Crafting the perfect Wedding Hashtag

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Photo: Weddingchicks.com

Instagram has come to play a very important part of weddings. Nowadays, no wedding seems complete without a clever wedding hashtag. Hashtags are beneficial because all of the photos that are Instagrammed at the reception or ceremony will be tagged to your own wedding hashtag. Here are a few tips for forming the perfect wedding Hashtag!

  1. Be unique! You need a hashtag that no other couple has used. The first step is looking at your names and forming a unique hashtag. This is important so that the hashtag will only feature pictures from your special day!
  2. Get Punny. Along with being unique, use puns! If your last name has the potential to be a pun, I say use it!
  3. Add the year. Adding the year will also help keep your wedding hashtag one of a kind.
  4. Check for availability. Before you confirm your wedding hashtag make sure there aren’t photos already tagged to this hashtag.
  5. Spread the word. Make sure that your guests know to tag their photos to your wedding hashtag. Having a sign at the reception is a perfect way to let those know exactly where to tag their pics!

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              Photo: W+E Photographie

Weddingwire.com has created a wedding hashtag generator that can be super helpful! Click here for the link.

Tradition Transformed: The Guest Book

What’s the point of having a guest book anyway? In ten years, what is a book full of names going to mean? Hopefully the people attending are significant enough to remember down the road, right? It seems like these traditional expectations trump logic – so the question arises: do we do away with the guest book and rely on our memory to recall the special people on our special day? 

Maybe you’re trying to escape the traditional wedding but you want to keep the object that a guest book symbolizes. Looks like it’s time for a makeover! Here are a few ideas to transform your traditional “sign-in” style book to something a little more usable and memorable. 

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Buy this and others on Etsy.com by: PTWatersDesign

  1. Artwork: Recently, couples have been using their guest book as a way to add a bit of artwork to their future home. Different wedding sites offer canvases of unfinished art to complete with guest’s fingerprints. If you’re crafty or artistic, this is a simple project for a free afternoon – all you need is some paint and a blank canvas!This is an awesome solution to the traditional guest book if you’re looking to involve your guests but aren’t too particular on having a list of names.
  2. Encouragement book: If you’re going to collect information from the guests that joined you on your special day, you might as well make something of it! Chances are, you’re going to be spending the day with numerous happy couples. They may have been married for years, decades, or even just a few months. Figure out what their secrets are! Rather than having a book that they write their name in, provide small cards and ask them to write down an encouragement for your future or advice for keeping a healthy marriage. Collect all the slips in a basket and make a small book that can be looked through later!
  3. Photo Album: You might remember what guests were at your wedding, but there’s nothing like looking back at photos years later and remembering what those people looked in that time. Rather than having people sign a book, leave a Polaroid camera at the entrance of your venue to have couples or individuals photographed. They can sign their names on the bottom of the polaroid to be kept for later! This is fun for guests and leaves you with something tangible to keep and look through years later!
  4. Engagement Book: You’ve paid a lot of money for your photos and you’re going to want to use as many of them as possible. Thankfully, you have the opportunity kill two birds with one stone! You’re most-likely going to put your engagement photos into a book of some sort. Creating an engagement photo book online is a great way to develop printed pictures but it doesn’t have to stop there! Throw in blank pages or large boarders to create space for guests to write a small note and sign their name.

Whatever path you choose, having a guest book can be a great way to remember the people you celebrated your special day with – so take advantage of it! There are hundreds of different possibilities for DIY projects that can be found on plenty of crafting sites! So before you trash the tradition, try and transform it!

I Spy: A Happy Bride

I Spy

Buy this and others on Etsy.com by: Laura Drayton Creative

The first look: it’s a big stressor for some couples. Should it happen before the ceremony? Superstition says no but timeliness says absolutely. For many couples, the first look happens before the ceremony in order to keep time. You don’t want your guests to wait for hours between the ceremony and the reception for the wedding party to get pictures taken, so it only seems logical to make that all happen before guests even arrive, right? How long is too long for the guests to wait anyway? Sometimes waiting is inevitable. If you’re the kind of bride that dreamed of the first look happening at the head of the aisle, don’t give up so quickly on your dream! Here’s a little idea for a great time-passing activity to keep your guests occupied long enough for your pictures to happen between the ceremony and the reception. 

Create a list of items, people, and situations. These can be included in your ceremony programs for the down time following, or they can be handed out at the reception. Buy disposable cameras in bulk to hand out along with the cards or set in baskets around the cocktail area. Congratulations! You’ve created a photo scavenger hunt for your guests! The best part about this is that guests are able to take the cameras with them to have the photos printed for their personal enjoyment, or you can collect the cameras at the end of the night to have photos printed and uploaded along with your professional photos. It’s like having a wedding full of photographers! The best part is that they’ll be candid shots of things that guests enjoyed most about your wedding day. 

