Unique Takes on the Traditional Guest Book

Your wedding is a special day with some of the most special people in your life. To remember all the love and memories of the day shared with these friends and family, many brides use a guest book. It’s the place where your guests can make their mark and become a part of the wedding in their own little way. Traditionally, this is done through an actual book that guests can write in. However, there are several other options for those that are looking for a unique twist on the tradition.

1. GAME/DATE NIGHT

One option that’s a lot of fun is the game night/date night guest book. This lets your guests leave ideas for future date nights, games you can play or simply some advice. You can get creative with how you let them share their ideas too! You could have them write on the playing cards or game pieces you would use or on slips of paper that you can draw from when you need some inspiration for something new to do on your dates.

2. DECOR

This option gives you something that you can hang up or display. You can pick from any number of items: picture frames, polaroids, puzzle pieces, mugs, calendars, quilts, a canvas, or pretty much anything you can think of! Your guests can paint, write, doodle, stamp, or draw in any way on your choice of material and create a beautiful piece of art for you to treasure.

3. THE TIME CAPSULE

You can also take the traditional idea of having guests sign a book but have them fill it with advice, messages, or well wishes and turn it into a time capsule. Tell everyone that whatever they write will be seen by you in a year’s time when you and your spouse sit down and open it. This could also be a way to include those that couldn’t attend the ceremony by having them write letters to you that you can add to the time capsule.

There are so many different ways you can create a guest book and express your unique personality. No matter how you may decide to do it, a guest book is a great keepsake for you to look back on for years to come!

 

"Friendsgiving" 2016 - Holiday Hosting on a Budget

If you’re anything like me, every holiday season spurs on a wave of excitement for endless opportunities to host.  To decorate.  To give.  To plan.  To commune.   There aren’t enough “to’s” to even cover all that us creative and festive folk can achieve in just one month of the year.  Most of us know the struggle, though, when it comes time to host a party or plan a dinner – that endless flood of creative ideas quickly curbed by the limits of a tight budget. But who says you can’t have both?  Our mantra at Inspired Help has become “make it work”.  So make your vision work for your budget.  It’s 100% possible.

A couple weeks ago, Brittany hosted her very first “Friendsgiving” with 15+ guests for – believe it or not - under $50. That’s right. I will also personally attest that there was absolutely no elegance and creativity compromised by that dollar value.  It was truly one of the most charming thanksgiving dinners I have ever attended.  If you’re in need of some thrifty inspiration for your holiday ambitions, here’s exactly how she did it!

First off, let’s just take a moment to take in this table set.  Believe it or not, Brittany used Kraft paper for the table runner.  Buying a huge spool of it can be so worth it in the long run and is useful for other things as well, such as gift wrapping, bundling bouquets, or creating banners.  A small spool of it typically runs around $3.00-$5.00 at any paper store. 

The greenery is simply a bundle of eucalyptus – about $12.00 from Nashville’s Import Flowers.  One bundle was able to cover the length of a 12+ foot table. 

As for the candles, Brittany was able to reuse a dozen or so that she had on hand.  Originally, these LEDs were purchased immediately after Christmas during the post-holiday markdowns.  Searching through clearance and sale-item sections is worth it to find ridiculous deals for high quality and reusable pieces like these. 

The festive plates and napkins came from Hobby Lobby and were purchased two days before Thanksgiving.  At this point, holiday items were marked down 80% leaving a whopping grand total of $10 for two packs of 20 plates, two of 50 count napkins and one additional 25 count.  The glasses pictured came from a Dollar Tree at $1.00 each!  For reference, the same styled golden-rimmed glasses are also available at Anthropologie for $18 a piece. 

Some of my favorite Brittany-DIYs of the night were these lovely “What I am Thankful for” bags.  If you caught us on Instagram two Wednesdays ago, Brittany featured a tutorial on how to make them!  If you missed it, the only supplies involved are brown paper sacks from Kroger ($2.00-$4.00), patterned washi tape from Hobby Lobby ($3.00), and a printer.  She simply trimmed the lunch bags two thirds of the way down, then sealed the bottom opening with washi tape to create a beautiful pouch for the silverware.  The leftover lunch sack bottoms were then used as favor bags filled with slow-cooker roasted pecans.  This was both a sweet gift to guests and a simple way to make the home smell like a cozy November. 

Lastly, Brittany had guests each bring a savory dish, sweet dish, or a beverage to cover the meal.  With a little winter jazz thrown into the mix and sweet additional touches here and there (how cute is that chalkboard sign?!), it was such a beautiful night.  And yes, we managed to fit all of that food on the table as well.  Amazing.

Planning and creating on a budget takes a little work sometimes.  It may require some deal searching, repurposing, and coupon hunting.  But it’s so worth it when your guests are raving over how gorgeous everything turned out (and you’re not in the hole over it, either!).  Be inspired this holiday season, and let your creativity do what it does best.  Through it, others will be blessed.  Enjoy the holidays, sweet friends!

 

Images by: Gabriella Alvarez - @gabbaliciousness_

 

 

Common Officiant Mistakes to Avoid

Happy Wednesday!  Today we've just got a quick tip for you engaged ladies in preparing for the ceremony.  First, think about your officiant.  Has he/she officiated many weddings?  Is it a pastor?  A close family friend?  Choosing an officiant is often a sentimental decision, and brides should certainly feel total freedom in picking whom they want!  Remember, though, that no officiant is perfect - no matter how many weddings they may have done.  Sometimes minor details get forgotten; here's a few that we've seen, so be sure to reiterate these with your designated person!

