Sunday, May 23

Bridalista Review: Summer Wedding Trends

A few weeks ago I was notified by Brides Magazine that I'd been selected to become a member of an exclusive group of influential brides-to-be, called the Bridalistas. Throughout the year I'll be receiving samples of wedding products and services to review and share with blog readers, and my feedback will be used for determining magazine content. How perfect! Today the introductory package arrived in the mail and included a sneak-peek look at the July issue of Brides as well as some adorable Thank You cards from the Brides stationery line (available at Michael's craft stores):

(Photo Credit:

Not only am I so excited to be a part of this group so I can get an insider's look at breaking trends in the wedding industry, but I especially look forward to sharing the sneak previews with YOU! So to kick off the blog party, I'd love to share a few insider tips from Brides of what that you can look forward to this summer...

"July is all about backyard bashes, state-fair food, and a little thing called summer love."
-Brides Magazine

Summer Green is a hot color this year and is perfect for any outdoor celebration. Pair it with a pale, misty gray for a modern and formal look, or tie it in with black to create a vibe that is edgy and sleek. If your wedding is a winery theme, green goes gorgeously with orchid purple, and if you're going for a beachside bash, green and aqua together are totally tropical and cheery.
(Photo Credit:
Green goes gorgeously with orchid purple.

Good news... casual can still be classy! If your event is outside, dress up disposable utensils like cutlery made from beech wood by wrapping them together with a splice of twine and placing atop a resuable cotton napkin. I'm loving how beech wood utensils look for outdoor celebrations, and they would look fabulous at our backyard BBQ Rehearsal Dinner!
(Photo Credit:
 Casual can still be classy!

And what's the hottest floral for summer 2010 weddings? None other than the daisy-like Cosmos flower! Most know cosmos for their chocolate-hues, but it also can come in bright, summery hues that will perfect your bridal party look. What do you think?

(Photo by Google Images)
Cosmos are the summer's hottest new bridal flower.

That's a wrap for the first Bridalista preview of upcoming wedding trends! Send an email and let me know what you think of the ideas in this review, and let me know what you think the next hottest summer wedding trend will be! I'd love to feature your recommendations in my blog.

Friday, May 21

Invitation Creation and 'Noteworthy' Inspiration

We’re making progress! This week Joe and I finally ordered all of the stationery paper for our DIY wedding invitations, ceremony programs, menu cards, and escort cards. We’d found the perfect invitation paper earlier this Spring on clearance at Michael’s craft store and bought the few sheets left in stock, but then spent months afterward searching everywhere for the same line of discontinued paper since we didn’t have nearly enough. So after countless unsuccessful store visits and no luck of finding it online, I was elated to find that Joann’s craft store recently starting carrying the paper distributor’s product line! No, really… I was absolutely ecstatic. That particular day I’d already visited three stores looking for the metallic-fuchsia paper and had just given up all hope, when suddenly my mom held up a sheet of the coveted paper. This prompted me to swipe the entire stack of pages and skip through the aisles while cheering (loudly) in exhilaration. I’m pretty sure my little sister was mortified. And though I was prepared to pay full price for each and every sheet of the paper they had in the store, my luck got even better when they were ON SALE at four sheets for a dollar!! I didn’t care how many sheets where in the huge stack or how much I’d be spending… at that point, I wasn’t leaving without the entire stock of pink metallic paper, and for a bargain of just $16, I bought enough to create ALL of our stationery projects.

Joe and I were both astonished by my bargain discovery but mostly relieved to have a solid plan of action for the invitation design. We found it much easier to purchase the remaining necessary supplies, and because we’d already ordered envelope samples from last year, it was a piece of cake to order the rest of whatever we needed online. Now I’m anticipating the arrival of the brown and white paper ordered online so that we can get started on all the DIY stationery right away. There are only a few months left before we need to have everything ready, and I know better than anyone how quickly time goes by when planning a wedding! Luckily we already have an idea of what we want to print on the invites, and Joe’s been working on creating the graphics while I manage the wording and fonts. We definitely want our design to be original and reflective of our individual style. To get the creativity flowing, I recently scoured the internet in search of invitation designs that I thought were unique, elegant, and inspiring. Check out my top picks:
MalloryKurtis3 Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Pink Orchid Weddings)
PhalaenopsisOrchidInv2 Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Pink Orchid Weddings)
printablepress Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Printable Press)
Peacock2 Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Pink Orchid Weddings)
jasminestarphotography Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Jasmine Star Photography)
ChandelierInvitation1 Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Pink Orchid Wedding)
TyingtheknotInvitation3 Invitation Creation and ‘Noteworthy’ Inspiration
(Photo Credit: Pink Orchid Weddings)
Are you ordering your wedding stationery or going the DIY route? How did you seek inspiration for your wedding invitations?

