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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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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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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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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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Surprise Pinterest Wedding: One Couple's Inspirational Tale

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Photo credit: Meshali Mitchell Photography

For many of us, a conceived thought remains just that - an idea with little to no action following. This is not the case for one Prince Charming who resolved in his heart to give the love of his life the surprise of her lifetime… enter Ryan + Amanda.

“I overheard Amanda say it was her dream to get engaged and married on the same day,” recalls Ryan.  This was almost two years ago when the groom heard his lady express this to a friend.  Ryan got inspired.  When he found Amanda’s Pinterest page, he struck the personalized “wedspiration” jackpot!  Amanda had her “Dream Wedding Day” all pinned up!

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The Event Planner’s Secret Weapon!

I think it’s safe to say we entered the event planner’s hidden vault with this find. Just a week ago, we uncovered two savvy apps for event planners.  Then, PerfectTablePlan’s Andy Brice shared a splendidly simple, smart, and cost-effective way to create event seating plans with us.  

    PerfectTablePlan Sample Wedding Layout:

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Here’s our "Top 5 List" of PerfectTablePlan's highlights:

  • 1) Import guests from spreadsheet and personalize with ease (meal preferences, status, age, and other helpful seating 411)

    2) Detailed seating proximity preferences come in quite handy when you have two guests who need to be seated together - or those two who should be as far away from each other as possible.  Using PerfectTablePlan’s nifty Jolly Roger icon (you know, that pirate skull with crossed bones image?) tells the software Uncle Joe and Uncle Bobby need to be seated at opposite poles and places them in safe zones on the layout.

    3) User-friendly templates for easy creation of escort or place card and organized guest lists and seating assignments within the software

    4) Budget-friendly cost puts it within reach of most bridal budgets (runs under $30 for the one-time software download for Mac or PC)

    5) Free email support (They've been quite the responsive team)!

Through the software, we noticed how literally hours of seating layouts can be shaved off and seating layout and formatting headaches evaded.  We look forward to seeing what other updates the pros at PerfectTablePlan come up with.  If you’d like a sweet, limited-time deal on the download of the Home Edition of the software, follow this exclusive GetWedforLess.com link for your copy: http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/purchase_with_coupon.html?coupon=GetWedForLess.  

FYI: The 25% discount for our readers is good until October 20, 2013.

Until next time… Happy planning!

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What Style of Photography is Right for Me?

This is a very common question for a bride-to-be to ask herself. Sure, you may have a vision of what you want your photographs to look like when everything is all said and done, but how do you convey this to your photographer? The first step is differentiating between the different styles of photography. Here are a few of the basic (and most popular) styles today!

Traditional/Classic/Formal

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(Photo credit: Brittany Marie Photography)

This is a style of photography in which the majority of your photos will be posed and/or staged.  The photographer will place you perfectly in order to capture the traditional wedding photos.

The photographer will be highly involved in this process, sort of like a director. Everything from the way you stand, to where you look, to how you hold your bouquet, the photographer will tell you exactly what to do.

This is a classic form of photography that will definitely be pleasing to all generations attending your big day! These do make for timeless album photos.

Photojournalistic

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(Photo credit: Brittany Marie Photography)

This style of photography concentrates more on telling a story. Rather than capturing a specific moment in time like the Traditional style, this style captures feelings and emotions throughout the day.

With this style you can expect your photographer to follow one step behind, almost like quiet, less interfering paparazzi. This will result in more candid, natural photographs. There is minimal editing done to preserve the naturalness of the images captured.

The photographer will be less of a director and more in the shadows. With this style of photography you can also expect to say, “Wow, I don’t even remember…(insert “seeing my mom tear up,” “your sister laugh at the best man’s speech,” or “my niece twirling around on the dance floor”).

These will also make for amazing album photos.

Artistic/Editorial/Modern

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(Photo credit: Brittany Marie Photography)

This is a style of photography that is going to leave almost everything in the hands of the photographer. These photos are going to have different angles, unique lighting, and unexpected composition. 

There can be more post-processing that goes into these images to create a specific vision.

It is important to thoroughly look over a photographer's portfolio to make sure you both have similar tastes and visions.

