Sunday, December 16, 2007

"I went to 7 weddings in the last 3 months"

I have heard this from my clients more times than I can count on my 2 hands. The reason it is an important tidbit of info is because it will without a doubt have a great impact on the direction we go in planning & designing their weddings. It's great because you get a true impression of what its really like. Kind of like trying a dress on. What its looks like on the hanger is never what it looks like on, and it never looks the same on 2 different people.
Okay, so the lowdown. First, nobody wants to have a wedding that resembles that of a friend of theirs. That's like plagiarism! Although flattering...its just not where you want to go. Second, its a great way to note things that you do and don't like about what happens at weddings.
So let's say you go to a wedding and you love everything about it. It's easy to take the foundation of what you saw and loved and make it your own. Make a list of everything that you loved about the wedding. Also make a list of the things you didn't like (if anything at all). Take the lists to your wedding planner. Now you have a foundation to build off of. Your planner will help you find a way to make the things you mentioned unique to your wedding all while retaining the elements that made you excited about them in the 1st place. Really, its the same as looking at the real weddings featured in magazines and online- only experiencing them in real life is so much better!

Friday, December 14, 2007

How the south does weddings

Most people don't consider Florida as one of the "southern" states. I can agree with that because it really is like night and day between Savannah and Naples. But all the same, there is something to be said for an elegant southern wedding. I came across the latest issue of Unveiled yesterday and realized while flipping through that if this is what they consider to be a southern wedding, then I want Florida to be included.
Seriously, just look at this cover! Gorgeous. I could see this being at any metropolitan area of the US. Then I get to page 66. WHOA! Turns out Florida is included! And not only is Florida included, but this real wedding of Courtney & Ben takes place at LaPlaya Beach resort where my clients Jenn & John got married just last week and we have another gorgeous wedding in the works for next April.
So head out to the newstands and grab this issue. Lots of good stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You said the funniest thing

I got the funniest emails today. Must be something in the air. These made me laugh the hardest:

Smiley bride works not 1/2 mile from the biggest outlet mall in the world (slight exaggeration). She called me today and said she couldn't find any shoes to buy.

Boogie down bride emailed me asking for "my blessing" on a musician for her welcome reception. Yeah, I did get ordained online, but I don't think that means I can bless anything.

Typically calm bride emailed me a bride on crack email. It was 47.3 questions in one paragraph.

And crazy question bride strikes again, "When I walk down the aisle, will someone direct me where to go?"
She got me good. 1 minute later she emailed me, "GOTCHA!" I about pee'd my pants I was laughing so hard.

I love being a wedding planner. And I just adore my clients! You girls are great :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

I missed this!

I really missed blogging...can't wait to get back into it this week. Back to daily blogs starting tomorrow everyone!

The last wedding of 2007

The wedding year ended with a "BANG!" literally. At Jenn and Johns wedding this past weekend, the father of the bride had his yacht parked in the Gulf just behind the ceremony and when the bride & groom were announced "Mr & Mrs..." there were a few huge explosives marking the occassion.
Here are a few photos from the wedding, more to come on their blog tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I love calligraphy

However you will never catch me trying to learn it.
I absolutely love opening my mailbox and finding a true calligraphed envelope. Always a huge smile you will find on my face. It conveys to me that what is inside the envelope is special. So this year I decided that I would put some of my Starbucks Chai tea fund aside and get calligraphed 3.5x5 cards done for the holidays. They arrived yesterday and they are even more lovely than I had imagined. Rather than get envelopes calligraphed, I opted for flat cards that could just be placed underneath ribbon tied boxes. That way each recipient would be able to keep their beautiful names and place them in a small frame to use on their desks.
To me, calligraphy is an art form, and for certain arts- actually most, you need to have some fundamental talent. Handwriting is not my forte. Therefore I will leave it in the hands of Sarah Hanna.
Sarah (Toast & Tables), you're getting a sneak peek at yours.

