March 24, 2015

How to Balance an Uneven Wedding Party

I’m thrilled to be quoted yet again, this time on how to arrange your wedding party when there is an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.  


What’s a bride to do when she wants more (or less) bridesmaids than her groom wants groomsmen? Well, for one, stop freaking out and start looking at the positives. Not only will you have all the girls you adore by your side on your big day, but you also won’t feel pressured into adding or subtracting people simply to ensure your numbers match. For brides-to-be with an uneven wedding party, here’s how to strike the perfect balance seamlessly.

1. Go solo or double up
If the walking in and out of the ceremony part has you stressed out, relax; you’ve got a couple of cute options. You can either let your attendants strut their stuff solo or have each groomsmen walk with two bridesmaids (or vice versa if there are more groomsmen), advises San Francisco-based event planner Samantha Spector of Milk & Honey Special Events. Of course, you can adjust how many people in your wedding party need to double up based on your particular numbers. Plan on having your pooch walk down the aisle? You could always match up the dog lover in the bigger group with your pup.

2. Get creative with spacing
Trick the camera and your guests into thinking your numbers are actually even by using space to your advantage. During the ceremony, Spector suggests having the side with fewer attendants spread out, creating extra space in between each person, while the side with more attendants stands closer together. “This would make each side a similar length,” she explains. “Some couples also opt to have their attendants seated in the front rows instead of standing alongside them.”

…read more on BRIDES.

March 18, 2015

5 Simple Things Wedding Guests Appreciate

I’m thrilled to have some of my wedding advice featured in a recent article in BRIDES!

Details-Guests-Wont-Notice (1)

One of the key elements to throwing a kickass wedding is making sure your guests have the time of their lives. So do away with the long, yawn-inducing speeches and never ending wait times, and turn things up a notch or two with a party that keeps everyone dancing, interacting and on their feet.

  1. Keep things moving and on schedule
    If you’ve ever watched Say Yes To The Dress then you know how annoyed guests get when they have to wait forever between events or when certain elements of the wedding drag on for what feels like forever to them. For instance, your cocktail hour should be 45 minutes to an hour and no longer than that, notes Annie Lee, principal planner and founder of Daughter of Design. As for dinner, “We never let there be more than 30 minutes without something happening,” she says.
  2. Layer activities
    Attention spans can be pretty short at weddings so layering activities is always a win-win for everyone. Lee suggests breaking up speeches for each course and waiting until the last guest has their plate to begin to talk. “Never require guests to give you more than 20 minutes of pure, unadulterated attention, even at the ceremony if at all feasible.”… Read more on BRIDES.
February 19, 2015

Cutting Down the Bar Tab

Bar Post (Blog) Collage
The bar is a pretty important component of many parties, so hosts are understandably nervous when it comes to cutting costs in this category. When the budget calls for it, here are some ways to cut down the tab without sacrificing the enjoyment of your guests.

Find the right venue.
Probably the most important factor in dictating the final cost of your bar tab is the venue. Choosing one that allows you to bring your own booze means that you can take advantage of some of the warehouse store deals, like BevMo’s 50 cent wine sale (essentially a two for one offer on certain bottles). If you go this route, you can either hire a bartender through a staffing company or your caterer can provide that service, usually for an hourly fee.

Keep the menu to wine, beer and a few signature drinks.
You can even make one of those drinks a Champagne based cocktail, like a Kir Royale or a Bellini and use less expensive sparkling wine.

If you are getting married at a venue providing the alcohol, make sure it is actually cheaper to cut out mixed drinks before doing so.  Sometimes a venue charges similar pricing for cocktails as for glasses of wine, so there is really no reason to limit the bar.

Choose wisely.
Serve Prosecco or another less expensive sparkling wine instead of Champagne. And when it comes to cocktails, keep the liquor options to the venue’s well drinks versus the more premium options.

Time appropriately.
Offer your signature drinks or open bar during cocktail hour, then switch to a more limited bar once dinner starts. Or have your wedding during the daytime when guests tend to drink less.

Talk with the catering department.
Ask them to open bottles only as needed, fill wine glasses upon request only and clear drinks only if they are done or clearly abandoned.

January 29, 2015

The Wedding Welcome Mat

Welcome Bag Collage

Purchase these bags at

I’m pulling up to a hotel after a lengthy flight or drive (or both) and the following thought crosses my mind, “I wonder if there’s a welcome bag waiting for me!”.   Maybe it’s not something most people think of or care about, but I’ve heard from more than a few people over the years that they also love receiving a welcome bag when they get into town for a wedding. In fact, I still remember a welcome basket that awaited my family in our hotel room when I went to my cousin’s wedding – when I was 7! It included cookies and a coloring book just for me. Clearly it had an impact.

I’ve been working on a welcome bag for one of my clients and thought I would share some tips.

