Planning a wedding can be a love-hate process for couples, and it might lean toward hate when tailoring your plans to fit a budget. Although it can certainly be stressful, having a tight budget does not limit the beauty or uniqueness that can come from your wedding day. Below are some practical tips from your friends at Stitely for the cash-conscious bride to consider as she begins planning:

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1. Timing is Everything: For couples who have not yet chosen the date for their ceremony, don’t be afraid to plan in the off-season. Sure, everyone loves a beach wedding in June, but a fall wedding in a cozy chapel can be just as wonderful and romantic (and can also result in great photos!) Many vendors offer discounts for Friday or Sunday weddings as well. Avoiding prime-time rates on wedding vendors and venues can save you serious bucks on your big day.

2. Get a Pro Involved: Hiring a professional wedding planner may cost more than you’d like, but compared to what it could save you in the long run it’s almost always worth it! Planners come with years of experience in the business, which means that they will know how to give you what you want within your budget! Not to mention they’ll know the best vendors in the business to work with so you’re not left blindly trusting your Google search findings.

3. Don’t Fear the Department Store: While the idea of shopping at a store like Kleinfeld’s from “Say Yes to the Dress” is appealing to a lot of brides, these boutique store can be incredibly pricy! If you’re planning on splurging a bit on the dress of your dreams, take some time and evaluate some other option for your bridesmaids. The days of all bridesmaids exactly matching are coming to an end, which gives people more money-conscious options! From using dresses they already own to shopping at stores like the Gap, Macy’s, J. Crew and Anthropologie, these options can give your wedding party a unique flair for a lower price. Plus, these are dresses that they might actually wear again!

4. Cater to the Kids: Ask your caterer if they offer children’s plates! This simple idea is an easy way to trim down food expenses, while actually giving any children at your wedding some food they may actually enjoy.

5. Get Flower Frugal: Flowers can be a major cost on a wedding day, especially if you have a lot of bouquets for the wedding party or if you use flowers as centerpieces. To cut down the price, try to pick flowers that are in season (i.e. tulips in the Spring instead of roses). Another simple money saving trick is to choose big flowers. Since most florists charge by the stem, needing fewer flowers can only help! Also adding cheap fillers like cotton and wheat stalks, berries, or even paper flower creations can also significantly lessen the cost of flowers. .

We hope these tips help those who are looking for a lower-budget wedding! Don’t be discouraged—your wedding can and will still be so special no matter what your spending limit. It’s much less about the richness of details and more about the people who you choose to surround yourself with. Happy planning!

In this week’s installment of Stitely Vendor Spotlights, we had a chance to catch up with Lindsay Parrott of Parrott Party Productions. Not only is she a planner that we often work with, but was also a recent client of ours! Her December wedding was a show-stopper to say the least. Read below to hear about what she does and her tips for couples looking for a planner.

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[Photo by Jai Girard]

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

P3 was started in 2011 after Lindsay wanted to move away from only doing birthdays and corporate events. Our first wedding (partnered with I DO!) was in Napa, California at Auberge Du Soleil and was featured in Town & Country’s Spring 2011 issue.

What are some of the main services you offer and how do they set you apart from other competitors?

Our main service is Event Design! We take great pride in being able to transform any room and love seeing the face of a stunned bride, groom and guests! We love planning and being able to see all of the small details fall in place. The biggest thing that sets us apart from our competition is our pricing! We set realistic planning and design prices in order to allow more couples to enjoy the awesomeness of using a planner!

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

When creating your design scheme/theme always remember, “less is more and more is in the details”! You don’t need the biggest centerpieces or a complex lighting plan to have a beautiful event. Find examples of what you like, get the images priced out, and go from there. Scale down in places where you don’t feel as strongly and go big in the places that mean the most.

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

I always ask couples to bring in as many images, fabrics and examples of their design style. We then go over their favorite images and what about them makes them their favorite. I learn about their favorite colors, vacations spots and the things they enjoy doing together. All of this information helps me go back and create a Design Board that communicates the couples’ uniqueness and their wedding vision.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

When looking for a Wedding or Event Planner and/or Designer, you should always pick someone who you feel comfortable with. Find a planner who has a great communication mode. If you prefer text, make sure your planner offers that as an option and their rules and response times. If you prefer to only be contacted at a certain time, make sure your planner understands. Notice how quickly the planners you reach out to when searching, the ones who respond instantly-should move to the top of your list immediately. Whether it was their Production Assistant, Secretary or Intern, it means someone will always be readily available to answer your questions. There should also ALWAYS be an emergency number provided to you by your planner, whether it be their personal cell phone or direct line in. Sometimes there are questions you will need answers to immediately, your planner should be available to those types of questions always.

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

I love planning events that have 400-600+ guests! Our favorite part being able to see so many peoples’ reaction to the décor, lighting, floral and entertainment is exhilarating. We always work with such amazing vendors, we never worry that feedback will be anything other than amazing but it’s always lovely to be reminded.

