Bree Ryback

DIY Workshop: Potato Printing on Tea Towels Workshop ~ Feb 12th!

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The next District Bliss DIY Workshop is a go, and they’re taking things to a whole new level of crafting: potato printing on tea towels with Jodi of the Neighborgoods. How freakin’ cool?! Using legit potatoes to create a custom tea towel for your home!

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Join District Bliss & The Neighborgoods on February 12th at West Elm in Logan Circle in DC from 10am to 12pm. The workshop ticket will include all the tools & items you need to learn how to carve potatoes to print on your own tea towel or tote bag.

You’ll also get 15% off West Elm all day, sips & treats, gifts & some surprises. Oh and fun. This is definitely going to be fun.

 

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Get your tickets now —> click here and scroll to the bottom!

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Personal Post: My 2017 Business Goals & Plans

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Image: Mathy Shoots People

I already feel behind on my business plans for 2017, how is that even possible?! Last year was a transition year for my business – we did a lot more work behind the scenes to understand what works and what doesn’t, where spending our time makes sense and where it doesn’t, and working on launching new things. I was happy to see the overall revenue of the LLC as a whole increase, but felt like there was SO MUCH MORE I wanted (needed) to do in 2016.

But hey, that’s the beauty of owning a small business, there are always new goals to set and new things to learn, and new roads to try and travel. So for 2017, I hope to refocus and work on honing and growing some of our core offerings: blogging, wedding coordination, & ecommerce.

Blogging: I took a big step back from the blog after I had Evie – some because of time/priorities changing and some because my business priorities shifted. I spent 2016 launching the wedding planner & finally getting the shop up and running. However, what I learned is that my blog is still one of the corner stones, and frankly most successful, parts of this business. It helps my SEO, it feed my wedding coordination clients, and (I hope) it will drive traffic to our online store as well. I’ve changed advertising up a bit, and I reallllly hope to re-design the blog this year, to simply the design and some of the functionality we don’t keep up with. We’ll see :)

Wedding Coordination: While I took a step back from taking more than 8-9 clients in 2016 (and I don’t really see that changing in 2017), our wedding coordination business is BOOMING. With Kara joining the team last year, we took on 26 clients and I am SUPER PUMPED to share that we will have a new coordinator joining the Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination team for 2017, Amanda!! Amanda will be “interning” with Alesha, Kara & I for our early weddings and will start to take on her own clients in the second half of 2017. We are barely two weeks into this year and we already have 20 weddings booked and have 4 consults in the pipeline and seem to be getting new inquiries every day! I am SO excited about this – but it also means it’s time for this arm of my business to mature a bit in terms of how we do our inquiries, payments, & bookings. I will be looking to sign-up with HoneyBook or some sort of online service to help us better manage our inquiries, deposits, and contracts. I think it’s finally time.

eCommerce: My goal for the CapRoShop in 2016 was simple: just launch the damn thing. It took SO MUCH LONGER than I ever expected to get that thing up and running. But now it’s finally there, and Kara & I are figuring it out, and for 2017 I hope to spend more time on marketing our products and looking for ways to wholesale our products. I am hoping to find vendors that might use our products as client gifts, or stores in DC that might be interested in selling our apparel. The skies the limit here and I am excited to see how we can grow the shop in 2017.

Email Marketing: In 2016 I made a personal goal to get better about sending at least a monthly newsletter. I’ve done pretty well at sticking to this, but in 2017 I am hoping to kick our emails into another level. With the varying arms of our business and varying interest levels of our readers/followers, I plan to get better at creating more specific lists of recipients – those that are in the throws of wedding planning, those that are already married and want more on events/business happenings, and those only interested in the shop. I will be honest, I have NO IDEA how I am going to do this … but I look forward to trying to figure it out :)

Speaking Engagements: In 2017 I would LOVE to get into more business/entrepreneur spaces to serve on panels, give talks, be a keynote at conferences, etc. I am not exactly sure how to do this either, other than planning on adding a page to the blog that says “Hey! I’m fun! Let me talk at your event!”, but maybe writing it here will help. Last year we got to be on a podcast (man was that fun!!!) and we co-held a workshop at The Lemon Bowl and our own for Cherry Blossom Creative’s Maker Series, but I want MORE in 2017! I am looking forward to what opportunities might present themselves in this area and am super excited to share that I’m being interviewed on Friday for a local DC entrepreneur podcast (more details coming!). So if you’re planning a conference or event and need a speaker, or panel member, that can talk about the wedding industry, starting a business, managing a side hustle, or being a hustling mompreneur, I am your woman.

