Monday, June 21, 2010

A Flawless Contest!

We are teaming up with Memories by Erin Leigh for a special summer Flawless contest!
A little about Erin Leigh in her own words:

"My passion is capturing important moments in life and remembering them through meaningful photographs. To me a well-taken photograph is more than just a beautiful image, it is a memory."

Erin is based out of Sarasota although she travels throughout the Tampa Bay area. She has special packages for brides who want bridal portraits on the day of their hair and makeup trial - a unique idea which makes a lot of sense for busy brides. She is able to capture them during a relaxed time while they are still "done up" but without the stress and time constraints of their wedding day. Erin also loves to preserve the memories of the smaller parties - the rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, and brunches.

So how can you win a free portrait session with Memories by Erin Leigh? Just send us a short description of one of your favorite memories you have made with your fiance and a fun photo of the two of you. We'll choose our favorite ones and then let our blog readers vote on the winner! All submissions must be received by midnight on Sunday, July 4th, so hurry up and email them in to

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Great Tips for Finding a Wedding Planner

At least once a month, someone asks me how I became a wedding planner. My story isn't that exciting... I always loved planning parties and events. I planned some for my sorority (events that ranged from 30 guests to over 200 guests) and a large banquet for the University of Florida's college of Education when I was a graduate student, but it didn't really lead me into anything until a few years ago when I started working as a bridal consultant at Alfred Angelo. Following my experiences there working with brides and other industry professionals, I met and interned for Beth and eventually earned my spot as a coordinator here at Flawless Occasions. Yes, there were multiple steps on my path, but I think all of them lead me to become a better and more experienced coordinator.
Beth, on the other hand, was in the event planning industry for several years at the corporate level and transitioned over to the wedding planning industry a few years ago. She also planned events for a large non-profit organization in Orlando for many years.
But unlike us, some people try to start from scratch and immediately start their own wedding planning business. They will even call themselves "experienced" because they planned their own wedding, or helped a friend with their wedding. Buyer beware, because real experience is important when handling the biggest day in a couple's lives. Although everyone has to start somewhere, being someone's first or second wedding client is a risk that you need to be aware of before you hire a newbie wedding planner.
This article from has some great tips on how to find a legit wedding planner -- some of these tips can also be applicable to finding other vendors as well, especially the tips specific to contracts and payments.

The recent "work a
t home" business boom has created companies who offer rapid "certification" programs for wedding, party and event consultants, coordinators and planners. For a few hundred dollars you too can become a "certified" wedding or event planner. Unfortunately, there are a number of inexperienced "planners" and "consultants" and "coordinators" running around with "certified" stamps on their foreheads hoping that people will buy into believing that "certified" means "experienced". Selecting an experienced planner, consultant or coordinator is essential if you are going to have a worry free and problem free wedding. There are just too many details that can easily be overlooked or messed up to trust your wedding to someone who has never planned a wedding before. Be sure to inquire about the planner's experience and the number of weddings they have coordinated.

Ask to obtain several recent references from the wedding consultant or planner so you can check their clients satisfaction level. If they are not willing to share several recent references with you, don't waste time. Move on to another wedding planner.

Services that are offered will vary and can range from simple consulting services to make the job of "doing it yourself" easier, to complete "start to finish" coordination of your wedding. A consultant usually takes a more passive role and may simply offer "guidance" in areas where you may not be familiar while allowing you to do it yourself. On the other hand, a full service wedding planner or coordinator will provide more "hands on" expertise and take an active role in planning and supervising your wedding, handling everything from working with you to establish a workable budget, to selecting the best suppliers at the best price, to addressing and sending wedding invitations, to on-site supervision of the components of the actual wedding. Depending upon your budget you will have to decide which level of service is right for you.

When you speak to different wedding planners, take notes and determine your comfort level with the specific planner. Do they seem to listen and understand what you have in mind?

  • Inquire about the fee structure and obtain a written outline of the fees or an estimate of the costs involved.

  • Do they charge by the hour or based on a specified percentage of the total wedding cost? (A percentage based fee is not really a preferred arrangement since the wedding planner makes more money when the wedding costs more - which offers the planner very little incentive to save you money.)

  • Find out specifically what you are getting for your money, which areas of the wedding planning process they are taking care of and which areas they are not taking care of.

  • Ask if, in addition to the fee they charge you, they also receive a fee from the vendors that they contract for your wedding. If your goal is to receive the best value, planners who charge vendors should probably be avoided since the fee they charge the vendor sometimes (frequently) is "built -in" to the vendor's charges to the client. This is pretty much like paying the planner twice, isn't it?

