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Lavish Hudson Valley Wedding at Whitby Castle

When you think of the Hudson Valley weddings, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Castle weddings probably aren’t on the top of your list, but this stunningly regal and lavish wedding at Whitby Castle in Rye, NY will have thinking otherwise.
 

Jamie and Dale got engaged in Paris, and so a castle wedding was only fitting! Their wedding was dripping in gorgeous details…from jewelry, to flowers, to signage, this couple has exquisite taste, and their wedding photographers, The Ramsdens, captured every detail perfectly.
 


 

Vendors…
 

Venue: Whitby Castle

Bride & Bridemaid’s Dressess: Lady Gray Bridal

Hair: Lulu’s Hair Studio

Flowers: The Flower Barn

String Trio: Capriccio Ensemble

DJ: Enriquez Entertainment

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Maltese Cross

3 Ways I Incorporated My Maltese Heritage Into My Wedding

Here’s a little fact about me. I’m Maltese. Usually when I tell people that they literally look at me like I have two heads. The conversation usually goes like this…

 

“Mal-what?” they ask.

 

“I’m Maltese!” I say.

 

“Oh, like the dog?”

 

“Well, not exactly. My family comes from Malta?”

 

“Malta? What’s that?”

 

“An island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily”

 

“Oh, so…your Italian?”

 

“Nope. Maltese.”

 

Malta

Photo taken by my cousin

Then I go into my favorite part where I get to talk about Malta. How it’s a country composed of three “tiny” islands (about 200 sq miles) between Sicily and North Africa with a population a little over 400,000. How it has some of the oldest ancient ruins on earth that predate the pyramids of Egypt. How it has its own unique language (Middle Eastern/Arabic with a mix of English, French and Italian) that’s the only Semitic language that’s written in the Latin alphabet. I could go on and on because I love educating people about Malta.

 

I’m first generation American on my father’s side, second generation on my mother’s side. In fact, if you do the math, I’m probably more Maltese than American (though I’m proud of both my heritages equally). But here’s the ironic part…I’ve never been to Malta (yet).

 

I’ve come close twice. Once in college when I was studying abroad in Europe (but wasn’t allowed to travel outside of the group I was with) and once the year I got married, when my cousins went. I couldn’t go then because between saving and planning for a wedding and saving for a house, it just wasn’t financially possible at the time. So, visiting is still on my bucket list.

 

That being said, because I’m so proud of where my family comes from, it was very important to me to incorporate my Maltese heritage into my wedding. I’ve said over and over that one of the best things about weddings is that it’s a great opportunity for the couple, even though they are coming together as one, to showcase their induvial styles, religions, heritages, cultures, etc. So, here’s what I did…

 

RELATED: 3 UNIQUE WAYS TO SAY ‘THIS IS US’ AT YOUR WEDDING

 

I incorporated my Maltese heritage in the details

 

Maltese Cross

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” This is a rhyme brides know all too well. The “new” was easy…that was my dress. The “blue” was easy…stickers I put on the bottom of my shoe that read “I Do.”

 

The “old” and “borrowed” was tricky. I was trying to figure out what those could be and then my mom had an idea to look through her jewelry box.

 

As we were going through the box which is full of family heirlooms, I found a magnificent filigree Maltese Cross pin that belonged to my grandmother as well as some lace she made. Making filigree jewelry and lace are traditional Maltese arts. My thought was to use them both on my bouquet. While I opted, in the end, not to use my grandmother’s lace (for fear of getting it stained from the flowers, or oils from my hand), I did have lace wrapped around my bouquet as homage to her and attached the pin to it. (There’s another story here on how I lost the pin on my wedding day and miraculously found it the next day…but that’s a whole other story for a whole different day).

 

I incorporated my Maltese heritage through romantic proverbs

 

Maltese wedding

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

My husband is Irish, so Irish wedding traditions and blessing are easy to find. Maltese wedding traditions and blessings, not so much.

 

Most Maltese are Roman Catholic, in fact, we’re some of the oldest Catholics in the world, dating back to 60 A.D. So, other than having a full Roman Catholic mass wedding, it was really hard for me to find ways to incorporate Maltese wedding blessings. Not to mention, the Maltese language is very complex, so I needed to find blessings that also had English translations.

 

I thought a cool thing to do would be to have Gaelic and Maltese love proverbs scattered on the tables during cocktail hour. I went online to see what I could find, because we know that if it’s online it must be “true”, right (haha!), and held my breath that what I found was correct (I’m not too fluent in the language). My saving grace was that if they weren’t right, only a few people would know. Thankfully, I have a cousin in Malta who looked over the sayings and said that, for the most part, they were right, so I went with it.

