Blushing Belle: The Wedding Guests

5 Things To Consider When Writing Your Guest List

1. Write down the "dream list" and work backwards.

First thing, write down absolutely everyone and their mother that you would want at your wedding, and total it up. You could have a ballpark number anywhere from 60 to 600 people at the end of this. I suggest utilizing an Excel sheet, for it helps with the math BIG TIME. (BOOM BONUS CONSIDERATION!). This dream list will be a tangible list to work off of so you can't accidentally forget to invite Aunt Margret or something like that. However, you can tell from your budget how many people you can accommodate or not. Work backwards from here. After you write down your dream list, consult your parents--especially if they are paying for the wedding in any capacity. They will want to have some say in people that come to the event. Not everyone on the list will be able to go, so the list will shrink naturally. Then you can cross off as you go.

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2. There will be guests there that you don't like.

Kind of screwed up right? Well, so are people. There are inevitably going to be guests at your wedding you wouldn't even share the same oxygen with if you had the chance, but they are going to be there because they are important to someone you love, or were a big part of your life, or they're great at first--but it's just when they start to drink or eat enough shrimp or "Gingham Style" comes on, they become absolutely insufferable. When you are creating your final guest list, the best option you have is to mark these people down. That way you'll be able to know for sure whether or not you'll have some kind of headache at your wedding. You also have to remember that there are plenty of people that are going to try and ruing your day, but you have to simply remember that it is YOUR day.

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3. Kids or no kids?

There are only about 13 things worse than a screaming infant in the middle of trying to say your vows to your future spouse. When you are planning your wedding, consider how many children will have to come, how old those children will be, etc. Do you want kids there? If so, what kind of environment are you presenting for them? Kids can complicate things, but they are still a part of the family. However, it is just something that you may want to think about when coming up with the guest list.

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4. Don't forget the entertainment/vendors.

Some vendors and entertainment individuals should be considered on the guest list for food costs. For some venues, the venue charges per head for food. If you do not include your photographer, DJ, and any other vendors you might know that will be participating in the reception for the whole time, then they may not be fed--which would really be NOT cool. Be sure to keep track of how many vendors you will have at the wedding/reception in order to prepare accordingly.

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5. Pick a seat, not a side--unless you're going to kill each other.

The beauty of wedding planning is that you have the opportunity to control a lot of things. Remember earlier when I mentioned the fact that there are going to be dumb people at your wedding? Well, sometimes people only get dumb around other people--so separate them. If you know your Uncle Tony doesn't get along with his Aunt Lydia, then seat them as far away from each other as possible. There are going to be a ton of people at the wedding, make sure the tables make sense. The key to great tables, is allowing for at least three people at a table of seven to know each other really well, at least five people kind of know the others, and everyone can basically pick the others out of a line up if they had to.

6. Who and how many do you want?

You and your spouse get to decide how large or small you want your wedding to be. You get to pick the size of your wedding parties, if you want to do a 10 person courthouse wedding, or a 400 person gala. At the end of the day, the guest list comes down to your preference, budget and mind.

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Blushing Belle: Wedding Expo 101

Wedding Expos are so incredibly fun, crowded, insane, hectic, packed with vendors, and AWESOME. However, they can more often than not be kind of overwhelming.

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1. Utilize the buddy system.

Going to an expo with your gal pal, Mom, or even your bridal party is a great idea. First of all, it will be fun for them because who doesn't love free stuff? Second, it will be a great bonding experience for everyone involved. There's a ton going on at an expo. You want someone there to watch your stuff if you get your make up done, or have to use the restroom. Find a buddy!

2. Make a wedding email address.

You will sign up for things you will never need, or want to hear from, but you do it because you're excited, it's the polite thing to do, and again, who doesn't love free stuff? However, you don't want your main email inbox to be bogged down with wedding stuff exclusively--especially if you aren't interested in a particular service after you give your email out. This will help you keep everything organized.

3. TAKE ALL OF THE BUSINESS CARDS YOU CAN.

Business cards are excellent little things of information. Not only are they conveniently sized, but they are physical reminders about a company, service, or even a consideration you should be thinking about or want. Collecting these business cards gives you all of the information that you need from each of these vendors in case you need to do more research on them in the future.

4. Stay.

Some bridal expos can feel like they take forever, but more often than not, waiting until the end of the expo is worth it. There are incentives to stay like raffle prizes, and grand prizes that you can win. I recently went to my first bridal show and won $500 wedding bands because I happened to stay until the end of the show, and they called my name during the raffle. I never win anything, but I'm glad I stuck around.

5. Ask questions.

Don't be afraid to ask vendors questions--even if you don't end up wanting to use that vendor. It is important to see what you are dealing with or are in for. Speaking to vendors, and the vendors' competition, will give you a clear idea of costs, considerations, and ideas for you to think about while you are planning and choosing.

6. Bridal expos are for EVERYONE.

Grooms and groomsmen, don't be afraid to check out bridal expos with your fiancé, or even on your own. Although it's not entirely common to find dudes at these events, it's still your wedding just as much as it is the bride's. More often than not there are vendors there specifically for men catering to tuxedos, entertainment and more.

7. Organize your free stuff.

When you return from the bridal expo, you will have A LOT of stuff with you from free samples, little gifts, to absolutely a textbook amount of paper, pamphlets, business cards and flyers. Organize your stuff from information that you want/need, information to consider, and toss the rest. There's no reason to get bogged down with this pile of stuff, but at the same time you don't want to just throw it all in the nearest recycling bin. You will find at least one bit of useful information, or vendor that you like among that pile.

Check out these sites to find bridal expos near you:

Wedding Wire
The Perfect Wedding Guide
Here Comes the Guide

Blushing Belle: Engagement & Wedding Planning Survival Guide

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CONGRATULATIONS! You found the one. You found the fanciest redneck, the sexiest southern bell, the classiest southern gentleman, a courageous cowboy or a cute cowgirl, no matter who you found, you found the one and that is spectacular that you two want to spend the rest of your lives together. Are you ready for the massive amount of questions, responsibility, crushing long hours, and ton of planning? WELL READY OR NOT, HERE IT ALL COMES! Being engaged is such an odd combination of bliss and indigestion. There are so many things that go into wedding planning. The internet and your family can prepare you the best they can, however, most of the time a wedding's details depend solely on the people planning it. Here are some tips, tricks and notes to survive the engagement and wedding planning.

Questions

You will be asked the same set of questions at least 36 times--and that's just within your first week of getting engaged. Here are some possible questions you may be asked:
-How did he propose?
-When's the wedding?
-Are you sure you're ready?
-Who's paying for the wedding?
-Who's your maid of honor?
-Who's the best man?
-When's the wedding?
-How many bridesmaids will you have?
-How many groomsmen will you have?
-Where are you going to go on your honeymoon? 
-Hold on, you're waiting how long to get married?
-When's the wedding?
-Are you pregnant?
-How long have you guys been together?
-Do you know what kind of dress you're going to want?
-What are your colors?
-How many people are you going to invite?
-SERIOUSLY, WHEN IS THE WEDDING?
I'm sure there are few really golden ones that I missed, but these are basically the questions everyone wants answers to immediately if not sooner.

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1. Don't Panic.

If seeing that list of questions overwhelmed you, oh honeybunchesofoats are you in for a ride. Don't panic. At the end of the day your wedding is exactly that---YOUR WEDDING. This is a special day about you and your special someone. You'll be able to figure it out. You have a ton of people willing to help you--family members, friends, a wedding planner, or even simply the internet. You have time. You have options. Take a breath.

2. It's Okay To Dream.

A lot of people have a "dream wedding" in mind whether it's this big fairy tale event that they have had a Pinterest board for since they were eight years old, or even simply just a couple of details that they have forever had their hearts set on. It is totally okay to have these dreams and goals and ideas. It is up to you to make them a reality. Sometimes, dreams don't work out--but that's okay! You do whatever you can to keep this wedding a dream of yours. Make compromises when you can, and fight for whatever it is that you need.

3. Making Sacrifices Is Part Of The Experience.

Remember how I just went over how you should fight for what you need? Well, you should also kind of know when to pick your battles. More often than not, you're going to have a final say in what happens at your wedding--especially if you are financing the whole shindig. However, there are those instances where some people that are contributing to the wedding, or are important to you, or are actual professionals with experience with this kind of thing, that will trample all over your dreams, ask for something that you think is ridiculous at the time, or will spend every waking moment of their lives making sure that something happens or doesn't happen at your wedding simply because it's something they want. Whether it's a mother-in-law that absolutely has to have lobster there, the maid of honor that hasn't looked good in purple since freshman year and refuses to wear that color dress, or even the wedding planner looks you dead in the eye and tells you, "You absolutely cannot have a breadstick fountain...how...how would that even work?" It happens. Everyone is going to want their own piece of this wedding cake (haha see what I did there?) and sometimes you're going to have to make compromises and sacrifices that you may not like. For example, if the parents' are paying for the wedding and they want to invite Aunt Helen and her smelly brat children, you might have to suck it up and let the kids and their weird stench come to the wedding. When you do make these "sacrifices" you have to remember something: this is your night that you get to share with people that you hold the closest to you. And at the end of the day...

