Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quick Tip: Say What? Mic your ceremony!

It's summer time and outdoor ceremonies abound.  With the beautiful outdoors comes not only birds chirping but also wind, traffic noise, and plain old wide open spaces, all of which can make it difficult for guests to hear during an outside ceremony.  To ensure that guests are not straining to hear your heartwarming vows, set up a microphone for the ceremony.  There are several options: a wireless lavalier mic worn by the officiant or groom, a mic on a mic stand, or a handheld mic.  If your venue does not have the proper equipment available, DJs and sound companies often offer mic setup for wedding ceremonies.  Your guests are excited to share in your Big Day, so be sure that they can hear every moment!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quick Tip: Tipping Wedding Vendors

It can be frustrating for brides to discover that after shelling out big bucks to put on the wedding of their dreams, they then have to consider an additional expense -- whether to tip their vendors!  There are a lot of different opinions out there on proper tipping etiquette.  While tipping wedding vendors gradually seems to be becoming customary, I believe that tipping should be reserved to reward excellent service and show appreciation for a job well done.  Here is my quick guide to tipping:

Makeup/Hairstylist: Expected, About 15-20% (same as regular appointment)
Photographers: Optional, $20-50 per photog
Catering Staff & Bartenders: Check your contract, gratuity is usually already included in the price
DJ: Optional, about $25-100 or 5-20% of cost
Reception Band: Optional, about $10-25 per band member given in a lump sum to the band leader
Ceremony Musicians: Optional, $15-30 per person
Florist deliverers/setup people: Optional, $5-20 each, depending on difficulty of setup
Wedding Coordinator: Optional, $25-100

The best way to tip is to put the money in a sealed envelope and give the envelope to each vendor at the end of the wedding reception or right before that vendor leaves.  Traditionally, the best man hands out tips, but today, your wedding coordinator can handle the task for you.

If it's simply not in your budget to tip, most vendors will appreciate a heartfelt thank you note.  Wedding vendors often build their business by word of mouth, so sometimes the best thank you that vendors can get is for you to simply refer your friends and family to them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's a DOC?

Since I'm a wedding planner, you may be surprised to hear that I think you should plan your own wedding!  Planning your wedding is part of the engagement experience.  A wedding planner can certainly be a big help but is not necessary.  I believe the bride should be involved and enjoy the planning process.  However, no bride should go without a DOC -- a Day Of Coordinator.

A DOC is a wedding coordinator that you hire to manage the event on wedding day.  She is the go-to gal for all of the vendors and the bridal party so that the bride and groom are not bombarded with questions or problems that arise.

A DOC will usually start working with a couple a few months before the wedding.   She will go over the details of the wedding with you, discuss the layout of the venue, help create a timeline for wedding day, and confirm with all of your vendors the week of the wedding.  The DOC will also typically direct the wedding rehearsal so that everyone knows what to expect on wedding day.

While its tempting to have a friend or family member serve as a makeshift DOC, just keep in mind that the person you choose may not be able to fully enjoy the wedding as a guest.  Plus, the friend or family member may not know how to handle the issues that arise.

There is a lot for a DOC to do on wedding day!  A good DOC will know all of the details for your wedding so she can answer questions from vendors and the bridal party.  She will help the bride and bridesmaids get dressed, will setup any ceremony items or reception items to be used at the appropriate time (e.g. programs, wine, unity candles, guestbook, favors, etc.), and will hand out vendor payments.  One of her main jobs is to manage the timeline of the day and keep everything running on schedule.  The DOC will cue when it's time to start the ceremony, when it's time for the first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.  And of course, the DOC is there to handle any emergencies.  At the end of the festivities, the DOC will help pack up what needs to make it home with the bride, such as the guestbook, gifts, top tier of the cake, etc. 

