vendor spotlight: christine steffes

Name: Christine Steffes

Business Name: Get Christine Event Planning

Industry Category: Wedding & Events Planner and Coordinator

What common mistakes do you see couples making?
Not hiring certain vendors soon enough. Especially with regards to venues, which results in disappointment that their wedding date is already booked.

What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Decide what is the most important thing from the beginning, and try to stay true to it. For example, if budget is most important it should be decided on from the moment the couple gets engaged. And, if budget is the most important factor, remember that number of people in attendance will most drastically affect the cost of the event. Aside from that, I of course recommend hiring a coordinator. They can bring things to your attention that you hadn't thought of, and they really can make the day of less stressful for both the couple and their family.

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
I, as well as many other coordinators, offer an hourly fee if you don't want a day-of or full service planner, but do just want someone to bounce a few questions off of. They should also know that there really isn't such a thing as "day-of" coordination because in order for your coordinator to provide the best possible service, they need to gather tons of details. By not getting your coordinator involved with at least one month notice before the wedding, you are doing yourself and the coordinator a disservice.

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
Couples should ask the venues that they tour what all is included in their pricing. Many couples do not seem to know that they can save a fair amount of money by hosting their wedding at the more inclusive venues. They should also ask what days of week or seasons are more reasonably priced. A couple can save a lot of money by hosting their wedding during the slower months of the year, or even for hosting their wedding in the morning/afternoon.

What's your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
To set a budget and stick to it. While a big extravagant wedding is always fun to host, going into debt for years after because credit cards were necessary to pay for it, is really not worth it. Not to mention, if you did spend more than you planned and are suffering later because of it, you don't ever want to question whether your wedding was "worth it".

What's the most unusual wedding you ever did?
I don't think I have worked any unusual weddings yet, but I have worked some very culturally different weddings. My husband and I have worked a few Moldovan weddings, and during the ceremony the couples did not have a kiss. I think most people would consider that unusual, but I think it is just different culturally because we're used to the traditional first kiss. Though the ceremony was different then what I am used to, I did not see a lack of love represented throughout their wedding day.

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
This is hard to answer because I have worked so many beautiful and unique weddings. But since I have to pick one, I would say the Moldovan weddings I have worked have been the most memorable. This is because, as I said before, they are culturally very different then what I am used to, but there was still so much love ever present. At the receptions for these weddings, it is so clear that the family and friends of the couple put tons of effort and work into the wedding, including the endless food that is served.

selfie stick alternative

Southern Star Ballroom Center loves new wedding related gadgets!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than the selfie stick, PodoLabs released its stick-on camera, creating more seamless, fun images. While the selfie-stick only lets you shoot from arms-length, this camera sticks to any surface, enabling you to take snapshots from any angle or distance you choose. It weighs only 1.8 ounces and can store up to 8 GB of memory. It can last up to two hours without having to be recharged. It also comes with a useful flash function.  This is a neat idea and a cost effective alternative to a photo booth!

vendor spotlight: nancy nguyen liles

Name: Nancy Nguyen Liles
Business Name: Sweet T Salon
Industry Category: Beauty/Hair/Makeup

What mistakes do you often see couples make?
Couples often don't prioritize what they want in their wedding planning process and end up running out of money before the end and not getting what they want or going over budget. They need to figure out what is more important to them, whether it be photographs, hair/makeup, good food, the dress, etc. and make sure to set aside a decent portion of the wedding budget for that before planning everything else. Having a budget is important and allotting it to different areas helps to avoid this issue.

What's the best tip you have for couples planning a wedding?
Budget! Even if the family is providing some of the money to help pay for it, find out exactly how much money you have to spend on the wedding and stick to it. Research, find vendors that you like and can trust with good recommendations at the fairest price. Don't be afraid to look elsewhere if the vendor cannot provide the service that you want and work within your realistic budget. Wedding planners are also great assets in planning a wedding. While you have the added expense of a wedding planner, you have the peace of mind knowing that things will get done and you are able to relax.

