then continue on with all the other vendors.”
 

Nellie Hill, event planner and owner of Nellie Hill Events is Hurley, says most couples who book full planning with her usually have the venue booked, but some do not. For those that don’t have a venue picked out, “I help them with a budget to make sure that they are kind of aware of what everything costs, because people usually have no idea,” she says.
 
RELATED: THE ONE THING THAT WILL RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WAYS TO PREVENT IT
 

Partial Coordination/Planning:

 

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photograhy

Partial coordination is really what it sounds like: The couple has their venue and maybe some of their vendors, but needs help tying together all the loose ends. Stark says, “Partial planning is when a couple has already found their venue, they already have their wedding date and now they pretty much need everything else. So that can be a very small partial planning or it can be very extensive partial planning, depending upon the location and how many services they need. But that basically is more sight visits, more visits with vendors, contract negotiation, a little bit more extensive hand holding, basically”
 

Provanzano says, “Maybe they (the couples) need their décor decided on or they haven’t actually put together their invitations yet; maybe they’re looking for ceremony musicians, transportation, things like that.”
 

Month Of/Week Of/Day Of Coordination:

 

These are kind of all clumped together because each planner has their own version and calls it something different. It’s important for you to know, that if you book day-of, week-of, or month-of coordination, you should really have an ongoing relationship with your planner before that week, month or day in order for you and them to form a relationship, for your planner to get a good feel for you, your personality, your vision, and for you to have an open line of communication so that if a problem should arise somewhere along the planning process, they can step in and help.
 

Stark says, “We like to build a relationship; we like to foresee if there’s any problems that way we kind of steer them in the right direction instead of finding out a month before (the wedding) when it’s too late.”
 

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

Provanzano says, “A week or two before the wedding, I get together with my couple, we try to do a walk through with the venue, we do a timeline of the day, I share that will all of the other vendors, tweak it wherever it’s needed.” She also takes this time to review all vendor contracts so that the day of the wedding, there are no hiccups or issues.
 

Bianca Hendricks, owner and founder of RSVP By B in Poughkeepsie, says every couple should have a day-of coordinator. She says, “Your wedding isn’t just 8 hours long. It isn’t just the ceremony or just the reception. It’s important to us that each couple, their family, and their friends are all able to relax and enjoy the entire day from the beginning to end!”
 

Other Planning Services

 

If you live outside the Hudson Valley and are having a Hudson Valley wedding, you want to make sure that you hire a planner from the Hudson Valley who is familiar with the area, familiar with your venue space, familiar with your vendors, and most importantly is in the area should you need assistance with anything.
 

If you are a couple planning all aspects of your wedding but just needs someone to check in with to make sure you are on the right track, a virtual wedding planner may be just right for you. Stark says virtual wedding planning “…is for someone who really doesn’t need a lot of hands-on (help), but they want someone to be virtually there – phone, email, Skype, to just be able to organize them, make sure they’re going in the right direction, and be there to answer any kind of questions to relieve their anxiety.”
 

Are you hiring a wedding planner? If so, what type of coordination are you using? What is the right fit for you?

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12 Wedding Traditions You Can Skip…And 5 You Should Keep (part 2)

This is the second part of a 2-part series

 

If you’ve been to many weddings, you’ll know there’s a certain ebb and flow to them and certain main elements you can rely on, mainly being that weddings have some type of ceremony with some type of celebration after. What those end up looking like is totally up to you and your personal style and taste.

I mentioned I am a traditionalist, to an extent. I love the formality of weddings, but I also love it when couples change up tradition to match their personal preference, taste and personality. What’s great about weddings being full of traditions, is that, by definition, means that they aren’t rules. You can basically do whatever you want. While there are some traditions that can totally be skipped or changed up, there are 5 that, in my opinion need to stay:

RELATED: 12 WEDDING TRADITIONS YOU CAN SKIP…AND 5 YOU SHOULD KEEP

Wedding Tradition: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

What’s great about this tradition is that it’s vague enough that a bride can make it as obvious or as subtle as she wants. That’s why it’s a tradition I think should always be kept…more so than keeping a white dress. Why? Because fashion changes, times change, styles change. A dress is something that will be memorialized in photos and is one of the outwardly obvious indications of the bride’s personality so she should choose what she likes and what makes her comfortable and radiant.

