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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!

Wedding regret

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,


Wedding Planner vs Wedding Coordinator

Posted By on April 2, 2014

Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator? Are they different or the same? That seems to be a big mystery in the wedding industry. Some brides, as well as my fellow colleagues in the wedding industry define wedding coordinators as something different than wedding planners. Some say they’re the same. Even wedding planners aren’t sure which title to give themselves. It gets even more confusing when you add in terms like “wedding consultant.” Sheesh! But one thing that most everyone agrees on is that someone who does what I do wears MANY hats. Ain’t that the truth!!

My purpose for writing is to help solve this mystery for couples and my fellow wedding professionals. This is something that has perplexed me for a few years. I find that couples who are looking for help in their planning are not sure who to turn to or what to ask for. It seems that everybody wants to be a planner. Or a coordinator. Everybody wants a slice of the pie. Many venues now have an on-site coordinator for weddings which is misleading to couples. I discussed this in another blog post. Wedding coordinators and venue coordinators are different. DJs are offering “wedding planning” packets or “coordinating” services to help couples “plan their weddings.” This is also misleading. Planning the reception with a DJ or venue coordinator is not planning the wedding. It’s only planning a part of it. I mean no offense when I say that DJs are NOT wedding planners. They are entertainers. And unless they have a dedicated wedding planner on their staff, how can they help a couple plan, coordinate and manage the entire wedding day when they are supposed to be entertaining the crowd? I know that all wedding professionals really want to help couples, however this “cherry picking” from the wedding planning tree of services is really causing more harm than good for couples.

What does a wedding planner do? In the beginning stages of wedding planning, I do lots of consulting working with newly engaged couples in building the foundation of their wedding which includes guidance in budgeting, developing the vision, and giving advice on where and how to begin. During the planning stage, I help couples draw out how everything is going to work, which vendors to bring in and when it will all happen. This planning stage also involves more consulting as I help couples select their vendors. And there is the coordinating of their schedules and timelines for tastings, ordering wedding attire, designing  invitations and working on projects. All of this must be planned and coordinated around the couple’s life. On wedding day, the coordinating and managing of the guests, vendors and events takes place. This is what I do – what wedding planners do – in a nutshell.

I consider myself, and conduct myself as all of the above. I am a consultant, a planner, and a coordinator. All one job. Not separate. They are different roles I fill during the different stages of the wedding planning process but still one person offering all of these things all the time. There isn’t any wedding planning without consulting and/or coordinating. There isn’t any coordinating without planning and/or consulting. All of these roles work together. This is the essence of a wedding planner.

So what about the wedding coordinator? What does a wedding coordinator do? Wedding coordinators are really planners. Planners don’t coordinate an event without SOME planning. We have to plan how we’re going to coordinate everything. When a couple hires a coordinator, they are getting a planner. It’s just planning on a different level. Not a different job title. There is still some consulting, there is still some planning and there is still coordinating. That’s why couples are asked lots of questions when they contact a wedding planner. We want to get to know them and all about their wedding, where we need to pick up the ball and if we need to start running with it.

There is no such thing as a day-of coordinator. Although many planners use that title when describing this service, we are usually month-of planners. ~Fallon Carter

To confuse couples even more, there’s the day-of coordinator title. I came across the quote above from Fallon Carter in an interview she did with Huffington Post, “The Truth About Day-Of Wedding Planners.” Her quote is spot on and, I feel, describes a trend in our industry of pressuring planners into only offering a portion of their service. Another misleading term applied to wedding planners, the day-of wedding coordinator is still a wedding planner. It seems that this title has been allowed to evolve into popularity and is misleading couples into thinking they can just throw a coordinator in at the 11th hour for a small fee, you know, because it’s only a month out. This is so far from the truth. A wedding planner working on the wedding day will put in 8-10-12 hours no matter what title you want to give us. Our time on site is pretty much the same regardless if we’re called wedding planner, wedding coordinator or day-of coordinator.

