Kaitlin + Richard: Featured!

Kai Squared Events on Borrowed & Blue

There are some weddings that are just so special and touching and stunning that they get lots of attention and coverage from wedding blogs and editors for months after the actual wedding date.

Kaitlin + Rich had that kind of day. In addition to their feature on The Knot earlier this spring, K+R were featured this morning on Borrowed + Blue!

One of the most important components to the recipe for a day like this is an amazing team of wedding professionals and K+R had the best of the best and we were so honored to be included in that line up!

Christopher Cooke Photography, Planet Entertainment DJ, Grapevine Catering, Divine Creations Floral, Encore Events Rentals, and Soda Rock Winery: Thank you for working so hard to make K+R's Wedding this special! It was such an honor to work alongside you on this event! 

Real Wedding Wednesday: Corey + Anthony

Corey is the epitome of a planner. Having had her and Anthony as clients for two years, I knew this first hand and I knew that there wasn't going to be a detail overlooked when their big day finally rolled around. 

Well, man was I right! Corey + Anthony organized so many of their big details early in the process leaving them plenty of time to enjoy their engagement and pay special attention to the thoughtful details of their day. And just as planned, everything went as smoothly and gorgeously as they had planned. 

We even had the pleasure of helping the Father of the Bride surprise Corey with an amazing videographer on the day of their wedding. Thank you to Wilson from Baby Blue Films for capturing the beauty of their day!

And a HUGE thank you to their amazing event partners! We were so happy to work with such a great team!

Catering: Cordoza's Catering

Venue: Villa Chanticleer

Rentals: Encore Events Rentals

Photography: Sarah Marcellas Photography

Videography: Baby Blue Films

DJ: Planet DJ Entertainment

Cake: Sweet Expectations

Officiant: Richard Meyer from Marry Me Wine Country

Partial Planning + Coordination: Kai Squared Events

Flowers: Flower Sweeties




Tip Tuesday: 8 Ways To Relax The Week Before Your Wedding

We love this article recently posted by WeddingWire.com and wanted to share it with all of our couples who are in the final days and weeks of planning their big day. 

Remember! This is a celebration of you and your honey so once the big details are handled, it's time to hand it over to your coordinator and RELAX!!

See this original article here.

With only a week away from the wedding, you feel like you have a million items left on your to-do list, right? Before turning into a last-minute bridezilla, take a step back from the stress and remember to R-E-L-A-X! Here are eight tips to keeping calm, cool, and collected: 

Go to the gym

Even if exercise is already part of your normal routine, you should lace up those tennis shoes and hit the fitness center nearby. Break a sweat running on the treadmill, meditating in hot yoga, or taking a cycling class, then treat yourself to fro-yo. Compromise is important! 

Squeeze in the spa 

Book an appointment a couple weeks in advance. Go all out with a mani/pedi and massage to loosen up those kinks and knots in your neck, back, and feet. While you are at it, throw in a facial and waxing for good measure. Keep in mind that it should not be your first time getting any of these specific types of treatments. 

Take a trip to the mall 

Perhaps, you still need a rehearsal dinner dress or an outfit for the morning-after brunch. Use this as an opportunity for retail therapy and peruse a department store to find something you really love (and can wear again and again). Do not have time to hit the mall? There is always overnight shipping for those online shoppers, but that will cost you extra bucks. 

Eat a healthy home-cooked meal 

Did you happen to check out Ali Maffucci’s guest post on healthy recipes from her Inspiralizedcookbook? She suggested: sweet potato noodle chicken fajitas, apple tuna salad bell pepper sandwiches, chicken basil pomodoro zucchini pasta, or bacon shrimp zucchini noodle scampi. 

Resist looking up the weather every 15 minutes

It is okay to admit it—you have either read the Old Farmer’s Almanac's predictions, researched previous season's temperatures, or downloaded a radar tracking app on your phone. At this point, it is out of your control. Plan B should already be executed in case of an emergency. 

Leave work at work 

Chat with colleagues before turning on an “out of the office” email response. Everyone should be more than willing to help with that workload during your honeymoon absence abroad. 

Catch up on your DVR 

Spend your last night at home watching a few of your favorite TV shows or movies that are always in the queue: House of Cards, Father of the Bride, Game of Thrones, or Wedding Crashers. 

Indulge in guilty pleasures 

Purchase a plethora of magazines in the grocery store check-out aisle. That way you have gossip to dish out to your bridesmaids while getting ready the morning of. Maybe grab a bag of candy in case you need to cure your sweet tooth too

Tip Tuesday: "Adults Only" Wedding Ettiquette

I have gotten a lot of questions lately about how to tactfully address the topic of not inviting children to your wedding celebration so I figured this post might help clarify a few things. 

First of all, let's get clear on some terminology. Things are not always black and white and there is a difference between "Adults Only" and "Adults Mostly."

 Opal Moments Photography

Opal Moments Photography

Adults Only- If you are holding your wedding at a winery or tavern (or other location where it might not be appropriate to let your second cousins' hellion children run amuck in the presence of copious amounts of alcohol and things to fall off of), you might want to opt for an Adults Only Reception. This will not only give you the piece of mind knowing that no one has to police the tweenagers trying to sneak sips of your signature cocktail, but it will also allow you to focus on planning an awesome party where your friends and family can let their hair down and have some fun. 

Adults Mostly- If you couldn't imagine celebrating your wedding without your mini-tourage of nieces and nephews but you don't want to open the flood-gates for e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. to bring their offspring (I mean, really people?! Did you have NOTHING better to do the winter of 2009?!) it is okay to be selective about whose children you invite to be a part of your big day. The general rule is that "no kids" doesn't apply to children in the wedding party or immediate family but it is your prerogative who you do and do not invite.

 Gina Petersen Photography

Gina Petersen Photography

So how do you go about communicating this to your guests?

