All Articles Tagged "planning"

12 Signs Your Man’s Financial Future Is Bleak

May 21st, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

From YourTango

Balancing the family budget requires teamwork and setting common goals. People who are in love support each other through thick and thin—through good and bad financial times. Before you decide that he’s the right guy to marry, you need to take a serious look at how he views financial goals, choices and commitments.

Since the number one cause of disagreements in marriages is financial, it’s critical to observe if the guy you think you want to marry exhibits any of these 12 warning signs:

1. You are not on the same financial page. In fact, you disagree about almost all financial goals, choices, and commitments.

2. When you quiz him about his personal budget, it’s clear that he doesn’t have one. When you suggest that budgeting is a good thing and try to show him how to prepare a financial budget, he acts disinterested or feigns interest and never goes any further with the budgeting process.

3. Rather than pay off his credit cards each month, he pays the minimum. He often pays late or doesn’t pay them at all. This is a regular occurrence because he never seems to have enough money to pay his bills.

4. He is often out of work. He blames other people, the high unemployment rate or other circumstances beyond his control for his lack of employment. He often says that it’s just a temporary situation, but even when he’s working he doesn’t seem to keep a job for very long.

5. He excessively spends his money without regard to his income. It seems that he’s living far beyond his ability to support that level of lifestyle. When he wants something, he buys it without regard to what it costs or how he will pay for it.



9 Steps To Get Focused For 2013

December 28th, 2012 - By C. Cleveland
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Don’t you love that quiet lull the office falls into between Christmas and New Year’s Day? With clients and coworkers traveling for the holidays, the workplace can feel like an adult version of Home Alone. But, there are better things to do with your downtime than playing Facebook games or building towers out of office supplies with your cubicle mates. This is the perfect time of year to gain perspective on 2012, and get focused for the New Year. Follow these steps to make sure your mind is right for 2013.

Get Your Bags Ready! How To Plan The Perfect Girlfriend’s Getaway

July 27th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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From BlackVoices

The experience of a vacation with your closest girlfriends is an unforgettable one. It gives you the chance to reinforce the bonds that you have and allows you to form new memories. To make the most out of your girlfriends getaway trip, read our tips below:


  • Determine who’s traveling, select a destination, and set a date. Inform the essential parties (boss and co-workers, spouse, family, babysitter) and organize yourself well in advance so that everyone is prepared for your departure.
  • Share in the duties of planning by dividing up the responsibilities so that each girlfriend takes ownership of the logistics: airfare, hotel, rental car, restaurants and attractions
  • Bring recent photos to visually update each other on your lives

Get the rest of the travel-planning tips on


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Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Tips For Renting Gowns & How to Get Flowers For the Low

April 20th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas


“Where may one go to rent a gown, dresses and accessories at a reasonable price? I need a reasonable website to rent a gown and accessories.”

Taylor’s Answer:

Regarding rentals, I’m unable to endorse any particular company due to the fact that I have not worked with one for renting gowns so I’d rather not since I won’t be able to vouch for their credibility. However, here are a few tips on rentals in general as you browse around during the wedding planning process:

Always, always, always read the fine print: Don’t be naïve in thinking all is fine and dandy. Since you’ll be renting personal items, be sure to know what you’re getting into and what the consequences might be in the event that the items you rent are lost, stolen, damaged, etc. Also, be sure that you get all fees clarified prior to signing any rental agreements so you don’t end up paying additional fees you were not aware of. Make and keep copies of everything. Make sure to write down the correct style number, item number, sku number and more to be sure that what you paid for is what you receive.

Obtain wedding insurance: It’s always best to expect the unexpected. With wedding insurance, depending on the type of policy you select, you will be covered in the event that the vendor goes out of business, fails to show up, etc. Some policies even cover loss of deposits. At Elite Soirée | Luxury Weddings, all clients are required to obtain wedding liability insurance, and I’d recommend the same for you regardless of your budget. It’s very, very affordable with some plans under $100. It’s worth having for piece of mind on your wedding day.

