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Holiday At Home: Get Personal

Posted By on December 10, 2015

We are continuing with our Holiday At Home Series this month and getting personal. Actually – more like GIVING personal. To me, giving a gift to someone that speaks to them personally is always a hit. And I’m not talking about a monogrammed gift…but a gift that has a special meaning to the individual.

One way we’re going accomplish that this Christmas is to get custom wrapping paper that is actually tailored for our kids’ interests and personalities. I found this company on Twitter, Designed by Carlos, a small, graphic design company in New York (not even sure how I found out about them – that’s the neat thing about Twitter) and they had posted a pic in their Twitter feed of personalized wrapping paper for your presents. I instantly thought it was fun, fresh AND fabulous (our new slogan for TaylorMade Weddings). So I started a conversation with Carlos and found out more.

Designed by Carlos

First, I found out that there is still time to get my order to wrap our presents before Christmas!! As I write, Carlos and I are exchanging emails about my kids’ interests and favorite colors. Second, the process is very easy. Ta-dah!! There is still time for you to get your personalized wrapping paper IF you order today. Like…NOW!! Be sure to tell Carlos that TaylorMade Weddings sent you. ;-)

They have other wrapping papers available. Check out their Holiday products here.

Designed by Carlos

Happy Custom Holidays!!!

Darlene

Holiday At Home Series: Deck the House

Posted By on December 2, 2015

Nothing says “Home for the Holidays” like homemade decorations, fresh baked goodies, and presents made from the heart. At least, that what I think.

Welcome to our Holiday At Home series this month. All this month we will feature decorating and entertaining tips for the holiday season as well as homemade gift ideas.

Holiday At Home Tip #1

“Deck the House” with garland made from paint chips. This idea comes from Country Woman Magazine. You can find the full tutorial here: countrywomanmagazine.com/garland

What a neat way to involve the whole family. And paint chips are free!! I think this would be great for kids rooms or a guest room or bathroom or anywhere you’d like to add a little whimsy to your decor.

Happy decorating!!

Darlene

Guest List in 30 Seconds

Posted By on April 9, 2015

Found this awesome blog post from overwhelmedbride.com with a very creative, visual chart on how to determine which guests to invite to your wedding. Your guest list directly affects the bottom line of your overall wedding budget so narrowing your list down is VERY important. Every couple has to deal with the overwhelming and sometimes heart wrenching task of putting their guest list together. This visual test will help you ask yourself some key questions about those questionable guests that are on your list. “Do I really need to invite my co-worker?” “Do we need to invite our distant relatives?”

As you are putting your guest list together, apply the test to each guest and see if they “pass the test.” Thank you to the Overwhelmed Bride team for putting this great visual together to help brides!

First Wedding Anniversary Traditions & Symbols

Posted By on April 9, 2015

Anniversary symbols have come about from all of the gift lists that have developed over the years. “The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary, or vicennalia, and a gold wreath on the fiftieth. Later, principally in the twentieth century, commercialism led to the addition of more anniversaries being represented by a named gift.” (“Debrett’s Everyday Etiquette” British Wedding Etiquette)

Your first wedding anniversary is very exciting! It’s time to sit down and relive those moments from your wedding day all over again…looking at your pictures, watching your videos, reading your notes from guests…and..(gulp)…eating your freezer packed wedding cake. But what do you give each other for gifts on your first anniversary?

