Lucky In Love: Vendor Report

I always found vendor reviews helpful to both learn about other experiences and find vendors. I had a positive experience with (almost) everyone, so I’m not going to rank them–I’d use them all again!

Hair & Make Up: Mario Tricoci Salon, 900 N. Michigan

My stepmom set this up, including trials–it wasn’t a priority for me and this worked well. Its in the same building as the hotel and across the street from the church so there was no chance of delays. We didn’t get to all hang out together, but it did mean it was quick. We didn’t start til a couple hours before, which meant we had time for a leisurely breakfast together first. Kylie, who did my makeup, was especially awesome. She was getting married the next month and was super fun to chat with. I actually had some issues after my trial and she had me come back in to make sure everything would be perfect for the wedding.


Hotel: Four Seasons

I stayed there the night before the wedding. When I made the reservation I asked about getting guaranteed late check out of 1 pm (instead of 11 am) and the guy said it was probably fine but they really couldn’t guarantee anything. I explained that I was getting married next door and kind of needed to know for sure. He said he could charge me $200 and guarantee it. Seriously?! It’s two hours. Then he called back ten minutes later (I assume someone told him that was ridiculous–it was two hours and not like I just wanted more shopping time) and told me all was well. And it was. The room was beautiful, they sent chocolates, the view was great.


Church: Fourth Presbyterian Church

Fourth knows weddings. I’m actually on a committee with Kathy, the coordinator, so I knew her personally, and she did a great job. They have a staff of four for every wedding and ask that any outside coordinators limit their services to the reception. They have weddings down to a precise, perfect, relaxed science. Its quite pricy but includes all the staff people, the officiant and the organist. (We paid extra for a singer too.) And its beautiful.


Florist: Westgate Flowers

They were very easy to work with and affordably priced. Our flowers were beautiful–this was something else that wasn’t a big priority but it was for my mom and they were very organized to make sure nothing was missed. There were two mistakes–Mike’s bout was smaller than anyone else’s, including the 5 year old ringbearer, and the bridesmaids bouquets were wrapped in ribbon I had said could be used for anything BUT that since it would clash with their dresses. The first one is definitely on them (and the bouts were labelled, so it was intentional) but I think my mom may have mixed up the message on the second. We’re still married and all, so it turned out fine.

Photographer: Caili Helsper Photography

Are you sick of seeing her pictures yet?? Probably not! Caili did a fantastic job. She was so fun and easy to work with on the actual day. I spent more time with her than most of my guests, so I’m so glad she and second shooter Amanda was good company. BM Blondie got married this summer and was really disappointed when both Caili and Amanda were already booked. I got a great deal on my package because I booked when she had only shot a couple of weddings, but she would be worth it at any price.

Catering: Twomaytoz Catering

Our food was excellent and their prices are great. I looked at a ton of caterers and the big difference seemed to be that their menu was smaller–but ultimately your guests are only going to have a couple of choices no matter how big the menu you are choosing from is (and there was plenty extensive) and people told me the food was great. I have a friend with severe food allergies and there was a little trouble handling that request, but the owner stepped in and all went well.

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Cake: Reuters Bakery

The cake was good. The cake tasting experience wasn’t quite what I anticipated, but they were the preferred vendor for our caterer and it was included in our package. I like cake but never find it memorable at weddings (and people try to get too creative and then I don’t like the flavor combo) so this was all good for me. They executed what we asked for perfectly and it tasted delicious.

DJ: DJs for You

I am so, so sorry DJ. Other than my vision, our poor DJ was the major victim of the weather. He set up all of his equipment, soundchecked, and was ready to go outside on the patio. Then they decided for sure we had to be inside, so he got to take down all of his equipment and move it to the third floor. Via a small staircase, because there is no elevator. He was great though–he listened to our request and mostly did his thing which is good because we were not one of those couples who wants to micromanage the music. And don’t worry, we tipped him well.


Venue: Cheney Mansion

They were awesome. They let us come the day before to drop our stuff off and because there were no events in the morning the next day, we were able to set up our photo display, card box and put our candy in the dining room. And then when the candy bar had to move (*tear) they carried the whole show upstairs. I’m still sad we didn’t get the cocktail hour and dancing I was hoping for, but overall it was lovely and they were a pleasure to work with.

