Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy

I have completely fallen in love with Aruna B's work over the past few months. The wedding details of Sarah & Joey's May 2009 wedding were perfectly captured and I cannot gush enough about the uniqueness of their amazing day. The wedding & reception, both held at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was completely gorgeous, as you can see from Aruna B's photos above. With so many handmade details, I couldn't pass this one up for the blog.

Photographer | Aruna B Photography
Venue | Cobblestone Farm
Catering | Food Art
Event Coordination | A Moment In Time Wedding & Event Production

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Budget Tip Five | Transportation Alternatives

Renting a stretch limo, giant SUV or a classic trolley can be a blast for the wedding party, but it can also be expensive. Kate talked about borrowing a vintage car, or fun convertible from family or friends for the day-of your wedding last Saturday on WZZM. A vintage car sure makes for fun photos! Kate also mentioned her own wedding where she borrowed all of her friends black SUVs and had a motorcade for wedding party. Talk about arriving in style in a budget-friendly manner.

[photo copyright Amy Carroll Photography]

Budget Tip Four | Wedding Day Attire

Kate and I briefly talked about wedding day attire on WZZM last Saturday morning. There are many ways for everyone in your wedding party to save a few bucks on their wedding day attire. Brides can shop at Once Wed, Preowned Wedding Dresses and your local Craig's List for gently used, or even brand new gowns. I currently have a bride selling her never-been-worn, never altered amazing gown because she fell in love with something else.

And as for the wedding party? Having them wear a truly rewearable gown from J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, etc. is going to make them happy. They might be spending a little more up front, but their return on their investment is sure to make them smile.

The same goes with the groom & groomsmen. Having them purchase new black suits to wear on your wedding day will also increase their useable wardrobe for work and social functions.

Budget Tip Three | Cake Alternatives

There are many alternatives to wedding cake. Becca from lil' Miss Cupcake supplied Kate and I with these itty bitty yellow cupcakes to show off on WZZM last weekend. They were not only adorable, they were absolutely delicious too.

If you're not a cake person, there is no reason to have the big, expensive wedding cake. And another benefit to serving cupcakes? No cake cutting fee will be added to your food bill. I have had clients at the swankiest venues in Grand Rapids serve these tiny cakes in order to save money for this very reason. There are more cake alternatives here.

And, if your heart IS set on having the traditional cake, there are ways to make it more affordable. Pick non-exotic flavors, choose a simple design, use buttercream frosting instead of fondant and go topper-less, letting the simple design shine for itself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Budget Tip Two | Watch the Guest List

The second point we talked about on WZZM last Saturday was limiting your guest count. It's crazy how quickly a table of ten will add up. Kate and I broke down the cost per table for an average client and found a table of ten guests can cost upwards of $600+ per table....

  • Food for ten - $318; based on a $25 per person dinner with 20% gratuity and 6% Michigan sales tax, which is automatically added on to the final bill.
  • Drinks for ten - $115; based on $9 per person with 20% gratuity and 6% Michigan sales tax, which is automatically added on to the final bill.
  • Paper products for ten - $75; based on invitations, thank you notes and save the dates for five couples plus postage, escort cards, menus, and ceremony programs
  • Linens - $40; based on renting a basic $30 table linen and $1 napkins
  • Centerpiece - $50; the average cost per centerpiece for their table - fresh flowers and candles
  • Favors for ten - $25; if you can keep each favor under $2 with tax
  • TOTAL = $623 for ten guests

Budget Tip One | Use Fresh Flowers

There is nothing I love more than a bride's bouquet - lovely in every way, smelling of wedding day bliss, and the perfect accessory to that killer gown. Flower budgets can get out of control quickly, especially with all the ideas out there in magazines, books and blogs. Brides-to-be fall in love with Platinum Wedding centerpieces that blow the budget out of the water.

So, what's a girl to do with her modest flower budget? Get to work. Do some research. And fall in love with flowers you can afford.

Kate, Amy and I spent a couple of hours putting together four different flower options. We are not florists by any means, but we can be resourceful and creative. We used in-season flowers easily available to us to get the most for our money. You can see more photos on WZZM here.

The first arrangement is made of wheat grass and yellow button mums in a yellow pot. Total cost? Under $12 with tax. A few of these would be lovely lined up along banquet tables with crisp white linens and white garden chairs. Lots of votive candles on either side would make a lovely and inexpensive way to dress up your reception tables. If you grow your own grass, you'd save even more.

The second arrangement is made of a variety of mums and daisies - all in shades of yellow and white. Total cost? $17 with tax. This arrangement is large enough to make a statement on a standard dinner table of eight to ten guests. Add some tealights and beautiful DIY paper products such as menus and place cards, and you've got a designer table top for a fraction of the cost.

In the video, you also see a yellow rose arrangement that totaled $13 and a purple hydrangea that was $12. These are smaller options and would be perfect in groups, or on auxiliary tables such as the bar, cake table, or on the cocktail rounds.

