Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Wedding Sessions Are HERE!


A few months ago I came up with this idea to take the blog at Liven It Up Events and instead of posting pictures of our work and some more generic wedding blog stuff, I wanted it to become a platform to answer questions that folks have on planning weddings.  So it began where I would shoot a short video or two every week.  Posting them on he blog and using Facebook and Twitter for all my friends and clients to follow!  

 
My buddy and colleague Wendy Pashman, the owner of Entertaining Company, started following my videos and we began chatting about wedding issues back and forth to each other.  Wendy asked me a question about planners and caterers relationships and I then asked her a question back. It was then that I asked her answer some wedding questions with me on video.  Now if you know Wendy or I, we can not do anything too simple! 

We brainstormed first at her office.  Thinking about what are the most common questions and misnomers folks have about planners, catering, and weddings that we hear.  We needed some inspiration so we found ourselves at Le Colonial over afternoon cocktails.  We then walked the grounds at Cafe Brauer, and sat in the showroom at Tablescapes to ponder what are some of the most pressing questions our couples have in planning their wedding and you'll see next week what we discovered!
 
Watch over the next couple of weeks as we post our video sessions of "The Wedding Sessions."  We hope that these video conversations answer questions and help inspire and enlighten couples getting ready to tie the knot!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just A Thought on Your Planning Thoughts

This is something that I find to be so interesting.  Just like in everyday life, we all have instincts or feelings on what we should do or what we should not do.  Some of these feelings are for smaller everyday things like what to wear, how to prepare your schedule for the day, or what dessert to bring to a dinner party.  And then we have instincts for larger things that happen in our lives like knowing whether or not to accept an offer for a new job, to move homes, buying a new car, or to decide to marry the person you love.

Just like trusting your instincts for your everyday life and for your more important decisions in life, you should trust your instincts on planning your wedding.  When you walk into the room and you just know that you found the right space, go with it!  When you meet with the right vendors and you just know that she or he is he right fit, book them!  When you see the table linen, the flowers, the china, the lighting, the chairs and you know it's right, go with it!  It helps so much to just trust the little voice inside.   

Photo Courtesy of Garret Photography

This is a couple who I had the pleasure of working with and believe me.  They hand picked everything and everyone for their wedding and when they knew something was right for them, they did it.  When something was not right for them, they moved on!  And believe me, they had a fantastic wedding!

When you know something is right in your everyday life, you do it.  Same thing should be for planning your wedding.  When you know, you know!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Romantic Weddings in Chicago We Have Planned

Another style of wedding that we know how to plan well is one that is considered by some, more of a Romantic style.  This is where there are lush florals, dim, soft lights, elegant touches on the table arrangements and candle light everywhere!  Take a look at some of the weddings we have done that match that style.

 This was a great wedding we had last fall at Harold Washington LibraryBlue Plate was the caterer and was able to delivery a great 3 course meal The bride's family flower shop provided the flower arrangements and plenty of candles ALL over the room! If I am not mistaken, it takes about 350 candles to go around all of the ledges in the library!

Another wedding we had at A New Leaf where although the space is modern, the low lighting and candles throughout the space make it so romantic.  J&L Catering did a great job with the menu for the one too!

Where else do you get a more romantic feel than the Red Lacquer Room at the Palmer House Hilton?  The room is stunning to begin with.  Fragrant Design brought the bride's vision of floating snow clouds to life with her beautiful arrangements!

 This was another winter romantic wedding we had this year at the Quadrangle Club on the University of Chicago's Campus and K.La Designs did a fantastic job creating a winter wonderland!




 Finally, this wedding at Cafe Brauer this year was really phenomenal!  Blue Plate Catering did a great job with the menu and Scarlet Petal brought the bride's vision of getting married in her mother's back yard to the Great Hall! 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Looking at Some Modern Weddings We Have Planned

What I LOVE about our couples at Liven It Up Events, most of them are looking for a unique wedding.  Something different, some unique, something modern!  It seems to be one of the styles as planners that we can do really well!  This season, we have had so many different weddings in different locations that showcase our ability to take a bride and groom's vision of a modern wedding and make it come to life.  Take a look...

