Friends are God’s Apology for Family

This is quite possibly the best quote when it comes to dealing with family drama at a wedding. Our friends are chosen, we have the ability to find people who are compatible with our personalities. This isn’t always the case with families, seeing as there are all types of personalities among family. We rely on our friends for a lot, something we can’t always do with our family members.

 Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co
Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co

While we love our family, everyone can admit that they drive us crazy at times. There’s not a single family that doesn’t have drama, but there are ways to keep that drama away from your wedding day. Following these tips will increase your odds of a family drama-free wedding.

  1. Keep yourself with immediate family and the bridal party prior to the ceremony. This will allow you to dodge any unnecessary family drama. During the reception, there are so many people to mingle with that there won’t be very much time to worry about the family that tends to cause issues.

  2. If you know that certain family members don’t get along, whether it be the bride’s family or the groom’s family, try to keep them at different ends of the room when arranging a seating chart. Although they may encounter each other on the dance floor, the music, dancing and other guests will be such a distraction that they won’t have an opportunity to make it all about them and their drama.

  3. Acknowledge that family isn’t perfect. If the drama is too much, simply don’t invite these people. If they have to be invited, prepare for the unexpected, but don’t dwell on it. You have friends and family who love you and will always have your back – no matter what. In the end, you are marrying your best friend, that’s all that matters. Thanksgiving dinner is another story!

ANE Real Wedding: Kayla & Kyle

Every once in awhile, a love comes along that you know will stand the test of time. Kayla & Kyle have that love. This past Sunday, they celebrated their 1st Anniversary! I can not believe how time flies, when you are young, in love and having fun. 

I met Kayla and Kyle and immediately fell in love with Kayla’s spunky personality. We had a lot in common and it felt like we had known each other for years. Kayla, 100% trusted and believed that I could turn her dream into reality which makes my job so much easier. What I love about Kyle is his passion and clear adoration for Kayla. He loves her SO MUCH! This wedding was filled with COLOR and lots of sunflowers! Kayla found these fun bridesmaid’s dresses at JcPenny of all places! I was obsessed! I have a feeling, the girls will certainly re use these dresses. Their wedding was filled with so much love, laughter and smiles. It was hard for them to contain their excitement. Outdoor ceremonies can be tricky in the spring, however, the day was perfect and they were able to get married along the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois. 

Happy Anniversary Kayla & Kyle! Thank you for allowing Ashley Nicole Events Inc to be apart of your big day!


Vendor Spotlight:

Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Ceremony Venue: Walton Island, Elgin
Reception Venue: The Haight, Elgin
Florist: Town & Country Gardens
Hair & Makeup: Tamara Makeup & Hair Artistry
Catering: Evantastik, Inc
Cake: Delish Cakes
Photography: Love & Ink Photography
Rentals: A-Z Rentals
DJ: DJs For You

Event Security: Planning Events in 2018

 Photo: Steve Parsons
Photo: Steve Parsons

Security.

This topic has been around for awhile, though, I think it is often overlooked when it comes to small scale events. Out of the approximate $42.8 million dollars the Royal family spent on Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s recent wedding, 94% or a whopping $40.1 million dollars was spent on security for the royal family, their guests and the general public. Not every wedding planned today has a budget that lavish. However, in today’s day and age, security is, or at least should be considered. I do NOT mean to be a Debby-Downer, but seriously, these topics MUST be thought of! 

 Photo Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Photo Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Here are 3 things you should consider when planning an event or wedding in the world today. 

1. Location – Are you having your event in a large metropolitan area? If so, are large cultural events taking place in or around your event? For example, if you are planning a wedding on the Chicago marathon route, ask yourself if your guests will be able to get from point A to point B in a timely and safe manner. Fighting crowds and getting stuck in traffic is not my idea of fun. It could put a damper on an already tight timeline. Have you thought about group transportation if you have a situation like this?

If you are getting married in a smaller city and public parking lots are readily available, are street lights and well lit sidewalks available for your guests? Walking alone late at night in a dark, unfamiliar area is not always the best decision. God forbid something happen to you or your guests, it is better to be safe than sorry. If public parking is available, but far away, you might consider offering a complementary valet service – not free to you, but free to your guests.  

 Photo Credit: Getty Images Women's March
Photo Credit: Getty Images Women’s March

2. Fire Exits – We are pretty well conditioned at this point to look for the fire exits when we walk into a movie theater. How about your wedding or event venue? If an emergency arose, could you direct your guests to the nearest exit? You most likely will be getting married in a venue that your guests have never been to before. In the middle of busting a move on the dance floor, where do they run for safety in case of a fire or active shooter situation? While I am not suggesting you add the nearest fire exit on the dinner menu, at least having a few key people know where and how to exit the building could mean the difference between life and death. 

