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WHEN should you reach out for help::the 5 W’s of wedding planning

It’s never too early to ask for help. In Southwest Michigan, many of the most popular venues book their Saturday dates a year in advance, so it’s very common for couples to start planning 9-18 months out! So if you’ve just gotten engaged and are already feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a professional wedding planner. They can help you map out a plan that will get you from “I will” to “I do,” while maintaining your sanity, keeping your budget in check and creating an amazing day!

It’s also never too late to ask for help! We have helped brides as early as 18 months before their weddings, and as late as 3 weeks prior to their wedding! If your wedding date is just around the corner and the last minute details have you feeling unprepared, you don’t have to be alone. From last minute seating arrangements to day-of delivery schedules, a professional planner can step in and help you pull it all together.

More Posts in This Blog Series:

  • WHAT Does a Professional Wedding Planner Do?
  • WHO needs a wedding planner?
  • WHEN should I Reach out For Help?
  • WHY you should hire a professional
  • WHERE you will and won’t find help

WHO needs a wedding planner::the 5 W’s of wedding planning

I wish I could say that “if you are engaged, you absolutely, positively, MUST hire a wedding planner”…BUT, it just wouldn’t be true.  I also wish I could say that the list below is a definitive guide to determining if you need a wedding planner…but I can’t. What I can do, is let you know that there are many reasons for hiring a wedding planner, and it’s a personal choice for each and every bride.  Here are just a few reasons why you may find yourself in need of a professional wedding planner:


  • You’re planning your wedding from out of state or out of town…
  • You have a demanding job or hectic schedule….
  • You can’t find the perfect venue…
  • You want to make the most of your budget…
  • You are so stressed you cannot enjoy the process of planning your wedding…
  • You don’t know how to get started…
  • You’re planning your wedding in a short time-frame…
  • You’re struggling to define the look and feel of your wedding style…
  • You need a “go-to” person for your wedding day…
  • You are concerned that the planning process will cause family stress…
  • Your wedding is being held at a non-traditional venue or on the beach…
  • You want to plan an incredible event while staying stress free and enjoying your engagement!

If you feel like you could use some help, you don’t have time to plan the wedding you’re dreaming of, or that the planning process is overwhelming you, set up a consultation with a professional wedding planner.  A professional planner will be more than happy to talk through your issues and concerns to determine if planning is right for you, and what level of assistance would be the best fit to ensure your day is fabulous, and you remain a stress-free, beautiful bride on your wedding day!

More Posts in This Blog Series:

  • WHAT Does a Professional Wedding Planner Do?
  • WHO needs a wedding planner?
  • WHEN should I Reach out For Help?
  • WHY you should hire a professional
  • WHERE you will and won’t find help

WHAT does a wedding planner do::the 5 W’s of professional wedding planning

If you’re already planning your Michigan wedding, you already know that there are a lot of fun decisions to be made: the perfect flowers, those beautiful linens, an amazingly delicious cake, just the right song for that special first dance. And you probably also know that there are a lot of “experts” out there that are happy to help you with all of that “fun stuff.” Your cousin who got married last summer and knows the ONLY florist you should go to–which was hers, of course…your sister, who is happy to email you picture after picture of all of her favorite ideas…your future mother in law who is happy to take you to her favorite caterers.  Brides rarely find themselves with no one to offer assistance, but rather, it’s just not the assistance really needed, and it’s overwhelming.

If what you’re looking for is ideas for your wedding, then your friends and family can be a great resource (so are bridal magazines!). But if you’re looking for more, then a professional wedding planner can offer you the kind of assistance that will make planning your wedding enjoyable and manageable!  Your cousin probably had a great florist, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that florist fits your style or budget or can cater to what you are looking for.  There’s a reason there are a ton of wedding vendors out there, and it’s because every vendor is not a perfect fit for every bride—each one brings their own style, strength, personality and pricing.  A professional wedding planner has connections and working relationships with vendors of all styles and budgets, and can help connect you with the vendors that will get you the most for your money. So while your family members may point you to the florist who is well-known in your area and will do a fantastic job (for a pretty penny), your wedding planner can direct you to a florist who can create what you need within your budget, saving you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. A professional wedding planner can also take your style into consideration, and isn’t just pointing you in the direction of their favorite things.