Tuxes: Jos A. Bank

STAY AWAY. Not one persons tux fit at all. Too tight, too big–they didn’t fit in all kinds of weird ways. They were a huge hassle for Shamrock to deal with (he spent hours on the phone over multiple days before the wedding simply getting the details of the order straightened out). Every single thing I don’t like about our wedding pictures is their fault–Shamrock’s tux was so ill-fitting that it looks ridiculous in some of the pictures. We should have done suits. Oh well.

And I think that’s everyone we used! (It’s probably not, but I can’t remember the rest.)


All photos by Caili Helsper Photography


Lucky In Love: All About the Money

Way back when, I estimated our wedding would cost about $33,000. I always found other peoples budget posts helpful, but I didn’t feel like researching exact amounts. (Sorry.) So these numbers are close but not exact and probably do not add up precisely. Total math teacher fail. Anyhow. How did we do?


Ceremony $2250 (estimated $1000, but this was a flat fee)

My church is really expensive, but it wasn’t like we were going to get married somewhere random. It included the coordinator and three assistants, organist, officiant, rehearsal etc.


Flowers $1200 [ish…mom paid for this too] (estimated $2000, but I think I based that off their estimate)

My mom wanted lots of pretty flowers. I think we got a great deal since this included our bouquets, bouts, 13 centerpieces and a cake topper arrangement. Mistakes were super minor and probably wouldn’t have happened had I bothered to follow up about anything.

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Invitations and Paper Products $391.45 (estimated $1000, but I knew it would be less)

This includes most of the supplies to make our own invitations, minus the cost of the Cuttlebug (owned for ages, use for lots of stuff) and the L Letterpress platform (which was a Christmas gift). It also includes postage.


Apparel $3490 (estimated $3000)

This is entirely due to Shamrock’s wedding band being way over my estimate. My alterations were a lot (and only sort of included because it was due the day before the wedding and my mom paid it) but my dress was quite inexpensive, so I consider that one even. Shamrock still wears the ring and all, so whatever.

Photography $2500 (estimated $3000, but including some albums which I haven’t done yet)

Obviously totally worth it and we got an amazing deal by booking Caili when she was just starting out. Win.


DJ $825 (Estimated $1200)

We decided to reduce the standard package ($1000) to have less lighting because it would look better outside (there were cafe lights and it was the longest day of the year). Oops? The full package would have been better since we were inside…

Transportation/Hotel/Rehearsal Dinner ? (Estimated $4000, and I think that’s probably right?)

Transportation was $540 for the limo to take us to pictures and then the reception. Wedding night hotel was ~$200, but the night before and the rehearsal dinner my father also paid for. Our rehearsal dinner was half the size of our wedding, so I think this number is probably about right.

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Decorations  ? (Estimated $500)

Probably less than $200–paper is my preferred medium, and its not expensive.


Gifts $1000+ (Estimated $800)

We bought gifts for our wedding party, parents and officiant. It was not important to me at all to stick to budget here.


Reception $16371 (Estimated $16000)

(I don’t actually know if that number is accurate, but thats what my spreadsheet says.) This includes both the venue rental and the catering.

Total: Right over $30,000.

Not bad, I’d say. We definitely saved by having our reception in the suburbs and doing so many things ourselves. Our goal was to spend as little as possible to have the wedding we wanted, and we definitely met that goal. We could have saved a little bit more here and there (or a lot more having an entirely different wedding) but this was exactly the wedding we wanted (well, maybe with less rain).

We could have paid for our wedding ourselves, but it was very important to our parents (especially my father) to help us out. My father paid about half the cost, we paid a quarter and our moms paid the last quarter between them.


Room to Breathe

What’s your budget?

Some of the most awkward things are also some of the most important–first and foremost, money. Our budget was tricky to nail down at first–we didn’t want to spend more than we needed to, but how much you “need” is hard to figure out before you start. The venue was the big piece that helped us get an idea of how much things might cost, and I tried to pick realistic numbers for everything. That meant I didn’t include anywhere we’d really splurge, but also assumed pretty average pricing on everything–for reference, I knew there was no way we’d be anywhere near the $1000 I set for printing, and we’re not. But I didn’t want to stress out over trying to match a possibly unrealistic number, so I aimed high (well, I aimed middle, but I’m calling it high) and then tried to come in at or below those numbers. Our ceremony will be more expensive than what’s listed, but we’re below on apparel, flowers, printing and music. 

