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D.C. Metro Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning

10 Minutes with Washington, D.C. (And DIY!) Wedding Planner Sandy Malone

 10 Minutes With, D.C. Metro, Local, MD, DC and VA, Planning Tips, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on 10 Minutes with Washington, D.C. (And DIY!) Wedding Planner Sandy Malone
Nov 102015
 
Wedding Planner Sandy Malone

Photo: Getty Images

What would you say if we told you we knew someone who could make all your DIY dreams come true without all the stress? Meet Sandy Malone of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events in the Washington, D.C. area. (You might have seen her on TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.) Recognizing a growing need in the event planning industry and an opportunity to fill that gap, the pro planner decided to roll out an innovative new concept catering to crafty brides with busy professional lives: DIY wedding planning consulting services. We sat down with Sandy to get all the deets and learn why it's such a game changer for modern couples.

The DIY craze she couldn't ignore anymore
"Wedding planners never like to talk about DIY," says Sandy. "Why teach the potential clients to do something that we want them to hire us to do?" However, after planning more than 500 destination and local weddings and having to jump in to rescue far too many DIY couples mere months before the big day due to lack of organization, amongst other things, she opted to embrace the trend instead of ignore it. "The DIY craze that has swept the nation isn't going away, she explains. "And as an increasing number of couples wanted to DIY their weddings, I learned how to help them, rather than fight them."

The big test and what the typical client looks like
Prior to offering DIY planning services to the general public, Sandy and her team tested the concept. Most brides and grooms that jumped on board stat were busy professionals with a creative side. Go figure! "Some are control freaks who don't think they need somebody else to run their big day, but the key thing they have in common is that they're smart enough to realize that it doesn't take anything away from the DIY experience to get tips, advice and offload some of the grunt work onto somebody else." Um, you're telling us.

See More: 10 Minutes with Megan Ziems, Founder of Grace Loves Lace

Time is money, especially when it comes to wedding planning
Anybody with enough time can DIY their hometown or destination wedding, but as Sandy and her DIY clients quickly found out, having a little help from a professional, including sample documents, lists and spreadsheets, is truly invaluable. "It takes us less time, for example, to come up with a list of acceptable vendors at any venue," she points out. "Clients hire us for a set number of hours and have a variety of options for extending the package as the planning proceeds if they require additional assistance. It's their time and they control how it's utilized, whether that's negotiating contracts or writing their welcome letters for them, we're happy to take the task off the DIYers' plates."

Who you gonna call?
Fortunately, in the case of catastrophe, Sandy's team provides an emergency option if a DIY client decides they do need us "on the ground" at their wedding after all (granted they're available on your date, that is). Of course, you can still purchase traditional and destination planning packages, and she'll also be offering some seminar opportunities for DIYers and aspiring wedding planners in the coming months. With her new book How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional coming out in March, it's clear Sandy is on a mission. "My goal is to make DIYing your own wedding a better experience for others than it was for me when I planned mine," she tells us.

Jul 222015
 
Best Bridal Salons in South

Photo: Kelly Cummings of Spindle Photography

Sometimes in the great search for that one perfect dress, you don't even know where to begin. The answer? With an appointment at a top-notch bridal salon. In our new August/September 2015 issue (on newsstands now!) we call out the best 50 bridal salons — big and small, luxury and budget-friendly, boho and traditional — across America. How did we go about creating such a list? We asked more than 1,100 real brides nationwide to weigh in on the best spots to find that dream wedding dress by rating and submitting their own gown-shopping experience. From precious, personalized boutiques in the South to giant wedding dress meccas in the Northeast to intimate indie shops in California, we found them all. So take note, brides-to-be! These are our readers' favorite bridal boutiques in the South.

Ivory & White Bridal Boutique, Birmingham, Ala.
Been to a few shops but haven't found the One yet? On request, this Mountain Brook salon will reach out to its designers (including Monique Lhuillier and Hayley Paige) and set up a private trunk show of dresses that are exactly your style. "All my friends told me I had to come here, and now I'm recommending it to every bride I meet too!" says a reviewer.

