July 03, 2011

Wedding Planner NJ - A Grand Time

It's not just weddings and showers that can be fun, festive times, but the launch of a new business can be quite exciting too.

A little more than a year ago I launched Coming Together Events as a full-time business after a decade's worth of helping family, friends, and even retail giants plan and rollout parties, events, and designer fashion lines. So when I got the chance to help another local small businesswoman launch her own business, I jumped at the chance.

Rosie is the owner of Star-Fish Seafood & More, a seafood restaurant and catering service in Teaneck, New Jersey. Originally from New York, Rosie came to New Jersey looking for opportunity to make her mark on the world of dining and her new restaurant is the culmination of that search.

The launch was something of a challenge as Coming Together Events had just one week to prepare for the Grand Opening. We secured metal stanchions and velvet ropes, balloons, big ceremony scissors, and ribbon for the all-important ribbon-cutting ceremony. But the biggest challenge was the "red carpet" treatment. Well, blue carpet really, since that was in line with Rosie's color scheme.

It was a last-minute decision to create an exciting backdrop where photos could be taken at the grand opening, just as would occur at a movie premiere or the Academy Awards. We contacted several sign vendors and settled on local graphics shop Majestic Signs, which promised us not only high quality materials, but the key 24-hour turnaround time. They came through in spades! We picked up our sign on the way to prep the restaurant for its debut.

Despite the threat of showers (which thankfully held off), the Grand Opening went off without a hitch. Local dignitaries were invited, there was a live band providing entertainment, and of course, there was Rosie's delicious seafood as the main attraction.

There's nothing fishy here. Check out Star-Fish Seafood & More for yourself. They describe themselves as a seafood soul food restaurant, but what they really are is delicious! Located at 265 DeGraw Ave. Teaneck, give them a call at (201) 801-9174. Reservations are not required but always appreciated.

March 16, 2011

Wedding Planner NJ - Tempest in a Royal Teacup

Who's getting married again? How could the royal wedding planner get this one wrong? While Prince William and Prince Harry are brothers, it's only William that's betrothed to Kate Middleton. Yet a commemorative mug designed to celebrate their approaching nuptials features the mug of Harry next to Kate on the mug.

Of course, the mug isn't a product of the royal family, but one of a growing legion of unofficial trinkets being sold to cash in on the excitement and anticipation of the marriage. Still, if you're going to put out a royal souvenir, you're best advised to make sure you've at least got the right couple.

March 13, 2011

NJ Wedding Planner - Hong Kong McWeddings: I'm Lovin' It!

It's easy to confuse "My Big Redneck Wedding" with a McDonald's wedding package, but other than the incongruity of holding a wedding ceremony under the Golden Arches, there's nothing similar to it and the tractor pulls featured on the TV show.

Apparently wedding ceremonies in Hong Kong aren't the same as those here in the U.S. It was only in 2006 that the government there allowed a marriage to take place in a secular location. But since such out of the ordinary locales were permitted, unique settings have been popping up and the fast food burger chain is just the latest example.

McDonald's "Warm and Sweet" wedding package, which goes for HK$9,999 (or $1,283 in U.S. dollars at current exchange rates) includes renting the restaurant for two hours, 50 invitations, and up to $385 in food. Couples can provide guests with McDonald's characters like Ronald McDonald, Grimace, and the Hamburglar as wedding favors. And you can't beat the Double Apple Pie box "cake" display!

According to Time magazine, the average traditional wedding in Hong Kong starts at around $38,000 (compared that to $25,000 or so in the U.S.). A McDonald's wedding therefore makes for a more affordable and intimate -- if somewhat offbeat -- affair.

Anything that encourages couples to get married means I'm lovin' it!

March 09, 2011

Wedding Planner NJ - Do Me a Favor!

Wedding favors as a custom seem to have come full circle. With a centuries long history, they were originally handed out by the wealthy who had the means to bestow such gifts. Called "bonbonnieres," they were small trinket boxes made of crystal, porcelain, or precious and semi-precious stones. Inside were sugar cubes or other tasty confections!

Almond joy
People of lesser means, but using simpler tokens of appreciation, subsequently adopted the custom. It evolved into a gift of Jordan almonds that were then sugar coated and called "confetti." The bitter taste of the almond mixed with the sweet taste of the sugar was meant to symbolize the bittersweet realities of marriage.

Today it seems we've returned to lavishness, trying to outdo each other in the elaborateness of the favor.

And that has led to a backlash of sorts causing people to ask, do we even need to give favors anymore?

While tradition says we have to give a gift, and many times it means following a rote path that others have taken before, nothing requires us to actually do so. However, we are celebrating a unique time in our lives and providing a small favor to our friends and family to remember this occasion is a simple gesture of goodwill.

Are you nuts?
While I remember getting small fabric-wrapped almonds at almost every wedding I went to when I was young, today people seem to give everything but almonds. Regardless of whether it was three or five Jordan almonds, the symbolism was the same: fertility, longevity, wealth, health, and happiness. The odd number of almonds also had meaning. Not being easily divisible, it represented the difficulty in dividing those newly joined in marriage.

Today, anything goes! Small bottles of wine or champagne (or hot sauce even!), personalized glasses, small crystal trinkets, silver spoons, and more are handed out. Wedding favors come in varying price points too, from less than $1 to more than several dollars a piece.

