Perfect Folds | York & Lancaster Unique Events

acostatablesmall2.jpg Guests are often in awe of beautiful centerpieces at the wedding receptions we plan and host. A great way to give your reception tables more personality is by folding napkins in unique ways.  Napkins are a great way to make a table setting more fun, elegant, or whimsical!


The most popular napkin fold is the flat pocket fold. This fold allows you to slip a menu card, thank you card, flower blossom, twig of herb, or a lot of other items into its pocket. The napkin can also be folded with multiple pockets, which can be utilized to in various ways.


I love when my clients take the things that make them happy, like bows, hearts and butterflies, and incorporate them into the napkin fold. What a great representation of the couple and an added  personal touch!


There are many variations to the classic roll fold. With this fold, you can implement fun napkin rings and ribbon accents.  Napkin rings can also be a great take-home gift for your guests.


Just like the roll fold, the traditional rose fold has evolved a lot over the last few years. Done correctly and to your specific taste, it can really be an amazing touch to your table decor.


The right napkin fold is just as important as the centerpiece, the table linen, and the charger plate. Napkin folds can add the right touch of detail and personality to take your table to the "WOW!" factor level.

Contact me today for an initial consultation and let the planning begin!

Daisy Pagan | Perfect Settings LCC Voted Lancaster County Magazine’s #1 Event Planner in 2013

200 Locust Street Columbia, PA 17512 717-684-4455


Perfect Aisles | for Lancaster & York County Brides


You bought the perfect wedding gown and adorned your bridesmaids in your favorite hue.  Everyone will look stunning!  But have you ever considered dressing your wedding aisle?  If you're the modern bride, however, the a traditional white wedding aisle may not fit your unique sense of style.

I've compiled some ideas that will help you think outside the box when it comes to your walk down the aisle.


The monogram became a symbol of high society during the Victorian period when it was adapted for personal use. The roots of the monogram give insight in to why people still love it now. Whether you take a classic approach to the monogram or a more modern one, you just can’t go wrong.  Monogramming your wedding aisle is an increasing trend that adds a sense of personal style and denotes a high-end quality.


The trend of printing on the wedding aisle doesn't just stop with monogramming, however.  Maybe, as a couple, you have a special connection to a song, a poem, or a scripture verse.  Share it with everyone.  Make it a unique part of your day by experiencing it on your walk down the aisle.


Get creative with a colored wedding aisle runner.  A color on your aisle will be a blend of style and taste that is sure to add conversation on your wedding day.  This trend is in high demand for celebrity weddings and featured in popular wedding magazines. Why not add that same bold taste to your wedding?


Since we are focused on non-traditional style--why not do something completely unique?  Ribbons, burlap, stones, pages of books, sheet music, and many other medians might just create the distinction you desire.  Your wedding should reflect YOU, so let's talk about what unique materials you could use to personalize your aisle.


Almost every ceremony includes flowers as part of its design.  Why not consider a petal pathway to your groom?  The possibilities of what to do with petals are endless.  Your guests will be envious that yours are the only feet to touch this fragrant work on aisle art!


And who said a wedding aisle has to be straight?

So, tradition holds that a bride enters last and walks toward her groom. Who wants to change that opportunity for a grand entrance? Nevertheless, the details from how you decorate the aisle are open to interpretation.

As your event planner, I'll help you determine how a spectacular entrance can happen for you.  With my vast connections to vendors, services and suppliers, I will also assist you in staying within the budget you can afford.  Contact me today for your free initial consultation!

Daisy Pagan | Perfect Settings LCC 200 Locust Street Columbia, PA 17512 717-684-4455


A Well-Dressed Chair | Wedding Ideas for York & Lancaster


Don’t forget the beauty a well-dressed chair can bring to any occasion. Perfect Settings has beautiful Italian-style chiavari chairs that are easily adorned with charm and glamor.

Today, I am offering you inspiration from photos of chairs that are dressed for a magical wedding day.


Use ribbons, accents and flowers to create endless possibilities for dressing up our venue with style


Designate special seating for the bride and groom.


Create unforgettable swags with paper, ribbons and garlands of greens.

And should you visit now the seats of bliss,

You need not wear another form but this

-John Oldham, Poet

Remember, I’m here to listen to your dreams, capture your style and dress up your special day so it is the most unforgettable day of your life.  Contact me today for a free consultation and to discuss how we can work together to make your dreams come true.

Daisy Pagan | Perfect Settings

Daisy Pagan was voted Lancaster County Magazine’s #1 Event Planner in 2013.

717.684.4455 |

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Jars and Bottles | Lancaster & York Wedding Plans


While the sunshine and outdoors add to the appeal of a warm-weather celebration, you certainly don’t want you or your guests to get overheated.

Why not provide 
personalized chilled bottles of water, juice or soda for guests during your ceremony and
reception? Dress up the bottles with custom seals, favor tags and ribbon.  I can help you find the best pricing for all of these individualized touches.


