Know Your Event's Walk Score

Is being able to walk to nearby restaurants, bars, coffee shops and shopping important to your attendees? What about access to public transportation?

There's a lot of talk about "green" events these days and the best way to make your event fun and green is to choose a location with convenient access to the amenities and activities your attendees want and that doesn't require them to drive long distances or wait in endless cab lines to get around.

The folks at Walk Score, which measures the walkability of any address, just ranked the most walkable covention centers. Here's the top 5:

Rank Convention Center City Walk Score
1 The Moscone Center San Francisco, CA 98
1 America's Center St. Louis, MO 98
3 Reno-Sparks Convention Center Reno, NV 97
4 Salt Palace Convention Center Salt Lake City, UT 95
5 Phoenix Convention Center Phoenix, AZ 94

Check out the rest of the list and know the Walk Score of your next event.


6 Ways to Green Wedding Travel

By guest blogger Kate L. Harrison

An important piece of wedding planning is coordinating transportation and trying to anticipate the travel needs of your guests. These arrangements are often dependent on the season, timing, and location of your wedding. However, wherever and whenever you wedding is, there are many great eco-friendly transportation options to choose from.

First Stop: Let Go of The Limo

According to The Wedding Report, about 75% of couples travel to and from their wedding in a limousine, at an average cost of $674. Just think about how many tons of CO2 and how much money you can save if you choose an eco-friendly option instead! For example, imagine the attention and the fabulous photographs you and your fiancée would get if you traveled to your wedding on a trolley, bus, or subway. Don’t have that far to go? Consider a more romantic option like a tandem bicycle for a farm wedding, an elegant horse and carriage ride for a wedding on a historic property, or a boat for a wedding at the water’s edge.

If you still have your heart set on a limo, see if you can rent a hybrid limo, and always ask the driver to pick up the entire bridal party in one location. This will decrease driving time and save you money too!

It’s Electric!

The hybrid, alternative fuel, and electric vehicle rental market is growing quickly and all of these options are significantly better for the environment than traditional limousines. Look online for car services and rental companies that offer electric, hybrid, biodiesel, or other eco-friendly vehicles in your area. When you find one, post a link on your wedding website to make sure your guests who are in need of rentals use them as well.

Keep It In One Place

One of the easiest ways to decrease the impact of your wedding is to have your ceremony and reception in the same location. The average wedding has 160 guests, so even if four guests pile into a car (which is unlikely; probably most cars only carry two guests), that’s still forty vehicles driving from one location to the next, which adds up to a lot of carbon emissions. A single location eliminates the problem, and saves your guests the hassle and headache of getting from one place to another. If that location is close to public transportation, you guarantee that getting there will be a snap and will have minimal impact on the earth.

Provide Transportation for Everyone

Image: Jessica Barnes

Have a lot of guests staying at a hotel, or all together in one place? Consider hiring a bus or van to move everyone en masse. If you provide snacks and drinks on board, a wedding bus can be a highlight for you and your guests. A trolley is a fun option too, and if you find a company that has electric trolleys, it’s even better. This is also a good way to decrease car travel if you have your ceremony and reception in different locations.

Carpools

Carpools are a good way to decrease the total amount of pollution your wedding generates, and they give you, your friends and family the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company. Cars produce the same amount of pollution whether they carry one passenger or five, so help your guests carpool by setting up a ride board on your website and encouraging guests who live in the same area to connect with each other ahead of time. A number of companies like Rideshare and Carpool World specialize in ridesharing, but you can even set up a blog and just have guests post their plans and contact information in the comment section.

Reduce What You Can, Then Offset Rest

Once you reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding as much as possible, you can use a carbon calculator to figure out the remaining impact an offset it. Carbon-offsetting can be especially useful for a wedding with a lot of guests traveling in by plane or car, or a destination wedding.

Remember that when it comes to the travel associated with your wedding, every choice makes a difference. Choose the options that work best for your celebration and your guests’ needs, and you’ll be off to a responsible, sustainable start to your news lives together.

Kate L. Harrison is the author of The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget and Founder and CEO of The Green Bride Guide, a comprehensive resource with everything you need to plan a green wedding.


