Northern California Wedding Planner | Backyard Durham California Wedding - Alie & Brian

A beautiful Durham, California wedding wouldn't be complete without an incredible couple who worked their booties off getting this property ready to go for their special day! 1 Year ago in April, we had the opportunity to take a look at the property that they wanted to re-vamp into a wedding venue for their big day a year later. They were concerned that we wouldn't have seen their vision; but automatically, we did. 

We saw their wedding come to life on April 28th. With hard work and perseverance and of course love, they made it happen! From knee high grass and houses planted on the property, to a beautiful open space with designated areas for specific moments, it was magical!

Alie and her ladies were pampered and were getting ready to go for the wedding at the one and only Hotel Diamond, in downtown Chico. We're always so giddy when we get to drop off flowers to our couples there! 

Tyler and Mayela with Ranalla Photo and Films captured their love so beautifully in a way that is hard to explain... so here are some highlights that we absolutely love!

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We wish we could put this entire album on this one blog post, but we will leave you with these! Thank you to all of our incredible vendors for making their day absolutely beautiful!

Makeup: The Powder Room // Hair: Julia LynnFox // Photographer: Ranalla Photo & Films // Venue: Durham Backyard // Coordination: The 530 Bride // Getting Ready Location: Hotel Diamond // Wedding gown: Always Elegant // Rentals: Chico Party Rentals // DJ: The Wedding DJ // Catering: Truckaroni

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Northern California Wedding Planner | Real Talk ~ Budget Breakdown

With the recent news of Style Me Pretty closing it had us thinking a lot about where couples find inspiration for planning their wedding.  If you are engaged and starting to dive into the rentals, decor and design aspects of your wedding you might feel unsure of pricing or how to even go about putting together the overall look.  We're going to break down the budget of a wedding reception and talk real numbers!

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Let's take two side by side wedding tables for example and see if anything jumps out.  At first glance, they are both round guest tables with white linens.  But the full drop linen on the left is double the price of the linen on the right.  

Will your reception chairs be pre-set at the tables or are you using the same set of chairs for ceremony and moving them to reception?  Consider the cost of doubling the set of chairs vs upgrading to full drop linens and see which is a priority to you.  In some cases couples choose to use standard linens on the tables and only have one set of chairs so just make sure you have a plan for getting chairs moved over. 

Now, let's move on to your place settings and visualize what you would like to have on your tables.  The first question we would have is if your caterer will be providing china and flatware or if they use heavy chinette disposables.  If the caterer gives you the option or you are considering renting dishes just make sure to work out the numbers for rentals, and labor for bussing the dishes.

Image: Matthew Lim Photography 

Image: Matthew Lim Photography 

So let's ball park the numbers for a wedding reception of 150 guests assuming we are using round guest tables that seat 8 guests and basic polyester linens. *Keep in mind the pricing is based on average rental pricing in Northern California and it can vary quite a bit depending on the company* 

148 guests + the couple

1 48 inch round wood table (sweetheart table) 8.00 ea
1  108 inch round full drop polyester linen (sweetheart table) 10.95 ea
19 60 inch round wood tables  8.95 ea
19 120 inch full drop polyester linen 12.95 ea
150 White resin padded folding chairs 2.50 ea
150 China package (dinner plate, flatware, water goblet, wine glass and champagne glass) 2.60 ea

This would bring us to $27 per person and a subtotal of $3,996 for the guest tables and then $4,014.25 including the sweetheart table + linen before tax, delivery and maintenance/wear & tear fees (typically 10%) We would also want to add a welcome table, buffet tables, bar tables, dessert tables etc along with linens for all of your service tables. 

Depending on if you are renting through a full service rental company or your caterer, you will also want to factor in set-up and breakdown fees for ceremony and reception items.    
 

Image: Bloom Portraiture 

Image: Bloom Portraiture 

Choosing a caterer is a big decision not only because it is such a large portion of your wedding budget but because choosing the package can determine the service level for the event.  If you envision passed appetizers, staff going around to keep the beverage glasses full, having champagne poured at the tables and staff to handle cake cutting then you will want to look into a full service caterer.  {For more tips on choosing a caterer check out our recent blog post.}

If you are choosing a buffet and would like to keep costs down, consider using heavy chinette disposables to reduce the rental costs and labor for bussing tables.   You can also have stationary appetizers instead of passed as it will be less labor intensive. 