There are so many fresh floral options, and the key to sticking to your budget are keeping it simple, picking in-season blooms, and working with a florist who you trust and will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

**I must pop in my own disclaimer here that I do NOT recommend putting together bouquets or boutonnieres for the wedding party unless you know what you're doing. Personal flowers should be left to the professionals, in my opinion.**

Pearls Events Press | Kate & Aletha on WZZM 13

Pearls Events was invited by Jennifer Pascua to speak about surviving the economy as you plan your wedding on our local ABC channel, WZZM TV13 last weekend.

Since Kate and I didn't have an hour to talk about each tip, we look forward to expanding each item we briefly talked about in the newscast over the next two days. Stay tuned for five of Pearls Events' top tips for saving a bit of cash while you plan your wedding. There will be two tips later today, and the other three tomorrow throughout the day.

We wanted to preface the miniseries by acknowledging each couple is going to have something that is more important to them - maybe cutting out amazing centerpieces is not an option, but skimping on the fancy transportation could work. We realize there is no "magic number" to budgets, and to each their own. These tips are for brides on any budgets - not just DIY brides.
My favorite tip? Ditch the expensive limo and find a fleet of vintage cars to tote your wedding party around in.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Real Wedding 2009 | Teri & Jeff

Couple Teri & Jeff, May 23, 2009
Pearls Events service Event Set Up & Event Management
Ceremony & Reception Camp Blodgett
Catering West Michigan Caterer
Bar Service Martha's Vineyards
Photographer Jenn Marie Photography
Florist Eastern Floral
Pastry Chef Sweet Cakes Design
Deejay Moments in Time
Bridal Gown Becker's Bridal
Bridesmaids Gowns J. Crew
Invitations Syd Design
Bridesmaid Jewelry MEG
Linen Rental Baker Party Rental
Chair Rental The Rental Company
Favors Potted herbs

We've been looking forward to this wedding for quite some time. Teri and I sat down in early 2008 to discuss her wedding plans and I knew from hearing her talk about the details, that Teri & Jeff's wedding was going to be one-of-a-kind. I was not disappointed and neither were the guests!

Alison and I were at Camp Blodgett last Fall for Amy & Chad's wedding, and I fall in love with the location each time I pull into the driveway. It's located right on Lake Michigan, is absolutely beautiful, and has stunning views from the deck. If you're looking for a beach side location in West Michigan, I recommend Camp Blodgett for its uniqueness, lake side location and natural beauty. No ballroom weddings here!

Amy & I arrived at Camp Blodgett Saturday morning and began set up. Everything looked fabulous within hours - from the crisp white linens, to the potted herbs in their chocolate brown pots - it was naturally beautiful with lots of personal touches. When guests began arriving for the wedding ceremony on the deck overlooking Lake Michigan, Amy and I began lighting the 100+ candles in the dining room. Diane from West Michigan Caterer was ready to go with appetizers and refreshments as guests made their way through the receiving line and into the reception. After dinner, Teri & Jeff cut their gorgeous cake and began dancing. The weather was perfect, the couple was smitten with one another, and the day flowed just how I like it to.

Teri & Jeff hired a great group of vendors for their wedding day. Joe and Tyler from Moments in Time were a blast to work with and did a great job of keeping the party flowing smoothly. Jenn from Jenn Marie Photography was on hand all day to capture all the details and I look forward to showing off their wedding photos next week.

Congrats to Teri & Jeff!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy

Jackie Blair, a photographer based out of Detroit, Michigan, sent in this wedding of Ashley and Luke, who were recently married in November of 2008. The ceremony was at First United Methodist in Mt. Clemens, Michigan with a reception at Sterling Inn. All flowers by Utica Florals.

I absolutely love the bride's bouquet, and also the non-floral centerpieces with the candles. Thanks, Jackie, for sending this over.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In & Around My Blogging Community

Each week I like to fill you in on what's going on with the blogs, vendors and people I follow. This week, Lynell Shooks of Lizzie Photo submitted this entry. I'm happy to post because Slumdog Millionaire completely shocked the heck out of me - my mouth was open in awe the entire time. If the movie moved you in any way, this could be a way to get involved on a personal level.

Worldwide Christian Schools is working to raise awareness through Facebook about Slumschools in India. They are hoping to raise funds to build, renovate, and/or operate three specific Indian schools. They have really cool tee shirts to giveaway to donors who either donate $100 or recruit ten people to give $10 each through their Facebook cause. Check out the official Slumschools website here too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Overall Look at Planning a Wedding

Leslie's colleague was recently engaged and is overwhelmed on where to begin. This post is dedicated to Carolyn...

The wedding day is ultimately about the commitment you make to one another, and in the end, it is all about your marriage. However, I'm in the business of making things fabulous, and get excited when potential clients walk into my office and say "How do we get from inspiration to implementation?"

A wedding planner helps you get from start to finish and although I realize not everyone wants and/or needs to hire a planner, I feel as though most brides could benefit from a little consulting. With many options available in the wedding industry, how do you decide where to have your wedding, what you want it to look like and who you want to hire to work for you? I broke our planning package down into three main sections to overview the planning process. Please do not consider it an exact how-to, but a starting point.