    *The above also applies to wedding and special event facilities who have an "approved" vendor list and who receive a fee from the approved vendors for requiring the client to use their services. Remember though, that just because a facility may have a vendor list does not mean that they automatically charge the vendor a fee. This is a question you will need to ask the wedding facility.

  • Payment for the wedding planner's fee is also something to discuss initially. Normally, the planner will charge a retainer in advance that either covers a percentage of the anticipated total or for a specific number of hours of service. The balance is then payable either in periodic time billing amounts prior to the wedding - or in full at the conclusion of the wedding - or a combination of the two.

  • Avoid paying 100% of all fees in advance unless you know that the wedding planner has a rock solid reputation. From a practical standpoint, it is usually best to reserve final payment until the conclusion of the event - just in case something goes wrong due to negligence on the part of the wedding planner.

  • Payments to vendors contracted on your behalf by a wedding planner will either be paid by you directly or paid by the wedding planner from funds paid by you to the planner for that purpose. When paying the planner for services provided by contracted vendors, be sure to obtain the ORIGINAL invoice copies rather than paying from a statement.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Steals!

Summer is here... and although most people are already complaining about the sweltering heat and the mid-afternoon thunderstorms, there are some reasons to celebrate summer!
There are TONS of fun giveaways in the wedding industry! Here are just a few from around the web, and stay tuned because we are going to have a great giveaway coming up soon as well!

FREE Photo Shoot!!
Want to treat yourself to a free mini-photo shoot with popular local photographer Shay Cochrane? Maybe a bridal shoot, or a professional shoot, or even just a fun fashionista shoot... it's all about you! All you have to do is post this phrase on your facebook, blog, or twitter, and then let her know you did it by commenting on her blog:
"I REALLY want to win a free photoshoot with Shay Cochrane Photography!"
By the way, that gorgeous photo is of a friend of mine from the University of Florida whose wedding Shay recently captured. Beautiful!! :)

FREE wedding lingerie!

Cosabella is giving away a beautiful chemise, perfect for your wedding night, honeymoon, or maybe some budouir photos...? ;) It's from their Never Say Never Bridal Collection and it can be yours by entering Wedloft's contest on their blog!

Awesome Accessories Giveaway!

Visit Brenda's Wedding Blog to enter this contest for a $50.00 gift certificate to Starz Selection on Etsy. They have really cool floral and veil headpieces, brooches, and other unique accessories. You will also get a free pair of shoe clips, which are the latest accessories for your feet! :) All entries must be received by June 21st so hurry over to Brenda's Wedding Blog and fill out the info!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kelly and Adam's Treasure Island Wedding

On Saturday, June 12th, Kelly and Adam became husband and wife as they exchanged vows on beautiful Treasure Island Beach behind the Bilmar Beach Resort. Kelly booked Flawless Occasions a year ahead of time but the first time I met them in person was a couple days before the wedding. Like many of our couples, Kelly and Adam planned their Florida wedding from another state (Illinois).

From the minute I met them, I knew their wedding would be a lot of fun. At our pre-wedding meeting Adam openly admitted that Kelly made most of the wedding planning decisions - but you could tell he had complete confidence and trust in her choices. Adam was right to trust her as their day turned out perfect! There were a lot of personal touches like table names representing the places they had traveled, a display of photos from their parents and grandparent's weddings and a cigar roller which turned out to be a big hit. They also had a Polaroid guestbook and escort cards that had vintage cuff links for the guys and vintage broaches for the girls. They even gave each vendor one!!

Kelly and Adam had their friend, Jen, perform the ceremony and she did a great job! Other than the unexpected shout from some random guy (that can happen in a public area) the ceremony turned out perfect. Luckily, this was a crowd with a sense of humor, so they got a good laugh out of it. The vibrant, lush bouquets and arch flowers were created by Dana Dineen.

After the ceremony, the guests enjoyed cocktail hour and the reception at Bazzie's Beach Bar which is part of the Bilmar. The Bilmar staff was attentive to the guests and the food was delicious! The nice thing about Bazzie's is it is an indoor/outdoor space that walks out to the beach so you get the best of both worlds.

Erick Runyun of Ephotographics was the photographer and I really enjoyed working with him. While the girls were getting ready (with the awesome Julissa from Beauty Brought Out making them all gorgeous!), Erick set up a computer with pictures from the rehearsal dinner. During the reception, he also set up the computer so guests could enjoy all the pictures he took during the ceremony and cocktail hour. What a nice touch!

