Monday, February 23, 2009

So Many Planners...WHO should I choose?

I recently traveled back to Bloomington (I've decided I need to do this every six months now that I know how GREAT it feels to refresh with old friends, except this time I'll know ahead of time that I'm flying into a brand-new airport that no one told me about...that's a subject for another blog post...) to help with the BIG "hand-off" to Hannah Trowbridge, the new owner of social butterfly Bloomington!

While I was in town this time I had very little personal time to work down MY list of shopping, eating and drinking but I did manage to have a very productive weekend with Hannah. One huge item on our list was the Bloomington Bridal Show which I have attended now for seven or eight years. I remember my very first show, I was the ONLY wedding planner there and brides asked me all day "why do I need a wedding planner?" This year was different, there were SIX of us! Definitely no need to answer the question "why?" but rather "who?" I loved it!

When answering the "who should I hire?" question we shine on like a bright star. Not only do we have seven successful seasons of wedding planning behind us (the same number as Cathy Teeters) but we have a very distinct approach which has come with many years of trying new things, tweaking things that work, deleting things that don't, etc. It's experience. That is after all what you are paying for, right?

Cathy, Bari and I are the veterans. Something I'm extremely proud of. Just to be in the same category with these two is something for sure but we've paved the way for the new planners who are emerging with their ideas now and it's great to see! I have always made being an out-of-the-box, "trend-setter" paramount in my approach and business plan. I was the first planner with a website, a blog and a studio, the first to create a "resource" website with vendor listings for web savvy brides (, the first planner with a facebook page, and now I'm betting the first planner who tweets (okay, so it's easier now that I'm in San Francisco where all of this is created and happening, but I was doing it even BEFORE I moved here!).

What's my point? Finding a wedding planner in Bloomington, Indiana shouldn't be a problem for you...there are many to choose from. It's the "WHO?" that will take a bit of time. When making this decision know that you should be 100% thrilled with your choice in the end because you know that there are five others who would LOVE to be a part of your special day. Being a wedding planner isn't a science, we all pull from the same resources (if you don't believe me look on my peers' blogs to see what sites they are recommending) but there are a few key things that you should consider when making YOUR choice:

1. Experience: nothing substitutes for experience when it comes to the important job of handling the stress and details of your wedding day, nothing. I am a completely different planner today (after 113 weddings) than I was on day one.

2. Personality: you and your wedding planner will be cultivating a "relationship" over the months you spend together "planning." You should LOVE her to pieces! She is your advocate, coach, bestest girlfriend (not standing up there with you), sounding board, mentor, family mediator, design guru and stylist and above all your very special personal assistant on the most special day in your entire life.

3. Style: this should match up PERFECTLY. No justifications, no excuses, no arm twisting, no compromises...perrr-fect-ly. If it's not a perfect match interview another one. In the first meeting with brides I ask them to visualize walking into the reception and to tell me what they see from every single detail. I do this for two reasons: I want to know what they've been thinking about for their special day since they were 12 but also because I need to know if I can do it for them. Each of us has our own personal style, and while the trick is that we give YOU what you want our style will come out...this is good! But you want to have a match here.

It has never been a more exciting time to plan a wedding in Bloomington, Indiana (or anywhere for that matter) and you have many GREAT choices when considering a wedding planner. Look at all of our websites (a great way to "secret shop" us...and photographers too btw), choose the top three that "look" like they might be a match by their experience, personality and style and then interview them. Ask tough questions, ask them to show you samples and tell you stories of their favorite weddings and most challenging situations. In the end you will be friends, choose carefully!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Show - A Changing of the Guard

Ahhh...February in Bloomington! That means: Chocolate Fest, snow days, countdown to Spring Break, basketball and THE BLOOMINGTON BRIDAL SHOW! (Oh yah, I forgot Lover's Day...)

I cannot begin to tell you how many hours are spent prepping for the bridal show. One glimpse into our booth and you can probably begin to calculate. I have had one goal every year and that is to have the best booth at the show. I'm sure everyone has the same goal, as they should!

This year's booth was a happy collaboration with Bari Kuhlman at the IMU. We honestly can't do it without her. She has more resources than ANY other planner in town, period. It was a smart move on our part!

Everything is inspired by fashion again this year, everything. And, while color is hot, hot, hot texture is hotter! Don't forget texture in everything you do. If done right you should want to TOUCH it!

Sure we browsed our favorite mags, and poured over our favorite sites. We did an "inspiration board" and gathered all kinds of trinkets and accouterments in great anticipation of putting it all together but the biggest inspiration was fashion.

And, of course we had to have the ever-popular CANDY booth is complete without one!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rain On Your Wedding Day is Good Luck!

I heard this back in 1995 when I got married. It rained on my wedding day and I wasn't happy about it. It was the one thing that I could not control after the many months that I spent planning my own wedding. I checked the Farmer's Almanac early on and sure enough, it said showers. I'm not sure who told me this but I remember thinking when I heard it that it must have been made up by a really optimistic could rain on your wedding day be good in any way?

"It's good luck if it rains on your wedding day!" is something I think about when I remember Laura and Kyle's wedding a little over a year ago. I don't think about the rain, or how the plan might have had to change that day but about Laura's attitude on the day of her wedding.

The plan began very simply with inspiration from the bridal show. At the time I had created a display of garden silhouette black and white linen which was very bold and very feminine and I mixed it with a beautiful eye shadow blue. Laura fell in-love with it the minute she saw it at the show and told me she had to have it and so she did!

The wedding was beautiful, and romantic and feminine and all of the things you want a wedding to be...rain or shine!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aisle Art: Make a BOLD Statement!