Meet the Bride: Wedding Taskmaster

Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, like the brides that are in charge. I say "brides in charge" because, let's face it grooms, once you plan that elaborate proposal and are engaged, the bride takes over from there. Yes, you help. But it usually is in reaction to requests, however subtle or overt, from your bride to be.

Ceremonies roughly fall into five major categories: Budget, moderate, luxury, elopement and destination weddings. I recently participated in my sister's wedding which fell somewhere between budget and moderate and was a bit of a destination wedding at a lakeside resort. Every detail was perfectly planned and the wedding went off without a hitch all because of the bride's event planning experience and gentle task-manager skills.

Family, friends, bridesmaids and groomsmen were excited for the wedding and geared up for an extended weekend at a lakeside resort. And we were all assigned tasks to do either weeks before the wedding, the day of the ceremony or after the ceremony. When we arrived at the wedding location two days before the event, my lovely bride sister had a three-ring binder with all her wedding coordination plans neatly organized in print. That binder contained the secrets to the most organized wedding I've participated in. If you don't want to hire a wedding coordinator and want to do it yourself, here's how my sister did it. Amend this to suit your wedding's needs/tastes and assign anyone you want to the task(s). The key is delegation and proper follow-up by the bride (and groom).

Tips and Tasks Before the Wedding

  • Get yourself a good checklist for wedding "to-do's" - use our wedding guide, Martha Stewart magazine's pull-out, or any other resource you can find to help you with such big items as dress and tux/suit purchases, music secured, minister/officiant reserved, ring purchases, flowers, cake, food, etc.
  • Set a budget and stick to it - use the checklist and decide what items are critical to you and which are flexible (example: toasts can be made and enjoyed without the expense of champagne or sparkling wine and people can raise whatever glass they have in their hand)
  • Before sending save the dates and invitations and doing any wedding planning, have a heart-to-heart with the groom about what should be the spirit and environment of the wedding
  • Use people's strengths and assign tasks they will like and can handle - know your helpers well
  • Rely upon both bride and groom family and friends and spread things out if needed - don't keep relying on your maid of honor for everything!
  • Throw a party to assemble and address wedding invitations - with all the scrapbooking and fancy paper stores around, it is easy to create a professional-looking invite at a low cost
  • Drinks - assign people to pick up kegs of beer, cases of wine and ingredients for mixed drinks unless bartender at receception site has those covered; assign same people who pick up those ingredients to set those items out at the reception (unless the reception site covers this)
  • Create notebook with contact information of vendors (for cake, food, flowers, music, minister, etc.) and set an itinerary for the wedding day (i.e., timing of bride's hair and make-up, timing of photos and who gets photos when and where)
  • Assign one person to the rehearsal dinner coordination and communication if necessary, etc. (perhaps place the groom's family in charge of this if they are covering costs of this meal and event)

Tasks for Wedding and Reception Set-Up

  • Bride reviews notebook with groom and bridesmaids of itinerary and ceremony + reception map w/ location of decorations so others can direct vendors and not have to rely on the bride for all the answers
  • If grandparents or others need wheelchair access to buildings or locations, keep that in mind when planning the wedding
  • Assign one person to the ceremony location as "site lead" for decorations and to be a runner if needed
  • Assign another person to the reception location as "site lead" for decorations, meeting vendors, etc. and enough people to help set up the decorations
  • When photos are happening, make sure at least one or two people (a bridesmaid and groomsman, most likely) can be runners for the photographer to gather the appropriate family members at picture time

Tasks for Leaving the Wedding

  • Make arrangements ahead of time for transporting gifts
  • Make arrangements for transporting extra alcohol and food
  • Assign multiple people to take down decorations or remaining items that may be important to keep

My sister must have had many more tasks I was unaware of, but it all happened so smoothly, I didn't notice. Next family wedding I attend or participate in, I'll be fully prepared. Thanks, sis. ;-)

And of course, using TripHub to help plan and coordinate wedding communication is also a useful tool for securing RSVPs, showing maps and giving directions of event locations, especially if there is a weekend-long gathering with multiple events.


Need Help Planning a Large Gathering? Act like a Pro

Organizing a large family reunion, destination wedding or meeting is a lot of work, and the process can quickly become overwhelming. Where to hold the event? How much space is needed? Which facilities can accommodate the group? Who are the good caterers and other service providers in the area? What should be on the menu?