3. Life Saving Equipment – Does someone at the venue or your wedding planner know CPR or at a minimum First Aid? While this is not necessarily the first question I would ask your potential venue, it is a good idea to at least bring up in conversation. This should NOT be a deal breaker on finding your wedding venue. However, consider if a member of your family or bridal party happens to be a first responder. An extra bonus for the venue, is having a defibrillator on site.

While these might seem like silly questions or morbid thoughts, last week during a wedding a Great Aunt did indeed have a heart attack. Paramedics arrived on the scene quickly and the guests remained calm, however, for a brief moment, there was that *heavy panic* in the air. Happy ending: she is fine and recovering well! 

This experience reminded me to check the renewal date of my CPR certification and the pledge to never let it expire. These milestones should be filled with fond memories and only happy tears. However, the worst has happened and having a solid plan is the difference between a minor setback and a major tragedy. Having a plan for the worst and only expecting the best is how I approach every event I work. Hundreds of events every day go off successfully. I would hate to see you be at the one that does not. 

If you have any other questions or suggestions on how to make your next event both successful and safe, feel free to send me an email at hello {at} AshleyNicoleEventsInc {dot} com. I would love to chat further about this important topic with you! 

A Groom’s Perspective: Planning Your Wedding

 Photo: Being Joy Photography
Photo: Being Joy Photography

Often, the bride is the focus of the wedding. Wether it is the planning or the wedding day, all of the questions seem to go to the bride. What is the date? What are the colors? How many guests? Where is the venue? How did he propose? The list goes on and on. For the groom, he often gets overlooked and told to “just show up.” What terrible advice is that?!? “Just show up” tells him that his opinions and thoughts don’t really matter. “Just show up” says that he has no say in his most special day. In my mind, this is a terrible miscarriage of justice. The groom in my world is just as important if not more important in some cases. Without him asking a very important question, the bride might not betting married. 

 Photo: Being Joy Photography Hair: Flora Hair and Makeup Team Flowers: Wyld Blooms
Photo: Being Joy Photography Hair: Flora Hair and Makeup Team Flowers: Wyld Blooms

Perhaps the most important Groom I have ever had to deal with was my groom, Adrian! Being married to a wedding planner is not always easy. I work most weekends and evenings are spent meeting with clients. Having listened to me for years, Adrian has learned that floorpans can make or break a wedding and can accurately describe the difference between poly and lamour linens. He never ceases to amaze me! He even offers to help write blog posts! I certainly got very lucky! Adrian has agreed to give his perspective on the wedding planning process. Below are his responses. 

 This is Adrian. He is pretty great. 
This is Adrian. He is pretty great. 

What is it like being a groom trying to plan a wedding and what advice would you give to other grooms?

Lucky for me, I married a wedding planner, but I was her own worst nightmare! I was a groom Zila, OK maybe not a total Groom Zila But a very picky Groom.  We had 12 months to get everything set and planned for the killer bash that we had wanted in our heads. Like I said, I married a wedding planner so the timeline of events and the coordination of people and companies came quite easy for us.  We both wanted something spectacular. Our wedding was a blank slate and we had to start to create our vision. 

I didn’t even know weddings had themes.  We both agreed on the same colors right away which was good! Boom done! From there we had the food that had to be decided on and I know for the brides that this is important, but this is just as important for the guys. Food is very important for guys so don’t blow it off, go do the food tasting! Also, if you are at all like me you’ll want a late night snack. Just an idea but we did a bacon bar and fresh donuts made on site. They were a huge hit. 

The bar was another important factor for our wedding. You have to make a statement and make your guests feel comfortable. We had a giant ice sculpture alcohol fountain, i’m guessing this was the statement piece. I was also very specific in not having beer bottles given to people but wanted the beer to be poured into glasses. It was about the look and the experience. 

My suggestion get involved, this is your wedding too. One of the biggest time sucks and most difficult parts were the invitations and day of printing. It took us an entire weekend to get all of the invitations stuffed in the envelopes and mailed out.  Don’t think this is a quick process, as this was probably the hardest thing about the whole wedding.

