Thursday, September 24, 2015

3 Biggest Misconceptions About Hiring a Wedding Planner


1.) "I don't think I need a Wedding Planner."
 "I think I'm a fairly organized and creative person...I can plan my wedding and whatever I can't do on my own, I have friends and family to help."

Everyone needs and most importantly deserves a Wedding Planner. A Wedding Planner is the central nucleus of your Wedding Day. Without one, there is no guarantee that your wedding will run as smoothly as it would with a Wedding Planner. Plus, you want to enjoy every minute of that day. You don't want to spend your day answering questions from vendors or family members or guests.  An experienced Wedding Planner has planned hundreds of weddings and that wisdom is invaluable. Your family and friends also deserve to enjoy the day and not running around stressing about every detail.  Let the expert take great care of all of you. 

2.) "I can't afford a Wedding Planner."
"Weddings are expensive enough, why would I spend more money hiring a Wedding Planner?"

While Wedding Planners can be expensive, you will never regret the investment.  Wedding Planners will often times save you immense amounts of money in the long run.  Planners are well aware of the average price of all vendors and all things wedding related.  They can advise you on making wise decisions and educate you and your choices and options along the way.

3.) "I'm afraid a Wedding Planner will take over my Wedding".
"I want our Wedding day to be our vision, not someone else's."

A Wedding Planner will only help to best enhance your vision and serve as a huge resource.  Wedding Planners can help you to funnel through all your many ideas and stay on track so that you don't become buried and overwhelmed in all the details. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dear Chase ~ An Open Letter to My Brother on his 25th Birthday


Dear Chase,
Twenty five years ago on this very day, you were born. I had been an only child up until this then. During that time, I would pray all the time for a sibling… I wanted a buddy of my own to have in this world and share life with.  I wanted someone who would have the same Mom and Dad as me and be raised similarly… I simply just wanted to have someone on “my team” in life.  Our parents had been trying for a few years, but worried that they might not be able to have another child until... 
I was so excited.  This was finally happening; I didn’t have to grow up alone as the only “kid” in this family.  I was ecstatic.  You were born and life was great.  It was so fun having a baby in the house, helping you to take your first steps, hearing you say your first words.  You would often get yourself in trouble under my watch…eating plants, chewing on bug repellent packets… We had to keep poison control on speed dial… You were an adventurous child with a loving spirit. 

As the years went on, I entered my teenage years.  I was busy with friends, and active with school activities. I remember physically pushing you out of my room more times than I’d like to remember. You always wanted to be involved with what all the “big kids” were doing.  Often, you would run errands around town with me and we’d blare music and go cruising….I’d drive real fast over speed bumps so you would fly up in the air and laugh and laugh.  Despite our ten year age difference we always remained close.  You are the one person in the entire world that shares my same genetic mix and was raised the same way I was, by the same loving parents. 

The years continued to pass, and I moved away for college.  You would still come up from time to time to stay with me at the dorms, walk the campus, and experience college life.   You began to develop a life of your own… Becoming very active with school activities, elected Student Body President at the same school that I had held the title at ten years prior.  We were pretty similar and many ways.  
Although, there was a time when I started to realize a big difference between us.  It was around your senior year of high school.  You were going through a bit of a rebellious stage, partying harder than I ever did at that age. I remember you got in a bit of trouble by mom for your partying antics …I remember saying to you in an annoying big sister voice “Don’t you care about what other people think? Don’t you want to other people to know how well Mom and Dad raised you?”  I remember you at 18 years old firing back at me... "No, I don’t.  I know Mom and Dad are proud of me and that’s I all care about.  YOU care way too much about what people “think”."

Wow….nailed it.  Where did you get this “bad ass" attitude from anyways?  Certainly not from your "goody two shoes" people pleasing big sister. 

The years went on… full of highs and lows.  You were now a sophomore in college, I was 31 years old.  One day in February of 2011, you came over to hang out for the day to get out of your dorm and work on homework.  Justin was off shooting a wedding. You and I spent the day together... ran a few errands, grabbed some lunch, and just kind of hung out. 

Later that night, in true “big sister” form I started in on bugging you about relationships/dating. I was a little nervous to ask, because at this point you had become more private and seemed a bit annoyed with this topic.  But being a big sister, that’s what I do. 

And that was the night; sitting at my kitchen table, in my tiny apartment… told me that you are gay. 

Those words forever changed me as a person.

