Events by Divine Creations | Weddings
Events by Divine Creations

Have a Good Hair Day!

by Valerie DiVecchio 23. September 2014 12:40
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Wedding season is upon us once again!  Here in Florida, summer is our off-season because it's so hot and humid and the potential threat of hurricanes is higher earlier in the season.  Now, just because it's not technically "summer" as we make our way into October, let's face it, it's still hot and humid in the Sunshine State.  And for some, another way to say hot and humid is frizzy hair and melting make-up! So that leads us to ask... what is a bride to do to keep her fabulous locks in place and her face picture perfect on her wedding day?

I recently asked Jacklyn Wheeler, owner of Salon Posh who specializes in helping brides look their best on their wedding day, if there is a trend or "best practice" for brides this time of year.  Jacklyn said, "in the summer, Brides tend to like their hair down and flowing for the beach weddings. If they're towards the evening this is great and it looks beautiful! If its during the day we try and convince them to put it up because of the heat".  Makes total sense... who wants sweat running down the back of their wedding dress?!  As far as make-up, brides tend to like to keep it natural.  At Salon Posh, they work hard to enhance their good features and hide the not so good features (be honest... we all have them!) by using highlighters and contouring creams.

So that brings me to question whether having your hair and make-up done professionally on your wedding day is important.  Both hair and make-up experts and photographers say a resounding YES!  In fact, some photographers include in their contracts that their clients must have their hair and make-up styled professionally.  Jacklyn stated "as professionals we realize the difference [between] professional make-up and drug store brands.  What we use lasts a lot longer and is a lot less likely to absord into the skin".  And speaking to why it's important to photographers for this to be professionally done, according to Jacklyn "we also know that when it comes to photos, make-up needs to be applied heavier so they don't look washed out.  As for their hair, our hair spray will hold better and add more shine without looking caked on". 

My two cents.... totally worth the cost of having your hair and make-up professionally done; afterall, your wedding day pictures will last a lifetime and you want your kids and grandkids saying you looked hot - but the good kind of hot!  I definitely recommend doing a trial run so that you can figure out your likes and dislikes prior to the wedding day when stress and emotions tend to run higher.  This way there are no surprises (and if you need proof, ask to see my senior prom photo... it gives "cone head" a new meaning...). Jacklyn recommends doing this a month prior to the wedding and she generally blocks out a two hour slot.

Professional vs. Rookie... Are You Hiring the Right Vendors?

by Valerie DiVecchio 21. July 2014 16:31
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With the dramatic increase of reality television shows, the event industry has boomed... but not in a good way.  These days it seems that anyone with a camera thinks they can be a professional photographer or someone who helped plan their best friend's wedding can be a professional wedding planner.  I easily get 5-10 resumes a week that come across my desk from individuals who planned their own wedding or maybe a friend's and the common statement is "I think it would be so much fun!".  Yes, it is fun and fulfilling, but there is a ton of hard work that must also go into planning someone's event with whom you don't have any personal knowledge.  You may not like what they have in mind, but it's their special day - not yours - so you have to learn to love it!

So how do you separate the professionals from the rookies?  I have narrowed it down to 5 simple questions for a place to start: 1) How long have you been doing this professionally; 2) is this your full-time profession; 3) do you have a business license with the city/ county; 4) do you carry insurance; and 5) on average how many weddings/ bar bat mitzvahs/ corporate functions (pick the one that matches your event) have you done in the last 12 months?  

Question #1 is obvious - hands-on experience is what makes a professional a true professional.  We all have to start out somewhere, but if you think you know it all, and can do it all, after one year in business, there's a problem.  I've been doing this 17 years and I learn new things all the time.  You can learn only so much through books, experience is what will take you to the next level.  Question #2 - if you can't support yourself with doing what you love as a profession, it's a hobby.  Unless you can dedicate yourself to improving your skills, learning new things and polishing technique 100% of the time, you just can't be all that you can be.  Question #3 - basically, if you don't have a license you're operating your business illegally.  Question #4 - all vendors should carry general liability insurance at a minimum.  Additionally, professional liability and workers compensation insurance are also a very good idea.  What if your DJ has lots of cords runnning all over where someone can trip over it?  If he/she doesn't have insurance that person who fell can sue you.  What if videographer slipped and fell because one of your guests spilled a drink on the dance floor? That's right, they could sue you.  And what if the photographer didn't take proper care of his/ her equipment and it is faulty?  That means not only do you not get your pictures, but also if you sue them, with no insurance, you won't get any compensation either.  Insurance is expensive for vendors to carry, but it's also what separates the professionals from the rookies.  And lastly question #5 - say you are planning your son or daughter's bar or bat mitzvah and the planner that you are considering hiring has never been to one, nonetheless planned one.  Will they know what the horah is?  Will they know how to coordinate the candlelighting?  Will they even understand the importance of this milestone occasion? 

Obviously getting recommendations from friends who have planned an event similar to yours is a good idea, as well as asking for additional references.  Ask to see their work.  And not just the pictures they put on their website, but photos or a video from start to finish of an event day. And don't be afraid to ask questions... you are about to pay this person a good deal of money and you want to be sure that you are selecting someone who can do the job according to your expectations and vision.  And remember what mama said, "you get what you pay for".  You can never recreate this special day so be sure you are hiring a professional.  They may cost a little more, but they are well worth it in the end!

Signed, Sealed and ... Nailed?

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. June 2014 10:03
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Cute idea I found buried in an article on someone's Facebook page.  They call it a fight box.  Simple concept actually... Write love letters to each other and place into a box along with a bottle of wine during your wedding ceremony, then nail it shut. When you have your first fight (hopefully not for a very long time!), open it up, pour the wine (and if it's not for a very long time, you may have to get another bottle of wine unless you like the taste of vinegar!), go to separate corners and read the love letters, and remember what it’s all about.

One word of advice... you may want to drill a little hole in the box where you intend to nail it shut.  Slipping and nailing your finger and yelling out an expletive might not be looked happily upon by your priest, reverend or rabbi... not to mention your grandparents, parents and other relatives.  You want to have everyone remembering your wedding day, but probably not for dropping the F-Bomb in the middle of your ceremony!

Let's Make It Official!

by Valerie DiVecchio 22. April 2013 11:25
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So you want to get married.  You spend months (in some people's case years) planning the most perfect day and everything is going smoothly.  You get to your rehearsal and the officiant asks for your marriage license... not the time to have forgotten something!  Without that little piece of paper, you're not legally married!

So here's the low down on applying for your marriage license - and procrastinators beware... there is a waiting period in some cases so don't wait until the day of your rehearsal and think it's going to happen in time!

First thing to know is where to go.  If you intend to marry in Florida, simply head to your local Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court.  They are only open Monday - Friday.  You must show up in person and the license does not need to be issued in the county that the ceremony will take place in, but the ceremony must take place in the State of Florida to be considered valid. The license is valid for 60 days.

Then you need to know what to take with you.  Both parties must provide the Clerk's Office a valid photo ID. Accepted forms of ID's are a driver's license, State Identification Card, valid Passport, a I-94 card, Government or Military Identification Card along with a valid Social Security Card.  Also, if either party has ever been married and divorced, or widowed, the date of the divorce or date of the spouse's death must be supplied. If the divorce or spouse's death occurred within the past 30 days, a certified copy of the divorce decree or death certificate is required. And lastly, you'll need to bring payment for the fee.  Cash only!  And if you've taken the premarital preparation class there is a discount.

Now about that waiting period I mentioned... There is no waiting period for Florida residents that have both completed a state sanctioned marriage preparation course within the last year. There is a 3 day waiting period for Florida residents who have not taken the course.  In addition, the couple is now required to read a 16-page booklet which describes situations such as how a court would divide their assets and information about child support payments. That's a new one since I got married almost 11 years ago!  Don't live in Florida?  You're in luck - no waiting period for you!

Squeamish around needles?  Luckily for you Florida does not require a blood test or an exam to obtain a marriage license.

So there you have it, the nuts and bolts about applying for one little piece of paper that has a big impact if you don't have it!

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Weddings

Bridal Show This Sunday

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. February 2013 15:10
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For all you recently engaged couples out there, one of the biggest bridal shows - The Great Bridal Expo - is happening this Sunday, February 3rd at the Tampa Convention Center.  While Divine Creations will not have a booth there, you can check out one of our floral centerpiece creations at The Chart House's table.  There is a fee to attend and you can get more info at www.greatbridalexpo.com.

Words of wisdom regarding bridal shows... there is no requirement for number of years you have been in business or number of weddings you have actually worked to get a booth at a bridal show.  All it takes is a little bit of money to pay the exhibition fee.  While there are very good vendors - like The Chart House and others - who display at bridal shows, there are also vendors who are new to the industry and have little to no experience.  Be prepared to ask questions, ask for references, ask to see pictures of their work and remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Rookies to the industry will often cut prices in order to build a portfolio... do you really want them to be practicing their trade at your wedding?  And the biggest tip... do not sign any contracts!  Book a consultation so that you have time to do your homework before meeting with them.  And if they say the discounted price is only good if you book that day - walk away.  You'll be glad you did!

