Summer Wedding Perfection: The Fruit Bouquet

Summer Wedding Perfection: The Fruit Bouquet

Looking for that one last detail to take your summer wedding to perfection? Then look no further because we’ve got you covered!
Nothing makes us think of summer more than fresh flowers and pops of vibrant, fresh fruit, so why not incorporate both into your wedding bouquet and rock a fabulous fruit bouquet?   These fruit bouquets are not only deliciously gorgeous, they are eco and budget friendly as well.

We absolutely love the idea of having fruit slices mixed in with the whole pieces in your fruit bouquet! This allows you to take advantage of the nice texture of fruit inside and out! The insides of those lemons look almost like flowers themselves, but with a surprising pop.

Flickr Photo by Lianne Nichols (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Flickr Photo by Lianne Nichols (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

Oh, and did we mention that it makes your bouquet smell even more awesome? The combination of the fruits and the flowers is heavenly.

For your perfect fruit bouquet, simply pick out your favorite fruits and enjoy! For tips on choosing the best fruit bouquet for your summer wedding soiree, simply contact us!

 

~Blog contributed by Audra Jones

DTA Expert Advice: 5 Effortless Ways To Maintain Wedding Etiquette And Tradition

DTA Expert Advice: 5 Effortless Ways To Maintain Wedding Etiquette And Tradition

Although the engagement ring has been a long standing wedding tradition, thee sign of a pledge to marry, it is certainly not necessary to have a ring in order to be engaged. Some forgo the ring altogether and just have a wedding band, while others wait until after their marriage, when they’re more settled to purchase the ring.

This leads me to an area for discussion. One of the most commonly asked questions I get as a CT wedding planner, usually starts with “is it proper to do ___?” or “is it okay to do ___?”. Ahh, the inescapable wedding etiquette question. Funny how in our modern times, somehow brides are still interested in maintaining a bit of tradition….Good for you!

There is actually, a distinction between “Tradition” and “Etiquette”. Traditions evolve and change with the times, etiquette simply holds firm to the notion of how we interact with each other. Sure, maybe someday soon it will become common for brides to send save-the-dates and wedding invitations via Facebook or Instagram (tradition), but publically discussing invitees on social media may be hurtful for some was not invited (poor etiquette).

Below I’ve outlined 5 Effortless Ways To Maintain Wedding Etiquette And Tradition when planning your wedding:

1. The Tradition Of Announcing Your Engagement

You said yes! It’s traditional to inform the bride’s parents first of the engagement, then others. It is proper etiquette that if you have children from a former relationship/marriage, you should share the news with your ex before he/she finds out from someone else.

 

 

2. Hosting A Reception

Photo by Jason Loves Maggie

It is traditional to host a post-nuptial celebration (reception) and invite guests. Divvying-up and trimming the guest list are a completely separate discussion, but I can tell you that it is appropriate to be sure to invite these 3 groups of people:

  • The officiant who performs your vows and his/her spouse
  • The parents of your youngest bridal attendants— ring bearers and flower girls
  • The spouse, live-in partner, or fiancé of each invited guest (regardless if you’ve never met them before)

 

 

 3. Use The British Spelling For Formal Invitations

A long-standing wedding tradition dictates the British wording and spelling for a formal invitation. When a ceremony is religious or held in a house of worship, the phrase “the honour of your presence” is used. Also keep in mind that your invitation sets the tone for what guests expect, so it is recommended etiquette to be sure all your wedding elements should be consistent (a handwritten invitation would not be suitable for an ultra-formal wedding).

 

Photo By Kasey Matson Photography

Photo By Kasey Matson Photography

4. The Wedding Toast

It’s so exciting to have so many parties and events to attend in your honor (or is it “honour”?) and one of my favorite traditions at the reception, is the toasting of the bride and groom. Usually the host of the event (bride’s father) is the first person to give the toast, followed by attendants and anyone else wishing to give one. Etiquette suggests that the person giving the toast should welcome the guests, keep it light and courteous, and express their pleasure for the future newlyweds—raunchy humor, attacking rants, or overly-embarrassing details make guests uncomfortable. Oh, and a tip for the bride and groom: since you are the ones being honored, you DON’T take a sip from glass, but simply raise them.

