Planning Resources Archives - Sweet Bough Wedding Collective

Legal disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any sort of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, or any other legal matters.

Maybe you’ve read through my last post, and noticed that I seem to focus a lot on worst case scenarios – I’m proposing that we all write wills, have healthcare proxies, write prenups … what’s the deal? Aren’t wedding planners supposed to be all about rainbows and tulle and everlasting love?

Well, I’m sure some folks could dive deep into my psyche to figure out where all this comes from (possibly from being a child of divorced parents) but regardless of the source, I have a deep interest in learning how to build and maintain happy, loving and lasting partnerships. By all accounts, one thing that helps in building a strong marriage is open and honest communication…and that’s where prenups come in!

(What exactly IS a prenup? It’s actually pretty simple – it’s a contract that you and your partner write and agree to before getting married…more details to follow!)

In this post, I’ve decided to try to guess all of the reasons you may be against getting a prenup, and then do my best to argue the opposite…. here goes!

I don’t want a prenup. They’re only for people who don’t think their marriage will last.

Here’s what two different lawyers I interviewed said about prenups: everyone has a prenup.

You either have created your own, or you have the divorce law of the state of New York (or whatever state you’re in), which functions as your prenup.  Getting married has legal ramifications – but writing a prenup is about choice & the autonomy to write your own rules! So to answer the first point – basically, without  writing a prenup, you’re just agreeing to the law of NYS sight unseen.

As for the second point – it’s not all about divorce. Yes, there are elements in a prenup about what would happen if you and your partner went through a divorce at some point – but it’s also about charting your financial future together, putting in place protections for each other (e.g. wills, healthcare proxies and trusts) in case anything were to happen to either of you, and ensuring that you are entering into your marriage with full financial disclosure.

Prenups are like getting home insurance. Just because you get the insurance doesn’t mean you think your home will burn down. It just means that if anything happens, you already have a plan in place. And plenty of people get home insurance and then never have to use it! The same idea applies to prenups.

And I truly believe that going through the process of really figuring out your financial future and goals strengthens your relationship, and probably makes it less likely that you’ll have to use the prenup at all!

But aren’t prenups all about messy legal fights & aggressive lawyers?

They don’t have to be! The collaborative law process for prenups approaches these agreements in a radically different way than the traditional adversarial approach.

First – in collaborative law, couples are coming together to create an agreement that works for both of them in an open, respectful, positive and orderly environment.  All four parties involved – two lawyers and each half of the couple – sign a collaborative participation agreement, ensuring that everyone adheres to agreed upon principles throughout the process.  Once everyone has signed the collaborative participation agreement, those same lawyers are disqualified from representing the couple in case of a court dispute or contested divorce. That allows the prenuptial process to be carried out in a safe space, since what you say during the process of writing the prenup can’t later be used against you by either of the lawyers that helped you write the initial agreement.

The lawyers and the couple then work as a team to come up with creative solutions to meet everyone’s needs as best they can – in the collaborative process, a prenup is built from the bottom up, to meet the goals and priorities of the couple. The process also allows for honest conversations in a supportive environment, and gives the couple experience in how to reach compromises and practice compassionate listening when discussing difficult topics.

Won’t all my friends and family think this is all about money/not being sure of our relationship/etc…etc…?

This is a private process, between you and your partner. No one else has to know you’re writing a prenup if you don’t want them to. That said, I think it can help build a strong and healthy foundation for a marriage, and there’s no shame involved in writing one.

So, should all couples go out and write a prenup?

Not necessarily! The laws in place in NYS might work just fine for you and your partner – maybe you already have a financial plan in place, or already have wills – and it’s possible you don’t want to opt out of any of the existing laws that are part of the default prenup.

I’m making the case for being fully informed and and knowing what you’re getting into – you can’t know if writing prenup is the right option before you know what your options are.

OK… I’m a maybe. How can I find out more?

Schedule a consultation with a lawyer that practices collaborative law and works on prenups! I’d recommend finding an attorney that’s listed on the website for Ithaca Area Collaborative Law Professionals: http://collab-law.com/participating-professionals/.

I’m getting married next year/next month/tomorrow.  Is it too late to start the process?