1. Forgetting to seat the crowd

It's an honest rookie mistake, but be sure that your officiant will remember this after you've gotten down the aisle.   Otherwise your guests may be standing for twenty minutes.  Yes, we've seen it happen. 

2. Standing behind this kiss

This one may not seem as obvious to most, but to your photographer it is.  Save him/her the pain of trying to edit around an awkward officiant standing in the background.  The kiss shot will look much cleaner, and you'll be happy you mentioned this to them beforehand!

3.  Skimping over state ordination laws 

Some states differ in how they honor ordinations - specially those who have been ordained online.  Here in Tennessee, someone must be officially ordained to legally marry you.  Be sure to do your research and stay compliant with state laws.  Even if it means having a separate ordained officiant marry you after the ceremony, you don't want to overlook this. 

Fortunately, your rehearsal will allow you to nail down all the small details with your officiant.   It never hurts to reiterate them beforehand, though, to allow for the smoothest ceremony possible!

 

Wedding Tips: Prevent the Wedding Week Chaos

Hello loves and happy Wednesday!

This week I wanted to share a couple thoughts about handling any week-of-the-wedding tension.  The last few days before your big day will fly by in a blur, yet there are endless things to think about along the way.  Rehearsal.  Honeymoon packing.  Emergency kits.  It’s easy to constantly feel like you’re forgetting something.  A lot of times, friends and family can be so eager to help, which is always a huge blessing!  The downside to this, though, is the flood of questions brides get from all sides that can leave them feeling overwhelmed.  In order to keep this extra stress away and best utilize the help that you have, there’s a few simple ways you can prepare the week of!

The best thing you can do to remain stress-free during the remainder of your engagement is to delegate tasks out to your bridal party and family.  Making each of your girls a point person for a specific job will allow your final to-do list to be done as efficiently as possible.  This also ensures that no one is left responsible for remembering everything, and each person can spend time focusing on their jobs.   Along with this, be sure to assign a filter for all questions, whether it be your maid of honor or your mom.   Your filter can be responsible for answering all the questions from friends and others wanting to help and may even direct them to what they can help with.   Taking the time on the front end to distribute responsibilities will significantly reduce your load and allow you to focus on you!

If this speaks to where you’re at in your engagement, I seriously encourage you to let others help you.  Though it sometimes feels like more trouble assigning others to a job than doing it yourself, you will be so thankful you did in the long run.  Never feel guilty for taking a step back to breathe while your friends put in time to help.  They’re there for a reason. 

Have a restful week!

 

Choosing your Bridesmaids with Intention

Last week on the blog I highlighted an awesome company that creates the most gorgeous bridesmaids gifts and proposal baskets!  If you didn’t catch us last week, check out our post here.  This week, in keeping with the theme, I want to address one of the first big questions a bride may ask herself upon engagement: “How do I choose my bridesmaids?!” There’s certainly a lot that goes into choosing ladies (or guys – bridesmen all the way!) to walk alongside during this exciting season.  For starters, here’s a few important thoughts that may help you form your bridal party with intention!  

First, make sure you take number into account.  Though you definitely shouldn’t feel restricted to x number of girls, keep in mind the ratio between girls and guys. Sure, it’s not 100% necessary to have an equal number of bridesmaids to groomsmen, but it at least deserves heavy consideration.  Keep in mind that lining up 15 bridesmaids and only 5 groomsmen may present some challenges.  This will affect not only the ceremony but the bridal party photos as well.  If you’re dead set on an uneven number, though, consider going a more creative route in how you place the bridal party during the ceremony.  For some inspiration, check out our previous post discussing this very topic here!

 While most brides do think about that balance between girls and guys, it’s easy to glaze over this next element of balance.  For perfect symmetry in bridesmaid-only photos, it’s best to choose an even number of bridesmaids instead of an odd.  Why?  Think about all the pictures with just you and your girls.  Having six bridesmaids allows for three on each side.  Only five, however, will leave one side a girl short.  Again, this is a preference that may not matter to you in the long run, but it’s worth considering! 

At some point in your selection process, you’ll probably run into the dilemma of trying to narrow your list down.  One way to help with this is to think about your relationship with each of your potential girls.  How long have you known each of them?  How much is each a part of your life right now?  Some brides go with only choosing those who have been involved in her and her groom’s relationship.  Others opt for picking girls from all aspects of their lives – from old high school friends to current college roommates to the one friend they’ve had since kindergarten.  Of course, going with a broader method of selection will leave you with a much larger bridal party.  But again, this is your wedding, so focus on choosing those who are most important to you – regardless of number.

Your bridesmaids should be the ones you can’t imagine getting married without.  During one of the most hectic yet endearing times of your life, they are your tribe.  Your support.  Your family.  Once you’ve gotten past the choosing part, then it’s all fun from there!  Again, check out our post last week for some awesome ways to propose to your bridesmaids with That’s Darlin’ Gifting!

Happy planning,

 

That's Darlin' Gifting: "Will You be my Bridesmaid?"

