Saturday, July 31, 2010

I’m A ‘DC Lady’!

My busy summer just got even busier, because I’m excited to add The DC Ladies to the list of awesome blogs where I’m a featured writer! This innovative blog is a forum where ladies of all ages, from all over the D.C. area, can share thoughts and advice on topics we’re passionate about – from fitness and fashion to home design and gardening.

Plus, instead of focusing solely on weddings, I’ll be delving into the realm of events and event-planning as a whole. Check out my first post, a variation on the seating chart advice I shared last week.

Stay tuned for much more to come, including an interview about hosting a fabulous summer party for the kids!

Have an event-related question you’d like answered? Is there a specific topic you think I should cover? I’d love to hear about it!

(Graphic Credit: The DC Ladies)

Friday, July 30, 2010

DIY Wine Corks On Display

When it came to planning our wedding, heaven knows I wasn’t a DIY goddess like some of you fabulous ladies out there. But in our own way, Stephen and I personalized the day and enhanced our theme by adding fun do-it-ourselves touches wherever we thought we might be able to pull them off.

I guess we must have done a pretty good (or at least decent) job, because one of our projects – wine-cork escort-card holders – was recently featured on Lollipops & Paper, a new party-planning and craft blog I love. Check out our step-by-step instructions, and be sure to follow this blog for tons of fun tips and ideas!

If you’re including DIY as part of your wedding, what’s been your favorite project so far?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The ‘First Look’ We Almost Skipped

Like many couples who get married in the Catholic Church, we initially didn’t plan to see each other before the ceremony. I’m no believer in superstition, but I did want that special moment when I would start down the aisle and Stephen would see me for the first time that day. Or did I?

Actually, maybe not. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this would mean I’d spend half the wedding day without the most important person sharing it with me – my groom! So, instead of waiting for the big reveal, we decided to do a “first look” at Gardens of the World, the site where my sister snapped our first set of engagement photos last spring.

Looking back, I can honestly say that seeing each other beforehand is one of the best decisions we made about the entire wedding. It was such a special, unforgettable moment – much more memorable than his seeing me from the end of a long aisle while standing before a church full of guests.

We got to hug and talk, and were then able to capture some of the best photos from the day pre-ceremony, while my makeup was fresh and before things got crazy. Seeing each other also did wonders for our nerves, since we were both more nervous than we thought we’d be.

Here, a few of our favorite still shots. The video footage will be ready soon, too!

Are you planning to do a “first look”? Why or why not?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reception Décor & More

After over a year of planning and prepping, walking into the venue to see our vision brought to life was one of the many incredible highlights of our wedding day. Once again, our team of vendors absolutely shined, with everyone working together to not only meet our expectations, but to truly wow us on top of that. Here, a few of the elements that made for a beautiful reception.

Our DIY escort cards looked so pretty when arranged in front of the golf club’s indoor fountain, flanked on each side by bunches of grapes.

At each dinner table, our postcard table names and wine-bottle holders were a huge hit with guests. Plus, they matched up perfectly with the romantic centerpieces and floral votives created by Lei-Ann at Happy Flowers.

The staff at Los Robles Greens, along with Cari from All Occasions Event Planning, tied everything together to create just the simple yet classy vibe we’d imagined.

Our white chocolate favors, photo-share cards, and puzzles greeted guests as they took their seats.

The cake table, decorated with fresh rose petals, our custom knife, server and flutes, as well as pearl-studded “I Do” letters from Creative Custom Cardboxes, looked absolutely gorgeous. In the first photo above, photographer Alex even captured a creative shot of our invitation balanced between the two glasses.

Though we didn’t spend much time actually sitting there, I loved our sweetheart table, which was decorated with petals and our lovely bouquets.

The dance floor, featuring our custom decal, was packed throughout the night.

LESSON LEARNED: If you can, take a moment to walk throughout your dinner venue as a couple, while your guests are still enjoying the cocktail hour, so that you have a chance to fully see the room decorated and your vision brought to life. Once dinner starts, everything will likely be so fast-paced and crazy that you won’t have another chance to take it all in before things start getting moved around, used up, and so on.

(Photo Credits: Personal Library & Alex Neumann Photography)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When The Groom Becomes The Photographer

I’ve already described how fun and imaginative our photographer Alex was, and one the best things we learned is that his creativity continues even when he’s not the one behind the camera!

How did he manage this? During our sunset photo session, he handed a camera off to Stephen so that he could snap a few fun shots of me! Having the groom take control really helped me loosen up, and I had a blast laughing, blowing kisses, and shimmying around in my dress.

Of course, ever the pro, Alex took advantage of this and captured the entire shoot from the sidelines. Here, a few our favorites, including a couple shot by my very own husband.