Of course, not everyone will want to participate in your scavenger hunt fun, but there’s always the cocktail hour! For summer weddings, it might be beneficial to set up some oversized lawn games as well, just to be safe. Really, what matters is that you’re getting the wedding you’ve dreamed of while entertaining your guests as best as possible.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too”… Maybe you shouldn’t have cake?

cupcakesChoosing a wedding dessert… piece of cake, right? Traditionally speaking, it should be. Wedding cakes have always been a staple in the post-wedding celebrations; but as we all know, times are changing and weddings are being less driven by tradition and more by preference. For 2014, the average cost for a wedding cake in the United States is estimated to be around $466 (Huffington Post). (Keep in mind, that’s an average). For many couples, saving money has become much more important than keeping up with tradition. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”… So maybe it’s more beneficial to consider a different dessert? Here is a list of wedding cake alternatives that will give your wedding a little something special for your guests and a little something extra in your budget!

  1. Candy bar 
    Shower your guests with an array of classic candy bars to choose from. This can even double as favors! Leave little baggies for guests to pack up some of their favorite chocolates and sweets! Candy can be expensive, but considerably cheaper when it’s bought in bulk!
  2. Pie buffet
    Pick a few pies or have an array to cover the table! Let guests pick a piece of pie rather than cake. The array of pie choices can make for an easy dessert to please a large group of people. This is a particularly good idea for fall and summer weddings!
  3. Assorted Cookies
    If you’re lucky, you’ll know a few people who will be willing to whip up a few batches of cookies for your dessert table. Find an array of cookie recipes or contact a baker about creating platters. Just as the candy bar, these cookies can also double as favors. Leave out little boxes or baggies for them to be taken with after the evening ends!
  4. Ice cream bar
    Who doesn’t love a good sunday? Offer simple ice cream choices like vanilla or chocolate with a large variety of toppings and sauces so guests can make a dessert particular to their preferences!
  5. Fair theme: Cotton candy and funnel cakes for a fun dessert
    This is a great idea for a whimsical wedding. An entire reception theme could be based off this simple idea to create a really unique evening for your guests!
  6. Cupcakes
    This is one of the most common alternatives to a wedding cake. One of the perks to having cupcakes rather than cake is the potential for variety. His and hers cupcakes allow both the bride and groom to have a piece of their individual preferences, while also allowing more flavors for guests to choose from!
  7. Cheesecake
    Depending on the size of the wedding, this might not be the cheapest option. However, if unique desserts is more of your focus than financial savings, this is a great option! Plain cheesecake with a toppings bar is a great way for guests to add their own flavoring to a classic dessert.
  8. Crepe cake
    Unique? Exactly. Crepes are great because they’re so versatile. They can serve as any meal or as a dessert. Crepes are great for healthy desserts. Offer the crepes and a fruit bar as a “create-your-own” dessert area! (Make sure you include a lot of Nutella and chocolate syrup for those guests with a real sweet tooth!) 
  9. Rice Krispie cake
    Plain and simple. It’s a great alternative to the wedding cake! The rice krispies can be in the shape of a towered cake and decorated like one as well! If you want to offer a little something extra, offer a few toppings like a chocolate fountain for dipping!
  10. Cannoli 
    Who doesn’t like a good cannoli? This is a great solution for smaller receptions.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve always been a chronic wedding planner. I’ve mentally created my ideal day and it would’ve been just what I wanted, had I not suggested most of my “brilliant” ideas to my sister to be used ahead of time. As disappointed as I was that my day would no longer be unique to me, I learned to accept it. The more I’ve been looking around at weddings, the more my ideas of the perfect day have shifted.

In my mind, a summer wedding seemed perfect. My bridesmaids would have cute, knee-length summer dresses and I would wear a strapless, sweetheart cut dress with the keyhole backing. It would be an outdoor wedding in a field and the weather would be flawless. None of that can ever be guaranteed, we all know. But my heart was set on a nautical themed, boat and anchor accented, unique, perfect wedding day.

