Navigating 2020

Hi y’all, I guess it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything! What a weird year we’re living in.  To say it has come as a shock to the system, is an understatement.  After many months of navigating, over-dissecting things with every vendor under the sun, and lots and lots of wine, we’re feeling a little more at peace with things.

Here is some great advice and words from our guest blog today, MILK Books.  Take a look and let us know how you’re handling things too!

What Every Couple Ought to Know About Planning A Wedding During This Crisis
No one expected the world to come to a standstill. Most of everyone’s lives are on pause, commitments postponed, and scheduled events cancelled; most probably including your wedding. 

And it might be difficult to find a reason to celebrate during a pandemic, but it should not stop you and your partner from finally beginning this journey in life together.

These times are uncertain, and every decision we make can be easily changed tomorrow. Organizing a wedding is already exhausting and quite expensive. It’s even more so if you have to do it on the premise of a Coronavirus-free setting. Treading these unprecedented waters might be intimidating, but that’s why we’re here to help. Here are some of the things you ought to know about when making important wedding decisions during this crisis.

Tedious Consultations

More than ever, couples need to be consistently talking with the people involved in organizing the wedding, most especially the vendors. Regular updates on vital information is necessary to keep the flow of information going in these uncertain times. That is why planning a wedding during this crisis can become a tedious process due to the many unknown factors in the future.

(Virtual) conversations with your vendors frequently also entails that you have to sit down and discuss all your options and fallbacks if in any case something goes wrong. Make it a point that every decision made has a backup plan for when things don’t go as expected. You have to check for the availability of your resources, schedule availability and whether they are still open for business in the future.

For instance, if you suddenly need to postpone your wedding once more, make sure your agreed flora with your florist is in season for the postponed date. Also check in on your photographer or videographer’s availability on the newly set date. Most importantly, secure the availability of your wedding venue both for the ceremony and the reception.

Other than that, do not forget to also consult with your invited family and guests. They are involved in the planning process as much as you are since rescheduling a huge event like your wedding and bringing forth such uncertainty in their timeline will not guarantee their presence in your special day.

Financially Challenging

Regardless of our financial capabilities, no one would want to spend a lot more than their original budget. Organizing a wedding in itself is an extremely costly event with no return of investment. Especially now with COVID-19, a lot of suppliers will charge extra fees to have some sort of security in venturing into this commitment with you while there is still a great unknown.

That is why it is necessary to sit down and discuss your terms and mutual obligations with all of your vendors once more. This part is absolutely central to making sure that you are aware of where your money goes during this wedding planning journey. There are cases of couples who have had to pay for wedding postponement or cancellation fees due to the pandemic which they were not previously informed about. 

However, these fees are completely understandable since it is highly likely that your initial fees were already used up in preparation for your wedding. But that is with the assumption that there isn’t going to be a pandemic which is just not the case at present. So do make sure that you are versed with your contracts, clarify the complicated and gray areas, and clear off any misunderstandings and false assumptions.

High-Risk Commitment

The huge difference between planning a wedding before versus planning amidst a pandemic now, is the very high risk. Nothing is definite at present and having to conduct such a costly event with a high risk of it not happening can cause you to lose money and your months or years of hard work. 

At the same time, multiple postponements of your wedding is impractical and wasteful. There is an acceptable time of prolonging such an event and at such time, you have to put your feet down and decide whether to just cancel, to keep on postponing or to finally give the green light.

If you decide to do the last, there are various ways of organizing a Coronavirus-free wedding. The first factor you need to be reconsidering is your guest list. In some places, any type of gathering is not even allowed while some others are a little bit more lax. That is why it’s important to be updated with your area’s quarantine or lockdown guidelines, too.

With that in mind, couples have been getting more and more creative and resourceful just to finally be able to celebrate their special day. This could also be an opportunity for you to follow the unconventional path and go with the flow of the times. Some couples decided to simply host their wedding ceremony in their backyard, while some opted to broadcast their ceremony via video conferencing so that their family and guests wouldn’t miss out.

