Stop stressing on your wedding day

People ask me all the time what I tell my friends getting married. How do I help them? The best advice I can give to anyone getting married is to hire a wedding planner, trust your vendors, and STOP STRESSING AND LET IT GO. 

YES, I think wedding planners are THE best resource when it comes to allowing a bride or mother of the bride or even the in-laws to let go and truly enjoy the day. I may be a little biased since I am a coordinator, but I was also a bride once and I have several years of experience to back that up. Not everyone hires a coordinator though, or when they have one, they don't always trust them (not sure why you'd hire any vendor if you didn't trust them, just saying). With or without a coordinator, you have to trust your vendors and you have to let go so you can enjoy your day! So if you're not going to hire a planner or you're not going to trust them or other vendors, I've got some tips to help get through your wedding day. 

1.  key elements to preventing stress on your wedding day:
Review & Understand Contracts, Clearly define the Logistics, & Communicate with Vendors

You have to communicate with your vendors.You need to define logistics for vendors - from the time you wake up to the time you and your fiance are back in the hotel room and even after. And you have to review your contracts diligently. 

Oh, and if you have a coordinator, it is imperative that you give him/her copies - how else will they do their job? 

What if your contract is for chairs to be "delivered", but not set up? How is a bride, let alone one from out of town, supposed to know what "drop" versus "deliver" or "setup" even meant? Who is going to set them up? 

For one wedding we did it. We set up over 200 chairs in prep for the ceremony. It had to get done, but we also had to invoice the client for manual labor that wasn't included in the original contract. Without us, our client would have had family setting everything up. Do you really want them sweating on your wedding day? 

How do you know you are telling your vendors what you really want? Do you know what "dropping" means? How about the difference between a cabaret table and a highboy? Or how do you know you're getting what you wanted on your wedding day? How do you know if you missed something or a vendor missed something? 

Hiring vendors you trust with great reputations 
is a HUGE step to preventing stress on your wedding day. 
You know they will make it happen no matter what.

But you still have to review and have on-hand your contracts. 

I love flowers. Just love them, but when you have a contract there are a specific number of flowers, and if you're not careful, you can miss something. For example, during one wedding as I was pinning boutonnieres on the groomsmen, I realized two boutonnieres were missing. My client had been really busy and hadn't shared many, if any, contracts with me. I have next to no clue how many boutonnieres you wanted. After calling the florist, I learned they weren't on the contract, I quietly spoke with the groom about the missing items and got approval to request the items. I'd pay the florist and the couple would be invoiced later. Yes, the florist's team was back within the hour with the needed items. 

I've even seen where a band began to wrap up an event at a certain time but they weren't supposed to wrap until an hour later. You can bet having the contract on hand helped, but the damage was already done. It took 15 minutes to discuss the contract. The break interrupted the flow of the reception and guests were already leaving. How are they supposed to know the band wasn't wrapping up at the right time? 

Make sure what you want is in the contract. 
Then confirm several times (especially the month of). 

But having your contracts and reviewing them is not all of it, you have to read in between the lines and you have to think about the logistics behind those contracts. 

Logistically speaking, a blank canvas is not always an easy wedding. I love a blank canvas as much as the next planner, but do you know what it takes to fill in the canvas? A great example of a blank canvas several years back was the New Orleans Opera Guild (it's now managed by Pigeon and they'll handle a lot of these logistics). 

It is truly a gorgeous setting and exemplifies the traditional New Orleans uptown historical home! Inside provides all the charm needed for a cocktail hour or dessert break while the outside yard provides the perfect backdrop for your ceremony and reception. But it is a home. And there are a lot of logistics that go into having a wedding at the Opera Guild. Logistics require coordination. What if it rains? Where does the caterer cook? Where will the band go? Are there enough plugs? What about dancing? Where do people park? What is allowed where when decorating? It can be a lot! So you plan....a lot!

For a wedding that will take place in any outdoor setting, I would always plan for rain.


Just do it. Put the tent on hold the minute you book it. 

It's so important to review your contracts and match up what you have or want with what is actually on the contract. If you are not going to review them or you're not able to communicate as much as you'd like with your coordinator, you should definitely expect the unexpected. Not that a missing boutonniere was going to ruin your day, but the escort or father or reader without it may feel a little slighted. We don't want that do we? Do you really want to pull out contracts on your wedding day? Or have your parents do that? You're supposed to be enjoying this day, so hire a planner and make sure he/she has all of your contracts and you've reviewed them multiple times. 

