Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Who, What, Where, When, Why & How of Budgets

When planning any type of event, it is important to be honest about the budget.

Who~Who is supplying the budget funds?
What~What is a realistic budget?

Where~Where should I be spending the budget?

When~When is a good time to put down a deposit?

Why~Why do need a budget?

How~How can I keep my budget under control?

 We often ask who will be paying for the budget or at least the majority of it because while the trend has been for couples to start to pay for their wedding, families do assist.  When we know who is taking care of certain parts of the budget, we make sure the correct people are involved. 

What is a realistic budget can be difficult mostly because couples are uncertain how much it costs for all the aspects of a larger scale event. Cost can also depend on the region, popularity of venue, vendors, the type of food and even the trends the couple is interested in. 

Where to spend the budget?  Well, you will be spending most of it on the food, drinks, and depending on your location, there may be venue fees.  Couples should spend their dollars in places that will give them the most for their funds.

When should deposits be paid?  This can be hard.  Just remember that until a vendor has a signed contract and deposit they will be attempting to fill your wedding date.  We always recommend that you set up a few vendor appointments for the same day or weekend, and then take the time to compare and pick the one that will work for you.  Make sure you understand their contracts and deposit rules before you move forward but don't waste months trying to pick a vendor because you will miss out.

Why do we need a budget?  When you are planning a large scale event having a budget will help you stay on track.  It is  also meant as a guideline for yourself, because you shouldn't be spending money you don't have on your event, since it can cause extra stress for yourself.  With a budget, a planner can figure out the best way distribute the funds for the correct vendors. 

How can we get the maximum out of our budget?  In our line of work, we always recommend working with a planner.  Since we are aware of different vendor deals, cost effective designs, and also save you time, a planner can help you remain within budget. It is cost effective for yourself not be running around meeting with vendors who may not be within your budget or don't work with the style you are going for.  With a planner we can recommend the right match for you. Remember that you don't have to hire a wedding planner for full-service planning; opt for a wedding day service and a consultation to make sure you are on the right track if you are interested in doing-it-yourself.  

ESTOccasions is here to offer that top notch service at a reasonable rate.  We never accept commissions from any vendor or venue, and we only recommend vendors that work with your vision and budget.  As an added bonus we offer many discounted rentals to our clients.  We work to save our couples as much as they spend on us.

Just remember to sit down and really discuss an event budget, as you will save yourself stress and the hassle of meeting with venues and vendors that won't work within your budget.  There really are vendors for every budget range and working with a planner can help you find the best for your money. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Firefly Night Cake Challengers

We are proud to bring Firefly Night together for the Channel 3 Kids Camp, with all proceeds benefiting the camp.  We will be holding a Cake Challenge, and the attending public gets to vote for their favorite.  Plus a few lucky winners get to bring the cakes home, if they wish.  Make sure you come out to support your favorite bakers and purchase your tickets, regular and VIP at

Once Upon A Cake  ( based in Stafford Springs can create any cake from modern, classic, elegant and over the top.  Every cake has a personality of it's own, no two are the same.  It can tell a story, be a milestone, even capture a moment.   Weather it's the centerpiece of the event or a subtle treat at the end, the possibilities are endless.  Amy, has a great passion and love for creating amazing cakes.

A Little Imagination Cakes (  began with Hope Wright-Martell and, you guessed it...a little imagination. A part-time caker for years, Hope eventually found herself dedicating more and more of her time to her confectionary creations. As orders filled the calendar and flour covered more of her wardrobe, it was clear that the kitchen was calling her, so she traded in the 9-5 office grind for her apron full-time. Deftly manipulating fondant to her will ever since, Hope is now one of the premier cake sculptors in the area. All of our handcrafted cakes are made to order in Middletown, Connecticut. Each cake is skillfully decorated with Fondant and Gum Paste, as well as Buttercream and other soft icings.
ToriaDolce (  ToriaDolce goal is to provide you with the cake you have always imagined. All of our products are freshly made to order using only the finest ingredients and our products are never frozen. Special orders are welcomed and encouraged. Victoria is ready to create a masterpiece.
Edible Dreams ( At Edible Dreams, we can make your dreams edible! We specialize in wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and civil union cakes. Our favorite cakes to bake are by far, the most creative! If you think of it, we will make it, and that's the best part of our business. As a customer, you will have the option to choose every flavor under the moon for your cake and filling. We have fun making you any cake for any occasion so, if your needs seem too simple or too difficult for us, call us! We welcome your challenge!

