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Feb 5

Sweet Baby Bosse’s Nursery

A few weeks ago when I was 39 weeks pregnant, Andrew and I had an in home photo session with our incredibly talented friend Kelly Sweet. As we inched closer and closer to my due date I realized how important it was for me to capture the anticipation of waiting on our sweet babe. But the important part was having photos with Andrew in them too. I have so many beautiful photos – enough to cherish for a lifetime – in my season as an expectant mama in both this Italy oceanside shoot here and a 30 week maternity boudoir session that’s a little more private, but not many as expecting parents. So these images are ones that I will hold near and dear to my heart forever. My advice to anyone that may ever be on the fence about getting your photo taken; do it!

Photos really do tell a thousand words.

Kelly, thank you for coming into our lives and home during such an emotional time. We treasure you!

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And with that, I welcome you to our son’s nursery!

Sources for everything can be found at the bottom of the post if you’re interested.

As for some of the inspiration behind the room, most of it came together rather organically if I am honest. I never had an inspiration board or vision in mind for this space because I wasn’t sure how to keep things soft yet masculine; I’m a super girly girl who is now a mama to one strong little dude! But more than anything I wanted this space to feel relaxing, airy and able to transition nicely into a toddler’s room as our little guy grows up.

The nursery is now one of my favorites in our entire home and for good reason; already in just under three weeks into motherhood I sure do spend many days and nights in there nursing and rocking my little man to sleep. I’m grateful we took time to make this space feel the way it does. Truly. I feel so lucky to be L’s mama and thank God every night for this sweet season which has changed my and our world so much.

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Over the changing table are two framed photos; one from our pregnancy announcement which you can find more of here and one from our maternity photos taken in Italy over here. I can’t wait to frame some more photos of our little guy to add to these shelves. Beyond that, in our next home I hope to start a family legacy wall where even more mementos and special imagery will be shared and collected over future years to come.

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I bought that Home Sweet Home pillow that’s shaped like the state of Michigan in 2014 when we started trying to build our family. I found it in the cutest little shop on Mackinaw Island. I knew one day it would be perfect for our little’s room and I sure was right! Sometimes I use it to prop up L’s little behind when I’m nursing.

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The oversized art is a custom piece from House of Belonging. I knew long before we conceived I would want something from their shop for our future baby’s room. When it came time to finally order our print though we were stumped on what it would read! I didn’t think we would even order in time for the baby’s arrival!

Long story short, a year ago on Valentine’s Day Andrew and I started to attend church together. During that first service prior to the sermon beginning they played the song Oceans. I remember feeling so immediately at home when the song started because it was at the time one of the few Christian songs I was familiar with. Funny enough, when I went to service on the morning I hit 39 weeks pregnant it was the first song they played then too. I love that not only is this part of the song so clearly pointed towards Him but it can also translate to our son and how close and connected we already feel to him. Sometimes I hum the song to L when he’s crying in his room at 3:00 am. It’s made for some sweet memories thus far.

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And these two below. They are such good buddies. I’m so so lucky to have such a sweet and loving little family.

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Two things:

First, I cannot believe my belly was every that big! My goodness. Pregnancy is truly a miracle!

And second, the nine teal frames house individual chunks of one larger map. The map as a whole makes up the Great Lakes region which has personal significance to both Andrew and me. I grew up in the Canadian Great Lakes region and Andrew grew up in Michigan which is surrounded by Great Lakes. When we were engaged in 2008 and both graduated college, we moved to Chicago which is also included in the map breakdown. We now live back in Michigan which is obviously shown in the frames. Beyond that our son’s name loosely translate’s to ‘great lake.’ Having some unique and meaningful art on the wall made sense for us and this map did just that.

