Family

Thank you for bearing with my absence last week, I hope all of you felt a significant void from not hearing my wedding words of truth last Monday— obviously I am sure you did…

Regardless, I am back in action and ready to take the world by storm with my fifth blog– (Woo, I’m at 5!!! So proud). And for this weeks topic, I wanted to discuss an important and essential part of any wedding planning process— your family.

family  After just spending a week with mine at our family cabin in Kelowna, B.C., with no power for 5 days due to a crazy forest fire nearby—we really got to know each other again… (aka fought like cats and dogs but then laughed like crazy after a few spiked ciders and rounds of Cards Against Humanity in the pitch dark of the electricity-free evenings we spent together)…

I vowed when I started this blog that I would write about my experiences week-to-week as a bride planning my own wedding, but with a dash of professional wedding planner sprinkled in there– So since this past week was all ‘mia famiglia’ (I am marrying an Italian, bear with me here)—here are my thoughts on including these annoying, amazing, thoughtful, and ridiculous people in planning for your big day:

Siblings/future siblings in-law:

I have these two girlfriends who are these hilarious and amazing sisters who do everything together. The older one recently got engaged, but when discussing the details of the wedding, the younger one always refers to it as ‘our wedding’. I absolutely love it when she refers to her sister’s big day as if its her own. It’s not in a creepy way, its in a sincere love kind of way for her phenomenal older sister and her fiancé.

I think that the same can be said for my sister and I, she recently told me (granted, after a few glasses of wine) that she would drop anything for me if I needed help planning the wedding—she persistently said that I came before everything else in her life, which made me feel super special and loved.

As for future siblings-in-law, it is my sincere and honest hope that you get along with yours, but if say, you haven’t even met them—try to make the effort to get to know them through this process. If they live out of town maybe take a quick trip with your fiancé to hang out in their city, if they live in town take them out to dinner, or send them funny snapchats or instagram meme’s. Let them know you are excited to become a part of their clan and include them in the process!

Since I hope most siblings feel the same way as the ones I have described above, I think it is awesome if you can include them as much as they want to be included—to make them feel as important as they are. The obvious call is giving them the nod as a bridesmaid or groomsman, but other ways they can be included are by asking for their assistance with vendor selection—is your brother a budding DJ-wannabe who knows all the great ‘spin masters’ in the area? Ask for his recommendations. Is your sister a graphic designer (like mine)?? Ask for her help in picking fonts or designing your invites. Maybe your future brother-in-law wants to plan the stag-and-doe or give you guys an amazing toast at your wedding reception. Do what you can to keep these people involved in the process— so that on your big day, they have as much fun as you do.

Parents/Parents-in-law

In the majority of cases, these fine people (who spent the greater part of their lives making sure you didn’t cross the road without looking both ways; who took you to your ungodly-hour hockey or cheerleading practices; or who spent the greater part of your high school weekends staring at their bedside clocks, agonizing until they heard your ‘completely sober’ self stumble in their bedroom to give them a goodnight kiss) will be fronting at least some of the bill for this lavish occasion celebrating your love. Throw them a bone.

Yes, they are likely driving you nuts in some way or another (per usual), but they love you so much they want to do everything they can to help this day get put together. Let them come along to vendor meetings, take them on movie/dinner dates, ask their advice on food or décor, invite them on a roadtrip or to a fitting— make sure to spend time with them during your engagement to thank them for all they have done for you to make you the fabulous person you are today.

Extended family/family-in laws

Dillon and I are LUCKY to have such thoughtful, caring, generous, and hilarious extended family. Your aunts, uncles, and older cousins likely gave you your first sip of beer—so why not visit with them more than usual, write them extra thank-you cards for the kind gifts they send during the engagement, ask them to be your reception MC or do a reading during the ceremony.

In closing…

The more you can do to show your families how much you care during the months leading up to your big day—the better. As much as this day is about the two of you, your family members will spend a lot of money and time to be with you both during not only your wedding day, but for any showers, engagement parties, or dress fittings. Show them a little extra TLC!

We’re lucky to have people that care about us at all (especially since they know us at our WORST) so embrace these weirdo, fantastic, and crazy beings and include them in this once-in-a-lifetime process!

Have a great week… and until next time…

Courtney

fotorfam FotorCreateddeej

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Wedding Planner — To get one or not to get one… that is the question

Happy Monday Friends and Followers! I hope you all have had an amazing week.

This past weekend I coordinated my biggest wedding yet– with about 400 guests and a lot of intricate details and timelines, I spent the majority of my time last week planning and preparing for the big day (Check out the amazing photos on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/courtneyelizabethevents)

As such, I thought I would speak today about why a couple might consider hiring a wedding planner/coordinator.