First Impressions
The bag should go along with the design scheme for the wedding.   While it’s always an option to spend more on a custom canvas tote, it’s not necessary. Why not try a gift bag that fits your color scheme and print some labels to stick on the front? Or a tag? Add some ribbon or raffia and some tissue and make it look like the gift that it is.

  • An itinerary is a must. Help your guests get to the ceremony on time by including the day, time, location and directions for each activity during your wedding weekend. It’s also thoughtful to include a list of things to do and places to dine in the area.
  • Bottled water is a good choice, since some hotels charge for it these days.
  • When it comes to snack, I like to include fruit, something salty and something sweet. Try to make at least on of the items something local from where the wedding is taking place or a meaningful place.

If you have room in your budget to do a little more, adding a bottle of wine is a great idea. And giving your bag a cohesive look by matching the label or tag on the outside with the itinerary and info inside makes it look much nicer. You get extra credit for adding your own custom labels to the water and treats inside.

January 15, 2015

Getting creative with your wedding budget

Stretching your wedding budgetFor many couples, the venue is the first major decision in their wedding planning process.

So, what do you do if you absolutely fall in love with a venue, but you aren’t sure your budget will cover it? The answer is to cut back on areas that aren’t as much of a priority to make up the difference. That’s what my clients did to create a truly magical wedding in the venue of their dreams, San Francisco’s historic Bently Reserve.

One of the benefits of a venue with stately architecture, like the Bently Reserve, is that décor can be kept to a minimum without sacrificing an elegant and impressive environment. A gorgeous blush colored drape hung behind the couple as they said their vows and, aside from the table décor, was the only addition to the room. The venue has built-in lighting options, so the couple could choose from many colors and intensities for uplighting. They chose a soft yellow during the ceremony and a more energizing purple for the reception.

Azalea trees in brushed gold pots topped with moss were placed behind the ceremony seating among flameless votive candles. Each tree cost about $12 and they set a romantic scene, as well as making the ceremony space smaller and more intimate within the vast room. The trees and votives were moved to each table as centerpieces for the reception. Another option would be to rent topiaries.

As a reference to the groom’s profession as a chef at one of San Francisco’s top restaurants, each table was named after a different herb – Sage, Thyme, etc. Next to each table name was a small vase holding sprigs of that very herb. Also fitting were the favors set on each place setting, a small bottle of olive oil.

Given that the groom is a chef, great food was another top priority. The first course was a soup prepared by caterer, Elaine Bell, according to a recipe from the groom’s grandmother. Guests were treated to cupcakes prepared by the pastry chef at the groom’s restaurant.

Especially because of the gorgeous architecture, the bride and groom wanted to keep flowers simple and limited to bouquets and boutonnieres. They didn’t want to spend a lot on a high-end florist and opted, instead, to order them through their local grocery store’s floral department. Let’s just say we were all very impressed with the simple, classic and professional job when the flowers arrived!

The take away from this wedding is that you can save quite a bit on your wedding décor with a little creativity, research and flexibility when it comes to the end result.

January 6, 2015

Wedding Favors… Unfavorable?

Wedding Favors IdeasI can’t tell you how many times I have heard the same thing from my clients. “We don’t want to spend money on silly little tchotchkes no one cares about”. I tend to agree with them. There are, however, exceptions. I thought I would feature 5 types of favors that wedding guests tend to love.

  1. Something delicious
    This is an obvious one. Who doesn’t love a treat? This could be a personal or family favorite or something produced in the region the wedding is taking place, like a small bottle of local honey or olive oil.
  2. Lighten the mood
    Give something that will make for great photo ops, regardless of whether it will be used again. This could be sunglasses given before the ceremony, single-use cameras for after dinner or mini champagne with straws (something to note: Don’t put the straws into already opened bottles. Most of the decorative straws are made of paper and start to disintegrate in liquid pretty quickly. Instead, tie a straw to each bottle or display them nearby.).
  3. A treat for the next morning
    Coffee from a favorite roastery or scones and jam.
  4. A small experience
    A kit to make your own version of the signature drink would be fun (i.e. a muddler, mint, small bottle of rum and packet of sugar for mojito) or a Smore’s kit. These types of favors can also be more extravagant, like a wine glass with someone on site etching each guests name.  I once went to a party where this was done and everyone loved it.
  5. Double Duty
    You can always give your gift at the end of the night as everyone heads out the door or you can get a little more out of your gift by using your them as escort cards by adding a tag with each guest’s name and table assignment. Or get the most out of your dessert bar by adding take away containers.

You will have a lot more than you think on your to do list the weeks leading up to your big day (unless, of course, you hire me;). For this reason I recommend staying away from homemade items or anything too DIY. And do everyone and your wallet a favor and skip the tchotchkes!