Budget also means different things to different people. I’ll save you the click–the number I threw out in that earlier post was $33,000. For me, that meant I would stay at or below that number, and use it for the things listed in my budget spreadsheet. If I have extra somewhere, I can feel better about going over somewhere, but I don’t reallocate the money. I don’t have $500 free to spend on whatever I want to because I made my own invitations, I just…didn’t spend that $500. And if I was off on something (ahem, men’s platinum wedding band) I just shrug my shoulders. We should come in at or below my current budget, but if we don’t because, for example, more people come, that’s totally okay.

I know some people have a number, and they plan to spend it (also where people go over–they allocate all of the money, and then the alterations cost more than anticipated, but the spare money from not buying favors has already been used so you could get better shoes and…you know)–the Set Amount Budgeter. Others don’t want to go over a certain number (the Max Budget), and still others have a target but don’t stress on the specifics (the Ballpark Budgeter). And some just spend as little as they can to get what they want and hope for the best (the Fingers Crossed Budgeter).

The other tricky thing about budgets is what exactly to include. I leave out my engagement ring and the honeymoon. The engagement ring because he bought that himself, for me. (I actually sort of feel like the wedding rings shouldn’t count either, since they’re a symbol of the marriage but can vary a lot, although they are counted in my budget.)

Honeymoons can take so many different forms that I don’t think including them makes sense. I have friends who are having a more modest wedding, but a pretty extravagant honeymoon and others who roadtripped their honeymoon to afford the huge wedding they wanted. Everyone has different priorities, but the type of honeymoon and type of wedding you have don’t really have too much to do with each other.

For us, I was a cross between Ballpark and Max–I’m generally a frugal person and we had money saved, I just didn’t want to spend more than needed. (I also didn’t want to spend less than needed at the expense of friends and family. If we had needed their help to allow us to have things we otherwise couldn’t afford that would be one thing, but saving money at someone else’s expense when we could afford what we want is another.)

By the end of the planning process though, it was getting tough. I wanted to just get things done. At the same time, $100 (or $1000) here and there DOES add up. Finally, Shamrock pointed out that I wasn’t going to get an award for meeting some imaginary target. If I spend a little extra money, that I already have in the bank, instead of stressing over how to spend $15 less? Nothing happens. I just have $15 less. So in the home stretch I let it go…and we’ll see how I did next.

What’s included in your budget? Are you a Ballpark Budgeter? Fingers Crossed? Or maybe a Set Amount or Max Budget?

Plus One Plus None

Everyone’s heard the story of someone who brought their entire extended family to a wedding. Or the guest who assumed their five children were invited, or the one who brought some guy she met the night before.

We had no such extras, but I did find the case of the plus ones to be so interesting. For everyone’s wedding.

I know there are those who think you really should know the bride & groom to be invited (or even that you must be living together, engaged or married) and others who can’t imagine not allowing people to bring a guest. That has nothing to do with this post (and brings out a lot of strong feelings, so I’ll stay away!)

Our policy was pretty simple: you can bring a plus one.

We didn’t really have much in the way of new relationships, so when we did our invitations people were either in a long term relationship or not dating anyone. For our purposes, a plus one is literally a plus one/”and guest”, not my sisters boyfriend of 2 years or someone I’ve actually met–they’ve either just barely started dating or are just coming along as a date. If you could write the invitation using a name, that doesn’t count as a “plus one” in my book.

So here’s my question: Who BRINGS a plus one? Not who gets one…but when you give people a plus one, who actually brings someone?


I did bring GM BFF to a wedding once. I was MOH so I didn’t sit with him–this is his “me & my date” picture. Ha. ha.

Here are our stats:

0/5: Older widowed or divorced women (I’m not sure I wrote anything explicit on their invites since I figured they didn’t want to bring a guest–no one did although one woman did consider “using her plus one to make Son come so he can drive me.” which we thought was funny. Son really didn’t want to attend, so I guess he dropped her off and picked her up.)

3/9: Singles. This was the one I was really interested in as we planned our guest list. Who would actually bring a guest? We had one person rsvp with a friend and then change it to their super brand new boyfriend two days before. Two friends waited til the day rsvps were due so they had time to find a date. No local cousins brought dates, and several friends didn’t either.