 

 

5. The Hand-Written Thank You Note

Flickr Photo By Betsy Weber (CC BY 2.0)

Okay, I hope this last one is obvious, but just in case, always, always, always send a hand-written thank you note to each and every guest who comes to the wedding thanking them for attending and their wedding gift (if you are given cash, it is proper to list how much in the note). And contrary to the wedding tradition rumor that has somehow surfaced in our generation, you don’t “have up until a year” after the wedding to write a thank-you note—just get to it sooner rather than later!

 

 

Need more ideas and wedding advice to keep you on the right etiquette path? Reach out, we’d be glad to help!

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Having An Outdoor Wedding? We Share Our 5 Best Tips Ever!

Having An Outdoor Wedding? We Share Our 5 Best Tips Ever!

Having an outdoor ceremony means there are many ways to personalize your wedding day, but there are also many limitations. taking your first dance as Mr. and Mrs. along a garden or under the moonlight, or  you’ll need to follow these 5 important considerations when having an outdoor wedding.

 

#1 Do This First – Compile Your Guest List Before Choosing Your Venue

One of the most important choices you will make when it comes to your wedding, is where will the wedding celebration take place…Beach? Swanky restaurant? Ball Room? Garden? Each venue location has its share of personality, décor limitations, and logistics, especially when having an outdoor wedding. The amount of guests you are inviting really has the greatest impact in determining where you will have the wedding so before you run-out to have a site tour of your dream-location, consider how many guests would be in attendance first. Having a guest list of 200-plus will not work at an intimate, cozy barn or ranch that can only hold 120 guests. Don’t decide on your location without first considering your guest list.


Outdoor Wedding Ceremony

Outdoor Winery Ceremony | DOC by Down The Aisle

 

#2  The Outdoors May Be More Tricky To “Keep It Simple” As You Think

Saying “I Do” in the great outdoors is one of the most romantic ways to unite your love. Unlike houses of worship, the outdoors lend itself to the natural surrounding beauty. Parks, lighthouses, botanical gardens, historic mansions/estates, beaches and other outdoor venues are charming, but can have their limitations in terms of flow, symmetry, and access.  Is the area that you’re considering flat or sloped? Will you have sufficient heating or cooling to keep comfortable? Will your guests be able to park close-enough to the site? I recall one client who said to me “I just want a simple, beach wedding”. Well, beaches in general, have one of the most difficult regulations and logistics—some don’t allow glass or liquor, garbage disposal may be an issue, parking is not always easy, and keeping guests out of the hot sun and keeping them cool make it challenging. Also keep in mind that with places that are open to the public, it may be difficult to maintain an appropriate perimeter and you will need to keep this in mind when determining your comfort level. Be prepared for beachcombers (beach weddings), people walking their dogs (or them running off their leashes), casual onlookers that will stop to watch your wedding ceremony. This happens all the time in parks, and there is nothing that we can do—as wedding coordinators—to ask them to leave, they have a right to be there. There’s also noise from traffic, surrounding recreation, and of course, pesky insects.  No matter what you decide, you will also need to consider restrooms—that you have enough and that they’re within close proximity.

 

#3 Make Sure Your Big Day Beauty Can Withstand The Big Outdoors

Us ladies know that reapplying lip balm or lipstick is really no biggie, even when you’re the bride (we promise!). But worrying if your bridal look will stand up to the steep stress Mother Nature can dish out (notice I didn’t say your mother-in-law), is something that can be reduced with a little pre-planning. No bride should have to endure limp hair or frazzled ends, or worry if her skin’s glow is starting to look chalky at the days’ end. Things are much different in terms of planning for your beauty look, if you’ll be spending the majority of your wedding day outside. Instead of just pointing to your Pinterest board on a certain look you’re going after, be sure to disclose and discuss your plans for an outdoor wedding when speaking with your hairstylist and make-up team…and we’ve got your back! My two personal favs (both without parabens!), Urban Decay’s All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray and Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Oil are stashed in our “day-of emergency bag”, ready to combat any of the ladies’ droopy makeup or to smooth any wiry strands.