To the untrained eye, wedding planning may seem like a fun and lighthearted task—you pick a few bridesmaids dresses, order up a delicious beef tenderloin for dinner, cruise around in a limo all night, snap your fingers for an amazing Avicii-like DJ—Why would I spend my hard earned money for someone to do this for me you might ask… Well here are a few reasons why, from my humble opinion:

  1. We’re professionals. “Cool.”—you might say, “So What…” Well wedding planners tend to know the in’s and out’s of the local wedding market. They know which vendors tend to cost more and which tend to cost less, they know which vendors tend to not show up on time (or at all), they know the goofy officiant’s and the more formal ones… This may not seem relevant in the early stages of planning—but 250 hours in (that’s the average amount of time a ‘newbie’ will spend planning their first wedding) you’ll be dying for a sounding board of which videographer comes to your formal wedding inappropriately dressed and which kind of florals are in season for your wedding day.
  1. Not all wedding tasks are fun. Sure Pinterest-ing florals, cakes, and gowns is fun; but there is a lot of nitty-gritty details you won’t want to think about when you get home from a long day of work everyday for a year or more—like where to source your outdoor reception outhouses, how to make a seating chart, what happens if it rains?, and what in God’s name is a chiavari chair? ** PLEASE NOTE: Wedding planners and coordinators are not trying to steal your thunder, most of us are ready to do as much or as little as you want us to. So don’t think of us as wedding gremlins who get the contract signed and then run off and plan a wedding without your input—we are here to help you with every single aspect or just a few… you decide what works for you and we go from there, aka leave the grunt work to us!
  1. We know the right questions to ask. Can we actually hang a Cirque du Soleil performer from the roof of our venue? How can we keep the look and feel of our centerpieces but spend less money? What do you and your assistants wear on the wedding day? How big is the dance floor going to be? …We’ve done this before or at least we have heard enough horror stories to know the right questions to ask. Many times we have worked with these vendors before or have heard the good and bad about them. We can give you our advice, and you can take it or leave it… but at least you have it!
  1. We can actually save you money. Contrary to popular belief, wedding planners/coordinators are not only for the luxury bride and groom with stacks of money to blow. We know what different services cost and we can help you get the most value for your budget—whatever that may be. Often times we get ‘wedding planner discounts’ from vendors which we pass right along to our clients… 10-20% off isn’t a bad deal when you’re spending a few thousand dollars on numerous items.
  1. We ease your stress. Throughout our time with you, you should receive constant communication from us. So if you have a question or concern about any step of the process we will be there to guide you through it and help you figure out what is best for your and your fiancé. We help to manage your budget, day-of and week-of timelines, vendor contacts, emergency phone numbers, hair and makeup, bus/limo arrivals and departures, venue set up, etc. We want to take as much stress away from you as we can so that you can enjoy the process, maybe even hit up the spa the week of your wedding and not be concerned with whether or not the DJ got your latest song request list or if the gelato truck knows when its supposed to arrive and where it is supposed to park.

My suggestion—at the beginning of your wedding planning stages, sit down as a couple and review how much time, money, and help you have to plan your big day. Figure out where you could use professional support and where you think you have it covered. It costs nothing to sit down with local planners and see what they can offer you—and we love talking weddings!

BE FOREWARNED…SALES PITCH AHEAD:

I know for myself as a planner, I am ready and willing to work with couples on what they need and how I can be of service to them. I have my three main wedding services (only because as I professional I know what most people can use help with) but I am definitely willing to discuss your ideas of how I could be of service to you and it’s likely we can work something out that will be beneficial for you in whatever kind of way that might be. I love a challenge and would love to bring you on with “Team Courtney” to plan your big day! Do not hesitate to contact me—again, I love meeting up for a Starbucks drink and talking about weddings any day! (info@courtneyelizabethevents.com or 613-240-0449)

Anyhow, I wish you nothing but peace of mind as you move through your planning and decision making processes— I look forward to hearing from you if you decide a wedding planner/coordinator might be right up your alley and hope I can help to make your day the best it can be.

Until next week…

Courtney

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The Engagement Party

Ouu! Such a fun topic this week. Well, at least I think so anyways. Since we’re at a bit of a standstill with our dream reception venue and wedding date (pray for this to work out in our favour please), I have chosen to focus my excitement and planning energy on our engagement party!!

Some of you might be thinking, ‘wait, shouldn’t someone be planning this FOR you?’… well yes, I’d say traditionally the brides parents would be the ones to host it (which mine will be)— but as a professional party planner, I feel I am the best person to bedazzle this event in our honour (cue first child entitlement syndrome)—my mom is rattled and keeps telling me that she’ll plan it, but I’ll just get started and inform her of any ideas and desires I have from here…

What can I say!?!?! I love Pinterest and planning. So I’ll at least guide my parents to the type of feel we’d like to have— maybe present them a mood board, some fabric swatches… (haha, ya right—they would laugh in my face if I did that).

