Bride to Be Guest Blogger Kelsey: The 1st Thing You Need to Do When You Start Planning a Wedding

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Kelsey is back for more guest blogging as she plans her wedding! Check out her post today about picking your wedding venue and the FIRST THING you need to do when planning a wedding!

The first thing that you need to do when you start wedding planning is panic. Go ahead. Take a moment or two, let it out. I have the time, just look at this picture of my dog.

I know! Norman is the best. Ok, are we back? Awesome. Welcome back. The important thing to know is that it’s going to be fine and even after all of your spreadsheets you’re going to be married at the end of this, and that is what matters.

Now, first things first. The where. You know that what – marriage. You know the who – your fiancé. You know the when – well, if you don’t you will really soon. So that where. You may get pulled in 16 different directions in attempting to answer this question.  Family, friends, Sandals resorts, or all of the above may sway you. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you’re happy. For us, it was DC. Weirdly we both grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania.

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But we met as semi-adults in DC at The George Washington University and the rest is history. We grew into who the pretty fantastic people we are today in DC, it’s where we paid our first rent check, and took our first Uber, it’s home. Once we knew DC was the place, we had to pick the actual where.

Now things get tricky. Know what you want. But more importantly, know what you don’t want. Things I did not want: a hotel ballroom, Virginia, and that’s about it. Sorry Virginia. I’m not sorry. Ruling out a hotel actually helped a lot. It left us with museums, historical places, parks, and some random restaurants.

Now, what kind of vibe do you want for your wedding? Is it modern, shabby chic, formal, rustic, or something in between? Let that guide your venue selection. Look at their website, then instagram the venue. How does it make you feel? For me, this process was more emotional than the wedding dress fitting (more on that later). When I walked into the venue I wanted a certain feeling. Like, remember when you visited colleges and everyone told you to ‘go with your gut’ and you were all, ‘what does that even mean?’ Do that here. Visit your top five venues. Talk with the event person. Ask them a ton of questions.

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What are the reception layout options? How many people does this space hold for dinner and dancing? What time do we have to be out of the space? What time can we load in? Is there an extra charge for the load in? What’s your favorite color? Do you have vendor restrictions? Can I have a confetti cannon, if so how many? Twelve max? Book it.

What I am trying to say is when you walk into your venue I want you to feel comfortable, wow, and happily ever after. Imagine your first dance, imagine your tipsy Aunt Peg, and imagine your pictures. This place is it. It’s the foundation for the rest of your planning. It’s like the very best dough for the best pizza ever. And this pizza is your wedding.

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Ok, ok I’ll tell you. I picked the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It had the formal wow factor that I was looking for. I want drama and glamour. This venue did that and more. Now I just need to bring in everything else, because fun fact about museums, they don’t have chairs and tables and silverware, because they’re a museum.

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Mana & Mathew’s Surprise Proposal on the Steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC

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Images: Kir2Ben Photography

I‘ll admit I am not at all ready for this week guys. Last Friday destroyed me (2, two-hour meetings at the day job and I worked from 7:30 to after 6 … ouch) and then Evie decided that once again, 5:15am was an appropriate time Saturday AND Sunday to wake up (insert painful emoji). We did get to enjoy some H Street Fest, but the lack of sleep isn’t ideal, especially as Andy heads out of town for the next few days.

The struggle is real. But at least this adorable surprise proposal on the steps of the Supreme Court is full of smiles, laughs, adorable dogs, and a gorgeous engagement ring. Hoping it helps brighten your week like I’m hoping it will mine. Happy Monday Romancers.

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From the photographer:

When Mat decided that he was going to propose to Mana, he knew that it had to be on the Supreme Court steps. The two met in law school and this building had a huge significance to them in their relationship. Mat also knew that, however he proposed, he would have to incorporate “the boys” into the proposal. I was shocked to find out that “the boys” meant their two small doggies Mario & Luigi!