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Being a mama has fulfilled every emotion that I expected and then some. It’s also been so many things I didn’t expect and admittedly has provided me with many moments that are hard and frustrating. I feel like I was made to be a mom even though I’m often stuck feeling very far from equipped to do this. Little by little. Bit by bit. I’m taking it all step by step and soaking it up like rays of warm sunshine on my cheeks. Parenting isn’t about being perfect and that’s been a tough pill to swallow because I try to do most of the things throw my way in perfect form, but at the end of each day (or night? who knows because I can’t tell this difference right now!) I know I’m giving my all and then some to provide for and love on our son and that’s all that matters. That’s enough for him and for me. Who knew someone at 16 days old could teach you so much.

I also have a million things to say about Andrew. And him as a Dad. But I’ll save that for another day.

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I can’t wait to introduce our best gift yet to you in my next post! Xoxo

. . . . . . . . . . .

Photography: Kelly Sweet / Paint: Valspar (straight pure white outta the can; seriously it took us three tries to find a white that looked right with our trim!) / Crib: Jenny Lind from Babies R Us / Bedding, mobile, and chandelier: Restoration Hardware Baby & Child / Rug, lamp, baskets and changing table, living room couch, living room lamps, and living room artwork: Home Goods / Rocker: Babies R Us / Side table, curtains and shelves: Target / Curtain rod: Lowes / Teal frames: Hobby Lobby / Scripted art: House of Belonging / Pouf: Lulu and Georgia / Milestone cards: Anthropologie / Vertical photo wire: IKEA / Baby book: Emily Ley / Tee Pee: Ashley Gabby Designs / Michigan pillow: Poppins on Mackinac Island / Gray stuffed bear: GAP / Printed maps: The Map Shop on Etsy

Jan 12

3 Small Business Essentials to Outsource

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So. Even though I promised I wouldn’t set any goals until after the babe arrived I’m excited for today’s post.

I’ve made it my mission to read 10 incredible books in 2016 that will both challenge me as a woman, wife, mama and business owner. I can’t believe I get to be ALL of those things this year! Some books I’ve read before and some are new ones recommended by others. We are only a couple weeks into January and already I’m through two books which is partially because I love to read and read fairly fast, and also because I started with one of my most favorite books I read in 2013. 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam. It’s a MUST read you guys regardless of if you’re a business owner, stay at home mom or student. If you struggle with time management, scheduling your time, feeling you’re spread too thin with your commitments or best of all, if you fall into the trap of glorifying busy (guilty!) then this is for you! It’s an easy and revolutionary read hence why I put it first on my reading list.

BUT onto the point of this post!

One of the parts of the book that I really love, is the chapter that touches on Minimizing, Outsourcing or Ignoring things that suck up too much time in your precious 168 Hours (which is the time we ALL have in any given week). It’s tricky to talk about time management without getting too much into setting good boundaries – and how ironic I am reading THIS right now – but I’ve always loved this approach to thinking about my time. If something is a bore, too hard, not within my core competencies or sucking up the valuable time I have to do what I love most, I’ve always been a fan of minimizing, outsourcing or ignoring it.

While there are inevitably some things you cannot minimize, outsource or ignore, today I wanted to share the top three things I outsource as a small creative business owner. These are three things that have provided me with tremendous peace over the past six of business ownership while also allowing my business to grow and flourish in intentional ways. Also, note these items are things that work for me and are contingent on the kind of business I have. I do not have employees on payroll or a studio space that comes with additional expenses nor do I have any plans in the near future to grow my business; I’m very much in a maintenance stage and that feels really good. But these three things below are still items I find very worth the extra investment to outsource.

TOP 3 SMALL BUSINESS ITEMS TO OUTSOURCE

A Bookkeeper & CPA. Hiring someone to help me manage my receipts, expenses and taxes is hands down the one thing that has given me much peace as a business owner. I wrote a bit about this over HERE but I would be completely lost in a sea of receipts, numbers, and legalities if it weren’t for my bookkeeper and CPA. Essentially the two work in tandem together. My bookkeeper gets my monthly categorized receipts and expenses. Any penny I spend related to my business goes to her to be filed and organized. Then my CPA gets these organized reports in March to be prepared for filing. For many small business owners doing their own bookkeeping works out great! I salute you! For me, sitting down and spending time categorizing receipts and making sense of numbers and cross checking what goes where is not worth the exchange of time and stress it would result in. So I pay my bookkeeper per month, pay my CPA a nice fee once a year to manage our taxes and I’m a happy girl knowing I have professionals on my side helping keep my business in order on the back end.