A new pink drink

I was at LaPlaya Beach & Golf resort a couple times this week meeting with clients and catering managers. Yeah so? I know, I go there quite a bit, but this week I was introduced to something new for my lovely brides! Nuvo, L'Esprit de Paris...for her. Yep- it's just for the ladies. In unison everyone, "ooooh that looks pretty". It is pretty. And it tastes pretty good too. So pretty good that it got added to the drink menus at a couple events I have coming up. Here's what I found so unusual about it (besides the cool bottle and that its pink)- it's a sparkling VODKA. I tried it in a champagne flute and over ice. I liked it in the flute. It is kind of hard to find because its realtively new, so don't be surprised by, "we don't carry that" when you ask your caterer. Ask them to look for it. It's worth it.

Fun in the photobooth

Photobooths are all the craze at weddings these days. And I can honestly see why now. They are ridiculously fun. There are several companies that you can rent them from, but they offer different things, so make sure to do your homework. Some come with operators, some don't. Some upload all the photos to the web to view and purchase additional prints. And some record all the images onto a dvd for the bride & groom to keep.
The one we are using at several of the weddings we're planning at the moment-, allows for a custom message at the bottom of the print, various background colors, different sized booths, choice of print(color/sepia/black&white), and even 2 printers (keep one/give one). As you can see, I had fun doing quality control.

It was 70 degrees. I was freezing. I am a true Floridian. Stop laughing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wedding homework

As many of my clients will tell you, there is always a question to answer. As much as I would love to be able to say that the wedding planner does and knows all- it isn't possible. Why not you ask? I'll tell you why- we don't know all your family members, best friends, who's the tallest and shortest, and who is allergic to nuts, what song is your favorite, that your groom refuses to walk down the aisle, and that your mother will puke at the sight of raw fish (aka sushi). We also don't know every last one of your favorite songs, that you want both your parents to walk you down the aisle. And until you tell us these things, we can't completely plan your wedding. So at some point along your planning timeline your planner will without a doubt send you a form, beg you not to strangle her, and kindly request that you return it completed in a time that is reasonable. It may seem like a bit of redundance because your DJ, caterer, photographer, and Aunt Peggy all asked you these same questions, but consider this- your planner is the one who all these people are going to turn to on wedding day for an answer. An answer that she will find quickly and easily on her nice little form that you so kindly filled out and returned to her.

Wowza welcome bag

I've seen many a welcome bags, but this one takes personalized to an entirely new level (click the photos to get a better look):

To start, Susan & Chip had a "Welcome to Naples" postcard attached to each persons bag. Inside is a beach towel, beer kooziebeach themed picture frame, and a shot glass...

as well as a tin of mints, a golf bag wine bottle cooler, golf tee set, adirondack salt & pepper shaker, and an Adirondack chair frame (also used as escort cards at the wedding dinner).
Yep, pretty cool.

The Details

I get giddy when it comes to details. A wedding can be fabulous without them, but when details are implemented, prepare for a knock your socks off event. Guests do notice the details. From a nice basket of hospitality items in the ladies room, to a ribbon tied around a all counts. Susan & Chip had more personalized details than I thought possible. Have a look at these fun doodads:

Instead of a guest book, Susan & Chip had all their guests sign a small adirondack chair.

No blah table #'s at this wedding! These cool cards had illustrations of the bride and groom!

That's right, Susan & Chip bobble heads. The photographer made sure to capture the bobble heads every where throughout the evening. After seeing a few of the photos, I think the bobbleheads should have their own album.

Yum pretzels. Fresh out of the oven. Perfect midnight snack. Well, the midnight buffet actually came out at 9:30, but the pretzels, sliders, and quesadillas were just the perfect addition to the afterparty.