You could also take some of the tasks off of your vendors by using this downtime wisely and slowly working your way through the grunt of the work of your wedding planning. You can test out your creativity by crafting your wedding invitations and have your partner contribute as well. If you have an eye for photography, maybe have your take of what you want your wedding photos to look like. 

For starters, you can try a quarantine-themed wedding photoshoot to make sure that it’s safe and at the same time, you get to be creative and resourceful. Afterwards, you can try having it printed with a beautifully crafted photo book as your memory keepsake.

By the end of the day, whatever you decide, the fact that you are getting married amidst this crisis makes your wedding so much more memorable than others because despite the circumstances, you powered through the pandemic, said your vows, and began this journey into the unknown together. 

 

Know: Have Fun!

So, maybe it’s the heat of summer (or the rain in Oregon–it was pouring during a recent CLD trip up there!)… but it seems like everyone I am meeting right now in the wedding business is stressed. Hitting their limits. And I am so sad that I have even seen a few brides about to hit their insanity stage.

We get it, we seriously do. Wedding planning is HARD (which is why you have hopefully hired an amazing wedding planner to make it easier). But we also know that even if you have a wedding planner, there are times you are going to stress and totally freak-out: you have a lot of decisions to make, you might not always get every little thing that you want, that bridesmaid might be getting on your last nerve, and oh-my-goodness can you just be married already!!! Yup, we have had that conversations with our brides and in our own minds (because we were once brides too!).

This might sound totally lame, but it bears repeating: this process is pretty fun. We can’t promise it will be fun 100% of the time (floorplans are just the worst) but the really great parts will always outweigh those moments of panic (you had the perfect excuse to stuff your face with cake at the 3 tastings your scheduled).

When in doubt or in a moment of panic, we suggest you try remembering these moments:

– When you first received your engagement ring (or you had just received an acceptance of your amazing proposal), how excited you were?

– How diving into the wedding planning process was thrilling?

– How you felt when you found THE dress??  Or THE venue? Or picked THE date??

Let those happy moments flow through you, giving you awesome energy. Just keep breathing, keep smiling and power your way through. You are bound to hit something fun soon 🙂

Know: Regret

Yikes.  We all hate that word: regret.  It’s that agonizing feeling that looms in the back of our minds that we can’t quite shake.  It keeps us up at night, it makes us *wish* we could do something again.  You can only re-hash something so many times or annoy your bff with the same details so often if you want to keep her from sending you to voicemail.  So how do we live without regret?

Prevention.

Just like home insurance and car insurance and life insurance (ahem, and pet insurance … yep, Type A here).  We get these things to protect ourselves and loved ones in order to decrease our odds of the problems that could come ahead.  We had an awesome seminar from spokesperson from mywedding.com this month.  Being a medium for thousands of brides, it was great to hear him reiterate what we try so hard to tell our clients.  Hiring the right team will decrease your chances of regret.

So how do we do this when it comes to a wedding?  You hire a wedding planner.

The number one thing HE heard from clients was “I wish we’d spent more money on ___, it would have been worth it looking back”, or “If only I’d know, I would have ____”.  We’re not asking you to throw your budget out the window, and the catch 22 is you’re not supposed to know!  You’re busy with work and life and love, you’re not expected to know the whole wedding planning process when you’re only going to do it (hopefully!) once in your life.  That is why you need a team of professionals to help you.  That is our job, and we decrease your risk level when you hire the right team.

For whatever reason, a planner has the tag-line of “luxury item”.  Well, we disagree.  Do you want to be that person who finds out after their wedding that they should have hired someone to help?  Nothing is more painful for us than when we meet a newlywed and they say to us “it was so stressful and I didn’t really enjoy myself because I was so worried about ___”.  UGH.  If I’d have known then what I know now …

Well, this is us telling you!!!  You can’t claim no one has told you that you need a planner.  This day happens once.  You spend a lifetime thinking about it and up to a year getting details together for an event that takes 6 hours.  Is it really worth chancing it and looking back thinking “if only”?

