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Don’t Pretend You Don’t Know Who and What You Are Marrying — A Rant by the Wedding Planner

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Hey Everybody!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ve spent the past week blogging about love and relationships and romance, but today I let loose with a long-overdue rant. The impetus? I cannot control the fact that this Monday is a federal holiday, can I? Therefore, I cannot force the marriage license office to be open. Now gay marriage isn’t legal in Puerto Rico (YET) so none of my gay clients are torturing me, but the premise of this blog goes for all couples, gay and straight. So pour a glass of wine and plan to laugh your butt off at my expense. Click here to check out my rant about brides and grooms who lie to each other and blame it on their vendors!

Happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra. And Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and star of TLC's "Wedding Island"

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and star of TLC’s “Wedding Island”

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Have You Thought About How to Remember Dead Loved Ones at Your Wedding?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Hi there!

Lots of couples want to acknowledge that somebody important is missing from their wedding day because they were taken too soon in life. There are a lot of ways to do it – some of them classic and tasteful, some of them not. Please check out my blog in the Huffington Post today with some ideas for remembering loved ones at weddings and some awful examples of what not to do.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

And don’t forget to check out www.SandyMalone.com for all kinds of interesting pics, tips and other fun stuff!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and star of TLC's "Wedding Island"

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and star of TLC’s “Wedding Island”

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Marriage and the Art of Compromise in Today’s Huffington Post

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Hello Brides and Grooms!

Learning to compromise begins for most couples long before you make it legal. Check out my blog today about how to use wedding planning to practice compromising on things in the way you’ll really have to for the rest of your life. If you can’t work together enough when you’re planning a wedding, how are you ever going to survive the real challenges of married life?

Enjoy! Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone, "Queen of Gay Wediquette," owner of Weddings in Vieques, and star of TLC's "Wedding Island"

Sandy Malone, “Queen of Gay Wediquette,” owner of Weddings in Vieques, and star of TLC’s “Wedding Island”

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

The First Three Things You Should Do When You Begin Your Wedding Pre-Planning

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Today’s Huffington Post features a blog by me about the first three things you should do when you get engaged, BEFORE you start announcing your wedding date to all of your friends and family.  Check it out and see if it helps prevent you from committing to things and people before you’re ready to make the announcement with the final information.

As you have a break between celebrations, check out my new Sandy Malone website and let me know what you think — we’re having a lot of fun putting it together!

Happy Holidays and happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone, Owner of Weddings in Vieques and star of TLC's "Wedding Island"

Sandy Malone, Owner of Weddings in Vieques and star of TLC’s “Wedding Island”

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

What You Can Expect from a Professional Wedding Planning Consultation

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Getting engaged and starting to plan your wedding? If you are even considering hiring a professional wedding planner, you absolutely, positively should be entitled to a FREE consultation before you sign anything. Sometimes it takes two conversations because the details change after the wedding planner explains the financial facts of life to the potential bride and groom during the initial consult, so in the second consultation the budget guestimate is reworked and final questions answered.  There may be a follow up email or two with additional simple questions, but for the most part, then it’s sh*t or get off the pot time for deciding whether you want to hire that wedding planner.

My account executive Kelsi Welch and I just spent over an hour discussing potential clients we’ve spoken with over the past couple of weeks.  It’s THAT time of year and everybody is getting engaged, about to get engaged, or finally getting around to grabbing a wedding date before everybody who gets engaged on Christmas and New Year’s beats them to their first choice.  And I’ve got so many more gay and lesbian wedding requests than ever before because so many states are making it legal and the government and military stance has changed so much in the last 24 months.  So it’s a zoo around here answering questions and spending time on the phone with potential clients.  Many of them don’t hire us, but that’s the way marketing works.  Not every client has the budget for their dream wedding in Vieques, and sometimes, they may not like the wedding planner after they’ve talked to me – I’m not everybody’s cup of tea.  And more than once we’ve joked about “dodging a bullet” when a potential bride emails that she’s decided to get married back at home instead so it’s not always bad when we don’t get hired.

But today I really want to clarify for potential clients – the brides and grooms who are out there shopping for wedding planners right now – what you can and what you cannot expect from a professional wedding planning consultation.  Because it’s clear from some of the feedback I’ve gotten lately that some of you are confused.  No need for that – I will clarify.

First, if you’re dealing with the banquet manager at a hotel, that’s not really a wedding planner.  Yes, they’ll give you menus, rates, every detail available because you get to choose A, B, or C on each option.  These are cookie-cutter weddings to them and they’re able to quote you prices because you have limited options.  The more guests you have, the less you pay because they defray some of the cost onto your guests.  You know that free welcome party they threw in? It was only free for the bride and groom.  Your guests treated you.  This is especially true of the large, chain, all-inclusive resorts.  I’m not saying that’s the wrong way to go, I’m just saying they can give you prices in the first email because you only have a couple of options to begin with. Easy to understand, yes?  But if you’re getting married in a private villa on a tropical island with individual vendors providing all of your services, the pricing doesn’t work that way.  At all.

