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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!

Myth Buster!

by Valerie DiVecchio 10. July 2014 08:43
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As a professional event planner, I hear people talk about their preceptions around events, especially the cost of items.  I get it... planning events can be costly.  But if you're going in with something that you believe is true when in fact it's it the opposite, it can be a costly mistake.  So I decided that one of the things I can do to help you is bust the myths!

One of the biggest myths I hear people say all the time is that a buffet is less expensive than a plated dinner.  In fact, unless you're serving filet mignon and lobster for the plated meal and chicken wings and mac and cheese on the buffet, the opposite is true.  While it does help cut costs on your service personnel (and by only maybe one or two servers), what people do not count into the equation is that more food needs to be prepared for a buffet than a plated meal.  Why?  Because in a buffet you have people who will go up for seconds and maybe even thirds!  More food = more money.

So if you're set on serving a chicken entree and a seafood entree, you would be better to go with a duo plated dinner than a buffet cost-wise.  And when planning a fabulous event, we all know it comes does to dollars and sense... so here's hoping this makes sense and helps to bust the myth!

Pinterest... Friend or Foe?

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. July 2014 10:05
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Pinterest is all the craze these days - especially when it comes to wedding or party planning.  The concept behind Pinterest is brillant.  There are thousands and thousands of pictures to shift through giving you unique and different ideas and for that it's a friend.  However, like every social media site there can be some cons.

It used to only be magazines that event planners had to educate clients on another brillant invention called PhotoShop.  In today's world of digital photography, it could be a gray, rainy day, but in the pictures it's all rainbows and sunshine.  As I say, you can slap a horn on a horse and call it a unicorn, but it's still just a horse with a horn!  Well, PhotoShop has made it's way onto the internet (I mean, hey, if you can get a headshot at the age of 40 and have it look like you have no wrinkles, why not!  Just sayin'...).  And some of those pictures on Pinterest have been touched up or refreshed.  So it's back to educating we go... yes, that's doable, however, that absolute perfect shade of pink you see in the picture may vary somewhat in your flowers because Mother Nature doesn't work with PhotoShop!

Another other downside depends on an individual's personality style.  Let's say you have this vision in your head of what your perfect wedding day looks like and then go on Pinterest and your vision starts to change.... and so does your budget, and it's generally not in your pocketbook's favor.  Or you meet with your florist and design out the entire layout of your arrangements then you see something on Pinterest that completely changes your mind and you start from scratch again.  Here's my word of advice if you tend to be a little indecisive at times... go on Pinterest before you meet with your vendors, print pics for inspiration (which are fantastic for any designer!), be clear about the look you're going for (yet be flexible in case you pick something that's way out of your budget so you can select an alternative) and then don't go back to Pinterest until after your event is over!

So don't get me wrong, there is definite value in Pinterest and any other social media site, but like everything, use it in moderation and don't believe immediately everything you see.  And when you see that floral arrangement that's black in color, and you think to yourself... that's kind of cool, could that be real?  Hear my voice whisper.... no.....

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!

A New June Resolution?

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. June 2014 20:46
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Honestly I don't even remember if I made a New Year's Resolution this year.  And if I did, since I don't remember, I probably broke it by now.  Seeing that the last time I blogged was last November, I decided that I can do a mid-year resolution... if I am determined to keep it - which I am!  So my new resolution is that starting June 1st, I am going to get back to blogging at least once a week.  Whew, considering today is June 1st, I have made it at least a week! 

So here's my promise to you... I'm going to blog once a week in order to bring you new trends, old trends that are coming back, creative and unique ideas, important information and share current client happenings!  And if more than a week goes by, you can absolutely bombard me with e-mails until I post again.  Trust me, that's motivation right there!

So welcome to June!  Time to get some sun, have some fun and BLOG, BLOG, BLOG!




A Date to Remember

by Valerie DiVecchio 7. November 2013 09:40
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I know what you're thinking... no, Valerie, it's A DAY to Remember.  Well, I'm actually looking at it a little differently. 

You might have been hearing lately that next Tuesday is going to be a big day for weddings.  Generally speaking, not a ton of weddings happen on a Tuesday.  The date of next Tuesday however is November 12, 2013.... get it... 11/12/13.  Ever since 2007 when 7/7/07 became "the" wedding day - even for celebrities like Eva Longoria - the industry has seen a spike in consecutive days.  Some people think that it is a sign of good luck and for others its hopefully a sign that your fiance will never forget your anniversary!

If you love the idea of being married on a consecutive date and have no plans to get married next Tuesday, never fear there is one more date left for this century... 12/13/14.  And a huge bonus, it falls on a Saturday!! It's going to be the hottest wedding day next year!  If that appeals to you, be warned... you need to start planning like yesterday and first step is to hire the wedding planner who gave you this idea!


5 Ways to Spot Deception

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. October 2013 12:17
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"Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" - Sir Walter Scott.  A little white lie never hurt anybody, right?  Well, when you are preparing for your wedding day, that couldn't be further from the truth.  And no, I'm not talking about between you and your fiance/ fiancee (although this definitely pertains to that too!), I'm talking about between you and the vendors you are looking to hire for your picture perfect day.

You do your due diligence, research your vendors and pick those you want to interview.  How can you tell if what they are telling you is the truth or something you want to hear?  I've said time and time again... if it's not in writing, it does not exist.  If they promise you the moon, but refuse to put it in writing - RUN, don't walk to the nearest exit!  That's just setting up to be a disaster.  Remember what mama said... "if it's too good to be true, it probably is!".

But is there a way to potentially figure out if someone is being truthful when you sit down for that initial interview.  According to Robin Lavitch of Surpass Your Goal, a local coaching, consulting and training firm, there are ways to increase your awareness when dealing with vendors who might not be the most ethical.

5 ways to spot deception:

1.  Change in hand gestures:  Men will contain their movements, while women will increase their movements.

2.  Shifting positions:  The lower part of the body will provide cues to deception with increases in shuffling feet, legs will cross and uncross, and an overall wiggle or squiggle when sitting.

3. Face touching:  Touching the nose (Pinocchio's nose) or even covering the mouth when speaking.

4.  Tone changes in speech:  The tone is higher at the end of a sentence when someone is being deceptive and they may struggle to get the words out so they may stutter and stammer more.

5.  Maximizing body touches:  Someone who is deceptive will demonstrate pacifying behaviors.  Those are behaviors that we exhibit to reduce our own nervousness, such as chin stroking, hair grooming, lip licking, or eyebrow scratching.

Robin recommends being cautious that these signals are indicative of increased anxiety or nervousness which is an avenue to spot deception.  But do be aware that not everyone who scratches their nose is trying to deceive you... it just might be an itchy nose!  It's more about looking at a series of behaviors.

There are tons of vendors out there what have your best interests at heart, but unfortunately in my 16 years worth of experience in the industry, I've run across a few who can be classified as "shady".  I'm not suggesting that you become skeptical of every vendor you meet, but maybe with a little more knowledge you can be totally comfortable that everything you envision for your wedding will come true thanks to hiring reliable and trustworthy vendors!

For more information on Robin's upcoming classes and services, check out her website at


The Expo is Over - Now What? (Part 4 of 4)

by Valerie DiVecchio 2. August 2013 09:41
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Whew... the trade show is over.  Now all you have to do it sit back and wait for the phone to ring, right?  Uh, no.  As the Carpenters would say... it's only just begun (I just dated myself right there, didn't I?).  To find out what to do after the expo is over, visit:  to find out what to do to turn those prospects into customers!!


It's Expo Day! Part 3 of Creating Success at Trade Shows

by Valerie DiVecchio 22. July 2013 10:31
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The big day has arrived!  You've put all this time and energy into making sure you are at the right trade show, in front of your target market, and creating great buzz (if you missed part 2 - click here:  But all of that is for not if you don't do everything in your power to make a great first impression and leave a lasting impression! 

All the prep work is done, and now it is expo day!!!

Follow these couple tips to ensure a productive and smooth running day.

· Unload: When you arrive at the event, know where and how you will be unloading and delivering material to your booth. Do you need to bring your own cart/dolly or will one be available? Are there people to assist in the unloading and set up of your booth? After unloading, where should you park and is there a fee for parking?

· Set up: Prepare in advance how you want each component of your booth to look; know where tables, signage, and props will be placed so that it can be set up by anyone, in case you run into an issue. You may want to stage a dry run of your set up, and take photos and have them available the day of to ensure easy set up. Also, find out in advance where you can store empty containers and packing material, if needed, to maintain the professionalism of your booth.

· Staff: Have ample staff scheduled and emphasize the importance of being on time (some expos will pull your booth if you are not there on time). People at the event will walk away if there is a long line or no one to speak with when they come to your booth. Do know, you NEVER want to leave the booth unattended.. In your scheduling, consider breaks and meals, as well as time for the people to walk the floor.

At some events, there may be limitation on soliciting outside the booth area, but if your event does not have those limitations, when slow, your extra staff can help engage the participants and encouraging them to visit your booth.

· Closing time: The hours posted to the public are the hours which your booth should be set up and fully staffed, ready to share your company brand. By breaking down early and leaving an empty booth, the perception of the company by the attendees could be that you are not committed to fulfilling your obligations.

Next week, Tiffanie will wrap it up with what you need to do after the event is over.  That's right, just because the event is done, it doesn't mean that you are... you're only just starting!


