{A Note} My "Why?"

Photo by Laura Gravelle

Photo by Laura Gravelle

Recently, as a happy result of numerous, potential client consultations and guest speaking opportunities, I've found myself talking about...well, myself and why I do what I do. It got me thinking that throughout a potential client's decision process, I rarely, if ever, talk about myself. And that, my friends, is exactly why a client should choose me over one of my colleagues. So I'm taking the opportunity to share with you, a bit more about me and my "why." This post is a bit longer than normal, but I tried to keep it light and entertaining!

Without getting into too much of the boring, took-two-years-off-from-college-went-on-a-soul-searching-journey-to-end-up-back-where-I-started, mindless rant, that's exactly what I did. When I finally surfaced, I decided to enroll at Johnson & Wales University (go Wildcats!), here in Denver, to pursue a degree in Hospitality; capitalizing on some past customer service experiences and feedback that I should do something involving people.

While going to school, I was working at a country club, close to where I was living. Fast forward a couple of years through some perseverance and promotions, I decided it was time to move on. BUT, not before gaining a TON of high-end event planning, fine-dining, food & beverage, catering, and business experience. Not to mention, amazing industry contacts and one of the greatest friends I've been lucky enough to have (you know who you are!).

After my time at the "club," as we often referred to it, I was hired to plan events for a well-to-do corporate company in Westminster. My daily duties revolved around planning exclusive in-house corporate events & meetings, luxury employee events such as holiday parties, exotic retreats, sales incentive rewards, and quarterly customer workshops. While this was a lucrative opportunity for more than 3 years and advanced my career even further, it was no longer a good fit. And that's where Pink Champagne Events was born! But first..

During my time as a corporate planner, I was fortunate enough to marry the man of my dreams. And here's where my "WHY?" comes in.

Embarrassingly, I admit that I did not hire a wedding planner/coordinator. Why? Because I was a corporate planner and could do it all myself. Right? Wrong!! And let me tell you, it is one of my biggest regrets to this very day! While there is far too much to list, I'll touch on the most important and where, I feel, a planner would have been the most helpful in providing guidance.

1. Our venue had amazing views, a perfect space for our guest count, was in our price range, and available on our chosen date. To top it off, they had an in-house planner that would assist with everything on the wedding day. What the sales rep failed to disclose was that the in-house planner wouldn't; a) dress our tables (put linens on them), b) organize and set up our escort cards, c) assist guests in finding our reception room (multi room, multi wedding venue), d) create/manage a wedding day timeline, e) feed our vendors while we were eating, f) work with the DJ to seamlessly execute events such as; pouring of champagne, toasts + speeches, 1st dance, father-daughter, mother-son, last call, g) confirm our limo arrived on time (it didn't and we were the LAST to leave!), h) assist in loading our gifts/cards into vehicles, or i) assist in packing up and loading personal decor.

2. Our "photographer" sold us with, what I now know is, a sample album, that wasn't even her work! After a devastatingly, disappointing performance on the wedding day, she then delivered our HORRIBLE pictures via USPS in a cardboard box. We literally have (2) 8x10's, (8) 5x7's, (10) 4x6's to remember our WEDDING DAY!! Side note: she's no longer in business.

3. We didn't hire a transportation provider for wedding party, family, or guests. This led to unnecessary stress for myself, my hubs, and our wedding party.  Have you tried to carpool with 20 of your friends at the last minute? Not fun, right? The end result was an upset wedding party, several guests who got lost showing up frazzled and annoyed, and a wedding ceremony that started 20 minutes late. When dinner was over, guests left early to get back to their hotel while it was still light enough to see, effectively killing any sort of mass celebration we intended to have.

4. We didn't plan ANY weekend activities for our family + guests from out of town. Therefore, we spent ZERO time, outside of the rehearsal dinner + brief reception, with anyone that traveled long distances to celebrate with us. What we didn't know was that it didn't have to be anything organized. We could have said, "hey, we'll be at super-fun-awesome-restaurant-and-pub from 6pm-10pm, if you want to stop by and say 'hi.'"

5. While my husband was an innocent bystander, I committed to far too many DIY projects. Looking back now, as a professional, I can't help but laugh at the things I thought I had time to do, or would actually be interested in taking on! These are also the items that I strongly advise against, and know that had I hired a planner, he/she would have told me I was nuts to think I could do. {Ahem}...stationery, flowers, ceremony music, transportation, hair + makeup, etc...Some of these items, I finally relinquished to others' plates. The others, regretfully, I pursued. Good thing I don't have pictures to remind me, ha!!

