Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wedding Wednesday – How to Hire a Wedding Planner

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It used to be that wedding planners were considered a luxury for the wealthy and/or celebrities.   Well, I’ve been doing this for about 15 years (over 300 weddings) and nothing can be further from the truth.  If you are recently engaged, or three months from your wedding and need a little help, here is a sensible, intelligent and real guide to finding that special someone who can get you down the aisle to your other special someone with style.  These are the quick, crucial bullet points you need NOW:

1) Talk to friends, vendors and sites that you trust.  Ask their recommendations.  Schedule meetings with at least three highly vetted consultants/planners after checking out their websites and seeing their work.  Come armed with questions and use this as your guide.  Most of all, follow your gut and see who you click with.  Those consultations should be by appointment only and of course, gratis!

2) First question: do you like their style (of manners, humour, dress,  organization)?  Does he or she make you smile/feel calm? If so, that’s a good sign you’ll be a great team.  Remember, a wedding planner is part budget guru, part organizational ninja, part shrink, part style consultant and part family therapist.  He or she (and their team) will be your sanity, your laugh, your respite and your guide.  Choose wisely!

3) How long have they been in business? How many weddings have they executed?  If the answer is “I planned my own wedding and it was SO much fun” or, ditto, “I planned my daughter’s wedding and it was so fulfilling!” then, run.  These are called hobbyists and there are hundreds of them masquerading as experienced pros.  Taking a class in wedding planning does not make a wedding planner, either.  You want to make sure your planner has done at least 50 weddings.  A good rule of thumb is also at least three years in business.  Do they have any lawsuits filed against them?  Bad sign.  Do they get lots of local and national press?  GREAT sign.

4) Do they have a variety of ways to plan, such as full-service (best for most brides), weekend of and hourly?  Are they reachable during most business hours and some after hours?  Don’t abuse it and call at 3 am in a panic, but expect that they will get back to you promptly when you have burning issues.  Planners live on their smartphones, so text and email as well.  They are super organized!

5) If they charge extra for rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, that’s a a red flag.  Great wedding planners will also take care of that and brunch the day after.  We even pack our clients for their honeymoons and make sure their car takes them to the airport.  Soup to nuts is why you pay a premium for excellence!  If you opt for a more abbreviated planning experience, expect great attention and excellence as well.  “Day of” is never really “Day Of” – your planner should start meeting with you a few weeks prior and know your wedding like the palm of his/her hand, double checking contracts, drawing up timelines, vendor lists  and being on-site for the big event, setup, breakdown and other parties.

6) Speaking of money – cheaper is never better with wedding planners.  A great wedding planner will pay for him or herself given they have the relationships will all the best vendors – they buy in volume and will get MUCH better prices for you on cakes, site rentals, floral design, stationery, photographers, caterers.  They know the BEST vendors in the business and will offer you many choices for each facet of your wedding.  Sadly, to a vendor, YOU are a one-trick pony (I know this seems harsh, but you only get married once, right?), but that planner is their bread and butter and they will go out of their way to please a planner.  What may seem a little steep is actually going to come out as a budget saver for you.  Great wedding planners will follow your budget to the letter and keep you there.  Awesome!

7) To that point, a wedding planner who takes kickbacks from vendors is NOT ethical or for you.  He/she is your advocate and charge you enough money.  This also means he/she will use the same vendors over and over, without regard for your personal style.  Double-dipping to line their pockets?  Run away.  It’s a valid question to ask.  It is unethical and  immoral.

8) Can your ideal candidates get you coveted appointments for the bridal fashion shows?  Get you a tasting at that great caterer?  Take you out to see a coveted band or DJ?  Get the most elegant papery quickly, without drama? They must be able to do this!  They should also help you spend time with your fiance and even order you to get massages, go to dinner with your beloved sans wedding talk and get your exercise and nutrition on track.

9) Do you get a good vibe?  Do they quickly provide you with references, a plan of action, an outline of their services that is crisp, professional and aesthetically pleasing?  Are their contracts easy to read and decipher? All good signs.