If you are interested in hiring a bookkeeper I would highly recommend asking your local colleagues for leads (that’s what I did). There are many bookkeepers who specialize in small creative businesses and pending your work load would be happy to take you on (or suggest someone else they may work with or know). An added bonus is finding someone local to you so you can meet with them and really get to know them on a personal level. I loved being able to explain my business model to my bookkeeper when I first hired her because I was able to explain things to her that made sense when it came to organizing my receipts. For example, when I categorize things under ‘editorial shoots’ she knows exactly what this means and where to put those expenses.

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A Lawyer. I remember years ago when I rebranded my business it was mere weeks after my launch I got a phone call that made my heart drop. Someone oversees had stolen my logo and business name and was printing it on their products. Said products were being sold into the hands of customers around the world and I was very disappointed. This wasn’t the first time my work, likeness or ideas had been stolen (and it wouldn’t be the last) but it felt really insulting after I had invested so much heart, money and time into this particular rebrand.

My first instinct was to reach out to this person and confront her on her wrongdoings but that impulsive thought wouldn’t have done much for me. So I reached out to my lawyer instead. She is the same person who has helped me with trademarking my two businesses (Hey Gorgeous Events and The Trouvaille Workshop), managed contract changes over the years, and given sound advice on how to handle emotional situations like this that can go south pretty quickly without neutral guidance. While my lawyer doesn’t personally work for ME in-house, she has been my go to for legal issues for many years and the bonus here is she knows me, my brand, the clientele I serve, the way I operate, the services I provide, etc. When we talk about new issues that need her attention I don’t need to waste time filling in her on who I am which is helpful in the interest of cost. Because lawyers are not cheap! But again, the peace of mind having a knowledgeable expert in my court when it comes to protecting my business and doing things as responsibly as possible is worth every penny.

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Contracted Workers. I really dislike spelling this out like so but the legal terminology for the gals on my team is as such. Because our team is small and we service only 4 to 5 couples per year, it does not make sense in any capacity to have full time or even part time employees on the HGE team. Should I ever take the plunge on a retail space or change my business model to accommodate closer to 20 events per year that would be different but for now, it’s not something that makes sense (especially as I take some time off to be a first time mama any day now!) So I have two incredible women on the HGE team who are legally contracted workers but in theory, a big part of the HGE culture and a pivotal part of making what I do possible. When I made the shift to take on larger events a few years ago and started incorporating a full service boutique approach to my process, I knew I wouldn’t be able to execute things single handedly. Having Betsi and Jess by my side has been a tremendous move for both HGE. The bonus is they have become such a big part of my life as a result.

So how do you find contracted workers and trust them and what does this mean? I will write about this more in an upcoming post but essentially, contracted workers do exactly what it sounds like they are hired to do! They are contracted by a business (me) to come and offer specialized talents/services for pay (so for HGE this means working in the area of floral design, event set up and so forth). Many industry colleagues use the term ‘freelancing’ when looking for help with events as many business owners do not actually have full time employees on payroll but a freelancer has a similar role to that of a contracted worker.

If you’re interested in more of the nuts and bolts of contracted workers, Michelle Loretta from Sage Wedding Pros is a really great resource (PSST! She will be at this spring’s TROUVAILLE too!). Beyond contracted workers, there are interns and employees, what to pay people and how to protect yourself, and these are all really tricky areas you should educate yourself on. Or reference my points above on having a great bookkeeper and lawyer who can also make sure you are 1. having your workers fill out the right paper work and documenting what you’re paying them in the right places and 2. protecting your business in any way possible since contracted workers technically are free to run their own businesses and/or work for other businesses.

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Some other notable items to outsource?