I’m sure you’ve heard that your first anniversary is your “Paper Anniversary.” Wow. Paper!! How exciting is that? Well…there is symbolism behind it. Here are the first anniversary symbols, their meanings and some unique gift ideas you can give to each other:

Traditional symbol: Paper

Modern Symbol: Clock

Color: Yellow

Flower: Pansy

Gem: Mother of Pearl

“For some, paper represents the fragility of love and how it is easy to break and in some cases thrown away. It is our reminder that love needs looking after. For others, paper is the first step and as the years pass and your love grows your anniversary gifts grow too.” (Anniversary Gifts by Year)

Here are a few of my favorite first anniversary gift ideas: 

12 Months of Date Nights  – More of a gift to the both of you, it’s your commitment to each other to date each other through the years. Lauren, from Thinking Closet, has put together a fabulous DIY tutorial on how to make your own set of cards. Here is the final product:

 

First Anniversary Custom Art - Take a stroll down Your Memory Lane! There’s the place where you met, where you got engaged and then married, your honeymoon trip, and then your first home! Your Memory Lane is a highly personalized, high-quality art print that commemorates the recipients’ memories of yesterday, joys of today, and dreams of tomorrow.

Anniversary Time Capsule - This takes some forethought if you would like to open the time capsule ON your first anniversary. At their reception, this couple placed notebooks on tables with different questions for guests to answer and pass around, including “Describe a fun $20 date” and “Where do you see us in 25 years?” Everyone’s written (or perhaps illustrated!) responses will be memories you both will cherish for years to come. One twist is to write letters to each other on your first anniversary to open on a future anniversary date – maybe your 25th anniversary!

For more First Anniversary ideas visit this site. Whatever you do, may you reflect on the love you share and the reasons why you said I do. Happy Anniversary!!

 

The RSVP Card That Says It All

Posted By on April 7, 2015

The RSVP card that covers just about every horrible wedding guest you could possibly get. I think this says it all, yes?

Thank you happyplace.com for this funny, but probably true, RSVP card. Cheers!

Celebrating 20 Years

Posted By on March 18, 2015

 

Today my husband and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. Whoa! Where did the time go? I’m serious!! Time really DOES fly after marriage, 3 kids, several moves and job changes, starting a business, and going through the good and bad times. Life is quite a ride!

I can tell you that on my wedding day, standing in front of the man I was vowing my earthly life to, I had NO idea. I really had NO clue what marriage was going to require of me. Does anybody – really – have a clue what to expect? What I DID know was that I wasn’t going to be marrying anyone else. This was it. He was it. I knew that. We were going to be together no matter what.

And here we are. 20 years later. 20 years!!!! That’s an accomplishment.

 

 

 

I researched the traditional anniversary gifts to give that correspond with what anniversary you celebrate and I found out some interesting things about the Platinum Anniversary (20th wedding anniversary):

20th Anniversary Traditional Gift: China. It symbolizes the beautiful, elegant, and delicate love for one another over the past 20 years.

20th Anniversary Contemporary/Modern Gift: Platinum. Platinum is strong and enduring, just like your 20 year old marriage.

20th Anniversary Gemstone: Emerald or a yellow or golden diamond.

20th Anniversary Color: Emerald green or white.

20th Anniversary Flower: Day Lily. The meaning of a day lily is that of coquetry such as flirting, playful behavior towards one another.

I NEVER KNEW!! Did you know there were all these “extras” to celebrate each year’s anniversary?

When my husband and I celebrated our 1st anniversary, we had just purchased our first home. I loved that house! It had a fabulous porch and a great back deck that we hosted many parties on. Anyhow – since it was our first anniversary, the Paper Anniversary, we wrote letters to each other the night of our first anniversary to be opened on our 25th anniversary. I got to thinking about those letters a few months back. Why did we postdate so far into the future to open them? We never even questioned that we’d be together after 25 years. And you know, I do not remember what I wrote. Not at all! I remember we were both tearing up while we were writing. So many questions going through our heads – what will we be like on our 25th anniversary? Will death take one of us before? Will we have kids? Where will life take us?

First Home

Current Home

 

Five more years until we can open those letters and the suspense is killing me. But I’m so thankful for these 20 years. Thankful for the struggles. Thankful for the triumphs. Thankful that we have grown from each of them. We haven’t always passed the tests but we persevered. Together.

Today. Tomorrow. Always.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!

