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Katie and Shariff ~ Allied Art Guild Wedding

Last week I had the privilege of coordinating an absolutely STUNNING wedding at Menlo Park's Allied Arts Guild. A hidden gem in the middle of a lovely neighborhood, Allied Arts is an enormous garden with small artist shops in nooks and crannies throughout. What a beautiful day!

The gift table. Engagement photo by www.typentecostphotography.com.

The gift table. Engagement photo by www.typentecostphotography.com.

Sparkler Sendoff!

Sparkler Sendoff!

The Ceremony Aisle (Merner Green).

The Ceremony Aisle (Merner Green).

Look at the detail in this archway! Floral by www.bellevuefloralco.com.

Look at the detail in this archway! Floral by www.bellevuefloralco.com.

Cocktail Hour.

Cocktail Hour.

Reception tables (Sunset Patio).

Reception tables (Sunset Patio).

Getting Ready. Videographer: www.cmslowmotion.com.

Getting Ready. Videographer: www.cmslowmotion.com.

The wedding cake.

The wedding cake.

Guests eating dinner on the patio.

Guests eating dinner on the patio.

Signage by www.bellevuefloralco.com

Signage by www.bellevuefloralco.com

The Dance Floor (Sunset Room).

The Dance Floor (Sunset Room).

Reception Centerpieces (www.bellevuefloralco.com).

Reception Centerpieces (www.bellevuefloralco.com).

Looking forward to the next few weddings on my calendar this summer! Stay tuned for more.

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Spring Wedding Gallery

Last week was a dream! It was the first wedding I coordinated to kick off the season and it was so wonderful. My clients and I have been planning their wedding for nearly a year now, and to see it finally come together was beautiful.

Here are some of the photos captured by Tyler Rodrigues, the fabulous florist.

The Sweetheart Table

A Groomsman's Boutonnierre 

The Bride's Bouquet

The Bridal Party's Bouquets

The Banquet Table Setup

The Beautiful Ceremony Arbor

The Reception Banquet Room

My next wedding is in just a couple of weeks, and I am so excited to share more photos as soon as they are captured.

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Wedding Food Series: Cake and Dessert Options, Part 1

What comes to mind when choosing the ideal cake for your wedding may be things like the style, the size, and the flavor; but there are some other crucial parts that may slip your mind when you think about your cake.  For example, how the cake reflects the theme of your wedding, or how appropriate the size of your cake may be when considering your guest count. Let's begin to cover some of these aspects to ensure that you'll choose the perfect cake for your wedding.

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PC Style Me Pretty

Portion Costs

Portion cost: How much one portion of cake will be per person. One slice may be anywhere between $4-10, which, multiplied by your entire guest count, can add up quickly!  

Cake size is another big factor to consider, because over- or underestimating how big of a cake you need can really mess up your budget--or cause guests to go without cake!

Cake Type

There are several types of cake to choose from:

- Tiered Cakes (which are stacked cake layers resting on wooden or plastic dowels sticking into the cake for support.)

- Small cakes (often a personal cake for the bride and groom to cut from and then take home, while the guests are served something else.)

- Cupcakes (individual cakes for each guest, often served in very creative flavors.) 

-Styrofoam Cakes (Styrofoam shapes covered in frosting on display which are taken away after the initial cake cutting and replaced by cake slices from Sheet Cake cut up in the kitchen, which are then distributed to guests.)

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PC Cake Central

Bakery Location vs. Reception Location

 The location of where you get your cake can play a big role in how much you are going to spend on it, along with how easily the cake will transport to the venue. If your venue is in San Francisco, remember that bakeries in high-end cities can charge high-end prices. Ordering from a bakery nearby but not in San Francisco may improve costs. 

A few other things that need to be considered when choosing your cake:

Transportation of The Cake

It is a good idea to keep in mind that a long or difficult transportation of your cake to the venue and be costly as well. For example, if your reception is in the mountains and there are no local bakeries nearby, you may have to pay some hefty transportation costs to get your cake to the wedding from whatever bakery you order from.

Hot Weather

Always make sure that your cake matches the environment it will be in, taking into consideration the sensitivity of the ingredients in the cake. It wouldn't be wise to have an ice cream cake if your wedding is outside in 90 degree weather.  And don't forget about frosting! Butter cream can be very sensitive and melty in the heat, just as a pad of butter tends to melt at room temperatures in your kitchen in the summer. You DON'T want a sad, droopy wedding cake! In situations where the cake is outside for a lengthy period of time in heat, consider choosing fondant as your frosting, which tends to hold up better.