 

#4 Electricity—The Unglamorous Forgotten Detail

Remember 2013’s “Big Game” XLVII ‘s electrical power outage at the New Orleans Superdome which delayed a half hour of the game? Well even if you can’t remember, just know it can happen at your wedding. And here’s another tidbit: just because a venue location has a power source available, it doesn’t mean that the total amount of power is usable, nor does it mean just because you can plug into it, that you’re able to power it—there needs to be a “buffer” so that a risk of tripping the breakers is kept to a minimum. Indoors there’s usually no problem, but bringing everything outside could be complicated. Be sure to inquire on the electrical source at your site.

 

#5  Avoid Outdoor Wedding Mishaps With The Assistance Of A Wedding Planning Team

The stakes are always high when there’s a large group of people celebrating outdoors, and the bride and groom are spending a small fortune to make it happen. Don’t get blinded by all the glamorous “pretty” details and forgo the important logistics, permits, equipment and clean-up needed.

Our team has personally worked through our share of inclement weather (a snow storm in October comes to mind, as well as two hurricanes) so we know how to aesthetically plan for inclement weather, and we’ve also become quite “electrical savvy”. With clients who chose an at-home wedding or a raw historic location, we usually look-into redundant backup generators (two generators that run simultaneously, but if one fails, the other picks up the load allowing for no outage) or a standard generator with a transfer switch. We also discuss the electrical power supply situation with the band or DJ to avoid any electrical mishaps.

Another way we’ve helped our couples with preparing for inclement weather is by offering “tent insurance” via a third party tent rental company. With (usually) a half-up front deposit to reserve the tent, the tent is held on reserve, but only installed and set-up last minute, with the remaining balance due that day if it’s needed due to inclement weather. We’ve also had fans, heaters or lighting on standby so guests can remain comfortable and be able to see, should the power go out. A skilled coordinator can also augment your venue’s onsite coordinator with your “Plan B” alternative indoor location should your outdoor one become unavailable.

Don’t just Pin your dreams, pursue them with us. Reach out to us anytime on ways we can help at your outdoor wedding site!
Cheers,

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What’s In? The Top 5 Wedding Trends For 2016

What’s In? The Top 5 Wedding Trends For 2016

There’s plenty to rave about in 2016’s wedding trends, from the smaller, more intimate affair to metalics, to the “reveal it (almost) all” wedding gown. Down The Aisle shares the Top 5 Wedding Trends For 2016:

1. Metalics–Bright-colored combinations paired with splashes of metalics are the big hit on the runway and in décor. While we’re still seeing Gold and Silver as top choices for metalics, we’ve also noticed Rose Gold—even on the bride’s ring finger—making its way towards the wedding design theme. Elements such as glittered vases and table runners as well as chairs, plates, cutlery, and table legs are areas we’re seeing the metalics, which can simultaneously add a hint of glam and warmth to the details.

RU GlassTable_METALICS

 

2. The See Through Trend –It’s on the red carpet and now it’s made its way to the wedding aisle. Cut outs and lace designs that showcase a peek of revealing skin. Grab the fashion tape, because whether it’s done tastefully or to shock, the see-through trend has arrived.

 

3.Long Tables –Especially popular with barn weddings, the long reception table versus a round table is trending. Long tables are not only a remarkable way to play-up your space, they’re unexpected, and give guests that “family tradition” feeling. Use one continuous long table to really transform your space, especially outdoors!

Flickr Photo by Andy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Flickr Photo by Andy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

4. Smaller Weddings – A large 150+ guest list has been declining while the trend has moved to a smaller guest list. Don’t misunderstand—going “smaller” doesn’t mean that you’re going “informal”, or that the details and personalization no longer matter, it’s that having a smaller wedding allows for more time mingling and socializing with guests. Many of our couples are even opting for a longer cocktail hour to allow for meaningful socializing and spending time with their loved ones before hitting the dance floor. Couples are also realizing that having a smaller guest count, means that there’s more wiggle room in the budget to hire better-quality wedding pros—always worth the investment in our eyes.