Here is a sneak peek of the centerpiece we will have on display!

Think Beyond White for Your Wedding

by Valerie DiVecchio 19. July 2012 15:51
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We use flowers to share joy, sorrow, love, excitement and many other emotions. They also say that flower is the language of love and consequently at a wedding one would expect to see beautiful flowers - lots of them to confirm that magic love.

Brides have different tastes that are reflected in their choices of dresses and style of ceremonies; flowers are great opportunities to display your personal preferences and provide a sense of uniqueness to your wedding day and overall ceremony.  Just as you spend time choosing your wedding dress because you want it to be perfect, do not neglect the floral considerations necessary to match your style and overall wedding’s theme. There are no rules about the colors and the types of wedding flowers you should use. Therefore, think beyond white and make an effort to integrate your preferences into your overall wedding theme. Many gorgeous weddings contained brightly, vivid bouquets and table arrangements.  Based on your wedding’s theme there are many flowers that can capture and complement the style chosen and lend that unforgettable luster to your day and memory you want your guests to take away and keep with you. Flowers bring colors and life to a wedding ceremony and theme. 

Be sure to have your favorite flowers displayed in a creative and gorgeous arrangement and no one does this in a more professional way than Divine Creations. 

       

5 More Mistakes in Wedding Planning

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. May 2012 17:03
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So was last week's blog about the top 5 mistakes or are these mistakes the top 5?  Hard to tell because they all can lead to an awful wedding planning experience!  Read on to learn how to avoid these pitfalls so that you make it to down the aisle calm, cool and collected!

Continuing on with Nina Callaway's top 10 mistakes with Events by Divine Creations two cents thrown in:

Mistake #6 - This one has to do with knowing your budgetary limits and constrains.  I know that we already mentioned this one before, but at Events by Divine Creations, we understand why she put it in there twice.  I've experienced some awkward moments with couples sitting in front of me arguing about money.  Save your sanity (and mine) and know what you are willing to spend up front and stick to it... unless of course you win the lottery while planning your big day!

Mistake #7 - This mistake involves the consumption of alcohol.  Many couples tend to spend the night prior to their weddings out drinking and getting trashed.  They wake on their wedding day with puffy skin, headache or worse not being able to enjoy their big day.  At Events by Divine Creations we always recommend that the bachelor/ bachelorette parties be many weeks before the wedding.  As for the rehearsal dinner, I always make sure that couples and their attendants understand what can happen if they party too hard the night before (or for goodness sake, the afternoon of the wedding day - eek!).  I've seen groomsmen pass out during a wedding ceremony before (that's when I added smelling salts to my emergency kit...).  If you're going to drink, that's perfectly fine, but alternate it with water.  Watching yourself stumble and slur on your wedding video doesn't create great memories! 

Mistake #8 - Not taking others into consideration during the ceremony and celebrations afterwards.  It is worth remembering that although it is your big day you are also the hosts and you need to show your guests your appreciation in taking the time to come celebrate with you.  Okay, here I need to disagree a little bit with Ms. Callaway.  Yes, your guests might have travel great distance to come celebrate or taken time off work or bought you an expensive gift, but I have rarely seen 100+ people gather together and everyone be satisified.  Music's too loud, DJ talks too much, seated in the back of the room, seated at the same table with Aunt Susie who they can't stand... the list goes on and on.  Be gracious and be conscientious, but it will turn your hair gray to try and make all of your guests happy.  Most important thing is that the two of you are happy!

Mistake #9 - Not involving your future husband.  Make sure to set aside a meeting time and you’ll be surprised to find that you can brainstorm on many ideas together and support each other during this crucial period.  We see a lot of future husbands participate in meetings at Events by Divine Creations.  There are some real troopers who will smile through a two hour meeting about flowers, but most are concerned about 3 things - food, bar and entertainment.  Let them make a few decisions.  It will actually help take the load off the bride who 95% of the time is juggling the entire planning on her own...  unless of course she hired us!

And Mistake #10 - This one is losing perspective.  Many people get bogged down in the small details and neglect the important issues. Make sure to focus on the big issues.  At Events by Divine Creations, I say to my clients... "you can plan and plan, but sometimes life happens".  If you are so focused on whether the cocktail napkin is the right shade of pink or the band leader forgot to have your father-in-law speak at the right time during the reception, you are going to ruin your night.  All you will remember is the stress and anger that things didn't go your way.  Never lose perspective that you are marrying the person that you love and starting a new life together - that's the most important thing.

19% of all marriages end in divorce within their first  year or never make it to the alter at all.  At Events by Divine Creations we can help break the planning process into bite-size, manageable pieces thus giving couples time to prepare for a successful marriage and not just their wedding day.  The best way to avoid all of these mistakes?  Hire a professional event planner that you can work with to guide you through all of these issues.  You will spare yourself a lot of drama, frustrations, and stress and find the time to enjoy your big day to the fullest. 

Top 10 Mistakes of Wedding Planning

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. May 2012 16:07
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Planning a wedding can be a daunting and overwhelming task putting a lot of pressures on the couple-to-be just at the time they should be able to enjoy the celebration of their love and future life together.  It does not need to be that way.  To that end, Nina Callaway, has flagged ten frequent mistakes people make when planning their weddings as well as providing some suggestions on best ways of avoiding them. 

Mistake #1 - Couples often go into their planning process without a theme for their ceremony.  They usually end up with a ceremony that has a lack of personality. The best way to compensate for that is to settle on a theme reflecting what they want to share of their lives and aspirations.  To Divine Creations a theme for a wedding doesn't mean casino night or magical forest unless that speaks to you, but it can be as simple as the colors you incorporate or selecting food from places you have or want to travel.

Mistake #2 - This one has to do with financial planning and available resources.  Many people, Callaway argues, go into the wedding planning exercise having no clue of “the meaning of the word budget,” much less knowing how much they have or need for a successful ceremony within their means.  The best way to avoid headaches on this is to know your budget and what is important and what is not.  At Divine Creations we help our clients save money by negotiating their contracts because we are able to leverage our relationships with vendors and obtain better pricing for our clients.

Mistake #3 - Forgetting what a wedding really means.  One should keep in mind that the main event is the wedding ceremony; the reception afterward is just the celebration. Here at Divine Creations, we strive to help you reduce stress and free up some precious time so that you can prepare for your marriage and not just the big day.

Mistake #4 - Not identifying the master of your ceremony.  It will be useful to make sure that your personality meshes well with your choice of officiant and DJ or band leader.   At Divine Creations we will set up meetings with these indviduals so our clients can get a sense of their style and personality.  Afterall they are the ones with the microphone and if the sound of their voice is like nails on a chalkboard to you, that could be a problem!

Mistake #5 - The weather.  Many people simply do not give any thoughts as to the possibility of rain on their wedding day.  It is important to always plan for things going wrong (like rains or storms or hurricanes!), especially for those planning outdoor ceremonies.  At Divine Creations we always ensure that there is a back-up indoor location so the show can go on!

Next week I will share with you five more mistakes to round out the top 10 list.  If reading the first five mistakes give you heart palpitations, give Divine Creations a call so we can help you save time, stress and money!

Welcome to the Army!

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. September 2010 19:23
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A very special couple was wed in a very special ceremony on February 20th at the Don Vicente Historic Inn in Ybor City.  Eric is an officer in the United States Army currently stationed at MacDill.  I call it a very special ceremony, not just because two great people found love and happiness, but also because at the conclusion of the ceremony there was a sword ceremony.  I've only witnessed one other before a long time ago and it always left an impression on me.  Seeing one up close and personal was really cool.

As Eric and Susan were pronounced husband and wife, they headed down the aisle together and came to uniformed officers lined up on both sides.  Swords were raised, but then lowered as the passage through came with a price... a kiss.  They were almost to the end when the last officer in line lowered his sword as Susan walked by and swatted her on the bum saying "Welcome to the Army, Mrs. Larsen".  The entire room - including the bride and groom - burst out in laughter. 

It was definitely a lasting impression and one that puts a smile on my face every time I think of their special day.  One of the best welcomes I've witnessed in a long time!

Special thanks to Phillip Lloyd for capturing these great shots!

         

Pretty in Pink

by Valerie DiVecchio 5. August 2010 10:06
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On March 13th Michelle and Jimmy tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony at A La Carte Event Pavilion.  They added a very special element to their wedding ceremony that was unique and very personal.  Michelle and Jimmy had written private letters Sandoval Ceremonyto each other expressing the love and joy they felt on this day, their wedding day.  The letters were placed in sealed envelopes and placed in a locked box that also contained a bottle of wine.  The officiant explained that if at a point in their lives they ever felt hurt, upset or frustrated, they are to open the box and the bottle of wine and read the letters they wrote to each other.  And if that day never came, they could open it on a special anniversary and reflect upon this very special moment.  I thought that was one of the coolest concepts I've seen.