Flavors

There are lots of different flavor options to choose from when it comes to cakes (bakers are so innovative these days!), especially when you're forced to choose a cake flavor, the filling, and a frosting as well! Remember that you can choose multiple flavors if you have multiple cake layers, or if you're offering cupcakes! Choosing flavor combinations makes attending a cake tasting before signing any contracts especially important.

Cake Tasting

PC Kalmar Kakes

PC Kalmar Kakes

The average cost for a tasting can be around $25-50, which is because the baker must be compensated for the time it takes to prepare the cakes you're tasting, and for the supplies it costs him. In the event that you taste the cake and end up choosing a different baker, this baker has not lost time or money that he was not compensated for. 

Please don't forgo the tasting and sign a contract before knowing what you're going to end up with on your wedding day! Cakes are costly! Choose wisely.

Meal Pairing

Lost when it comes to deciding what flavors to choose? Look no further than your dinner menu! Just as restaurants that serve multiple course meals pair specific entrees with desserts, you can do the same to ensure that your meal flavors compliment each other well. If you are serving such a robust flavor as steak, pairing it with a rich red velvet or chocolate cake makes sense. Similarly, if you're serving fish, or something on the lighter side, going with the wonders of airy and delicate angel food cake, or a cake with a fruity base, may be just the thing.

Allergies

Try and take into account the people at your wedding who may deal with allergies. It's always polite to let people know if there are any major ingredients that are known for being allergens in their cake (try choco-peanut butter bliss cake). Avoiding common-allergy flavors, offering multiple flavors or gluten- and dairy-free options, or simply placing a small placard next to the cake to communicate the allergen to those interested is always appreciated.

Getting the Opinion of the Baker

Always be willing to have an open mind when you're discussing the cake with the baker; he knows what flavors go well together, and may suggest combinations you wouldn't have thought about! 

Take Into Account How Perishable Your Cake May Be

Understanding the technical side of cake-decorating when ordering a more delicate cake will ensure that it will not perish before it's served to guests. For instance, if your cake is filled with fresh fruit, and the outside of the cake requires your baker a full day of decorating, by the time it is served to guests, it may be unsuitable to eat. If you want a very delicate design on the outside of the cake, you will need a sturdy cake with filling that does not require refrigeration. If it's very important to you that you have a fruit-based filling, you will simply need to sacrifice having an intricate outer design.

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Diary of a Wedding Planner, Part 2

PC Engstrom Photography

PC Engstrom Photography

I'm so excited to kick off 2017 with a new, great, big business step forward! I'm going to launch a wedding product line! I can't give away the details just yeeeeet, but I've been conducting research, bouncing ideas off of my friends and family, and starting to gather items to be used for said products. Now that wedding season is officially over, and engagement season has begun, I have the time to re-brand myself a little bit in anticipation of this product line. Sheesh! Who knew that there was so much that went into making and selling stuff?

In other news, now that my December wedding is officially over (pictures coming as soon as the photographer releases them!) I am free to focus on the six other weddings I am in the midst of planning and coordinating. It's a lot of computer research, paperwork, and emails, which I really enjoy. I love the freedom of not having to pass my communication with clients and vendors by anyone else--such as a boss. It's just me! How crazy awesome it is to be able to call the shots. It saves so much time and keeps things organized, as information goes through less hands this way. 

I am also excited that as I work with more vendors, I am beginning to pull together a cohesive Preferred Vendors List, especially because it means there's a possibility of working with my favorite vendors more than once. I really love strengthening my relationships with great vendors, because it makes working with them during weddings organized, predictable, and enjoyable.

As a wedding planner, I sometimes feel as though other vendors worry I'm just there to tell them how to do their jobs. On the contrary, I don't want to have to do that--I have my own job to get done. Instead, I want to work with vendors who know how to do their jobs better than I even understand. Rather than worry they'll do it wrong, it's my dream (I'm serious, my DREAM!) to work with a group of vendors who can seamlessly work together to pull off a beautiful wedding. 