 With all of that being said, my hubby and I still look back on our wedding day with happiness, because it was the day we committed our lives to each other, in front of God, our family and closest friends. And while we, and those that stuck it out with us, eventually had a great time, our day is forever stained with regrets. 

So, 7 1/2 years and 8 wedding seasons later, that's why I do what I do. There is no better way to assist other planning parties than to share with them my expertise, past experience, industry knowledge, industry connections & partners, my professionalism, and my sense of humor. Hundreds of clients, over the past 8 years, decided that Pink Champagne Events was of benefit to them and I intend to, God-willing, be a benefit and partner to hundreds more.

Thanks for indulging me and allowing me to share why I'm passionate about this industry and the couples and vendors that I'm fortunate to work with! And, if you're considering a planner for your wedding or event, I hope this post gives you insight as to what makes Pink Champagne Events one-of-a-kind.

Until next time,

Cheers!

Always a Bridesmaid...

Photo by Drake Busch (Drake + Co)

Photo by Drake Busch (Drake + Co)

Now that you've asked your besties to be part of your big day, it's time to think about what they'll be wearing. No matter how many gal pals are standing by your side, there are a few, important things you'll want to consider, for their comfort, while helping you get hitched!

1. Skin Tones. We all have that one color that makes our eyes pop or gives us that sun-kissed tan in the middle of winter. By the same token, we know what colors to avoid. Because your friends know the colors that suit them the best, ask them! Not that you'll be able to grant all their color wishes, but your question will show that you're truly interested in helping them look their best on your big day.

2. Season does matter. If you're planning a summer wedding, you probably don't want the ladies in heavy fabric and long sleeves. Instead, opt for a light fabric, such as chiffon or tulle with beautifully detailed straps. For a winter soiree, don't choose knee-length and strapless. And think about adding a warm accessory, such as a shawl or faux-fur stole. The same considerations should exist for their shoes. Don't plan peep-toes in January when there could be sub-zero temperatures and snow. 

3. Continuing the shoe talk; Is your ceremony and reception planned in a downtown ballroom where stunning stilettos can be donned in comfort? Or are you planning a mountaintop celebration where a fabulous flat makes more sense?

4. 'Maids come in all shapes & sizes. We all know that every woman has her own curves and...ahem, "problem areas." If you're opting for a uniform look and not giving each 'maid the opportunity to choose her own dress style, make sure you think about ALL of your gal pals when shopping for gowns. For instance, one friend may be a large D cup, while your sister is barely an A. Choosing a strapless bustier will mean both will struggle with potential wardrobe malfunctions for obvious reasons. And let's be honest, when you're not comfortable in what you're wearing, you're not as happy and carefree as you could be. Don't let that happen to your bride tribe!

5. Your venue and ceremony start time should depict the level of formality? As you may or may not know, an evening ceremony and reception begs for more formality than a morning ceremony and luncheon reception (see last post here for more info). Keep that in mind when selecting bridesmaid and groomsmen attire. Also think about your venue...again! Barns (especially popular in Colorado and on Pinterest) are very different than a gallery in the Arts District, which is different still, from a revived industrial space in an up-and-coming neighborhood. You'll want your wedding parties' duds to play nice with their surroundings. If they don't, it can end up looking like you didn't plan wardrobes at all and you'll have the memories (pictures) forever!

All-in-all, think about the considerations you would appreciate from a friend, if you were standing in her wedding. Or maybe you already have experience as a bridesmaid and can appreciate the value in your friends' input!

Until next time,

Cheers!

 

Need Help with Your Wedding Style? Check This Out!

Figuring out what to wear to a wedding is a struggle most wedding guests have. You don’t want to over dress, but you don’t want to under dress either. As the bride, you can hint your expectations to guests through the invitations. The color scheme you choose, the venue, and even listing the desired attire on your invitation is great. From there, preferred dress can be based on geographical location, time of day, seasonal weather forecast, and your personality and lifestyle as a couple. As a guest, the attire communicated by the couple on the invitation can have you scratching your head about what to pull out of the closet. And if you're a seasoned wedding guest, it might be time to get shopping for something new. To aid in your final fashion decision, we have teamed up with The Black Tux to help decipher exactly what is meant by "semi-formal" or "black-tie optional."  See the guide below!

 

 

Once the proper attire has been decided, the final step is finding and purchasing the right outfit. Women, as we all know, have a knack for shopping. Most men, on the other hand, need a little hand holding. The Black Tux offers the perfect suit and tux for any occasion, with bonafide superior customer service. Whether you are in the market to buy or rent, they offer a wide variety of high quality products. Check out their site and let us know what you think!

