Lexi + Austin

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As a wedding and event planner, I live by the age-old phrase, “Hope for the best and plan for the worst.” I make each client come up with a Plan B in case of unforeseen weather or any other issues that may arise – not because I want to stress them out, but because sometimes things really do happen that are beyond our control, and it’s good to be prepared for anything. And when I’ve implemented Plan Bs before, we have been prepared – but nothing could have prepared us for the veritable monsoon that came through on the day of Lexi + Austin’s wedding.

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What we thought would be scattered showers ended up being a torrential downpour. Lexi and her bridesmaids watched anxiously from the bridal suite as the sky turned black and the flooding rain started, all the while knowing that somehow, some way, we were going to need to get the entire wedding party over to the chapel from the barn where they were getting ready. We kept hoping we could wait out the rain, but before we knew it it was half an hour to the ceremony and we hadn’t done any pre-ceremony photos. With the all-important first look photos in mind, we gathered the few umbrellas we had among us and the plastic that the suits had come wrapped in and we started walking the wedding party over to the chapel two-by-two.

 

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As soon as Lexi + Austin saw each other, the whole vibe of the day changed. The stress and the tears and the anxiety were gone and all they could do was smile and laugh and share the joy of their big day. As guests started to arrive, the bridesmaids held sheets up to cover Lexi from view as they snuck her out of the chapel and into the restroom to hide. Everyone was happy and ready to get the show on the road – and then, just as the chapel doors opened and the processional started, the power cut out. And it stayed out. There were no lights, no music, no nothing except nervous whispers from the guests.

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I turned to Lexi and she said, “It’s okay. Let’s just do it.” In spite of everything, she knew that the man of her dreams was waiting for her at the end of the aisle and she didn’t want to wait any longer to marry him than she already had.

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And, needless to say, the ceremony was absolutely beautiful. It was quiet and intimate and truly moving in a way I’ve never experienced. Even when the rain stopped and the power came back on and everything went back to normal, there was still so much love and joy and support for this amazing couple. Lexi + Austin are such special people and so wonderful together, and Lexi said it best when she said their day was “real, intimate, raw, and still so imperfectly perfect.” It was truly an honor to be a part of their love story.

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Special thanks to my amazing vendor team for helping me to make this such a perfect night!
Venue: Rustic Grace Estate
Photography: Melissa Shook Photography
Videography: 3 or Less Productions
Catering: Prestige Catering
Bar: HD Liquid Catering
Cake: Nothing Bundt Cakes
Flowers: Market Street

Wedding vs Venue Coordinator

A planner friend of mine recently had a great, very promising consultation with a couple for month-of planning and wedding management. Everything went great and she really hit it off with the couple, but when she followed up, they said, “Thanks so much, but we decided we don’t need a planner after all. Our venue has one!” Instead of taking the time to educate the couple right then and there about the differences between wedding and venue coordinators, my friend simply wished them well and went on her way.

“I bet I’ll hear from them again,” she told me, and about three months later, an email appeared in her inbox from the same couple asking if she still had their date free.

Here’s why: a venue coordinator and an event coordinator are not the same thing. Couples may hear the word “coordinator” from their venue and think, Perfect! One-stop shop! But it’s not that easy. If it was, independent planners would be out of their jobs! There’s been a major push lately in the wedding and event industry to educate our clients on exactly what we do, and a huge part of that is based around the venue coordinator/wedding coordinator issue.

The truth is that, if you’re not actually a part of the industry, you really wouldn’t know the difference. A coordinator is a coordinator, right? Well, not really. For couples who are trying to navigate this confusion, here are some key details that set venue and event coordinators apart:

1. The basics. The venue coordinator is there to handle – you guessed it – the venue. If you need a table moved, a fan turned on, or a door unlocked, he or she is most likely the one to go to. On the other hand, your wedding coordinator is there for you. If you need your dress bustled, your DJ cued for the grand entrance, or a quick crash course on how to cut your cake, your wedding coordinator is ready and willing to help. You wouldn’t ask a florist to make sure the bartenders know where your personalized koozies are, so why would you ask a venue coordinator to tell the photographer when you want to start photos? While the venue coordinator manages the venue, the wedding coordinator – by definition – manages the wedding as a whole.