Know: Wedding Dress Terminology–Silhouette

So CLD readers know that we obviously love the planning process… and that we love cake… but we also love fashion! But honestly, it is the rare occasion that we actually get to assist in the selection of the wedding dress 😦

Which is why it was so awesome that one of our upcoming brides sent us a ton of photos when she was torn between dresses! Of course, we were happy to assist and we are pleased to report she went with our suggestions. But we had so much fun talking about wedding dress styles, it got us thinking that it would be great topic to blog about! Dress selection is one of those things we suggest you start thinking about and working on fairly early in the process. Between ordering the correct size, alterations, and finding those perfect accessories, it takes a lot of time!

And to talk about the styles… there are hundreds of thousands of styles of wedding dresses! We got so caught up in the trying to explain our style preferences, we thought we’d help out our readers and pass along some basic wedding terminology that help you navigate the racks upon racks of wedding dresses. Check back often, we might make this a series because there is a lot to wade through!

We’ll start with the first word you need to know: Silhouette. This describes the basic shape of the dress and there are a few categories that dresses can fit into. We’ve included pictures of some runway looks and celebrity inspirations to get you started!

– A-Line: This has no clearly defined waist area, but flows downward to a flared skirt, creating that basic “A” shape.

Monique Lhullier A Line.

Monique Lhullier A Line.

Kate's other dress! Beautiful Alexander McQueen A-Line

Kate’s other dress! Beautiful Alexander McQueen A-Line

 

– Ballgown: Cinderella alert! Usually the upper body is very fitted with a big skirt that is usually a bit on the poofy side.

Vera Wang Ball Gown

Vera Wang Ball Gown

Kim's first dress, a dramatic ball gown also by Vera Wang!

Kim’s first dress, a dramatic ball gown also by Vera Wang!

– Empire: These dresses have a raised waist that sits right under the bust and flow to a straight or slim skirt.

Empire waist dress by Allure Romance

Empire waist dress by Allure Romance

Might be difficult to see, but Nicole's waist is defined here in this gorgeous Balenciaga dress.

Might be difficult to see, but Nicole’s waist is defined here in this gorgeous Balenciaga dress.

– Mermaid: Usually are very fitted along the body, with the sudden flare of the skirt occurring anywhere from mid-thigh to the knee.

Classic Jim Hjelm mermaid dress.

Classic Jim Hjelm mermaid dress.

Hilary Duff stuns in a mermaid design by Vera Wang.

Hilary Duff stuns in a mermaid design by Vera Wang.

– Sheath: Also known as a column dress, this is usually a very straight design fitted close to the body.

Dennis Basso classic sheath.

Dennis Basso classic sheath.

Sheath dress by Marchesa for Molly Sims.

Sheath dress by Marchesa for Molly Sims.

We hope these few simple terms help you start your wedding dress search. Stay tuned for more throughout the summer!

Know: Who pays what?

Weddings are all fun and beautiful, until you get down to the knitty gritty: how much is it gonna cost? Like most things in life, it comes down to who is paying for what, and how you can best manage your budget.  We all have big dreams for our day, but other than love (which is still the most important part!) very few of those things come for free. So where do you start?

1. Where is the money coming from?  We all know it is traditional for the parent’s of the bride to pay for the wedding, but did you know that in this same tradition, the groom’s side pays for the bridal bouquet, the groomsmen boutonnieres and the ladies corsages?  Nowadays, couples are contributing or even paying for their own weddings, and it is not uncommon for the groom’s family to give a monetary contribution.  Whatever your scenario may be, figure this out before planning.  As uncomfortable as these conversations may be, they are much easier than cancelling vendors or overspending down the line.

2. Be realistic. No matter your budget, you could always have more.  I have worked on $80,000 weddings that are pushing the budget, and I have worked on $25,000 weddings.  It doesn’t matter what your budget is, even millionaires overspend sometimes.  It is all about relativity.  Make sure to hire vendors that are in the correct price range for your budget.

3. Set your budget guidelines.  Work with a planner to give you an outline of how you should expect your expenses to go.  And stick to it.  If you go over in one area, cut back in another.

4. Choose your priorities and be willing to let other things slide.  Sadly, not everything can be a priority.  If you have a budget, then you need to choose the top 2-3 things that you want and be willing to compromise on some other items.

