Monday, August 31, 2009

Plan a Wedding in 1 Month - Why to Hire a Planner

(photo courtesy of Cain Creative Photography)

Having a Professional Wedding Consultant or Planner can be one of the greatest things that you spend money from your budget on. I am a bit of a fan of having a Planner, especially since I am one but from so many of my clients I have heard, "What would I have done without you?". We've had referrals from past Mothers of the Brides who have said that their friend raved over how much having a wedding planner saved them in both sanity and time! Our motto is "making your dream event a reality." We want you to be able to relax and enjoy your event that you have put together with the expectation of seeing your dreams come to life. You don't need to be the bride laying linens or putting together bouquets or making sure that your vendors arrive on time and prepared.
When you decide to hire a planner, do be mindful of who you're meeting with and treat this as you would any other decision in life. Here are a few pointers to remember when hiring someone:
  • How well do you get along with them? Make sure you enjoy being around them and working with them because you will spend more time with them during your planning process than your fiance' more than likely.
  • Hire someone you can't live without... what do I mean? Read this article.
  • Do they have the credentials to back up what they offer? Do they have references available if desired?
  • Are they a part of any organizations that keep them accountable for good business?
  • Do they continually work on their business attending conferences, learning the new tricks of the trade, and networking with new and viable vendors?
  • Is this a hobby for them or a focused career?
  • How does she handle pressure? What types of situations has she/he been in and how did they handle them?
Many brides also think that having a site with a coordinator will suffice. Check out the blog posting I wrote here about this topic and evaluate for yourself.
Also, be aware if you're hiring a design firm or a wedding consultant. Some consultants, or planners, do not offer design services. (Simply Perfect Peace does offer these services.) Here is an excellent article discussing the differences.
Please be aware of who you are hiring! A well trained, reputable planner will not promise you thousands of dollars saved, they will not promise you a perfect wedding, and they will not promise you planning for $200.00. We can't promise you that we'll save you thousands of dollars from your budget (we'll guide within your budget), we can't promise you a perfect wedding because there aren't any (things arise and a good planner can handle those), and a good planner doesn't work for nothing (it's many, many long hours and weekends). Many brides enter into the planning field with the desire to plan because they love weddings, but many of them burn out very quickly because this is a hard business to continue in and love what you're doing every day.
Not only is your planner going to be your confidant, your psychiatrist, your friend, your organizer, your sounding board, your relief, your sanity, and your guide, but they are also there to get you down the aisle and handle that gracefully. We love hearing brides say, "What would I have done without you?", and we would love to hear that from you! Happy Planning!

Need Further Assistance?
For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plan a Wedding in 1 month - Budgets!!

If you haven't noticed everything surrounding your wedding goes back to budget, budget, and more budget. Budget should ultimately be the first thing that you discuss with your fiance' and parents to decide on how much you want to spend on the wedding, what's available, and who is going to contribute. More and more couples are choosing to pay for the weddings themselves, giving them the freedom to use their money how they would like. But there are some things to keep in mind when determining your budget.

* Don't get caught up in the emotions that come with planning your wedding and your dreams, i.e. Platinum Weddings, Bridezilla's, and base your budget on that. It's very easy when you first get engaged to watch all of the shows on t.v. and read all of the wedding magazines and get caught up in the glamorous details that a wedding can involve. Do keep in mind that all of those little details cost dollars and add up very quickly. Step back and think about what is most important to you and realize that this is one day and you don't want to break the bank and go into huge amounts of credit card debt. Keep this question in the back of your mind while planning, if you don't have the money within the budget to pay for it, do you really need it?
* Have expectations, but realize that those cost money. Many people are very naive to the cost of weddings. I have had many brides who have come to me with a grand plan of a seated dinner for 150, chair covers, expensive linens, wanting lots of flowers, etc. but they have a $10,000 budget. You have to be realistic and know that these things cost money.
* One thing to consider within your budget is a planner. Even if you can't afford to hire a planner for the entire process, do consider some consultation hours for her to help you get on the right track in setting up a realistic budget, vendor suggestions based on budget, etc. Many brides believe that a planner is an extravagant purchase, a luxury item, but in many cases planners can save you the money that you spend on them. Not always is this a guarantee, but they can also direct you to the best vendors within your budget, as well as help you with cost cutting ways that your guests will never notice.
* Don't get sucked into the media behind weddings. Shows like Platinum Weddings, Whose Wedding is it Anyways, Martha Stewart Weddings, etc., although they are fun to watch, are not realistic. If you have an oversize budget, wonderful for you and you'll be able to be extravagant with your choices, but if not don't use this as a guideline for your wedding. Your budget is your budget. Don't be ashamed if your budget doesn't have 6 zeros supporting it. Remember who you are and what your wedding is about, not about impressing the next bride.
* Don't be afraid of the dreaded "budget" conversation, but take time to have that relaxed conversation over dinner or wine with all of the parties involved and know up front what you have to work with.
* Talk with your friends who have gotten married, or join the many boards that are available at your fingertips with brides who are in the process or just finished the process and find out from them what their experience has been, how they saved, and what they spent. Do your homework, don't assume as to what wedding prices look like.
* Also, be savvy about your wedding. There may be some ways to cut corners, but don't become a DIY (do it yourself) bride and take on more than you can handle.

