wedding planning advice

Tips & Advice On Building A Ritual-Free, Personalized Wedding Ceremony

Guys! Our Bride to Be guest blogger, Kelsey, will no longer be a bride-to-be in just 5 short days!!! Her big day is Saturday and I cannot wait to help it go off! I hope Kelsey will write more after, but for now, we share some of her last posts! First up, her thoughts on creating a custom & personalized wedding ceremony. Take it away Kelsey!

How to Create a Personalized & Custom Wedding Ceremony | By: Kelsey

When it comes to the ceremony, it’s kind of a big deal, even though it may be the shortest part of the evening. This part of the evening is important because it’s the actual act of getting hitched, wooo! But depending on your situation, it can also be a minefield to plan because people have a lot of feelings about rituals and ceremonies.

We aren’t getting married in a church and since moving to DC we don’t really have a consistent place of worship so the first order of business was to find an offiiciant.  The internet has a zillion options and we had a handful of friends who we talked about asking. Where to start?

I’m going to tell you something very important about the ceremony: ask your parents. Sure you can make your own choices about dinner, music, even your dress, but the ceremony carries this weird importance that us unmarried people don’t understand. I had no idea how much importance my parents put on my ceremony, and I’m glad they told me, because I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Now, you’re crafting the ceremony. The officiant is all ‘what rituals do you plan on doing?’ and automatically my mind goes –

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to pour sand into a glass or light a candle and call it magical. I don’t want to release butterflies or doves, because it’s just messy. It’s not my thing. Getting married is my thing, that’s what I’m here to do. So be honest with yourself and your officiant and say what you want. If you want to read your own vows, do it! If you want your dog to walk you down the aisle, do it! If you want to tie your hands in some sort of Houdini slash Irish tradition, well, do it!

Listen, I’m learning in planning this thing that you are going to make more decisions and think about the tiniest things ever you never thought mattered. Let this 20 minutes of the day matter. They’re important. They’re why you’re doing this. When the wine stops pouring, the dances are over, you’re going to remember looking into your love’s eyes when you said ‘I do.’

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What I’ve Learned From the First Few Months of Wedding Planning

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Image: Capitol Romance Wedding Planner Download

We have a new wedding-planning guest blogger joining the blog today, Rebecca! Kelsey gets married in less than 2 weeks, so she will be retiring her bride-to-be crown (I hope she stays on as a newlywed guest blogger though … nudge nudge, hint hint). Rebecca wanted to share a little about herself for today, and the 3 things she’s learned from her first few months of wedding planning. Take it away Rebecca!

The Three Things I Learned Early in My Wedding Planning Journey | By: Rebecca G.

I am so excited to be guest blogging for Capitol Romance!  CR was recommended to me very early in our wedding-planning process and it has already become my go-to resource for everything DC-wedding related.  It’s so fun to get to share our wedding planning experience!

My name is Rebecca and I am a newly-engaged DC tour guide.  My fiancee and I have taken a somewhat less traditional route in our journey to happily-ever-after.  We basically skipped the surprise proposal/engagement ring-combo in lieu of secretly jumping into wedding planning when we were ready to make our forever love official.  We started telling people slowly (family and close friends first) and made the official announcement after we had already shot our engagement photo session!  While this path may not be for everyone, I believe that it made the first few months of our wedding planning a lot simpler by having only our closest people helping to weigh in with their opinions and ideas.

We’re getting married in September 2017 and we have all the big stuff figured out (venue, food, booze, dancing – the stuff that was most important to us) but there are still so many decisions to make!  I’ll be using my blog posts to share what we’ve learned and hopefully provide in a calming, pragmatic voice in the Industrial Wedding Complex insanity.

So what have I learned in our first few months of wedding planning?  Three very important things:

1. Sticker shock is real – No matter how modest your budget, no matter how low-key you aim to make your wedding, it will cost money.  Like, real, grown-up money.  Despite all the ladies’ brunches I’ve been to where brides-to-be divulged what they were spending and all the blog posts I’d perused, I was still taken aback by what the wedding basics cost.  There are ways to stick to a budget (and you should!) but be prepared.

One of the best pieces of financial wedding advice I read was called the “Olive Garden Theory.”  It’s simple – if you were to take your closest family and friends to the Olive Garden to celebrate your nuptials, even with the unlimited breadsticks, soup, and salad, you’ll spend about $50 for every guest to have an entree, dessert, and glass of wine.  This was an eye-opener for us – even keeping it simple and tossing out some of the more traditional elements that didn’t fit us, finding a space and feeding people is going to cost some money.  Once you accept this fact, you can get to work on figuring out what works for you financially.

