February 2012 Archive

Pep Talk Tuesday {Picking A Wedding Venue Part II}

Last week I chatted a bit about what to ask a wedding venue before you sign on the dotted line. Today I have a bit more to spill to all you soon-to-bes before you make that huge financial investment into the place that’ll be the backdrop for your big day. One of the mistakes Apb and I made when we selected our venue, is we were way oblivious to all the things we really should have been more proactive about. Your wedding venue really sets so many other wedding-related decisions in motion, so picking the perfect place should be done with caution and purpose. And a little wine if needed. Yeah, it can get that stressful.

{Find out what your venue can really offer aside from space} Many wedding venues these days bundle their packages together with things like Chiavari chairs, chair covers, linens, plate chargers, a ceremony space or free wedding night accommodations. Knowing upfront what items are available to you, lets you plan accordingly and also allows you to ask if you can receive a credit back should you decide to skip out on something your venue can provide you with, to source out and bring in your own.

{Be careful about exclusive/preferred vendors} It can be great to secure a coveted reception spot that suddenly has your date open, except you come to find out that you can’t use the photographer or florist you’ve already put a deposit down on. Some venues only allow preferred vendors, exclusive to their space, to be on board with their events, meaning vendors previously hired on your part are not welcome. Avoid this sort of mess by asking upfront what your venue’s particular policy is.

{Inquire about the bar recommendations and cost} There seems to be an industry standard that at an event, one bartender is sufficient per 100 guests. Yet, extra bartenders are kind of like an extra set of house keys when you’re locked out on your front porch; it can be wonderfully convenient and practical to have them. While it’s hard to predict what kind of drinks your guests will be ordering (mixed drinks versus say bottles) asking for an extra bartender can keep a nice flow to your bar line up.

Did any of you run into these problems when you were on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue? I have heard such awful stories about brides finding their dream venue only to discover they can’t work with their fave vendors. The photo above is from the wonderful Jen Lynne who photographed one of my weddings last August. Kelli and Brandon held their reception at St. Cecilias Music Center downtown Grand Rapids and I can’t say enough great things. Happy Tuesday, bloggies! xoxo

Stepping Outside the Box

When I was little, like first grade little, my Mom bought me the most atrocious and humiliating red blazer. I have to say I hated it. It was weird and too fitted for my six-year-old frame. It felt too grown up when all I wanted were sweaters with something like unicorns on them. I wanted what all the other kids wore to school. I wanted to fit in and feel safe. While all my classmates were wearing seemingly appropriate kid outfits to our annual photo day, I was the kid with the bob cut and red blazer. Cool.

Yet on that one specific photo day in first grade, my Mom was so sure I would wear that red blazer in my photo. And I on the other hand, was so sure I would not. Carefully explaining to my teacher that it was in fact fine to leave the blazer behind in my cubby while we marched down to the gymnasium for photos – “Don’t worry Mrs. White, the jacket is not for photo day” – I felt like I had outsmarted my mother and her sorta whacky fashion sense. I smiled for the camera and proceeded to walk back to our room with a pep in my step. Unicorn sweater or not, I was going to look like every other pig-tail adorned kid that day.

Until I hopped into my Mom’s car when she came to get me for lunch that day. “How did photos go?” she asked. “Good” I replied, sure to leave out any details of my wrong doing. “You made sure to wear your blazer didn’t you?” she directed towards me in the back seat. And if any of you know me well, you’ll know lying isn’t my strong suit. Before I knew it, instead of eating my usual bowl of KD mac and cheese for lunch, I was back in the gymnasium, sheepishly looking down at my boots (were they cowboy boots Ma?) as my Mother made the photographer reset up his equipment to reshoot my photos. My mother kindly informed the photographer that I had forgotten to wear my new jacket. Kids those days, huh? What did we know!

See, this past weekend, I went to a bridal show here in Grand Rapids. I was helping out with Jeanette’s wedding flower booth and we ended up chatting with a photographer near the end of day two. And when we were commenting on how slow the day seemed to go, we branched out into discussion about the industry in our market. How can we make positive changes? How can we reinvent the way the industry within our market approaches weddings? How can we make our tiny but wonderful market better? How can we use our voices and our businesses to better educate people who are planning their wedding day?

And really, it’s stepping a little outside of that box. It’s making prices, that are competitive, yet logical, and sticking to them. It’s about knowing we, way up here in Michigan, DO have fantastic things to offer to the industry and to brides and grooms state-wide. It’s about always striving to be better and to set that bar higher and higher with each event. It’s remembering to wear those ‘ugly’ red blazers, even when we need a little push outside our comfort zone to actually wear em out in public.