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This was the best planned out proposal I have ever seen or been a part of. Mat contacted me a few weeks prior to photograph the proposal and I did not expect the planning that followed. Mat not only had code names for all participants involved but he also had a definitive timeline as well as an elaborate, fake backstory concocted so a mutual friend to escort Mana to the steps without becoming suspicious. He even arranged for another one of their pals to be playing violin when he got down on one knee. If that wasn’t enough, their dogs were standing by to celebrate with them once the surprise was completed.

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He effortlessly coordinated 4 people, 2 animals, a musician and a photographer all to show his commitment to the woman he loves. How romantic is that?! Truthfully, the whole proposal went off without a hitch! I have never seen a woman so surprised in my entire life. The well-dressed Mat knelt down on one knee on the Supreme Court steps as classical violin serenaded the two sweethearts. Through tears of shock and joy, Mana said yes and jumped into the arms of her now future husband.

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By then, crowds of tourists had gathered and applauded the two as they embraced and exchanged the most romantic kiss. I felt like I was watching a movie through my camera lens. I was lucky enough to capture a few portraits with the newly engaged pair after Mana said yes. Their laughter and sheer joy was contagious. We had the best time taking pictures in the surrounding park with their two pups in tow. Hats off to Mat for pulling off the most epic proposal of all time and a massive congratulations to the future Mr. & Mrs. Rommel.

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Matt & Sarya’s Laid-Back, Fun Josephine Butler Parks Center Wedding in DC

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Images: Mathy Shoots People

There are some inquiries I get that just stick with me. Some that I can tell from just a few sentences, are MEANT to be clients of ours. Such was the case with Matt & Sarya. Matt & Sarya shared that they wanted a simple, but fun wedding – they initially considered a pop-up wedding with Pop Wed Co! but decided they wanted something a bit larger. Which led them to JBPC and then Kara’s own wedding .. and then a workshop I hosted at the Lemon Bowl earlier this year.

Total universe/stars aligning type stuff. She told me she admired Kara’s wedding during the Sunday drum circles and after she found out Kara was actually #TeamCapRo, she just KNEW they had to work with us.

Well hot damn are we thrilled it worked out this way. Matt & Sarya’s wedding was GORGEOUS and 100% them. Kara kicked it with her coordination skills, and I am so pumped to share their full wedding on the blog today! Here it is.

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After Matt and I got married, we focused on what our marriage would look like and firmly believed that the wedding day was going to be only one day out of many that we’d have together–this meant that we wanted the day to be a reflection of us and the community of love and support we’d need in our lives together. Those anchored our event planning and the rest of the details, wanted to make sure would be as painless as possible!

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When we learned that couples can marry themselves in DC, we went for it. At first we weren’t sure exactly what it would entail. After talking through ceremony ideas, it was natural to have our families play a big role, especially our moms. We deeply respect them and admire the love they modeled in our lives, so for us it made sense that they would stand my our sides and help us along with our wedding vows. Our siblings, their families and children, walked down the aisle before us playing the role of our wedding party.

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Since we adapted traditional Khmer wedding elements (hand tying and umbrella ceremonies) and merged them into the ceremony and reception, we had our dear Khmer American friends take the mic and explain these elements as cultural ambassadors. Another one of our Khmer American friends keep the sister and mother-of-the-bride looking beautiful too.
We also tapped our friends to step in and help out as greeters, guest DJs, and go-to folks who handled anything that popped up during the day. The way everyone pitched in really made the day just right–just like a community would for hard time and for celebration.

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Click inside for the rest of this gorgeous, laid-back DC wedding!

Guest Blog: How to Plan a Multicultural Mash-Up Wedding (And Not Lose Yourself in the Process)

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Images: Jonna Michelle Photography

One of the things I’ve really loved about this business is the other small business owners it has opened me up to be able to meet. Amina is one of those small business owners and she owns an incredible natural soy candle & beauty goods shop. Amina also got married fairly recently and I DROOLED over her wedding images (totally hoping she would submit them here). She admitted to me recently that initially she wasn’t into making her wedding day so public (totally respect that – even as someone who’s life is all over the internets) but lately some of my personal posts (even the non-wedding related ones) made her think otherwise. Her wedding planning journey was far from easy and she thought hey, why not share it with others in case it helps other people who are in the same boat.

