wedding planning

Plans for a rainy day

Every bride envisions beautiful weather for her wedding day, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Rain doesn’t have to ruin a wedding day—unless you are planning on tying the knot in an open field or on a beach. There are many ways to prepare for rain on your wedding day and make the best of an uncontrollable situation.

It’s best to create a rain plan ahead of time so you know exactly what you are going to do if inclement weather is forecasted. Not only does the plan avoid last minute decisions, it will reduce your pre-wedding anxieties because a plan is in place ready to be executed.  Here are some solutions to consider when creating a rain plan:

It may be possible to delay the ceremony for a few minutes if there is just a passing shower. Once the rain passes, the fresh dew on the grass and the wet air may create a translucent fog perfect for intimate photographs.  You might even get lucky with the appearance of a rainbow! Waiting for the rain to stop allows you to continue with your original planned ceremony site. You don’t have to change a single detail, you may just need to rehearse you vows for another thirty minutes!

 

 

Walking in wet grass can ruin shoes and even ruin long dresses.   Changing your ceremony site to the terrace can alleviate those problems.  With the lovely view of the vista as a backdrop and a beautiful floral arch as the focal point, everything will be intimate and beautiful. With the white resin chairs and a unique aisle runner to show off your style, no one will know that you moved your location.

 

 

Tenting the terrace is always an option if your heart is set on an outside ceremony.  You get the outdoor ambiance without worrying about getting wet. The tent is a beautiful accessory for a rainy day as it allows for an outdoor ceremony, cocktails and dancing, even in inclement weather.  Arrangements for tents must be made in advance. It is best to call rental companies to determine what lead time they need and what their cancellation policies are if you decide you don’t need the tent.

 

 

There are times when the only alternative is to move the ceremony indoors. One of the ballrooms can be utilized as the ceremony space for your wedding day. With the mantle and fireplace as your back drop or a gorgeous arch if you desire, everything will come together seamlessly. You may have up to 120 chairs for designated seating for special guests. The rest of your guests will stand around and watch the ceremony unfold before their eyes.  Saying “I do.” In the loggia is also an option.  The center doors can be opened and guests will still be able to view the vista.

 

 

A fun way to incorporate rain on your wedding day is to utilize umbrellas in your photos.  Coordinate the colors of the umbrellas to match  your shoes or your bridesmaid dresses.  Your pictures will look unique and the colors will match the rest of the bridal party.

Rain doesn’t have to ruin your wedding day.  Your family and friends have come to celebrate your special day, and they will be watching your smiles and not the clouds.

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How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion – Part 2 & 3

(click here to read Part 1)

Part 2:  The Rest of the Reception—DJs-Décor-Music

 

There is more to a wedding reception than just the venue and the food and beverage.  Regardless of where you get married you will spend money on wedding flowers, djs/bands, photography, and your wedding cake if it isn’t included in the catering package.

This week I read a blog, called “How to have a wedding for $5,000.”  I won’t include that link as I thought it was pretty foolish.  It is easy to brag about how inexpensive your wedding was when half of the services were donated by friends and you fed your guests from a food truck. [Don’t get me wrong I like food trucks, but it isn’t my idea of a wedding.] I will adhere to the philosophy that you get what you pay for—unless all your friends donating services are wedding professionals.

 

MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT: 

I reached out to a DJ this week and asked him to send me some bullet points on what separates the great DJs from the neophytes that are happy to do your wedding for $600.  The best DJs:

  • Know what to play and when. An experienced DJ has the ability to read the crowd and know when things need to be changed. Crucial decisions are made every 2 to 3 minutes – “Will this song work?” – He/she needs to be able to mix out of it quickly if it doesn’t.

 

  • An experienced DJ is not thrown by last minute changes and recognizes that although a timeline is helpful, a wedding timeline is fluid and an experienced DJ is ready at a moment’s notice to switch things up.

 

  • Confidence on the mic. A good DJ is comfortable addressing a crowd and has the ability to pronounce difficult names.  Imagine paying someone who can’t pronounce your name.

 

  • An experienced, professional DJ knows how to work as a team with the coordinator, catering staff, photographer, videographer and any other professionals. For example, a DJ should never announce a spotlight moment (cake cutting, parent dance, etc.) without first making sure the entire vendor team is ready to capture and/or participate.

 

  • A professional will have a backup plan in place (paid on-call DJ, backup song library, backup gear) and should never shy away from answering that question immediately without hesitation.