Bridesmaid proposals are so fun, I get giddy just thinking about it.  There are literally endless creative ideas for this, and I always love seeing what brides come up with!  I know a lot of ladies, though, that would love to treat their girls in a special way but simply don’t know how!  Today I want to highlight a business that may inspire you in this, and they’re all about cute gifting!  I’ve been swooning over them for some time now, and I’m fairly certain you’ll fall in love as well.

That’s Darlin’ Gifting is a custom gifting studio specializing in weddings and related events.  From bridesmaids gifts to guest welcome packages, they’ve got just about anything you could think of to help treat your loved ones!  Even if you’re a huge DIY girl like me, it can be so hard sometimes running from store to store trying to put something together.  With That’s Darlin, all of that lingering creative pressure is removed.  Each of their packages is customized to fit exactly what you’re needing, and you can rest assured that it will be beautiful. 

I mean, can we just take a moment?

These bridesmaid proposal baskets are some of my favorite creations of theirs.  How adorable is that?!  Their gifts are truly so much classier than anything else comparable I’ve seen.  It’s seriously worth it for all that you're getting.

There’s something so sweet about showing your bridesmaids you appreciate them.  Having a tribe of ladies there for you to keep you sane, help you prepare, and celebrate your relationship is such a special gift, it’s nice to extend one to them in return!  Sometimes words cannot truly convey how thankful we are for someone else, and gift giving is just another way to articulate our appreciation.  You want your bridesmaids to feel so loved and understand all that they mean to you, and what could be more thoughtful than a gorgeous gift box that’s completely personal to them?  I don’t know any girl that wouldn’t absolutely adore this. 

To find more information about That’s Darlin Gifting, go check them out at their website here!  You can also find them on instagram at @thatsdarlin_ and see lots of beautiful gifts they’ve put together.  You may even find some creative inspiration in the process!

 

Images provided by: That's Darlin' Gifting

 

Getting your Groom on Board

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Considering the nature of wedding planning, it’s quite often that the grooms aren’t as heavily involved in the process.  And all things considered, it makes sense.  A bride’s got a vision for her day.  She’s got lots of opinions and ideas fueling the energy to make plans, decisions, and purchases.  Often times, the groom is just along for the ride, playing the role of moral support during that busy time.  But through the time we’ve spent working with brides, we’ve found that often times the fellas simply don’t know how to help!  Here’s a few tips for getting your man involved in practical ways that are actually helpful!

1.     Give him a list.

Think about everything that needs to get done this month.  Now think about all of the straight-forward tasks that don’t have to be done by you.  If you’re DIYing wedding décor, do you need help picking stuff up from the store? If you’re sending out invitations, could you use help getting his family’s addresses? Come up with a basic list of things that might make your life easier and write them down for him!  If you give a man a list, he can easily knock it out!

2.     Get the groomsmen involved.

Sometimes it feels more worth doing a job by yourself if it means that it’s done a specific way.  Consider, though, having a night where the groom and all his groomsmen come over to knock out one big job.  If everyone is there together and willing to help, you can more easily explain a job and entrust it to them!  Maybe it’s painting pallets.  Maybe it’s boxing things up, or loading up cars.  Communicate this need to your groom, and take the opportunity to let them help you in ways that they can! 

3.     Communicate your need for rest.

It’s easy to get burnt out on planning, especially when you’re juggling a million different things at once.  When you’re reaching that point, let your groom know if you just need a night away from it all!  Don’t let your engagement season be overwhelmed by wedding exhaustion.  If you communicate to him that you’d love a night without a mention of the wedding, the two of you can take that time to enjoy each other and nourish your relationship!  Having that small bit of “normal” in a season of crazy may surprise you at how restful it feels.  Even if your man can help in no other way, he can certainly take you out, allowing the two of you recoup!

Take time this week to rest and let others help.  Even the small things can make a huge difference in your week!

 

Wedding Tips: Back-Up Your Music

Hello, friends!  Here’s a quick tip for your Wednesday: Always make sure you have a backup plan for your reception music. 

Regardless of whether you’re having a live band, professional DJ, or a friend running iTunes, all options will involve technology.  And technology fails.  Quite often, actually.  Volume jacks will break, laptops will crash, and it all seems to fail us at the most inconvenient of times.  But as unpleasant as it may sound, it’s best to anticipate for these mishaps ahead of time.  This way you’re already prepared for the worst and will have a good, quick solution at hand!

For those having a DJ, you’ve probably given them some form of a song list.  Screenshotting this list on a personal phone or even printing it out is an extra measure you can take to prevent this from getting lost (whether by human or technological fault!).  If you’re running music off of a personal phone or computer, have your playlist loaded onto a second device in case your first device quits working.  Another way to even further prepare is to find or create a Spotify playlist for the dinner music, one for dancing, etc.  This way you can rest assured that you have pre-approved music that can be accessed from any device at any time! 

Take this and be encouraged to do one simple thing this week to form a wedding fall-back! I promise it will serve you well.

Happy planning,

 

Journaling Your Way to "I do"

Life is fast.  It comes and it goes.  Even the days that seem slow become sweet and distant memories with the blink of an eye.  For soon-to-be brides, life may seem even faster.  Six months to find a wedding dress can turn into one month overnight.  “I’m getting married next year” will change to “I’m getting married next week” before you know it.  Amidst the hustle, it’s easy to lose the sweetness of this time in your life.  We ladies can grow so bogged down by life’s demands that we forget to truly cherish each breath as they’re given to us.  Today I encourage you to slow down and take it all in, and consider one method that may help you to hold onto each moment of your wedding day: journaling. 

