Wedding Planning Uncovered

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        Interviewer: Welcome. You're about to learn the inside details and

little known secrets of wedding planning.

     We're here today with Catherine Porterfield, who is a wedding
planner out of the Washington, DC area. Catherine, thank you so much
for joining us.

Catherine Porterfield:   Oh thank you so much for having me. I'm
excited to be here.

Interviewer: Great; now you know a lot of people think that wedding
planning is such a--a comprehensive process and it--and it can be. You
know there's a lot of details that you need to pay attention to; so let's
start with the basics. What is it exactly that you do?

Catherine Porterfield: As a wedding planner and it--it varies from
planner to planner depending on if they're full-service or not--you
basically can do anything from you know there's wedding planners who
just work the day of an event and just make sure that everything runs
smoothly--that the bride has already kind of coordinated and--and
done herself, or then there's wedding planners who are there from the
very beginning, sometimes even before the engagement, when--you
know couples know that they're going to get married and that they
basically--you know so you're there from the very beginning to work
with the families on the budget, determine those things, and you--you
do everything. You help with the flowers, you help with the invitations,
the wording on the invitations; you basically take every--take care of
everything as well as helping pick a caterer, the dresses both for the
bride and the bridesmaids, flowers, music and going to all these
appointments with the bride to check and make sure that you know
she gets everything--and the family gets everything that they--that
they want.

   Some wedding planners also help with the bridal showers, the
bachelor(ette) parties, the bachelor parties; they also help with the
rehearsal dinner as far as handling all the logistics of that, as well--
sometimes now there are you know toast wedding brunches and stay

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afterwards; so anything that is associated with the wedding some
wedding planners take on all of that work.

Interviewer: And how long have you been working in this business?

Catherine Porterfield: About seven and a half--eight years now.

Interviewer: Great, great; so are there any particular career
highlights that you're especially proud of?

Catherine Porterfield: There's definitely some; there are--you know
it's--what's really special about wedding planning and I--I used to do
corporate planning and what's nice about doing something is that it's
so personal and you really are giving--you know no matter how crazy
it may get and you know months and months of planning, it really is a
reward when you do see a couple and you're giving them a day that
they're always going to remember. And it's such a special important
day for not only them--and for their family and that your role is there
to help take the stress off the family and off the bride and groom so
that they can really enjoy the day and focus on what's really taking
place. You know they're starting their lives together. So with each
wedding there's definitely a special moment when you get to watch
especially when they--you know exchange with their vows or--or
whatever kind of ceremony that they have, it's just really nice to
watch the couple really be able to enjoy the day.

    I will have to say that one you know--just because it's personal--
would be one of my friends who got married and just--I was--she
actually hired me as--I was in her bridal party but she also did hire me
as the wedding coordinator and that was actually my first
[destination] wedding that I planned; so it was a bit of a challenge.
It was up in Cape Cod and having to do everything from being here in
DC and having to coordinate over the phone and not see everything
was a great challenge but it was also you know just perfect and the
day went off without a hitch. That's one of my most special memories.

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    And then there was another one that was at the Mayflower here
that was just a spectacular, huge event that was just beautiful and
again everything just kind of went off without a hitch, so that was just
really special as well.

Interviewer: That sounds great; when you--there's a personal touch
to it.

Catherine Porterfield: Yeah; it's--it's very, very nice.

Interviewer: So I know you touched on some of them earlier, but
what would you say are the--the key--the essential elements that go
into wedding consulting, like what are the must-haves?

Catherine Porterfield: The must-haves are you need to have a--you
need--there's two different things basically I feel like--you need to
have a--a good sense of--of basically wedding planning of--of the
industry and where it's going and how it's growing and just stay on top
of the trends, stay on top of you know--that means from flowers to the
kinds of bridesmaids dresses that are popular to you know new
traditions and breaking old traditions and kind of the protocol and do
you still do things, you know they did in the `50s--just watching how
things shift. That's really important. And then it's also important to
know the tradition and kind of the styles of the area in which you do
most of your work because it changes from area to area and you really
need to know that in order to be able to best kind of guide your client
and to tell them what you know--if they're going to come with
questions to you you're the expert and they're going to look to you for
advice and you really just need to be on top of your game and--and
know the industry. And obviously with any kind of you know planning
profession, you also need to be extremely organized, extremely detail-
oriented, you need to follow through and you need to really be--you
know you are there for them, so basically when they--if your client
calls you need to make sure that you're taking care of them at all

Interviewer:    Great; so you know times have changed--issues,

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events. Things have certainly evolved over time. How would you say
that is so for wedding consulting?

Catherine Porterfield: For wedding consulting I think the industry is
definitely growing and I think more and more people are hiring
wedding planners than they used to and I also think that it's--it used
to go if they just wanted someone--the family would want someone
there for the day of, but that's still you know such a struggle because
it's also hard for people who are hired just the day of an event. It's
very difficult because you don't know; you haven't worked with any of
these vendors before--typically the planner will call and just introduce
themselves, so you haven't made any decisions; you don't know--you
know a cake is supposed to be delivered but you have no idea really
what you know--what exactly it's supposed to look like. So it's hard
because you have a little bit of control but not really very much and so
it's been very difficult and plus you're not there to advise your client
the entire way. Whereas now weddings seem to be getting bigger and
they're much more an event and experience especially all these
weekend weddings and I think that that's why the industry is growing-
-people want bigger weddings; they really want to make it this huge
experience for their families and friends and they really want their

families and friends to feel like they're taken care of. So wedding
planners need to be able to take care of all events that go with--aside
from just the wedding and reception but to be able--all the logistics for
the pre and post-event as well as take care of the bridal party and
everything that do-of--really just--it's no longer just something that's
just for one day. It--it kind of runs for three or four days you know
sometimes and it's just things are getting bigger and bigger. And so
wedding coordinators and planners need to be able to prepare for that
and have the staffing for that and have the facilities and the--the time
to really be able to devote their time to such large events.

Interviewer: And do you find that that's the key reason why there
are more wedding consultants now than say 20 years ago?

Catherine Porterfield: I definitely do. I definitely do. I think there's

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just a huge--and it's--and with these big events, it's--they're even
more detailed and personal than they used to be you know with all
these you know monogrammed you know little gifts that each you
know--gifts that each guest receives at a wedding that are left on the-
-the tables for dinner, just--and the personalized little notes and then
with you know no longer it's the guestbook but now there's you know
plates that people sign and making sure the plate moves around and
you know it's the--the couple can have this plate on--to display at
their home on their mantle. It's just all these little things of
personalized touches that people don't want to do the tradition--the
traditional guestbook or--or things like that--that the wedding planner
has to be on top of all that and making sure that all those little details
that make it a personal wedding are implemented and followed
through with by all the other vendors.

Interviewer: That's great. So detailed orientation is--is one thing, so
what are some of the other characteristics that one would look for in a
wedding consultant?

Catherine Porterfield: My first and foremost is I think trust and that
they need to be able to trust you implicitly and you earn that trust by
following up when you say you're going to do something, always being
you know proactive and in helping them, you're the expert, so you're
there to guide them if they have questions and to foresee problems
that your client won't be able to see. And maybe they want the
wedding ceremony to run a certain way; you have to say okay, well let
me--and you have to take a step back and think. Okay; now they want
the--the groomsmen to walk in this way and then the--the bridesmaids
to walk in this way and you have to figure out logistically okay I know

the church or I know the venue where they're getting married, how is
that possible, and you have to be responsible for thinking of all those
little things that--and how it's going to be played out and orchestrated.
So you really--that's where the detail--being detailed oriented come
in--comes in and that's what helps with the trust because if you show
that you're thinking that far ahead and you're looking at not only the
big picture but the little picture and exact details on how things are

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going to happen then your clients will trust you. Obviously you're
showing them that you know what you're doing--that you've done it
before--that you have experience and that you're really thinking every
little detail out and that you want this to run as smoothly as possible.
And then if you gain the trust of your bride and groom and their
families it will make the whole event so much smoother and just make
everything be a much better working relationship with your clients.

    So I think trust and you know really just delivering and catering
to your client is extremely important. I think it's also important to--as
a wedding coordinator to really work on your relationship with other
vendors. It's very--it's great to be able to go into a consultation,
especially one you know--the first or second with a new client and
they're going to ask you, you know do you have someone that you
would recommend and you know whether it be a caterer or a florist
and to be able to say yes; and here's who I've worked with in the past,
and if you can get this network of people working on the same
weddings then you have trust with them which is huge. It was so--
sometimes it's very difficult to work with someone whom you've never
worked with before because it's always risky. You don't know; you
don't have an established relationship. The more relationships that you
can do and go out there and network and meet new vendors is really
important and that also helps you as I mentioned before to stay on top
of your game. Look at trends from all the different areas--from flowers
to music to you know caterers--all those different things, it really,
really helps. So as much networking as you can do is--is extremely
important and really getting to know other vendors and their

Interviewer: Great; now we understand that you know selecting the
optimal wedding consultant, it's--it's a process. You know you have to
conduct some interviews and figure out you know who might work
best for you, so what would the first interview with a potential
consultant entail exactly?

