Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Things NOT to do at an outdoor wedding

Outdoor weddings can be beautiful, especially in the Fall, but don't believe everything you see on pinterest!  In the south, there are some things you have to watch out for and eliminate. Here are some lessons learned from a recent outdoor wedding we did at a Lake House in Mississippi:

1. Do NOT forget that it will most likely be daytime when your guests arrive! Have cold water available for guests as they wait for the ceremony to start. In the South, at least, it can still be very hot during the day.  Make sure you keep your guests hydrated with iced water.  If its feasible, provide shaded areas over your ceremony seating and hand fans or parasols if shade is not an option.
2. Do NOT forget to mic your officiant. No matter how loud you think he can project, wind and outdoor noises will drown out his voice...and yours when you're saying your vows!
3. Do NOT forget to have bug spray available for guests.  You can tuck cans of it in baskets in the restrooms and in spots that photos won't catch them in the background.
4. Do NOT assume you are immune to wind. Stay away from tall floral centerpieces if its windy outside.  They will fall over. So will pipe and drape.  Instead, if you want a tall element, use sculptures or tall, heavy cylinder glass with low floating candles and flowers.
5. Do NOT place your cake outdoors. This is the one everyone hates to hear, but just don't do it!  If you need bug spray to keep the mosquitoes off of your guests, the cake needs protection too.  To prove this point, here is a photo, taken about an hour after it got dark at our last outdoor wedding.  Note:  this cake has butter cream icing. The Groom's cake was fondant and bugs did not stick to it, but it did sweat.  So unless you like your cake with a side of West Nile, keep it indoors.
So gross. How did we handle this???
Most cakes have a pretty thick icing layer.  
When we cut the cake, we took the smooth edge of the knife and 
scraped off the outermost portion of icing, then served the cake bug-free.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

AAE & B&B ...a wedding planner Q&A

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Q&A Collaboration with


Borrowed & Blue knows that everyone in the world deserves a beautiful wedding—but that weddings are so different between one area and another! That’s why it’s so important for local couples, and all of us over at B&B HQ, to connect with amazing vendors who know these wedding spaces better than anyone. Enter: all of the fabulous New Orleans wedding vendors we know and love, like All About Events! Carolyn was born and raised in NOLA, so I can’t imagine a better guide to plan your day. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Carolyn is such a fun person to query about what makes New Orleans weddings so special. I’m so excited to read what she has to say about this amazing city! 
- Helen, Borrowed & Blue’s New Orleans Market Specialist


Thank you, Borrowed and Blue, for choosing me to represent New Orleans! I’m so happy to be able to share my city with your readers and all of the couples that choose New Orleans for their destination weddings.  I hope I can give you a glimpse of what the city can offer and what it means to me. 
-Carolyn Arthurs, All About Events

Q&A 
1. Carolyn! Tell us a bit about how you got your start in this industry.
When I look back on my family growing up, I think I was destined to be an event planner.  My mother was very creative and for all of my birthday parties, she followed a theme.  If I loved Raggedy Ann, the cake, the decor, and even my dress for the day were all handmade to create that  theme.  I think that was really my true start, but I didn’t actually do any work in events until I was 18 years old and a friend got me a Summer job working on a golf tournament for the New Orleans Saints.  That was my first “event” and it's when I had my initial thoughts of doing this for a living.


2. How would you describe your event aesthetic—in 5 words or less?
"Comfortable Elegance"


3. What is something you wish every couple knew before planning their wedding?
I wish every couple knew that what they see on TV and internet is not always real.  Wedding reality shows, Pinterest, and other sites are all great for researching ideas, but just because you see something online doesn’t mean it can be done on your budget.  A lot of the posts are setup as photo shoots and aren’t from real events with normal budgets.


4. When you first meet with a couple, what is the most important question you ask them to get to  
If the couple has chosen New Orleans as their theme or destination, I always ask “Why New Orleans?”   The answer usually tells me how they met or grew up and what they love about the city.  That gives me my starting point for prioritizing my event design.



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5. Tell us your favorite moment in a wedding day and why you love it.
My favorite moment is when the bridal party has walked up the aisle and the flower girl has tossed her petals and I signal the bride that it's her turn to walk. She’s usually excited and nervous at the same time. I have her pause at the beginning of the aisle so I can fluff her train and then, with a gentle pat on her back, I send her up the aisle.  That moment is always the most pure and meaningful to me because that’s when emotions are raw.  That step, as she walks away, is the first step toward the rest of her life.





