Rose, Eggplant, & Teal Inspired Elopement Styled Shoot

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Images: Nikki Schell Photography via Two Bright Lights

This weekend did not actually flash by in an instant. It was actually quite great. Friday night Andy & I pretended to be young again, got a babysitter, and hit up the Zoo for a corporate party for my day job. Saturday I got up nice and early for some new CapRoWeddings team headshots (thanks again Amber Kay Photo!) – I am SO PUMPED to have some pro photos of my rockstar coordination team. Then Andy & I cleaned the house (I mean CLEANED) even after I had two too many glasses of red wine the night before. Seriously, how amazing does cleaning out your closet feel?!

Yesterday we cleaned up our front yard, mulched, planted new plants, and enjoyed the GORGEOUS weather. The rain was so depressing last week, it was so insanely amazing to see the sun. Oh, I also got a massage (mmmmmmmmmm so needed), some gorgeous flowers, a wood crate for my bike & dinner for a wonderful Mother’s Day. Like I said, a GREAT weekend. Now it’s all systems “DO ALL THE THINGS” for Evie’s big 1st birthday bash this weekend. I am so behind.

So instead of dwelling on how many things I have to do still for the party, let’s enjoy these REALLY gorgeous styled elopement that features a stunning color palette of dusty rose, eggplant purple, and the brightest, deepest, teals. Love. Happy Monday Romancers.

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The decision to shoot in Old Town Manassas came when the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin hadn’t hit peak bloom yet! There were magnolia blossoms all over Manassas and the whole feel of Old Town really fit what we were going for. Not only did the blossoms look lovely, they also matched the color palette (pinks, purples, deep teals) and the bride model’s hair!

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The bride and groom model are Kristin Mastrangelo and her husband, who have been together for many years. The dresses were all provided by Kayla Dreesen.

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Vendors ~> Photographer: Nikki Schell Creative, LLC | Hair & Makeup: Britin Artistry | Event Planner: Kayla Dreesen | Locations: Old Town Manassas | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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DIY Tutorial: Make Your Own Scented Soy Candles!


So freakin pumped to have Jenn Heller Design Co. back in action with her super rad DIYs on the blog! Today we have a DIY scented soy candle tutorial that would make an awesome wedding favor, shower gift, or really just fun to have for your own house. My husband LOVES candles, so my wallet my thank us if I just started making them instead of buying them! Check out all the details for this DIY tutorial below and have a VERY happy Friday Romancers!

DIY Scented Soy Candles Tutorial | By: Jenn Heller Design Co.


One of my favorite things to come up with DIYs for are wedding favors, for a number of reasons.  The first is that what to do about favors seem to be an uncomfortable choice for couples unless they have a great idea for a personal choice, and that translates to awkwardness for your guests too! Edibles are great but can be a problem due to a growing awareness of food allergies. I also love a favor that does double duty as a décor item for you, because if you’re spending the money you should get bang for your buck!  The other day I realized I had a perfect DIY on my hands that could be an awesome wedding favor – scented candles!

What you’ll need:


  • Wax chips (I used this brand)
  • Vessel to melt wax chips (I bought this aluminum pitcher, to avoid getting wax in my measuring cups and to let me melt the wax in bulk! You can also use a glass measuring cup like this one that can withstand heat, but be cautious if the handle can heat up too.)
  • Container for finished candles (I used these metal tins that seem perfect for favors, but you can use lots of things here! Mason jars, wine bottles that you’ve cut open – any container that won’t be damaged by the heat. You can also use larger canister-style containers for large candles.)
  • Wicks – make sure you get some appropriate to your container size! For my tins, I bought these 6” ones, and they were unnecessarily tall! I’ll be getting the 3.5” version next time.
  • Chopsticks or wick centering devices – if you’re making a ton, splurge for the centering thing. If you’re making 1 to try it out, use chopsticks. I bought the centering tool since I plan to make a bunch, so you’ll see it in the photos.
  • Essential Oils or Scent Additive of your choice! I love this brand of essential oils and use them for many homemade cleaning products.
  • Pot with water for melting wax, and optional metal cookie cutter (see instructions.)
  • Optional: Labels! The candle tins I used will take a 2” or 2 ¼” round circle perfectly. I have formatted your freebie design sheet for these circular labels but I’ve also provided the images as jpegs so you can make your own! Make sure you head to my site to download the label images I’ve designed for you!

Candles are super easy to make yourself, and with just a touch of essential oils you can enjoy a scented candle that is not only nice to smell, but has the benefits of aromatherapy without extra crazy chemicals! As favors, buying the components in bulk makes them reasonably inexpensive as well, and your rooms will smell amazing for a while after you make them.

