Q&A Series Part 2: Ask A Wedding Planner Anything!

I couldn't keep you hanging for long! Here is round two of Ask A Wedding Planner Anything. Clients ask planners these questions over and over (and over) so I figured, I would answer my most FAQ here!

Q. What happens if it rains on my wedding day? I am having an outdoor event!

A. I LOVE rain. Should I say that again? I LOVE rain on a wedding day. In many traditions it is good luck. In my family alone, it has rained on three generations of wedding days. Mine included! However, I understand not everyone has the same affinity for rain on weddings as I do. There is not much we can do to control Mother Nature; as best we try. If you had an outdoor wedding, it would always be advisable to have had a backup location built into the day well in advance. If we don’t need the rain location, then fantastic. If we do, then rest easy that I have the entire process of rearranging everything and everyone to the new venue all figured out. It is never a good idea to not have a back up plan. Any professional planner would be ill advised to not have brought up a plan B. Not to mention, most Photographers, DJ's and bands are not willing to plan an outdoor event without a back up plan as they won't want to risk damage to their equipment which costs thousands of dollars. 

Did I mention I love rain on weddings? This was my wedding...just a little biased! Photo Credit: Jazi Photo

Did I mention I love rain on weddings? This was my wedding...just a little biased! Photo Credit: Jazi Photo

Q. Why do we need to use vendors off of your preferred vendor list?

A. I have spent the better part of a decade cultivating relationships with some of the best vendors in the industry. Each client has a different vision, budget and idea of the perfect wedding. There is a photographer, videographer, caterer and DJ to go along with every client. If you just typed “photographer” into Google, you would get a thousand different results. You would have no idea if they are in your budget or if they “get” you and what you are trying to accomplish. It is my job to make sure they fit you and your fiancées style. Also, a side note, I DO NOT take a commission from any vendor on my list. I reserve the right to remove a vendor at any time for anything that does not match my brand or my expectations of a professional in the wedding industry. I ask that each vendor who would give me a commission, defer that back to you as a discount.

This was an actual event I attended...needless to say, I would not work with this company... Photo Credit: me. 

This was an actual event I attended...needless to say, I would not work with this company... Photo Credit: me. 

Q. Will you consider using someone who is not on your preferred list?

A. This can be tricky. Refer to the photo above.  If you have hired a professional vendor (insert category) before you hired me, I would need to review their information before I attach my name to them. If you want to use your “friend” who has a nice camera and enjoys taking photos at family parties, then unfortunately, we might not be the best fit. As your planner, it is my job to make sure you get the best possible professional vendor for your budget. You only get one chance to make this right and I would hate for you to not be thrilled with each vendor you choose. I am happy to consider each situation on a case by case basis, but generally, my answer is no.

Q. How do you handle the gifts and cards we get at the reception.

A. I immediately go shoe shopping! ☺  (not, really! But if you want to surprise me, I'm an 8.5 and Christian Louboutin's are my jam) In our extensive pre planning, we set a point person who will be responsible for taking the gifts and cards home at the end of the night. We also find a safe location for them to be stored until the point person leaves. This location could be in the locked bridal suite or in a someone’s car, etc. I do not take any gifts or cards in my vehicle at any time for any purpose. 

Thanks for checking in for round 2 of ask Ashley anything! Stay tuned for round 3...

Q&A Series Part 1: Ask A Wedding Planner, ANYTHING!

Believe me, no question is a silly one, especially if you haven’t worked with an event planner before! I wanted to start a 4 part series of top questions wedding planners get asked ALL THE TIME! Now, in full disclosure, these are my opinions and my responses to these FAQ. Other planners might handle situations differently but that is what makes the multitude of planners available perfect for clients. You (the client) can find someone who fits your specific needs! 

Q1. I am not sure I need an event planner. I have my mom/sister/aunt/friend and they can do it.

A. You have worked so hard planning the day of your dreams. I understand that letting someone else step in can be overwhelming. My job (or any planner's job) is to take what you have dreamed and execute it flawlessly. There are so many details that go into planning a wedding that cannot be completed until the day of the wedding. The special people in your life should be able to enjoy the day with you, primping and relaxing; not stressing about the delivery of the cake. They will do their absolute best, but in the end, they will turn to you for direction. When you have an event planner, you become the star, not the director.

