Saturday, February 28, 2015

Only You Can Prevent Worse Case Wedding Scenarios

A little Flashback this weekend from one of my old BAB posts. Enjoy!

Photo: Marissa Maharaj
So, those of you who’ve been following me around know that I found my copy of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings this week, and have been laughing my butt off ever since. From how to get handcuffs off after a bachelor party, to what to do if your dress is ruined or lost (“Select a bridesmaid that is closest to you in size. Take her dress … and inform her gently that she is out of the wedding.”) the advice is harsh, hilarious and dead-on. But it got me thinking about two of the worst worst-case scenarios that I’ve faced in the past six years and how you can avoid them.
Yes, now is the time when I put the Fear of God into you. Strap In.

Get All the Rentals You Need
I love telling the story about the first wedding my assistant Maeline ever worked with me on, about three years ago. Talk about a baptism by fire — I’d been given the job by another planner who had pretty much had it with the bride’s family, and vice versa. She eventually quit planning weddings altogether. Yes, that’s how bad it was. So, of course, I was more than happy to take over, a week before the wedding. I was so young. All I had to do, I was assured, was double-check the vendor arrival times, and run the day according to the timeline that the ex-planner gave me. Sidebar: if anyone starts a sentence with “All you have to do”, they are lying. The family got all their rentals from their synagogue and they were all a bunch of crap — the soup bowls were the size of creme brulee cups, they didn’t bring enough plates or silverware, and their portable oven, which had to connect to an actual, potentially explosive gas tank, had a frayed hose. I sent Maeline to a barbecue supply store (they laughed at her when she showed them the hose),  the hardware store, Michaels and Target, while I put out other fires at the venue with a big smile on my face. Of course, the bride never knew what was going on, which is the whole point, but oh, man, did it get loud there for a minute. Plus, luckily, Maeline always keeps a roll of duct tape in her car — it was for the oven hose, NOT for the bride’s family. At a wedding a few months after that, the florists  dropped off a bunch of outdoor heaters … without telling anyone how to  turn them on. And of course, since they were florists, they’d gotten them from somewhere else, so once I finally tracked them down, they had no idea how to work the heaters themselves.

So, note to you: Get your rentals from an actual rental company or directly from your venue. Sit down with the company and go over all your wedding details with them, event by event and hour by hour. If they tell you that you need a certain amount of whatever, get it. It is always better to have and not need, than need and not have. Always. Try and look at as much of the rentals as you can beforehand. If they are dropping off anything that needs to be lit or connected or turned on or off, make sure that there is someone on-site who knows how to do that when it needs to be done, even if that someone is you.  And, just in case, know where the closest grocery and supply stores are to where you’re getting married. Won’t hurt.

Prep For Your Outdoor Summer Wedding
It’s hot. And it’s going to be hot even if it is your wedding day. And depending on where you live, it might also be humid. Yay. I think it was … what, the third wedding I ever coordinated: I went to check on the wedding cake right before the reception, and the back side of it was melting. Melting! If I close my eyes, I can still see it.  I didn’t know that cake frosting could do that, and now you do, too. I’ve also had guests faint because it was so hot out. You guys in the South and on the East Coast are lucky, because when the sun goes down it’s still warm out, but here in the L.A. desert, the temperature drops, and suddenly you’re shivering like a wet dog in your low-cut sundress. And people forget that all the time, it cracks me up. Am I the only one who remembers to leave a jacket in the car? Anyway, note to you: Cakes do not belong in direct sunlight, or if you’re inside, under hot lights. Your venue has dealt with this a thousand times before, so ask them what time you should have the cake delivered and where it should be placed in order to keep it in one piece. And please, please, for me, don’t try to move the cake once it’s been set. At Ellen and Patrick’s wedding in a couple of weeks, there will be pitchers of water and lemonade set-up at the ceremony site. Aim for over-hydration. If you’re getting married outside, wear sunscreen … maybe even have a couple bottles out for your forgetful guests. My sister-in law bought a bunch of parasols (cheap, downtown) for her wedding guests, which also cut down on sunburns. I know that you east-coasters get rain in the summer, so if the forecast says so, don’t be a hero. Get a tent, or make plans to move inside. You’re welcome!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wedding Tech vs. Your Wedding Guests