And boy was I so happy she did. So for today we have a long but totally worthwhile read from Amina – a bride that struggled with the wedding machine and what that meant for her TRULY multicultural life, relationship, & family. You guys are going to LOVE this post whether you are dealing with these things or not. Enjoy.

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For most of us, a wedding is the biggest event we ever plan in our lives. It simultaneously displays to the world our relationships, religious affiliations, family drama, personal tastes and much more that I’m definitely overlooking. My husband and I agree that planning a wedding is probably the worst way to start a new life together. You make huge decisions that come with enormous price tags, and have to reconcile differences in taste, style and worldview. Money, religion and family politics all come to a head in planning this event, along with the pressure of ensuring it is the happiest day of your life. No biggie.

Brad and I first met twelve years ago in high school. We will have been together for ten years this November. He’s like my right arm, and I couldn’t imagine life without him whispering witty jokes in my ear filled with pop culture references about all the people in line in front of us wherever we go. That being said, we come from nearly polar-opposite backgrounds. Planning our wedding was tough because nothing about us has ever been traditional, and reconciling the cultural mileu surrounding our tiny love bubble forced us to ask ourselves a lot of questions about who we were as people.

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My mom is Pakistani-American and my dad is African-American, and an Islamic convert. My siblings and I were raised Muslim. Brad’s family is white, hailing from the mountains of West Virginia and had a totally non-religious upbringing. When planning our wedding, we had to answer SO many questions that are a given for a lot of people. Here are an example of just a few of them –

  1. What kind of ceremony will we have? Will there be prayer at our wedding?
  2. Who will marry us?
  3. What color dress will I wear? Will I wear a Pakistani outfit or a white American wedding dress?
  4. How many days of events should we have?
  5. Who is walking in with who?
  6. Do we have to do all the dancing and awkward American wedding games?
  7. Will we serve alcohol?
  8. What kind of food will we serve?
  9. Kids, no kids? Will everyone hate us for not inviting their kids?
  10. Am I abandoning my culture by not incorporating everything?????

For me, some of these were big, existential questions that really cut to the core of who I perceive myself to be as a biracial, Muslim-raised American who is, a lot of the time, seen as an outsider by people. I had a lot of deep conflict about having an American-style wedding ceremony, even though I’m not religious in any sense. It felt as though I was abandoning the values and traditions I was raised with, even though it didn’t 100% apply to my current life, in favor of a culture and traditions that doesn’t always make me feel welcome.

For Brad, we needed to make sure his family felt included and didn’t feel out of place. A wedding without alcohol would be weird, and he’s not big on pretending to be someone he’s not. Doing things for appearances’ sake is not in his bag of tricks. We both drink. It’s not a secret, though it’s not openly discussed in my family.

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Instead of picking one kind of wedding, we settled on a fusion wedding, making up the rules as we went along. I was obsessed with wedding blogs for inspiration and finding examples of multicultural weddings was rare. A lot of the time, the “multicultural” weddings that I did see were more along the lines of my parents’ wedding back in the 80s: the couple getting married were of different backgrounds, but the entire wedding was in one culture’s traditions and style. We didn’t want to do that. We really wanted everything to feel very BRAMINA [#BRAMINA4Ever] and inclusive and welcoming to all the different people who were coming to celebrate with us. And now, after our wedding, that’s exactly what people tell us they liked most about it.

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Planning Our Cultural Mash-Up of a Wedding

It’s difficult to explain the array of options we had for everything, picking from so many different elements of Pakistani and American weddings, but I’ll do my best to explain.

