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4 Things Your Guests Really Want At Your Wedding

Engagement season is fast approaching and the new year may have you in the depths of wedding planning sooner than you think. But, before you dive deep into planning every little detail, you might be interested to know that what you think your guests want – or would find important – may differ vastly from what they actually want. They don’t care as much about the details as you would think.
 

When you plan your wedding, it’s important, first and foremost, to not see it as a competition. Your wedding day is not a day to “out-do” your friends or family members. It’s a day to celebrate your love for each other and your new beginning. It’s about tradition, rituals and is a sacred moment in your life.
 

One of my pet peeves is when couples get so caught up in the details and stress out over the minutia, that they forget the entire purpose and meaning of the day. However, it’s very easy to get caught up in that frenzy because we’re bombarded every day with photos, Pinterest Boards, videos, and language that suggests that if we don’t do something a “certain” way, or if we don’t have a certain “thing” then we’re doing it wrong and our wedding will be ruined FOREVER!! As a blogger, I’m very aware of this.
 

Am I right? Just reading that stresses me out. As a blogger, I’m very aware of this.
 

RELATED: 5 SECRETS TO BEING AN AWESOME WEDDING GUEST

 

So, I want to give you permission to take a deep breath, take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. If you really want to know what your guests want at your wedding, the easiest thing to do is look back at the times you were a guest a wedding. What do you remember most? What did you enjoy the most? What did you not like? Chances are, whatever your answers are to those questions, are exactly what your guests want.
 

But it really breaks down into these four categories (in no particular order):
 

Your wedding guests want to feel included and appreciated

 

No matter how large or small your wedding is, your guests want to feel appreciated for being there on your special day. However you want to do this is up to you, but most couples will go around to every table to talk to their guests during the meal, or may even do a receiving line. Some may thank their guests in a speech or toast or may give them special favors or goodie bags for guest staying in the designated accommodations.
 

My suggestion, if you really want to do something special for your guests, is to write them a little message or note on the back of, or attached to, their escort card as to why them being at your wedding means so much to you…and not because they gave you a gift.
 

Your wedding guests want to have a good meal

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love food? For me, personally, nothing says love more than a home-cooked meal. However, since you aren’t going to be cooking your wedding food (PLEASE, don’t DIY this part of your day. Leave that to the experts), when choosing your food, think about what people love, or what people may not have all the time that they can indulge in a bit.
 

My advice would be to choose a selection of food that is interesting and unique mixed with a nice array of comfort food. The more choices you have the better. I always love variety. Now, this doesn’t mean break the bank. Look at the offerings your venue provides and go from there.
 

If food is really important to you, and you have room in your budget, go ahead and choose add-ons. Maybe add on a sushi bar or a s’mores dessert bar or a mac n’ cheese bar. Something that’s fun, interactive and can, for a moment, bring people back to their childhood. I was at a wedding once that had an ice cream sundae bar, and I literally saw grown men run across the dance floor from the other side of the room to get their ice cream and make their sundae. It was hysterical and so much fun!
 

RELATED: THE LITTLE WEDDING IN THE WOODS AND WHAT IT TAUGHT ME

 

Your wedding guests want to have a good time

 

Your guests are at your wedding to celebrate your marriage, but at the end of the day, your guests want to have a good time, too.
 

Let’s think about this for a second. How often, do you, personally, get dressed up, go out, have a nice meal, go dancing, or spend the night away from home? I’m guessing not too often. So, this is a chance for your guests to let loose and celebrate and forget about whatever is going on in their lives for a night.
 

However, having a good time means different things to different people. Some couples just want a quiet reception that’s an intimate dinner for a small group. Some want an all-out party. The thing to remember is that no matter what kind of reception you want, you aren’t going to make everyone happy, and that’s ok.
 

If you have a quiet dinner, there are always going to be guests that wished there was dancing. If you know who those guests are, and if you are up for it, perhaps you can do an after-party at a nearby venue.
 

If you decide to have a big dance party, there are going to be guests that aren’t going to dance no matter waht song is played. Make sure you seat people together in a way where they aren’t left at a table by themselves when everyone else at their table is on the dance floor. If you can, seat the dancers with the dancers and the non-dancers with the non-dancers so that they have someone to talk to. Or, you can ask your DJ to play some songs that you know you won’t dance to, and take that time to go over to your non-dancing guests and talk to them for a few minutes.
 

Your wedding guests do not want to be too inconvenienced

 

While your guests want to have a good time, they also don’t want to be too inconvenienced. Again, being inconvenienced means different things to different people, but to me, one of the biggest inconveniences is having your wedding venue and reception site really far away from each other. It’s understandable that your ceremony and reception will be at different locations, but when your two locations are too far away from each other, then you risk the chance of some guests just going to the ceremony and not the reception (or vice versa).
 

I’d say 30 minutes is a good distance, but 45 minutes to an hour is the absolute max distance your venues should be from each other. The closer the better, especially if you’re planning a wedding in the winter months when the threat of snow could be an absolute problem.
 

Another inconvenience could be requiring your guests to follow a specific dress code. You may want a black-tie affair, but asking your guests to follow that means most will have to go out and by a formal gown or rent a tux, and that might be a problem for some.
 

Here’s a hint…your location will set the tone for your wedding, and, if your guests do a little bit of homework (or if you post photos of your venue on your wedding website), your guests will get clues as to how to dress. If you are having a backyard wedding or a barn wedding, chances are your guests aren’t going to come dressed dripping in sequence and pearls. However, if you are having your wedding at a grand estate on New Year’s Eve, they’ll know they have to step it up a notch.
 
What are some of the things you loved or hated at weddings you’ve attended? What are some special ways you are making your guests feel super special at your wedding?
 

Featured Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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7 questions you need to ask your wedding DJ

If you’ve been a faithful follower of the blog, you know that our main purpose is to help eliminate the learning curve many couples face. One of the best ways to eliminate that learning curve is by knowing what questions to ask. Not all questions are created equal. You can go online and download lists of questions to ask your particular vendors, such as a photographer or florist, but that only gets you so far.
 

The thing is if you ask the questions, do you even know what answer you should be looking for in return? If a photographer says they use a certain type of equipment, do you know anything about that piece of equipment or what it does? If a venue says they supply a certain type of chair or tables, do you know what those chairs or tables look like and why they are better than other tables or chairs?
 

Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor says “Everyone always asks ‘What kind of equipment do you use?’, ‘What kind of lighting do you have?’, ‘What are your backups…?’ Those are great questions but are a bit generic. Asking the right questions AND knowing what answers to expect is essential for hiring the right vendors. Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro says “Knowledge comes with experience…Be sure to ask the right questions.”
 

Weddings are expensive, and the last thing you want is to invest a lot of money and have regrets at the end.
 

So, today, we’ve asked top Hudson Valley DJ’s to share the questions you really should be asking when choosing your wedding DJ AND the answers you should expect to receive.
 

How long have you been in business and what kind of events to you DJ the most?

 

Experience is key and comes with a price. That’s part of what you need to consider in your investment. Being underpriced could be a red flag that your DJ is new to the industry and are low-balling their rates to book couples fast just build up their experience and portfolio. But do you really want to pay less for inexperience, or do you want to invest more to ensure your day is one in which people really enjoy themselves? In addition to low-balling their price, you can tell how much experience a wedding DJ has based on the questions they ask YOU! Nikola says “Make sure the DJ isn’t just selling you too hard. If they truly want to be engaged in entertaining your guests, they will be interested in what the couples have to say.”
 

RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ FOR YOUR WEDDING IS A BAD IDEA

 

Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz says that asking your DJ what kind of events they usually work will also tell you a lot about the value you get with your investment. For example, if they primarily work in clubs or do a lot of charity galas or birthday parties, you are going to get a different type of “entertainment” than if you hired a DJ that does strictly weddings, with a few of those other events on the side.
 

Looking at their reviews online will help a lot with determining what types of events they do. This research allows you to see what their presence is in the wedding world. Hiring a DJ in the same vicinity of your wedding is important. Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie says “Local is important. Have they been to the venue? Do they know where they set up?” If you have an experienced DJ, who may not have been to your venue because maybe it’s a new venue, the DJ should ask to come to a site visit with you or ask for a contact at the venue to set up their own site visit. You want them to do this, but they should be suggesting that first. See if they do. If they do, you know they are on top of their game.
 