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Hairstyles That Will Complement Your Dress

So you found your perfect wedding dress. The one that made you cry as well as your mother and all of your friends. It complements your curves in all the right ways and you know it’ll make his jaw drop when he sees you walking down the aisle. It’s “the one.

Your look is far from finished though. Have you thought about what you’re going to do with your hair? It’s a small, but crucial part of your wedding look! Having the right hairstyle can make you and your dress look PHENOMENAL. Don’t stress if you don’t have any ideas for your hair yet, I’m here to help! I’ve done my research and scoured the internet to find the best hairstyles for you.

Taking the shape of your face into consideration when choosing a hairstyle is important, but don’t neglect the neckline of your dress! For your hair to complement your dress, it has to look right with the neckline. Wedding dresses have many styles of necklines. There are Bateau, High, Halter, Square, Scoop, Asymmetrical, Illusion, and V necklines. Which one does your dress have?

Asymmetrical/One Shoulder:

Photo Courtesy of: kleinfeldbridal.com

Dresses with these kinds of necklines tend to have more weight on one side of the dress since there’s only one strap. To balance out this uneven weight distribution, go for hairstyles that are styled on the opposite side of the strap. Side ponytails would work very well! There are many ways you can style this look.

Photos Courtesy of (left to right): www.bridesheadrevisited.net, Grey Zisser, Grey Zisser, Jessica Janae Photography

Bateau:

Photo Courtesy of: kleinfeldbridal.com

Bateau necklines usually sit either at or sometimes a little above the collarbone so it will specifically highlight your neck. Up-dos will complement this neckline best. It will add height to your hair and will elongate your body as well. Anything that makes you look taller and slimmer is always a good thing! The best up-dos for bateaus are neat chignons and bouffants.

Photos courtesy of: preen.me (left) and fordmodels.com (right)

High Neck (or Closed), V-neck, and Halter:

Photos Courtesy of: kleinfeldbridal.com

The high and closed neckline covers your entire chest area and V-necks and halters draw attention to your chest and shoulders so the best hairstyle to go for is an up-do. Since your dress already has so much going on in the chest and shoulder region, having your hair down will be too overwhelming.

Photos Courtesy of: www.bridalguide.com (top left), www.bridepop.com (top right), Keith Lathrop (bottm left), www.hairstylesar.com (bottom right)

Illusion:

Photos Courtesy of: kleinfeldbridal.com

This neckline has a sheer fabric that spreads across from the chest to the shoulder/collar area. This gives designers a lot of room for design because the sheer fabric is like a blank canvas so you need to take this into account when choosing a hairstyle. If there is a lot of detail on your neckline like beads or intricate designs, any simple up-do would be great because it will showcase the beautiful design on your neckline.  If there is very little or no detail then opt for a half up-do. You don’t want to put all of your hair down because it would take away too much attention from your neckline and that’s one of the highlights of your gown!

Photos Courtesy of (left to right): Chloris Couture, Ciara Richardson Photography, Ciara Richardson Photography

Scoop:

Photo Courtesy of: kleinfeldbridal.com

Oftentimes dresses with scoop necklines feature more detailing on the bodice, which draws eyes to that area so to evenly distribute the attention to your face a low side ponytail is ideal. If you want to add a little flair, you could braid a part of your hair and then turn it into a headband.

Photos courtesy of: braihairstyles.blogspot.com (left) and keikolynn.com (right)

Sweetheart, Strapless, or Off-shoulder:

 

Photos Courtesy of: kleinfeldbridal.com

These necklines bare your shoulders so the best thing to do with your hair is to have it free flowing or you can also do a half-up, half-down hairstyle with soft curls.

Photos courtesy of: perthweddinginspirations.blogspot.com (left) and WENN (right)

I hope this post was helpful and gave you some ideas for your wedding hairstyle. Whatever you end up choosing, I’m sure it will look amazing!

