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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tips to Get You through the Wedding Ceremony

Tips to Get You through the Wedding Ceremony!

Clients will relate various fears or concerns that they have during a consultation for officiating their wedding ceremony.  

You might relate to some of these issues, but never fear!  Your officiant should help you with any of these fears.  Here are some things to remember that can take the edge off of the nervousness. 

1.  I don't like to be the center of attention! I get really nervous speaking in front of people and I don't want to say any more than I have to.  What if someone makes a stupid remark during the ceremony?

Remember where you are!

You are likely in front of the most people who love and care about you more than any other day of your life.  Even the people who might have made it rough on you during the planning stages will get into the moment and might even shed a tear or two.  They will probably treat you better than during the planning because they want to save face!  As far as unwanted remarks, your officiant should be professional and not let anyone else steal from your moment.  An officiant can put themselves in a position of authority just enough to stop the comments depending upon the severity of the comments.


Rehearsals take longer than ceremonies for good reason.  They are designed to make everyone comfortable with what they are supposed to do on the wedding day.  This is the time to make minor ceremony changes, not later!  Use the rehearsal to familiarize yourself with the environment and ask questions.  Put  other members of the bridal party in charge for your wedding day of letting those who weren't able to attend the rehearsal to on what to do.  This would include how everyone who will be standing up with you is supposed to walk in, line up, and walk out before during and after the ceremony. 

A little bit of nervousness is good!

You're expected to be a little nervous.  Chances are that many of your guests have been through the same experience.  They will put themselves in your shoes when recalling their own wedding.  Others might not have had their weddings yet, so they'll get their turn to find out how nervous they might be.  

The most important thing to tell yourself, is that something would be wrong and you might not be taking your marriage seriously enough if you aren't just a little bit nervous. 

A nice deep breath when you begin to feel anxious.  Remember that excitement can give you an adrenaline rush and that's okay.  Cherish every moment of your entire day and have it etched in your memory. 

2.  I just know I'm going to cry, but what if I can't stop laughing either?  If he/she starts crying I know I will, too!

Crying and Laughing   Your officiant should be prepared for tears and provide tissues to give to you and even a member or two of your wedding party.  Nobody will think less of you for crying. Laughter is the best medicine. It also makes your guests relax.  Granted, it might be unplanned humor, but laughing at yourself will help you relax rather than wanting everything to be perfect. The best part is that those moments become some of your most cherished memories.  Remember that crying and laughing are normal and chemically their effects are very similar. They are healthy!

3.  What if I pass out?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  If you plan on drinking a lot after the rehearsal, you might want to reconsider that decision.  It's not usually the heat or nervousness that leads to this particular problem.  Stay hydrated and remember that alcoholic beverages do just the opposite.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Event Planners Keep Company with Great People, But They Don't Do This!

Yes, annually, we keep good company with those in the top five most stressful jobs.  You can count on us being surrounded by firefighters, airline pilots, enlisted military, police officers and other similar professions.

One thing that each of the other individuals above does not have to keep up with is having a website built as part of their profession.  An independent event planner does.  I found my web designer because they primarily create custom wedding and other event invitations.  I am fortunate enough to have them in my own backyard near Seattle and they aren't very far from the airport.  I would suggest that anyone from Seattle, since you know your way to the airport, make a trip to see them in Burien. They have clients from all over the world.  

Well, if you have ever had a website built, you know how excited you are for the big reveal!  I was surprised how quickly they got it done!  It was amazing!  I would suggest visiting for one of a kind invitations that they make.  I love going to their shop because it is a feast to the eyes to see their vast variety of designs!  You aren't allowed to take pictures in their store either.  It's like a surprise entrance to an abundance of creativity.

So here's my invitation for you to visit our new baby website.  No commas in that last sentence or it would be an entirely different celebration.  I assume no one names their baby Website.  I would certainly hope not.  I guess they could call him Webb.  Here you go!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: Plato and Event Planning

Planning Events with Less Stress: Plato and Event Planning: I agree with Plato's observation!  You'll find out what that is and why a little later.  Why do I feel so at home in the events Ind...

