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Over the last few years destination weddings have definitely been on the rise. From tropical islands to snow-capped mountains – couples are getting creative and taking the show on the road. I decided to write this post to give a few tips to help you save money, avoid common mistakes and enjoy your destination wedding. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

 

1. Think like you’re buying a house, it’s all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! For example, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds married in the charming southern town of Charleston, South Carolina. Known for its southern charm they chose the beautiful Boone Hall Plantation as their wedding venue. The historic “Avenue of Oaks”, a 3/4 mile long entrance to the house nestled between live oaks planted in 1743, welcomes guests as they travel up the drive to the property.

The historic “Avenue of Oaks”, a 3/4 mile long entrance to the house nestled between live oaks planted in 1743, welcomes guests as they travel up the drive to the property. Set behind the ornate gates is a Colonial Revival plantation house and sprawling gardens original to the property. Pick the location that best allows you to take advantage of the destination’s natural beauty.

 

 

2. Get married before you go! This might sound strange but it will save you time and money. Every destination has a specific set of rules surrounding how long you must be a resident before marrying. Filing your paperwork locally will eliminate having to spend money on the front end for extra nights and costs associated with traveling to government offices. Just make sure that you don’t change your name before your trip to avoid hassles while traveling. All of your travel documents must show the same name.

3. Most resorts have a person responsible for group accommodations. However, you should also make sure they have someone available to you who specializes in weddings. Ask the resort what services their planner is able to provide, their experience with weddings, if they have relationships with reputable local vendors and if there is a designated contact person for you and your guests. Doing so will help to eliminate unforeseen expenses and save you the expense of having to hire a wedding planner at the last minute.

4. Research your destination’s weather and local calendar of events before booking your date. Many destinations experience severe weather such as hurricanes and earthquakes during certain times of the year. Before booking, check a weather almanac to see what seasonal weather patterns the destination experiences so that you are not walking into a disaster, literally. You also want to be sure that you avoid peak tourists’ seasons. A wedding in Cancun, Mexico during Spring Break is a really bad idea unless wet t-shirt contests are your thing.

5. Purchase travel insurance. I always recommend travel insurance for my brides having destination weddings and those traveling for their honeymoons. Every wedding is an investment more so if you have a destination wedding. Wedding insurance protects this investment throughout each phase of planning, travel and the event. It is best to obtain insurance from the start of your planning. The cost of your insurance policy is dependent on what is being covered; if any of your vendors are uninsured it is also in your best interest to include them in the policy as well.

6. If you are traveling to a foreign country make sure you educate yourself on their entry requirements. A passport is now required for entry into most foreign countries. Check the U.S. Government’s travel website for entry requirements and any travel alerts for your destination.

7. Be kind to your guests. Give guests lots of time to plan and pay for the trip. Secure a group rate and provide several options for accommodations at all price points so every budget has an option to consider. Also, pick a location that has a little something for each of your guests.

When researching pay close attention to excursions offered, fine dining choices, spa services and kid friendly activities if you are allowing children. Finally, if your budget allows you to do so, host a welcome dinner or a group excursion to thank your guests for traveling to your wedding. Just be careful to not pack their schedule full of activities, they want to explore too! 

 

And finally, loosen up and have fun. The beauty in choosing a destination wedding is that there are no rules. Have fun with your décor choices and encourage guests to embrace and enjoy the local culture.

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I have a confession… I love reality TV!!!

Ok, maybe that is not a confession more like an admission. Haha. I don’t always have the time to watch my favorite shows but Instagram, youtube and Facebook keep me up to date on the latest happenings in the reality TV world. I will try to bring you posts each week centered around engagements, weddings and relationships in the reality TV world. Which brings me to this edition of reality Tea.V.

I’m a 90’s girl. I remember singing all of Xscape’s songs and emulating their dance moves on Video Soul. I’m really dating myself here… Tiny was my favorite member of the group and sang lead on my favorite Xscape song, “Understanding“. After Xscape Tiny went on to be an award winning song writer, Mom and wife to rapper T.I. Recently they began starring in a show centered around their family life and business on VH1 – T.I. & Tiny “The Family Hustle.” Although all has been painted as well during this current season, things are definitely not well between the couple.

In case you haven’t been following the drama, it seems that T.I. & Tiny’s marriage is on the rocks. They promoted this latest season separately and neither have been wearing their wedding rings. T.I. even got into an altercation with Floyd Mayweather (yes, the boxing champ) because he suspected Pretty Boy Floyd of flirting with Tiny. Throw in some major shade on Instagram and Twitter and you have a recipe for disaster.

Social media is the absolute worst place to vent about your relationship. Not only is everything you post online there forever, you are also allowing hundreds, in their case millions, of people access to your relationship. Doing so strips you of the ability to work through your rough patch without the inconvenience of the dreaded outside opinion.

I give my clients the very same advice about social media while wedding planning. “Limit what you post on social media about your wedding.” I encourage them to solicit opinions; but only from a very few close friends and family, not their entire friends’ list. Limiting your wedding related posts on social media also helps avoid the awkward invitation requests from people you haven’t spoken to since Xscape had a hit record. Additionally, you want people to be excited for your wedding so save the details of your wedding for the big day.

Like makeup – less is more on social media.

So tell me, do you use social media to vent about your spouse? Is social media a yay or a nay while wedding planning? Did you sing “Understanding” in your school talent show too?

xoxo, LO

 

 

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Location is everything. Saying goodbye to my first home and hello to my Suite home.

