About Amy Ray

Posts by Amy Ray:

Updated: Getting Married During the COVID-19 Pandemic…

First of all, I am deeply concerned for the well-being of others and in no way want to imply otherwise. I’m also aware that this virus is a big deal and deserves to be treated with respect. It’s spreading rapidly and because there is not yet a vaccine/treatment, there are deaths occurring, which is terrible. But just because the bigger picture is our main concern, it’s also terribly unfortunate that this pandemic is occurring as you’re preparing for the biggest day of your life. You’re well within your rights as a person who has been excited for this day for your entire life to feel like it’s unfair/untimely/unfortunate. Take time to feel sorry for yourself. You heard me. Feel badly that it’s happening at all, but also that it’s happening NOW. It stinks…and it’s okay to say that it stinks and it’s okay to feel badly about it. BUT…after you’ve worked some of those feelings out of your system, try your best to focus on the fact that no matter what happens, you’re marrying the person you chose for a reason. You will get through this together and at the end of the day, you will be married! The truth is, this is a hurdle for you as a couple and it’s hitting on this, the biggest day you have shared together so far. Think of it as a good indicator of how you will handle life’s challenges together. Prepare, keep calm, and focus on each other.

Potential Impacts This Will Have on Your Big Day

Fewer Out-of-Town Guests

This will likely be the biggest impact. With the travel bans, fear of being in close quarters with people, etc., it’s going to cause a great deal of travel stress/delays/cancellations. At this particular date (and it could change at any minute), I would say to expect none of your out-of-country guests to attend, 10-15% of your out-of-state guests to attend, and roughly 20-30% of your in-state-but-out-of-town guests to attend. These are just my predictions based on some research, but obviously each wedding will be different. It’s difficult to know exact numbers, but you will see a decrease in attendance from these guests. No need to panic, but if your date is rapidly approaching and you haven’t heard from them since before March 13th, I would recommend reaching out and asking what they plan to do. The more accurate your guest count is, the more you can avoid unnecessary expenses and stress. **Sample email to guests below**

Fewer Guests Overall (Even The “In-Towners”)

Even those whose only travel consists of a short car ride will have some reservations about coming to your wedding. The reality is that there will be many people who fear being in close quarters with large groups of people. Weddings are notorious for getting large crowds into tight spaces. This is going to cause concern for some guests. An average wedding typically sees about 65-70% of their invited guests in attendance (based on my experience). I sincerely hope I’m very wrong, but I would predict to see guests counts over the next few weeks/months to be closer in the 40% range. I expect many people to cancel, even if they’ve already RSVP’d. I know this is a hard pill to swallow and can potentially cost you money, but it’s a reality I want you to be prepared for. Better to prepare for it than to be disappointed walking into a less-than-full ceremony space. The only thing you should focus on in that moment is the smiling (maybe even crying) face at the end of the aisle. On a small positive note, if you haven’t already paid your final balances, your costs could be significantly lowered by a smaller guest count.

Your Wedding “Products”

There is very real possibility that some products used in your wedding will be made unavailable during this time. This can unfortunately include certain foods and flowers. Again, there is no reason to panic—please remember to stay flexible and patient with your vendors. They are doing everything possible to get you what you want/need for your wedding. Flexibility is going to be key—if a certain flower is unavailable due to the fact that it can’t be transported, ask for your florist’s expertise on what flowers might have a similar look. If your caterer informs you they’re out of an ingredient, take their suggestions on which ingredient to sub in or which food item to change altogether. I assure you, if you’ve hired the right people, they are going to take good care of you. You might lose out on a particular fabric that’s being special-ordered, perhaps the wedding favors you wanted are no longer available…these things will happen. If your wedding is still months away, I would recommend ordering the items you can now because “better safe than sorry” comes to mind. One report on wedding dresses being ordered from international designers is to expect anywhere from a 2-6 weeks longer delivery time because of slower production times. Do what you can to get things ordered when you can. Keep in mind that being flexible is going to be key in the remaining time you have to plan your big day!

