Northern California Wedding Planner | Wedding Day Essentials

We keep our clients organized with a checklist during the planning process as we guide them to their wedding day, but the goal is to be done with all of those items before the week of the wedding.  So pin this easy list to your boards now, or post it on your fridge to remind yourself to keep it simple!

Top 5 Wedding Day Essentials

Despite what you see on The Knot or Pinterest, you don't need to do all the things and buy all the stuff.  Less is more when it comes to a wedding, it's about the experience and making memories with your guests! We keep our clients organized with a checklist during the planning process as we guide them to their wedding day, but the goal is to be done with all of those items before the week of the wedding. 

Here's our break down of the wedding day essentials: 

The-530-Bride_Wedding Day Essentials

All of our wedding planning clients get to use our planning dashboard to keep them organized, plus it's so rewarding to check off all of the items on a to do list! We'll be posting tips on organizing your wedding planning so stay tuned!

~ Happy Planning ~ 

Northern California Wedding Planner | Here's Your Sign

Pinterest serves up wedding "inspo" on the daily, brides can become quite addicted to it because of the very real fear of missing out (affectionately called FOMO.)  We like to scroll through Pinterest as much as anyone else however we know that a wedding can't and shouldn't be everything you see on Pinterest all at the same time.  

the-530-bride_Pinterest Rabbit Hole

Often at the beginning stages of planning we will ask a couple if they have a Pinterest board or any photos they may have saved as inspiration, everything from the type of lighting/atmosphere to a color scheme.   We pull details from these boards and if we start to see a pattern or if the couple is able to define what it is that they loved about the particular photo or detail then we know we are onto something.  The goal is to find a focal point that you really care about and work on tying the other elements to this.  We also take your venue and gown style into consideration.   

Trends come and go. From the runway, motor vehicle trends, graphic design and home design there will always a new trend. "For 2018, our goal is to simplify and focus on getting to the root of what is necessary and essential. If a room is thoughtfully designed, there is less need to bombard the space with accessories and fluff to make the room feel complete." - Olivia Korenberg and Jenn Pablo, (co-founders of TwoFold Interiors )  As a wedding planner we'd like to aim for your wedding to be timeless and fun while incorporating your personalities and a even a few trends that you are in love with.

For the last 3-5 years or so, chalk board signs have become popular but also on the side of extreme because let's face it you don't need a sign for every aspect of your day.  To be fair this trend was also very popular with interior design.  Dining rooms or kitchens were adorned with "EAT" signs or "Coffee" above the coffee maker.  Full chalkboard walls also had a moment in home design, but have began to be replaced with other surfaces.  Who here has been greeted by a chalk board sign at the last wedding you attended..**raises hand!

We were curious what others thought about some of the wedding trends.  Here's Refinery 29's take on Pinterest Trends - Lookout Burlap, Mason Jars, Macrame, Naked Cakes, Chalkboard Signs & Floral Crowns you're just a few on the chopping block.  

What are your thoughts on wedding trends, was there any trend you were surprised to see mentioned on this list?

Northern California Wedding Planner | He Put a Ring On It! ~ Delphine and David

When a wedding planner dreams of one day walking down the aisle with the love of her life, the dream will likely involve a detailed timeline, a list of trusted event partners and of course an open bar.  Beyond that, just like anyone who dreams of her day it is still the little things that make the experience such an exciting time in life.

So when your biz bestie and the other half of The 530 Bride get's engaged you do your happy dance and swoon over the engagement photos! Beyond excited for Delphine and David, beautifully captured by TreCreative! 
- Veronica

We'll be keeping you up to speed on the milestones of getting these two down the aisle next September, but in the meantime you can check out the post over at theTreCreative Blog!

Northern California Wedding Planner | The Unspoken Rules of Being a Bridesmaid

Beyond the dresses, the bouquets and uncomfortable shoes is the unspoken rules of being a bridesmaid.  If you've been a bridesmaid, maid of honor or even a just a close friend to a couple who are getting married than you can probably relate.

