Always the Planner… Now a Bride.

Today, we have a special post from our Lead Associate Coordinator, Courtney Brust. It’s special because she is getting married this Saturday.. and she is sharing her wedding planning experience and tips from a planner-turned-bride!

NathanCourtney

The final countdown is here. Actually 3 days to be exact.

While wedding planning, the question I get asked the most isn’t the normal “How did he propose?” “Can I see the ring?” –  it’s “since you’re a wedding coordinator, how has it been planning your own wedding?”

For the most part it’s been wonderful – and I think that is what everyone expects to hear; that it’s a breeze – that I have it “easier” than other brides.  Which again, for the most part, is true. I have industry knowledge that has let me make great vendor selections, keep within budget (..sort of), and saved money by not having to hire a full wedding planner. And if I’m looking for advice – I just happen to have a boss who is willing to share her expertise.

But when I get asked this question, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is usually a *sigh* – which tends to shock people!

Let me tell you something: Planning a wedding is easy – it’s hard to be a bride.

Be the bride, not the planner.

I’m sure anyone who is a planner or knows a planner, understands the characteristics we have. We like to have control of situations, we have a knack for details, and logistics come easy. This is me to a T – which makes it BEYOND difficult to just let go.

I’ve been told numerous times – “You need to be the bride. You need to enjoy this.” And this goes out to every bride: we walk into vendor meetings all business – when what we’re really missing is the big picture. This is YOUR wedding day. Every planning experience happens once. So for the control-driven brides like myself: let it go! Be the bride and let your vendors talk about things you already know and just enjoy the fact this actually happening for YOUR wedding. And keep in mind that your fiance may have no idea whats going on – and not letting the vendor talk about all the facts and details because “you know this” , probably leaves fiance in the dark. Poor, poor fiance.

Trust the professionals

Trying to have confidence in your vendors, mixed with the inability to let go of control is a hot mess waiting to happen. When you basically had all your details and wedding timeline done a month after you were engaged, it’s hard to hand that over to someone else. But these people are professionals. When I work with a bride & groom on their wedding day, I hope to have their full trust that I can take care of their wedding day just as they want it. If I expect that out of my clients, shouldn’t I be giving that to my vendors too? For all brides: Trust. Your. Vendors. But of course, don’t be afraid to speak up when something isn’t the way you envisioned. Let me tell you, I make sure I do this often :) It’s your day, your vision, with professional tweaks from someone who actually does this for a living (that last sentence should be easy to understand why I’m so conflicted, haha)

Actually writing the checks

When we work with clients at Sweetchic, we keep their budget in mind throughout the whole planning process. When I work with bride and grooms for day-of coordination – they’ve basically handled the budget themselves and may just need suggestions on tipping vendors. So although we like to keep them on track – we never handle the money.

It’s kind of like when it was so much easier spending your parents money when you were younger, but as you made your own, it was harder to spend coming out of your own pocket. That’s how we’re feeling now. I’m not used to booking vendors — and actually paying for it. Each check written and credit card swiped creates a bit of uneasiness.

Tip to stay on budget:
1) When you make an initial budget to stay within – make sure you have some cushion room.  The “cushion” will be for those extra things you just “had to have”, unexpected costs, and of course, gratuity & tips. A good amount would be a 10% cushion, but at minimum a few extra thousands.
2) Make a budget spreadsheet, broken down into each category (i.e. venue, catering, decor/floral, apparel, entertainment, stationary, etc.) — and stick to it. I actually overheard a woman shopping for her wedding the other day and she was complaining that she’d have to go home and track down what she just spent, since her fiance is very strict about their budget spreadsheet. You’ve got a good man, honey.
3) Keep track of where “wedding money” is. Keep it all in one place such as a checking account or even a savings and withdraw as needed. It’s like those old ING commercials, “This is orange money. I can’t use this.”

More than just the bride & grooms’s opinions…

Sure parents, siblings, and friends may come to initial meetings and some vendor meetings, but most of the time we’re just communicating with the couple. This makes our job easier for the most part. Then I step into the role of a bride and realize how many opinions are really coming your way. This is what my clients deal with? People’s opinions on not keeping the traditional “not seeing each other before the ceremony” and when we’re going to cut our cake?  Let’s not forget the parents. We may feel obligated to respect and follow our parents wishes because they may be paying for all or some of the wedding, or you just don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with your in laws.

