New York Bridal Fashion Week – Recap of the runway

If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you know that I attended Bridal Fashion Week in New York earlier this month.  The week kicked off on Thursday, October 8th, with the first round of bridal shows, but for me, Friday was the best day of the entire experience.

The day started off with the Berta runway show at the Plaza Hotel.  The venue itself was amazing, but the dresses were absolutely stunning.  The show was filled with a slower soundtrack and very dramatic lighting and music.  The models were straight-faced with hair pulled back and they walked with a purpose; slowly and dramatically down the runway.  Each model walked down the runway and back alone – never sharing the space with another model.  Amazing….  Emotional….. I am not sure if it was the fact that it was my first runway show, or the fact that it was one of my favorite designers, or if the venue, lighting and music were really that great, but I was super emotional and this was definitely one of my favorites of the entire week.  Here are some samples of the Berta dresses:

         berta - plaza ballroom        IMG_5118                 berta 1        berta 12                FullSizeRender          berta 7             berta 11       berta 14

Next up that day was the Ines DiSanto show at the IAC building.  Again, another great venue.  This show had a much different feel.  The show started off with a model dressed in a wedding dress behind a sheer curtain.  She took the dress off and a man brought her another wedding dress.  He put the dress on her, buttoned her up and the curtain opened starting the show.  One entire wall of the space was a video wall that showed what was happening on the runway at that time.  Each model came up on the screen and showed different views of the dresses.  It was a great visual effect.  The music was a bit more techno and the models came out much quicker, some walking up the runway while the other walked down.  The collection, of course, was amazing.  The dresses were filled with a lot of lace and even lace wraps on the legs and arms of the models!  Here are some images of the Ines DiSanto collection:

         disanto 10      disanto 8                  disanto 7      disanto 5                    disanto 4      disanto 3                                              disanto 1

Last up that day was the show I had been waiting for, Galia Lahav!  She did not disappoint.  This show took place at the New York Public Library in the downstairs venue which was probably my favorite of all of the venues.  The lighting in the room paired with the dome ceiling and other details throughout made this space a perfect venue for any event – if ever I had the chance to design a wedding in this space, it would be my dream come true.  But I digress.  The theme of this show was somewhat animalistic.  The show had a break of sorts where the space went completely dark, a new Galia logo popped up on a screen and the music changed.  The girls then came out wearing head dresses to accompany their gowns.  I felt that the show was filled with great statements, not just in the design of the gowns, but in the head dresses, the shoes, the music and in the decor.  Well thought out and well paired with the collection.  Here’s a look at what Lahav showed that night:

lahav panoramic

      lahav 1        lahav 8             lahav 10       lahav 5                lahav 12       lahav 11_5999                                                   lahav 2

The weekend continued with more runway shows and beautiful dresses by amazing designers.  There was even an entire “trade show” as I call it, at the Piers.  There were booths set up as far as the eye could see with wedding dresses and accessories – for brides, for bridesmaids, for moms, for flower girls.  You name it, they had it – and not just dresses – vendors had booths set up with jewelry, hair pieces, veils, etc.  It was quite the scene – Here’s a shot of what it looked like:

IMG_6496

My last show of the week was the Pnina show on Monday afternoon at Kleinfeld.  This was definitely an unexpected surprise.  The space was very intimate and the dresses were gorgeous.  Probably some of the best bead work I had seen all week.  Pnina’s theme of water and wind was on point.  It was a simple show to be honest – not a lot of belles and whistles, but she didn’t need it.  The designs spoke for themselves.

      pnina 1       pnina 2                   pnina 3       pnina 4                  pnina 5       pnina 6                   pnina 7       pnina 8

Overall, this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  The Knot ended the entire experience with a Gala that I attended on Monday night.  The best of the best, as they say, gathered in the New York Public Library.  The space was transformed with lighting and blue carpets, great music, unique vendors and some of the most amazing planners,  designers and wedding professionals in the industry.  At the end of the night, I met Berta and took a picture with her, and that was one hell of a way to end such an amazing experience!

      the knot gala 3 the knot gala 2    the knot gala 1   the knot gala 4

 

 

I spent all this money and all I got were these 6 best friends

10613854_901359343221456_1438134013_nEvery so often, articles surface about Greek life, mostly when something negative occurs on a college campus. There is always a story when one random fool wreaks havoc and the Greek community is tarnished. And there are always slow news days so someone will, yet again, highlight the most popular stereotype, which is that we pay for our friends. It’s amazing that in all these years, people can’t get more creative with the insults. Nevertheless, most of these articles are written and judged by people that have never even given the Greek system a chance. Well, I did. And I am forever grateful that I not only took the chance and joined, but I made it through my college years with “big brother” watching over me. It made me a better person for not quitting when I had rules to follow, a certain standard to uphold or came into contact with another member that might not have been my best friend. All of these things built my character and made me who I am today – loyal, confident and able to handle the many personalities I face in my job everyday without quitting!

Looking back, dare I say, nearly 20 years since I first pledged, as an adult and a “semi” parent, my perspective on Greek life is even more clear and positive than it was on the first day I ran through the doors of Alpha Delta Pi on bid day. The reality is that when people say you pay for your friends, they have no idea that no amount of money could have made the other members of my chapter like me when I embarrassed them every day my freshman year by showing up to class in my pajamas and an A Dee Pi shirt. And vice-versa when members overreacted to whatever silly antics my closest friends and I had pulled thereby giving the chapter a “bad image,” in their opinions. My point is, at the end of the day, being in a sorority is just like being a member of any team or organized club. There are rules and dues and parties and obligations, and there’s always a certain standard or reputation that you are preserving, no matter what organization you tie yourself to.

