Be the Carefree Bride

Cheers - Lori and Scott

artsy familyFrom a review on weddingwire.com:

Suzanne was the officiant for our wedding, and we loved how she helped us create our own ceremony for our blended family! I really appreciated how she went over all of the details with us, so we knew what to expect. 

Our vows were meaningful, but she also helped us incorporate a bit of humor, and a painting ceremony (instead of a sand ceremony). We laughed, we cried, it was perfect... So many of our guests were really touched by the ceremony, and thought that she was a friend of ours because she was so sweet and personable. I couldn't recommend her more!!

Thank you Lori!  To see how Carefree Weddings rated, click here.

Be Carefree,

Suzanne

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Carefree Couple - Rachel and Daniel

CakeI've known Rachel for several years now - although we aren't close friends, we do share a close mutual friend and were both bridesmaids at her wedding.  I was so excited for her when she told me she was getting married - and that the wedding would take place in Austin!  This was a destination wedding for Rachel as she lives in Arlington (near Dallas).

Rachel is possibly my most DIY, Pinterest inspired bride to date.  And as a result, every aspect of her wedding had her personal touch.

Rachel's groom Daniel chose the venue - Vista West Ranch - which provided the perfect backdrop for his wife's country chic wedding.   The bride wore a strapless white gown with pick up skirt and her bridesmaids wore dresses of their own  choosing in watermelon pink.  Flowers were put together the night before by the bride and a couple of her bridesmaids (for the record, I protested a lot on this but the flowers were lovely).  The groom and his party all wore classic black tuxedos.  The ceremony arbor had been decorated with baby's breath for a wedding the day before and perfectly complemented the theme.

The cocktail hour was held in the biergarten with assorted candles, oil lamps, and cans.  Homemade kissing balls added bright pops of color throughout.

For months Rachel collected tin cans in various sizes - some she decorated with burlap and ribbon, others were left in their natural state (minus the wrapper of course).  These cans were used as vases and candle holders on the reception tables.  When used as vases, just a few sprigs of baby's breath is all that was needed.  She also had mason jars which she painted a light creamy brown and adorned with brown and ivory ribbon - again, some were used as vases, some for candles.  By varying the sizes of the cans and mixing it up with the mason jars, each table was different yet unified by the common elements.  And by limiting her flowers to just baby's breath, she kept her floral budget manageable.  Leftover eucalyptus and baby's breath were used to decorate the existing burlap curtains wherever they were tied back.  Other touches included a hand painted canvas the guests were asked to sign and homemade strawberry jelly for favors.

Dinner was provided by The Salt Lick (another top choice by the Groom). The Wedding Shoppe photographers were on hand throughout to capture every moment and Complete Music provided the evening's music.  And for the record, I've never seen a groom that likes to dance that much!  How refreshing!  We also had a photo booth provided by Red Star Photo Booths and it was busy all evening long (yes, photo booths are still fun!).

Rachel told me one of her favorite things from the wedding was the cake table - with a delicious cake provided once again by Classic Cakes by Lori.  The evening ended with the couple walking off to the honeymoon cottage...family and most of the wedding party stayed on property that night as well.

Rachel and Daniel - thank you for choosing me to be a part of your wedding day.  I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.

Be Carefree,

Suzanne

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Cheers - Jalee Dudley

Maggie-and-JaleeFrom a review on weddingchannel.com (partner of the knot):

I was recently Maid of Honor in my best friends wedding, where she hired Suzanne as her coordinator. With all the stress a bride goes through planning their big day, Suzanne made sure to ease her mind in every way and the wedding could not have gone smoother. There was never any questions where we, the wedding party should be during the wedding. She was extremely professional and did such an amazing job. I would definitely recommend her to anyone in the area!

Thank you Jalee! To see how Carefree Weddings was rated, read the entire review here.

Be Carefree,

Suzanne

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Trust your instincts

Don't have any vendor regretsIf you have a bad feeling about someone you have hired, take the loss and go with someone else.  Your wedding day is too important to have it clouded with doubt.

But I spent all that money!  Yes.  And you may not be able to get any back.  And that would suck a lot.  But isn’t the alternative worse?

How can you Be Carefree on your wedding day if you are worried that the DJ isn’t going to show up because you haven’t heard from him in weeks?  Or if the bartender doesn’t show up and there is no one available to serve drinks?  Maybe you’ve been reading bad reviews about someone you have hired that has confirmed fears you had about them.

I’ve never advised a couple to cancel a vendor until recently.  But my Bride was worried that this particular person had not been responsive or asking her any questions.  How can you have no questions about someone else’s wedding day?  Of course I found an affordable and available alternative for them first, just in case.  It’s a decision only they can make.  In the meantime I did my best to be prepared in case this person performed below expectations.