Hopefully this was helpful to see some line items but if you need some assistance with getting your overall budget together, feel free to reach out and we would be happy to chat!

~ Happy Planning ~ 



 

Northern California Wedding Planner | How To Organize Your Wedding Details in Under 30 Days

Forget the countdown to Christmas, you're counting down to your wedding day and it is coming up fast.  Aside from watching the forecast you aren't quite sure what else you can do to prepare.  Often we come into the picture when a couple or their family decides that an extra set of hands and some organization would really help ensure that everyone can just enjoy the day without worrying.

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Timeline - We love pretty things we do, and organizing the decor details will come but first it is so important to see all of the variables together on one timeline.  We take a few things into consideration: 

  • Getting Ready - Where do you plan on getting ready before the ceremony? Will you put your dress on there or at your ceremony venue?
  • Transportation - Are you taking transportation to the venue, if not how and when will you arrive to the venue.
  • Photography Coverage - If you would like photos of your gown, shoes, accessories and invitations, this will need to happen prior to getting dressed.  So we look at how many hours of coverage you have and prioritize what they will cover if we are limited.  If you have a huge family - make sure to have a clear shots list with your photographer and account for that on your timeline.
  • Access to Venue - We'll look at decor load in times and if any set-up can be done at the time of rehearsal, if not then we put together an outline of what items are arriving and where everything will be set-up.  This also includes what time everything needs to be cleaned up at the end of the night, so thorough communication with all event partners is key.
  • Food & Beverage for Guests - Everything from what time ice needs to arrive for the kegs/bar items and water, to what appetizers are being served if any and if any additional items need to be brought in by the couple (example: ziplock bags or to-go containers for leftovers, disposable plates and forks for cake if caterer is not providing) 

Ceremony - This often comes together in the last few weeks so don't feel like you are too behind.  Now is the time to start deciding on the processional order of how your wedding party and any escorted guests will come down the aisle, and what music they will be accompanied by. 

  • Any Special Readings/Traditions 
  • Who will have the rings
  • Who are your witnesses and when would you like them to sign the license
  • Who will mail the license after the ceremony? - Make sure to get this in within 10 days of your ceremony!

Schedule a phone session with your officiant if needed to get an idea of how long the ceremony will be.  You don't want to give yourself 30 minutes on the timeline for the ceremony if its going to be done in 11 minutes flat! There are some great guides to planning your ceremony vows, we've linked to some here if you want to check them out.  (Download Link

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Confirmations  & Final Details - You met with your caterer what 6 months ago? Did you have the correct dinner time listed on the consult sheet? Maybe something has changed, and now is the time for the timeline and confirmation calls with each of the event partners you've hired for your wedding day.  If you don't have a wedding coordinator yet, we strongly urge you to consider one even if only for the prep and hourly for assistance.  Otherwise, appoint a very organized friend who can assist with covering all of the bases.  Final headcount, rental numbers, song selections and announcements to shuttle pick up times and arrival time for hair and make-up - you name it, it needs to be confirmed.

Design - Alright, now to the pretty stuff! We'll sit down with the couple or go over their rental orders of what items they are having brought in and identify if any other items need to be on their packing list such as AA batteries for LED Pillar candles.  We encourage couples to take a mock picture of any tables they would like set-up in a specific way or make notes/instructions on the boxes they pack in.  So if you want 4 votive candles, one frame per table in addition to the centerpiece and table number - write it down.  This also helps for clean-up because the boxes will be labeled and super easy to pack back up.  So make sure you have even a basic sketch/idea of: 

  • Floorplan and or seating chart layout
  • Special items (toasting flutes, cake cutting set, card box, guestbook, memory table items, chair signs for newlyweds, etc) 
  • Signage & Frames - Do you want these in a particular place or can these be styled at the discretion of who is setting up?
  • Florals - What time are your bouquets arriving? Where - to your hotel room or the venue? Are your ceremony florals being used after the ceremony in another spot after the ceremony? If so, where are they moving and who is moving them?

Did you know that The 530 Bride offers a la carte services like set-up and break down for weddings, just to make this process a little easier? If you're 30-45 days away from your wedding date (or less) and could use some help, shoot us a message and we'd be happy to schedule a free consultation/therapy session haha.  In all seriousness, it's going to be fine! 

