Forever Bridal Southern Bridal Show & Expo ’12

I attended the Forever Bridal Fall Southern Bridal show this past weekend and boy was it intense! It was my first real experience with a bridal show and will probably also be my last. The experience itself was so overwhelming I’m not even sure where to begin telling you about it. I suppose I will start with getting tickets for the show.

Purchasing my tickets was relatively easy and they even offered a $2 discount for buying in advance online. I navigated my way to the Forever Bridal website and started registering myself for the show. While registering ahead made the process a little bit easier, I was surprised by how lengthy the questionnaire was and it became obvious that they want to know all this information about you and your fiance so they can solicit the heck out of you. This became even more blatantly obvious to me the moment I arrived at the show. I was glad that I’d done enough prior research to truly recognize their intentions in this situation and I would hate to have been a completely inexperienced bride at this show.

I decided to drag my bestie, Ashley, along with me for some encouragement and support. Looking back on the experience I am insanely grateful to her for tagging along. She did a great job keeping me focused and helping me get by some of the more annoyingly aggressive vendors.

Delicious Cupcakes from Gigi’s

When we got to the show, I had to exchange my online receipt for actual tickets, wander down a few random hallways and eventually made it to the room where I got us checked in. If you were someone who registered in advance, they gave you a sticker with the month of your wedding to wear and set aside a nice purple fabric bag labeled Savvi Bride with a few goodies for you, so I collected mine quickly and rushed into the main building where all the vendors were. Inside my bag of goodies was a free Wedding Organizer/Binder, a coupon or two and a pen. The bag was most useful for collecting things from the vendors, but then I’m sure that is the main reason they get handed out. The sticker they gave me with the bag said October, not Bride. At first I was somewhat confused and even a bit annoyed by this, but it didn’t take me long to figure out why they did it.

While wandering around from table to table, I realized how particularly aggressive certain vendors were as soon as they noticed my sticker said October; some even commented on how soon it seemed to be coming up. All of a sudden it hit me, the sticker indicated I was getting married THIS upcoming October. NOTE to Brides: Vendors equate a near date with a desperate bride. Apparently most of the vendors assumed that I was either marrying within the year or the following year. I suppose it’s my fault for assuming that I could attend a show without them thinking I’d be getting married shortly after. Even considering the confusion, I was still shocked at how negatively some of them acted when I explained that I was really just looking for ideas and getting to know the professionals available for the time being. It really frustrated me and honestly made me leave much sooner than I otherwise would have.

All in all, it wasn’t absolutely terrible. I got to taste a few samples from some pretty excellent bakeries and chatted with a few good musicians and caterers. We even caught the tail end of some contest for a Mother-Daughter dance off, which was quite amusing.

After having attended this show, I can see why most of the wedding planning guides firmly encourage skipping these expos. Personally I’d just let your wedding planner pre-screen your vendors for you and take the hassle out of it. But then again, I am biased.

Wedding consultant, coordinator, planner, what?!

There are many different names for professionals who plan weddings and many different responsibilities and obligations they take on. Whether the person you hire to plan your wedding refers to themselves as a planner, a coordinator, or a consultant one thing is for certain: They are helping you put together one of the most important days of your life. So what does this mean for you? It means you need to do a little planning to plan.

Before you start interviewing for the best candidate, make sure you know what you want them to do for you. Most wedding consultants will provide a few options of services to select from. You can hire a wedding planner who comes in and does everything for you; booking venues, coordinating with vendors throughout the year, and managing wedding day events. Or you can simply hire a “Day Of” Coordinator, who would come in later and do more last-minute details such as manage the rehearsal and coordinate with the bridal party and vendors on the day of the wedding. Either way, it will be much easier for you to find the help you need if you know what you are looking for. You should also make sure to have a really good idea of what kind of wedding you want to have. The more thoroughly you explain what you are looking for, the easier it will be for your planner to execute your vision.