This is such a time-honored tradition that I think any bride, no matter how traditional or off-beat will agree, is something she won’t be walking down the aisle without doing. The something new is almost always a wedding dress, so that can be ticked off a bride’s list right away. The something blue can be something subtle like blue shoes or blue stickers on the bottom of her shoes spelling out “I do” to something more obvious…maybe a blue dress or blue flowers or even blue hair!

Something borrowed can be absolutely anything and sometimes, can be combined with something old. For me, my old and borrowed item was a brooch my grandmother always wore which I had attached to my bouquet.

Wedding Tradition: Keeping the ceremony a ceremony

 

Back in the day, almost all wedding ceremonies took place in a house of worship. Now, more and more ceremonies are taking place outside or in non-secular locations. Either way, they are beautiful in their own right. However, every once in a while you hear about the couple that gets married under water, gets married while sky diving, or gets married doing some sort of non-traditional activity. While I do agree it’s your wedding and you can do what you want with it, it’s VERY, VERY important to not make light of the situation. A wedding is a sacred, special, meaningful day, and the ceremony itself is so life-changing that it needs the proper attention, formality, and dignity it (and your relationship) deserves. There are other times during the day you can express your love of diving, running or any other activity you enjoy, but the ceremony needs to be a ceremony…dignified and formal (however you define it).

Wedding Tradition: Mailing out paper invitations

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I know couples are strapped for cash and sometimes, invitations can get expensive, so especially now, in this tech-based society, many couples are opting for paperless invitations. While I understand the financial aspect of it, and understand most people just throw them out afterward, it kind of goes back to my last point about keeping your ceremony formal and dignified. Now, does that mean you need to spend $10 a piece on invites? Heck no! You can print them yourself. What that does mean is seeing your wedding in the bigger picture. Are all your guests going to be able to navigate an e-vite? Are you going to want pictures of your invite? Are you going to want to keep some for framing?

Now, there are things you can do so save paper and money. Maybe send electronic Save the Dates, or have guests RSVP electronically to save money on postage, but sending a paper RSVP to grandma instead. You could even try sending post card invites and then include all pertinent information on your wedding website. Whatever you decide, sending an invitation sends a message to your guests that it is a special event.

RELATED: WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE TO BE A DIY BRIDE?

Wedding Tradition: Hiring professional vendors

 

In this day in age, it’s very easy to say “I’m going to have a friend take our photos” or “I’m just going to play my iTunes playlist” or “I’m going to cook all my food,” and while that’s all well and good, you have to think about the end result, and what that all really means.

While it’s not really tradition, it is something you shouldn’t skimp out on. Is your Itunes play list going to give you the type of entertainment you want? Who’s going to announce you, or announce the speeches or announce the cake cutting or last dance? Are your friends’ photos going to capture every moment you want? Do you want your friend to work or have a good time? How long will it take to the photos back? Will they be edited? How are you going to get an album? Same with the food…are you going to cook or get married? You can’t really do both without having to work on your wedding day. Who’s going to set up?

So, that’s why the professionals are there, to help you enjoy your day and make it everything you dreamed of.

Wedding Tradition: Honoring those who have passed

 

At most weddings, there is either something said about those who couldn’t be there physically with you, something written about them, a candle symbolizing your loved ones or even a table with photos of your loved ones. However you want to recognize your loved ones is up to you, but it’s a tradition that needs to be kept. Remember, your wedding is about two families coming together, sharing love, and honoring your loved ones reminds everyone of their love for you and how their loved shaped you into who you are today.

What wedding traditions would you keep? Would you trade one of these for another tradition? What traditions are you keeping in your wedding? We’d love to know.

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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Top Floral Trends and Your Wedding: What You Need to Know

When it comes to choosing flowers for your wedding day, there are so many options to choose from. Some brides go with their favorite flowers, some want traditional arrangements or pick flowers that hold special meaning to them, yet others want what’s new and trending.

However, it’s clear that one trend, in particular, is sweeping wedding by storm. The shabby-chic, country, vintage, “casual” look is in, and it goes far beyond having an outdoor wedding on a farm with a barn in the background. It’s safe to say that no matter your venue, many brides today want that organic outdoor feel.

With that in mind, we asked Hudson Valley florists how they’re seeing this trend incorporated into today’s weddings.

