Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Kate Middleton’s bouquet has been the subject of much conversation in the floral industry. It was composed entirely of seasonal British garden flowers & greenery, locally grown, much cut from the royal gardens. Ms. Middleton gave a nod to tradition in using Victorian meanings of flowers in her bouquet as well, but the floral designer chosen was one who is known for having ecological sensibilities, in keeping with the down to earth Kate & William.  The best photo I’ve seen of the bouquet is on the Guardian’s website.

The flowers in the bouquet and their Victorian meanings were:
Lily of the Valley: Trustworthy
Hyacinths; Loveliness, I will pray for you
Sweet William: Gallantry, Finesse and Perfection (perfect for her Prince Charming, don’t you agree?)
Myrtle: Love, Mirth and Joy ("The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947. 
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany.  In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today. 
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride")

Many of the conversations about the bouquet focus on the size (quite small by royal standards) and the price-tag of it over here. While the flowers were cut from the royal gardens or are in-season in England, the Lily of the Valley is an extremely expensive flower in Texas and much of the US. It may grow in gardens in the north for a few weeks in the spring (and so rampant that a friend of mine in Wisconsin said they used to mow it down,) it has a very short natural season and is very fragile, making shipping it expensive. When out of season, it must be entirely grown in refrigeration; custom ordered weeks in advance, making it something that is quite expensive and not at all earth-friendly. The size bespoke the intimate nature of the wedding, even with over 1,000 guests, it was still an intimate affair for Kate and William. Seeing them see each other, it appeared there weren't aware of all the eyes on them, only the eyes they had for each other, and it was very charming.

Her floral designer said that the shape was a “shield” to bring in the shape of her new coat of arms.
From this floral designer’s viewpoint, it was more teardrop shaped, than that of her coat of arms, but I’ll “buy” that it was generally “shield” shaped.:)

For budget-conscious brides, this is NOT the bouquet for you. I priced it at $1,000 for this week in Texas, and this is while Lily of the Valley is in season. Hyacinths and Sweet William also have a rather short growing season, and unlike Lily of the Valley, they are not grown year round on special order.

I was one of the floral designers live-posting on The Society of American Florists’ Facebook page during the wedding. After it, a question was posed- how can this bouquet be made more budget conscious. My solution is Million Stars Baby’s Breath and tuberose, hyacinth, or stephanotis (depending on the season.) I will be creating this “budget conscious” bouquet for SAF, and it will be featured in their magazine later this year.

If there is a “takeaway” from this wedding, I hope that it is “be YOU!” Kate was not a slave to tradition in this wedding. While her gown traditionally covered her arms and shoulders, from photos at the reception, it is clear this was actually a strapless gown, with an overlay. At the reception, she unbuttoned it, and it gave the gown a look of being totally modern. The décor was spring-like and very natural. Possibly more greenery than flowers were used, and many different types of greenery at that. Her gown, while traditionally covering her arms and shoulders, was basically a strapless gown with the Chantilly lace overlay, giving her tradition, but updated. It also reminded us of Princess Grace’s lovely gown.

Grace Kelley, also a “commoner” who married into royalty. Arriving by car and leaving by royal coach reminded us of that, but when she exited the car, it was clear this young woman is very “comfortable in her own skin” and she wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. She and William have dated long enough that they’re past the first blush of first love and have developed a deep friendship, which is a great basis for a good marriage. She was regal in every way, quietly and elegantly so. As the pastor said, “every wedding is a royal wedding,” and, I might add, every bride should get to feel like a princess. The key is, be you! No one is as good a “you” as YOU and you should celebrate that. Have the wedding you want, not what someone else thinks you should have. You can nod to tradition, but you don’t have to be swallowed by it.

Best wishes to all brides!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wedding Budgets

There are so many shows on TV these days, showing weddings that cost upwards of $100,000. That is great and glorious, but in real life, not a lot of folks have that much to spend on weddings. No one should go into debt for a wedding- for your house, yes, for a wedding, no. Adjusting to married life is major as it is, you don't want to add paying off a big wedding debt to that.