Until the next shopping trip…lots of fashionable love,

Lisa xx

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Makeup for the Untraditional Bride

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Tyler Olson / shutterstock.com

You’ve never been a “pretty, pretty princess” and don’t want to pick your wedding day to start. I get it. You don’t like to follow the rules and have never been a fan of cookie cutter beauty. That certainly doesn’t mean you don’t want to look AH-MAZING when you walk down the aisle. Here are some tips for the non-traditional bride:

1.  Flawless Skin
Your perfect shade of foundation should match your face and body. They should be joined together as one, in holy matrimony. Take three or four shades and place a vertical swipe of each product from your cheek down to your neck (swipe some on your chest too). Pick the shade that matches both. If you can’t decide pick the best match and use a bronzer to take care of the rest. Try Makeup Forever HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($42.00, sephora.com). Don’t forget to test in natural light!

2.  Bright Under Eyes
Bobbi Brown says, “concealer is the key to the universe” and I couldn’t agree more! Under eye concealer will brighten underneath your eyes, covering darkness and giving you a cheap facelift. Your concealer should be two to three shades lighter than your foundation. I heart Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer Kit ($34.00). It comes in a variety of shades and even includes a setting powder.

3.  Brows 
A groomed brow will frame your face. Notice the word is groomed. Fuller brows will keep your appearance youthful. Head over to the Anastasia Beverly Hills counter at Nordstrom or Sephora (Anastasia Brow Kits, from $16.00, sephora.com/anastasia).

4.  Eyes
Every product should be waterproof and crease proof. Stick to long-wearing cream shadows, gel eyeliners, and waterproof mascaras. If you want a natural color eye shadow try a cream shadow that is the same shade as your lid color with a hint of shimmer to bring out your eyes ever so slightly. I like Bobbi Brown’s Long Wearing Cream Shadow ($25.00, bobbibrown.com). Also shop your local CVS for Maybelline’s Eye Studio Long Lasting Gel Liner in Brown ($9.99, cvs.com).

5.  Lips
Choose a sheer, lipstick that has a slight shine and is a bit darker than your natural lip shade. Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine Lipstick ($32.50) is perfect!  You will have to reapply, but you are probably more of a lip gloss gal anyway. Pucker up!

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Top 10 Reasons Why NOT to Use GetWedforLess.com

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Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries on their wedding day - two-and-a-half months before the divorce. (Photo credit: Albert Michael, startraksphoto.com).

1) You'd rather spend a "cool" 6-figures on your dream wedding because spending a lot of extra money helps you "keep up with the Joneses" and "Kardashians." (Ummm... never mind)

2) You like the idea of spending hundreds of hours researching vendors on your own. 

3) You don't like knowing current pricing and offerings from vendors ahead of time. 

4) You'd rather let your wedding be a vendor's test subject.

5) Why go the easy route?  Stressing out seems fun. 

6) You still believe Uncle Sam won't be able to catch you when you write off your elaborate celebration.

7) You just have tons of free time. 

8) You'd rather search through 30+ pages of vendors on other websites without the info you really want or need.

9) You prefer vague, elusive content that's not easily accessible. 

10) You don't like awesomeness!

OK, friends, thanks for indulging us; of course, you wanna use GetWedforLess.com and spread the word!  Here's why:  About Us

Happy planning, & thanks for joining!

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Find us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, & YouTube 

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Hiring The Right Type of Videographer

Hiring The Right Type of Videographer

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Choosing a videographer can be an easy task if you know what to look for.

I put together a top 5 list of items, I feel, most professional photographers or studio owners would agree with.

Current trends use words like, “cinematic,” “dramatic” or “documentary” to describe the style of video a particular company offers.

The reality is that all wedding videos are documentaries, which by definition is a “motion picture consisting of factual sequences.” What that means is nothing in a wedding is staged or rehearsed (in the formal scenes), creating moments spontaneously, which are captured and edited.

Cinematic video is yet another way to describe a style or format; however, the true meaning of cinematic is “motion photography or motion picture,” and therefore by description all videos are both cinematic documentaries.

What really differentiates one video production studio from another is the video equipment they use, the editing systems, the people who both shoot your wedding and edit it and the formats they offer.

Here are 4 easy suggestions (not in any specific order), which will help any couple identify a quality videographer or video production studio.

