Always a Bridesmaid … and the adventures of what not to do

Always a Bridesmaid … and the adventures of what not to do

After starring in several weddings as a bridesmaid (yes I said star because HELLOOOOO there’s a camera flashing in your direction all. day. long.), I have had a lot of fun and a lot of tears. Made new friends, lost some friends. Grew closer with others. And of course added to my formal wear section of my closet.
But mostly I have learned a lot of lessons. And because the topic of bridesmaids, do’s and don’t’s and expectations and support is a normal conversation I have with my brides… I wanted to share some of my experiences.
  • I’ve been the Maid of honor.
  • The Overachieving bridemaid
  • The bridesmaid who just showed up for all the parties and went in on the group gift.
  • The one who knows everything about the couple.
  • The one who barley knows the bride.
  • Who barely knows the groom.
  • The one who knows nothing about the couple, including their middles names or even occupation.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I was the jealous bridesmaid. Super duper jealous. I went above and beyond and complained most of the time until I literally gave myself a come to Jesus. This was one of my bestest most closest friends and I was acting a fool.
AND I’ve been the MOH who actually got kicked out of the wedding… After pricing out the bridesmaids dresses, the jewelry, the shoes. Getting that bride and groom phenomenal deals with killer vendors. Including a reception at MY VERY FAVORITE ballroom in town. The one which I imagined for years, making my own grand entrance into the space as the shades went up on the windows to reveal the most beautiful views of St. Louis. Talk about goosebumps. But yes, I loved her and I wanted the beautiful and the best for her so I negotiated with my contacts and got an INCREDIBLE deal for a HOT HOT HOT date. Either way, I got asked to step down and our friendship came to a steep hault. In fact it basically was pushed off a cliff and forgotten. All because I was unable to attend a dress fitting on a weekend in September. BECAUSE I AM A WEDDING PLANNER and WORK EVERY WEEKEND especially in the fall.  Oh and I also wanted to mention this was 14 months BEFORE her wedding. But I get it. Her wedding is important. Your wedding is important. Anyways I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason because I booked another wedding for that date AND I met some super awesome people after that door closed.
I’ve worn brown, and red and purple and persimmon and mocha and blush and black and maroon. And I did get to use them again. I had one ball gown torn apart to add some excitement to a bridesmaid dresses purchased from a consignment shop for a wedding I was planning. And I did wear one again. I wore it to her reception in the states after her destination wedding. And it was cut so low in the front AND the back that I was hiding NO secrets. At 25 years old, I thought this is sexy. But adjusting the “girls” every 2 minutes quickly changed my mind. I felt like I was wearing suspenders and grateful that my parents weren’t on the guest list.
I’ve been the bridesmaid who planned the majority of the wedding. Every little detail. Even spent a huge amount of time planning the best bachelorette parties and showers and creating the most perfect of gifts.
I’ve been the bridesmaid who showed up with NO moolah and NO gift. I was on my 8th month of unemployment and 3rd wedding that summer. I literally caught a ride to get across 3 states to the wedding…
I’ve been the MOH who kicked themselves out of the wedding. Or kindly stepped down, if you will. Sometimes you just have the feeling that you can’t and won’t live up to those expectations. The reason I am sharing this is because I  am human I talk to brides every week about their bridesmaids involvement and what is normal I understand a ton of the experiences of being in a wedding and of planning a wedding I have made the mistakes and know what that looks and feels like Expectations of bridesmaids now vs. 30 years ago are still the same, yet our lives, the               demands, conveniences, our jobs, our priorities are dramatically different. You are busy. Your bridesmaids are busy. We are all busy. It does not mean they don’t care about your wedding. It just means they are living their lives.
When the traditions of bridesmaids getting together to plan elaborate showers and bachelorette parties, making centerpieces, attending all the dress fittings and vendor meetings, were the norm, think about what a young woman’s life was like. Their job was to graduate high school, meet a man, build a home and have babies! Oh and to be pretty. Pretty was very important. Now we are all working, going to school, living independently, dating, volunteering, getting married, having families. And all the while still staying pretty. So basically I’m not saying your bridesmaids shouldn’t partake in all the excitement or all your scheduled events and to just show up day of. I’m merely saying that this is your wedding and it’s important to choose your maids based on your relationship with them. But knowing too that they have a lot going on and that they love you but may not have a ton of time to help glue wine corks together. That is what planners are for. To keep you excited, relaxed and enthusiastic. To keep you on track.   And heck, I am great at crafting. Call me, I love wine and glue guns. But most of all, I love weddings, I understand what your to do list looks like and I can help you stay organized and get you down the aisle to stand next to your bestest buddies, while you say forever to your other half.
Bridezillas: Myth or Reality