Journaling is one of those things that you can either love or hate.  But even if you’re not that into it, consider how quickly your wedding day is going to fly by.  You’ve spent months and months planning for it, pouring your time and energy into perfecting every detail.  But ultimately, it’s going to last for one day.  24 hours.  Journaling allows you to both consciously slow yourself down, and it provides you with memories that are pinned down in your own words.  Years down the road, it will be so rewarding to have those checkpoints to sweep you back into that day. 

Practically, you obviously can’t be journaling through the ceremony and reception.  But think about the possible moments of downtime: getting your hair done, waiting for the whole bridal party to arrive, sitting around before the first look.  Those are quick opportunities for you to literally jot down any thoughts and feelings.  Writing it all down also helps to combat nervousness or feeling antsy, and you may find that it keeps you calm throughout the day! 

If you love the idea of journaling, I truly hope that you find it worthwhile.  Don’t even hesitate to start now, even if you’re still months away!  It will serve you well. Regardless of if what it is, I really challenge you to find something to slow you down during this season. What is it that’s keeping you from doing so? You deserve to breathe, and you deserve to cherish these moments.  In the spirit of October, go grab a blanket and some coffee, and take a moment of rest.  Find whatever allows you to do those things, and don’t let anything snatch away your joy. 

Happy Fall!

 

Images by: Abby Tohline Photography 

 

 

Meet the Staff Monday: LeChelle

Hey everyone! My name is LeChelle.

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan but somehow found my way to good ole' Tennessee. I am a busy body, book lover, and a ophomore majoring in marketing at Trevecca Nazarene University. With my marketing degree, I plan to work in the events business (how ironic, haha). I am the baby of my family, and if anyone were to ask my family members, I'm sure they would all agree that I might be a tad bit spoiled. Even though I am spoiled, I really love to work hard and explore different aspects of the business world!

Ever since I was a little girl I always planned everything out in my life, from birthday parties to my future wedding. I always found joy in creating and developing events that I would make up in my head. I am now 19 years old and still finding joy and passion in the events business, and honestly, it's a dream come true. Inspired Help is one of the biggest blessings in my life right now because since Brittany invited me to join the team, I now have a family full of other cool people who enjoy doing the same things that I enjoy.

To have the opportunity to experience good people, long but beautiful days, and still be happy with my job is a blessing that I thank God every day for. Our team is amazing, and I am led by the best leaders that anyone could ever follow. I definitely believe that Inspired help is where I'm meant to be and I plan on being around for a long time!

LeChelle

3 Ways to Place Your Bridal Party

Ladies, if you’re engaged, think about your bridal party.  How many bridesmaids/groomsmen do you have?  Have you considered how to place them during the ceremony?  If your wedding is still a long way off, you probably haven’t given it much thought (and we don’t blame you).  Chances are, you may not have even considered all your options.  For a little inspiration, we’ve got some ideas/tips to help you think through what’s best for you! 

Traditional Placement

It seems that most brides, even today, tend to go with the standard bridesmaids-on-one-side, groomsmen-on-the-other lineup.  This certainly is a great option if you’re going for the simple, clean look.  This placement also compliments more traditional styled weddings nicely!  One thing to consider with the traditional placement is the size of your bridal party.  Picture-wise, the divided lineup will look best with small to medium sized parties that have an equal number of guys to girls.  Aesthetically, this will keep your ceremony looking balanced and have the attention naturally drawn towards you and your groom in the center!

Couples Placement

A second option for your bridal party is to have them stand in couplings, rather than having the bridesmaids and groomsmen divided.  This lineup still allows for 2 clean bridal party lines, but it adds a unique feel to it.    Another option with doing couples is to have the ladies sit in chairs or on stools with the guys standing behind them.  Even if you are set on having your maid of honor to your right and the best man on the groom’s left, you can simply have them walk separately and paired with someone else, or even standing as individuals!  This way they can still be set apart without the gender division. 

Group Placement

This option has recently become more popular, as weddings have begun to stray from traditional in style.  The idea of having groups clustered together on each side allows for the bridal party to all feel like one giant family – a community surrounding both you and your groom.  This set-up works especially great for larger bridal parties or parties with a different number of bridesmaids to groomsmen.  Additionally, having groups may eliminate the awkwardness of having a bridesman or groomslady.  Rather than having the one man on the all female side or vise versa, everyone will be casually and comfortably mixed together!  Aesthetically, you may even want to include chairs for the front row of each group in order to create levels and balance on each side.  

The biggest thing to remember is that every wedding is completely different.  Your day will be 100% unique to you, so always choose what you feel most comfortable doing.  Never feel pressured to go with what everyone else is doing, or what people may be expecting you to do.  What is most consistent with the overall feel of your wedding?  Which set-up works best for your bridal party?  These are only just a few ideas, but we hope they have sparked some inspiration!  

 

Wedding Tips: Don't Forget the Linens

Hello loves!  Here’s a quick tip for your Wednesday as you push through that wedding planning! 

As your wedding creeps up, it’s so easy to forget about the small things when so much of your attention and energy must go into the bigger things (your timeline, your vendors, etc.)  One small detail so many brides seem to check off the list then forget about is linens. 

