Currently browsing advice

Top 2016 Wedding Trends

It’s that time of year again! Of course we mean that the holidays are here, but we also mean it’s engagement season. Anyone with a Facebook feed knows that the time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s day is full of posts from happy, newly engaged couples. For those of us who are lucky enough to be able to share in this joy as part of our work, we think of engagement season as the time to look forward to the coming year, when weddings will abound during the warmer months.

What does all this mean for you? It means we’ve used our insider knowledge to forecast the top wedding trends for 2016. Remember when we predicted that bright botanicals would be all the rage and then you started seeing them everywhere? Trust us, babies, we don’t take these predictions lightly! Think of this as Fashion Week for the bridal set: what you see here now will be what you see in real weddings sooner than you think. If you’re feeling especially daring, maybe you will even go for some of these options for your own wedding!

With so many exciting new choices popping up in our world, we can’t limit ourselves to just one post. The second installment of our trendspotting series will be making its way to you in December. Meanwhile, enjoy these first four winners and, as always, happy planning!

Top 2016 wedding cake | Drip icing

wedding cake inspiration, 2016 wedding cake trends, 2016 wedding trends, 2016 wedding planning

These cakes are literally dripping in ooey-gooey goodness. Icing dripping down the edge of a simple cake makes a statement that this dessert is meant to be enjoyed in all its sweet and sticky glory. We love our ornate cakes too, but this simple look is so fun and inviting, and we anticipate seeing a lot more of it in 2016. For an extra trendy style, layer this over 2015’s top cake–naked or seminaked–to change up the look. Guests will be watering at the mouth to try this one!

Top 2016 bridal accessory | Crown

wedding crown, bridal crown, wedding trends, 2016 wedding trends, 2016 bride, 2016 wedding, tiara, wedding tiara, bride tiara, bride crowns, bridal style 2016

We know it’s bold, but hear us out. Crowns have been all over the 2016 bridal fashion runways. Flower crowns were all the rage in 2014 and 2015, and of course we expect that they will stay popular in the coming year. A real crown, though, makes such a statement. It’s regal, it’s commanding, it might even be a little intimidating. There are so many ways to wear this look, whether it’s shimmering with crystals, under a veil, or completely over-the-top. Crowns can be goth, Deco, feminine and everything in between. If you’re not so sure about pulling this off on your wedding day, try the look for your engagement shoot instead.

Top 2016 catering fare | Fresh, earthy eats

vegan wedding food, vegetarian wedding food, farm to table catering, chicago farm to table, chicago sustainable wedding, chicago green weddings

If there’s one thing we are so glad to see coming into style, it’s fresh, sustainable food. The benefits are endless! Many of these dishes are already vegetarian and can be easily adapted to specialized diets such as vegan or allergy-friendly. The quality of farm-to-table food can’t be beat and the environmental impact is well worth the investment. As more caterers begin to focus on local fare for events, some are even opening their own gardens to give you the freshest and most colorful seasonal eats available–we love seeing floral garnishes direct from the urban farm. Plus, why not give your guests a little healthy food to balance out all that indulging at the sweets table and the bar?

Top 2016 tabletop look | Black matte stoneware

black plate tabletop, black plates tablescape, black plates, black stoneware

You thought it would be gold flatware? Think again. Black, matte plates are going to be all the rage in 2016. Obviously these can be part of a moody tablescape or one for the colder months, but with a little creativity (hey, that’s why you hired us to plan your wedding!) they can also be incorporated into a chic design to fit any style. Mixing them with our mismatched china is a unique stylistic choice that can pack a punch, especially when we help you pair the plates with fabulous glassware, flatware, florals and paper goods to complete your look!

That wraps it up for our first installment of the top 2016 wedding trends. Check back in December for more winners and, of course, don’t forget to contact us about your date!