A prenup is not a rush job. Give yourselves plenty of time before the wedding to get everything in place – ideally the whole process would be done 5-6 months in advance, so that you both can focus on other things before getting married! (Like planning a wedding!)

How long a prenup takes to write up really depends on the needs of each couple – most couples will likely need 2-5 group meetings, so it’s a good idea to budget at least 10-12 weeks. However, more complex agreements could take longer.

That said – let’s say your wedding is in two weeks, or you’re already married. You still have the option to write a postnup (it covers the same elements as a prenup, but is written…. (you’ll never guess!) after the nuptials).

Happy prenupping!

With love,

Rachel

Rachel is the owner of Kinship & Company, a wedding planning & event coordination business in Ithaca, NY and one of the co-founders of the Sweet Bough Wedding Collective.  For more information about planning packages (from hourly consultation to full wedding planning), head on over to Kinship & Company’s Services page

It’s finally summer, and wedding season has begun!

Having worked on weddings exclusively in the Finger Lakes, I’ve had time to learn the nuances of events in our region. Those endless Pinterest pictures of summer weddings without a tent in sight? Maybe in Southern California, but this is verdant & lush upstate New York! (Verdant & lush being code for “sometimes rainy”…)

Asking a couple hundred people to spend their afternoon & evening outdoors can pose some logistical challenges, but with a little bit of forethought you can make sure the two of you & your guests are well taken care of as you celebrate your new marriage in the epically beautiful out of doors!

So without further ado, here are my 10 suggestions for outdoor summer weddings:

1. Provide water & lemonade (or just water!) to guests when they arrive before the ceremony (and have enough water on hand to last all night!).

You definitely don’t need to have the whole bar open when guests arrive – but it’s a good idea to make sure guests have access to some water before the ceremony, especially on hot days.  And be sure to have plenty of water around all day and night.  Oftentimes the focus is on having interesting cocktails & plenty of fine beverages (which is great – I love a good custom cocktail!) but people gotta stay hydrated.  It’s all fun and games until a great aunt passes out from dehydration! (True story! But don’t worry, she was fine. Even though she did have to go to the hospital to get fluids, so unfortunately missed the ceremony.  She hadn’t drank any water all day when she arrived for the ceremony… remember, not everyone is used to spending a lot of time outdoors!)

And make sure you have access to enough water. This is not an issue if you’re getting married at a standard venue – but if you’re getting married at your friend’s house out in the county, or some place that doesn’t usually host big parties, and they have a well and it’s been a dry year….you might not have enough water onsite for a couple hundred folks.  Bring lots of water in gallon or 5 gallon jugs – your caterer can help you figure out how much water to have on hand if you don’t have reliable access to well water!

2. Make sure guests have access to shade.

If possible, allow your guests to wait in a shaded area (either under trees or under a tent) before the ceremony starts.

3. Consider the ceremony location & ceremony timing.

The Ithaca Farmers Market offers a flexibility for ceremonies in case of icky weather. Many folks host their ceremony outdoors near the dock, but in case of rain, just back everything up 50 feet, and you’re under cover but maintain the gorgeous view!

What time will your ceremony be, and who will be facing the sun? If you’re still deciding on a ceremony time, consider choosing a late afternoon start time – sitting out under the sun midday can be pretty taxing for the two of you and your guests!

If you have already chosen a time for the ceremony to start, if you have any wiggle room with where exactly to hold the ceremony, it can be nice to make sure that all the guests aren’t staring straight into the sun.  That said – if the only place to get married at your venue is at a specific spot at an inflexible time and guests are facing the sun… they’ll make do, and be fine. Don’t fret about this detail – it’s just something to consider if you have room to make adjustments!

4. Have sunscreen & bug spray on hand.

If your reception is also outdoors, it’s nice to have a little basket of outdoor toiletries available…. You don’t need individual bottles for each person, but just having a small basket with a couple bottles of sunscreen & some bug spray can be a life saver for guests who forgot to bring these items with them.

5. Think about your comfort when choosing your outfits!

Imagine the weather on your wedding day when choosing your clothes… the outfit that might be fine in an air-conditioned ballroom might feel stifling & heavy outdoors.  An outdoor, summer ceremony might call for outfits that are a little lighter & a little looser.

