“To The Happy Couple! Cheers!”

Federico x. Photography

Many couples wonder when to do toasts and speeches, who should speak, and sometimes ask how they can tell somebody they really don’t want them speaking – without offending them. There’s a right way and a wrong way to be nice. Here are some general concepts of how to do all of the above, and some basic gentle advice I can give on this subject.

To start, when should speeches and toasts happen at a wedding?

There are many answers to this question. The perfect time to do a toast and speech varies, but here are some options. A good time to hear from the hosts (usually the bride’s parents) is immediately after the bridal party entrance, as the couple is seated. The Father Of The Bride traditionally welcomes everyone, thanks them for coming, toasts the couple and then may introduce the groom’s parents before dinner begins.

The second toasting opportunity is as dinner is coming to an end, as soon as the couple finishes eating. In Oregon most couples do not do served or family style service. If you are doing a buffet, food trucks or a taco bar, for example, you may still do a welcoming toast just be certain it is simple, sweet and then let the people eat. Other key honored guests should be invited to toast after the couple finishes eating and just before The First Dances happens. This is the perfect time to have the groom’s parents, your Maid Of Honor, and Best Man speeches. If you don’t do a welcoming speech, do that here allowing parents from both families to speak here, and bump the Best Man/Maid Of Honor speeches to later.

The third toasting opportunity is right before you cut the cake. You might choose couples toasts only right here, or all toasts here. A nice order is toasts followed by cake cutting. If you are doing a bouquet toss it’s a good time to do that right after the cake cutting. Planning tip – put your toss bouquet at the dessert table in a vase. It’s a pretty decoration and then your bouquet is right where you need it to go from cake to toss. This timing gives your catering staff time to serve or plate the cake and set it out on the dessert table.

Who Should Give A Toast?

There is no right answer to this question! Typically it’s nice to break up the speeches if you have a lot of people you want to speak. A lot = more than 4.

Traditional speakers:

  • Father of The Bride
  • Best Man
  • Maid Of Honor
  • Groom

Who might you want to have speak?

  • Parents of The Bride (both or any you like)
  • Parents Of The Groom (both or any you like)
  • Best People (whomever you choose) best friends, siblings
  • Bride
  • Groom

Don’t up the list or open the mic. Try hard to limit your total speakers to 6-8 absolute max. Beyond 4, break it up.

I love my brother, but he’s kind of an ass when he drinks – and he’s going to drink!

I’ve heard it all over the years, from super awkward to truly brilliant speeches. Some people speak too long, some say too much, many do their best and therefore get it just right. You know your friends and family. If you are worried, in my experience, you should be! It is ok to give people direction. Let them know a time limit, tell them examples of things you really don’t want to see or hear on your wedding day.

Have very direct conversations with your friends and family. Let them help decide who should speak and when. Some people hate public speaking, don’t make them speak. You can share a sweet private moment earlier in the day. Schedule it, and enjoy that private time.

If you have ten people who want to speak, ask one or two to have a special spot during the ceremony instead. Have them do a reading or write you a poem. If you know somebody is likely to get wild after they’ve had a few drinks ask them to do the ceremony parts, and let others speak later in the reception.

Seriously, give direction. It’s not pushy to say, “We would love to have you give us a toast during the reception. We just want something very you – sweet, funny, real and not too long. Maybe 2-5 minutes.”

If you tell somebody what you want but leave the details to them, you’ve empowered them to honor your request. It’s not bossy, it’s direct and gives them an expectation.

It’s also fine to have a special time with your whole bridal party during the cocktail hour right before you join the main party where you do mini private toasts. You can do this before the ceremony if you’ve done a first look and are all together.

I hope this helps. As always, contact me if you have questions! Or comment below.

Wedding Floral Design

Deyla Huss Photography

So many couples ask for a floral quote and design 9 months plus before their wedding. They tend to fall in to one of two categories:

1) They have a big budget and they want a quality expert, so they know booking a floral designer last minute will leave them with very few options.

2) They have no clue what wedding flowers cost and they just need a ballpark.

I’m always happy to help either type of customer. As a planner and designer, I know the importance with setting a firm budget early and sticking to it. I’m happy to help either type of client become informed or book me well in advance. That said we have our full service customers meet for a walk through a couple months out to update and confirm their final design because what you wanted early in the planning process may not be the same a few months out.

