dc wedding blog

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

www.melbeephotography.com

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.

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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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John & Stephanie’s Key Bridge and C&O Canal Engagement Pictures in Arlington, VA

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Images: Aimee Custis Photography

It was a productive weekend at the Ryback household. We cleaned, hung, and put away ALL THE THINGS. It was a nice distraction, but I’d be lying if I told you I was anywhere close to being back to pre-election standards. It’s a short week on the blog with the Thanksgiving holiday. Andy & I are headed to NJ (as usual) for the Turkey break, and I am hoping the family time will continue to help to ease the feelings of unrest and anxiety that I am still holding.

Saturday is also Small Business Saturday – my first as an eCommerce Shop Owner. And naturally we plan to celebrate it with a big ole discount in the online #CapRoShop. The orders have been trickling in (and the reviews too!!) and we’d be downright HONORED to have you purchase some holiday gifts from our shop this season. So be sure you are signed up for our #CapRoNewblasts to get Saturday’s 1-day only Small Biz Saturday discount.

For today we have a sweet engagement session & love story — I actually used to go to the gym with the bride to be, many years ago, in Arlington. DC such a small place :) Well they are both active people and so they decided to pick a place that they run near frequently – the Key Bridge. Be sure to check out Stephanie’s ring too – a family heirloom! Happy Monday all.

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6 years ago, Becca asked John and Stephanie, separately, if they’d like to join a relay team.  The team would be comprised of 12 people in 2 vans running 200 miles from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC.  Avid runners, they both agreed!

Their first official meeting was at Northside Social in Arlington, where Becca shared the final team name: “American: Odd ‘N Easy.”  Stephanie thought this was hilarious because of it’s play off the name of the relay: American Odyssey.

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When Stephanie found out John was the clever man that came up with the team name, she immediately asked for his number!  It would take him 2 more years from that point to realize Stephanie was pursuing him…Even after countless invitations to play board games to which John always invited a third party…After all, board games are no fun with just two people!

After 4 years of blissful dating, board gaming, traveling, and cooking, Stephanie was persistently and fervently encouraging John to pop the question.  A week before their 4 year anniversary, and Stephanie’s deadline, John finally did just that!

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While cooking dinner one Saturday night, John told Stephanie it would be a good idea to invite some people to share the meal.  Stephanie asked her sister and her sister’s boyfriend (Jill and Binoy) to join them. Jill said Binoy was on a run, but would ask him when he returned. Knowing that Stephanie wanted to celebrate their engagement with Jill and Binoy, John asked, “If Binoy says yes to coming to dinner, do you want me to propose tonight?” To which Stephanie responded, “Sure!” And with that, John got down on one knee and Stephanie sobbed uncontrollably.

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Meg & Erik’s Washington DC Wedding at The Embassy Suites & Maggiano’s

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Images: Michelle VanTine Photography

Oh there is SO much to love from today’s real Washington DC wedding brought to us by the lovely Simply Breathe Events & Michelle VanTine Photography. A modern ceremony & reception setting with the most gorgeous shade of purple for their color palette and decor. But really, what gets me the most here is the story behind this wedding & couple: Tiffany shared that working with them was like working with your 2 closest friends; they love DC and wanted to incorporate that into the wedding, as well as, honor their family members every way they could. You guys will love this one.

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From bride, Meg:

We are both from the DC area, and really wanted to incorporate our love of DC into our wedding. I grew up in Germantown, MD while my husband grew up in Chevy Chase DC, so we felt having a metro theme was totally appropriate! We named our tables after various metro stops that had meaning to us (i.e. Cleveland Park was where I lived when I first moved to DC, my husband went to school at U of Md, and my father used to work near the Farragut North metro station) We provided explanatory notes to showcase why we chose each metro stop. We also chose to use replica paper fare cards as our place cards to tie everything together!

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We chose to have our wedding in Friendship Heights because it had a lot of meaning for us. My husband used to live there, so we spent quite a bit of time in that area (and at Maggiano’s!) going on dates and just hanging out. We wanted a venue that was easily accessible for both our friends who lived in the city and our relatives who traveled from as far as Alaska, and we felt that the Embassy Suites and Maggiano’s were the perfect combination!

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Our guests could park their cars and walk to the ceremony, and if they wanted to explore the city, hop on the metro. Our ceremony space at Embassy Suites spoke to us because we loved the openness and brightness of the space. It felt like we were outside even though we were indoors! I was way too type A to have an outdoor ceremony and Embassy Suites was the perfect compromise! We chose Maggiano’s because we LOVED their food and knew they would provide us with quality food at a reasonable price, even when making the food for 135 people. Turns out we chose right- our guests raved about the food all night and the next day!

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I chose Calla Lillies for my bouquet and my bridesmaid’s bouquets because they were my mother’s favorite flower. My mother passed away in December 2011, and I felt the Calla Lillies were a lovely, yet subtle, way to pay tribute to her.

One of my good friends had two charms made for me to hang on my bouquet- one with a picture of my mom and one with a picture of my dad. It was like they were able to walk down the aisle with me even though they couldn’t be there. It meant so much that she did that- it was such an incredibly amazing gesture.

