Today I’m sharing a really unique and awesome Vendor Spotlight with you!! I first met Carlene of Naturally Yours Events when I was second shooting for my friend Julia. Carlene coordinated a gorgeous wedding at the Chicago Yacht Club and what really impressed me was her ability to coordinate a “green” environmentally friendly wedding, without compromising style and vision.

I can be the first one to admit that I probably had too much of many things at my own wedding and the help of a planner would have guided the decision making process regarding what was really needed and necessary.

Carlene is just the person to help coordinate your day while leaving a smaller imprint on the environment, which I love…especially since I’ve been super into recycling and being “green” over the last couple years!

In the words of Jack Johnson, “We’ve got to learn to reduce, reuse, recycle”. If you’re thinking of hiring a wedding coordinator, consider dropping this Chicago Green Wedding Planner a line!!

All images from this post were provided by Tuan H. Bui Photographer.

Chicago Green Wedding Planner Carlene

Tell me about your business- what do you specialize in? We are anything but cookie-cutter planners and think outside the box to create unique and memorable events. We specialize in planning eco-friendly events and can help couples create their special day with less waste and a smaller carbon footprint. This is more than choosing like-minded vendors but also about the way you think about planning. It can be anything from choosing reusable soy-based candles to planning escort cards that double as favors, to using vintage pieces for decor. We have all the greener tips!

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How did you get started? I have always been obsessed with details — whether planning birthday parties at 10 years old, organizing huge trips to midnight showings of super geeky movies, or helping family and friends plan their most important life moments— and I was quickly known as “the planner” among those around me. It wasn’t until after earning a degree in advertising, working for a prestigious wedding photographer, and moving to Chicago that I had that “ah ha” moment: I love to plan events and I rock at it! Pairing my personal and professional commitment to the environment with a passion for details, Naturally Yours Events came into fruition. Now my team and I work with some truly amazing vendors to create unique and stress-free events that are absolutely fun!

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What’s your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry? The wedding industry here in Chicago has some of the best and most hard working people I have ever met. It is full of creative energy and this “do-what-you-love” mentality. Some of my good friends are my competition and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a supportive and warm industry to work in.

How would you describe your business’ style? I would say I am pretty accessible and down-to-earth. I am easy to talk to and get along with but I really get shit done! My clients and I have been known to have a beer or a glass of wine during meetings and generally have fun together.

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How far in advance should clients book your services? I have had clients book farther than a year out and even some as soon as a month out from the wedding day. I would recommend that clients look at booking a planner about a year out. If you are looking for full or partial planning coverage, it is great to work with a planner before you book your venue so we can help you select the perfect one. If you were looking for a day-of coordinator, I would still recommend booking a year in advance. This will allow you to take advantage of all the great tips we provide and our online planning tool.

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Where does your inspiration come from? All over! I really love pairing natural elements with industrial elements and a splash of romance (or whimsy).

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? I love to bike everywhere, try new craft beers, and watch movies at the Music Box with my boyfriend.

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What is one piece of advice you think all couples would benefit from knowing? For those couples who want to be a bit “green” we suggest reducing waste. This can also save some green too! For example, don’t waste money and trees by having multilayered invites with RSVP cards, accommodation cards, activity cards, maps, tissue paper layered upon tissue paper etc. Put this information online on your wedding website! Cut back on waste by not including favors as a lot of guests do not even take them home. No matter how cool they are, we end up packing a ton left over at the end of the night. Go simple with décor and choose elements that can be reused and incorporate those into your centerpieces. Finally, less is more for dessert. You do not need passed petit fours, a candy bar, and wedding cake with ice cream. That’s way too much! If you want a cake, don’t feel like you have to have a piece for each person, some guests won’t even take a bite.

How can clients connect with you?


9 Tips for Getting Rest the Night Before Your Wedding

As I was doing my weekly let’s face it, daily “Blog-a-holic” routine (where I scour the internet through a million and one wedding blogs because I’m addicted to all things pretty), I came across a really interesting article on The Knot featuring 9 Tips for Getting Rest the Night Before Your Wedding.