10) Does he or she take more than one wedding or event per weekend?  Ideally, you’d like to be the only one.  Also, in looking at their online portfolio, do you see many different styles of weddings?  The wedding should be YOURS, not the planner’s style.  This is so very important.  You’ll never see a client walk into one of our weddings and say, ‘Oh, this is so Dolce’.  It’s YOUR day – we are the hired help!

11) Finally, don’t be a diva.  Having a planner doesn’t mean you can order her around or belittle him or her.  That’s just bad manners and taste.  He or she is your partner and holds your big day in his or her capable hands.  If you have concerns, air them with grace and class.  A planner wants to please you, ensure a fantastic and gorgeous wedding experience and she usually has the answers you seek!  Now go and find your dream planner!

12) The right planner should make you feel like his/her only client.  Without a doubt.  You may see that they are busy, but you should always feel like top priority!  Also, follow them on Facebook and Twitter to get some creative ideas!  Great planners love social media and put great stuff out there for YOU!

A great wedding planner can be a lifesaver.  Do you really want to stand there in your gown and wonder if the cake arrived while getting your false eyelashes applied and listening to your mother ask about the escort card table?  A great wedding planner will no doubt have a huge suitcase filled with just about everything to ward off dress tragedies, hangovers, broken nails and annoying relatives.  They will order umbrellas if a monsoon blows in.  They can bring heaters if a cold snap comes.  They will dry your tears and deliver a gift to your groom.  They will make your beautiful day just beautiful.

To find a great wedding planner, go to the Little Black Book of Style Me Pretty or other blogs, ask friends, check out online guides in your area, ask the reception site that you think you love for the wedding and other vendors.  If you keep hearing the same names over and over those are the “go-to” folks.

Happy planning, beautiful wedding readers!  xoxo  PS: follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/dolceparties

Thirsty Thursday – The “Snowball”

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Ramos gin fizz cocktail at the Sazerac bar, Ro...

Image via Wikipedia

I am not a huge fan of calorie-laden, creamy drinks in the winter.  Nothing is worse than a hangover plus a few extra pounds (because, as you all know, you MUST stick with the same drink all night – switching just makes matters worse).  Also, those hangover remedies every news site and blog had?  Bosh.  Drink less, drink water in between alcoholic drinks and the two surefire cures for a hangover are….drumroll….pickle juice and bacon.  Something to do with the sodium and nitrates.  Seriously!  Don’t take that Advil – it will rip up your liver.

I digress.  The Snowball is classic, fun, flirty, but manly enough for a boy.  Enjoy!

The Snow Ball cocktail is a brandy cocktail that is similar to the popular Gin Fizz, hold the gin. This mix is great as both a winter drink, because of the comforting quality of the brandy and the frothiness the egg adds, and as a summer drink due to its tall, refreshing profile. It is a classic cocktail and was likely to have first been published in 1899 in Applegreen’s Bar Book.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz brandy (or even Armagnac or Cognac would work)
  • 1 oz simple syrup (if you don’t feel like making simple syrup, Trader Joe’s has a great one bottled!)
  • 1 egg (very fresh, organic)
  • ginger ale (I use authentic, organic Whole Foods ginger ale, but Canada Dry is great, too)

Preparation:

  1. Pour the brandysimple syrup and egg into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously to ensure the egg is properly mixed.
  3. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass.
  4. Top with ginger ale.

 

Giveaway Goodness Numero Dos – There’s an App for That!

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Mindy Weiss, uber-queen of wedding planning in L.A. for most of Hollywood (including Heidi Klum, every year that she marries Seal), now has an iPhone app for you to plan your wedding.  It’s very user-friendly, with a few organizational glitches, as noted by the users, but all in all, a great way to avoid schlepping a binder to and from your appointments.

