You want a good event designer? You better work, bitch.

(You can read that in either Britney or Jesse Pinkman tone.)

After tons of research on various floral/event designers, I decided on my “Top 3” and made appointments with each company.

My first meeting was with Petit Fleur in Ferndale.  Her preferred method of communication is email, which is also my preferred method of communication, so I figured we’d get along famously.  She sent me a sheet to fill out, which I thought was to give her an idea of what I wanted before I went in so we could go over my vision together.  Instead, when I got there, she rattled off information in the worst attitude I have ever seen in the wedding industry.  She had already made my proposal before ever speaking with me.  In the hour that Joey and I were there, she did not ask us ONE question about what we wanted our wedding to look like.  I made mention of a photo on the wall of her work that I liked and she said “I had a feeling you were going to say that, and those are over $400 each.”  Ummm okay?  Did I even get to tell you the point where maybe I just wanted them for the head table?  Do I give you the impression that I’m unable to afford them?  If I want something enough, I’m going to get it, but she couldn’t be bothered to talk to me about how we could disperse my budget to create something I loved.  She doesn’t even know what I love because she didn’t ask!!  She also didn’t ask me anything about what I DON’T like.  How do I hire you to design my wedding when I have no idea if our design tastes are polar opposite?  I couldn’t tell from her shitty blurry pictures on her ipad what her work even looks like.  Toward the end of our “meeting” if you can even call it that, she started talking badly about other companies.  It was a seriously embarrassing moment because she looked so jealous and incompetent.  One of the companies she made mention of was Emerald City Designs, which was the location of our next meeting.  She told me they charge a $5,000 minimum (not true, the minimum is $3,000) and also said you never meet with an actual floral designer, which is also not true, as outlined in the timeline that Emerald City gave me.  Sorry chick, but it looks like we just don’t mesh well together.

I was seriously stressed after meeting with Petit Fleur.  Joey said that he got the impression that she didn’t want to even do our wedding.  I thought we had a healthy budget but apparently not.  I thought that meeting with an event designer would be the beginning of the actual fun of planning a wedding, and in reality it made me depressed and angry.

Our next meeting was with Emerald City Designs in Farmington Hills, and boy what a difference in demeanor.  We met with the head of sales and she had LOTS of questions about what I envisioned and had tons of books for me to look through for floral design and rentals.  She had a great attitude and seemed to really enjoy her job and when I got her proposal, she had put things in it that really encapsulated exactly what I was looking for.  When I got to the last page, the page with the final numbers, my heart sunk.  I knew that this was a larger company and figured that she would go over my budget, but I was not expecting $3500 over.  That’s when I REALLY started to get depressed.  I figured I would have to find some low budget, unreliable floral company and the way I want my wedding to look just wasn’t going to happen.  The pity party I was throwing myself kicked in to full gear.

And then there was Bill.  Joey and I met with Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton Designs at a Starbucks where we chatted like buddies.  I can tell how relaxed I am with someone when I think about how much I give of a stoic professional and how much I give of “myself” during a meeting.  With Bill I was myself the whole time.  It felt very easy, the way it felt when we booked our photographer Jeffery Lewis Bennett.  His personality is outgoing and super sweet, and he really listened to everything that we told him.  Looking through his photos, I saw that he has an amazing range in talent and can really take your dream wedding and bring it to life.  He told us that he works within the budget we give him, and if he feels like we would greatly benefit from something that we haven’t budgeted for, he would talk to us about it and we would make a final decision.

It’s so important to have vendors that you completely trust to listen to your needs so that they can ultimately do an amazing job for you.  Now that we have booked Bill, I feel no stress or worry about our event looking as glamorous as we envisioned, and you can’t put a price on that.

Advertisements

The Skinny on Bridal Shows

My bridesmaid Kara told me that I should go to one bridal show just to get the experience, and that it should be the big one because they are all the same type of deal.  In Detroit, our largest bridal show is the Novi Bridal Expo.  I asked my mom and off we went.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but as it turns out, it’s the same as most other expos…tons of vendor booths.  If you are far along in the process of planning your wedding there isn’t much to see unless you want to go for fun with your girlfriends for the cake samples.

