Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wedding Insurance 101

Due to the state of our current economy, I've gotten quite a few questions from brides & grooms lately regarding wedding insurance. I personally think that wedding insurance is a wise decision for many reasons. The article below is written by a personal finance journalist for USA Today, and offers a very detailed explanation of wedding insurance.

4/30/2007 - Your Money :: Wedding Insurance, By Sandra Block, USA Today

If your idea of the perfect wedding venue is a drive-through chapel in Vegas, this column is not for you. If, however, the wedding of your dreams involves a June ceremony with a dozen attendants, a sit-down dinner for 400 guests and an open bar, perhaps you should consider wedding insurance.

Wedding insurance will cover your losses if bad weather, airport delays, a military call-up or a sudden illness prevents you or your intended from getting to the church on time. If your caterer is shut down by the local health department, most insurance policies will cover the extra cost of finding a last-minute vendor to feed your guests.

Travelers Insurance added wedding insurance to its product line in February. Fireman's Fund Insurance plans to announce this week that it will expand its existing policy for weddings and other special events. WedSafe, a unit of Aon, also offers a wedding insurance policy.

The growth of these policies reflects the rising cost of weddings. The average amount spent on a wedding in 2006 was $27,852, according to the Condé Nast Bridal Group. Nearly a third of couples pay the entire cost of their wedding, and 36% end up spending more than they had planned, according to Condé Nast. Premiums range from $95 to more than $1,000, depending on the size of your wedding and the level of coverage you buy. Some costs that wedding insurance will cover:

Liability. Liability coverage will protect you from lawsuits if an exuberant guest slips and falls in the conga line. Some reception venues include liability in the rental cost, but many of them require you to have your own coverage, says Rob Nuccio, CEO of RV Nuccio & Associates, program administrator for the Fireman's Fund policy.

Sudden death or illness. If the groom has an appendicitis attack the day before the wedding, wedding insurance will cover the cost of non-refundable deposits. Likewise, insurance will cover your expenses if a parent's death or illness forces you to postpone the wedding.

Lost or damaged formalwear. If the bridal store files for bankruptcy before you pick up your Vera Wang gown, wedding insurance will cover the cost of a new dress. Alan Tuvin, vice president of product management for Travelers, says lost or damaged wedding dresses are the most common types of claims Travelers has received since it started offering wedding insurance.

Photography mishaps. Your wedding photos are supposed to provide a lifetime of memories, but what if they're all out of focus? Or the photographer simply disappears? Wedding insurance policies will cover the cost of reassembling your wedding party and retaking the photos or videos.

Stolen or damaged wedding gifts.

There are also some things wedding insurance won't cover, including:

Change of heart.
Traditionally, wedding insurance has excluded deposits forfeited because of runaway brides or reluctant grooms. Wedding insurance is intended to cover events that are out of your control, such as a hurricane that makes your wedding site inaccessible, Tuvin says. "You have control over change of heart," he says. Insurance companies say the exclusion is also necessary to prevent fraud.

Fireman's Fund, however, plans to announce this week that it will provide "change of heart" coverage under certain circumstances. To qualify, Nuccio says, a policyholder would have to show that he or she was an innocent party.

For example, if the father of the bride finances the wedding and the groom gets cold feet, the policy would cover the father's losses, Nuccio says.

Existing medical conditions. If your mother has a chronic health condition that worsens before the wedding, your policy probably won't cover the costs of postponing the event. "If somebody has a heart attack, and it's their first one, that's covered," Tuvin says." If it's a pre-existing condition, that's excluded."

Limiting losses

Even if you don't buy wedding insurance, there are other ways to protect your investment. The Better Business Bureau offers these recommendations:

Research vendors thoroughly. Get references from relatives and friends and obtain a reliability report on prospective vendors from the BBB.

Keep your deposit as small as possible. Because most deposits are non-refundable, limiting the size of your deposit will protect you from a large loss if you cancel or reschedule your wedding.