Catherine Porterfield: I would always ask from the client's
perspective, always ask for some examples and you would want

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photos, you would want samples, because then it also helps you
determine--some wedding--every wedding planner kind of has a
different style and what you really want to do is find someone who
best--is a good match because you're trying to find--and you're going
to have a relationship that's going to be very stressful for you know
probably anywhere from over a year to six months--sometimes even
three months, so you really want to find someone where that you--or
form a partnership with a wedding coordinator who matches your style
that you think if you want someone who is direct and straight to the
point then you find that out during your interview. So definitely watch
the style, and also another way I find with style is looking at the
different styled weddings that they've planned. So look at samples;
they should--every wedding coordinator or planner should have some
kind of portfolio and with that should be you know--include pictures of
weddings that they've had, sample invitations, sample menus, sample
flowers, song lists--everything that they've done and that they've had
input on and how they were involved and what their role was in that
wedding. And then they should also have references that I think
should--every bridge and groom should always call and talk to
someone else and see, because you're definitely get one side from the
wedding planner, but you're going to hear something else from the
bride and groom and then try to you know--take your image and your
perception of that wedding planner to marry it with the references.
And every wedding planner should have references to give out. And--
and I think that's definitely one of the biggest things to look at.

   Also look at the wedding planner and see before you go meet
with one, figure out what your needs are. Some brides and grooms
want to plan things on their own and they really just need someone
who's going to give a little bit of input and a little guidance, but they
don't want someone who is really, really involved. So make sure that
you find someone that matches that and is going to be able to meet
that and is it going to be threatened by the fact that--that you know
the bride and groom really want to take charge of this themselves,
which every now and then they want to have the opportunity to
contact somebody and to get some extra advice, and you know--so

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you really need to make sure that you know when you go meet with
the wedding coordinator that they are able to give you what you need.

     Now if you want someone who says oh I do--you know like I
mentioned before--this whole weekend experience and you need to
make it a three--four-day event--really caters to every need and is
willing to do everything and go with every appointment--with you to
every appointment and be it from flowers to cake tasting(s) to caterers

to everything then you know make sure that you're finding someone
who's able to offer that as well. So it's really just making sure that you
feel comfortable and that they are able to show their work to you and
to show the range of their work, what they're capable of and what
they're not; and then from there continue and just get to know the
planner a little bit more.

Interviewer: Okay; now I have to go legal here with the--you know
formalities and everything. Is there a specific contract involved that
you have to sign and set up?

Catherine Porterfield: It's always different. It depends on their--
there should--yes; there is typically a contract involved. It's going to
vary and change obviously from whoever you're using and especially if
you're using an independent wedding contractor or a consultant or
planner. They will have probably their own contract which has been
looked at by you know a lawyer and is--is legal and--but they're going
to have their owns whereas if you go to a larger firm or a wedding
planning firm then it's going to be probably a little bit more
comprehensive and the breakdown will probably be a little bit more
specific is what I've found in the past. And when you go to an
independent planner, a lot of times what they'll also do is they'll kind
of have clauses in their contracts what--which will say you know the
week of the wedding you know you will be paying--the client will pay
for extra cell phone charges because they'll be using their personal cell
phone which is also their business cell phone but since they'll be using
it so much more closer to the wedding, they'll add an additional cost
for that. That might charge a little bit more an hourly cost for that. So

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those--those are the differences whereas if you go to a larger firm it's
pretty much one flat fee and everything is included in that.

Interviewer: Great; now what are some key things to be aware of?
Like what are the--the nightmarish stories, you know? What can go
wrong and--and how can those things be avoided?

Catherine Porterfield: You mean in--with meeting with the planner
or do you mean in overall with--with the wedding?

Interviewer: Well I would say both. I mean it can start from the
very beginning and--and then trickle its way through the process, so I
guess we can talk about both instances.

Catherine Porterfield: Okay; I would say that with me--as far as
planners go I find--and I get leery of people who are not good at

calling back or not good at getting back to you. If you leave you know-
-and not communicating your schedule, someone who--you know
sometimes you'll hire a wedding coordinator and then I've heard
people say they haven't heard again from that coordinator. You know
they hired them a year out and then the coordinator really didn't follow
up with them until probably about two months prior or wasn't really
invested in the wedding until about two months prior because you
know they have other weddings in between. It's not that they just
have one wedding at a time. That I would be--be very careful of and if
you find that you're experiencing that you really--you know the couple
or the--or the family needs to communicate that they're not happy
with--with the level of communication that they are receiving and
attention they are receiving from the wedding planner, because you
really want to feel like you're taken care of and if they don't get back
to you I just find that's kind of an example of not paying attention to
details. That's a huge detail; your clients calling you--you need to get
back to them in a timely manner; and you need to constantly--even if
they're not calling, you need to check in with them to make sure that
you're not missing out on any big decisions that they're making that
you could help advise them with. So it's--it's definitely--that's

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something to look--you know to look for and I think how that can be
you know kind of resolved is if the client you know specifies what they
want and what they're looking for and making sure that as far as the
coordinator goes that you're honoring that and living up to that
whether that means you know if someone who wants to take care of
their wedding on their own, but wants that advice like I mentioned
earlier and wants to be able to check in, you say okay; well how often
can I check in with you then? How often is it--I just want to make sure
you know that everything is okay. You know what is it where I'm not
going to be annoying you by calling but I'm also not going to disappear
off the face of the earth? So that's one way to fix that potential
problem because the less involvement the planner has and if the
planner is not around I find it makes it far more of a difficult kind of
wedding day experience because they know a little bit less; they don't
know as much as they should. They have not been involved.

    And as far as--that kind of leads into the second part of the
question which is the day of and how that can be a nightmare which I-
-I have seen [Laughs] and what happens with that is a lot of times
there's just you know--well I guess the saying is too many cooks in
the kitchen where too many people are involved. You really need a
point person and that is what the coordinator is there for and too
many people telling the different vendors different places to deliver
things at different times and to the lack of organization and that's

why--again why the wedding planner needs to be involved in the
beginning if you do hire one--because the wedding planner--he or she
is the point person for that day. And they need to have the timeline of
the day and they need to be the authority in saying no, this goes here
and this goes there; and the only person who has the right to change
anything would be the wedding coordinator and that's based on what
the bride or groom or their family says. So it really is--those are the--
kind of like the biggest problems, just too many--too many people
trying to tell the different vendors what to do and they get confused
and then one person is mad because something wasn't--the cake
wasn't delivered at you know Noon and--and then it gets delivered at
two but it was supposed to be delivered at two in the first place, so it

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just creates this added stress to an already stressful day and that just
tends to definitely wreak havoc on--on the family and on the planner.

Interviewer: Right, right; and we also want this to be helpful for
those who are already out there as wedding consultants, so say I am a
wedding consultant and just out of curiosity is--is there a process of
seeking out clients at all? And if so, what are the suggestions for
finding clients? Do you network or how does that work?

Catherine Porterfield: For finding clients--definitely networking. It is
going to all the different bridal shows that take place which are--you
know can be at convention centers. Actually DC has many but most
large cities do as well--but going to--going to different bridal shows
and just you know getting your name out there, definitely have
business cards printed out so that you have all your contact
information that you can give to people going, and then if you want to
do something even smaller than going to these large you know bridal
shows then it would be going--going to your local dress shops, going
to florists, getting your name out there; this is what I like to do and
you know this is what I'm doing and I'm looking for more clients.
Establish a relationship with those vendors because it kind of works--if
you--you know if they refer you then you know in the future you'll
refer them for a wedding. And so it's again networking not only
meeting new you know families and brides and grooms but also
working with the vendor relationship because then if you have a good
relationship with them it's going to benefit both of you. So that's
another really big way to--to get your name out there. And then it's
also you know word of mouth; it's--you have to be careful when you're
at a wedding but--you can't really obviously go up to ask who may be
engaged and give out business cards, but if you do a really good job
then your bride and groom will refer you to somebody else and so then
you can build word of mouth that way. I've received most of my jobs

actually from people who were at weddings that I coordinated and
they then in turn called me, you know. Either they got engaged
months later and they followed up with the wedding--the bride and the
groom of the wedding where they were or they are engaged at the

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time and will either contact me themselves or the bride and groom will
contact me and ask me to give the information out. So those are the--
the biggest ways.

    And another way to kind of help with that and I always like to do
a--kind of a wrap-up meeting with the bride and groom and just like to
ask them what they thought worked and what they thought didn't
work. And then I also ask them would they be willing to be a reference
and--so that I can then use them and know that they're willing to
speak positively about me and to hopefully use them and--and ask for
them and for their help in the future in--in obtaining new clients.