Despite popular belief, the main thing that makes sorority sisters so close isn’t that we have to be because we are paid to be. Pardon the expression, but it’s because we shit, shower and shave together for 4 years. We live together, eat together, and participate in the same weekend and weekday activities together. We had no choice but to see each other pretty much every day and the odds were high that over a 4-year period, we would find something to talk about or some reason to interact even with the girls we had the least in common with. Learning to live together was only a small part of the character-building experience. Working together to plan socials, joining efforts for our philanthropy, coming together to recruit new members, competing together against other organizations, tutoring each other so we could maintain our grade point average; all of these things brought us together and made the experience educational and successful for each of us.

Do not get me wrong, being Greek isn’t always perfect. It doesn’t ensure that your college experience will be as stellar as mine. There’s a chance you could come head to head with the one random loser that believes hazing is, in fact, supposed to be a part of the Greek experience. I am sure the stories you see on Lifetime might be true to some degree. I am sure there is some spoiled brat out there who will get into office and decide that hazing is fun. And if that does happen to you, I hope you are secure enough, strong enough, and respect yourself enough to get out immediately and realize that you got mixed up with the wrong group. In every organization, there’s always a bad seed. There’s always that one jerk that ruins it for the rest of us, but stereotypes are often formed due to the one bad seed rather than the hundreds of good apples in the group.

My experience with Greek life made my college experience what it was – the best damn time of my life thus far! It is what got me through college. I always heard that USM was a suitcase college, so I expected to be going home often, but being a part of the Greek system gave me so many connections and reasons to stay and be a part of campus. It allowed me to fall in love with my university. Some people may find that connection in other organizations, but I found mine via A Dee Pi. The sorority gave me an opportunity to explore groups and offices that I would have otherwise not been a part of. The group of women I was with for 4 years challenged me, laughed with me, cried with me, taught me to be accountable for my decisions and choices, believed in me and expected me to succeed for myself and for them.

Now, 18 years after I joined this “club”, I am still in contact with a great deal of the women I was with all those years ago. We recently reunited and realized that you can go years without seeing each other yet pick up right where you left off no matter how different we all are from the girls we were back then. My best friends to this day are girls I met through the sorority and to this day we have growing pains, just like friends that I’ve met through other arenas of my life. The monthly dues didn’t conserve my friendship with these girls any more than any other friends, but we are bound together because of the experiences we had and what we shared for so many years all those years ago.

What I want people to know about being Greek is that we are much more than the dues we pay. After all, the finest things in life are not free! I will not go into the secrets of each Greek organization and sharing ritual and how it brings us closer. To be honest, if I’m writing to people that think we pay for friends, ritual is definitely beyond your scope of understanding. But I do want you to know that being a part of a sorority or fraternity is about being a team player, about giving back to the community, and about learning who you are and developing yourself at a time when you are growing into the person you will be for the rest of your life. What happens after college is something much bigger than that one chapter you are a part of.

You become a part of a legacy and a part of a community that stays with you forever. I can go anywhere in the country and know that I’ll have someone to reach out to that’s had a similar experience, and I feel comfort knowing that. I hope the guys and girls starting college this year will have the opportunity to have as great a college experience as I had. I know that not going Greek isn’t the end of the world, but choosing the right sorority or fraternity will be a decision that molds the next 4 years. And if you’re lucky and willing, that one choice can carry you through the rest of your life!

 

 

 

Hoping the gay community can bring up the marriage survival rate!

photo for blog

Photo by: Gabe De La Vega

On the brink of the Supreme Court’s vote, same sex marriage seemed to be a part of everyone’s conversation recently. My father told me that he read about a New Orleans caterer saying he/ she would not be involved in gay weddings, if same sex marriages become legal. Well, it’s now LEGAL!! Let me first say that I did not waste my time trying to find out who this caterer is. I work with only the best vendors in this amazing city. And I know that the vendors that I work with and that I am close with are all supporters of same sex marriage and will not turn down catering, photographing, planning, videoing, etc. a wedding just because there are two grooms or two brides. So what I can say with much conviction is that if anyone read that same article that my father was talking about and had a concern that perhaps New Orleans is not supportive of your love and life, that is not the case. That vendor is not on my list, so they are not worth your time anyway. You will only want to work with the best, so come to New Orleans and let the good vendors take care of you!

I do, however, have a question for that vendor, or anyone that says they can’t support same sex marriages because of religious beliefs, for instance. I want to know how closely you interview the “straight” couples? Do you take the time to investigate how they got together?   Did they have sex before the wedding that you are catering because premarital sex is against some religious beliefs. Did you take the time to make sure they were not married previously, because divorce is a religious “no-no” in some cases? Did you make sure their love is not the product of an affair? We all know that would be a devastating blow to your portfolio to find out that you catered the wedding of two adulterers that got married. My point is, who are you to say whose love is worth catering for?

I have been planning weddings for the past 7 and a half years. I have met hundreds of different couples throughout the years between my couples preparing for marriage and their parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. I came into this business for more than money and for more than planning. I believe in marriage, but more than that, I believe in love. Love of any kind is pretty much what we all want. Whether it’s the love of a child, or a parent, or a spouse, we all want it no matter what stage of our life we are in. I happen to love being around the love that exists between the couples and their families.

It is eye-opening experience for me to watch from the outside and learn the dynamic of love from all different angles – especially the love of marriage. Of all the relationships I have seen and all the couples that have walked through the KS doors, one of the greatest examples of love that I have ever witnessed was via my first same sex marriage I had the privilege of being a part of.

Even during the planning, I could tell there was something special there. They did not fight over the silly things that just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They practiced the art of give and take – they communicated openly with each other and myself in order to make sure they were both getting what they wanted. They thought of special surprises for each other and their families. And once I met their families, I knew why they were thought of so highly. I have rarely seen “straight” couples with as supportive families as these two men. Their families and friends all came to New Orleans for the entire wedding weekend and they certainly came with “bells on.” Every single person was early for the ceremony, and by early, I mean 30 minutes. And every single person stayed until the end of the night. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house during the ceremony and I don’t think there was an ass in a chair during the reception. The love that came from these guests and this couple was overwhelming, even to myself and the director of the venue, which by the way was the Wax Museum!

As someone that has spent her entire life looking for love, I’d gladly choose homosexuality (if it were in fact a choice) if I could have what they have. Perhaps the reason they did not fixate on the bullshit is because the struggle for the homosexual community is real. Maybe if straight people had to fight a bit more for their relationships and the right to get married, they may appreciate it more. With the divorce rate as high as it is in this country, I have a hard time hearing that straight people think that homosexuals will make a mockery of the sanctity of marriage. I do not see where we have taken vows seriously, figured out how to make love last, or appreciate the freedoms that we have when it comes to marriage in the straight community.

We are living in a world where the government and social media pick and choose what’s appropriate and acceptable. Our “freedoms” are cleverly being controlled by the media with the stigmas that are put on people based on personal choices and decisions we should be able to make on a daily basis. By not legalizing same sex marriage, we were telling the world that something was wrong with being gay and finding love and being loved for who you are. Perhaps by lifting this ridiculous illegalization, the gay community will not have to combat so many ignorant people and everyone will feel comfortable just being themselves. Not just gay people or straight people – we’re just people and everyone should be able to be happy and love no matter what.

We are fighting a battle for love. At the end of the day, we were waiting for the government to dictate who can be in love. While, in this country, beastiality is legal in some states, the government and community were worried about two consenting adults loving each other? How does that make sense? I think instead of worrying about love, the government should spend their time worrying about hate by getting the crime rate down, creating harsher punishments for sex offenders, child molesters and animal abusers – you know, helpless victims of harsh crimes. Not wasting our time, money and social media space with their stance on whom should marry whom.

Thinking that this is a government issue is in and of itself laughable considering the very people voting on this are in fact married and half of them have been caught cheating and breaking the very vows they are trying to “protect”! All of a sudden, when the country has virtually turned its back on God stating that we can’t even mention him in schools for fear of offending people, they now want to use God to their benefit in order to segregate an entire community. As a Catholic heterosexual, I was married in the Catholic Church and got a divorce, but if I fill out some forms and throw enough money at the church, I can get an annulment and I can get married in the Catholic Church again next time. But same sex couples don’t even get one shot? When it is convenient, we can spin anything to work in our favor, I guess.

BUT, today I am glad this was finally spun in favor of love! With so many hurtful and hateful things going on in this world, voting against love, of any kind, just seems wasteful. The more love we have in the world, the better. Same sex couples were raising children together, but had no legal right to each other because they were not legally married. It’s time to wake up and realize that idealizing straight people and the “rights” we have are long gone. The advantages that are given to some have been taken advantage of and it’s time for everyone to have the same rights across the board.   Same sex couples are probably doing a better job even parenting than the straight couples that walk out on their children daily. Let’s give the gay community a chance to screw up the statistics for a change! Why should the straight people create all the drama? Welcome to the sanctity of marriage – I hope you do a better job than we have!

A special mother’s day tribute to the Baby Boomers!

 

nanan and maw maw             Traci n nanThis week’s blog is dedicated to my aunt who lost her battle with cancer 4 years ago. While going through her pictures in preparation for her memorial, we found her wedding album with all of her old receipts and planning details.  I was facinated to see the price differences and how details have changed when compared to today! In light of the fact that it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, and also my cousin Traci’s 5 year wedding anniversary, I thought it would be fun to compare my aunt’s retro wedding to her daughter’s more current affair.

First and foremost, just to give a reference of the difference in financial status, the average salary in 1974 was $8,030.76, according to the national average wage index. In 2010, the average salary was $41,673.83 – that’s 5 times the money that was being made in a 35 year span.

My aunt was married on May 18, 1974. Her invitation had a picture of a bride and a groom kissing on the front of it and the scenery appears to be a forest of some sort, which already screams “1970’s.” She was married at St. Christopher Church in Metairie and had her reception at the Champagne Room on Jefferson Highway, which was one of the most expensive reception halls at that time, according to my mother! The church, from my mother’s memory, was free as long as you paid the priest and gave “a little extra cash” to the altar boys. My aunt had a 3 hour reception for 300 guests and the package included food, alcohol, the wedding cake, engraved napkins, coffee service and the use of palm trees, which was apparently serious back then! The service charge was 15% and the grand total – $1,656.25 (which breaks down to $5.52/head)

Her daughter, Traci, was married on May 8, 2010. Her invitation was on plain ivory thicker card stock with black print which is more traditional in this millennium – no picture, no fold, just a straight forward invitation! She was married at St. Patrick’s Church in New Orleans and her reception was at the Chicory on South Peters, which was brand new at the time of Traci’s wedding. St. Patrick’s charged $2,000.00 plus a coordinator fee, plus a fee to the music director and “a little extra cash” for the priest. She had a 3 hour reception for 275 guests, which included food, alcohol, tables, chairs and linens, but no palm trees, however the Chicory provided potted plants for Traci to use if she do desired and she did!
Service charge was now 20% and the grand total was almost $25,000 (which breaks down to $90/head tax and tip included)

My aunt purchased her invitations from Gem Printing, who is still in business and a company that I use regularly today. As a matter of fact, Traci ordered her invitations from GEM as well! For my aunt, 200 invitations and printed envelopes totaled $47.18. For Traci, 175 invitations, printed envelopes and thank you cards totaled $175. The most remarkable thing about finding the Gem Printing receipt was not the price. It was the fact that the receipt is exactly the same in 1974 as it is today – the only difference is the address!

