Wedding Planner Chat with Kelley Freeman, Thursday, April 17 at 11 AM

I kind of wish tomorrow’s live chat with wedding planner Kelley Freeman could be broadcast—because before entering the events industry, Kelley hosted a radio show (“The Morning Drive” on Ocean City’s WQHQ-FM). But even if it’s just keyboard to keyboard, K

Kelley Freeman founded her event-planning company, Carte Blanche Fine Events, in 2004, but she started the wedding/catering thing long before that. From 1998 to 2003, she was the catering sales manager and wedding specialist at the Watergate Hotel, where she hosted everyone from First Lady Laura Bush to the king and queen of Sweden. Before that, she was the first special-event manager at Dave & Buster’s in White Flint Mall.

Many thanks! Please feel free to contact me directly with any comments look forward to hearing from you!  Happy Planning! Cheers, Kelley Freeman, CPCE

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Washington, DC
OK maybe this is a bad idea but I'm thinking about doing my own flowers…florists are so expensive! Have you ever had a client do that? Do you think it's a terrible idea?? My mom says it is but my fiance and I are so much more into food than flowers that we'd rather have the extra money to spend on a nice meal. What do you think?
I'm a total foodie myself. I love food and I love that you want to spend your money on food. At the same time, I think trying to do your own flowers is not a good idea. Let's think of it this way. Day of, when are you going to have time, between waking up in the morning, meeting with your bridesmaids, having brunch, getting your hair and makeup done, doing pictures, getting ready for the ceremony…when during that time are you going to have time to go put the flowers out at the ceremony site, make your bridesmaid bouquets, make your own bouquet, set up your centerpieces? I know you don't have time to do it all. There are many fabulous florists in the metropolitan area who can work with any budget you have. That's why they're there, to make what you want on your day happen while you are enjoying your special day.
Washington, DC
I see that you have a background in catering. What's your opinion on buffet vs. served dinner? I've heard two schools of thought: buffets are better because your guests get more choices, and then served dinner is better because your guests can just sit and have the food brought to them and feel more like they're at a special event. What do you like better?
Great question! I personally like to be served. It's your special day—your guests should be on the dance floor dancing, not having to get their own food. I  believe your guests can be offered a variety of foods through planning a fun menu ahead of time with your wedding planner. This will assist you in creating the best menu possible for you and your guests.
Arlington, VA
What is the current standard in Washington DC on tipping vendors? The web varies & would like to know what your clients typically do. For catering, if gratuity isn't included but there is a separate service charge for the staff in addition to the food, equipment, should you give a % of the final bill or the food? If you have an outside vendor for the alcohol, do you tip the catering company a % of that bill for each waiter/bartender? If you had two coat checkroom people provided but only 5 people actually checked coats, should you still use the formula 1-$2 for each of the 500 guests who attended the reception? If you have a photographer & assistant and videographer & assistant shooting for the day, do you tip them 15-20% their total fee or a flat rate? Thank you
My philosophy on this is anybody who does a service for you deserves to be tipped. For my clients, I always create a service tip sheet. It guides them on who to tip above and beyond for the day of. We make envelopes full of cash. Starting first thing in the morning all through the night we hand them out. The majority of vendors have gratuity included, but it's always nice to give an extra thank you. For catering, I typically recommend tipping a dollar or two a person. Sales manager, head chef, head waiter, etc. I grew up in the service industry, so I know it means a lot. It makes a great day for everyone. Obviously you wouldn't give $500 for 5 coats to the coat checkers, but they would definitely be appreciative of a small tip for them spending their time there—a flat fee of $100 or so. For photographers, I also do a flat rate. As long as they keep digitally removing my double chins, I tip them as much as possible!
Washington, DC
I have offered to make the slideshow for my brother's wedding reception. Any tips to make it stand out?
First of all, I"m not big on slideshows being shown at the wedding reception. That's where you're supposed to be dancing the night away. I think they should be shown at the rehearsal dinner. My thoughts on this are: one, the rehearsal dinner is where you have your immediate friends and family who truly know you and want to share the intimate memories and stories about your brother and his future wife. To make it stand out, use great photos and great music, and include photos of the people who are in the audience of the rehearsal dinner because everybody loves to see themselves. 
Gaithersburg, MD
What unique wedding ideas do you have for couples who want a "weekend" wedding, or an event where all guests and the wedding party get to mingle and "celebrate" for longer than the traditional ceremony and reception?
