Professional wedding planning tips + trends + what to do + especially what not to do

Professional wedding planning tips + trends + what to do + especially what not to do

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Custom wedding invitations

Putting together that perfect combination of details is what really makes your wedding special to you.  A large part of that customization comes from details like food & beverage, d├ęcor, and entertainment.  But there is a large element you shouldn’t overlook because it can have a big impact AND it doesn’t cost a lot.  And that’s customizing simple things like: save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, table numbers, escort cards, place cards, menus, thank you cards, and more!  

Autumn has created a branch of her business known as “Happy Huckleberry Studios” where she specializes in graphic design for customized wedding invites.  Combining her creative background with her artistic ability, she’s able to customize the design, and also add those special elements that make your designs one of a kind!  Not finding exactly what you want online?  We can make it for you!  From adding fabric, ribbons, custom die cuts, letterpress printing, metallic print. . . you name it, we can do it.

There’s two options for booking us to do your custom designs:
  • Fill out an inquiry form HERE, and email it to: to get a custom price quote for your invitation suite!
  • Or book Events by Autumn for a DESIGN or FULL SERVICE PLANNING package – where the labor to design and assemble invitations is FREE!  You’re only responsible for the cost of the paper products, materials, and printing.  It ends up saving you a bunch of money in the long run, AND gives you that customized feel you were going for!
Here are some images from this week’s designs (these are just designs, and aren't printed on the custom paper just yet!):
Customized invitation suite created by Happy Huckleberry Studios

Created by Happy Huckleberry Studios

Created and customized by Happy Huckleberry Studios

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why do I need a wedding day rain plan? And what should it consist of?

I can't help it.  I'm a little bit superstitious when it comes to weddings.  I love incorporating the something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new.  I also believe that getting married on the half hour is lucky.  But there is one thing I'm INCREDIBLY superstitious about when it comes to outdoor weddings.  And that is MAKING A RAIN PLAN.

Why would I need to make a rain plan, you might ask?  Well, here are two reasons:

1.  Avoid the rainy day meltdown.  Trust me!  I've seen hundreds of weddings, and all brides are a bag of emotions on their wedding day.  Set yourself up for success by planning in advance.  Just sit down a few months before the wedding and discuss your rain plan with your planner.  You want to check off the list that you know 100% what the plan is, and your planner does too.  The peace of mind from being prepared is a HUGE step in avoiding a wedding day meltdown.  

2.  Because I believe in Murphy's Law, if you don't make a contingency plan, the likelihood of rain will increase by 85% (Ok, so I made that percentage up, but I promise if you don't plan for it, it WILL rain).  Just plan ahead, and communicate your plan.

What should my rain plan consist of?
Think of it this way:  You're the bride.  You're off in your ready room, and it starts to pour rain on your guests waiting for you to walk down the aisle.  How you manage this situation if you're not the one giving direction?  Here's my rain plan list:
  • If you're planning an outdoor reception, RENT A TENT.  It is just as useful for shade from the heat as it is against foul weather.  Just do it.  I know it's a big expense, but it's critical.  At times, I even consider refusing to work weddings that don't have some shade for their guests.  It may look cool spread out on the open lawn, but in the middle of summer at 6pm, it's kinda miserable in the sun.  Think about your guests!!!
  • Where will the ceremony take place when it rains?  Often I make the contingency plan to just sit at the reception tables, and host the ceremony on the open dance floor, so all can see.  But this is completely up to you.
  • Who will direct the traffic?  Depending on what time you make the "rain call," either myself or my assistant will direct the guests to the proper location.  If you wait too long, and are about ready to walk down the aisle when you decide to move the ceremony, my assistant will guide the guests, and I will stay with you.  You need someone with authority and a loud voice to jump in and give guidance to people who are getting rained on.  Moving wedding guests in a rain storm is like herding cats.  I've done it before.  Too many times.
  • Therefore, my next tip is to set a deadline for making the weather call.  Look at the forecast.  Be smart about it.  I typically try to make a rain call for an evening ceremony by 2pm.  That gives time to move chairs and be prepared before the first guests arrive.  As I mentioned above, I've had weather calls made by the bride AS she's walking down the aisle, and it makes for a lot of confusion when guests scramble to get into the reception tent.  It's better to just make a call early and stick with it.
  • Protect rental items.  You will find that some rental companies have strict guidelines on not getting certain items wet.  Your planner will know about this, and you will too (you did read your contract, right?!)  But if you didn't hire a planner, you'll want ushers/friends/family to know what items need to be taken out of the rain immediately.
  • Bring a nice umbrella.  If you're going to have to get from point A to point B, and there's any chance of rain, buy a nice umbrella.  Chances are, you'll be photographed under it. . .You want something that goes with your theme/color scheme!
  • LOVE your contingency plan.  OWN it.  Don't be disappointed if the weather doesn't hold up for you.  It's traditionally lucky if it rains on your wedding day anyways!  Making the decision to get married out of the rain was a smart move for you and your guests.  Just enjoy the day.  In fact, rainy day weather makes for some of the most spectacular wedding photos I've ever seen. 
Of course, everyone wants perfect weather on their wedding day!  But we don't control the weather and neither do you.  So just be prepared.  All outdoor weddings should make a rain plan.  It relieves your stress and keeps everyone dry!  Happy planning!

