brides magazine: do not feed your wedding photographer …

We came across an article by Sandy Malone, she’s a destination wedding planner and has had a show on TV. I’ve spoken with her personally on social media and this post is not to attack her. We have a different viewpoint from what she wrote and it is directly applicable to the area we live in, the Midwest – who typically experience very long, traditional, ceremonial wedding days. Also, we’re nice people over here.

Here is the article at Bride’s Magazine.

update: Bride’s Magazine removed the article. Controversy? february 5, 2016

second update: Thanks to Sean Molin you can’t delete anything from the internet, here’s the archive version. Bride’s Magazine simply deleted the post, thinking the negative social media would go away. I hope they plan on addressing the situation.

our viewpoint on feeding wedding vendors


Almost all bands have a rider in their contract that will require a meal. The meal will be given to them before guests arrive or during cocktail hour. While they should be playing during the meal (IF you have contracted that additional hour), then it is up to the band to either eat before or have a few of the musicians playing. Music should be softer in sound anyway, not a full blown band with singing while guests try to dine and talk.


Many do not have in their contract to be fed. It’s an understanding. If your photographers have been with you from the hair salon (at 10am), pre-wedding photos, ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrances, a welcome speech … then it bodes that they need to eat. HAVE to eat. If you are unwilling to provide a meal for them, then expect that they have the right to leave the wedding to eat and then return. Who wants that? They don’t need anything special, although she is right, in many circumstances it is more difficult for the catering to provide special, less expensive meals. Either way, they need to refuel their bodies. NO PHOTOS SHOULD BE TAKEN DURING THE MEAL. It’s in poor taste and photos that will never be used in any photo album.

wedding planner team

See above for the photographers, same rule is applied.


It’s customary in our area to feed your DJ. They setup before guests arrive and then return to be on-site for 5+ hours.

who could you skip?

Perhaps you have certain vendors that “just showed up” (i.e. photo booth). They setup early and then are able to leave and return when the booth is to be open, may not require a meal. However, it’s better to feed vendors and have them on-site should the timeline need to be shifted due to unforeseeable circumstances.

While you should never need to contract a meal for your transportation driver that has to sit outside for hours to provide guests rides, we will wait until everyone is fed and IF there is left over food, go outside and give the driver a plate. Same goes for security (although most caterers will feed them anyway). This is not included in your catering final count. We do this, because we are all human beings and it’s a nice act of kindness.

final thoughts …

Your wedding planners will work with the caterers to have meals set in a different room while YOU eat. Please note, we don’t care where we eat. Usually it is the first time we have sat down all day and we literally gulf our food down. It’s not pretty. We’ve eaten with plates on our laps in stairwells. We aren’t complaining, our bodies need to fuel up.

Finally, know that we live in a geographical location that being gratuitous to your wedding vendors — that you will continue to see or interact with on social media or in person, is expected. We are not a destination location that you can whiz in, whiz out and never see that vendor again.

So please keep all of this in mind when reading articles that give this type of advice.

featured photo credit: pfe iphone

plan on!

madelyn pike feature

how to propose to your loved one …

Welcome our guest blogger

Today we are so excited to feature a guest blogger, previous bride and client, Madelyn. She had a sweet little wedding last year and we were so pleased to be a part of it.

She married an amazing guy who planned an awesome proposal. But we’ll let her tell the story. -pfe team

Hello lovely people! My name is Madelyn Pike (which is a name this new-wifey is still getting accustomed to!)

A quickie bio about me: I’m 23 years-old. I live in Newburgh, Indiana and I work in recruiting. Things I love include weekend trips, monograms, Chipotle, and I’ve never met a day planner I didn’t like. I firmly dislike alarm clocks and the gym.  My husband’s name is Tyler; I married him because he’s the most charismatic person I’ve ever met, makes me laugh every single day, and looks good doing it. 

Tyler and I married in June 2015 with the help of planning…forever events. During the planning process, I was asked to contribute a guest-blog. Unfortunately, I never found enough time to write. But now that we’re happily wed, I’m ready to reflect on this whirlwind of a planning process!

Proposal Photography

Tyler proposed in downtown Newburgh on June 22, 2014. Being the closet-romantic that he is, Tyler arranged a photographer to capture the most exciting surprise of my life! Having photos of this special moment is something I would recommend to anyone. Like all good things, it’s over in the blink of an eye! And like engagement and wedding photography, Proposal Photos are a way to relive the thrill all over again.