  • Carefully crafted correspondence. We don't recommend an UPPERCASE BOLD ITALICIZED "NO CHILDREN" directive on your invitation, so you should think about including a reception card or link to your website which states your intentions for an "Adults Only" celebration. Try a few of the following to figure out which carries the tone your going for:
    • "In order to allow all guests, including parents, an evening of relaxation we have chosen for our wedding day to be an adult only occasion. We hope this advance notice means you are still able to share our big day and will enjoy having the evening off!"
    • "To give all our guests the opportunity to let their hair down and have a good time without having to worry about little eyes and ears we politely request no children."
    • "While we love to watch the children run and play, this is an adults only kind of day."
    • "Sweet dreams to children under 16"
  • If your venue is not appropriate for young guests, please be clear with guests:
    • "Due to restrictions at our venue, children are not invited."
    • "Management request no children under 16 (or whatever age this may be)."
    • "By request of management no children."
    • "Regrettably children are unable to attend."
  • If you're just being selective about the children that you're inviting, avoid stating a "Adults Mostly" policy entirely and make a point to clearly indicate who is invited (and therefore, who is not invited).
    • Addressing the invitations to "Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Parker" rather than "The Parker Family" is step one. 
    • Consider including an inner envelope that gets even more specific ("Tim and Jane Parker")
    • If they haven't gotten the picture by then, try some sneaky subtlety in the RSVP wording and go ahead and hand-write the number of invites you are extending to the adults. 

We have reserved _____ seats in your honor

___ of ___ Attending
___ of ___ Declining


  • It is your wedding and your choice how it is celebrated.
  • Whether you are making this choice to help relieve some pressure on the budget or in order to create the ambiance you truly want, we know that there was some serious considerations made and that you are not a heartless, child-hating human. 
  • Don't let your friends or family guilt you into inviting all of their kids just because you have a small army of flower-girls who you actually want there. You are hosting the party, not them.
  • Although it's a sweet gesture, you are not responsible for providing childcare for the children of your guests. If you don't pay for their babysitter when they go to a movie, don't feel like you have to provide a nanny for them to come to your wedding.



Real Wedding Wednesday: Sam + Eric

There are no words for how incredible this wedding and this couple was. No words. 

So instead, we want to share their wedding film, which we think says it all. 

Thanks for letting us be a part of your love story, Sam + Eric!

Wedding Film: Studio Arcady

Venue: Olympia's Valley Estate

Photography: Gina Petersen Photography

Catering: Lombardi's Catering

Floral Design: Vanda Floral

Event Rentals: Encore Events Rentals

Planning + Coordination: Kai Squared Events


Confessions of a Wedding Planner

Sabine Scherer Photography

It's time to get something off of our chests. There are many secrets that we, your wedding planners, will take with us to the grave. And our job, in many cases, consists of making sure that you never know about certain details that may have gone haywire behind the scenes. We loved this list of "13 Things Your Wedding Planner Won't Tell You" from Reader's Digest: 13 Things They Won't Tell You and hope you enjoy seeing a little further behind the curtain. 

Wedding planners and pros from across the country reveal the messy side of making your wedding day unforgettable. Here's what they wish brides knew.
1. I keep secrets.  At one wedding I planned, the cake went missing after the bride and groom cut it. The bride soon asked where the cake was. Turns out the servers had taken it upon themselves to eat it! We cut the pieces smaller and the bride never knew. Keeping things quiet is the secret behind making the bride think the wedding was flawless.
2. If you've been engaged for a week... And your wedding planning organizer is thicker than mine (which usually contains paperwork for the five or six weddings I'm currently planning), then I automatically tell you that I'm booked on your date...and your backup date.
3. Your parents are paying?  I hope you understand you may not get what you want!
4. I feel like a therapist when I am forced to step in to help with family drama.   My insight is to be polite and respectful. Often, meddlesome people just want to be heard out. Since I’m an independent third party, I’m able to bring neutrality to emotionally charged situations.
5. I'll go to great lengths to make sure your wedding is perfect. Your wedding is my job and I'll do everything I can to make it memorable, including walking miles to a florist in Jamaica to correct the $700 bouquet that arrived to you spray-painted purple. 
6. I do manual labor and other dreadful tasks. I cannot even tell you how many times I've been on my hands and knees, sweating. I sometimes have to count the napkins and linens before they go back to the rental company. I'm talking dirty, smelly napkins, with food, gum and whatever else is on them. Talk about gross!
7. I wish you'd respond to my emails... As quickly as you expect me to reply to yours.
8. I'll make sure everything you're offered is in the contract. If the first manager you work with offers you a complimentary toast, get it in writing. If that manager leaves for whatever reason, you won't be forced to argue about these details with his or her replacement.
9. Don't forget the tax and service charge.  Many couples overlook the “plus plus” when planning a menu. Everything has a tax and service charge, and it really adds up, trust me!
10. My job is to make sure you don't have a big overage...  But many caterers will fix five percent more than what's guaranteed. While the buffet food can't be salvaged, what's leftover in the kitchen can. Ask your catering manager to send the extra food to a food bank.
11. Reuse flowers...  From ceremony to reception if at all possible. If you're planning to do this, tell your florist, otherwise your flowers may arrive one-dimensional, and won't look as nice in an open space.
12. Stay focused on the big picture.  It's easy to micromanage all of the details at the expense of the big picture. As long as people marry for the right reasons, the details of wedding planning are really secondary. Don't make decisions to please or impress others.
13. I still cry at weddings. Being part of the family for that short amount of time is truly rewarding. It’s when I’m sent baby photos that I know I had a real impact on a couple.

Tip Tuesday: What it means to be on a budget

One of the biggest concerns that many of our couples have when it comes to planning a wedding is their budget. We totally get this and understand  how out of hand spending can get once you get started. 

Our advice to budget-conscious couples is this: Being on a budget does not mean you need to find everything for less. Being on a budget means you need to search for vendors who will give you the best value for your investment and know where to cut expenses when necessary.

What if cutting Save the Dates, programs or menu cards meant that you could splurge on the gorgeous letter press invitations?

