wedding planning advice

Let’s Get Personal: The Truth About Getting Married in Offbeat Venues in DC

Last year  I wrote a blog post rounding up some offbeat venues in Washington, DC to have your wedding. At the time my wedding coordination business was just starting out and I hadn’t actually worked at any of these places. I was just going off their awesome pictures and funky vibe – which didn’t really paint the clearest picture of what it’s actually like to get married in these types of places.

Now that I’m halfway through my second year of coordinating, I’ve gotten to work in a few of the venues I listed (and after next year, I’ll have worked in almost ALL of them! woot) and man, have I learned some things.

So naturally, I want to share the things I’ve learned with all of you. Here goes.

Let’s Get Personal: The Truth About Getting Married in Offbeat Venues in DC

offbeat dc wedding blog

[image: Val & Sarah]

Let me first start off by saying that this post is in NO way meant to paint my experience with these venues in a bad light, nor should you all take my words and experiences as the final end all and be all. The point of this post is the inform and educate and share my experiences so that you all may have the best chance at making the most informed decisions when it comes to your wedding planning. This is what I do with my clients – I provide them with options, facts, and my personal opinion, and that enables them to make the best decision, that works for them.

Ok, now that that is over with. Here are some things I’ve learned:

#1. Flexibility is a MUST

When working with offbeat venues you HAVE to be flexible. Like SUPER flexible. How flexible? Well, most of these venues are real, functioning businesses – yoga studios and art galleries. Meaning they are not at your beck and call whenever you want to go visit them for walk-throughs or even rehearsals. They do not have standard times for wedding events (like rehearsals) and so you will have to work around their schedule.

Example: At one of these venues, I had a rehearsal at 10pm on a Friday evening. Would you be OK with that?

#2 The Land of Never Ending STAIRS

Offbeat venues don’t always have all the bells and whistles that traditional wedding venues do, to cater towards an easy load-in/load-out process or your handicapped guests. Most of the venues I listed on that offbeat DC wedding venue roundup have little to no elevator access.

This means lugging ALL of your wedding items (rentals included!) up and down LOTS of stairs. This also means your elderly guests may not be able to attend all facets of your event. Would you be OK with this?

#3 Communication Can be a Challenge

So far in my experience, communication has been a CHALLENGE (like a big risk/issue) with the venue POCs at these offbeat venues. Why? Well my best guest is two-fold. One, chances are the venue coordinator is not a full time coordinator, devoted only to event management. The coordinator probably wears multiple hats at the venue and isn’t at your beck and call, to only answer wedding related questions. Two, most of the venues on that list are new to the wedding scene. Weddings require a LOT MORE coordination and questions and logistical planning than most other events. Think about what goes into an art gallery opening vs a wedding. Weddings just have SO MANY other moving pieces, not to mention the whole emotional factor that goes into a wedding day. Because these venues and their coordinators don’t often understand all these moving pieces, or the emotions attached, things get lost in translation.

My advice here – get everything in writing and write EVERYTHING down. Make sure the contract you have with the venue is EXACTLY what you want and what you need. Do not be afraid to ask questions, often. Also, you need to be willing to deal with difficult situations related to lack of communication and miscommunication. This means misunderstanding, misconceptions, things popping up at the last minute, big changes (with little advance notice) —> ALL things I just dealt with at a recent wedding at one of these venues.

Again, I ask, would you be OK dealing with this? Could your stress levels handle it and are you willing to be all up in #1?

#4 Facilities Are Not Always Wedding Appropriate

This also goes along with #2, stairs. Most offbeat venue weddings are offbeat for a reason – they will lack facilities and amenities that more traditional venues will be equipped with. These means lack of appropriate electrical staging for a band or DJ, strange bathroom setup or location, and even lack of air conditioning!

Yup, you read that right. Some of these venues do not have proper ventilation and A/C dependency for a wedding (ie, hundreds of people dancing, drinking, and milling around). Are you OK with this – are you willing to have your wedding somewhere that might not be so cool in the summer (or maybe warm in the winter?), that might have strange things hanging on the walls (hey, most of these places are full-fledged businesses, not wedding venues, remember?), that might only have 2, 1-stall bathrooms. Again, are you OK with this (or more importantly, will your guests be OK with this?).