Your Honeymoon

Again, travel is a concern right now. Depending on where you are planning to travel for your honeymoon, you might already be experiencing a ban on travel or a significant concern about the place you were planning to travel. Insurance is a must if it’s not too late! If you’re still in the booking process, I highly recommend purchasing the refundable tickets, getting traveler’s insurance, and preparing a plan in your mind about what you would do if you were “stuck” at your destination for a significant period of time. Refundable tickets should be refundable under any circumstance, so that is your best plan of action if you are deciding to move forward with travel. Ask the questions about what is and isn’t covered under the insurance. Be prepared for the consequences if you proceed with your trip. Be mindful of the CDC recommendations and travel bans in place.

If you can’t make the traveling work, consider a staycation for now, complete with extra splurges you wouldn’t normally do for yourselves. Then maybe save up a little more and consider an even bigger honeymoon trip for your 1 year anniversary! 

Potential Vendor Cancellations

I’m hopeful I’m wrong on this one, but there is the possibility of vendors backing out due to safety concerns. Vendors are people too, people with families who they could be concerned about in a very real way. Hopefully none of your vendors will cancel, but if they do, you want to be prepared. In my experience, wedding vendors are the best of the best—they know how important this day is and believe me, if they can be there, they WILL be there. If a vendor, a vendor’s family member, and/or their staff contracts the virus, however, then you would obviously want them to stay away. Go ahead and touch base with your vendors about their plan for virus now. Send an email versus calling them so that they have some time to think it through and not just answer on the spot (they might not answer as thoroughly/accurately without time to process and respond). Hopefully, they have a plan in place. If it’s a photographer, maybe she has her second shooter as your main tog and another photographer as a plan b for the second shooter. If it’s your caterer, maybe she can refund you and provide you with another caterer’s information who is available that day. Whatever the case may be, it’s better to ask now and have in mind what they plan to do than to be surprised a few weeks or days before your big day. **Sample email to vendors below**

What You Can Do to Ease the Pain

I had previously mentioned insurance. At this time, most insurance companies are not taking new policies. If you have event insurance already, please read through the limitations. From my understanding and research, the insurance will NOT cover issues related to the virus. *Read through your policy and if you’re unsure, please contact your insurance company about the specifics about what is covered and what isn’t. I always think it’s a good idea to get event insurance for weddings, but I realize it is more than likely not an option right now.

Food. This is going to be a concern for most. If it’s an option, opt for the plated meals versus a buffet. If that’s not in the budget, doesn’t work for your venue, etc., then try to do a serviced buffet instead of a self-serve buffet. People will feel way more comfortable with a caterer wearing gloves scooping mashed potatoes on their plate than they will with Uncle Bob who just coughed into his palm 10 minutes ago and now has his hands all over the tater spoon. 

Sanitize. Plan to have sanitizing wipes available by seats, tables, buffets, bathrooms, wherever. You can also get small hand sanitizers as your favors for your guests and have them ready for your guests upon arrival. I found some super cute customized sanitizer labels HERE.

Steer into the skid. Send out an announcement or post something on your website about what you’re doing to help with people’s concerns. Mention the plated meal, inform them of the sanitizer favors, discuss your caterers’ plan to be over-the-top with their sanitary procedures (most caterers are hopefully already doing all these things already). Ease their fears prior to the big day. 

Rescheduling. This is the big one. I know it would normally never even cross your mind to reschedule, but the realization is that it might be a good idea. The CDC is highly recommending all events with over 50 guests be cancelled/postponed. Let’s start with the “cons” of rescheduling. Finding the new date that works for you, your venue, and all your vendors is going to be the largest obstacle. Ask your planner to help you reach out to your venue first and then navigate through your other vendors. If you find a date that works for you and your venue, but some of your current vendors aren’t available, the reality is that you may have to cancel those vendors and book new ones. This is rough—for both you and the vendor. You may have to lose a deposit, but hopefully vendors have some flexibility on other payments. My personal policy during this time is to void the contract, keep the deposit (because I’ve held the date, likely turned away other business, and have already worked hours preparing), but I will refund any other monies paid and not hold the client responsible for any remaining payments. Most vendors have something similar in place. If you have a planner, hopefully the vendor rescheduling & search will be as painless as possible. Another “con” is that your guests may have already purchased flights and/or hotels. The reality there is that most are probably considering cancelling those regardless, so I wouldn’t let this alone be a deterrent for you. Now it’s time for the “pros”. You can have the day you’ve dreamed of without all this newly added stress/worry. You can have all the guests there (normal rate of expected guests). You can have the assurance of your vendors. Lastly, you get more time—I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is no such thing as too much time to plan for anything. This is an unbelievably difficult decision and I’m so sorry you’re in this position.