All in all, consider you and your fiance' and what you want your day to be. Think about your priorities and what's most important. Do you want that great band? Do you want over the top decor? Do you want excellent food and drink? Establish your priorities and your boundaries and the planning process will go much more smoothly!

Happy Planning
For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Plan a Wedding in 1 Month - Floor Plans

Floor plans are such a boring, yes, very boring, topic to discuss, but can also be a very tedious task. If you don't have a planner, not many of the books out there can assist you in that topic. If there are any that talk about this, it is very minimal and doesn't explain much about what you need to know. There are many things that you need to consider when laying out your floor plan: Space? Size of tables? Dance floor? Food space? Any obstacles? Number of guests? Seating for everyone? Here are some pointers to help you in designing your floor plan:
  • When you meet with your catering manager or coordinator, get a layout that shows the size of the room or rooms you will be using and definitely ask if they have suggestions as to what has worked in the past, what doesn't work, and if they have any used floor plans on hand that you can take a look at. Many locations, like hotels or event spaces used frequently, will have this information on hand for you, or may provide this to you when you first begin looking. They may have one that has worked well in the past that you would be happy with, and that will save you the trouble. But you may want to make your event special in designing your own plan. On this layout make sure that the areas included on the map are a stage, columns, etc. that may make certain situations difficult. Also, map where the electrical outlets are located to think about those that will need power and their location in the room.
  • After you have determined how much space you have to work with, this will help you determine if the tables you want will work. Do you want all round, square, do you want a mixture of round, square, and rectangular? Determining this will help you see if the tables are going to work in the space. Some rental companies that you work with can provide you a CAD, or drawing layout of the room with all of the elements included, so that you can see your room in 2-D, and sometimes 3-D, and see if there any changes you want to make. Not all rental companies will assist with this, and some charge, so your wedding planner will come in handy with her floor plan software in this case.
  • When considering how much space you will need, there are some handy tips for dimensions that you need to keep in mind, especially keeping in mind if you have any plus sized adults that will need room:

    • Keep in mind that people need between 2-3 feet of elbow room, especially if you're doing a seated dinner, between them and the next guest for easy movement.
    • Tables need to be at least 4-5 feet a part so that your guests have easy move ability in the space.
    • Always keep in mind if you're going to need to add a stage for your band, or DJ, and if you want a dance floor. If so, what size dance floor will you need? Do you have a large dancing group? If so, you need to allot a good size dance floor for your guests.
    • Try to keep all of your guests localized so that they don't have to go from place, to place, to place to see all of the evenings events.
    • At an event we had recently, the guest book was at the ceremony for a short period of time. Once a line began forming it was taken up and we displayed it at the cocktail hour. Guests didn't miss it, there wasn't a long line, and it gave them something to do during the cocktail hour as well.
    • Always make sure that your older guests aren't seated near a speaker that may blow them out of their seat. Keep that in mind when you're making your seating arrangements, as well as placement of your tables.
    • Consider the flow of your event. Take a "walk" through the space in your mind as to how you have it laid out and make sure that it flows well and that your guests are going to easily navigate and have fun at your party!
  • When you are finalizing your floor plan, create a drawing to pass along for the set up. If you have a planner, this is something she will finalize and pass along to those for set up as well.
I know it's difficult to keep your guests comfort, but also your style in mind. But, overall know that your guests are there to celebrate with you and your new husband and they will have a blast no matter what!
For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Plan a Wedding in 1 Month - Guest Lists