Two weddings, Thanksgiving, and the Flu

Hi gang. I am so sorry I've been MIA. Post title says it all. I'm blogging from my bed where I've been for what seems like years. The flu is AWFUL!!!
Anyhoo...coming up, Susan & Chips fantastic wedding weekend. They hosted a true destination wedding weekend complete with one of the best welcome bags ever assembled, a welcome to Naples hospitality hour, a golf scramble, a welcome dinner & party, spa day, wedding ceremony/reception/after party, and a farewell brunch. Details to follow:)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Keri married Dustin

It's finally wedding season and we started off with the cutest little Sunday wedding ever.
Guests: 30
Temperature: 80
Smiles: More than I could count.

Congrats Keri & Dustin!
Click here to see more of Keri & Dustins Brunch wedding.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sit outside the circle

One of the 1st things you'll notice at most reception venues you go to is the standard 60 to 72 inch round table. It's been considered "wedding norm" for what seems like ages. They are classic, and are very easy to dress. And they are wonderful for filling a room that is too big. I don't have anything against the round tables, but I think you should explore your options because these days, the possibilities are endless.

I take that back about the big round table; I do have some issues. My biggest issue is that you don't get to talk to more than 1 person at a time. You have the person on your left, and your right. And if you're talking to the person on your left, then you have your back to the person on your right. Imagine being that poor person on your right if the person on their left is talking to the person on their left? That's awkwardness. Ok, dramatic- I know. But its true and you know it. Also, can you think of the last time you sat at one of these big round tables and talked to the people on the other side of the table? Nope, probably not, because its about near impossible without feeling like you're having to yell across the table. So, let's see, total conversation possibility: 0 to 2.

So now that I have you interested in other types of seating, let me give you some fabo ideas:
Long banquet tables. Great things about this style of seating! You can easily talk to the 3 people in front of you because they're right in front of you, not five to 6 feet away. You can also talk to the person on your left or right.
Total conversation possibility: 3 to 5 Even better, long tables mean more guests at one table. Less tables = less centerpieces. Less centerpieces = budget savings. That's right, stuff that moola back in your pocket for a pina colada by the pool on your honeymoon.
Casual outdoor wedding, rehearsal dinner, or brunch? How about picnic tables (with linens & market umbrellas? Don't believe me that this could possibly look nice? Check this photo out. This was an amazing rehearsal dinner.

Another great one, check out page 152 (and the back cover)in Simply Stunning Weddings by Karen Bussen.

Other neat seating ideas:
Square tables with 8 seats each (modern, contemporary)
Cabaret tables with 4-6 seats each (very 1920's. Also looks amazing around a pool)

Friday, November 02, 2007

A call today

"Hello, is this Kelly McWilliams?

"Yes, this is Kelly."

"Are you really a wedding planner or do you just fake it for your blog?"

Totally confused, I hesitated and then responded,
"Yes. Are you really calling Weddings by Socialites and wondering?"

And then I started laughing. I couldn't help it. I know, not very professional, but it was just so funny the way she asked. Thankfully, she started laughing too.

So for those who may also be confused; yes, I am a real wedding planner. I plan about 15 real weddings a year, start to finish. I could do more, but it wouldn't be as fun. I enjoy the time I get to put in with my clients and their celebrations.

I know you're reading, and yes, I'll be calling you the crazy question bride until the day we get you get married. Looking forward to lots more laughs in the meantime

Photo: That's me with Erika who got married on New Years Eve ' her wedding...that I planned for real. HA!

Signature Drink. What's the big deal?

I'll tell you what the deal is. Let me first start by explaining what it is for those new to wedding planning. A signature drink is a special drink that you designate as your personal pick for your wedding...your signature.
Often, my clients will pick their favorite drink and put a spin on it by changing the color and name. For instance, Meg's favorite drink is a Mojito. Her wedding colors are shades of blue. So for her Signature drink, we added a bit of Hypnotiq to a standard mojito, added a blue sugar swizzle stick and then re-named the drink "Married Meg's Mojito" and it sat next to "Tim's Tied the Knot".
The great thing logistically about a signature drink is that they alleviate that rush to the bar after the ceremony. Because let's face it, that 5-10 minute wait for the 1st drink at the bar seems like an hour and your college roomate wouldn't dare get out of that line to catch the guy with the tray of spring rolls that just look so yummy. Oh my gosh that's the worst feeling!