6. We’re a little over halfway through the 2016 wedding season, but the fall has yet to come! What trends are you seeing and enjoying, or seeing and disliking?
I love the fact that couples are choosing timeless colors and decor.  Whether the wedding is heavily themed or just a certain color palette, couples can look back later and not have to think “Can you believe we chose that??”  I also can’t say I’m mad at the fact that burlap is on its way out!



7. What tips do you have for newly engaged folks?
Don’t start planning your wedding the day after you get engaged.  Take some time to just be in that place in life together.  Wedding planning can be stressful and you don’t want to remember your engagement only as the stressed out time you took to plan your wedding.  


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8. You’re a NOLA girl through and through, I hear! Describe your dream day in the city.
My ancestors have a mix of European origin, but when people ask me my heritage, I say "I’m New Orleanian."  There’s something about being from here, and having at least 3 generations of my family before me from here, that makes the actual makeup of my DNA irrelevant.  I love to experience the uniqueness of this city and I know that uniqueness is reflected in me.  A perfect day in my city would be in the Fall, when the heat and humidity are most bearable.  In true NOLA style, I wouldn’t plan the day.  I’d just go where city calls me. And if I’m lucky, there’ll be a poboy, some beignets, Mardi Gras Indians, and a brass band somewhere along the way!




 9. What makes New Orleans weddings unique?
One thing that locals don’t do at a wedding in New Orleans is sit. The traditional New Orleans wedding doesn’t include any sit-down dinner.  There’s no formal seating plan. In fact, there isn’t even a chair for every guest.  From start to finish the food, the music, and the bar have people on their feet dancing, mingling, and having a great time.  That’s not to say that every destination client should have that style of wedding.  Sometimes the goal needs to be a mix of what’s comfortable for the guests and the style of the city, without losing the integrity of why the client chose New Orleans in the first place.


10. One last thing! Share a favorite memory (funny, silly, touching—your choice!) from a wedding you planned.
I have so many unforgettable memories from the weddings I’ve planned and the couples who have entrusted me with such an important moment in their lives. But perhaps the one I think will be burned in my brain forever was with a very sweet and shy bride.  She barely spoke, letting her fiance do most of the talking. She never complained and seemed ever-content with everything that comes with the whirlwind of wedding planning.  On the day of the wedding, when I was about to create that favorite moment of fluffing her train and sending her up the aisle in the outdoor garden she’d chosen for her venue, one of those awful party buses, painted bright purple and blaring music in the street, approached the block of the venue.  The guests were already standing in anticipation of the bride’s entrance and all eyes were on her.  My planning brain went into hyper-mode.  Do I walk down a block and stand in the street so the bus has to go a different way?  Do I send her up the aisle and hope the bus driver has some compassion and shuts off the music?  Do I hold the bride there and wait for the bus to pass?  But before I could make my decision, this demure and quiet bride, in her beautiful gown, with all of the guests watching, turned toward the bus, shook her bouquet in the air and yelled at the top of her lungs, “SHUT THE F#%* UP!!!”
The audience burst into applause, cheering as the bus passed.  It no longer mattered how obnoxious the bus was.  The bride stole back her moment. 


Thank you, Helen, for the questions! 
Make sure to check out Borrowed & Blue—their site can help you find awesome New Orleans wedding photographers and more!
 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

7 steps to plan your wedding second line

There are quite a few steps involved in planning your second line parade in New Orleans.  Before you get your heart set on one, there are 3 things to consider:
1. The Weather
New Orleans is a rainy city.  There are very few, if any, days of the year that are notoriously rain-free.  If your wedding is set for Winter, Spring, or Summer, you have a higher rain possibility.  Fall is better, but still not guaranteed dry. Your best bet is November or Mid-February, when the weather tends to be mild and breezy.  
2. Your Budget
A true second line consists of the following elements:
•A live brass band (average $700-900 for a 20 min second line)
•3-4 Police Escorts ($100 each)*
•City Permit ($50.25)*
•NOPD administration fee ($25.00)*
*These payments are required to be made with money orders or certified checks, so there's no charging the amounts on your credit card.
•At least one decorated umbrella (average $60-150 ea)
•Second line handkerchiefs (average $20 per dozen customized)
•Pedicabs for those that aren't able to walk ($50 plus tip for each reserved cab)
3. Your Location
If your wedding is in the CBD or in an area that is not populated with crowds, you won't get the full experience you see on Pinterest and The Knot.  The major element of excitement comes from the reaction of an audience, who consists of those locals and tourists who come out of the restaurants and bars of the French Quarter to watch and take your picture as you pass by.  Some may even join in! That's all part of the fun! 

