Common Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Wedding

May 17, 2018

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the event industry, it’s that some things are unpredictable. As much as we’d like to say that the planning process is easy, the reality is that you’re bound to run into some inevitable difficulties. We’re here to help you avoid some potential mistakes that can be managed by proper planning.

Here are three common mistakes to avoid when planning your wedding:

Selecting the wrong venue

Choosing a venue is as important to your vision as it is to your budget.  There are several factors to consider when choosing your venue – guest capacity, pricing, etc. Consider if the venue needs a lot of transformation to fit your aesthetic vision, or if you like it the way it is. If it needs transformation, make sure you can budget for that. Find out what is included at the venue, and what you would need to bring in on your own.

Also, make sure that it holds the right capacity for you. Be sure to find out how many guests can be seated with a dance floor and that there is ample room to include a large enough dance floor and additional elements like your entertainment, bars and food tables.

Keeping a flexible budget

Be sure that you’re leaving enough space in your wedding budget for last minute needs and unexpected expenses. While the venue, flowers food/beverage and vendors are all important elements of your wedding day, there may be some items that have not been considered. Event space fees, transportation costs and taxes and service charges are just a few examples.

Also, keep in mind, when looking at your options, you may prefer the more expensive options to the lesser expensive ones in several potential categories of the planning. If you want some flexibility to be able to include some upgrades then allow for that room in your budget.

Thinking everything on Pinterest can be yours

Pinterest is a great tool for event design and décor ideas; however, it can also be misleading to be able recreate what you see within your own budget. Look through your wedding board and consider what design elements you love and what elements you can live without. Is there a common theme in all of your pins? You may have to choose between that beautiful ceremony backdrop or that fabulous escort card display. You will have to decide what your priorities are.

Video Blog: Wedding Design and Branding

May 5, 2018

Shari Zatman, Owner and Principal Event Planner & Designer of Perfectly Planned by Shari, discusses elements of custom wedding design and branding.


Wedding Elements We Love: Designed Eclectic

Wedding Elements We Love: Designed Eclectic

April 27, 2018

We’re highlighting some of our favorite wedding elements, starting with a style that allows you to combine many of your favorite components into one design.

We call it “Designed Eclectic”- An unexpected mixture of furniture, linens and décor that can give your event an impressive style. This allows you to tastefully combine your favorite colors and textures and also gives you comfortable flexibility with what you can incorporate into your special day.

Choose one color palette and then build off of those colors with a few different shades, hues, textures or patterns. You can incorporate these styles into your tablescapes with varied linens or dinnerware. For example, select several different combinations of charger plates, table cloths and flatware patterns that all work well together. Mix varied centerpieces with similar elements such as the color palette, but incorporate a different mixture of flowers and candles at varied heights, shapes and compositions.

With the many styles of furniture available for your event, it’s difficult to choose just one. Alternate two or three different types of dining chairs at your tables to create a carefully selected mix. For a little twist on traditional seating, you may consider incorporating upholstered banquettes and bench seating at your tables in place of chairs.

If you’re anything like us, you’ve looked through Pinterest and have fallen in love with several different event décor ideas. You may want to incorporate several elements that you aren’t yet sure work together. Seek help from a professional Event Designer to make sure your eclectic design ideas are cohesive and well executed. As long as your elements are harmonious, you have the opportunity to include as much or as little variation as you see fit for your special day.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Wedding Planning

The Do’s & Don’ts of Wedding Planning

March 14, 2018

Planning your wedding will be one of the most special (and possibly stressful) times of your life. We’ve laid out a few of our top “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to help smooth out the planning process and hopefully avoid some roadblocks along the way.

The Do’s:

1) Do rely on the professionals
Pinterest is full of great concepts, but bringing those ideas to life can be difficult. Pittsburgh is full of experienced vendors that want to help make your special day exactly what you are envisioning. What if you don’t yet have a vision for your event? They can help you brainstorm and use your Pinterest photos for inspiration.

2) Do incorporate your interests in your event
There are so many ways to integrate your interests and personality into an event. Whether that’s through your color palette, branding, or a special dessert, your event should be a reflection of who you as a couple.

3) Do enjoy the process
Engagements are a special time for not only you and your fiancée, but for your friends and family as well. Be sure to soak in the process and celebrate your small victories (i.e. choosing some stellar centerpieces or picking your perfect cake.)

The Don’ts:

1) Don’t sweat the small stuff
Think big picture – location, vendors, guest list, etc. We’re not saying to forget about the details (especially because we LOVE details,) but try not to focus on them until the larger aspects of your event are covered.

2) Don’t procrastinate
Waiting until the last minute is a big “no-no” when it comes to wedding planning. Not only does it cause unnecessary stress, but it can also take away from your special day.
Are you a natural procrastinator? Give yourself 2 to 3 larger components to take on each month. Before you know it, you’ll have handled all of your major tasks and will be left with only smaller details to manage.

