Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welcome to Five Grain, Sara!

We have a new associate at Five Grain Events!  Please join me in welcoming coordinator, Sara Balsom.  Sara will be my assistant at most weddings but will also be lead-coordinating a wedding in June at Salvage One (LUCKY girl!  I'm jealous!).  Sara is a fabulous gal with great skills--which were proven when she coordinated MY wedding last November!  Clearly I'd entrust that job only to the best.  ;)

To help you get to know Sara, I've asked her to answer a few fun questions, so here they are...and HUGE thanks to Jaclyn Simpson for snapping some new pics of us:

Tell us a little bit about how you got into the wedding industry.
I have always loved planning and I was the social chair for my sorority in college.  Once my friends started getting married, I was asked to be a bridesmaid or help out with their weddings in different ways.  The more weddings I was involved in, the more I started picking up what worked and what didn’t.  I then started assisting a wedding planner I knew and eventually started running weddings on my own.

If your "emergency bag" could only have 5 items, what would they be?
I have cheated a little bit but I would have pins (safety pins and bobby pins), a long lighter or matches, duct tape, peppermints, and a tide bleach pen.

What's your favorite wedding trend right now?
I love the vintage influences that are resurfacing, whether it is in wedding bands, hair accessories, veils, or other elements. 

If you could do your wedding all over, where would you have it and what would it be like?
That’s a hard question to answer!!  There are several places I see and think “I would have loved to get married here!” so I don’t know if I could pick a place, but the main thing I would change would be the number of people I invited.  I think if I could do it all over again, I would have trimmed my guest list down so it was more of an intimate crowd, making it more of a really fun party with my family and closest friends.

What's the best advice you can give to a bride and groom?
The best advice I can give a bride and groom is to hire a day-of wedding coordinator.   Too often, on the wedding day, the bride (and sometimes the groom) can get caught up in the details of the event rather than focusing on the specialness of the day.  A day-of coordinator can take care of all of the details for a bride and groom so they can focus on enjoying the day with each other, family, and friends.

All Photos by Jaclyn Simpson
Welcome to Five Grain, Sara!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Grain Events Announces **New Service**


How many times have we heard our girlfriends lamenting about how they don't think their boyfriend will be able to create a proposal that lives up to all their grand imaginations?  A surprise trip to Paris to propose on the top of the Eiffel Tower...their parents flown in from across the country to witness the event...a quiet night with the same type of champagne they drank on their first date...etc.

Well, Five Grain Events is here to help!  Here's the official blurb about our new service which should be on the website in a week or so:

Gentlemen, do you need some help preparing to "pop the question"? Five Grain Events is offering a new service to assist with the big day that must come before the Big Day. A Five Grain Events coordinator will brainstorm with you to come up with the perfect proposal that epitomizes you and your soon-to-be fiancee's relationship. Then, we'll be there to assist with implementing the plan: we'll set up the picnic in the park, the candlelit dinner, or even organize gathering friends and family for the big reveal so that you can focus on stopping your hands from shaking! Plus, if you end up booking Five Grain Events for your wedding, we'll apply 50% of the fee to Day Of Coordinator or 100% of the fee to Full Planning.

What do you think?  Do you have any brothers/boyfriends/friends who could use a little help in this arena?
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cool people I met this week. Volume IV

Happy Sunday, all!  Last week I had the great opportunity to visit with three awesome vendors at two locations in Evanston that are RIGHT next door to each other.  Pretty convenient!

1) Jeremy Lawson was introduced to me originally by Kelly from Fleur but is also a very popular guy; many of the other vendors I've met with over the past few weeks know and love Jeremy and his photography work.  We met in his bright and colorful loft that he just moved into a couple weeks ago.  Jeremy has a really fun and energetic personality that, judging from his photos, is readily transferred to his clients.  I swear, every last one of his couples looked like they were having the time of their lives in the photos!  :)  Joining us on our meeting was Jeremy's adorable puggle, Charlie, but I was told that Jeremy is trying to teach Charlie to live upstairs during client meetings.  I didn't mind ;).  Below are some of Jeremy's photos that showcase his talent for bringing out the pure joy and beauty in his clients, but check out his blog for even more.