  1. EQUIPMENT:When differentiating videographers and video companies to capture your wedding, you must make sure that the company offers the following:

  • 3 chip digital video cameras, or, preferably, HD ready cameras, as High Definition becomes the new standard for wedding video, delivered on Bluray DVD.

  • Wireless microphones  and low light, on camera lights and on camera microphones.

  • A dolly or any other device which will help the shooter steady their shot and remove/reduce any shaky footage.

  1. EXPERIENCE: Experience is also easy to qualify by identifying how long a studio or videographer has been in business. You can also find reviews on various web sites about the videographer or studio you are considering, which can help you learn a great deal about what you can expect to get.

  2. VALUE $$$: What are the costs for the service or product, what do you get for your investment? Get at least 2-4 quotes to have an idea of what is being offered. If the price you are given is way below the average cost you found, then you must know why. If the cost is much higher, then you must, again, find out why. Many factors will affect cost:

  • Keep in mind cost is always higher in higher rent areas or locations, which may require higher overhead and increase the price you would receive.

  • Do you have one videographer or multiple? The more shooters, the higher the cost.

  • The more shooters, the more video footage, which means a higher cost for post production.

  • Additional Equipment, such as lighting, glide cams, etc. (most unnecessary for a wedding, but requested).

  • Length of coverage. A simple rule to follow is the more footage captured, the more footage edited, the more your video package may cost.

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  1. POST PRODUCTION: Who is editing your video and how is it being edited? Is your videographer also your video editor (which is always a nice advantage)? What kind of equipment do they use (if you have some knowledge of video production)? Remember: a full-time editor, depends on the quality of his work and has an incentive to make every couple happy for future referrals. The edit is a critical part of your video. The edit is what makes a good video great; it is why the films you watch on television or in theaters take as long or longer to edit as they do to film. The videographer captures hours of video footage, and the editors select only the best footage for your final video. A seasoned professional has the insight and experience to know what footage is good and what footage is bad. You will also have the added benefits of post production magic with video filters such as Soft Focus, Old Movie and more. Each enhancing the final product.

In the end, a little education will help you ensure your wedding is captured the way you envisioned it.

Here are a few Video Sample to check out.

  1. Theme Wedding Video Highlight

  2. Highlight Video Sample

  3. Highlight Video Montage

  4. Best Man Dance

Thank you,

Alex Ruchaevsky

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part VI (2 Months)

Photo credit: Rebecca Moses (ColinCowieWeddings.com)

2 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Note from the Editor:  And the eight-week countdown commences!  Your wedding will be here before you know it.  Take some time to reflect.  You are about to go from “Ms.” to “Mrs.”!  Allow yourself to remember your single journey, embrace it, journal about it, and look forward to your shared future with intention and a heart full of faith, hope, and love.  

I hope you enjoy today’s post from planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown as we near the end of the Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series...  

Happy planning + much love!

Lauren

OK, my Brides and Grooms, we are coming to a close with no time to lose!  Here’s my rundown for the two-month marker from your big day!

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Messina, Flowers by Amy Osaba (Lonny.com)

Set Hair and Makeup Appointments, and Decide on Your Big Day Look!

  1. Bring along your headpiece and jewelry if available.

  2. If possible, make the final appointment for your hair and nails the day before the wedding or day-of, so your hairstyle and manicure are fresh.

  3. If a makeup artist is being used, set the appointment time and location and how many in your party will be utilizing that service.

Meet with Your Officiant, and Confirm Ceremony Details and Guidelines with Vendors & Participants

  1. Musicians and anyone having a part within the ceremony should be met with in order to confirm times, schedules/order, and responsibilities.

  2. Confirm delivery times for florist, bakery, photographer, and any other vendors.

  3. Check lighting with photographers and videographers and their positioning during ceremony.

  4. Know what time will guest be admitted and communicate to responsible parties.

  5. Know the answers to and communicate often forgotten logistics, such as:

    - Where will guestbook be located?

    - Do you have to provide a podium, tables, and other wedding supplies (candelabra, etc.), or does the venue take care of everything you’ll need?

    - What are cleanup/breakdown time factors for  any props?

    - Is there storage available if any items need to be left overnight for picky vendors?  If so, who will handle that at venue and Is there a fee?