Photo Credit: Grace_Evangeline via Flickr

Well since I’m so calm and not type A, I’m sure you’ll be soooo surprised to learn that one thing I struggled with the night before my own wedding was getting a good night’s sleep. I was so excited/nervous that I just could NOT get decent shut eye!!

Where was this information when I needed it?!  In honor of one of my favorite past times (napping), I’m sharing this article with you today so you can wake up rested and feeling fab on your big day!

My two favorite tips of the 9?

6. Pull the Plug on Your Electronics

For some of us, the blue light found in tablets and phones actually signals daytime to our brains, says Dr. Jordan Stern of The Comprehensive Sleep and Snoring Center in New York, NY. Disengaging from social media, emails and text messages will also draw your mind away from the types of thoughts that can jolt you back into a state of anxious wakefulness. “The idea that one can go from working and doing things to immediately falling asleep is fraught with problems,” Dr. Emsellem says. “It’s really hard to switch modes directly from awake activity to sleep.”

8. Write Down a List of To-Dos

“Our minds are very powerful and if you’re drifting off to sleep, but you start to think and worry, your heart rate goes up, your respiratory rate goes up, you sweat, you get anxious and all of those things are counter-productive to sleep,” says Dr. Emsellem. If your mind is still racing as you’re hopping into bed, get out a pen and paper and write down the list of things that are keeping you up with potential solutions. “One thing I have my brides do the night before the wedding is write down a list of all the things they have concerns about, then jotting down a quick solution,” says Dr. Breus. “The solution could be as simple as calling your planner to deal with the situation in the morning.” As long as your brain feels like you’ve addressed the problem, and created a solution, you have a good chance of letting it go. “The fact of the matter is that you can’t do anything about it at night except worry.”

I always FAIL at pulling the plug on my electronics but once I do, I always end up falling asleep faster and sleeping better.  And my favorite thing??!! A to-d0 list.  Not only does it keep me organized but writing things down allows me to forget about it until it’s time to tackle that specific task.  Keeping a to-do list keeps my anxiety levels to a minimum when I have a lot going on.

Head over to The Knot to check out the other 7 tips for getting sleep the night before your wedding.  The advice is really solid and can help calm a busy mind so you wake up looking like you just had a facial;)

7 Reasons to use a Chicago Wedding Planner

I know what you’re thinking… “I don’t need a wedding planner, I can do everything myself”. Well that’s what I thought too.  And then I became a bride! I was the bride who wanted to be in control and know every little detail about everything that was going on while I was wedding planning. I even went as far as making a huge custom cutting order at the Paper Source because I wanted “Pocket” invitations, and I couldn’t find the ones I wanted anywhere.  So I scored, folded, and put together every single one…All 200 of them.  And then Jon helped me stamp our monogram on what felt like a million little squares.  This was just the beginning…lol.  Let my hindsight be your gain!

Today I’m going to share 7 Reasons to use a Chicago Wedding Planner:

7. You deserve everything to be fabulous on such an important day. Using a wedding planner alleviates you from dealing with an unexpected crisis… and there’s always at least one (Our trolley never showed up and my Dad had to deal with it).

6. A Wedding Planner has several local vendor connections.  The Chicago Wedding Industry in particular is a very supportive and close-knit group.  Using a planner will allow you to take advantage of their personal professional network of trusted vendors, all of whom have fabulous reputations.  Your wedding planner will have the perfect set of vendors to align with your wedding vision.

5. You have a vision for your wedding day and a planner will bring that vision to fruition.  We all have an idea of how we WANT something to look, but making it happen is another story. A great example of this is my website.  I FINALLY hired a designer to bring my vision to life because I was really having difficulty making it happen… and now I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

4. A wedding planner will help plan your timeline for the day, coordinate with the other vendors, and help keep things on schedule so the ceremony is on time, meals come out hot, there’s enough time for photos, and your guests aren’t kept waiting.

3. A wedding planner can offer their advice.  This isn’t their first rodeo.  They know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to weddings.

2. The dreaded budget… A planner will make sure you stick to it by tracking everything and they can often times negotiate deals with other vendors for their clients because of their relationships.

