Personal Letter To Wedding Vendors

It’s about to get real.  I’m opening up for probably the first time in years to an industry that has my heart - the world of weddings.  

When I first started Always Planned you found me at every networking event, social hour and opening party.  I started my day with early coffee dates, and finished most nights hopping into bed with a mind full of ideas, business thoughts and a to-do list that never stopped.  I immersed myself in the world of weddings – attending conferences and workshops to further my knowledge and make important connections.  While my business grew, I expanded and added to my team, then I launched new concepts and businesses (Simply Love Studio), along with it came our own vendor parties and networking events, then educational nights and bridal shows for couples planning their ultimate day.  I was busy, incredibly busy.

While I loved every moment of launching and growing my business – the larger it grew, the more my personal life suffered.  On the outside life was perfect, and on the inside I was failing hard and I didn’t know what to do, or how to handle it.  So I worked more, and harder - pushing the issues in my marriage to the back burner.  We would take exotic vacations thinking some time alone would help, but it didn’t.  We would fight almost the entire time.  I would come home to my happy business filled with champagne and happy brides celebrating love.

Finally I had a car accident and well, with it, a wake-up call.  My life wasn’t the “happy” that everyone thought it was and the more I tried to “fake it” the more I became a fraud.  So I addressed it, we entered counseling and I gave my business some space, selling off SLS and taking some things off my plate so I can focus on priorities.  But, I’m stubborn and hardheaded, and well our issues were monsters at this point.  I was tired, and wanted to give up, but we kept going. One night, after 6 months of counseling we got into a huge fight and I was done.  Officially over-it and utterly crushed.  

I told few people what was happening in my life, and the world of weddings that I loved for years, that had became my home, my solace, my retreat – was now where I felt most embarrassed.  I lived in a world where the only thing we did was celebrate love – and I was getting divorced.  I was the ultimate failure.

So after years of being the social butterfly, I became the recluse.  Instead of networking events, I made personal time a priority and instead of coffee dates, I planned for cocktails with friends.  I found myself hiding from the world that I felt most at home, and my wedding business only brought extreme sadness.  My family didn’t understand and my friends didn’t really know.  I felt utterly alone.  

But, as hard as it was, I knew that this was the industry I belonged to.  Oh I was still running from the friendships I loved in the industry I adored - and still embarrassed at the fact that I was divorced now and “selling” couples on the idea of “lifelong love”.  But I never gave up.  In my failures I found myself - vulnerable, hurt, angry, hard at times, often weak, but in the end stronger than ever and always the hopeless romantic.  

It’s been almost 5 years now, and I still have embarrassment.  I still have an entire world that I have’t been honest with.  This is the first time I’ve shared this part of me with the world of weddings that is my home.  I find complete strength and awakening in being so real and open with you.  This is my love letter to my friends in the wedding industry.  Thank you for accepting me, thank you for always giving me the space I needed, and for welcoming me when I was ready to come home.  

Next year, my company celebrates 10 years and there is no way I could have done it without you.  In order for me to grow into the business woman I want to be, I have to practice what I preach.  I believe in transparency and today I’m facing my biggest fear – that I let you down.  I’ve written this countless times, but today I send it to you.  Please be kind, it’s not easy to admit that I’m not as strong as I seem.  

To grow and be better, we must first face the fear that keeps us from doing so.  Today - I slapped fear in the face.  It feels pretty great!

xo, Rayna

Introducing the new AP Wedding Planner – Lauren McGaughey

Guys, we could not be more excited to introduce you to the newest addition to our AP team.  We've been working away at perfecting every aspect to our client experience, and Lauren is the finishing touch.  From the moment we met for coffee, I had no doubt that Lauren is the perfect choice to lead AP into it's next phase. 

Her role as Lead Wedding & Event Planner means she will work directly with each of our clients to help them craft the perfect celebration.  Recently married herself, Lauren is obsessed with love and all things wedding.  We cannot wait to have her take the reins on the many details for our upcoming events.  Plus, she's a crazy talented graphic designer - so be on the lookout for new AP collateral. 

Please join me in welcoming Lauren to our Always Planned Family!

Talara & Chris - Part 1

This past weekend was a complete dream.  Dream client, dream venue, and the most dreamy team of vendors around – like I said - complete dream! 

Where to start?  First, let's discuss meeting our beautiful bride, Talara.  It all started when we worked a wedding with her - yes, she's a wedding photographer!  So imagine our delight when she got engaged and she instantly thought of Always Planned to help her plan and design the perfect day and celebration. 

I met Talara and her mom, Sanda, for coffee shortly after Chris popped the big question.  We have definitely had fun organizing all of the details and creating a sophisticated and relaxed garden setting for their wedding day.  