Pakistani/Muslim weddings are traditionally a three-day affair with 300+ people in attendance. The Mehndi, the first day, is the official acceptance of the marriage offer. The bride wears yellow, little to no makeup, has her hands and feet henna’ed and gets skin treatments and other beauty rituals done. It’s traditionally a for-ladies-only affair and everyone gets henna.

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The second day is traditionally the wedding ceremony with food, dancing and choreographed dance performances. The bride wears red and goes all out with jewelry for days – it’s supposed to be a big contrast from the Mehndi, beauty-wise. I’ve seen the groom wear white a lot, but it might not be official tradition. (In my epically culturally-confused life, there may or may not be a video of my sister, cousins and myself around age 8 performing a choreographed dance to an N’Sync song at someone’s wedding. I have not seen the video, but I am told that it definitely exists.)

The third day is the one that my non-traditional mom says is basically the celebration of the consummation of the marriage. It’s usually just a nice sit-down dinner (with 150+ people), where the dress is toned down – colorful, but not as loud as the wedding day. The groom usually wears a dark color.

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If you ask someone else about Muslim/Pakistani weddings, you might get different explanations – this is just what I know and the information from which we interpreted and planned our wedding.

As you can tell, if you’re (as I’m assuming) familiar with American weddings – Pakistani weddings are SUPER different. Growing up, we never even went to American weddings so all my wedding dreams as a child [eye roll] were steeped in that tradition. I was 18 before I had my first Summer attending American weddings, and that year I went to a few in Brad’s family, including his brother’s, which were a completely different world from what I was used to. I’d seen American weddings on TV, but experiencing one in real life was different.

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In the end, we picked and chose exactly what we wanted. We didn’t incorporate a single thing that didn’t feel right to us, and we were lucky to have family that was all on board. Alcohol was served, we hosted under 60 people, and we settled on two days of events plus a brunch the morning after the wedding.

We had a small, casual Mehndi, played the traditional game where the groom gets his shoe stolen by the bride’s family and has to buy it back. It can go upwards of hundreds of dollars, but Brad was mercifully allowed to buy his shoe back for just $35. We invited close family and friends, served Pakistani food and I wore a simple red floral dress from Free People. The decor was a fusion of the traditional Pakistani seating area along with DIY garlands, rope lights, and paper lanterns. We had a henna artist come, and we mixed a couple of punch bowl cocktails, of which Brad was in charge. My maternal grandmother used to throw a lot of Mehndis in her day, and since she passed away long before our turn, my grandfather was happy to pay for all the food as his wedding gift to us, and my uncle hosted at his house in Mount Rainier.

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Our actual wedding day was more American-styled and held at a local restaurant. The ceremony was short and sweet, cutting out any and all religious references. Brad wrote it himself, compiling bits and pieces of his own writing with ceremonies from the Internet, and his oldest brother, respectfully ordained online, married us. Our siblings, cousins and close friends stood with us and we were each walked in by both of our parents, something I stole from a personal hero of mine who is the world’s number one warrior against misogyny. I wore a white dress that was a sari cut apart and reimagined into a sewn dress. Katie Stack of Stitch and Rivet spent three days in the Summer of 2014 showing me how to break beads and sew these six yards of fabric into the dress of my dreams, a fitting representation of all the crossed lines and broken rules sewn together into something totally new.

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Our garden wedding and reception was decked out in hundreds of paper flowers, fueled by sangria, and choreographed by critically-acclaimed Spotify DJ, Brad Cranford. It all came together in a big colorful flash. I changed into a second dress, traditionally red, but untraditionally backless, to avoid the inevitable sangria spillage that comes with my aggressive dance moves and we got to spend the best evening of all time with all our favorite people in the world.

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And to answer all those questions left hanging – we were married without children in attendance, any reception games (no bouquet toss, no garter removal, no dollar dance), and with as many local wedding vendors from our little hippie dippie bubble of a world – Takoma Park and Silver Spring – that we could have.