When budgeting for your wedding, figure what you can realistically spend FIRST, THEN work on the guest list and then on the site. There are some beautiful sites that will only hold a few people, but that are very expensive. That is fine if you want only a few people and don't have a limited budget, but if you've got a more limited budget, then you need to find a less expensive venue.

There is also nothing wrong with having your wedding and reception at your place of worship. That will cut down on the costs of your reception greatly, since many churches don't allow alcohol on the premises. Don't do what "everyone" does- do what is right for you. Be an individual! If you have your wedding at 2, and then a reception in the church hall immediately following, you avoid major food needs. Folks will have had time to eat lunch before going to your wedding, and a church reception generally is only 2 hours, so that means you're done before supper time, so you just really need to provide cake, punch, coffee & tea, and maybe some light finger food. This is the best time for a wedding if you're trying to keep your food costs down. Just be sure your reception is finished by 5 PM, well before supper time for folks.

Another alternative is to have an afternoon wedding and then a much later reception. For example, you might have a 2 or 3 PM wedding, and then have your reception begin at 8. That is clearly after supper time, and you won't be expected to provide heavy food. This would be an option for a couple on a limited budget but for whom a party is important. You can have a DJ playing music for dancing, have wedding cake, champagne and a nonalcoholic punches, have a wine toast. No heavy food would be expected if you had what is clearly a "supper break" between the wedding and the reception.

As far as flowers, give your floral designer the colors, and a list of flowers you like and those you really don't like, and then let them use their magic for you. By allowing your floral designer the flexibility to get the best seasonal flowers, you will usually get more for your money. For centerpieces, do some with candles, a few large pieces, and then smaller ones, too. I always suggest 3 to 4 different styles, depending on the number of tables. This is not only more interesting, but maximizes your budget.

Talk to your designer about being "gentle on the earth"- using locally grown flowers whenever possible, not using foam or anything else that doesn't biodegrade.

If you're on a tight budget, rather than hiring a full service wedding consultant, hire one for the "day of" only- that will help you have a less-stressed wedding day but won't blow your budget on a wedding consultant that you don't really need. (Don't get me wrong, a good wedding consultant is great, but if you're on a tight budget, it is not necessarily the best use of your money IF you've got the time to do the research needed to find your vendors for your wedding.)

Make your 2010 wedding wonderful in every way- including budget!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reasons to have a professional do your wedding

Recently, a wedding professional friend of mine shared photos from a wedding he’d done. The flowers were simply beautiful, the setting lovely, but then there was the bride’s cake….OMG! A friend of hers wanted to do it as a gift, which is a lovely thing to do, but it appears this friend had no clue how to make a wedding cake. It was not only greatly lopsided, but the top layer was sliding off (dowels, anyone?) and the icing was melting off the sides. Friends made the cakes at our wedding, too, but one had been a professional baker and the other had made some other cakes I’d seen. She did our groom’s cake, which was simply a two layer German Chocolate cake, it was delicious and beautiful. She knew about dowels.:)

If a friend offers to help pin on corsages and boutonnieres, be sure they know what they’re doing. Recently at one of my weddings, the photographer was taking the boutonnieres over to the Capitol for the men of the wedding, which was fine. I had them all pinned to netting, with the groom’s pinned to the top (different wrapping on stem, and it was the top.) I pointed this out to the photographer. He then told me that the groom’s parents were going to be there as well, which I hadn’t known, so I took the groom’s mother’s corsage and dad’s boutonniere and added them to the box. I pointed out again that the parents were NOT pinned down, and that the mother’s had the bow. When the groom arrived at the church, he was wearing his mother’s corsage, which means in all those photos at the Capitol he is wearing a corsage instead of his boutonniere. As it turns out, the photographer had an assistant who pinned the boutonnieres and made this huge error. It took me forever to track down the groom’s boutonniere- I was about to go take the bride’s bouquet and put out a rose from it and make a new one for him when we finally found it! Lesson for me- NEVER let anything out of my hands unless it is clearly labeled!) Note for you- be sure your florist does stay to pin on corsages and boutonnieres, and if anyone is going to need their somewhere else, BE SURE you let your floral designer know before they arrive at your ceremony venue about it.:0)