When the “fun stuff” is done, your professional wedding planner will be there to figure out the flow of your reception setup, handle the logistics of shuttling your guests from one location to another; put together time lines so your family, bridal party and vendors know where they’re going and when; negotiate with vendors to ensure your orders are correct; troubleshoot any issues that arise; and will, at all times, make decisions that are best for you, and go along with your overall vision for the day.  And those are just a few of the things a wedding planner can handle for you!

Planning vs. Coordination

Day of Coordination
This is for the bride that wants to plan the wedding herself, but would like the assistance of a professional to ensure that everything is executed properly on the day-of, to oversee the vendors, assist with the ceremony and reception flow, trouble shoot any issues that arise and generally, be the go-to person making sure that your wedding day is wonderful and stress-free for the bride & groom and their families!

Full-Service Planning
This is for the bride who wants to sit back and enjoy her engagement, while a professional wedding planner walks her through every step of the planning process.  From finding a venue and matching you with vendors that match your budget and style, to helping create every detail that will make your day shine, a full-service wedding planner is your partner in creating an amazing wedding!

More Posts in This Blog Series:

  • WHAT Does a Professional Wedding Planner Do?
  • WHO needs a wedding planner?
  • WHEN should I Reach out For Help?
  • WHY you should hire a professional
  • WHERE you will and won’t find help

the 5 W’s of professional wedding planning

If you’re currently planning your Michigan wedding, you may be wondering if and why you would need a wedding planner and what the difference is between all of the different levels of planning and types of coordination out there! Hopefully I can clear this all up for you with our new blog series, “The 5 W’s of  Professional Wedding Planning.”

First, let’s clear up a few myths on WHO hires a wedding planner—Hiring a wedding planner does not mean you are disorganized, it doesn’t mean that you are uncreative, or that you don’t know what you want. It also doesn’t mean that you need to have an outrageous wedding budget, or that you will lose control of your wedding. Most of our brides are extremely organized and have a very clear vision of what they want for their wedding day. It always surprises me how many people ask me , “are your clients like those crazy brides on tv?” It makes me laugh, because season after season the brides we work with continue to be some of the most fun and kind ladies out there!

Stay tuned as we cover WHO hires a wedding planner, WHAT a wedding planner or coordinator can and can’t help you with, WHERE you will and won’t find help planning your wedding, WHEN to reach out for help, and WHY a professional wedding planner will make your wedding a day you can enjoy!

Posts in This Blog Series:

  • WHAT Does a Professional Wedding Planner Do?
  • WHO hires a wedding planner?
  • WHEN should I Reach out For Help?
  • WHY you should hire a professional
  • WHERE you will and won’t find help

    choosing your first dance song

    There aren’t any big things I would change about my wedding, but there are a few small ones…

    When it came to picking my own wedding music 2+ years ago, it took me a fraction of a second to identify my ceremony music, and months and months to find that ‘perfect’ first dance song. My husband and I were living in different areas, so one night we sat on the phone, on our respective computers, and sent each other a list of songs. For each song, we would go online (to, to be exact) and would listen to the others choices. They were songs we googled, songs from “best first dance” lists, songs friends suggested…

    In the end, we chose “You and Me” by Kenny Chesney, and the thing I regret about that, is the fact that I had to sit and think about that just now as I typed it. It wasn’t one of our personal favorites, or something that narrated a moment in our relationship.  I’m one of those people who listens to every word of a song, so I focused on the story of the song, the lyrics, which is perfect to narrate a first dance. I would be perfect as one of those radio hosts who hears a listeners story and then perfectly correlates it to a heartfelt song. However, if I could go back and re-do it, I’d choose a song that held some sort of personal connection to us, regardless of the lyrics, or even the genre. If I could do it again I would choose a Bon Jovi song, for the multiple concerts we went to when we were dating or the love song that came out when we first started dating (It was ‘True’ by Ryan Cabrera, if anyone even remembers him anymore!) or a song from the Jack Johnson cd we listened to together while working on our respective class projects.  I remember our first dance like yesterday…but the song, not so much!

    getting started::choosing a venue

    West Michigan has an amazing array of venues to offer for your wedding. From rustic barns to romantic vineyards, elegant historic buildings to private lake shore homes, there’s a lot to choose from.