How do you entertain?

 

Trocino says “Another important question to ask is how they entertain…do they talk and entertain your guests to get them engaged?” Some DJ’s are more outgoing than others. Let’s face it, people are different. Some people are quiet and laid back, some are outgoing and the life of the party. Some people are introverts, some are extroverts. And guess what? Whatever type of person your DJ is comes out through their style of MCing and entertaining. And guess what else? Introverted and extroverted people make AWESOME DJ’s! Sometimes, you may just want someone to play music and not speak too much or interact with your guests. Sometimes, you may want a DJ that really gets involved with the guests and interacts with them all night. Sometimes, you may want someone in the middle. There’s a DJ for every type of couple, but it’s important to know that information before you book. If you want a lively off-the-hook party, you want to hire a DJ with that same personality, otherwise, you may be in for a surprise.
 

Where do you get your music from?

 

Have you ever thought about where music comes from? Mahan says “Another question people need to ask is ‘Where do you get your music?’ Is it ripped off YouTube or Videos?” Back in the day, I remember uploading all my CDs to iTunes so that I could listen to them digitally on the go. But did you know that professional DJs subscribe to different websites and organizations that provide them with the best quality version of songs? Your DJ should not be getting their music from sources that are not made specifically for industry professionals. The quality just won’t be as good, not to mention, ripping music from somewhere is unethical.
 

Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls says to also ask how the DJ mixes their music. He says “Make sure the DJ is mixing the music live and not using a prerecorded mix. Mixing live at an event is when you are actually blending the two songs together to make them sound like one. It helps to build that energy and that vibe and getting people dancing.”
 

RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE COUPLES MAKE WHEN HIRING THIER DJ

 

Who’s coming to my wedding?

 

In the DJ industry, just like with many other vendors, they can be a “Single-Op” company, meaning one DJ runs the company and is the DJ that will be at your wedding, or a “Multi-Op” company meaning there are many DJ’s working for the same company. You want to ask this question so you make sure that the person you are speaking to during the planning process is also the same person who will be at your wedding. Why is this important? DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls says, “This is the person who is going to announce your name over the microphone, interact with your guests, do things like move you from entrance to first dance to toast, to parent dances, in a style that fits what you want as a couple. And then this is the person who is going to pick music for you and your friends to dance to.” Essentially, you want to build that rapport with your DJ throughout your entire planning process.
 

Do you have insurance and what kind?

 

All wedding vendors should have insurance. If they don’t, that’s a big red flag and you should walk away. In fact, many wedding venues won’t work with a vendor unless they have insurance. DJs, at a bare minimum, should have liability insurance, but many will have more. Why do they need insurance if they are just playing music? Well, it’s protecting you and them from the “What if’s”. What if…someone trips and falls on their wiring? What if…someone has a reaction to the fog machine? You can never be too careful and everyone wants to make sure they are protected from the unforeseen.
 

Do you bring backup equipment and where do you keep it?

 

You should always ask your DJ if they have backup equipment and they should always say yes. However, that’s not the end of that question. Where they keep their backup equipment is just as important. Mahan says you want to know this because “What happens, if, heaven forbid, your first dance cuts out? What would they do? What’s their process? What do they have in place to happen if your first dance cuts out?” He says their backups should always be set up and ready to go and not packed in their van. If we take his example of your first dance cutting out, and their backup equipment is in the car, then everything is put on hold because they have to go to their car, unload, set-up and then start again. If their backup system is set up and ready to go, they can easily make that switch so seamlessly that you may not even realize there was a problem in the first place.
 

RELATED: AVOID THESE 3 MISTAKES WHEN CHOOSING MUSIC FOR YOUR WEDDING

 

How long should a “Must Play” or “Do Not Play” list be?

 

We spoke in another blog post about how you need to be able to trust your DJ to play songs that you like and that will bring your guests to their feet and give everyone a night they will enjoy. However, there are some songs that a couple loves and really wants them played as well some songs couples can’t stand and don’t want to be played at all! Swatek says “Couples should ask how long a must play or a do not play list should be.” He says 10 to 15 songs is a good amount to give a DJ because it gives the DJ a good direction of where to go with the music while giving a couple a say in music.
 

Have you found your DJ? Were they able to answer all your questions? Did they say anything to you that cause a red flag to go up?

 

Featured Photo Credit: DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style

 

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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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make this mistake and you’ll ruin your fall wedding

 

Fall is FINALLY here! If you are a Hudson Valley couple dreaming of getting married in the fall and are in the midst of planning your wedding, you probably realized very quickly that just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean wedding ‘season’ is over.

 

In fact, it’s far from over. If you think about it, fall is the perfect time to get married in the Hudson Valley. The heat and humidity are both usually all gone by now (which is good, because we learned that you most-likely will be running hot all day), Mother Nature gives you beautiful fall foliage as the perfect backdrop to your photos, the ‘rush’ of the summer with everyone going on vacation has come to an end, and pumpkin and apple spice is in!

 

I was a fall bride, October to be exact, and for me, getting married in the fall was a no-brainer! My husband and I both have birthdays in October (in fact, in just October alone, half the month is full of birthdays…15 birthdays in one month!), so it was only fitting that we add to the festivities with a wedding.

 

Thankfully, we had a somewhat long engagement, which to us, seemed perfectly reasonable. We wanted to take our time and not be stressed, but the other part of that reasoning was because we wanted a fall wedding. But not just any fall wedding, a Hudson Valley fall wedding and we quickly found out what that meant!

 

RELATED: 13 OF THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES ENGAGED COUPLES MAKE REVEALED

 

I’m going to tell you what that means in a second, but first, the biggest mistake you can make when planning your Hudson Valley fall wedding is NOT GIVING YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME AND NOT PLANNING AHEAD! If you don’t follow this simple rule, you will be setting yourself up for a ton of stress and possible heartache.

 

Here’s why…

 

Fall is the new summer

 

September is the busiest month for weddings, followed by June and October which are tied as the second busiest months. Yes, October is the new June. Just check out these stats:

 

In 2016, just in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Putnam Counties alone, 728 weddings took place in September, and 623 weddings took place in BOTH June AND October (Source: The Wedding Report)

 

That means competition! Competition for fall dates with other Hudson Valley couples, and competition with other couples NOT from the Hudson Valley who want to get married here at the same time you do.

 

If you truly want a fall wedding, you need to give yourself the appropriate time to plan.

 

Vendors book fast

 

Because of this competition and this wedding version of supply and demand, the ratio of weddings to weekends to vendors is disproportionate. That means, your vendors will book FAST for fall weddings!

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

This was a great shock to me when I attended my first wedding expo to hear vendors, in January, saying they were booked for October of the same year. Hence our extended engagement. We wanted October, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, so we had to wait. However, if the time of year doesn’t really matter to you, you have a lot more flexibility.

 

Now, if you’re vendor has multiple people working for them, otherwise known as a multi-op, such as DJs or photographers, you may have a little better luck simply because they have more people who can service more weddings on the same day. However, if your vendor is like most, it is one person, who can only be at one place at one time.

 

Before you choose your fall date, I highly recommend you call or visit a few vendors to get a feel for what their calendar looks like to see what dates are available. The last thing you want is to get your heart set on a date, and then find out all your dream vendors and venue are booked.

 

It is a bit of a dance at first, but it’s totally and completely worth it if you want a fall wedding in the Hudson Valley.

 

RELATED:  9 CRUCIAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

 

Hotels can sell out

 

Remember, your wedding is not the only event in town, and fall in the Hudson Valley means an influx of tourism. People travel from all over to view the beautiful fall foliage, and that means they are likely staying for more than one day, which means they are lodging in area hotels, B&B’s, inns, etc., the same ones where your guests will need to stay.

 

“Everyone wants to visit Dutchess County in the Fall, and who can blame them?” said Melaine Rottkamp, vice president of Dutchess Tourism, Inc. “The same beautiful foliage and weather that attract couples wanting to get married here, also attract other visitors and as a result, hotels fill up very quickly.”

 

You also have all the several dozen colleges in the area who are hosting parent weekends, alumni and homecoming weekends, football games and the like. Those parents and alumni also need a place to stay.