TLC Creations Theme Cakes for Every Occasions   With their tender loving care, TLC Creations can create any type of cake.  They are looking forward to being part of the Firefly Night and showing off their talent.

Chocolate-Rose Bake Shop ( For cakes that taste as good as they look, your only real choice is The Chocolate Rose. We can match any color and any theme. The more difficult, the better we like it. From casual to formal and from flowers and birds to cowboys and corals, you pick the feel that makes your day special. We'll design a cake to match.

Remember all cakes will be at least 2 feet tall, 80% edible and need to fit into the summer night theme!  Make sure you come out to support your favorite baker and have a great night making a difference in the life of kids. Buy your tickets today.  

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bridal Event Comments & Pointers

This will be our 4th year hosting the CT Bridal Event and every year we ask for couple feedback.  I randomly send out emails to our couples who attended, asking them the likes, dislikes and comments about our event. I've figured this was a great way to see what is working and what isn't. 

Comments we received about the vendors displays and vendors themselves:

"A smile goes a long way, that is all I have to say.  If you aren't willing to seem to be happy to be  there, I'm not going to bother."

"I loved seeing photos of the work, or even better a slide show of their work."

"I like an over the top table, helps me see what the vendor could really do."

"A freebie and business card is nice but wow me with your table"

"I liked being able to sample the product, or when it came to the make up artists I was glad I could try on different colors that might work for me."

"Your work should speak for itself, don't tell me how great you are.  That's just weird." 

"I like to sample more than one cake flavor, and I love being able to see all of the flavors I could do"

"Being able really speak with the photographer made a difference for me.  I loved the photos and then I fell in love with the vendor that would be part of my day."
"What do I get for your prices, is this more or less than most vendors"

"The custom one of a kind work was awesome, I liked knowing that you could create something just for me!"

"I found my wedding dress and it was the best feeling in the world. I saved a ton of money and now I'm putting it into flowers"

"Some displays were just confusing and overdone in a bad way.  I don't want to spend 20 minutes figuring out your product."

"Just because I'm the bride doesn't mean you shouldn't introduce yourself to my bridesmaids.  The ones that took a moment to say hello to us all just made me feel better about them."

"Wish more vendors had a place to sign up for a meeting or a newsletter. Sure winning a free prize would be nice but I want to be able to set up appointment too." 

"Bad mouthing other vendors was a huge turn off. Plus I had one vendor come to another vendors table and invite me to theirs. This was just wrong to me."

"Been to big expos and small ones, loved the mix of companies and the choices." 

"I liked checking out the company websites before I came to the event"
"The science project look has to go. I found that if you aren't creative enough in displaying your items, I will find a vendor that can."

"Loving the chance to walk around and then come back around and really connect with the ones that impressed me." 

"I want to buy my tickets online"

"I spent two hours at the event, found accessories for my gown, my invites, and picked two other vendors.  Great great time.  My mom and I had a blast."

"Thank god for the welcome bag, I think we could have used a bigger bag though."
"There were so many nice people to speak with and one of the better shows I've been too."

Couples did ask to be able to see company reviews and I'm thinking it would be cool to check them out at the Wedding Reports table this year.  Just an idea but I will see what Chris thinks about the idea. 

One of the surprising comments I saw was how couples really pay attention to how neatly everything is put together.  They are looking for professionalism in the items they hand out, like misspelling words demonstrates that you don't pay attention to small details.  If you can't pay attention to that, can you handle the small details of a wedding?!?  They don't want to see someone's craft project, they are looking for the professional polished look.

