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Eclectic Hudson Valley Wedding Infused With a 1970s Folk Vibe at The Ashokan Center

What happens when you combine 1970s folk, with an officiant wearing angel wings, a band called “The Slimers”, and an afterparty with Karaoke that ended the next morning? You get Allison and Matthews wedding, of course! We had the chance to speak to the newlyweds about their eclectic Hudson Valley wedding at The Ashokan Center, and their story is just as fun as you would expect especially their proposal! All of it was beautifully captured by White Poppy Weddings
 

How did you meet?

 

Allison: “We met about seven years ago on OkCupid, or, as my friends and I used to call it at the time, “The Website.””
 

Matt: “I suggested the hotel bar at the La Quinta in Koreatown, Manhattan for our first date. Trust me, the view was incredible.”
 

Describe your proposal?

 

Allison: “We had been discussing our feelings about marriage for quite some time, and I knew I wanted to be the one to propose. I bought a ring for Matt and dutifully hid it in my drawer, and then promptly lost my nerve and couldn’t figure out the right time to do it. The ring stayed in my drawer for months until late one Thursday night after a friend’s wedding when we were again discussing our feelings about partnership and ritual. Matt mentioned that he was a little disappointed I hadn’t proposed when he expected me to (apparently it’s a British tradition for a woman to propose on February 29th of a leap year, who knew!) but he said he understood and that he didn’t want to pressure me and we didn’t have to get married, etc. It suddenly became clear that that very moment would be the best, most meaningful, most surprising time to whip out a ring, so I said “hold on one second, keep talking, I’m listening,” and I went upstairs to grab the box. I got down on one knee, and Matt said “Yes!” before I even had a chance to ask! Sure, we were both a little drunk in the kitchen at 1:30 on a weeknight and Matt was about to leave town for a month, but it felt right.”
 

Matt: “I’d consumed a few drinks for sure, and my sadness at feeling overlooked as a life partner by Allison gave way to a rant about the marriage industrial complex, specifically what I perceived as a weighting towards creating the perfect day versus whatever comes after, and the next thing I knew, Allison was on bended knee with a lovely ring she had picked out for me. I had a piece of toast in my mouth at the time.”
 


 

Did you have a wedding theme or certain vibe you were going for?

 

Allison: “We had a hard time articulating our vision, but fortunately we had a couple of genius friends who agreed to help us set the scene. We wanted the vibe to land somewhere between a garish full-color cookbook from 1971 and a traditional May Day celebration. Our friends constructed an incredible design incorporating giant plaster cakes, plenty of gold mylar, and some unbelievable dollar store finds. My mom and I had a fantastic bonding experience sourcing cheap, beautiful mid-century glassware for flowers, and Matt had fun choosing 1970’s folk-horror-inspired fonts and colors for our signage. We asked a group of friends to sing “Sumer is Icumen In” (an 800-year-old English anthem proclaiming the arrival of spring) for our ceremony recessional. My concern with design unity is pretty minimal; usually, I just want things to look nuts. My stepmother officiated and we were both very excited by the idea that she would wear a pair of feathered wings. No real thematic reason; it just seemed fun.”
 

Matt: “We succumbed to the mood board temptation and it turned out that Pinterest was really useful for helping to give substance to the ideas we were struggling to vocalise. It was when Allison added two pictures: one of the Source family hanging out next to a Rolls Royce and another of a sassy, disinterested looking woman hanging out in someone’s basement in the 70s, that I knew what we should be going for. I’m personally quite taken with the church/veteran’s hall-done-up-for-a-celebration atmosphere, so the mylar curtains were important to us. Plus we really like disco music and we were glad to be permitted to hang a disco ball in the center of the performance/ceremony space. The decorations in the dining hall were so well thought out by our friends that I’m still excited by the wonderful feat they accomplished; macrame runners, floating candles in punch bowls, gold rocks, etc.”
 

Why did you choose the Hudson Valley for your wedding?

 

Allison: “I’m from the Hudson Valley and I’m so passionate about it I have the Stone Ridge zip code tattooed on my leg. Matt’s from the UK and has friends scattered all over the world, so we were excited to bring many people to upstate New York for the first time, and provide them with a setting where they could have good food and good company provided for the entire weekend (while supporting small businesses in the community I love!) We currently live in New York City, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the urban/rural divide within my own heart, so I wanted to celebrate near the Ashokan Reservoir where we could reflect on the complex interwoven infrastructure that sustains us. The Ashokan Center was our dream venue from the start since you get the site for basically three days, you can party all night long, and everything’s provided. We’d also been to concerts there, so we had pre-existing positive associations and we knew it would work well for live music. Plus it’s a 15-minute drive from my mom’s house!”
 

Matt: “It made perfect sense to get married in the Hudson Valley. I also spent a large portion of my childhood growing up in the country and to that extent, Allison’s experience didn’t seem too different from mine. We have spent many pleasant weekends visiting family and friends in the area and it was important to me to share this with the UK contingent. A note on the Ashokan Center: we were really sold on the idea of there being no curfew and although we were passed out by around 3 am, some guests made it until sunrise on Sunday morning! And of course, it is in a wonderful location, which we felt would give our guests the ideal opportunity to explore the immediate locale.”
 


 

Do you have any tips for engaged couples?

 

Allison: “It really helped us to think of the wedding not as an obligation, but as a collaborative project where we could learn more about our communication styles and problem-solving skills. We felt less guilty about spending money to throw an elaborate party when we realized it was a serious relationship-building activity. Of course, that meant that when it was over we were depressed the way you might be when a show, tour, or job ends, so it’s important to make space to process those feelings afterward. On a more prosaic note – hire a day-of-coordinator if you can! It won’t make you any less punk to get some help, and it will make it a lot easier to actually eat during the event.”
 

Matt: “Make sure at least one of you can use spreadsheets. I will be forever indebted to Allison for this. In all seriousness though, I must echo Allison’s thoughts: you may think that the logistical task of organising a wedding is not necessarily the most romantic path towards a greater understanding of the other, however in our case it absolutely was, and although we had initially talked about this being a compelling reason for getting married, I was still surprised to find myself, a week out, feeling the first waves of depression about this brief stage of our relationship coming to an end. If your schedule permits, give yourself plenty of time to pull together the various elements of your wedding. We were engaged for two years and one thing that helps keep stress levels down is pacing yourself because things will definitely start to ramp up a couple of months before the ceremony. Yes, there were a couple moments of heightened tension, I think that’s unavoidable, but for the most part, Allison and I had really had a wonderful time working together on this project. As for budgeting, try to be honest and rigid about the absolute most you are willing and can afford to spend on your wedding. We tried to work with two projected budgets: one where we would cut as many corners as possible and the other the top end of what we were comfortable spending. This actually was very helpful because it made us focus on the areas where it would be most beneficial to allocate our budget. When you can quickly pull up a list of different cost options on a spreadsheet, it definitely helps streamline the decision-making process. And yes, definitely allow yourself the space to process the post-wedding depression afterward! It’s ok though, you got married for a reason, right?”
 

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?

 

Allison: “This is a tough one to pin down! We have a lot of performers among our friends and family, and I LOVE toasts, so we had many uproarious speeches from our loved ones. Our friends also put together a supergroup covers band for us, and we were totally floored by how hard they worked and how they managed to put together an entire set of our favorite songs in a month. By the end of that I was just insane and screaming with joy, and we still had an awesome after party with two DJ’s (also our dear friends) and late-night karaoke to go. But let’s be honest, my favorite moment was immediately after our ceremony when we just held each other and wept with happiness.”
 