Guest lists are something that cause one of the biggest arguments that a lot of engaged couples and their families deal with. How to separate the guest lists between the families? Should we invite all family, what about friends of both the parents and the bride and groom? This is a tough topic and one that many of my clients seek guidance on. In your beginning planning stages it's nice to decide on how you want to divide the number of guests. It's typically nice to allow his parents a number, your parents a number, and both the bride and groom. Easily if you want to have no more than 200 guests, you would each get 25% of the guest list. You don't need to invite every person you've ever known in your life. Consider who you still are close to, who you talk to, and who is most important to be a part of your big day! You can't invite everyone because you worry their feelings will be hurt, unless you want to have each guest pay a cover charge! :) And we know that's not an option.
When developing your guest list, create an excel spreadsheet or use a wedding planning software program that gives you organization and you can also track thank you notes and RSVP's here as well. Here are some pointers to consider when you're finalizing your guest list:
  • Think about what type of reception you would like to hold, sit down, buffet, hor's doeurves, cocktail, as this will help you determine how much you will likely be spending per person. Do you want your wedding to be intimate, or a big gala for everyone you know to attend? Take a look at the budget that you have determined, whether it is you and your fiance' footing the bill, or if all parties are a part of the plans. Knowing your budget is going to help you determine how many people you can have. A $10,000 budget is not going to be feasible for a sit-down dinner for 200 people. It's just not feasible.
  • When you're putting your list together after determining your budget think about those people on your first developed list. Have you seen or talked to these people in the last six months? Do you have a close relationship with these people? If you have a list that everyone has contributed to and you see that your budget is not going to be a feasible amount, continue to whittle your list down to a number that you're comfortable with within your budget.
  • Also, consider if you're going to have children to be a part of the wedding. If not, will you provide babysitting services for them? Typically guests should know that if the children's names aren't on the invitation they aren't invited, however not all guests pick up on that or know that form of etiquette. It is considered to be against etiquette to put "Adults Only" on your invite.
  • Don't let your emotions get involved in choosing who will stay and who will go. Weddings are a lot of money and do consider that if you want to have everyone you know and love there, you may be footing a lot more money than you had desired. Do keep in mind that people understand that weddings cost money. They will understand.
  • What about an "A" and "B" list for guests. This is a sticky situation because what if one friend gets an invite and another doesn't and they find out. Then weeks later they receive an invite... they're going to know. The postal service isn't that slow. Don't put yourself in this situation to possibly offend and break relationships. See this an opportunity to save money if someone says no.
  • Some couples have asked, if I invite them to my shower, does that necessarily mean they have to be invited to the wedding. That is a big YES! You can't invite guests to the shower, and receive a gift, and not invite them to the wedding. This is most definitely applicable to the shower that your bridesmaid's or close family my throw for you. Another question commonly asked by brides is if their co-workers through them a shower are they obligated to invite. Not at all. This was a choice for them to throw the shower and don't feel that you're obligated to invite them to the wedding, but don't forget them in your list of Thank You notes.
Any thoughts or questions about guest lists? Feel free to leave comments for assistance.
up next - The tedious boring task of floor plans...

For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plan a Wedding in 1 Month

Let's keep it moving forward! So, as promised we're going to discuss the next item on your list when planning your wedding (or event) in one month which is location, location, location.

Dinolfo's Banquets (Mokena)

There are so many things to consider when looking at locations and deciding if this is the place that's perfect for you and your fiance'. First in looking at locations, consider your guest list and how many guests you're planning on attending. Tomorrow's post will discuss more on guest lists, but take an approximate headcount to know when moving into your search what size location you should be looking at. Falling in love with a location that can't house your 300 guests would be such a let down and we want this to be a happy experience! Here are some elements to consider when looking into your location:
  • Availability: Make sure that when you approach the sites coordinator or sales manager that you let them know of the date that you're interested in and if you have any flexibility on that. If it's a site that you fall in love with, your flexibility on your date may make the difference as to whether you can host your party there or not. Also another thing to consider, time. Do you have a time frame that you have the site for? Does your event need to be over by 10:30 because of music? Does everything have to be out, including you and your guests, by midnight? Can your vendors come in earlier, rather than later? Also, consider if your location has overtime charges, what they are, and how those issues are resolved. Also, will your location be hosting other events that may overlap?
  • Decison: Make sure to see the space before settling on it. If you have a planner who is scouting sites for you, she will have your best interest at heart. However, you do need to see a location and know for sure it is for you. For out of town couples this may not be something that is completely possible, so check out sites and have your planner send in site photographs.
  • Parking: Is the location that you're choosing have parking available to your guests? Is it free? Would you be hosting your guests parking with vouchers or valet? Will your guests have to walk a far distance from paid parking to get to your location? Also, in a downtown area consider the events that may be going on your wedding weekend. There are lots of local entertainment calendar's to check into to make sure your guests aren't going to be totally inconvenienced to be at your event. Yes, it is your once in a lifetime and your guests do want to be there, but do have their interests at heart as well.
  • Contracts: Make sure that you read all of the fine print on the contract before signing your signature on the dotted line. Some venues may require you to put forth more money than you would prefer, and there are many that have very strict cancellation policies. Also, make sure that your food/beverage minimum is well spelled out, as well as all of the preliminary details of your event like timeframe, rooms, fee, etc. Make sure that your location can't boot you if a better "deal" comes along for them to make more money.
  • Liability: More and more venues, especially historic locations, are putting into their contracts that the rentee must have liability insurance, most require $1,000,000, to host your event at their venue. You can arrange this one-day policy through your personal insurance company or through companies that focus on wedding insurance like Wed Safe. You must provide a certificate to your host venue to show the purchase and coverage before your event, most require 30 days prior. Even if your venue does not require it, I definitely suggest considering it.
  • Decor/Rentals: Does your space have decor available for your use/rental, or will you need to provide everything? Does your space offer items that you may have to rent at other locations, such as tables, chairs, linens, tableware like china, glass and silver, etc.? We will discuss these options in a later posting if you choose a site that doesn't have all of these available.
  • Staff: Does your location take care of clean up, or do you need to pay someone extra to come in? Who will you be working with through the duration of your event and who will be your planner's day of contact? Who will sign off on your BEO (Banquet Event Order which is the entire days structure in writing)? Do they have a staff member that will stay the duration of your event and attend to your vendors? More than likely not, so you do need to consider hiring a wedding coordinator if you don't have a planner. See my post regarding this here.
  • Power/Lighting: Make sure that your location has a sufficient amount of power/lighting available for your vendors, especially your band/DJ and keeping in mind your photographer/videographer may have equipment to plug in as well.
There are lots of elements to consider. That's why a planner is must! :) Next up, your guest list!
For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Monday, August 24, 2009

30 days (1 month) to Plan a Wedding

I thought I'd do a series (collaborating with another coordinator) on planning a wedding in a month. So today marks the beginning of the Simply Perfect Peace 1 Month to Plan a Wedding Series. Over the next month, I will go through all of the huge highlights in planning a wedding, questions you need to consider, and items that will need to be done. Sit back, enjoy, and take advantage of the advice from a planner. Feel free to leave comments, I encourage you to, with any questions you have or would like for me to address.