Branding services, website and blog management, project management systems and more. The great news is there really is a large pool of resources and tools out there to help your business succeed and run efficiently which allows you to focus on your craft and talents. I know I started my business to serve others well and make celebrations as remarkable as they deserve to be. This doesn’t include swimming in a frenzy of receipts every April, trying to get wonky legal advice on social media or investing in people working illegally for me so I urge you too to think about some things you can outsource with your business to be stronger and more profitable.

What are some ways you minimize, outsource or even ignore things within your business? I’d love to know!

All photos in this post are from the amazing Brad and Sam. You can catch more of the studio over here.

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Jan 8

Before Baby Bosse Bucket List

Happy Friday, friends!

I’m just two days away from my official due date and so far, it looks like this little guy is snug as a bug where he is. Taking a maternity leave has been really hard for me as I struggle with being still and resting (plus what do you do with a maternity leave before you actually have a baby in your arms and you feel like you’ve been waiting forever for him to come!?) But I’ve been able to save up some blog posts to share while I’m tending to those first few weeks of newborn-ness just like you would save up frozen meals. And well, this is one of those posts.

I wrote about a Before Baby List here but never had time to share it! We tried to keep expectations low and put things on the list that Andrew and I both felt attainable and special. While a trip to Bora Bora sounded lovely and pre-baby I always thought we would be able to squeeze something like that in, the reality is we went with a more simplistic (and cost effective) route of celebrating our time before we officially become a family of 3.

Below are the items we wanted to tackle!

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1. Finish our nursery. I’ve heard and read many people’s sentiments that it’s not necessary to finish your baby’s nursery until they are a little bit older and actually sleep in their crib. But I’m so so happy we went with our instincts and did otherwise. Walking past this little guy’s room each day is so sweet. Sometimes I sit in my rocker and think about what being a mama will feel like. At night Andrew often turns on the lamp in there which I think is sort of adorable. Plus we were able to get some last minute end of pregnancy photos in the finished nursery with Kelly before she heads to India for three weeks. Knowing we won’t have to worry about shopping, hanging things, decorating or doing laundry once the baby arrives feels really freeing.

2. Take an overnight trip to Chicago and go out on a fancy dinner date night. I had to take a work related trip to Chicago before I went on my maternity leave so Andrew and I seized the opportunity to turn this into a last date weekend hurrah! We rented a nice hotel downtown Chicago using points we had saved up, made a reservation at the hotel’s steakhouse, ordered whatever we wanted, walked around downtown and enjoyed the Christmas lights and decor (it was only 55 degrees that night which was perfect!) and best of all, sat in Ghirardelli’s sipping hot cocoa people watching. It was simple and sweet and felt celebratory.

3. Set a morning aside to work on our baby book together. I remember once looking through the baby book my mom half completed for me as a baby and thinking how cool it was to see she had documented the dates of my first tooth, first word and first friend. While she never finished the book and things were much different 30 years ago, it was nostalgic to have those memories to look back on. Emily gifted me with one of her gorgeous baby books earlier this year when I told her I was pregnant at 8 weeks, and I couldn’t wait to start documenting my pregnancy, labor, birth and ultimately the first few years of our baby’s life. I plan to share more on how I use our book in the future but it was important to sit down with Andrew and TOGETHER write down some of the pre baby things; like our guesses on weight and eye color, sharing stories on how mom and dad met (which Andrew wrote out himself), as well as picking which photos to share throughout all of the pages. We did this over Thanksgiving weekend with cups of hot coffee while it snowed and it was pretty special. Even better, I feel more likely to keep adding to it since we’ve already started. The process doesn’t feel so daunting now.

