#StayHomeSeries: Local Wedding Planner Donates Time To Brides Whose Weddings Have Been Cancelled

A couple’s wedding day is one they look forward to from the moment they realize they’ve found “the one”. The months (or for many couples, years) of planning leading up to the big day can be a whirlwind of emotions from excitement at the moment of proposal & celebrating milestones in selecting the perfect vendors, to the more stressful times in juggling family emotions, vendor contracts, finances, and somehow staying on the same page with your significant other. Yet no couple could have possible prepared for the shock of a global pandemic changing every detail they’ve worked so hard to perfect. For those couples going through the heartbreaking decision of cancelling, postponing or drastically changing the happiest day of their lives, it can take a heavy emotional toll. That’s where one wedding planner saw she had an opportunity to help.

When I first met Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning on the steps of the Harborview Hotel in Edgartown, I somehow felt that I had not just hired a wedding planner, but was about to make a good friend. As we casually sipped mimosas overlooking Lighthouse Beach where my husband & my engagement photos were taken, Sandy and I went over every detail of what our dream wedding day would look like. By the end of our conversation, it was impossible to imagine that just an hour before our new wedding planner had been a total stranger and there was no doubt in my mind that she was the person I trusted to guide our wedding planning journey.

While you’d never know it based on the personal attention she gives to each and every client to make your wedding the only one just like mine did, Sandy Brooks had 12 weddings booked for 2020. Yet with the Coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation or postponement or all major events, the bi-coastal wedding planner is now down to just four left on the books: and she understands better than anyone how painful her clients’ decisions to cancel or postpone have truly been. Engaged to be married herself June 20th, 2020 on Martha’s Vineyard, Sandy too had that difficult decision to make. “I have a different perspective on what I think is going to happen because I am a bride-to-be myself,” she explains. “I’m living everything as well and so for me, it’s about my business, but it’s also about being fair to my clients.” With her wedding date right around the corner, Sandy knew that not only she but all of her other brides would have to act fast.” The second I moved my wedding, I promised my July brides I’d call them first and explain my decision and why. Even if the ban is lifted, there will most likely be restrictions on events and we just can’t see us having the wedding we have been creating the past two years. My fiance’s family, groomsmen and friends are coming from CA which makes us worried. His parents are 70 years old and my dad has been sick the past ten years, making this decision even harder.”

As she has been navigating the re-booking of her own wedding while continuing to guide her clients, Sandy began to receive message after message with brides-to-be all asking the same question: What do we do? “There’s a lot of brides on the island that were getting married on our same  weekend, and people asked how I made my decision.” While normally consulting a wedding planner is a paid service, Sandy found she couldn’t turn away from the brides’ cries for help. “The first thing I had to ask is: Do you have a wedding planner? I didn’t want to step on any toes!” she explained. “I wanted to be a friend to these girls because if they can’t even afford a wedding planner, who do you come to? Your photographer or florist might have an answer of what they think based on their business, but I’m actually engaged and going through this with all my vendors, too.”

