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

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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!

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

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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?

Guest Post: How to Create a Rational & Practical Wedding Registry

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We had friends in town over the weekend and we ate our way through DC and survived the crappy weather! I am almost certainly catching the cold that is going around DC (figures) and only just sent out our holiday cards yesterday. I’m not used to feeling so behind on E V E R Y T H I N G but maybe I need to just accept this as my new normal. At any rate, I am hoping to get posts up the rest of the week, but will likely be quest through the New Year as we are headed north to beautiful Vermont for the week between Xmas and New Years.

For today we have our FAVORITE guest blogger, Kelsey, sharing her insights into creating a rational registry for your wedding. Take it away girl!

How to Create a Rational & Practical Wedding Registry | By: Kelsey

Here’s the thing about a wedding registry: it’s awesome. But it’s also stressful. Especially if you live in 700 square feet with another person and a dog. I’ve also lived with this person for six years so we’ve got a bunch of stuff. The trouble is new stuff is better.

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You’ve got to evaluate. What do you need? What should you probably replace because you’ve had it since freshman year? And finally, what do you want? Yeah, you get to get stuff you want too. Lucky for me, my fiancé loves to research everything. Like oh, you wanted to make marinated goat cheese as a gift for friends this holiday? You should consider vacuum sealing them to make them last longer. (Thirty minutes later) Did you know you improper canning may give people botulism? Seriously, this was a conversation we had today.

So we identified the pieces we wanted: pots and pans, knives, etc. and he got to work on finding the very best ones that would work for us. While I would love to have holiday china (this is a thing) I don’t have the space for it. While I would love to have a set of guest pillows and sheets, I don’t have space for it. Perhaps Joey says it best.

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In addition to the stuff, we also did a honeymoon registry. There are a ton of sites out there to host your honeymoon registry, for us, Zola worked best. We were able to create various experiences for our honeymoon at certain price points for guests to feel like they were contributing to something personal and not just giving cash.

I will leave you with one other nugget of knowledge. Some people, no matter how much time and energy you spend on your registry will go rogue. They will. They think they know better and that you absolutely must have an egg cuber or an authentic southern sweet tea brewer. Remember things can be returned and thank you notes must be written. Always.

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Tetiana & Tom’s Intimate, Modern DC Wedding at Fathom Gallery

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Images: Olivia Jacob Photography

It was a pretty productive week. I’ve got ALMOST all of my Xmas shopping done, I blogged 4 times this week (woo hoo!), had an AMAZING meeting with a prospective new member of the CapRoWedding Team (more to come here), and now we’re capping it off with one of Kara’s 2016 weddings: Tet & Tom’s gorgeous, modern Fathom Gallery Wedding. The winter vibes, intimate ceremony, and black & wedding theme are all stunning. I know you guys are going to love this one ~ have a great weekend Romancers! (PS- today is the LAST day of our 12 days of deals in the #CapRoShop ~ 10% off your ENTIRE order!! Just use #CapRo12Deals at checkout).

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Finding the right feel and size venue was the most time consuming and difficult part for us. We wanted to have a wedding in DC and reflect that city vibe we enjoy so much living in it every day. After months of searching, turned out the perfect venue was just a few blocks away from our place.

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We wanted wedding to be small and intimate with just closest family and friends. We worked with A.C from Capital Ceremonies leading up to our wedding to put together a custom ceremony that would fit us, show our personalities, allow our guest to learn a little more about us as a couple, include our daughter and honor our families.

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Wedding Planning Advice: Tell Your Guests the Right Ceremony Start Time

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Image: MelBee Photography

It’s been a while since I’ve written a long form blog post with some wedding planning knowledge, as I’ve mostly been including short tips into our monthly newsblasts, however, this one has crept up on me twice this year, and I’ve felt compelled to write a full post on it, because it’s important. So here it goes.

Dear wedding planning couples, do NOT write a time on your wedding invitations, other than the time that you want your wedding ceremony to actually start. The game of “oh but guests will be late” doesn’t work because they will be no matter what time you put. Here are some things to consider: if your wedding invitation says the ceremony starts at 5pm, some of your guests (especially ones that aren’t especially city-friendly) will be sure to leave plenty of time, to be on time. At every single one of my weddings, I have at LEAST one guest show up an hour before the ceremony start.

