Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day of...Month of...YEAR of Coordination?

I've had several people ask me what is included in a "day-of" coordination package... and, frankly, that's a topic for another day (or a one-on-one consult with Five Grain Events *wink*)  However, I did want to address the glaring misnomer that is day-of coordination.

When Five Grain Events is hired for day-of coordination, it's true that--aside from a casual emailed question--you are not going to have the same kind of attention leading up to your event as you would if you had hired us for full planning.  However, we are still working hard behind the scenes!  We are creating checklists, contact lists, connecting with the "vendor team," and preparing everything so that a month or two before the big day we can meet for our first planning meeting.

At the planning meeting I try to get a general idea from the bride/host/hostess on the timing for the day and fill in any gaps in my information.  After that, the work REALLY starts!  I'm compiling all the information into day-of timelines, reaching out to vendors to get their opinions on proposed timings and plans, making a list of announcements for the MC, and running through the course of the day in my head over and over to make sure that we're not forgetting any small detail!  (i.e. "Ok, the guests are getting seated and the ushers are handing out programs--oh!  we can't forget a small basket to hold the programs...").

When we're just a few days out from the wedding, I present all of the above to my client, make any tweaks necessary and then send out information to vendors.  I calm any bridal nerves and then make sure my emergency bag is stocked.  Generally the day before I pick up all DIY or heirloom materials and drop it off at the venue.  Then I run the ceremony rehearsal and send the bridal party off to the rehearsal dinner while I go home to check everything over. one. more. time.

Now--all of that work and we haven't even reached the DAY OF--or any follow-up that's done AFTER the wedding is over!  Can you see why it's a major misnomer?  I am, however, sheepishly admitting to continuing to call it day-of coordination on my website.

What do you think is the best name for {the-job-formerly-known-as-day-of-coordination}?
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cool people I met this week

Lately I've been trying to reach out to other wedding vendors in the Chicagoland area both to network and to build a larger portfolio of vendors to recommend to my clients! So, I'm going to start a new series on the blog..."cool people I met this week" so I can tell y'all about the great people I'm meeting and share the wealth :)

Since this is the first installment, we're going to use the term "week" very loosely...and I'm just going to talk about a couple cool people I've met recently. :-D

1) Kelly Marie from Fleur. I met Kelly after recommending her to one of my October brides who ended up booking. I'd seen her BEAUTIFUL work before but had never met her, so I found her on twitter (love me some social networking) and we arranged a time to meet. Kelly has been SO amazing. She's totally taken me under her wing and gave me a list of great vendors who I should be in contact with--hence the start of this list of all the cool people I'm meeting. I've already arranged to meet up with several and it's only leading to more connections. So THANK YOU Kelly! And if you're in the Logan Square ' should pop in her shop on Logan Blvd. Here's some eye candy for ya:

2) Jaclyn, Jaclyn Simpson Photography. Jaclyn and I were introduced by a mutual friend and ended up meeting up for coffee a few weeks ago. She started her photography business a couple years ago and it is totally taking off. We've now gotten together twice and it's been so great bouncing ideas off of one another! She's been a great coach in getting me to feel more confident about my skills--I know we'll be working together sometime in the near future...brides-to-be and anyone looking for a photog, check out Jaclyn's great work! (A couple samples below)

If you have any great vendor recommendations let me know...more introductions to come!
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

So you're what?

Getting engaged can be an overwhelming experience. Your fiance slips the ring on your finger: tears, happiness, call your friends and relatives to relay the exciting news--and they are immediately asking you questions like "what's the date??" "have you picked a photographer??" "my cousin's sister-in-law does floral design on the side and she'd probably give you a great deal."

Um...WHAT?? Fifteen minutes beforehand you were happily in a relationship between two people and all of a sudden with the addition of one small piece of jewelry everyone and their mother feels like they have the right to give you advice. I personally think it's the same phenomenon that makes people feel like it's ok to touch a pregnant woman's belly--hello, personal space? But I digress...