    If you’re planning a destination wedding in Michigan, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to get your search started on the right foot:

    • Do some research::Whether you contact a wedding planner for assistance, or do some online investigating, get a feel for what’s out there, and what fits within the style (and budget) for your wedding
    • Speaking of budget::Determine your overall budget, and your budget for a venue BEFORE you start shopping around and signing on the dotted line. Committing to a venue that is out of your budget could throw a real wrench in the rest of your plans if you don’t have much room to budge with extra money, and if you ask me, it’s often just painful to look at venues that are completely out of your budget. It’s like falling in love with that house or car you just can’t afford….not my idea of fun!
    • Consider the Area::So you found the perfect venue, fantastic! Before you commit, consider the area:are there hotels nearby for your out-of-town guests? Is there ample parking? Will you need to provide transportation? Will there be huge costs incurred from providing your own rental items such as tables, chairs, linens, a tent, china, etc.? If it’s an outdoor location, is there any “back up” location in case of inclement weather?
    • Read the Fine Print::Check out the venues policies and make sure things that are priorities to you are feasible. If you’ve already lined up a caterer, do they allow outside catering? Is there ample space for a band, if you have your heart set on one?

    While it can be very exciting to find that perfect  venue and instinctively “sign the dotted line” to secure it on the spot, make sure you take atleast a moment to consider a few key factors, so that you can secure that venue knowing it will be just what you need to make your wedding wonderful!

    getting started::picking your wedding date

    I know there are a lot of 2010 brides out there that are just getting started on planning, so this week we will do a whole series on kick-starting your wedding planning! First up, picking your wedding date!

    Picking a date can be very exciting. Often, couple’s find the perfect venue and immediately pick a date without too much consideration, which can lead to trouble down the road. Before you pick your date, consider the people and places around you—do any of the “key players”—you know, the important people like your parents, bridal party, and siblings—have prior engagements? You don’t have to completely rule out a date because one potential bridesmaid won’t be able to stand up, but if she’s really important to you (or 3 or 4 of your bridesmaids will be MIA) then you may want to consider another date. Will you have relatives unable to come because you’ve chosen a date that correlates with high school or college graduation, or because their kids are finishing up school?

    Secondly, consider the places around you. Do you live near a major university, sport facility, or festival location? Here in St. Joseph we are roughly 40 minutes from Notre Dame—however, many couples are surprised to find that on home game Saturdays during football season, a hotel room in the greater St. Joseph area is extra expensive, if not elusive all together. The same goes for the annual Venetian Festival in July, which brings in more than 100,000 tourists to the town and hotels. So if the venue you love is booked for the entire year, and has ONE hot date available….take a closer look, and make sure that you’re not missing an important event or activity that will throw a wrench in your plans. I’m definitely not saying to rule out those dates all together, just make sure you have all of the information before locking in that date with a hefty venue deposit!

    Holiday Weekends
    Since we work with so many couples planning destination weddings, I’m often asked about holiday weekends. Many couples consider a holiday weekend to give their guests a 3 day weekend to travel in for their wedding from out of town. While holiday weekends can sound great in theory, there are a few things to take into consideration:

    • Hotels will be more expensive. Along the lake shore, where hotels can already be pricey in the summer, room costs skyrocket on holiday weekends leaving your guests with a $190 hotel room (with a group discount). And hotels are not likely to let you block as many rooms at discouted rates, as well.
    • Guest count is likely to be lower on holiday weekends. Many people have yearly traditions planned well in advance, travel to visit family or will want to utilize their 3 day weekend.

    the perfect venue for your 2010 wedding in southwest michigan


    I love that Southwest Michigan has some amazing wedding venues. From barns to vineyards to elegant historical buildings, the lake shore area has a lot to offer to brides looking to plan an amazing Michigan wedding. However, just a word to the wise that these venues fill up fast. If you’re a 2010 bride, now is the time to secure that dream venue! So get out there, make some visits, and find that special place that will make your wedding day everything you’ve hoped for!