Matt: “Well, it seemed like Allison was just standing there waiting for me to reemerge from the crumpled up ball on the floor that I was, bawling my eyes out. But yes, that was very memorable. I also got a huge kick from the merry peals of laughter that emanated from the ceremony hall as Allison’s step-mother appeared from behind the mylar curtain in her wings. It helped shake me from my extremely nervous state and put me straight back in the moment. I loved the toasts far more than I expected. Allison was pulling hard to make this a key component of the wedding and during the moment itself, it totally dawned on me why asking these people, who we loved and admired, to do something they might not normally do was so important. You learn new things in these moments. Who knew my dad would be so adept at prop comedy? Who knew my mum would pull a boss power move by refusing to stand up for her toast? That said, I think the first look was my favourite moment. I knew Allison had put an awful lot of time and effort into sourcing and putting together her wedding ensemble but even then, I just couldn’t believe how calm and radiant and beautiful she looked when I saw her first. I’ll never forget the way she was that day.”
 


 

Vendors:

 

Venue: The Ashokan Center

Catering: The Ashokan Center, Chef Bill Warnes

Planner/Coordinator: Danielle DeFreest of Every Little Detail.

Dessert: We baked our own cake (it looked really goofy but we wanted to give our guests something we’d made together), but we got supplementary desserts from Lydia’s Cafe and the Alternative Baker

Flowers: We worked with Adam’s Fairacre Farms to come up with a hybrid plan that worked with our budget. They created two large professional arrangements for our welcome table, and then allowed us to buy additional flowers in bulk so that my mom and her friends could make the little table arrangements. I highly recommend this approach!

Photography: Alex Ligouri of White Poppy Weddings

Hair/Makeup: Madison Smith

Entertainments/design: As mentioned, we had a huge amount of help from friends who we asked well in advance, as well as friends who just decided to help as the weekend unfolded. We were – and still are – so, so grateful for their input, time and patience with us. The wedding would have looked very different without them.

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Pioneer Media Hudson Valley Weddings

The Most Common Regret Couples Have About Their Wedding

Wedding videography. It’s one of those decisions many couples struggle with. Do you hire a videographer or do you not? It really is a love/hate relationship with many couples and is one of those elements that couples question until the very last minute. If you’re like me, you’re probably asking all your friends if they hired a videographer if they watch the video, how much did they spend on it, etc. In fact, tell me if any of these thoughts crossed your mind at some point in the wedding process…

 

Thought #1“We’ve already booked a great photographer, so we know we’re going to get amazing photos. A video is nice, but not necessary.”

 

Thought #2“We’ve already ‘spent’ a lot of money not only on our photographer but our venue and everything else to make our wedding special. We don’t want to spend more money on a video.”

 

Thought #3“We don’t need a video. We hate being on camera and we’ll never watch it. It’ll just sit on a shelf or in a box collecting dust. It’s a waste of money.”

 

If any, or all those thoughts have played out in your head, you’re not alone. “Many sources show that the top regret of brides after their weddings was not getting videography”, says Bryndon Romero, Owner of Pioneer Media. “If you Google “biggest regret in weddings” the first three search results point to “not hiring a professional videographer” as the number one regret of real brides.” Google search it yourself, you’ll see.

 

 

RELATED: HIRING A WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHER? 5 RED FLAGS YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF

 

Who wants to live life with regrets, especially on the biggest day of your life?

Unfortunately, I fall into that regret category. While we have video taken by family members, it’s still not the same as having a beautiful quality edited video.

 

Why is videography such a back-and-forth decision?

 

Well, first off, videography can add an additional $500-$1000 (or more) onto your budget. “Weddings are not cheap,” says Romero. “Most often it’s one of those ‘If -there’s-room-in-the-budget-at-the-end’ type of decisions. For some, a video is not considered a must-have, like your DJ or photographer. Many consider it a luxury, not a necessity.”

 

Emma Cleary, owner of Emma Cleary Photo & Video agrees. She says that it’s not always a last-minute decision but certainly comes after booking your photographer. “Sometimes the couple will wait until they know how much they have left in their budget before booking videography,” she says. “Couples often like to secure their photographer first and have the option to add video to their package at a later date.”

 

Why is videography so important?

 

Cleary says that, while it sounds cliché, a wedding day goes by VERY fast! There are so many moments happening throughout the day that you might miss, and while you think you may not watch a video, at some point, and in some way, you’ll want to relive the day over and over for some time to come.

 

She says that while photos are great and are certainly a very important investment, there is one thing video can provide that photos can’t. That’s sound and voices. It’s one thing to see photos of people dancing, it’s another to actually hear the music, hear the cheers or clapping, see people in active motion. It’s great to have your grandparents in your photos, it’s another to actually hear their voices and hear what they have the say to you on your wedding day. In years to come, your kids will want to see you as a young couple. They’re going to want to hear all about your wedding day, and how special will it be for them to actually hear you recite your vows to each other instead of just seeing photos of it, without really knowing what you said?

 
RELATED: PHOTOGRAPHY TRENDS AND HIGHLIGHT VIDEOS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
 

What type of videography is right for you?

 

Hudson Valley Wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to invest in video, but have horrible flashbacks of when you saw your parent’s weddings video. Videos, where the cameraman goes from table to table with a microphone and has each guest, say a little congratulatory message to the new couple. Well, if you’ve been on social media at any time, you’ll know video has come a long way. They’re more like mini motion pictures.

 

“In weddings, there are basically two types of videography,” says Romero. “Documentary style has traditionally been the most common form of videography. Its purpose is to provide information through visuals; it tells the viewer what is happening. Typically longer clips are used that show the beginning of an action until its completion.”

 

“Then there is cinematography,” he says. “The goal is to entertain by structuring the story like a movie. Shorter clips are used, not necessarily in chronological order. A combination of shorter clips, music, high-quality audio, and camera movements are artistically used to engage the viewer and to entertain.”

 

What is a highlight reel?

 

“A highlight reel simply is a short video of the best parts of the day,” says Romero. “Often times, the key traditional moments of the day are put in the highlight reel: walk down the aisle, the kiss, the vows. Personally, we like to take whichever clips are most epic, cinematic, whatever footage looks the best, and combine that with the best audio we captured. For those three to five minutes that we have your attention, we want to blow your mind. The best way for us to do that is to combine the best shots of the day with the highest quality, personal audio.”

 

Have you decided on investing in video for your wedding day? What made you decide to do so? On the flip side, are you not investing in video? What made you decide not to?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

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Expert Ideas For Creative And Unique Wedding Photos

Today’s author is Kathryn Cooper of Kathryn Cooper Weddings

 

Whether you’ve paged through wedding magazines or avoided wedding photography research until this very moment, you’ve probably seen hundreds of wedding photos throughout your lifetime.

 

When planning your wedding or just scrolling around on Facebook, it’s impossible to avoid seeing your friends’ celebratory photos nearly every weekend. Have you noticed anything in common? Oh, they’re all pretty much the same? I hear you.

 

As a creative photojournalist, one characteristic of my photography is that I always try to do something creative, unique, or fun to make sure your photos don’t look like the cookie-cutter images swimming around online. So if you’re looking for a way to get extra-memorable images (or video!) that stand out from the rest, I have quite a few ideas up my sleeve!

 

 

First, you don’t have to know what you want, but you have make sure your photographer/videographer is the kind of person who has creative experience and wants to do such a thing! If the person has a ho-hum portfolio, chances are that person won’t have spectacularly creative ideas. I make sure the first few images my clients see when visiting my site demonstrate my adventuresome and creative style, so I have a duo emerging from their helicopter ride, a bride and groom upside-down in a room (well…you’ll just have to see it to understand it!), brides from other countries, and couples underwater. People understand that I’m not average right away!

 

Second, you need to have a bit of time in your schedule for a creative photo or video shoot. Now, if you want something creative but don’t have the time or budget for such a thing, a truly creative photographer or videographer can still do a lot with a little.

 

Again, looking carefully at their portfolios will reveal a lot. There are always unique perspectives, themes, and distinct personalities that the best of the best can show—while still focusing on you, of course! But…if you have time, consider putting aside several hours or even part of a day to go do a pre- or post-wedding shoot.

 

RELATED: HIRING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER? 6 RED FLAGS YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF

 

Creative engagement shoots and elopements are awesome as well! I absolutely love when I have a separate session with my clients, because I can take them to amazing places for amazing shots. I love when couples are adventuresome and just trust me to do a fun experiment or take them somewhere amazing! I’ve taken couples to other countries, gone on ski lifts with clients, and hung out on boats while groomsmen waterskied. Seriously!