Salons also have experience with helping you prepare for the morning of your wedding. The stylists can help plan your schedule 90-days in advance so that you know you and your party will look your best on your wedding day. Wedding planners and salons can have good relationships with wedding vendors. You can have wedding vendors and salon professionals be involved as much or as little in the whole process as you choose.

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
There is more involved in bridal hair than simply showing up and doing hair. Whether you are coming to a salon to have your hair done or you are having the Sweet T Salon team travel to you, the price you pay actually gets you a lot in this industry. Stylists research well before your wedding date tips and tricks on the best way to get you the exact look you want with the type of hair you have. There is a lot of set up and breakdown involved as well as booking themselves away from other clients for longer periods of time to be sure they have enough time to accommodate the bride and make her look perfect for her big day. The professional salon team draws up a plan to give you and your wedding party the perfect look with the right product, equipment, pins, etc. We are all aware of the fact that this is the biggest day in a bride's life and do not take that lightly! We know that these pictures will be around for a long time and the bride will see her hair many times over the years as she looks at pictures reminicing about this day. We want those to be happy memories and for her to love her look!

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
How much time will this appointment take? They need to be sure they have booked well in advance of the time they need to be ready to go. What is the cancellation policy? This is very important for couples to understand.

What is your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
Relax! It can be very stressful and overwhelming but just remember this is YOUR special day. Everyone will have their own thoughts and opinions on how the couple should do things but in the end, this is their day and they should have the final say. Don't be afraid to say no if there are things happening that they don't agree with. This should be a day all about the couple and that's how they are going to want to remember it. This is the couple's day and it should be all about them and a reflection of who they are and their love for each other, not about what the mom, maid of honor, or anyone else wants.

What's the most unusual wedding you've ever done?
We styled a wedding on a Monday that happened to be Leap Day.

What is the most memorable wedding you ever worked and why?
We had a bride one time that had even more stress than a typical wedding. The night before her wedding, her car got broken into at the hotel they were staying at and her purse and everything in it got stolen. She was up all night trying to cancel credit cards and deal with the aftermath. The next day started early and she showed up to the salon tired but ready for her big day. We made her look beautiful, she even fell asleep in the chair while getting her makeup done. She contacted us that night wanting to cancel her appointment as she didn't have any access to funds to pay the balance. We ended up working with her. In the end, her wedding was beautiful and perfect. Everything ended up working out, most of her stuff was returned surprisingly, and the couple had their dream wedding and an amazing honeymoon.

vendor spotlight: barbara lodge

Name: Rev. Barbara Lodge
Business Name: North Carolina Wedding Minister
Industry Category: Minister

What common mistakes do you see couples making?
Waiting too close to their wedding date to start their planning and booking of wedding professionals, especially for weddings in our 5 top wedding months of April, May, June, September and October.

What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Make their wedding fit their personalities. If they want classic, go for classic elements. If they want unique, include things about themselves and their relationship that show who they really are, what they’ve done together and their hopes and dreams for their future.

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
1. Couples often think that a minister has only one wedding a day but ministers who travel to weddings will usually book more than one wedding in a day. I never over book my schedule so I am able to arrive at each wedding with plenty of time to spare.

2. Some ministers are well versed in running a rehearsal if couples do not have a wedding planner, but some are not, so couples want to make sure they have someone at the rehearsal who will oversee the rehearsal for them. It is an important element in making sure their wedding goes off as they have planned. A good rehearsal will help them to know what to expect during their ceremony and can make all the difference in their comfort level on their wedding day.

3. There will be some ministers couples will click with and some they might not. Couples should trust their instincts when deciding which wedding professionals to work with them for their wedding. We are very lucky in our area to have so many truly caring, talented and sincere wedding professionals so the ones with whom the wedding couple feel the most comfortable with will be the perfect ones for them.

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
1. Who provides the marriage license? - The couple must purchase the marriage license themselves at any NC Register of Deeds office, not necessarily the county in which the marriage will take place - so whichever office is most convenient for them will be fine.

