Friday, December 28, 2012

save the dates!

If you’re going to launch into a challenging custom printing project, it helps to have an
incredibly talented graphic and web designer as a sister. Thankfully, mine fit the bill! I had
a specific save-the-date in mind ever since I first launched LK Events & Design. I fell in love with a storybook-meets-timeline idea that would give insight into our couple personality and our history together, and I tasked my sister with making that dream come true.

As an “original” type, I of course wanted to stay away from magnets and photo save-the-
dates which have become a little too cliché for someone who lives and breathes weddings.
I commissioned exactly what I envisioned. They feature a simple, but beautiful timeline that
starts with a chance meeting at a local watering hole, and includes golden moments and
milestones that are now immortalized forever. The look is simple and contemporary with
an outline of our beloved Richmond that my brilliant sister drew by HAND! Within a week of
submitting text, the perfect save-the-dates weren’t just ready, they were mailed and winging their way to our lucky guests.

Helpful Hints for Custom Printing

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a graphic designer in the family, but custom printing is
still relevant and available if you want it. Do your research and find a reliable designer with
a body of work in a style, or variety of styles, you love. Schedule a consultation in person, or
via video or phone chat, and give an honest and account of what you picture when you dream of your ideal invites. Include photos of printed products you love, textures that turn you on, and even the quirky things that made him love you and you love him. Be honest about your budget limitations, but also open-minded about services you might decide are worth the investment. Get, and check, references.

Custom printing goes way beyond a nice font treatment on traditional card stock. Today you
can print on pretty much anything that will stand still long enough. Brides are choosing strips
of delicate wood, pretty pieces of linen and even elaborate, luxurious boxes packed with
multiple layers of printed intrigue or customized antique books in place of single-panel, formal and traditional invitations. Let your imagination soar a little and you may have the next most brilliant save-the-date ever (right after mine, of course!).

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Registry

Okay, if I’m being totally honest with you, I have to say that I hated one part of our early wedding process more than anything: The Registry. I didn’t think I would, either. I mean, it’s shopping – what could be more fun than shopping? Phil, on the other hand, naturally, loved it. We are a strange pair.

We knew we needed to select fairly mainstream stores as our guests live everywhere, and we are pretty down-to-earth people. So we chose Crate & Barrel and Bed, Bath and Beyond. We didn’t want super stuffy china. I have my eye on my grandmother’s set in my mother’s attic anyway. We are also set on crystalware. We mostly needed great flatware, some practical china and most important: great wine glasses. “Easy,” I thought. We’ll be done and out in a couple of hours.

If only…

We were off to a decent start at Crate & Barrel. We chose Roulette china and Halstead flatware, but only after Phil picked up every single piece of flatware in search of the heaviest, most durable spoon. We even chose our wine glasses, the Vin set, which was no easy feat considering our criteria: they had to be big, with a stem that was not to tall, and not too thin as I break everything. The choice was important as the glasses will get far more use than the spoons.

After about an hour, though, I found myself standing, staring blankly at the wall of Crate & Barrel while Phil made “exciting”, casual conversation with a sales associate about knife collections. Who knows what she was thinking of me as I wandered aimlessly between napkins and vases, completely burnt out with blood sugar plummeting. Suddenly I snapped, abruptly ended the conversation with the associate and announced to Phil that I was done. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, so, on he went with his merry scanning as I slid deeper and deeper into Registry Hell.

Bed, Bath and Beyond was no different. By the tenth time that I advised Phil I didn’t care about some item he wanted me to evaluate, he recognized his advantage in the situation and went scanner happy for the rest of our visit. When we receive a kayak and his-and-hers whirlpool foot baths as wedding gifts I will have to remind myself that I did set him free with the scanner.

Even the most highly anticipated wedding tasks can sometimes be really draining. Brides often don’t realize how much additional energy they have to output while carrying on their daily work and home lives in preparation for their Big Day. Break up your registry trips on multiple days, and try to keep your visits painlessly short and focused. Enlist your fiancĂ©’s help with this task as he may very well enjoy it as much as Phil! Just know that you’ll need to accept the consequences if you delegate the job and may end up with an unusual set of gifts.

Check in soon for more of this wedding planner’s own planning adventure!

Friday, December 7, 2012

choosing our venue

I’ve officially dubbed venue selection the hardest part of our planning process. We did everything I would tell my clients: we came up with a list of our priorities together, explored all available options and judged the contenders against our “must-have” criteria.

This is what we deemed most important:

1.      It could not be a place that I’ve worked before. No matter how much I love my clients and my career, it’s just better to separate work from personal life, so the first challenge was to eliminate my long list of go-to venues and still have a list of great possibilities.
2.      It had to be in the city – in the heart of Richmond. We love the RVA more than words.
3.      I had to be able to bring in my own caterer (fellow wedding planners will understand why this is simply non-negotiable).
4.      *It had to be an inside space. When you’re choosing your wedding venue, you have to know yourself, and I know that I’m not the kind of person who can be okay with Plan B. No one likes the gray interiors of banquet halls or the wrinkled walls of last-minute rain-plan tents.

*Of course, as often happens, we fell in love with an “almost perfect” space: Carillon at Byrd Park. Our caterer recommended it as a very unique space (note to brides: caterers often know all the secret spots!) and most people don’t even know that there is an event space under the memorial.  The main thing we loved was the rooftop terrace, which would mean hosting part of our event outdoors, so we made a compromise on #4 and took the leap with Carillon.

Note that on our must-have list, we weren’t stuck on any particular date. I figured that calling Parks and Rec to secure the space would be the easy part. We would just choose our date based on their availability. It’s a really good thing we were flexible, however, as they only had TWO dates open: February 23 and September 28. Phil’s inclination was to choose the September date when the weather was most likely to be nice. Of course it was. Several of my wise clients had the same idea, and September 28 would put our wedding squarely in the midst of wedding season.

At first I wasn’t sure at all that February 23 would be a viable date. We made a list of pros and cons, talked it over with family and agonized over the decision for weeks. Finally, we decided that the pros outweighed the cons and we settled on a February wedding.

And then…we FELL IN LOVE with the idea of a February wedding! From a design perspective, we have so many unique options that you don’t see at local weddings every week, and we truly want an event that is totally our own. Besides, having an outdoor winter wedding in Richmond, Virginia in February confirms what we already knew about ourselves: that we are certifiably insane (and crazy in love!).

If there is any lesson for other brides in our venue search, it is that you have to know yourselves really well. Make a list of your priorities, and make smart choices. If you sense that you’re choosing something that you actually cannot make you happy, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment on the wedding day. There are enough factors that you can’t control (nature, for one, and in some extreme cases your crazy relatives) that it makes sense to manage the ones you can.

Be flexible, though, when there is room in your vision for something new. You might just discover the perfect space is a place you never considered, or learn that a winter wedding makes you wild with excitement.

Next up? Our amazing save-the-dates, working with a custom designer and (insert ominous music here): the registry.