Plato and Event Planning

I agree with Plato's observation!  You'll find out what that is and why a little later.  Why do I feel so at home in the events Industry?  To me, my industry represents the opposite of personality traits in people that I prefer not to be around. You won't find me hanging around glass half-full people any more than necessary.  If a person cannot enjoy a good brainstorming session, I'm out of there.  If someone is satisfied with the status quo, I'm not their type of person.  If you can't have fun in whatever you want to endeavor, I'd rather be of help elsewhere.  In the events industry, we take fun very seriously.  Is that similar to an oxymoron? No.  We are all about our clients being able to cash in on the Return on Experience (ROX) as much or more than Return on Investment.  You can read more about experiential marketing being an absolute must if you are marketing to Millennials.


The events industry requires people who:

1.  Believe any idea can come to life!  They will dare you!
2.  Believe that stupid questions are required to come up with the best ideas.
3.  Believe if something has been done before, there has to be a more spectacular way to do it now or next time.
4.  Believe that each event is the most important day in their client's life no matter what the event is.
5.  Can anticipate problems before anyone else even dreams of what can happen.
6.  Thrive on turning on a dime.
7.  Thrive on converting problems into solutions that look intentional with spectacular results that will knock your socks off.

Do I get bored at events I attend for business?  Except for my industry's hosted events and meetings, I cannot even  b e g i n  to tell you how bored I've been sometimes.  If a topic is about the nuts and bolts of business, I can't wait to get out of there and do something creative.  I've found that cut and paste solutions will not work for me.  If I hear the sound of numbers crunching, it's like nails on a chalkboard.  You might ask, "How can you run a business without all of that?"  Here's why those don't matter as much to me.  If I am not in a creative, inspirational, fun space, there will be no numbers to crunch.  

It all boils down to being either right-brained or left-brained.  Creativity, or having a positive outlook come easier for some than others.  We are predominantly right-brained in the events industry.  I think everyone is a bit of right-brained and left left-brained in different situations, but people are predominantly one way or the other.  I have to share this link with you that will also explain right vs. left brain.  (I want you to pay particular attention to the name of the website!)  The current job market seeks people who can be both.  Employers prefer that someone have a degree in the humanities (Arts and Sciences) and then teach them about an industry. They want people who can create, think and solve.  If they have people who can make projects fun, just think of the abundance of ideas that would overflow!

I love it when someone says to me that planning or designing an event gives them nightmares.  Those are my dream jobs.  You know what is even more amazing?  It's showing that same person that they absolutely are creative!  It's my responsibility to bring it out of them.  Granted, it's somewhat like being a mid-wife, but creativity can be born.  "You can do it!  Just breathe. Not too much longer now! Push! Aaaah!  It's beautiful!  I'm so proud of you!  Good job!  What are you going to name it?"  They will never doubt their creativity again and will be rewarded time after time.

As promised, I want to impress upon you this thought.  That guy named Plato summed it up very well (yes, he did that a lot).  He said, "You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation".  So here's to "if you can't have fun doing something, don't do it!"  Aha!  I bet we know why people have been conducting business on golf courses forever!

I get some flack for using too many exclamation marks.  Do I care?  No!  However, I would describe my industry as an exclamation mark industry!  Don't be afraid to put exclamation marks in your life or business.  Your customers will appreciate it and remember you.  Your students will learn and remember more.  Your audience will listen and remember you.  You'll feel better ‼️‼️ Period.  End of sentence! 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Event-Changing Event Vendors Who Are Often Overlooked

All too often people who plan their own events are unaware of vendors that could make a huge difference in the success or the stress level of their social or business event.  For weddings, the most common regrets include not hiring a wedding planner or a videographer.  Statistics show that they are also the last vendors to be hired.  In fact, the most common time for people wishing they had hired a wedding planner is the day before the wedding or the day after the wedding.  

I dare say, that the same applies for any type of event.  People avoid hiring event planners because they think it will cost too much money.  In reality, (same with my own clients) people are surprised at how much money event planners actually save them. This happens through connections that the event planner has such as with new venues that are offering deep discounts, knowledge of options that are just as effective but cost less, knowing which questions to ask that can save thousands of dollars, helping people set priorities and stay with a plan.  Even using the wrong word can make all the difference.  Event planners also know what their clients are probably assuming about what is included in a vendor's services and chances are, it is more likely wishful thinking rather than fact.  A mistake not made is money saved.

