Unveil Your Story

We recently blogged about the importance of a budget. Today we are going to cover how prioritize your budget to tell your story.
Some of the best weddings and events we’ve planned or coordinated are the ones that incorporate aspects that truly represent our clients. 


Matt and Ali love the lake. They both grew up one the water every summer. It was only fitting that they arrive to their reception on their families’ sail boat. 


Darrin and Amber both graduated from Purdue University and grew up on the farm. Their wedding was a true representation of “telling your story. From the fire pits to the home grown pumpkins and gourds it was an honor to help them create a unique experience for their guests. 

Maybe you’re wondering how do I do this for my wedding or event? Here are the first steps we ask our clients to do.

1. Tell us your story. How did you meet? How did your organization start? What’s your mission statement? What do you do for fun? What words to you want your guests to use to describe your event at the end of the night?

2. Prioritize! What’s the most important to you? Is it the food, decor, entertainment?

3. What can you do realistically do yourself? Or a less expensive version of? Do you need high end invitations or could you do a design from Etsy and print at your local printer? Or could you do a later start time and serve heavy hors d’oeuvres vs a full meal? Maybe your event could utilize sponsorship to help with event costs. 

4. Is it cheaper to buy & resale items rather than rent? Think smaller events. Many times it’s easier to buy linens and either have them for future use or resale after your event. This means pick classic colors that can be reused and fit broader needs. 

We’d love to help you make your event about you! Contact us today for a consultation on how we can help you save and create the event YOUR story. 

To DIY or Not?

This week has been all about budgets. Today we are going to cover what to DIY and what not to. 
Here are a few areas we encourage our clients to DIY:

•Favors. You can incorporate your bridal party, parents and in-laws to help. Just keep it simple and keep it personal. Maybe a magnet of the couple that says, “Thank you!” VistaPrint, Mint and Mpix are all sites to pop your picture in a pre-made template. Think of your theme and incorporate something easy into the table decor. 
•Invites. Etsy, Wedding Chicks and Mint make it easy. Find a friend with good handwriting and you can save yourself a few extra dollars by addressing them yourself.
•Buying your own linens. If you have 20 or less tables this maybe the way to go. On average rental companies charge $16.50 per table cloth. If you have colors that are on trend and not specially runners or materials it can be dramatically cheaper to purchase from wholesale linen websites. Plus, you can resell these items after the event and recoup some cost. 
•Set up and Tear down. You always have family and friends that want to help. Could they commit to setting up tables and chairs or tearing down at the end of the event? If so, many times this can save you a few hundred dollars.  
What NOT to DIY:

•Food or Cake. Many venues have strict policies about licensed caterers and bakers or an approved list you must choose from. They do this for your safety & benefit and theirs. Professionals know how to plan, budget and serve a large group. Plus, the majority of food items have to made within days of the event. You want to spend your wedding week with your friends and family, not stuck in a hot kitchen! 
•Photography. Unless your friend or relative is an experienced wedding photographer, it’s best to go with qualified photographers. Remember, pictures capture the moments and details that fade in your memory. 
•Florals. First, they are time consuming and need to be done, if fresh, right before the event. Second, being clear with your florist on budget means they can provide cost effective alternatives for your budget. 
•Planners or Coordinators. You best friend maybe really organized but if she’s not a seasoned pro then you need to stick with a professional. A good planner can save you, in many cases, up to half of their fee! They see the big picture and know how to guide you to the right vendors and ask the right question. They’ll also be able to use their past experience to work with your vendors on your wedding day and address any emergencies that arise.
DIY has become the new trend. Pinterest has cemented this trend “how to” and “5 simple steps to…” pins for everything under the sun. While we love a good craft and saving a few bucks there are many times it’s not worth the stress or ultimately ends up costing more than hiring a professional. 

We would love to help you navigate how, where and if you should DIY in your next event. Be on the look out for a special DIY Bride class we have coming in April. Or,set up a consultation with us today.

Your Best Friend: The Budget

Planning a wedding or large event has many moving parts but none of them move without money. It’s the part of the planning process that everyone dreads: the budget. 
Budgets are not the enemy. In fact, they are a great way to spark creativity and help prioritize your must haves. 

Don’t fall into the common budget buster pitfalls:

  • A case of unrealistic expectations of service & cost. Or, one simply underestimating the cost of services on the want list. 
  • Not being prepared for all the extra expenses that are needed. 

Talking to a client about money and how far or, in many cases, how quickly that hard earned money goes is not my favorite part of the process, but one I have to approach comprehensively. 

Why? Well many people are disillusioned about the cost of quality professional services. Aunt Milly may be the family baker but feeding 300 people a cake like the decorated one on your Pinterest Vision board is costly. The same goes with florals, decor, food, photography and all those miscellaneous aspects of an event that clients without planners don’t anticipate. Professional services come at a cost and they are worth properly budgeting for.