I remember early on looking at photos of you from past times and thinking to myself, wait...  you were gay then?  Oh, and that time too?  It just didn’t make sense to me.  Wait “I have a gay brother? Me?”  That was something I saw on cheesy lifetime movies... That was “other peoples’ family's”…not mine.  “How could I have a gay brother?”  You’re the only human on this earth with similar genetic makeup, raised by the same people and you’re GAY?  How is this possible?

I went through many phases following this conversation….shock, disbelief, anger, grief, acceptance, hope and now, I can finally thankfully say peace.

But during that time... it was really really difficult.  I regret the selfishness I displayed to you at times.   As much I as loved and supported you, I was still struggling with how much this affected me and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. 

I think the biggest thing I had to get past was realizing that being gay isn’t a choice, it’s who you are.  I had thought prior to you “telling me” that I already thought this way.  I had had gay friends previously… but I guess I hadn’t really thought much about it because it hadn’t affected me directly.  All of a sudden I was the sister of a gay sibling.  Was I supposed to be one of those people you saw on TV? Marching in the parades with the t shirt on that said “ I love my gay brother?”.

My reaction to you “coming out” at first was fairly good (as it was an out of body experience, and I was in a state of shock)…but as the days, weeks, and months went on….I’m certain there were times when I said all the wrong things to you, and for that I’m incredibly sorry.  Every emotion I had was always coming from a foundation of love.

I had to process this…but ultimately when it came down to it…My fear was about what other people would think... of you, of mom and dad, and of myself.  That was my real struggle.  I was happy that you were so confident, so secure, and knew that you wanted to be yourself and live an authentically real life. 

What would people think when they found out my brother was gay? What about our parents?  That thought weighed heavily on my heart as you didn’t tell them for another nine months after you told me.  I felt like the rest of the world wasn’t going to love you “enough” and until Mom and Dad were aware I had to protect you and love you enough for all of us.  It wasn’t necessarily a healthy way of thinking…but it's how I felt.  I called you all the time, asking you questions…more and more questions.  Every time you answered, sometimes our conversations were filled with tears, sometimes laughs... And a few times even included anger and yelling. 

I became ultra sensitive to life, the world, and the media.  It was as if I was just waiting for someone to say one derogative comment and I feared that I would completely lash out at them.  I became incredibly angry inside at times as I was processing this. Anger wasn’t a familiar feeling to me… it was weird.  But it stemmed from how much I love you. 

I told each of my best friends individually and “in person.”  With each individual conversation I had, I entered into a different phase of acceptance.  And as I began to pull off the layers and let my loved ones in, I soon realized… They were like “Umm Jennifer…it’s not really a big deal, we love Chase.  In fact, this news makes us love him even more.”
You see, that was my biggest struggle worrying about what everyone else would think. But why?  Well mainly because, at the time, it was illegal for gay people to get married.  It was against the law!?  That was the message that the world had been sending, that’s what was causing me so much fear. There I sat, as a Wedding Planner… starting my own business. And it was against the law for you, my brother to get married?  That didn’t make any sense to me.  I even thought about quitting the business.  It just didn’t seem fair. How is it “okay” for me to be married to the person I love but not you? 

Over the next four years I could sense that changes were happening.  My eyes were open and I saw that most Americans believed in love and supported love.  It was also clear to me that there were those that didn’t. Those comments or “likes” on social media jumped out to me like red flags and often times hurt my heart.  I took it as a personal attack, even though these people didn’t even realize how much they were hurting my feelings.  But I know that most everything in life that is unsupported is rooted by “fear”.  So overtime, I learned to let things roll off me a little easier. This was their loss, not mine and definitely not yours.
Then on June 26th of 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that “all states must allow same sex marriages, nationwide.”   I remember tears falling from my face, I had forgotten how deeply rooted this affected me.  I texted you right away.  Life seemed “fair” and I couldn’t be happier. 

Chase, today on your 25th Birthday, I wanted to publicly thank you.  Thank you for having the courage to be you.  You, little brother, are an incredible person with ridiculous amounts of talent, charisma, and smarts.  You have already done, and I’m certain you will continue to do, great things.  I can’t wait to see your future unfold. 

Chase, your courage has changed and inspired me.  I now care lots “less” about what people think of me, and that’s all because of you.  Thank you, you’ve encouraged me to live my life more authentically.

Please know how much your life is impacting others in a positive way.  Keep being you, you have so much to give to world and I’ll forever be your biggest cheerleader. 

Happy Birthday Stinkerbell, I love you. Thank you for always being on “my team” in life. 
Your Proud Sis

Friday, September 11, 2015

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Mattison

Once upon a spring day on March 14th, 2015, two best friends became husband and wife.