Trade Shows and Expos - Preparing for Success

by Valerie DiVecchio 15. July 2013 11:55
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Last week I shared an article about how to determine which trade shows or expos might be the right fit for your business.  Now that you decided it's a great fit, read the next section on how to prepare your business for the event day and create buzz for your company at:

Later this week, I'll be blogging on the next step - event day!


How to Create SUCCESS for your Business with Expos

by Valerie DiVecchio 4. July 2013 15:26
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A colleague and friend of mine, Tiffanie Kellog, the owner of Thread Art, a promotional products company, and I sat down to write this article because we see time and time again companies make critical mistakes when exhibiting at a trade show or expo.  Companies invest time and money trying to put their best foot forward, and sometimes they just fall flat.  With our combined experience, we wanted to write this article to help companies succeed in making a lasting impression and making more money!

Trade shows and Expos are abundant throughout the community, and can be a powerful way for companies to market their business... when done correctly. Unfortunately, many companies that have a booth to promote their business make one or many mistakes, which keep them from reaching their full potential for success with the event. There are several considerations when deciding whether or not to participate in the trade show, and how best to work the event.

The first step is to decide whether or not you participate in the event. A question you will want answered is: “Are the people attending prospective clients of mine?” If the answer is no, then this is not the most effective use of your marketing dollars. If the answer is yes, you will want to determine your break even point, i.e., how many clients would you need from the event to cover the investment of participating?  Taking that number, ask yourself if it is realistic to gain that many clients from this type of event. You may need to ask the event coordinator a few additional determining questions, such as:

  • How many people are expected to attend? (and is this a number based on previous year’s attendees, ticket sales or a guess)
  • What is the size of the booth and what is provided? (if you need electricity or wi-fi, is it available? And is there an additional cost?)
  • Do you get to pick your booth location?
  • Is there a ticket price for entrance or is it free to the public?
  • What other activities will be happening during the event? (such as seminars, demonstrations, shows)

Once you have all the details, you are better informed to answer the question: “What is the best way to stand out amongst the crowd?” The first thing to consider is the layout of your booth; this can be crucial in attracting people to you, thus giving you a higher success rate of interaction with your prospective clients. Some points to consider:

  • Include samples of your product or photos of your services to view
  • Display your company’s name & logo predominately
  • Adequately staff the booth with people in proper attire with fresh breath
  • Have the supplies to properly assemble your space (ie, extension cords, scissor, tape, fishing wire, etc) to look great
  • Create an inviting space to communicate with prospects. Do not have the staff hidden behind the table, sitting in chair or have people eating, smacking gum, or playing on cell phones
  • Don’t overwhelm people with too much clutter
  • Develop a plan to engage the audience

Now that you know you want to participate in the trade show or exp, then what?  Well, you'll have to wait until next week and check out the next steps at because Tiffanie will share part 2 on her blog!



Twinkle, Twinkle Little Starfish

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. May 2013 15:47
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When Eric and Kelly came to Divine Creations to help plan their tropical paradise wedding at the Don Cesar, Kelly was very clear that starfish were key.  She loves starfish and it was extremely important to incorporate them into the decor of the wedding.  Of course, at Divine Creations, that's not a problem.  We love to fulfil each bride's wish!

The ceremony was held on the beach and while the skies threatened bad weather throughout theCeremony day, there was not a drop of rain to dampen the day.  The colors were orange, hot pink and lime green - talk about a tropical paradise!  The arch was constructed out of bamboo and sheer fabric was hung along the entire structure.  The fabric was tied around each pole by none other than a starfish.  Starfish hung from the chairs along the aisle while hot pink and orange rose petals filled the aisle and gently blew around in the wind.  Kelly's tropical bouquet was stunning and included a starfish as well as a sweet photo charm in which we inserted her father's picture as he was watching and smiling from heaven that day.

After the I Do's, Kelly and Eric got to party on down with their Brides Bouquetguests on the terrace which had lighted paper lanterns in their colors hung from the ceiling.  Around the room palm trees with hot pink uplighting matched perfectly with the centerpieces created by Divine Creations.  That's right, not only did we do the planning of this magical day, but we also provided all of the flowers! 

We are very honored to have been part of Kelly and Eric's dream wedding and are delighted that they loved everything about their special day.  That's why we do what we do... it's the look of relaxation and happiness that glow from our couples faces at the end of the night that keep us going!  

Arch Piece     Sweetheart Table

Low CP    Tall CP 2


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!



Radio Show Interview

by Valerie DiVecchio 13. February 2013 09:36
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I had the honor of being interviewed by Terri Bork of Extreme Marketing Concepts yesterday on her radio show "Go Mind Your Business".  Despite both of us being under the weather (hence the deep, low voice... for those of you who do not know me personally, I usually don't sound like that!), it was a totally fun and great experience.  Didn't think it would be easy to talk about myself for 40 minutes... but it wasn't as hard as I thought! :)  If you want to hear the interview, click on this link:

A special thank you to Terri for asking me to be a guest on her show.  If you need help in the marketing department, I would totally recommend Extreme Marketing Concepts.  Terri really knows her stuff!

2012: A Year in Review

by Valerie DiVecchio 6. February 2013 13:44
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Last week I blogged about 2012 being a busy but amazing year for Events by Divine Creations - in fact it was the best one yet!  I could spend tons of time telling you all about it, but hey, they say a picture's worth a thousand words, right?!  So without further ado, here are pictures from some of the great events we produced in 2012.  I wanted to put a lot more, but uploading them took so long I figured if I pushed my luck another year would go by without another post!

Picture #1: Marlin's Bat Mitzvah at the Tampa International Jet Center; Picture #2: Allison and Eric's Wedding at the Renaissance International Plaza; Picture #3: Stacey and Brendon's Wedding at Tampa Yacht and Country Club; Pictures #4-6: RNC Reception for WellCare Health Plans at a private residence on Bayshore Boulevard; Pictures #7 and 8: Focus on Females HealthCare Symposium at the Tampa Convention Center; Picture #9: Joyoti and Eugene's Wedding at the Dali Museum; Picture #10: Tamar and Paul's Wedding at the Marriott Waterside. 






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

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!

Where Did the Time Go?

by Valerie DiVecchio 30. January 2013 14:14
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I simply cannot believe that I haven't blogged since before the RNC!  The second half of the year was a complete whirlwind... large event for the City of Tampa, then the RNC came to town on top of more weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and corporate retreats and holiday parties.  2012 was the best year yet for Events by Divine Creations - well, in very way except for keeping up with social media... oops!  I'm currently going through all of my pictures in order to post "A Review of 2012" so be looking for me to post that up any day now - well, let's be honest... by early next week!

25 Day Countdown!

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. August 2012 16:03
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I know I've been a little slack on blogging lately, but I, like all of the other businesses in the hospitality industry, will blame it on the RNC!  Don't get me wrong - I'm so not complaining.  I'm extremely grateful that I get to play a part in planning one of the events happening that week, but the pressure is on!  25 days until it starts - eek!  If you haven't seen the logo that the Tampa Bay Business Journal created, it looks really cool.  Nothing against the official logo, but the elephant waving a pirate flag is #1 in my book!



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. 


Green Partying

by Valerie DiVecchio 5. July 2012 10:35
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No, I'm not talking about St. Patrick's Day green beer or the color of your face if you drink too much of it... I'm talking about throwing an eco-friendly party!  Being eco-friendly and going green are very in vogue these days.  We all care about the earth and its future so why not include some elements to reduce the environmental impact while you celebrate?!

Every December my husband and I have a party for the holidays where the same group of friends come together because with busy lives sometimes it's the only time we have to catch up once a year.  Years ago I started putting out the recycling bins next to the trash cans and posting signs saying "Santa Says Recycle".  It's an easy thing to do that makes a big difference... although when we put out the recycling bins on trash day, we're sure we get some comments as the neighbors drive by!

Another easy thing to do is send an electronic e-mail invitation using sites such as  They have cute graphics for pretty much any occasion and all you have to do is input your wording, import e-mail addresses and hit send!  Not only is it super easy, but it also saves you money and time but cutting out buying paper invitations, addressing all the envelopes and paying for postage.

This next tip takes a little extra time, but if we're taking being eco-friendly, it's a biggie.  Use regular plates and glasses instead of disposable ones.  If you have the storage, you could purchase "themed" dinner sets to be used year after year.  Or if your guest list outnumbers the plates in your cabinets, there are plenty of party rental companies that you can rent everything from plates to flatware to every kind of glass you can imagine. 

And my last tip that works for pretty much any party - use paper lanterns (light up or not) instead of balloons which are not often biodegradable.  They have a cool effect and come in a wide variety of colors.  They work for birthday parties, holiday parties - even weddings!  And they look fantastic strung over a patio or courtyard setting.

So now you have some tips as you look forward to Labor Day BBQs, Halloween parties and the upcoming holidays which are always full of festivities.  So party with an impact!

Corporate Events That Motivate Employees

by Valerie DiVecchio 7. June 2012 16:19
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Are you the one who hates to hear those 5 dreaded words come out of your boss's mouth... "Wanna plan the holiday party?"?  Well, here comes Divine Creations to the rescue!  From holiday parties to company retreats to customer appreciation days, we have some tips to help you shine and maybe even get that promotion you've been eyeing!

