Posts Tagged ‘expert advice’

April 22, 2013 6:54 pm

Spring Means Outdoor Weddings

It’s that glorious time of year again! The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and everyone is coming to life after a five-month hibernation. The sun is so warm this week I can hardly contain myself. I’m excited for what’s to come: the Spring/Summer season. Because I almost always think with my wedding planning brain, I can’t help but associate these seasons with outdoor ceremonies and receptions. Outdoor weddings are a lot of work, made even more difficult with the ever-changing weather. However, it’s undeniable that a ceremony by the lake on a sunny day is about as lovely as lovely can be, which is why they continue to be in the dreams of many a bride.

You might not think planning an outdoor wedding is that big of a deal. Just order a tent in case it rains, and it’s fine. Yes, securing some sort of structure to keep guests dry during inclement weather is a wise move. It seems obvious to us in the profession, but I have to tell you I’ve met more than a handful of brides who had no rain plan at all. Yikes! But what other considerations are there when planning an outdoor wedding ceremony?

Heat and Sun

Even with a short, 20-30 minute civil ceremony, guests can be out in the sun for quite a while. Most of your guests will arrive early, sometimes the ceremony starts late, will take half an hour to complete, and then with a casual meet and greet to follow, you’ve already reached about two hours in the blazing heat. Often there’s a cocktail hour afterward on the lawn, adding another hour, and suddenly it’s becoming quite the afternoon! There are many things we can do to help keep guests comfortable in the heat:

  • Parasols and hats for guests can provide welcome shade and reduce the temperature by a few degrees. Offering inexpensive wraps for women can be a wonderful gesture to protect their shoulders from the sun’s rays.
  • A tent can act not only as a rain plan, but also as a hot weather plan in order to keep guests cool and away from the hot sun.
  • Host a lemonade/punch station so guests can have a cool drink as they’re waiting for the ceremony to get underway. Even just a couple tubs of bottled water on ice can do the trick!
  • Fans for female guests can help to create a breeze. The bonus is that they can be fashioned to reflect the decor of the day!
  • Try to plan the ceremony site under a large tree so that the foliage creates some shade over the congregation.
  • Pay attention to the type of chairs you use. There’s nothing worse than sticking to a sweaty chair cushion when you go to stand up!
  • Keep the length of the ceremony in mind. It might not be a great idea to include three readings and two performances. With a short ceremony, everyone will stay comfortable.
  • There’s nothing lovelier than bridesmaids carrying bouquets of hydrangea, but in 95 degree temperatures, they’ll wilt before you can blink an eye. Keep flowers fresh with a periodic water spray, including the bouquets.
  • Have sunscreen on hand, and set up an essentials table for your guests. You can also include little spritz bottles and cool, wet cloths to provide relief when the temperatures start to rise. I don’t know about you, but heat can give me a horrible headache, so keep pain relievers in your emergency kit. I rarely get through an event without someone asking for one!
  • As you’re planning the ceremony, pay close attention to where the sun will be at the appointed hour. Make sure your guests and your wedding party aren’t facing the sun.
  • Above all, inform your guests what they should expect BEFORE the wedding on the invitation or the wedding website. If they know ceremony is going to be outdoors, they will prepare accordingly.

Once you’ve attended to your guests’ comfort, don’t forget about the bride and groom, the wedding party, and the vendors. Whether it’s during setup, photo sessions, or the ceremony itself, keep them fresh and happy even in the worst temperatures. Build break times into your itinerary for those with demanding schedules that day. Nothing feels better to your clients and your supplier team than being able to take 10 in the shade with a cold bottle of water and a refreshing snack. I always pack water and fruit snacks in my vehicle so that I can attend to those people while they’re on the move. You’ll be the hero when you walk over to the wedding party during photos with an armload of cold water and a basket of energizing snacks – especially the men in layered tuxedos!



Wind wasn’t one of the things I considered when I first started planning for outdoor wedding ceremonies. But all you need is one windy day to learn what not to do! Here are a few things to think about in advance:

  • When the wind catches them, linens can be sent flying through the air. As the linens set sail, flowers can be sent flying, and marriage licenses can float to the ground. Unless you secure your linens in an outdoor ceremony, the likelihood of their staying put is slim at best! Use table clips or weights to keep linens in place. You can also use decor as a weight, but beware – it better be heavy. I once thought vases with flowers would be enough to hold the linens down, and boy was I wrong. One gust of wind and the vases came crashing onto the patio stones below! Avoiding linens completely is an easy solution if you use beautiful wood tables that don’t require covering.
  • There’s nothing like a gust of wind to mess up even the most beautiful hairdo!  Hair stylists do use a ton of spray, sometimes enough to keep a hair helmet in the craziest of winds. In case they don’t, I pack personal items like combs, a mirror, bobby pins, elastics, and hair spray in my emergency kit.
  • Make sure your tent is well secured to handle strong winds. I’ve seen tent walls that were not properly tied to the poles resulting in flaps fluttering in the wind, and knocking things down in the process!
  • Remind your clients to keep wind in mind when choosing the bride’s gown. Very light fabrics such as chiffon and light silks can become revealing if caught by a gust at the altar.
  • Secure anything and everything that might be caught by a breeze. This might include the aisle runner, musicians’ sheet music, programs, marriage license, & serviettes.