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Both of my parents had passed away and instead of walking down the aisle by myself, I asked my best friend Colin to walk me down the aisle. Having Colin walk me down the aisle was special in so many ways- not only is he my best friend (and basically my brother at this point), but my husband and I met thanks to Colin (and Colin’s older brother). My husband’s best friend is Colin’s older brother, and Colin, his older brother, and myself all went to college together.

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CLICK INSIDE FOR THE REST OF MEG & ERIK’S MODERN DC THEMED WEDDING

Let’s Get Personal: My Rather Lofty 2016 Business Goals & Strategy

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Image: This Rad Love

Romancers, it’s time. It’s time to throw caution to the wind, take that HUGE leap (hoping the net will appear) and state my (rather lofty) business goals for 2016. Things are changing over here at Capitol Romance HQ with the birth of my first kid this year and the changing waves of running a local wedding blog. Earlier this year I dropped the news about my pregnancy and the changes coming to the blog and my wedding coordination business. I was SO apprehensive as for the first time, there were SO many things out of my control.

But I am happy to say that I am still standing at the end of 2015. Though blogging has gone from daily to typically 3 posts a week, I am happy to report that that hasn’t slowed our growth. In fact, I would say that blogging less has enabled me to put out stronger content and less fluff and my views have continued to grow as a result.

I am also beyond thrilled at the year my wedding coordination business had with Alesha officially joining the team. We took on more weddings than 2013, Alesha KILLED IT with her own weddings and seamlessly took the ones I couldn’t work once Evie arrived. I am so insanely grateful, every day, that Alesha joined the team.

So let’s talk about next year. Because, well, I have HUGE goals and plans for next year guys. Like ridiculously big goals. I don’t even care how scary or risky or insane they might be. I am done playing it safe and I am ready to take on some big things. So let’s start with the ultimate goal. I am just going to lay this out here:

For 2016, it is my goal to make Capitol Romance THE #1, Ultimate Resource for Planning a DC Wedding

So what does that mean? That means a lot of things …. like:

re-designing the blog to accomplish this goal

better consolidating all the graphics, logos and branded items I have created since 2011

launching an online STORE (that’s right. ecommerce baby) of Capitol Romance branded items

creating SERIOUS resources that you can download, purchase, and use to plan your DC area wedding (whether you hire someone from our wedding coordination team or not)

upping our marketing game with a monthly newsletter, better advertising outreach, and more

expanding our wedding coordination team to bring on at LEAST 1 more coordinator for 2016

….. insane right? But it just feels right. For the first time since starting Capitol Romance in 2011, I feel like I finally have a clear goal, a finish line. It’s more of a marathon distance away then a 5K, but I can see it so clearly now, that I am wondering what took me so long.

So that’s it. My 2016 goals laid out for you to see. I can’t wait for you to tell me what you think…

Let’s Get Personal: Speaking to AWP DC Members on Boosting Your Biz with Social Media

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Images: Jon Fleming Photography

On Tuesday I got the chance to speak to a room full of fellow wedding vendors about my 5 tips for using social media to boost your business. After speaking at the Wedding Wire World Panel earlier this year, Karen from AWP DC reached out to me asking if I would be interested in speaking at an AWP DC event. I was honored to be asked and excited to get the chance to flex my speaking muscles some more, so I immediately said yes.

And then Evie arrived and everything got nuts and I was a little nervous about committing to something like this with everything going on in my life. Would I be able to put together a compelling, interesting, and HELPFUL presentation? Would the room be engaged? I was NERVOUS.

Image by www.jonflemingphotography.com

I worked for a while on putting together a Prezi (so much more visually appealing than PowerPoint) that I thought was a good mix of information, quotes, funny jokes, a video, and got to work sharing my own experiences of how social media boosted my blog from a little known hobby site, to a full blown blog that sees over 3K views a day.

Image by www.jonflemingphotography.com

Image by www.jonflemingphotography.com

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Tara, the president of AWP DC, gave me the warmest welcome and nicest introduction. And off I went!

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I had taken the time to write out everything I wanted to say, but once I got up there, I decided to just ditch my notes and TALK. Talk about my experiences, attempt to engage the room, and ask them about their own experience with their company and social media.

I had a BLAST. And my insanely amazing wedding coordinator, Alesha, filmed the WHOLE thing for me on Periscope. And we had 75 people tune in total (25 started live). If you want to watch the video (not the best quality, sorry!) you can here: https://katch.me/CapitolRomance/v/fee8ba7c-ca93-329f-b766-97beb1fb11bf

Otherwise, I am going to be breaking down the Top 5 Tips for Boosting Your Business with Social Media over the next few weeks on the blog :) So be on the lookout for those!

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AND if you or someone you know is looking for speakers for an event, I would love to throw my name in the hat. I had a blast (as evidenced by the picture above) and can really speak to a wide range of topics, as I’ve learned A TON being a blogger, wedding vendor, and business owner, (and now a #momprenuer too!) over these past 4+ years since starting Capitol Romance. So give me a ring!