I was given one task to handle on my own. I was in charge of the transportation. Ashley did not care or want to be involved in that process, so she let me handle the entire thing. I had to organize the transportation for the entire wedding party from the hotel to the church and then on to the venue. It’s not as simple as just renting a bus, you have to plan that timeline pretty much to the minute because everything relies on this bus and getting you to the church and to the venue at specific times. We also stopped at a few locations for photos in between. It is quite the logistical chess match. On the topic of transportation, food deliveries is just as important. You are going to be busy all day so you’ll want to get some sort of food delivered to the bus. Depending on your timeline, stopping for lunch might not be an option, so you can plan on having sandwiches for the bus because you and your bridal party will be starving. 

Here is my advice for the actual wedding day: While on the topic of food, consider having some bagels with juice and coffee delivered in the morning while you are getting ready. This is a very long day and you will not have time to stop anywhere. Having things come to you is always a better idea. It makes the day go much smoother. 

Best piece of advice that I can give you is while your guests are eating their salad you and your bride eat the main course. That way when everybody is eating you can go table to table and say hi and thank them for coming. It is very important to not skip a meal on the wedding day. Before I got married, people would say you won’t remember much about the day. I did not think this was possible. It is the best day of your life. How can you not remember it? I thought they were lying, but no, it is so true! The day passes by in a flash and this is why a really good photographer and videographer are such an important investment. You will be shocked at how much you forget. You begin to slowly piece the day back together when your photos and video come back. Getting your footage can take a few months! Time seems to erase memories sooner than you think. I cannot harp enough and how important both of those things are.


Adrian will be making other guest blog posts in the months to come. He has more experience than most guys in the wedding planning world, mainly because he has to listen to me talk about weddings all.day.long! I want to make sure that guys know that they are not alone and that their opinions matter too! So often, I see them get pushed to the back and told to smile and make sure they show up on time. The guy is just as important as the girl. I want to make sure their voice and opinion (as crazy as it might be) gets heard. 

 Photo: Mary Rose Photography Venue: The Haight
Photo: Mary Rose Photography Venue: The Haight

Top 5 Wedding Speech Mistakes

We have all been to a wedding where the best man had one to many cocktails prior to giving his speech. While it is really awkward for the guests, it is even more uncomfortable for the bride and groom. Relinquishing the mic at a wedding is a big deal! You have no control over what anyone will say, do or even…sing when they have a mic in their hand. Having helped over 250 brides and grooms, I have witnessed just about every kind of speech imaginable.  Here are my top 5 things to NEVER do while giving a toast.

1. Don’t start with “For those of you who don’t know me, my name is…” No, there is a good chance that half of the room has no idea who you are, but by announcing that, it just makes an awkward and very overused opening line. Instead, simply begin by saying, “Good evening, my name is (Insert Name Here) and I am so happy to have been given the honor of saying a few words”. Then, say a few words. Keep it short!

2. Don’t tell inside jokes that only you and the Bride or Groom will find funny. These inside jokes are completely lost on all of the guests and looking back at it, it probably wasn’t even that funny of a joke. No one really cares about that one time you and the bride did something in your dorm room. Save those memories and stories for girls night. Instead, mention how incredibly brave or sweet the bride was during (insert situation) and how you know that she will treat her partner the same way in life.

3. Don’t talk about past relationships or lovers. It is really awkward and why would we talk about bad things at a happy event. The only reason I could POSSIBLE see to EVER mention an ex would be if the new bride or groom saved the life of the other party when they were still with the other person and that is how they met and fell in love. Even then,  it would still probably not be a good thing to mention. Don’t mention their name, simply express how happy you are the the happy couple found each other.

4. Don’t talk about how many people the bride or groom has slept with. No. Just no. I once had a mother of the bride get up and say how she is sure glad her daughter was hooking up with the groom instead of all of the other boys she hooked up with.

5. Don’t immediately start talking about wanting or making babies. We get it. Babies come from two people who engage in certain activities. We do not need graphic encouragement nor is it appropriate to discuss in front of a hundred people.

What can you talk about?

  1. How long you have known the bride or groom. How you are associated with them.

  2. Share a sweet story of the bride or groom as a child or of them as an adult.

  3. Wish the happy couple a lifetime of love and happiness, then pass the mic on to someone else!

5 To-Dos For Your Summer Wedding

 Photo Credit: K+B Photo
Photo Credit: K+B Photo

If you are getting married between June-August, here are 5 things you should have completed or are at least thinking about in the next few weeks at the time of publication, (this is the end of March) Some are obvious, some, maybe not so much.

  1. Wedding Venue – believe it or not, I have heard around town that some couples are still looking for wedding venues…and their wedding is just a few months away. Absolutely everything is dependant on the venue. How many guests are you able to hold? What is the style or feel for the venue (barn, industrial, banquet hall, backyard). The list goes on and on. For the love of Pete…find a venue. The rest gets easier after that. 