Some other comparable prices were the photographer which was $140 for my aunt and $1800 for Traci (I can tell you that 5 years later, that same photographer’s minimum package is $2500. Something that I found interesting about the photographer’s contract back then is that you paid the photographer in full once you picked up your order, not before the wedding/on the day of your wedding, and your order was ready 6 weeks after the wedding. Today, most of the photographers take a minimum of 6 weeks to get the pictures online.  The only other two receipts I found was one for flowers and one for the band. I did not find a total for my aunt’s final floral order, but I can tell you that her bouquet was $15.00 versus Traci’s which was $150.00.  The band was a grand total of $275 versus Traci’s that charged $3300.

What we can learn from this look back is that although the average salary has increased by 5 times the amount it was 35 years ago, the cost of a wedding has increased by a heck of a lot more. The reception alone is more than 10 times the amount today as it was in the 70’s. I think there are several contributing factors to why weddings have become so commercial and out of control, but one of those factors has to be the very generation that this blog goes out to: The Baby Boomers. The moms that got married when my aunt got married and grew up when times were tough, money was tight and women did not have their own careers and income.

Now, moms want to give their daughters everything they had and then some and since a lot of these women work, they can do just that. So next time you are fighting with your mother over wedding decisions, remember that they just want more for you, although how far these moms will go is a different entry all together. We can at least give them a bit of a reprieve this weekend – it is Mother’s Day after all!  So thank your mother for all she’s done especially as it relates to the financial luxuries because as you can see, salaries aren’t always growing as quickly as the cost of living!

Being a good wedding guest – Part 1

Photo by Eau Claire Photographics –                        This photograph was used because faces are blurred out the bride and groom can not be identified. This does not show the scope of what we see every weekend and the invasive nature of some versions of modern technology. But this gives you a good idea of how intrusive devices can be!

Photo by Eau Claire Photographics – This photograph was used because faces are blurred out the bride and groom can not be identified. This does not show the scope of what we see every weekend and the invasive nature of some versions of modern technology. But this gives you a good idea of how intrusive devices can be!

As we continue to move into a world filled with entitled attitudes and social media addicts, the wedding industry is seeing the full scale of boundaries being crossed and the simplest of etiquette and common courtesy evaporating not just from our youth, but from generations that should know better. The scope at which this affects our jobs is one of the most dominant reasons these poor characteristics stick out to us. Once upon a time, you were invited to a wedding, you attended, brought a gift, ate the free food, enjoyed the open bar, and that was it. Now, we (sometimes) have to worry more about the bad behavior of the guests and their lack of common sense than anything else. And that’s a damn shame.

I’ve written this blog before, but many years ago. I didn’t think this would come back around so soon, but as it turns out, there are so many guests practicing bad habits, this blog calls for multiple entries. This first one is dedicated to the photographers out there (and videographers) who work so hard at every event to get the perfect shot, to be there at just the right moment, and who pride themselves on catching the emotion when it happens so that these moments can be remembered forever.

When the clients hire these professionals and they commit to doing their best work and capturing said moments, they aren’t told that they will be dodging IPADs the size of televisions, IPhones from all 200 of your sorority sisters, the “professional” camera of your cousin who wants to use your wedding to see if this is what he wants to do with his life, and most recently, your brother who only takes photos with THE SELFIE STICK. What’s the harm in all 250 guests having one or more of these devises at your wedding and joining in on the photo fun? Where should I start?

Before each wedding, the bride and groom discuss a schedule with us. They give us a shot list for formal pictures and that shot list tells us who will be in the group photos, what time the photos will be taken, and where those photos will take place. Especially when I am involved, the scheduling, timing, and details being listed out are what make it possible for the bride and groom to have the day they want and deserve.

Nine times out of ten, brides and grooms will express to us their desire to keep the photo session short. They want to get to the reception and have a fun night, but they do want to make sure everything is captured and that they have time to experience the moments that they feel are important. When guests, even family members, are making the process longer by getting in our way for group shots, it only hurts the bride and groom.

Making us continuously ask the group we are photographing to only look at the professional photographer slows things down greatly. If we are taking pictures in the church after the ceremony, as a rule, we only have 15 minutes. As a guest, sticking around when you aren’t in any of the pictures isn’t necessary. As a matter of fact, it’s distracting to everyone involved because of your IPhone that’s in the photographer’s shot, or because you stuck around to chat with the people taking pictures (that’s part two of this blog.) Say your “hellos” at the reception. And for the bridal party, the photographer is catching the shot for you, I promise. You do not have to ask your significant other to stick around to take a shot with your phone. If you want a shot of whatever group they are photographing, I’m sure you can purchase it online when the photo gallery goes up. If you don’t want to spend the money, it couldn’t have been that important of a shot to waste 5 minutes of the bride and groom’s time on their wedding day.

My absolute favorite is when a guest not only interrupts group photos, but also then has the nerve to ask the photographer to take the picture for him/her and then hands the photographer his/her IPhone. This is more insulting than the guests can even understand. Some photographers are great sports and, especially if there’s down time during a reception, they don’t mind taking a pic or two with someone’s phone. But when they are in the middle of taking their own picture and someone hands them their IPhone, to me, it is beyond rude. Personally, I think for every shot they take on a guests’ phone, they should be paid for the image and the inconvenience of interrupting their job.

