Sunday, December 19, 2010

Florists - The Unsung Decor Hero at Every Wedding

Are florists really that important? Yes, they ARE that important.

As a wedding planner, one of the first things I do when I start working with a newly engaged couple is help define their top priorities for their big day and assemble their team of wedding vendors. In situations where couples rank floral and event decor towards the bottom of their priority list, I know I have my work cut out for me.

Understandably, most couples have never planned a big event and have hired me for that reason, so they naturally rank their priorities based on the things they can relate to - food, wine, liquor, the wedding dress, cake, photography, music, etc. As the hired professional, it's my duty to help the couple fill in the necessary gaps and educate them on why.

Not always, but the florist is one vendor that I do find myself going to bat for quite often, especially when budgeting is a big concern. Again, understandably so, floral and event decor is a variable cost to the budget, meaning that you can spend as much or as little as you want, unlike other fixed costs, such as a venue site fee. However, just because you can spend a little on this particular service, doesn't mean that you should.

Here are my top reasons why you shouldn't skimp on the florist:

Florists Are Essential to the Overall Look & Feel of Your Wedding 
Every couple wants their wedding to be beautiful, romantic and memorable, not only for them, but for their guests as well. Beauty involves aesthetics and romance involves evoking feelings, and nothing creates a more beautiful and romantic atmosphere than flowers and candle light. No matter how creative or crafty a member of the family may be, no one can create an atmosphere of romance and beauty like a good florist, especially in a tight time frame.

Florists Provide Theme Continuity & Personal Details 
What makes a fabulous wedding isn't how much you spend, it's all the small details that make it completely custom to the couple. A good florist is someone who not only understands, but helps shape a vision, can pick up the small nuances from the couple, and designs cohesive floral treatments to illustrate and reflect their taste. A good florists will create visual continuity between every decorative element of the wedding - from bridal bouquets to table centerpieces to chair adornments to the escort card display - the theme will carry throughout.

Florists Provide Quality & Sophistication
Unless the bride's mother, sister or best friend is a florist, there is a big difference in the quality of the overall look and feel of a wedding when a florist is absent. Not to say that DIY flowers aren't absolutely beautiful when executed correctly, but florists have the expertise and skill set to take the same bunch of flowers and really up-level the entire arrangement just by their understanding of height and variation. Believe me, guests remember the details and will appreciate the polished and refined look.

Florist Offer "Day of" Execution & Preparation
DIY flowers aren't as easy as couples would like to think they are. There is so much to consider when doing your own flower arranging such as - who will be helping you create 15 centerpieces, 8 bridesmaids bouquets, 8 boutonnieres, 6 corsages, 4 large arrangements, cake flowers, head table treatments, flower girl basket, and on, and on... Even if you do have the manpower to do such a task, where will you store them and who is going to take on the responsibility of transporting them? Even more importantly, who will be setting up your ceremony space, your cocktail reception and your dinner reception? And even more importantly, how can you trust it will look nice. Honestly, no bride wants to deal with this kind of stress and paying a florist is worth EVERY PENNY.

Florists Cost & Service Are Well Worth the Price  
When you hire a florist, you aren't just paying for someone to source your flowers, you are paying a professional for a high value service. Most florists are willing to work with clients to make sure they get as much value for their budget as possible - they know what flowers are seasonally at the best price  and how to stretch every dollar to create some absolutely amazing treatments. Here is a secret - a good florist can create almost twice the amount of floral treatments using a combination of greens and seasonal flowers than what a typical bride would spend on DIY flowers, and they will look a whole lot better!

Florists Provide Decor & Materials  
Most floral designers have a huge collection of materials and vessels to carry out a dream wedding. Since they own much of what they use to display, couples don't have to incur the cost, shop for items or deal with the clean up. Also, once the wedding is over, couples don't have to deal with trying to sell or throw away a bunch of materials that they'll never use again. Florists invest in their materials so they are typically beautiful and high-end which again can up-level the sophistication of your event.

With so many photos captured at weddings and the popularity of wedding videography, the investment of a good florist is incredibly important. No couple wants to look at their wedding images and wish they would have splurged just a bit more for better decor in the background of all their photos.

One of my most favorite parts of every wedding is between the ceremony and reception (when the guests are at the cocktail hour) when I give the newlyweds a private tour of their decked out reception space. I love the look of awe and excitement when pointing out the small details in their custom decor and floral treatments, especially when the couple at first didn't think of it as a high priority. Believe me, they always say how happy they were to have had a great florist.

Happy Planning!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best Weight Loss Exercises for Women

In keeping with week's bridal fitness and weight loss theme, below are the top fat and calorie burning exercises for women. Since the holidays are here and many brides are starting to gear up for their spring or summer weddings, this is as timely as it gets as pounds can start to add up during this holiday season.

Don't fall behind in your fitness program!

Running (treadmill or outdoors) - the best weight loss exercise. Running is one of the most efficient methods of burning calories. For every mile you run, you burn approx. 100 calories. Highest calorie burn and cheap as chips. All you need is a pair of quality running shoes. Plus, if you stick with it, you'll get hooked, making weight loss and weight maintenance easy. 

Elliptical Trainer - If you can't run this is an awesome piece of machinery. The elliptical trainer combines the cardio of running with resistance and it is low impact. Another positive is that burning the equivalent amount of calories as running feels easier on the elliptical. Great weight loss exercise. 

Cross-Country Skiing (machine or outdoors) is a fantastic endurance sport, calling on every major muscle group. Again it is a combination of resistance and cardio exercise. If you've got snow I suggest you ski.

Rowing - Cardio and resistance training in one fierce calorie-burning workout lasting between 20 and 40 minutes. Best used for interval training. Just make sure most of your power driving the stroke comes from large muscle of the thighs - not the upper body (a common mistake). 

Step Aerobics targets legs, hips and glutes. It is an intense calorie-burning exercise. Calories burned during this weight loss exercise depends on speed and step height. 

Bicycling (stationary or outdoors) targets thighs and calf muscles. Effectiveness for weight loss depends on speed and resistance/ incline. However, pear-shaped women beware of high resistance, as this will increase muscle mass in your thighs and exacerbate your problem area. 

Swimming - excellent full-body weight loss exercise. Water supports the body. Thus, less stress is placed on joints - low-impact. Brilliant for those with injuries. 

Jumping Rope is a seriously simple, but effective weight loss exercise. Ten minutes of jumping rope burns the rough equivalent of running an eight-minute mile. This weight loss exercise also improves cardiovascular endurance, coordination and agility.

Racquetball/ Squash - The high-intensity makes racquetball a great weight loss exercise. 

Rock Climbing is a weight loss exercise that combines cardiovascular exercise with resistance training. This weight loss exercise burns A LOT of calories, esp. on the way up.

As long as you stick to a good exercise program during the holidays you can afford to enjoy yourself more without the gilt come January. If you didn't gain any, pat yourself on the back as you have already made big progress!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bridal Fitness - Tips on Losing Weight & Looking Great


According to a new survey of 1,000 brides by Fitness magazine, 83% wanted to shed weight before their wedding, and many were prepared to take drastic action to achieve their goal.

As a wedding planner, I know how important it is for brides to look and feel amazing in their "perfect dress" on their wedding day. Some brides only want to tone up and shed a few pounds, while others are ready to undergo a major weight loss program. Regardless of how much weight a bride wants to lose, below are a few good tips on how to get great results before the "big day".

Regular Exercise
If you want lean and toned arms for your sleeveless wedding down, killer muscular legs for your reception dress or an amazing butt for that white bikini you've found for your honeymoon, you MUST workout. There is no way getting around it. Toning requires muscle which requires strengthening exercises.

Here are some great group exercise classes that will help you get in shape in no time:

  • Bridal Boot Camps - If you’re not a gym bunny, you may want to consider enlisting in bridal boot camp. Many boot camps are owned and taught by women and offer specific training sessions geared toward brides. These pre-nuptial programs can range from intensive weekend or week long regimens to long-term fitness plans. Bridal Bootcamps are offered all over the country so do a simple online search to find one in your area.
  • Bridal Fitness Coaches - these are personal trainers that are specifically trained to help brides get into amazing shape on a one-on-one basis. They are private trainers that design bridal exercise and diet programs specific to your individual needs. Most of the time they have their own private gyms or will come to your office or home to work you out! Check out Bridal Fitness Coach.
  • Gym Group Exercise Classes - There are some really great group exercise classes that are already offered at many gyms that brides can take advantage of without paying any extra in gym dues a month. Spinning, Pilates and Yoga are all great classes that burn calories while getting long, lean muscles. The BAR Method and Daily Method are also great classes that focus on slimming and toning the core.

A Healthy Diet - "You Are What You Eat"
Being fit is 80% diet related. What you consume greatly affects your entire body - the way your skin looks, your hair and nails, and more importantly, your body fat percentage. Losing weight is a simple calculation - you must burn more calories than what you consume. To shed those unwanted pounds, you have to be smart about the decisions you make when it comes to food.

Here are some good suggestions on helping you watch what you eat:

  • Visit a nutritionist - a registered nutritionist is a great resource to help you lose weight. They are trained professionals that can design the perfect eating program based on your body type, lifestyle and metabolism level. They will make sure to design a program that will give you all the proper nutrients to keep your energy level up and satisfied without crashing. With a great diet and regular vigorous exercise over a sufficient amount of time will result in a sexy body.
  • Cut out refined sugar - The problem with refined sugar is that it's a non-food, it is a stimulant, sure it has calories so it could be said it gives you energy, but the same could be said of alcohol. But those calories are empty at best and downright unhealthy in reality. Refined sugar actually causes more weight gain than eating fatty foods due to the spike in insulin levels in your blood. You can read all about at here.
  • Watch your calorie intake - Again, losing weight is a simple calculation - you must burn more calories than what you consume. Your body uses calories for energy and fuel and when your body burns more calories than what's being stored, it creates a deficit and therefore you start losing weight. The best way to monitor your calories is by writing everything down that you consume. There are also some great apps for your iPhone that can help you monitor your calorie and exercise intake so it keeps you honest throughout the day. I personally like the "Lose It" app for iPhones. 

Drink Lots of Water
Hydration is critical. While the benefits are countless this is one of the hardest things to implement into your daily routine. Water lowers body fat, flushes cellulite, improves digestion, gets rid of dark circles under the eyes and makes you feel full.

Here are some tips on how to get your water intake up throughout the day:

  • Keep a bottle of water beside your bed - before you go to sleep drink ½ the bottle and as soon as you wake up (before your feet touch the floor) drink the remaining ½ bottle 
  • Before each meal drink a half a bottle of water
  • Carry water with you and sip it throughout the day

Reward Yourself with a Cheat Day
Motivation is key when embarking on a weight loss regime and a light at the end of a tunnel is very beneficial after an intense week of working out and strict dieting. Having short term goals is highly effective in gaining momentum for weight loss - so rewarding yourself with a  "cheat day" for a job well done will help in keeping you from any binging tendencies which can lead to weight GAIN.

No matter what your weight loss and fitness goals are, you have to be dedicated, motivated and consistent to yield the results you're looking for. Is there anything more motivating than looking amazing on your wedding day? YES. Looking fantastic on the beach wearing your new wedding bling in a string bikini on your honeymoon!