Beating the heat (and other weather woes) on your wedding day

It's been a wild weather ride these past couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon. We've had a chilly and rainy early June 2017 and now as we approach July we're hitting 100-degree temperatures. This reminds me of the summer we did a wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes for almost 200 people that took us through the full complement of sun, overcast, and finally rain late in the evening. Thankfully, the couple had made weather plans: renting scores of white golf umbrellas from Barclay Event Rentals, providing tent heaters, using the site's two existing covered areas wisely, and checking the weather forecast regularly with the option of adding more tents if necessary.

Bridal-veil-lakes-portland-outdoor-wedding 

Image: EJP Events

 

Most of us often think of rain as the only thing to prepare for when planning an outdoor Portland wedding, but unusually hot temperatures can throw a monkey wrench into the works as well. Here's a hot-weather planning checklist for your outdoor wedding or event:

  • Make sure you have shade and ample drinking water for those warm summer wedding days. Visit the ceremony site around a similar time of day and see where the shade and sun tend to fall; plan your seating configuration accordingly.
  • Offer your guests parasols and hand fans for use during the ceremony.
  • If temperatures approach the 90s or >gasp!< even higher, rent portable A/C units and fans for un-airconditioned indoor spaces; or swamp coolers and spray misters for outdoor events (warning: misters cool well, but they will get your guests wet! So place them carefully). Large fans can also be good for bringing a breeze into a tent. Talk to your venue manager and rental company about the electrical needs of all these appliances and ensure that there are enough power connections and amperage to support this. You'll also want a way to hide all the cords and prevent guests from cord-trip accidents.
  • Have a "chilling station" featuring large tubs of iced washcloths, spray bottles with essential oils like peppermint and lavender, and iced water dispensers.
  • Keep a tent with breathable fabric shadewalls on reserve if you're planning a wedding in the summer months. If the weather is nice and you don't need it, you can always cancel it by the deadline for a nominal fee.

Hot-summer-wedding-weather-parasols-fans 

Image: Blaine and Bethany Photography

Whatever weather you're trying to prepare for, make sure to get your backup arrangements in well in advance, as many rental items sell out and backup venues can get booked up.

Don't forget, that even if your wedding is indoors, weather can affect the drivetime/photo schedule, your hair style, shoes, travel arrangements, and your comfort level. Plan for umbrellas from your favorite rental companies (I like Barclay Events and Bella Umbrella for umbrella rentals; and Luna Bazaar for parasols), perhaps consider valet parking or golf carts, and think about extra shoes and hair touchups.

Is there any possible way to know the wedding weather in advance? I recommend two great tools: The Farmer's Almanac for historical data, and also Accuweather.com for forecasts. If you pay for a premium membership, Accuweather.com will present a detailed, hourly 15-day forecast as well as give graphical historical data. No forecast is perfect, but I've found this one to be really close. On the day itself, the DarkSky app is great for realtime weather updates.

Here's hoping for perfect weather on your special day.

 

A version of this post originally appeared on the blog in July 2010. This post contains links to affiliate shopping sites and EJP Events may be compensated if you make any purchases after following these links.

Steps to Planning a Wedding, or “I just got engaged, where do I start?”

After the initial thrill of getting engaged subsides, you now realize that there's some planning to do! This time can easily feel overwhelming as friends and family barrage you with questions: Have you set a date? Where will the wedding be held? What's the theme? Where should I get a hotel room? !!!

Steps-to-planning-a-wedding-start-here
Fear not, there's actually a pretty organized system for thinking through the steps to planning a wedding that I can share with you in a few sentences. And no, it doesn't start with setting a date! Read on…

Phase One – Design, Budget, and Team  << START HERE!

The first phase of planning is for you to sit down and figure out how much you are willing to spend on the services needed to put on your ceremony and reception. Once that is done, you decide on a "look and feel" for the wedding – the wedding design. Only then can you start looking at venues and dates, and the vendor team who will provide the services and physical elements to make your vision into reality. Phase one is over when you have booked each vendor entity and/or assigned all major services to someone in your group.

Phase Two – Refining the Design

So you successfully completed Phase One and have your venue and vendor team together. Most of them will have had an initial contract that you signed that commits them to appear on the day of, or to provide a service during planning such as making the invitations. But what invitations? Which fonts and colors? What paper type? Detailed decisions must be made all the way down, for every vendor. Your second phase of planning is all about pushing each vendor or entity doing something for your wedding (including friends and DIY!) from the initial idea/contract to a final product or final order. Yes, you selected the florist, but don't stop there. Now it's time to pick out which flowers, which colors, and how many of each. It may seem daunting, but a good vendor will walk you through this process so you definitely won't be on your own.