How to Prevent Post-Wedding Regret (Part 2: Wedding Planners)

Posted By on February 8, 2015

Being a wedding planner for 16 years, I’ve heard a lot of stuff! A LOT! But what never ceases to amaze me is the regret list I hear from brides about their weddings. And the list hasn’t changed in all these years. That’s 16 years of brides experiencing the same post-wedding blues. Why is it still happening??

I’m not talking about regrets over their fiancé (HA), but regrets over wedding planning decisions that were made that they got stuck with and were unable to change. What breaks my heart the most is knowing that their regrets could have been prevented if they had only sought out the advice of a wedding consultant. That’s why I am here. That’s why I started my own company – to be that person that couples and families could go to when they are unsure about the “what-to-do” and “what-ifs” of wedding planning.

A recent BRIDES article highlighted 7 real brides and their biggest post-wedding regrets. You can read the whole article here. They asked brides to reveal their biggest wedding planning regrets. I’m going to feature them here in a series of posts with my comments and suggestions on how the situation could have been prevented so you can keep from having these similar regrets over your wedding. Plus, you will also find out what MY biggest regret was for my wedding!

 

Regret #2: Doing without a wedding planner

“My biggest regret is not listening to my instincts to hire a wedding planner. Don’t get me wrong, my wedding was beautiful, but being a perfectionist, there were minor details that were missing. For example, the music I walked down the aisle to wasn’t cued on time. I would encourage brides to a least get a day-of planner who can make sure last minute things are handled properly.” —Whitney, 32

First, this bride didn’t listen to her instincts. That makes me sad! Not because I’m a wedding planner but because I am a woman and our instincts are strong! Our gut feelings about something are usually right on. And when we ignore them, we usually end up regretting it later on. Oh – we will still make it or get through it, but had we listened to our gut…well…you know! ;-) Like this bride said, her wedding was beautiful. It still happened and she made it. However, those minor details…those little details…can be downright embarrassing if they get overlooked. Can I get an Amen?

Second, I agree with her encouragement of brides to get a “day-of planner who can make sure last minute things are handled properly.” AMEN! What peace of mind you will have knowing that your plans are falling into place and happening as they have visioned. I would like to add for clarification that a “day-of” planner should not – and cannot – be hired at the last minute. The term “day-of” is misleading to brides. I believe it makes them think they can hire this service just a couple of months or even a month before their wedding. Problem here is that you will not find one available for your wedding day if you wait until a month out. And if you do….well…they may not be what you expect. I’ll leave it at that. Listen to your gut and hire a planner as soon as you get engaged to help plan and coordinate your wedding day. Why? Our TaylorMade Bride, Danielle (August 2012), explains the benefits of hiring a wedding planner in the beginning:

