Dos and Donts of Booking a Reception Venue
by Christina Child

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It's no secret that the overall tone of your wedding is largely decided by your own personal preferences and taste...  no two people are alike and no two weddings are just the same.  But knowing exactly where to have your wedding and reception - in a place that reflects your personal preferences - can be a daunting task when there are thousands of different venues to choose from!

Our friends at WeddingWire have put together a quiz that helps you choose which wedding reception venue is best for you!  Answering “Which Wedding Reception Venue is Right for You?” will help you get a jump start on the decision making process by ruling out options that might not be the right fit for you.  And after taking the quiz you'll be given a list of REAL wedding venues local to you!

Don't book a venue without checking out our advice!  Here are 5 Dos and Don'ts of choosing a wedding reception venue...

1. DO make your guest list before you book a venue - you'll need to know a general estimate of how many people will be in attendance to make sure there is enough space for everyone.

2. DON'T sign any contracts without reading through them first - make sure you read the fine print to avoid unseen costs and issues.

3. DO make sure you're in the loop about catering and alcohol - food and alcohol minimums can come with a hefty price tag.  Make sure you know the venue's policies on outside food and alcohol, and any preferred vendors.

4. Don't wait until the last minute! - engagement season is from Thanksgiving until Valentine's Day.  That's a lot of brides looking to be married within the same window of time and places book up quickly!

5. DO follow your gut - did you get great vibes from the coordinator at one venue and bad feels from another?  Good communication and a ready staff is an important aspect of the venue.  Trust your gut (and definitely peek at reviews!).

Want to skip straight to perusing local venues?  Check out Wedding Wire's wedding venue locations!

Happy venue hunting! :)

Brands we Love - Moon and Lola (Plus an Exclusive Discount!)
by Christina Child

We are excited to bring you a brand that we've been fans of for quite some time.  Founded right around the corner from us here in Raleigh, Moon and Lola is a one-stop-shop for beautiful jewelry, accessories, and lifestyle items with southern charm.  They've been featured on Oprah's Favorite Things (twice!) and their pieces can be found in over 1000 retailers including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.  Needless to say, they're pretty great neighbors to have. :) They also have a fantastic wedding and bridal party collection.  Whether you're looking for bling for your bridesmaids, cufflinks for the boys, fun party decor, or custom monogram pieces, they have you covered!  M&L even offers a discount program for brides!

And to make things even sweeter, M&L is offering an EXCLUSIVE WedPics discount for our readers!  Take 20% off using the code WEDPICS20 (one time use only).

Here are some of our favorite pieces from their current collection...

 Image via  Summer Wind

Image via Summer Wind

Maybe it's our Southern roots shining through but we can't say no to a custom monogram... especially when it's for a bride with a new last name!

 Image via  Katey McFarlan

Image via Katey McFarlan

Another great monogram style is the Hampton Block Monogram necklace, available in 6 different sizes and 5 different metal options.

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The Calypso Clutch was featured in the Oprah Magazine edition of View Your Deal on ABC's The View!  We love the on-trend tortoise shell acrylic and mother of pearl inlay...  Not to mention this clutch can also be customized with up to 8 letters!

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Choose from unlimited jewelry options for the bride, no matter what kind of wedding day look you might be going for (it's no surprise that this pearl necklace was featured in Southern Living, right?).

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M&L has an awesome selection of cufflinks, lapel pins, and tie clips for the boys... I may or may not be eyeing the Metal State Cufflinks for my own groom :)

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Stylish cake toppers and party decor for every occasion! M&L also offers matching acrylic table top "Guestbook" and "Gifts" signs and drink stirrers for a totally cohesive look!

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Can you say #CakeGoals?  *Adding this pic to my wedding photo wish list now..."

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Cheers to YOU Moon and Lola!  Don't forget that M&L is offering an EXCLUSIVE WedPics discount for our readers!  Take 20% off using the coupon code WEDPICS20 (one time use only).  Plus, weddingveil store, hair wigs store, bandage dresses store Blushwish all is perfect.

Q&A with a Wedding Videographer
by Christina Child

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Are you on the fence about hiring a videographer for your wedding?  You're not alone!  Squeezing another big item into your budget can feel like unnecessary expense, especially when you've already hired a wedding photographer...

BUT, when we've asked real brides what they would have done differently on their wedding day an overwhelming number of them regretted not opting for a wedding video!  We sat down for a Q&A with wedding videographer Kathryn Ray, the face behind the camera at Evergreen Era Films, to get an industry insider's take on wedding day film.  