After the ceremony, came the party... and boy, was it a party!  Since Michelle is Puerto Rican she wanted to bring some of her cultural heritage into their wedding.  Michelle hired a dancer who came in and taught their guests all kinds of Latin dance moves - salsa, merengue, rumba... all the favorites! As her guests learned the dance moves, Michelle slipped away and changed into a sexy, dancing dress and came out to surprise her guests - and her new husband - with a salsa number that she had been learning in class.  The crowd loved it and she was great!

The terrace room was decked out with an elegant silk ceiling treatment and vignettes hung strategically around the room all uplit in pink.  The centerpieces were gorgeous and full with roses, peonies and hydrangea with large strands of crystals hanging from the tall vases.  The chandeliers were full of candles and crystals giving the room that soft, romantic feel throughout the evening.  Luxurious copper pintuck linens completed the look of all of the tables.   We brought in lounge furniture for the outdoor terrace so all the guys were nice and relaxed as the ladies took to the dance floor.  Michelle even had a percussionist playing live with the DJ so that the music was that much more intense and the dance floor that much more jumpin'!  She also hired a photo booth that was a huge hit and as the drinks flowed, the photo booth pictures got more and more funny!

At the end of the evening, Michelle and Jimmy were happy and full of smiles.  They looked like they had the time of their lives and I wish them a lifetime of love, laughter and special memories like the ones that I share with them of their beautiful wedding day!

     

 

New Twists to the Traditional

by Valerie DiVecchio 28. July 2010 11:53
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There are several new trends showing up in wedding day attire for brides that are sure to turn heads.  As the center of attention for your special day, check out some new twists on the traditional wedding day dress according to Brides.comimage:

Metallics - Metallic fabrics give the gown a luxurious feel while radiating tones of platinum, silver and gold. The style of the dress may be simple, but the shining  effect of the fabric is enough to light up the room. These dresses look amazing when embellished with diamond jewelry, too!

Black image Accents - Black-on-white accents for wedding gowns create a gorgeous contrast between light and dark shades. There are so  many options for black accents, including waistline, dress straps, and chic embellishments. This new trend is definitely edgier than many of the others, as recently more brides have been introducing dark colors into traditionally white gowns.

Tea-length dresses - The short dress is one of the hottest non-traditional fashion statements, perfect for the quirky bride, beach weddings, or as a second wedding dress that a bride can change into for the reception. The tea-length dress has a cute 1950’s twist and finally gives brides the opportunity to show off some stylish bridal shoes and perfect pedicures!

 

How Wedding Planners are Like Ducks

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. July 2010 11:47
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Every so often I wake up in the middle of the night and instead of checking the clock and drifting right back off the sleep... the brain starts to whirl.  Well, you know when that happens the last thing you can do is go back to sleep.  So instead of tossing and turning and waking up my husband, I quietly slipped out to the couch and turned on the television.  Now, I'm usually pretty vocal about not watching reality shows revolving around weddings.  I'm sure many of them are great, but the one time I did watch, they made the wedding planners out to be either clueless or big meanies.  But at 2:00 in the morning, there's not much on so I settled on the show, "Bethanny Getting Married?".

It was like a marathon of the same show so I got to watch the planning all the way through the honeymoon in about 4 hours (love, love, love TIVO and getting to fast forward through the commercials!).  For those of you who have not seen the show, she plans her wedding in about 5 weeks because she's 7 months pregnant.  So we finally get to the big day and she's got the place of her dreams - the Four Seasons Restaurant.  Her wedding planner, Shawn, seemed like an okay guy - hard to get a deep understanding of someone in their profession in a few episodes.  Then comes the moment that I have lived a thousand times over.

Shawn walks into a side room to call the bride on her wedding day just to check in.  She, of course, asks how the set-up was going and he says all the right things - it looks beautiful, it's amazing, you're going to love it.  Meanwhile in the other room, set-up is behind schedule, chairs are stacked from floor to ceiling, all of the flowers hung by the windows are completely dead, glasses are breaking... seemed like the place would never come together.  But as Shawn knew, and I knew, and other professional planners knew, it all does come together in the end.  Sometimes it might be last minute and we have a bald spot from pulling out our hair, but it all comes together in a way that the bride had always dreamed it would be and more.

My mom had a drawing that hung in our living room when I was growing up and when I heard Shawn say almost the same words, I couldn't help but laugh.  "We're like ducks, calm and smooth on the surface and paddling like hell underneath"!  So when you watch the reality shows that make wedding planners look either like complete idiots or when they are screaming at people waving their hands like a lunatic, know that that is not a true representation of a PROFESSIONAL planner.  So keep looking until you find the duck - I mean wedding planner - that's right for you!

Cutting Your Cake Costs

by Valerie DiVecchio 21. July 2010 10:13
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Brides.com recently offered some innovative ways to save money when shopping for your wedding cake without sacrificing the taste or beauty of your creation.  Here are a few tips from Betsy Goldberg, originally published in Modern Bride Magazine, to get an extravagant looking cake and satisfy your budget at the same time.

1) Use fresh flowers instead of sugar flowers.  Handcrafted sugarpaste flowers and iced accents drive up the cost of your cake because they are extremely labor intensive.  Decorating with fresh flowers, ribbon and faux pearls can give it an elegant look without the lavish costs.

2) Serve wisely.  Some couples opt to have a faux cake made with iced cardboard tiers except for the tier that you will slice during your cake cutting ceremony.  When the cake is taken back into the kitchen, the slices served to the guests can come from a much more inexpensive sheet cake and no one will know that they are not eating from the original cake!

3) Personalize your cake stand.  The stand can give your dessert huge presence and one that illustrates something about you can be the best aesthetic touch.  Betsy Goldberg recommends a bed of refined sugar or a vintage hatbox borrowed from an older family member, both of which are of little extra cost.

4) Order a chocolate cake.  Choc-o-holics rejoice!  Chocolate is rich and therefore more filling so you can get away with cutting smaller slices for guests.

Bon appetit!

 

A Guest Book with a Purpose

by Valerie DiVecchio 13. July 2010 15:02
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Ask your friends and family who have gotten married where their guest book is today.  Chances are, if they are like me, the reply might be something like this, "in the hall closet in a box marked "wedding stuff'".  These days people have gotten smarter and gone to alternative guest books like the photo signature mat or the Polaroid picture/ photo booth picture scrapbook... something that you are comfortable placing on a coffee table and not look out of place. 

I recently found another great alternative - engravable platters!  And before you cringe by imagining some old fashioned electric engraving pen that makes a horrible noise, the guests actually use a diamond-tip Signature Engraving Scribe to leave their special message that will last forever with no risk of being ripped or torn!  Check out: www.IDoEngravables.com where you can find the perfect engravable wedding platter for as low as $65.  That's about the same price as a matching guest book and pen!

Picture serving your first Thanksgiving turkey on this special platter or using it for breakfast in bed on your first anniversary.  Special memories and functional all in one - what a great idea!

The Bridesmaid, The Bouquet and The Spanx!

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. July 2010 15:03
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I went to lunch today with several people from a networking organization in which I am a member.  We recently played a type of game in the chapter and our team took first place.  Bunch of type-A personalities... like you would expect anything less?!  Prize for winning... $200 gift certificate for the group to go to lunch at a restaurant of their choice.  Anyway, during lunch "Jamie" (name changed to protect her identity just in case!) told us that she was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding this past weekend. 

The wedding went great and the reception was hopping, and then lucky Jamie caught the bouquet toward the end of the evening.  If you're not familiar with this tradition, the bride tosses her bouquet to all the single ladies and the one who catches it is supposed to be the next to get married.  Not sure how much I believe in that belief because I'm pretty sure I caught a bouquet when I was about 9... and I'm pretty sure that someone there got married - or divorced and re-married - within the 20 years it took me from then to tie the knot.  But I digress...  Anyway, the DJ announced that the gentleman who caught the garter needed to place that garter on Jamie's leg and for every inch above the knee is 10 years of good luck.  Well, apparently there are many different styles of Spanx (a popular body slimming garment) and Jamie just happened to be wearing ones that were longer.  The bride and bridesmaids all circled around Jamie on the dance floor and told her that she needed to pull her Spanx up so the garter could go up high.  Jamie was not so keen of this idea since she's smack in the middle of the dance floor at the moment, but being the trooper that she is and proving her worth as a bridesmaid, she reluctantly hiked up the dress and pulled up the Spanx!

Now, besides a good laugh, there are a couple of morals to the story... when wearing Spanx, go to the bathroom and take them off or at least adjust them before you head out to the dance floor and catch the bouquet.  And second, you know you have a true friend and made a perfect bridesmaid choice if she's willing to hike up her dress on the dance floor under "cover" by the bride and bridesmaids for a good cause like wishing you a good 80 or 90 years of a happy marriage!  Thanks for sharing, Jamie!

A Twist on the Traditional Boutonniere

by Valerie DiVecchio 20. June 2010 12:00
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Flower boutonnieres are great - and probably the most cost effective way to go - but if you want to get a little creative or you have a groom who refuses to wear a "girly flower", there are always personalized options you can consider to play up to their personalities.  Some suggestions from The Perfect Wedding Guide are to create a little fixture of poker chips and mini-playing cards for the gambler in your life or a sand dollar or seashell collection for the ever-popular Florida beach wedding - both cute ideas.