What Not to DIY for Your Wedding

wedding planning advice what not to diy

Doing it yourself is all the rage for weddings, and for good reason. At its best, getting crafty means you can save money, have fun creating personalized projects, and wow guests with your awesome design skills. In reality, though, DIY projects often don’t turn out exactly as planned. Going down the Pinterest rabbit hole can lead to lofty ideas of creating everything for the wedding day all by yourself. Custom backdrop? Sure. Calligraphy for every invitation and place card? You can learn it. Self-designed and printed invitations? Piece of cake. That perfect floral crown and cascading bridal bouquet? No sense paying hundreds to a florist when you can create your own.

Well…not really. We often see brides falling into the trap of biting off more DIY projects than they can chew. There’s so much inspiration out there that it’s easy to become convinced that these undertakings will be simple, affordable, and have stunning results. In our conversations with couples, though, we often hear brides lamenting their DIY undertakings as the wedding approaches. The supplies are taking over the apartment. After-work hours and weekends are consumed with crafting projects. Everything ended up being more expensive than planned. Learning origami or calligraphy or floral design was harder than expected, and the results aren’t looking so good.

To save their sanity and their budget, what’s a creative couple to do? We’re offering up a few guidelines for how to DIY smarter, including what to absolutely NOT do yourself!

Limit the scope: Suddenly your idea for a cute custom chalkboard or two has snowballed into a list of ten different DIY projects. You’ve pinned them all to your wedding inspiration board and absolutely HAVE to have them. Do you really, though? Consider the value of your time and whether there are low-cost alternatives that you can purchase. Take a step back and think about whether this project will be something you regret not having years down the line, or whether it’s a passing trend. A good rule of thumb is to clarify your vision before deciding which projects to take on, and to not plan on doing any more than 10 hours of work yourself (believe us, you’ll underestimate how long things will take).

Have a backup: What if your project doesn’t end up as picture-perfect as you had hoped? What if you don’t have a chance to complete it? Don’t torture yourself by taking an “it’s this or nothing” approach. That kind of pressure will drive you nuts, and can result in losing perspective of the things about the wedding that really matter. Start early and go into each task with a non-DIY backup in mind. If you begin to sense that things aren’t working out as well as you had hoped, go with your alternative. No need to guilt trip yourself—you don’t need to do it all!

Start early: Beginning a project one or two months before the wedding is a recipe for frustration. You don’t want to start so early that you risk changing your mind about style and scrapping your work, but you don’t want to experience any deadline or budget stress as the big day approaches. Allot twice as much time as you think you’ll need and your future self will thank you.

Enlist help: Delegate, delegate, delegate! Host a crafting event where wedding party members help you accomplish whatever needs to get done. Ask interested family members to take on a project or two. Find out who wants to be involved and let them contribute. Just consider whether that person will be reliable and will have the skill to achieve the results you want; this will avoid friction later on. On that note, be sure to express gratitude for any help offered!

Manage expectations: We can tell you from experience that styled wedding shoots are just that: styled. By professionals. The inspiration photos you find online are the result of the collaboration of teams of experienced wedding vendors, often with little consideration for budget. A photo shoot is very different from a real event and photographers have a much more controlled environment in which to get that perfect shot. Don’t compare your skills or your event to these professionally created, one-off (not for 100+ guests!) designs. Remember that your guests will be at the wedding to celebrate with you, not to critique your style. Nobody is going to be as much of a perfectionist about the big day as you are, so keep the pressure you put on yourself in check.

Now for the list of what to leave to the pros.

Invitations: Invitation design is trickier than it seems. It requires a familiarity with graphic design as well as access to a high quality printer. Not all paper types or printing methods will work with all printers, so providing your own paper stock is not the best idea.  You’ll need to consider very specific measurements and eliminate all chance of error, or you risk a costly reprint. Custom printing jobs for a variety of cut paper sizes and colors can also end up costing quite a bit of money. If you’re looking for some level of involvement in the design process, find a designer to fit your budget and go from there; Etsy has great options, just do your homework to find someone reliable.

