Wedding Math

It’s that time of year again for us – investing lots of time and resources into booking brides for 2016 – 2017.  It’s always an exciting (and a little nerve-wrecking) time, because we always get to meet a lot of really lovely people while at the same time we are making the same case, over and over, on why a planner is important.

First of all, most couples are contacting us because they are already overwhelmed with the planning process.  They know they need assistance – which is great, and a first step to making the whole experience easier for themselves.  Some are coming because they’re halfway through and are just coming to recognize that it’s another part-time job just to manage their big day.  Or they’ve been married before and definitely do NOT want to re-live the stress of planning again.  Or they are not sure where to start, and the barrage of options on, weddingwire, Pinterest, and the like are too much to wade through. Or perhaps they’ve just figured out that there is no way they can manage their wedding day without putting themselves or a parent or loved one in the stressful role of coordinator and don’t want to do that to themselves or family.

Regardless of why people contact us, we are always excited to help them wherever they are at in their planning, but inevitably they always ask us how much.

Of course, there are planners of all stripes out there – and some really do ask for a small amount of money for their hours and hours of work (or they don’t give you hours and hours of work and do a poor job, but that’s a case of getting what you paid for).

Being a successful, efficient, and proper wedding planner is a learned trade.  It’s why less experienced planners charge a bit of money, and ones who have national recognition charge a lot more.  We all went through our learning curves, our apprenticeships, and handled our hard ball clients.  We know how to navigate almost any pitfall before it happens, give sage advice that comes from years of unbiased experience, and have the connections that have taken 5, 10 or 20 years to cultivate.  We ‘get married’ every weekend alongside our couples, constantly honing our skills to be even more successful, efficient and proper.

That experience and professionalism costs money.  I recently asked my husband why people seem to have no question paying a plumber $90/hour for his experience and knowledge in his learned trade of cleaning out pipes, but abhor paying an event planner $75/hour for her experience and learned trade on managing a multiple-hour, many peopled event.  Considering a plumber has the opportunity to fix any mistakes while a planner gets one shot at making a perfect wedding day, a planner should be able to charge over $100/hour for that type of service and expectation.  But I have a feeling that kind of charge would put us out of business in short order.

I understand, of course, that not everyone has the same type of budget.  And that’s what is so wonderful about having different prices, packages and planners out there – there really is something for almost anyone.  And of course, not everyone needs a planner or wants one.  My case is for those who do want a planner.

But my issue is with those who expect to have champagne service on a beer budget.  They want a lot of help, in fact, full-service planning where we’d be working with them daily, weekly, monthly, for a year or more, but expect to pay only a few hundred dollars.  That works out to paying $1-$5/hour, which is a ridiculous expectation.

So, with numbers in my head today, I wanted to break down a few things, just to put in perspective how much some people pay for things, and why paying $45/hour or $75/hour or $90/hour for a planner (or paying a package price for a full year or more of work) is not exorbitant.

These are just price point examples all jumbled together, weddings and beyond.

DJ: $1500 for 1-2 hours of prep, up to 3 hours load in and out and 6ish hours of playing time ($136/hour)

Band: $10,000 for 2 hours of load in, 2 hours load out and ~6ish hours of playing time ($1000/hour – 8 piece band means each band member is making roughly $125/hour)

Event Venue (not including catering or bar, just use of their floor, ceiling, and air): $4000 for 6 hour event, plus up to 5 hours of prep and clean-up time ($364/hour)

Officiant: $500 for 1-3 hours of prep, 30 minute ceremony: ($143/hour)

Wedding ceremony music: $700 for 1-2 hours of prep, assuming no new songs and 1.5 hours of playing, assume a trio: ($67/hour per person in trio)

Plumber: $90/hour

Electrician: $80/hour

Heating guys: $100/hour

Lawyer: $250 – $500/hour

Consultant, depending on the industry: $100 – $500/hour

Of course, a photographer and videographer invest a ton of hours on your day – the difference is that they provide a long-lasting product at the end of it, which is why I have not included them here.  These listed are all people providing an “intangible” service – they “do” something that results in an experience, or a final fix, or a smooth transition, or they handle or take care of things that you yourself cannot do.