  2. Invitations – At this point, if you are getting married in the next 2-4 months, you should be either finalizing or sending out your invitations in the next little bit. In my experience, and I am not sure why, invitations seem to be the most time consuming and stressful part of the planning process. I can’t put my finger on why! Perhaps, because it sets the tone for the entire event. Or perhaps, you now have a very opinionated fiancee, who didn’t care about the invitations until you were knee deep in paper selection. Whatever the reason, make the decision and get them sent out!

  3. Schedule Hair and Makeup Trials – TRY your exact wedding hair and makeup PRIOR to the big day. Take some selfies. Remember, you will be standing with your right side facing your guests. Make sure you love your hair from the right side. Do you normally wear little to no makeup? Seeing yourself with a bright bold lip might catch you by surprise and you do not want ANY surprises on the wedding day. All professional hair and makeup artists will suggest a trial, take them up on it. Some HMUA might charge extra for this, others it is built into the overall package. Ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable.

  4. Solidify Rehearsal Dinner plans – Who is hosting the dinner? Will it be a formal sit down dinner? Something more relaxed at a pizza parlor? Top Golf? Traditionally, the Groom’s family foots the bill, but with tradition out the window, anything and everything is possible. Make it something fun for your nearest and dearest to kick back and relax before all of the real formalities take place the following day. Do yourself a favor, don’t over indulge in food or beverage. No one likes the hungover look.

  5. Order imprinted items (anything personalized) – With just a few months left before the wedding, you want to make sure that anything that is getting personalized gets ordered. Mistakes happen. Remember this post about getting a wrong personalized bridesmaid robe? If things do come back a little wonky, you will have enough time to contact the vendors and get the situation fixed. It would be terrible to place an order and get a wrong name or wedding date printed on 2,000 beverage napkins.

If you want to find out the rest of the to-dos with a wedding fast approaching, shoot me an email and I can send you a complete list! 

 Hi! if you have any other questions on the world of event planning, drop me a line and we can chat! 
Hi! if you have any other questions on the world of event planning, drop me a line and we can chat! 

Need a Bridesmaid Gift? Look No Further!

Are you struggling to find something to gift to your bridesmaids? If so, keep reading!

 Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina Hair and Makeup: Gold Plaited 
Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina Hair and Makeup: Gold Plaited 

If you have been a reader for a while, you might remember that a few weeks ago, I was sent a groomsmen gift to review. The gift was completely free and I was only responsible for providing my honest feedback. If you missed the review of gifts for guys, you can click here. After I wrote my review for the Bleacher Buddy, Joe asked if I wanted to test out some gifts for the ladies. Of course, I would be interested! Did I mention, I love getting free swag?!?  I reviewed the website Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique and selected my item to review. Below are my honest thoughts for purchasing gifts for your best girlfriends from Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique.

Here are my thoughts:
 

Website: Very easy to navigate, constantly making updates and adding additional products to their site. Their products range in price from $11 to $285. Personalization is key with this company as your can put a name, monogram or face on pretty much anything they sell. Their selection of gifts at this point is not vastly different from other companies, but make it easy to select gifts that can be personalized. In conjunction with Groovy Guy Gifts you can find something for just about everyone in your bridal party.

Shipping: They have the standard 8-12 business day shipping but also provide expedited shipping (5 business days) for those couples who forgot that they need to get something sooner. These types of purchases can slip by without even thinking about it! Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique is currently running a sale for FREE personalization and FREE shipping on orders over $75. If you have a medium to large party, this will not be difficult as items can add up quickly. I love taking advantage of sales whenever possible!

Product: I selected the Timeless Collection Floral Kimono! The site offers several types of floral robes, but something about the navy option really spoke to me. I also know that robes are STILL a very popular bridesmaid gift. For me personally, when I get gifts like these at weddings, I am not a *huge* fan of personalization…some of your friends might be single or in the process of changing their name. A lot of people love doing this, so just take my opinion as that, opinion. You can also of course order the gift without personalization. I wanted to get the full experience, so I got my first name embroidered. 

 

When I ordered the item, I requested a navy robe with a navy inscription of my first name. I received a navy robe with my name embroidered in pink. I reached out to the company and they noted the error. They are in the process of shipping me out a corrected robe. I understand mistakes happen and we are all human. Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique gets bonus points for owning the error and immediately setting into motion the solution. *Another reason to not wait when you are getting gifts personalized.

Packaging: The box came very quickly! I was quite surprised. It was wrapped up in a nice gift bag. I rank the packaging a 10!
 