So if you have a signature drink station, or have the drink passed right at the entrance of the cocktail reception, you'll immediately cut down the line at the bar. And your old roomate can catch the servers and get all the crab cakes, coconut shrimp, and spring rolls she wants.

Fun tip- have 2 or 3 signature drinks and have a signature drink bar with the drinks poured and ready to be grabbed. Choose drinks that are different colors and are served in different sized glasses. Make sure that you place a little tabletop menu on the display so everyone knows just how special the drinks are.

Photo Credit: Cadence Photography

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sarah Hanna. Yes, you need to know her.

Because she's the coolest calligrapher I have ever spoken to. No really, I wanted to go have lunch with her after talking to her for 10 minutes. And after looking at some of her work- wow. I don't think it will be long before she's uber famous, so get your name on her books now. Oh, and she does do all that fun calligraphy art stuff like custom parasols, maps, etc. You can check out Sarah's work at

What do you use calligraphers for? Let me count the ways: Invitations, Escort Cards, Placecards, Menus, Buffet & Station Labels, Pretty Signage, Table Numbers...
I could go on and on, but I have to order some invitations to get calligraphed!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where's the oddest place you've been for a wedding?

Me, I attended a wedding at Michael Jacksons Neverland Ranch. My roomate at the time was going to sing during the wedding ceremony (I think she's a member of En Vogue now)and I came along for the weekend. We didn't know that the reception was at Michael Jacksons house, but when Boys to Men showed up as the groomsmen, and they passed out the confidentiality forms, we knew something was up. The cocktail hour was in the guest house which had been transformed into this huge arcade. After we spent an hour drinking champagne and playing in the photobooth and pinball, we took the train over to the "backyard". The backyard had a ferris wheel, the crazy spinning ride that I swear should be illegal, bumper cars, carousel, bumper boats, a movie theatre complete with a fully staffed candy & popcorn counter, a zoo, oh, and yeah, there was a tent in the middle of all of it for the reception. We never stepped foot into that tent- too busy screaming our lungs out on that crazy spinning ride. I think its called the Zipper? I think the movie we watched was a Keanu Reeves flick, but I can't remember for sure. I do however remember being embarrassed beyond all belief when I spilled my popcorn all over one of the guys from Boys to Men. Ugh.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Perfect & Steady Sticks

In my last post I had mentioned Steady Sticks and Perfect. I got a buncha emails today asking what in the world Steady Sticks were and what about Jon McLaughlins song Perfect was so "proposal perfect".

Steady Sticks are phenomenal gadgets that I received for my birthday a couple years back. They hold a bottle of champagne or wine in the ground as well as glasses! So you can have a nice little picnic or wedding proposal on the beach and never spill a drip of your Veuve Cliquot. You can get your own Steady Sticks at Red Envelope.

And then there's Perfect. I think it should be the anthem for proposals. Read the lyrics (over there on the right sidebar)and then tell me you don't want someone to sing it to you.

And I found someone to walk me through this life
the brightest sun has opened up my eyes
Tonight I need exactly who she is
We're going to be perfect

and in my life,
if I can have one thing I don't deserve
then I have never wanted anybody else but you

I'm pretty certain you can buy Indiana (Jon Mclaughlin) at and Target.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Engagement Story

An extremely private surprise wedding proposal at Lighthouse beach on Sanibel Island. A groom wanted to bring his girlfriend out to the beach for a sunset walk and happen upon a beautiful table in the middle of undisturbed nature at its finest. Hidden under the table, a bottle of champagne and 2 flutes in their steady sticks and a cd playing Jon McLaughlin’s Perfect. And on the table he would place the let’s just say, “Hard to miss” engagement ring. The groom would tell his girlfriend to walk up to the table to smell the flowers and he’d take a photo. While she smelled the roses, she finds the ring. Behind her he took a knee. She turns around and, well, there’ll be a wedding to plan…

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Destination Weddings & Honeymoons visits South Seas Resort

I was so excited when I walked by the wedding magazine rack today and saw the cover of destination weddings & honeymoons! "Wow, that looks familiar...hmmmm." Yep, its none other than South Seas Resort; one of my favorite places to plan weddings.