Did your photographer have any unique tricks up his or her sleeve, either during the wedding or at your engagement shoot? What about any other vendor?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Post-Wedding Adventure: It’s Back To School I Go!

And now, it’s time to share a post-wedding adventure that is NOT wedding related. Well, at least not entirely.

After a few years of searching, I’m thrilled to have finally found a master’s program that excites and inspires me! Luckily, I was recently accepted, and this fall, I’ll start working part-time toward earning my publishing degree from The George Washington University.

The program’s a perfect way to continue my education while getting back to my roots in the journalism and communications world, which I’ve lately realized just how much I truly miss.

My ultimate goal? To obtain the business skills and know-how to break into online wedding publishing. I’ve already got some ideas in this area, but first, I want to hear from you.

Brides, what do you look for in an online wedding magazine or website? What would make you want to read it and keep coming back for more? Which angles do you think haven’t yet been covered well by the mainstream websites and bridal guides out there? Any and all thoughts are definitely welcome!

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Spotlight: What’s Your Favorite Wedding Theme?

Happy Saturday, ladies! It’s been a crazy week, and I for one am more than ready for at least a few hours of downtime at the fun cookout our friends are hosting this evening.

To keep things relaxed today, I want to hear from all of you! What's the best theme you've ever seen at a wedding? The craziest?

Feel free to respond below or try out the new BlogFrog forum tool I’ve posted in the right column of the page. To kick off the conversation, here are a few pictures of one popular theme that’s just perfect for a spring soiree right here in D.C.

(Photo Credits: Google Images & My Wedding Favors)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet Seats: Seating Chart & Venue Layout Tips

I’ll be straight with you. Our seating chart and venue layout were two of the biggest challenges we faced while planning the wedding. Even so, they were challenges I was totally up for, being the obsessive organizer that I am!

Here's a diagram of the layout we ended up using, plus a few tips that helped me in putting both of these items together -- working in conjuction with our venue staff, of course.

· Plug guests into the seating chart as you receive RSVPs. Yes, you’ll have to arrange and rearrange a few times as you discover that certain people can and can’t make it. But for me, doing it this way was much easier than waiting until the end and starting from scratch with an entire guest list of names.

· Before assigning spots, be sure to double check with your venue to see how many people their tables can comfortably seat. At our venue, most of the tables held only eight guests, but there were four larger ones available that could hold up to 10 people at a time. This is not something you want to find out after you’ve already spent tons of time perfecting the seating chart!

· Need to fill extra space? Ask about strategically placing a couple cocktail tables here and there throughout the room. We ran into this issue, but were luckily able to avoid the appearance of a too empty reception hall. Plus, these tables gave guests a great place to stand and mingle with their drinks!

· Along these lines, don’t forget to discuss with your venue coordinator, or figure out on your own, how many square feet are available in the cocktail hour and reception areas. No one wants a too crowded room or a room overflowing with empty space. And a too big or too small dance floor? A definite recipe for disaster!

· Be sure each person has at least one friend or acquaintance seated at his table. Or, if he doesn’t know anyone else at the wedding, make sure he’s seated with guests he might have something in common with. It’s also a good idea to group tables of families and friends together for easy mingling and conversation.

· The last thing you want to do is seat grandma by the DJ’s speakers, or risk having the cake knocked over as guests rush to the dance floor, so be sure to troubleshoot as you perfect both your seating chart and room layout.

What are your tips or concerns about seating charts and room setup?

(Graphic & Photo Credits: Los Robles Greens & Alex Neumann Photography)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect? (Part Two)

In my last post, I described the way our church’s coordinator assured me that even though the priest skipped out on the rehearsal, he knew what to do, and would closely follow the outline she created. Well, guess what? He didn’t. At the end of our ceremony, the priest skipped entirely over the Irish wedding blessing my sister was supposed to read, prompting the musician to instead start the recessional song.

And since Kellie had been poised to head to the podium, she was unable to hand me my bouquet as I made my exit. Plus, instead of introducing us by our names, as we’d requested, he introduced us as just “the newest couple in the world.” The hurried rehearsal also left the wedding party a bit confused, and they forgot to stand beside us as we said our vows.

After the ceremony, our guests kept raving about what a beautiful ceremony we’d just had. And I agreed with them wholeheartedly. The mishaps went over the heads of everyone but us, and definitely weren’t serious. The church’s director? She even came up to me and said, “Everything went perfectly!” In the moment, I was way too happy and excited to correct her.

But looking back, I can’t help but feel disappointed that the wedding blessing I’d been so enthusiastic about, which honored our shared heritage, wasn’t part of the ceremony, and that my sister didn’t get to participate as a reader.

Practice makes perfect? I guess, but only if the practice is done perfectly, or at least done well.

