At the beginning of every month the extraordinary planners Valley and Co. take over the SMP California blog and, using their years of experience and savvy event expertise, answer three reader questions.  This month they’re back with questions I know you can all relate to – kids at the wedding, centerpiece questions and venue contract logistics.

If you have reached a road block in your planning and need a little extra assistance make sure you…

1) Leave us a comment here with your ultimate planning question!

2) Come back next month and see if Valley and Co. picked your question to answer.

3) Get back to planning with a lot more knowledge and know-how under your belt!

Photo by Sarah Rhoads

We have a flower girl and a ring barrier as part of the wedding party but we prefer not to have of kids at the wedding We want our guests with kids to be able to kick back, relax, and party without worrying about their kids knocking over our wedding cake. Should we include a small note along with the invitation? Or is it more polite to contact/call them personally?  Thanks!

Inviting {or not inviting} children to your wedding can be a touchy subject. Many parents will understand why you want it to be an adults-only {or in your case mostly-adults only} celebration; you want them to really enjoy themselves without worrying about keeping tabs on their children {we’d leave out the part about them knocking over your cake!}. What’s touchy is how you relay this stipulation and how it’s enforced.

An invitation should be addressed only to those invited, so address yours accordingly. Only list Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jenkins, for example, and not The Jenkins Family, as this would indicate that Emma, Taylor, and baby Lucy are invited, too. If you’re concerned about some guests either not paying attention to this or not coming as a result, include an enclosure that lists an option or two for a babysitter {if many guests are traveling to your wedding we would set something up with the hotel concierge for a sitter service on-site}. To entertain the flower girl and ring bearer, consider hiring a sitter to keep them company and think about an activity like a face painter.

If you feel these measures aren’t enough you may contact the invited guests by telephone to politely discuss the options you’ve arranged and to relay your request.

Hi! I had a question about low centerpiece arrangements for oval tables. My florist suggested a linear arrangement of one 5×5 and two 4 x 4 cylinder vases to fill the weird table shape. I don’t know if this is the best way and how to add candles/votives to the centerpieces. Is it worth it to splurge and get round tables for the extra cost or do you have any suggestions on how to do this?

Oval tables at weddings can have a regal presence, signifying a more dramatic and unusual setting. We like them as they’re a step outside of the norm. Your florist’s idea of assorted arrangements is great as it’s making the most out of flowers, but we’d take it a step further and dress up the holes and gaps in the oval with an abundance of votive candles and little starlight arrangements in julep cups or a single bloom in small containers dotting the table. These pieces will add pops of color and texture while not being over-the-top or too expensive. They’ll compliment your main centerpieces beautifully. Also think about offering table-side wine service or having wine bottles on your table along with sparkling water in decorative carafes. Even the smallest and simplest details will fill in your table perfectly.

Also, my venue requires to use one of their florists, and unfortunately their blooms look discolored and wilted! Is there any way to get out of this “kickback” the venue receives and go with my own florist or is it a hopeless situation if I signed the contract already unknowingly that this would be an issue?

Without knowing what your venue contract stipulates, it’s a little hard for us to advise on the options you have, but if you have a planner ask them to contact the venue directly to express your concerns with the florist. If you don’t, approach your venue in a kind way and relay your concerns about the vision of your flowers and the quality, which all plays into the ambiance and the success of an event at their venue. The venue should want nothing but the best for you and for you to be thrilled with your wedding, so chances are they’ll be flexible or open to an alternative. If they offer more than one option for a florist, sit down with the others to discuss their services.

Should your venue not be flexible in letting you bring in an outside florist {or only offer you one option}, sit down with the florist they are enforcing and express your concerns for your vision, the freshness and quality, and ideas. The florist should also want nothing but the best and a successful event. See if you can all sit down as a group {you and your fiancé, your venue, and the florist} to discuss. The florist will surely want to stay in good graces with the venue; providing fresh, quality blooms should be high priority. Make sure that everything is also spelled out in a contract with the florist so the expectations are clear.

However you approach this, don’t take a defense stance but rather show your desire for working with the venue and florist to create an impressive show-stopping wedding and breathtaking flowers. The bottom line is that they should all want the same as well! Good luck!

Once again Aleah and Nick have blown us away with their never ending wealth of knowledge!  These two definitely know their stuff!  A big thanks to them for taking time out of their own busy planning schedules to help out our readers!

If you want a little wedding planning help make sure you LEAVE YOUR PLANNING QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENT SECTION and come back next month for the answers!

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Valley & Co.