 

RELATED: 4 THINGS YOUR GUESTS REALLY WANT AT YOUR WEDDING
 

I honored my Maltese heritage by keeping my last name

 

My last name, Zammit, is not common at all over here in the States, but in Malta, my last name is like Smith or Jones here. It’s very common.

 

When couples marry, 98% of the time the bride takes the groom’s name. However, I didn’t want to lose my very Maltese name. Now, I know no one can take my heritage away from me, but without my last name, no one would be able to tell, from the outside, what or who I am. It’s very much a part of my identity and how I define myself.

 

A disclaimer here is that changing your name is a very personal decision. Everyone is going to have a different reason for changing or keeping their name, and whatever you decide is correct. For me, I wanted to keep my name but also honor my husband and our unity by taking his name as well, so, I hyphenate my last name.

 

Hopefully, learning how I incorporated my heritage into my wedding will give you some ideas on how you can do the same for your wedding. What specific part of your heritage or culture are you incorporating into your wedding? We’d love to know.
 
Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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Creative Ways To Make A Wedding Guest Book You’ll Love For Years To Come

For the longest time, I never really got the point of a wedding guest book.

 

I mean, you know who you’re inviting to your wedding, you know who’s coming to your wedding, and between your shower and wedding, every guest gives you a card with a nice sentiment written in it, so why do you need a guest book? Right?

 

Well, in the last 7-10 years, guest books have really taken on a life of their own. This once minute and somewhat boring detail of a wedding has now really grown into something really special and personal. No longer are they a formality, but a very personal creative keepsake of your wedding day. From thumbprint trees to puzzles and everything in between, guest books are rarely ever books anymore.

 

Because this detail is often something that’s very personal, many couples tend to DIY it, or at least purchase one on Etsy, made by someone else. Since it’s a very crafty and creative element of your day, we decided to reach out the largest DIY wedding resource to get their insights into what you can do for your guest book at your wedding.

 

RELATED: DIY WEDDINGS: 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW

 

Do you need a guest book?

 

wedding guest book

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo and Video

The short answer is no. You can have whatever you want at your wedding, and you can also eliminate whatever you want at your wedding. Actually, most of the weddings I’ve gone to haven’t had a guest book at all! Remember, like I always say, there are no ‘rules’ when it comes to weddings.

 

Why have a guest book?

 

“Guest Books are a staple piece for the bride and groom so they can remember who came to their wedding or wedding shower,” says Debbie Louis, owner of the DIY Bride website and chief wedding planner and designer of A La Mode Events .“It also allows the guest the opportunity to share a memorable message (congratulatory or well wishes) to the couple… It can also be creative to represent the theme of the wedding.”

 

Just like your photos, your guest book is a tangible memento from your day. It’s really cool to look back years later at something people sign or create on the day of your wedding. Imagine your little flower girl or ring bearer signing their name the way little kids do, and then looking back at it 10 years later when that little guy or girl is now a teenager. Imagine seeing a message in your grandparent’s own handwriting and having that sentiment to keep forever.

 

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

 

What kind of guest book should you have?

 

If you are going to do a guest book, I’m a big proponent of not having anything at your wedding that you can’t reuse again. So, I’m always in favor of having a guest book that you can actually use or display in your home. My first thought is to make this something fun. Look at your style, your passions, interest or decorating style to give you an inspirational starting point. Louis says “I Love pictures that tell a story, colors or a theme. You can get über creative with these simple three things. But you should dig deep and figure out what you love in order to properly personalize.”

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

For example, my husband loves baseball, especially the New York Yankees. Knowing that I didn’t want just a plain old book, I thought about something that was a bit of a novelty, something that was different, and something that we could hang in our new home. After doing a bit of research, we decided that our guest book would be a baseball bat with our names and date etched into it that everyone could sign. It was a HUGE hit!! People loved it and were talking about it for weeks after. In fact, one guest wrote on the knob (the bottom part of the bat) “Best guest book ever!” It’s now hanging in our home office. I guess we knocked that one ‘out of the park!’ Sorry, more bad puns…I can’t help myself.

 

Anyway…take a look at your overall theme, what makes you happy and choose something that really depicts your personality and something that will be fun for your guests as well.

 

What are some unique, easy and personal types of guest books?

 

“Some really cool guest book ideas are puzzle pieces,” says Louis. She also suggests if you love to travel, you can have people sign decorated globes, or another idea is to have guests sign a photo mat surrounding an engagement photo which you can then frame and hang in your home. You can make a photo book and have everyone sign it. “Also the photo strips from a photo booth are usually easy and classic,” Louis says.

