Happy Wednesday, loves!
I am pleased to interrupt my normal sharing of wedding recaps, education, and other industry musings to cheer on one of the most influential women who I have the pleasure of knowing on her BIG day today!
I have followed along Natalie’s journey far longer than she realizes, but our journeys collided a little over 3 years ago when we collaborated on a styled shoot together! Natalie opened her heart and world to me and offered me so much. Guidance, cheering, education, mentoring, time, passion, effort, love……she gave me so much. I honestly would not be here if it weren’t for her along with so many other encouraging and equipping boss ladies who have intersected my path.
Today is HER day – she is launching her brand new website and brand to the world and I cannot WAIT to see what the Lord has in store for her in the coming months and years as she continues to impact the world and turn it upside down in the most beautiful of ways. Here’s to you, Natalie! I love you so much!
If you have a moment, be sure to hop on over to Natalie’s NEW website, Instagram, and other social media platforms and throw lots of love and confetti her way. This woman is a force and a movement and I am SO honored to know her! If you don’t know her – you should! Send her some hugs today and say hello!
XO – Lacoya
Emily & Andrew tied the knot on Thanksgiving weekend and boy – was it a chilly one! However, it was still one of the most crisp, clear, beautiful days of the season! Both have strong Christian values, so they chose to hold their ceremony at their home, First Baptist Church of Alexandria. Emily valued creating a strong sense of community with her guests and making them feel welcome and well taken care of.
After the ceremony, guests headed over to Top of the Town for dinner, dancing and a night of fun! Highlights of the night include being serenaded by Voss Weddings, a combination entree of filet mignon & crab cakes, and a sundae bar! We wrapped all of these beautiful details in a soft palette of cream, purple, & pops of silver. It was such a joy to work with these two! Enjoy these beautiful captures courtesy of Nicki Metcalf Photography!
Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church of Alexandria // Reception Venue: Top of the Town
Coordination, Styling & Design: Hello Love Events // Photographer: Nicki Metcalf Photography //
Florals: Sweetwood Floral Designs // Catering & Bakery: Windows Catering // DJ & MC: Voss Weddings
Photobooth: Handlebar Photo Booth // Live Event Artist: Brittany Sims Art
Note: This guide comes with the assumption that you already have an established guest count maximum based on an average per person price that you’re willing to spend combined with your overall wedding budget maximum. This number is also based on the venue capacity and whether you both desire a large wedding (although I’d never recommend filling a venue to capacity – it’s always nice to leave some breathing room!) or something more intimate. Whatever the case, determine that number prior to utilizing the tips below!
Start with a good template.
Use whatever you’re comfortable using here, but keep in mind that this list will need to be utilized for several different reasons and it would be best to use something that will allow you to organize guest details and view them at-a-glance whenever necessary (save-the-date/invitation mailing, meal preferences, RSVP management, etc.). There are a ton of ways in which you can organize this information – the key is to make sure it is easy to navigate and grab information for those on your planning team that will need to utilize it throughout the planning process (planner, caterer, stationery designer, calligrapher, etc.).
Note: Some stationery designers/calligraphers require you to use a specific format for guest addressing, etc. so be sure to check with them before or during this process so that you aren’t creating a double load for yourself!
Consider Financially-Contributing Parties
If other parties are contributing to the budget for your special day, show good etiquette by allowing them to contribute to the guest list, as well! Of course, this isn’t a requirement – especially if they have already mentioned that this is unnecessary and they’d much rather you be surrounded by people you know and love and vice versa – but most times, they appreciate the gesture and take you up on being able to invite some of their dearest friends to such a proud occasion.
Designate a set number of guests that they are allowed to invite based on your budgetary restrictions, etc. and let them know this in advance so that they have time to corral addresses, etc. for invitation purposes. This number should be rigid and have no room for scope creep, unless you just know them so well you’d much rather tell them a lower number knowing that they will add on more. Either way, there should be a final number in your head for your planning purposes. Regardless, at the end of the day, you will need to keep a hold on the final amount of guests invited. This will help you keep your budget comfortable and realistic.
Create a ‘Raw’ List
Who exactly should be added to this first round? Anyone you would like to have present! To ensure no one is missed, be sure to reference the below categories (on each side)
Immediate family members that you see and/or speak to on a regular basis – who you would be mortified if you somehow forgot to send them an invitation. Even if they happen to live further away and you aren’t able to see or speak them as often as you would like, you still would hate to not have them present on your wedding day.
Same as above, just not technically your blood relatives. You still would be remiss if they did not receive an invitation. You can’t get married without them!