What does daycare have to do with it?

I want to mention some vendors that people seldom, if ever, think about that would make a huge difference in the stress level on the day of their event.  Most commonly, we think of events as weddings, but I want you to stretch your mind to any event you might be planning. Let's begin with onsite day care.  If you don't think that addition will increase your Rsvp return rate, think again. There are people who will provide licensed day care at your event.  Some of them only work at events!  Some colleges have programs that can also help people out with providing onsite daycare.

Just imagine the gratitude for this service being offered at a client or employee appreciation event!  Literally, any event that involves parents with children.

How in the world are dogs, wedding ceremonies and honeymoons related?

We all know how crazy pet owners are over their furry family members with four feet. Who hasn't seen a picture of a dog playing the role of ring bearer?  Has anyone wondered what the role of the dog is after that or who is going to take care of them? There are pet sitters who will deliver your dog to your wedding and stay long enough to take the dog back to a person's house or at their facility.  This is especially helpful if the dog is going to be boarded there during a couple's honeymoon.  

It might be harder to think of this service being offered in a business setting.  Now that would be one perk many employees would appreciate.  Paying for your employee's pet care while they are on business trips?  A person can dream, can't they?

Who's going to help set up and tear down?

We know that for almost every task a person dreads doing, there is someone who loves doing that same thing, and you can hire them.  Set up and tear down at an event is a big one!  For large events involving family and friends, I have to warn the client that in reality seldom do these people live up to your expectations.  Add alcohol to the mix and you really diminish your odds of having help at the end of any event.  

Think beyond custodial services.  There are companies that will help you set up the tables and chairs, decor and the things that make you exhausted before your event even starts.  If you are saving money on a venue that does not provide those services, these people are worth their weight in gold.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...

Planning Events with Less Stress: Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...: In Washington State there are only two statements that have to be included in wedding ceremonies to make the marriage legal as long as the p...

Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...

Planning Events with Less Stress: Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...: In Washington State there are only two statements that have to be included in wedding ceremonies to make the marriage legal as long as the p...

Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Brooms and Cording!

In Washington State there are only two statements that have to be included in wedding ceremonies to make the marriage legal as long as the person marrying them is qualified to perform the ceremony.  The "Do you take" and "Do you take" statements are to prove that neither person is entering the marriage under duress.  The other required statement is simply with them being declared as husband and wife, husband and husband or wife and wife, spouses for life, whatever the case may be.  If these two statements are not recited or duplicated in some manner, Washington State technically, does not recognize the marriage.

Seldom does anyone want a ceremony with only the two required phrases.  At the minimum there are the so-called love, honor, cherish vows and the inclusion of some kind of ring ceremony.  Beyond that, is where the uniqueness that most couples crave comes into play for their own weddings.  So let's talk a bit about how sand, rocks, candles, wine boxes, roses, oathing stones, brooms, and cording accomplish that for a wedding ceremony.  Keep in mind that these are just starting points and that many couples add personalization to personalization!  People often enjoy borrowing customs from other cultures.  As a wedding officiant, this keeps things very interesting!


The Sand Ceremony

The Sand Ceremony involves at least two colors of sand that are usually placed in two glass containers and poured together by a couple or two or more family members into one container signifying that two lives or two families being blended together can never be separated.  

The Rock Ceremony

The Rock Ceremony is unique and includes guest participation.  For example, there would be a rock set on every chair and the guests hold the rock in their hands and make a wish for the happiness of the bride and groom and their life together.  The guests then place their "wish" into a container.  I've seen the bride and groom place the first rocks in the bottom of a box on which they've written faith, hope and love on them representing a good foundation and all the others wishes built upon that.  I suggested this type of ceremony for one couple whose wedding was outdoors and they hadn't thought about the consequences of having programs on each chair.  Obviously, they would not stay on the chairs and needed a paperweight!  It took on a very special meaning because for generations the bride's family had a cabin on Flathead Lake.  That lake is known for the stones there that are flat.  A family member delivered enough rocks from their cabin to be used for the ceremony.  

The Unity Candle Ceremony

This is the ceremony that most people are familiar with, but is not used as often because of most venues banning the use of candles.  Two candles are lit and are either used by the couple getting married or perhaps both of the couple's mothers who then light a single candle signifying the uniting of two families.  

