I'm Retiring "Bridezilla"

My husband and I were at a party recently, and I found myself in a group of people I had never met before. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the conversation turned to work. Someone asked what I do, and I told her that I’m a wedding planner.

“Have you had any Bridezillas yet?!,” she asked with a curious, knowing grin. “I bet you have some crazy stories to tell.”

“I haven’t, actually. I guess I’m just lucky!” I shrug, excuse myself and move onto another conversation.

This kind of exchange is very common in my life --- nine times out of ten, it’s the first thing people ask me when the learn what I do for a living. I should probably have a better answer for them by now.

I got curious awhile ago about the term “Bridezilla.” I knew that the term existed well before the “reality” show of the same name, but I didn’t know where it came from. So I started researching, and discovered that the first recorded use of the term “Bridezilla” was in 1995 in The Boston Globe. In “Tacky Trips Down the Aisle,” Diane White interviewed author Martha Woodham about what not to do while planning a wedding, and how to avoid “etiquette blunders.” The most surprising thing about the article for me was not the things the Woodham noted as “etiquette blunders” (like having a cash bar, or printing gift information on the invitations), but that when she introduced the term “Bridezilla,” she indicated that the term was coined by wedding planners to describe their most difficult brides. Fast forward 25 years to 2019, and I find myself planning weddings at a time where when the general public hears “wedding planner,” they immediately think “Bridezillas.”

Personally, I find this troubling. When I got married eight years ago, I was terrified of being labeled a “Bridezilla,” so much so that I refused to share the burden of wedding planning with anyone else. Spoiler alert: that didn’t end well. Now as a wedding planner, I work with so many couples who fear this label being assigned to them if they ever dare to share a negative feeling or opinion about something to do with their wedding.

I think it’s time that we throw “Bridezilla” overboard --- the label, that is. Here is why:

It’s Dehumanizing

“Godzilla,” the fictional creature on whom the name “Bridezilla” is based, is a destructive sea monster powered by nuclear radiation. So, when we refer to a person as a “Bridezilla,” we dehumanize her. We strip her of her relatable, human qualities and condense her down into an animalistic shell, unworthy of our empathy and the subject of our judgment. I think it’s safe to say that simplified and inhuman views of people are 1) never helpful and 2) never the whole story. We can do better in 2019.

It’s Sexist & Outdated

The term “Bridezilla” was coined to be about women, and not so surprisingly, it had no male counterpart.

Beyond the fact that “Bridezilla” is a derogatory term targeted at women, it is also sexist in that it represents how our culture generally views weddings as the responsibility primarily of the bride. Wedding vendors often joke about how the groom “just shows up” or that he’s “just in charge of the music.” In short, the message is that the bride plans the wedding, and the groom is just along for the ride. I find this attitude rather antiquated and not at all representative of the couples I have the pleasure of working with every day. Not all women care deeply about planning a wedding, and many men do care deeply about planning a wedding --- and that’s awesome! Every couple is different, and therefore every wedding should be different. Labels like “Bridezilla” discourage couples from finding their own planning style as a pair.

Furthermore, the term “Bridezilla” was coined in 1995, when same-sex marriage was not yet legal. Given the fact that the world of marriage and weddings is finally more diverse and inclusive, it’s time to get rid of terminology that is outdated and non-inclusive. Once again, we can do better in 2019.

It’s Unhelpful

Perhaps my greatest issue with the word “Bridezilla” is that it is enormously unhelpful. Kelsey McKinney wrote a great piece about this in The New York Times, stating that today’s brides are expected to throw a perfectly coordinated, aesthetically and crowd-pleasing wedding “that appear[s] to have occurred miraculously, with zero effort or emotional output on the part of the bride.” In short, brides are expected to impress everyone, but not let anyone see the effort they put in. And how does a bride hide the effort involved in planning a wedding? By doing it all by herself.

I have spent so many hours granting my couples permission to care, permission to express their stress and anxiety, and permission to have an opinion. The looming threat of being labeled a “Bridezilla” has scared so many brides (and grooms) into silence about the things that matter to them and the things that are causing them anxiety. It’s time to lift that threat, and expose this label for what it is: a useless and harmful social construct.

So What Now?