4. Wedding Guests Only Remember The Food, The Booze, And The Music

Seriously, no one is going to remember the wedding favors, what kind of flowers were at every table, or the giant flower wall that took you three months to make because you saw it on a Buzzfeed list and absolutely had to make it because you wanted a DIY wedding. Details like these should absolutely be important to you, but don't sweat the small stuff if you don't have to.
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5. Write Everything Down.

Whether you are a note taker that needs a spiral bound notebook, an Excel sheet or a word document, figure out a system that works for you that allows you to keep track of all of your wedding planning. This will actually make your life much easier, believe it or not. If you have a detailed record of your planning, it will save you a lot of time in hassle in the long run. Keep track of it all so that you can refer back to it. Need to contact the venue because you have a guest list change? Boom you have the person's contact information on your Excel sheet. Wondering where in the world your bridesmaids' dresses are that you ordered? Check the tracking number you had saved in your word document. Keep track. Keep every single receipt. It's better to have it all then have nothing.

6. Make A Timeline.

No matter if you are getting married six months, a year or two years from the engagement, you should make and keep track of a timeline for your wedding planning. This way you can see when you need to have tasks done.
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6. There's An Infographic For It.

I love the internet. It's a beautiful (and sometimes horrible) place that is full of wedding help. It's a lot to slog through bridal magazines and wedding blogs--so sometimes browsing Pinterest and finding infographics with tons of really great information is a lot easier. They are also super helpful when you are showing it to a person that is involved in the wedding planning, but isn't very detail oriented. Look, sometimes grooms aren't exactly gun-ho about wedding planning--but looking at a fun picture can be informative and easy to look at!
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7. Budget!

Weddings cost a crap ton of money. There are so many things at play when it comes to having a wedding. Did you know that 23% of wedding budgets go to just flowers? Well that's a made up statistic, but it sounds pretty accurate right? That's because people blow a ton of real, factual money on flowers that will be dead halfway through the reception. Come up with 3 budgets:
1. The Dream Budget--which isn't a budget at all. Come up with all of the things, number of people, and details that you want your dream wedding to have.
2. The Scale Down--this is your first budget. Now that you have a reality to face of what money you actually have to work with, see how you want to cut your budget up. Are flowers absolutely not important to you, but you still think you might want your bridesmaids to hold something (although I am definitely a supporter in bridesmaids holding puppies instead of flowers)? Contribute 2% of your budget to flowers, while you know that the food will be super important to you and your family and will get 45% of the budget.
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8. Your Gift Registry Shouldn't Be Treated Like A Christmas List.

That sounded much harsher than I wanted it to, but I hope you get what I'm trying to get at. The idea of people getting you tons of super cool stuff is an amazing one, however you really have to be realistic about what you need and what you want. A lot of power will rush to your head when you're at Target or Nordstrom and you're holding that price gun to scan all of the super cool things in the store to go on your registry! Both of you should sit down and figure out what you want, what you need, and what people can afford to get you. Also, register somewhere that you actually shop or can benefit from! Amazon is great because the registry comes with deals (for example, if you put a Keurig coffee maker on there and someone buys it, Amazon will throw in a month's worth of coffee for the Keurig). For those reading this that know someone with a registry that may be out of your "price range," check to see if you can get the same product somewhere else. (Have those obnoxious Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons? Utilize those!).
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9. You Have A Million And Eight Food Options--Be Realistic.

Your venue may have catering options for you (example: the venue can charge you $94.00 per person, but that will include a full buffet of food, appetizers, cake, bar, etc.), your friends may know a guy, you can also take on the giant task of making your own food. Whatever you choose make sure that the food is good, in budget, and that you can handle it.

10. Relationship First. Wedding Second.

If people put a fraction of the time, effort, Pinterest boarding, agony, blood, sweat and tears that they do into the relationship as they do wedding planning then most marriages nowadays probably wouldn't end in divorce. Getting married and having a wedding is so splendid, fun, crazy and spectacular. The details that go into it are so important, and the day itself will be in your hearts for forever--but make sure that after that fairy tale day is over, that prince and princess charming can continue to live happily ever after. Take silly relationship quizzes and learn your love languages, try to find out something new about one another every day up until the wedding. Pick a new hobby to learn together--start a new TV show every few months. Keep the relationship strong.

Blushing Belle: Engagement Party Themes

Engagement Parties are a fairly new tradition in the getting married game. Since the dating game has changed so exponentially, Engagement Parties were created in order to bring the families of the bride and groom together under the same roof to meet and mingle. We are a generation of celebration. Any kind of accomplishment is a reason to party, so an accomplishment in finding a soul mate is DEFINITELY a reason to party.

There are a lot of gray areas surrounding Engagement Parties because none of them are the same. Some common questions are:

When should the engagement party be?

Give yourselves a minute to revel in your newly engaged bliss. However, it's absolutely up to you. Some couples have their engagement party two weeks after they get engaged, while others wait up to three months after the engagement. It all depends on what kind of details you wish to share at the engagement party. You'll get asked a ton of questions that you might not be able to answer two weeks in.

Do people bring gifts to an engagement party?

They most definitely can! Again, it's all about how long you wait. Some couples have the engagement party and are already registered. Some party guests can use your registry as a reference to see what they can get you. However, some other parties have more congratulatory gifts (gift cards, bottles of wine, etc) or just cards. 

Who should be invited to the engagement party?

If they are invited to the wedding, they should be invited to the engagement party. If they are not going to be invited to the wedding, it may be awkward to have them at the party. However, if you want all of your friends and family to be there, but you know you're only going to have a small wedding, inform the guests of that. "Hey, we want a very small wedding of only twenty people, but we still wanted to share this special time with all of you. I hope that's okay." People will understand, and they will appreciate feeling included.

Where should the engagement party be?

Depends on what kind of party you are thinking to have, who is throwing the party, how many people are going, what time of year, etc. More often than not, the parents of the bride or groom host the party. That way it's a literal welcoming the other family into their home. However, couples can host their own parties, or even rent a venue.

What actually happens at an engagement party?

Have you tracked a theme here yet? EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE COUPLE. So, here are a few Engagement Party themes and ideas to make your celebration FANCY.

Classic Engagement Party

You can't go wrong with a classic. This includes the bride's parents hosting the party--which luckily takes a lot of pressure off of the bride and groom to plan party details. 

The party will be a nice dinner at the brides' parents' house, at a restaurant or perhaps even at a venue to fit the amount of people on the guest list (which the groom and bride should consult on). Be prepared for a lot of questions during this event. Announce your bridal and grooms parties at a designated time in the evening for a personal touch.

Holiday Engagement Party

I am obsessed with Christmas. What some people call a problem, I call holiday spirit. So it made sense that I wanted to have a Christmas themed engagement party. Luckily, my fiancé and I got engaged in October, so it was perfect timing to wait until December to host the party. The party is a mash up of engagement and Christmas themes.

The music and decor are a combination of congratulations, wedding and Christmas.

The Bridesmaid Proposals

I bought these giant ornaments at Dollar Tree, along with the stockings. My bridesmaids will be wearing custom Boot Bling to match their dresses, so I wrapped the Bling around the stocking to present it to them. This way, the proposal is personal for me, and it's something they can keep forever--both the ornament and the Boot Bling.

You aren't just limited to a Christmas engagement party though. You can do a theme for any holiday (Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, etc). Doing a holiday themed party allows you to kill two birds with one stone: you can celebrate the holiday with your friends, as well as this special time. It also makes shopping for decorations, food, drink, and games much easier!

Murder Mystery Engagement Party

Please don't actually murder someone for this party theme. However, there are a ton of fun ways to play a murder mystery game with your guests. Come up with a super fun narrative, or download a game and template online! This is a fun and classic way to engage your guests, and get to know the people in each family.

Throwback Engagement Party

Remember the 90s? How about the 80s? 70s? You've probably been to a retro party where everyone dresses up in mullets and tie-dye, but this party is actually about nostalgia for an era that you participated in beyond pooping your pants for the last few years of that decade. This allows for you guys to relive your childhoods or teen years together, but this time as a soon to be Mr. & Mrs. 
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90s, 80s, high school, elementary school, summer camp, college, etc. Have everyone dress up from that nostalgia period and bring things to really set the mood: photo albums, other clothes, vintage items, music, yearbooks, toys, etc. Bring it all together and go back in time for a night. Include mementos from your pasts specifically so that you and your future spouse and reminisce (or cringe) at your previous selves. You're about to reinvent yourselves for a future together, take one last look back before you do.

The actual theme, decorations, food and drink of your party entirely depends on which nostalgic time you select. For a 90s party you might want to go with grunge, movie posters from that time period, run some old Nicktoons in the background, etc. If you go high school, bring back your school colors, mascot, and leave the cliques at the door.

Fairy Tale Engagement Party

Let everyone become the prince and princess they were always meant to be. You can go Disney themed, to straight up classical fairy tale with knights and shit. Give out little plastic tiaras to the women of the party, and the men can get foam swords. This is your happily ever after.