Use a credit card for as many expenses as possible. That way, you can dispute charges for unsatisfactory service. When you pay with a check, getting your money back is much harder, says Paula Fleming, spokeswoman for the BBB. Save your receipts so you'll have documentation to support your case.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Things to Do in Pittsburgh

Need some fun activities for your out-of-town wedding guests?! Here is our list of the top 15 things to do while in Pittsburgh:

Andy Warhol Museum
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Science Center
Ducky Tour
Duquesne Incline
Gateway Clipper
Heinz History Center & Sports Museum
Mount Washington
Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
The Rivers Casino
Station Square
Strip District

In addition to these tourist attractions, your guests will definitely want to stop in and have lunch at Primanti Brothers, or perhaps take in a football, hockey, or baseball game.

What do you think of our list? Did we miss anything?! We want to hear from you with your suggestions!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 Bride's Choice Awards

It's already been an amazing start to 2010, and yesterday, I was delighted to find out that Simply Perfect Weddings was chosen as a recipient of the 2010 Bride's Choice Awards! Below is the official press release.

Wedding Wire Press Release

Pittsburgh, PA - 1.21.10 - WeddingWire, the nation’s leading wedding technology company, just announced Simply Perfect Weddings has been selected to receive the WeddingWire 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™ for Wedding Planning and Coordination!

The annual Bride’s Choice Awards recognizes and celebrates excellence in quality and service within the wedding industry, as determined by recent reviews and extensive surveys from over 500,000 newlyweds.

Simply Perfect Weddings is among the top five percent of all vendors in the WeddingWire community, which includes over 100,000 wedding professionals across the US and Canada. Awards were given to winners across 19 different service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers.

“We are excited to recognize and honor the success of the top wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community” said Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s Chief Executive Officer. “The annual Bride’s Choice Awards program has given us the unique opportunity to highlight the best wedding professionals in each region as reviewed by brides and grooms who have utilized their services in the past year.”

We are happy to announce that Simply Perfect Weddings is among the very best of wedding planners within the WeddingWire Network, which includes WeddingWire and Martha Stewart Weddings. We would like to thank our past newlyweds for nominating us for the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards!

For more information, check out our WeddingWire Storefront.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Personalized Self-Inking Stampers

Aren't these personalized stamps just the cutest thing?! I've been searching for a personalized stamper for Simply Perfect Weddings, and came across these on Ashley Baber's blog this afternoon {thanks, Ashley!}. These personalized self-inking stampers are available from Cambria Cove. I love how many great fonts there are to choose from! Stampers are a great tool for brides when addressing thank you notes, pre or post-wedding celebration invitations, save-the-dates, or even just everyday life!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Dream Wedding Design :: A Southern Garden Affair

Several weeks ago I introduced The Wedding Shoebox to you, a blog dedicated to showcasing what the wedding pro's would do for their own wedding. Last week my dream wedding design, "Southern Garden" was featured on their blog! Valerie Metrejean {mastermind behind The Wedding Shoebox} did a fantastic job putting my inspiration board together! Those of you who know me, know that I am happily married to my husband of nearly 2 years; however, I often tease my husband that we should have a wedding every year! If I had to do it all over again (there's always a vow renewal, right?!), my wedding would look something like what is pictured afternoon southern garden affair.

Inspiration ::

My inspiration for my dream wedding design comes from growing up in the South. There’s something about spring time in the South that makes my heart melt! The smell of fresh flowers in the garden, birds chirping, and chimes floating in the wind…ahhh…there’s nothing better in my opinion. Late afternoon as the sun is just beginning to set would be the ideal time of day for my outdoor garden wedding.

Details ::

I love the southern charm feel to the wedding design as a whole. I consider myself to be a girly-girl, therefore, it was important for me to include feminine details throughout the design. Lace, beautiful blooms, and shades of pink are all key elements that I wanted to incorporate.

To see the entire blog post, including photo credits, visit The Wedding Shoebox.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Press :: Pittsburgh Weddings Magazine

I was thrilled to find out several months ago that one of our August 2009 weddings (Christina & Richard) would be featured in the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of Pittsburgh Weddings Magazine! This past week the magazine hit newsstands! Christina & Richard incorporated some truly fabulous details into their wedding design, so it's no surprise that their wedding was chosen to be featured.
If you have a copy of the magazine, then flip to pages 36-37 to check out Christina & Richard's wedding feature! In addition to Christina & Richard's wedding, there are 10 other 'Real Pittsburgh Wedding' features to check out - all of which, are equally fabulous!