Uninviting. I would never in my life think this would be something I would recommend, but here we are. If you think moving your date is just not going to happen, you might consider changing it to a “family only” wedding. I don’t recommend hand-selecting who to invite and who to uninvite because this could potentially cause way more relationship issues with friends and family than you would ever want to encounter, but if you decide to do “family only” then I don’t think anyone could fault you for that. this obviously isn’t helpful if you have a super large family, but if your combined family members equal around 40 or fewer, this is a very good option for you (I say 40 because I’m keeping vendors in mind as well). **Sample email below**

Other than those actions, all you can do is focus on the most important thing–you are marrying the love of your life. No matter what happens with your guests and/or vendors, you will still be married at the end of the day! Whether you do it now, later this year, or even next year, you’re still getting married. Whether you have 10 or 10,000 guests, the end result is the same. You are taking vows with your spouse in front of loved ones. You will spend the rest of your lives together. You will remember the guests who were able to be there with you. You will look back at your wedding with fondness and love, as it should be.

***Please note that with this ever-changing situation, I will try to update my blog with recommendations as they come.***

Sample Email/Message to Guests:

Dear ________,

     We are so thrilled to have you attend our big day! We are aware of the health concerns happening right now and wanted to let you know that we are doing everything we can to help prevent the spread of illness at our wedding. We plan to implement extra sanitizing precautions at our wedding and are highly encouraging everyone to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, sneeze/cough into your elbows, etc. The safety and well-being of our loved ones is very important to us!

It will mean the world to us if you are there for our big day, but if you have a compromised immune system, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, or if you are not feeling well in anyway, please know that we not only fully support your decision to refrain from coming to our wedding, but we implore you to do so. If you decide you are unable to attend for any reason, please email/call/text us—having our final accurate guest count is so important for all of our vendors to help ensure we get the best day possible. We sincerely hope to see you at our big day! Please let us know if you have any questions/concerns!

With Love and Well Wishes,

     ________________

Sample Email/Message to Vendors:

Dear _________,

     We are so excited to work with you on our big day, but have a growing concern over the COVID-19 virus. We intend to proceed with our wedding as planned, but are very aware that this may impact our big day. Can you please answer these questions at your convenience to help us prepare?

  1. Can you please tell us what procedures you have in place if you and/or your staff contract the COVID-19 virus?
  2. Do you have someone in mind who will be able to fill your position if you contract the virus?
  3. The final date that you need to have our final guest count is set for ________. In light of events, is that still the final date or is there any flexibility on that (we respect the fact that you may not be able to alter that date due to many factors including ordering supplies)?
  4. Do you have any other thoughts/plans in place with this pandemic?

Again, we are very much looking forward to having you be a part of our big day, but would greatly appreciate any information you can share with us about your thoughts/plans regarding this pandemic. Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

 ___________________

Sample Email/Message to Guests if You’re Lowering Your Invitees

Dear ________,

     We are extremely sad to announce that due to the current health crisis, we have decided to limit the number of guests at our wedding. We have decided to have only our families in attendance. This decision was not made lightly…we were so excited for you to celebrate with us! We feel that our obligation to keep our friends and loved ones healthy is taking precedence over our desire for a big wedding. We can’t tell you how much it means to us that you were planning to come celebrate our marriage and we know that you would be there if you could. We are excited to share the photos/video with you after the big day! Please stay safe and healthy!

With Love and Well Wishes,

________________

4 Reasons Why You Need A Wedding Planner

Your wedding day is easily one of the best days of your life. It consists of all of the little (and big) things that represent you as a couple, a day for all of your friends and loved ones to enjoy, and a day that you’ll remember forever. There are so many aspects that you need to focus on in order to bring it all together, which is why this can be such a stressful time for couples. How can you do everything you need to do without the worry and stress?