2. Know your priorities – ideally early in the process – When we first started planning, my fiancee and I sat down and figured out the three elements that most important to each of us for our wedding day.  This gave us a great baseline for what really mattered (and where to allocate our precious, limited money!)  After each venue visit or chat with a vendor, we went back to the list of the key elements.  It helped keep us focused, even when overwhelmed by wedding possibilities.

3. To thine own self to be true – By complete stroke of luck, I happened to read Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please just a couple of months before we began wedding planning.  In it, Amy shares what should be the motto of every modern, awesome woman – “Good for her, not for me.”  Although Amy isn’t referring to weddings specifically here, it applies beautifully to the process.  Whether it’s pushy vendors (which, run as fast as you can from that) or a well-intentioned friend, once you are engaged, everyone will want to share advice.  You will have so many wonderful people in your life who will want to make suggestions and share ideas and that’s GREAT – but remember, what was good for one bride may not be good for you.  It’s also easy to want to compare your wedding to every other wedding you’ve attended (or the ones you see in perfect Instagram posts or bridal magazine spreads) but when all is said and done, it’s YOUR wedding day – you have to do what’s right for you and your partner, not for anyone else.

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So, this is where I am so far.  With 271 days to go, the excitement is growing but so is my to-do list!  Looking forward to sharing some of our craziness and joy with y’all!

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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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.

Bride to Be Guest Blogger: When Something Goes Wrong During Your Wedding Planning

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Image: Jenn Heller Design Co.

I’m DYING with this commute to Chantilly this week guys (each way has been well over an hour drive … I was not cut out for this …) but Kelsey’s guest posts on wedding planning always bring a bright spot to my day. Plus I get to see her & her fiance tonight, plus their wedding is in two months(!), plus it’s going to be awesome. Also, this week is ALMOST over and I am headed to NYC for my mom’s birthday to see Puffs so let’s get to it!!

When Something Goes Wrong While Wedding Planning | Guest Post by Kelsey

I’m getting married in two months. Two months. Do you know how soon that is? A kangaroo could give birth…twice in two months. (You’re welcome for that holiday party fun fact). Seriously, the countdown is on. It’s not quite the final countdown, but this is the dress rehearsal to the final countdown. So in the spirit of panic, today we are going to talk about what to do when something goes wrong.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you, when you are planning your wedding something is going to go wrong. It just is. Accept it. You won’t know when and you won’t know what, but it will. You think everything is going fine. You’ve got your spreadsheets, your timelines and then.

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Wanna know my moment? It was a small snafu, involving, oh you know, the MOST IMPORTANT DRESS I WILL EVER WEAR IN MY LIFE. Ok. I’m back. First thing’s first. Whatever goes wrong, it is important to remember not to go all Gone Girl on whoever ruined literally everything. You’ve got to get solution-y, or as my marketing friends say, it’s time to ideate.  Before that, let me tell you what happened to me.

I bought my dress and it was wonderful. Then I had to wait five months until I got the call. Let me tell you about the call that changed my destiny. Backstreet Boys…anybody? The dress was ready.

So I went to the salon with my mom and there it was. Just like I remembered. I stripped down, remembered I forgot to shave my armpits, and attempted to put on the dress. Please note the word attempted. The sales associate assured me that she just lotioned her hands so the zipper was slippery. Then she called in my mom to tag team. Mom attempted to hold things (i.e. me) in while they zipped the dress. Long/tight story short, the dress was too small. The sales associate said the dress was fine and it would be fine and I was all…

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I left without the dress. Then I got a call from the salon manager. Again, a reminder, stay cool. No one wants to help a bridezilla. No matter what goes wrong, address the situation head on and immediately. Involve only necessary people and stand your ground. Remember to repeat the goal to the vendor/in law/whoever and establish a timeline for the solution. What’s going to be done and when. Finally, if the timeline is longer, when will you touch base next?

If you’re wondering, a new dress was rush made. I picked it up two weeks ago. It fits. And because I was firm but mentally stable, I got a complimentary veil out of the whole thing. Good things come to those who wait.

As I always say, if Britney can make it through 2007, you can totally make it through this.

Guest Post: Saying Heck Yes to The Dress ~ How to Pick Your Wedding Dress

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Our favorite bride-to-be guest blogger, Kelsey, is back today sharing her thoughts on picking a wedding dress. We’ve touch on this topic before (thanks to another guest blogger!) but it’s always nice getting multiple perspectives – afterall wedding planning is really not the same for every couple.  Take it away Kelsey!