Here are 3 steps to help you begin.

  • Get a firm budget amount. Meaning If you have others(parents/grandparents) contributing, then know the exact dollar amount that they can contribute. Don’t bank on the fact that they’ll pay whatever the cost is because “they just they want me to be happy.” Believe me, everyone has a dollar amount limit – unless you’re Hollywood royalty ;-). 
  • Prioritize! What tells your story? What people remember are the items that made it personal not everything being Pinterest Perfect (read our thoughts on Pinterest here or here). This is where you should spend your money first and use the remaining money on the less important things.
  • Remember to include an incidental category. The areas people usually don’t remember are tipping vendors, invitation postage, event insurance, taxes and delivery fees. 

This week we will be posting about how to tell your story within your budget and what that means. If you’re beginning the planning process and want a consultation to go over your budget or recommendations on vendors that fit within your budget, please contact us! We have openings starting in February to assist in your planning needs. 


Balance: The Purple Unicorn

  Photo by Jaci Forshtay Photography

I am (Jeri) wife of 11.5 years to Matt, my high school sweetheart, and mom to 4 beautiful girls ages 7, 5, 2.5 and 1. When we started this business 3.5 years ago. I had 2 littles and wanted a way to get back into working part time and using my creative side for more adult ventures. Life was busy but manageable and frankly being able to have a few hours a month out of the house, talking with adults and using the part of my brain that I’d shut off for 3 years was a welcome change of pace. 
Then life got real. My husband was going back to get his MBA (Go Irish!) while traveling very frequently for work, I was pregnant with baby #3 (and had a very difficult pregnancy), business was growing and so were the needs of my family. In true Jeri fashion, I put my head down and managed a grueling schedule. I mean that’s what you do right? You just make it work because this is what I signed up for. 

Business continued to grow and we were so thankful for the people that believed in us and for the sacrifices our husbands and families made to see our little dream grow. Then I got pregnant with baby #4. Game changer! After thinking I was going to loose the baby, being on modified bed rest and being incredibly sick I had to say no. I had to realize that doing it all was not possible, nor was it healthy for my body, family or emotional state. 

God has a way of whispering the direction you should take. Unfortunately, I see those as suggestions and must learn the hard way. Learn from me, listen to the whispers. I was not only dealing with my physical limitations but my family was sick literally and figuratively. We were worn out and paying for the decisions of busy that we had been pushing through. Something had to give. 

  Photo by Jaci Forshtay Photography

2015 was a crazy year. We welcomed our 4th daughter and we were full of weddings and people depending on us. In my mind, I knew after I delivered the baby things would get moderately better. I knew how to handle baby & work and would have my “normal” body back but I was dreading the cycle of busy that was coming. 

After discussing this burn out feeling with Erin and Ally, we knew that we had to start making changes to our business. Setting boundaries, clearly defining our roles and getting back to the why of our business. 

First, we set business hours. Sounds so simple but it was huge. I’m the type of person that feels like when I get an email, text or request I need to deal with it now. So this gave me the okay to say no, it can be handled when I’m back in office mode not when I should be sleeping, in the moment with my family or on a rare date with my husband. 

With office hours set, I decided I needed to dedicate 3 mornings a week to business. Meaning I needed help with the kids. This was the hardest. The guilt of leaving my littlest girls when I didn’t do this with their older sisters made me feel like a bad mom. I felt guilty that I needed the Martin’s Starbucks to draft client paperwork, timelines, schedules and contracts and those mornings to schedule client meetings. The whole reason I started my own business was to stay home with my kids, right? Yes, but here’s the lesson I had to learn. If you want to be a business, then treat it like a business otherwise you have a hobby. Don’t get me wrong I sneak in grocery shopping and the occasion hair cut but I needed dedicated time to focus and to really be present for my clients. This also gives me the freedom to really be with my girls when its not my business days. To say no, this is my day with my kids and show them that mommy is reaching for her dreams but also caring for her family. So important as I parent 4 girls, I want them to dream big but know that they are and always will be my greatest gifts. 

 All of this to say that balance doesn’t exist. I love how Jen Hatmaker describes the “balance unicorn” in For the Love

“I’m not doing it all. Who could? I can’t. You can’t. I decided what tricks belonged on my beam and dropped the rest or figured out a way to delegate.” Chapter: Worst Beam Ever

Jen put into words the feelings I had been having for almost 2 years and validated my feelings that the guilt of not achieving it all was destructive. 

Take this away on how to juggle it all. Don’t. Simple, but so hard to implement. Figure out what’s stressing you out. Is it worth the space and energy you’re giving? Do you need to set limits like business hours or have a few hours a week or month out of the house to focus on your business? Map out your typical day or week. Really look at what needs to stay & what needs to go. Be honest and be willing to let go of things that just aren’t working for this season of life (see more on how we are do this in New Name, Same Faces). Giving it up for awhile doesn’t mean no for forever. It means no for right now and may bring opportunities you’d never imagined because you gave them the space to develop.