Q2. What specifically does an event planner do?

A. There are many things that event planners do, there are also many misconceptions. Many people think that planners “take over the show.” In all actuality, working with me, is the complete opposite. I am honored to have been hired by you and your vision is my main goal. I engage each vendor as an equal partner to turn your day into reality. Each person involved has their part for a successful wedding. Depending on how involved you want to be, we work together to create the wedding of your dreams. I can either plan the entire event from start to finish or I can help in specific areas that you simply do not want to deal with! I offer guidance, unbiased opinions and knowledge of the industry. I establish vendor relationships in every aspect of the wedding. I can guide you to the best photographer, DJ, band, caterer who will also “get” your vision to create a unified event for you and your guests to enjoy.

Q3. How have you handled being behind schedule?

A. We live in a perfectly imperfect world and sometimes things happen. Being a skilled wedding planner, I buffer scheduled time into every aspect of the day. Sometimes, limos get flat tires and sometimes the ceremony runs longer than expected (or shorter!) I know how to handle these minor bumps in the road (as most professional planners do!) and notify all of the appropriate vendors who will also be affected to give everyone a heads up of the situation. The key is staying in constant communication with all vendors to create a seamless day. A minor bump in the road should not derail the entire day. As your event planner, I work with your vendors to gently guide you along the day.

A professional planner knows how to handle the minor bump in the road and not let it derail the entire day
— Ashley Radosav
Photo Credit: K+B Photo

Photo Credit: K+B Photo

The Best Day of the Year & a Halloween Corporate Party

It might not be such a big secret, but I love Halloween. I love everything about the holiday. I believe that my affinity for this special day came from my amazingly talented Mom who every year hand made my costume. We would start in June or July...I would look at all of the patterns at JoAnn Fabrics and decide what I wanted to be. My mom always started early, because she knew, inevitably, I would change my mind. In August, I would finally be settled on what my costume would be and she could officially begin! (Thanks for all of your patience, Mom!) As a family, we would then visit our Grandparents, because they of course, gave the best King size candy bars! We would end the night with home made beef vegetable soup (to keep my tummy warm while trick or treating) and pizza when we came back in to assess our newly found sugary riches. 

My very first Halloween...I was a Strawberry Ice Cream Cone! For those who know me...this is very fitting! 

My very first Halloween...I was a Strawberry Ice Cream Cone! For those who know me...this is very fitting! 

I have no idea how my mom made those puff sleeves, but boy...that took talent!  Side note, I also think I cut my own bangs...

I have no idea how my mom made those puff sleeves, but boy...that took talent!  Side note, I also think I cut my own bangs...

This right here is by far my favorite Halloween costume! I was Belle from Beauty and the Beast and of course my brother was Batman! I always did love a good Disney Princess! 

This right here is by far my favorite Halloween costume! I was Belle from Beauty and the Beast and of course my brother was Batman! I always did love a good Disney Princess! 

Now that it is clear, exactly how much I LOVE Halloween, let's review an epic corporate Halloween production I took part of. This event was for the Western Illinois University cultural arts program called The Bureau of Cultural Affairs. You can click here to support the arts and see what new theater productions they are bringing to the University. The BCA, as they are lovingly called, wanted to put on a full caliber Halloween production with a twist. Universities are chalk full of creepy, rundown spaces that might or might not work for an actual event. With much cajoling, we convinced the University to allow us to turn one of the creepiest spots on campus into a one night only theater. It actually helped, because that was the intended purpose back when the University was built! 

Check out that spooky lighting! Lighting is key in any event and can really make or break the atmosphere. When given the choice, ALWAYS spend the extra money for a good lighting company. 

Check out that spooky lighting! Lighting is key in any event and can really make or break the atmosphere. When given the choice, ALWAYS spend the extra money for a good lighting company. 

The band we selected,White Ghost Shivers is an eclectic American band based in Austin, Texas which claims cabaret, jazz, vaudeville, hokum, western swing, hillbilly, jugband and ragtime as its inspiration. Given the right setting and spooky lighting, this made for the perfect Halloween concert. They are still available for booking, so if you are planning your own spook-tacular Halloween event, look no further than White Ghost Shivers! 