The Wine Box Ceremony

The Wine Box Ceremony has at least a couple of variations as far as its purpose.  The couple will write a letter describing their love for their future spouse and during the ceremony, each will place their letter  into the wine box which has already had a bottle of wine placed in it.  Here's where the purposes can vary.  Some couples open the box on their first anniversary and read the letters to each other and celebrate with a glass of wine.  Other couples will save it for their first fight and read the letters to remind themselves of their love for each other and again relax with a bottle of wine.

The Rose Ceremony

The Rose Ceremony is one that can be used in a variety of ways, but the most traditional rose ceremony involves the bride and groom taking a rose during the ceremony and giving it to their now mother-in-law.  Again, it is a symbol of blending two families.

The Oathing Stone Ceremony

The Oathing Stone ceremony originates from Celtic tradition.  A bride and groom would place their hands on a large stone often near a river which would be considered a connection to their ancestors. They would sometimes etch their names in the stone.  This is also how carving initials in trees began.  Today, couples can buy a stone with their initials carved into it.  At their wedding ceremony they both hold together in their hands the stone while the vows are being read.  This would be difficult with vows they had written rather than listening to and responding with short phrases during a ceremony.

The Broomstick Ceremony

The Broomstick ceremony has its origins in parts of Africa.  Over many centuries, the significance of the broom changed in meaning.  However, it was one tradition that survived during slavery.  That in itself made the broom ceremony one which became more of a bad reminder of that era.  After Alex Haley's book and movie Roots, were was made famous in the 1970's, the interest in this tradition was rekindled.  It was and is also common in ancient and modern Celtic wedding ceremonies.  At a wedding, after the couple has been pronounced as a married couple, they both jump over the broom at the same time.  Now it represents the beginning of a new life together.  Ancient African meanings were not so charming in that whomever jumped over the broom the highest was to be the "ruler" of the household.  (I would have said, "Ladies, practice jumping...really high!")

The Handfasting Ceremony

The Handfasting Ceremony in another tradition from the Celtics.  Again there are many variations of this type of ceremony.  A cord or ribbon is used to bind together a couple's hands with the cord or ribbon binding wrapped once more over their hands for each vow that is recited.  This is literally where the expression "tying the knot" originated.

I could go into much more detail on the blending of cultures in wedding ceremonies, but that will have to wait until another time.  Including one of our funniest wedding officiating stories ever! 💝

As always, 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

Planning Events with Less Stress: What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?: There are many fabulous wedding officiants in the Seattle area.  I have great respect for all of them. In some parts of the country, offici...

What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

There are many fabulous wedding officiants in the Seattle area.  I have great respect for all of them. In some parts of the country, officiants are not even considered to be wedding vendors. Perhaps it's such a foregone conclusion that someone is going to be in that role.  Perhaps it's the seriousness of the role that makes officiants seem different from other vendor choices.  We aren't an optional decision when it comes to weddings.  Someone has to make the marriage legal.

Recently, I was speaking about statistics with someone from a lead site.  They send vendors comparison reports on how much time it takes for the average vendor to respond.  They also will say if your prices are higher and lower than others.  I was concerned and in disagreement with them that I was higher priced than others when I know what industry standards are for Officiants in our area. However, I was very pleased with how our conversation continued.  The vendor service representative then said something that I hope I remember in the future for other business decisions. She said, "Most of the officiants charge less but our best performing officiants are in a higher price range similar to yours".  

We discussed reasons for that.  The first was the introductory response and how well it is written. On this particular lead site, you only have 1,000 characters including spaces to help someone feel comfortable and confident enough to inquire further about hiring you on one of the most important days in their life.  The second contributing factor of success was followup.  Yes, even for wedding officiants followup is as much of an issue as it is for any other type of entrepreneur.

Time is our biggest investment. There's a lot of work that goes into preparing a special ceremony. With the initial consultation (60-90 minutes), the goal is to reach the essence of their relationship. The consultation needs to include topics from how they met, what a typical date is like, their hobbies, interests and how their personalities blend. I want to know who is better at leading and being practical and who is better is a supporting and encouraging role. My favorite clue into what makes them unique is hearing about their marriage proposal.  Many people meet online, and those stories can sometimes seem like a miracle that they even got to know each other.  The goal is to create a ceremony that reflects a couple's personality and hopes for the future.