Super modern look at the Museum of Contemporary Art, with minimal flowers by Cattleya Designs, elegant food by Wolfgang Puck. 

 Cocktail Style wedding at Room 1520, with small plate food stations by Boutique Bites.

Elegant affair at Loft on Lake with a plated dinner by Fig Catering and Decor by Art of Imagination.
 

 Ultra modern look at the Sofitel, with some cool lighting by Okyne Media Lab and the super modern floral by Richard Remiard Designs.



 Using Event Creative's creative touch to the floral designs at Spiaggia, this was a chic and elegant wedding!

Watch for our next round of Bridal Styles for the more Romantic Bride next week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Deejay Before Hiring

One of the most important people that will be at your wedding besides the two of you is going to be your deejay.  This is the person that keeps the music flowing, the toasters in toasting, and the dancing happen!  Here are some thoughts on what to ask your deejay before hiring them for your wedding.

1.  What are the ways that you get to know what we want to hear and what we do not want to hear?  
Most deejays will sit with you and talk to you about the types of music that you like and do not like.  Some create a 'Do Not Play List' and even if it is requested by a guest, he or she will not play it.  Remember, the deejay has the job of making you both happy as well as keeping people on the dance floor.  As long as your "No's" are not played and the deejay has a guideline for what you want to hear and the crowd is having fun, it is all good!

2.  Do you do an in person consult before hiring?
Although it may not seem important, it might be beneficial for you to meet with your deejay in person before hiring, or even a Skype meeting, just to have some sort of face to face conversation.  It's important that the deejay understands you as a couple and what you are looking for.  If he or she does from the get go, he or she will understand what type of music to play at your wedding.

3.  If I do not have a planner, will you help us get organized?
I'll admit it, not every couple hires a planner or a Day of Coordinator.  When that does not happen, the responsibility then truly falls on the deejay to get the bridal party lined up for introductions, cues the toasters when they are going to toast, and prompts the bride and groom when they will cut their cake and do their first dance.  The deejay is an important part of keeping the flow of the evening moving!

4.  Does your pricing include assisting with the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception?
Just to get it all clear and pricing is all out on the table, if you are having your ceremony and reception at the same location, you want to make sure that everything in your quote from your deejay is included.  You will need the deejay to run sound (microphone) for the ceremony, possibly music if you do not have live music for the ceremony.  You will need music (normally played from an iPod and a speaker that the deejay provides) for the cocktail reception, and then of course, music for the dinner and dancing reception!

5.  Do you love what you do?
Sounds like an odd question to ask a deejay, however, in my opinion, the deejay is the life of the party.  I would only feel comfortable having someone deejay my wedding if he or she really loved what they do.  There are so many deejays that LOVE what they do and I would choose any one of them just because I see them rocking out behind the booth with the crowd.  That means they are doing their job, doing it well, and giving a couple the night of their lives!       

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Top 5 Questions to Ask YOURSELF Before Hiring A Wedding Planner

There are so many questions that you can ask a wedding planner before hiring.  Have you ever thought about the questions you should ask YOURSELF before you hire a wedding planner.  Here is what I think!

5.  Do I believe that this planner has the same aesthetic and taste as I in food, decor, music, photography, and everything else that going into planning a wedding?
I say this as something to ask yourself as everyone has a certain level of taste. With that level of taste they have a selection of vendors that they are going to bring you too and on some level those vendors are going to have similar styles, tastes, ideals, and ways of execution as the planner.  Every planner has strategic partnerships with other vendors and normally, those vendors have the same skill sets, price points, and level of experience as the planner.  A good planner will have a variety of vendors in different price point and aesthetic categories that they should be able to share with you.

Wedding Stylized at Harold Washington Library

4.  Does the philosophy of the planner aline with the type of wedding I want to have?
Every planner has a reason for doing what they do!  Some planners love the details and the creative ends of building a wedding, some are more focused in logistics and numbers, some have a balance in both.  I know that we me, I do what I do because I love it!  In that, it comes through my planning experience of being able to be creative but also have the ability to think about budget and logistics when it comes to planning.  

