Proposal then Planning

For years I’ve been talking to brides as they plan their big day. From tiny detail decisions, to seating arrangements, to selecting readings, managing challenging in-laws, to resolving final logistics. These brides have always been close friends or family members, and the conversations have been casual, over wine, via text, at events. Now, though, I’m digging up all of my courage and starting to make this a bit more professional. I’ve recently started consulting on wedding planning.

For today’s Saturday Sevens, I’m sharing 7 tips for starting off a positive relationship with a wedding consultant.

  1. Have a preliminary interview – by phone or in person. If you don’t “vibe” with your consultant, it’s going to present difficulties in a variety of places throughout your planning. Make sure you and your significant other get along with the consultant. If you hate how they respond to an email – do they type “u” instead of “you”? – then don’t hire them. Ask how soon you can expect them to answer your questions, what their role will be on the big day, what type of access you’ll have to them throughout planning – and anything else you might be wondering. This person will be a very big part of your life, and your wedding, and you want to be sure you like them – and not just that they’re in your price range.
  2. Be clear about your expectations – you’re the bride, or the groom, and you deserve to have a great planning experience. Make sure you communicate what you expect from your consultant – and be sure you share what you’re expecting of your vendors. You should also be clear about what you want your day to look like, feel like, and how you want it to run. If you want your consultant to hand things off once the reception starts, let them know. If you want them to design invitations, let them know. Communication – as you’ll see throughout these tips – is the most important piece of this.
  3. Introductions – Be sure that key players in involved with your wedding are aware that you’re working with a consultant. You might not want to give everyone access to that person, but it’s important that parents or the Maid of Honor know you have someone for back-up. When the time is right for you, introductions to ceremony site coordinators or venue staff will be key as well. What you want to avoid here is your consultant moving forward on action items the two of you have discussed, and someone else feeling like their toes are being stepped on.
  4. Set a timeline – if you’re a procrastinator, ask that your coordinator work to keep you on schedule in terms of projects. Figure out when you should have stuff done, when you’ll realistically have it done, and best practices for staying on track. If you’re a bit more type A, let your coordinator know that. You need that person to be responsive and timely – and that’s totally fine. Just make sure they know when you expect deliverables, and they’ll take it from there. Your consultant will also help you finalize a day-of timeline – which is absolutely paramount to a smooth wedding day.
  5. Be honest – about your dynamics. You might feel nervous about sharing a lot of personal information up front, potentially with a stranger, but if you want to have a positive and constructive relationship, you need to be clear. Is your mother-in-law a bit overbearing? Tell your consultant. Is your significant other a bit removed from planning? Tell your consultant. Are your floral arrangements the most important thing to you? Tell your consultant. Have you not considered anything about your wedding besides hiring the consultant? Tell the consultant.
  6. Come prepared to meetings – if you have a certain amount of time scheduled to meet with your consultant, be prompt. Have your notes and questions with you. Do some prep before and make the most of your time together.
  7. Actually collaborate-  it’s your day, and your consultant is there to help make that day as nearly perfect as possible. Give feedback! If you don’t like the direction the consultant is suggesting, let them know! You have control – and now support – so don’t hesitate to share your feelings on it. Everyone will be coming together to make your day perfect, so be sure you’re all working in the same direction.

Slowly Slowcooking

It might be a deep-rooted paranoia, or just maybe a lingering concern from all of those “stop, drop, and roll” trainings we had as kids, but I’m terrified of crock pots. I’m so nervous to leave them on at home while going to work.

I literally unplug all of our appliances when I leave for work. I can’t stand the idea that the toaster might burn down the house even though it hasn’t been used that morning. This might be something I need to work on…

Crock pots are so practical – I get it, one pot, the meal is ready when you crawl in from work, and it’s low energy for you. I understand it. I get that the production people have probably (hopefully?) done all they can to make slow cookers safe, but still, they freak me out.