Good vibes only

Photo by Jack Vu Photography

Photo by Jack Vu Photography

From a wedding planner standpoint we get to meet a lot of wedding parties, with that we see the good bad and the ugly.  From the bridesmaids who step up and help make sure the bride is good spirits the week of the wedding, even after countless hours of coffee dates that turn into counseling sessions or late night panic texts about the decor.  We thank you for all of that support for the couple!

Typically we grab a phone number from the bridal party and the groomsmen so that we can touch base without bugging the bride or groom while they are getting ready.  It is a huge help.

Not all weddings have a full service wedding coordinator who is there to handle all of the tasks involved with a wedding weekend.  Offer your help in a task that you can own, maybe if you have a truck offer to help load the couples personal decor on the morning after their wedding, or if you can make sure the bride has her go-bag with her comfy shoes, lip gloss and other handy items keep that close by for photos if she needs a touch up. Just those small steps are a big help.  

Sometimes there are personalities who can take over a wedding day experience for the bride and groom or even a member of the wedding party who has indulged too much and causes issues or damages that ultimately reflect back on the couple.  Not cool. If someone in the wedding party has had to much to drink, try to deflect the situation to keep it away from the bride and groom if possible.

We don't support the bridezilla notion, however it is common for brides to be under a wee bit of stress with all of the activities and planning leading up to their wedding day.  It can be easy to focus on those moments where maybe your friend is not him or herself.  But ultimately if you can put those moments aside and celebrate the couple we promise you will have so much fun.

Our advice to couples is to choose your crew with your heart, but don't over assign tasks that would set them up to fail.  If you would like ideas on what your wedding party can help with ask your coordinator or even your venue/event team to see if there is anything that would be needed.  Otherwise just make it your mission to enjoy the heck out of your wedding day and dance the night away.

~ Happy Planning~

Northern California Wedding Planner | Laura and Leah ~ S.F City Hall & Foreign Cinema

From our fun phone sessions to visiting them in San Francisco to walk their space with them, we've been pretty hooked on Laura and Leah from the start.  If there is one thing that keeps us so passionate about what we do, it would definitely be the connections that we make with our couples.  Our glimpse into their world was cozy, energetic and so genuine. 

Photo by Amanda Wei Photography

Photo by Amanda Wei Photography

It was no surprise that Laura and Leah's engagement shoot was featured in the Knot Northern California edition, shot by Amanda Wei Photography.  We knew their photos would be super adorable.

When it came to planning details with Laura and Leah, they were quick to make decisions and knew just what they wanted.  They had already selected their date and ceremony location, and we were so excited to be a part of a ceremony at the San Francisco City Hall.  The architecture and the romantic buzz of couples getting married all around us was so fun.  Next, they chose Foreign Cinema for their reception and it couldn't be more perfect for an intimate event.

Their day was captured beautifully by Amanda Wei of Blueberry Photography

Their day was captured beautifully by Amanda Wei of Blueberry Photography

Our favorite part of the evening had to be Laura and Leah's salsa dance that was so perfectly them, and their smiles just showed how in love they are!  

Foreign Cinema blew us away with their amazing staff & service not to mention the passed appetizers followed by a four course meal with delicious dessert.  Guests did not leave hungry, and they danced the night away.  We couldn't have loved their wedding day more, just an absolute joy to share in the love between the two of them and their beautiful family & friends.

Creative Partners:
Planning & Styling: The 530 Bride // Photography: Amanda Wei Photography
// Ceremony: San Francisco City Hall // Reception: Foreign Cinema // Florals: Ampersand SF // DJ: Sunny Dawn // Linen Runner:  WeDo Designs // Hair and Make-up: Lavish Hair and Make-up Studio

Northern California Wedding Planner | Pricing & Value

How to Plan Your Wedding While on a Budget

Technology has not only changed the way that we communicate but also the way we live our every day lives.  We rely on our phones, devices, social media sites and apps to deliver the information that we are looking for.  Whether you are researching homes in your area for future home buying, or planning a weekend trip or even grocery shopping; you will make decisions based on the desired outcome/experience, cost and value.