Interviewer: Great; now you--we've--we've touched on vendors a
little bit. Do you have any tips on selecting them? Like speaking for
yourself, do you work with a certain set or do you customize them for
each wedding? How does the--the vendor selection work?

Catherine Porterfield:       I customize them for each wedding. I
typically kind of start with the--the caterer is the biggest vendor that
you're going to work with, so I--you know obviously would love to
work with the people that I know well and have worked with in the
past and I've had positive working relationships with--experiences with
in previous weddings. And so what I'll typically do is I will suggest but
you know each--but maybe what I--obviously what I want and what
the--the couple wants are going to be two different things sometimes
and so trying to figure out what they want. Do they want a seated
dinner? Do they want just you know light hors d'oeuvres? Do they--is
it going to be kind of a cocktail reception? Is it you know a--a brunch?
So you have to find and--and kind of pick what the--the bridge and
groom want and then you base your--your decision and your
recommendations on that. So it's not always the same people that you
work with; it's different and it's sometimes--and then it's also mixing
and matching. I may use a particular caterer but then I have a group
of florists. I'm going to pick a different florist and maybe that florist
and that caterer have never worked together but they're the best
match for the particular client I have. And because of their styles and
what they're able to give and also the prices that they're able to give;

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so you have to kind of pick and choose. It all depends on the client but
the best thing to do is just at least hopefully you've worked with them
at some point in the past and if you haven't then I really think it's

important to get out there and just make time and to meet with the--
the new vendor that you'll be working with and try to establish a
relationship prior to the event because again it will make everything

Interviewer: Great; now the timeline--describe for us like the
general wedding planning time or the ideal--like what are some helpful
tips for--for developing out, mapping out this schedule?

Catherine Porterfield:          It's typically about a year; most
engagements are--I would say on average are about a year. I think it's
really important--I just you know--I actually tell the--the bride and
groom, when they first contact me I ask you know how long they've
been engaged and sometimes they--you know they're calling a
wedding planner the day after or the day of and I say why don't you
just sit and--and think about what you want for a week or two. You--
you have plenty of time and think about you know a date and you
know around--different dates that are available and when you want to
get married and things like that because the wedding process is so--
it's fun yet it is a kind of year of just something always weighing on
their mind, and it's really important I think to take the time in the
beginning to really focus on--just got engaged, have fun with it, and
just really appreciate where you are in your life. So I would just kind
of try to throw that out there in the beginning. And then you know we
come back and we visit the timeline of wedding planning, and that is
typically--it is about a year. The important thing is to pick probably
two or three dates that work. So that's kind of the first thing; so
you're looking at what time of year you're--you're going to be working
with. That way when you go to your reception site and your ceremony
site if they're at two different places and you're able to be flexible
with--they may already have something booked, so that way you've
got a little bit more flexibility and you really want to book your--the
church or the ceremony site and the reception site as early as

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possible, so that's the first thing that I do. And I'd say typically you
want to do that--most places seem to get booked about at least
anywhere from a year to nine or eight months out; so the earlier the
better that you can do that. And again having the multiple dates
makes it you know--allows for some flexibility and I think a better
chance of being able to get the venue that you want.

   The next biggest thing which comes pretty close to--to picking
out the reception site and the ceremony site would be if it is a--if it's
not an on-site caterer, if you're allowed to bring in an outside caterer,
pick your caterer. They basically--with the wedding planner, the--the

two kind of run the show, so you really want to make sure that you
get the caterer that you want for your event--for your wedding. So I
also just try to knock out those three big ones from the very
beginning. And then from there on out I find that it is really helpful to-
-to try to make all the big decisions--lock in your florist, lock in your--
you know band or DJ--whatever kind of music that you want--your trio
or--or quartet--whatever you want and just try to lock everything in so
you have everyone committed as early as possible, so you know who
you're working with and then from there you kind of work on more
specific things--what songs you want and things like that. You've got
plenty of time to focus on that stuff throughout the rest of the--of the
engagement, throughout the rest of the year but try to lock everyone
in that you want as early as possible. And what I mean by that is after
you've picked the--the big ceremony site and reception site and--and
caterer, you basically want to make the rest of your decisions probably
within I'd say eight to six months out, as much--I think kind of makes
it a little less stressful for the--the rest of the time. And then what you
end up doing--because all these other vendors obviously have
weddings in between, you kind of touch base with them and follow up
with them and then you really start working with them really, really
closely again I'd say probably three months out as far as picking you
know specific songs and things like that. So you really start working
with all those and doing the exact flowers--that's about three months
out, and then you obviously have more contact as the date nears.

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Interviewer: Great; so would you say this is the responsibility of the
couple or is the consultant also involved in the timeline development?

Catherine Porterfield: I'd say that the--you know again it depends
on how involved the couple wants to be as far as--and how much
involvement they want the wedding planner to have but I definitely
think it is--the wedding planner should guide the couple as far as the
timeline goes just so they know, so they're not trying to book you
know a DJ two months out before the wedding. So I think it is the
role--definitely the role of the planner to at least talk to them about
the wedding timeline and what do you have, you know here's--here's
my suggestions as far as when you really need to have everything
booked by. And then try for everyone to be involved throughout the
entire process, so that you know--both parties know what decisions
have been made and what still need to be made and what's still left
hanging that needs to be taken care of.

Interviewer: Great; now what are--are there any resources like
online or anywhere that they can go to assist them in developing a

Catherine Porterfield: I actually think that the best places that I've
found in--in recent years with the online resources are          which     is k-n-o-t dot com and, because they can give kind of general
information but then they also have information on you know your
specific area and they'll have highlighted vendors on there and people
for you to contact and they also with that will have great timelines as
far as you know when is a good time to you know call your--if you
want to hire your--your music--okay, here's a good time to call and
then they'll have a link to--do you want to look at local--you know
music selections and different bands, DJs, and who's available and
then you know typically people you know pay money to advertise on
there and be one of the suggested vendors, so if they have money to
advertise [as to] website, they're--they're doing something right, so
those are pretty--pretty reliable sources I've found in the past.

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Interviewer: Great; let's talk a little bit about location. We're
definitely noticing a movement beyond the traditional church setting,
so--so what can we attribute the evolution of location choices over

Catherine Porterfield: I think it's a matter of people are definitely
steering away from traditional church weddings or temple weddings--
things like that. People want maybe to get married in a place a little
bit more personal to--to their family or to the bride and groom, and I
think people again--it's these personalized weddings--and they want to
go someplace that really means something special to them, and if it's
not church then it's--or whatever particular religious background they
have then it's something that they want to do you know--if they love
the beach, they want to be out by the water; it's just--and it's also
more fun; I feel like they--in the minds of--of the bride and groom for
their guests and it makes it again more of an experience. So I think
that's definitely why there are more of these--there are many places
now that you--ceremonies at--at the reception site and then you're
off--you're at kind of an outdoor venue and then you come indoors for
the reception. So it's also a lot easier to--logistically to coordinate
having a wedding and a--and the reception at the same venue; you
don't have to figure out how you're going to get the bridal party from
one to the other. You don't have this huge kind of lag time between
when all of your guests arrive at the reception place before the bride

and groom and the bridal party show up. It kind of makes just for an
easier flow and I think the brides and grooms notice that and so that's
another reason that kind of helps just to do everything together. They
kind of want to do king of like one-stop shopping, just kind of have
everything at once and it just makes everything easier.

Interviewer: Right; now in addition to the--the one-stop shop choice
are there any other trends that you've noticed recently that you
thought oh hey that's a novel idea or something that you've planned
that it's also a current trend with regard to a--a unique or location?

Catherine Porterfield: People are definitely picking places you know

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again very, very personal and it's either--a lot of places I have noticed
have been where children used to go when they were little on family
vacations. I've definitely seen that--a huge trend in that and also
people getting married at a parent's home or a relative's home or
something like that because they wanted to have--have a very
personal touch and then they'll have--you know rent a tent or do
something; they'll find a way to--to add on but it's something again
pulling into that personalized feeling. And some people will--will want
to do something really big but they'll want to make it personal, so it's
you know doing something that has some kind of memory link to it
and that will kind of be the theme of the wedding. If it's a destination
or if it's at home--that's basically as personal as they can get, so
they'll--they'll do that and those have been really, really beautiful
weddings just because it is so personal and it really reflects the couple
and their families.