Alright, I think we’ll wrap it up here! It feels awesome just to get these goals out into the world and I hope to hear from anyone that might have ideas, insight, or even just words of encouragement on these topics. Stay hungry Romancers!

Ellis & Peggi’s Great Falls Engagement Pictures Outside Washington, DC

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Images: Porter Watkins Photography

Hope you guys had a great weekend! It felt so nice to actually have a weekend without holiday madness or travel. I ran in the snow, treated myself to a massage, helped my little sis celebrate her birthday (and then paid for it yesterday ~ ouch), got a new hairdo & launched new products in the CapRoShop (check it out!!). We’re kicking off the week with LOVE from Porter Watkins Photography with a darling Great Falls engagement session that makes us a bit nostalgic for Fall.

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We are renting a little house in Arlington, VA (close to east falls church metro) with our fuzzy kitty-son Billy. Ellis is a consultant at Evolent Health – Healthcare economics research and modeling. Peggi is a geospatial analyst at Digital Globe – satellite imagery for days! We met playing coed recreational soccer in DC for DC metro sports league.

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Ellis proposed at home, somewhat unplanned… We had just returned from playing our first 18 holes of golf together and I caught him moving the ring out of his golf bag. I was rounding the corner from the kitchen with my mouth full of a snack and still managed to say yes while crying and chewing. It was awkward but perfect.

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We wanted our photo session to be somewhere outdoorsy so we could capture the fall colors which we both love! Porter suggested Great Falls and it was a no-brainer :)

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Colorful Indian Wedding at Bolling Hawall House in Richmond Virginia

Dragon Studio, Virginia Weddings, Virginia Beach Weddings, Hampton Roads Weddings, Norfolk Weddings, Destination Weddings, Wedding Photography

Images: Dragon Studio via Two Bright Lights

Friday got me like whoa. Looking forward to a weekend without an insane amount of holiday prep or wedding consults to do! Going to attempt a mini “Treat Yo Self” weekend with a massage, much overdue hair cut & color, and sneaking in a 6.5 mile run of course! Hope you all have a great weekend Romancers ~ here’s some stunning, rich green infused Indian wedding inspiration to help get you to the weekend!

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Bridget & Matt’s Green, Rainy Day Music Fest Themed DC Wedding

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Images: Sarah Culver Photography

Between my team and I – we’ve worked a TON of weddings at Josephine Butler Parks Center – it’s hands down one of our favorite venues in the city for so many reasons. But one is the versatility in the space. Every wedding I work or showcase here always looks unique and just freakin’ gorgeous. Bridget & Matt’s wedding is no exception and they had their ceremony in the MOST UNIQUE setup within the space! These two incorporated a ton of greenery, grasses, and natural decor into the space and did not let the super rainy day bring them down. So many details from planner Simply Breathe Events & gorgeous images from Sarah Culver. Check it out!

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They originally chose Josephine Butler Parks center because it reflected a natural, yet romantic feel and they appreciated the history behind the DC mansion. The Wedding colors they chose (green & pink) enhanced this, and the mixed metals gave their wedding a more urban feel.

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This spring our area was plagued with rainy weather for about two months, so when it came time for their wedding we had to execute their rain plan for an indoor affair. Bridget was absolutely in love with JBPC’s french doors so it was a no brainer to have their ceremony repositioned under the chandelier as the rain came down.

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Guest Post: How to Craft the Perfect Vows with Ceremonies by Bethel

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Image: Cynthia Shipp Photography

I met Bethel at Wedding Wire World a few years ago when Kathryn Hamm asked me to be on a panel at the event. We clicked instantly and though she lives across the US from us, we remain engaged & connected through quick emails and social media. After my last newsletter, Bethel mentioned liking the advice portion I include in our monthly newsblasts and I asked if she would like to write one. Bethel is a deeply experience wedding officiant and her views on weddings & couples are so in-line with ours here at Capitol Romance, it seemed like the perfect fit.

The newsletter only allows for once sentence, but Bethel had a lot more to share, and so we thought a guest post on the topic of writing and exchanging vows would be useful for the readers here that are in wedding planning mode. I’ll let Bethel take it from here!

