Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When Tragedy Strikes on Your Wedding Day

Not long ago I had a prospective bride contact me for Day-of Coordination Services. She decided to hire me as her Day-of Coordinator, so I sent her my contract to sign. After not hearing back from her for several days I emailed to follow up. Sadly, I learned that, her fiancé’s mother had passed away. And with the wedding just a few weeks out, now they weren't even sure if there would be a wedding at all. Gasp! My heart went out to her and her family during that difficult time.

Now I know what you’re thinking, this is not a topic anybody likes to discuss. But folks, these things can happen to the best of us. And it’s for this very reason that I decided to write this post about wedding insurance.
Wedding Cancellation Insurance

What is it? Do I need it? Well, the short answer is yes and no. Nobody could have predicted what happened in my bride’s case. This was obviously an unexpected tragedy. But the end result could very well end up being a cancelled wedding with lots of money thrown down the drain.

What Does it Cover?

Wedding cancellation insurance provides coverage for non-refundable expenses when the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding or private event, reception or honeymoon, must be cancelled or postponed for certain reasons beyond your control.

Each policy is different so it’s important that you are very clear on what is and what is not covered in your policy. But a standard policy should cover the following:

  • Non-refundable venue deposits, wedding photographs, attire, gifts and jewelry and damage to rented property.
  • Serious disasters that may delay a wedding (i.e. the death or illness of a family member or member of the bridal party or a commercial transportation shutdown that prevents the honorees, parents, grandparents or children of the honorees from getting to the event).
  • All types of natural disasters. Note: most plans will make a distinction between a rainy day and truly severe or catastrophic weather, such as a hurricane. Coverage will likely only apply if catastrophic weather causes you to postpone the wedding.
  • Circumstances beyond your control such as an unforeseen military deployment or withdrawal of leave.
  • No-show or bankrupt vendors, damage to wedding attire, damaged gifts and much more.
  • Non-recoverable travel and accommodations for your honeymoon may also be covered if your wedding is canceled due to a covered reason under the policy.

Wedding Cancellation Insurance Does Not Cover "Cold Feet"

That is to say, wedding insurance policies do not provide coverage in the event that either the bride or groom changes their mind and does not want to proceed with the wedding.

What does it Cost?

I know, I know. You’re thinking jeez one more unexpected expense! But in reality, a standard policy should cost less than $200. In my opinion this is well worth the investment if say for example: you have a terminally ill relative, your spouse is active duty military, you’re planning a destination wedding, or if you’re dropping a load of cash on your wedding in general!

Do Not Confuse Wedding Cancellation with Wedding Liability Insurance

Huh? There’s more? Yes, wedding liability insurance is a specialty insurance policy designed to indemnify the named insured (typically the Bride and Groom) from certain types of claims arising from accidents taking place during the wedding, reception, and rehearsal. Such claims can range from damage to the facility caused by a guest or vendor, bodily injury to guests, and alcohol-related accidents they are found liable for.

Wedding Liability insurance can be purchased in addition to Wedding Cancellation insurance or separately. Some venues actually require that the couple purchase liability insurance and that they be listed as an additional insured party.

I hope my Wedding Insurance 101 hasn’t put you to sleep, or worse scared the pants off you! I’m not going to tell you that wedding insurance is right for everyone, because it’s not. Ultimately, you will need to decide whether it’s worth it for you. Hopefully the information provided will help you make that decision. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable wedding planner can also be a great resource. Questions? Comments? Let me know below.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Unique Alternatives To The Basic Wedding Tent

It's always best to include a tent at any outdoor wedding or event. Tents provide shelter from the elements and can do a lot in setting the tone for your wedding. But selecting the right tent for your type of event is essential. Luckily, today tents come in many innovative and unique styles and options. Gone are the days of the old hum-drum frame and pole tents. Check out some of these snazzy tent options:

This Moroccan-theme tent includes arches and silk string drops on all openings and themed lighting.

Modular tents can be stretched around trees, structures, and rocks and has expandable tent poles that adjust to uneven surfaces.

Safari-style Tipi Marquee tents are canvas and wood structures that can accommodate a central open fire and can be joined into custom configurations to seat 500 or hold 800 for receptions. 

This pole tent in a unique starburst shape is highly translucent and built with a curve-accented perimeter.

A wooden-framed tent with cloth canopies radiates the feel of a tropical oasis. The windows, above an adjacent roof, allow sunlight in during the day and indoor lighting to project out at night. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

5 Must Haves for Your Country Rustic Wedding

Country-Rustic Weddings have been steadily gaining popularity over the past several years. If you're planning on using a Country or Rustic theme for your wedding, here are some must-have decor items that will bring your theme to life:

Mason Jars


Wooden Crates and Signs

Natural Elements (grapevine, curly willow, branches, moss, hay etc..)


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Love and Cherry Blossoms are in Full Bloom in Washington, DC

Spring is an excellent season for a wedding in my hometown; the nation's capital. With all the pink cotton candy-like cherry blossom trees blowing in the wind, love is literally the air! Washington's Tidal Basin may be the most famous site for the cherry blossom spectacle, but in reality trees in bloom can be found all over the Washington, DC metro area. Check out this one in my back yard.

