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AlphaBride: The Next Big Thing in Affordable Weddings?

AlphaBride: The Next Big Thing in Affordable Weddings?

On our constant quest for all things fab, fun, and affordable, an ingenious disrupter by the name of Sterlin Barkley came to our local group of wedding professionals.  Sterlin is the founder of AlphaBride.com, an online company that is all about "redirecting the cost of love."  

Here's the quick list of highlights from why I think AlphaBride has great promise in the industry:

  1. Legit Need -- There is a solid niche in the weddings industry to offer event professionals alternative choices to advertising on overcrowded and convoluted websites or buying leads that largely go unanswered.  For example:  AlphaBride will allow enrolled vendors to receive notice when, say, a bride needs videography services.  That video vendor - and others included - can then decide what deal he is willing to offer the bride.  She not only sees his public company info + goods, but she also privately gets to sees the bottom line deal from that video pro.  
  2. Convenience -- Based on the prior highlight, the process should provide some sweet comparisons and convenience for the seeking couple.
  3. Smart -- With the current business model of AlphaBride.com, wedding professionals don't have to pay until they book a wedding. 
  4. Transparency -- Interested vendors will be able to see what discounts are being given by others, so it makes it simpler for them to determine at what rate they can throw their hat in for the intended wedding.  As the great Sherlock Holmes alluded, "The game is afoot!"

At the time of writing this blog post, AlphaBride is in beta mode.  For the non-geek-inclined, it means their tech product is in testing or sampling mode with its target audience.  Sterlin and his team are currently asking for wedding planners in the Atlanta area with interest in learning more to join them at the Atlanta Launch Party; simply email him at dreams@alphabride.com with the subject line: "ABXO - Atlanta Launch Event."  Sterlin, we can't wait to see what comes next!  Keep us posted.  

Alrighty, Bargainistas, Beaus and Pros, please feel free to leave comments and let our crew know if you have any questions!  

Until next time... Happy planning!

Lauren

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GetWedForLess.com Produces Deal-liciously Haute Bridal Extravaganza on Sept 18th!

GetWedForLess.com Produces Deal-liciously Haute Bridal Extravaganza on Sept 18th!

Get Wed for Less is producing its third bridal extravaganza on Sunday, September 18th!  (Please keep reading to redeem special thank you gift below).

Metro Wedding Expo, a division of Get Wed For Less, is going down in less than a month at the illustrious Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park, from 12-4pm. You won't want to miss the incredible deals, FREE wedding dress giveaways courtesy of St. Anthony's Bridal, celebrity photographer photo opps, and fantastic bites and libations being dished out from the best of the best right in the DMV (that's DC, Maryland, and Northern VA for those who are not "urea"-conscious). 

We will welcome event savants and the host of the finest brides and grooms the DMV has to offer (yes, true words!)  There will be an abundance of local fave Creatives and Tastemakers to wow your socks off at #MWE (check out which local favorite wedding professionals are already confirmed to be in the house on Sept 18th here).  Get there early to catch the glam bridal gowns rocked during our Haute Runway Show -- sure to impress the most discerning of brides!  

As a special thank you for being a getwedforless.com subscriber, we would like to give you $10 off your ticket (that's almost free, friends!).  Redeem online through metroweddingexpo.com, click on Tickets, and enter promotional code GETWEDFORLESS. (You will find the place to enter your discount when you click on "Enter promotional code" directly under the ticket options).

Visit www.metroweddingexpo.com for additional event and exhibitor info (major exhibitor reveal specials are ending very soon and space is limited). It's not too late for your company to be in the spotlight! 

We hope you'll join us, and as always, Happy Planning!

Team GetWedForLess.com and the #MWE2016 Squad

 

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Cricut's Got Serious Swank - You'll Love This DIYers & Designers

Cricut's Got Serious Swank - You'll Love This DIYers & Designers

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

On my quest to discover + share all things fabulous, fun and affordable, I found serious swank in Cricut… and it awakened major craft-inspiration!  Now I know why this is a not-so-secret addiction for both the DIY crafter and the creative professional.

Fall leaf design cut on vinyl by Cricut red and gold

If you’re like me, you like to find a #hack wherever you can!  This inspiration-loving designer’s hack is acclaimed as the fun-to-use machine that allows you to easily make pretty décor, personalized gifts, and gorg cards.  According to fans far and wide, the Cricut Explore Air™– Cricut's uber popular electronic cutting machine, is the best on the market.  It’s versatile, intuitive and oh-so-precise. It's also surprisingly super affordable, especially since Cricut deeply discounted the cost by hundreds of bucks on the machine and bundles — just in time for the holidays and your special occasion!  #Winning

How Does Cricut Work?