Review of Product: The Timeless Collection Floral Kimono in Navy is in general a good quality robe. The colors are vibrant and the garment is professionally sewn. Despite the embroidery color issue, they embroidered my name nicely and is of  good size. The robe fits well and states that it will fit most people. Even if you can not tie the robe, keeping it open will still be a nice option.

Overall Ranking out of 10: I rank this item and the website an 8.5 out of 10. Overall, great packaging, great design and excellent customer service from Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique. I did remove 1 star because of the unfortunate error in the color of my name. I am also removing a half star due to the common items on their site. I have been surprised at the improvements to the site since I last visited and look forward to seeing a wider selection of unique bridesmaid gifts. It is a brand new site, so in time, they will have as a unique selection as the Groovy Guy Gifts. I will add one star back once the corrected robe gets delivered! In general, a good way to buy gifts for anyone in your bridal party. I look forward to seeing where they take gift giving in the future.

If you know of other great gift ideas for the ladies in your life, send me a message and I will get the item and write a review of it for you! 

 

Need Unique Groomsmen Gifts? Look No Further Than Groovy Guy Gifts!

Are you struggling to find some really special and unique Groomsmen gifts? Are you looking for something beyond the typical shot glass or flask? If so, keep reading!

I was recently approached by Joe at Groovy Guy Gifts to test some products that my couples could use for bridal party gifts. While I love getting free swag, I was cautious. How are they any different? Are they more expensive? Is this a scam? How can I trust the quality. Joe was super easy to work with and I was able to select anything I wanted off of their website to review. In order to give my very best analysis of their products, I got my husband, Adrian, involved. Who else better to test guy products than…a guy!

Here are our thoughts:

Website: Very easy to navigate, great selection of products. They even have Father’s Day gift ideas! Their products range in price from $19.99 to $85ish. Personalization is key with this company as your can put a name, monogram or face on pretty much anything they sell. Groovy Guy Gifts offer unique gifts that I have not seen on sites that offer similar services such as 2 different styles of  Golf Cleat Caddies, a functional Man Bag  Stylish Satchels or for the manly man in your life,  Weapon of Warriors! There really is something for just about everyone on this site!

Shipping: They have the standard 8-12 business day shipping but also provide expedited shipping (5 business days) for those grooms who forget that they need to get their guys a small token of appreciation! The expedited shipping seems a little expensive, so just plan ahead and the standard shipping is much more reasonably priced.

Product: I selected the Bleacher Buddy! I liked that it was something unique. My husband is not a drinker, so he really has no use for the shot glasses or flasks that are commonly given out as groomsmen gifts. Though to be fair, he does put his fair share of chocolate milk in the flasks he has received thus far! This gift is perfect for anyone who attends sporting events, likes to hang out with friends and have grab a cold beer, water or gatorade!

Packaging: The box came very quickly! I was quite surprised. I was afraid that the box would be too thin and as I cut into the box with a knife, I was trying to be extra careful not to slice the fabric of the chair. To my pleasant surprise, the chair was packaged REALLY well! There was bubble wrap around every corner to prevent scratches. Included in the box was extra packaging to prevent any damage during shipment. I rank the packaging a 10!

Review of Product: The Bleacher Buddy states in the description that it is great for tailgating. I would agree with this! There are plenty of storage compartments to keep keys, cell phones and extra valuables safe all while keeping  your drinks and snacks cold. My one issue with this product is that it is a little small. Granted, they clearly state on their website that it is meant for tailgating and providing seating when necessary. This is not a chair that my husband would choose to sit for extended periods of time because he is a bigger guy. The crossbar hit him right on the thigh as he sat and the back of the chair hit in the lower back region. For a quick resting spot this chair is a great option. When I sat on the chair, I did not experience as much discomfort as he did, but I am smaller. I think this would be a great “chair” for a kid who could tolerate sitting on it for extended periods of time. I would not call this chair a “camping chair” as that is what Adrian thought it might be good for. For its intended tailgating purpose…it’s spot on!

Overall Ranking out of 10: Adrian and I both rank the Bleacher Buddy a 9 out of 10. Overall, great packaging, great design and excellent customer service from Groovy Guy Gifts. We did remove 1 star because of the unfortunate size of the chair but who really sits when they are tailgating with friends anyway? Great option for the guys who love sports, have kids on sports teams or just enjoy a nice cold beverage as the cooler keeps things cold for a long time!

I would absolutely recommend Groovy Guy Gifts to my couples looking for fun, unique gifts for their groomsmen and fathers.