With all of that being said, by far, the biggest interruption the photographers (and videographers) have when it comes to bad guest behavior is the photo bomb guest. These are not the guests you think they are. They aren’t purposely in your shot. For some reason, they think they are invisible, but instead they have photo bombed the perfect shot of the bride coming down the aisle, or the bride and groom feeding each other cake, or the first kiss on the altar. You name it, they are there for it with their massively invasive “picture-taking” device and they have no idea that anyone else around them exists, let alone is trying to do a job.

This issue is about more than having an unplugged wedding. That in and of itself is a totally different topic. Enjoying the moment and making memories instead of always having to capture them immediately is a problem all it’s own. I am all too familiar with the reality that some couples do want their guests to post pictures on social media. Some create their own hash tags for that very reason. And there’s nothing wrong with that; when it is appropriate and not invasive to the vendors doing their jobs. That is the bigger issue concerning these guests and their quest to be involved in every photo-op of the wedding. Missing a shot, or veering off of the schedule because of an overzealous guest is something that we all know could come back on the vendors when the clients don’t get the shots they asked for or aren’t given what they were promised. But the clients have to have our backs and know their guests well enough to know what information they need from the start of the wedding day.

I realize that there are obstacles in every profession. And in the wedding industry, we have our fair share of things we cannot control (shout out to mother nature.) Having a guest photo bomb the bride coming down the aisle, or set us back a few minutes on the wedding day is certainly not the end of the world. But for that bride and groom, it might be that one shot that means the world to them.

I watch these brides and grooms agonize over who will make the invite list. So be the guest that does what they were invited to do; enjoy the moment with your friend or family member — laugh, cry, dance and drink! And remember that a lot of time, money, and planning went into this one day. Do not be the guest that makes it all about you. As vendors, it’s definitely not about us. It’s about doing what we are paid to do. Let us take care of the details, the pictures, and the video. You just make the memories, and we’ll capture them!

 

 

Jazz Fest 101

Although I am a New Orleans native, I did not grow up going to Jazz Fest each year like other locals. It actually wasn’t until just 5 years ago that a great friend of mine convinced me to step outside of my comfort zone, and I’m glad she did. Before then, I was too anxious about the crowds, not much of a live music lover, and I hated the thought of hanging out in the heat while sitting in grass. Thank God Jazz Fest came along to save my sheltered, judgmental little soul!

Now that I know better and have an open mind and heart, I’d like to share my successes with everyone. Enjoying Jazz Fest is very simple. It comes down to what you wear, what you drink, what you bring, and who you go with.

What to wear to Jazz Fest:

Wearing the correct clothing is by far one of the most important details for a successful Jazz Fest experience. Most of the time, fingers crossed, you’ll have a beautiful, sunny day. Making sure you are not adding to the heat by wearing something too heavy or uncomfortable will make things that much more enjoyable. And preparing for the weather in case it isn’t perfect is another absolute must. Here’s a list of what’s most important:

  1. SUNBLOCK – Even if the sky is a little cloudy, trust me, the sun is still shining on you. You will need sunblock!
  2. Proper clothing – Again, dress comfortably. Wear something lightweight and casual. Shorts are usually the best, but as a hater of shorts, a sundress works just fine! Definitely wear a comfortable, cool top (i.e. a tank top, or a strapless shirt if you are worried about tan lines.) Guys, t-shirts and shorts are perfect. Do not try to get fancy. It’s hot out there.
  3. Shoes – Flip-flops are great and tennis shoes will work as well. Some people will tell you that wearing comfy socks and tennis shoes are best because they are better to walk in. That seems so hot to me. I’d rather risk the walk and wear flip-flops. No matter what, please do not be the girl wearing stilettos to Jazz Fest. If I’m not wearing heels, it’s not a heel-worthy event! The majority of the walking paths are dirt and grass, and heels are not necessary—nor are they cute out there. No one will be impressed! And do not go barefoot. You are at the racetrack—where horses race. Consider what you are walking in – yuck!
  4. Essentials – Sunglasses, hats—anything to help block the sun.
  5. Rain plan – In the event that it is raining OR has rained causing the “Jazz Fest mud pit” rain boots are 100% necessary. If you choose to wear something like flip-flops, they will more than likely be lost in the mud and you will spend the rest of the day bare foot.

What to drink at Jazz Fest:

This is very simple. Stay hydrated! Beer booths are all over the fairgrounds. So if you are a beer drinker, you’re in luck. You may bring in your own sealed bottle of water, but no other outside drinks are allowed. Aside from beer, booths are scattered throughout the fair grounds selling daiquiris, margaritas, wine, water, lemonade, tea, and soft drinks.

What to bring to Jazz Fest:

There are many restricted items on the list for Jazz Fest. Here’s what you can bring in:

  1. A small bag or backpack – The size is 17x12x10. If you bring in a bag, consider bringing the following:
    1. A koozie
    2. Antibacterial hand soap
    3. A roll of toilet paper
    4. SUNBLOCK
  2. A small ice chest – This must be a soft ice chest, and it cannot be bigger than a 12 pack size cooler. Inside you can only have sealed water and ice. No other drinks are allowed from the outside.
  3. A chair – You can only bring in a single, standard collapsible chair.
  4. Blankets or ground tarps – If you are securing a spot for yourself or a group, you will want to bring in a blanket or ground tarp. The size cannot be larger than 6×8. I would also recommend picking a color or pattern that stands out. Finding your spot once you leave it is sometimes difficult!