Picture of marriage license

 

 

Apply for your Marriage License!

(Can’t be official without this)!

 

Have Completed Programs and Menus Printed

(Your caterer may do menus for you).

  

Plan Hospitality/Welcome Bags or Baskets for Out-of-Town Guests

Maybe you want to keep your theme or you and your intended’s story in mind to personalize the gifts.  Perhaps, you are getting married at a destination location and want to incorporate that somehow in your welcome gift.  Make them fun and inexpensive, but be creative!

Check back soon for the final part in this series!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part V (4 Months)

4 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Note from the Editor:  It’s time for some more fun!!  In this entry, Jeff Brown of JaiLynn Events gives us the goods on the 4-month marker from your big day.  Discover his expert advice on cakes, rehearsal dinners, and the groom’s plus his men’s gear.

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Photo Credit: Lulu Custom Cake Boutique (Westchester County)

Choose and Order Your Cake!

  1. Taste, Taste Taste!

  2. Choose your icing wisely!  Fondants have come a long way, and many are quite tasty and pretty.  Traditional icings like butter cream are still classic and beautiful.  Nowadays, many great decorators can do the most smooth, clean designs using butter cream.

  3. If choosing cupcakes, think of how they will be displayed, who delivers them, the cost of delivery, who will set them up, and if carry-out boxes can be included for those who opt to take their cupcake home.

 

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Photo credit: Kristen Alexander Photography (Piedmont Room, Atlanta)

Plan the Rehearsal Dinner

  1. If budget is a concern, see if your venue offers a package meal.  You may consider a family-style restaurant for cost-effectiveness.

  2. Out of town guest should be invited but if finances are tight it’s not really considered rude to not invite them

  3. Consider a small limited menu  backyard barbeque hosted anywhere but where you will be staying if not at the hotel

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Photo Credit: Steve's Photo Session (Power Unit - AlLFA Design - Affordable Custom-Tailored Clothing)

Choosing Groom's & Groomsmen Attire

  1. Choosing from a large rental chain allows out-of-town groomsmen to get fitted in their hometown, and tuxes can be waiting upon arrival.

  2. When picking up, TRY ON EVERYTHING!  There's always a small size mix-up somewhere. Also, the tux is not usually in the store but close-by in a warehouse, so exchanges typically take a day.

  3. If due back the day after the wedding, designate one person to collect them, inventory each suit bag, and return them all at once.  With this designee's help, any cash deposits can be collected and returned at this time as well.

 

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Photo Credit: Style Me Pretty

Mail invitations!

Note from the Editor:  While it is an acceptable practice for invitations to be mailed 2 months before the wedding, I’d recommend getting them out sooner.  Yes, you may have already sent off the save-the-dates, but earlier notice of details is always best for out-of-town guests.   Make sure to include directionals, registry specs, and any other pertinent info!

Until next time... Happy planning!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part IV (6 Months)

6 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

We're halfway there in our Ultimate Timeline & Checklist series!  We hope you enjoy this entry of key to-do's at the 6-month point!

Send out Save-the-Dates!

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Photo credit: Project Wedding

 

Choose & Order Bridal Party Dresses

(Bridesmaids' dresses, flower girl dress, and look for accessories)

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Photo credit: Bride to Be (AU)

Realize that everyone is not always happy with your choice. They need to get over it, and realize the honor of being chosen! However, do your best to keep body shapes, height, and bridesmaids’ confidence in mind. A size 6, backless, off-the-shoulder may not look as good in a size 18, so consider slightly different designs, which most dressmakers will have.

Remember to get a swatch of dress colors for shoe shopping and vendors!

 

Book Honeymoon

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Catch a Falling Star Resort, Negril, Jamaica - Photo credit: GetWedforLess.com

Here are my honeymoon quick tips:

- Get travel and cancellation insurance.  (You NEVER know what may happen; it's better to be safe than sorry).

- Check for discounts via different airport departures.

- Confirm any immunizations or special documents needed if leaving the country.

- Book to leave for your honeymoon the day after the wedding or later - you’ll need the rest! 

- Check for all-inclusive couples resorts for great deals.