Jars and bottles are a unique and inexpensive way to display table numbers. They also create a charming vase for centerpieces on your reception tables. Flowers can be customized in the jar to fit your style—casual wildflowers tied with raffia or hemp look just as stylish as neatly-arranged, glamorous blossoms tied up with ribbons.  Don’t forget to add personal touches to your table arrangements—books, buttons, photographs…


Want something hip and trendy? Jars make the coolest drinking glasses that can also be used as a take-home gift for your guests.  For a small party or reception, each jar can be personalized with a guest’s name.  As a party favor, include a tag with your initials, names, wedding date, or any other personal information that will remind your guest of the special day—and don’t forget the whimsical use of straws.

Plus, why toast with a traditional champagne glass?  Bride and Groom can even have their own special jars and even feature a signature drink at the reception.


Jars can also be filled with jams, jellies, candies, cookie mixes—you name it!  The presentation is what will make your guest feel like they have received a treasured gift from you. I can assist you in finding the most unique jar favors that represent your special day in a very personalized and contemporary way.


Think outside the box in terms of using mason jars in your services as well.  They can create an enchanting aisle decoration, whether tied to chairs or church pews or hanging from a shepherds hook.  No doubt these ideas will make your day unforgettable.



Jars are a simple way to create ambiance, as well. Since they are the perfect container for tea lights and votive candles, they serve well as luminaries.  String them from branches or ceiling rafters, along with lights for a look that is stunning both by day and by night.  Fill the bottom with something that represents you—sand, coffee beans, buttons, colored stones…you name it!  I’ll help you think of distinctive ideas that best characterize you.


The versatility of jars and bottles is vast.  The bottom line is, your styling should be like seeing your own signature on your reception.   It doesn’t have to be pricey to be remarkable and customized.  Every day, I help brides create exceptional weddings and receptions that exceed their dreams.

Remember, Perfect Settings is also a distinctive location to host your reception.  We book dates well in advance, so contact us today to schedule a complimentary meeting where we can discuss your wedding plans!

Event coordinating is offered as a separate service to the wedding reception venue at Perfect Settings. We want you to relax and enjoy the most wonderful time of your life. We are committed to ensuring that every little detail is in place and nothing is overlooked.

Daisy Pagan was voted Lancaster County Magazine’s #1 Event Planner in 2013.

Contact her at Perfect Settings | 717.684.4455 |

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2014 Color Trends for Lancaster & York County Weddings

Want to know what color is trending for 2014?

Pantone's Color of the Year selection for 2014 is Radiant Orchid.


I love this color.  It looks beautiful in our venue, and its rich elegance partners well with many other colors.  Here are some quick ideas I liked for how to use this color to transform your reception or event in our space.


Use it as a hot pop of color with white or off-white for total elegance.  When candles and crystals are also used, it is all glam.  It doesn't have to be big and overstated to make a fabulous impression.


Partner it with shades of purples.  This is rich and warm.  Purple is one of those colors that can be very contemporary or more traditional and its popularity has staying power.


Looking for pure romance?  Not afraid to be daring?  Then consider coupling Radiant Orchid with red and chartreuse.  It looks beautiful with oranges and yellows too.


Knowing how to best pair colors and make your reception look amazing can sometimes cause stress for a bride-to-be or an event host.  Don’t stress over colors!  I love color.  Let me help you create the atmosphere and color palette that best reflects YOU!

Trust yourself to the 2013 #1 Event Planner in "Best of Lancaster" Readers' Survey for Lancaster County Magazine and let your dreams become reality.

Daisy Pagan & Perfect Settings, LLC

717.684.4455 Office  |  717.951.8541 Direct

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Lancaster County Wedding Planner: Wedding Programs 101


It’s time to plan the program for your wedding, but how can you create something special and unique?  I can help you with every detail of planning your wedding or event, but here’s some helpful tips to get you thinking.

A wedding program is an ideal way to remember your day, thank people who made it possible, and to let out-of-town guests know who’s who. So, what should you include?


What’s Your Cover?

The cover of your program can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.  There are a few details you may want to consider including:

  • The date
  • Your names
  • The location of the ceremony

Optional content may include:

  • A photograph
  • A tagline, quote or scripture verse
  • Graphics that emphasize the theme of your wedding

If you have a theme to your wedding the program cover is the perfect place to add details that tie it all together.

Want to keep your program cover sleek and minimal?  Then consider just using a monogram or a simple detail on the front and reserve space on the inside cover of the program for all of the wedding day details.


The Inside Scoop

On the inside, guests will want to find the order of the program.  It’s entirely up to you how detailed you want to get, but make sure you’re recognizing the people who are participating.

Speaking of participants, you definitely want to acknowledge the wedding party.When you bring two families together, there will be plenty of guests who don’t know each other. Including a list of the bridal party and their relation to the bride and groom will make the reception an easier transition for all guests. It is also a way to thank those who you personally chose to be a part of your special day.