To make capturing your proposal a success, below are some tips for both fiancés-to-be.

1. Work with professionals.

In a pinch, having a close friend or family members snap pictures on their phone works. But 98.5% of the time, those photos will lack the artistic merit of a professional photographer. Do some research, ask for referrals, and find someone who has the experience and portfolio.

If you don’t have the time to research, or don’t know what you’re looking for, contact a wedding planner who specializes in all things wedding. #pfe does offer engagement planning services. They will stay behind the scenes and let the proposer take all the credit! 

burk pike proposal photos 1

2. Have a creative story.

A week before Tyler proposed, he asked me to accompany him to dinner with his parents the following weekend. Later, he mentioned it would be at Victoria National Golf Club. On Sunday, we had an early lunch and he suggested grabbing an appetizer downtown before dinner.

This was all a set-up; a series of nonchalance that ultimately led to my open calendar, appropriate attire for a nice dinner out, and growling stomach. The idea of a proposal NEVER crossed my mind, which added to the surprise. If you’re a prankster like my now-husband, the game of tricking her will be half the fun!

3. If this is a surprise: Be yourself!

If you don’t own a tie and your idea of a fancy restaurant includes the word “Roadhouse,” I do not suggest using a fancy dinner to lure her out. You might as well wear a shirt that says, “Something special is happening tonight!!”

IF you really want it to be a surprise, strategize a plan that fits your girlfriend and your personality as a couple. This is another way that a professional planner can be an asset. For example, I have a friend who is an athlete.  Her boyfriend took her to Indianapolis under the pretense of attending a Colts game. The tickets didn’t even exist, but she didn’t mind when he dropped to one knee at Monument Circle.

burk pike proposal photos 2

3. Encourage a mani.

Part II of that story deserves a certain emphasis. Earlier that day, Tyler noticed my week-old nail polish was chipping (a rarity for me.) With a joke, he called me out. I painted my nails that afternoon. I have never been so grateful! I would have been so mad at myself looking down at my shiny new ring on un-manicured fingers. 

Disclaimer: If your girlfriend couldn’t care less about something like her nails, don’t mention it. Drawing attention to it will only make her suspicious. 

4. Choose a photogenic location.

The last thing you’ll want is a neon McDonald’s sign in the background or random crowds of strangers walking right through your photos.  Start by finding a reasonably low-traffic spot, if possible (obviously you can’t expect to avoid crowds in Central Park or at the Eiffel Tower.) Again, hiring an expert will help you find the perfect spot to pop the question.

burk pike proposal photos 3

5. Consider public versus private.

A public proposal is a fun and vibrant affair. Passerby’s will stop to watch and cheer when they hear, “Yes!” and if your friends and family are present, they’ll love witnessing your happiness firsthand. On the flipside, you can’t beat the quiet intimacy of a private proposal, and the chance to keep it a secret between just the two of you for a little while.

If you can’t make up your mind, do a little of both! My best friend’s now-husband proposed while they were walking along the river in downtown Newburgh. When she said yes, he led her up to Café Arazu where both sets of parents where waiting, having secretly watched from afar.  They were able to have a private and romantic moment and immediately celebrate with their families after.

6. Have a Plan B, C, and D. Maybe even an E.

My husband suggested this one! I have literally just found out that he spent over a month planning how he would propose. I am shocked, but also not surprised. It was truly perfect and makes me feel so special that he put this amount of thought behind it. His advice is to think of it as a game plan (or to hire someone to do that for you.) Then don’t panic if it doesn’t go according to plan; just go with it. It will be perfect.

photo credit: Abby Wendholt

happy proposing! 


plan your engagement photos …

We’ve always been an advocate for engagement photos and have talked about it frequently on the pfe blog. Our engagement photo is still hanging on the wall of our bedroom, 22 years later. We are often amused at how sweet and young we looked.