What would you say to someone who is not sure about hiring a videographer? Film is very different from photos. A lot of people seem to think it is redundant to have both, when in reality it is a totally different experience than flipping  through still pictures. The beauty and purpose of film is that it is an all-encompassing sensory experience, where a mix of movement, music, and voice pull you back into each emotional moment. A lot of the most important parts of a wedding day aren't just visual, and things like personal vows or kind speeches are things that can quickly be forgotten. Therefore I always encourage people... if you can make it happen, hire a videographer!   

Why is wedding cinematography so "expensive"? I explain this in more detail on my blog, but in general there is a lot of time and expensive equipment invested in filming weddings.  The amount of hours spent with you before and during the wedding day pales in comparison to the amount of time spent in the editing room turning hours of raw footage into something beautiful... not to mention music licenses, USBs, shipping, packaging, travel, and many other costs associated with each wedding film.

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What is your specific approach to capturing a wedding? Being present when I need to be and being hidden when I need to be. My goal is that the only time anyone will notice me is when the couple needs me to make them laugh, help make a decision, or bring them back to the present moment amidst all the chaos. I don't like to be the boss and controlling the day; I like to let it flow naturally and capture the honest moments that occur between people and their celebration.  I don’t follow a guidebook... but that makes things real, and I think that is more important than following a strict formula. 

How do you make couples feel comfortable in front of the camera? One of the most important things I do is make couples feel comfortable with me first. I make sure that we meet, either in person or on video chat before we move forward in booking, where I ask them questions about themselves and what their relationship is like, along with sharing more about myself. I am naturally a positive, joyful, and gentle-hearted person and I think that creates a space of immediate comfort in most people.

I also use smaller and simpler gear rather than huge rigs, so instead of making people feel like they are on reality TV, they are less aware of my presence and interact more honestly.

What can couples do to help YOU ensure they'll receive a video that they love? I think the first thing is to make sure they love my previous work. I make each wedding unique but my style stays the same.

Secondly, HIRE A SECOND VIDEOGRAPHER, always! This is super important to have a more dynamic film, to capture more footage, and to keep a solo videographer less stressed and more focused/present throughout the day.

I also have all of my couples tell me what is most important to them throughout the day. Communicating this is critical!  That way I am able to create a film that has a strong focus on those unique specifics that depict a more intimate and personal reflection of the couple.

Any other tips for the wedding couple? Your photographers and videographers are going to be with you a lot throughout the day and you will be communicating with them quite a bit beforehand. Make sure you really enjoy them personally, along with their work, and want them to be a part of that day. I think it's important that they bring positivity and purpose to it and that they aren’t just there to capture it.

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About Evergreen Era Films Kathryn is a gentle heart with a contagious laugh. She finds respite when immersed in the wilderness, sipping on Earl Grey Tea, and surrounded by people she loves most. As an adventurer with a travelers spirit she will always call the Blue Ridge Mountains home, where she was born and has worked as a filmmaker for the past year after graduating with a photography degree from Appalachian State University. She prefers hugs over handshakes, honesty over perfection, and individuality over tradition. She strives to serve others the best that she can in all things her heart pursues. She gets motivation from learning more about the world and it’s incredible people, exploring new ideas, and growing in her person-hood.

Colorful Estes Park, Colorado Wedding
by Christina Child

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When I attended this colorful Estes Park, Colorado wedding last summer I knew it was destined to be featured on the WedPics blog.  Kellie and Rob are *personal friends who live in Vail with their two adorable dogs.  I can say, without a doubt, that this is one of the most beautiful, expertly curated weddings I've ever had the privilege to attend.

Kellie and Rob were roommates in Vail before quickly realizing they were falling for each other.  Four years later they tied the knot in a July ceremony at Della Terra Mountain Chateau in Estes Park, which boasts stunning mountains views and a spectacular outdoor & reception space.  Every detail of this this gorgeous wedding was brought together with impeccable style, from the custom watercolor invitation suite, eclectic furniture, table settings, and AMAZING floral arrangements that hung from the reception hall ceiling in hand-crafted macrame hangers.  These two surprised guests with late night Blizzards from Dairy Queen, and closed the night with a hot tub party.

On the wedding day Rob gave the maid of honor a handful of Alex & Ani bracelets to surprise Kellie with throughout the getting ready and first look phase of the day.  She says she wears one or two every day as a fun reminder of the best day ever :)

Kellie's bridal advice is to have fun planning the wedding and not take it for granted because you only get to do it once! "It will turn out magically no matter what because you're standing next to your best friend in marriage."