For the most cost effective way to do this, it would be a great "do-it-yourself" project, but if that's not your style, you can have a specialty store create it for you.  Of course if budget is a factor and you're just not the arts and crafts type, you may just want to tell him to man up and wear the flower!

The Infamous Cake Topper

by Valerie DiVecchio 16. June 2010 19:56
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We've been talking so much about personalization on this blog these days, I figured why stop now!  Say goodbye traditional Bride & Groom Wedding Cake Toppers! Many couples today are ditching the stoic, perfect looking - yet generic - Bride and Groom topper for one that’s more customized.  Maybe it’s an object that illustrates a hobby or interest that the two of you share or even a custom creation that looks like the two of you in bobble head form (check out previous blog titled, "Dade City Finest Show Up in Full Force").  Some couples choose to forego the cake topper altogether and opting for a cake design that matches the color scheme and/or theme of the evening. Either way, get creative!

If you're the topper type, here are a couple of websites to get you started: caketoppers.com and justcaketoppers.com.  They’ve got everything from elegant monograms to Las Vegas-themed toppers, as well as some really funny twists on the conventional bride and groom figures. I'm still laughing at one that I found below that's a personal favorite from weddingaccessories.net.  Now where was that one when I got married?!

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Personalization Through New Traditions

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. June 2010 16:15
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Today's weddings are all about personalization, and the May 2010 issue of BRIDES Magazine has tons of great suggestions for doing just that!  With some of these distinctive new traditions, you and your fiance can give guests a special peak into your life as a couple and the family customs that have brought the two of you closer.  Here is the top 10 list of New Traditions, all of which are very creative ways to make your wedding day uniquely yours... and of course I had to add my own two cents!

1.  Group photo of all the guests - very cute addition to your thank you note cards.

2. Menu of Grandma's recipes - each table can be a different recipe of Grandma's secret dishes or you can bundle several together on a CD and make it a favor.

3. Family Serenades - well, if your family is like mine and can't carry a tune, might not be the best idea, but on the other hand that's what makes your wedding video memorable!

4. Combined Ethnic Cuisines - maybe you are of Mexican decent and he's Italian... makes for awesome food like make your own fajita station and a gelato bar - yum!

5. Favorite Professors as Officiants - or a family member or friend.  It's always more personal when the person marrying you has actually known you for more than a month!

6. Presenting the Bouquet to Mom instead of Tossing it to the Girls - Great way to express your love and gratitude to a very special woman in your life.  You can also consider the anniversary dance instead of the bouquet and garter toss.  Don't know what that is?  I'll blog on it next!

7. Dancing to your parents' first dance song - sure to bring a tear to Mom and Dad's eye.

8. Using herbs from your backyard in your bouquet - early bridesmaids' bouquets were made of pungent herbs such as rosemary and garlic - not flowers.  The smell was supposed to drive away any evil spirits eyeing the bridal party.  Provides personalization and safety - double bonus!

9.  Toasts by friends from each stage of life: childhood, elementary school, high school, college, work - I would actually recommend doing this during the rehearsal dinner otherwise you could spend your entire evening listening to toasts instead of dancing!

10. Table of family photos - I recently had a client do this and it was fantastic.  They had every single wedding picture from both sides of the family all the way back to the great grandparents.  Very much an attention grabber and conversation starter!

A Different Kind of Reunion

by Valerie DiVecchio 23. February 2010 18:33
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Carol and Mike were married 30 years ago and unfortunately things didn't work out.  They divorced and went their separate ways and on with their lives.  Years go by, they each get remarried and what once was seemed like a blip in the radar screen.  Then out of the blue, 30 years later they found each other again.  The sparks of first love flew and last summer Carol and Mike were remarried by a friend at the courthouse who knew them "back then". 

On January 9th, before moving away to start their new life in California, Carol and Mike threw a grand celebration to celebrate their reunion with about 50 of their closest family and friends.  They had the most perfect invitations - "sometimes it ends where it all began" and I had my first expereince with arranging centerpieces!  Thank goodness Carol went with simple loose stems!  Held at the Davis Islands Garden Club, the party was to take place outside on the patio overlooking the water.  We had plans for stringing white lanterns across the ceiling, uplighting the trees and having delicate drapes blowing in the breeze.  Well, January 9th turned out to be one of the coldest nights of the year with the temperature dipping down into the 30s.  So... Plan B!  Everything was moved inside - lounge area and tables on one side, food on the other and dancing in between.  It turned out to be a great evening, filled with dancing and laughter and love. 

So it just goes to show you that sometimes love never does die... it just needs to be rekindled.  Best wishes Carol and Mike for a lifetime of happiness!

                   

                                                

 

Welcome to Tampa Bay!

by Valerie DiVecchio 18. December 2009 14:58
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We're lucky, we live in the Sunshine State, but not everyone is so fortunate.  So as a big snow storm is barreling right now towards the Northeast coast, we can sit back and kick on the AC because it's still 70+ degrees outside.  So if planning your wedding here in Tampa Bay, why not give your guests a taste of what is in store for them before they even arrive.  Obviously welcome bags at the hotel are a great treat, but sending them some information in advance will get them as excited about your wedding as you are!

For those out of town guests, when you receive their RSVP card that says they are coming to help you celebrate your big day, consider mailing them a packet of information about our wonderful city.  A local overview map and some brochures on local attractions will help them plan some extra activities during their downtime and maybe even have them turn the weekend into a week long vacation.  I mean, who wants to go out and shovel snow when you can go to the beach?!  Stop by your local Chamber of Commerce to pick up some information or local hotels that have brochures displayed in their lobby.  It's all free. And don't forget to add a letter from the two of you about your favorite spots and things to do here in Tampa Bay.

We live where people come to vacation... how great is that?!

Popular Wedding Magazine Coming to an End

by Valerie DiVecchio 9. December 2009 09:26
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Time, Inc. has decided to close InStyle Wedding magazine and its last issue will hit the newsstands on December 25th.  A few of my blogs in the past have been on information found in this magazine and I will be sad to see it go.  Below is some great information pulled from its current fall edition regarding different ideas for your bridesmaids' attire.

At one time or another, most ladies have been a bridesmaid or two.  It's at that time you realize whether your best friends have good taste in clothing... or not.  The days of all bridesmaids needing to look all matchy-matchy are behind us and the best gift we can now give to our closest friends is options.  Now, that doesn't mean that they can all go pick out whatever they want... after all there are professional photos that must be considered.  But here are a few tips from InStyle Weddings magazine on options that will look cute and coordinated:

1) Different Styles, Different Shades - You choose a base color then let your bridal party pick out their own dresses in shades of the same color family.  Honestly, not my favorite option to give them... this is when you, the bride, may find out whether or not your friends have good taste in clothing if you didn't already know...

2) One Style, Different Shades - Pick one dress all the same, but open up a rainbow of opportunities.

3) One Color, Different Styles - Bridesmaids aren't one size fits all.  Why not let your friends choose the cut that flatters her frame the best.  Personally, this is my favorite option!  What a concept... maybe your bridesmaids would actually wear the dress again!

4) One Dress, Different Accents - Why not customize the dress with a different color sash as an accent or for those fall or winter weddings, a shawl could be a cool accent too.

Now there are a couple of other ideas for options you can also give them:

A) Jewelry: You pick the one element to keep the look coordinated like pearls or crystals, then let the wedding party pick their own individual pieces.

B) Shoes: Provide them with the shade they should be - most popular are metallic like silver or gold or a simple black - and then let them pick out a shoe that will be comfortable and one they may actually wear again.

C) Hair: Rather than having all matching updos, why not let them wear their hair the way they like to so they feel like they look their best?  Lord knows that I wish someone told me that it is not a requirement to have an updo in order to get married... what was I thinking?!

And the Kids Say Thank You!

by Valerie DiVecchio 4. December 2009 15:12
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I am happy to announce that the toy drive was a huge success!  Eighteen89 collected about 300 toys to be donated to the YMCA's Polar Express program that supports Sulpher Springs Elementary School.  A special thank you to everyone who donated toys.  It is because of you that these kids' holidays will be much brighter!

    

Saving Money Part 3: Eating Right

by Valerie DiVecchio 21. November 2009 15:45
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Food and beverage is the most expensive element to a wedding.  In fact it counts for upwards of 50% of your budget.  Obviously the first way to save is cutting back on your guest list.  Invite only those closest to you.  It's time to cross those people you haven't seen in years off the list and draw the line on the family... how close are you really to your cousins twice removed?  Less guests = less money!

For food, consider serving heavy hors d'oeuvres instead of a full dinner. Action stations are very popular and trendy these days and people will get enough food to fill them up, but because it uses smaller plates and they have to move around the room more from station to station, people tend to eat less.  Also, it's a myth that a buffet costs less than a plated meal in a lot of cases.  If you do opt for a buffet, cutting your protein or meat selections down to two instead of three will definitely save you money.