Also, after the wedding party is listed, it is not uncommon for the bride and groom to include a couple of sentences as a thank you to all of the family and guests who participated in their wedding.  It’s also a great place to include your new address, so people can contact you as Mr. & Mrs.

Remember, this is YOUR day!  Just like with most other things, you’ll want your wedding program to reflect you and your special day.

For creative ideas of how to make your day the most special day possible, please feel free to contact me!

Perfect Settings isn’t just a beautiful location to throw an amazing reception or event, owner Daisy Pagan is recognized as a top event and wedding coordinator in the Susquehanna Valley.  For a free consultation with Daisy, email

Photographs by: Invite Site,  “I Do” It Yourself Invites and Oh So Beautiful Paper

Don’t Forget to “Save the Date”


People seem busier than ever, so getting your date on everyone’s calendar is an important detail that should not be overlooked.  In fact, it’s statistically proven that couples that send out a “Save the Date” reminder have a greater number of guests attending their wedding.


Personalize your “Save the Date” by scheduling an appointment with a photographer—then be creative!  Talk through all the special things about your relationship and how those things can be captured in a single photograph.  What do you like to do together?  Where do you spend your time?  What makes your relationship unique? While you’re out on the photo shoot, you can also secure some beautiful engagement shots as well, to share with family and friends.


In this world of super technology, there are many methods for sharing your date.

Cards and postcards are now easily created through popular online photo stores.  These can become treasured keepsakes for your guests of honor.  They will proudly hang your photo on their refrigerator or bulletin board and remember you (and your wedding date) each time they see it.


Want to forgo the formality of mailing a card?  Social media has become a simple way to share your news.  Just be careful how you share.  You want to make sure that only intended guests are saving your special date; otherwise, your 800 casual Facebook friends may all think they are officially invited!

For more ideas on how to perfectly communicate your wedding date, please contact me as soon as (or even before!) you have your wedding date set.  We can strategize the best way to share your news that represents you and your plans for your future.  I can also help you make sure that you have all of the important details secured before you communicate your plans with others.  Let me take care of the finer points, while you simply enjoy every moment of the months, weeks and days leading up to your big event!

Daisy Pagan was voted Lancaster County Magazine’s #1 Event Planner in 2013. You can contact her at Perfect Settings | 717.684.4455 |

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Photography by local photographers: Mary Neumann Photography | Krista Oliver Photography

Printed Save the Date card by: Invitation Crush

The Romance of Winter


There is romance and magic in the crisp, cool winter air. Why not create that enchantment at your wedding or winter event?

Crystals capture light and look like shimmering, multifaceted snowflakes falling from the sky. Candles also dance and sparkle, creating warmth and serenity. For a winter wedding, you can never have too many crystals or candles.


Customary winter greens can be easily be transformed into a winter wonderland with simple snow-like flocking. Or, use barren branches dipped in silver or gold, adding metallic accents and glitter that awaken the sparkling essence of winter.


A glamorous, yet chic, winter color palette includes silvers, grays, and blues. Traditional winter colors, like deep reds, blacks and purples can be accentuated with a more modern color-twist like chartreuse.


Embrace the nostalgia of a winter fairytale. Arrive at your event in a horse drawn carriage, wrapped in white faux fur or a rich velvet blanket.


Serve guests a sundry of flavored hot beverages, accented with chocolate shavings, peppermints and snow-capped whipped toppings. Consider a party favor of hot cocoa jars, tied with ribbons and snowflakes.There are endless possibilities for making your celebration a winter wonderland to remember.


Whether it's a wedding or other special event, I’ll help you take your budget and make your dreams become a reality. Please contact me today and let's work together!

Perfect Settings, LLC *Voted #1 Event Planner in 2013 "Best of Lancaster" Readers' Survey for Lancaster County Magazine! Like us on Facebook for tips, ideas and decor!

Photos courtesy of | skn events | |

York County Wedding Planner | Theme Wedding Ideas

Everyone has their passion in life, but that doesn’t mean it matches their idea of the perfect wedding. I’m here to tell you that themed weddings don’t have to be cheesy! As a York County wedding planner, I can help you create a themed wedding that is refined and classy. A theme can make it really easy to plan a wedding. Let me know if any of the following ideas appeal to you!

Peacock Wedding

York County Wedding Planner | DIY Hydrangea Peacock Crown

Peacock feathers make stunning accessories.

I wouldn’t advise plastering peacock feathers all over everything if you decide you want a peacock wedding—instead, allow it to inform your color palette, and place feathers in one or two strategic locations.

The bride is the focal point of the whole event. The rich gold, purple, blue, green, and turquoise of a peacock feather makes the perfect accent to a white gown.

Chocolate Wedding

York County Wedding Planner | Chocolate Themed Wedding

When you have a chocolate themed wedding, dessert is king!

A chocolate-themed wedding can help determine your color story, but you’re not restricted to dressing your bridesmaids in brown. Accessories in a deep espresso look amazing with a burnt orange or an eggplant as the main focus.

When it comes to your reception, take the opportunity to go all-out on dessert! Try chocolate fountain, dessert buffet table, truffles as wedding favors, or all of the above.