Guests sitting in the rain, waiting on the bride to walk down the aisle
Rainy Day Wedding

Guests quickly springing into action and moving chairs under the cover of the reception tent.
Herding Cats.  There's me, on the right, pink blazer, carrying chairs!

The bride is still walking down the aisle, despite the "rain plan" in effect
This bride was so chill about the weather.  Loved working with her!

Photos Courtesy of Cake Knife Photography

Thursday, April 9, 2015

HOW TO: Make your buffet display awesome

I spent years as a Director of Catering, and I CRINGE when I see a buffet display that's boring.  It only takes a small effort to make a buffet amazing, and it DOES make a difference!  Think about your wedding.  It doesn't matter what your budget might be for the wedding - you always cares about what the food tastes like!  And what's your first impression of the food, besides smell?  How it looks!  There's a saying "you eat with your eyes."  I'm here to tell you that it's true!  So let me share a few trade secrets to building a killer buffet display.

Also, while collecting materials to make your buffet awesome, remember how many buffets you're going to have!  We recommend one double sided buffet per 100 guests.  So make sure to get enough decor to cover them all.  And as always, get 3x the amount of decor you THINK you need.  It's better to have too much than not enough (as usually "enough" for a first timer isn't enough!)

#1:  The Hidden Height method.
Bring sturdy cardboard boxes, empty milk crates or dish crates.  All of these things can be hidden underneath linens.   Consider cool display "trays" when using this method.  The first image below shows the basic setup, before linens are added, and the second shows the finished product, using granite display trays.
Using dish crates and racks to create height

Staggering boxes underneath a buffet and adding levels

#2:  The Visible Height Method.
Basically, height and staggering is the basis to building a stunning buffet.  But you don't have to hide the layers.  Consider using crates, or great looking boxes to add that height.  Plates and platters which provide dimension are also great!  Get creative, and use this to carry on your wedding theme!  Vintage?  Use old suitcases.  Rustic?  Use old milk crates, etc.

Using wooden boards to display food

Using butcher block displays to show food

Staggering heights on a buffet using fresh produce

Using drawers to create a staggered effect

#3:  Label Your Food!
But don't do boring labels.  Paper is CHEAP.  Use it to your advantage, and theme it to match your invitations.  Or use another creative method.  Chalkboards are really popular this year, or make a big sign at the beginning of the buffet!

Creating paper labels in the same fonts as your other wedding paper products

Chalkboards as food labels

Using cheese boards or bread cutting boards as food labels on tables

Using large wooden boards to create food labels at the end of the buffet

#4:  Do NOT Set Up a Large Table!
The biggest mistake people make is not maximizing the space you have!  That's what staggering does.  You want to make sure all your chaffing dishes fit on the table, but at the same time, you don't want extra space.  If you're going for a minimalistic design, use beautiful, clean chaffers, and make sure they're stacked closely (as in the first picture).  But that can also go terribly wrong if the tables are too long or wide.  The bottom two pictures are what NOT to do:  

Keeping chaffing dishes close to maximize the space on a table

Spreads out the display and does not look appealing

Again, the space is too stretched out and does not show the food well.

 #5:  Have an Accent Piece.
One stunning piece of decor makes decorating much simpler!  Consider using a bookshelf with nooks, or a dresser, or a funky display!  Get creative!

This custom made metal ring holds display shelves for food

This bookshelf is perfect for displaying desserts

The backdrop and the custom cake stand are great accent pieces on this buffet

#6:  No Gaps.
If you stagger your display well, and the food platters look stunning, you won't have gaps.  But if this is your first time designing your own buffet, BUY FILLER.  Flowers are not good for filler because of allergens, and most are not edible.  We suggest purchasing produce from a local farmers market to add as filler.  Find produce that will keep, and clean it before using (just in case guests eat it!).  If your wedding is local, you can take it home with you after the wedding and eat it!  Such a simple way to add a "farm fresh" touch to your buffet.  Otherwise, consider adding other decor pieces such as canning jars, baguettes of bread, etc.

Use produce as filler on your buffet

Again, use produce to fill any visual "holes" in your display

The Chef should be able to fill the space ON the displays themselves - you should only be responsible for filling the rest of the table.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

8 tips from one insane entreprenuer to another

Well, it's Events by Autumn's second year anniversary!  I didn't even realize time had passed that quickly. I'm going to take this week's blog post to reflect on things I learned in my first two years of business.  Hopefully, when I look back, I can see how much I've grown, and I also hope this helps other entrepreneuers out there take the leap of faith to living their dream.  Here it goes:

1.  Sometimes no "backup plan" is the best plan.

In my first year of business, I also had a hefty part time job at the same time as the business was running.  Meaning, I didn't try very hard to get clients because I had a pretty steady income to fall back on.  I had clients, but they reached out to me - I didn't work to find them.  I knew if I wanted my business to be successful, it had to be my ONLY job.  So I moved back to MT with one contract under my belt, and only my own business to fall back on.  I had no "backup plan."  I needed to succeed.  And funny enough, that one contract fell through, and I had NO INCOME.  That really forced me to focus my efforts and do things I would have HATED doing in the past.  That being said, you have to be smart about your savings and honest about the things you can live without when times are tough.