During those beginning stages, I feel, a wedding coordinator is invaluable.  I felt completely overwhelmed, looking online for ideas and seeing website after website.  There is so much out there!  It was so comforting to be able to discuss all the plans in my head with someone that has so much experience.  It was also very nice to know that I could email, text, or call Darlene with any questions or ideas.  It kept me sane and once I started putting the theme and style into place I could feel my anxiety lessening.  Now with only four months to go, I know with the rapport Darlene, Thomas and I have I will be able to get through the rest of the planning and will not have to worry about my vision and style as she has been there from the beginning.  I can’t imagine someone just coming in the last minute and trying to catch them up to speed right before the wedding.   With Darlene’s attention to detail and personal touch I know on my wedding day that I will be able to enjoy the time with my loved ones and savor the sweetness and not have to worry about what’s happening outside and in the background.  It’s such a good feeling to know that my family will also be able to enjoy the day.  I feel completely secure, I’m so happy that we started our planning off right!
BUT – on the flip side – there’s this regret from one bride in the BRIDES article. Regret #3: Letting the wedding planner do it all.
“I hired a wedding planner, who was wonderful, but I just let her do most of it and didn’t keep track and it ended up that certain things weren’t the way I wanted them. I think it’s crucial to hire a planner if you have time constraints. However, if the event side of your wedding matters to you, you also have to make sure that the lines of communication are open and that your hands are in that pie. If you don’t get involved and check in on things that are important to you, you could end up disappointed.” —Laura, 26
This is very disappointing to hear as a wedding planner. I could think of a ton of questions to ask as to why this happened. Was the planner a controlling type and never try to include the bride? I mean, to me, how could someone make a decision for someone else and NOT ask them about it? Was the bride a type that really did not care about things until she saw what she got on her wedding day and found out she really did have an opinion? Obviously there is a lot that I don’t know in this situation and the bride’s regret brings up very good point: Communication! I focus on developing a team attitude between me and the couple. Kind of like I’m the coach of an ice dancing duo. The coach trains the team and guides them, keeps them on schedule, etc. In the end, who’s on the ice? The couple is. It’s their show! Not the trainer’s. I wrote an open letter to brides, “Dear Bride, I Don’t Like it When…,” where I discuss how important it is to have an opinion about what happens in your wedding. It’s not MY wedding. It’s not your mother’s wedding or your friends’ wedding. In the end, it’s YOUR wedding and I want you to LOVE your wedding.

How to avoid post-wedding regret? Hire a planner! Hire one as soon as you get engaged. Talk to them throughout the months of your planning..  Have your hand in that pie as this bride said in her regret post. Share with your planner your dreams and your opinions and your fears. You should feel a good rapport when you meet with them as you will be working closely together. You can never ask too many questions or give us too much information. The more we have the more we know about you and it really DOES help in the overall outcome of your wedding. We planners really want to help you and for you to have a glorious wedding day!!

Super Bowl Party Tips

Posted By on January 31, 2015

 

Having guests over for the biggest game of the year means you have got to be prepared. Can’t be running out of snacks, drinks or toilet paper!! Yikes! Have you even thought about the little things? It’s those little things that catch us off guard. Don’t drop the ball in your own end zone. Here are some ideas to help you score a touchdown for your at home event.

The Locker Room: Set aside a room in your house where you can store all the coats from the guests. Assign a person (pre-teen kids are great for this) to be in charge of collecting your guests’ coats as they enter and then taking them to the “locker room.” In our house, we use our guest room for our “locker room.” You might be able to clear out a closet or use the laundry room for coats and boots depending on the number of guests.  If you live in a warm area – LUCKY – you can skip to the pre-game warmup.

Pre-game Warmup: Walk around your house before the party starts and think like a guest. What would you like to see if you were a guest at your own party?  Will there be enough seating – do you need to bring in extra chairs? What about the bathrooms? Are they clean and stocked? Is the food easily accessible or will there be a “dog-pile” around the hot dogs and wings? Thinking ahead will allow you to develop a game plan where everyone can move around with ease and feel comfortable. It’s also less stress on you when your guests know where things are and they aren’t crowded around food areas.

Make it easy for your guests while they are at your home. Have the trash can(s) visible. Everyone always asks where the trash can is located. If they don’t see one, they will walk around with their plate or cup forever and it becomes a nuisance for them. When little things like this are in plain sight, they will feel comfortable. It’s true!! Such a little thing, I know, but it makes it so easy for you and for them. And if you are a recycling person, have extra trash cans out labeled for trash and recycling – like this idea spotted on inmyownstyle.com. They used laundry baskets for trash and recycling (great repurposing idea) and double-lined them trash bags. Great time-saving tip there on reloading the trash can with trash bags. When one is full the other one is right there ready to go.

Speaking of paper products…spend a little more and get plates and utensils that will actually hold food without folding in half or breaking. Again…it’s so comforting to a guest knowing they don’t have to do a balancing act with their food. Having food stations with finger foods or in small portions and small containers is not only fun but so easy for guests to carry around. This snack bar and DIY nacho station spotted on ideas.evite.com is the perfect example and guests really love food stations.