Bridezillas: Myth or Reality

It turns out that weddings are a booming business. Especially for those in reality TV production. I have plenty of clients who refer to David Tutera and Kleinfeld’s within the first 10 minutes of our consultation. I never actually paid much attention to these shows because they don’t really showcase all the magic of a wedding to me. And other shows sensationalize the not-so-great parts of a wedding. Sure, that’s awesome for ratings because folks love a little drama, they love to see a girl fly off her handle, demanding the best of the best, having unrealistic expectations and then coin her bridezilla.
Wikictionary defines it as such:
bridezilla (plural bridezillas)
  1. (usually humorous) A woman who, in the course of planning her wedding, exercises or attempts to exercise a high degree of control over all or many minor details of the ceremony and reception.
And exactly what may I ask is wrong with someone who wants to control all of the details?
We live in a society that expects perfection. The perfect job. The perfect house. The perfect body. The perfect clothes. The perfect spouse. The perfect relationship. The list goes on and on and on.
Now of course, daughter of the Life Coach, I know perfection doesn’t exist.
And as a planner of 6 years, I tell every. single. one. of. my. brides. that it won’t go perfectly.
BUT we will put a team of professionals together that will create the best day for you no matter the circumstances.
AND that something little may happen that you can’t control, your mom can’t control, the venue can’t control and that the planner can’t control, etc, etc, etc
BUT this dream team will do their best, I will do my best, to make sure it gets taken care of.
Let go of the idea of perfect.
Once you do that, things will seem way easier.
And not everyone understands this.
And not everyone operates under this idea.
And not everyone understands what it is like to plan a wedding.
You have one day.
One shot. One opportunity. (thank you Eminem)
to create and execute something you have imagined for a long time.
Something that defines your relationship with the person you are marrying.
Something that will entertain your guests.
Something that is breathtaking and beautiful.
Something that will be a night to remember.
That you can look back on with no regrets.
That is A LOT of pressure.
These girls have nightmares about it.
They have opinions being thrown at them from every direction.
They have a budget- and the majority of the time- its hard to stick to and still get everything you want.
They have moms that want it a certain way.
And mommy in laws that want it a certain way.
They have a groom that wants to elope.
They have dads that don’t think the groom is good enough.
And bridesmaids who are jealous that they aren’t getting married first.
And cousins who are mad they aren’t bridesmaids.
And venues that only allow set up 3 hours before show time.
I could keep going….
Oh and by the way, they also have full time jobs- some with multiple jobs.
And kids.
And volunteer.
And take care of their elderly family members.
Oh and did I mention taking care of yourself because you have a gorgeous dress.
You want to look your best.
And you need your sleep while still tracking those hours for work, and making it to the gym at 5am and helping the kids with the homework and keeping up with the laundry or even having a social life.
And there are only 24 hours in a day.
You see, I understand that it is a lot.
Which is why I am in business.
My clients understand the need for someone to help them keep it organized, to stay on track, to offer suggestions, advice, to listen, and to be there every step of the way, especially for those just-in-case moments.
But not everyone works with me. Or is me. Or understands the pressures and struggles of planning while still being a good mom, a daughter, a boss, a co-worker, a partner…
We are human. And it’s normal to get a little anxious with all the added stress.
So yes, you may snap when you didn’t mean to.
And you may cry because you want everyone to be happy.
And you may say things that aren’t true.
I understand that.
And so should, in my opinion, anyone who chooses to work in the wedding industry.
We know what the pressures are, what our clients are trying to manage.
And we certainly shouldn’t judge you for a few slips.
And we won’t take it personally.
Because we are professionals who know that this is normal.
That you are dealing with a lot.
And you will NEVER catch me calling my brides a Bridezilla.
In fact, when folks find out I am a planner, or ask about my business, they 9 times of of 10 say: any bridezillas?
No way jose, because they do not exist in my world.
Only girls who want their day to be magical.
To live up to their expectations, and their parents’ and his parents’ and the bridal party and the guests…
Moral of the story:
Brideszillas are myth. Because we are human.
Just a little wedding cake for thought:
If you are a wedding professional, be that calm, collected individual who offers a shoulder perhaps.
Who lends some kind advice such as: you look amazing, your girls will look amazing and we can find something in your budget.
If you are a family member, friend, co-worker of a bride, don’t take any of it personally; she really doesn’t mean it and she certainly doesn’t hate you.
And if you are the bride, take a deep breath pumpkin, recognize that it won’t be perfect, but in the end you are marrying your best friend.
And if that still doesn’t work, call me, I am a great wedding planner and I happy to help!
Reflections on Joy