Ballerina Wedding

A ballet-themed wedding provides a delicate palette, and comfortable bridal shoes!

A ballet theme is perfect for any bride who wants a soft and feminine look. Dusty rose, blush pink, and ivory are all great color elements. Best of all, the bride has an excuse to wear flats!

Images courtesy of Faylyne, Vegan Feast Catering, and

Lancaster County Wedding Planner’s Guide To Centerpieces

Traditionally, the tables at a wedding reception have floral centerpieces. As a Lancaster County wedding planner, I have to tell you, flowers aren’t mandatory! They can be beautiful, but centerpieces offer you the opportunity to be a little more creative.Here are a few ideas for centerpieces that are so stunning, you won’t even think about flowers:


Lancaster County Wedding Planner | Terrarium Centerpiece

Buy or make your own terrariums

This is a rustic spin on the traditional floral centerpiece that will wow your guests! A terrarium is essentially a miniature ecosystem, and they’re completely customizable. Think of them as a little slice of the season of your wedding. You can use sand, seashells, moss, leaves, pinecones, stones, branches, or even antlers.


Besides flowers, candles are probably the most common centerpiece to find at a wedding reception. That doesn’t mean you can’t make them special!

Lancaster County Wedding Planner | Cranberry Candle Centerpiece

Candle centerpieces can create a warm glow at your guests’ tables.

Arrange candles with other objects that match your wedding’s theme. If you’re getting married close to the holidays, glittery ornaments make great additions to reflect the candlelight around the room. Tea lights will float in water, and so will flowers and other seasonal decorations, like cranberries.


You can use balloons to make whimsical D.I.Y. centerpieces. Find balloons that match your color scheme, inflate them with helium, and use a mesh net to attach one balloon to a small basket. Fill the basket with marbles or vase fillers to weigh it down, and you’ve got a fun and festive hot air balloon centerpiece!

Balloons make fun and festive D.I.Y. centerpieces.

Another way to use balloons to create centerpieces is to pin uninflated balloons of varying colors to a foam ball. You can “plant” them in a flowerpot filled with tulle, or make a bouquet out of them. People will be talking about your unique centerpieces throughout the entire reception!

Images courtesy of Vera Devera, Chris Potako, and Anna Beer.

Save Money With Your Lancaster County Wedding Reception Venue

When it comes to a wedding budget, everyone has things that they’re willing to compromise on and things they aren’t. Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, you may have to make one or two concessions to make ends meet. If you book the right Lancaster County wedding reception venue, though, that might not be the case! What if you could prioritize what’s most important to you by cutting corners in other areas? Here are a few ideas for how to save money as you plan your wedding:

Avoid Saturday Night: Saturday weddings are the most expensive. You can save money by having it on a Friday, a Sunday, or a weekday.

Have A Winter Wedding: Venue prices are lower from December through March. If you want an indoor reception anyway, why not have it in the winter?

Economize On Flowers: Talk to your florist on ways to make less expensive arrangements. Bear grass is a cheap filler for centerpieces, roses are affordable year-round, and carnations are some of the most inexpensive flowers there are.

Lancaster County Wedding Reception Venue | Roses Are Gorgeous And Frugal Flowers

Use Roses For A Gorgeous—And Frugal—Bouquet!

Save On Alcohol: People love an open bar, but hard liquor isn’t required. Free wine and beer are sufficient, or you can buy your own liquor. You can find a guide to buying alcohol for large groups of people here.

Find Alternatives To Dinner Service: Buffets are less expensive than a formal, sit-down service. If you want to forgo a meal altogether, you can serve hors d’oeuvres at an extended cocktail hour. Just make sure you notify your guests that dinner won’t be served!

Lancaster County Wedding Reception Venue | A Buffet Is Cheaper Than A Dinner Service

Choose A Buffet To Cut Back On Dinner Costs

Cut Down On The DJ’s Time: An iPod is no substitute for a DJ, but you can cut down on how long you book them for. Use your iPod or have a musician friend play during cocktail hour, and have the DJ start by announcing you.

Images courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker and Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts.

How To Choose The Perfect York County Wedding Reception Venue

If you already know which York wedding reception venue you’re in love with, consider yourself lucky. It helps to have a cornerstone in the wedding planning process. The venue is a great place to start. If you’re like most couples, though, you have no idea where to host your reception. You probably don’t even know where to start! That’s why I decided to create a series of articles on finding the perfect reception venue.

Find Your Theme

Unless you already have a spot in mind, it’s a good idea to decide on your wedding day theme before finding your venue. You can narrow down your search to places that fit the look you want.

York Wedding Reception Venue | Elegant Theme Requires Elegant Venue

Find A Venue To Match The Elegance Of Your Wedding

If you want a sleek, minimalist wedding, a barn might not be the right fit. I think it’s useful to have a “I’ll know it when I see it” attitude while shopping around York County for reception venues.