 

5. Braids Are In, Jewelry Is Out –Since roughly 90 percent of brides choose strapless, jewelry has become the obvious “norm” with regard to enhancing a neckline. Not anymore. Tousled one-sided braids and intricate braid chignons are all the rage. While pearls are still a common tradition with brides, some are skipping jewelry altogether to allow the focus on the bride’s showstopping hair, while nails and make-up remain neutral and subtle.

Flickr Photo by Wicker Paradise (CC 2.0)

Flickr Photo by Wicker Paradise (CC 2.0)

Want to incorporate some of these trends in your wedding day to elevate it to the next level? We’ll help connect you in the right direction, reach out to us for a chat!

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You’re Engaged! What’s Next?

You’re Engaged! What’s Next?

So, you’ve just changed your status and posted the pic with a spouse-to-be on your arm and a sparkler on your left hand, so now what? We’re sharing a how-to guide for what steps to take after you get in engaged. Yep, we’re serious — in our book, it’s always good to be proposal prepared!

Photo By Jason Loves Maggie

Photo By Jason Loves Maggie

1. Enjoy the moment together.

We know that you’re dying to post a ring selfie and announce to the word that you’re gonna be a Mrs., but trust us when we say that you’re life won’t end if you don’t immediate take to social media. After the proposal, take a few moments to just be with each other and revel in the moments. This is a time you’ll never be able to get back, so make sure to really soak up the memories while they’re unfolding before your eyes!

2. Call your close friends and family first.

Once you guys are ready, go ahead and make the big announcement to your closest friends and family. This doesn’t mean send a mass text or post a generic “for all the see” post on social media — this means calling those that are closest to you and personally letting them know. Or, better yet, sharing the new in person. Those that are near and dear to your hearts will appreciate the kind gesture and it will make them feel special that they didn’t find out that you’ve gotten engaged through a Facebook or Instagram post.

3. Announce on social media when you’re ready.

Then, when you’re ready, feel free to post the details, the ring picture, the post-proposal pictures, and all that jazz to all your social media sites. We promise that within seconds flat, you’ll have the most comments and likes you’ve ever received in your whole online-present life.

4. Get the ring insured.

Obviously, we don’t expect you to call up your insurance company immediate after he drops to one knee, but we are serious when we say that having your engagement ring ensured is a VERY good decision. The purchase was a big one for your spouse-to-be, so make sure the investment is covered should you lose your ring, drop it down the sink, etc. Yes, this kind of stuff happens all the time.

Photo By Candace Jeffrey Photography

5. Treat yourself to a manicure.

In the months after you get engaged, you better bet that everyone and their brother is going to want to see your new bling. Prepare your hands for their big performance by treating yourself to a gorgeous manicure!

6. Start looking at potential dates. 

As wedding planners, we know that the date is key when it comes to budget, snagging all the vendors you want, scoring a great local venue, etc. So, start talking about potential dates of your wedding early. Pick out 2-3 potentials and go from there. Usually, you’ll find over time that one date works out much better than all the others.

7. Start brainstorming & browsing ideas. 

It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want your big day to do look like, so go ahead and browse on Pinterest, flipping through magazines, having brainstorming sessions with your fiancee and family, and envisioning what you want for your dream day! Having some idea of what you like early on will help guide you to the right vendors right off the bat, which is an amazing advantage to have when you’ve got a million details to figure out.

8. Set your wedding budget.

As soon as you and your fiancee are ready to start looking into booking a venue and hiring vendors for your wedding day, we suggest that you first sit down as establish a budget. Doing this will help narrow your search and will give you a realistic idea who and what you can afford to include in your day.