Lacey ~ a fun loving, joke cracking, fun spirited beautiful woman.
  Jarred~ a warm, kind hearted, and caring handsome guy.   

On the day they married their personalities shined through every detail in the wedding.  The most important elements to them were:
1. Everyone have fun!
2. There be lots of surprises!

Lacey chose a dress designed by the famous wedding gown designer: Kitty Chen.  And yes, her dress was a light shade of pink, which she was thrilled about.   Her accessories also included hints of pink hues and sparkle, lots of sparkle
There was a lot of excitement and love in Lacey's hotel suite that afternoon while she was getting ready with her mom and all of her best friends surrounding her... . 
Lacey was nervously excited...she just couldn't wait to see her Groom.  

Entering Jarred's room was comical.  The Best man Tim was hard at work ironing away, another groomsman was in a mad search for his missing bow tie...eventually found at the bottom of his tux bag.  Jarred was concerned...concerned about the timeline, about the missing bow tie...but mostly concerned about his bride.  "Is she okay?" 

Finally it was time for Lacey and Jarred to have their "first meeting."  Lacey was on pins and needles...for as calm of a person as she naturally tends to be...this was a moment of sheer, nervous exhilaration. She had waited for this moment for a long time.   

And then their were two.... A team.  Ready to embrace the most magical moments of their life.  Ready to spend the rest of lives together. 

They were ready.... it was time. 

She was ready for him to continue always sitting next to her (never across) and holding her hand.  She was ready for him to continue telling her that "she's amazing."  He was ready for her to continue to always think about him, more great kisses, and always being together.  These things wont change, they will just mean more as time goes on. 

Their ceremony was "Whimsically Glam" in every sense of the word.  There were pinwheels, balloons, polka dots, and many sparkles.  The guests were happy and excited.  Every member of the Bridal Party truly had immense amounts of love for Lacey and Jarred and it showed. 

And Lacey had her balloon....a giant pink balloon with white polka dots. And Jared had her.  

And on that day, we heard them say.....
"There's nobody else, there's nobody else." ~ Lacey
"Life is good baby, life is good.  I love you." ~ Jarred

Everything in the room had a meaning behind it, each detail.  It was important to Lacey and Jarred that the details were personalized.  Their cake topper included their dog, Wrigley.  Their table signs included photos of them, and each number represented something significant to their relationship. 

Entering the Grand Ballroom guests were awe struck by the sparkly, fun, and quirky details.  The Bridal Party sat at a stunning, long feasting table in the middle of the room draped in blush sequin linens. 
The tables were topped with light, romantic flirty flowers spilling out of bird cages, antique oversized windowed photo frames, with touches of pinwheels throughout the room. 
But there was one thing slightly confusing about the didn't have a dance floor?  Hmm....Lacey and Jarred knew this would be puzzling to their guests. 
Awe... but wait.  Just after their beautiful dinner was completed... which by the way was "breakfast"...yes they served their guests a decedent array of comforting breakfast foods! Why? Well because they love breakfast, and why not?
As dinner ended Lacey and Jarred slipped away... And positioned themselves on the other side of the ballroom (which had been divided by an air wall.)  

And all of a sudden....their six piece band started rocking out, and the dividing wall started magically opening... And their was Lacey and Jarred, SUPRISING all of their guests with an additional room, entirely decorated with a LIVE BAND (The most important element to Jarred) and all of the sudden, Lacey and Jarred began dancing their first dance (choreographed) to the song "You are the Best Thing" by Ray Lamontagne.  The crowd went wild... Circling around them in amazement. 

Pure magic.  The band's talent was truly unbelievable, they brought such energy to the room!

And of course the surprises didn't stop there... There was an additional photo booth, a gourmet donut bar... and endless amounts of fun. 

The party rocked on all night long.  Everyone had a unbelievable time... Great dance moves, flowing libations... And incredible live music.   

And this was their day.  A day that Lacey and Jarred will always have as "theirs".  All that know them well... know that the party and fun for them has only just begun. 

Creative Partners:

Florist: Renata Hodl
Hair & Makeup: Tiffany Moore
Musicians: Lucky Devils Band
Officiant: Marco
Photo Booths: Kylee
Wedding Planner/Designer: J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"How He Asked, in His Words"


In His Words... 
"To those of you that read this, I’m warning you in advance that this is my first blog post ever and it is probably going to be really terrible. That being said I hope you enjoy the story about my beautiful fiancĂ© Taylor and I."  ~ Justin

I want you to imagine a college bar scene. It’s a dark, cold Friday night and all the bar lights are shining and lines of college students are forming outside the door. Now, imagine the poor soul who is checking ID’s at the front door of the most popular bar near campus. That was me.