Pinterest Perfect

Pinterest. The popular, picture perfect site where all your house, body, and cooking dreams are stored. Your future wedding, even though you aren’t currently dating anyone, is all planned out. Your perfect nursery, even though kids are years away, is ready to go (guilty!). It can be the bain of your existence, or your best friend. Is there a right way and a wrong way to use it? I think so, and here is why! 
Right way: Pin pictures for inspiration! Where else is there a single place to go and be able to save every recipe, paint color, and workout that you’d love to try one day? Pinterest is great for getting your creative gears spinning, and providing you with new ideas that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. I’ve tried some great recipes that are my husband’s and my favorite ones. I have been able to create some pretty cool crafts, which hopefully I can share in another post. I haven’t quite got to the workouts yet, maybe this year 😉 Share your ideas with others too! What did you like about your pinned recipe, what didn’t you like? Most importantly, have fun dreaming and creating while using Pinterest! I am so thankful to have a one stop shop for some of the best ideas on the internet.

Wrong way: Pin pictures and expect your house/wedding/body to look exactly like the pictures. I’m here to tell you a secret. Many of the “weddings” seen on Pinterest are actually styled shoots, where vendors get together and create the perfect photos. This means they can plan on perfect weather, the couple are models, and they didn’t pay a dime for what would cost a normal couple thousands of dollars. Vendors donate their services to be able to have a creative collaboration with other vendors. This is great for vendors to get their names out and build their portfolio. Just don’t ever compare yourself to the pictures you see on Pinterest. Do your best with a craft or recipe, and hopefully you will love how it turns out! Sometimes I get discouraged when a recipe doesn’t work out, but I have to remember that I’m also not the chef behind the pinned recipe, and I can only get better for the next time.

Don’t let social media control how you live your life! It doesn’t matter how many times your pin was “repinned” or “liked”, what matters is who you were able to spend time with while creating that pin and making new memories.

Don’t be “that friend”

I grew up going to a pretty small private school and my principal made some “interesting” curriculum choices. One such choice was using a textbook for our Health class titled “Health, Safety & Manners.”

Health? Of course. Safety? Understandable. But to teach manners? Fourth-grade Allyssa thought it was absolutely silly because, “Everybody already knows this stuff, Mom!”


Naivety sure is cute.The older I get *ahem, still AM getting* the more I am realizing many things that are seemingly simple to some are foreign concepts to others- proper etiquette is no different!

Our goal with our business is to give you the tools to create a memorable gathering- from weddings to birthday parties, we want every event to be special! But nothing spoils an event quicker than someone who, knowingly or not, doesn’t follow basic event etiquette! Here are some tips to ensure you’re not “that friend.”

  1. RSVP- On time, EVERY time
  2. Offer to Bring Something
  3. Thank-You Cards
  4. Stay OFF the cell phone!

RSVP- On time, EVERY Time: We will address wedding etiquette in a separate post, but this applies to all gatherings! We all respect the need to double check your calendar or make sure you can get a babysitter before committing to being somewhere… But seriously folks, RSVP. Nothing stresses out a Type A hostess than finding out she’s having four extra people for dinner last minute.

Offer to Bring Something: Each and every time I was invited to a friends house for dinner, my mom encouraged (i.e. Required) me to ask what I should bring. The majority of the time the answer is nothing. But asking does two things. First, it shows your host that you realize that hosting takes work- not a TON of work, but there are no dinner elves who prepare food for us while we sleep. And second, it opens up the door for you to become a part of the event. The more you participate and share in the experience, the more that event may mean to you.

Thank- you Cards: Write them. Send them. Seriously. I’m sure you said thank-you in person when receiving the gift but taking two minutes to show an extra sign of gratitude goes a long way! There technically is a proper format for thank-you cards to follow, but any card is better than no card.

Cell-Phones: Admittedly I think I struggle the most with this one! But nothing is more frustrating than when you want to have some quality time with friends or family and their face is buried in their phone. I like to think that I can multi-task but really it means that NO one gets 100% of my attention. As a new mom, it’s a big deal for me to get out of yoga pants and put lip gloss on – especially on the same day!! If I’m hanging out with you it’s because I truly want to spend time with YOU, not just 50% of you. Take a few minutes to silence it- maybe keep it in your purse the whole night! Don’t worry, Facebook will still be there when you get back- your time with your friends and family may not.