Reflections on Joy

What brings you joy? They say life is short, I think we can all agree with that. So why spend your life stressed, unhappy or in a place, job or relationship that is less than fulfilling; that doesn’t bring you true joy? And have you found your joy? What fills you up? I have spent the last few years pondering this question. Journaling almost daily, having an attitude of gratitude (thank you Oprah), reciting affirmations and studying countless courses and books on self discovery. And here is what I have found… only when I finally slowed down to really sit and think about it, it turned out it was way simpler than I thought. It wasn’t money. Although that does make things a wee bit easier and it allows you distraction from these simple, yet challenging questions. It wasn’t getting a promotion or working the extra hour, extra day, extra weekend. It wasn’t having the perfect body. It wasn’t having the newest, latest and greatest fashions. Although looking good is feeling good. It wasn’t and certainly isn’t winning awards and being recognized by my peers. Although that feels pretty spectacular. And it wasn’t being in a relationship. It was waaaaaayyyyyy easier than that.
It is rolling on the floor with my dogs.
Scratching their bellies while their tongues dangle outside their mouths.
Legs kicking the air.
It is holding a baby and watching him sleep soundly.
Patting his bottom.
Rocking back and forth.
Imagining all the little dreams he is dreaming.
It is going for a walk, breathing in the chilly winter air as I listen to my feet crunch through the snow.
It clears my head and heart.
The stillness is so incredibly calming.
And so full of possibility.
It is seeing the sunrise as the world awakens.
It is listening to my dad tell the silliest of jokes while my mom gives him a look of disapproval.
I love this the most.
It is enjoying a cup of coffee and people watching.
It is getting REAL mail in my mail box… bills do not count.
It is laughing so hard I cry.
It is catching up with an old friend.
At a baseball game.
The crowd. The energy. It’s magnetic.
And the beers aren’t bad either…
It is wrapping a gift in the prettiest of papers with the biggest of bows and watching someone open it.
I love giving gifts.
It is spending time with my sisters as they try to outwit each other in a game of Apples to Apples.
It is watching two people fall in love.
It is seeing someone gain their confidence.
To finally see the beauty in themselves.
The beauty that you already knew they had.
It is baking a pie.
From scratch.
All by myself
…. or with the supervision of a really good cook.
Thanks Dave.
Birthday parties.
Giving back.
Bundling up in the freezing cold to go to a Bears game with my college buds.
A little kid’s laugh.
It’s meeting new friends. It’s connection.
It’s becoming more and more like my best friend, my role model and my mom.
It’s climbing into my own bed
in my own house every night
and realizing that I love the life I have created.
It’s waking up each day with a clean slate.
With direction and purpose.
With enthusiasm and love.
With gratitude for my life, my family, my friends.
That’s what brings me joy.
That’s what fills my heart.
Post Valentine’s Day Sentiments

Post Valentine’s Day Sentiments

It’s no big shocker that I love Valentine’s day and all things love… in fact I love LOVE all year round 365 days a year. I think about it morning, noon and night. I pin it, I quote it, I post it, I cover it in glitter and hang it on my wall, I put it in envelopes and send it in the mail. I want everyone to feel my love every day. But most especially on Valentine’s Day!
Making homemade valentine’s!
Yesterday, the news feeds were full of flower and v day deliveries, engagements, well wishes for a happy Valentine’s Day. I loved every part of it! And then there were others announcing that they didn’t need a special day to say I love you. That’s awesome. You and me both. I will shout it from the roof tops every day. A really awesome guy and friend of mine Gebbs posted this and I thought- yes, he has the right idea too. So kudos to those who spread the love everyday like us!
But not all of us are like that. Some of us need that special day. Like Thanksgiving we give thanks and gratitude and show that with family gatherings full of turkey, pumpkin pie and football. Grand tradition might I add. And then there’s Fourth of July, we celebrate our freedom once a year with fireworks and barbeques. It’s all about honoring and traditions and we could talk about every holiday. Sure we should be grateful for our lives, friends, family and freedom every day… but do we? Do we record it in a gratitude journal, pray about it at church or do we go about our daily lives until its time to plan the menu and send out the invitations? I really loved what my friend Cherie, President of Wedding Network USA said about V day. What I love even more is that fact that I just screen shot it and uploaded to share. Technology can be fun!
Not everyone was all about celebrating love all year round. Some were just flat out snarky about their co-workers receiving big bouquets of flowers. Who cares if someone is in a new relationship and wants to shower their honey. It doesn’t mean anything about you. There is no need to rain on anyone’s parade. It doesn’t make you a bad person because you didn’t do the same for your honey. You should be happy that your co-worker found someone that loves and adores them and wants to do nice things for them.
Evie, my funny Valentine!
Already hanging on my wall!
Already hanging on my wall!Or the single folks who complain that it’s singles awareness day. Honestly, I am the epitome of a single girl. I am always single on valentine’s day. Like the last 10 years. No joke. I have a history of short romances none of which have actually fallen on v day. Except one. And he worked at a florist. I loved that v day. HEEEELLLLLOOOOO flowers! But seriously why do you have to make being single on valentine’s day a bad thing? Why not go out with your single friends and have a good time? Why are we complaining and making this a day to be sad? So you aren’t in a relationship on this particular day, but I bet there are several people out there that you love and that love you and you sure can share that with them. In fact, I claimed a 3 year old as my valentine and I am proud of it!!! Ash and Evie– click here to see how cheesy, adorable and fun we are! But, I can’t control what people post, or their opinions or what they are feeling on the inside. All I can do is spread the love… and share a few of my favorite things (insert Kenny Rogers singing because I heart him too) from yesterday. These things make me soooooo happy and I love to see other people sooooo happy so I hope you all enjoy them as much as I did.
Favorite Photo: Brad was classmate of mine growing up who returned from a 7 month deployment. Totally reminds me of Alfred Eisenstadt’s Kissing the War Goodbye. I did not ask permission to share this either so I hope they don’t mind me bragging about them. I love how chic she is in her big hat, polished nailed and pearl earrings and that he is in uniform and gosh, you can almost feel how strong and tight that embrace is can’t you? I bet this was followed by several hundred more kisses. xooxox
Favorite Engagement: I am bias as I know them personally, but at least I am admitting it.
Congrats Liz and Nick!
I know a great wedding planner 🙂
Favorite Valentine: (don’t tell Evie) goes to a dear dear friend of mine from college, Jacqui!
Check this out- a singing telegram that her beau Josh sent to her work.
I gotta know, does Josh have a brother???
However you spent February 14th, I hope it was magical and that you woke up today full of joy and love.
And I hope you continue to wake up every day with that same joy and love.
And if you don’t, I am happy to assist by sending you that joy and love!
The Few. The Proud. The Gung Ho Groom.

