Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interview Questions for your Rehearsal Dinner Venue

Let the wedding activities begin! Usually the day before the wedding, many couples participate in a wedding rehearsal practice, so at the wedding everyone participating knows what to do. American tradition stipulates that after the wedding practice, many families will have a coming together of the two families and have a rehearsal dinner.

Tradition also states, the groom's family handles the costs associated with the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner gets the wedding period started and sets the tone. It is not a requirement though, for the groom's family to fund the rehearsal dinner, if money is tight, families may opt to split the costs, sometimes the wedding couple will cover the event, or a wealthy member of the family can sponsor it, sometimes a boss of a small business even offers to cover expenses.

Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner? The bride and groom and the wedding party, the parent's of the bride and groom, and the parent's of the flower girl and the ring bearer. Also siblings of the bride and groom that are not too distant in age are invited and very close friends of the bride and groom that aren't part of the bridal party are invited plus children of the bride and groom from a previous marriage should be there.

Optional choices to the rehearsal dinner, are the spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends of the bridal party, other brothers and sisters of the bride and groom, the flower girl and the ring bearer. Grandparents on both sides of the family of both the bride and groom are optional invites. The officiant and their spouse if they have one are also an optional invite. Any out-of-town guests that travel a long distance to attend the wedding are optional choices to the rehearsal dinner also.

Where can you have a rehearsal dinner? You can have a rehearsal dinner almost anywhere that has a private area that fits the amount of guests needed, on average about 50 guests attend a rehearsal dinner, but could be more or less. Rehearsal dinners can be held at many different types of venues, many are held in nice restaurants that feature a private area and are decorated in a similar fashion as the wedding. The rehearsal dinner though should not be as elaborate as the wedding reception and not upstage the wedding. Also, the type of meal served is suppose to be a different entree than what is being served at the wedding reception. If beef is one of the main entrees at the wedding reception, something else should be served such as a seafood dish, Asian dish, Mexican dish or any meal that is quite different.

Besides having a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, you can also have it at a banquet hall, on a yacht or yacht club, a golf club, a country club, a unique space, or it could be a barbecue, a backyard picnic with a tent, a pool party or you can even have a fun outing such as going bowling, golfing or others arrange for a private location at a stadium or arena.

Usually the rehearsal dinner is set up this way, there may or may not be a cocktail hour. If there is drinking, it should be social drinking with no one having more than two drinks, you want all to be in good shape for the wedding. Hors d'ouevres and appetizers might be served but doesn't have to be. The food can be served in many different fashions, sit down dinner with three choices, anything off the menu just like a restaurant, or served buffet style. If the event is held out of someone's home, the meal could be barbecue, could be picnic style, it could be potluck, or if it's a poor man's wedding everybody could bring along their potluck recipe.

After the main course is over, some families might have a groomsman cake. The cake might be made by the bride, the groom's mother, or made by the venue or bakery. The groomsman cake is usually a cake decorated according to the groomsman hobby and a favorite flavor of the groom, often it is chocolate or chocolate fudge. The only rule, the cake can't look like a regular white wedding cake.

Often at rehearsal dinners, after the dinner, speeches and toasts are given. Usually the toastmaster of the rehearsal dinner is the best man, who gives a speech about the wedding couple, a speech that is no more than five minutes. The toastmaster then lets other guests to offer advice, how special the couple was to them, each person that gives a speech should talk for no more than two minutes. The toastmaster could also be the groom's dad or can be the maid of honor, someone who is comfortable acting as an emcee.

Some wedding couples offer bridesmaid and groomsmen offering special favors to their bridal party, these are special gifts for participating in their wedding, gifts aren't required though. Also an option is having music entertainment or decorating the room for the rehearsal dinner, it's not important though, depends on one's financial situation. Some rehearsal dinners might include a game, such as the bride's likes and dislikes or a quiz on how the couple met. The important thing though, you don't want the couple obliged to make it too late of an evening, the next day is the big wedding day, social drinking is fine but you want all in attendance to be feeling well for the wedding.

Before meeting with managers of rehearsal dinner venues, the groom or his family should be handling the interview if they are the ones paying, know the date you need the venue, know about your budget, know about how many guests you plan to invite, and you should try to have it no more than 15 minutes in distance from the rehearsal practice location, absolutely no more than 30 minutes in distance. Also you should know other particulars such as a want or not for alcohol, music, and decorations.

Interview Questions for a Rehearsal Dinner Venue
1-Is there a brochure about the venue, what is the name of the venue, the address of the venue, and the phone number of the venue? does the venue have a website address?
2-Can we get a business card of the manager, what is the name of the manager who we are speaking to, their phone number, their email or other contact information?
3-Is the manager the same person that would coordinate our rehearsal dinner event? if it's another person what is the name, phone number and contact information such as their email address?
4-Will the venue be available, the date of our wedding rehearsal? (if no, can you recommend any venues that will be available for the date of our rehearsal dinner, interview over?)
5-What private areas are available in the venue for our rehearsal dinner? how many guests can fit in that space? is the space cut off totally by other patrons or can be viewed by other patrons?
6-How long has the venue been in operation?
7-At what time can the rehearsal dinner begin and what time must the event be over?
8-What type of foods does the venue offer? what are the chefs specialties? are we allowed to bring an outside caterer?
9-How should the food be distributed? guests pick a choice of 3 entrees? operates like a restaurant, guests have a choice of anything on the menu? the food is prepared on buffet tables and the guests help themselves?
10-How many years of experience do cooks have?
11-How many rehearsal dinners has the venue done? done in the past year? done in the past month?
12-How does the manager or coordinator like to communicate? (email, texting, or other)
13-Might other events be happening at the same time or around the time and day of our rehearsal dinner?
14-How many people that work in the kitchen that would be devoted to the rehearsal dinner?
15-Is there a bar? can alcohol be served? does it supply it's own alcohol? does the venue have their own liquor license?
16-Does the venue have their own bartenders? if so how many bartenders? does the venue supply it's own liquor? can we bring our own bartenders? can we bring our own liquor? can we bring beer, wine, and champagne? is there a corkage fee? is there a minimum alcohol charge? how much experience do the bartenders have? (general rule is one bartender for every 50-60 guests)
17-How many wait staff does the venue have for our wedding rehearsal dinner? how many wait staff would be needed for our dinner? are any more wait staff needed? are any busboys needed? is there a cake cutting or dessert serving fee? (general rule is one waitress for every 10-15 guests)
18-What choices do we have in choosing the entrees for the rehearsal dinner?
19-Is there a menu we can look at to determine our choices?
20-At what date do we need to provide a final headcount and make food choices?
21-What desserts and coffee choices are available to be served at the rehearsal dinner?
22-Is it possible to offer a cocktail hour for our rehearsal dinner? if yes where would be the cocktail hour? what time before the rehearsal dinner can it be? can hors d'oeuvres or appetizers be served for the cocktail hour? what choices would there be?
23-Can we view the locations that would be available for the rehearsal dinner?
24-What tables, chairs, serving tables, serving equipment, dishes, flatware, glasses, cups and saucers, any other equipment are available for the rehearsal dinner? is any extra or other equipment needed for the rehearsal dinner?
25-Does the venue offer a groomsman cake? if so, can the groomsman cake be designed to a theme? can we bring our own groomsman cake? where would the groomsman cake be situated?
26-Does the venue offer a food testing? for entrees? for appetizers? for desserts?
27-How might the seating area be arranged for the rehearsal dinner? where would the bride be located? groom be located? best man be located? maid of honor be located? bride's parents be located? groom's parents be located?
28-Are there pictures of prior events we can look at?
29-Is there any problems giving speeches and toasts? does the venue have any microphone and speakers for speeches? if so, where would be outlets for this equipment?
30-Would there be any problems presenting bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts to our bridal party?
31-Would there be any problems having rehearsal games or activities? (forward any information you hear to your maid of honor and best man)
32-Does the venue offer cleanup or do we? is there any additional cost for cleanup?
33-Are there any music or DJ restrictions at the venue? does the venue provide musicians or DJs? can we bring in wedding musicians or DJs? are there any noise restrictions at the venue?
34-Are there restrictions the venue has that we need to know about? (no open flames from votive candles, smoking, other)
35-Would there be any problems if we brought in our own photographer or videographer?
36-Does the venue decorate the venue themselves for the rehearsal dinner? are there decoration restrictions?are we allowed to decorate the venue ourselves? are we allowed choice of dishes? are we allowed choice of linens? are we allowed to have centerpieces? are we allowed to decorate the place settings? are we allowed to have decorated lighting? are we allowed hanging fabrics? are we allowed to decorate any other areas such as the entrance? are we allowed to do anything to the outside? is a patio area available?
37-Are there any private areas where guests can talk in private conversation?
38-Is there a coat rack at the venue? is there an attendant for the coat rack?
39-Where are bathrooms located? what condition are the bathrooms?
40-What is the parking situation at the venue? how many guests can park? are there secured parking spots? are valets needed? are security people needed? is public transportation available? how far away are stops?
41-What would be the final cost for the rehearsal dinner?
42-What would be the cost per person for the rehearsal dinner?
43-Are there any hidden costs? what are the taxes? what are the gratuity costs? (all gratuity costs are suppose to be covered by the groom's family)
44-What happens if overtime is needed?
45-Does the venue have liability insurance?
46-What is the refund and cancellation policy?
47-At what date do we need to sign a contract or book the venue?
48-When would first deposit be needed?
49-When would final payment be due?
50-Is there any special packages or discounts offered for the rehearsal dinner location?
51-Can we review the contract and take it with us to review before signing?
52-Are there any accommodations nearby that the venue recommends for our guests? are any discounts available for our guests?
53-Is there anything that was missed that needs to be addressed?
54-Can we get 3 referrals from brides from other rehearsal dinners over the past year? (contact at least 2)