Luau of Love Engagement Party

This theme depends on where you're hosting the party and when you are hosting the party. If you are having a summertime engagement, then this is perfect! Get your beach bunnies together for a luau of love! Celebrate your love "by the beach" with these fun luau ideas.

Flip Flops made from frosting and Nutter Butter cookies on some graham cracker sand.

Buy some new sand buckets to use as serving dishes. Twizzlers make for cute pool noodles!

Make a sandy beach cake with graham cracker sand, and blue frosting sand. Carve the initials of you and your fiancé right on the "beach."

Everyone can get "lei"ed at this party.

Give out treat bags as party favors, or even utilize this super simple DIY design for your bridesmaid proposals.

Game Night Engagement Party

Gather for board games, video games, hide and seek, and more! Get together for a night of friendly competition. Get your friends and family members to bring their favorite games to the party, surf online for fun engagement party games (like the ones here, here, here and here) or take a game that you know and love and make it into an Engagement Party game!

A Bar Engagement Party

Yes, you could all just go out for drinks at your favorite watering hole, but this is not the kind of bar I'm talking about. This party theme is set up around bars:

Dessert Bar
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Cocktail Bar
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Candy Bar
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Sandwich Bar
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Popcorn Bar
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Ice Cream Sundae Bar
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Keep the options open to a variety of people and flavors, and let your guests serve themselves.

A Night At The Movies Engagement Party

Do you and your spouse love Netflix? Binge watching? Going to the movies? Then have a movie themed Engagement Party! Feature popcorn and boxed candy as the main snacks for the party, give everyone name tags that correspond with a famous movie or TV character, make fun banners featuring the best, romantic movie lines, and more. Transport the party to the silver screen for the night, and feature your Oscar winning romance story.

Remember:
Your Engagement Party is about you and your soon to be spouse. No matter what kind of party you choose to throw, who is going to be there and so on and so forth, the most important part of the event is that you two get the opportunity to celebrate your love with the people you both care about the most. Have fun!

 

Extraordinary Affairs: How To Plan a Luxury Wedding Without the Celebrity Price Tag

This article comes from Extraordinary Affairs at 5280, a spectacularly lovely wedding planning site that will make planning your fairytale wedding a beautiful reality. They are incredibly talented wedding planners located in Denver, Colorado, but their site is jam packed with insightful advice, tips, tricks and inspirations for a wedding anywhere. Please check them out. Give the original article by Angela Alizadeh a read here!

HOW TO PLAN A LUXURY WEDDING WITHOUT THE CELEBRITY PRICE TAG

 

Yes, a celebrity caliber wedding can be within reach; even if you don’t have a 7-figure wedding budget.

In this article, I’d like to show you how.

plan a luxury wedding

First, let’s establish one thing: luxury weddings aren’t reserved exclusively for celebrities and heiresses.

As a DENVER WEDDING PLANNER who oversees a wide variety of upscale events both small and large, I can confirm that, these days, couples across the country of all backgrounds, religions, nationalities and personal preferences plan luxury weddings every day. 

Although the typical 6-figure luxury wedding budget is significantly higher than the $32,641 national average in the U.S., having a higher end affair is still within reach to a wide variety of professionals and everyday couples who may not even consider themselves in the luxury category. (Ref: 1)

Luxury wedding budget

Some couples may have been born into a higher tax bracket or come into an inheritance early, while others have simply entered into high society by means of their own personal life journey and career choices.

Regardless of the type of couple planning a luxury wedding, many are financing it themselves.

According to Splendid Insights, 40% of couples with luxury wedding budgets ($96,000 or greater) pay for part or all of their wedding themselves, making them not all that different from average budget weddings. (Ref: 2)

Who pays for the luxury wedding?

Which is why more and more couples, possibly like you, are investigating in creative ways to re-create celebrity trends and mainstays on a more accessible budget.

When PLANNING WEDDINGS IN DENVER for my clients, I try to innovate ways to create celebrity-worthy event elements even if we aren’t working with a celebrity budget.

I can help, Let’s dive in.

Set the Tone with Memorable Invitations

upscale wedding invitations

Photo credit: FROZEN EXPOSURE & PLATYPUS PAPERS

Today, luxury weddings are all about creating an experience. It’s a defining shift in the mindset of modern couples and the true mark of a luxury affair. 

The Knot reported that, in 2015, the trend toward making the guest experience a priority continued with per-guest spending increasing while guest count decreased. (Ref: 3)

Your wedding invitations should be a preview of this coming attraction. 

They are your guests’ first impression of the kind of experience they are about to have at your upcoming nuptials.

Some events are elegant and sophisticated, some are quirky and unique while others are fun and lighthearted. Whatever mood your event will set, your invitations can become part of the affair.

With an investment of between $4-$20 per invitation, creating a surprising and impressive preview to your wedding can be well within reach. 

high end wedding invites

Photo credit: KRISTIE WITH A MAGICAL AFFAIR & PLATYPUS PAPERS

When Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones got married, they created highly specialized wedding invitations embossed with custom holograms. Not only did this special effect make their invites stand out, they served a purpose too. The hologram allowed security to keep crashers from entering the event with fake invitation replicas. (Ref: 16)

It’s not necessary to throw a 1.5 million dollar affair, as these actors did, in order to create a fantastic preview of your event with your invites; it only takes a touch of creativity or resourcefulness. (Ref: 4)

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones created a sense of exclusivity with their invitations, what kind of experience do you want to make with yours?

Luxury Wizard of Oz wedding invitations

Photo credit: PLATYPUS PAPERS

The Interactive Save-the-Date

Want to create a wedding experience that makes your guests feel involved in the fun? 

If so, you don’t have to wait until the big day to get started. With playful invitations like edible board game save-the-dates and Mad Lib inspired response cards, your guests will be active participants from day 1. (Ref: 5 & 6)

The Element of Surprise Invite

Whether it’s invisible ink, 3D reveals or scratch-off lottery style invitations, you can let your guests unveil the details of your upcoming event with a bit of playful amusement. (Ref: 7 – 11)

The Anticipation Builder

Luxury wedding invitations

Photo credit: HTTP://UNTILSUNDAY.IT/

Luxury weddings are a tremendous investment of time and resources so, naturally, you’ll want your guests to be as excited about your coming affair as you are. What better way to build anticipation than with a countdown chart? (Ref: 12) 

The Story Teller

A few years back the infographic storytelling invitation became a popular trend. Today, you can build on that concept with even more creative ways to share your story as a couple or how you met. 

One couple incorporated their love of making music into an originally recorded song invitation that recipients could play using the invitation itself. (Ref: 13)

PAPER RECORD PLAYER from KELLIANDERSON on VIMEO.

Less Is More

Luxury affairs are instantly recognized by their superior guest experience. From the instant ambiance and over-the-top décor to the delectable food and savory wine, upscale events have a way of whisking guests away to a fantastical place, if only for a day.

But this extraordinary experience comes at a cost, which typically gets broken down by “head” or individual.

 

Thus, for those trying to keep their luxury event within, or even under, a $100,000 budget, the key is to manage the number of guests invited. 

The larger a crowd, the more stretched a budget becomes; even a high-end budget. 

Which is why being selective about whom to invite to your wedding can help you reach your goal of creating a premium event experience for everyone in attendance, including yourself.

Guest list management for luxury wedding

Photo credit: TREVOR BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY

Many married couples would confess that they no longer keep in touch with a decent portion of their guest list, and possibly even a few bridal party members. 

While this may seem completely improbable for you, it is actually quite common. For this reason, it might be worth taking the time to seriously consider the strength and closeness of your relationship to each and every guest prior to inviting everyone you know. Your current budget and future self will thank you.

Here are 7 tips for helping you narrow down your list:

  1. First, respectfully ask parents, and possibly other close friends and family, not to discuss your wedding date with others or verbally invite anyone until you’ve formally created your guest list, to avoid embarrassment. It would be humiliating for both you and the uninvited guest if they had the impression they’d be invited to your wedding and were not. Likewise, it would be frustrating for you to feel obligated to invite someone you’d never intended to invite, due to an avoidable misunderstanding.
  2. Decide in advance the percentage of your final guest count that will be allocated to each set of parents. Many couples honor their parents with a reasonable percentage of guest list choices, especially when they are contributing financially.
  3. Create 3 categories of prospective guests: 1) Essential family members and wedding attendants you wouldn’t dream of excluding (grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, first cousins, the wedding party and ushers), 2) close friends and extended family (second cousins), 3) Colleagues and other friends. As you firm up your per-person investment and confirm how many guests your overall budget can (support), you can begin trimming down the list from the bottom up, starting with category #3. Remember to account for the guests on your parents’ lists.
  4. Ask yourself, ‘how close are we really?’ If you’re considering someone whom you haven’t spoken with or spent in-person time with for a year or more, they may belong in Category 3 and could be one of the first to exclude when you begin to narrow your list. This should include any person you’re inviting mainly because they are close friends with one of your close friends, even though you personally are not as close with them.
  5. While it may feel like your colleagues play an important role in your life today, because you see them on a daily basis, frequent interactions can be deceiving. Ask yourself whether or not you would truly stay in touch with that person if you were to transition to another company or job. If a co-worker is genuinely a close friend outside of the office with whom you spend a good deal of non-work time, then they are probably a good invite choice. If not, some extra consideration may be in order.
  6. If you strongly believe that a plus-one will significantly enhance the enjoyment of your wedding for all of your single guests, then certainly provide this option. However, don’t assume that you’re obligated to allow for an additional guest for your single invitees. This is a personal decision that is entirely the prerogative of you as a couple.
  7. Don’t forget about vendors. Some wedding vendors, such as musicians or photographers who are present throughout the entire day, may require that you supply them with a meal as part of your contract.