4. Have a stress free and low key Christmas. This was a really sweet one. Christmas isn’t typically a stressful time of year for us because we don’t have large families, we don’t travel and we aren’t huge into the commercialism of Christmas. We do love decorating, eating yummy meals and gifting presents to others but there’s always a sort of pressure that comes with the holiday and pending how much I look at instagram and Pinterest the day after Thanksgiving, my anxiousness can go through the roof. So this year we ditched the decor (minus a small two foot tree we purchased), went with stockings only, told our families we were going to stay in and do our own dinner (which also made sense in case I went into labor early) and totally felt guilt free about our decision to watch every single season of Breaking Bad while eating probably too many processed foods. Either way, it was so restful to feel like the holiday was a staycation for us to enjoy our company together and do a lot of nothing.

5. Get pedicures together. Ok so this is a list item we only 50% completed. Meaning I went to get a pedicure without Andrew because he ended up having to work the day I made the appointment. Darn! But maybe for Father’s Day I can celebrate Andrew by sending him on his own little man date. He probably wouldn’t admit it but that guy loves pedicures! The first time I took him years ago when we lived in Chicago, his response post-pedicure was, “I feel like I’m walking on clouds.” Ha! He’s been hooked on them ever since.

6. Set ourselves up for post baby success. This is a tricky one. Because I’ve never done this baby thing before and I certainly can’t quite know what to expect BUT I do believe in preparing for situations as best as possible and don’t feel naive about doing so in this one. I’ve been getting so much advice and opinions on everything from labor, parenting, postpartum care, how marriage changes after baby, working as a mom especially when you work for yourself from home, body changes, sleeping habits, and so on that I had to take what I could with a grain of salt and listen to my instincts and Andrew’s gut feelings on what’s best for us. Somehow society has made it this far and without elaborate baby books, hashtags, registry guns, monogrammed diaper bags and hospital videography so I feel good. Even though those things I just listed off sound really nice and festive :)

So with that being said, we tired to think ahead on things that we’d like to have in place for our peace of mind. Our cleaning ladies will be on call to come clean for us while we are at the hopsital so we can come home to a clean home. Instead of sticking to our usual cleaning schedule with them we thought this was a nice trade off. We recently switched back to a paleo diet so we bought a new paleo cook book and have been freezing some of our favorite recipes like homemade tortillas, gluten free pancakes and muffins. We also stocked up on frozen fruit and cans of coconut milk for some of my favorite smoothies. We had some long talks about how we will share the news with our family and neighbors (and who would watch the house and tend to Zoe while we were gone) and also typed this all out so there’s no confusion on our decisions when things get heated and we’re busy tending to the babe’s birth. Then of course we created a birth plan and have the help of our doula who gives us both a tremendous peace of mind. Again, we’re prepared for any part of the plan to go right out the window but at least we feel content knowing we’ve done our best to prepare as thoroughly as possible.

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And that’s that!

I’ve added some photos from our September travels to Italy in this post. They were all taken by the amazing Shay of Love, The Nelsons. A lot of people thought this trip was indeed our babymoon but instead it was a work related trip that we tried to squeeze a little personal fun into! Either way, we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to take our first trip across the pond together while I was pregnant. More on that trip soon!

Happy weekend, friends!

Xoxo

Jan 6

Alex + Josh {HGE Wedding with Bradley James}

One of the sweetest perks of what I do is becoming friends with other talented colleagues and wedding artists I admire. Such is the case with the incredible Alex of Alexandra Nicole Make Up. For the past few wedding seasons, Alex has been making some of my HGE brides look their very best on their big day and has also done my make up before for some different projects like this personal photo session here and this HGE team day we had back in 2015. When Alex told me she had a feeling her longtime boyfriend Josh would be proposing sometime in the fall of 2014 I was on the edge of my seat waiting for her to call or text with the exciting news. In due time she did just that and thus gave me the honor of being involved as her florist and coordinator.

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Since Alex works in the wedding industry and has seen her fair share of weddings, she had a pretty good handle on the planning process and how she would bring together her and Josh’s wants and needs. She wanted the day to be special and meaningful but also realistic and focused on what matters most. I would lend a hand here and there but for the most part simply stepped in when it came to the floral side of things and helping bring her hard work and vision to life. Alex made all of the wood painted signage for the big day, her graphic designer girlfriend created all of the stationery, the wedding was held in the backyard of her childhood home and friends from all over helped fold napkins, string hundreds and hundreds of string lights throughout the tent and trees, and make her and Josh’s celebration special and sacred. It really took a village to make this milestone come to life!