Order with ample time in advance: Since you won’t be using your own items, be sure to order all rentals with ample time in advance in the event that what you receive is not what you ordered. If you give yourself enough time, then any errors can be corrected without you having to incur additional rush shipping fees. Waiting until the last minute will only cause frustration, and that’s the last thing you want on your wedding day.

Thoroughly research for any bad reviews: Whenever I’m researching a company, I always read the bad reviews first because I already know why I’d consider spending money on that particular company, so I’m more interested in knowing why I should not. Sometimes a few companies do, unjustifiably, receive bad reviews from irate customers for no valid reason. It happens, and it’s unfortunate, especially for online companies, but it also does help in the decision process of whether or not to use that company’s services and/or products. Take what you read with a grain of salt since not all bad reviews are correct, but research thoroughly before renting any items.

Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Tips to Finding and Buying the Right Bridal Gown

April 4th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas



Soooo my dress isn’t flattering on me or my body shape! Help!!!!!

Taylor’s Answer:

Dear Miss I’m-Too-Swexy-For-My-Dress,

I’m assuming you mean that the style of dress you’ve always envisioned yourself being married in doesn’t look or fit the way you thought it would now that you’ve tried it on at the bridal salon. Well, at least I hope that’s what you mean, and not that you actually bought a dress you’re now stuck with. Or, perhaps it was passed down to you from a family member? Whatever the reason, and regardless of how you obtained it, you obviously don’t feel confident in it. Every bride should look and feel gorgeous, so here are a few tips to helping those planning a wedding find the right dress.

  • Your once-in-a-lifetime red carpet moment.

I understand your frustration because you want to look your best on your wedding day. Every bride does since all eyes will be on you, and your wedding photos last a lifetime. If the first is true – that the dress you envisioned wearing doesn’t look the way you thought it would – I strongly suggest that you make an appointment with a very good bridal salon to enlist the assistance of a gown consultant.

  • Consult with a pro.

Rely on the bridal salon consultant for her expertise. There are many different fabric types, gown styles, and variations of the color white that will be daunting for any bride to try to figure out. Leave it up to the consultant to help you in selecting a gown in a fabric and style that makes you feel as beautiful in it as you look.

  • Do a dress rehearsal before you buy.

As you’re trying on gowns, pay attention to the bustle so you can determine if you can sit and move in it comfortably. You’ll be busy during your wedding, so make sure the dress you choose can keep up with you. For instance: Try sitting, hug someone in the salon, do a little spin, dance a little, walk around for a bit, etc. After all, these are all of the things you will be doing. You won’t be standing in one place at your wedding, so give it a test run before buying.

  • Fabric matters.

Find something you like in a style, fabric, and design that flatters you, then worry about the cost. Even if you’re on a restricted budget, you can still try on some of those high-priced designer gowns. You may find a style and cut that suits you perfectly. Armed with that information, from there you can find the same style in a fabric that’s less expensive. Also, be sure to have a slip on so your undergarments won’t be seen when direct light is on it such as sunlight, or other bright lighting such as flashes from all the photos your guests will be taking of you. And lastly, before you buy that hot lace lingerie set from Victoria’s Secret, keep in mind that bra cups are usually sewn into the gown, and if the fabric is thin, your hot little lace number will show.

  • Being measured for your gown.

Be sure to have the shoes you plan on wearing so the length measurements can be done properly. Also, have the undergarments you’ll be wearing to suck you in, cinch your waist, lift your bust and more on during measurements. Note: If there is anyone else besides your doctor who will know, your seamstress would know if you’re pregnant, so be honest and upfront about it if you are since it will affect your measurements.

  • Gown shopping.

Only visit one salon at a time. Going to several salons in one day can be tiring, especially the laborious task of getting in and out of heavy wedding gowns. The fatigue and stress will affect how you feel and the way you see yourself by the time you get to your last salon appointment.

Taylor Lea Thomas is an award-winning celebrity luxury wedding planner, and CEO of Elite Soirée, Inc. – the #1 luxury wedding planning company in the world devoted to the art of creating luxury weddings with an emphasis on style! For more information, visit Follow Taylor on Twitter for more tips and advice as you navigate this wonderful milestone in your life of planning your wedding: @taylorleathomas

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Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: 6 Things to Remember When Planning Your Wedding

April 3rd, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas


Just engaged on Valentine’s Day! Help!!!