Money talks!  Before doing anything, find out what the budget is and an estimated headcount.  Are spouses or significant others going to be invited?  How about children?  The more people, the higher the costs because that's more food, more drinks, more tables which equal more linens, centerpieces... well, you get the picture.  You may plan the perfect party, but the boss won't be happy if you go over budget!

Location, location, location.  That's right... it's not just for real estate anymore.  Selecting the right location can make or break your party.  Before you pick a venue there are a couple of things to consider: what type of atmosphere are you wanting to create - elegant or festive?  Do you what to have a theme?  Is it more suited for a hotel ballroom or an outdoor attraction?  Does the senior management want to be able to address the guests or is it more of a mix and mingle?  All of these answers are going to help drive you to booking the right location.

Hire the right vendors.  Believe it or not, not everything you read on-line is true (except for this blog - it's all true!).  Anyone can pay to put up a good looking website, but are they qualified to cater your event or provide the type of entertainment you desire?  You definitely want to thoroughly research your vendor options.  How much experience do they have?  Do they have the proper licenses and insurance?  Ask for references - particularly corporate references.  It might not be as relevant if you speak to a bride.

Hire a professional to help you.  It's a common misperception that hiring an event planner is expensive.  In fact, 9 times out of 10 I save my clients' more money than what it costs to hire me.  By hiring a professional, you can convey your objectives and your vision and let the professional find all of the right pieces to put together to make that vision come to life.  I always chuckle when I think about a client (a large international Fortune 500 company with hundreds of employees and numerous offices) who hired me to plan their company holiday party because they had a profitable year and could "afford to spend a little more" by hiring me.  When all was said and done, I was actually able to save them $50,000 from what they spent the previous year and create a winter wonderland that kept their employees talking year round!

So when you hear those 5 dreaded words this year, you can smile instead of cringing because you have a secret weapon to help plan it all, within budget and make everyone happy, including the boss... that secret weapon is Events by Divine Creations!  Let us help you be a guest at your own event!

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!

It's Been A While...

by Valerie DiVecchio 10. May 2012 05:23
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So, it's pretty safe to say that I've been a bit neglectful on my blog as of late.  What the heck, it's been more than a "bit"!  Life sometimes can get busy with lots of exciting changes happening and the next thing you know a whole year (or more!) passes by without telling people about it.  Well, that will no longer be the case here!

According to the Dominic - 4 monthsChinese zodiac, 2011 was the year of the rabbit.  For the DiVecchio household and Events by Divine Creations, it was the year of change, but in a really good way.  Both personally and professionally, expansion was the  name of the game.  On November 29th I had a beautiful baby boy, Dominic Joseph... and boy, oh boy, did that flip our world inside out and upside down!  It was quite the adjustment, but worth every sleepless night.  I used to be the type of person who had to have a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night, but it's amazing how fast you can adapt if needed!  You would have never found me blogging at 4:00 in the morning ever before! 

Events by Divine Creations also grew this past year.  We moved into a new Korman Centerpiecelocation three doors down from our previous spot into a larger storefront.  In addition to event planning, we also added flowers and decor for all special events to our list of services.  We have an amazing designer who is the most creative and talented floral designer that I have ever met.  Martha Stewart is a novice compared to Eva in my opinion!  We also launched a website that showcases our floral work - so do be sure to visit us there and "like" us on Facebook.

So what does 2012 hold?  For me personally, hopefully an occasional full night's sleep once again!  And for Events by Divine Creations, it's sure to bring continued quality work, creative and innovative ideas and a lot more blogging!

Tips on Tipping

by Valerie DiVecchio 29. October 2010 10:48
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I've had several clients tell me lately that they read articles about not tipping if the person providing the service is the owner of that business.  I'm actually quite surprised at that thought.  The person who cuts my hair is the owner of the salon yet I still tip her.  The massage therapist - on the rare occasion I get to go - owns his own business, but I still tip him.  Why is it different in the event industry?

What people don't realize is that the owners of the business are the ones who have the higher overhead - they pay the rent, insurance, salaries of other employees, utilities, etc.  It's always your discretion and usually only for service providers, not for those who give you something tangible (although that's not always the case).  My personal rule of thumb is that if you feel that the person has done an amazing job, gone above and beyond and played a part in making your event incredible, and you are in a position to do so, gratuity is a nice way to express your thanks - whether they own the company or not. 

Cooler Florida Weather = Outdoor Dinner Parties!

by Valerie DiVecchio 22. September 2010 21:06
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So I blog a good deal about weddings, but why should they have all the fun?  We live in paradise and Mother Nature has blessed us with a beautiful, natural backdrop for great parties.  Whether it's a dinner party with friends, holiday party for your neighbors or even a brunch with the extended family, your backyard offers a fabulous setting.

Often times people think that outdoor events equals eating off of paper plates and inhaling the scent of citronella.  Don't be afraid of using real linens and your good dishes, glasses and silverware.  String up some paper lanterns to create a soft, beautiful ambience, and add to the elegance with some candlelight.  Reception style food helps to create a mix-and-mingle atmosphere.  Use smaller plates and bite sized hors d'oeuvres so your guests are free to roam.

Concerned about the mosquitos?  Hire a pest control company to treat your yard.  Some companies have the ability to create a barrier that help to keep those blood suckers out.

The Fall 2010 edition of Get Married Magazine has an article called "Host Your Own Fresh Garden Party" that offers some great tidbits on how to add some finesse to your outdoor party:

  • Personalized napkins add a special touch by including your theme and color;
  • Hang tiny favor boxes from tree-shaped stands;
  • Home baked goodies are a great parting gift for guests.  Wrap them in cellophane bags to keep them safe from bugs;
  • Personalize your vase with a monogrammed initial;
  • Personalize beautiful glass champagne flutes with a ribbon and tag to prevent drink mix-ups;
  • One favor box color totally dressed up with different ribbons and tags add dimension to any table; and
  • Add a homegrown touch with mini buckets filled with fruit from your citrus trees or a local farmer's market.

It's your own yard - there is nothing more personal than that.  It's a great place to let your creativity shine and make it your own!

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
Share on Facebook 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: 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!

Calling All Bargain Shoppers!

by Valerie DiVecchio 9. July 2010 07:14
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This Saturday (July 10th) from 8 am - 4 pm, there will be a huge liqidation sale at the former flower and gift store located 3 doors down from my studio.  The address is 3315 S. Westshore.  They are selling fixtures (some really cool collapsible bookshelves in addition to other stuff), computer equipment, holiday decor, loads of Gasparilla inspired items and LOTS of gifts ready for the giving.  I got a sneak peek yesterday and there are some really great bargains to be found.  I've eye-balled a couple of things for myself!

It is one day only, and it is cash only, so if you're in the mood to find a great deal,  I guess I'll see you there!!

BRR... A Chilly Reception

by Valerie DiVecchio 7. July 2010 11:25
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It might have been a nice, sunny day outside the Intercontinental Hotel on January 23rd, but inside was a different story!  It was Ben's bar mitzvah complete with his very own winter wonderland.  The theme was BRR which had a double meaning - first the obvious, cold, winter... you get the picture; second meaning was a personal one - those are his initials!  Root Brr-tini

Little touches of winter were everywhere: large lit up ice cubes on the dance floor, acrylic bars made to look like ice; a 200 pound ice carving with his initials and the ice luge for BRR-tinis.Root Bar.. for the adults of course!  The colors were blue and silver (new rule at Divine Creations after this event - clients need to pay to have chair covers installed professionally... my back can't take that anymore!) and the table names all incorporated the theme from the traditional like "Old Man Winter" to the not-so-traditional like "Yellow Snow" (funny, but ewww...). 

Ben also had the ultimate "cool" entrance for his introduction... the doorway filled with fog and through the fog came Ben in a trench coat with a beautiful girl wearing a glittery, snowy mask on each arm.  As he made his way onto the dance floor, off came the trench coat to reveal the white tuxedo underneath!Root Centerpiece

The intention for the evening might have been to incorporate the cold, but the evening was everything but.  The love that was shared among family and friends helped to heat up the night and the party!  Mazel Tov Ben! 


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: and  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  Now where was that one when I got married?!


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!

There's An App For That!

by Valerie DiVecchio 26. May 2010 10:36
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It seems like almost every uncertainty can be answered by a smart phone application these days, and the wedding industry is no exception.  Are you tired of hearing the phrase “there’s an app for that”?  Well, just wait until you see this new lifesaver for your Maid/ Matron of Honor and Best Man! 


Waterford Crystal has recently introduced the new “Clink-Clink” app for the  iPhone.  The Clink Clink app is tons of fun and contains over 100 hysterical and heartwarming toasts for a number of different occasions!  Users can “clink” their glasses (you have a choice between 5 beautiful Waterford Crystal Glasses to appear on your screen for the toasts) to exchange toasts with friends or to share contact info with each other.  The app even has a Facebook Connect Application option, so that any toasts you share with existing friends can be also shared on your Facebook walls.


The best part about the Clink-Clink app... it’s FREE!  Download the application from to your iPhone today.  Happy toasting!


