Moody + Magical Bachelorette Bash

No better day to share this magical evening full of fabulous friends, gorgeous henna art, a medium reading, and the most beautiful, moody decor. This one speaks for itself. 🖤🖤🖤

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Ashley once again opened up her beautiful home [wait til you see the backyard] to host my dream evening. I had a few, hopefully simple, requests — lots of comfy places to hang, plenty of yummy snacks, beer and wine flowing, and maybe a medium reading. My girls made all that happen and so much more.

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Tables were draped in black linen with white gauzy runners lining the center. Pillows and rugs were strewn about the yard, providing mixed seating that encouraged guests to get comfy and let their hair down [my favorite thing of all time]. White candlesticks in gold candelabras paired perfectly with the glass cloches full with sparkly geodes. Custom gift bags with our wedding logo made by the ever-talented June Carleton were stuffed by Ashley with magical surprises for all the lucky guests.

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Real-life mermaid, Amy Sichmeller, returned to blow everyone away with her food. I can’t even talk about it. It tasted even more beautiful than it looked, if that’s even possible.

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My new sissy, Andrea, made those incredible custom drink stirrers with a 3-D printer. Can you even?! #cheerstoalgiers

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Mind-blowing henna was provided by Hands of Henna by Anita. Later in the evening, Mike Pozorski joined us to host a medium reading which had us in all tears within minutes.

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It was a perfect evening. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to celebrate my upcoming nuptials.

Xo,
Colette

Summery Frida + Fruit Infused Wedding Shower

This one’s a doozy, y’all. Hosted at La Merenda, one our personal faves + a true Milwaukee gem, this wedding shower is a feast for the eyes.

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Right off the bat, Let me just get one thing straight — this is my favorite wedding shower, ever. Probably because it was thrown in my honor by Ashley Ulmer herself, plus a gaggle of my best gal pals + fam. Biased? You bet. Let’s dive in.

The Vision + Vibe
Ashley dreamt up this insanely lovely, Frida Kahlo-esque vision full of brilliantly placed pops of color, natural citrus elements, unexpected mixed textures, and a vibe that was sophisticated, yet casual. She sourced those gigantic balloons from the always amazing Paper Fox L.A., adding a playful touch to the decor. Single floral stems were placed at each guest’s seat with a citrus flavored lollipop. The tables were draped in vibrant, gauzy runners in a variety of summery hues. All around the space, Ashley placed these outrageously beautiful floral arrangements (she did them herself — WUT) in copper vessels.

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The Venue
La Merenda’s rear patio is more like a secret, vibrant, floral + fauna oasis in the heart of Milwaukee. Ashley worked with the incredibly professional + accommodating Amanda, planning the menu, layout, and overall aesthetic. The contact on the day-of, Jess, made it all happen! For guest seating, there were scattered tables under the pergola which was perfect for our group of 25. There was a private outdoor bar and restroom that were unbelievably convenient. The patio space was equipped with mixed outdoor couches, tables, benches, and a gorgeous stone fireplace. The extra outdoor space was the perfect spot to set up yard games like cornhole + dice.

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The Paper
Noir graphic designer, Bryce Ulmer, created an extension of the wedding paper suite that flowed seamlessly into the shower. The invites were dark + moody, but brought in a touch of citrus with the blood oranges. Bryce also created a sweet little card for each guest to fill out, which included sketching my wedding dress, guessing the wedding details to come, and jotting down any wedding day advice.

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The Food
Never in my life have I had so much food at a shower. Think tapas. Think brunch. Now combine those two things + you have magic. Typical for my huge Italian family, all the food was served family-style. We rounded out brunch with homemade churros from Gloria’s Cake Shop with the most mouth-watering sauce selections: Bavarian cream, milk chocolate, mango, and raspberry.

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The Drinks
La Merenda did not mess around when it came to cocktails. The signature drinks included “The Coco Made Me Do It” Classic Mojito + a Traditional Mimosa, all made to order for each guest. They were so fresh + flavorful — just what we all needed on a humid, July day.

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It was the most perfect afternoon I can remember. I am eternally grateful for all of the incredible women in my life who love me so well!

Xo,
Colette

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An Event Planner's Baby Shower

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I realize that our blog lately might make it seem as if we're super self-centered and just keep throwing parties for ourselves, but that's because we are.

No, no, I'm kidding. It's because both Colette and I are very lucky and excited to be celebrating big milestones in our lives right now and throwing parties is obviously how we mark these occasions.

Bryce and I are expecting our little girl (Arlo!) at the end of November. We're floating on cloud nine and can't wait to meet her. We were so excited to get to celebrate her impending arrival with 50 of our closest friends and family this past weekend at our new home.

