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Category Archives: How-To

Prepping for Your Photographer

Have you ever been to a wedding where the family photo session seems more like the hokey pokey?  You know, when people are being pulled in and out of shots, and no one really knows what’s going on?  Time passes so quickly on this day, that it seems like everything has to be done quickly so that nothing or no one gets forgotten.  Let’s take a brief moment and solve this one:

The most valuable timesaver you can use to complete this task with ease is to come up with a detailed list of  who you’d like in each shot.  Number them in order, so your photographer can just go down the list.

Now what should the order be?  Glad you asked.

Start with a big group shot that includes everyone.  Then peel everyone away except the grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and everyone else who has trouble walking or standing.  It’s a good idea to use them in all of the first shots, so that they finish first, and then either sit down or head over to the reception/cocktail party where they can relax.  It’s considerate to them, and besides, people who are more mobile won’t mind as much if they are asked to sit down and stand up at least a few times.

Next, take shots of extended family with immediate family, and any extra shots that you’d like before dismissing extended family. Finally, finish with immediate family, and then feel free to dismiss them to go over to the reception.

After that, feel free to capture shots of the bride and groom with the wedding party.

Follow these guidelines, and you’re sure to save time and be able to join your guests at your reception sooner rather than later.


Creating an Idea Book

In order to begin the planning process, the best thing you can do for yourself is to create an organized book of all of your ideas. How much more simple would it be to create something that you can take to all of your meetings, and every person you talk to can get a defined visual of what it is you are looking for? Think of the stress you won’t have to deal with!

Let’s get started:

Once you’ve booked your venue, ask for a copy of the floor plan.  I would also recommend taking some photos of the facility including the bathrooms and the kitchen as well as the reception area. This way you can have a feel for what the room looks like and better visualize your ideas in the space.

For this, you can use paint swatches, fabric swatches, or magazine cut outs of the colors you would like to incorporate into your design. I recommend two colors and a neutral (white or cream). If your dress is cream, pick cream as your neutral, otherwise, you run the risk of your dress looking dirty against stark white accents.

This is something I found extremely helpful even with my own wedding. Scour magazines for all of your favorite looks. Even if it’s just an element of a dress, include it, and make notes next to it explaining what you like about it. Separate the looks into categories in the book by dress style, design elements, and accessories.This way when you go to your appointment, you can show your ideas to your dress specialist, and she (or he) will be able to help you find the perfect dress more quickly, and the process will run more smoothly. What more could you ask for? NOTE: I recommend putting this in the back of the book if you plan to keep your dress a secret from Mr. Right. Then you can flip through your ideas with him without running the risk of spoiling the surprise!

By finding different arrangements, bouquets, etc in magazines, you can attend your meeting with your florist with a head start. Also, be aware of what flowers are in season during the time in which your wedding will take place. If you’re asking for a specific flower out of season, the florist will have to have it shipped from a different part of the world, which means higher cost to you.

Table settings:
By including different styles of table settings, you allow your party rental company to get a feel for what you’re looking for, and they can show you all of the different options they have for you that match your look.

While custom cakes can be more expensive, including pictures of styles that you like will help your pastry chef envision your perfect cake.

Include everything that you find inspirational, even if it isn’t within your color theme. Chances are, you can find the look in your colors. It will also help you determine what to use for party favors, treats, and other ideas that you would want to incorporate into your wedding or reception. You can also add photographs you’ve taken to this section. If you are working with a planner, or planning yourself, this category will help you define your theme and add your and your fiance’s personality to your big day.

Even if you aren’t Rembrandt, you can put a couple of ideas on paper and it will help illustrate what you see in your mind’s eye.

By having a collection of your ideas in one place, you can be sure that your vision will be clear to all who are helping you plan your big event. It will also assist you in creating a cohesive look that carries from the ceremony to the reception seamlessly. Remember to have an editing eye, and most of all, have fun!

The Benefit of Using Wholesale Vendors

There’s no doubt about it: weddings are expensive. The dress, flowers, party rental, entertainment, food, decorations, favors, and cake all add up to big bucks. Did you know that some of these things can cost way more than necessary? Wouldn’t it be marvelous if you could shave off dollars here and there and be able to do more with your budget? Of course! Here’s an easy way to cut back without losing quality or impact.