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Image: Mathy Shoots People

How to Write & Exchange Modern and Perfect Wedding Vows | By: Ceremonies by Bethel

Remember, the exchange of vows is one of the key reasons for your wedding day and the vows are supposed to last as long as you do.  So I recommend that you put a lot of thought into what you want to promise and how you want to promise it. I think good personal vows answer these two questions:

– How do I feel about my life partner, and why have I chosen him/her?

– What promises do I want to make for our life together? 

So, most vows have a combination about why this is the person they love and have chosen, and what they are promising each other.  It can be as serious or as funny as you want, or typically a combination of both, but it should represent you and your relationship.

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Image: Amber Mahoney

Essentially there are four ways to do vows:

  • A question or multiple questions that you answer either “I do,” or “I will,” (or even “I’ll try!”).
  • Vows that you say in phrases, as a “repeat after me.” {Note that I don’t recommend this style unless doing only the traditional vows}
  • Vows that you read yourself from a card or piece of paper (don’t try to memorize them!)
  • As a conversation, reading it back and forth to and with each other (also from cards).

Most couples do the type of vows described in #3 nowadays, as a way to personally express their feelings and their vows to each other, or a combination of #1 and #3, to allow them to say “I do” as well as express their own feelings – unless they hate to speak in front of people, in which case they do some version of #1 or #2.  Sometimes version #4 also takes the pressure off doing it all by yourself.

Another thing to consider is the typical length of vows.  Couples ask me and this is what I usually see:

  • If writing questions to answer – usually 3-6 questions
  • If a paragraph to read themselves – usually 150-225 words

Some couples do shorter, and some do longer, but this is the normal range that I see from my couples.  I definitely don’t recommend longer than 300 words, as that feels really long to the guests listening to you read them, in addition to the fact that you might be more emotional than you think, and therefore that is a long time to read while emotional.

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Image: Douglas Pettway

So keep it succinct, personal, and true to who you are ~ three simple things to remember to create the perfect, modern vows for your wedding ceremony!

Let’s Get Personal: 2016 Reflection & Year in Review

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Images: Mathy Shoots People

Well Romancers, we survived the holidays, a long 8+ hour drive back from Vermont, and the roller coaster year that was 2016. Next week I plan to break down my business goals for 2017, but for today, my first post in the new year, I thought I would reflect on the insanity that was last year.

I’ll try to stay away from the political things (I think I’ve posted enough about that) and instead focus on my business – what went right, what went wrong, and what we could have done better. It was a year of change for my business – I said goodbye to my workshops, started new recurring posts (hello Mompreneur series), worked on growing my social media presence (woo hoo hitting 2K+ followers on Instagram!), and tried my hand at a little thing called eCommerce.

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The CapRoShop was (and continues to be) my biggest challenge and growth point from 2016. It was a completely new arm of my business and is something I knew very little about going in, but consequently that means I learned SO MUCH this past year about launching an online ecommerce business. How to stand-up the online instance (SSLs, WooCommerce, Printful, Designs, Penning Product Descriptions, and more), and how to attempt to market the shop (giveaways, collaborations, and OH THE MARKETING) were challenging, stressful, and still very much both of those things. I could have never done with without the help of so many and honestly by the end of 2016 I was mostly just glad I finally was able to launch the damn thing. I have a LOT MORE on my plate with the shop for this year (more in next week’s post on 2017 business goals), but for now I’ll just say that it was one of the biggest things that came out of 2016 for Capitol Romance.

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But really the thing that started it all with regards to CapRo going eCommerce would be that we launched our first ever PRODUCT in 2016, the infamous Capitol Romance Wedding Planner! Born out of an idea that came to me during the Blogcademy, it took a long time to write out all the content and work tirelessly with the insanely talented & amazing Typecase Industries to bring the planner to life. We’ve sold out 3 printings of the planner & released new cover color options. Our “All We Do is Plan Plan Plan” cover is by far our most popular & we look forward to continued sales in 2017!

On the wedding coordination side of the house, we officially welcomed Kara to the CapRo team for 2016 weddings and are excited to share that we hope to have ANOTHER kickass rockstar coordinator on board the team for 2017! We collectively worked 26 weddings last year (up 9 from 2015) and I know we’ll top that in 2017. We continually have the BEST clients in the DC area and I can’t wait to see what our clients cook up for us this year.

