Exotic Wedding Locations

tropical weddingEveryone is allowed to dream, and I’d like to exercise my right to dream right now by looking at some of the best exotic tropical wedding locations located near the US. While these amazing destinations are a little out of my reach as far wedding planning is concerned, if you do decide you’d like to go for a remote tropical destination I would recommend you at least visit the location first so you have a good idea of what you in for. And besides, it will give you a great excuse to have a relaxing holiday!

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Extreme Wedding Day Diets

skinny brideWhen your wedding day comes around there is no doubt that you want to look your best, and what I mean is the best you have ever looked in your life right? There will be hundreds of pictures taken from every angle on your wedding day and those pictures will be hanging on your wall for the rest of your life. So what are you prepared to do to get yourself into the best shape of your life? Eat some veggies and go for the occasional run? Sure that helps but if you’re like most girls out there, you will go to extreme lengths to make sure you look better than ever for one of the most important days of your life. I’m going to tell you something that not many people will tell you. I’ll tell you exactly what you need to and give you a few options to get you thinking.

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Family Escape to Paradise

Do you ever get the feeling that when you decide to take some time off for a short holiday all the things you have to get done before you leave can almost make the holiday not worth the effort? Well…. maybe not totally not worth the effort, but every time we plan to take a week or two out for a family vacation I find myself working so hard both before I leave and when I get back just to stay on top of everything.

kitchen faucet resort

Our Amazing Resort

The family and I just returned from a week out in sunny Cancun, Mexico. I love getting away around this time of the year because with the wedding season approaching it’s really the last window of opportunity I have to get away and take a break.

We’ve been to Cancun 3 times now and I’m never disappointed. This time we stayed at a beautiful resort on an island off the mainland called Isla Mujeres and it was absolutely stunning. We went for a 4 star resort this time and it turned out to be the nicest place I have ever stayed in. So nice in fact that I was already planning a bathroom renovation for our ensuite by day 3 of our holiday!

We did plenty of activities as we always do on our holidays, which on this occasion included snorkelling and riding around the island in a golf cart! Apart from that, it was about soaking in the sun on the beach and by the pool, eating good food and shopping in the local markets for some discount shoes and sunglasses.

I was so relaxed in fact that I created a spread sheet on my laptop and started hunting down ideas for our new bathroom. You may think I’m a little odd for doing this while on vacation but the ensuite we had was absolutely stunning and I was able to find the exact faucets that were used online here on this site, and although it’s actually a kitchen faucet, it will fit very nicely in our new ensuite.

After enjoying the sun and sand for 7 days and filling my head with visions of our grand new ensuite it was unfortunately back to the real world where family life and work has once again taken over, and the renovation dreams are fading away. I’ve already got a heap of upcoming projects to work on so it’s going to be a very busy summer for me but I’m happy to be doing what I love and I’m really looking forward to bringing as much joy as I possibly can to my clients on their wedding day.

Maybe I need to work on getting more international wedding gigs and including the travel expenses in my fees, although I’m not sure how I’ll manage to drag the family along. I don’t think it would be as fun hanging out on the beach and building sandcastles by myself, and I certainly wouldn’t be as excited to go shopping at the local markets if I couldn’t rush home to show my hubby all the new shoes and clothes he to carry home!

Quick Weight Loss Plus Steam Mop Adventure

Just the other day, Jennifer, an old friend of mine emailed me hysterically, claiming that she seemed to have suddenly gained some weight and could no longer fit into the same wedding dress we had purchased together just a few weeks before. Now, that definitely is a nightmare that all brides-to-be would rather it remains just that – a nightmare.

Jennifer wanted us to meet first thing the next day to thrash out this “nightmare” and I couldn’t agree more, after all, the wedding was exactly six days away. However my schedule for the whole week was all laid out and tight too, but it so happened that I needed to purchase a floor steam mop like yesterday and was actually reading some online reviews for the best steam mop when Jennifer emailed me. I called her immediately and I agreed to meet her early the following day, but only if she was willing to help me shop for the mop first. It seemed like a fair deal to me, I needed to find the best steam mop for tile floors so I could steam my tile floors properly.

new steam mop and happy bride

New steam mop and happy bride

We met up early as agreed, bought the mop and by 10 am, we were in our favorite coffee shop, sited across each other, heads bunched close together and sipping endless cups of coffee as we discussed Jennifer’s dilemma. The first issue we agreed on was that it was definitely too late and too expensive to start shopping for another gown. After an hour and a half, the only solution we had arrived and agreed at was that Jennifer had to lose some weight and lose it fast!

The only way to achieve this within 5 days or so was to lose her water weight, a temporary strategy but one that worked well nonetheless. Come her big day, Jennifer was able to fit into her dress beautifully and as I held her close right before she walked down the aisle, I couldn’t help wondering just how many brides-to-be suffer the same fate as my friend. It was then that I decided to share exactly how Jennifer lost a huge amount of water weight in just 5 days.

While it is true that these tips will work wonders for you, whether you need to fit into your wedding gown or to look good at any particular occasion, you MUST understand that losing water weight is just a temporary solution to an urgent dilemma, the only known way to lose actual weight permanently is through exercise and proper diet.

Quick Weight Loss Tips:

  • Ingest a lot of water- this is to help your kidneys flush out all the toxins and waste that are making you bloated and fat. Eight glassed daily should be enough.
  • Reduce your daily salt intake – too much salt only serves to encourage the kidneys to retain unnecessary water, leaving you feeling bloated and fat especially around the stomach area. Try to keep your daily salt intake to 1000mg and below.
  • Increase potassium and fiber intake – potassium encourages the kidneys to release water, toxins and other waste products. This reduces bloating, leaving you feeling fresh and weighing less. Nonetheless, do not over-consume fiber as it will only worsen your bloating.
  • Take lots of fruits and vegetables – they contain water, vitamin C and bioflavonoids that help flush out waste products, including trapped gas.
  • Yoghurt – natural yoghurt will encourage good bacteria to grow in your stomach, and this will reduce bloating and gas.
  • Caffeine – ingest a lot of coffee, tea, cola and other products that have caffeine as it has been known to help the body rid itself of excessive water.
  • Low carb diet- a diet that is very low in carbohydrates will also help you lose your water weight very fast.
  • Diuretics – also known as water pills, diuretics will reduce water-fill up easily. In spite of this, you should never take them without the supervision of a reputable doctor. This is because they can cause serious complications like liver failure, especially when taken along with ibuprofen and other common drugs.

A few days later as I admired my new steam machine, I couldn’t help wondering how Jennifer was doing in Paris where she and Tony, her husband had gone for their honeymoon.  One thing I was sure of though was that she could no longer fit into her wedding gown. This is because water weight tends to come back very fast, which is why fad diets and other quick weight loss strategies are not the best solution for excessive weight and obesity.

Fact or Fad? Yet Another Diet

Living in the US you would be very aware that there are a certainly no shortage of fad diets out there that that claim massive results. Recently a friend of mine jumped on board with one of these diets called the hcg diet. This diet basically involves eating very few calories (like around 500 a day) and then either inject yourself, or taking drops of a hormone called hcg, which stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. To be honest, at first it sounded a bit crazy to me (sorry misty) but the more I thought about it and saw my friends results, the more I saw the positive side.

I see so many brides, and some grooms also, going all out in the lead up to their wedding trying to lose as much weight as possible so they can have that perfect figure for their big day, and the mian thing I notice is that most hard core diets basically involve eating hardly any calories, no carbs and plenty of veggies. This hcg diet seem to be no different apart from the fact that you are injecting yourself with the hcg hormone.

HCG Diet Info

Image courtesy of www.hcgdietinfo.net

Now the really interesting thing to me is that regardless of the exact diet or strategy these would be wedding dieters follow, they all get very impressive results, which leads me to believe that the exact diet you follow doesn’t really matter, its more about just committing and sticking to a system. When you have committed to looking your best for your wedding, you really have no choice but to go for it, and by putting yourself under that pressure you almost force yourself to succeed.

I never showed my skepticism to my friend about taking on the hcg diet but now after seeing her early results I truly believe that if you just pick any method and stick to it you will see results fairly quickly. There is also something to be said about actually taking the leap of faith and buying into somethings also instead of just half heatedly browsing the internet for healthy recipes. I found a few sites that talk about the hcg diet and the hcg diet food list like hcg diet info, but it really comes down to just picking a program and sticking to it 100% until you either see some results or confirm that for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work for you.

So to sum it up, I’m really glad that I didn’t discourage my friend misty from attempting this particular weight loss method because it really doesn’t matter what other people think. She was ready to commit to getting back her hot figure and the hcg diet was simply the method she choose to achieve that goal.