The Few. The Proud. The Gung Ho Groom.

I am a constant chatterbox about my brides and how much I love them. How I love working with them and creating the wedding that they have imagined. Bringing it all together piece by piece, detail by detail, month by month until it’s day by day and then hour by hour. I take on their goosebumpy “that’s-the-perfect-song” moment, their nightmares of being late, the dress not fitting, going to the wrong venue, the colors being wrong (they all get them), the excitement of marrying their best friend, the stress of keeping everyone happy, overcoming the last minute changes and challenges… I heart it all. And I heart being a part of it. And I heart that bond that we build from day one that lasts until well after the wedding is over. From house warmings, to happy hours, to baby showers, I cherish them all.
Left- Allison Martin, married June 2013 Right- Alison Shubert, married December 2012
But let us not forget my beloved grooms. Ashley and Eric Anderson, married June 2013  
In 10 plus years of event planning and six specializing in weddings, I’ve had two grooms- two total- that were: go big or go home for their weddings. It’s a must talk about since these fellas are few and far between and it’s impossible not to adore them. Whatever she (the bride) wants. Chair covers, huge floral arrangements, candelabras, a video screening, lots and lots of pink, a Hawiian honeymoon.
Shelby: My colors are blush and bashful M’Lynn: Her colors are pink and pink
And boy oh boy did she love it. Gina that is. JR was my numero uno gung ho groom and he will forever hold a special place in my heart. In fact when I said he did all the planning, I mean, he did it all. I didn’t even meet his other half until the wedding day. And he couldn’t wait for her to arrive, be the princess bride, experience this wedding she dreamed of, and be totally surprised.
And my numero dos in the gung ho groom department is John. I have to share this story because it brings me so much joy. So much joy that I have to brag. At our first meeting last fall, I ask John and the love of his life to tell me about what they are envisioning for their big day. And here is what John announces: “The theme is Rat Pack. Uplighting. Purple for sure. Come January 1st, all the groomsmen are going on diets because I’m going to look hot and they are going to look hot. Whatever Kari wants. She’s going to be so beautiful and I’m so excited to spend my whole life with her. And we need you there to make sure we are doing it right because I’ve waited 13 years for this day and I want it perfect.
John if you weren’t engaged, I would propose to you.
Because you get it.
And damn it, I love how much you love this sweet girl with the long blonde hair, the most contagious giggle who looks at you with those big blue eyes and replies to that entire prelude with: “John, whatever you want.”  
Thanks for letting me brag on you both. So looking forward to your wedding and every moment in between.
BOOM! And that’s what it’s all-a-bout! I just did the hokey pokey people. No joke. And I turned myself around. Leg up and clapped. You’re welcome for the visual. Of the hokey, not Kari and John, they are too cute. And yes John, you do have a job with Signed Sealed Delivered Events as a planner after your wedding. As per usual, Ms. Manion and my BFF Katie, if you are reading this, please forgive the run-on’s, fragments, mis-puncuations, grammar mistakes, etc. I claim it as part of my charm, contrary to popular belief, it’s not to annoy you… or is it???