Deborah Weisenhaus with Art of Imagination photographed with Anthony 

3.  Do I  have any reservations or concerns about going forward? 
I can tell sometimes when something just does not feel right.  It's my gut telling me that something is not right about something.  It could be hiring a contractor, purchasing an outfit, or even sometimes which route to take to work!  Trust your instincts.  If you have any reservations over hiring a planner, meet with someone else to either prove it to yourself or prove yourself wrong!


Desiree Dent with Dejanee Events & Anthony smiling for the cameras!


2.  Is this planner someone who is known through the wedding community and am I comfortable with the level of service and expertise of this planner?
There are so many wedding planners out there!  How do you choose one?  There are some who are seasoned, medium, and rare when it comes to experience!  I would ask what is the comfort level of working with someone to little or no experience or someone who is experienced?  Remember, I had little experience when I started, but I did have the expertise of working in hospitality for 7 years before I started Liven It Up.  The flip side is someone with too much experience might be comfortable with planning the same wedding over and over and over and looses the nuance of being creative and reinventing themselves as well as the events that they plan.  Do you want someone who is new to the scene, someone who has been doing this for a long time, or someone in the middle of the road.  My only advice, just make sure that the person is known by some of the wedding community!  At least this way you know that they are legit! 

 Some of the planning team for one of TLC's Four Weddings!

1.  Outside of everything else, do I like this person as a person?  
On the day of the wedding, your planner is going to be with you for most of the day.  From getting ready, to getting you down the aisle, to pulling you around the reception, telling you what to do, hopefully is a kind and fun way!  Outside of everything else, do you like the planner as a person?  Would you want to go cocktailing with the planner after the wedding?  Would this be someone you would make friends with?  This is SO important that outside of everything else, that  you LIKE your wedding planner as a person!  Trust me, the bond is so important and with a strong bond, the experience will be more enjoyable!

 Anthony doing his thing!

Watch for more Top 5 Questions to Ask Deejays, Photographers, Florists & Other Wedding Vendors in Upcoming Blogs!   Visit www.livenitup.com for more information!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top 5 Questions to Ask A Wedding Planner Before Hiring

There seem to be different view points that come around every year on what are the questions you should ask your wedding planner before hiring.  I can tell that some of those articles have been posted because the same questions are being asked repeatedly.  I think it is SO important to ask your wedding planner questions, don't get me wrong, but here are my thoughts on the questions that should be asked.

1.  How many years have you been in business? 
Find out the level of experience of the planner.  Are you looking for someone who just planned their first wedding last month or someone who has been doing this for a long time.  There is the right planner for everyone, knowing the level of experience that will make you feel comfortable is key.  Also, knowing their professional background.  For myself and the planners at Liven It Up, we all have some sort of combination of hotel/off-premise catering/restaurant/banquet & conference experience.  Having experience for some folks may be key in timing a wedding and keeping the day on track.


2.  How many weddings do you (and your team) plan a year?
It is good to know how many other brides the team is working with.  If you want someone who is always around for you, you might not get that with someone who has many events a year.  This also shows the skill level of a planner.  How many events can she/he balance at one time.  The Team at Liven It Up Events has certain policies in how many events we take on a year, how many we take on a weekend, and we have back up plans in case something happens to one of the planners here. 


3.  What is the range in budgets that you work in?
This is good to know even if you have a large budget that the planner may know how to work with smaller budgets to not just spend money to spend! 

4.  What type of weddings do you normally plan?  
 There is a difference in planning a wedding in a hotel/club vs. a privately owned venue where everything has to be brought in.  If you are going to more venue route, you should look for a planner who does more venue weddings and vice versa if you are going the hotel route. 



5.  What is your philosophy in planning a wedding?  
 I have my own philosophy when it comes to planning a wedding and I make sure that I am up front about that with new clients.  I want them to understand I am not here to spend money just to spend, I am planning their wedding, not my wedding, so I am going to give them what THEY want, and I want to make sure we have fun in the process!  Without enjoying the process, why go through it at all?!



Check in Thursday for the Top 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Moving Forward with a Wedding Planner!