Now that you know the 3 things to consider, and you've decided a second line will work for you, there are 7 steps to take. To make it happen can be daunting, but if you're patient and diligent you'll get it done. Here are the steps in order:
1. Book your band
Simply Google "second line bands" and you'll see many options. 
2. Apply for your permit 
This includes coming up with a route.  Routes must follow the flow of traffic and you can't parade on Bourbon Street after 8pm. 6-8 blocks = 15-20 minutes
The application can be found on the city permit website.  Search for "NOLA One stop" to find the link.
3. Submit your two applications: the Master and the Parade.  Save your application reference number for future communication
4. Order your hankies
There are online resources and local shops that create them with a template that includes a stock or custom logo  and three or four lines of text. 
5. Create or order your umbrella.  
If you're crafty, you can order the plain umbrella online and decorate it yourself.  If not, there are people (like me!) who can make them for you.  My umbrellas start at $60 each. Carolyn@allaboutevents.net
6. Follow up.
One month before the wedding, when you still don't have your permit or invoice, contact the email address on your confirmationemail or call the city of New Orleans permit office and get a status update.  This is where it can get nerve-wracking. It's not uncommon for you to get a permit and invoice the week of your wedding.  The city is very busy with requests and they will lose track of dates unless you keep on top of the process.
7. Confirm your band
About a month before the wedding, check in with your band and make sure the start time is the same as when you first booked it. Sometimes your plans change and this is one thing you'll forget to communicate. Check in again the week before the wedding just to be sure they have been paid in full or payment has been arranged for the day-of (if you have a planner this is ok, otherwise pay in advance).

And finally, if this all seems a bit overwhelming and the thought of city hall and lengthy applications stresses you out, there's a one-step option.  
1. Send me an email!
I can plan your second line for you! Just drop me a note at carolyn@allaboutevents.net

Happy Planning!...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

TOP 5 Do's and Don'ts of the DIY Wedding

Top 5 Do's and Don'ts of the DIY Wedding

Everyone loves to save money, which is why, in my opinion, DIY is so popular.  The sense of accomplishment is much greater when you DIY instead of paying someone else, and the story of saving cash and turning your old suitcase into a mini bar is much more interesting than "I bought it at Home Goods".  Nothing against HG. I love the place...a bit too much, admittedly.  

So it's not a wonder why brides want to try to DIY as much as possible.  Even the biggest budgets like to have a personal stake in the design cred.  But there are some serious do's and don'ts when it comes to the DIY wedding.  

Here are my lists of my top 5 for each:

DO DIY
•Address the wedding invitations
•Make Wedding favors
•Create Sign-in table decor
•Make Bridal party gifts
•Assemble Bouquets, if you're crafty

DON'T DIY
•Centerpieces
*unless they are completely assembled 30 days before the wedding and you have less than 10 of them total.
•The bar/catering
•The wedding/groom's cake
*even if you're an award winning baker!-- Just don't.
•The DJ music list
•Your day-of management

For more tips on DIY, or to know why I chose the items on these lists as my top 5, send me a message! Carolyn@AllAboutEvents.net or comment on this blog.  

Happy Planning!



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Top 5 tips for Choosing your Wedding Venue


Your wedding venue choice is a multi-layer decision.  How many people? Indoor or outdoor? Turn-key or DIY?....here's a handy list of 5 tips to help you narrow down the prospects:

1. How many people are you inviting? Assume 80-85% of those guests will attend (applies to New Orleans weddings).
2. Do you want a chair for everyone? Most people outside of New Orleans have sit-down dinners for all or part of their reception.  Are your guests traveling to the city? Will they be lost without a seat? If so, you can have a chair for everyone but have open seating to keep the mood light.  (the NOLA tradition is to have only 60% seating and high boys for the rest).  Some venues include tables and chairs.
3. Do you want an indoor, outdoor, or combination wedding? In New Orleans you ALWAYS need a rain plain.  There is no safe month from showers.
4. Do you want amplified music? Some venues have limits on how loud and how late your music can be, so get those guidelines in advance, before you fall in love with a space.
5. How much can you afford? To figure that out, take the budget for the wedding (average $150pp in New Orleans, but it can be done for less) and multiply that by 35%.  This is the average portion of a wedding budget that's spent on the catering and bar.  If your venue is charging a room rental fee on top of food and beverage, or if it allows outside catering and only charges for the room, you need to take the venue rental fee out of your budget and use the remaining as your bottom line. Now that you have your catering and bar number, is it enough to fit with the options your dream venue provides?

Those are my top 5 tips for choosing your wedding venue. Happy Planning!

 Need help? Find out more about All About Events planning packages at www.AllAboutEvents.net!