Then the work begins.  I generally have enough to know what kind of ceremony they would like.  I know if they will be what my husband affectionately termed as "repeaters or non-repeaters".  Non-repeaters are lucky to get the words "I do" out and don't want to remember even the shortest phrases.  Other couples will say, "Why have a wedding ceremony if we aren't going to write our own vows?"  No two weddings are alike just as no two couples are alike.  I can't forget to mention rehearsals! Rehearsals are often very confusing without an officiant. Writing a ceremony is somewhat like writing the first chapter in a book.  The rest of the story is for the couple to compose.

I don't ever want to fall into the class of "cheap officiants".  Putting my heart and soul into getting a glimpse into the heart and soul of my couples is priceless.  It's more than just a legality or a contract to be recognized by a county and state and making sure everyone signs and dates on the right line. Much more!

Yes officiants often are placed in the role of a wedding planner even though it can appear like they are herding rabbits!  Are there really rabbit herders?  Doubt it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Waiting to Officiate a Wedding This Afternoon

Pre-Wedding Ceremony:

I'm still home but my mind is already at the wedding I'm officiating this afternoon.

Unlike the average couple getting married, I'm not nervous as their officiant.  Instead, I find myself in awe of the privilege I have with just the right words, to create a legal bond between two people that is already built on love.  We had the rehearsal yesterday, and I know that today I might not even recognize them because of the hair and makeup on the ladies and with the gents being all dressed up rather than in tank tops and shorts.

I'll finish this after the ceremony and while I still have my day-long smile, I'll have yet another flower girl or adorable ring bearer story to tell.  Until then, I cannot wait to see who I hand out the tissues to.  They are often given to the ones who don't think they'll need them.

Update to come several hours from now!

Post Wedding Ceremony Update!

I predicted correctly that I'd have another flower girl or ring bearer story to tell! In fact there were some firsts for me!  When kids do or don't do their jobs in these roles, it's still cute!  So what were these firsts?  Let's start with the flower girl.  Twice during the ceremony she walked from where the bridesmaids were over to the bride and said, "Just kiss!!"  Who couldn't laugh at that?  I didn't know if the bride was going to be able to compose herself!  

picture from another wedding
Okay, now for the ring bearer. He had a meltdown outside of the building and was face down on the deck drinking milk.  We were a little concerned that he would not want to hang onto a pillow so they tied the rings onto his favorite stuffed toy, Pluto. Someone had to go out to the deck to get Pluto with the rings.  Here's the other first!  The Best Man got to hold Pluto during the wedding ceremony! 

In all these years of officiating weddings, I've only been wrong with one wedding. How's that?  I know that the groom is going to shed the tears first.  Once again, I was right.  I never get tired of seeing tender moments like that.

As always,

Monday, August 1, 2016

Preventing "Are You Ready to Leave Yet?" at Your Events.

For Any Event, Prevent This! "Are You Ready to Leave Yet?"

You might know someone or maybe that someone is yourself who is ready to leave an event before it has even started.  I kind of feel that way about surgery, but some people feel that way about events and weddings.  I don't know if it's the opposite of the way kids can be on a road trip and they are saying, "Are we there, yet?" or maybe they grow up to be adults wanting to leave any event early.  You know who they usually are. Typically it's a husband leaning sideways toward his wife's ear to say, "Are you ready to leave yet?"  If it's really bad he might say, "I'll be out in the car".

When you're hosting an event you've obviously put a lot of time, money, thought and energy into something that will not last nearly as long.  A host will often feel disappointed or like a failure if their guests leave early.  Everyone should host an event to see what that might feel like. For a business event, it can feel like a failure to meet your ROI. (Return on Investment) but it's not really a good measure for that. There are a couple of simple things that will make people stay longer.  

For a social event, I found one thing that works to keep even the most reluctant attendees from leaving early!  In my experience, it's been having an ice cream cart or truck.  Trucks are better in hot weather, obviously.  Ben and Jerry's (my favorite) is only one of similar operations. Dessert trucks are great, too.  Everyone becomes a kid again and will find ways to get in line multiple times to try each flavor in a cone. Then, little justification is needed to try another flavor without a cone.   It reminds me of variables and probability.