Cleaning After a Home Wedding

I recently had the pleasure of planning and attending the wedding of my cousin Andrea and her now husband Ian in Naperville IL, near Chicago. While my usual wedding planning duties end once the day is over, on this occasion I stayed around for a few days to help clean up. This proved to be a monumental task and I have to send a very big thank you to the local carpet cleaner from Carpet Cleaning Pros that came and helped us restore Andrea’s parent’s house to its original state.

The wedding itself went very smoothly and while the ceremony was held in a traditional church, the reception was held in Andre’s mother and fathers home. The home was a large Greek style house with a large open area that backed onto the yard so the location was perfect. The only thing that was not perfect was the weather….

carpet cleaning napervilleWe had prepared well for any bad weather and we had a large temporary tent set up in the backyard and a covered walkway connecting the large tent to the house but we still couldn’t stop the place from turning into a disaster zone by the end of the evening. There were around 110 guests in total so no matter how hard you try, in a case like this, there is going to be some collateral damage.

There were mud stains in some areas of the carpet and on some rugs, and a few of the sofas had also been soiled. As you can image, we didn’t have time to perform any damage control on the carpets and rugs during the evening, and we didn’t even notice the stains on the sofas until the next morning.

We were lucky enough to get the guys from Carpet Cleaning pros to come out and spend an entire day at Andrea’s parent’s home, and they cleaned absolutely everything, including the tiles and grout. I have to admit that I was a little worried that some of the damage was going to be permanent and this made me nervous as I had recommended a home wedding to these guys because they were trying to save money for an extended European honeymoon. I could not help but feel that I was to blame for this mess, but in all my past experiences I had never seen so much damage to carpets, rugs and furniture as I did on this occasion.

This entire experience has taught me a few things about home weddings and the main learning I’ve taken from this event is that I will now recommend to anyone having a home wedding to think ahead and talk to a carpet and upholstery cleaner before the wedding event. We could have taken measures to protect the rugs and furniture from potential long term damage and the carpet cleaners had some suggestions for what we may have done if we’d thought ahead.

So in closing, if you are planning a home wedding, think about setting an appointment with a professional carpet cleaner to help you take precautionary measures to protect your carpet and furniture. Also book them in so they can come to your house and begin cleaning as soon as possible to avoid delays in restoring your home to its pre-wedding state.

Marketing Your Wedding Planning Business

referral marketingWhen you first start out it can a little overwhelming when you start to think about how to market your business, so in order to get you started there are few things you can do to get the ball rolling. Firstly, it’s worth noting that everything takes time and you should be prepared for a slow start but if you stick at it you can build you business up slowly into something much more than a part time gig.

In the beginning, I recommend focusing your goal on getting as many free consultations as possible and not so much on actually landing your first wedding gig. If you get out there and speak to enough people, some of them will convert into paying customers so just focus on filling your pipeline with consultation appoints and the rest will take care of itself.

To start with I recommend focusing on free or very cheap advertising, and the best free advertising is word of mouth. Use Facebook and networking with your friends and family to get your name out there. Be very persistent and keep onto people as often they will forget to push your name out there. When any of your friends speak to someone that recently got engaged you want them to immediately think of you and you want them to ask the person if they have a wedding planner or if they are interested in speaking with one (which is you of course).

Use flyers and put them up everywhere, and I really do mean everywhere. There are always notice boards all over the place so find all of them. Go to every single supermarket and corner shop and put a flyer up. Put your contact details on tear off tabs at the bottom so people can quickly grab your contact details.

Put ads in your local newspapers and classifieds sites. Use the same approach as the flyers above and put your ads everywhere so that you leave no stone unturned in finding potential new clients.

Go to all your local jewellery stores and talk to them about leaving some business cards with them and explain what you do. Often when a guy buys an engagement ring you can get your card slipped in there somewhere.

Once you get your first gig start focusing on referrals. Referrals are the best way to grow your business. If you do a good job planning a wedding you will become a recommended authority quickly. Offer incentives or cash bonuses to existing clients if they refer a new client to you. I also like to offer a discount to any new customers that come from a referral. This way both the past client and the potential client have an incentive to at least give you a call.

Once you get the phone ringing it’s important to keep focusing on giving helpful and valuable information at the first free consultation. Often just being a likeable person and showing that you are more than capable than planning a great wedding will be enough to convert most free consultations into paying customers. So get out there and start networking and growing your business!