After every bride gets engaged, what's the first thing that you begin to look for, and at the one month mark should most definitely: Exhibit A below! (photo by destination wedding photography)

Your dress typically takes between 3-6 months, sometimes less or more, before you will receive it after ordering, depending on the designer that you choose. With only one month before your wedding you would have to start searching the stores for a purchase off the rack. Most companies aren't able to do a super rush unless you're lucky and have your bridal store call and they have your size in stock available for immediate delivery. But this will cost you. Most stores will offer you a discounted rate for purchasing off the rack. With that in mind, you may have to purchase a dress that is slightly large and would need to have alterations made and a steam cleaning. Make sure to check with your shop, and the suggestions of your designer, as to the best way to clean your wedding dress.

If you're able to have plenty of time before you have to purchase your dress, here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping:

* Do your research! Take the time to look through magazines and websites to find the styles, designers, and fabrics that truly appeal to you. Do you want strapless, halter, or a dress with sleeves, do you want a full skirt, something body hugging, or A-line, do you want a cocktail length or full length. So many details, so little time! It's very overwhelming to jump into the wedding dress shopping mode if you truly don't have any idea as to what you want. There are so many styles, fabrics, silhouettes, and designs to choose from. Come armed with those pictures for your wedding dress shopping trips and do your research to find which stores carry which designers in your city. Also, if you're up for a weekend getaway, several of the larger cities like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, have stores that will do sample sales worth checking out if you're in search of a designer dress from Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Kenneth Pool, etc.
* A resource like The Knot can help you in your search and seeing the latest designs and pricing, as well as what wedding dress shops around you carry these designs.
* When considering your dress style, do keep in mind the date you'll be getting married and your comfort. For instance, if you're getting married in the winter, you're not going to want a style that is slinky and form fitting, but more of a fuller style.
* Have fun wedding dress shopping! Don't visit too many shops in one day, and don't take too many opinions with you. Meaning don't take all 8 bridesmaids, both moms, and every friend in between. When you get too many opinions, it becomes very stressful for you! Make a day of it, get some lunch or dinner and wine and discuss what you've tried on and narrow down to help you make a decision.
* Think about your body shape and what you feel the most comfortable in. If you're fuller on top, definitely consider a style that is going to keep the "girls" in and be more of a flattering style. You don't want to be doing the tug all night to make sure you're not falling out. Choose something that makes you feel confident and sexy, not body conscious and worried about how you're going to look in your pictures and to everyone else. Try on all different styles because you will be surprised what you will and will not like once it's on.
* Don't size yourself up and go with a something smaller with the dream that you're going to loose lots of weight. If you do, wonderful for you, but it's hard to fit into a dress that's too small. It's much easier to take it in.
* Make sure that when ordering you're sized well. Have them size you up and size you up again. Measurements are very hard to take and you don't want your dress coming in way too small or way too big. Also, consider the undergarments that you may wear as well. Make sure when making a decision on the size that you see the measurement chart and agree with the wedding gown shop on your size before you sign.
* Before signing on the dotted line, make sure the following is in writing: Designer and style #, Price of dress, Size, Color of Dress specified, date of expected delivery, payment schedule, and a cancellation policy that is clear.
* When purchasing, set a budget as to how much you want to spend. If your style is bigger than your budget and you're set on a designer such as Monique Lhuillier, check out sites like Pre Owned Wedding Dresses for those designers that have been worn and brides are needing to sell their gown. Definitely benefit from a bride who paid full price!
* Be prepared when purchasing to put 1/3 to 1/2 down when ordering your gown. Once that deposit is paid, it is set, so be sure that you've made the right decision. My biggest suggestion on purchasing is to put your dress on a credit card. Pay in full if able, but this is a protective measure to keep your purchase safe.
* When you pick up your dress, make sure to try it on before leaving to make sure it is the correct size, there aren't any mistakes such as stains that can't be resolved or tears, and ask the wedding gown shop for alteration suggestions if they're needed, even just for your bustle.
* Most of all, be yourself and stay true to who you are the design that fits you best, not what's in style. Styles go in and out, but a classic is something that you feel beautiful in!

Up next: locations & guest lists...

For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Candy Bars or Sweet Tables

Many brides are asking for Sweet Tables! The concept is to have a variety of sweets, usually candies that the guests can help themselves to. When done well, it is a great way to create an amazing visual display at the reception as well as encourages mobility and conversation.

Plan the buffet based on the overall look, rather than quantities per guest. There will be more candies this way but it will look amazing and be a talking point for guests throughout the night.