And consider some back up clothing – it can be nice to have some back up clothes/shoes for the two of you, or some extra pieces to let you move comfortably from day to night… if it gets a bit chilly at night, maybe bring a shawl or jacket.  If it looks like it’s going to be smokin’ hot all day, maybe toss an extra button down in your car, in case you want a less sweaty shirt to change into later – whatever you need to stay comfortable!

6. Give permission to your guests to wear practical shoes.

If guests are set on their fancy heels for the ceremony, encourage them to bring a pair of backup comfy shoes for the dancefloor!

If your venue has a long gravel driveway for guests to walk down, if your ceremony is in a field… let your guests know this is not the right time to wear stilettos! And if there is a bit of a walk involved between the parking area & the ceremony site, it’s a kindness to give your guests a heads up.

7. Make sure guests have appropriate attire. 

Let your guests know that it can get a bit chilly at night, even when it’s been hotter than blazes during the day!  A note on your website in the section on attire can clue people into the fact that they might want to bring a light sweater, jacket or shawl & stash it in their car for after the sun goes down.

8. Provide nighttime lighting.

For an outdoor wedding in a field or a backyard, you’re likely going to be bringing in all your own lights. It’s a good idea to make sure you have plenty of light in areas where guests will be traversing uneven ground or walking through unlit areas.  Depending on your design vibe & access to electricity, you can choose between strategically placed tiki torches, candles (battery operated candles are best – they’ll last longer & will still be bright even if it’s drizzling!), lanterns or string lights in and around trees.  Battery powered mini-string lights are perfect for providing light inside a portajohn.

And during the day, get a sense for where ditches or other possible ankle-turning areas may be, and either block off those areas, or make sure they’re well lit!

9. Gentle reminders to guests about ticks & having a tick remover onsite.

When you live in upstate NY, you’re used to doing tick-checks after romping around outdoors all day.  Family & friends from out of town might not know to do this! An email a week in advance with some last minute information can easily include a little blurb about tick checks – something along the lines of:

“We’re so excited to see all of you at our wedding in just under a week! There are some last minute bits of information we’d like to share with you. First – our wedding will be held outdoors, so please wear shoes you’ll be comfortable walking on grass/gravel in – save the stilletos for another night! Second – it can get chilly at night, so we’d recommend tossing a light sweater or shawl in your car to grab after the sun goes down.  And third – we want to give everyone a heads up that there are ticks in this area, so it’s good practice to give yourselves & your kids a quick tick-check after getting home!”

And along those lines – it’s a good idea if someone at the wedding has a tick remover. These are inexpensive & sold everywhere – ideally, your coordinator or day-of person will keep one on them, and if a parent sees that their kid has been bitten by a tick, it’s easy to just take care of it right then & there, applaud the kid for their bravery & send them on their way!

10. Have a rain plan!

9 times out of 10, guests are there to have fun, and they’ll stay true to their mission despite the weather!

I know, I know.  You probably don’t want to think about it raining, after all the hard work you’re putting into your beautiful outdoor wedding!  However – there are couple of different tactics to take regarding rain.

First – oftentimes, we’re only talking about a passing storm.  If you can build in a little flexibility into your schedule, your day-of person or wedding planner can make the call to postpone the ceremony, open up cocktail hour, and see if the rain will pass in 15-20 minutes or so… I’ve done this a couple times, and it works out great!  Guests are happy eating & drinking while they wait, and the couple & the wedding party can be tucked away, sipping on champagne & snacking as the storm passes.  And as photographers will tell you – post-rain lighting is absolutely beautiful! If you go this route, make sure there are some towels on hand, in case the chairs need to be quickly wiped down after the cloudburst.

However – if it starts raining & it’s not going to stop – don’t lose heart!  Some of the most amazing weddings I’ve worked have been on rainy days. The event becomes so much more intimate as guests are all under the tent together, staying warm & dry and celebrating the couple!  Plus, rain on your wedding day is good luck.  So no matter the weather, you can’t go wrong!