If you are renting or buying your linens, chances are they will be folded up and stored in boxes for several days before you’re going to be using them.  As you would imagine, all of those table clothes and drapes will form creases and potentially be wrinkled the next time they surface.  If you want to save yourself the panic upon realizing this the morning of, designate someone the day before your wedding to pull them all out and steam them!  Whether it’s your maid of honor, your mom, or your wedding planner, this is a simple job that truly pays off in the long run.  Having a smooth aisle runner, for example, really takes your venue to the next level.  Plus, having this covered in advance will save so much time during set-up and tear-down! 

Take the time today to assign someone to this job, no matter how far in advance!  It’s one more thing you get to cross of the list – and who doesn’t love that feeling?!

Have a fabulous Wednesday!

 

Tuesday Tasting with Chef Penelope's Catering

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You either eat to live or live to eat.” Cliché or not, I undoubtedly belong to the latter.   Food isn’t just for my survival.  It’s an experience – and it better be a good one. 

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a tasting with Chef Penelope’s Catering – a five-star gourmet catering business here in Nashville.  Specializing in weddings and special events, Chef Penelope and her team have always gone above and beyond in their services each time we’ve been privileged to work along side them!  We’re constantly referring our brides over to them, and after my experience at their tasting, I’m even more in love.

Before I even get into my dinner (which was, no joke, one of the best meals of my life), let me first say that Chef Penelope’s staff is incredible.  I was instantly greeted by three smiling faces who were incredibly excited about having another guest. From start to finish I felt warmly welcomed.  The entire evening the team was so kind in answering questions, serving their guests, and setting such a comfortable yet classy atmosphere – a rare combination that I was pleasantly surprised by!

Their sampling menu was everything good in this world – four heavenly chicken dishes, a vegetarian tortellini, dozens of different vegetable and side options, a fusion bun bar, coffee bar, and best of all: a bananas foster station.  Needless to say, my plate was overflowing with delicacies.  My two favorite dinner samplings were their Brussels with a Blood-Orange Marmalade and Grilled Chicken with a Smoked Shallot and Tomato Relish.  I seriously couldn’t get enough.  Their Garlic-Mashed Potatoes also came in at a close third, and this potato lover does not give that rating lightly!

But truly, the best part of the meal had been eye-balling me the entire night.  Yep, the bananas foster was too good to be true.  I had no intentions of eating the entire thing, but once that spoon hit my mouth it was all over from there.  I’m honestly still thinking about it two weeks later, along with the rest of my meal which was nothing short of glorious.  

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Brides, I seriously encourage you to check out Chef Penelope and her team.  Don’t let your wedding be remembered by a mediocre-at-best meal.  More importantly, let your first married meal be so worth it after the long day you’ve had rushing to make everything happen!  Chef Penelope has so many catering options – from vegetarian dishes to bar services, and she even offers a “late night snack” option for those who anticipate late hours of dancing at the reception!

They are so worth your consideration, so check them out on their website here where you can contact them and even attend a tasting yourself!  I promise you will leave with a full stomach and a happy heart.  Also find them on their Instagram, @chefpenelope.  Thanks again to Chef Penelope and her staff for an incredible night!

 

Images provided by: Chef Penelope's Catering 

This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are truly our own.

Venue Highlight: Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

Hi friends!  We’re so excited to show you an awesome venue today that many of you Nashville brides may have not considered!  Back in July, Brittany attended a wedding vendor on-site visit at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.  After her visit, she was simply raving about the whole experience and the amount of potential this venue has!  When venue searching, brides are often puzzled in finding a location that fits all of their needs: pretty, affordable, indoor vs. outdoor, spacious, and the list goes on.  Believe it or not, Cheekwood is one of the most versatile venues of its kind and may be the perfect solution for your “wants” list!

Besides its beyond gorgeous gardens, Cheekwood is also home to an art museum, a contemporary gallery center, and several event halls that are oozing with architectural beauty.  In fact, they offer 6 different ceremony sites and 4 reception sites, each completely unique in style, size, and price.  One of the nice things about Cheekwood is that they also accommodate a wide span of budgets – their Burr Terrace Garden starting at $700, yet their Museum of Art hall at $7,000.  No matter where you fall, there’s certainly a variety of options available indoors, outdoors, amoung the gardens, up on a balcony, etc!

Another huge plus to this venue is that it’s completely stunning as is.  Just look at that view!  Many brides go venue shopping looking at price only, forgetting to consider that this type of a venue barely needs any extra love at all.  The greenery.  The flowers.  The brick walls.  Everything you could want is already there in its naked state, all four seasons of the year.  Keep in mind that it’s totally worth it to spend a bit more on a beautiful space if it means reducing the budget for decorations!  This saves not only money, but also time spent setting up, tearing down, and extra hands needed for executing it all! 

Aside from your décor needs being reduced, booking with Cheekwood also allows you to utilize their Events Bar Package, with Cheekwood being the supplier of all alcoholic beverages.  They also offer onsite catering or provide a list of approved caterers who are experienced in catering to their venues specifically – a major plus! 

We seriously encourage you to check them out in your search for a wedding space.  Find them on their website here where you can check them out or schedule a site visit!  I am still marveling at the pictures Brittany brought back, and you want your wedding guests to be doing the same! 

 

Images provided by: Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are truly our own. 