So, what advice did she give? “It’s really important to make a backup plan early and ask vendors to put a soft hold on those dates as couples will not only be competing with 2021 brides for dates, but other 2020 couples that are forced to reschedule,” explains Sandy, who was heartbroken to learn that one of her selected vendors wouldn’t be available for her new date once she rescheduled. Not only can it be stressful emotionally to lose a vendor, but there’s also the task of re-sending the stationary, re-working the guest list to adapt to any changes in who may or may not now be able to attend-all while facing any fees involved with these changes. Fees, Sandy says, can be a touchy subject with couples already spending a fortune on their dream day. Thankfully, Sandy has the unique perspective of both a bride and a vendor to help explain why some charges make sense-and others don’t. “My industry is suffering so much, which is why people are trying to keep their September and fall weddings in place,” she explains of how vendors are losing money as cancellation after cancellation of their summer events roll in. “Some want to keep waiting and waiting, but I think just being really honest on your perspective and having a plan will put their minds at ease.” For one of Sandy’s clients, a vendor had refused to move an already set wedding date. Yet suddenly, a grant became available and all move fees were able to be waived. While it can be frustrating to understand as a couple already experiencing a worst-case wedding scenario of a mandated cancellation, Sandy knows that while some clients can’t afford the extra fees, vendors are scrambling to salvage the little business they can. “I know what it feels like, so it’s really hard for me because I have to explain to my clients why they have to charge. Many vendors will need to pick up side jobs if this doesn’t end soon. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck. we are just coming out of our off-season and were really needing these events to survive.” The good news for brides? Some companies that are in a position to help are being very understanding, such as printing companies offering complimentary postcards to send out to guests with the new dates. “There are vendors out there that don’t just want money. I love talking to people and hearing stories, and telling mine. It’s a really hard time that people are going through.”

Being such a heavy subject, the reactions from those Sandy has talked to have been “extremely understandable,” she says. “The first bride I had to move, I got on the phone and she was like, ‘Wait your texts aren’t bubbly, whats going on?’ We talked it out, and she wanted to move the dates so I came to her with a plan. At first she was fine, but then she started bawling so I just knew we had to say ‘Okay, grab a glass of wine, we are going to do this together!’ ” How has Sandy advised her brides to cope with this stress? “You have to take it week by week. Start making guests lists of 50 people, then 100 people as there could be social gathering restrictions. Ask yourself, would even be the wedding you would want?” Yet moving the dates isn’t for everyone. For some brides, Sandy says, a 2020 wedding is taking on a whole new form. “Know that you can still get legally married this year, and party the following. One of my brides is also a wedding planner, and they decided to do a styled elopement in Palm Springs,” she explains. “Have your day to bawl your eyes out about these changes, make brownies, then the following morning make coffee and make a list of ten positive things happening in your life. You WILL get through this!!”

#StayHomeSeries MASK. MATCH. CHALLENGE!

Who’s up for a challenge you can do from your couch?! Everyone? Okay, good.

Let’s start by introducing you to David, the Founder of DocPPE that launched an incredible new startup in response to the need of extra masks not only on our front lines, but in our communities. A software developer for 20 years who has founded his own companies and attended law school, David was inspired by his wife who witnessed the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) herself working as a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. As she continuously shared her concerns, David being an entrepreneur himself felt compelled to do something.

“From start to finish, we’ve been doing this for four weeks. I had the first design done in 4 days, tested within five.” David’s team, which consists of several family members, friends & manufacturers, also includes his wife: she donated her two weeks’ vacation time to devote it instead to getting the necessary supplies out as quickly as possible. “We’re working night and day to get these things out,” he explains. “My wife is a great woman and donated her vacation time to make masks. I don’t know how you get much better than that, to be honest.”

An American-made product with a facility right at home in Boston, David says he’s been taking calls constantly. “It’s crazy because we have a live chat on the site so it comes to me directly. I’m the one who answers, I’m the one who’s there and people are like: Are you real? Ae you in America? Is this a real thing?” The skepticism, he says, is understood. “Because everybody buys this stuff online and they’re not getting it, they want that assurance that they’re actually going to get what they pay for.” To ease concerns, David has taken to giving out his personal cell phone number. “We’re for the people, by the people.”

So, what’s this challenge we’re talking about? If you are able to donate anything from $5-$500 (of course, more is always welcomed!), David will match that donation of masks to go to either front line workers or Navajo Nation, who do not have access to PPE. “If you donate 500, we’ll match it with another 500. When friends start sharing with friends making this a competition to get it to healthcare workers on the front lines.” The response so far, he says, has been overwhelming as they have partnered with Blue Sky Entertainment to get well-known athletes like Andrew Raycroft & Charlie Coyle to show their support. “Everybody’s starting to come out and they want to help. It’s so nice to see the communities, the personalities and different celebrities come out and want to help people.”