3) Don’t try to handle everything yourself
Avoid looking back on your wedding planning as a never-ending to-do list. It’s essential to delegate some of the planning to your trusted loved ones, a professional, or both!
If you’re a “control freak,” make a list of the aspects that aren’t as important to you and your fiancé, and start to delegate those pieces first. If you don’t hire a Full-Service Wedding Planner, then we believe that every wedding should have a Day-Of Coordinator. This way you have a dedicated professional attending to only you and your wedding all day.

Video Blog Series: Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

March 7, 2018

Hear from Shari Zatman, Owner and Principal Event Planner and Designer of Perfectly Planned by Shari on the benefits of hiring a wedding planner.

Introducing: Perfectly Planned by Shari’s Video Blog Series

January 30, 2018

We are excited to announce a new video blog series featuring Shari Zatman, Owner of Perfectly Planned by Shari. Shari is an award winning Event Planner and designer with more than 20 years of experience in the industry.

The Benefits of Hiring Your Own Wedding Planner Versus Using The Venue’s Coordinator

The Benefits of Hiring Your Own Wedding Planner Versus Using The Venue’s Coordinator

Many engagements have recently taken place and there are couples currently looking in droves to book their wedding venues. During this time, we wanted to offer some important advice about the benefits of hiring your own Wedding Planner versus being swayed into believing that the coordinator provided at the venue will provide the same assistance for you.
While not all venues are the same and they vary from place to place in terms of the experience and service level of their coordinators, we have compiled the following list of what many Venue Coordinators DO NOT do for you. We hope this is helpful as you are navigating through the beginning stages of planning and trying to make the decision about whether hiring your own Wedding Planner is the right fit for you.

What your venue does NOT do for you as your “Wedding Planner”*

  • • Create a decor plan from your vision and provide creative direction
  • • Review Pinterest photos with you and design your ceremony and reception based on your visual interest
  • • Help you create and manage your overall wedding budget
  • • Handle negotiations and contracting with vendors- most venues just provide a list of recommended vendors and let you do the rest
  • • Accompany you to your offsite vendor meetings to convey your vision and provide direction
  • • Provide consistent vendor management through the entire planning
  • • Handle transportation contracting and management
  • • Contract and manage hotel blocks (if not a hotel venue and using their own sleeping rooms)
  • • Stationery materials- save the dates, invitations, ceremony programs, etc.
  • • Be your advocate for all aspects of planning without bias
  • • Review all vendor contracts
  • • Manage your planning timelines, keep you on track and on task with planning deadlines
  • • Manage vendor payments
  • • Plan anything pertaining to your ceremony if it is not at their venue
  • • Create order and structure of wedding ceremony
  • • Direct ceremony rehearsal
  • • Provide one on one attention and attendance during entire wedding set up
  • • Do anything with you that takes place offsite of their property

*This list does not reference any one particular venue or venue coordinator. It is an generalized list based on a variety of event venues.

5 Things You Need to Consider About Planning an Outdoor Wedding

So you are planning to have an outdoor wedding. They sure can be beautiful, but whether it’s just the ceremony outdoors or all events including the reception, here are 5 things you need to take into consideration.

“Make Sure You Have a Rain Plan”
There is always a chance it could rain, especially in our hometown of Pittsburgh. When planning to be outdoors, you must make two solid logistic plans. One that will work if it is not raining and a second “Plan B” option that will be fully planned out ahead of time and acceptable to you if you should decide to enact it. The rain plan may involve options such as tented covering or the ability to move your outside set up to an indoor area. Make sure you have pre-designed floor plans for both options.

Even if your event starts during daylight, be sure to access whether any portion of the event will continue to be going on once it gets dark. Check the sundown time for the date of your event and know what time it will get dark. While they may not be turned on until later in the evening, be sure to have lighting in place for all areas for when it gets dark. Don’t forget lighting areas like pathways to parking and restrooms. Also be sure food and dessert displays are well lit so people can see them.

Outside, there will be bugs, guaranteed. Your guests may not think of this, but you don’t want them swarmed by bugs. We suggest having bug spray available for guests to use as needed. You can also strategically place citronella candles. Don’t forget that bugs will surround the food so if you have any food sitting out, try to keep it protected.

“Level Ground”
When deciding which outside area to use, if you are planning to be on grass, take into consideration how level the ground is. You will need to select a large enough area that is completely level to place items such as dance floors, tables and chairs. You can’t put these on sloped surfaces so if you aren’t sure whether the surface will be acceptable, have your rental company come out and look at it.

Even slight wind can blow table cloths off tables or knock over light items. Always plan for the possibility of wind. For linens, tie sashes around them on high cocktail tables, use clips to secure them or place a heavy enough centerpiece to keep them from blowing off the tables. For other items, be sure to have them weighted down in some way. And consider that it is very likely that if you place paper items like place cards on tables that they may blow over so plan for other options.

5 Top Reasons Why Venues Should Encourage Couples to Hire a Wedding Planner

The International Special Events Society Pittsburgh Chapter held an Industry Forum for the first time at their April Meeting. This provided an opportunity for members and guests to submit questions in advance which became “Hot Topics” posed to the group for industry discussion.