And finally, selecting a venue that will allow you to bring in your own alcohol will save you an incredible amount of money.  Alcohol has an average of a 200% mark up on it so if you can buy your own, that's a great option.  If doing this, however, I always recommend hiring a bartending company to serve your guests.  It is incredibly important for that company to carry liability insurance though - that takes the liability if someone drinks too much off you and places it on the company that served them.  It also though gives them the right to cut off your guests who have had too much to drink.   And if purchasing your own alcohol is not an option, limit your bar to maybe beer and wine only.  And while not ideal, you can host a bar for the first hour or two and then have it turn into a cash bar as well.

Happy eating and drinking!!

It's the UN, It's the Olympics...No, It's a Wedding!

by Valerie DiVecchio 13. November 2009 16:40
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Okay, I have seen some really cool things that brides and grooms do to personalized their weddings, but on October 10th I saw something that was really awesome!  Shay and Anthony were married at Christ the King Catholic Church and their reception was at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.  It was a fairly large wedding with about 250 guests.  Shay's nationality is German and Anthony's is Italian and Spanish.  They wanted to incorporate their heritage into their wedding and believe me, they did it with style!

There were several unique elements that they brought to their special day - cigar table, candy table, gelato machine instead of a wedding cake, but their entrance into the reception was one that I will remember for a  long time.  On all of the guest tables, there were flags of all kinds of nationalities; primarily USA, Germany, Spain, and Italy.  Shay even organized it so that the flags on each table matched the guests' nationality.  So during the main entrance when they walked into the room, all of the guests were waving their flags.  It was an amazing site and it jumped the energy in the room up tenfold! 

They had a beautiful reception all the way around, but those special elements around their culture were the things that had the guests talking and had me totally impressed!

Shay Flags  Candy Table  Cigars

Dade City Finest Show Up In Full "Force"

by Valerie DiVecchio 30. October 2009 16:56
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Reception

No, not for me!  For Chris and Michele's wedding!  On October 3rd, two of the police's finest officers were married at the Sheraton Riverwalk Hotel in downtown Tampa.  It was a beautiful ceremony and the couple took advantage of a great sunset for pictures that evening.  It was the same night as the Metallica concert, but that didn't stop Michele and Chris from jumping into the hotel shuttle with their photographer and several heavy metal fans to hop over to the University of Tampa for some great sunset shots.  If only those guys knew who they were riding with in the van!

donuts The reception was beautiful in the Riverwalk ballroom, but it was the little special touches that made the evening extraordinary... and at times hilarious.  First off, the favors were small boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts.  Get it... police officers and donuts?Cake-topper---back  The guests acted Cake-topper---front "insulted", like they couldn't believe that one of their own played into the stereotype, but let me  tell you those donuts were gone fast by the end of the night!  And I do have to say they had one of the coolest cake toppers I have ever seen.  It was a replica of the two of them in their police uniforms - down to the last detail.  The back side of it was even funnier (go Michele!).  Too cute!

Chris and Michele were my favorite kind of clients - relaxed, good natured and smiling the whole night long!! 

                                                Michele-and-Chris

Saving Money Part 2: Timing Is Everything

by Valerie DiVecchio 14. August 2009 11:00
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Unlike the rest of the United States, off-season in Florida is mid-June through mid-September.  There are the two H's to deal with - heat and hurricanes - but for the budget conscious bride, that's when you will save a ton of money.  Venues are willing to lower their food and beverage minimums and vendors are willing to lower their normal rates so your dollar stretches a lot further.  Obviously it goes without saying, I would strongly suggest purchasing wedding insurance - particularly because of H number 2 potential!  But if the two H's are too much to deal with, you can also consider a Friday or Sunday date.  Saturday evenings are the highest priced so opting for a weeknight or Sunday will give you much more flexibility in terms of budget since there is a lot less demand for those dates.

Another consideration is the time of day... obviously evenings are the most expensive.  Morning ceremonies are readily available on Saturdays and a brunch or luncheon reception will cost a lot less.  Since the demand is reduced for those times, venues will work with your budget more and the menu will still be plentiful, but much less expensive than a dinner.  In addition, people tend to drink less during the day than an evening so you can still incorporate alcohol, but mimosas and bloody marys cost a lot less than martinis and cocktails!

Down Economy + Bankrupt Business = Nupital Nightmares

by Valerie DiVecchio 12. August 2009 12:07
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Recently there was an article on Angie's List that highlighted some couples across the country that were out major bucks due to companies going out of business.  The interesting part about this story is that out of all of the couples who were interviewed for the article, not one had a wedding planner.  Dena Davey, a spokesperson with The Association of Bridal Consultants was quoted as saying, "you can enjoy your wedding because a professional with the proper credentials will be able to see something coming that a bride might not".  Planners are a very close-knit group and the word gets around about shady and shaky vendors.

A few years ago there was a highly respected photographer in the Tampa Bay area that ran into some big trouble.  At the time I had one wedding client who had booked him and paid the deposit.  For months, I tried to track him down, get straight answers, spoke with other professionals in the area and had that never ending gut feeling that said "we need a Plan B".  I spoke with my client and advised her that I thought we should go ahead and terminate the contract, interview other photographers and book someone else for her wedding.  She could always take him to small claims court and try to get her money back.  Good thing we did because about two months after her wedding there was a big news story locally exposing this photographer and about 60 brides who paid the entire amount of their contract and did not get a single picture from their wedding day.  Huge scandal, major lawsuits and even bigger heartbreak.  That's one milestone in life that is just impossible to recreate.

Also quoted in the article was Kyle Brown, the executive director of the Bridal Association of America.  "You're going to pay a little more for experience, but how can you put a price on peace of mind?".  I couldn't have said it better myself.

On top of hiring a professional wedding planner, consider wedding insurance.  Typical policies can cover everything from a no-show vendor (or one that does show but fails to product the product) to family members being stuck at the airport to companies that you have secured (and paid for!) that go bankrupt due to the worsening economy.  Here in Tampa, the average wedding probably runs about $25,000 - what else do you own for that amount of money that you don't have insurance for?

Beware of the "Certified" Wedding Planner...

by Valerie DiVecchio 6. August 2009 15:36
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So today I received an e-mail announcing that a certain wedding program is offering a discount for home study course that costs $495 to earn the designation of a "certified wedding specialist".  Sounds impressive, right?  Hummm... $495 + on-line computer course = "specialist"?  Whatever happened to experience??

All I'm saying is to be careful if someone uses certifications to try and impress you in this industry.  There is no course that can replace years of hands-on, hard work in the field.  A certification might look great on their wall, but when it's all said and done, it's just a piece of paper.  Make sure they have the experience and expertise to back it up!

Secrets to Wedding Dress Shopping

by Valerie DiVecchio 3. August 2009 11:20
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Wedding dress shopping - it's every girl's dream and every girl's nightmare!  You dream of it being this relaxing, fun day shared with your closest friends and family, sipping champagne as an attentive sales person brings you dress after dress after dress.  Then that day comes and the sales person is rushed, the dresses are not your size and you're having to either squeeze into something that doesn't zip up or have ten clothespins down your back so the dress doesn't fall off!  And not to mention that there is no champagne in sight!

Recently I was reading InStyle Weddings magazine and they had an article with some great tips to help make wedding dress shopping a stress-free occasion.  I picked out a few that I thought were really important, but if you want to read the entire article it is in their summer edition.

1) For the best service, book the earliest appointment available on any weekday.  The shop is generally quieter and the sales staff is more attentive.

2) Wear sensible undergarments.  A flesh tone, strapless bra and panties are the best for dress shopping.  Dark colors and patterns can be seen through the dress and can throw off the true color and design of a dress.

3) Look and feel good!  No matter how gorgeous the gown, if you look like you've just rolled out of bed, you won't fall in love with it.  Make sure to do your hair and wear make-up as you normally do.  And if it's a bad PMS day... you may want to reschedule!

4) As soon as you have a dress ordered, go shoe shopping!  Before your first fitting, you'll want to wear the exact shoe to the fitting so that it is hemmed properly. 

5) It's a legal contract so be sure before you sign.  When you sign the contract to purchase a dress, you'll generally put 50% down.  If you elope or call it off, you're still responsible for the entire purchase price of the dress.

Hopefully by incorporating some of these tips you can be one of those brides who have an amazing dress shopping experience.  And if you're totally bummed about not having champagne, ask if you can bring your own bottle!

Saving Money Part 1: Location, Location, Location

by Valerie DiVecchio 16. July 2009 06:21
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Times are tougher these days financially than we have seen in many years, but that doesn't mean you can't have the wedding of your dreams.  Part of my job as an event planner is to recommend alternatives to the things that my clients may want, but cannot really afford.  We all have a bottom line and know that compromise is key, but the word "budget" should not necessarily equal "sacrifice".  This summer I am going to do a series of blogs about little things that you can do to save some big bucks when planning your wedding so I hope that you will find it helpful and continue to check back for more!

