notes, thoughts, & muses of a wedding junkie

An ongoing series of informational entries

Day-Of Coordinator, Venue Coordinator...Do I Really Need Both?

February 19th, 2018

Touring venues can be one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning! This is, after all, where your dream starts turning to reality, and will be the biggest contributing factor in how your wedding looks and feels. You'll be overwhelmed with choices...Indoor/outdoor, bar options, on-site bride and groom suites, the list goes on seemingly forever. One thing on that list that many venues include with their packages is a Venue Coordinator. You may be thinking that since your venue comes with a Venue Coordinator, why would you need to hire a Day-Of coordinator?

If you're planning your first wedding, it's usually not crystal clear exactly what each of these vendors' roles will be on the big day. We love the venue coordinators that we work with because they are absolute EXPERTS with their facilities, which makes the other vendors' jobs much easier. They know all the ins and outs of the building, and exactly where everything is kept. They are pros with handling common facility issues such as where the caterers should set up, finding your DJ the best plug-ins, spacing properly around emergency exits, or controlling various light fixtures to set just the right mood. The Venue Coordinator is just that - the venue coordinator. Their responsibility begins and ends with the venue itself and whatever else may come with it.

That's where Day-Of Coordinators come in. While the venue is a critical part of your wedding day, it is certainly not all-inclusive of the many other moving pieces! Here's what you can typically expect of a Day-Of Coordinator (DOC):

- Timeline: Your DOC will work closely with you and all your vendors to schedule every detail of your entire wedding day, including vendor arrival and departure times. They'll make sure that your event continues flowing along as it should. They will also confirm with your vendors to ensure they are where they are supposed to be, and on time (and chase them down, if need be!).

- Rehearsal: Your DOC will help in facilitating your rehearsal, and teaching everyone where they should be for the ceremony. They will also be right there to make sure everyone makes it down the aisle at the appropriate intervals when the time comes, including the 3 year old flower girl.

- Crisis Management: In the event of hiccups on your wedding day, or even in the week leading up to it, your DOC will handle it! They are experienced in weddings and will know what to do &  help you stay calm if the groom rips his pants or the photographer goes missing. Many times, the bride and groom will never know a problem even occurred because the DOC was there to fix it.

- Arranging Decor & PlaceCards: If you have personal decor items, seating charts, or bar menus that you'd like set up, your DOC will take care of this. You and your bridal party should be enjoying mimosas and relaxing on the morning of your wedding - not hustling around the venue decorating.

- Tip Distribution: Allow your DOC to take care of this detail while you dance the night away. You don't need to be juggling envelopes and tracking down the caterer when you've got a bouquet to toss and guests to mingle with!

- Post-Wedding Management: Your DOC will ensure that your personal items and luggage are all ready to go in your getaway vehicle. After your grand exit to your honeymoon, don't leave your family (who will probably be exhausted and a little tipsy) to deal with what's left! Your DOC will make sure that your gifts are sent home, and make sure that the top tier of your cake doesn't accidentally get thrown away. They'll ensure that your venue is left in good condition so that you won't face any loss of security deposits.

- Most importantly: Your DOC works for YOU, not the venue. This means that they are on your team and no one else's! Their one goal is to make sure your wedding goes off without a hitch, looks fabulous, and most of all, doesn't end up being a day of work and stress for you and your family.

Contact us to get started planning your best day ever! We offer 50% off coordination services to all our floral clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Cheers, and happy planning! Xoxo, Talia

My flowers cost HOW MUCH!?!? A 12-Step Guide (from your florist's side) to the Floral Price Tag.

March 20th, 2018

If you've never planned a wedding before, you might be surprised to see the price tag that came with those Pinterest photos of show-stopping, 4-foot tall centerpieces dripping with blooms, or those breathtaking floral archways that look like the entrance to heaven itself.

There's a lot that goes into the number at the bottom of the proposal, and we're here to break it down for you (honestly!) to help you understand (and maybe even appreciate) the costs, labor, and time required....because too many brides take on DIY wedding flowers unaware all of these factors thinking they'll save money, but end up heartbroken and exhausted on their wedding day. They find themselves with not only lopsided bouquets and empty-looking tablescapes in their forever ($$$$) photos, but having spent the same money, or more, on the DIY than they would have spent with a pro...all because some article on Pinterest (yes, the same place showcasing the DEFINITELY NOT DIY-ED flowers) told them it was a great way to cut wedding costs. And no one deserves that on their best day ever.