Alex and Josh, seeing you two become husband and wife was such a sweet highlight of my 2015 summer. You are so treasured and loved by so many and your big day was such a testament to this outward pouring of love. Thank you for letting Andrew and me be a part and for being so gracious with our dual vendor-guest roles.

The celebration was captured so beautifully by Brad and Sam of Bradley James Photography. Enjoy!

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This photo below was taken when Alex’s dad walked in to see her as a bride for the first time that day. Alex was such a joyful bride; that smile stayed on her face all day long. As for her gown, she selected it at Bianka Bridal in Grand Rapids the winter before her August wedding. I actually went with her to a couple dress appointments and when she came out in this sparkly yet classic number she knew it was the one for her. It has a slight Gatsby feel to it but fit her body in the most perfect way. Her chic hair and gorgeous make up (by Julie Strating who is good friends with Alex) were the perfect finishing touches to her look.

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As Alex got her finishing touches in place, guests began to arrive to the house for the afternoon outdoor ceremony. The escort board was a wood display Alex made herself with seating arrangements created by her graphic designer friend. Andrew and I added some bay leaf and seeded eucalyptus greens to the board along with some blush and ivory florals to tie in with the simple and romantic color palette Alex really wanted. You’ll see this wedding was all about simplicity as you go through this post but don’t mistake that for anything less than special. I wish I could adequately explain how much love was prevalent at this wedding.

View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/blacklerwedding AlexJoshHGE7 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/blacklerwedding AlexJoshHGE9 View More: http://bradleyjamesphotography.pass.us/blacklerwedding

This moment. Always my favorite.

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I also have to give a shout out to Josh who is such a friendly guy. I can see why these two make a perfect pair. Alex and Josh actually live about ten minutes from Andrew and me and we went on a double date before these two got engaged so the guys could get to know one another better. We had too much fun over Mexican cokes, tacos and churros that night and have been talking about making it happen again sometime soon!

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As for the florals, the centerpieces were created with bay leaves, seeded eucalyptus, snow on the mountain and jasmine vine, then we added in some beautiful white ranunculus, black center anemones, majolika spray roses, quicksand, alabaster and o’hara roses and finally some beautiful cascading variegated ivy. We designed everything in silver mercury glass compotes and it was a refreshing change from the all trendy gold last wedding season. Simple silver rimmed plates and blush napkins finished off the understated yet beautiful placesettings.

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Remember those string lights I mentioned above? Magical!

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To happily ever after, Blacklers! May your marriage always be as sweet as it was on this day. We love you!

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Photography: Bradley James Photography / Florals and coordination: Hey Gorgeous Events / Bridal gown and accessories: Bianka Bridal (gown designer: Cristiano Lucci)/ Groomswear: Baryames Tuxedo / Make Up: Julie Strating / Hair: Blair Cook (friend of the bride) / Venue: private residence / Rentals and linens: A Complete Rental / Catering: Morton’s Catering / Cake: Cake Art / Stationery: Katie Brinks (friend of the bride) / Entertainment: Prestige Sound and Entertainment / Chairs: Chiavari Chairs of Michigan / Officiant: Scott Embree (friend of the couple)

Jan 4

Wedding Planners versus Venue Coordinators

Happy Monday, friends!

Today’s post is on a topic I wrote about years ago but I needed to refresh my thoughts and opinions on it. Because while I feel like there is A TON of visual inspiration out there for brides and grooms there isn’t enough content to educate couples on the nitty gritty of planning and how the industry works on the back end. When I first started my business, I had many potential clients tell me in their initial inquiry that they loved my work but ONLY needed my day of services because they had a venue coordinator already who would help them plan everything. And it was only after phone calls with said potential clients that they were able to have these ‘a ha!’ moments once I broke down the differences between the two roles. Many couples I learned, had no idea that these differences even existed! And some brides (who did not hire HGE or any other planner or coordinator) even emailed me AFTER their wedding to say they wished they had taken these differences more seriously because their expectations were not met on the day of their wedding and they were left feeling disappointed.