Today, I am making a commitment to be a part of the end of the “Bridezilla” label. The next time someone asks me “if I’ve worked with any Bridezillas,” I’ll explain why I don’t believe in the term anymore and why I’m hoping others will follow suit. If I hear another wedding vendor refer to a client as a “Bridezilla,” I’ll challenge her to reconsider her terminology. If a client refers to herself as “a Bridezilla,” or says “not to be a Bridezilla, but…,” I will stop her and tell her it is OK to have an honest opinion.

If wedding planners created this mess, we can be a part of cleaning it up. Will you join me in dismantling the power of this label? I hope you will.

Brand Refresh: Canvas Weddings is Back

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Late last year, I decided to “officially” reopen Canvas Weddings. To celebrate this comeback, I wanted to do something to mark the decision in time and also represent the growth, thought and love behind my decision to return full-time to wedding planning. A brand “refresh” was just the thing.

I have long been a fan of Esther Clark —- I’ve bought her gorgeous floral print calendars and stalked her Instagram feed, dreaming of the day one of my clients would hire her to make their wedding stationery. So when it came time to place Canvas Weddings in the hands of a designer, I knew who I wanted to work with.

I wanted a design that was warm, inviting and mature —- something that reflected both the beauty and the wildness of my favorite couples, as well as the steadiness and calm I bring to my work.

Whatever expectations I had going into my time working with Esther, she exceeded them at every turn. I can honestly say that Esther not only gave Canvas Weddings a fresh, updated and seriously stylish new look, but she also gave me renewed clarity and focus as a business owner through her insightful questions and spot-on instincts.

So, there you have it: Canvas Weddings’ new look. I can’t think of a better way to say “hello wedding world, I’ve missed you. It feels so, so good to be back.”

Thank you, Esther, for your partnership, patience and artistry. I am eternally grateful.

Editorial Shoot: Grecian Goddess Wedding Inspiration

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I have always been fascinated by Greek mythology, and particularly with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and pleasure. So many mythological deities have seemingly one-dimensional personality traits or skills --- but not Aphrodite. She was said to be beautiful and infinitely desirable, as she was born of a god and the sea, but she was also a warrior, a schemer and a savior. This duality was ultimately the inspiration behind this shoot --- Aphrodite is beautiful, soft and graceful, but she is also powerful and strong. We wanted this shoot to celebrate the strength and beauty of women --- which is why we chose to place three women at the center of this imagined wedding universe.

For this shoot we took or cues from Renaissance art of Greek mythology when determining our color palette --- lush greens, delicate blush, champagnes, ivories and hints of gold. We wanted the colors to evoke the decadence of Greek mythology as well as the obvious reverence for nature in their worship practices. This we achieved by combined lush and bountiful greenery and blooms with light gold leafing in the bouquets, table garland and ceremony arrangements.

All other details, from the lace robe to the dynamic hairstyles, dramatic ceremony draping and the lush draped chairs were inspired by the duality of Aphrodite’s softness and her strength.

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Planning + Design: Canvas Weddings | Photography: Willow + Stone Photography | Floral Design: Alluring Blooms | Bridal Gowns + Veils: Brandi’s Bridal Galleria | Cake: Bloom Bake Shop | Paper Products: Sugar River Stationers | Rentals: A La Crate Vintage Rentals, Event Essentials | Hair: Sevva Salon | Cake: Bloom Bake Shop | Models: The Rock Agency

Real Canvas Wedding: Lindsay + Zach

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Even if you had never met Lindsay and Zach, if you experienced their wedding day, you would have a great idea of who they are as a couple: fun, inviting and endlessly stylish. Their wedding featured delicious food, gorgeous flowers, high-energy dancing, and sweet country-chic touches all over. I loved this day, and I love this couple.

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Planning + Design: Canvas Weddings | Photography: Tim Tab Studios | Rentals: Event Essentials | Signage + Rentals: A La Crate Vintage Rentals | Florals: Flora by Jamae

So You Want To Be A Wedding Planner?

Me driving my sweet bride Emily around on her wedding day. Photo by    Ramblefree Photo Co   .

Me driving my sweet bride Emily around on her wedding day. Photo by Ramblefree Photo Co.

Lately I've been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from students and aspiring wedding planners looking to gain knowledge and experience in the wedding planning field. I've met many of these people over coffee, and some have even shadowed me or worked as a wedding day assistant at a wedding or two. What all of these people have in common is excitement about the industry, which I completely understand. It's such a fun world to work in between the cake tastings, flower consultations, hours on Pinterest and ultimately attending weekly parties all summer.