 

This is where planning ahead to beat the ‘competition’ comes in handy. The first thing you should do once you secure your date and your venue is to call local lodging venues to secure a room block. By securing your room block, it ensures that those rooms are saved for your guests, so, no matter how full the lodging venue gets, your guests will still have a place to stay. In many cases, your venue will already work with an affiliated hotel and will set this up for you. If they don’t you need to act right away.

 

Each lodging area will have its own rules when it comes to room blocks, but it’s always better to book more rooms than you think you will need. For example, if you book at a hotel, most of the time they will book 10 rooms at a time and then give you another 10 once the original 10 are full. However, If they book 10 rooms and you know you’ll only need five, keep the 10 just in case. You can always get rid of rooms closer to your date, but it’s harder to add. Also, you will be given a code specific to your room block that you can give your guests so that when they book, they get one of those reserved rooms, which may or may not be discounted based on the facility.

 

Are you having a fall wedding? What tips do you have for couples who want a fall wedding? What has been challenging or easy for you in terms of planning your fall wedding?

Featured Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Wedding

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Hiring A Wedding Videographer? 5 Red Flags You Need To Be Aware Of

Today’s contributing author is Lynette Romero of Pioneer Media

 

Your photographer and videographer are the only two vendors that will provide you with tangible memories of your wedding that you can watch and look at for years to come. They are the only ones that will provide the keepsakes you can share with your kids and grandkids. Long after your flowers have died, your photos of them remain. Long after the dance floor empties, the video of your family and friends remains. Your vows and the special moments of your ceremony will always be brought back to life each time you look at your photos or video.

 

Video is often a last-minute addition, mainly because couples aren’t sure if they can afford it, but I URGE you to budget for it right from the beginning. Not having a proper video of your wedding is the number one regret many brides/couples have. I can vouch for that because I am one of those brides.

 

Long gone are the days of videos being simply video of what is going on with the videographer going around to each table with a microphone getting all your guests to send their wishes. Today, wedding videos are mini cinematic masterpieces. Something you will treasure forever.

 

Now while video is important, your wedding is not the time to hire an amateur or an inexperienced professional. You only get one chance and one day, there are no do-overs.

 

We spoke a few weeks ago about red flags to look out for when hiring a wedding photographer, and today, Lynette Romero of Pioneer Media shares red flags you need to watch out for when hiring a videographer.

 

Lack of wedding experience

 

Pioneer Media Hudson Valley Weddings

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

“As is true with any wedding professional you hire, you want to ask about your videographers wedding experience,” says Romero. “An experienced videographer anticipates the key moments of a wedding day, has backups in place, is able to see potential challenges before they happen and finds solutions when the unexpected comes up. How many weddings has your videographer shot? Ask to see videos, and not only short “teaser” videos or highlight reels, but a full wedding video.”
 

Single shooter or unknown shooter?

 

Romero says, “There are so many moving parts when capturing video and high-quality audio on a wedding day. It is extremely difficult to deliver a quality wedding video as a ‘one-man (or one-woman) show’. Will your videographer bring along an assistant or second shooter, or will they try to do it all on their own? And for that matter, do you know who the videographer will be on your wedding day? Will it be the person you met with or any one of the company’s many contracted videographers that happens to be available on your date?
 

 

They promise a specific length

 

“The length of a wedding video should depend on variables like hours of coverage, length of the ceremony, number and length of toasts at the reception, etc., etc.,” says Romero. “Without knowing these factors, we can’t guarantee how long a video will be. Sure — we could set a camera to record in a corner of the room for four hours to deliver a four-hour video, but how many times would you watch it? Our goal is to make every wedding video only as long as it is entertaining.”
 

On-camera video light

 

Pioneer Media Hudson Valley Weddings

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

This is very indicative of ‘old school’ videos. Romero says, “On-camera video lights can be very distracting and obtrusive. They produce harsh, unflattering and inferior image quality. Does your videographer plan on using on-camera light during the ceremony, reception or otherwise?”
 

Aerial footage without license

 

Pioneer Media specializes in drone footage, and so, if you are hiring a company that offers that, you need to take note of certain laws to avoid being slapped with fines. Ignorance is not an excuse. “Many video companies have started to offer aerial “drone” footage to their wedding clients,” says Romero. “A couple should be concerned when a company offers aerial footage without a licensed UAS (unmanned aerial system) pilot. The video company that flies a drone commercially without meeting certain requirements can face huge fines for flying illegally. Surprisingly, even the unknowing couple who hires them can be fined. Does your videography company fly legally? Ask to see the UAS license.”

 

Are you hiring a videographer for your wedding? What made you decide to invest in video?

 

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

 

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father daughter dance Hannah Nicole Photography

Stressed Out Over Parent Dances? Here’s What You Need To Know

Choosing to do a parent dance can be a challenge.  Why? Well, unlike your first dance focused on the happy, in-love couple, your parent dance(s) focuses on a relationship that can be complex, dynamic, good or bad.

 

We’ve all seen videos or photos of brides dancing with their dads, and groom’s dancing with their moms. We’ve even heard stories of brides dreaming their whole lives of dancing with their dad. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s fantastic and great!

 

However, if your family dynamic is one where you know that’s not going to happen, parent dances can cause a lot of stress for the couple.

 

If you are in that situation, know two things:

 

1)    There are no rules to weddings. There is no “wrong” or “right” way to do a parent dance, so you can do whatever makes you feel comfortable, even if it means not doing one at all

 

2)    There is always an alternative, and that’s where hiring a professional WEDDING DJ will make all the difference and make your parent dance a pleasant, not stressful, situation.

 

RELATED: WHY HIRING A PROFESSIONAL DJ FOR YOUR WEDDING IS A BAD IDEA

 

We spoke with some of the top Hudson Valley wedding DJ’s, who’ve seen it all, to give you some pointers for when you’re stressing over your parent dances.

 

Who will you dance with?

 

“With parent dances a lot depends on the relationship,” says David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill. He says that there are many ways to work around parent relationships and gives some suggestions:
 

1)    Some brides want two father dances, one with their biological father and the other with their step-dad.
 

2)    Sometimes, the bride’s father or mother might have passed away, so the couple might choose an aunt or an uncle or a person who has been like a “mother” or “father” to dance with.

 

Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz has these suggestions based on what he’s done with couples at weddings he’s DJ’d:

 

1)    Both the bride and groom and their parents dance to one song (that’s what my husband and I did).
 

2)    A biological father might start a dance and the step-father will step in during the second half of the song
 

3)    Brides dancing with mothers only

 

You and your wedding DJ need to have a conversation about your parent dynamic and discuss an option that’s right for you. DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls says knowing the family dynamic helps a DJ figure out what songs to play in situations that might be determined “awkward” for the couple. He says knowing that is essential to taking your wedding up a notch.

 

RELATED: 5 EASY WAYS TO HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR FIRST DANCE SONG

 

Finding the song

 

Once you figure out who you are going to dance with, if you are even going to do a parent dance, you need to choose a song. The one thing to remember with songs is that when you are listening to lyrics, keep an open mind. Don’t always assume a song is a love song for a couple. Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls says “some people have that perception that it’s a love song for a couple, not for my dad, not for my mom.” He says if you really interpret it the right way, it means love for anyone.

 

For example, our parent dance was to “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers. Here are some of the lyrics:
 

“I can’t remember when you weren’t there,

When I didn’t care for anyone but you

I swear we’ve been through everything there is…”
 

“Through the years

You’ve never let me down

You turned my life around…”
 

“I swear you’ve taught me everything I know

Can’t imagine needing someone so

But through the years it seems to me

I need you more and more…”
 

‘Through the years

Through all the good and bad

I knew how much we had

I’ve always been so glad

To be with you

 

Through the years

It’s better every day

You’ve kissed my tears away

As long as it’s okay

I’ll stay with you

Through the years…”
 

It could be taken as a “traditional” love song or a love song to your parents.

 

Now, if you unfortunately have a parent who has passed, Swatek says there are other ways to honor that parent if you don’t want to do a dance. You can always play their favorite song during the night, and at that point, it’ll be up to the DJ to suggest how to incorporate it. An experienced DJ will know what to do if the song is fast or slow. He says if it’s a faster song, you can play it during the night and have everyone get up and dance to it for a fun moment. If it’s on the slower side, the song can be played during dinner or during a slower point in the night, maybe a slow dance during the reception. Either way, speaking with your DJ will help you make what could be a stressful situation into one that will create memorable lasting moment.
 