 

Pros and Cons of a Sweetheart Table

If you’re engaged, you know that the decision making process is endless. From all the weddings we’ve done, we’ve found that one of the bigger sources of these decisions revolves around one thing: table arrangements.  For guest tables, there are literally endless options that are completely dependent on your venue, your catering, and your preference.  But for you and your groom, the decision is much simpler.  Most brides find themselves choosing between two popular options: a head table vs. a sweetheart table.  With sweetheart tables increasing in popularity, we’ve decided to break it down for you and help you decide whether or not it’s right for you!

Pro: It allows you time together. 

The day of your wedding can be such a whirl that many newlyweds find themselves at the end of their day having barely spent one-on-one time together.  Having a separate sweetheart table for dinner allows for that special time that you may not get otherwise.  Especially for those not doing a first look, it’s important to make some sort of time to be with each other during your day, and dinner is the perfect opportunity!

Con:  Interruptions are inevitable.

Often times, sweetheart tables are placed away from the head table, such as behind it or off to the side.  While this does separate the two of you from the rest of your guests for a brief time, having that separation will also cause for more interruptions.  Whether it’s Aunt Susie wanting a picture or random guests wandering over to talk, there’s a chance that your dinner may be short lived.  If you’re dead set on doing a sweetheart table, consider placing the table near the head table or even surrounded by tables of family/wedding party.  This way you and your groom are nearby, yet also guarded by the wedding party from interrupting guests. 

Pro: It gives you a chance to breathe.

Your wedding day is one of the most special days of your life, but it will also go by in a blink!  Having a moment away from even your bridesmaids allows you to take in all of the moments throughout the day and actually process that you’ve just gotten married!  Some couples even choose to go away from the reception room to eat dinner – completely isolated from everyone.  This takes the sweetheart table idea to another level, but may be the very thing you need before mingling and dancing!

Con: It separates you from your friends/family. 

Many brides are turned away from the idea of a sweetheart table, being that they would rather spend dinner beside their tribe of bridesmaids or close family.  The separation that a sweetheart creates may also feel odd during toasts with the Maid of Honor/Best Man away from the two of you.  For brides that don’t like having all of the attention on them, this may not be the best option, as that singular table will be the focal point of the entire reception.    

Whatever table arrangement you decide on, there’s always a way to make it work for what you want!  Decide what’s most important to you, and factor in all aspects of your day.  There’s certainly more ways to find time together than having a two-seater table for dinner!  Consider doing a first look, or perhaps taking a post-ceremony break before dinner.  In the end, you want your wedding day to be a joyful memory – so make it happen the way you envision!

Happy planning,

 

A Bride's Guide to Photography: Asking Questions

Hello loves, and welcome back to Part 3 of our blog series, A Bride’s Guide to Photography!  For the last couple weeks, we’ve talked about the value in investing in a wedding photographer, as well as some photography style basics to help you find what you want!  Be sure to check back at Part 1 and Part 2 for the full scoop!  This week, with a huge help once again from photographer Alex Thornton, we’ve come up with a basic, yet great list of questions brides should be asking their photographers! 

It’s important to establish good communication between you and all of your vendors, but especially your photographer.  Any bride is going to have expectations for how she envisions her day, but without communication, those expectations may be uninformed expectations – a breeding ground for disappointment. As we talked about last week, if you’re unsure of your photographer’s methods or style, always ask!  Have those questions answered before the day, or even week of your wedding, so you may be confident in knowing what to expect!  In addition, here are some other great questions to keep in mind for consults:

When should I expect to receive the images?

Your photographer’s contract should outline a timeline for when to expect your images, but always make sure you are aware of the waiting time!  It’s easy to grow impatient, but know that photographing the wedding day is just the start of how the photographer works to tell your story! After your wedding, they take the time needed to go through thousands of images, pick out the very best, and prepare those images for delivery. 

How many images should I expect to receive?

Many brides are uneducated of “culling” – the process of sifting through the good, the bad, and the duplicates to create the perfect gallery for a client.  Thus, the amount of pictures you hear the photographer snapping that day will not equate to the amount you see.  Part of their job is providing you with the best of the best – the images that perfectly portray your day and represent their best work! So always ask beforehand how many images your photographer typically yields for a similar booking as yours! 

How do you handle conflict?

This may seem like an intimidating question, but it’s a good one to throw out there.  Consider your Uncle Bob who can get camera happy and begin snapping away, standing right in the professional’s way.  It’s important that your photographer is willing to handle this appropriately, perhaps even being the “bad guy” from time to time so you don’t have to!

May I see a full wedding gallery?

Often times, brides are concerned that their photographer will miss certain "must have" shots.  Instead of typing out an excessive list of shots you would like them to capture, ask to see a full wedding gallery instead!  If the images you're hoping for are there, you can rest assured they will look for those same moments on your day. Unless your photographer is extremely new to the profession, they will know to capture most of those "must haves", such as your mom or maid of honor helping you get ready, the groom seeing you for the first time, cutting the cake, etc! If you're still concerned about them capturing special items, a DIY project, or candids with specific people, then you can certainly mention those to your photographer!

How will I get the images back?

There are many methods of photo delivery between print and digital, and this will vary from photographer to photographer.  Some choose to work only in print, meaning you’ll receive physical copies of your images.  Others choose to deliver images digitally only – either through an online gallery or by tangible method, such as a thumb drive.  This is an important question to ask when choosing between packages as well, as these options may also reflect on the price!