To see more photos from their wedding day, check out photo album entitled 'Christina & Richard 8.8.09' on our Facebook fan page.

{Click photos to enlarge}

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wedding Day Decorate + Setup Package

It's the week of your've got everything meticulously planned, your vendors are contacted & confirmed, and your timeline is finalized, but then you realize who the heck is going to set up all of my decor?! There's 100+ seating cards, menus to be placed, candles to light, favors to be displayed, and the list goes on and on! These exact thoughts went through my mind the week of my wedding. And although I was lucky enough to have family help me out the day of the wedding, I wasn't thrilled that my family (and soon-to-be husband) had to rush around and take care of these details the morning of our wedding.

This situation made me stop and think that other brides were probably going through the same thing. So, last year I added a 'Decorate + Setup' package to our service menu. I understand that hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator isn't for every bride; therefore, I wanted to create a smaller, affordable option for brides who were in need of someone to set up all of their details that they had worked so hard on the last 12+ months. Our 'Decorate + Setup' package starts at $350 and includes the following items:
  • (1) one-hour face to face consultation to discuss your setup details
  • Up to 5 hours of set-up time on the day of your wedding (includes both your ceremony and reception sites)
  • Decorating help from Sumer (owner & principal planner), and one additional assistant
Here's what our previous brides have said about our 'Decorate + Setup' package:

"When we got engaged I decided that I was going to take care of everything myself - DIY decorations, vendors - the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, there was one thing that I couldn't do, set up the reception decorations. This is where Sumer and her brilliant decorate and set up package came in. Sumer set up all of the centerpieces, the place cards, the card box, and every other little decorating detail, so that when our guests arrived the reception was perfect! I can't explain how pleased I was with the decorate and set up package, it was exactly what I needed at a great price and it turned out beautifully. Thank you Sumer - everything was beautiful, you did a fantastic job! All of the centerpieces looked exactly the way that I wanted and I couldn't have been more pleased! Thank you again for everything!" {Danielle & John}

"Thank you for all of your help and expertise!! It was such a comfort knowing that you were there and taking care of all the details! You and your husband make a great team!!" {Kelsey & PJ}

For more information, or to set up a complimentary consultation, please visit our website.

Eco-Beautiful Weddings Magazine

If you're planning an eco-friendly wedding, then this is definitely a magazine you will want to check out! Eco-Beautiful Weddings is the first online magazine dedicated to eco-friendly weddings. The premier issue of the magazine was just launched on December 15th, and can be found here. I have to say that the magazine is truly fabulous, as I've spent quite some time browsing it! :)

In addition to their gorgeous magazine, they also have a daily blog that features real eco-friendly weddings, green wedding tips, free giveaways, and eco-friendly product spotlights.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Wedding Shoebox

A few weeks ago I was asked by Valerie Metrejean {owner of Southern Fete in Lafayette, La.} to be apart of a new wedding blog showcasing what the wedding pro's would do for their own wedding. What a great idea I thought! Today, The Wedding Shoebox was officially launched! In Valerie's words, she describes The Wedding Shoebox as "Imagine seeing an interior designer’s house or grabbing a book off an author’s bookshelf. The Wedding Shoebox gives a look into what wedding planner's would plan for their own big day. They'll take their experience and know-how, edit gobs of inspiration and create a palette or theme they consider to be the perfect wedding plan." I've already submitted my wedding vision + inspiration photos to Valerie, and can't wait to share it with all of you when it comes to life on The Wedding Shoebox!

P.S. Follow The Wedding Shoebox on Twitter to receive daily wedding planning tips from the pros.