Make sure in the evaluation of the venue, take into consideration the professionalism of the staff, how they are dressed, how nice the place is, how well the manager and coordinator communicates and how easy they are to deal with and are available to communicate with. Always check out a minimum of 3 venues before deciding on which one to go with. If the groom's family is from out of town, help the groom's family out giving them a number of choices of nice places in which they might consider holding the rehearsal dinner, and don't dictate where it must be.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview Questions for your Wedding Calligrapher

Wedding invitations are the focal point of your wedding stationary, they provide the first glimpse into the style an formality of your wedding. The wedding invitation serves as the first impression of your upcoming marriage and how they are designed and set-up has an influence and affects decisions of your guests.

Wedding invitations include various attachments to provide help in the decision process and besides inclusion of the wedding invitation of where and what time the ceremony will be, also includes a contact back card which is called the RSVP, where and what time the wedding reception will be, directions, food choices, the date the RSVP is expected back, and other particulars about the wedding period.

Traditionally, calligraphy is often used to announce the wedding. Calligraphy, which is an elborate form of lettering, is used in weddings because it's an extraordinary form of writing, only experts can create good calligraphic writings. Wedding invitations are keepsake materials from the wedding, and special paper and ink are used to last a person's lifetime.

As you begin your search for a personal calligrapher for your wedding, there are a number of things to look for in your questioning. Does the calligrapher create a style that you like? Can the calligrapher prepare your invitations for the dates you want the invitations out, adding a little leeway, can they meet your budget. Your questioning of what the distributor can provide, you want to cover the style of the calligrapher, whether there is a wedding theme or color scheme you want the invitations to match against. You also want to review the type of paper, the size of type, the type of ink used, and the calligraphy or font types to be created.

It's a good idea after the invitations and other material being prepared is reviewed thoroughly. First, have a sample packet created and get your okay before creating the invitations on a massive scale. When all the invitations are ready, inspect all the invitations. Check all the invitation material for spelling mistakes, make sure the ink shows well on every card (maybe a color of ink runs dry when printing and the color tone changes), check for oops ink smudges, and verify name and addresses are correct. It's always a good idea to have two or three sets of eyes looking over the material. Something may be obvious to you but an extra pair of eyes might find a mistake you did not find.

You should give your calligrapher a little leeway when you are working with them to create your wedding invitations. A calligrapher's work is very tedious and you don't want them to make mistakes because you are rushing them and apply pressure. Often behind the scenes they are working for multiple clients and might not divulge the fact because they want your business too. Calligraphers are pretty good at prioritizing their work load or if they feel they can't meet the workload, they probably would turn your request down.

When dealing with calligraphers, add in your mind an extra week for a commitment date. Don't forget to inspect all invitations thoroughly before shipping them out. It's a good idea to order 20 additional invitations per every 100, oops smudges, address and name corrections, late additions often happen as invitations are prepared. Don't forget to inspect the extra material such as the RSVP also.

Work with the calligrapher on verifying, and how to get the invitations to you. Give the calligrapher typed names and addresses to avoid misspelling mistakes. When dropping the invitations or shipping company, also drop the materials off to a live person and inform the person these are wedding invitations, to insure the invitations are properly handled. Never drop the invitations in a mail slot.

Wedding Invitation Theme Ideas
Alma mater, angels, Asian, autumn, beach, border style, bride/groom, butterflies, Caribbean, castles, Celtic, cherubs, christian, cowboy, cruise theme, cultural, daisies, Disney, doves, Egyptian, fireworks, floral, fourth of July, Halloween, Hawaiian, hearts, Indian, Irish, island destination, island theme, ivy, Japanese, Las Vegas, lilies, medieval, Mexican, Miami, nature, New York City, outdoor, rainbow, religious, renaissance, ribbons, roses, seashells, spring, sunflowers, swans, tulips, valentine, Victorian, wedding bells, wedding rings, western, winter.

What is Commonly Included in the Body of a Wedding Invitation

Who is getting married and who is announcing it
Date of wedding (Written out in letters - i.e. First of April, Two Thousand Twelve)
Location of ceremony
Time of ceremony (Written out in letters - i.e. Three o'clock in the Afternoon)
Time and place of wedding reception (Written out in letters)
Dress code
Location of bridal registry
How to RSVP and by what date
Maps and directions
Other info (transportation details, hotel locations and contacts, couples business cards, etc)

The wording on a wedding invitation tends to be formal rather than informal

Possible Other Stationary Needs

Save-the-Date cards or magnets
Wedding announcements
Thank-you cards
Shower Thank-you cards
Engagement party
Bachelor/Bacherlorette parties
Rehearsal Dinner
After party
Wedding Program
Pew Cards
Place Cards
Table Cards
Napkins, Matchbook, Labels for Favors
Seating Chart Board for Wedding Reception
Update to Ancestry Chart (Leave spot for signatures and future children)

Before your meeting with your calligrapher you should know your wedding date, the budget you are working with, have a ballpark figure of the amount of wedding guests, if you've decided on your color scheme bring that along and if you have decided on a wedding theme. Remember to add an extra week in your head, from the committed deadline from which the calligrapher says the wedding invitations should be ready. For every 100 invitations allow one week for the calligrapher to work on them. For example, expect 300 invitations to take 3 weeks to be prepared.

Interview Questions for your Wedding Calligrapher
1-What is the name, address, phone number, and website address of the calligraphy or invitation company?
2-Ask for a business card, what is the name, address, and phone number of the calligrapher?
3-Can the calligrapher create invitations by the date we need to send them out? (if no, does the calligrapher know of another calligrapher that could meet that date? interview is over)
4-Can the calligrapher meet our budget? (if higher than over 25% of our budget, interview is over)
5-How long has the calligraphy or invitation business been in operation?
6-How long has the calligrapher been creating wedding invitations?
7-How many clients would you say have you done work in your career? in the past year? in the past month?
8-Can we see samples of your work?
9-Can you well me about your business background? have you received formal training? where and when?
10-Is the work you do in-house or is some of it outsourced?
11-How many clients do you currently have?
12-Do you need a guarantee of a certain amount of invitations?
13-Do you offer custom invitations as well as template styles?
14-Can you create wedding invitations to our wedding theme or color scheme?
15-What are our options for style of wedding invitations?
16-What are our options for paper type of wedding invitations?
17-What are our options for color for our wedding invitations?
18-What are options for fonts or calligraphy for our wedding invitations?
19-What are options for size of font or calligraphy for our wedding invitations? what is the character or word limit for the text?
20-What are ink options for our wedding invitations?
21-What should the wedding invitation wording be?
22-Can you review the process of how you make the wedding invitations?
23-Can we see a sample of our order, before committing to producing all out invitations?
24-Once we place the order, how long will it take to have the completed invitations? is rush-order available? are there fees associated with rush-order?
25-What happens if you make an oops mistake? what happens if we find color or tint is off a little? what happens if we find names or addresses need to be changed on the invitations? what happens if there are more invitations need to be added after the first invitations were created?
26-What components of pieces are included in the wedding invitation? is an outer envelope included? is an inner envelope included? is the invitation included? is a reception card included? (if different than the ceremony site) are directions/map included? is a response card & SASE included? (self addressed stamped envelope)
27-Can you give a demonstration how the wedding invitation should be stuffed?
28-If the invitation involves multiple pieces, who is responsible for assembling them? do we? does yourself? are there additional fees? how will the assembly affect the delivery dates?
29-How does the communication process work between us?
30-Do we have an opportunity to inspect invitations before they go to print and before they are ready to be shipped out? can we bring extra eyes along to review the invitations? where does the inspection of the invitations happen? what happens if some invitations need to be redone? how much time would it take for invitations to be redone? who bears the cost for invitations that must be redone?
31-Are extra invitation pieces picked up for oops, name & address changes, toner problems, and additional wedding guest needs? (rule of thumb order 20 extra pieces per 100 needed)
32-How should the mailing process work? do you mail the invitations or do we mail the invitations? or does a shipping company?
33-How should the invitations be stamped?
34-Can we provide pictures that go onto some of the wedding invitation components? how best can we get pictures to you?
35-Do you have any recommendations concerning having our wedding invitations refer our wedding guests to view us on Youtube, our own web page, or on Facebook?
36-If maps are needed, what process do use to create maps?
37-What other calligraphy or invitation pieces do you do? Save-the-Date cards? wedding announcements? thank-you cards? shower thank-you cards? engagement party cards? shower invitations? bachelor/bachlorette party card? rehearsal dinner invites? after party cards? wedding programs? pew cards? place cards? menus? seating arrangement boards? an ancestry chart board with signature spots and future children? offer personal napkins, matchbooks, or labels for other favors?
38-Do you offer a price list?
39-Once we get our wedding guest list to you, how long will it take to create all the invitations from the list? (in your head add an extra week to be safe with your timeline)
40-At what date would you need our invitation headcount?
41-To meet our wedding timeline, at what point are the names and addresses required? (make sure you get a typed list to your calligrapher to minimize the chances of misinterpreting names and numbers from a written list)
42-How much will the wedding invitations cost?
43-Are there hidden charges we need to be concerned about?
44-When is first deposit due and how much?
45-When would final payment be due and how much?
46-Do you offer any packages or is there any discount opportunities?
47-What is your refund policy if for some reason we need to cancel our order?
48-What happens if you get sick or have a personal emergency before the invitations are sent out?
49-Can you lay out the contract in detail, what all costs will be that were discussed? may we take the contract home with us to review before signing? at what date must you receive the contract back and signed?
50-Can we get 3 referrals from other brides that have used you in the past year? (contact at least 2)