Saying Heck Yes to the Dress ~ How to Pick Your Wedding Dress | By: Kelsey

Back again to share my fantastic journey of planning a wedding. In going through this whole process, the next question a bride gets after the ‘omg when is the wedding?’ is ‘do you have a dress?’ Personally I think that’s a little sexist, but I also write a blog with the word Barbie in the title so I may not be the best person to dispute this. Anyway, the pressure of finding the perfect dress can be about as stressful as finding your soulmate, but good news for you, you’ve already checked one of those off your list so let me tell you about the other.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you, wedding dress shopping is really hard. It is stressful and it is not all champagne and Kleinfeld’s. Unless, of course, you go to Kleinfeld’s in which case, dang girl.

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Why is dress shopping so hard? Because after the whole ‘this dress is my destiny’ feeling you may or may not get, you have to decide if that’s what you want to look like for the rest of forever. These pictures last forever. This is not a happy hour Instagram #tbt moment. This is look has to be classic. You want to look back on this dress and react like the image above.

The easiest way to start, rule out what you don’t love and call in the reinforcements. So far in my planning, I have not wanted a lot of help or input from others (because I’m a nasty woman like that), but dresses are a great way to get instant feedback from your friends and family. Think of them as your air tank and wedding dress searching is like scuba diving. Right? Right.

Once you’ve narrowed down what you think you like. Call your [fill in the blank army of strong, powerful women you want to take with you] and book at least two appointments are different salons. [insert image3] Most stores have some pretty great or not so great Yelp reviews so use those to figure out what and where is going to work for you.

Now you’re at the salon. Here’s what you need to do. First, twirl around on that pedestal stage thing for at least eight seconds. Second, touch everything.

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Third, find a dress. I recommend trying on a couple of silhouettes even if you’ve ruled them out in your head. What harm can it do? Play dress up for a minute. Also, get comfortable with your sales associate because she’s going to get real up close and personal with you, buttoning, zipping, and clamping you into dresses.

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At the end of the day, I tried on 7 dresses. I relied on the gut reactions of my mom and sister, and then I found the dress. I didn’t cry. There were no doves released (as I requested…wth maid of honor). But it was a dress I felt beautiful wearing and a dress that I wanted to get married in.

I won’t bore you with the ‘go with a beachy vibe’ or ‘I want to be able to dance’ information because, you know all that. My comfort requirements were: do I look like Beyoncé and can I sit down in this. Check and check.

So you sign the paperwork and go out to brunch and remember that 4-6 months of waiting is going to be totally worth it.

Real Wedding Planning Advice: Don’t Call it an STD

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Kelsey, our bride-to-be guest blogger is back today sharing her thoughts on the Save the Date (and to please not call it a STD — though I do…sorry Kelsey!). Take it away girl!

You’re getting married. You know that. Your close friends, coworkers, and every member of your family that your mother made you call immediately knows that. You’ve also picked a place and a date, so now you have to tell people. Enter the save the date.

Create your pinterest board, scour the Internet for your favorites, and get all of your options in front of you. Then back up and take a breath and remember that before you can buy on these babies you need a guest list. Yeah. Crap.

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I’m sure you (or maybe your parents) have a general number in mind, but when it comes to actually spreadsheeting it, things can get cut throat. Get yourself a bottle of wine and clear an evening. Here’s what we did: asked both sets of parents for their list by a certain date. We gave no indication of how many people could be on the list – just send us a list. Then we put together our own list of friends. Finally we combined all three lists and started to cry got to work.

We scheduled a google hangout with each set of parents so we could see their shining faces and also share our screen. Not pictured in the screen share? The bottle of wine we were drinking. Remember to breathe, and remember that for whatever reason your dad’s first coworker who you’ve never met may have to come to the biggest day of your life. It’s going to be fine. Think of the presents.

I’m not going to give advice for this portion of the planning because every family is different. What I will say is: pick your battles. There will be a bajillion decisions to make after this is decided, and is it really going to ruin your day to have your second cousin there?

Ok. Back to the good stuff. Fun fact: wedding boards and brides call save the dates STDs. Seriously. That is the acceptable acronym. Don’t be that bride. It takes 1% more effort to spell it out instead of using STD.

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There are so many other options than your standard magnet. What’s the wedding vibe? Boho, formal, garden party, other? Use that to guide your selection. Did you do an engagement photo shoot? Use some of those lovely photos! Want something a little quirkier? Try a flow chart or have some fun with the font. This is a piece that’s going to live on everyone’s fridge for months so pick something you love.

There are some fantastic online vendors. Paperless Post now does printed pieces, Etsy has amazingly unique handmade options, and at Minted you can pick a save the date that will match your invitation! The important thing to remember is that there is no wrong choice.

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.

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.

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