My out of town 20 something single cousins didn’t get invited with dates but also booked their tickets solo well before invites went out so I knew they had no plans to bring anyone anyhow–they’re all a flight away. So I won’t count those. Had someone asked, it would have been fine. Actually, the belly bands were blank unless I thought people needed clarification–since we only invited children of family, our friends belly bands said “M & B” and a friend who didn’t live with her boyfriend had “N & C” so it was clear he was invited. And then those who were single got “T and guest”–but everyone else I figured we’d all be on the same page about who was invited and I let it be. We had no exciting surprises.

My favorite “and guest” is from Mini Me, who invited a friend who had a baby to her wedding ” & Family” because she couldn’t figure out how else to word it–she rsvped for 5: herself, her son, her parents and one of her several brothers!

As for me? Other than taking GM BFF to a wedding, I’ve never just brought someone, although I really wish I had once–the only people I knew remotely well were the groom and best man. I should have skipped the cocktail hour but instead spent it circling between the bathroom, the bar (more water please!) and the windows wishing someone would talk to me. As long as I know people though, I personally would fly solo–I think its more fun.

I’m so curious…who actually BROUGHT a plus one to your wedding? Would you bring a plus one if you were single?

Lucky in Love: And We Danced

Even though I spend a lot of time on the details (even the ones that weren’t), what really matters are the people. We were so blessed that we had so many family members travel to celebrate with us and so many friends come to support us.

After dinner, we headed upstairs for dancing (remember, it was supposed to be outside, but sometimes rain happens).

We danced together. (Ahem, to “A Whole New World” because you already know how cool we were. And yes, we know all the words.)


Then we each danced with our parents:



And then our guests took over.


In between dancing, we found time to socialize with our guests, take a routine sorority-girl picture (Anchors Aweigh!) and enjoy the evening.


Our DJ did a great job. At one point, the dance floor was packed and we were all having a great time. As the song ended, he put on something different and people rapidly started fleeing. He cleared the dance floor! And then my dad came up, so proud that he had found the song “Mary’s Wedding” and the DJ was playing it for him. Oh. Well, at least that explained it and the DJ was able to get the dance floor going again right away.



Obviously, my mini-me and I found some time to do the Slope Dance (I never said I was cool–key refrain is “positive, negative, zero, undefined”)


But people still had fun!



Shamrock’s cousin’s son must have slept so well that night…he never left the dance floor!


And before we knew it, the night was winding down. It was almost time to go.

Did anyone request any random music for your wedding? Anyone else pick a super-uncool first dance song?


Lucky In Love: Let Them Eat Sweets

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One of our “must haves” at the very beginning of planning was a candy bar

…and then we changed our minds. Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal. Maybe we’d skip it. And then a few weeks before the wedding, we decided to go for it (excellent planning, Clover). I meant to write this post up before the wedding, but better late than never!


I’ll get into details below if you’re interested in doing the same. I definitely overthought this a lot—I couldn’t figure out how much candy to buy. I didn’t want to have buckets left over, but I also didn’t want to run out right away (lame). Hive members had posted on the boards about one person filling seven bags of candy and the whole thing being picked clean before cocktail hour had ended and others took most of the candy home with them. Do I put bags on the candy table? One per seat with the place settings? How much will people take?

Finally, Shamrock and Crafty talked me down. Shamrock pointed out we know of several guests that carry their own Ziploc bags (true story) and if they wanted to take a ton of candy, whether or not I provided little cello bags wasn’t going to change it. The funniest was Crafty though…when I told her my worries, she laughed. And then she said, “Then let them take too much candy. Think of the joy it would bring to those greedy people.” And it would. And also, no one actually did.


We had TONS of stuff. MIL Clover does nothing halfway, I was worried about it looking empty or running out, and we ended up with enough for a wedding twice the size of ours. In fact, at the end of the night Clover Dad & his wife were tasked with packing up and taking care of the candy bar. They both have quite the sweet tooth, and Wife’s condition was that NONE of the candy come home with her. So she spent the last 20 minutes frantically stuffing candy into bags and thrusting them at people. She managed to get rid of a good amount, but we definitely brought a candy stash on our honeymoon!

Now for the details:

MIL Clover was tasked with buying 2-3 cute lidded glass jars (I already had or borrowed the rest), and I started a spreadsheet to track items, what they would be served on, utensils needed, where we’d get them from and who was responsible for actually getting them. Shamrock wanted to make sure the candy bar could be used not only take-home fun, but that people would also have something sweet to snack on during the reception. In addition to small tongs & scoops (plastic and from the Dollar Store—metal can chip the glass!) I bought small plastic plates and cocktail napkins (Dollar store), and then small cello bags from Michaels (with coupons). I have a ton of plastic plates & napkins left over. Wedding colors for ever.