2) When I contacted Jeremy about meeting, he immediately suggested that I see if Lori Roche and Matt Buckman of I Do Films wanted to get together on the same day since they're right next door.  Luckily it worked out and I was able to wander over after my meeting with Jeremy.  Lori and Matt were really welcoming and it was a beautiful night so the three of us sat out on their rooftop deck and talked business.  I Do's story is really quite amazing.  Matt began filming weddings of friends and colleagues a couple years ago just for fun.  When word got out about his talent, he booked a slew of other events until he realized he couldn't do all the work required and still maintain his 9-5 job.  Lori and Matt officially started I Do just about a year ago--and I believe they said they have over SEVENTY weddings booked for 2010!!  And yet, I'm not surprised.  Their work is stellar (plus in addition to Hi-Def digital recording they also use Super 8 which give a unique vintage feel) and they are really great, down-to-earth people, so who wouldn't want to hire them to help capture their day?  I've included a clip from their blog of a wedding film, so you can see why I Do Films is a total necessity at your wedding!

Andrew & Kara from I Do Films on Vimeo.

Thanks, Jeremy, Matt, and Lori for your hospitality and meeting with me last week.  Can't wait to connect again :).

Cool people I met this week. Volume IVSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cool people I met this week. Volume III

What a beautiful weekend we had--the weather was absolutely perfect and I had a great time with family and friends.  Hope you were all able to get out and enjoy the sunshine!

I'm back for my Sunday tradition so I'll keep the other chatter to a minimum.  Here are some great people I met this week:

1) Chris Constantine, D'Absolute Catering:  Chris and I actually met a couple weeks ago at a networking event at the Stan Mansion.  Chris came into the catering business many years ago working for another Chicagoland catering company.  After moving up within that company, he decided it was time to strike off on his own about 5 years ago.  He began by doing smaller events and has gradually increased his capacity and staff--D'Absolute recently catered an event for 1,000 people!  My favorite story that Chris told was when he gathered his small staff early on and told them that he eventually wanted to become as well-known within the area as Blue Plate or George Jewell.  One of his chefs laughed and Chris informed him that Blue Plate didn't start out as Blue Plate and that if he didn't believe that D'Absolute could become as successful as the larger companies then he didn't belong on staff!!  D'Absolute can do everything from drop-offs for an intimate luncheon to elaborate multi-course plated service.  If you are dying to have your favorite restaurant cater your next event, but don't think they can handle the logisitcs, D'Absolute would also be happy to provide staff to serve your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant's lasagne.  Definitely visit their website to check out other options for your next event!  Here are a few food pics to whet your appetite :)

2) Dennis Lee of Dennis Lee Photography:  Dennis was another great Kelly recommendation.  We met at the delicious Lula Cafe (seriously can't stop going back there--it's DELICIOUS!).  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with Dennis and hearing all about how he got started in the business--and let me tell you it was one of the more surprising stories I'd heard!  Dennis had the opportunity to take a month-long vacation away from his job in technology.  He travelled to Northern Africa and Europe throughout the mediterranean region with point-and-shoot camera in hand (pre-digital).  When he developed the photos after his monthlong life changing adventure he said they were the WORST photos he'd ever seen!  Dennis was so perplexed that he decided to spend the next four years learning all about photography, which he did--training with photojournalists, nature photographers, basically everything BUT wedding photographers.  However, once he got the opportunity to assist on his first wedding, he was hooked.  I love how he put that "shooting a wedding was photojournalism, it was architectural photography, it was fashion photography, it was portraiture--all in one day!".  Dennis now photographs weddings exclusively, and considering his mentor is a pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist for her work in Iraq, you know you're going to be working with someone who knows his stuff.  On top of all of his credentials, Dennis is just a really fantastic guy!  You're going to love having him as a part of your big day.  You can check out his work here and below are a couple samples of his work as well.

So Dennis and Chris are the only people I met this week, but I also want to shout out to Kelly because I saw her last week when Fleur celebrated its 8th birthday!  And today I got to spend some time with the ever fabulous Jaclyn Simpson who helped me out by shooting some new photos for the website which will be revealed in a week or two.

Have a great week everybody!

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Wedding Dread: Seating Assignments

I have heard countless times about how much everyone DREADS the process of doing seating assignments for their wedding.  So much so that some brides even plan their day so that they don't have to do this!  In some situations it can be unnecessary:  if you're having a very small and intimate reception, for instance; or a dessert and cocktails soiree where guests will spend the evening milling around.

However, I'm here to say that if you are having any kind of seated dinner (buffet or plated) PLEASE do a seating chart!  It will make your guests feel uncomfortable if they have to figure out how to find a seat on their own, especially your best friend from summer camp or second grade teacher who will not know any other guests in attendance.  It will also upset your carefully planned timelines when it takes 20 minutes longer than expected for your friends and relatives to take their seats.

I know it can be stressful to think that you are responsible for where everyone spends their dinner, but Lisa from Anderson Green Events made some great points in her post here, so read that first before going on.

