Memorializing That Whirlwind of a Wedding

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
The Wedding – Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

 

Memorializing that whirlwind of a wedding is critical, especially when you’re the bookworm acting as wedding planner. Since relying on iPhone photos and videos from attendees was not an option, I had to find just the right photographer and videographer; a task much harder than I ever imagined.

First Stop
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
Our Lady of the Mountains

My first stop in my wedding planning process was securing the church and meeting its wedding planner. Since her grandson had just gotten married a few months earlier in Estes Park, I asked her about the photographer they used. She pressed her lips together and shook her head “no.” She could not recommend someone who wasn’t any good (nor did I want such a person). Videographer? No.

Preferred Vendors List
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO, wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

I then turned to my trusty (?) Preferred Vendors List. There were quite a few photographers and videographers on that list, some companies handled both. After I emailed them all and requested a quote, I had to blink twice as I read the quotes coming in (none of them included printing). Amazingly, with the exception of one, they were all $2,000. My first thought was a wedding monopoly. By the way, the one different quote was $6,000. Yup, that’s not a typo, $6,000. With my science background and logical legal mind :0) I performed an experiment. My original quotes went out under my married name, however, I write under my maiden name, Karen Van Den Heuvel. A new and revised request for quotes went out under my writer’s name — a quote for a 4 hour family reunion involving 50 people in Estes Park. Alas, the quotes were half the price.

A Monopoly

My son had gone to school with someone who was now a professional photographer so he asked her for a quote — $2,000. He asked if she could give him a discount due to their long friendship. She could not, because of a contract she entered into with a third party — all her bookings go through them at their required pricing, as all of these photographers did. Aha! Sounds like a monopoly to me!

The Perfect Professionals
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
J.C. & Jane

My goal was to find an excellent photographer and videographer not bound by a third party contract for pricing. That’s where Jane came in. Jane is my son’s beautiful girlfriend who went to school with a photographer using her talents and running her business while she worked on her degree. I checked out her website and FaceBook, and was thoroughly impressed with Laura Grace Photography. Her photographs were beautiful (as you can see through my posts) and I’d put her up against any of the other “professionals” I encountered to date. Her rates were very reasonable and I met her for lunch to discuss the process, wedding, expectations, etc. She was an absolute delight and she found me a videographer — a university student working on his degree in videography — Jackson Dorfman. Once I checked out his work and found it exceptional — as good if not better than most of the other videographers, I asked for a quote. His rates were also very reasonable and I was set.

These two professionals arrived early, blended in, and captured beautiful memories. I can’t recommend them highly enough! If you are looking for an excellent professional photographer and videographer, here is their contact information:

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
Laura Grace Petersen
Laura Grace Photography

Laura Grace Photography: lauragracephoto.com, 970-227-0025, lauragrace.151@gmail.com

 

 

 

Jackson Dorfman: Jackson.dorfman@colorado.edu  970-306-2775

Jack provided not only the full video, but a second with highlights as well. You had a glimpse of the head table decor in Jack’s short trailer, but you won’t believe the story behind it! Stay tuned next week… .

The Wedding Planner — The D.J. Is Key to a Great Wedding

wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The Happy Couple                                               Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

 

The D.J. is key to a great wedding — no doubt! But how do you find that great D.J.? After I unsuccessfully contacted the D.J.’s on the Preferred Vendors List, I did what most people do; I asked  my friends and family for recommendations. However, with the wedding date, that was fruitless, especially for the D.J. — they were either out of business or unavailable at that time.

The Search
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The D.J. Is Key to a Great Wedding

One unavailable D.J. suggested that I check Thumbtack . Although I had never heard of it, I wasted no time, after all, the wedding was fast approaching and I knew an iPhone playing music would not be very helpful. According to their profile, “Thumbtack is an online service that matches customers with local professionals.” With my date and required professional entered, I received messages from a number of local D.J.’s with a wide range of pricing and experience.

wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
Gary Liebowitz with Sound Junction

I like to listen to my “gut,” and out of the list, only one stood out to me above the rest — he was experienced and I liked his work. He was from Monument and the wedding was in Estes Park, more than 2 hours away. I sent him a message and asked if Estes Park was too far and received an immediate response — definitely not, he handled the entire Front Range and did not charge for travel.