Be Flexible

You should have an idea of what you want, you don’t rigidly adhere to it. Your wedding photos might make it onto Pinterest, but don’t copy and paste all of your ideas! Your wedding won’t be as special if it’s not unique.

Even If You Love Everything About This Pinterest Favorite, Don’t Be A Reception-Jacker!

You’d be surprised at the versatility a venue like Perfect Settings has. Share your ideas with the venue’s owner. Chances are, I’ll have ideas as to how I can accommodate your plans.

Hire A Coordinator

I don’t require that you use my coordinating services in order to have your wedding at Perfect Settings, but I do encourage it. Similarly, I offer planning services for any venue you might choose.

Wedding planners are probably the best sources of advice for anything, including where to have your wedding reception. This is just one reason why it’s incredibly important to hire one. For a bunch of others, check out the “coordinating packages” section on my site.

Images courtesy of esharkj and David Niblack.

Questions To Ask When Seeking A Lancaster County Wedding Reception Venue

Most people shopping for a Lancaster County wedding reception venue know enough to ask the obvious questions, like “How many weddings have you hosted?” If you stick to those, though, you’ll be in for some surprises! As somebody who both plans weddings and owns a wedding reception venue, I try to make sure I inform my brides of everything they need to know. There is plenty you can do to meet me halfway, especially if you have a comprehensive list of interview questions to ask each vendor. Here are some to ask venues, which you may not have thought of:

1. What additional expenses will I need to consider?

You’ll need to break this question down into specifics. At Perfect Settings, we offer packages that include tables, chairs, linens, dishes, and silverware. Others do not, and you’ll need to rent them.

Lancaster County Wedding Reception Venue | Does Your Venue Provide Cake-Cutting Services?

Does Your Venue Provide Cake-Cutting Services? Ask To Find Out!

You should also ask if the venue provides cake-cutting services, clean-up services, parking, decorations, and alcohol. Depending on the answer, any of these things could cost you extra!

2. Does this venue have a list of required vendors?

Some venues only allow you to use vendors and services they provide. Ask if this is the case, and if not, whether they have a list of preferred or recommended vendors. This can help you if you don’t know where to start looking.

3. Are there any restrictions I should know about?

You’ll need to ask about things like noise restrictions, decorating restrictions, and fire hazards. If the venue is in a residential area, you may need to close down the party early, depending on community rules.

Lancaster County Wedding Reception Venue | Ask About Noise Restrictions

Ask About Noise Restrictions, Or You May Have To Stop The Party Early

I posted recently about sparkler exits, but if the venue says they’re a fire hazard, you may not be able to use them. It would be such a shame to plan your big exit, only to have to cancel it because of your venue’s rules! That’s why it’s important to compile a list of interview questions to ask each wedding reception venue.

Images courtesy of A.M. Kuchling and Udey Ismail.

Wedding exits in style


Still no plug in for Wordpress and Windows 8 - but that's another post.

We were busy doing a sparkler exit the other day and I realized... if I weren't here, if my staff weren't here, this would be chaotic! So please when you are busy planning your event be sure that the small details aren't overlooked. Here's what you'll need: 1. Be sure to place the sparklers in something pretty... that goes for the matches too. 2. Buy the largest sparklers you can find. The life of a sparkler is very quick! 3. EVERYONE needs matches. 4. Make sure there is someone there lining up your guests. 5. Be sure someone has extra sparklers for the duds and people that have changed their minds! 6. Know what you're going to do after you exit! Are you going to kiss? Are you going back through? Are you getting in a car? Know the logistics. 7. After the sparklers are out have someone there with a bucket of water to douse your sparklers in. 8. Have someone there with a broom and dustpan. There is bound to be someone that's messy.

That's it... now go out and enjoy a fabulous exit!!

Receptions and Reception Timelines

First and foremost... my apologies for my lack of postings but this time I have a great excuse! Seems that Windows 8 and wordpress are not compatible. The times that I sit with my laptop are the times that I have a brainstorm and would like to post something fabulous to my blog. However, I have windows 8 on my laptop. So until Wordpress adds a plug in I won't be posting. Unless of course it's on a rare occasion that I'm in the office, sitting behind my desk, no interruptions and have a great idea ... all in the order and simultaneously! perfect-settings-time.jpg

This content was originally taken from Here are some valuable tips for your Reception Day Timeline. 1. Not Scheduling Enough Time for Hair & Make-Up When your hair and make-up team tell you what time they’ll need to start hair and make-up on the morning of your wedding, you’ll probably think they’re crazy. But you should trust them when they tell you how much time they will need. Believe us, you would much rather have too much time with them then not enough. In order to relieve some of that wedding morning stress, have the hair and make-up team come to your house or hotel room the morning of the wedding if possible. It takes away the stress of traveling to or from the salon and allows your bridesmaids to immediately get into their dresses when their hair/make-up is done if need be.