I am going to sum this up now, but I might continue to add to this post as I get more feedback from other coordinators, and work at more of these offbeat venues. I want to reiterate again, that this post is not meant to deter you from choosing offbeat venues for your wedding – you KNOW I love me some offbeat, and really these spaces are so much more interesting than the traditional venue, BUT you must be willing to accept/deal with all of the above (and more). So you have to ask yourself if dealing with all this, is worth it to you, on one of the most important days of your life!

I’ll leave that decision up to you.

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Super Easy Wedding Invitation Timeline Download from The Peacock Press

Back in February we attended The Mix Event (I swear I will have a recap and images from the show up at SOME point) and got to meet a few new, awesome wedding vendors – including our booth neighbors, The Peacock Press. Lauren and her husband’s booth were SUPER rad, but so were some of their handouts. One in particular caught my eye, and I couldn’t help but ask Lauren if I could share it on the blog.

A Super Easy Wedding Invitation Timeline Download from The Peacock Press

ThePeacockPressWeddingStationeryTimeLine

^awesome design. awesome wedding advice. and awesome company – what’s not to love? Go download and print your own copy of this essential wedding planning tool on Peacock Press now!

Happy Friday Romancers! Have a great weekend – and stay dry!

Capitol Advice: Videographers Matter Too

This afternoon was have a guest post from our friends at Border Row Productions (one of our Capitol Romance approved DC wedding vendors!) sharing some insight on how to plan for a wedding videographer and why you shouldn’t leave it until the last minute to hire one! They also offer up some great knowledge about the changing landscape of wedding videos – and how they aren’t just the 2-hour long, video on a tri-pod, recap of a wedding day! Take it away guys!

Wedding Advice: Wedding Videography Matters Too!

washington dc wedding videographers videography

Imagine this…

The scenario:  It’s a month out from your wedding.  Your Facebook friend just shared the cutest video of her wedding day.  You didn’t think you wanted a video, but after seeing how cool your friend’s video was, you’ve changed your mind.

The problem:  You’ve already spent the majority of your budget or gone over budget.  Since video wasn’t something you wanted from the beginning you paid top dollar making sure you had the best photographers you could get.  Now, in your last minute search for video, you are shocked at the quotes you are receiving from the videographers you want to work with.

washington dc wedding videographers videography

When working in the wedding industry, this is a scenario every videographer has experienced.  To most couples, video is an afterthought, something they can just ask Uncle Bert to do with his camcorder from the 80s.  Couples willingly seem to spend thousands of dollars on photography without blinking an eye, but then scoff at the idea of spending more than a couple hundred dollars on a video.

Wedding videos are changing.  They are no longer hour-long play by plays of your entire wedding day.  They are no longer something you will watch once, fast-forward through most of and then toss to the side never to be watched again.  They are productions; they are short-films about who you are as a couple, how you came to fall in love, and how monumental this day is. You are going to want a video.

So, on behalf of wedding videographers everywhere, I am asking you to plan for it. A quality wedding video requires work.  Here’s what goes into creating the type of wedding short-films that Border Row Productions delivers:

  • Two pre-production meetings with our clients to go over the details of your wedding day, to learn about you as a couple, to know who needs screen time, etc.
  • Two camera people on your wedding day for up to 10 hours of coverage from getting ready to the last dance at the reception.  As well as, interviews with you, with your parents, and with your guests.
  • Purchasing music licenses (about $100 per song… the good ones at least) to make sure you can share your video online with all of your friends without YouTube banning it or worse a record-label suing you or us.  30+ hours of editing your video, crafting your story, designing DVD labels and menus, and more.

Consider what ALL of that might cost and then what it’s worth to you!

washington dc wedding videographers videography

We love our job.  We love to tell stories, to capture memories, to touch people’s hearts, and to show the rest of the world that bitterness is foolish and true love exists.  In my opinion, there isn’t a price tag you can put on that.  But, we have to start somewhere. So if you are just starting to plan your wedding, repeat after me, “Videographers matter too”.