So far, DocPPE has been able to donate supplies to Boston hospitals such as South Shore, Beth Israel, and Mass General Hospital. Want to join in and help? Donate here and challenge a friend to do the same!: https://docppe.com/donations/

Tackling The Weirdest Place To Decorate: The Bathroom

It’s the one room that many of my friends and family have come to me struggling with: WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS BATHROOM? We all spend time in it every day. We all want it to look nice when we have guests over. Some of us are fortunate to have large, spacious bathrooms and interior designers on hand to tackle them, but for the rest of us that may have a slightly cramped space that you just want to look nice, it can pose a challenge. How do you make those three necessary fixtures of a toilet, sink and shower look welcoming?

The biggest tip I give people is this: it ALL starts with your shower curtain. And if you have sliding doors or another design where you don’t need one, even easier! Think about it: it’s the biggest statement piece in the room unless you have a massive floor-to-ceiling painting (which if you do, should STILL match your shower curtain by the way!). It’s what people see when they first walk in, and those colors should set the tone for the rest of the room. Sticking by the rule of three color tip and one consistent theme, your shower mat and towels should BOTH match your shower curtain and its theme (i.e., beach theme, Parisian theme, etc.). If you’re one of the lucky ones that have a walk-in shower/sliding doors I mentioned before, make sure those two pieces match each other along with every other piece you bring into that room.

Let’s talk about theme for a second: what does it mean to stick to a theme? Well, it means that sometimes even if you’re following that rule of three colors, if you have a navy, blue and white shower curtain with an anchor that screams “we’re nautical in here”, while your Patriots canvas may match the shower curtain perfectly by COLOR rules really isn’t the best place for it because that would fall under a sports theme. Believe me, I know this is hard. At the end of the day, what I always say is it’s all up to you: do you want this room to match, or do you want to throw it off because you can’t move ONE piece to the other room? If your answer is that you really want that one piece in that one room, there’s only one option: change your theme for the whole room to match that one piece. It’s annoying, I know, and trust me when I tell you I’ve been there centering an entire room around a piece of wall art I couldn’t live without. The pink & gold in my closet? Yup, I spent a week re-painting a dresser to match the theme of a gold mirror & pink Marilyn Monroe sign I couldn’t let go of. I feel you! Was it worth it, though? Absolutely! Now every time I walk into that room, my spirits are instantly lifted at the glamorous space I was able to create for myself because I decided not to be lazy and just keep that dresser teal.

Now, let’s talk about what we did in our bathroom to put that into perspective: when I walked into our new bathroom, we had white walls and grey flooring with THANKFULLY a matching grey sink. Immediately, I knew I had two colors to work with: grey, and white. Loving both of those colors, I chose not to add a third (remember, three is the MAX amount of colors, not the required amount to stick by). That being said, it made it super easy to pick the colors for our shower curtain. After showing several to my husband that we couldn’t agree on, I finally found it: one that said “Get Naked” in pretty script writing. It made him laugh, and it looked pretty for me. Done deal, and now every time I come into the bathroom, I get a good chuckle, too!

Getting to work, I was off to TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods to find the PERFECT plush, white shower mat to match the white lettering on that curtain since the floors already have that grey. While I was there, I also picked up a white and grey patterned soap dispenser and toothbrush holder for all under $15. (These were GREAT investments because you don’t have to worry about the cucumber melon soap looking out of place, and have a holder to match!) Since the walls are white, I opted for a chrome handle bar to match our fixtures and grey towels from Target. Next, it was time to look into my own decor inventory and see what matched. Large white mirror? Yes. Grey & white heart-shaped sign? You bet.

The final touches were what went above the toilet. With little sink space, this meant a neutral, clear accessories holder. Next to that, I chose to take a clear flower vase, some beads from Michael’s Craft Store, and add faux flowers I’d purchased on Wayfair. Before I knew it, voila…our small bathroom was done! All by keeping things consistent, we created a space that was both pleasing to the eyes & functional.