Who to take to Jazz Fest:

Aside from wearing the proper clothing, choosing the right people to spend the day with is the most important thing. Most people would not think this is a big deal, but I feel like this can either make your day or break your day. Having a large group is always the most fun. But you have to make sure that you do not accidently allow a “Debbie Downer” into the krewe.

You do not want to be with the friend that hates crowds, hates the heat, constantly complains, doesn’t want to sit in grass, can’t use a port-o-let, or generally can not sit still and just enjoy the music, the day, and the food. Based on these things, I would have never invited myself to Jazz Fest! You also do not want to be with a category five clinger.

You do want to be with people that can be on their own while you are grabbing a beer or food. Bring people who are fun, relaxed, down for whatever, and have a similar plan for the day that you do—or people who do not have a plan at all. That’s even better.

No matter who you go with, what you wear, what you bring or drink, have fun! That is most important. And just pay attention to these last tips, and you’ll be fine:

  1. The only opportunity to potty is a port o let, so please be aware of that.
  2. Feel free to stake out a spot and leave your blankets and chairs to go check out some other stages. For the most part, people are respectful of other peoples’ set ups.
  3. Take a nap, get up and dance, eat a little of everything – feel free to feel free for the day. Don’t worry about the time or anything else!
  4. Cell phones do not typically work very well once you get out to the fair grounds. So make a plan with your friends before you get out there, just in case you have to meet up, and your phone isn’t working.
  5. Come out with a good attitude. No fighting and no complaining. Make friends with the groups around you. Everyone is there to have fun and enjoy the music. So enjoy it!

Experience Mardi Gras for the first time, like it’s not your first Mardi Gras

mardi gras blogThis past Saturday’s parades were the official “kick off” of the 2015 Mardi Gras season and this upcoming weekend begins the Mardi Gras main stretch of parades, parties, crawfish, crowds, cocktailing, friends, family and all things Mardi Gras madness! As locals, we know Mardi Gras means all of the above and much more; but, what about the visitors of our fine city during this time?

Up until recently, most of the guests traveling to New Orleans for the first time only had the media and MTV’s Real World to dictate the New Orleans traditions, expectations and etiquette! Now, thanks to Turbo Tax, non-New Orleanians are given a glimpse of what it’s really like (insert sarcastic tone here.) We all know that floats come right down Bourbon Street and we’re free to just jump on at any time with our drunk selves!

Since the locals know that this – nor the seven sheltered strangers from farmland picked to live in a New Orleans mansion – are not true representations of what this city is about, I thought I would re-blog about Mardi Gras and the dos and don’ts. My hope is that the tourists coming in just for the Mardi Gras festivities – and even the new college students experiencing the best of the city for the first time – will understand that there’s so much more to us than what’s in the media. And, the best way to get the most out of the Big Easy is to treat it like your own; learn to be a local!

When it comes to what New Orleans is known for, Mardi Gras is certainly at the top of the list; well, Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. And, if you use the television as your reference, the two go hand-in- hand; along with a lot of alcohol, nudity, and the occasional spicy food. Every local knows that the biggest misconception regarding Mardi Gras and Bourbon street thought of synonymously is that Mardi Gras actually does not happen on Bourbon Street. It is true that many people party there after the parades; however, most of the people on Bourbon are tourists because the locals are on the balconies above! Regardless, the reality is that New Orleans has a lot to offer off of Bourbon Street, and Mardi Gras has everything to offer nowhere near it.

I’d like to squash a few other stereotypes and place some local rules to the Mardi Gras season so that when you visit, it is not completely obvious that you are a tourist.

  1. DO NOT flash, especially for beads – this is definitely something that someone from out of town started and everyone who ever visited followed suit – locals do not do this.
  2. Do not show up five minutes before a parade and stand in front of the crowds of people who slept on the route the night before in order to reserve their spot – you will get your ass kicked and if you don’t, you should. Save your own spot or stand in the back.
  3. Do not throw beads at the floats as they pass. The idea is for the riders to throw to us and because of that they are not expecting to have something throw at them. You will not look cool or funny, but you will look like an idiot who does not get out much.
  4. Do not follow the float down the street, unless you know someone riding on that float. There will be another float right behind the one that just passed. Wait patiently and get out of the street.
  5. Do not fight a child for a pair of beads; actually, do not fight anyone. Beads cost nickels and dimes – essentially worth nothing. Although fun to have, catching beads is not a life-or-death situation; there’s plenty for everyone.
  6. If the person standing next to you at a parade is calling out the name of someone on a float, help them to get the person’s attention. And if they are struggling to catch everything that person is throwing to them, help them out and give them the “goods.” In most cases, the person will reward you with something from their throws, but either way, at least you were a good person and helped them out!
  7. Pace yourself with the drinking. The weekend leading up to Mardi Gras day/day of, most are out on the route for hours before the parade even starts. In order to make it through the whole day (and the whole season) – pace yourself. Do drink water and eat when you can!
  8. Do not wear flip flops if you are planning to go to Bourbon Street (this is just a rule no matter when you are here).

Now, for your survival kit – pack a backpack and include the following:

  1. A roll of toilet paper – bathrooms on the parade routes are hard to find, so be prepared;
  2. Antibacterial hand sanitizer or wet wipes
  3. Crackers, a sandwich or some kind of snack if you are not packing a full lunch;
  4. A koozie in case you switch to beer;
  5. A few plastic cups in case you or a friend need to make a drink on the route;
  6. A bottle or two of water – stay hydrated;
  7. A sweatshirt – you never know what the weather will be like, but 9 times out of 10, Mardi Gras weather is warm during the day and cooler as the sun goes down; be prepared;
  8. Extra of whatever alcohol or beer you are drinking. Tip: if you do not want to drag a cooler around all day, wrap your beer cans in foil and then put it in a ziploc bag with some ice. This will keep your beer cold and allow you to put them right into your backpack, rather than having to hassle with an ice chest. Shout out to my father who did this every year for Bacchus Bash! Also, to conserve space, put your alcohol in empty water bottles.