But how do you know what you want? With many choices to choose from, how do you decide which is the best option for you? You should first consider what you are working with. Do you have an excellent Maid of Honor? Someone who is naturally organized and responsible? Or a relatively large and helpful family and a bunch of great bridesmaids? You may decide you don’t even want or need professional assistance.

Are you someone who is really excited about the concept of putting together your wedding because, hey this is the day you have been dreaming of since you were a little girl right?! But, at the same time someone who just can’t seem to keep organized and are completely daunted by the idea of calling multiple different contacts for multiple different things? If this sounds like you, consider hiring a wedding planner; someone who you trust to do all the work for you. Remember what I said before about explaining to them exactly what you want though. Allowing someone complete trust to plan your entire wedding can be pretty nerve-wracking, but if you know you have given them all the details they could possibly need and feel absolutely confident in that, then you should be able to relax and allow them to take care of your needs.

What if it’s not necessarily that you’re overwhelmed by planning the wedding, but that you have a crazy aunt, in-law, mother, or relative that you think you just might need the help of a professional to reign in? A good wedding coordinator can be both organized and charming enough to have everything in order AND keep frustrating relatives from driving you completely batty on your big day. If you think this might be what you need, you should consider hiring a “Day of” coordinator and make sure you let them know up front about those “specific” relatives.

Have you considered your budget? You should have by now. If you are at the point of interviewing for wedding planner, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your finances look like. If not, sit down and figure it out before you go any further. If you know how tight your budget is, staying within the constraints of it will be that much easier. This may be your most important detail and you might even consider hiring your planner based on their ability to help you stay within your budget. I have mentioned before that before you even start the process of planning your wedding you should make a list of your wants and needs for the wedding and rank them in order of importance. If your budget is your number one priority, you may want a wedding planner there for you helping you every step of the way, pointing out small costs which most people forget about but that end up adding up, and helping you find ways to save. And if you haven’t made that list of wedding day priorities a good wedding planner would be able to help you with that too.

Whatever you decide, make sure you are happy with your decision and remind yourself to relax. While it can be extremely hectic to put together a wedding, you should always try to remember that you are doing it because of love!

Farm 2 Your Table

I am going to use this post to plug for some friends of mine, but I promise you that you will be happy I did.

Chef Blake & Chef Megan run a small catering company in Raleigh called Farm 2 Your Table. They use all natural ingredients from local organic produce and I can honestly tell you it shows in how good their food is. I’ve tried a lot of their stuff and everything I’ve had has been absolutely delicious. They serve all kinds of goodies from breads, cookies and truffles, to fresh mozzarella, southern succotash and mini crab cakes. I won’t go into too much detail about what all their services are, because you should check out their site which I’ve linked to above or their Facebook page (which has more pics of their delicious goodies).

Don’t just take my word for how good their food is though. If you have Saturday mornings off from work and are looking for something to do you can find a Farm 2 Your Table booth down at the Saturday Market located near the Boylan St. bridge. Visit their Facebook page  for more details, directions, etc.

The Saturday Market is a great place for local baked goods, fresh produce, and I think there’s even a BBQ Truck down there.



Wedding gown crowding up your closet?

When the Wedding is over what should you do with your Wedding gown? Sell it? Preserve it? Donate it? How much did you originally spend on your gown? Was it a hand-me-down? Did you buy one that was already previously worn?

Depending on what your dress is worth will help you decide what to do with it after. One different idea that a lot of brides tend to over look, but could be really exciting would be a Trash the Dress photo shoot. If you haven’t heard of these, they are fun and spontaneous photo shoots where Brides often times literally trash their dresses. Some brides may not want to completely destroy their dress and elect to do something a little more simple and silly whereas other brides may go traipsing through mud puddles and jump into rivers. Either way, it’s something fun and different a bride can do while photographing the memory at the same time.

