Monday, September 25, 2006

Trunk Shows

I see a lot of chatter on the forums about Trunk Shows. I thought it was time to give you the inside story on this.

Trunk Shows are a marketing tool that is used by both the designer and the bridal salons. A bridal salon will contact a designer to come to their salon with their entire collection. In some cases the designer themselves will come but most likely their sales rep will do it. It is usually a one-day event that requires an appointment. Think of it as your personal private showing.

What’s in it for you, the bride? For on thing you get to see all the gowns in that line for the current season, which isn’t true any other time. Bridal salons have to buy their sample gowns and there are not any that can afford to buy an entire line. Most only buy the minimum required to stock the line. So if you like a specific designer this is a great opportunity to see what all they have.

The other cool thing about a trunk show is having someone there from the company that knows the line and it’s policies inside and out. I wrote a while back about being able to make changes on gowns when you order then; these are the people that can answer your questions. So if you love the cut of a particular gown but want less beading, now is the time to find out if that is a possibility. Designers and their reps love seeing happy brides and will sometimes bend the rules a little to make that that happen.

There are some salons that also offer a discount or throw in some freebies like slip or veil if you order at a trunk show. Not all of them do it, so please don’t go in and say something silly like “But the Wedding Diva said so.” Still it is worth inquiring.

The best way to find a trunk show for a specific line is to visit their website. There should be a listing of all upcoming trunk shows. They are pretty well publicized; no point in taking the show on the road if no one shows up! It is worth your while to drive a little to see a trunk show for a designer you really like. When I go to market I see some gorgeous gowns that you will never see in the magazines and that the shops don’t want to bet on. There was one Reem that I fell in love with last spring that I still haven’t seen anywhere. It would be at a trunk show.

If you haven’t really found a line you love yet then check with all the local salons in your area to see what shows they have coming up. They are only going to go to the trouble and expense to bring in a line that is hot in their area. No one knows the taste of your local market better than the local salons.

Check out at least one trunk show before you buy a your gown. You will have your eyes opened to the possibilities. Besides, it’s fun.


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Friday, September 15, 2006

7 Ways To Save On Your Catering

I got a message in my inbox this morning titled “7 Ways to Save On Your Catering”. Great, everybody would like to save on the largest part of their wedding expense. The problem is the email came from someone that has no idea what she is talking about.

Let me clue you in on some of the problems with the plan.

Always insist on a tasting.

As a consumer I can understand this point of view, but here is the reality from inside. Caterers buy everything in bulk from wholesale suppliers, they have worked hard to find the best product at the very best price. That works to give you a good price on the food for your event. The problem with doing tastings is that to get just a small quanity of the raw materials needed to prepare a tasting they will be paying top dollar to get the same quality. In some instances, the raw materials aren’t even available on the retail market, which leads us to the other option, buying from their wholesaler.

Let’s just use fresh strawberries for an example. The strawberries I can get at even the best markets can’t hold a candle to the ones I can get from the wholesaler and the ones at the market are triple the price. The problem is that for your tasting I need six strawberries. What do you suggest I do with the other 200 in the flat from the wholesaler??

Prime Rib is another great example. I cannot purchase or cook only two slices of prime rib for your tasting. I can either pass the cost of the rest of the prime rib on to you or write it off as a loss. Neither is a real option.

It isn’t that caterers don’t want to show off their cooking, it just isn’t financially feasible. Some caterers I know are starting to go to monthly group tastings. You can ask about this.

Ask For A Complete Breakdown Of Costs

This might sound like a good idea, but it is more of a headache in the end. I have seen brides want to see a cost breakdown down to the butter pats on the table. Now if caterer B’s butter is cheaper than caterer C’s butter are you really going to get you butter from B instead of C? I didn’t think so. From a caterer point of view when they are doing a bid, it goes something like this. Bread service, $x per person. If butter is high that week they spend a little less on bread. If the price of butter is down, the bread may be a little better. The price on fresh foods fluctuates pretty wildly at times.

In order to do an accurate comparison ask for a per person price and a complete list of everything that is included. Then you can match the list and the price. Easy.

Rental Kickbacks.

Some rental companies do offer discounts to the caterers and planners that use them regularly. And here is why. They know what they are doing. Not that you don’t, but they do it every week, know the products and have a good working relationship with the rental company. A rental company may spend two to three hours with you going over different options on chairs or china. A pro picks up the phone, already knows what they need and the deal is done in 15 minutes. That’s the difference. That small percentage is compensation for the knowledge the pro has. Whether or not a caterer passes that on to you is up to them. If you insist they do, chances are good the price of something else will go up to compensate for the loss in income.

Get a bid for the entire project and compare from there. The nickel or dime you save by pouring over page after page of quotes just isn’t worth it.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Fine Art Photography

This is a little off topic but I just had to rave. A little known fact about me is that I am a sucker for fine arts photography. This may be due to the fact that I couldn’t take a good picture if my life depended on it or just that I have so many talented photographer friends. Either way I am fortunate to have some beautiful pieces decorating my walls.