The wedding was photographed by Laura Murray Photography and wedding planning/design was provided by Milk Glass Productions.

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*Fun fact: One of the dresses that was pulled for me during a recent dress consultation was Kellie's exact reception dress :)  Thank you Kellie for allowing me to feature your wedding - you are a beautiful soul, both inside and out (and I can't wait to see you at my wedding in October!).

Vendors | Band - Dead Winter Carpenters | Wedding Planning & Design - Milk Glass Productions | Photography - Laura Murray Photography | Flowers: Fiori Flowers | Guest book - Velvet Raptor  | Ring boxes - Britt Felton | Photo booth - Shutterbus | Rentals - Eclectic Hive Yonder - Floral and Decor House | Linens - La Tavola Linen | Invite, Programs, Welcome bags, Signage - Lana's Shop | Hair and Make up - Janie Rocek | Cake Intricate Icings | Bridesmaid Dresses - Haley Paige | Wedding Gown -Robert Bullock | Reception Dress - Lian Carlo

DIY Wedding Centerpiece – Water Balloon Luminaries
by Alexis

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Every once in a while we come across a wedding DIY project that we just have to try ourselves.  These water balloon luminaries as centerpieces happen to be one of those projects.  Developing wedding apps is our speciality but even this project was simple enough for us!  Full credit goes to CandleTech.com…a great resource for those looking for fun, unique DIY projects!

You will need: 

  • High-Melt Paraffin Wax (IGI 1260)
  • Party Balloons
  • Double Boiler
  • Cookie Sheet

Instructions:

1. Fill a balloon with tepid water.

2. Melt your wax. Optimum working temperature for this project is 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to maintain this temperature for your wax while working by keeping it on a double boiler.

3. Slowly dip your balloon into the wax  to just below the water level in the balloon. Warning: Do not dip the balloon into the wax past the water level. This could cause the balloon to pop.

4. Hold the balloon in the wax for a few seconds, and then slowly lift it out of the wax. Dip the balloon a few more times, allowing some time between dips to let the wax cool.

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5. While it is still quite warm, carefully set the balloon down onto a piece of paper or a cookie sheet, making sure it is level. This will create a flat bottom for the luminary.

6. Dip your balloon a few more times until it is the desired thickness. A good target thickness is 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch.

7. Set the balloon on the paper or cookie sheet again and let it cool.

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8. When the wax is completely cooled, hold the balloon over a sink or bucket, facing away from you. Carefully pop the balloon with a skewer or knife and let the water drain out. Throw away the balloon shards.

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9. To level the top of the luminary, heat a cookie sheet on the stove and place the luminary top-down onto the hot sheet and carefully melt the edges until it is level.

10. Place a tea light or votive inside the luminary and burn on a candle holder in a dark area.

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Voilà! To add some color to your centerpiece, just add a little color dye to the melted wax!

18 Pieces of Advice From Real Brides
by Alexis

We’ve all heard the advice, “Don’t stress, just enjoy the day!”, “All that matters in the end is you and your husband!”. However, we all know it’s hard to keep that perspective in the moment!

We asked realbrides what one piece of advice they wish they had known on their special day, and, what they wish they hadn’t stressed about!

Check out below for the priceless advice!

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1.

 “Don’t buy things that you think you might need. Wait until you know exactly what you want. I’m now the proud owner of 2 dresses and loads and loads of table decorations I do not need!”  (Submitted by Helen Lambert-Little)

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2.

“One of my bridesmaids actually ended up buying the wrong dress without me knowing and you know what? She looked beautiful and I’m just happy she’s a part of my wedding.” (Submitted by Carolina Hylton)

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3.

“Get a coordinator or a very very organized friend! I had no issues at my wedding, at least in my head I didn’t because my friend handled everything!” (Submitted by Nadine Zap)

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4.

“I had chosen a dress that was completely different from the one I envisioned . I was worried that it wouldn’t be the best dress for me. But afterwards I realized, I could have trusted my first reaction to the dress and all the lovely reactions of the people that I was with.”(Submitted by Sharon Van Der Meulen)

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5.

“My advice is to keep good communication with your groom, this may seem like an obvious thing to do, but just simply talking out loud to him on your planning and thoughts can make him feel involved. I was surprised how much my husband wanted to be a part of the wedding planning and what good ideas he had!” (Submitted by Brandi Bonar)

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6.