THIS IS A LONG POST, PREPARE YOURSELVES. GRAB A SNACK OR SOMETHING.

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Colette and my mom, June, hosted the most wonderful baby shower for us. We are BEYOND spoiled. We had so many family members and friends pitch in to help us get our house ready and make this magical day celebrating our daughter possible. We have felt especially loved these past few weeks.

I'm not an easy person to throw a party for, as you might imagine, so our amazing hosts really had their hands full planning a party with me at my house. (I try to be chill, I really do, but I have a VISION, you know?! Uh, I'm the worst. Moving on.) My Mom and Colette are kindred spirits in many ways. They are both much more chill than I am about many things and both worry about and love me way too much. So, of course, when it came to planning this shower, they wanted me to ask for help and not do too much (impossible) and wanted me to relax and have fun. Have I mentioned I'm very lucky?

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Admittedly, I tried to cancel this thing three times and Colette had to talk me down. Because let's be honest, when you're an event planner, and the event is for you, and the event is at your house, you're going to have a lot to do no matter what. And I was just too pregnant and busy to feel like it was worth it half of the time. I was wrong as usual, it was worth it.

But more than that, I really hate being a burden and the idea of my mom and Colette spending money on me really, truly upset me. Thankfully, Colette and I are in the event industry (did you know?!) and we have great friends and a few tricks up our sleeves for throwing parties with a mostly reasonable amount of money. Also, I forced them to let me pay for some things. That made me feel a little bit better.

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So, on to the party itself because I assume that's why you're here! We wanted to throw a casual, co-ed, backyard baby shower with a german beer garden vibe. Sound weird for a baby shower theme? Yeah, it is, but here in Milwaukee we LOVE our beer gardens. We hang out on long group tables, drink beer, eat yummy snacks like soft pretzels, and spend hours relaxing and chatting in the sunshine. Now, minus the drinking beer part for me, this is exactly how I wanted to spend time with my favorite people to celebrate our growing family.

Bryce designed the invitations, advice/prediction cards, and beer labels for the home brew made by Colette's fiance, Mike. Everyone was obsessed with this beer and I saw multiple people searching around the other beer for more of it in all of the buckets and coolers we had. We also had many people take the labels with them as little souvenirs. Nice work, gents!

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 We announced Arlo's name with these beer bottles. Where you'd normally have ABV, Bryce snuck her name and due date in. The beer was most definitely not 11.25%, omg.

We announced Arlo's name with these beer bottles. Where you'd normally have ABV, Bryce snuck her name and due date in. The beer was most definitely not 11.25%, omg.

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My dad made and my mom designed the custom cornhole game. My mom also customized the "wein" and "bier" buckets, made the spicy pretzels and snickers rice krispies we had as favors, and a bunch of things I'm forgetting right now. And that's just party related. They also both helped us with the many, many house projects we wanted to accomplish before the day. Seeing my mom and dad have fun at the shower with some of their closest friends was the best. They both get so cute and giggly, I freaking love it.

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Colette arranged everything and worked her magic with all of the vendors. She took these amazing photos, hand-selected all of the wine and beer, and again, a million other things including keeping me fed and watered the whole day. She also made sure I didn't do too much so I wouldn't get tired and then "cranky". I was like UGH! at the time, but you know she was right, guys. No one has a greater best friend than I do, I can say that with absolute certainty.

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Wood Violet put together these floral arrangements straight out of a fairy beer garden. They were MAGIC and also smelled incredible. Trust me, my nose is all-powerful right now. We love Emily & her team at Wood Violet so very much. The talent is mind-blowing!

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Our friends Jimmy & Aimee started a catering business called Stove + Salt at the exact time we were looking for a caterer. It was destiny. Jimmy is a well-known professional chef aka god of food, wizard, magic man. Aimee is the sweetest person on the planet and somehow saves lives by day and beautifully plates food by night. Jimmy, Aimee, and their team produced gourmet beer garden food out of my tiny, weird kitchen and my garage. HOW, YOU GUYS?! I sent Jimmy a ridiculous menu I had perculating in my head and he took it and ran with it. They even packed up the food and cleaned which was AMAZING.

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The Menu (for weirdos like me who care):

Homemade Soft Pretzels, Beer Cheese Sauce + Italian Red Sauce
Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Rustic Malted Ketchup
Dutch Frites, Sriracha Mayo + Lemon Aioli
"Belgian Cheese Snack", Carr Valley Gouda, Ground Mustard, Celery Salt
Blueberry Goat Cheese, Fig Compote, Lavash Crackers
Apple, Pecan + Irish Cheddar Salad, Mix Leafy Greens, Radicchio + Dijon Dressing
Crisp Romaine Salad, French Bread Croutons, Shaved Parmesan, Vegan Caesar Dressing
Market Crudite, Garlic Hummus + Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Lentil + Pecan Sliders, Vegan Thousand Island Sauce
Fresh Fruit

We also had desserts from my favorite place, C. Adams Bakery. Cherry cheesecake, berry chiffon cake, and chocolate silk pie were all very rapidly demolished. The berry chiffon cake had a teensy bit leftover which I have been enjoying when the baby is hungry. (Yeah, the baabbbby is hungry, suuuuure.)

