Archive for November, 2009

Real Wedding ~ Doris and Dan

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I had the pleasure of working with Doris and Dan on a crisp November morning a few weeks back. Dan proposed to Doris using scrabble so we decided to have a little fun with it throughout their wedding. The ceremony and reception took place at the Chicago Park District’s Garfield Park Conservatory. With so many plants and trees it’s a great place to escape when the weather starts turning cold and the perfect place to take pictures after the ceremony.

A delicious buffet was provided by Jewell Events Catering. Florals were provided by April Joy Events were ikebana centerpieces mixed Doris modern flair with her southern roots. Afterwards everyone danced the night away by the sounds provided by Mark from Entertainment Media Management.

The day was captured by the amazing Liz and Emily at Orange 2 Photo. Without further ado here is a slideshow created by Orange 2 Photo. Doris and Dan, it was a pleasure to work with both of you. Congratulations on your wedding!

Cutting wedding costs ~ you can still have an elegant wedding

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

You got engaged (Wooo Hooo!!!) and are ready to jumpstart the wedding planning. You and your fiance have set a budget aside but looking into a few vendors have realized the wedding of your dreams might be a bit more you are willing to spend. There are ways to tighten the belt in order to have an elegant wedding. My advise to you is pick one or two items that are important to you and focus your money on these. Otherwise, here are a few ways to save all around and still have an elegant wedding.

Cut the guest list ~ This is the easiest way to bring down your overall costs but also the hardest one. A good way to cut the guest list is asking yourself A. Have I talked / corresponded with this person during the last year? B. Would I invite this person to dinner at my home? If the answer is no, it’s time to cross them off the list.

Invitations & Programs ~ There is nothing like receiving a beautiful letterpress invitation for a wedding. But if stationery is not the place were you want to focus your budget then you can live with off set printed invitations. A great place for this is WeddingPaperDivas they have a great selection and very reasonable prices. Forgo the programs, usually by the time the ceremony rolls around the information in them is incorrect. If you do decide to go ahead with them, go for a pretty paper color on a heavy card stock and pint enough programs for half of your guests.

Photography ~ A good way to cut your photography costs are asking the photographer if it’s possible to have him/her shoot the wedding and provide you with the high resolution files OR ask if they can wait a few months after the wedding to look into purchasing an album which is one of the items that can drive the price. Waiting a few months after the wedding gives you a chance to save money and get a great album. I do caution all brides on cutting your photography costs. Please do not skimp on your photographer, hire the best photographer that you can afford. As my good friend Rick Aguilar always reminds my clients “After the wedding is over, the flowers have wilted and the food eaten all you will have is pictures” And he is right!

Beverage ~ Offer a limited bar of beer and wine and offer your guests a signature drink upon their arrival to the cocktail hour. It’s a great way to greet your guests and trust me, nobody will complain why the Stoli wasn’t flowing like a river.

Food at the Reception ~ If you want to save money on the catering serve a choice of entree in lieu of a duo plate. And don’t be afraid to serve a chicken entree at the wedding. Ask for a bone in chicken breast which will stay juicy and will have more flavor than one without. If done properly by the caterer this can be an excellent choice. Forgo expensive rentals and glasses nobody will remember if the place settings were made out of gold. Ask your caterer to show you the standard options. Most of the time they are in great conditions and will work just as well.

Florals ~ I’m a big believer in reusing flowers! Go ahead and go for the beautiful personal flowers. You can ask your florist to put a few empty vases at a few of the tables and re use the bouquets as centerpieces. Go for the altar arrangements and re use them for the escort card table or at a food display. Use candles if the venue allows them. They go a long way if done correctly as a centerpiece with a few loose blooms.

Wedding Cake ~ Forgo the fondant and overly done hand piping. They look gorgeous but tend to drive the price as it’s labor intensive. Go with a buttercream cake with a very simple design of swiss dots and decorate it with a few fresh blooms. If you are serving the cake as a dessert course opt for a small tiered cake (instead of a five or six tier stunner) and ask the baker to provide sheet cakes that can be cut and plated in the kitchen. Nobody will know the difference.

Other ways to save ~ Consider having the wedding in the off season. In Chicago, that usually is between January to April. Yes the weather is not so great, but who cares with the money you will save you will be able to stay a few extra days at your honeymoon.

Have the ceremony and reception at the same location and save on transportation costs. In addition, you can easily reuse your centerpieces as aisle decorations.