Post Honeymoon Pounds

weight lossMost of us girls try really hard to drop as many of those excess pounds as we possibly can so that we look as good and feel even better for our wedding day. But what happens in the short term after that? It’s a fairly well know fact that the faster you lose weight, the faster it will go back on. Certainly if you try some of the extreme weight loss measures mentioned in this post, you will find that the weight you lost will start creeping back on right away.

There’s no doubt that the best way to achieve long term steady weight loss is to change your lifestyle and stay away from crash diets, but I still think there is a place in the world for rapid weight loss techniques. So to answer my opening question, the best way I’ve found to keep myself in my desired weight range is maintain a steady and healthy diet but to also incorporate extreme dieting when I start to get to far of my ideal weight range.

Using the methods mentioned in my earlier post on extreme wedding day weight loss, I know that I can drop around 10 pounds in 1 week if I go to a full liquid detox. I also know that I can drop around 6 to 7 pounds in a week if I cut out all carbs and fats. The latter option is much easier for me to do long term and of course it’s much safer also.

So my advice is that you need both a long term plan and a short term plan. There are thousands of diets you can follow that will work if you stick to them. The results are not as rapid, but they are much more consistent.

I’ve personally noticed that if I stay away from all carbs I can quickly drop pounds but as soon as I go back to consuming carbs I feel bloated and the weight starts to slowly creep back on. The research I’ve done leads me to believe that when you cut out carbs your body will use the protein you eat, plus the stored fat you have for energy. As soon as you start eating carbs again your body will try to store as much as it can as fat because your body knows that it can’t rely on being fed carbs every day. Does that make sense? I hope I’ve explained clearly.

For me personally, I like to get any task done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and this also applies to weight loss. Therefore I tend to go for the extreme measures more often than not as I find I can easily live on a no carb diet whenever I want. The liquid detox is much harder to do often, and it’s not recommended that you do any more than 1 detox every 6 months. I normally try to do 1 full liquid detox for a 14 day period once per year. I find that by doing this I can quickly eliminate any extra pounds that have crept on though out the year and I can keep my average weight in a range that I’m happy with.

Have Your Wedding at Home

home weddingI’ve need involved in planning a lot of different weddings and as a result I’ve often been invited along to see how it all turns out. While I never actually get involved on the day or get a formal invite to the reception, I do often come along to check how things turned out. There are normally so many people around that don’t know each other that one extra face wandering around in the crowd never raises an eyebrow. I’ve often walked right past the bride or groom without them even noticing me as they have so many other things running through their head on their big day that they never even notice little old me wandering around.

Many people have the idea that staging your wedding at your home is a way to cheap-out, and while it is a great money saver, I don’t think it lowers the quality of the event if done right. I would suggest that using your own home may not always be the best option, but often a close friend or relative can provide the ideal setting for your home wedding if they have some large open rooms. I also have to admit that one of my favorite tricks to create a unique and memorable image of a bride is to have her walk down some curving stairs rather than down the aisle in a church or other more typical wedding venue. As long as the bride does not fall down the stairs this creates some amazing photos and also a long lasting memory in people minds that makes your wedding stand out.

Apart from having large open area for guests to mingle in, I would say a large backyard is also another must have for a home wedding. If you have the size, you can dress up any area to look amazing but you must have enough space to allow for all your guests and decorations or you have nothing to work with. On the theme of backyards, it important to think about “dressing” your garden before hand, and to make sure your lawn is in great condition. You can easily rent real or fake plants and trees, plus lighting to create the exact atmosphere you’re going after.

Be sure to let the neighbors know that you’ll be having a wedding so they know to expect some noise. Although you may require a permit to host a wedding, I’ve never heard of a wedding being shut down due to excessive noise, as most people including the police have more respect than to ruin somebody’s wedding night by throwing out guests. I always recommend that you invite some of the neighbors anyway, and that will eliminate any issue about disturbing the neighbors.

home wedding at nightYou might also want to look into some sort of insurance because with a hundred people trouncing through your house things can get broken. Be sure to pack away valuables and try to keep the festivities to certain areas of your home.

The last point is a big one. You need to make sure your have enough toilets for your guests and the best way to do this is to rent a fully functioning portable bathroom. These temporary solutions are amazing as you can have hot water, mirrors and everything you need available. You can even dress up the outside of the bathroom, or hide it from general view with some fake plants and bushes. Try to allow for 1 toilet for every 30-35 guests as a minimum and you should be fine. If nothing else, just be sure to allow for more than enough toilets for your guests or people will start to complain and ruin the atmosphere of your wedding night.