We had so many helping hands that delivered speakers, helped assemble paper flowers, put together random bouquets the day of, coordinated the day, brought us food, kept us company, tracked down jewelry and helped care for our dog. I kept my last name and Brad kept his. But our mischievous little dog Rosie carries the last name of the person who is not currently yelling at her.

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All in all, was it the best day of my life? Of course! Would I do it again? Never. Why? Because after all that contemplation, theorizing, emotional tear-fests, existential crises, reconciling, compromising and paper flower assembling, it doesn’t matter. I have a theory that I could have worn a green shift dress and we could have gotten married at a coffee shop and it wouldn’t change our relationship today. Two years into marriage, we have a pact: when we divorce and remarry each other for the second time in 2064, we’re definitely going to Vegas.

Vendors –> Photographer: Jonna Michelle Photography | Dresses: Custom from Stitch and Rivet, but she’ll never do bridal again; Free People Mehndi and reception dresses | Shoes: Zara & Target | Vintage Clutch: Polly Sue’s Vintage |  Jewelry: Bride’s Mother’s | Groom’s Clothing: H&M suit, The Tie Bar tie, Allen Edmonds shoes | Groomsmen Ties: Bull and Moose Bridesmaid Dresses: BCBG, Mango, Francesca’s | Flowers: Mimoza Design (bouquets, boutonnieres) & Suttler Post Farm (head table flowers) | Venue: Mrs. K’s Tollhouse | Favors: Honey from Banner Bee Company | Cake: Cheesecake from Capital City Cheesecake | DIY’d to the Max: Paper flowers, invitations, centerpieces, escort cards

Bride to Be Guest Blogger Kelsey: All I Do is Plan Plan Plan

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Image: Maggie Gaudean

Andy & I took Evie on a whirlwind trip up to Vermont for one last little slice of summer vacation (and some early Fall temps – I had a HOODIE on you guys!!!!). It’s always such an awesome respite to get up to Vermont and spend some time with family. But the real world is always still here waiting for me when I get back.

I apologize again for how bad I’ve been about blogging — my day job has kicked into a gear I’ve never yet encountered in my adult, working life, and my daughter has recently decided 5am is an acceptable time to wake up … so yeah, things are a bit rough, but I have some AWESOME posts on the calendar, so here’s hoping I can get my butt in gear and get them up for you guys. Let’s start today with another post from our newest bride-to-be guest blogger, Kelsey. We met her a while back and now she’s hear to share how she started planning her wedding. Take it away Kelsey!

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Hey you came back! Or maybe you read this blog daily and happened to get stuck with me today. Hooray!

Now that you know a little bit about me, let’s dive into my epic wedding planning experience. I was originally planning a long engagement. Like 18 months. Then I started getting into this planning thing and realized, I do not want this to consume me for 18 months. I say consume with love, because it is a wonderful experience, but it’s also soul crushing, but like in a ‘there’s cake at the end of this’ kind of way.

So, I went from 18 months to nine months. And no I’m not pregnant. Why is that everyone’s first assumption when you say nine moths? Who gets married that pregnant on purpose? Right. Anyway once you hit the nine-month mark, things start moving quickly. You read everything you can get your hands on, you create an insane amount of spreadsheets that you don’t even need, and you suddenly have opinions about the color sage.

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There are a ton of books out there, I am a spokesperson for none of them, but I can tell you that this one from The Knot was very helpful for me. It kept things organized. I read that cover to cover and then bought this from Bree. Then I created a Google Drive folder that the fiancé and I share.

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Some of you may have a fiancé who just wants to show up on the wedding day. That’s totally cool. That’s not mine. He’s helpful with details and keeping me grounded like, ‘hey honey, don’t put that in the garbage disposal, that will not end well.’ Or ‘can we start a campaign to ban those stupid bamboo chairs from weddings?’ You know, real life stuff.