But I get it. Most couples and guests only see the end result of what we do. The seamless, beautiful wedding day with everyone having fun. And that’s what couples want – everything running smoothly and their dream wedding to come true. So they call a wedding planner up and say that they only want him/her for the wedding day and nothing else. They don’t understand. They tell us they don’t “need” a planner because they can do it themselves or because they have an on-site wedding coordinator at their venue.  It’s what the industry and reality TV has taught them…that a planner can come in a month before and create magic…that our service can just be filled by the bride’s Aunt or an add-on service at a venue or with a DJ. Couples don’t realize what they’re NOT getting. How is it that a wedding is beautiful and everything is running like a well oiled machine? The wedding planner behind it all. The wedding planner who has been with the couple from the beginning…guiding, consulting and coordinating WAY before the wedding day…building a team of designers and vendors to make their day beautiful. I’m not saying a planner can’t come in a month before the wedding and pull everything together…but I guarantee you…ask any planner how they feel after doing that and they feel downright frustrated. Why? Because most of the time we are putting out fires that could have been prevented months ago had the couple gotten proper guidance or had an experienced planner on board to call and run ideas by throughout their planning.  It frustrates us planners a LOT because we want to help couples avoid planning pitfalls (and they DO happen) and be there for them every step of the way but couples are not allowing us to do so by restricting our planning part to just a month.

Even when you’ve done “everything” and only have a need for the elusive creature mistakenly classified as a “Day of Coordinator,” in order for them to be a sound investment for your wedding, at minimum, they need to provide key services. Come wedding day, you, your parents, nor bridal party should be doing a single thing or worrying about the “what ifs” -when your planner is well prepared to execute the event and KNOWS you as a couple. Fires wont need to be put out because they will never start, and the start to your happily ever after will start off flawlessly! ~Brenda Swann

Dear engaged couple, What I see is this: You DO need a wedding planner. You want us. You are looking for help. You call us in the last 2 months because you wisely realize that you need someone to pull it all together. I’m here to encourage you not to wait to hire us to help you with your wedding day. Don’t miss out on all the advice, the planning help, the coordinating you get all along the way by waiting to hire a planner at the last minute. And yes, 2 months out is last minute in the wedding timeline. We’re not here to take over and plan your wedding for you or take away your voice. But we ARE planners. Period. Don’t assume that wedding planners are expensive because our title is planner rather than coordinator or day-of coordinator. Reach out to us anyway. Be honest about your budget. You might be surprised by our response.

Dear fellow Wedding Planners, Please stop confusing couples with all these different titles for wedding planning packages. Don’t devalue yourselves and your awesome service by calling yourselves “day-of coordinators” or even “wedding coordinators.” We are wedding planners. Period. No matter what title someone else wants to give us. We offer different planning packages, yes, and one planning package is not necessarily better then the other. Just a different level of planning. Adjust your packages to reflect your planning skills at different levels rather than calling them mysterious names. Start seeing and selling yourselves as the planners you are.

Dear Wedding Industry Colleagues, We are the couple’s spokesperson from beginning to end. Please refer brides to us instead of trying to fill our roles for us. We do not want to do your job. We are team players and desire to work with you as the professionals you are. Please work with us. We want you to do the job you are great at.

Have you contacted a wedding planner yet? Don’t wait! It’s the BEST investment you’ll ever make for your wedding.





3 Things Wedding Bloggers Aren’t Telling You About Wedding Planners

Posted By on March 24, 2014

This post is part of our Wedding March Series


 I’m sure you’ve seen this question on many wedding blogs: What Does a Wedding Planner Do? And for the most part, the answers you find are pretty much the same. They save you money. (We do!) They save you time. (We do!) They save you stress. (And we do!) But there are so many things wedding planners do that aren’t being said that are very important. Like this…

We keep you from getting scammed. Scammed?? Yes, taken advantage of. It does happen. When you hire a planner, you are getting his/her knowledge of the industry and other wedding professionals in your area. He/She will know who the reputable vendors are. And if it’s someone with whom we have not yet worked with, we probably know someone who has. We will also vet their services thoroughly before offering them to you. This is one part of keeping you from being taken advantage of.

Another way a planner protects you is that a wedding planner goes over all of your wedding contracts looking for clauses that will protect you as well as the vendor. Let’s say you are doing business with a friend, or another person in business who you might want to trade services with, then you should get a letter of agreement at the very least. I’m sure you’re thinking that your friend would never scam you…but a letter of agreement will preserve your friendship and the agreement you made to each other. It’s business, my friend. In general, there are contractual clauses that can be very tricky to understand and we provide the “translation” you need to understand what you are signing (or what not to sign).

One last way a planner protects you is through word of mouth research. I don’t know about any other planners, but I encourage couples to ask their wedding vendors for references. I provide my clients with 3 references from my former clients. My prospective clients are free to call my couples personally to ask what it was like working with me. That way they know that the reviews on my site are legit. I’ve seen many vendor reviews that are fabricated online. I require REAL references from hired service providers so I can check them out – especially if I haven’t worked with them before. You should too! You can ask your vendors for references – you know, LIVE people to talk to. It’s OK.

