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Featured Couple: Dana & Martin

Their Love Story…

 

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

Dana, an event planner, had just recently moved to Westchester for her job, which was based in Connecticut. Since she was new to the area, and as a way to meet new friends, she decided to get a part-time job as a bartender at a local Italian restaurant in Stamford, CT. One of her new colleagues, who she met on her first day, was her future husband-to-be, Martin. A few months later, some of her coworkers from the restaurant were going out for drinks and Martin asked Dana if she wanted to join them. However, Dana quickly realized as they were closing the restaurant that she and Martin were the only ones heading out. The following week, Martin asked Dana out for dinner, and the week after that Dana cooked dinner for Martin. “The rest,” as Dana says, “is history.” As the old saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

 

The Proposal…

 

Miami has always held a special part in their lives. It was the site of their first vacation as a couple, and it was the place they eventually moved to. “It was a tradition of ours to do a nice Christmas Eve dinner at a special restaurant,” says Dana, and they wanted to keep that tradition alive, especially now that they had moved to Florida. So, on Christmas Eve, Martin took Dana to a restaurant they visited one Valentine’s Day in Key Biscayne and proposed.

 

Why the Hudson Valley?

 

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

Dana grew up in the Hudson Valley and always dreamed of getting married here. “The scenery of the Hudson Valley can’t be beat,” Dana says. “Finding a venue that provided those stunning unforgettable view, as well as a local farm-to-table food concept, was exactly what we imagined. As an event planner the food and beverage needed to be above average and that’s exactly what we received.”

 

Wedding theme…

 

Rustic

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 
Dana says “having my future husband’s mother from Uruguay come from her country for the first time and attend our wedding. She was able to meet my mother and make a connection with my family regardless of her not speaking our language.”

 

Hudson Valley Professionals…

 

Wedding Planner: Dana Prytula (the bride)

Flowers
: Floral Fantasies by Sara (Rhinebeck)

Cake: The Pastry Garden (Poughkeepsie) and Floral Fantasies by Sara (Flowers)

Hair
: Hair Design by Danielle (Middletown)

Makeup
: Makeup by Danee (Marlboro)

DJ and Lighting
: DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style (Wappingers Falls)

 

Photo credit to all: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

(Click image for larger view)

 

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12 Wedding Traditions You Can Skip…And 5 You Should Keep (part 2)

This is the second part of a 2-part series

 

If you’ve been to many weddings, you’ll know there’s a certain ebb and flow to them and certain main elements you can rely on, mainly being that weddings have some type of ceremony with some type of celebration after. What those end up looking like is totally up to you and your personal style and taste.

I mentioned I am a traditionalist, to an extent. I love the formality of weddings, but I also love it when couples change up tradition to match their personal preference, taste and personality. What’s great about weddings being full of traditions, is that, by definition, means that they aren’t rules. You can basically do whatever you want. While there are some traditions that can totally be skipped or changed up, there are 5 that, in my opinion need to stay:

RELATED: 12 WEDDING TRADITIONS YOU CAN SKIP…AND 5 YOU SHOULD KEEP

Wedding Tradition: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

What’s great about this tradition is that it’s vague enough that a bride can make it as obvious or as subtle as she wants. That’s why it’s a tradition I think should always be kept…more so than keeping a white dress. Why? Because fashion changes, times change, styles change. A dress is something that will be memorialized in photos and is one of the outwardly obvious indications of the bride’s personality so she should choose what she likes and what makes her comfortable and radiant.

This is such a time-honored tradition that I think any bride, no matter how traditional or off-beat will agree, is something she won’t be walking down the aisle without doing. The something new is almost always a wedding dress, so that can be ticked off a bride’s list right away. The something blue can be something subtle like blue shoes or blue stickers on the bottom of her shoes spelling out “I do” to something more obvious…maybe a blue dress or blue flowers or even blue hair!

Something borrowed can be absolutely anything and sometimes, can be combined with something old. For me, my old and borrowed item was a brooch my grandmother always wore which I had attached to my bouquet.

Wedding Tradition: Keeping the ceremony a ceremony

 

Back in the day, almost all wedding ceremonies took place in a house of worship. Now, more and more ceremonies are taking place outside or in non-secular locations. Either way, they are beautiful in their own right. However, every once in a while you hear about the couple that gets married under water, gets married while sky diving, or gets married doing some sort of non-traditional activity. While I do agree it’s your wedding and you can do what you want with it, it’s VERY, VERY important to not make light of the situation. A wedding is a sacred, special, meaningful day, and the ceremony itself is so life-changing that it needs the proper attention, formality, and dignity it (and your relationship) deserves. There are other times during the day you can express your love of diving, running or any other activity you enjoy, but the ceremony needs to be a ceremony…dignified and formal (however you define it).

Wedding Tradition: Mailing out paper invitations

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I know couples are strapped for cash and sometimes, invitations can get expensive, so especially now, in this tech-based society, many couples are opting for paperless invitations. While I understand the financial aspect of it, and understand most people just throw them out afterward, it kind of goes back to my last point about keeping your ceremony formal and dignified. Now, does that mean you need to spend $10 a piece on invites? Heck no! You can print them yourself. What that does mean is seeing your wedding in the bigger picture. Are all your guests going to be able to navigate an e-vite? Are you going to want pictures of your invite? Are you going to want to keep some for framing?

Now, there are things you can do so save paper and money. Maybe send electronic Save the Dates, or have guests RSVP electronically to save money on postage, but sending a paper RSVP to grandma instead. You could even try sending post card invites and then include all pertinent information on your wedding website. Whatever you decide, sending an invitation sends a message to your guests that it is a special event.

RELATED: WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE TO BE A DIY BRIDE?

Wedding Tradition: Hiring professional vendors

 

In this day in age, it’s very easy to say “I’m going to have a friend take our photos” or “I’m just going to play my iTunes playlist” or “I’m going to cook all my food,” and while that’s all well and good, you have to think about the end result, and what that all really means.

While it’s not really tradition, it is something you shouldn’t skimp out on. Is your Itunes play list going to give you the type of entertainment you want? Who’s going to announce you, or announce the speeches or announce the cake cutting or last dance? Are your friends’ photos going to capture every moment you want? Do you want your friend to work or have a good time? How long will it take to the photos back? Will they be edited? How are you going to get an album? Same with the food…are you going to cook or get married? You can’t really do both without having to work on your wedding day. Who’s going to set up?

So, that’s why the professionals are there, to help you enjoy your day and make it everything you dreamed of.

Wedding Tradition: Honoring those who have passed

 

At most weddings, there is either something said about those who couldn’t be there physically with you, something written about them, a candle symbolizing your loved ones or even a table with photos of your loved ones. However you want to recognize your loved ones is up to you, but it’s a tradition that needs to be kept. Remember, your wedding is about two families coming together, sharing love, and honoring your loved ones reminds everyone of their love for you and how their loved shaped you into who you are today.

What wedding traditions would you keep? Would you trade one of these for another tradition? What traditions are you keeping in your wedding? We’d love to know.

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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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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Not Sure if You Want to Hire a Wedding Planner? 5 Things You Need to Know

When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t hire a wedding planner. I had preconceived notions of what a planner did and honestly, I was looking forward to the challenge of planning a wedding and didn’t want to spend any more money than I already had. I’m the type of person that loves to plan, loves to create, and my wedding was the perfect playground for me. We also had our reception at an all-inclusive venue, so I felt like everything was taken care of, and it was, perfectly.

 

There was, however, one part of my day that did not go as planned, that still bothers me to this day and still has me doubting my decision of not hiring a planner, at least a day of coordinator. Here’s what happened…

 

When we arrived at the church, my bridesmaids and I were led to a room off to the side of the vestibule in the church. Within a few seconds, my girls left the room to line up with the groomsmen and then I heard our processional music playing. I couldn’t see anything from where I was waiting, but in my head, I envisioned the bridal party walk down the aisle, like we rehearsed the day before, and knew we good to go.

 

However, it wasn’t until I saw my video that I realized the timing was totally off!! Our first couple to walk down the aisle did so before any music started playing, then the second and third couple walked to music, then our ring bearer started walking down to my music!