To be comfortable in getting a good deal, interview at least 3 calligraphers before deciding who to go with, try to meet with each calligrapher in person, you want to inspect their work in person and not from a picture from an attached file. If the invitations are done through snail mail, have a sample mailed before okaying a batch of invitations processed. It is recommended still to work with a calligrapher in person in the event of mistakes or changes can be turned around more quickly. Keep your wedding invitations as a keepsake in the back of your wedding album.

See you on the other side!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview Questions for your Hotel Wedding Coordinator

The great thing about four and five star hotels is that in recent years they have gotten very good at running weddings. Many of these resorts have hired outstanding wedding coordinators. These places handle most of the wedding planning chores, so not too much effort is needed by the bride, almost the only work she has to do is find herself a beautiful dress and determine what the clothing is needed for the bridal party.

Many couples think they can't afford a wedding at a beautiful hotel resort, that's further than the truth. You see at weddings at hotels, they offer all sorts of bundling of services which saves the couple a lot of money. Many four and five star hotels have designed a ceremony site on their premise, matter of fact many have two ceremony spots, one for outdoors if the weather is nice, and one indoors if there is inclement weather.

At these resorts, you work with their wedding coordinator to help you plan your wedding. There is a lot to cover. You might start out with the ceremony sites and how many guests you plan for the wedding, they may have a number of spots in their venue depending on the amount of wedding guests. Most resort hotels hire outstanding chefs who can prepare gourmet meals and offer all the extras such as scrumptious hot hors d'oeuvres, delicious desserts, a good coffee bar, and even offer an eye appealing wedding cake. Many of the hotels even provide beautiful ice sculptures.

The hotels have under contract many wedding vendors that are on their list of preferred vendors, most of these vendors have had to prove themselves to the hotel in order to make their preferred list. The hotel may offer or may require for you to use in-house wedding musicians, disc jockeys, in house wedding photographers, wedding videographers, bartenders, wait staff, and even have florists and decorators. The wedding coordinator often has a seat planning tool to help you out in your floor planning of your wedding reception. A few wedding coordinators will even help you out with your invitation process, help you gather your wedding guest list, help you design your invitations, and handle your RSVPs and put your wedding favors together.

One the nice things about weddings at hotels, it makes it easy to transition the wedding ceremony to the wedding reception all the events are right there all together, you don't need to travel. Many hotels have great areas to host dance bands, music groups, rock groups, or jazz bands for your wedding. Many have a built in dance floor. They also offer many amenities at the hotel such as health spas, beauty centers, decorative swimming pools, and fancy restaurants.

The wedding area often offers a bar for drinking, and a place for your guests to stay. The wedding couple often gets a free hotel suite once a threshold is reached of a certain amount of rooms booked. Usually hotels will require the couple to block a quota of rooms, it may be 6, 10, 15 or something other. If the couple can afford it, a great idea for out of town guests is to leave a gift basket of local goodies, as an appreciation for traveling afar to come to their wedding. The gift basket should be loaded with bottles of a drink, maybe mineral water, munchies, local treats, a schedule of events, and a map and things to do in the area.

There might be some of your guests that might not be able to afford the hotel of the wedding. You should also try to find a less expensive hotel in the area they might consider staying at and how to get to it such as a shuttle. You might even find a family or friend for some out of town guests to stay with.

The following is a list of questions you might ask a wedding coordinator for your hotel or resort, because of bundling of services, there are a lot of questions to ask to go over.