PRO TIP: A note about craft store goods: You can find a lot of the tools/gear for making candles at larger craft chain stores.  I would be happy to use their tools but generally more wary about their raw materials like wax chips and ESPECIALLY their scents, as they might contain low quality stuff that you don’t want to be breathing in.


Let’s get started!


Reintroducing Jenn Heller Design Co.! (Fine Art, Stationery & Graphic Design Combined!)

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Image: Abby Grace Photography

For those of you reading the blog for a while now, you’ll likely recognize that beautiful smiling face above as Jenn, the DIY maven, and crazy-talented graphic designer that has been an integral part of Capitol Romance’s growth over these past few years. Under the Ribbons & Bluebirds name, Jenn has created amazing DIY tutorials for me and  designed all of my CapRo Workshop graphics. We had tiny humans around the same time, and so now we even get to spend time swapping Mompreneur stories.

For today, I’d like to pass the blog over to Jenn to re-introduce herself as she recently went through a major re-brand & website overhaul. I think you guys are going to love the new brand, the new website, and the new services & products Jenn is offering. Ladies & Gents, let me introduce to you, Jenn Heller Design Co!

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Image: Abby Grace Photography

Hi Romancers! I am so excited to have the chance to officially re-introduce myself as part of my rebrand, and tell you a little more about what I do. If you’ve been following Capitol Romance in the last few years, you may already know me as Jenn from Ribbons and Bluebirds from my DIY posts, but now I am happy to be back to launch  Jenn Heller Design Co!

I realized it was time for me to make a major change in my business over a year ago, when I didn’t approach the days with the same level of enthusiasm that I was used to.  After doing an illustration for a friend of my sister, I saw what I was missing!  I needed in inject a little more art into my graphic design work, and took  the opportunity to start fresh with a more personal brand when I realized I would be temporarily closing the business for maternity leave.

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Image: Abby Grace Photography

After taking some time off after my son was born last June, I relaunched full time this February and am now taking wedding and portrait clients for this year and 2017.

Before I went into graphic design I was an architect, and I have 5 years of formal training from university in traditional hand drafting and watercolour rendering.  It feels very natural to be infusing that art into my stationery designs, and am loving the changes so far!


Why the name change?

It felt like a chance to be more authentically myself – I never 100% got behind Ribbons and Bluebirds as a perfect representation of my work.  It seemed like an easy choice to become Jenn Heller Design Co, and leave things open-ended for what I’ll be designing in the future!

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So what is different about the company now?

In some ways, not that much is different – I’ve mainly added services! I wanted to shift the focus of my work to be more about the things I do that are unique, like my watercolor illustrations, custom maps, and architectural drawings!

I still offer full service custom wedding stationery and related products, like signage and day-of goods. In addition to wedding goods I now offer stand-alone illustration services and paintings, like watercolor pet portraits, venue paintings, or house portraits.

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Can we expect more DIYs from you?

Absolutely! I’ve been quiet on the DIY front for a while as I have been putting my efforts towards launching the new company and preventing my 10 month old from launching himself off various furniture pieces in my home.  Coming later this week is a new DIY Bree and I think you’ll love!

I’d love to make sure we’re working on the right balance of DIYs for you, since my ideas tend to come from what I need in my own life.  Let us know if you have an idea you’d love to see in a DIY and I’ll get working on it!

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How can I get in touch about services?

You can visit my website,, or send me an email to jennhellerdesignco [at] with questions!  I have a limited selection of goods in my Etsy shop but I continue to add them on a naptime-based schedule. Tragically not my own naptime.

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You can find Jenn:

Etsy Shop –
Instagram – www.instagram/jennhellerdesignco
Facebook –

Let’s Get Personal: A Letter to My Daughter


Today is Evie’s first birthday (happy birthday nugget!). And I’ve had this post brewing in my mind for quite some time. Little pieces here and there, but never found the time to actually sit down and write the whole thing out. So as we got closer to the big mile marker, I figured I would wait until her actual birthday to blog it. So here it goes:

For some reason I cannot at all remember now, Andy & I both agreed (secretly and not so secretly) that we wanted a boy. I have doodles from college that show mine & Andy’s family with 2 boys and our youngest being a girl (we even had names – wow we were young and in love!). Boy, boy, girl. That was the order I thought would be perfect for our family. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The second you were born, before the midwife could even tell me your sex, I knew you were a girl. That might sound unbelievable but it’s true. Instead of asking “what is it?”, I asked “girl?”, confirming what I already knew. And from that point on, the thought of so vehemently wanting a boy for our first child was gone forever.