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part III (8 Months)

Thanks for joining us!  Today, we unveil what to check off your list at the 8-month mark from your wedding day.  One of our fave wedding planners and feature bloggers Jeffrey Brown gives advice on accommodation booking, we chat more about your wedding dress, and we start getting your wheels turning for unique wedding registries.  Enjoy!

8 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

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Photo credit: VESA Photography

If You Haven't Already... Buy Your Gown!

Your gown can take up to 6 months to receive depending on your salon and manufacturer/seamstress.  Alteration time should also be accounted for, so give yourself a comfortable, stress-free window for needed adjustments.  8 months is the minimum lead time recommended by most professional planners and bridal dress boutiques for ordering your wedding gown.

 

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Photo credit: Crystal City Marriott, VA

Block Hotel Rooms

Jeffrey Brown, owner and lead planner of JaiLynn Events in Washington, DC, lets his brides and grooms know that blocking hotel rooms and locking in prices for out-of-town guests are important tasks to complete at the 8-month mark.  

He also advises, “Book a suite for you and any bridal party members the night before if staying.  Also, remember to book a suite for you and your groom the night after your BIG day.  Have your room and bridal party separate from out of-town guests and away from the groom’s room if he is staying there, too.”

This would all be in vain if our folks don't book on-time, so be sure to let critical guests know what accommodations are available to them ASAP - and definitely in the wedding invitation and/or website.  

 

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Set up Your Gift Registry

Nowadays, there are a plethora of options for gift registries.  You may opt for the popular wedding registry route, utilizing registries from hot spots like Target or Macy’s, or you can mix it up a bit!  Today, brides and grooms are opting for honeymoon registries in which your guests contribute financially to your romantic getaway.  Some philanthropic couples have elected cause-based gifting by allowing guests to donate to a meaningful charity, mission, or other non-profit in lieu of (or in conjunction with) the couple’s personal gifts.  It’s your wedding - get creative!  

Regardless of the registry path you choose, I also recommend using a universal wedding registry system, like MyRegistry, that allows you to add gifts from any website - even big buying outlets like Amazon - in one convenient location.

Until next time... Happy planning!

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Engagement Session 411

Engagement Sessions are a great way to document this amazing milestone in yours and your future hubby's life! And there are always a ton of questions that come along with planning an engagement shoot, which is why I decided to write this blog today :) I hope you enjoy!
 
Engagement Session 411:

Congratulations, you are officially betrothed!  This is such an exciting time for my pre-newlyweds, and most love to document their new milestone with photos.  For many couples, setting up an engagement shoot proves to be a fun and meaningful journey into their upcoming wedding planning.  Of course, some may worry they can’t handle the stress of arranging for the perfect engagement shoot, what with the larger task of ‘The Wedding’ looming in the future.  Undoubtedly, it can seem like a lot to take on, but with the right tools and a committed photographer (ahem!) to help you along, the planning and shoot can be both simple and fun!  To get you started, here are a few of my personal tips on how to ensure your engagement session is absolutely awesome:

engagement photo dc

1. Location, Location, Location
One of the very first questions I get asked when preparing for an engagement session is, “Where should we go?”  Quite honestly, the answer to that inquiry is unique to each and every couple.  Usually I probe a couple’s history by asking leading questions; i.e., “Where was your first date?,” “Where was your first kiss?,” “Where was the proposal?”  I typically advise my couples that it is important to consider places that are meaningful to them.  And not to worry - most photographers are more than willing to work with you regarding location choice… for instance, one couple I know had their photos taken in front of the Eiffel Tower at King’s Dominion!

2. Wardrobe Considerations
Ladies, here’s your chance to tell the men, “Yes, clothes are important!”  Of course, this depends on your own sense of style, but my suggestions always include the following:
·    Nothing too busy that will take attention away from you - here we’re talking crazy florals, bold prints, zigzags, etc.
·    If it looks like it belongs under a black light, it’s generally a bad idea - no neon pinks or highlighter yellows.  Sticking to neutral and subtle tones will bring out your natural skin tone and eye color.  
·    Playing Matchy-Matchy can be cute when done properly, BUT you probably don’t want to show up in perfectly matching plaid flannel shirts… unless you have a lumberjack theme, in which case we could make that work!  
·    Variety is the spice of life!  Always bring a few extra tops and/or bottoms.  In this aspect, you can easily change your outfit, which will provide us with a larger variety of photos.
·    For the love of Pete, be comfortable.  If you don’t typically wear it in ‘real life,’ it’s probably not something you’ll want to go with here.  Comfy couples make happy couples and happy couples have fun on their engagement shoots - I promise.
 