Hiring a wedding planner can make this joyful time a little easier on your nerves. Here are a few reasons why you should consider hiring a professional planner:  

  1. You’ve never done this before

Chances are you and your fiancé haven’t planned a wedding before. Even if you have, there are always new and exciting trends, venues, and vendors popping up so it’s never the same. Some couples feel that they can plan their own weddings because they’ve helped a sister or best friend plan theirs, but planning your own wedding is completely different. A professional wedding planner is the best person to guide you through this intricate process. If you’ve never cooked before, you’re not likely to just jump in, you’re going to read a recipe and/or get some instructions on where to start. You should do the same with wedding planning…let a planner be your guide.

2. You’re unsure about the costs involved

If you’re in the process of putting a budget together and would like some more guidance on what to expect based on your unique preferences, a wedding planner has you covered. A professional wedding planner can offer you great insights on industry norms and trends and what costs you can expect. She can help you prioritize your needs and help you decide where to spend a little more and where you can cut costs to help you keep the budget on track. 

3. The internet and wedding apps are overwhelming 

If you’re getting married, odds are you’ve been doing some searching, pinning, and favoriting already, but that can be a daunting task! You find something that looks amazing and want it for your big day, but you have no idea what to do after you’ve found the inspiration. Sometimes that amazing thing you’ve found is easily attainable, sometimes it’s a photoshopped work of art that isn’t realistic and/or possible in your area or for your specific wedding. Let a planner help guide you through selecting the inspirations that are realistic for your big day. A planner can also help you put all pieces together so that your vision is not only cohesive, but also the vision you’ve been dreaming of!

4. The stress is getting to you

Planning a wedding is harder than it looks and if you’re already losing sleep over your massive to-do list, hiring a wedding planner can really make the entire process much more manageable and enjoyable for you. How much alcohol do I buy for my guest count? Which vendors do I tip and how much? How many hours do I need to have my photographer? What time do I tell my wedding attendants to arrive? Should the cake or the flowers arrive first and why? AH! These are all questions that can easily stress a couple, but a planner will know the answers for you based on your specific wants/needs for your big day. You should be excited about your big day, not stressed or worried about the small stuff. Let us get the details handled for you so you can relax and enjoy your wedding!

There are many reasons to hire a planner for your wedding day, but the most important one is to help with the overall big picture. Let us put your big day together and alleviate your worry and stress. You deserve to spend the day being pampered, savoring every minute, and enjoying the time with your loved ones! Leave the details to us. [Edit]

Tips for Accompanying a Bride to a Bridal Salon

scaletowidthYour sweet friend or family member is getting married! Yay! What fun! She has asked you to accompany her to her most important shopping trip of her life…her bridal gown selection. Congrats! This means you are very important to her. It also means that she values your opinion, but guess what? With this decision, she REALLY REALLY just needs you to be there, be supportive, and help her feel good about herself. I don’t care if your friend is a size 2 or a size 22, she has some type of insecurities about something. She has some worry about not looking perfect on her special day. She has some fear about something not looking just right. I’ve seen this bridal gown selection process go badly so many times and 99% of the time, it’s because of her posse’s reactions and attitudes. Your job is to be there for her! Your job is not to select the gown, but to be there to add to her happiness when she finds the gown she loves! Please try to remember that above all else!

Here are some tips/advice to help make sure that your friend will get the most of her trying-on experience and to help you keep your friendship in tact.

1. First and foremost, this is HER day. Let her embrace her inner diva and let everything be about HER.

2. Let the consultants do their job. They have been trained to select gowns based on what the bride wants, what will look good on the bride, and they have been given the budget guidelines. You are not a wedding gown expert. Even though you might be able to select her dream dress, give the bride and the consultant the opportunity to do the selecting. Your job is to make the bride feel amazing and beautiful in the gown, once she has it on.

3. When your friend comes out in a gown, your response should always be (no matter how you feel), “How do you feel?” and/or “What do you think?” Once you get her reaction, then you will know how to respond. If (and ONLY if) she hates it or isn’t crazy about it, respond with things like:

“You’re just so beautiful, I don’t know that this gown is showing off your beauty”

“I can tell you don’t love it; you should keep looking.”

“Was this what you were thinking? Is there something you don’t love about it?”

4. No matter what, you are NOT ALLOWED to comment about anything regarding your friend’s body. Absolutely no comments like, “that is making your butt look big,” or “that isn’t sucking in your belly enough”. Trust me, I have heard these comments used in bridal salons and guess what? They are not productive. Your friend has just gone from feeling not so great about how she looks in that gown to feeling WORSE and it will be THAT much more difficult for her to find something she loves…or worse, she’ll select a gown simply because it’s covering a problem area, as opposed to finding a gown because she truly loves it.