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I read Mrs. Stiletto’s posts about her Candy Bar (that wasn’t) and looked into pricing at Candy Warehouse, Sweet City Candy and Oriental Trading Company. These companies all let you sort by color, so it was easy to figure out what we would want. But shipping on candy, especially for a summer wedding, is EXPENSIVE. On to Plan B. MIL Clover lives near Albanese Candy Co, and I googled every bulk candy place I could find. Some were really more candy shops (with crazy high pricing to match) but there was one on the Northwest side (Superior Nut & Candy) that was a true bulk candy place–no frills, in a little strip-business-park, with great prices.

So my plan switched to “find all the blue, green and white candy I can locally and figure out what I need to supplement”. Here’s what was included in the Clover candy bar (sources in parentheses):

  • Hershey’s Kisses (after Easter sales, I picked out the pink ones and used them for my Bachelorette thank you’s. We used to do the same thing in college around our sorority initiation)
  • Cupcakes (won in a contest from Amazing Creations Bakeshop—my former student!)
  • Cake pops (ordered from Amazing Creations)
  • Cookies (MIL ordered them—she really wanted to, I didn’t think it was really necessary, but whatever makes you happy. And then she ordered six DOZEN. And they were delicious, actually.)
  • Salt Water Taffy (Jewel—local grocery)
  • White chocolate covered pretzels & raisins (Albanese)
  • Custom color M & Ms (M&M Groupon, terrible service brought you by UPS who left them outside a random address 3 blocks from my mom on a hot day)
  • Blue gummy sharks, blue & green gummy rings (Superior Nut & Candy Co)
  • Mint Meltaways (Fannie May)
  • Jelly beans (Albanese)
  • And I ended up not needing these, but I was going to do Meringue Cookies (Trader Joes–take up a lot of space for not much money), rock candy (pricey but a big pretty impact) and Garretts Popcorn (a Chicago institution–we would have bought day of but I knew we were running out of room)

Crafty would be setting it up with help from my family members, so I wanted to make things as easy as possible. So I did several things:

  • Sketched out a diagram with rough placement
  • Put labels inside the jars before packing so it was easy to match treat with vessel
  • Pre-filled jars when possible (so our kisses made it to the venue already in their bowl, covered in plastic wrap)—obviously only with the wrapped candy!
  • Took lots of pictures, of both the set up and individual vessels


I already mentioned that this was one of the biggest things that was an issue with the rain plan—it was supposed to be set up in the dining room to give guests who chose not to go outside for dancing something to do. But in case of rain it was supposed to be upstairs, both so that people could snack while dancing AND to free up some very needed space on the first floor. That didn’t happen, so Crafty’s beautiful setup was seen only by our photographer.

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The dining room table is HUGE, and I always think one of the reasons some candy bars don’t look as cute as planned is because the table isn’t full enough, so I wanted to make sure ours was full. So I had plenty of white platters so I could spread out our baked goods. Of course, it ended up on a MUCH smaller table on the third floor in a more haphazard arrangement. MOH Sis actually spent half of dinner begging the venue to have it moved for me. They were actually very nice about it, but before they had the chance to say they’d do it (once piece at a time, up two flights of stairs), she made sure to give it everything she had: “I have cousins. A lot of cousins. And they’re big.” (And I’m sure they would have helped if asked.)

Also, wedding regret: I never got a cake pop. Boo. They looked so good too!

Did you do a candy bar? Where did you get your candy from?

All photos that are not terrible by Caili Helsper Photography. Crappy iPhone photos by yours truly.

cloverCatch up with the Clover wedding:

The Clovers Return

Um, hi.

I got thisclose to finishing my recaps and then vanished. Sorry? Life got busy, no pressing deadlines, etc.

But I’m back! And ready to wrap this show up. It’s been, um, almost a year, so here’s a quick refresher:

I’m a high school math teacher and Shamrock’s a consultant in Chicago. We got engaged after just a year of dating and started planning our wedding for 14 months later (teachers on summer break!).


Photo by Caili Helsper Photography

We got married at Fourth Presbyterian church in downtown Chicago–choosing my church was an easy decision, making our Presbyterian-Catholic marriage work for both of us was a bit trickier (but don’t worry we’re doing fine!).