This past May, Donna & Jim tied the knot at Sunset Cove (which is in the distance of the cover photo) and then had their cocktails on Kings Crown lawn, followed by dinner and dancing inside Kings Crown. All the bouquets in the article (and Donna & Jims wedding)were by my favorite floral designers on the islands, Floral Artistry.
Currently, I'm in the midst of planning 4 other weddings on South Seas before summer hits, so yeah, you could say its a very popular place. Mostly because it is beyond gorgeous and the food is to die for. Or maybe its because of the dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees. Or maybe its the golf and tennis. Or maybe its the beach and sunset. Or maybe the pool that kicks every other pools arse with the fancy little cabanas and pina coladas. Alright, enough reasons already. The place just rocks.

All 4 of the upcoming weddings are as different as the locations my clients are coming from, and I am truly looking forward to each. I'd love to plan more- call me!

A Renewal

In the last couple weeks I had 2 very different intimate events to plan. Last Sunday I did a vow renewal for Becky & Marc. It was just the sweetest thing ever. Becky & Marc privately renewed their vows at sunset on Bowditch beach during a weekend getaway to Ft Myers Beach. Becky walked down the natural sand aisle carrying a bouquet made from flowers she had saved from their wedding 6 years ago.

After exchanging their vows, they took part in a Sand Ceremony. A Sand Ceremony is very much like the lighting if the unity candle (which does not work out on the beach!). The bride and groom each pour individual cylinders of colored sand into a larger cylinder to create a vase of unity. Many brides and grooms choose to include their parents in the ceremony by having their moms pour 2 additional cylinders into the unity vase at the start of the wedding ceremony.
Happy Anniversary and many many more!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vanessa & Greg's Directors Cut

Last April I had the pleasure of coordinating one of the grandest destination wedding weekends ever. It was grand on many levels; it was the combination of top notch wedding professionals, incredible locations, and families and friends that were beyond amazing.
Vanessa & Greg had a church ceremony in Naples followed by an unbelievable reception at the Ritz Carlton Naples Beach.
This morning, the gang at AMC Video sent me the directors cut. Yep, I started my day sobbing like a baby. Have a look at this video. Warning though- turn up the volume and take out a tissue.
Rob- thank you so much for sharing this cut!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I forgot to mention

I was tagged by Sarah at Toast and Tables and Stephani at Masterpiece Weddings! So who shall I tag? How about:

Isis at Posh Events
Nicole at RSVP Shindig
Julie at Studio Julie
Gigi at Gigi Hamlet Photography
JP at JP Langlands Photography

You are all officially tagged- here is your mission:
Write a post about three ways you try to minimize your impact on the environment. Then tag (be sure to notify) 5 other bloggers.

Like Mother Like Daughter

I often find that most of my brides have very similar tastes as their moms. Which is great- it makes everything easier when it comes to designing their wedding. What moms and their daughter brides don't usually agree on- etiquette, tradition, and guest count.
Well, same goes for me and my daughter Maddy. No, she isn't getting married anytime soon, but she did just have her 9th birthday party.

Etiquette. Madeline thought it would be okay to show her entire class the invitation to her party. Even though only one classmate was invited. Boy did we have a long talk about that.
Here is the invitation:

Tradition. Madeline wanted to serve steak from Outback Steakhouse(her favorite) at the tea party. I quickly explained that traditionally, its sandwiches at a tea party. I won this battle. Here's the kid friendly buffet we created:

Guest Count. Madeline wanted to invite everyone under the sun of course. I said we had to limit it to the number of kids we could fit at one 6' banquet table and 2 36" round tables end to end. Here's the table:

For fun, the kids decorated their paper mache purses with all kinds of colorful items. For the few boys in attendance, we had foam visors to decorate. Here's the decorating station:

It was a great party. Did you notice Maddy picked both our favorite colors for her party? Like mother, like daughter. Happy Birthday Maddy!