Here’s our tip: find out your parents priorities early. Just as you have expectations for your wedding – they may too. If they have different opinions than the couple, as long as it doesn’t completely stomp on the couples dreams, try to meet at a middle ground where everyone is happy. If you lay out the expectations and priorities from all parties in the beginning, there will be no surprises (hopefully!) in the middle of planning when you had no idea that a parent wanted a certain thing or felt a certain way.

But do keep in mind that it is your day, and if you and your fiance really want something that maybe isn’t the favorite of a parent’s, go with your gut feeling.

Day-of Relaxation…TBD

I’m not quite sure how I’ll be on my wedding day. As of now, I feel like I’ll be an anxious wreck wondering if everything is under control. It wouldn’t matter how many wedding coordinators I have there, because I’m not in control, I get nervous. But this is NOT how I want to spend my day. I want to fully enjoy the moment and all the emotions – with the exception of stress. Feeling like me about your wedding day?

Tip Number One: hire a wedding planner, or at least a day of coordinator. Trust us ;)
Tip Number Two: As much as you don’t want to have your family and friends help (and your wedding coordinator says they will take care of everything ,because we will..), they will WANT to help. Even if its just little things. Grabbing something for you here, relaying a message there. Don’t ask them to set-up the centerpieces, but if you forgot to tell you coordinator something, have someone else call them. It’s the little details like that that can stress you out – so its better to hand them to someone else.

Keep calm and be the bride.

Wish Upon a Wedding – Lori & Mark

As the Marketing & Social Media chair, I am so proud to be on the Chicago Board of Wish Upon A Wedding… and excited for our newest  couple, Lori & Mark, to celebrate their wedding at Room 1520. They will say “I do!” this Sunday on St. Patrick’s Day! To read more about this deserving couple and their inspiring story, check out their Love Story on the WUW Blog!

Lori & Mark Engagement Session (2)

Wish Upon a Wedding  is the world’s first non-profit  wish granting organization providing weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.

So many amazing vendors have volunteered their time, resources and talent to making this wedding possible, and we couldn’t make these wedding wishes come true without you… Thank You!

Wedding Planner: Beth Bernstein, SQN Events
Venue: Room 1520
Catering: Paramount Events
Photographer: Rick Aguilar Studios 
DJ: Toast & Jam
Floral: Flower Firm
Invitation: Natural Impressions
Make-Up & Hair: Wendy City Faces
Bakery: Elysia Root Cakes 
Ceremony/Cocktail Hour Musicians: Larry King Orchestra 
Photobooth: Shutterbooth
Favors: Weddingstar
Videography: Aria Films
Jewelry: Tejani

Sweetchic Holiday Brunch!

It’s the Friday before Christmas… and it truly is my favorite time of year!

Of course now that my little team has grown – I went from one assistant in 2010, to three assistants in 2011 – I had to have a Sweetchic Holiday Party! Since everyone’s social calendar is so full around the holidays, I decided to host a brunch so as to not compete with any other plans.

Hollie, Jessica and Lindsey each brought their significant others and we had a lovely morning full of good company, yummy food, mimosas and coffee… LOTS of coffee!

Mmmm, I LOVE mimosas!

Sweetchic Events holiday party mimosas

A team photo… Cheers! (L – R) Lindsey, Hollie, Jessica & Charlene.

Sweetchic Events holiday party team photo

We can’t forget the guys… what a good looking bunch! (L – R) Dustin, Peter, Borton & Peter.

Sweetchic Events holiday party guys

Sweetchic Events holiday party table setting

One the menu: baked french toast, ham & cheese quiche, and hearty sausages.

Sweetchic Events holiday party table food

Time to eat!

 

Yum, I love this recipe (thanks, Paula Deen!)

Sweetchic Events holiday party ham cheese chives quiche

And homemade chocolate & spice biscotti; it’s SO easy to make! (note: easy on the cayenne!)

Sweetchic Events holiday party homemade chocolate biscotti

Sweetchic Events holiday party presents

Happy Holidays, from Sweetchic Events!

Sweetchic Events holiday party group photo