 Here are a few questions we have always recommended you ask your wedding professionals:

~How long have you been in business?
~Do you do this full time?
~If you get sick, who takes care of your services?
~How large of an event can you honestly handle?
~Do you work from home, a shop or a different location?

 As the producer of the CT Bridal Event, it has been important to give couples choices without over loading them and it seems to work.  We had many state that they loved the chance to compare and speak with each vendor.  It is important to take the time at the event to speak with the couples.  If there is a huge rush of couples, invite them to come back and have a one on one meeting with you in 20 minutes.  

This year we will be offering online ticket sales, it will be a special deal for couples who purchase early.  I'm looking into larger welcome bags.  Each year I really make a point to learn and grow with each Bridal event.  The event in my mind is never perfect, and sadly I can't please every single couple, or every single vendor but I do strive to create an amazing event for our CT couples.  This event came together due to two friends sitting around thinking about how we could expand our business, and how we could create something useful for the CT couples around us and the large group of smaller businesses.  Without the smaller business choices, every event would be almost the same. Having choice is so important to my line of work, and I love being able to really showcase off so many different companies.  

We went from being a bridal open house to a large scale stress free Bridal Event.  Save the Date for November 7th at the UConn Alumni Center from 12pm to 4pm.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One of our services: Rentals

           As  a full-service event and design company, we are able to offer a large selection of         rentals.  I realize I need to set up a day and do a full phone shoot of all of our rentals, and create a rental book for everyone.  Certain rentals, we just drop off or have the client pick and go. Items like our candy buffet items, vases, candle holders, card boxes and more. We are always willing to set them up for our clients too but there are times where pick up and go just works better.

Other rentals such as a few of our arches, canopies and large scale rentals, we have to set them up.  Why you may ask, well because we understand how to make them sturdy in any setting,  adjust the height when needed and we have the correct tools for set up are just a few of the reasons.  You will never find my staff or myself setting up an outdoor tent for 150 people, why, because we just don't have the skills to do this. Taylor Rental in Manchester is the place to go for such items.  Plus for all of your china, silverware and linen needs they are the place to go.  Let Sarah know we sent you!
This is a top view of our metal one of a kind circular canopy, can be decorated in many different ways
We understand the time needed to set up certain rentals, this is another reason why some of ours aren't just drop and go!  In the end it is still our company name, our quality of goods that are being used and we take pride in what we do.  As planners we have a total understanding of what needs to go into the event and the time needed to make sure everything is set up correctly.  If you are looking for something special, something a bit different then let us know.  You never know what we may have in stock and it is worth asking.
Over the years we continue to have our rental section grow.  Now we even offer cake stands and custom created cake stands for our clients.  Just like we offer custom card boxes for the couples to keep.  All less than the typical white boxes you find at all the craft stores.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



A night of networking for all special events & wedding professionals.  As a company that works in the corporate part and event part of planning, I've been looking to pull together a networking night.   Just over a month or so ago, I was sitting enjoying a great lunch with Julie from the UConn Alumni Center and Wedwork was born.  At the moment we have over 90 professionals who have RSVP'ed that they will be attending the free event.  There are a few professionals who have asked to pay the fee to display a few items ( a simple $20), and I'm interested in seeing what they will be showing.  There will be a cash bar provided by the University Catering and awesome treats from Hop River Cafe and Taking Care of TummiesParson Photography is our professional photographers for the evening and all of the linens are provided by Taylor Rental in Manchester.   

Needless to say but I'm excited.  Excited to another great event be pulled together.  While I love everything about my work, I do enjoy the corporate events we are able to do.  It is a bit of a different type of event but always fun.  Time to pull together all of my business cards. 

Monday, February 15, 2010


I'm in love with these monograms.  It adds a special touch to any event.  The nice thing is these are just samples, estoPrints can create any type of monogram, with colors and more.  Contact us for you free consultation and remember that you don't have to be an ESTOccasions client to use our estoPrints part.  