Interviewer: Right; now in addition to the--the one-stop shop
choice, are there any other trends that you've noticed recently that
you thought oh hey that's a novel idea or something that you've
planned that is also a current trend with regard to a--a unique or

Catherine Porterfield: I just schedule location--also like I said
logistically someplace that's able to--to hold and accommodate all the
guests that you have--that it's able to have a ceremony and a
reception at the same time where you don't have to see--many places
say that they can do that but it's also making sure that you know--but
a lot of times you--basically you'll be in the ceremony room which is
going to become the--one of the rooms for dinner or it's going to be
the reception room and you basically watch the caterer have to break
down the--the chairs and set up tables or high tops and things like
that, which kind of takes away a little bit from the experience. So

make sure it's a place where there's--you know you're able to flow so
there's--there's space enough at the venue to go from the ceremony
to go into another side of the venue you know to enjoy cocktails and
then you can go back into the same room where the ceremony was

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and now it's a beautiful dining room. So make sure it's you know--
there's some place that's able to--to accommodate the flow and do
both the ceremony and the reception without the guests having to see
the room being reset I think would be something else. And as far as
you know doing destination and things like that, most places now are
really you know--it's the huge trend and even if it doesn't mean that
it's a personalized thing--it's something everyone wants you know--
I've always wanted to go to Hawaii. I've never been there; let's get
married in Hawaii. I think hotels are really, really helpful with that and
resorts because they do so many; so that's another way--just make
sure that you work with someone who--who has done many weddings
in the past and they know what they're doing if you're working with
them and you're from such a--a long distance.

Interviewer: Great; now let's talk etiquette for a little while. Does
good wedding etiquette vary from area to area, for example you know
north versus southern upbringing and you know traditional values?
What would be the best place to find out you know what the traditions
and expectations are in a given--in a given area or you know shed--
shed some light on that.

Catherine Porterfield: Again the two weddings that I mentioned
earlier, the knot ( and wedding channel dot com
(, both have--are great, great resources for
that. They are because it kind of gives you just you know the quick
and dirty of it but everything that you need to know about what the
differences are because there are definitely differences. What--you
know and I found like in the northeast a black tie wedding can start at
you know 4:30 or 5:00 or 5:30; it's basically you know implied if it's
at that time and it's--you know that it's black tie optional. However, in
the south that's not the case. Sometimes it can be not black tie until
it's after 8 o'clock or--or things like that. So you really have to make
sure that you--you kind of do your research and then also--but
sometimes it's also you know--as the families are determining what
they want it could be two in the afternoon and they want a black tie
wedding. So it's making sure that you are looking at the--you can go
to the knot ( and the wedding channel dot com

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( as the--as the wedding planner or as the
bride and groom just to make sure you're doing the proper etiquette
and then if you're changing it to make it personal, if it's 2 o'clock

which is not typically--if you're the bride and groom--groom and it's--
you're going to have a 2 o'clock wedding and you want it to be black
tie make sure you, you--it's your responsible to communicate that to
your guests because they're going to have no way to know that
otherwise. So it kind of goes both ways; but there are definite--but the
rules of etiquette and everything that--that was traditional like I
mentioned before is--is definitely changing, so again it is the rule of
the bride and groom I think to communicate that they're doing
something out of the norm to--to make sure that--that everyone
knows and to make sure that they communicate that either through
their--[say the] date or if they send out packets about--informational
packets about the wedding to let everyone know you know instead of
gifts please make a donation to this charity, which has become a new
thing or things like that. So if it's personalized, make sure the bride
and groom communicate--communicates it in the family and then if it's
just kind of some standards as far as what's just been going on for the
past 50 years and the proper etiquette you can definitely to--to
different websites and they will give you a good idea of--of what you
need to do and--and how the wedding will be depending on where the
wedding is.

Interviewer: Great; now in addition to you know depending on the
time of the wedding are there any other good rules of thumb about
dressing to attend a wedding?

Catherine Porterfield: You know I always say that it's probably
better to be a little bit more dressed up than under-dressed definitely
and you basically--it's just again typically again--like I've found any
wedding that is before 3 o'clock is just you know--it's kind of like a--I
don't even want to call it cocktail attire because that's even too fancy.
It's almost like a sundress typically.

Interviewer: Right.

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Catherine Porterfield: And men should always bring jackets and if
no one else is wearing a jacket that's fine; you know it could be a
sports coat, just put it over your arm, but at least you're prepared and
always you know err on the side of being over-dressed than under-
dressed. Anything in the afternoon and when it gets to be between like
a 4 and 7 o'clock hour, cocktail typically works. Even black-tie now
cocktail you know really, really is fine and--and then basically when it's
black-tie optional, again it's--it's optional. So I would say even if
you're not going to wear a--a tux at least wear like a dark jacket and
that kind of--or a dark suit and that makes you blend in. Don't do the

sports coat and khaki pants but do something a little bit more
[inaudible] so that way it looks you know like you're--you're trying
for the optional or you're trying for the tux but you didn't quite go
there, but you're still okay with just wearing a dark suit.

Interviewer: Right; so can women wear pants to a wedding?

Catherine Porterfield: I definitely think pants are appropriate;
typically a pantsuit is a little bit better and sequins are something
that's a little bit hard. You have to see how many--because sequins
can really obviously jazz up an outfit, so it kind of maybe--you make it
almost a little too over the top for a wedding and so you know just
make--if it's a pantsuit make sure it's nice; it can have some sequins
on it but you know you don't want to be decked out and full on
sequins. And another huge thing that's still true anywhere is that you
should not wear--as a guest you do not wear a white dress. It's still
not appropriate for that--even--even dresses that have--if they have a
lot of flowers or some kind of pattern on it with white that's fine; but
even--if it's mainly white and it's got a little bit of pattern on it I still
say that's not--that's not appropriate.

Interviewer: Okay; well how about the bride though? Does she
always have to wear white?

Catherine Porterfield: She does not have to wear white--nope, not

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at all especially if it's a second wedding or third wedding. A lot of times
the bride will not wear white; a lot of times she won't even really wear
a full bridal gown. She--she will just wear even a white pantsuit or just
like a simple white dress or a colored dress, whatever color she wants;
it really doesn't matter. So--and a lot of times when it's the first time
you know--it's just depending on the style of the wedding and the
theme of the wedding you know. It's the bride's--it's the--it's their
day, so they have every decision you know--every right to say I don't
want to wear this and they get to choose what they want to wear; so--

Interviewer: Right; now what are some unique wedding ideas that
you've come across that are pretty popular?

Catherine Porterfield: I've had a lot of themed weddings, so some
are--I recently just kind of coordinated a circus theme wedding and at
this wedding they actually had some animals from the local pet store
come out--some snakes and it was--you know it was a little shocking
for some but you know they're obviously all with someone from the

store as kind of manning them and controlling the animals, but it was
just kind of giving to this like you know feel--to the circus feel of the
wedding and then instead of hiring a trio, the couple actually hired a
trapeze artist to kind of swing from one part of the ballroom and it
really just kind of made it a different kind of fun event. And then each-
-you know table kind of had a circus theme to go with it and they were
wearing bright colors so that was something really fun. Another big
trend I've actually found are people trying to do--instead of gifts would
be to do kind of a--have a table at the side of the room that really
reflects the couple. Some couples they love candy; they'll do huge
candy bars that they'll--after the cake is cut--that people will put out
and it will--a lot of times they'll have these big glass martini--martini
glasses I'm sorry that are you know about three-feet tall and really,
really deep and they'll have you know candy in them with a scoop, so
people get to go home and put you know--get the little bags and put a
big bag of candy together that they can take home with them after
the--the wedding. And with that then the bride and groom will kind of

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incorporate candy throughout. Maybe it's in their centerpieces on the--
the tables or kind of included on their stationery or on their--if they're
doing a seated dinner they'll have--maybe have a cute little candy
design on the name cards. So it's--you know it's making it
personalized but then what that means can be different things--circus
theme, candy theme, or--or if you can't--another thing--if you--if you
can't afford to have a destination wedding, we'll bring that destination
to wherever you are getting married. So if you love going to
Nantucket, you can't actually bring everyone to Nantucket, but what
you can do is you could have each table you know instead of it being
table one, table two--have it named you know something--a different
part of Nantucket or a different restaurant in Nantucket that you like
to go to and kind of make it a--a nautical theme. So there's--there are
different ways to do that, but it's--a lot of themed weddings just are
really, really fun to plan. You can get really creative with that.

Interviewer: Do you find that that's something that's happening
more now than say 20 years ago?

Catherine Porterfield: Definitely; I think 20 years ago it was very
you know--it was more just--it was very basic. It wasn't--there weren't
all these options. Of course now it's such an industry and not only for
the wedding planners but for the vendors themselves, you know the
flowers--the florists and the--the caterers and the band that everyone
has to be able to--to do these different things and to be able to
accommodate all these different requests. So I think it's definitely
much more of a trend than you know 20 years ago, 30 years ago it

was you know you just get a white cake with flowers on it, you--you
have a dress and you hire a band and it's still beautiful; it's just there
weren't all these options that there are--there are now.

Interviewer: Great, great; now I have a question about in terms of
the children as--as guests at the reception. Should they be allowed to
attend the wedding or reception and you know what are sort of--the
rules of thumb around that? You know some folks have alcohol at their
reception and that introduces an issue, so what are--what are some of

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the rules of thumb with regard to decision-making around that?