Movie Magic Productions was there to video the entire event. It was really fun working with Ian again and I am hoping he will be able to share a trailer with us so I can post it on the blog! :)

Rob Sword provided the music and light show that kept the crowd on the dance floor the entire night. This was a party crowd and I don't think the dance floor was ever empty! I heard the party continued well after the reception was over.

The beautiful beachy cake was made by Publix. The piece I had was red velvet and it was delicious! Each layer had a different flavor though, so guests had a choice.

The most memorable moment of the night for me,though, was when Adam actually came up to me and asked if HE could get ME anything! That was a first! I had to remind him that he was supposed to be enjoying the night and not worry about what his wedding planner needed! Honestly though, Adam and Kelly are a great couple and their family and guests were equally as nice. I really enjoyed being a part of their special day.

Kelly and Adam, thanks again for being such amazing clients. You are a beautiful couple and best wishes for a wonderful life together as husband and wife.

Here are some pictures that I took throughout the day. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sweet Centerpieces

I love these gift box centerpieces from Harvard Sweet Boutique. They have a huge selection of box designs and additions to create a custom gift centerpiece. These are so cute for a garden wedding, a bridal shower or bridesmaids luncheon, or a baby shower. And the best part is, at the end of the event your guests can each take home a box of the goodies. Filling options include brownie bites, mini cookies, and truffles. Not only is your centerpiece cute and unique but it is also delicious and takes care of a decor element and a guest favor all in one!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jennifer and Marlon's Wedding Weekend

I had the pleasure of working with Jenn and Marlon on their wedding for almost a year. They hired Flawless Occasions to help with everything from finding a venue to managing the details on their wedding day. Right from the start, I knew that they would be a really fun couple to work with and they certainly were! When I watched them become husband and wife on May 15th - they were not just my clients, but also friends.

Jenn's wedding weekend started off with a Bachelorette party on Thursday in Clearwater and a Rehearsal Dinner Beach BBQ on Friday. Since they hired me to be their "personal photographer" for both events - I was able to meet a lot of their family and friends who were also a lot of fun and treated me as if they had known me all along!

On Saturday, Jenn and Marlon were married at the Marriott Suites on Sand Key and the fun continued Sunday morning with a pool side breakfast! By having so many events planned for their wedding weekend - Marlon and Jenn were able to truly spend a lot of time with their family and friends. Many of the guests were from out of town, so I think they really enjoyed having so many planned activities!

Jenn and Marlon had their wedding ceremony on the Marriott's patio overlooking the water. It was a beautiful, sunny day! Dana Dineen and her staff decorated the arch and designed the pretty, lush, bouquets The couple had their good friend, Tim, perform the ceremony and he did a great job! When Marlon and Jenn exchanged their personal vows that were both funny and emotional -I don't think there was a dry eye around!

Jennifer's Maggie Sottero breath taking gown looked like it was created just for her. The hair and makeup was done by Cari and Hollie from Kyle Lynn and everyone looked gorgeous!

The reception was held in the Marriott's Ballroom and everything looked amazing! Josh from Inspire Entertainment provided pink uplighting and a customized monogram gobo. Dana Dineen and her staff provided stunning centerpieces and A Linen Valley provided special linens that pulled together the pink and brown theme. The food provided by the Marriott was delicious and the Marriott staff did a wonderful job making sure all of the guests were taken care of. We really enjoyed working with Christi and Ann from Limelight Photography. I know their pictures are going to turn out awesome!

The guests had such a blast at this wedding! They were dancing the minute Josh from Inspired Entertainment started playing tunes. Yes! That means people were dancing even before dinner was served!! This crowd really knew how to have fun! Everyone was so genuinely happy for the couple and they were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Marlon's brother even included me in his toast which was so sweet and very touching.

I am so happy that Jenn and Marlon loved the way everything came together for their wedding and that they were able to enjoy themselves. Christina, Shawna and I all had a great time being part of their day and we all enjoyed working with this very special couple.

Jenn and Marlon - Congratulations!!! I know the planning journey seemed long at times, but I am so glad everything turned out amazing and that it was all worth the wait. It has been so much fun working with both of you and as I said at your wedding - this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Please stay in touch!

Here are some of the pictures I took at the wedding. We will post the professional photos from Limelight once they are available.

The Rececption:

The Flawless Occasions team with Jenn and Marlon: