Resources for black brides

Top Wedding Planning Resources for African American Brides

So, the love of your life just popped the question.  His proposal took you down memory lane through all the important locations in your relationship. You stopped at the soul food restaurant where you shared your first meal (and date) together, he led you to the jazz club where the resident saxophonist knocked your socks off and he first told you he loved you then took you on a walk where he had a friend waiting to play your favorite Marvin Gaye song as he dropped to his knees for the proposal.  You said yes, of course, and within two minutes the excitement of wedding planning burrowed its way into your thoughts.  You can’t wait to get started.

Resources for black brides

The next day, you head out to grab every bridal magazine on the shelves and while looking for makeup ideas come to a screeching halt.  Where are all the black brides??? Where are the makeup looks for women with brown skin?  Of course, you already knew this was an issue in regular magazines but it never bothered you until now.  Where will you find a DJ who knows the difference between regular rap and “trap” music?  Will you find a bartender who plans to keep more dark liquor than beer on deck at your wedding? Who will understand that you need a dress that will flatter your curves without having to make alterations that cost hundreds more?  Do resources for African American brides even exist?  

Resources for black brides Resources for black brides

The wedding industry is overwhelmingly, frustratingly white.  There’s a lot of things that irritate me about the industry that my profession is part of, and this is one of them.  As a black bride, it’s hard to ignore the lack of resources available to you that showcase the wedding traditions and looks that are important to your family.  To help alleviate some of the stress of finding them on your own, we have compiled a list of resources that have proven helpful for black brides all around the country.

Black Bride

Black Bride is a site specifically dedicated to African American brides. This site posts articles on topics that affect women of color as they plan their weddings and the events leading up to and following their special day.  According to the site, they “are committed to being a resource to women of color as they embark on one of the most important days of their lives, and beyond.” Black Bride not only offers online resources, but they also put out a magazine, host black bride events, and post helpful and uplifting articles on life after marriage.  The site features a list of vendors categorized by type of business and location, wedding planning tips and a photo gallery full of ideas that would rival Pinterest boards. They have an Instagram account that you should definitely follow for quick ideas. This site is pretty much a one stop shop for black brides looking for inspiration and planning guidance.

Resources for Black BridesResources for Black BridesResources for Black Brides

Black Bridal Bliss

Black Bridal Bliss is like your college roommate’s best friend who knew everybody on campus, including those who threw the best parties and where to buy the best outfits for said parties.  The owner of the site, Bridgette Bartlett Royall, was probably that girl.  The site is user-friendly and appeals to all types of black brides.  The ‘About’ page states that the “site showcases content for Black brides and their nuptials – from big to basic; budget to ballin’ and everything in between.” The site is approachable and unique in the fact that it not only offers helpful advice on planning your honeymoon but also list things like recommendations of solid financial advisors. Every Tuesday, the site features a segment called, “Tie the Knot Tuesdays,” which highlights real weddings and often posts Q&A sessions with industry professionals.  One of the best aspects ofBlack Bridal Bliss is its style section.  This section offers style ideas on everything from guest party favors to -of course the much-asked question- what to do with your hair on your wedding day?  Go ahead, kick your shoes off and gather knowledge from this site over a cup of tea.  You won’t regret it.

Resources for black bridesResources for Black BridesResources for black brides

Munaluchi Bridal

Last, but certainly not least, Munaluchi Bride makes the cut on our list as one of the best resources out there for Black brides.   My favorite destination wedding planner, Tamara Jones of Tamara J Events, recommends Munaluchi over all others because “it was one of the first publications to actively seek a place in the creative space for brides of color.” In addition, when surveying recent Black brides, this resource came up as one that they used the most. First of all, I tried not to get stuck on the insanely beautiful meaning of the site name.  From their ‘About’ page: (Munaluchi) is the combination of two African names, which when fused together mean, “Beautiful Work of God.”  Y’all, that alone gave me hope that this site knows its Black wedding planning stuff.  It starts by acknowledging the fact that Black brides are often made to feel less than beautiful when approaching vendors and jumping into the wedding planning process.  As mentioned above, being left out of all the magazines can certainly do a number on your psyche. This site immediately begins to heal that hurt and make you feel welcome, but I digress…

Munaluchi is slightly different than the other sites mentioned above because it not only serves the Black bride, but it focuses on all multi-cultural brides.  The ‘About’ page states: “We cater to the growing multi-cultural wedding and events industry throughout the world with a vertical online marketplace connecting engaged couples to event professionals.” That line alone explains the best feature of the site: the vendors list.  The vendor list is extensive.  You can search for what you need based on specialty and location. To make the vendors list even more beneficial, Munaluchi Bride weeds out all those not really interested in serving the multi-cultural bride by having vendors fill out an application form and charging a membership fee for those who want to advertise on the site. Munaluchi also hosts wedding events in different cities so you have a chance to meet a few of them yourself.  For all of the multicultural brides out there looking for vendors who won’t automatically assume that you are an “Angry Black Woman” just because you say ‘no’ to a suggestion, this is the place for you.  

Resources for black bridesResources for black brides

Big thanks to my writer, the amazing Tashara Mitchell of Austin, TX, who has been working hard to help me craft posts that are inclusive and diverse.  It’s important to me to make sure that everyone is represented in my work and she’s the badass who is helping.  If you need marketing and ghost writing services, I can’t recommend her enough.

Mercury Hall Wedding

Perfect Wedding Venues for Your Outdoor Austin Wedding

“The stars at night are big and bright…. Deep in the heart of Texas.”  Indeed, they are.  If you have never heard of that song, two things:  You either did not attend elementary school in Texas where you were required to sing it for nearly every school performance, or you have not visited the Lone Star State during Texas Independence Day.  Either way, if you want the ultimate romantic backdrop for your wedding, look no further than the great outdoors, in the great state of Texas, specifically, in the city of Austin, which is in the actual heart of Texas.  Or, as my mother refers to it: The Holy Land. Austin offers an array of outdoor venues that set the perfect scene for your special day. Here are two outdoor Austin wedding venues that are worth checking out:

outdoor Austin wedding venues

 

 

Mercury Hall

The Scene:

You can find Mercury Hall on a secluded hilltop in the middle of the city.  This unique venue is just a few minutes from downtown Austin, but when you enter the property, you feel like you are in a small country town.  The venue features both an indoor and outdoor space, so there’s no need to fear the sometimes-problematic Texas weather.

The Important Stuff:

Wedding packages feature the venue rental in 5 or 10-hour intervals.  The rental includes both Mercury Hall (1400 square feet) and the outdoor courtyard (1800 square feet). Combined they seat up to 250 people.  If the weather is feeling extra angsty that day however, the hall itself will comfortably seat about 150 guests.  There are 75 parking spaces available, so you may need to consider renting a shuttle for guests or creating a carpooling system.

outdoor Austin wedding venues

Summary:

Mercury Hall may be the perfect venue for you if you are planning a smaller more intimate event and you want guests to be in the city near downtown and hotels. This location also provides you with a backup plan for your outdoor ceremony, in case the weather does not cooperate that day.

outdoor Austin wedding venues

The Inn at Wild Rose Hall

The Scene: If you ever dreamed of becoming a fairy and frolicking through the enchanted forest, then this is the venue for you. The Inn at Wild Rose Hall is a 4500-sq. ft. ranch about 20 minutes outside of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The venue is both eclectic and charming and is surrounded by a forested area of Texas oak trees. Every inch of space seems to be set up for the perfect photograph.  To add to its appeal, it’s the former home of Tommy Shannon, the bass player for Stevie Ray Vaughn!  Oh, and did I mention there are farm animals?

The Important Stuff:

There are two main wedding packages available at the Inn. One is the full day option, which includes access to the property for your full wedding day. The other is the weekend package, which gives you lodging for up to 12 people (5 bedrooms plus a sleeper sofa) for two nights and access to the property from 2pm on Friday until 11am Sunday morning.  The venue is mostly outdoors, with a small indoor area so, fingers crossed here for great weather (choose your dates wisely). The owners truly value the care of the property so from March to November, the maximum guest count is 150 and from December to February, the maximum number of guests is set at 100. There is parking for up to 100 cars on the property and shuttle service is allowed.

outdoor Austin wedding venues

Summary:

The Inn at Wild Rose Hall is one of Austin’s best kept venue secrets and is ideal for you if you are planning a wedding during months of anticipated perfect weather or if you’ve ever had fantasies of being a character in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  It’s a magical place where you can be certain to catch the twinkling lights of the Texas stars.

Outdoor Austin Wedding Venues

Final tips for having an outdoor wedding in Austin, TX

These are just two of the unique outdoor venues that Austin offers. Keep in mind that these would be most ideal in perfect weather.  Texas’ weather however, can be a bit unforgiving certain times of the year, and late June-September in Austin tends to be extra sweltering. So, unless the idea of seeing sweat in the armpits of all of your groomsmen in your wedding photos sounds creative to you, when planning a wedding in those months, do your guests a favor and consider a venue that also includes an indoor space (with a fully functioning air conditioning unit).

outdoor Austin wedding venues

Top Wedding Hashtags

Top Wedding #Hashtags and Why You Should Have One

So, do you really need a wedding hashtag?  I mean, do you want to be one of those cliché couples just trying to be a part of the “in” crowd?  Well, in short, heck yea you do! Well, you don’t need that pound sign in front of a catchy tagline just to be a part of the “in” crowd, but there are tons of reasons to have one. Here are a few of them, including a short list of awesome top wedding hashtags to get you started in creating your own:

3 Reasons Why You Need a Wedding Hashtag

1. People who were not invited to the wedding festivities can still see some of the action

The people you truly love, who either could not make it to the wedding, the events leading up to it or who you just didn’t have space to invite, can do a quick search of your hashtag and still be a small part of your amazing day.  

Top Wedding Hashtags

This leads us to the importance of coming up with your hashtag early.

Some couples are so ready for this, they post an engagement picture on social media with the hashtag already attached. The earlier you use it, the earlier you and your favorite people can start keeping up with all the action-packed wedding events— from the engagement party to the reception after party (for the all-night partiers there!)

2.  You get a chance to see wedding photos prior to getting your professionally edited package.

If you are like me, waiting for anything drives you nuts.  I have a hard time standing in front of the microwave for 30 seconds just to warm up my 4-hour-old coffee (don’t judge).  I know, you want your wedding photos to be perfectly edited so that you have beautiful memories that last forever, like right now.  Let’s face it, that process takes time and for good reason. BUT, with a wedding hashtag that your guests use, you don’t have to wait!  You can check out pictures from your wedding as soon as you slip out of the reception and off to your room for the night. Unfortunately, that may also include the up close and personal selfies of Uncle Joe and his new wife making kissing faces on the dance floor.

Top Wedding Hashtags

3.  They’re fun to make!

Some wedding hashtags are just down right clever and they are equally fun to make and fun to use. They can add a touch of your personality to your wedding events and can be used multiple times from the engagement party through the honeymoon.  However, you do want to make them unique so that clicking on them doesn’t bring up photos from weddings all over the country.  Don’t worry, I can help with that!

Top Wedding Hashtags

Here are eight super clever wedding hashtags to get your creative juices flowing:

  1. #SignedSealedSavage

This one goes above and beyond by including both awesome alliteration, a play on a famous song lyric, and the couple’s name.  Poetic stylistic devices are the way to my heart for sure! #Overachievers!