Sometimes selecting a caterer that's a little more per head means they can provide china, linens and flatware (and probably a better deal on those mini-pies you want to feature on your Pin-worthy dessert bar) saving you money in the long run. 

For more ways to look at smarter budget planning vs. drastic budget cutting, contact Kai Squared Events today to schedule a phone or in-person consultation.

Happy Planning! xx

Tip Tuesday: Crowdfunding your wedding

Weddings are expensive.

But tradition and etiquette are shifting when it comes to weddings and a new trend of "crowdfunding" your wedding has started to pick up some momentum among many modern couples. Crowdfunding has traditionally been known in the sense of business or startups and is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people.

It's no surprise to us that the generation that thrives on collaborative creation, embraces technology and invented social media is starting to look for creative and personal ways to celebrate their weddings.

So what does crowd funding  look like for a wedding and how do you keep that from sounding too tacky? What if instead of springing for an elaborate four tier wedding cake, your aunts and cousins pitched in to make a dessert bar featuring some of your favorite family recipes? Or let's say your neighbor is a master gardener with a rose garden that rivals the gardens at Versailles? Maybe as their wedding gift to you they let your florist harvest from their bushes instead of buying them from the market? Or what if in lieu of gifts, you asked for contributions to your honeymoon or house fund? 

There are all sorts of creative ways to use your loved ones talents and generosity to make your wedding incredibly personal, and contrary to what your future MIL might say, it's not tacky or cheap to ask (we promise!).

Check out this video featuring Julie Albaugh from WeddingMarket talking about the increasing popularity of crowdfunding for weddings and honeymoons. 

Happy Planning! xx Danielle

3 Things Thursday: WeddingWire World Recap

Happy Thursday! This is Gina Pocekay, Lead Coordinator for Kai Squared Events, and today I'm excited to kick off a fresh segment on the newly redesigned blog called "3 Things Thursday." Each Thursday I'll be sharing my favorite trio of tips, trends, ideas, inspirations and musings from my week. 

 Gina + Danielle @ WeddingWire World Southern California

Gina + Danielle @ WeddingWire World Southern California

Last week, Danielle and I had the chance to attend the WeddingWire World Southern California conference in Long Beach. It was so fantastic learning about some of the new trends in our industry and to continue our education in order to offer the most professional and informed advice and guidance to our clients. We heard from awesome members of the WeddingWire Team, including Sunny Ganguly (@sonnyg) and Alan Berg (@alanberg) as well as leading industry experts like Kathryn Hamm (@gayweddingscom) and Andy Ebon (@andyebon) and today I'm excited to share with you the top three things that I took away from one of my favorite presenters of the day about the important and timely issue of Marriage Equality.

Kathryn Hamm is the President of GayWeddings.com and presented twice during the conference: WedWeCan: Defining, Reaching + Serving Modern Couples and LGBT(Q)&A: Everything You Want To Know But Might Be Afraid To Ask.

My 3 Things:

 States that recognize marriage equality as of November 2014. Source: gayweddings.com

States that recognize marriage equality as of November 2014. Source: gayweddings.com

  1. The landscape surround the issue of marriage equality is changing. Today, 77% of those under the age of 30 support marriage equality and 82% of wedding professionals plan on serving LGBTQ couples in 2015. The wedding industry is leading the charge in normalizing the conversation of marriage equality and we want to be a part of that cause. 
  2. Leaders in the wedding industry are making the institutional shift to support marriage equality. Couples in search of allies and wedding professionals will be glad to see a more inclusive language being used throughout websites and client materials as well as wedding professionals that are more readily informed about the LGBTQ community and the concerns and worries that many still have about how to navigate an age-old tradition in a modern way. 
  3. It's not enough to talk the talk… Part of being an inclusive event professional is knowing how to support and develop a team of event partners that will serve your clients best interests. Wedding planners should have a fully vetted list of referral partners and contacts that have the same set of values that attracted your client to you. Being an educator and a resource to your event partners is just as important as being a stellar resource to your clients.
 Source: Kathryn Hamm, GayWeddings.com,  WWWorld Presentation

Source: Kathryn Hamm, GayWeddings.com, WWWorld Presentation

 Source: Kathryn Hamm, GayWeddings.com  WWWorld Presentation

Source: Kathryn Hamm, GayWeddings.com WWWorld Presentation

If you're not familiar with KSE's Commitment to Marriage Equality, please visit our About KSE page or read below to see how we "walk the walk. "

Our Commitment to Marriage Equality:

KSE proudly supports marriage equality and we are thrilled to work with an extensive network of event professionals and vendors who feel the same way that we do. KSE believes that all couples should be able to celebrate their love in a way that is unique, creative, thoughtful and personal.  We also look forward to the day we can remove this statement from our website: when marriage equality is no longer an "issue," but a universal right. Until then, we will continue to encourage, educate and collaborate with our couples and event partners to produce amazing wedding celebrations.

Real Wedding Wednesday: Tara & Joe

Thank you, once again, to Baby Blue Film for capturing Tara & Joe's beautiful wedding day! We truly loved being a part of their beautiful day and couldn't be happier to share this film! How fantastic was their sparkler send off?! 

$25,000 Wedding Budget: A Breakdown

A wedding planner's job is not just decorating the reception and fluffing a bride's dress before she walks down the aisle (although we do love that part too!), but we regularly are of best service to clients who are on a tighter budget. Kai Squared can help you create a detailed wedding budget as well as recommend vendors and venues that would best fit into your budget. Check out this post from Brides.com that breaks down (in details) where money should be budgeted for a $25,000*** wedding budget:

It would be amazing if the first step in planning a wedding was actually cake-tasting or searching for your dream gown, but before the real fun can begin, step one is determining exactly what you have to spend on the big day. But even nailing down that number is only half the battle — you also have to figure out what to spend where. The costs go beyond the obvious items like flowers and food, and you don't want to head off to your honeymoon knowing you're over budget because you forgot about the transportation bill! To help demystify the details, we broke down a $25,000 budget below. If you have less (or more) to spend, visit ourwedding budget tracker to calculate your own custom wedding budget and track payments.