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In addition to the wine and beer, I made pineapple sage shrub and raspberry shrub for mocktails. If you don't know what shrub is, I highly recommend you do some googling and whip some up for yourself!

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For those of you who came here looking for legitimate party planning advice, here's some tips for designing a party. Pick an initial design aesthetic for your party and move forward from there. If you're a current or past Noir client, you know that we aren't fans of starting with picking arbitrary colors for your wedding and building off of that. We start with how you want to feel, how you want your guests to feel, and the overall vibe of the party. That's what we did here. I wanted the vibe of a beer garden where the typical awkwardness of a baby shower was (hopefully) avoided so that everyone would feel comfortable, including me, and get to enjoy some good food & drinks. From there, we wanted the design to fit with our backyard so we went with natural wood, neutral florals, and flowy white linens for guest tables. We needed a pop of pattern for accent tables so looked in that direction and landed on black & white stripe. And, since it was a baby shower after all, added in a little girly, child-like whimsy with balloons. The accents come together naturally after that.

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Once the guests arrived and the party was rocking, it was a really beautiful afternoon. We had loved ones travel from as far as Texas, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to celebrate with us. We were overwhelmed by a mountain of generous and thoughtful gifts for our little girl. We were mostly thankful to get that time with the people in our lives we love so very much. I may have cried for a quick sec when thanking everyone. 

 My first baby, Beatrix, was so well behaved we gave her excessive snuggles & treats over the rest of the weekend. Also, look at that BELLY, OMG!

My first baby, Beatrix, was so well behaved we gave her excessive snuggles & treats over the rest of the weekend. Also, look at that BELLY, OMG!

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 Lifelong friends (family, really) who came out from Ohio to be with us.

Lifelong friends (family, really) who came out from Ohio to be with us.

 These two guys, Mike (Colette's fiance) and Sean (my brother), helped us all day with set up and clean up.

These two guys, Mike (Colette's fiance) and Sean (my brother), helped us all day with set up and clean up.

It was a beautiful, happy day. We can't wait to welcome our little baby cake in ten weeks!

Xo,
Ashley

 

 

An Event Planner's Engagement Fiesta

Guys, I need a little reassurance here that you actually want to hear a little bit about my wedding and the events leading up to it. It is way more weird than I thought it would be to blog about my own event. Planning events for other people is much, much more enjoyable than planning one for myself. I promise I'll do my best not to sound like an ass. I swear. Luckily, I had A TON of help and can brag and boast about those people instead.

My [now] fiancĂ©, Mike, and I bought our first home together last October. A few months later, on a chilly night in December, he knelt down on one knee in our kitchen and asked me to marry him. Fast-forward seven months, many house projects later, and a bit of coaxing from my best friend/Matron of Honor/business partner, Ashley; we were finally ready to host our friends and family for a combo engagement + housewarming celebration. 

Since the party was going to be at home, we kept the guest list as small as we could. We ended up with fifty of our closest friends and family. I know that's not "small" in the literal sense of the word, but my family is huge, so it was actually probably one of the smallest gatherings I've ever been to. Ha. Our dear friend and Ashley's husband, Bryce, designed these badass little invites for us. Forewarning: this wedding is going to have a lot of black. 

We spent all of about five seconds trying to plan food before I texted my long-time friend, and probably secret mermaid, Amy. I'll say this right now: bringing in Amy was the absolute best decision we made for this party. I've been in awe of this woman for every single one of the ten years I've known her. She is endlessly talented and freakishly charming. I'm pretty sure I texted her something along the lines of, "Uhhhh...so, we really just want some fresh, bomb ass Mexican food." No joke, a day later, she shows up to our house with the most perfect menu crafted and ready for our review. We didn't have to make a single change. (Note to all: When Amy plans you a custom menu, you shut up and let Amy plan you a custom menu.) Want to see? Of freaking course you do.

 These mofos were HOT, but oh so good.

These mofos were HOT, but oh so good.

 So fresh + colorful!

So fresh + colorful!

Appetizers:
Chorizo Sliders with Guava Ketchup and White Cheddar Cheese
Chipotle Deviled Eggs with Jalapeño and Cilantro
Smoked Gouda and Cream Cheese Jalapeño Poppers
Watermelon, Feta and Mint Skewer
Trio of Salsas with Tortilla Chips

 We still don't know who's plate this was, but they definitely win Plate of the Year.

