Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

So tomorrow Mr.  Modern and I are taking the 10 hour drive to Ohio to check out our top wedding venue picks. My hometown is near the Ohio/Michigan boarder so we are also looking at  a couple places in the Detroit area.  So here are a few of our top contenders:

Arnaldo's Banquet Center, Riverview, Mi 

Pros: We can have both our ceremony and reception there, the prices are very reasonable and even includes gratuity, it a little more unique than the average ballroom
Cons: We would have to pay for 180 guests instead of the 150 we were planning and we are going to have to negotiate down to get plated dinner service since we only budgeted for 150 people, we would have to pay for chair covers

Parkway Place , Maumee, OH

Pros: Very good price, we can bring in our own alcohol, everything is included, we love the larger room
Cons: For a guest list of 150 they would put us in the smaller room which we were not impressed with from the photos online, we are not sure if they would allow us to rent the smaller room for the ceremony and the larger one for the reception

Crowne Plaza Toledo, Toledo, OH 

Pros: Nice looking ballroom (from the few photos they had online), easy for our many out of town guests since it is a hotel
Cons: a little over our budget. Hopefully we can negotiate….

Plymouth Manor, Plymouth, MI

Pros: nice ballroom, have rooms to accommodate both ceremony and reception, reasonable pricing
Cons: They have a 200 person minimum for Saturday and we can only afford 180 max, so hopefully we can negotiate this as well

Valentine Theater, Toledo, OH

Pros: We hear its very nice but there were very few photos online, they have several spaces to accommodate the ceremony and reception, its downtown near a lot of the city's best hotels

Cons: We have to chose from a list of approved caterers, we have to rent chairs, tables, linens, cant use candles

So, which would you chose?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Man Bling

diamondband-box, originally uploaded by kninedesigns.
Mr. Modern and I recently went to scope out wedding bands to get a better idea of what a reasonable budget for them will be. He's a fashionable man so a plain band just wont do, he has to have diamonds. In our search for this diamond band we have come to find that there is just not that many options for man bling. And if you want it in platinum there are even less options. The good news is we have plenty of time to find the perfect band, and we know of a few jewelers that will custom make whatever band he wants. Now the hard part…getting him to decide what he wants….

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Needs Fine China?

Jamaica 251, originally uploaded by MZcameraeye.
We don’t. Mr. Modern and I have been living together for almost a year and we have pretty much everything we need. Well we don’t actually have fine china, but we also don’t have the need or the space for it. Nor do we need a bender, toaster, or most other household items on a traditional registry. What we will need after almost two years of wedding planning is a vacation. A great one. And that’s why we are going to do a honeymoon registry. Don’t worry, we will also do a small traditional registry for our guest who want to actually wrap a gift, but it wont be our primary registry.

Honeymoon registries are considered a faux pas by some since they consider it the same as asking for money. But is there really a difference between asking for a blender or asking for a romantic dinner on our honeymoon? Don’t get me wrong, we don’t expect our guest to give anything, but if they chose to we would rather have something we actually want, not something we would have to return. And, at least in our case our honeymoon would actually be prepaid before the wedding and any gifts would be for extras like massages and dinners.

There are several honeymoon registry's on the market but the one that stood out to me, and the one we would likely use, is Honeyfund. Unlike the others this one is free to you and to your guest. You create the website and input the items you want and then your guests choose what they want to purchase. They can either pay online by PayPal or print a certificate to give to you along with cash or a check. This way there are no fees and you get the gift right away. Other sites have your guest give payment to them and they may not release the funds until after the wedding, and there is usually a fee for you or your guests to use the service.

This is the perfect gift for us since we love to travel and we don’t need anything for our house. So would you do a wedding registry?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wedding 101: How to choose a venue

Next week Mr. Modern and I will be going out to town to scout (and hopefully book) a reception venue. Since the perfect venue is a very important aspect of our wedding we wanted to book it as early as possible so we could be sure to get our date and not have to settle for whatever was available. Also, it’s a great for negotiations since we have plenty of time to make a decision.

I started by making a making a list of things that were important to us in a venue such as being able to have the ceremony and reception at the location, being inside, having the venue available until midnight or later, good food, modern/unique décor, and a general wow factor. Then I made a chart with all of these factors and all of the venues within our per plate price range (which is why it is important to have the guest count and budget at this point).

After looking at photos, virtual tours, and reviews online and emailing back and forth with venues we have narrowed it down to 5 venues between 2 different cities , my hometown of Toledo and the metro Detroit area, which also had some nice options.