I opened my planner to see what was in store for the year, and I found that my June weekends were completely booked with wedding after wedding; July was spotted with them too. While I love the excitement and celebration of a beautiful summer wedding, I find myself taking notes of what’s been done and what’s similar to the others. With Pinterest and hundreds of wedding sites, it’s hard to do anything really unique these days. That’s not to say it can’t be done but it takes a very creative mind to contrive a summer wedding day that is different from the rest. Although my heart was once set on a perfect June weekend, the more I think and research, the more my eyes have been opened to the possibility of more. Image

Photo by: Ciara Richardson

Maybe I’ve been inspired by the beauty of the immense amount of snow this winter, or the deep, earthy colors I’ve seen in the trees; regardless of the cause, winter weddings have been on my mind. I thought a lot about the biggest stresses of summer weddings and found that winter can essentially (for lack of a better concept…) “freeze” those frustrations. Here’s how:

  1. The Venues: Finding a location that you like during the summer months feels impossible at times. All the places you like are already booked, and have been for at least 8 months in advance. When you finally find something you like, the prices seem outrageous. From a business perspective, it makes sense. Summer holds some of the busiest months for venues. Businesses capitalize on these times, holding venues at their highest prices. Many of those same places are much more willing to work with Brides in winter months because there are fewer weddings and many more venues to choose from.
  2. Attire: With summer weddings, you never know what they day will bring. There might be a cool breeze, or stagnant heat; there might be scattered showers or even thunderstorms. It’s difficult to plan dress as a guest and even for bridesmaids and groomsmen. If you put groomsmen in suits in the middle of July, they might sweat through their clothes. Maybe the pictures will reveal sweat beads across their foreheads. You Groom might even pass out from heat exhaustion! In winter, you can plan with the confidence in knowing it will be cold. Your guests will know they’ll need a jacket for travel, but will soon be welcomed by the warmth of an indoor ceremony.
  3. The Guests: Just as my June calendar is booked with wedding after wedding, other guests’ may be as well. There is no guarantee that your day will work for the guests you’ve invited because they’re not only juggling multiple weddings, but vacations, home projects, or summer events. Having a winter wedding creates a greater possibility for higher attendance… Not to mention the fact that a wedding will seem much more exciting apart from the mass wedding summer.
  4. Themes and Decorations: Winter opens the door for different themes and decoration options. You can keep a wintery feel or (depending on the time of a winter wedding) use holiday decorations. There are so many different kinds of crafts and projects to make for winter decorations that would be more unique to an indoor, cozy wedding as opposed to a hot summer day. 
  5. Food: It’s cold outside. What better way to warm up than eating warm, holiday foods? Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans… A feast! It’s much easier to please a bunch with a holiday inspired wedding meal than it is to come up with multiple cool summer meals that pleases the masses. Let’s not forget about the fact that you can throw in fun things like a hot chocolate or coffee bar!
  6. Photography: From a photographer’s point of view, winter is an ideal time for photographs. Grey skies sound blah and bland but in reality, it’s providing enough light to create perfect contrast while eliminating the burn of the sun on eyes. There’s less squinting in grey skies and if you’re blessed with a fresh coat of snow on the ground, your pictures will look absolutely magical!
  7.  Less people take the time to make big vacations in off-months. Having a winter honeymoon not only gives you a warm break from the chilly weather and snow frustrations, but it creates more availability for destinations and less crowds to work around. (And let’s be real here, what girl doesn’t like to feel a little tan in the bleak of winter?)

So if you’re planning a wedding and you think summer is the only option, as I had, take some time to consider your options. You might even feel inspired by a cozy cabin wedding feel! If you need some ideas for winter weddings, follow Jenz Carli Consulting for some cute winter weddings!

What to do with my Scissors & Glue

For every wedding, there is a style. You may be a rustic dreamer or a bedazzling glamour girl; regardless, your wedding has your special touch or expression. Unfortunately, sometimes those little details can break a budget. Thankfully, DIY projects have taken over the wedding world and have chalked the blogs full of advice and ideas for cutting budgets with a little tape and glue. Thank goodness those craftsmen out there have conjured up ways to make everything from centerpieces to hanging decorations. This DIY project is great for any style- rustic to classy. Hang them in a barn, from the trees, as a backdrop for the ceremony or in the church. They’re fantastic and can even be used after the wedding for household decorations. It’s going to take some work, time, and patience, but they’re worth it in the end!