 

Third, here are a bunch of ideas (finally, I know!) I’ve done or want to do—and I have plenty more ideas up my sleeve. Creative ideas for wedding photography and videography include:

 

· Completing a high ropes course, going zip lining, or doing a trapeze workshop: How awesome would it be to have wedding photos of you two flying through the air?

 

· Paint splatters: This is a great one if you have kids, would like to involve your family, or just want to have fun making a mess. You can use regular paint, paint-filled balloons, or even Holi powder to throw color on each other. The action shots alone are so much fun, and the final result is a mess of color that’s hard to forget.

 

· On or near a mountain: Amazing backdrops in the morning or evening make for beautiful images, and can be done almost anywhere in the world. Well…maybe not in Nebraska.

 

· With glow sticks or flashlights at night: Photographers can do fun long exposures that allow you to “write” in the sky or make cool, one-of-a-kind patterns swirling around you.

 

· In a helicopter or on a small plane: You don’t have to go skydiving, but if you do, could you take me with you? But really, going on a private helicopter ride, getting video and photos from a small plane, or flying to a secluded island is as awesome as it sounds.

 

· At a carnival: Why not have a shoot at a local fair or amusement park? You can get GoPro footage on a roller coaster, have a unique ceremony on a Ferris wheel (imagine the views!), or do a super fun shoot on bumper cars while enjoying fried dough and more.

 

· In a bubble: I’ve photographed couples behind, in front of, and nearly in giant bubbles, and it can be quite romantic and easy. This is a great idea if you only have 5 minutes for something creative.

 

· At a pet shelter. For animal lovers, it’s hard to beat time in a puppy playroom. You won’t have fake smiles with all those little guys begging for affection! Plus, there will be a lot of oohing and ahhing over your photos, and you’ll probably end up with a new fur family member.

 

· Nighttime in the desert: Even if you don’t have a desert nearby, you can still find a clear night to do some amazing silhouette or flash shots with stars in the background. With neat desert tree shapes like those found in Joshua Tree National Park, you can get incredible shapes and unique images while exploring a beautiful place.

 

RELATED: WHY DOES WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY COST SO MUCH (AND WHAT DO I GET FOR MY MONEY)?

 

As you can see, the opportunities for making exceptionally creative photos are nearly limitless. The truth is, even with very little time, a great photographer or videographer can make something amazing out of little—as long as you give that person the creative freedom with which to do so. A gust of wind in a veil can make for a beautiful image, and a couple jumping into the ocean or kissing underwater makes for super fun, creative photos.

 

Everyone out there has seen enough regular kisses and snuggles on a bench, so when you’re looking to do something different, brainstorm with a great photographer or videographer to make it happen! I can pretty much guarantee you one thing: You won’t be disappointed.

 

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post. Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions. 


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What Is A Bridechilla And Are You One?

You all are familiar with the term “Bride-Zill-A”, but have you ever hear of a “Bride-Chill-A”? Maybe you have but just aren’t really sure what it means. Well, think of a “’Chilla” as the complete opposite of a “’Zilla”.
 

A “’Zilla” is everything you would imagine. A mean, overly stressed, micromanaging, yelling and screaming mess. She is very concerned with the day defining who she is. The sad part is that many times, “’Zilla’s” are a product of the situation brides are put in. They expect perfection, and why not? It’s their wedding day. However, the constant need for perfection is unrealistic and can really lead to a ton of increased stress. With increased stress, comes increased tension, and with increased tension comes snippy, on edge attitudes.
 

A “’Chilla”, on the other hand is really laid back. I mean REALLY laid back. So laid back that she really hasn’t done much in the way of planning any details because they are relying on their wedding vendors to take care of most everything. They know and trust that everything will work out.
 

Just like “’Zilla’s”, “’Chilla’s” sometimes are created because of many outside factors. Perhaps the bride works long hours and is just not into planning. Perhaps she doesn’t necessarily want to hire a planner, nor does she really worry about too many details because she sometimes sees the bigger picture and is just not focused on one day. Maybe she’s been in a long-term relationship and considers herself “married” already, so a wedding may just be a “formality”. Whatever the case, they are go-with-the-flow.
 

However, the downside to being a “Bride-Chill-A” is that being too laid back can be just as bad as being too micromanaging. Being too laid back actually creates more stress. Not necessarily for the bride, but for those around her. The bridal party, friends, family and vendors all need some sort of direction. They are there to help you, but unless they know what you want, they can’t do much.
 

Ideally, you want to be somewhere right in the middle…not too micromanaging and not too laid back. To find out what kind of bride you are, take this fun little quiz and let us know what answer you got!
 

Featured Photo Credit: The Ramsdens
 

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The Best Freebies and Discounts For Your Wedding Day

Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you are planning a wedding, you know just how expensive it can be, and to get anything for free not only helps your wallet and your budget, but also helps to lower your stress level. Getting something for free (or discounted) means it’s one less thing you have to worry about, and who doesn’t want that? You have enough to deal with.

 

During each stage of your wedding planning, there are free or discounted things you can get, from fun to functional, and so to make it easy for you, I’ve broken them down into different categories:

 

Registry

 

If you are a couple who plans to register for gifts, it can be a daunting experience especially if you need everything from a can opener to a couch. There are, though, perks to registering that will make it easier for you and your guests:

 

  • When you sign up for a wedding registry, each store will give you a list of the most commonly needed gifts a newlywed couple should register for — everything from pots and pans, to bedding, to china — and you can use that checklist to create a perfect wedding registry.
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  • After your wedding, most stores will give you a discount on any item you purchase off your registry, that wasn’t purchased as a gift, up to a year after your wedding.
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  • Some stores may offer you free gifts just for signing up for a registry and may even give you a gift once a group of items, such as a full setting of china, or a full collection of pots and pans, is purchased.
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  • Your guests may also get discounts or free gifts if they purchase over a certain dollar amount.
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    RELATED: 7 PRACTICAL WAYS TO CREATE YOUR AWESOME WEDDING REGISTRY

     

    Showers, Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, Engagement Parties, Rehearsal Dinner

     

    Part of the wedding planning fun is the events leading up the wedding such as bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, engagement parties and rehearsal dinners. What makes them fun are the games guests play, and the food, but when the people planning these parties are usually in your bridal party, or your parents, they may not have a lot to spend on anything too fancy. But fancy doesn’t always mean better. Here are some great tips for awesome party games and discounts:

     

  • If you do a quick Google search, you can find websites with amazing FREE downloadable game ideas or templates, that all you need is a printer to make.
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  • If you are having a party at a restaurant, ask if they have special rates for parties, or set menus for parties that may bring the cost down.
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  • If the restaurant doesn’t offer any of that and the guests are left ordering off the main menu, ask the restaurant if you can limit the menu by choosing three or four items off that menu, and printing your own menus, this way guests can still get the great food, but you aren’t left covering a bill with 20 guests ordering the lobster or filet mignon.
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    Wedding Planning

     

    It’s impossible to plan a normal day, much less your wedding, without a to-do list or a checklist to make sure you are getting everything you need to get done, done. Here are some tips to help you get through your planning checklist, including checklists themselves:

     

  • Wedding websites are a great way to inform guests about any wedding information you have to share. I highly recommend making one for your wedding, but make sure that you get one that is free AND password protected.
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  • Planning checklists are a must! There are books you can purchase that help you plan every aspect of your day with timelines as to when to get them done, such as sending out invites. However, most bridal magazines will provide these checklists in the back of their publication for FREE. Yes, you still have to pay for the magazine, but a few dollars on a magazine is better than $20 or more on a book or binder. In addition, your wedding venue can provide you with one as well.
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  • If you are crafty and are looking to print your own invitations or anything else that is going to need fonts you can’t find in your standard word processing software, you can find free fonts that you can download that meet the aesthetic you are looking for.
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    RELATED: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING COUPLES OVERLOOK AT WEDDING EXPOS?