 

The thought never entered our mind that we needed to make sure someone was going to signal to the organist in the choir loft that we are ready to go. She couldn’t see us and needed guidance! We never thought to ask the question of how the timing was going to go. We just assumed, somehow, it would happen…but it didn’t. Once the ceremony started, the organist had vocal cues from the priest to know when to start playing music, but to start, she had nothing…co clues or signals to know when to start.

 

It’s such a tiny detail, but when you spend hours planning your perfect day, and something like that happens, it’s cringe-worthy!

 

I share this story with you, not to scare you, but to show how common misconceptions can sometimes lead to poor decision-making. So, I wanted to take this time to debunk some common myths about wedding planners to help you make a more informed decision when it comes to your wedding.

 

Myth #1 – Wedding planners are too expensive

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Weddings

Many couples think that hiring a wedding planner is a luxury, something that they will spend money on, IF they have money leftover in their budget. The result is many couples, at least those familiar with the Hudson Valley, forgo this “luxury” because they don’t think it’s worth it.

 

Truth –

 

As with all aspects of your wedding, you are investing in something much more. You are investing in memories. Joann Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant of What Dreams Are Made of in Kingston, says, “Yes there’s a price, but there are so many perks to it (hiring a wedding planner) that people don’t realize.” Perks include all the little items that some folks forget about such as cuing the music at your ceremony or making sure your gifts are packed and taken back to your hotel room.

 

Other perks of hiring a wedding planner is that they can act as a mediator and “therapist” of sorts. If families don’t get along, your wedding planner can step in and ease some of the tension by finding workarounds. They deal with the problems at hand so that you can relax and not be so stressed out. Jeanne Stark, of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says with a wedding planner, “You have an advocate on your side, you have someone that you can always run questions by, etiquette, family issues.”

 

Another perk, which kind of sounds ironic, is that by investing money in hiring a wedding planner, you could actually be saving yourself money (and time and stress) in the long run. Stark also says that planners have vendors in their repertoire that you may not ever know about. Little hidden gems, as she likes to call them “We also have a lot of vendors that they’re (couples) not going to find on The Knot or Wedding Wire,” she says. “They just don’t advertise, they don’t feel they need to or want to and they’re going to be at a lower price because they’re not paying for advertising.”

 

Myth #2 – Wedding planners are too bossy!

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

This misconception, I’m sure, comes from the portrayal of wedding planners in movies and TV, where they show up and start bossing people around. Think Martin Short’s character Franck from Father of the Bride. While it’s fun and entertaining, for the most part, wedding planners are not like that.

 

Truth –

 

Nellie Hill, Event Planner and Owner of Nellie Hill Events in Hurley, says the right planner actually keeps their relationship with other hired professionals cordial. “We all work together,” she says. “I’m not going to step on their toes…I will just step back and make sure that it’s happening from afar.” However, she says, as the second set of eyes, she makes sure everything happens the way it’s supposed to. She gives an example of a photographer. “They are a professional, they know what they are doing” but if she sees something happening that they may not be aware of, she will make sure to tell them.

 

Stark says a common misconception is that wedding planners go around yelling at everyone, telling vendors what to do and bringing them down the lowest level they can charge. “A good wedding planner,” she says, “is a team player, we’re all on the same page, so the misconception is that we are there to tell everyone what to do, and we’re not.” She continues to say that “it’s not our job to say ‘do this!’ It’s our job to say ‘let’s come up with a couple ideas,’ and then they (the couple) can choose what’s comfortable for them or what they feel is going to work best in that situation.”

 

However, if you are still unsure of this truth, talk with your vendors and your venue on planners they’ve worked with before. You want to make sure that the planner you hire works well with others and is not the type that lives up to this misconception.

 

RELATED: The One Thing That Will Ruin Your Wedding and 4 Ways to Prevent It

 

Myth #3 – I don’t need a wedding planner because my wedding is in a non-traditional venue

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Getting married at a non-traditional venue has its perks, but also has its setbacks. Remember, most non-traditional venues were built with another purpose in mind first, like a barn, an inn, or an old industrial space, not for weddings. That means that you need to turn that space into a wedding venue.

 

Truth –

 

Provenzano says, “Unique venues such as barns, backyards, wineries – it’s more complicated.” If you are turning a non-traditional space into a wedding venue, it’s all on you, unless you hire someone to help you. You need to provide everything from tables, china, napkins, silverware, to portable restrooms, heat, tents, etc. Even if you are a DIY bride, do you really want to be in charge of all of those details? Stark says, “Most of our clients are going to be ones that are in a venue where they pay a site fee and they have to do everything. EVERYTHING! So that’s a typical couple that would need a wedding planner, just because there’s so many moving parts, so many components to the wedding itself.”

 

RELATED: DIY Weddings: 5 Things You Need To Know Now

 

Myth #4 – I don’t need a wedding planner because I’m getting married at a full-service venue

 

A full-service wedding venue is one you would typically associate with a wedding. A catering hall at a venue or hotel where you choose your linens, your menu, etc. and have staff taking care of you throughout the night. Because of all the staff catering to you during the night, it’s easy to assume you don’t need a wedding planner.

 

Truth –

 

While most couples who have weddings at venues like this do not hire wedding planners, “Full-service wedding venues still need someone there”, says Provanzano. The venue is almost always your biggest ticket item. “If you have a problem with the venue,” she says, “and you don’t have a planner that you’ve hired, who are you going to turn to?” You need to go to someone who works at that venue instead of having an independent person to help you through the issue.

 

Hill says at full-service venues, “sometimes the maître d’ may not be there when a vendor is not showing up…the maître d’ is following the food and managing the staff.”

 

Myth #5 – A wedding planner will take control and not give me the wedding I really want

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Some people have this misconception that a wedding planner will take over all control and force their opinions onto a couple creating a wedding that is the planner’s vision and not the couple’s vision.

 

Truth –

 

When you hire a wedding planner, you are also hiring a third-party “voice of reason.” Sometimes couples get so caught up in the wedding day that their expectations are set way too high, and become unrealistic. The wedding planner comes in and brings them back to reality. Provanzano encourages couples to make smarter decisions. If a couple wants a flame thrower at the reception or wants to spend $2,000 on invitations, she will often times show them what else they could get for their money that would go a lot further instead. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but she gives alternative options to let the couple ultimately decide what’s really important to them and what they really want to do.

 

“The other part of being a wedding planner,” Stark says, “is making sure that clients are making good choices, in a timely manner, and unfortunately, sometimes, being the one that says ‘OK, I know you love the fact that you want to come in a hot air balloon, unfortunately, you have a $25,000 budget and that’s going to blow it out of the water.’ ” Because of that, Stark says planners “sometimes have to be the one that has to be the bearer of bad news. But from experience, what you do is you say ‘well, what about this idea instead? It’s going to be a third of the price, it’s something spectacular, and people are still going to think it’s really cool.”

 

The fact that this “voice of reasoning” may be where this myth comes from, the reality is, the couple actually ends up makes smarter decisions.

 

Are you hiring a wedding planner for your wedding? What made you decide to hire one? Why did you decide not to hire one? We’d love to know.

 

Featured Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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Featured Couple: Melissa & Kaveh

Their Love Story…

 

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

Their story started out as a series of missed moments. Melissa says, “Kaveh and I spent years just missing each other, as a mutual friend kept trying to set us up, but the timing never quite worked for both of us. Then about 4 years ago we were invited to the same holiday party where we met for the first time and have been together ever since.”

 

The Proposal…

 

Their proposal didn’t go quite as planned but worked out perfectly in the end. “Kaveh had been working on planning a proposal for just before my 30th birthday,” Melissa says, “however I got sick and threw a bit of a wrench in his plans. I insisted on staying home to rest up and he switched gears and prepared to do it another time. We ordered sushi and had a picnic in our living room, surrounded by tissues and tea. It was there that he ended up proposing, saying it was those moments that made him want to spend our lives together so what better way to ask.”

 

Wedding Theme…

 

“We didn’t really have a theme,” Melissa says, “but I love rustic elements and pastels.”

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video


 

Why the Hudson Valley?…

 

Melissa says, “I have family that lives in the Hudson Valley and growing up it was always one of my favorite places to visit. With so many happy memories there it was a natural fit for our wedding.”

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

Melissa says the most memorable moment for her was during their first dance. “It was when my nerves melted away,” she says, “and it was just me and Kaveh surround by our cheering friends and family.”