I was a recent graduate and was working three jobs trying to build a future for myself, this job, as the security manager, was a job I had had all through college and I stayed working there because I didn’t know what the bar would do without me. In reality I think that maybe it was more of me not knowing what to do without working at the bar. Maybe it was a little bit of both.

After working at the same bar late every night for so many years, you become accustomed to all of the regular patrons to the point where you know what each individual is wearing in their driver’s license picture and what state they are from. You become accustomed to pretty girls dressed to impress and always attempting to cut the line to get in. For some reason I never allowed it, because I wondered why they should be so special to cut the line just because they were wearing heels and a dress in the middle of winter.

So when a gorgeous girl with blue eyes and a bright smile stands in line and doesn’t attempt to go through the VIP entrance, you tend to take notice, especially when all of the guys around her can’t stop staring. This girl was Taylor. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the woman who would become the most important individual in my life and my soulmate.

You see, bouncers have a secret code that we identify people with in order to communicate with each other. This way, other people won't understand what the conversation is over the radio. We have codes for drunk people, fake ID’s, people sleeping, people puking, and identifying pretty girls. The first time Taylor walked into the bar I called over the radio that there was a “Single Pineapple Indiana Tiger”.  According to the bouncer handbook I cannot divulge the translation of this phrase because it might jeopardize the code... But, let’s just say that I thought she was very attractive.

A few more nights passed and she continued to come to the bar. For someone that had not previously been a regular she had been making quite a few appearances. Every time she came in she was always polite, quiet and would just smile at me and not say a word. So I watched, not in a creepy stare where she needed to get a restraining order, but more of an observation. Observing her friends, the type of person she becomes after she had been drinking, and if she was dating anyone.

After a while I came to the conclusion that she was a nice person. Most pretty girls are very unapproachable and mock someone who is out of their league for attempting to talk to them, but Taylor was very classy. She was always friendly, she always had a smile, and was friends with a large spectrum of people. Fortunately for me, I realized that one of her close friends was a coworker of mine at the bar. Once I realized this friend connection I went straight to the coworker and in a roundabout way asked if she would introduce us.

To my surprise she was eager to introduce us because she felt that we would be a good match. After she introduced us, I made a few shy jokes and tried my hardest to be interesting and funny and before she left the bar I made sure to give her my number and asked her to call me.

Although I was nervous the moment I gave her my number, I had no idea how much more nervous I was going to become after that night. (Side Note: Taylor actually “lost” my number right after she left the bar and had to ask her friends to contact my friends to get it for her. I didn’t find this out until later.)

After our second date, I knew she was the woman I was going to marry so I began saving for a diamond ring. From that moment on, we went through a year of dating and several trials and tribulations. Between living hundreds of miles apart to my season of work as a Hot Shot where I would be gone for weeks on end without phone service.

Once we decided to finally move in together, and get new jobs in order to be closer to one another, life began to run more smoothly. After I saved enough money to buy her a ring, I took her to Jared’s and told her we were just looking at rings because if I didn’t mention it already, Taylor is one of the pickiest and opinionated people I know (I mean that in the most affectionate way). Once she had decided on a ring, I surprised her when I just said, "Let's just get it." But, I told her I would wait to give it to her.

Once I had the ring in my pocket, and we were on our way home from the jewelry store, I knew that I couldn’t wait because I was so excited. Once we got home, she went into the bedroom and when she came out, I had the ring out. She looked at me and I said, “So are we doing this or not?” You can imagine what the response was since I wrote this blog."

Monday, September 7, 2015

5 Random Thoughts...

Happy Monday!

It's Labor Day. Which means today Justin and I are both working:)  I saw this post the other day and it made me giggle.  So true. 

In an effort to keep up with my consistent blogging I thought I would simple share 5 Random Thoughts.

1.) Photoshop.  I wish more than anything I was an expert with this program.  Case in wedding blog posts.  I recently purchased some swanky new Photoshop templates to best showcase real life weddings and photo shoots on my blog.  However... Learning how to correctly use them is a painfully long process requiring lots of time.  Hence the reason why I was never able to share Lacey and Jarred's Wedding on Friday.  No fear my friends, I will get this down. Stay tuned...