We still don't know who's plate this was, but they definitely win Plate of the Year.

Mains:
Build Your Own Tacos
· Al Pastor
· Roasted Veggies
· Corn Tortillas, Flour Tortillas
· Guacamole, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickled Red Onion, Jalapeños, Cilantro, Lime

Sides:
Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Honey Lime Sriracha Slaw

Crazy delicious, right? Right! She offers the coolest services through her business, Avenue Five. Hello personalized family meal service. Hello intimate in-home cooking classes. Hello small group catering.

Also, real quick, Amy could run a business solely offering to be a party host. She makes everyone feel welcome and I can guarantee you will walk away from any conversation with her feeling like you've been friends forever. I've never known anyone like her and I fully intend on keeping her close as long as she'll have me. If nothing else, I'll just force her to have parties with me. :) Also, also, isn't she the prettiest?

Once the food (AKA the most important part) was nailed down, it was time to talk drinks (AKA the only thing Mike and I actually had to do for this party). Like any good late twenty-something, Mike brews beer at home. He started brewing a really refreshing citrus IPA a few weeks ahead of time, we brought up the kegerator to the dining room, and BAM. Beer. I tackled the sangria (AKA the easiest drink ever) and made a "Tart + Fruity Summer Red Sangria" and a "Pineapple + Orange Jalapeño Sangria". I also cut up about 12 lemons and popped a beverage dispenser with ice water -- with basically all the lemons the store had -- on the deck. To bulk up the beverage scene, we filled up tubs and coolers outside with Coronas, PBRs, and Capri Suns. Yes, Capri Suns. 

 Kegerator close up.

Kegerator close up.

 Much to Mike's surprise, the pineapple + orange was finished first. So incredibly delicious and actually not as spicy as it sounds (leave the seeds out, friends).

Much to Mike's surprise, the pineapple + orange was finished first. So incredibly delicious and actually not as spicy as it sounds (leave the seeds out, friends).

I think we can all agree...a party isn't a party without dessert. And, guys, this was a PARTAY. Ashley eagerly and selflessly volunteered to check this off (and a bunch of other things I'll talk about in a sec) the list. I want to cry just thinking about those Apple Pie Bites...

Desserts:
Homemade Ice Pops: Mojito, Arnold Palmer, + Cherry Coke
Momofuku Milk Bar Confetti Cookies
Apple Pie Bites
Chocolate Friands

But, oh no, the amazing Mrs. Ulmer did not stop there. She also designed all the floral arrangements. We agreed upon two, and lo and behold, she ended up making twelve. I can't take her anywhere. Like the magical little fairy she is, Ashley showed up with a bucket of flowers an hour or so before the party and we ended up with this gorgeousness spread all around our home.

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We ended the night laughing uncontrollably with our favorite people around a fire. It was a perfect day. All of this was only made possible by our incredible, generous, and talented friends and family. June, thank you so much for your generosity, the life-saving outdoor seating, and the much appreciated tent. Annette, thank you so much for grabbing my camera all on your own and snapping every single one of these images so we could focus on our guests. 

Quick bride share...

My most favorite part of this entire day was having all of my freaking phenomenal, gorgeous, intelligent, hilarious bridesmaids in one place. I love you, ladies.

 COURT (AKA the OG Coco + my sarcastic soulmate) - ANDREA (AKA the sister I've always begged my parents for and general life inspo) - BRE (AKA my MOH and assurance this world will always be wonderful as long as she's in it) - AMY (AKA secret mermaid and overall rockstar) - ASHLEY (AKA my MOH and my absolutely everything, seriously) - ANNIE (AKA the most beautiful soul + my sanity, my sound-off, my lifeline) - RACHEL (AKA my most fateful, meant-to-be, stars aligned friend + most likely sister)

COURT (AKA the OG Coco + my sarcastic soulmate) - ANDREA (AKA the sister I've always begged my parents for and general life inspo) - BRE (AKA my MOH and assurance this world will always be wonderful as long as she's in it) - AMY (AKA secret mermaid and overall rockstar) - ASHLEY (AKA my MOH and my absolutely everything, seriously) - ANNIE (AKA the most beautiful soul + my sanity, my sound-off, my lifeline) - RACHEL (AKA my most fateful, meant-to-be, stars aligned friend + most likely sister)

 Really excited to marry this man. (All the heart eyes.)

Really excited to marry this man. (All the heart eyes.)