 

Hudson Valley Professionals…

 

Venue – The Garrison (Garrison)

Photography/VideographyEmma Cleary Photo and Video (New York City)

FloristFloral Fantasies By Sara (Rhinebeck)

HairAnnaliese & Co. (Fishkill)
Makeup
Bridal by Alexandria (Fishkill)

 

Photo Credit to all: Emma Cleary Photo and Video (Click images for larger view)

 

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30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (Part 3)

One of the most special days of your life is here and you are bursting with excitement! You’ve waited for this day for so long and you’ve played it out in your head so many times, you know exactly how the day is going to go before the day even arrives. However, there are things that happen on your wedding day that may stray from the vision in your head. Good or bad, there are things that no one ever tells you about your wedding day, that they should. Today, we finish our massive list of 30 wedding day truths you need to know.

 

Wedding Truth #21 You may not get cash or gifts you registered for

 

Part of planning your wedding is registering for gifts. Most couples do this, but some, if they have been living together for a long period of time, opt out. And that’s totally fine. The main purpose of the wedding gift registry is to make sure you have most, if not all of the items you need to start your life together. Typical items may include china, bedding, kitchen appliances etc. Most of these gifts are given at the shower, but if there are still items left, some guests may give them to you at the wedding. Another popular wedding gift is cash. However, you may have a guest who, for whatever reason, strays from that registry and would prefer not to give cash either. Perhaps they are crafty and decide to craft you a wedding item. Maybe they are giving you an heirloom. Be prepared for guests to take liberty with your gift. Some of the best gifts we received were hand-made and now hold a special place in our home as a constant reminder of that day.

 

RELATED: 7 Practical Ways to Create Your Awesome Wedding Registry

 

Wedding Truth #22 Your wedding is not the time to change who you are

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Your wedding day will inevitably change who you are forever in terms of your marital status, but it’s not a day to change who you are as a person in terms of how you act and what you look like. What do I mean by that? Take me, for example: I wear glasses, always have since the age of 9. They are part of who I am. I wasn’t about to ditch my glasses (though I did go as far as trying contacts for the day and hated them) just because I am getting married. I realized that’s part of who I am. Why is today any different? If you wear natural makeup, your wedding day may not be the time to try cat eyes with mascara or a bold red lip. If your wardrobe is full of classic staples, you may not want to wear a blinged-out wedding dress. I know there is a lot of pressure to have a “perfect” day and I realize that in magazines, you hardly ever see brides with glasses on, but guess what? That’s not real life. You have to be you, after all, that’s who your fiancé wants to marry.

 

RELATED: The One Thing That Will Ruin Your Wedding and 4 Ways to Prevent It

 

Wedding Truth #23 You will tire of kissing and smiling

 

Wedding days are full of love and romance, there’s no denying it. There’s also no denying that by the end of the night, you are going to be really sick of kissing and smiling…in a good way. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you will be posing for photos all day. Many of your wedding photos include kissing poses. You are going to get really tired of having to pose for kissing shots or pose with a smile. Sure, it makes for awesome photos, but soon, you are going to want it all to stop so you can actually smile and kiss organically and naturally. You are going to get so used to smiling and kissing that the day after, it’s going to feel weird not doing that.

 

Wedding Truth #24 You will be the most exhausted you have ever been in your life

 

I mentioned before that your wedding day will be the best day ever. It’s so much fun and so full of excitement that you will never want the day to end. And you don’t. However, no matter how much you want the night to go on forever, you will be exhausted! Trust me, when everything is said and done and you finally have a moment of quiet to yourself, exhaustion is going to hit you like a ton of bricks! You’re probably already working on little sleep from the night before (if you were too excited to sleep), then you were the center of attention all day, then you partied hard, then you had to maybe entertain guests for a few days and you have to pack and prepare for your honeymoon. It’s exhausting and you can only sustain that for so long before you crash. For me, I passed out on the plane on our way to our honeymoon and didn’t even realize I was asleep until we were in our descent. I never, ever sleep on planes, no matter how hard I try, so I knew I was spent! My loving hubby took some pretty funny selfie photos of me dead asleep, too!  I actually love them because they say so much.

 

Wedding Truth #25 Not everybody dances

 

DIY Wedding

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

Dancing is the part of the reception I think everyone looks forward too, however, it doesn’t matter how great your DJ is and how pumped he gets your guests, the truth is not everyone is going to dance. It doesn’t mean they are not having a good time, but some people are just not into dancing and won’t under any circumstance. And here’s a bit of advice if you notice some people not dancing at your wedding. Do not force them to dance! Ever! You could be making it very uncomfortable for them. Just let the non-dancers do their thing.

 

RELATED: The One Mistake Couples Make When Hiring Their DJ

 

Wedding Truth #26 Your wedding day is not just about you

 

In some instances, your wedding day may coincide with a special day one of your guests might be celebrating, like a birthday or anniversary. If that’s the case, make sure you acknowledge that. Yes, people are there to celebrate your marriage, but your guests are at your wedding when they could be celebrating their special day, so make sure you do something special for them, too. Perhaps ask the DJ to play a special song, or purchase a small cake or cupcakes and have everyone sing happy birthday. At our wedding, one of the kids we invited was celebrating his 6th birthday. We surprised him by purchasing a special cake, asked our maître d’ to put in a candle, told our photographer and DJ what we had planned and everyone sang happy birthday to him. It was truly a sweet and special occasion for everyone!

 

Wedding Truth #27 You are going to love the attention

 

One of the things that stressed me out the most about our wedding was knowing that we were going to be the center of attention. I hate being the center of attention and I was even shaking walking down the aisle because I knew everyone was looking at me. Even though two people are getting married, it’s always the bride that seems to get the most attention. Everyone wants to see the dress! No pressure! But, I have to say, that by the end of the night, I actually missed being the center of attention. Think about it. It’s the one day where you are put on a pedestal. Everyone wants to make you happy, and will do whatever it takes. You’re catered to all day, and without sounding arrogant, it’s kind of nice. It’s the only time in your life you are going to experience that, so enjoy it…but don’t let it get to your head.

 

RELATED: 30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (Part 1)

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Wedding Truth #28 You are going to be congratulated by everyone…even strangers

 

It’s not every day you see people walking around in tuxes, evening gowns and big white dresses. Remember, for everyone not at your wedding, your wedding day is an average, normal day. People are out running errands, living their lives, so for them, seeing a wedding party out and about is an exciting coincidence. People you don’t know will be congratulating you everywhere you go. We had some photos taken at a park, so everyone who was walking or jogging by said congrats. Even people driving by honked their horns at us. It was really cool!

 

Wedding Truth #29 Your wedding day makes you a better person

 

I mentioned earlier that your wedding day is not a day to go changing who you are on the outside, but fundamentally, getting married changes you. The unromantic side is that it really boils down to you signing a piece of paper, but that signature represents so much. I remember being in a constant state of euphoria for months after our wedding. I felt like I was in a unique and elite club. There’s something so amazing about being officially married, saying “husband” or “wife” for the first time, knowing, that forever and ever, you have someone watching your back, a trusted partner. Even people I know who were in long-term relationships prior to getting married say nothing beats that feeling. You literally become a better person!

 

RELATED: 30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (Part 2)

 

Last but not least…Wedding Truth #30 Your wedding day goes by incredibly fast

 

You’ve all heard the expression that time flies when you are having fun. It goes even faster on your wedding day! Actually, there have been studies done on this phenomenon. No matter how much you want to stop time and savor the day forever and ever, your reception does have to come to an end. It really feels like in a blink of an eye, it’s all over. All the planning, all the prepping, all the coordinating, it’s over in a flash. That’s why it’s so important to hire a professional photographer and videographer to capture the day. The experience is one you can never really repeat and to have photos and videos to replay the day whenever you want is priceless.

 

Are you recently married? Is there something you discovered about your wedding day that no one told you would happen?

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Featured Couple: Sandy & Steven

Their Love Story…

 

Sandy and Steven were college sweethearts. “We met in college during the first few weeks of our first year through mutual friends,” says Sandy. “We became really close over the years as we shared so many of the same interests. We didn’t hang out too often but when we did, we made a big deal about it. Ultimately, we graduated sitting side by side with the same majors (Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Spanish Liberal Arts). The rest is history.”