I'll write more about our planning later, but for now - enjoy these gorgeous images from the insanely talented Hope Taylor.  Just wait until you see the detail images!  Oh, and there's a video in the works! Stay tuned!

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Guys, we just can't get over how perfect this day was - the couple, the friends and family, the vendors, the flowers, the details, and that puppy!  Oh my!   Stay tuned for PART 2.

The Creative Team:

 Wedding Planner + Event Design: Always Planned

Photographer: Hope Taylor Photographer

Venue: The Gardens of Hickoryland Farms

Hair: Larry Buchannon | Makeup: Victoria Phillips

DJ: Matt Krupp from Select Sounds KY

Caterer: Sassy Spoon Catering

Gown Designer: Hayley Paige | Gown Retailer: Twirl Boutique

Videographer: Megan Angel

Cake: Lisa Wilhite Gregory

Modern Trousseau - Sophisticated Style

There are few things as important on you wedding day, as the dress you get married in.  You see, it's more than just a dress.  Twenty, thirty, maybe event fifty years from now you will look back at photos of your wedding day and you will see a young beautiful bride in front of you - and you will see the gown she selected - the gown you selected, to celebrate in, to dance in, and to love in.  You get one day, one piece of of clothing, one moment to say "I do", and one person to love for the rest of your life. 

If there is one thing we love more than the wedding dress, it's the hunt itself.  The moment you put it on, a rush comes over you and you know.  This is your dress.  Plus, you may choose to take some of your favorite people shopping with you, add in some champagne and the day just got even better!

We're excited today about a new dress shop, Modern Trousseau.  You may have heard of them.  They just happen to be the leader in couture bridal gowns hand-made in the USA.  Yeah, those guys.  Well, they're opening their very first flagship store in Kentucky, Louisville to be exact. 

A few more details about a fabulous new addition to the Kentucky bridal scene!

Modern Trousseau, leader in couture bridal gowns hand-made in the USA, sets to open their doors in The Henry Clay in downtown Louisville early this month. The company (headquartered in Connecticut) is known for their modern style, sophistication, and customization.

The hallmark of a Modern Trousseau bridal gown is customization. Modern Trousseau’s style, innovation, and quality make the brand a leader in couture bridal gown fashion. Modern Trousseau's designer, Callie Tein, uses the finest Italian silks and French laces, creating luxury, romance, and elegance in every collection.

Once your choices are made, and detailed measurements are taken, your gown will be constructed with love and care by our family of seamstresses at our Connecticut atelier. You may also shop for veils, hair accessories, and sashes to perfectly coordinate with your dress design.

Our goal is to design your dream —not just your dress.

We invite you to experience couture bridal first-hand.
Schedule an appointment today to begin making your wedding visions a reality.

To learn more about Modern Trousseau Louisville and book an appointment, contact Morgan Edwards at (502) 749-4773 or email,

We will have more about them as we build our relationship with Morgan - and there is definitely an open house coming soon!  We cannot wait to check it out... and maybe try on a few dresses... :) 

xoxo, Rayna


Price My Pinterest Board - AP Style

OK guys, you know the drill.  Engaged couple comes into your meeting, high on love and planning their dream wedding. 

You discuss how they met, what they want for the overall feel of their wedding day, the various important elements, and then the "budget" question comes up.  This may, or may not, be something they've discussed, but it's one of the most important elements of every wedding celebration.  We move onto decor and then they say... "I can send you my Pinterest board", or maybe you request it.  Either way, we know how important Pinterest has become in the world of weddings.   

We LOVE weddings.  Seriously, we do.  It's been our life since before we started Always Planned way back in 2008.  So we get it.  We know that Pinterest is the best – and the worst – thing to happen to weddings.  Now, you may ask "how can something so awesome, like Pinterest, be bad?"  Great question!!  And we're not saying it's bad.  Just that it can be incredibly deceiving.  Let me give you a few examples.  

Guest Tables:  Said couple has several stunning wedding reception tables pinned to their board.  Let's say they will have 275-300 guests and, to make it easy, they want all of the tables to look the same.  So roughly 30 guest tables.  Let's Price Their Pinterest Board.    

In our area, this setup would be $200+ per table.  This includes your linens, florals, candles, etc.  $200 x 30qty = $6,000

In our area, this setup would be $200+ per table.  This includes your linens, florals, candles, etc.  $200 x 30qty = $6,000

We could make the floral arrangement smaller, add a table runner, add tall candles, and glass chargers.  Surprisingly, this can be $220+ per table.  Glass charger plates can be anywhere from $5-15 each, depending on your area.  So for this centerpiece $220 x 30qty = $6,600

We could make the floral arrangement smaller, add a table runner, add tall candles, and glass chargers.  Surprisingly, this can be $220+ per table.  Glass charger plates can be anywhere from $5-15 each, depending on your area.  So for this centerpiece $220 x 30qty = $6,600

Here we've removed the charger, but upgraded the linen, added a mirror to the center, along with candles.  Again, the same estimates apply.  Anywhere from $150-$250 per table - inclusive of linen, florals and elements. 