Carine's Bridal Atelier, Washington, D.C.
Take it from D.C. wedding planner Caroline Dutton, who bought her own gown here: "Carine, the owner, treats you like gold, whether you're there for a sample sale or to buy a $15,000 custom gown." Also a draw: the well-curated selection of styles by haute designers like Angel Sanchez and Carolina Herrera. Says one bride, "Every dress in the store was on trend but still timeless."

Joan Pillow Bridal Salon, Atlanta and Houston
Both locations earned stellar reviews for gorgeous gowns (Romona Keveza! Mira Zwillinger!) and bend-over-backward sales consultants, who brides say are pros at finding the best dress for your body.

The Sentimentalist, Atlanta
Housed in a cozy cottage, this shop specializes in vintage gems and airy gowns from indie designers like Sarah Seven and Leanne Marshall. One bride liked the owners so much, she hired them to plan her wedding.

Chic Parisien, Coral Gables, Fla.
This glam salon features the sexy, close-to-your-body gowns that are all the rage right now. "Everything about planning my wedding was stressful except shopping here," says a fan. "I changed my dress three times, and they never once questioned me or charged a fee."

See more: The Ultimate Wedding Dress Guide: The Best Necklines by Body Type

Ever After, Miami
Fashion addicts flock all the way from South America to this famed salon to try on dresses by the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Inbal Dror. "I wanted to look unique, so they used the fabric left over after hemming my dress to trim my veil. I couldn't believe it!" says one bride.

The Collection Bridal, Winter Park, Fla.
Pulling from the area's largest selection of in-demand designers, like Vera Wang, stylists here know what they're doing. "They pushed me out of my comfort zone and into the perfect dress," says a bride. "It's not what I'd imagined, but it's exactly what I needed."

I Do Bridal Couture, Baton Rouge, LA.
Have a momzilla on your hands? "Ramsey, the owner, responded to all my mother's 4 a.m. texts and emails with kindness and patience," says a grateful bride, who loved the salon's fairy-tale vibe and killer selection (including styles by Austin Scarlett and Amsale).

Wedding Belles, New Orleans
Reviewers rave about the friendly staff at this Magazine Street shop, where you can browse dresses by Jenny Yoo, Lula Kate, and Dolly Pearl. "Everyone was so nice, and they pointed me toward great vendors and websites I'd never heard of!" says a bride. Tip: Walk-ins are welcome on weekdays.

Hayden Olivia, Charlotte, N.C.
Not only are all the dresses made in the U.S.A., but sales consultants are totally open to customizing them. Getting married in the cooler months? The salon has a selection of fur stoles and shrugs you can rent for the big day.

Maddison Row, Charleston, S.C.
This downtown boutique has all the designers label-conscious brides are looking for, as well as cost-conscious lines like Monique Lhuillier's Bliss. "The gown I wanted was going to be at a trunk show, but I was out of town that weekend. The staff made a point of getting it in early so I could try it on," says a bride.

Maggie Louise Bridal Boutique, Collierville, Tenn.
Molly Farrell, the salon owner — a former wedding photographer and a recent newlywed — asks her clients to fill out a questionnaire and talk to a consultant before their appointment, then has a rack of handpicked gowns by the likes of Anne Barge and Liancarlo waiting on arrival. "I've gone dress shopping with many friends in many cities. But I've never seen anyone go to one salon and pick out her dress in two hours the way I was able to," says a bride.

Julian Gold, Austin, Tex.
Reviewers couldn't gush enough about Judy Dupre, the bridal manager at this boutique department store. Says one, "I went to a ton of salons in Houston, but after just 20 minutes on the phone, Judy sent me a link to my dream dress." Bonus: There's a lingerie department, so you can do your honeymoon shopping too.

Warren Barrn Bridal, Dallas
Brides in this city take their wedding dresses very seriously, which makes this haute salon's near-perfect reviews even more impressive. (Raves one: "The place is amazing, and the service is from the heart. It looks like a palace but feels like home!") Expect chic styles from Reem Acra, Lela Rose, and Watters, plus an insane selection of luxe lace veils.

For even more of the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES August/September 2015 issue on newsstands now and available for download.

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