Tradition meets Modern
Almonds have been used since ancient times to celebrate weddings and births. Over the centuries, this developed into colored sugared almonds.
Traditionally, five (Jordan) almonds are presented in a tulle and given to guests to represent fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness. The bitterness of the almond and the sweetness of the coated candy represent the bitter sweetness of a marriage.

Getting Started
- Budget for it! candies are inexpensive however buying large quantities and displaying them can add up.
- Consider what yours and your fiancé's favorite candies are to make it more meaningful.
- What are the colors and themes of the day/the reception? Tie the buffet in to this theme.
- How you imagine the table to look. I.E brightly colored, all one color, personalized.
- Discuss the concept with the venue and ensure they have the space and a large enough table.
- Consider displaying the cake on the table to add to the overall look and also draw guests attention to it.

- M&M's can be custom ordered in 25 different colors, with initials and even sketches for a yummy personalized touch. A lot of party stores are now carrying colored M&M's.
-Jelly Belly's are also a good treat for guests. They come in a variety of flavors to add some spice to your table.

Jars and containers
- Apothecary jars look glamorous and will show off the candies. Try home stores. In Stock jars of different sizes can range from $10 and up.
- Clear glass or crystal jars create a classic look, glossy black glass is modern and different.
- Open topped bowls and vases look great with candies overflowing out and also makes life easy for guests.

- Renting the jars, platters and bowls can cut back on the cost.
- Have plenty of candy scoops on hand- no one will want to touch the jars after people have their hands in them!
- Have the emcee remind guests to visit the buffet throughout the night to avoid chaos at midnight when guests are leaving.
- Displaying simple candies in unexpected ways makes the buffet fun and unique. This pink dessert table by event coordinator Vicky Crease features m&m's (or maybe smarties?) in shot glasses!

Well thats it's for now - happy planning
For All Your Event Planning Needs Contact
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wedding Planner vs On-Site Coordinator

I'm sure other professional planners will admit that so many times during a consultation a client will say, "My location has an on-site coordinator that will take care of me the day of." But please consider, will the on-site coordinator do all for you that your wedding planner will? From many, many weddings and past experiences, as wedding planners we have done a variety of things for brides, each wedding being out of the ordinary, and to this day I haven't met an on-site coordinator that will do any of the following. Before you make the statement above, think about if your on-site coordinator will REALLY go above and beyond for you.

1. Your bridesmaid's are wearing strands of pearls and pearl earrings. 3 of your 6 bridesmaid's didn't get that memo and now we are 3 short, meaning we make a run to the nearest location that would have that item and pick up those 3 sets you need for a complete look. Would your on-site coordinator do that?

2. You have a gorgeous DESIGNER wedding dress, your dream design, that has an incredible French bustle, and before you and your new husband step out onto the dance floor, you need the incredibly difficult ribbon system decoded to create this one of a kind bustle you spent months, and many dollars, designing. To create this, your wedding planner is tucked between your legs :) to make this incredible design happen.... where is the on-site coordinator when you need her?

3. Unfortunately, one of your dear guests didn't RSVP for themselves and their wonderful boyfriend and now we're in a seating dilemma for your plated dinner. They don't see an escort card for them as a couple and now we need to make rearrangements for your guests to join the party. Did the on-site coordinator go back to their office?

4. Your DJ has made a terrible mistake on the song choices and is completely messing up. He or she most definitely needs some redirection and we are there to put them back on track!

5. Your petticoat to give your dress the extra umph that it needs was left at home, as you discover 15 minutes before your pictures begin. Many calls later, a petticoat is found close by at a bridal shop and is purchased just in time for pictures!

6. Last minute, after months of deliberation, you decide that you would like to have that makeup artist come in and treat you to your own personal beautifying application, 3 days before your wedding. Will the on-site coordinator swoop in as the wedding hero and track down a makeup artist to not only do your makeup on the day of, but will also do a makeup application for your mother, and will come to you?

7. Will your on-site coordinator come over to the ceremony site and make sure that your ceremony runs smoothly, bridal party gets down the aisle, and you become the Mrs. that you have dreamed of for so long?

There are many things to consider in planning a wedding, one of which should definitely be, Should I hire a wedding planner? With the times that we are in with the economy, even if hiring a full service wedding planner isn't within the reach of your newly engaged hand, do definitely consider the benefits of hiring a planner for your last minute details or day of service. So many times we hear, you're so thorough, you're so organized, this has been the most relaxing day of the whole experience, I'm going to recommend you to all of my friends, etc., we truly feel that our jobs are complete if you and your groom are married, happy and enjoying yourselves at your once in a lifetime event.

So, the next time that your on-site coordinator mentions having all of the bases covered at the location, truly question as to whether he or she will do any of the above, and beyond, for you! Happy Planning!
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Why to Hire a Wedding/Event Planner

I went to my monthly ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants) meeting and among other things we were discussing what all as a planner we do for our clients and the benefits of a planner. One lady had gotten married not to long ago and didn't have a planner. It was a very interesting conversation and I wanted to capture some of the conversation in my blog about the experience and why every bride needs to have a planner's assistance in some way.