2.  Network, network, network.

I HATE networking.  I'm not good at meeting new people for the first time.  But once that initial dreaded contact is over, I'm fine.  It's just that first awkward "hello" that I really despise.  BUT, you have to do it.  I started this association ( in the valley to get wedding related businesses to work together.  I had to meet new people, talk to vendors about joining, and in turn, talk about my business.  When I was in Colorado, I didn't even receive phone calls from clients until May.  And here we are in April, and I've already achieved my goal number of bookings for my first year in business in this local market.  Nearly 100% of my bookings for this coming summer are referrals.  And those referrals sprung from meeting vendors from networking.  So just suck it up and do it.

3.  You'll find there's a whole lot more time, but you won't get more done.

Lately, I've been staying up until 2am to get custom graphic design projects done.  Or to do my website updates.  Or to file my taxes.  Or to do my billing paperwork.  Yeah, I wake up at 8:30am most days (which is FANTASTIC), but once I'm up, I'm focused.  Doing my social media posts, getting planning work done, designs completed, attending vendor meetings in town, etc.  It's a busy day!  Then next thing I know, it's 4pm, and I have to switch "hats" and become the accountant for my business.  (I'm not great at bookkeeping, so that takes a while.)  And then I look at the clock, and it's 10pm.  And I've hit a second wind and feel motivated to tackle another design project.  But all these projects are things I CHOOSE to do, and I LOVE to do, so it's easy to just keep working!  I'm realizing there will never be an end to the stuff you have to do for your business when you're the only one running the business.  So I constantly remind myself to take a break sometimes.  It's ok to take a day off, even if your brain is telling you to keep working.

4.  Make a freakin' marketing plan.

Without a plan, you're going to spend each day wasting time, just like you spent most days in corporate America on Facebook ;)  Just kidding.  We all know you worked hard at your last job.  But when you're on your own, there is so much more you're responsible for!  So make a marketing plan.  A GOOD ONE.  My marketing plan covers my daily social media posts (FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, blog posts, etc.), mission statement, financial goals and booking goals for the year, and more.  I made a marketing calendar that shows me what I should be doing every single day for the next year.  You may think that's overboard, but it helps me get into a rythym.  And when you have off days and you fall off the wagon, all you have to do it look at your awesome plan, and get your butt back on board.  Trust me.  Just make the plan.

5.  Find joy in small achievements

Set realistic goals for yourself.  When you achieve them, it will help you keep going when times are tough!   When my parents asked me "how much are you going to make this year?" and I explained that I've beat my booking goal for the year, they panicked when it wasn't nearly enough money to live off of.  But, my business plan was written based on my GOAL bookings and revenue, not on the number of weddings I needed to pay all my bills.  Yes, I still would need to pay bills, but that's what I've worked hard to save for!  You can't set unrealistic expectations year after year, and keep a positive attitude when you keep failing.  Sure, I'd love 20+ weddings in my first year of business, and to make enough money to eat out every day of the week, but that wasn't realistic.  I planned accordingly, so I could survive, and I'm making headway!  So that's something to be proud of.  Don't let others drag you down.  Focus on your small goals and keep moving forward.

6.  Make time for YOU.

I'll admit I'm not good at this.  I'm too focused on making this business a success that I don't get to the gym, or run, or ride horses.  I'm trying hard to set aside one or two days a week to take "off" so I can enjoy Montana!  Make sure through all this hard work, that you make time for YOU!  Typically, I'm putting in a 15 hour day, so taking one or two days off isn't a big deal.  It's NORMAL.  Keep reminding yourself of that.  You really are a lot more efficient when your brain can refresh itself anyways.

7.  Follow your gut instincts.

If you think you shouldn't take that client, and your gut is telling you so, DON'T TAKE THE CLIENT!  If you get a marketing offer and it just seems too good to be true, it might be.  Do your research!  Trust your gut in these first few years, and don't be sad to turn down business if it's not the right fit for you.  The more you make the "right" decisions, the longer you'll love what you're doing!

8.  Keep a diary.  Or a blog.

This year has NOT been easy.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  And my dad keeps saying "you'll look back on this and laugh!"  And I know I will.  But in the middle of starting your own business, you're stressed out, you're wondering if you'll ever "make" it, and you hope and pray that your clients will love you SO much that they NEVER stop talking about you.  This blog is my way of sharing these scary feelings with others, and hoping that other entrepreneuers out there can find hidden joy in this terrifying idea of running your own business!  Good luck to you all, and I can't wait to check in next year!

Founder of Events by Autumn, Autumn Kozimer