Now that I had place to dump all of my crazy, I needed to get a handle on what I could tackle and when. Because as awesome as it would be to quit my fulltime job and side hustle and just plan a wedding, it’s not realistic. So I made a timeline. Well I started with four timelines and I combined them into one. I took this one, this one, this one, and one from Bree and made a master timeline by month.

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One thing I knew I wanted was a wedding coordinator. Someone between a ‘I’ll take it from here, just show up’ and ‘hi I’m [fill in the blank], let’s get you married today.’ For me, Capitol Romance was that balance. (Side note: while I’m Bree’s client, I am not being compensated for these posts, and all opinions are my own) So I secured Bree and got to work.

To be continued…

Let’s Get Personal: Diversity & The Wedding Industry

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Image: The Oberports from Julie & Emory’s H Street NE Engagement Session

When I started this blog, one of the things I was adamant about was showcasing ALL of the different couples that get married in Washington, DC. We are lucky to have such a rich mix of couples in this city and I couldn’t imagine having a website about DC weddings that didn’t mirror that mix. I saw DC-focused magazines and blogs that seemed to show mostly white couples & their weddings and it just felt so off to me.

A few weeks ago I was trolling Instagram on the couch and an image of the upcoming speakers at a local-ish wedding conference showed mostly white, female faces smiling back at me. I showed my husband the image, made some smart-ass comment about the extreme lack of diversity on the screen and thought about writing a post about it.

But I got scared. I knew some of the speakers at the conference and I didn’t want to “rock the boat” too bad, so I moved on and continued blogging about other things. Then my girl Katie at the Plannery shared this blog post over on the Catalyst Wedding Co blog and I instantly felt so many things. I felt ashamed that I didn’t have the cojones to write it myself. I felt angered about the responses the conference creators posted in response to the backlash. I felt gratitude that Catalyst used their platform to post not only about the whole exchange/event that occurred, but about diversity in the wedding space in general.

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Images: Imani Fine Art Images from Grace & Ben’s Richmond Virginia Engagement Session

I loved the point they made that we NEED to talk about this. Go to Pinterest right now and search on Weddings – I scrolled for 5 minutes before I found a picture of a non-white person in an image. This is ridiculous to me – do only white people get married? No? Ok then why the hell does the wedding industry seem to only feature white couples?!

I don’t really know the answer to this – but I will say that 8/10 submissions that I get are of white couples. As a blogger that is committed to showcasing all different types of couples, I admittedly turn down weddings with white couples that I love if I’ve already got a slate of white couples on my editorial calendar, and sometimes publish weddings/features I don’t 100% find a fit for Capitol Romance but accept because the couple is non-white.

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Image: Lissa Ryan Photography from Obi & Amber’s Busboys & Poets Engagement Session

But as the Editor at Catalyst again points out, my attempt at including couples of varying races here on the blog just isn’t enough. “Inclusion requires first valuing diversity (or feeling enough pressure from your audience to rehab your image), and second, action…. because when varying voices, perspectives, talent, and images harmonize to tell a collective story about what it means to live and love in this moment in time, the result is something wholly unique and challenging and real. It’s a little less “perfect,” a lot less pink, and the scariest part is it has the power to shake you to your core. I hope more people in weddings learn to value diversity and inclusion not because it’s expected (which it is and should be) but because it really makes us a better industry and a better, more just world.”

Which brings me to my next article on this topic – one my mom shared with me a few weeks ago: The Culture of the Smug White Liberal. My mom shared it with me moreso on the topic of education/diversity in schools, as someday soon I will need to start thinking about where we are sending Evie to school and DC’s Public School & Public Charter School’s have their own set of diversity issues. (Maybe that blog post another day).

But I couldn’t help to read that article and pull the parallels back into the wedding industry diversity discussion. Mostly because it bluntly forces you to ask yourself some hard questions, similar to what Catalyst focused on above: what are you DOING about diversity. Though I might say “yay! diversity is awesome and needed” what am I doing in my own life (and my business) to really commit to and facilitate diversity?