Corporate meeting and event planners do this every day for the most demanding customers in the travel business. And thanks to MiMegasite you can benefit from many of their tips and tools, even if your budget doesn’t include professional planning help.

Read articles on food and beverage planning. Gain insight on new and improved facilities and activities in their destination guides. Use the meeting space planner to determine your square footage requirements. Looking for space options in San Francisco? The facility search tool has information and links for over 900 options, which you can narrow down based on room requirements. Photographers in Phoenix? The supplier search tool has contact and other information for 54 of them as well as recommendations in 46 other supplier categories.

Getting started is often the hardest part, and MiMegasite lowers that hurdle so you can focus on making the right choices for your group.


5 Tips for Planning a Winter (Ski) Resort Wedding

By guest blogger Blair deLaubenfels

Whistler_winter_wedding2Does the idea of a winter wedding complete with sleigh rides, making tracks through fresh powder, hot toddies, and friends around a roaring fire make you feel warm and cozy inside, but the idea of planning for one leaves you cold? Then try these 5 tips for simplifying winter wedding planning.

1. Choose a resort that offers something for everyone.
North America is full of fabulous places to ski and snowboard, but not all of your guests will be enthusiastic about heading to the slopes. Pick a location that offers a wide range of activities and choices for everybody. Resorts like Whistler, Breckenridge and Vail offer first class nightlife, dining and shopping, as well as plenty of other relaxing and entertaining options for guests of all ages.

2. Hire a local consultant
Even if you're quite familiar with the area you've chosen, finding a highly recommended wedding planner who has lots of experience planning weddings at that destination is a must. Ask for references and check them. Once you've found someone you're comfortable working with, set a budget you can live with and supply the consultant with as much information about the preferences of the guests on your list as you can. Stay in close contact as changes arise.

3. Book early.
Peak times at coveted ski resorts are often booked a year or more in advance, so be sure that you get your reservations all set 12 to 18 months before your wedding. Send out invitations as soon as you've made your arrangements so friends and family have plenty of time to schedule time off and travel.

4. Help your guests plan
Have your consultant provide a detailed itinerary to each person attending. Be sure that it includes a map of the area, transportation arrangements to and from accommodations and events, an hourly time-line for your wedding day and the days leading up to it, as well as contact information for your consultant and local emergency numbers. In addition, guests who aren’t familiar with ski resort living will appreciate a packing list with all the items necessary for them to keep warm and safe.

5. Consider taking your photographer with you.
Seattle wedding consultant Dianne Greene, of Distinctive Weddings and Events, recommends that you hire a photographer who lives near you so that you can meet and see their work before your wedding. When your photos and album are ready you'll be able to pick them up in person, insuring that you get what you paid for.

Blair deLaubenfels is Senior Editor for Junebug Weddings.

Photo supplied by Whistler photographer David Buzzard


Event Venues

Planning a wedding, a milestone birthday, anniversary party, or any other organized group event? Scope out potential locations on a site specializing in helping you find event venues. Eventective is a searchable with Google maps per U.S. city flagged with event locations. Full addresses and basic overview information about each venue is also available.

Do your own digging around the site and find the ideal location for your next group event.


Wedding Shows

For the second time in my life, I'm going to attend a bridal show with a good friend who just got engaged. The bride-to-be is giddy with ideas, excited for the big day, and relieved her boyfriend finally popped the question.

Friends and family kick in immediately following engagement announcements to help with wedding planning. Best man and maid of honor, along with wedding parties, are carefully selected by the couple. But brides start their research, often gathering ideas for how to celebrate and tie the knot by asking for advice and going to wedding shows.

Enter friends and family. At wedding shows, there are vendors with cake samples and wedding dresses, plus make-up artists, decoration professionals, and wedding coordinators. There will likely be wedding packages offered for destination weddings and honeymoon ideas. With a dizzying array of options, it's nice to bring friends and family along to these events so the bride can get feedback from those she trusts. If people are scattered around the country or world, weddings shows can be great reasons for a girls getaway weekend.

If you are the bride or are a friend or family member of the bride, here are links to bridal/wedding shows across the country:


Your Wedding - Your Way

Stress-free wedding planning that reflects your personal style.

By guest blogger Blair deLaubenfels

Getting engaged brings euphoria, joy, and expectation. But all too often the initial excitement that comes from saying "yes" to the big question gets lost in the attempt to answer all the little questions like who to hire, what to wear, where to get married, and how much will it cost.