Cricut precision red abstract image

The Cricut Explore Air™ lets you to cut a plethora of material, including cardstock, fabric, plastic, vinyl, and leather (and dozens of others). The company shared, “The Explore Air also features Cut Smart™ technology, which allows you to cut a wide range of shapes and sizes with exceptional precision, from ¼" [to] 23½" tall.  I love that the innate Air tech gives you Bluetooth capability allowing you to design/create and print anywhere from within the free Cricut app wherever you have a wireless connection.

Teacup paper design cut by Cricut crafter

Until next time…

Happy plan…err… crafting!

Lauren

P.S. A parting gift from Cricut: Get free shipping on all orders at Cricut with code FREESHIPNOV

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Lessons from the Cake Boss Buddy V.

Lessons from the Cake Boss Buddy V.

It was great meeting a modern-day culinary legend Buddy Valastro, most commonly known as The Cake Boss.  The Cake Boss, in some random case you don't know, is a hit reality TV series on TLC highlighting incredible edible art and cake engineering feats that makes millions of viewers each season (and customers of Carlo's Bakery) keep coming back for more. Meeting Buddy V. came with a great share of appreciation for the man behind the scenes.  Enjoy this fun piece with great insight from the Boss of All Cakes!

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Photo credit:  Get Wed for Less LLC

Never too successful to be able to relate.

Many "successes" lose touch with reality and become less helpful to those they are to serve once they reach a certain height.  I just listened to a clip in which 2016 Presidential Candidate Donald Trump said he had a "small loan" of $1 million from his father to start investing... in Manhattan!  Talk about out-of-touch!  (Here's the clip: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/26/politics/donald-trump-small-loan-town-hall/)   

Sorry, Don, most of us can't relate.  I love that Buddy V. talked candidly about how he did the bridal shows, advertising in magazines and everything he could to make a name for himself.  Now, he's the Cake Boss and still super relevant to the hungry entrepreneur... maybe because he didn't start out with a small $1 million injection? 

Not everyone will be your biggest fan.

Buddy V. has millions of fans watching him and his crew on TV and following him on social media and online.  I loved hearing him say, "One of the most important things [to know is] you're not going to make everyone happy."  Gosh!  How many of us are recovering people pleasers or somehow pride ourselves on bending over backwards for, quite honestly, the undeserving host.  Well, it was a breath of fresh air to hear from one so well-loved, so "arrived," that this is a critical key to remember.  Be true to your brand, pros out there! 

Boss?  Always.  Savant?  Meh... Maybe Not.

Hitting on the realness and humility of The Boss, he commented, "Everybody always knows something more than we do."  "Everybody?" Yes, everybody.  Some of us are afraid to ask for help - been there!  We can't go it alone because as much as we try to be "know-it-alls," we don't know everything and trying to be the Jack/Jill of All Trades ends up hurting us and our businesses in the process.  He continued, "Surround yourself with A+ people.  It allows us to do a better job.  

I love the quote, "Everyone is superior in that I may learn from him."  There is always a lesson to glean.  Buddy V. reminded me once again during our session.

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Photo credit:  Get Wed for Less LLC.  Event:  Your Wedding Experience, Atlanta.

Until next time...

Happy planning!

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David Tutera Talks Wedding Trends, Dishes Advice

David Tutera Talks Wedding Trends, Dishes Advice

Our event of the summer had to be David Tutera's inaugural wedding experience event, marking his triumphant entrance into the bridal show arena.  Buddy V, The Cake Boss, was there, too, and we know why America loves him!  There were quite a few golden nuggets we took away from listening to Mr. Tutera himself.  Here, we'll give you our Top 3 Tutera Trends-n-Tidbits!

1) On Creating a Wedding Uniquely You

David mentioned that he always hears from brides that they want their wedding to be unique.  However, as he listens to them explain their vision, it's usually the same boring stuff!  David encouraged the wedding pros sitting in on this catwalk-side chat to really present some out of the box ideas.  How about you have the reception BEFORE the ceremony?  What we got from this segment: Think differently if you want something different from the norm and don't be afraid to try something new - as long as it's YOU!

2) Real Deal on Room in the Budget for Fabulous Story-Telling

He said what really makes a wedding "successful" is to tell the couple's story.  David's words shocked me when I heard him say it.  He said that he can tell the same story with a wedding budget of $30,000 as one with a budget of $1,000,000!  Of course,  $30K is the lower end for Mr. Tutera's repertoire, but, alas, that's great news!  Interestingly, this made me think of one of my favorite chefs in Miami.  Chef Eric's brand drew me in because he focuses on just that - telling the story of the couple in love through how he showcases everything from the setup to the food design.  