2. What is needed to get a marriage license in NC? - 2 forms of ID (preferably a driver’s license and a Social Security card) and $60 cash are required. Couples can now do a lot of the pre-purchasing of their license online but they will still need to go together in person to purchase their actual marriage license.

3. Who covers the wedding planning at the wedding venue? - Some venues provide a planner for the food and facilities only and some venues have an in-house planner (sometimes for an extra fee and sometimes included in the overall wedding package). The couple should be sure they know exactly what their venue planner’s responsibilities are so that if the venue planner is not going to be helping them with the ceremony elements (like who is walking in with whom) they can have someone there who can help them with that. This could be the minister or a wedding planner hired by the couple.

4. Should they hire a wedding planner? - Wedding planners, whether at a venue or one the couple hires themselves, are truly worth their weight in gold. They can take so much of the stress from the couple’s wedding-planning shoulders and make their lives much easier in the process. If a wedding planner is something the couple can allow in their budget, I can highly recommend they find someone who will help them create the full celebration they envision.

5. The couple should make sure they know what kind of ceremony their minister will be providing and if they can have a say in personalizing the ceremony in any way.

6. The couple should ask the minister if he or she requires premarital counseling. They should also find out if the minister has any issues with couples who are interfaith, already living together, are members of a church other than the minister’s or have no interest in a religious faith at all. It will be important that the minister is comfortable with the couple as they are rather than requiring them to be something they are not for the minister to perform their ceremony.

7. Should couples invite their minister to the reception? - There is no requirement to invite their minister to their wedding reception so couples should not feel required to do so unless that is something they would like to do anyway.

What's your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
Have fun and make the wedding fit them in any way they like - their guests will love it and they will feel so much better about the celebration of love and commitment they created. And if possible, they should try not to worry about things that might go wrong at the last minute because they are sure to be the very things they will laugh about for many years to come.

What's the most unusual wedding you ever did?
I once did a wedding for a couple who had each always wanted to marry on Halloween and were thrilled to learn during their courtship that the other person had always felt the same way. They waited 4 years (!) to have their wedding when Halloween fell on a Friday so they could make the most of the whole weekend. The Bride, Groom and all the guests were in costume. The Groom was a French count - complete with white face and a wig - and the Bride was a Renaissance maiden, wearing a costume she had made herself. Among the guests were Frankenstein, The Hulk, Superman, ballerinas, a witch, Smurfs, the Devil, fairies, the Cat in the Hat, and all sorts of other fun costumed guests. I have thought of that wedding many times over the years and I always smile when I do.

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
Oh, golly, there have been so many! To name just a few… there were the fireworks the Groom planned as a surprise for the Bride during their reception, there was the Bride who sewed a picture of her grandparents into the hem of her dress so they would be there with her, and a Bride who carried in some ashes of her dad in a lovely little urn so he would be with her as she was escorted down the aisle by her brother. There was the bride who was so happy she giggled and bounced during the whole ceremony, another bride who was so happy she couldn’t stop crying as she came down the aisle, and another bride who got the hiccups on her way down the aisle that lasted until after her vows. There was a Groom who sang his vows to his Bride as he accompanied himself on a guitar. There was the couple who did a Tasting of the Elements ceremony, where they tasted cayenne pepper, lemon juice and vinegar while I spoke about how those things represented elements of a marriage… the audience loved seeing their faces as they tasted each one. There was a couple who had met over coffee and invented a coffee ceremony for their wedding, a couple who had tattoos for their wedding rings so rather than doing a ring on the fingers, we did a ring-unveiling where each untied a cloth from the other’s wedding ring tattoo. Another couple entered on separate horses and exited the ceremony together on one horse. There were the weddings I ministered with a Hindu priest where we combined Hindu and Christian traditions and those I’ve done with a Rabbi that incorporated elements of Jewish and Christian ceremonies. There was a wedding where a couple sent balloons aloft with letters tied to the strings - the letters were to the Groom’s father and the Bride’s sister, both of whom had passed. I have often thought of where those balloons might have landed and who might have found and read those letters and been deeply touched by them. There were a few confetti cannon weddings and surprise weddings where the guests had no idea they were coming to a wedding. There were New Year’s Eve weddings, at one of which they wanted to be pronounced husband and wife at the stroke of midnight… and we managed to do it exactly. Every ceremony I have done with children and blended families has been special because of all the love on display between the family members. At one of them there was a choreographed family dance at the end of the ceremony that charmed and delighted everyone in attendance.