We want to know…Are you doing a parent dance? Who are you dancing with? What song are you choosing?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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How to find your bridesmaids

Everything You Need To Know To Have A Drama-Free Bridal Party

A few weeks ago, we got some great advice from bridal party experts about how to choose your bridal party. We learned how to narrow down your bridal party and choose those who really mean the most to you. We learned about how many people you should choose and the worry that many brides have about sides being equal in number. We also learned that the bride’s side doesn’t always have to be all women, and the groom’s side doesn’t have to be all men.

 

When I was getting married, I actually had two maids of honor. A little non-traditional, but remember, you can make weddings anything you want them to be. There are no “rules,” really, and you can do whatever you like to make your wedding as personal as you want.

 

My husband and I are both only children and so our closest friends are really like the siblings we never had. So of course, the people we chose to be Maid of Honor and Best Man were our oldest and dearest friends. Our Best Man and my husband have been best friends since 1st grade, so that was a no-brainer. I knew my Maids of Honor since I was in 6th grade.

 

So, why did I choose two? Simple. Because I could. But really, it was because I met them both on the same day and the three of us did everything together. I felt like I had to choose a favorite by picking one, and it was something I couldn’t do.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING YOUR BRIDAL PARTY

 

Today, we’re reaching back out to our bridal party experts, Angela Napoletano and Beth Palmisano, friends and co-owners of Dear Bridesmaid based in Virginia, and Jen Glatz, a professional bridesmaid, based in New York City, and the founder of the website Bridesmaid for Hire and author of “Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire).”

 

We’re going to discuss what happens after you choose your bridal party and what you need to know if you are chosen to be in a bridal party as a Bridesmaid or Maid of Honor to keep it all stress-free and drama-free.

 

Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit, Jen Glantz

Duties

 

Regardless of your “role,” the Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, Best Man and Groomsmen all have to do this one thing above everything else. That is, be a good friend! Glatz says, “Simply put – be a good friend. Really, that’s it. Everything else are requests the bride (or groom) asks you to do and those requests should be fair and not over the top.”

 

“After that, responsibilities will vary based on family traditions, budget, location etc.,” says Palmisano. “The best thing to do when you accept this role is to ask questions and really understand the bride’s expectations. Pro-tip: if your life and schedule don’t fit their description, talk it over with the bride (or groom) right away.”

 

So what can you expect…?

 

If you’re a bridesmaid, Palmisano says, “Sometimes responsibilities are exactly what you think when you hear bridesmaid – hosting and/or attending parties, sitting through band auditions, dress shopping and – if you’re lucky – tasting cake.” Other times, says Palmisano, your responsibilities may include “being there for a vent session, airport pickups, setting and maintaining budgets and so much more.”

 

If you’re the Maid of Honor (MOH), your duties may be similar plus more and are more public. “MOHs publicly hold the flowers, puff the train and sweetly toast the couple,” says Palmisano. “Behind the scenes, MOH acts as the ring leader and delegator. If the MOH can only take on the public duties it’s important for her to find someone else on ‘Team Bride’ to handle logistics – especially if the bridal party volunteers to hold a trip or party.”

 

That brings up a good point…whose duty is it to throw the shower, bachelorette party or any other trip or party that happens during the engagement? “Technically hosting is not a required duty of any bridesmaid, including the MOH,” says Palmisano. “That being said, any member of the bridal party can host or help host parties if she’d like, but shouldn’t feel obligated.”

 

For example, my aunt threw my shower and my maids of honor threw my bachelorette party. However, my maids of honor communicated with me all the time and asked me if I wanted a surprise bachelorette party if I wanted a big one, a small one, and what I wanted to do.

 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY (PART 1)

 

What happens if you invite a person to be in your bridal party and they can’t afford to be in it?

 

Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit: Susan Shek

Budgets are tight for everyone, the bridal party included. By the time the members of your party pay for their dress, hair and makeup, manicures, pedicures, travel, gifts, or parties, costs can add up pretty fast! If you find yourself in a bridal party and are on a tight budget, Glatz says, “Speak with the bride. Let her know that you don’t have the cash and that you’d like to still be a bridesmaid but on a budget.” Palmisano agrees. She says, “If you know it’s too much for your personal budget, transparency from the beginning is the way to go. The bride will understand and in the end, you’ll both be less stressed.”

 

If you are a bride and someone in your party says they can’t afford it, the number one thing you must do is NOT judge. Facts are facts and if they can’t afford to be in your bridal party, accept their decision to decline the invite to be in your party, or try to work on some budget friendly aspects. For example, try to choose a dress that’s affordable for everyone, try to limit travel, maybe chip in for their hair or makeup (they are your besties after all).

 

What about bridal party drama?

 

Now, here’s the most important thing you need to know about bridal parties…DRAMA IS NOT ALLOWED! I mean it!

 

Brides, you have every right to dismiss a person in your bridal party if they bring the drama. Glatz says, “If someone is bringing more stress into your life, don’t hang on to them. Just because you asked them to be a bridesmaid does not mean you can’t later say never mind because they are making your wedding adventure miserable.”

 

So If you are asked to be in a bridal party, know that the privilege can be taken away at any moment if you bring on the drama. It’s NOT your wedding and you need to respect the bride and groom’s vision, within reason of course.

 

But here’s the good news. Just as the bride has the right to dismiss a dramatic member of the bridal party, you have the right to excuse yourself from the bridal party as well. If you are dealing with a downright evil “Bridezilla” or “Groomzilla,” or if either one isn’t respecting your budget or your concerns, you have the right to leave as well. Now, the few weeks leading up to the wedding may be extra stressful, so you can expect nerves to be on edge and people to be a bit snippy, but if this behavior is happening right from the beginning, it’s just going to get worse and you don’t want to be a part of that.

 

We want to know…who is in your bridal party? What concerns have come up for you, if any?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Man in the Moon Studios Photography

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Hudson Valley wedding photographer Jeremiah Shaffer

7 Things You Need To Do If Severe Weather Threatens Your Wedding Day

No matter how much time or money you spend planning your wedding, there is always that one unpredictable factor no one can see coming. That, of course, is the weather. What do you do when Mother Nature has plans to crash your wedding? Well, unfortunately, nothing. No matter how hard you try, you can’t control what she has in store. However, what you CAN control is how prepared you are for such an event.

 

Up here in the Hudson Valley, we’re nestled away within the mountains and rarely see the devastation and destruction hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey have wreaked. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve seen our fair share of weather disasters; flooding, tornadoes, and let’s not forget the dreaded four-letter word…SNOW! Remember that time a blizzard dumped 2 feet of snow on us…IN ONE DAY!
 

Now, rain or snow is something no one ever really wants on their wedding day, but, at least it’s manageable and can make for some really cool photo ops. But when Mother Nature is fuming mad and just wants to destroy everything in her path, you can take a proactive approach to making sure that you are prepared just in case the worse weather event was to happen on your wedding day.
 

Plan ahead

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

You know your area’s weather patterns and one of the ways you can try to avoid severe weather disasters is to plan your wedding in a season that is not typically known for severe weather.  For example, it’s safe to say that winter can be brutal in the Hudson Valley. Some people love the winter and have always dreamed of having a “winter wonderland” themed wedding. Others want to save money on their wedding by having a wedding in the winter, which is typically the “off” season. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those scenarios, you just need to be aware that any wedding planned between late October and late April in the Hudson Valley can bring with it unexpected white stuff. A few inches here or there isn’t really much to be too concerned about, but when you have blizzards and a State of Emergency issued, then you have problems. If you’re ok with possibly having snow to contend with at your wedding, go for it! If not, you may want to plan for a different season. Of course, as we all know the weather has it’s quirks at other times of the year as well, but they summer, fall and spring seem to be a bit “safer” and more “predictable”.

 

Have a conversation with your vendors

 

Today, the weather never really comes as a surprise. You know a few days ahead of time what the weather is going to be, so if you have a wedding planned during a time when severe weather is predicted, you NEED to contact your vendors IMMEDIATELY, and not by email or text. You need to CALL THEM right away, express your concerns and discuss a contingency plan. It’s always better to have a plan “B” in your pocket and not need it, then to need it and not have one. Chances are, if you and live in the same area as your vendors, they’re going to be affected too. What do they plan on doing if severe weather strikes? Do they have different days available if you need to reschedule? Do they have a sister venue they can move your wedding to that may not be affected by weather? Do they have suggestions, from their experience, as to what you should do about the impending severe weather such as keeping it scheduled as planned or rescheduling it? Even with a simple rainy day, you want to make sure your venue and all your vendors are prepared for a plan “B” if your ceremony was going to be outside and you need to move it inside.
 