Get married earlier in the day and opt for an elegant afternoon tea or brunch with lots of mimosas and bellinis.

I’m all for a gorgeous wedding but remember not to get caught up in the moment. Don’t forget what the wedding is all about. Let me remind you, it’s about you and your fiance uniting in marriage…the food, the florals, the show stopping gown they are all icing on the cake.

Food and Beverage Minimums ~ What does that mean?

Friday, November 13th, 2009

If you are going to book a hotel for your wedding reception I’m sure you’ve heard… “You are looking at a Food and Beverage Minimum (F &B) in the amount of $”. What exactly does that mean? Ohhhh yes, the food and beverage minimum question. Let me answer this in simple terms.

Let’s say you have fallen in love with a gorgeous ballroom at a Hotel in Chicago, and their catering manager tells you their Food and Beverage (F & B) minimum is $25,000 for the date of your wedding. It means that in order for the hotel to let you book their ballroom space you agree to spend no less than $25,000 on the food and drink. Note (big note!) that I say only “Food and Drink”. F & B does not take into account things like taxes, gratuity, audio visual, or the ceremony fee if you were to have your ceremony at the hotel. Those are all items that are an additional cost so you need to factor them into your final costs to determine if the wedding reception of your dreams is within your budget. What happens if you don’t have the amount of guests you originally expected? If you do not meet your F & B minimum because you didn’t have the amount of guests you originally expected then you will need to upgrade or add a few items to meet the minimum, thus fulfilling your end of the deal. Remember it’s always easier to negotiate on the front end of a contract. Once a contract has been signed your ability to negotiate costs and additional items will diminish.

Hip Venues ~ Zhou B Art Center

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Two weeks ago I had the change to visit the Zhou B (pronounced “Jo B”) Art Center on the city’s southwest side. Donna Bliss gave us a tour of the space. The Zhou B Art Center is a mix of art galleries, art studios in addition to 20,000 square feet of event space nestled in two levels. It’s the perfect venue for the couple who wants a loft space with lots of natural light, tall ceilings and is looking for a white canvas to decorate and make their own. I loved the space, it has a lot of potential for a cocktail party with food stations and a great band or you can do a sit down dinner for 300 guests and still have enough room for a dance floor.

Photo Credit: Mark White from Mark White Photography

Photo Credit: Mark White from Mark White Photography

Indian Weddings ~ The Groom’s Processional and the Milni

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

After an auspicious wedding date and time has been set and all the rituals are performed prior the wedding day. The celebration begins with the Groom’s Processional also known as the baraat.


Traditionally, the groom leaves for the wedding venue in an elephant (you read that correctly…but since they don’t seem to rent those in Chicago) a white horse is used. Or you can have a little fun with the groom’s mode of transportation and do a Segway. The horse (Segway or elephant) is decorated and the groom wears a long jacket, a turban and trousers, which is the traditional outfit for the wedding ceremony.

Indian Weddings ~ Pre Ceremony Rituals

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Today we will talk about pre ceremony rituals that take place prior to the start of an indian wedding ceremony.

This is a ceremony where the both the bride and groom are covered in a yellow powder (made out of chickpea flour, turmeric, rose water along with a few other items) that is made into paste. The bride and groom have their own ceremonies at their respective homes and usually invite their close family and friends. The Pithi is used to cleanse the bride and groom before the wedding day…. Family members end to have a little fun with this paste and end up covering the bride and groom from head to toe. The good news is that the bride and groom have a healthy glow prior to the wedding as the paste is good for their skin.

Mandap Mahurat
The Pundit (also known as the indian priest) performs this puja in the bride and groom’s homes before the wedding. The families pray to Lord Ganesh and seek His blessings.

The groom arrives at the bride’s house to seek the blessings of his mother-in-law. He must bow his head and clutch his nose. This gesture symbolises his understanding of the tremendous sacrifice that his bride is about to make. She will be leaving her family, changing her last name and taking on the responsibilities of being his wife. The groom’s future mother-in-law blesses him and performs a small ritual to ward off the evil eye.

Tomorrow we will talk about one of my favorites parts of an indian ceremony…. the groom’s processional, also known as the baraat. We will talk about the music, who is involved in the baraat and also the groom’s form of “transportation”. We will also discuss the Milni were the parents of the bride formally welcome the groom and his family.