Are kids included in your game plan? Look around your stadium and think about how they would feel being at an event for several hours. Let’s face it…young kids are only interested in the commercials. So what will you have for entertainment for them while the big game is on? Is there an area you can set up for some games, a movie, some coloring/craft activities? If they are little, is there a quite spot for naps? How about the food? Are there things on your menu that they will like? Popcorn chicken or chicken nuggets are great finger food ideas and kids LOVE to dip stuff. Here are some ideas spotted on the internet to help keep kids entertained during the super bowl (your guests will love you for this!).

Super Bowl party pom-poms

Make some pom-poms so they can cheer along with the rest of you.

Print your own Super Bowl 2015 Bingo Cards
Use M&Ms as markers. This would be fun for adults too!

KickOff: When the game begins, there will be some surprises that come along. You need to think on your feet! Here are a couple of secret plays that will keep you from getting sacked:

When guests come with bags of chips or other snacks and you don’t have enough bowls:

Don’t lose the bottle opener!! Attach it to your drink tub or cooler.

image via buzzfeed.com

Incorporating these ideas and a little bit of forethought will give you and your guests a super game day party and you will come out a WINNER!

What are some super ideas you have used for your parties that have been a game changer in how you host events in your home? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

How to Prevent Post-Wedding Regret (Part 1: Guest List)

Posted By on January 26, 2015

Being a wedding planner for 16 years, I’ve heard a lot of stuff! A LOT! But what never ceases to amaze me is the regret list I hear from brides about their weddings. And the list hasn’t changed in all these years. That’s 16 years of brides experiencing the same post-wedding blues. Why is it still happening??

I’m not talking about regrets over their fiancé (HA), but regrets over wedding planning decisions that were made that they got stuck with and were unable to change. What breaks my heart the most is knowing that their regrets could have been prevented if they had only sought out the advice of a wedding consultant. That’s why I am here. That’s why I started my own company – to be that person that couples and families could go to when they are unsure about the “what-to-do” and “what-ifs” of wedding planning.

A recent BRIDES article highlighted 7 real brides and their biggest post-wedding regrets. You can read the whole article here. They asked brides to reveal their biggest wedding planning regrets. I’m going to feature them here in a series of posts with my comments and suggestions on how the situation could have been prevented so you can keep from having these similar regrets over your wedding. Plus, you will also find out what MY biggest regret was for my wedding!

Regret #1: Not specifying who’s invited on the RSVP card

“Although it was written on the envelope, we had numerous people add on significant others we didn’t even know existed and children that we’ve never met before. My parents wouldn’t let us un-invite them because they thought this was rude.” —Bridget, 29

Just WHO is being rude here? Certainly not the bride, or the groom or their families. The guests who invited the extras are the ones being inconsiderate and presumptuous.

Preventive maintenance – Know your invitation etiquette. On the inner envelope of your invitation is where you list just exactly who is invited. If you are inviting a married couple, both of their names are listed individually on the inner envelope. If you are inviting a married couple who happen to have young children or adult children living at home, and the children are not invited, you just list the individual names of the couple and none of the children. If the children are invited, then you list all of their names individually on the inner envelope.

After the fact - You can’t “un-invite” someone who hasn’t been invited. Right? Remember that. I would have suggested to this bride and her mother that they learn to say “no.” It is not rude to say no to someone adding a friend or children when the RSVP comes back. If you are addressing your invitations correctly, you are already saying no on the envelope by listing just the couple without their children’s names or listing a single person’s name without a “and guest.” So if you get a RSVP back with unexpected additions, call them on it. “I’m sorry. We are not having children at our wedding. We sent out the invitations to our wedding early with hopes that it would leave you enough time to plan for childcare.” One former bride said she simply told some people that they “only invited those people to whom the invitation was addressed and cannot accommodate uninvited guests.” Done. No explanations. And you are NOT being rude. At all.