Phase Three – Wedding Day Coordination

By about 2 months before the wedding, I'm hoping you've completed the first two phases (That's what we do for all of our clients!). At this point you should have everyone hired (or friends selected for any DIY services) to do each and every task needed for the big day. You should have the menu picked out, the flowers selected, the flatware and linens selected, the music picked.

Now is the final phase of making sure to remind everyone of the overall vision and what the big day should look like. You need to put together a contact list of everyone working on the day of and all of their mobile numbers and emails. As well as a schedule of the day, from rehearsal time to setup times/ vendor arrivals all the way through ceremony/reception organized activities, and through cleanup. Finally there should be a checklist of all of your setup items and a description of each. Once you have this document and share it with everyone involved and reconfirm it, you are on your way to a relaxed and smoothly-running day!

 

Where wedding websites fall short

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Photo credit: Madeline Ball, licensed by Creative Commons

Newly engaged? If you've started planning, that likely means heading to the computer. What you’ll come across are many websites that provide some of the same things a coordinator does: a to-do list, a list of vendors, and hundreds of articles about anything and everything wedding related. If you're not sure if wedding coordinator is in your budget, or you want to take on the planning yourself, these websites are amazing resources. However, there are several things a website can’t do:

  1. Tailor a plan unique to you and your partner. A coordinator can sit with you and your partner—and your families if they are involved—and go over each individual detail of what you would (and really wouldn’t) like to see on your big day.
  2. Give you advice from years of experience. A wedding coordinator that has been at this for a while has seen a lot of weddings, and this means they can pass all of this knowledge along to you as a bride or groom.
  3. Provide day-of coordination. This is one thing that couples often forget. While some feel they can handle the preparation ahead of time, it’s easy to overlook how many things need managing on the big day. Hiring a coordinator means someone is assigned to this, and you and your family and friends can focus on enjoying yourselves.

If you have experience with planning your wedding over wedding websites, good or bad, let us know in the comments! 

— Malia Robinson-Exo and Emee Pumarega, May 18, 2016

 

 

 

 

There’s no such thing as “just” when it comes to Wedding Day Coordination

I get a lot of requests for Wedding Day Coordination that begin: "We just really want someone that can keep the flow going and keep us on schedule."

Let's break this down:

Keep the flow going.

What is "flow" when it comes to a wedding, anyway? I interpret it as that magical mix of timing and logistics that makes your wedding feel joyful and unplanned, while at the same time using every moment allotted to you by the venue and your vendors to the best possible advantage.

How does flow happen? Well, it doesn't "just" happen. A wedding day coordinator will normally put in 20-30 hours of preparation before appearing at your wedding. This includes collecting all of your contracts and paperwork and reviewing all policies to ensure understanding of everything you have arranged and what you are entitled to; research into your wedding design; confirmation of venue and vendor policies; and understanding you and your families' preferences and decisions about what you want to achieve on the day. Often the coordinator will condense this information into an event plan. Twenty to thirty hours. And that's just pre-event.

Keep us on schedule.

On the day of the event, in order to keep the flow going if it gets hung up or stops, a wedding planner may have to deal with a multitude of issues behind the scenes. Here are the most common ones:

prep time, especially hair and makeup, not going as scheduled
transportation and parking woes
decor issues: wrong color, wrong piece or fit
missing items and going back for them
lateness of vendors or bridal party

Even if everything goes 100% perfectly (and the reality is, it doesn't) a wedding day coordinator still must be constantly available to act as a surrogate host, direction-giver, traffic controller, scheduler, and people-mover. They must be on site well before you or any guests or vendors arrive, and stay on site long after everyone has departed. These duties will take 12-16 hours to complete on the wedding day itself. Not to mention 1-2 hours of rehearsal time explaining the procedures to the wedding party and family; and the little post-rehearsal errands that always seem to come up.

In sum, while your wedding day planner's job is to "just keeping the flow going and keeping everything on schedule", in order to do that, they and their staff must put in upwards of 48+ hours of solid on- and off-site work that culminates in your well-run wedding day.

{Destination Weddings 101} Traveling with a wedding gown

Destination-weddings-hawaii-oregonPhoto by Ewen Roberts

Although the bulk of outdoor Oregon weddings have not yet begun, winter lovebirds are still heading out to beachy climates to get married. The question of how to pack your wedding gown comes up a lot!

Always check with your airline first for specific packing restrictions.  Here are some tips from one of our gown specialists: 

"You will not be able to use the standard length bridal gown bag as carry on luggage. It is too long, and too easily torn. Place your gown inside an FAA-approved garment bag instead. For instance, US Airways states that wedding gowns must be in garment bags no longer than 54" long. You are then expected to fold that bag in half to fit it into the overhead compartment. If you are lucky, the flight attendant might allow you to hang the garment bag in the first class closet (cross your fingers that your flight attendant has a soft spot for brides). But don't count on it.