     

    Venue Freebies

     

    Your wedding venue is so much more than a place to hold your wedding ceremony or reception, they are an invaluable resource for tons of wedding freebies:

    Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


     

  • When you send out your invitations, your guests need directions on how to get there. While most people just need an address to plug into a GPS, some people may not have a GPS. There’s no need for you to drive the course or figure it out yourself because your venue can provide direction cards for you. You just tell them how many invites you are sending out and they’ll provide you with however many cards you need.
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  • Another thing your venue can provide you with is a seating chart template that you can use to plan your venue space. Write everything out in pencil so that you can change things around or make a bunch of photocopies so that you can make changes…and believe me, there will be changes!
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  • I’m sure you’ve seen really interesting and very personalized escort card for guests on Pinterest, but what you have to remember is that you either have to buy them or spend time making them. What you may not realize is that your venue can provide them form you. If you don’t really care how fancy they are, you can get them for free and all you would need to do is write or print names and table numbers on them.
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  • In addition to escort cards, your venue will also provide you with table numbers, so you don’t need to worry about them at all, unless you want something really personalized
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    Day of Freebies

     

    On your wedding day, you still need one more checklist, and that has everything you need to bring with you on the day of your wedding and your wedding night. There’s more to bring than you think. You can download your free wedding day packing checklist here

     

     
     
     
     

    Miscellaneous Fun Free Stuff

     

    If you are a lover of pop culture and the celebrity scene, you can send extra wedding invitations to your favorite celebrities. Believe it or not, doing this is actually a “thing” and many people love to do this because of the cool keepsakes they get in return. The most popular places to send wedding invitations to are the White House and to specific Disney characters. You can get a special greeting with stamped autographs of the First Family when you send an invite to the White House and from Disney, you can address your invite to your favorite Disney character and get specially signed postcards or trinkets from them. Everyone knows the address for the White House, but if you want to try sending an invite to any character at Disney, the address is Walt Disney World Communications P.O. Box 10040 Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

     

    What free stuff or discounts have you received so far during your wedding planning?

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    What is a Bustle and Why Do You Need One?

    If your dream wedding dress comes with a train of any length, you need to do something with that train after the ceremony so that you (or anyone else) don’t step on it during your reception. The most common way to do that is with a bustle. A bustle ties up your train bringing it up so that the hem in the back matches the hem in the front and gets it out of the way for ease and comfort.
     

    In order to bustle your train, your gown will need to have buttons and hooks attached to it during the alterations process. This is something you want to make sure is done properly and securely, otherwise your train will fall while you are dancing. How do I know that will happen? Because it happened to me. Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing at your reception is stopping every two seconds so someone can rehook it.
     

    We spoke to Tina Pomarico, owner of Lady Gray Bridal in Beacon, who teaches you everything you need to know about the bustle on your dress and how to hook it.
     


     

    Where do the buttons and loops get attached?

     

    There are really two main types of bustles: a French Bustle and Traditional Bustle. With either, the buttons are sewn onto the back of the dress and the loops are sewn onto the train of the dress. The difference is that French Bustle buttons and loops are sewn on the inside, while Traditional Bustle buttons and loops are sewn on the outside. Each bustle gives the gown a very different look. With Traditional Bustles, Pomarico says, “When I’m bustling a gown, I try to make the bustles (loops and buttons) as discrete as possible because they’re laying on the train, and while it’s open and down, you really don’t want to see them, you just want them to blend into the gown.”
     

    How many buttons and loops does it take to bustle my gown?

     

    It really depends on the length of the train and the weight of the fabric. Pomarico says two or three is the norm, but sometimes as many as five or more.
     

    RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY BRIDAL GOWN

     

    How do I know my bustle is secure?

     

    Soutache Loops Photo Credit: WCHV

    A secure bustle boils down to three things: the type of button, the type of loop, and the number of loops. “When I do my bustles,” says Pomarico, “I do them with a Soutache Loop (a narrow, flat, braided loop). It has no stretch to it, it really does hold and I always give my girls extra bustles (loops) because if it breaks from someone stepping on it, I don’t want them then to have to safety pin it up, so I’m always giving them extra.” These loops are also designed in a way where if someone does step on your gown and pull the train, the loop will break without ripping your gown. That’s why it’s always good to have multiple attachment points and multiple loops at each point, so you can easily fix it.
     

    You also want to make sure that the buttons are strong ones with metal backs, called Hopper Backs, so that they can hold the weight of the train without breaking or ripping your dress.
     

    If you still aren’t convinced, try jumping around in your dress for a few minutes. If the train stays put, you’re good to go.
     

    RELATED: WHO SHOULD HELP YOU SAY YES TO YOUR WEDDING DRESS

     

    How do I choose the right bustle?

     

    The main thing with bustles is that you need to choose the one that complements the line and silhouette of your dress. You never want to break that line. When the bustle is up, your dress should look like it never had a train to begin with. Your seamstress or shop consultant should be able to determine what’s best, or at least have you see it both ways so that you can determine what you like best.
     

    How do I bustle my train the day of the wedding?

     

    The first thing to remember is to never start with the top middle button. “What’ll happen is if you do that it starts taking these folds and you kind of lose your way, and you can’t really find them (the loops). It’s much easier to bustle from the outside in,” says Pomarico. Plus, she says, “The center bustle carries most of the weight on any gown.
     

    “When we start our bustles,” she adds, “start with the furthest one (button) out, and where there’s one on one side, there’s one directly across on the other so that it’s even.” Starting with the outer buttons also helps distribute the weight equally on the sides so it lays beautifully.
     

    The best way to do this is to have two people help, so that they are pulling up the train at the same time. When you go in for your final fitting, your consultant will walk you, and whoever else is with you, through the process.
     

    Featured Photo Credit: Wedding Connections of the Hudson Valley

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    Wedding Reception Trends You Need to Know About

    I may be really dating myself here, but I remember attending weddings back in the day when the Electric Slide, Conga lines, and the Chicken Dance were the hits of the night. Everyone looked forward to those group dances. Didn’t you?
     

    I also remember being dragged out onto the dance floor, despite not wanting to be there, for the bouquet toss, then stealthfully hiding in the back and slinking away so I was nowhere near that thing when it landed.
     

    More recently, though, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a group dance at a wedding, and I think it was 2009 when I last saw the bouquet and garter toss thrown. This made me curious: Is this just coincidence or is this a trend? What other traditional elements of the receptions are staying or are seeing a decline? So, I decided to ask Hudson Valley DJs what trends they’ve been seeing. You might be surprised by the answer:

     
    RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE COUPLES MAKE WHEN HIRING THEIR DJ

     

    Group Dances
     

    It’s unanimous with all DJs we spoke to: Group dances are almost dead. Some couples do the Cupid Shuffle, as that’s a newer song; but the Electric Slide, Conga lines, the Macarena, the Chicken Dance – all that. Gone. So, if you didn’t want one, but were thinking that you needed to include one of those dances at your wedding, you don’t. Unless you REALLY want to have one.
     

    Bouquet and Garter Toss
     

    This, by far, is the fastest-disappearing trend. I didn’t do it and actually felt enormous guilt not doing it, because it’s tradition. It’s not a wedding without it, right? But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t find any justifiable reason to do it. I knew I would feel very uncomfortable with my husband putting his hands up my dress in front of our family and friends, plus, we had maybe five single friends at our wedding which would have made it really weird.
     

    David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, gives a little history on this tradition, as it was originally just the bouquet toss, but then the garter toss was added so that both the bride and groom had something to do. Today, he says, the bouquet and garter toss are rarely done. “I offer options,” says Fischer. “If you only want to toss the bouquet, you don’t have to throw the garter.”
     

    Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls also says more commonly, just the bouquet is tossed, but he tells couples, “If you feel that you don’t have many single people, don’t do it,” explaining it can become embarrassing when you get only two or three people. “If it’s going to be awkward, don’t do it” he says, which is exactly what we did. Just scrap it!
     