1. Flowers aren't a cheap commodity - even at the wholesale level. This is one of those things where you just can't have a champagne taste on a beer budget. Garden roses and peonies do not just grow for free out in the least not in wedding quantities! They have to be cultivated, farmed, cared for and hydrated all season long, and harvested at just the right time, and then specially packaged to get where they're going undamaged. They get overnighted, usually from Ecuador, Holland, California, etc...Also a very expensive process. Shipping alone tends to cost as much as the flowers do.

2. Ordering just the right flowers is a task. 3 weeks prior to wedding time...We have to develop a "recipe" for every arrangement that fits both the budget and color palette of the wedding. Questions that typically need answers: Is this flower in season, and in just the right shade of Marsala? Flowers are sold wholesale by the many stems per bunch (it's always different)? How many bunches do we need? Will we be able to use the entire bunch or will there be waste? Will the bouquet look "full" enough? Which wholesaler has the best price right now? What stem length do we need (there's usually 2-3 options)? Is this flower safe to put on a cake? What's the scientific name for just the right variety of Ranunculus (did you know there's about 600)? Is there enough texture and size variety in this order?

3. Once received, flowers have to be processed. For a Saturday wedding, this happens on a Tuesday. A full wedding order takes several hours to process. Buckets get scrubbed down with bleach & filled with a special floral preservative solution. Shipment gets unboxed and unwrapped (typically about 1000 stems). Count & confirm quantities, chase down any that are missing. Remove ugly foliage and thorns (OUCH) and every stem gets a fresh cut & dip into a re-hydrating chemical (they arrive very thirsty and sad looking from their long journey overseas). We analyze which ones need to open more, and work our magic to make sure they're perfectly opened at exactly the right time.

4. Supplies, supplies, and more supplies! Not to mention the floral cooler, electric bill, advertising, insurance, or rent, here's what we use to complete a typical wedding: Re-hydrating solution, floral preservative, finishing spray, floral foam, cold glue, spray glue, design dishes, stem wrap tape, waterproof tape, several different gauges of wire, chicken wire, hot glue, shears, wire cutters, bouquet holders, vases, pins, ribbons, corsage wristlets....I'll just stop here before you get bored.

5. Flowers have to be stored cold (and at just the right humidity and away from certain types of gases) until it's time to arrange. Any one of these factors being wrong can cause dead, mushy, or browning flowers, which unfortunately at the last minute is not fixable and there's not enough time to ship in new ones.

6. Fast forward to Thursday - time to start arranging. This is an art and can take a couple of days to arrange for a full wedding, especially if there is a lot of handwork (boutonnieres, corsages, flower crowns all take a TON of time and patience). Arrange, stand in front of a mirror, make sure it photographs well and doesn't only look good from certain angles, repeat. Ensure that it meets all the elements of a good design (texture, variety, height, depth, good focal points). Sometimes scrap and start over and repeat until it's perfect.

7. Store cold (again) until it's go-time. We're making sure flowers are staying properly hydrated, even after arranging and wrapping into bouquets and boutonnieres.

8. Time to get the flowers to the venue. This requires a couple large vehicles or a van (and obviously fuel to get to the venue and back), while still maintaining proper temperature control and hydration. Arrangements have to be transported upright and secured in special boxes and containers to where a bump or a brake check won’t send one flying. Packing heavy boxes of décor items (like candles and votives) alongside delicate flowers is like a giant game of tetris…and one that takes a while to prep.

9. Set-up. For a full wedding with ceremony installs and centerpieces, this generally takes 3 skilled people several hours to complete. Remember, those people don't work for the florist for free! They’ll also need a meal somewhere during what will probably be a 14 hour day on their feet. Boutonnieres, corsages, and bouquets all have to be distributed to the correct people in the thick of the pre-wedding chaos (has anybody seen Great Uncle Jim?)

10. Strike. After the last round of Cupid Shuffle and the sparkler send-off at midnight, the floral crew has to come back and take it all down and box it all back up again. 3 people can do it in roughly an hour…but remember, they probably never left the venue and still aren’t working for free ;)

11. Post-Wedding. Yes, there is still work to be done from your wedding last night! The van has to be unpacked again, all the containers have to be emptied, linens have to be returned for laundering.