5. Don’t let the money eat away at you!  There are beautiful options in every budget, so relax a little and don’t get frustrated.  Don’t forget, you are getting married and it should be fun!!  Plus, you and your fiance are going to have to deal with finances for the rest of your life, so consider this your training course.

Know: Kids at Your Wedding

Kids. CLD loves kids. Kids attending and being a part of a wedding can be so truly special (and oh-so-adorable). But, kids and weddings don’t always mix, especially very, very young ones. That’s just the truth.

So, what do you do?

Sit down with your fiancée while working on your guest list and launch right into the question: “Should we allow kids at our wedding?” We have a feeling that you’ll both have a gut reaction, but take a really good look at the guest list to prepare for any potential issues.  Are there any people traveling to your wedding with small children? Is there anyone in the bridal party or immediate family with children? Do we have children and how do we want to incorporate them into our day?

Once you have that initial feeling expressed, collaborate to make a uniform policy. You have so many decisions to already make for this big day, so do yourself a favor here and stick with consistency. Here are some options:

1) Adopt a “adults-only” policy. This is a popular policy for destination weddings, super formal weddings, or the very alcohol-friendly receptions where having people under the age of 21 is going to be hard. You might feel guilty going this route, but if it’s feasible, it really is OK! Seriously, it’s OK.

2) The more kids, the merrier! If you know that kids are a must-have, go for it in full-force. If you know they are going to be a significant amount of kids (such as 10-15% of the guest list), make sure you have some kid-friendly extras included. These might include good non-alcoholic beverages, a table just for the kids, an activity room or corner, etc.

3) Immediate family and bridal party can bring their kids–they are your family! This is a good policy if there are a few special little ones that need to be there for your day as a flower girl, junior bridesmaid or ring bearer, but you don’t want to have a ton of kids for the reception. Or, let’s say you have a long engagement (over a year): during that time, the child situation in your family or with your bridal party can change pretty fast, so you might need to be accommodating to those closest to you.  But again, be consistent in your application of this–once you make an exception, be prepared to make more.

4) Our new favorite solution (that can be applied to any of these policies): hire child care. Yes, this is an extra expense and you’ll need to provide a good space for children, but this really makes a wedding run smoothly.  Ask your wedding planner for referrals or start researching babysitting agencies in your area–having those few extra hands during the day can make all the difference!

Whatever policy you do decide to go with, kids can make a lovely (and adorable!) addition to any wedding, as seen here:

Christina pins a boutonnière on quite the dapper gentleman!

Christina pins a boutonnière on quite the dapper gentleman!

 

Know: Peonies, ranunculus, roses ….

Now a days, most people see something gorgeous on pinterest (not hard to do), put it on their wedding board, show it to their florist, and then are surprised at how expensive it is.  If you’re like us, you don’t know everything about flowers (hence how you got into this expensive conundrum).   Well, we have a secret to share with you: neither do your guests!
They cannot tell the difference between flowers!  And no one except yourself and your wedding party is getting up close and personal with them.

pretty pink peonies

pretty pink peonies

Many a bride finds herself infatuated with the gorgeous peony – I would put a wager on it winning “most popular” in the high school called Bouquet.  So since peonies are one of our favorites (and let’s be honest, most people want them), we thought we’d introduce you to some of their spiritual sisters, since peonies can’t fit everyone’s budget or season. These are just a couple of the peony look-a-likes to get you started.

cabbage rose

cabbage rose

chrysanthemum

chrysanthemum

dahlia

dahlia

garden roses

garden roses

ranunculus

ranunculus

spray roses

spray roses

There are TONS of options out there that make gorgeous bouquets, so be sure to have a chat with your florist and be open to her ideas.  The key here is trust: so make sure you hire someone you are completely comfortable with to make creative decisions for you.  And as always, PLEASE, do not try this on your own.  Consult a professional, your mom and aunts and bridesmaids and everyone will thank you (they were just being polite when they said they’d help you with them if you wanted to DIY). This is your wedding, enjoy the day!  Let someone else do the dirty work 😉

Know: Wedding Guest Attire

“What do I wear today?”