In order to help us decide I compiled a list of questions to ask each venue. Some of these I found online, some were suggested by newly married friends, and many were just questions I had:

• What is the facility rental fee?
• What is the cost-for food?
• What is the cost-for beverage?
• If you can hold your ceremony on site, what is the ceremony fee?
• What is the set-up/break-down fee?
• What is the staffing fee? (including bartenders, waiters etc.)
• Is there a fee for security personnel?
• Are there adequate coat check and bathroom facilities?
• What's the cancellation policy?
• Is there a payment schedule? What kind of deposits are required?
• Are there any hidden costs? (Before you sign the contract, read it carefully.)
• Do they have a liquor license? Will they allow you to bring your own liquor?
• Is there a space for the bride and groom to change and/or relax?
• Where will you take photographs? Is there a park nearby, or do the coordinators have recommended spots on the grounds?
• Is there a venue coordinator?
• Where can your guests park? Are there extra fees for parking? Do they have valet parking?
• Especially in museums or private clubs, are there limitations on decorations? Do they limit food and drinks to only certain areas of the wedding venue?
• Are candles or other open flames allowed?
• Are linins included?
• Do you have banquet tables or just round? Could we use both?
• Is there a separate area for the cocktail reception?
• What is the length of the facility rental? Is there an overtime fee if your wedding reception lasts longer?
• Do you have use of the entire reception site? If not - what areas can your party use?
• Does the site have any music or noise restrictions?
• Are there any decorating restrictions?
• Will there be another party during, before or after yours? If so, how will this affect your event?
• Ask if they are doing any remodeling or redecorating from now until your wedding day. You don't want construction going on during your reception.
• Is there a cake cutting fee?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Wedding Binder

Organization is the key to every thing, that’s why as soon as I got engaged I put together a wedding binder. I made sections for the ceremony, reception, attire, budget, guest list, ideas, décor, music, photo/video and honeymoon. Each of these sections have sheet protectors to hold receipts, contracts and other things I don’t want to hole punch.  Since my wedding is over a year and a half away, it mostly holds ideas and vendor research.

I'm connected at the hip to my laptop (or Mr. Modern's I should say since mine is currently out of commission) so I also keep a handy copy of important things in a folder on the computer and on Google Docs.

How do you organize your wedding planning stuff?

Wedding Video of the Week: African American Wedding Video sample by Exousia Productions

I love the urban intro!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Money, Money, Money aka Making my Wedding Budget

Budgeting, originally uploaded by RambergMediaImages.
This week Mr. Modern and I faced a hard reality: We were not taking a realistic look at the cost of our wedding. We had a budget but we didn’t include the cost of the honeymoon, rings, bridal party gifts, and vans we plan to rent to transport guest who cant afford to fly, to the wedding. These things added almost 10K to the budget. 10K! It was time to get real.

So we sat down and decided exactly what we wanted and how much we were willing to pay. There was fighting and a few tears, but we came to an agreement and now have a very detailed budget (down to the penny) including everything we would possibly have to pay. There will be a lot of DIY on my part but in the end everything will turn out perfectly. Plus even with the 10k overage, we did the math and feel comfortable about paying everything off before the actual wedding day. Im so glad we figured this all out sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Do You Always Wear Your Engagement Ring?

                                                                         My Bling!

So Mr. Modern and I were watching this show where the guy freaked out when his fiancé took off her ring to wash her hands. Is it normal to never take your ring off? I take mine off a lot more than I thought I would; to do my hair, when cleaning, when sleeping, and when I go to the gym. Even though its insured, I'm very scared of damaging or loosing it.  Mr. Modern doesn’t seem to mind though, he knows how much I love it. But is this the norm? When do you take yours off?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fashion Friday: Birdcage Veils

Birdcage Veils, originally uploaded by Pinga Amor.

I know its not yet Friday, but tomorrow is my birthday so i will be too busy to post. So you get it today (yay)!!!! I love birdcage veils. They are vintage, but when worn the right way can be very modern and chic. The bad news is they can cost big bucks, I've seen them as high as $150 dollars, which is way more than I'm willing to pay for a headpiece I will only wear for a few hours. I scoured Etsy.com which, by the way is an awesome way to get your hands on some unique handmade goodies, and saw some for as low as $30. Then I came across this easy DIY tutorial, which shows you how to make your own for around $10. I am totally going to do this, it seems so easy plus i can cusomize it to my taste.