Having said all that, it is important to note that some wedding professionals – okay all wedding professionals – are creative individuals.  And sometimes the most creative people are not as quick to respond.  That poses a challenge in this business.  Not only that, but some people are really busy – maybe with just their wedding business or maybe because they work a day job in addition to owning their own business – and maybe they have a family too.  Only you can decide if you are comfortable waiting days or weeks for a return phone call or email.  I always tell my couples that I try to respond to all inquiries within 4 hours – but if they wait 24 and haven’t heard from me they should try again because I probably didn’t get it.

Maybe the best lesson here is when you hire your wedding professional set your expectations at the beginning.  Let him or her know how quickly you expect a response, or ask them what their usual response times are.

And if you are having second thoughts because of bad reviews, I encourage you to do your due diligence.  Do all of the negative reviews sound the same?  Are they posted by users with similar names?  Do the complaints sound legitimate?  Or could this be the case of a bridezilla or jealous competition wreaking havoc?  Alternatively look for good or glowing reviews that sound a little too generic.  Specifics – good or bad – add legitimacy to a review.

Give your pro a chance to respond to the bad reviews.  Let him or her know you found some negative reviews and would like to know their side of the story.  Then you can be the judge as to whether or not you should second guess your original hiring decision.  Of course if they get angry and defensive when questioned, that could be a red flag too.

Losing out on any deposits paid can hurt – especially if your budget was tight to begin with.  If you have made the painful decision to change vendors at the last minute ask your Day of Coordinator to source alternative pros for you.  Not only will you be sure to get a trusted professional but he or she may be able to negotiate a better price for you due to extenuating circumstances.  Not something I suggest you do on your own – too many stories of dishonest people out there.

In order to have a truly Carefree wedding day you need to have a Day of Wedding Coordinator you trust – and wedding professionals you love.  Don’t settle for less.

You deserve the best.

Be Carefree,

Suzanne

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Have a Weather Plan

These twoYou’ve always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, and if you live in Austin you can do that probably 9 months of the year (at least).  But as the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait 5 minutes.

Weather is unpredictable.  So you’ve planned your wedding during the summer months?  My first summer in Austin it rained almost every day.  They actually closed area lakes because the levels were too high.  A few years ago on a gorgeous August day, right as the family began to process down the aisle, it started hailing.  Yes.  HAIL.  On an otherwise sunny and gorgeous day.

Conversely I got married in mid-December out on a deck at the Oasis – it was a temperate 65 degrees.  Last year it was probably 40 degrees on the same day.

You never know.

So if you are planning an outdoor wedding, make sure you have a firm plan B in place.  Does your venue have a large enough indoor space to accommodate your guest list?  If not, what will you do?

Do not assume your venue has a plan B in place for you.  Most likely that decision and plan making is entirely up to you.  And if your venue cannot accommodate everyone inside, there is really only one option…it is time to rent a tent.

Except it isn’t even as simple as that.  You can’t wait until the last minute to rent a tent because then you and every other couple in town are all vying for the same limited number of tents.  And sadly, you have to pay for the tent whether you use it or not.  And they are not cheap – not the good ones.

Find out from the venue if they have tent restrictions.  They might only want tents secured by barrels or maybe they have a select list of preferred vendors.

Make sure you know exactly what you are renting.  I once had a couple that rented what was essentially a plastic tarp on poles.  Not only was it not the most attractive setting for their ceremony but it did not hold up to the torrential downpour we experienced.  Don’t just rent from someone you find online.  Ask if you can see examples of their tents in person.  Will the tent have sides?  Will they be clear or have windows?

And you might have to add a lighting package as well.  Make sure you ask if the tent rental comes with lights, are they purchased separately, or do they have to be contracted with another provider?  What kind of lighting will it be?

Be sure to ask about delivery and set up.  You might be able to save some money by having your tent set up on a Friday as opposed to Saturday.  Does your venue have an event Friday night?  Perhaps that couple would be willing to split the cost of the tent with you.  But don’t forget to ask the venue if it is okay to have it set up early!

But rain (and hail) aren’t the only reasons you may need a weather plan.  What if it is unseasonably cold?  It might be a gorgeous day so you don’t need a tent, but there is a chill in the air.  What then?

Check into portable heaters – the tall kind you see on restaurant patios.  Provide inexpensive blankets or shawls for your guests during the ceremony – and what a lovely keepsake to remember your wedding by!  Does your venue have a firepit you can use?  Take advantage of that and provide the necessary ingredients to make s’mores.  Now that’s turning a negative into a positive!

And the number one type of weather couples tend to forget about?  Heat.  I find my slowest months tend to be June thru September due to average temperatures creeping into the triple digits.  If you must have an outdoor ceremony, please plan for an indoor reception.  You will be the most miserable of all in that gorgeous wedding gown/suit/tuxedo!  Provide ice cold water or popsicles for your guests during the ceremony and let them inside the reception space as soon as the ceremony is over (rather than mingling around outside for cocktail hour).  Print your program on fans, provide colorful parasols, and choose shade over full sun.  Think about the comfort level of your guests – you don’t want anyone to pass out from heatstroke!

Whatever your weather plan is, have one.  It’s the only way to Be Carefree.

Be Carefree,

Suzanne

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