No matter what, when you come to New Orleans, you will have a blast. And, if you stick with some of the local traditions and etiquette, it will be even better! The Saturday prior to Mardi Gras, go to Orleans Avenue and spend the day people watching and cooking out before Endymion. On the Sunday prior, watch Thoth on Magazine Street and then walk up to St. Charles Avenue to catch Bacchus. If live music is your thing, go hear some of the best cover bands New Orleans has to offer at Generations Hall in the Warehouse District before watching Bacchus, which rolls right down the street. Head to Spanish Plaza on Lundi Gras for an outdoor concert and to see Rex arrive, and enjoy a huge crowd of locals and the beautiful city setting. Even in Metairie (right outside of the city), parades are rolling every night; so, if a family atmosphere and smaller crowds are more your speed, then that’s the place for you.

Take advantage of everything New Orleans and Mardi Gras has to offer and then you can head to Bourbon Street!

Mr. Bingle!

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Coming up on the heels of Christmas, all I’ve been hearing about are presents, presents, presents. I have a lot of friends with children, so I’m hearing about everything from American Girl Dolls to brand new cars (you know, the necessary things that children of all ages need to survive.) With all the talk of material things, I’ve been thinking about what Christmas is all about. I’m sure I’m supposed to say it is about Jesus and it certainly is, but what I think about most during this special time of year is family. And Mr. Bingle!

Mr. Bingle is a snowman that came to life thanks to the vision a window decorator employed by Maison Blanche department store (which was originally located on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans.) Since 1948, the miniature snowman’s popularity grew to reach more than just New Orleans, but eventually, the Maison Blanche chain closed leaving Mr. Bingle out of sight for a short period of time. The heavens blessed us when Dillard’s took over the familiar New Orleans icon and he now resides specifically with us, right where he belongs. Each year, Mr. Bingle’s presence on the side of the department store building was always a clear sign that Christmas was on its way, but in my house, Mr. Bingle was a clear sign that my Grandmother was around.

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother was employed by Maison Blanche so Mr. Bingle was a huge part of our childhood with her. We always had a Mr. Bingle stuffed animal in all of our houses at Christmas and we always read the story of Mr. Bingle (which is written below!) Since my grandmother’s passing 12 years ago (wow, that’s a long time,) you can find some kind of Mr. Bingle paraphernalia in each of her 8 grand children’s homes. As a matter of fact, I have a stuffed Mr. Bingle that stays out all year round; I even dress him up for Halloween!

The point of this is that the smallest things can take you back to a place and time when life was simpler and we could just worry about presents, presents, present like my niece and nephew will this year. But what this holiday is really all about is family and the memories we’ve made each holiday we get to spend with each other. This Christmas, grab a Mr. Bingle, read your children the story of the famous snowman, have yourself some beignets and make some memories. My favorite memories included this warm, lovable New Orleans favorite and I remember Mr. Bingle’s jingle way more than I remember what my grandmother gave me as a gift each year!

When Santa left his shop one day
He found a snowman near his sleigh.
“You’ll be my helper now,” he said,
And tapped the little fellow’s head.

The snowman found that he could talk–
“Look, Santa, I can even walk!”
And then he gave a little sigh…
“Oh, how I wish that I could fly!”

So, Santa gave him holly wings,
Then, looking through his Christmas things,
Found ornaments the very size
To make a pair of shining eyes.

Then Santa said, “You need a hat;
An ice cream cone’s just right for that.
And keep this candy cane with you,
You’ll see what magic it can do!”

The snowman laughed and sang a jingle,
So Santa named him “Mr. Bingle.”
That’s how it happened. Now he’s here
With us at Maison Blanche all year.

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Being a wedding vendor 101 – How to dress

     It is my personal belief that if you are marketing yourself as a professional, then you should know how to conduct yourself as a professional. One of the main parts of being professional is presentation and like it or not, that does include your dress attire and overall appearance. I do have a few pet peeves and (aside from vendors that drink at the weddings, but that is for another topic) one of the biggest for me is seeing vendors dressed inappropriately at weddings. This is not something that I run into very often, but when I do, I always think it cannot get any worse. But it always does.

     I worked a wedding a few months ago with a photographer/ videographer (hired by the bride against my recommendation) wearing old khaki shorts and a polo shirt with tennis shoes to shoot a wedding in the St. Louis Cathedral. If this isn’t shocking to you, please turn your misalette to the section that specifies wearing shorts in a Catholic church is completely disrespectful! Regardless of whether or not you are in a church, you are still at someone’s wedding. A day that they spent a lot of money on, including your fee, and you could not give them better than cut-off kakis and a polo shirt? You’re not a pool boy at the local country club. You are a “professional” wedding photographer/ videographer for goodness sake.

     As if that were not bad enough, just a month ago, I had a bride tell me that she wanted to bring in a photographer from out of town to shoot her wedding. It was someone that she knew from high school that is now a “professional” photographer (and after meeting her, I use that term loosely.) I had checked out her website and got clearance from the venue so we were good to go. On the day of the wedding, however, not only did she show up late (which is not the point of this) but she also showed up wearing black Nike umbro running shorts, a black tank top and white tennis shoes with reflectors on them. Why do I mention the reflectors, because that’s what showed up in every picture that the guests or other vendors tried to take when she was in the frame. That’s one way to prevent guests from being able to shoot while you are trying to do your job.