The not so stellar part of planning Weddings and Events would have to be “crushing dreams” as we call it. We can do anything and everything when it comes to planning and designing BUT we cannot make your budget bigger! Our vendors extend enormous discounts and sometimes will throw an item in there every once in a while, but it is always difficult to tell couples’ they cannot have a 12 piece band, 5 course meal and open bar throughout their entire wedding and only hope to spend $15,000.00. We make magic happen, not miracles!

What is the craziest event story you can share?

We had an outdoor event last summer. The venue was a gorgeous house in the backyard. The house itself was beautiful; the backyard was lush and had beautiful landscaping. The only thing I saw as being a huge problem was the guest-count and of course, the weather! The day of the wedding was beautiful, great weather and all vendors arrived more than early! Set up went superb and the couple was on time with pictures. Minutes before the event starts—DOWNPOUR. The ceremony had to be moved inside, and the reception had to be delayed about an hour while appetizers were passed inside. That is not the craziest part…while the ceremony was going on, the P3 Staff and Catering crew were in the tent outside, standing on the dance floor so it would not wash it away. We had to make bridge-like walkways for the guests to get from the house to the tent without sinking into the ground and help the caterers set up the food stations. It was beyond stressful but at the end of the night, the owner of the house had nothing but nice things to say and the newlywed couple were over the moon.

As a recent bride, how has your own wedding experience change the way you plan for others?

As a recent bride I wanted to simplify the planning and designing process even more! We recently upgraded our A La Carte Menu to include more offerings from our Luminous Suite. We also have added Event Design Suites, for clients only seeking Event Design assistance. I think being a bride has made me more sensitive to the fact that my clients have lives and other things to worry about and do. Yes, their wedding is important and they understand that but life gets in the way. I want to be able to take the reins as much as allowed, allowing the couple time to enjoy their engagement.

For more information about Parrott Party Productions, check out her website here, or on Facebook here.

This week we are excited to re-launch our vendor spotlight feature! In this feature, we catch up with some of our favorite vendors to find out more about what sets them apart, while also giving current and future clients a sneak-peek into the wonderful world of wedding planning and all that it entails.

This week we had a chance to talk things over with event planner Audrey Gordon. Having been in the biz over 30 years, we though Audrey would be a perfect vendor to start our re-launch of this blog. She is very personable with her clients, striving to get to know them personally and really make their day special and unique. See our conversation below!

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

My love of entertaining and “hosting” people was the organic beginnings of my business that started over thirty years ago. When a friend of mine asked me to help her with her kid’s 10th anniversary party at her home in Glencoe, someone at the party asked me for my card—at the time, my business card was my name and my phone number on a napkin! That was the birth of Audrey Gordon Parties. Ltd.

Over your years in the industry, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen in wedding planning trends?

Major changes include the TYPE of Venue being chosen to house the ceremony and reception.

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

I believe what couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding is to definitely incorporate elements that reflect the essence of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They should highlight their common interests so when guests walk into their environment it makes sense and the guests know that are in the right place!

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

My most favorite thing to do is to have the first face-to-face meeting at their place. I learn A LOT about the couple just by visiting them at home. I may ask them how they met, what hobbies they have, their favorite colors or definitely show me their Pinterest board. It’s also important to ask them what they really DON’T like.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

I believe a couple should choose a planner they are EXTREMELY comfortable with; to be able to say anything and everything because it’s all about THEM!

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

The most satisfying thing about my job is similar to having a baby…you plan…plan…plan…and then the day comes and you watch how all the pieces fall together to create the vision that they’ve shared. The ultimate best is when couples come up to me and hug me and say that it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant experience without me to allow them to “be present”  through the entire experience.

The most challenging times come when things happen outside of one’s control, i.e. unexpected weather conditions for an outside event. The trick is to keep your calm, take a deep breath and figure out a solution because there is always a solution to EVERY situation. The old motto is: “It’s not WHAT happens; it’s HOW you handle it.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Audrey! For more information about Audrey Gordon Parties Ltd, check out her website here.

With all the money being poured into the wedding industry, many couples are starting to look for ways to re-allocate some of their expenses toward organizations and charities that are doing more than creating a beautiful event, but are working to make a lasting difference in the community. If you are one of those people who desire to leverage their wedding day for a cause, here are 9 simple ideas to get your headed in the right direction.

1. Incorporate a charity into your showers or registry.

Ask guests to bring canned goods for a local food bank along with their gift for your shower. Or, add a charity to your registry to people can donate to a cause you care about while they’re shopping for your wedding gift. Idofoundation.org is a one-stop shop for couples, providing a number of resources for couples to raise donations for a charity via their wedding plans.

2. Rent a nonprofit’s space.

Support your local museums, historical sites or botanical garden by renting their space for your event.

3. Reuse your flowers and other décor.

Call your local nursing home or hospital and ask if you can donate your reception flowers after the event takes place. This way your flowers can continue to spread cheer for others rather than sitting in your maid of honor’s car for a couple weeks.