Xo,
Colette

 

 

12-Month Event Checklist

Here at Noir, we are loud and proud Type A's. We have checklists for our checklists and spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets. We've even had a fellow vendor or two comment about our overly organized tendencies. Because, yes, we will show up at your wedding rehearsal with a spreadsheet including names, photos, and relations of your entire bridal party + VIP list. We're pretty much the FBI.

It should also be noted that we really like PRETTY THINGS. Well, obviously, right? Maybe it's our graphic designer rubbing off on us, but when we put together a checklist we want it to look gooooood.

When you hire Noir, you get the motherload of spreadsheets. We're talking checklists, budget trackers, layout, menu plans, timeline, VIP list. You name it, it's on your spreadsheet, and it's completely customized.

But, even if you don't hire us, we want you to have your things organized...and pretty too! Which is why we're sharing our 12-Month Event Checklist with you. Use this pretty little paper as your jumping off point to keep your wedding plans on track.

Xo,
Ashley

Melissa + Dan

 Incredible photos courtesy of  JBe Photography . (And a couple of less incredible photos from us.)

Incredible photos courtesy of JBe Photography. (And a couple of less incredible photos from us.)

I can barely believe it, but here we are, with Melissa + Dan's wedding come and gone, to share all of the fun details from their beautiful day.

Wedding planning is an interesting business because after months and months of planning and communicating with a couple every week (if not every day) the wedding finally arrives and then, very suddenly, the whole thing is over. There are no more decisions to be made, emails to be sent, chalkboards to hand letter...

With Melissa and Dan's wedding this felt especially vivid because they gave us the opportunity to really be part of every detail of their wedding from vendor selections right down to paper design. And it was awesome! They truly put their faith in us and, for that, we are immensely grateful.

Dan and Melissa are a fun, adventurous couple and they wanted their wedding to reflect that. Luckily for us that meant they were open to some really amazing locations in Milwaukee, Merriment Social and Hot Water Wherehouse, and a non-traditional mix & mingle style reception with enough southern food and donuts to feed the entire state! Merriment Social knocked it out of the park with the spectacular menu they put together which we shared below because it's just that fabulous. The incredible couple also hired some of our favorite people in the biz: Jesse Lynn of Kidron Music, JBe Photography and Wood Violet. We love these vendors to the moon and back!

When it came to decor for the day, we really had to flex our creativity muscles to find ways to fit big decor dreams into a reasonable budget. Our two venues have their own style and drama without any effort so we decided to use that to our advantage. For the ceremony we went super romantic. Hot Water Wherehouse is all brick and glass with a bit of a dark & foggy feel thanks to its huge old windows. Candles upon candles upon candles played on that dark and romantic vibe. A couple of tall vases filled with sticks placed on stage acted as a frame for the couple up front. Tall stools on the ground continued the framing—one featured candles, the other held a wine box for a sweet part of the ceremony.

With a mix and mingle reception, we went for a low-key vibe for decor. We let the gorgeous wooden tables (mix of high and low) shine through and placed tin vases with succulents on each. Candles made their return on several tables, including the head table where we also re-used the bouquets to add a floral touch. 

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For some added drama, we built up the donut station with 2 glass window panes draped in marsala fabric. A gold mailbox to hold cards added some fun to the gift table and a little station on the bar let guests write date ideas for the new mr. and mrs.

Every station featured a sign designed by our very own Bryce Ulmer to match the invitation suite he created for the wedding. Throw in a few reserved signs and chalkboards drawn in the same design style (by yours truly) and we had a cohesive, modern look with a slight feminine flair.

It was a blast putting these plans together and we're so grateful for Dan and Melissa's faith in us. Cheers to the happy couple!

Xo,
Ashley

the vendor list
the photog: JBe Photography
the ceremony: Hot Water Wherehouse
the reception + food: Merriment Social
the flowers: Wood Violet Floral Design
the music: Kidron Music
the rentals + lettering: Noir Event Co.
the hair + makeup: Scottfree Salon
the dress: MoriLee | Eva's Bridal
the suits: Michael Kors | Mike Bjorns
the paper: Noir Event Co.

the menu (because are you kidding me with this)
cocktail hour: veggies + ranch dip, cheese + crackers, roasted garlic hummus + pitas
food stations: beef brisket, bbq pulled pork sliders, chopped salad, baked beans, mac 'n cheese, buttermilk biscuit bar, nashville style hot chicken, fried brussels sprouts, shrimp & grits, and blackened catfish sliders
donuts: maple bacon, old dirty bastard (aka chocolate w/ cookie crumbles), boston creme, sugar w/ blueberry compote, and apple pie cyclops
late night snack - dumplings!: brat & cheese curd w/ beer jam, breakfast sausage w/ maple tamari, cheeseburger w/ social sauce, and buffalo chicken w/ bleu cheese

A Tale of Two Wedding Planners: Why I Hired Noir

Our lovely bride, Tanya, took the time to write a blog post for us because she's just that great. We hope you enjoy Tanya's thoughts about her wedding planning experience and what it's like to work with yours truly.