Just to clarify, in hindsight that blazer really wasn’t that bad. So thanks for giving me a innate sense of style but most importantly, the ability to feel ok with stepping outside of the box in life, Mom. I love you. Photo above by the fab Tonya Peterson who helped make this shoot a a possibility even though it was way outside of the box. Happy Monday xoxo

Ash + Dallas {E-session by Elizabeth in Love}

Alright, alright I know what you’re all thinking, guys. “But Rhi, you have such good looking couples!” And although I’m slightly biased like a mother who claims her kids are the cutest, I have to say I do have some pretty phenomenal clients. Ashley and Dallas, whose good looks are among the hundreds of other qualities that make them so sweet, will be getting married in just a few short months this June. Not only will I get to kick off the start of HGE’s 2012 season with these cuties as the main stars, but I get to work alongside one of my fave photographers and one of my best girlfriends, Beth from Elizabeth in Love. Ash and I have been working together on getting all the special details in line for her big day, and all I can do is try my best to contain my excitement. Wedding gods, you are good to me. Too good to me. Enjoy some of Beth and I’s fave shots from the soon to be’s session last fall. Happy Wednesday, blogettes xo

The cutest little front porch that Ash and Dallas call home. I love. You know what else I love? How Ash and I went to the same high school yet we didn’t even know each other. I also love some sweet little tidbits Ash dished to me about Dallas like how they first met and fell in love. But I’ll save those sweet stories for when I share their wedding photos this summer :)

Ashley, you are gorgeous! You are going to take everyone’s breath away in just a few short months.

Dallas you’re looking pretty handsome yourself. I can hardly wait to meet you soon!

Tell me now, which shot is your absolute fave? I think the first photo with the minty blue wall and Ashley looking off to the right makes my day (and would make a totally cute canvas. Obviously.) Many thanks to Beth for sharing the eye candy!

Pep Talk Tuesday {Picking A Wedding Venue Part I}

This past weekend, I had a virtual consult with my newest bride, who happens to be such a total sweetheart. Her wedding decor is going to combine really natural and rustic elements with punches of gold and whimsical little details (this girl works for Xbox; totally rad right?) and well, here’s the dress she bought. It’s been one of my faves ever since it came out last season. Nicole and I have been on the hunt recently for a perfect venue location that won’t break the bank and we may have found a winner on Saturday. In light of our little chat on Saturday, I thought I’d give all you newly engaged (or venue searching brides!) a little three part series on what to ask your venue before you sign on the dotted line. Read on for more of Part I.

{Stay organized from the start} Picking and paying for your wedding venue, can be a hefty emotional and financial investment. So many decisions have to be put on the back burner before you pick a venue and feeling stuck in a corner can be stressful. To start the selection process, pick no more than five venues that are your top picks and from there, narrow in on places that offer more of what you want and less of what you don’t. Rule out venues that don’t have your date available, venues that are completely out of your price range, or venues that aren’t licensed to serve alcohol (believe it or not these kinds of venues exist!)

{Get to know your venue coordinator!} If you haven’t hired a wedding planner, first hurry and go read this here, and then secondly, if you still want to plan sans planner, make sure you really get a feel for your venue coordinator, their responsibilities on the day of, and really just how invested and interested they are in the venue, their job and your big day. A venue coordinator, should you not have hired an outside wedding planner/day of coordinator, really needs to be someone you can trust, that can accommodate your requests (within reason of course) and that will be dependable should a problem arise.

{Be invested and inquistive of the obvious} Don’t forget to ask about and see for yourself, all the little things that we too often assume are already taken care of with wedding venues. Washroom facilities (how many stalls there are, are the facilities wheelchair accessible, are they kept clean), parking capacity and cost, pet-friendly ceremony spaces, alcohol boundaries (some places with outdoor terraces or decks don’t allow drinks outside); you can assume you know the answers to the above mentioned, but it never hurts to ask so that you can plan your big day details accordingly. Photo above via AWP.

What sort of questions did any of you find valuable to ask your venue about? The above photo is the wedding venue from our big day and I hate to admit there were tons of questions I wish we would have asked prior to committing. But stay tuned for more details on that in next week’s second post on what to ask your venue before signing! Happy Tuesday babes xoxo


I’m getting better at finding it. This weekend I planned a day full of sweet little surprises for Apb in celebration of Valentines Day (which we didn’t get to celebrate on the 14th since my day was spent selling hundreds of pretty bouquets). If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw a few of my romantic efforts from Saturday, like pretty pink and red balloons floating along our dining room ceiling, duh! But Saturday evening and most of yesterday was spent getting work done, organizing my disasterous email inbox, getting in my every other day work out and feeling like I’ve finally found a healthy balance between what I have to do and what I want to do. Does that make sense? It’s never made more sense to me. I think I sort of love that.

I have posts for the rest of this week planned. Like preblogged posts. I sort of fell off the blogging band wagon at the end of January with a few personal things that happened and I felt dissapointed in myself for leaving you guys, all of my wonderful readers, hanging. I totally missed blogging my goals for February which really bummed me out! But this little trip over here inspired me to figure it all out and get back into the swing of things. I used to get told all the in my years as a collegiate gymnast, that it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. What counts is how many times you get back up.

Cheers today to getting back up. Make your week count, all you beautiful people xoxo

P.S. The winner of the Fine and Fleurie giveaway is Jamie, who wrote that the piece would match her color scheme perfectly! Congrats to you Jamie and please email me at your convenience to claim your prize. Photo above via the fab Beth.