    Donnie Lewis, owner of Your Event Matters and Illuminate Event Lighting in Hopewell Junction, says, “That (the bouquet and garter toss) tends to be a nightmare, trying to get people to come out on the dance floor and participate in it because they just don’t want to.”
     

    Plus, it takes away from dance time, and Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz, says couples want fewer interruptions in the night and more time to dance and party.
     
    RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ FOR YOUR WEDDING IS A BAD IDEA

     

    Other trends that may be fading

    Lewis says the traditional cake cutting may be the next trend to fade away. “I think the cake cutting is making it’s way out,” he said. “We’ve had more and more couples decide not to stop the party to do the cake cutting.” That doesn’t mean it going away completely. Lewis says “I’ll advise them to come in during the cocktail hour and do a mock cake cutting, so at least they’ll have a picture.” Cake will still be served after dinner, but by cutting it early, they don’t have to disrupt the party and cause a break in the action.
     

    New Trends
     

    Anniversary Dance –
     

    One of the biggest newest trends is something called the Anniversary Dance. This dance, which has several variations, is basically a way to acknowledge those invited guests who are married, especially those who have been married a long time, and celebrating the one couple that’s been married the longest.
     

    Fischer says one variation is the elimination process. “You invite married couples up,” he says, “and begin eliminating them based on how long they’ve been married — one year, five years, 10 years, 15 years,” then the couple still left standing gets a gift and recognition from all your guests. “So now, not only did you honor that couple that’s been married 30, 40, 50 years, which is awesome,” he says, “you honored all the married couples that got up.”
     

    A variation he’s seen includes a bride and groom writing down the names of the single men and women in attendance on a piece of masking tape and sticking the tape to the bottom of their shoe. The bride writes the women’s names; the groom writes the men’s names. At a certain point at the reception, whoever’s name is still pronounced and legible gets a bouquet.
     

    Lewis has a different approach. He asks everybody to make a big circle and asks the crowd who’s married. Once the couple who’s been married the longest has been identified, they then dance together in the middle of the circle of guests, in front of their closest family and friends, recreating their first dance. He says it’s usually always a tear-jerking moment. During part of the song, he has the bride and groom join in to recognize the oldest and newest married couples, then has all the married couples join them.
     

    Bridal Party Introductions –
     

    Two interesting trends have been happening with this. Lewis has seen bridal party introductions becoming less of a “thing” because couples are focusing on themselves as a couple, realizing the five minutes it takes to introduce the bridal party could mean an extra song or two could be played.
     

    On the other hand, Garcia says introductions are getting more personalized. “Introductions are huge,” he says. “I always tell people that (the introductions) sets the tone for the party. You want fun, upbeat high energy music. I’m getting more where they tailor the music to the people coming in where they do a song for every couple.”
     

    What dance trends are you doing or not doing at your wedding? Is there a trend you miss? What traditions are you skipping? What new ones are you creating just for your special day? We’d love to know.

     

    Featured Image Photo Credit: Jade DJ Entertainment

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    Summer Weddings: What You Need to Know to Stay Cool and Stylish

    While summer may not officially be here yet, we’d be kidding ourselves if we said we weren’t already in summer mode. That means vacations, beach days, barbecuing by the pool, and weddings … lots and lots of weddings. If you are getting married in the summer or are attending a summer wedding, here are some tips for you to stay cool and stylish.

     


     

    Summer has always been a popular season to get married, as you might have discovered when you were doing your planning. Who wouldn’t want to get married in the summer — fresh air, bright sunshine, longer days (though my husband would say the day isn’t longer, there are just more hours of daylight)? You also have more options of where you can get married: inside, outside, maybe even on a beach. However, summer also means heat, so here are some ideas to help you with your wardrobe decisions to keep you cool.

     

    Brides

     

    Think about the location of where you are getting married. If you are getting married outside, you might want to opt for a looser, more free-flowing gown made of silk organza chiffon or tulle (though, too much tulle can make you hot) to keep you cool. If most of your day will be spent inside with just photos outside, you could opt for something a little more formal and structured. Just make sure you use a makeup setter to keep your makeup from dripping, keep tissues on you to blot the sweat, and carry a fan to keep cool between shots.

     

    While sleeves are a big trend, opt for something sleeveless or strapless, but don’t forget your sunblock. You don’t want to burn up in the summer sun. If you like the look of sleeves, but are afraid of getting too hot, see if your dress can be ordered with removable sleeves or a removable bolero that hides a sleeveless gown underneath

     

    Grooms

     

    Well, guys, unless you and your fiancé are having an informal dress code, you will be in a suit or a tux. Tux material, which is usually polyester, is very hot and heavy, so you may want to opt for a nice suit instead, which gives you more options in terms of fabric and colors. Again, it goes back to location of your wedding. If it’s outside, a suite may be best. Try to stick to lighter, softer colors like grey or beige. You might also want to consider a linen suite which is very breathable. The downside to linen, though, is it wrinkles … a lot! So, if you are doing your photos before the ceremony, that would be OK. Otherwise, prepare to have a steamer handy. If the wedding is indoors except for photos, then you could get away with wearing a tux. Again, just like for the brides, make sure you have tissues to blot the sweat and a fan to stay cool.

     

    Also keep in mind the same rules apply to your bridal party. They’re going to be in the same environment as you so the same tips need to be applied to their outfits as well.

     

     

    Before I get into the tips for what you should wear to a summer wedding, there are three things you must remember, no matter the time of year or location…

     

    RELATED: 5 SECRETS TO BEING AN AWESOME WEDDING GUEST

     

    Always adhere to the dress code

     

    If the dress code is Black Tie, that means you need an evening gown or a tux. If it’s a casual outdoor wedding and the dress code is jeans and country boots, you need be there in jeans and country boots. If there is no dress code, that means you need to dress like you would for a work event or business event. A nice dress that you wouldn’t mind your boss seeing you in and for guys, that means a suit. Why do I keep talking about work attire? See my next point…

     

    You are attending a wedding, not a club

     

    You know what I’m talking about: no club clothes! That means nothing too revealing, nothing too tight…like suck-it-in-tight-and-hope-the-zipper-doesn’t-break tight, and nothing shiny (like leather). Even if the affair is a very casual one, it is still a wedding and a sacred event. There will be clergy in attendance, there will be elders in attendance, there will be kids in attendance, and, you never know, your boss might be in attendance too if the couple invited coworkers. Why am I making such a fuss over club clothes? See my next point…

     

    You NEVER, I mean EVER want to upstage the bride!

     

    First and foremost, that means no all white dress (unless specified in the dress code). The bride is in white for many reasons, one of which is to make sure she stands out. Evening wear is usually on the darker side, and even when the lights dim in the reception venue and the dancing starts, you can still spot the bride in a large crowd because she’s in all white. If your outfit has some white in it, that’s fine, but all white is a big no-no. It also means no sequence (even if it’s black tie). All eyes should be on the bride, not you. The bride should be easy to find and the one person at the event that stands out the most.

     

    RELATED: 30 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY

     

    Other tips to consider:

     

    Garment fabric

     

    Ladies, take a cue from the bride. Guys, take a cue from the groom. The same fabrics that keep them cool will also keep you cool.

     

    Layer what you wear

     

    I know that sounds odd to say for summer, but temperatures are a funny thing. The bride and or the groom will be hot most of the day (no matter the season) because of all the activities they need to be a part of, but as a guest, you aren’t doing as much running around as they are. Bring a sweater if you will be in air conditioning. Sometimes the thermostat doesn’t want to cooperate, and if you’re like me and get cold easily, you want to cover up until you start dancing. Being too cold is just as uncomfortable as being too hot. Also, if you’re outside, it might get chilly at night, so the sleeves will keep the chill off. Plus, sleeves also help with mosquito bites and keeping those nasty bugs off your skin!

     

    Miscellaneous essentials for summer weddings

     

    Last but not least, don’t forget your sunblock, a fan, sunglasses, water, bug repellent, an umbrella if it’s going to rain, and high heel protectors so your heels don’t sink into the grass.
     

    What advice do you have for staying cool and stylish at a summer wedding?