This isn’t the first time we have urged our readers to consider a wedding video! We wrote our own “Important of Wedding Videography” post a few weeks back and still stand by those sentiments! What do you think Romancers – did you realize ALL that goes into a wedding video?

Tatiana & Ben’s Offbeat, Retro Wedding in the Catskills ~ Part 2

“In the end, I married my favorite. Nothing else matters.”

 We are back with part 2 of Tatiana & Ben’s awesome, retro small-budget wedding up in the Catskills. Part 1 featured some pretty amazing ceremony shots [so much laughter and happiness!] and Part 2 focuses more on their handmade wedding decor and smashing reception. We also still have some additional great advice from Tatiana for all those planning a wedding. Here we go:

 love these touching shots from their first dance

Advice from Tatiana continues:

“THIS IS YOUR DAY.”  Um…no.  I just could not buy into that.  It was OUR day, as in Ben and I, but also it was a day for everyone to celebrate.  This meant a bunch of things, but above all, we tried to make choices that ensured that everyone was having a good time.

Since everyone spent money to travel out to the Catskills for our wedding, we made sure we could act as good hosts.  For us, this meant people were fed well and had access to an open bar all night. This also meant having a reception where our 12 nieces/nephews/cousins could act like kids and run around. Also meant having accomodation suggestions that spanned all price ranges.

We didn’t compromise on any aesthetic choices and everything reflected us to a T, but it was important to us that family and friends were comfortable and having a great time.

 

 

On their DIY wedding projects:

Because of the budget, we did practically everything ourselves.  My incredibly talented best friend, Shana Hale, designed invites and programs.  Ipod playlist. I did my makeup.  A good friend did my hair.

Centerpieces (which were a PROJECT) were crafted out of paper and made months in advance. Favors were CDs of the first soul music mix Ben ever made for me.

Saving so much money made it possible for us to throw a party with amazing food and open bar for 80 people.

love these paper flower centerpieces!

Advice on finding a venue that already has character ~ saves you money on decorating!

NOT HAVING TO DECORATE IS THE BEST.

Getting married in a restaurant that already had its own funky thing going on meant that we just had to put out some centerpieces and call it a day.  They had the cool mural, the lights already strung, the crazy bar, the fire pit with marshmallows, the beautiful setting overlooking the Catskill mountains.  We didn’t need to do anything more.

Click inside for the rest of Tatiana & Ben’s budget-friendly, retro wedding in the Catskills

Capitol Idea: Bridesmaids Blog

This one is for the bridesmaids … I actually did this when I was the co-maid of honor in my sister’s wedding back in 2008. When it came time to start planning things for my sisters’ wedding, I had an idea, why not start a simple blog for the Bridesmaids. An easy place where all the ladies of Jill’s bridal party could go for information, reminders, and to share in the planning of Jill’s wedding!

Apparently I was a blogger at heart, before I really knew it!

Jill’s Bridal Beauties Bridesmaids’ Planning Blog:

On the blog we were able to plan her bachlorette party, our bridesmaids dresses, and her shower! Then, when the wedding date was coming up, I asked everyone to leave their final wishes for Jill and I made the blog into a book using Picaboo - so she could see all the background planning we had done, and she could keep it as a memento.

Here is how the blog turned book, came out:

 An explanation on the title page was for Jill. She had NO idea we had done this whole blog thing, and we gave her the the book the day before her wedding when we were getting our nails done.

 This was from when we had picked a shower date and our bridesmaids dresses! All the information on ordered and time lines and pricing was kept here.

 I added pictures from her bridal shower and everyone else shared pictures from their own cameras here too!

I ended the blog AND the book with asking all the bridesmaids to leave final wishes for Jill. At this point, more of her friends had been added to the blog too – as we planned her bachlorette party.

And so I propose this idea for you bridesmaids out there [or hey, equal opportunity - groomsmen too!] to use a blog to organize your planning for the respective bride or groom.

And as always, let us know if you end up doing this!!

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