a few tips before you book your engagement photo session …

  1. Be yourself. If you area casual person, wear your favorite clothes and colors that make you feel good. Don’t try to be formal if that’s not you. Go to places that are meaningful to the both of you. A restaurant, grocery store, cafe, whatever. Be you!
  2. Don’t be intimidated. There are a lot of creative engagement shots on Pinterest and all over the internet. You, be you.
  3. Book your trial hair and makeup appointment. You’re going to pay for this service anyway, why not book those appointments early in the day and take your engagement photos later in the afternoon?
  4. Time of the year. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten your engagement photos until only a few months before your wedding IF the weather hasn’t been cooperating. It’s not that big of a deal.
  5. Several outfits. This is not necessarily something you have to do, but consider taking some clothing options to make the most of your session. So you can have a lot of different looks.
feature photo credit: equinox photography

plan on!


how to save money when planning your wedding …

… and other erroneous advice brought to you by ABC News Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee (ABC meteorologist).

Let me preface this blog post before I begin that I absolutely adore ABC Good Morning America and all their anchors and professionals. NBC Today show can suck it as long as they have Matt (Narcissistic) Lauer as their anchor. Also I am proud to be on TV with a local ABC affiliate. So it saddened me deeply to see this segment they did about “saving money when planning your wedding”. Because the “expert” Francesco Bilotto and the information he passed on was a huge pile of  … well, you’ll see.

Here’s the online link to the segment, I highly recommend you click over and watch the video before reading my rebuttal. And in case you can’t watch the video right now, please read on.

I’ve printed out their 7 ways to save a buck at your wedding … my rebuttal is underneath each point.

1. Keep it simple. Don’t reinvent the color wheel with add-ons such as special plates and linens; try to work with the natural beauty of the venue.

Keeping it simple is certainly your choice. I do agree, don’t fight the venue. i.e. Don’t pick a rustic space if you want an elegant type of wedding. Highlight the natural beauty of the venue and don’t fight it. Agreed. However if you are not a flower person, then bringing in colored or textured linens is the least expensive way to make a powerful statement in your wedding decor. Ask an interior designer (not Francesco, apparently), what is the least expensive option to making a bold statement in a room? The answer: paint it.

2. Use a florist that is not on your venue’s preferred list. You could save at least $2,500 that way.

 You should know as a consumer that often venue’s “preferred vendor’s list” is a paid list. Which is not a big deal, but the venue should be transparent about it. They are not necessarily the best vendors around, just vendors that plunked down advertising money. Back to Francesco’s pearls of wisdom: While a vendor may have to pay a venue to be selected as a client’s choice, the average fee would be 15%, typically, not more than that. Perhaps in NYC it is more. Going with what bride Ginger was first quoted for her wedding flowers, $10,000, then that would only be a savings of $1,500 (at 15%).

3. Rethink vases. Adding vases to floral centerpieces could get add at least $100 to the cost of each table.

{Scratching my head} So, walk me through this  …. we are supposed to put green, wet, oasis full of flowers directly on the white poly table-cloth provided by the venue? What the hell is that suppose to look like? When it starts to fall apart and melt everywhere? And where are they getting small vases (shown in the video) that are worth $100 TO RENT? (I know NYC is more expensive than the Midwest, but not THAT crazy. I just got back from Manhattan two days ago and their gas price was only $.15 more a gallon than what we pay locally). Most small, round vases to rent would be anywhere from $4 – $10 a vase.

4. Rethink the flowers you choose, and how you use them. Francesco Bilotto, who is planning Zee’s wedding, is using carnations for her big day. He called it “the forgotten, abused flower.” He also said that not every table needs to have flowers. “Every other one, maybe do an arrangement and sporadic ones in between and some candles,” Bilotto said.

Okay, this I’m on board with. I love carnations, they are a less expensive flower. However you need to use A LOT of them to make an impact. Or you’ll end up with prom centerpieces back in the day (one carnation, one fern and one sprig of baby’s breath). *barf*

And IT IS okay to have tables with no flowers … lots of candles and water in vases. Oh gosh, yes, we’ll have to use vases for this as most venues do not allow open flame. Sorry Point #3, we’re now backtracking …

5. Rethink your wedding photographer. “The best thing to do is contact your local school – find somebody that wants to build a career with their skills,” Bilotto said. “Nine out of 10 you’ll save $8,000 just paying for the cost of their camera, their developing and their time. You’ve made a college kid happy and you’ve got some great photos.”

I am resisting the urge to start cussing like a sailor. In a few instances for our events, we have used second shooters or college students (think a photo booth or montage). Those are set-up shots with easy retakes.

