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Wedding Week – Decor and Details

July 10, 2013

Now the real fun begins… decor and details!

Whitney's Camera 712


We were lucky enough to have a gorgeous venue, but that didn’t keep us from indulging in flowers.  I wanted a neutral palate for the wedding but wanted the focus to be the flowers… fun pops of color against a natural setting.   Instead of giant centerpieces, I suggested going with a daintier, more eclectic set up of various flowers, vases and textures.  This differently helped in the cost department as well.  As I mentioned earlier, multipurpose arrangements (that can be used in the ceremony, then moved to the reception) are another great way to cut cost.  If you are attached to a particular type of flower (i.e. peony), that may not be in season during your wedding, ask your florist for other options that are in season, which can help keep you in budget (we substituted garden roses for peonies and I was just as happy).












This is where I had the most fun.  We wanted people to know they were at OUR wedding… so this was a great way place to add monograms, personalized napkins, fun favors, customized menus, etc.  Cost can really add up but here are some of my suggestions:

  • Invites/Programs: We used for our Invitations.  They do a great job of customization without breaking the bank (we also bought a $100 gift card for $50 on  They also offered ceremony programs in the same suite, so we did that to add a fun touch to the day.




  • DIY Menus: I went to and downloaded similar fonts to the ones used in our invitation suite.  From there I used publisher to create napkin bands with our menu on it (I picked up thick craft paper from Michael’s that I used for any DIY printed project for the wedding… so cheap!).



  • Ceremony Favors: We passed out bubbles, sunglasses and fans (not needed on our dreary wedding day unfortunately) and made fun little signs to put next to them.





  • Personalized Details: had some super affordable personalized items. Some things we picked up – personalized napkins, lollipops, etc.



  • Seating Chart/Place Cards: I hand wrote our seating chart on black poster board (I was hoping it would look like a chalkboard!?), and then printed place cards and tied them with raffia around small paper bags that we placed a baguette in.



  • Other: We also created DIY straws with our favorite saying, a fun photo collage of pictures of us, sparklers (that we forgot to use) for the end of the reception, a DIY drink menu with our reception’s specialty drinks and DIY glittered letters to delegate the gift table.








  • Lawn Games: We bought a corn hole game and ladder golf to bring to our cocktail reception.  It was a great way to get everyone interacting, and what better way to get people acquainted than with some friendly competition?!


*Images by John Plus Louise Photography



Wedding Week – Venue and Vendors

July 9, 2013

Welcome to Day 2 of Wedding Week! Today is all about venue and vendors.  This is very different for everyone, so I am just going to talk about my experience…

Carmel Valley Ranch Wedding


J and I got married at Carmel Valley Ranch.  We wanted a destination wedding (originally wanting to get married in Hawaii), but realized the logistics weren’t realistic for us and our family/friends.  CVR was a place we spent a lot of time together while we dated (and the first place we said “I love you”), so we felt it the perfect spot to start this next chapter together.


It was the perfect distance from home (1.5 hours away – far enough for people to spend the weekend with us, but not too far that airfare was involved for most guests).  We wanted to share our favorite place with everyone and make a mini vacation out of it, so having our wedding at a resort was a great option for us. Here are the Top 5 pro’s and con’s to a Hotel/Resort Wedding:


  1. Everything can be at one site (wedding/reception)… guests don’t have to worry about transportation/wait times between venues.
  2. You don’t need to rent much (i.e. plates, tables, chairs, etc.) as you would if you were planning on offsite wedding, BUT beware of what is included in your package.  We decided to go our own direction with linens, some decor for the ceremony, etc. that was not included in our base package, and those add-ons can add up.
  3. You don’t have to decide on many vendors.  This is a pro/con depending on who you ask, but if you like the food at your venue, the fact that the caterer/servers/bartenders are already chosen for you can help simply some major points on your checklist.
  4. Lodging is onsite.  Our wedding was during peak season (which did not help room rates), but it is great to have all your guests in a central area.  Everyone was able to get ready for the wedding together, hot tub at night and enjoy the pool the following day together.
  5. Less negotiating. When most of your vendors are coordinated through the hotel, you are able negotiate on the front end with pricing, etc. but the hotel handles payment of personnel that helped with your event.  It helps to not have to tip out everyone the night of your wedding, or deal with payment schedules for all 20 of your vendors.



  1. Creative limitations.  It depends on policy of your venue, but hotel chains may have corporate regulations they have to adhere to.  Our hotel was open to pretty much everything requested, but (as we later learned) there was a cost with pretty much everything.  Don’t assume that having someone hang string lighting for your reception is included with your payment (keep an eye out for hidden fees and keep on top of your budget).
  2. Preferred Vendors.  Most hotels have a list of preferred vendors.  If you have a florist, band, etc. in mind that isn’t on that list, make sure they will make the exception.  Also, if your esthetic doesn’t match with the hotel’s preferred vendors that can be a deal breaker.
  3. Distance.  Our location was about 2 hours away, so we couldn’t check out the space or meet outside vendors there on a regular basis.  If you are organized this isn’t an issue, but it is something to be aware of if you think you will need to have a significant amount of vendor meetings.
  4. Timing.  Be aware of events going on during the time of your wedding.  We originally booked a date that coincided with a major event in the Monterey area.  Although we could book our wedding, hotel room rates were starting at $1000/night with a 5 night minimum.  Considering we could not afford that, we were not going to ask our guests to… so ask the hotel if any events are scheduled on or around the time of your wedding that could affect availability of vendors/room rate pricing.
  5. Money.  It is not the most cost effective route to have your wedding at a hotel/resort.  It is definitely not the most expensive option, but for those who are being extra budget conscious, this may not be the option for you.  Room rentals, open bar, extra appetizers, linen upgrades, etc. really do add-up, but in the end we felt that the pros outweighed the cons for our venue choice.



Our venue included:

  • Caterer
  • Bartender
  • Set-up/Clean-up
  • Day of Coordinator


But we did need to find the following on our own:

  • Florist: Bloomsters has done every event I’ve put on, from my Junior Prom to all 10 of our dealership’s Grand Openings.  If you live in the Bay Area do yourself a favor and check them out.  Kren is amazing and you just give them an idea of things you like and they run with it and create something even better than you dreamed!  A few cost tips: request that multi-purpose arrangements that can be moved from the ceremony to the reception,  if you can manage it – transporting the arrangements to and/or from your venue can cut down cost (we just brought it back home because I didn’t want to deal with it the day of, but it helped save a few bucks).
  • Band: We hired Brett Young, who we heard playing at a wine bar on our first trip to Santa Monica.  He wasn’t marketed as a wedding entertainer, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.  He (and Randy Coleman) drove down from LA for the night and woed our guests with their amazing voices (and their looks didn’t hurt either).
  • DJ: We went with our hotel’s coordinator on this one.  Start jotting down songs you like now, because they will ask you for a list of your favorites and that is one thing I wish I had put more time into.  I still hear stuff to this day that I wish I would have put on that darn list!
  • Wedding Officiant: This is a very personal decision, but make sure you have someone up there who you are comfortable with/knows what they are doing.  We were really lucky with our officiant, and he actually made the ceremony fun! I was expecting to be terrified the whole time I was up there, but (as shown by the trillion double chin/laughing pictures from our photographer) I had a blast getting married!


If you are using a wedding planner or getting married at a venue that provides a coordinator, they will be able to point you in the right direction of vendors if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Part of my job includes event coordinating, so I had a few vendors in mind ahead of time, which made choosing a bit easier.

Does anyone have any other advice or questions on picking a venue or vendors?

*Images by John Plus Louise Photography