 

  • A professional will know where the spotlight belongs – on the wedding couple, NOT the DJ themselves. Guests, family and friends come to celebrate the married couple, NOT to come see the DJ.

 

  • Experience with the venue – especially important with a unique space such as the Wadsworth Mansion. Does the DJ know what’s needed and does he/she own the appropriate equipment to properly provide sound/services in multiple indoor and outdoor spaces?

 

When selecting a DJ, the price is going to be based on how many hours their services are needed. Packages begin at 5 hours as that is the standard reception length.  Adding music  or microphones for the ceremony extends the time.

DJs also provide other services, such as interior and exterior lighting of the venue, specialty lighting for dancing, and fog machines.

For budgeting purposes, if you are planning on hiring a truly professional DJ, plan to spend between $2,000 -$2,700 for 6 hours of DJ services.  If you add lighting expect to spend another $1,000.

 

 

FLOWERS

I think one of the hardest part about flowers at a wedding is that not all flowers are created equal.  Flowers aren’t sold by the pound, they are sold by the stem and some stems are more expensive than others.  [Peonies, Ranunculus, Protea, Orchids, and Garden Roses are some of the more expensive flowers.] Using local seasonal flowers don’t necessarily make arrangements less expensive unless the florist has access to flowers in someone’s yard, and then they most likely would not be able to provide the amount of flowers needed.

The second hardest part about budgeting for flowers is  knowing what you need.  The more attendants at your wedding the more bouquets and boutonnières you will need.  The more guests that you have, the more centerpieces that are required.   Don’t forget parents, grandparents, the flower girl or ring bearer.  That is just for starters, how about:  arches, chair arrangements/bows, mantles, garlands, cake florals, bathrooms, bars, console tables/altar.  It is enough to make you put your head in a spin.

Do tell the florist your color palette for the wedding.  Do tell the florist what flowers you like.  It is great to hand your florist a picture you found on Pinterest as an example of your style or color palette, but if you ask the florist to duplicate it you may be shocked at the price. The arrangement could have been created for a photo shoot where the budget is limitless—and isn’t expected to be duplicated 15 times!  Do give the florist some latitude when purchasing flowers.  The blush roses may not look that fresh when the florist is at the market and on the other hand, there may be something stunning that will make your bouquets a knockout.  In most cases, your experienced floral decorator will be able to guide you to the best look to fit your budget.

 

I have included a table of pricing from two florists on our list.

 

Floral Piece Florist 1 Florist 2
Bouquets $175-$300 $150-$300
Bridesmaids Bouquets $100+ $75-$125
Boutonnieres $18+ $15
Corsage-pin on $25+ $25.00
Corsage-wrist $35+ $25.00
Pew/Chair bows $30/pair
Low Centerpieces $65+ $75+
High Centerpieces $150+ $200
Garland $40/ft.
Cake Topper $35+
 Cake Florals $45+
Arch $200+ $500+
Rose petals $150+
Mantles $100-$300

 

For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit:  Here

 

Yes, you can go to Stop and Shop (a local  supermarket) for wedding flowers, however they are not generally full service, which means you have to pick up & set up and who has time for that on the most important day of your life!?  I tried to get pricing, but couldn’t get through to them.  [That may say it all.]  You’ll get what you pay for as a talented florist has a great sense of color and design and will make your wedding truly elegant.

 

If you have 5 bridesmaids, 5 groomsmen, 15 tables, 1 bride who loves flowers, 4 parents and two grandmothers, an arch, and two decorated mantles you can expect to spend around $4,000.

 

For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit:  Here

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHERS

 

Like DJs, photographers are selling time and talent. The price for wedding photography depends on multiple elements:

  1. The number of photographers covering your event—one or two.
  2. How many hours the photographer(s) will be covering your event: Is it from the time you start getting dressed in the morning until the party is swinging on the dance floor or some shorter timeframe?
  3. How the photos are being edited. Is the photographer editing the photos or are they being sent out?
  4. What the photographer provides after the event: Is it a flash drive, one album, or ala carte services?
  5. The creativity and technical expertise of the photographer.

Items one and two are easily quantifiable, not so much with items three, four, and five.