Remember the cone holds the ice cream, but the ice cream holds the power!

Music is another key to having people linger. Music affects more areas of the brain and will also make people remember your event. When I'm helping a client plan an event, I frequently go into a science lesson as to why this is the case. 

Remember these simple tricks that will make your guests want to stay longer whether they know the reason or not!

As always,


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Planning a Wedding During Sadness or Tragedy

When Sad Things Happen During Good Times

Most people agree that planning a wedding can be stressful even during the best of circumstances.  We know that the world continues to turn even though you might be in the middle of planning a wedding and sometimes that includes events that happen in life that are very happy events, painfully sad or extremely frightening.

For years as a Wedding Planner I had a chance to see a large mixture of what life can hand down even at any time  when someone is planning a wedding.   These are things that most couples don't have to worry about, but life is a balance and gives us good and bad, happy and sad mixed up like trail mix.  Life is a path.   It's just the way life is and if a person can see the good that is always happening in some form or another, it helps tremendously.  

I admired the individuals so much for their strength who go through two of life's major events at once.  Sometimes I saw people move up a wedding just so a loved one who was in the process of dying could experience their wedding.  I also saw when, even with a rushed plan in place, it wasn't fast enough to make that final wish come true.  I saw bittersweet moments as a couple sped up a wedding before a deployment.  I couldn't help but feel that emotion and would often think of those who were deployed for the next year or so and hoped I would hear good news.  Another family experienced a birth and a death within less than a week before the wedding.  I've even had weddings I worked and found out that they had already had a small wedding so that their loved who had since passed away, could witness the wedding.

"We just don't talk about it....but we probably should".

Seldom does anyone talk about the normal emotions that are experienced during the wedding planning process, let alone when a death or other tragedy strikes during this time.  Even under normal circumstances, I've attributed the odd behavior of otherwise normal people to the fact that people are grieving even when there isn't any death around the time of a wedding.  Grieving is a process that just is an adjustment to major changes. It is often filled up with fear of the unknown.  We never know what a person is going through from a loss even when the loss might appear to be minimal to others.

Things you might feel when an accident, disease or death happens before the wedding to a friend or family member you are close to.

1.  Feeling guilty to be planning something that is happy.
2.  Feeling unsettled in being happy and sad at the same time.
3.  Feeling angry.
4.  Feeling totally confused on what to do, how to act, or whether you should postpone the wedding.
5.  Feeling of overwhelm.
6.  Feeling of appreciation for your spouse-to-be who is showing and giving you support.
7.  Feeling that your future spouse just doesn't understand what you are going through.
8.  Getting a new perspective on life that is putting you into serious analysis mode.
9.  A feeling of strength gained from a challenge unlike any you have experienced before.
10.  A feeling of wanting to pay respect to your lost or missing loved one at your wedding.

How can you blend a remembrance with a wedding?

Every individual experiences grief in their own way.  As much as your loved one would have wanted you to be very happy on your wedding day, there are bound to be some bittersweet moments.  It would be assumed that a wedding should not be a second memorial service, but it's perfectly understandable if a tribute is made in a loving manner.  It might be a matter of placing a rose on an empty chair.  Perhaps carrying a flower or flowers that represent your loved one's who are no longer living can feel like they are close to your heart on your wedding day.  I've seen grooms do something similar with their boutonieres.  I've also seen people place pictures of their ancestors in little picture frames on the cake table.  There are many ways to incorporate remembering a loved on your very important day.

Tears and laughter can be almost the same emotion sometimes.  It's your body's way of getting you through the good and the bad stress.  Indeed, there are happy stresses and sad stresses.

Don't hesitate to get your wedding officiant's advice on these matters and see how you can actually turn the negatives into something beautiful and meaningful for you. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wedding Etiquette Has Changed

Wedding Etiquette Has Changed

Wedding etiquette does change over time, and some of it needs to come back as a reminder.  

What Shall I Wear?

