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Let's Put Our Hands Together for All-Inclusive Venues

PC Le Bam Studio

PC Le Bam Studio

I've been on the hunt for a venue for some clients recently, and I've run into numerous all-inclusive venues with some tempting offers.

All-inclusive venues can be known for taking advantage of clients by requiring that certain services--such as catering and alcohol--be purchased in addition to just the venue, else you pay some meal and corkage fees. They get a bad wrap for being expensive...but as I researched and compared pricing for independent vendors vs. all-inclusive venues, it began to appear that the all-inclusive venue might actually be the better deal...

1) Less Vendors to Keep Track Of

How convenient would it be to make a couple of large payments, rather than a dozen or more small ones to pull your wedding together? Imagine how much fewer emails you'll have to manage, consultations you'll have to attend, and wedding liability issues you'll avoid altogether if your venue is handling the food, the bar, the chairs and tables, your decor... All you'll have to do is bring in a photographer, officiant, DJ, and a few other vendors and you're be set!

2) Less Set-Up and Tear-Down to Manage

When your venue provides everything that involves any kind of set-up or tear-down, it means that they are responsible for doing just that. This means you won't have to rent your venue for the hours it would take to set up and tear down, and you or your coordinator won't have to be there for set-up and tear down. How convenient!

3) Less Staff To Pay

One of the reasons all-inclusive venues are on the pricier side is due to the fact that these venues have a larger staff to pay to be present for the duration of your event than a venue that doesn't offer extra services would. Because of this, you're not just paying for the use of a space, but the hourly wage of a dozen or so staff's time. How much staff would independent vendors also add up to, though? Rentals and catering alone require a group of people, as does floral decor... Additionally, the staff at this venue are trained and experienced to work at that particular location, and will most likely do a better job at solving and preventing common problems, ensuring things run smoothly, etc. 

In the end, how much more would your all-inclusive venue cost? Of course, in some cases, venues are just very pricey; but if you find the ones within your price-range, and compare them to the costs of paying independent vendors, you might be surprised at how little a difference there is in favor of the vendors. 

On a budget? That doesn't rule out all-inclusive venues, guys! Do some exploring, and you might be surprised at the great deals you'll find!

Oh, and my favorite venue site right now?

You'll thank me later.



The Responsibilities of the Maid of Honor



Everybody knows that the Maid of Honor is important--but exactly what does she do behind the scenes? You'd be surprised how many brides-to-be haven't the faintest idea what the Maid of Honor should actually be doing during the planning process and throughout the wedding day. Being a Maid of Honor is more than its title; it comes with a list of important responsibilities that are vital to the success of the wedding!

This blog post is dedicated to educating the very busy bride-to-be on what she can expect from a committed Maid of Honor. And for those still choosing who to designate as her Maid of Honor--perhaps this list will help you identify who of your closest friends would be most comfortable playing the role.

(In this post, the maid of honor is referred to as she/her for simplicity purposes, but this list also applies to male honor attendants as necessary).



Pre-Wedding Tasks

Plans and organizes the wedding shower. This is usually done with the help of the bride’s mother and bridesmaids. At the shower, she keeps a list of who gave which gifts to make thank you cards easier to personalize.

Helps organize invitations, RSVP's, and reception guest favors. This is especially crucial if the guest list is quite large. The bride can't be expected to do all of this on her own! Tasks like this can also be shared by the bridesmaids. 

Spread’s word to guests about where the couple has set up their gift registry. This is important because it is not polite for the gift registry to be listed on the invitations. It is the wedding party's job to spread the word--at least until the registry is listed on the wedding website (if one is made). 

Helps organize the bridesmaids. She gives out friendly reminders to place dress orders, have alterations completed, and have shoes and accessories ready well before the wedding date. She also attends the dress fittings, including the bride's, and may help the bride shop for her gown.

Participates in the bridesmaid lunch, the ceremony rehearsal, and the rehearsal dinner. Just as the rest of the bridesmaids do. 



Pre-Ceremony Tasks

Attends all wedding-party related meetings, appointments, and organized meals. She also makes sure the bridesmaids are there as needed.