9. Hire a wedding planner.

Sure, we’re biased, but there are definitely real benefits to hiring a wedding planner as soon as you get engaged. First of all, it helps you figure out important details early and gives you immediate access to the planner’s recommendations for venues and vendors (we know what things cost to save you that research). Plus, hiring a wedding planner early in the game also helps you save money and have a stress-free experience all the way from “yes!” to “I do.”

10. Have an engagement party!

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate! If you aren’t the big engagement party type, keep things small – have an intimate backyard BBQ, invite your best friends and immediate family over for a dinner prepared by you and you fiancee, or go for cocktails as a group. Whatever you do, remember that getting engaged is a big deal — don’t get bogged down in wedding planning details and forget all about the reason for the ring.

There you have it, current and future brides-to-be! Are you looking for expert help to get you started, now that you’re engaged? Explore more about our services here

 

~Blog contributed by Audra Jones

 

Bridesmaid Drama: She’s Decided To Back Out

Bridesmaid Drama: She’s Decided To Back Out

An email from one of our current brides: I’m having some bridesmaid drama at the moment, and she’s decided to back out before the wedding. I’m really hurt. What do I do?

Like every wedding, emotions and stress run high during the planning process. We’ve got that fact down to a science. But the stress can become personally attached, as we’ve seen when dealing with all things pertaining to the bridal party.

C&A Bridesmaids

But now you’ve asked your friend/relative/colleague to be a part of your wedding party, she accepts, but then has a change of heart. It is heartbreaking. While tradition (wayyy back) dictated that only illness or a death in the family would be the sole reason for reneging on being a bridesmaid, we all know today is much different than days from the past. Someone may relinquish from wanting to be a bridesmaid due to pregnancy, a critical business-trip, school demands or family issues. Or perhaps a jealous maid. Or maybe she only accepted because you were in her wedding. With our current bride’s dilemma, this particular bridesmaid just didn’t understand the financial commitment being a bridesmaid entails.

Our professional on whether or not to replace her or not is this:

If the situation has happened very early-on, then there is no harm in asking another person to step-in, someone who may not have even known they weren’t chosen in the first place.  If the ex-bridesmaid creates more drama or has “let the cat out of the bag”, you could still ask someone else, explain what has happened, and as a nice gesture, offer to absorb the costs associated.

However if the planning is well under way or the bridesmaid backed out last minute, it’s best to carry on without that attendant—you wouldn’t want to offend someone by asking them in the eleventh hour. Just be sure your programs, table seating cards, and processional are all up to par with the change.

Give us a holler, we’d love to help you solve your wedding woes, or get you started on the right path.

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I Don’t Need Another Toaster: How Am I Supposed To Know What To Register For?

I Don’t Need Another Toaster: How Am I Supposed To Know What To Register For?

So you’re engaged planning for your wedding, and now you have to think about the bridal registry, too? When should you register? What should you register for? And where? Read below for some key guidelines to help you along:

Photo by jenandjon Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo by jenandjon Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

1. When Should I Plan To Register?  Many brides often ask “how early should I register” and I would recommend as early as possible. Some guests may want to have the “top pick” from your registry list. Take our word from one of our interns who works as the manager of her retailer’s wedding registry who suggests 6-9 months prior to the wedding. Anything beyond that, and the registry software may have gone through an update (and you may need to make some additional updates on your end…or worse!), or your taste(s) may change, and you’ll be deleting and adding to the registry, causing yourself more work and angst.

 

2. How Many Stores Should I Register At? – There are no “correct” amount of stores that you need to register at. Instead of thinking “how many”, think about variety. Your guests will feel more at ease if there are several options within all price ranges, both online and in-store options. Also, some guests go-in as a group when purchasing a gift. Keep in mind if your registry is “up” during the holidays, you may have friends/family who wish to make a selection from your registry.