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While striving to feature couples of many races might look good on paper – I’ll admit it’s too easy. I could do more – I could commit to networking with more vendors across different races or I could strive to find more clients of different races. I love the fact that my coordination team brings varying backgrounds the business, but I’ll admit that I did not actively pursue that – Alesha & Kara (thank freakin-god) fell into my lap!

So let’s have this conversation, shall we? Let’s ask ourselves what are we doing to make the wedding space more diverse or to be more inclusive? How can you reach out and DO instead of sitting back and expecting it to just materialize? I can’t say I know the answers to these questions but I hope this post at least helps to get some thoughts going. I hope my readers feel compelled to respond, maybe write their own posts, and share them with the group and then take it a step further to see how they can invite more diversity into not only the wedding scene but their every day life.

Carolyn & Jon’s Northern Virginia Great Falls Park & Blackfinn Engagement Pictures

View More: http://meganchasephotography.pass.us/carolyn-jon-engagement

Images: Megan Chase Photography

OMG you guys I’ve hit that point. The point in September when I am just READY for Fall. The crisper temperatures this weekend, the start of Football and this Great Falls Park engagement session. But mother nature always does this – gets me excited as I dig out my scarves and boots and then BOOM back to the 90s. We’re escaping to Vermont this weekend for one last mini-vacation and I am hoping to find cooler temperatures up there!

For today we have a beautiful engagement session from Megan Chase and it features our very own bride-to-be blogger, Carolyn!!! Enjoy her gorgeous pictures & insight into their engagement session locations decisions. Happy first day after a long weekend Romancers ;)

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For Jon & I’s engagement session I was torn between two different styles. The casual, more true to how we are on a daily basis and the fancier side of our lives (not as often). So I asked our amazing photographer Megan if it was possible to do 2 different sessions and she said yes!!! I was so excited!

The First session was done in Great Falls Park, which is such a picturesque outdoor setting. Jon loves nature and being outside and I love it in controlled settings. So we chose more casual outfits and woke up super early for a sunrise engagement session. The lighting was gorgeous and this was also the perfect setting to bring the little Pheebster along. We were a little nervous throughout the session because for the shots of just Jon and I she sat off to the side and we noticed that the amount of vultures that were appearing around us started to grow. Thankfully they left her alone. I was freezing by the end of the session, but so happy! I knew the photos were going to be amazing!

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For the second session I thought it would be a blast if we staged it in Blackfinn, which is a bar across the street from where Jon lived at the time. We like to hop on over and grab a drink once in a while just to change things up (aka in between our Netflix binges). They were so welcoming and accommodating for this shoot and it turned out exactly as I had imagined! I got my hair done by Anna Fazio that day, she is so amazing for waking up so early to accommodate me! It contributed to the more put together and sophisticated look I was going for. I love this shoot because it also incorporates our usual drink choices.

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So between the two sessions the photos captured our variety of personal interest all through photos! So if you and your honey can’t decide which is the perfect setting for your engagement shoot or if you both have different likes; try choosing two different spots to showcase everything you both are about!

blackfinn great falls park northern virginia engagement pictures (3) View More: http://meganchasephotography.pass.us/carolyn-jon-engagement

Hair in the bar shoot was done by Anna Fazio.  Huge thanks to Blackfinn in Merrifield for letting us use their space!!

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Introducing Our Newest Bride to Be Guest Poster: Kelsey!

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Our dear Carolyn is getting married SO SOON and she will no longer be a “bride-to-be” and so I thought it’d be fun to bring another voice onto this blog to share another perspective of the crazy roller coaster that is planning your wedding. Enter: Kelsey! Kelsey and Phil are clients of mine and they are awesome. I mean, how could they not be when they ask you to be their wedding coordinator like this? So meet Kelsey & enjoy her hilarious wit for your Friday before a long weekend (woo hoo!).

First posts are always the worst. Will you like me? What do you want to know? Do I have something in my teeth? Let’s get all of these really important questions out of the way at the get go.