According to Emily Post a couple should not use their "wedding monogram" until AFTER the wedding, this is a rule that is broken often. And often by me. Brides usually cannot resist using this aspect of the wedding to brand it, after all, it IS the perfect motif to make the wedding your own. I don't fight it, sorry Miss Post. I suggest using it and using it with every detail if the monogram is something you love. The best way to use your wedding monogram and to get a big splash is to have a monogrammed aisle runner like this one that I created for Emily and James.

This one was pretty straight-forward, white cloth, black monogram but I've done bold colors like red, black and pink. It is single-handedly the biggest way to make a statement in the church and quite frankly the least expensive. This is a DIY project for sure. You can order inexpensive fabric online at (remember you are going to need a ton of it to cover the length of the entire aisle), reverse the monogram and enlarge it at Kinko's, create an "iron on" by using fusible webbing you can buy at Hobby Lobby and iron on your design! It's that easy!

I've made banners the same way for the doors of Beck Chapel and I even did an aisle runner with the words "Happily Ever After" on it several years ago.

You must check with your church and/or ceremony site before factoring in an aisle runner, there are a handful of venues in Bloomington that do not allow them. Never use a paper runner if you want the real deal, it just doesn't look the same and it always ends up in a ball by the end of the processional. Also, if you are having an outdoor ceremony an aisle runner isn't necessary. Check with your florist for rose/flower petals and talk to us about ways to dress up the aisle for the outdoors!

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Sixth Course...or "Midnight Snack"

Wedding trends catch on quickly and I love to tweak them and make them personal for each bride. One current trend that has been here for several years now is the idea of a "sixth course" or "midnight snack." After the dinner is served, and the cake is cut guests are wanting a tad bit more as they dance the night away or head home to bed.

Offering a table of "Cookies & Milk" is the perfect solution! At Katie and Gate's wedding we did these great personal packages of milk and square donuts (the new Square Donut place was newly opening just in time) for each couple to take on their way out. It was a great send-off.

Here are a few other ways my brides have taken this trend and made it their own: a candy buffet that is color-coordinated and full of all of their favorite candies. A "Groom's Table" (Bari Kuhlman's idea) where the table is full of all of the Groom's favorite snacks: nachos, hot dogs, pizza...etc. Mini pizzas and Coke to go. Papa John's bread sticks or McDonald's cheeseburgers (I'm not kidding, at my good friend Melissa Coyne's wedding several years ago and pre-Lauren, on the McDonald's Campus in Wheaton Illinios at a certain time in the night servers appeared with trays of was fantastic)...cupcakes, cookies, and even a whole buffet of Sugar & Spice treats have been on the list of "sixth courses" or "midnight snacks" that I've helped with.

It makes perfect sense to me and it's one more way to put your mark on your wedding day and share a little extra something special with your guests!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Working a BFF's Wedding

It's tricky being in this biz as time goes on...especially in a small town where you have many friends, lots of interns and hundreds of former students. Why? Because when one of them gets married I'm tempted to utter the words..."pro bono." And, frankly, I've made promises to several of my earliest interns (Angie, Emily and Rachel) who I fell madly in-love with like little sisters that I would ABSOLUTELY do their weddings as a gift to them when they got married.

It's hard to be both a friend and a planner on the day of the wedding but I managed to do just this for my friend Kate Fleming's wedding last summer. She insisted that I be "a guest" at some point during the day and I love her for this.

This got me thinking about all of the relatives and friends that get called on each weekend to be "the planner" or to take care of the details for the bride. It's tough, really tough to do both. Many times I have seen brides (who have not hired a planner), and their families setting-up the reception or tearing it down, managing the details of the ceremony, or stressing about place cards and unexpected guests. Each time I see this I want to step in and tell them that that's not what they are supposed to be doing on their wedding day...but, guess what? I was that bride! I was my own planner and I started my business many years ago with the notion that I would be the planner that I never had.
Splurge. Give your relatives, your friends and yourself a big break and hire a planner to take care of all of the little details for deserve it!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Tribute to the 107 Girls I've LOVED!

It recently dawned on me that in the six years I've been a wedding planner I have helped coordinate 107 weddings to date. It took some time to calculate and the number may be off by one or two weddings in either direction but it's close.

In preparing for my upcoming move to San Francisco I've been reflecting on the weddings I've been a part of in Bloomington and it makes me smile. I wish that I had kept better notes or even a journal so that I could read the pages and go back to each day. Instead I am reminded at current weddings how many weddings I've been a part of and how important my role has been at each when I run into a former bride who is now pregnant with her second child, or an usher who says very simply: "you are so calm."

My wedding this weekend was my favorite kind of wedding in Bloomington; it was (literally) the marriage of two local families. When this happens in a small town the whole town is there! The room was a fashion show, guests happily cocktailed way past the cocktail hour, and I got many, many hugs from girls I've helped in the past. It was a hard room to leave when my job was done.

My next adventure in wedding planning will take me to San Francisco where, once I land on my feet, I will be exploring the exciting possibility of opening a social butterfly studio there. Poised and ready to join me are my baby twin sisters who live in the heart of the city and who are over the moon about me moving closer to them; we will be a team of three. I'm leaving behind a brand-new owner, Hannah Trowbridge who will be taking social butterfly in her own direction. She is currently busy, busy, busy booking Bloomington weddings for 2009 and beyond and looking forward to putting her stamp on the Bloomington Wedding Scene.

I'm proud of what I've accomplished and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to "fall in love" 107 times with brides who have personally asked me to help them on their special day. Each one has left a mark and I will forever be grateful for the chance I've had to share a most special time in their lives with them.

Stay in touch!