We love our couples, and we treat them to dinners in our home, drinks on the town, and lots of coziness.  That’s our approach, and it works for some people and not others.  But regardless of the extra trimmings that we do, or any other planner does, we still are a specialized trade, and we’ll give you the stars…but probably not for free.  :)

Anyway, that’s my case for the month.  I would welcome any thoughts or input or opinion.

Photography courtesy of Craig John, J.Be, Front Room, Spottswood and Craig John again.

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Holiday at Home

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Going out to parties, hosting parties, and having a really good couple of meals.  We feel half the fun of throwing a dinner party is, of course, the designing of it!  Which is why we’ve invested in a few key pieces that make any meal look festive for pretty much any holiday (but they are best used during the December ones!) and pull them out with a few other decorations to make the tablescape really glow and glimmer.  I’m looking forward to using some of these yet again for the New Year (we’re having friends over and doing carry-out fancy sushi…because we all have kids and are currently boring…but we can still make it look awesome).

Here’s a few key pieces that will make your kitchen or dining table shine throughout the rest of the week:

1. Gold chargers or gold plates.  I found mine on One King’s Lane and they’re these lovely glass pieces made in Turkey and lined with gold leaf.  But Target usually has them online, as do other sources like Party City, where they are made from a good hearty plastic and are painted silver or gold with varying designs.  I’ve got silver ones that I use when I don’t feel like hand-washing the gold ones. In my opinion, the plastic ones are worth investing in a few colors for a handful of dollars, especially if you like to entertain!  They can always double as serving platters.

2. Interesting shaped goblets for water or wine.  The stemmless ones are pretty overused, so I’ve been looking for vintage glassware (happened to be lucky enough to lately inherit my husband’s grandmother’s), more uniquely shaped pieces such as these goblets from Pottery Barn, or glassware with a metallic rim, or even colored glassware (get something smokey colored to go with a lot of holidays or a color that matches your home decor for starters).

3. Cloth napkins.  These are awesome.  Nothing dresses up a table more than cloth – it’s vintage, yet modern, and can completely transform the personality of your table from somber and formal to whimsical to festive.  I have some hand-made ones (courtesy of me and my mom), some vintage ones (thanks, Grandma!) and then, of course, there’s always Pier1.  They’re not horrifically expensive most of the time, so you can always have a solid 8 of each kind of holiday on hand if you have the preference and the space.  Worst case, super cute paper napkins are available everywhere, so have fun at your local boutique that stocks ‘em seasonally!

4. Splurges.  My dad loves loves loves his holiday Wedgewood plates, platters and the like.  To the point where we’ve bought him like cake stands with his preferred pattern.  I myself got the Joy plates shown below at Crate & Barrel this year.  (have fun, they’re currently half the price of when I bought ‘em!)  But I don’t buy for every holiday.  Sometimes it’s just some chocolate gold and green streamers for St Patty’s Day, or chocolate eggs for Easter.  By the time I’m in my 60′s, I’ll likely have specialty items for every known holiday, but for now, it’s fun to slowly accumulate things I fall in love with.  And the search is half the fun!

Have a lovely, sparkly party!

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Happy Holidays

Happy holidays from all of us at Golden Chic to all of you!

See you in 2016!

Photo by Front Room


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Getting Shredded before you’re Wedded

We have posted about fitness and health options before because, well, I’m all about exercising, eating right and being healthy as a lifestyle.

But I understand that not everyone is super into fitness, or doesn’t have time, inclination, ability, or interest in doing it as a lifestyle.

So I wanted to show you a list I’ve curated once again, that I’ve used and can offer on experience because I hate to tout something I haven’t tried.  And the rule of thumb for any of the advice below is to actually follow it – at least for the time it is supposed to be followed.  I’m no exercise guru or nutritionist or fitness expert, but I do know that results come from your personal accountability to the program and being regimented enough to follow it.  It’s creating a habit that might actually last longer than the weeks before your wedding – if anything, use one of these to battle the Newlywed Five – those dreaded couple of pounds that seem to pop on after the wedding thanks to wedded bliss, and maybe a lot of honeymoon cocktails.