My weekly advice column on The Broke Ass Bride is Up:
Obviously, technology plays a huge part in our lives, but there’s a lot of corners you can find yourself banging into when it comes to tech in Wedding World.
Look, first it started with personal wedding websites and online gift registries. Then e-vites and e-RSVPs and cute apps that keep your guests and your wedding party constantly updated on your plans for the Big Day. You know, if they download the app.
It can never be enough, it seems, but it can also be too much. Because your pursuit of a perfectly efficient, streamlined, green wedding planning experience, will, somewhere along the way, fall victim to human nature.

The Tech That is Good

Wedding websites. One stop shop for additional information, which is just the best. Sign up on The Knot, Wedding Wire, Wedding Paper Divas or one of a dozen other sites, put it somewhere on your invite. Done.

Evites. The popular thought is still that you either have to send out paper invites or you have to send out both, but I’m not sure. I think that’s more of an expectation thing – you expect your grandmother (last seen checking email on her Kindle) won’t be able to open up an email, or will be offended that she has to. We’ve been working with this internet thing for over 20 years, now. Might be time to save a little money, a little paper and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Online registries. Listed, hopefully on your wedding website. Ready to ship your wedding gifts to the house of your choice. For the most part, it prevents guests from having to bring gifts to your wedding, which you then have to lug to the house of your choice. For the most part.
When you’re looking for good Wed Tech, again, think “one-stop shopping.” The wedding website or e-vite that can track your RSVPs, that can tell your guests, with a click, where to buy your gifts and where to stay. Don’t drive yourself or your guests nuts trying to find the right information in a combination of seven different places.

The Tech That is Not So Great

...and there are some, so visit to fing out what it is, and how you can expect all of this stuff to work for you!

See you at the end of the aisle, 

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wedding Wise Weekly - February 18

Every week I bring you the coolest wedding stories, events and deals in Los Angeles and from around the web. And we call it Wedding Wise Weekly. Welcome!

Cool Wedding Thing of the Week: 

Superfine Bakery: One of my favorite bakeries just made a video about how to cut a wedding cake. Something special for you DIY'ers and Bare venue brides out there. You're welcome!

The Events:

Saturday, February 21
11:00am - 3:00pm
The Love Sick Expo
The Unique Space
1275 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

The country's largest Alt-wedding expo, sponsored by Offbeat Bride and Rebel Belle Weddings,  so you know what to look forward to! This is definitely the one to hit this weekend. Tickets are $10 online or $15 at the door.

Sunday, February 22
11:00am - 3:00pm
Premiere Bridal Shows - South Bay
Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel | map
7675 Crescent Avenue
Buena Park, CA 90703
Tickets are $7 online or $10 online

1:00pm - 5:00pm
Engaged! A Bridal Event
From the people that brought you the I Do! show a couple of weeks ago.  High-end, bringing pretty, don't bother eating lunch beforehand
Taglyan Complex | map
1201 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Admission: $25, but I'm on the search for a discount code...

The Deals: - Get 25% off all items with the code 25SPARK

Paperless Post - Vera Wang just launched a collection for them. One more time: Vera Wang + wedding evites.

Oriental Trading Company - Free shipping on ANY order, good through Thursday. Like, tomorrow. Do yourself a favor and sign up for their email, too. Lots of good deals there.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday Tip + My Wedding Weekend and Calculating Venue Time

Right now, I'm working with a couple that's getting married in six (!) weeks in front of 25 guests. And they need everything. Venue, catering, photographer, EVERYTHING. We looked at four venues in DTLA on Monday, and it looks like they made their choice. But every venue had a restriction on the number of hours you can be there, which means you need to figure out how many hours you need. And, you know, how to use them.