Would you consider making your own veil?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wedding Video of the Week: Best Wedding Trailer Ever

Well I dont know if its the best wedding trailer ever (their title not mine) but it is pretty cool. Enjoy :)

Wedding Planning 101: What to do First

To Do List, originally uploaded by LaLaLewi.
As soon as I got engaged I hit the internet to find out what I needed to do next. I knew my wedding was not going to be right away but Mr. Modern and I are planners so we needed a game plan. These are the best tips I found on the net:

Make a rough draft of your guest list to get an idea of about how many guests you think you want to invite. This amount effects many things such as budget and what venue you can use. Plus everyone will be asking about when the wedding is and if they are invited, so if you have a rough idea of who you plan to invite, you know what people not to make any promises to.

Another important thing you need to determine is your budget. You should really try to be realistic and research the price of the average wedding in your area. You have to consider the size, time of year and style in coming to this number, and how much you can really afford. I you already have a date in mind, figure out how much you can save per month from now until that date, and that can be your budget. Mr. Modern and I decided on an amount that we could save comfortably, without changing our normal spending habits too much, and what we thought was worth spending on one day.

By style I mean formality. If you want a casual affair, it may not make sense to check out ballrooms, and if you are thinking black tie, having it in your back yard may not work out.

Do you want a destination wedding? Would it be easier or cheaper to have it in you hometown?

Time of Year
Even though you may not have an exact date in mind, it’s a good idea to think of the time of year you want. If you have always dreamed of a spring wedding, so have many other brides, so you need to book your dream venue quickly. Or if you are considering a winter wedding in the Midwest, you might want to determine if weather would be an issue for out of town guests that need to travel.

This could also effect your budget, since off season weddings can be substantially cheaper. And it can effect your theme (winter wedding in July?).

Time of Day
And lastly time of day. Having a wedding brunch can really benefit your budget, but it could also put a damper on your black tie dreams. And if you want to party late into the night, you may need to reconsider inviting a lot of small children.

These things really helped us shape the vision of our wedding day, and hopefully they can help you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Top Secret: Do you tell your wedding details?

Secret, originally uploaded by Barbara Bedoni.
A common dilemma on one of my favorite wedding boards, is wedding details either being "borrowed" by a friend or family member before the brides wedding day or people putting down her wedding ideas. This leads to the question: should you share your wedding details?

On the one hand it is helpful to get feedback on your ideas since others can sometime see the things we miss. And of course we are so excited about our plans and want to talk about them to someone. But then again we want our wedding to be unique and don’t want all of our creative ideas to be old by the time our wedding comes around since every one and their mama used them. And if everyone is telling you that your popcorn bar is a lame idea, it can take some of the fun out of it.

I have to admit that I am a little secretive about my plans. There is a small group that I get feedback from but most of the good stuff is between Mr. Modern and I. We really want an element of surprise, even for our bridal party. I guess I'm going to be leaking a little more with my blog, but I plan to be sneaky about it :)

So how many of your wedding details do you share?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fashion Friday : Purple Manolo Blahnik


Two of my favorite thing in the world are the color purple and some amazing heels. These shoes have the right pop of color and the perfect amount of bling; every thing I could want in a wedding shoe. Now to convince Mr. Modern that these are essential to our wedding day….

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mismatched Bridesmaids Dresses- Is this a Do?

If you are currently planning a wedding, or have planned one in the past few years, I know you have come across mismatched bridesmaid dresses. Even if you are not planning a wedding and you have seen Sex and the City the movie, you saw how Carrie let the girls’ wear whatever dress they wanted. It’s a huge trend right now, and it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular; each bridesmaid can choose a style that they like and that fits their body type.

Being a bridesmaid can be expensive and dropping 150+ on a dress that you are likely only going to wear once is tough. But if you can chose a dress that you like then, you might actually wear it again.

But there are drawbacks to going this route. The biggest one for me is the lack of uniformity and cohesiveness. I like everything to look like it goes together, and I personally think it’s cute when all of the bridesmaids are dressed alike with only subtle differences. And you may want your girls to stand out as bridesmaids and not look like random guests standing up with you, which could happen if you make no guidelines for the dresses.

The most cohesive way to pull of this trend is for you choose a fabric, color and length, and let the girls chose their individual style of dress. I like this best because it still coordinates, while letting the bridesmaids show their individuality. A good tip is to choose one designer and let the girls choose from their styles, that way the color is the same. No matter how mismatched you want them to be, you should ask to see the dress they plan to wear before they buy it to make sure it fits your vision. Of course you want them to be comfortable, but it is your wedding and you have to look at the photos forever so you have some say in what they wear.

Overall I think it’s a good trend, but I’m still not sure if it’s for me. I just like the look of bridesmaids all dressed alike. I guess I still have time to figure it out...