When I do a consultation, on the phone or in person, with potential brides and/or grooms, I’ve sent them basic info about me ahead of time, directed them to all sorts of social media and websites about us, and asked them to complete a basic information form. YES, I do ask about budget.  It’s not because I’m vetting the clients based on how much money they make, it’s because I’m trying to figure out which direction to steer them when we talk.  Is this a package couples who should be thinking restaurant wedding dinner or a full blown reception with live music?  Without those basic details, it’s literally impossible for me to tell you how to plan your wedding in Vieques.  Sending me info ahead helps me be better prepared with suggestions for you when we talk.

About half of the brides and grooms actually give me a number to work with in advance, but the rest will tell me when we’re on the phone.  Because that’s the next step – a pre-scheduled, hour-long consultation call about the details of your wedding.  Sometimes it’s quick and dirty – 30 minutes in and out – and sometimes they’re the ones that hire me the fastest.  Other calls drag longer and require a follow up email with a lot of details.  That’s okay.  It’s important for brides and grooms to get all their questions answered prior to entering into any sort of wedding planning services arrangement with anyone.

We can create a budget “guestimate” for you – with high-end and low-end numbers so you understand approximately what you’re facing – but at the end of the day, the brides and grooms choose the flowers, décor, photographer (that can run you between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on whom you choose), and the cake, plus all of the reception details.  So although we can guess how much we’re going to spend – and I’m pretty dead-on with my “guestimates” – we don’t know EXACTLY what you’re spending til you decide which chairs and how many tiki torches you want.  Get it?

Once we’ve discussed the services we provide, given you a guestimate, and answered all of your questions, it’s time for you to make a decision about whether to hire us.  We’re not holding your wedding date until we have a contract, so a swift decision is good for you and for us because, as I said before, it’s that time of year.  If you’re flexible about your wedding date, take all the time in the world to decide.  But if you really have your heart set on grabbing a three-day holiday weekend for your Caribbean, don’t dilly dally.

There are some things that I do not and will not tell you during a consultation because they’re the reasons you’re hiring me in the first place.  Trade secrets, so to speak.  We spend a lot of time vetting who we do and do not work with down here.  I won’t give you venue or vendor names – if you’ve done your homework on me you probably have some of the anyway.  I won’t tell you who to work with and who to avoid.  I won’t send you menus.  I won’t send you lists of photography options.  You don’t get a music options list.  None of that until AFTER we are under contract.  Once the contract is signed and we’ve done our first call, you’re gonna wish you weren’t getting so much information about things from me.  And that’s when we step back and take it one thing at a time, venue, catering, décor, etc.  But before I’m under contract, I’m not giving you information that would make you feel inspired to just try to go out and plan it yourself.  It’s happened so many times.  And we see (or hear about) the disastrous results.  So we just don’t go there.  If you’re ready to hire a professional wedding planner, you should have done enough research to feel secure that you will be getting all these lists of options as soon as you’re under contract.  That’s the way it goes

As you start your planning, take a look at my new Sandy Malone website — lots of tips and links to my blogs — plus fun things about me that you never would have known. 🙂

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, is also the star of TLC's "Wedding Island" reality show about planning weddings on a tropical island.

Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, is also the star of TLC’s “Wedding Island” reality show about planning weddings on a tropical island.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

 

The Brides Get What the Brides Want because It’s the Rules

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Hi everybody!

Today I have a Huffington Post blog here to share with you about how so many guests don’t seem to realize that the brides and grooms make the decisions at weddings, not the wedding planners.  We don’t decide whether to have the tent at the beach party or whether to serve alcohol there.  The clients make the decisions and pay for them.

So why would people so frequently think it’s okay to express opinions about silly things like this to the wedding planner — or God forbid, the bride???  It’s a sad day in wediquette land.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Why Do Gay Couples Have to Struggle with How to Handle Tradition — Tips from the “Queen of Gay Wediquette”

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

It’s stressful enough planning a wedding if you’re straight, but gay couples face all sorts of unusual dilemmas about how to handle what’s considered normal or traditional at most weddings.  Today’s blog on Pridezillas.com offers some tips to gay and lesbian couples planning their weddings on how to navigate those roadblocks without too much drama! Check it out here to see what the self-appointed “Queen of Gay Wediquette” advises you to do!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone, Queen of Gay Wediquette, Owner of Weddings in Vieques

Sandy Malone, Queen of Gay Wediquette, Owner of Weddings in Vieques

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT. Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

Why Are Gay Men Still Marrying Straight Women? It’s Time to Stop!

