Category Archives: Volaré Tips

Hiring a Wedding Planner

Daniel Prislovsky Photography

Hiring a qualified wedding planner is the absolute best investment an engaged couple can make. No other wedding vendor will ensure that your wedding day is seamless and remove the unnecessary worry that comes with planning the most important day of your lives. Here are some common misconceptions about wedding planners, as well as solid advice on what to look for in a wedding planner.

The Complimentary Wedding Planner: Some wedding vendors and venues claim to offer a complimentary wedding coordinator or planner with the purchase of another product or service. Because of the tremendous amount of work involved in planning a wedding, no one would ever do it for free. It is also important to mention that an event coordinator at your venue should not be confused with a wedding planner. Event coordinators are employed by the venue and their main concerns are sales, safety and compliance. Although they may provide a list of approved vendors, they will not communicate with your chosen vendors, help you hire needed vendors, check references, negotiate contracts, or implement your wedding vision. They also do not construct the Wedding Day Timeline for your big day; a very crucial plan of action that ensures that your day is flawless. Your hired wedding coordinator or planner however will work collaboratively with the facility’s event coordinator, so that you and your vendors are in compliance with the facility’s rules and regulations on your big day!

The Wedding Day Timeline: In order for your wedding day to be the day you have always dreamed of, a timeline of the day’s events with detailed vendor expectations for all parties involved needs to be prepared. The Wedding Day Timeline provides transparency and will give you peace of mind in knowing that your day will be organized just the way that you have envisioned it. The construction of the Wedding Day Timeline should be initiated and written by the wedding coordinator or planner and approved by you.

Know What You Are Paying For: Wedding planners usually provide three types of wedding planning packages, which are defined as: Day-of-Coordination, Partial Planning, and Full-Service Planning. While these packages may be referred by the same name, they however are described very differently by each individual wedding planner. For instance, one wedding planner may quote a day-of-coordination package hundreds of dollars less than another wedding planner, but before rushing to sign the contract with the budget friendly planner, you should understand what you are paying for. Some questions to ask are: When will you become my wedding coordinator or planner (how many days/months before the wedding)? Will you construct my Wedding Day Timeline? How many wedding planning meetings will we have? How often will you communicate with me by phone and by email? How many hours will you be present on my wedding day and will you be there until the very end? Will you read my contracts and communicate with my vendors to ensure that there are no issues on the day of my wedding? Will you have an assistant on the day of my wedding? How many vendor meetings will you attend? Additionally, it is vital to have a legally binding contract with your chosen wedding planner. Both partial planning and full-service packages should have contracts stating that the planner will secure qualified vendors for your event, as well as assist or be responsible for the the design of your event. The more details in the contract, the more protection for you.

Read, Read, Read Reviews and Obtain References: Unbiased reviews will provide great insight to how previous clients’ overall experiences were. Reviews are also the ultimate way to find the best of the best in the wedding industry. Be sure to use unbiased reviews on reputable sites such as The Knot and Wedding Wire. If the reviews do not seem to match the expertise of the vendor, feel free to ask for references and telephone numbers from past clients.

Review Your Budget: This is the most important day of your life, so be sure that you trust the person you are putting in charge of your wedding day, while also staying within your budget. Remember that a wedding planner’s duties require a tremendous amount of time, resources, and travel, which would not be given away for free or for a very low price. If you are considering more than one wedding planner and one price is drastically lower than the other, you should reexamine your choices – this rule applies to all of your vendors for your wedding.

20 Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue

Beautiful cathedral setting with stainless windows with event tables set-up.
Jose Charo Photography

Looking for the perfect venue is not a simple task, but knowing the right questions to ask will help you navigate through these unchartered waters with ease. In the end, you will feel confident in knowing that you have selected the perfect place to say “I Do”.

Here is the list of Must Ask questions when visiting wedding venues:

1. What dates are available in the month I am considering? TIP: If the venue has every Saturday available in the month you would like to get married, do not use this as a excuse to postpone a contract. Dates fill up quickly, and procrastination could cause you to miss out.

2. How many people can this venue comfortably and spaciously accommodate with a dance floor? NOTE: Sometimes venues will sell themselves by telling the client that the room fits 200, while in reality 200 is a very tight fit. You want to make sure that your guests are comfortable in a room with plenty of room for dancing and mingling. Ask to see sample floor plans and remember the following table accommodations:
60″ Round – 8-10 guests max
72″ Round – 10-12 guests max
8′ Rectangular – 8 guests  (10 if seating guests at ends)
6′ Rectangular – 6 guests  (8 if seating guests at ends)

3. May I hold my ceremony here too? Is there an additional charge?

4. Are there dressing rooms for the wedding party? If so, how many people do the rooms accommodate?

5. What is the rental fee and what is included in that price? For instance, complimentary rehearsal time, tables, linens, chairs, chargers, glassware or decor?

6. How much is the deposit, when is it due, and is it refundable? What payment plans do you offer?

7. What’s the cancellation policy? NOTE: Some venues will refund most of your deposit if you cancel far enough in advance, since there’s still a chance they can rent the space. However, after a certain date you may not be able to get a refund.

8. How long will I have use of the event space I reserve? Is there a charge for extra hours? 

9. Are there decoration guidelines/restrictions? May I use real candles, rose petals, sparklers?

10. What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding? Is it possible to start the setup the day before? How early can deliveries be made?

11. Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band? Do you have a noise ordinance?

12. Is there parking on site? If so, is it complimentary? Do you offer valet parking, and what is the charge? If there is no parking on site, where will my guests park?

13. How many guest restrooms are there? TIP: You should have at least 4 restrooms per 100 people.

14. What security services do you offer? Do I need to hire my own security guards, or does the site hire them or have them on staff? What charges will I be responsible for?