Enthusiasm is a good place to start (that's what got me started at the beginning of my career), but over time and through trial, error and countless weddings, I've learned that being a wedding planner takes a lot more than a love for weddings. While I am not the perfect embodiment of these qualities (we're all human), here are six traits that I believe any person seriously interested in the field of wedding planning should have and/or be working on:

1. Be Easy to Reach.

Almost more than any other thing you can do for your clients, few things will instill more confidence and trust in you as their planner than being in regular, timely communication with them. Brides need to know that a) you care about their wedding b) you're on top of things and c) you'll be there when/if they need you. So, if you are not willing and able to log many, many hours on email and the phone, this may not be in the industry for you.

2. Be Consistent.

Be consistent. Another important ingredient for success in wedding planning is consistency --- showing up on time to meetings, canceling engagements only in emergency scenarios, and doing what you say you'll do. I'll admit, when I was just getting out of college, I was a bit flaky --- I would sometimes cancel plans with friends or forget to put things on my calendar. At that time, I was not ready to be a wedding planner --- I didn't have the follow-through or the ability to take 100% ownership of my work. Fortunately, the years have taught me valuable lessons in the importance of consistency and follow-through that prepared me for my work in wedding planning. If you are thinking about becoming a wedding planner, take an honest look at your lifestyle --- do you show up on time? Do you cancel plans? Do you meet deadlines? If not, this may not be the industry for you.

3. Be Organized.

Organization is hard work, and it's taken me years to streamline how I organize emails, contracts and contact information. It's often tedious work, but 100% necessary to deliver the quality work that weddings demand. My husband can tell you that our apartment is not always neat and tidy, but my email inbox always is. So, before you venture into wedding planning, take a look at your email inbox and determine if you are willing to master the organization that will ultimately be required of you.  

Me with Brittany + Vince after their ceremony. Photo by    Evan Hunt   .

Me with Brittany + Vince after their ceremony. Photo by Evan Hunt.

4. Be Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty.

While a great deal of wedding planning is dealing with beautiful things like wedding gowns, flowers and table linens, at times the job is not so glamorous. A lot of sweat goes into a wedding day --- I am often lifting and moving furniture, hanging decorations, and much more. By the end of a wedding day, I'm usually a sweaty mess --- and not from dancing. Also, some parts of this job can be downright dirty --- I once had to slap some garbage bags over my arms and unclog a port-a-potty trailer because of a hose malfunction. And sometimes, the wedding planner needs to be the person to tell an unruly wedding guest to get their act together on behalf of the bride and groom. Glamorous? Certainly not. But someone's gotta do the dirty work on the wedding day, and if you're not willing to take on some dirty work, wedding planning may not be for you. 

5. Be Loyal.

Both clients and other vendors in the industry need to know that the wedding planner has their back at all times. A planner should be a person who builds up the work and ideas of others instead of tearing them down. Nothing pains me more than hearing wedding professionals say negative things about a client or another wedding vendor. Trust me --- wedding world is small, and talk gets around and hurts people. If you want to be a wedding planner, do yourself, your clients and vendor buddies a favor and adopt a no-bashing policy. 

Me working on Erin’s Dress Bustle on her wedding day. Photo by    Britta Marie Photography   .

Me working on Erin’s Dress Bustle on her wedding day. Photo by Britta Marie Photography.

6. Be In Love With It.

Wedding planning is without a doubt the hardest work I have ever done, but it has also been the most rewarding work I have ever done. The blood, sweat and tears involved in working in this industry pale in comparison to the joy it brings you if you love it --- but only if you love it. Test the waters, shadow some planners and some wedding professionals and look for traces of joy you get from the work. If you find  that you don't love it --- that's fine. But if you do --- go for it. Fewer things are more attractive to an engaged couple than a wedding vendor who is in love with her work.

I love this work and hope to encourage many more like-minded people to get their hands dirty in the beautiful world of wedding planning. Interested in feeling out the industry? Email me. I'm always looking to add names to my day-of assistant list as wedding season draws near. 

Cheers,
Corinne

Real Canvas Wedding: Brittany + Vince

Brittany and Vince are the essence of cool, class and fun. The colors were clean, the details were classic and the joy was palpable. Set against the stunning backdrop of downtown Madison, this day was one for the record books.  Photos by Evan Hunt.