Everyone is plagued by this question every day… but when it’s time to dress up for a wedding, it seems like the question is ten times more daunting than usual. So many more follow-up questions arise quickly: Where is the ceremony? Where is the reception? What time of day are we arriving? Is anything outside and what is the temperature? Does the invitation say anything?

These are of course important questions that will hopefully lead to the perfect wedding day outfit. But here are a few additional tips that might make creating your “wedding guest wardrobe” much more simpler.

Dress Code Guidelines

Some wedding invitations will cut straight to the chase and tell you what type of attire they are looking for.

White Tie: This is a rarity these days as it is the most formal of all! This requires gentlemen to wear a tuxedo with tails and a bowtie, while the ladies can go for all-out glamour in a formal, full-length ball gown with dramatic hair and makeup. It is almost like prom again for grown-ups!

Black Tie: Men still have to don those penguin suits (black tuxedos) while women can choose between a chic cocktail dress or a long evening gown.

Formal or Black Tie Optional: Men get more leeway here by deciding between a tux or a formal dark suit, while women are again deciding between cocktail dresses and long evening gowns.

Semi-Formal, Dressy Casual or Cocktail: Men can take it down a notch to a classy suit and tie (fabric and color can vary depending on the time of day), while women can bust out that cocktail dress or a fabulous and dressy skirt-top combo.

Casual: The easiest one of all folks! Men can wear dress pants with a button down (bring a sport jacket in case of a chill). Ladies can go with a sundress.

Perfect attire for Semiformal or Cocktail!

Perfect attire for Semiformal or Cocktail!

Variations

Beach Weddings: Formal beach weddings require a summer suit for the gentlemen (think linen and light) while a more formal cocktail sundress is appropriate for ladies (but you can wear sandals). More casual beach weddings will adhere to casual standards.

Theme Weddings: Yes, these do exist and are quite fun. Get into it.

Emo, Goth, or “Quirky Cocktail”: These variations also exist and can be difficult to define. Never be afraid to ask the bride or grooms for a better explanation.

Purple and casual fit the bill for an outdoor carnival wedding.

Purple and casual fit the bill for an outdoor carnival wedding.

Shoes

Always, always, always wear something comfortable. Men have it so much easier these days! Sports companies like Nike and Adidas are combining forces with amazing shoemakers like Cole Haan and Rockport to make gorgeous wingtip loafers feel like your favorite pair of running shoes. Women, on the other hand, will have to continue to search for the holy grail of women’s shoes: the pair that is beautiful, comfortable, and make your legs go on for days!  Some shoes are coming close, but thankfully wedges are now a popular and widely accepted go-to shoe for semiformal and cocktail weddings. We only request that if you are attending a beach wedding, to not wear flip-flops unless provided (or approved) by the wedding couple.

Weather Conditions

It is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before a wedding, even if the entire shindig is taking place indoors. We’ve seen unexpected thunderstorms nearly ruin chiffon dresses, gorgeous stilettos marred by golf course mud, and a few great wet-dress-shirt-contests for men without jackets.

Color

Colors can actually be a difficult thing to judge for a wedding. It’s best to stick with neutral shades (you don’t want to be the neon standout in group photos!) like black, navy, or soft pastels. The wedding invitation might give you clues on the actual wedding colors so you don’t end up looking like a member of the bridal party.

But we at CLD can unilaterally and universally agree on the #1 RULE of dressing for a wedding (especially women): please, please, please do not wear white. This includes bright white, cream, off-white, ecru, or white with a different color print on it.  You also do not get to cover it up with a different color cardigan or blazer on top.  While we certainly believe that weddings never have to follow rules or traditions, this is one rule we are not going to budge on!

Happy shopping and here’s to looking fabulous at the next wedding you attend!

Wedding planners have it easy---we just have to blend in to the crowd!

Wedding planners have it easy—                         we just have to blend in to the crowd!

 

Know: How many cameras does it take …

With media at our fingertips, people now feel the need to capture everything on film, or it’s almost as if it didn’t happen.  With Facebook posts and instagram, snapchat and vine, not to mention twitter we want everything to be captured and shared at a moments notice. I still remember when I thought “why would I need a camera on my phone?” And then I quickly realized the value when I would be out shopping and couldn’t decide whether a certain pair of shoes was right for an outfit!