Even though those first phone call questions are a little over the top, after you bask in the engagement glow for a little while, it's time to get down to business! You have to start choosing vendors. There are two routes to go at this point:

1) I want to get married May 4th and I don't care where!!

2) I want to get married at my church/the gorgeous art museum in my home town and I'm flexible on my dates.

If your dates are flexible and you already know the venue or a list of venues to choose from, you want start making calls! Many of the top venues book up well over a year in advance.

Once you've booked your vendors OR if you already know your date and need some guidance, my first suggestion would be to start interviewing wedding planners/coordinators. Even if all you want is "day-of" coordination (which is really a misnomer...another post on that coming up!) many wedding planners (including Five Grain Events!) will give you vendor recommendations from the time you sign the contract. If you wait until 3 months from your wedding date to choose your coordinator you're really missing out on one of the most valuable parts of hiring one. They have lots of experience in the industry and can help you find the absolute best florist, dj, photographer, etc. for your budget--instead of the one you're booking just because they are the only one you know!

How do I know which vendor is right for me? This is a question I think is especially important to bring up. I know that looking ahead to all the expenses associated with a wedding it can be difficult not to go with the cheapest person you can find. I have to urge you not to go this route!! Meet with each vendor (and if you have the time...two-three in each category) until you find the person you feel totally comfortable with. Ask lots of questions and even just chat with them. The vendor's personality is inevitably going to come through on whatever is created for your wedding--so finding someone you 'click' with is essential.

If you feel 100% comfortable with everyone who is working together to make your wedding the day you've been dreaming about, you'll have a much better experience during the process and that $200 you might have saved going with "the other guy" will be forgotten!

How did you know your vendor was right for you? :)
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Emily and Brad's Wedding

When choosing a wedding date...Emily and Brad had a slight difference of opinion.  Emily wanted a winter wedding and Brad wanted to get married in the spring.  I don't think their March 6th wedding date could have been a better choice--Emily got snow on the ground and the 50 degree temperatures let all the guests know that spring was in the air!

Both the ceremony and reception were held at the Highland Park Community House.  Emily and Brad took photos before the ceremony and had their first look on the snowy grounds of the center.  They had a great group of bridesmaids and groomsmen and even before the festivities got going I knew it would be a great party!

The interfaith ceremony beautifully brought together the two families and cultures.  It was a simple service officiated by a Rabbi and a Priest who stood together under the Chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) and explained each of the separate faiths' rituals very well so that all the guests could easily follow along.  

As soon as the ceremony ended the party began!  The guests gathered in another room while the caterers (North Shore Caterers) and I raced around flipping the room from the ceremony to reception setup.  The bridal party's personal flowers were done by JBL Designs (LOVED the baby's breath bouquets!), but Emily did all her own centerpieces of ribbon-wrapped vases filled with lemons and surrounded by votives.  With the navy tablecloths, they turned out beautifully!

After dinner and a series of moving speeches, Max from Style Matters DJs kept the dance floor packed for the entire night!  

It was a fantastic wedding and I know Em and Brad went away glowing!  Congrats, you two!

All photographs are courtesy of Wedding Photos by Dale.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why I do what I do

Five Grain Events' first wedding of 2010 was Saturday (more about that soon!) and every time I do a wedding I become more convinced that every bride and groom should at least have a day-of coordinator, if not assistance planning their entire event.  Let a professional wedding coordinator deal with the details, timelines, and snafus so you can completely enjoy your day!