 

The Proposal…

 

bride in wedding dress

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Christmas was the setting for their proposal, which is a very special time for both Sandy and Steven as they usually set aside one day to buy decorations and put the Christmas tree up, usually with a movie playing in the background. Sandy also loves to make Christmas cards for the family, so Steven used taking their Christmas card photo as the perfect decoy.

“I got home (from work) and he had the holiday decorations out and ready,” says Sandy. “We put on a movie and got straight to it. We wanted to take our holiday picture after we were done and Steven suggested we prop the cell phone up and record it and then screen shot the phone screen when we like a certain pose… I thought he was a genius for it.”

After the decorating was done, it was time for their photos. Sandy quickly put on some jewelry and Steven said he was going to run to the bedroom to “choose a watch to wear” for the photo. On his way to the bedroom, he hit record, for what Sandy thought was to screen shot a photo for their cards, but was really to capture the proposal. “He came out and it all happened in slow motion, I could tell he was so very nervous and he got on one knee and asked me the big question… I said yes immediately,” said Sandy.

After Sandy said yes, Steven had one more surprise. Letters to Sandy he wrote every day since he purchased the ring a few weeks before over Thanksgiving weekend. “We quickly started calling family who was in-the-know and our close friends who were over the moon excited.

The next day, we went out to lunch to celebrate, as we walked into La Stazione (one of our favorite New Paltz restaurants) our families were waiting for us, filled with so much joy!”

 

Wedding Theme…

 

“We wanted a rustic theme,” said Sandy. “We are very big on nature, light, woods, flowers and burlap. We both love trees and the metaphor trees provide. My dad always has analogies that have to do with trees and nature. We also included lots of lanterns. Our color scheme was a blush rosy pink, mint and hints of gold.”

 

Why the Hudson Valley?…

 

groom

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

“I was raised in The Bronx and Steven in Long Island. We both came to SUNY New Paltz for school in 2007,” Sandy says. “We fell in love with the picturesque views and tranquility of our college town and lived there through college. We tried to live back home with our families after graduation, but that was very brief. We both started looking for jobs up here (Hudson Valley) and have never left. We have no family up here but there was just no way we would get married anywhere else. The Hudson Valley is our home and it was such an honor to share the natural riches of our home with family and friends for our special weekend. For a lot of our college friends, it must’ve felt like a homecoming of sorts.”

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

For Sandy, there were many moments that really stood out. “Walking down the aisle was very special, Steven was very giddy and I, whom everyone expected to be a mess of tears, was all smiles and excitement.” Sandy also says, “Our first dance was so special because Steven learned the words to our song and whispered them in my ear whilst we danced.”

In addition, Sandy says, “We both got blessing from our parents before getting married in Saint Joseph’s in New Paltz. Steven got a special blessing from his grandmother who was able to make the trip from Colombia.”

Family really made the day special for them. “We had family come from so many places (Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Spain); it was so special to see these loved ones after quite some time.”

 

Hudson Valley Professionals…

 

Venues: Saint Joseph’s Church (New Paltz) & Christos Catering (Poughkeepsie)

Photography: Myles Studio Photography (Highland)

Hair & Makeup: Bridal by Alexandria (Poughkeepsie)

Cake: Pastry Garden (Poughkeepsie)

Flowers: Osborne’s Flower Shoppe (Poughkeepsie)

Transportation: A Hudson Valley Limousine, Inc. (Pine Bush)

Photo Credit to All: Myles Studio Photography

 

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the one mistake couples make when hiring their DJ

When you hire a DJ for your wedding, did you know that you are not hiring them based on the fact they play music? That sounds crazy, right? I mean, they are called disc jockeys for a reason!

 

I’ll be the first to admit that we hired a DJ for our wedding because we wanted people to dance, have a good time, and get their groove on for a couple of hours. But when I stopped to think about it, our DJ did so much more than play music. Actually, the music came second to what really made our guest have a good time.
 

Here’s what I mean. A few weeks ago I saw this on the website of Digital Musicians Entertainment: “In this new age of easy access to technology it seems like it’s possible for anyone with a laptop and some speakers to be a “wedding DJ.” The truth is, what we do encompasses so much more than pressing play. It’s so much more than playing other people’s music through some big speakers.”

 

I was floored! That really made a lot of sense, so I thought I would ask professional wedding DJs in the Hudson Valley their thoughts, and they all agreed that playing music is just a part of what makes your wedding hop.

 

RELATED: Why Hiring an Experienced DJ for Your Wedding is a Bad Idea

 

David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, says, “A lot of people think that a DJ is a human jukebox – that a DJ just plays music – and that is about the last thing we do.”

 
dj quote
 

In fact, Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie, says, “The DJ, more important than the music, guides and directs, becomes the master of ceremonies, makes sure things happen at the right time, they coordinate between the vendors, the caterer, and the other various vendors. … The DJ is the nucleus of the formalities.”

 

Those are some powerful words – the nucleus of formalities. So let’s break this down into what DJs really do, and that goes far beyond playing music.

 

 

Wedding DJs can sometimes act like your wedding planner, and guests look at them as the ones in charge

 

Think about weddings you’ve attended in the past. Did it seem like a choreographed dance? Dances, speeches, cake cutting, dinner, photos all seemed to be happening at the right time. That wasn’t by chance.

 

“There’s so much more to DJing a wedding than just playing music,” says Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz. “We’re involved in everything, and the whole flow of the evening is in our hands. We need to make sure that everything is happening according to the schedule. We need to make sure that it’s what you want it to be, and planning is the biggest part of that.” That includes working with all your vendors and making sure everyone is on the same page following the same schedule.

 

Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro, says, “DJs aren’t just playing music. It is not an iPod. An entertainment company is a wedding planner, an MC, and a DJ. They are working closely together with all the other vendors, as well as the venue, to ensure the greatest success of the event for the couple.”

 

This is why Fischer says guests often look at the DJ like they are the ones in charge.

 

RELATED: 9 Crucial Things You Need to Do for Your Wedding Vendors

 

Wedding DJs are also the MCs (Master of Ceremonies) and entertainers

 

I spoke to Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor, who was the inspiration for this post, to explain what was written on his website. “The DJ is so much more than playing music,” he says. “If you take away the master of ceremonies or if you take away the DJ, yes, you have somebody playing music at your wedding … but the downfall to that is, all the little things add up and take away from the total music time.” Little things, such as not mixing songs properly, stalling when certain formalities are being done, essentially anything that a DJ with little experience does, that interrupts that natural flow of the night and takes away from dance time.

 

When you work with a single operation DJ, meaning the DJ is the company, they are the DJ and the MC. With multi-operation DJ companies, meaning the DJ business has several DJs working for them, you will often times get a DJ and an MC for your wedding. Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls, says, “It’s really important to have a two-man show, like a team. You need a DJ to play the music all night long and an MC to be on the microphone and get in the crowd to make sure that everything is being hosted correctly.”

 

 

DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls, says, “If certain things don’t come together … if the DJ isn’t doing a good job moving people through the day, people will remember that lack of flow, they’ll remember it wasn’t organic, it wasn’t natural.”

 

Wedding DJs are your own personal AV, backstage, and lighting crew

 

Swatek explains “a good MC, a good DJ will get their hands into every single part of the wedding day, even little things like ‘what are your wedding colors?’ Well, why are you asking that? Because I’m bringing lighting, and I want to make sure that it coordinates with what you’re doing.”

 

But you also need to look at your wedding day as a whole, not just the reception, in terms of what you are hiring your DJ to do. For example, are you having an outdoor ceremony? Then you need wireless mics. Are you having music at cocktail hour? Then you need a separate setup.

 

Fischer says, “They (couples) lean on me a lot for the ceremony. Two-thirds of all the weddings I do, I’m involved in the ceremony.” He says almost any ceremony outside of a place of worship is going to need something, whether its live music like a violinist or at the very minimum a PA system. “If they (the couple) are out in the middle of a field on a farm and there are 200 guests,” he says, “the people in the first three rows are going to hear it (the ceremony) but what about the other 175 guests? So at the minimum, you need PA.”

 

 

Mahan says music should really be the last thing you discuss with your DJ. “The music is a byproduct of the process,” he says, “and the process is what’s important.” A truly experienced and qualified wedding DJ will be able to answer questions like “What happens if the first song cuts out? What happens if I have a last minute request? How do you accommodate that?”

 

So, you can see, a wedding DJ does so much more than play music. In our next article, we’re going to teach you the best ways to hire a DJ, what you should be looking for and questions to ask.
 