As a very organized person I felt good about the decision not to hire a planner. Seriously, who "cant"plan a wedding? I was having a very simple wedding, nothing that would require “professional help”, right? Along with simple, my wedding was going to be a low-budget affair, and that budget would have no room for the extravagance of a planner.

Except that on the day of my wedding I found out that a planner is not an extravagance or a luxury item meant for only the most upscale of weddings. No, I found out that a wedding planner is just as much a necessity as a groom!

The Bride Becomes the Default Wedding Planner
“BRIDE, do you want the groomsmen to walk out from the door on the left, or the door on the right?”

“BRIDE, where are they going to bring the cake?”

“The flowers are here, BRIDE. Where should we put them?”

"BRIDE, the musician left his/her program at home, do you know the order of songs?"

"BRIDE, Bride, bride?"

If you don’t have a wedding planner for at least the few weeks leading up to the wedding you will become the default wedding planner. After all, it is your day, right? The one you’ve been dreaming about since you were 3 years old? So surely you know exactly how you want everything done and where everyone should be. The bride becomes the go-to person for every question anyone has about the wedding. Even if she has a dear friend that "always wanted to be a planner."

Trust me, this role as chief wedding executive gets old quick, especially on the day of. More than likely, you’ve never planned an event this big before so you’re unsure what the best way is to answer everyone’s questions. You’re also living with that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Having a wedding planner around to shoulder some of the responsibility with you will bring you more peace than you could ever know.

Wedding Planners Keep You Focused

If you ask any bride what they want the theme of their wedding to be they'll use words like “simple” and “elegant”. Simple and elegant usually is the plan.

Simple and elegant but between the blue ball gowns that are chosen for bridesmaids, the balloon arch and the overuse of tulle for decorating, simple and elegant are not words that will be used to describe this wedding.

A wedding planner helps you line up your vision with your reality. A wedding planner reminds you of the “theme” when you think that disco balls will make cool centerpieces…yeah, not so much.

Wedding Planning is Their JOB
In addition to being trained in several key areas (negotiating, vendor relationships, etc), wedding planners have done this so many times that they see and think of things that would have never occurred to you because you are a newbie.

Every bride is different and every bride knows their threshold for stress. A planner, whether for day of assistance or planning assistance may be just the stress reliever, facilitator, and friend you need with you. Happy Planning!

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Make Up Made Perfect

More and more I hear brides saying they are either going to the Mac counter for their wedding day make-up or having a friend take on such a responsibility. Make up on this day is far different than any other ordinary day in your life. Today I'm featuring a woman that's beautiful inside and out and passionately shares her gift with others. Photo's by Special Request Entertainment

“Everyday people really don’t get to see themselves at their maximum potential. My goal is to accentuate the beauty that everyone already has through the art of makeup.” LaToya Perry is a Chicago based professional makeup artist and has worked for many notable cosmetic companies such as Chanel, MAC and Prescriptives. While being in the industry for several years, she has received many certifications and extensive training from some of the top instructors in the business and eventually became a manager for the No. 1 Custom Blending Counter in the nation. After proving herself as an in-house artist, her expertise and ambition has driven her to pursue a distinguished freelance career, thus allowing her to further build a diverse portfolio to include print, commercial, runway, film and television.

Name: Toy Perry

Business: Makeup Artist

Your Site Address and/or Blog Address:
Website coming soon!

How would you describe your style or work: Makeup is an art without limits or boundaries. I love to get to know my client and really take her look beyond her wildest dreams.

Favorite Thing About Your Job? Making women feel beautiful!

Magazine/Book Must Have… Bible/Vogue Magazine

Guilty Pleasure… At this age: SLEEPING!!!!!!

What Do You Do When You First Wake Up? Thank God for giving me another day!

When It Rains… I love to watch movies in my pajamas and eat something totally
fattening. Thank God it doesn't rain often.

MAC or PC… Of Course MAC!!!! Oh you meant the computer. yea, still a MAC

What’s on your iPod? Toooo many to name!

One piece of advice for Brides-to-be... A man who finds a wife, findeth a GOOD thing AND finds FAVOR with the Lord. Remember that you are the prize and always be a good thing to your husband.

Happy Planning
Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Thursday, August 13, 2009


As promised (well sort of) I created a card for my cousin. This is probably the most simplistic card I've ever made. I couldnt express all I wanted to without the card turning into a complete mess so My cousin and her husband were married in probably 1984 and he took great pride in providing for his family. He was an executive for M&M Mars. They have two lovely children, one a lawyer and the other in her 2nd year of college in California. A lot of emotions are built up inside over the untimely death and I simply wanted her to "Be Encouraged"

The "BE" cards are a series of cards created for my son and a percentage of sales will go towards a NFP organization he's involved with. Dreams for Kids! The logo design is a collaboration between Brandon's creative team (karen, rick, reg) myself and Kris Cain of Cain Creative Photography . She and I collaborate often :) Thanks Kris!

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

.. NO but..

