Guide to Albany
Wedding Wit Planner

It is so exciting to be planning a wedding these days. The options to create amazing experiences and memories for you and your guests are becoming unlimited and within almost everyones grasps. Barns, lawns of Castles, Performing Arts Centers, Museums, Wineriers and more - and if you are looking within 60 minutes of Albany - they are all here.
Unconventional Spaces truly allows you to express your individuality and personalities. Generally the food and beverage is handled by outside caterers offering unlimited options from barbecues to white glove service. The process is a journey unto itself so It is a time when hiring a knowledgeable wedding planner to walk you through the maize of catering, rental companies, weather constraints and the details to be sure your vision and day go without a hitch should be at the top of your list. But the end result is amazing - Creating a Day full of memories to last a life time.
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Congratulations and Happy Holidays to all of the newly engaged. This time of year is second to Valentines Day for engagements.
With all the snow and ice this season in the Northeast I just could not resist this picture I took last month of a beach wedding. After the excitement of the glitter and the oohs and aahs comes the questions. When, Where, How many, and all of the solicted and unsolicited advice to muddle the brain. How many have already heard - I have a friend, my cousin did, the internet says ? Overwhelming I know. Gather your honey and close out all of the great advice for a moment and talk about what you would both love and what reflects your personalities. Beach - Barn - City -Country -Intimate-Gala-Traditional-Unconventional -
Guest list and Budget may go hand in hand - This may also dictate the venue options. Unfortunately the guest list may be the most controversial for the family. Try to remember this day is about the two of you and who you would love to celebrate it with and who would truly love to be there to celebrate with you.... Years ago I read a fabulous comment in a magazine regarding guest list -- IF you would not have them to your home for dinner, why would you have them to your wedding ? Words for thought.

Again Congratulations and Happy Planning -

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Weddings cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy Oh My !
This is a fabulous way to get your family and friends that love to bake involved or even your favorite bakery. Everyone loves dessert - I often will look at the dessert menu when I go out to dinner first to know if I need to have a smaller entree. Here the couple ordered a small 10" display cake ( which we raised up with the jeweled K ). This is what they used for the ceremonial cutting. Then the bride and her friends provided all of these homemade goodies ( no one had to make more than 2 dozen ). The table was finished with jars of candies and small brown bags for guests to take some of these goodies home to enjoy. Making it an amazing dessert, fabulous favor and creating one more memorable event to this amazing day. Your dessert should never be an after thought. It is the perfect spot to create one more special momment. So your favorite cookies, candies, pies etc can be presented formal to country chic. I also love Coffee stations with cappuccino or latte's even hot cocoa station on the winter. Another very thoughtful station at the very end - have coffee with travel mugs available for your guests.
During the Guilderland Wedding Week November 13- 18th - we will be hosting the Sweet Side of Weddings with wonderful dessert displays, Thursday evening November 15. visit our website for more information on the week long events

I know this is the boring part of wedding planning, However, this is very important to keeping everything on track, coordinated, and no surprises at the last minute.
Every professional event professional has them, uses them, and generally follows them. You want to read them before signing them and giving a deposit on them.
I know you are excited and want to get everything booked so you can go onto the fun part of decorating, dress shopping & honeymoon planning, but this is what lets you be sure that you are clear in what you are planning and paying for.
Often overlooked
- Retainer and retainer due date? - Most professionals do not hold your date with out
- Cancellation policy ? Generally your retainer is non refundable - they are taking themselves off the market from other events for you AND IF YOU CANCEL CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE DATE THAT THE LIKELY HOOD OF REBOOKING IS NOT HAPPENING - YOU MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENTIRE GUARANTEE -
- venues and food - guest count - Often caterers and/or venues work on guest counts - caterers will come up with a price around the guest count you are expecting - should that count drop drastically = their cost may go up
- Invited more than you planned and more responded Yes - It will generally cost you more - I know this seems simplistic but several times this year alone we had couples surprised that when their guest counts went up that the fee went up for the food - sorry it really does cost more to feed 80 than 50
-TIMING - this is a biggy - you can not generally book a venue for 8 hours and a caterer for 6 - or a venue for 5 hours and a dj for 7 -- be sure this is all coordinated and explained. If your ceremony and reception are at the same location - be sure that there is no one setting up during your ceremony for distractions
Final Payment and what form -- most professionals do not accept credit cards, final payment is generally a week to 10 days before the event and often a bank cheque can be required by venues and caterers if any closer
Contracts are there to protect both parties
This is not the fun part of wedding planning,but the very necessary part to ensure stress free final weeks and no surprises. If you have hired an event planner, generally one of the services they provide is to check and double check all of your contracts, do finally contact the week before, confirm all of the timings as they may have shifted during the planning and any other details.
Happy Planning - Laurie, A Gracious Event - questions, help? , ideas - I would love to hear from you -