When I first started pricing florists, I discovered that floral arrangements are expensive. Really expensive. So I decided to google wholesale florists, and discovered You wouldn’t believe what I found out. Not only was the cost substantially less, but he is the supplier to over half the places I had visited to begin with! I would have paid his prices, PLUS markup, PLUS labor and delivery. The cost was going to eat up 1/8th of my budget, just on floral arrangements. They’d better live forever, for that price! When I met with Masoud (the owner of Fuji Wholesale) I found out that not only are his prices extremely reasonable, but his customer service was phenomenal. He only books one wedding per weekend, which means that he and his staff take time in preparing for your wedding and your wedding alone. They are a plethora of knowledge when it comes to their trade, and they will be honest with you when they tell you that your favorite flower is going to cost more when it isn’t in season. What more could you ask for from a florist?

Depending on the look and feel of your wedding, decorations can really add up. Candles, vases, ribbon, anything your heart desires can be found at places like While you need a membership card at Shinoda, much like you do at Costco or Sam’s Club, it will be worth the extra cash it get it. Cylinder vases, ribbon, apothecary jars for the candy bar, and floating candles were 40% less than they are at Michaels or other craft stores. That’s a lot of money! For other decorations, I turned to to get the best price. For 60 paper lanterns, 250 paper fans, and 22 parasols, I spent a little over $370, including tax and shipping. That took care of party favors, the center aisle in the chapel, and ambiance in the reception hall. The bonus? They sell these items in every color you can think of, so you can completely customize for your wedding. Their customer service is amazing, and they ship immediately.

So let’s say you want to do a candy bar, where do you go for candy? Look up different wholesale candy websites. You can buy candy specifically by color, and it’s a lot cheaper than personalized M&Ms. Be sure to compare prices from one website to the next. I found that the chocolate truffles wrapped in royal blue and fuchsia foil I wanted were less expensive at one, and the pink rock candy was less at another. It was worth the extra 15 minutes to buy at the two different places, than to spend more at just one.

Alcohol is expensive. However, if you buy in bulk at places like BevMo when a certain item is on sale, you can save $5-10 per bottle. Cha-ching!! They are more than willing to order for you and then call you to come pick up your order. Having an alcohol-free wedding? That’s okay, BevMo carries sparkling lemonade and other drinks that put Martinelli’s to shame. Try Lorina; it comes in everything from Original Lemonade to Blood Orange, Pomegranate Blueberry, to French Berry, and they all get a thumbs up.

Remember, the more you save, the further you can stretch your budget, and the more you stretch, the more you can do for your big day.

Weddings 101: Top 10 planning tips

Every DIY bride wants to plan the most perfect wedding.  More importantly, they want to do it as stress-free as possible.  While this can be an overwhelming task, I’ve put together some of my best tips for saving money, saving time, and saving stress.

10.  Make spreadsheets for everything: budget, vendor contact list, payment schedule, guest list, etc.

9.  Keep a file for all receipts, contacts, coupons, orders, menus, etc.

8.  Go wholesale: They’re usually a lot cheaper.

7.  Come up with fun alternatives for fresh flowers, which can be really expensive.

6.  Shop discount stores: Home Goods, Marshalls, and Steinmart have great items for reception décor for much less than craft stores.

5.  Recruit your talented friends:  graphic designers can help with programs and custom invitations; crafters can help with floral arrangements and party favors; techies can help you create and run music on itunes instead of using a DJ; and public speakers can make great emcees.

4. Come up with something for your guests to do while they wait for you to arrive at the reception: words of wisdom cards, trivia games, picture collages, candy station, small hors d’oeuvres, etc.

3. Make an idea book with magazine cut outs, sketches, and paint swatches.  Organize them by category.

2.  Create a list for your photographer so your picture session goes smoothly and quickly, and you can join your guests sooner at the reception.

1.  Create a master to-do list and timeline (one for planning, and one for day-of), and share with all of your helpers, and especially your day-of coordinators.  Additionally, take photos of a table setting you wish to use, so your helpers can execute this quickly.