That view though …. love this damn city! Have a FANTASTIC weekend Romancers. And HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Image by www.jonflemingphotography.com

Image by www.jonflemingphotography.com

#CapRoTherapy Episode 1: Advice on Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

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Well it’s FAR from perfect, but hey IT’S A START. After fighting with my iPad, my internet, and way too many video editing apps, my husband SAVED THE DAY and helped me put together the VERY FIRST episode of #CapRoTherapy!!! I hope you guys enjoy it. I am SO looking forward to seeing where this goes and what kind of questions I start to get from you guys. Ask away via email or using the #CapRoTherapy hashtag on Twitter,

FIRST. It’s Friday! So let’s start with some links:

The District Bliss Couples’ Social is on SUNDAY! Get your tickets for this super rad, not-a-wedding-expo, wedding planning happy hour! A new kind of Sunday Funday.

Last night we checked out BHLDN’s Wedding Fair in Georgetown and attempted our VERY FIRST Periscope video from it. Did you catch it?! We had 13 live viewers. So cool!

There’s just two early bird priced tickets left for our Nov 8th DIY Flower Arrangement Workshop with Love Blooms! Don’t miss out.

And now…. the very first episode of #CapRoTherapy:

Wedding Advice: The #1 Thing Not to Say to Wedding Vendors You Are Persuing

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Image: This Rad Love

This one is for all you engaged couples out there that are just starting the wedding vendor inquiry process. Yes, I understand it’s a long and (sometimes) stressful process to find, vet, and confirm all your wedding vendors. But I have to let you in on a little secret. A little cautionary tale and one whopping piece of advice.

The absolute, #1 thing you SHOULDN’T say to any wedding vendor you are inquiring about, is that you are looking to work with them because of their price. I won’t speak for ALL wedding vendors here, but I can tell you that when I get this in an inquiry, I am almost ALWAYS completely turned off to the inquiry.

Here’s another secret I’ll let you in on: there’s a reason I have “Why do you want to work with Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination” on my contact form. I judge inquiries based on their response to this, because it’s the easiest way to begin the filtering process of inquiries that I know might be a fit, and ones where I am not at all a match for the couple.

But engaged couples, put yourselves in our shoes for a second. Think about what YOU might think if someone told you they ONLY wanted to work with you because of your price point. That that was the #1 reason for wanting to hire you. How would that make you feel?

Well it doesn’t make ME feel very good and chances are, I most likely won’t be available on your wedding date if that’s all you put in your contact form. For me, the couples that mention Harry Potter fandoms, that they found me through my blog, or that they are just looking for someone to help them throw a personal party to celebrate their nuptials, are the ones I gravitate towards and end up having SUPER awesome experiences with.

So engaged peeps – keep this in mind as you begin your wedding vendor search. Take the time to find vendors that fit your vibe AND your needs, not JUST your wallet requirements.

The Importance of Prioritizing & 3 Tips to Help You Prioritize

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Image: This Rad Love

Priorities. We’ve all got them, but some of us are better at putting them in the right order and some of us aren’t. And whether you’re running a business, planning a wedding, or just trying to get things done, nothing is more important than prioritizing. I don’t think I truly realized this until having a baby. Having a baby (or planning for some other major life event) puts things into perspective, and fast, because you suddenly don’t have the luxury of time anymore. Really the ONLY way I can get anything done these days, is by making sure I have my priorities straight, focusing on what REALLY needs to get done, and in what order.

So whenever anyone asks me, “how do you get it all done?”, my answer is simple, I prioritize.

Prioritizing really isn’t that hard either, it takes little extra time and thought and can REALLY help make your life SO MUCH easier! So here’s my top 3 tips for prioritizing that will hopefully make your life a bit easier and help you get it DONE. (Whatever “it” may be).

#1. Make a List

Seriously. Write it down. The things you NEED to do and the things you WANT to do. Then order that list from most important to least. Then get crackin’. Making a list might sound like a “duh” item, but seriously, the mere action of writing things down will help you prioritize because you will most likely drop things from the list right off the bat. There, you’ve already started making your life easier.

#2. Ask Yourself What the Benefit Is

From that list you just made, quickly scan items and decide which ones will bring you the most benefit. When I start my day, my mind is FULL of things I need to get done. Then I start to realize, cleaning the carpet, while it might make ME happier, just isn’t as important as spending 30 minutes answering emails that other business owners, clients, and prospective clients are waiting on. If the benefit is low, drop it down (or even cross it off the list!). Focus on the things that will bring you the best returns, first.

#3. Keep It Big Picture

Start with the big boys and then work your way down to the smaller items on your list. If you start your day tackling the big things, then by the time you make it to the small ones, it will seem like smooth sailing. If instead, you try to tackle a bunch of tiny things first, you’ll be half way through your day (or week!) and still have BIG ticket items hanging over your head. This will cause you some SERIOUS stress and will most likely throw your priorities out of wack for the rest of the week.

OK Romancers! What are your tips for prioritizing and keeping your priorities straight?! Sound off below!

 

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