5. If you love a dress and your friend doesn’t, don’t be too pushy or persuasive. Again, your job is not to force her into a buying a dress, but to be there to make her feel good about herself. If your friend ends up selecting a dress because of your reaction, she might not love the dress as much as she could.

6. If she tries on a dress and is acting undecided about it, some good things to say/ask might be:

“How is this dress making you feel?”

“Can you envision yourself walking down the aisle in this?”

“Do you feel amazing and beautiful in this dress?”

If her answers are not so great, then that’s a good indicator for her. Again, your job is not to critique her or the gowns; your job is to make her feel good about herself.

7. Once the bride comes out in a dress and she has that glow about her and/or is smiling from ear to ear and is just in love…then, WOO! Now’s the time to swoon and go nuts. Remember to ask first, “how do you feel?” and/or “what do you think?”, but once you know for sure she’s loving it, then go ahead and let her know you love it, too!

8. What if she picks a dress that you don’t love? What if she’s acting more in love with a dress that you didn’t like as well as a different dress? What if you think there could be another dress out there for her that would look better? GUESS WHAT?! It’s not about you or your opinion. If the bride is happy in a gown, then she will look beautiful. There is nothing more beautiful than a bride feeling great about herself and her body walking towards her groom on her wedding day. Trust us, THAT is all that matters.

Some of these tips might be tough, especially when you just want the very best for your friend and/or if you’re pretty opinionated, but try to keep your eyes on the prize. The end goal is that your friend leaves the experience with the gown of her dreams or with an idea in mind of what makes her feel good. If you follow these guidelines, your friend will be happy, feel good about herself, and remember that you were there for HER. 🙂

Maree’ and Steve’s May Wedding!

We can not say enough good things about Maree’ and Steve. They were an amazing couple to work with, and their pure joy and happiness was contagious. We are so unbelievably honored that they chose us to help with their big day! We loved every second of it! The ceremony was coordinated by Liz Waggoner, while the reception was coordinated by us. Please enjoy these beautiful photographs of their special day!

Maree’ and Steve’s Amazing Vendors

Venue: The Treece Family Home & The McGranahan Barn

Hair & Make Up: Natasha Shipley

Bridal Gown: Bridal Boutique

Rings: Mitchener-Farrand

Flowers: Tony Foss

Cake: Mishelle Handy Cakes

Catering: Abbey Rd. Catering

Videography: Leslee Leaming

Photography: Sheradee Hurst Photography

ALL PHOTOS BY SHERADEE HURST PHOTOGRAPHYView More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/lunsford

Internship!

Internship

Additional details:

-This is an unpaid internship

-Interested in college students who can apply this internship toward their degree

-Requires very little weekday work (5-10 hours at most)

-Requires commitment to working on Saturdays

-For additional information or if you’re interested in an interview, please email me at amy@amyrayevents.com   THANK YOU!

Life Is Good

View More: http://sheradeehurstphotography.pass.us/amyrayevents

Photo by the talented Sheradee Hurst Photography

 

Well, folks! It’s official. We’re in business! I was BEYOND thrilled with the amazing turn out at the business launch party last weekend. We had some of the best vendors in Oklahoma City attend, offering their services and generous giveaways. We could not have been happier with our amazing vendors. Thank you Sheradee Hurst Photography, Tindell Weddings, You Need a Cake, Southern Charm Events, OKC Entertainment and Events, Wedding Ideas Magazine, Tammie Sutton, OKC Finest Photobooth, Abbey Rd. Catering, Tony Foss Flowers, Vintage Tabletop Rental, Conventions and More Rentals, Salon Envy, Invitations by Marianne, Brides of Oklahoma Magazine, Moliere Bridal, The Cake Shop by ButterSweet Cakes, and finally, the breathtakingly gorgeous McGranahan Barn for hosting us! The party was so much fun and we were thrilled to help brides meet with fabulous vendors!

I am pleased to announce that our calendar is filling up quickly! I am very excited to be working with these adorable couples to ensure that their wedding dreams become realities. I have to thank all the amazing people who came out to the launch party, all my friends and family for your support and love. 2015 is going to be a fabulous year!!!