Thursday, May 3, 2012

Even More Unique Chicago Weddings!!

If you have not been following our Unique Chicago Wedding Venues blog series, you have to take a look as this is Part 3!  These are some of the full service wedding venues that we have worked with and really enjoyed the service and execution of some of the most memorable weddings we have been a part of in planning!  (If you have not seen Part 1 or Part 2, click the part and see what other venues we looked at!)

 Hotel Sofitel is in the heart of the Gold Coast and when checking at the front desk you hear, "Bonjour" you will surely be charmed.  The planning team at the hotel is amazing and with an executive chef that wows guests' palettes, you are sure to love this venue!


Spiaggia is another great location for a wedding or event.  The private room overlooks the park across the street from the historic, Drake Hotel, with views of the lake.  Not only is this a great location the food is out of this world!  Other great choice for a venue with everything on site!



The Quadrangle Club on the University of Chicago Campus is a charming space that is perfect for a boutique wedding.  Not only can your guests stay at the club in the over night hotel accommodations right on site, the space allows you to do a ceremony on site as well!  Good food is a must and here you will get just that as well as a historically rich space that can be dressed up or as is!


Looking for another hotel idea, Hotel 71 is a great location for a wedding.  The ballroom on the 39th floor is perfect for a ceremony and then is easily flipped for a dinner reception.  Over looking the river and great views of the city, it is a perfect hotel venue for those who want a view and a full service location!


If you are looking for a venue with true historic charm, the Palmer House Hilton is where you need to go!  Rich in history and the lavish ballrooms and accommodations that the Palmer House offers is exquisite!  The food is amazing, the staff is wonderful and knowledgeable and truly, this is a venue that will "wow" your guests!


 The Mid America Club is another great space in the city, located in the AON Building, close to Millennium park with 360 Degree views of the city!  Tall ceilings, friendly staff, and great food, this is a great backdrop for any event!



The Metropolitan Club is other wonderful location for a wedding or event.  On the 66th Floor in the Willis Tower, the Club can provide space for a ceremony, cocktails, and reception.  The main ballroom has incredible views of the city.  Seriously, a great space, great food, and again "wow" with views!









Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More Unique Chicago Wedding Venues

We have been noticing that the blog post on Unique Chicago Wedding Venues (click here to see the first set of venues) has been a big hit and that so many people have been using it a reference.  We thought we would share some more venues for you to take a look at!  Check it out!!

Museum of Contemporary Art better known as the MCA is a great modern space to hold an event there.  From a fun wedding to great cocktail party.  This modern, open, white space is perfect for any event.  And working with the in house catering team at Wolfgang Puck Catering is a great bonus!


















  
  
Cafe Brauer is located in the heart of the Lincoln Park Zoo.  With both indoor and outdoor space and the ability to do both the ceremony and reception on site, this is a staple venue for Chicago Events!









Venue One is the next on the list that is newer to the scene of venues in Chicago.  The space is two floors of raw space.  Managed by Event Creative, the possibilities are endless.  With over 20,000 square feet and a super modern soft edge to it, this really is an amazing space!


The Rookery is another venue that showcases it's historic roots with no problems!  The building was built and completed in 1888 and it still has so much of it's original character.  The grand stair case and the old world feeling that you get from standing in the room allows for any wedding ceremony to take place and then easy transition to dinner. 


River East Arts Center or REAC for short, is another space that can house over 300 guests and is a great modern timber loft for either a traditional sit down dinner event or a fabulous space for a cocktail reception.  Located in River East, the venue backs up to the river and is just minutes from Navy Pier.  


The Glessner House is also another historic space in the city, located in the South Loop.  With outdoor space and indoor space, the Glessner House offers a charming backdrop for an elegant affair!













Venue Six 10 is the space on the list that is ultra modern and perfect for a wedding or corporate function.  With floor to ceiling windows over looking Grant Park on at 600 S. Michigan Avenue, the space will for sure wow your guests.  Here's another time when you get to work with the amazing team at Wolfgang Puck!



Watch for our next post on some of the full service venues including hotels & private clubs that are great to use to host an event!
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