If you already booked your DJ or had your wedding, what did your DJ do that surprised you in any way? What made you say “Oh, I didn’t know that?”

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30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (part 2)

I love being able to look back on our wedding day and seeing it not only as a the most incredible day of my life, but also taking things that I learned about myself and that day and sharing them with you, to help give you insights and prepare you for things that no one might not tell you about your wedding day. Today, we continue our list of 30 Wedding Day Truths…

 

RELATED: 30 Truths You Need To Know About Your Wedding Day (Part 1)

 

Wedding Truth #11 – You will watch your wedding video more than you think

 

Wedding photography is usually one of the first things couples book, but videography is sometimes the last and is often an afterthought. I know it was for me. We have great family videos but the one thing I did not realize was just how much I’d watch those videos after our wedding. I never thought I would watch them at all, so that’s why we opted out, which now I kind of regret. if you are on the fence about getting videos done, please invest in them. You’ll thank yourself later.

 

 

Wedding Truth #12 – Traditions don’t need to be kept

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Nowhere is it written that you have to follow certain traditions for your wedding. You don’t have to do anything (except sign the marriage license) that you don’t want to do. For instance, the first look used to be a real no-no, partly due to superstition, and now, almost everyone does one. You can walk down the aisle with anyone or no one, you can have a bridal party or no bridal party, you can have a best man or best woman, you can have a maid of honor or man of honor. Dances, toasts, and reception traditions such as the bouquet and garter toss don’t have to be done at all. We didn’t do the bouquet and garter toss, and guess what? No one missed it. want pizza instead of cake, go for it. That’s what makes weddings so great. It is literally a blank slate. So, traditions are there really as a guideline and as a source to show you what can be done, but it’s your day and you can make it your own any way you like. Now, if you are getting married in a house of worship, there may be guidelines you need to follow, so make sure that you run any plans past the officiant first to make sure it’s ok.

 

Wedding Truth #13 – You will be late

 

When was the last time you went to a wedding, or any event for that matter, that started on time? Even if you have a wedding day timeline (which I highly suggest you have) you will run late. I always like to think of the time on the invite as the time when guests should all be there and to help ease the anxiety a bit, I would warn your fiancé now that you may be late. Now I’m not talking super later here, but five to 10 minutes, probably. Why? Well, by the time the limo arrives, by the time everyone gets situated, by the time the music starts to play, and the photographers are set up and the bridal party walks down the aisle, that takes a few minutes. I think I was about 10 minutes late by the time everyone piled into the limo and got to the church and the bridal party got lined up. But don’t stress, if you plan for that little bit of slack, you have nothing to worry about.

 

Wedding Truth #14 – You might have to pay for people who don’t show

 

When you book your venue, in the Hudson Valley especially, many venues have guest minimums. That means you need to guarantee that minimum amount of people will attend, and even if they don’t you still have to pay for them. Say, for example, your wedding venue has a guest minimum of 100 people and you invite 100 people, but, by the time you get your RSVP’s back, only 90 people can make it. You still need to pay for those 10 no-shows. However, don’t let this worry you. Speak with your venue or your caterer to see if they might be able to throw in an extra appetizer, or up lighting, or even give you those ten meals to take home. What are you going to do with ten take-home meals? Well, you can give them to guests like your parents or grandparents so they don’t have to cook the next day, or you can stock your freezer so when you get back from your honeymoon, you can relive your wedding meal and not have to cook either.

 

Wedding Truth #15 – People aren’t going to care about the details as much as you

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

I hate to sound like Debbie Downer here, but not everyone is going to remember the details as much as you. That was a hard one for me to swallow because, as a DIY bride, you take so much time to make all the details and to make sure everything looks perfect.  But, at the end of the day, people remember the food and the entertainment more than any other aspect of your wedding, even more than your vows or your ceremony…unless it’s something really different or unique. So, a way to destress is to know that, yes, you want a pretty and beautiful day, but you don’t have to go overboard on the details

 

Wedding Truth #16 – Personalizing your wedding is a great way to make it memorable

 

So, I just mentioned that the details may be overlooked by some, well, one way to make sure people remember your wedding is by personalizing it as much as possible. So, writing your own vows, perhaps a unique “tying the knot” ceremony, photos, memorials, dances, cake, etc. The more you can personalize your wedding, the less it makes it like every other wedding and the more it makes it your own.

 

Wedding Truth #17 –There is no such thing as a perfect wedding

 

No matter how hard you try to make your wedding perfect, there is no such thing as a perfect wedding. Something will not go as planned, it could be something as small as running five to 10 minutes late or something big, like your cake falling to the ground. Hopefully, the imperfections will be minute, but know that no matter what you do, something may not go as planned. But, here’s the best part. You know the details of your wedding inside and out, so if something doesn’t go as planned and you notice it, changes are, no one else will. That being said, however, the one factor no one has control of on their wedding day is the weather. It’s crucial to make sure you have a backup plan for the weather.

 

RELATED:  The One Thing That Will Ruin Your Wedding and 4 Easy Ways To Prevent It

 

Wedding Truth #18 – Perfection is what you make it

 

So, now that you know that no wedding is perfect, perfection is what you make it. A while back, I read a blog post called “Don’t make these color mistakes”. Talk about pressure! Listen, if you like two colors and put them together, they are perfect for you, and that’s what matters. It doesn’t matter if someone behind a computer in an office says you are making a mistake. If you like it, go for it. Also, if you get caught up in the fact that something didn’t go as planned, then it’s going to ruin the rest of your day. Your wedding day is not the day to keep planning, your wedding day is for you to enjoy the moment, get married, and soak in the memories you are making. At some point you have to just give it up. You’ve done all that you could do, you rehearsed and planned as much as you can. You just have to trust the process. To be extra careful that your day runs as smoothly as possible, you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner for day or month of coordination.

 

Wedding Truth #19 – The emotion of the day may not hit you until after the fact

 

Weddings are an emotional day, no doubt about it, but sometimes, the emotion of the day may not hit you until after the fact. You may be so pumped on adrenaline that it may take you some time to decompress and absorb your wedding day. Being around so many people, being on the go constantly all day makes it hard to sometimes take in everything that’s going on. For me, it didn’t hit me until we were on our honeymoon and I had time away from all of it to realize that I am married, that we had a beautiful wedding and that I just experienced the greatest day of my life.

 

Wedding Truth #20 – You can eat at your wedding

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Often you hear of couples who miss their entire dinner because they were busy talking to guests or taking pictures. In my opinion, the only time missing dinner is OK is if the sun is setting during your dinner and you want sunset photos. Otherwise, if you want to be part of your cocktail hour and dinner and actually eat, you can. You need to make sure that you let your photographer know that you want to be back in time for cocktail hour. Traditionally, if you don’t do a receiving line at the end of the ceremony, couples will go around during cocktail hour or during dinner to say hello to each guest. If you are greeting your guests during dinner, my best suggestion is to visit each table during the first course. This way, the only food you’re missing is soup or salad (which your venue can pack up for you so you can have it later) and you grab your guests before they start digging into the main course. If you unfortunately need to miss dinner, make sure your venue packs up a meal for you to go, so that you can enjoy it later and has some snack foods available to you so you can nosh while you’re dancing to keep your energy up.
 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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the one thing that will ruin your wedding and 4 ways to prevent it

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. It’s probably a day some of you have been dreaming of since you were a small child. It’s a day that will go down in the history books of your family’s legacy for generations to talk about. All eyes are going to be on you, and you have one chance to get it right; it has to be PERFECT! Mementos from your wedding day will be saved and passed down, and your photos will be cherished by generations after you.

 

Stressed out yet? If you hadn’t noticed, I was purposely setting the tone for this blog post. Did you read that and feel a little short of breath, perhaps your heartbeat rose a little? It was done to show you how this one thing can ruin your wedding day.

 

Have you figured it out yet? I’ll give you a clue: It’s completely manageable.

 

Still not sure what it is? It’s EXPECTATIONS

 

Let’s dissect this a bit, shall we?

 

We’d all be lying if we said we didn’t want a perfect wedding day. We all want the perfect day. You’ve been playing it out in your head forever, have a vision for what you want, and you expect perfection, because gosh darn it, you’re getting married! But, let’s face it: Nothing is perfect. So, expecting a perfect day is probably not going to happen and is somewhat unrealistic.