 

So, we want to know if you are having a guest book, and, if so, what type of ‘book’ is it going to be?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo and Video

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What You Need to Know About the Tone of Your Invites

There’s something about sending out wedding invitations, even more so than save the dates, that makes your wedding feel ‘real.’ This mailing will determine so much going forward. It determines your final guest count, it starts the ball rolling for seating charts, it gives you an idea of what your guests would like to eat, and believe me when I tell you that the first RSVP card you get back will make you squeal like a baby!
 

From the guest’s perspective, your invite is a treasure trove! Believe it or not, your invite is sending messages to your guests that go far beyond the who, what, where, and when.
 

Your invitations are actually giving your guests a sneak peek into you, as a couple and your style, and for some guests, that may be the first time they see this side of you. We already spoke about save the dates and what you need to know about them, but today we’re going to discuss wedding invitations in general.
 

Before we get down to the nitty gritty specifics in future posts, we want you to know that your invite is so much more than just a piece of paper. We asked local invitation experts to share their knowledge with you so that when it’s time for you to choose your invitations, you’re better prepared to make decisions. The unknown causes stress. My motto is: The more informed you are, the less stressed you get.
 

RELATED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SAVE THE DATES

 

Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding

 

Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

Most invitation experts agree that your invitation sets the tone for your wedding. Amy Eddy and Stephanie McHoul, owners of Graphic Nature, LLC, in Fishkill, sum it up nicely in the motto of their business: “You set the date. We set the tone.” Eddy says,“”it’s the only thing your guests receive ahead of the wedding to indicate what kind of event they are going to.” McHoul says your invite is your guests first look into what your day is going to be like and that ”The invitation is always going to be a timeless reminder” of that day.
 

”Nowadays everything is custom, and that’s what we do,” says Eddy. “Invitations should set the tone for the wedding, should reflect the couple, the day, it’s the only thing your guests are receiving that they can keep if they like.” And remember, it’s also one of the few mementos you and your family will keep also.
 

Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Your wedding invitation is a reflection of you both as a couple and your personality. It is also your guest’s first glimpse of the feel and vibe of your wedding.” He suggests that before you select your invitations (and there is a reason why invitations are one of the last things you do in your planning process…more on that in future posts) to talk to each other about what you want your wedding to look like and if you want any special theming. He says Pinterest is a great venue for inspiration but the great thing about custom invites is that you can make them whatever you want. “We suggest that you save these ideas, and share them with us when we have our first meeting,” he said. “We specialize in creating completely unique invitations; we can even combine ideas or themes from you!” So, if you want a classic elegant and formal look, and your partner wants a sporty theme, going custom can help you achieve that, and also gives your guests an opportunity to get to know you better.
 

Kristal Walden, owner Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, reiterates a lot of the same points, saying your invite “sets the tone for the actual day, it sets the tone for the wedding, it sets the tone for what your guests are going to experience, what your guests are going to expect.” She tries to capture the couples personality in each and every design, because “You don’t want to pick a design that your guests are going to look at and say ‘this isn’t them!’ It needs to be you.”
 

RELATED: THE ONE THING THAT CAN RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WAYS TO PREVENT IT

 

Which brings me to my last point. If reading all that makes you even more stressed and worried about if you are going to do something “wrong,” don’t worry! Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says there are no wrong choices and if you don’t want an invite that matches your theme, that’s OK! In the grand scheme, outside of you and your family “Nobody is even really going to remember what your invitations look like. The only ones who keep their invitations are the moms and the bride,” Stark says. “Go with what you like, go with what you can afford…it can be part of your theme, it can be something that sets the tone, but it doesn’t have to.”
 

Wedding invitation trends

 

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics, Inc.

Remember, D’Elia said Pinterest is a great source for invite inspiration. However, scouring through Pinterest can be somewhat daunting if you don’t even know where to begin. So, we wanted to know what some of the latest trends real couples are choosing for their wedding invitations. Eddy and McHoul say the biggest trends they are seeing for the fall are softer neutral gold tones and deeper jewel-toned colors.
 

D’Elia says a lot of his couples have been requesting foil to make their invitations stand out. “Another trend we see is pocket invitations, which includes the invitation and wedding details (RSVP, accommodation card, hotel information, etc.) in one pocket. This is a very elegant and classy look and organizes all important wedding information into one place,” he says. Lastly, he points out that some couples even want that “WOW” factor…everything from custom shapes, laser-cut paper to look like lace, 3D effects known as quilling, to even invitations that light up…with real lights!! He says, “We even created wedding treasure maps and timelines as invitations.” So, as you can see, there is no right or wrong here. It really boils down to your personal preference and your budget.
 

In the next few weeks, we are going to dive deeper into the invite specifics, with a very special infographic to help you navigate the world of wedding invitations.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Design by Kristal Walden, photo by The Ramsdens

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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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