Photo by Caili Helsper Photography

We (I) spent forever trying to figure out which venue was right for us, deciding that a change in location was worth it for us. Of course, then I over-researched catering and got way too into choosing a photographer.


And of course, there were projects:

By the end, I started getting a little anxious, but I finally realized you can’t please everyone (and you’re probably doing a better job than you thought!)

And before I vanished, I kicked off my recaps. Wanna catch up?


Up next? The candy bar! [aka the post I wrote but dragged my feet on just adding photos to for almost a year.]

Setting Expectations

There are all kinds of stress that come up in wedding planning. There’s decision stress (What does my wedding look like? Where do I have my reception?) There’s financial stress (It costs how much? We need to save that much?) There’s guest list stress (I’ve never even meet your coworker’s cousin. If everyone says yes they’ll have nowhere to sit.)

But for me the toughest has been the stress wedding plan can put on relationships with the people you care about most.


We have wonderful, loving family & friends, many of whom have been so generous with offers of help, both financial and otherwise. (Hi Mom thanks for doing one million wedding projects.)

Which is why its really important to set expectations, as early on and clearly as possible.

For us, we ran into some trouble with both friendors and actual vendors not meeting the timelines we thought were clear. (Silly us!) So while they were thinking there was plenty of time, we were left wondering and waiting.

Luckily, most of our vendors AND our friends and family were great to work with. And for the ones that were not-so-great? Well, I learned some valuable lessons. (In my professional life I’m very detail oriented and for whatever reason this still did not occur to me.) I know I’m not the only one who ended up in a stressful situation waiting for things you can’t control. I know how much it sucks when its a vendor that won’t get back to you, but add in worry over losing or damaging a friendship and anxiety over the fact that you may not have a back up plan and the situation is even worse.

So what would I have done differently? (And with anyone, not just a friendor, because we had this issue with some people we paid a lot of money!)

Two big things:

1. Lay out exactly what I want. “Hey Mom, want to help me with my place cards?” isn’t nearly as clear as “I need help folding 200 cards.” Be specific about exactly what you are and are not hoping to get help with. (Except in my case place cards was waaay more complicated)


2. Give a clear timeline.

“Hey Mom, I’ll need the leaves cut for the place cards by June 1 so I can start writing names on them.” Even if its really obvious, it can’t hurt to make expectations know. It also makes it infinitely easier to follow up. Otherwise I’m stuck listening to my mom tell me the place cards will be ready for me in time while I’m freaking out because I wanted them yesterday and when exactly is “in time” but now it’s too late to say something.

Also, inflate your timeline. That way if things are running a little late, you’re still ok. And even if you have all the time in the world because you don’t even get married til next year…it will not hurt. And it might really, really help. Especially with people you aren’t as close to–it’s a lot easier to tell your mom you’re upset and needed that done asap and when on earth will she do it than to ask your second cousin when, exactly, your invitation proof will be done.

Bonus: Money is a tricky subject–its definitely easier to follow up when there’s money involved, but if Friend Crafty tells me she’d be happy to make me a necklace to wear, or my mom says she’ll handle the place cards…it could be weird to say I’ll pay them. Just decide how you feel about it in advance. (But it might be weird to pay your mom…)

Do you have awesome people helping you? Have you set timelines for your projects?