The Bureau of Cultural Affairs staff with the cast of White Ghost Shivers

The Bureau of Cultural Affairs staff with the cast of White Ghost Shivers

Have a happy and safe Halloween! If you are planning on doing a Halloween themed party in the future, I am happy to provide some pointers on how to not make it a cheesy party but truly an epic, thoughtful, beautiful and perfectly crafted event. 

It’s just a bunch of HOCUS POCUS
— Max

Finger Lickin' Good Wedding Dessert Trends

Gone are the days of traditional weddings! One of the wedding traditions that I have seen begin to change in Chicago are wedding desserts. People are no longer looking to spend thousands of dollars on multi-tier vanilla wedding cakes to feed the masses.  People are getting much more intune with their personality, their tastes, budget and vision. Let’s cheers to these new and yummy dessert trends! I claim that these are “finger lickin' good!”

TOP 7 WEDDING/EVENT DESSERT TRENDS: (in no particular order)  S'mores Bar, Bacon Bar, Build your own Cupcakes, Donut Wall, Pie Bar, Ice Cream Bar & Naked Cake. I am sensing a trend...just put "bar" after it and it becomes a wedding dessert trend! 

This was my wedding cake back in 2014...while it is still personally my favorite (insert bias here) people are trending away from this look. Photo cred: Jazi Photo 

This was my wedding cake back in 2014...while it is still personally my favorite (insert bias here) people are trending away from this look. Photo cred: Jazi Photo 

Private Residence: S'mores Bar 

Private Residence: S'mores Bar 

Bacon Bar: who doesn't LOVE B.A.C.O.N and all of the warm, ooey, gooey toppings to put on it! Photo Cred: Jazi Photo

Bacon Bar: who doesn't LOVE B.A.C.O.N and all of the warm, ooey, gooey toppings to put on it! Photo Cred: Jazi Photo

I met Courtney from A Dash of Joy almost a year ago. She came up with a very unique custom dessert bar concept that has taken over Chicagoland! Check her out! 

I met Courtney from A Dash of Joy almost a year ago. She came up with a very unique custom dessert bar concept that has taken over Chicagoland! Check her out! 

Walls like this can easily be created, but this is from Johnny Doughnuts

Walls like this can easily be created, but this is from Johnny Doughnuts

How cute is this mini pie display? Credit here

How cute is this mini pie display? Credit here

Cook's Ice Cream" Cart & Concessions is a mobile event company providing premium hard-scooped ice cream, floats, and other treats for private events. Click HERE for more info

Cook's Ice Cream" Cart & Concessions is a mobile event company providing premium hard-scooped ice cream, floats, and other treats for private events. Click HERE for more info

Naked cakes have been around for awhile now, but this is a huge departure! Get creative with your naked cake! I LOVE turtle anything...but this cake! Photo Cred: Stephen Kent Johnson

Naked cakes have been around for awhile now, but this is a huge departure! Get creative with your naked cake! I LOVE turtle anything...but this cake! Photo Cred: Stephen Kent Johnson

Thanks for following along with my top wedding dessert trends. Don't mind me while I run to the nearest bakery and order one of everything! 

Chicago Wedding Planner Turns #FairyGodmother x 2

As a Chicago based wedding planner, I often spend my days prepping for clients and making sure that they are the highlight on their special day. This past weekend, I had the privilege and honor to support as Godmother, one of my dearest friends in the baptism of her second child, Xavier James. It was a special feeling knowing that someone on the planet chose me to help love, support and care for their child. This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Now, since we live about 400 miles apart, I will have to do much of this loving from afar, but I want Xavier to know that I am there for him. If he ever has questions or concerns and he doesn’t want to talk to Mom and Dad, I am available. I am an unbiased, third party that will always put his best interests at heart but someone that he won’t feel he will “get in trouble with”. I am the fun, gift giving Godmother who will spoil him rotten and sometimes (sorry, I'm not sorry, Kim) give him way too much sugar and send him home.

Xavier James, is wearing a bonnet that has been in his Dad's family for over 100 years! I hope he remembers me the next time I see him! 

Xavier James, is wearing a bonnet that has been in his Dad's family for over 100 years! I hope he remembers me the next time I see him! 

