Archive for April, 2010

Outdoor Ceremonies in Chicago

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

We’ve had amazing weather this week in Chicago. This reminds me of all the outdoor ceremonies we will be seeing in the next couple of months. If you are having an outdoor ceremony there are a few things you need to keep in mind…

A. Have a plan B (not so pretty outside) and make sure you love it as much as Plan A.

B. Make sure you have amplified sound, after all your guests really want to hear you exchange your vows along with enjoying the amazing weather.

C. If you have chosen to get married at one of the Chicago Parks you will need a permit.  Make sure someone (aka… the planner) has a copy of it handy because the city inspector will ask for it on the spot. No permit = no ceremony.

D. Provide chairs for your guests. If you can’t afford chairs for all of your guests, at least provide chairs for the immediate family and anyone who should be seated during long periods such as the elderly, handicapped guests and pregnant women.

E. If you know it will be a hot day, make sure that you provide water for your guests.

Dirt Cheap Vendors

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

As part of my job I make a point to visit new vendors and make sure they are qualified for the job. Earlier this week I decided to do just that and visit a few vendors other planners were raving about. For one of these vendors the price was alluringly low and as one planner said “you just can’t pass it up”.

I must say that what I saw reminded me of my old job as a project manager in construction, were ten-year old relationships didn’t mean a thing, because five other vendors could provide the client with the same exact item specified and we would let the vendors slash their price til we could get it for what I call “dirt cheap”. The problem with dirt cheap is that there was always a catch. No matter how many scope meetings I had with the vendor to make sure he had everything in their proposal, that they knew the construction schedule or be in line with the contract terms, when it came time to perform at the jobsite…..something ALWAYS went amiss. Maybe it was that the vendor got the product two weeks later (throwing everyone’s schedule off and in construction that means major money!), or the quality that we wanted wasn’t there. In the end, the two people that really suffered was the ultimate client (usually in commercial construction there is a developer and the ultimate client the tenant) because they got a subpar product and the project manager (aka. me) dealt with a lot of stress trying to “whip” the dirt cheap vendor into shape, but somehow the developer never heard about it because they never cared, they just paid a low price.

What does this have to do with wedding planning? Dirt cheap vendors are alluring, they are in every industry, come in every vendor category and the event/wedding industry is no exception. How can you pass up on that rental chair that is going for half the price. But somewhere along the  planning you will pay the price. It may be with money hiring a new vendor on the day of the event (with the rush fee added on!), the time spent to fix the mess or from the stress of unreturned phone calls.  I’m not saying go hire the most expensive vendor out there, I’m saying hire the most competitive vendor for your budget and the most qualified for the job. I could go on and on about dirt cheap vendors, one thing is for sure it always hurts the industry and ultimately the client. If it’s too good to be true… it is.

Wish Upon a Wedding ~ First Wedding Wish Granted in Chicago

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

I wanted to give everyone a little peek into my Sunday afternoon….Beth and Nick got married today in a beautiful wedding that was made possible by Wish Upon a Wedding and our wish granters ~ Gerber & Scarpelli, Take the Cake, Giovani’s Restaurant, Chicago Trolley, I Do Films, The Bridal Mansion in Lisle, Bill Pollack Music, Takohl Jewelry, Starlight Makeup, Lorenzo’s Tuxedos, Holiday Inn Express Joliet, Frost Lighting, Shutterbooth Chicago, CW Designs, Blumen Floral & Event Design, Bliss Weddings & Events, Anita Weds and Chicago Party Rentals. I was interviewed by CBS Chicago about the organization and how to get involved. It feels great to be part of such a wonderful organization. Click on the link below to see today’s coverage of the wedding.

To learn more about Wish Upon A Wedding and get involved please visit their website

Unique Venue ~ Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Friday, April 16th, 2010

When clients ask me what are your favorite Chicago venues, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Grainger Ballroom always comes to mind. This beautiful ballroom has what I like to call character. Not only does it have high ceilings, views of Michigan Avenue and beautifully embellished crystal chandeliers but it’s also located right across the street from Grant Park. A quick trip to the park with your entire wedding party post-ceremony for pictures is just a breeze.

It is one of Chicago’s little secrets and only a select few can get married at this location. No, you don’t have to be a member you just have to have the “right” wedding date.  Any knowledgeable (aka. the pros!) wedding planner in Chicago would know the answer to this little trivia.

Photo Credit: Gerber & Scarpelli

Food Presentation ~ Quick Fire Post

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

When it comes to food, it truly is all about presentation that makes the food look appealing to the eye before the guests starts to “dig in”. Too many things thrown in a small plate can makes things look crowded. It is certainly one of the many things to look at when meeting with potential caterers…. It is a great question to ask ” how do they present their food? ”

I wanted to show you this picture. It’s from a summer wedding. My clients Vanessa and Michael decided a sorbet course was in order as we knew it was going to be a warm summer day (that August weekend when Lollapalooza weekend occurs always seems to be that way). We asked our caterer Limelight to provide a unique way of presenting the sorbet course that our guests have never seen before. The chef at Limelight came up with a presentation of an ice bowl as a vessel to hold the sorbet. Not only was it fun for the guests but it also kept the sorbet… cold.

Food Presentation matters!

Photo Credit: Glen Abog

Destination Weddings ~ The one question I forgot to ask…..

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

This week I talked about the questions that you should ask of your destination vendors and I wanted to leave with a little note about lessons learned and a little “moral” to the story.

Two years back I planned a destination wedding out in Los Cabos, Mexico. My client and I finalized on the location scouting and she wanted to hire a saxophonist to play a special song for her bridal processional. Luckly, a local saxophonist played once a week at the hotel’s restaurant. So the hotel knew him well, and he came highly recommended from his references. We decided to stop by the restaurant that evening to hear him play. He was great, he really was. We met him the next day to go over the music and ask him….a few questions. It was clear he could play music, he knew a lot of songs, perfect. He didn’t know how to play my client’s special song, but no problem we would send him the sheet music for him to learn two months prior to the wedding. I confirmed that he received it and would be ready to play on the day of the wedding. The day of the wedding comes around, he couldn’t play the song at all. Because the ONE question I didn’t ask was ” Do you know how to read sheet music?” The saxophonist knew how to play because he learned from hearing the songs vs. reading sheet music. In my view he shouldn’t even be called a musician because someone that plays music should know how to read music quite well, learn a piece and play it. If we were in Chicago that wouldn’t have been a question to ask. Because the professional musicians here in Chicago who do this for a living know to read music. Thankfully, I came prepared and had my client’s song in a burned DVD in case something happened and it did.

The moral of the story is… be prepared for the unexpected and always have a backup plan, because you may need it.

Photo Credit: Riverbend Studio