You don't have to spend a fortune, and the wedding planners at Coming Together Events recommend you don't. You can find many unique, memorable gifts on the Internet today and not pay a king's ransom to get them. Monogrammed glass candy jars, for example, can be bought in bulk and had for well under $1 each. Personalized soap squares, complete with box and ribbons, can be purchased too. One-of-a-kind candy tins, gourmet coffee packets or tea bags, candles, shot glasses, and more are available, and all for below $1 each.

At my own wedding, we gave personalized M&Ms in small silver boxes.

A NJ Wedding Planner's Bottom Line
Today there are so many options that you're really only limited by your imagination. Think of something that represents who you are and would say something about you. That way when the wedding is over and your guests are back home and they reach for the favor you've given them, they'll remember you fondly and perhaps wish you good cheer.

After all, that is what a wedding favor is for. Good luck!

February 22, 2011

Wedding Planner NJ - A Bouncing Baby Shower!

Michelle's baby shower at the Mountainside Inn in Clifton was a "rockin'" good time as momma-to-be was surprised by around 80 family members and friends with a dinner, dancing, and well-wishes all around.

Arranged by her mom Nilda, planning entailed finding a suitable location that would accommodate the planned festivities, which included for entertainment a DJ, dancing, and some fun games. While all the popular music hits got people up on the dance floor, what really had the crowd moving their hips, however, were the sweet sounds of "Sweet Mother," sometimes called Africa's anthem.

 Prince Nico Mbarga - Sweet Mother .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

The "Left-Right" game had people laughing as a token was passed around the tables following the harried adventures of Mr. & Mrs. Wrights as they made their way to the maternity ward. The guests that were left holding the token at the end were declared the game's winners and received a small prize. The "Baby Bottle" game -- where guests drank a beverage of their choice from a baby bottle without using their hands -- also left the crowd cheering!

Of course, no baby shower would be complete without the expectant mother seated in her rocking chair opening gifts. From hand-made receiving blankets and toy chests that resemble baby building blocks, to strollers, rattles, and plenty of diapers (check out the three-tier diaper cake!), Baby Olivia will be warm and cuddly wherever she goes

February 12, 2011

Wedding Planner NJ - Google Weddings Site

It's not going to replace The Knot anytime soon, but search engine king Google just launched Google Weddings that gives brides-to-be a nice, simple platform to create a wedding site, share announcements and photos, and yes, plan your wedding.

The interface of Google Weddings is very clean and simple, just like its search engines. Created with input from wedding planner Michelle Rago and the gorgeous site of wedding planning ideas Style Me Pretty, visitors are offered four main choices: creating a wedding website on Google Sites; editing photos and creating announcements; a gateway to Google Docs for planning worksheets; and a portal to Picasa, Google's photo sharing web platform.

As a New Jersey wedding planner, I think this is a great tool for couples, though I didn't find the planning guide initially to be as intuitive as the simplicity of the rest of the site suggests it would be. Clicking on the first link "Wedding Planner" takes you to a rather ugly spreadsheet that gives couples tips on how to proceed with their plan, such as starting with your guest list. You then have to back out of the page and head to the other links to get to the various other spreadsheets for the address book, budget, music, etc. Again, these are Google Docs, so they're not so stylish.

You also have the opportunity to enter to win a $25,000 dream wedding designed by Michelle. That's, of course, around the average cost of a wedding these days, but couples shouldn't pass up the opportunity of having their wedding costs defrayed.

I plan on recommending my clients make full use of the site. Google Weddings is a great tool to use and I think it will help couples getting married to plan and keep their weddings on track and within budget.

While The Knot also offers many of the same tools, the site is, let's say "busy," so getting quickly to what you need isn't always a simple task. Google Weddings on the other hand gives couples the means of finding the items that means most to them right away.

February 02, 2011

Wedding Planner NJ - A Very Decent Proposal

Isn't that sweet? While no one really know how many people get proposed to on Valentine's Day, but according to one French study, the number of people popping the question in Paris on February 14th jumps 20-fold compared to any other day. Apparently it has to do with tourists whisking their loved ones away to the City of Love around that day and using the overwhelming power of the moment to propose.

Vegas, baby!
I think it might also have to do with stacking the odds in favor of getting a "yes." Yet according the the quite a few people runaway to Las Vegas to get married every year, though there's no hard and fast number on how many do so on Valentine's Day.

The number crunchers over at the U.S. Census Bureau say that more than 6,000 people a day, or 2.1 million people annually, got married in 2009 (how many of you hired a wedding planner?) with Las Vegas being the second most popular city in the world to do it in. Those 114,000 people tying the knot there placed second only to Instanbul, Turkey, which came in at No. 1 with 166,000. That might help explain why jewelry stores nationwide sold some $2.4 billion worth merchandise last February alone.

Love is in the air
So as we fast approach another Valentine's Day this year -- it officially became a Christian holiday in 496 A.D. -- we're likely to see yet another spate of marriage proposals being served up. But even if you're not jetting off to gay Paree or rolling the dice in Vegas, try to act surprised if your beau suddenly lands on one knee in front of you and asks you to be his Valentine forever.

After all, statistics also show that January is one of the top months for breakups, no doubt because Valentine's Day is right around the corner and who wants to break hearts then? So if you've made it through that cruel month with your relationship still intact, that can only mean your heart-shaped box may be filled with love yet.