Here are five fun steps to help plan the wedding of your dreams, personal style in tact.

1. Share your deepest desires

Great partners care about each other's dreams and know how to lend support to help them come true. Before you run out and tell your family and friends your big news, sit down with your fiancé and make a list based on your deepest desires.

  • List ten things that you really want from your wedding and the five things that are most important to you about your honeymoon.
  • Number them in order of priority.
  • Talk about why you choose those things and make a pact that you will work together to see that most, if not all of your deepest desires will be met as you make your wedding planning decisions. This mutual understanding and trust will help you arrive at decisions and respond to all the well meaning advice you’re bound to encounter on your way.
  • If you start worrying over little things, check your priority list to get back to what really matters.

2. Set up your support team

With the help of trustworthy friends, supportive family members, and recommended wedding professionals, you'll be able to design a stress-free wedding. Put together a friends and family team based on love, reliability, and interest, and give some thought to the unique skills and talents each individual can bring to your day. Don't be shy to delegate.

Choose the professionals you need by recommendation. Hire an experienced wedding consultant that can share their expertise with you or ask friends who have been married recently. Talk to other wedding professionals and look for businesses that have won local and national awards and recognition. Check references! It doesn't take long and the feedback you get will be invaluable in bolstering your confidence, or steering you clear of a costly mistake.

3. Agree on a budget

This is one of the toughest parts of wedding planning. The average wedding in the United States costs between $18,000 and $25,000 depending on where you live. Use your priority list to set a comfortable budget. Splurge on the things that are really important and get creative about the rest.

Junebug Weddings image editor Kim Bamberg and her husband Adam shared their desires and set their budget in a truly inspiring way. They discovered that they had both always dreamt of getting married in France and that Kim had envisioned herself in a gorgeous gown since she was a little girl. Before anyone told them their dreams were too outrageous, they found the perfect chateau just outside of Paris, rented it for a whole week for less than the average reception cost in Seattle, and invited their friends and family to join them on a once in a lifetime vacation. With cake from the neighborhood boulangerie, flowers from a local market, and the most memorable wine on the planet from the vintner down the lane, Kim was ecstatic when she made her way down the aisle in her Madina Vadache designer original.

4. Reflect your personal style

Do what feels most like you! Most cowboys aren't crazy about tuxes with tails, and fashionistas usually aren't comfortable in anything but the very latest haute couture. Don't let magazines, advertisements, or other peoples' expectations drive your choices. There are a million options to choose from in every aspect of wedding planning. Find the elements for your wedding that are all about you and really make them your own.

5. Relax, and let the magic happen

You're in love, and this can be one of the best times of your life.

I've attended countless weddings and heard about all the little things that cause stress and worry. In almost all cases those distractions have turned out not to matter in the end. Learn about your partner's dreams, think creatively to develop a comfortable budget, involve your friends and family in unique ways, and let your style shine through. Chances are, your wedding will be perfectly you.

Blair deLaubenfels is Senior Editor for Junebug Weddings, which features a list of some of the country's most exceptional wedding photographers who are available for travel all over the world.

 


Mi Hacienda Es Su Hacienda

By guest blogger Jacquelin Carnegie

When planning a family reunion or wedding, taking over a small resort for your exclusive use works wonders. Certain criteria apply to site selection: The resort (or villa or hacienda or block of rental homes) should be a superior facility, offer sumptuous food, non-intrusive service, first class accommodations, and a secluded setting away from distractions.

There are a number of properties around the country (and the world) that exemplify such high standards. Here are tips on how to research your group's idyllic casa away from casa:

  1. Look for places that have the feel of a private estate, an ambience of another time and place and are so well run that you (the planner) can relax and enjoy yourself as well.
  2. Pick a spot with a distinct change of atmosphere to reinforce the concept of getting away from it all. Also, make sure it's the type of place where guests are pampered and made to feel special. You can feel the difference in the level of relaxation for guests when a resort is reserved for your group's exclusive use.
  3. Small resorts with a residential feel and hotel amenities work best for groups of friends and/or family. The sense of being on a private estate helps people let their guard down and unwind, fostering camaraderie—the reason you all wanted to get together in the first place!

