Northern California Wedding Planner | Newly Engaged - Top F.A.Q's

If you’re secretly reading this at work while your boss is away - we get it, the excitement of being engaged is sort of distracting so you are starting to try to get the ball rolling with your wedding plans. We’re going to cruise through the top frequently asked questions from newly engaged couples!

One of our favorite engagement sessions by Matthew Lim Photography check out the full  blog post

One of our favorite engagement sessions by Matthew Lim Photography check out the full blog post

How do we choose a wedding venue?

If you read a few of our posts here, you’ll quickly see a pattern of us recommending to determine your budget before booking your wedding venue. Okay, we know budget isn’t a fun topic right off the bat but trust us when we say how important it is because it will determine how much you can spend in other areas of your wedding such as food, alcohol and entertainment. Comparing amenities and the amount of access you will have to the space is another important factor, a local wedding planner can help you easily compare and narrow down the search. Lastly, sometimes the venue search simply comes down to just knowing how you feel when you’re onsite. Hop over to Butte County Weddings for a list of venues!

What’s the average wedding cost?

This question is a little harder to answer because there can be so many factors from the size of the guest count, time of year, style of the wedding, food & alcohol etc. However you can read these posts about budget breakdowns: Service Fees // Alcohol Budget // Catering Budget

Do we really need a DJ/Emcee?

A DJ or a band with an emcee will make a huge difference in guest experience because they will have an idea of what is happening next, and the DJ will be able to interact & read the crowd on what music is keeping everyone on the dance floor. Now, if your wedding is 20 guests enjoying a 5 course meal in a more intimate setting you may be able to find a more suitable music solution such as an acoustic musician if dancing isn’t the main focus.

It feels like there is so much to do, where do we start?

It can definitely feel overwhelming when there is so much noise, from Pinterest and Instagram to wedding websites giving you the daily countdown.. but understanding what is a priority to you as a couple comes first. We’d say that meeting with a wedding planner for a no-obligation consultation right from the start can help you get a sense of the local wedding scene and we can speak from experience that we are always happy to point you in the right direction even if you decide that you want to do the bulk of the initial planning yourself.

Remember, this is a fun & happy occasion so stay true to yourself and to your partner during the planning process. Life does go on after a wedding but our focus is to help you make the most of this amazing chapter in your lives!

~ Happy Planning!

Northern California Wedding Planner | Wedding Day Roles & Responsibilities

So who does what on your wedding day?  This can be confusing, and sometimes you just don't know what needs to be done in the first place..read on for just 5 of the many roles that are essential for a seamless wedding day!

It's scientifically proven that you can't be in two places at once so how can you reduce the stress of making sure that everything is done according to plan on your wedding day? This question should be considered long before you hire your wedding vendors, because if you select a venue, caterer or rental company who does not set-up the tables & chairs or handle any of the labor - you'll need a small army to take on the task.  Want the short version? -- > Meet with a wedding planner who can help you book full service professionals! 

1) Tables and chairs - This is one that seems to sneak up on people because you may have only considered that you need 150 chairs for your guest count, but will you need to rent two sets (ceremony + reception) or have one set that needs to be moved over during cocktail hour? Table set-up is straightforward in theory but you do want to ensure that all of the tables are spaced evenly and leave enough room for chairs/guest movement. A full service caterer is well equipped with an efficient staff to handle the set-up and break-down of tables, chairs and food service areas for your event. 

2) Centerpieces & Decor - We love when couples personalize their wedding by incorporating design elements that are authentic to them as well as photos and signage. As wedding planners we assist with overseeing the placement of your rentals and putting the final touches & personal decor together for your welcome table, ceremony area, guest tables etc. 
Tip: Try to hold back the temptation to go crazy on Etsy, Amazon, Pinterest and other rabbit holes so that you won't need a U-Haul just for all of your decor.  We recommend finding focal points that have an impact and being conservative with extra items - sometimes less is more! 

3) Guest tables - You probably have an idea where we are going with this by now - but it is imperative that you have a catering staff on board who is prepared with the correct event details, brings adequate staffing, and will handle bussing/clearing plates & garbage etc.  Don't get left with plates piled high at your guest tables and dishes to wash for 150 guests, that's not cool.

4) Pop Fizz Clink - Thinking of your wedding has you reaching for the champagne bottle - but hold that thought! What will your guests be drinking out of (glassware or disposables?) and who will be providing/delivering/stocking/serving and last but not least - cleaning up your bar? 
Be sure to double check with your venue about required license/insurance requirements for the bartender

5) Order of events - A wedding day goes by so fast and there is only so much lighting to go around, having an organized timeline including all of the photos that you are planning to incorporate is important.  Your wedding planner and photographer will work together on the timeline details along with your DJ and caterer to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  Your wedding planner will be there to cue each element (ceremony processional, wedding party introductions, toasts etc) while your DJ will be the emcee to keep guests informed throughout the evening. 

We hope these 5 wedding day responsibilities are helpful for you, and that you have a rockstar team to handle the details! If you have questions about tasks or need more information to organize your vendors feel free to reach out or leave a comment below! 
~ Happy Planning!~ 

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 | 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.  

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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 | Creating Your Vendor Team

In the movies wedding planning sure looks glamorous! We won't lie there are some pretty great perks to being a wedding planner like being able to witness so many beautiful wedding days, surrounded by lovely florals and decor.  With that being said, the point we want to hit home is that no one vendor is solely capable of executing the logistics of a wedding day.  We are absolutely a team and we rely on other professionals to be experts at their craft.  We are sharing a handy guide on venue and vendor selection, so make sure to grab your free PDF.