Just like in real estatem, location is crucial when planning your special event.  If you belong to a church or synagogue, check to see if they have a social hall for your reception which often has a much lower price tag than most other places.  If that is not an option, having your ceremony and reception in the same venue (separate rooms of course) will help to eliminate certain costs like transportation for the bridal party and many times you can also get a complimentary suite for your wedding night.  Another consideration is to look in your own backyard.  Do you or someone you know have a beautifully landscaped area that is already decorated by Mother Nature?  This option for a ceremony comes with little to no cost.  One word of caution though, having the reception at your home will not necessarily save you money due to the cost of renting tables, chairs, tent, etc.  Just remember if an outdoor ceremony and/or reception is what you desire, have a back-up plan due to inclement weather.  Nothing can put a damper on your wedding day like being caught in a downpour!

Something Borrowed, Something Chewed - Part 2

by Valerie DiVecchio 11. July 2009 14:07
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Okay, so you decided that maybe your dog(s) and/ or cat(s) might act like mine and potentially be a disaster at your wedding, but you still want to incorporate them in your special day.  There are ways to do that while your furry loved ones remain in the comfort of their own home.  According to "Healthy Pet" magazine, there are several ways to accomplish this:

1) Include your pet on the wedding invitation (I think it may be more appropriate to do this for the Save the Date Cards; invitations tend to be a little more formal)

2) In lieu of flowers, make a donation to an animal shelter on behalf of your guests (Or maybe in lieu of favors - see my blog on 'Favors with a Cause')

3) Let your pet add fun to the reception like naming the tables after different locations you have visited and displayed a photo with your dog at those places.

4) Add your pet as the cake topper or maybe make the grooms cake in the shape of your pet.

And I'll add one last one not in the magazine, include your pet in your engagement photo shoot.  Then use one of the photos as a signature board for your sign-in table.  Speaking from experience... if you have hyperactive pets, but sure to take them for long walks before the photo shoot starts to get them nice and tired.   And bring a squeaky toy for the photographer to get their attention.  After about 3 hours on our photo shoot we finally got one nice family picture!

                                                 

Something Borrowed, Something Chewed

by Valerie DiVecchio 8. July 2009 20:48
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Cute title, huh?  Wish I could take credit, but it was actually an article in the "Healthy Pet" magazine that we receive quarterly from our veterinarian.  It contained some great advice on including your pet in your wedding.  Now, there are some pluses to incorporating your furry loved one into your ceremony, but there are also some cons.  You need to really know your pet well and know where their limitations lie.  If you have never had your pet around a crowd of people, this is probably not the best way to test them.  I adore my dogs to death, but I could pretty much predict disaster if I tried to get my hyperactive Jack Russell to be the ring bearer!  So to ensure that your pet will work well in this setting, solid planning is critical.

1) Obviously first you need to make sure that your venue is pet-friendly.  Not all places like the idea of dogs and/or cats in their facility.

2) Designate an "escort" to be responsible for your pet during the entire event.  This person would have the important tasks of taking the pet out for bathroom breaks, getting water and most importantly, remove him/her from the scene if it gets too overwhelming.

3) Have a Plan B... no matter how many times you practice pets can be unpredictable.  They make refuse to walk down the aisle or may try to run in a different direction.  Having a wagon or being carried in a basket is a great back-up plan in case the dog or cat simply refuses to do what you practiced.

Later this week I will give some advice on how to incorporate your pet in your wedding if you prefer for him/her to be in the comfort of their own home.  For now I'll leave you with a picture of why my dogs will never be allowed near any of my events!

    

Ouch... the Sunburn!

by Valerie DiVecchio 6. July 2009 10:05
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I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend!  I know I enjoyed it spending time at my sister's house further down south the West Coast, but today I am unfortunately paying for the lapse of judgment on not using enough sunscreen.  I thought I did the right thing by applying sunscreen to my upper body before heading out for a day on the water in a boat, but the lower part of my body was overlooked.  I figured I was going to be sitting on a boat, who needs to worry about your legs, right?  Wrong!  So as I gingerly edged out of bed this morning and thought there were a million needles being stuck into my legs, my thoughts were drawn to the many brides I see make the same mistake.

I don't know about you, but I tend to feel healthier when I have a little color (I know, not the case, but I said "feel" not believe!).  And I try to warn brides not to lay out in the sun too close to their wedding day just in case of incidences like this one.  Sunburn can be extremely painful (not to mention not the most attractive) and who wants to walk down the aisle like a 90 year old lady?!  But many brides or bridesmaids decide a day frolicking on the beach and in the water is a great way to spend the day before the ceremony - and it is a lot of fun - but be sure to use a waterproof, sweat proof sunscreen and reapply it frequently.  It's also a good idea to use a higher SPF than you think you need.  Those who come to Florida for their destination wedding do not realize how strong the sun is here... and often times those of us who live here forget that too! 

If you do not want to risk the sunburn or the tan lines (especially if you are wearing a strapless dress!), there is the spray tan alternative.  It is very natural looking - if you go to a professional who knows what they are doing - and will last about 5-7 days.  Just remember, when you go on your honeymoon don't think you already have a natural base tan so you decide to go easy on the sunscreen otherwise you'll be the same shade of lobster as me when the spray tan fades!

A Favor With A Cause

by Valerie DiVecchio 23. June 2009 21:23
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Wedding favors are great, but honestly a person only needs one wine stopper and all of that candy - although delicious - can lead you astray from the healthy eating lifestyle you keep vowing to stick to over and over.  For an alternative consider making a donation to a favorite charity - maybe one that you volunteer for or benefitted someone you know in the past or one that focus on research of a disease that you lost a loved one to.  To signify your donation, print up cards that let guests know you have made a donation in their honor to XYZ charity and a brief description about the services that they provide to those in need.  It's something that you, and your guests, can feel really good about.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned (Same Goes for Several Thousand Bucks!)

by Valerie DiVecchio 22. June 2009 10:38
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Recently I met with a couple who is getting married in the spring of 2010.  They were considering whether or not to hire a wedding planner.  The bride was a little skeptical, which I don't blame her with all of the reality television shows these days, wedding planners aren't always portrayed in a very positive light.  We spent about an hour and a half together one evening and at the end of the meeting they signed a contract.  And then came the phone call the next morning.

The groom called to tell me that it was "World War III" when the bride told her mother that they had hired me.  The mom, not knowing what value a planner can bring to the table, was very upset and thought that her daughter was only wanting her money and not wanting to include her mother in the planning process (so not true because she had told me that her mother was going to be very involved).  Under pressure, the bride buckled and the groom called to ask if they could get out of their contract.  "Not a problem", I said, after all I had only met with them about 12 hours before and I hadn't done any work for them as of yet. 

I saw the bride and groom again at a networking event recently and asked how the planning was going.  They commented on how expensive everything was, but they had finally found a venue.  I am very familiar with the venue that they selected and I have a great working relationship with the people there.  I asked if they were comfortable with the contract that they signed and she told me the details.  Come to find out, although they are getting married on a Sunday evening, they were charged with a Saturday evening food and beverage minimum!  Without a planner, they did not know that you can save money by having your event on a Friday or Sunday versus a Saturday.  I congratulated them and gave them my best wishes for a wonderful wedding.

What I didn't tell them was that I have a client who is getting married around the same time that they are at the SAME VENUE and I was able to negotiate a food and beverage minimum that was $5,000 LOWER than theirs.  And this couple IS having it on a Saturday night!  I knew better than to tell them about this because the last thing I want to do is make someone upset, but I did think that it would be good advice for my blog readers.  Sometimes when considering hiring a planner, look at it as an investment.  One that will save you time, stress and money... I don't know about you, but to me it sounds like a solid choice!

Cool Ideas for Hot Summer Ceremonies

by Valerie DiVecchio 16. June 2009 16:00
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As we enter into the hot Florida summer months, there are still plenty of brides who want to have their wedding ceremonies outside enjoying the sun, fresh air and the gorgeous view of the Gulf or garden.  And while it is picture perfect, the heat can sometimes be a little too hot to handle.  Here are some cool ideas on how to keep you and your guests more comfortable:

1)  It's not customary to serve drinks to your guests prior to a wedding ceremony, however, when the ceremony is outside it is a good idea to have pitchers of water (at a minimum) for guests to keep hydrated.  You can even get water bottles with customized labels.  Or consider spicing it up a bit by including lemonade, fruit punch or even a non-alcoholic signature drink. 

2) Turn your ceremony program into a fan.  There are lots of great styles of fans that serve a dual function - keep you cool and informed!  List your bridal party names, key information, the outline of the ceremony just like a normal program, but this one will let your guests keep a cool head!

3) Provide flips flops... ceremonies on the sand are a perk of having them in Florida, but that sand can be hot on the feet.  Purchasing a wide range of flip flops sizes that match your color scheme can help the feet and double as a favor.  You can even have them personalized with your names and wedding date!