2. Vendor connections. A venue coordinator might be able to provide a preferred vendor list, but only a wedding coordinator will schedule and attend consultations and review contracts with those vendors to help find the right ones for you.

3. Vendor outreach. A venue coordinator may be in touch with the vendors that are vital to setup – the rentals, the florist, maybe the security officer- but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the wedding coordinator will be the one to check in with each vendor during the planning process to go over details, arrival times, and responsibilities.

4. The preparation. A venue coordinator isn’t going to make your timeline or run your rehearsal. For a wedding coordinator, those are very basic package inclusions that you won’t even have to ask for.

5. The accessibility. Popular venues may have three weddings in a single weekend, so the focus on you may be fairly limited leading up to your big day. On the other hand, a wedding coordinator – even if they’re working with multiple clients – will be able to work closely with you over the course of several months so that you feel like a priority throughout the entire process rather than just the day of your booking and the day or your wedding.

6. The design. A venue coordinator will have beautiful photos to show from past weddings and great ideas for how to decorate, but he or she won’t be the one to help put your design plans into motion. That’s what your wedding coordinator is for.

7. The relationship. The venue employee you sign a contract with may not be the same one you meet with for your walkthrough or even the same one who’s there on your wedding day. It’s not at all uncommon to have two different venue coordinators there in a single day – one for the morning and to oversee setup and another for the evening to oversee the ceremony, reception, and teardown. Meanwhile, the wedding coordinator you have your consultation with will stay with you through the entire planning process and be there for you on your wedding day (and maybe model your ceremony programs for you!).

In the end, it’s clear what the differences are – and why it’s great to have both! While the venue coordinator won’t help plan your wedding, set up your decor, or coordinate your vendors, he or she will be an asset when it comes to important details like getting measurements, creating a floorplan, and managing the setup of the ceremony and reception. There are several weddings I’ve done where I’ve thanked my lucky stars for the amazing venue coordinators who helped me with venue-related issues. That said, if a potential client says they don’t need a wedding coordinator because their venue has one, I’ll jump at the chance to share this info – because, in the end, the wedding coordinator’s job is to make sure that you get exactly what you need to make your big day a success.

Photo by Unearthed Photography

Mackenzie + Steven

Mackenzie and Steven are perfect for each other. I knew that as soon as I met them. They can find a reason to smile and to laugh no matter what’s going on around them, and it was such a joy to be there to help plan the wedding of their dreams.

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Right off the bat, Mackenzie made it clear that they didn’t want anything fancy; rather, they just wanted a big, casual party where their loved ones could let loose and have fun with them. “I don’t do heels,” she told me when I asked about her dress at our first meeting. “I’d fall flat on my face.” Instead, she opted for glittery sneakers – a fun, lighthearted touch that was so thoroughly Mackenzie.

Every bit of their wedding carried that feeling of lightheartedness, from their ceremony site lemonade stand – lovingly hand-built by Mackenzie’s dad – to their glittery dessert bar (complete with an ombre wedding cake and a Super Mario groom’s cake) and their glowstick grand exit.

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Every detail of the wedding was so perfectly their style. They did what they wanted and their wedding turned out to be clearly and authentically them, which can seem so rare in this age of social media-fueled one-upping. When so many couples try to create a magazine-worthy experience, Mackenzie and Steven kept it simple; they just wanted to get married, and to share their joy with their family and friends. It was such a special night.

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I’ve never seen a couple that can make each other laugh like Mackenzie and Steven can. Throughout their planning process, they faced each and every source of stress – Mackenzie’s students’ STAAR testing and finals, an unexpected family health scare, and more – with humor and, above all, with love. I can’t think of a more sure sign that their marriage will be a long and happy one.