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As a consumer we see pricing all day, every day.  Do you choose to fill up at a gas station because of it's proximity to your home or workplace, or is it based on the price per gallon? Maybe the staff is friendlier or they carry your favorite beverage.  

How does this relate to the wedding world? Well you are still very much a consumer when it comes to planning your wedding, so when you are starting to research things like "How much do weddings cost" or doing a Google search by area to see the options for DJ's, Wedding Venues, etc in your city etc you may be already forming your opinions or perceived value before ever meeting with the business. 

Even if you decide not to hire a wedding coordinator, Please, please, please use caution when booking services off of Facebook buy%2Fsell groups from people who are throwing their hat into the ring for the cheapest pri.png

We work closely with the event partners that make up the local wedding industry, so we see more than the prices we see the people behind the service. The husband and wife team that provides amazing photo and video while making their couples relax and laugh during their day, the baker who makes a whole new recipe to ensure that the bride with a gluten allergy has the cake of her dreams.  The rental companies who launder, iron & press every linen that goes out their door to make sure it is picture perfect for every event.  There are years of experience, so much wisdom and even more love that is poured in from every angle of a wedding day. 

Our couples can trust that when we refer them to event partners that we recommend it is because of our experiences with them and their reputation for quality, not because of any special discounts, kick-backs or because they are the least expensive.  Budgets are a real thing, but it is extremely important to look at your overall budget and decide where to prioritize your spending.  This doesn't mean ask for discounts or haggle prices, this means being willing to have less coverage in one area and allocating this to another based on your specific priorities.  

Even if you decide not to hire a wedding coordinator, Please, please, please use caution when booking services off of Facebook buy/sell groups from people who are throwing their hat into the ring for the cheapest price.  Your wedding day is not a time that you want to learn the lesson of "getting what you pay for."

Here are our top tips for planning your wedding while on a budget:
1. Set a Budget - That's right, if you are on a "budget" you should know what that budget looks like.  If you are comfortable spending $1200 on flowers make sure that it fits into your budget and how that fits with your rentals, catering or bar funds etc.

2. Keep Your Guest List in Check - No surprise co-workers or inviting the mail man until you have this guest list locked in. Remember your guest count is tied to costs for catering, bar, rentals & decor and sometimes even the price for your venue.  

3. Hire Professionals - Saving $200 on your photography is great, except when the photographer you booked off of Craigslist doesn't have experience with retrieving images of a corrupted SD card or didn't plan adequately for travel time and shows up late.  Look for insured, experienced & capable event partners who you feel can provide the wedding day experience you have envisioned.  Consider making smaller monthly payments so that as you get closer to your wedding date you have paid the balances down.

4. Create Focal Points - Use your decor and your rental budget dollars wisely.  Create a back drop behind your sweetheart table or design an interactive guest area that provides a focal point for guests rather than trying to "over decorate" your entire venue.

5. Choose Guest Experience vs "Stuff" - When you choose a photobooth you are creating an experience and an interactive favor/keepsake for your guests.  We love monogramed coasters as much as anyone else but at the end of the night there will be a lot more coasters left lying around than the photobooth pictures because guests hold on to them.  Glassware is another thing that we see go to waste because guests leave them behind and now you have 120 wine glasses with your name on them that will sit in your garage when you could have allocated that towards something else.

~ Happy Planning!~ 

Northern California Wedding Planner | A Wedding Planner's Monday

In the wedding industry, a Saturday isn't really a Saturday.. and Sundays are the time to recover from a 12-14 hour work day.  So what does a Monday look like in the life of a wedding planner?  

It's Monday, knock out your to-do list and feel good about the week ahead! Hey, we won't judge you if you finished a pot of coffee to yourself today! 

It's Monday, knock out your to-do list and feel good about the week ahead! Hey, we won't judge you if you finished a pot of coffee to yourself today! 