15. Does the venue have liability insurance? NOTE: If someone gets injured during the party, you don’t want to be held responsible—if the site doesn’t have insurance, you’ll need to get your own. For info on insurance, check out WedSafe Wedding Insurance.

16. May I hire my own vendors, or must I select from a preferred vendor list?

17. Do you have an in-house caterer or a list of preferred caterers, or may I provide my own? If there is an in-house caterer, do I have the option of using an outside caterer? If the venue does offer in-house catering, you will want to ask:

-What is the food & beverage cost on a per-person basis? What are the tax and service charges? Is there a food & beverage minimum that must be met?

-May we do a food tasting prior to finalizing our menu selections? If so, is there an additional charge?

-May I bring in a cake from an outside cake baker, or must I use a cake made on the premises? Is there a cake-cutting fee? Do you provide special cake-cutting utensils?

-May I bring my own spirits, wine, beer or champagne, and is there a corkage fee?

-Do you provide bartending services? If so, what is included in your bar packages? Is alcohol priced per person or by consumption? Are there additional charges for bar staff? Is there a bar minimum that must be met before the conclusion of the event?

18. What overnight accommodations do you provide? Do you offer a discount for booking multiple rooms? Do you provide a complimentary room or upgrade for newlyweds? What are the nearest hotels to the venue? TIP: Some venues have partnerships with local hotels that offer a discount if you book a block of rooms.

19. What is your weather contingency plan for outdoor weddings?

20. Will there be a venue staff member present during my wedding? How long will they stay on property during my event? What will be there their role for the evening? Will they be available to my wedding coordinator or planner in the event of an emergency?

•If you really love the site, ask the venue representative to put together a proposal with all the pricing and policies—including the tax and service charge—so you have an idea of the actual cost.

•Pay attention to the venue as a whole: Check out everything, including the restrooms, the foyer, the dressing rooms, the outdoor lighting and even the kitchen. You want to be sure your wedding vision can become a reality at this location. If possible, make arrangements with the site representative to visit the venue when it’s set up for a wedding.

•Get everything in writing. Your date is not officially reserved until you sign a contract, and in many cases, give a deposit—even if a site contact says “you don’t need to worry about it”. Once you’ve found the perfect place to say “I Do”, make sure you ask what is required to get your booking locked in, and then follow through on satisfying those requirements. Before you sign a contract, read the fine print and make sure it includes everything you and the on-site coordinator agreed on. As new things are added or changed in your contract, have the updated version printed out and signed by you and the site representative. Also, document all your conversations in emails and keep your correspondence.

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Ragan Patterson Studios

Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions that a couple can make when planning their big day. In all actuality, your wedding photographer is the one vendor that will provide memories that will last a lifetime. In this issue of Volare Tips, Ragan Patterson Studios gives pointers on what we should look for when choosing a wedding photographer.

1. Photo Editing. Photo editing is a time consuming talent, which can very well drive up the cost of wedding photography. Be sure that your photographer is transparent on how many images will be professionally edited. Ask to see portfolio images before and after the editing process. Some wedding photographers edit all images, some limit the amount of edited images, and some skip the process altogether. If the photographer does not advertise or mention editing, it is especially important to discuss their intentions. Proper photo editing is crucial in providing a beautiful end product of your wedding day, which should provide memories to last a lifetime.

2. View Wedding Portfolios from Beginning to End. In the digital age, it is quite simple to become a photographer overnight. Never choose a photographer based on a website portfolio of 30-50 beautiful images. Instead, ask to see their wedding portfolios from beginning to end. This request should provide you a realistic expectation of what your pictures will look like, which is ultimately what you are paying for.

3. Is your Wedding Ceremony or Reception Indoors? If your wedding ceremony or reception are indoors, ask to view several sequences of shots that the photographer has shot indoors. Natural light photography is beautiful, yet easily attainable. Many ceremony and reception venues do not provide enough natural light to consistently provide great pictures; a skilled photographer will know how to shoot in low-light situations.

4. Know the Photographer. It is of utmost important to know who will be responsible for photographing your wedding day. Some companies meet face to face and introduce the photographers on the spot, while others inform their clients within weeks to days before the wedding. Be leery of any photographer who does not meet face to face in the beginning of the planning process. Establishing a wedding day photography timeline is essential for a quality end product. Additionally, you should know how many photographers will be shooting your wedding. Wedding day details and once in a lifetime moments require at least two photographers, as well as two points of view.

5. Know the Photographer’s Storytelling Philosophy. A good picture tells a thousand words. Would you rather have 100 beautifully edited images that tell the story of your wedding, or 2,000 images that provide no rhyme or reason of your day? There are two general photographer storytelling methods; decide which is best for you:

The Shoot and Burn Story Method – The photographer will show you every acceptable shot.

The Engaging Story Method – The photographer will show you the very best shots in each sequence that expresses the story of your wedding day.

6. Read, Read, Read Reviews. Unbiased reviews will provide great insight to how previous clients’ overall experiences were. Reviews are also the ultimate way to find the best of the best the wedding industry. Be sure to utilize unbiased reviews on reputable sites such as The Knot and Wedding Wire.

7. Review Your Budget. When done correctly, wedding photography is extremely time consuming and therefore expensive. It is important to understand that high prices and a good portfolio do not necessarily correlate to a consistent level of high quality photography, which is ultimately what you deserve. Remember to stay within your budget, but know what you are paying for.

Lace it Up!

Daniel Prislovsky Photography

What bride doesn’t want romantic tables at her wedding? Well, nothing says romance better than lace. Place long lace table cloths over your reception tables, while allowing the hem to drape the floor or ground, for an unforgettable vintage look.