December is almost over! Uh, when did that happen? As this year inches near it's closing, I feel proud of what this business has accomplished in the seven months it's been around, and look forward to what 2017 will bring. Here's to growth in personal knowledge and experience, and to the happiness and success of all my clients' marriages. 

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A Beautiful May Wedding

Earlier this year I had the privilege of arranging the flowers for a friend's wedding with my mom, who has an eye for color and is very artistic. I'm so excited to throw it back this Friday to some pictures that the photographer recently shared with me! 

My mom and I arranged and created the five hair pieces worn by the bridesmaids and maid of honor uniquely--that is to say, we kept the same color scheme by using similar flowers for each hair piece, but didn't bother to replicate anything. Each one is a little different, which made them more fun for my mom and I to put together, and for the wedding party to choose which hair piece they wanted to wear. 

The wedding was at the groom's parents' house in the country, which made a for a beautiful outdoor wedding, and which made wild flowers a natural choice for the bouquets.

The couple, Spencer and Michaela, met in high school, and were best friends before they began dating. I love when couples get the opportunity to grow up together. It makes their love story that much sweeter to me because they know deeply not only who the other person is, but who they have been throughout their lives.

Besides the hair pieces, booutonnieres, corsages and bouquets, we also put together the ceremony and reception decor, which the bride wanted to keep simple with mason jars, twine, and individual flowers. It made for a very easy, but fun job!

It was a beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple, and I am proud to have been involved in it. Show out to Engstrom Photos for sharing the album with me!

 

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The Wedding Gown: A Finale

Today is the rehearsal for a wedding happening tomorrow, which is super exciting, but also crazy busy for me. So today, instead of a regular blog post, I am instead going to show you the third and final YouTube video on altering a wedding gown that I used for a photo shoot earlier this year. If you haven't seen the previous videos, you can check them out here and here. Enjoy!

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Wedding Planning: What Not to Leave To the Last Minute

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PC Buhdoopspogspot.com

As a wedding planning, hearing a client say, "I'm leaving X to the last minute" is my literal nightmare. The stakes are so high when you leave only time enough for something being done at the last minute to work the first time around. It puts pressure on everyone involved, and it means that I may be left to figure out how to fix "emergencies" that could've been calmly sorted through had they been done a month in advance. It's not a good idea. It's SO preventable. This is one of the best pieces of free advice anyone getting married can get. 

So, exactly what do you absolutely NOT leave to the last minute?

Uhm, everything??? Okay, okay, fine. I'll narrow it down to the following five things.

1) DIY Anything

This is the one I am going to make a blanket statement about. It's because projects look fun on Pinterest, but what you don't know is those fun Pinterest projects took HOURS. Day's, even. And you think the picture is of the first version of the thing they made? No, the first version of every project ever deemed Pinterest-Worthy was considered a learning curve and then thrown away. So will YOUR complicated paper-mache wedding card box that you're going to make the day before the rehearsal be any different? I am sorry my friend, but unless you're a paper-mache magician, you'll probably make the project, look at it, stress-cry, and then immediately Google wedding card boxes that have overnight shipping options. Do we want to go through that? No? Well I have good news. Do it two months before the wedding, and then perfect it again and again until it's your spirit animal and Pinterest-Worthy as ever. Without the stress-crying and expensive expedited shipping. 

In addition to preventing paper-mache disasters and unnecessary stress-crying, doing things ahead of time also means that it's okay if you run out of ribbon for your invites. You can always order more. It's okay if the hot glue used in your banquet table centerpieces isn't sticking anymore after your fiance accidentally watered one (how sweet of him!)... You have time to make another or re-glue the whole thing. Do you see a pattern here? Extra time will save your tush!

2) Vendor Bookings

You haven't booked your caterer and your wedding day is how many weeks away? Are you crazy? Sure, you've talked to them, and your wedding date was still available a month ago, but if someone else comes along also getting married on your wedding date and they're ready to sign that contract and make a payment, you're outta luck. And you now get to find someone else to cater gluten-free French Cuisine food to your 180 guests for $15 per person--including the wine. What if no one is available? What will you do? This wouldn't have happened if you'd just signed that contract four months ago.

Do you want this to be you? (Please, don't let it be you!) Get this stuff done in advance! You (and I!) will both look back together, laugh about how crazy it would have been if we had put it off, and then high-five. That sounds way more fun.

