Today on the Forever Bride podcast we are talking all things drama and how to handle the drama during wedding planning. Stay tuned.
[Ashley] Hi everyone. I am Ashley and today we have an amazing guest on the Forever Bride podcast. I am so excited to have her and I have known Erica for a couple years now and I'm really excited. This is a topic that I think a lot of brides know they're going to have to deal with. Planning a wedding can be a little stressful. But before we dig into dealing with the drama and all things that come along with wedding planning it is my pleasure to introduce to you one of the top wedding planners here in the Twin Cities. She's been in the event industry for over eight years. She's the owner of Piece of Cake Minnesota Weddings. Erika Boe!
[Erica] Hi Ashley. Thank you so much for having me! I'm excited to chat today.
[Ashley] I know I'm so excited to have you here! So today we are going to go over the drama. We are going to go over the people that are closest to us that have the best intentions and yet can somehow cause the most stress during this time. You and I were talking a little bit before the show and you have some really good tips and we're gonna be putting all these all these tips on our show notes as well as links to Erica's website. But before we dig into that tell me a little bit about you and your background and how you got into weddings.
[Erica] Yes. So as you said I've been planning events professionally for eight years. My background is in public relations and I love events. I love the details, I don't get intimidated by those. I thrive off of them. I absolutely love planning all the nitty grittys that come with events. But I also always had a passion for the wedding industry. I always followed it and they were two very separate passions. And then I planned my own wedding about six years ago now and that just lit fuel to that fire and I kind of started just thinking how can I merge these two loves of mine and what was just a dream for a while, then slowly started helping family and friends with weddings and then early in 2017 formally launched my own wedding planning business and haven't looked back. I absolutely love it. It's a huge honor being invited in by couples to be a part of their special day. And I so enjoy working closely with them and being that small part of their big day.
[Ashley] I love how even like your business name implies that weddings are easy.
[Erica] Exactly. Sometimes it can cause confusion. But I thought of it like 2014 and was like, “Oh it's it's a piece of cake!” Like that's it. But I do often get asked if I am a bakery, which is I why I add the Minnesota weddings. But yeah, because that's what it should be. It does not have to be an overwhelming stressful process. That’s what I am here to help with!
[Ashley] I think you know weddings are a completely different type of event. You know when you look at corporate events and even smaller birthday parties and graduations there's the pressure sometimes that can surround a wedding because it's a huge financial obligation. Even if you're having a small backyard wedding! I'm working on helping my sister in law with her wedding that's coming up in a couple of weeks and it’s so small there's literally just going to be like 20 of us and even that is adding up. And we're trying to make this so much fun, but there's still just so many little things. And one of the things that you and I are going to talk about is the people, usually the people that are closest to us, that have the best intentions. You know, everything's a little heightened.
[Erica] Absolutely. You're so right. They're different from corporate events or anything because there's so many emotions involved in a wedding. Not only the day of, but that leading up to it, especially with parents specifically or family members they may have been thinking about this day longer than you have because it's their baby who's now chosen to pursue life with this person and celebrate their love! That can be a really emotional thing for parents and I think when you combine emotions with all the things that need to get done sometimes the drama can build up and it can become really stressful. So yeah I have some tips to help people. It does not need to be like that. Especially, the more people you have involved, more family involved the more stressful it can be become. More people, more opinions. So I have some ideas of how you can help mitigate some of that right from the get go so it's smooth sailing hopefully right away till through wedding day.
[Ashley] Well that's normal when you first get engaged you're so excited and you want to tell everyone and you want everyone's opinions and then you realize, “I don't want everyone's opinions…”
[Erica] Exactly. Exactly.
[Ashley] So how do you how do you narrow down like who's your core group of people that you're going to go to and and seek their advice and their insight and their opinions?
[Erica] That's perfect! Flows right into my first step: setting those exact expectations right from the beginning. Meeting with your parents and your future in-laws either together or separate. Your call on that and kind of having those discussions about who will do what and do they care about certain aspects of the planning? Do they want to be hands on or off? What do they care about? What about choosing your bridal party? Are there people in that that want to be involved in the planning? Just having those dialogues up front paves the way for you guys moving forward to have a smooth planning process. And I think by having those discussions you may not even realize this certain thing your mom really cares about. She really cares about the invitations or something like, “Oh I had no idea,” and now you know to involve her in that specific aspect. Another good reason to set those expectations up front is: chatting guest list. That can become a lot. When you're merging two families that can become a really stressful point of the planning. That needs to be done really early because it dictates a lot. The guest count dictates the financial aspect to the wedding it dictates what venue you can book. So chatting guest list with people right away. It helps them feel included but also sets the tone, like here's what number we're thinking. Here's our family who needs to be involved. Now let's discuss how we can kind of divvy it up from there.