If you are just getting started, what should your floral budget be? On average expect 10% of your overall budget to go towards flowers/decor. A full service design and set up on site, for 100-150 guests will typically cost a minimum of $2500 and depending on your design it can easily cost $3500+.

Common myths to cut a floral budget:

1) DIY is less expensive – it can be. It depends on the projects, materials and your level of craftiness. It’s often quite expensive when you add up all of the items purchased.

Kaylee Rad Photography

2) I can just pick up flowers from the grocery store, or the farmer’s market.

You can absolutely do that sometimes. It depends on your style, how set you are on specific types of flowers, the week you are marrying and what is in stock that week. Also, consider the amount of time you have on your wedding week to run errands and put these things together. It will absolutely not look the same as a professional design.

Ali Mae Photography

3) I can use an online service or Costco, it will be simple! It’s not simple! When we do a large wedding we spend days processing, opening up the flowers and getting them to their perfect state of beauty just in time for your wedding date, and putting everything together. Just know bulk orders arrive unprocessed and are often not the same level of quality as what your local wedding floral artist uses. We live in Oregon and are surrounded by amazing local flowers that always look more amazing than flowwers shipped in from elsewhere. It’s also better for the environment and the local economy if you support local small businesses first. If you go with bulk flowers online note that they require a lot of hydration, processing and a lot of work to make them look like wedding flowers.

If you are looking early for a professional wedding decor and floral designer, you do need to book at least 6-9 months + out to get a designer who specializes in continued design training and experience in weddings. A neighborhood florist can handle your wedding, but if they spend their year designing sympathy flowers, birthday bouquets from online national orders that must meet a set recipe, their designers may not be up to date on all of the current wedding designing techniques and trends. They may be very technically capable of copying a design you want but less able to creatively custom design your personalized wedding.

Who should consider a florist vs. a wedding specialist? Some may think it’s if you are eloping or on a small budget – not necessarily! We and most wedding specialists absolutely design a la carte items for elopement or intimate affairs. You will typically have to pick up your order. Pick up may be required on Friday for a busy wedding week Saturday, but it is rare we and others will not easily accommodate your minimum order. That said, we have a minimum of $300, typically. I’ll always refer people who just need a few boutonnières to go to one of several florists we adore. They can make one or two small order pieces with zero minimums.

Elisa Ivers Photography

If you are using a florist who will not be installing or delivering, think about what you are ordering and how to set it up. Some designers will let you pick up arch decor, we will not. Our a la carte pieces are limited to bouquets, to go capable centerpieces, boutonnières and corsages. Why? Wedding arches are designed on site. Every arch is different and our designs are 100% created at your venue, and if we had you take it, we’d be sad if you weren’t able to attach it, your measurements were off, something broke off while you transported it. We see our designs as art, and therefore we just don’t do that.

Hailey Joy Photography

You do not want your arch to be a mess my heart felt advice if you are a DIY couple, invest in quality draping and silk permanent designs that are designed as a garland. They will look better in photos than a potential disaster with novice installs. Resources – we can design you a custom garland and sell you garland and drapery to install yourself when you pick up your bouquets. You can find non-custom items on Etsy. Order very early to make sure you like it and to practice setting it up. For draping, buy by the bolt on Amazon.com. Either tulle or chiffon or organza will look best. Tulle is the easiest for a novice to use. It doesn’t run or thread and is super sturdy and easy to cut.

If you’d like a ballpark quote for budgeting, contact us and tell us what you are looking for.

If you’d like a complete floral design quote, set up a free consultation or fill out our online detailed quote form and we’ll give you a full mood board and quote.

4 Tips to Reduce Your Wedding’s Carbon Footprint

In honor of Earth Day 2019, we’d like to give you 4 easy tips for reducing your impact on the environment as you plan your wedding.

1. Your Catering Choices

The most important thing you can do to reduce your impact on the environment, choose a green caterer. Our top recommendation for full service green event catering services in Oregon is Artemis Foods Catering & Events. If you want to know your caterer is incorporating green principals in every aspect – from locally sourcing seasonally available menu options, to cleaning reusable dishes with environmentally friendly cleaners to cleanup and reduction of waste practices, to paying fair wages, look no further!

The great news is so many of our local caterers and restaurants who offer event catering are also green in their practices. You are not limited! The key is to select a menu that is in season, with local sources for as much of your food and drink options as possible.