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Photos Credit (L and R):  Healthy Gourmet Miami, RSVP Events Miami

3) Battle Royale:  Sparkles v. Lace

If you're like me, then you have been seeing lace at every turn... on more than just wedding dresses.  Well, according to Sir David, his bridal line Mon Cheri was talking lace four years ago!  Sir David said out with the lace and in with the sparkles for wedding dresses!  This world-renowned trendsetter in all things wedding told us Mon Cheri is designing and showcasing "sparkling, more glamour, plunging" necklines.  We also noted subtly plunging sweetheart necklines on a couple of his bride models as they walked about Your Wedding Experience.  Needless to say, I loved seeing the gown on my fave summer bride Jessica shown here; I let her know, "David would be proud!" *Wink Wink*

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All in all, the "Wedding Experience" was wonderful.  It tastefully captured the Tutera brand, allowed many of us to get a foretaste of bridal trends, and connected me with some phenom fellow pros in the wedding industry.  Do you have any "events of the season" you would like to share with us?  If so, please leave comments below - we would love to hear from you!  

Until next time... Happy planning!

Lauren

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New Year Fitness Goals? Here's a Practical Workout Plan for You

New Year Fitness Goals?  Here's a Practical Workout Plan for You

With the start of the new year upon us it’s time to decide what we want to accomplish over the next 12 months.  

For a lot of people that includes wanting to look better in that little black dress (or wedding dress)... and a lot of you will probably get off to a great start, but find that it’s all too easy to slip into old habits that don’t produce the results that you’re looking for.  Then before you know it, the motivation of the New Year is going, and so are the short lived results that you may have seen.  

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Photo credit:  Joe Bauer, WeddingWOD.com

Why does this happen and how can we stick to a fitness plan that works…? 

Well, I’ve been working with people just like you for over 12 years.  I work with brides who want to lose a few pounds to make that wedding dress look absolutely amazing.  And the average person that wants to lose weight and feel better.  

The problem is that it’s easy to fail.

Many times people will find a plan in a magazine that will work great at first, but when they get really sore, or busy at work, the plan goes to the wayside.  

The truth is that the first part of the plan should be really easy to accomplish, and you should be rewarding yourself often.

It’s really all about creating the habit of working out, and being overall healthy.  Once you have the habit the results will come before you know it.

Here’s a good sample plan to get you started, and we’ll conclude with the all important habit creator:

We are going to make this super easy.  All exercises will be done for 2 warm up sets, and 3 working sets of 10 reps.  Each working set should be heavy enough that it burns pretty good by the end of each set.  Also, make sure to rest for 1 minute between each set. 

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Photo credit:  Joe Bauer, WeddingWOD.com

Monday - Resistance training day

- Barbell squats

- Dumbbell lunges

- Barbell deadlifts

Tuesday - Easy cardio

- 30 mins of your favorite cardio method.

*If you have a heart rate monitor wear it, and keep your heart rate between 130 and 150 beats per minute. 

Wednesday - Go for a walk

Thursday - Resistance training day

- Pull-ups, or assisted pull-up machine

- Cable rows

- Dumbbell biceps curls

Friday - Easy cardio

- 30 mins of your favorite cardio method.

Saturday - Resistance training day

- Dumbbell bench press

- Dumbbell overhead shoulder press

- Dumbbell skull crushers/tricep extensions

Sunday - Go for a walk

So, that looks easy, right?  It should be really easy.  As I said earlier… the biggest hurdle is creating your habit, and sticking with it.  Here’s how we are going to do that...

Let’s start with your calendar.

I want you to use a digital calendar even if it’s not part of your normal routine.  This is because the digital calendars can be set up to give you easy reminders, and alerts.  I use a simple Google calendar, which is totally free with an email address.  But any calendar will work.

The first step is scheduling your workouts.  Just pop them into your calendar.  

If you go to work, put your work schedule in there too, and put your workout before, or after work.  Then make sure to be realistic with the time it will take.  I don’t want you to feel rushed.  Give yourself at least an hour for your workouts.  They probably won’t take anywhere close to that amount of time, but put it in the calendar for that long anyway.  Then add a reminder to each workout event to remind you 30 minutes before the workout.

That was easy, right?

The next step is to tell 3 people about your goal to start working out, or losing weight, or whatever your specific goal is...  

Just make sure to tell people that you think will be supportive.  I always like to tell my mom all of my goals because I know she’ll be supportive.  :-)

Here’s an example in my life… my girlfriend and I have recently set a goal of spending a year on the road in an RV to visit all of the National Parks.  We both have the luxury of working from home, so that makes it easier, but we know the commitment to actually do it will be the hard part.  So, we’ve been telling all of our family members about it.  We’ve been telling them about how we are going to afford the RV, how we are going to get wifi to be able to work, and how we are going to do all of our workouts on the road (we are both competitive CrossFitters).