3) Delegating Wedding Party Tasks

Do you know who your ushers are going to be? Is your best man supposedly driving you and your new spouse to your hotel room after the reception? ...Did you tell him this? Who is going to take your wedding gifts to your house after the reception and you've gone off to your honeymoon? Who is helping clean up all of your DIY centerpieces and taking them from the reception to be stored in their garage so that the venue doesn't throw them away? Do your bridesmaids know that they're carpooling to the salon to get their hair done the day of the wedding at 8:15AM?

Because weddings involve people who aren't being paid to do a job, delegation and communication with the wedding party are sensitive issues to be handled with the utmost care. You love the people who you've chosen to involve in your wedding, and you absolutely want those relationships to continue afterwards! They require care and consideration. In some ways, the wedding party must volunteer to do the tasks listed above. Of course, some one needs to get them done, but it's a matter of who is appropriate for and able and willing to give of their time for each task. Don't put this off. Ask with enough time left that people are comfortable saying "no" if they need to. This way, the person who is best for the task can be utilized. 

4) Wedding Vows

These can take a long time to perfect, and you DO want your vows to be perfect. Spend the adequate time on them that they absolutely deserve. This is not something you'll have time for the morning of the ceremony, unlike what you might envision. The morning of the ceremony is full of feelings, full of people who have questions and concerns, and full of things that need to get done before the ceremony. Are you really going to have an hour to sit in some garden with a pen and notepad while you wait--with a clear, peaceful mind--for a wave of poetic inspiration to hit? Gurlll, you'll be Googling vows and speed-printing some blogger's words five minutes before your ceremony. And you know why those vows will be better than your scrambled ones? Because they were written MONTHS IN ADVANCE WHEN THAT LADY HAD TIME ON HER HANDS UNLIKE YOU. 

I'm only yelling because I want what's best for you, okay?

5) Wedding Attire

Can I not have to list this? Do NOT tell me your seamstress needs you to order fabric for the top of your dress when it's three weeks from your wedding date. Don't stress me out like that. More importantly, don't stress YOU out like that. Get those wedding shoes on your feet months in advance to lovingly break in. Order that garter! Order it in two sizes so you have time to return both and get one that fits perfectly! And get that dress figured out months in advance. Please. For our sanity. With every detail, pace yourself, leave time for error, and leave room for second thoughts.

 

....You might be thinking, "Wow, MaKenna, that's really harsh to expect all of these things to get done so far in advance." I understand that feeling. It's easy to think that 6 months until your wedding leaves you rich with time to spend leisurely considering twenty different things without actually committing to any. But 6 months will be 1 in so short a time that you just won't believe it. And then you'll realize that you have to make twenty big decisions in a week--and just watch, it'll be the week that your boss asks you to work overtime three days in a row for a big project, your car needs to go in for repairs, and the dog gets fleas. That's just life. You'll be sitting there at 2AM with your poor dog reading through contracts, wishing you'd just signed when you'd met with the caterer in person.

I don't write about this just because more on-top-of-it brides would make my job easier. The reality is that while I care about your wedding, nobody cares more than you. If your DIY origami name cards don't work out, I'll be able to objectively keep them off the banquet tables without much regret. If the fabric you ordered for the top of your dress comes in off-white, and you have to wear it, and a few people notice, you're going to care much more than I will. If you failed to sign the contract with the caterer you wanted in time, and have to settle for second best, I am not going to experience that sinking gut feeling, although I'll be sad on your behalf. In the end, these things impact you. The stress of the 11th hour may not be my favorite ever, but it's my job. It's YOUR wedding.

So take this with a grain of salt. This will ultimately help you. It will greatly improve the chances of your wedding's success! I know you can do it!

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11 Questions You Might Forget To Ask Your Venue (Before Booking)

This list doesn't need much description. Sometimes the venue search is too exciting to remember all of those important questions. Not to worry! The questions below are commonly forgotten, so if you go over these, and remember the basics, you should be golden.

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PC Belle The Magazine

1) Do you have any discounts if I book on a day other than Saturday?

2) How many people can this location accommodate?

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PC The Knot

3) Do you require that I use your caterer?

4) Are there alcohol restrictions, or corkage fees?

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PC Pinterest

5) What's the weather contingency plan (for outdoor venues)?