The Friendor Dilemma

A friend whose skills are employed as a vendor at an event or a wedding. Results may vary, as some friendors are highly skilled (as a DJ, photographer, baker, etc), while others are not. Urban dictionary
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to know someone really useful. A graphic designer, a florist, a dj…or maybe just a friend with some serious talents.  Or even just someone who’s ready to help and good at following instructions. There are lots of options–helping with a project, providing a service or a day-of role. And friendors can range from your closest friends to acquaintances.
Crafty and me –she published a book on beaded jewelry | Photo by BM Mathlete
I have a close friend who is a wedding planner and another is a designer. I have acquaintances who are wedding photographers & hairstylists. And my friend Crafty can be considered a pro in terms of making jewelry–with plenty of amateur talents too. But help from friendors can be tricky–I don’t want to take advantage of anyone but I also  love the idea of more personal touches on our wedding day.
First, we have the different TYPES of friendor:
The Pro: This person gets paid real money by people they do not know to help them out. (think: the friend who owns a wedding planning business)
The Semi-Pro: It may not be their full time job, but they have official technical skills in the area you need. (think: the friend who majored in graphic design in college)
The Enthusiast: It’s a hobby, but they love it, and they have the right tools for the job (think: the friend who has all the right sound equipment to dj for you)
The Amateur: They’re just happy to help. With anything. (think: anyone you can sucker into making invitations/centerpieces/placecards/etc…oh hi Mom!)
And then the different ways  to handle COMPENSATION:
“Friends & Family” Rate: Full service, lower price. Make sure you sign a contract for what you’ll get–you don’t want to get less quality in return for a lower price.
Gifts In Kind/The Barter System: Maybe you can trade a skill or will give a very nice gift–or just babysitting. Trading is always a great option.
Business ain’t personal: Full price. But at least you know the person, and you’re getting the same service as any other paying client.
Free: For really good friends or total amateurs, people just want to help. Let them!
And of course there are different TIMES you may need or want some help:
Before the Day: Help with preparation, design, DIY projects or overall planning–these friends can still be full guests at the wedding
Day of: You may want help with set up, coordination or a day-of service. Think hard about these friends’ role both in your life and your wedding. If a friend is working your wedding, they may not be able to enjoy it as a guest–if its an acquaintance, that’s no big deal but it might be an issue for a close friend or a family member.
Afterwards: Maybe you could use help designing an album or selling extras.
There are good (and bad) things about each–hey, one’s free–but its important to think through your needs before you ask.
I have a good friend who has been a wedding planner for years (and launched her own business the day after we got engaged!) but I didn’t think I needed a wedding planner. For awhile I felt like I shouldn’t talk to her about the wedding at all since I wasn’t going to hire her (my church has a coordinator with multiple assistants and so does the venue–I think it would be overkill). This was silly–I just need to not take advantage. She sent me a couple of recommendations for the great photographer search, told us which bridesmaid lines to check out and definitely doesn’t mind taking questions. Asking her to be my DOC for free or handle my venue search would have been out of line, and I’m glad I waited for her to make the first move, but don’t forget your friends love you–they really do want to help make your day special.
Here’s the distinction–I’m grateful for Emilee’s help, but I didn’t need it. I appreciated the recommendations, but nothing was going to fall apart without them. Had I asked her to actually find me a photographer (which I would have paid her for), we would have needed to work some things out.
And along those lines–friendors can really help you save some money, which can be a lifesaver to have the wedding you want. We wanted a pretty traditional wedding and made some decisions (like a fancy church and a full dinner) that are pricy–but we can also afford the wedding that we want, and so it isn’t worth it to me to make my friends or family help out on the day of (the key reason I hired a florist even though Mama Clover really wanted to do the flowers herself). If we were in different financial circumstances though, I would definitely see what my friends could do to help with setup, especially when it could be done without missing anything (like setting up for the reception in the gap after the ceremony).
Mixing money and friendship makes people squirmy, but make sure both you & your friendors are clear on your expectations AND your timeline. Wondering how I know? Yeah…but at least I have some tips for you next!
Did you use any friendors for your wedding? Good experience or bad?

Lucky In Love: And They All Lived Happily Ever After

I left you hanging one last time with my “final” recap.

At the end of the night, we had a picture perfect sparkler send off.


Exactly like I hoped, although the guy with white hair right next to me is saying very loudly “This is so unsafe!” which was hilarious. (He still had his sparkler up though!)


We went to a cute little local hotel, The Carleton, so that we could attend breakfast with my out of town family in the morning.

And then we went on our honeymoon, and then we came back and closed on our house.


Which we had to do so much work on, but that’s only part of the reason I’ve been a slacker blogger (I know I was vague before, because who wants to hear my excuses). I was sick. My immune system completely left the building. Because sometimes that’s what happens when you get pregnant, especially if you get pregnant with twins (?!?!).


These two lovely girls arrived a bit earlier than expected, but were completely healthy. We are both so in love! Just one more with a bit more personality…


And with that, I have nothing more (wedding related at least) to say. It’s been so much fun blogging for Weddingbee and I can’t wait for our next adventure! Thanks for reading along! I won’t promise much, but I’m still trying to blog over at On My Mary Way*. Hope you can stop by and say hello!

All wedding photos by Caili Helsper Photography | Photos of girls by Jamilla Yipp Photography