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] fiancé, 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.

party1.jpg

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. 

md1.png

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 :)

The Little Things

Please don't kill me, Bryce.

Please don't kill me, Bryce.

It's always the little things, isn't it? A sweet note in your lunchbox, no reason flowers, an unexpectedly clean car when your partner returns from borrowing it...

The little things at your wedding count too. It's easy to get swept up in the big details: the menu, the centerpieces, the exact right shade of ivory linens!

The little details of those bigger elements will come to you throughout the event planning process—possibly as a panic attack in the middle of the night. So many of those little things are unique to your wedding + guests, but some are universal tidbits that are often forgotten until the last moment.

So, we're going to help you out with a bit of free advice. When you're planning your wedding, here are a few things to remember:

1. Provide Seating at Cocktail Hour
It's unlikely that your list doesn't include at least one older or disabled guest. If your cocktail hour layout is just high boy tables and a bar, you may want to inquire with your venue or a rental company about adding a little bit of seating to the space.
Standing for an hour or longer can be incredibly trying for some guests. I'm not advocating for seating for the whole guest list, but make sure you have enough chairs for a few tired guests so they can reserve their energy for dancing the night away.

2. Feed Your Vendors
This may be an obvious one to some, but I've known many brides + grooms who have asked if feeding their vendors is required. The answer is a resounding YES. Your vendors are with you all day long and can't leave for a lunch break during your vows. Not only is it respectful to feed them, it's required. Make sure to ask their meal selections and include them in your final list for the caterer.

3. Communicate Meal Selections
If you're serving a plated dinner, you'll need to determine a way of indicating each guest's meal selection to the wait staff. You don't want a waiter interrupting the best man's speech to ask each guest if they ordered the chicken or the fish. The simplest way to do this is with a place card. Make the ink or paper a different color based on entree selection. You could even use a ribbon or other decor item at the place setting to indicate this. If you have a wedding monogram or logo, a great option is to have a stamp made and use this on the place card in different ink colors. Just make sure to communicate which color matches up with each meal to your venue or caterer.

4.  Welcome Your Guests
A welcome toast from the happy couple is not a requirement, but is a perfect opportunity to thank your closest friends and family for their help with your wedding and, most importantly, thank all of your guests for coming. You won't get to spend a ton of time talking with each guest so taking the time to give a heartfelt thanks is a very nice touch.

5. Create a Clean Up Plan
At the end of the night, you're probably going to end up with more stuff than you came with. Between decor, flowers, cards and gifts, you'll have a lot that needs to be cleaned up and taken care of. Assign someone you trust to be responsible for gathering these items and bringing them to an agreed upon location, particularly gifts and cards, as you do not want to leave them at the venue for pick up the next day. (*cough* a day-of coordinator is perfect for this responsibility *cough*)

6. Schedule a Sanity Check
Holy cow, you just got married! A private moment with your new spouse during the blur of your wedding day is so special and important. Try to schedule five minutes of private time (between your ceremony and cocktail hour) to take it all in.

 

I like to think of a wedding as an expression of you and your relationship with your partner. While the day is about you, it's also about the celebration and coming together of families and friends. How people feel on your wedding day is an extension of you and treating people well is all in the little details.

As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Xo,
Ashley

P.S. Excuse my sappiness in this post particularly while I say Happy 9 Years to my husband!

The Wedding Blogs You Aren't Reading, But Should Be

Would a blog about blogs be considered “blog inception”?

Even if you’re a Level 10 creative genius – I am not – every once in a while, you need a little dose of good old fashioned inspo. And times, they are a-changin’. Wedding and bridal magazines have long been the go-to source for newly engaged ladies. Fast-forward to 2016. These poor brides are drowning. Seriously, if you Google “wedding inspiration”, it spews “about 6,280,000 results” back at you. There’s a nauseating thought.

We’re all already suffering from information overload. Consider this me throwing out the ring buoy to you in the vast ocean of wedding inspo.


THE STAPLES
The gangs all here: Martha, Style Me Pretty, Ruffled. These blogs have stood the test of wedding industry time (the longevity of wedding trends/style is probably most akin to the length of celebrity marriages).  They’re solid, trustworthy, legit sources to get your gears turning.

100 Layer Cake
Martha Stewart Weddings
A Practical Wedding
Ruffled
Style Me Pretty


LET’S GET ACQUAINTED
Okay, now we have to talk about the blogs you aren’t already reading.

BHLDN

BHLDN is Anthropologie’s wedding line. Need I say more? Aside from the fact that I’m obsessed with their entire collection, the site also features a “Wedding Resources” page that is g-g-g-gorgeous and chalk full of handy tips and stunning photos. They’ve got blogs ranging from what to wear on your honeymoon to 5 ways to wear a halo. BHLDN, I see you.

Brooklyn Bride

A wedding blog written by a New York interior designer just can’t be anything but delicious eye candy. Vané Broussard delivers some heavy hitting modern wedding inspo with impressive features on photography, calligraphy, invitations, fashion, gifts, and way, way more. This blog is much cooler than I am, but if you’re a hip + stylish bosslady planning a modern affair; this one’s for you.

OMG I'm Getting Married

London based digital designer, Alexis Cuddyre, started OMG while planning her own wedding as an experiment to broaden her design horizons and pay homage to the wedding blogs she already loved. Lucky for us, it spiraled into something way bigger than she imagined. Her featured styled shoots are SICK. I’m not kidding. There’s an Alexander McQueen styled shoot by Hawke and Hughes. Also, her very own wedding is featured on Vera Wang’s website. This chick is downright cool.