As the Vice President of Programming and Education for the chapter and the organizer of this meeting, I saw one question submitted several times by event planners. “Why do venues tell couples not to hire a Wedding Planner?” This question sparked a lot of conversation.

Representing the venues in attendance, the general feeling from them was either that they, as the venue, felt like they could (or should) provide all of the services to the couple themselves AND it is better to have no Wedding Planner than to be working with a bad and inexperienced planner.

There may be some additional reasons that were not shared during the meeting, but as a Professional and Experienced Wedding and Event Planner, I would like to share my opinion on this.

To all venue coordinators, good planners can work together with you to improve your life! Really, it’s true!

Here are 5 Top Reasons Why Venues should encourage couples to hire a Wedding Planner.

1. If you want to avoid working with the bad and inexperienced planners, then you can control that by referring only planners that you know are good, experienced and have a great track record. If you discourage working with a planner and the couple decides they want to hire one anyway, you may be at more risk by not referring because they will go out on their own and potentially hire someone you have to work with whom is not a professional, you have never heard of, whom is new or inexperienced making your job a lot more difficult.

2. Planners really do want to work together as a team. We are not looking to make your life harder- really. We want to see the best possible outcome for the couple just like you do. We value your knowledge and experience about your property and will rely on you to know information about all things venue related such as proper load in requirements, power, measurements, policies, payment terms, insurance, food and beverage and more. We will properly convey this information to our couples and follow your direction. You are our very important liaison and that is valued and appreciated.

3. You can’t be everywhere all the time. We know you also have to represent your venue every day which means while preparing for a wedding, while the couple is getting dressed, while the set up is happening, you may need to be showing the venue to other interested couples and giving tours or may need to attend to other things. When a planner is onsite for a wedding, the planner is there dedicated to that particular event the entire time which means you can step away and attend to other things.

4. Having a planner will lighten your work load and save you time. Just think about how many phone calls and emails you field from each couple/wedding and how many questions you are asked. Just imagine if that was all being directed to the couple’s wedding planner the amount of time that would save for you. Not to mention the other responsibilities you sometimes pick up like unexpected set up and assembly of items that you now have to take care of that turns out to take a ton of your time.

5. We are working with couples outside and offsite of the venue. We know you provide wonderful advice and direction to couples. We also know that you can’t be with them for meetings and appointments when they are outside of your venue. A Wedding Planner will provide additional services such as accompanying them to vendor appointments to convey their vision, designing the branding of their event and working with a stationer and design team at their locations to style the wedding, ceremony direction at a church or off site location and much, much more.

If you represent a venue, I welcome your feedback and response and truly hope to work with you soon!

8 Habits of an Amazing Event Planner

1. Organized– This sounds obvious, but not all people are “Type A” organized people. Those who are make great event planners. We do what we do because we are master list makers, on top of all of the details and keep everything straight and on-time.

2. Multi-Tasker– We are not just planning one event at a time, we have all of the details going at various stages for many events all at one time. Whew! Just writing that out makes me realize what an amazing feat that is!

3. Creative– This sets apart an average event planner from an amazing event planner. An amazing event planner finds new ways with every event to make it fresh, and visually interesting while maintaining the client’s event vision and presenting it to them in a way they didn’t even know was possible.


4. “Out of the Box” Thinker– Never allow your events to get stale. Always be thinking about how a non-event related products and services can inspire you and be applied to an event. Find inspiration everywhere. For example, read home decor publications for inspiration and bring that to event styling. I make notes when I travel and get inspired and find ways to incorporate new discoveries into my events.


5. Practicality– Make sure your client’s budget matches their expectation. Pinterest can be great for sharing our visions however if what your client shows you doesn’t align with their budget, an amazing event planner can do one of several things- A. Stretch the budget. B. Find acceptable lower budget options the client is happy with. C. Accept that the planner and client may not be the right fit for eachother if A and B aren’t options.

6. Managing a Budget– Maybe you can come up with the most fabulous event concept in the world, but if your client can’t afford it then it doesn’t even matter. The most amazing event planners can meet all of the needs of the client, produce a desired result and come in within an acceptable budget. That takes true skill and experience.


7. Experience– Let’s face it, there truly is something to be said for hiring a professional event planner who makes this their full time career and comes with years of experience. There are many differences between “Miss I just planned my sister’s wedding and now I’m a Wedding Planner” and a professional amazing event planner. They include: Being able to think on your feet under pressure, making the right quick decisions, referring vendors that are also truly amazing, knowing how to answer your clients questions, keeping calm in all situations and more.


8. Creating an Experience– This is very different from the fore mentioned “being experienced”. Creating an experience sets truly amazing event planners apart from the rest. THE experience is what guests will remember and take away from the event. Always ask your client how they want their guests to feel, what they want them to remember, what is most important to them about the event. The feeling and the memories are what remains long after the event ends.