When I try to think back on the reasons why I wanted a boy, I think it was mostly fear. Fear that I couldn’t handle a girl’s emotional being. Fear that I couldn’t handle the way other girls might treat mine (girls can be so mean!). Fear that my daughter might get the same insecurities I possess. Fear that I couldn’t properly raise a strong, independent woman.

But instead of the fear I once felt initially, I am instead filled these days with so much determination instead. I am determined to raise a woman that can absolutely handle female emotions (even if her mother can not). That can absolutely handle other girls and the way they might treat her. That can absolutely rise above the insecurities that so many women possess. And that will be as strong and independent as she wants or needs to be.


(Evie at 9 months)

As I reflect back on this past year with you, I can’t help but realize how much you’ve changed me and caused me to grow as a person and as a woman. I’ll admit that I expected motherhood to change me (how could it not?) but I thought it might give me more patience or help me to cut back on my sarcasm. It hasn’t, (sorry Andy!) but instead it’s given me something I did not expect to gain: confidence.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have the time anymore to get lost down the social media comparison clickhole or maybe it’s because when you have a whole other human to worry about, worrying about competition or not being as good as someone else, seems trivial, or perhaps it’s that my energy these days is completely maxed out between caring for you, my marriage, my day job, and this side hustle business of mine. There is no energy left for feeling sorry for myself or less than others.

You’ve already taught me so much in this first year I am excited (and ok, a tad apprehensive) at what year 2 will bring. But between your spunky, yet laid-back nature, and my newfound determination & confidence, I have a feeling that the exciting times will far outweigh the apprehensive ones.

Happy Birthday Evie. Love you so much!

Nadia & Dominique’s Washington DC Anniversary Pictures & Marriage Reflection

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Images: Vanessa Smith Photography

This weather is SO unmotivating!! We had a great (and pretty relaxing) weekend here in DC as my parents came to visit and hang with Evie just before her big F-I-R-S-T birthday tomorrow. We ate great food, watched Harry Potter 1 & 2 and otherwise just caught up on some great family time. This weekend I’ll be in crazy “make all the things” and “prep the house” for Evie’ first birthday bash the following weekend. But for today we have a darling Washington DC anniversary session.

I know I’ve said this before, but for some reason I NEVER got anniversary submissions and I really wish I got more. One because of the images, but two (and mainly) because I love the insight and marriage advice from the couple; two things I’d love to share more of on this blog as wedding blogs tend to focus way-too-much on just the wedding day (and the pricey details) and not the whole relationship and marriage part.

Dominique & Nadia have some great advice to share and their gorgeous images by Vanessa Smith clearly show how in love they are, two years after their wedding day. Happy Monday all!

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How did you two meet, how he popped the question, and where did you get married?

How we met: I moved to Cleveland, OH after undergrad at the University of Florida. I started hanging out with a sorority sister that went to Kent State University. She introduced me to Dominique since they both went to school together. We went on our first date at a sushi place in Strongsville, OH and spent everyday together after that. 3 months later I had to leave for my next position with my company to the DC area. He spent the next 3 years driving to see me in DC, Indiana and Philly until we got married in 2014.

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How he proposed:

We went on a cruise to the Caribbean for my 25th birthday, he pretended to lose his phone at one of those deck parties that the ship throws at night. Next thing I know, they call him up on stage to claim his phone, they gave him the mic to say where he was from, and then all of a sudden he says “I just want to give shoutout to my beautiful girlfriend, Nadia” (then I proceeded to smile embarrassingly and walk up to stage). Then he says “I just want to let her know , that I want to spend the rest of my life ” (at this point, the ENTIRE ship gasps out loud). Then he pulls out a ring out of his pocket (and it started making sense why he was acting so weird the whole night). First thing out my mouth was “you are kidding me!” …then I said “yes”.

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The best thing about being married & the hardest thing about being married:

Having a partner to grow with and experience life together. I cant imagine my life without him…it would be like losing a limb at this point.

Hardest thing is realizing that I cant change him, I can only change how I react to him. Loving Dominique is a choice, and my goal is to make that choice everyday.

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Any advice to couples that are getting married?

My advice to newly weds or newly engaged: Be transparent. You’re partner is not a mind reader. Be comfortable telling each other what you do and don’t like. Be comfortable accepting feedback and making an effort to adjust.

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Your biggest regret from your wedding day? Or anything you would have done differently?

No regrets. Everything happens for a reason, and those experiences made me the woman I am today. I would have relaxed more and been less worried about small details.