We'd love to say that it starts with waking up like a rock star and preparing for a week of J-Lo like awesomeness head set and all, but let's keep it real... we wake up with a messy bun just like everyone else! Can you say coffee?

What is it like as a wedding planner? We get asked a lot actually, so here is a snippet for you! Often our Monday's start with returning emails, sending additional information to couple's who have inquired about our planning services over the weekend and then updating our social media. (if you haven't followed us on IG yet, please do! @530bride) 

We check in with our planning clients, making sure they know what's happening next and what we will be working on this week.  Next we head out to return any rentals from our events over the weekend from linens, floral vases, cake stands etc.  

In the afternoons we catch a podcast from our favorite Wedding Industry groups and work on some housekeeping items like updating our website, adding details to our outlines and checklists and taking time to communicate with our team as a post-wedding brief.

After the day is in full swing we enjoy seeing sneak peeks and blog posts from the talented photographers from the recent weddings we've been a part of.  Like this recent blog post from Jen and J.D's day captured by the uber talented Katelyn Owens! 

Katelyn Owens  Jen and JD

What does your Monday look like? We hope you have a fabulous week! 
~ Happy Planning!~

Northern California Wedding Planner | Brooke & Austin Highlight Reel

We had to share the highlight video from Brooke and Austin's wedding day because it brings us right back to their beautiful day, and they are truly a wonderful couple.  Brooke and Austin chose Mountain House Estate for their wedding venue in Cloverdale, CA and it was the perfect setting.

From the epic toast by the Father of the Bride to their smiles throughout, Katie B Images did a fantastic job capturing their day!

Northern California Wedding Planner | Choosing The Right Wedding Coordinator

There are a ton of posts on the ol' interwebs highlighting the reasons why you should hire a wedding planner (lots of reasons,) but we won't reinvent the wheel here.  What we will do though, is cover some of the ways to determine what level of service you need and how to choose the right coordinator for you. 

Photo by Wonderfelle Media 

Photo by Wonderfelle Media 

Communication is Key
Just like in any healthy marriage, communication is so important from day one.  How do you communicate with others, and what is your preferred method of communication (planning dashboard, email, phone calls, face time, or in person etc.) Ask your potential wedding planner about how they typically communicate with their couples and mention what your preferences are to see how this aligns with their process.  How quickly are you expected to respond to your coordinator, and vice versa?

Clear Expectations 
No one likes to feel like their needs aren't being met.  How do you envision your wedding planning process? Do you want to be hands on with decision making and details/logistics or would you prefer that your planner works primarily on the details then comes to you for your final decisions/approvals? 

Feeling the Vibe
We work as team of planners not only because of a busy wedding schedule but also because personalities can match up differently and we want to ensure that our couples are feeling the vibes and connecting with their planner.  Typically our couples spend about a year with us give or take, so we get to know each other and connect.  It's literally the best part of what we are so blessed to do.  

Relationships 
Working in the event industry, we have forged relationships with a strong network of event partners from Venues, DJ's, Caterers, Florists and Bakers to name a few.  When our couples ask for recommendations we have the highest confidence in our vendor teams because they have a proven track record of only the best service.  We know who goes above and beyond, who is responsive to emails/requests and is easy to work with.  This saves our clients a lot of time because they aren't starting from scratch when selecting their vendors.  So choosing a planner who has an established reputation is very important.

Experience
Relationships and experience seem to go hand in hand, but we break this down because it is easy for anyone to all themselves a wedding planner.  However, until someone has worked their way though weddings and all sorts of logistics, they won't know enough about real life problem solving, managing large crowds or any other stressful aspect.  Read reviews, and feel free to ask for past clients so that you can hear first hand about what to expect. 

Value
When you are planning a wedding it makes sense to want to know the cost up front. "What is this going to cost me?" However when booking vendors of any category we urge you to think of the value first of what the vendor offers, their experience in the industry and reputation.  Booking someone based purely on price can often lead to frustration.  We believe in being cost effective and budget friendly while delivering excellent service for our couples.

