Erin McLean Events is a boutique wedding planning + design team specializing in elevated design and exceptional service. Based in North Carolina, We create Southern couture events for the fanciful at heart. Our team of creatives orchestrate seamless and lovely occasions that are true to our clients.

Planning an Outdoor Ceremony!

As we approach Spring (And by the way, don’t forget to “Spring Forward” this Sunday for Daylight Savings Time!) we head into the busy wedding season and lots of outdoor ceremonies. One challenge some Brides face when choosing a garden or park is where to wait before the ceremony begins – somewhere to stay hidden from guests and the Groom before walking down the aisle. A very easy  and inexpensive solution is to rent materials to create such a space. A simple pipe and drape set up in a square shape (ask for white draping) or a small 10’ x 10’ tent, are perfect options available from most rental companies. If you want to dress it up, hang garland or moss wreaths to keep the outdoor feeling of the location. Include a full-length mirror and additional ceremony chairs along with a cooler of chilled water (and champagne, of course) and you’ve got a wonderful staging area. It can double as a quick getaway spot immediately following the ceremony for you and the Bridal Party to celebrate privately before gathering for photos!

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Tia’s Wedding Tip Thursday! Rehearsal Dinner Planning?


Today I share a great solution to what has lately been a hot topic of – shall we say lively discussion – with many couples. Namely, who exactly should come to the rehearsal dinner when almost all of your guests are from out town? When the Bride’s family wants everyone to be invited but the Groom’s family wants to limit it to just the Bridal Party, things can get tricky. I offer this solution: embrace the intimacy of a small “Bridal Party Only” rehearsal dinner and then plan an after party for all the out of town guests. This after party can be as simple as picking a place and time and meeting everyone there – you don’t necessarily need to provide food and drink but a round of drinks and some snacks or platters would be nice. Or, you could book a private location and provide food and drinks for everyone – something simple like a semi-private space at a restaurant works well. Even easier, a hospitality suite at the hotel most of your guests are staying at – or just ask them to meet you at the hotel bar. Keep it simple, easy, and then gracefully bow out a little early so you aren’t out too late before the big day. Everyone wins with the compromise!


Wedding Tip Thursday!
Aren’t Ring Bearers and Flower Girls just the cutest little things you have ever seen? Or, perhaps they have been one of the bigger problems at a wedding you’ve attend? The truth is, when you are working with children, anything can happen. If you want children in your wedding, there are a couple of pointers that can help make them the adorable angels you picture them to be instead of tiny disasters.
First off, I highly recommend you choose children who are at least five years of age. I know folks may think that their two year old is very mature and can handle it – I’m telling you, five is the magic age – older is even better. Second, they definitely need to be at the rehearsal and you need to have someone they love and trust there with them. Allow their mother or favorite big sister escort them through the process at the rehearsal several times (perhaps have them come a little early to practice) with all the props they will be using and then let them try it alone. One of the things they should practice is what to do after they get to the end of the aisle and the Bride enters. I recommend that what they do is promptly go sit in the audience with that loved and trusted person who they practiced with. Children are simply not designed to stand still and quiet for the length of a ceremony. Don’t set them up for failure by expecting them to stay put and be fascinated by the vows and ring ceremony. They are much more likely to be fascinated by the flaming candelabras and head straight to them. Yikes!
Okay, so the day of the wedding comes, they’ve rehearsed, they know what to do. Now, you introduce an extra reward – something they will get after they do everything they are supposed to do. Something they could quietly play with would be a perfect option. Don’t dress them until they have to be dressed, then give them a big pep talk and see what happens. The most important thing is to remember that they may not do what you think they will…but as long as you can laugh about it and move on, it will be okay.
Last but not least, talk to their “go to” person about when it is time to just pack it in and remove them from the ceremony space. Trust me, if the children start to have a meltdown, don’t force it and just move on. Talk to the child’s caretaker about your concerns and boundaries so that there is no question the day of the wedding. You can still have them in pictures and enjoy the fact that at least you did your very best to include them! But hopefully if you follow these tips, you’ll have those cute little angels you were dreaming of.
Thank you Sweet Life Photography!
Happy Planning!
Wedding Tip Thursday!