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Special thanks to my amazing vendor team for helping me to make this such a perfect night!
Venue: The Springs in Aubrey
Photography: 3 Birds Photography
DJ: All Access DJ
Catering: Oh Shucks Catering
Bar: Metzler’s Food and Beverage
Cake: Jenny Layne Bakery
Flowers: T&T Flowers
Officiant: Sensational Ceremonies

Lauren + Cullen

When Lauren and Cullen decided on an outdoor wedding in June, the last thing in the world they expected was rain, but since this is Texas and you can never be too sure about the weather, that’s exactly what they got! Mere days before the wedding, the sunny summer forecast suddenly turned to storms and my phone started ringing off the hook. Lauren had planned for a beautiful flower-filled altar and now we were faced with the possibility that her design might not turn out quite how she’d imagined.

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The vendor team and I played everything by ear and Lauren, ever hopeful and still dreaming of her outdoor ceremony, decided that no final decisions would be made until the morning of the wedding.

Thankfully, the reception space Lauren had designed was beautiful and would have worked great for an indoor ceremony. Everything was pink and gold and glittery and the room was light and bright in spite of the storms outside. If we had to do it inside, we thought, no one would ever know it was supposed to be any different.

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(My first foray into cake decorating.)

We practiced the processional inside and outside so that we could be prepared either way, and when we finished, it was still raining. I turned to Lauren and, practically in tears, she said, “I want it to be outside.”

“Are you willing to do it outside even if it’s raining?” I asked.

She didn’t even hesitate. “Yes.”

I turned to the wedding party and the vendors who were setting up and said, “This wedding is going to be outside!”

And you know what? Fairy tales do come true, and the second guests started to arrive, the sun came out. It wasn’t forecast. It wasn’t expected. But it happened, and it was truly moving. The ceremony, needless to say, was beautiful.

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I love the photos from the ceremony because you can feel the emotions that Lauren and Cullen felt: relief that, against all odds, the weather turned out perfect; happiness that their dreams were finally coming true; and above all else, love. The night was full of smiles and laughter and overwhelming joy, and I know that Lauren and Cullen’s marriage is going to be a long and happy one.

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Special thanks to my amazing vendor team for helping me to make this such a perfect night!
Venue: The Springs in Anna
Photography: Shakar Photography
Videography: Harmland Visions
DJ: DJ Tagman
Catering, Bar, Cake : Vizcarra Hospitality
Flowers: Edwards Floral Design
Vintage Car: Blue Diamond Limousines

Anjali + Casey

Anjali and Casey’s wedding was a first for me, but not for them: this wasn’t their first, nor second, but their THIRD wedding! They tied the knot at a small civil ceremony over a year ago and then, back in the early spring, had an enormous traditional wedding with Anjali’s family in India that lasted three days and had thousands of guests. You’d think that would be more than enough wedding for one couple, but since most of Casey’s family hadn’t been able to make the trip to India, Anjali and Casey needed help with one more wedding, and I was more than happy to oblige!

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Anjali and Casey’s biggest priority for this wedding was to make it fun and family-oriented. Because most of Casey’s family is here in Texas and most of Anjali’s is in India, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for the two families to really get to know each other. Thankfully, Anjali’s immediate family was able to make the trip to Texas too, and having both sides of the family present for the first time made this ceremony, officiated by Anjali’s cousin, just as meaningful as the past two.

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Anjali chose a beautiful ruby red for the wedding with accents of pale pink and blue, and the result was stunning. She even incorporated the pink into an AMAZING tiered cakeball cake that was a huge hit. I also loved that they incorporated tiny details, like their Star Wars cake topper, that really let their personalities shine through.

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When Anjali told me that this was their third wedding and that their second one had been as huge and elaborate as it was, my first thought was, “Oh no… How do I top that?” But she made it clear that all they wanted was a simple party to celebrate their marriage with their friends and family. Anjali kept saying, “This is our third wedding, we just want to make it easy,” but when they were announced “not for the first time, not for the second time, but for the THIRD time” as Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, their love and happiness were just as clear as if it really had been the first time.