We hope you’ll consider these crucial questions as you begin the search for the right photographer!  Brides, how has great communication aided the photographer booking process for you? And photographers, what other questions would you add?

Thanks for sticking with us through “A Bride’s Guide to Photography”!  We’ve loved collaborating with Alex Thornton Photography to write this series, and we encourage you to check out her incredible work here

Part One: The Investment

Part Two: Styles

 

A Bride's Guide to Photography: Styles

Welcome back toA Bride’s Guide to Photography” series!  If you’re new to the blog, take a look back at Part 1 where we introduced the series, made possible with incredible insight from photographer Alex Thornton!  Last week we discussed the importance of hiring a professional photographer for your wedding and the value that the are.  If you’re returning, we’re continuing the series this week talking about photography styles!

When it comes to styles of photography, there’s a lot to be said and a lot to get confused over.  Maybe you have seen photographic work that you love but don’t know how to pursue a similar photographer. Or perhaps you are totally clueless at what you want in a photographer and simply need a boost to get started searching!   This is where understanding some style basics can be helpful and ensure that you and your photographer are completely on the same page!

Within wedding photography, there are three main approaches different photographers will take to capture your day.  Some have a traditional style, tending to capture more posed or staged moments.  On the flip side, others will take a photojournalistic/editorial approach, focusing on catching more genuine, candid moments. Then there are the photographers who will include both in their style, taking many posed portraits while also keeping an eye out for the rawness and intimacy that candids can portray.  This blend of styles is sometimes referred to as “illustrative”.  If you’re unsure of which approach yours takes, never be afraid to ask!  

Additionally, there are many styling phrases used among the industry to describe the overall feel of images.  Perhaps while browsing online you have seen phrases used such as “light and airy” or “warm and moody”.  What these words are describing are the different amounts and types of light in the photos.  Some photographers prefer their images to have more light and some prefer less, simply depending on what their style is.  Also, some photographers like to work mainly with natural light whereas others will create light with special equipment. These differing tones can also be dependent on location!  Here in Nashville, there’s a bigger push for the warm and cozy images, whereas coastal weddings may tend to have brighter, color-popping photos. Be sure to consider these differences in styles when looking for someone to hire!

When searching for a photographer that fits your vision, its important to note that each operates uniquely, seeing the world in their own special way.  Photography itself is all about having a personal perspective on a moment and aiming to capture exactly that. With this in mind, don’t book a photographer and tell them how to do their job.  Instead, go look through portfolios, and find someone who already flourishes in a style you love!  Also, remember that every couple is different!  You and your future husband may interact in a completely different way than a couple in sample pictures, so never expect to have pinterest/instagram pictures recreated.  Instead, take inspiration from them to find a pose you like, for example!

At the end of the day, never forget that your wedding photos are about you and your day.  When you get the images back, they’re going to portray your relationship, not somebody else’s.  So when the time comes, simply relax, embrace the couple that you are, and enjoy your joyous day!  Let your photographer do what they do best, and thank them for all that they do.  Their work is important, and we hope you’ll agree!

Stay tuned for Part 3 next week where we’re covering questions you should ask your photographer!

Part One: The Investment

 

A Bride's Guide to Photography: The Investment

Hello friends! We are so excited to be doing our first series here on the blog!  One of the most exciting endeavors for brides is delving into the world of wedding photography - from browsing, to booking, to beaming! This being said, the process of finding a photographer, knowing what to expect, and adding another vendor into your plans can be overwhelming.  Accordingly, we've partnered with dear friend and wedding photographer, Alex Thornton, to talk about anything-and-everything wedding photography, hopefully answering many questions you as a bride may have had!  

Alex is a Nashville-Charleston based wedding photographer, passionate about and oh-so-talented in capturing the unique love and beauty of a couple.  With several years of perfecting her craft has come great wisdom and lots of advice that we have been privileged to hear!  For the next two weeks we’ll be covering everything from the basics of hiring a photographer to navigating photography styles and more!

Before getting into the ins and outs of wedding photography, it’s important for you to first understand the value of investing in it.  Your wedding day is one of the most special and treasured days of your life.  But the day will come and go before you know it, along with the venue, the food, and the decorations.  Sounds disappointing, until you consider the power of pictures - the one piece of your wedding that you can carry with you for the rest of your life! And within those pictures live the sweet moments, the laughs, the intimacy, and the tiny tangible details you invested in.  No wonder The Knot highly recommends spending 10-15% of your entire budget simply devoted to photography! 

While it may be tempting to skimp out on, putting money towards a high quality photographer that you trust and love will be one of the best wedding decisions that you make. Sure, Aunt Sally may have a semi-nice camera and be willing to shoot your day, but when you get the pictures back, chances are you’ll be wishing you took the higher-quality route.  It’s important not only to find someone with a great portfolio, but someone who fits the style you want and the specific needs that you have (which we will dive into next week!).  

Furthermore, there’s nothing better than feeling at ease on your wedding day, knowing you have a professional documenting it. A good photographer will be highly experienced in finding the details, catching quick moments, and bringing out beauty.  In addition, professionals are typically wonderful at developing a relationship with you, ensuring that you feel comfortable and confident in their work! It’s truly worth the money for you to have someone there that is excited about capturing you and the beau the very best that they can!  