Here's a list of just a few of the reasons hiring a wedding coordinator is a good idea:

1.  We save you time and money
Whether you are a day-of client or Five Grain Events is helping with the full planning process, I'm always happy to give vendor recommendations!  There are a couple reasons for this...number one I want to make sure my clients have the best vendors possible and hopefully I can save them some time in finding those great vendors; and number two it's much easier to work with other vendors whom I know and trust!  If I've worked with a particular photographer or DJ before, I don't have to spend as much time checking and double checking that they are on the ball.  I would never recommend another vendor unless I was certain he or she was one of the best!  Of course, I'm always happy to meet or hear about new vendors who I can recommend in the future.  :)  Most coordinators also encourage our clients to stick within a reasonable budget.  One of my upcoming brides fell in love with a florist who had given her a proposal that came out to more than double her floral budget.  I gave her a list of other florists to check out, and she ended up going with the floral company, Fleur, who was within her budget and who she ended up liking even more!

2.  We know the right questions to ask
Because I've had a major role in planning or coordinating many weddings, I have a leg-up on the average bride or groom doing this for the first time.  I have a standard list of questions I ask all the vendors to make certain we're on the same page.  Often brides have an idea in their head and assume everyone is thinking the same--but that's not always the case!  A few weeks before the wedding on Saturday I was going over the day's schedule with the caterers and it turned out the caterer assumed they would be able to set up for the reception the day before the event and that the guests would be seated at their tables for the ceremony.  Could you imagine how the bride would have felt if she'd shown up to walk down the aisle and...there was no aisle??  We got it all cleared up in plenty of time, but had I not clarified that with the caterers there could have been a MESS on the day of the wedding.

3.  We make it easy on you and your family
Although not always the case, most often the immediate families of the bride and groom (mainly the parents) take on a major role in wedding plans.  Making sure that everyone involved is notified when every small change happens leading up to the wedding can be challenging to say the least: the photographer is showing up a half hour later, the gift table has been moved to the other side of the room, Cousin Dave is now bringing his new girlfriend, etc.  If the bride or groom is the only person who has this knowledge, who is going to communicate it to all the vendors who need to know on the day of the wedding?  As the coordinator, I am the "go to" gal.  That way the families, bridal party, and vendors all have only one contact to direct any questions to or inform of any changes.  It's much less frustrating for everyone!

4.  We are calm under pressure
You know when you're really wound up about something and then you talk to someone who just calms you right down?  That's the role I try to play at every wedding.  I have everything as organized as possible ahead of time, and when, inevitably, something unexpected comes up, I take care of it before anyone knows something was amiss. With the assurance that any bumps in the road that come up will be  smoothed out, you can have a totally fun and relaxed day!  :)

5. We're experts!
Most brides wouldn't sew their own wedding dress (and if you would, I have the UTMOST RESPECT FOR YOU--WOW!) so why not let the experts ensure your day runs smoothly and on time.  You'll be able to look back on your day and remember the feeling of walking down the aisle to your soon-to-be husband, how loved you felt as your friends and family toasted to your happiness, and how much fun you had out on the dance floor--rather than having been worried that the DJ was too loud, that dinner started 20 minutes late, and that there weren't enough chairs at one of the tables.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and you want to make sure you are taking it all in.

I hope this helps!  I hear a lot of people say that they don't want to get a planner because they are excited about doing the planning themselves.  I promise, we're not here to take away the opportunity to design your day--just to help facilitate you realizing that design!

Let me know if you need assistance with your wedding!  I'd love to talk with you about how Five Grain Events can help you create the day of your dreams.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Much excitement!

I am so excited to report that, as of today, I am officially a Wedobo wedding planner! is a new groupon-esque website that assembles fabulous offers from great Chicago wedding vendors.  The Wedobo planners are the ones who present the offers to their clients and friends.  All the more reason to tell your friends and family to follow this blog, my twitter account (@fivegrainevents) and become a fan on facebook (  The wedobo site will officially launch soon!

I'll be offering the deals to clients first, so if anyone is planning a summer wedding or event and needs assistance it's not too late!  I still have some summer 2010 dates available.  Contact me at fivegrainevents at gmail dot com.

Thanks for ALL your support.  :)

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