Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why the exclusiviity?

Happy Thursday everyone! One more day until Friday! I know I am so ready for this weekend! We have a gorgeous bride getting married here on Sunday and it looks like it is going to be beautiful weather!
Today, we are going to be talking about exclusivity. As an industry professional, sometimes a venue that has an "exclusive" list is super frustrating. An exclusive list means that the bride MUST choose from that list of caterers or planners. You can imagine how disheartening it can be to not be on "the list." As a planner it is frustrating at times because sometimes the vendor you want to use is not on the list, or the price points they have on their list are hard to reach with your client's budget.

When we started The Bradford, we said to heck with exclusivity. We will make a "preferred" list, but not exclusive - it's not our style, it seems overkill, the list went on and on as we chatted in the car (as all important decisions get made in the car).

We have been open for a year. A year! We have had numerous caterers here, some great, some terrible. The one thing we miscalculated in our objections in exclusivity is how little some people care about your space. We always give them a catering agreement they have to sign in order to cater here. We go over it, the expectations, and make sure there are no questions. Somehow, this does not matter. In one year  we have had:

1. A caterer just peace out with out cleaning anything. They literally just left.

2. A catering staff who decided it was time to not listen to their manager and stage a coup and literally sit on their tails and do nothing. NOTHING.

3. A caterer who was 2 hours late and literally was not ready when guests arrived to the reception.

4. To refinish the kitchen floors twice. 2 times people.

5. Bartenders who literally smoke the entire time - as they are serving guests!

6. Caterers who allow clients provide their own apps, but then refuse to clean up anything in the cocktail hour that the apps touched or trash it created.

7. Caterers who do not do the items listed in the agreement and then get belligerent that they did not sign that agreement - as it is sitting right there with their signature.

8. Caterers who have run out of food.

9. And caterers who staff with unprofessional servers - they act unprofessional, look messy, and are rude to guests.

On the flip side, we have had caterers who are every thing these people are not. They are professional, happy, courteous, smile, and do a great job - these are the people we want!

Catering is not just about food. The food is important don't get me wrong. However, service is just as important. If you are being served amazing food, but they are rude, or your table looks like a big trash pile, then what you remember is that the staff wasn't nice or you had to clear your own table, and the food suddenly doesn't taste that good.

For us at The Bradford, we can't just watch a wedding fall a part. All those instances above, it was us who had to go in and fix whatever situation was going on. (Total side note that all these weddings had VERY unexperienced wedding planners/coordinators or they were day of coordinators who walked into the disaster unknowingly). This is not the experience we want our brides to have! In almost every case, the client or their family had to deal with the caterer on some capacity on the day. It created stressful situations that were unnecessary.

So what does this mean? We have decided to go exclusive. It is a decision that was hard, and long debated. There will be caterers on all price points, and with all different styles. This change only affects those that are sign a contract on October 1 or later. There will also be a kitchen buyout option for those that have specific dietary requirements or needs.

We are truly so excited for this change! I know our brides will rest easy knowing the caterer they choose here is experienced, professional, and has great food!

Thanks for all the support and we are so grateful that we get to serve you even better in the future.

~ Dana, Courtney, and Caroline

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Bradford!

We are celebrating our Official Birthday this Sunday - with a wedding at The Bradford of course!




1 year ago!
(Liveview Studios)

We have had the most memorable year making memories with all of our Bride's and their families! Here is to  many more!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Monster In My Closet....oh thats me!


It's about that time of year where I begin to hear myself saying ..."I have absolutely NOTHING to wear!" as a stand in my completely full closet of clothes! I find myself wearing the same things over and over again, and leave my other half of the closet untouched! Its time to freshen up the closet! So I cleaned out what I don't wear, packed it in bags and sold it to various second hand and consignments stores until I had gotten rid of everything I could before donating it to goodwill! I used the money to buy some staple pieces (that I will hopefully add into my weekly rotation!) That can be worn every which way, to make my now slightly smaller closet seem a little more versatile! I thought I'd share some useful tips about the essentials to a girls closet, as I often find I have to attend several different events a day, all of a different clothing expectation! Whether its school, work, a venue showing, or a wedding, these outfits are great shift pieces for your day!

While I didn't purchase these pieces specifically, here are some great options for your closet!
All these pieces are from a great online store called Modcloth! One of my favorites, and while often pricy their sale items are great! Some other great stores are H&M, Franchescas, Pinterest(while not an actual clothing store, most post have links to wear you can purchase pieces!) Depending on your style!