A Platinum Production!

by Valerie DiVecchio 21. May 2010 11:56
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On the night of January 16th, I saw more than a year's worth of planning come to life in the most amazing way.  It was Zoe's bat mitzvah and it was spectacular.  I reflected back on the day when Zoe's mom Mary Ann walked into my office and pulled a pair of pajamas out of her purse.  That's how it all began. 

You see Zoe loves polka dots and animals - especially dogs.  The pajamas Mary Ann showed me were polka dotted in many of Zoe's favorite colors.  So that's how we got her theme - polka dots and puppies.  I was a little nervous at first thinking how I was going to pull those two elements together, but not for long.  The fun, creative side took over!  We paired up with some amazing vendors and that night turned A La Carte Event Pavilion into Zoe's Dog Park complete with floor to ceiling draped walls, amazing lighting effects and the most adorable centerpieces - all to be donated to the children's hospital afterwards.  The night featured an incredible dinner for the approximately 100 kids and 250 adults, as well as a DJ and 16-piece band that kept everyone up and dancing.

Of course it wouldn't be a party without a few glitches.  Thankfully the glitches were during the day and none of the guests knew anything about them.  You see, the Shriners had their annual meeting at A La Carte the same day, and Zoe's party was to begin at 6:00... the Shriners' meeting ended at 3!  Luckily they were gracious enough to allow us to drape the room in fabric the day before otherwise that would have never happened.  So that morning our team of talent arrived to start setting up.  We had the Great Hall and Terrace Room empty but only the smallest, back section of the ballroom.  Imagine about 25 tables crammed in this little space as we try to cover them with spandex.  It was a sight!  It was also a little painful when one of the large round tables collapsed as I was stretching spandex over the top... and I caught it with my thighs!  Thankfully the adrenaline was pumping and I didn't feel it - until the next day! 

So once the Shriners' meeting broke, it was mayhem!  The band had to load in, the special dance floor had to be placed and then covered in polka dots, the AV wall and plasmas had to be installed, all of the tables and chairs had to be dropped in place and then set... you get the picture.  I don't think we stopped moving for a second.  And then the magic happened.  As the first guests began arriving, the room was finished.  You could actually hear a collective sigh of relief from all of the vendors who worked so hard in helping to pull all of the pieces together.  And you know what made it all worth every second... when Zoe threw her arms around me and gave me the biggest hug and said two little words - thank you!  The smile on her and her family's face was all the thanks I needed!

Pictures Below: 1) View of corner of room with custom made bar and tables, 2) Close up of centerpiece, 3) One of the dog park settings in the Great Hall, 4) Entrance to building, 5) Gift table, 6) Place card table



Free HealthCare Symposium for Women Returns to Tampa

by Valerie DiVecchio 10. March 2010 09:05
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Have you heard the buzz about Focus on Females?  It's a women's healthcare symposium in its fifth year that is free and open to the public.  That's right, on Saturday, March 27th at the Tampa Convention Center, there will be 22 different seminars about a wide range of women's health topics all presented by local, area physicians who speak in plain English, provide practical, relevant and ready-to-use health information and even give you a chance to ask your questions.  There are also health screenings, fitness class demonstrations and chair massages - all FREE! This event has proven to have immediate impact, save lives and protect families.  You can register on-line at

Oh, and I heard the event planner is AWESOME!  Guess who?  Come by and say hi!

Sweet 16

by Valerie DiVecchio 8. March 2010 16:06
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So I'll ask for forgiveness upfront on the corny blog post today, but I couldn't let this milestone occasion go by without some acknowledgement!  I have posted on my four-legged sweeties before and yesterday Kenya turned 16!  Here she is posing for her driver's license picture... watch out Tampa, here comes Kenya!

An Affordable Option to Dress Up Your Tables

by Valerie DiVecchio 3. March 2010 17:57
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One of the biggest impressions that you can make at an event is the way you set up your guest tables.  I mean after all this is where your guests spend a good portion of their time whether it be eating, drinking, taking a break from all of that dancing or talking with other guests.  They look at the linen, the centerpiece, the little votive candles - all of those special touches, but sometimes, especially when it is a buffet or action stations for dinner, the table can look incomplete without a full place setting.

There is a great alternative that dresses up a table wonderfully - charger plates.  Generally seen in gold or silver (but you can also find them in other colors), charger plates do wonders to make your table appear more elegant and complete.  And they are totally affordable to rent!

Divine Creations is pleased to announce that we now rent charger plates in gold and silver.  The cost is only $1.50 each (plus local sales tax) and if you mention that you learned about it by reading this blog, we'll give you a 10% discount! 

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!




2010... Off to a Flying Start!

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. February 2010 17:37
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I know I seem absent as of late, but 2010 has been hopping (and I'm NOT complaining!).  With 4 events in January, the month totally flew by!  And February and March are just as jammed packed!  I want to thank all of my past and current clients for helping me to have the best start of a year ever, and I promise that I will be posting pictures of recent events very soon so check back often!

New Year... Same Old Resolution

by Valerie DiVecchio 4. January 2010 18:35
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Happy New Year!  I'm excited for 2010 and all it has to offer.  I think it's going to be a fantastic year! 

About this time of year you hear the word "resolutions" a lot.  I used to attempt to make resolutions... actually I could make them just fine, it was keeping them I wasn't so good at!  I hadn't done it in a few years and then last year I decided that I'd give it a go again.  Realizing as we all do as we grow older, I wanted to try to live a healthier lifestyle so one of the resolutions I made was to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Well... does it still count if they are smothered in chocolate or french onion dip?  So, let's just say I didn't do too good with that one.  Another one was to do yoga or go walking 3 times a week.  Okay... maybe I should have been more realistic and said 3 times a month!  I did okay with that one (the 3 times a month that is... I must have been feeling super ambitious that day to say 3 times a week!) up until going to Ireland this summer.  Somehow when I returned that whole exercise thing was like a foreign concept! 

So, hence the reason that this year I am going back to not making new year resolutions again - with one exception.  It is my year round resolution to provide excellent service to each one of my clients.  That is one resolution that will never change!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!

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?!

Weddings Photos, Warhol Style

by Valerie DiVecchio 16. December 2009 16:25
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Does your inner artist long for something unique to display your favorite wedding photo?  Well, check out where you can get a customized canvas for under $200.  It's incredibly simple: select a style (many to choose from), select a layout (anywhere from one to six panels per canvas), pick your preferred size (anywhere from 16x20 for $199 all the way up to 40x40 for $455), add a floating frame if you want, upload a photo and pay - all on-line and all very user friendly!  And it's super fast... within 3 days your creation will be on its way!  Sorry to those of you who just thought this would be a great gift for December 25th... they are no longer taking orders that will be delivered before then!


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!


Toy Drive Networking Happy Hour - December 2nd

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. December 2009 11:49
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Just a reminder that the toy drive, "Polar Express", to benefit Sulpher Springs Elementary School is tomorrow night at The Rack from 6-8 p.m.  Bring a new, unwrapped toy for a boy or girl in grades K-5 and enjoy some networking, a cocktail and maybe even a game of pool!  Looking forward to seeing lots of people there!

The Polar Express Comes to Tampa!

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. November 2009 14:41
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'Tis the season, right?!  Well, this is a special Polar Express... one that is designed to help children who have never experienced the joys that holidays can bring because their parents simply cannot afford to buy them presents because they are struggling just to put food on the table or keep the lights on at home.  Eighteen89 is a group of young (yes, I'm hanging on to the term young for as long as I can...) professionals who support programs of the YMCA that most people do not know or hear about.  At our last meeting we heard about this program that helps families in one of the most poverty stricken area of our very own community - Sulpher Springs.

At Sulpher Springs Elementary, the YMCA created a Community Learning Center.  In seven months since its inception, the enrollment has exploded to over 200 children.  The average annual household income for a family of four is $14,000.  Most of the children have never seen, none the less decorate, a Christmas tree or gotten a visit from Santa.  So the Polar Express program was created to change all of that. 

We are currently collecting new, unwrapped toys for children in grades K-5.  There are 550 kids at Sulpher Springs Elementary and the goal is to give each child one toy to unwrap and enjoy this holiday season.  As you shop for your families and friends this Black Friday, please throw in a toy that can make a child's holiday much brighter.  Suggestions of items for girls include: barbie dolls, jewelry making kits, hair accessories, board games, makeup kits, coloring books, tea sets, purses, movies, music CDs.  For boys: Transformers, Matchbox cars, books, puzzles, super heroes, sports equipment, playing cards, legos, trucks and Bakugan.

On December 2nd, Eighteen89 is hosting a networking happy hour at The Rack in South Tampa from 6 - 8 p.m.  This is an excellent opportunity to stop by, meet some people and drop off any toys you would like to donate.  If you cannot make it to the event, just call me to set up a time to swing them by my office between now and December 9th.  Volunteers will wrap and tag all of the gifts for distribution by Santa on December 16th!  Thanks in advance for your support in helping to make a child's holiday 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!!

Obviously They Did Not Hire A Wedding Planner...

by Valerie DiVecchio 18. November 2009 11:37
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Trust me... it's not a good thing when your wedding makes the headline news.  A friend walked into my studio last week and handed me a copy of the TBT (Tampa Bay Times).  Huge red letters screamed, "WEDDING BASHERS:  It seemed like a lovely wedding.  The bride and groom said "I do" and headed to a restaurant on Rocky Point for the reception.  Who could have seen that it would end up with granny in a headlock, a guest taking a brick to the head and the bride in tears?".  Well, if they were looking for a memorable day, I don't think it can get more memorable than that...

