Honeymoon Registry

Some of the couples that I work with already live together and have already created a home.  They do not need household items like furniture and kitchen supplies.  They may already have bought beautiful pieces of furniture for their home that they have little interest in replacing.  Considering the size of the average New York City apartment, they do not want more items that they have little storage for.  For these couples, I like to suggest doing a honeymoon registry.  If you use sites like Honeyfund, you can create your own gift registry with items like flights, hotels, romantic champagne dinners and activities like scuba diving, zip lining or hiking.  For the larger budget items, you can portion them into reasonable amounts.  Perhaps it will allow you to visit nicer restaurants or stay at more luxurious hotels than you were originally planning to.  The gifts are paid directly to you.  When you write your thank you notes, you can tell your guests about your experiences and how much you enjoyed their gift.

Image via Amanyara

Tips on Choosing a Wedding Planner

A wedding planner may be assisting you right from the beginning of the planning process and involved in finding your location, choosing your vendors and helping you create a wedding that reflects you as a couple.  Or they may be working with you later in the planning process and handling coordination of the wedding day.  Either way, you end up working very closely with them, so trying to find the right person is very important.  In my opinion a great wedding planner is organized, diligent, detail oriented, very personable, great at multi-tasking, tasteful and has the ability to remain calm and excel under pressure.Aside looking through wedding blogs and magazines, ask for referrals from friends, family, your venue or your wedding vendors.  Your wedding photographer or floral designer may have worked with wedding planners in the past that they think highly of that they can recommend to you.  If a wedding planner is not available for your date, you could ask them for recommendations of others.

Read reviews of the wedding planner from previous clients.  You can find these on independent websites like WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and Yelp.com.  Alternatively ask for contact details of past clients that you can speak with to learn about their experiences.

Take a look at their body of work on their website, blog and Facebook page.  If they have a similar aesthetic to you, it will help the process when they are recommending vendors like floral designers, photographers, rental companies and invitation designers.  I feel you can learn a lot about a person from reading their blog, Facebook pages or Tweets.  If they are actively using these platforms, their personality and style easily show through.  See whether they have any notable press or accolades.  Some vendor lists are more like advertising, where vendors pay to be on them.  There is nothing wrong with this at all.  Many wonderful vendors use different platforms to advertise.  There are also some vendor lists, which are hand picked and invitation only.  This is just something to consider if you are looking through vendor lists.

Most importantly meet with the wedding planner.  If you do not live in the same city as the planner, set up a call or a Skype video chat with them.  I have had Skype video chats with clients that live on the west coast, but are planning their wedding in New York, and looking for a New York based wedding planner.  You likely end up talking to your planner more than any of your other wedding vendors.  They are so involved in every step of planning your wedding.  It still feels strange to me after the wedding when the emails and calls stop.  I get so used to speaking with my clients weekly or even daily leading up to the wedding.  You need to make sure that you get along well with them personally, that they understand your vision for the wedding and that you can see this person working intimately with you.  Essentially you need to be able to trust this person to execute your wedding, so that all you need to do is enjoy your wedding day, and not have to worry about any of the nitty gritty details.  Let them deal with all that.

Ask plenty of questions during the meeting.  You should find out whom you will be communicating with during the planning process up to the wedding day.  Who is in charge of planning your wedding and who will be managing everything the actual day of the wedding?  Ask them if they take more than one wedding on a single day, and if so, who will be working on yours.  If you have a large wedding or multiple locations, discuss how many team members will be present that day.  Will the planner be running the ceremony rehearsal, which is sometimes the day before the wedding?  If you are planning a breakfast or brunch after the wedding, and you want them to assist in setting up, will they be available?  On the wedding day when will they start and when will they leave?  Find out how much experience they have in planning weddings and their professional background.  Request a detailed list of services and if they do not include something that you are looking for, ask if it can be added.

At the end of the day you want to find someone that speaks your language and gets you.  That will be the right person to have beside you on your wedding day.

Helpful Hint: Collecting Mailing Addresses

In this digital age, your wedding may be the only time you ever need to ask your friends and family for their mailing addresses.  It can be a somewhat tedious task, especially if you have a large guest list.  A new website called Postable aims to make that job much easier and is free of charge.  Signing up takes barely a minute and this creates a personal url that you can copy and email to your wedding guests.  Using your personal link, your guests enter their mailing addresses and an address book is populated for you.  When you log back into your account, you can export the addresses to Excel, or as a CSV file for Gmail, your Apple address book, or your Microsoft Outlook address book.  The nice format in Excel also means you can pass this on to your wedding stationery designer with little additional work.  Postable even gives you an option to print the address labels yourself.  What a great idea!

Image by 1Canoe2 via Paper Crave

Planning your Wedding Day Time Line

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt from Summer Street Photography when he was the second shooter for Chennergy, at our St Bart's and Per Se wedding last year.  Ever since, I have been following Matt and Kendra's work, which I really adore.  They find such beautiful places to photograph and their portraits are stunning.  Anybody who can eat lobster rolls daily is a kindred spirit in my books (check out their sweet Venn diagram).Matt and Kendra have recently been getting a lot of questions about how their clients should schedule their wedding day time lines and make the most of their photography. The main question being whether the couple should do a first look before the ceremony or not.  They asked a few of their past clients to write about their experiences.  Kendra was kind enough to ask me for my thoughts from a wedding planner's perspective, which I was honoured to add.  They also give some great advice from the photographer's point of view.  If this is something that you are still trying to decide, grab a coffee, and have a read here.

Photography by Summer Street Photography

Getting Ready at a Hotel

Images of the Bride getting ready surrounded by her bridal party and close family often create my favourite images of the wedding.  There is so much excitement and anticipation in the air.Think about what you want the background to look like when your Bridesmaids are helping you into your gown.  Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a beautiful spacious home with huge windows and plenty of light.  If not, consider booking a hotel room to get ready at.  Talk to your planner or your photographer and ask them for hotel recommendations.

It is so nice for the bridal party to relax together in a suite as everyone gets their hair and makeup done.  You can order room service for lunch and maybe a little champagne to start the celebration early.  Many of these hotels will have interesting backdrops where you can do your first look and bride and groom portraits.

The hotel will clean the room after everyone has left for the wedding and the Bride and Groom will have a nice hotel room to come back to that night.  It seems a little more special to me than just going back home.  Perhaps you can also host the after party at the hotel bar and then stroll back to your room at the end of the night.

A lot of my clients schedule their honeymoon a few weeks after the wedding.  Treat yourself to a nice hotel room for the wedding night and have breakfast in bed the morning after.

The penthouse suite at the Thompson LES

Image via Thompson LES

Helpful Hint - Clean Your Engagement Ring

Give your engagement ring a good clean before the wedding day.  You can soak it in some warm water with mild liquid detergent and give it a scrub with a soft tooth brush.  Jewelry stores also provide special solutions for you to soak and scrub your ring with.  I sometimes forget to remove my ring when I'm cooking or using moisturizer, which leaves dirt on it.  When I am in the neighbourhood, I try to pop by Ultimate Jewelry Designs where my husband bought my ring.  They clean my ring for me so much better than I can do myself.Susan Stripling takes stunning ring shots.  Get your ring ready for its photo by getting it sparkly and shiny for the wedding.

Susan_stripling_rings

Photography by Susan Stripling Photography