When Matters

The day and season of your wedding can have a tremendous impact on the overall investment, along with a few other perks.

The more flexible you are with your wedding date, the more financial freedom you’ll have to fashion a spectacular wedding experience from top to bottom.

Weekday Weddings

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden shocked the media when they chose to get married on a Monday; which some believe was motivated by a desire for privacy by catching the paparazzi off guard. (Ref: 14)

Luxury weekday wedding savings and privacy

Photo credit: NICOLE NICHOLS PHOTOGRAPHY

Privacy isn’t the only advantage to getting married on a weekday. Weekday weddings can also mean:

  • Better availability of the most prestigious, talented wedding suppliers and venues in the area
  • More attractive rates with the finest venues and wedding resources
  • Fewer crowds in prime public spaces for desired photo shoots
  • Only the closest, most excited guests (not everyone may be willing to take time off of work for your wedding)

Whether you choose to wed on a weekday or weekend, you can also get access to in-demand vendors and enjoy more attractive rates at desirable venues by choosing a date in the off-season. 

Non-Peak Seasons

Non peak wedding season savings

Photo credit: REBECCA MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY & MILE HIGH CELEBRATIONS

Weddings tend to have a peak season and a slower season. If you choose to plan your event during one of the less popular months of the year and not during a holiday, you may enjoy the same benefits that weekday weddings offer. 

In 2015, The Knot Real Weddings Study reported that Fall is on its way to becoming more popular than Summer for weddings; only 33% of couples wed in the Summer while 39% of couples held nuptials between September and November. (Ref: 3)

Imagine how much more you’ll be able to splurge on your highest priority wedding items when your venue and supplier costs fall by 15-30% simply by selecting a less competitive wedding date.

Land a Designer Gown or Suit for Less

Celebrities are known for investing substantially in their bridal gowns. According to Business Insider, Madonna wore an $80,000 Stella McCartney gown when she married Guy Ritchie in 2000 while Victoria Adams tied the knot to David Beckham in a $100,000 Vera Wang dress. (Ref: 15)

Designer bridal gown for luxury wedding

When you’re hosting an extravagant event, it’s only natural to want to feel luxurious yourself. Celebrities have long known that part of the whole experience is acquiring the finest, designer attire you have access to.

Fortunately, there are a few clever ways to source some of the most exclusive dresses and designer gowns without investing more than you’ve set aside.

1. Commission a Custom Piece

If originality and exclusivity is more valuable to you than designer name, then you might consider sourcing a local custom designer or tailor to fashion a one-of-a-kind gown or suit for you as a couple.

Going local will drastically reduce the investment without compromising on quality. Custom designers and tailors are often very selective with their choice of fine fabrics and will pay close attention to every detail.

You won’t have to worry about another bride or groom wearing something similar when the garment is crafted by hand just for you.

2. Premium Pre-Loved Attire

The life of a wedding dress is short lived. Enjoyed for only a day or two, then preserved for a lifetime, most gowns never receive the use they deserve.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a few discerning bridal boutiques make consignment available to their community.

Local shops like THE ALTAR BRIDAL CONSIGNMENT and THE GREEN BRIDEhere in Denver carry a wide variety of lightly pre-loved gowns in all shapes and sizes that are often no older than 3 years. If you have a particular designer in mind, you can work with them to procure the exact type of dress you’re pining for and save thousands. 

3. Designer on Discount

Your perfect designer gown or suit doesn’t necessarily have to be new this season or on special order, if you’re not too particular.

With sample sales and last-season blowouts, many exclusive higher end bridal boutiques offer an opportunity to acquire top of the line attire for far less than original retail price.

If you are able to snatch up an in-demand designer piece on discount, no one has to know your secret.

By following any of these three tips, you’ll not only be able to flaunt a fabulous, coveted gown or suit on your wedding day, you’ll also have more funds to allocate to other high impact aspects of your event.

Borrow, Don’t Buy, the Accessories

Real diamond bridal jewelry for wedding

Photo credit: TREVOR BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY

Your gown and tux aren’t the only wedding attire available for less when you know what your resources are.

For decades celebrities have held a coveted secret to their red carpet look: rental. 

The reason so many celebrities are able to create a completely unique and stunning look for every red carpet event is that they borrow their outfit rather than buy it outright; including the jewels.

With resources like ADORN BRIDAL, you can actually rent your own diamond and real, precious gemstone bridal jewelry without investing five or six figures to get it.

With necklace rentals starting as low as $75, the most lavish accessories become well within reach.

For a svelt tux that requires zero in-store visits, check out Manguin, a more modern way to rent a fashionable suit.

Or you can order custom Boot Bling from Redneck Couture's Wedneck Couture Bridal Line--provide your Bridesmaids with their gifts at a reasonable price, allow them to have a beautiful piece of hand crafted jewelry that is splendid for any occasion, and the shipping is FREE!

Choose an Unconventional Venue

A sure-fire way to have guests rave about your wedding for years to come is to choose an unconventional and memorable venue. While not everyone has their own private island to host their nuptials at, as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard did, you can find unique and beautiful venues to create gorgeous ambiance and a luxury backdrop for your evening. (Ref: 31)

Have it at Home

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi; these famous couples have one thing in common - at home weddings! (Ref: 17) Celebrities often choose to be married at home. They already have a beautiful estate, and using your own place means extra privacy.

If you don’t have your own gorgeous gardens or mansion to hold the wedding in, consider reaching out to relatives. Perhaps you have always loved your Grandmother’s garden, or your close friend’s beach house. By borrowing their space you can create an intimate and meaningful ceremony, with the luxury of privacy and discretion.

Castles

If destination is more your style - you can always follow Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ suit and tie the knot in a castle! Tom and Katie chose the Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano, Italy. (Ref: 18)

There are many castles in Europe and the United States to consider, such as Denver’s Castle Marne here in the Colorado area.

If an actual castle seems out of reach, consider a Cathedral. Many old-age cathedrals resemble the gothic-style design of castles, and create an ornate and formal feel for your ceremony. Most famously, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in Westminster Abbey, known for its high ceilings, two towers, stain glass, and marble. (Ref: 19)

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is a gorgeous Cathedral here in Denver, as beautifully photographed by our friends at ELEVATE PHOTOGRAPHY.

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Denver CO

The Field Trip

Think museums, planetariums, zoos and aquariums are just places for school children? Think again! 

Hilary Rhoda and pro hockey player Sean Avery were married at Long Island’s East End Parrish Art Museum. Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried, a match made in Bachelorette heaven, hosted their reception dinner at the Redondo Beach Historic Library.(Ref: 20)

Add a touch of sophistication at your local art museum, or host a playful revisit to childhood at a Zoo. Many educational establishments also host high-end affairs and have their own ballroom and event staff. What better way to dance the night away then under an entire planetarium of stars?

Town Car Vs. Limo

Celebrities often opt out of the traditional wedding party limo, and instead ride up to their weddings in style. Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, and Mercedes are just a few of the luxury rides available. 

Rent for the Day 

luxury wedding vehicle and classic car

Prince William arrived at Westminster Abbey on the day of his wedding in the Queen’s own Bentley, the “Bentley State Limousine.” (Ref: 21) While you might not be so keen on purchasing a luxury car of your own, many are available for daily or hourly rent. 

Horse Drawn Carriage

If you prefer to make an even bigger statement, and be a true princess for a day, you might consider a horse drawn carriage as Princess Diana did when marrying Prince Charles. (Ref: 210). Carriages can also be rented on an hourly basis and create a memory like none other.

Beverage Welcome

To add to your guest’s luxury experience, consider having beverages served upon arrival at the ceremony, rather than later during the cocktail hour. This is an unexpected extravagance that many celebrities have added to their higher-end affairs to keep guests excited and having a good time.

wedding welcome beverage

Opt for Non-Alcoholic

To keep this addition less costly have non-alcoholic beverages served instead. Lemonades, strawberry infused water, virgin-spritzers, and Arnold Palmers will keep your guests refreshed while they wait for the festivities to begin.

A Signature Drink

Add personalization by creating a custom drink named after the happy couple. Choose ingredients that symbolize each person’s personality to create a one of a kind beverage. 

Entry Statement

As your guests enter your venue they should be greeted by a setting that sets the tone for the entire evening. 