Keeping Your Wedding Costs Down

wedding costsSo you’re happily engaged and you’ve got grand visions of exactly what your wedding day will look like. You can imagine everything being so perfect and all your friends feeling super jealous that you’re wedding grand spectacular has outdone them all

And then you start add up the cost of this grand vision and the disappointment sets in.

While we are constantly fed media stories of amazing weddings from rich celebrities, this is well out of reach for most of us and we simply have to deal with it and plan the best wedding we possibly can with the budget we have available. The average wedding these days will set you back between $15,000 and $20,000, and even that is a big chunk of change for most regular people.

Don’t despair though because there are a few things you can do minimize the financial impact of paying for a wedding, and here are a few of my favorites.

  1. Pretend to be old fashioned and get the bride’s parents to foot the bill. This solves everything in one hit….. But it’s not likely, and if you’re like me, you would never feel comfortable asking your parents for money.
  2. Instead of people giving you gifts, ask them to donate money towards your honeymoon. This is by far the biggest way to pay for a big chunk of your wedding, and plenty of people are doing it. If you invite 200 people and they each give you on average $50 then you can make back $10,000 on the spot. This only works if you don’t blow the cash on your honeymoon though.
  3. Go for a unique venue that costs less. Often you can find off the beaten track type venues that are happy to take your business.
  4. If your game, go for an out of season wedding as most venues will have very few bookings and will be much easier to negotiate with.
  5. Rent a large villa or house and organize the catering yourself. This is a big money saver and a great way to create a unique wedding experience that people will remember.
  6. Shop around for your wedding dress. You can buy anything online, and you can buy anything cheap from China. If you can put the two together you can import a great dress and then get it tailored to suit when it arrives in the post. The same applies to second hand wedding dresses.
  7. Use friends and family to help with anything you can think of, from cooking to catering to wedding invitation printing and even running the show on the night. With a network of 100 or so people you can often fill many paid positions with free or cheap volunteers.

These are some good money saving tips, but the best one I can give you may be a little biased. I would say that the very best way you can stay within your budget is to have a consultation with a local wedding planner. They will be able to really help you manage expectations and your budget and many of them very good at thinking outside the box. My only advice for this is to do some creative thinking on your own first so you can bounce ideas off them. If they think you want a traditional wedding then you will be stuck with a traditional price.

Want a Career in Wedding Planning?

wedding plannign careerFor me, wedding planning is a great career but I have to say that it’s mainly because I’m passionate about it. The hours are not great, as I spend almost all my face to face time with my clients on week nights and weekends but I don’t mind so much and I’ve learn to create my schedule around that to allow for work time and quality time with my family.

The main upside to this career is that there is a very low barrier to entry and you don’t need any formal qualifications. Wedding planners come from all different types of backgrounds so to have a successful career as a wedding planner you just have to commit to learning the ropes and continually improving as you gain more experience. You will need to have some knowledge of running a business and marketing it but that is something that you can learn along the way also.

If you’re looking for a career in wedding planning to make millions of dollars then you should really look elsewhere. All long term wedding planners are in the business because they genuinely enjoy event planning and being involved in the process, and are not just chasing the big dollars.

A general rule of thumb for wedding planning is that you can charge around 5% – 10% of the total wedding budget as a flat fee. I generally push more towards the 10% limit now but if you’re just starting out you can certainly charge less, or even offer your services for free. Depending on the type of clients you land, it’s not unheard of to plan weddings with budgets of $50,000 but I would suggest you really need to be at the top of your game to plan these types of events. As with anything, the best way to start is to start small and become very good at what you do and move up the chain from there.

As far as hours go, I put in a heap of time into my career on a weekly basis. I do a few face to face meetings out of normal business hours but I do all the planning and organizing during the day whenever I can. I also have household to run and my husband works hard so it’s always a challenge for me but I can easily handle plan a few weddings at once.

I find that I am most busy leading into spring and fall which is the main wedding season where I live in California so most of my Saturdays are gone along with a few nights per week but that’s just part and parcel of being a wedding planner. At least 1 day per week, I put my daughter into child care and I take a full day off to do whatever I want. I don’t answer my cell phone and I spend the day catching up with friends, shopping or even going to the spa if I feel like it.

I hope this gives you an idea of what you’re in for if you decide to pursue a career in wedding planning. My best advice is to just get out there and offer your services to a friend or family member for free and see if you like. Image you were getting paid 5% of the total wedding fee and then decide if it’s a career you’d like to pursue based on how much you enjoy the job and how much you earned doing it. Good Luck!