So what started the melee?  Apparently as the reception was coming to an end, the groom was throwing dollar bills onto the dance floor for the kids to collect.  The article said that it's called "makin' it rain" in the rapper world.  One guest didn't like that (see, there is always someone you just can't make happy at every wedding!) and the groom and his brother decided to confront the guest.  Now had they hired a planner, he/she could have intervened on the groom's behalf, explained the culture and meaning and actually got the guest to come around.  Okay, maybe not... we're not miracle workers, you know.  Anyway, before you knew it there is a full fledge brawl happening and along came the police.

Upon the arrival of the police, it did not end there.  A brick was flying, punches were everywhere, and poor granny was getting choked out when she yelled at people to knock it off.  The fight spread out over 4 miles!!  So a guest decided to call a "friend" and inform him that his cousin was hit with a brick by the groom and his brother.  Per the TBT, this "friend" had a 20 page rap sheet and a stolen gun.  Well, not taking kindly to his cousin being hit by a brick, he decided to put in an appearance... and he didn't even bring a wedding present!  How rude. He proceeded to beat up the father of the groom while his date is the one who choked out granny. 

Finally the police got everything under control, arrests were made and the bride and her mother were upset and crying.  The groom - who by the way was just out of prison after serving a nine-month sentence on drug charges - was not arrested so they decided to go ahead with their honeymoon plans.  Grandma was the one who convinced them to go.  "Young people," granny said, "are so stupid these days".

All I can say is if the bride didn't see the red warning flags waving before the wedding... welcome to the family.



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

Spring Semester Internship Available!

by Valerie DiVecchio 10. November 2009 15:50
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I am pleased to announce that Divine Creations Event Planning Specialists will be sponsoring an unpaid internship for one college student this spring (January - April/ May 2010).  We are affiliated with Florida State University and St. Leo's University and have had students as interns in the past from those universities.  We are also open to working with other colleges and will follow their required guidelines if provided.  To qualify you must be a student enrolled at an accredited college, majoring in recreation and leisure (concentration in special events), marketing or public relations.  You must also be covered under the school's insurance plan (usually the case if you are obtaining school credit).  This internship can qualify for school credit.  The internship will begin on January 4th and you must be able to work weekends and evenings for events.  Day hours are flexible around class schedules.

If interested, please e-mail a resume and cover letter through the website or to

Super Sale on Personalized Holiday Cards!

by Valerie DiVecchio 4. November 2009 13:42
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Divine Creations is having a super sale on personalized cards just in time for the holidays!  Perfect for showing off your annual family picture, your wedding or engagement photo or for companies who want to stay in touch with their clients and express their thanks for helping them through an economically challenging year.  Now through November 30th all personalized holiday cards are 25% off the retail value!  Simply call 813-839-5824 to set up your private appointment or stop by our studio at 3309 South Westshore Boulevard in South Tampa.

Holiday Card 09       Holiday Card 09 - 2      Holiday Crad 09 - 4

                       Holiday Card 09 - 5

Dade City Finest Show Up In Full "Force"

by Valerie DiVecchio 30. October 2009 16:56
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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!! 


Popular Limo Company Closes Their Doors

by Valerie DiVecchio 26. October 2009 13:17
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Consumer notice - Premier Limousine closed their doors a few weeks ago.  Apparently they have made arrangements to fulfill their contracts that they already had secured, however, it proved recently extremely difficult to get in touch of anyone who knows anything concrete.  My wedding client on October 10th had booked them for their bridal party transportation and about two weeks before the wedding, I started making final vendor confirmation calls.  I knew someone was up right away - a different limo company answered the phone!  After numerous messages to the supposed cell phone number of the owner and e-mails that bounced back, we moved forward in securing another company.

If you have contracted with Premier Limousine, you may want to look at other options sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident in today's economy either so it is the perfect example on how critical it is to call vendors well in advance to confirm any arrangements if you do not have a professional planner working for you.  And if something does go wrong, quickly contact the Better Business Bureau, Attorney General's office and/or quite possibly an attorney to recoup your lost funds.

Pardon the Long Pause

by Valerie DiVecchio 21. October 2009 15:59
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So obviously I have been absent from my blogging... sorry about that!  The day after my last blog I left for a wonderful vacation in Ireland with my husband Joe.  Some long overdue R&R mixed with fun adventures.  We started our journey in Dublin - what a great city.  Of course since it was our first timeJameson Joe and Val in Ireland we did all of the touristy stuff: Trinity College (Book of Kells), Guinness Brewery (fun), Jameson Distillery (lots o'fun), Dublin Castle   (all of the English speaking tours where sold out so we hopped into a Spanish one... and no, we don't speak Spanish!  Luckily there was a couple from Corpus Christi who knew enough to give us the highlights!) and kilmainham gaol (famous jail where leaders of the uprising where publicly executed).  Very quickly we learned that the map we received at the hotel was not to scale.  On the map it looked like a stone's throw from Guinness to the jail.  After about 2 miles I finally stopped a lady on the street to ask for directions.  If you have never been to Ireland before the best thing (in my opinion) is the people.  They are SUPER friendly!  Always willing to talk, lend a hand and always smiling.  Big difference than most US major cities.  Anyway, instead of pointing us in the right direction, this lady actually turned back around, put her groceries back in her car, invited us in and drove us right to the front door!  My aching feet thank her still!Castle

Next we headed for Kilkenny and the real adventure began... we picked up the rental car!  I heard the stories about the roads and dangers of driving in Ireland - ha!  Those stories were nothing compared to real life!!  Did I say we went on vacation for some R&R?  Talk about some white knuckle driving... well actually riding... I refused to do the driving!  Kilkenny was a quiet little town.  We did stop at some really cool castles along the way and in the town itself.  It's amazing how much  history is just sitting on the side of a road.  There are ruins everywhere you look - in the middle of a cow pasture, next to the coast - everywhere!  We climbed to the top of this little round tower.  The stairs were straight up (great workout for the legs) and the turns were very tight.  One gentleman actually got stuck and had to work his way back down!  At the top there was a great view of the town, but it was so windy that the entire tower felt like it was swaying.  I think we made it down to the bottom in half the amount of time it took to climb to the top!  With the building being a few hundred years old, we weren't too sure about its maintenance  scheduling! Sheep

Then on the Kinsale and Kenmare.  Kinsale is a sleepy little town and wasn't our favorite.  Might have had something to do with the never ending rain!  Even though we had a car we decided to walk to Charles Fort because the B&B owners said it was only about 1/4 mile.  I don't think they walk much... it was at least 2 miles if not more and lots of hills to top it off.  We were drenched and I was getting cranky when I heard the voice of an angel, "Want a lift?".  I could not have jumped in this stranger's car any faster!  Once again, love those Irish!!  Kenmare was a little more happening.  We stayed above a restaurant in this B&B right on the main street.  There was this great pub where Mikey O'Connell played the "squeeze box".  He was fantastic!!  The place was packed and people were up on tables dancing and having a great time.  Joe had developed quite a fondness for Guinness by this time so most nights were could be found in the pubs, enjoying music, Irish food and of course a few pints.

We drove the Ring of Kerry which originates in Kenmare... I think I saw most of it but when a huge tour bus is coming towards you on a road that fits only one car, I felt like my hands were over my eyes for half the drive.  If it wasn't a tour bus, it was sheep or cows crossing the road.  All cars in Ireland have Cliffs 2massive scratches and dents all along the passenger side (and remember, the steering wheel is on the other side of the car and you drive on the wrong side of the road!).  That's because the passenger always ends up in the shrubs or ditch!  After the Ring of Kerry came the Dingle Peninsula drive which is right along the coast.  It really is breathtaking... when there are no oncoming cars or sheep or cows in the road!  We arrived in Dingle and our B&B was awesome.  We had a large room with a terrace that overlooked the harbor.  And the house dog, Rio, was too cute!  We adored her and would spend hours on the lawn playing fetch with her.  It was truly the town for that much needed R&R.  We did take a boat ride out into the harbor looking for "Funji", the wild Irish dolphin.  Yes, I know, we live in Florida and can see dolphins on a daily basis.  What can I say?!

Then we were off to Doolin - the place where musicians are made.  Well, Doolin consists of 3 pubs, a church and a souvenir shop.  The entire town is like a block and a half  long!  But the pubs were the place to be and the music was good.  We took rides out to Connemara and the Buren during the days and kicked back with a few pints and some fish and chips at night.  After all of the small Kylemoretowns we were ready for a bigger city so off to Galway we went.  Small city, but a city none the less.  We were in a pub (go figure) one night and they plopped a wooden board down on the middle of the floor... out came some River Dancers!  Too cool.  We also went out to the Aran Islands.  Unfortunately the weather was Irish that day, but the trip is one that will remain in our memory for a long time.  I love boats and have been around them all my life.  My husband on the other hand doesn't much care of them and can get a little green around the gills on boat rides.  Well, on the way back from the Aran Islands we took a boat for about an hour through the Atlantic Ocean.  The ocean was not happy that afternoon.  The swells were HUGE.  I have never seen a boat roll fromTorc Waterfall one side to the other like this.  I freaked out when I saw the crew freaking out.  Never a good sign.  Joe couldn't even look up - he had the right idea.  If we had been cats, that was probably worth about 2-3 of our nine lives right there.  Happy to be on land that day was a big understatement!