We love our family!

But what about working with family? Well, maybe it can be a little tricky…more than tricky, actually. I usually recommend avoiding using family as vendors for your wedding plans. However, sometimes it is unavoidable or just makes sense to use a family member. If you choose to use family, please, please, please only do so if they are a professional baker, florist, photographer, etc. Don’t compromise scores are the same way. your dream wedding to give a family member “a chance” or “experience”. If you have a professional vendor in the family that you use, remember to keep it just that – professional! Ask them to treat you like any other client – schedule meetings, ask for a contract, request a proposal outlining their responsibilities and costs. In turn you should pay them a deposit, sign the contract, clearly state your vision and expectations, over communicate and then pay them in full and on time. The key is to remove any “understood” agreements or assumptions. If you keep things professional, it will keep them professional!

Tia's Wedding Tip Thursday!

Take a load off! It’s time to delegate some wedding to do’s to the Groom. Consider using the list below to get him involved. Most guys really do want to do something for the wedding…the key is picking responsibilities they will actually enjoy doing. In my experience, these items are Groom-friendly and will elevate some of the burden you are carrying.

  • Plan the Honeymoon (I highly recommend a travel agent…they know all the secrets on how to get upgrades, and resorts, etc. tend to give agent’s clients just a little extra special service.)
  • Coordinate transportation – for the entire Bridal Party and Guests, if needed (A nice touch is to have private transportation for the Bride and Groom from the ceremony site to the reception and to your final destination.)
  • Plan wedding night location details (Bed & Breakfast, fancy hotel suite, whatever suits your style!)
  • Coordinate whoever he would like to give a toast and let them know in advance so they can plan accordingly (Extra tip – either pick someone who won’t drink too much or plan it early in the timeline to avoid any “unexpected” toast moments.)
  • Pick the music lineup with the reception DJ or band (You can discuss specialty dance songs together and remind him to pass on your desires if you’d like all the music to be “family friendly”.)
  • Choose a specialty cocktail and name it
  • Confirm times and locations with his family for all rehearsal, ceremony and reception details
  • Have wedding bands and engagement ring professionally cleaned

Of course, there are several other things that the Groom can help with along the way, but this is a great list to get him started. He’ll soon feel connected and know that this isn’t just the “Bride’s Day”, his opinion matters and you want him to be part of the planning.

Happy Planning!


Tia's Wedding Tip Thursday!

While out and about, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for items to help make your wedding special. I have found some of the most memorable décor in the most unusual places. Holiday sales of any sort can be treasure troves for garlands, ornaments, candles, containers, and so on. Those crystal brooches that are 75% off after Valentine’s Day may be the perfect addition to  your bouquet.

Flea markets and garage sales can provide amazing metal work, frames, and inexpensive furniture. You could use those old iron lanterns to light up the path to your ceremony entrance. Antique jewelry – especially brooches – can be gorgeous on the wedding cake or as gifts to the bridesmaids. Consignment shops often carry a random assortment of very cost effective vases…when paired on a table, they are fantastic for centerpieces. (And could double as the guest favors!) You may not automatically think of your wedding when visiting somewhere like Southern States – but you can find bulk stones and glass rocks, twine, burlap, seed packets…all sorts of items that may fit with your wedding theme. Gather these items as you purchase them and then pass them on to your florist or designer (with a list of the items for safe return!).

The great thing about buying some of your own decoration touches is that you get them back as memoirs after the big day. I found beautiful sparkling ornaments after Christmas that were hung from branches in centerpieces at a spring wedding – and now the bride and groom decorate their Christmas tree with those ornaments each year. You can begin creating memories now for your wedding…just keep your eyes open!

Happy Planning!


Managing the Guest List – Tia's Wedding Thursday!