It is not only your wedding gown that you should make plans for – your accessories are also very important. Pack your shoes, headpiece/veil/or tiara, and other accoutrements into a carry-on bag. With all the limitations these days, you may have to ask your partner to take your bag as their one carry-on item (remember, you also have the garment bag). Another option is to pack your gown and accessories together into one carry-on bag. I know it is terrible to think of cramming your beloved dress into a tiny bag, but you will need to have it professionally pressed when you arrive at your destination anyway. Be sure to keep your wedding jewelry in your purse."

If you have a wedding planner or coordinator, you could ask them to make arrangements to have your gown pressed or steamed (the seamstress will look at each item's fabric type, and decide the best way).  In Portland, we do this through our partners at The Bridal Loft. If you are heading straight to your wedding location from the airport, your destination wedding planner or coordinator should offer the service of meeting you on your arrival day at the airport and getting the bridal gown, bridesmaids gowns, tuxedos or suits from you at that time and taking them to be pressed or steamed.

 

When and how do we sign our Oregon marriage license?

via awesomethingsaregoodforyou.tumblr.com

Here's a question I get asked quite a bit: when and how do you sign the marriage license? I've seen it done a number of ways.

(First though, make sure you go in person to the county office and pick up your marriage license within 3 and 60 days before the wedding! You can start the process online in Multnomah County, but you both still must go in person to pick it up, with valid ID. More about that here.)

You will have given the county clerk $60 and your personal information, and signed your names to a triplicate form. The license is then given to you to wait until the day of the wedding when your witnesses will print their names, your officiant will sign it and add his or her contact information, and make the license legally binding.

There's also a commemorative license. This is the "pretty" certificate that is included along with your marriage license, and you will want to also have your witnesses, officiant, and yourselves sign this too. It's just for looks though, and is NOT proof of legal marriage. (It is fun to get your witnesses and officiant to sign that one too, and to flash it on your honeymoon, in hopes of getting freebies 🙂

So, again, when does all this happen? If you don't mind not having the photographer there, you can cheat a little and get it out of the way by signing everything the night before the wedding. Usually your officiant and witnesses are present at the rehearsal dinner, so this makes things really easy. This is a little unorthodox though, since you are technically now married the day before the wedding. However, it does make for one less thing to worry about on the day of.

The next option is to pre-fill out all the paperwork and witness names, and let the officiant sign on the day of. This way you are still officially executing the document on the actual day of your wedding, but it still cuts down on the paperwork and poring-over-fine-print part.

The final option is still the most traditional; gather your 2 adult witnesses and officiant on the day of the wedding, either right before you walk down the aisle in the dressing room, or right after, and do the form filling and formal signing with your photographer present. Just make sure to decide where in the schedule this will fall, and that the witnesses know, and pick a good location with a table and light where all this can take place. With the triplicate form and the commemorative license, it can amount to about 10-15 minutes of careful paperwork and can take up to 20-25 minutes out of the wedding day schedule.

And that's it! Just make sure that your officiant does MAIL the license back to the county within the following week. That final step ensures that your marriage is recorded by the government and you can have your happily ever after recognized in the eyes of the law as well as your family and friends.

Wedding Sparklers: Tips and Tricks, and Where to Buy for Portland, Oregon Weddings

Portland-photographer-paul-richPhoto courtesy Paul Rich Studio

In the middle of #Snowlandia2014, why am I sitting inside thinking about weddng sparklers? Maybe because I am obsessed with making sure people don't make mistakes with their wedding, and sparklers are one place where it's really easy to screw up something that seems simple. Here are a few tips:

1. Order your sparklers really early. First, so you can get the benefits of super-low bulk pricing from the large favor sellers. Second, because in most places, sparklers are considered to be a type of firework, and thus cannot be shipped express air. So many people wait until the last minute/last couple of weeks before the wedding and then realize that they can't get the sparklers on time!

2. (Or maybe, #zero?) Check with your venue to make sure they will allow you to use sparklers on site! Just because you've seen a bunch of great pictures of people using wedding sparklers on Pinterest, doesn't mean your venue allows it. Also be prepared that, especially in the Gorge or Oregon's forested areas, where it can be very windy, a site that allows sparklers normally can all of a sudden ban them if there is a general burn ban in the area due to dry and windy weather.

3. Don't hand them out too early. Guests will get into them and start lighting them up on the dance floor or wherever, and all of a sudden, there aren't any left for the special getaway picture you were planning. Designate someone to pull them out of their safe storage place at the end of the night and hand them out as guests are leaving.

4. Organize your peeps. Those getaway pictures don't just happen. Guests are usually occupied getting one last drink at the bar or hanging out near the dance floor — they have no idea that you want them to gather out at the front of the venue to pose for a complicated photo composition. Again, designate your wedding coordinator or trusted friend who will have their wits about them at the end of the night, to round up guests a few minutes before you and your new spouse exit the venue. Or get the DJ/emcee to make an announcement.