     I realize this school of thought, dictating appropriate dress codes, may sound “old school” to some of you. I’d be willing to bet that those of you who think this is “old school” are those of you who are just starting out in this business (just like these vendors) that thought shooting weddings would be easy money because you get to go to a party every weekend. If this stereotype does not apply to you, please accept my apology. However, I am pretty sure the “good ole boys” who have been in this business since film was the primary way to shoot a wedding, won’t find it offensive that I think it is unprofessional to wear shorts on any job, much less in a church.

      I do have to say that the only times I’ve ever seen this as an issue, the vendors have all been from out of town, even if that means Baton Rouge, and they have all been new to the business. Again, if you are a newer vendor from out of town and this does not apply to you, congratulate yourself and keep up the good work. If this does apply to you, please know your market and know what is acceptable and not acceptable in each situation. What might be appropriate for a casual, picnic wedding at a country farm may not be appropriate for a Black Tie wedding in New Orleans.

I do realize that a lot of this can be subject to each person’s opinion. I also understand that some people may feel it is shallow to judge someone for the way they dress, but I believe that is something lazy people crutch onto so that they do not have to brush their hair in the morning. When brides ask me to keep anyone out of their reception wearing jeans, or dressed outside of the dress code, they listed on the invitation, what am I supposed to do when the photographer shows up wearing something barely suitable for a picnic in the park? In this situation, you might have the best product out there, but if you want a job where you can dress down every day, then perhaps you should be a landscape photographer.

Do not get me wrong, no one says you have to show up wearing 6 inch stiletto heels like I do – I admit, it’s a bit aggressive. But again, create a uniform that consists of simple black pants and maybe a black dress shirt, or something of that nature. Black rubber-soled shoes, ballet slippers, boots… all of these things are acceptable. Here are some things that are not:

1. Shorts of any kind                                                                                                               2. Flip flops (in most cases) – but at the end of the night, if they are given out as a favor from the bride, join in the fun!                                                                                                   3. Tank tops – even when worn with a skirt. Sleeveless shirts are very different than tank tops… learn the difference.                                                                                                    4. Jeans                                                                                                                                  5. A baseball cap

Please understand that what you wear to a meeting and how you present yourself upon an interview with these brides and grooms is totally different and completely up to you to be relaxed and “easy going.” But when you walk into a wedding, you should know that these girls ask their guests to uphold a certain dress code. It’s the least we can do as vendors to blend in and not be so pompous to believe we are above the wishes of our clients. No one says you have to wear a tuxedo just because the invitation says black tie, but learn how to blend in and have some respect for the clients you work for and the events you are capturing. After all, we are walking into a day that has been in the mind of most of these brides since they were young girls. What we wear should not be what they remember most from their wedding day, unless it is a fabulous pair of Manolos!

 

Welcome to the Proper Planner (new and improved edition)

Welcome to The Proper Planner – A Wedding Planner’s Perspective!

My name is Kelly Sherlock and I am a wedding and event planner in New Orleans.  I started my business in 2007 and have been growing and learning every day since.  This is an industry that relies on change and the “next best thing” in order to keep each event fresh and better than the last wedding each guest attended.  While the wedding world is ever changing, there is also a certain semblance of tradition or an “outline” in which to follow.  It is my job to help each bride and groom decide where the lines are drawn and where the lines are blurred.  It is also my job to stay up to date with the fads, learn the new trends and stay abreast of what is coming next.  Most importantly, it is important for me to know and be able to explain the traditions of our past and how to update them in a way that works for each bride’s individual situation and circumstance.  Where would one find the answers for such traditions of the past with an updated twist?  Now you see where this blog originated!

A year or so into the business, as I worked with more diverse clients with different backgrounds, budgets and beliefs, I realized that the only advice out there for brides or hosts of any party was coming from outdated versions of etiquette that pertained to life 100 years ago.  Everywhere I looked I saw the same books with the same tired thoughts of how weddings “should” work, how an invitation “should” be written and who “should” pay for what.  The problem is, the etiquette of our grandmothers’ came to life before bride’s were dealing with divorced parents, paying for their own weddings and blurred lines between men and women.  Today, things are not so black and white and it was my mission to create something more useful for today’s bride and something to cover even more than just the grey areas.

Since creating the original “Proper Planner” on blogspot four years ago, I’ve grown and learned and realized that we are in the midst of a wedding frenzy that no other generation has experienced before.  I’ve seen that the years of “reality” tv and Pinterest and everything else wedding-related has created the same problem that all social media creates; a monster and an unrealistic idea of the process, the vendors and the wedding itself.  So I’d like to use social media to turn the tables and show you what really happens behind the scenes, what really works and how professional vendors excel in a world where digital cameras make everyone a photographer, Pinterest makes everyone a designer, and a flip cam paired with IMOVIE makes everyone a videographer.

Also, my experiences of planning specifically in New Orleans, a city consistently listed as a top destination for weddings in the country, has also shown me that there’s so much more to the wedding than even just the details themselves.  Here, it’s about the entire experience starting when the guests step off the plane and it’s about the entire weekend for the clients, the guests and the vendors. Everything is about so much more than just a finer details.

So I’ve decided to turn my original “sounding board” into an entire site dedicated to weddings, social standards, new trends and of course, all things New Orleans. This blog will serve as an updated version of etiquette – a discussion of new traditions that have come along as well as old traditions that are still with us (all according to my experiences).  This will also be an outlet for situations that occur throughout my day-to-day planning with my brides, vendors, venues, and my city!  Last, but not least, this will be a site for beautiful weddings, all things fabulous, and what’s trending according to my clients, my vendors, myself and anyone else who chooses to write in and share!