    If you need some help finding your perfect Michigan wedding venue, feel free to contact us, we love to help brides and grooms find wedding location in St. Joseph, New Buffalo, Saugatuck, South Haven, Holland, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Muskegon, Leeland, and beyond!

    **Blue Dress Barn Photo By Monika Caban Photo, Heritage Center by Stella Event Design, Veranda @ The Whitcomb by Zdanis Photography, MillCreek by Stella Event Design

    signature drinks for your michigan wedding::part 2

    To follow up to yesterday’s post, I wanted to share some cocktail recipes you could use for your wedding! These are just a few I like, but feel free to use any drink you love!

    drinks2(Left to Right::Grapefruit Gimlet, Key Lime Margarita and Royal Blush)

    Grapefruit Gimlet::A refreshing drink for a beach-inspired wedding

    • 1/4 cup Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka
    • 1/4 cup vodka
    • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons Simple Syrup (see below)
    • Ice cubes
    • 2 lime slices

    Place first 4 ingredients in cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake quickly and vigorously for 8 seconds. Strain into 2 Martini glasses. Garnish with lime slices.

    Key Lime Margaritas::For the fun & spunky couple

    • 1 Key lime (optional), quartered
    • Kosher salt (optional) for rims of glasses
    • 3/4 cup Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
    • 1/2 cup reposado tequila
    • 1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice
    • 2 teaspoons superfine granulated sugar (optional)

    Run a lime wedge (if using) around rim of each of 4 (6-to 8-ounces) glasses. Put salt (if using) on a small plate and dip glasses in salt to lightly coat rims.

    Blend liqueur, tequila, juice, and sugar (if using) in a blender until combined. Serve over ice (in coated glasses).

    Royal Blush::For a chic & swanky lake shore wedding

    • 1 teaspoon cherry purée (note: recipe below makes 3/4 cup)
    • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) vodka
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) fresh lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) simple syrup
    • 5 fresh mint leaves
    • 1 cup ice cubes
    • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) dry sparkling wine, such as brut Champagne, chilled

    To Make Cherry Purée:
    In a bowl, purée frozen cherries or all-fruit spread with water. In general: 1 cup of frozen cherries (6 ounces) puréed with 2 tablespoons of water makes approximately 3/4 cup purée. To make purée using all-fruit spread, combine 3/4 cup spread with 3/4 cup water. Any extra can be used to make smoothies or sauce for ice cream.

    To Make Cocktail:
    Transfer purée to chilled martini glass. In chilled cocktail shaker, combine vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup. Tear mint leaves in half and add to shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Slowly strain into martini glass without disturbing purée, then top with sparkling wine and serve.

    **All drink recipes from Check them out for tons of great drink ideas!

    signature drinks for your michigan wedding


    Offering signature cocktails at your wedding is a great way to infuse your personality into your wedding reception! There are a few approaches you can take to this when selecting your drinks.

    His & Hers::Choose a bride’s drink and groom’s drink to offer guests! Choose your favorites, present them beautifully (a cute garnish never hurts) and re-name them, if you’d like, to be more wedding-esque!

    Wedding Colors::Offer drinks that coordinate with your wedding colors. For a green and yellow wedding, offer up a lynchburg lemonade and mojitos, garnished with mint! For pink and brown, serve guests Chocolate maritinis and a champagne spritzer. Display them in a cute and fun way, and you’re all set for a fun cocktail hour!

    Non-Alcoholic::If you’re not serving alcohol, you can still have fun with your beverages! In the summer an iced tea & lemonade bar or punch bar are lots of fun for guests, and in the fall you could offer cider, complete with mixes people can stir in to make their own spicey blend! Garnish with lemons, limes & apple slices, and you’ve got a good-looking and tastey drink selection!

    Check out Part 2 for some of our favorite signature drinks!