 

3. Where Should I Register And What Should I Register For? – You may want to consider specialty stores or national department stores for the widest variety. But you’re not limited there—maybe you want to remodel a certain room in your home, so you may want to register at a home improvement store (that’s what we did!). Or perhaps you do a lot of traveling, and want traveling necessities like luggage, organizers, iPad accessories, etc. Or perhaps you are the “outdoorsy” type and want to register for a tent, grill, umbrella, etc. Can’t make a decision or are you two polar opposites? You can each “part ways” – I know of a bride who loved to read, and wanted to stock their library, and so she registered for books. Or if your fiancé likes to cook, or is concerned about the bar, he can take “that area”. One gem we love, is MyRegistry.com, which syncs all of your registries from different retailers into one location (psss…you can also register for cash! See tip #5 below!).

 

 

4. How Do I Let Guests Know Where I Am Registered? – This one is easy. You can let guests know where you are registered in any fashion except in the wedding invitation (shower invitation of course, is fine). So word of mouth, save-the-dates can have info listed, or on your wedding website.
5. Can I Register For Cash? – If you’d like, sure! It’s not just about vases and bed linens anymore. Many couples are choosing to register for cash, honeymoons, or even frequent flyer miles! Just understand that not all guests may be “ready” for this hip, new swanky wedding registry idea (Aunt Matilda may think it’s tacky). Some firms charge a fee above and beyond the amount of the gift (which the bridal couple can elect to pay so the guests don’t have to), so be sure to do your research first. We love HoneyFund for honeymoons,  or www.usairwaysgiftregistry.com.

The point of your bridal registry is to make sure you don’t end up with 10 toasters, or vases, or two closets full of towels that you may not need. Keep it personal, and you may also snag some discounted items from your registry after you’ve been wed, since many registries let you make a purchase from the registry at a reduced price after the wedding date.

Stressed in other areas of the planning? Want more tips like these? Join in on the fun, here!

Choosing Wedding Flowers: 5 Tips Every Bride Should Know To Keep It Affordable

Choosing Wedding Flowers: 5 Tips Every Bride Should Know To Keep It Affordable

Since the Victorian times, brides have chosen to mark their special day by carrying flowers.  Choosing Wedding Flowers is one of the most exciting yet daunting tasks of the wedding planning experience, as there are hundreds of gorgeous blooms to pick from, which can quickly add up. But if flowers are used sparingly, you can actually save on your Flower tab. We can help in choosing wedding flowers with these 5 tips that every bride should know to keep it affordable:

1) DON’T Use Florals In Your Centerpieces – Sounds counterintuitive, right? But you don’t need to use a main floral display for your centerpiece. Why not instead place individual flowers or a small grouping of flowers in other areas? Add visual interest in non-traditional areas by placing a flower at every guest’s plate,  at empty corners of the room, or at the bar.

Floral Design by The Harwinton Florist

Floral Design Credit: The Harwinton Florist

2. It’s Not The Size Of The Container… Be it a vase, planter, or tea cup, it’s not the size of the container that affects the price when choosing wedding flowers, it’s the size of its opening at the top of the container and the number of flowers needed to fill it. Using a variety of smaller-necked containers (votive candle holders, shot glasses, candle sticks,), your florist can work individual holders into a pattern of densely-grouped flowers for more impact on less of a budget.

 

3.  Share Your Florals With Another Bride – Is there a ceremony or reception taking place either before or after yours? Why not speak with the site’s coordinator about obtaining the other bride’s contact info, and discuss ways to share the expense. Some of our brides have done this by incorporating the sharing of the florals on areas such as the arches, altars, pews or ceremony chairs, the bars, or other common areas.

Ceremony Arch at The Riverview | Floral Design by The Harwinton Florist

Ceremony Arch at The Riverview | Floral Design by The Harwinton Florist

 

4. Accessorizing With Flowers In The Hair – Forget expensive veils or headpieces (which will run $100+), opt instead for a few fresh blooms in your hair. This can easily be a DIY project by individually wiring a few flower heads or individual heads onto a comb or bobby-pin clip, and then have your hairdresser pin them in your hair.

 

5. Something Other Than A Flower   –   Think outside the traditional bouquet, and go for paper flowers, silks, or other design elements such as feathers or ferns!