DRESS & STYLE: $3,250

Lucky you! There are tons of gorgeous wedding dresses for less than the $1,500 you should budget for your gown — but don't forget that this figure also needs to take alterations into account. As for the other bridal style accoutrement, budget around $250 for your headpiece and veil, another $250 for shoes, accessories, and jewelry, and around $500 for hair and makeup â€” including the cost of trials and tips. Your hubby-to-be? He gets about $250 to cover the cost of his tux. And, finally, set aside $500 for both of your wedding rings.


Between inviting your guests to the big day and thanking them for sharing it with you, budget $750 for yourwedding paper suite. That doesn't include your escort cards and ceremony programs, for which you can budget $125 each.


Clearly, this is where you'll spend a bulk of your wedding budget! For the reception, set aside $250 for the ceremony site and another $250 to cover the cost of the officiant. Plan on spending no more than $375 for ceremony music whether you want to have your DJ set up early or hire a string quartet to play you down the aisle.

As for your reception, the venue, any rentals, service, food, beverage, and bartenders should account for about $10,500 of your budget. Your wedding cake should come in around $500 and you have $1,875 to keep guests dancing all night long to a band or DJ.


It's easy to go a little crazy on your wedding flowers, but budgeting about $188 on your bridal bouquet, $250 on your bridesmaids' bouquets (divided by the number of girls in your entourage), $75 total for boutonnieres, and $25 for flower girl petals will get you off to a great start! Your bigger ticket items — ceremony decor like an aisle runner or chuppah and reception decor and centerpieces — shouldn't set you back more than $1,713.

PHOTO & VIDEO: $3,000

Definitely don't skimp on photography or videography. The day will blow by but you'll cherish the memories forever — it's cliché but entirely accurate!

FAVORS & GIFTS: $1,000

With a $25,000 budget, plan to spend $250 total on favors for your guests, $500 on gifts for your bridal party, and the remaining $250 on gifts for both sets of parents if they contributed to your wedding day.

***NOTE: The average CA wedding budget is around $27,000 while the average Sonoma County wedding is tallying up at closer to $34,000 with an average of 140 guests. This budget breakdown also doesn't include recommended allocations for some important details such as a wedding planner (8-10% of your budget), tips and gratuity (10-15% depending on the vendor), transportation (5-8% of your budget) and an emergency fund for last minute or unexpected expenses and details (like insurance and postage).

For help creating a specific and realistic wedding budget, contact Kai Squared Events to schedule a consultation.

Real Wedding Wednesday: Meredith & Dominic

We're so excited to share this short video that Wilson at Baby Blue Film made of a recent wedding we had the honor of working on! We love creative clients and had such a fun time working with them to execute their vision of their big day. 

Precious Forest Wedding from Baby Blue Film on Vimeo.

Venue: Precious Forrest, Lucerne, CA

Photography: Nathan Larimer Photography

Flowers: M.design

Rentals: Encore Events Rentals and Kai Squared Events

Partial Planning & Coordination: Kai Squared Events

Tip Tuesday: Backyard Weddings

Portions of this post originally appeared here, and we felt we needed to share some of these planning notes and tips for our clients who are planning their private estate or backyard weddings: Having a wedding in a backyard or at a private estate is a great idea—think of it as a blank canvas—there is so much you can do here. However, there are a many more aesthetic and logistical details that need to be considered when planning your backyard wedding and here are a few things we like to discuss with our clients.

Cover Up

Every house has that awkward area that may be hard to coordinate with the look of the wedding. This could be the area where you keep your rubbish bins, or an area that lost its color and appeal. A great way to cover this up is by using wedding dĂ©cor such as candles, larger plants, potted trees, decorative wooden gates or flowers (think hydrangeas, hibiscus, peonies, etc.). The possibilities are endless here; don’t be afraid to get creative. We're happy to help brainstorm ideas with our clients for ways to conceal some of these trouble spots.


Color Scheme

If our couple has chosen a color scheme, we recommend hiring a landscape company to spruce up their backyard with flowers and plants that match their wedding colors. If possible, have these flowers planted the week of the wedding to avoid any potential weather mishaps that would destroy the plants.

Don’t forget the front of the house either; have flowers planted along the walkways of the house, leading to the backyard.

Green Thumb

Nothing is worse than yellow grass or no grass at all! Make sure the grass is being cared for months before the wedding is even supposed to take place. Invest in weed killer, and/or grass food (there are many options here and we know many skilled landscapers who can help select quality products). A weed killer is a must if an outdoor wedding is going to take place; there is nothing worse than a bunch of weeds stealing the scene! Don’t water the grass during the day—this will turn it yellow!

Dancing the Night Away

Because the wedding is in the backyard, it’s very likely that the reception will also take place here. Consider renting a dance floor. Not only does this apply to dancing—but it’s also applicable to all those guests wearing nice shoes and high heels! This will make it easier for everyone. A dance floor can bring an elegant look and that “final touch” to the overall atmosphere to the wedding.

Bathroom Issues

Another issue that may arise is the bathroom situation. There may be more guests than the household bathroom can handle; so it is always a good idea to rent a portable restroom for the wedding.

Now, don’t run away from this idea. You don’t have to rent those port-a-potties that we see on construction sites (ew!). There are actual luxury portable restroom trailers available to rent and we work with many of them on a regular basis. These can be extremely clean, affordable, and classy. Now you don’t have to worry about a long line in the house or possibly dealing with plumbing issues during the wedding.



Unless you are planning to shuttle guests from an offsite parking lot or location, don't forget about parking.One idea is to ask the neighbors if parking could be available around the house; but you can’t rely on the neighbor’s generosity here. Think about the nearby schools or churches, and have the guests park there (with permission from the school or church). Or, you could hire a valet parking service to direct traffic if there is parking near the home. Kai Squared Events is happy to help you calculate the amount of parking you'll need for your weddings and help you come up with some options for guest and vendor parking.