But I digress.

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I’d like to preface this post by saying full service wedding planners AND venue coordinators are both very important vendors to have on board for your event. Truly! A hard working planner-venue coordinator team can make the difference between a good and a great event. This post in no way is to illustrate any bias towards either and instead is to educate couples on the different roles of each. I have a lot of respect for venue coordinators and feel without them, my team and I would not be able to efficiently do our job best.

With that being said! There are many differences between the responsibilities of a wedding planner or coordinator you would hire outside of your venue versus one that comes as the main source of contact with your venue. Some venues do indeed offer coordinators that may go above and beyond traditional venue coordinator duties OR may have a la carte services arranged with outside planners that clients can secure for an additonal fee. But for the most part, a wedding planner who runs their own company fulfills a very different role than that of an individual who represents a venue where you host your wedding ceremony and or reception.

Some few key differences to note about full service planners VERSUS venue coordinators are below!

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SERVICES

The biggest difference would be the services you’ll receive. With a full service planner and coordinator (like myself and the HGE team) we come on board to help plan your wedding from the very beginning of the planning process. We don’t solely focus on venue related items but instead look at the planning process as a broad puzzle that needs to be put together with much of our help, expertise, and guidance. This means helping with not only the venue selection but everything from other vendor referrals, communication between key players in your planning process, keeping you up to date with checklists and planning accountability because hey, life gets busy, and then for the HGE process at least, attending gown fittings, spearheading full design and floral mock ups, scheduling meetings and phone calls and acting as a liaison between the couple and any other key players. Sometimes I serve as a listening ear to my clients, a cheerleader, a friend, a middle-woman between family members, and the list goes on. There isn’t much I and my team will NOT do as part of the business model we have created and the level of service we are dedicated to providing to our small roster of clientele.

A venue coordinator however has a very specific role to serve the client within the parameters of the respective venue they work for. A venue coordinator typically has a boss to report to and has a specific way of doing their job that has usually been outlined to them in training. Meaning anything outside of the venue’s responsibilities (so where to buy your gown, what sorts of florals you can expect to use based on your wedding date and budget, and helping sort through invitation etiquette or reviewing day of stationery proofs as examples) do not fall within their responsibilities. While a venue coordinator usually and SHOULD provide clients with preferred vendors lists, sample floor plans, and maybe even timeline samples or wedding planning tips based on other events that have unfolded in their venue space, their commitment to you typically ends there.

I’d like to however add some examples on what a venue coordinator is typically responsible for (and if the coordinator is really quite wonderful these are things my team and I do not have to worry about as the planners); opening and closing the venue, making sure any included rentals are set in their predetermined spots (usually chairs and tables), ensuring the venue is clear, clean and as promised to the client prior to any set up being done, tending to parking, valet and coat check duties if those are applicable, making sure any bridal suites are tidy, ensuring restrooms are working and clean, managing room temperatures and lights, helping oversee the food and drink side of things with those team members should this be offered in house, and in some really rare but amazing circumstances, working together with the outside hired planning team to ensure guests are comfortable, get rooms flipped efficiently from ceremony to reception, help light candles or fold napkins, clean up trash as the night goes on, call cabs for any intoxicated guests, make sure loading docks are clear for pick ups, etc.

See? Teamwork between both parties really makes the difference!