 
3. Accessories
With the use of props becoming more and more popular, I suggest that if you like and want to use props that you bring items that, again, have meaning to both of you.  Will you be using these photos for your Save-the-Dates?  A cute heart shaped chalk board or a hand-made sign with your wedding date on it would be a great idea.  Other cute ideas include picnic set-ups, balloons, kites, bicycles, pets (yes, it’s totally OK to bring your furry loved ones along!), etc.

 
4. Hair and Make-up
If you are like me (hair and make-up challenged), I highly recommend having a professional do your hair and make-up before your engagement shoot.  Not only is it a great way to test a salon for your Big Day, this will also take the stress off of you having to do it yourself!  If you have budget issues, perhaps a friend or family member that does great hair will help you out.  Take the opportunity to have fun and experiment with different styles; my only further advice would be to keep things relatively natural.  The focus should be on you and not your make-up; too much make-up can sometimes be distracting.

 
5. Have fun!
This is a ‘no-brainer’!  It may take a couple of minutes to get warmed up, but once you get comfortable, photo shoots can be a very enjoyable experience.  Be yourselves.  Kiss each other when the time feels right, hold hands, jump up and down, crack jokes!  If you’re silly, be silly. A good photographer will want to capture you in that pure state of being head-over-heels in love, so pretend like we’re not even there!  Ignoring the camera and being relaxed is the best way to handle these shoots, you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re not constantly worried about what we’re doing.  Just have a good time, we’ll make sure you look awesome :).
 
>>Photography Credit:  Brittany Marie Photography<<
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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part II (10 Months)

10 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Start Shopping for YOUR Gown 

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Credit: Inviting Luxury

Here are my big tips  and considerations as you shop for YOUR dress

- LIMIT WHO GOES DRESS SHOPPING WITH YOU - You’re excited, and you want opinions, but too many voices can confuse and frustrate you.

- You may have an idea of what you want, but don’t close your mind!  Often, once trying on gowns, your taste and vision of what you really want will change.

- White, off-white, ivory, or splashes of color?  Try them all see what works for your skin tone. Also, keep the lighting of your venue and color scheme of wedding in mind - it does make a difference in your overall look.

- Chain stores have many sizes to try on different gown styles. More upscale boutiques often have similar or the wrong size gowns, and you don’t always get to try the different styles and colors, feel the weight of the gown, and see how the gown flows.  Even if you are not buying from a chain store, go and try on styles and colors.  Most likely, they will have a dress close to the dress you envision or saw at another shop but wasn’t available in your size.

- DO NOT BUY A DRESS BECAUSE YOU LIKE IT! Crazy right? Think again! When you find your wedding gown, you’ll know it because you will get emotional. TRUST ME, I KNOW after years of seeing it. If you don’t feel something from a slight warming or heart flutter to all out tears of joy, DON’T BUY IT! You will only end up buying another one - being stuck with the one you “liked” since it’s non-refundable.

- Discuss alterations, fittings, cost, and pressing of your gown. Also, check if special undergarments are needed.

- Ask for a swatch of fabric matching your bridesmaids' gown and yours (particularly if your gown is accented with any color). With it, you can match colors with your venue's decor, napkins, sashes, etc.

Let’s Choose our Bridal Party! 

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Credit: Boogietek Photo+Cinema

Your bridal party are the dependable, time-conscious friends and family who can handle any associated financial responsibility.

The general guideline is one bridesmaid and one groomsman per 50 guests. No one really wants to watch 20 people come down the aisle before you. It’s your day - keep it centered on you.

Don't forget your supporting cast! Choose at least 2 ushers. Females commonly serve as ushers. Select an MC for the reception. This is a fun, easy-going, and outgoing person who announces wedding party members and transition moments during your event. The MC also keeps speech-givers within designated time-frames. Guaranteed, someone always has something extra long to say!