Anyways, I was fortunate enough to be part of one of my best friend’s engagement party’s a few weeks ago. Her parents hosted an amazing backyard barbecue, which turned into a fun night of drinking, reminiscing, and story telling with old and new friends (what could be better on a nice summer evening?). I loved every minute of it and can only hope ours will be half as amazing.

ma engagement

Also, a few months back we were able to go to our other close couple friends’ engagement party at a swanky restaurant here in Ottawa. Everyone was dressed to the nine’s, we enjoyed amazing hors d’oeuvres, champagne, and again, great conversation with old friends and new. Yet again, Dillon and I would love to have a party only half as amazing.

jj engagement

For ours, I’d like to take a bit from both amazing party’s—we hope to recreate the backyard feel and put our own spin on it – think lighthearted garden party with sandwiches and lemonade (spiked of course, to entertain our guests)—I have chosen the theme ‘Bubbles and Beer’… cool right? I thought so.

b and b

Image from: http://www.simplymars.com/2013/08/avianas-first-birthday.html#.VZsg8VzBzGc

I am obsessed with the photos from this amazing blog called Burnett’s Boards (follow them for wedding inspiration boards, amazing articles, and event and styling ideas at: http://burnettsboards.com/) — Full credit of these images below goes to them:

http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/style-backyard-engagement-party/

— Above photos cited from: http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/style-backyard-engagement-party/

When planning your own engagement party (or advising your loved ones on how to plan it), here are some keep tips to think about:

  • When? The engagement party should happen a few months after the proposal; so its still relevant news to your family and friends but also not right in the heat of wedding planning
  • Where? When deciding where to have it, I recommend doing something that represents you as a couple: if you are a couple that is always out on the town and having fun in cool restaurants and bars— do it at your favourite place; if you are cottage people have some burgers and dogs up at the lake; if you are simple, classy, and fun (like me… obvs) do a backyard garden party. This day is to celebrate you as a couple—make it fit with your ‘thing’ whatever that may be!
  • Who to invite: save the huge guestlist for the wedding; at ours we’ll be having our immediate family and close friends (there are just too many others to go further than that)—as a general rule, don’t invite anyone to the engagement party who likely will not get the nod for the wedding…
  • How to invite: if you have the time and the money—sending invites can be a really cute idea and will definitely set the tone for your wedding look and feel, however I’d say e-vites, emails, calls/texts are also all okay—it really just depends on the vibe you are trying to give off (the more formal the engagement party, the more formal your invite method should be, and so on…)
  • Setting the scene: this is your first introduction as a newly engaged couple to the world (or at least to your best friends), if you have any idea of what colours, details, and décor you might want for your wedding day—try to include these in your engagement party, it will set everyone on a visual journey for your impending big day (and get them really excited for what is to come!); if you have no idea what you want yet— just have fun with it, it is a party after all– so do whatever you both like.
  • Do we have to? No. If you don’t want to have an engagement party, don’t feel pressured. This is an optional part of the wedding process, but a fun one nonetheless. It’s a great opportunity for family and friends to meet and enjoy each others company (they will be seeing a lot of each other, so they might as well become friendly)

Plain and simple—I like to think of the engagement party as just a party with you two at the center of it. Make it everything you want it to be—as simple or as swanky as that may be. You will only get one shot (hopefully) to do this in your life so enjoy it!!! Whether you spend a small fortune or do a simple BYOB pot-luck, whatever you choose just let it be all you! Happy Engagement Partying!!!

Until next week…

Courtney

 

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The 5 W’s and the H

The dust has settled. My engagement ring Facebook post and relationship status update got their last ‘likes’ and now I get to sit back, relax, and plan a wedding. One of the most important things you should be thinking about post-rock on finger is the 5 W’s and the H. Incase you have forgotten elementary school story writing lessons, this loosely translates to: Who. What. Where. When. Why. HOW!?!?!

WHO: The Guestlist. As the highly organized and slightly neurotic wedding planner that I am, I started crafting this baby the day after I got engaged. I found the easiest way to start creating this little piece of art was to whip up an elaborate Excel spreadsheet (See here for an example of mine: Guest List Template) and start working on a family tree (I am a big Ancestry.com fan). I started with my Feyoncé Dillon (take note, I’ll be saying his name a lot) and I’s immediate family, and worked my way back to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Then I hit up Facebook and did a friends list creep compiling a huge list of everyone Dillon and I could possibly dream of having at our special day. After consulting with Dil, we decided to ship off the invite list to our parents to get their dream additions… We got to 405 potential guests. Cue first mental breakdown.