Alex Jones and Charlie Thomson are from the Welsh mountains and New Zealand respectively, and wanted their guests to arrive amid greenery and atmosphere that represented their very different yet equally beautiful homelands. Through the entry way were placed winter trees and twinkling lights, which led way to a corridor adorned with rainforest sound effects and thick vibrant greens. Guests were transported into a dream like world where seasons changed rapidly. (Ref: 22)

Pick Your Vibe

Choose an entry treatment that lets your guests know what sort of an evening it will be. 

modern wedding lounge for luxury event

A trendy yet casual lounge sets the scene for a relaxed and fun night; Billowing curtains and decadent floral arches promise a romantic evening. The first impression is so important - don’t forget to invest wisely in this crucial space!

Signature Focal Points

Designating separate spaces for guests to explore at your reception can add to the extravagance of the party. Using special lighting and luxurious furniture to turn your venue into an inviting atmosphere.

The Private Lounge

Celebrities are often seen in VIP lounge booths at clubs and parties. These coveted “above the crowd” spots create a sense of mystery and intimacy at events.

Having lounges throughout your ceremony may seem out of reach, but coordinated furniture can be rented starting at just 300 dollars. You don’t need enough of this seating for every guest, but just enough to create small getaways from the party where guests can go to steal a private moment with one another. (Ref: 23)

Unique Food And Beverage Presentation

A sure way to elevate the status of your event is to create unique food and beverage presentations. Take your dinner from drab to fab by making an experience out of the meal.

Edible Arrangements

food as wedding decor

Photo credit: THE WILLINGHAMS

Many couples are choosing to add food to their décor. Lisa Karvellas of Cedar Lake’s Estate says, “We have seen everything from apple branches (with apples still attached!) as floating centerpieces, to ruby red beets and purple artichokes in bridal bouquets..” (Ref: 24)

Specialty Bars

Many couples are choosing to have themed bars at their weddings to show off their particular tastes. Choosing from specialty cocktail bars, whiskey bars, or even dessert bars can allow your guests to taste something unique and unexpected. (Ref: 24)

Bacon bar at wedding

Surprise Guests With The Human Element

Many celebrities have live entertainment at their weddings that reaches far past the typical band or DJ. Circus performers, celebrity artists, servers, and performance artists can add the “human element” of live entertainment to your guest’s experience.

For their first dance, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian were serenaded by none other than John Legend. (Ref: 32)

Local Talent

Hire local talent to come in and enhance your big day. Station a local painter to come and paint the first dance live as guests look on, or hire a young singer to serenade guests outside the reception hall as they enter. 

Aerialists

Aerialist for wedding

Recently two celebrity circus performers for Ringling and Brothers made the news by being married on top of a high wire. (Ref: 33) 

While you yourself may not want to participate in such a daring endeavor, you can easily find aerialists to perform and stun your guests. Contortionists, dancers, and acrobats enliven the atmosphere and add a shock-factor to your reception.

Food and Drink Experts

Add the human element to your refreshments with bartenders trained to entertain, or rotate chefs to each table with flambeau dessert stations. You can also have personal waiters and waitresses for each table, eliminating the guests need to retrieve their own drinks from the bar. 

Food presentation for luxury wedding

Photo credit: STUDIO JKPHOTOGRAPHY

Creative Use Of Lighting And Video

When Kanye West proposed to Kim Kardashian he had the entire AT&T baseball stadium in San Francisco in darkness as guests entered for his surprise. Then slowly the lights lifted as a fifty piece orchestra serenaded Kim with her favorite song. (Ref: 25) 

You can recreate this use of lighting to create a mysterious and romantic atmosphere at your own wedding.

Color Wash

Color wash lighting effect for weddings

Photo credit: TREVOR BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY

Color wash lighting refers to engulfing the entire room in a certain color. Use blush pink or pale blue to create an atmosphere or decadence. (Ref: 26)

Pin Spot

Pin spot lighting effect for wedding

Pin spotting uses mini spot lights to amplify special parts or attributes to the room. You can hang pin spots over special stations, such as the wedding cake, the guest book, or the center pieces. (Ref: 26)

Privacy

Perhaps a celebrity’s most sought after element on their wedding day, privacy, can add an element of exclusivity to your event. 

Don’t Share

Ensure privacy on your big day by selecting venues that only allow one wedding at a time, or picking a date when no other weddings will be held. 

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren rented the entire Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados and the island’s only helicopter company to ensure paparazzi would be unable to snap their ceremony. (Ref: 18)

No Posts, Please

Kindly ask guests to keep their phones away during your ceremony, and instead invite them to use a wedding themed photo-booth. This can also act as a guest book that you can look through after, and encourages guests to stay in the moment instead of online during your festivities.

Be Wise With Food

Exotic or gourmet foods can come with a hefty price tag. Choose wisely what and how you serve your guests.

Meal Alternatives

Instead of surf & turf for the main dish add seafood options as passed hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail hour. Guests will still enjoy the luxury of fresh seafood, but you’ll be able to manage the investment better.

Another Human Element

Having wait staff serve your premium nibbles instead of displaying them on a self-serve table will also minimize costs without detracting from the luxury experience. If anything the wait staff service adds a greater touch of elegance to the event, while monitoring the amount of food circulating at any given time.

Seasonal Flower Choices

Blake Lively’s bouquet when marrying Ryan Reynolds was filled with seasonal flowers including, pink jasmine, andromeda, dusty miller, and blushing bride hydrangea. (Ref: 28) 

Choosing season flowers can allow you to splurge on volume and variety while remaining in budget. 

Winter

Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, and Evergreens are all in season in Winter. (Ref: 29)

Gisele carried a bouquet of white orchids when walking down the aisle to marry Tom Brady at their winter wedding in Costa Rica. (Ref: 30)

While orchids may not seem like a winter flower, they are in Costa Rica, which naturally grows over 1400 varieties of orchids. (Ref: 34)

Autumn

Anemone, Baby's Breath, Bittersweet, Carnation, China berry and Chrysanthemum are all Autumn flowers. (Ref: 29)

Spring

Apple blossom, Bird of Paradise, Brodea, Calla lily, Cherry Blossom, Corn flower, Cosmose, Dahlia, Delphinium, Delwood, Forsythia, and Freesia are in abundance in Spring time. (Ref: 29)

Summer

Summer flowers include Hypericum, Iris, Kangaroo paw, Liatrus, Lilac, Casa Blanca Lily, Gloriosa Lily, Star Gazer, and Lisianthus. (Ref: 29)

Start Planning Your Celebrity-Inspired Wedding

As you can see, a celebrity-inspired luxury wedding can absolutely be within your reach. All it takes is a little ingenuity and resourcefulness and you’ll be planning an upscale event guests will be blown away by.

Love this article or have your own tip to add? I’d love to get your input in the comments below.

Planning a downtown Denver wedding? And if you’re local to the Denver area, I would be thrilled to chat with you about how we can bring more celebrity-inspired luxury into your event. Explore my DENVER WEDDING PLANNING AND DESIGNservices to get started.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.theknot.com/content/average-wedding-cost-2015 
2. http://www.thinksplendid.com/2014/01/luxury-wedding-statistics-whos-paying.html
3: http://ir.xogroupinc.com/investor-relations/press-releases/press-release-details/2016/Wedding-Spend-Reaches-All-Time-High-As-Couples-Look-To-Make-The-Ultimate-Personal-Statement-According-To-The-Knot-2015-Real-Weddings-Study/default.aspx
4: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/most-expensive-weddings-of-all-time/4/
5: http://www.layeredbakeshop.com/game-of-love-fun-save-the-date-cookies/
6: http://sparkvites.com/holographic-foil-geometric-wedding-invitation/
7: http://www.polkadotbride.com/2013/03/amy-and-johns-backyard-surprise-wedding/
8: https://www.etsy.com/listing/92796375/scratch-off-lottery-ticket-save-the-date
9: http://www.ohsolovelyblog.com/fun-unique-save-date-idea/
10: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/most-creative-wedding-invitations/
11: https://www.image3d.com/retroviewer/price-list
12: https://www.behance.net/gallery/Counting-The-Days/3126457
13: http://kellianderson.com/blog/2011/04/a-paper-record-player/
14: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/experts-weigh-cameron-diaz-weekday-wedding-article-1.2067939
15: http://www.businessinsider.in/The-8-most-expensive-wedding-dresses-in-Britain
16: http://www.forbes.com/2007/07/12/celebrity-media-weddings-biz-media-cz_lg_ts_0712celebweddings.html 
17: http://www.elledecor.com/celebrity-style/celebrity-homes/news/g1042/celebrity-home-weddings/?slide=3 
18: http://www.today.com/id/19735933/ns/today-today_entertainment/t/money-no-object-when-celebrities-say-i-do/#.V5qmgI-cGM- 
19: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Abbey 
20: http://www.popsugar.com/home/Celebrity-Wedding-Venues-40943179 
21: http://mommiesmagazine.com/15392/top-celebrity-wedding-cars/ 
22: http://www.thewildebunchblog.com/alex-jones-wedding-flowers/ 
23. http://www.bellaweddingrentals.com/rentals/lounge_furniture.html 
24. http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/390657/wedding-food-and-cocktail-trends-2015
25: http://www.mtv.com/news/1722426/kanye-kim-proposal-keeping-up/ 
26: http://www.brides.com/blogs/aisle-say/2014/12/wedding-lighting-terms.html 
27: http://www.elle.com/culture/news/a36391/kardashians-photo-booth-mir-mir/ 
28: http://celebritybrideguide.com/celebrity-wedding-flowers/nggallery/image/blake-lively/
29: http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/growingflowers/flowers-and-seasons 
30: http://www.brides.com/blogs/aisle-say/2016/02/gisele-bundchen-tom-brady-wedding-photos.html 
31:http://www.etonline.com/news/159438_amber_heard_johnny_depp_wed_on_private_island/ 
32: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/tvshowbiz/video-1186948/Kim-Kardashian-Kanye-Wests-dance-wedding-day.html 
33: http://www.theknotnews.com/circus-high-wire-wedding-video-11286 
34: http://www.montezumabeach.com/costa-rica-orchids/

Blushing Belle: Being Engaged Young and Far Away

Hi, I'm Lexx.