“My advice is not to drink too much wine before the ceremony starts! I was so stressed and nervous that I thought in order to relax I had to drink wine, but I drank too much! I ended up laughing through the whole ceremony. Thankfully everyone was laughing with me…but I still do not recommend it!” (Submitted by Ana Lopez Soria)

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7.

“Do not wear uncomfortable shoes, especially if you have stairs to go down, I almost landed at bottom!”(Submitted by Vicky Brown)

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8.

“I wish I had considered when prom was in relation to booking hair appointments! Now all of my bridesmaids have to get ready separately. I wish I had known this before picking my date and also to not delay in booking beauty appointments!” (Submitted by Bonnie Jungbauer)

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9.

“Originally we booked a venue where all of our family could easily attend; although deep down it didn’t make us entirely happy. It was too expensive. So we decided on a destination wedding. We can invite more friends because it’s cheaper, and although not everyone will be able to come, we will appreciate those who do attend just that little bit more. It’s our day, and we couldn’t be happier.”

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10.

“Make sure someone packs you some food! We were so hungry by the end of the night and nothing was open around our hotel!” (Submitted by Allise Salinas)

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11.

“One thing I wish I wouldn’t have stress so much over was handmade programs. I made about 400 and only about 75 were even taken by guests. It was a waste of time! And money!” (Submitted by Brooke Alexandra)

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12.

“If you have to call your hair\makeup four times or ten, just do it! Make sure she is clear on what time she set you up for you!” (Miranda Bennett)

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13.

“If you have any concerns that your dress might be uncomfortable after the ceremony, buy a reception dress. I was stuck in mine from 1.30pm until 11pm and by the end of the night I hated it as I was so uncomfortable!” (Submitted Niki Wrigley)

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14.

“Don’t be nervous! I spent the whole day so stressed about walking down the aisle and getting stared at by everyone, but the second I saw my husband, everything was right. I didn’t even look at anyone else.” (Submitted Brianna Varley)

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15.

“My advice is to really talk with your photographer about what pictures you want. We did not and there were so many we missed out on! Also stop and take a moment to let it all sink in cause the day goes by fast so cherish every moment.” (Submitted by Brenda Gibbner)

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16.

“Make sure other people know what needs to get done in the last 48 hours before your wedding. All the organization & lists in your head don’t do much good if something happens to you the day before the wedding!” (Submitted by Elise Etelamaki Elegeert)

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17.

“Take 5 minutes together, sneak off somewhere with your husband to share your day by yourselves just to catch up and talk. It’s Perfect.” (Submitted by Ashley Burnell)

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18.

“Just let it go and let it be – its not about how it looks, just about two people in love.”(Submitted by Olivia A. Rodriguez)

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Thank you to everyone who submitted their wonderful advice!

Feel free to share!

Heartful.ly Registry - the Wedding Registry that Gives Back
by Christina Child

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"Celebrate your big day by making someone else’s"

We are so happy to share this awesome company with you!  Heartful.ly is a wedding registry that connects generous couples and their communities to charitable projects around the world. From building a classroom in Tanzania to providing warm meals for children in need in the U.S.,  Hearful.ly allows your wedding gifts to contribute to building a legacy to grow with your marriage.  How sweet is that?!

Real couples making a difference

Casey and Ted - Special Olympics Missouri

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Casey's grandfather, J.D. developed a close relationship with Special Olympics during his life. He truly was passionate about the organization and the athletes. His love inspired Casey to begin coaching a Special Olympics basketball team when she moved to St. Louis 5 years ago. She has developed a bond with her players, families and other coaches that continues to grow every season. Now Ted can be seen assisting Casey and cheering from the bench like it is his own team. Special Olympics not only helps athletes stay active and healthy, but it is an integral platform in providing opportunities for success and friendship among each and every participant.

The amount of money generously donated through their registry sent 15 athletes through the Athlete Leadership Program!

Rusty and Monica - Sent a student to high school in Tanzania

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These two sponsored Zulfa Dadi with everything she needs for her first year of secondary school. Zulfa is a bright thirteen-year-old being raised by a single mom. Her mother works as a farmer, earning very little, and would have no way to pay Zulfa's school expenses. Zulfa is shy, sweet and whip smart- always finishing at the top of her class. She has ambitions to become a nurse, a dream that she would never have realized without their support.

We absolutely love the idea of selflessly foregoing traditional gifts to provide to those in need.  What a great way to start a marriage!

Want to learn more about Heartful.ly?!  Browse their list of current projects here...