Wednesday, May 12

My Updated Wedding Checklist

Just today I was just perusing through some of my older blogs and realized the last time I reviewed my To-Do list was in December of last year! It’s comforting to look back and see how much we’ve accomplished in the past five months even though the time has entirely flown by. Still, there are more and more things to be done, and we have only four and a half months left until the big day is here! Here’s where we are currently at in the planning process with a 143-day countdown…

getmarriedchecklistheader My Updated Wedding Checklist
(Photo by

Writing the Ceremony
After much research with books and online resources, I finally got the entire ceremony nailed down. It’s a nonreligious ceremony complete with two readers, a rose ceremony, and a sand ceremony.. I’d like for ceremony to last no more than 15-20 minutes, but when I showed our Officiant (and also Joe’s best friend) what I’d come up with, he said it was only enough material for ten minutes. Uh oh! So while I can’t technically cross it off the list just yet, I’m pretty comfortable with what I’ve written and know the Officiant will be able to take it from here.

Choosing the Bridesmaid Dresses + Picking out the Tuxes
It was such a relief when my girls paid for their bridesmaid dresses in full last month when we had them fitted! The guys all put down their deposits for their tuxes as well, and most everyone’s measurements were taken. What  a huge stress reliever!

Ordering the Cake
This was definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the planning process. Joe and I sampled flavors at two different cake shops and the one that had the best artistry and creativity ultimately stole our hearts. I know our cake is going to be everything we want it to be, and I’m so very excited with what we came up with!

bridalbuds My Updated Wedding Checklist
(Photo by

Create the Music Play lists (for both Ceremony and Reception)
Ah! We still need to make a list of songs we’d like to be played at the reception by our DJ, and which songs we want our String Trio to play during the ceremony. And we won’t forget the all-important “Do Not Play” list either… no Macarena or Electric Slide at this wedding, please!

Decide on Escort “Cards”
We’re still working through this one. Our ideas seem to all be either too outlandish or just plain cliché and boring. Suggestions, anyone?

Ordering MY Dress
I finally did it! This was THE most difficult thing for me within the entire planning process. Bridal gowns are my absolute favorite aspect of the wedding industry and I have such an appreciation for various designs and fabrics and shapes. I tried on literally dozens of different gowns in several different stores in two different states, spanning over a 14 month period… and I finally took the plunge and ordered one in March! I can’t wait to see it in person when it arrives in July.

The Registries
When people started asking me early in the Spring where Joe and I were registered for gifts, I had no idea it was because my bridesmaids were planning an early surprise bridal shower! Joe and I had created our registries before we’d originally planned, but that turned out to be a good idea since we’ve already received lots of awesome kitchen gadgets that we were wanting. Making the registries was actually a lot of fun, but surprisingly more difficult than I could have predicted. As I mentioned in my registry blog, it was bit overwhelming… but so worth it!

1weddingsource My Updated Wedding Checklist
(Photo by

What else have we accomplished since the beginning of 2010?
·         Menu tasting at our venue
·         Bridal hair and makeup trials
·         Drafted a wedding day timeline
·         Purchased my (post party) reception dress
·         Placed a deposit on the honeymoon

So, what DO we have left to do then?
·         Create ALL of our wedding stationery! (wedding invitations, rehearsal dinner invitations, menu cards, ceremony programs)
·         Make a list of important photographs to be taken by our photographer
·         Get the reception flutes engraved
·         Complete the DIY project for reception chair decor
·         Finalize our DIY centerpiece designs
·         Finish taking photographs for the reception tables
·         Plan details for the Rehearsal Dinner
·         Order the Guest Favors
·         Purchase bridal accessories (shoes, jewelry, hairpiece or veil)
·         Decide on Parent Appreciation gifts
·         Purchase the wedding bands (we have an idea, just haven’t made any buying commitments)

A great way to make sure you stay on track with your wedding plans is to follow an outline of recommended to-do’s, month by month. I’ve been following the timeline on the Get Married website since it provides helpful video tips and an interactive checklist that helps keep the planning process organized and stress-free:

getmarriedtimelinecapture My Updated Wedding Checklist
(Photo by

So where are you at in your planning process? Are you slightly behind, right on track, or ahead of the game?

Monday, May 10

Be a Budget-Savvy Bride!

At the top of the to-do list for any new bride-to-be is to set a budget for the wedding. But if the bride and groom don’t already have a large chunk of change sitting in the bank, setting a budget is much easier said than done. The couple will likely end up paying for wedding expenses as funds becomes available, which means they'll be spending while they are also saving. So how can a bride set a budget up-front when she doesn’t even know exactly how much money she has to spend? For Joe and I, the budget was ever-changing until we actually finalized our vendors and signed the contracts. But long before making any commitments to pay vendors, we'd set up a “mock budget”. We sat down together and listed our expected future paychecks to project how much we’d be able to realistically save, month by month. This may come as a surprise, but our budget wasn’t even officially decided until after we’d made big decisions like booking the venue, ordering the flowers, paying for the gown, and purchasing the centerpiece supplies. Now that we know the cost of everything we’ve committed to, we finally have a definitive budget. But don’t worry if you don’t have a set number to work with right off the bat. As long as you can create a timeline of how much you’ll have saved for wedding expenses, and you stick to your savings fund, I promise everything will work out.

russaustraliacomau Be a Budget Savvy Bride!