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Special thanks to my amazing vendor team for helping me to make this such a perfect night!
Venue: The Springs in Anna
Photography: The Woods Weddings
DJ: Elevate DJ
Catering: Urban Crust
Bar: Alpha Bar Company
Cake: Cake Bites
Flowers: Edwards Floral Design

Lindsey + Will

It’s hard to even know where to start when it comes to Lindsey and Will. They’re truly the cutest couple and they were such a joy to work with from day one. The first time I met Lindsey, I left our meeting thinking, “I don’t think she stopped smiling for even a single second!” In spite of the stress of planning a wedding, she was nothing but happy and confident and excited. It was immediately clear that she knew exactly what she wanted and had every detail in place, and the result was absolutely stunning.

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When I asked Lindsey what her inspiration for her wedding was, one of the first things out of her mouth was, “Texas!” She and Will are far from country bumpkins but they love their state and they wanted it to play a major role in their decor and the overall feel of their celebration. If you looked closely, you could see little touches of Texas just about everywhere!

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And the wedding was just as beautiful as it was fun! This group loves to party and they kept all the guests laughing and dancing until the very last second. It was a chore trying to get everyone outside for the grand exit!

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It was so much fun that we even had a couple of wedding crashers!

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When I think back on Lindsey and Will’s wedding, I think of cliches like “fairytale” and “#weddinggoals.” It was such an honor to be a part of their dream team of vendors and I absolutely can’t wait to see their happily ever after.

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Special thanks to my amazing vendor team for helping me to make this such a perfect night!
Venue: Milagro Farms
Photography: Andrea Elizabeth Photography
Band/Ceremony Musicians: The Special Edition Band
Catering: The Back Door at Milagro Farms
Cakes: Whisk Until Sweet
Flowers: HEB Floral
Lighting: Discovery Decor Lighting

 

Jen + Brandon

Do you ever meet someone and think, “Wow, this is the sweetest person ever, it’s amazing that anyone could ever be this nice,” and then you really get to know them… And you realize they’re even nicer than you thought they were? That’s pretty much the perfect way to describe Jen and Brandon.

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Every single bit of their wedding was stunning. They put so much thought and care and attention into even the smallest details, and it really showed. There wasn’t so much as a petal out of place throughout the entire night.

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During our first meeting, I found out that Jen and Brandon had spent time doing missionary work in Peru. They have second families there that they love and continue to support even from half a world away, and one of the most meaningful parts of their
wedding was that, in lieu of favors, Jen and Brandon chose to donate money to their Peruvian loved ones.

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There was a table at their reception overflowing with beautiful pictures of Jen, Brandon, and their respective Peruvian families and friends, and it was so wonderful to see wedding guests learning more about the passion that Jen and Brandon share for missionary work. Their faith, generosity, and caring spirits bind them together in a marriage that is truly Godly.

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Another thing that binds them together, I realized pretty quickly, is how much they like to party!!! Jen and Brandon’s reception was a blast, from the highly anticipated grand entrance to the nonstop dancing to the sparkler-lit midnight getaway and everything inbetween. I mean, they had late-night chocolate chip cookies and milk shooters – the sure sign of a fun couple!

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My biggest takeaway from Jen and Brandon’s wedding was how much love there was – not just between them, but from their friends and families. Jen and Brandon are the kind of people who really impact the lives of those around them, and that couldn’t have been more clear as their loved ones helped to celebrate their marriage.

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Special thanks to my amazing vendor team for helping me to make this such a perfect night!
Ceremony Venue: Saint Ann’s Catholic Parish
Reception Venue: The Empire Room
Photography: Unearthed Photography
DJ: Colby Logan
Catering: Gil’s Elegant Catering
Cakes: Whisk Until Sweet
Flowers: Petals Couture