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Northern California Wedding Planner | Planning Your Wedding Over The Holidays

We can't believe it but time has flown by and the holidays are upon us! We're nearing the end of our 2017 wedding season, with one more sweet wedding day to celebrate next month.  With all of the holiday ads and countdowns we know it can be a stressful time for couples.  You might feel extra pressure to start nailing down the wedding details and wondering how to keep your planning on track during this busy time of year.  Here's a handy infographic with our top tips: 

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We hope that all of the future couples can take a breath and realize that it's not worth it to be stressed over your wedding day! It really is supposed to be fun, so if you feel like you are carrying the load all by yourself please consider reaching out even if you just need to ask for advice.  We've got your back!
~ Happy Planning!~

Northern California Wedding Planner | Keeping Your Wedding Budget in Check

Our tips for keeping your wedding budget in check

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If we had to name one thing that can really cause stress it wouldn't be hard to guess that the Budget topic is first on the list.  Why? Because it is often skipped over in the excitement of being engaged and the couple or the families of the couple choose a wedding venue off the bat without realizing how that impacts the rest of the budget moving forward.  

Looking at sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire, you will see an estimation of 50% of your total budget going towards the cost of the venue.  What varies greatly is what the venue actually provides.  If your venue doubles as your ceremony and reception venue and includes amenities like tables and chairs, you probably in good shape.  

Our advice is to A) Discuss the budget and be realistic on how much you are comfortable putting away or who will be contributing.  B) Meet with a wedding planner who can put these numbers into perspective for you based on the area C) Create two spreadsheets based on your top two venues and break down how the budget would be allocated in both scenarios.  

Wedding planning is fun we promise, but it does come with some reality checks and for good reason.  We strongly believe in planning for the experience and not for the "stuff" or you will definitely go over budget and feel like you are being over taken by the whole process.  

We use a planning dashboard to help our couples through their planning and budgeting so that we can track costs and keep all of those items in check.  By tracking deposits, payments and final balance it keeps the financial aspect much more transparent.  

What has been the most stressful aspect of planning for you? Just getting started? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation for wedding planning and how we can best help you. 

Northern California Wedding Planner | Life Happens

From venues closing, job changes, military orders, surprise babies, storms, illnesses and everything in between, Life Happens! When you are focused on planning your wedding, even the smallest speed bumps seem monumental.  For many couples who have been far into their planning and received news of a lay-off, or a family member who is not going to be well enough to travel to the wedding it can mean either moving the date or changing the plan all together.  

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Once invitations go out, it may seem impossible to move the location or change the date but you have to be able to adapt to what works for the situation in order to still have the wedding experience that you can.  Just remember to breathe!

The internet is full of crazy stories of real life date changes:  Last Minute Venue Change  - This couple experienced a venue closing and a major flood and still tied the knot! (http://www.silive.com/relationships/index.ssf/2013/02/last-minute_venue_change_dont_panic.html)

Having a wedding planner that is able to take these changes head on and communicate to your vendors, negotiate the date change or discuss potential contract changes etc can take some of the stress away.  We aim to serve our clients by being their advocate in this process.  

Consider having to explain the situation to 10-20+ vendors when you are already stressed out.  Though everyone will want to help you, simply passing this off to a family member or wedding party member can lead to miscommunication or further delays.

Tips:

  •  Check with your local wedding planner who will have a good handle on the venues and likely options that would be available on short notice.  
  • Appoint one person as the contact for all communication
  • Review all of your current contracts and provide copies to your appointed contact person or wedding planner to aide them in any discussions of date changes, cancellations, and any monies owed.  
  • Be prepared to forfeit deposits/retainers for vendors that are not able to transfer the date or who do not offer any refunds in the event of a cancellation.  Keep in mind that while your wedding vendors will be sympathetic to your situation, they have likely turned down other couples interested in your date so returning a paid deposit wouldn't be feasible unless they are confident they can re-book.  
  • Take it slow - Do not jump into another date or locking in any new contracts until you have not only confirmed that any new vendors or venue is open, but also the less back and forth there is with date or location changes the better.  

Just remember that while it may seem like the worst news ever, no matter what if you and your fiance are going to say your I Do's it is still a win-win, and there can always be a plan B.  