Prep Steps Before You Go

  1. Before your group arrives, send the property a detailed list of a) The names of all the people in your party, b) The names of people sharing rooms and c) Of those sharing rooms, which ones require a double bed or two single beds.
  2. Charm also has its downside. In a hotel, most rooms are uniform but in an estate or hacienda, every room is unique, both in size and decoration. Make your guests aware of this beforehand so cousins don't get miffed because one has a nicer, larger room.
  3. If the property offers activities (such as horseback riding or tennis) or has a spa facility (with facials and massages), check if these services need to be booked in advance. If so, let your guests know and provide a way to tally who wants what when - before you arrive!
  4. If you are going to a resort outside the U.S., make sure everyone has a valid passport (and remembers to bring it).

Recommended Haciendas in Chile and Mexico

Hacienda Los Lingues in Chile:

Hacienda Los Lingues is about an hour south of Santiago in the heart of the wine-producing Cachapoal Valley. It's one of Chile's oldest and best-preserved estates and the same family, whose home it's been since 1599, now runs it as a hotel. The debonair Don German Claro Lyon and his family are your delightful hosts.

If you're looking for old-world, South American charm, the Hacienda Los Lingues is the spot. Shaded verandas lead to 18 rooms and suites furnished with heirloom antiques, family photos and memorabilia.

Activities for groups: a) wine tasting - there's a lovely vineyard on the property and day trips to local wineries; b) horseback riding - the stable of "Aculeo" horses, related to the famed Lipizzanas, is world-renowned.

And, if looking for a destination wedding spot, you can get married in the estate's beautiful, traditional Chilean chapel. You'll feel as if you're on the set of some fantastic South American movie.

Hacienda Temozón in Yucatan, Mexico:

In the early 1990's, abandoned (and formerly luxurious) haciendas from the economic heyday of the Yucatan region around Merida, were restored and converted into luxury hotels. Hacienda Temozón, about a half hour from Merida, is the grandest of three newly-restored properties, now part of The Luxury Collection of Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

As a result, you get the best of both worlds: a sense of the affluent lifestyle enjoyed during the economic boom and lovely, modern amenities. Much of the original décor, such as intricately-decorated floor tiles and beamed ceilings, has been preserved in the 28 elegantly-furnished rooms and guest quarters.

Spacious gardens, a spectacular swimming pool, and spa make this an ideal place to relax. It's also an excellent base for exploring the rich cultural heritage of the Yucatan peninsula and the surrounding Mayan architectural sites.

There is also a 17th-century church on the property, ideal for weddings.

Jacquelin Carnegie is a Contributing Travel Editor to Accent magazine. For the past 15 years, she has covered international travel destinations for both consumer and business publications.


Wedding Planning Guide

Oh, the joy. A bride. A groom. A ceremony filled with romance, happiness, heart-warming vows, and wedding guests blinking back tears or counting the minutes 'til they can drink heartily and dance the night away.

Whether you're planning a destination wedding or a hometown ceremony, here are helpful tips for engaged couples, the wedding party, families, and wedding guests.

Group reservations
Get the inside scoop on how to book group reservations for hotels and flights, including what to look for and what to beware of and common group discount myths.

How to delegate with panache
Delegating is an art. You want as wide a canvas as possible for a wedding. Share responsibilities and only take on what you need to do yourself. These tips for delegating apply to family reunions also, but you'll see the parallels to wedding planning (aren't weddings another form of reunions?).

Why plan a destination wedding?
Benefits of destination weddings can often far outweigh the costs (or misperceived costs). Find out why the popularity of saying "I do" abroad or outside of your hometown is on the rise.

Top destination wedding hotspots
What are the best locations to get married? If your neighborhood church is booked on your chosen date, consider any destination wedding hotspots such as Las Vegas or Hawaii. They cater to weddings and offer idyllic settings for honeymoons.

Licenses and rules for destination weddings
Will your marriage abroad be valid? Learn about licenses and rules for destination weddings so you are as prepared as possible for the big day.

Bachelor and bachelorette party inspirations
He proposed. Finally! Now the planning can begin – for the best man and maid of honor that is. Here are tried-and-true tips for successful (and classy) bachelor parties and bachelorette parties.

More Wedding Planning Tips

Best of the Web (Wedding Related Links)