6) Are their music volume restrictions my DJ will need to be aware of?

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PC WeddingWire

7) Is there ample parking?

8) Are there any hidden fees like service fees, gratuities, cleaning fees, or overtime fees?

PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

9) Are there any decor limits? (Such as lit candles?)

10) Are there any photo restrictions?

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PC Brides

11) Who will be available during the event to direct us? 

Wanna know more about why these questions are important to ask? Check out the video below for my personal explanations.

Did you find these questions helpful? Have one to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 Eerily Beautiful Ideas for Your Halloween Wedding

Are you as in love with the idea of having a Halloween wedding as much as I am? You've stopped by the right place. There are thousands upon thousands of ideas out there on how to decorate for a perfectly spooky affair, I know, but I wanted to compile a few of my favorites here. Care to take a peek?

1) Bobbing For Apples

Pc Pinterest

Pc Pinterest

Bobbing for apples has always been a game associated with fall and Halloween. Why not incorporate it into your wedding to dress up a bare corner? The blacker the water, the better. Cut out the tops of the apples and stick some battery-operated candles in there to make them glow!

2) Trick or Treat Bar 

PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

A sweet bar with a little Halloween spin, this table decked with candy is sure to be a (trick or) treat!

3) Forest Tree Centerpieces

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PC Pinterest

Nothing like the idea of a dark, dangerous woods to freak your guests out just enough to keep them intrigued. This is a great option for weddings wanting only the suggestion of a darker Halloween theme.

4) Bat Chandelier

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PC Pinterest

The phrase "Til Death Do Us Part" is a huge trend for Halloween weddings! (Maybe don't overdo it?) This picture, however, is tasteful with its simple nod to its origin--and come on, check out those painted wine bottles. Yes please? Yes PLEASE!

5) Red as a Theme Color

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PC Pinterest

Want to get a little gory with your wedding decor? Red will go a LONG way. Just look at this picture. What do you see? Blood stained napkins. That's what you see.

6) Skeleton Hand Napkin-Rings

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PC Pinterest

Need a hand with your napkins? Here is your literal answer.

7) Coffin Ring Box

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PC Etsy, Tellable Design

Nothing says "Til Death Do Us Part" like a ring carried around in a coffin. 

8) Dark Bouquets

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PC Pinterest

Remember that bit about the blood? It applies here.

9) Skull Wedding Cake

PC Weddingomania

PC Weddingomania

If I'm honest, this cake is much more cute than it is frightening. It definitely suggests class, but with a whimsical edge. Your guests are sure to adore it in all of it's spook-tacular glory.

10) Black, White and Red Wedding Cake

PC Cake Geek Magazine

PC Cake Geek Magazine

With Halloween weddings, it's important not to overdo it. Not everything has to be terrifying! A beautiful wedding cake with some darker colors is a good way to keep things balanced while cohesive.

11) A Non-White Wedding Dress

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PC Pinterest

Just a word--a Halloween wedding DOESN'T mean your dress must also be Halloween themed. At the end of the day, it's still a wedding, and you don't want to forfeit that wedding gown experience if you feel the alternative is too costume-y. You do you, boo. (See what I did there?)

...That being said--THIS. DRESS. 

12) Colored Smoke Bombs

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PC Pinterest

From your engagement pictures to your reception photo booth, incorporating your wedding colors (especially if they're Halloween-related) into some smoke bomb fun is a great way to add some eerie mystery to the occasion.

13) Pumpkin Drink Bowl

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PC Pinterest

These are great for the drink table or even as table centerpieces. Get creative! Pumpkins are cheap and simple decorations that can go a really long way.

14) Spiderweb Invitations

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PC Pinterest

Don't keep the Halloween fun limited to just October. Send out those bone-shivering invites any time of the year! Your guests will love it.

15) Skull and Poison Themed Centerpieces

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PC Pinterest

Get fun and edgy with those centerpieces. Your guests will be staring at them all throughout the meal, so keep the festive mood going!

16) Halloween-Themed Tableware

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PC Pinterest

Yeah, yeah, I know what I said about how trendy and unoriginal the phrase is, but come on. It's gonna get incorporated in there somehow! If your guests are being served a sit down meal, they won't notice this detail until their plates are empty!

Have a Halloween Wedding idea to share? I'd love to hear it in the comments below!

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