Interview Questions for your Hotel Wedding Coordinator
1-Ask for a brochure, what is the name of the hotel, address, phone number, and website information?
2-Ask for a business card, what is the name of the wedding coordinator, phone number, and contact information such as their email address?
3-What is the name of the hotel manager, phone number, and email address?
4-Is the hotel available for the date of our wedding?
5-Can the hotel have enough room for the amount of our wedding guests?
6-Can the hotel handle the budget we have for our wedding?
7-How long has the hotel been in operation?
8-How many weddings does the hotel handle in a year? during a typical week? during our wedding week? on our wedding day?
9-How many years has the wedding coordinator been handling weddings?
10-How many weddings has the wedding coordinator handles in their lifetime? in the past year? in the past month?
11-How does the wedding coordinator like to communicate? how often do they communicate?
12-Are other weddings or events happening at the hotel the day of the wedding or do we have the only wedding happening?
13-Is there a portfolio of pictures of other weddings they can share?
14-Does your hotel offer a wedding site location for our wedding ceremony? if so, how many guests can fit in the location? do you have chairs for the location? how will the location be laid out? how will the location be decorated? are there props and decorations for the ceremony?
15-Can a tent be used or can we bring a tent for the outdoor wedding ceremony site?
16-How many wedding reception locations do you have? what does each location feature? how many guests can each room handle? how might the rooms be decorated?
17-What is the allotted time for a reception? (typically a hotel offers the room for 5 to 7 hours which includes 2 hour set-up).
18-What should happen if the wedding reception runs over the allotted time? is there overtime costs?
19-Is there an in-house caterer? are we allowed to bring our own caterer?
20-What is the chef's specialty? how much experience does the chef have? can we meet him/her?
21-Is there a menu of choices? can we see it? can we take a menu of choices home for review? can we meet with the caterer to get a recommendation of choices?
22-Is there a location to offer a cocktail hour before the reception? if yes, what types of drinks will be available? how many guests can the location accommodate? how far is the location from the reception area? is there a bar? can appetizers and hors d'oeuvres be offered? are bartenders and wait staff provided or would we need to find some? are there decorative restrictions? how long can the cocktail hour be?
23-Can we bring our own bartenders and wait staff to the wedding reception?
24-Is there a menu of choices for appetizers and hors d'oeuvres?
25-Does the caterer provide a wedding cake? can we provide our own wedding cake? is there pictures of wedding cakes from other weddings made by the hotel? where is the wedding cake stored? how many days before the wedding cake is baked?
26-Are there desserts offered? what choices are offered? is there a menu of choices?
27-Is a coffee bar available for the reception? are flavored coffees part of the coffee bar? what else is provided for the coffee bar? (cups, saucers, sugars, coffee straws, napkins, other hot drinks such as tea, other).
28-Is a candy buffet bar available? can a chocolate fountain be included? what are the possibilities? if you don't offer a candy bar, can we provide our own?
29-Does the hotel offer ice sculptures? can we provide our own?
30-Is there a taste test provided of the main entrees? for the hors d'ouevres and appetizers? for the wedding cake? for the desserts? can we come for a taste test before signing a contract?
31-Can you tell me about the bartenders? how many will be available for the amount of our wedding guests? how much experience do the bartenders have? can we bring our own bartenders? can we bring our own liquor? can we bring our own wine? are there corkage fees? (a fee for each alcohol bottle opened) how should tips be handled? (no tipping should be allowed for wedding guests, should be handled by the wedding couple). Can no tipping signs be used by the bartenders stations?
32-Does the hotel require a cash bar or an open bar as an arrangement? what times can the bar be opened? what time must the bar be closed?
33-How much wait staff doe the hotel employ? have available for our wedding? can be bring along our own wait staff? how aides in the kitchen? how many waiters/waitresses? how many busboy?
34-Does the facility have their own insurance? how much does it cost?
35-Does the reception have a tool for seat planning? is there one we can take to use? do we or does the wedding coordinator handle the seat planning? can adjustments to seating be made late in the process?
36-How many tables and chairs will be needed for our wedding reception? are more needed?
37-How will the head table be arranged and set up?
38-What other buffet tables will be available and be used?
39-What type of serving will be used? sit-down dinner? buffet style? other?
40-What type of tableware can be used? what dishes will be part of the place setting? what flatware can be used for the place setting? what glasses can be used for the place setting? does the hotel provide charger plates or can charger plates be used? what serving vessels and dishes be needed for the buffet tables? are there any supplies that will need to be rented from a rental services store?
41-Are there any additional supplies needed for the kitchen?
42-What type of linen options are available for the reception? can the hotel provide linens for the color scheme or wedding theme we have chosen? what type of linens are available to cover the tables? are there linens for chair covers? are there colored napkins? can we use a rental services company for linens to match up with our color scheme?
43-What type of bar needs doe the hotel offer? what type of drinks are offered? can we control the times bar service is offered? what garnishments are offered? can we restrict tipping of the bartenders? what mix of drinks does the bar include? is there a corkage fee? what happens to drinks that are opened?
44-Are there tables offered for the wedding cake and wedding gifts? is the wedding cake away from the wall for picture taking purposes?
45-How would the wedding reception be decorated? can we have control of decorating the wedding reception? can we do our own wedding reception decorating? are there any restrictions? how long before the reception can the area begin to be decorated?
46-Does the hotel provide table centerpieces for the wedding reception? can we decide on table centerpieces  for the reception to use? can we bring our own table centerpieces?
47-Does the hotel use a florist for decorations? do we have any say on floral design? does the florist handle floral needs for the wedding party? bouquet for the bride? bouquets, boutonnieres, and carnations for the bridal party? any other floral decorations? floral centerpieces? flower petals on tables
48-Who makes the decision on decorations, the wedding coordinator or someone other?
49-Can lights be color coordinated to our wedding scheme? what type of lighting is allowed?
50-Are hanging fabrics allowed to be used in our wedding reception? are we allowed to to bring our own decorator for hanging fabrics?
51-Can pyrotechnics be used in the wedding reception area?
52-Does the hotel employ their own wedding exclusive musicians? are the musicians on a preferred list? can we bring our own musicians? can there be a wedding band? is there another location for the wedding band or can they play in the reception location? where would the band be located? where would the dance floor be located? are there music restrictions? is there a music time ordinance? what time should the band be booked? can we hear the musicians before choosing them? do we have a choice in musicians?
53-Does the hotel employ their own disc jockeys? are the disc jockeys on a preferred list? what is a good location for the disc jockeys? (note disc jockeys and musicians should not be too close together or their equipment might get interference from each other such as screeching).
54-Are there electrical outlets set up for the musicians and disc jockeys or might extra wires be needed? can special lighting be used by our musicians?
55-Is there an electrical engineer available for our musicians and disc jockeys?
56-Who handles the time activities of when things begin? (seating, cocktail hour, toasting, dancing, music begins, disc jockey begins, cake cutting, etc.)
57-Are there any servants available to cut the wedding cake? is there a cake cutting fee? are there plates for the cake? are there cake knifes and cake servers available?
58-Are there any hotel restrictions? (smoking, lit candles. alcohol favors, other)
59-Is there anyone assigned to handle the wedding toast? are toasting glasses available? is champagne available? is wait staff available for the toast? can we bring our own champagne? what happens to the champagne not opened?
60-Does the hotel employ wedding photographers? are the wedding photographers part of a preferred list? can we bring our own wedding photographers? what packages are offered? how many shots will they take? when do they start and finish? do they create an album?
61-Does the hotel employ wedding videographers? are the wedding videographers part of a preferred list? can we bring our own wedding videographers? what packages do they offer? when do they start and finish? when would our video be ready?
62-Does the hotel employ wedding officiants? are the wedding officiants part of a preferred list? what happens if we need to bring our own officiant because of our religion? can we bring our own officiant(s)?
63-Are there other rental items that need to be addressed?
64-Are there other areas in the hotel we can use for our wedding such as a lobby or a hall? what furniture is allowed for areas we have control? does the hotel have furniture we can use or can we bring in additional furniture?
65-How do we arrange for someone to transfer wedding gifts to a home?
66-What condition are the bathrooms and how many bathrooms are near the reception area? can we decorate the bathrooms further?
67-Is there a room for the bride near the reception area in order to change? what does the room provide?
where could an emergency bridal kit be kept?
68-Is there a room available for bridal party members?
69-Does the ceremony site and wedding reception site have handicap access?
70-Is there a coat room available or a spot for a coat rack available? is there a coatroom attendant? (the tipping should be handled by the wedding couple) can a sign be placed for no tipping?
71-How is parking handled at the hotel? how many parking spaces are available? is there shuttle service? shuttle service to the airport? is there bus service? where is the bus stop? is taxi service available? where would limos drop off and pick wedding party guests up? is there an in-house limo?
72-Are there events in the area that might interfere with parking?
73-Is there valet service provided at the hotel? how can we set up valet service for our wedding guests? (the rules for weddings are, the wedding couple should cover valet charges, valets are not suppose to get tipped by wedding guests).
74-Is there a limousine service offered by your hotel?
75-What type of heat does the hotel use? does the facility have air-conditioning? do we have control of the thermostat control of the reception area?
76-Would a guest book table be allowed? where could it be situated?
77-Where would a bride and groom reception line be situated?
78-Can a photo booth be allowed? can we bring in props for guests to wear? where could a photo booth be situated?
79-Where could a slide show and table of pictures be situated?
80-Do you have an easel or a wall to show where wedding guests are seated?
81-What restrictions do the entrance area have? can we decorate the entrance area?
82-Is there a quiet area we can reserve in which guests can hold conversations, that's not too far away from the reception? can we or the hotel equip the area with furniture?
83-Is there an area we can have musicians to entertain our guests? can we have a string quartet? a harpist? a pianist? a violinist? a soloist? a mariachi band? a guitarist?
84-At what times can ceremonies and receptions begin? At what time must the reception have to close up?
85-Is there a wait staff that cleans up after the ceremony and reception?
86-Does the wedding coordinator help with guest lists, wedding invitations, and wedding favors?
87-When would final headcount and food orders need to be provided? can the hotel handle restrictive diets?
88-Are there special meals that can be provided for our own wedding vendors?
89-Are there special meals for children?
90-Are there nanny services provided by the hotel?
91-Can the hotel accommodate our overnight guests?
92-Can we protect a block of rooms for overnight guests? is there a discount offered if we reach a certain level of rooms booked?
93-At what date would the block of rooms become unprotected?
94-Is there any other way to get a discount?
95-Is there someone at the hotel that can handle gift baskets? can gift baskets be left in the room or must be left at the front desk?
96-Is there concierge service provided by the hotel? (concierge service is like a help and information desk)
97-Does your hotel provide honeymoon suites? what amenities do the honeymoon suites offer? do we get the honeymoon suites for free if we reach a threshold of visitors or from having our wedding and wedding reception at your hotel? are there amenities offered to our wedding guests?
98-Are there any special discounts offered? discounts to have our wedding for specific dates? discounts to have the wedding a specific date of the week?
99-What less expensive hotels or bed and breakfasts would you recommend that need cheaper arrangement?
100-Can we view the premises of wedding locations at the hotel including ceremony site, reception locations, the kitchen, rooms the bride can use, and rooms for guests and honeymoon suites?
101-Can we take pictures of the ceremony site and reception areas as well as other areas we are touring?
102-Are there pictures we can see from other weddings that have taken place at the hotel?
103-Can we stop by and see the hotel, how it is set for upcoming weddings?
104-Are there special wedding packages offered by the hotel?
105-How are cancellations and refunds handled?
106-What is the latest date needed to sign a contract to book our wedding?
107-How much is the final cost for our wedding?
108-Can we see all costs broken down?
109-Do the costs include everything? are there any hidden charges that we might encounter?
110-How are tips and taxes handled?
111-Can we review the contract before making a final decision?
112-At what date is the deposit due?
113-When is final payment due?
114-How can the payments be made? (credit card, debit card, certified check, personal check, cash, Paypal, other)
115-Are fireworks allowed at the hotel? are there outdoor restrictions?
116-Is there anything that needs to be discussed not covered?
117-Can we get 3 referrals from other couples that used the hotel for their wedding on the past year? (contact at least 2 couples, ask them to rank 1-10 about communication, service, food, wedding cake, promptness, and how well the hotel was decorated, about vendors and any restrictions they encountered)

As you can see there is a lot to cover when interviewing a wedding coordinator in a hotel, the great thing about it, the hotels tend to use high quality vendors and the coordinator cuts down on the wedding planning that needs to be done. You might want to check out a number of hotels in the area before deciding on one. Make sure you find a coordinator you are comfortable dealing with, ask. Visually inspect the premises, meet all your wedding vendors and check out the kitchen and honeymoon suite too. Bring along a family member or friend with you on your interview? Add, subtract, or adjust questions to your particular need?

Hotel weddings take a lot of headaches from wedding planning, they aren't as expensive as you might think because of all the bundling you get. Many hotels have many restrictions though, particularly in the decoration area and might insist you use their dishes, linen, liquor, and photographers. Some hotels are stricter and others are more lenient.