lindsey and tom - first touch .jpgFirst look - I have no idea where and when this new photo tradition started. There are so few moments to make a grand entrance- I was up at 5:00am with the rest of the world to see Kate step out of her limo and and witness the priceless moment when Prince Harry nudged Prince William to tell him how gorgeous Kate looked. Just imagine the pressure your spouse must be under to have photographers waiting for some amazing reaction with the first look, hard not to feel staged under such scrutiny. Here is a wonderful alternative -
First Touch -
This summer two of our couples at The Appel Inn have experienced "first touch " - Above i Lindsey and Tony - just married this August, had a moment to hold hands and whisper some private words before saying their " I Do's " But No peeking -
They did not see each other until Lindsey made her entrance down the aisle -This photo and moment is priceless -
More new ideas to come from A Gracious Event

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Okay my new Brides Magazine arrived today in the mail. The cover is a beautiful bride , beautiful bouquet and some fabulous hightlights to their articles inside. The Prettiest Dresses for your shape, style & budget 385 Creative New Ideas
The Most Delicious Cake Ever -Gorgeous Hair that lasts all night -
So what makes this so special ?- For once the headlines are not focusing on budget first - How to save money - how to do it yourself - how to spend the least -
It is focusing on how to make your day special - How to make your day reflect you - How to help create an unforgettable experience for you and your guests. I love it. Not that budget is not important but I am so tired of everything starting with budget and forgetting about making it special and making it a momment to cherish. That does not necessarily mean spending a fortune, but it does mean first starting with what your dreams are. What do you love ?- It could be as simple as passing rootbeer floats at the end of the night because they are your favorites or making your childhood favorite cookies for your favors. These details happen to be very affordable - but more important creating something fun and memorable.

Wedding Jeans


wedding jeans.jpgWe have all gone in to a store in search of a great pair of jeans but then come out with nothing - or sometimes a cute top. And, if you're lucky, you go to only 3 stores and try on only 20 pairs of jeans and end up with one! Several components go into finding jeans that make you look and feel great: length, wash, rise, waist size, etc. It can be frustrating and take time, but you want to find the style that compliments you best. When you jean shop, you shop for the perfect fit that works with your lifestyle, so shouldn't you put the same effort into your wedding shopping?

Having a great wedding also has several components: reception hall, DJ, photographer, caterer, etc. You need these things, and these people, to be a great fit for you. They should match your style. Keep in mind your budget - it's important but it shouldn't be first. You want your wedding professionals to first and foremost fit your vision. So choose the best [pair of jeans] you can afford.

And it's ok to shop for days, even months, because you know that once you found the right pair of jeans... or the right venue - you'll feel amazing.

And remember, as a wedding planner I am always here to help you find that perfect fit.
Visit us at

You have hired all your professionals and the Day is arriving. You have plans for hair, make up and some relaxing moments while dressing.

Many of the details you might not have thought about will actually be happening while you, your wedding party and even your parents are trying to get ready - Be sure they all get to enjoy the event while some one else is taking care of these particulars:

1. Making last minute weather decisions - You do not want your guests or family moving chairs in their wedding finery. And do you have a Plan B?

2. Who is directing the caterers when they arrive? Making sure the staff knows where to park.

3. Who is accepting the floral deliveries - directing the table top d├ęcor - arranging all of those fabulous details you have just spent the last 6 months creating and planning?

4. Is someone directing the parking and guiding guests as they begin arriving? Especially the ones that show up 40 minutes early or even those that show up 40 minutes late.

5. Will you have portable bathrooms or is there a bathroom the guests can use inside? Will someone be able to direct them where to go?

6. Are ceremony vendors and the officiate leaving right after the ceremony? - Has someone taken care of paying them?

7. Do you have proper lighting for the evening?

Emergency kit ideas for the outdoors:
Bug spray, sun block, umbrellas, benadryl for quick relieft of bug bites, water bottles, dampened wash clothes to keep cool

These are just some of the things to keep in mind before your wedding day

You - or one of your guests - do not want to be overwhelmed by such responsibilities.

At A Gracious Event we would love to orchestrate your wedding.
We make sure to take care of all the things you wouldn't even think of before, during, and after your Wedding Day.

Call us at 518-608-4644
And visit our website:


When planning the wedding of your dreams it is easy to get whisked away into the excitement of planning and forget about one of the main elements of your wedding day: your guests! After all, your wedding would not happen without them and your post wedding home wouldn't be as nicely furnished! It is vitally important to remember to be gracious when receiving gifts and appreciative after. The ample amount of bridal registries make it easier to register but perhaps harder to keep track of all the gifts and KEEP TRACK you must!

