Big Little Lies: “Day of” Wedding Planners

I want to let you in on a secret that may surprise you - and will probably go against everything you’ve heard and read - but I think it’s important to be real with y’all (clients, friends and strangers alike).  Here it goes:

“Day of” planning is not a thing.

[Cue gasps of shock] Okay, now that I said it, hear me out… :)

This can be such a tricky conversation but, after having two opportunities in the last week to explain the differences of what I do and what some people refer to as day of planning, I decided to write this blog post to educate brides, mothers of brides, grooms, wedding attendees, and anyone else who stumbles upon this.  

Let’s face it - weddings are a big investment.  You could be the most organized person in the whole world, but if you have never planned a wedding before, you need a qualified and dedicated planner to protect the investment you’re making, to put in the legwork to ensure it is everything you dreamt of, to orchestrate smooth and seamless transitions throughout, and to be your support so that you can relax and live in the moment (stress free!) on your wedding day.  So very simply, no professional planner worth your time or money is going to just show up on the day of the wedding to “run the show” and “make sure the cake shows up”. Here’s the good news: “month of” coordination exists!

I bet you’re thinking “Sure, Kelley, so what do you do as a “month of” coordinator that’s so different?”  My answer to that is: A LOT! (though, admittedly, it’s often hard to put into words)

Here’s a snapshot of the benefits my clients receive that wouldn’t be possible if I just showed up the day of the wedding:

I get to know you and your wishes

This is one of the biggest differences between a professional planner and someone who is just organized and likes weddings.  I take the time to really learn the “why” behind your choices for the wedding, your family dynamics, your personalities, and what you envision the perfect wedding day to be.  Armed with this deep understanding, I am able to confidently make decisions you would feel comfortable with when changes need to be made day-of on the fly (which happens more than people think).

True story: Last June, I had a bride who wanted nothing more than to get married outdoors.  This had always been her dream, she worked hard to find a gorgeous outdoor ceremony site, and during the walk-through we perfectly arranged the guest seating and the huppah under the most beautiful, full tree.  It was going to be amazing - but then, on the day of the wedding, there were wind gusts of over 35mph! The huppah would not stay standing, the fabric kept blowing all over the place, and it was basically a mess.  The venue coordinator and florist, not truly knowing the bride, strongly pushed to move the ceremony inside, but I put my foot down because I had that relationship with the bride and understood the significance to her.  I was confident that she would be fine if we took some fabric off the huppah and had staff stand by in case it started to move... as long as they were outside. A few weeks later when I told her the story during our recap meeting and she was so grateful I made that decision.  The pictures and the day were amazing, the huppah didn’t blow away, and the bride got her wish!

If you aren’t sold yet: I also had a groom last year who I learned through the planning process was very stressed by the concept of time (he always wanted to be on time), so the idea of a timeline added a lot of pressure for him.  Because I learned this early on, I was able to build in about 15 minutes of padding between all big events on the day of so that he would never feel rushed or late. If I hadn’t spent that upfront time with him I wouldn’t have known that, and he would have been stressed the entire day.  He told me at the end of the wedding that he actually loved having a timeline - I call that a win!

I am a trusted confidant

I am available to my clients for random questions and musings (or freak outs) as soon as the contract is signed.  For my month of clients, I don’t manage everything (vendors, contracts, etc.) until about two months out, but I am still available to bounce ideas off of and serve as a check to make sure right decisions are being made.

I take over pesky vendor emails a month before the wedding

The month before your wedding is “go time”.  All vendors have a ping on their calendar that says to reach out to you for details of the day.  Most of the details they ask for are the same, just in different formats. You could spend hours filling out the different forms!  Two months before the wedding, I sit down with my couples and talk through all the questions I know they will be asked. Then, when the time comes, I take those questionnaires over for my clients.

Believe it or not: I exchange an average of 250 emails for each month of coordination client I have!

Note: I don’t mean the vendors are pesky, vendors are amazing, I just mean there are LOTS of emails ;)

I am an experience designer

What does that mean? I create a timeline catered to your preferences, ensuring a smooth day for your guests, and factoring in details a non-planner wouldn’t think of like vendor arrivals (AKA I stop the band from arriving at the same time as the caterer since they both need the loading dock).  I take pride in architecting a day for you to enjoy that isn’t completely overtaken by photography, or catering, or any other item that should only be a piece of the bigger puzzle that is your wonderfully exciting wedding day.