See you on the other side!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Interview Questions for your Bed and Breakfast

One of the secret weapons you have for your wedding are area bed and breakfasts. You can use them in a number of different ways. They can be used by the groom as a place to stay before the wedding, they can be used by the couple as a honeymoon suite for their wedding night, they can be used for out-of-town guests that enables them to make your wedding weekend as a romantic getaway for them, and in addition a number of bed and breakfasts in each city are set up to handle weddings and can provide most vendor services that a beautiful wedding needs.

Innkeepers, take pride in their bed and breakfasts. They take pride in creating a special experience for each of their guests. Many bed and breakfasts have rooms specially decorated often designed to a theme so it becomes a memory so that guests cherish the experience and will want to come whenever they are back in the area. Rooms generally range from sweet and cozy retreats to large spacious rooms with all the trimmings. Often rooms at a bed and breakfast will put emphasis on their bathrooms or have a hot tub on the premises so that a honeymoon couple can enjoy their privacy in a large whirlpool bath, hot tub, or an extra large shower.

Bed and breakfast come in many variations, some are created from historic homes, some are created from unique restored houses, and some are designed in a very contemporary style. Many innkeepers take pride in decorating their bed and breakfasts adding a personal touch adding expensive antiques, knickknacks, and personal hobby decor. Many inns are geared to romantic adventures and not so much to families with children.

A number of bed and breakfast in each city are set up for weddings. They will have a ceremony site area on their property, they may have an area to handle a wedding reception or they may have an area where you can pitch a large tent. They may have connections for all the services you need, they often have contacts for caterers, wedding cake bakers, florists, decorators, musicians, DJs, wedding photographers, and videographers.

Many bed and breakfasts are also called inns, these places offer a lot of amenities not found in a typical hotel. The bed and breakfasts usually provide a special breakfast for their guests. Some provide unique other services such as afternoon tea, offer a three course meal, a lavish buffet, offer wine, cheese, and hors d'oeuvres, offer a coffee bar, and provide luxurious bath products such as bath oils, body creams, shower gels, massage oils, and bubbles for bubble baths. They might offer fluffy pillows, down comforters, and provide his and her over-sized bathrobe along with fluffy towels.

Some bed and breakfast even have a library and offer a quiet area to read a book. Some even have DVDs to choose from that allow you to watch a movie either from your bedroom, a lobby, or entertainment room. You want to question local bed and breakfasts, find out what each provides and decide which one's for you or you may want to pass on what services they can provide to your out-of-town guests. You want to focus on finding bed and breakfasts that are convenient to your home or near your ceremony site and reception venue.

Interview Questions to Ask your Bed and Breakfast
1-Get a business card or brochure from the bed and breakfast, what is the name of the bed and breakfast, plus the address, and phone number and website of the bed and breakfast?
2-What is the name of the innkeeper or bed and breakfast manager along with their phone number and contact information such as their email?
3-Does the bed and breakfast have rooms available during the time of our wedding? (if not, do they know of other bed and breakfasts we might try, interview over)
4-How long has the bed and breakfast been in operation?
5-How long has the innkeeper or manager been working at the bed and breakfast?
6-How many rooms does the bed and breakfast have? how many rooms are available at the time of our wedding?
7-Can you tell us about each of the rooms? how many beds? what size beds? do the beds offer a hard, medium or soft mattress?
8-What are the bath arrangements? does each room have their own bathroom? is the bathroom our own bathroom but down the hall? is the bathroom down the hall but shared with other guests?
9-Does the bed and breakfast offer a jacuzzi, whirlpool, hot tub, steam room, or sauna? are they private or public?
10-Does the bed and breakfast provide bedroom televisions, lobby televisions, or offer a special television entertainment room?
11-Does the bed and breakfast offer internet connections from the bedroom or offer a special area for internet connections?
12-How is phone usage handled at the bed and breakfast? are land lines available? how well does cell phone usage work at the bed and breakfast?
13-Are there suites available at the bed and breakfast? Is it possible to get a suite instead of just a room?
14-Does the bed and breakfast have air conditioning and heat? what type of heat does the bed & breakfast use?
15-How is breakfast handled at the bed and breakfast? what time is breakfast offered? what type of breakfast is offered? can we see a menu? is it possible to have breakfast early if we must leave before breakfast is scheduled?
16-Can special dietary restrictions be handled at the bed and breakfast?
17-Are we expected to interact with other guests at breakfast?
18-Can breakfast be served to our room instead of having it in the dining area?
19-What are the parking arrangements for the bed and breakfast?
20-Is public transportation nearby? subway or train? bus stop nearby? is it easy to get picked up by a taxi or limo? is there a taxi or limo service you would recommend?
21-What happens if we need to arrive early or leave late?
22-Does the bed and breakfast accept children?
23-Does the bed and breakfast accept pets? do any pets live or stay at the bed and breakfast?
24-Are there laundry or kitchen facilities available at the bed and breakfast? is an iron and ironing board available?
25-Is smoking allowed at the bed and breakfast?
26-Is there an elevator available in the bed and breakfast?
27-Is there a place, closet or room to store any extra luggage?
28-How much privacy do we get in our bedroom? can we hear other guests through the walls? how is the street noise at the bed and breakfast? are there neighborhood areas we should avoid?
29-Can the innkeeper develop an itinerary for our visit? what are the best places to visit?
30-Does the innkeeper know and can he/she provide us or our guests with the history of the bed and breakfast?
31-Does the innkeeper know and can he/she provide us with the best and most affordable restaurants in the area?
32-Does the innkeeper know of any romantic spots to visit in the area?
33-Where does the innkeeper sleep? who would be contacted in the event of an emergency?
34-Are there any time restrictions? is there a minimum amount of nights we have to stay?
35-At what time is check in and check out?
36-Are there any special amenities offered by the bed and breakfast that might influence our decision? (might be bath products, bathrobes, tea time, evening meals, hors d'oeuvres, wine and cheese, other)
37-Does the bed and breakfast do weddings? (if the bed and breakfast does weddings, what vendor services can the bed and breakfast provide?)
38-Can we arrange for a tour of the bed and breakfast and see the rooms we are interested in when you are less busy? also a tour of the property for wedding possibilities?
39-What are the basic costs for each room we are possibly interested in?
40-Are there any additional costs we may get charged for? any hidden costs?
41-Are there discounted rates offered? if so can you explain how we might get them?
42-What type of payment arrangements does the bed and breakfast accept? (credit card, debit card, personal check, certified check, cash, Paypal, other)
43-How far in advance do we typically need to book to secure a room?
44-How are tips handled by the bed and breakfast?
45-Are there any other important matters worth mentioning?
46-Can we take an unsigned contract with us to review?
47-Can we get 3 referral from other guests that stayed at your bed and breakfast in the past year? (try to contact at least 2)

Often, innkeepers provide a lot of information about the bed and breakfast on their website. Experts say a little trick to evaluating bed and breakfasts is to look how they handle their bedding needs and if they provide unique bath creams and oils in their bath. Bed and breakfasts that provide more luxurious bedding and bath needs with nice bath products and with nice sheets and luxurious comforters, blankets, or covers tend to be a better choice. The better bed and breakfasts tend to have a very friendly innkeeper who likes to talk and puts the guests at ease.

A good bed and breakfast tends to be cheaper than luxurious four and five star hotels but a little more expensive than cheap motels, innkeepers take pride in making their guests comfortable and memorable, they want you to come back and visit again. Make sure the bed and breakfasts are convenient to your wedding venues. Most offer delicious homemade breakfasts hence the name bed and breakfasts.

Bed and breakfasts, a little secret to help you out for your wedding!

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview Questions for your Wedding Cake Baker

One of the most discussed topics at a wedding is the wedding cake. In fact, the only item that garners more attention is the bride and how she looks in her wedding dress. For many, for the wedding to be an outstanding success, the wedding cake must look beautiful and taste delicious too. In order to make a beautiful wedding cake happen, it's not as simple as baking a birthday cake, you need to find a good wedding cake baker and the only way to find one is by asking the right questions.

Most good wedding cake bakers will have a portfolio of wedding cake pictures of cakes they have baked in the past. When you meet with them, you want to bring photos along with you of wedding cake pictures that have captured your fancy. You should cut out pictures of wedding cakes from dessert magazines, internet pictures, wedding directories, or pictures from bakeries. Some brides even have their perfect wedding cake pictured in their mind and could hand draw a picture out what they want the cake to look like and just need to find a baker who can create a wedding cake by sketch. Many bakers have loads of pictures on file and let you browse their pictures or provide pictures to their website for ideas.

Most good wedding cake bakers have received lots of training on cake baking, cake filling, cake icing and cake decorating. They have learned skills from shaping the cake, on how to add filling, from the tricks to apply icing, and all sorts of decorating skills such as making special fondant icing, to learning the art of adding designs to cakes like adding pretty flowers to creating sugar paste, sugar beads, gum paste, and chocolate flowers.