Do you have a space in your home that you’d like a little help with? I’m here to listen! Email me at emmalyn@emmalynreid.com and I’m always happy to help in offering any tips/advice for any space!

Cleaning Out My #Cloffice

Yep, you read that right: the “Cloffice” trend is spreading like wildfire and I’m ABSOLUTELY here for it. Since moving into our new place, we traded the giant walk-in closet in our old place for a short walk to the beach & easy access to the city-it was SO worth it! However, it did leave us with one *slight* issue: while my husband’s clothes could all fit in the dresser & small bedroom closet, WHERE DO I PUT ALL MY CLOTHES?!?!

While originally we’d planned to turn our spare bedroom into the traditional guest room, we realized the closets were just plain too small no matter what we did. After much research into this new “Cloffice” trend of having a closet/office, I began to use what we had to design a glamorous, feminine space where I could do my hair & makeup with a cup of coffee in the morning or sit in the evening and write blog posts like this. (Am I doing that right now? MAYBE!)

Starting with the rule of three, I selected the same colors from our wedding: blush pink, gold and white! It was an easy choice not only because they’re my favorite color scheme at the moment, but because I already had most of the decor items I needed to make this happen. This is key whenever you’re decorating on a budget or simply have pieces you can’t imagine NOT having in the space you envision. For me, I wanted the room to be centered around a giant gold family heirloom mirror that belonged to my great-grandmother that I could get ready in front of every morning. There was just one problem: the dresser I wanted to use was teal & gold instead of white & gold! As you’ve seen in the past though, I’m by no means afraid to get my hands dirty and slap a whole new coat of paint on something, so that was my first order of business. I chose Ultra Pure White by Behr and made sure to use painting tape to cover the gold areas I wanted to keep, and take off the drawer pulls before I got started. Once the paint was dry, I thought about what I wanted on my dresser that doubled as a lingerie chest & holding hair/makeup/office products (yes, that’s a v wide range, but remember: CLOFFICE VIBES!). I had this GORGEOUS tray from Homegoods that was a perfect white marble/gold combo on which I could place my makeup brush holder and have as my workspace. To the right, I wanted to have one of my favorite scents, Yankee Candle’s Sparkling Extra Dry candle, light pink flowers as an accent (easy to find both flowers & vases at Dollar Tree & Michael’s!) and of course my signature scent on hand, CHANCE by Chanel. I also put to use these PERFECT white & gold coasters that were made by a close friend as favors for my bridal shower since I love personalizing our space, but you can find some that would match easily at Homegoods/TJ Maxx or even on sites like Amazon or Wayfair.

Of course, I needed to have all my hair tools on hand as well, so I spray painted a silver hair tool organizer I got from Amazon gold (if you want to buy new, you can go here!). To help dress the walls, I found white & gold picture frames also leftover from our wedding that we’d found at Dollar Tree, and printed out my favorite photos of getting ready on our big day!

Nearby, I knew I’d need to have my jewelry on hand. I used this pretty gold table from Wayfair and placed a tray I legit found at a thrift shop on top to hold my pearls & earrings. Above it, I hung my favorite chandelier painting from Oliver Gal and placed a pretty table lamp for ambient lighting. In the center of the room, I placed this pretty rug from Safavieh (one of my favorite rug brands!) that I was SHOCKED to find for such a great price at Target!

Now, let’s finally get to what started this whole project in the first place: MY CLOTHES! Instead of putting damaging holes in the wall with hanging wire racks, I opted for rolling racks that are really reasonably priced on Amazon. Since a lot of light comes into this room, to make sure my clothes didn’t fade from the sunlight I grabbed pink quatrefoil curtains from Job Lot and some gold curtain rods (again, from Wayfair!). For that dirty laundry and those clothes that don’t really need to be hung, I grabbed a couple of gold & white baskets from Homegoods.