Floral design: When it comes to doing flowers yourself, just say no. Creating a good look is harder than it seems, and so much more goes into it than you might initially consider. Arrangements are created a few days in advance of the wedding, a time when engaged couples shouldn’t have to worry about complex, time-consuming work. Transport is difficult. Flowers wilt if not properly refrigerated and hydrated. We could go on but the bottom line is this: DO. NOT. DIY. YOUR. FLOWERS! Can you tell that we have strong feelings about this one?

Vintage items: Buying your own plates and providing that cute vintage sofa you found can be an enormous, stressful pain in the butt. The popularity of these items means they are more expensive and harder to find than ever before. They need to be stored, organized, transported, and cleaned after the wedding. You may be able to sell them after the big day but that’s not guaranteed and it could take a while. Renting costs less than purchasing and it’s hassle-free. We offer vintage rentals so we’re a little biased, but we still stand by this advice no matter where you get your rentals!

Makeup: Makeup artists are called artists for a reason. Every one has a unique style and you should find one that fits your vision and the tone of the event. Unless you’re in the beauty field, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get yourself looking as photo-ready as a pro will. Even a lighter touch, sans fake lashes and airbrushing, will look smoother and more flattering in photos when it’s handled by someone who has done this hundreds of times before. The cost of hiring a bridal makeup artist is relatively low for the returns you’ll see in your photos, and it’s one less thing for you to worry about on the morning of the wedding.

Day-of coordination: Weddings have a lot of moving parts. This is a celebration and you should have every opportunity to enjoy it, not to engage in logistical firefighting. Your coordinator will be a point of contact for every vendor and wedding participant. The coordinator will ensure in advance that everything is on track to go smoothly and will be prepared to meet any emergency situation that may arise on the wedding day. A good coordinator makes all the difference, from facilitating your ceremony, to keeping you calm, to advocating on your behalf and keeping the timeline moving along. Other vendors appreciate working with wedding planners because it means that there is less chance of something unexpected happening that might limit their ability to do their jobs well.  An experienced planner’s coordination fee is a seriously smart investment in your wedding.

 Hopefully this advice has you feeling more comfortable with your DIY aspirations and the planning process in general. We love helping couples create events that reflect their personalities, and if you follow these guidelines you’ll be on the right track to add a personal touch without going overboard. Still have questions? Contact us for a little extra help. Happy planning!

Photo by Amy Jo Royall, design + rentals by Chicago Vintage Weddings, floral by Asrai Garden, collaboration with BHLDN

Wedding Planning vs. Wedding Coordination

One question we are asked rather frequently is whether to book a wedding planning service or a wedding coordination service. Even couples who come to us with a notion of which one they would prefer sometimes end up choosing a different service following a consultation about their needs. Making the smart choice early on is important for a few reasons. Most notably, a wedding planner should usually be the first vendor you hire because the planner will be able to assist you with all other vendor selections. If you start the planning process on your own only to realize later on that you would like to hire a planner, you may be missing out on valuable services and doing more work than you need to do! It is also important to know whether you will be hiring a coordinator–even if you will be doing so later on–because budgeting for a coordinator from the beginning is far preferable to a last-minute scramble when the wedding is close and you realize you need to hire someone.

On the flip side, not everyone needs or wants full wedding planning. While we always recommend at least considering a full or partial planner for reasons you may not have considered (great vendor recommendations, money-saving tips, countless hours saved), there are plenty of couples who go through the planning process without a professional consultant. These couples often turn to a coordinator to handle the details of the final weeks and days of planning, as well as all day-of management.

So, what does a coordinator do that is different from a planner? Usually the same person can provide either of these services, but planning is much more comprehensive. It varies based on how involved a particular planning service is (full or partial) but planning generally includes many more hours of service, thorough advice and vendor referrals, meetings with other vendors, contract review and negotiation, budget management, design consultations, and quite a bit more. Coordination, on the other hand, usually starts only a few weeks before the wedding. Coordinators do not assist in booking vendors or in coming up with plans for decor or for most other event details. Coordinators save the day by catching potential disasters before they strike, creating a workable timeline, and communicating thoroughly with vendors and with the wedding party, but they are mostly there to execute plans that the couple and their chosen vendors have already made.