I’m Kelsey. I’m a ten-year and counting DC resident, and I’m getting married in February. Will you like me? Man, I hope so. Maybe not Michelle Obama’s arms like me, but definitely you stumbled on your favorite rerun of Friends like me. I’m going to share my wedding planning journey with you from start to finish. We have a bit of catching up to do because I got engaged in April but I figure it’s important to start at the beginning, so let’s do this.

I’ve been dating the fiancé for eight years. So all you ladies who are planning an ultimatum for your two-year relationship, just relax. I know this isn’t a relationship/engagement blog, but let me tell you that you need to know your best self before you give it to someone else. So enjoy this time. Live together if you want, go on vacations, get in fights and then figure out how to resolve them. Just make each other better.

Ok, fast forward to April. Long story short, the fiancé proposed the evening I thought I was throwing him a surprise 30th birthday party.

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Yay! Love! Fun fact though, approximately 47 minutes after you get engaged someone asks you when you’re getting married. And that’s when it begins. Buckle up, kids, it’s about to get real. Whether you’re planning a long engagement, eloping, city nuptials, or middle of nowhere fete, this is your new normal. When, how many, where, what to wear, what to eat, the list of questions goes on.

Through the next few posts I’m going to share my advice as I go through this as well as hopefully answer any of your questions. My first and guiding piece of advice that has helped me through this process of an infinite number of decisions that need to be made: pick the top three things that are most important to you for your wedding. Just three. And have your fiancé do the same. There is no wrong answer. You can choose: food, band, and bridesmaids or venue, budget, and colors or Supreme Court justice officiant, cake, and sparklers, it doesn’t matter. But figuring out those three things will help everything else feel more digestible, because things can get super overwhelming and sometimes you need to remember what three things are most important to you.

Wanna know mine? Venue, band, food. I want a location that wows, I want people dancing all night, and I want them to talk about the food for years after the wedding. I hope you enjoy my advice and stories over the next few months. Please feel free to ask me any questions, I promise to answer honestly and maybe with a gif.

Introducing The Business Studio: A Community for Planners on the Business Side of the Wedding Industry

*sponsored post*

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED! STAY TUNED FOR UPDATED DATE!

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I am so excited to share this new business venture from the crazy fabulous Jasmine of Jasmine Smith & Co Events. I get emails ALL THE TIME from people that want to jump into the wedding planning/coordination space and just want me to share some tips & tricks with them or any advice I have. My advice? Attend a workshop like this one to fully understand the business of working weddings in the wedding industry.

Wedding planning and/or coordination is a WHOLE heck of a lot harder than I think people understand. There’s finding your brand, the type of planner you even want to be, what sort of services you should offer, and how to execute this all successfully so that you can deliver on what you are selling. Enter: The Business Studio and their inaugural Business of Weddings Workshop.

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The Business Studio is a community for planners looking to better understand the business side of working in the wedding industry and registration is now open for “The Business of Weddings” – a workshop hosted by @thebusinessstudio.

Who is this workshop for? This workshop has been created for new and experienced planners looking to better understand the business side of working in the wedding industry.

What will this workshop include? During this 2 hour workshop you’ll learn: Why you should understand business and how it impacts your service, How to create a business model that fits your personality, How to find and define your niche, How to create a wedding business brand and, Tips on how to impress EVERYONE involved on wedding day. Plus, attendees get a catered lunch + a FREE 30 minute accountability call.

Where and when is the workshop? The workshop is on 10.30.16 at the Loft at 600F. Space is limited — so register today to ensure your spot! And while you wait for this amazing event to take place, follow along with Jasmine & The Business Studio on Instagram!

*this is a sponsored post as part of our event promotion advertising package. this vendor paid to have this content shared on our blog, however, it was verified that this event was confirmed to meet our requirements and mission*

Rad Things For Your Big Day & Life Together Go Shopping!