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Real Canvas Event: A Birthday Party in an Abandoned Warehouse

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Few things make me happier than being able to work with past clients again, so when one of my past grooms called me and asked me to help him put together his steam-punk, vintage-inspired 50th birthday party in an abandoned warehouse, I jumped at the chance. In addition to getting the space cleaned up and ready for the public, we had electrical outlets installed, created spaces for the caterer, hired a local actress to run the freight elevator, built a bar out of pallets and rented trucks-full of vintage goodies to create this vintage, steam-punk bash.

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Real Canvas Wedding: Rena + Paul

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When a stylish couple from San Francisco throws a wedding at a country barn in Wisconsin, you know it’s going to be good. This city-meets-country wedding did not disappoint, and featured sprawling views of the countryside, bright pops of color, good eats, a canned champagne toast and lots of fun.

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10 Questions to Ask Potential Wedding Venues

Photo by    Ray + Kelly

Photo by Ray + Kelly

The start of a new year always gets me reflecting on beginnings. Last week I shared the three things every couple should do before beginning to plan their wedding, and today, I’m thinking about what is often the beginning of the wedding planning process: finding the perfect venue.

In my opinion, choosing your venue is one of the most important - and sometimes difficult - parts of the wedding planning process. Since the date and the venue go hand-in-hand, not much else can be planned until the venue is chosen, a reality sometimes leaves couples feeling rushed and slightly panicked. My best advice as you start to look for venues: take your time. See several venues, ask lots of questions and give yourself time to figure out which place is the best for your big day.

So, if you are starting the venue search, congratulations! This is such an exciting time - enjoy it. To help guide you through this crucial first step in the planning process, I’m sharing 10 questions to ask a potential wedding venue. Since each venue is different, some of these may not apply to all venues, but they’re good things to keep in mind regardless!

1. What items are included in the price? Tables, Chairs, Linens, Candles, Signage, Sound System?

Especially if you’re looking at renting a raw space for your wedding, it’s important to know what items you’ll need to rent. If you’re looking at a more all-inclusive venue, ask to see the included items so you can account for any items you might want to rent replacements for.

2. Do you have an onsite coordinator? What is his/her role?

Some venues will have an event manager who will be your point of contact throughout the planning process. Be sure to ask what his or her involvement will be up to and on the day of the event and the role of the event staff onsite. Will they set up the tables, chairs and linens? Will they be there in case there is a power outage or problem with the bathroom?

A note here --- the site’s event manager is not a substitute for a wedding planner. The event manager will likely have extremely valuable insight about vendors who have worked in the space before, floor plans and room layouts, timelines and more. But when it comes to your floral contract, photography and hair and make-up schedule and rehearsal dinner plans, you’ll likely need your planner to handle those things.

3. If there is onsite catering, are we able to make modifications to the menu without increasing the cost? Are we able to bring in our own cake, beverages, etc.?

One of the great benefits to full-service venues is the convenience of having the catering in-house. But if you have specific kinds of foods you want to serve, or are dreaming of a family-style meal or have a special bakery in mind for your desserts, find out what flexibility there is to customize your menu. 

4. When can we access the site for set up? When must everything be removed from the premises?

If you’re planning to hire vendors for an elaborate installation, it’ll be important that your vendors have enough time prior to the event for load in and load out. If there is a strict timetable, that will be important to know. If you’re planning on doing any decorating or set up yourself, a wider timetable will be helpful.

5. Do you have any exclusive vendors that must be used for certain services? Any vendors you recommend in particular?

Some venues will have required vendors for certain services, like catering or lighting. Make sure you know what vendors you can use in the space so you can plan and budget accordingly. Also, ask for their favorite vendors --- the venue will have seen hundreds of weddings and will have some great recommendations of vendors who have done good work in their space. Pick their brain to get their favorites! 

6. What are your insurance requirements? For us, for our vendors?

Some venues will require you to get insurance to cover the event. If so, you’ll need to factor that into your budget and make sure to get that done. Also, if your vendors are required to have insurance, that will be important to know when you are interviewing vendors. 

7. Are there any limitations on what decorations we can use? I.E. candles, hanging fixtures, confetti, sparklers?

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you have your heart set on doing a sparkler exit at the end of the night, make sure the venue allows it! Be sure to ask about candles (if you can have any live flames, if they need to be contained in a vessel, etc.), and suspending decor from the ceilings if you plan to have those.

8. Are there spaces onsite for the couple and wedding party to get ready and store items?

If there isn’t enough space for the couple and the wedding party to get ready onsite, you’ll need to budget for a hotel room or another space for that to happen. You’ll also need a space (preferably a lockable one) for storing purses, valuables, etc. for you and your VIPs.