Earlier this week, though, my sister was at the house in the morning, and my parents were planning to arrive before I returned from work – so the house would be empty for a very short period of time. So I agreed. Just this once, we’d leave the crockpot on.

And man oh man, it was worth it.

We made baby back ribs in the slow cooker. We found the recipe on AllRecipes.com, and it was super easy to prep – although my husband did most of the heavy lifting on this one. Cause I was not touching this:

The recipe calls for the following:

  • 3 pounds of baby back ribs – trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Barbecue Sauce (we used Trader Joe’s brand, but this recipe suggests Sweet Baby Ray’s)

Directions are listed online, but in sum, you mix all the seasonings on top, add water to the slow cooker, add the ribs, top with onion and garlic and cook on low for 8 hours.

We didn’t move the ribs into the oven as the recipe calls for – but they were delicious. We left them on warm for an extra 45 minutes or so just because we weren’t ready for dinner yet – and the meat was literally falling off the bone.

We added cornbread to the meal as well as green beans. We were able to eat out on the porch – and let me tell you, the meal tasted just like summer.

We’ll definitely be trying this recipe again – and I’ll be doing my best to stay calm about the crockpot while I’m at work.

Big Day, Bigger Morning

Your wedding day will be one of the happiest days of your life, but also might be one of the most stressful.

To be sure you enjoy every moment, I’ve put together seven tips for making the morning of your wedding a relaxing, memorable experience.

  1. Share your timeline – with bridesmaids, photographers, and key participants. Clear communication is key to ensuring things go smoothly. This also makes other people accountable – which means less for you to keep track of. You don’t need to be making sure the next girl is getting her hair done, you can ask them to keep things moving.
  2. Add a buffer – however long you think getting ready, or moving locations, add a bit of extra time. Having expectations that someone will run late or that there might be traffic will help reduce the stress if you have extra time built in.
  3. Surround yourself with positivity – who should be getting ready with you isn’t always clear. Obviously you’ll want your bridesmaids, and anyone who fulfills the mother figure role in your life. You might always want cousins or other relatives. Think about how including these people will go, though – will it cause stress on the timeline? Will it create any tension? Think through these questions before extending invitations.
  4. Eat – this may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s so important. Make sure you have food available for your bridal party too. Hydrating is key as well! Have water early and pee before you put your dress on.
  5. Make a playlist – of your favorite songs or songs that remind you of your significant other. It’s often a long morning, so adding some jams can help keep the energy up.
  6. Have a trial run – with hair and makeup. You might even try to have your trials before a dress fitting so you can be sure you like how it all goes together. This way when your hair and makeup is done, you’ll already know you love it.
  7. Be present – try to remember to take some deep breaths and realize how beautiful the day is. You’ll be surrounded by love, and you’re marrying the love of your life. Enjoy it.

Juice Justification

So as you may have read, I recently tried my first juice.

The one I tried included spinach, celery, cucumber, and kiwi – maybe a few other things. My husband’s had mango, grapefruit, orange, apple, lime, and mint in it.

To be honest, I was sort of nervous to try it. I was nervous it would taste like a weird veggie combo, and it would taste too healthy to drink. Equally I was terrified it would make me sick – I have a very weird stomach and the slightest changes to my diet can put me in a lot of pain.

But I’ve heard about how delicious juices are, and all the health benefits of juicing. I also felt like trying something new – because it was beautiful out, I was on a walk with my husband, and why shouldn’t I? Why did I need to get the same old thing?

Anyway, we tried them.

The employees added veggie and fruit after veggie and fruit – and a slow trickle of juice came out. The machine separated out the waste – although this seemed magical to me because how did the machine know what to keep and what not to? In went peels and cores and butts of veggies and out cake juice.

The machine was loud but it was fast. Soon we had our drinks in hand.

What did we think?

Well neither of us split it out – both of us actually thought they were pretty yummy. The person who prepared them for us was very patient with me. I asked a million questions and stared over the counter watching her every move.