Ironically, this is not the first mom who has gifted me this special title. My other dear friend Mia, had selected this title for me a little over 5 years ago. Clark Joesph, was in my opinion, the first baby to not scream when I held him and actually be excited when I came through the front door. I will always love this kid for that warm welcome. He is the first kid to make me not hate all children and actually think they are not so scary...but sometimes they really are. ;-)

Clark Joseph, loves Halloween just as much as I do...I knew we would get along! Thanks for being such an easy going kid. 

Clark Joseph, loves Halloween just as much as I do...I knew we would get along! Thanks for being such an easy going kid. 

I love these little guys as if they were my own...but they are not...so I will just spoil them. Please enjoy this rare opportunity for me to be in the photos, instead of behind the scenes planning the party.

#VegasStrong & How What I Do Can Help

For months, I had been preparing to partake in the Wedding MBA conference in Las Vegas. This conference is for all wedding specialities (planners, florists, photo, video, etc) to come together to discuss new wedding trends, common business mistakes and how to better serve our clients better. Having never been to Vegas, I was beyond excited to visit Sin City (mostly for business...with a little fun mixed in). My traveling business buddie aka Mom and I loaded up our bags and headed to O’hare. Only after I got through security did I realize that I left my phone at home. I was completely detached from my contacts, my email and social media. Little did I know how this one small mistake would paint itself into a larger picture 12 hours later. (on the bright side, mom still had her phone, but I felt utterly naked without mine) we really are attached these days.

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Last Sunday, mom and I spent the day walking up and down the strip, looking at the hotels and enjoying our “1 special meal” at New York New York. We ended our dinner around 9:30 PM and were walking to MGM around 10 PM. Little did we know, we were a 6 minute walk away from the worst massacre in modern American history. While we were casually making our way back to catch a Gondola ride at the Venetian, we witnessed 10 squad cars fly down the strip. I turned to mom and said, I wonder if someone is robbing a casino. Because, that is what happens in Vegas, right? Someone looses everything and then decides to try and get it all back...no matter the consequences. I firmly believe that that Gondola ride (which we got to 10 minutes after it closed) was the only thing that kept us from walking down to check out the last three casinos on the strip...one being, Mandalay Bay. As we made it back to our hotel, Caesars Palace, we noticed that there was an increase in security...on bikes, walking around and everyone seemed on edge. Once again, it was for that casino robbery, right?!? This is Vegas...every square inch of this town is on camera, it has to be safe...right? At this time, no one knew what had happened. The news had not been notified and for a brief moment in time, Vegas was in survival mode...though, no one knew. Flash forward to 4AM PST I wake up to a phone call from a frantic husband telling me to turn on the news, stay in my room and that there is an active shooter on the strip. From that moment, my Vegas experience was forever changed. Everyone remembers their first time a little differently. My first Vegas trip will be emblazoned with the words #VegasStrong While I was not personally affected by this horrible tragedy, I witnessed a city of strangers come together to offer rides to the hospital, giving the clothes off their back to create tunicates and donations of blood. This is what makes America the greatest country in the world. In times of desperation and tragedy, we turn to our fellow neighbor and rise up to the level of our preparedness.

By Tuesday night, these two lines were plastered all over the city...

By Tuesday night, these two lines were plastered all over the city...

My business conference carried on in true Vegas fashion. I learned how to be a better wedding planner. I learned how to deal with situations that might make our hair stand up on end. I also learned about the latest and (sometimes not so great)est wedding trends and how I can implement them for my clients. Don’t get me wrong, it was not all work...I did enjoy sightseeing, checking out the amazing 7 Magic Mountain art exhibit and spending quality time with my colleagues and my mom ;-) 

Please, Chicago, let's not make this a thing...okay?!?!

Please, Chicago, let's not make this a thing...okay?!?!

I did hear one thing that really stuck with me this past week. During the wake of tragedy, people always say, “Gosh, this really puts things into perspective!” or “This is just a wedding, the little things are so meaningless during tragedy.” These comments could not be further from the truth. What I do matters. What you do matters. I am a wedding planner. I am the keeper of dreams and the memory maker for my clients. I might not be able to capture a mass shooter or donate a liver to someone in need. I CAN keep fighting for my clients. I CAN help them create a magical day. During tragedy, people inevitably turn to the good times in their lives. They turn to happy memories, they turn to the light. I am the keeper of those dreams and the maker of those memories for each and every client I have the pleasure of working with. THAT is what I can do in the wake of tragedy. Together, each doing our own part, we will win. We will not let fear tear us down. For together, we will remain #VegasStrong  

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Say my name, say my name, say my name...and how to change it!

