The Wrong Idea

I love wedding sites as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong. These sites are great for inspiration, but att he same time they are like looking at a fashion magazine and everyone is a size 0. However, there is a line between reality, and well… gobs of money/fantasy.

So, begins my problem of becoming the dream crusher/reality-checker.

I get girls that have a limited budget. Which, I am fine with. In this economy, we all want the most bang for our buck. Limited budget=challenge and opportunities to get creative. I’m a new business, still trying to prove myself. However, they spend all their time looking at wedding pictures over at Project Wedding and Style Me Pretty, and then tell me they want exactly THAT.

Let’s look at the most recent meeting.

This is the type of centerpiece idea she wants. Vintage style. Lots of little containers, succulents, but FULL. She wants milk glass too.

This is the type of setup kinda she likes for the ceremony:

Total things she wants:

  • 17 Tables Needing Centerpieces, minimum 3 vase type things per table of various height. (12 round, 4 rectangle, 1 sweetheart)
  • 1 Bride Bouquet
  • 5 BM Bouquets
  • 3 Corsages (2 Moms, 1 Gma)
  • 17 Bouts (1 Groom, 5 Groomsmen, 2 Dads, 1 StepDad, 8 Sponsors)
  • 10 Pomanders (2 FG, 8 Ceremony Aisle)
  • Cake Flowers
  • Petals for the Aisle, thick on either side.
  • Ceremony decor similar to pictured above
  • 2 Bar Pieces
  • Petals everywhere else possible… cocktail tables, guest book table, etc.
  • Oh yeah.. AND she wants cones filled with petals for every chair as the idea is to be showered with petals post ceremony.
  • Toss Bouquet?

All of this, and the budget is… $1400.

Here’s the problem. Vintage containers average around $5 each. I’m trying, TRYING to jam everything in as much as possible. But, things are only so cheap, ya know? It’s not just flowers you’re buying, it’s gas, transportation, ribbon, pins, floral tape, floral wire, floral glue, buckets for flowers, floral foam, netting, DCD, QuickDip, FloraLife, Finishing Touch, Containers, Tags, Rocks, Sharp knives, fishing line, votives, candles, shears, Etc. They ALL COST MONEY!! Many of those items are NOT REUSABLE. On average, I’ll spend 40-60 man hours per wedding from initial meeting to final wedding. On top of that… all those sales that I make? I EVENTUALLY have to pay tax on them. California sales tax is just under 10% (9.75% to be exact). So, $136.50 of that $1400, that’s the effing sales tax.

I’ve been looking at this thing. Minus the Petal Cones… I can probably do the above for $1425. And let me tell you, that is DIRT CHEAP. It’s those damn petal cones that kill me! You figure two roses gave up their petals per cone, right? A rose costs wholesale around .48 cents per… so almost $1 per cone for JUST PETALS. Now, making the cone out of paper, adding ribbon and glue… there’s another .50. Even if I made 160 of those for cost of supplies only, as in my time is free… that’s STILL going to come out to an additional $240 which is 17% of her budget for freaking petals that are getting thrown at her for 30 seconds while she walks down the aisle for a couple pictures, and then get tromped on by the guests.

*SIGH* Time to go have a discussion with my bride about reality.

Quick Update

One last update before the new year rolls around.

The Latest Bridal Shower

Bridal shower invites are done! (Well, almost. I still have to finish cutting and assembling, but I wanted to share pictures.)

I call these a semi-DIY because I did start out with a kit that I found at Mimio in Pasadena. Then I sort of built from there based on the inspiration I found, grabbing some ink from Blick Art Supplies and some extra pieces from Paper Source.

I think these will work perfectly for our garden tea party bridal shower.

Another Sort of Shower

I have been asked to help with another sort of shower. Amanda threw a baby shower for her girlfriend and I was asked to help with flowers and some of the decoration, like making fabric banners and cutting and cutting strips of fabric for the chairs.

Well crap, now there really is pressure to get that freaking website up and running since she linked directly to that site and not my Project Wedding Vendor page. Let us commence with the stressing out.