Perfection Perception 

Hospitality not Perfection

Remember when we use to invite people over for dinner and didn’t spend a full work on Pinterest figuring out the perfect napkin fold, best crock pot recipe or origami place card bird? Loaded question I know and offender right here!
Don’t get me wrong I love Pinterest. My three thousand pins speak for themselves. But I think our idea of hospitality has been altered dramatically by this inspiration site. It’s become a standard of perfection that we won’t achieve. Let me blow your mind a little. The majority of those pins are staged! They don’t have little people running around, strict budgets, amateur cook/baker(s) or just an iPhone & non professional for a photographer.
Now I’m not saying I don’t love a beautiful table, a good theme and delicious food because I do. A LOT! But what I’m saying is our expectations are out of whack. Our guest are coming to celebrate with us, support us and be there with US not our centerpiece. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn too and I’m still a work in progress. It’s easy to get swept up the perception of perfection, but it’s dangerous. When we place the value on perfection, we loose the whole point of hospitality. Perfection becomes the priority not the people.
So what does this look like in real life?

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. I love to cook and style/decorate. However, I am not a professional baker , graphic designer or photographer. When I host a party or gathering, I’ve learned to see the areas that stress me out and delegate, live with or, if the budget allows, hire out help.

2. Budget and stick to it! This is the best way to not get swept up in the perfection perception. When you know you only have set amount available to spend on each area it makes you make smart decisions.

3. Think if I was a guest at this event what would make me feel special. It could be as simple as serving your guest favorite cocktail, wine or personalizing favors. Or even just making 15 uninterrupted minutes of time to focus on just each guest.

4. Know you are your biggest critic. Most people are more than thrilled to not have to cook, clean up, get out of the house away from their kiddos, etc. Your expectations are mountain peaks, your guests are hilltops.

Rally against perfection! Follow us as we take back hospitality and embrace the imperfect on My Simple Soirée.

New Name, Same Faces

2015 was an amazing year for bon évé! We took over the bridal expo, were booked to capacity for weddings, welcomed 2 new babies into our company, and collaborated with a lot of great vendors.

Most people would say, “great keep doing what you’re doing and don’t change a thing.” While there’s a time & a place for that concept, we have a desire to do more. Mid 2015 it became clear that as our families grew, being gone every weekend was not healthy for our families and wasn’t going to work in the long term. We felt our creativity had also dwindled and we needed to focus on what we were truly passionate about moving forward.

We’ve always been selective in our clientele and capped our events to ensure that we are giving each client and event the time and focus it needs. It’s never easy turning away a potential client or saying no when we are all very much the first to say yes. We know going into 2016 that our families need to be the priority #1 and focus on our true passions.

For 2016, we will be limiting our full service planning packages to 2 couples for the calendar year and we will be taking day of coordination services only on a case by case basis. Why? This is an involved answer so pull up a cup of coffee or tea and hang with us for a bit.

1. Weddings are wonderful, joyous occasions and we LOVE being apart of a couples’ story but they are a lot of work. Work that keeps us away many hours from our husbands and children so taking 5 full weddings in a year (like 2015) was cause for burn out. We love our past clients. You were AWESOME! But we need to step back in 2016 & refill our creative tanks to be the best planners we can be.

2. We have varied backgrounds and interests. Jeri’s background is in non profit event management and fundraising. She loves it! I mean it’s a bit odd how she looks forward to one of the hardest conversations: asking people for money but the organizations she’s worked with are grateful for her passion for their causes. Erin’s background is in corporate event management. She’s the lady you need for training needs, luncheons or team building. Ally our resident baker & go to idea lady can fill the gaps when we just can’t see other side. Invaluable! Knowing we have these different talents we want to open the business to incorporate and match what makes us so unique.

3. Vendors! We’ve connected and worked with some FABULOUS small biz owners. The expo has been a huge blessing. It’s shown us that we love to mentor other small business owners by helping them brand, focus and market what makes them the best. It also has given us the opportunity to really create and collaborate with vendors. This creativity is what has helped fuel this change.

So what’s the change and why is it unique? There are 2 changes.

1. Our new name is My Simple Soirée

2. We will be focusing on creative and taking on a new side of event planning.

First the name. We wanted to rebrand the company and have it be reflective of the direction we are taking moving forward. My Simple Soirée will encompass full event planning & styling services along with an online DIY party store. Soirée Boxes will be available for any celebration you’re planning. A collection of hand selected items to make your soirée one to remember. Your Soirée Box will be delivered to your home and all you need to do is set up your special celebration. We will include detail cards to help make keep your soirée simple and focused on the people that make your life special.

Second the creative. By providing Soirée Boxes, taking on fundraisers, non-profits and corporate events and focusing on vendor relations we are getting back to the core of WHY we started this company nearly 4 years ago. 2016 will have opportunities for vendors to connect with one another, to help us connect them with clients and collaborate with one another. We’ve been watching the industry for 3.5 years. We see the gaps, we see the struggles and we want to help facilitate a solution.

Thank you for reading this small book. We know that 2016 will present challenges we haven’t foreseen but we are so excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.