So what do wedding planners do? Many, many, many things that don’t even take place on the wedding day! Bottom line is that wedding planners are there for YOU! Have you booked your wedding planner yet?

Love is Worth the Risk

Posted By on January 25, 2014

A different post today. Not about wedding planning or wedding ideas or wedding etiquette. This post is about love…and a GREAT comic from Zen Pencils. This comic shows the reality of love, trust, and risk. I know many of us can relate to this comic in so many ways. What do you think?

“I know love isn’t painless but it’s worth the risk, it’s worth the fight.”

– “Lost Then Found” (Leona Lewis)

What to Expect When You Call a Wedding Planner

Posted By on January 21, 2014

HELP!! It’s what I hear this time of year from couples who have just had a wake-up call and realize that it’s the new year – the year they’re getting married – and they just had a moment of sheer panic because they have SO much to do!  Many of you are shopping for wedding planners and this post is for you. I hear some of you are confused, and downright frustrated because you’re not exactly sure what to expect or what to ask when contacting us for help. I know you’re out there. I want to help clear a few things up for you about what to expect from me when you make an initial call (or email) to me.

 Don’t expect to get a price. What!!?? I know you’re concerned about how much money you’re spending. If your first question (or initial email) has any part of the phrase, “How much,” then cross it right off and move it to the bottom of your list. Asking the question. “How much do you charge for weddings?” right off the bat is like walking into ReMax and asking an agent how much it costs to buy a house. Their answer, as well as mine, would be, “Well, what are you looking for?” or “What are your needs?” Before I can give you a price, I will need to know more details about what’s involved for your wedding and what kind of work is required.

Expect to give details. LOTS. Expect to have a conversation with me about your wedding. Prepare to be on the phone for several  minutes or expect to have an email conversation about your wedding. I will ask you about the type of event you’re looking to have and about any challenges you are facing or expecting in your planning.

Expect the “Budget Question.” I WILL ask this question. Why? One very important reason is that by knowing your wedding budget – what you have to spend for your entire wedding – I can propose a solution that will fit within your budget. It’s very much like pre-qualifying for a home loan. When you know how much your bank will loan you, your agent will then know which homes to show you. It’s that simple.

Expect a FREE Consultation. I will ask you to meet in person. Why? Because we need to see each other. We need to get a feel for each other. I want to get to know you as a couple and you need to get to know me.  It’s important for you to get all your questions answered before we sign a contract together as we will be working closely together for several months. Bottom line: If we don’t click, it won’t matter how much I cost.

The first step to successful, stress-free wedding planning is to connect with a wedding planner. Me. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Let’s talk.

TaylorMade Weddings 2013 Year in Review

Posted By on January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!! I’ve spent some time looking back at our 2013 wedding season and we had FUN! We had the opportunity to get to know some FABulous couples and their families. We traveled near and “far” to meet couples and put together weddings in beautiful locations. We also had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented vendors in northern Virginia and Shenandoah Valley. I put together a video highlight to showcase the fun and beauty of 2013. Join us for 2014!

Special Thanks to:

Rick Martin Photography

Focus Fine Photography

La Belle Photography

Bliss by Vita Bella Photography

Bluebells Floral

Shelly’s Floral Enterprise

Everything Linen

Airlie Center

George Washington Hotel

Fairfax Baptist Temple

Irvine Estate

Be a Good Guest…Please

Posted By on December 11, 2013

This is the time of year that many of us receive an invitation to a party of some kind. Whether it be a social gathering at someone’s home, the office party, or a wedding in a grand ballroom, there ARE certain guidelines we should follow for proper conduct in social situations. Here’s a great little checklist on how to be a good guest. How do you measure up?


image via

5 Simple Holiday Entertaining Tips from the Pros

Posted By on December 10, 2013

Every year at our house, my husband and I host a Christmas party for the members of our church’s music ministry and their families. We have a really good time together just sitting and talking (and eating) as we don’t get to do much of that (talking that is) because we’re all usually very busy during church services…and after services…and during the week…well, you get the picture. Anyway…my husband and I think we host good parties from what we feel throughout the night from our guests and by the general comments we receive afterwards. Recently, at a church event, one of our friends who attended our party last year made a comment about how he had good memories from our party. Someone had brought mulled cider to the event and when he walked by the steaming pot of cider, he paused and smiled and said to me, “Oh! This brings back good memories of being at your house at your party.” That meant more to me than those cute, little ham puffs I try to make. For that person to still have good, happy, memories of being at our house by just smelling something, well….that is special. And you *know* I will have mulled cider at our party again this year!!