Pictures are worth the investment—not only in of themselves, but in everything else you spent on as well.  The beauty of the day you planned so long for can forever be remembered and passed onto children, grandchildren, etc. Especially in a day and age where pictures can be shared and searched for at our fingertips, the true value in them speaks for itself!  Whether you’re newly engaged or halfway through, take the time to consider these things before it’s too late. We’re quite confident that you won’t regret it. 

Tune in for part two next week where we will continue our series and talk about photography styles! 

 

Ways You can Help Your Coordinator

Wedding Coordinators do a lot.  Between managing vendors, meeting a couple’s needs, and constantly fixing problems, coordinators are like the glue holding a thousand fragments of one day together.  That being said, there are still responsibilities you as a bride have in order for your coordinator do their job effectively.  As a coordinating team ourselves, we’ve compiled a list of ways brides can make the process as smooth as possible!

1.     Communicate.

Yes, coordinators are there to completely manage your wedding day; No, they can’t read your mind. It’s your job as a bride to give them your vision, give them the tiny details, and express your concerns.  A good coordinator will never be upset that they know extra details, frankly, because their job is detail oriented. You don’t want a conflict to arise that could have been solved from communicating beforehand that, say, your sister is a micromanager or that your family tends to run late. Those tidbits are so helpful to coordinators in feeling prepared and ultimately serving YOU better.

2.     Be prepared. 

So much time can be saved when brides prepare well for consultations.  Even if you haven’t made any decisions yet, make a list of what you need to get done.  Be clear and direct about where you’re at, what you need help with, and what you’re good on. This will give your coordinator a better idea of how you work and how they will be needed.  

3.     Be open to suggestions. 

Your coordinator/planner is experienced in this business.  They truly know the most helpful solutions, even in ways you may not expect. They often times have excellent insight on local vendors in your price range, creative solutions to problems, and more.  Especially if you’re on the fence about a decision, your coordinator may have suggestions you haven’t even thought of before.  Always be open to their opinion!

4.     Narrow down your ideas.

There is absolutely a way to be open-minded without being totally indecisive.  Your coordinator is always willing to help you, but eventually you will have to make a decision.   With endless resources such as Pinterest and Instagram, it’s so easy for brides today to get lost in a world full of ideas.  Realistically, though, the 2000 pins on your Pinterest wedding board probably won’t all make the cut. Even if it’s making a list of priorities or narrowing ideas down to your top two, this will help your coordinator tremendously. 

In the end, your relationship with your coordinator is key.  Taking that time to help them help you is not only benefitting them, but it allows your day to run the way you want it to.  The better you fulfill your part, the better they will have your back and truly make you feel comfortable on your big day!

Happy Planning,

 

The Secrets of Organized Wedding Planning

Whether you’re a natural Type A like me or of a more free-flowing temperament, organization is essential for wedding planning. Weddings take time—a lot of time.  And regardless of your engagement length, you probably feel like time is the last thing you have left to give.  Staying organized and utilizing all of your resources will allow you to use this limited time the best that you can! Here’s five easy ways to get a handle on all your ideas, tasks, and deadlines!

1.     Write everything down.

The very first step you should take in the planning process is making a master-list of all your needs.  Start with each general wedding aspect, such as the venue, then specify that area’s needs (pricing, size, questions, etc.).  It’s so easy for us to keep lots of information and plans up in our heads.  This, unfortunately, is also the easiest way to forget things. Writing it all down also allows you the joy of eventually checking things off, and there’s nothing more satisfying than that feeling of accomplishment!

2.     Find a planner that works for you.

There are truly dozens of resources out there for wedding binders, calendars, and planners.  Our personal favorite is The Happy Planner™ by Create 365! Not only is this a gorgeous planner with endless options for to-do lists, notes pages, and inserts, but Create 365 now offers a Wedding Extension that fits inside!  Included are labeled sections for vendor information, inspiration, budgeting, check lists, timelines, guest lists, and anything else you could think of! These options are great resources and allow you to customize it to your exact needs.  Regardless of what you go with, you want something that will fit right into your life and never overwhelm you.

3.     Find an accountability partner.

Wedding planners/coordinators are some of the best sources of accountability out there.  They’re there to push you through, have your back, and help you make all of your decisions.  But even if you’re opting for self-planning, accountability is definitely still needed.  It could be your maid of honor, a family member, or a close friend. In the end, you need someone both honest and supportive who can aid you throughout the process – keeping emotions out of the way! 

4.     Deligate tasks.

It’s easy to grow overwhelmed when the reality of how much work a wedding takes sets in. Deligating tasks to others (such as your bridal party) will help tremendously with this. Especially for those planning their own wedding, assigning responsibilities will save you so much stress and time. This allows for a greater peace of mind knowing that things are getting done – even on the days you choose rest over productivity! 

5.     Know yourself.

In the end, you know how you work best.  Find those little preferences you have in organization and communication, and use them to your advantage! If you hate hand-copied planners and paper goods, find a digital planning app.  If you’re visually oriented, take the time to color code or add inspiration photos to your notes! These are the details that will keep you motivated to move forward. 

With any of our listed suggestions, we want you to cater them to you, and do what it takes for you to implement them.  Anything that will save you a couple headaches and free up your life is worth it in our books, and we hope it is in yours as well!