Talent is the most important differentiator between photographers. In the last fifteen years with the rise of digital cameras and software to edit pictures, the number of wedding photographers grew tremendously. Almost anyone could become a part time wedding photographer. The industry went into a tizzy.  Talented photographers were being undercut by the novices and there wasn’t much they could do without sounding resentful.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really talented newcomers entering the field that offer lower pricing to build a business.  We have all done that.  What I saw, was a lot of not so talented or experienced people who don’t understand lighting and composition taking some bad pictures. By the way, there are no do overs over your wedding photos.

The good news, is that it is so easy to view a photographer’s work.  They all have websites with lots of pictures.  Check out their social media platforms.  Ask to see an album.

To understand the value of the proposal consider:

  • Is an engagement session included? An engagement session is not just about capturing your engagement.  It offers the photographer the opportunity to develop a relationship with you.  The more comfortable you are with the photographer on the day of your wedding the more natural you will look in your photos.

 

  • There is a big difference in quality between the companies producing your albums.

 

  • Ask about the experience and training of the photographer. Ask about the experience of the second shooter.   How many years have they been in the industry?  What is their training and prior work experience?

 

  • Ask yourself, is this photographer going to enhance your day, or just take pictures? A great photographer, because their ‘eye’ is omniscient, can assist in making the day run smoothly.  They can see things before they happen.  They calm nerves.  They assist the other vendors.

 

  • Lastly, is the photographer easy to be around? After all, it is easier to smile at the camera if you like the person behind the lens.

 

This link will take you to an article about selecting photographers.  https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-photography-getting-started

 

For budgeting purposes you can obtain two photographers for six hours for about $4,300.  The range for a more experienced photographer with tremendous talent and breadth in their portfolio is $5,000-$7,000.

 

 

Part 3:  The Rest of Your Day

 

If you think your budgeting is complete, don’t forget that before you walk down the aisle you will have sent out invitations, obtained your marriage license [$50.] You will have purchased wedding rings, gifts for your attendants and a gift for your beloved.  You will have had your hair done and make up professionally applied.   [$350].  Of course let’s not forget your favorite purchases: your wedding, dress, wedding shoes, jewelry, and veil/tiara.  [I am not even going there!] Don’t forget the groom if you are sharing this budget!

Embellishing your wedding will be a guest book, place cards, toasting flutes, cake cutting service.  You may have opted for:

  • Horse Drawn Carriage Entrance $1,000
  • Live ceremony/cocktail musicians $550 for two  [May have a deduct from the DJ]
  • Photobooth $800-$1,000
  • Videographer
  • Fireworks $3,500-$5,000
  • Tent                                                                 $4,000 [Includes liner and sides]

 

The Knot recently provided an informative graphic as a visual for the cost of weddings across North America.  You can check out the full article here.

 

 

I hope this post has helped. It is only met to be a guideline for creating a budget. I am sure that there are vendor professionals who may cost less than I indicated.   I always tell brides and grooms to focus on the things that are the most important to them.  The most important aspect about hosting a wedding is not about how much money is spent, but how the love that is shared between two people is conveyed to their families and friends.  Have fun planning and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion — Part 1

As the Executive Director of the Wadsworth Mansion and twenty six years of hosting weddings, I have watched couples navigate the complexity of wedding planning.  At least once a day a bride will ask us, ‘How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion?’ The short answer is to quote our rental rates of $5,500 for a Friday/Sunday wedding and $6,000 for a Saturday wedding, but in reality what the bride really wants to know is how we compare to our competition and whether a Wadsworth Mansion wedding is affordable.  The response to that question is much more complex because we offer our couples the opportunity to select from a list of caterers that vary in price point and style.  In this blog post I hope to enlighten the couple who has never planned an event before.

 

Location:  The Mansion

The Mansion rental rates are based on the day of the week, $5,500 for a Friday or Sunday, and $6,000 for a Saturday.  No tax is applied to the rental rate.  If you wish to purchase extra time, it is $750/hour.   [Always needed for Indian Weddings] If you hire a caterer from our Approved List no extra fees are assessed.  Couples do have to purchase Liquor Liability Insurance and that generally runs about $135.  There is no fee for having your ceremony here, or using our ceremony chairs.  If your rehearsal transpires during our work day there is no fee for a rehearsal.

If you were creating a budget the amount allocated for the Wadsworth Mansion should be $6,135 dollars for a Saturday wedding [$5,635 for a Friday/Sunday].