It’s a HUGE goal, but we’ve already told over 20 people about how we are going to do it, and shown them our whole plan.  

It’s scary, but now we have 20 people that are expecting us to make it happen, and that makes us that much more motivated to make it happen.

So, grab the phone and call 3 people that will support your plan.  Tell them all about this plan that I’ve given you above.  It’s super easy, and will start getting you weight loss results.  Maybe they will want to do the workout plan with you...

What’s next…

I would recommend doing this routine for one month before looking to step it up a bit.  Not a lot, but you have to push your body to continue to get results.

When that month is up I recommend that you head over to our website at WeddingWOD.com and take a look at our Burn & Tone workout program.  It will be everything you need to step up to the next level.

You can also send me any questions that you might have.

Joe Bauer CSCS

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.WeddingWOD.com 

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She's Got the Cake: An Interview on Wedding Cake Trends with Maria Velasco

She's Got the Cake: An Interview on Wedding Cake Trends with Maria Velasco

This week, I had opportunity to connect with Maria Velasco, the expert cake baker and designer and owner at Once Upon A Cake in Alpharetta, GA.  Satisfying sweet orders for decades, Maria has trained under the best in the industry and was a winning contestant in the North Georgia Cake Challenge. Maria speaks with us here about popular cake trends, the raging "naked cake," and how she got her start in baking.  

-- All photos are used courtesy of Once Upon A Cake.

GWFL:  How did you get started baking?

Maria:  Growing up, my mother never baked. I had a friend named Lisa, and I when I went over to her house, her grandmother was baking.  I found it so fascinating and just started baking!

GWFL:  Very cool.  Tell us, what are the most common trends in wedding cakes you're seeing these days? 

Maria:  Cupcake towers are very popular as well as rustic cakes like the "naked" wedding cake.  Burlap is big.  Brides are adding more color to their wedding cake.  One bride wanted yellow and grey on her cake.  Another wanted a purple cake.  When you add in color to the wedding cake, it adds that pop - it's phenomenal!  I just love that.

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GWFL:  What are the most common requests you get?

Maria:  A lot of brides are liking more intricate piping work on their cakes, like the Lambeth Method, which is a really intricate one.  Simple scrolls are not enough anymore.  Some brides go crazy and want like a science fiction cake or even an upside-down cake.  Anything goes now.

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GWFL:  That's very true - people are becoming less and less traditional.  Emily Post used to be the turn-to for most brides; now they want to go against the grain.

Maria:  Exactly!

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GWFL:  Naked cakes... they seem to be all the rage right now.  Professional bakers have been making them for quite some time, but this year, they seem to be taking off.  Tell our readers, what are "naked cakes" exactly and why do you think brides are loving them?

Maria:  Naked Cake is a rustic kind of country cake that doesn't have any icing on the outside.  There is filling between the layers, usually three or four layers in the cake and usually filled with butter cream.  It is decorated with fruit or flowers.  Not only is it great because it has less sugar, but in rustic settings, like a barn or woodsy venues, which is especially popular here in Georgia, it goes perfectly.  It's great for a country wedding and beautiful when topped with fruit or flowers.

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GWFL:  Do you have any suggestions on how to keep naked cakes fresh?

Maria:  After you bake it, wrap it up and leave it wrapped overnight to keep it moist. The cake is fresh because you fill it and decorate it the day of the wedding. 

GWFL:  Tell us about Once Upon A Cake's Naked Wedding Cake Giveaway.  How did you come up with it?  Do you need to be based in a certain area to enter the giveaway?

Maria:  Yes, wedding has to be based in Georgia.  We can up with it because we say it was a popular trend.  The cake is rustic, it's charming, and we wanted to give one away.  The details are on the site.  The bride with the most romantic story wins the cake. (Visit http://www.onceuponacake.net/contact-us.html to enter for your chance to win, Georgia brides and grooms).

GWFL:  How fitting that you're giving the cake away to the most romantic or fairy tale style wedding with the name "Once Upon A Cake!"

Maria:  Yeah! We're romantics over here!

GWFL:  I could tell when I met you and your husband years ago.  You could tell he loved his Maria!

Maria:  (Laughing) Yes.

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-- Connect with Maria >> You can email, call or text Maria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (770) 654-9757.

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#BeatSolange Contest!

 
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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Photography

The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Photography

Photo credit: Boogietek Photo + Cinema

Wedding season is upon us! Now that Spring has officially sprung, I’ve got no less than three weddings to attend this month alone. Perfect for a gal who blogs for a website dedicated to weddings, no? Anyway, for weddings in my community, it takes a village. That is, we who are able chip in financially to make the big day happen for our family members. So, it behooves us to score as many bargains as possible so that we all save some money while still creating a beautiful ceremony for the lovebirds. Perhaps the most costly item on the to do list is photography. It’s also one of the most vital components of the special day. How else can we remember that special day without pictures- lots of pictures? And of course, if you want great, high quality pictures (and everyone does), it’s not going to come cheap.