I strongly urge you to use your money that you saved from not having vases on your tables (snicker) to put towards the best professional wedding photographer that you can afford. Please. It will be worth it.

SIDE NOTE: Bride’s do not care if they are making some “college kid happy” on their special, special day. Any experienced planner would know that.

6. Rethink having a formal, sit-down dinner. “I actually prefer you do not do that formal sit-down dinner. No one wants to sit next to your Aunt Sally with horrible cologne all night long,” Bilotto said. “Think about doing a few buffet stations or grazing stations, as the caterers’ call it, and a few hors d’oeuvres. Be careful with that because staff adds in the price again. At the end of the day, it’s about the people you are with.”

Listen lovelies, an hors d’oeuvres dinner will cost you more than a buffet dinner. A sit-down dinner will cost you more than a buffet, because the caterer has to have additional staff to serve. At the end of the day, it IS about the people you are with. But if your guests are leaving to go home to eat because they are hangry, then it will end up being just about you. Side note: go ahead and google “grazing stations” for weddings. Will. Not. Save. You. Money.

(Holy Smokes, we are almost done …)

7. Rethink the cake. (Yes, the cake!) Nowadays, many couples are opting for a smaller cake for cutting at the ceremony and feeding the guests a sheet cake. Or they’re having a “fake cake” made – an elaborately designed cake with several fake layers and just one layer for the couple to eat. And, yes, guests are fed from a sheet cake. Guests don’t need to know!

Late Breaking News: Use a fake cake for your wedding to save you money. {insert the eye roll} Here’s the skinny on this subject. One of the most expensive and luxurious resorts locally, West Baden Hotel, use fake cakes for their weddings. Always. One tier has real cake and that is what the couple cuts into in front of everyone. However, this is not to save you money. Oh, no. They still have to decorate an “elaborately designed cake” which takes time and artistry. And that charge is passed along to you.

The real reason they use a fake, ahem, excuse me … faux cake is so their guest service is not compromised. Couple cuts the cake on the dance floor, it is wheeled away … minutes later, the wait staff is serving cake table side to guests. This is of course from sheet cakes that were cut and plated earlier. Guests think the wait staff service is awesome, there are no delays and the meal service is completed quickly for dancing and other festivities.

THAT is why, Francesco, the fake wedding cake is a good idea. Wrap that up and stuff it in your pocket square.

I’m exhausted. My own final thoughts to this debacle of a segment:

  1. I bet Ginger is getting free wedding planning services from Francesco for media promotion. Can’t wait to see photos of her wedding from her university student photographer and loose carnation centerpieces.
  2. ABC should look into hiring university students to forecast the weather. I’m sure they could get them for $1,000 a month, a savings of ….
  3. Why show photos OF LAVISH and beautiful weddings while talking about cutting back on flowers and having no vases? (yeah, okay, I’m stuck on the vase thing, because it’s weird). It doesn’t make sense. Show photos of pretty budget weddings.
  4. Finally, we advocate and help our clients save money on their wedding day. This rant blog post was NOT about spending more money on your wedding, instead, knowing realistically and more importantly, accurately where you can save a dime.

ps I know you have opinions on this, so let’s do it. Come on’ …. post a comment.

plan on!


not-seeing-each-other-before-ceremony feature

first look before your ceremony

It’s still a controversy. Do you see each other before your wedding ceremony? Honestly, most of our clients ARE seeing each other, about 70%. We find it’s usually the groom that doesn’t want to see his bride before the wedding. Go figure.

There are a lot of pro’s and con’s to this and we’ve talked about it before on this series here.

bottom line:

  1. Do what you want to do.
  2. Remember, sometimes it really helps to calm you down.
  3. Your vendors will setup an epic First Look. Just you and your groom/bride (and a photographer and videographer capturing the moment). Most of the time the groom’s cry, not the bride. See the photos below.
  4. Be flexible. Inclement weather and other situations may change your opinion about seeing each other.
  5. Almost every single one of our clients that saw each other, were happy they did. They enjoyed their day and their wedding reception so much more.

here’s a glimpse of real First Looks (this could be you!)


photo credit: amy shepherd photography

Or you could not see each other but take some cute photos like the one in our featured photo with our bride Erin and groom Zach.

featured photo credit: elizabeth vincent photography

plan on!