 

Food and Beverage:

Your food and beverage costs depend on how many people you are having at your wedding and what you are eating.  When a caterer presents a proposal there is a food cost and a staffing cost.  Some of our caterers, to make it easy, will just quote a per person cost, but when quoting, they have always calculated the two components.    Some caterers will present a food cost and a labor cost.  When figuring out what the bottom line is for food and beverage always ask if and where the service charge is added.  Service charges can run up to 22% for the higher end caterers. Sometimes it is applied just to the food component, sometimes to the whole package. Tax is 6.35% in Connecticut.

 

Don’t be embarrassed to say that you have a budgeted amount for food and beverage.  If you are on a budget, the way to save money is to select a menu with lower food costs.  [Don’t ask for filet mignon, lobster tails, and a sushi bar.]  Don’t be embarrassed when a caterer presents a proposal to ask if there are ways to save money.  Substitutions can always be made.  It is not necessarily cheaper to have food stations rather than a plated dinner as the caterer has to supply enough food for all the guests to sample everything and keep the stations presentable throughout the serving period.  Staffing is not something you can negotiate.

 

Some caterers will include linens and place settings in their proposals. Some own their own linens and place settings, others will make arrangements for rentals.  Generally if linens and place settings are included the price per person is lower than if the caterer has to procure those items through a rental company.

When selecting a caterer it isn’t just about money; it is about value. There generally is a reason why things cost more. Here are some questions to ask a caterer to understand the value of the proposal:

  • How experienced are your wait staff?
  • What do they wear?
  • Is someone assigned to attend the bride and groom?
  • Is there someone greeting guests at the door?
  • Is all the food made in house?
  • How are your stations presented?
  • What isn’t included? [If you have never been in the business, you won’t recognize what isn’t included so ask.]

 

All the caterers on our Approved Catering list are good.  We wouldn’t let a caterer work here who isn’t doesn’t provide good food and service.  They represent different price points and styles.  For planning purposes we have a caterer that begins $85.00 plus tax.  This fee includes food, staffing, full open bar, linens and place settings.  They would say that on an average their clients spend $100 pp plus tax.  Their high end is $150 pp. [short rib/sea bass/sushi bar served under a tent in the back lawn].

For budgeting purposes you must budget at least $90.00 per person for food and beverage. [This is all inclusive:  food, beverage, bar, linens, place settings, service, tax and service charge.] It is more realistic to start at $110 per person when creating your budget.

In my next blog I’ll write about flowers, music, and photography, as there is more to a wedding than just the venue and a delicious meal.  When finished I’ll share my niece’s budget as she is getting married here in August.

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Frock It To Me

Whether you’ve been dreading or dreaming of it, the time comes in any engagement when you have to answer the age-old question:  What to wear?  Considering that the obvious answer is “something” –– unless of course you’re on a nude beach somewhere (disclaimer: The Wadsworth Mansion has no beach, nude or otherwise) — you’ll want to think through a few things before deciding on the dress, the tux, bridal party attire, or dress code.

 

 

1.  How you want your wedding to feel.  You’ll be referring back to this one all the time.  It is the key to your wedding seeming cohesive.  Your big event should be a reflection of both of you on your best day   ever.  Decide what that looks like.  Season and location are a big part of this; long, lacy sleeves feel a little imprudent on the shore in August, n’est pas?  Once you select a venue and date, which should help guide your vision, you still may want to think of a few adjectives to fill out the daydream:  whimsical & bright, elegant & classic, modern & trendy, understated & unique, warm & casual…  Once you’ve given yourself a basic road map it’ll be much easier to say, “yes, I loved that sleek, barely-there satin number I saw on Pinterest, but y’know it just doesn’t fit with the wintry, happy, storybook vibe I’m going for.”

 

2.  How you plan to move your body throughout the day/night.  Despite the image you’ve conjured up from the picture-perfect, stock-still photos of gowns you’ve been drooling over since the fifth grade, you will be moving.  A lot.  You’ll be sitting, could be kneeling, oughta be dancing.  Select something that makes you feel like a million bucks and allows you to eat dinner!  Keep this in mind as you try things on, and then again as your fittings happen.  Jump up and down, bend over, put your arms over your head; having to tug/pull/adjust your wedding finery on the big day is a big no — your tailor’s job is to make you feel effortless regardless of action.
This rule also applies to shoes!  Make sure you can comfortably walk on any surface (and PRACTICE! Yes, you!!) so people are wondering over the vision that you are, not the over/under on when you’ll bite it or go barefoot.