~ Happy Planning ~

Northern California Wedding Planners | Feeling the Love

If you loved your wedding cake, or rocked the dance floor thanks to your awesome DJ then scream from the rooftops about how amazing it was. There are lots of tipping guides out there, but online reviews are the REAL gold for your wedding vendors!

Image via  WeddingWire, Inc .

Image via WeddingWire, Inc.

Working in the service industry of creating events, we are excited each time we meet with a new couple who are ready to start planning their wedding.  Each time we sit down for a consult, we know that before the couple ever walked in the door they had a lot of options when it comes to choosing their wedding coordinator.  From seeing ads online, to the bridal shows and countless directories it can be overwhelming.  

We are blessed to have established great working relationships with vendors who refer couples to us for planning services because they know from experience that we work hard to make sure that each detail comes together just as the couple envisioned.  These word of mouth referrals as well as online reviews from our couples gives us the warm & fuzzies because it is truly amazing to know that we helped these couples get to experience their wedding day without the stress of doing it all themselves.

Choosing your wedding vendors is a very personal experience and you should make sure that you connect with them or get good vibes.  Price is important obviously, but at the end of the day the value is in your experience not how much you paid for these services.  Reading from other couples on what they loved about working with a vendor will help prospective couples get a glimpse on what to expect or what they could gain by hiring this vendor/service.  

We refer couples to vendors based on the experience that we have had with them, and also if their services and price point are in line with what the client is looking for.  We never take any type of fee or kickback for referring vendors, and if there are discounts for preferred vendors we pass them right on to our clients.  

So if you are reading this and are about to say I do, make sure you write yourself a reminder to share some notes on your favorite review sites like Yelp, Google Places, Wedding Wire, The Knot or even Facebook.  It will mean so much to your vendors and future couples will be thankful that you took the time as well!

~ Happy Planning~

Northern California Wedding Planner | How to Plan Your Bar Menu

We have all been a wedding guest at some point or another right? In between snacking during cocktail hour and grabbing a slice of cake most guests wouldn't think about the logistics that went into ordering wine and beer for the open bar they are enjoying.  That's the art behind a well planned event, you aren't running out of ice or cups and you certainly aren't out of the white zin that everyone is loving! 

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Planning your bar menu is more than just what you will serve, but also about the quantities of each that you will order.  How do you figure out how much red, how much white or how many kegs? Here are the tips we share with our clients and hope you find helpful:

1.  Consider the setting
Many venues have specific rules about hard alcohol or prohibit serving hard alcohol all together, double check your contract before stocking the bar of course! For a summer outdoor wedding you may want to pair more of the chilled and sparkling wines, or plan a few refreshing signature drinks in lieu of a full wine or cocktail menu.  Not only will it keep your guests cooler but it will also keep your bar costs down because you are only buying mixers/ingredients for two signature drinks for example vs a full bar or extensive wine list.  Make sure to plan on getting plenty of ice to keep the kegs and drinks nice and cold! Non-alcoholic beverage station with water, iced teas, lemonade etc will also give your guests more options and keep them hydrated.

2. You know your guests
While your caterer or bar service provider may know a lot about hosting events, you know your group better than anyone.  If these folks are beer drinkers you have to take that into consideration when deciding on how many kegs or cases of beer you will need and how many bottles of wine you will need.  

3. Size Matters
If you are trying to get an accurate estimate on how many servings are in a keg or wine bottle etc you should make sure that you know what cups you will be using to serve the guests.  For example, if you bought personalized 16oz cups off of Etsy, you are using a cup that is considered oversized. 

http://www.dummies.com/food-drink/drinks/beer/buying-beer-in-kegs/

http://www.dummies.com/food-drink/drinks/beer/buying-beer-in-kegs/

4.  Budget
Hosting a wedding or any large event is expensive, plan smart and focus on the essentials.  Here are a few helpful calculators to ensure that you don't overshoot and purchase more alcohol than you need.  If your venue or caterer is providing the alcohol, you will need to set a budget with them to determine the amount that you will be comfortable with hosting.  For example if the country club has a $1200 bar minimum you would have a hosted bar up until that dollar amount, after that it would be become a "no-host bar" and guests would pay for their drinks.  Many couples opt for no-host cocktails which means that your guests can get beer and wine but would pay for their own cocktails.  Make sure to ask about corkage fees as well, these add up!