RELATED: 3 Valuable Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Florist

 

Bouquets

 

Photo Credit: Floral Fantasies by Sara

Sara Salazar, Owner of Floral Fantasies by Sara in Rhinebeck, says brides are going with bigger bouquets. “Brides are staying away from tiny bouquets or even tight compact bouquets,” she says. “Now they want a loose, airy feeling like they’re (the flowers) freshly picked out of the garden.” This is a trend that started late last year and this looser, more casual feel seems to be continuing into 2017 and beyond. Theresa Colucci, owner of Meadowscent in New Paltz, says, “In the past, there were a lot of mono-botanical arrangements, meaning bouquets and arrangements of all one type of flower. Now, there’s more texture, more use of foliage. The designs are airier and open.”

Steve Morgan, owner and designer of Morgan’s Florist in Poughkeepsie, says when choosing a bouquet, keep in mind that the bouquet needs to compliment the bride and her gown. “No one should say they love the bride’s flowers,” he says, “because the flowers shouldn’t overwhelm or overstate the bride. For example, if a bride’s gown is ornate and really has a lot going on, the arrangement should be simple.”

Textures

 

Colucci mentions textures, which are also playing a huge part in wedding floral trends. What do we mean by texture? The best way to describe this is by thinking of a forest. Forests have all sorts of lush greenery, from plants with smooth leaves, plants with fuller greenery, and lots of twigs and wood. Kathy Herzing, owner of Hyde Park Florist and Gifts, says that forest look is very appealing to couples these days. “Unusual foliage like thistle and succulents” gives bouquets and floral décor that sense of bringing the outdoors in. She says the textures are countered by the softer feel of wildflowers.

Sarah Faoro, owner of Floral Affairs by Sarah in Gardiner, says, “The succulent fad is exploding” and can be found in both bouquets and décor. “Succulents aren’t just a gorgeous addition amongst fresh flowers, but also double as a pretty keepsake.”

Colors

 

Faoro says that a very popular color palette is soft neutrals like blush pinks and blush peaches. “However,” she says, “now we’ll see the addition of deep, rich colors: wine, navy, moss and gray. Also mixed in will be some brighter pops of coral, orange and pink.”

RELATED: 3 Steps You Need to Follow for Choosing Beautiful Wedding Flowers

 

Photo Credit: Floral Fantasies by Sara

Décor

 

Because couples today want that feeling of being outdoors, even if they are inside, Salazar says in barns, industrial-looking venues, even tents, couples are bringing in actual trees to decorate the space to give it more of that outdoorsy feel!

Faoro says trees and large floral displays are seen throughout ceremony and reception spaces. “Couples are opting to invest in giant floral topiaries for either side of the sweetheart table or a lush floral wall to hang at the reception as a photo-op for themselves and guests. Arches and gazebos are being adorned with extravagant garlands and place card tables are greeting guests with show-stopping florals in an effort to ‘wow’ their guests.”

How much does this new trend cost?

 

Well, I have good news and bad news on this. In the past, and if you are a bride that still wants a more traditional look, adding greenery can sometimes save you some money because you are interspersing it throughout substituting the more expensive flowers.

However, because the current trend is to use so much more greenery, you really aren’t saving as much as you would think. Salazar says, “It’s not like we’re doing just a little greenery here and there. The garlands are expensive. People think that by using the greenery, they’re going to be saving money, but they’re not because there’s so much labor that goes into doing a garland.”

However, don’t lose hope yet. There is still a way to save if you want a lot of greenery in your wedding. Salazar says, “What we’ve been doing a lot of is just placing greenery on the table, so you don’t have so much labor and it gives you a similar look.”

Now that Hudson Valley florists have shared these trends with you, what do you think? Are you choosing any of these trends for your wedding or going with a more traditional, formal look? We’d love to know!

Featured Photo Credit: Floral Fantasies by Sara

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the one thing that will ruin your wedding and 4 ways to prevent it

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. It’s probably a day some of you have been dreaming of since you were a small child. It’s a day that will go down in the history books of your family’s legacy for generations to talk about. All eyes are going to be on you, and you have one chance to get it right; it has to be PERFECT! Mementos from your wedding day will be saved and passed down, and your photos will be cherished by generations after you.

 

Stressed out yet? If you hadn’t noticed, I was purposely setting the tone for this blog post. Did you read that and feel a little short of breath, perhaps your heartbeat rose a little? It was done to show you how this one thing can ruin your wedding day.

 

Have you figured it out yet? I’ll give you a clue: It’s completely manageable.