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 4. Select favors with a purpose.

One way to do this is to forego guest favors altogether and use that money to make a donation to their favorite charity. Another way you can still show your guests your appreciation while also giving back is by choosing a favor that your guests will love that also supports a charity. One example is FeedYourSoulCookies.com. These sweet treats will be a highlight for your guests and will also support charities like St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital!

5. Don’t waste the leftovers.

Arrange to have any extra food from your reception re-distributed to feed hungry people in your area. SecondHarvest.com is a good starting place to learn more about this and find food banks in your area.

6. Charge it.

With a Working Assets credit card, every purchase you make—whether its your dress, flowers, or any vendor bills—a percentage of it benefits the charity of your choice with no extra cost to you.  For more information, go to WorkingAssets.com

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 7. Hire nonprofit entertainers

From cultural dance groups to community youth orchestras, there are a number of ways to support the arts in your community by booking local entertainment. Add some unique flair to your ceremony or reception music while also promoting the arts!

8. Donate your dresses

After the big event, many people have no more use for their wedding or bridesmaid dresses. Brides Against Breast Cancer (for wedding dresses) and GlassSlipperProject.org (for bridesmaid dresses) are two places that can donate your gowns to make a different in the lives of local girls and women around the world.

9. Use your wedding day to bring awareness to a cause you care about.

One popular cause right now is the fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. One way to support this cause is by using vendors in your city from LoveGivesWay.com. This group of vendors give a part of their fee back to charities that are already working to end sex trafficking. This is a way for you to leverage your one wedding day in support of those who are fighting for this cause every day.

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Whatever way you choose to celebrate, consider a using just one aspect of your day to make a lasting difference in the world! For more information about the ideas and organizations listed here, as well as links to others, check out this article from BridalGuide.com.

We’ve won the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards for 2015 thanks to all the raving reviews we’ve received from our amazing couples! The Couple’s Choice Awards recognizes Stitely Entertainment as being among the top 5% of wedding professionals nationwide. What an honor to be one of the best Chicago wedding bands! We couldn’t be happier.

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Thanks to all our couples and clients for making 2014 another successful year. Looking forward to working with many more amazing couples in 2015!

Happy New Year one and all! Here at Stitely we are so looking forward to what this year has in store for us. Some vendors we’re looking forward to working with again in 2015 include:

LK Events

Clementine Custom Events

Big City Bride

Café Brauer

Kenilworth Club

Warwick Allerton Hotel

Art Institute of Chicago

…and many more!

One of our resolutions this year is to take more photos and document more beautiful moments! Luckily we had some experts to pick up our slack in 2014. Let’s take a look back at some best moments from some of our favorite events in 2014. (Each photo links to photographer’s page) Enjoy!

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Here’s to another rockin’ year!

 

One of the hottest new trends in wedding proposals is the engagement ring box camera.  Invented by a team of students at Hope College in Michigan, the ring box with a tiny camera in it for filming the proposal has ensured that the priceless reaction of the bride-to-be is captured forever.  Ladies, would you like your reaction to your wedding proposal captured for posterity?

I’ll bet when this bride was planning her beach wedding, she didn’t see this coming…

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It’s actually pretty cool. Check out the full story here

 

The future is here: tech-savvy couples are live video streaming their nuptials online.

In this age of destination weddings, and when brides and grooms hail from different parts of the country, it’s a way for friends and family who can’t attend the event to watch from afar. Also, it’s a heck of a lot less expensive to watch from the comfort of your couch in your jammies, than spend the average $539.00 it costs to attend a wedding. But…

… What about the loss of intimacy, excitement, and enjoyment that guests experience by being present at the wedding? Hugging and congratulating the bride and groom, dancing alongside them, eating the cake!!! Are these moments that should be experienced firsthand?

What do you think? Would you live stream your wedding?

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Most people can’t imagine celebrating their most special day without loved ones by their side. For some animals lovers, that includes the family pet. You can definitely include your animals in your wedding day, but make sure to take the following into account before sending Rover his invitation.

Get permission

Make sure your vendors, the venue, and the officiant are cool with it. You don’t want to find out it’s not OK when your pooch is walking down the aisle with your rings.

Get a baby-sitter

Assign a person who the pet is already acquainted with your animal to keep an eye on him. Make sure he isn’t chewing on anything belonging to the venue, or on anything poisonous like plants. Instruct them on what he can and cannot eat, so guests don’t feed him toxic foods. A wedding feast is a veritable smorgasbord of bone-in meats, alcohol, and chocolate, and those are just a few treats that don’t sit well with Fido.

Get his hair did

You have spent so much time preparing to look your best. Don’t detract from all your efforts by standing next to a mangy mutt. Take Spot to the groomer so he looks and smells like a dapper gentleman, also minimizing shedding all over your beautiful dress. And don’t make him wear that adorable tux jacket for too long! He’ll be very creative about getting back at you – I’m thinking something in the Chewing Your Shoes department.