Simplify the Holiday Season

Yesterday morning, I got out to pick up some veggies at the market. Yesterday also happened to be our eight-year anniversary. And I was still kind of thinking of what to make for our anniversary dinner all the while I was shopping. I knew I wanted to make Harry Potter-themed food, since we had planned to start re-watching the first six movies last night. I knew I wanted something that went with beer, maybe a shepherd’s pie, and pumpkin pasties. But, other than that, I was just going to find something while I was out.

I had been meaning to visit the market when it started last month – this is the first year since I’ve known about this market for a while but it was only recently that they’ve extended it into the autumn and winter months. But yesterday was the first Saturday I managed to go. I had been craving kale so badly the past few weeks, so I was planning on getting that while I was there. I figured I could saute some and beautiful beets. I’ve only had beets a handful of times, but I decided to pick some up because they were just too pretty to leave there. I also purchased a head of lettuce for a salad.

I got a bunch of golden beets, as well as a bunch of candy cane beets, I think they’re called. When I say I’ve had beets a handful of times, I mean I’ve had the regular, old, red beets. I’ve never had either of these varieties. So I was pretty excited about trying them! I’m going to have to find a recipe for the beet greens, because I’ve never cooked them before and these are just too pretty to let go to waste! I think I might just saute them with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Good grief, I love non-fussy food!

Deck The Halls for a Christmas Wedding

All things white… Christmas wedding venue was decked out floor to ceiling in lush white duponi silk as the guests dressed in white, danced the night away to music from the House DJ. The gourmet menu was crafted with an incredible assortment of white inspired foods, appetizers and desserts. The open bar served white inspired beverages including White Peppermint Martinis, White Russians and even a mixed drink called “White Christmas!”

The guests were given the VIP treatment from start to finish…boarding their personal (white) 55-person VIP coach from pre-party to main event and back to their hotel at the end of the night.

A full crew of paparazzi photographers greeted them at the door…And two other complete different sets of photographers also covered the event, as well. One of them was Catch the Moment, which provided a green screen photo booth for guests to take fun photos with their friends with a choice of custom made backgrounds. Absolutely a BLAST!

Madison Asked – I Answered

I’m planning the bridal shower. The place it’s being held at can hold 50 people. The thing that’s irritating me is that she keeps adding all these people from FH’s side of the family that HAVE to be invited. Like an aunt’s sister or something, just because “that’s what you do.” I don’t even know these people! She’s saying that some of them might not come anyway, but they should be sent an invitation. Is that how it works?

And speaking of inviting people, I have a few questions on wedding guests.

  • What was your policy on +1’s for single guests?
  • Did you send invites to Great Uncle So-and-So’s Sister in Law, even though she most likely won’t come?

My guest list is getting out of control. We planned to invite 150 people or fewer (we need 125 minimum). I have a box of 100 invites (a score for $4 from the thrift store that was a lot better price than we had found elsewhere. Though I have to say these aren’t the chicest ones that we found. There are a lot of bridal shower invitations out there that have a lot trendier look.!). I don’t want to send out more than 100 invitations, but I’m afraid I might have to, with all these people I’m being told to add by both my parents and FH’s parents. I mean, I guess part of it is my fault, because I wanted this to be a big, fun party, and I did tell my parents to give me a list of some friends they wanted to invite, and it’s larger than I expected. I also don’t even know some of them. Also, FH’s mom is telling me to add this person and this person and this person, just to send them an invitation, even though they likely won’t come. WHAT IF THEY ALL COME ANYWAY?!

Hi Madison,

It sounds like you have done a lot to get things under control which is a big step forward in getting your bridal shower plans met. The worst thing that could happen is that you go even higher, trying to entertain more people. From the way it sounds you have already planned for a big bridal shower with 50 people. This is actually very big for a shower and it sounds like you haven’t got a lot of experience planning parties.

You mentioned that the guest list might double. And unless you are hosting a couples bridal shower I don’t see how that can happen. It isn’t common for a guest list to balloon that much and you already seem like you are looking for cheap alternatives.