Friday, November 15th, 2013

It’s okay to be gay.  No really, in the 21st century, as we move forward, it’s more okay to be gay every day… and more and more men and women are coming out of the closet, announcing their sexual orientation, and now getting LEGALLY married to members of the same sex.  Even the US military is finally starting to do the right thing (yeah, it’s still messed up – but it’s improving every day compared to what soldiers of even five years ago had to put up with on a daily basis).  I firmly believe that we will see marriage equality in my lifetime and I’m 40.  That’s saying something.

Definitely both gay! Garrett and David Egland-Rock tied the knot on Vieques on October 11, 2013!

Definitely both gay! Garrett and David Egland-Rock tied the knot on Vieques on October 11, 2013!

So now, as a professional wedding planner, I have to ask a very difficult and controversial question – and I really want to know the answer – why are so many gay men continuing to marry straight women in big white weddings with the promise of a lifetime together when half the guests at the wedding know that the groom would rather be marrying his best man?

Let me back up a little to put things in context – I had a rainbow collection as a child before rainbows meant anything other than leprechauns and pots of gold.  I grew up in Washington, DC, in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was first becoming okay to be gay in public.  I took the Metro home from my prep school through Dupont Circle most days, and I assure you gay was EVERYWHERE back then (though more men than women seemed to be representing). Homosexuality has always been there – this is nothing new.  Throughout history, there have been famous leaders worldwide whose sexuality is extensively questioned in our history books even though almost all of them were married to women and had families (who knew what the gossip was about them when they were alive).  But only in the past 30 years (and really more in the last 10) have gay men and women been able to be open about their orientation and still hold their rank in business and society without being ostracized completely.  For the military, things are still in the process of changing.  But they are changing.  Big time.

With a whole world of opportunity opening up for people of all sexual orientations, with so many states legalizing gay marriage and benefits FINALLY being extended to those partners the way they should have been all along, why are so many gay men continuing the ruse and marrying straight women?  Maybe some of them are bisexual and their wives are okay with it – and if that’s the case, more power to that couple – but I’m here to tell you that I have planned quite a few weddings over the past few years that seriously made me wonder what the heck was going on.  I am absolutely positively certain that not all of these beautiful girls with hopeful smiles, tripping down the aisle in bridal white, clearly understand that they aren’t really their groom’s first choice for a life partner.  They might be his favorite girl, but she isn’t who he wishes he was marrying forever.  And most of those marriage don’t last.  It’s a fact.

How dare I ask this question?  How can I call out some of my own clients like this?  Maybe it’s because nowadays about a third of my client roster are gay weddings, and although I’ve been accused of having terrible “gaydar,” now I do recognize when a straight couple getting married is mismatched in the most horrible way.  And if I don’t pick up on it before they arrive, or even when they do, don’t worry – either my vendors (some of whom are gay) or their wedding guests will make sure that our staff knows the whole skinny before the wedding weekend is over.  And then, after months of planning and executing the perfect wedding, I feel a little sick and sad when it’s all over because I’m afraid of what’s going to happen within the next five years when he finally gets up the nerve to come out.  Generally speaking, I just pray that it happens sooner rather than later because when they hang in there long enough to build a life and have children, the damage is cataclysmically worse when the truth finally comes to light.

This happened to a few of my friends in high school – I graduated in 1991.  And even though my friends were almost technically adults, they were destroyed because their families were obliterated.  They hadn’t grown up in unhappy households.  The shock was palpable, and humiliating for some (think back 20 years). It wasn’t your normal spend time with mom and spend time with dad separately kinda divorce.  It was dad leaving mom for somebody else’s dad.  I don’t care who you are or how accepting of the gay lifestyle you are… it messes with kids’ heads pretty badly.  And in some cases has impacted all their future relationships because trust is a huge issue for them.  How can you grow up for 18 years believing your parent is one thing when he or she is another?  I’m not trying to lay blame on those parents now, they didn’t have the same options back then.  I am saying STOP THIS SILLY SHIT now!  It isn’t necessary anymore.

I could have made this a funny blog.  I could tell you some of my fave stories about my straight (so gay) grooms who threw fits at their own weddings and behaved like brides.  I could tell you about the groom who cried because the napkins were the wrong shade of orange (in his opinion) – true story!  Or the one who sang show tunes all weekend and had a temper tantrum when it rained on his beach party while the bride kept a stiff upper lip and tried to convince their guests all was well.  Or the groom I caught kissing his best man in the staff rest room while the bride was out line dancing with the rest of the group two hours after they said “I do.”