A plain white shirt is great for all occasions! You can pair it with this floral skirt below, a pair of slacks, or even some cute shorts! It can be dressed up or down, making it a great staple for any job!
A nice printed skirt is great for work, and then going out later! Wear a button down shirt for work and change into a black crop top to go out for drinks with the girls later! It ads a little bit of flirty fun to your outfit, without screaming for attention!
That little black dress you keep hearing about...its as true today as it was yesterday! Its great for work, a lunch, and that meet and greet event you go to every week! You can dress it up or down, and depending on the material even just wear it for comfort! Its great for days where you don't want to spend tons and tons of time to get ready because well... it once piece... and little black dress! 
Having a neutral bag is a must! it keeps you from switching from bag to bag everyday and losing things each time you switch! This bag is a great size too! Not to small and not too big! It can hold all the essentials, including a notebook and a planner, and maybe even your laptop/tablet! That way you don't ave to worry about forgetting things because they are all in one place! 
Lastly, don't forget the shoes! I mostly wear neutrals, but honestly don't be afraid to add some color or even print! Your shoes can really tie an outfit together and make you feel fresh! Flats are great, but a little heal can add some height and some confidence too! 


By just adding a few new pieces you can really change up your outfits, and get you excited  for the fall as you head into work or school, and for us here at The Bradford/C&D Events, another round of Wedding Season!
Hope you enjoy your shopping! 

Caroline 




Friday, August 14, 2015

Kyle and Katelyn: Airlie Gardens and Bellamy Mansion

This post is literally a year over due! I was going through my blog drafts and realized we never finished blogging about this gorgeous event! You may have seen it featured on Every Last Details Blog a few months ago. This wedding is by far one of my favorite designs! I loved the colors, and the touches of vintage elements.

I met Katelyn through a previous bride and from the moment we sat down and chatted- I knew we would click. Every meeting we had was so enjoyable. It was so much fun designing this wedding with Katelyn. I loved her approach, and her attitude and felt like she really trusted our vision!

The weekend came and we seriously could not of asked for more gorgeous weather. It was perfect. Not too hot, and not too breezy as the beach can be some times. The flowers were stunning! We toted hundreds of peonies down and they did not disappoint. The vendors were amazing to work with. They were so helpful, kind, and we all just had a great time that night! I love Raleigh, but there is something special about Wilmington vendors.

Katelyn and Kyle - Thank you so much for including us in your big day. We loved every minute of it.

Enjoy the pictures from the ever talented KMI photos!!








































Thanks to all of our awesome vendors!
Ceremony Venue: Airlie Gardens
Reception Venue: Bellamy Mansion
Rentals: L and L Rentals
Photographer: KMI Photography
Cakes: Made by the bride's aunt


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Inside Out

Hello Blog world! I am finally updated after unplugging for a week at the beach! It was a great time to get away and just relax. The best part: there was no internet! Which meant I couldn't really work. It was glorious! We got back and launched straight into The Darling Wedding Workshop which I will be posting more about soon! It was exhausting and so hot, but totally worth it!

I used to have a personal blog, but between the kiddos, life, work, and maybe just sheer laziness, I stopped blogging. Which means that every now and again the business blog gets personal. Today is another one - so you have been warned!

Sam and I celebrated our 9th anniversary on the first of July. Wahoo! Here we are so young and so oblivious:

Anyways - we decided to keep it low key this year. We are planning a big trip next year, so we thought a family celebration would be fun. Tuesday is $5 movies in Cary, so we decided to get some Chick-Fil-A and go take the kiddos to see Inside Out.

A little side note here- I screen most things the kiddos watch mostly because Ada is really sensitive to what she sees. When she was a baby - about 12 months old, we were watching Super Why and there was a show about Baby Joy (I think??) crying and as Ada watched, she too had tears rolling down her cheek. As he learned how to cheer up his sister, she smiled, clapped, and breathed a big sigh of relief. She is an emotional kid and empathetic to the core. I read some reviews on it and it seemed fine. 

Ada was so excited to go to the movies. It is normally a treat and it was "super dark" so she felt like a big kid. The movie is super cute and it has a great message. But it was emotional. It had some pretty sad moments in it and at times Ada was about to lose it. Sam noticed it first and grabbed her hand, and then I held her hand. She made it through the movie, but just lost it in the car. I mean big sobbing tears. She was pretty tired, but her heart just could not handle all the emotions of the movie.

We tucked her in and talked a little about it, but told her we would talk more in the morning. She was too tired to have any kind of productive conversation. The next day she woke up and was still a little somber, but inquisitive. We talked about the movie, the sad parts, and she asked lots of questions - "Why do people watch sad movies?" "Why did Sadness turn all her memories blue" "Why did anger give her that bad idea?" We talked about it all and it seemed to put her at ease. She decided she was too little for that movie and maybe when she was six she could watch it again. 