Top Wedding Hashtags

Carolyn and Robert’s Edgewood wedding hashtag was a fantastic twist on a common song lyric combined with their last name.

2.  #WhiteOnRice

Okay, this one might be a bit too stereotypical for some of you, but the bride had some fun with it.  This one belongs to a friend of mine.  The bride is from Indonesia and the groom’s last name is White, so obviously to them, this was hilarious.

3.  #WeTakeMammoth

If you have the last name that simply does not fit with anything, how about throwing in the wedding location.  No need to tag the wedding location on social media when it’s included in the hashtag. 

Top Wedding Hashtags

The excitement was infectious at Kelly and Vance’s Mammoth Lakes wedding.

4.  #AllCoopedUp

Mark’s last name is Cooper so this was the perfect hashtag to do both a clever play on words and utilize Julia’s new last name.  

Top Wedding Hashtags

Mark and Julia’s wedding hashtag #allcoopedup featured a play on a common idiom combined with their last name.

5. #Morgawattiestheknot

Morgan and Vittawat combined their names in a cute way that not only rhymes, but ends in a common wedding phrase.  Explore ways that you may be able to do the same!

Top Wedding Hashtags

Morgan and Vittawat get married next year and I can’t wait to photograph their wedding!

6.  #ClausforCelebration

A little alliteration never hurt anybody.  The groom’s name is Nick Claus, they brought Christmas themed photo booth props with them and their cake topper was a Santa and Mrs. Claus.  It couldn’t be more perfect and I literally could not make that up if I wanted to.   

Top Wedding Hashtags

It was a serious celebration the day Nick Claus wed Kelsey!

7. #EyebrowsAndVows

Why not include your career? This is what you get when the bride’s an esthetician!

8.  #ItsASmallWorld2015

Occasionally a hashtag you want is extremely popular.  You don’t want to click on your hashtag and find pictures of the weddings of every couple with your last name for 2000 miles.  When that happens, you can simply throw in a special date to make it a bit more unique.  Maybe your wedding year or month and day: any special date you share would work for this one.  

Top Wedding Hashtags

Rachel and Thomas made sure their hashtag was unique by tying their last name into a date.

#HashtagAway!

Did this spark your desire to create an awesome wedding hashtag? Use it as an opportunity to share your personality as a couple and capture those awesome memories for you and those you love. Now, go forth and add to the list!

wedding guest drinking

Creative Ways to Keep Your Open Bar Reception Classy

In Honor of National Tequila Day Last Week, Let’s Take a Look At a Very Important Piece of Your Wedding Planning–

The open bar.

A moment of honesty here. Initially this post was going to be about the pros and cons of having an open bar at your wedding, but who are we kidding? An open bar reception is just the right thing to do. It’s a kickback gift for all the family and friends who traveled near and far to see you commit forever to the love of your life.  They have paid for flights and purchased entire dishware sets and margarita machines all because of their love for you. They deserve this—a night of celebration, dancing and yes, free booze.  

 

wedding guests dancing

So, what’s the issue?

Of course, there are always concerns about those family members and friends who like to have a “really good time” (AKA, sloppy drunk Uncle Sean and drunken diva Aunt Debra). So instead of trying to convince you to go alcohol-free, here are a few creative ideas to keep everyone having a good time, while making sure they don’t end up dancing pantsless on your cake table before the night is over.

wedding guests

1. Offer a signature drink and limit the bar.

By “limit” I don’t mean limiting the amount of time people can drink or the number of drinks they can have, which some couples opt to do. Because doing that may also limit the lowered inhibitions that would lead people to the dance floor.  We are talking instead about limiting the drink options.  You don’t have to serve every guest their liquor of choice the whole night, which may inevitably cause the dancing on the tables we discussed earlier. (Think of your newly-turned-21-year-old cousin Dylan, taking Fireball shots like candy).  