We wrapped up our time in Bunratty with the huge castle and village.  That castle was a little different than the others in that it was still largely furnished and you could actually get up close and personal.  They even let you have access to the dungeon.  Would have hated to tick off the King in those days!  Of course, last chance for the true Irish pubs and we made good use of the time.  Then the next day we headed back to the airport, returned the car and hoped they did not care about the additional scratches that we undoubtedly added to the car!

It was a great two and a half weeks, but we were ready to come home.  Unfortunately the fondness of Guinness caught up with Joe.  Apparently they do not pasteurize their beer or milk in Ireland like we do in the States.  Well, let's just say Joe met a bad batch of Guinness on our last night there and spent the next two weeks sicker than a dog.  So between playing nursemaid and trying to play catch up at the office, blogging fell to the back burner.  But now I'm ready to get back to it!  Look out for pictures from recent events and some more tips on planning the perfect event!  Cheers!

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!

Powerful Paper Pointers

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. July 2009 11:05
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Recently I was flipping through the most recent edition of InStyle Weddings magazine and they did a story on the newest stationary trends.  Whether you are getting married, having a bar/ bat mitzvah or just a good ol' fashioned fun party, everyone needs invitations and there were several great tips that I wanted to share.  And of course, I have to throw in my own two cents as well!

1) Go Bold and Graphic - Strong patterns, bright colors and a clean font are the up and coming trends for invitations.  Blues and greens are topping the color palette for 2009 as the hottest trends.

2) Get Nature-Inspired - Instead of the traditional flowers that are often seen on wedding invitations, if you are having a more contemporary event, you may want to consider branches, leaves or coral (not the color, but what you find in the ocean).  Recently I had a couple select an invitation with a bamboo motif which was very cool and modern.

3) Personalize Your Stamp - the envelope is the first thing your guest sees; why not make the stamp memorable?  The theme logo if it's a bar or bat mitzvah or a picture of the couple if it's a wedding makes a lasting impression.

4) And last but not least, they suggest creating a calling card so that guests can reach you after the wedding.  These days texting or connecting via social networking like Facebook or Twitter can keep you connected better than ever.  About the size of a business card that can be inserted into your thank you notes you can communicate your new address, phone number and e-mail addresses.

Just in Time for the Holidays

by Valerie DiVecchio 26. June 2009 14:00
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No, I don't mean the 4th of July, I'm talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah!  Those who prepare well in advance save the most money!  Divine Creations is offering personalized holidays cards between now and September 30th for a 25% discount off the retail price plus free return address imprinting.  Many different selections to choose from and perfect for home or business!

Call today to set up a time to stop by, browse... and save!      

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:



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!



Here Comes the Rain!

by Valerie DiVecchio 5. June 2009 13:28
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As we all know, hurricane season started this week.  As for me, I'm very thankful we've been having some rain (my lawn was starting to look like straw with the City's sprinkler ban!)... as long as Mother Nature keeps it dry on the weekends.  But as much as I do my rain dances to keep the rain away when I have events, for some reason they don't always work!  That's when insurance comes into play.

If you're looking for a great deal in Florida, you look at our summer months to hold your special events.  Obviously there is some risk associated with that.. the two "H's" - heat and hurricanes.  With the heat, you can't do much about it - except turn up the air conditioning and stay inside.  With the hurricanes, well, you can't do much about those either except pray that they go somewhere else and get some peace of mind by purchasing event insurance.  These insurance policies, depending on the level you select, will usually compensate you for money lost if your venue closes due to an evacuation and the event has to be cancelled or postponed.  In addition, you can also purchase liability insurance which offers protection regarding alcohol-related accidents, property damage, bodily injury, as well as insurance for those venues that require you to have it just to hold your event there.

I highly recommend event insurance to my clients, particularly if they are having their event during the summer months, but it's not a bad idea to have anytime.  Often you will receive the best quote through your homeowner's insurance, but if they do not offer it you can try: or Traveler's Insurance.  It's just like health insurance... it's a good idea to have it, you just hope you don't have to use it!

The Joys of Live Television

by Valerie DiVecchio 2. June 2009 20:55
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As I blogged a few days ago, I was on Fox 13 Good Day Tampa Bay yesterday morning.  Knowing that it was being televised live, the "normal" thoughts go though your head before heading out on the set... what if I trip and fall or open my mouth and nothing comes out; you know, the stereotypical live television things that you see on, well television, and kind of chuckle at while sitting comfortably on the couch in the privacy of your own home.  Of course, then there are those unexpected things that can happen that just don't even cross your mind... like the anchor's microphone suddenly stops working.

Good news is that I didn't fall and the words came out of my mouth just fine.  Bad news is that the anchor's microphone suddenly stopped working.  So the segment started right after a commercial break and there was the music to the "Wedding March" and then Ann Dwyer started to speak.  Of course it sounded fine to me, but then again, I was sitting right next to her.  Unbeknownst to either of us, those of you watching at home saw her lips moving, but heard nothing.  Fortunately it only lasted a couple of sentences.  So Ann introduced me and dived into her first question about ways you can save when looking for a wedding dress.  As I started to answer, the camera person walked over and told Ann that she needed to change out the battery on her microphone.  So needless to say, there were some distractions.  Fortunately I was able to stay fairly focused and answer the question (I can't really remember what I even said!), but unfortunately it was taking a while to change the battery.  So Ann, being the professional that she is, explained that they were having some technical difficulties and asked me to hang on a minute.  It was probably about 10-15 seconds of silence (which felt like 10-15 minutes!) and then Ann continued on with the interview and let the camera person continue to mess around with the microphone. 

Fortunately the rest of the interview went very well and Ann was absolutely wonderful when it was all over.  She apologized about the microphone mishap and commented on how well I did.  As a matter of fact, the producer called me and read me a message she sent him after the show.  It read "the wedding planner was goood (he stressed there were three o's!), very informative and calm even during the microphone disaster".  I appreciate her kind words, and actually what she said was very meaningful to me.  No matter what's going on around you, during an event or on live television, a professional planner has to take everything in stride and run with it.  It may have been a rocky start - which by the way has NEVER happened before during a segment... lucky me! - but the ultimate outcome was fantastic.  I'm glad I did my profession proud!



In the News...

by Valerie DiVecchio 29. May 2009 15:18
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Monday morning on Fox 13 Good Day Tampa Bay, I will be interviewed live on television!  The segment will be about 3.5 minutes long and we will be discussing different ways to save money during the recession when planning your wedding.  I've got some great tips to share! 

So tune in Monday morning about 7:45 and watch! 



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:


Yummy Centerpieces

by Valerie DiVecchio 19. May 2009 16:40
Share on FacebookWhat to do with all of those leftover centerpiece flowers after the party is over?  Sure, your house will smell great for a couple of days, but you'll also be picking up fallen petals and changing out some icky water in the vases.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge flower lover and advocate, but what about edible centerpiece as an alternative?  There are several companies that make arrangements out of fruit, vegetables and even chocolate (yum!) which are not only attractive as a centerpiece, but they can also double as dessert or a great snack when the evening kicks into high gear and the desire for munchies also kick in.  In today's economy, we're all looking for ways to save, and for a small party, this is a great solution!

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 to reserve your seat.

Dealing with Stress

by Valerie DiVecchio 13. May 2009 10:31
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Let's face it... planning a special event, particularly a wedding or bar/bat mitzvah, can be very stressful.  Lots of decisions to make, appointments to go on, and as each day passes sometimes it seems like the things to do list can get longer as the time gets closer.  So how do you deal with the stress so not to lose your mind?  Well, everyone has to find their own solution.  For some it may be putting their event planner on speed dial (me!) as one client told me yesterday, for others it may be going to the gym and taking it out on the treadmill or weights, and for me it's yoga.

I discovered yoga about eight months ago.  My sister has been an advocate for yoga for a very long time, and she finally convinced me to give it a try.  It's not easy and sometimes I wonder what I must look like to an observer, but the great thing about yoga is that you learn to listen to your own body and you leave self-judgment at the door.  I know, I know... easier said than done!  But if you stick with it, it really does get easier.  It's one hour a week, or if you're lucky twice a week, that you get to concentrate on you and attempt to leave all of the worries, stresses and distractions behind.  I say "attempt" because for me that's the hardest part of doing yoga.  Although I found that it does get easier to do that because if you are standing on one foot, with the other in the air and nothing to hang onto... you will topple over if you lose your focus.   Been there, done that!

I strongly recommend to anyone embarking on a life changing adventure that he/she find a way to help alleviate the stress - whatever it may be.  And if yoga might be your thing, I have a great instructor located in South Tampa who offers a complimentary first-time class to see if it may or may not be a fit for you.  Send me an e-mail and I'm more than happy to provide you with her contact information!

Patterns That Pop!

by Valerie DiVecchio 11. May 2009 10:48
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That's right... bright, colorful patterns are making a come back in a big way!  Checkered, polka-dotted, damask, even themed prints are becoming very popular.  Using them as an overlay on your guest tables can instantly perk up a room.  According to The Knot, one of the best parts about this trend is that it lets you throw around a lot of different colors, but still keep a cohesive look and feel.  From your invitations to your table linens, picking a pattern that pops will surely leave a lasting impression!