You know that saying, what you don't know can't hurt you? 
Well what you don't know can hurt...and it can cost money.

2. You have to be detailed....very detailed, &
You have to Communicate....a lot 

If you have a vision, you should definitely go for it! If it's an elegant garden wedding with a sit down dinner, cocktail hour and then reception with dancing under the stars, I'm all about making that happen. It's just a matter of pulling it together and making sure everyone else knows what you want. 

Assigning seats? Yes, it is going to take time and being very detailed. This means your guests will need to first tell you if they're coming, and second, what they want to eat. You need to have every person accounted for in your guest list. You have to match every person with a meal and a seat. You need a well-developed floor-plan. Every table will need a number and you need a method to share with your guests where they are sitting - place cards. And then you need to share this information with your caterer.  

How is the caterer going to know where to drop food if all of these details are not worked out? 

Sharing contracts or going through all the checklists or even making checklists, 
won't make a difference if you can't accept that you cannot control everything.  

The most important thing to preventing stress 
(with or without a wedding planner) : 

3. Stuff happens and either you're going to let it ruin your day or you are going to let it go happens. Reiterating what I said before, if your day has any portion happening outdoors, place a hold on a tent immediately. Seriously. Then as you approach the wedding day it's time to consider the weather more and more. And even if the rain comes and goes during the week or weekend or even day of, there could still remnants left over. 

Unless your dance floor is under a tent, it will get wet if it rains. Is it going to stop you from having your first dance? 

Or maybe you're getting married in a courtyard and you really want the ceremony outside and it's not raining 20 minutes before the ceremony? Been there. Yes, it does rain in courtyards too. This is south Louisiana which means it will be be HUMID after the rain. Sometimes you can even see the steam rise from the ground. Don't be afraid to use your plan B. Head to the ballroom where there are decorations and dry chairs and air conditioning. It will be beautiful and all that matters is you marry the love of your life.  

Okay, so it's not raining on the day of the wedding, but it rained during the week? You've planned out your first look perfectly. It's going to be at this gorgeous plantation with lush grounds and beautiful flowers, what if it rains? Do you really want to walk on the grounds because your heels will sink and your dress could get really dirty. Best to use plan B. 

I understand. You planned this day and have thought about it for a year or more. You picked your venue for a reason. You really want to see the green of the golf course & have the open breeze & dance under the stars. It's gorgeous! But if your decorator & your coordinator are both shivering under the exposed tent, then you may want to start thinking about a way to keep guests warm.  

If you consider several factors, plan B is sometimes best: 
hair & makeup, wedding party, guests & vendors

Buy some Heaters and put the walls on the tent. 

I could go on and on, but I won't bore you or anyone else with that many stories. I'm sure you get the point. 

4. You can let it go - trust me

You've hired vendors and you have reviewed and understood your contracts or better still you have a coordinator who has all of that done, it's time to LET GO. 

Do you know what you see in these last few photos? You see happy couples. You see couples who planned and wanted a certain vision and day, but on that day they had to adjust. They let it go. They allowed me and all of their other vendors to do our job, and they were able to just enjoy every minute of their weddings. Things may not have gone as originally planned, but it didn't stop any of them from enjoying every second of their day. 

It is your day. 
Try to let go of the details. 
Try to smile.

Trust your vendors. You have one chance to enjoy it. Don't pass it up because something changed. 

If you're planning your wedding and would like some help, we'd love to be on your team and make your day all that you want it to be! Give us a call or shoot us an email! We cover everything from Baton Rouge to Grand Isle and can start at the beginning or help at the end or even just a consult in between. It's your day! We are there for you!

Business vs Personal

I'm sure most of you have seen The Godfather...and if not that then you've definitely seen You've Got Mail, and heard the characters refer to business as not being "personal." In The Godfather Michael Corleone says, "It's not's strictly business." And in You've Got Mail Tom Hanks' character quotes it: The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? 'Leave the gun, take the cannoli.' What day of the week is it? 'Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday.' And the answer to your question is 'Go to the mattresses.' You're at war. 'It's not personal, it's business. It's not personal it's business.' 

But it is personal. It's personal to me. This is my business and these are my clients. It's Your Time Events is based on me, the owner, and the way I feel and live life and work with others. I've had vendors tell me to learn to focus more on the business, to separate my personal from my business, but I don't know how and I honestly don't know if I want to. 