 

2a.  How you want others to move their bodies throughout the day/night.  If you want your bridal party and guests to really cut loose on the dance floor, consider issuing them less restrictive attire and toning down the formality of the dress code.  If the effect you’re going for is a little more elegant than eccentric, remember that bending over to pick up a cornhole beanbag might not be the chicest (or easiest) cocktail activity.

 

3.  How individual you want the bridal party to look.  We are — thankfully — far from the era of matchy-matchy, one-note, prom-esque attendants.  Nowadays it’s acceptable to, y’know, be considerate of the people who’ve agreed to stand next to you and populate all those photographs.  Before placing the order on those shiny, cap-sleeved, mustard dresses and the matching vests and bow ties because they go with your fall scheme perfectly, think about the people who have to wear them.  Think of their body types, shades of skin, colors of hair… You want them to feel confident, right?  Maybe you like the look of similar dresses in complimentary hues. Maybe a patterned fabric in a bias cut will be the most flattering on everyone.  Maybe you want these dresses to actually be wearable more than once.  Even if you want them to be wearing the exact same thing from earrings to nail polish to shoes, you’ll still want to dedicate some time in deciding all those elements.  Do unto others…

 

4.  How you know your invitees.  Unless you’re some kind of royalty with a public ceremony (I’m looking at you, Prince Harry), chances are you’ll know all your guests.  (I mean, except for your fiancee’s Great Aunt Ermingarde who hasn’t left her neighborhood since the Nixon administration and is shockingly making the 3-state trek… although even she isn’t “a stranger.”)  But maybe you’re having a remote, intimate ceremony with just family, which probably invites less pomp and circumstance than a fete with 200 of your parents’ nearest and dearest.  Or, maybe you are having a grandly-scaled affair brimming with all your college buddies, which could make a “Creative Black Tie” dress code apropos.  At the end of the day, your guests will do their best to bedeck themselves according to the standard you set.  Just know the party you’re throwing, and for whom.  And if Great Aunt Ermingarde calls to ask, ” Just what do you mean by Cocktail attire,” she’s not nagging you, but only trying to answer that question:  What to wear?

 

5.  How you feel like you.  Remember when I said your wedding should represent you & your fiancee on your best day ever?  I couldn’t mean that more.  Even if you’re the poster child for the athleisure movement and this is your one chance to really gussy up, or even if you’re a Tuesday afternoon sequins person and you don’t know if there’s enough Swarovski in the world to out-do your everyday, there’s no reason that the fanciest or most refined version of that person can’t be present.  If your heart is set on being a princess for a day, do it — but be yourself.  If you want to wear a jaw-dropping red dress because white isn’t your thing, do it — because that’s you.  Don’t let your makeup artist, or your mother, or your own self-doubt talk you into wearing something that doesn’t make you feel like the ideal version of yourself.  Who cares if it’s different from what you imagined in high school?!  If, on your wedding day, you were to be asked the compulsory red carpet question, “Who are you wearing?” your answer should resoundingly be:  Me.

 

Now — go forth, shop well, be fabulous.

 

Happy Planning!
Natalie

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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Focus Is Future (or, How Weddings Are Governed by The Law of Attraction)

I’m not much of a New Age philosphy kind of gal.  Not that I have anything against it, really, it’s just not my particular cup of tea.  But the longer I’m around weddings and the planning stages that precede them, the more I’m convinced that the Law of Attraction is a thing.

For the uninformed, good old Wikipedia defines the Law of Attraction as such:

“…the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.  This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.”

I can’t necessarily speak to the second part, but the first bit about the outcome of experiences being reflective of the energy put into them is a very real occurrence.  And while I think it’s generally true throughout life, it is of course magnified under the glass of a major milestone event like a wedding.

0398To wit:

A recent bride of the Wadsworth Mansion was the essence of relaxed.  Her planning was thoughtfully arranged and specific, but even as we met to go over details a few days before her wedding she seemed to be in a lovely bubble of equal parts calmness, happiness, and reality.  She was very aware that unforeseen things could happen, but she trusted her vendors to do what they were hired to do and keep her day running smoothly.  Lo and behold — her wedding was a breeze, full of life and joy, and not a thing went wrong!  Within a week of her celebration she had written us to to say that her dream wedding had come true and she couldn’t have been more thrilled.  Hooray!