Family members that are further removed and with whom you do not speak to on a regular basis, but you are still family, speak occasionally, and you think they deserve an invitation. However, if they RSVP’d no – the world would not end.
Extended Friends & Co-Workers
I combined these two categories because co-workers are technically friends if they’re receiving an invitation, hopefully. These are people in your life that you speak to on a regular basis whether at church, an organization or at work. Although you do speak regularly and get along well, it has most likely never expanded outside of the environment in which you are normally together. They have your phone number, but they never call unless there’s a reason. They know you’re getting married and you’d like to consider them for receiving an invitation – if for nothing but to be polite. If they decline, you will more than likely be overjoyed at saving the cost.
Financial Contributor Guests
These are simply the guests that you have allowed to be added by those who are financially contributing to your budget.
Trim it Down
Once you have completed the RAW list, depending on the ratio between the amount of people you know vs. your guest count max – you may be WAY over. That’s okay! It’s just going to take a bit of trimming down. From this point, go through your raw list and slowly, but surely, brainstorm over which guests you will be removing to your guest list in order to reach your goal amount. This process may go on for days or weeks so be sure to start this process EARLY! It may include discussions about relationship status’, updates, discussions with other family members, etc. This process is absolutely okay and recommended to ensure that the final list is one that you both are comfortable and confident with. Ultimately – these guests are going to be the ones who will share in one of the most important days of your lives. Take your time!
Note: There may come a point at which you are willing to increase your budget a bit before trimming some guests off of your list.
Finalize & Complete
Now that you both are confident with the list in front of you, it’s time to start the real fun! Reach out to your guests to begin obtaining mailing addresses, etc. Over time as you begin to receive unofficial declines (from simple word-of-mouth), you can always add guests to the list that will tip you over the max count, but only because you know that some of your guests will simply be receiving an invitation out of politeness but that you know won’t actually attend.
Congrats on creating the first official draft of your guest list! Here’s to a lower amount of stress moving forward. Happy Planning!
Wedding season is almost understand and I have been taking some time to clean up the backend of Hello Love Events before diving into some beautiful weddings for this year! Here are some things that I have been re-assessing, revamping, and updating in order to ensure that Hello Love Events continues to provide exemplary service and care to our clients and our vendor relationships!
You’ve had an entire year of weddings to experience a brand new plethora of items that worked well and, more importantly, didn’t work at all. Be sure to take notes and reflect on any lessons learned after each wedding so that you are able to incorporate updated terms into your client contracts to ensure that the year ahead is smoother and more pleasant for all parties involved. Once you’ve incorporated these updates, pass them by your legal office to confirm that they are worded correctly and will hold up in court in the case of any arising disputes.
Take this time to update anything that is out-of-date, including pricing, brochures, galleries, and links. If you have changed up your offerings at any point, be sure that all of the information aligns with those changes so that clients are up-to-date on the specific packages that you offer along with starting rates and/or recommended budget amounts.
3. Online Portfolio
More than likely, you’ve gained some pretty amazing wedding albums from your wedding clients and photographers and are now ready to incorporate your favorites into your online portfolio (website, social media platforms, marketing websites – e.g. Wedding Wire or The Knot). Remove photos that no longer fit your brand and update them with some of your favorites from the past year. Try your best to represent a consistent body of work from over the years (or months, even) that lets clients get a feel of your unique style and aesthetic.
4. Workflow, Documents & Questionnaires
As with #1, you may have experienced many situations that call for an update to your process workflow, documents, and/or questionnaire templates. Take a few moments to make sure that your current workflow still works for you and your clients and that the wording and questions on any documents that you use throughout the process reflect you, your workflow and your voice.
Hopefully, we keep up with this on a more frequent basis throughout the year, but now is the time to prepare for tax season! Having an effective management process throughout the year will make this one less painful, but there is still work to do. Categorize any remaining unidentified transactions, run any necessary reports, compile and submit all of your receipts (or at least store them away), and print off that profit/loss statement for your tax preparer. Assess your bookkeeping process and see if there are any changes that need to be made. If all worked well for you and your workflow, great! If not, this is the time to troubleshoot and correct it before wedding season is underway.
As a wedding/event professional, have you tackled any of these items in your business over the past few months? What are some other things that you have been assessing and updating to ensure that your business is running smoothly?
XO – Lacoya
Happy Tuesday, friends! The topic of wedding websites ALWAYS come up with my clients throughout the process of planning & designing the guest experience for their special day and I love sharing helpful advice with them to guide them on creating the perfect website for them (or simply handling it all on our end), so I thought it would be sweet to share all of the insider tips here on the blog, as well! Here are my pieces of advice when it comes to creating a beautiful and effective wedding website!