- Note from the Editor: Another option for an MC may be your DJ. DJs usually serve dual roles at a very nominal - or already included - rate. 

Choose Wedding Planning Pro! 

Now’s a great time to book your wedding wedding if you haven’t already. 

WHY:

1) They know the ins-and-outs to guide you through the planning details.

2) They often can negotiate with vendors better than you.

3) They have the time, knowledge, and skills to coordinate the details, vendors, handle concerns at venues, as well as receive packages, etc.

4) I can go on and on about the benefits of a professional, but I’ll sum it up:  

We keep you less stressed! 

You cannot effectively coordinate the day-of and be radiant and relaxed when you walk down the aisle.

Choose Your Officiant 

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Credit: Wedding 411

- Keep in mind, your officiant navigates the ceremony, so choose carefully and consult often. Utilize your officiant’s knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

- Discuss music, any readings, as well as any religious requirements (if applicable).

- Ask questions on vows. For instance, did you know it’s no longer required for you to say “love, honor and obey,” so some couples have substituted the phrase with “cherish?”

- Lastly, don’t leave questions until the last-minute.

Start Searching & Booking the Rest of Your Vendors

We already mentioned Venue, Officiant, DJ/MC, and Boutique, but let's not forget  your Florist, Baker, Caterer, Photographer (+ Photo Booth?), Videographer or Cinematographer, & any needed Event Rentals & Supplies.  Search through the vendor categories here under Online and Local on GetWedforLess.com to see if you forgot anything - or anyone!

Note from the Editor: Another fabulous entry from planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown! Make sure to check out Jeff's recent post: "There’s no such thing as a dumb question..."  It's a great reminder about why not to neglect to ask anything of wedding vendors, and it can save you money and headache later. Also, may I also recommend one of our most popular blogs? "The Right Dress For Your Body" by fashion blogger Lisa Tran of T. Rose International Bridal Shows has a wealth of helpful tips for your search!

Happy planning!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part I (12 Months)

Note from the Editor:  This has got to be the most helpful blog series on wedding planning timelines!  Jeffrey Brown has broken everything down into bite-sized pieces - from the necessary post-engagement conversations through to culmination - the wedding day!  Because each segment of the timeline accompanies wonderful detail, Jeff will share the goods piece-by-piece over the next couple of weeks.  Today, he unveils the what would ideally be completed a year before the big day.  Enjoy, take notes, and pass it on!  Thanks for joining!  - Lauren

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Credit: The Peninsula, NY - Salon de Ning

In this Ultimate Wedding Timeline, I’m sharing what I walk through with my brides and grooms.  We’ll use the timeline with key milestones to get you to wedding day ready!

12 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

Guest List Drafted

- Parents on both sides always have people they want present. Within reason, accept who can you - especially if they are contributing financially.  

Credit: Simply Bridal

 

Money Talks

- Talk all the money details over with your intended to make sure you’re on the same page (see “I’m Engaged! Now What?" blog).  Meet with both sets of parents and other contributing parties to confirm who is contributing what before the bills descend like the monkeys from the Wizard of Oz on Dorothy!

Credit:  The Wizard of Oz, Warner Bros., 1939

Venue(s)? CHECK! 

-  Get your venues booked! While on the hunt, keep in mind that venues set the tone, size, and cost. Be sure they can accommodate your guest count.

More on Venues:

 - Venues can affect your color scheme. I recommend choosing 3 colors, 2 primary, and an accent that go well with your sites.

 - Your wedding day timeline (and wedding vendor travel) can be affected depending on the distance between your two venues.  Make sure the distance is not too much for you and your guests and that it won't increase your fees to vendors later.

 - If your venue is not for lodging, check with the venue on nearby hotels to accommodate out-of-town guests.  You may want reserve a block of rooms.

- Parking, public transportation, handicap accessibility, and security are important considerations for your guest. Check with the venue or your wedding planner on these items to make sure proper accommodations are made.

Stay tuned for the 10-month prep to help you stay on-track with your wedding date!

 

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