5. Again, those getaway picture don't just happen! Make sure your photographer is well versed in taking nighttime photos with sparklers. Once more, your coordinator is key in making sure that the schedule will accommodate your photographer's package (you don't want them leaving before the getaway, right?).

6. Timing is everything. By the time the last guest lined up gets their sparkler lit, the first guest's sparkler could go out. That's why I recommend using 28" to 36" long sparklers – the really long kind – so they last a long time. As an alternative, you could give out two of the shorter (more commonly found) 12" sparklers per person so when their first one goes out they have a backup. It goes without saying that you should have plenty of lighters, matches, or a central large sparkler for everyone to light off of. And of course, pails of sand or water for guests to put them out. 

I hope you found these tips helpful! In Portland, here are a couple of great Portland-local places where you can order your sparklers:

The Wedding Cottage

Fancy That

Or if you want to order online, here are a few links from some of our great sponsoring merchants below.


12" WEDDING SPARKLERS (pack of 5)
Price: 1.75


Heart Shaped Sparklers (BULK Case of 72 Wedding Sparklers)

Price: 65.99
Koyal-wholesale-wedding-sparklers
36" Wedding Sparklers (6 Per Pack) – 3 Minute Gold Sparkle

Price: 119.88
Koyal-wholesale-wedding-sparklers
36" Bulk Wedding Sparklers (144 Per Case) – 3 Minute Gold Sparkle

Price: 183.90

Heart Shaped Wedding Sparklers

Price: 49.80

36 Inch Wedding Sparklers

Price: 3.95

Read more about our relationships with sponsors and affiliate organizations.

Top signs you do NOT need a wedding planner

I know, crazy, right? Why would The Portland Wedding Coordinator blog about not needing a wedding planner? The plain truth is, not every wedding really needs one. Here are some signs that yours might be one of them:

1. You are very laid-back about the look and feel of the wedding and don't need for things to turn out or look a certain way.

2. Your event has very little etiquette, protocol, or time constraint

3. Culturally, the expectations of family and guests of your ability to host a party experience are low.

4. Your guest list is small (less than 40) people, and you don't have friends and family coming from out of town

5. The how-this-will-all-come-together is pretty cut and dried. Logistics are really easy, and your vendor team has all worked together before in that venue. Additionally, you are not creating a script or schedule that deviates greatly from what's been done before.

{ From the Archives } Mindy and Ashish’s Garba and Indian Wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes, Oregon

This time of year, we're fielding tons of inquiries, cleaning up the blog, receiving happy emails from brides with links to their summer wedding photos. I was just going through some photo files and couldn't believe I'd overlooked blogging Mindy and Ashish's garba (Gujarati-style dance party) and wedding weekend from a few years ago.

Garba-dandiya-gujarati-indian-hindu-wedding

The garba was held at the downtown Hilton Portland and catered by East India Company. I worked with Royce's Prop Shop and the bride, who had brought back a ton of gorgeous sari fabric that she wanted to use around the room. Royce and I came up with the idea of draping the saris over T-bar posts, and using uplighting for a festive effect:

Continue reading “{ From the Archives } Mindy and Ashish’s Garba and Indian Wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes, Oregon”

{ Portland Wedding Planning } What is a “kick-off” consultation?

Sometimes the terms that are bounced around in the wedding planning process can be confusing.

In our {Wedding Planning Definitions} series, I’ll examine some different terms and products that come up often in discussions of wedding planning.

Today’s definition is:

“kick-off consult”.

Wedding-planner-portland-oregon

This is a program for clients who would like assistance from a wedding planner in the early stages of their engagement, but perhaps have not committed fully to using a planner for full services. The “kick-off consult” usually includes a design component, where the planner talks with you about your overall vision for the wedding in everything from colors and sounds to the food and drink, all the way to what the attendants will be wearing.  You can ask questions about the pros and cons of different sites, and also get ideas for sites you may not have thought of on your own.  Budget will be discussed, and vendor matches will be suggested. You should also get a wedding planning checklist with a list of to-do items for wedding planning and the dates the tasks should be completed.

The bride and groom-to-be leave this meeting armed with a great deal of information to make sound, educated decisions for the initial wedding planning process.  Time involvement varies from planner to planner, and is usually around 90 minutes to 2 hours, often with an email follow-up included. There is usually a flat or hourly fee for this meeting.

If you are having a hard time getting your wedding planning process off the ground (perhaps you are stuck without a date or venue and getting stressed), a one-time, “kick-off” consult could be just the thing you need.

A version of this blog post appeared on The Portland Wedding Coordinator on May 9, 2009.

Photo: Oliver M. P. Miller