Tell Everyone

Letting the neighbors know that a wedding will be taking place isn’t only a generous thing to do for them, but it will save your sanity when the wedding day finally arrives. Make sure the neighbors know the date and the time of the wedding, so you won’t have neighbors planning a party the same day (more limited parking), or a neighbor spontaneously mowing the lawn during the vows. Don't forget a thank you note or bottle of wine (when appropriate) for after the wedding, too!

If you're planning a backyard wedding in Sonoma, Marin or Napa, please contact Kai Squared Events for a complimentary consultation. We'd love to help you tackle of all the things you haven't thought of yet!

Happy Planning! Xx Danielle

Tip Tuesday: Digital Do's and Don'ts

Some of our clients are so plugged in that they can't even fathom planning a wedding or celebrating the biggest day of their life without social media or their favorite apps. We're all for utilizing the newest and greatest tools, but your wedding day is a day that you and your loved ones should be connected to one another rather than your smart phones. After consulting with dozens of clients about the best way to navigate tech etiquette at their weddings, we thought we'd put together a few Digital Do's and Don'ts: Wedding 068DO ask guests to use a special hashtag for wedding posts, tweets and pictures. Embrace the fact that the majority of your guests will be snapping away and let them know (either via a note on the program or cute signage at the wedding) how they can add to your virtual wedding album. Check out our Pinterest Board for cute ideas to let your guests know how you would like them to use their tech at your wedding.

DON'T use disposable cameras. Thanks to smartphones, we have unlimited photo do-overs. Plus, disposable camera images don't usually turn out very well.

DO create a private Pinterest board. Pinterest is a bride's best friend, but what's the point if your whole social network can see the details of your wedding before the big day? Use your private boards for your best ideas to share with your wedding planner, florist and photographer.

DON'T crowdsource your wedding planning. Going to a wedding is like watching a movie for the first time; it's not as exciting if someone has already spoiled the story.  Try not to give your guests too many spoilers (i.e. peeks at the wedding dress or Instagrams of the signage or place card display) and ruin the surprise.

6300-140614_366DO take a selfie… Or ten!  After all, this is probably the most expensive outfit you'll ever wear!

DON'T tuck your phone in your cleavage! This is one day when all eyes are on you and no one has ever looked classy and glamorous pulling an iPhone out of her bra… Find a cute clutch if you must keep your phone at hand all night.

DO give your wedding party and VIPs all the details in a handy and accessible way. Apps like WeddingParty and Appy Couple allow you to share travel, lodging and event information with friends and family and eliminating the endless email streams and group text messages (which I will remind everyone reading, are a privilege and not a right).

Wedding 242DON'T let guests take photos at the ceremony. You are (most likely) paying a lot for your wedding photographer and nothing can ruin a beautiful first kiss shot quite like Uncle Joe holding up his iPad to snap a picture or, even worse, jumping in front of the photographer with his new Cannon SLR to steal the shot. ***The exception to this hard and fast rule, however, is when you're choosing to live stream the ceremony for family and loved ones who cannot be there (for health or travel reasons). If this is the case,  let your wedding planner or photographer know so that they can help find the best and most unobtrusive location for the video to happen.

DO be tasteful and tactful about your updates and posts. Unless you are planning to invite each and everyone of your 511 Facebook friends, refrain from overzealous posts about how "This is going to be the most epic wedding party ever!" and "All my favorite people in the entire world will be at our wedding this weekend!" to avoid post-wedding fallout and hurt feelings.

The new standards of wedding etiquette are ever-changing but the golden rule is still the best rule: Treat others (weddings) as you would like them to treat you(r wedding). If you'll be a guest at a wedding this summer, make sure that you think before you post!

Happy Planning! Xx Danielle

Tip Tuesday: When to Book Wedding Professionals

This has been such an exciting week! Not only are we in full-swing with our 2014 wedding season, but we are getting tons of inquiries and emails from 2015 brides thinking about their upcoming nuptials! In the spirit of looking ahead, I wanted to give some suggestions as to when to book certain wedding professionals to ensure that you have the Dream Team on your big day!

When to Hire a Wedding Planner:

When to hire a wedding plannerThe Knot:  9-11 months WeddingWire: 9 months Brides.com: 11 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 12+ months Notes:  There is a general rule of thumb that you can follow when booking your wedding vendors, “If it requires a specific person, do it as soon as possible.”  Certain wedding vendors provide products (like cake, flowers, and invitations) and can provide those products to multiple couples in a single day.  Anything else — the services — need to be secured as quickly as you can, because they are a scarce resource.  Wait too long, and the one you want will probably be booked.  A wedding planner will have the greatest amount of utility to you and can help with the rest of your vendors, so we love it when couples contact us early in the process.

When to Book a Wedding Venue (Reception Site):

When to book a wedding venueThe Knot: 9-11 months WeddingWire: 9 months Brides.com: 11 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 12+ months Notes:  This should also be done as soon as possible.  This is another scarce resource, and reception venues will book up to two years in advance of a popular date.  Contrary to popular belief, simply saying a date is your wedding date does not mean that is your wedding date — unless it doesn’t matter to you where you have your wedding .  You do not have a wedding date until you put down a deposit on your ceremony and reception sites.  Without a firm wedding date, you can’t hire any of your wedding-related services.  Hence, this is the place to start.

When to hire a Wedding Caterer:

When to hire a wedding catererThe Knot: 9-11 months WeddingWire: 9 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 10-12 months Notes:  Once you have your reception site booked, it is imperative that you hire your caterer as soon as possible, unless catering is included at your reception venue.  Every caterer has a limited number of events they can do on any given date, and booking early ensures that you will be able to choose the one you want.  I would also advise you not to wait for a tasting if it’s more than a month into the future — you should be able to get a clear picture of a caterer’s quality and their style of food from their website and reviews. This is another area where a wedding planner can help a lot.  They have probably worked with every good caterer in your area and know who is good, who is not, and who will fit your budget.