Helps decorate the reception hall if needed.

Assists the bride with anything necessary as she's getting ready for the ceremony. (Hair and makeup, getting into her dress, etc.) 

Makes sure the bride eats something before the ceremony. The last thing you want is a fainting bride!

Helps the bride pack for her honeymoon if she’s planning to leave right after the ceremony.

Is the “keeper of the train” before, during, and after the ceremony. (If) after the bride removes the train for the reception, the maid of honor can store it in a predetermined place, such as in a safe box in a wedding party car. 

Participates in any pre-ceremony photography sessions that have been scheduled.



Ceremony Tasks

Walks down the aisle at the appropriate time and takes her place beside the bride for the duration of the ceremony.

Holds the grooms ring (usually on the thumb for safekeeping) until the official exchanging of rings.

Holds the brides bouquet.

Arranges the bride’s veil for the ceremonial kiss.

Acts as a legal witness and signs the marriage license.



Reception Tasks

Poses for photographs with the rest of the wedding party. She also helps round up relatives and other members of the wedding party to pose for photos.

Helps the bride bustle her dress before the reception starts. Throughout the night, she also helps the bride manage her dress during bathroom breaks if the gown is particularly elaborate.

Stands in the receiving line, or mingles and greets guests while the bride and groom finish taking photographs.

Introduces guests to each other during the reception.

Acts as a messenger for the bride, communicating information to the wedding party as needed. Also acts as a runner for any last-minute errands that pop up unexpectedly during the reception.

Directs guests toward the guestbook, the gift table, and the restrooms.

Makes a toast or short speech in honor of the bride and groom.

Collects gift envelopes (and money for the money dance, if there is one) for safe-keeping.

With help from the rest of the wedding party, decorates the getaway car.



Post-Wedding Tasks

Helps clean up after the reception, if needed.

Takes the wedding gown for preservation if the bride leaves right away for her honeymoon.

Helps transport gifts to the newlywed’s home.

Attends the post-wedding breakfast or brunch, and helps keep track of who gave which gift if gift-opening is part of the event.


Have you ever been a maid of honor? What was your experience, and do you have anything to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!




Three Things to Remember When Wedding Planning Gets Tough



The wedding industry is one not just of weddings, but of (very loud) opinions. Certainly the abundance of strong opinions is not a quality isolated only to the wedding industry, but it is one that I, and presumably others too, were surprised to find when first poking our heads through the industry's door. It would appear that--pretty often--the romantic, carefree feelings associated with wedding bells are not as present as the tricky guest-list etiquette, pressure to follow new wedding trends, and family's eager vendor suggestions seem to be. Wedding planning easily becomes expensive, overwhelming, and even conflicted very quickly... I get it. But hey--it doesn't have to be that way!

This post is written in with deep empathy, and with the hope that the following three suggestions will empower and encourage those who feel cornered by wedding planning complications.



1) Expect and embrace that there will be conflict.

Be ready for it. Everyone has an opinion, and there will be so many of them that are so diverse that even the most people-pleasing bride will have to choose between some. That's okay--let me repeat myself on this one--conflict is normal, and should not surprise you. Not everyone's tastes or experiences match yours, nor should they; and while you now know that after reading this, keep in mind that not everyone consciously registers that wedding ideals differ. Furthermore, remember that many people consciously have no idea what kind of pressure or expectations their opinions may put on those around them. Do give people the benefit of the doubt here.

Here's how you deal with it: don't let it pressure you. Take it in stride. Definitely don't try to appease others wishes by letting them design your wedding for you; be gracious, but be firm. Be willing to say when necessary, "That's a really lovely idea! Actually, my fiance[e] and I were thinking we'd do [different idea] instead. Here, let me show you a picture!" 