1. 21 Day Fix or 21 Day Fix Extreme.

I did this to jump start my body after Baby #3 / Pregnancy #6.  What was so great was that the exercises were not extremely strenuous and everything was between 30 – 35 minutes long.  You do have to exercises every day for 21 days in a row, but it goes quickly, and is very easy to follow.  It will ask you to have the following things in your home (because, thankfully, this can be done in your house in front of the TV as long as you have at least 5 feet of space): 5lb, 10lb and maybe 15lb dumbbells, a yoga mat and a water bottle.  Easy and they show someone doing modifications for every single exercise.  I’ll admit my first day, I turned it on pretty skeptical on the difficulty level because I was used to doing some sort of crazy Insanity work out while pregnant, but I broke a sweat and was seriously sore for a few days afterwards.

The additional part of this is the portionology that the program introduces – you receive color coded containers explaining what goes in each and how many you should eat of each every day to get results – the goal is to teach you what is really and truly a serving of protein or vegetables.  I’m a good one for the kitchen, and this took a little bit of training myself how to put together meals, but they give a lot of examples and by the second week, I was totally able to put together hugely hearty meals that satisfied the requirements of the program and my husband ate without questioning.

This is a good one for a fast fix, and for quick results, and if you stick to the food as well, you should see results in time for the big day.


2. Insanity Max :30

I don’t mean to tout Beachbody products, but I’ve been using them since 2009, so I’m likely a little biased.  I know I’ve discussed Insanity before, but this is a newer one – Max :30.  You guessed it – every exercise tape is 30 minutes long exactly.  This program is designed to make you fail at some point – if you don’t stop exercising you are either the guy running the program or not doing it hard enough/right enough.  It’s awesome tough and melts fat, especially belly fat, pretty fast as long as you eat along the lines of the 21 day fix – a lot of protein and vegetables.

This is a hard program, but you won’t need anything other than yourself and a water bottle – everything is done using your own body weight.  You do get into pretty nice shape in 60 days, and you also get some days off on the weekend.  I use this program as a nice way to whip off any surprise body fat or fluff from a long weekend eating kinda stupid and if I don’t have any program I’m following.


3. Precision Nutrition (PN)

Since July, I’ve been trying Precision Nutrition, a program based in Canada.  It is a year-long program and is likely one of the more pricey options out there, but it’s very involved every day with a very hands-on coaching program and focuses on weight / strength training as well as habits that you are supposed to learn for life to sustain a healthy lifestyle far beyond the year of the program.  I’m only halfway through this, but it’s certainly really helped with muscle tone, definition, and I look more shredded than I ever have, so that is something.  The hardest part is having very little guideline on what to eat early on, but as it’s a long program, they don’t slam you with the exercises and the food all at once, it’s very slow and steady.  Perfect for those who get overwhelmed quickly.

The downside to this is that if you want to get in shape (or look in shape) quickly, then this is not for you, but it’s a wonderful program to do in tandem with your sweetheart the year before your wedding, or afterwards to stay in shape together.  The exercises say they take 60 minutes, and I suppose if you milked it, it could, but I am generally able to bang them out in 20 – 25 min.  You get weekends off, as well, which is nice – with kids, I like to have the option to sleep in of a Saturday.


4. Diet That is Not a Diet.

I know that this is not the popular thing to say ever, but seriously, vegetables and protein are going to be the first thing you need to be eating every day – sometimes if you just cut out almost all carbs except like a bit of a sweet potato or some beans and even cut back your fruit intake (and no soda, no juice, no lattes – just black coffee or water or a protein shake) you’ll see results.  And it’s not a diet.  It’s eating super clean, and super healthy because you’re taking out most of the sugary carbs.  You’d likely see results in a week if you just eat pretty darn clean.  I miss the booze most when I focus on eating like this, but I totally love my results in a matter of days.  It’s like the belly fat just starts to disappear.