That being said if you are already having problems with a guest list of 50 you will quickly run into trouble if you try to stretch the budget to cover twice as many people.

Unless the guests will be coming and going entertaining that many people in one sitting is enough to make even experienced hostesses cry. And Madison, I say this with all honesty I don’t want to think of you in tears.

Your best chance for success is if you get the bridal shower guest list back under control. You didn’t mention why it got like that but I can assume you have run afoul with some backseat planners telling you who needs to come. If you can’t handle it, tell them. They may try to guilt you, but you have it in your power to get things under control.

Best of luck!

A Green Wedding

Everyone is green or claims to be! But what does it really mean to be green? How can we be sure?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

How is what I am doing impacting the Environment?

Am I contributing to the suffering of animals?

Understanding why you want to be green is important because it gives you reasons so one may develop and understanding of its importance. All the passion one feels for protecting the environment should be channeled in an intelligent way. Yes?! Research and journal your personal reasons to fully understand the reasons to go green they do differ from person to person.

Check out these tips to learn about the latest trends on how the celebrities are going green. These cultures are doing really amazing things to be one with nature.

Here are just a few ways to have a green wedding:

  1. Compost floral and food left overs
  2. Second hand
  3. Rent Furniture and recycle textiles and decor
  4. Recycle bins available throughout event
  5. Carpool
  6. Second hand/ Vintage dresses

Find a Qualified DJ

A great DJ for your event is hard to find but luckily there are a couple of good was to find one. I recently interviewed a local DJ about what to look for and this is what he had to say. Here are the 10 important questions that people should ask a DJ before hiring them and here are his answers:

Q. What should clients look for when hiring a DJ?

A. There are the obvious things such as references and years of experience and knowledgeability, but the single most important thing is to look for a personality match. The DJ is one of the most visible vendors at your event and will represent you before your family, friends and coworkers, so it’s vital that you ‘click’ with your DJ. They should demonstrate a deep commitment to understanding exactly what you want for your event and should exemplify the type of personality you’d best like in your event’s host.

Q. What type of music do you play?

A. Since most of our events include groups of wide and varying groups, we provide music from all genres and eras, including big band, oldies, classic and current rock, disco, 80s, 90s and contemporary hits, country (including Texas country), Tejano and Latin, as well as some local and independent selections.


Q. How do you handle requests from guests at the event?

A. Taking requests is a great way of learning your audience and we often encourage it. We do however make sure to gently decline to play anything offensive or that our clients have put on their ‘don’t play’ list or that wouldn’t serve the function well.


Q. Can you talk a little about how you emcee events. How does it work for weddings vs. non weddings?

A. How we emcee is first determined by our clients’ tastes and preferences. Some prefer minimal hosting while others like the emcee to take the spotlight a lot. Most commonly, for both weddings and non-weddings, clients opt for something in-between those two extremes. As a company, we specialize in very natural hosting; that is, for events that want someone to host and guide and engage the guests but without the more extreme ‘comedian’ or clownlike aspects. A lot of people are concerned about making sure their emcee isn’t obnoxious or loud and we’re very good at keeping our performances stylish.

The main difference between weddings and non-weddings is usually in the number of announcements. Weddings typically have the most announcements as they have more traditions to include. Non-weddings, like company parties or anniversaries or reunions, generally require fewer announcements. But again, it all depends on what the goals for each event are.


Q. What do you wear when you DJ?

A. Traditionally we wear a tuxedo. Other events may call for a suit-and-tie or ‘cocktail formal’.


Q. How many breaks do you take and is music played during those breaks?

A. Typically, for 4 or 5 hour performances, we don’t take any breaks unless we’re working with a band, in which case obviously we play durin g each other’s breaks.


Q. How much time do you need to set up your equipment?

A. It takes only about 30-40 minutes for a standard set-up, though we arrive 2-3 hours prior to each event to be sure there’s plenty of time for sound check or any unforeseen circumstances.