Consider serving only wine, beer, and a signature drink or two of your choice.  You can make the signature drink something fun that matches your personality as a couple.  My personal favorite would be the frozen margarita because well, ice cold tequila, oh and memories of that awesome Spring Break trip to south Texas senior year in college. Make it your own, it is after all, your day as a couple.  If a guest doesn’t like the signature drink, that will prevent excessive trips to the bar, but a beer or two might get them just giddy enough to participate in the “Chicken Dance” as the night rolls on.

signature wedding drink

2.  Bring out a food truck

This may sound a little weird, but the point is to make sure that your guests have food the whole night.  A full stomach is a great way to slow down the abundance of alcohol hitting a person’s system.  I was a guest at a wedding once, where the couple offered table service for dinner, but towards the later parts of the reception they had friends bring their food truck out and offer free fries, appetizers and other “greasy style” bar food. Yes, people kept drinking the whole night all their drinks of choice, but there were plenty of guests who took breaks to check out the food truck options. If your venue won’t allow a food truck, consider bringing out some after dinner salty snacks that may match your menu.

crepe maker

3.  Hire the “Soup Nazi” as your bartender

There is an episode of Seinfeld where all the friends fall in love with this amazing soup shop.  The owner however, is called the “Soup Nazi” because of his incendiary temperament and the strict manner he requires customers to behave when ordering.  If he doesn’t like your behavior, then “no soup for you.” This is the bartender you need for your open bar, just substitute “soup” for “drinks.”  No one wants to be the bride having to monitor their guests drinking behavior, and it really isn’t a task you want to pass along to your wedding party if you can avoid it.  If you’re having a Tahoe wedding, Tahoe local and Liquid Craft mobile bar owner is the perfect choice for this.  

So, try hiring a bartender who isn’t afraid to say no if they believe your guests are headed towards a “Coyote Ugly” style bar dance after one more drink.  If you know you have that crazy cousin who has a history of going too far when alcohol hits their system, you can also give your bartender a head’s up to be on the lookout for excessive bar trips so that they can either make the cut off or begin cutting back on the alcohol.  

Guests toasting

Cheers!

Hopefully, these tips will allow you to keep the alcohol flowing at your reception and the party poppin’ without the fear of someone ending the night swinging from the chandeliers. Of course, as an added buffer you can always remind guest that the entire evening will end up in photos that last forever. Now, twist open the tequila and get your guests on that dance floor.

 

Wedding guests dancing

Lucie Sterns Wedding

9 Creative Ways to Add Intimacy to a Large Wedding

This is a guest post by Wendy Dessler for Lauren Lindley Photography.  Read more about Wendy at the bottom of the post.

Adding Intimacy to large weddings

Large weddings can seem overwhelming and impersonal, unless you make specific efforts to combat those impressions. From staffing up to help ease crowding to enlisting the help of attendants recognizable in their bridesmaid dresses, here are nine creative ways to add intimacy to a large wedding:

1. Treat every arriving guest like a valued VIP. Have servers tray-pass non-alcoholic refreshments before the ceremony (and collect the containers – please!), and have many greeters and ushers who can help find seats and pass programs.

Fresh Coconut water

Fresh coconut water passed out as guests arrive to a island beach wedding hits the spot!

2.  Spread out services so guests don’t feel like cattle waiting in long lines. Have many smaller bars for beverage service, stations throughout the room that repeat so there is always somewhere to go to get quick service. You will never regret going overboard on the number of servers you have, and you may have to make a special request to increase the staffing, but be firm. The least intimate feeling originates when your guests feel like their needs are not being managed well. Long lines lead to wasted time and isolation. Demand the service you need to make every guest feel special and loved.

Taco Bar

3.  Create vignettes – these small scenes will allow you to celebrate many different things about your relationship, whether they gel well into a theme or not. In a large venue, you can create smaller rooms and scenes. Incorporate some aspect of your personalities – his love of baseball or her love of the ballet – and theme the food, music and décor in that area on that aspect.