Your first instinct is to think you should go last with hair and make-up. Ignore this instinct. Your hair and make-up might take the longest and, let’s be honest, it’s the most important. So be sure to go first or second (especially if you have a large bridal party). Don’t worry, the hair and make-up team will stick around to do finishing touches before you leave the salon or after you put dress on if they’re at your hotel. Plus, going first gives you the opportunity to actually drink that mimosa and relax with your girls instead of stressing about whether or not there is enough time to do your up-do. Also, be sure to tell all of your bridesmaids exactly how much their hair and make-up will cost. You’d be surprised how much time can be wasted with bridesmaids scrambling around looking for extra cash or their checkbooks. More than likely, they’re expecting to pay for this themselves, just be up front with them and you’ll definitely save yourself time and stress.

2. Attending Your Final Dress Fitting Alone This may seem like a small detail, but you’d be surprised how much time it can take to get you into your dress. Dresses can be complicated – buttons, lace-up backs – and your mom and/or bridesmaids will probably need some insight from your seamstress about how exactly to get you into it. If you go by yourself (or with someone who will not be there on the morning of your wedding day), even if you try to take notes and remember exactly what you were told at the shop, it’s still going to be difficult to explain. So, bring along your mother, your sister, your maid of honor, all your girls if you want to. Make sure they know not only how to get you into your dress but also how to bustle it if there is a train. And, if your dress has buttons all the way down, head over to the craft store and get a crochet hook to help with those notoriously small button holes that can be a challenge for newly-manicured fingers to button alone.

3. Not Having Everyone Get Dressed Early Enough When should your bridesmaids get dressed? Before you do. What about your mother and father? Same answer. Ideally, about half an hour before you do. Why? So that when they are gathered around while you’re getting your dress buttoned/zippered, they’re not in their jeans and tank tops in pictures. So that when you father sees you for the first time in your dress the photographer can capture Dad’s reaction while he’s looking his best. And, most importantly, so that once your ready everyone else is too and you can jump right into picture time.

4. Too Much Distance Too much time between where you want to get ready and the ceremony location: You have probably dreamed of getting ready for your wedding in childhood bedroom since you were a little girl. Most of the time, this is totally possible since the church or ceremony location is close to your parent’s house. But if it’s a long distance (an hour or more), it’s not always worth the time and stress to travel on the morning of your wedding day. Between traffic and the added time and expense to transport you and your girls, you’ll probably be wishing you had decided to get ready at a reception facility or the church. Save yourself the stress, get ready in a place near the ceremony.

Too much distance between the ceremony location and the reception location: This stresses everyone out – you as the couple, the guests and your vendors. There’s no doubt that you have found the most beautiful places for both of the events of your day, but do your best to make sure they are not over an hour’s drive away from one another. This is especially true if it’s important to you to have your guests attend both the ceremony and the reception since many will opt out of the ceremony if there’s such a long drive in between. Even for those who do attend both, the distance can really bring down everyone’s energy level and make the day seem too long.

5. Not Planning Out Time for Family Pictures Family pictures are important. Your wedding day is probably one of the few times in your life that you will have this particular group of family all in the same place at the same time. You definitely want to get photos of them all together. That being said, as you probably know from many family parties, gathering everyone together can be a challenge if it’s not planned out. So, how do you avoid the chaos? First, decide how large you want the groups to be (just immediate family? aunts and uncles? all of the cousins?) Then, let them all know ahead of time (at the rehearsal dinner or the week before the wedding) when and where the family photos will be taken. We recommend scheduling this immediately following the ceremony if you’re not doing a “First Look” and about an hour before the ceremony begins if you are. This way, family members look their best (pre-partying) and it saves the trouble of having to round all your family members up once the reception begins, which can be a difficult task. Lastly, select a few close family members (preferably ones that don’t also happen to be in the wedding party), to help round up the family on the day so that you don’t have to. Also, if you have a particularly large or diverse family, don’t be afraid to make a list and give it to us. That way we can even rattle off the names of the family members you would like in the picture to make sure they are all there, know all the groupings you would like and make sure that you don’t forget that important picture you wanted with your godmother.

6. Cutting it Too Close with the Limos Limos can be expensive, especially when you’re probably paying by the hour. So your instinct might be try to cut back and avoid paying an extra hour, praying that it will work out. How ever much you may think you’re going to save by cutting it close, it’s not worth it. You don’t want to be in the back of your limo starring at the clock and wondering if you’re going to have to find cash to give the limo driver if you end up going ten minutes over time.

7. Not Scheduling Time to Mingle With Your Guests It’s a scenario we have seen far too often at weddings we have attended as guests ourselves: a bride starring longingly at the dance floor knowing she won’t have much time for dancing because she has to go table-to-table and talk to her guests all night long. This is almost always because she didn’t schedule enough time to greet her guests earlier in the day, by doing a receiving line and/or join her guests for cocktail hour. Instead, her first chance to talk with her guests is during dinner or once the dance floor opens up, leaving her with little to no time to get out and dance with her new husband beyond the first dance. Of course, you want to see your guests and thank them for coming to celebrate with you but if you make sure that the reception is not the first time they get to talk to you, you’ll save yourself the frustration of hearing your favorite song and not getting to show off your moves on the dance floor.