Divine Creations On YouTube!

by Valerie DiVecchio 15. June 2009 15:34
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Earlier this month I was featured on Fox 13's Good Day Tampa Bay on a story about how to save money while planning your wedding.  Thanks to technology and my wonderful husband who understands that technology, the segment is now on YouTube.  Check it out:



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Weddings

Felicia and Mike

by Valerie DiVecchio 9. June 2009 15:47
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This past Saturday, I had the honor and privilege of assisting with Felicia and Mike's wedding.  I have been working with them since last August and it's amazing to see a couple's vision come to reality and know that you helped play a part in it.  The wedding ceremony and reception was at the Sheraton Riverwalk Hotel in downtown Tampa.  Their new ballroom sits right along the water and has a great view of the University of Tampa.  Their colors were chocolate brown and pink, and they incorporated a lot of little touches that really made the wedding special.

One example of those special touches were the way they did the place cards.  Felicia's mom, Pat, put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears working on those place cards, but it was well worth it for they were a huge hit.  Each place card was actually a pink votive candle in a glass holder.  On the glass had the guest's name and table number as well as a ribbon that indicated their entree selection (all color coordinated with the wedding colors, of course).  As the guests picked up their place card and came into the room, the staff lit their candles as they were seated which created a very romantic and elegant atmosphere.  As I was setting up the room on Saturday, there was a site tour being done for another bride who was considering using the venue and her parents were fascinated with the place cards.  As I've said before, it's often the little touches that leave a lasting impression.

Felicia and Mike wanted it to be a party after dinner was finished and partied they did!  They purchased fun props and gave them to the DJ to distribute.  As the evening went on and so did the drinking, out came the fun sunglasses, glow sticks and Hawaiian leis. The guests had a ball and the dance floor was hopping!  I even sported a pair of funky blue sunglasses that the photographer caught on camera... I know I'm going to have to bribe him to delete that one!

At the end of the evening was my favorite part... huge smiles and thank yous from Felicia and Mike, as well as their parents and guests.  I love what I do, and to be able to help make someone's wedding day be memorable and stress-free is an amazing feeling!

                             

    

The Wrong Kind of Wedding Planner...

by Valerie DiVecchio 25. May 2009 16:39
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I was able to relax over this nice, long, three day Memorial Day weekend - a rare thing in this industry.  I was finally able to catch up on some shows that have been piling up on the Tivo.  I know, I know... what a waste of a weekend, right?!  So anyway, I was watching the season finale of Ghost Whisperer and much to my dismay, there it was... the "stereotypical" wedding planner. 

So for those of you who don't watch the show, let's back up.  Melinda was married to Jim.  Jim was shot and killed, but instead of crossing over, his spirit jumped into the body of another guy who died, Sam.  So now Jim is Sam and for most of the season, Jim had no memory of his old life.  And then, poof, after Sam has a near death experience, Sam thinks he is Jim again, but yet looks like Sam.  So now that Sam, er Jim, remembers Melinda and their love for each other, they are getting married again because Jim looks like Sam.  Confused yet?

Now to the point I was trying to make... Melinda's mother hires her a wedding planner as a gift.  Great gesture, except that this guy - who by the way calls himself the ambassador of love - shows up and the first thing he says is "don't worry about a thing, it's my wedding now".  Yikes!  What the heck is that all about??  So if there are any people out there who think that is what a wedding planner is all about, let me set the record straight.

If you meet any wedding planner - or any vendor for that matter - who wants to take over your wedding, run - do not walk - away as fast as you can!  I've been in this business over twelve years and I would never dream of taking over.  From the initial consultation, I make it very clear that the couple makes all of the decisions themselves, I am there to offer guidance and advice based on my experience and expertise.  I assist with making my clients' dream come true because it is their wedding day - not mine!

Unfortunately television loves to put a spin on things, that's after all what makes people tune in.  I just wish someone would make these shows a little more realistic.  So if there are any TV execs out there listening... I'm available for a consultation!

The Perfect Height

by Valerie DiVecchio 22. May 2009 15:47
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When picking out a wedding cake, it is much like picking out a work of art.  That cake will be in the spotlight, as well as MANY of your photographs.  But how tall is too tall and how short is too short?

General rule of thumb is that if your venue has a high ceiling, you can have height on your cake as well, but only if you have enough people so that the number of servings is proportionate.  Obviously, you don't want a six tier wedding cake if you only have 100 guests... unless you want to eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner until your first anniversary!  Any great bakery can tell you how many servings each tier feeds, and if you want to add height, but not necessarily an enormous amount of cake, consider placing fresh flowers in between each layer.  You can also have a topper that adds some height, as well as a cake riser. 

Now let's say you are having a small to medium sized wedding reception, or that your venue has normal height ceilings where a tall cake would look awkward.  You may only need two or three tiers on the cake (assuming that you plan to keep and freeze the top tier).  This is perfectly fine too.  There is one very important thing to consider if you or your fiance(e) is tall however.  Make sure that your cake is place at least as high as your line of sight.  A cake riser is a great solution here as well.  What you want to avoid is all of the pictures being taken of the top of your head as you cut the cake.  This way the camera catches your smiling faces instead!

Here are some examples of cakes from weddings I have planned:

          

4 Seats Left!

by Valerie DiVecchio 18. May 2009 10:13
Share on FacebookJust a reminder that our free educational seminar will be held this Wednesday, May 20th at the Divine Creations studio from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.  This is a great opportunity for brides and grooms who are not working with a wedding planner to get some guidance and advice from an expert in the field.  Absolutely no cost to attend!  Simply call 813-839-5824 or e-mail info@tampaeventplanner.com to reserve your seat.

Stick To What You Know...

by Valerie DiVecchio 5. May 2009 10:27
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At the April seminar, one of the brides who attended confided with the group that she was indeed working with a wedding planner.  I was a little surprised because why come to the seminar if you have hired someone to personally guide you through the process?  Well, come to find out her "wedding planner" (and I use that term loosely) was also her caterer.  And if that wasn't bad enough, this person does not have a commercial kitchen... she cooks out of her home!  I don't know about you, but I don't think those two things are even remotely connected.  In fact, I can plan an excellent event, but you would not want me anywhere near the kitchen... just ask my husband!  And obviously the same could be said about her "planner"... this person is the sole reason why the bride has had to postpone her wedding!

So that got me to thinking about the businesses that are out there who offer multiple services, and some of which are not really connected at all.  Wouldn't you want to hire someone who focuses 100% of their time on being the best at what they do?  But if they do 3 totally separate things, obviously their attention and experience is split.  Yes, I know those are the companies that claim they can save you lots of money, but remember what mama used to say, "you get what you pay for".  Sometimes those "savings" are more expensive than you ever imagined when it means to have to hire another caterer, resend invitations and postpone your entire wedding.

Educational Seminar a Success!

by Valerie DiVecchio 4. May 2009 12:40
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I'm pleased to report that our first educational seminar was a great sucess!  There were four people present and we had a great time.  It was wonderful to have brides who were at different stages of their wedding planning - all the way from just getting engaged through their wedding being in about three months.  On the questionnaire forms that were provided at the end of the seminar, comments for the question "what did you like best" included "everything", "there was a lot of good information" and "it was very light hearted; it was great". 

So back by popular demand, our next free educational Wedding Planning 101 seminar will be held on May 20th from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Divine Creations studio in South Tampa.  Seating is limited so if you, or someone you know, is interested, please be sure to call 813-839-5824 or e-mail info@tampaeventplanner.com to reserve a seat!

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

by Valerie DiVecchio 29. April 2009 10:57
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We've been hearing about "going green" for years as a way to help save our Earth's resources, and today, green or organic weddings are a strong trend.  More and more couples are excited to incorporate eco-friendly ideas into their wedding ceremonies and receptions.  There are many ways to acoomplish this, including:

1) Save some trees by using recycled paper goods for invitations, announcements and stationary.  An increasing number of suppliers are carrying recycled, handmade and tree-free invitations.

2) Considering using plants instead of cut flowers for centerpieces.  Guests can then plant them when they return home and as your love grows over time, so does the plant!

3) Favors can be packets of plant or tree seeds, or organic chocolates and candies.

4) Decorate with nature... Incorporate eco-friendly fabrics into your decor such as bamboo and natural cottons.  You can also opt to use branches, greenery, stones and seashells as decor.  Also for venues, the great outdoors is often already decorated thanks to Mother Nature and make beautiful ceremony sites!

Going green has a lot of benefits besides being environmentally friendly.  It can help save money during these tough economic times and be inspirational as well.  Whether you incorporate small touches or go green all the way, Mother Earth will thank you!

Do You Know...

by Valerie DiVecchio 21. April 2009 17:25
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I'm always fascinated by the history behind traditions.  There are certain traditions that we all take for granted in a wedding; things such as the first dance, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss.  How did these things come about?  Well, I decided to incorporate some wedding trivia into my blog.  So for fun fact number one and two... here we go!

Do you know the tradition behind wearing a veil?   In America, Nellie Curtis, the daughter of Martha Curtis Washington, reportedly started the tradition of wearing a white lace veil after her fiance caught a glimpse of her through a lace-curtained window.