     

    Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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    Traditions and ceremonies of a Hindu wedding

    I’ve attended many gorgeous weddings over the years, and no matter the location or the type of ceremony (non-denominational or not), what I love most about weddings is how each couple makes it their own and how you become part of such a sacred event. Whether it’s a simple ceremony or one full of cultural or religious traditions, no two weddings are ever the same.
     

    I have to admit weddings full of religious or cultural traditions hold a special place in my heart. The symbolism is so beautiful and you get to see, first-hand, centuries-old traditions come to life. It also gives you a chance to learn more about what makes the bride and groom so special. These traditions helped make them who they are, and it takes you into their world, if only for a brief moment.
     

    That’s why I was so excited when my best friend got married. Besides the fact I love her like a sister and was so happy she was going to be spending her life with the one who makes her truly happy, she was having a wedding unlike any I had ever been to before. Her wedding incorporated two ceremonies, one Hindu and one Christian. This was my first Hindu wedding, and I was thrilled to witness first-hand, the rich traditions of her culture.
     

    Photo Credit: Red Pepper Shots

    The only things I knew of Hindu ceremonies prior to the wedding was that they usually last a few days and are very ornate, colorful and full of blessings, traditions, and rituals that signify the sacredness of the marriage. I knew the groom usually enters the ceremony on a white horse, and I also knew as part of the ceremonial rituals take place prior to the wedding, the women received tattoos made from the Henna plant, called Mehndi, and the bride’s Mehndi takes hours of precise designing covering her arms and feet.

     

    While my friend’s wedding ceremony was an abbreviated version lasting only about 45 minutes, it contained 9 beautifully symbolic ceremonies I want to share with you, so you can see the differences, as well as the similarities in weddings that you might be familiar with and with those celebrated in other parts of the world.
     

    Jaimala

     

    The bride and groom exchange flower garlands which signify their acceptance of each other in marriage.
     

    Ganesh Puja

     

    This is an offering of prayer to the Lord Ganesh, who blesses the bride and groom. Ganesh is the Lord of beginnings and removes both material and spiritual obstacles.
     

    Kanyadan

     

    In this ceremony, the parents of the bride join the hands of the bride and groom, signifying the handing over of their daughter to the care, love, fidelity and security of the groom. This is similar to what you might be familiar with of the father of the bride (or significant family member if the father is not able to be there) giving the bride away.
     

    Gathbandhan

     

    A corner of the bride and groom’s garments are tied together symbolizing the bond of marriage.
     

    Photo Credit: Vijay Solanki

    Agni Pujan and Havan

     

    The ceremonial fire is set up by the priest, or Pundit. The fire is set up in a copper bowl called the Havan Kund and the fire symbolizes the illumination of the mind, knowledge, and happiness.
     

    Mangal Phera/Saptapadi

     

    Once the fire is lit, the bride and groom circle it seven times, with the priest bestowing blessings. The blessings are for eternal happiness and a healthy marriage, and as they circle the fire, the couple seeks four basic goals of life: Righteousness (Dharma), prosperity (Artha), pleasure (Kama), and salvation (Moksha). Each of the seven circles around the fire represents the vows the bride and groom make to one another. They are:

     

    • Promising to nourish each other physically, mentally, and spiritually
    • Promising to grow together in strength
    • Promising to preserve their wealth
    • Promising to share in their joys and sorrows
    • Promising to care for their future children
    • Promising to be together forever
    • Promising to be lifelong best friends

     

    Sindoor

     

    The groom places red powder (Sindoor) on the forehead of the bride signifying she is now a married woman.
     

    Mithai

     

    Mithai are sweets. In this ceremony, the bride and groom feed each other Mithai as a symbol of sharing whatever they have together in life.
     

    Ashirvad

     

    The ceremony has come to an end and the bride and groom bow to the Lord, the Pundit, their parents, and all the elders who offer blessings to the newly married couple.
     

    Can you see how, while different, many of the ceremonies are very similar to what you might be familiar with?
     

    We’d love to know what kind of cultural or religious wedding ceremonies you’ve attended. What similarities or difference did see? What were they like?
     

    Featured Photo: the Mandap, or canopy, where the ceremony takes place. Photo credit WCHV

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    Featured Couple: Kristen & AJ

    Their Love Story…

     

    “We found love in a hopeless place … and, yes, that was the song that we walked into as we were introduced,” says Kristen. “That has been our ‘theme song’ since we started dating.  We used to work together at a bank … dating someone you were working with was frowned upon!  So needless to say we kept it a secret for a long time … to the point when people ask us how long we have been together we really don’t have a solid answer.” Hiding their relationship was no easy feat because even out in public, Kristen was afraid someone from work would see them.

     

    “AJ eventually switched locations and we were no longer at the same branch … so one night when we were out, we texted our boss and came clean! Felt so much better!” Soon after they came clean to their boss, AJ surprised Kristen with Broadway tickets to see Mary Poppins, which was Kristen’s favorite movie as a kid. “That’s when he made it official that we were dating, so if we need a date that we started dating we use January 28, 2012!  We were honestly friends first … and the rest is history! We wouldn’t change a thing!”

     

    The Proposal…

     

    Photo from bride’s personal collection

    “His proposal was perfect!” says Kristen. “It was our official 3-year dating anniversary.  AJ got up in the morning before me and had breakfast on the table with flowers by the time I got up. We ate breakfast, got ready and both headed to work.  It was a normal day.” The day progressed as usual — a trip home during lunch to grab her food and walk their dog, Tex. Toward the end of the day, AJ started texting Kristen wanting to know when she was coming home. She texted him and when she got home and was in for quite a surprise.

     

    “I opened the screen door to the house to a Post-It above the lock, with the following: ‘Hey, baby! Welcome home … may want to have your camera out … card first … Tex is fine (upstairs) … Happy Anniversary!!!’ ” When Kristen opened the door, she found flowers on the table, presents next to the flowers, rose petals and candles everywhere, and ‘We Found Love’ playing in the background.”

     

    “There were more instructions in the card in regards to the presents.  I decided to skip the presents and go find him. … Our bedroom door was closed with rose petals leading to it, the word ‘Love’ spelled out on the door, and I finally picked up on what was happening!” says Kristen. “I opened our bedroom door to more candles and petals, and there he was.  He started to talk to me. … I started to cry but held it together!  He got down on one knee, opened the box, I lost my breath, and he said those four words every girl wants to hear.  And bam, we were engaged.”

     

    Wedding Theme…

     

    Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

    “Our theme was all about us!” says Kristen. “I love the bling, but it was a simple, elegant bling.  Everything that we had that night in the Grandview had a meaning behind it!” For example, each table centerpiece had three vases on them which has significant meaning. “The most important part of that is that there were three on every table, three for love!  It was always something my grandparents and parents always said to each other and to us, and it was something we wanted to incorporate into our special day.”

     

    Why the Hudson Valley?

     

    Kristen says “Hudson Valley is home … and we simply fell in love with the Grandview. Couples panic about their venue; I panicked because we only looked at one! They had and offered everything we wanted — perfect venue, Shadows next door for the after party, hotel rooms for all of our 246 guests with transportation … it was honestly perfect for us!”

     

    Most Memorable Moment…

     

    Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

    “Honestly, if you asked us separately, at different times, we would both say the same thing: the first time we saw each other!” says Kristen. “He (AJ) was up at the altar, and I was walking down the aisle with my parents. …  I swore I wouldn’t cry, and I didn’t, I was just smiling from ear to ear.  My smile couldn’t get any bigger when I looked at him, and then I saw his lip quiver.  I looked away from him for a second to kind of regroup and the next person I made eye contact with was my Aunt Pat, who by the way was hysterically crying! I remember laughing in my head!  Everyone tells me that they were all looking at AJ when I walked down the isle and that makes me happy because his reaction was by far the best ever.  I’m proud of him for not crying but he will always tell me ‘You cut me deep, babe!'”