2. Send a Digital Invitation or Save The Dates

Our friends over at Glitch Films offer love story edited films for your social media, wedding website and digital Save The Dates and Wedding Invitations. Order a few locally made, specialty invitation suites for those on your list who will save and treasure your invite, and use a service like Paperless Post or GreenVelope to send the rest of your list green paperless invites, you can customize your invites with your film (GreenVelope, out of Seattle, will support custom video invites).

3. Don’t Use Floral Foam

Green traditional floral foam is a freakin magical genius design tool when designing wedding arches, dramatic centerpieces, and backdrops. But wedding foam is absolutely horrible for the environment! You may need to use it in your arch, depending on weather conditions, floral colors, and time of your ceremony vs. when your arch design must be installed. Nobody wants to sacrifice the beauty of their wedding, and you don’t have to. But limit how much your floral designer has to use.

We can always design a foam free backdrop or arch, but unless you use suggested materials that can remain brilliant out of water, this can be difficult. White flowers look dead faster. Brilliant colored florals can hold their color longer or indefinitely. Use hearty greens, no foam is needed with Italian ruscus:

or even greens that dry looking the same – this eucalyptus is locally sourced and DRIED:

Everything in the above picture is dried! This design was built in wooden boxes in sand. There are so many options for dried or preserved or painted florals to be used in your design. Spray painted babies breath clouds are a favorite this year. And individual flowers can be added using water tubes to remain fresh.

It’s easy to design centerpieces without foam. Or there are alternative foams which will biodegrade faster and cleaner than green foam. We offer green designs using as many locally sourced and green principals as possible while not sacrificing the look you want.

If you pay us to handle the striking and clean up of your floral design (extra charges involved) we will recycle and reduce the amount of waste left behind. We also dry most of the flower petals from fresh florals left over. These are re-used for floral confetti, dried floral aisles, etc.

4. Your Wedding Rings

If everyone did this one simple thing the impact on global conflict and ethical sourcing would be unbelievably profound. We have several jewelers locally who offer antiques, conflict free, and other ethnically and environmentally positive options for your wedding rings.

I have not found a better source anywhere near or far than the amazing local company Mia Donna! This story of a local mom trying to do her part to change the world is phenomenal. I honestly don’t know why anyone would look elsewhere for their rings. They have it all from ethical to affordable, to absolutely jaw dropping, it’s all in one place!

If you’d like to learn more about planning a green wedding, contact us!

A Wedding Sunday In April

Sometimes in the off-season, couples are looking for some help with flowers to decorate an intimate wedding. This Sunday’s wedding suddenly turned in to a large gathering, testing the capacity of Elephants on Corbett!

Sometimes you think nobody will come to your wedding if you get married in April, but what other fun things are competing for our attention and social calendars? Nothing!

The wedding for 70-80 quickly turned in to 120 when everyone RSVPd “Yes!”

The ceremony took place at my favorite spot for any type of smaller wedding. If you are on a tight budget looking for a place to get married, Oaks Pioneer Church is the place:

Simple decor is all you need with the beautiful stained glass backdrop.

The reception was just a few minutes away at Elephants on Corbett.

They had 12 tables + a sweetheart table and still room for a buffet.

The Sweetheart Table looks bare in this photo – the family was transporting the garlands from the church to the reception later. And the bouquet would be placed in the empty vase (always a great cost-saving pro tip).

A picture of the bouquets.

Simple corsages for the moms and grandmas.

A few of the boutonnières.

The cake and cupcakes were delivered by The Cakery in Hillsdale, we set them up and decorated the three tiers. Again, pro tip, the toss bouquet doubles as a pretty extra pop of decor at the dessert table. On your wedding timeline, typically bouquet toss comes right after cake cutting so your toss bouquet is there for pictures and handy when it’s time to toss.

One of the cake tiers didn’t have a wooden platter, so I decorated all three around the bottom with leftover eucalyptus laid out in rings, and rose buds. Whenever I get pinboards from couples with styled shoot cakes filled with toxic and poisonous flowers, berries and greens I cringe. Styled shoots are not real!! Nobody is eating that cake or they may die people. We will only allow professional bakers to install florals on cakes, or as with this one, we schedule our set up for after the cake arrives to make sure it’s set up safely. All of these materials are not edible because nobody should eat flowers or greens grown in pesticides, processed in floral design chemicals, etc. These items are cleaned, they are not touching the cake at all and they are easily removed before cutting and serving.