On the other hand, I can recall an occasion that had a marriage ceremony and reception that felt nothing like a celebration.  Try as the bride and groom might for smooth, easy sailing, their families seemed determined to encounter disaster.  I met them for a rehearsal a day or so before the wedding, and even then I could feel a cloud of negativity hanging just overhead; by the time the big day arrived, the cloud had fully descended into a terrible fog of malcontent and cantankerousness.  Although the bride and groom left that night seeming peacefully light, their family’s negativity would soon find them and everyone else involved in the event, re-coloring the entire picture in sad, gloomy hues.  It’s so unfortunate when a murky, merciless attitude prevents others from having the time of their lives.

These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reaping what you sow in the garden of weddings.  It’s amazing how we can predict with quite a bit of accuracy the general outcome of an event based on the process leading up to it.  But we can.

And you can, too.  As you plan your wedding, or vacation, or birthday party, or whatever, take a step back and do some honest self-assessment.  If your outlook is positive — even if it’s realistic — your road should be relatively smooth and happy.  If your attitude needs some adjustment, now is the time to find (or create) that silver lining before the negativity gets out of control.  And if the negative influence isn’t you, find a way to redirect, reduce, or remove that person from the process.

 

Happy planning!
Natalie

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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For Your Consideration

You’re so excited.  The question was popped, the answer was yes, and now you’re on the whirlwind ride that we call engagement.

You’re overwhelmed.  Opinions from all angles are swirling around as you start to climb the mountain of decision-making known as wedding planning.

You’re resolute.  You know exactly what you want your big day to be like, and all you need is for everything to be perfectly as you designed.

Image Photography 039

However you’re approaching your matrimonial celebration, allow me to let you in on a little trade secret.  Your vendors — those you hire for the goods and services associated with your event (florist, photographer, cake baker, etc.) — are human beings.  I know, I know — it sounds obvious, right?  But you’d be flabbergasted at the countless, true stories that would provide substantial evidence to support how often that fact is forgotten.

That’s not to say that all brides, grooms, or their families behave in ways that seem dismissive of the lives of their trusted vendors (far from it), but it happens often enough that I have to wonder how many people outside of the event business are aware of the way their words or actions come across.

For example, I recently heard about a wedding vendor who had an extremely ill child, which set this vendor back on the designated timeline, although not to any real detriment of the services provided; the couple demanded a full refund, and when the vendor gave the very good reason for the slight scheduling setback, the couple’s reaction was not one of compassion but, “that’s not our problem.”

True story.

Not all such tales are quite as horrifyingly unfeeling.  Most could be characterized as simply inconsiderate.

Another story I’ve heard goes like this:  one of the vendors of an upcoming wedding had a parent pass away, to which the mother of the bride responded, “well you’re still going to be doing this wedding, right?!”  The implications being, of course, that vendors aren’t allowed to deal with their own lives like the rest of the world, and that they’re somehow in danger of forgetting their work obligations.

Regardless of what life throws their way, all that anyone hired to shoot your video or plan your day or arrange your flowers wants to do is put forth their best work.  Their name is on it.  It will represent them in the future.  They will do everything in their power to give you everything designated in their agreement with you, and then some.  I also don’t know of any vendors worth their salt who would enter into a contract if they weren’t able to fulfill it to the best of their abilities, no matter what’s going on.

The most classic case of ignorant behavior towards hard-working vendors is — you guessed it — pregnancy.  A female vendor “with child” can expect (no pun intended) to be on the receiving end of countless comments relating her gestation once the bump is no longer hide-able.  And, yes, I know vendors who will go to great lengths to hide their pregnancy for as long as possible for this very reason.  Some comments are intended to be jokey, while others are just downright impertinent and rude.  In any case, it’s clear that the old common sense rule of “think before you speak” is woefully absent from the minds of many.

Not too long ago there was a vendor that I know who told me that instead of being congratulated on her soon-to-be motherhood, a family member of a wedding in May said, with actual concern, “It won’t affect the wedding will it?”  Her due date was in January.

The all-too-real stories happen all-too-often.

So please consider, through your excitement, stress, and determination leading up to (and on) your big day, giving some consideration to the people you hire to help you have the event of your dreams.  A little thoughtfulness can go a long way.

As the saying goes: remember that your pants go on one leg at a time just like everybody else’s.

Or, less colloquially, abide by the Golden Rule and all will be well.