Every now and then I'll have someone say that they were surprised when they went to a wedding and a lot of the guests and even the bridal party were wearing black! It's very common for black to be one of the major wedding colors.  My first question to them is was there a particular cultural aspect to the wedding.  While black attire is bad for some cultures, white attire is taboo in other cultures regarding weddings. Also, when the economy is bad, bridesmaid dresses are shorter and wedding colors are darker during times of war.  

For most American weddings it is acceptable to wear black and is considered to have a very sophisticated look.  People attending an average American wedding would be more appalled if someone wore white.  My best advice before you attend any wedding when there is a culture represented that you aren't familiar with, is to do your homework.  I'm sure your friend or family member won't mind if you take enough interest to ask them specifically what you should wear.  I could have a year's worth of blog posts just on wedding traditions from different cultures.  When you think that you might have that figured out, you will also find that couples are borrowing aspects from all kinds of cultures.  Just be glad you don't live in an unmentioned Mediterranean country where the groom has to walk around with a fish tied to his leg for an entire day before the wedding. People have actually asked me if the fish has to be dead.  Yes, fish need water and the groom isn't walking around in water.

Registries Have Changed!

Some people are appalled that a couple actually had the nerve to have a honeymoon registry.  There are some very good reasons for having a honeymoon registry.  The average ages for a couple to get married now are 27 and 29.  They are delaying marriage for a number of reasons and many times it is because of financial reasons. Many of them have had college debt, have chosen first to buy a home together or they have had other things they wanted to accomplish before getting married.  In the meantime, they have acquired enough or more of the household items that they need.  However, they probably haven't put their focus on saving for a honeymoon. With honeymoon registries, guests can purchase as a gift to go towards anything from tours, dinners, local highlights or a luxurious spa and even upgrades.  We live in an experience economy which is particularly popular with millennials.

Etiquette for the 21st Century That Needs to Change or Is Changing!

If you haven't heard of unplugged weddings, you will and it can't come soon enough! We live daily with cell phones or tablets and most of them can take pictures.  This is the reason why  photographers love me.  When I officiate weddings, (with a couple's permission) the first announcement I make before a groom even walks down the aisle is an announcement to this effect.  

"On behalf of the ___ and ___  I am asking that you turn off all electronic devices in the form of cameras or cell phones.  ___ and ___ have paid for a professional photographer to take pictures during their ceremony and other cameras in use interfere with their lighting.  It also creates a safety concern if the doesn't know if everyone is seated or not.  Electronic devices also interfere with the sound system. Thank you for your consideration!"

Let's get real here!  A photographer was not hired to photograph someone's backside, flabby arms, tablet or the latest selfie stick!  Some things just can't be edited out! It's a shame for perfect shots to get ruined by someone else's self-absorbed behavior.  


That's all I'm going to say about them.  I've written several blog posts on that hot little topic.  I tell my clients about the service I offer to get people to turn in their Rsvp's with a better rate of return and much more quickly.  That's my trade secret and no one gets hurt in the process, by the way.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Janis Flagg
Event Planning
Wedding Officiating

Friday, June 3, 2016

Don't Think You Need a Wedding Rehearsal? Think again!

If You Think You Don't Need a Rehearsal, Think again!

First, here are some definitions for you and terms of reference.  Also, Bride and Groom are interchangeable with the word couple.  

The Processional is the part of the wedding when typically the officiant, the groom, all of the attendants including the ring bearer and flowergirl proceed to the ceremony or altar area followed by the bride with whomever is giving her away.

The Recessional is the part just after the couple is introduced to the "audience" when the couple first leaves the stage/ceremony area/altar followed by the bridal party and family.

Here are some benefits and recommendations regarding rehearsals:

Rehearsal Benefits (processional and recessional)

1.  It helps calm everyone's nerves feeling that they have a good idea of what will happen leading up to, during and immediately after the ceremony on your wedding day.

2.  On your wedding day, the fewer questions you have to answer the better.  You don't want everyone bombarding you on your wedding day.

3.  It will give you an idea of timing your processional to the music.  Even though a DJ often cannot attend a rehearsal due to possibly having multiple weddings on a weekend, you need to discuss options for timing of your processional.  Your DJ might want to preview the venue with you months or weeks in advance of the wedding, if they haven't worked at your venue.  Timing can be effected with  the length of the aisle and the number of people (alone or in pairs)   walking up to the ceremony area.  

