Saturday, June 25, 2011

Picture Perfect

The second most permanent thing of your wedding is the pictures, and if a picture is worth a thousand words then we have about a million words worth of documentation! The search for a wedding photographer is so much trickier than you would think, and it's worth it to look around and interview a few different photographers before making your choice. We got lucky and landed a gem with Emma Steinmetz Photography-- Emma was so much fun to work with and understood that we weren't a traditional couple and we didn't want traditional photos! 

Emma and her assistant (and my childhood friend) Jenny-Lind at the end of the reception

My partners in crime are in the same vein as Emma, but don't just do weddings-- they do everything! Joanna and Aubrey started Everything Nice Photography recently and offer special pricing for Agape Events clients. They have some really amazing pictures, and how much fun for them that they get to start with a couple getting married and follow them through their lives together!! 

Friday, June 24, 2011



We all know that music/dancing is in the top three awesome things about weddings (the other two being food, and people we like gettin' hitched), so if you don't have a DJ what should you do? Make your own playlist!! We all have that friend who really wishes they were a professional DJ and with the iPod docks getting cheaper, smaller, and louder by the day you can take your speakers with you to the venue and get a feel for how loud they are. If not, talk to a friend in a band (yeah, you know you have one) and see if they can hook up the speakers to your dock which is something even I can do. (For the record, there are five year olds who can work sound systems better than I can!)

There were some obvious choices (for us, Blues Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Etta James) but then I sat down and started looking at the guest list-- were there songs that I associated with folks that would be good for the event? Were there more musically in touch people than myself who might have a better suggestion than BSB's "Everybody"?

Utilize your guest list, make everyone feel like they're part of the planning process, and take some of the stress off your shoulders all at once!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Going back a few pages..

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I would do a post on why it's so important to take your time planning a wedding. If you're an indecisive person, it might not be the best fit, but if you're someone who needs to watch your budget then a year's engagement might be just what you need.

First step always is creating your budget-- if you don't know what you have to spend, you'll end up spending too much, and that applies in all areas of life! Sometimes this takes more than a few minutes because you will ALWAYS forget something! "What's that you say? We need something for people to toast with? Can't they just do that with air?"


Secondly is creating your "look"-- do you want it to be a simple spring wedding or are you looking for the pretty pretty princess wedding with jewels, a big dress, and a cake taller than yourself? Either way, you'll want time to make the centerpieces made from Bell jars OR to save up a little extra coin to rent out the Kennedy family jewels and find a baker who does the best combination of almond cake with raspberry filling.

Thirdly is dress shopping, for you AND your wedding party-- since we gave my bridesmaids a lot of notice, they were able to find their dresses on sale which saved a few of them almost $50!! For a volunteer position that requires such a financial commitment (especially on the part of out of towners), it's not just nice but polite to give your wedding party as much forewarning of possible.

There are a thousand other little details to think about with your wedding and there won't ever be a time when you have everything covered, which is why my profession exists! If you can't afford to hire a wedding planner, I've got you covered-- once our move is finished I will start producing my own DIY planning handbooks to be sold on Etsy! (don't you worry, I'll keep you posted on that)

All of that said, the biggest tip I could ever give you is... write it all down! Take a little note pad with you and jot down every idea that comes in to your head from the second you start thinking you might get engaged-- when you have a date set, you can finally start working everything in to your calendar!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sticky Situation

So we all have that moment when addressing our beautiful invitations that we start to try and shoot ourselves for not using pre-made address labels, or at least I did... when we had our save-the-dates printed up it started to get annoying so I picked up some adorable personalized labels from Etsy (tishtica).

It was perfect because since I hand stamped our invitations they matched the design and looked beautiful on the white envelopes! Now, of course, that personalized ink stamps are starting to surface everywhere there's a part of me kicking myself for not looking further in to it, especially since I ordered a roll of clear ones to put on our thank you notes, which cost another $20 with shipping! $60 on address labels... the average cost of a personalized rubber stamp is $30!

So, I went back to Etsy for a look, and lo and behold there are some really amazing things available-- who would have thought? Sweet Papery is the one that caught my eye first, and there's too much fun to be had on this site!

I especially love this for a new couple-- with just first names, you can order them to use on your save the dates, invitations, response cards, and thank you notes!! $25 isn't a lot to spend compared to $60+ so even if you move soon after the wedding, you won't be out a ton for a temporary item.  

What do I love even more? For the couple with a large guest list and a crafty inclination-- Save the Date and Thank You stamps!!

My husband and I are moving soon and I will DEFINITELY be checking out these stamps instead of buying new labels-- I'm not big on the self inking ones since they tend to have a specified life span, and if you get just the mounted rubber block you can go buy a few different colors of ink and have the cutest envelopes in the post!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Registry Madness

Drawers full of registry gifts!!

I'm really not sure how this blog would stay afloat without my friends and family-- I may be creative, but darned if I don't get the worst case of brain freeze when I sit down to bang out something for this blog!

My father is responsible for reminding me of this topic, with a very interesting article on registry trends in recent years by the Wall Street Journal. "Bison Brown bath towels," he said, "Who knew?"