We hope that you find your A Team for your wedding day, if you have questions or need assistance feel free to shoot us a note!

~ Happy Planning!~ 

Northern California Wedding Planner | Engagement Session Tips

Tips on How to Plan Your Engagement Session

We could never tire of seeing the photo galleries from our couple's engagement sessions, we love to see a glimpse into their relationship and their style.  Pinterest has definitely stepped up the bar for engagement photos, but it is important to be yourselves and plan a shoot that is comfortable for you.   Here are our top tips with a few of our favorite engagement shots!

Location Location!

Choosing the location for your engagement session is super important, because it is part of the story that your images are going to tell.  Do you see yourself on a mountainside or maybe by the ocean? What about sipping coffee together downtown in your favorite coffee shop or bookstore? 

Photo by Matthew Lim Photography

Photo by Matthew Lim Photography

Lighting is Everything

Once you've settled on a location with your photographer, consider the lighting/time of day that you have envisioned.  Typically sunrise or just before sunset lends itself to ideal lighting for outdoor sessions.  Above is one of our favorite shots by Matthew Lim that just captures the essence of Dara & Nick with amazing lighting!

Planning Your Wardrobe 

We recommend asking your photographer for advise on what to wear based on your location, lighting and style.  Wearing stripes can be tricky for example, or making sure that your straps on your gown or undergarments are secure so that you don't go back later and wish you had adjusted your strap etc.  Statement necklaces or fun pieces like colorful shoes or accessories can make your photos pop!

Northern California Wedding Planner | Chico Wedding ~ Anndria & Razz

This wedding was fun from the moment we met Anndria, her laugh and high energy personality kept things light and we were always excited to see what else she had crafted for her wedding day (this girl can rock the Cricut machine!) 

anndria-razz_billings-photography

We can't wait to see their full gallery, but you can check out their amazing vendor team below for more information! 

Photographer: Billings Photography
Venue: White Ranch Events, Chico
Florist: Little Red Hen Floral and More
Catering: Roots Catering 
Cake: Cinful Desserts
DJ: The Wedding DJ 
Planning: The 530 Bride  

Northern California Wedding Planner | Foresthill Wedding ~ Rebecca & Justin

We get to work with amazing couples and wedding professionals, so when Christopher Armstrong reached out about one of his couple's who were in need of a wedding coordinator we were excited to learn more! Rebecca and Brandon are super sweet and one of those couples who are so adorable together you just fall in love with them! 

Their wedding venue was the Forest Hill Veterans Memorial Hall tucked away in the beautiful trees of Foresthill, CA.  The setting was absolutely peaceful and beautiful which made sense for a couple who love the outdoors. Fun fact, their date (April 22nd fell on Earth Day!)

Rebecca & Brandon_Christopher-armstrong-photography
Rebecca-and-justin_Christopher-armstrong
rebecca-brandon_photobooth

Northern California Wedding Planner | The Fine Print

Booking your wedding venue is an exciting milestone, you've found the place where your family and friends will gather to celebrate with your marriage.  When you sign your venue agreement don't let your excitement rush you into signing before you have read the policies of the venue in close detail.  

Venue Policies

Dreaming of a romantic candle-lit reception or a sparkler send off? Want to party until 2 am? It is very possible your venue policy prohibits open flame and has an ordinance that requires music to be off by 10 or 11 pm.  Maybe you want to bring in an outside caterer, double check that you are able to choose your vendors and if there are any additional fees for doing so.  Bring your list of must-haves/wants with you to a venue appointment and go over each item.  

Access

From a timeline standpoint, the first thing I want to know is when you will have access to the venue and what the set-up and break-down terms are.  Best case scenario is having access to the venue for rehearsal including some additional time for setting up tables and chairs (without linens if outdoors.)  Not only does it save time for the wedding day, but it also allows couples to see the table placement, aisle and other set-up to make sure they approve of the layout.  Will guests be able to leave their cars in the parking lot after the reception if they called a cab? These are important questions to ask your wedding planner!