 

Still not sure what it is? It’s EXPECTATIONS

 

Let’s dissect this a bit, shall we?

 

We’d all be lying if we said we didn’t want a perfect wedding day. We all want the perfect day. You’ve been playing it out in your head forever, have a vision for what you want, and you expect perfection, because gosh darn it, you’re getting married! But, let’s face it: Nothing is perfect. So, expecting a perfect day is probably not going to happen and is somewhat unrealistic.

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Admittedly, we (brides and grooms) are our own worst enemies. We’re putting this pressure on ourselves based on what we think our guests or family expects, or what the Internet, TV or movies tells us to expect in terms of perfection.

 

Nellie Hill, Event Planner and Owner of Nellie Hill Events in Hurley, explains why wanting the day to be perfect is understandable. “It’s hard because everyone is looking at you that day,” she says. “The spotlight is on you, but you have to try and remember that it’s about two people coming together, and it’s about love and as long as you guys are married at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. People aren’t going to remember those little things that happen…they’re going to remember the love and the family and coming together.”

 

Is it realistic to expect perfect weather on your wedding day? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect everything will run like clockwork to the minute? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect your wedding will be the most memorable wedding your guests will attend…EVER? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect guests will appreciate all the details as much as you? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect you are going to absolutely LOVE every single one of the hundreds of photos taken of you that day? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect everyone to dance to every song? No.

 

Is it realistic everyone is going to love your food or the cake? NO.

 

See where I’m going? You can’t please everyone. So, why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?

 

I know, it’s easy to tell you not to expect perfection. However, the good news is there are four easy ways you can control and manage expectations, and when expectations are controlled and met, that means less anxiety, worry, and stress for you. Sounds good, right?

 

Manage wedding day expectations with a budget

 

Have you ever heard of the phrase “Champagne taste on a beer budget?” That phrase rings especially true when it comes to weddings. That’s why it’s important to have a budget. You need to write down everything you’ve ever dreamed of for your wedding day and compare it to how much you have to spend. If what you want costs more than what you have to spend, then you need to take a step back and reconsider a few things.

 

“First thing I tell a couple is to make a list,” says Joanne Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant of What Dreams Are Made of in Kingston. “Start with the number one thing you want for your wedding and as you go down the list it’s what you want less and less.” Having a budget manages your expectations in terms of allowing you to realistically see what things cost and it also ensures that you get your top items (within reason, of course). You book what you want based off the list and as the money runs out and you don’t get what’s left at the end of the list, it’s OK because you didn’t put a lot of importance on them anyway. “You have XYZ amount of money to work with,” says Provanzano. “Get the important stuff first; then what’s left, those are the frills.”

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

Manage wedding day expectations through communication

 

Communication is so important when it comes to managing expectations. Disappointment and arguments start to happen because expectations were not met. And why were expectations not met? Because they were not communicated.

 

Planning a wedding means you are going to input from everybody and their uncle, with immediate family topping that list of opinions. “It’s hard to field out those opinions, but I think the main thing is to really focus on what is special for you and your spouse,” Hill says. “Everybody is going to have their opinions, and the best way to handle it, personally, is to just listen, take it in and then do what you feel is right.”

 

cake topper

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Think of when you give someone advice or an opinion. If they shut you down completely, you’d be pretty upset, right? However, if they listened to you and took what you said to heart, even if they didn’t follow through with it, you’d be OK, because they took the time to acknowledge what you said and heard you out.

 

You need to do the same. It’s incredibly frustrating at times to get opinions thrown at you from every direction, and you’ve probably said to yourself, “Who’s getting married — me or you?” but just take a deep breath and listen. It’s all coming from a good place, and if the other person feels heard, even if you don’t follow through, they’ll be OK with it.

 

You also need to communicate with your fiancé. Traditionally, it’s usually the bride that calls the shots, but your groom has a voice too and, even though he may not be as into the planning as you, he has ideas that need to be heard, and more importantly, represented. Remember, this is your wedding…plural. If he wants ice cream, or a certain type of beer, or lawn games, or a certain type of cake or food, don’t shut him down. Make sure you incorporate his likes and wishes too.

 

Lastly, you need to communicate with your vendors. You need to make sure you are communicating your vision to them throughout the entire planning process. What kind of music do you like? What style photography do you like? What specific food do you want? What traditions to you want to incorporate? If your vendor just showed up and you gave them full control over the day, chances are, you would never end up with the wedding you envisioned. Your vendors have your back and are waiting for you to tell them what direction to go. And as a red flag, if your vendors don’t ask you personal questions and don’t want your input…don’t hire them!