We’ve come up with a few ways to save your dollars for the big day.

1) Smartphone cameras - Put that ultra expensive fancy schmancy high tech phone to use. With amazing photography apps like VSCO, it’s possible to take beautiful pics from the comfort of your phone.

2) Social Media - Speaking of apps and smartphones, most people have them, so it’s a sure bet that most of your guests will be snapping away during the festivities. You can go online and create a hashtag just for your day. So, whenever anyone takes a picture and posts it to social media, they add the hashtag, and boom! You can collect different perspectives of your day of wedded bliss. #nofilter (Actually, you should probably expect quite a few filters).

3) Get a "professional amateur" - Craigslist is a great resource for all things - well all things period! You can always find a photography student or one who is starting out and needs to beef up their portfolio. Just make sure you check out their previous work, so there are no bad surprises on the big day.

4) Barter - As a bargainista, nothing gives me a greater rush than bartering. Offer whatever talent/service you have in exchange for beautiful images of your wedding day.

Whatever option you choose, try not to stress. This is meant to be a joyful event.

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Surprising Men in Your Life With Gifts

Gift baskets are often viewed as gifts for women, but... I'm here to tell you that men love surprises and gifts, too! We definitely have to customize the gift, so it appears masculine. Using key items (such as their favorite color, sports or hobby items, or cologne) and including dark-colored towels or robes help the gift baskets to have a masculine feel.

All the men's gift baskets that I have customized for my customers have been HITS!! Not only was the man surprised, but he was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of the gift! The men who received the gifts really appreciated the attention to detail in their various gift baskets.  

Here are a couple examples from real customers: 

One guy loved Starbucks Coffee. For Valentine's Day, his girlfriend hired me to customize a basket for him, so I assembled a coffee-themed basket filled with various flavors of Starbucks Coffee, his favorite candy, and we put in "Love Mugs" for the two of them to share. Guess what? He loved it!!!

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Another guy is an avid Dallas Cowboys fan!  For his birthday, his wife had me create a Dallas Cowboys basket for him containing paraphernalia that he didn't already have.  This collection was stocked with goodies like Dallas Cowboy glass beer mugs, a Dallas Cowboys scarf, and other items all inside a masculine leather-trimmed trunk!  (Our gift baskets aren't always the standard type of basket, which makes gifts from Stylish & Stellar Gifts by Dar more unique able to really stand out)!

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So, what can we take from this? Brides, be sure not to leave out special gifts for your father, your groom, father of the groom, groomsmen, and the officiant (a male officiant in this blog entry's case). A personalized Bible or Bible cover is an excellent item to add to any officiant's gift basket! 

Closing reminder: Men love receiving awesome gifts, too! To see more gift ideas, please visit StylishandStellar.com

Remember... Always Be Stylish & Stellar!

Dar

Photography credit: Stylish & Stellar Gifts by Dar

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Finding the Best Photographer for Your Wedding Day

"Picture quality is mostly determined by the camera, but composition is determined by the photographer." - Robert Shields  

b2ap3_thumbnail_1529973_570161293070510_123422380_o.jpgPhoto courtesy of One Shine Photography

Many couples don't understand the prerequisites for finding that right photographer for their special day.  One who can deliver quality photographs is extremely important, and I'm here to explain how to narrow your choices.

First, get to know your candidates by inspecting their work, talent, experience, and most importantly their prices.  Keep it simple. You are hiring someone to do a job, and that job should be done to your satisfaction, so quality should be extremely important.  Quality tools help make quality work, but  it also takes a vast amount of skill/talent, hard work, and efficiency to make sure that the photographer can tell your story behind the camera.  

Because you'll be looking at your photos years from now and showing them to family and friends who couldn't make your wedding, the pictures should be expressive and show a great deal of emotion.  The photographer's job is to be able to capture those best expressions in your best light!  Picture quality is mostly determined by the camera, but composition is determined by the photographer.  Photos should make a person looking through them feel like they were almost there.  That's why it is important to browse through a photographer's photos and check out their resumes to get more insight on their shooting styles and compositions.

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Photo courtesy of One Shine Photography

Experience is also a major factor in locating a photographer.  Just because it's your special day doesn't mean that you should spend your whole life's savings on hiring a photographer.  Research your selection of photographers, and, if possible, look for any known references who you could contact.  Also, read testimonies on their website/fan pages.   With the experience comes the love for the art of photography.  It all falls back on quality work.  You should get what you pay for and be able to trust the photographer can deliver your vision.  