4.  Seat guests at tables of six to eight. Tables of ten can be overwhelming and don’t create a sense of camaraderie. There is always someone at some end of the table who doesn’t know what is going on at the other. It will cost you more in linens and centerpieces, but it will create a feeling that the wedding is smaller and more intimate.

Wedding reception

5.  Don’t choose enormous centerpieces that block conversation. Intimacy is created through interactions and relationships. Choose low centerpieces that allow visibility across tables.

Wedding Table Decor
6.  Enlist the help of your attendants to make guests feel at home. Your guests will recognize their role from their matching grey bridesmaid dresses and will naturally be more inclined to talk to them.

Greeting wedding guests

7.  Schedule a five-hour reception instead of four, and plan to spend a significant amount of that time greeting guests. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat – if your meal is seated, you could use a bit of extra time at the cocktail hour to have a small private meal, just the two of you, then circulate while your guests eat. Or, follow a stations model of food service instead of seated, then between small, freshly-prepared portions you can roam the room.

8.  Stay organized! It’s difficult to keep track of all of the details of a large wedding, but if you make the extra effort to keep your seating chart, guest meal preferences, escort card list and other such details organized, your guests will never suffer while your staff tries to “sort things out” at the last minute. Be conscientious and know that the more detail you can provide your servers about special dietary requests and guest needs, the better they can perform their jobs.

Wedding Favors

10.  Personalize the details throughout your wedding so every guest feels like they are part of your love story. Take the time before the wedding to handwrite tiny personal thank you notes on each guest favor, for example. You’ll have to start early, but your guests will surely appreciate your efforts.

 

Author Spotlight: Wendy Dessler is a super-connector with Outreachmama.com and Toweringseo.com who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

What to wear to your family portrait

What to Wear in your Family Portraits

I am constantly getting queried by clients on what to wear in your family portraits, so I thought that a handy dandy blog post on the subject matter was required! I promise, you are not the only head of household that’s been stressed by the daunting task of trying to figure out what to pack for your family vacation portrait session. It’s not that hard when you break it down simply, I promise!

What to wear at your family portrait

1.   You want to pick coordinating colors, but not matching!

For family portraits, it’s best if you pick 3 coordinating colors such as two brights and a neutral to work with so that everyone is coordinated but not too matchy-matchy.  This color wheel tool is a great way to choose complimentary coordinating base colors.

what to wear in your family portrait

2.  Use your accessories to add pops of your colors.

With two primary colors and one neutral, you can mix and match your colors as much as you want.  If someone in your family tends to be more subdued, they can still dress without bright colors and bring in that pop of coordinating color through their accessories.

What to wear at your family portrait

3.  Still stuck? Consider placement.

Are you filling space on one of your walls with a print from your session?  Consider the colors in your home (which are probably the ones that make you happy) when picking your color scheme.  If you love your orange and turquoise living room, then  start there!  If you’re a family of Aggies, don’t be hesitant to show off your colors!

What to wear in your family portrait

4.  Jewel tones work great but stay away from greens

Taking photos in the Tahoe forest?  Don’t blend in!  Greens don’t pop very well against our all green forest, but other jewel tones like dark blues, golds, and plums, look great!

what to wear in your family portrait

5.  Limit patterns, logos and branding.

Say no to anything with big logos or branding and limit patterns, especially on adults.  Patterns often tend to read too busy on adults.  That being said, small children in patterns is a great choice to compliment your color scheme!  It adds a mini-dose of fun to any portrait.

What to wear in your family portraits

6.  All white or all black: just say no.

All white?  Sends you straight back to the 90s yo!  This isn’t a Florida beach photo.

What to wear in your family portrait

7.  Keep it classy, San Diego.

Stay away from trends and hip current fashion.  Keep it classy and classic – especially when it comes to high school senior portraits.  It will prevent your photos from looking dated in a few years.