For gorgeous details from Tanya + Max's wedding, check out our post here.


Congratulations! If you're reading this, you're probably newly engaged. You're also probably newly overwhelmed with all of the information that you now have to absorb—bridal magazines, websites, reviews of vendors, I could go on. I felt the same way when I started the wedding planning process. My first step was to consider hiring a wedding planner. In this guest column, I'll go through why I chose to hire wedding planners, why I chose Noir, and why I'm so fortunate to have worked with Colette and Ashley.

 

Why hire a wedding planner at all?

 

1. A planner will save you money.

Let's get the obvious question out of the way. If you're thinking about hiring a wedding planner, and you've done some preliminary research, you've realized by now that you will likely be spending several thousand dollars if you choose to hire one. That's a huge chunk of change. To be honest, I did not believe the many reviews that said hiring wedding planners would save me more than they cost. I was wrong. Here is a small but representative list of what Noir Event Co. saved me:

  • $13,000 on venue and catering.
    I thought I would save a lot of money and planning time by having a wedding in my sister's backyard. I nearly committed to this plan before Colette and Ashley did the research and told me that between renting tents, linens, and chairs, hiring security, and essentially building a venue from scratch, we'd spend thousands more than we'd save. Colette and Ashley also ran an analysis comparing how much a wedding would cost at four different venues we were considering. I never would have known what expenses to factor in and what questions to ask to get this analysis done alone.
  • $1,000 on flowers.
    Our amazing florist's original estimate gave me some serious sticker shock. Ashley and Colette came up with an idea I never would have thought possible—our florist sold us loose flowers for centerpieces and Ashley and Colette arranged them in vases themselves. This saved us about $1,000. And the centerpieces looked beautiful because Ashley is a creative genius.
  • $600 on paper.
    We were about to print escort cards, menu cards, and other paper products from weddingpaperdivas or a similar website, which would have cost around $650. Then, Ashley and Colette tipped us off about some gorgeous templates on Etsy. We downloaded the templates, which cost about $6 total, and then printed everything on shimmery ivory cardstock from Office Depot, which cost about $30. Even our graphic designer friend loved them!
  • Travel expenses like gas and plane tickets, which we'd have had to pay to see and screen each of our vendors. The best part of having Colette and Ashley recommend and screen vendors was the savings we got from not going to a million meetings with a million vendors.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Colette and Ashley's experience, their time, their energy, and their knowledge saved our budget. If you're still going on husband #1, and you've never planned a wedding before, it's unlikely you'll save as much alone as you will with experienced help.

2. a planner will save you time and stress.

Chiavari chairs. Don't know what they are yet? You don't want to know. There are items that Colette and Ashley had on their to-do list that hadn't crossed my mind—we needed to rent chairs for our ceremony (I know, duh, but in the midst of planning, I forgot about that whole guests-need-to-sit thing), we needed to measure the aisle for an aisle runner, we needed sand and buckets to make our sparkler farewell end safely, and so on.

Thankfully, I did not need to come up with everything that needed to get done and I did not need to solve problems alone. I knew I could trust Colette and Ashley to (1) remember everything that needed to get done; (2) tell me what to do at a good time (so I didn't have a hundred items to do all at once); (3) send me links for things I needed to buy, so I could just click and purchase rather than searching for hours; and (4) keep me calm along the way.

Apart from managing and organizing, Colette and Ashley took over the role of communicating with vendors. When Colette and Ashley solicited price estimates and detailed quotes from four different hair/makeup salons, two florists, two DJs, several shuttle bus companies, and other vendors, I did not have to sift through the enormous stream of emails alone. Instead, Colette and Ashley followed up with all of the vendors, made all of the information easy to digest, and reminded me of any important deadlines. Also, after a particularly nasty DJ scared me out of talking to him (my family's recommendation, Colette and Ashley would never have recommended him), Colette and Ashley did the dirty work of telling him we were going with another DJ.

Why hire Noir?

Hiring a wedding planner is something most people do only once, so I found reviews to be unhelpful when I first searched for planners (after all, how could the brides know if it could have gone better? Or worse?). What I did find helpful was looking at any work product that was available—the design and organization of a website, the writing on a blog, the photos of a completed wedding day, the communication (are they replying to my emails?). I was compelled to hire Colette and Ashley because their website was well-designed (none of that 90s-monotype-corsiva nonsense), their communication with me was near-instant, their preparation was evident from our first phone call, and photos from prior weddings made me confident they could pull it off expertly.