Until next time,

Cheers!

9 Key Questions to Ask Potential Caterers

When it comes to your wedding day, or any special occasion for that matter, food & beverage is one of the most important elements. As we at Pink Champagne Events say, guests only remember above and beyond or horribly wrong. Asking questions and being proactive is the easiest way to avoid the latter. The questions below are certainly not the only ones you should ask, but they will assist in jump starting a productive and informative conversation with any potential caterer. Catering friends: feel free to add your input at the bottom!!

 

1. Does the catering company provide bar service? If so, your interview process just got a lot better!! By combining food and bar-tending service together, it is one less vendor to be concerned about. In addition to liability insurance, it is also important to ensure they maintain a current liquor license and TIPS certified bartenders. 


2. What is their average staff to guest ratio and does that change based on service style? When chatting with the sales representative, ask if staff costs will be broken down by line-item or grouped together. If staff is itemized, it makes it easier to determine appropriate tip amounts. (i.e. buffet, stations, plated, family style, cocktail reception, French etc...)

3. Do they have a pastry chef on staff, if so; are they able to provide wedding cakes? If they do have a pastry chef and are able to offer cake service, is it a requirement?  Or can you hire a specialty baker? Along those same line do they have a cake-cutting fee for outside products? Or is that service complimentary?

4. On peak weekends it isn't uncommon for catering crews to work more than one wedding per day. However, it is important to ask if your sales representative is committed to another event the same day as your wedding. It doesn't necessarily have a negative impact, if so. It is simply good information for you to have and be aware of.

5. What is the experience level of the servers that will be at your wedding? As with with any other industry, long-term employment is a sign of a great company. But - don't discount a company because of new staff. They may be in a position of growth, which is GREAT!

6. What is their average price per person and what is included with that price? Again, there are varying inclusions among all companies. For instance, one caterer's price per person includes silverware, china, glassware, linens, etc. Whereas, another caterer may not include those items in their per person price. When comparing costs, it is important that it's apple-to-apples. Along those same lines, ask if they provide complimentary tastings or if they charge for them and place that amount towards your final invoice if you book with them?

7.  Does the caterer offer a pre-set menu based on service style or can you create something custom? With hotels for example, you can choose a variety of dishes from pre-set menus. With an independent catering company, every offering can be customized to your specifications. Regardless of whether is is a pre-set or custom menu it is wise to confirm that they are able to design a similar cuisine for any guests with dietary restrictions. (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, allergies, etc...)

8. Have they worked at your venue before? If so, they should be familiar with the proper load-in + load-out policies, as well as what is required of them for clean up at the end of the night. If they haven't worked at your venue, are they prepared to attend a final walk-through and familiarize themselves with the space and policies?  Will you, as the client, incur an extra charge for anything they deem "unexpected?" (i.e. trash cans, trash removal, prep tables, portable ovens, pop-up tents, extra linen, etc...)

9. What is their deposit, refund, and cancellation policy? In our experience, EVERY vendor is different with regards to this. It's important to do your homework and be fully educated.

While we chose to highlight some of the more important questions you should ask a potential caterer, again, there are several more to think about.

Until next time,

Cheers!

 

Pink Champagne Events' Day-Of Specialist!

Wedding world & planning couples, please meet Madison Grosshuesch, our day-of specialist!

She is a super sweet, easy-going, detail-oriented, hard working event professional that also happens to be a native of our beautiful Colorado mountains. She is a rarity in the fact that she is both a cat AND dog lover. While she doesn't yet own a dog (her cat Rue isn't complaining), she dreams of having a golden retriever in the hopefully near future! She loves to escape back home to the mountains to ski, hike, bike, camp, and attempt to play golf. Her most recent escape, however, is graduating from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality, concentrating on Event Management. In addition, she recently completed the Bridal Society's Certified Wedding Planner course.

During her time at Metro State she worked for Occasions Catering, one of the premier caterers in the Denver area. The time spent with Occasions helped Madison gain valuable knowledge about food service and prep, the importance of keeping to an agreed upon timeline, overall impact of setup and event flow, and back-of-house happenings. And one of the many reasons why I'm oh-so-happy she agreed to come on board and service the needs of our day-of clients!

She's still got availability for 2017 and is now booking for 2018! To our fellow vendors and colleagues, hopefully you'll have the opportunity to cross paths and work with our newest rock star soon!