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Jade & Jonah’s DIY, Festival Themed Wedding Outside DC

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Images: Pangtography 

West Virginia might technically fall outside of my regional requirements but once I saw the images from this festival themed wedding and just the whole vibe of the day – I simply fell in love. Plus, the venue was in Shepherdstown, WV which is only about an hour and a half from Washington, DC and 30 minutes from the outer parts of Northern Virginia, so really not THAT far outside my radius. Plus, as the submitters stated, “it’s a great place to come and escape the city … and get more for your dollar”.

Jonah & Jade’s wedding is full of colors, DIY projects, festival-themed details, and SO MUCH LOVE. I’m telling you – I thought this was a styled shoot at first, it’s so gorgeous, but really it was just a total labor of love (the bride and her friends did a lot – and hired the perfect vendors to cap it all off). I know you’re going to love this one!

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Jonah and I met through  mutual friends at a reggae show. I remember whispering to my friend before meeting him, “Look at that tall surfer looking dude with long hair over there.” One day, my sister invited me to come along to go pontooning on the Potomac River with some friends. It was a gorgeous day out, my friends and I were playing our guitars and  singing. Jonah was there and I remember him swinging from tree branches and doing these crazy cool dives in the water.  I nicknamed him, “Tarzan.” Jonah lived on the Shenandoah River so that summer our friends would go on tube floats followed by cookouts at Jonah’s with music and t-ball. Many hikes, reggae shows, cookouts, and floats down the river later, Jonah asked me on a date and the rest is history.

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Five years later, Jonah asked me out to dinner. Before I could get out the door, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes! And the wedding planning began!

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It was very special to have our wedding ceremony at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, where we are both members. Jonah’s father, Randy Tremba, is the church’s minister and officiated our wedding ceremony.

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We are very close to our families, so the bridal party included our brothers, sisters, their wives, husbands, and kids. The wedding ceremony had both traditional and non-traditional elements. There was live music throughout played by several of our musician friends. Than and Mary Anne Hitt opened up the ceremony with “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. My father walked me down the aisle to the sound of two mandalins and a guitar strumming “The Wedding March” by George Frederick Handel. I carried a custom hand tied bouquet designed by one of my girlfriends, Westvirjeni. It was huge and colorful, asymmetrical and adorned with pheasant feathers.

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DIY Workshop Recap! Makeup Tips & Skills with Ariel Lewis

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

Images: Photos from the Harty

The beginning of the month brought the 2nd District Bliss Workshop and now we have ALL the fabulous images and details from the event! Ariel Lewis was on hand to teach attendees all about make-up: your best colors for your skin tone, how to apply a day-to-day look, and how to transform it into an evening look, and (my personal frenemy) eyebrows! The next workshop is not yet announced, but you know we’ll be sharing all the details once it is! Be on the look out here, OR sign-up for our newsletter to be the first to know. Check out all the fun these attendees had next! Happy Hump Day Romancers.

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı
Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı

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Guest Post: The Difficult Decision to Change Your Wedding Date (& Going With Your Gut in General)

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We’re back to blogging after finally getting caught up from vacation and heading into an awesome (but not at all relaxing) weekend. I had my 2nd wedding of the season (and there’s already an amazing same day edit video AND some image sneak peaks from the day. total vendor dream team), and then we day tripped to Philly to surprise our two best friends for their 30th birthday party. A lot of driving, but always worth it to see good friends.

For today we have a great wedding planning advice piece about changing your wedding date. I like this post because it can be more broadly applied to most wedding decisions in general – the fact that you REALLY have to go with your gut on them … no matter how hard or difficult it might seem to make a change. It also shows how, even if it’s tough, it’s never too late to change your mind – you have options. It’s better to make a tough call after a few weeks of planning, than have a huge regret later. Weddings cost too much and take too much time to plan, to regret ANY of the choices involved. So here’s Carolyn with her story on changing her wedding date.

Changing your Wedding Date | By: Carolyn Thomb

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Life is never cut and dry, there will always be hiccups and things thrown in your path that you need to overcome. The same applies to wedding planning. No matter how organized and prepared you are, there are just some things you can’t control. This amazing thing that was thrown into Jon and I’s path was not a bad thing, but an amazing opportunity.

Back in November Jon applied for a great job and is currently still going through the application process. One thing we have found out is that if he gets the job his training is from July till October. Yes, and we had our wedding set for a gorgeous Friday in September. We also found out that they are very unlikely to let Jon have the Thursday and Friday off to get married. So for a few months I was sitting on pins and needles wondering what we were going to do. We couldn’t move the wedding to earlier or before he left and I didn’t want to make it later, not knowing what his work schedule would be like.