So how do you have a successful holiday party – one that will keep guests talking for months to come? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not all about the food and decorations. It’s really very simple. Don’t try to be perfect. Just celebrate. That’s it! I will share what MY favorite party planners have to say about hosting a festive, casual – yet proper, holiday party as well as my own ideas so YOU can have guests feeling warm and fuzzy at your holiday gathering.


  1. PLAN AHEADKathy Romero, Dir. of wedding planning at Preston Bailey Design, says, “Try setting the table the night before. This will be one less task on your to do list. The amount of stress associated with this task will be significantly reduced if you plan ahead.” <== I took her advice and do this when I host dinner gatherings and it really eases the stress! I start setting the table almost a full week before so I can spend more time on the little details of the table and the room to get it just the way I want. (Photo HGTV)



2. THINK LIKE A GUEST. Planner Natalie Bradley, Soiree by Natalie Bradley Events, says, “Make sure to leave time to prepare your space for your party.” In her post, “Planning Your Party – Flow and Set-up are Key for a Party that Wows,” she suggests thinking like a guest as you prepare your home for holiday guests. This is such GREAT advice. How do you think like a guest? By going through the areas of your home and view them through the guest’s eyes. If you were to attend your own party, how would you feel? Are there places to sit…comfortably? Are the drinks & food easily accessible or will people get crowded? Oh! And what about the bathroom? Is it clean? Are there enough towels for everyone to use throughout the night? Think like you were a guest and make changes accordingly. I took Natalie’s advice and have our oldest daughter collect coats at the front door and place them in our guest bedroom. We place disposable hand towels in the bathroom instead of those little decorative towels. We have a drink station away from the food area so people will not get jammed up (though there always tends to be a crowd around the mulled cider and punch). It’s not necessarily about the food you serve, but how comfortable your guests will feel while in your home. (Photo: stock photography)


3. CREATE THE MOOD Celebrity Event Planner Colin Cowie says, “Create a playlist that’s ready to begin as soon as the doorbell rings and doesn’t end until the last guest departs.” <==Love this advice! Choosing the right music helps to set the mood of your event. Create a custom list on your MP3 player of songs to set the tone of your party and the mood of your guests. My husband is in charge of this area for our party. We set Pandora to our favorite Christmas station and play it through the the entire house. No matter what room our guests are in, there is music to be heard. Remember to keep the music volume at a comfortable level so that guests hear the music but don’t have to talk over it. (Photo: stock photography)


  4. MAKE A GRAND ENTRANCE This one is from me. 🙂 Give your guests a warm feeling as soon as they walk up to your front door. First impressions speak the loudest. You don’t have to have elaborate decor, but a clean front entrance makes a great first impression. Clean the windows inside and out. Sweep away those spider webs, dead bugs, leaves and anything that has blown up in the corners of your porch. Shovel your walkway if you’ve had snow and put down some sand or salt to keep guests from slipping or falling. Do you have flower beds? If you’re like me and have kids, there is always something from their outdoor adventures peeking out from under the bushes…a ninja sword, a magic wand, a bug catcher…interesting stuff! Keep your decor simple. Add a nice welcome mat…or replace that ratty one that’s been there forever…and a simple wreath on the front door and you’re ready for guests! (Photo: Elle Decor)




  5. HAVE FUN!!!! (Yes, that’s me in the picture) I think every party planner out there offers this tip and it’s one I preach to all my clients. The host’s mood sets the tone of the whole event. When your guests see you relaxing and having fun, they will feel relaxed and have fun as well. This is key to the success of your party over all the other tips. It’s not about how perfect I get those little ham puffs or if my house is big enough or decorated to the max. It’s about putting my best foot forward and giving to my guests. When I have fun, they have fun. When they are having fun – I’m having fun. It’s that simple! Now go have a FUN party! (Photo: Harsheet Patel Photography)




Colin Cowie was featured in Elle Decor’s post “Colin Cowie on Holiday Decorating.”

Kathy Romero was featured on Preston Bailey Designs’ “Thanksgiving Planning Tips from Kathy Romero

Bride’s Unforgettable Surprise at Her Wedding {{VIDEO}}

Posted By on November 22, 2013

There are NO words to describe this. The video speaks for itself. The story behind this video is: When bride Andrea‘s father died before he could walk her down the aisle, her brother decided to step in and prepare an amazing surprise for her. He recorded the song “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle and played it for Andrea as she danced with family and friends instead of her late dad. This right here….THIS is why I do what I do. It is truly priceless, and humbling to me, to make memorable moments happen for YOUR wedding! Prepare to get weepy….