At the time, it was funny.  Not LOL funny – more like sad, pathetic and depressingly funny because the only person at the whole damned wedding who didn’t know the groom was gay was the bride.  Every time, I felt sick afterwards, like I’d masterminded the end of her happiness instead of helping kick off a mind-blowing happy future.  But I never said a word.  That’s not my job, not my business, and not the way to get a good review and referrals.  But I don’t feel good about those weddings.  I couldn’t have known ahead of time, and yet, I blame myself to some degree for not blowing the whistle when I became aware.  But my job is to execute a flawless wedding, not destroy clients’ lives.  Or is that what I did by facilitating the marriage licenses?

Gay people should marry gay people, and straight people should marry straight people, unless there’s some private understanding that’s none of my business anyway.  But if you doubt your sexuality in any way – if you’re still figuring out which team you play for or if you play for both – do not make a lifetime commitment to somebody who doesn’t know where your heart truly lies.  All is spells is heartbreak for everyone eventually.  Every man and woman deserves a lifetime of happiness… but be sure you’ve chosen the right gender of spouse to spend the rest of your life with creating that bliss.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

 

 

How You Can Make the Wedding Special Even if Your Partner Did All the Planning

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Hey there!

I wrote this blog for TheGroomslist.com and it was directed at straight couples in the way it’s written — but it’s such a good tips list for any bride or groom who hasn’t had time to help his or her partner with all the difficult parts of the planning that I decided to share it here too!  So check it out and maybe it will give you some inspiration on how to make your fiancé’s wedding week even more special!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

The BIG Mistake I Made at the First Big Lesbian Wedding I Planned on Vieques

Monday, October 21st, 2013

I have planned several lesbian weddings, but all of them were rather intimate groups, and in each case, only one of the brides was actually decked out in a whole wedding gown and veil ensemble.  The other bride wore a more masculine outfit – pants in every case.  What I didn’t realize was how telling this was about the personalities of my clients, and their feelings about their wedding day.  Simply put – when a girl puts on a wedding gown, lesbian or straight, she wants to be THE princess of the day.  So in the previous lesbian weddings I’ve planned, one bride was THE BRIDE and the other stood a bit in her shadow.  It’s the same with gay weddings for the most part.  In many cases I know which groom is the “bride” months before I meet the in person just based on the requests they make during planning.  But we’re talking about lesbians today…

Okay, seems simple, right?  Regardless of sexual preference, most wedding couples take on the “traditional” bride and groom roles a little bit.  And it usually works out well, except when it didn’t.  I recently planned my first large lesbian wedding and both of the brides wore wedding gowns, and both brides had full bridal parties, and I even had to send in two separate beauty teams to two separate villas while they dressed and got beautiful.  From a wedding planning perspective, it was like doing two weddings at one time.

Both girls wanted pictures taken while they were dressing and both wanted the photographer around while they were being silly with their girlfriends and as a result, the photographer was hopping between villas and feeling like she wasn’t getting all that she wanted of anything.  I felt terrible for her!  I realized my error right then and there – if you have two brides who don’t want to see each other on the wedding day, you NEED TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS to cover the wedding.  Plain and simple.

And it didn’t end with the ceremony – oh no, that was the beginning.  Usually, gay or straight, the guys want to get the pictures over with and get to the bar with their friends as quickly as possible.  But not brides.  If it’s your day to be a princess, you want to feel like one – and have it documented properly.  Meaning, again, you really need two photographers to get complete sets of formal bridal portraits, extensive shots with the separate wedding parties, and lots of special mix and match shots with your families.

Beautiful wedding ceremony for Amy Kjeldahl and Jillian Garcia in August 2013.

Beautiful wedding ceremony for Amy Kjeldahl and Jillian Garcia in August 2013.

The brides were gorgeous and they totally deserved to have all the bells and whistles for their special day – and I believe they got them.  I just wish I’d foreseen the potential conflict of interest using one photographer with two brides.  It wasn’t like the brides had seen it coming either – we never even discussed double photogs.  But I’m the professional wedding planner and I take responsibility – I should have known better.

I don’t think the photographer shortage destroyed the wedding weekend by any stretch – they had a fabulous time, dancing to tunes rocked by their imported DJ Shawna, and thoroughly enjoying the food and beverages they’d so carefully planned.  I haven’t seen the professional shots, but the ones we took were fantastic.   Ironically, although the brides hadn’t seen each other’s dresses before they met at the end of the aisle, they complimented one another beautifully.  But I certainly learned a lesson and next time I’ve got two wedding gowns at one wedding, I’m going to make sure I have two photographers waiting.

Two happy brides with beautiful dresses, hair and flowers!

Two happy brides with beautiful dresses, hair and flowers!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!