And lastly… cultivate an expansive & accepting attitude towards whatever the weather may be.

Whether it’s rain or shine, know that you’re there to marry your beloved (which you’ll do no matter the weather!), and that the rest is just details.  Accepting & embracing whatever nature happens to throw at you that day can be a lovely exercise in acceptance – and you can put a positive spin on any situation.  If it’s raining all day and night during your wedding? You can always just get out there and dance in it!

With love,
Rachel

Rachel is the owner of Kinship & Company, a wedding planning & event coordination business in Ithaca, NY and one of the co-founders of the Sweet Bough Wedding Collective.  For more information about planning packages (from hourly consultation to full wedding planning), head on over to Kinship & Company’s Services page

As a wedding coordinator, I have the privilege of working with couples as they begin their lives together.  It’s important to plan a wedding that reflects both of your values and interests, while respecting your budget – and I work hard to make sure you both feel taken care of on your wedding day.  But I also know that a wedding is about so much more than just your wedding day – I mean, you’re spending the rest of your lives together!

Along these lines – I believe that it’s wonderful when you can have a lot of fun at your wedding, but I don’t believe that your wedding must be the best day of your life. That’s an incredible amount of pressure to put on yourselves, especially on a day when you have all of your family & friends together in one place – many of whom may not know each other, some of whom may not even like each other, and all of whom want to spend as much time as possible with you.

And as we like to say at Sweet Bough: your wedding is great and all, but it’s not a reflection of the strength of your partnership, or your worth as a couple.   We are here to support people – not just throw great parties! (Though we do love throwing great parties…)

There is so much more to think about than napkin colors! What if you own a house and want to figure out whether you should add your partner to your deed, or refinance and add them to the mortgage?  How will your partner’s credit history affect you once you’re married? What if you are planning to adopt your partner’s child? What if you are not a U.S. citizen, but your partner is? Who can help facilitate discussions between the two of you about issues that every couple faces (finances, relationships with in-laws, decisions about having a family, sex & intimacy, autonomy & privacy, goals & visions for the future…)?

Here’s who can help: lawyers, tax professionals and pre-marital counselors.

And guess what? We’re expanding the resources available to couples on the Sweet Bough website to help tackle these issues.   Our vendor directory will include all the usual suspects (florists, photographers, caterers, etc…), but we’re also adding lawyers, tax professionals & premarital counselors who are on board with the Sweet Bough mission, and are ready to talk to you & your beloved.  In addition, I’ll be writing blog posts and taking a deep dive into these different topics.

So. You may have gotten this far and are thinking: “Ugh. This is NOT the fun bubbly wedding planning blog post I was expecting! Prenups? Taxes? WILLS? You want me to think about what will happen if I DIE?  Please, take me back to the page where I can browse the top 10 DIY centerpieces!” …but stay with me! It’s not all death & taxes, I promise! (But honestly – it’s not a bad time to consider death and taxes when you’re getting married.  A will, health care proxy and power of attorney can be a beautiful way to make sure your beloved doesn’t have to deal with these things if something were to happen to you. But more on that in future posts.)

Here’s a quick preview of the articles to come  – feel free to suggest more topics, if there is something else you’d like to learn more about!

  • Taxes & Marriage – What will change when we get married, from a tax perspective? How can we prepare?
  • Collaborative Law & Prenuptial Agreements – Aren’t these just for really rich people? And doesn’t it make it seem like we don’t think our marriage will last? (Spoiler alert: No & no.)
  • Real Estate & Marriage – What’s the difference between adding my partner to the deed versus the mortgage? Is one better than the other?
  • Immigration Law & Marriage – My partner is not a U.S. citizen, but I am (or vice versa) – who can help us navigate the immigration system?
  • Wills, Health Care Proxies & Power of Attorney – What? And why? Do we really have to do this now?
  • Things to talk about before getting married & premarital counseling – Isn’t counseling just for people who have problems in their relationship? And anyway, can’t we just figure out all this stuff AFTER we get married?
  • DIY Officiating – My cousin is going to marry us! Yay! Also, um… what does she need to do to prepare?

We’re here for the party, but we’re also here the rest of it!

With love,
Rachel