When to Book a Wedding Photographer:

When to hire a wedding photographerThe Knot: 6-8 months WeddingWire: 6 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 10-12 months Notes:  I was actually surprised by the “expert” timelines on this one. Most couples think the photographer is an important part of their wedding, and I can tell you that most of the top-tier wedding photographers in Sonoma, Napa and the surrounding areas are going to be long gone at 6 months to go.  In my opinion, you should include the wedding photographer in the group of vendors you hire immediately after setting your wedding date.  The top talent will book first, so hiring a wedding photographer close to a year before your wedding is a good idea.

When to Hire a Wedding DJ or Band and Emcee:

When to book a wedding DJThe Knot: 9-11 months WeddingWire: 9 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 9 months Notes:  This was one of the services that the timelines didn’t seem to agree on.  The same rule from above applies to your wedding entertainment as well — you are hiring a specific person or group to set the tone for your party and provide sound and amplification support, and the top talent in your area will be the first to get booked.

When to Book a Wedding Videographer:

When to hire a wedding videographerThe Knot: 6-8 months WeddingWire: 6 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: It depends. Notes:  This is a tricky one, so I’m going to give a slightly nuanced answer.  If you’re going to hire a wedding videographer, you need to decide early in the process how important the wedding video is to you.  If a fabulous, amazing wedding video is a high priority for you, then you need to treat the videographer the same as the photographer and the wedding DJ and book them as early as possible.  If it’s a low priority and you’re just going to hire the cheapest person you can find, it can probably wait until later.  For the top wedding videographers in any area, the same scarcity rule will apply and they will get booked very early.

When to Hire a Ceremony Officiant:

When to book a ceremony officiant pastor minister reverend priest rabbiThe Knot: 9-11 months WeddingWire: 6 months Brides.com: 11 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 9-12 months Notes:  Another area where the timelines didn’t agree.  I personally think that finding the right ceremony officiant is crucial, assuming that your ceremony site doesn’t come with a pastor/priest/rabbi included.  A really good officiant can make your ceremony magical.  Since you’re hiring a specific person, the same rule applies and I recommend booking them early in the process.  This is yet another area where a wedding planner can really help – we’ve all seen great (and not-so-great) ceremonies and can offer suggestions based on what type of ceremony you want.

When to Book a Wedding Florist:

When to hire a wedding floristThe Knot: 6-8 months WeddingWire: 6 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 6-9 months Notes:  Now we’re getting into the wedding vendors who can do multiple weddings in one day.  Most florists can handle a few weddings at a time depending on the size of their shop, so booking one at a year before your wedding isn’t as crucial.  That being said, I think that it also depends on how important the flowers are to you.  If you have your heart set on a certain florist or a certain style, then I say pull the trigger and put down a deposit.  The really good florists in our area still sell out during the busy season, so you can’t wait too long.

When to Hire a Wedding Cake Baker:

When to book the wedding cakeThe Knot: 6-8 months WeddingWire: 6 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 6-9 months Notes:  Most wedding cake bakeries will do multiple wedding cakes on any give date, so you’re safe waiting for a little while.  I highly recommend visiting multiple cake shops and sampling their cakes – this is a fun date night for you and your fiancé.  You can’t beat free cake!  Plus, you’ll end up making a better decision if you shop around a little bit.

When to Purchase Wedding Invitations:

When to buy wedding invitationsThe Knot: 6-8 months WeddingWire: 6 months Brides.com: 5 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 6 months Notes:  Since you’re not going to be mailing your invitations a year before your wedding, you don’t need to buy them that early either.  However, I do recommend sending “save the date” cards to your guests as soon as you secure your reception site and wedding date and no later than 4 months before the big day.  Find a good stationer in your area that carries the styles and brands you like, and use them for both.

When to Book Wedding Transportation:

When to hire the wedding limoThe Knot: 2-3 months WeddingWire: 2 months Brides.com: 6 months Kai Squared's suggestion: 5-6 months Notes:  Ok, I thought this one was ridiculous.  If you are going to hire professional transportation (limos, shuttle buses, whatever), then you need to hire someone good and you need to do it more than 2 months before your wedding.  As a seasoned wedding planner, I will tell you that the wedding vendor we have the most trouble on a regular basis is transportation.  The good ones will provide you with a clean, great looking ride and get you to the church on time.  The bad ones will show up late (or not show up), get lost, and make you late for the wedding you’ve paid so much to plan.  My advice is to do this about 6 months before your wedding, and pay a little extra to hire the best company you can find.  Let your planner help guide you on who to hire, chances are they've had a bad experience with more than one of the limo companies in your area.

***Additional note:  If you are getting married from late April through the beginning of June, you really need to jump on your limo situation.  Most brides don’t think about it, but it’s prom season — most limo companies will completely sell out on Fridays and Saturdays.

Happy Planning!

Xx Danielle

FYI Friday: What a Wedding Costs


Happy Friday! Yesterday, Lauren from Every Last Detail shared this amazing infographic of the actual cost of a wedding when you use a team of professionals.

Don't get me wrong, DIY touches are usually the sweetest and most memorable details at any wedding, but knowing when to DIY (or let your friends and family DIThemselves) is something your team of wedding professionals can help advise on to ensure that the event is not only beautiful, but stress-free and enjoyable for you (because THAT is the point of the whole day!!)

As you read through this, just remember these are NATIONAL AVERAGES and do not necessarily reflect pricing in your area (Sonoma County weddings average closer to $30k) and working with professionals can actually help to reduce some of the costs of your wedding. As a professional wedding planner, I can help advise on where you can cut corners, alternative options for vendors, suggest private venues that may not be available to the general "bridal" public, and help secure professional and industry discounts.



If you read through this and had a mild to moderate panic attack when you read $50k here's what I want you to do: TAKE A DEEP BREATH! and remember that you can celebrate your love and marriage with any size budget and still have a beautiful day that is uniquely you. For some ideas on how this can be done, contact Danielle today to schedule a complimentary consultation (See! You already saved $250!).