Photo Credit: Brianna Wilbur

Photo by: Brianna Wilbur

Here are the steps to completing the puffy balls:

  1. Decide the size you’d like the balls to be. Keep in mind that the bigger the ball, the more time it will take to complete them.
  2. Go to the nearest craft store (Michaels, A.C.Moore, Hobby Lobby, etc.) and find styrofoam balls. These come in packs and are also sold individually, so plan accordingly. Think back to step one when you’re picking out the balls – find a size you like and add roughly 4 inches to it and that will be the size of the final project.
  3. Head to any grocery store around for coffee filters. (It would be to your benefit to look for coupons because you’ll be buying a lot of these!) You’ll want to get a ton of white, medium coffee filters. A 3”-4” (in diameter) ball will use around 300-400 coffee filters. It sounds like a lot but in the end, it pays off – I promise!
  4. Now’s the fun part. You’ll need a hot glue gun in a few minutes, so get that plugged in and ready. Open your coffee filters and begin smashing them. WAIT! Don’t just crumple them up! You’re going to want to take each filter individually. Rest your pointer finger in (roughly) the center. Squeeze the filter around your finger. They don’t have to be perfect, but remember that the more you pay attention to detail, the better they’ll turn out. Do this step to a bunch of the filters (it just saves on time so you don’t have to set the glue gun down every 2 seconds.
  5. Once you’ve accumulated a pile of filters, get the styrofoam ball. You’re going to begin by putting a dot of glue on the tip of the filter. Hold it against the ball until it stays. For the first few, it’ll take a couple seconds for them to really sick. After awhile they’ll start to hold each other up.
  6. Fill the rest of the ball this way. For the best results, keep the filters tight together. If you need to, fill in gaps and spaces once it’s finished. Use a pencil to push the filter against the ball. Leave a gap (one or two open spaces) at the top of the ball.
  7. In the open space, twist a screw into the ball. Screw it in enough that it is secure but out enough that you’ll be able to fasten a string to it.
  8. Attach the string and you’ve finished your first ball! It takes some time but in the end, it will be worth it!

Flowers: A Bouquet of Bucks

juliana laury bouquetChoosing the small details of a wedding can be stressful… Especially if you’re not one that enjoys planning things months in advance. Maybe you don’t have a creative eye for things like colors, patterns, decorations and flowers. The idea… the pressure of having to put together a magical day for you and your guests is terrifying… and not to mention, expensive. You’re not made of money and although you’re looking forward to your special day and all that comes after, spending hours on end putting together all the little pieces sounds like a puzzle that you dread getting out of the box.

This isn’t my thought process, but I understand it. I enjoy the planning and the small details. Thinking of ways to tie together a color scheme with centerpieces is thrilling to me. I’m a crafter and artist at heart. I haven’t figured it all out just yet, but I’m a work in progress. My sister’s wedding was a great first exposure to all the crafts that could potentially become part of a wedding and it seems that my mind has been turning ever since.

Although my sister is also a planner and fairly crafty, she was outrageously overwhelmed by some of the decisions that had to be made for her day. Together, we learned some things that did and didn’t work out, along with some tips and tricks to make a good day even better.

Making a wedding fit a budget seems impossible at times – especially when you begin looking at the small details like flowers. My mind just can’t seem to wrap itself around the concept of spending hundreds of dollars on something that is going to die in less than a week. (Although I’ve never been a fan of flowers anyway – I think they stink.) You want to cut something out to make the bills smaller but you know that your mother would throw a fit if you decided to abandon the traditional flowers – and what bride really wants to do that? The thing is… you don’t have to. (Insert moment of silence for gasps and reactions.)

If you’re not crafty, maybe you can gather your bridesmaids together and the group of you can work some magic. Because the secret is that making your own bouquets isn’t so out of the question as you might think. You can do it and save yourself hundreds of dollars. When you go through a floral company, you’re paying for the flowers and the labor to put them together. There are plenty of resources out there that will give you a step by step process to put together your own flowers. I won’t go through all of them, but APW (http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/04/how-to-make-a-wedding-bouquet/) puts it all out simply and it’s a great process to follow!

There are a few things to keep in mind, however. Even if you have a color scheme, don’t be afraid to stray slightly off what’s been chosen. For example, if you want to have navy as your base color, making bouquets with purples and light blues is a great touch. You want your bouquets to be full, colorful and complex. If you’re really set on just one color, be creative and compose a bouquet made up of an array of flowers.

The biggest tip I could suggest (this, coming from a photographer’s point of view): try to stay away from making your (the bride’s) bouquet completely white. White roses clustered together are gorgeous… Just make sure you put a little color with it- when you get your pictures taken, the bouquet will fade into your dress and all the work that’s been done will look like nothing when you look back on your day. Adding a little color throughout the bouquet will also break it up so it doesn’t look like you’re holding a big white ball.

Even if you decide to choose a floral arranging company, keep these little tips in mind. I think in the end, you’ll be quite pleased with your photographs, especially! And remember, you don’t have to ditch the flowers. (Yes mothers, you can breathe.)