Weed whacking the guest list: Let me preface this by stating the obvious, we both want as many people as we can possibly have at our special day. But rationally, we likely can’t afford to invite every man, woman, and child we have ever crossed paths with. Let’s face it—weddings cost money. They cost a lot of it. And practicality will very unfortunately need to outweigh our desire to have as many people as we would like.

Here are some tips as to how to cut back a large and overstacked guestlist:

  • Divide your list into A’s, B’s, and C’s — or Must Haves, Nice to Haves, and Could Cut’s
  • To help, ask yourself the following questions: How close are you with this person? Does your fiancé know them well? When was the last time you spoke? If they weren’t there would it make or break your enjoyment of the day? – Picture yourself on the dancefloor around 11:30pm after a few glasses of vino; you’re rocking out to Pour Some Sugar on Me (or something more classy like Nelly’s ‘Hot in Hurr’)— and you look around… all your besties are dancing with you— is this person here? Are they in your vision for a perfect night? If you could do without them, move them to the B or C list.
  • Suggest that your parent’s friends who don’t know you and your fiancé well get moved to the B or C list as well… unless they want to shell out the extra cash for these special additions, move them off your master list

WHAT: What are the most important elements for you and your fiancé on your big day? Food? Alcohol? Décor? Flowers? A meaningful ceremony? A great DJ/Band? Determining what you both find most important will help you when you’re figuring out a budget. Would you rather have Lobster and an open bar or third cousins you’ve never met? Figuring out your ideas for a dream day will make things easier as you move through the process.

WHERE: The most important things for you to book almost immediately after your engagement are your ceremony and reception venues. Dates fill up super quickly and your venues can really make or break your overall experience on the day of. Call up a wedding planner (aka me—613-240-0449) and have them help you research local venues for both your ceremony and reception. Lock down some ideas asap so you get what you want!

WHEN: This has been a huge bone of contention for me in the last two weeks. Let’s start by saying I can’t wait to get married to my best friend, so sooner than later is preferred. But there is a lot to consider. Our 2016 summer wedding calendar is already pretty much booked up—many of our friends and close family are getting married next year and I also have weekends booked for the ones I am helping to plan. Do we really want to have the same group of friends at multiple weddings in the same summer? Can our friends abroad afford to come back for each couples wedding? Do we want to get backed into a corner with regards to what wedding date we can pick because our friends have already taken so many of the ‘good’ dates? Can we save up enough in 12 months to have the wedding we want? No. So let’s just do it the summer of 2017. But… what about our aging grandparents? Do we really want to wait two years to get married? This date issue is still on my mind… I’m hoping for some divine scheduling intervention to occur. Fingers crossed—I’ll keep you posted.

WHY: Why go through all of this? Why would we subject ourselves to the stress, worry, and slight financial ruin for just one day of our lives??? Because this is a once in a lifetime event that we will never be able to get back. We get one shot to do it our way. One shot to share this special day with our friends and family. One shot, to have an amazing party in honour of our love!!! And although a Vegas elopement is super tempting, Dillon and I want to share this day with everyone we care so much about. So like the many that have gone before us, we will press on and plan this wedding!!!

HOW: How do we plan to feed and water 300+ people? How can we entertain them and get them to have the best weekend of their lives? How will we get featured in a luxury wedding magazine? How will we find the time to plan this thing? How will we afford this… Sit down with your parents, look at your savings account, and have a realistic chat about what is feasible for the bride, groom, and their families. Creating a budget is a wise idea and will give you insight into what you can afford and what you can’t. Call a wedding planner (ahem, I know a good one) and get them to help you work through one. Figure out what everyone is comfortable with and go from there.

In the coming weeks we will be working more on our budget and guestlist… so stay tuned for future blog’s on what we found might work best!

Until then…

Courtney

 

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Let’s begin…

Well it has officially been one whole week since my engagement!!! and I have already had five celebration dinners, two mental breakdowns, numerous people ask me when, a bunch of people ask me where… Sound familiar?

I have decided to start this blog first and foremost as a new wedding planner in Ottawa to give potential clients a look into who I am as a person and a planner. Secondly, to give these future brides and grooms a bit of solace that they are not the only ones going through the craziness of planning a wedding. And last but not least to share my sense of humour, my wedding planner wisdom, my fears, my love for my fiancé, and this amazing and once in a lifetime experience with y’all (P.S. I secretly wish I lived in the southern United States and could speak like this without getting called out for it…)

I plan to blog once per week (oh god, another commitment…) about what I have gone through in that particular week as it relates to wedding planning. I hope to be here to guide you through the planning process but also experience it along with you. So get excited! your wedding planning journey begins here…

Engagement Ring

xoxo,

C

(so Gossip Girl of me… did you see what I did there??)

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