 
RELATED: Why Hiring an Experienced DJ For Your Wedding is a Bad Idea
 

Manage wedding day expectations with a ‘Plan B’ AND a ‘Plan C’

 

Three plans? Yes, three plans. Here’s why: Jeanne Stark, of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “You have Plan A which is absolutely perfect, nothing is going wrong. Plan C is ‘We’re going to have a hurricane on your wedding.’ ” Basically, everything that can go wrong will go wrong and you need to plan for that. “Plan B”, Stark says, “is somewhere in the middle. We may have a pop-up thunderstorm. We may find out there’s some kind of huge festival in town and all these little things. What do we do with that?”

 

Having a plan for something that might happen last minute, and knowing what to do, lowers anxiety. “I always feel as though, if you have three concrete plans, that when those dilemmas do occur, they’re (the couple) not overwhelmed,” says Stark. Then, it’s almost like things aren’t going wrong, they’re just going correctly according to Plan A, B, or C.

 

Manage wedding day expectations by realizing your wedding is not a competition

 

When you think of competition, you think of being better at something than someone else to “win” or set you apart from everyone else to get a “prize.” Well, there are no prizes in the wedding world. No one gets a trophy for anything you do on your wedding day. So, why do you want your wedding to be the best anyone has ever gone to? Is it because you are trying to impress someone or worried about what they will think of you? Is it because you are trying to prove a point?

 

wedding guests

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

By thinking your wedding has to be bigger or better than someone else’s means you are not only putting added pressure on yourselves but are also setting expectations so high, that you, no doubt, will have regrets. A wedding isn’t a game. No one wins or loses. Each wedding is different and unique for its own reasons.

 

If you’ve been to a few weddings, you probably have a “favorite” and one that wasn’t. Stark says couples these days are attending more weddings than ever before, and that’s good and bad. “They do walk away with what they don’t want at their wedding and they walk away with what they want, but now they can’t have that (what they want) because somebody did it,” she says. “And I always remind them: You know what? If somebody else did it and you still want it, do it! Not every single person at that wedding is going to be at your wedding.” She says if you went to your friend and asked if you could copy an awesome idea they had at their wedding, they will more than likely say yes and tell you why it was so great…or why it wasn’t and steer you in a different direction.

 

“It’s not a competition. There’s only so many ideas that can go around,” says Stark. “Taking the good ones (ideas) and reproducing them is not a bad thing.” Even if you copied everything you saw at a wedding you loved, from the same vendors to the venue to the food and same playlist, it’s never going to be the same because the guests are different, and you are different. Stark says, “You’re not going to be exactly like your fiend’s weddings, it’s going to be different and more important you need to make it (your wedding) about yourselves. If you’re really simple people, make it a simple wedding; it doesn’t matter. People coming together and being able to enjoy themselves is not the most important thing, it SHOULD BE the thing. Everything else is just icing on the cake.”

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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thank you

9 crucial things you need to do for your wedding vendors

Did you know that hiring a wedding professional, or even trying to figure out what professional you want, goes far beyond just signing a contract having them provide you with the goods or services you agreed on? You are responsible for a whole other part of that commitment, which is not always written in the contract.

 

There are 9 crucial things you need to do for your wedding vendors, which can be broken down into three areas: before booking, after booking to your wedding day, and your wedding day and beyond.

 

Before Booking

Never outright say you are on a budget

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Guess what? 99% of all other couples at a wedding expo are on a budget. If you aren’t, you should be. If you’ve read my previous post on what you need to know before attending your first wedding expo, having a budget (or a roundabout idea of what you want to spend) helps flush out vendors who are totally outside your budget.

 

For example, if you determine that you want to spend $3,000 – $6,000 on wedding photography and videography and you see a photographer that charges $10,000, you know that professional is not for you. Why? Because you can’t expect a vendor who charges $10,000 for their goods and services to give you the same amount of value for a cheaper price.

 

On the other hand, if you see a photographer/videographer in the $7,000 range, don’t dismiss them. I’ll discuss why in a future post, but what you should do instead like I mentioned in my piece on how not to get overwhelmed at a wedding expo, is take that information home to think about it.