If you want to sell your dress after the wedding, there are many different ways to do so. With the wonderful world of technology easily at our fingertips, we have so many websites to choose from and here are just a few:

  • Craigslist – This is a quick easy way to put your dress online and get responses right away. You might not get the best price, but you can at least make deals with people and get it taken off your hands immediately.
  • Ebay- Using ebay can help you to get closer to the price you are looking for.
  • Sites that specialize in selling dresses-

Why not donate your dress after the wedding? Brides Against Breast Cancer is a great non-profit organization that sells donated wedding dresses and donates the profits to programs for cancer patients and their families.  This wonderful fund raising event will be coming to Raleigh, North Carolina September 21st – 23rd, and is also a great place to purchase your dress! I am definitely planning on checking it out!

Fall Intern – Fingers Crossed

It has been a little over 3 months since I got engaged; Both weddings I had previously been working on have come and gone, and now it’s August and there are two more weeks left before I start my Fall semester of school. I find myself constantly baffled with how quickly time appears to move. I am both excited and nervous about the beginning of classes, and even more excited and nervous about some other potential news I should receive at some point this month.

I was browsing the pages of Twitter the other day looking at new followers, and skimming the wedding industry sites, when I noticed a local company of wedding planners had tweeted that they were on the hunt for a fall intern. The idea of it seemed so exciting and excellent to me that I immediately visited their webpage, and emailed them to inquire about the position. Luckily, I did not have to wait long for a response with details. The position will be un-paid and run from September through November. It’d require some office work during the week and helping out with weddings on Saturdays.

I mulled it over in my brain for about a week before I made any real definite decisions. I am taking three classes this semester, rather than my usual two, in hopes of speeding up the process. Between those being three nights a week for 3 hours and working full-time, it almost didn’t seem feasible that I could juggle this internship as well. The decision I finally came to was to just apply. It can’t hurt to try, right? A few hours spent buffing up my resume and putting together an eloquently, hopefully, worded cover page and off they went.

I have yet to hear back from anyone, but I am guessing they will probably continue to take applications for most of August since the internship doesn’t start ’til next month. BUT, I am wishing and hoping( and thinking and praying) that I at least get the chance to interview. This position would help me immensely in getting some good experience to plan weddings and I would absolutely love to have three months of an intern position with great local wedding planners on my resume.

In the meantime, I will be preparing myself to attend the Fall Southern Bridal Show Expo coming up next weekend. Any future brides want to join?

You got engaged!! Now what?

First things first, CONGRATULATIONS! Getting engaged is one of the most thrilling events of your life, and words can hardly describe just how thrilling it is! But, now what? You’ve anticipated this moment for a long time, and it has finally come and gone. All the excitement from telling your friends and family calms at last, what do you do?

Before you begin planning the wedding, sit down with your with your significant other and just brainstorm. While planning a wedding can be fun and exciting for some, it can also be extremely nerve-wracking and overwhelming for others. Getting all your ideas on paper and out in the open is a good place to start, and should be a nice easy way to approach the process together. Have fun with it! The most important thing to remember is that you’re planning a day to celebrate your love.

Now ladies, there are going to be some men out there who won’t want anything to do with the planning. Try not to let this get to you, and remember that he loves you! Odds are he just doesn’t want to get in your way. But that doesn’t mean you should exclude him from all of it.  Don’t forget to ask for his opinion on anything you think will be important to him. You should definitely clear the date and location with one another to ensure that all family members have an opportunity to attend.

Once you finish writing out all your thoughts and ideas, try to arrange them into a list in order of importance. This can help immensely in the money-saving portion of the planning. If you decide early on that helping pay for bridesmaid dresses is more important than flowers, you can get a handle on what percentage of the budget you need for this and save the money for it in an appropriate amount of time.

After your first brainstorming session, you should decide how you want to stay organized. You can go out and buy yourself a nice wedding planning book like this one, or put together your own. Whatever you choose, just be sure to have one central, safe location for all your vendor business cards, magazines, color swatches and anything else you collect on your journey to your big day.