Bottom line, have a great wedding, have the best you can afford and hire professionals who will take care of you and give you a wedding at which you’ll not be embarrassed. Imagine had I just dropped off the flowers and left- the groom would have been married in his mother’s corsage, which matched the bride’s mother’s corsage exactly- it wouldn’t have taken long for folks to figure it out.:) Because I was there, we were able to remedy it easily enough. Always ask your florist if they stay til everyone is pinned and/or you go down the aisle. If they don’t at least do the first, find another florist, or be darn sure you’ve got a professional wedding coordinator who knows how to pin on corsages and boutonnieres (and do basic repairs.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

This is my first “Wise Wedding Words” blog, so I was thinking, “What do I really want to say to folks?” Weddings represent the most money that most people ever spend on a party, so you want to spend it wisely, and get the most “bang for your buck”, especially in these days.
So here are a few things to know about the wedding industry:
1. Wedding magazines tend to feature businesses because they advertise with them, not because they’re necessarily the best in their fields.

2. Be sure you “click” with your photographer personality wise (no pun intended.) You’ll be with this person your entire wedding and reception and if they have something that annoys you a little when you first meet them, imagine how much that will annoy you when you’re nervous. Austin is blessed with many wonderful photographers, doing all sorts of work. Don’t work with a prima donna- there are nice people doing that work, too. You’re doing the photographer a favor by employing him or her, the photographer isn’t doing you a favor by taking your money and shooting your wedding.:) Be SURE your wedding photographer has shot some weddings professionally, and ask to see the photos and to talk to a couple of clients. (You want to know how the photographer does at the wedding.) Ask, too, how the photographer will dress at the wedding. If everyone is formally dressed, you don’t want your photog in pants and a white shirt, or wearing shoes that click across the floor with every step he or she makes. Ask if the photog has shot in that or a similar venue before.

3. If you’re hiring an independent wedding coordinator, be sure of what you need before you sign a contract. At many churches, you’re required to use their wedding director for the rehearsal and wedding, so you may not need to pay for a person to be there for those. Be sure, too, that your coordinator knows what he or she is doing. Ask how many weddings they’ve done PROFESSIONALLY as a coordinator. Ask their background- you’re hiring a very important professional, you need one who is not only on the same page as you, but one who can handle crises. Ask about problems that have occurred in the past and how they were handled. If they tell you they’ve never had a crises, run, don’t walk, away. They either haven’t go enough experience, or they’re not telling the truth. Something unexpected happens at just about all weddings, and you need to know how they can handle it.

4. Don’t let anyone push you around, but do be considerate of others. If you’ve got a pushy bridesmaid, sister, mother, etc. sit them down and remind them this is you and your fiancé’s wedding, not theirs, but do it in a nice way.

5. There is no one you “HAVE to have in your wedding. If you’re not close to siblings, they don’t have to be your attendants. If your father abandoned you years ago, he also abandoned the right to walk you down the aisle. He doesn’t have an automatic right to this. That said, if one of your parents is remarried, even if you can’t stand the person, honor your parent and do that that step parent a flower- it can be smaller, but don’t put your parent in the position of being pulled in two directions unless you just have to. (Say, the new wife is the reason for the divorce, well, things are different then!)

6. Get the nicest gown you can afford, but don’t go into debt for it. There are some terrific seamstresses here who can make a wedding gown for you, too, often for much less than the big name designers. Don’t let anyone talk you into a gown you don’t like or in which you don’t feel comfortable.

7. Think about sustainability. You can get invitations that are made from repurposed paper now. Ask about your flowers being recycled- either to hospitals (there are services for that) or even into a compost pile. Don’t let them just go into a dumpster!

8. Invitations: Get nice ones, they should project the “feel” of your wedding. If you’re having a very formal wedding, then go for formal invitations, if it is a fun out at the ranch one, the less formal, brighter colors are great. www.Alegras.com
has beautiful invitations and they’re very helpful.