One lucky bride (or groom) will win an iTunes gift card to buy the app – oh, hell, you can put some a-Ha tunes on your iPod for all we care, but you get it.  The value of the card will be $10.  If you decide both bride and groom would like the app (bless his heart!), we’ll make it $20 large.

To win, just apply by writing in the comments section why you REALLY need to get organized now that he’s put a ring on it.  You have until January 13 to shout it out! One lucky winner will be chosen and said gift card will come to you via Priority Mail.  Good luck, lovelies!

Giveaway Goodness! Calling all aspiring cooks!

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Do you like to cook?  Are you useless in the kitchen (well, no one is useless if they can cue up the music and pour wine) and want to learn some simple ways to feed yourself, your sweetheart, your kids?

Today’s Great, Gorgeous Giveaway is a copy of Jessica Seinfeld‘s newest cookbook, Double Delicious, which I blogged about in December.  The website, in conjunction with the book, is a terrific way to learn to cook so many great dishes, many under 15 minutes.  The key is to utilize the freshest ingredients and highest quality tools.

For example:  are you intimitated by the idea of a “Sunday Roast”?  Watch this video! http://www.doitdelicious.com/recipes/make_it/herb_roasted_beef

To qualify for the contest, please tell us  in the comments section, by January 13 what your cooking challenges are, your most nightmarish dish, or why you deserve this cookbook – perhaps you are a new bride to be wondering what to do with all the things you are registering for.  Perhaps you are a busy parent, looking to turn away from processed foods.  The most interesting, hilarious answer will have the book shipped to them January 15 via Priority overnight.  Good luck!  The winner will be announced on the blog and on Twitter (DolceParties) with Ms. Seinfeld being copied on your win – perhaps she’ll throw in some extra tips!

And guess what?  Another giveaway later today for brides and grooms only! Plus, Thirsty Thursday!  xoxo

Photo Credit: Jessica Seinfeld

Reese, Natalie, LeAnn….you?? Happy Engagement, new BTB!

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Well, if you found a ring under the tree or at the stroke of midnight, you are not alone!  Congratulations!  Over forty percent of our nation’s engagements take place between November 15 and February 15, so there you have it.

First things first – enjoy this time!  Do NOT run around looking at bridal magazines and blogs and driving your fiance insane.  It’s early days.  Let it sink in.  As a pro planner with over 300 weddings under my belt, I can also say NOT to think you must book a reception location immediately.  That is a falsehood.  As a matter of fact, I usually won’t take a wedding client over 9 months out.  Trust me when I tell you that you will change your mind on every little facet of the wedding, including location, about three times.  Think big picture – think marriage!  Think in broad terms of size, style, climate and think wedding planner – he/she is an absolute necessity in guiding you through the madness!

Please send a photo of your ring to us, so we can post.  Things you CAN think about:  dress shopping (if you are going to New York for a weekend of it), an engagement photo shoot (see Style Me Pretty for the best in your area), hiring a planner (even if only for “day of”) and meeting each others’ families if you have not done so already.  Please direct other questions to the comment section and we’ll be happy to answer ALL of them!  And YES, “How to Hire A Wedding Planner” post is coming!!!!

Do email us at info@dolceparties.com to set up an informative and complimentary consultation – and visit our website for some inspiration!  We’re so happy for you!  Enjoy this time and know that you don’t have to rush!

Tuesday Shoesday – for a Sunday!

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Well, I’ve had a heckuva holiday week and a half.  I’ve been in bed with a ruptured eardrum, sinus infection and bronchitis – so clearly, my blogging has been sporadic at best.  I’ve been told I won’t be able to hear in my right ear for another two weeks (blah!) so I have really come to appreciate all of my senses.  Time to turn over a new leaf.

Normally, I remain committed to Tuesday Shoesday, but I came across these Brian Atwood beauties and, well, enough said.  What do you think?  Did you wear fabulous shoes on New Year’s Eve?  Send us a picture in the comments section and we’d be happy to post it!

Happy, healthy, fabulous, prosperous and wonderful New Year to all of you!  xoxo

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