I never wanted my clients to ever be just a number. I wanted relationships. I wanted to be there for my clients every step of the way. I want to get to know them and their families and those most important to them so the wedding day I can do my job! How am I going to do my job successfully if I don't form that relationship with my clients?  

I recently spent some time doing a lot of introspective analysis. Creme Brands was helping me to get to know myself and my clients better. Who am I and who is my business? Who is my ideal client and how do we work together? Where do I see myself and my business in several years. What do I want? What sets me apart from others in this very populated New Orleans wedding industry? I think I was pretty clear and it only confirmed what I already knew about myself and my business, it is personal. 

And when I try to act like it's not as personal, I may fool those who do not know me or my clients, but I am definitely not fooling myself or my client. We recently coordinated two weddings for one day. It was not originally planned that way, but it happened. And I have to say it was definitely a confirmation of who we are not. We are not a wedding planning company that just wants clients. We are not a company that just sees the numbers. We are not a two and three weddings in one day wedding planning company. We are not big and we are fancy, but we are personal and we are real and we do feel. This blog is a huge apology to some very special deserved more. 

I didn't get to see you walk down the aisle. I didn't get to see you get dressed or even help you get dressed. I didn't get to help bustle you. I didn't get to know your families and friends. And I don't know if you wanted that type of relationship, but it's what I want and it's what my business is based on and I was very disappointed with how I felt after executing both weddings on the same day.  

To the outside, and to many of the vendors, things looked great...I know, because I've gotten many compliments. But on the me, I know they weren't perfect on your day. I know, I did my "job" and it wasn't like things went horribly wrong or things weren't planned out completely or I didn't technically give you the hours you paid for. And I know both venues had absolutely wonderful venue coordinators to help and that Brandi and Rebecca did their jobs and made sure you were taken care of, but it wasn't me. What you didn't get was my undivided attention on your day. What you didn't get was that person you had in your corner every second of the day. What  you didn't get is what I absolutely love about my job, being there for you ever step of the way. 

To all of my clients, and especially to those who feel they didn't get the coordinator they signed up for, I am so incredibly sorry and I hope your days were and are all that you wanted them to be! I hope that whatever hiccups there may have been are dim in comparison to the brightness of the rest of the day. You are truly beautiful people and couples and I love working with each of you! 

I absolutely cannot wait to see what your photographers captured that I may have missed! I cannot wait to see the entire day unfold through those captured memories! Hugs to both of you ladies and to your husbands!

And to Creme Brands, thank you for helping us put into words, what we are truly all about!!

New Orleans Second Line

New Orleans Second Line

History and Tradition - Having a second line during your wedding wasn't always the "traditional" second line. Don't get me wrong, the Second Line is a New Orleans tradition in every way, shape, and form,  but it hasn't always been associated with weddings.

Long before the second line became a New Orleans wedding tradition, it was associated with funerals. It was a celebration of life at the moment of death. The earliest second lines date back to slavery when african americans brought their funeral traditions here to South Louisiana. The "main line" or "first line" is made up of the family and the brass band while guests and others followed in the "second line." Much like this scene from Treme, you'd see the band and a hearse and mourners making their way to the cemetery while the tunes of a dirge play in the background. The music is slow and reflective of the event like "Closer Walk to Thee." Then later, after the deceased is interred, the procession leaves the cemetery to a more lively and celebratory feel (as seen on Treme -  The music will pick up to reflect celebrating the deceased life and the band will play songs like "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Just like the people of New Orleans, the second line mixed and mingled with other cultures and traditions and developed into so much more. Eventually it became noted for the New Orleans' famous Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and Benevolent Societies, which were largely founded as community-based health and funeral insurance co-ops. And then people began to hire second line bands for entertainment as in another scene from Treme. It was so entertaining eventually people wanted it for their weddings, and so became the tradition of the wedding second line.

At a wedding the second line signifies the start of a new beginning of life for the bride and groom. It is truly a celebration! The second line band leads the bridal party and the guests from the church to the reception venue or it may take place at the reception itself. And while your northern guests will probably not know what a second line is or what to do when it starts, they will most definitely remember being a part of one for the rest of their lives!

It is no wonder your guests will love this naturally NOLA tradition, you are literally the main attraction without feeling like you are in the spotlight. At first, they may feel a bit weird or strange, but it is weirdly amazing and crazy awesome! It's a time to relax and be free and listen to the music and dance in the streets with your closest friends and fam and you feel kind of like a rock star! If you're having a destination wedding to New Orleans, it's an absolute must have!