 Venue #1: Apex Studios
1. Start from your ceremony time, and count backwards. Your guests, without fail, are going to start arriving 30 minutes before that.

Venue #2: Zinc Cafe

2. Which means, to be safe, your ceremony area, reception area, your sign-in table, need to be set up and ready for them to sit and enjoy by then. Do not attempt to do all this in less than two hours, whether you have help or not. Do not attempt to assign one person to do all of the work, even if they volunteer. If you've got major decorating to do - aisle runner, flower runner, archway, photo booth, chair swag, lighting - give it an extra hour. Ask your florist and rental company what they feel comfortable with, and what they will need to make it happen.

Venue #3: Ace Hotel

3. Ending time. Get very, very clear with your venue whether the official contract ending time is when the party has to end or when you and all your stuff need to be completely out of the venue. Two different things. Shut down the bar at least 30 minutes before you have to end the party part. That will give your guests the cue that it's winding down.

Venue #4: Daily Dose

4. Break down time. Usually takes half the time setting up does, and most venues will give you at least an hour for that. Also ask what the penalty and charge is if you go over, i.e., "Motivation." Plan beforehand where everything is going: What gets trashed, what gets put into whose car to go to the hotel, what needs to be dropped back off at the florist/rental company, and when? Don't give this to one person to do, either. Even if they do have a big van!

If you're interested in the look of any of these places, email me at, and I can give you more info about all of them.  Just let me know what you need!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wedding Photography: The Unknown Unknowns

My weekly column on The Broke Ass Bride is up!

Photo: Chasing Glimpses
Weddings are complicated creatures. There are a  there a lot of things about your wedding  that you can extrapolate from real life, and a lot of that you can find out by asking obvious questions. But there are also the unknown unknowns, the stuff that you don’t know that you don’t know.  And you don’t - or wouldn’t- know, because you haven’t done this before.

As a wedding planner, finding your photographer is always the next thing on our checklist, after your venue and a caterer. For one thing, it’s usually the next most expensive line item on your budget. Your wedding pictures are the only permanent thing, other than your spouse and your ring, that you’re taking away from your wedding day! But wedding photography  is filled with unknown unknowns. What is that you don’t know that you don't know about your wedding photography?

Choosing a Good Photographer
 Like most art forms, “good photography” is subjective. So, first of all ,look for pictures and styles that personally appeal to you.  Look for pictures that are focused, whose subjects are are well-lit, against backgrounds that don't distract from the photograph.

There are also no standard costs for photography, though here in Los Angeles, you can expect to throw back a few thousand dollars.  When you're deciding between photographers that you like, try and compare apples and apples. What services do they each provide, what are you getting for what you're paying? How many hours on site? Are engagement pictures included? An album? A disk of pictures. And if one photographer doesn't offer one apple that another does, ask how much it would be to add it. Either way, you'll be able to find a great photographer in your price range. But don't settle - sign that contract knowing that your pictures are going to be beautiful.
And, seriously? Choose a photographer that you like. They are going to literally be in your face all day during your wedding and you'll be dealing with them after the wedding while they're finishing your pictures and albums. You need to be okay with that.

How Much Time and Work is Invested in Your Pictures
There's the lead-up to your wedding, the consultations about what pictures you want, the ones you don't, and discussing (several times) the general flow of the day.  Engagement pictures usually take 2-3 hours. They are at your wedding for 8-12 hours. If you don't have a planner, they're going to be running the day with help from your DJ. And, depending on your venue and your guest count, there could be two photographers. And, no kidding, those photographers are going to take thousands of pictures. So, after your wedding, thousands pictures have to be sorted in chronological order, duplicates and blurry shots have to be deleted, and the rest have to be edited and touched up before you even see them. Raw images are not an option you want. So, it takes a few weeks! And, how fast you get your album after that depends on you and how fast you can pick the pictures you want in it.