Catherine Porterfield: As far as children goes, my advice is to--if
you are not going to allow children then you have to stick that across
the board. [I find] the only really exception could be if they're--if you
have a flower girl or ring bearer and you want them to--to come to the
reception for a little bit then that's fine because they're in the bridal
party but if you start making exceptions for people--for other people
aside from those children who are in the bridal party you're going to
get into--it just--it's a really gray area and it's just easier to be cut and
dry and just say you know what? No children are allowed; adults only
and that just--that just makes it fair because it--it is a different
environment if there are children around. So if--if the bride and groom
do not want children then they need to be very clear about that and
they need to--to let it be known so that the--their guests can make
the proper or necessary arrangements especially if they have to travel
and figure out what they can do with their children so they can attend
the wedding.

    Now what some brides and grooms do is that they do provide or
hire depending on--they kind of do like a poll and say okay well who is
going to be traveling with children or who will need some baby-sitters
or some assistance, and the bride and groom will then take care of you
know getting a room or two either at the--at a hotel, which is the main
hotel where all the guests are staying, or maybe at the venue itself
and the--maybe the--there will be a side room or something that--
that's far away from the reception site and they'll have--they'll take
care of making sure that there are baby-sitters--enough baby-sitters
for the number of children that they have and making sure the
children are fed and there's you know videotapes or books and toys to
play with. They'll sometimes do that.

    Now if the bride and groom decide they want it to be a kid-
friendly wedding and people are allowed to bring their--their children
then there's two options. One is to have the children be part of the

ceremony and the reception the entire time, and they can sit in the

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same you know dining room with the rest of the bridal party and the--
the rest of the guests and they can either sit with their parents or they
can have a children's table. And typically people who do that also
provide depending on the age of the children toys--you know crayons,
maybe a coloring book--things to entertain the children because it's
you know obviously geared more towards adults as far as the
reception goes. Or another option would be again to rent another room
and kind of have a big party room and also you know serve all the
children meals and that way the children can kind of come and go as
they please and you know come out and dance--the dance floor at the
reception if they want but then they also have their own room and
maybe they'll be--entertain themselves being in a room with a bunch
of other children their own age. So those are you know the two
different options but again, make it very clear if you're going to have
children--that's--that's great, let that be known; if not, definitely
communicate that you--that children are not invited and not welcome
at the--at the reception and obviously phrase it in a very you know
friendly, politically-correct way but just--just say that you know it's a
late reception or it's--or we just--no children are going to be allowed
at this time. And that's totally--otherwise completely appropriate.

     So--and as far as the--the alcohol at weddings, again it is--it's
up to the bride and groom what they want to do. It's--more receptions
do have alcohol. Now what you--it doesn't mean you have to have a
full bar; you can just have beer and wine, you can just have wine, and
then some people just have champagne and then some people have
liquor and martini bars and a lot--another trend is making these
custom drinks that kind of go with the theme of the wedding; you
know for the--the circus wedding it was the cotton candy martini, so
you can do whatever you want. It--it really depends--again it depends
on the theme of the wedding and what the bride and groom want from
this wedding. And--but it's not--it is--it is definitely acceptable to--to
have it be a dry wedding.

Interviewer:   Great; once again we have Catherine Porterfield
discussing wedding planning and we're discussing etiquette. And my
next question would be with regard to the registry. Is it too forward or

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is it commonplace to include gift registry information in the shower
invitations for the--for the bride?

Catherine Porterfield: [Sighs] You know now days it's more people
are incorporating that on there because since the shower is being
thrown by you know either a friend or family member of the bride and

groom, so it makes it a little bit more acceptable for them to announce
that where the couple is--is registered. It's not you know the bride and
groom coming out and saying this is where you know--we have--we're
registered for gifts; please bring us something. So it is acceptable; I
actually--I think what I prefer personally is that now there are all
these personalized websites and you can have The Wedding Website,
and the bride and groom can set it up and then now it's so easy for
people to go to and it gives you know travel directions and it gives you
know lodging information and it gives the time of the wedding--any--
any kind of event details and then some obviously go into more
information about whether you know--how the couple met and photos
and things like that and lists the bridal party. But I think well the best
thing to do as far--with the registry is that on there the registry can be
listed; you can go--there are usually links that take you directly to the
different registries at the different stores and then what you can do is
on these invitations and--and just say for more information about you
know John and Barbara's wedding please visit their website and have a
link to the website. I think that's a little bit--a little bit more tactful
than to have it, because you know it's not just saying go check out the
registry. It's saying here's more information about the event and there
you know everyone can get the information that they need. I think
that is--with how things are in this day and age and with you know the
internet being just commonplace I think it's--it's the best way and the
tactful way to get that information out there.

Interviewer: Great; now for the wedding party at the ceremony
itself, some people might consider it a little tacky to have two best
men and two matrons or maids of honor. How do you feel about that?

Catherine Porterfield: I think what's important--and again you

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know now that these weddings are so personalized and you can kind of
do what you want, I think the biggest thing is--it's fine if you want to
have two best men or two you know matrons of honor or a matron of
honor and a maid of honor. It's--it's more important to have two than
to cause some kind of rift in your family or your friends, but I would
say that if the groom is going to have two then the bride should have
two--kind of try to match that on both sides. It just kind of makes
everything more equal.

Interviewer: Great, great; now we're going to talk about footing the
bill for a little bit here.

Catherine Porterfield: Okay. [Laughs]

Interviewer: You know this--this comes up all the time. Who--what
are the--are there rules of thumb at all for who is going to pay for the
rehearsal dinner, who gets the wedding, who gets the honeymoon, you
know those--those types of things?

Catherine Porterfield: Traditionally it has been that the groom's
family pays for the rehearsal dinner and then the bride's family pays
for the wedding ceremony and reception, and then the honeymoon--
the honeymoon has kind of gone both ways. It can be either that it's--
it's you know been kind of a gift and money goes towards it as a gift
from both the groom's parents and the bride's parent. Now days that's
all kind of just like blown out of the water; it is really--a lot of times
couples are paying for the wedding themselves because they feel bad
asking their parents for money and so then maybe one parent--so
then if they're paying for it themselves, the one family--side of the
family--the groom's family will--will do the rehearsal dinner and the
bride's family will then pay for the honeymoon. Sometimes it really--it
just varies depending on your financial situation and--and how the
families interact and how close they are and things like that.
Sometimes both the groom's family and the bride's family will pay for
the wedding; they'll split it 50/50 and they'll pay for the rehearsal
dinner 50/50 and the same for the--for the honeymoon. And
sometimes it will be that the bride and groom say okay you guys can

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split the overall cost of the--the wedding weekend and we'll pay for
the honeymoon ourselves. And sometimes all three are paying--the
bride's family, the groom's family, and the bride and groom
themselves. It really just depends.

    What's important I think though is that making sure that the
bride and groom acknowledge those who have paid for that particular
event. For example, if the groom's family does pay for the rehearsal
dinner, make sure when you get up and give you toast at the
beginning and you're--you know and you're saying thank you, make
sure you thank them. That's not both of our families but thank them
for that. And the next day you know if the--if the bride's family does
pay for the wedding, thank the bride--again we've been to a rehearsal
dinner that everyone who couldn't--was not invited to the rehearsal
dinner hears you know Mr. So and So, thank you for planning last
night and for hosting that last night and today thank you, you know to
the bride's family for--for this wonderful event. You know the--the two
events together have made for such a wonderful special weekend,
making sure that they're being recognized and thanked because it
really is--aside from the financial contribution and the responsibility it's

a big deal and they want to make it special for--for the bride and
groom, so make sure that they're recognized and thanked publicly.

Interviewer: And do you think that the same applies with regard to
out of town guests and--and destination weddings? You know we find
that--that happens a lot and sometimes people might say that the
bride and the groom should foot the bill for those who are coming in
from out of town or if they're having something you know abroad, you
know they should cover costs. How do--is there a rule of thumb
around that as well?

Catherine Porterfield: I--honestly I don't--I don't think there really
is--I think what the--what the rule is that the bride and groom are not
expected to pay for everyone but they do expect that not everyone will
be able to afford to come. They know that their numbers may not be
so high and for those who do foot the bill and do come, really making

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sure that they're well taken care of. I mean that's the kind of thing
where if it is a destination wedding you definitely need to make sure
that--I think it's important to have you know gift baskets at the
different you know hotels or wherever they're staying for the out of
town guests--just have water, you know some snacks--things like
that--maps of ways to get around, some kind of highlights of the area
where they are, things to check out and see, a personalized note from
the--the bride and groom, potentially their families thanking them for-
-for coming and for--for taking the time and the effort to being there
for their special weekend and just really again making sure that each
guest feels valued and that--and that they are clearly showing how
much they appreciate the guests being there and all the length and--
and effort they went to--to be there with them for their special day.