TIME INVESTMENT

The next big difference I can point out between the two roles involves the time investment you get from both parties. With a full service planning team like us here at HGE, there is an average of 500 hours given to each client. This includes time spent on the initial booking process (which can takes weeks and even months, many many emails, phone calls, meetings, etc), time spent on the wedding planning process without the client’s involvement (e.g. time spent sourcing florals, building proposals, having long meetings with other vendors, troubleshooting on the client’s behalf, etc) and time spent WITH the client (so meetings with other vendors, tastings, venue walk throughs, dress fittings, etc). Then of course the day before the wedding, the day of, and the day after plus all associated execution, prep, and strike time is considered into this equation. You can see this adds up quickly to a large time investment made into your celebration. Which also has to do a lot with the investment of a full service planner but there’s more on that below OR here in a separate post. On the day of usually a full service planner and or team is the first to arrive and the very last to leave. As they should be.

With a venue coordinator, the time you can expect from them is much more restrictive. Aside from a venue walk through before you sign on the dotted line, any tastings you may do if the venue offers in house catering, and/or a rehearsal run through the day before your event, they typically show up to the venue later than full service planners. And in my experience usually they leave after dinner assuming everything is running smoothly, at which time the banquet captain or another employee of the venue takes over. Again, this is not to provide a disservice to the client but it’s because venue coordinators have different business models to adhere to.

COST

This is probably a given based on everything I wrote above, but a full service planner (especially if they have a team) comes with a much higher price tag than that of a day or month of coordinator. This has to do with the obvious time commitment differences as I explained. But there are other factors involved here too. With HGE, we aren’t just a team that offers full service planning services. We also include with 100% of our client bookings full design, floral, and execution services. While this often doubles the workload we have pre-wedding and makes the execution side of the event much more involved, it means we get to produce really thorough weddings that are beautifully representative of our unique clientele. Some full service planning teams or planners, may fully plan your event but they hand over design duties and floral responsibilities to different companies.

The majority of venue coordinators however do not cost you extra and if they do, their fee is included in the rental cost of your venue and this is itemized or explained to you in the consultation/booking phase. If a venue comes as a rental only without any type of support staff or venue coordinator this should be and usually is clearly communicated in the beginning stages of searching for that perfect space to say I Do. In this case, the venue usually will recommend outside coordinators to get you by with the bare minimum level of service OR they will require you hire someone from their list of preferred coordinators. If a coordinator doesn’t seem like a necessity to you be sure to ask your venue owners about what they do and don’t do day of so you can make the best decision on what you’ll need. Your bridesmaids can’t and shouldn’t be setting your chairs and tables up for you at 8:00 am on the wedding day if your venue doesn’t include this in the rental cost!

You can read a bit more over here in this post about why planners cost what they do.

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I’d also like to note there are differences between full service planners and day of coordinators even if both are hired separate from the venue. While the verbiage these individuals use is starting to change in the industry to ‘month of coordination’ or ‘partial planning’ this position includes coming into the planning process closer to the wedding day to get caught up to speed on the work you may have done yourself already. Their role is to make sure your wedding flows perfectly and logistically comes together without a hitch in the final hours. Think of it as handing off the planning baton to your coordinator so they can finish the race for you!

They may do things like create a timeline for your wedding, touch base with involved vendors to confirm duties and start and end times, or have an in person meeting with you to get to know you and make sure you’re feeling at ease heading into the big day. But that’s where their role typically ends. MOST day or month of coordinators are like the foreman of your wedding day operations whereas planners are like the architects. They simply direct and help guide everyone where to go to ensure you’re able to celebrate and soak up your special time.

Also note!

Most day or month of coordinators will only begin working with you no earlier than a specific set time before your big day. Some will not even book out clients until a set time before your event (say, 6 months) to ensure boundaries are clear and they don’t accidentally become a full service planner in the process. I have not offered stand alone coordination services since 2010 but can tell you on the day of there are many things that a coordinator may not be responsible for that a full service planner would very likely be doing for you.

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Phew! I hope this helps clear up any confusion anyone has about the various roles or planners, coordinators and venue coordinators. If you have questions or comments about your own experiences please leave them below and I’m happy to help! You can also check out my friend Lauren Grove’s blog Every Last Detail for tons of content about planning an efficient wedding.

Have a happy Monday, everyone! All photos in this post are by Nancy Ray Photography from this editorial.

Xoxo