Here we've removed the charger, but upgraded the linen, added a mirror to the center, along with candles.  Again, the same estimates apply.  Anywhere from $150-$250 per table - inclusive of linen, florals and elements. 

5 Wedding Planning Tips From The Experts!

5 Wedding Planning Tips:

1.  Book your major vendors first.  Start with your venue and/or planner.  Then secure your photographer, catering and band or DJ.  These vendors can often do only one wedding per weekend. 

2.  Be sure to select a dress and venue that go well together.  Both of these items play a huge part in the overall style of your wedding and reception. 

3.  Give yourself plenty of time to plan.  A great planner is invaluable, especially when time is an issue.  More time to secure the details will also make for a more relaxing planning period. 

4.  Don't forget your honey!  He/She is the very reason you're celebrating – make time to date without wedding talk.  Trust us, it will be good to take your mind off of the planning!

5.  Discuss the budget upfront & often.  Weddings are expensive!  Typically much more than most people initially expect.  It's ok to not know what things cost, but you will eventually need to know what the max you can spend is.  Hiring a good planner is well worth the cost and will help keep the budget in line!

What Your Wedding Means to Us

As wedding planners, we have pretty cool jobs, or we like to say so. Planning a wedding is not just planning an event for 200+ people, or about finding you the perfect cake (though we will), or an excuse to throw just any party; but it's really you giving us a chance to be a part of your life.

A wedding marks the start of two people's two lives just beginning and boy do we take such pride in that thought! We take our jobs very seriously because we want your every dream to become a reality.  And throughout all the wedding talk, cake and catering tastings, bridal consultations, scheduling, venue walk throughs and design expos, we forget to say two important words to you; thank you.

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Thank you for your confidence in us.

Thank you for letting us be apart of your new life.

Thank you for picking us to be apart of one of the biggest days of your life.

We are so honored to be your wedding planners and your faith in us will not soon be forgotten!

Plan Your Perfect Tailgate!

Tailgates and How To’s...

Whether it’s in a movie, on Pinterest or from seeing the people enjoying game day around you; you see it’s possible to have the perfect tailgate experience. But how, because when you think about what goes into it, how can one not be overwhelmed?

Well here are just a few simple steps to make your tailgate one to remember!

  • Tents - they may take some time to set up but this is one item that will define the space of your tailgate. It may be a bit of an investment but it will surely pay for itself over and over again. Plus, what’s better than a tent to be under come rain, shine or even snow?
  • Seating - chances are, if you are putting on a great tailgate, people will want to stay awhile. But, people may not want to stand for five hours straight so bring some cool seating. Folding chairs, camping chairs, big bean bags, barstools, whatever you can get your hands on. Your guests will appreciate the relaxation and want to keep the party going a little longer!
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  • A wide-variety of food- hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and bratwursts are all great for game days. But, how many hot dogs can one eat in a day? Add some variety to the line-up! Tell your guests their welcome to bring some goodies, chances are they’d love to. It’s a great way to take some of the pressure and expense off you but also an even better way to spark conversation and hospitality. “Hey Michelle that dip is amazing, how’d you do it?,” moments like that are great for camaraderie and learning. So send out a fun text or quick email to your fellow tailgaters and get the party started with all sorts of yummy dishes!


  • Drink of the day - now this is really fun, you get to play bartender! Experiment with some different alcohols and juices at home before gameday. Come up with some new ones and then title them accordingly; The Linebacker, QB Sneak, etc. Have some fun while you entertain your guests with your skills!
The "Big Blue Martini!"

The "Big Blue Martini!"

  • Details, details, details - last but not least, pay attention to the little details of the tailgate! What is it about these dream tailgates that make them so great…the details! Add a little fun and flare to your setup. Put some decorative labels or magnets on the coolers, get your team’s line of paper products, find some lights to line the inside of your tent, get fun markers to write name’s on cups, get a small chalkboard stand to write the menu on, throw some outdoor rugs down, provide face tattoos, the options are endless! The key to finding these details is trying to personalize your tailgate to your style, you’ll be surprised what you can think of.

Now of course there are millions of things we could list to provide you with a kickbutt tailgate, but now that we put you in the game, get to playing!! Remember, the best part about tailgating; you have all season long to perfect it!