I've been tagged to prove I'm Green (with a touch of pink)

Yesterday I was tagged twice for the Green Tag game and October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So I decided to pull double color duty on this post. Not to mention I kinda like the green & pink combo (obviously as my logo suggests).

First, the Green:
1. We have all energy efficient lightbulbs in this house (home office).
2. I use my market totes and green bags when I go shopping rather than taking plastic bags.
3. I don't leave my office to run a quick errand. I wait until I have at least 3 errands to run so that I don't drive unnecessarily.
4. Rather than print all the pictures out that my clients send me and I send them, we post to a blog and send the vendors (floral & lighting designers, invitation designers, etc.) a link to preview our ideas.
5. Power out! Everything gets turned off when not in use. Cell phone and laptop chargers get unplugged; computers, printers and fax machines are turned off. No spinning fans in rooms without people, and open windows rather than lightbulbs during daylight hours.

Now the pink:
How about a little eye candy? Here are a few photos from Keri's table mock-up. Keri is getting married next month at a beachfront park in Naples and then having a brunch wedding. Her colors are Perfect Pink, Sage Green, and Chocolate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For anyone who thinks videography is hum drum, watch this

1st let me explain the photo. Julie is beyond comical. I think I was dropping off her invitations or something, and it just so happened to be halloween. She required that I wear the glasses to look appropriate next to her in her Rambo costume.

Video. It's usually the 1st thing couples cross off their wedding budget, and the 1st thing I ask them to reconsider. Why? Because if you don't have video you can't see yourself walk down the aisle. You can't hear your Best Man give his hilarious toast again. You'll never see what your first dance looked like with that great band you hired playing in the background. As I see it, videography is as important as Photography.
So then why do some many couples nix the idea? Because they saw a really bad video from 1995. One camera, big blaring light, little or no editing, and probably on vhs. Videography has changed so much in the last 10 years that you really have to see it to believe it. The one downside to the new technology is the length of time that it takes to get your video. The editing process literally takes months. So the newest trend is getting a package with Directors Cuts and Preview Trailers. These 3 to 5 minute edited segments are ready to roll just weeks after your big day and are uploaded to the web for you and your guests to enjoy.
Here's a great one I got from AMC video. What's great about it is that it's completely and totally custom to this particular wedding. It's not the typical song choice. Julie & Phil got married last December in Bonita Springs. Julie was the happiest bride I have ever seen. The woman never stopped smiling! Their reception was all about the party- non stop dancing. The dancefloor was packed the entire night. When I say the entire night, I mean that 1/4th the guests never even ate dinner because they were too busy dancing. And the song Rob made this cut to was one of the biggest hits that whole night. The crowd literally went nuts- everyone was singing along, "Meet me at the altar in your white dress..." So as you can imagine, this cut is , while not for everyone, is completely and utterly Phil & Julie.
When you have some time, check out some of AMC's other samples on their website. They have dozens of samples showcasing some of the different elements and styles there are to choose from these days.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Wedding Salon

SW Florida brides...or brides who will be here November 12th, this blog is for you. If you've been dying to attend the infamous Wedding Salon now is your chance! Send me an email and I can add you to my reservation list. Or you can always just go to the Wedding Salon website and pay $75 for your ticket. "hmmmm, what to do , what to do? Email Kelly, or pay $75?" If there are enough brides, we'll do it up and take a limo over to Miami for the event!

If you're reading this and wondering what the Wedding Salon is- it's THE luxury bridal show. First, it's at the Biltmore:

Sylvia Weinstock Cakes...

Get your hair & Make up done...

Eat some unbelievable food...

And of course see the best in Wedding Dresses, Flowers, and Tabletop design

And to top all this off, awesome gift bags!

101 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

From the editors of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons