The Steps Series: #3 – Find Your Venue

Don’t let selecting a venue overwhelm you – follow the steps I used when choosing my own wedding venue.

When it comes to selecting a wedding venue it can be hard to know where to begin.  You can spend hours and hours googling and after weeks of hunting still feel like you don’t have a clue.  There’s so much info out there in cyberspace that it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  So using my own upcoming wedding as an example, I’ll break it down into four easy steps.
For years I’ve been thinking about locations where TB and I might want to have our own wedding.  But after planning beautiful weddings for clients at most (if not all) of the wedding venues in central Kentucky, I still did not have one picked out for us when we got engaged.  I even began to feel overwhelmed – how was I ever going to find one that is perfect for us, if I haven’t already stumbled upon it over my time in the wedding industry?  So I walked myself through the following steps.

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Photo by Lang Thomas Photography

Step 1:  Determine how you want your wedding to feel?

What are your major requirements?  Have you always envisioned yourself getting married outside under a beautiful arbor of flowers, or does the thought of relying on nice weather send your head spinning?  Before you even start your search sit down as a couple to visualize your day and determine what you’re looking for in your wedding location.

Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Do you have a certain date or month you want to get married?
  • What city or area do you want to have your wedding?
  • Do you want your ceremony and/or reception to be inside or outside?
  • What do you want the style to be?  Rustic, Classic, Garden-y, Elegant, Formal, Informal, etc?
  • Do you want the ceremony and reception at the same location or two different locations?
  • What are your must-haves?  And must have-nots?
  • What portion of the budget has been allocated to a venue?  (If you haven’t determined budget yet – visit the Budget Post)
  • How many guests are you planning to have (plan for 75-80% of your invited number of guests actually attending.  If you haven’t set your guest list yet – visit the Guest List Post)

Once you’ve decided on those questions, you’re ready to begin your search.
This is what TB and I’s answers looked like when we explored those questions ourselves…

  • Certain Date?  I knew we would be juggling several schedules, so it was important to find a date that worked for everyone we wanted to have involved.
  • What City or Area?  This one was harder than most for us.  I’m originally from NW Ohio, but I spent 10 years and met TB in Lexington, KY, but now we live in Indianapolis.  We also have a couple vacation destinations that mean a lot to us.  So where was definitely a discussion point that we didn’t get ironed out in one evening.  But we finally decided on the place that meant the most to us that would also require the least number of guests to travel – Central Kentucky.
  • Inside/Outside?  Outside – but with the ability to have a solid rain plan.
  • Style?  Rustic Elegance – hopefully, the perfect blend of both of our personalities.
  • Same location for Ceremony & Reception, or Different?  Ceremony and Reception should both be at the same venue – we are having quite a few out of town guests, so I wanted to make sure that we were making transportation as easy on them as possible.
  • Must-Haves? It has to be close proximity to where the vast majority of our guests will be staying so guests can have as much fun as they want at the open bar and the ability to find a safe ride home.
  • Must Have-Nots? A required vendor list.
  • Budget?   $2,000-3,000 (but the lower the better so we could spend more in areas that were more important to us – like decor, bar, and band.)
  • How Many People?  Inviting ~200 guests so the venue needs to have a capacity of 150.

 

Step 2: Start your Search with the intent to find 6-8 venues you like.

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Photo by The Malicotes

Yes, you can always start with the classics – Google, The Knot, Wedding Wire, Pinterest, etc.  But here are a few tips that I use when searching for venues for clients:

  • Search Hashtags on Instagram – I’m a huge fan of finding vendors on Instagram.  What a great way to instantly see their portfolio, real weddings, and their work.  Try searching for #[yourcity]weddingvenue, #[yourstate]wedding, #[yourstate]venue, etc.  Once you find a venue you’re loving, make sure you check out their tagged photos too!
  • Talk to friends and family members who are married and who live in the area you want to have your wedding.  Personal referrals are the best!  I completely understand if you don’t want to have your wedding at the same place where you’ve attended several weddings of friends and family members.  But these people know the area and likely have attended weddings you’ve not been invited to.  Therefore, they understand what it’s like to search for a venue, and they might be familiar with some you’ve not thought of.
  • Join and post in local wedding Facebook Groups.  Most areas have a group on Facebook for brides in the area to connect – whether it be to sell things one bride purchased for her wedding and no longer needs or to ask each other questions and advice.  So find your local group, join, and post to gather recommendations from other members on wedding venues in your area.  Be sure to post how many guests you’re planning for, what price range you’d like to stick to, and the overall feel you’re looking for, so you can make sure to get helpful responses.
  • Think outside the box.  Especially if you’re trying to stick to a tighter budget, think of places that might not be your typical wedding venue.  Check out parks, museums, spaces owned by local non-profits, state historic sites, etc.  These are usually places that are a bit more budget-friendly and can really be unique to your wedding.

When I started our search, I jumped straight to asking a friend.  I knew that if anyone would be able to help me, it would be my trusted florist.  She knows the area better than anyone I know and she also knows TB and me well. Sure enough, during our first conversation, she hit the nail right on the head once I told her what we were looking for (from the answers in Step #1.). Someone who knows you well is always a great place to start.

Step 3: Narrow down your findings.

Once you’ve found 6-8 venues that look incredible, gather some further information before you start scheduling tours.  Here are some things to check out:

  • Look at their website – many venues have quite a bit of information listed on their website – look for capacity, pricing, what’s included, etc.
  • Use google – Something I’ve started doing when I want to see more photos of a space is this: do a google image search of “[venue name] wedding [city], [state]”. For example “Keeneland wedding, Lexington, Kentucky”.  This will likely show you additional photos of weddings in that venue that might not be on the venue’s website or social media.
  • Check reviews – For anything unfamiliar to me, I’m a huge fan of checking reviews.  I look on Google, Facebook, WeddingWire, and TheKnot for reviews of the venue.  But also be reasonable when searching for reviews.  When I’m looking for a client, I look for a venue to have a majority of great reviews.  If a venue has any bad reviews – I always read the bad ones but sometimes disregard them if they seem to be off the wall or a lot of time has passed and they have a lot of good reviews since.

Once you’ve checked those items, reach out to any venues you’re still loving.  Ask them to send over rental and capacity info (if you didn’t find this on their website), and ask to schedule a time to meet with them and tour the space.

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Photo by Honey Heart Photography

Step 4: Know what to ask.

When touring venues it’s important to know what questions to ask up front.  You don’t want to end up in a situation where the rental fee sounded great and fit inside your budget, but then all the venue’s requirements and caused you to end up way outside your originally budgeted amount.  Here’s what I like to ask when doing a potential venue visit:

  • What comes with the rental?  Is it a blank canvas, or do you get tables and chairs?  If so, how many?  Will you need to rent additional chairs for your ceremony if you’re having that on the property as well?
  • If you need to bring in any rentals from an outside source – what are their drop off and pickup requirements?  (Most rental companies will not come back to pick up the night of an event without charging additional fees, so you want to avoid that if possible.)
  • Are there any required vendors?  It’s pretty common for venues to have preferred vendor lists – this is a list of vendors that the venue knows, trusts, and likes to work with.  You are not required to use vendors from a preferred list and are still able to work with vendors who are not on the list.  But some venues have required vendors in certain categories – it’s most common to see these in catering, bar, and/or rentals.  These are vendors that you must use if you are having an event in their space, and you are not allowed to bring in vendors outside of those on that required list.
  • What additional fees do renters typically see?  Are there any taxes, service charges, etc. that are not included in the standard rental fee?
  • Are there any rental items that are not included in the rental, but are required to get through the venue?  Tables?  Chairs?  Linens?
  • What time will you have access to the space on the wedding day to set up?  Is there any chance of getting access the day prior if they don’t have another event booked?
  • If this is your ceremony location – will you be able to have access for rehearsal the day prior to the wedding?  Is there a certain amount of time?  Are you able to bring any items to drop off at this time and leave in the space for the next day?
  • What time does the “party” have to end (music off, bar closed?)
  • What time do you and all vendors have to be cleaned up and out of the space?
  • Are you able to come back the following day to pick anything up?
  • Are there any restrictions as far as hanging decor or candles?
  • Are you required to purchase a liability insurance policy?
  • What does their contract/booking/payment policy look like?
  • Can you have a hold on the date for a certain amount of time until you’re able to make your decision, or can someone else meet with them at any point and book the date you want?
View More: http://ivanandlouise.pass.us/amyanddrewwedding
Photo by Ivan & Louise Photography

Phew – I know that was A LOT of information.  But as one of your largest wedding decisions, it’s important to go into choosing your venue with your eyes wide open, knowing what you’re getting into so you don’t have any surprises later on.
Good news is – once you have your venue, you now have a set wedding date!  So you now have an answer for all the friends and family who have been asking you “when are you getting married?!” since 5 minutes after you got engaged! 🙂

Bourbon & Blues Styled Shoot

Lexington Kentucky has a rich tradition of bourbon and horse farms. When designing this inspiration shoot we wanted to make sure we included great representation of those Kentucky traditions.

Keeneland, the chosen location is a thoroughbred racing and sales facility that has been used to shoot scenes in movies such as “Seabiscuit” and “Secretariat”, but is also well known for hosting gorgeous weddings throughout the year. Keene Manor, the house where we staged our shoot was built just after the turn of the nineteenth century and gave the perfect historical and classic feel while being surrounded by giant trees and soft grassy fields. Add in a rare bottle of bourbon that was aged in a bourbon barrel for the past twenty years and it added up to the perfect mixture of Kentucky traditions.

The color palette of shades of blue, soft grey and ivory, mixed with a few touches of peach and wood tones felt light, gardeny and perfect for the surroundings. Details such as plaid pillows, soft drapery, hanging wreaths of greenery, and blue marbled plates added the perfect touches to give the table a modern feel while maintaining classic elements.

 

Scroll to the bottom for a listing of the incredibly talented vendors I had the pleasure of collaborating with to make this shoot happen.

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Here’s some background info on the shoot:

Back in September, I had the pleasure of assembling an A-team of wedding vendors to create this incredible styled shoot.

Once I wrapped my head around the idea of putting the shoot together, my first call was the incredibly talented Kelsey Malicote of The Malicotes.  I knew that she, with her husband alongside her would provide the most gorgeous photos, while also making this such a fun day.  From there we gathered a team of talented people to make this come together as exactly what I envisioned.

On a hot day in late September, it all came together beautifully.  It was such a fun day!  Whenever I have the opportunity to work with Kelsey and Matt I know that there will be a whole lot of laughter and smiles along the way.  It also helped that we got a visit (and a little help) from Hannah, another great friend, who is a wonderful event planner at Keeneland.

I’ve mentioned in other posts, but it’s worth mentioning again – this industry has truly brought some of the most cherished friendships into my life and I love the opportunity to pull our talents together to make something like this shoot happen.

To top it all off, we had two models who are not only absolutely beautiful people inside and out but are incredibly in love with each other and naturals in front of a camera.

I’m super excited to share this shoot with you all!  It pulled together a lot of my favorite details and design elements, and it’s been so much fun to get to go back through all the photos to choose which favorites to share!

Location: Keene Manor at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky

Photography: Kelsey and Matt Malicote of The Malicotes

Rentals: Bryant’s Rent-All

Floral: Stems, LLC

Place Cards & Menu Cards: Katie Bowman of Blu3 Designs

Dress: Twirl Boutique

Suit: Geno’s Formal Affair

Hair & Makeup: Dana of Pink Lou Lou Design Studio

Design & Planning: Christina Burton Events

The 5 Biggest Surprises of Business Ownership

“Time moves slowly, but passes quickly.” – Alice Walker

 

It feels like I blinked and suddenly I was at the end of my first year of business ownership. It’s incredible how quickly time passes.

 

One year ago, I launched Christina Burton Events. It was something I had been thinking about for awhile, but didn’t decide on until I learned we were relocating from Lexington, Kentucky to Indianapolis, Indiana because of my fiance’s job. Although not knowing a soul in the city you’re launching a company (especially one in such a relationship based industry) it can be a daunting challenge, it just finally felt like the right time to take the leap. I had spent the past nine years in the event industry, planning weddings and other events under different companies. Along the way business ownership never felt like the right fit, but when facing that move I felt as though the timing was finally right to tackle that new challenge.

 

This first year has been a whirlwind, with some of the highest highs and biggest challenges of my life. But when I think back on my first year of business ownership, there are several things that surprised me, several lessons I wasn’t expecting to learn. So here are the top 5 unexpected, surprise lessons I found along the way.

 

1. Business ownership is lonely.

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After a couple months of working from my home office full time, I started feeling really lonely. I have always found great friendships with coworkers, so this was the first time that I didn’t have someone sitting next to me who was walking in the same shoes. Someone who knew the same frustrations, worries, joys, and celebrations. I missed having those coworkers who really understood where I was at, and as great as TB has been through this entire adventure, I felt like I needed to find someone who was in my boat (or at least one just like it.)

 

As I was having a particularly rough day, I was watching Instagram stories and came across one from a fellow wedding planner based in a different state. She and I had never met, talked or interacted, in fact, I’m not even sure how I ended up following her. In her insta story that day, she posted a picture of the Powersheets she was using for 2018 goal setting – something I had just ordered several days earlier and was super excited about, but also a bit overwhelmed by. Her next post showed something about the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher – a podcast I try to listen to every week. God’s timing is always just what I need, and I felt like I was being pushed to reach out. So that evening I drafted (and re-drafted several times) an email to her – I have no doubt I sounded like a crazy person. I just kept thinking that I couldn’t possibly be the only person who was looking for a connection with another like-minded business owner, someone who was sitting in a similar boat to mine. She ended up responding and we scheduled a time to chat via phone. That phone call was the start of what has become a good friendship, and I truly believe that was a pivoting point for my business.

 

Lesson: Loneliness is very real for a lot of small business owners. There’s nothing wrong with you if you feel it, but realize you’re not alone. There are other people out there craving meaningful connections as well – so go find them, and don’t be afraid of sounding like a crazy person. If that business owner feels anything similar, they will totally get where you’re coming from.

 

2. This journey has already brought some of the best relationships.

 

Going into this I knew that I’d likely (hopefully) meet the most fantastic clients, some of whom would grow to become friends. But, what I didn’t anticipate, and what has easily been the biggest blessing of business ownership was the relationships and connections I’ve created with other creative entrepreneurs.

 

One of my biggest worries, when I launched CBE, was that since we had moved to Indianapolis 3 months earlier, I didn’t have any connections with event professionals. Pretty quickly I forced myself out of my comfort zone and attended a few local networking groups focused primarily on wedding professionals or creative entrepreneurs (I don’t love networking situations – but let’s be honest, I don’t think most people do. It’s never fun to walk into a room full of strangers.) From those, I was able to meet a few people to go to coffee with, who in turn introduced me to more event professionals. I also found that (much to my surprise), Instagram is a great way to also meet other people in the creative industry, and from what started as giving each other encouragement on posts and liking photos, I’ve been able to meet a couple awesome women. From several of these meetings, I’ve been able to form meaningful friendships that are not only helpful to me professionally, but also great connections personally. Because of my business, I’ve been able to meet these incredible, #girlboss women who are killing it at their own businesses. I’ve found that for me, as busy as I might be, it’s important to make time to grab a coffee or a glass (or three) of wine with fellow creative entrepreneurs. It’s a great time to give and receive encouragement and advice and to dream. Every single time I leave feeling rejuvenated and excited about my business all over again.

 

Lesson: Put yourself out there to form meaningful connections. The lasting friendships you’re able to make may just surprise you. And… you can always use a few more incredible #girlboss friends to encourage you to chase your biggest dreams.

 

3. Asking for help makes you stronger.

 

Much to my parent’s dismay growing up, I’ve always been highly independent. At some point in my life, I started feeling like to ask for help equaled admitting defeat or weakness. I’ve always felt like I’ve had to prove myself to everyone, and in order to do so, I had to do everything on my own. I’m sure a psychologist would have fun dissecting that one.. but anyway…

 

I do my best thinking while driving and one day I was driving to a wedding rehearsal and had a thought. Why is asking for help weak when in fact, having the help of others is going to make me stronger. I can never know everything, but I don’t have to, as long as I know where to find the answer. I had tried so hard to prove I was good enough to own my own business, and in my head, I could only do so if I did it entirely on my own. But in fact, I wasn’t at all doing it on my own. I had TB behind me supporting me every step of the way. I had friends, family and past clients who had been giving their support since hitting “post” on that first social media announcement. I had a father who was supporting all my technical questions, a mother who was allowing me to vent all frustrations, and a sister who was cheering me on each step of the way. I had help and support and that only made me stronger. It was an epiphany moment for me, one that left me drying tears before walking into the church for rehearsal that night. A moment that has left a very lasting impression. Asking for help is going to make this business go way farther than I ever could make it on my own.

 

Lesson: Needing help is okay, and expected, and even a good thing. You will be stronger and your business will be stronger because of the support of those around you.

 

4. Comparison envy is very real and is not going to create success.

 

Like a lot of other small business owners, I was looking to other businesses similar to mine in order to stay on trends and get ideas for the website and social media when I first launched. I kept telling myself that I needed to know what “competitors” were doing, in order to be successful. I don’t think that could have been further from reality.

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Following a bunch of “competitors” caused me stress, anxiety, and mostly envy. None of which are healthy emotions. I’ve also never wanted to consider fellow wedding planners, “competitors”. There is plenty of business and in this industry, it’s just so much easier to be friendly and to have others in my corner (we all need help every once in awhile.) So after several months of stressing over “how is she getting so many followers”, or “why is she getting to style such amazing shoots when I could do that”, and so on. I unfollowed most other wedding planners on social media (except for those that I felt I could honestly view with positive thoughts and without question or envy.) I’ve also realized that I don’t want to follow what someone else is doing. I launched this business so that I could pave my way, make my own decisions, and do things the way I want to do them. Basing my success on how others are doing things is not going to get me there.

 

Lesson: There will always be someone who is further ahead than you in your business – but there will also always be someone further behind. It’s a waste of time and energy (two things that business owners need all they can get of) to play the comparison game. Instead, pave your own path and cheer on those around you with a joyful heart.

 

5. Big dreams pave the way.

 

I think somewhere between college classes, cubicle life and working for others I forgot how to dream.

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One fall day a fellow business owner asked me, “where do you want your business to go? Do you hope to always do what you’re doing, or are there other things you’re wanting to expand into?” She caught me off guard with the question, but looking back it was a pivoting point. I think I stuttered over an answer, but after we got done talking I started really thinking through it. No I didn’t want to stay right where I was, not because I wasn’t happy, or haven’t loved this season of business, but because I wanted to dream bigger, I wanted to find what’s next for my business, and I wanted to do bigger things than what I was currently doing. That hard question dared me to start dreaming again. Big, scary dreams and that pivoting point already has me dreaming up bigger things for my business than I ever could have when I first launched CBE a year ago.

 

Lesson: Dreaming big isn’t something you should do – it’s something you must do in order to move forward and be successful. You may surprise even yourself with what you’re capable of.

 

There you have it. The five biggest surprise lessons I’ve learned along this journey of business ownership. I won’t say I wish someone had told me to expect these because they were learning points for me over the past year. But I have discovered a love for helping other creative entrepreneurs and fellow small business owners. I definitely do not have all the answers, but if I can save someone else time, energy or stress because I’ve already walked a certain path, I’d love to help! So if you’re a small business owner in need of resources or guidance, please reach out! I’d love to connect!

 

The Steps Series: #2 – Create Your Guest List

Step #2 – Determine who will be invited to your wedding

 

Prior to planning our own wedding, I had plenty of clients express how frustrated they were with different situations revolving around their guest list. Frustrations such as, “there are so many people on our guest list and it grows everytime we turn around!”, “My mom just sent me her list and she wants to invite 30 people whom I’ve never even met!”, “My fiance wants to invite all his fraternity brothers but I don’t want to have 350 people at our wedding!”, or, “my future mother-in-law sent over her list and she’s expecting all 100 of their extended family members to be invited but they aren’t contributing to the wedding at all!”

 

While I absolutely had the advice to provide and had compassion for my clients, at the end of the day creating the guest list for their wedding wasn’t something I could help with a whole lot. Sure, I could provide them with an easy-to-use spreadsheet to plug everyone and their addresses into, but I don’t know that Aunt Sally should be invited while crazy Aunt Suzie shouldn’t. So, when TB and I started planning our own wedding I was quickly thrown into a new situation – one that was not always comfortable and required us to really determine who we are close enough with to mail them an invite to our big day.

 

So after getting through our guest list creation here are 5 ways to get through guest list planning without causing a fight, starting an argument, upsetting a loved one, or causing you unnecessary stress.

 

#1. Understand that More People = More $

I know this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but it’s easy to get carried away listing off every person throughout your life that you want present on your wedding day.  You know… your childhood dentist, your hairdresser, every person from your church, etc.. I get it – it’s a huge day, one of the biggest in your lives, so you want absolutely everyone there to celebrate with you. But before getting list crazy and adding every person you’ve ever met, consider that each person you add to that guest list is additional money you will spend. For each additional person, you will have additional costs for food, drinks, rentals (you need more tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, glassware), floral (you need more centerpieces for more tables), cake, etc.

 

Here’s a good exercise to use when creating your guest list – Are you close enough to the person you’re about to add that today you would go buy them a $50 gift?

  • If your answer is “no” – I think you have your answer as to whether or not they should go on that wedding guest list (however I fully understand there can sometimes be family obligations that might trump this rule.)
  • ‎If you are giving a hesitant “yes” – I suggest you consider adding them to a B List (more on that below.)
  • If your answer is “yes” – put ’em on the list!

 

#2. Set Your Priorities

Sit down as a couple and determine what your wishes and expectations are for who will be invited. Do you want to have a small, intimate wedding, or do you want to have the biggest party ever with everyone who’s ever been a part of your lives in attendance, or maybe it’s really important that you personally know every person there? Whatever it might be, determine as a couple what matters most to you and set parameters based on that.

 

For TB and I, we decided that it’s important for us to personally know each person that’s being invited to our wedding, and we really want to keep our guest list to 200 people or less (with the hope of ending up with approx. 150 guests in attendance.  Plan for 75% of your guest list to actually RSVP “yes”.) We felt that 150 people can maintain an intimate feel while still having a party atmosphere during the reception, this also keeps us from having to cut the guest list to the point of offending people and allows us to invite all our close family and friends.

 

#3. Understand that your parents do have expectations (and feelings)

‎All parents have some level of expectation in mind when it comes to your wedding guest list and who will or will not be invited. My advice to couples varies based on the financial situation of their wedding.

 

There are two main scenarios to consider, so choose the one that best expresses your wedding financial situation:

1. Your parents (of the bride and/or groom, or collectively) are paying for 61-100% of the wedding:

I know you may not want to hear this, but there are times where part of my job is to bring reality to wedding planning, so I’m going to go ahead and tell you – money talks. If your parents are contributing the vast majority of the wedding budget, they should have a say in who gets invited. That doesn’t mean your friends get taken off the guest list, but it does mean some of your parent’s friends might need to be added.  But it’s all about communication and setting expectations up front. Following the budget discussion (or even at the same time that you have the budget discussion with your parents), talk through the guest list. Tell them the priorities you determined as a couple for the guest list and ask them what their vision is for who should receive an invite. If you don’t have a conversation up front and all come to a collective expectation but instead ask for a list from each set of parents, it is highly likely that you will receive back a larger list than you imagined.

2. You (as a couple) are paying for 60% or more of the wedding:

This is the scenario TB and I are in. It was important to us (after discussing our guest list priorities) to maintain control over the guest list, so we sat down following our budget discussion and created our guest list together. We added all our friends and family members whom we wanted to be at our wedding to our list. Once we felt good about the list we created, I enlisted the help of my mom and TB’s mom. I asked them each to provide a list of those family members and friends they felt should be invited to the wedding. But I also set the expectation from the beginning that TB and I would have discretion over who would actually receive an invitation. I just wanted to be clear up front that just because a name came back to us, didn’t mean they would get an invite. Fortunately, we have two great sets of parents who have been fantastic so there were no issues or questions. But I also do think that’s because the expectation was set up front, there was no grey area to create unrealistic expectations or confusion.

 

#4. Consider making a B List

The fact that you’re likely setting your guest list a year before your wedding will take place can sometimes make creating your guest list an even bigger challenge. A lot can change in a year! There could be friends whom you used to be super close with, but maybe you haven’t talked to them in a year, well by the time the wedding rolls around that could be 2 years and then you might wish you hadn’t sent them an invite at all. So while you’re making the list, consider where your relationship with each person might be in a year.

 

If there is anyone whom you are questioning, I suggest putting them on a B list (this can be Sheet 2 on your spreadsheet or you can just make a column to mark A List or B List).  The B list will allow you to think about whether or not to send them an invite for the next several months, but guarantees that you won’t accidentally forget them when it comes time to send invites. Also, for anyone marked B List – do not send them a save the date until you can confidently switch them to the A List column (which may not happen at all.) If you are still questioning when it comes time to drop save the dates in the mail, just skip sending them one and see how you are feeling when it comes time to send invitations. They will never know that they missed a save the date because not everyone sends save the dates, and some people only send them to their out of town guests. This will allow you time to determine if this is really someone whom you want to invite to celebrate your special day with you.

 

#5. Surround yourself with the people that are important to you

Just keep in mind that this is meant to be one of the happiest times of your life preparing for the happiest day. A day where you will be surrounded by love, so you should be surrounded by the people you love. Follow your gut and invite the people you really want there.

 

So grab a glass of wine and start that list you’ve been avoiding! If you’re anything like me the thought of just creating a list is exciting!

 

In case you missed Step #1 – Setting your wedding budget, you can review that here.

2017 Top Ten

A year in review of Christina Burton Events

 

As I sit snuggled on my couch reflecting on the past year, I’m truly in awe of how much change and development can happen in a years time.  Had someone told me all that would come in 2017 I probably would have called them crazy, but here I sit with the first wedding season of business ownership under my belt and it was quite the first year!  So in order to celebrate and remember – let’s review the top 10 things that have taken place for Christina Burton Events over the past year.
1. CBE Launch

February 5, 2017 – I remember sitting at our kitchen counter typing and retyping the social media post that would “officially” launch the business.  In reality, this was just an announcement to friends, family, and social media followers that I was launching Christina Burton Events and that the website was finally up and live.  But it still made my heart pound and blood rush in nervousness.  It was the first time I was putting it out there for all of social media world to see – It had to be perfect!   So perfect or not, I threw it out there.  Not quite sure of all it meant other than that I would hopefully have clients of my own.  The support I felt after putting up that post was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.  I had friends, family members, past clients, and people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years all reaching out with their good wishes and support of my new venture.  That was only the beginning of surprises, 2017 had so many more surprises in store.

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2. Official Business Launch

May 1, 2017 – One thing they (whoever “they” are) don’t tell you – or at least no one told me is that owning a business is hard.  And that starts almost as soon as you decide to act on the idea that’s formed in your mind.  When I decided a year ago that after having planned weddings under different companies for the past 9 years I wanted to work for myself and own my own event planning company, I didn’t know where to begin.  I knew I needed a great website, a Facebook page, and an Instagram account, but what else?  How do you make a business “official” – you know, what are those steps you have to take to make the government recognize you are a small business?  And after a lot of googling, I still didn’t have a solid answer.  So long, multi-month story short – I finally found a great non-profit that services small businesses, met with them, got a solid list of steps, and it took all of about 5 minutes to make the business “official”.  But it was still a super exciting day, not only because I finally completed everything after months of searching for answers, but I felt official (and actually was!)

 

3. Going Full Time

July 31, 2017 – Like most other business owners in the wedding industry, I began my business as a side hustle.  As business started rolling, it became harder to serve CBE clients in the capacity I knew I wanted to, due to responsibilities at my full-time job.  So I knew I had to do something.  This was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever had to make.  I had to let go of the structure and comfort of knowing a paycheck would arrive in my bank account every other Friday and trust that I could make ends meet solely through my business.  But after a lot of prayers, a lot of discussions with TB (my now fiancé), and probably a lot of tears along the way, I took a leap of faith.  Looking back that was one of the best decisions I’ve made in the past year.  I also can’t say I’ve been sad about trading in my pencil skirts and heels for yoga pants and slippers most days either.

stock images for social media

 

4. First CBE Wedding

August 5, 2017 – For those of you that live in Indiana – do you remember that Saturday in August this year that brought unseasonably perfect weather?  I’m talking about a perfect 70 degrees and sunny in August!  Well, that was the day of Dana and JP’s wedding at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis.  What a perfect wedding to start out the 2017 wedding season for Christina Burton Events!  Dana and JP were two of the most beautiful people inside and out and had wonderful families by their side.  They had a gorgeous ceremony on the canal, followed by a sunny cocktail hour on the outdoor patio, and concluded with a beautiful reception inside the museum’s Grand Hall.  It was an incredible day and the Indiana theme felt perfect for my first wedding in Indiana.