The first step to ensuring no one is missed in your gratitude is to keep record from the start. Starting the old fashioned way with pen and paper and a designated notebook make a list that includes: the date you received the gift, sender, sender's contact information, a description or note about the gift, and finally a date you sent out your thank you note.

Today there are plenty of free wedding planning softwares that organize this for you! Simply try Wedding Wire and download their "My Guest" software to track your guests list, their contact info and gift given. For a more advanced software try My Wedding Workbook ,they offer free downloads and for the more hands on detail oriented bride a subscription for small monthly fee.

In a perfect ideal world you would be able to send your notes as you receive the gifts, this is a great tip for staying on top of the task and avoiding an intimidating list of who to thank! But understanding modern brides with busy schedules this can be hard to accomplish so I suggest trying to complete as many thank you notes before your wedding day, and for the remainder set a daily goal of writing 3-4 or a any number you feel comfortable with and can realistically accomplish. This ensures that showing your gratitude and appreciation won't become an unwanted chore! Gone are the days when it is only the bride who is responsible for sending her thanks, enlist the help of your new spouse to write his or her fair share to the appropriate parities their more familiar with. For all the brides who tend to procrastinate, or get so behind with the events leading up to the wedding note that it is acceptable to send your thanks up to but NO LATER than three months after the wedding.

Everyone involved with your wedding should receive a handwritten thank you note. Be it a call or card sent, a gift or money given, a guest, your attendants, your vendors, and anyone who shows an act of kindness for your wedding should be properly thanked. When writing the notes be sure to make it PERSONAL and take no short cuts. As Emily Post says "a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given". This is why it's important to stay on top of the thank you note process, you want to be able to sit down and properly thank everyone who helped contribute to the most important day of your life, and express your sincere gratitude. Do not forget the most important people, sometimes parents and grandparents get overlooked because the couple has already verbally thanked them many times, however it is still important to send your written note!

When writing remember you are now a couple and even if the gift is relevant only to you, do not forget to send thanks on behalf of your partner as well. Lastly and most importantly there is no need to be formal in your thank you notes, this is a personal thanks sent on behalf of you and your new partner so you are free to be as sincere and candid as you feel expresses your true appreciation to the recipient of the note!

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I arrived in Montego Bay from Negril (Jamaica) Saturday at 1pm. Right from getting in from my transfer I was meeting couples that decided on a destination wedding. The one couple that shared my ride to Negril had chosen a resort in Montego Bay that allowed a diversity of prices for their guests - that seems to be the one theme couples I have been chatting with do look for and that option does exist. Their wedding took place last week - they had a fabulous week with about 50 family members and friends and were now heading to Sandals Negril for some romantic alone time.
I arrived at Beaches Negril around 330pm - and immediately was able to peek at 3 weddings taking place that afternoon. One couple chose that amazing sunset hour - another couple was married earlier in the day and then treated their guests to a reception on the catamaran and a sunset cruise. I did chat with a Mother of the Groom and asked her thoughts - They loved having so much quality time with family and friends instead of just 6 hours. My couple on the shuttle - if they stayed home it would have a been a wedding of 300 - both the expense & the ability to really enjoy their wedding was their great concern - here they were able to spend so much less for such great value including memories with families and friends that will last a life time. This morning I met friends of a couple that have come down from the cold snow - they were thrilled to join and incorporate their vacation time into the plans. They loved that the bride gave them plenty of notice starting with invitations last April.
Is this a good choice for everyone? No - however if it has been your dream to get married on the beach and have a wedding that is an event for everyone that lasts days insteads of hours, or if your family has to travel from all over anyways - it just may be for you. Destination weddings are growing every year - and with that so are the options. Personally as a parent I would much rather contribute to a week with family instead of hours. Look in to destination weddings, it might be even better than you thought!

Laurie Beckmann

I have been helping brides plan, coordinate, host weddings and ceremonies in the Capital District since 1978. Starting first with a love of cooking, I began to plan events and catered them. My background includes managing large events for Piccolo's at the Plachza where I coordinated Governor Carey's wedding to working in France as a chef on a private yacht.

The Capital District has been my home for over 27 years when my husband and I purchased a historic house in Altamont: The Appel Inn. A tavern from the 1700's, we turned it into a Bed and Breakfast. It was our good fortune in 1983, when a wonderful young couple knocked on our door and asked if we would host their wedding at the B&B.

The rest is history and the beginning of an amazing career that has allowed me to participate in hundreds of special occasions. The increased demand for events led to the design and construction of what we call The Gathering Space, a beautiful structure on our property that can accommodate over 150 people. We even added a bridal boutique where we make custom dresses. Over 1400 brides have passed through our elegant historic inn or The Gathering Space over the last 27 years.

I believe in simple elegance and love helping brides and their families create the day of their dreams, and in case anyone is wondering -- that first couple celebrated their 26th anniversary last November.


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