Location -
Couples usually come to me with a geographical location in mind already - where they grew up, where they vacation, where they live now, an exotic location they love, etc. Once we have that, we make a list of all possibly venues within their budget. We make appointments to visit both ceremony & reception venues and figure out which ones will work with their style, budget and dates available. Booking these venues will determine a wedding date, the season and also location - which will all come in handy as you begin designing your wedding.

Design -

Once the venues have been booked, we work on design. I like to start with an inspiration piece. Maybe it's a china pattern, or the color orange. Maybe it's your super swanky venue or possibly a vintage crystal chandelier you spotted. Whatever it is - it makes you stop in your tracks.

We take the inspiration and come up with a color palatte and design ideas. We use these elements on everything from save-the-dates and escort cards to flowers and the cake. Once you have decided on your overall look & feel, stick with it so everything is cohesive.

Vendors -
If your style is modern, you're probably not going to want a traditional photographer. If you want to serve a family style meal to your guests, you're not going to book a caterer who only offers buffet options. We work on finding the right vendors in your budget. Vendor recommendations are quite important and that is why I'm always networking - it makes me confident when giving clients as many quality options as possible.

And when you get overwhelmed - call us! - we're full of ideas & vendor recommendations to get you started on the right track!

[photos copyright K. Holly Studios, photos of Michelle & Brett's May 2nd wedding]

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Smallest Detail | Table Number Holders

When it comes down to the tiny details, I'd like to promise that it's easy to think of everything when you plan your wedding. However, in reality, I know that is not true. Often times for our wedding day management clients, we show up to details we have not been a huge part of.

Set-up goes well until we realize something just isn't working how it was meant to. An often culprit? Those pesky table number holders that aren't weighted properly to support a larger number.

This very thing happened at my own wedding (photo left). I did not account for the tablecloth, which made the surface slightly unsteady. As you can see from above, my place card was fine, but the table numbers I spent hours printing and cutting perfectly didn't stand up well - and coincidentally, there was no photos of. One even caught on fire during the reception - I kid you not! Poor number seven...

Since most venues have their own table number holders, they are a good backup option if yours will not work. They are most likely standard ones like these and probably not ideal for your overall design concept, but do the job. I keep 30 of these little guys (photo right) in my emergency kit, just in case we need to break 'em out.

What do I suggest you do to prevent this mishap? During your final venue walk through, bring your actual table number (at least the right size & weight of paper), holder and get a linen on the table and see if it stands when bump the table. Why? Guests will bump the table all night long while scooting their chairs in.

Ooh, and don't use the ones I did - the totally adorable crystal ones from Hobby Lobby, four for $10. They don't work unless you have solid surface tables with no linens.

[Aletha's wedding photo, silver table number holder]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Choosing Your Bridesmaids

After you've announced your engagement to family & friends, and then to the masses on Facebook, the biggest question from your girlfriends might be "Who is in the wedding party?" They may not ask you directly, but believe me, they will be wondering if they get to stand by your side on the day of your wedding.

I hear from clients that picking their bridesmaids can be harder than deciding on their wedding gown. Brides-to-be don't want to hurt feelings and or step on toes. Often times, women have a collection of friends from different times in their lives - childhood, high school, college, post-college jobs, church, and then of course the family - sisters, cousins and future sister-in-laws.

My advice? Pick the women (or men!) that have stood by you throughout your relationship and that will continue to support your marriage. This could be your BFF, sorority sister, fiance's sister, colleague, and most likely, a combination of these special people. As far as a magic number? No clear answer, as each bride & groom will have different people they will want to play this role. There is a guideline I found here, but wedding "rules" are made to be broken!

And for the women who didn't fit into the wedding party? I touched on this last June, but please let them know as soon as possible. Kathleen Fifield for Martha Stewart Weddings writes, "After you've made your wedding party picks, be sure to schedule a few calls to close friends who didn't make the cut to let them know how much you look forward to sharing your big day. While these can be hard conversations to have, being prompt and gentle but up front will help signal your concern for their feelings. And you might be pleasantly surprised by some reactions..."

[photo copyright Lisa Kae Photography]

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy

One of my favorite readers, fellow event planner Christina of cHill Weddings, managed the day-of-logistics for Rachel and Andrew's wedding day. Here are the details...

Wedding Coordinator | cHill Weddings, LLC
Venue, Catering, Cake | Cescaphe Ballroom
Flowers & Chuppah | Il Fiore Bianco
Trolleys & Charter Bus | Tropiano and Sterling Limo
Ketubah | Danny Azoulay
Bride's Gown | Ramona Keveza
Stationery | Lucious Verde

And the recap from Christina...
Rachel and Andrew's wedding was absolutely stunning, to say the least. I loved working their wedding because it was the most fun I've had working! The band, Sally Mitlas Orchestra, was amazing and kept the dance floor packed all night. The couple incorporated many of their Jewish traditions into the ceremony and reception, including the hora, crowning of the bride's parents, and entertaining the bride and groom. Cescaphe Ballroom always does it right loading up with delicious foods and impeccable service throughout the evening. The night ended at the Sofitel with an after party with a full candy buffet.

Working with wonderful vendors and such a delightful couple really makes me feel like I have the best job in the world!

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