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Admittedly, we (brides and grooms) are our own worst enemies. We’re putting this pressure on ourselves based on what we think our guests or family expects, or what the Internet, TV or movies tells us to expect in terms of perfection.

 

Nellie Hill, Event Planner and Owner of Nellie Hill Events in Hurley, explains why wanting the day to be perfect is understandable. “It’s hard because everyone is looking at you that day,” she says. “The spotlight is on you, but you have to try and remember that it’s about two people coming together, and it’s about love and as long as you guys are married at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. People aren’t going to remember those little things that happen…they’re going to remember the love and the family and coming together.”

 

Is it realistic to expect perfect weather on your wedding day? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect everything will run like clockwork to the minute? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect your wedding will be the most memorable wedding your guests will attend…EVER? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect guests will appreciate all the details as much as you? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect you are going to absolutely LOVE every single one of the hundreds of photos taken of you that day? No.

 

Is it realistic to expect everyone to dance to every song? No.

 

Is it realistic everyone is going to love your food or the cake? NO.

 

See where I’m going? You can’t please everyone. So, why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?

 

I know, it’s easy to tell you not to expect perfection. However, the good news is there are four easy ways you can control and manage expectations, and when expectations are controlled and met, that means less anxiety, worry, and stress for you. Sounds good, right?

 

Manage wedding day expectations with a budget

 

Have you ever heard of the phrase “Champagne taste on a beer budget?” That phrase rings especially true when it comes to weddings. That’s why it’s important to have a budget. You need to write down everything you’ve ever dreamed of for your wedding day and compare it to how much you have to spend. If what you want costs more than what you have to spend, then you need to take a step back and reconsider a few things.

 

“First thing I tell a couple is to make a list,” says Joanne Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant of What Dreams Are Made of in Kingston. “Start with the number one thing you want for your wedding and as you go down the list it’s what you want less and less.” Having a budget manages your expectations in terms of allowing you to realistically see what things cost and it also ensures that you get your top items (within reason, of course). You book what you want based off the list and as the money runs out and you don’t get what’s left at the end of the list, it’s OK because you didn’t put a lot of importance on them anyway. “You have XYZ amount of money to work with,” says Provanzano. “Get the important stuff first; then what’s left, those are the frills.”

 
RELATED: Three Essential Details You Need to Know Before Attending Your First Wedding Expo
 

Manage wedding day expectations through communication

 

Communication is so important when it comes to managing expectations. Disappointment and arguments start to happen because expectations were not met. And why were expectations not met? Because they were not communicated.

 

Planning a wedding means you are going to input from everybody and their uncle, with immediate family topping that list of opinions. “It’s hard to field out those opinions, but I think the main thing is to really focus on what is special for you and your spouse,” Hill says. “Everybody is going to have their opinions, and the best way to handle it, personally, is to just listen, take it in and then do what you feel is right.”

 

cake topper

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Think of when you give someone advice or an opinion. If they shut you down completely, you’d be pretty upset, right? However, if they listened to you and took what you said to heart, even if they didn’t follow through with it, you’d be OK, because they took the time to acknowledge what you said and heard you out.

 

You need to do the same. It’s incredibly frustrating at times to get opinions thrown at you from every direction, and you’ve probably said to yourself, “Who’s getting married — me or you?” but just take a deep breath and listen. It’s all coming from a good place, and if the other person feels heard, even if you don’t follow through, they’ll be OK with it.

 

You also need to communicate with your fiancé. Traditionally, it’s usually the bride that calls the shots, but your groom has a voice too and, even though he may not be as into the planning as you, he has ideas that need to be heard, and more importantly, represented. Remember, this is your wedding…plural. If he wants ice cream, or a certain type of beer, or lawn games, or a certain type of cake or food, don’t shut him down. Make sure you incorporate his likes and wishes too.

 

Lastly, you need to communicate with your vendors. You need to make sure you are communicating your vision to them throughout the entire planning process. What kind of music do you like? What style photography do you like? What specific food do you want? What traditions to you want to incorporate? If your vendor just showed up and you gave them full control over the day, chances are, you would never end up with the wedding you envisioned. Your vendors have your back and are waiting for you to tell them what direction to go. And as a red flag, if your vendors don’t ask you personal questions and don’t want your input…don’t hire them!

 
RELATED: Why Hiring an Experienced DJ For Your Wedding is a Bad Idea
 

Manage wedding day expectations with a ‘Plan B’ AND a ‘Plan C’

 

Three plans? Yes, three plans. Here’s why: Jeanne Stark, of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “You have Plan A which is absolutely perfect, nothing is going wrong. Plan C is ‘We’re going to have a hurricane on your wedding.’ ” Basically, everything that can go wrong will go wrong and you need to plan for that. “Plan B”, Stark says, “is somewhere in the middle. We may have a pop-up thunderstorm. We may find out there’s some kind of huge festival in town and all these little things. What do we do with that?”

 

Having a plan for something that might happen last minute, and knowing what to do, lowers anxiety. “I always feel as though, if you have three concrete plans, that when those dilemmas do occur, they’re (the couple) not overwhelmed,” says Stark. Then, it’s almost like things aren’t going wrong, they’re just going correctly according to Plan A, B, or C.

 

Manage wedding day expectations by realizing your wedding is not a competition

 

When you think of competition, you think of being better at something than someone else to “win” or set you apart from everyone else to get a “prize.” Well, there are no prizes in the wedding world. No one gets a trophy for anything you do on your wedding day. So, why do you want your wedding to be the best anyone has ever gone to? Is it because you are trying to impress someone or worried about what they will think of you? Is it because you are trying to prove a point?

 

wedding guests

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

By thinking your wedding has to be bigger or better than someone else’s means you are not only putting added pressure on yourselves but are also setting expectations so high, that you, no doubt, will have regrets. A wedding isn’t a game. No one wins or loses. Each wedding is different and unique for its own reasons.

 

If you’ve been to a few weddings, you probably have a “favorite” and one that wasn’t. Stark says couples these days are attending more weddings than ever before, and that’s good and bad. “They do walk away with what they don’t want at their wedding and they walk away with what they want, but now they can’t have that (what they want) because somebody did it,” she says. “And I always remind them: You know what? If somebody else did it and you still want it, do it! Not every single person at that wedding is going to be at your wedding.” She says if you went to your friend and asked if you could copy an awesome idea they had at their wedding, they will more than likely say yes and tell you why it was so great…or why it wasn’t and steer you in a different direction.

 

“It’s not a competition. There’s only so many ideas that can go around,” says Stark. “Taking the good ones (ideas) and reproducing them is not a bad thing.” Even if you copied everything you saw at a wedding you loved, from the same vendors to the venue to the food and same playlist, it’s never going to be the same because the guests are different, and you are different. Stark says, “You’re not going to be exactly like your fiend’s weddings, it’s going to be different and more important you need to make it (your wedding) about yourselves. If you’re really simple people, make it a simple wedding; it doesn’t matter. People coming together and being able to enjoy themselves is not the most important thing, it SHOULD BE the thing. Everything else is just icing on the cake.”

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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30 truths you need to know about your wedding day (part 1)

One of the great things about having been a recent Hudson Valley bride is I can relate tidbits of information back to you, the engaged couple. They say hindsight is 20/20 and now that my wedding has been over for a few years, I can tell you there are at least 30 (maybe more) truths about your wedding that no one tells you…but really should.
 

Some of these may be a no-brainer, and some of these may come as a surprise – but either way, they are things you need to know. So, because this is such a long list, I’m going to give you 10 now, share another 10 with you next week, and the final 10 the week after that.
 

So, let’s begin, shall we…
 

Wedding Truth #1 – Your wedding day will be the BEST. DAY. EVER.

 

I know this sounds really cliché, but when I tell you it’s the best day ever, it really is. I thought I knew what walking on “Cloud 9” felt like before, but it wasn’t until our wedding day that I really knew what that meant. Why is it the best day ever? Because it’s the one day that encompasses every aspect of what makes something the best: excitement, love, family, friends, good food, good drinks, fun dancing, fairy tales, delicious dessert. Everyone that has ever meant anything to you is in one room together. The reality is, it’s probably the only time that will ever happen.
 