2010 :: A New Year, A New Decade

Wow...has it really been two years since I launched Simply Perfect Weddings?! I cannot even begin to describe how lucky and blessed I feel to be doing what I love for a living. I remember when owning my own wedding + event planning business seemed like a distant dream far away in the future, and now after two years, it’s not only become a reality, but one of my biggest passions in life. With two wedding seasons under our belt, and our 3rd one just on the horizon, it’s already been an amazing journey!

As I talked about in a previous blog post, I’m not usually one to set New Year’s Resolutions for myself. Not that I have anything against them, I am just a firm believer that if I want to make a change in my life, then I should make that change that very day. However, with that being said, I do feel that the “New Year” is an essential time for self-reflection and goal setting for the year ahead. Obviously, I am a planner – a wedding planner, and a planner in life. I thrive off of making lists and staying organized (Confession: I’m not very good at being spontaneous!).

As each year passes, I always strive for growth – both personally and professionally; however, this year, I am shooting for the moon! I recently sat down with one of my biggest supporters, my husband, and mapped out my top 6 business goals for the year {I couldn’t narrow it down to just 5, so I chose 6 instead}. It truly amazes me how just simply putting your thoughts on paper can provide you with such clarity. I don’t know about you, but at any given time, I’ve got hundreds of ideas bouncing around in my head, and often times, those thoughts become overwhelming. I took a few hours {ok, almost an entire weekend} to put down all of my thoughts and goals for the year ahead on paper. Now, I didn’t just write down my goals #1-6 on a piece of paper and call it a day – no, that would be too easy. I’ve taken some advice from some of the top wedding professionals whom I greatly admire, and came up with ACTION plans that will help me achieve those goals in the year ahead. My philosophy for 2010 {and beyond} is “Making Things Happen” thanks to the ever inspiring Lara Casey. While I’ve yet to attend her MTH workshop, those 3 little words have already given me an incredible amount of inspiration for 2010, and I can only imagine how they will impact me after attending. I am incredibly excited to embark on the continued journey that lies ahead, and hope that you will come along for the ride!

This year I plan to tap into my creative side more than ever, give more to my amazing clients, give more to my family & friends, and lastly, give more to myself. I’ve realized that if I don’t spend any time on “me”, that burnout is imminent. I am starting this year feeling FRESH, and hope to end the year on that very same feeling!

With my action plan in hand, I am ready to conquer this new year, and new decade! Cheers to new beginnings, new experiences, and new relationships!

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 New Year's Resolutions for Every Bride

Happy New Year and welcome to 2010! I recently came across this great article on The Knot, and immediately knew this was something that I had to share with our readers. I'm not usually one to set New Year's Resolutions for myself, as I believe that if you want to make a change in your life that you should start that very day {that's an entire different topic to be saved for another day}; however, I very much agree with the points in this New Year's Resolution list. Whether you share my philosophy on New Year's Resolutions or not, I encourage all brides to read these 10 bits of advice when it comes to planning your wedding. Enjoy, and happy planning!

1. I will not do anything...before the guest list.

It's not the most fun part of planning (and we'll be honest, it's one of the most likely to lead to a fight or two or twelve), but you shouldn't make any wed-day decisions before you have your wedding guest list somewhat firmly in place. Why, you ask? Well, do you want to have a nonrefundable deposit down on that cozy restaurant room that fits 75 when your mother-in-law's additions bump your list up over 200? Exactly. Once everyone's in agreement, then you can move forward. That said, this means that one of the parts of your wedding you can plan immediately (or at least talk over with your fiance) is what kind of atmosphere you'd like for your wedding. Do you want an intimate, close friends and family-only affair, or do you want to throw the event of the season for 300-plus people? Later, when you're in the guest-list trenches, this bit of planning will help back up your gut instinct about whether to say yes (or no) to guest-list additions.

2. I will not end up on YouTube for the wrong reason.

Adorable processional dance? Totally acceptable path to stardom. Bridezilla freak-out on the florist who delivers hyacinths instead of hydrangeas? Not so much. On your wedding day, all eyes (and camera phones) will be on you, meaning your every move is subject to instant Internet infamy. Mind your manners and keep your panic attacks quiet to avoid the wrong kind of publicity. But that video of your dad doing the worm during your father-daughter dance? Internet gold.