12. Last, but not least...your florist needs to make a profit. "But why do I care if they make a profit?" Trust us, you don't want to pay a four-figure deposit to a vendor that won't be able to stay in business long enough to perform the services you've hired them to do. You probably won't see that money again, AND you'll have to pay another deposit to a replacement vendor.

TL;DR: Hire a florist to execute your wedding vision. You (and your wedding photo album) deserve it, and you'll be glad you did! Xoxo, Talia

Hiring "Friendors": It seemed like a good idea at the time...

July 3rd, 2018

Q: What's a "Friendor", you might ask?
A: Someone who is your friend, but also a wedding vendor of some kind. They do cakes, they take pictures, they are a DJ, etc. Have them work your wedding - they become a Friendor.

So what's wrong with a Friendor? They might be able to hook you up with a great discount, you already know them, and you were going to invite them to your wedding anyway.

I hate to break it to you, but...these are all the exact reasons why you shouldn't hire Friendors. Let me explain.

1. Your friends who are running businesses in the wedding industry can't afford to give you discounts. Even if you don't outright ask your vendor-friend for a discount on their services, they most likely are speculating in their mind that you're expecting one (or, they just want to be the nice friend), so they're going to feel pressured to give you one. When they do discount their services, know that they are financing a portion of your wedding out of their own pocket - and that's not a cool thing to ask someone to do.

I've seen this very thing destroy life-long friendships because the Friendor feels taken advantage of and feelings get hurt, even if everyone involved had good intentions to start with. Weddings are a LOT of work, and no one likes working for free (and especially not at a cost to them!). At the end of the day, if you decide that you just can't imagine anyone else performing that service for you besides your friend, make sure you are paying full market price for their services. Insist on it.

2. Since you already know your vendor-friend, professional expectations are just different between the two of you. A 3rd-party vendor will set up consultations to capture your vision, get everything in writing, have clear expectations about billing and invoicing, and most importantly, have a binding service contract for your wedding day outlining exactly what they will do (and will NOT do).  A 3rd-party vendor will have their business's reputation in mind throughout the entire experience, so they will move mountains to ensure you are satisfied with the end result.

While a Friendor will most likely want your experience to be a good one, the "hustle" factor will just be different. You already know them, they already know you...things will be much more relaxed. If they miss a meeting time or a deadline, it's not going to seem as big of a deal to them. They are not going to be working as hard to make the fantastic impression that a 3rd party vendor will be hustling to make. They are not going to stress as much that everything is exactly perfect - because you're already friends. Just trust me on this one. If you still think I'm crazy and you're going to hire a Friendor anyway, at the very least, ask them for a service contract - the same one they would provide any other client. Non-negotiable.

3. What happens if something goes wrong and you're not happy with the services? What if your photographer friend is 2 hours late and misses your getting ready photos, or your baker friend makes your cake in totally the wrong flavors? Are you willing to write your friend's business a bad review, or ask your friend for a refund? If you hire a Friendor, you really have no recourse if there's a problem on your wedding day and they are at fault, unless you are willing to end the friendship over it. Ask yourself what you'd do in that situation before making the call to hire your friend...or just avoid that extremely uncomfortable situation altogether, and hire someone that you would not mind holding accountable for their performance.

4. This is the make-or-break factor: You are close enough friends that you were going to invite them to your wedding anyway. Here's the thing - your wedding reception is to thank your honored guests for attending. Your guests want to sit back, relax, and celebrate your new marriage with you! If someone is close enough to you or your fiance that they were going to score an invite to this event in your life, you don't want them to be slaving away behind the scenes working the whole time. Yes, they'll still be there, but they are going to miss out on watching you walk down the aisle, enjoying the glass of champagne when you toast your new marriage, and dancing the night away. Their memory of your special day is going to be a memory of work, stress, and possibly even a ruined friendship (refer to point #1). And they definitely won't be in any photos.

There really is no exception on this one. Don't make your friends (and especially not your family) work on your wedding day, in any capacity, paid or not paid, vendor or volunteer. A good litmus test: If they didn't make the invitation list, it's probably safe to use them as a vendor (as long as you're paying full price for their services and have a contract with them). If they're more of an acquaintance (i.e., they would be scratching their head if they had received an invite as a guest), you're safe!

Hopefully this helps clear up the muddy Friendor waters. Have fun selecting your wedding professionals, and let your vendor-friends sit back enjoy it on your big day. Trust me, they'll thank you. Cheers, and happy planning! Xoxo, Talia