It turns out my gut was right—Colette and Ashley brought all of the enthusiasm and understanding from our first phone call to each interaction we had. Their website is a reflection of their business and of each of them—professional, cute well-organized, and well-designed. I truly cannot speak better of Colette and Ashley as they are hands-down the best professionals I've ever had the pleasure of working with. I had so many guests come up to me before and after the wedding to ask me "who were those wonderful women?" because Colette and Ashley handled the whole night so smoothly. Not a single thing went wrong. Not. One. Thing.

And finally, I'll end on this: my mother has higher standards for service than anyone I've ever met. We literally had to ask her to leave a hair and makeup trial because she made the poor hair stylist cry (!). She is not shy about voicing her opinion and she expects more of people than she pays them. The highest compliment I can give Colette and Ashley is my mother's unending, relentless, passionate praise for both of them. From her meeting them at our venue tasting, to planning meetings, and to the wedding day, my mother gushed over Colette and Ashley. She praised their organization, their attention to detail, their taste, their enthusiasm, and their sheer stamina. For anyone who has a doubt left in their mind about hiring Noir, I am available and always willing to talk more over the phone or email about Colette and Ashley. And for anyone that has doubts after that, call my mother.


Tanya, thank you for this incredible post and for your high praise. We think the world of you!

Tanya + Max

We are excited, thrilled, and, frankly, giddy to share Tanya + Max's wedding details with you. Before we dive in, can we all just take a minute to admire their beauty? I mean, are you kidding me? GORGEOUS PEOPLE.

Oh, Tanya and Max, where to begin with this amazing couple? We're going to get real with you, when they reached out to us all the way from NYC, we were nervous. We were intimidated by these incredibly intelligent, accomplished people and worried about delivering the wedding of their dreams while planning from a distance and accommodating many guests from different cultures who were traveling internationally.

 Yes, Max, your wife is THAT beautiful.

Yes, Max, your wife is THAT beautiful.

While that may sound complicated, the truth is, Tanya and Max will probably be the most easy to work with couple we'll ever have. What we love most about them is their caring and generosity toward others. (How many couples do you know that have THREE wedding cakes so their vegan and gluten free friends can enjoy a piece?!) 

Throughout the entire planning process it was clear that the priority was taking care of their friends and family. This guided us every step of the way and when it came to the aesthetic details, decisions were easily made because energy was focused on taking care of their guests—plenty of food, a nice place to stay, and a fun, love-filled evening together.

If you've been following along on the Noir blog for a while, you'll know that we are huge fans of couples who add personal touches to their wedding. For Tanya and Max, these thoughtful details were woven into every aspect of the day.

Personal details included plenty of Russian + Chinese music, an incredible photo slideshow, and a couple of good friends serving as their officiants. Traditional table numbers were replaced with animal cards featuring a family pet photo and sweet story. Max's lovely sister, Annie, sang "A Thousand Years" for their first dance. For the ceremony, Max and the bridal party walked in to "Kakariko Village" from Legend of Zelda atop a moss aisle runner.

Gorgeous, locally grown flowers from Wood Violet added a brightness to the space and a pop of color to compliment Tanya's INCREDIBLE dress. 

Fun chalkboard signs directed guests outside to River Club's beautiful deck for the ceremony. Colette and I really battled the elements (lots of towels, mops, and brooms were needed) and had, not one, but two back-up plans depending on the severity of the weather. While the sky was quite finnicky all day, thankfully, the rain held off during the ceremony and it was able to take place on the covered area of the deck.

And listen, we're biased, we are SO biased, but this wedding had the best dancing we've ever seen. Max's moves blew our minds as Kidron Music played everything from "Buttons" by the Pussycat Dolls (Max's Song...and mine! I get you, Max.) to "Mundian to Bach Ke" (a punjabi song). Tanya looked like a glowy dream as she spun around the dance floor and appeased her sweet family from a chair in the air during Hava Nagila. 

I'm not ashamed to admit, I teared up during their ceremony and beamed as they headed back down the aisle surrounded by bubbles and loved ones. Their day was sweet, personal, and uniquely them. Colette and I are still non-stop shocked that these two extraordinarily wonderful people allowed us to be part of their special day and that Tanya continues to grace us with her friendship. Speaking of, look out later this week for a blog post she wrote for us. It's truly awesome.

Congratulations Tanya and Max! We know you'll have a beautiful life together.