Before I begin let me explain the title. Every time my daughter and I have a conversation, at one time or another she says "no, but...." because she has an explanation for everything. That being said today, yesterday and the day before that I had every intention on blogging about my Designs as it pertains to card making... did I put if off? "No, but"..... something else always happens.

Today I am posting one or two of my favorite cards that I've created for special people in my life. This particular one was made for my manager at work. She's been out ill and I wanted her to know.. I was thinking of her. This was very fun to make because she's not just my manager but also a friend.

The other card posted is a wedding card for a young lady that recently got married (you knew I couldn't stay away from wedding themes right..ha)

Later this evening (really) I will post another special card that I've created for my cousin in Atlanta that recently lost her husband (RIP Dwight).

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jewlery, Shoes and Things

First let me say I love shoes! If you have an eye for glamorous things and are on the hunt for the perfect jewelry to compliment your wedding day attire, look no further than this fun find I found while surfing. Perfect Details offers shoes, earrings, necklaces, tiaras, clutches, hankies, and includes items for your bridal party as well that have a very vintage touch. They even have these fabulous stilettos (ABOVE) which are the ivory interpretation of the Manolo Blahnik infamous blue shoes made famous by Carrie, in the Sex & The City movie. Of course these babies don't have the $950 price tag!
Did I mention I LOVE shoes? Well check out this pink Tulle bridal shoe designed by Badgley Mischka. Femininity is taken to new heights with these fabulous stilettos. A slightly rounded toe in pale pink is covered in tulle and adorned with a small bouquet of organza roses. 4" heel.

Check out some other fun items that Perfect Details

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicagoland Vendors

I like sharing information because it's how we all learn and grow. I met the following Vendor Spotlight 10 years ago as we were neighbors. At that time, I wasn't aware that she had a passion for photography but over the years we have grown together in business and like me, she shares..... Today's Vendor Spotlight is..

Name: Kris Cain

Business: Cain Creative Photography

Your Site Address and/or Blog Address:

How would you describe your style or work: Very relaxed. I use a mix of photojournalistic and a traditional approach. I make sure to capture everything from posed shots to candid moments.

Favorite Thing About Your Job? Making people happy. I love knowing that the results of my hard work will be something that the bride and groom will cherish for years to come.

Magazine Must Have… Unfortunately I have no time for magazines.

Guilty Pleasure… French fries, especially Garlic-Butter fries. YUM!

What Do You Do When You First Wake Up? Hit snooze on my alarm. :)

When It Rains… I love it as long as I am inside and not driving in it. Nothing like a great thunderstorm to make me sleep like a baby.

MAC or PC… Both. I'm a huge computer nerd, so I can use both equally. I mostly use PCs in my photography work though.

What’s on your iPod? Soooo... much. I have an 80gb. A lot of House Music, R&B slow Jams, Old Motown Hits, Michael Jackson of course, but there's even some Rock on there.

One piece of advice for Brides-to-be... Honestly, my advice to brides would be to relax, let the professionals do what they are paid for, and enjoy your special day. Work with your coordinator, and by all means plan in enough time for good posed photos. A lot of times weddings are so rushed, and people are so excited and busy that there is not enough time in between events to get many great posed shots. Make it happen but have fun!

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Friday, August 7, 2009

Signature Drinks - More

Signature drinks are truly running their course as a wedding and event trend. Brides and clients are incorporating these into their bar setups at their weddings and other social events. However, I am always asked what recipes are used and how they can be personalized. I've come across some fun, and tasty sounding might I add, recipes to incorporate into your special event. It's fun to personalized by color, but you could also give them a name that represents the two or group of you in some way. I know that figuring out what you drink you want is daunting, so get some mixers together, invite the girls over and have a signature drink party! The first one I made up this past weekend and called it .............

SOME SHAY......(ha)

"some" raspberry Mojito

"some" peach bacardi

1 can of frozen orange pineapple juice

Garnish with fresh pineapple

.........enjoy some shay

Blue Moon, Fruity, refreshing drink for the summer

1/2 oz. gin

2 tsp. blue curacao

2 tsp. cointreau or other orange flavored liqueur

2 tsp. pineapple juice

Lemonade for topping off

Garnish with a pineapple or lime

Green Peace, Sweet drink for the summer:

1/2 oz. vodka

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

1/2 oz. pisang ambon- a Dutch liqueur

2 tsp. apricot brandy

Top off with pineapple juice

Garnish with a cherry or lime

Get to mixing and enjoy all of these recipes!

**Give each of these drinks a personalized name. Maybe from a special date, your honeymoon location, or a hobby you two like to do together.

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Simply What's Up

Today I had an idea of talking about "what's up" so that's the title of this category. Today my son signed his first contract.. so I figured why not give a little information of the city of Ramat Gan for those that dont know @ it.

Ramat Gan (Hebrew: רָמַת גַּן‎ Ramat gan.ogg (audio) (help·info)) is a city in the Tel Aviv district of Israel, located east of Tel Aviv. It is home to one of the world's major diamond exchanges and Israel's tallest building, the Moshe Aviv Tower. Ramat Gan was established in 1921 as a moshava, a communal farming settlement. At the end of 2007, the population was 133,400.[1] The mayor of Ramat Gan is Zvi Bar.