Do you know why the bride and bridesmaids carry bouquets?  Early bouquets were made of pungent herbs such as rosemary and garlic - not flowers.  The smell was supposed to drive away any evil spirits eyeing the bridal party.  (Here's hoping the smell didn't also drive away the groom!) 

I hope you find these trivia facts interesting and thanks to The Bride's Book of Etiquette by the editors of Bride's Magazine for sharing them.  And now you know!

Personalizing Your Guest Tables

by Valerie DiVecchio 13. April 2009 14:46
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Much like real estate is location, location location... wedding planning is details, details, details.  Adding even the smallest detail to personalize your wedding to fit your style or personality can make a lasting impression. 

One example of personalizing your guest tables is to use table names instead of numbers.  The names can be places or things that are meaningful to you as a couple.  Maybe they are places you have visited together or special songs that have a "story" behind it.  So for example, let's say you have visited Rome together, the table name can simply be Rome or maybe The Coliseum or Trevi Fountain.  And to add another detail to personalize it even further, you can place a picture of the two of you in that country or at that landmark next to that table name.  Or if it's the song method you prefer, you can write up a brief summary of the meaning behind the song's importance and attach it to the table name.  It's a great way for your guests to learn even more about your relationship through these special personal touches.

If you found this tip to be interesting, be sure to register for the free educational seminar being held on April 21st from 6 - 7:30 p.m. so you can learn more ways to personalize and customize your wedding.  Simply call 813-839-5824 to reserve a seat!

The Newest Color Trend for 2009

by Valerie DiVecchio 7. April 2009 13:05
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The results are in and the hottest new color for weddings according to major bridal publications is gray!  That's right, gray.  It's hip, it's neutral and it can be combined with any other color and look fabulous!  I know what you're thinking, "but that can be a depressing color".  Maybe so, but remember that's what people said about chocolate brown which became a major trend of 2007-2008.  It's all about using these colors in the right way.

Consider using metals such as silver, aluminum and brushed nickel to express the color gray.  Incorporating a brushed nickel urn or candelabras into your centerpiece or placing silver charger plates at your guests' seats would bring in this color as a beautiful accent without being dreary or drab.  And what's great about gray is that it would fit in whether you wanted a vintage feel or a cool and contemporary look.

If you found this tip to be interesting, be sure to register for the free educational seminar being held on April 21st from 6 - 7:30 p.m. so you can find out more about the newest trends for weddings.  Simply call 813-839-5824 to reserve a seat!

Free Educational Seminar... No Fooling!

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. April 2009 16:04
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I know it's April Fools Day, but this is no joke!  I will be hosting a Wedding Planning 101 educational seminar in my studio on Tuesday, April 21st from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.  I understand that times are a little tougher, but that shouldn't mean you have to sacrifice your dream wedding.  Topics will include: how to set a budget, how to identify quality vendors, cost saving tips and techniques, timeline and strategies to wedding planning, and how to personalize and customize your wedding.  There will also be an opportunity for a question and answer session.

Seating is limited so reservations are required.  Simply call 813-839-5824 to reserve your seat!

Lucky Charms

by Valerie DiVecchio 15. November 2008 09:17
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I had the pleasure of coordinating Ali and Helena's wedding at the Don CeSar recently.  Two talented and dedicated physicians who truly respect and love each other.   The weather was beautiful, the setting divine and the bride was relaxed and glowing.  The ceremony went off without a hitch.  After the ceremony, guests were escorted to the cocktail hour and the bridal party remained in the courtyard for pictures.  Ali and Helena couldn't wait to get to the beach for sunset pictures, but also wanted some formal shots on the staircase.  Almost to the end of the formal pictures, Helena was doing a couple of solo bridal shots with her train and cathedral length veil cascading down the stairs.  And then it happened... a bird pooped on her dress.  Myself and the bridesmaids all rushed over to clean it off and with a few paper towels and white chalk from my emergency kit, the dress looked like new again.  Being in this industry for many years now, I know that some brides would have stressed out and had a melt down over something like this.  Not Helena, she laughed and said "they say it's good luck when this happens!".  IMG_1756

So off to the beach we went for sunset pictures.  And then it happened again.  It had not rained at all that day and as the sun was setting, a perfect rainbow formed directly over the hotel.  It was amazing.  With all of the good luck charms Helena and Ali were having, I thought about running over and checking for a pot of gold!  Helena was absolutely delighted by the rainbow, as were we all.  Reflecting on what happened in the course of an hour, I realized that had Helena not reacted the way that she did with the bird "situation", she may never had seen her rainbow.

So the moral of the story is... on your wedding day, you can't control everything - especially nature - so find the positive in everything that makes your day yours.  Those are the things that you will remember forever and make the best stories to tell your future kids!  

'Tis the Season

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. September 2008 17:50
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In the event industry, everyone knows when summer comes to an end... the phones start ringing off the hook!  And in the last week it appears that we have entered into the event season once again.

I have been speaking and meeting with many prospective clients recently and I often get asked "I want to get married in three months, is that enough time to plan something?".  Absolutely!  Obviously the more time you have to plan, the more options you have available to you.  But for many different reasons some people don't want to wait as long - and that's okay.  Whether you have 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years to plan, a professional planner can help you achieve the perfect style and vision you want for your day.

So before you stress and think time is running out, call me.  I'm here to help.

Asking the Right Questions

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. August 2008 21:33
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In my opinion, hiring the best vendors who are professional, reputable and top notch in their industry is one of the easiest ways to ensure a successful event.  As an event planner, I do my best to match up my clients with the vendor who will best fit their personality, style and budget. 

With weddings I offer several levels of involvement, one of which is the day-of wedding coordination package.  This works well for couples who want to plan their own wedding, but don't want to stress on their big day.  With a day-of coordination client, I generally start getting into the action about 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding day.  When we meet, the client already has secured their own vendors and has contracts for the services they require.  Sometimes I am unfamiliar with the vendors they have selected, but I am fine with that; there are many talented professionals in the Tampa Bay area and I enjoy meeting them and broadening my network for future clients.

Unfortunately there are also individuals that say they are professionals, but when asked the right questions, you find out that is not really the case.  Recently I had a day-of client have the unfortunate experience of her photographer backing out... two weeks before the wedding.  He referred them to a friend of his who was also a professional (and I use that term loosely) photographer.  The bride had concerns, but since she lives out of state, felt like there were not many options.  She called me and asked for some advice.  I could hear the hesitation in her voice, but trying not to alarm her any more than she was, I offered to call the new photographer since I had never worked with him before and ask some follow up questions.

When I spoke with the photographer I asked a few very simple questions:  1) How long have you been doing this professionally; 2) is this your full-time profession; 3) do you have a business license with the city/ county; 4) do you carry insurance; and 5) how many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer - not someone's assistant.  His answers went something like this: 1) One year; 2) No, I have a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job; 3) I'm registered with the State of Florida - not what I asked, and then I found out he didn't know that he needed a license; 4) No insurance; and 5) Maybe a dozen or so.  As a professional, red flags were waving brightly in my face.  I called my client back and let her know the questions that I asked, the reason I asked those questions and his answers. 

Question #1 is obvious - hands-on experience is what makes a professional a true professional.  We all have to start out somewhere, but if you think you know it all, and can do it all, after one year in business, there's a problem.  I've been doing this 12 years and I learn new things all the time.  You can learn only so much through books, experience is what will take you to the next level.  Question #2 - if you can't support yourself with doing what you love as a profession, it's a hobby.  Unless you can dedicate yourself to improving your skills, learning new things and polishing technique 100% of the time, you just can't be all that you can be.  Question #3 - basically, if you don't have a license you're operating your business illegally.  Question #4 - all vendors should carry general liability insurance at a minimum.  Additionally, professional liability and workers compensation insurance are also a very good idea.  What if your photographer leaves his equipment where someone can trip over it?  If he/she doesn't have insurance that person who fell can sue you.  What if the photographer stood on a chair to take a picture and he/she fell?  That's right, your photographer could sue you.  And what if the photographer didn't take proper care of his/ her equipment and it is faulty?  That means not only do you not get your pictures, but also if you sue them, with no insurance, you won't get any compensation either.  Insurance is expensive for vendors to carry, but it's also what separates the professionals from the rookies.  And lastly question #5 - You can't recreate your wedding day and pictures are one of the only ways you can capture those moments and preserve them.  If the person who is responsible for capturing these memories isn't as qualified as they portray themselves being, you are going to be highly disappointed in your photos and that, unfortunately, will be the lasting impression of your wedding day.

I told my client that it was 100% her and her fiance's decision, but if she wasn't sure that she wanted to use this photographer, I would help her find another.  She spoke with her fiance and they decided to go with someone else.  I truly believe that in hindsight they will thank their original photographer for doing them a favor by backing out. 

When hiring vendors without the advice of an event planner, please be sure to do your research.  Ask the right questions, and don't settle for anything less than the best.  There are great, high quality vendors in every budget range out there... don't give up until you find the right one for you. 

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Valerie DiVecchio Valerie DiVecchio

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Divine Creations

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