LESSON LEARNED: If at all possible, insist that everyone with a part in your ceremony, however large or small their roles may be, comes to the rehearsal. This includes the officiant and musicians, who were absent at ours. If you can, also ask the coordinator to lead you through a practice run of the entire ceremony itself, rather than just the processional or just the readings. This will help prevent a lot of confusion at the worst possible moments. And what if things still go wrong? Just smile and roll with it. At that point, there’s nothing that can be done, and trust me, you will be far too happy to care, at least at the time!

What special readings or personalized elements will you add to the ceremony?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect? (Part One)

They say practice makes perfect, but of course that’s only true when you fully do practice! Never was this clearer than at our rehearsal.

The night before the wedding, Stephen and I arrived at the church early to meet with Cari, our day-of coordinator, and transfer all of our treasures into her SUV for setup the following day. After many fun greetings and hugs from our wedding party and family members, the church’s own coordinator took control, leading us through a prayer and the processional.

After that, our readers had a chance to rehearse, and she gave everyone a brief description as to the order of the ceremony, including what the priest would be doing, plus when to sit and stand.

Why was she merely describing what the priest would do rather than his actually doing it? Because he wasn’t there. Though I’d been worried about this aspect all along, the church coordinator had assured me time and time again that the priest – who was still fairly new to performing marriages – knew exactly what to do, and would closely follow the outline she provided him.

Being the calm, cool, chill bride that I was, I took her at her word. But did these famous last words hold true, or did things go horribly awry? Stay tuned…

When and how do you plan to rehearse before the wedding?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Your Wedding Day…Live!

Those who know me also know I’m a media maven. From getting my undergraduate degree in journalism to blogging to constantly checking email, Facebook and CNN on my iPhone, I love being in-the-know and staying connected. On the other hand, I also know how to turn it off and kick back. After all, a girl needs some downtime.

Given my best-of-both-worlds outlook, it took me a while to decide how “connected” I wanted to be throughout the wedding day. Did I want to blog live? Shoot out Facebook and Twitter updates? Or did I want to unplug and just take in the day?

In the end, the hectic nature of the wedding – from the prep time to the final dance – made the choice for me. After blogging live first at our rehearsal dinner, which you can see me doing in the picture above, and then once the next morning while getting my hair done, I cast aside my beloved iPhone in exchange for something much more tantalizing – my wedding dress. And I didn’t pick it back up again until later that night, after all the festivities had finally drawn to a close.

Though part of me wishes I could have blogged more, in the end, I’m glad things worked out the way they did. Instead of taking time out to focus on my phone, I was fully in the moment, enjoying my day and my once-in-a-lifetime moment with Stephen. But, that said, a quick wedding night blog check never hurt anyone, right? LOL!

Do you plan to be “live” on your wedding day?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library & Alex Neumann Photography)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Around The World In 30 Minutes

When I first suggested heading to Gardens of the World for our “first look” and pre-ceremony photos, I got a lot of pushback from family and friends about the idea. It would be too hot. We would end up rushing. Wouldn’t the pictures at the church and reception site be enough? And by the time we got there on the wedding day, I was starting to think that maybe they’d been right all along.

First, we arrived 30 minutes later than expected, and I worried we wouldn’t have enough time to visit many of the areas I'd hoped to. Second, to say that the staff member working with us was less than friendly would be a gross understatement. Not only did she speak to us and to our photographer, who has shot professionally at this site in the past, as though we were children who needed a laundry list of “behavioral” reminders, she actually had the nerve to look around the room and ask, “And who’s the bride?” so that she could give me paperwork to sign. I mean, seriously, who do you think is the bride? The only woman in the room wearing a white lace gown and a tiara, maybe? Geez.

But just when I started to get irritated and think it was all going to be a big bust, we headed out onto the beautiful grounds, and I knew without a doubt that we’d made the right decision. During our 30-minute trip around the world, we got some of the most fun shots of the day, and made some of the greatest memories. Here, a few highlights of the places we traveled to.

A Spanish mission in California…

A serene pond in Japan…

A lovely rose garden in England…

And a beautiful fountain site nestled in the Mediterranean countryside…

Where will you take pre-ceremony photos? Will you visit a site other than your venue at any point during the wedding day?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library & Alex Neumann Photography)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Summer Sweet Pea Wedding

I’ve always loved the smell of sweet peas, and knew early on that this would be the perfect light and romantic scent to wear on my wedding day. Never a huge fan of perfume, I instead went with a rich body butter cream, which helped the scent linger throughout the day, while leaving my skin soft and hydrated for photos.

And the best part? I got my sweet-smelling cream as a gift from a family friend a few months ago, just in time to give it a test run or two!

Are you wearing a special perfume or scent on your wedding day?

(Photo Credit: Google Images)