When you first walk in, they have you fill out a card with your name, address, email and phone number.  DO NOT WRITE  YOUR REAL PHONE NUMBER.  I never imagined the sheer volume of calls I would be receiving just from filling out that little yellow sheet of paper.  The individual booths ask for your info when you visit them, so I only filled out my information at the vendor booths I was interested in.  I was under the impression that these booths were the only people who would be calling me because I had specifically expressed interest in their services.  What they don’t tell you is that the expo is sponsored by a number of vendors, and when you fill out your “registration form” in the front, the sponsors then get access to all of your information and will call you…and call you…and call you.  It’s been months since the show and I just got a call from a tuxedo place this morning.  Most of the places who call you are actually located at a call center out of state, so even if you do answer the call, you still have to make contact with whatever place they are calling on behalf of.  (I’m looking at you, David’s Bridal.)  This has basically been my nightmare because I hate talking on the phone.  It’s very irritating to have to be asked to be taken off of a call list that you never thought you were on in the first place.

The part that I was most looking forward to at the expo was the fashion show.  I LOVE fashion and we got a spot in the front row so I was pretty excited.  Bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses were featured from David’s Bridal.  What a disaster.  None of the models had been fitted properly.  The dresses were all either skin tight, showing bulges on even the skinniest girls, or so loose that you could barely even tell what the shape of the dress was supposed to be.  One of the DJ vendors was the emcee for the show, which could have been a really great platform for him to gain business.  Another disaster.  Not only did he make the entire show about himself, but the sound system would cut in and out and constantly get feedback from the speakers, which he didn’t even bother to try and fix.  If anything, the bridal show was a who’s who of people not to use for your wedding.

There were two fashion shows, and we obviously didn’t stick around for the second one.  I got something in the mail stating that during the second show I won some type of skin rejuvenation service from a cosmetic surgery center which I, once again, had not given my information to.  They do tons of giveaways but you might end up with something that you can’t use.

Overall I’m glad I went…it was a fun day with my mom and there were some yummy food and cake samples to choose from.   I do feel the same way that Kara does about it;  you should go to one for the experience, but once you’ve seen one, there’s no need to go to another, and if you value your sanity, you’ll fake number that bitch.

Communication is Key…and Not Just With Your Fiance

My mom and I had a huge blowout of a fight a couple of months after I got engaged.  The reason it got to be such a screamfest (okay I was the only one screaming) was because prior to that day, instead of nipping things in the bud that were bothering me, I didn’t say anything.  I was attempting to keep the peace by not saying anything at all when she made comments I didn’t agree with, and by the end of a string of these comments, I completely lost my shit and let everything come out at once.  I am a very outspoken person so not speaking my mind from the get was basically like poison to my brain.  As soon as I let all of the toxic out, I felt relief, but I also felt sadness and guilt because of the scale of my reaction.  Had I calmly stated my issues or put my foot down a little harder in prior conversations, I doubt it would have gotten to the point that it did.

One of my bridesmaids recently lost her job, and as I was thinking about where to shop for bridesmaid gowns, I started to realize that it was a possibility that she may drop out of the wedding due to the expense.  I wouldn’t be replacing her, so I started thinking about how I would reorganize, where I would change my shower venue options to since the cost would be split between less people, etc.  I wanted her to be in the wedding, but only if she really wanted to be in it.  We are shopping for bridesmaid dresses in two weeks while my MOH Rachelle is in town, so I knew that I would have to get this figured out before we went shopping.  We went out to lunch today and as it turns out, she is still going to be in the wedding, and I had been worried for the past week for nothing.  My concerns were not irrational, but had I waited and not spoken to her about it, resentment may have built on both sides, and I would have gone on for months until the dresses were ordered, worrying that maybe she would drop out.  Now that’s one less thing that I have to stress about.

I encourage you to think about what is bothering you and why, and tactfully discuss it with the person that it applies to, because stress causes outbursts, and it also causes wrinkles… and nobody needs wrinkles.

Attention Guests! Be Courteous With Your Cameras (Video)

A lot of photographers are becoming increasingly concerned with people using their own cameras and phones to get their shots. Flashes going off at the wrong time and especially people who get up in your grill for pictures, ruin the professional ones (you know, the ones you pay a ton of money for…) Many photographers are suggesting that you have an “Unplugged Wedding,” meaning no technology besides what the professional photographer and videographer bring in. Personally I like the candid, funny shots that are sure to come from my goofball friends. In order to get the best photography possible, I am allowing cameras but I am speaking to, ahem, likely offenders* about getting in the way.