RELATED: 9 CRUCIAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

 

Check your contracts

 

Now is a good time to review your vendor contracts. Honestly, you need to have this discussion right at booking, but if it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your vendor contracts, pull them out. Many contracts should have a clause (and if not, make sure you can have one put in) that explains what to do if there is an emergency, whether related or not. What if you or your partner ends up sick in the hospital? What if a freak storm sweeps through the area and a tree falls on your photographer’s or DJ’s car or house and they can’t get to your wedding? What if the venue gets flooded? What if, there’s a blizzard and there’s two feet of snow on the ground and the whole city and surrounding area is under a State of Emergency? You need to know how everyone will be prepared, how your DEPOSIT will be handled, and how to navigate a reschedule if need be. You also want to review what happens if your guests can’t make it. Are you still going to have to pay for no-shows or will you get something in exchange for the price of their plate, like an upgrade in appetizers or dessert or an extra comp hotel room?
 

Reach out to guests

 

Hudson Valley wedding photographer Jeremiah Shaffer

Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

You need to keep your guests in the loop. Remember, some may be coming from hundreds of miles away and you want to give them enough notice to change their travel plans if need be. This is where having a wedding website comes in handy. You can post updates there, but in addition to that, make sure you CALL each and every guest to keep them aware of the situation and to fill them in on any changes that may be coming. Be prepared that if severe weather is predicted, and if all “systems are go”, some guests may still not be able to come. Also, keep in mind that if you do need to make the choice to reschedule your wedding, some guests may not be able to make it to your new date either, depending on when you reschedule.

 

Reach out to travel providers

 

Chances are, you and your spouse will probably be taking a honeymoon right after your wedding. So, while you may not be experiencing bad weather where you are getting married, severe weather may be happening where you plan on honeymooning. Well, we all know that severe weather never lasts just one day. There’s often times a residual mess that a hurricane or blizzard leave in its wake. which, can be just as messy (and devastating) as the weather itself. If you are flying, driving, staying at a hotel or cruising anywhere, you want to make sure you contact your travel providers ASAP to see what their protocol is, if, for any reason you need to cancel or delay your honeymoon.
 

Another tip is when you book your honeymoon, make sure you take out travel insurance for just this reason. When my husband and I honeymooned, we took out insurance on our cruise. Well, wouldn’t you know, Hurricane Sandy was just starting off as a Tropical Depression and we were chasing it the whole way home. Thankfully, everything was fine and it wasn’t until we got home that it turned into what it was, but imagine if we did cruise a week later and were in the full midst of it, with no insurance?
 

RELATED: NOT SURE IF YOU WANT TO HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER? 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

Hire a planner

 

If you are really concerned about severe weather ruining your wedding, you might want to consider hiring a planner. A planner is trained and certified to be the eyes and ears for you. They can take care of the vendor contracts, and help you find a new date or venue (if need be). You can then decide, based on the information they give you, and the information you received from your vendors, whether to keep your date or reschedule. You will still need to do some work, such as reaching out to your guests, but they will do the heavy lifting for you and create or recreate your day to exactly the way you wanted it if severe weather strikes.
 

Make the best of it

 

Last, but not least, “Turn lemons into lemonade”. Say, for example, your wedding is on a Saturday and there is a snow storm predicted for that day, but the day before is predicted to be sunny and clear. If the snow isn’t going to accumulate to much, but enough to make it bad for travel, you might want to consider asking guests who can or want to, to come a day early, on Friday, and make a weekend out of it. Not only will they be in town for your wedding and won’t have to worry about traveling in bad weather the day of, but you can hang out in your hotel, have brunch the next day, turn what could be a terrible situation into one that is unexpectedly more fun and memorable than what you originally planned. This will work especially well if your ceremony and reception are going to be at the same place and if that venue also offers lodging, such as a hotel.
 

We want to hear from you. If you are already married, did you face any weather challenges, and if so, what were they and how did you handle them?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

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bridesmaids in their dresses

What You Need to Know About Choosing Your Bridal Party (part 1)

One of the first things most couples do once they plan their date and let the engaged life settle in for a bit is to chose who they want to have in their bridal party. This, in itself, can create a lot of stress for some people. Couples may think they know who they want standing next to them, but then, the “what if’s” come in.
 

Have you ever said any of these things..?

 

• What if I don’t ask someone, will their feelings be hurt?

• What if my sides don’t match in number?

• What if my bridal party is too small or too large?

• What if I ask someone who really doesn’t want to be in my wedding?

• What if someone in my bridal party can’t afford to be in it?

• What if I ask someone who’s married? Does their spouse have to be in the bridal party too?
 

Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit: Jen Glantz

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, then this is the place you want to be. Over the next few months, we’re going to be covering all these topics and more, so don’t worry…we have your back.

 

Now, I know we always talk to experts in the Hudson Valley, but sometimes, the experts we need to give you the best advice are outside of our market, as in this case. We reached out to two bridesmaid experts to give you advice on how to choose and handle your bridal party.

 

Angela Napoletano and Beth Palmisano, are friends and co-owners of Dear Bridesmaid. Based in Virginia, this online resource offers bridesmaids tips, products, and advice, to make their time in that role as easy and stress-free as possible. Jen Glatz is a professional bridesmaid, based in New York City, and is the founder of the website Bridesmaid for Hire & Author of “Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire)”. Together, they share their expertise in helping you choose your bridal party and navigating your bridal party questions.

 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY (PART 1)

 

How do I choose my bridal party?

 

This can be a heavy decision for many couples. I know in other posts I’ve talked about the unromantic side of weddings as a way to help you de-stress and not go crazy over details that might keep you up at night. Mainly, that all you really need are two witnesses and don’t even need a bridal party at all if you don’t want one.

 

HOWEVER, I don’t like to focus too much on the unromantic side of things, because, we all know, a wedding is the most romantic event you’ll ever be a part of. The problems creep in because brides and grooms overcomplicate this process.

 

Glantz says, “Keep your bridal party simple. Use the elevator trick. Who would you want to be stuck in an elevator with? Sounds funny, but it’s true. Being stuck in an elevator is a lot like being at a wedding. It can be emotional, overheated, scary, and people might even get hungry or hangry. Those are the people you want to have as your bridesmaids – the ones who will be calming you down not adding to the drama.”

 

The elevator trick is a great tool to help you decide. No bride or groom wants extra drama. If you are not inviting a particular person to be in your bridal party because of the drama they create and are worried about how they will react to not being invited, think of it this way. it’s better to have that drama be done and over with outside of your wedding than during your wedding.

 

choose your bridesmaids

Man in the Moon Studios

Palmisano says she sees two themes play out most when the bride (or groom) choose their party. First, she says that you need to remember that being asked to be in a bridal party is an honor and should be reserved for the most important people. “These are the sisters, oldest friends, even mothers who are given the badge as a thank you and symbolic gesture of love.” Second, she says some brides go beyond that and invite newer friends. “…Typically friends present in the bride’s life at the time of wedding prep. The ones she sees daily and counts on for a quick favor or to accompany her on errands.” She says having a mix of old and new friends/family members is great because it gives you a nice mix of people you can turn to throughout the planning process.

 

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

 

How many people do I choose and do my sides need to be even?

 

Ok, so here’s my two sense on this…the smaller the better. I know there are traditional “rules” that say the size of your bridal party should match the size of your wedding, but honestly, the bigger the party, the more stress it means for you. That’s more people you have to organize, more opinions you have to deal with, more of everything, and who want to deal with all that stress?

 

Your bridal party is NOT a position to take lightly and is not for anyone who has ever meant anything to you. You’ve all heard stories about couples who had enormous amounts of people in their bridal party? Why? Use the K.I.S.S Method (Keep It Simple Silly)

 

However, if you really want a big bridal party or if you really want a small bridal party, know that there is no right or wrong answer as to what you should do. Nor, is there a right or wrong decision to having the sides match in number. Palmisano says, “There is no right or wrong and count is really based on the bride’s preference. Bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t need to be even but some couples prefer that.”