There are two main issues that come of telling your guests an earlier time on your invitation:

1. The ceremony space might not yet be ready for guests, as industry standard gives vendors 2-hours to load in AND set up your entire wedding space. Vendors need those two hours (which are almost ALWAYS cut short by early guests). Sometimes there is no where for guests to go while we are finishing the ceremony setup – so please don’t have your guests arriving any earlier than they need to be.

2. If you put an earlier time on your invites you will likely have some guests waiting for OVER AN HOUR for your wedding ceremony to start. That is not the best way to kick off your wedding day – especially if there is nothing for guests to do other than sit … and wait ….

Personally, as a day of coordinator, I get heartburn when this happens mostly because of reason 1, and slightly because of reason 2 (I am not happy if the guests aren’t happy ~ and bored, impatient guests are not happy), but there’s another factor for me: it gives my coordination team/brand a bad rep. Guests don’t know you put the wrong time on purpose, so instead guests think: oh this day-of coordinator can’t run things on time. If engaged guests are at your wedding, why would they look to hire the company that can’t get the ceremony to start on time? (They likely won’t).

You’ll be less stressed during wedding planning if you can come to terms early, that you cannot control your wedding guests opinions – so don’t even try. Treat your guests like adults and expect that if they want to get to your wedding ceremony on-time, they will. Believe me, it’ll make us ALL happier in the end.

4 Days Left in Our 12 Days of Deals on the CapRoShop!

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Romancers! There’s just FOUR days left to get DAILY DEALS in the #CapRoShop! Sneak in a last minute gift, or plan ahead for that special couple you know getting engaged or married next year! We’ve got 3 more days of coupons and the last deal, on December 16th, will be for EVERYONE!. Check out all your last opportunities to save:

Dec. 13: $2 off Bride & Groom Mug

Dec. 14: $3 off 2 Brides Pillow

Dec. 15: $5 off CapRoLove Tote bag

Dec. 16: 10% off entire order

Just use our CapRo12Deals coupon code to cash in. Shop Local. Shop Small. Shop CapRo.

Aaron & Meghan’s Tidal Basin & Georgetown, Washington DC Engagement Pictures

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Images: Lauren Love Photography

I was a bad blogger last week – I apologize (as always). Commuting to Chantilly daily for a week-long training for the day job was much more exhausting than I had estimated. I hope you guys had a great weekend. I took a train on Saturday to meet my mom in NYC and had a BLAST. We walked to Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, The TREE, and then enjoyed dinner, lots of socio-political conversation, and then, laughed for hours at the Puffs off-broadway play (a must-see for you Potter heads) An amazing day, that was only slightly less than perfect by us missing the last bus to NJ and having to take a not-so-cheap cab ride home!

We’ve got a good week on the blog though, and visiting NYC FINALLY put me in the Christmas spirit (aka time to freak out about shopping and buy ALL THE THINGS). The 12 Days of Deals is still going strong on the shop (don’t forget – a new deal each day!) and we have dear friends visiting us this upcoming weekend. So not too many complaints over here :) Now let’s get the week started with some LOVE, shall we?

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How they met:

Aaron was a young attorney at a law firm in Charleston, West Virginia where Meghan started working as a summer associate. They kept their clandestine office romance a secret until Meghan secured a job with a law firm in Washington, DC.

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How he proposed:

Approximately a year before the proposal, Meghan and Aaron enjoyed a nighttime walking tour of DC’s monuments. Amidst the crowds of tourists and rowdy groups of school children, they were drawn to the peaceful glow of the empty and undersized DC War Memorial. Amazed at their sudden solitude and the picturesque setting, they kissed passionately only to hear dozens of “whoooos!” from a large tour group of teenagers that had somehow quietly made its way to the Memorial. To recreate that special moment, Aaron took Meghan on a guided monument tour that ended at the DC War Memorial where he proposed with several excited tourists looking on.

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