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12:50 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

The wedding planner: Daughter's special day opened her eyes

Hazel Bowman

Hazel Bowman

When Prescott resident Hazel Bowman married Howard Bowman in 1980, little did she know that she would become a wedding planner.

To use a cliché, she was "baptized by fire." Howard had five children, Michael, Kirk, David, Beverly and Barbara.

Ten years after their marriage, all five of them got married within 21 months of each other.

Hazel's introduction into the wedding-planning frenzy came with Beverly, who called the Bowmans to tell them of her engagement to Jeff.

"It was a beautiful, loving call that included Howard's saying, "It will be our honor to pay for your wedding.'"

With this carte blanche in hand, Bev and Hazel set out on a day-long spree, scouting out a few venue sites, investigating photographers, florists, invitations, linens and even taking time for Bev to try on wedding gowns.

When Hazel got home she "updated Howard on our day's activities." To which he responded, "Who's paying for that?" She answered, "We are.

"Howard quickly started looking worried," she said, and countered, "No, I said I would pay for the wedding."

Howard soon learned that "wedding" brimmed with details, when Hazel replied, "Honey, this is part of the wedding.

"The biggest lesson I learned was that if I had been smart, I would have hired a professional event planner so that I could have been a guest at our own children's weddings. They have all the resources at hand and would have saved me valuable time. Best yet, they are the "in-between man,' interacting with all the behind-the-scenes servicers and suppliers who need to be coordinated and are worth their weight in gold."

Hazel began her wedding-planning business, found at prescottweddings.com, some time ago, with expertise that ensures all will go as planned on wedding day.

She has collected an arsenal of tips, such as "don't leave the wedding cake in the sun," because this can cause a meltdown that's sure to bring tears.

"Planning a wedding can sometimes be like Charles Dickens' words in "A Tale of Two Cities': "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,'" she said.

She begins with five basic mistakes to avoid:

• Number 5 - Thinking you are going to lose a dress size or two to fit into that "perfect gown." Face it, you won't be able to turn down all the "scrumptious tidbits of food or decline a glass of champagne" during all the parties and showers leading up to the big event.

• Number 4 - Allocating a budget first and then determining the number of guests second. This is backwards, Hazel said. Combine the bride's and groom's list of friends and family that both would like to attend the wedding, then establish the budget, with 50 percent going toward the reception.

• Number 3 - Not locking in prices; not obtaining quotes on an inclusive basis. You want to take advantage of today's prices for tomorrow's costs, Hazel said.

• Number 2 - Thinking you can say or do whatever you please because you are the bride and it's your day. "Yes, it is your day, but that does not give any bride the license to be rude or ill-mannered," Hazel said.

• Number 1 - Not immediately writing and mailing thank-you notes for engagement, shower and wedding gifts, in addition to thanking the hostess(es). "Yes, even in this day and age, a hand-written thank-you note is still expected," Hazel said.

These five tips lay the groundwork for a memorable wedding for the bride and groom, their families and friends and all who participate in this joyous occasion.

Bowman is planning 2013 Bridal Affaire, a free event on Sunday, March 3, that will answer virtually every question brides and grooms have as they plan their weddings. The day runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the Hassayampa Inn, 122 E. Gurley St. and includes an interactive fashion show, raffle drawings every 45 minutes, with a grand prize drawing at 2:55 p.m., and a multitude of vendors that specialize in weddings. For more information about 2013 Bridal Affaire, visit www.PrescottWeddings.com.