Choose a provider that matches your wedding style.
If you both have a specific color palette or style that you’d like to keep consistent and bold throughout the guest experience, this is definitely one of the places to execute that concept. There are a TON of reputable wedding website platforms out there (Wedding Wire, The Knot, Minted, Appy Couple, etc.) – just make sure your selection includes all of the features you want before committing.
Upgrade to a custom URL & keep it short & simple.
One of the main purposes of creating a website for your wedding is to provide an accessible venue to obtain any and all helpful information and reminders regarding your wedding day. But it’s not helpful at all if they cannot even remember the URL because it’s super clunky and/or long. Consider not only upgrading to a custom URL (nixing the john&emily.xxxxxx.com and just being able to use john&emily.com), but also consider keeping the length to a minimum, unless your names are naturally long (alexander&katherine is perfectly fine since it will be easy for guests to remember than some shortened form). If you’d rather not use your names OR the URL is unavailable, choose a cute and simple phrase that you can easily advertise through word-of-mouth and/or on the information insert within the formal invitation (e.g. www.twobecomeone.com). You can upgrade to these type of capabilities from anywhere between a one-time fee of $25-50 – which is a worthy investment, in my opinion.
Share your story.
This one is often underrated simply because a lot of couples don’t realize how many of their guests (esp. if you have a large wedding) have no idea how the two of you came together. Take a few minutes to share the details of how you met, the proposal, and any other special information that you don’t mind sharing that will help your friends and family get to know the COUPLE better. Most know one or the other, but actually have very few facts about the relationship, itself. Don’t go overboard here – they don’t need to know the details of your first time past first base if you know what I mean. Keep it classy and informative.
Share your wedding party.
This is totally optional and it all depends on how you do it. I find that, although the background information regarding the names of the party members and how they are related to the bride is very sentimental and sweet, the usual accompanying photo throws everything off of the style and vibe. Unless you all have one unique photo session that allows for consistent lighting, attire, environment, etc. (which is definitely over the top, but I love the thought anyway), it can be a bit awkward and may not fit within the theme. However, this may not be the case. You may have beautiful photos of everyone that fit perfectly together, and that’s great, too! At the end of the day, this is totally an optional piece to your website. It’s inclusion or exclusion is a personal preference and will not detract from the value of the website itself either way.
Share all wedding logistics and details.
Here are some high-level details that all wedding websites should include, ensuring that guests have all of the required information to make sure that they are well prepared for your wedding day.
- Ceremony Location & Time (If it is a large venue, be sure to specific the specific room, etc.)
- Cocktail Hour Location & Time
- Reception Location & Time
- Room Accommodations + Pricing Options
- Transportation Itinerary
This is also a great place to place a general FAQ regarding your wedding day including information regarding attire, children attending the wedding, unplugged wedding information, bar details (open, cash or hybrid), etc. These are pieces of information that may not be in good taste to insert on a formal invitation but guests would find super helpful when planning for the day(s).
Share registry information.
Less is more here, in my opinion. You want to give your guests options of what they could gift you for your special day, but you also don’t want to overwhelm them with a ton of stores, either (and who wants to create the registries for a ton of stores, anyway?). Stick with 2-3 locations – OR – even better, choose an online “catch-all” registry that allows you to choose registry items from ANYWHERE (e.g. MyRegistry, Zola, etc.). You can also choose alternative options such as Honeyfund, Heartful.ly, or Upon Our Star!
Share a map along with local attractions.
For those guests with the tourist/sight-seeing bug, share with them what’s in the area with an app like AroundMe, Google Maps, or Trip Advisor. This can also be helpful for guests searching for nearby evening activities such as sports bars or happy hours.
Share the weather forecast.
Share a weather app to assist guests in packing and/or simply dressing for the day. They can always simply pull up an app on their phone, but some may not have access to one or be tech-savvy, so this helps for anyone who at least knows how to use a computer to navigate to a URL. Online RSVP or no?
Share online RSVP option.
Here’s a big one. To go the online RSVP route or not? Some say it’s tacky, some say whatever works. I’m a fan of….it depends. It depends on the wedding couple, the wedding formality, and the culture of the wedding guests. Super formal weddings may err on the “no” side and stick to traditional RSVP cards within the formal invite while super intimate, laid back weddings may provide both options and allow guests to choose which route to take. Personally, I’m not a fan of the 100% online RSVP route, as some online tracking systems are dysfunctional and cause more pain than relief. Either way, choose whichever route fits your wedding and your guests best.
I hope these pieces of advice are helpful to you during your wedding planning process! Here’s to creating a beautiful AND useful piece of the experience for your guests. Happy planning! XO