The Right D.J.
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
Dancing to the Music                                             Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

My “gut” does not disappoint and neither did Gary Liebowitz from Sound Junction, LLC. He was absolutely phenomenal! Although I had the opportunity to provide him with a selection of songs, I was so frazzled and clueless that I  only gave him 3 songs for 3 dances: the bride and groom’s, father/daughter, and mother/son. With an age range of attendees from 20 to 85, I asked that he handle everything and he did. I can’t recommend him highly enough!

wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The Dance Train                                                  Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

Gary:

  • Called prior to the wedding to offer help and assurances,
  • Arrived early,
  • Called when he arrived and started set up,
  • Handled my request to take care of all the music with a smile,
  • Acted professionally,
  • Dressed professionally,
  • Had a positive and upbeat attitude,
  • Was an outstanding MC,
  • Kept the party moving and lively,
  • Had reasonable rates and offered a military discount (he is retired Air Force), and
  • Went the extra mile above and beyond.
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The Wedding Train                                                  Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography
Contact
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
Gary Liebowitz with Sound Junction

If you are interested in an exceptional, professional D.J. who is more than willing to go the extra mile with reasonable rates, I recommend Gary Liebowitz with Sound Junction:

Phone: 719-351-8301
Email: gary@soundjunctiondj.com
Website: www.soundjunctiondj.com

Two months after the wedding, a number of people shared their nightmare experiences with the wrong D.J. Needless to say, I am very thankful my story is not one of them. I had the best!

What are your experiences?

Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists – OH MY!

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors
Pink Roses

Wedding planners and vendors lists create a fertile ground for weeds and more weeds… . What about that garden of beautiful flowers? The last article looked at whether the date made a difference, and the answer was a resounding YES. I felt good about securing the church and the Music Room at the Stanley, and thought the rest would be smooth sailing — NOT. Because of the date, the church and reception locations were available, but because of the date, the rest would not be as smooth.

Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists

Unbeknownst to me, most places have their own wedding planners and vendor lists that work with the bride or her wedding planner (in this case, moi). Easy peasy, right? Ahhhh, not necessarily so. Being a wedding planner for a church or popular reception location is not an easy job (I’m sure some of you either have personal experience with a bridezilla or seen popular bridezilla movies). As such, the wedding planner you start with may not be the wedding planner you end up with and lots can happen in the interim.

For the Church
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors
Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists — The Church

In our case, the wedding planner for the church left half way through the planning. Fortunately, what we agreed to I had memorialized in writing, but there were a number of things she needed approval for and thought she could get because of her experience, and then she was gone… . I was left with a delightful person who knew absolutely nothing about weddings and all those other items that the experienced planner was sure she could get (like lighting up the white lights on the Christmas tree in the church), was not available.

For the Reception
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors
Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists

For the Stanley, I was quite happy with the wedding planner assigned to me, but then a few months before the wedding she contacted me to let me know that she was taking a new job in Hawaii as an event planner. My thoughts … here I go again. Fortunately, they assigned me another great wedding planner, but there were still gaps that needed to be filled since she not only jumped in toward the end with me, but she was assigned at least half of the former planner’s weddings.

Then There’s that Preferred Vendor List:
  • Photographers
  • Videographers
  • D.J.’s
  • Bakers
  • Florists
  • Salons
  • Piano Players
  • Etc.

Go through it carefully, as I did, since it may or may not be updated. On the list I received, most were in business, but some were not. What I realized was that if you use the word “wedding” in any request for quotes for a wedding, you received a quote that was significantly higher than what you would otherwise receive. More on that in the next article … .

What have you found with Preferred Vendor Lists?

The Wedding Planner – The Date

For the wedding planner, does the date really make a difference? The answer is a resounding YES! It makes a difference as to availability (especially if you are not starting one year in advance), cost, and accessibility among other things. In my case, because of my daughter’s schedule, she could not be flexible on the date, hence a Christmas time wedding.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

In an earlier article, I mentioned that the setting for my novel, Hidden Bloodlines, was inspired by the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Not only did my husband and I enjoy the hotel, but my daughter celebrated her 18th birthday there. She loved Estes Park and the Stanley and asked that her wedding take place at a beautiful mountain church with the reception at the Stanley.