What to do after you say “I Do”?

Well, the first thing is you go on your honeymoon! If circumstances do not permit jetsetting off to island bliss immediately following the vows, perhaps a mini-moon is more in your future. Whenever you and your boo come back to reality (I know, it stinks having to come back to the real world) most women choose to begin the arduous task of changing their last name. I do, however, support having the men change their last name, but it is still far too uncommon. Maybe in the next decade! Here are a few tips from my experience for getting the name change started.

Even years later, I find a few memberships that I have not changed. This is a long process, but it doesn't have to be hard! 

Even years later, I find a few memberships that I have not changed. This is a long process, but it doesn't have to be hard! 

 

  1. Get at least five original copies of your marriage license, (they are not really copies, but actual legal documents). Every institution where you need to send name change information will all require an “original” not a certified copy of the license.

  2. If you can change your name online, do it. It will save a great deal of time and effort.

  3. If you choose the online method, make sure you include ALL required documents. I tried to change my name for my social security card online, which started out all fine and good. However, I ran into problems when they made me mail in all of the required documents, and I forgot to include the MARRIAGE LICENSE! The one document that actually stated that I have a legal name change, and I forgot to put it in an envelope. I waited the standard seven to ten business days and was so excited to get the card in the mail. When I opened up the certified letter, it stated that they can not just “take my word for it” when it came to getting married! Go figure! So I had to go down to the social security office, and I wasted an hour and a half of my life waiting in line for all of the thirty seconds the name change took. Make sure you pay attention to the details!

  4. Credit cards proved to be fairly simple. I just called them up and stated that I got married. They did not even require me sending them a copy of the marriage license. In three days, I had new cards with my very new name.

  5. Contact your health care providers AND insurance provider.

  6. Discuss with your new spouse about joint bank accounts, life insurance beneficiaries, etc.

  7. Stop by your local, “friendly” DMV and let them know that you need to update your driver's license and car title if you still making car payments. (I don’t know how the DMV staff can be so grouchy all of the time, but I digress.) Smile pretty for your new photo id, although, I have never once taken a driver's license photo that I have actually liked.

  8. If you have a passport, update that. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Trust me, you will thank me after your first trip. Travel bug anyone???

  9. Finally, change any subscriptions you receive and let your educational institution know of your life change so they can continue to mail you alumni donation requests. 😉  

  10. Last, but not least, sit back with your new partner and enjoy becoming a whole new person, legally, that is.

5 Steps to Planning an Inter-Faith Wedding

America has the distinct privilege to host every color and nationality of person imaginable with different cultural and religious backgrounds. Each beautiful in their own way.

You never know who you are going fall in love with. Your soulmate could be the boy down the street or the girl on the other side of the globe. Each person comes with their own set of beliefs. When planning your wedding, it is important to remember that their beliefs are as important to them as yours are to you. Here are 5 steps to planning an inter-faith wedding. 

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Part 2: Ashley's Top 10 Wedding Planning Tips!

I knew I couldn't leave you hanging for long. Here is the second part of my top 10 tips for planning a successful wedding. Before we dive into the details, let's recap the first 5 from last week. Step 1. Get engaged. 2. Discuss with your fiancé what season you both want. 3. Discuss your budget. 4. Use Pinterest to find your vision. 5. Back away from Pinterest and narrow down your vision. Okay, let's dive right in to step number 6!

If your to-do list has got your feeling the blues, consider it might be time to bring in the pros. Photo credit: K+B Photo

If your to-do list has got your feeling the blues, consider it might be time to bring in the pros. Photo credit: K+B Photo

Step 6: If all of the budget creation, vendor research and contract negotiation has got you feeling a little overwhelmed, perhaps it is time to consider hiring a wedding planner. Wedding planners are not just for the affluent. With proper planning, everyone could potentially hire a wedding planner. There are different packages that offer different amenities and come at different price points. Do yourself a favor and don’t assume you can’t afford help. Help might just be your saving grace.