 Photo by  Metts Photo

Photo by Metts Photo

Moral of the story

Needing a day of planner is a “big little lie”.  Any legitimate planner will agree - month of services, though a bit more expensive upfront, will truly allow you to make the most of your investment across the board.  I know that was quite a bit to take in, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to learn more about month of coordination or what Haviland Events can do to contribute to your special day! Click here to inquire or here to learn a bit more about me.  

Classic Richmond Wedding at John Marshall Ballrooms

I first had the pleasure of meeting Sally in 2016 when I was back home in Richmond for Christmas. Her best friend, Taylor, grew up next door to me and asked if I would meet Sally to talk through the process of starting to plan a wedding - one of my absolute favorite things to do with friends!  By the end of our conversation, Sally’s infectiously cheery personality had me dying to work with her, so when she asked if she could hire me I was so excited!  And the icing on the cake… At the time, she and her fiancé, Kyle, lived just outside of Chicago. making it a match made in planner heaven.  

To create an event that reflected their relationship and incorporated their families (who are amazing, by the way), Sally and Kyle included a few really unique touches.  Sally added a pin that belonged to her grandmother which said “I love a VT engineer” because Sally’s late grandfather was a Virginia Tech engineer and so is Kyle!  They also brought Kyle’s love of mountains and outdoors into the gorgeous John Marshall Ballrooms by having The Lighting Professors create a starry night on the ceiling.  Talk about romantic.

My favorite pictures - by the wonderful Amanda Manupella - are a few that share the emotions of the day: the father/daughter and mother/son dances, and Kyle and Sally’s reaction to the toasts.  They are so genuine and Amanda captured the feeling in the room so incredibly well.  

Haviland events_Richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
Haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_richmond wedding
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
 Seeing their reception room for the first time!

Seeing their reception room for the first time!

haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms
haviland events_john marshall ballrooms

Vendor Love:

Venue: John Marshall Ballroom

Lighting: The Lighting Professors

Flowers: Field Day Creative

Photographer: Amanda Manupella Photography

Cake: The Mixing Bowl Bakery

Hair : Bomshell Salon

Makeup: Laurie Nicholson

DJ:Alex Roan

Dress: Sealed with a Kiss

Grooms/Men Tux: The Black Tux

Bridesmaids Dresses: Weddington Way

 

Like what you see and want to learn more about working with Haviland? I'd love to chat with you!  Click here to inquire or here to learn a bit more about me!

Christmas Tablescape Roundup

I got a little carried away with Christmas tablesettings this year so I decided instead of posting Christmas #tablesettingtuesdays until March, I'd do a post with ideas for you to take to decorate your table.  I did some fancy, some casual, some with just normal white kitchen plates and some with fancy fun stuff that I've collected.  My hope is that you can draw inspiration from them to create an amazing Christmas table to host your family and friends this year.

I think a lot of times being "pinterest-y" and going all out on a tablescape, decoration, dessert, meal- whatever it is, gets a bad reputation.  For me, it isn't about impressing people or having people think I'm the most amazing at decorating a table but its about creating a space for memories to be made.  It's about creating a thoughtful table that brings joy and starts conversations.  My word for 2018 is "bless" and I've talked a bit about it before (and may dive into it more later) but my goal is to bless people through hospitality and make them feel comfortable and thought-of when they sit down at my table.  One of my favorite quotes by Jen Wilkin that I keep in mind when inviting people into my home is : 

"Entertaining Seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless"

So I encourage you to be thoughtful about your table this year.  Have fun with it, use it as a way to bless your friends and family.  Below are some fun ideas  in different levels of formality.  Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or want to know what to pair with your grandmother's china to make it look festive.  Merry Christmas!  


1) Formal Gold and Green

I'm completely obsessed with this one from a collaboration between Kate Shungu and Liz at EJD Design.  I love the layers of textures and colors, the personalization of the placemat (by EJD Design) and the Bible verse reminding guests what we're celebrating. 

To create the centerpiece I cut sprigs of evergreen (from Fred, our Christmas tree), bunched them together and wrapped them with tape to keep them together. If you're having more than 6 people to dinner, I'd suggest making a couple arrangements to put down the table.  Add votives if you're eating at night (no candles during the day). Then use your Christmas china (because everyone has Christmas china, right? ;)), fancy glassware and your best silverware.  Add pops of color with the napkin and linen.  The small wreath is from Hobby Lobby- they came in a pack of 6 for $5! Any small ornament would work really well though, just make sure the colors go together.  If you have the Spode Christmas plates, take it in a vintage direction and add ornaments to the plates that look like the ornaments on the Christmas tree. 

christmas tablesetting

2) Classic Magnolia 

I love greenery runners for dinner parties; they're easy to create, cheap and don't make it difficult for people to see each other across the table.  For this tablescape cut enough magnolia to layer down the length of your table (make sure to give it a really good shake before bringing it in the house) and then add various red and orange fruits and vegetables. For the rest of the table just pull out your favorite dishes, silverware and glassware, add some chargers if you have them and you're finished!  If you want to be an over achiever, write name cards on extra magnolia leaves.  