Rock My Wedding

I don’t know what’s going on across the pond, but the Brits are doing something right. RMW is a UK based blog that packs a pretty little punch. Living in the Midwest sure doesn’t make me feel fancy, but I feel like reading this blog somehow ups my game (logical, no?). With featured blogs inspired by marble + copper decor and an unbelievable Italian destination wedding, it doesn’t take long before you’re sucked into RMW for hours. You’ve been warned.


AND NOW...MY ALL-TIME, PERSONAL FAVE
All my GWS ladies say “Yeeeahhh”.

Green Wedding Shoes

This blog…speaks to me. I’ve been an avid GWS follower for years now. Honestly, if we’re Facebook friends, you’re probably super sick of me liking all their posts (sorry, not sorry). The “About” section on their site literally is what Noir is all about, too. Fate? I think so.

“At Green Wedding Shoes, we are truly. madly. deeply. head over heels in love with love. We love sharing weddings with our readers and believe that there is no “right” way to throw a wedding.”

Also, fun fact! The couple that started GWS got married in Milwaukee. Could this be why I’m obsessed? Everything on this blog is amazing and beautiful and I can’t wait for you all to get lost in the wonderful world of GWS like I have.


Blog inception complete.

Xo,
Colette

Getting Real: Wedding Joys + Regrets

Long before Noir existed, I drafted a post for my personal blog, Affichomanie, about what I would do differently and what I'm happy I did for my own wedding. I'd like to think the advice could be valuable to a few brides + grooms out there. So, here are my thoughts speaking as a former bride instead of an event planner.

I Would Have...

1. Chosen different entrees for dinner. Food is very important to me and my husband. As vegetarians, we worked very hard to find food that was delicious, satisfying, and aligned with our beliefs as vegetarians. We chose an incredible gnocchi dish and an outrageously good ratatouille (which was also gluten free). Our tasting was incredible...lots of mind-blowing food. We couldn't wait to treat our friends and family. But when the entrees were served at our wedding, they were suspiciously small and, frankly, didn't taste at all like what we'd been served at the tasting. It was a huge disappointment and I still question whether or not choosing different entrees would have made a difference.

2. Embraced the full bridal gown shopping experience. I bought my wedding dress pre-big girl job so my funds were quite lacking. I also had a silly, but serious aversion to the idea of a dress attendant seeing me in my full glory and forcing me to try on dresses that wouldn't work for my particular set of body issues. I purchased my $1,300 Alvina Valenta gown online for a mere $700 and was thrilled with the purchase. Unfortunately, I wasn't as thrilled with the dress itself. It worked. It was the style I wanted. But not only did I not feel this was my dream dress, I deprived myself and my mom of getting that experience.

3. Saved that bottle Veuve Clicquot the hotel gave us instead of opening it for a couple of sips before falling asleep. What a waste. (The things I worry about years later are outrageous, I know.) 

4. Done my own makeup. I love the person that did my makeup and she did an amazing job with my eyes, but I'd like to think I'm pretty okay at doing my makeup. I didn't need to spend the money on it. And I feel I would have had the kind of foundation coverage that I prefer if I'd done it myself...I mean, my foundation looks better TODAY than it did for my wedding.

5. Made sure someone was designated to get me drinks and save some cake for later. Here's what I drank all night: a few sips of water at dinner, two sips of wine during cocktail hour, 3 sips of G&T during the reception. Here's how much cake I ate: 3 bites. You know how they say to make sure you eat at your wedding because you'll be so busy? It's not so much being busy as it is feeling too excited to eat. I still daydream about eating more of the cake three years later...

6. Waited to pick our bridal party until closer to the wedding. Don't get me wrong, I love my bridal party to death and have no regrets about who stood next to us on our big day. We had a 2 year long engagement and, in that amount of time, a lot can change in peoples' lives. Where we all lived, what we did, and even our relationships with each other changed. I think if we had waited a bit longer to make that decision, we may have avoided some uncomfortable situations with people who didn't end up next to us that day.

 

I'm So Glad I...

1. Skipped the garter toss. It's just not my style.

2. Had most of our photos done before the wedding. We were actually able to mingle with guests during cocktail hour!

3. Hired incredible vendors that I truly trusted. Colette, my homegirl, couldn't have done it without her. Daniel LaBelle was my incredible photographer, Andrew Quella rocked my wedding video, Sound by Design got my friends dancing, Wood Violet delivered gorgeous, locally grown flowers, and Karl's made rentals easy.

4. Didn't invite everybody and their brother. Our wedding was quite small--only about 70 guests--which meant I was actually able to say hello to everyone. It saved on cost and, for the most part, there wasn't anyone there that I didn't know. I loved every single person that was with us that night and, being the introverts we are, that was very important and special to us. 

5. Wore a veil. I was pretty dead set on not wearing a veil until my Maid of Honor and I wondered around the shop where my dress was being altered and found an incredible veil. It is definitely my favorite thing I wore that day and I still cherish it.

6. Didn't feel the need to offer several reception activities. Do you know how many guests leave right after dinner?! If I'd done what I had wanted (cigar + whiskey bar plus champagne + perfume bar plus photo booth plus...) I would have spent a ton and half of money on entertainment for very few people. Everyone was perfectly entertained by the open bar, amazing DJ, and DIY trail mix bar. That's enough, I tell you!

Xo,
Ashley