Meeting and interacting with your photographer is important as well.  Don't be hesitant to call or meet up with a potential candidate before his shooting on that special day.  You should want to know what kind of photographer you're dealing with beforehand.  Look for an audacious, confident, and charismatic photographer who is 110% sure they can deliver.  That degree of comfort will only make you more certain that you've made the right decision.  

Capturing those special candid moments of you and your significant other are priceless. They are moments that you can't get back, so thoroughly research your choices of photographers to make sure that your wedding day is just as perfect as you envision it!

- Robert

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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings: Getting Your Money Right

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Soon after couples announce their engagement, planning the wedding becomes one of the first financial obstacles that the couple has to overcome together. The best thing to do is to learn about typical trends when it comes to planning a wedding and what mistakes lead to the most financial failures among couples during this process.

Realistically, the best thing to do when planning for a wedding is to start small and as early as you can. Today’s world is full of couples that are getting engaged within the first year to year and a half of dating, which doesn’t leave much time to save before the planning starts for the big day. Here are my tips to help you spend less and be empowered financially:

  • - Keep a spreadsheet keeping track of all of your expenses, so you know what you are spending and where.

  • - Be sure to look at the big picture, what really matters to you both. Instead of wanting the best of everything, simple try to have the best of what you can afford and for what is important to you.

  • - Take advantage of the skills your family holds.

  • - Of course, everyone would love for their one of a kind special dress but buying a pre-owned dress is much cheaper and can still be your very own. Think about buying pre-owned then changing a few things on the dress to make it “customized and original.”

  • - There has been a common trend of starting a “wedding account” among financial advisers these days.  Even if you are not engaged, it's not early to start saving. If a person has even the slightest desire to get married some day, he can start saving before dating someone. I guess you could call it the “401-Wedding,” if you get what I mean.

Invest in your marriage, not in your wedding day. There is nothing more stressful for a couple than starting their marriage broke because they had a big lavish wedding day. If the decision is to have more flowers, the perfect venue or something else that is over the top, take the road less traveled and spend less. Having a little nest egg going into your marriage will make things a little easier and less stressful through the first few months.

Still need more info? Should you put everything on credit cards, or create a separate checking account specifically for wedding expenses to avoid overspending? Check out more tips on Credit Card Insider’s community page. Also, try the wedding budget calculator here.

Related articles:  “How Much Does a Wedding Cost?” and “I’m Engaged! Now What? - First Steps for Newly Engaged Couples.”

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Money-Saving Wedding Venue Tips - The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Savings

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You're engaged and checking around at the traditional venues in town.  You're most likely thinking, "Hmmm... can get a little expensive for a room." Sit back and give yourself a minute to think outside the box. There are many options available that might reflect your personal taste and style, cost less, and make a more memorable reception. 

Residential Communities

A lot of residential communities offer recreation/party rooms. In fact, I did a wedding reception in a apartment party room once in the Southwest Waterfront area of Washington, DC. The couple saved so much!  Let's start with their fee; it was just a few hundred dollars. The office included use of the attached kitchen, tables, and really beautiful chairs. To spruce it up a bit, I used white table cloths and went to the fabric store where I bought netting in three colors and used as overlays. I also used colored lights, made fat tulip bouquets for centerpieces, sprinkled contrasting colored petals around the rest of the table, and BAM! A few hundred dollars looked like thousands had been spent. It CAN be just that simple if the budget is really tight. 

Home Sweet Home

Also, consider a house/backyard reception - really! Don't rule out the option because you may be thinking it to be cheap or corny.  Even if not your own house, maybe a relative's or friend's whose backyard is spacious enough can be your wedding site. It does not have to be like in "Father of the Bride" (love the Steve Martin version). Think about it. What could be more personal and intimate? Dress it up by strategically placing floral designs, renting green plants, using simple, elegant dinnerware. These elements will truly transform the space when placed and coordinated just right.

Municipal and Community Treasures

Lastly, local fire house halls, VFW's, and similar type organizations often are available for rent - and are often diamonds in the rough. They can be easily transformed into beautiful settings. A lot of these venues have plenty of free parking for guests and often offer lower alcohol prices and extended hours. 

Faith-Based Buildings

If you are considering, perhaps, church halls, they now are not as strict as they once where. Some permit dancing and even a little wine and or bubbly. A word to the wise and something to consider: Be respectful as far as music at faith-based sites. While I love a little Trina and Two Chainz myself, church receptions won't be the right place for them; there are many acceptable alternate songs out there. (Smiling) Alcohol may be minimal - or nonexistent - here, but, WOW, your pockets would be a little heavier! (By the way, some of the best receptions I have done where ALCOHOL-FREE). Think creatively, think less is more, think it's your day, so it's all about creating something real that will last. 

Thinking outside the box can be challenging in finding your venue. However, it can create a meaningful, symbolic day no one will forget.