Happy Planning!
Natalie

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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On Uniqueness

MichelleGirardPhotography189-(ZF-7163-86976-1-001)Here at the Wadsworth Mansion, uniqueness is our delight.  Each event is it’s own celebration, standing solo on our calendar for that day and befitting the design of the host’s individual vision.  Our mansion and grounds are merely a (beautiful) blank slate, leaving any and all details  — food, decor, flowers, floor plan, and more — up to the thrower of said party.

When my husband and I were married here almost one year ago, we loved that we weren’t forced into hiring a specific DJ or caterer or florist; the absolute last thing we wanted was a “wedding factory,” where we would just be shoehorned into a pre-set model like afterthoughts and hurried through our wedding to make way for the next one.  The a la carte manner in which the Mansion goes about it’s events allowed our big day to actually reflected us as a couple.  We had the wedding we intended from top to bottom (which, incidentally, you can get a taste of here, just scroll down a bit).

And since then, now that I am employed by the Mansion, I have seen many more weddings and parties here and none are alike.  Even among weddings with similar teams of vendors, the celebrations are unique representations of the hosts.

And all that freedom of choice isn’t for everyone.  I certainly give tours where our historic mansion and it’s one-of-a-kind, symmetrical footprint throws people off.  It does take some creativity to think outside of the same old, single ballroom box.  And that’s okay — coloring outside the lines is great for some and uncomfortable for others.  Plenty of people like to stick to safe, tried-and-true ways of doing things because the enormity of hosting a big event can be stressful enough.

But I can promise that if you’re willing to be intrepid in your party throwing you will reap so much more than if you copy the majority just to stick to the norm.  I recently overheard a comment by a guest at an event (who was late, and purposefully hanging back): “…if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”  Yikes.  To be honest, the host didn’t deserve such an assessment at all. However, if that’s the general perspective you’re up against, wouldn’t you want to blow that thought out of the water?

Don’t worry so much about how everyone else did it, or does it, or will do it.  What makes these things so special and noteworthy is how personal they are.

Be uniquely you and your wedding will be extraordinary.

Happy Planning!
Natalie

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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How to Make Your Wedding Yours

Oftentimes when giving tours of the Mansion to potential brides and grooms I am asked, “what do most people do?”  While I’m happy to relay typical arrangements of tables and chairs or layouts that harmonize fire code with aesthetics, it seems to me that the question is actually much more loaded.

MMwed-353The pressure put on couples (by themselves or others) to conform to certain ideas, ideals, traditions, and desires is real.  I see it every day.  I experienced it myself.  It varies in shades and degrees from wedding to wedding, but it is always there.  And it is perfectly natural and to be expected — two people in love from two different families [we hope, but that’s a different blog] and backgrounds are uniting in a singular celebration in a finite period of time.

Amid all the excitement it can be weirdly easy to confuse your opinions with those of your loved ones, or feel pressured into conforming to suggestions you don’t love.  Your best friend continuously tells you what colors she thinks you should use, your favorite uncle has written a song he insists on singing during your ceremony, and your parents feel they should get to cast the final vote on every last detail because that’s how their wedding was planned.  And yes, you want to be inclusive, and maybe someone will have a stroke of brilliance that you never would’ve come up with…

But.  Each couple deserves a wedding that reflects them as a couple.  The two of you should dream up a vision together that becomes the foundation for the event.  You have the right to decide if a particular tradition is or isn’t meaningful to you.  It’s okay if you & your fiancee don’t really care about flowers even though everyone else seems to.  Don’t worry so much about keeping up with the Joneses or being Pinterest perfect or agreeing to things just to appease certain people.  Your wedding will be happiest and most meaningful to all of your guests if it echoes you.

So the question is really, “how do you keep the wheels on the wagon?”wadsworth00496

Step 1:  Breathe.  In and out.  Slow is good.

Step 2:  Remember, everyone involved cares deeply about you.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be so passionate.  (This is an important marriage lesson in general.)

Step 3:  Tell yourself that this is all completely normal.  Because it is.  It really, really is.

Step 4:  Listen to the idea.  It just might be a good one, or half a good one.

Step 5:  Thank your loved one for the suggestion.  Whether it’s “yeah, that’s similar to something we’ve discussed,” or “I hadn’t thought of that before, but we’ll take it into consideration,” be kind and acknowledge it’s coming from a good place.  Sometimes recognition of a suggestion is all that’s needed.