That's me!

This is my FIANCE, Connor.

Wow, it's still super weird calling him that. But ain't he cute?

Connor and I were both screenwriting students at Drexel University. In April 2015, we both volunteered to participate in Accepted Students Day(s)—I was in a glorified "line leader" role, while Connor answered questions on the Co Op panel. After the first day of volunteering, all of the volunteers retired to 027 for free lunch. I overheard Connor speaking to Professor Kaufhold about his senior project, Kaiju. Kaufhold mentioned Ultraman in the conversation, and I--a professional eavesdropper--picked up the familiar tidbit and inserted myself into the conversation. Connor and I chatted for a while before he had to leave for a Quidditch match. I gave him my card and never heard from him again...for a whole ten days. I had seen him the next week at the second Accepted Students Day. He had added my on Facebook, but nothing. However, after those ten days, Connor noticed some interesting mutual friends and through the power of the internet, the two began talking day and night. I would go to Connor's apartment at 40th and Baring, and hang out there all night until almost five in the morning. We would talk, write, and just enjoy each other’s company. I went to Los Angeles in June 2015, and we stayed in sporadic contact. I got pneumonia in late June, early July--as one does in the middle of Summer in California--and the only company I found was Connor. In the early fall of 2015, the two were FaceTiming and chatting every night. Connor supported me through a lot of difficult moments that I was going through. I loved Connor's company. We engaged in a writing challenge together in October 2015 as I searched for an apartment for us to share. I finally found one for us to move into on October 25th, 2015. Connor bought his ticket for the 24th--the same evening as the Blumhouse Halloween party that I would be attending as an intern. On Wednesday, October 20th, I managed to grow a pair and ask Connor to be my boyfriend. He joyfully accepted the proposal. I picked Connor up at the airport, still covered in latex and blood from the party, late Saturday evening and we made the little apartment a wonderful home. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving on our own, and even put up our very first Christmas tree together. The apartment memories were full of snuggles, Let's Plays, writing Pow-Wows, and home cooked dinners. It was a splendid paradise. Connor and I stayed just as connected and in love once I returned to Philadelphia to complete my education. I returned in late June for a visit, and then back again in October 2016. We recreated our first date for our anniversary on Thursday, October 20th, 2016: Nanbankan and a trip to The Sovereign--formerly Judy Garland's yacht, and now Larry Nelson's yacht, and possibly the most beautiful yacht ever--for a few rounds of Boggle and some slow dancing. After I mercilessly spanked Connor at the longest four rounds of Boggle in the man's life, we retired to the lounge to slow dance to our song, Haley Reinhart's "Can't Help Falling in Love With You"--brought to us via an incredibly well written and conceived gum commercial Connor shared with me in early October 2015. After the song concluded, Connor got down on one knee, presented me with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen, and asked me to marry him. I, for the first time in my entire life, couldn't find any words. I was so overcome by joy. I finally managed to say a yes before smothering Connor with kisses. The next day, we went to Disneyland to Mickey's Halloween Party. We are dorks, but we are dorks that were written for one another.

So now that you know basically all about us aside from our social security numbers, here's the nitty gritty part that actually may be helpful to you.

We are engaged at 21 and 23 years of age, we currently live on opposite coasts from one another, and our wedding date is set for October 20th, 2018. 

There's plenty to process in that previous statement. First off, most people don't even commit to a Tinder bio at 21 years old, let alone decide to spend the rest of their lives with another human being. Both Connor and I have had to deal with the following statements, and variations of the following statements:

"You're too young to get married."
"You don't even have a job yet!"
"In two years, you'll change your mind."
"Shouldn't you wait a bit longer?"
"Are you sure you're really ready?"
"Are you pregnant?"
"You two might not be right for each other."
"Where are you going to live?"
"How are you going to make this work long distance?"
"What if he finds someone else in Los Angeles/what if she finds someone in Philadelphia?"
"Why?"

There's also the classic questions anyone is asked when they get engaged, which was kind of a bitter sweet combination of frustrating and fun to answer over and over:

"When's the wedding?!"
"Are you going to have two weddings? One for each coast?"
"How did he do it?"
"Is the ring real?"
"Who's the maid of honor/best man?"
"Did he ask your dad?"
"What did your dad say?"
"Was it romantic?"
"Who's paying for the wedding?"

Listen, folks, with big news there comes three types of people:

1. The people that love and support you through any decision--whether well thought out or totally bone headed.

2. Those who will stop at nothing until they have absolutely ruined it for you, and the entire parade is rained on, or perhaps aflame.

3. The individuals that are SO supportive because they want to live vicariously through your big news, and some how some way make that big news about him/herself. 

If you can, be the first kind of person. I wanted to write this article because I have been reading a TON of articles about getting engaged and wedding planning and things of that nature, and I feel like this one was the kind that was missing. I wanted to write an article for the couples that are facing stigma or obstacles like age, location, financial concerns, or lack of support.

Being engaged is an absolute blast--I say 12 days into being engaged--and I wanted to share my joy with people. However, there were people that really weren't happy with my news, or immediately felt obligated to give me a Power Point presentation on my bad decision. People make mistakes. It happens. Connor and I both feel that we have a future together, and that's the best future for the both of us. We have plenty of time to iron out details, but right now, we just want to enjoy the fact that we made this choice together.

No matter what kind of problems, obstacles, challenges or jerks you may face, just remember that ultimately this decision is about YOU and YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER. Some really important advice I have received that I would like to pass along:

"Put as much time into working on your relationship as you do on wedding planning. People spend so much time picking out center pieces and invitations, but forget that the wedding lasts for a day, while your marriage lasts a life time. Make sure that you both are as honest as possible with each other, and that you can council each other in times of need."

"MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER! Make time now, make time when the wedding planning gets intense, and make time for each other for forever. Make sure that date nights don't become a thing of the past. Make sure you feel sexy and fun with one another. Keep the flame a fire. Your love will change. You won't love each other any less, but eventually you will just love each other, not be in love--so it's important to show that you are important to each other."

"Wedding planning advice: pick out what is important to you, and ditch what isn't. I didn't want flowers at my wedding, but because everyone has flowers, I got them. I could have saved $6,000. Seriously. Have the wedding you want, not the wedding from a magazine."

"Tell each other a secret every day, something big or small, it doesn't really matter, but it's something that you can share together."

"Set rules for the future. Make sure that you both understand where one another is on certain subjects. My husband and I discussed that divorce was never going to be an option. That was twelve years ago. There are some days when we want to murder each other, but we know that we are together forever, and it's easier for us to look at the problem and say, "Is this worth it?" and if it's not, then we forgive each other. Work through your problems, don't let them define your relationship."

"Kiss. Kiss a lot."

I really enjoyed tidbits like these. Connor and I set time aside every single day to do a little FaceTime date. Lately, we have replaced our normal Let's Play watching with wedding planning stuff. He's an absolute champ at sitting through my presentation of my Pinterest boards.

What's your piece of wedding or engagement advice? Do you have any fun engagement tales? 

Check back for the next Blushing Belle Engagement installment: The Engagement Party!

Blushing Belle: The Proposal

This is not about the romantic comedy starring the forever extremely handsome Ryan Reynolds. This is about the big question between two very special people: "Will you marry me?" or any variation you find yourself attracted to. Here's a guide for cowboys and cowgirls as to how to pop that perfect question.

Do's and Don'ts:

DO

Make it special. This is an important and romantic moment, but it's also a major life decision for the both of you.

DON'T

Don't rush into things or drag your feet. As mentioned previously, this is a big decision for the both of you to make. Are you ready for this commitment? Is this something long overdue? What have you been waiting for? What else do you need? What else does he/she need? When the moment is right, you'll know. Now, no one can really tell you when it's a good time to get engaged no matter what the old grumps or fairy tales say. Some people consider the best time to get engaged is after being with a person for a few years, settled into a nice house with a white picket fence and a career that brings in at least $65,000 a year. However, others (myself included shamelessly) sometimes it's just about how two people feel about each other. I know how lame and cliche that may sound, but at the end of the day you click with one person. You come close to that click with some people, but there's really only one person that you really, fully click with. People are like puzzles. All of the little jigsaw pieces come together to form something greater. Those pieces are memories, experiences, and other people ranging from family, friends, lovers and foes, but there's only one person, that missing piece, that brings the whole picture together to complete you.  