   As far as rehearsal dinner goes for a destination wedding, it--
basically everyone who has traveled should be invited to the rehearsal
dinner. Or typically if it's a hometown wedding you just do the bridal
party and some family members and people who really kind of need to
be there and you try to keep it as small as possible. For a destination
wedding it's pretty much the same people who are going to be at the
wedding the next day at the party before--at the rehearsal dinner.
Make sure they're invited because they need to be taken care of that
entire weekend.

Interviewer: Great.

Catherine Porterfield: Make sure the travel plans are also included-
-that you have shuttles or you have whatever it needs--they need to

get from wherever they're staying to the--the ceremony and reception.
Make sure that you've got accommodations and then travel plans
taking care of that for them.

Interviewer: Great; now if there is one, what would you say is the
number one wedding etiquette rule that is absolutely most important?

Catherine Porterfield: The number one--honestly it's--it's don't be

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late to--to [Laughs] the ceremony. It's--it's a lot of people who come
in late and--and it's that and the cell phones. It's--I know those sound
like two small little things but it really makes--. The ceremony is a
very special moment and to either come in late and you know most
places in order to get into the room where the ceremony is you know
they've got these heavy doors. There's really no quiet way to make
your entrance, so and--and when the ceremony is taking place the
doors are closed; you have to open them and it's just--it's noticed. So
if you're running really late just--and at that point my advice is just
skip the ceremony and go to the reception because otherwise you're
going to make too much of an entrance. And then the cell phone, a lot
of you know officiates will now say please you know make sure to turn
off your cell phone, so it doesn't ring in the middle; but it--you know a
lot of people still forget to do it or--and that's I mean just very, very
tacky and it's--it's a very common thing but it really does--I mean
people are mortified when their phones go off and then usually
especially if it's a family member or something then everyone gives
them a hard time and it's just--just--just--either don't bring your
phone or just turn it off.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Catherine Porterfield: That's the latest--you know the latest trend
in 2006.

Interviewer: Yeah, technology?

Catherine Porterfield: Yeah, definitely.

Interviewer: So let's talk catering; let's talk about some food. What
are some of your tips or facts that you can offer with regard to you
know finding a good caterer? A lot of folks have to deal with picky
guests with deciding what to serve. Wonder what's some general
advice you can offer with regard to the catering selection?

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Catherine Porterfield: The general advice I have to offer, I would
say first off in picking a caterer--catering can make or break your
wedding 100-percent because it is--they're the ones who are
responsible for the setup and the breakdown; they're the ones who--
this actually goes into another kind of etiquette from the planning
side--one of the biggest problems that can happen is that if the caterer
you know--for example they're responsible for setting up the tables. If
they don't set up enough chairs at a table that's a huge--huge problem
and it is such an awkward situation for guests to show up and they
don't have a seat. And so they either have to you know bring--rush
another place setting and another chair or sometimes they have to
wheel in a whole other table; I mean that causes--it looks horrible. So
again making sure that you pick a caterer who really is--you know
you--you want to pick someone who's done plenty of weddings
because again, like it can make or break your--your ceremony and
your reception. So make sure they know what they're doing--constant
communication with them once you've--you've picked them is also
very, very key; but to go back--I'm getting ahead of myself--to go
back to picking a caterer I also just feel like caterers should--should
basically I mean--I mean jump through hoops to get the particular
clients they have as the wedding coordinator should, and really be
there and do whatever the bride and groom want. Obviously you give
advice; if the bride and groom want something that's--that's not you
know appropriate or not feasible, be able to advise them and give
them the best kind of solutions or alternate methods of--of getting
what they want, but they really just need to be accommodating and
trustworthy and again upfront get some referrals, look at pictures,
look at sample menus, see the number of weddings they've done--
specifically the number of weddings they've done within the guest
range that you're going to have for your wedding and then again call
those references and just kind of do as much research as you can
before actually hiring the caterer.

    Also look and see how willing they are to be flexible with your
schedule as far as if you do have many people who have specific diets
and--and how they're able to accommodate that and what they're able
to do, what solutions they're able to offer and see also what they're

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able to do about if you want something specific or again, like I
mentioned--with--with--there are these now-themed drinks. Are they
able to do these themed drinks? Are they able to you know do
something creative and fun that goes along with the theme that you
happened to have had in your head for your wedding and make sure
that they're able to meet all the needs that you have. And I also think
it's important--definitely taste the food. We--I say interview you know

anywhere from like six to eight caterers and then from there go to a
tasting with probably two or three and then base your choice on that
and--and then--and so food is obviously extremely important. Make
sure you like the food and also just make sure again that they're able
to meet all the needs that you have for what you want for your specific

Interviewer: Okay; let's talk about the wedding cake itself. How do
you decide what kind of cake is best from taste, you know what size,
what design; are--are some more popular than others?

Catherine Porterfield: I think some definitely are more popular than
others. The ones I basically have just dealt with honestly are very--are
either very simple cakes that are just you know--they're not--they're
not--they're tiered but they don't actually have the tiers with them, so
they're a layered cake--circles, pretty simple, usually you know three
different layers to it and then--or there's really actually a huge trend
and [it's called] abstract like Alice in Wonderland looking cakes that
are--almost look like they're lopsided and one is like a lopsided square
and then you've kind of got like a circle and then you've got you know
like a little kind of sphere at the top, so--and each one has got a
different pattern on it, but two completely different styles but they're
both--they've both become really, really popular. And with the--as far
as the--the taste--the tasting goes, obviously do that when you are
picking out your cake and you can--basically if you've got different
layers, you can have different--you know you can have a chocolate
layer or you can have you know just basic vanilla or--or almond
flavored or you--and then you have the kinds of different creams in
them and--most--most large bakeries can pretty much make whatever

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kind you want. If you want a carrot cake and then you want you know
the German chocolate layer--that's totally acceptable; they can do

     Some smaller cake shops only have like five or six to choose
from and you can pick that out you know and you--you're limited in
choice, but technically the cost is less if it's a smaller shop. However, I
do think obviously tasting is the most important and obviously looking
at plenty of pictures and seeing you know what their--their work is like
and--and what they've done and normally when you go to the cake
shop they actually should have some samples--sample cakes out for
you to see that they have done in the past or that they're going to be
using for an upcoming wedding or something. So that way you can see
it in person.

      And kind of--one of my biggest kind of little secrets I guess
would be that if the bride and groom, if they don't want to pay--you
know spend a lot of money on the cake and one thing you can do and
this can save them some money would be to get a--find out what the
minimum sized cake is that you can--that you can order. Typically you
know if you want one just to cut so you can you know kind of do that
tradition that's fine. And then normally the smallest I'd say is about a
25 to 35-person cake; you can get that with whatever design you want
and then when you pick the flavor of cake you want just have the--the
bakery make a sheet cake of that flavor in the back so that when the
caterer serves it you know no one will ever know that it didn't come
from this one on display but you're saving some money that way. So
it's kind of like a little trick of the trade that you learn--

Interviewer: Clever. [Laughs]

Catherine Porterfield: --so you kind of can cut some corners that

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah; what about just going all out on your own
and making your own cake? Are there pros or cons associated with

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Catherine Porterfield: If you really want to, if you're a--a chef or
some kind of baker or pastry chef that's great but I just think you
know weddings--weddings--obviously you're doing that the day before
your wedding. Your mind is not playing you know--does not want to
worry about making your wedding cake and the stress of that is--in
my opinion the day before your wedding. So generally I--I think it's
not a good idea but if someone has their heart set on it and they're
willing to handle it then that's fine; but typically I've never
encountered that and I do not recommend it. I think it's--I think it
would just be way too stressful, because it's hard--and then if it
doesn't work out it's--you're going to be getting a cake from the local
grocery store and you're--you don't really have a backup.

Interviewer: Let's talk about the--the groom's cake. Some folks
have never even heard of this phenomenon or part of--or part of the--
part of the day. What is it? When is it presented? How did this whole
thing start and is it necessary?

Catherine Porterfield: Not necessary and it was really popular I'd
say about like probably 50 years ago and then now it's really becoming
popular again. And what seems to be popular is it's a very

personalized cake. For example, I went to you know--I did a wedding
where the groom loved chocolate chip cookies, so his cake was a big--
looked like a big chocolate chip cookie. The other one has--they have--
you know the bride and groom had a cat that--that kind of everyone--
it was part of the family and everyone--you know all the friends and
family knew this cat, so the shape was in--was the shape of this cat.
Another wedding I did the husband was--or the groom was a sculptor
so they put one of his--he did trees, sculpted these beautiful kind of
like trees and he would put that in the middle of his cake and he made
his cake--it was a tiramisu cake and that was his favorite kind of
dessert, so again these very personalized bachelor or groom cakes--
excuse me--they're a huge, huge trend and they're definitely coming
back. And typically how they are presented they can either be--for
most places they're just out on display the whole time. There may be

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an opposite room for where the wedding cake is but they're just out
for everyone to see. There's no presentation and they don't even really
serve the cake; it's typically just cut and then after the--the bride and
groom have cut their wedding cake then the--the groom's cake is just
cut and kind of placed on the table and if someone wants a slice or
piece of that cake they just go get it themselves. It's not served from
table to table, but again it's a huge, huge trend coming back.