 

Photos by Mike Taylor Photography

 

5. I became a future Bride!

August 24, 2017 – This, of course, goes down as the personal biggest day of 2017 for me, so it also felt right to include it on this list.  After spending 10 years planning other people’s weddings, I get to plan my own!  Believe it or not, it wasn’t all already planned and it did feel crazy to suddenly have the roles reversed. It also felt SO GOOD!  Not only did the love of my life get down on own knee, say the sweetest things (none of which I can now remember), and ask me to spend the rest of my life with him, but I am now walking in the same shoes as each of my clients, which will only allow me to serve them better.

 

Photos by Anje Haisch

 

6. Styled Shoot

September 27, 2017 – Another first for Christina Burton Events was the styled shoot I styled, designed and planned.  With the collaboration of a dream team of Lexington vendors, we had a wonderful shoot!  Huge thanks to everyone involved – Keeneland, Malicote Photography, Twirl, Pink Lou Lou, Geno’s, Blu3 Designs (Indianapolis based), Bryant’s Rent-All, and Stems!

 

Photos by The Malicotes

 

7. Amy & Drew’s Wedding

September 30, 2017 – This wedding was special to me for several reasons; not only was everyone involved in this wedding an absolute pleasure to get to meet and know.  Amy, Drew and their families were some of the most gracious people I’ve ever met and because of that the day at Garfield Park and the Columbia Club in Indianapolis were full of so much love.  They also had an incredible vendor team that I had the joy of working alongside to make sure the day was perfect for the couple.  And, Amy was the first client to ever sign a contract with CBE (back in April)!

 

Photos by Ivan and Louise Photography

 

8. Launched Blog

November 3, 2017 – I went back and forth over the past year about launching a blog for CBE.  They say the only thing worse than not having a blog is having a blog that’s outdated, and that was my biggest fear.  However, after much thought and prayer following our engagement, I felt like a blog was one more way I could serve fellow brides well.  I’ve enjoyed writing content that will hopefully help other brides and I’ve loved journaling our wedding planning journey as it’s happening for future blog content.  I’ve realized along the way that walking in the bride shoes changes my perspective in such a way that I’m learning things I didn’t know.

 

9. New Relationships

2017 – One challenge I faced when I launched CBE was that I didn’t have any relationships in Indianapolis.  TB and I moved to Indy back in November 2016, so those 9 years I spent planning weddings prior to that was in Lexington, Kentucky.  So much in the wedding industry is vendor relationship based.  It’s important for me to be able to serve my clients well and that means knowing which other vendors to refer them to based on their needs.  In Lexington, I had many fantastic vendors whom I loved working with and also considered friends, so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to form those relationships in Indy quickly enough to help my 2017 clients.  But just like it naturally happened in Lexington over the years, it’s also happened naturally here in Indy.  There are SO MANY amazing wedding vendors here and I’ve already been privileged to be working with and getting to know many of them!  

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Photo by The Malicotes

 

10. Lexington Christmas Wedding

December 22, 2017 – The CBE 2017 wedding season definitely finished on a high note!  I decided early on in the year that I wasn’t done doing weddings in Lexington.  After starting my career there and having great relationships that I miss working with I didn’t want to give that up.  Luckily for me, it’s only a short drive to get there and we make 1-2 trips each month to visit friends and family, and attend events as it is.  So I was thrilled when Kaitlyn & Colton reached out last spring about their Christmas wedding at the Hilary J. Boone Center at the University of Kentucky.  I don’t know if it’s just the group of people they surround themselves with or if everyone was on a high because it was holiday break but their wedding on Friday before Christmas was an absolute blast!  They had a great vendor team (several of whom I was super excited to be working with once again), and their people were so much fun!  

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Overall 2017 was a year of growth, surprises, and perseverance.  Launching and owning a small business is the hardest venture I’ve ever tackled but it’s also been the most rewarding.  The clients I have the opportunity to serve are some of the most fantastic couples I’ve ever met and it is an honor to get to be a part of the biggest day of their lives!  As great as 2017 has been, I’m feeling ready to tackle 2018.  I have no doubt that 2018 will bring even more surprises and growth, I’m excited about all the plans I have in store, but I’m also looking forward to a year that’s more intentional and simple, where my overall goal is to be more present, to make sure I’m taking care of myself & my family (TB and pups), and working smarter, not harder.  

 

So Cheers to 2017!  I’m raising my glass to toast all the support I’ve felt over the past year because I surely could not have done any of these things without that support!  Bring on 2018!