DO

Get some ideas. Go on Pinterest. Ask your engaged friends. Ask your prospective fiancé's friends or family. This will help generate your perfect plan. 

DON'T

Don't ask empty handed. I know this sounds incredibly "douche-y" but according to several surveys, all of the wedding sites, and many pissed off, passive-aggressive brides asking without the ring can seem like you're unprepared or didn't put as much time and effort into the moment as you could have. If you couldn't afford a ring, this may be a factor you should consider when it comes to the engagement idea. Now, let's say you can't present her with a ring. Check your other options. Can you present her with something else like a necklace, promise ring, Boot Bling, etc? 

DO

Go big or go home. This could mean many things. This could mean making the engagement an all out event, or going big on the nostalgia factor. Either way, make sure that this moment is one of the biggest for the both of you next to the actual wedding and perhaps your children. 

DON'T

People are going to be super stoked for you and shower you with praise, congratulations, advice and perhaps even actual gifts--which is never a bad thing. However, there are going to be THOSE people that are going to be less than thrilled that you've popped the question or said yes to the question. These people can vary from relatives that don't think you're ready for marriage or your jilted best friend that never got around to telling you how he feels about you. No matter who that person is, don't let him/her ruin this for you. Be happy. (Unless someone tells you, like, "Hey, your fiancé is a serial killer. Like, legit, bodies in his basement." Then consider going about this with caution.)

DO

Traditions. There are some traditions to this engagement game that still may be considered important to a lot of people. Think about these traditions and which you are willing to do. The most popular one is the groom asking the bride's father for "permission" before popping the question. Now, personally, I think this is a cute idea because it's shows that you want the girl bad enough that you'll do anything for her, even if that is tackling the obstacle of asking her scary father if it's okay to take her hand. It also kind of sets the guy up for failure though, because sometimes it's hard talking to a girl's dad. No matter what though, it's a respect thing. Ask the dad, at least 7 times out of 10 he won't kill you.

DON'T

When it comes to celebrating the engagement, don't feel pressured by family or even your own eagerness to show off and celebrate to have the engagement party the weekend after you get engaged. Can you? ABSOLUTELY, YOU DO YOU, IT'S YOUR ENGAGEMENT! However, "studies" (and I say that to legitimize my internet blog post, but I really mean from the many stories I have read on The Knot, Pinterest, Facebook and several real life lady sources) show that waiting to have the engagement party any time between 1-3 months after getting engaged is best. This allows you time to do a lot: just simply enjoy being engaged, plan out some details (because people are going to ask you A LOT of questions you don't have the answers to at the party), who's going to make the guest list for the actual wedding (kind of bad form to invite someone to an engagement party, but not the actual wedding), what kind of engagement party you want to have, set up a registry, etc. 

FACTORS TO CONSIDER:

Here are some things you may want to consider when it comes to how you want to go about getting engaged.

1. What kind of engagement do you want? (several ideas are listed below)

2. How much money do you want to spend on the engagement?

3. Who do you want to involve in the engagement? (Will it be a big family affair? Do you need an audience? Do you need the employees of your location to help you out? Do you need a confidant like the sister of the bride or best friend?)

4. What do you need in order to execute your plan? (location, supplies, reservations, flowers, etc.)

5. When do you want to get engaged? (What time of day? What time of year? What season? Day of the week? During a specific holiday?)

6. Where do you want to get engaged? (Is there a special destination or place that means something to the both of you? Are you willing to travel?)

ENGAGEMENT IDEAS:

1. Destination Engagements

Wanna go somewhere super special to pop the question? Consider these destinations.

1. Disneyland or Disney World

Disney actually has entire website dedicated to engagements and engagement planning. Buzzfeed has done articles about it. Disney is considered to be the happiest place on earth, so if you and your fiancé to be are into that kind of thing, make it a magical day at one of Disney's many parks. You can get the park involved or just do it yourself!

2. The beach

Go seaside and propose in the sand or right by the ocean. The setting is romantic and it's super simple.

3. Near a tourist trap

Places like the Hollywood sign, the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Piza, the Empire State Building, or anywhere else you kind find a fanny packer taking a photo might be a fun spectacle for an engagement.

4. The great outdoors

Find yourself on a hike, camping, or perhaps just a romantic stroll through the woods. Let the trees, wind, and woodland creatures create the setting.

5. Theme Park 

Can't afford Disney or just not into giant mice? No worries. Check out Six Flags, Dorney Park, Sea World, zoos, etc. Go out for a day of fun and splendor!

2. Activities: 

Doing activities and going on a fun date sets a perfect mood to ask the question. Consider these date ideas and activities.

1. Horseback riding
2. Dinner and a movie (perhaps make it a home cooked meal of favorites and her favorite movie, a fancy restaurant and the newest blockbuster at the theater, etc.)
3. Stargazing
4. Build a blanket fort together
5. Go to the zoo
6. A picnic
7. A scavenger hunt
8. Make paper plane love notes and throw them at each other while you wait for a pizza to be delivered
9. Create a playlist of songs that are special to both of you and slow dance and jam out
10. Go out and get or stay at home and give each other the spa treatment (massages, candles, steamy shower, etc.)
11. Actually Netflix and chill (yeah, we know what the kids are really up to when it comes to the "Netflix and chill" date, but it's actually a great date idea. Set up a que with a theme: binge a few episodes of a new TV show you both wanted to watch, horror movies, enjoy a couple of episodes of each other's favorite TV shows, RomComs, "bad" movies, etc. Cuddle up with a blanket and an array of snacks and enjoy! You get to spend time close to each other, learn a lot about one anode there AND watch some entertaining stuff.)
12. Bowling
13. Go to an arcade and earn enough tickets to get each other prizes
14. Play games! (this is fun to incorporate alcohol and stripping too if you feel so inclined. Best games: poker, Boggle, Trouble, video games, etc.)
15. Shooting range to fire off some shots
16. Go camping (hike, build a campfire, stay in a cozy trailer)
17. Find some "Free Day" stuff to do (make a list of local events or locations that have freebies)
18. Tastings (whiskey, wine, cheese, cake, etc.)
19. Make a trip to a quirky destination (Pick a funky or interesting destination whether it's the next town over or a classic tourist trap, jump in the car and make a day trip out of it. Don't forget to bring a camera!)
20. Seasonal adventure (pumpkin picking/carving, berry picking, picking out/chopping down a Christmas tree, beach day, etc.)
21. Concert
22. Karaoke
23. Explore a city (check out tourist destinations, the best shops and place to eat, etc.)
24. Shop at a flea market
25. Do DIY projects together
Check out some more ideas here, here, here, and here

3. Nostalgia:

Make it an unforgettable night with the memories that brought you both to this point in the first place.
Go to the places of or recreate your first...
-Date
-Kiss
-Dance
-Anniversary
-Specific activity (For example, the first movie I ever saw with my boyfriend was Mad Max: Fury Road and that was before we started dating)
-Homecooked meal

4. Food:

Classic. Proposing with a girl's second biggest love: FOOD.

This is a cake.(gccouture)

(palomasnest)

5. During an Event

-Sporting Event
-Movie
-Concert

Check out more ideas here, here, here, here and here

 

Blushing Belle: Top 10 Wedding on a Budget Tips

Weddings are incredibly special, beautiful, fun, tedious and EXPENSIVE. It's your special day, and a fairy tale moment. So, how can you have your perfect wedding without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips that will hopefully help soften the budget!

1. DIY

You can spend 12 minutes on Pinterest and find hundreds of amazing DIY ideas from wedding decor, invitations, recipes, recycling, etc. Doing projects yourself instead of shelling out the cash for wedding favors, decorations or what have you, it can be much cheaper to buy supplies in bulk in order to craft the items yourself. This not only is fiscally responsible, but it really adds a personal touch to your special day.
(buzzfeed
Invest in a Cricut. Seriously. These things are magical and can do ANYTHING. You can do all of your decorations, thank you cards, invitations, name cards and more with this device. 

2. Write up a budget. Start planning early. 

After you're done replying to all of the Facebook comments, texts and carrier pigeons sending congratulations on the engagement, start planning. When it comes to your budget (I recommend Microsoft Excel, but I'm a nerd. There are a ton of apps you can use specifically for wedding costs if you're more into that!), outline your dream wedding first. If you could have everything you wanted from guests to cake to decorations to location, what is that you want and what is it that you're looking for? After you get that out of your system, start downsizing to realistic expectations. After that, decide on the number that you would wish to spend (we'll go with $5,000-$10,000.) Once that number has been selected, assign an amount to an item (for example: $2,500 to venue, $1,000 to dress, $1,500 to bridesmaid dresses, $2,000 food and drink, etc.) Keep track of your spending and prioritize. Also, the earlier you start the easier it is to book cheaper venues and other things.
Wedding Cost Estimator
(swankywedding) 

3. Something borrowed.

Whether you can rifle around in your grandma's attic or a Goodwill, sometimes borrowed is better. You can recycle anything from dresses, jewelry, or decorations. Save on costs by seeing what you already have available to you.
(weddinglovely)
(weddingtonway) 

4. Shop online.

Shop online for deals, sales, and items you may not be able to find in stores. Shameless plug here, but Redneck Couture has beautiful, handmade jewelry for brides and bridesmaids that won't take a massive chunk out of your budget and shipping is FREE. They make for excellent accessories for the bridal party or for a gift!