Registries have been changing a lot recently, and though the WSJ is correct about one factor being that people are getting married later in life, I think we're also seeing more couples who choose to live together before getting married. Personally, I'm all for it-- I knew a girl once who didn't live with her fiance, and after getting married were divorced three months later because they couldn't stand living with each other!! The other upside is that when you live together, you tend to already have most of what you need.

My husband and I had most of what we needed, so we went big and registered almost entirely for kitchen things-- things we wouldn't always have the money to pick up, things that were definitely a "wish" list for entertaining friends and family in our future home. A good knife block, serving platters, a blender, and nice china were the best things we got and I was a-ok with picking up a few of the smaller kitchen gadgets on our own as we found the need for them (oh, hello melon baller!).

My friend Caitlin is getting married in a few weeks and since she and her fiance have survived a few years of living together and a nearly cross country move, they have pretty much all they need. The one thing they don't have as graduate students? Money. So their registry covers a few kitchen gadgets and a honeymoon fund! I wish I had thought of the honeymoon fund, it would have been more enjoyable than even my beautimous china... they set up a site through which lists out the details of where they want to go on their honeymoon. We sent them money to have brunch and do a little shopping, which we were able to do since we can't make the trip up to Philly.

I love looking through our kitchen and seeing a collection of friends and family there, but the same thing could be achieved looking through honeymoon pictures! If you don't need much, don't register for much-- nobody these days will look down on you for asking that you send them what they would have spent for a honeymoon fund, a car fund, a baby fund, or a mortgage fund. While I love the little gifts I've picked up on and off of registries for friends, I also love that I'm a part of helping Caitlin and Dusty get what we didn't-- a honeymoon and an essential part of anyone's blossoming marriage.

Monday, June 20, 2011

BBQ-- BaBy-Q!

My friend Libby is fairly pregnant at this point and had her baby shower Saturday-- she is the inspiration for this post because they decided to have a "BaBy-Q" and that. is. brilliant. My friends Colleen and Ingrid had a baby shower last year for their week-apart babies and it was cowboy themed. Now, in my mind, a BaBy-Q combines the best of both worlds-- cute decorations like cowgirl boots (Libby is having a girl), fun activities like tug of war over a baby pool, and lots of grilling and beer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy Dearest

At mother's day, we talked about a mother/daughter dance and things you can do to remember mothers at weddings-- now that it's father's day, we'll talk about the ever popular father/daughter dance!

I've been to many a wedding with a father/daughter and mother/son dance-- it's very touching, but let's be honest... nobody wants to sit around and watch the bride have a cheesy moment with her father while being forced to listen to "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle for the billionth time. Also, let's be honest, a song that my father and I always liked was "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who and that is SO not a wedding song or even one that anyone else would understand.

Instead, how about a father's toast? Everyone likes a toast at a wedding, it means you get to take one more swig of champagne, and most fathers don't tend to get a chance to say how they feel about the couple and the journey they're about to go on in life. Yeah, OK, so a toast isn't a novel thought, but I'm also willing to bet that most dads out there are a little more excited about public speaking than public dancing!

If you happen to be in the position of not having your father with you and you have notice, set up a small remembrance table or a series of pictures of you and your father-- the you here can refer to bride or groom, as frequently the groom's father isn't really mentioned. I'm a big fan of the pictures at receptions trend, so there will be more on that later.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

THIS One's For the Boys!

Amy Atlas is my hero, and that's just about all there is to it-- I adore her designs, and her take on Father's Day can be perfectly transitioned to a groom's shower OR a party for the groomsmen. Not that my bridesmaids and I are complaining, but the girls always get the glory when it comes to weddings and I don't know why the guys shouldn't get a little something, too!

When I picked out presents for our groomsmen, I tried to make them very old-school manly. Each guy got a vintage pair of cufflinks (with the exception of Joe, who got Mario and Luigi cufflinks because let's face it, that's just Joe), two little cigars that were "just the right size" and definitely the right price, an airline sized bottle of their favorite liquor, and some manly smelling tangerine mint hand sanitizer which was really just the most manly I found and turned out to be a big hit! This was all dressed up in a black and grey striped bag with silver paper. Amy Atlas has the super sized version of my idea and some of these might not be too hard to pull off for us mere mortals!

Fuzzy, but you get the idea-- Joe's cufflinks matched my husband's which were 1 UP Mushrooms!

Take this six pack, for example

(I'm on a Mac and don't know how to crop pictures, please don't judge me!)

If you can find some scrapbook paper in your wedding colors, you can wrap the bottles in that instead of just generic polka dots. Doing bowties instead? Cut out some bowties for the beer! You can find cookie cutters in every shape and size these days, so finding the right one for your guys shouldn't be hard and you can decorate them up like AA did with the ties below.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This one's for the girls!

After all my crazy wedding shennanigans were over, I neglected to unenroll myself from all the e-mail lists. Sometimes, it's annoying, but sometimes I find a little gem like this one from Dessy-- they've decided to go whole hog in to the "nobody ever wears that dress again" sentiment and have started a program called "Newly Maid" for the bridesmaid in need of a LBD.