If you are providing your own alcohol, you can look for deals from Bevmo or World Market for deals or even your local grocery store may offer specials.  Costco often has great pricing for large magnum bottles as well.   How much alcohol do you need? Here is a handy (free) calculator:

http://www.thealcoholcalculator.com/

http://www.thealcoholcalculator.com/

We strongly advise asking for help from your vendor team so that you aren't stressing over how many bottles and servings you need the week of your wedding! Have questions? We are happy to help just shoot us a message on our contact page. 
 

 ~ 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!

Timeline Tips | Part Two: Photography Coverage

Organizing your timeline to have a stress-free day and make the most of your wedding photography coverage.

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This post is to answer some of the most common questions that come up when choosing photography packages and also when organizing a wedding day timeline.  

How many hours of coverage do we really need? What time should the photographer arrive?

In part one we talked about the importance of your contract terms and knowing the hours included with your venue rental.  If you missed Part One of our series on Timeline Tips you can catch it here.  We pair the venue and the photographer contract and coverage terms together to see what the best ceremony time and send off would be based on your packages.

As a planner we always start with the photographer, to make sure that we are on the same page about how much time should be allotted for each portion of the order of events (formal portraits, detail shots, family photos, etc.)

If you have not booked a photographer yet, but are trying to decide on how much coverage you need, you should go through some of these questions: 

  • Where do you plan to get ready (Hair and Make-up?)
    •  Would you like photos or mock photos while you get ready or just as you are ready to step into your gown?
  • Where will you put your dress on?
    • If it is not at the same location where you are getting hair and make-up, consider having photography start where your dress is and coverage begin with detail shots of your gown, veil, shoes, accessories and your invitation.
    • If it isn't at the same location where you will get married, what is the distance or travel time as this typically counts towards your photography coverage.
  • Where will the groom and groomsmen get ready? 
    • Would you like photos or mock photos while they get ready? It's great if there is a second shooter to start with the groom and groomsmen's formal portraits.  
  • How large is your wedding party, can you reasonably have hair and make-up done and have time for formal portraits prior to the ceremony?
  • Will you see each other before the ceremony (first look session)? 
  • Do you plan to have sunset photos? If so look at the estimated sunset time for your wedding date and be sure include that in your timeline.  
  • Do you plan to do a formal cake cutting, bouquet & garter toss? 

Consider this sample time below, this is almost a 15 hour day from start to finish so look at each item and prioritize what you would like coverage on.  We have highlighted a sample 8 hour block of coverage in bold for example.

Sample Timeline 1: Based on 4 pm ceremony and 10pm reception end.  

  • 8:00am—Hair and Makeup/Getting ready
  • 11:45am - Hair and Makeup Complete/Mock getting ready
    • 12:15pm - Photography Coverage Begins
      ride gets dressed, bride and bridesmaid formal portraits
  • 1:00pm-First look photos
  • 2:00pm—Wedding party and family photos start
  • 3:30pm—Doors open/Guests begin to arrive/Pre-ceremony music starts
  • 4:00pm—Invite time
  • 4:15pm—Ceremony starts
  • 4:35pm—Ceremony ends
  • 4:40pm—Cocktail hour starts
  • 5:45pm—Move guests into dinner
  • 6:00pm—Buffet opens/Dinner served
  • 6:20pm—All guests have food
  • 6:30pm—Toasts
  • 7:30pm—Cake Cutting, First dance
  • 7:45pm—General dancing music starts
    • 8:00pm - Bride & Groom sunset portraits
  • 8:15pm— Coverage Ends
  • 8:30pm—Open Dancing 
  • 9:45pm—Last call
  • 9:55pm—Music off
  • 10:00pm—Guests depart
  • 11:00pm—Breakdown done, all staff departs

If you have booked a 6 hour package, consider having photos start at the ceremony and then all formal portraits and family photos would follow the ceremony.  This typically would mean a slightly longer cocktail hour but if there are appetizers and activities it usually doesn't impact guests too much.  We do want you to be able to partake and mingle with your guests though!

Work with your photographer and your wedding planner to determine a timeline that flows smoothly and makes the most of your wedding day, it goes by so fast and we want to ensure you truly get to enjoy it! 

~ Happy Planning!~