Creative Custom Printed Embellishments

I have those moments when I wish I would have learned graphic design.  I see the idea in my mind, I can sort of sketch it or at least explain it but I can't create in in the programs I have. Over the years I've learned one design program to another,created menu cards, escort cards,   website and a great deal of promotional items for my company, the bridal event and others. I've always felt limited in one way or another.  I wanted to be able to offer another creative touch to ESTOccasions, so we welcome Courtney to our family.  estoPrints is our new department and Courtney is a talented graphic designer with a love of creating the perfect invitations.  She is also able to create so much more and having someone on our staff who can take care of these printed needed is just wonderful. 

We will have a price list up shortly, along with more online samples for you to preview.  Now remember you don't have to be an ESTOccasions planning client but we do offer you a special discount. 

Courtney can really create a custom look for you, a monogram (which we can turn into a gobo light for your wedding dance floor), or take an idea and expand on it for you.  We have budget friendly, vintage, modern, natural, and of course traditional selections for you.  Set up your free consultation!  

These were our special Holiday tags.  Very cute and had a bit of sparkle with them.

Needless to say we are just excited here and can't wait to start creating for you. 

estoPrints is open!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winner of 2010 Bride's Choice from Wedding Wire

It is right, ESTOccasions won the 2010 Bride's Choice Award from Weddingwire.  What does this mean??  Well I'm going to let Weddingwire tell you:
"The WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards ™ recognizes the top local wedding professionals from the WeddingWire Network that demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism. Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the organization, the Bride's Choice Awards are determined by recent reviews and extensive surveys from over 500,000 newlyweds. This year's winners represent the top five percent of WeddingWire's vendor community, which consists of over 100,000 local wedding professionals nationwide"

Make sure you check out our reviews on weddingwire.

"something new" (a little bridal humor)

We have been working on "something new" for everyone.  As a full-service event & wedding planning company, we are adding something to our design aspect of our services.  Stay tuned to learn more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CT Bridal Event

My CT Bridal Event email has been filled with requests for the show. It is always a hard call to know when to start to allow vendors reserve their spots. I always want a good mix of vendors for my Connecticut couples and I still like to offer new ones. 

We try to offer an environment where our wedding professionals and couples can actually meet and speak to each other without a hard sales pitch. I always find it funny because I can tell which vendors are comfortable with this type of setting and which ones aren't. It makes a huge difference but I do my best to guide and help the vendors find their way in the world of bridal shows.

It will be interesting to see how this year comes together. I have requests for sponsorship spots, and lots of requests from wedding professionals I never worked with before. I'm looking forward to bringing this together in the fall.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Exciting New News

We will be adding more features to ESTOccasions in the upcoming weeks. Just another way to make sure that our clients are happy, taken care of, and getting the max for their funds. Make sure to stay tuned.

Do it Again

We had a blog but then we went flash with our website and the blog attached to my old site was a mess. The kind of mess where it just wasn't going to be what I wanted it to be. So here I am again, with a real blog, easy to use and able to do what I need it to do. Whew. Thanks everyone.

Job Opening for Black Shoes

Seeking my perfect pair of black shoes for wedding season. Must be able to make any outfit work, give me the right amount of height, without being taller than the groom, be comfortable, and of course CUTE. Toe squeezers, along with blister creators, and clunkers may not apply.

Must be willing to work long hours, not be slippery and allow me to shine. Please realize that wedding session can be very busy and you will be called upon at all times. We may be climbing a ladder, running some water over to the bride and groom, walking through rain soaked fields, hot beach sand and at the end of the night even maybe doing a little dance. You must keep your form and professionalism while remaining yourself. I do not have time to replace you, or wonder why you are squeaking. We offer early retirement and when you are a great employee we long for you. If you cause us pain and misery, we may consider tossing you into the fireplace. Only serious inquiries please.