Congratulations Brandon!

Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Signature Drinks

Peaceful Pieces is a topic that I like to discuss and figured I'd share with people! We want to showcase fun recipes that you can use for yourself or feature at your wedding. Open bars are a trend at so many weddings, but a lot of brides can't afford to keep a full bar open during their whole reception. So, as an alternative and create a lounge like feel, brides and social clients are featuring signature drinks instead of stocking a full bar. Guests can pick these up as they are butler passed as they walk into your reception. The signature drinks are a favorite of theirs or a drink that matches the colors of their wedding. Here's a fun recipe, if you love champagne, for pomegranate champagne. This drink would be easy to modify for each wedding with a different type of fruit juice for color.

Cocktail Pomegranate Champagne:

1 1/4 cups fresh pomegranate juice (from 3 pomegranates) chilled

1 1/2 ounces Cointreau liqueur, chilled

1 bottle Champagne, chilled

Fresh pomegranate seeds, for dressing.

Simple & Elegant - Kim & Edward Jackson

Kimberly and Edward were a nice couple that came to us back last year and wanted a simple yet elegant wedding to celebrate the simple love that they had for each other. Kimberly loved the the deep colors combination of Coral and Brown which quickly changed to Peridot and Brown. After that the mission was location location location. We were able to secure a nice church for the ceremony and hall to host their reception. The next mission was to find the perfect, simplistic vendors that would work for the two of them. Enjoy the story of Kimberly and Edward's June 20th wedding in photographs taken by Visions of Elegance.

Edward and his groomsmen choose brown tuxes with him in ivory and the groomsmen in brown to compliment the ladies from Boss Tuxedos.

Kimberly choose to keep her accessories along the simply elegant theme. Her makeup, simple yet elegant, was the masterpiece of a well known makeup artist LaToya Perry. I love those personal touches that make your day your own!

Designs by Shay, along with assistants Kianna Patrice and Whitney Boyd, designed the invitation, programs, favors and tablescapes that were simplistic including Eiffel tower vases topped with an array of florals.

The delicious bride and groom's cakes were provided by Naples Bakery.

Congratulations Kimberly and Edward! It was an honor being part of your day and all of the love that surrounded you both. We wish you many years of happiness and prosperity.

Sharon Patrice, Simply Perfect Peace


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Every bride comes to the dilemma of to take or not to take a bridal portrait. Many photographers now are offering bridal portraits as a part of their packages, whether you choose to take your portrait before or after your wedding. The after wedding portrait's have recently been given the name of "Trash the Dress", which is a name that scares me! :) So many times bride's think that they can have a couple shots taken on the day of, and you certainly can, but sometimes time runs out or you don't get to be as creative as you want to with your surroundings. I always encourage brides to have a session to show off their beauty and the dress in its full glory. And we know that mom's want that 16x20 to hang over the fireplace! :) Some of the pros and cons that I see with taking a bridal shot include:


  • Gives you an opportunity to have your hair and makeup trial done before the wedding, and putting that money to good use. You can see how you like your makeup and hair in the pictures and if you want to make any changes for wedding day.
  • You get to put on your dress one more time! And making sure that all alterations made fit you to a "T".
  • This also gives you a chance to put all of your attire together, veil, headpiece, jewelry, shoes, etc. to make sure that you love the look.
  • You can have a sample bouquet ordered for your pictures to see and make any changes to as well.
  • This is an opportunity for creativity on both yours, and your photographers, part to get some fun, romantic, and sexy shots of you in your pure white wedding dress. Nothing beats having beautiful artistic, and traditional, shots of you on your own dressed to the "nine's".
  • Working with your photographer for several hours at a time will allow him/her to see your personality, what is your best light, and get to you know you before spending even more hours with you on the big day.


  • If in the process, you get creative, and your dress gets dirty, you may need to have it cleaned which is an additional cost.
  • Some are more pressured by time because of their dress delivery and/or wedding date. Do plan well in advance to avoid this if able.

In my opinion, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and as a past bride, I wish I would have taken the opportunity to do one myself. Living and learning, and passing this knowledge on to new or future brides! Here are some of my favorite bridal portraits over the last year from some of my favorite brides!

Wedding Processional

This is funny - Im sure you've all seen it by now. Enjoy

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my Blog.. First of all, I am the mother of a college graduate Brandon, college student Brittny and a 10 year old Kianna.

I also love computers, event planning and graphic design. My real job is an Executive Assistant for a major health care company where I've had the opportunity to plan really really huge evens.

When not at work, i am a professional wedding and event specialist and designer of custom made stationery and NOW greeting cards. Im loving it!!! My businesses are Simply Perfect Peace Events and Designs by Shay. We do anniversaries, weddings, family reunions, parties, and all other events. We also create DVD slideshows, CD's and plenty more...

Soothing Saturday's with Shay is a monthly event open to both MEN and WOMEN. These events cater to the whole person. Mind, Body & Soul. Come out on FRIDAY, yes by special request FRIDAY, August 21st for eye brows, eye lashes, manicures and pedicures. Join us Saturday for the above AND haircuts, make up application. Contact me for pricing and details.


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