Interviewer: Great; now let's talk flowers.

Catherine Porterfield: Okay.

Interviewer: Go to a happy place.

Catherine Porterfield: [Laughs]

Interviewer: What flowers should you use and what are some that
you should never use?

Catherine Porterfield: There--you know there--there are really--
there--there--any flower is acceptable, however obviously it kind of
goes by seasons or what's in style or--sorry what's in bloom and
what's not. And you can see definitely do seasonal flowers; there are
some like someone would say carnations are--are totally you know--
they're not appropriate. They're not allowed. But you know what?
They're making a comeback too, so sometimes they are included. It
really just again depends on the theme of the wedding.

   My rule of flowers is if someone is really, really particular about
the--your flowers obviously go with your color scheme. So what you

do is that you either--the bride and groom kind of will pick--if--if they
more--are more into what the bridesmaids are going to wear and the
color of the linen and things like that, make those decisions first, and
then go to your flowers. If you're very into your flowers and what you
want your centerpieces to look like and what you want your bouquets
to look like, pick your flowers and then pick your--everything else to

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go around that. So you kind of just have to see what's more important
to you, weigh that, and then whatever your decision is either pick your
flowers first or pick your flowers based on your linens and your
bridesmaids dresses and your kind of--your overall color theme.

Interviewer: Great.

Catherine Porterfield: And flowers again you know a lot of times
you know in the summer it's a hydrangea and in the winter you know
it's kind of harder to get hydrangea; you can use white ones but it's a
little bit more--little bit more difficult to get those. So and your colors-
-definitely kind of also go with the--the season that it is; fall typically a
little bit more you know--you've got these oranges and browns and
reds and greens; in the winter definitely a lot of red and white and
green or some blues in there; and then you know spring is pastel and
then summer is bright colors--yellows, purples--things like that. It
doesn't mean that--that has to be the case; but that's typically how it
is done.

Interviewer: Great; now the--the centerpieces, what are some
examples of creative ideas of--of floral centerpieces that have worked
for you or that you've seen? Do they--do they have to match the
bouquets or what are some tips for those--the centerpieces?

Catherine Porterfield: They definitely do not have to match the
bouquets--in the same color, you know kind of family but they can be
different flowers, they can be you know--they can be completely--you
know completely different flowers but even just one of the same colors
you know. Just make sure that it's somehow linked to the--to the
bridesmaids and to their dresses and the bouquets that they held but
you know as long as there's one connecting color so that you can kind
of see how they all go together in some small way that's all that is
necessary. And different things to do would be you know to have some
tables have you know--some tables could have like big topiaries, which
are you know--or--or large vases; they've got these really tall kind of
like a free-flowing type of centerpieces and then have other tables
have very short, small ones; that gives--kind of gives the room height

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and also kind of gives different kind of texture to the entire room

because you're able to--to kind of just do different things and it kind of
pops all over but it's not overwhelming. You don't have all these huge
you know vases and centerpieces on every single table; so it's a nice

     Another thing to do would be incorporate fruit. That's kind of
another big trend; so you kind of have this--mix the--the flower pieces
come a little bit more alive. You can--a lot of lemons are popular or
limes or apples--kind of depending on what your--your theme is and
the color of your flowers. That's something else you can be creative
with; sometimes people put pictures in with the flowers, so that--you
know like little--you know one picture will be coming out or they'll--
they'll have kind of frames around the centerpieces and then just small
flowers and that way again it's making the table really personalized
and--and kind of you know that way you don't have to use as many
flowers. The flower is definitely also a big part of the budget depending
on what you do and centerpieces are really, really--they can--it can
add up. So finding ways and obviously to use more fruits and things
like that and then that also takes away from the number of flowers
that you're buying; so that's another I think [inaudible] increasing

Interviewer: Right; now for the cake and the flowers and the
centerpieces, do you get to keep them, should they be kept; what are
some tips for saving all of these things?

Catherine Porterfield: For the flowers typically what happens is the-
-for the centerpieces--well I guess I'll start with the bouquets. The
bride typically wants to keep her bouquet; the best thing to do is hang
it upside down the day after or starting that night and to see--
depending on what's in your bouquet--tulips usually don't keep but
you know roses will keep. They will dry very beautifully. Hydrangeas
will dry very--very beautifully. Typically the greens in the flowers--in
the bouquets will and then the ones that just don't keep just kind of
pull those out. It usually takes about a week for the flowers to dry but

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just leave them hanging upside down.

     The bridesmaids, typically what happens is that with their
bouquets they either put it on a table when they get to the reception
around the guestbook or around the cake itself because the flowers
will kind of match the flowers on the cake if there are flowers on the
cake. At the end of the night the bridesmaids are--can definitely take
their bouquets back and do whatever they want with them. If they
want to keep them, again it's hanging them upside down. For the

centerpieces it would be--most families they will either--depending,
they will either--if the--if the bride and groom get married at the
church they will donate the flowers to the church to use for that
weekend or for that Sunday or just for wherever or sometimes they
will donate it to a local hospital or they'll donate it to a hospice--things
like that, or they will also let at the end of the night whoever is still
around, they'll tell everyone please take home you know a bouquet to
remind you of the--the wedding and please enjoy it at your house, you
know. They'll usually last you know a little less than a week. So that's
what happens or it just--it gets left at the reception site. So it kind of
just depends on--usually people do not take the centerpieces unless
the family asks them to, so if you want your guests to take the
flowers--the centerpieces home with you definitely make sure that you
announce that.

   Another thing that can be done if you're having a brunch the
next day, take the flowers to the brunch and use them again there
because they'll still look beautiful the next day. So that's another
thing--especially if the brunch is at a family house or something like
that; you can definitely just reuse those flowers.

    With the cake, the caterer should typically ask the bride and
groom if they want to keep the top of the cake, which is done so you
can eat it on your one-year anniversary and it's frozen for a year. And
what the caterer will do then is take the top of the cake that night and
put it in the refrigerator or the freezer at the venue and then the bride
and groom should get it or give it to the wedding coordinator at the

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end of the night to store and then if the coordinator gets it, give it to
the bride and groom you know the next day or when they get back
from their honeymoon or the bride and groom will take it with--take it
with them that night and immediately freeze it. And then you open it
on--and get to eat it on your wedding anniversary.

Interviewer: Now with regard to gifts, you mentioned untraditional
gifts earlier like donations and we find that couples are registering for
you know honeymoons and cash towards down payments for example;
is this trend becoming more popular? Is it okay?

Catherine Porterfield: I think it's definitely okay and it is definitely
popular. A lot of times you know you can--you mentioned the
honeymoon. People can give money for honeymoons; they can go--
they can be more specific than that. They can give them a free meal at
some restaurant in Australia where the bride and groom are going to
be. So it can really be--people like doing that--that when the bride and

groom are there eating they'll think of the--you know the guest that
gave them that gift and it's giving them you know a special meal on
their--their honeymoon.

      Another thing people will do would be you know typically there's
a year to give a gift after a wedding. And so what some people will do
is if they don't want to you know go to the traditional registry they'll
try something a little bit more personalized and--and different knowing
that the couple loves you know French cuisine or something. They will
go and give a--excuse me--they'll give a gift certificate to a French
restaurant and maybe give them you know a bottle of wine with the
gift certificate and you know if this has been several months or almost
a year, if you're getting--getting close to that one-year anniversary
and that one-year deadline to get your gift in, you can do that and say
go and enjoy your one-year anniversary on me, you know. Here--here
is my gift to you; I want to give you something a little bit different. At
this point you're probably sick of you know getting another you know
china setting or place setting or whatever; so it's a lot of--again the
personalized gifts are becoming really, really popular. At the other end

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of the spectrum, gift cards are huge. People would rather just give you
know--it's not cash but it's a gift card to a particular store and you
know that way the guest isn't trying to you know figure out what--if
the registry is all full and there's nothing left but you know--just a
couple random spatulas and garlic presses then they can just give the
gift certificate, and if the bride and groom want to spend their money
on the--you know the few remaining items that don't really kind of go
together as one gift, they can do that or they can save it and buy
furniture or something bigger for themselves. So that's a less
personalized gift obviously but it's--and it's at the other end of the
spectrum from the--the very personalized gift, but it also is very
practical and it's easy for everyone.

Interviewer: Now you know bachelor, bachelor(ette) parties,
showers--you know describe the original purpose and--and history
and--and how have these things changed over--over time and--and
are there any common themes that you've noticed that you're--you're
finding as you plan them or--or hear about?