Before I knew it, I had SMASHED #ClofficeGoals mostly by using things that I already had! If you’d like to create your own, let me know if you have any questions and what your color scheme is – I LOVE looking at creative new spaces 🙂

Helping From Home: Miss Pink Organization Asks For Cards

It’s the reason why places like Hallmark make so much money: a simple card is a quick and easy way to say everything from I love you, to happy birthday, or even just a ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you.’ The thing we forget from time to time as we rush between soccer practices and parties or back and forth to the grocery store for toilet paper is that ultimately, it’s the thought that counts. Which is why I’m encouraging you to grab whatever you have on hand regardless of if that is a stack of blank cards, construction paper and markers, the whole family or a friend over FaceTime to get started on making someone’s day just a little bit brighter.

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we all know that people around the world are struggling in many different ways. At the Miss Pink Organization, they understand the everyday struggle of those who have had or are currently battling cancer to both avoid the virus at all costs to protect their weakened immune systems while still receiving chemotherapy treatments. “Right now, anybody going to a hospital to have chemotherapy or anything relating to fighting cancer- you’re going in by yourself. Most of the time that’s a 5, 6, 7, 8 hour day hooked up to a machine. At this point, I don’t even know if they’re letting them walk around in the hospital. They’re just there with nobody to hold their hand, nobody to talk to,” says Fabianna Marie, Director of Pink Warrior Relations & Miss Pink 2017 who is a survivor herself. What originally started as an idea to set up a team to FaceTime the warriors blossomed into a major mission: collecting handwritten cards from as many people as possible to help bring a smile to those going through treatment. Fabianna told me about one of the warriors she recently spoke to, and why she believes these cards will make such a big impact. “She’s 28 years old with a one year old child. When she was going for her infusion she was all alone. For her, me FaceTiming helped- it just made the difference between sitting there and feeling so bad for yourself hooked up to a machine where you know you’re going to be sick afterwards and then let’s put the pandemic on top of it all.”

The pandemic has added a never-before-seen level of stress for many of the warriors Fabianna has gotten to know through the Miss Pink organization, including herself. “When someone is immunocompromised, it changes everything,” she explains. “You don’t look immunocompromised on the outside, so nobody understands that I’m still going through it if I go outside the house. It’s a huge deal to stay home and be proactive with your own health when lot of people aren’t worried that .” Her own family has had some very difficult decisions to make in recent weeks. “My husband has been a Boston foreman on a construction site, and was the only one going outside the house. His major concern was, nobody else could bring (the virus) into our home other than him. So for him, it was the push and pull of: Do I go to my job and make money for my family, or do I stay home and take that worry off our plate? Until the government put that ban into place, he had planned to tell his boss that he would prefer to be laid off. He was scared,” she admits. Yet through this struggle, Fabianna is well aware that she is far from alone. “Anybody that’s going through that, we’re all scared. There is no other way to put it because we don’t know about tomorrow. We don’t know where this is going at this point.”

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: There IS something you can do about it! Just making a card with sweet notes of encouragement can bring a moment of peace to those who need it most. It’s a simple action that can not only help you pass the time during your quarantine (BIG SHOUT OUT TO YOU if you are staying home to protect others!!!!) but also serve as a fun activity to do with the kids, your significant other, or your best friends over video chat. If you have a bit extra to spare, you can even go the extra mile of chipping in a gas or grocery card for your warriors to help them make it through this time financially as well.

To see mine, check out the video I made below! (Please be kind as I test out a new editing tool this week working solely from my smartphone.):

More about The Miss Pink Organization: Our mission is to relieve stress of the financial burden that can occur during cancer treatment. This can be due to leave of absence from work, lost income or fixed income. We offer support through meals, childcare, cleaning services, gas and grocery cards, and other special circumstances that can interrupt the effectiveness of treatment on a case by case basis.