Now – what the guests should have done is contact the bride or her family when they didn’t see their children’s names on the invitation, or a “and guest” if they were a single person, instead of adding extras without permission. THAT is rude. Listing each invitee individually on the inner envelope of the invitation will help keep your guest list from growing unexpectedly. But we can’t control people so expect that some of your guests will not “get it” when it comes to RSVPing.

One way to really get control of RSVPs and help your guests “get it” is to write it out for them. What do I mean? You state on your RSVP for a single person, “One seat has been reserved in your honor.” Then have a “___accept” and “___regret” space for them to reply. Below is a GREAT example from Mrs. Mongoose on WeddingBee that I thought was a very good idea. It’s polite, crystal clear, and should help eliminate any guessing or self-inviting issues that might arise.

seats reserved in your honor

Unfortunately, there have been those occasions where the single guest will come with someone anyway and to that I say SMILE and go with the flow. You can’t change what has happened. And it’s not worth it at that point to let their rudeness get in the way of your day. I’ll just have the staff go ahead and make a big deal to them about finding space to sit (God help them if space is tight), and getting ANOTHER chair, ANOTHER place setting, and mentioning that theirs will look different from everyone else, and they may not get filet mignon but rather fish after all the invited guests have gotten their dinners. So….. Please don’t be THAT guest!

Happy “no-regrets” Planning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Mom-preneur

Posted By on July 31, 2014

I am a wife, homeschool mother of 3, daughter of Jesus Christ, music teacher, and a professional wedding consultant – at least that is what I had put on my twitter profile until recently.  These attributes are not necessarily in that order…in fact, I should rearrange them. First, and always, I am a daughter of Jesus Christ…but that sometimes falls to #2. Secondly, I am a wife….yet, at times, that falls to last place. EEK!! Thirdly, I am a mom…a mom who homeschools her 3 children at home and this past week – that has risen to #1 because we started a new school format last week. Fourth, I am very involved with the music ministry at my church which keeps me busy and sometimes that pushes its way to the top. I teach music in my home once a week and finally, I am a professional business woman. YES!! We professional business-women-moms are called “Mom-prenuers.” This is the one attribute that I struggle with. How and where do I fit this in with all the other hats I wear so that my business stays a business and becomes a thriving business?? Where is the balance between pushing my business forward so that it becomes more successful and being a wife/mother?

At times, if I wanted to “push” an area of my life forward, another area would suffer. Then I would feel guilty for pursuing a passion, feel like I’m neglecting my kids or my husband, or more importantly (to me), my time alone with Jesus. Being a Mompreneur isn’t easy. A fellow mom-preneur, Natalie Bradley, who is also in the wedding planning industry, said it like this:

 

But here’s the thing that I’ve found – being a mom-preneur ain’t always easy. Even those people out there who make it seem so seamless and flawless are experiencing the same mom-preneur blues at times behind the scenes. I’ve talked to them, I’ve tried to see what secret they possess that I don’t. But there’s no difference, except that some people have more help than others, and a few other small things, but nothing that’s a magic pill to make this any easier.

 

Being a mom-preneur is hard. We are pulled in so many directions. For me, and maybe you too, I tend to put 100% of myself into everything I do and I’ve found that I can’t put 100% of myself into every single thing 100% of the time. There has to be a balance. Finding that balance takes time and constant shifting as my family grows and changes. I think the balance for me lies in this: Be ME!  Just as I pay attention to my family’s needs, I must pay attention to my needs of being creative through helping couples’ wedding visions come to life. That’s ME! If I lose who I am, everyone else around me will lose too. It’s OK to pursue a passion AND be a mom. I may not be flawless at doing them both, but I just learn as I go and get better with each day and each situation.

Here’s to the fabulous moms who are pursuing their passions! I would love to hear from you about how you find balance and deal with guilty mom feelings. Please share in the comments.

In Success,

Darlene