The juicer itself seemed VERY intense. I was impressed by how many fruits and veggies went in to each – it really justified the pricing.

The employee told us that the juices would probably keep us full for about an hour. She also told us that juice cleanses normally include enough protein in them that people stay full throughout the day.

My juice separated almost immediately – although my husband’s did not. I’m not sure why this was, and despite my best mixing effort, it didn’t go back to its original consistency. The struggle.

The added bonus of this adventure was that we got to try out a really cute shop – Quench Juice in Scituate, Massachusetts. They are located in the harbor, and sell local various pieces of work by local artists.

Overall, we’re not investing in a juicer – but grabbing a juice might be a healthy alternative for us instead of a quick Dunkins pit stop. Especially now that juiceries are popping up everywhere.

If you’re exploring juicing at home, you might want to check the Juicing Calculator to see just how healthy your drink is. I think we’ve all fallen in to that trap of thinking we’re making a healthy smoothie when we’re really just drinking sugar.

Overall, I’ll definitely try it again, but this won’t become my daily routine.

Just Juice

Have you ever tried juicing?

I haven’t. I’ve heard a lot about it, read about the health benefits, seen all the trendy new storefronts opening up – but I’ve never tried it.

Is it a meal replacement? A supplement? A treat? Overall I have some confusion.

As usual, I turned to my pal Google. There are thousands of results – a lot claiming that juicing is the best way to get the vitamins your body needs. Some claim:

  • better skin
  • better hair
  • stable digestion
  • more energy

while other sites share recipes or offer cleanses.

My husband and I have gotten in to a potentially unhealthy habit – whenever we’re out running errands we get ourselves a treat. This is normally a coffee or a tea, but occasionally extends to a treat like a donut or a sugary bar. We normally bring water with us, so we don’t need to stop for that. I think more out of habit than need, we like to take a break from the to do list and grab something for us – hence the coffee stops despite having two cups already at home. So what’s the alternative?

Maybe a juice?

Since I’m not investing in a juicer, I am going to explore a little juicery that I’ve been noticing on the South Shore.

We are both going to try a new treat from Quench Juicery.

As a caveat to this next adventure, I’ll add that I don’t think a one-and-done mentality applies here. Obviously to feel and notice true differences you need to try something routinely. This adventure is just for taste and feel. From there, well have a sense of whether or not we want to try it again or commit to it as part of our regular diet.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Saving the STD

A fair amount of photographers include engagement photos in their packages. Some people don’t feel they need engagement photos – especially those who may have had their actual engagement captured in photos. It’s fair to say that most couples, though, use their engagement photos to make their Save the Dates – STDs.

While it seems easy enough to smile and pose for the camera, it’s not always that easy. Here are my 7 tips for making the most of your engagement photos for your save the dates.

  1. Before anything else, do you have rights to your photos? – be sure your photographer is releasing rights to your photos.
  2. Have a vision – it’s not enough to just schedule your photos. Figure out what you as a couple want them to look like – what season, how formal – and discuss it with your photographer. You might want to lean in to any themes your wedding will include, but remember, these are separate photos so there’s no need to go crazy with wedding details.
  3. Count backwards – most Save the Dates are sent 6-9 months before your big day. If you’re having a destination wedding, a wedding on a key holiday weekend, or the majority of your guests are traveling, consider sending them 9-12 months. Check in with your photographer to see how long their turn around time is, and then leave 3 or 4 weeks in your plan to get the STDs printed and mailed – that will help you figure out timing for your engagement photos.
  4. It’s all about the date – so how do you want your guests to see that date? Do you want it typed over a photo of you that you add when you order yours? Or do you want to hold up a chalkboard sign with it, write it in the sand, or make jerseys with the date on it?
  5. Bring props – if that suits you as a couple. My husband and I had a bit of a picnic during our engagement photos. It gave us something to do, and also something to hold (the basket) while we walked the beach. Are the two of you athletic? Maybe consider throwing a ball around. Did you meet at a coffee shop? Maybe incorporate coffee into your shoot.
  6. Think about poses – modeling is harder than it looks. There’s no shame in considering what angle you look best from. There are plenty of YouTube videos that can guide you through how to stand. Be sure you’re prepared so you’re more comfortable.
  7. Be flexible – often times, it’s difficult to schedule your engagement photos. Your photographer might be booked on the weekends, and you might be trying to catch the right light if your photos are outside. Weather also controls any outdoor photos, and rain will mean rescheduling. Ask your photographer if you can schedule a rain date right up front when you book your photos to put your mind at ease.