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Jeffrey Brown, JaiLynnEvents.com

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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings

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Season's Greetings, Friends!  

The 2013 holiday season is still going strong, and we're just days away from the New Year!  Many of us are enjoying lots of needed time with loved ones and are already taking way too much [insert your fave holiday cryptonitreat here] down the hatch.  Warm memories and cherished traditions invoke the nostalgia that magically comes this time of the year. One of my heartfelt memories took place this very holiday six years ago the love of my life popped THE question. The exuberation I experienced in that moment was nothing like ever before. Within weeks, I was in wedding planning mode!  If you're like me, I was reading any and everything wedding that I could get my hands on - eventually becoming overwhelmed. 

These sentiments led me to unpack the next series: "The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Savings." I wish I had had a resource like this series during the midst of planning my wedding. As our gift to you, your bargainista team at GetWedforLess.com will be collaborating with highly respected industry experts over the next few weeks on how to curb costs - without compromising quality - on each of the big wedding expenditures (venue, catering, dress, honeymoon, etc).

We hope you enjoy a very merry holiday season!  May it be a time of appreciation for what has been, what is, and what you hope the future to be. 

Happy celebrating!

Lauren & Your Bargainista Crew

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How to Personalize a Gift for the Person Who Has Everything

How to Personalize a Gift for the Person Who Has Everything

Like many of you, I used to struggle with the answer to this question:  "What do I get for the person who has everything???"

Like my grandmother, she had everything known to man! She even had things that she never even used - still wrapped in the box!  When gift time came on her birthday or at Christmas, it really became a small migraine for us!! So now in my mature years, I now know how to personalize a gift for the person who has everything...

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Felicia Green
I have become a Stylish and Stellar Gifts by Dar fanatic! Every gift basket I have purshased for my associates, friends, and fami... Read More
Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:44
Lee Savoy
Wonderful article. Thanks for giving me some wonderful gift giving ideas.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:21
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The Wedding Dress Crunch! - How to Get Your Dress with Less than 5 Months to Spare!

Photo credit: Brittany Marie Photography

It’s (t) - 5 months ‘til your big day (or much closer), and you’re wondering, “How in the world am I gonna “Say Yes to the Dress” in time?!”  Lucky for you, Team Get Wed for Less has come to the busy, bargainista bride’s rescue!  We’ve also consulted the wedding savant sisters over at Kreative Sentiments, a DC-based wedding planning company, for suggestions they share with their brides.

Online Winner for the Dress Crunch

Our favorite online resource for low-price, designer gowns in a jiffy is PS Bridal out of the great US of A.  With a 100% satisfaction and lowest-price guarantees, these pros are known worldwide for their impeccable service and expansive inventory, which caters to brides of every figure (sizes 0-32+). They even allow you to ship overnight and offer helpful options if your fave gown isn’t in-stock but still needed ASAP.

Local Dress Crunch Recommendations

Kimberly & Kelley Smith, the dynamic duo at Kreative Sentiments, recommend “purchasing a gown ‘off-the-rack.’” This way, you can avoid the likelihood of not having your gown in time.  You see, the gowns you’d traditionally order from a bridal boutique typically take months before they’re finished being sewn and delivered.  Furthermore, altering your gown upon arrival can take additional weeks before your gown is aisle-ready.  

Here are a few go-to spots to find gowns off-the-rack suggested by the savvy sisters at Kreative Sentiments:

  1. J.Crew (online only) - Notably a GetWedforLess.com favorite for the whimsical, graceful bride, we were happy to see J.Crew made the Kreative Sentiments list, too.

  2. White House | Black Market has a solid selection of tea-length dresses for the unique-chic bride.

  3. Local consignment shops

  4. Seamstress - “A good seamstress could potentially have a fitting and sew a dress in a four-month time period,” noted Kimberly Smith.

  5. Nordstrom, while more on the pricey end, carries lots of gorgeous in their nationwide locations with Wedding Suites.

  6. David’s Bridal often has gowns off-the-rack and sometimes this popular option can do a rush order.

A Word to the Wise:  Don’t discount thrifting, my friends!  Plenty of consignment shops sell only luxury and premium brand clothing that have either barely been touched or were never used.  

Just remember, when you do find that gown - thrifting or not - it may need to be altered, so add some wiggle room for likely alterations into your timeline.

Until next time… Happy planning!

Friends:  Do you have a great way that you found your wedding dress in a crunch?  Please share with your fellow readers!

Photo courtesy of Kreative Sentiments Inc.

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Your Perfect Honeymoon Starts at the Bridal Shower

Congratulations on this next chapter of your life - GETTING MARRIED!!!