Happy Planning!

X Danielle


Tip Tuesday: Keep your sense of humor!

CONGRATULATIONS! You’re engaged! Bask in the happiness of knowing you get to marry the person of your dreams, and the adrenaline rush of getting 665 Likes on the status update of your big news! Seriously. Enjoy every minute of this carefree and joyous time, because once you’ve recovered from all the celebratory champagne and are ready to dive into that sea of tulle and cake tastings, these are the straight-up truths of planning your wedding:shutterstock_161918036-300x197

  1. It is not YOUR day. It is your fiance’s, who wants to rappel down a rope to your ceremony “Indiana Jones”-style, and have a Wang Chung cover band perform at the reception. It is your mom’s, who wants you to consider the new “smokin’ hot trend” of newlyweds going on their honeymoon with their parents. It is your dad’s, who thinks it would be really romantic (and cost-effective) to elope. It is your grandmother’s, who wants to sew your wedding dress. It is your girlfriend’s, who announces you can’t have a “nude/champagne/ivory” color scheme, because she was planning to do that one day. It is your relative’s, who says “You won’t really be married, unless you get married in a church.” Unless you are eloping, “your day” isn’t just yours; it also belongs to everyone who loves you, wants to be a part of this momentous occasion in your life, and means well when they suggest you get a spray tan for your wedding “so you’re not the same color as your dress.”
  2. Your big day will cost more than a car. And those “perfect,” fantasy weddings you read about in magazines? Some of those cost more than a house. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $28,400. I KNOW. Go pour a bucket of ice water on your head, scream into a pillow, then call your grandma and see what design she had in mind for that wedding dress… (BOOM! You just saved a few grand, and get a couture-bespoke-one-of-a-kind-Pin-worthy gown!)
  3. It’s time to hit the ground running. Totally enjoy that newly-engaged glow! But also know that (while it is totally, completely, 100% possible to plan a wedding in just a few months without having a nervous breakdown), the most desirable venues and photographers often book up a year out, wedding dresses take 6-8 months to make, and you are not the only bride getting married that day. If one aspect of the wedding is extremely important to you, plan far enough in advance that the venue/vendor will still be available. (This will be a relief to your fiancé, who has declared he “needs at least 9 months to plan the bachelor party.”)
  4. The DIY touches you pick to save money will be the most memorable. Your fiance’s mother and her best friends cooking and “waitressing” your rehearsal dinner will be one of the best meals of your life, and as fun a party as the wedding itself. Making hot fudge with your dad to put in tiny jars as wedding favors will be a day you never forget (and will look so chic, with your neutral palette color scheme!) And you will feel like a genius for making a fake “traditional wedding cake” for photos by stacking a tier of hat boxes, frosting and decorating them, and then actually serving the sheet cake you bought at the grocery store for a tenth of the price of an actualwedding cake. Added bonus to saving yourself loads of hot cash? Your wedding will be unlike any bride’s before you, and totally unique to you.
  5. The guest list will be more complicated thank a Rubik’s Cube. The day after you get engaged, your mom will send you her list of her 125 “best friends,” including the Chongs from Canada whom she met on a cruise (and whom you’ve never met). Your sister will tell you how excited she is to bring that guy she’s been talking to on Tinder as her +1. Your cousin will tell you her 6-year-old loves filet mignon, so don’t worry about offering a “kid’s menu!” Your dad will see how much it costs per person, and bring up that eloping idea again (which is actually sounding pretty great right now). Your mom will also tell you she doesn’t want to sit with your dad or her family at the wedding, she wants to sit at “the celebrity table.” Don’t forget to invite celebrities to your wedding, for your mom to hang with!
  6. You will get addicted to Pinterest. You used to laugh at those crazy bridezillas on “Bridezillas.” Now, you find yourself going down the rabbit hole (pin one picture, and it leads you to a whole new board of another 815 photos of “inspiration” to sift through), and all of a sudden, it’s 2am on a Tuesday and you’re scrolling feverishly through photo booth backdrop ideas, muttering “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
  7. Dress shopping is, essentially, a sporting event. You need to carb-o-load the night before, get a good night’s sleep, and drink lots of water, because you will have a stranger (otherwise known as a salesperson), wrestling you into sample size dresses made for girls this size http://hellogiggles.com/culture-shock-catwalk?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=HGFB&utm_campaign=post, you’ll be giving the dress a test run in the store’s clear plastic stripper heels (which are a total workout to attempt to walk in), and you’ll need to be mentally prepared for your mom’s happy tears of seeing her baby in a wedding gown. Or her tears of laughter at the sight of you looking like “The Bride of Frankenstein” in the dress she wanted you to try on in the first place.
  8. Everyone will want to know when you are having a baby. Wait! You just set a wedding date! You still want to hash out the pros and cons of fondant vs. cream cheese frosting! Why are we skipping “then comes marriage” and going straight to “the baby in the baby carriage?” Survival tip: Watch this http://hellogiggles.com/cuteness-break-baby-sloths-squeaking, and find solace in the fact that babies are basically just the human version of that. (And besides, you need something in the world to look forward to once your wedding is over, right?!)
  9. Your sense of rationality will go out the window. It was just a few months ago when you first got that rock on your finger, and you were nauseous at the average cost of a wedding… Ahhh, such simple, naive times! Now, you’re in the trenches. You will consider turning your closet into a grow house, not for illegal purposes, but to grow and supply the flowers for your wedding. (What do you MEAN, anemones aren’t in season in August?!?!) The discussion with your mother, of whether or not to rent “luxury Porta Potties” so there will be enough bathrooms for all the guests at your outdoor wedding by a lake, will end with one of you in tears. And you will think it is totally reasonable to want a Save-the-Date like this.
  10. None of this will matter at your wedding. At the end of the day, you’ll be marrying your best friend/love of your life, surrounded by the people who mean most to you in the world! That, right there, is a guaranteed #bestday, no matter what happens. Do what’s right for you, don’t go into debt over it, and be open to your loved ones’ advice and ideas. (To a certain point… Sorry, Mom, but you’re not coming on the honeymoon.) Happy planning!