Expert wedding cake bakers often have cake tastings to help you decide what flavor to go with. Generally at cake tastings they offer five or six flavors to test. If you have a special flavor that you think you might like, mention that flavor to the baker and see if they can include it at the tasting. Many wedding cake bakers work out of a commercial business or bakery, but many work out their home or rent a small kitchen somewhere. The unique creative cakes are more often generated by the baker that works out of their home. The home wedding cake bakers generally cost less because they have less overhead.

About 90% of professional wedding cake bakers (surprise) actually use boxed cake mixes, they each though have mastered well kept secrets on how to add lots of filling and have invested well in wedding decorated tools and the good ones have an artistic touch. Most wedding cake bakers charge by the slice but often the price varies depending on the flavor, fillings, layers, frosting type and decorative touches. Make sure in your questioning ask your wedding cake baker about their experience and special training.

The Amount of Slices a Wedding Cake Pan Yields

A 6 inch pan yields about 12 slices
A 8 inch pan yields about 20 slices
A 10 inch pan yields about 36 slices
A 12 inch pan yields about 46 slices
A 14 inch pan yields about 76 slices
A 16 inch pan yields about 92 slices
A 18 inch pan yields about 110 slices
A 20 inch pan yields about 120 slices

The baker will generally recommend starting with your guest count and suggest you add a few to 10% more in the amount of slices of cake to offer. If the cake is really good, a few wedding guests will sneak in seconds and then there is always a few stragglers or your new boss that you have to account for. A wedding cake generally takes the minimum of 3 days to make. You want a fresh wedding cake, the closer to the wedding date, the better, the cake should not be baked more than 10 days before the wedding, the icing should not be applied more than 2 days before the wedding. Icing will get stale or start to crack if left on too long.

At your appointment with the baker, it's a good idea to bring a friend along. At your appointment you should know your wedding theme and color scheme. You should know the reception location and have a ball park figure of the amount of wedding guests and date of the wedding. Bring pictures of cakes that have inspired you along with you in a baggie or a baggie along with a notebook or wedding planner organizer. Review the contract thoroughly before signing a contract, it's a good idea to meet with at least 3 bakers before deciding on one to bake your wedding cake.

Interview Questions for your Wedding Cake
1-Ask for a business card, what is the name, address, phone number, and website address of the bakery business?
2-What is the name, address, and phone number and email or contact information of the wedding cake baker?
3-Does the wedding cake baker prepare the entire wedding cake or does someone other handle the filling, the icing, and the wedding cake decorations? if so what are their first names?
4-Can the wedding cake be created for the amount of wedding guests and for our wedding date? (if no, do you have some other baker you recommend, then interview is over)
5-How many years has the bakery been in operation?
6-How many years of experience does the wedding cake baker have? how many years of experience does the other icers and decorators have they will work on our wedding cake?
7-How many weddings has the wedding cake baker made in their lifetime? in the past year? in the past month? in a typical weekend? on the weekend of our wedding?
8-How many wedding cake bakers work at the bakery business?
9-Is the bakery and baker licensed by the state?
10-How much training and what courses have been taken for those who would work on the wedding cake?
11-Have you prepared any wedding cakes at the reception location of our wedding before?
12-Can the bakery create conventional and custom designed wedding cakes?
13-Can the bakery create cakes according to our wedding theme or color scheme?
14-If we provide a picture or sketch of a wedding cake we want can you re-create it?
15-Does the wedding bakery have a porfolio of pictures of past wedding cakes they have made? can we see pictures?
16-Does the wedding bakery have pictures of cakes for ideas? on their website?
17-What are the bakery's specialties?
18-Do you offer other baked goods you have for weddings?
19-What flavors are available at your bakery?
20-Can we have different flavors at different tiers? is there a difference of price for multiple flavors?
21-What fillings are available at your bakery?
22-Can you make wedding cakes in specific shapes such as square, pyramid, or octangular?
23-How far in advance of the wedding would we need to order the wedding cake?
24-How long does it take to make the cake from start to finish?
25-How long does it take to fill, ice, and decorate the cake from start to finish?
26-Can the baker make dietary restrictive cakes? kosher? vegetarian? vegan? gluten?
27-What type of decorations are available for the baker's wedding cakes? are real flowers used or sugared or gum paste or chocolate flowers used or other?
28-Do you offer both fondant and buttercream icing?
29-Are there other icing options you offer? what icing options do you recommend?
30-Do you have a price list and can we get a copy of your wedding cakes?
31-Do you make wedding cakes at a business location or out of your home?
32-Can the baker speak to a florist, decorator, or wedding planner to coordinate a design?
33-Does the bakery also offer groomsmen cakes? what type of groomsmen cakes? can you review a design with us? (groomsmen cakes are either made for the rehearsal dinner or as a second cake at the wedding, usually the groomsmen cake is made different than the wedding cake and is usually made with the flavor that is a favorite of the groom, some brides or families will bake the groomsmen cake instead of opting to have it made at a bakery).
34-If the wedding is not local, can the bakery ship to a destination wedding location? how far away is the baker willing to deliver?
35-How does the bakery communicate with us?
36-Can we peek in while the cake is being baked? iced? decorated?
37-Does the bakery offer a taste testing? is there a charge for the wedding couple? how many people attend the cake tastings? how many of our friends are we allowed to bring along to the taste testing? is there a charge to the taste testing for our friends? if so, how much?
38-Can we request a specific flavor to be added to the taste testing?
39-What dates and times do you offer taste testings?
40-Do you provide taste testing on any desserts besides wedding cakes?
41-How much does our wedding cake and other goodies we ask for cost?
42-How much would the wedding cake cost per slice?
43-Does the baker supply a cake topper? have cake toppers to buy? know where a good place is to find a good cake topper?
44-Will the baker supply us with a cake stand? stacking column? cake knife? cake server?
45-How much is the initial deposit and when is final payment due?
46-Might there be hidden charges we need to know about?
47-What is the bakery's cancellation and refund policy?
48-Can you come up with cost cutting recommendations if the cake costs are higher than my budget? (some bakeries use dummy layers of styrofoam or plastic and in place have a sheet cake in the kitchen, some small wedding parties like to show a large wedding cake but only a portion is real, the baker can cut down on fillings, use less expensive icing or cut down on decorations)
49-What happens if the wedding cake gets damaged traveling to or at our wedding reception?
50-What happens if any of the bakers or decorators gets sick, has a personal emergency. or leaves the business the week before our wedding?
51-Who handles the delivery of the wedding cake? the baker? we? someone other?
52-Are there delivery charges? how does the cake get transported safely? who handles set-up? might touch-ups be needed at the wedding reception?
53-Can we take the contract home with us to review before signing?
54-Can you provide us with the names and phone numbers of brides that you have baked cakes for in the past year? (Get 3 referrals and make sure you have questioned 2 of their recommendations)

Another option if money is tight, is to have the wedding cake baked by a professional with no icing and no decorations. The icing and decorations applied by somebody in the family out of their home, resulting in significant cost savings. Only consider this if you are sure someone in the family is gifted at cake decorations.

If there is cake left over from your wedding and nobody volunteers to take it home. Don't throw it away in the garbage, it's too good to waste. Drop the cake off at a nursing home, senior citizen's complex, or a homeless shelter, give the less fortunate a special treat and make help your special day a good day for them also.

Make sure you get a wedding cake is one you have always dreamed of!

See you on the other side!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Interview Questions for your Wedding Decorator

Wedding decorations can take an ordinary space and transform it into an extraordinary one. A space that sets the mood of a very special occasion that will always be a special memory to the wedding couple and becomes a special memory to all the wedding guests as well.

Wedding decorators play an important role in the planning process for your special occasion, to create the overall aesthetic look that you are looking for it takes a gifted person whose skills are more like an artist. A person who can do many things and can do things with budget limitations.

Usually interview meetings starts out with sharing the bride's vision. A good decorator generally has numerous meetings with the bride and has many contacts with many different wedding vendors. A good decorator also has a lot of pictures to show for great ideas, has their own portfolio of decorations they have created in the past and has other pictures to show from their website and pictures from other wedding vendors they are in constant contact with. The good decorator will even meet the bride at the ceremony site and reception facility to get a first hand view of what the bride is looking for and to exchange ideas on what decorations can be done and what restrictions will be encountered.

A good decorator checks in with the bride regularly to go through things as they meet up with wedding vendors and to gain the bride's blessing. The decorator may send pictures regularly in an email attachment or meet often in person. The thing to note though, their are many wedding decorator types, each decorator operates their business differently and has their unique style of decorating, the key is for the bride to find a decorator that listens to what she wants and is good at creating her vision.

Many different wedding decorators have diverse backgrounds. Some may work as florists and are floral decorators, some are event planners, some are true wedding decorators, and even many decorators may work at a business such as a balloon company. Many decorators order all their decorations from other vendors whereas other wedding decorators have their own studios and store many things and have their own props to create special effects for your wedding. At their studio, they may make many things such as specialty design floral arrangements, reception table centerpieces, can elaborately design place settings, decorate outdoor spaces, create special effects lighting, provide beautiful hanging fabrics, and use an artistic touch of creating wedding favors and wedding invitations.