Recycle Your Wedding 
29 Places to Shop for Your Wedding Online

5. Printables!

Some people make it their duty in life to create fantastic printables for any and every occasion from place mats, name tags, invitations, to activities, game boards and more! Printables can range from being free to $3.00, but are worth it instead of blowing hundreds of dollars on invitations, thank you cards and other stationary and decoration needs.
(everythingetsy)
31 Free Wedding Printables

6. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen get to dress themselves.

Spending money on bridesmaids' dresses and suits for the groomsmen can be stressful for anyone that's spending money on it. Select a color that you're into and instruct your bridal party to get a dress of any kind in that color. That way they can spend whatever they want on a bridesmaid dress and it won't cost you a dime. You can perhaps invest in an accessory that unifies all of the bridesmaids (perhaps Boot Bling, necklaces, little clutches, a DIY piece of jewelry, etc.), but ultimately you can let them select and worry about their own outfits. 
(pinterest)
(chicvintagebrides)
4 Things to Remember If You Let Your Bridesmaids Pick Their Own Dresses
Why Letting Your Bridesmaids Pick Their Own Dresses Can Work
3 Things You Can Let Your Bridesmaids Choose

7. Non traditional gifts.

"Thanks for the solar powered shower head, Aunt Deborah!" said no one ever. Going the traditional wedding registry route is a good idea (get everyone else to buy you dishes, kitchen appliances and that fancy quilt from Bed, Bath and Beyond); however, sometimes people will try to get you something similar to the things you ask for and you end up with stuff you don't need or already have. Asking for help with wedding costs, or sometimes just cold hard cash money may be a nice alternative to consider.
(sheahomes

8. Food and Drink.

Explore and keep your options open. Almost all budgets take the biggest hits when it comes to venues and the food and drink options. Buffets are a nice way to save on food costs. Making your own appetizers are a good idea as well, for most places gouge for that. Come up with a signature drink for the bar instead of having an expensive open bar. You can also do a BYOB or pot luck wedding.
(ashleysbrideguide) 

9. Plan for the honeymoon in advanced.

Start a honeymoon fund (a jar in the kitchen or perhaps even a honeyfund) or invest in a credit card to use for all of your wedding costs that can reward you with miles or rewards for travel such as car rentals, resorts, hotels, etc.
(forevermoreevents)

10. Ask for help.

Whether you want to hire an expert (most of which will try his/her best to save you as much money as possible so that you can pay him/her more), ask Mom/Dad, your best friend, or even just the internet. Seek out help for costs, funds, money, ideas, and ways to make your wedding planning easier or less stressful. Take all of the time you need. 
26 Ways to Save on Your Dream Wedding
Cheap Wedding Ideas
21 Clever Tricks to Make Any Wedding So Much Easier
47 Ways to Have an Almost Free Wedding
17 Useful Wedding Cheat Sheets


 

 

Blushing Belle: The Wedding Photos

Your wedding is a special day that you'll hopefully want to remember forever. Make sure to capture it anyway you can!

Step One:

Do you want photos? Photos and video? Just video? Staged photos? Candids? 
(bridalicious)

Don't be overwhelmed! It's actually better to have too many options than no options at all. When it comes to figuring out what kind of photo package you want with your wedding here are the following items to consider:

-Budget
-Date (figure in weather, sunlight, etc.)
-Wedding party (how many bridesmaids and groomsman are there? are there many kids involved?)
-Photographer/videographer
-Time (how much time do you have for photos on the wedding day? how long do you want the photo shoot to be? do you want a photo shoot a few days before the wedding?)
-Complexity (how involved do you want these photos to be? poses? props? locations? photoshop?) 

When you step back and consider these options, it'll help you hone what you want to do.

Options:
Just Straight Up Photos
This is just photos. Gather the wedding party an hour, hour and a half before the wedding ceremony to take photos outside of the location, at home, the hotel or wherever you choose. Then have the photographer grab candids during the reception--such as the first dance, daddy daughter dance, mother son dance, cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet, the garter game, people sitting and eating together, etc. Sometimes just photos are better because have you ever really watched a wedding video after the fact?

Photos and Video
There are plenty of really fun ways to capture a wedding in both photo and video. Hire both a photographer and videographer to capture the events of the day.

Documentary Experience
You could document the whole wedding from development to reception by taking photos and video of the planning, prepping and finally the wedding itself. Then throw it all together for a documentary of your lovely journey!

Step Two:

You've narrowed down what you want, now it's time to find a photographer or videographer.
Redneck Couture recently did an amazing Wedneck photo shoot to show off our new Wedneck Couture Boot Bling. Tom and Holly Fuller of Fuller Photography did an amazing job. We didn't just pick them out of a hat though, we did our homework first.

When choosing a photographer you want to consider similar factors as you did above--mainly budget. However, you also may want to consider equipment that is needed, where you want to shoot, etc. Find a photographer that you like too. You not only trust their ability, but you're comfortable with him/her taking photos of you and your family.

Look at a photographer's previous work to really get an idea of their style and ability--not only when it comes to the photographs, but the post work on the photographs as well.

Research photographers in your area online. Many photographers have their own websites, Tumblrs or you can even find them on Pintrest. Ask your friends that have had wedding photographers if they have any recommendations as well.

Step Three:

Time to plan the actual photo shoot. Now, more often than not you can meet with the photographer you have selected and the two of you can bang all of this out together and allow him/her to express their artistic vision, but then again...it's your special day. Where do you want the shoot to be done? When do you want it done? How long do you want it to take? How many people are going to be involved? What else will be involved? Make a checklist, sketch out a storyboard, or look at other photos online to get inspiration. Any way that helps you organize your thoughts and helps you figure out how you want to best capture your day is a good way.

Locations-

You can do wedding photos in plenty of places. Some people choose to do the photos at the venue itself, more often than not there are venues that have specified outdoor and indoor areas for such events. Others take photos at home in the backyard or in the house itself. People go to studios, local parks, and all over! Keep your options open based off of preference, convenience and budget.

Local Parks
First off, make sure you can legally take photos in the park. Sometimes you have to get a permit issued, but costs little to nothing and isn't a painful process. However, other places sometimes are so large and public that you can shoot wherever and whenever. Don't forget to pick a semi isolated area so that you don't get many photo bombers. Choose a park that is pretty, nice, has variety or perhaps even sentimental value.

At the Venue
Doing photographs outside before the venue is a great option considering the lighting. Photographers love natural lighting because it can make life very easy. Scout out locations at your venue, or in the surrounding areas. That way you can take photos before the wedding and then get the show on the road!

Unique Spots
Perhaps you and your bridal party want to do a unique and fun photo shoot based on your personality. For example, if you're a fancy redneck you might want to do a wedding shoot at an Arboretum among all of the nature, trees and dirt. Or find a local farm that will let you take photos in and around the barn and animals. Choose a location that reflects the life that you plan on spending with your significant other for forever.  

(bridalmusings)
(carriedarlingsevents)

(bellapictures)

(theknot)

Theme-

You could add a theme to your wedding photos if you'd like. Fancy Redneck, Alice in Wonderland, Retro, Fairy Tale, Disney, Cute Baby Animals, etc.

(tgkdesigns)

(bridalguide)

(weddingelation)

(dailymail)

(theguardian)

Fuller Photography

Props-

Depending on if you want to give your photos a theme or not, and even if you don't want a theme you could still make it fun! Gather props for your shoot to add to the dynamic. Also, props might be fun for the kids in your bridal party. If they have something to interact with or play with, it might make them more cooperative in front of the camera. 

Flowers
Find out which flowers are in season, pick your favorite, gets flowers that match your dress, etc. Flowers are fun and versatile in any photo shoot. PRO TIP: Go to Michael's crafts or Walmart and create a bouquet of faux flowers that way you can keep it forever, but it'll also withstand the test of the whole event. Check out our Blushing Belle: Flower Guide for more tips!
Fuller Photography

(greenweddingshoes)

Stuff
Different and fun props like cut outs, signs, and objects!

(peterson-design-photo)

(wedpics)

(ivy-weddings)

(123cheese)

(branhamperceptionsphotography)

(yeahmag)

Poses-

Fun wedding poses make the memories even brighter. Check out this fun list of awesome wedding poses!
(volkankovancisoy)
(jeremybeasley)
(eminphotography)
(chrisjoriann)
(wedinator)

Most importantly though, have an absolutely wonderful day. Congratulations!

Other Helpful Wedding Photo Links:
Shooting Weddings...When You're Not a Wedding Shooter 
68 Essential Wedding Photography Tips 
10 Wedding Photo Mistakes Every Beginner Will Make 
The Do's and Don'ts of Wedding Photography 

Don't forget to check out our Wedneck Couture line to add that Fancy Redneck touch to your special day. Take plenty of photos and tag us! We would love to feature your beautiful day on our social media!