 

Always get back to vendors…whether you are interested in them or not

 

If you gave your information to any wedding vendor at an expo, if they are professional and on their game, they will reach out to you after the expo to follow-up. This is not to be annoying or sales-y, it’s because they have very busy schedules and if you expressed any interest at the show, they want to make sure you get on their schedule (get them booked) before it fills up.

 

If after you looked over their information and decide they are not the right professional for you, you must respond. Not responding or ignoring their email leaves them hanging, which makes it really stressful for them as they proceed to book their calendar. They may even keep contacting you because they are left in limbo. A simple, “Thanks for meeting with us at the show. After reviewing the information, we decided to explore other options” is all it takes. This way, at least you close that circle and both of you can move on.

 

They may come back and ask about motivators for choosing someone else, and again, respond. It’s not them being pushy at all, it’s because they are using the information you tell them to help them perfect their goods or services for future couples. They are just looking for honest feedback.

 

After Booking to Your Wedding Day

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Keep your wedding vendors informed

 

Make sure you keep an open dialogue with all your vendors and make sure you are telling them the same information. For example, make sure all vendors know your timeline, make sure they all know if you are going to be doing something fun or special during the ceremony or reception. Make sure they all have important contact information and phone numbers. This is so everyone is in the loop, so no one misses something important, and so all your vendors can give their best on your wedding day. If you’ve covered all your bases, that makes your day less stressful. Who doesn’t want a stress-free day?

 

Pay on time

 

When you sign a contract with any wedding professional, pay careful attention to when payments are due. More often than not, a deposit will be due right up front (or soon thereafter), another payment will be due sometime before the wedding, and the final payment will be due the day of the wedding. It’s crucial that you pay on time to make sure that your date is not compromised and it avoids any uncomfortable moments. Trust me, vendors don’t like to, nor do they want to, come chasing after payments, that’s not their job, so you want to make sure that you hold up your end of the bargain.

 

Wedding Day and Beyond

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Don’t be rude or abusive

 

This could quite possibly be THE MOST important piece of information in this entire article. Weddings are stressful. There’s no denying it. People express their stress in different ways, and sometimes, because you have so many expectations of the day and want everything to be “perfect,” it’s sometimes easy to snap at those around you. But remember, being stressed is never an excuse for being rude or abusive to anyone.

 

The professionals you hire are there to give you the best they can give you that day. Outside of you and your family, they are the ones that care the most about your day. Of course, they are going to do everything they can to make you happy and deliver what you deserve, but with that comes trust.

 

You need to trust who you hire. Yelling, cursing, demanding, throwing, and anything of the sort is something you should never, EVER do. Yes, in essence, they are working for you, but that is no excuse to treat them any differently than you would your family or friends.

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Feed your vendors

 

Yes, vendors do need to be fed! They are with you all day working, and just like it’s important for you to remember to eat throughout the day, they need to eat as well. Make sure you have snacks and water for them prior to the reception or ceremony in case they want or need a little sustenance. Professionals may bring their own, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry and not assume. Plus, it’s just nice. I mean, who doesn’t like a snack?

 

At the reception, make sure you give them a meal. Even if their contract says that they do not require a meal, make sure you ask them if they would like something to eat and see if your venue can make sure they get food.

 

When you give your final head count at the venue, your professionals (photographer, videographer, DJ or band), are in that number. Check with your venue to see what the details of vendor meals are. Sometimes it’s the same meal but at a discounted rate, sometimes it’s a boxed meal. You want to make sure that the venue offers to feed your vendors, and if they don’t, ask if it’s ok if you can bring in outside food for them or if the vendors can bring their own meals in with them.

 

Tip your vendors

 

Make sure you bring money with you the day of your wedding to tip your professionals like your limo driver, your maître d’ and anyone else providing you services that day. Make sure you double check all your contracts to see the details of those tipping details such as how much. For some vendors, it may be included in the price agreed upon in the contract.

 

thank you

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

Thank them

 

After you get back from your honeymoon, and while you are writing your thank you notes to your guests, make sure you also send your vendors thank you notes. It’s very easy to send them a thank you e-mail, but it means so much more to hand-write a note for their time and talent. By the time your wedding comes, chances are, you will have become very friendly with your vendors – I’m still friends will all of mine – and it really is a nice gesture to take the time to tell them how much you appreciate them and what they did for you that day.