Many decorators start out working with a color scheme or wedding theme and often use a color wheel to show what colors go together.  Most decorators will work with your budget constraints, they review all the things they can do for your wedding and prioritize things with you that are most important for your wedding and create a plan according to what your budget can afford. The key is to find a wedding decorator you feel comfortable working with, one who is a good listener and captures your vision, one who is a good communicator and communicates and meets with you regularly, one who has experience and has a lot of training and is certified in wedding decoration and has their own portfolio to share with you.

Some decorators require a fee before getting started, others will require a fee by a specified date. everything should be laid out in a contract. Don't pay out any money until you are comfortable that the wedding decorator you are working with is the one for you. Don't feel too pressured, if it's in the budget go with a wedding decorator, if the budget is tight, teach yourself wedding decorations and get ideas from "Youtube", arts and crafts stores, dollar stores, florists, rental stores, and wedding decorative sites off the internet.

Before signing on the dotted line, review a contract thoroughly. As with most wedding vendors, it's a good idea to bring along a friend to serve as a witness on what is agreed to and an extra set of eyes on the contract. If there is no written contract, you should not agree to a deal, don't let a wedding decorator bully you into a deal, make sure you are working with a person you are comfortable with. Listed below are interview questions ideas you might ask your wedding decorator.

Interview Questions for your Wedding Decorator
1-Ask for a business card, what is the name of the business, address, phone number, and website address?
2-What is the name of the wedding decorator, phone number, and email address or other contact information?
3-How long has the business been in operation with wedding decorating?
4-How long has the wedding decorator been decorating weddings?
5-How many weddings have you done weddings in your lifetime? in the past year? in the past month? in the past week? on a typical wedding day? on our wedding day?
6-Are you available to do wedding decorations the date of our wedding? (if not - do you know a decorator that you would recommend for our wedding day? interview over)
7-Do you do wedding decorations full time or part time?
8-Are you and your business insured?
9-Can you tell me about your business, background, training, and certifications?
10-What happened that got you interested in this profession?
11-Do you have a portfolio of wedding decorations from past weddings?
12-Do you have pictures of wedding decorations to help give us wedding decoration ideas?
13-How do you operate and communicate with your clients?
14-Do you work at a show room, store front, or out of your home? if you have a show room, can we visit?
15-Do you interface with many wedding vendors or do you mostly do wedding decoration projects yourself?
16-Are most of the materials and supplies you order for your business come from local vendors, national vendors, or international vendors?
17-Do you prepare crafts at your business or is everything ordered from vendors? (some vendors prepare all sorts of things for weddings such as centerpieces, floral arrangements, have hanging fabrics, lighting design, place setting layout, prepare wedding invitations and favors, etc.)
18-Do you do all the wedding decorations yourself or do use assistants? how many assistants?
19-How many people work in your business? how many people in your business work on wedding decorations?
20-Are you familiar with our ceremony site and reception facility?
21-What fabrics does your business like to use? (gossamer, shimmera, tulle, other)
22-What decorating ideas do you have for our ceremony site? (entrance, aisle decorations, altar, altar railings, pew bows, unity candles, candelabra, etc.)
23-What decorating ideas do you have for outdoor venues? (arches, gazebos, sculptures, potted plants, seating arrangement, chair covers, lighting, etc.)
24-Can you design the wedding reception with our color schemes and wedding theme?
25-What decorating ideas do you have for our wedding reception entrance way?
26-What color and type of wedding linens should be used at our wedding? Do you provide table clothes? napkins? chair coverings?
27-What decorating ideas do you have for seating arrangements and floor design? where should music groups be located? where should the dance floor go?
28-What decorating ideas do you have for the bridal party head table?
29-How should the wedding reception tables be decorated with place settings? should we use charger plates? what fine china? flatware? glasses? place cards?
30-What decorating ideas do you have for table centerpieces?
31-What decorating ideas you have for buffet tables? serving tables?
32-What ideas do you have for a candy buffet? coffee bar? soda bar? dessert bar? chocolate fountain? ice sculptures?
33-What decorating ideas do you have for ceilings? walls? restrooms? coatrooms?
34-What decorating ideas do you have for lighting? (updraft lighting, color schemed lighting, paper lanterns, Christmas/fairy tale lights, floralytes, stage decoration lighting, other)
35-What decorating ideas do you have for the wedding cake table? wedding cake? wedding gift table?
36-Do you have connections with photo booths, 3-D equipment, or slide shows?
37-Do you have any ideas on how we can entertain kids at our wedding?
38-Do you have any ideas on setting up our guest book sign-in? table of wedding couple pictures? place setting board?
39-Do you recommend flower petals, pillar candles, votive candles, vases, bowls, mirrors, etc. to decorate tables at the wedding reception site?
40-If there is a space, do you have ideas on setting up furniture for a quiet area for our wedding guests to talk and reminisce?
41-Do you have ideas on how the wedding bar should be set-up? should we have signature drinks?
42-What ideas do you have for the grand exit of the wedding couple? fireworks? pyrotechnics? wedding sparklers? other?
43-What other wedding vendors can you cover? floral needs? wedding cake? wedding favors? accessories for bridal party? wedding invitations? photography? videography? other?
44-What is the final cost of items agreed to?
45-When and how much of a deposit is needed to get started?
46-When is final payment due?
47-Might there be hidden costs? travel costs? transportation of supplies? set-up fees? gratuities? taxes? rush fees? other?
48-What should happen should you become ill or have a personal emergency or you leave the business?
49-What is your cancellation policy?
50-Can we take a copy of the contract with us to review before signing?
51-Can we get 3 referrals of brides you have done wedding decorations for in the past year? (contact at least 2)

If a wedding decorator is out of your budget and you need to save money, you can get a lot of decorating ideas from "Youtube" off the internet, if you don't have internet yourself, find a friend to visit who has access to the internet themselves. My favorite wedding centerpiece idea, is first find and order a tower vase from the internet, fill it with water beads or flower arrangements, you could even put a floralyte shooting up from the bottom or use fairy tale lights inside the tube. On top you can put color schemed ostrich feathers to create a palm tree effect or put a bridal bouquet on top or plants or floral arrangement or a Chinese lantern. If you do the decorations yourself remember to color scheme the wedding reception yourself and use the color wheel to complement your colors.

Happy decorating and make it fun, see you on the other side!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Interview Questions for your Wedding Florist

Flowers are one of your most important aspects of your wedding day. They set the mood, tone, and atmosphere applying a special kind of beauty that creates an aura of romance and leaves a lasting impression on your wedding guests, an event they will always remember.

Wedding flowers show up in many spots during the ceremony and reception. Flowers are seen in bridal bouquets, on bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen tuxedos, on family member's clothing, on decorative tables, table reception centerpieces, and even on some wedding cakes.

In order to create an awe inspiring floral atmosphere for your wedding decorations, it all comes down to finding the right florist that is an expert artist in their profession and who knows how to create the floral look at your wedding that you want. You need to ask the right interview questions to find the florist that has the eye for beauty that has similar visions that you do. You need a florist that understands flowers and create the beauty that you want using colors, textures, and shapes to create a beautiful sight to behold.

Before setting up an interview with a florist, there are a number of things you should know. You should know your date of the wedding, your budget for your floral needs, about how many wedding guests you should expect, more so the amount of tables you will have at your reception. You should know your Ceremony Site and Reception Facility locations (is there decorations, color schemes, or restrictions that limit what you can do in the form of flowers), is the florist familiar with these places.

Many brides choose a color scheme and then find a floral arrangement that matches up to the color scheme and/or wedding theme. Other brides start with a floral design first and work backwards, find a bouquet they love and then match a color scheme with it. Ideas can be obtained through flower magazines, through the internet, and looking at bouquets at bride magazines or looking at decorative tables on the internet or reception and food magazines or from pictures of a flower garden. Cut out pictures to have ideas and keep in a baggie stapled inside a wedding planner or organizer to bring along with you at your interview with a florist. It's a good idea to meet with 3 or 4 florists before deciding on one to contract with.

It is a good idea to bring along a companion to your interview with your florist. Bring along your maid of honor, a bridesmaid, your best friend, your mother, your sister or brother. Often your meeting with a florist may wind up being a few different appointments. The first appointment is to see what the florist can offer, the second appointment is to formulate ideas from your first appointment with the focus on the bridal bouquet and follow-up appointments are geared to other flower needed such as the flowers for the boutonnieres for the groomsmen, bridesmaid's flowers or bouquets for the bridesmaids, carnations for other bridal party members, and decorations and table centerpieces to decorate the ceremony site and wedding reception facility. Make sure the flowers needs all flow well together, sticking to a color scheme.