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 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!

Events By Divine Creations is Now on Facebook!

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. April 2009 15:10
Share on FacebookYes, I'm jumping into the 21st century... slowly!  Events by Divine Creations now has a Facebook page and I'd love to see all of the blog readers become a "fan"!  I will be posting pictures of recent events, seminar information and some great event news.  Simply click on the link on the home page (right side) and join the fun! 

Cool Ideas for the Florida Heat

by Valerie DiVecchio 14. April 2009 15:39
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Let's face it, Florida is considered paradise, but it can be a rather hot paradise!  Often times that's when you get your best deals though... during the summer months.  It's a great way to save some money because it is off-season for events in Florida.  As we approach the summer months, there is no need to shy away simply because it's too hot.  Between good old fashioned air conditioning and these cool ideas, you'll beat the summer heat and impress your guests all at the same time! 

Consider using ice globes as centerpieces instead of the traditional floral arrangements.  The great things about these globes is that you can put almost anything inside them... pictures, themed objects, even flowers.  I had a bat mitzvah client who used these ice globes as centerpieces and because it was a sports theme, they placed inside plastic mini basketballs, soccer and footballs too.  It tied the theme into the centerpieces and really made a statement.

Ice bars are all the rage these days.  I had a wedding client who recently did one for their reception which had their monogram etched into the bar itself.  It was lit up with red accent lighting and placed inside a draped area (red of course!) and it was the talk of the evening.  Adding an ice luge for vodka martinis is a bonus that will impress most guests!

And lastly, don't forget about traditional ice sculptures.  They don't have to be swans or doves anymore.  Recently we did one for a client that was a vase and on top was the most impressive arrangement of fresh florals.  We placed this sculpture in the center of a seafood raw bar and it could not be missed.  Even grown adults couldn't resist touching it to see if it was real!


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!

HealthCare Symposium a Big Success!!

by Valerie DiVecchio 30. March 2009 13:04
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I am pleased to report that the Symposium was a huge success!  I'm so delighted with how the entire day went that my aching feet are well worth it!!  Over 1500 people attended and everyone from the attendees to the volunteers to the exhibitors were highly complimentary.  And most importantly, my client was happy and that's what matters most to me!

There were several highlights to the day, but I have to say that the keynote address was very impactful.  I have been planning this event for four years now and the one thing that I love about it is that I always learn something new.  This year during the general session, several people spoke about their own health care scares.  Heather Van Nest, co-anchor of the 10 Connects News, spoke on "putting yourself at the top of your to-do list".  I am one of those people with a lengthy to-do list and this week I skimmed down it and low and behold, I'm not listed anywhere!  So as I soaked in a long, hot bubble bath after the conclusion of the event, I decided that I'm going to add at least one line on that list that makes me a priority.  Of course now that I've added finding a dermotologist for a full body scan to the list, I'm not exactly crazy about it.  So I'll just stay positive and hope that those days when I was a teenager and thought baby oil was sunscreen, don't come back and bite me! 

Women's Healthcare Symposium Tomorrow!

by Valerie DiVecchio 20. March 2009 16:36
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Earlier this week wrote about a great community event happening on Saturday, March 21st at the Tampa Convention Center.  It's called the Focus on Females Women's Healthcare Symposium.  In its 4th year, we have pre-registered over 1,300 people to attend as of this afternoon!  It's a great opportunity to attend seminars on 21 different topics... everything from fertility to menopause, diabetes to allergies and nutrition to sleep disorders - just to name a few!

Pre-registration is now closed, but you can still attend as a walk-up registrant by coming to the Convention Center (333 S. Franklin Street, downtown Tampa) tomorrow.  Doors open to the public at 7:30 a.m., but you can come anytime - great things will be happening throughout the entire day.  Look for me in the hot pink Focus on Females shirt because I want to talk to you!

Thank You Etiquette

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. March 2009 18:03
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As money gets a little tighter, more people are opting to invite friends over for dinner rather than going out to a restaurant.  It's actually more intimate, easier to talk and quite frankly can be even more fun!  If you have been invited to someone else's home for dinner, there are a few things you can do to be a great guest.

First, and it may seem simple, but RSVP!  Sometimes people get an invitation and they mean to call or send a reply, but times goes by and one can forget.  Best to reply as soon as you receive the invitation so that doesn't happen.  Second, it's always nice to bring a small gift... bottle of wine in a cute bag, set of coasters, wine stopper, some stationary - just a small thank you for the host or hostess.  It doesn't have to cost a lot, but it shows your gratitude.  They have put some time and money into preparing for the evening so arriving with a gift shows your appreciation.  And lastly, after the evening has come and gone, send a thank you note (handwritten via the mail is more personal than e-mail).  Best to send the note within a couple of days of the dinner.

At Divine Creations we understand the importance of showing one's appreciation all the while looking out for your wallet.  We have some great items that are very appropriate as thank you gifts and can be mixed and matched to suit your host/ hostess's style.  A wide variety of these gifts are under $5 each!  And mention that you read about these gifts in our blog and we'll give you a 5% discount.  Just my little way of saying thank you for reading!

Health Care Event Happening This Weekend

by Valerie DiVecchio 15. March 2009 15:03
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Have you heard the buzz about Focus on Females?  It's a women's healthcare symposium in its fourth year that is free and open to the public.  That's right, on Saturday, March 21st at the Tampa Convention Center, there will be 21 different seminars about a wide range of women's health topics all presented by local, area physicians who speak in plain English, provide practical, relevant and ready-to-use health information and even give you a chance to ask your questions.  There are also health screenings, fitness class demonstrations and chair massages - all FREE! This event has proven to have immediate impact, save lives and protect families.  You can register on-line at

Oh, and I heard the event planner is AWESOME!  Guess who?  Come by and say hi!

Elton or Billy?

by Valerie DiVecchio 9. March 2009 17:29
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Last week my husband and I went to the Face to Face Tour where Elton John and Billy Joel performed.  We have seen them before and it truly is a great concert.  It is interesting looking at the concert through an event planner's eyes though. 

They came out together for the first set and then Billy Joel left and Elton John took the stage first.  He's got a great voice, but the one thing that I noticed was that the music was extremely loud.  I felt like I wandered into a Metallica concert by mistake!  There were crazy lights shining right into the audience too; you could visibly see people squinting and shielding their eyes.  In any type of event, you want to ensure that your guests are comfortable and engaged.  Elton's music is a little more low-key and the volume and lighting didn't seem to mesh with his style.  He sat at his piano the entire concert and didn't interact with the audience that much.

Now, on the other hand, Billy Joel came out with high energy, but the volume was in check and so was the lighting.  His piano rotated so that all sides of the audience could see him and he was making jokes all over the place.  He was up and out of his seat more than half the time and when you looked around so was the audience.  People were dancing and singing along and the energy went up ten fold in the place.

Moral of the story is that as the host of an event, your guests will feed off of your energy.  If you want your event to be high energy, you need to be high energy.  Maybe not as high energy as Billy Joel who started spanking himself excessively at one point, but you get the picture.  And if you want it to be more of a low-key evening, make sure the ambiance that you are creating matches.

It's Been A While...

by Valerie DiVecchio 5. March 2009 14:18
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Why does that title feel like deja vu?  I can't believe how time just flies by... between the holidays, then the Super Bowl and then Gasparilla, I'm just now coming up for air!!  It has been a couple of crazy past few months, but now things are calming down.  The tourists and Hollywood celebrities have left Tampa (you have to admit it was kind of exciting!) and all of us locals are getting back to normal.  And for me that means blogging! 

I don't normally make New Year resolutions because they are usually broken by January 2nd.  I believe that if you're going to try to commit to doing something why wait until the beginning of a new year?  Your new year can begin whenever you want!  So my new year (albeit in March!) resolution is going to be getting back to blogging and try to do it more often.  I really do enjoy it so it shouldn't be that much of a challenge.  Here's hoping that this "new year's" resolution will stick!  I guess only time will tell...

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!  

Super Bowl Page Is Live!

by Valerie DiVecchio 12. October 2008 14:48
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As I sit here watching the Bucs pound on Carolina, I'm thinking wouldn't it be cool if the Buccaneers made it to the Super Bowl in February right here at our very own RayJay Stadium.  It's possible... look at what the Rays are doing by going from last to first - and a strong contender for the World Series - in a year!  But whether or not that happens, Tampa will be jumping come the last week of January and I can't wait to be part of the excitement.  Be sure to check out the newest page on my website!!

Party... With A Purpose

by Valerie DiVecchio 9. October 2008 22:15
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Last year, I joined the board of directors for Eighteen89, a social, mission-driven organization that benefits the YMCA.  I was always raised to give back to your community, and it is something that I strive to do regularly whether by volunteering my time, donating funds or in this case, donating my expertise.  Eighteen89 was in need of a philanthropic/ social chair and when a friend called me to ask for my help and after learning more about the organization and those who they serve, I excitedly joined the team.  In 2008, I was elected President of the Board.