Finally, I made the call and asked all the essential people involved about a new date and if it was at all possible. So then came a week of so many emails and texts to family members, bridal parties and vendors. Thankfully we are surrounded by very supportive family and friends and they had no problem with it at all. The vendors were all amazing as well and assured me there was no issue with moving the wedding from the Friday to the Sunday and keeping the timing all the same. Right then I was reassured even more with my choices for vendors and was finally able to breathe and continue on in the planning.

We are now just sending out the Save the Dates, which is being done a little later than I wanted to, but it is better late than having to send out a separate note with the change of date.

My advice to anyone out there facing this predicament is to just look at all of the possibilities and then choose the best option for you as a couple and then take into consideration the rest of the essential people involved in the decision process. Try and do the deciding sooner rather than later so you don’t have to lose any of your deposits or vendors.

If any of you couples out there are going through this, don’t worry you aren’t alone! Everything will work out how it is supposed to and as long as you are with your honey you can get through anything.

An Alternative Wedding Cake Idea – A Literal Cheese Cake

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Image: Julie Napear Photography

We had a great time in Arizona. We survived the 5 hour plane ride there and back, but did not survive the “baby doesn’t understand time change” challenge and so we saw a lot of sunrises as we mostly got up in the 3 to 4am time frame. But our friends’ wedding was GORGEOUS (& it had a freakin’ BEER DONKEY), we stumbled upon an amazing Farmer’s Market in Phoenix, we introduced Evie to Sedona and got some off-roading done in Andy’s parent’s Bobcat. It was a great vacation, but it’s back to the grind of blogging, prepping for this weekend’s wedding, and shipping out CapRo Planners.

For today I have a super fun guest post from the Cheese Mongers at Righteous Cheese. I always say that I could survive on cheese alone and that I really don’t trust someone that doesn’t like cheese. Because cheese, is amazing. So what better way to have a truly alternative wedding cake, than to have a literal CHEESE cake. Plus these cheese mongers are #madeinDC, serving up local cheese out of Union Market. If you haven’t been, check them out AND consider this non-traditional wedding cake option!

Cheese Wheel Wedding Cake Trends | By: Carolyn, the Cheese Expert at Righteous Cheese


Image: Taylor & Ben Photography

A rapidly growing trend for cutting-edge, food-loving couples is the cheese wheel wedding cake. Cheese-loving brides and grooms who are looking to incorporate unique & distinctive wedding elements are quickly discovering this delicious alternative to a traditional cake.

Each “cake” is formed by stacking several cheese wheels in varying sizes and colors, chosen based on appearance or taste. Some cheese shops have standard cheeses they prefer to use for cakes; but many also craft custom pieces, which creates a bespoke wedding experience. Cakes can be decorated with flowers, fruit, ribbon, and even a traditional cake topper. In addition to being a delicious wedding addition for any food-lover, a cheese wheel cake is an ideal gluten- and sugar-free option, to either replace a traditional cake or even served alongside more conventional desserts.

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Image: Rodney Bailey

What to know before you go:

  • If you don’t already have a favorite cheese shop, ask your caterer if they work with any area cheese shops that might be able to create a cheese wheel cake. Although you can ship cheeses, the best option is a local business that can walk you through the process and avoid shipping.
  • When choosing a cheese shop, make sure that you will be able to taste the cheeses before making a final decision. Balance what you prefer yourselves with what you think your guests will like. The cheesemonger will be a great resource for this – they often know what cheeses are most popular.
  • The cheese shop can provide accompaniments for the cake (fruit, nuts, crackers, etc) so inquiring is never a bad idea. Otherwise, your caterer may be able to provide delicious accompaniments.
  • Be sure to reach out in advance, as many cheese shops are small and will need to schedule a tasting to truly give each couple their full attention. Since the shop may have to special-order the cheeses for you, try to set up a tasting at least 2-3 months in advance of your wedding, and have a contract or agreement in place at least 1 month prior.
  • The size of your event will likely influence the size of your cake, so discuss sizing options at the shop, and have an idea of how many people will likely be attending.
  • Many shops will offer to deliver or decorate for you on the day-of and some will only provide the cheese. Whatever services you choose may come with additional fees. Find out what your services your cheese shop offers (and pricing) before committing.
  • It is also entirely possible to keep with the cake-cutting tradition, if your cake is topped with the right cheese! Ask the cheesemonger if they have any good options to incorporate a cake-cutting into the event.
  • Artisanal cheeses are small-batch, which means that sometimes, unforeseen forces prevent a particular cheese from getting to the shop. At your tasting, talk about the consistent availability of the cheeses you’ve selected, and backups in case the cheese is not available.
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