 

Does the brides’ side need to be all women and does the groom’s side need to be all men?

 

Of course not! The one thing to remember about weddings is that while there are traditional “rules” like I mentioned before, it’s still your wedding day. Couples today want their day to be different and personalized, so really there are no “rules”, it’s whatever you like. “The bride should choose ‘her person’ to stand beside her on the special day. If it’s a guy he should be up there,” says Palmisano

 

Featured Photo Credit: Kristina Walter

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What It’s Really Like To Have Your Dog In Your Wedding

“She came right up to us and leaned on my leg, and right then and there, I knew she was the one!” Everyone who has a pet likely has a story similar to this of when their pet stole their heart. Janel Solanki, who got married last year at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, shared this love story she and her husband Nick have with their dog Sadie, the adorable 9-year-old German Shepherd/Collie rescue in the image above. “Even though we’ve only had her for two years,” Solanki says, “I feel like she’s been with us forever…She is wholeheartedly a member of our family!”
 

“We wanted him to be at our wedding because he is always by our side during our daily lives and why would we want our wedding day to be any different?” says Natalie Feist about her dog Brego, who’s been a part of her and her husband Mike’s lives since he was eight weeks old and played an important role in their wedding at Crested Hen Farms last year.
 

There’s no denying pets bring a special kind of love into our lives, and of course, it’s natural to want them to be part of the biggest day of our lives, but we learned that having your pet in your wedding is not always as easy as it sounds. There are many variables that play into you being able to have your “best friend” by your side. From the venue, to the sights and sounds, to your pet’s personality, there are many things to consider.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE INCLUDING YOUR DOG IN YOUR WEDDING

 

We spoke to Janel and Natalie to learn more about the roles Sadie and Brego played on their special day and tips and advice they have for any couple who wants their dog in their wedding.
 

What role should your dog have in your wedding?

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

There are hundreds of wedding venues in the Hudson Valley, but the majority are not pet-friendly. That doesn’t mean that venue owners don’t love pets, it just means that the venue may not be the safest or most comfortable for a dog to hang out in for hours at a time (except, of course, if it’s a service animal). If having your dog in your wedding is a deal-breaker for choosing the venue, the first thing you need to do is to check with the venue first to see if it’s pet-friendly.
 

“I loved the idea of having her in our wedding, either carrying our rings or standing up with us while exchanging our vows,” says Solanki, who ended up not having Sadie in her wedding. Many things came into play for them to decide to keep Sadie home that night. What the venue allowed, the 200-plus guest list, and the formal evening affair made them reconsider. However, not all was lost as they made Sadie a prominent fixture in many of their photos which were taken at home prior to the ceremony.
 

Brego, on the other hand, was living it up at Feist’s wedding, since Crested Hen Farms is a pet-friendly location partly because it has a lot of acreage for a dog to run around on. “Brego walked Mike down the aisle. While we were getting ready he ran around exploring Crested Hen Farms, and occasionally would run back to the bridal suite to check in with us,” says Feist.
 

What do you do with your dog during the reception?

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

The ceremony is just one part of your wedding. If you want your dog in your wedding, you need to have a plan for the dog during the ceremony, which can last another five to six hours after the ceremony and can make for a very long day for a dog to be away from their familiar surroundings.
 

“Our dog is accustomed to large crowds and loud music, so he handled it fairly well,” said Feist. However, as the night went on, things changed. Feist says, “We noticed later in the evening, as the party got more raucous, he started to become stressed, so we had a friend take him home.”
 

For Solanki, who kept Sadie home that day, they asked their neighbors to watch her. “Sadie is so well house-trained that we left her at my parents’ house where we were staying and had a neighbor check in on her throughout the night.”
 

Do you have a plan for your dog? Do you have a neighbor willing to pet-sit for the night? Do you have a friend willing to leave the party to take your dog home? If any of these questions make you worry about creating an “escape route” for your dog, you might want to reconsider their role in your wedding.
 

Tips for having your dog in your wedding

 

Both Solanki and Feist, who had very different experiences with their dogs, have some great, practical advice for any couple thinking of having their dog in their wedding.
 

Personality

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Every dog is different, so it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to “rules” for having a dog in your wedding. Personality is huge! Solanki says some questions to consider are: “Is he well socialized? Does he get nervous and skittish around crowds of people, kids, loud music?  Is he well trained in basic obedience or does he jump on everyone he sees?…Is he a constant barker? A counter surfer?  Imagine your dog trying to take a bite out of your wedding cake!” If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to be safe than sorry and leave your dog home, and have them in pictures only.
 

Pet-sitters

 

Feist says pet-sitters are a must! Remember, you don’t want to be in charge of your dog that night; you want to have fun. She says, “Ask multiple people if they are willing to take turns as leash-holders, that way one person doesn’t get stuck with the job all night!” She also says to make sure the leash-holders are also familiar with the dog and willing to leave the premises if necessary to take the dog somewhere more comfortable. “We asked people who were familiar with our dog and how he signals his needs. Also, make sure that there is someone available to take your pet to a safe and quiet space if necessary,” says Feist.
 

RELATED: AVOID THESE 3 MISTAKES WHEN CHOOSING MUSIC FOR YOUR WEDDING

 

Your guests

 

“While you may love dogs, your guests may not,” says Solanki. That’s a very valid point. Just like with music…just because you love heavy metal, that doesn’t mean your guests will and so you need to play music everyone will like. Just because you love dogs, and many people do, not everyone does. What if you have a young child at your wedding petrified of big dogs, or someone who sneezes at just the thought of a dog. These are things you may not think of, but need to take into consideration.
 

The “formality” of your wedding

 

Solanki also says to take a look at the “formality” of your wedding. “A formal indoor evening event won’t be appropriate for a dog, no matter how quiet and well behaved he may be,” she said. “But an outdoor, casual afternoon celebration might!   Ultimately, the venue, type of wedding, and personality of your dog will determine if he should be part of your day.”
 

So, we want to know if you are having your dog in your wedding. What made you decide to have him/her be part of your day or what made you decide to keep him/her home? What role is your dog going to play in your wedding?
 

Featured Photo Credit: Red Pepper Shots

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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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What you need to know before including your dog in your wedding

They say a dog is man’s best friend. As a cat owner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say cats are best friends too. Anyone who’s ever owned an animal – cat, dog, other – knows just how much they become part of your family. It’s hard to imagine them not being part of your lives. So why wouldn’t they be part of your wedding day?
 

We’ve all seen wedding photos with pets or animals (such as farm animals who reside on the property for barn weddings), but there is a lot more that goes into having your “best friend” in your wedding than you might think. So we asked a few pet-friendly Hudson Valley venues, who have had dogs, fat sleepy cats, a parrot perched on the groom’s shoulder, a mini therapy horse and an occasional pig as guests, share what they’ve learned to help you and your pet have a fun, safe and stress-free day.
 

What does it mean to be a pet-friendly venue?

 

Baghdad and Cairo. Photo Credit: Crested Hen Farms

Ken Snodgrass, executive director at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, a 200-acre historic estate  once home to Morse Code inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, says, first and foremost, any venue will be able to accommodate service animals, “but for pets that are there for more ‘entertainment,’ you just want to make sure they (the venue) can accommodate them (your pet).”
 

So, what does it mean to be pet-friendly? Ripley Hathaway, owner of A Private Estate Events in Germantown, a National Register 1856 estate which was the former barn complex of the famed Livingston family, says, “A pet-friendly venue can vary in meaning. We allow couples’ pets to participate in their ceremony and to stay in our Carriage House on the property with the couple…We do not allow guests to bring their pets.”
 

Richard Rozzi, venue manager at Crested Hen Farms in High Falls, a National Register 36-acre former dairy farm founded in the 1790s, says, “Frank (venue owner) and I are both animal lovers and know how much they mean to people and become part of the family.” On property, they have 85 chickens and two Abyssinian cats named Baghdad and Cairo. “Since they are like family members we made the decision to allow our clients to bring their pets and include them in their ceremony and/or reception.”
 

RELATED: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING COUPLES OVERLOOK AT WEDDING EXPOS?

 

Is your pet wedding-friendly?