 

Give reviews when asked

 

Lastly, and along the same lines as sending a thank you, many of your vendors are going to ask that you write reviews on many of the sites they use to market themselves such as top wedding planning websites like The Knot or Wedding Wire.

 

It is so important that you leave reviews for your vendors. You have to remember that vendors are self-employed, meaning that they don’t have a big corporation behind their work, and they don’t have big marketing budgets. For them, more often than not, word of mouth is their best marketing tool and the best word of mouth marketing is based on reviews.

 

By leaving a review, you are helping support their business and their livelihood. Living in the Hudson Valley it’s so important to support those in our local community and neighborhoods. Reviews also help other couples, just like couples before you helped you, find your vendors.

 

Vendors make this as easy for you as possible and will usually send you the links to their directory sites. You don’t have to rewrite a separate review for each website either, just simply copy and paste. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to do, and your vendors will thank you immensely for your review.

 

What tips do you have for couples and what they should be doing for their vendors?

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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 steps you need to follow for choosing beautiful Wedding Flowers

This is the last of a two-part series

 

I love flowers! Let me just get that out right away. In fact, one of my favorite times of the year in the Hudson Valley is when the flowers start to peep through the frozen ground. It can still be chilly; but as long as I see the flowers start to bloom, it immediately wipes the winter doldrums away. To me, flowers are nature’s perfect package, and they just put a smile on my face. Between their colors, shapes and smells, there’s nothing more beautiful.

 

Photo Credit: Meadowscent

That being said, I couldn’t wait to book my floral appointment for my wedding. Knowing it was the one day where I could surround myself with such beauty made me incredibly happy. Now, here’s the thing: I know what I like, but the names of flowers – outside of the popular roses, calla lilies and carnations – leave me clueless.

 

I didn’t know what flowers I needed to achieve the look I wanted, so I was thrilled to have an expert florist walk me through the process, show me examples of flowers, and tell me the pros and cons of each, including what would be in season (and therefore be cheaper). However, your floral consultation goes far beyond just showing up and talking to the florist. It takes some time to make sure you get the perfect look. We spoke to some of the most experienced florists in the Hudson Valley, and broke the process down into three easy steps.

 

Step 1 – Know your colors

 

Photo Credit: Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill

One of the most important pieces of information you can bring to the consultation is your color scheme. I remember even bringing swatches of fabric of both my gown and my bridesmaids’ gowns with me. Steve Morgan, owner and designer of Morgan’s Florist in Poughkeepsie says the bride’s flowers need to complement her, he says that you also need to know what colors the bridal party will be wearing to ensure all flowers will be cohesive. Theresa Colucci, owner of Meadowscent in New Paltz says because the bulk of her appointment revolves around color, if you don’t have that information at your first visit, then you will need to book a second appointment. She says while it’s very normal for couples to want to start planning right away because they are excited, it’s best to wait until you know what everyone is wearing.

 

Step 2 – Do research and come in with ideas

 

Photo Credit: Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill

Lucille Conforti, owner of Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill, says looking at flowers on websites such as Pinterest, and sharing your board with her, is a great tool to help her get to know the aesthetic and feel you are going for. Morgan wants to see your Pinterest board, too, to work with the ideas you have. He suggests going a step further and doing research on what flowers are in season. Colucci asks, in a pre-appointment questionnaire that she sends out, all photos and Pinterest boards be e-mailed to her so she can prepare and get to know the aesthetic of the couple so the end result is a streamlined floral appointment.

 

Step 3 – Set and share your budget

 

The third, most important piece of information you can bring is your budget, and be honest with it. We’ve mentioned how important a budget is in previous posts, and you might be wondering why we put budget last when it comes to choosing the right flowers. That’s because until you know your colors and do research on what type of flowers you like and see what’s in season, you can’t figure out how much it’s going to cost. If what you like ends up being too expensive for you, you may need an alternate plan. But, don’t worry.

 

Photo Credit: Morgan’s Florist

Like Morgan stated, doing research on what flowers are in season will help save you money. If you want to purchase flowers that are in their “off” season, they can be much pricier than if you buy them in season. All florists are willing to work within your budget, but they need to know what that budget is. If you like a particular flower and it’s not in your budget, Morgan will show you how he can use similar ones to create the same look but aren’t as expensive. By getting your photos and ideas, Colucci will know if your style matches your budget and if not can discuss alternatives to keep you within your desired price point. Conforti will let you bring in your own containers and put arrangements in there, which often times helps couples keep their cost down. A good question to ask florists you interview is to see if you can do the same.

