Friday, August 20, 2010

Guest Post: My Wedding Day Regret

My good friend, Ariane Fisher, who runs Story Mix Media with her husband, Mike, was kind enough to write this post about why she regrets not hiring a coordinator for her own wedding in 1999...read on to see why it is, indeed, worth the money!


I was married over 11 years ago (where does the time fly?) on a picture perfect May day.  We had a short 7 month whirlwind engagement packed with a lot of DIY projects.  Both my husband and I are type A personalities and wanted to do as much as we could to put our budget toward items of major significance - a live band, top shelf liquor, hall - man what a party!.  In retrospect it seems crazy what we pulled off ourselves- invitations, built a website (remember this was 1999), made my own dress (didn't know how to sew!), and made the cake.

So, what was my big regret?  Shoulder strap came off while I walked down the aisle?  Invitation had the wrong date?  Cake had clumps of baking powder?  Nope, the big regret was not having a day-of-coordinator to make sure everything went smoothly.  Let me tell you what happened.

Since we were so keen on doing as much as possible ourselves we never seriously considered hiring a wedding planner or coordinator.  Hey, we worked at a major corporation and my fiance had everything planned out in Microsoft Project.  What could go wrong?

We had about a 5 hour window between the end of our ceremony and the start of the reception. Of course there were still some tasks that needed to be taken care of in between - specifically creating the table cards. We had some last minute changes in the seating plan due to some surprise late responses.

One of my bridesmaids promised to use her calligraphy skills for this task - during the time before the reception.  So, we spent 2 hours getting photographed and assumed everything was taken care of.  When we arrived at the hotel where the guests were staying to say hi and grab some food, we noticed my bridesmaid and maid of honor weren't there. No big deal, they'll show up soon I thought.  About an hour before the reception they still hadn't arrived and we had no way of getting in touch with them since neither had a cell phone (seems like the stone ages doesn't it?).  In case you are thinking she was diligently working on the table cards, my husband had the seating chart in his pocket!  Long story short, we ended up 15 minutes late for our own reception and had guests waiting to find out what table they were at!

I wish that was the only snafu during the day.  Our videographer (otherwise known as my maid of honor) ended up taking only about 5 minutes of footage at the reception (ironic since I now own a company which creates online photo and video wedding products), the late night snacks we paid extra for (our reception went until 1am) ended up in the lobby where nobody knew to get them, and a handful of other small things that I wish I hadn't had to deal with.

After spending so much time and effort to put together my dream wedding it would have been nice to relax and enjoy the day, instead of coordinating last minute details. Don't get me wrong, I still had a fantastic time at my wedding, how could I not with a live bar band? But, it would have been well worth the money to have a professional coordinator like Five Grain Events make everything go smoothly.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work, stress, and costs a lot of money.  Not hiring a day of coordinator seems like a great way to meet your budget, but in the end you can't compare the benefits of knowing everything is in good hands so you can really appreciate and enjoy the biggest day of your life.
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Wedding gifts for the couple who has everything

Despite the 90+ degree weather, we know that when August appears, fall is just around the corner!   At least in the midwest, Wedding Season: Part Two starts just about this time, so I thought we'd discuss...THE REGISTRY.



It's funny because wedding guests seem to have very strong feelings one way or another about a gift registry.  They never buy from the registry or they always do.  I have to say I'm in the usually camp.  :) I'm ok with going off-registry, but only for the right reasons.  A major warning signal is when I hear comments like, "I looked on their registry and didn't like anything on it, so I'm buying them something better."  Um...if your tastes don't match up, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU CAN PICK SOMETHING OUT THEY WILL LIKE???  I digress...

But what about when you don't have a choice?  By the time you get around to buying a gift, there are two items left:  a $1,500 couch or a single oven mitt.  Or, as is the case with some couples, they just don't have a registry.  Hmm...

Here are a few of my "go to" ideas for when a gift registry just isn't an option (and brides-to-be take note, too, some good ideas for alternative registries follow!).

Art Museum Gift Shop
The Art Institute of Chicago gift shop has some of the most beautiful home decor and serving pieces I've ever come across, and I've included a few samples here.  Warning:  only go this route if you feel confident you understand the couple's style well enough to pick out something they would like!


C
Art Institute of Chicago Museum Shop


Honeymoon Help
Everyone wants to have the honeymoon of their dreams, but sometimes pocketbooks don't allow it!  A great surprise for a couple would be to arrive at their hotel greeted by a bonus massage or delicious dinner on your tab.  There are honeymoon registries that couples can sign up for which allow them to actually write out the wish-list for honeymoon activities.  Then, guests can just sign up for a specific item to purchase for you.  (Brides and grooms, honeymoon gifts are the easiest thank you notes to write!).  The two I've had experience with are honeyfund.com and honeyluna.com.


Honeyfund.com




Charitable Donation
justgive.org

 A wonderful way to honor the couple who has everything is via a donation to their favorite charity.  Through the I Do Foundation or JustGive.org, the couple can actually register for the charities they want their guests to give to!  If they haven't done the work for you, you can do a little reconnaissance to figure out what their favorite charity is and make a donation in the couple's honor.  Another great option is a new non-profit called Wish Upon a Wedding which provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-altering circumstances. 

www.wishuponawedding.org

 Of course, these are only a few options of ideas for going off of the registry...what is your favorite "go to" wedding gift?
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Megan and Aaron's Wedding 06.19.10

Five Grain Events coordinated a fantastic wedding at Salvage One in June.  My colleague, Sara, was lead coordinator so I've asked her to describe their gorgeous wedding here.  Luckily we have Laura Witherow Photography's stunning photos to help tell the story :)

Megan and Aaron wanted their wedding to be an incredibly fun garden party, and that is exactly what they had.  June 19th was hot, hot, HOT; but the evening was beautiful and their guests danced until midnight!  They were such a fun couple and it was definitely reflected in their day.  They had a large bridal party (9 on each side!!) who were all of the same mindset.  It was destined to be a blast :).



Both the ceremony and reception were held at Salvage One, an incredible event space with TONS of character located in the West Town neighborhood.  Megan and Aaron saw each other for the first time dressed in their wedding regalia at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Chicago before heading to Salvage One for photos outside.



Their outdoor ceremony was simple and beautiful--and the Rabbi kept the guests entertained in the heat.  The flowers and chuppah were created by the ever-more-talented Fleur, and were absolutely stunning (my favorite was her bouquet).




As soon as the ceremony was over, the party began!  During the extended cocktail hour downstairs, my assistant and I put the finishing touches on the reception area upstairs.  Kim and her team from Limelight set up the food stations to be ready as soon as the hungry guests arrived.  Megan and Aaron chose to do themed small plate stations, going with the party atmosphere, and the food looked and tasted amazing!

During the reception there were heartfelt speeches from the family as well as the bride and groom.  The band, Josh and the Empty Pockets, kept the dance floor hoppin' throughout the night.  At the end of the evening, the guests left with a very useful favor: a bottle of hot sauce.

 

It was an amazing wedding and a memorable evening.  Congratulations Megan and Aaron!




All pictures courtesy of Laura Witherow Photography.

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