Here is more DC Springtime Wedding Inspiration

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 of The Most Commonly Overlooked Wedding Planning Mistakes

For most people, getting married only happens once in their lives. And with all of the excitement about the wedding plans, couples often overlook these subtle details which they soon come to regret. Here, I offer insights into some commonly overlooked areas of wedding planning:

1. The Wrong Music

The right music can make a wedding day that much more meaningful, while the wrong music can make the big event memorable for all the wrong reasons. Music selection might seem like one of the easier decisions to make. But couples often forget to think beyond the reception when setting the musical tone for their wedding. When choosing music for the ceremony, couples should first consider the venue where they are tying the knot. In general, you don’t want to choose any music that’s too loud or over-the-top for the ceremony. Keep in mind that the music played during the ceremony can set the mood for the rest of the day. 

Weddings generally have a complete cross section of ages. At the reception, a general selection of popular music will ensure everyone dances and has a good time! Couples should ALWAYS make a list of do-not-play songs or artists are included in their contracts.

Another common mistake couples make with regards to wedding music is the volume. A DJ playing music that’s too loud or that has the microphone turned up too loud can kill a party. If guests can’t hear, talk or even think, those that want to have a conversation will leave the room. If you want the music up really loud, wait until the last hour to turn it up full blast; by that time nobody cares. 
The same applies if the volume is too low and guests in the back of the room can’t hear people giving toasts, speeches etc… 

The best way to avoid this is by hiring a professional DJ with a wide range of experience in doing weddings. A professional wedding DJ will know what kind of sound system and the number of speakers he/she needs based on the size of the room. They should also know to show up early enough for proper setup and sound check before the wedding.

2. Spending Too Much on Wedding Attire

Another commonly overlooked wedding planning mistake I see brides making is spending too much money on their outfit(s). As a rule of thumb, your wedding attire should not be more than 10% of your total wedding budget. This figure includes not just the dress, but also accessories (shoes, jewelry, veil, purse, lingerie, etc..) and the groom’s clothing as well! All of these little things add up, and before you know it you’ve blown ½ of your wedding budget on clothes alone! 

Think about it, if your entire wedding budget is $10,000 then you should not be spending more than $1,000 on attire. Doing this will only force you to have to make drastic cuts to other parts of your wedding that in the end will be more important to the overall success of your wedding day. 

Budget brides especially, need to explore their other options when it comes to wedding attire including discount shopping, trunk sales, or renting their dresses and luxury accessories.

3. Forgoing the Rehearsal

I am sometimes shocked by the number of couples that don’t think they need to do a run-through of their wedding. It may sound trite, but people really DON’T know what to do when they are asked to take part in a wedding. Or worse yet, they may all have different opinions of what is right and wrong. 

Are you going to have your bridesmaids walk down the aisle with the groomsmen? Are the groomsmen going to walk out with the groom and the Officiant? What about the kids? Where will each person stand? Where do they look? How do they exit? 

You spend thousands of dollars preparing for your wedding and you only get one chance to get everything right. If there are going to be any issues, you want to know BEFORE the wedding … not during.

Rehearsals often take longer than necessary because all of the wedding party doesn't show up on time. Anyone that is going to have any part in the ceremony needs to be present and on-time to the rehearsal. As the bride and groom you need to convey the importance of this to your wedding party. If they agreed to play this special role in your wedding day, then this is one of the responsibilities that come with that role. After all, this is YOUR wedding and YOUR money; and there are no do-overs!

4. The Great Outdoors

Who wouldn’t love a beautiful sunset wedding with an amazing backdrop of trees, mountains, gardens, or the ocean? But there is a price to pay for all of that beauty. Outdoor weddings do not come without their own set of logistical complications. Not only must you have a backup plan for inclement weather, but even if there is not a cloud in the sky guests hate itching, sweating, and freezing. 

Because Mother Nature can be unpredictable, keeping your guests comfortable can become a challenge. Think about the location, time of day and the season, and try to anticipate what it might feel like to sit outside for 2-4 hours. Then, provide an arsenal of commodities such as fans, parasols, sun screen, bug spray, mosquito traps, flip flops, pashmina scarves, heaters and refreshments to keep your guests comfortable.

5. Open Bar Rip-Offs

Most weddings include an open bar. Mainly because conventional wedding etiquette says that it is customary, and because couples want their guests to have a good time without worrying about having to reach into their pockets. I am personally neither for nor against open bars at weddings. But what I do caution against are certain tricky money pitfalls with the way you serve alcohol to your guests.

If you’ve selected an open bar package by the hour, then the billing is pretty straight forward and you will pay for the number of total guests x the number of hours the bar will be "open". This option is usually the most costly, but also the most straight forward and easy to calculate.

If however, you've decided to bring your own alcohol (and your caterer/venue allows it), you will need to be conscious of corking fees. A corking fee is a fee you are charged every time a bottle is opened and can run anywhere between $5-$20/bottle or more! These corking fees can easily be a big money pitfall because you pay for any open bottle, even if only one drink was poured! 

Liquor is by far the biggest money maker for caterers, hotels and banquet halls. The solution to this can be very simple - just tell the caterer that you will authorize x number of bottles to be opened. After that, you've got to OK each one. 

To avoid scams that are sometimes pulled with both open bars and BYOL bars, make sure you have someone in charge of counting the quantity of alcohol that was brought in, and then how much is leftover at the end of the night. This should later be compared to the final bill to uncover any discrepancies.

If you decided to go with a Consumption Bar option (where you will be billed for exactly what your guests drink), drinks will be tallied up by the bartenders and you will be billed after the reception. With a consumption bar, you can avoid breaking the bank by agreeing to a maximum dollar limit, at which time the bar turns to a cash bar.

As with all other components of your wedding, but especially this component, be sure to get everything in writing as to how liquor will be handled at your reception.