Congratulations on your engagement… and he proposed on Valentine’s Day! Awww, he’s so romantic. Remember to continue to keep the romance alive during your wedding planning progress. He started you on this wonderful journey you’re about to embark upon by proposing to the love of his life on the most romantic day of the year. Continue that romance throughout. Don’t switch it up on him during stressful times of wedding planning – and trust me, the stress will come. Here are some tips to guide you through the wedding planning process early on:

Give yourself plenty of time.

Enjoy the engagement period. Bask in the joy of all the well wishes and congratulatory hugs and kisses. It’s a good idea to space the wedding planning process over the course of a year. Some venues and churches have waiting lists for couples wanting to get married, and some of the best wedding planners and wedding photographers get booked quickly. By allowing yourself a lot of time to plan, you can enjoy this journey you’re about to embark upon with a little less stress.

Get organized.

Purchase a 3-ring binder with tab inserts. Keep proper record of everything – payments, vendor contracts, business cards, inspiration clippings from bridal magazines, guest list, etc. Purchase a calendar for things wedding related ONLY to keep track of appointments, meetings with vendors, cake tastings, menu sampling, scouting for the perfect venue, and more.

Don’t obsess over your wedding.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the things to be done in planning your wedding. A lot of my brides say to me, “I’ve never done this before,” and I always assure them that that’s a good thing, and that I hope they never have to plan another wedding again. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay if there are a few little hiccups here and there. It happens. No wedding is perfect in the same manner that no marriage is perfect. Relax, breathe and enjoy the process. You have a social life, friends and family. Do activities with them that don’t include talking about the wedding. Your wedding planning folder is not the Bible–it isn’t sacred. You don’t have to take it with you everywhere you go.

Remember that grooms are just not that into planning weddings.

Avoid bombarding your hubby-to-be with daily wedding things. I assure you that as much as he loves you, he’s not going to be as into the planning process as you are.  Grooms are notorious for that. It’s just like taking a man shopping for a dress or shoes – they’re just not as into it as women are. One of my favorite wedding quotes: “I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance, a church filled with family and friends. I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for, he said one that would make me his wife.” And that’s all that matters.

Keep it in perspective.

Your wedding day is one day. Put as much effort into your married life as you would in planning your wedding. You have the rest of your lives ahead of you. The one single thing that makes a marriage legal are the vows exchanged in front of the witnesses who sign. A lot of people are not aware of that. It’s not the marriage certificate; it’s the vows. Make the words you exchange on your wedding day meaningful and heartfelt and don’t feel like you have to go overboard if you don’t really want to with planning your big day.

Don’t go into debt planning your wedding.

Set a budget and do not be tempted to exceed it. Do not go into debt in planning your wedding. Nobody wants to start a union with the stress of extra financial debt hanging over their heads. Read my previous article on lowering your guest count as it will guide you on dealing with the guest list since that factor determines every other aspect of the wedding planning process.

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Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Planning a Destination Wedding

March 27th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas


My question is about the average cost of a destination wedding in the Caribbean. How many people should be invited to a destination wedding?

Taylor’s Answer:

Dear Miss Caribbean-Bound,

I wouldn’t generalize it by saying there’s an average cost for a destination wedding in the Caribbean because there isn’t. It really depends on your budget, their schedule and your desired location.

Avoid high peak seasons.

Cost varies based on your desired location and wedding date. Before falling in love with a venue, make sure that it can accommodate all of your guests and that it fits within your budget. If the location you have in mind is well known for a particular event, such as Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago in February, realize that just about everything would be at a higher rate. Hotel rates especially would be at a premium. This is, of course, if you’re even able to book a room. So when scouting for locations, be sure to also ask about any upcoming events that may conflict with your wedding date.

Popular mass market wedding packages vs. personalized and private venues.