A little over a year ago I rented a cute office in the heart of Downtown New Britain. It was close to my home, cheap and in a very secure building. I thought,”Bingo! This is the perfect space for me.” Without giving any thought to if the location was ideal for potential clients and if my business fit with the rest of the businesses housed in the building, I signed a lease and began transforming the space. I quickly began to realize that like real estate, location is key.

We share the building with lawyers and a bail bondsman. While they are very busy the building’s visitors are not exactly people interested in weddings and events. No shade, it’s the truth. The building also recently installed a parking meter in the lot which became a huge inconvenience for my clients. Many times when we would mention our New Britain location, clients would become hesitant to visit because New Britain didn’t paint a good image in their minds or it was out of the way for them. I would reassure them it was safe and explain that I live in New Britain and had nothing but good experiences. Some would make the trek to see us while others insisted I came to them. As I began my rebrand I realized that my location was contributing to my business’ identity crisis. I contacted a Realtor and began touring other spaces to see if I could find a better fit for Lauren O. I fell in love with a few spaces but I could never truly commit and sign the lease.

One evening during a meeting for WIM, a women’s networking group I co-founded with my two friends Ashley and Stephanie. I sat talking about my rebrand and desire to find a new home for Lauren O. As usual they allowed me to vent and offered their support and guidance. They told me to be patient and shared with me their experiences with relocating their businesses.

The very next day Ashley called me and told me she had the perfect space for Lauren O. The beautique for young girls that she owns, Little Ms. Bella, was going through a restructure and the space on the first floor of the building she was leasing was soon to be vacant. The upstairs would continue to be used for Bella birthdays and as a suite for her traveling hair and makeup company, Beauty Entourage, but the first floor was all mine if I was interested. I immediately jumped at the offer. Not only was it a great location but the other businesses fit perfectly with my business. Oh, and the parking is free! *happy dance* I talked it over with Sean and after some careful consideration and prayer, we both agreed that it was the right move at the right time with the right person.

As of September 1st, Lauren O Events’ new home will be located at Suite Bella in beautiful Farmington, Connecticut. The Suite will also be home to award winning traveling hair and makeup team, Beauty Entourage and Little Ms. Bella Beautique, a full service salon for young girls. While we are three independent businesses we perfectly compliment each other’s brand.

Suite Bella is chic, modern and tailored to providing an exclusive and intimate experience for my clients. The first floor will be a lounge area perfectly suited for consultations as well as a dedicated office space for me. Upstairs will be the Beauty Entourage Suite dedicated to beauty and pampering. We begin transforming the space in a few weeks. I will share pictures of the space as we complete it. I am so excited for this next chapter of Lauren O Events. I can’t wait to share it with you all!

 

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Goodbye Luxe Event Planning and hello Lauren O Events! I can’t believe 2014 is more than half over. Although it’s been very quiet on the blog and even quieter on Facebook. We are back with a new look and location!! Read on to see our new look and find out all the exciting details of our new home on tomorrow’s blog post.

When I launched Luxe Event Planning in 2012 I had no idea about branding, marketing or what an ideal client was. I knew I wanted to plan events and figured that would be all I need. Boy was I wrong, dead wrong! In the world of weddings there is competition, very fierce, very established, and highly recognizable competition. In order to turn your passion into profit, you have to clearly define what makes you special and have a strong brand that truly represents who you are as a person. That is what allows people to connect with your business and ultimately book you over someone else. Defining your brand also helps you clearly identity your ideal client.

As 2013 wore on and I failed to close lead after lead (I’m being honest y’all, I heard so many no thank yous from brides in 2013 that I was ready to close up shop) I began thinking about my business and questioning – “Does this brand really represent who I am?” The answer was no.That was a defining moment for me. I cried, I got angry and then I got my ish together and decided to put it all out there. People would get all of me – the split personality Gemini, the girl from the North End of Hartford who replaces the ER on words with an A (I say Heatha, lol), the conservative girl who likes the trends but knows she looks best in a classic black dress, the comedian, the God fearing woman, Sean’s wife, and Evan’s Mom. For the first time in my life, I am exposed and I kinda like it.

I chose Golden Fox Designs to handle the rebrand of my company because their designs married the classic with the trendy. I wanted a company that understood me and right away…they did!

In my questionnaire I explained myself this way:

“I love a perfectly tailored dress, makeup, big hair, stilettos, purses and sparkle. But I also have an edge, I like big gold earring hoops, rap music and trashy reality TV. I am a Gemini, I am an extrovert, and I stand out. I like to be the center of attention and I haven’t met a person that I couldn’t engage in a conversation. I want the website to capture that. I want Lauren O. Events to reflect who I am. I’m glamorous, I’m feminine but strong and I’m classic but edgy. I want to attract customers who appreciate and recognize good style without compromise. I want to attract customers who are tired of chevron and burlap and want elegance and shine.”

When that didn’t scare them off, I knew we were the perfect match. lol I began the rebrand in February of 2014 and after many late nights and endless back and forth emails, she is finally complete!!! I am so in love with this brand. That beautiful logo is a replica of my fancy signature. Purple is my favorite color and gold is my favorite metallic. Everyone knows that I am born on the same day and year as Prince William, and if you don’t know now you know *in my Notorious B.I.G. voice*. The crown is my way of representing my royal lineage. Wills and I are very, very distant cousins…

I hope you all fall in love with the brand as much as I have and refer me to your peeps. Sorry, not sorry. Take your time and click around on the website. It’s about 90% done, I’m still adding pictures here and there. Enjoy the new look and take these last few months of the year to focus on being authentically you!! Gold hoop earrings and all!

 

Ladies and gentleman I give you Lauren O Events!!!

GoldenFoxDesign-Lauren-O-Events-Brand-Mood-Board

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