Thank You Tasks

In the weeks (months) following your wedding, there is likely to be a lot going on.

One thing not to forget is to track your gifts and send your thank you cards!

For the most part, I feel comfortable writing/sending thank you cards, if I do say so myself. We sent about 100 after our shower and I’ve been sending them across the past year and a half for various engagement gifts.

The day after my wedding shower I sat down and wrote half of them – but somehow, fast approaching 3 months since my big day, I haven’t sent a single one!

First we had to wait for our wedding photos- but our photographer got those back to us literally on the one month mark, so that’s no excuse.

Then we couldn’t agree on which photo to use – which best captured our day? Which made each of us look our best?

I must have sent well over a dozen to my husband to ask for his preference. He didn’t love the ones I suggested. He sent me back ones he liked – many of which were the ones I suggested and he originally rejected! I sent back the ones I liked and so on…and we are so so so so close to actually picking one.

Somehow ordering thank you cards has become really stressful! I realize we have a year to send them, but now I feel like we’re behind!

Although we managed to send our Save the Date cards, the photo we used was from a distance, and it had details on it so it felt different than this. I’ve never sent a holiday card with my face on it so I think this is why I’m so nervous to send everyone a thank you card with my face plastered on it!

I guess also, in truth, this sort of ends our wedding. It sounds weird, but after this our wedding moment will be over. Yes, we get to spend forever together – but I’m not a bride anymore! This is the last bridal move I’ll get to do!

In the midst of all the indecision, we then hit a snag with another piece – we ordered over 500 prints to include in our thank you cards and they were all cropped horribly!

On top of that, the delivery person left them on our steps in the rain- despite having a covered entryway.

Our plan for the prints is to include a few in each thank you card. For each guest, we did our best to find a flattering photo of them – and that’s the print (or prints) were including with their thank you card. Some of these photos are really precious – my aunt dancing with her great-nephew, my best friend absolutely glowing at her boyfriend. I want to share these with my guests!

So back to the drawing board. I need to re-crop every photo and re-order them. From there, I need to sort them so I can figure out which photos are going in which thank you note! This will get tricky because we have a few big group photos – and we’re sending a copy to each person included. Sigh.

My plan is to (finally) order our thank you cards, and re-order the prints.

I’ll then reference our excel sheet and begin writing out the personalized notes!

Here’s what I suggest for thank you notes:

  • Make them personal – do you have a nickname for a friend? Use it.
  • Politely reference the gift. Did they give you a check? You can call it “your generous gift” and let them know that you’ll be putting it towards something positive – saving for your dream home, doing an activity on your honeymoon etc.. Maybe don’t detail it if you’re just casually going on a shopping spree.
  • If it’s not a check, you can refer to it as generous or another winner is “thoughtful.” Pots and pans? Tell them you can’t wait to try new recipes with your new spouse. Platters? Say you’re looking forward to hosting family/friends for years to come.
  • Thank them for celebrating with you at your wedding – or that you missed them at the party.
  • Close by saying that you’re looking forward to seeing them soon or that you’ll think of them as you use their gift – or that you appreciate their support as you begin your next chapter.

I’m planning to order ours and tackle these in the next two weekend. We have to send over 150 out and I hope each will feel personal to our guest.

I’ll let you know how it goes.