I have been incredibly lucky to have been able to share the love and the hopeful beginnings of so many couples and their families. I will always be grateful that I have been called to this ministry. I love helping couples express their love for each other in all the ways that feel most right to them. Being around this much love in others feeds my soul and affirms my belief that our world is full of good, kind people everywhere you look. Love is at the heart of life and of everything that makes life most important to all of us. It is my total joy that in the work I do I get to share that love with everyone I meet.

vendor spotlight: caroline z dickson

Name: Caroline Z Dickson
Business Name: Caroline Z Photography
Industry Category: Wedding and Portrait Photography

What common mistakes do you see couples making?
Choosing a photographer or any vendor based on price not experience or quality of work

What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Pick your date and venue, then you should pick your photographer before you spend the money on other things; after all pictures are the only thing that is left after the wedding; flowers die, food gets eaten, wedding gown sits in the closet; pictures are there to remind you of this important day and the people that helped you celebrate it, and of course nothing represents the emotions like pictures!

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
There are tons of "photographers" out there; nowadays everybody with a camera is a photographer; what is important to know if the photographer you are hiring knows how to photograph your wedding in any given situation: bright sun, dark, rain, small spaces, etc. A good photographer is prepared and knows what to do no matter the situation. Couples need to know if they photographer has experience and gear that let them produce best results.

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
Couples should ask about experience and sample of work. I am being ask about the gear I use, and unless they are into photography themselves, they do not know what I am talking about. Besides, gear is not the most important thing, Yes, good quality gear is a great took that helps the photographer to create magic, BUT you have to know how to use the gear you have. So ask your photographer about experience, see their work, ask for references.

What's your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
I cannot stress is hard enough: when you plan your wedding and you care about quality of your pictures, hire a photographer first before you spend your budget on food, flowers, dresses, etc. Otherwise, you will have to hire someone cheap who most likely lacks experience and proper equipment. Nowadays couples put more emphasis on presentation like they are trying to impress their guests with the look of the ball room or decorations on the tables. Yes, it is important, but will it all matter in ten or twenty years? What will you want to remember from that day? The look on your guests faces when you try to calculate how much you spent on flowers? Or maybe you would like to remember your father walking you down the isle, or your grandfather dancing with your for the last time, or your mother crying when seeing you in your gown for the first time? And how are you going to remember all that without a photograph?

What's the most unusual wedding you've ever done?
The most unusual wedding.... Well, there was this one wedding that was a total mess. The couple decided to spread all day across three different venues that were quite far away from each other. Needless to say, it did not work at all. I drove almost 2 hrs to the first venue to to a "first look" and the couple never came. I remember that day because everybody was so stressed and frustrated. So here is another piece of advice: no matter how well you plan your day, it hardly ever goes as planned. So keep it simple. You want to enjoy it, be happy, stress free, think of your marriage. Keep it simple.

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
I think it was the wedding I did on Ocracoke Island a couple of years ago. It was a very small and simple wedding, but oh so sweet and awesome! The couple was fun to work with. They gave me a lot of time for pictures with them (two hours!) because it was the most important thing to them. So we drove around the island and took most amazing pictures with the lighthouse, sunset on the beach, at the marina at night. It was so much fun and so stress free!

vendor spotlight: patricia love

Name: Patricia Love
Business Name: Perfection by Patricia, Inc.
Industry Category: Beauty/Cosmetics/Grooming

What common mistakes do you see couples making?
For some reason the hair and makeup is one of the last things the bride thinks of reserving for her big day. We tend to book 6mos-15 mos out. By the time most are sending inquiries, we are already full for the day. I hate having to turn down work because I really want to help everyone.