As you know, the Caribbean is vast with a myriad of stunningly beautiful venues to choose from. There are popular wedding destinations such as Jamaica and the Bahamas, for instance, where you’d be offered several cookie-cutter wedding packages to choose from at very affordable rates. With those packages, however, your wedding would look like the one before, and the wedding before that one, and so on. Thus, while those packages are very affordable in an effort to generate a lot of sales to the venue, realize that you’d be thrown into the tourist/foreigner wedding category. On the other hand, there are other uber-exclusive and very private locations where you can truly personalized your wedding knowing that your wedding would reflect you as a couple.

Your guest count depends on your budget and their schedule.

The number of people you invite to a destination wedding depends on your budget. Some rates are calculated on a per person system. The reception is intended to entertain your guests with food, drinks and great music for dancing. In addition to taking into consideration your budget to determine size for entertainment purposes, another factor is the schedules of the people you plan on inviting since some of them may not be able to attend. Send out save-the-dates well in advance so your guests can make the proper arrangements.

Keep costs down for both you and your guests.

Negotiate special rates to help your guests keep their costs down. Encourage your guests to stay at the same hotel where the wedding will be taking place as opposed to a different hotel. Keep in mind, if you have a certain number of rooms booked and too many people stay offsite, you’d end up paying for the room anyway.

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Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Choosing a Color Scheme…All Black Everything?

March 21st, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas



Color schemes that are in this year???

Taylor’s Answer:

Dear Miss Trendy,

Black. Black. Black. All black everything. Actually, the color scheme of modern black and white has become extremely popular. There are even black wedding dresses! Vera Wang designed one herself (stay tuned). The modern black and white color scheme is very chic. As a matter of fact, when we meet with clients for the first time, we always give the bride our signature white roses tied with a black satin bow and adornment wrapped in clear black & white damask sheets. Here are a few ideas using this new black and white trend:

Black invitations with color: This invitation design is a very easy DIY project that just takes a little time and effort on your part. Purchase black damask design card stock from a craft store such as Jo-Ann’s (my personal favorite as it carries an extensive array of textured papers) or Michaels, etc. Fold in thirds, glue one side to secure it all and use a half inch wide satin ribbon in your wedding color to bring the entire look together. You can accent it with an adornment or simple crystal. Print out your invitations on a high quality card stock paper and insert. It’s super classy, very modern, oh-so-chic, and an affordable DIY invitation.


All-white furnishings with black accents: Create a lounge for your cocktail hour by renting white sofas/chairs and tables very inexpensively and accenting them with black pillows, lamps, etc.

Color with black accents: Whatever your wedding colors are, accent with black using black napkins or vases, and to make it pop, use lots and lots of candles. Candles create a very romantic ambiance, and it’s one of the very best secrets for designing on a budget because candles are so inexpensive.

Overall Modern Black & White Damask Wedding Design:  If you really want to be trendy and have a modern wedding, go all out with the black and white theme. When combined, the look is amazingly sophisticated. In addition, it can actually save you a lot of money since most venues use white table cloths and napkins which come standard, so all you’d have to get are black accents. Color rentals are more expensive than just white.

Black wedding dresses: Okay, okay. I know this one might be a bit of a stretch for more traditional brides who envision walking down the aisle in white, but black wedding dresses are in. Vera Wang, the undisputed queen of wedding gowns, unveiled a black wedding gown during her 2012 Bridal Collection at New York’s Bridal Fashion Week. And think how slimming wearing black is. It’s genius!

Photos courtesy of Elite Soirée | Luxury Weddings

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Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: Newly Engaged and Planning a Wedding…HELP!

March 12th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas


I just got engaged and I’m trying to plan my wedding. Help!


Dear Miss Newly-Engaged,

Congratulations on your engagement! You are about to embark upon one of the most important milestones in your life – planning your wedding. Right now, you may be feeling overwhelmed with everything that has to be taken care of, but take your time. Once you’re engaged, it’s easy to get inundated by the excitement of everyone around you. That’s to be expected – encouraged and enjoyed. After all, a wedding is not an everyday event! Soak in the moment.

Allow yourself plenty of planning time though. I suggest a solid year from proposal to wedding day. In those 12 months, you’ll be making many, many decisions about seemingly everything. You’ll need to scout for the ideal location, pick the perfect date, decide on a dress for yourself, your bridesmaids and help coordinate the menswear as well. You’ll be deciding on the myriad of beautiful invitations that are now available, not to mention having the dreaded task of working on the guest list – arguably one of the hardest and most stressful parts of planning a wedding.