So do you think this is a do, or a don’t? What if it is just a trend, in the future, do you think it will make your wedding look dated? Are your bridesmaids wearing mismatched dresses?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Video of the Week: The Wedding of Cheska Garcia and Doug Kramer

Not only is this my favorite style of wedding highlight video, but I also really love this song. I tryed to get it as our bridal party processional song (the Vitamin String Quarted instrumental version) but Mr. Modern shut it down. I love the brides veil, and the personalized vows were very touching.

First Look - Why we plan to see each other BEFORE the ceremony

First Look | 9.18.10, originally uploaded by ltbeyer.
I had not heard of a first look until I started wedding planning (by wedding planning I mean stalking wedding websites as soon as I knew he was looking at rings). I think they are the best thing since sliced bread!

Traditionally, its considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding. This dates back to the time of arranged marriages and the concern that if the groom saw the bride and she was not attractive, he would cancel the wedding. Mr. Modern already knows what he is stuck with, so this is a non issue for us. But tradition is tradition, and many brides want to see that look on the grooms face when he first see's her walking down the aisle.

That was really important to me, until I actually saw photos and videos of real first looks. Not only do you still get that moment, you can share it in private with your love. You can laugh, cry, kiss, whatever you want. And the biggest benefit is that you can take most or all of your photos before the ceremony and actually be able to attend your coctail hour.

There are a variety of ways to do this, but the most common I have seen is the groom standing somewhere and the bride walking up behind him. He turns around....and the laughter or tears (or both) begin. You can have the parents or bridal party present or it can be just the two of you, the photograper and videographer. If you are having videographer, I highly suggest you have them present for this so you can view this special moment over and over again.

So why have we decided to do this? The main reason is that we want to be able to act on our emotions when we see each other. I want Mr. Modern to tell me how beautiful I look, and i want to be able to hug and kiss him and enjoy the moment. I also love the idea of being able to take the photos early. We can take the time we need to get the pictures we want without having to worry about rushing to get back to our guest, we can get picutres in daylight since our wedding will be in the eveneing and we get to attend out cocktial hour.

And for those those who are concerned about ruining the walk down the aisle, dont be. Every bride and groom that I've heard from who had a first look said the walk down the aisle was just as emotional and just as special as they had imagined it would be. Seeing each other before did not take away the moment. In fact, this is actually the norm in Jewish ceremonies.

So what do you think? Are First Looks a great idea?

Weddetiquett Wars: Adults Only!

Mr Crying Pants, originally uploaded by Marc Vosburgh.
Im a member of several wedding forums and a hot topic is adults only wedding. Do you want to see a sweet mommy turn into a lioness? Let her know her cub is not invited to your big day!

There are great reasons why children should be invited such as the idea that weddings are a celebration for friends and families and children should be part of that celebration. And you have to love all the cute photo opportunities that kids create.

But its not all good. We've all been to the wedding where a toddler screamed through the vows. Or where the parents were hanging out at the bar while their children ran wild. And the fact that if its a late night reception, many parents will leave early to put their kids to bed.

Mr. Modern and I have decided to have a child free wedding (except for my nephew), for several reasons. The main reason is we have been to too many weddings wher children were disruptive and we dont want to deal with that. We also plan on having an open bar, and a dance club atmosphere- not an ideal place for children. And we want our guest to relax, have some drinks, and have fun without worrying about their children. And most importantly, we dont want to pay for them.

Dont get me wrong, I love children, but there are just certain events that are nout suited for them. Now if i was having an afternoon wedding, outdoors with lots of space, and inexpensive catering, i would invite all the children in my family. But since we dont have kids, its just not the type of event we want.

Are you thinking of having an adults only reception? Here are some tips to consider:

- Make an age limit. We are doing 21 and up, but you could make the age 12, 16, 18 etc.
-Allow only certain children such as immediate family, your children only, or weddin party only. Other than these specific groups, you risk offending guest who couldnt bring their children if you allow some and not others.
-Make sure people know before making travel plans. Have your parents/ wedding party spread the word, put it on your wedding website, put it on your save the dates and even put "Adults Only" on your invites. That last one is controversial, but if you know it will be an issue with your guest, i would let them know in every way possible.
-Consider offering your guests options. You could have a seperate room for the kids, hire a baby sitter at a different location, or provide guest with a list of local sitters.
-Dont give in. There will be people who think they are the exception or their children are special and should come anyway. Do not allow them to sway your decision. Most people can leave their children for a few hours. If a guest shows up with a child, tell them you are sorry you cant accomodate them. Again, you will offend the guest who actually respected your wishes and didnt bring their children.

There is nothing wrong with having children at your wedding, but just know that you dont have to. Its up to the couple and the type of event they want to have. What do you think about all of this? Are you having children at your wedding?