2.)  Periscope.  Seriously, you guys, this new social media is so different than anything I've seen before.  What is it, you ask?  It's live video broadcasting! For example if I'm onsite rocking an event I can sign on and broadcast live (in real time) from the event!  And viewers can log on and chat with me via messages that pop up on my screen and show love by tapping hearts.  It's seriously so much fun.  It's a very raw, non edited, in the moment form of social media.  If you haven't tried it yet, I highly encourage you to give it a whirl.  Especially if you're a J.Starr Client... Because I'll be sharing tons of advice and helpful hints in regards to wedding planning and event design!  Look for me on periscope at: @jstarrstyle.

3.) Wave of New Bookings.  I've recently booked a handful of  new beautiful couples in a short amount of time. I'm so honored and thrilled.  I'm officially reached my booking limit for the Fall of 2015, and I'm halfway to my booking limit for the Spring of 2016.  Over the years I've discovered that I feel comfortable booking a max of 12 to 15 Weddings each year.  This allows me to really be able to concentrate on my booked clients while also realistically allowing me to balance my work/life roles.

Will this change in the future?  Maybe, and maybe not.  I'm still pondering the next step for my business.  All I can say right now is....  I'm extremely grateful.  I've been passionately growing J.Starr Stylized Weddings for 4.5 years now, and I'm so happy to be at this new point in my business.

4.) The Weather.  Amen.  August is such a dreadful time for us Arizona peeps.  I've been having an especially difficult time because keeping my twinzies inside is difficult.  I'm jumping for joy that I can finally take them out for walks to the park again in the mornings.

5.) Our 13th Annual Party. Plans for our "13th Annual" are underway. This is a tradition that we started our very first year of dating....13 years ago!  It's simply a party that we host for our friends, typically with a theme of some kind.  It's been a stretch trying to keep this tradition alive after having kids...schedules get tighter, babysitting must be scheduled, it's a lot of work for not only us... But also the attendees. We've all become official grownups now and our lives are much different now than what they were at the age of 23.  But now, especially more than ever, we think it's so important to keep in touch with our friends. 

In the past we've always made this a Halloween Party.  Last year we realized that October is just way too busy of a month for us (Wedding Season).  So, we thought about making last year our final party (sad face). But on a whim, we decided a week ago...let's just throw together a Beach Brunch party in a week and see what happens.  I'm in shock that with only a week's notice, our RSVP count is super high!  Yeah for embracing changes that work!  Can't wait for Saturday... Beach vibes, Bloody Marys, Breakfast Burritos, and fun times ahead.

P.S. In the past I've invited my amazing clients and industry friends.  This year I've decided against it... Simply because business has GROWN and there's a lot of fabulous people in my life. Wow, how lucky am I?

Dear Lovely Clients (Past & Future),
Please, please, please do not be offended for not being invited this year, because you are so loved.  So much in fact that I'm going to be hosting something very special just for you in the near future, stay tuned!  I can't wait. 

Dear Industry Friends,
I see you guys at fancy parties all the time anyways ;)   Plus I'm guessing most of you are working Weddings on Saturday anyways.  Ya know I love you all.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Choose What Matters Most... First

Photography by Brooke Photography
Floral by Flower Bar
At the JW Marriott Desert Ridge
For Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites & Services Magazine

Happy Wednesday Lovelies!

Alright... Let's talk about what matters most to you.

Planning a Wedding can put an immense amount of pressure on a couple. Many times couple feel like they have to "out do" everything that they've ever seen before. But I'm telling you all... Please do not to put that kind of extra pressure on yourselves because the truth is, if you "out do" everything, nothing will ever stand out.

I would like to encourage you to choose the two things that matter most to you. Is it the venue? Guest count? Is it the photography? Or is it the overall design and style? Is it the culinary experience?

Put some solid thought into it and whatever those two things may be, stick with them and really focus in on making them extra special! Focus on those two things, and be willing to compromise on other areas.

For example, if you know that the most important thing to you is being able to invite everyone then think about about offering your guests a modest dinner, such as a plated chicken dish and perhaps a cash bar instead of an open bar.

If you desire to put a big focus on the catering of your wedding then consider choosing a venue that already offers a beautiful setting. Find one that doesn't require you to add an enormous amount of additional decor.

If entertainment is your number one factor and you want to hire a live band, think about choosing non-floral arrangements for your centerpieces (candles, antique books, lanterns, etc.)

The bottom line is... It's your day. If you truly put your personality into the details, your wedding day will shine and be incredibly unique to all those that attend.

Much Love,

Jennifer Starr

Want more J. Starr tips to help you out with the planning process? Check out these blog posts I have done in the past!

Budged & Guest Selection Before Venue Selection

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