At the same time, keep in mind that these are relationships that will exist post-wedding, so it's not worth it to permanently cut ties over something as temporary as cupcake flavors or reception playlists. Should a relational issue come up that is not solvable with a bit of insistence, consider compromising for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes you'll have opportunities to meet halfway. For instance, let's say your cousin is allergic to chocolate, but your fiance[e]'s favorite cake flavor is chocolate. So serve chocolate cake in most of your cake layers, but have one layer in a flavor you know your cousin prefers. This compromise is a great way to show how much you appreciate your cousin and want him to enjoy the wedding as much as you do. 

Compromise is key, but you can't bend every time your new mother-in-law insists upon having something her way, because this relational pattern is bound to continue post-wedding. And post-wedding, the issues being insisted upon will likely be more important, and you may have an even greater difference of opinions on them. (For instance, parenting.) All things considered, perhaps establishing during wedding planning the kind of steadfastness you will need later on will improve your relationships for the long-haul. Handling delicate issues with this in mind will also put disagreements over things like cupcake flavors in perspective. 



2) Forget about following trends.

Do you like the recent wedding trends? If so, go ahead and do them all! But if you don't, then please, please don't have a trendy wedding if it isn't you. This wedding you're planning should be the ultimate expression of who you and your special somebody are. Just because naked cakes like the one pictured above have been trending for the last couple of years doesn't mean you too must have one. Get the cake you want. This cake is for you, not Pinterest. Having a trendy wedding can get expensive fast, especially if your decor becomes competitive with magazine pictures--or the wedding your sister had last summer. Be mindful about why you make your wedding decisions and ask yourself the following questions:

1) "For whom/why am I making this decision?"

2) "Is that what is best, or is there a cheaper/easier/better/different way to do it?"

3) "Does it match my and my fiance's personal tastes?"

4) "Will I look back and wish I had made a different decision?"

Move forward based on those answers, keeping potential conflict in consideration, and knowing that the more bells and whistles you throw in based on what's trending, the more expensive things will become. 



3) Remember your guests.

I used to feel strongly that wedding decisions ought to be made based solely on the tastes of the marrying couple--that is until I started to read Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette. Early on in the book it expresses the opinion that the wedding reception is a celebration of the happy couple's marriage as well as their valued relationships with all of the guests. This idea struck me as very balancing, since I see a lot of complaints online about how couples have poorly hosted their guests, who--on some occasions--have traveled, booked hotel rooms, and taken time off of work to make it to the wedding. It seems appropriate to thank them for their investment in the couple. 

Before I go on, I want to clarify what I'm NOT saying: 

1) "Weddings are all about the guests."

2) "The bride and groom have to spend a lot of money on their guests."

We clear? So here's what I AM saying:

A reception is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to thank their guests for their involvement in their lives by hosting a reception designed in part to pamper their guests.

Try not to think of the wedding in terms of money. Or heads in a banquet hall. Try to think of it in terms of an party with your dearest friends and family--even when price tags tempt you to think otherwise. You absolutely don't have to choose the most expensive food options or fancy dance-floor lights in order to communicate your sincerity, either.

When creating your budget, it's important to figure out what you and your fiance[e]'s priorities are. You each can list out your top five priorities, and then each come up with two ways through which you can treat your guests in a way that says "thank you" for their support and involvement in your lives. From there, compare lists and see where your priorities match. Try to consolidate both lists to one smaller one listing 5-6 of your top priorities, and do the same with your guest thank you list. The things on those lists are your big ticket items, and the things you choose to treat your guests with are where you can focus your attention without spending every penny you have. 

For instance, instead of spending money on food, an expensive cake and dessert table, alcohol, a DJ, entertainment, and a massive dance floor setup, choosing to treat your guests mainly to a great dinner and a generous consumption bar will make for happy, comfortable guests. They won't mind a smaller cake and dance-floor as long as their bellies are well taken care of. HINT: drinks make for a cheerful crowd that will happily dance anywhere. 


Obviously, there are other tough issues that come up with wedding planning that these three points don't cover. But these three suggestions do have the potential to minimize stress and drama during the planning process. By being ready to handle conflict, being focused on designing the wedding you want--regardless of what the magazines say,--and keeping your guests' happiness in mind, you'll be well on your way to planning a wedding that has something in it for everyone.