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Just because you want your pet(s) to be in your wedding, that doesn’t mean THEY want to be. Rozzi says, “Make sure that it is in their (the couple’s) pet’s best interest to do so. Some pets can be stressed out by crowds and lots of people that they are not accustomed to. As long as their pets are socialized and people friendly then we strongly encourage it.”
 

You know your pet(s) better than anyone and you’re ultimately the ones that need to decide if you want them in or at your wedding. Snodgrass says observing your pet in different situations can help determine how they will be at your wedding: “How do your pets react in non-traditional environments, do they really like a lot of people or do they freak out in a dog park?”
 

“Do they do well with strangers approaching them? Do you walk them or do they walk you?” asks Hathaway. “There is a lot of wildlife on our property from squirrels to birds to deer. Would your dog decide to chase them instead of walking down the aisle with you?” She says you also have to consider who’s going to tend to the dog. “Is there a really close friend or family member who would be willing to miss part of your reception to take the dog home…while you party for eight hours or more? If any of these questions make you doubt how well they will behave perhaps you should include them in your engagement photos when it’s just you and them.”
 

What if you want your pet in your wedding but know they won’t be able to handle it?
 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Hathaway brings up a good point: If your pet is not good in a crowd situation, you can use them in photos – either your engagement photos or wedding photos. Snodgrass says that happens a lot. “They’ll (the couple) bring their pets for photos before the ceremony.” He says that while it’s always a fun idea to include your pets “I think it’s good for people to have realistic expectations about how their pet is going to react to 100 plus people with loud music and loud conversations.” He recommends the ceremony might be better for your pet than the reception, but you would need to make sure you have a plan in place for someone to bring your pet home after the ceremony.

 

What are the “rules” and fine print?

 

When pets are involved, there’s more at stake. You need to be respectful of the space you are in and use the same rules that apply anytime you bring your dog out in public. Snodgrass says to always check what venue regulations are as they vary. At Locust Grove, he says, “Just keep them leashed so they don’t run for the Hudson River a half a mile away and tidy up after them.”
 

Hathaway says at A Private Estate, “All pets must be on a leash at all times… Couples are expected to pick up after their pets. Couples do need to fill out a pet release form stating their pet is up to date on his/her shots and that their animal does not have a history of biting.” She also says “There is a fee for pets staying the Carriage House as we want to make sure any dander or fur is gone before the next guest so the cleaning takes longer and we charge accordingly.”
 

At Crested Hen Farms, Rozzi says, “The only thing we ask is that the clients pick up after their pets and as long as they (the pets) are well behaved, leashes are not necessary. Of course, we also ask that they prevent them from doing anything destructive to the property i.e. digging holes, chasing our chickens etc.”
 

RELATED: HUDSON VALLEY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS SHARE 6 REASONS WHY YOU NEED ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

 

Other Tips

 

Here are some final tips if your pet will be attending your wedding. Snodgrass says to look for shady spots on the property where your pet can hang out and cool off while everyone is getting ready. He also says to be aware of the ceremony locale…is it inside or outside? He says, “We ask people to be considerate with their pets and so we usually think pets are going to be most comfortable outside.” Dogs and hardwood floors don’t always mesh well and can be dangerous. Plus the floor is cold and hard as opposed to softer outdoor spaces.
 

Are you planning on having your pet in your wedding? What kind of pet do you have and what role do you want it to play? Join us next week when we talk to couples who had pets in their wedding and what their experience was like.

 

Featured Photo Credit: Arius Photography

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The Little Wedding in the Woods and What it Taught Me

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Millennials (and I really dislike that term because it has a very negative connotation) are opting for more simple weddings, where the focus is more on them and wanting a more personalized experience for their guests. I thought that was interesting considering that, for so long, the trend was formal and somewhat elaborate.

 

A few months ago, I attended a wedding that, while the couple was not a Millennial couple, fit that description and it left me with a new appreciation for weddings.

 

I’ve been to many weddings in my life…the smallest being around 75 people to the largest being over 250 people. They’ve been in hotels, historic estate lawns, tents and extravagant ballrooms. They’ve been DIY weddings and elegantly planned by professionals. They’ve had very short ceremonies and some have had longer religious and ethnic ceremonies. I’ve been in weddings and I’ve been a guest. I’ve traveled and stayed local. But this wedding…this little wedding in the woods left me speechless – speechless in a good way.

 

The wedding was small, about 25 people, just immediate family and close, close family friends, as in friends who are like family. The ceremony took place in a chapel in the woods of their local church. No bridal party, no bride or groom sides to sit on, just a very romantic humble setting for an even more humble and perfect union.

 

The wedding was not just a wedding, but a weekend full of festivities starting from dinner the night before, to an impromptu gathering of almost all the guests in the hotel lobby after dinner, to brunch the next morning. Everything about it was…well, perfect!

 

So, here’s what the little wedding in the woods taught me:

 

RELATED: THE ONE THING THAT WILL RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WASY TO PREVENT IT

 

Bigger is not always better:

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I’ve spoken about this before and I’m sure you’ve witnessed it too, that sometimes couples think a wedding is a competition. That their wedding has to be better than everyone else’s, that their wedding has to be so over the top that guests will never forget it, that they have to invite everyone they’ve ever known and make it this big spectacle. There have even been studies that suggest that couples who have larger weddings also end up with a higher divorce rate because they see their wedding as the finish line, not the beginning of a lifetime together.

 

Having a small wedding gives guests the opportunity to talk with one another, learn about each other (if some have never met before), see folks they haven’t seen in a while and catch up.

 

Small weddings also give you more control. You have the chance to speak to all your guests and gives guests the opportunity to speak to you. There is also less likelihood for something to go awry because there aren’t as many moving parts.

 

Family comes first:

 

The best thing about weddings is that it’s the only time you will have EVERYONE who has meant something to you in the same room. The unfortunate thing is that it’s the only time, most likely, that that will ever happen. That’s the one thing I miss about my wedding: seeing so many friends and family members together in one room. We’ve tried to recreate it, with birthday parties or vacations, but nothing brings people together like a wedding does.

 

If you have a close family, especially if it’s a small one, and really want to make each member feel important consider a small wedding. Each member of the family can contribute in a special way without feeling left out and without you worrying if someone’s feelings will be hurt.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

No dancing…No problem:

 

Believe me when I tell you that I am all about getting my groove on out on the dance floor. It’s fun and you burn calories at the same time…win-win! But weddings don’t always have to have dancing…and that’s OK!

 

This was the first wedding I ever attended that didn’t have dancing, and you know what? It was still fun! We were still able to do everything you’d do at a wedding with dancing; enjoy cocktail hour, enjoy a nice dinner, the only difference was that the part of the ceremony where you’d normally be dancing, you were talking. Once folks got a few drinks, and ate, the stories and laughter just never ended. This leads right to my next point.

 

RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ IS A BAD IDEA

 

Experience matters most of all:

 

Many think that to have a great experience, a wedding needs to be over the top, when the reality is, experience is a very personal feeling. You can have the biggest, best wedding with all the bells and whistles and not everyone will like it, same with small weddings. For some guests, small weddings don’t cut it. They want to be wowed, and if not, they aren’t going to have a good time. So, the moral of the story is “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself!” (BONUS POINTS: if you can name the song that came from…hint, it’s an oldie)

 

If you want to know how to give people an awesome experience at your wedding, make them feel special, like they are a part of it. That’s really what it boils down to. Small or large, if you can make your guests feel important, make them feel like they are part of your big day beyond just sending them an invite, the more they will remember your wedding as one they had the best time at.

 

Small weddings = Easy-to-manage = stress-free day:

 

With bigger weddings, there is a lot to stress about because as I mentioned, there are less moving parts.

 

Worried about having to cut people because you are over budget? If you purposely plan to keep it small, and let people know, people won’t be expecting an invite and you won’t have to worry about inviting people you don’t really want. Plus, you’ll be saving a lot of money because you won’t need a big space or have so many mouths to feed.

 

Worried about getting to speak to all the guests while still having time to eat? With a small guest list, you become part of party and you can have the time to talk to every one of your guests.

 

Worried about all the little details or the drama? Well, if you have a small wedding, you don’t need a bridal party, you don’t really need a seating chart, you don’t have to worry about a lot of decorations or florals, and you don’t have to worry too much about a rehearsal.