Until next time,

Cheers!

7 Things You Shouldn't Do the Week of Your Wedding!

Now that all of your planning is done and you're less than 10 days away from marrying the love of your life, you have no worries, right?! Well, that's how it should be, in theory. But what about the things you wouldn't normally think of...especially, regarding your beauty routine(s)?  Below are some helpful ideas, to help keep your bride-to-be appearance in tip-top shape!

Images by Laura Murray Photography

1. Tan lines. No matter what style of dress you have (strapless, sweetheart, sheer, etc...), odds are that your fave tank will leave a line that doesn't quite match up. Avoid sitting in the sun for extended periods of time and changing that perfect, sun-kissed glow you've worked so hard to get!

2. Change Your Hair Cut, Style, or Color. As women we all know that a drastic change to our hair is the magic potion for curing most any ail. But, the week of your wedding is not the time for that change. You want your fiance and guests to recognize you! Not to mention the vendors that you hired and haven't seen for a couple of months. Stick with the basics of your normal hair color, a trim, and/or similar style.

3. Alter Your Skincare Routine. This is a BIG one! Any changes to your skincare routine can disrupt the natural oil balance in your pores and could lead to redness, dry & flaky skin, oily appearance, and even the dreaded "z" word. Keep things as routine as possible and don't forget to moisturize!

4. Whiten Your Teeth. Don't get me wrong on this one. It's definitely okay to get your chompers to a state of pearly white, just don't try to do it the week of your wedding. As the daughter of a dentist, I know that extreme and "flash" whitening can lead to unbearable sensitivity! Instead, plan to gradually whiten over the course of a few months, and on the big day, you'll be able to enjoy that cold glass of Chardonnay, sensitivity-free.

5. Wax. Let's be honest, you're going to do this the week of the wedding. My advice? Try to do it earlier in the week, as opposed to later, so the swelling and irritability goes away before any planned activities.

6. Diet and Exercise. So, every day of your 14-month engagement, you've done cross-fit, run 7 miles, eaten only fruits and vegetables, and ended with a Pilates session to get your body ready for the big day. Congratulations! For the week of the wedding, don't throw all of that out the window, but allow yourself some flexibility. With friends & family in town, it's next to impossible to hold the same schedule and diet discipline. Trying to do so will result in unnecessary stress and could actually make you gain weight.

7. Heavy Lifting, Moving, Physical Labor. If you're like me, you don't mind doing physical labor. But, if you're like me, you end up with bruises, scrapes, scratches, and mysterious marks on your arms, hands, legs, feet, and face. To keep your body in pristine condition for those wedding day portraits (that you'll hang on your wall, forever) try to avoid anything that could result in one of those awesome, yellow/purple/green bruises in the middle of your forearm.

Until next time,

Cheers!

{Monday Memoirs} The DJ Not Even Your Wedding Planner Can Warn You About

Photo By June Cochran

Photo By June Cochran

We are starting a new series of blog posts, here at Pink Champagne Events, to help inspire couples and vendors alike to raise the bar in quality across the wedding industry. The new series titled Monday Memoirs will provide a realistic, behind the scenes glimpse of what can truly happen on THE big day. Some memoirs will be comical, some will be gross, some will even be heartbreaking and scary, but we promise that after every post, you'll walk away with a new found appreciation for the fires a planner can stifle at any given moment.

First on the long list of bad experiences, Pink Champagne Events Bride, “Kate”, hired DJ XYZ Company for her upscale hotel ballroom wedding.  After numerous “six” attempts to confirm the details of his service, the DJ finally got in touch with us five days before the wedding. Aside from his lackadaisical attitude toward the event, all of our questions and concerns were laid to rest for the time being.

To give you some background information, he was responsible for providing lapel micsfor the officiant and groom, microphones and amplification system for the live musicians, hand held microphones for the readers, prelude and recessional music. In addition, he was to play music for cocktail hour, set up a photo booth and props, reception up lighting , standard reception entertainment and late night karaoke. 

Fast forward to the wedding day, it’s one hour before the ceremony and there is still no DJ. When attempting to call and confirm his where abouts, he walked off the elevator with the first guests arriving. That’s bad enough but doesn’t make the story worthwhile. He proceeded to return to the elevator and his vehicle to retrieve the other half of his equipment. His second trip up the elevator he coincided with another wave of guests arriving.