What should you expect from your florist? A great florist know the wedding business well, has received a lot of training in floral decorating, has an eye to create lasting beauty, a person that educates brides in the world of flowers, knows the name of all the bridal bouquets (yes they all have names, you should hear names like cascading, crescent, hand tied, nosegay, etc.). They should teach you how wedding bouquets come together, what are boutonnieres, and have some type of binder to share with you all sorts of flower designs.

You should find a florist you are very comfortable working with, someone that can listen to what you want for your wedding and create it. A great florist takes your ideas and recreates the look on a small scale, gains your okay and creates the look on a massive scale. Some brides are particular with the floral look for their wedding. other brides don't really care, just come up with a beautiful floral atmosphere. The thing to note, some florists work well with brides, some florists hears what the bride wants and then creates a masterpiece, the masterpiece may end up being different. Often floral beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to flowers. Some florists create a floral design they thought the bride would like and then the bride finds the product different than they really wanted and becomes an upset bride.

The bottom line, if you have a particular vision for your floral needs, you need to search for a florist that will create the vision you want. If you aren't so particular, the focus is to find a florist that creates flowers in the style that you like and then let the florist use their artistic talents. One other note, flowers have seasons, and if you find local flowers in season there is a lot of less cost involved. Flowers can be ordered all over the world, some flowers only grow in certain climates and must be shipped to the florist. If costs are an issue, you might be best to stick with local flowers.

One last note, many people have the perception that creating flowers for their wedding is easy. Sometimes being a florist is a thankless job, flowers stay fresh only for a shining moment and then they start to wilt. Florists only have a small window to create the floral look for your wedding. Florists sometimes, in order to meet commitments, they sometimes end up working around the clock and weekends to meet a deadline, they can't create a floral arrangement too early or the floral arrangement will lose their luster. If a florist is under the gun creating flowers for multiple weddings, you may not get the time needed to create your floral look. Other matters might take over and many brides end up short-changed in floral arrangements, beware of the florist that takes on too much wedding flower projects.

In on your appointments with your florist you need to review a floral and arrangement checklist. You need to review with the florist the floral needs for your wedding.

Floral and Arrangement Checklist

Bride's Bouquet (    ), Throw-Away Bouquet (    ), Maid of Honor Bouquet (    ), Bridesmaid's Bouquets (    ), Flower Girl Flowers (    ), Groom's Boutonniere (    ),     Best Man Boutonniere (    ), Groomsmen Boutonnieres (    ), Usher's Boutonniere (    ), Ring Bearer's Boutonniere (    ), Bride's Mother/Step Mother Corsage (    ), Groom's Mother/Step Mother Corsage (    ), Bride's Grandmother(s) Corsage (    ), Grooms' Grandmother(s) Corsage (    ), Godmother(s) Corsage (    ), Personal Assistant(s) Corsage (    ), Guest Book Attendant's Corsage (if female) (    ), Candle Lighter's Corsage (if female) (    ), Reader's Corsage (if female) (    ), Soloist's Corsage (if female) (    ). Other Female(s) you wish to Honor Corsage (    ), Bride's Father/Step Father Boutonniere (    ), Groom's Father/Step Father Boutonniere (    ), Bride's Grandfather(s) Boutonniere (    ), Groom's Grandfather Boutonniere (    ), Godfather(s) Boutonniere (    ), Guest Book Attendant's Boutonniere (if male) (    ), Candle Lighter's Boutonniere (if male) (    ), Reader's Boutonniere (if male) (    ), Soloist's Boutonniere (if male) (    ), Other Male's you wish to Honor Boutonniere (if male) (    ), Altar Arrangements (    ), Chuppah (    ), Pew Bows (    ),Main Entrance Arrangements (    ), Other Decorative Arrangements (    ), Centerpiece's Head Table (    ), Centerpiece's Reception Tables (    ),Cake Table (    ),For the Cake Itself (    ),Guestbook Table(    ), Buffet Tables (    ), Gift Table (    ), Restrooms (    ), Place Card Tables (    ),         Other (    )___________________________________________________

Interview Questions for your Wedding Florist
1-Ask for a business card, what is the name, address, phone number, and website address of the florist business?
2-What is the name, phone number, and email address or other contact information of the florist you are interviewing with?
3-Is the florist available for the date of our wedding? (if not, can the florist recommend another florist to service our wedding?, interview over)
4-Can the florist meet our budget and wedding guest headcount?
5-Is the florist a family owned business?
6-What days of the week and hours is the florist business open? is there an emergency contact phone number should an emergency arise?
7-How many years has the florist business been in operation?
8-How many years has the florist been servicing flowers? servicing weddings?
9-How many weddings has the florist serviced in their lifetime? in the past year? in the past month? will service the week of our wedding?
10-How many weddings might you work in a typical week? the day of our wedding?
11-How many florists are employed at your florist business?
12-Can you tell us a little about your floral background? where and what training do you have in the flower business?
13-Who is exactly creating our flower arrangements, will it be you or someone other?
14-Have you worked our wedding ceremony location or wedding reception facility before?
15-What would you say is the style of your floral arrangements? modern? traditional? romantic? ikebana? trendy? European? Oriental?
16-Can you provide a portfolio/photographs of weddings you have worked on before? can we see photos for inspirational ideas?
17-Do you use some type of flower shop computer software?
18-What flower offerings do you provide and what is the typical cost of each one? bridal bouquet? bridesmaid's bouquet? bridesmaid's flowers? throw-away bouquet? wedding carnations? groom's boutonniere? groomsmen boutonniere? floral decorations for the ceremony site? centerpiece head table? centerpiece reception tables? decorative flowers for reception tables? decorative flowers for the wedding cake? flowers for the flower girl's basket? other decorative flowers?
19-What flowers are in season when our wedding takes place?
20-What is the difference in price of in season flowers versus flowers you must order elsewhere?
21-What local growers do you work with?
22-Can you create flower arrangements based on our color scheme?
23-What bridesmaid's bouquets, boutonnieres, carnations, flower petal decorations, reception centerpieces, will coordinate well with the bridal bouquet we have chosen?
24-What are the different kinds of wraps ("collars" in florist speak) are available for our bridal bouquets?
25-Is there a difference in price using one type of flowers versus mixed flowers?
26-Are the arrangement you create more creative or more by the book?
27-What are the chances a bridal floral arrangement will change in the event flowers ordered don't arrive in time?
28-How do you communicate with us when issues come up? how often should we expect to communicate?
29-Who has the final say on floral arrangements?
30-If we show you a picture of a bouquet or flower arrangement, can you recreate it?
31-Can you do sketches or provide pictures of arrangements before we sign a contract?
32-What are the chances bridal floral arrangements will come out differently than what was agreed to? (you should specify that you expect the flowers to come out as specified or are open to any arrangement's the florist comes up with as long as it's beautiful, remember when it comes to flowers, beauty is in the eye's of the beholder, what is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another person, most wedding florists create beautiful arrangements for their client but occasionally there are disappointments)
33-How far in advance do you start preparing our wedding flowers? when are the flowers ready for pickup or for shipment? how does the shipping process work?
34-How are wedding flowers stored in your place of business?
35-Do you shop around for the best price for a particular flower or do you work exclusively with specific growers?
36-In order for the flowers to be ready for our wedding date, at what date must we book your services?
37-When would we need to provide a final headcount for bridal party counts and a final count for wedding reception centerpieces?
38-Do you offer specific floral packages or is each order customized?
39-What is the final cost of our wedding day flowers? can we get an itemized list of costs in the contract?
40-Are there any hidden fees we need to be aware of? taxes? gratuities? special orders? count changes? etc.
41-When is a deposit due? how much? when is final payment due? how much?
42-What is your refund/cancellation policy?
43-Who should we contact if you should get sick? What would be a good backup plan if you suddenly left the business?
44-Can you tell us how to preserve the flowers, bouquet?
45-Do you offer any other items that might be of benefit to our wedding? aisle runners? candles?, candle holders? candelabras? pew bows? arches? decorative plants? special centerpieces? votives? vases? decorative bowls? candy buffets? tower vases? water beads? decorative rocks or marbles? floral lytes? mirrors? other?
46-How much are their costs?
47-Who delivers our flowers or must we pick them up ourselves? is the delivery person experienced at handling flowers? how many years of experience?
48-How much is the delivery? is setup included? what time would flowers be delivered? when would florists arrive for setup?
49-Are there any items that we missed that we must take into consideration?
50-Can we take a contract with us to review before signing?
51-Can you provide us with 3 recent brides that you serviced in the past year? (contact at least 2)

Make sure you review the contract thoroughly before signing, no written contract, no deal. It's a good idea to check in with the florist regularly, even stopping in the florist's business to check on things so you are comfortable with the florist's work. Florists often get very busy, work many hours, and get so busy at times some aren't on top of returning phone calls, brides get upset from lack of communication. Check in with them particularly the weeks before the wedding. Make sure you find a florist that you are comfortable with, is knowledgeable in wedding flowers, educates you, you come in agreement in how to communicate, shows you in pictures in what to expect. Interview with a few different florists.

Do yourself a favor, find yourself a great florist! See you on the other side!