What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Sign written contracts and put down a deposit. I can not tell you how many times a week I have a bride scrambling to find a makeup artist for their wedding 1-2 weeks out because their artists flaked on them. It is beyond me how an artist can do this to someone. I feel absolutely terrible for the bride. I HIGHLY suggest making sure these are professional and established companies/artists. Hold them accountable by signing a written contract and giving deposit to secure the date.

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
That hair and makeup can be super important for photograph purposes.

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
Make sure to plan ahead of time to ensure there are enough artists to accommodate your party size and reduce the prep time. Our goal is to NEVER have a party go over 4 hours prep. I think it's awful to have the ladies spending the entire day getting hair and makeup done. So we set up a time line that is under 4 hours. Most of our weddings run about 3 hours of prep time.

What's your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
Enjoy the planning process and don't get too caught up in the extras. When you've been married for over 10 years, like I have, you look back at your wedding and realize the true MEANING of the wedding is SO MUCH MORE. It's more than any decoration, large venue, the perfect cake, etc. Yes, even the perfect hair and makeup. Bask in WHY you are marrying this person and how you will care for each other the rest of your life!

What's the most unusual wedding you ever did?
I've never had an unusual wedding really but I think the whole food truck phenomenon for weddings now is so cool!

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
I have had so many. Each clients wedding is a fun and enjoyable time! The most favorite part is handing the mirror to the client and seeing their face light up or hearing a happy scream let out after they see their gorgeous self.

vendor spotlight: kaitlin stammetti

Name: Kaitlin Stammetti
Business Name: Rowan Lane Events
Industry Category: Wedding and Event Planning

What common mistakes do you see couples making?
Some common mistakes couples are making are actually some big ones - things like not setting or discussing a reasonable budget before booking vendors, or taking on a lot of DIY projects that looked easy on pinterest are things that may not seem like a big deal at first but can often lead to arguments or melt downs during what should be a happy and exciting time!

What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
It may sound self - serving but my number one tip is to hire a certified planner. Lots of friends and aunts have experience or are top notch organizers but weddings are a whole different breed of event. Hiring a planner can completely alter the experience of planning a wedding - for the better!

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
LOTS is done to help your event along prior to the day of and that means hours of phone calls, emails, and support. The expense of a wedding planner may seem like a good area to cut costs but a good planner is there to help you manage your budget, give you cost saving tips, and work closely with your vendors to avoid overlap in services and to make sure you get what you paid for. Ultimately the cost of a planner ensures the rest of your event is smooth sailing and well worth it!

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?: A big one is: How many hours are my vendors booked for?
This is one of the biggest things I used to see at weddings that didn't have planners and it usually doesn't get caught until it's too late. Perhaps your venue is an all day rental and you have your photographer for 10 hours but you only booked your DJ for a 4 hour reception. Looks like your party is over with out the music! Make sure your planner creates a timeline based on the contracts you've signed with each of your vendors so you can decide if you're going to 10 or 11 or event later before the night of the party!

What's your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
Hire great vendors and then trust them. These guys and gals have probably worked more weddings than you can imagine and they've seen it all. They are in this business because they love being a part of gorgeous flawless events and they can't wait to see yours come to life! I promise they have your best interest at heart!

What's the most unusual wedding you ever did?
Some of the most unique weddings I was a part of happened at the Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Lots of our couples were chemists or veterinarians or worked in other science related fields and their weddings were just as unique as the decor that surrounded them. From a periodic table style seating chart to raptors in a top hat and veil for wedding cake toppers - these were some of the most amazing and unusual events I helped create. It's a good reminder of how a great venue can be a reflection of a great couple!

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
One of the craziest events I had at a wedding was both awesome and unplanned. Frankie and I were at our first wedding of the season -- on St. Patrick's Day weekend and there was this amazing Irish bagpipes band outside the venue in downtown. The ceremony was at the same location as the reception so when I ran out to ask them not to play during the quiet of the ceremony they decided they would like to honor the couple during the reception. After a quick chat with the father of the bride and the bride, of course, we had a beautiful impromptu performance right on the dance floor! I can't imagine a cooler wedding surprise!