The centerpieces were a favorite for this year! The wooden box centerpieces are a hot item this wedding season. They’re very versatile, fit with all different color schemes, can be used to line the aisle at your ceremony and placed on tables after. They fit with rustic farm decor and in a ballroom. We are glad they’re here!

Having A Friend Officiate Your Wedding

Ever since the episode of Friends where Joey got ordained to perform Chandler and Monica’s wedding, it’s become more and more of a trend. In Oregon, very few couples opt to get married in a church or to have a religious ceremony.

More couples are writing their own vows, opting for non traditional ceremonies blending their own relationship, personal values and personalities. We have several phenomenal local officiants who will perform your ceremony for you and help guide you through the process of creating a custom ceremony. But if you have a friend you really want to perform your ceremony and they agree – what next?

Step 1: Get Ordained

A lot of rumors float around on this subject, but the facts are if you live in Oregon and you believe you were legally married, the courts will most likely consider you married. But please do it right! It’s easy to do. I recommend getting ordained online. It takes five minutes and is 100% legal for you to perform a wedding in Oregon if you do.

I say this as an ordained Minister of two years. All wedding planners should be ordained, just in case. It’s a great backup plan. I chose The Universal Life Church. It’s super easy, free unless you opt for upgrades like fancy certificates and a book that teaches you how to perform a ceremony.

Step 2: Planning the ceremony

There are parts to a ceremony. Depending on religion or non denominational type of ceremony you are doing, everything from the processional, to where people sit or stand, has meaning. If you are doing a common non-traditional ceremony, plan to have the bride and her immediate family on the left and the groom and his family on the right. Guest seating can still be open, and usually is mixed.

Here’s a general order of a typical wedding ceremony you can omit or change it up any way you want:

  1. The Processional – we already covered this in a previous post
  2. Welcoming Comments – most people do not give anyone away anymore. If you do wish to do any form of that this will happen right at the end of the processional. Immediately after the officiant welcomes everyone and gives a brief personalized thank you to everyone there to witness this awesome event – if they haven’t yet, remind them to please be seated before you get too far.
  3. The next part I like to call The Officiant Explains It All – This is where having a close friend or loved one Officiate, pays off! The best ceremonies I’ve seen have been a long Mass by an amazing Priest in Little Italy, San Diego in 1998, next was a wedding last year performed by The Matron Of Honor’s Father (a first timer), and Rabi Brian had everyone laughing through a ceremony we did in 2017. There are a million ways to engage the crowd, tell the couple’s personal story and explain the importance of why you’re all here today. The priest gave a speech about the realities, trials and beauty of marriage. I actually sobbed because nothing had ever connected with me more about the importance of marriage – it was beautiful and perfect. The friend wedding was so personal. We learned their love story, his ideas on love and his praises for them as a couple, again, I cried it was fantastic. The best part, he didn’t know how to do this before we talked and all I did was give him a few basic pointers and guidelines. The key is make it personal! Rabi Brian is just brilliant, fun, and great at getting to know his couples and it is engaging for the people there to watch.
  4. Exchanging Your Vows – This is where one can have a traditional do you vow to do x.y.z. And you say “I do”, or as is more common today, you can write your own vows to exchange. Don’t wait to start writing your vows. You don’t want to offend your future spouse by winging it. Tips for writing good vows – be very personal. Tell each other when you knew, how you knew, and why and what you will do from now until eternity to be by each other’s side. It doesn’t have to be long. It shouldn’t be too short. And it should take some time to edit, rewrite or reorganize. As one who majored in English and took creative writing courses I can tell you the best writing comes from what you know, feel passionately about, and revisit several times to get it just right.
  5. Exchanging Rings – if you are doing a ring warming ceremony, start the process at the end of the part where your officiant explains it all. The significance of a ring is it is continuous and has no beginning and no end. It’s not important to focus hard on the significance of a ring. You can say more words as you place the ring on each other’s fingers. Most commonly people say “With this ring, I thee wed.” But you can say anything, “With this ring, I ask you to be mine.” – Victor Van Dort
  6. Asserting Your Authority To Pronounce This Officially – here’s where the magic happens! Your ordained status comes in handy officially and this wedding is legit! Anything from “By the power given to me by the mighty internet and the state of Oregon, I now pronounce you …”
  7. The Only Time Everyone Is Excited For The PDA – You kiss, it can be sweet and soft, sweeping and romantic, you do you!
  8. Final Words Announcements and Directions For Guests, A Toast, A Prayer, Clapping, All Of The Above.
  9. Recessional.