Xo,
Ashley

the vendor list
the photog: Front Room Photography
the place + the food: River Club of Mequon
the flowers: Wood Violet Floral Design
the aisle runner + flower basket: GreenMossProducts on Etsy
the videography: Aerodef Productions
the music: Kidron Music
the rentals: Arena Americas
the hair + the makeup: Scottfree Salon
the dress: Miss Ruby
the hair comb: EllaWinston on Etsy
the paper: CharmingEndeavours on Etsy (printed at Office Depot) 
the cake: Whole Foods

Vendors Who Are Killin' It | JY Films

I can't tell you how many times friends, family, and acquaintances have messaged me on Facebook, texted, called, or emailed asking for wedding vendor recommendations. Well guys, you're in luck. Because Ashley and I know and have worked with some AMAZING wedding professionals. So much so that we decided we have to feature some of the knockouts we love. Thus begins -- the Vendors Who Are Killin' It series.

I'm so excited to kick off the series with one of my most favorite people to work with! I met Justin of JY Films years back when I was working as an Event Manager for a venue. He's probably the most easy going, laid back, sweetest guy in the industry. I've never once seen anything ruffle his feathers. So, if you're in need of a calm, cool, and collected gentleman to shoot your wedding video -- look no further. Justin always delivers so much more than anyone could ever expect. Oh, and his work is gorgeous.

Justin was kind enough to chat with us and give us a closer look into the history of his business and why he loves videography. And I must say -- we love how much he truly understands the importance of the service he provides. If you take anything from this, please take away how muay, muay importante it is to have video of your wedding day!

Xo,
Colette

Noir: Tell us the story behind why you started JY Films! Did you always have a passion for videography?

Justin: I can't say videography was always my passion, but editing has been. It's a unique story. A couple friends of mine were getting married and asked me to film their wedding, only because they knew I owned a video camera from doing music videos. Also because the first person they asked said no. So I filmed their wedding for $80, which I thought was amazing at the time. Wedding went great, and while they were on their honeymoon in Punta Cana, I decided to edit the footage I had just like a music video. I posted it on YouTube a couple days later and I get a call saying they could not stop watching it and asked me to film a few weddings that were coming up in their family. So even though it wasn't something I thought I would be doing, it's now something I have a passion for.

N: How would you describe your style of videography?

J: My style of videography is a reflection of myself. Being there for them, never missing a moment and making people smile as often as possible. Being an editor who shoots weddings is a benefit because I know what shots I need and can easily piece it all together in my head as I go.

N: Why do you think it's so important to hire a videographer for your wedding?

J: What people don't realize is that videographers usually get hired last, after photographers, DJ's, venue, catering, flowers. We never get to plead our case. It's usually a last minute thing that they forget about. And it's true what they say, your wedding goes by so fast and you WILL NOT remember a lot of it. That's why having a videographer is so important. You may look at a picture and wonder why you were laughing so hard when the video will show you everything that lead up to that moment and more. Not only can you watch it over and over again for yourself, but your family, kids and grandkids will be able to see those moments as well.

N: Can you tell us a little bit about your process working with wedding clients?

J: I like to meet every couple before they book. I want to get to know them as much as they want to get to know me. It helps to be on the same page when you're asked to be a part of someone's most important day. I'm there to assure them that not only will everything be ok, but that I'm there to help in any way I possibly can. The ultimate goal is for them to not have to worry about anything.

N: What sets JY Films apart from other videography companies?

J: Honestly, I just treat every wedding like it's my own. I try to put myself in the couple's shoes and ask myself 'What more can I do?". I am a very personable guy so it comes easy to be fun and make the day be a little bit less worrisome. For my 9-5 job I'm actually a photographer so during the wedding day I snap a few pics every now and then so they have more. They aren't paying extra for that but I just try to go above and beyond for everyone, not just clients of mine.

N: What type of clientele are you interested in working with the most?

J: Everyone. Doesn't matter if it is a small wedding or a large wedding, big budget or little budget, I try to give them exactly what they're looking for. I've done destination weddings in Hawaii and even a courthouse wedding in Kenosha. Not everyone can afford those 'million dollar' weddings.

N: Do you have a favorite moment from a wedding you shot?

J: There are so many that I've done, but the one that sticks out the most to me is from Monica and Jake's wedding. Three months before their wedding in Milwaukee, their venue messed up and it had to be changed to somewhere else. And because of that they lost their deposit for the venue, the photographer, the DJ, the caterer, and even three bridesmaids in the process because they now had to move their wedding from Milwaukee, where her family is, all the way to Detroit, where his family lives. Instead of doing the same as the other vendors, I told her that I would be more than happy to help out no matter where or when the wedding was. I even drove out with her brother and stayed with him to save on expenses. It turned out to be one of the best weddings of the year.

N: Now, the most important question of all -- and because we're children of the 90's. Who was your favorite Power Ranger?

J: The Green one was cool, but I had a crush on the Pink Ranger :)