Wedding Truth # 2 – The most important part of your wedding is signing your marriage license

 

Ok, this is the unromantic truth. You can have the most gorgeous couture gown, have the most exquisite décor and flowers, have your meal prepare by a world-renowned chef, etc.; but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is signing your marriage license. Without that piece of paper, your marriage is not legal. It needs to be signed by both you and your spouse, and two witnesses, usually the maid of honor and best man.
 

 

Wedding Truth #3 – Always check your reception area

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

No matter where you have your wedding, and even if you have a wedding planner setting up the space, always check the reception area prior to guests entering the room for the formal reception. You need to do this for three reasons. One, it is a great moment for you and your new spouse to break away, get a moment to yourself, and really absorb the atmosphere, alone. When you are being announced and walking in to the space, you won’t have time to really enjoy the space and see it. Two, it gives you the opportunity to give it a once-over to make sure everything is placed the way you like it and to make sure nothing is off. For example, I noticed the flowers on my cake were missing, and if I hadn’t had that moment to notice it and have it fixed, it would have made it very awkward later on. It also gives you a chance to speak with your DJ to go over the intros. And three, it’s a great photo op to be in the center of the dance floor, just the two of you.
 

Wedding Truth #4 – You will be very warm all day.

 

Even if it’s the dead of winter, between the endorphins and adrenaline, being the center of attention, the excitement of the day, running around, and your dress and tux, you are going to be warm all day. I remember being outside taking pictures and some of my bridal party notice it was chilly, and I was hot, to the point of almost sweating – and I’m usually the one’s that always cold. And, let’s face it, a wedding gown, as pretty as it is, is made out of material that is not very breathable, same with tuxes. So, it’s essential to bring with you that day, things that keep you cool or help you deal with the heat. You can download your free wedding day packing checklist here.
 

Wedding Truth #5 – Never give your rings to kid or dog ring bearers.

 

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

I will be the first one any day to say kids and dogs make the cutest additions to your bridal party. However, cute does not always equal responsible. Your rings are expensive, and, just after your marriage license, they play the second-biggest role in your ceremony. They don’t say “With this ring, I thee wed” for nothing. Therefore, if you are having a little kid, or your dog be your ring bearer, they can walk down the aisle with a pillow or a little box tied around the dog’s collar for pictures, but make sure an adult has the rings at all times. Again, this is usually the responsibility of the best man or maid of honor. Anything can happen and the last thing you want is for the dog to see a squirrel and run off with the rings, or try to pull the box off the collar and chew it. Little kids, depending on their age, might chicken out, and not even make it down the aisle, so, you want to make sure the rings are in good hands, near you at all times.
 

Wedding Truth #6 – You may probably never see the photos your guests take.

 

Your guests will be taking photos all day, and I explained how creating a wedding hashtag makes it easy for you to gather all the photos guest post on social media. I also give you tips on what to do if you don’t want guests sharing photos on social media. However, the reality is most likely, you will only see a fraction of all the photos taken. This is because either the guest doesn’t think they are good enough photos that you would be interested in, or they just don’t have the time to email them or send you hard copies. For whatever reason, don’t expect to see many of them.
 

Wedding Truth #7 – You are going to feel gutted when your wedding ends.

 

The first truth I mentioned was your wedding day is your best day ever. That’s why, when the final song is played, when the last guests leave, when the house lights go up and the staff is packing up your wedding day décor, it’s gutting to think it’s all over. Yes, you have a whole lifetime to look forward to, which will bring with it days that are just as good, if not better. However, when something you’ve spent countless hours, days, and months working on is now over and done with, a little part of you thinks “Now what?” It’s very bittersweet.
 

Wedding Truth #8 – The most relieved you will feel is during your recessional.

 

“We did it!” was the first thing that came to my mind when the ceremony was over and we were leaving the church. I literally felt like a ton of bricks was just lifted off my shoulders. The formalities of the day were over, the worry about getting to the church on time, the anxiety of planning and making sure everything ran on schedule was over and now the fun could begin. When I look at those pictures of my husband and I walking down the aisle, we have the biggest smiles on our faces – pure euphoria.
 

Wedding Truth #9 – Some guests may come to the ceremony even if they are not invited to the wedding.

 

If you have a wedding in a house of worship, you may have guests show up who weren’t invited to the wedding. Think about it: If your reception is at the same place as your reception, it’s obvious there is a closed private event going on. However, houses of worship are open to the public, regardless of what is going on. To explain what I mean, how many times have you been to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and seen a wedding going on? It’s the same situation, just a different setting. Also, your wedding may appear in the house of worship’s bulletin or other announcements; so if a parishioner sees your listing – and maybe knows your parents – they may ask to come to the service only.
 

Wedding Truth #10 – Your bridal party relationships may change.

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

When you choose your bridal party, you choose the friends or family members who have always been there for you. Your bridal party could be as little as zero people – you don’t really need a bridal party – or upward of 10 or more. However, you need to realize that while those people have been important to you, and you plan on them being in your lives forever, relationships change. I don’t mean to end on a sad note, but friendships change with time. Things happen, through no fault of anyone. Also, just because you were in someone’s bridal party, does not mean you have to invite them to be in yours. Keep that in mind when choosing your party. If you have a lot of members who are there because you feel like you have to pay them back, rethink your choices. Do you want to look back at photos and think “Who was that?” or “Why did I ever invite them?”

 

Join us next week for part 2…
 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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Wedding DJ

Why hiring an experienced DJ for your wedding is a bad idea

Say what? No, this is not a typo; you read that correctly. You do not want an experienced DJ for your wedding; you want an experienced wedding DJ for your wedding.  Yes, there is a difference. Let me explain…

 

Actually, I’m going to let the experts explain it. Recently, we sat down with a few of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding DJs to learn more. First, it’s important to not underestimate the value of a DJ to your wedding. Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz, says, “One thing I wish they (couples) definitely knew was how important the DJ is to the wedding. We are right in the middle of every part of the wedding – from the first song played to the last song played – and it’s huge who you pick to DJ your wedding. No single vendor will have more of an impact on the wedding – good or bad – than the DJ.”

 

Let’s break this down a bit:

 

Wedding DJs manage the timeline of the night

 

First, you need to remember that a wedding is not like any other event. There is a certain ebb and flow to weddings and a certain format weddings follow which differs from traditional business events or other parties. That is why experience DJing weddings is so important.

 

Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor, says, weddings have two main components. In addition to playing music, the other, and more important, is management of the event. He says DJs “…can be the best DJ ever, but it’s irrelevant if the person managing the function can’t manage it properly.” He explains certain songs are played at receptions at certain times, mainly because they are taking guests into consideration. Older songs (oldies and classic rock n’ roll) are played earlier in the reception and newer songs are played later. That’s why, if you’ve ever gone to a wedding and requested a song and maybe had to wait a while for it to be played, it’s because the timing for that song wasn’t right.

 

Wedding DJs manage details

 

One of the details that sets an experienced wedding DJ apart is knowledge of the venue. This is important because they will be already familiar with the layout, load-in areas and the staff at the venue, making the day seamless.

 

Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls, says, he trains his staff to always have a watchful eye. He tells them “Be aware of what’s going on. If it concerns you or not, just be aware of what’s going on in a room.” He explains this is important because if he knows the couple is going to do something special, he can notify the photographer that something important is about to happen.

 

Garcia says, “With the photographers, we won’t do the cake cutting without checking with them first to make sure they are ready – same thing with the videographer.”

 

Garcia also explains, “If (wedding DJs) are doing their job, they are going over every detail from start to finish beforehand – sitting down with the couple, finding out what they want, what they are looking for and what they’re not looking for, and putting it all together in the timeline of events.”

 

David Fischer, DJ and president of M.C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, says wedding guests often look to the DJ as the one in charge because they are orchestrating all those moving parts. “We have to get with the other vendors; we have to get with the caterer to find out the timing of the meals,” he says. “I want a 10-minute heads-up because I don’t want to be blowing the roof off the joint and having 150 people sweating five minutes before they sit down to eat dinner.”

 

Wedding DJs know wedding trends

It’s one thing to know and keep up with trends in the music industry and DJ industry; but an experienced wedding DJ will also know the latest trends in weddings so they can properly manage the couple’s expectations.