Anyway, it’s totally possible to get shredded (or in better shape than you are now – whatever shape that is!) before that wedding day, but it does require some time, focus, and regiment.  Still, those photos are going to last forever, right?  It’s worth it to feel your best (because if you feel your best, you’ll likely look your best!)…and who knows?  You might enjoy it all so much, the exercise and eating becomes your lifestyle and you’ll be able to feel awesome about yourself every day beyond the wedding.

Photo of me…courtesy of Front Room Photography

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Fashionable Comfortable Bride-able

I was recently lucky enough to get the Reebok catalog in the mail (never had received one before – I must have bought something that put me on their list).  It showed up with the back cover facing up, so it was the first thing I saw, and I think I about drooled.

Their copper sneakers?  I covet them.  Please, Santa baby, put them under the tree for me!

But then I got thinking that their lovely silver, gold, copper or even plain white would be just enough dressy for under a bridal gown.  Not necessarily for those glamour shots or walking down the aisle (though you could totally do that too) but with so many metallics popping up in wedding design, they’d definitely fit right in, plus let you brides enjoy the day in comfort AND style.

Though, word to the wise, if you plan to spend most of the day or evening in these, take them to your fitting and make sure your hem will clear the floor when you’re wearing them.  If you go from 4in heels to these, you’ll be tripping over your dress the rest of the night…or holding onto it, instead of your honey.

(PS – Reebok totally has no idea I’m posting about them, so this is no ad for them…but it would be cool if they sent me a smiley face for the shout out! hahaha)

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Something Eerie for Halloween

I adore Halloween.  Like I am obsessed.  I think it’s the candy.  Or maybe the Fall weather.  Definitely the orange (my favorite color).  Or the excuse to dress up.  Or the marketing.  Those marketers.  They have me buying more Halloween stuff every year.  Thankfully now I can excuse my purchases because I want to “create an experience for the kids” and my husband is kind enough to pretend he believes me.

Anyway, I decided to post about something completely unconventional this Halloween season.  No wedding pumpkins, no receptions under fall foliage.  Nope.  Something a little more strange and eerie.  Something just plain weird.  Something fun AND educational.

I met a conchologist on vacation.  Yes, someone who knows all about molluscs.  And it was like sitting in the middle of National Geographic.  I learned so much I just have to share because it’s downright interesting and also kinda sounds like zombie wars in real life, under the sea.

So, enjoy a little Halloween grossness on me.  :)   You’re welcome.

This gorgeous shell, called a Trumpet Triton,  is actually small.  Yes, they grow much much bigger.  They live on the seafloor and hunt in packs of 50.  The snails inside grow to be 45lbs or more (that is like two of my 3 yr old daughter) and they move along and EAT lobsters.  Like they move over the top of the lobster and suffocate them, and then completely absorb them, shells and all.  Yikes.  I didn’t know huge snails hunted in packs before.  I would not want to be a lobster in Indonesia.

This gorgeous shell has done absolutely nothing, visual-wise, in 500 million years.  The oldest known fossil is of THIS shell – they are the longest living animal we have ever found as a fossil.  Insane, right?!  They are called Harp snails, and their oldest enemy is a crab – these days, the Boxer crab.  Well, after millions of years, these guys got smart.  They sense a crab is coming along, right?  So they have evolved to have this little piece of themselves they can kinda do a “woops, did I drop that?” and leave it behind.  The crab, who is just thinking “FOOD!” goes right to this little piece of purposefully dropped meat and starts to eat it.  Now, does Mr. Harp go off and hide?  Oh no.  He circles on back, comes up behind the crab, grabs hold and climbs on the crab’s back, sticks a straw-like appendage into the crab’s shell and SUCKS THE CRAB’S GUTS OUT!!  Disgusting, right?!  But kinda wickedly cool…

I saved this guy for last.  The famous Leopard snail.  This guy is not big.  He’s about the size of your palm.  But he is the craziest, meanest hunter out in the ocean.  When he sees prey (which is anything from a crab, lobster or another huge snail, like that Trumpet Triton above), he shoots out this harpoon-like appendage with a piece of shell-like sharp end and pops it onto the victim.  Then he injects poison to paralyze it.  Then he drags it down under the sand to suffocate the prey…then he eats it by absorbing it.  During the day, this bugger sleeps 3 feet under the sand, under a rock, under 600 ft of ocean water.  Thank heaven they’re not easily found to be handled alive, because these suckers have been known to kill 15 people already with their poison.  Yup, they’re that deadly.