     

    Hudson Valley Vendors…

     

    Venue – The Grandview (Poughkeepsie)

    Photographer – Majestic Studios (Hopewell Junction)

    Florist – Annex Florist (Pawling)

    DJ – Jimmy Dee Music Productions (Briarcliff Manor)
     

    Photo credit to all: Majestic Studios (click photo for larger view)

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    5 secrets to being an awesome wedding guest

    Being a guest at a wedding is not as easy as you think. Being an awesome wedding guest is even harder.

     

    You may think that as a guest, all you need to do is just show up with a nice gift, sit quietly, eat your meal and dance. But so much more goes into being a great wedding guest. The couple put in a lot of time and effort in making sure their wedding makes everyone happy. It’s easy, as a guest, to forget that; it wasn’t until I got married that I really understood exactly what goes into making an amazing day. Based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced over the years at weddings I’ve attended, I believe If you really want to impress the newlyweds, there are 5 secrets you should know:

     

    Secret 1: Be respectful of photographer and videographer space

     

    We all love to take photos and videos at weddings for our own keepsakes, and some of you may be excellent photographers, but the couple didn’t hire you to take their photos or videos of their wedding. They hired – and made a big investment in hiring – professionals to do that for them. Does that mean you can’t take photos and videos at weddings? Of course not. What it means, though, is making sure you do not get in the way of the professionals who are there to do their job. So, no standing in the aisles, no cramming to get up front for a view of the cake cutting, no standing in the way of the first dance, etc. It’s all about just being mindful of your space and who’s around you. This also means not getting in the way of other guests who want the same photos. Remember, the couple will more than likely share photos with you once they get them back, so take photos with the understanding that you might not get the picture perfect shot; the professional will.

     

    Secret 2: Share your photos with the couple

     

    Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

    As mentioned, taking photos at a wedding is encouraged, as long as you don’t interfere with the pros. That being said, couples won’t get their professional photos for some time after their wedding day. So, even if you don’t get the perfect shot, share them with the couple. Trust me, they are going to be really eager to see what the day looked like from a different perspective. Even though we knew our professional photographer was doing an awesome job, we wanted as many photos as we could get from that day because – guess what? – our photographer couldn’t capture every moment because, well, he was photographing us. Couples want to see what was going on while they were being photographed. Don’t worry if they came out too dark or were blurry or you only took a few. Don’t think your photos aren’t ‘good enough,’ because they are. Any moment captured that the couple might have missed is awesome and very much appreciated.

     

    Secret 3: Do not post photos, stories, or videos of a wedding you attend on social media without the couple’s permission

     

    Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

    I just explained why sharing your photos is a good thing, but they need to be shared privately. It’s easy, in this day in age, to assume everyone is on social media and everyone is comfortable with it. That is not always the case. Even if the couple is on Facebook and other social media, a wedding is a very personal and private, invitation-only event. A couple may not want videos of a teary speech or a silly dance, or them reciting their vows being shared or be tagged in any photos (even if you can limit the privacy settings). In some cases, couples who are comfortable with you sharing photos will generate a hashtag for you to use when posting on social media. That allows the couple to literally search that hashtag along every platform and be able to find every photo guests posted. However, if you don’t see a hashtag listed on the invitation or at the wedding itself, do not share the photos online without getting their permission. Instead, send them your photos personally, either hard copy or via email. You can’t assume it’s OK to share on social media just because everyone does it.

     

    Secret 4: Send the hosts a thank you

     

    I know that sounds kind of weird, right, because the couple should be sending you a

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    thank you for coming and for your gift. But, when you think about all the time, money and effort they spent to make sure everyone had a good time, it’s nice to reciprocate and tell them how much you enjoyed being there. I’m kind of old-school and still think a personal, hand-written note is nice, but an e-mail would be just as good. Along with a thank you, send congratulations along with some memories of the day.  For couples who are especially sentimental, like we were, how awesome do you think it would be for a couple to receive a message full of memories and/or photos of that day? You can say something like “I don’t know if you know this, but during cocktail hour we were talking to (fill in the blank) and we were discussing how (fill in the blank).” Couples could miss these little stories because they are busy doing their own thing, but they’re items to cherish! I know I couldn’t get enough of our guests’ stories.

     

    Secret 5: Save mementos

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    Couples, whether they had a professional create them or they did they themselves, spent a lot of time and money deciding what kinds of invitations, programs, menus, favors, and other various props to have at their ceremony and reception. So, grab an extra program or two, save an extra menu, or any other trinket given to you at the wedding. A couple might have saved extras already, but being able to provide those to the couple, just in case, is heartwarming. Let them know you saved a couple of extra for them in case they wanted to keep them.

     

    What have you done as a wedding guest that you thought the couple might like? Couples, what would you want your guests to do? We’d love to hear your ideas.

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    6 easy ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo

    Thank you for joining us in this last of a three-part series

     

    What do stickers have to do with not feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo? You’ll have to read on to find out. But first, let’s take a look back.

     

    If you’ve been following this series, you’ll remember I shared with you I felt very overwhelmed at the first Wedding Expo I attended. It was nobody’s fault but my own because I didn’t do research or come with a plan. I was very unprepared.

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    I also mentioned Wedding Expos in the Hudson Valley come fast and furious. Starting at the beginning of January, and for the next few months after, there seems to be one or more every weekend. That’s a good thing, but having so many to choose from can be overwhelming in its own right. How do you choose which ones to go? When should you start going to shows?

     

    There really is no simple answer, and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s really up to you. Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview explains, “Some (couples) feel really comfortable getting things out of the way and check off a list, some feel like they want to enjoy engagement and then look for vendor.” Paul Porco, manager at Villa Borghese Caterers, says he’s even seen couples go that aren’t even engaged yet!

     

    So, regardless of when you go or how many shows you go to, there are six things you can do to make sure you have an awesome experience that leaves you wanting to go back for more:

     

    COME PREPARED WITH A PLAN

     

    “It is really important to come with a plan,” Brower says. “What do you want to get from the show? Are you going to … start your wedding planning with something that is exciting? … Or maybe you’re going for information and making that particular show just a source of gathering different vendors booklets and cards. … Sometimes you go to a show and it’s like, ‘OK, we have three months until the wedding; we have to find a florist.’ ” Knowing your plan and what you expect to get out of the show is going to elevate a lot of stress. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9, says, “Your first show is probably going to be gathering the experience of the show itself and taking information, as well as packages and pamphlets. Then when you go home, you’ll be able to sort through a little bit of the information.” You need to set your plan and expectation and know why you are going first. What do you want to gain from it?

     

    Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

    I had the opportunity to speak to two lovely couples a few weeks back at the Villa Borghese show, each were there for a different reason. Kim and Andrew from Mahopac are getting married in the summer of 2018, and this was their first show. While Kim had been to other shows in her role as bridesmaid, this was her first as a bride-to-be. They didn’t really have any details planned and were just going to see what’s out there and to get a feel for locations; if you haven’t had a chance to read my posting on using a wedding expo to look at venues, you can check it out here.

     

    Mary and Chris from Hyde Park, on the other hand, were at the show for a very specific reason: They have been engaged for a year-and-a-half and are really at the end of their wedding planning process as they are getting married in June of this year. They were there specifically to look for a transportation company and tuxedos. Chris’s advice for couples is to try to get as much done early on and stick with your budget. He says it can get overwhelming at times, but you need to go with an open mind, and just get information the first time going. He says it’s important for grooms to go, too, as it helps to ease the stress of just one person going.

     

    DON’T RUSH

     

    Porco says one of the best ways not to get overwhelmed is by not rushing. “Try not to rush into things,” he says. “View your options as far as your different vendors, different DJs, photographers, you know, go with a company that has been established for a while.” We’ll discuss this more in a future post. Remember, your wedding is not tomorrow (hopefully), so you do have some time to make an educated decision of who you want to hire. Also, take your time at the show, relax, grab a bite to eat, have a drink. Enjoy the show for what it is and take your time with each vendor so you can really express what your vision is to them. Don’t just make it a “How much do you charge?” conversation. More on that to come, too.