Availability

A wedding the Saturday before Christmas has quite a few drawbacks, but it also has its advantages. With respect to availability, there are two sides — the availability of the choice locations and the availability of the attendees.

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado
The Wedding Planner — The Date
Photograph by Laura Grace Photography

A wedding Christmas weekend is not common, therefore, the church and Music Room at the Stanley were available. On the other hand, since it was Christmas time, not everyone invited could come. For some, that could be considered an advantage (one less person to cover), however, we missed those unable to attend.

Cost

Estes Park, Colorado is a summer resort. If it were a ski resort, it would be a winter wonderland, but it’s not — there is no skiing permitted despite the magnificent mountains. Therefore, a Christmas wedding is off-season, with off-season rates – a definite advantage. Moreover, it was Advent and we were not permitted to decorate the church. That was a large unanticipated savings. The church was so beautiful in its own right, no one even noticed it was not decorated for a wedding and I saved quite a bit of money on flowers.

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado
Rehearsal at Our Lady of the Mountains

The icing on the cake was that the Music Room was already decorated for Christmas, therefore, my only concern were the table tops and head table decorations (more on that later).

Accessibility

You never know what the weather brings at Christmas time in Colorado, especially in the mountains. It could be 70 degrees or subzero, and you can’t rely on the weather professionals (it’s the only career where you can be wrong on a regular basis and still keep your job). Fortunately the church and hotel for the reception were a mere half mile apart on the main road into Estes Park. In the event of bad weather, at least that route would be open. And, we definitely had very bad weather even though the snow was beautiful.

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado
A Traditional Wedding with Family Fun

The church and the Stanley were available Christmas weekend. We had the opportunity to pay off-season rates, and despite the snow, everything was accessible. It was a beautiful wedding with a phenomenal family reunion. Because of the distance traveled, the good times moved from the Stanley to my home. A truly traditional family wedding of fun, laughter, and good times.

Cost Saving Tip: If the bride, groom, or parent putting on the wedding is military or a veteran, always ask if there’s a military discount. You’d be surprised at the potential cost savings.

Do you have any cost saving tips to share?

The Wedding Planner — When Books Don’t Work for the Book Worm

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library
Loveland Public Library
Author Showcase

In the first article of this series, When the Book Worm Is the Wedding Planner, we established that I am first and foremost a book worm, whether it be reading or writing books. It’s reasonable for the book worm to go to her local library, peruse the wide assortment of books, and select two of the most comprehensive books as a guide toward a successful wedding. Right? That’s just what I did, but as I was reminded, never assume anything. A noted law school professor wrote the word “ASSUME” on the board the first day of class and then added hyphens after the second “s” and the “u” and said, “That’s what assuming does.” And, that’s just what it did. Hence the title, “The Wedding Planner — When Books Don’t Work for the Book Worm.”

Why Didn’t the Books Work?

If I suffered from panic attacks (which thankfully I do not), I would have had a big one. Yes, these books were thick, detailed, and quite comprehensive, but that was just part of the problem. The other part was that according to the books, I was too late…

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, too late
The Wedding Planner — When Books Don’t Work for the Book Worm
Too late to book
  • the church
  • the ideal setting for the reception
  • the DJ
  • the photographer
  • the videographer

And, too late to

  • have formal wedding invitations printed.

Whew. What a downer that was. Next, I returned the books, but not before I made my checklist.

A Critical Tool

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, libraryThe books did prove helpful to give me an idea of what I was up against. As a business lawyer, checklists are my strength. Checklists are critical to make sure deadlines are met and nothing falls through the cracks. Since I already missed the boat for their timeline, I had to create my own and pray it would all come together.

Additionally, most of these books assumed (there’s that word again) an unlimited or large wedding budget. Since our focus was always education, I got creative in finding ways to get the best out of our limited wedding budget.

What’s your preferred organizational tool?