My name is Julie E., and I am a romance specialist. To say this is a big step in your life is an understatement, and the getting wed process started as soon as you got that ring on your finger. You're so excited and are probably already booking appointments for wedding planners, bridal gowns, picking out flowers, picking the venue, and cake testing. Commemorating this important time in your life is not complete without having that perfect bridal shower that gets you all ready for your honeymoon.

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Military Couple Wins LIVE 'Wedding of a Lifetime'

Military Couple Wins LIVE 'Wedding of a Lifetime'

At first glance, J. LeVar & Nyoka Bryan appear to be your everyday working couple with two adorable kids, but when one digs a little deeper, a story of inspiration to defy all odds is discovered.  T. Rose International Bridal Shows heard their story while on the hunt for a couple to whom the company and generous vendors would give a live, "Wedding of a Lifetime." Nyoka and J. LeVar shot to the top of the list.

"I had a crush on Nyoka since our eighth grade science class," admitted J. LeVar, techie, business-savvy husband and dad of the Bryan home in Atlanta, GA.  Much to his dismay, Nyoka never let it go beyond the "friend zone."  Then, when she joined the US Army immediately after high school and was deployed to Iraq, J. LeVar thought for sure all hopes for his long-awaited romance were out the door.  Then, 2006 and a phone call came.

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Fool-Proof Celebration Tips: Seasonal Entertaining for Less

Fool-Proof Celebration Tips: Seasonal Entertaining for Less

Let’s face it, life doesn’t get put on hold so that you can plan your wedding. In fact, impending nuptials seem to attract projects and responsibilities like a moth to a flame. You said “yes!” and the floodgates of celebrations opened. Whether it’s a “meet the parents” luncheon, a brunch for your bridesmaids or dinner with your soon-to-be in laws, suddenly your one special day has spread into ten. I’m Tamiera from TheLifeforLess.com, here to share a few fabulous fool-proof celebration tips, designed with you in mind. Even busy brides can host fabulously and live The Life for Less money, in less haste and with less stress.

Impress the In-Laws Dinner Party

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Now is not the time to throw caution to the wind and try out a new adventurous recipe. Stick to an easy to prepare, awe inducing classic that uses simple, high quality ingredients. We love something fabulous and deceptively easy like Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon.

  • Cool fall and winter months are notorious for being a time to pack on the lbs. Keep your eye on the wedding dress prize by skipping the usual high calorie side items and desserts. My yummy Warm Winter Salad and Skip the Pie Poached Pears are a delicious alternative.

For Salad

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1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

½ lb Brussel sprouts, halved

2 Anjou pears, cored and thin sliced

½ cup Pecans

2 oz. Gorgonzola Cheese

2 cups Arugula

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

For Vinaigrette

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

Zest and juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup cold pressed apple cider

Salt and pepper

Put the cubed butternut squash and halved Brussel sprouts on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat. Roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden and tender. Remove and set aside to cool.

Roast the pecans in a dry skillet on low heat until you can smell them. Combine all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl and whisk into submission. Toss the arugula and pears together with some vinaigrette and put into your serving bowl. Add your roasted veggies to the salad and top with pecans and crumbled gorgonzola. Serve vinaigrette on the side.

CALORIE SAVING TIPS

- Nix the olive oil in the dressing and allow the mustard to give you a thickened, creamy texture. Mustard has no sugar and 0 grams of fat.

- Keep cold pressed, organic apple cider on hand to use as a sweetener. It will replace honey, maple syrup and sugar in teas, vinaigrettes, marinades and smoothies. It can be reduced to replace honey in your glazes and sauces.

Remember to…

  • Style your table! Be purposeful about making your table or entertaining area beautiful and eye- appealing. Use simple flowers, uniform in variety and/or color to make an easy arrangement. Don’t be afraid to repurpose items from in and around the house to help. A bowl of apples or fallen pine cones make a lovely Autumnal centerpiece.

  • K.I.S.S the party (Keep It Simple Sweetie). Make dishes that don’t require you to be in the kitchen much once your guests arrive. Renting dishes, glasses and flatware (rental companies will typically pick up the dirty dishes after your event. Score!) Offering food family style, limiting drink options and incorporating quality pre-made appetizers or desserts is a great way to keep party pressure down.

Have fun! No one likes a burdened bride-to-be. Remember that your family and friends are celebrating you and your fiancée during this pre-wedding time. If you all are not enjoying yourselves, what is the point? Burned the ENTIRE meal? Oh well! Take it in stride and serve that take-out lo mein right on your grandma’s beautiful china.

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Four Reasons Not to DIY

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Photo credit: WorkingBrides.com
While you'll have plenty of projects to "DIY," your wedding day, one of the most important days of your life, may not be one of them. With 13 years in wedding planning, here are my top 4 reasons to enlist the help of a pro and forsake going it alone.
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