So, one thing to know about me is that I like reality shows... the ones like Survivor and the Amazing Race.  I find them amusing and my husband and I always say we're going to apply to go on the Amazing Race.  Great way to see the world on someone else's dime, right?!  Yes, this is relevant, I didn't just go off on a tangent.  So last year I developed a "scavenger hunt" along Howard Avenue for Eighteen89.  It's based on the Amazing Race concept where we split people into teams and have them race from one place to another by figuring out clues that will lead them to their next "pit stop".

This past Saturday,over 50 people came out to MacDintons in South Tampa to race up and down Howard Avenue figuring out their clues and trying to get to the finish line first.  We named all of the teams after YMCA programs like Camp Cristina, which is a 66-acre facility in Riverview, that Eighteen89 supports during the holidays by passing out gifts and food to migrant families and foster families who wouldn't otherwise have much to celebrate during the holidays.  I guess you can say the scavenger hunt was a little bit of education and a whole lot of fun!

To find out more about Eighteen89 and its upcoming events, check out our group page on Facebook!

Team 3 Team Pic Team Pic 2 Team Pic 6 Team Pic 4 Team Pic 5

'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.

It's Official... We're Official!!

by Valerie DiVecchio 18. September 2008 16:46
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We are proud to announce that Divine Creations Event Planning Specialists has become an official vendor for the Super Bowl!  It was a fairly lengthy process between obtaining our MBE (women and minority owned business) certification through the State of Florida and also being approved by the Super Bowl Host Committee.  But it was well worth it! 

Check back to our website soon, as we will be adding a new page specifically for the Super Bowl!

Jenny, Dan and the Back-Up Plan

by Valerie DiVecchio 7. September 2008 17:21
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As I drove over the Gandy Bridge the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I looked out to the white caps in the Gulf and thought "uh oh".  Today is the day that Jenny and Dan have been planning for so long and who would have known that Gustav, although thankfully not threatening Florida directly, was still giving us wind gusts that made me drive with two hands on the wheel at all times.  All I could think about was what if one of those gusts comes along and knocks down their chuppah in the middle of their outside ceremony.IMG_1613

As I pulled up to the Vinoy for set-up my cell phone rang.  It was Jenny.  As I prepared to give her my recommendation of pulling the ceremony inside, she said "my parents and I think we should change the ceremony to our back-up location".  Whew.  I never want to be the bearer of bad news, but I also don't want a downpour to occur while 200 guests are watching the bride make her entrance or witness her mom's wedding veil tear off the top of the chuppah in the wind.  That is why I always, always have a Plan B.

I understand the attraction of wanting an outdoor wedding, especially in Florida.  But as we know, Mother Nature can have a mind of her own.  Make sure that if planning any portion of your event outside, the venue is holding back-up space during that exact same time inside AND that it is written in your contract.  Fortunately Jenny and Dan understood that moving their wedding inside, while not what they pictured, was far better than wind blown hair, wet guests and a soggy mood for their reception!  

Oh No... Here Comes A Hurricane

by Valerie DiVecchio 31. August 2008 10:52
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Let's face it, we live in paradise here in Florida, but along with the reward comes some risk.  We Floridians know that as hurricane season.  TS Fay decided to visit us recently... three times.  And now Gustav is heading up the Gulf and Hanna is hanging out in the Caribbean waiting to make her move.  So does that mean you shouldn't have a special event planned anytime from June to November?  Not necessarily, but event insurance is something you should definitely consider.

Event insurance comes in many different levels of coverage.  There is event cancellation or postponement that covers deposits and payments made if the event cannot take place or if you must postpone and the vendors you selected are booked on the date you rescheduled it for already.  There is also general liability insurance which some venues require you to have if you hold your event in their facility.  Art museums are a good example that require insurance.

Some individuals are able to get event insurance through their homeowners insurance company so that's a great first place to start.  There are also other companies who specialize in this type of coverage like;;;; and

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. 

It's Been A While...

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. August 2008 18:36
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So I bet some of you thought my blogging was short lived... not the case!  My husband, Joe, and I took some much deserved R & R and slipped away on a 3 week vacation.  Summer is typically a slower time of year for tIMG_0635he event industry, but each year is different so you better make plans in advance or you won't be able to get away... which was my mistake last year!  But I have to say we made up for it in 2008.

We ventured up to Seattle for a few days and then on to Vancouver for a few more.  And then we boarded a seven day Holland America cruise from Vancouver to Alaska.  And then the fun really began... another whole week in the Alaskan wilderness.  Okay, truth be told, we didn't rough it like in the movie "Into the Wild", but those of you who saw the movie and knows what happened in the end, well we opted for B & Bs and hotels instead!  On the cruise we stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau (my favorite port by far) and Skagway, as well as cruised the Glacier Bay.  The scenery is amazing and the wildlife is incredible.  We took a float plane ride of death... I say that because it was raining and windy and I did a lot of serious praying...  We hiked Mendenhall Glacier which was breathtaking.  We also took a jet boat tour in Haines where our driver got us stuck in a sandbar, but the two bald eagles right above us (and probably laughing at us) IMG_1210and the black bear sighting made it well worth it.

Once we got off the ship in Seward the true adventure began.  We stayed in Seward for a couple of days where we got to feed the puffins at the Alaska SeaLife Center.  That was so cool (and really smelly).  We walked alongIMG_1013 the water's edge to watch the sea otters playing and eating.  But probably the best part of the trip in my opinion was the catamaran ride to Kenai Fjords.  Talk about jaw dropping memories.  We saw killer whales playing with porpoises, a breaching humpback whale, seals, sea lions, mountain goats, lavender and orange starfish, and our boat got about 150 feet from a caving glacier.  Some moments I would just stand there with my jaw hanging open and totally forgot that I should be taking pictures!  It was wildlife at its fineness. 

Then we rented a car and took off for Denali National Park and Preserve.  The tour in the old, rickety school bus through Denali rivaled the boat to Kenai Fjords.  We were nearing the end of our vacation and I had yet to see a grizzly bear.  Every time we heard about a sighting we were off and running towards it.  I know, most pIMG_1635eople would do the opposite, but it was number one on my list of things to see.  We always seemed to be just a little too late.  Well, this time, SCORE!  Not one, not two, but six grizzlies... including two cubs!  And we saw a grizzly chasing a wolf pup (I know, I was cringing too!), then all of a sudden the grizzly stopped dead in its tracks and started running the other way... Mama wolf came to save the day!!  She was hot on that grizzly's tail!  It was truly a National Geographic moment.  We also saw moose (and baby calves), dall sheep, caribou, and lots of other critters that I can't remember their official names.  Totally worth sitting in a school bus for 8 hours!

So now, back to reality and real life.  It's always fun to get away, but it's also nice to come back home.  Now I am totally energized and rested and ready to tackle the work at hand... planning perfect events!! 

New Studio Location!

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. June 2008 20:33
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I am proud to announce that Divine Creations Event Planning Specialists has moved into a new storefront location in the heart of South Tampa.  Conveniently located to I-275, the Veterans Expressway and the Crosstown Expressway, we opened our doors officially on May 1st atIMG_0350 3309 S. Westshore Boulevard.  The "Champagne and Chocolate" open house was a huge success with over 70 people coming to tour the new studio.

The studio has a warm and inviting reception area complete with great items available for sale including cute tote bags, picture frames, guest books and those fun items that make great gifts for any bride.  There is also a conference room in which you can view pictures of our work and kick back on a comfortable sofa to look through invitation albums.

Many planners, particularly wedding planners, work out of their homes, and I'm not criticizing that by any means.  I myself, started in 2002, working out of my own home then moved into an office building before settling into our current location.  However, it does make it difficult for the client to see their wedding planner's personal surroundings, and feel like they really know the person they are about  to spend a lot of time with planning such a personal milestone.  Having an office outside of the home also provides the peace of mind that when the planner is working nothing else will distract them from the goal - planning the perfect event for you.

Event Planning is My Passion

by Valerie DiVecchio 1. June 2008 19:09
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I've been told for some time that I needed to start blogging so I figured launching it along with my new website was as good a time as any.  My goal is to help you, as readers, to learn a little more about me, Divine Creations and tips on creating memorable, successful events.

Event planning is truly my passion.  I have been in the industry for 13 years now.  I actually started in the non-profit field as a development director... a fancy title for planning and coordinating fundraising events.  It's a challenging job; every charity is trying to fight for the same dollars and continuously attempting to outdo everyone else.  But now as I look back, I realize it was great training - having to "beg" for everything, get creative by thinking out of the box and have it turn out to be a grand success with the guests and media raving about it and raise lots of money for a great cause.  I figured if I can do that, imagine how amazing it could be if I actually had a budget!  Hence Divine Creations Event Planning Specialists was incorporated in 2002.

At Divine Creations, we strive to help save our clients time, stress and money while providing peace of mind that no detail will be overlooked.  In my opinion, the difference between a good event and a great one is in the details.  Whether it is a wedding, bar/ bat mitzvah or even a corporate event, the event itself needs to incorporate the style and personality of the host(s).  As an event planner it is our job to assist clients with implementing their vision.  And the planning process should be FUN!  No one wants to look back and remember stress and chaos.  Having a professional by your side to offer guidance, support and recommendations will help you breathe easier and sleep better.

Well, I think I missed the mark on the first rule of thumb for blogging... keep it short!  I'm excited to share my thoughts and ideas with you and I hope that you will enjoy coming back to read more!

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Valerie DiVecchio Valerie DiVecchio

Divine Creations

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