Have you ever been to an outdoor ceremony where you can’t hear a darn thing? There can be so many competing sounds that it’s near impossible to hear readings, vows, or music. You may want to consider:

  • Microphones for musicians, the officiant, the groom, and the readers so even the guests at the back hear everything clearly.
  • At your rehearsal, have your participants practice speaking louder than usual and more slowly than they normally would.
  • When scouting out possible ceremony locations, consider noise level carefully. Are you near a street where traffic might be an issue? Or near a busy waterway where boating or swimming might compete? Tourist areas are popular for weddings since they’re often in beautiful, manicured settings. But with that comes increased foot traffic, so taking into account sounds like competing voices is a really good idea.
  • Then there are the extra considerations like whether or not there will be a jet flight overhead at the exact time that the ceremony is to take place. Will there be motor boats whizzing by? Maybe the wedding is hosted in the backyard and Neighbor Joe decides that the perfect weather dictates finishing that deck. Hammer, hammer! You can’t cover for every possible noise during the planning process, but you sure can minimize the risk by considering many of the possible scenarios.


Our beloved crawly guys can be a pain at your outdoor ceremony location. Mosquitoes, bees, wasps, ants, flies, you name it, they’re coming to enjoy your flowers, your sweet drinks, and your guests! So think about how to combat them in advance:

  • Provide bug repellant spray on that lovely little essentials table you’ve set up. Carry some in your emergency kit, too!
  • Citronella candles may help if mosquitoes are the top concern.
  • When choosing the ceremony location, try to avoid thick wooded areas and boggy/marshy locations where mosquitoes are going to fly rampant.
  • Keep your sweet sticky beverages (and foods) well enclosed so Mr. Ant and Mrs. Bee can’t get at them. Trash cans for plastic glassware should be placed away from guests since they will attract pests looking for leftovers.
  • Consider the time of day when pests might be the biggest issue when choosing your ceremony time.
  • Stay away from lilies and other bell shaped, highly fragrant flowers for the bouquets.



When choosing the ceremony location, there are hundreds of things you’ll need to consider. Sometimes the location is already dictated, such as your client’s family cottage, so you have to work with what has been given to you. But even within a pre-determined setting, you can often move things in order to make the ceremony site as guest friendly as possible. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Ground slope is a huge one. Have you ever tried to set up chairs on uneven, sloping ground? It’s no fun! You also don’t want grandma’s chair tumbling over by seating her on sloping terrain.
  • Try to find a space of lawn that is fairly bump free. It makes setting up much easier, and it is also a lot kinder to female guests in high-heel shoes!
  • Clear any debris away from the site before setting up. Sticks and rocks present a hazard to your guests and garbage is just plain ugly.
  • Look for obstructions when choosing your location. Stand at the back of the space looking toward where the altar will be placed. Is there anything obstructing views? Reconfigure your angles until every guest is going to get a great view of the happy couple!
  • As pretty as that perennial garden is, do you really want to set up within inches of it? Allergies (bring those antihistamines with you!) and pests might become more of an issue than they would have had you set up further away from the garden.
  • Nothing is nicer than a unique, out-of-the-way spot for the ceremony. But is it easy to find and accessible to your guests, or are they going to get lost trying to find you? Post signs along the road, and provide guests with a map to make navigation easier.
  • A final consideration is parking. Make sure there’s enough space for all of your guests.

I hope this helps you give your clients and guests the beautiful experience they deserve. Remember that even when you plan for everything you can possibly foresee, now and then something totally random will come in and wreak havoc on your plans. Back in August 2009, a hurricane system decided to roll into Ottawa on the day of my clients’ outdoor ceremony. We had covered all the angles we could in advance. Even though the resulting monsoon made for a VERY wet day, it was still a beautiful ceremony that my clients and guests talked about for month.

Be prepared, and enjoy to the fullest. Happy planning!

Wedding planner Lynn LeeWritten by Lynn Lee

Lynn Lee has over 10 years experience in the event and wedding planning industry. These days, she’s focusing her attention on her growing wedding planning business, Weddings Unveiled. Her weekly blog posts include business tips, wedding trends, and expert advice.


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March 14, 2013 9:45 am

Business Growth: Focus on Quality

Business growth…the title alone probably conjures up positive thoughts for many of you. As entrepreneurs, we’re encouraged to seek more, to build, to conquer, and to grow to our full potential. After all, isn’t the goal typically to manage large, big-budget weddings, perhaps several per day? To step into the role of lead planner, overseeing a staff of support personnel who help make it all happen? This what we see when we visit sites like and We work hard to gain the kind of reputation where demand for our services forces us to increase our internal staff numbers. I adhered to this thinking when I first started out, thinking bigger was definitely better. But after a couple of years, I realized I needed to go in another direction, one that was a better fit for me, my goals, my values, and my personality.