8. Too Little Time Between the Ceremony and the Reception This is probably the biggest and, unfortunately, most common mistake brides and grooms make. We know what you’re probably thinking, “I can’t do that to my guests! What are they going to do during that three hours between?” Two things: first, you’re probably overestimating how much time is between. The average ceremony is about an hour long and if you’re doing a receiving line*, that usually takes up at least another 20-30 minutes. Then you factor in the time it takes to travel, whether or not your guests have to check in to a hotel, etc. and you’d probably be surprised that the amount of time they’ll have in between is probably far less than you originally thought. Secondly, most guests don’t really mind. If they have attended a lot of weddings in the last few years, they’ve probably gotten used to having time to kill. Plus, a lot of the women will use this chance to wear something less dressy for the ceremony and then glam up a bit for the reception. Most importantly, having ample time between gives you the opportunity to get tons of pictures and even select an additional location (besides the church or reception venue) to go for pictures if you would like. It’s a great way to have fun with your wedding party and even have some quiet moments for just the two of you before the party gets started.

* A small side-note about receiving lines. We know a lot of photographers are against them. They can be a great way for you to get to greet your guests and give them a chance to congratulate and hug you (leaving you with more time to dance at the reception rather than having to spend so much time at each table of guests.) So then why are they sore spot for photographers? Because they make jobs incredibly difficult when there isn’t enough time scheduled for taking pictures. When a bride and groom have only scheduled an hour between the ceremony and reception and the receiving line has taken up 30 minutes of that time, the photographer is still expected to create just as many amazing pictures, but now in half the time. So if you want to do one, go for it. Just make sure you have plenty of time between to ensure that you won’t have to be rushed, and neither will your photographer. And if you don’t want to do one, that’s fine too. Just be sure to include a note in your ceremony program or have your officiant announce it. Otherwise your guests will be waiting outside the church for you and end up stopping you to chat anyway.

9. Not Doing a “First Look” They’re become more popular, but there are still a lot of couples that shy away from seeing one another before the ceremony. We totally understand your apprehension. You’re thinking that if you see one another before the ceremony it will be less emotional when you walk down the aisle. Not true. A lot of our couples have done ”First Looks” and we can say with complete certainty that we have never seen the couple less emotional when they see each other walking down the aisle. It’s usually exactly the opposite. When they see each other during the “First Look” it’s usually teary-eyed about how amazing they both look, how amazed they are that the day has finally arrived. Then when they see each other during the ceremony, the tears start to flow, each of them realizing that the walk down the aisle means that this is all actually happening: they are about to be married. How could you not get emotional?

“First Looks” should especially be considered if you’re in any of the following situations:

Your Ceremony and Reception are at the Same Location Why? Because you have probably picked a gorgeous location that is perfect for both events of your day and you want to be able actually enjoy the grounds as much as your guests, soaking in the views while you stroll around sipping champagne. When the ceremony and reception are at the same place, the end of the ceremony is inevitably going to flow directly into cocktail hour. Your guests have no where else to go and your venue is going to want to keep them entertained. The idea of leaving all of your guests right after the ceremony to head off for pictures will probably seem incredibly difficult.Even more, leaving yourself with only an hour to do all the pictures of the two of you,your family and your wedding party is WAY too tight. So, if you see each other before the ceremony you can take the majority of your pictures (possibly even all of your family and wedding party pictures) ahead of time, leaving you will plenty of time to greet your guests and actually eat some of that delicious cocktail hour food. Of course, if you want to grab a few shots directly after your ceremony you can do that too. But getting most of the pictures done beforehand is a great way to ensure that you will have that same relaxing experience as all of your guests.

You Don’t Want a Large Gap of Time Between the Ceremony and the Reception If the idea of having two or three hours between the end of your ceremony and the start of cocktail hour is way too much for you, you don’t have to do it. But you’re probably still going to want amazing pictures and the best way to make this possible is to give your photographers the time they need to make that happen. Most photographers will say they need about an hour minimum to photograph the bride and groom and wedding party and then about 30 minutes for family photos (depending on the size of the family). If you do the first look, you can schedule all that time before your guests even arrive at the church making sure the time in between the end of the ceremony and cocktail can be much shorter, without jeopardizing any time for photos.

You’re Getting Married Before Daylight Savings Begins or After it Ends and You Want Pictures Outside Why? One word: light. It’s the photographer’s best friend. Let’s say you’re getting married November 12, one week after daylight savings time ends. Sunset for that day is scheduled to be about 4:45pm. Your ceremony is supposed to start at 3pm and end at 4pm. That leaves you with about 45 minutes of daylight for pictures, assuming you don’t do a receiving line and jump right into taking pictures the minute the ceremony ends. Again, WAY too tight. If you do a “First Look,” you can select a location for your pictures, gather together your wedding party (and even family if you would like) and ensure that your Fall wedding still has plenty of pictures with the foliage even if the sun sets a bit earlier than it did a few weeks before.