[Ashley] That's really interesting that guest list. You forget how much your guest list plays into your venue and your family thing because what is it, your your food and beverage and reception cost is over 50 percent of your budget?! I mean that's the biggest cost when you're talking about a wedding! When we were planning our wedding years ago I remember we made a rule in the beginning that if either I have never met the person or my husband, or fiancee at the time, had never met the person they weren’t coming. Our parents are wonderful, but they know everybody and there are those that actually go out to the nail salons like, “Oh my gosh it's next September!”
[Erica] And that's why it’s a good thing too if you sit with your fiance and chat about who your friends are. Then, family immediate and extended. Then, sometimes if it comes down to it, give each family like their remaining invites. “This is how many you get” and chat with them. Sometimes it comes down to that offer. I the exact same thing happen. I had not met half the people and I said, “I'm sorry I love you but at the end of the day we're doing this because it's our wedding,” so really setting those exact expectations up front can make the world of difference. I had a bride recently and she just had a lot of people, parents and step parents of both her and the groom. A lot of people wanting to be involved, which is great but I encouraged her to have those conversations early on and we found out one of them was really passionate about building a bunch of wood décor pieces for the wedding shoes. Oh fantastic! We were able to send him off on that task and one really wanted to manage the rehearsal dinner and somebody else really wanted to help with drapery and decor items and it was great. They all felt included but they didn't feel like they had to plan the whole thing.
[Erica] And she also made it clear to them that she had a plan and she had me, who she was excited to work with, and she was also really excited about doing a lot of the planning! Actually, I’ve had a few parents then come up to me at the wedding and say this was great to know just know that things were getting done but we had our item that we could you know go with. Also, having those conversations early on also allows you, if drama picks up in a few months, that you know it's early and it's easy to have those convos early before planning gets going. But then in a few months, down the line drama rises, stress, tensions are high, and then you have that conversation to fall back on. “Hey, I know you mean well. Remember that convo we had? I really need you to keep that in mind here,”Preventively set those expectations. And I think that'll really help keep everybody in line moving on the path, moving forward.
[Ashley] That's awesome. Those are really good. Okay. All right. So leading into that.. So the bride and groom are passed like the beginning stages, and budgets are getting tight. What's your next tip for the bride and groom as they keep going through this process?
[Erica] Yeah a big thing that also helps prevent more drama... I found is early on, or as people start expressing interest, is assigning your family - especially moms seem to be interested - but assigning them specific roles and tasks. I had one mom with one of my past clients, she wanted to be involved in every decision and every email and every etc. And the meetings became very tangibly stressful and it was putting more strain on the bride and she's like, l like I'm in between a rock and a hard place. We kind of took a step back and said, okay what can we give her that she can really own? We decided she can run hotel blocks. So she's going to let her run with hotel blocks, reserving the hotel shuttles. Also, the florist, with given where the venue was, was unable to deliver the flowers. She said oh I want to pick those up on wedding morning and help set them up! Awesome. And the bride was more than okay with that and then the mom had tasks that she was giving updates to the bride too and just that made an immense difference of her feeling part of the group and part of that she could really own something. And if you could, do that proactively! We kind of got to a boiling point. But if you assign those roles proactively it can really help family members to feel included and really feel like they have that special part of your day.
[Ashley] And you think of too, weddings have changed and evolved so much even in the last 50 years and then there's that generation gap too. So I've been married 10 years, but when my parents were married was different when their parents got married and even when my children get married someday, which I can't even think about that. Yeah and you've got a baby on the way!
[Erica] Yes, that’s a long way out! But I've already thought about it. I had to lie because it's emotional.
[Ashley] And it's going to be different then but I know years ago parents were much more involved in the wedding planning process and you know brides and grooms today statistically are older than they've ever been. Yeah. You know most brides and grooms today are actually paying for their own weddings which is changing the power dynamic now with the bride and groom writing the check versus mommy and daddy writing the check. I feel like there's still a lot of things that we still kind of are figuring out the proper etiquette and how to make sure, like you said, that people are feeling involved and included that this is still very fun and enjoyable because planning a wedding can be fun if you take the right steps.
[Erica] Absolutely. And another thing to do is, it doesn't always have to be big roles, or big thing like one mother in law we gave her bathroom baskets. She wanted to do something and the bride's like, I need baskets in the bathroom can you just do that? Oh my gosh they're the most beautiful bathroom baskets I had ever seen! Like just finding that out because you're right you don't know. Every wedding is different. And that's why having those convos allows you to speak to your people
[Ashley] And on the opposite end, figuring out if maybe you know you have a girlfriend and you assumed she was going to be over the moon and excited to do all things and really deep down she doesn't care now because it’s not that she doesn't love you but that's just not her style. She's not the bachelorette party, decorating baskets; that's not her style but having that conversation and figuring it out. Like okay that's not your thing. And that way it's not going to be awkward later on.
[Erica] Exactly and there's fun things you can do too, like to involve your mother in law or mother's; maybe plan a trip out to help her find her dress or outfit for the wedding. Have lunch and/or bring them to the food tasting or the cake tasting and fill them in on other wedding things that are going on. A lot of the time, it's they don't need to own everything they don't want to, but just to feel like they're a part of it and they're being included and they're being kept in the loop. And if you initiate that and invite them, I think those things truly go a long way in helping everybody just keep the peace and feel like they're part of the big day, which will go a long way.
[Ashley] That's awesome. Okay! So assigning roles and having conversations ahead of time. We just literally keep coming back to that! That is the best takeaway: is having conversations. Okay! What else you got. I know I was going through your notes earlier.
[Erica] So I guess the last tip would be, and I encourage all my couples, is take breaks during the planning process. It sounds so simple but people forget! They think I have to charge full steam ahead and get everything done. And that's also where a wedding planner can really help you stay organized and stay ahead of the game so you can take those breaks and I'm not talking taking two months off from planning but a week or two and maybe going out to dinner with your families and not talking about the wedding, like what's going on in your life. Keeping in mind like, oh wait we're going to have a relationship post wedding, post event? Like yes we are. So like investing in that and if they bring it up just say, “You know what, we have been talking so much about the wedding,what's on in your life?” I would love to just take a breather and that really helps. Level set and recharge everybody. So you kind of have that stamina to keep moving forward because it the final details do command a plan and get stressful those last eight to six.
[Ashley] They consume you!
[Erica] Yes! That's when all the vendors need their info. So take those breaks along the way when you can and enjoy each other and that can really allow you all to enjoy the process. Talk about it and just have fun with one another and it can be breaks during specific tasks too. I had a bride call me one time just in tears over the programs. The program of all things you know because her her mom and her mother in law all had a very different vision of what they wanted them to look like and say. And they were so narrow visioned looking at these programs and we had time. We had her doing them early enough, where we had we didn't have to order them for a couple weeks. I said you know take a step back just take a break. Don't look at the programs don't talk about the programs for like at least a few days and then revisit it and just think about what you want. And that allowed her to clear her head. She took in the opinions of both people into account but ultimately said, “You know here's what I want.” Here's what we're gonna do and she was able to check that item off the list because I think again back to the emotional side at once when you're in it it seem it can seem like the most daunting task the more but then it's like okay you hand out the program, they're beautiful, they're wonderful, but it's one detail versus take a step back and look at it and don't let that task consume you. It is okay to take those breaks and help ease tensions that may be building between you and those family members when you're doing certain things.
[Ashley] I feel like this is such good advice for life. You know whether it's work or dealing with you know relationship with your husband or relationship with a friend, sometimes the small things can seem huge and it just you kind of drag your feet and you're like is this what I want? And sometimes just taking a minute and going Is this really important? And if it is really important then yes fight for it. Absolutely. But sometimes take a couple of days and figure out you know again looking back at mine I remember some of the things that I stressed about. And now here I am 10 years later I'm like did that really matter? I remember I would lose sleep over things. I would have nightmares about some of these things. I remember I spent an entire week doing research online and this is when Pinterest was still like a baby company. I remember I spent like a week obsessing over the ribbon that gets tied around the stems of the bouquets. Yeah that was huge to me for some reason. I needed to have this specific ribbon that I found in a magazine and I got married back in magazines. You don't even see the ribbon, your hands go up. That week was a very serious week.
[Erica] And it's those little things because you're so attuned to your wedding like I remember mine was the menus and I had to have the one color in the bottom and then printed on top. And it was the book I couldn't find the right fabric to tie the papers together. The most minor thing and I was making a big deal about it and people telling me it wasn't a big deal was we had done it right. No do not tell a bride to relax or it's not a big deal because it is usually not the ribbon that you're stressing about. Bigger picture.
[Ashley] Yep exactly taking it out on the ribbon.
[Erica] Exactly. I encourage to take those breaks, take that step back, and having a planner, that voice of reason, and you can go, “Okay give me your honest opinion,” and they can help remind you like, “All right well tell me why the ribbon is so important” We can provide alternate ideas and suggestions or just remind you it’s okay to take that step back, like you said, then assess: is it really the ribbon? Are we really going to care about that in five years? Or what's really going on? And just help keep you on track and having that voice of reason and help can be a very good thing.
[Ashley] Your wedding planner is your therapist all day. More importantly than your wedding planner - it's your therapist - it's someone who is emotionally unattached to the family and who can step back and look at the bigger picture and to be always on your side.
[Erica] Exactly. Can help jump in help mediate. I'm like I'm the bad guy! Always feel free to make me the bad guy if you want something that mom or dad doesn't like I'm happy to jump in and explain. But exactly we’re they are to help mediate and be that voice of that alone is the cost.
[Ashley] That alone is cheaper than a therapist. Let's do the math on that ladies.
[Erica] I love that because I should be there because you get so wrapped up in the details of everything. A bride sent me a picture of like gold. She wanted to spray paint her cake stands and couldn't decide between gold or bronze and everybody had opinions and she just sent me the picture and I said absolutely I can give you my opinion. But I want you to choose what you want. So it's just having that person there to remind you like OK it's all gonna be OK.
[Ashley] And you've done this how many times? For a bride, most of the time this is her first time planning a wedding. And yes she might have had girlfriends that have gone through it and you know she might have gotten her hands on every magazine she possibly could but the end of the day this is really her first time planning an event this size with this amount of money. And this is something you do every day and you have that experience. You have that background to say, “hey you know what in my experience what I've found is actually if we go this way..” you know can provide those options and I always get that question of what do we do for this? What is done for table layouts or the head table? What do people do? and I'll say like, “this is what I've seen,” but I try and just remind them to think about what do you want. It can be whatever. There's no rules. There's no rules with wedding planning. It is your day. I want you to find what you're happy with. So you're right. It's providing like here's what I've seen here is option A, B, and C for you know what I've seen that's worked well but then what do you want and let's just talk it out and make it happen.
[Ashley] So good! If you could tell brides one thing, what would it be? What is your best piece of advice? I mean if they take nothing from this other than this one thing.
[Erica] Oh Ashley put me on the spot! I think it's remembering why you wanted to get married to begin with. and that you're doing this, because you love somebody and you want to celebrate that love. And that's why I encourage them like the week of the wedding. I meet with them specifically a few days prior for our final meeting that the night before because then their roles from that point on are take time for you, take time for you and your fiance, enjoy. And I am taking care of everything from here on out because that's that's why you're getting married. And I think then these things we discussed helped keep that front and center and helped keep things stress free and fun by remembering why you're doing it to begin with.
[Ashley] That's the best. That's absolutely the best. It reminds me again years ago. I remember we were getting to that exact point when we were stressing about everything, we were fighting all the time. The wedding nightmares were happening. We actually have a Facebook group called Forever brides. Anyone listening you're welcome to join this group. It's just an amazing private group just for brides for you guys to talk and vent and ask questions and share pictures of the dress that you bought because they're all over the country. They're not going to see it, it's private. But I just remember when we were getting to that really stressful point a couple months before and I came home and we were arguing about something and I remember he ripped a wedding magazine out of my hands threw it at the couch and he's not like a violent mean person. So I was taken aback like what. And he said grab your purse. We're going to dinner and we're not talking anything wedding. And he just grabbed me by the hand, we grabbed, my purse and we went out the door. We went to some cute little restaurant down the street. And it just it was so nice because in my mind I was like that's why I like him! He's just he's so sweet. He's doing this. It's not about the wedding it's about... Us. And we're more than a wedding, we're more than a big party, and fancy cocktail napkins, and you know I just I love that. It was just so romantic.
[Erica] Obviously, I love weddings. I absolutely love them. But it's a day that kicks off your future and then you have that whole future that you're planning for and thinking about. So take time to talk about that a little bit too during the process and then yeah, like we talked about, just with family to help keep the drama out of it. Hopefully by setting those expectations, giving people specific roles proactively, and taking those breaks will really help keep the stress out of it and the fun in it during the planning. Nothing breaks my heart more when I am talking to friends getting married or family or somebody and I'm like how is planning go on and they're like oh we can't wait for it to be done we just want the wedding to be over. I'm like oh my goodness.. it just breaks my heart because it does not need to be that way. So by level setting and doing those things, taking a little bit of initiative upfront to set everything, can make a huge difference because it should be a wonderful time in your life and not a stressful one.
[Ashley] This is perfect. This is the best advice. Like I said earlier, we're going to have all these notes up on our website and you're able to find Erica on http://www.pieceofcakemn.com/. We'll also have links on our website, https://www.foreverbride.com/vendors/planners-event-coordinators/piece-cake-minnesota-weddings/. Erica. Thank you so much for being here. This was so much fun. I just feel relaxed. This is good life advice. So make sure that you're following Erica (@pieceofcakemn) Make sure that you're following us Forever Bride and we will see you guys next week. Thanks so much.
[Erica] Thanks everybody!