And that is just regular, daily life.  So when it comes to your wedding, one of the most important days of your existence, it’s no wonder people go crazy over making sure everything is documented!  We want professional and amateur photogs alike to be recording the whole process, so here at CLD we have pulled together some of our fave options for wedding pics.

1. Professional Photographer
Obviously.  But please know how important this is – nothing take place of a real photographer.  Nothing.  They have experience and actually make their living doing this, so do not underestimate their value and why you need them NO MATTER WHAT.  No number of iPhones or aunts and uncles who hobby on the side as a photog can replace them. If I need to elaborate, please email me so I can virtually smack you in the noggin and remind you again why you need one.

2. Videographer
These guys are awesome.  Have you ever talked to someone involved in film?  I guarantee you, you will be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about what they do (or maybe that’s just because we’re partially based in LA and we know a lot of these peeps). Who doesn’t want their own romance film about their wedding?  With a highlight reel and music to fit the mood, videogs work hard to capture your feeling, and it is a wonderful addition to have. That said, it can also be pricey and is often looked at upon as a “luxury” item because you don’t “need” them.  We can also say we’ve never met anyone who weren’t happy they had one!

3. The Photobooth
Photobooths are not necessarily as “hot” as they were four years ago, but they are definitely not going away! These devices are a lot of fun for you to capture your guests having fun, for a cute guest book, and to provide a little entertainment as something for friends and family “to do” when their feet get tired from the dance floor.  Do your research.  Some are cool old school booths you go inside, some are pop-up tents, and others are referred to as “open air”, meaning you’re not enclosed but are standing in front of a backdrop with a photog taking the pics.  Prices can vary greatly, so make sure to investigate to figure out why and then choose the right one for you budget.  This is definitely not a place to blow your budget, there is something for everyone’s checkbook.

4. Twist on Photobooth
These are the new photo booths, that are switching things up from the standard.  From slow motion video clips to virtual graffiti walls, these are the “something unique” that is on the list after “something blue”.  Feel out your crowd and make sure this is the right group to participate: college buddies = yes, weddings full of elder family members = probably not.

5. The Smartphone
A must have, these guys come to a very small price from free to $100.  Of course, we all love instagram, so you could just create your own hashtag and make sure all your guests include it in every picture they post!  There are companies such as Wedding Snap and Capsule Cam where you can have your guests download the app, sign in, and take photos to share with everyone.  These are awesome for a wedding getaway when you have several days with people and want to share all your photos just with your group and download them when you get home.  No need to tag every person in the photo, everyone will see it who is logged in. This is so you can share those special moment!
Image

We know there are millions of options out there, so take a little time and do some research or hire someone to help you choose what is best for you and your budget to capture those priceless moments at your wedding.  Whatever you do, just remember that this is for fun and try not to get overwhelmed with all the options!

Venue Restrictions

It’s easy to fall in love with a venue.  It has the perfect ceremony location overlooking the ocean, or the most beautiful arches in the chapel … and when we’re quick to sign that contract, sometimes we tend to glaze over are what restrictions are included in the package. Like when I had a bride find out that she had to pay $11 plus a $3.50 set-up fee per chair – for chairs that were already in the restaurant!  Believe it or not, these crazy things exist out there and it’s up to your and your planner to read for these signs.

Restrictions vary depending on the type of location, whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, blank canvas or private estate.  There are different things you should look out for.  Just a few to consider:

  • Is there a noise curfew?
  • Will there be trash cans on that open ranch or do you or the caterer need to take care of it?
  • What about bathrooms – how many people can they hold?
  • Are tables and chairs included in the pricing?
  • What is the night like and will you need to bring in extra lighting?
  • Are there parking restrictions for guests?
  • Do you need a fire permit or insurance?

The list is quite varying depending on where you are, so be sure to ask all the questions and read all the fine lines.  These are completely standard items, however, you should make sure you know everything before signing in case there are any deal breakers.