Q. How long have you been a DJ?

A. Personally, I’ve been DJing for 25 years, professionally for 16. The other Penguin DJs have from 1 year to 13 years of experience.


Q. How much do you charge for events?

A. A standard 4 hour event for up to 250 guests runs between $995-$1495, depending on the emcee you select.

Casino Birthday Party

If you have somebody turning 21 you could consider a Casino party. This gives you the safety and security you might want from a 21st birthday party, where a simple bar or club might not fit. I’ve been planning a surprise party for my sister-in-law since last month, but now her mother is asking me if we could take the theme in another direction.

She recently learned how to play Texas Hold ’em, and she loves it. They wanted to go to Vegas, but seeing as she isn’t even 21 yet she can’t really afford it right now, so we want to bring Vegas to her. Which is something her mother isn’t quite hot on. I say “her” mother instead of my mother-in-law, because she married in and she is my husbands step-mother and my sister-in-laws biological mother, which makes for a little bit of family drama. But back to Vegas. Unfortunately, we’re on a little bit of a budget too. We’re expecting probably 25 people to our house, and we want to do food, decorations, everything for about $250 ($300 max). And this seems like a creative idea for this kind of coming of age party. We already have 2 sets of poker chips, which cuts down on the extra expense.

Bridal Shower Update

Saturday was Mandy’s bridal shower. It was a lovely event being hosted by her dearest friends, who took great care in the plans that they made for the celebration. One of them things that they did a great job at was picking the colors for the bridal shower. I had a lot of fun choosing the arrangements for the bridal shower..

When I have a friend who gets married, I try to come up with something they will need or want, along with making a few objects for bride’s past. Usually the end result is a something very personal and sentimental.

Interviewing Julie, I knew that her theme was boho, her colors were orange, green and blue, and that they were thinking about getting these beautiful colors together. This probably excited me the most because I know SOMEDAY when we get married, this is the way we want to try, so it was perfect for me because now this sort of acts as a dry run for me and I can see if the shower I picked for them works for me as well.

A Rock-a-Billy

Recently, one of our clients wanted us to throw the ultimate rock-a-billy party to celebrate her sister’s engagement. Her sister and fiancée were fun, grad students in their early 20s and she knew she wanted something really unique for her younger sister. Something “very Austin”.

And I said, “yup, we can do that!”

It was a backyard BBQ for about 50 guests, all in the same age range and all grad students. So, our design team knew we wanted to create something not too stuffy, but chic and funky. Knowing their love for all things rockabilly, roller derby and beyond, we decked out the entire backyard with red/white bandana fabric and created one long banquet table for everyone to sit at. We topped the table with beautiful arrangements of white daisies, yellow tulips, green pom poms and circle-sliced limes showing in the vase below.

The lighting was a bit tricky in the backyard, so we created these fantastic hanging luminaries out of (empty) cans and cans of corn by drilling a pattern of holes in them to make a design and using votive candles inside. We also placed giant sunflower blooms in some to add color above the banquet table. Hung in matching red ribbon from the trees, they were a nice touch to their rock-a-billy/country theme.

Catering brought in from Rudy’s BBQ, we did pork ribs, brisket, chicken and paired them with our homemade sides: Green Bean Almondine, Garlic Butter Roasted Corn on the Cob, and good ol fashioned Potato Salad and Coleslaw. Can’t forget the fixins! Sliced pickles, onions, jalapenos and white bread to sop up all the BBQ sauce…naturally. We are in Texas, after all. (Also, on the table settings, we placed out individual packets of “wet wipes”…ya know, just in case.

For the bar, they wanted the basics: beer, wine and a spicy shiraz to match the BBQ, whiskey and mixed drinks.

After dinner while the guests mingled and played “washers”, They planned a surprise. When everyone least expected it, in thru the door arrives: Mariachis en Fuego! Dressed in traditional mariachi clothing, trumpets, guitars and all, they barged in and everyone’s mouths dropped to the floor! They ate it up. Dancing and smiling from ear to ear, the newly engaged couple kept thanking us over and over for such a wonderful and memorable evening.

We were glad to be a part of it.