1. STRESS!!! Having a wedding planner makes the experience so much more enjoyable! My personal experience planning my wedding was super stressful because I was so into the details and completing so many projects on my own… it totally took over my life. Guest lists, table planning, favors, paper suites, linens, flowers, etc.  I had a hand in all these things.  It would have been SOOO nice to have a consultant help me bring the day to life rather than do so much myself. I also really relied on my mom and aunts a TON on the wedding day and it would have been really nice if they could have just enjoyed themselves.  Instead my aunt was trying to get the linens company to iron all the table clothes because they were so wrinkled, they looked like someone threw them in a ball on the floor.  She even went as far as ironing them herself.  I was very thankful for the help, but wish she wouldn’t have had to do all that. She was almost late for the ceremony because of it.

Investing in a wedding planner is one expense you won’t regret because of the many benefits you’ll receive!!  Know someone planning a wedding?  Share this post with them:)

Top 10 First Dance Songs for Weddings

Being a huge music fan, I always get excited when I hear a couple’s first dance song during the reception.  I especially love it when a unique song is chosen, one you wouldn’t expect.  And of course I get sappy when any of the “First Dance” songs happen to be the same as what Jon and I had at our wedding.

There are so many options out there and sometimes when you’re planning a wedding, making a decision just becomes difficult.  So today I’m happy to share my picks for “Top 10 First Dance Songs”.

  1. At Last- Etta James
  2. Into the Mystic- Van Morrison
  3. In my Life- The Beatles (Our wedding party danced to this) Thank God Brides aren’t making their wedding parties dance with their “partner” attendant anymore…Can we say AWKWARD…haha I once stood up in a wedding where the corresponding groomsman refused to dance with me because he didn’t want his girlfriend to get upset. I mean, come on people, we’re all adults here!
  4. Ho Hey- The Lumineers
  5. You’re My Best Friend- Queen (One of my favorite couples danced to this song at their wedding and I have warm memories every time I hear it.
  6. You & Me- Dave Matthews Band  (I’ve been obsessed with them since 8th grade)
  7. Such Great Heights- Iron & Wine & The Postal Service (From the movie Garden State…LOVE)
  8. I will Follow You into the Dark- Death Cab for Cutie (Might seem a little morbid to some but I think it’s completely romantic)
  9. I won’t give up- Jason Mraz or Christina Grimmie from the Voice.
  10. Fields of Gold- Sting (Jon and I danced to this song at our wedding so of course it made the list)

Have you chosen your first dance song yet?  Have a favorite you’d like to share?  Leave them in the comments.

Lately scouring the internet for information I think would be useful to my clients has become my favorite past time. I’m a total read-a-holic and always do this for myself and my business but thought it would be a good idea to start sharing the knowledge I often stumble upon! I guess I wouldn’t exactly say that I stumble upon the info because I’m actively looking, but hopefully you’re picking up what I’m laying down and benefitting from it too.

0 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive while Wedding Planning

Since I first wrote the “8 Useful Free Apps for Wedding Planning Post“, I’ve really been using Flipboard a TON to curate some of the content that I find useful for my couples and the blog.  And can I just say that I’m totally obsessed with this app?? I totally love it!  I also found another web based app called Feedly (they also have an iPad app), that can be used similarly.  This app is a little easier to set up initially but doesn’t have as much functionality.  It also doesn’t look as slick…BUT; If technology is not your friend, it might be perfect for you!

Anyhow, I think I’ve totally gotten off track here… On to talking about 10 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive while Wedding Planning. I found this super sweet and useful article on Loverly that gives 10 good ideas for just that!

One of my favorite tips was this:

2. Go old school. Look back through your texts, Instagrams, and gushy emails to friends from those early dating days and relive some of your best moments—and date nights—all over again. (Bonus points for actually showing your partner those aforementioned gushy text messages!)”

I think the stress (and excitement) of wedding planning can often make us forget why we fell in love and are getting married in the first place. I know this was particularly true for me.  I think it’s easier to get caught up in the hoopla and forget what’s most important: that you’ve found the person you want to spend forever with and you’re building a marriage and future together.

So in favor of remembering, hop on over to read the article and learn 9 more ways to keep that romance churning.  It could also be good to read this article in 5 years….lol.  I think I’m going to try and take some of the advice from it too;)

What’s your advice for keeping the romance alive while wedding planning? Be sure to leave it in the comments.


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