Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Where Do I Start??

One of my faithful readers wrote to ask where to start. She has eight months to plan her wedding and there is TOO MUCH information out there.
SO I dug this out of my archives for her. It was originally published in the Nashville Scene last year.

Where Do I Start?

Byline: Christine Boulton

Your engaged. If you are like most people, you are completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with joy, of course, because you are marrying the man of your dreams.

But also, that deer in the headlights overwhelmed by all you have to do. Where do you even begin to plan something this big?

To borrow a line from a TV commercial, you need to start with a ‘quiet conversation’. Sit down as a couple and talk about what the wedding means to you. Do you see it as a solemn ceremony with great meaning in all the traditions, an excuse to party until dawn, an intimate destination affair or a family reunion? Do you see it as large or small, formal or laid back, rustic or chic? To save your sanity-have this conversation before you do anything else. That way your vision won’t be nearly as clouded by all the possibilities available for today’s bride. And remember to write it down. If your wedding plans start to run away the a mind of their own, refer back to your original ‘mission statement’ to reign them back in. That mission statement can also come in handy when friends and relatives give just a little too much input. “Sorry Aunt Sally, but that doesn’t mesh with our plan”.

The next step is to decide on some numbers. You need to consider both your budget and the size of your guest list. I mention them both in one sentence because they are so closely related. The fewer guests you have, the farther your budget will go. This early, it is not necessary to have anything more then a rudimentary idea of your guest list, but you need something to work with. Likewise, you only need a rough idea of your budget. The hard number crunching will come soon enough!

Now that you have some idea of where this whole wedding thing is going, you can start making decisions. First pick a season, then narrow it down to a 2 or 3-week period. You want to be a little flexible here, especially if you’re planning period is short. The best and most interesting venues book up as much as a year in advance. That flexibility might be the difference between the site of your dreams and a poor second. Armed with a basic idea of your wedding style, your date, the size of your guest list and your budget, it’s time to start shopping! Use local magazine (like this one), personal referrals and the Internet to come up with a broad list of sites you might like. Don’t just look at the obvious spots like country clubs and hotels. There are amazing sites to find if you look off the beaten path. You might consider museums and art galleries. Even some office buildings have beautiful public spaces that are available for parties on the weekend. Once you have a list of available options do site visits and look at how each site works in terms of contracts, who can cater, and price. Does the space fit your vision? Look over the contract carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Now that your wedding has a home, it’s time to really have fun with all those pictures you have been collecting. Come on, you know you have. Sort through them and see what fits with the location and the vision and toss what doesn’t. At this point using a binder with clear sheet protector and an index is a handy way to get organized. If you do all your organizing on your computer, be sure and print hard copies of vital lists, like the vendor contacts and guest list. Better safe then sorry.

A lot of today’s brides are so busy with school and a career that hiring a wedding planner is the way to go. If you think you may end up hiring a professional planner, the earlier in the process you do it, the better. A good planner hired early on can save you both time and money. If however you wait until late in the process, their input, and therefore help will be limited.

There are still a lot of details left to sort out as you move forward in your planning. But you now have a good solid foundation on which to plan. Have fun with it; this should be a fabulous time in your life, not a sentence to a work camp. And remember, there are cake and a honeymoon at the end.


Additional info.

Getting Organized

3 ring binder

Get a heavy duty one with at least a 2”spine.

Heavy-duty sheet protectors

Box of 50

Tabbed index.

2 packs of sturdy grade plastic.

This is an easy and inexpensive way to get organized.

I recommend using heavy-duty materials because this little book is going to get a lot of abuse over the course of your planning.

Make an index page for every category of product or service you will be using. You can get an idea of what you will need to put on the index tabs on most any wedding website. You will also want an archive section.

Use the sheet protectors to store all your notes, pictures, prices sheets, fabric swatches and contracts. Use a separate one for each vendor. For instance, use a separate one for each venue you visit. Once you have made a decision, move all but the one you picked to the archive section.

Now everything is quick to find in a custom tailored planner

You'll need it for your storyboard. ;-o

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Discover Your Wedding Style

The best way to truly nail your wedding style is to see it all in color and detail as you plan it. But how do I do that you ask? Storyboard it! You have spent months scanning magazines and the web, pulling out pictures and cutting and pasting to your bio, right? And where are they? Stuffed in a binder or scattered in a bunch of computer files? Now is the time to get them out and play with them.

Here is the plan. Make a collage like you did in school. In reality it is called a storyboard and is used by event planners, interior decorators and fashion designers world wide to gather and express their thoughts. I want you do it for your wedding.

Grab a poster board of a reasonable size (you need enough room to hold all your pictures and things but it should be small enough that you can take it with you on appointments.) Start by laying out photos of anything you have already bought: your gown, the reception location, and the bridesmaids dresses-whatever. Now before you glue these down take a look at them and see if they all go together, if not you need to decide if the differences are something you can work with or if you are willing to forfeit the money you have spent. (It’s a tough call and is a big reason why you should start this project early on in the planning) Once you have the basics glued down, step back and take an objective look at what you have, see if a theme is developing. Is there a common design or style thread emerging? Try to put it into words. (No you can’t just use colors. That comes later. See previous post!) Pick five to six really descriptive words that can be used as a touchstone for the rest of your planning. Write them boldly on you board. Got that? Great let’s move on.

Dump the contents of you binder and print out the images you have saved to your computer and start going through them. With each image hold it up to the board, does it fit? Is it of a similar style? You may love starfish or floral tablecloths but do they go with the urban loft you have rented for the reception? Seeing it in living color helps clear the vision. Group the things that work together on your board. As you purchase things for your wedding, add an image or fabric swatch to the board. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it represents its style.

Now you can head out to the local home improvement store and grab paint chips to represent your color palette. The reason I don’t want you to get hung up on color early on is because it will limit you. Suppose you find a bouquet you love in terms of style and shape and the flowers used but it isn’t in your colors, you will most likely pass it by. If on the other hand you can look at it objectively by holding it up to the board you can always make a note that you love this bouquet but in a different color. Remember when something goes on the board, you are looking at style, colors can always be changed.

At this point you have done enough work on you storyboard that it can start working for you. When you go on appointments to vendors such as florist or cake designers, take the board with you. Rather than having to try to explain your vision to the vendor and hope they get it you can just show them. How easy is that. It also helps make a decision when you are trying to decide between two different items. Hold them up to the board and see which fits better.

I hope this has helped you just a little. And as always, I am here to answer any questions you may have. Just leave me a comment.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Color Does Not Equal Style

Did you get that?

I helped design and create a booth at Sunday’s bridal show for the Pink Book on Wedding Style. I put together seven completely different concepts complete with tabletop design and storyboard. The goal was two-fold; to teach brides about storyboarding their wedding and to find out what the favorite style of the brides in attendance was.

In six hours of talking to brides I cannot tell you how many think that color equals style. I would ask a bride what her wedding style was and the answer would be “ Chocolate brown and blue” or “Pink.” Say what? I didn’t think I had asked them about their colors. The ones that said pink where the most fun to toy with, I had two displays where the dominant color was pink. When I pointed that out you could almost see their heads spin. As I went on to explain that any of the seven concepts could be done in pink they kind of started to get it.

The reason I bring this up is that at some point you are going to have to communicate your wedding style to your vendors in order to get what you envision. If you can’t show your florist or cake designer what is in your head better than just stating the colors you are going to be disappointed.

I’ve got some tricks and tools to help you get a grip on your wedding style coming up. But for today, I just want you to start thinking differently about it.

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