So, now that you agree with Lisa, me, and countless other experienced wedding professionals that assigned seating is the way to go, I'm going to give you some tips on how to go about this, so hopefully you won't feel as overwhelmed!  If you still don't want to tackle it, hire a wedding planner like Five Grain Events to help you out!  If you're going to attenmpt on your own, plan to take an afternoon to churn this out with snacks and vino if you so choose :)

1) Purchase 2 posterboards, and post-its of 2 different colors (use your wedding colors if that'll make the process more enjoyable for you!).

2) On one of one poster boards, draw the number of circles/squares/rectangles you think you'll need for your number of guests plus a few extra just in case.  Put a number inside each table (1 through whatever).  These don't have to look like a seating chart just yet.

3) On the other poster board make some categories.  Easy ones are Bridal Party, Bride's friends, Groom's friends, Bride's Family, Groom's Family, but feel free to break it down into further catergories (family, work friends, college friends, etc.) if needed. 

4) Now, start writing down all the guests' names on the post-its.  On one color post-it (for these purposes we'll call it pink) write couples and on the other color (say, green) write down single guests.  As you write each guest or couple's name, stick it on the poster board under the category that guest belongs to.

5) Once you've got all your guests categorized, start with the easy ones.  Put the bridal party post-its on the head table(s), and you may have also decided who you want your parents to sit with.  Then move on to others in any order.  It'll be easy to count how many you've put at each table b/c the pinks are 2 and the greens are 1.  Since the post-its are categorized you won't feel like you're wracking your brain to figure out who should sit with whom!

6) Once you've moved all the post-its over, you'll probably have some switching around to do but it's much easier to do when it's all laid out in front of you!  And with the post-its you have a physical THING to move so you don't have to worry that if you erase them from one table you'll forget to assign them to another.

7) On the back side of the category poster make the circles/squares/rectangles again, but this time lay them out as you'd like them to be set up in your reception hall.  Whether you've decided to do groom's side on one half of the room and bride's side on the other or another layout, you can move the already seated tables to their appropriate location within the room (younger folks closer to the band, and older relatives at a quieter part of the room where they can converse, immediate family nearby the head table, etc.).

8) An optional final step would be to re-number the tables so you don't have table 15 next to table 4.  It'll make it easier for the servers and the guests to find their places.  Now that you have everything the way you'd like it to be laid out, input all the table numbers into your excel attendance sheet.

VOILA!  You've finished seating :)

One final note would be to wait until as long as possible to actually write the table numbers on your escort cards.  It's likely that in the final days a few guests will cancel or be added on, and you want to make sure you have as much flexibility as possible to do that.

Do you have any other ideas on how to make the seating process simpler?
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Cool people I met this week. Volume II

Last week was a big week for meeting with great vendors...and here they are!

1) Rob Warner of Rob Warner Foto:  Recommended by Kelly from Fleur, Rob is definitely the kind of guy you want to have around at your wedding.  Not only is he a fantastic photographer, he just exudes calm... restfulness... he's completely chill.  Rob has a lot of experience in the photography field and has a portfolio that extends beyond just weddings to kids, corporate, and FOOD...yum!  It has clearly positively affected his technique to have such an extensive background.  Check out a glimpse of his beautiful work here:

2) Another Kelly recommendation was Amanda of Amanda Hein Photography.  I met with Amanda last week in her west loop studio.  She and I ended up talking for over an hour about business, life, and her photography philosophy.  Amanda believes in capturing moments rather than cataloguing a timeline of the day, and she has definitely perfected the art.  In the short time I had to get to know her she immediately came across as a very genuine and great person!  Any bride and groom (and their family!) would be lucky to share their wedding experience with Amanda.  

3) and 4) During the time I spent with Amanda last week, I happened to mention a few of the other vendors I had on my list to meet.  When I told her I'd be driving out to Downers Grove to meet with Nicole from Fleur Couture and Lynda from Greenstar Creative she said that they'd all been friends for quite a while!  It's been amazing to find all the connections between these great folks I'm meeting!  I drove out on the rainy Saturday morning to meet with Lynda and Nicole and I swear we spent half the time laughing :)  Nicole has been doing floral design for several years and just started advertising this year when she aquired her adorable shop on Main Street in Downers Grove.  

Fleur Couture focuses on event design and also does linen rentals, candy buffets, and place card setups.  They are a one-stop-shop for everything related to event decor, and also have a great relationship with Greenstar Creative who sells paper goods in the shop!  Lynda started out in corporate design but realized eventually that she was ready to do something more creative.  Thus, Greenstar was born and now she creates custom wedding and event invitations and other paper goods.  See some beautiful Fleur Couture florals and stunning paper products below:

Well, that's it for this week's installment... I've got more lined up so I can't wait to share more with you!  

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