One of my long time friends, photographer Martin O’Connor was at yesterday’s show with a new fine arts portfolio as part of his booth. WOW, all I can say is WOW. Martin’s passion is dancers and in addition to his wonderful work recording the weddings of the beautiful people of the mid south he has hooked in with several ballet companies. He recently finished a new series of dancers swathed in a sheer spandex type fabric. The shots he got completely blew me away. Junkie that I am I ordered 3 new prints. Check out his fine arts portfolio on his website. Scroll down a bit to find the “Pas de duex” print. Yes, those are dancers. In fact one is a good friend of mine, Judy Coyle.

Another photographer I love is David Wright. One of his fine art prints “Sensual” just won a slew of awards including the Fuji Masterpiece Award and Best of show. Of course I ordered a print of that too. I just have to give kudos to David for his blog. It one of the best artist’s blog I have run across. If you want to get inside the head of a true creative talent you should read his words.

When you are interviewing photographers to capture your wedding take a look at their fine art work. It will show you their passion and you just might end up with some pretty cool art for your new home.

And a note to my photographer friends: I said I’m a sucker so post a link to your fine art page in the comments box. I would love to take a look.

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Customize Your Wedding Gown

I had the pleasure of helping my dear friends Tony and Gipsy Williams host their annual fall bridal show Enchanted Brides yesterday. What fun! It is wonderful to reconnect with all my friends in the industry and to get a chance to talk to the brides.

I am always amazed when I talk to brides and find out what they don’t know. We in the industry take so much of our knowledge for granted that it never occurs to us to share it. NOT ME. So here is my tidbit for today.

I was talking to two lovely sisters that where both getting married and I asked them what gowns they had chosen. One sister said she was having a hard time finding a satin ball gown that wasn’t covered in beadwork. So I asked her why she didn’t just order on she likes the cut and fabric of without the beadwork. “You can do that?” she was blown away by this bit of news. Well ladies here is the lowdown.

When you order a wedding gown it isn’t cut until the order is placed. Unlike ready to wear your gown isn’t just sitting in a warehouse waiting to be shipped, it is still on a bolt of fabric. If you are ordering your gown from a bridal salon (as opposed to a big box store or the internet) you can customize just about every aspect of your gown. Want sleeves, of course. Sweetheart instead of scoop neck, we can do that! To much beading for your taste? Order it with less. I even talked to a salon owner that had a bride love the top of one gown and the skirt of another. Both gowns were from the same designers collection and last I heard the salon owner was in negotiations with the manufacturer to get it done. You can do that. Every line is a bit different and these changes will cost you, but to get the perfect gown instead of settling for a close second it is well worth it.

The key to getting what you want is to find a good salon that knows their lines and is there to help you. I’m not just talking about the really high-end couture lines either. This policy holds true for the more moderately priced lines as well. Lines like Mon Cheri and Allure . Again, each line is different and the salon owner will be able to steer you to a line that does a great job at custom orders. The other key is to openly communicate with the salon consultant. Don’t just say “I don’t like this gown,” tell them why. If you talk to the consultant you will find that they are a wealth of information. And if they aren’t, find another salon. If they are not aware of possible changes to a gown they haven’t been paying attention. When they view a line at market the designer always emphasizes the possible changes available to each gown. You need to ask.

I will also tell you that you are not going to get this at a big box vendor or on the Internet. This kind of service takes a trained professional.
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Bustle Madness

As you all know I have been assisting a variety of different wedding vendors lately as a way of learning as much about all the many aspects of weddings as possible. Every time I do I come up with something to either rant or rave about. This week is no different. Today I have a nit to pick with bustles!

A bustle is the way the train of a bridal gown is gathered and hooked to make it easier for a bride to dance and just navigate at her reception. Any bridal gown with a train deserves a beautiful bustle. Of course they don’t come that way you have to have your seamstress put it in. The reason for that is because there are as many different styles of bustle as there are brides. Each bride is different, each gown is different and each seamstress is different. A bustle needs to fall in a way that shows off any detail work that the gown has. You also don’t want it to be arranged in such a way that it doesn’t makes your butt look enormous. Oh joy!!

A well-constructed bustle has to hold the train securely enough to withstand your movements during the length of the reception and even the minor incident of being stepped on. The other side of the coin is it must be completely invisible when the train is down. To achieve this many bustles use the tiniest of hooks in the same color as the gown and tiny crocheted thread loops less than ¾ “ long, again in the same color as the dress. The trick is to find these bustle points when it is time to arrange your gown for the reception.

Over the last few weeks I have encountered a variety of bustle mechanics. Some had hooks and loops, some had tiny buttons and loops and some had ribbon ties. Since I am not the main consultant only an assistant I had not seen the gowns until the wedding. Yet there I am in a mad dash to figure out and arrange a bustle with no idea of the how or where it is constructed.

I have said it before and I will say it again, take a responsible person with you to your final fitting to see how to do your bustle. Last week all the bride could tell me was that there were three points, one at the waist and two near the bottom and it fell in a triangle when hooked. Great…It took several minutes and two attempts to figure that one out.

So I went out looking for more information to help solve this dilemma. First I found a fairly good site showing bustle construction, which will help you decide how you would like yours to be made. Also this one does a great job of explaining bustle options. The other thing I did was asked for advice from my buddies in the salons. The single best idea I found was the seamstress who puts tiny gold safety pins on the inside of the gown at the bustle points. Lift up the train and you can immediately find the points. Beyond that ask your seamstress for a simple diagram of your bustle and give it to the person that will be responsible for hooking yours up. That will save everyone headaches on the big day.

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