So, there’s your daily lesson in conchology.

Now, back to figuring out how to use shells for wedding decor…

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Bill & Steph {Aug 29 2015}

Bill and Stephanie were married on what was likely the foggiest day of August, but that certainly did not dampen their spirits, nor their vivacious wedding party, super fun guests, and made for some beautiful photography around Milwaukee.  They were a lovely, gracious, poised and wonderful couple who were so happy to be getting married that it was obvious every step of the entire weekend.  It was our pleasure to help design their day and make it a reality!  From the bright colors against a navy and gold wedding, to the great travel touches in the cake and amazing groom’s cake, the guestbook and their Chinatown style late-night Chinese food buffet, complete with lanterns from San Fran, this couple did it right every step of the way.  I was especially happy the bride let me try a new head table arrangement.  We had 3 “sweetheart” tables on the riser – one for the couple, one for the best man and brother, the other for the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, and the rest of the part was on a long table below.  It looked super awesome, allowed for movement for the wedding party, and gave the couple just a tad bit of privacy.  They rocked!  Mazel tov!

Photography: R&R Photographic Imaging

Room Artist/Plein Air Artist: Julie Jilek

Cake: Eat Cake

Videography: David Schulta Videography

DJ & Lighting: Double Platinum

Venue: Milwaukee Athletic Club

Ceremony Trio: Lakeside Strings

Chinese Food: Emperor of China

Linen: BBJ

Floral: Esther Fleming


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Vintage Train Birthday

Well, for all of you who adore Pinterest, watch out!  I’m coming in full force with a very cool vintage train birthday party theme for the firstborn, who happens to have been born on 9/11.  We’ll be doing something casual – a little “hey classmates, show up at this park for two hours, run around and eat cake!” as we’ll be taking him on the Hiawatha for his birthday present, and a trip to Chicago to run around the parks and eat…his usual Greek yogurt.

But, stay tuned!  I’m dreaming up some very fun invitations and might even wax a little poetic on them!  Hurray for trains!

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Our new favorite videographer

Milwaukee doesn’t have a lot of wedding videographers.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because it’s a time-intensive job that requires hours sitting with earphones on, watching, clipping, capturing, editing, coordinating, and referencing, and that’s all AFTER the hours spent actually filming the wedding day.

Maybe because there truly is a bit of an intense passion, beyond an artistic eye, that comes with doing a fabulous wedding video.  There’s the question of being a tad traditional for the parents and using newer technologies for the couple; who can mesh both qualities together?

I (Sara) have known David since 1991.  We’ve gone to homecoming dances, worked on 7th grad math problems, and shared drinks on Milwaukee rooftops with our significant others.  He’s hung with my kids and hubby, and I am counting the weeks before we all can barge in on his brand new baby.  I know that from the beginning, David has loved video.  He made the best Huckleberry Finn video for sophomore English class, and has made countless home movies of excellent quality while we were growing up.  And now, he’s become this fantastic videographer for weddings in Milwaukee.  His passion shows.  His eye for art shows.  And I know he cares about every video he makes, and that, right there, makes all the difference.

He’s done the videos for many of my couples, and I believe they are all thrilled with the final product.  Check him out here: and maybe he can capture your day in motion too!

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Hello Kitty Success!

Well, more than anything, we were lucky with the weather – the 3 yr old’s birthday party was able to be held entirely outdoors and with over fifty people in attendance, it was successful and a blast!

We grabbed most of the food from the local Costco, and the ingredients for mimosas for the adults, a candy stuffed Hello Kitty pinata, and had the huge bounce house delivered and set-up in the bright sunlight of a Sunday morning.

Gorgeous linens, a beautiful cake that was doubly delicious, and a lot of fake tattoos, bubbles and chalk meant a lot of happy kids and a very thrilled little girl.  Happy Golden, my daughter!


Cake:  Cakes by Erin Salerno

Flowers:  La Tulipe

Linens:  Elegant Touch


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