4.  It's not uncommon for people in your wedding party to be complete strangers to each other.  They get a chance to at least recognize each other's  faces on the wedding day.

5.  Practicing the recessional is important, too.  As a rule of thumb, I recommend that following the ceremony (after being pronounced to their new status and after they are introduced to everyone) that the newly married couple gets to walk the full length of the aisle before the rest of the bridal party.  This allows every opportunity for them to be photographed at the first moments of them walking down the aisle with their first steps or happy dance as a married couple.  Next to go down the aisle would be the Maid of Honor and Bestman who would walk halfway down the aisle before the next pair of the bridal party begins walking.  

6.  If you have any major announcements, the most important people in your wedding are there.  They can be your ambassadors to spread necessary information to others on your actual wedding day.


1.  Make sure you are evenly spaced at the ceremony area.  I sometimes start the rehearsal with everyone at the ceremony area first.

2.  To make the pictures look nice, it should be predetermined that the guys have their hands placed in front of them or behind their backs.

3.  Anyone carrying bouquets should place them (in simple terms) at their belly button!  The exception would be if the bridesmaids were cradling a larger single, long-stemmed flower to the inside of their elbow instead of a bouquet.  (in the crook of their arm but still, they should look uniform during the ceremony).

4.  It looks nicer if everyone stands to form a slight arc and not look like little tin soldiers.  If everyone takes a half step sideways towards the "audience" and slightly angles to be looking at the officiant and couple, it looks good but it also is important to be able to see subtle clues from the officiant during the ceremony.  It sometimes helps to line up on the stage or ceremony area so that attendants can have eye contact with their counterparts.  For example, the Best Man and Maid of Honor would be able to have eye contact and the same with everyone else down the two lines.

5.  If for some reason one of your attendants, is unable to attend the rehearsal, make sure that the person that they will be walking with them is introduced to them on the wedding day.  Preferably they are introduced in advance of pictures that are often taken prior to the ceremony.  Whoever was able to be at the rehearsal should fill that person or persons in on what is going to take place during the processional, how everyone is going to be standing during the ceremony and the same with the recessional.

6.  It's not a bad idea to ask people to not treat the night before your big day like it's a bachelor or bachelorette party.  What they drink that evening directly influences the wedding the next day.  Nothing wastes the rehearsal or mars a wedding more than one or more of the wedding party getting drunk.  It's time for everyone to at least pretend to be mature and respectful but still have fun.  

Order of a processional for a traditional modern American ceremony.  It can vary from one religion to another, be customized or adapted depending on the venue layout.  Nothing is written in stone anymore for most weddings, but it's nice to have some guidelines.  Neither the order of seating nor the recessional is shown in the diagram.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies

Planning Events with Less Stress: Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies: Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies! Okay, here we have it.   There are two big reasons why people are choosing unplugged w...

Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies

Pulling the Plug on Plugged Wedding Ceremonies!

Okay, here we have it.   There are two big reasons why people are choosing unplugged weddings.  In case you don't know what an unplugged wedding is, it is when no electronic devices are allowed other than for those who have been hired or chosen to take pictures or operate the sound system.  
~~Number 1~~

I officiate weddings.  When one wedding photographer asked me before a wedding if the wedding was going to be unplugged, I said, "I always talk about that with my couples and I've had no one refuse my suggestion to have an unplugged wedding!  That's the first announcement I make before anyone walks down the aisle".  That particular photographer looked over to the other photographer and said, "We love her, don't we!"

When guests are taking pictures it interferes with the photographer's lighting.  They want to do the very best job possible and then someone comes out of the woodwork and snaps a picture.  So much for setting up that perfect shot!  At a wedding, there are some moments you just cannot recapture!  Professional photographers will give you a link to pictures that your guests can download.  As you'll see below it's also very dangerous to get in the way of a photographer..for the guest and the photographer.

~~Number 2~~

The second reason is that the cameras, cell phones and what have you, interfere with with the sound system.  I don't pretend to know all of the technical reasons for that, but it's been confirmed by many professional DJ's.  I'm happy to not have the sound messed up when I'm officiating a wedding!

Enjoy the other reasons to have an unplugged wedding!

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Saturday, February 20, 2016