 

What tips do you have in choosing the perfect flowers for your wedding day?

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What is the most important thing couples overlook at wedding expos?

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

 

Did you see it? You know, the one thing most couples overlook at wedding expos? It was right there in front of you the whole time. Do you know what I’m talking about? The venue!

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

You’re probably thinking “Of course I saw the venue. I drove there and saw it when I walked in, duh!” But that’s not quite what I mean.

 

Did you really see it? Most couples attend shows because they are looking for a particular service or product for their wedding day, and I go into some detail on that on an earlier post. However, the one thing many couples don’t really spend the time to look at is the venue itself and how the space can be utilized for your wedding day. This is especially important for couples to do if they haven’t booked their venue yet.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I admit it: I had my blinders up, too. It’s very easy to be at a show and lose track of where you are. There are a lot of people, a lot of activities going on, lots of stuff to carry – and between talking to all the wedding professionals and grabbing a bite to eat, you sometimes forget you are at a wedding venue.

 

“If you’re looking for a venue, a wedding show is a wonderful way to see how the venue itself operates,” says Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie. “To be at the show, it’s easy to focus on the vendors themselves, if you open your eyes a little wider you can notice other things about a venue – how the tables are arranged, what the linens look like, how the staff is dressed, how they are moving about the space. Is it with calm and ease, and is the staff smiling, and is the registration organized?”

 

The key to remember is, the wedding expo is a big event, just like a wedding is a big event. By big, I don’t mean momentous; I mean big in terms of people. So, you want to make sure you pay close attention to how things are running, especially in these areas:

 

ROOM LAYOUT

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

While the rooms at a venue during a bridal show are pretty packed, do try to take a look at the overall style and layout of the rooms. For example, each room could be used for a different reception, or, if you are having a large wedding, each room could be used for a different part of your reception – one for cocktail hour and then another for the reception. Paul Porco, a manager at Villa Borghese Caterers in Wappingers Falls, says they have several different affordable rooms to choose from. “We can do multiple events and have options to do singular events,” he says. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor, concurs. “When you are taking a look at the overall venue that’s hosting the wedding show, you can definitely take a look at the specific area or the layout of the building. … We can do two receptions at the same time, but they’re completely private.” So, just being aware of your surroundings is key.

 

FOOD, DRINKS, AND TABLE SETTINGS

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

All expos hosted at a wedding venue will, more often than not, have food and drinks served – sometimes in a separate room, sometimes with passed hors d’oeuvres. Food and drinks are great because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like free, delicious food? But while you’re taking a break and eating, remember that the food they have could also be the same food that will be served at your wedding, depending on the package. Take note of what you are eating, and if you like the food, so that if you decide to book that venue, you can make sure you have that served at your wedding. Also, remember they are cooking for a large group of people, just like they will be doing on your wedding day. Like I mentioned before, if food is served in a different room, pay close attention because that could be the room where cocktail hour will be.

 

CLEANLINESS

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

This is going to sound silly, but check out the bathrooms while you are at a wedding expo. How are they holding up with a steady stream of people going in and out all day? Are they clean? Dirty? Look at the floor and the overall tidiness of the facility while there is a large group of people there. Does it look very well kept or trashed? It’s another good indicator of how things will operate on your wedding day.

 

STAFF

 

As Brower stated earlier, pay attention to the staff – not just those at registration, but floor staff and those serving appetizers. Is the staff happy to be there? Are they smiling? Helpful? Courteous? Polite? Are they able to answer your questions? You want to make sure they are giving you the quality you are looking for because they may be the same hard-working folks who will be serving you and your guests on your wedding day.

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

However, when all is said and done, a wedding expo is vastly different than a wedding, so you want to make sure that if you liked the venue at the show, you should definitely follow up with a private tour. No one will be around so you can see, more clearly, see where the dance floor is, how walls or curtains can me moved to facilitate your needs. Mendillo sums it up nicely by saying, “Taking a look at the size of the rooms, the layout, the outside gardens for photos is also extremely important as well as the staffing, being friendly, considerate, and helpful. But follow up with a visit, one-on-one with a sales coordinator or event planner, because you can see layout of the room set wedding style to see full effect.”

 

So, was this something you missed? Did you book your venue based on what you saw at a wedding expo?

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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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