At the time this “professional” was scheduled to be dressed and playing music he was just beginning to set up. To add to the fun, instead of having his assistant set up the ancillary locations while he worked on the ceremony, he decided to unload and store ALL of his equipment at the back of the aisle. That was also the location for guests to enter for the ceremony. Not only was all of his unattractive equipment on display in full view, but he himself was still wearing dirty jeans, a tee shirt with holes, and tennis shoes. After our initial shock at his unprofessionalism, we jumped into high gear to hide the lack of organization from guests and the bride and groom. We wish we could say the story ended there.

 During cocktail hour, the DJ was finally able to set the reception room with lights and his main sound system.  At that point we thought we had seen the worst of it. Wrong! While waiting to be announced, the bride and groom heard the DJ playing the song for the father daughter dance. From there, the mistakes ranged from not having proper equipment (skipping music), to not playing the right first dance song. He never used the bride and grooms names, he introduced speakers by their formal titles not personally, and played several songs more than once.

 To wrap up the first ever Monday’s memoire, listen to your gut. If a vendor isn’t striking confidence with you after the first, second or third meeting, you might want to reconsider having them be apart of your big day.  Don’t be a victim of the above situation.   

Until next time,

 Cheers!

8 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Selecting a venue for your big day is one of the first, of many, steps to planning your wedding. There are many different aspects that play a pivotal role when choosing the perfect host for your soiree. From budgeting to parking to vendor selection, you want to know what to look for. The following eight tips are the most important aspects to consider when assessing your options.

1.  Availability  

As you know, this is a critical factor when picking out your wedding venue!  Are they available on the day that you set? Venues book fast (up to two years in advance), so when you find THE ONE, you want to secure the spot as soon as possible. If your preferred venue isn't available on the date you set, is your date flexible? If it is, you can have the venue of your dreams just on a different day.  If it's not, time to keep shopping!

2. Price

Does your preferred venue fit within the budget you've set? On average, venues that do not provide food and beverage on site can cost up to thirty-five percent of your total budget. Those venue that do provide food and beverage on site, such as hotels, resorts, and country clubs, can run up to sixty percent of your budget or more. As a planner, I've seen too many couples misallocate much of their budget to a venue and leave themselves with no funds for the rest of the wedding. Those couples are what we call "venue poor". 

3. Capacity

When you find a venue, the next essential factor is the capacity. You want to ask the on site contact what the maximum occupancy is for your desired service style (ie cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, etc.) Having this information can guide you in creating your guest list. You don’t want guests to be squished or crowded.  A good rule of thumb is to never invite more people than the maximum capacity allows. 

4. Parking

Experiences in Colorado have taught that there are several venues that don't have ample on-site parking. Therefore, couples are forced to provide transportation for their guests to and from the venue.  If you procure a venue that does not provide an adequate parking solution for your guests, this will have a significant impact on your budget.  If there is parking available, you need to ensure there are a sufficient number of spots for everyone or inform your guests where overflow parking is located.  

5.  Preferred Vendors

It is important to know what vendors are recommended or even allowed at your chosen venue. Many places have a preferred list of professional vendors with whom they have worked and built relationships with. Some of those vendors are exclusive to the venue (you have to use that vendor).  A venue's preferred vendor list is generally well vetted but you need to make sure those listed fit within your budget. If you already found vendors, but they are not on the venue's preferred list, you should still be able to use them as long as they don't violate a relationship with an exclusive vendor. 

6. Plan B

Very important! It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a backup plan for your special day - especially in Colorado. When you are touring different venues, make sure their backup plan can accommodate ALL of your guests for unforeseen circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions. Whether it means setting up a tent for an outdoor ceremony or moving the ceremony inside to the reception room, it is vital to have worst-case scenario plans in place. You don’t want your festivities to be ruined due to poor planning. 

7.  Cancellation Policy

You may not think to ask your venue about their cancellation policy, but you can never be too sure! Knowing what the cancellation policy is for your venue and your vendors is essential. If the wedding has to be canceled due to environmental or personal circumstances, you want and need to be well informed of the venues policies. 

8. Special Provisions

Most Colorado venues have special provisions listed in their contracts regarding the dos and don'ts of your celebration. These can range from requiring a day of coordinator, to private event and vendor insurance, to flameless candles. Some venues even restrict flower petals down the aisle and the throwing of confetti or rice at the ceremony or grand exit. It's important to ask about any special provisions, for each specific venue, during your initial site visit.  

While the above tips are great to reference when selecting a venue you can never ask too many questions or be too thorough. Each wedding and couple is unique and it's important that your selected venue is the perfect fit for your celebration.   

Until next time,

Cheers!