About Those Pictures On Your Wedding Day...
As you've probably figured out if you've been reading for a while, I'm into wedding timing. How to manage it, when to ignore it, and when to pay very, very close attention to it. Pictures take a lot of time. Assembling everyone, for one. Posing. Posing again. Different locations, different shots. Groomsmen wander back to the bar, other people blink during group shots. This can eat up the time you have between hair and makeup and leaving for your venue, and it can definitely make your cocktail hour hectic! You don't have to do it (you don't have to do anything) but talk to your photographer about taking pictures of you and your fiance before the wedding, and getting as many group shots as you can after that. Less pictures during the cocktail hour, more of a chance for an appetizer and a drink, and to marvel in wonder that, WOW, you just got married! Ask your photographer about other ways to streamline the day. Trust me, they'll have a ton of suggestions.
Are starting to look for photographers? And if you've already picked yours, how many did you talk to before you made a decision? Have you decided to do a first look? Let me know, along with any questions, in the comments below! And if you would like to find out more about me, and my little part of Wedding World, go to

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Tip Day: What Two Questions Should You ALWAYS Ask?

How many guests will this cake serve? Dunno. Ask.
Photo: Weddings with Zsa Zsa

Let's face it: Everyone is afraid of looking stupid. Not knowing what to do, doing the wrong thing. But you should never let the fear of looking stupid over something you think you're supposed to know interfere with finding out what you need to know. So, the first question you should always ask is the one whose answer you don't know, yet.  Odds are, you've never planned a wedding before, and all of your vendors understand that. There are no stupid questions in wedding planning, just stuff that will bite you in the, uh, behind eventually. 

The second question you always need to ask, after you get the answer to the first question, is "Is there anything else I need to know?" That's where the gold is, where you find out how to avoid any of the regular missteps other couples have made. 

See you at the end of the aisle, 

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

Monday, February 09, 2015

Ask Liz Archives: Bring the Pretty, Hide the Ugly

Photo: Vic bon Vicini photograpy
From one of my advice column on the The Broke Ass Bride:

Dear Liz,
 My problem is that I found a great venue (and affordable!) But there’s a propane tank surrounded by chain link fence riiight next to the entrance to the ceremony site. I’m trying to come up with ideas to hide it.


Theories of a Big Bang

Dear Bang,
Two part solution: 1. Call your venue and tell (“ask” won’t work here) them that you want to cover it, and see what’s possible. If they don’t own it or it’s not on their property, find out who’s property it’s on, and do the same thing. It could be owned by the city, or something like that.  Odds are, you are not the first person to ask about that thing, so find out what the answer is. 2. If you can cover it, cover it. Drape it, cover the sides you can see with rented trees and plants, or get some ideas from the Pinterest board I created, Hiding The Ugly At Your Wedding. Don’t be afraid to use colors.  You might have to erect poles or some sort of structure. If you don’t know how to do that yourself, ask your venue manager for the name of a rental company that might.

Got a wedding question for me? Send it me at

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

Friday, February 06, 2015

Wedding Wise Weekly - February 6

Every week I give you the best wedding stories, events and deals in Los Angeles and from around the web. And we call it Wedding Wise Weekly. Welcome!

Cool Wedding Thing of the Week:

Photos: Caca Santoro Photography

Green Weddings: Jennifer and Joshua's Showstopping Star Wars Wedding. Geek Girl Squeeee! The Stormtroopers! The Flower Girls with Princess Leia hair buns! The Wampum and Tauntaum Cake topper!! Jealous I didn't plan it, jealous I wasn't invited, so very, very happy that it happened.

The Events:

Sunday, February 8

10am - 4pm
Bride World Expo - South Bay
Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resort
300 N Harbor Dr
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

The Deals:

The Knot Shop: Save 15% off your order with the code TKSPRING15

Vow to be Chic: Can you rent your bridesmaid dresses? Oh, yes, you can, and some of them even come with pockets. Save $15 off your order when you use the code IDOBRIDES at checkout. You are welcome!

Anita, One of my ex-brides writes a blog about her sewing projects, called Sew Anita, and she created a series of Valentine downloadable cards. For free. No excuse to forget, now. Just Go!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events