 

Worried about spending too much and staying within budget? With a small enough wedding, you don’t have to worry about finding a big enough space, spending a lot on invites, or needing a big cake, a big bar or any other item that takes a chunk out of your total spending.

 

So, what are your thoughts? Do you want a small wedding or one on the larger side?

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13 of the most common mistakes engaged couples make revealed

There’s no doubting that being engaged is an exciting time in your life. The joys of planning a life together, the excitement of what the future will bring, being able to call you partner your fiance now and, of course, planning your wedding, is all fun and good.
 

However, that excitement can very easily lead to overwhelm if you aren’t careful.
 

All married couples, after their wedding is over and they’ve been married for a few months, realize that they’ve all made mistakes while they were engaged, I did too. Here’s the good news, though. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn anything from them. Now that you know what they are, you’ll be better prepared.
 

Mistake #1 – Not having important conversations with your spouse-to-be

 

I put this first for a reason. Before you even discuss getting engaged, you need to at least know how your partner feels about certain things such as kids or money. Did you know that if you are getting married in a Catholic church, you will need to attend Pre-Cana classes? Pre-Cana classes are marriage prep classes where you and your partner discuss the hard topics: Do you want kids? How many? What if one of you gets a job transfer? What do you do? What are your thoughts on finances? Household chores, Etc? It’s a mandatory class. However, if you are not getting married in a Catholic church, there is no need for classes. Some of you may be thinking “woohoo!!” but don’t underestimate this. Even if you aren’t taking Pre-Cana classes, you need to have these important conversations before getting married, and you need to have a plan if you disagree on something, because realizing you want kids and your partner doesn’t, or your partner wants to move and you don’t, after you are married is not a good thing.
 

Mistake #2 – Announcing your engagement on social media too soon

 

Photo Caption: Hannah Nicole Photography

In this day of instant news, it’s very easy to make a mad dash to Facebook or Instagram and announce to everyone you are engaged with a shiny picture of your bling. However, before doing that, take some time to really let the moment sink in. Not everyone needs to know right away. Tell your family and close friends first, make sure you two take the time to embrace the moment and enjoy what just happened. Social media can wait. You also want to make sure that when the time comes to post on social media, that you have a clear head and are sending the announcement only to those “friends” you really want knowing, at least for the time being.
 

RELATED: JUST ENGAGED? 3 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO

 

Mistake #3 – Talking to everyone about everything!

 

Here’s the truth! People are excited for you, they really are, but they don’t want to hear about your wedding planning every second of the day. Think about it, you don’t want to hear someone talk about their vacation all the time, or the construction being done on their home, or family drama, or how cute their kids are, or how cute their dog is. After a while, it’s too much. Yes, people are interested, yes, they care, but limit what you say and who you say it to.
 

Mistake #4 – Making plans before you officially begin planning

 

My husband and I got engaged in early December, and we agreed that we wouldn’t start “officially” planning anything until the new year. With Christmas coming up and the New Year, it was just too much. We gave ourselves about a month to really take a breath, think about what we both wanted our wedding to be like, think about a date, etc, but it wasn’t until January that we really started anything official. If you start planning before the time you both agree on, you are really doing yourself a disservice because you aren’t fully prepared to make decisions yet. You’ll create double work, and who wants that?
 

RELATED: 3 ESSENTIAL DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE ATTENDING YOUR FIRST WEDDING EXPO

 

Mistake #5 – Not giving yourself enough time to plan

 

If you are getting married in the Hudson Valley and expect to get married 6 months to a year out from your engagement, good luck! Can it be done? Sure! But will it be easy? Heck no! If you haven’t noticed already, the Hudson Valley is a pretty popular place for weddings, with many vendors booking at least a year (sometimes more) out. Don’t rush your plans. Take the time to pick a date a minimum of a year out, and if you want a summer or fall wedding, plan accordingly. Planning, while fun, is stressful, too. You don’t want to give yourself added stress by being under an unnecessary time crunch.
 

Mistake #6 – Choosing your bridal party too quickly

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Just like your wedding isn’t a time to invite everyone you’ve ever known, neither is choosing your bridal party. I’ve spoken before about this very unromantic truth, that you don’t even need a bridal party, you just need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Keep that in mind when choosing your party. You don’t want to look at photos 5 or 10 years down the line and have regrets because you asked someone just to even the sides or see someone you were friends with who you are no longer friends with now. Choose people who you have known a long time, have been there for you through thick and thin, or mean the most to you. This could be family or friends or a mix of both. Keep your party small too, because we all know that the more people you have, the more complicated the planning gets.
 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS ABOUT YOUR WEDDING PART 1

 

Mistake #7 – Booking your vendors in the wrong order

 

The three main vendors you need to check off your list immediately are the venue, photographer/videographer, and your DJ. Everything else can wait…sort of (see mistake #8). You don’t want to book your florist before you know where your ceremony is going to be because that’s a question they are going to ask you. Same with the limo, caterer, planner (sometimes). Once you get those main three vendors booked, then you’re golden and everything else will fall into place.
 

Mistake #8 – Not booking vendors soon enough

 

Ok, so I just told you that one mistake couples make is not giving themselves enough time to plan. However, having too much time can sometimes lead to procrastination. DO NOT procrastinate booking your vendors, even if you are a year (or more) out. As soon as you know your date and are set on it, then start researching and booking your vendors before they someone else does. You’ve heard the expression, “the early bird gets the worm”? Well, consider yourself a bird!
 

Mistake #9 – Planning too much too fast

 

While it’s important to get your venue, photographer/videographer, and DJ booked right away, remember that planning isn’t a race. There are great planning timelines that you can get from your venue or magazines (even online) that break down every planning step leading backward from your wedding day. You don’t have to book everything now, and if you try, you are setting yourself up for failure. You also add more stress because you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and not giving yourself enough time to think or change your mind about something either.
 

RELATED: THE BEST FREEBIES AND DISCOUNTS FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY

 

Mistake #10 – Overthinking the details

 

Details are what makes each wedding unique, especially personalized details, but what people remember most about weddings is the experience they had and the food they ate, not details so much. I can tell you from every wedding I’ve attended what the experience was like and what I ate, but anything after that is a blur. I don’t remember colors, favors, centerpieces, etc. And guess what? No one else will either. Do you want your wedding to be nice? Of course! Who doesn’t? but don’t stress so much over the little details because no one will remember.
 

Mistake #11 – Shopping for your wedding dress too early

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I made this mistake. I went shopping for my dress a year and a half out! I really wanted a dress that had sleeves or had a v-neckline and at the time, but that wasn’t the style then. Everything was strapless that I then had to modify. If I had waited longer, the style dresses I wanted would have been in style because the styles started to shift right after Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, which was the day I went dress shopping. Your dress takes 6-9 months to make from the time you order it. Knowing that, around the 9 to 10-month mark, start shopping. If you go too early, styles change, what you want changes, and once you purchase your dress, there are no refunds.
 

RELATED: LEARN HOW TO SAVE HUNDREDS ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS

 

Mistake #12 – Not taking time for yourself

 

I mentioned earlier that planning your wedding is not a race. You need to make sure that during your entire planning process, you and your partner are doing NON-WEDDING-RELATED activities. If your wedding planning is consuming every part of your day and night and keeping you up at night, you are doing something wrong and need to take a step back. Date nights, stay-cations, concerts or parties are great ways to just take a mental break from everything and refocus. Just like work…if you are working on a project all the time, you are going to get burned out. You need time to decompress and step back. Those times will become priceless aS your wedding day gets nearer and nearer.
 

Mistake #13 – Not being true to yourself

 

A wedding is a great time for people to come out of the woodwork and chime in as to what YOUR wedding should be like. It’s funny how that happens. What you need to remember is that it’s your day. Does that mean you have to go all “Bride-or-Groom-Zilla” on folks? No. But you do need to be aware that this is going to happen. The last thing you want is regret on your wedding day. Don’t let other people’s opinions persuade you into doing something you really don’t want to do. A wedding is a great time to practice compromise. If you want a really small wedding and your partner wants a really big wedding, maybe meet somewhere in the middle.  You need to be true to yourself so you can have the day you always dreamed of.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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The Best Freebies and Discounts For Your Wedding Day

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

 

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

 

Registry

 

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

 

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Venue Freebies

     

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

    Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


     

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

     

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

     

     
     
     
     

    Miscellaneous Fun Free Stuff

     

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

     

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

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