Now, you're probably thinking to yourself that it sounds too good to be true, and it sort of is-- when you start looking in to the details, you realize that you don't actually get to swap out dresses, but that Dessy has six styles of dresses that range in price from $165-200 before your Newly Maid discount and are dropped in price from $90-115.

Now, I'm not the kind of gal that's going to spend $90 on a dress, especially if I've already spent the money in the first place, but if you have a particularly hideous dress that you couldn't think about wearing again to save your life then maybe this is the deal for you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Getcha hur did Pt. 2

OK, so really we have to talk about hair for a second. If you're like me, you spend most of your life with the "easy" option-- generally speaking, a ponytail. If you have something big going on, why not toss the usual style, forget torturing it with the straightener and go get a blowout? It's the difference from your hair looking like this...

And looking like this...

Taking the time to either style your hair yourself or the $30 to go up to the salon and have them do it could be that big of a difference. Clearly, this isn't a huge difference, but to me it's big enough. When you have an event, whether it's your best friend's wedding or a Christmas party you've been going to for the last 13 years, you don't want to look back at the pictures and wince just a little. That's what the 80's/early 90's were for, they're good at it, so from now on I'm saving my winces for the over-sized star print sweater from third grade.

Need a good blowout? Check out fresche in Oakhurst (yes, yes, I'm their biggest fan EVER) where a basic blowout starts at $25 which isn't much to pay a few times a year for your favorite events! They also do makeup sessions AND makeup lessons for those of us who only ever khol'd our eyes for the stage and feel a little like Cleopatra sometimes.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gift Horsing Around


So your wedding party is spread out over the US and you've been dreaming of gift cards as a final thank you for their assistance... but how do you know what's in their area? What if they're picky? What if they already have everything and couldn't really use another Target gift card?

Enter the online discount industry! Groupon, Half Off Depot, Double Take Deals, LivingSocial, Crowd Cut, and others are spread around the US and tend to pick the better restaurants and shops in the area to promote with deals. Just check out the hometown deals and get them dinner, lunch, or even a massage!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Designing Women

WOW! Let's be honest, I would probably never wear these shoes, but I know a bunch of folks who would and they would TOTALLY glam up a wedding! Best part? They're on a big discount because you have the Scoutmob coupon for Cherry Bomb! One of the great things about Scoutmob, Groupon, and Half Off Depot is that they offer services outside of restaurants and health/beauty-- namely, boutiques. 

Many boutiques in the Decatur area especially carry jewelry, trinkets, hair bows, and gifts for all-- all things that can be used in the overall planning and execution of a wedding! You could buy for you or a particularly amazing member of your wedding party, even for mothers of brides and grooms! Keep an eye out for these deals, they're going to be a huge help!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reception Connection

We got really lucky with our reception location-- The Solarium at Scottish Rite does special pricing for residents of the 30030 zip code within a certain set of parameters. Since we got married in the winter time, we felt comfortable waiting for the six week deadline so we could snag this amazing venue! Look at community related venues to see if they have similar deals; you could end up changing the venue at the last minute, but that isn't a given and with communication so readily available it's much easier to alert guests to a change in plans!

If you're looking for a deal on a smaller reception venue, say you have a more intimate group of people, you can always look at Wahoo's setup-- they're open for private parties and you can even find a deal in the Savvy Shopper (a local coupon publication we get stuck in our mailbox once a month) for anywhere from $50 off to 10% off your whole bill. The ambiance there is delightful and the food... well, if I talk about the food I'm just going to get hungry all over again!

If you look at restaurants in the area, you're likely to find they do have private party rooms that are available for a minimal price compared to renting an entire venue and paying for a caterer, plus you don't have to worry about setup and breakdown! Also, if you choose a restaurant with a Groupon, etc. deal they may let you take that amount off your tab if they're feeling generous!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Getcha hur did

One of the expenses I finally bit the bullet on for my wedding was getting my hair done-- thankfully I figured out that Fresche (which was right across from our reception site and two minutes from the church) has a really reasonable price on that sort of thing, but what if I hadn't been so lucky? Or what if someone in your wedding party just needed a bit of a touch up? DoubleTakeDeals has had recently, and Groupon as well, coupons for local salons including Fresche and (I believe) Salon Red. Even if you can't find a salon you like on the coupon circuit, you can frequently find specials on their websites! Also, if you have a regular stylist and you're a good customer and have done referrals to others, there's a possibility you could talk them in to helping you out if you're tight on money. Scoutmob has had a slew of them lately, as well.

I did make the decision not to get my nails done before the wedding-- it was hard enough to squeeze out $100 for my hair, I just couldn't bring myself to plop down another $30 to have my nails properly done. If this Pampered Nail and Body Spa deal had been around at the time, I probably could have talked myself in to it and maybe passed it on to my bridesmaids as well since the big thing seems to be Spa Days for bridal parties!

If you spend a little time (and I really do mean a little, I found Fresche after a day) looking around you can find plenty of specials online and through the shops-- you may end up with a newer stylist, but it worked out perfectly for me and we had a trial run beforehand to make sure that nothing went wrong!