Several times a week, I am approached by talented women looking for employment, whether on an internship or part-time basis, or as a full-time career move. I always feel bad that I am unable to offer them a position, but I have chosen a different route than seems to be the norm. I do seek growth but of a different kind. Growth for me is achieving a reputation and a brand that enables me to do the type of events that are truest to my nature.

I’m interested in planning better events, not more events. I want to take part in events where I play a pivotal part of the planning process. I want to enjoy a close relationship with my clients and their family, and help them to achieve their goals with ease. I want to create events that mirror both my clients’ and my own values. It’s taken five years of often excruciatingly long hours and a commitment to excellence in all that I do to get where I am today. Now, my brand consistently attracts the exact clientele I want!

There are several reasons why I opted for a different type of growth – growth in quality versus quantity. All of those reasons are unique to me alone and my position in life, and yours will be too. Here is a list of just a few of my reasons, to give you an idea why I made the business decisions I did:

  1. Being closer to retirement than many planners, growth wasn’t necessarily a good fit for me because of the time commitment involved in overseeing multiple events and staff.
  2. I find my connection with my clients the most rewarding part of my career, and to give that experience up to my staff wouldn’t be as satisfying to me.
  3. I am a bit of a type A personality (okay, not just a bit…), and have a hard time giving up control.
  4. I tend to feel most stressed when I feel out of control. Therefore, keeping control of a smaller number of events would improve my quality of life.
  5. Put simply, at the age of 50 my values do not include making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Someone at the beginning stage of their career would probably have different financial goals than I do.
  6. I value being wholly available to my clients, so providing a high level of service to a small number of couples is a better fit for me.

Although the decision not to grow in the usual sense was sometimes a difficult one, I have no doubt that it was the right move. Entering my sixth year, I am enjoying every event with which I am involved and really feel like the business is a true reflection of who I am and what I can offer the industry. You too will develop a business plan that will evolve over time until it becomes exactly what it should be for your own values and personality. I assure you, it will be a wild, rewarding ride getting there.

Best of luck and happy planning!

Written by Lynn Wedding planner Lynn LeeLee

Lynn Lee has over 10 years experience in the event and wedding planning industry. These days, she’s focusing her attention on her growing wedding planning business, Weddings Unveiled. Her weekly blog posts include business tips, wedding trends, and expert advice.




February 28, 2013 3:30 pm

The Amazing Blush Brush: Must Read

Why is the blush brush so amazing? When it comes to make up, there are really no rules. There are, though, a series of fundamental suggestions. One of the most important is… if you want professional results from your makeup, you need to use professional tools.

I am by no means suggesting that you run out and buy an arsenal of expensive makeup brushes. I am simply suggesting that you have a handful of the right brushes on hand. A great artist can work wonders on a face with very few tools, and when I’m done passing on my knowledge to you, you’ll be able to do the same.

Since flawless skin is the first building block to stunning makeup, I am going to begin with an amazing multi-functional brush every pro and consumer must have for complexion perfection. The blush brush is one of my absolute favorites, and I use it for so much more than just blush.

The Blush Brush

Uses: To apply setting powders, pressed powders, contour colors, bronzer and, of course, powder blushes.

Why it works: Powder makeups cling to the natural hairs on this rounded mid-sized brush, allowing for an even deposit on the face. The head is large enough to give a fast and even distribution but small enough to ensThe multi-functional blush brushure ample coverage over the cheekbones and in crevices (under the eyes and around the nose).

What to do: To apply any powder makeup, dip the brush into the product, then turn the brush upside down and tap the handle on the sink. This will pull the powder down into the brush, allowing an even distribution of color as you pull it across or buff over your face. (If you don’t tap it into the brush, you may end up with too hard a lay down of color on the first place the brush hits. Some people prefer to flick the brush to remove the excess powder, but I tend to think this is messy and wasteful.) Apply dry powder foundation all over the face and any other products where needed.

Tips and tricks:

  1. When using foundation as a setting powder, tap the brush onto the face, allowing the foundation to ‘grab’ the powder that it needs. This will ensure that your perfectly applied foundation and concealer will not be moved by the sweeping motion of the brush.
  2. Setting your cream or liquid makeup with powder will extend its wear and cut down on shine.
  3. To use the blush brush as a buffer (for contour or bronzer application), pinch the bristles close to the ferrule (the metal section that holds the bristles in place). This will tighten the hairs and lay down a heavier application of color. Use the same technique if you wish to lay down more coverage from pressed powder, and contour powders.


This multi-use brush is a staple that will help perfect your application.

If you are happy using your fingers, let me caution you: it is not hygienic, it causes needless wear on the skin and, like I always say, fingers are to make-up like the cookie monster is to cookies; they gobble it up. If you put it on with your fingers, you are throwing away at least 25% of your product and over a lifetime, that is a lot of wasted money. Save time, save money and look better…use brushes.

Get out there and be beautiful.