What's that they're carrying? Is that a tissue? And what is with the umbrella? Those date back to the funerals as well. It's hot in New Orleans and the sun is beating down on you. Of course you're going to have an umbrella (or at least that is what common sense tells me and other articles on the internet). It was also a part of fashion at the time to carry an umbrella or "parasol." Today, Second Line Umbrellas reflect the bride and groom's personal style or their favorite school or professional team as they twirl and spin as if to say “laissez les bons temps rouler”! a hankie and start walking and bouncing and twirling and having fun. Today any paper or cloth napkin has been used to wave in the air to allow you to join in and be part of the fun.

The second line is great for transitioning guests to and from the reception site and from the moment it starts it all looks and feels (as it should) like the party has shown up just for you and your guests, however it’s not all hankies, parasols and sweet, sweet dance moves. But, a second line, takes time and planning and even a bit of money. 

Making your Second Line Happen - Are you having a second line? If so, will your DJ play the music as y'all parade around the reception hall or will your band provide a musician or two to guide y'all in the venue or even lead you outside for your exit? How much extra does that cost? Is your second line between the ceremony and reception or is it after the reception or both? Will it be in the street or will it only be on the sidewalks? That's a lot of information and yes you have to know it all when planning for your second line. 

Let's start at the beginning - are you having a second line? If not, no worries, your wedding will still rock. If so, let's keep going :) 

First you will need to think about when and where you will do the second line (and think of a rain plan while you're at it.). Will the second line be inside the reception or outside? If it is outside, will it be in the street or stay on the sidewalks? A second line in the streets of the French Quarter (or really anywhere in the city) requires a permit and a police escort (you really don't want your guests getting hit by any cars).

Check out the City of New Orleans One Stop Permit shop to get the form and instructions on completing it. While they have a lot of improvements regarding the permitting process, the second line permit is still not one you can submit online. You'll have to make your way to the 7th floor of City Hall and talk with Ms. Claire. The parade or second line permit is $50.25 (by cashier check or money order) and you'll also need to eventually pay for a police escort (normally on the day of the event). The city really appreciates it if you schedule this earlier rather than later AND doing so is a huge check off on your to-do list. The cost associated with police escorts varies based on the length of the route and size of party but expect to pay $100.00 per officer (groups over fifty usually require three or more officers).

Okay, are you going to use some of your reception band or will you have a brass band? And even though they may all share the same name "brass band" they can vary greatly between their styles and their prices.  Depending on the length of your parade and the duration of your second line, the cost of a brass band can range from $500-$1,500.00. And, if you want them to play for some of your cocktail hour, you'll have to take that into consideration too.

So you're ready for your second line. Do you have your hankies and umbrellas and other miscellaneous items you might want? These are not necessities but they certainly add to the atmosphere and are a little something your guests can take home with them.

All of these items can be personalized who you are and the wedding date and your colors etc. Really, the sky is the limit. You can have everything personalized with monograms, wedding colors, feathers and glitter. It's just a matter of what is your style and what you want to spend :) 

Prices for all of these personalized items varies greatly based on how many and the details you are adding to them. A second line umbrella can start at $25 and then end up being $400 or more depending on what materials are used and how much time it takes. Of course, you already know this, custom designs will definitely be more expensive. Handkerchiefs run anywhere from $10-$40 a dozen, depending on how they are printed or embroidered and which colors are used. If you don't want to spend the money on an umbrella, gather your ladies for a fun night and buy umbrellas and decorate them! And as for the hankies, go ahead and ask your venue if they have cocktail napkins you can use or buy a cheap package. Nobody will mind....they're in a second line! 

Now you're almost there, but let's not forget about the people who cannot or do not want to go for that nice leisurely stroll through the city. You may want to have some pedicabs on standby at the start just in case they're needed. That way, those guests do not feel left out and can still enjoy the second line by following behind in the pedicab. 

And so you're set. It's really not that bad, but if you need some help or want someone else to do it for you, It's Your Time Events is offering to do the permitting process for you - $300. This includes our time, planning the route with you, and the permit. Police escorts will be done separate as they are paid separately. Give us a call or shoot us an email and we're happy to work with you on this! No stressing! It's your wedding remember :) 

And PS - your dog can come on the second line too! Check out K9 Second Line! They're great!