Hi, this is me! We should become friends. ;-) Photo credit: K+B Photo

Hi, this is me! We should become friends. ;-) Photo credit: K+B Photo

Step 7: If you have heeded my advice, you hired a wedding planner. Good for you! If you didn’t, that’s okay. You can still rock this! Take your budget, your vision and your priorities and select your top 3 venues that incorporate what you’re looking for. From these three venues, chat with them to see what options are available, what bundling (if any) can be done and what the guest count would look like at each space. Are you required to use their preferred vendor list for everything? Can you bring in any supplemental desserts? Do they have space for both a ceremony and reception? Where would guests go for cocktail hour? Based on these (and other) questions you review with them, you can narrow down your options to your best choice.

This venue is really awesome and super new. Join the cool kids and check out The Haight. Photo credit: Love & Ink Photography

This venue is really awesome and super new. Join the cool kids and check out The Haight. Photo credit: Love & Ink Photography

Step 8: Once your venue is booked (which should be your first vendor selected) start reviewing all of the other vendors you will need to hire. Why book the venue first you ask? Well, dear friend, because all other vendors hinge on the venue. Can you bring in an outside caterer? Most venues do not have stipulations on photographers, videographers or bakers. Based on what the cost of the venue (including or excluding F&B) revisit your priority list and determine from there where the rest of your money should be allocated. Some vendors include but are not limited to: florist, dj, band, caterer, photographer, videographer, linens, rentals, photo booth, transportation, hotel accommodations and bakers. If you both really value great photography, then clearly you would want to spend more money on a really fantastic photographer. If you maybe don’t necessarily care about linens, go with the house linens and don’t upgrade. Will the standard chairs work for you or do you need to rent prettier options? All of these come out of the specific allocation in the budget. Easy peasy.

What does your budget look like? Are you going to come in over or under budget? 

What does your budget look like? Are you going to come in over or under budget? 

Step 9: At this point, you should be noticing a common theme: budget. I know it is not super sexy, but it is oh, so important! The key to making the budget work is being realistic about your expectations. If you are expecting to feed 200 guests filet mignon, waldorf salad and soup for $3,000 this is an unrealistic expectation. If you could expect this same meal to run upwards of $28,000 this is a more realistic expectation. This same concept applies to wedding cakes, Djs, bands, photographers, videographers etc. If you expect a professional to work 8-12+ hours (just on the actual wedding day) not including all of the pre/post wedding work for minimum wage, these are unrealistic expectations. This is perhaps one of the most important days of your life and in turn, there is extra pressure applied to each of these services as you want it perfect, the vendors also want to exceed your expectations. These services do not come with a dollar store price tag.

Photo credit: Love & Ink Photography

Photo credit: Love & Ink Photography

Step 10: After all of the large pieces have been researched, hired and deposits paid for, it is important to remember why you are doing this. You love someone and that someone loves you. Never lose sight of the why. The wedding day is important, don’t get me wrong. What I am more concerned about is the day after the wedding and the next thousand days after the wedding. Building a life together, sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows is the goal of this entire process. Being a life partner is the ultimate goal and one responsibility as a planner that I do not take lightly.

Congrats! You made it through all 10 of my easy wedding planning steps. If at any point, you think you might need further clarification or help with a specific area of planning a wedding, anniversary, birthday or other special day, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly. Let's briefly recap these 10 steps. 1. Get engaged. 2. Discuss with your fiancé what season you both want. 3. Discuss your budget. 4. Use Pinterest to find your vision. 5. Back away from Pinterest and narrow down your vision. 6. Consider hiring help. 7. Find a venue that fits your style and budget. 8. Research and secure your other vendors (the good ones book quickly) 9. Be realistic about your expectations and last but not least 10. Remember why you are doing this in the first place. 

Through thick and this, Carrie and Big had their fair share of struggles. In the very end, they realized why they were in love in the first place and happily said I-do in a no name dress. Photo credit: Sex and the City

Through thick and this, Carrie and Big had their fair share of struggles. In the very end, they realized why they were in love in the first place and happily said I-do in a no name dress. Photo credit: Sex and the City