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On the personal side of things, I tried to take a step back from the business in 2016. I said goodbye to the DIY workshops (which still live on, thankfully with District Bliss!), and took only a handful of coordination clients. I cut back on blogging too, which will likely continue in 2017 as those with blogs know – blogging is time consuming with a capital T. I hope to continue to have guest bloggers to help (please! submit posts!), but will spend the time instead with that cute ole family you see in this post today.

As always, I have to thank YOU, my readers & supporters for keeping this business alive. It’s the only way this business has survived since 2011 and it’s the only reason it’s still forging on for another year. So thank you guys and I look forward to a new year of learning, challenges, and growth.

stay nasty,

Bree

Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea: Give a Give for GOOD from Heartful.ly

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Well then we’ve got your covered! If you haven’t heard, Heartful.ly is an ah-mazing company that helps you gift the gift of donations & money to support amazing causes. Couples can use Heartful.ly for their wedding registry and YOU can use Heartful.ly this holiday season to give a gift in honor of someone you love, to a cause that needs it.

It’s really very simple.

  1. Go here
  2. Find your cause or project (like helping shelter animals, or sending underprivileged children to summer camp, or ensuring low-income women have access to health care … or … THE LIST GOES ON)
  3. Purchase the specific gift/amount you’d like
  4. Upon checkout, be sure to notify your recipient that they are receiving an AMAZING gift, in their name, helping someone in need this holiday season

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Yup. It’s really that easy! We hope you consider sending a gift this season, using Heartful.ly, or perhaps for your wedding registry, OR perhaps you’ll be on the lookout for an upcoming collaboration we hope to host with Heartful.ly in the new year.

Thanks everyone!

Let’s Get Personal: Coming to Terms With Privilege

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Image: Mathy Shoots People

Ever since the election, I’ve found myself reading more think pieces, reflection posts, and opinion articles than my brain & emotional state can handle. Pieces that attempt to explain what the hell happened, why rural Americans voted how they did (and how we should or shouldn’t feel about that), how women & immigrants could vote for him, and what the heck we should do, feel, think, say …. yes it’s exhausting, but it seems to be all I can do these days as I STILL wake up wondering when I will no longer feel like I am in a bad dream. Because honestly, most of my days, I still cannot believe we elected this man to be our President.

But of the countless articles I’ve read, there is a topic that has caused me to do the most soul searching and questioning: the topic of privilege.

Privilege is a layered topic and one that is not always easy to discuss. I acknowledge that being a women puts me at an immediate disadvantage in some realms, but on the whole, being upper middle class and white, puts me at a certain level of privilege that many are not afforded. And while I can say that I empathize with those that are less fortunate than me, or aren’t afforded the same luxuries as me, I can’t truly know what it’s like to not have a certain level of privilege.

And I’ll admit that this is challenging for me. Sometimes I feel like apologizing to the world (“I never asked for this privilege”), sometimes I feel the need to get super defensive (“But I am also disadvantaged in other ways”), and sometimes I just sit at my laptop, reading, and not at all knowing what to do or so. If you know me you know that having nothing to do or say isn’t exactly in my nature.

So here I am, admitting that I am a privileged individual, that is conflicted and unsure of how to deal with that privilege. The think pieces and opinion articles written by those that are less privileged than myself have opened my eyes to the experiences of others that I hadn’t considered before. I am now potentially more aware, but still completely unsure of how to rectify or come to terms with my privilege. Do I read more articles? Do I try to have hard discussions? Do I ask questions?

I am worried of looking insincere, or offensive, or worse, ignorant. And if I don’t know how to deal with this, how the heck am I going to properly teach my daughter about the topic?

At this point I think the thing I’ve come back to the most, is the power of listening. Not always trying to defend myself or needing to say something in response – just listening to other points of view, trying to understand what it’s like from another, less-privileged perspective, and learning all I can from the varying pieces. I won’t ever be able to erase the privilege that my race, my upbringing, or my gender has given me – but I can continue to try and understand how that privilege might affected the way I react, the things I do, or the things I might say. I can challenge myself to listen more, understand further, and challenge others to do the same. Because what’s really the point of being granted something like privilege if I don’t try to use it for the betterment of others?

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