HFloristmobileupload_Peacockbouquet

Gorgeous Peacock Bridal Bouquet | Floral Design by The Harwinton Florist

 

Whichever way you decide—whether florals will be front and center, or just an accessory—your flowers will be central to your day, and will symbolize hope, love and joy for your future together! Need more help in ways to keep your florals affordable or finding the right florist to work with? We’d love to chat, we have hourly appointments available too! – find out more here.

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8 Tips for Planning the Perfect Engagement Shoot

8 Tips for Planning the Perfect Engagement Shoot

There are literally so many directions you go when planning an engagement shoot that’s perfect for you and the love of your life. In fact, just the thought of all the themes, locations, styles, and outfits you can choose from kinda of makes our heads spin. So, when the option are limitless, how do you go about putting together an engagement shoot that you’ll love for years to come and that’ll really show off your story and your style as a couple? We won’t say the process is easy, but with these 7 planning tips up your sleeve, we’d definitely say the road from “yes!” to e-shoot can be a whole lot less bumpy. What’re you waiting for? Scroll down for our favorite tried and true methods for styling the engagement shoot of your wildest dreams!

Photo By Candace Jeffrey Photography

 

1. Choose A Photographer You Love: You can style everything about your engagement shoot just perfectly, but if you don’t hire the right photographer, then you’re in a for a whole world of trouble (e.g., photos can look awkward, you might feel comfortable during the shoot, you might not like the shooting style). Therefore, it’s essential to pick a photographer who you really adore on many levels, including price, shooting style, and personality, so you can feel comfortable in front of the camera and have piece of mind that you entrusted someone who shared your vision with this monumental task. A few great way to get started searching for a photographer who sends you head over heels is to ask for recommendations from friends and family members, browse blogs of local photographers, and most important, sit down face-to-face with your favorite photographers to go over everything before making a commitment to hire one who suits you best. Being comfortable with the person behind the camera is key to achieving beautiful, natural-looking photos!

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Albert Palmer Photography via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

2. Select A Location That’s Special: Many couples really worry about what location(s) to choose for their engagement shoot and often turn to their photographer for help. But, as most photographers will tell you, picking out a location that’s special to you as a couple, that really captures your imagination, or that makes you feel at home is essential. Nothing else matters — it doesn’t matter if your backdrop is touristy, out of the norm, or even totally out of left field as long as it is special to you as a couple in some way. When you begin racking your brain for backdrop ideas, sit down together and make a list of places that you love around town, places that are significant to your relationship, and places that you’ve always wanted to visit. Then, go out and explore the town, revisit your old favorites, check out new places you’ve never seen before, walk down random alleys, etc. This is a fabulous way to discover uncharted territory and scout out a few places that really make your hearts go pitter-patter.

3. Create A Must-Have Photo List: Let’s make this clear now: Your photographer (even the best of the best) cannot read your mind. Therefore, it’s really essential to create a must-have shot list of your photographer before the big day of the engagement shoot begins. This will ensure that your photographer snags all the photos you really have your heart set on and will also clue him/her about the style you are really looking for in your photos. Clearly, this is a win-win situation and can help guarantee that you love, love, LOVE your engagement photos now and forever.

4. Put Together A Mood Board: If you really have no idea where to start, then putting together a mood board on Pinterest is an excellent way browse ideas and pull together engagement shoot themes or tones that really tickle your fancy. After a week of exploring and pinning, do an overview of your board. You might be surprised how easy it is to discover what you are really drawn to, whether it be a fun theme, vintage styling, or colorful outfit choices! Once you finally do decide on the look you’re going for, put together a whole new pin board that focuses on pulling together creative inspiration that goes right along with your approach. Oh, and don’t forget to share this board with your photographer… not only will it help give him/her direction, but it’s a great opportunity for him/her to suggest ideas you many no have considered.

5. Browse Lots Of Photography Blogs: Early on in your planning, be sure to browse lots of photography blogs! This will help you uncover great ideas, styles you love, and looks you’d like to channel in your very own engagement shoot.