Well Tuesday came around (a week later) and while we were eating dinner, a whole new slew of questions came. The neat thing was that it was something she had been thinking on for a while. She asked very good questions about memories and why we forget things (like Bing Bong fading), imaginary friends, and how emotions can control our actions. 

We are sitting there, eating, and she just nonchalantly says - "I think fear controls a lot of my actions." I just looked at her, and I could not believe this came out of a five year old. I asked her to elaborate why she thinks that.

"Well, I am afraid of Liam messing up my pictures, or Henry ruining the tower I just built. Have you seen Liam with paper? He just balls it up! He takes it and crinkles it!" 

Valid fears of a five year old. We talked about not letting fear control us. We talked about how hard and scary it is to make new friends, but she does every where she goes. Or how hard it is to tell the truth, or do the right thing. So even though she is afraid of someone messing up her stuff, she really has the power to let joy, or forgiveness, or grace, or love control her. 

I asked her what controls Daddy. "Joy! He loves to make us laugh - and it makes him laugh." 

What controls Mommy? "I don't know. Stress? Like that time you forgot all the cards with the names and Daddy had to get them to you and he said you were really stressed. You stress about making everything perfect for the bride because they want it beautiful. You have an important job to help the brides. But that is why I don't want to be a wedding planner - it is too stressed."

I just didn't even know what to say. She is right. Stress does control a lot of my life. It has grown exponentially in the last year with The Bradford and Bushel and Peck. It is...overwhelming at times. I always think - do the kids notice? Henry doesn't - but my empathetic little girl does. She can read every emotion on my face and she is not afraid to call me out on it.

"Are you mad mommy?"
"Are you sad mommy?"
"Do you feel REALLY tired? You look REALLY tired."
"Are you just frustrated mommy?"
"Are you stressed?" 

This isn't a new realization. I know it has been a stressful year. This past Spring was a doozy. I seriously was about to lose it the end of June. I was just on the verge that last week. It was all I could do to keep it together and just finish out the season. I did. It was perfect and gorgeous.  

This job is a roller coaster. There are nights you don't sleep because something is tugging at your mind - did that florist get the extra table? Are the escort cards done? Did you get that other linen? I balance so.many.weddings that I am always fearful of forgetting something. It is hard to turn it off. I don't shut my computer off at the end of the day and just relax - there is an e-mail, a text, or a call I have to answer. The hard part about it all is that I really love what I do. I love my clients, I love the creative freedom. I feel charged and energized after meetings. I love my team. I love my colleagues. We have the best time at weddings. I love my job. Truly. 

Even though all these things are true-  what do I tell my baby girl who thinks that stress is the sole control of my life? I do love my job - but maybe it is time to scale it back. At the end of this year I (me personally - not including Courtney, Becca, or Bradford weddings) will have been in charge of over 28 weddings. I have assisted on an additional 20 more. That is a lot of weddings! And through the eyes of my 5 year old- it is too "stressed." So what do I do?

I have made a commitment to spend more time with my family and change my work schedule so I can be home most afternoons when Ada is out of school. I really had a hard conversation with the team about time versus money and how to assess what our time is really worth even if that means booking less clients. It is scary, but so necessary, not just for me, but for C and D, and for our clients! This is something that has been brewing for awhile, and we have made some tweaks, and feel pretty confident that this is the route we need to go. Being stretched so thin only makes my job harder, and I lose a part of the client experience that I love so much. No matter the amount of money I bring in, it just isn't worth it if I can't connect with my client, or feel like I gave 150% on that event. 

So I looked at Ada and told her. "You are probably right, but I am working on it."

"It's ok mommy! You are doing a really good job even with all the stressed."

And that my friends is all I needed to hear. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Soiree: Recap!

A HUGE thank you to all of you friends + family who came out to our Summer Soiree last week in support of InterAct.  We were able to raise hundreds of dollars to aid such a reputable and local nonprofit.  We truly believe in ALL of the efforts done by InterAct to aid women (and their families) who are victims of domestic abuse.

Thank you to our incredible sponsored vendors who really made the night a success!





















Photography: Crafted Focus
Catering: Fig & Honey 
Craft beer: BruePrint
Cupcakes: Ashley Cakes
Ice Cream Sundae Bar: The Freezing Pointe
Vintage furniture & accessories: GreenHouse Picker Sisters
Color jewelry Bar: Kendra Scott 
Calligraphy: All She Wrote Notes
Photo Booth: SnapIt Photo Booth
Live Band: Barbour & Hinton
Team Attire: Frill Clothing