If you don’t fall into the category of a bride who either: a.) unlimited reception space or unlimited budget, or b.) gets to make 100% of the wedding decisions on her own, you’ll probably have to deal with setting a limit to your guest list. No matter how you slice it, the guest list can be difficult to create. In a perfect world you would the Bride and Groom should be able to decide.  But you’ll most likely find that all kinds of folks want to chime in on this decision. Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Bridesmaids…they all may want to give opinions. Here’s my advice – you and the Groom decide how many people you want to invite (and my experience is that in general, about 80% of guests will attend). Deduct that number of guests from your overall limit and allocate the difference in equal numbers of spots to your family and to his family. And one other thing – you and the Groom absolutely DO get to decide and dictate if you would like children to attend. Make sure you inform the families of this tiny, but extremely important detail.

So for example, if you want/can afford to have 150 guests, you can invite about 190 people (That’s people, not couples – remember to include plus ones and spouses!). So let’s say you and the Groom list out your absolute must-have guests and you come up with 150 people. Then, you can tell your family and his family they both have 45 spots to fill with whoever they would like to invite. This helps reduce the emotional side of things – it’s about numbers. (And not about the fact that you really don’t think your Mom’s hairdresser counts as important enough to be invited. Or that your Groom’s father wants to invite his entire office staff. It’s simply a numeric equation.) Plus, it gives your families a feeling of being part of the decision-making process – they choose whoever they would like to fill their allocated spots. See how much power and control they have?! You can share the list you and the Groom have already created to avoid overlapping…but honestly, I wouldn’t. I would just let there be some overlapping and then you can invite more people to make up for it or just have fewer guests. Hopefully, this little tip will save lots headaches!

Best Wishes!


Tia's Wedding Tip Thursday!!

Welcome to our new weekly blog feature: Tia’s Wedding Tip Thursday! Have you met Tia?

In a world of all-things-virtual, don’t underestimate the value of two simple books during your wedding planning. Yes, Pinterest is a wonderful tool and your iPhone can remind you of all the meetings and to do’s…but I have found nothing compares to a tiny notebook on your nightstand and a good three-ring binder.

That little book will be invaluable when you are almost asleep and realize you forgot to schedule your mani pedi appointment – just roll over, and jot it down. Or, if an idea about using a rickshaw for your grand exit comes to you in a dream – just put scribble it in that little book. You’ll be able to get plenty of beauty sleep knowing you’ve got it recorded and can deal with it in the morning. You can even carry this small booklet in your purse during the day so that you can write down any thought that comes to mind… before that thought passes.

The second book needs to be a big three-ring binder that will organize your ideas, inspiration and paperwork. I suggest making the first page your most current to do list and the second page a calendar. Include dividers for each vendor (ceremony, reception venue, caterer, music, florist, baker, rentals, stationary) as well as a section for wardrobe, beauty and general inspiration. After each divider, insert two or three plastic sleeve pockets. Then, include some notebook paper in each section. As you research vendors, write down their information, make notes during meetings, insert their proposals/menus/song lists, etc. and then once you book a vendor, remove all the other info except that which pertains to your chosen vendor. Use the plastic sleeves for their contract, and highlight and record due dates for deposits and headcounts. The plastic sleeves can also hold print outs from web photos or magazine pictures of anything you like. Walking into a florist with examples of what you love will help them understand your vision. And if you don’t have a vision, just start picking out anything you like and throw it in the notebook. A good vendor can work with that and help you develop a vision. This is also a great place to save fabric swatches for linen choices and sample card stock for invitations. When it comes to wardrobe and beauty, include pictures of everything from dresses, shoes and accessories (for you and the bridal party) to hairstyles, makeup, work out routines and nail colors. Walking into the MAC store and asking for that perfect Mulch eye shadow that you saw in a magazine is so much easier than looking for it!

The other thing that will happen as you gather your ideas is you will probably start seeing a trend…and then before you know it, you’ve developed your color scheme and are well on your way to knowing exactly what you want. You get the idea, right? So, before you do anything else, go buy these two books. I promise you’ll thank me later

Happy Planning!!


Triangle Wedding Coordinator