Step 3. Sign The Marriage License

If you haven’t read our blog post on how to make it legal, do that. Once you’re ceremony is over you have to take a moment with your best people (witnesses) and officiant to sign the license. You may have a fancy keepsake Marriage Certificate that you can keep, but you also have the official document you got from The County Clerk in the state you are marrying in. Sign these! Get pics. It’s a cool moment.

Step 4. Send The Documents In!

Read the directions for sending the docs in. Some areas require you to go in, usually you just need to mail them in within 3-5 business days. Don’t mess this up. If you have questions call the local County Clerk’s Office and ask. It’s usually very simple and self-explanatory.

Processionals + Recessionals

So, I’ve planned a lot of weddings over the past 20 years, 21 if you count my own wedding. There is no right way to have a wedding! Just repeat that – out loud – anytime somebody gets mad at you for suggesting you want to have your wedding just exactly the way you want it.

That said, a lot of people want to know, how do I actually do this? How do people know where to sit? How do we actually walk down the aisle? What’s the order of the ceremony?

Again, there is no right way to do it. But your religion, ceremony type, formality, personal style and preferences will all shape the true answer to this question.

If you are having a Jewish wedding, the Rabbi is already up front. The Groom may be there with the Rabbi, or they may walk out together. His parents may escort him down the aisle and take their seats or stand at two posts of the chuppah. If you are having groomsmen or a best person, your parents may sit or they can stand together at one corner while your best person takes the other corner, or your parents may take their seats and the groom’s attendants line up down the right side of the front (this is the most common). There is no right answer.

If there is a bridal party, the bride’s attendants line up on the left side. Both of her parents escort her down the aisle.

In Christian or non-denominational or non-religious American weddings, you have options.

Option 1 – the most common modern processional. The grandparents (first grooms then Brides) they walk as a couple or if just one are escorted, they are seated, groom’s family front row right side. Next the groom’s parents. If they are no longer married father and escort then mother and escort. Then mother of the bride. If she is walking alone, that’s fine she may want an escort, choose a groomsman. She is seated. The music may change. The groom and officiant walk in line to start. The groomsmen follow right behind with best Person last, first person files all the way to the end mark this during your rehearsal. Best Person stands next to groom. Then by size. Music changes. Bridesmaids followed by Maid/Maitron/Man of Honor. Next come the ring bearer and flower girl, they may stand or sit depending on age, they usually sit. Music changes for bride and Father (or chosen escort, or alone).

Option 2. Groom and officiant go out first. Next grandparents ushered by best man who seats groom’s grandparents then stands up front. Followed by groomsman ushering grandparents, seats them takes his place. Next mother of the bride ushered by groomsman. If you have too many groomsmen they walk out alone in line next. Next come bridesmaids exactly as in option 1.

Option 3. Groom and officiant, followed by grandparents, groom’s parents, and mom ushered by best Man. Bridesmaids and groomsmen pair up. Maid of honor alone or best man returns to walk with her. The rest is the same as option 1.

For Same Sex weddings or modern weddings where you want things done different, you can choose from a lot of options. Choose a side for each set of parents. The officiant enters first. Have grandparents enter next, one family sits on right other on left. Next have bridal party enter they can stand left or right, gender never matters in any wedding for any attendant. In same sex weddings this is even more common. But choose who’s standing up for whom, and who will stand on each side during the rehearsal. Everyone may walk in a row and file in all on the right then all on the left, or they may walk in pairs and split right and left. It doesn’t matter. Best Persons go last, right before ring bearer and flower person. Finally one spouse to be accompanied by both or one parent, followed by the other accompanied by one or both parents.

Some same sex couples opt to follow a more traditional format or a blend of traditional and non. Again there is no right way. If you have immediate family who will not be attending your wedding for any reason, have a loved one from either family, or a very important honored guest serve in their place. Somebody who loves you dearly wants to serve this roll, I promise. Don’t go it alone.

More info about ceremony parts and details to follow in a future post. After it’s all said and done, the recessional happens! The newly weds exit first, followed by flowergirl and ring bearer, best person and maid/matron/man of honor comes next, followed by bridal party paired off. Extras walk alone. Next officiant releases aisles left to right front to back.