 

Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro, says a DJ can be “experienced for 25 plus years. The key to experience is evolving and changing with the trends of weddings from the entertainment perspective. … Do they have experience? Absolutely. They have many years of experience. But that experience doesn’t necessarily transition to a good time. … To be a professional (wedding) DJ, you must adapt to complement what your couples desire.”

 

If you’ve already chosen your DJ, what advice do you have for others looking to choose theirs? If you are a wedding DJ, what parts of a wedding do you think are most overlooked by couples?

 

Photo Credit: Jade DJ Entertainment

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Just engaged? 3 important things you should and should not do

An engagement is an exciting time, to say the least. Take it from me, it’s very, very easy to feel a little (or a lot) like your mind has turned to mush after your significant other pops the question, especially if it was a surprise and comes out of nowhere.
 

My engagement came as such a surprise, I think I blanked out for a while. Seriously, I don’t remember anything. Everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion. I don’t remember hearing any sounds, I can’t even tell you what my husband said to me. I just remember seeing my husband kneel, the ring shimmering in its box, and crying with joy, then feeling an overwhelming sense of “Oh, my God, we have a wedding to plan!”
 

There’s such a flood of so many emotions, and perhaps you might feel a little overwhelmed. Who do you call? What is your next step? When do you start planning? How do you make sense of everything that just happened?
 

From my experience, there are three things you should and three things you should not do once you get engaged.
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should NOT do…

 

Number 1 – Social media

 

I know this might sound crazy to some of you, but as I mentioned in earlier post, sharing wedding-related details on social media is a bad idea. I know we live in an age of immediate gratification and satisfaction, and I’m sure getting a ton of congratulations on social media is very heartwarming; but trust me, this is one instance in which you want to make sure you’re the gatekeeper and control the news. I know you’ve probably waited a long time to change your status to “engaged,” but why is it so important to do it right away?
 

Number 2 – Do not plan anything yet

 

When your mind is running in a million-and-one different directions and your adrenaline is pumping, that is not the time to even think about planning one bit of your wedding. If you are like me, that almost seems like an impossible feat. “What do you mean don’t plan?”
 

It’s very easy to blurt out what you think you want your wedding to be like; but honestly, take a few weeks once you’ve gotten over the shock and excitement, once you’ve kind of floated back down to reality, to really start to plan. Wedding expos are a great way to get acclimated to the wedding world you’ve now entered. In fact, here are ways you can prepare for your first bridal show.
 

Number 3 – Do not make statements you can’t follow-up on

 

What do I mean by this? It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the moment. You are going to be inundated with congratulatory well wishes from everyone and their uncle. People are going to start asking you questions right away like “When’s the date?” or “Where is it going to be?” or “How big is it going to be?” Just tell them the truth. One way to quell the onslaught of questions or to put those who are pushing to be on your guest list at bay is simply by saying, “We really haven’t had much time to think about it yet,” or “We’re thinking of a small wedding – just family and close friends.” Don’t tell your co-workers they’ll all be invited if you don’t know for sure. Don’t make grand gestures without spending time with your fiancé to really hash out the details.
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should do (in no particular order)

 

Number 1 – Call your parents, siblings, and anyone in on the engagement first

 

Think about it: Your significant other most likely asked your dad and/or mom for permission to marry you, so they are waiting on baited breath to find out how everything went and if there was a “yes.” Sometimes the family might have even been in on the surprise as well, coordinating efforts to get you to the right place at the right time, maybe telling little white lies in the process. They are going to want to know right away, so make sure your immediate family knows.
 

But here’s the thing: Make sure you tell them not to spread the word, that you will be calling others later. Make sure they know you want to be the one telling others. Why is this important? Well, wouldn’t you like to hear from the engaged couple personally instead of hearing the news through the grapevine?
 

Number 2 – Enjoy the moment

 

YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED!!! Seriously, once you get the important phone calls out of the way, enjoy the moment. Stop everything, actually look and examine your ring in all its beauty, spend time with your fiancé, get the scoop on how it all went down. Literally, just let it all sink in, take a deep breath, and enjoy. Things will get busy quickly, so this may be the only time for a long while that you may have just to enjoy your new status. Being a fiancé lasts but for a little while, so practice using that term. It’s really a lot of fun and, if you are like me, makes you a little giddy, too!
 

Number 3 – Do something special to celebrate…alone

 

This is a big step, a life-changing occasion, a moment that you will remember forever. Depending on the situation, if your family witnessed the engagement, there may be something already planned to celebrate. If that’s the case, make sure you also set aside alone time with your fiancé to celebrate.
 

If nothing has been planned, go out to dinner, have some nice wine, go out for ice cream, whatever. But do something special to celebrate, just the two of you, alone. I can’t stress alone enough. There will be time to celebrate with family and friends, but right now, this is your moment. Enjoy it!
 

How did you celebrate your engagement? Do you have pictures of your proposal?

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Social Media and Your Wedding: What You Need to Know

It’s hard to remember a time before social media was such a big part of daily life. It’s almost second nature now to go directly to your favorite social media outlet and share news, especially exciting news, like your wedding.

 

When you got engaged, the first thing that probably came to mind was to immediately change your status. Got a gorgeous ring? Then you need to show it off? Got your invites? Went for a tasting? Booked a venue? Got your dress? Got your tuxedo? Then people need to know, right? Wrong!

 

Getting engaged is an exciting and life-changing moment – there’s no doubt about that – and being able to share your wedding planning journey and eventual wedding day with others is a normal and natural response. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that social media is bad; but when it comes to your wedding day, there are some things to consider when it comes to social media, regardless how “social” you are in your normal everyday doings.

 

When it comes to your engagement…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

It’s completely normal to want to share your good news with everyone, but think about the people connected to you on social media. How many of them are really good friends and how many are just really good acquaintances? How many do you see or speak to on a regular basis? Does everyone need to know that instant? Do you REALLY want all those people to know, or do you just like the feeling you get when you get acknowledgments and likes? I don’t mean to sound harsh here, but think about what your urgency is to want to post on social media right away.

 

If you do want to post the good news, make sure you set the privacy setting so only those you really want to know can see. If you only want certain people to know, you might just want to pick up the phone and call them. I, for one, would much rather find out through a phone call that my friend got engaged than to see it online first, then get a call. There’s something very distant and informal about sending such great news via the Internet instead of face-to-face (or via phone call or Skype or Facetime).

 

When it comes to wedding planning…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Posting every detail about your wedding planning, while you mean it to be innocent, can have adverse effects. Some people may automatically assume since you are sharing all your planning details with them on Facebook they will be invited to your wedding. Then, what happens if they aren’t? Just try to put yourself in their shoes. While most may not care, some may. Think about the folks that you are ‘friends’ with and how many of them will actually be invited. Again, not to sound harsh here, but unless your friends or family are in the wedding or helping you plan it, most people don’t really care about every little detail. It may come across as annoying or gloating to folks, even though you don’t mean it to be.

 

When it comes to your wedding…

 

Posting pictures of your wedding day kind of goes along the same lines as proclaiming your engagement. For your online “friends” who thought they might be invited, but who weren’t – because, let’s face it, every wedding guest list has to be cut at some point – you may be causing a lot of hurt and resentment.

 

Also, if you are like me and value privacy, sharing wedding day photos to your friends online means you are really sharing them with the world. If someone you know shares one of your photos, do you know who they are sharing it with? Anyone can save that photo and do whatever they want with it. Do you really want complete strangers seeing photos of your private, personal day? If that may be a concern for you, don’t post. It’s best just to email people some photos, or invite them to view your album online from the photographer.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Also, this is MAJOR, beware of copyrights. If you plan on sharing photos on social media, make sure you own the copyrights or have written permission from the photographer to do so. Most Photographers will put a watermark on photos and will say that if you want to use photos on social media to please keep the watermark on for that reason. If they say you can use the photos and they don’t have a watermark, make sure you give kudos to the photographer anyway. When you think about it, you are giving them free publicity, so pay it forward and make sure you tag them in the photo or post.

 

Lastly, you know your guests are going to take photos. However, if you do not want photos of your day shared online, you need to make it specifically clear to them either in the invitation or at the wedding (such as in your program or signage at the event). Otherwise, it will happen. If you don’t mind that guests share your photos, you can make it known to your guests that it’s ok by creating a hashtag and posting that hashtag in the same way.

 

What are your thoughts? Are you, or have you, shared photos or details of your wedding on social media? What was the feedback you received?

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