Now that you know the basics, which service is right for you? Do you feel confident in your ability to narrow down your vendor options and to choose the most reputable, competitively priced services? Are you eager to navigate the wedding planning seas or would you prefer a compass? Are you more of a pushover or are you able to put your foot down when you need to?

Fear not, we’ve created a handy little graphic to get you started thinking about all of this. Take a look below and consider which of these sounds more like you. Be honest with yourself! This is an important decision but it shouldn’t be a hard one. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to a planner (you can contact us here) and ask. Good planners know what it takes to put a wedding together and will have a sense of what you need. Chicago Vintage Weddings is proud of our ability to discern which services would best suit each couple. We are equally proud to only recommend services that we feel are needed–not simply ones that will cost you more–and we aren’t in the business of pressuring inquiring clients. You found the right match in your partner and we are here to help you find the right match for your wedding!

Wedding planning vs wedding coordination

Chicago Vintage Weddings Planning Advice: Choosing Your Wedding Planner Like a Pro

Wedding Planner Advice

 If the thought of working with a wedding planner has even crossed your mind, it’s worth it to set up a consultation with one. Most wedding planners do not charge for initial consultations and they can help set your mind at ease about the next steps to take. If you take only a few pieces of advice early on, the ones listed below can set you on the path to planning an amazing wedding without losing your mind (and your money!). This is insider info, straight from the planning team at Chicago Vintage Weddings to you!

  1. Check for compatibility. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your wedding planner. You love the work she produces, so make sure you love how she produces it. Nobody knows the personality types you work best with better than you, so you should decide whether this is someone you want to handle one of your major life events. Is she composed and professional? Do you enjoy talking with her? Is she assertive yet polite?  One major warning sign: appearing frazzled. Organization is everything!
  2. Check for responsiveness. Now, we’re not saying that you should expect immediate responses late at night or on weekends; professional wedding planners have several events in the works at any given time. We’re just saying that if the planner routinely takes longer than expected to respond to you or does not readily answer all of your questions, it may be time to move on. This indicates that the planner may be disorganized. Plus, do you really want to be waiting a long time for responses as your wedding approaches?
  3. Find out her reputation in the industry. Has she been recommended by other trusted vendors in the area? Does she frequently collaborate with and give credit to a wide variety of wedding vendors? These are indicators that a wedding planner has a good reputation and is a true professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for vendor references, either!
  4. Crunch the numbers. One of the not-so-well-known perks of working with a wedding planner is that an experienced one will be able to get you so many vendor discounts that she will essentially pay for herself. Seasoned planners will be able to offer you information on average costs and discounts for different wedding services. They will know your area’s market inside and out. Ask your prospective planner about how she will help you stay within budget, and ask for specific examples of how she has negotiated vendor discounts for previous clients.
  5. Weigh every business model. Eliminating the stress of planning your own wedding is valuable in itself. Ask yourself what the additional peace of mind of working with a highly professional, talented planner is worth as well. Some may plan weddings as a side business or be just breaking into the industry. These planners are typically less experienced but, if you’re willing to work with someone who is just getting her footing and you trust that she is the right fit for you, then it can work out. Just keep expectations in check and read your contract carefully. Do extra research and make sure that, at the very least, she is licensed and insured. Full-time planners typically charge higher rates. This is due to several factors, namely higher demand for her services, a higher level of professionalism, and the costs of running a business. If she is part of a group of planners such as a planning firm or boutique, find out who the main planner for your wedding will be. Also find out how many events the firm typically handles every week. There is no one-size-fits-all model for the type of planner you should hire; it’s all about what’s most comfortable for you.

That’s it for now! Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that Chicago Vintage Weddings offers distinctive, full service wedding planning in Chicago. May and October of 2014 are booked but we still have limited availability in other months. We hope these tips were helpful to you!