6. Incorporate Individualized Props (If You’re Into That): Although they aren’t right of everyone, props are a really, really amazing way to add a little spunk to your engagement photos, show off a bit of your personality as a couple, bring in a theme and/or tell a story. If you do end up bringing in some props of your shoot, just make sure that they really reflect something special about the two of your and that they are used in moderation. Otherwise, the use of props can feel a bit forced and cheesy. Your photographer is a great person to consult for recommendations for prop rental companies and ideas that will really enhance your photos, too!

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Shutterbug via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

7. Wear Outfits That Feel Right: In addition to location choices, outfit selections are definitely one of the most complicated parts of planning a perfect engagement shoot. Just like with the location, there are tons of options and directions you can take in terms of your clothing picks, so it becomes really difficult to narrow down your outfits to just a few selections. However, it can be done! Our best advice is to choose outfits you feel really comfortable in and that really make you feel your best — from there, themes and colors, etc. are just extra icing on the cake. But, a few tips to keep in mind: 1). Don’t overmatch with your fiancee. 2). Choose outfits that range in terms of formality (maybe start with casual looks and end with more formal attire). 3). If going with a theme, don’t be afraid to rock something out of the box! 4). Consider your environment (you’ll freeze in a sundress in the middle of winter and the backdrop/outfit selection will look really odd paired together).

8. Have Fun!: Finally, the biggest secret of having scoring engagement photos you love is to have fun! That means enjoying planning, embrace funky ideas, and just being yourself and really reveling in the love you share with your fiancee all the way from step one to the day of the shoot. When you’re having a great time — it’s pretty impossible to not love the photographs that result!

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Gabriel Li via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Need some extra help putting together an engagement shoot style that’s right for you? Contact us and we’ll help you put together an engagement session plan that’s just perfect for you!

~Blog contributed by Audra Jones

The Competitive Side Of Wedding Planning

The Competitive Side Of Wedding Planning

Have you ever been at any “mingling” function, a BBQ cookout, or say, a company party? You know what I mean, those moments when you may not know a soul, and you’re standing there with a drink in hand, eating a pepper-dipped-in-something in the other, and the question comes flying from a passer-by: “so what do you do?”…I always hated this question, because how am I supposed to answer this? I’m self-employed, I work for myself, and I do a lot of things. I care for my two young kids each and every day, I go to Target at least once or twice a week, I’m into Yoga, I read, I bake (I don’t like to cook, so this is as close as it gets), and love crafting. They’re not asking me who I am, they’re asking me what brings me income (right?). So then I guess that response would be “I’m a Mom who runs a business”. I might as well say I juggle while driving.

So it got me thinking…Why do we walk around asking “what do you do?”, anyways? Are they truly interested in you, or is it that sometimes we don’t know what else to say? Or perhaps, they’re trying to gauge our worth in society. Why we feel compelled to pigeonhole people based on one’s occupation is beyond me. Sometimes, this happens with weddings, too.

No one wants to feel like their wedding is a contest, but sometimes we see a variation of this when we work with setting our clients’ budget—it brings out that competitive game of “bridal wars”. All of a sudden you’re mentioning what your sister’s best friend’s maid of honor had at her wedding, or your boss’ daughter who wore couture and had their ceremony blessed by the pope himself.

Let me be honest straight from the horse’s mouth: whether our couples share that they have $15,000 or $150,000 to spend on their wedding, they still don’t feel like it’s enough. They’re often left thinking “if only I had a bit more, I could do ‘X’”. This just becomes a vicious cycle where every decision you just made to feel secure in your wedding planning, can lead to second guessing yourself because of what someone else may or may not have had. And the world of Pinterest, can also lead to these feelings of self-doubt.

So despite the competitiveness and unsolicited advice from others that wedding planning brings, keep in mind you’re not having a wedding just for the sake of making a statement, you’re making a start of your marriage. Ultimately, it’s up to the both of you.

Wedding Planng Advice

Oh, and the next time someone asks me “what do you do?”, I’ll be sure to answer “I live my life”.

Feeling lost in the vast sea of wedding planning, or has the wedding planning starting to feel like a competition? We can help you establish views from a third party perspective, thus avoiding the drama. We’d love to connect!

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