First and foremost, I would recommend creating a checking account that is solely used for wedding-related purchases. Right after Joe and I projected how much we’d be saving from our paychecks, we opened a joint checking account. Every two weeks, we each each contribute the amount we’d estimated saving from our paychecks, and anything over that amount we can throw in is just an added bonus. We also keep an excel spreadsheet as a sort of checkbook registry. This way we can record where (and what) we are spending the wedding funds on, and it also allows us to make sure we are on track with our savings plan. This is really important since vendor due dates are generally due at different times in advance to the wedding day, and not necessarily due ON your wedding day. To say you would have $5,000 saved up ON your wedding day isn’t much help if $3,000 of that is due two months before the wedding. Be sure to take into account the dates that your vendors require payment, as this will affect your savings timeline.

Now if you’re like I was in the beginning of my planning process and don’t know how much you’ll be spending total on the wedding, you’ll want to be extremely particular about spending any money in the early stages of planning. Only put down the minimum deposits required to reserve your vendors, and don’t pay for services in their entirety all up front. Let’s say you found your gown and instead of placing the required 50% deposit down, you paid it in full, thus clearing out your current savings. What will happen when, two weeks later, you want to put a deposit on your cake but already spent all the money on that gown you paid in full? Now you’ll need to wait until your savings accumulate again before you can start again reserving vendors, and you’ll have to hope and pray they don’t book up before you have more funds available. Key point: Unless you have a huge chunk of savings already when you start booking vendors, I would suggest only making the payments necessary to hold your day. (Just be sure you don’t miss any final payment due dates after that!)

myheartofvirginia Be a Budget Savvy Bride!

What are some ways to be careful about what you spend your money on, if you’re spending WHILE your saving? For starters, don’t make any unplanned purchases or rash decisions. We’ve all heard of the bride who bought her dress right after getting engaged, only to decide six months later she wanted a new gown that just hit the market. Assuming she buys the new dress, think of all the money she’d have saved by not buying the first gown! Or let’s consider the bride who books her photographer after just one week of searching and puts down a 50% deposit, only to find out later that her best friend’s sister would have done the same quality of photography for half the cost. A lot of brides will find that the more they get into the planning process, the more they will see what their options are and their tastes and ideas will constantly evolve. You’d hate to purchase an all-white satin gown and then decide later you really think an ivory lace is more your style. Search online for great deals on what you’re looking for and don’t settle for paying full price on anything. Joe and I paid half the regular price of our flutes by purchasing them on Ebay, and I found a small online company that sold our sand ceremony set for a fraction of what the brand-name website sold it for! The deals are out there, you just have to do a little searching. Unplanned and impulse purchases can not only cause major headaches but will also end up costing you big bucks that could have been better spent somewhere else. Think very hard before you spend that cash, and be sure to consult your fiance before making any major purchases. This is a great way to practice sharing important financial decisions with your future husband! 

You don’t have to know your final budget amount before deciding it’s a good time to start saving money. As soon as you’re ready to start looking for vendors, the first thing you should do is network and compare services! Once the word starts to get out that you’re engaged, you might be approached by several people who know someone that can save you big bucks with their services. Perhaps your boss knows an extremely affordable DJ, or your fiance’s coworker has great connections with the owner of a catering company, or your cousin’s best friend is an amazing cake artist. If you meet these people in person and are comfortable with their work examples and references, don’t be afraid to present them with a contract! More expensive doesn’t always mean better. You could very likely network your way to a great vendor that will do just as an amazing job as the vendor you saw charging three times that amount at a bridal show. Just make sure to compare their services and quality to that of other vendors, and ALWAYS GET IT IN WRITING! Keep all your contracts save-guarded and organized, as they may come in handy should anything unexpected happen down the road.

cjsoffthesquare Be a Budget Savvy Bride!
One of my biggest secret budget tips is entirely underrated and overly ignored. Are you ready for this? BARTER! Everyone has a talent or skill that they can use in one way or another to trade services and save money. Got some mad sewing skills? Offer to lend a decor company your sewing talents in helping them create unique tablecloth centerpieces if they’ll promise to provide your centerpieces at half off. Maybe you’re a graphic designer who is always looking for new clients. Why not offer creating all of the marketing materials for your photographer if they’ll photograph your day at no charge? The possibilities are endless, but the money you could save is tremendous. As long as you present vendors with a fair trade, the worst they could say is ”no, thanks”, which really is no big deal. You’ll never know how much money you could have saved if you don’t even bother asking.  You’d be truly surprised how many vendors are willing to work with you on this… I certainly was!

When it’s all said and done, you could end up spending $20K on a wedding that appears like a $10K wedding, or your could spend $10K on a wedding that appears like a $20K wedding. The choice really is up to you. It’s all about being determined to save money and motivated enough to make it happen. No matter how big or small a budget ends up being, every single bride can be a budget-savvy pro. Just stay organized, plan ahead, and dig deep for those bargains!

(All Photos by Google Images)