9. Are there any noise or timing restrictions we should be aware of?

Some venues will have curfews (i.e. all events end at 11pm), or sound limitations that will need to be adhered to. If you’re dreaming of a 10-piece band but the space has a strict decibel limit, you might run into some issues.

10. Are there any weekends or dates we should avoid?

Be sure to ask the venue about local festivals, graduation weekends or holidays that might impact on certain dates and weekends. For example, I live in the Hudson Valley, and there are a ton of colleges in this area. On graduation weekends, the local hotels will often refuse to set up wedding room blocks since they have such high demand for rooms. 

Good luck as your start searching for your perfect venue! Need a little help along the way? Get in touch --- I’d love to help you.

Cheers,
Corinne

You're Engaged....Now What?!

Photo by    Ray + Kelly

Photo by Ray + Kelly

Happy 2019! I am so excited to get to work this year on making beautiful weddings and celebrations. If you are recently engaged, or soon to be engaged, or just getting around to planning your wedding, CONGRATS! Marriage, in my opinion, is the literal best, and if you let it be, this engagement season can be incredibly special and fun.

So, you’re engaged. Now what? If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of how to get started, you are not alone! Here are three steps you should take to get started on the right foot:

1. ENJOY!

First, before you do anything, take a deep breath, and just enjoy. Tell your family and friends, celebrate over dinners and drinks, post those ring selfies on Instagram, and snuggle with your intended and giggle and dream and soak in the joy. Give yourselves time to celebrate before you begin to plan in earnest.

Photo by    Audre Rae Photography   , Bouquet by    Daffodil Parker

2. Get on the same page.

This one is important! Before you begin planning this wedding, take time to make sure that you and your fiance are one the same page. If you were anything like me, you might already have some visions and dreams and expectations about how you’d like the wedding to turn out, so take the time to catch your fiance up on those things. Above all, you want to make sure that you plan your wedding as a team. Be sure to talk about these things, and any others that occur to you:

  • Your priorities for the wedding. Perhaps you dream of a live band for dancing, and your fiance is dead set on serving your guests food ‘till they drop at cocktail hour. Spend time outlining your top 5 wedding priorities separately, and then discuss them together. Then, come up with your collective top 5 priorities to guide you as you plan.

  • Finances. Will you be paying for the wedding yourselves, or will funds be coming from multiple sources? How will you decide to spend that money? When you create your budget, keep your top 5 priorities in mind! For some couples, a wedding is the first large set of financial decisions that they make together. Make it a priority to address these decisions with clarity and open communication.

  • Planning strategy. Make sure you talk about how you will plan this wedding --- how much time you’re willing to dedicate each week to planning, if one or both of you will be in charge of certain aspects of the planning, and who else’s opinion (if anyone’s) will factor into major decision making. Setting clear guidelines and expectations early on will prevent friction down the line.

Photo by    Tim Tab Studios

3. Think Big [Picture].

Now that you’re on the same page, it’s time to get planning! I always tell my couples to focus on the big picture --- the who, when, where and why --- and the rest will fall into place. Allow me to explain:

  • Who - The guest list! Before you choose a venue, you need to know how many people you’re inviting.

  • When - When do you want to get married? Is that time frame flexible? Also, speak to your VIPS (family, bridesmaids and groomsmen, special friends) to see if there are any timing or specific date commitments you need to be aware of.

  • Where - Where do you want to get married? Someplace in the city or in the country? Maybe a destination wedding? Do you want to spend part of the day outdoors, or all indoors? Do you need to choose a venue that is close to an airport or public transportation?

  • Why - This one is important! Why are you having a wedding? What is stopping you from running down to the courthouse and tying the knot quick and easy? If it’s because you’ve always wanted to throw an all-out dance party with your favorite people, then plan that wedding. If it’s because you want to honor traditions passed down by your families, then make sure to plan that wedding. Use your “why” (and there may be a few) in conjunction with your top 5 priorities and I’m pretty sure you’ll start to get a clear picture of the day.


Planning a wedding can seem overwhelming, but I firmly believe that if you start off on the right foot --- happy, on the same page and in agreement on your “why” --- wedding planning will be tremendously fun. Do you need some extra support as you plan your wedding? Get in touch with me --- I'd love to support you through this special time.

Cheers,
Corinne