This article originally appeared on HelloGiggles.com and was written by Annie Baria

Tip Tuesday: How to tip wedding vendors

Meghan_And_Emily-0685Tips are never obligatory―they are supposed to be expressions of appreciation for especially good service. That said, unless the service was terrible, would you walk away from a restaurant table without leaving one? The same applies to weddings: It is customary to show your gratitude by tipping many of the people involved in making yours a success. The following are guidelines to tipping those who helped make your special day an extraordinary affair...

Caterer/Banquet Manager
15% to 20% (usually included in contract, however, if the caterer or manager has done an exceptional job, an additional $1.00 - $2.00 per guest is suggested.)
15% to 20% (usually included in contract, however, if it is not included, the tip should be given to the maitre d' or head waiter along with an additional 1% - 2%.)
15% to 20% (if the bartender is not accepting tips from guests, an additional 10% is suggested, but not required.)
Limousine Drivers
15% to 20%
15% - 20% (gratuity is not usually required, however, if you feel he/she has done an exceptional job or has provided extra or special services, a tip is a wonderful gesture.)
$25.00 per band member (gratuity is not usually required, however, if you feel he/she has done an exceptional job or has provided extra or special services, a tip is a wonderful gesture.)
Photographer and Videographers
15% (gratuity is not usually required, however, if you feel he/she has done an exceptional job or has provided extra or special services, a tip is a wonderful gesture.)
15% (gratuity is not usually required, however, if you feel he/she has done an exceptional job or has provided extra or special services, a tip is a wonderful gesture.)
15% (gratuity is not usually required, however, if you feel he/she has done an exceptional job or has provided extra or special services, a tip is a wonderful gesture.)
Restroom and Coat Check Personnel
$0.50 - $1.00 per guest (if not accepting gratuity from guests, the host would be responsible for tipping personnel at the end of the event.)
Parking Attendants
$1.00 - $2.00 per car (if not accepting gratuity from guests, the host would be responsible for tipping parking attendants at the end of the event.)
$75.00 - $100 .00 (Note: It is appropriate for a clergy member (priest, rabbi, minister, etc.) to accept gratuities or a donation along with their regular fee (if any), however, civil officiants (judges, clerks, etc.) receive a flat fee and are usually not allowed to accept gratuities.)
Ceremony Staff
$35.00 - $75.00 is suggested for organists/musicians. $5.00 - $25.00 is suggested for altar boys, sextons, etc. (gratuity is not usually required, however, if fees for the above are not included in the ceremony site fees, the suggestions above are appropriate.)
Wedding Planners / Coordinators
10% - 20% (gratuity is not usually required, although, for something better than usual to exceptional a 10-20% tip is not unheard of.)
This article is from WeddingZone.com

Tip Tuesday: The Ins and Outs of Toasts

Today, I'm continuing my mission to help couples understand some of the more delicate and nuanced aspects of their wedding day. Having already declared 2014 The Year of the Wedding Guest, these tips will help you guide some of your VIPs through the intricate and high-stakes details of the toast.

577318_615373235145203_1276969722_nWho gives a toast?

Just about everyone involved with the wedding party will have an opportunity, if not an obligation, to make a toast. Definitely on tap are: the bride, the groom, the father of the bride, the father of the groom, the best man, the maid or matron of honor, and anyone hosting a party for the couple.

The Engagement Party

The first toast is made by the parents of the bride (tradition says the father of the bride has this honor, but in this day and age, there are many forms of family). Typically, it's made midway through the party - once all the guests have arrived and had a chance to mingle. If the groom's parents are present, a toast from them is also a nice touch. After this, the floor is open to friends and other family to toast the couple, and the couple to toast their hosts, parents, and future in-laws.

Rehearsal Dinner

The first toast is made by the dinner's host - traditionally the groom's parents - during the main course. The toast is often met by a "return toast" from the bride's parents. Then it's open season - the families of the bride and groom, the best man and maid/matron of honor, other wedding attendants, family, and close friends.

The Wedding Reception

Traditionally, the first toast at the wedding reception is made by the best man. This is the most formal of all wedding-related toasts, and it occurs after all the guests have been provided with champagne or a nonalcoholic alternative. At a sit-down dinner, the toast is made as soon as everyone is seated; at a cocktail reception, it's made after the couple arrives. It's fine if the best man's toast is the only one made. Often, the fathers of the couple will toast each other's families and the marriage of their children. The maid/matron of honor may offer a toast, and the bride and the groom may toast their families and each other.

Please Raise Your Glass

It's hard to wing a good toast; it's better if you prepare your remarks ahead of time. You'll never go wrong if you keep it short and sweet. The best toasts last a minute or two - three at most - and can even be just a few lines.

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Mike and Kathryn on their engagement. Let's raise our glasses to a long life filled with happiness and love for both of them. To Kathryn and Mike!

Known for your sense of humor? Jokes and funny stories about the bride and groom are fine; just keep the toast light and clean. Avoid personal stories, especially if they might be embarrassing to the couple.

I've known Mike since the third grade. When we were kids, he was famous for telling everyone, "You are not the boss of me!" Mike, I hate to break it to you, but Kathryn really is the boss of you now! Cheers to you both.

Then there's the tearjerker. If you want to express strong emotions, this is a great time, but if it doesn't feel natural, don't force it. Consider comfort levels, and save anything that should be said more privately for later

Kathryn, you're my only sister! You mean the world to me, and I am so happy that you have found Mike. I love you very much, and I wish you all the happiness you deserve.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Say it out loud, and get used to the sound of your own voice. It's fine to use a written copy or cue cards, but you'll sound more natural if you speak your toast instead of reading it.

Don't forget to take a deep breath and smile! Toasting a happy couple is honoring them and their love- you've been asked to be a part of their wedding for a reason, take your responsibility seriously and all will go well.


Xx Danielle