This is right up my alley! From personal experience, my husband and I celebrated for four days. It started with really close immediate family coming into town on the Thursday, where we went to dinner and met up at the Round Robin at the Willard. Friday, I held a bridal luncheon for my bridesmaids and immediate close family and friends, and my husband and 60 of his closest friends were picked up by limos and whisked away to Whiskey Creek golf course where they played golf all day. (By the way, he shot a 73, his best ever!) Then Friday night many more guests joined us and we all went to the back bar at Old Ebbitt Grill and had a big Washington reception. Then Saturday, we held our rehearsal ceremony in the morning over coffee and Bloody Marys, then everyone went off to lunch and to tour Washington, DC. That evening we met up for rehearsal dinner at the City Club. Sunday we got married at the Willard, Monday we had brunch and Tuesday we headed off to Venice. It was the time of my life! I think all weddings should be four days long, and I'll be happy to plan them for you.
Help me talk my fiance into doing a destination wedding!
Buy him a ticket and go!
Alexandria, VA
Is it rude to tell the bride that her shoes don't match her wedding dress? She and I have very different taste in clothing but I don't think these shoes are a matter of personal preference, they are just tacky. What should I do?
My first thought would be to buy her a pair of shoes for one of her showers as a gift and tell her that you read in a magazine that some famous movie star wore these shoes on her wedding day and you just thought she had to have them. On a serious note, if she is truly one of your best friends you should have no problem being honest with her and telling her you want her to look best on her day and you would love to take her shopping to find a new pair of shoes. Maybe two. Tell your friend to keep in mind she's going to be photographed, and she won't want to look back 20 years from now and say, What was I thinking? Or have her kids looking at her wedding album and saying, "Mom! Those were the ugliest shoes ever!"
Washington, DC
My husband and I both work in the non-profit field. We'd like to make donations on behalf of our guests to our favorite charities instead of giving wedding favors. Is this acceptable? Will people be expecting something more?
I love this question! And I love that you want to give. It's completely appropriate. I believe your guests won't be disappointed in not receiving a favor, and they're going to truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. I recommend in your ceremony program is where you can add the information about where you've made this donation and why you've made it. It's a wonderful touch and something that will be carried on long after your guests have gone.
Evanston, IL
My future wife and I are not food connaisseurs by any stretch of the imagination. We'd like to serve things like Mac n' Cheese and burgers for our food, but is there any way that you've seen those home fixins' jazzed up for the occasion? Also, any ideas for themes that might jive with those choices? Thanks!
I like that a man has asked this question, because typically men never remember the food being served at a reception. (At least my husband doesn't!) Quite honestly, I serve a lot of these items that you've mentioned. Presentation is key. Macaroni and cheese served in a fun presentation, like a little spoon…you can jazz it up  by adding truffle sauce to it. I especially love serving mini burgers and French fries in a cone late-night on the dance floor. Everyone loves comfort food. Try miniature peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in fun squares and shapes. Or try donut holes. I've also been serving little tomato soups and  mini grilled cheese sandwiches. All your fun foods growing up as a child are everyone else's too. They're going to be able to see your fun personality come across through your food choices and presentations. I don't know if you need so much of a theme, but just the fact that we've all grown up with these fun foods.
Arlington, VA
How can brides and grooms uniquely involve pets and loved ones into ceremonies?
I'm a dog lover. I own a pug named Finnegan. Finnegan Freeman. However, it's your one day to be the bride. For me, Finnegan would steal the show. Also, you can never predict how they're going to behave. What if he gets nervous? There are just too many dynamics. Guests could be allergic. Guests could be scared of pets. I just don't know how I feel about pets being here. I think they belong lying on your lap, not walking down the aisle. You want to carry a bouquet, not biscuits. 
Washington, DC
I've read a lot lately about colorful dresses being the trendy thing for brides. Is that just magazines trying to have something different to write about, or have you actually seen brides opting to not wear white?
I just think you really only have one day to wear white. I have seen adding color through sashes or vintage pieces. Obviously there can be some variations on the white, like ivory, but just simply put: wear white. Didn't Sarah Jessica Parker wear black and has regretted it to this day?
Baltimore, MD
Is it bad form to have an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen? There might be more bridesmaids at my wedding and I don't want it to throw everything off and leave one girl walking by herself!
That's totally fine. No need to be matchy-matchy. You don't want to either have to force someone to be in the wedding, or cut someone you love, just to get the right number. The important thing is that you ask the people you want to be there with you to support you on the most important day of your life. Numbers shouldn't matter. My husband had 10 groomsmen, and I had five bridesmaids. Everybody walked down the aisle by themselves, and then we had five men standing behind me and five men standing behind him, and split the girls between each side. Again, they were there representing us on that day.
Milwaukee, Wi
I am having a problem figuring out wording for our invitations. Both of our parents are divorced and my father is now deceased. The remaining 3 parents are all remarried. My mom & stepdad are paying for about half of the wedding, and my fiance's 2 sets of parents are both chipping in a bit. The rest of the wedding we are paying for ourselves. What would you recommend saying for who is issuing the invitation?
By all means, you can include everyone. If you want to get the perfect wording, feel free to contact me directly.