Magnolia christmas tablesetting

 

3) Colonial Williamsburg 

I love anything colonial, especially when it's Christmas themed.  Williamsburg during the holidays is magic and I wish we still lived close so we could make a day trip to see the decorations. 

After my Thanksgiving tablesetting, I dried the blood oranges to use for Christmas decorations and I couldn't think of a better way to use them than in a Williamsburg inspired table. To dry oranges, thinly slice them, pat dry and line them up on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 6 hours in 200 degree oven.  Flip halfway through.  Mine needed to sit for an additional two days to completely dry out so give yourself plenty of time to make them.  When you're ready to set the table, lay evergreen branches down the table, I find it easier to clip smaller sections and layer them rather trying to make large sections fit the table.  I wanted the table to have lots of layers so I used magnolia placemats as well as simple silver chargers and then put the napkin on top of the plate.  I used silver napkin rings under the orange slice to keep the napkin together but you could loosely tie with a ribbon instead.  

colonial christmas tablesetting

4) Casual Green and Black Plaid

All you need for this one are fun, festive placemats (I used these) and a greenery centerpiece.  Use white plates if you have them, but really anything that matches your placemats will be perfect.  Finish with your favorite glassware, napkins and silverware.  You don't even really need a table linen since you have a placemat so you could do this on top of a wooden table to create a more rustic look.  This would be especially cute for a brunch with Christmas-y hot coco mugs in place of the glass.  

Black and Green Plaid Christmas Tablescape

 

5) Fun and Festive

For this one, I used a funky garland I bought at Hobby Lobby, a Christmas dish towel and a jingle bell placemat.  I tied the silverware with a sparkly ribbon to add something fun to the plate, and then added a bright cocktail napkin under the glass.  Again, you can use anything you already have at home, just make sure the colors go together (I based mine off of the colors in my cocktail napkin) but just run with it and use anything that is bright and festive.   

fun and festive Christmas tablesetting

6) Blue and Silver

I had to use the blue and white china (because, duh) so I paired it with my cement chargers I think it makes for a very calm (and kind of modern?) setting.  I used the layered greenery again with tucked silver ornaments into it, simple silverware and glassware.  You could use this base with any plate you'd like though.  Set the table with a white linen, lay out the greenery runner, add silver ornaments, plain glassware, silver chargers and whatever your favorite plate is!

blue and silver christmas tablesetting

Happy tablesetting!  

Floral-Focused Country Club Wedding

Samantha and Mike’s Royal Melbourne wedding was one of the most authentic and heartfelt weddings I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of.  Samantha has great style and is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, so it was no surprise to me that she made all her own signage, hand stamped each place card, and thought of special details to bring to the hotel for photos while getting ready.  

The floral arrangements that Samantha and Mike chose created beautiful backdrops for their day by adding asymmetrical detail to the ceremony chuppah, a lush runner to the head table, and height to the guest tables.  Gold chargers, chairs, and a touch of candlelighting, completed the romantic feel.

For the ceremony, Jewish and Catholic wedding traditions were woven together perfectly by a rabbi and priest duo.  It was so unique and one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.   Most impressively, the chuppah stayed in place during 35 mph gusts of wind (!) while they signed the Ketubah, exchanged vows, heard readings from the bible, and broke the glass - making for the coolest picture, I must add.  Even the couple’s dog, Parker, was a part of the ceremony acting as the ring bearer.

From the first look with Samantha’s dad, to the sweet moments before they walked down the aisle, to the [happy] tear-filled toast, their father/daughter bond was undeniable.  (I’m literally tearing up as I’m writing this.)  

After fabulous toasts, father/daughter and mother/son dances, a delicious plated dinner and the cake cutting, guests were invited onto the dance floor with the hora and the party really began!

Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events
Classic Chicago Wedding_Haviland Events

Like what you see and want to learn more about working with Haviland? I'd love to chat with you!  Click here to inquire or here to learn a bit more about me!