     

    BRING STICKERS

     

    Photo Credit: HCHV

    I told you stickers played a major role! When you go to a show, you are given a bag at registration to hold all your loot during the day. It quickly gets filled with cards and brochures from all the professionals you speak to. Then you go home and are left with a bag of paper, and you need to remember who you spoke to, who you want to follow-up with; it can get pretty complicated if you don’t have a system. Brower says, “I always tell my couples to bring stickers, walk into the show, and if you like a vendor after talking to them, put a sticker on the back of their card…because once you put it (the card) in your bag, it gets jumbled with everyone else…so just simply putting a sticker on the back of their business card or on their pamphlet denotes this is someone we want to revisit, so you can automatically sort the people you are interested in and the people that you aren’t.”

     

    She also suggests you bring another type of sticker, this time with your contact information on it “If any of the booths have raffles, it’s a time saver. You can just put your label on any of the raffle items and keep moving throughout the show.”

     

    CREATE AN EMAIL

     

    Have you ever overlooked an important email because your inbox is full of junk and spam, and it got lost in the shuffle? Brower says, “The first piece of advice I give wedding couples when they come into the office is to make a wedding email address.” You are going to need to give it at registration, and it allows you to keep all wedding-related emails together in one place throughout your planning process. Plus, both of you will have the address and password, so you each can check it throughout the day, keeping in the loop.

     

     

    KEEP AN OPEN MIND

     

    Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

    Wedding expos can have anywhere from a few professionals to upwards of 100 or more, so you need to keep an open mind. Know that the Hudson Valley is full of wedding professionals, and they don’t all necessarily attend shows. Also, if you’ve done your research already and absolutely fell in love with an expert’s services and then see them at a show to discover one of two things: Either your date is booked or you are not meshing well with them, you’ll need to keep looking; or if you are on a super-tight budget, see when vendors have a slow period. Booking in their off season may save you money in the long run.

     

     

    HAVE FUN

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    This could quite possibly be the most important thing to remember. Porco says overall, the goal of wedding shows is to provide you with resources to make your wedding go off without a hitch. But who says you can’t have fun in the process? Many shows will have food, drinks, contests, seminars, games, DJs playing great music and a wedding fashion show with models showcasing dresses and tuxedos. At the Villa Borghese, the staff gets in on the fun as they are the models for the show!

     

    Brower urges couples to keep it light when they go to show because it is very easy to have an anxiety-ridden experience. “Keep it light when you go to them,” she says. “This is part of the engagement and planning process, so make sure that it’s fun, because if you leave and you feel stressed, you missed it. It should be something wonderful to help you. These shows should be a tool for you and not to make you feel stressed out.” Mendillo agrees, as she tells every couple she knows who’s going to a show, “I want them to have fun.”

     

    At the end of the day, all the vendors and all the host venues are there to help you. Porco sums it up nicely by saying, “Our fortune is that you came to our bridal show, we made your life that much easier, and that much special for that particular day. That’s the most important thing.”

     

    What tips do you have for couples going to wedding expos? What piece of advice would you share?

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    7 Practical Ways to Create Your Awesome Wedding Registry

    Did you know the wedding registry, as we know it today, is a fairly “recent” tradition? It’s been said to have been started in 1924 by Macy’s department store. Can you believe it? However, even though a guest gift exchange is a fairly modern phenomenon, families have been exchanging gifts at weddings in the form of a dowry paid to the Bride’s family dating back to several centuries B.C.

     

    But enough of the history lesson for today. Wedding registries are still a hot commodity, even though they are taking on many different forms. This is because, in today’s world, couples are waiting longer to get married, and there is an increase in numbers of couples living together before marriage. Therefore, they are acquiring many of the items typically seen on a gift registry such as pots and pans, linens, and general household items long before they get engaged.

     

    Whether you need everything from a can opener to a couch, here are 7 practical ways to create the perfect registry that is right for you:

     

    Take a good look around your space.

     

    Look at what you have and what you need. If you are going to be moving in together after the wedding, you may need a lot of items. Combining possessions can be a fun, yet arduous task. Perhaps you have a set of pots and pans but need new ones. Maybe you’ve always wanted a fancy coffee maker. Are you getting a larger bed and need new sheets, or even something as basic as an iron and ironing board? Take a good look and start making a list.

     

    Make a list that has items at all various price points

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    You want to make sure your registry has items spanning a wide range of prices, from $1 wooden spoons to pricier items such linens, a vacuum, kitchenware, or china that could potentially cost well over $200. Why the price variation? Your guests are going to be coming from very different financial situations. Some guest may (and can afford to) splurge on the expensive china or kitchenware, while others may combine some of the smaller, less expensive items into a basket or give you some of those less expensive items with a gift not on your registry. (Yes, just because you have a registry, that doesn’t mean everyone will purchase from it).

     

    Always put more items on your list than what you think you need

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    There are a few reasons for this. One, like I mentioned before, some people may purchase a lot off your list at once, and you want to make sure that everyone who wants to get something off the registry can. Second, you aren’t going to get everything, but you want to make sure you don’t run out of items, either. You will, most likely, get gift cards to wherever you registered, so, if you do not end up getting that coffee maker or all the sets of china you registered for, you can go back and finish the list at a later date. Think of your registry as the ultimate Christmas or birthday wish list: There are going to be things on there you need, things you want; but you can also put “wish list” items on there, too. We never thought the really expensive items would be purchased from our list, but they were, to our great surprise.

     

    Register at more than one location

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    Just like you should have items in many different price ranges, you also want to make sure you register at more than one store. Why? You are not going to find everything at one store. Plus, not everyone lives next to a Crate and Barrel, or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Granted, with the Internet, it doesn’t really matter, but some people like to actually see what they are buying before they purchase it. Also, different stores have different price ranges. Some guests may just be able to afford items from the more affordable stores, while others can afford higher price points usually found at high-end niche stores.

     

    What if you don’t need or want any more “stuff?”

     

    If you and your fiancé really don’t need or want any materials items, you might want to consider a Honeymoon Fund or a Honeymoon Registry. A quick Google search will generate sites like these where you plug in where you are going, and they populate a list of things to see and do while you are there. For example, if you are going on a cruise, you might have a spa treatment or shore excursions on that list which people “purchase.” Basically, you are saying something to the effect of “$75 will allow us to get a spa treatment; $150 will allow us to go parasailing,” and so on. Your guests aren’t purchasing that item, per se, but rather just giving you enough money so you can do it.

     

    Make a charitable donation

     

    Again, if you really don’t want or need any more “stuff,” you can ask guests to make a gift to your favorite charity (or charities) instead of purchasing a gift for you. Perhaps there’s an animal shelter that’s near and dear to your heart or a medical facility that has personal meaning for you. Maybe it’s a community organization looking to raise enough funds to build a playground. Whatever the case, asking guests to make a charitable gift is a great alternative.

     

    What if you just want cash?

     

    This is a delicate subject. If you really just want cash, coming out and saying you just want money, is, well, rude. In my opinion, there are only two ways to give guests the hint that you don’t want gifts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll just get cash. One is to not have a wedding registry at all; the other is stating on the invitation “no gifts please.” Most guests will get it, but it won’t guarantee you’ll only get cash. You might still get gift cards, maybe small tokens. Maybe you won’t get anything at all if you say “no gifts.” However, there are polite ways to work around this delicate subject. I’ve known couples who live out of state who were flying in for their wedding, and because they couldn’t check or ship gifts back, they asked for “no boxed gifts, please.” You may still get people who take that literally and will put a gift in a bag instead, but most people will understand what you mean, especially if they know your travel circumstance.

     

    You might also tell your close family and bridal party to politely spread the word if anyone asks. If someone asks them what they think you’d like, they can say something like, “I know they haven’t registered for anything, so I’m just going to give them a check to add to their down payment on their house (or splurge on a nice meal on their honeymoon, or save it for a new car).” It’s a bit passive, but that will at least put the idea in the guests’ mind that money or a check may be the best option for a gift. Is it a sure-fire grantee? No, but it’s a start.

     

    Did you have a registry and how did you build it? Did you not want any gifts at your wedding? How did you handle that?

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