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Today we met with wedding vendors who each blew us away with their incredible passion for their profession and for serving couples.  A florist who can take a few inspiration photos and pull pieces that took the design to the next level and made the bride so excited about her upcoming wedding she was instantly glowing.  Later in the afternoon we met with a DJ who gave great advice about the floor plan and had excellent song recommendations to help the couple capture the energy and essence of their relationship into their reception.  While every wedding is unique, there are common practices for weddings and large events that are important to not only keep the event running smooth but to also enhance the couple's experience with their guests.

Wedding budgets can be tricky and understandably it is tempting to want to start cutting costs or to reach out to friends and family who have various connections or interests in related fields.  Personally, if I could give one piece of advice to couples it would be to hire professionals across the board.  While aunt Linda bakes excellent cakes for birthdays and family reunions, taking on your wedding cake is another ball game!

So what goes on behind the scenes amongst vendors? How do they communicate and who gets to decide what is happening when? Well first off, you are the client and can decide when you want to cut the cake! Aside from those details, the main goal is to make the most of your day (it goes by so fast!)  Our preference is to help couple's curate their vendor team based on budget and style preferences but often for event management and partial planning packages the majority of the vendors have already been selected.

When we communicate with your vendors we start to gather details like how many hours of service they are providing, when they will set-up/break-down and any needs they have from us.  From a wedding planner standpoint, I like to start with the photographer's timeline first based on the hours of coverage and where the bride will be getting ready.  Then if the photographer's assistant or (second shooter) is able to capture the groom and groomsmen portraits we build that in as well.  Once we have designated the coverage and ensured that you will get everything that you need covered such as getting ready shots, first look photos, all the way through bouquet & garter if you are opting for those.

For the most part we very rarely have major changes to make on the timeline, but once the timeline has been reviewed by the couple, photo & video team, hair and make-up, caterer and florist we can pass it along to the remaining vendors.  Now, if couples are using a family member or friend I will also call them and go over the timeline to ensure they understand the expectations.  By not voicing your specific needs to your friend or family member even if they are gifting their services, it can easily lead to miscommunication or disappointment if outcome wasn't what you expected.  

Every couple's priorities are different as far as where they want to allocate their budget. For example, If creating an incredible dining experience for your guests is the top of your list you should start with a full service catering who can staff and execute the event to your standard and discuss venue options that are suitable for this experience.  

Make sure to download our free vendor and venue selection guide, this handy PDF is a great starting point. 

~ Happy Planning~

Northern California Wedding Planner | 4 Reasons WHY you should focus more on your wedding music

Music is everywhere. In malls, in restaurants, and even in hair salons! Have you ever wondered why? Music sets the tone or attitude of your experience.  Have you ever been in the movie theatre and the music starts during the opening scene, you just know it is going to be good.  From the prelude music that guests hear when they arrive, to the very last song think of your music playlist as the soundtrack to your wedding day. 

At a wedding, it's crucial to not only have a solid playlist selected for your entire ceremony & reception, but it is also important to choose the right DJ. This could make or break your special day, but don't you worry, we've got you covered!

These folks held the dance floor down and danced the night away, you can tell from this group shot by  Bill Payne Photography  that  The Chico Wedding DJ  rocked the house and everyone had a great time! 

These folks held the dance floor down and danced the night away, you can tell from this group shot by Bill Payne Photography that The Chico Wedding DJ rocked the house and everyone had a great time! 

Here are the top 4 reasons WHY it's so important to put great care into your music playlist:

1. Technical Difficulties are Awkward. 

Although the attention is obviously on the bride and groom, the music leading up to this special moment is crucial. A well rehearsed ceremony is only as good as the music that plays as the wedding processional makes their way down the aisle. Awkward silence or other technical difficulties like the music cutting out when 100 or more of your friends and family are all in one spot in the weltering heat... See what I mean? Make sure to have your processional music ready, and of course your recessional playlist ready as well, to make sure uncle Tom doesn't get too uncomfortable.

2. Hire a Professional

You have prepared vows from the heart, and your maid of honor is planning to rap her own rendition of baby got back during her toast.  You need a sound system and a well timed playlist that corresponds with your the order of events.  Your wedding planner and DJ along with your vendor team work together to ensure that everything flows smoothly.  Your guests look to your DJ for communication of what is happening next. We also love a DJ who can read the crowd and play songs that get everyone out of their seats! Many DJ's have additional services like dance floors, uplighting, monogram/"Gobos" and more.

3. Lasting Vibes

After the wedding for years to come, your friends and family will remember certain aspects like great food and closing out the dance floor because the DJ was killing it, or, one of the least memorable because there wasn't a good selection. Even though it's YOUR big day, entertaining your guests is important too. Live bands or wedding singers always add a nice touch too!

4. Represent Yourself.

During the ceremony especially, the music that is being played is the music that means the most to you. This can also be said for the formal dances. Be sure to think about what songs mean the most to you, and use them to capture memorable moments on your special day.

Guests that have fun on the dance floor will talk about your wedding until... well, forever! Make these moments great for not only yourself, but the ones that showed up on this special day.

We are happy to help you find the professional vendor team for your wedding to make sure you rock the house and have an amazing time.  Hop over to our services page to learn more!

Happy Planning!