9. Have the nicest wedding you can afford, but don’t go into debt for it. Conversely, don’t invite more than you can afford. There are some things you really do need professionals for- photography is one of those. People who take great photos who are friends are NOT wedding photographers. They are not used to working under the tight time constraints that happen at weddings. Your friends usually will get to talking and drinking, and then important photos get missed. Good photographers range for ~$800 and on up to as much as you like. Some are bare bones- shoot and hand you a disk and some shoot, touch up shots and create incredible albums for you that become a family heirloom.

10. Videography- this is definitely the icing on the cake. We love to watch our video on our anniversary, and we made copies of our video to send to relatives who couldn’t attend. Our little girl LOVES watching our video. Even if your budget it too tight to afford a professional videographer, at least set up a video to shoot the entire wedding and important parts of the reception. You won’t have a beautiful video, but you’ll at least have a video recording of an important family occasion.

11. Flowers- Martha Stewart “taught” everyone that any fool could do flowers, and it is true that just about anyone can take a bunch of flowers and drop them in a vase and make them look OK. Wedding flowers, however, are specialized. You want the flowers open to the perfect stage, bouquets and personal flowers that are perfect. And, of course, you want your manicure to look great at your wedding. If you do the flowers, then prepare for your hands to be a mess for your wedding- flowers are hard on hands! When I do a wedding, I bring most flowers in on Monday, and then recut and reprocess every day until they are at the perfect point of openness, and then they go into my floral cooler, to hold them there at that point. Cut back on the number of flowers and let a professional do them. You’ll be happier and WAY less stressed. If you want to do something, make the bows for pew markers. Ask about problems they’ve had and how they’ve handled them- again, if they say they’ve never had a problem, don’t believe them, and don’t hire them! If you give your floral designer a color palate, along with the flowers you love and the ones you hate, and then leave it to your designer, you’ll have prettier bouquets than if you dictate every single kind of flower that needs to be in the bouquets.

12. Party Favors are nice, and if you’ve got the budget, by all means, go for them. They range from lovely things to eat (chocolate covered pecans, anyone?) to silver picture frames to fans (a necessity if you’re got an outside wedding anytime from April-October in Texas) to candles and on and on- the list is endless. (www.favorsyoukeep.com is a good source.) If you’re on an extremely limited budget, either dispense with the favors, or do something very inexpensive you can do well in advance, like making up little baggies of Hershey’s “hugs” and “kisses.”

13. Cakes-If you’re doing a bride’s and a groom’s cake- get enough servings for 1 ½ times the number of people expected. Many cake bakers try to get you to do enough for everyone to have a piece of both, but very few people do that, and then you end up with a lot of (expensive) cake left over. On the top layer- freeze it but eat it on your one MONTH anniversary. By one year, no cake tastes good. Order a small cake of the same flavor for your first anniversary.

14. Music: Live music is best for the ceremony- that way, it is easy for musicians to phrase off, instead of someone abruptly cutting off recorded music. For the reception, DJ’s are usually less expensive than a band. If using a DJ, decide on how many “bells and whistles” you want- the more, the more $$.

15. Food: Depending on the time of day, you may serve anything from light snacking to a full dinner. Check with your venue about catering- can you bring your own in, or are you required particular ones. If they require only certain ones, ask if they get a commission or other fee from them. You need to know if folks are referred because they’re really good, or because they’re paying the venue folks to refer them.

16. Wedding Night- instead of a big expensive hotel, look for a vacation rental in your town (www.VRBO.com) has great homes all over the world. That way, you have all the privacy you want. Spend a night or two there, relaxing, before leaving for your honeymoon. That way, too, you can attend a brunch the next day after your wedding with all our out of town friends and relatives you’ve not seen in a while.

17. LISTEN to your wedding professionals! They’ve seen it all, and what may sound wonderfully romantic may be something with which they’ve had experience and can give another perspective on that idea that may turn out to be such a great idea.

After 30+ years of working in the Wedding Industry, I could go on and on about things to watch for, but I think this is a good basic list. I hope to update my blog weekly, so be sure to check back. If you’ve got questions you’d like for me to answer, send them to me at kathi@KathiThomasDesign.com and I’ll answer in my blog.