Catherine Porterfield: You know they were originally created
obviously to kind of give the--the bride and groom each one more
night of--or day--or just to celebrate their single-hood and entering
into you know married union. But it--it typically--it now, I mean I--I
find again it's another like weekend, a lot of kind of like weekend
events where the guys and girls will both go away for a weekend

whether it's at the beach, whether it's to Vegas, whether to a NASCAR
race, fishing, New York--kind of anything. Whatever the bride and
groom each want to do then their friends plan for it. It's--it's typically
planned I would say by the maid of honor, the matron of honor, the--
or the best man. Sometimes if there's a brother and--or a sister, they
will plan the--the bachelor or bachelor(ette) party just depending. Now
what exactly it is, again like I said it can be going fishing, it can be you
know--it could be going to you know a men's lounge; it could be doing
anything. And with women it is also again anything. Sometimes it's
going out you know at night to a nice dinner and then going out to the
bars or going out dancing. There's also this huge spa trend where

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everyone goes out and they you know get manicures and pedicures
and facials and massages and do that for a day and have some tea--
very, very relaxing, also going to the beach for a weekend; getting a
bunch of girls together and making it like a three-day event and just
enjoying your time on the beach and you know in each other's
company and each day can have maybe a different you know planned
event. So it really--they are not as simple as they used to be; it's not
just you know going out to dinner anymore. It's definitely bigger--I
think bigger is better is kind of the--the general rule now.

Interviewer: Great; now total cost--what are some of the--the
current stats on the average national cost of weddings? A lot of
people gasp when they just think of the mere thought of wedding
planning because of the price. So what--what are the stats looking like
these days?

Catherine Porterfield: It's hard on a national level I would say just-
-and you know--because it is--you know the wedding that I planned in
Cape Cod was--the cost was completely different than what I'm used
to in DC. So it really just--just depends on the location. I would say for
most kind of--like an area like Washington, DC if you're going to have
a wedding of 100 people and it's going to be--with a meal and it's
going to have alcohol it's going to be hard to have that for under
$20,000 I would say. It's just--you know typically for 100 people with
catering and drinks you know that catering bill alone is going to be
about $10,000; so that's not even factoring in the flowers and rental
facilities and you know paying that rental fee and--and photographers
and cakes and flowers. It just--it's really--and music, it just all adds
up, so I would say $20,000 to $25,000--it's really hard to do. If you're
going to have a wedding of that size it's hard to do anything for under

Interviewer: Right; any tips for keeping costs down?

Catherine Porterfield: There are definitely tips. The--the cake tip
that I guess that I gave earlier, you know getting the smallest one
made and then doing you know a sheet cake in the back--seeing if

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that would make a difference. Another thing with centerpieces, there
are many ways to cut corners. You know don't go--just get--no one is
looking at the actual you know vase or the--vase sometimes will be
small silver-looking containers--they don't have to be real silver; no
one is looking at them. The flowers can hang over it and no one will
ever know. A lot of times you put a mirror underneath that it kind of
makes the flower arrangement seem to be even bigger, so you can
make it smaller and you're saving money on that. There are plenty of
ways--the gifts that people use to give at--at every wedding to their
guests, no one really uses those and it's just--it's a lot of money that
just really doesn't need to be spent. If you want to do anything you
can say a gift, you know donation was made in your name on behalf of
the bride and groom to such and such a charity. And you can put a
little card on each table for that. And that is you know--it's a very
thoughtful thing to do and it's also--it's--it's less expensive.

    People, there was a huge trend a while ago for everyone to give-
-or have disposable cameras on their tables and now days just with
everything being digital those cameras--no one really uses them. Half
the time you're going to get out of maybe 30 cameras that you buy
maybe enough--like maybe 30 or 36 good photos. But the rest--and
that's why you hired a photographer. Don't--it's just--it's--again it's a
waste of money; it's a cute idea but it's really--I find just not--just not
worth it. There are definitely ways to--to kind of cut corners and with
each vendor you can do that as well. With the photographer, with the
package that you get, with your cake, with your florist, there are
always different ways, so make sure you just talk--you know as a
wedding planner you talk to your bride and groom about what they
want and then be able to communicate that with your vendor and with
the you know--just do some research and find ways that you can
make--you know cut these little corners and--and kind of bring the
cost of the overall wedding down.

Interviewer: Great; I was just thinking--just today I got an email
from one of my girlfriends who just returned from having her wedding
abroad and I wrote her this email about how did it go you know, sorry
I couldn't make it, tell me about it; and the first thing that she said to

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me in her email was we had a great time. And that really struck me as
you know that's really what it's all about is enjoying yourself. It's one
of the most important days of your life and it's very important to make

sure that you enjoy yourself, you have fun and--and that it's
memorable. So what can brides and grooms do to insure that they will
enjoy their wedding day and avoid stress and--and prevent disasters
so they can look back at it and say you know it was a good time?

Catherine Porterfield: You know I do--I honestly do think that
hiring a wedding planner is a huge--it's a huge help; it's--I mean just
to help them be able--you want to have one person that you can kind
of just--you don't have to worry about being necessarily--being polite
to or offending them or hurting their feelings, and you know a family
member--family members, it's an important day for them too and you
want them to be able to have fun. So having a wedding planner is just
someone that you know it's a professional relationship and you know
you can just be very direct and--and I think that's really helpful and if
you're stressing, you know the bride and groom, they can just you
know say please can you help me do this and you're not taking the
wedding planner away from enjoying the reception. They're not a
guest; they're working it. So I think that's one thing.

      And another thing as a wedding planner which I always try to do
is I always try to make sure that the bride and groom have some food
in the waiting areas before the ceremony so they each have a little
something just to make sure there's some food in their stomach and
they have some water, or if they want some champagne or wine or
beer--just something to kind of help calm them down and I think it's
also really important for after the wedding to make sure that the bride
and groom get 10 minutes. You know the day goes by so fast and
they're talking to so many people they never really get to focus on
what just happened and that you know they just committed their lives
to each other, so to have a room or place to go where they can be
alone for 10 minutes--no photographers, you know nobody--just set
up a room for them where there are some hors d'oeuvres and they can
actually eat, because most of the time you know the bride and groom

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do not get to eat at the reception because they're running around
talking to people. They can have a glass of champagne and something
to eat and just spend 10 minutes alone with each other and just kind
of relax and prepare themselves for--for talking and dancing and being
around all night and being able to focus on what they just did, I think
that really--that 10 minutes is all it takes--it's really a great time for
them to really put the day and--or night or just the overall experience
in perspective.

Interviewer: Now the profession itself, I want to become a wedding
consultant. How do I do that?

Catherine Porterfield: I think the best thing to do is to really just
make sure--do your research and know your stuff and you know make
sure you know what's involved and what's entailed and I think the best
thing to do is to start out as just doing--if you have a friend or if you
have someone you know who is getting married and say look; you
know this is an area I want to get involved in. Can I please kind of tag
along with you and watch? You don't want to start off in the beginning
being responsible for a wedding your--your very first time, you--as
your first experience. You want to maybe kind of follow someone
around. If you don't have a friend who is getting married, maybe go
and ask and try to do some kind of internship through a wedding firm
or just say you know I'd like to volunteer my services. I know it
sounds kind of crazy to say you're going to give up so much of your
time but it is kind of like an apprenticeship and really just try to follow
someone around so that you can then learn what it's like to deal with
all these vendors and--and everything like that. And then I think it's--
in the beginning it's a little bit easier to kind of just--to just the day of
wedding planning because like I said you're not responsible for all
these big decisions; you're just responsible for you know making sure
things are delivered when they're supposed to, so you can't really be
held accountable for kind of everything but just you know making sure
the things--just that day of making sure things are delivered and that
the bride's and groom's plans have been executed as they wanted it to
be, but you don't have kind of ultimate control, so it's kind of a nice
way to kind of get your feet wet. And then from there as you get--you

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Wedding Planning Uncovered

feel more comfortable then start taking on full clients. And--but when
you're ready to be at that point you should have business cards and
you should have your company registered--everything like that, be as
professional as possible, so that you know when you--again like I said
it all comes back to trust and if you are--you know if you have
business cards and it shows that you've made this effort into this
business venture for yourself then they'll trust that you--that you're
going to do well because you know the bride and groom will know that
this--that you've committed to this and this is your--you know your
goal now and your career goal and this is something that you want to
do. So make sure when you're ready to run on your own that you are
ready and--both professionally and that you have the experience that
you need.

Interviewer: Great; Catherine, thank you so much for being gracious
enough to join us. This information has been extremely helpful. We've
been talking to Catherine Porterfield, who is a consultant in wedding
planning. For those of you out there listening who would like to learn

more about the profession itself or if you're interested in finding out
how Catherine can help you plan the perfect wedding day, Catherine
how can they go about reaching you?

Catherine Porterfield: The best way is email and that would be and that's Catherine, C-a-t-h-e-r-i-n-
e--P-o-r-t-e-r-f-i-e-l-d at

Interviewer: Great; thank you so much.

Catherine Porterfield: Great; thank you very much.

Interviewer: Take care; bye-bye.

Catherine Porterfield: Bye-bye.

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