3. I will not realize that grape isn't my color -- with two months to go.

You should feel free to rethink, redo, and revamp any element of your wedding that you want -- unless you've accepted a ring from it (just kidding). This doesn't have to mean yet another huge investment or reneging on a bunch of contracts -- you'll be surprised how easy it is to make simple additions or subtractions and change your whole style. Already ordered those pastel bridesmaid dresses? Think about adding a bold sash or accessorizing with chandelier earrings to liven them up a bit. Unsure about the color scheme you chose? Pay an extra visit to your florist and work out changes to your bouquets and centerpieces -- adding new blooms in all of your arrangements will introduce a new color throughout the room. Same thing if you've already ordered the linens -- spice them up with bright table runners or overlays. If you decide you really can't live with it, chances are you can go back on your first choice -- just remember that it will have a cost. A good rule of thumb is that if you've already signed a contract or seen a proof, you will have to pay extra for any changes or additions you make. But if it's still relatively early in your planning process, don't be afraid to make the change. Remember, you're getting married to your husband, not your centerpieces.

4. I will not use my Facebook status as a personal wedding journal.

Okay, we know you're excited about planning your wedding, but that girl from your college history class couldn't care less that you finally booked a reception band (not to mention understand that passive-aggressive comment about the best man). We're not saying the everyday details aren't interesting -- we'd just recommend a different platform. Instead of overloading your Twitter feed with wedding details, create a wedding-planning blog for those who want to keep tabs on the ups and downs.

5. I will trust my vendors.

Before you start micromanaging every decision your wedding planner makes, remember one thing: You're paying them for a reason. Consider their experience and expertise an opportunity for you to relax. They want you to love the result (after all, your recommendation hinges on it!), so they're going to strive to please. And wouldn't you rather help someone who trusts your abilities rather than second-guesses everything you do? There's no harm in giving a good amount of direction at the outset, but asking for daily progress reports is overkill.

6. I will not feel guilty about having an adults-only wedding.

Whether you're worried about babies crying during the ceremony or just can't afford to seat entire families for dinner, it's your decision whether or not you want to invite the little ones. As long as you're consistent about this rule (no exceptions for your closest friends!) and upfront in your invitations and on your wedding website, you shouldn't feel bad if you have to tactfully put the kibosh on your second cousin who tries to RSVP for her toddler triplets.

7. I will attempt (at least a little) DIY.

Even the least crafty bride can undoubtedly personalize a few details of her wedding, and the bragging rights -- not to mention the savings -- will be well worth the effort. Try your hand at creating your favors or ceremony programs. If those tasks seem to daunting, keep it simple: Put your excellent penmanship to use and write out the escort cards, or make your own welcome bags for out-of-town guests with maps of the area and a few local goodies.

8. I will acknowledge that some people might not want to be the "guest book attendant".

You can't put all your friends in the wedding party, but there are usually a few people left over that you still want to you create "special" jobs, like cake servers and guest book attendants. Our advice: Unless your guest book is especially complicated, an attendant probably isn't necessary. Honorary jobs are still jobs, and chances are, they'll have a much better time if you just let them enjoy the party rather than having them stand guard by the guest book.

9. I will actually eat the dinner at my reception. (That includes cake!)

Make sure you take time with your new husband to really enjoy the party you worked so hard to plan. If you spend your whole wedding day directing the photographer and making sure the bridal party makes their entrance on cue, you'll be missing out on a lot of amazing memories. Even if you don't hire a day-of wedding coordinator, put a trusted relative or bridesmaid in charge of making sure things go smoothly on the big day.

10. I will look on the bright side -- no matter what.

Did your outdoor ceremony get rained out? Instead of panicking, throw on some cute rain boots, grab a big umbrella, and start posing for some adorable rainy-day photographs. The DJ played the wrong song for your bridal party's entrance? Chances are no one else noticed. After months of obsessing over the details, it's easy to get lost in them. Loosen up, keep in mind what's important (you're getting married!), and we promise that, even if the caterer serves twice-baked potatoes instead of mashed, it'll all be great in the end.

Content courtesy of The Knot.