10. Failing to Give Yourself a “Cushion” Ask just about any of your married friends or wedding vendors and they’ll almost all agree that weddings hardly ever start on time no matter how well you plan. Believe it or not, that doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Not if you make sure to have some extra time scheduled throughout your day. By padding your schedule a bit you won’t have to stress if your ceremony starts ten minutes late or if your priest’s homily goes on way longer than you anticipated. You won’t have to cut short a conversation with your favorite cousin because you have to jump in the limo you only have for twenty more minutes.

This is your wedding day, a day you only get to live once and you definitely want to savor each and every moment. So why not schedule time to ensure that you will have extra moments? Time when you can just sit back, relax and soak it all in. We even suggest that couples set aside some time for just the two of you, time to just enjoy officially being husband and wife. Believe us, you’ll be very glad that you did.

10 things to do before you get married.

In David Letterman style. 10: Confess your most hated possession of the other's and agree to donate both.

9: Screen your calls from your "wedding-planner" parents and friends.

8. Burp (or any other bodily function). It happens and you better just get over it already.

7. Toss your ex memorabilia.

6: Give each other foot massages.

5. Recreate your first date.

4: Write funny fake wedding vows and practice them. Like: I promise not to roll my eyes while you play your favorite Xbox game.

3: Spontaneously call in sick and spend the day together.

2. Practice your first kiss as man and wife.

AND the number one thing to do before you get married? ... drum roll...

1. Read the inscriptions from your high school yearbooks.

Now... fight nice.

To smash or not to smash...

That there, folks is the question!! There she was... a crying bride, blowing her nose as icing came out. True story. I can't imagine having the person that I vowed to spend the rest of my life with shoving icing down my nostrils. This, folks, is NOT charming... it's not cute... and more importantly... it's not respectable. I can see a little icing on the tip of his/her nose. I can see a cutesy finger of icing across his/her lips. I get it. What I don't get is the vicious smashing. I had a caterer once tell me that at his restaurant he charged extra for vicious cake smashings. I can see why. Cake icing eats the varnish off the hardwood floors. So if "to smash" is your answer please be respectful. There is a room full of paparazzi and they are documenting your time at your reception. The one thing you don't want people to remember about your wedding is; "did you see how violent they got with the cake cutting?" And believe it, your brand new spouse doesn't want to be the one at the receiving end. NO ONE wants to see it.


photo credit: Scobey Photo

And where are they now?

I recently found a manilla envelope in a desk drawer. When I opened it I realized that the contents came from a wedding show. The show was 8 years ago. 8 SHORT years ago. There was a stack of 53 vendors that I met that day. More than three quarters of those vendors are no longer in business today.I know I sound like a broken record but seriously... be sure that you're checking out your vendors and that they have deep roots. If more than one professional says "Hmm... I never heard of that photographer" do take heed. You may be headed toward a very upsetting and frustrating relationship with said photographer. Cheaper is not always better... and never forget you get what you pay for.

Self catered weddings

unhappy-bride.jpg Well, in actuality they're not "self catered" ... you know them..... they're the weddings where the bride and groom belong to a church and all of a sudden everyone wants to show the love. EVERYONE will be cooking something for your wedding because they're sooooo happy for you and the boo!! Ok... here's the thing... I totally get the excitement. I do. But when you have 10-12 church ladies cooking "something" for 100 people you're going to end up with enough food for 700 people! Add to that the fact that there's no real menu. Now you have enough food for 700 that looks like a church picnic. Trust me on this one. You won't be happy and neither will your hungry guests. But the most unhappy soul? That would be the "caterer" - that's the lady who caters at your church and is usually in charge of the kitchen at church functions. She's going to be frustrated and drained trying to "cater" your wedding. People will be asking her for things that she knows nothing about. (I have to add that the venue owner will be pulling out the little hair that she has left on her head, too.) There's a simple fix to this. Organization! Plan a menu, delegate said menu, delegate the dishes, trays and platters. You'll be happier. How can you be happiest you ask? I'm so happy that you did! This is so VERY EASY... hire a professional. Someone who does this week in and week out. Someone who is trained to address the worst of catastrophes. Pay them the dues that they sooo deserve. It's a tough, tough job and our caterers do it very well. They truly are worth their weight in hot potatoes!!


*photos courtesy of

Warm fuzzies...

I just LOVE getting notes like this.... Daisy

I just wanted to tell you how wonderful it was to have our daughter's reception at Perfect Settings. I would recommend PS to anyone - and I know it has such a classy elegant feel to it but really, it's you who made all the difference. You helped us (Erica) keep things organized, reminded us of things we never thought of, and went out of your way to make this a perfect day for Zach and Erica. Whenever something needed done, it just seems you "appeared" :). You really are very good at what you do.

I'm so glad I took the time to come and look at your building. It really was just "perfect" for what we needed.

It really is your professionalism that stands out and we got many compliments.

Take care, DH

*sigh* Carry on...