Then of course there’s the interviewing and hiring of vendors for everything from the food to the flowers. You’ll also have to organize the menu, go for cake tastings, arrange for transportation and accommodations for out of town guests, choose the music so no one’s bored at your reception, plan the honeymoon (if you want to take one right after the ceremony), and many more details you never anticipated. This is why it’s important to give yourself a lot of time to plan. Over the course of planning your wedding, you’ll undoubtedly change your mind about this and that, and that’s okay. It is, after all, your day. Just make sure time is on your side.

As you begin planning, have a frank discussion with your fiancé and determine what you both want as you envision your wedding day and how much you both can afford. It’s very important that you set a realistic budget to avoid getting into debt in planning your wedding. Ask yourselves what you can realistically afford, and stick to it! Many couples end up spending more than twice their initial estimate and that’s not a good idea if you can’t afford to go overboard.

Once you decide on a maximum guest count based on what your budget will allow, do not be tempted to exceed it. (If you need help in cutting the guest list, take a look at my previous article on how to reduce the guest list without being rude.)

From the very start, be organized. Get a calendar for only wedding related things, get everything in writing, make copies of everything and create files to keep track of payments, deposits, contracts, etc. As you browse through magazines for inspiration, tear out pages or print out pictures to create your inspiration board. Planning a wedding requires a lot of organization, of course. As long as you and your fiancé have a clear and set budget, firm guest count, and you’re organized, try your best to not let the pressure of planning your wedding create unnecessary stress between the both of you. Remember that this day is a celebration of your love together as a couple. It’s only one day. A loving marriage is the end result. Again, congratulations on your engagement. Happy planning.

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Ask Taylor, The Wedding Planner: How to Lower Your Guest List Without Being Rude

March 5th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Taylor Lea Thomas

“How can I lower the guest list without being rude? Invitations have not gone out but he and I both have big families.”

Taylor’s Answer:

Handling the guest list requires diplomacy, for sure. The size of your guest list is dictated by your budget. Take the time to have a frank conversation with your groom by asking yourselves, “How many people can we realistically afford to entertain?” If you’ve set your heart on a certain location, this may also limit the number. Each side should have a set number of guests to invite. Once you’ve set a maximum head count, don’t be tempted to exceed it. Don’t rely on a dropout rate either because you’ll be in trouble if all your guests accept.

The easiest way to fix this issue is to draw up a list for both of you with three columns: “Absolutely Must Invite,” “Would Be Nice to Invite,” and “Maybe” – then start eliminating names. Admittedly, this is a difficult process, but start by dropping people you haven’t seen for several years or just don’t keep in touch with very often. You’re not obligated to invite co-workers or a plus one for your friends. Most couples draw up their guest list with their parents which can certainly make creating the guest list even more challenging if parents feel their share of the list should be larger than you or your groom may like. There may be distant relatives they may want to invite for etiquette’s sake, while you’d rather invite more friends. Here are two possible solutions since you and your groom both have big families:

1) You can have a two-tiered reception by inviting a small group of your closest family and friends to the wedding, and have a party later in the evening to which additional guests are invited – there should be a separate invitation for the after-party because you can’t give everyone the same invitation and then tell them they can’t attend a certain part.

2) Or better yet, invite more people to the wedding, such as in a large church, and keep the party/reception afterwards more intimate. Also, though you might think it’s common sense, it’s good etiquette to send an invitation to your groom’s parents, and if you’re having a church wedding, one to the minister as well. Stay formal with things. On top of that, set a cutoff date for sending invites and send out invitations no later than six weeks before, and never less than three weeks before – your friend or relative may be insulted.

In the end, be honest with those you can’t invite if you can’t afford a large reception or a large wedding ceremony, and set guidelines with your parents so that they don’t try to invite everybody they want (and people you don’t want). Lastly, whatever you do, don’t get into debt by planning a wedding for more guests than you can realistically afford; it will only cause friction in your marriage two years later when you’re still paying off that massive credit card bill.

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