As an example of how a DOC comes in handy, I had a bride whose wedding was at a fancy hotel.  The hotel's site coordinator had not yet arrived, and the hotel staff was left to set up the ceremony site based on a written work order (a situation that is very common with hotel weddings).  But the work order was wrong!  As a result, the setup was wrong and the staff had a lot of questions about what to do.  As the DOC, I was able to step in to get the setup back on track.

Your venue may tout that they offer the services of a coordinator that can act as your DOC.  Be sure to ask lots of questions about the role of the venue's coordinator.  What time does the coordinator arrive at the venue on wedding day?  What types of tasks does she handle?  Is she on hand for the bride and groom before, during, and after the wedding?  Sometimes the venue's so-called DOC is actually the site's catering manager or event manager.  If that's the case, she may be back in the kitchen dealing with her own staff and may not be on hand for your needs.  Asking lots of questions in advance will help you determine whether to consider hiring an independent DOC as well. 

On wedding day, I deal with the smallest of requests:  finding an extension cord so the hairstylist can plug in the curling iron, providing safety pins, fetching water for a parched bride, adjusting the room temperature.  A DOC will be on hand, ready for anything that comes up.  Let a DOC sweat the small stuff so that you can relax and enjoy your big day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Feeding your Vendors

To feed or not to feed, that is the question.  I often get asked whether or not it is necessary to provide meals for your vendors at your wedding.  First, check the contract for each vendor.  Some vendors require that a meal be provided.  If it's not in the contract, I would say that the rule of thumb is to feed the vendors that have been there throughout the wedding day.  Typically, the photographer, DJ/Band, videographer, and wedding planner would make the cut.  Think of it this way:  the happier your vendors are, the better job they will do!  But in all seriousness, some vendors will be at the venue for 8 to 12 hours straight, working hard to make your day perfect.  It is simply a nice gesture and good etiquette to provide a meal for them. 

You certainly do not need to give your vendors the fancy meal that you are serving to your guests.  Your caterer or venue should be able to offer something cheap, simple and quick for your vendors.  Even sandwiches are appropriate as a vendor meal.  Once you've discussed with your caterer or venue what type of meal to provide to the vendors, it doesn't hurt to call each vendor.  Tell the vendors that you were planning to provide a meal for them and ask if they plan to eat on the wedding day.  Some vendors prefer not to eat on the job and will decline the offer. But they will certainly appreciate that you thought of them!

Once you figure out what food you'll be providing and which vendors will be eating, think about where you want the vendors to eat.  Some venues may have a small separate room available where the vendors can eat.  The vendors usually eat while the guests are eating, so there isn't much action going on that would need their attention.  However, you may prefer to have a small table set up in the reception room for your vendors so that they are still on hand should anything exciting happen. 

I love answering the questions of my bridal clients! Do you have wedding-related questions or dilemmas? Post them in the comments section of this blog, and I'll do my best to answer them in future blog posts!  Happy Planning!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quick Tip: Escort Cards vs. Place Cards

When I ask my brides about their plans for their escort cards, I almost always get a puzzled look. "You mean place cards?" they ask.  Most brides seem generally unfamiliar with the term "escort cards" and just use the term "place cards" as a catchall for all seating designations.  While escort cards and place cards are related,  they actually serve entirely different purposes.  Here is the difference so you can sound like a planning pro:

Escort cards are used to designate which table each guest will be seated at.  All of the escort cards are usually set up together right outside the reception room so that guests can easily find their tables as they enter the reception.  Written on the card will be the guests' names and their table numbers.  Couples should be on the same escort card.  For example, a card might read: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Table 4.

Place cards are used in conjunction with escort cards.  Once guests have found their assigned tables, place cards are used to designate where at the table each guest should sit.  Though certainly not necessary, place cards are handy if you want to ensure that certain people sit next to each other or if you need to indicate to the waitstaff who should receive certain meals.  When they are used, there will be a place card at each place setting, showing who should sit there.  Each individual guest will have a separate place card.  For example, the place card will simply read: Mrs. Jane Smith.

Using the proper terminology, you'll certainly impress your vendors, showing them you are a bride who knows her stuff!