Alcohol/Bar 

Be sure to confirm if outside alcohol is permitted, and the requirements for serving.  The venue may require you to hire security and the number of guards may depend on the guest count and the type of alcohol you are serving.  For example, if you have 150 guests and the venue requires 2 guards, then figure $25-40 per hour for each guard for 5 hours plus travel. 

Clean-up

This is the one area that couples often underestimate, because until you have gotten married you just won't understand how long the wedding day is as a whole, but how fast the reception goes by! You'll need to have all of your personal items, rentals & decor packed in addition to ensuring that all venue requirements are met (tables and chair put away, kitchen/common areas cleaned, and even removing garbage.) Unless you have several volunteers this may not be feasible in the 45 minutes to an hour that you have to clear out.   The real question is, do you want your wedding party or family to clean after your wedding?

We totally get it, Pinterest has all of these inspiration photos that will drive you crazy until you find just the right place to hold your wedding.  We just want to be sure our couples have all of their needs met along the way!

~ Happy Planning~

Northern California Wedding Planner | Communicating The Details

On many levels technology has changed the game.  At our fingertips we have hundreds of apps for making our lives easier.  From collecting our thoughts on visual boards, taking notes, playing music, tracking finances, electronically signing, planning your outfit, scheduling transportation, creating graphics, sending a cup of joe; you name it..there is an app for it.  

The-530-Bride_Communicating-details-icons

While we have come so far in technology and creating ways to "connect," the one shortfall is that we have tried and failed to replace the human element.  An app cannot do the one thing that matters most for a successful event. Execution. Expressing your priorities and having a trusted planner on-site to ensure that all of the details from your notes, Pinterest board, email, vendor agreements etc are actually delivered, assembled, utilized in the degree that you intended on your wedding day.  

When we see all of the articles and apps out there to plan your wedding, it makes us want to yell from the rooftops that phone apps and planning websites don't have nothin' on the behind the scenes magic that comes from a wedding planner working with a team of professional vendors.  

iPod's will never replace a DJ who can emcee your event and keep the guests engaged.  Raise your hand if you have been to an event where the ipod awkwardness was what you remembered more than the beautiful flowers or great food. (Raising Hand)  The same can be said for not having a professional photographer capture your day, a friend with a nice camera won't know the ins and outs of photographing a wedding. 

So how do you communicate your details after you have been planning for a year? We call it a brain dump, not a glamorous term but essentially you need to get all of these ideas and plans out of your brain and on to paper.  If you know exactly how you want your welcome table set up, then try to do a mock set-up using the items that you have or sketch out an example.  When you pack your items to bring to your venue, label each box of what is inside and where it needs to go. For example "Serving utensils for sweetheart table" etc.  We schedule master planning sessions with all of our couples where we go through how they would like their event to flow, set-up and break-down of what items they are bringing versus what is being rented, what needs to be packed or returned to rental companies etc. 

If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, reach out to your local wedding planner for tips on how to feel organized and prepared for your wedding day! 

~ Happy Planning!

Northern California Wedding Planner | Where to Start

When couples reach out to us, often they are primarily wanting to get an idea of where to start after getting engaged.  Hey it's an exciting, overwhelming and somewhat confusing time, totally get it!

where-to-start_The-530-Bride

We love getting to start the process with couples from the beginning because we are able to first understand what the couple's priorities are for their wedding experience.  We take that information and build an outline of vendors who we feel would be not only a good match based on style and budget, but also someone who would vibe well with the couple.  Building relationships is important to us, as planning your wedding is personal so having a connection really makes a difference. 

Once we have established a budget, style and must-haves list, we begin the venue and event partner selection process.  Then we review each venue's amenities such as tables & chairs being included, having an onsite getting ready area for bride and groom, kitchen/staging areas etc.  It is easy to get attached to the look/style of the venue, but we encourage couples to see a side-by-side comparison break down of at least three venues. 

The top three venues will then get a mock-up budget breakdown and design concept for the couple to choose from.  You can read more on getting started with selecting your venue & vendors here