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Step 6: Gently remind your loved one that it’s your day.  Be firm if you have to, but the key word is ‘gently’.  Emotions are already high and there’s no need to be nasty.  The point will be made.  Slow your roll, ‘Zilla.

Repeat all (especially Steps 1-3) as needed.

 

Trust the foundation that you set as a couple — and I mean that in life and in wedding planning. The rest will fall (okay, sometimes hurtle) into place.9 Dancing 1
Happy Planning!
Natalie

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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The Devil’s In The Details (or, Tips For Planning The Best Event Ever)

Coming from the latin word for flat, the word plan is a much-used root word defined as:  a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance.

Some people have a natural knack for masterminding things while others… well, not so much.  If you fall into the latter category, don’t fret — you’re not doomed to having a less-than stunning party.  The key is creating a detailed plan, which will become the foundation of your event.  So get out your Excel spreadsheet or Eventbrite‘s event planning software or regular old pen and paper because the first thing you should do is…

  1. Write it down.  There is a lot to keep track of — vendors, guests, timelines, budgets, shopping lists, etc. etc.  You won’t be able to keep it all straight in your brain, so don’t even try.  Professional party planners keep detailed notes, and so should you.
  2. Create a total budget. (and put aside an emergency reserve.)  Set these as early in the process as possible.  Beautiful weddings can be thoughtfully designed on any budget, but blindly spending is a good way to add unnecessary stress to the process.  Use the reserve as your safety net or to add extra finishing details in the day or so before the event.  Or save it for the next big thing!
  3. Dream up a vision.  Close your eyes and put yourself at your venue, say, The Wadsworth Mansion.  Imagine the portico’s stately columns rising to the sky, imagine the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the loggia windows, imagine the long expanse of our lush, green vista framed by rows of cedar trees stretching from the terrace… Now pick an adjective or two that describes the atmosphere you’d like to create here for your guests.  Keep your ideal atmosphere in mind as you select vendors and decide on details throughout the planning process.
  4. Photograph & label everything.  If you want your details to look cohesive and reflect your vision, do a test run; when your mock-up looks to your liking, put your smart phone to work and snap some pictures.  Label liberally — what is obvious to you may not be so clear to vendors during set up. This will save precious time on the day-of, earning you extra moments to deal with any last-minute hiccups.
  5. Communicate.  Save the surprises for your guests. Talk to your vendors. Make sure everyone on your team is on the same page. A quick phone call to confirm plans or specific details the day before can be the subtle difference between seamlessly smooth and stressful disaster.
  6. Walk in your guests shoes.  From arrival through any activities to the exit, step your way through from a guest’s perspective, which will help with 2 things: assessing if you’ve overlooked any details and making sure your festivities are fluid. If you throw a party for yourself and invite people, that’s exactly what it will feel like to your guests. If, however, you keep the invitee’s experience at the forefront of your planning, the likelihood of “Best Event Ever” status exponentially rises.

Photo by: Alicia Ann Photographers

Stay tuned for future editions of posts on event planning…  In the meantime share comments, experiences, thoughts, and questions below in our comments section.

 

Happy Planning!
Natalie

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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Old Hollywood Glam Photo Shoot at The Wadsworth Mansion

Beautiful Old Hollywood Photo shoot, set on the grounds of the Wadsworth Mansion.

Even on a chilly day in April, with rain in the forecast this photo shoot was bound to be amazing. With the colors, the design, and the setting, the shoot was both exciting and inspirational.

Beginning with a color scheme of Gold, Black and Purple the scene was set by Stephanie Carmody of Tres Chic Events.  With a mix of Old Hollywood elegance and classic touches, every element of this shoot was a perfect compliment to the mansion and grounds.   Dining was staged among the trees where the beauty of nature meets sophistication. The tablescape was accentuated with a suspended chandelier of purple flowers and bouquets by Dragonfly Event. Gold chargers and glassware brought dimension to the display.

The bride exuded elegance in a lace gown that blended flawlessly with the Beaux Art style of the mansion and Dana Bartone and Company gave her the classic Hollywood look. We love it when talented vendors come together to create new and stunningly unique ideas in this space.

We were thrilled to  have this photo shoot take place at the mansion.  It was originally featured on Reverie Gallery and now we are happy share it with all of our readers, enjoy!

[envira-gallery id=”23853″]

To see the Reverie Gallery blog click here

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