*mothers

Get Organized.

Really.  Do it.  If you are organized your wedding will be much easier to plan (and much less stressful) than someone who is all over the place.   I have a few ways I stay organized.

First, I have a binder, tabs and a three hole punch.  I went to Target and bought the most beautiful binder they had.  It makes it more fun if the binder is *jazzy.*  Because my wedding is still about a year out, the only sections I have so far are:

1) Potential shower venues and their menus

-and-

2) Signed Contracts

We already have our venue and photographer booked, and keeping your documents all in one place is very helpful if you need to refer to it.   Do I sound like Monica Geller yet?  It’s because we are the same person.

Second, I have a word document for every company category that we haven’t booked yet.  (Bridal Gown, Floral, Design, DJ)  I look into at least four per category and keep notes on conversations I have with people.  If they were rude, I toss them.  If they don’t care about a potential client, they really won’t care once they get your deposit money.  If they have negative reviews online, I read what the reviews say, and depending on what the problem was, whether or not the vendor responded, and the number of negative reviews, I toss them.  There are SO many vendors in every city that it is impossible to talk to them all, so you have to have a process of weeding them out.

Third, I am signed up on The Knot.  I primarily use it for their timeline, because it lists pretty much everything you need to do and when you should do it.  I am the type of person who likes to do things early and get it done, so I move a lot of the tasks around to fit my schedule.  You can even have it send you an email reminder…for example, my last reminder two weeks ago was to get my Maid of Honor the info on which bridal salons we are going to visit for bridesmaid dress shopping.  We are doing it early because she lives in LA and will be in town in a couple of weeks, so I was able to change that from the suggested timeline that The Knot gave me.

Fourth, I picked a great Maid of Honor.  If you haven’t chosen yours yet, CHOOSE WISELY.  Being friends with someone for a long time or feeling pressure to pick your sister does not mean that that is the best choice for you.  Your MOH will be your right hand woman throughout your entire planning process.  Trust me, you don’t want to eff this one up.  One of my bridesmaids got married last year and her MOH made her experience much harder instead of making it easier.   Unless you want your bridal shower at Denny’s and you want to add coordinating with all of your bridesmaids for every task to your already packed schedule, do yourself a favor and pick the best woman for the job.  If she is truly your best friend, she will cater to your needs (unless you become a crazy Bridezilla, in which case you can kiss any help at all goodbye.)

If you’re close to your wedding and you are feeling overwhelmed with stuff to get done, it’s not too late to get your shit together.   Break it down by category and take your time.   You will thank me later.

October 11, 2014

I am getting married in one year. 

I have been waiting to say that for many years now.  Joey and I have been together since we were in high school.  11 years to be exact.   Each year I thought that would be “the year” that I would be able to say that I was engaged.  Now that I am, everything remains the same except for my stress level, which has risen to one of its highest points in years.

It is hard to be a bride.   No one tells you that.  Magazines and television shows will allow you to believe that it is a “magical” time, and some even call it the “best time of your life,”  which is a dangerous route to go down.   I am here to tell you that while being engaged to the love of your life is exciting, so far, for me, that’s about all the magic there is.   People become crazy, people let you down, and everything is 1,000 times more expensive than you thought it would be.

When you first get engaged, people fawn over you asking all about it, but that eventually goes away and the bride is left to plan the largest event of her life, most of the time by herself.  The planning has only just begun and I have threatened to cancel the party several times.  Even though we have already placed a $3,500 deposit on our venue at MGM Grand Detroit, sometimes I think the financial loss would be worth making the headache go away.

This is not a blog to tell you how terrible being engaged is.  I like being engaged, and some aspects of planning I truly enjoy.  Joey proposed May 13, and over the past few months, I have been thinking that I should start blogging to address the ups and downs and the best and worst experiences of hosting a 150 person, expensive, elegant wedding.  Over the next year, I will be honest and tell you when things are amazing and when things seem like the worst they could get.  I hope that while I share my experiences, I can provide entertainment, assistance, and a reminder that my fellow brides are not alone.